The Man In The Box

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helena_icon.gif matt_icon.gif peter_icon.gif

Scene Title The Man In The Box
Synopsis Helena and Matt try to appeal to Peter, but he refuses to leave his box.
Date January 1, 2009

Homeland Security Holding Facility


Of course, if Matt Parkman had told Peter Petrelli his old flame wanted to see him in an attempt to drag him out of his self-containment, the whole thing might not have happened. Matt's not a master of manipulation, but simply stating that Peter has a visitor before going to collect Helena from the more office-like portion of the Homeland Security facility seemed to be the most effective way to go about the whole thing.

It is in silence that the suited agent escorts Helena back down the hall toward Peter's cell, which is more a room than anything with bars. It is the sort of room-like cell one might find in a maximum security prison, complete with one reinforced and doubly thick plexiglass wall.

Seated in the middle of the room, Peter himself looks much like a different man. His hands are folded, shoulders hunched forward, forearms resting across his knees. The small bed he sits at the end of reminds him of the cells in Level Five, and to some extend the entire facility has that same foreboding sterility. Peter's hair has been cut short, buzzed close enough to his scalp to make him look conspicuously different from how he once did, and the plain gray pair of pants and long-sleeved shirt he wears, complete with a number stenciled on the back and right breast pocket continues to afford him a look of a prisoner.

It's much the condition Matt Parkman found him in once he was able to pull himself away from his assignments to see the detainee after he had been brought in. Much the way Peter had seen himself in a foretelling of the future to come, one that he now is no longer privvy to the memories of.

Seated the way he is now, eyes unfocused to stare distantly off towards the opposite concrete wall, with his hair so short, he looks like a totally different man. He looks like neither the grim and brooding Peter Petrelli, nor the slick and civilized Agent Petrelli. He's both of those men, and now neither of them as well.
Helena is terrified.

She's been terrified since the moment she stepped in the door, terrified of both the place she's in and who she's going to see. She's terrified of what's going to be said, and of what Peter might say. She's terrified of the moment he sets eyes on her, and she's terrified of the moment that will eventually come when she has to depart. But Helena has learned to live with terror, and having survived a good dose of it at the hands of so many, her outward expression is composed, almost careful. The little betrayals come only in the curling of her fingers, in the whiteness of her knuckles.

When she's lead into the hallway that leads to Peter's glass cage, and for a moment all she can do is stare at him, like she's suddenly lost all her words. A hand reaches out, gingerly presses itself flat against the glass as she stares at him. Strange. Familiar. A sidelong glance is given to Matt, a wordless request, and then her gaze strays back to the man in the box.

Matt doesn't even need to delve into Helena's mind to know what she is thinking or what she wants, or at least guess at it. He types a number into the pad at the door, then unlocks it in a more conventional manner with a key produced from his pocket. He holds it open for her before he steps through himself.

"Peter," he says with a hesitation similar to that of a one approaching a sleeping person and with the same intention to rouse.

Keeping his head down, Peter's fingers tighten together as he keeps his hands folded. Tension builds in his neck, but he doesn't look up to where Helena has her hand pressed against the glass. No words are exchanged, just a slow, swiveling motion of his head to regard Parkman, an awkward swallow causing that tension in his neck to build until his dark eyes move to settle on Helena. He watches her closely now, inspectingly, as if trying to see how much has changed.

Nothing is said. There isn't a smile, no light in his eyes. There is just the dour eexpression of a man leaned upon by the weight of the world, who couldn't shoulder the burden. Atlas shrugged, and he let everyone down in the process.

Helena steps inside, Parkman following. There's a lack of a place to sit, so she just stands in front of him as she looks him up and over, top to bottom, perhaps the most scrutinizng gaze she has ever favored him. She herself has changed, but in ways much more subtle. She's skinnier, if that were possible, and looks tired. There are shadows under her eyes that weren't there before, and those great wide eyes of hers somehow manage to be both hard and sad, even when she smiles. But she's not smiling now. She hasn't smile since she began today's journey. Quietly, studying that dour expression, she begins with simply, "There are things you need to know."

"No, there aren't." Peter's words are said to the floor between his slipper-covered feet. "You shouldn't have come here, Helena." When he finally looks at her again, there's visible hurt in his eyes, worry for hr well-being, but the kind directed more towards his burning distrust of Matt Parkman.

"I'm done." He motions with one hand, leaning his back up against the concrete wall to the side of his bed, "I'm done trying to save the world. Done trying to fight the good fight. I can't, it's not what I was meant to do." His eyes drift partway closed, and his fingers curl against his palm before he folds his arms across his chest. "All I ever do is make things worse."

He claims Peter Petrelli made an attempt to time travel," It's said rather incredulously, "Back to stop the virus, but somehow only made things worse. So… the notes say another candidate was chosen and sent back, and… I have no idea who it is. The notes are implicit that I'm not to interfere."

Edward's words, and Peter's it seems. A surprising coincidence of events and interpretations. "If you came here to see me, fine. You can see me, we can talk…" His eyes close fully, head coming to rest against the concrete wall. "But whatever you want to talk about… if it isn't in these four walls, it doesn't concern me." His voice takes on a bitter, rough tone, "This is where I belong."

"The virus that you were trying to figure out while you were with the Company is a bio-weapon of a group known as the Vanguard." Helena's voice is soft, but merciless as she watches his face. "Their intent is to use to destroy ninety percent of the world's population, and amongst that percentage, all of the Evolved. They are lead by a man named Kazimir Volken, and he is the one who killed Cameron. His right-hand man, a piece of work named Ethan, murdered Cat's lover after we managed to secure one of his people. We convinced a turncoat in his organization to pass us some intelligence - that they were going to try to kill the president-Elect." Helena continues talking, relentless and intent, about the assassination attempt, about her first meeting with Edward Ray and all that he has shared. She tells him about the photographs, even the one with him from the future without a scar and Eileen's hands on his shoulders, even the one of her in the prison gown and shorn hair. She tells him about the high projectile mortars and the plan to incubate the bodies of Evolved for HomeSec to capture and release. And then she tells him something new that even Matt has not year heard: that Eve has had a vision of them destroying the bridges on the Hudson. Helena talks into her throat goes dry, and then she keeps talking, until finally it's all out and she feels like she can breathe.

If Matt were able to communicate telepathically with Peter, he might pass along the assurance that Helena will come to no harm within the facility, but he remains silent in all ways. Still, a mental note is made when Helena makes mention that one of the Vanguard's operatives has turned from them - he'll have to check his other intel to confirm it, but the image of wide-eyed and innocent looking Eileen Ruskin, via Cat's memory, comes to mind.

Peter keeps his eyes closed the whole time Helena speaks, making it hard to tell if he's listening to her or not. His hands arms stay folded across his chest, shoulders slouched. The silence that hangs in the room after she's done speaks for Peter quite well. She'd done exactly what he asked her not to do, and in some irony it's exactly what Peter would have done in the years that have passed. Now, however, he's not who he was.

"I have faith in you." His words come out slow and tired, spoken without energy or fervor, without commitment to their meaning. "Dani… is…" That gives him a moment's pause, brows scrunching together, and he leans forward enough to get off of the wall, eyes opening slowly. "Tell Cat I'm sorry."

His head turns, focusing on Parkman for a moment, "She can go now." The words are as cold as the walls of the room, as plain as the gray on his prison uniform, as simple as the string of zeroes and a one stenciled on the right breast pocket of his button-down shirt.

"You're here because you choose to be." Helena's voice is soft, and yet wielded like a weapon. "You're here because it feels safer to be punished then it is to risk for absolution you're not even sure you want right now. But in the end, you will not find absolution locked up in this cage." She looks at him. "Everyone's risking for this. Lines of division are being erased, because Kazimir's plans are so big that it's going to take all of us. But if things don't change, then the future Edward Ray spoke of - where even when Volken falls, Sylar will simply take his place - will come to pass. I really don't know if the best thing for you is to stay here, but I do know that saving four billion, five hundred million people might be a start, not just for everyone, but for you, yourself. You have a lot to make up for." There's another pause and she gazes at him. "In my prison picture, there's only one difference between your prisoner number and mine. My number is two." She takes a step back. "There's one more thing you need to know. PARIAH was raided by a special police task force. Claire's missing." That isn't precisely true. She got a text from Claire, but if it kicks Peter in the pants, she's willing to commit a necessary fib. She looks back at Matt. She's done now.

"We need you, Peter," Matt admits in a softer voice than he normally uses when he visits cells like this one. "You can have as much faith as you want in Helena and her people, but she, they, and I have faith in you. Why sit in here doing nothing when you can make a difference out there? We screw up. We make mistakes. But the biggest mistake you can make right now is staying in here and not fighting for what you care about. And Peter? You're one of the only people I have ever met who cares about so much."

Peter closes his eyes again and leans back against the wall, "It's safer for the world if I am in here, powerless. Not out there, uncontrolled. Ruining everything." His head shakes slowly, jaw clenching tightly. "You don't need me, you never have. I need to own up for everything I've done, pay for what I did. Even if no one else knows that's what I'm doing, it's what I need to do."

There's a few more moments of silence as Peter just leans against the wall, and then, "Claire's a big girl. She can take care of herself, and if she can't…" H scowls, but only slightly, "I saved her once, she can learn to save herself."

Matt's words, howwver, make th frustration and rage inside of him grow, "You want to stop Kazimir? Get Molly, have her tell you where he is. Have her tell you where all of them are." Those lidded eyes slowly open, focused on the Homeland Security agent. "Or is it different when someone you care about is risking herself instead of me?" He rises up from his bed, arms moving to hang at his side. "I can't control myself, I can't control my powers. The last time I tried to stop the virus, you shot me." Peter's brow lowers, venom in his voice growing stronger. "The last time I tried to make a difference, I couldn't control my powers, and I split into two people and tried to kill myself. What if it happens again? What will you do then? What if I end up taking over for…" The unfamiliar name is hard for him to remember, let alone pronounce, "For this Kazimir? What if I become the next Sylar?" His hands clench tightly at his sides, memories of nearly choking Helena with his telekinesis coming flooding back, memories of the heat, the light, the flame of the bomb.

"You can save the world without me." He finally spits out, turning around towards the wall and his bunk. "I'm no one's hero."

"The last time you tried to make a difference, you did it alone, convinced that you were on the right path and refusing anyone's help or interference or counsel from anyone because you were certain of your way." Helena interjects vehemently. "Have you thought of what it might mean to help and be helped? Have you thought of what it might mean to work with people instead of around them or behind them?" Then pausing. "There's someone who can help you with your powers." she says. "He's helped you before, and I think he might be willing to help you again." Then, "If you want to own up, then stop hiding in this cell." There's a crack in her coldness. "I know heroes have clay feet. And I know you've done horrible things. I know." she says, "But I - but you're my hero, still." She steps forward, regarding his back, and then reaches out to rest her hand on the back of his head, a peculiar sort of saint giving benediction unwilling before taking it away. She stands directly behind him, not so close that her breath is at the back of his neck, but close enough. "I am the least important person you've hurt. I know that." she says. "And mine is perhaps the least important to give, but I forgive you. I want to - dammit Peter, let me save you so you can help save us all." Helena's eyes grow bright and liquid, reflecting things best left unsaid.

That same rage that builds up in Peter floods over into Matt when Molly is mentioned. It is for Helena's sake that he chokes down a rebuttal, and he can be nothing but thankful when she steps in to speak before he has the chance to.

Peter strains, hands clenching tight in a manner that would cause the walls around him to crack from that familiar sensation of telekinesis in the back of his mind, were his powers not stripped from him by well-deserved medication. The touch to the back of his head sends him mvoing forward, away from Helena, turning to stare at her with deadened eyes. "No."

Maybe he wasn't even listening to her, maybe he was and simply doesn't care anymore. Her constant ranting, the detailed discussion of things Peter has dismissed all fall on deaf ears.

Parkman's silence, at least, brings some measure of happiness to his otherwise bleak situation. "I said that she can leave." There's a snorted laugh, I can't believe I'm fighting to stay in prison. His eyes close at those thoughts, and he turns to settle down on the bed, folding his hands in his lap as his dark eyes flick up to Helena. "You want help? You want a hero? Don't turn to me, all I ever do is let people down — now, then, and in the future too it sounds like." There's a pained smile smile, "Happy New Years, Helena." He's done trying.

Helena backs up. Studies Peter in silence, and then digs into her pocket. Wordlessly she throws something at him, to land silently on his chest. "It's for you." she says in a painfilled voice. "Merry Christmas, Peter." She turns back to Matt, her composure on edge, and indicates with a motion that she's ready to leave.

The object is pair of leather laces braided together with a third strand - soft, silken, like pale gold. Helena's hair. She remembers shyly going to Teo and asking if he thought it was stupid. He'd told her it was beautiful.

"Matt," she says, her voice tight. She needs to get out of there.

"You're only in here because you wanted to be," Matt mumbles, scorn dripping from his words as he reaches for Helena in an effort to guide her back to the door. "You want to be in a prison? I'll call up your mother and she can make one of your old bedroom." Without another word, he places a hand on Helena's shoulder and escorts her out of the room, closing and locking the door behind them.

Looking down to what was thrown at him, Peter picks up the braid of lether and hair, and with her back turned the look on Peter's face; so weak and vulnerable is missed. Hee closes his hand around the object, and closes his eyes as well. One hand is drawn up to his chest, holding the hair and leather there and not letting go.

There's a million things Peter wants to say as he watches Helena retreating out of his cell, but none of them change the fact that he feels this is where he belongs. The world will move on without Peter Petrelli, because for all the good he's tried to do, what has come of it? It's the eternal question that he's asked himself.

The bomb.

PARIAH.

Sylar.

The Virus.

How many more times would he have to fail everyone, in order for them to give him the answer he wants?

But down here in his cell, alone now with Parkman's words and Helena's gift to keep him company, he isn't going to find the answer he needs, or the answer he wants. He's been told to come clean with his crimes, to rot in a cell to make up for the lives he took. Peter Petrelli never believed those words, and even now there's seeds of doubt.

They just need time to grow.


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January 1st: Stray Cat Adoption
Previously in this storyline…
The Shape of Things to Come

Next in this storyline…
En Prise

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January 1st: Lab Rats
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