2007-08-24: DF: When Will It End


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Peter, Cass and Lachlan come home to find a very unpleasant surprise. Abigail has been kidnapped. (Thanks to Mel (or curses to Mel?) for NPCing!)

August 24th, 2009:

When Will It End

Cass and Lachlan's Apartment

By all accounts, nothing seems amiss on the exterior of the apartment inhabited by Lachlan and Cass. Everything is quiet, and there are just enough lights on to make it appear as though the apartment is calm, but occupied. The door is locked upon arrival, as it should be, with no visible signs of tampering. A television inside the apartment can just barely be heard through the door, some rerun of a sitcom complete with laugh track. Everything is quiet. That's never a good sign.

Quiet is never really a good sign in the Aldric-Deatley household, but then again, it can be also explained away. Abigail asleep, the television on and the babysitter trying to occupy herself. The lights are on, the door is locked, there's is nothing really that triggers in Cass' mind that something is amiss. "Thanks for the company, Peter." She glances over her shoulder at the man in question as she starts rooting around in her bag for her set of keys. Pulling them out, Cass turns the locks and moves to open the door. "It's weird to go from staying with everyone to suddenly being back at your own apartment again." Meaning to say it can get a bit lonely.

"No problem," Peter responds with a lopsided smile, following her quietly. Things have been tense with the Saints ever since Jack… well… ever since most of Jack disappeared without a trace. He's honestly needed some fresh air, and besides… "I've been looking forward to seeing Abby again." The baby happens to be about one of the nicest things about this timeline. One of the few things he doesn't want to change away. And he just plain likes kids, too. For example, he adores his brother's kids. Upon the door opening, he raises an eyebrow. "You two picked a good apartment." Always compliment the home, right?

Even when the door is open, nothing seems particularly awry, though the apartment does seem awfully lonely. The living room is empty, the television playing to an empty sofa. A cup of tea sits on the side table, but from the front door, it would be hard to say whether it's hot or cold. Everything is in its place, not a trinket or photo out of place.

Except for, you know, the nanny. Who should be in the living room, shouldn't she? Maybe she's in the wash— no, the washroom door is open, the light off. There's no one in there, either, it would seem. So where's the nanny?

Where is the nanny, indeed? Almost as soon as Cass is through the door, she's calling for her. She can't hear Abby fussing, so she tries to be quiet about it. Or, well, as quiet as she can be while trying to call out for someone. "Betty?" There's nothing out of place or wrong with the scene. "Thanks," she tells Peter with a small smile over her shoulder. "I'll let you hold her if she's not sleeping too soundly." Everything that has been going on with the Saints makes her want to stay with them, but she knows it's a dangerous time for her family to be anywhere near them. If their home base was compromised and they're planning revenge, she doesn't want Abigail anywhere near it. Pushing on past the living room, Cass makes for the baby's room. Maybe Betty's in there.

That's odd. Peter notices that something is amiss when the woman who lives in the apartment is asking for a woman. The babysitter? That's what he decides, stepping further into the apartment after her and closing the door. It isn't locked just yet, because he doesn't want to get too behind Cass. He steps further into the apartment after her, following in the direction of the baby's room. It's quiet.

The baby's room has one small desk lamp on, standing on a table beside the rocking chair. The back of the chair is facing the door, which is somewhat unusual for the nursery, though not necessarily a reason to sound the alarm just yet. It's clear that someone is sitting in the chair: a woman, slender and pale, with her blonde hair tied up into a knot at the back of her head. The chair is moving at a slow pace, the woman's feet thumping against the floor in an unnatural way. Every now and then, the chair creaks, a sound that would be obnoxious under any other circumstances, but under these, it's simply eerie.

The crib is empty.

By now, Cass' mommy sense is starting to go haywire. There's no answer from Betty and she can't hear any normal house sounds. No one is moving, no one is crying, no one is singing and sort of lullabies. For all intents and purposes, it sounds like she and Peter are the only ones in the apartment. The door to the baby's room opens, quietly hopeful, just in case she can't wake the baby. But, the crib is empty. Cass' eyes immediately go to the woman in the rocking chair, who isn't moving properly, the chair turned around in a different direction. This isn't right. This just isn't right. Almost sprinting forward, the mother steps in front of the rocking chair, desperately praying that she's just gone crazy. That everything is fine and Betty and Abby just fell asleep rocking.

Something is very wrong. Peter moves through the door to the nursery behind her and glances at the thumping feet, the only real noise in the apartment besides them. Then his eyes go to the empty crib. Smartly, he chooses not to touch anything just yet. Not for fear of messing with evidence, but for fear of sudden coma-vision, and Cass needs him right now if— if the woman rocking… not sleeping. In this world, he doubts that's the case. Still, he follows a few steps behind, smile gone, replaced by a serious, worried look.

They're right to be worried.

The woman in the chair might once have been pretty, with a sweet face and kind eyes. The low light makes it difficult to make sense of her features now, but the swelling and dark bruises flowering beneath pale skin are obvious even in the dark room. Her eyes are closed, her face so swollen and battered that there's little left by which to recognize the woman.

Her arms and legs are both secured to the chair by duct tape, slick with the same sticky blood that has stained her yellow dress. Several lacerations have made a mess of her arms and legs. Nothing, however, is nearly so brutal as the vicious wound in her neck: it's been cut straight across.

It's safe to say that Betty is no longer with them in the room. This is some hollow shell of the woman who was once Abby's nanny. There is no baby in her arms, but set in her lap is a note addressed to the Deatley family, written in unremarkable printing.

The sight of Betty sends the woman into something like hyperventilation. There's no response that could ever muster up the horror, the pain, the terror that Cass feels right now. Even despite all the wounds and the clearly cut throat that Betty has, the woman kneels down to attempt to check for a pulse on her wrists. Viciously she starts ripping at the the duct tape that keeps Betty's arms together, quietly going irrational. This isn't happening. This isn't happening. Despite her efforts, her hands are quite visibly shaking and the duct tape proves to be too strong to simply rip through. Falling backwards, she just puts a somewhat bloodied hand to her mouth in shock. This is not happening. The note is stared at with blank eyes. Slowly, she picks it up to read.

Son of a bitch. Though he has no way of knowing if it'd been a man or a woman who did this. Maybe later, when Peter doesn't need to stay awake, he'll delve into this deeper, but right now… He steps forward to get behind Cass, looking at the sight that turns his stomach, and lays a hand on her shoulder, offering her some physical support. He'd be holding her more if she didn't need to read the note, but he'll certainly be trying to read it with. God… "Cass…" This is terrible. Where's the baby? Who did this? Why? Hopefully the note will answer everything, but this… doesn't look good. He's pale, looks as if he may be ill at the sight, but after what he saw at the meat packing plant… this is almost tame. Only the possible fate of the baby is still churning his stomach.

It's at this time that the front door opens again, the fact that it's unlocked causing some minor unease in the man who steps inside. He's followed by the two Dobermans and Bonnie, all of which he took with him to work today — and all of which pick up the smell of blood and the general atmosphere of Something Amiss once they step in. Consequently, Lachlan is put even more on the alert from the signals he's getting from the dogs. "Cass?" he calls. There's blood in the apartment. It sends a chill down the Scot's spine.

//"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Deatley,

Your daughter is alive, for now. I can't promise she'll stay that way for long. If you want to see her again, be at the rally tomorrow afternoon. Come alone. Bring $50,000. You'll know me when you see me. I'll have your daughter.

If you draw attention from police or security, I will kill Abby.

See you there."//

There's no reply from Cass when either Peter or Lachlan call out for her. She's in her own world right now. One where Abigail hasn't been kidnapped. Just like those bad TV shows, Cass can't seem to believe that this is really happening. Dropping the note, she scrambles to her feet and all but flings herself out the door. Then, she's going to start checking through the bedroom, the bathroom, the closets, any hiding place she can find. Abigail has been stashed in one of them. She's going to find her. She's gone through too much to lose her daughter now. She's strangely silent on her quest, determined.

Go alone. To the rally. That makes Peter's jaw tighten. He knows what rally they're talking about. He took a flyer for it off of a building in Times Square when he first showed up here— the place he chose to go when he parted ways with Hiro because of a painting. He used the flyer to leave his first message to the wayward teleporter, who hasn't responded. He has no idea what happened to him. "Cass— we— we'll get her back somehow— you don't have to go alone, I can… I can go invisible." But this means they will have to leave the Saints out of it, because they… actually rather suck at being covert as far as he can see.


The Dobermans don't like Petrelli, the darker version of Peter, so when they see this version — and coupled with the tension in the air — they immediately start up with the protective posturing and noise. Bonnie joins in out of sheer confusion and a need to conform, however she looks more scared than anything. What's going on?

Lachlan quickly shushes the dogs with a snapped, "Shut it! Sit!" and a mental reprimand. Still bristling and grumbling, the dogs sit obediently, and the Scotsman heads deeper into the apartment, stuck between following the wandering Cass and approaching the stationary Peter. He looks extremely confused and extremely worried. "Get who back? The hell's goin' on?"

If Lachlan is expecting Cass to answer, he's sorely mistaken. Everything is focused on going from room to room, checking every nook and cranny. Even the ones that Abby is much to big to fit in. But, she has to check. If she doesn't check she'll stop moving and if she stops moving…she's not even sure what will happen. But it won't be good. Sorry, Peter, you're on your own to explain the situation. Or at least point Lachlan in the direction of the note.
Left to explain the situation, Peter winces and faces the father of the missing baby. There's worry in his eyes, dread in the set of his jaw. "Lachlan… Someone murdered your babysitter and kidnapped Abby. They're holding her for ransom. And they want us to go to the rally tomorrow." If he gets to say all of that, he'll be extremely surprised.

Peter gets to say it all, but only because the very words strike Lachlan dumb. The more the time traveler says, the more terrified and horrified the Scot grows. "Wh-wha'?!" His voice pitches into the shrill and, like Cass, he shoves past Peter into the baby's room — and when everything the man said is confirmed by what he finds there, Lachlan starts to tear through the apartment on his own search for Abby. It's much more destructive and violent than Cass', and the more he doesn't find her, the more agitated he grows. By the time he hits the kitchen, it's become less about finding Abby and more about working out frustrations. Jesus Christ, when does it end?!

By the time that Cass finished with her search, she's in the bedroom, clothes from the closet fallen off hangers in crumples by her feet. All the drawers have been opened, anything that could hide /anything/ has been opened and ruffled through. Abby isn't here. She's gone somewhere with someone who is dangerous enough to have killed their babysitter. Who wants money badly enough that they'll kidnap a little three month old. Almost as if gravity suddenly started exerting more force on her, she sinks to the ground. When /does/ it end? Where is her daughter?

While the two search, Peter looks around the room where the murder took place instead, trying to see if he can notice anything like… murder weapon. Unfortunately he's not a detective, and using the one ability that could help him will knock him out for a while— possibly longer than a few hours. He's been using it a lot the last few days for the Jack incident. Abby's just as important, but the black outs got longer each time, instead of shorter. And if they have to go to the rally… When does it end? For him, when he goes back and changes this…

Lachlan winds up in the bedroom not long after and, spotting Cass on the floor, he drops down next to her in his usual awkward half-kneel and wraps her up in his arms. "C'mere," he murmurs. He just got Cass back, and now Abby is gone. It's amazing that the man hasn't snapped yet. "Peter an' me'll get 'er back." Because he knows where that rally is, and Cass is not ever going there.

It's a testament to how bad the past days have been that Cass has not broken down yet, either. It's close, she's shaking and when Lachlan wraps her up into her arms, she sags against him. How much worse can it get? How much more can they take? She takes deep, deep breaths, steadying herself against Lachlan and resting her head on her shoulder. It's a little while before she trusts herself to speak and even when she does, her reply is a quiet and unsteady thing. "I'm coming with you."

"Cass— please. We'll… you don't have to go," Peter says, trying his best to think of some way that they can do this without something bad happening to Abby. The note said they'd kill her… "It doesn't say you have to be the one to give them the money. Maybe you can stay off to the side, away from the— you don't have to go, Cass." It's a rally. And it's the future. There were dead bodies, and he's sure there will be many people there— and she had been one of them. He looks towards Lachlan. Make her stay. Somehow.

The painting had also featured rally signs. Lachlan knows it well. It's burned permanently into his mind's eye. His way to make Cass stay is simple: "Nah, yer no'. We can handle it. Yer stayin' here." Fin.

If /only/ it were that simple. Cass is no idiot, she knows what rally is implicated in that note. She knows what may happen. But, her daughter will be there. And they may kill her. Angrily, she pulls away from Lachlan and levels him with an angry stare, one that is just barely keeping tears back. The woman is obviously /just barely/ keeping it together. "If you think I am staying behind while some /murderer/ has our child, you are insane. I am her /mother/! Of /course/ I have to go. What…what if she starts crying and you can't make her stop, and that makes the guards come and…" there are so many scenarios that are going on in her head. "This is our daughter's life we're talking about."

There's something Peter could do to make her stay. He knows it. She knows it. He doesn't think Lachlan knows it… but he could try. However… "It's your decision. But I'm going even if I have to go invisible." That'll limit his usefulness. He can't try to read minds in the crowd, and he won't be able to do anything to increase his ability to see. But at least… at least he'll be there if something goes wrong. Which a painting from two years ago (or a few months to him) already says will.

The fact that he could lose Abby in all this is stressful enough. Lachlan doesn't need the added horror of the possibility of Cass dying as well. He's very steadfast on this point, even in the face of his wife's anger. "Yer no' comin'," he restates very firmly. "'M no' gonna lose ye both."

Cass knows what it is that Peter can do to make her stay. And if he did that, she would never forgive him. Ever. No matter how steadfast he is on that point, the woman has made up her mind. Come hell, high water or old paintings, there is nothing that is going to keep her from rescuing her daughter. "You can't stop me, Lachlan. Even if you go with Peter, I'll go on my own. I'll find a way. You're /not/ going to lose me. It's just a stupid painting. It means nothing. If /either/ of you make me stay home because of some strip of canvas while my /daughter/ is in danger I will /never/ forgive either of you." Finally, the tears start to roll down her cheeks. "I need to see her. I just need to see that she's okay. I can't stay here. I can't stay here knowing she could die and I won't ever hold her again. To know I should have been there to stop it."

There's a long pause, and Peter looks towards Lachlan. Part of him can live with never being forgiven. He's living for it with himself, for the same ability. He closes his eyes and rubs on his forehead. "Whatever you decide, I'll be there with you." And maybe he'll be able to stop what was supposed to happen.

"Goddamn it, Cass!" If ever there was an argument that Lachlan wanted to win, this is it. Unfortunately, it looks like he's losing. He wants to shake her and make her stay behind, but he knows that if he does, she'll hate him. And she might even go on her own — where he can't protect and watch over her. The Scot's face is contorted into a steely, very displeased scowl. He's not happy with this. Her stubbornness is rankling. "Fine. But yer no' wanderin' off on yer own no matter wha'. Ye stick with Peter 'r me."

This isn't really an argument that Cass feels /good/ about winning. It's not about winning or losing. It's about their daughter and her safety. If putting hers on the line is what will make her daughter safer, that's what she will do. It may be the rally that Peter painted, but like they've said all along, futures aren't set in stone. They can be changed. Wiping the tears off of her face, she gives a nod. "Fine." It's not like she /wants/ to get herself killed. This is about Abby, not about her.

"We— probably shouldn't inform the Saints," Peter says with a grimace. "They're— Jack's already… missing." Not dead. Missing. Always missing. "And they might— they're not the best at avoiding attention." He grimaces. He hates keeping something like this from them. But… he looks towards Cass, "Do you have a way to get ahold of the money without going through Eric?" Eric's the money man, he knows that. Fifty thousand actually isn't that much to a Petrelli. Minor blackmail. But to them… it might be quite a lot.

This is about both of them, at least to Lachlan. They're the two most important people in his life right now, and he certainly does not want to lose either one, let alone sacrifice one for the other. He would rather lay down his life for both of them. The Scot shakes his head at Peter. "Nah, they dunna need ta get involved." Astonishingly, he agrees with the entire assessment about their being able to go stealth. They don't need an explosive scene — considering. And $50,000 is certainly not easy money. They don't have it just lying around. "Migh' be able ta scrape up somethin'." Speaking of scraping, he glances toward the bedroom door. "We're gonna have ta get rid o' the body ourselves." No police.

Cass doesn't know how to get the money without Eric. They're not exactly the richest people in New York. The Saints aren't exactly covert operation sorts. "I-I can talk to Lee? The Alliance may have it." Abby is like a niece to Nima and Lee. They'd be willing to help and she trusts them to keep it under wraps. The glance toward the door isn't missed. The thought of Betty, poor Betty brings her face into her hands again. How much more must they go through? "We're not just going to dump her somewhere," she says firmly. "She deserves better than that."

"Only other place I know of that's safe is the Zoo," Peter says with a grimace, looking between the two of them. That's literally it. He only knows of two places to go to that are safe. He went to Bat Country, but well… that didn't turn out to be as safe. "I could take her there while you gather up the money."

"Yeah." Lachlan starts to get to his feet again, letting out a low grunt and grimacing in pain at his knee. He's so tired. They should have been in Scotland by now. They should have left earlier. "Let's go wrap 'er up."

"The zoo." Cass is fine with that. As long as Daphne doesn't mind them handing over a corpse without much explanation. They'll find the money, they'll somehow get whatever they need. They'll get Abby back. That's what they need to do. Standing, she reaches out to take Lachlan's hand. She's just so tired with what the future keeps giving them. They should be in Scotland. Right now, she just wants to curl up with Lachlan and Abigail and sleep until the world fixes itself. But, she knows that's not possible.

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