Face It

Participants:

elle_icon.gif peter5_icon.gif

Scene Title Face It
Synopsis Prisoner 000000001 receives a visitor who technically isn't supposed to be there. Turns out thirty minutes isn't nearly enough time for everything Elle wants…
Date March 27, 2009

Moab Federal Penitentiary - Red Level


In many ways, this place has the same charms as Level-5.

In many ways, that isn't the most welcome sight to its current visitor.

The Moab Federal Penitentiary is a marvel of engineering, designed by the Company and constructed by government contractors for the American government. The facility houses just under one hundred Evolved prisoners at current, but only one in particular is receiving a personal visit from the Company inspector sent to follow up on Nathan Petrelli's claims of potential abuse in the facility.

So far, the place has seemed to be more than accomodating. Prisoners on the medium-security level are afforded recreation time in outside yards, cells are single-inmate and given a modicum of comfort, and while it is a prison, it doesn't seem to be a terrible place to be. There are worse state penitentiaries that these men and women could be sealed awayt in.

Yellow level has more of a Company vibe to it, the first subterranean level and high security. No windows to the outside, more prevailent and heavier armed security guards, and no sign of inmates having freedom of movement out of their confinement areas. It's only once the Company Inspector has gained access to the elevator to Red Level, when things become questionable.

Red Level is comparable to Level-5 in design, though without the plate glass observation windows. Reinforced mechanical doors seal numbered cells away from view on a single, long hall that circles around a central security chamber that — according to the Moab personnel — requires special access for visitors, clearance not even Elle Bishop came here with.

But it isn't the heart of Moab's anti-evolved security she truly came down to Red Level to see. It is the cell reserved for Prisoner 000000001 — Peter Petrelli.

"It… would be a might bit easier if'n you could come back in a few days, Miss. Right now we're runnin' some interrogation on this particular prisoner." The Moab Warden is a swarthy Texan, the kind of southern jailer you'd expect to see on the side of a road running a chain-gang with a shotgun, the stereotypical hardass prison guard from movies. It's almost laughable to hear the drawling accent and see him in uniform. "Ya'll Homeland Security types just can't keep on comin' in and openin' up his cell. He's a bit of a problem prisoner, so Ah'd much appreciate it if we could cut our little tour short."

It's obvious to Elle, that this warden doesn't know who he's dealing with. That he doesn't know daddy's girl always gets her way.

Darn right daddy's girl always gets her way. It's one of the reasons why Elle was a candidate to come here, besides the more personal, always-attractive prospect of flexing influence over the prisoners here. No time or eye for fooling around. Besides, what with the long plane ride into Moab only this morning, Elle isn't exactly in the best of moods, though the face she presents to the warden is both sweet and deceptively patient.

"I don't live here." The blonde calmly draws herself uncomfortably closer to the warden, a gimlet look in her eyes. Under normal circumstances, this would be a one-sided match: a slim, bright-haired woman impertinently eying a man much, much brawnier than she, an air of severe expectation about her. Her arms are folded against her chest, her hair free to fall about her shoulders in waves. "I don't have all the time in the world. I know Petrelli is a problem prisoner; it's why I'm here." Duh. "If you don't believe I have the authority to be here, just get me your supervisor - right now - and I'll tell him all about how you wasted the time of an official visitor."

The Warden's sigh is a thing of epic size, his head shaking as he wordlessly moves to the intercom system beside the large door. "Verse," he calls out inside, "Inspector wants a moment with your boy. Call it lunch, a'right?" His finger moves off of the button, and the warden peers towards Elle over the top of his low-set aviator sunglasses. "You got yourself thirty minutes, then you'll be outta' time. So make your words count, not that I expect he'll have anythin' to say to you."

While the warden talks, the door begins to move on its own. Heavy steel reunforcements slide into the wall to the left and right, unlocking the door as it begins to receed into the floor with a scraping of metal on metal. Behind the eight inch thick steel door, a pair of barred cell doors retract into the walls, revealing a cramped cell chamber featuring what evokes memories of a dentist's chair, but with more restraints.

Draped in orange fineries of prison garb, Peter Petrelli looks so vastly different from the last time Elle saw him. His hair is long, almost chin length and a stubbled beard has grown in across his jaw. Sweat slicks his brows, eyes half lidded, arms, legs and head restrained by straps that keep him bound to the chair. At his side, stand a man much his counterpart. Dressed in matte black clothing with short, dark hair and sunglasses, he is like an inky silhouette in the room. Pulling on his leather gloves, the man in the long, black coat — Agent Verse of the Department of Homeland Security — begins making his way out of the cell.

"Miss Bishop," he states flatly, tugging his gloved on tighter.

Elle's smile grows sweeter and a little triumphant, though it's not even faux-friendly. Thirty minutes will be all she needs. Her eyes immediately slip above the warden's beefy shoulder into the deepness of the cell; she waits until both men are nearly completely out of the way before she starts her own measured, calculated advance. If she is at all surprised at what she sees in the man who was once so concerned with rescuing her, it does not show.

This might almost be an everyday Company visit. Almost. In contrast to the bearded, disheveled Peter, the agent is neat in a blue professional blazer and a black pencil skirt, and it's very difficult to read what feelings might be playing across her chest as she takes in the changed sight - if any are at all. Her first word, a wry breath as she draws boldly near him: "Peter."

Hazy eyes look up half-lidded to Elle as she comes in, like something out of a dream plucked free and dropped in this concrete and steel nightmare. Once she's in the cell, the security doors begin sliding shut again to effetively seal her in with this inmate, with the man who in one form or another was once her coworker, was once someone who was deeply concerned for her well being. Now, the tables are potentially reversed.

"…are… you real?" Peter's words come off in a slurred exhalation, and she can see the IV tubes going into his right arm, a bag suspended on a rack behind the chair filling him not only with the ability suppressing drugs, but also sedatives to keep him complacent.

Is she real? It's strange to see him like this.

Really, it would be Elle's preference to converse with a non-druggee Peter, but one can't have everything. As far as any reversing of the situation goes…

"You do remember me." This satisfies a vague fear that had been lingering with her up until now; that the death of the duplicate, many months ago, might have somehow affected or removed the memory of Elle from Peter's overall system. Also, the drugs themselves. Fascinating how that might all combine. She stoops slightly once she's beside him, strands of her hair slipping free to drape in midair. Her gaze is angled downwards, but it soon travels towards Peter's face as one of her hands comes to rest beside his forearm on the arm of the chair.

"It's been oh-so dull at the Company without you, Peter. I hope you know that."

His head lazily turns to follow her movements, as much as the strap across his brow can afford anyway. "I— do." His acknowledgement comes with a hitch of his words, difficulty speaking and communicating his point. Closing his eyes and swallowing, Peter looks up to Elle with a faint smile, "I remember… worrying."

Breathing in a tired breath, Peter's head straightens and his eyes unfocus, staring up vacantly at the ceiling. "Little by little… it— it's been coming to me. It's funny,' there's a dry laugh that slips from Peter, "when he reaches around in my head it— it helps. I— things come up more clearly…" His expression turns from vacant to something sinking to sadness, and slowly Peter's dark eyes turn to focus on Elle again, then down to her hand.

"Why are you here?"

"I'm here for the Company, Pete." Her hand overturns itself in one small motion, and one forefinger brushes a bit of Peter's arm. There's a moment of untroubled hesitancy, as though Elle is considering what she's doing but not really, and then a blue ~bzzt~ of a tiny bolt flashes from that finger into the fabric of his clothing. She smiles, a tiny and gloating change in her lips. "You could say, I guess, that I'm here to check up on things. Make sure everything's running as it should."

Who watches the watchmen? Or, more to the point, who the hell is watching Elle?

"Even if I wanted to get out now, there's— no way to." Dark eyes move to Elle, "That's what you want to hear, isn't it? That I'm being obedient, that I'm doing as told?" He's different, very much so, from the man she knew at the Company. Even sedated, she can see something more ferocious behind his eyes, like a drugged lion. It may be tired and slow, but it still gives off a presence of latent danger.

"Is that all you wanted?" He doesn't believe her, from the sound of his quiet voice, from the doubt that laces his words just as much as the sedatives.

And Elle is different from the victim Peter once thought he was rescuing, once upon a time. Very different. Now she no longer has to act the part of a damsel in distress— now that's she's not actually in distress. But nevertheless…

"Ohh, don't be that way." She's no longer bending over him, but straightening up, she considers him with gentle eyes and a prim line at her mouth. "If it hadn't been for your friends, Peter, so much wouldn't have happened. Whether you're doing what you're told or not really doesn't matter." And then her gaze links with his own, and it's all staring him in the face: the innocent countenance of the young woman his other self had, in effect, obsessed over. "I'm just doing my job, Peter. Don't make me out as some sort of big, bad wolf."

With his eyes closed, Elle's voice is an evocative thing, bringing back memories not truly his, but not entirely divorced from the core of the man he is — the man he was. The sound of her voice eases him, in a way, it reminds him of simpler times that changed the very fabric of who he would be in the future. But so much damage has been done. "It's not you I'm mad at, Elle…" His brows tense, eyes staying shut, better to remember her smiling as she had in his memories than the woman he sees now.

"I'm mad at myself, for every mistake I've made." With a shake of his head, he forces himself to confront the truth of the young woman standing in front of him. "I think…" he squints, "I think… I cared about you," it's said as if remembering a scene from a movie, or something told about someone else's life. "I think."

"You can't make any more mistakes where you are now," is Elle's soft answer, her voice glib. She folds her hands in front of her as though hurt, and indeed in anybody else, Peter's last remark would no doubt be an emotional sting. There's something too much about her, however, like she's just asking why it didn't rain when it was supposed to. "You think. So you don't care anymore?"

That's probably the hardest question he's been asked since he was brought in to Moab, despite all of the painful interrogation — this one simple question has him scrambling for an answer he can't find. Instead, he takes a page from his brother Nathan's book, "What would it matter if I did?" Ever the Petrelli answer, at least behind imprisoned for as long as he has hasn't dulled the sharp tongue of his family line.

"What I care about, it— " he wants to motion with a hand, but the restrains make it look more like an involuntary jerk of his elbow. "It doesn't matter, not in here." Dark eyes settle on Elle's far lighter ones, and some of that anger seeps away from him as he tries to calm himself. "I think… we'd both be happier if I don't answer that."

Elle, letting her fingertips trail right alongside one of the restraints, appears to pay full attention to how constricted Peter is for the first time. "It matters, because I'm asking you." It matters, because this is all just some kind of game to Elle, some kind of question asked mostly for her own episode of interest.

"It's not being in here that's the big factor. I don't know who I'm talking to. When you died? Or, when your clone died? I'm not sure if it's him, or you, or some kind of weird -combination- of both of you that just remembers me as an object to be rescued." It's one technical question that still baffles her, and one that nobody but Peter can really answer her for sure.

Her question goes unanaswered for a while, it's the haze of drugs and his own foggy memories that clouds his response to her. "I— It's hard to explain," he doesn't sound very sure of himself, which makes the answer all the more unsatisfying. "I'm not sure who I am, or— or what I am— I have his memories, it— it was like they just were fed to me when he died. It's like, stuff I remember from a story… one that I can relate to," his dark eyes move up to meet Elle's from where the vacantly had been staring.

"I feel like I'm living someone else's life sometimes, and I don't want it. I— " he realizes he wasn't answering her question. "Rescuing you… was never about objectifying you, it— it was about responsibility. About taking responsibility for the mistakes he— I— made. Mistakes that cost lives, and freed madmen and— "

Cutting himself off, Peter shakes his head, "I get the feeling… the feeling that we've had this conversation before," his eyes depart from hers, wandering the texture of the concrete walls.

But that haven't had this conversation before, and if they have, Elle doesn't recall it. She travels around to the back of the chair and brings her arms over the top, hands seeking to overlay Peter's own outstretched ones. Her cheek lowers so it's close to his, and she whispers as though trying to get him to look at something straight ahead of them both. "We can fix that, you know. Start rewriting the story. I'm not just a detail you read somewhere; not just a paper princess."

If Peter's telepathic receiver is currently active, he'll notice a picking up of her flow of thought. Technicalities can be worked around. Never mind that Elle is based in New York; surely she can find excuses to come back…

And on the contary— the blonde's touch, her presence, are warm and very real.

Memories, thoughts, emotions; all of them flow without rhyme or reason through Peter. His eyes close, his mind clinging to the only thing that has been good in these months of imprisonment. All of the painful, harsh words Helena had shared with him, the bitter and spiteful memories of their departure, and the guilt of everything he had done to the poor girl and her friends… it all runs out of control.

Swallowing tensely, Peter breathes out a tired and shuddering sigh, his head trying to tilt towards Elle's, failing to from the restraint wrapped around his brow. There's something strange, about being bound against his will while she of all people walks free to bend and twist him to her wants. "What… can I possibly fix, in here?" The question comes after several long moments, partly out of no desire to break this semblance of comfortable contact, partially out of a fear to what his own words mean— that he truly has given up.

"I… would have— " He cuts himself off, "Part of me, I— it would have fought anything… for you. Part of me is terrified of you. Part of me…" Part of him still belongs to Helena, but he can't force himself to mouth those words, not after what was last said between the two.

"What's the point…"

"You can fix your broken memories. Your memory of me." That's what Peter can make right, or begin to. Elle's voice is as soft and cool as liquid metal, and her outstretched fingers give the back of Peter's hands a slight press. "Don't be afraid of me. There's nothing to be terrified of." There is a laugh wrapped up in that sentence. It's just Elle; just that same slim, wry, pale-haired woman he had known for months.

She doesn't know about Helena. Has no idea who Helena is, besides a vague face who she once associated with PARIAH. Neither can she read thoughts, as the man before her can; all she can do is guess and put out her feelers accordingly, as she has always done.

As far as what's the point? That's a question she doesn't answer— not directly, though as her attention happens to be caught by something else, she does ask slowly: "…Tell me. How did they catch you?" It's the IV lines that seem to have attracted her genuine interest, more than anything else thus far; she gives one a minute touch with a forefinger.

"Catch…" Peter snorts out a laugh, shaking his head with the words. "I went to kill the me you…" cared about? Those might be strong words. "The me that worked with you, I had every intention of… of just killing him and becoming the real me. But— the government stepped in, they killed him, maybe they missed killing me, maybe it ws their plan all along. I was a wanted criminal, thanks to Matt Parkman."

Peter scowls softly, shaking his head, "When they did, they just kept shooting— shot me, knocked me out, but it was the pain of feeling him die that did me in. The pain of… of feeling all his hopes snuffed out with a single gunshot to the head."

Peter's eyes narrow, head tilting as much as his restraints allow towards Elle's direction. "I let them keep me. I… I couldn't fight anymore. They may have captured me but— but I just turned myself in. I'm— " Not long ago, he would have called himself a monster.

These days he's not sure where he stands.

"I'm dangerous." At least, though, he's aware of that reality. "I deserve to be locked up, I— I don't know… some days I want to get out, to make changes, to— to make up for everything I've done." When he closes his eyes, though, Peter's tone of voice changes from sympathetic to bitter. "But nobody can change the world. Not me, not anyone, so why fight it?" When his eyes open, he's struggling to keep Elle in his field of vision. "The man who cared about you died. I'm— just his ghost."

"You're being ridiculous, you know." The IV line is twirled round and round the edge of Elle's fingertip, idly. "You can't pretend you're still different people just because one of you is dead. The other Peter, he was a carbon copy of you— and that means personality and everything." All except ideology, perhaps. A minor but important difference that she doesn't acknowledge.

The positions of her hands, which had been resting, suddenly take on a pressuring grip— this one not so gentle, just before her arms retreat off the chair entirely and coldly. "And you're wrong. There's so much you could have changed, with all the power you have. That nobody else has. But you didn't, and now that the present is staring you in the face, you can't face it." Is she talking about herself? Or the events that had caused him to be in Moab in the first place?"

She touches him on the shoulder, musingly. A bright blue glow begins to charge there, perfectly intended to cause pain, and there is a ~zap~ that darts downwards like a lightning strike. "Face it now, if you can."

Peter tenses, breath sucked in before he lets out a loud yelp from the electrical snap that Elle sends through him. His breathing becomes erratic, chest rising and falling as his dark eyes with matching dark circles around them focus intently on one of the hands at his shoulder. Black spots have charred the outside of his orange jumpsuit from the electrical shock, and from the sounds of it, the pain he feels is so very real.

"Wh— " he strains to find the right words in a haze of building adrenaline, "What are you doing?" His words sound exasperated, eyes wide and neck tense, "What do you want from me? I— I'm not him, I'm not— I'm not somebody who pretends to be a hero, I'm nothing— I'm nobody— I'm just— " Peter struggles with the confusion that Elle has set on him, "I'm…" To Peter, it doesn't matter what he is, not right now, not anymore. If only he could truly believe the words coming out of his mouth.

There is no mercy forthcoming. Another bolt ~zzzts~ down to strike exactly the same spot, making the black mark just a little bit bigger. "What do you think I'm doing? I'm refreshing your memory," Elle replies coolly. "Don't try to pretend you're not him. You were him, you are him. You can't run away." Now that she's in her element, a relaxation has taken hold of what had previously mirrored affection.

If only he could twist upwards to see it, there's no mistaking the look in her eyes now. They're keen, cold. She's enjoying this.

Another jaw-clenched scream rips forth from Peter at the shock, his whole body tensing in the chair as his head thumps back against the cushion. He tries to jerk away from the electricity, his fingers digging into the armrests of the chair, his back arching as his eyes force shut. A rasping breath escapes Peter, and when the electricity stops his body slouches back against his seat.

"What— " his mouth doesn't quite move as he expected, causing his words to come out slightly slurred. "Whatever you— you think I am— whoever yout hink I am, you're wrong." Peter turns his head from one side to the other in small motions, trying to catch a glimpse of her. "I— " the shocks do jog some thoughts back, they remind him in an eerie deja-vu of their prior encounters, of meetings in Peter's Leel-1 Primatech office, of conspiratorial conversations, of a life that feels like a daydream. "I've changed."

Damn right the man's changed. Elle doesn't communicate this in so many words; instead, she lets her floating hand settle against Peter's shoulder, forming a comfortable contour around the side of his neck. Blue spots from each fingertip continue conducting harsh, biting ~zaps~ through tactile contact. Zzzt, zzt, ztzt.

"You're still being silly," she purrs, her breathing coming close to the near-invisible hairs inside his ear. "The only change is that now you're stuffed full of drugs and stupid ideas. There's no excuse."

Every spark — every biting shock — causes Peter to reflexively tense and in the fleeting space between the crackling bolts relax, only to have his muscles dance beneath his skin to her electric blue marionette strings. Jaw clenched, Peter's words sound so much more forced when strained thorugh his teeth, "What do you want from me? I don't — " a particularly potent shock causes him to arch his back, eyes wrenching shut as his heart races in his chest.

"I— am not— " His fingers dig into the padded arms of the chair he's bound to, legs struggling against ankle restraints, the muscles in his neck tightening as he strains against his straps. "I'm— " a few more jolts, and Peter's hands shake, but his mind struggles at the conflicting sensations of the electroshock and the warm breath at his ear, of the lilting voice that goads him on, pushes and shoves him in a direction of her choosing.

Peter may not realize it, but some of the electrical jolts coursing over his skin, aren't even of her doing. Some of these sparks, some of these conductive arcs of tiny, sparkling blue light are coming from him, between her shocks.

Still no verbal response to that single, simple question. Each shock that induces Peter to jump seems to only increase Elle's complacency, and soon there's a girlish, contented smile inside her blue eyes in addition to the reflected glow of electricity. And though Peter doesn't notice the new source of power, the extra jolts spitting and leaping between each of hers, Elle does soon enough— and it's this more than anything else that slowly brings her to a stop.

She doesn't let her play of electric lights die down entirely, but instead, a pool of electricity coalesces all around her hand and just sits there, glowing like a firefly. "What are you thinking?" she wonders teasingly, letting her fingertips tickle down his upper arm. "Tell me."

Shuddering breaths are all Peter can give as a response, his chest rising and falling as he tries to recouperate from the constant electrical interrogation that assails his senses. His eyes shift to focus on the crackling light in her palm, even as the pain from the burns on his arms and shoulders begin to numb and lessen. "I— " He wants to know what she is thinking, what all of the purpose of this is, but despite that brief show of mimicry when his adrenaline surged from the pain, the latent abilities suppressed by the faulty drug flowing thorugh his veins does not lend itself to the memory of Matt Parkman's power. His thoughts are only his own.

"I'm— thinking I don't know what I saw in you." Bitterness, cold and angry. Every form of interrogation in Moab has taken on a differen form. So many faces both familiar and not turned against him, and now this. "I don't know what I'm thinking— I can't— " His breathing becomes uneven, eyes still forced shut as a grimace spreads across his lips, broken down by so much mental and emotional abuse here. "What should I think?"

Elle lets her eyes close, the sole remaining source of electricity around her palm -zapping- outwards like a television screen being shut off. She remains momentarily quiet in the new (relative!) darkness, letting her chin settle down to onto the back of Peter's chair beside his head.

"You haven't known me for as long as you think," she muses, swerving from the previous pattern of casual question-and-response. The arm that had been hovering by Peter's now settles a bit lower, index finger tracing a brief, mesmerized line onto the top of his hand. "You're broken. A broken toy." Whatever her finger is doing continues. As though she's dabbling at designs in a sandbox.

"I was made broken," words said that Peter will never truly know the full ironic dichotomy of. He wants to turn and look at her, and the subtle strain of his head moving against the restraint is the visual cue she gets, but it keeps him from being able to look directly at his company. "We're both broken," he murmurs, eyes falling shut again to the gentle touch of a finger on his scalp. His breathing calms, his shoulders relax, and the sigh that slips out of him is far more relaxed than strained. "That's why I— "

Almost.

Peter winces, keeping his thoughts to himself, "Why… why're you here?" With his pulse having risen and fallen, the drugs find their stranglehold on him even more intense than before, drowsy fingers of slumber clawing at the back of his mind, lulling him into false senses of security and complacency, just as they're designed to. Once rigid and writhing under her painful caress, he now slouches down to be so much putty under one finger.

And Peter doesn't know the truth behind his own statement, either. Broken is as broken does— and Elle? At least Peter lived a life outside the stark confine of walls, once. And perhaps will again.

"~I wanted to see you.~" It is the truth, though at the most basic level. A sing-song, feather-like quality seeps back into every one of her syllables, as though Elle is newly fascinated by what she has captive and sitting in front of her. A twinge of a smile creeps onto the edge of her lips, and the movements of her fingers turn into more of a stroking motion.

"That's why you what…?"

The corners of Peter's mouth are given to a trembling motion, some awkward semblance of a smile that doesn't quite reach fruition. It's too late to smile about simple pleasures now, from where he's sitting. But her question is direct, to the point, and he simply does not have the mental acuity any more to come up with an evasive statement. It's simple and to the point, when his answer comes in tired words, "It's why I cared about you. Because I know what— I know how it feels to be broken."

Swallowing dryly, Peter leans his head back against the small blonde's gentle caress, "I wanted… I don't know what I wanted, but— some part of me saw something in you…" Breathing softer now, Peter's eyes flutter open as if to struggle against the narcotic sense of unwanted sleep trying to take him from this moment, "…but it's too late for that now."

"It's too late for second chances."

At this, the woman works herself down a little closer, her caress inching towards becoming more daring, in order to whisper something for Peter's hearing alone. But before she has a chance to—

The scraping sound of grinding steel and the hiss of hydraulic pistols signal the opening of the security doors that receed into the walls and floor. Peter jerks to attentive wakedness, eyes wide as he watches the black-clad men who enters, one gloved finger pushing dark sunglasses up the bridge of his nose. "Agent Bishop," Verse's tone of voice is stern, "I just spoke with our Company Liason, they would like to speak with you about your…" he turns his head to look down at Peter, then back to the blonde, "inspection."

Tensing visibly in the presence of Verse, Peter's shoulders square and his fingers dig tightly into the armrests. "Don't you worry about Mister Petrelli, here." His lips crook up into a lopsided smile, "I just have a few more questions to ask him." Verse's brows lower, and as he looks towards Elle, there is a mask of disinterest that mostly fails to hide his lack of trust in her.

"I promise I won't break your favorite toy."


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Previously in this storyline…
Like Family

Next in this storyline…
The Lie

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