Remonstrance and Requital


peter2_icon.gif sabra_icon.gif

with an appearance by…


Scene Title Remonstrance and Requital
Synopsis Peter's recent actions catch up with him.
Date November 2, 2008

Primatech Research: Sabra's Office

This meeting is a little late in coming, but after yesterday's developments, that seems to be a fortuitous circumstance. Sabra doesn't sit at her desk this morning, as is her usual wont, but stands at the window, looking outside. Her clothes of choice today are predominantly white — white pants, a white jacket with a vining print in green and pink, the shirt underneath it an echo of the green. The elderly woman holds a cup of tea before her, both hands curled around its sides. Ashton, meanwhile, is occupied with straightening up the scattered papers on the desk, sorting them into a more useful order.

Fifteen minutes late isn't something that Peter Petrelli normally is. His punctuality had been one of his defining characteristics, but in the last few weeks it's been evident that his work ethic has been slipping from orderly into sloppy. More brief and vague reports on his assignments, less time spent in the office and a difficulty in keeping his partner informed on his day-to-day activities. It's been a noticeable and abrupt slouch from efficiency towards what on the outside looks like laziness — but to a trained eye is a sign of fatigue.

"Miss Dalton," His voice as he comes through the door is like a young man presuming he's about to be scolded by a disappointed parent. His eyes divert to Ashton, then back to Sabra as he edges into the room quietly, closing the door behind himself. While he's had plenty of time to clean up from yesterday's incursion into the city, he still looks rough around the edges. The bags under his eyes are more prevalent than they have been, his hair is more unkempt, and even his suit isn't ironed.

Making his way towards the desk, he stands behind the chair he should become seated in, hands resting on the back, fingers tapping anxiously. "I ah — I'm sorry about being late. I had to check on Woods." Once more his partner has become injured in the line of duty following Petrelli on one of his flippant whims. This time it is thankful the thing most damaged about Woods is his pride. He tenses, standing where he does, looking for all his worth a little more awkward in that suit than he has in recent days. The last few weeks seem to have been hard on him.

For once, Peter's greeting isn't met with the directive to call her Sabra. The elderly lady turns around, giving him a level look. "Peter Petrelli," she replies, almost in kind with the formality — save for omitting his title. Her tone is mostly neutral… but only mostly. It's also subtly chiding, even above and beyond her choice of address.

One hand frees itself from the cup to gesture at the chair in front of Peter. "Please, be seated." Blue eyes flicker to Ashton, and Sabra nods shallowly. At that gesture, the aide makes a silent offer of tea to their guest — the more-muted-than-usual hospitality also a clue to Peter's present standing.

Not high.

"Tell me, Peter — what am I to do with you?" Sabra asks as she folds her hands back around the cup, the query only somewhat rhetorical.

Letting out a very faint sound of resignation in the back of his throat, Peter moves around the chair and sinks down with a creak of the leather upholstry. His eyes divert to Ashton for a moment, smiling thinly before giving a polite wave of his hand towards the teacup; his stomach is twisting in knots as it is, that may not come as a welcome addition at the moment. "I — Things are a bit more complicated than they seem on the outside, Miss Dalton." She didn't correct him, and he takes it as a cue not to correct himself. "I think — I know I can explain, I mean, about how things look right now." Which, admittedly, isn't particularly good.

Ashton accepts being waved off, and retreats to his usual station at the side of the room, a silent observer who blends into the background as much as any other piece of furniture here. He knows when to stay out of the way.

"Things are indeed very complicated," Sabra agrees mildly. Deceptively so. She walks over behind her desk, glancing briefly down at the papers Ashton was sorting, but doesn't quite join Peter in sitting. "Certainly, please do explain," the director invites, looking across the desktop at him. "I would very much like to know what you've been thinking for the past two weeks." It seems yesterday's incident isn't the only one she has in mind.

"The incident with Matt Parkman," A sore enough place to begin, "That was a misjudgment on my part, and an overestimation of my ability. I… I wasn't thinking clearly, I had intended to acquire information pertaining to Molly Walker's location from his residence and use it to acquire her ability in secret, in order to help with the recovery of Elle Bishop and… and find Adam Monroe." Peter's brow tenses, enough to crease that scar across his forehead. "I tried to explain to Matt, I… He and I used to — " He raises one hand to rest against his brow, "It didn't go as planned."

Leaning back against his seat, Peter closes his eyes and strains out a sigh. "My actions as of late are a direct result of some information I've come into the possession of." Were this any other day, Peter wouldn't be starting down this avenue of conversation. That voice in the back of his head, the one telling him to not trust the Company would have reined him in. But now, that voice is gone. "After my encounter with Parkman, I…" Peter glances at Ashton, then back to Sabra, "I came into possession of information pertaining to the identity of Adam Monroe, and his agenda upon release from Level-5. It… I haven't shared this information with anyone yet," Not anyone within the Company at any rate, "But between the mysterious events surrounding the Evolved in the city, and… and what I found out about why Adam was locked away…" He slouches his shoulders, "It's my fault he's out there."

Ashton's face is a practiced mask; he doesn't so much as blink as Peter looks his way. The aide seems not to have his attention on Peter, but is simply there, waiting to be summoned into action. Of course, appearances are partially deceiving.

Sabra is silent while Peter explains; afterwards, she sets the cup down on the desktop — delicately enough for it to make almost no sound — and rests her palms on the edge of the surface, leaning just slightly forward. "Let me explain this to you simply, Peter," Sabra says, her voice quiet but not exactly soft. Her tone is the exasperation of a matron — but the difference between family matriarch and Director is only a matter of context. "Recovering Agent Bishop, finding Adam Monroe — these tasks were not assigned to you." The elderly woman straightens, looking down upon the young agent. "As a maverick, you very nearly did more to damage our relationship with Homeland Security than anything in the past two years has. Do you have any idea what will happen if they decide we are no longer a necessary evil? If Homeland Security obtains even a fraction of the information we have?"

Sabra lets that question hang in the air for a moment, the silence emphasizing everything unspoken which lies behind that point. Then she moves on.

"You have many talents, my dear boy." Her tone shifts; not only quiet now, but also soft. Gentle and weary. "Not only when it comes to your abilities. But Peter… no one can save the world alone." Finally, Sabra sits down in her chair, rubbing one hand briefly across her face. "Life isn't a comic book, or one of those movies kids get so wrought up over. If you will not work with me, then I cannot help you. We will only trip over one another — and nothing good will come of it."

One hand comes up to rub across Peter's brow, eyes closed as he listens to Sabra. There's a stillness and a silence to him, but it's not a relaxed one. It's the silence of something wound up and twisted tight into a knot, like a tightly packed coil waiting to spring free. While she speaks, his hand lifts up from over his eyes, and they open to focus up at the woman, watching as she sidesteps the mention of Monroe entirely, and his brows very subtly furrow together in thought on that.

His lips press together, trying to restrain himself when the subject of Elle comes up, clearly something that has overwrought him in the past few weeks, one of the very driving endeavors behind his very placement here. But somehow, the idea of being here just to save Elle got lost along the way, clouded in more muddied waters and ever-changing circumstances. "I…" When he does finally speak up, he doesn't entirely sound like he's sure of the words coming out of his mouth. "I'm trying." His eyes drift to the side, peering down at some unseen point on Sabra's desk, a knot of wood that has his attention. "It's hard, just… handling things the way protocol says. Waiting, or watching, when someone is in danger it — It's completely against who I am." Today, more so than ever, he doesn't seem quite as convinced about that.

Finally looking back up to the director, there's something of a lost and helpless look in Peter's eyes. "I appreciate that I've been given this opportunity, but the one assignment I was put on since my enlistment here it — It just feels like a waste of my ability." He's all too eager to get out into the field, to make up for his own perceived mistakes, despite that very eagerness being what got him into this predicament. "I did the security assessment and filed my report, but, I just — With everything going on, the only times I've actually felt useful was when one of those berserked Evolved were out on a rampage. I could do something then, save people, I…" He sighs, and the normal enthusiasm he backs his words with simply isn't there today, much of his heroic bravado seems to have been drained from him. "This isn't how I wanted things to turn out."

"Well, you've done a marvelous job of landing yourself in a tub full of hot water," Sabra replies with dry amusement. She folds her hands on the desktop, fingers interlaced. "The protocols were developed for a reason. I should know; I was there." That piece is her secret to tell, so the old woman doesn't mind using it. A memory briefly clouds her vision, but it's shaken off in short order.

"Which brings us back to the question of what I do with you," the Director continues, regarding the young Agent. "I cannot give you a field assignment if you will not follow directions. If you continue in actions that endanger all of us." You have failed your test.

"Monroe is our problem," Sabra adds softly, returning to Peter's self-blame now that the official reprimand has been delivered. "Assigning blame gains us nothing. It brings only weakness— " She gestures towards Peter, a brief wave of one hand. "— as you may yet see. Adam Monroe is no simple enemy, Peter. Alone, any of us would only trip into his webs — especially if we let the desire, the need, to act become blinding. You move so quickly, Peter, that you fail to see what's around you." First Mohinder — then the bungled impersonation of Parkman — and now the painting.

Leaning to one side, Peter rests his head against his forefingers, the others relaxed against his palm. Sitting like this, he almost looks like a disinterested school-age student, but that disaffected expression only lasts for so long. The tension, however, remains visible in subtle ways someone of Sabra's age and experience can easily tell, that tightness around his eyes and the way one of his feet won't stop bouncing up and down ever so softly on the ball of his foot.

"I don't know what you want me to do then, maybe this — " Was a mistake? He can't bring himself to say it, there's far too many bridges burned now to turn back to the way he'd come into this. A sigh pushes out of Peter heavily, and in that sigh he straightens in his seat some, letting his hand fall away from his temple. "I don't know what to do." The admission comes with the smallest voice he's used today, spoken into his hands as he leans forward, rubbing both of them over his face tiredly.

Sabra doesn't ask him to finish the unspoken. It isn't as necessary as Peter simply having the thought in the first place. Sitting back in her chair, the old woman considers for a few moments — or perhaps just leaves Peter the time to reflect upon his own thoughts. "I cannot turn you loose in the field," Sabra repeats. "But I can't pin you to a desk job, either — you've made it eminently clear you won't stay there.

"So I will propose a compromise," the elderly woman continues. She fetches a blank slip of paper out of one of Ashton's piles and writes two names on it before sliding the page across the desk to Peter. "While Woods is recovering— " From the effects of your impetuosity; but she sidesteps it, not wanting to belabor the point. "— I want you to shadow this pair. You will follow their lead. You will not act apart from them without their consent. And they," she adds at the last, "will be investigating the recent Evolved deaths Doctor Knutson has in hand." Meaning the dissolving ones, not the dusty ones. A very thin smile curves the old lady's lips. "Homeland Security has requested our expertise on the case."

There's a surprised look in Peter's eyes as he looks up from his hands, the change in plans isn't expected in the least. Clearly, though, Sabra's mixture of an iron fist inside of a velvet glove manages the situation with extraordinary care. Peter straightens a bit in his seat, one brow raising just a bit higher than the other as he looks to the names being written down. His eyes dip down to the paper, then back up to Sabra, "Exactly how shadow do you want me on this?"

There's notably uncertainty in Peter's tone of voice, not only in his uncertainty in his own capability to maintain a more subtle presence than usual, but also in his own concerns over abilities that have been entirely unresponsive since the incident yesterday. But, at the very least, he's resourceful. "I…" He hesitates before saying more, at first simply motioning towards the paper with extended fingers. Then, perhaps a bit languidly, leans forward to reach for the slip of paper once the director has finished noting it

"You're familiar with the concept of 'job shadowing,' yes?" Sabra queries in reply, smiling amiably at Peter. "I believe it's become quite popular in some fields these days. You are not a partner, but you will be expected to work with them similarly." Just one subject to their authority, and not a voice of equal weight. The blue eyes that study Peter seem to sharpen slightly as he fails to complete that thought, and one silvery brow arches questioningly. "Yes?"

"Familiar? Ah… yeah." About as familiar as having heard the term there and then, anyway. "I think I have a pretty solid grasp on what you're asking of me though." There's a mild expression of humility there, clearly at the manner in which he's been assigned to the pair, but certainly not something he doesn't see himself as undeserving of. "Yes, I'm clear on what's expected of me here." His eyes divert from Sabra, casting to the side enough to view the tile floor, then back up to the director again, and finally down to the paper at hand.

It could have been worse. Much worse. Sabra smiles softly, and dips her head. "Good. It's the best I can do right now, Peter," she adds, tone bordering on apologetic. "There's… my authority only goes so far." With that, the elderly lady rises, signaling the end of the meeting — and the end of informality. "I'd appreciate it if you could have your report on yesterday's events on my desk no later than this time tomorrow." Despite the phrasing, it isn't a request. "And while you're still on duty — it might be a good idea to get a full checkup from Doctors Knutson and Salonga before you go back out into the field." She doesn't (yet) know everything that happened yesterday… but it's evident Sabra has some suspicions.

She lets Peter take his leave — but before he gets out the door, the Director adds one final instruction. "Oh, and Agent Petrelli? If you have any further information I should know, it might be best included in that report." There's a bit of a smile hovering on her lips and the blue eyes contain their more usual warmth; the statement is less of a reprimand and more akin to a gentle tease.

Clearing his throat, albeit awkwardly, Peter nods and rises from his chair a few moments after Sabra does. He watches her move with his head angled to one side, a curious, if not somewhat wary expression. With all of the delicate touch she's handled this situation with, the looming threat of having to explain what happened yesterday outside of the pawn shop sinks under his skin and doesn't leave, rendering Agent Petrelli somewhat jittery.

He circles out from behind his chair, looking up to Sabra again, then over to Ashton. He watches the silent man for a time, only before looking back to Sabra with an intent expression. While he trusts Sabra to keep confidants that are trustworthy, there is a level of paranoia in the information he possesses that doesn't easily let go, even when his darker half is free to do as it pleases and not holding him back, as it were.

We should talk about my parents some time. The words echo hollow in her mind, brief and fleeting. "Thank you, for your understanding." The tone of his spoken words don't quite match the ones projected from his thoughts as he turns towards the door. "Have a good day, Director."

November 2nd: Chase the Morning
This scene is part of two storylines.
It is preceded by…
Cherry Cobbler and Welcome to Now

It is followed by…
Hey There, You and Women with a Mission

November 2nd: Around the World in 80 Boxcars
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