2007-04-16: What's My Age Again?


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Summary: After the night's foray into illegal drag racing, Peter sees the Gomez siblings home from the Den of Iniquity and finds out more about their family life. Elena finds out more about Peter's childhood. Both he and Elena discover they suck at age-guessing.

Date It Happened: April 16, 2007

What's My Age Again?

Gomez Apartment, Queens, New York

The cab ride is quick, and it was approaching one in the morning. She didn't even know how she was going to begin explaining to her father just -why- the hell Manny was here and not in Albany. She could sense the headache, and she can practically see the yelling-fest between the two Gomez males in her head. Having opened the main door to the building, Elena walks up the steps, Manny walking up and being rather quiet and KNOWING, as well as she did, that he'll have to face Papa tomorrow. She unlocks the apartment door for all of them, and Manny slips inside. He heads into his bedroom quietly, and closes the door behind him. She exhales, and looks at Peter. "Wait here," she says quietly, and heads inside the apartment. She's gone for a few minutes, but they're short.

The door opens quietly again, and Elena steps out, closing the door behind her. She's got two cans of Pepsi with her, and she offers the cold beverage to Peter. "I'd invite you in," she says softly, trying not to wake anyone. "But Papa's already sleeping on the couch. She hangs her head a bit, leaning against the wall and cracking open her soda. "God. I don't know how I'm going to face Jack the next time I see him," she frets softly. "Did you see his car? I'm surprised it was even running."

When he's told to wait, Peter waits, sticking his hand into his pocket to pull out his phone as he leans against the wall. When she opens the door again after a few minutes, it's apparent that he's either rearranging things on the digital screen, or sending a text message to someone. Likely the last one, because he clicks a few more buttons with his thumbs, and then puts the phone away to take the Pepsi, opening the can with the same hand he holds it in. "No, it's okay. I'd hate to wake him too." His voice is soft, pausing to take the first drink before he adds on, "Not sure how you're going to hide all of this from a mind reader, though."

Glancing back towards the door, as if wondering if the man can read minds through walls and from a distance, before he looks back at the young woman, "I'm sure Jack'll forgive you. From the sounds of the radio, he's the one who started the reckless driving. He knew what he was doing when he did that." Sure, he's not the one who started the rear-ending, but…

"Also knew you were doing it to help out your little brother." Which brings him to a thought, which causes his eyes to slide away from her and towards the door. "You're the oldest, right? Manny's sixteen, but— how old are the others?"

"That's a good question. Besides, I promised my father I won't be hiding things from him anymore," Elena says softly. "He got really mad when he found out I went in to break you out. In the Company facility. I mean, I was so afraid how he'd react. I was always…you know. Crime-free. And then I go from crime-free to breaking and entering. I just didn't want him to worry, especially with his blood pressure the way it is. I've been trying to make sure he eats better." She rakes a hand through her tousled hair and exhales another breath. She rolls her head back, thumping the back of her skull against the wall. "I just hate the fact that I managed to involve you two in this."

When Peter tells her that Jack started the reckless driving, she nods. "I know. I have to make it up to him though. Maybe I can help him fix the car - I always wanted to learn." She grins ruefully. "I actually like classic cars better than the newfangled sportscars that're so popular these days."

At the last, she looks at the door. "Manny's sixteen," she repeats. "He turns seventeen this year. Luis is fourteen…but he turns fifteen this year, and Juanita, my little sister. She's turning eight this week," she tells Peter with a smile. "I don't know what kind of cake I'm going to be making for her yet."

"So that's what you fought about," Peter says, flinching a bit and running his free hand over his short hair. Yeah, that won't be the easiest way to deal with things… "I'm sorry. I wish I could have told you guys not to break me out. It seems to have caused more problems than it's fixed…" It made Jane lose her memories, it forced Noah to betray people… sure, he needed to do it anyway. But he can't help but feel guilty that she lost her crime-free life trying to help him… Even if she's apologizing for involving them. "I think the people we met there regret us being involved more."

Lost a car, got punched, got ran over… yeah, they regret it more, most likely.

"I could try to help too, though I don't really know a thing. I can drive, but I wouldn't consider that a step towards fixing a car." It doesn't sound like a terrible idea to try and help out, though, at least a little.

When she explains the ages of her siblings, though, he nods carefully, looking back at her again. At the last one, his eyebrows raise, "Eight? This week? Wow— um— well, I've always been a fan of chocolate, personally. With lots of frosting." In short, the normal cake. "That's a pretty big age difference between the last two." And brings to mind a question he's been wondering about, "How old are you?"

"Yeah. I didn't want to tell you at first because I know you'd feel bad about it," Elena says with a soft chuckle, shaking her head. "But I don't regret it, at the very least. I mean, it's funny but….I don't think all of us, me, Drake, Eric, Lachlan, Jack….we wouldn't have all gotten as well-acquainted if we weren't through that together. High stress situations work like cement when it comes to the bonds of people facing them together. I'd rather know them all now, than not know them at all." She takes another sip of her Pepsi. "And it's okay, Peter. I mean, no one could've seen what happened coming in the first place. We can't all be psychic. We just have to keep on moving forward is all." When he mentions the other people, she lets out a quiet laugh. "Yeah, definitely. Especially Carlos."

She pauses, and winces. "….the impact probably cracked a few ribs. But he was so drunk he probably won't feel it until later." She wrinkles her nose at the thought.

She nods. "We can ask Jack," she says, nodding enthusiastically. "I'm sure he could use a few hands. It looks like a big job." She groans. "It also looked like he really loved that car too. I mean…he -named- it." Julia. Julia the GTO.

She nods, a smile on her face. "Yep, this week. And she is fond of chocolate, I should do something with that. But she'd eat anything sweet, she has the worst sweettooth out of all of us." When he asks his question, she grins at him mischievously. "Well…" she teases. "How old do you think I am?"

"I'm glad it brought about a few good things, then," Peter explains, though still looks marginally broody as he takes a drink from the Pepsi that she bright to him. With his eyes on the door, he winces at the mention of poor Carlos, who not only had a steel jaw, but got pretty badly injured by the car running into him. "Honestly haven't hit many people. I think I might have caught a piercing, or something— or maybe his teeth, I'm not sure…" But it FELT like he hit something a lot more solid than regular flesh and bone.

"Probably fixed her up himself, since he named her, treated her like his kid, even. If nothing else I'm sure we could pass him tools, or something, to make up for it," he nods, looking back to smile faintly.

Eight year old with a sweet tooth? Never… he doesn't believe it. But then she turns around and asks the question. How old does he think she is?

A nervous glance away, when he's put on the spot, he ponders outloud for a few moments, "Well, I know you're in college…and sounded like you were only recently starting out. And— uh…" He ends up rubbing his knuckle under his nose, before he makes a guess, "Twenty?"

"I know. I mean….I've never really seen you -regenerate- before. It was interesting," Elena says, watching him even as he broods against the wall thinking about the facility. She reaches out to touch him lightly on the arm. "Seriously don't worry about it. I think if you asked any of us, we would've said we would've done it anyway. I know I would've. It was the only way to find out a few things. It can't be helped," she says in quiet reassurance. But when he mentions that he hasn't hit many people, she smiles. "To tell you the truth, I was getting a little worried. I mean, not because you looked scared or anything…" She pauses, and she laughs quietly. "It was just…you looked so damned -mad-. I've never seen you look angry before. And it's not even a subtle thing. It's in the eyes. You have dangerous eyes, Peter."

It was the only way she could describe what she saw. But she nods. "I agree. Plus…I think the car was modified in some way." She ponders on it a bit. "I wouldn't put it past Jack to hide surprises in the car. I mean, what do you think caused the other car to go up like that? There had to have been something."

When he gives his best guess, she grins at him. "Close," she says with a laugh, glancing down at her can. "I turned 19 three weeks ago," she tells him.

"I was only angry because they involved you…" Peter tries to explain, looking somewhat embarassed as he's called on his 'dangerous eyes'. The look he'd had could definitely have been called intense, though he didn't seem as if he was enjoying it. "They were holding onto you, and the way they talked about you… I didn't like it. They were treating you like an object, no better— possibly even worse— worse than they treat their cars." Running a hand over his hair, he glances down at the remnant of dried blood still on his knuckles when his hand lowers, and then looks back at her.

"Wouldn't surprise me. Like something out of a movie." They always have secret weapons on cars in spy movies, and even some normal hollywood movies. And she said he had a hollywood vibe around him…

But her age catches him off guard, even if he'd been really close. He blinks in surprise, straightening off the wall a little, "Nineteen? And— three weeks ago? I'm sorry I missed your birthday… I would have bought you something…" Doing the math in his head, he can't help but give a mild shake, really surprised. "If I didn't know that you'd just started college recently I— would have thought you were older. You— don't really talk like your still a teenager. And you look older, too."

She shrugs. "Unfortunately that's part of the culture too, somewhat," Elena says. "Mama had a theory a long time ago that latina women were born fiery because we had to be, otherwise the men would just try and steamroll all over us." She deposits her empty can in the trash can nearby, her back to Peter as she slides her hands in her pockets. "I've seen that happen around here. Was kind of determined not to turn out the same way." She looks over her shoulder at him and smiles ruefully. "Granted that's not -always- the case, you know. They're also thugs, and goons, and it's not like they're the smartest people in the planet. You were just in the wrong place to see all of that, is all. I'm still a little ashamed you had to see all of that at all."

She pivots, leaning against the wall again next to him, trying to keep her voice low in the empty hallway. It was late, after all.

When he says the things he does, her jaw drops as she stares at him. "You….you think I look -old-?" she says, a look of horror entering her face.

But then she grins, before he seriously starts to think he offended her. She shakes her head. "Yeah. I don't really talk like my age. I don't know. I was in debate team in high school, I wrote for the school paper, I was in Academic Decathalon…" If he ever saw her bedroom, he'd find the Wall of Overachievement taking up the back. "I was in Student Council, I managed to get into a really snooty prep school. I had to organize fund raisers, and I started the school's community outreach program while I was still there. I don't think people would've listened to me if I totally like, talked like this." Complete with valley girl accent.

And then, she laughs, shaking her head. "Don't worry about it," she tells him. "I don't really celebrate my birthday anyway…my friends just round me up for dinner, Papa gives me extra cash, and that's about it."

"I'm glad you're too fiery to let people treat you like that, then," Peter conceeds, as if he's realized something. Glancing over at her, he looks at her face for a long moment. At which point he has to quickly correct, "No, no, not /old/… just… older. If- I might have guessed twenty-two if I hadn't known you were younger than that." He'd hoped it would be a compliment, not an insult— which the grin does correct, at least.

"Probably not," he adds with a smile, a hint tugging on the corner of his lip as she talks like a valley girl. It sounds quite different, really, not like her at all. "I wouldn't have known the first thing to get you, honestly. I'll- have to think of something for a late present, though. Once I know you better." Knowing her age is a good start…

Pausing to take a drink from the Pepsi she brought him, he also keeps his voice down before he continues, "Honestly just thought you were closer to my age. Not too close to my age, but- closer. Instead you're only two years older than my niece."

"Well, I have an ace up my sleeve if anything," Elena says with a wicked grin, wiggling her fingers. She expels a breath. "I just couldn't….you know. It's not something I can unleash in a place like that. I had to be subtle, otherwise…." She sticks her hand back into her pockets. "The fact that booze was flowing oh-so-freely made an excellent cover." She confirms Peter's suspicions that she was the reason why they didn't have to worry about anyone else, not after Carlos was punted by the back of a Pontiac GTO. But she does smile at him. "Relax," she says with a laugh. "I'm giving you crap, Peter. It's okay. If it makes you feel better, you're not the only one who's thought that. I managed to fool the bouncer in Jack's bar that I was at least 21 one time."

She shakes her head and grins. "Seriously, Peter. Don't worry about it," she tells him simply. "Really. I mean, I'm just grateful over the fact that you're still hanging out with me despite the relative poverty, and the crazy costume antics, and the juvenile delinquent brother, and the scary father…" She can go on and on and on.

She nods, with a hint of a smile. "…to be honest, I thought you were too. I mean, you can look pretty babyfaced," she points out. "I pegged you to be 23 at most."

"I had to hold back, too," Peter admits, thinking back to how he felt at the time when the whole thing started. There was a lot going on, he somehow missed the car exploding not too far away… "If it'd lasted much longer, or if they'd hurt you… Not sure I could have stuck to just using my fists." That admission is not one he's proud of, at all. A shrug follows, as he tries not to feel too guilty about it.

The topic of age? It's almost easier. Apologetic look aside, as she tells him not to worry, he blinks again when she says how old she thought /he/ happens to be. There's a pause, and then he reaches into his pocket and pulls out his wallet with his free hand. It isn't an easy thing to do while holding a can in the other, but he works in flipping it open and fingering the card until it comes out. His driver's license.

"Don't see why you'd think your family's financial status would have any affect on us being friends. Or even your brother's record. I'm friends with you, Elena. Not your family's money, or lack of it, or your brother's record. …and the costume just made me smile, which was the whole point." Lifting the hand holding the card up, he nudges her chin with his knuckles, the unwounded ones, and then turns the card to face her. It's an older picture, when he had longer hair that almost hung into his eyes, but it's him. "And I'm twenty-seven." The New York state license confirms this, even showing his birthday as being two days shy of Christmas.

When he shrugs, there's a pause, before Elena releases one hand from her pocket. She turns to her side, so her shoulder rests against the wall, so she could look at him and lift a hand to rest reassuringly on his shoulder. "There's no pain they can dole out on me that I can't take away on my own, even if I know that's not the point," she tells him simply. "And I know I said I'm a wussy, but I'm not made out of glass either," she reminds him softly. "I'm glad you were able to though, there were too many people. I was actually praying you wouldn't. Otherwise…" Otherwise people would've freaked.

She drops her hand when he fumbles around, quirking her brows curiously as he pulls out his wallet. Her chin is nudged up gently, so she's forced to look at him, and she smiles faintly. "I went to a snooty school, remember?" she points out. "Been taught to believe all you rich folk are cut out of the same mold. I've eased up a little bit on that, I think….besides, you're so nice. It's difficult to be prejudiced when you're always so considerate." And shows her his…driver's license? She looks at the card, doing the math…and stares at him. "You're -twenty-seven-?" she blurts out in surprise, her dark eyes sweeping over his features. "….are you -serious-?"

She scrutinizes his hair, and she smiles, her fingernail sliding over the card. "I think I actually like your hair a little longer than it is now," she says. "Not much, shorter than this, but… a little longer than how you have it now."

"Even if it goes away— Told Jack I'd take care of you," Peter says, blaming the Irish for his own protective streak. He would have tried to keep all harm from her anyway, even without the promise. The hand on his shoulder is welcomed, and he doesn't shrug out of it, keeping his voice soft in case the neighbors or her father happen to be wandering around and might hear them. Or to keep from making them up, too.

"A lot of us are, but— I haven't been /rich/ since I quit law school. Still have plenty of savings, and trust funds, but I did a lot of volenteer work and odd jobs while going to school, and paid my own way through nursing school— you'd be surprised how little a starting hospice nurse gets paid. Charles— my patient— used to tease me about making barely minimum wage." Though he actually made a bit more than that…

"Yeah- twenty-seven," he says to her blurting, glancing towards the door as if worried that it'd been heard. "…I like my hair longer too, but they cut it off when I first got to the facility." The hand holding the card raises up, touching be back of his hand against his hair, before he tries to slip the id back into his wallet. One handed. "Probably will grow it out again, least a little… So you really thought I was twenty-three?" There's a hint of a laugh in his voice.

"Ah huh," Elena says, giving him a flat look. She isn't fooled, but she does smile, rolling her head back and rubbing her fingertips on the juncture where the neck met the shoulder. "Thank you, though," she tells him sincerely. "For looking out for me. I mean…it's never my intent to do so, really. I hate worrying other people. I try to stay out of trouble -because- I hate worrying other people. I guess it's bound to happen eventually. It just…happens more often these days." A serious expression falls on her face as she glances away, a sudden thought striking her along the same vein, but she doesn't articulate it.

She looks over at him and smiles. "I know," she says. "I've been to your place, I know you have some semblance of a normal life. Plus….you're like the black hole of Arrogance. There's none of it." She chuckles, her fingertips lifting to her mouth to stifle the sound from coming out further. "Don't worry about it, I was a kid then, and angry. I was angry about a lot of things. I just….channeled it differently than anyone in my position." By working her ass off.

She reaches out, to take the other end of his wallet to steady it so he could slip the card in without much trouble. But at the laugh, she grins at him sheepishly. "Yeah. I don't really know why actually," she says with a quiet laugh. "I think it's because you look really young, and you act like it at times. With the balloon art and everything."

"Trouble keeps finding you," Peter says with a nod, a teasing smirk tugging on the corner of his mouth, before he looks down, shifting on his feet. The black hole of arrogance certainly embarasses him. "Guess my brother can be arrogant enough for the two of us," he teases, poking fun at his non-present brother, before he nods to the rest. Picturing her angry is a surprise, but… "I guess I can see how you'd not like your situation. Having to go through so much, and knowing so many people had more than you— and with what happened to your mom…" It's a sad story, really. Something he can't /quite/ understand… but…

Putting his wallet away after she's helped him put away the ID, he turns to face her a bit more and laughs, reaching up to touch his own forehead again for a few seconds. "Well- the balloon art was kind of spur of the moment. I like being the cool uncle, you know? I've also— learned to appreciate certain things. Dying— knowing the world could end at any moment… if it'd been a flower shop, I probably would have bought some flowers instead…"

So it's kind of a 'stop and smell the roses' kind of thing. Or in that case… get balloon animals made. "I think you act older, so it's fair." He's not insulted. "Though, I'm starting to wonder how old Jack thinks I am," he can't help but toss out with a laugh.

"Yeah…..I wonder if Life's trying to prepare me for something," Elena says, crossing her arms over her chest and glancing down to the floor, smirking down at her dancing shoes. So much for going out with the girls tonight. "Remember….when we talked about Destiny being on our side. I'm wondering if this all isn't just to prepare me for something else that's harder than anything I've ever imagined." A contemplative look softens the lines of her face, her lashes lowering over her eyes in thought. "All things for a reason." She falls silent after a while, but she shakes her head and looks up, quirking that same smile at him. "And he could be, he -was- a Congressman after all," she teases.

She nods, and she grins. "You must've been a nightmare as a kid," she teases. "Following wherever your heart takes you. I wonder if you got lost often. I can see you being this little dark-haired tot going 'Ooooh shiny' and following it around until your parents lost track of you." She tries to picture it in her head, and she can't help but laugh. "But it's cool," she says with a nod, a smile on her lips. "You trying to be the cool uncle."

At the last, she laughs. "Even if you told him, he wouldn't care," she says, shaking her head. "Jack's got a protective streak an ocean wide, and just as deep. He sees himself as everybody's brother. Except Lachlan. Lachlan's on his own." And she KNOWS its true. Not like Lachlan can't take care of himself. She's seen him bash someone on a countertop in a fury over and over and over again. "Then again….Lachlan can take care of himself. I've seen the man beat someone up with a potato." A pause, and she looks resigned as she sighs. "-My- potato."

"Could be, yeah," Peter says, thoughtfully watching her expression for a time. She's very pretty, and the look as she thinks certainly draws his attention for a little while. "I mean— there's so much going on. We have a purpose— and it could be that all of this is just… preperation for something bigger. Not sure— I'd like to think that the threats won't just keep coming— but there's— I dunno, you might be right. It's like destiny is moving us along, one… level at a time, causing us to evolve personally as much as our species is evolving…" Now he's drawing on all the talk of Darwin, and the pigeons…

Laughing, he reaches over and touches the tip of her nose, "Actually I was the kid who only dreamed about chasing things and never did it. Followed my heart a bit, but— guess you could say I didn't have the confidence to just follow whatever I dreamed of— not until I started having the dreams of flying— and not until I saw Isaac's painting of me jumping off a roof. Until I tried to fly— I didn't really have the confidence to do anything about what I wanted— it took me a whole year of law school, after finishing pre-law, before I followed my heart and went to nursing school instead."

Wait, what? Potato? "…I don't think I want to know about that one," he says with a laugh, shaking his head. After a few moments, he glances towards his watch and gives a small sigh. "I should let you get to bed. It's getting late, and you'll have to talk to your dad tomorrow… Maybe we could get together in a couple days and go on that…" There's a pause, and he very nearly called it a date. "..Whatever it was that would require a camera…?"

"Yeah," Elena says somewhat absently, only marginally aware of his words…but she listens. And then she exhales, rubbing the back of her neck as she looks over at him. "I can't help but be a little bit worried, if we're pushed one level at a time, higher and higher, it just gets more difficult. And when it gets more difficult, more and more people along the way will fall." She pauses. "…I lost my mother recently, I can't…" Her voice breaks at the last, but she clears her throat and rolls her head back to rest against the wall again. "But you're right. If anything, I welcome the chance to be more prepared. Even if it's just to be prepared to move before the tornado arrives, if we can't stop it."

When he touches the tip of her nose, and at the sound of his laugh, the melancholy mood drops, and she grins at him. "But you eventually did it," she says. "I think as long as you -get there-, you're golden. There have been whole anthologies written, whole stories, about someone discovering that the journey is actually more important than the end. Odysseus. Childe Roland. Alice in Wonderland." Her smile broadens at the last. "Maybe the same applies to you."

She nods, and when he reminds her of the time, she can't help the yawn, lifting her hand to stifle it from escaping her mouth further. She nods, pushing away from the wall slowly. "Yeah, I better rest up. It's going to be a rough morning tomorrow," she says, glancing at the door. "But yeah, definitely." She grins. "Keep your mind off -tonight-, at the very least. I mean, it's a little unusual but….I think for the purposes of the mission, it'll work." She lifts her head to meet his eyes, and she smiles again, a touch fainter this time. "Rest well. And thanks for everything, Peter."

A few months ago, while laying in the cells in the Company facility, Peter couldn't have believed that things could get /worse/ than the bomb. Sure, they can, but it doesn't change his hope that they would not get worse, that /he/ would somehow be the most terrible and dangerous thing. Of course, Sylar survived, so that came back to be a threat, and there's even more… "We'll stop it. There's no way we can evacuate the entire city on a painting, even if my brother's a former Congressman." He's not sure he has the political ties anymore to do that…

Unable to keep from smiling at her use of fiction, comparing him to some great heroic journeys, he reaches up and pushes hair off of her forehead gently, nodding. Again, she's right, but he doesn't need to express how much. The gesture should be enough.

"I'll get some rest— and while I'm not sure what the /mission/ is… I'll do my best to keep my mind off of tonight. Live in the now?" he teases, before he starts to back up a bit. "You're welcome," he says with more than a hint of an expressive, if lopsided, smile, before turning around and starting down the stairs towards the lower stories, and the door, picking his phone out of his coat to call a cab.

She can hope. If she loses that, then all this would've been for nothing. "I know," she says, nodding determinedly and her pliant mouth forming a quiet line. She doesn't look grim, but Elena over the years had mastered the art of looking stubborn. She'll do whatever it takes. Her life was here. Like hell was she going to let some cosmic phenomenon get in the way.

When her hair is pushed back, she blinks a little bit - though again the gesture isn't unwelcome. Peter was an affectionate guy, and it was a characteristic they shared. She smiles back. No words needed to be said, so long as he understood, it was enough for her.

"Live in the now," she agrees, giving him a sage nod. "Stay safe," she says, giving him a wave, and turns so she could open the door of the apartment quietly and peek inside. Watching for a few moments, she steps further within, and closes the door behind her.

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