Which Peter Was It?

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alexander_icon.gif cat_icon.gif helena_icon.gif

Scene Title Which Peter Was It?
Synopsis Helena explains the two Peters situation to Cat. Also, there is meat!
Date November 15, 2008

New York Public Library

Once upon a time, the New York Public Library was one of the most important libraries in America. The system, of which this branch was the center, was among the foremost lending libraries /and/ research libraries in the world.

The bomb changed that, as it changed so much else.

By virtue of distance, the library building was not demolished entirely, like so many others north of it; however, the walls on its northern side have been badly damaged, and their stability is suspect. The interior is a shambles, tattered books strewn about the chambers and halls, many shelves pulled over. Some have even been pulled apart; piles of char in some corners suggest some of their pieces, as well as some of the books, have been used to fuel fires for people who sought shelter here in the past.

In the two years since the bomb, the library — despite being one of the icons of New York City — has been left to decay. The wind whistles through shattered windows, broken by either the blast-front or subsequent vandals, carrying dust and debris in with it. Rats, cats, and stray dogs often seek shelter within its walls, especially on cold nights. Between the fear of radiation and the lack of funds, recovery of the library is on indefinite hiatus; this place, too, has been forgotten.


It's been a few hours since Hel met up with Trask, so now she's laid out on one of the old couches someone dragged in, deep in the throes of a guilty, guilty pleasure: a Meg Cabot novel.

Alexander is reading, as well, having claimed another easy chair and lamp. All the better to finish re-reading 'The Big Sleep'. He's absentmindedly running his hand over his scalp, as if uncertain if he should recut it or not.

There are sounds on the floor, made by a woman wearing heeled boots as she crosses it. Said woman has a guitar case over one shoulder, a backpack across the other, and is dressed in dark clothing as she customarily does to emulate a feline on stage. Said woman, as she approaches Helena, might well be thought a character from the film version of a novel written by Miss Cabot. The main character, at that. "Stormy," she greets on getting close enough. "Al." Her eyes wander for a moment, and she murmurs "Unfortunate. No Conrad."

"Not tonight, sorry." Helena eyeshifts right and left, then discretely tucks her copy of 'Ready Or Not' into the cushions of the couch before rising. "You'll stay for a bit anyway? There could be food."

The moment of contented domesticity is shattered, as Al looks up with his fox's grin. "Hey," he says, setting aside the book and slouching down to regard Cat. "What's up?"

"I could make there be food, Stormy," Cat replies with a chuckle. Whether or not she spotted that copy of an All-American Girl book is unknown; she doesn't let on either way. At least not yet. But regardless of that, her resemblance to Queen Mia in the second movie adapted from Princess Diaries remains. And to answer the man, she offers "Not a lot. I'd just been looking for one of the new persons, who might in turn be looking for me."

"She means Conrad. He needs to tap that brain of hers." Helena supplies. "Of course, knowing Conrad, he'll probably try and see if he can tap something else, too. He's a hound dog that way. And I could cook something, Cat. Was he the only thing that brought you by? Does our illustrous company not suit?" Helena's tone is teasing.

"What's this new guy like?" Al wonders, with perhaps exaggerated casualness.

"Would he?" Cat replies with a chuckle. Her tone, while good natured, also carries the tone which sarcastically says 'yeah, that'll happen'. "What have you in mind to cook? I've got a taste for steak. Ribeye." Her gear is set down on the floor and she takes a spot of couch on the end where Helena isn't, adding "Your company is marvelous, Stormy."

"We don't have any steak here, I only wish." Helena says with a sigh. "I uh…can make a mean ramen, with what we have hear." To Alex, "He's kind of a jerk, has a potty mouth, and doesn't want anyone to know he's actually an okay guy. He's also got the biggest chin on a person I've ever seen."

Alexander just thumbs up at that. Presumably at Conrad, rather than the ramen.

Her mouth develops into a smile. "I can make there be steak." Cat looks into the distance and holds her hands out with palms up and level. "Let there be steak!" she demands. But, there is no steak. "Damn. Hold on." One hand goes into a pocket and emerges with two twenty dollar bills. They're extended toward Alexander, and she tries again. "Let there be steak!"

Helena grins at that. "Alex, I think she's trying to get rid of you. Or at least send you out to hunt so it can be brought back to us wimmenz for the cooking."

Alexander looks put upon, and rolls his eyes. But he does heave himself up to take the two twenties. "I'll go get 'em," he says, chuckling.

"With potatoes for baking and mushrooms, bread too," Cat suggests. But she doesn't yet thank Al for being so accomodating, she instead looks toward the blonde to see if she has anything to add to the list.

"And pie." Helena suggests. "Pumpkin, it's the right time of year and I have a crave." She blows Alex a kiss. "You're a sweetheart."

"Someone in this damned organization had better start putting out," Alex grumbles, but he's clearly doing so for form's sake. He tucks away the money, and ambles out.

"Thank you, Al," Cat replies as he makes his way out. She grins. "That was too easy," she asides to Helena in a hushed voice. Testosterone removal? Accomplished.

Helena laughs. "I don't know any guys who aren't descriptive of a Katie Perry song that don't like the prospect of meat. But yeah, I know what you mean. How are you?"

"I'm good," Cat answers, as her eyes move to meet the blonde's and a trace of concern settles onto her features. "How about you, Stormy?"

Helena gives a little shrug. "Getting by." she says somewhat blithely. "There's a lot to keep me busy."

The face is studied for a moment longer as Cat considers the reply she got. She'd tried to raise the topic the night before and been rebuffed, she'd thought maybe after another day it would be less fresh and get a different result, but things are unchanged. Stormy has declined to take the bait, and so Cat again moves on. "That there is," she agrees. "I'll come across Conrad soon enough. And find Brian that place Teo says he's after." Her eyes close and her arms stretch out a little. "I hope Al doesn't take long. Hungry."

"Brian's after a place?" Hel inquires. "Maybe he can take the apartment Abby's going to abandon." Helena shrugs. "She's just going to heal whoever drops in her lap, regardless of the consequences. We can't afford that."

"So I'm told," Cat replies. And her eyes take on a quizzical look again. "What happened with Abby?" she asks. "I get the feeling I'm not in the loop on some things here."

"Everyone kind of expects me to know everything about everyone and also expects me to keep track of who knows what." Hel says with a sigh. "I do the best that I can. First Abby healed a guy who dropped a tracer on her, then some guy who I think is a local supply dealer has been sniffing after her. And since she absolutely refuses to exhibit a little discretion about healing people, we agreed the best thing was for her not to associate too closely with Phoenix except when necessary. She seems to think that she can go merrily along without getting registered and without picking sides." Helena shrugs. "I can't make her see my way of thinking, so."

Her head shakes. "If that's what Abby wants to do," Cat opines, "she should just register, hang a sign announcing her as an Evolved Healer on the door, and let happen whatever will happen. Don't let it worry you. We'll come across another." A pause is taken, with Cat thinking for a moment, before she opts to press a bit. "I was exploring the city yesterday morning, looking at abandoned places, and found myself on Reed Street."

"You went into Isaac Mendez's loft?" Helena inquires. She knows the place. "You should be careful, HomeSec might be watching it."

"So the person who came in shortly after me said," Cat relates. Nothing further is said, she lets it hang out there to be picked up or left, whichever the Stormy one chooses.

Helena blinked. "You were followed in?" she asks. "I'm guessing it wasn't someone unfriendly, since you seemed to have gotten out okay."

"I'm not sure I was followed in," Cat replies. "There wasn't any sound. Just a voice behind me." Again she offers nothing else about the person. "I was busy following the strings by then, taking it all in."

"So who was it?" Helena asks. "The only person that I know of who knows about that place is Peter, and apparently a guy he knows who's Japanese. I forget the name."

"Hiro Nakamura," Cat replies. "That's the man he said he thought might be there, he says he comes there sometimes and finds new details. He also said he's looking for Mr. Nakamura's help."

"So wait, you're saying Peter was there?" Then almost absently, "Which Peter?"

Her head tilts to one side, Cat's eyes are studying Helena's face intently now. It's almost the classic What? expression. "Yes. He was." And she stops to study a few moments longer before tacking on her own question. "What do you mean, which one, Stormy?"

Oh, crap. Helena runs a hand through her hair a touch anxiously. "Some time ago - I don't know when, Peter got in contact with Brian Fulk. Brian's one of us now, but his thing - he replicates himself. Peter got near him, and he's split in two. Only it's gone wrong, somehow. Because Brian and his replications are all the same person, and the two Peters are totally different."

She doesn't say anything for some long moments, taking that time to think over what she's just heard. One of those thoughts is 'this guy doesn't have issues. He is issues'. "Interesting," Cat finally remarks. "That explains some things, although I already wondered how out of the loop I might be when he spoke of being back on the path of violence, and that he doesn't have a future with you, Stormy." There's compassion entering her voice now, the eyes on her are softer.

Helena's expression grows stiff. "Then it was PARIAH's Peter." she says. "He - he came here and asked me to come with him to PARIAH. To leave Phoenix and I refused." She looks down. "The other Peter is still with the Company. But it gets more complex. According to Brian, if he doesn't re-integrate eventually, he gets very weak. And the Peter you met doesn't want to re-integrate. He wants to kill the Peter still with the Company." Her hands rest in her lap, fingers twining together to betray her anxiety. "I don't know if that's how he really feels, or if it's the split talking. And to be honest, I won't know until he's re-integrated. So far both have seemed healthy physically, so maybe his regeneration is staving off whatever might weaken him as a result."

"We talked," Cat relates, "about violence and the practicality of it. I may have been able to reach him with logic, somewhat. I think there was guilt in him before he left, he questioned how long before we all become monsters. In all of the things that have happened with him, I see a common thread, Stormy."

"What?" asks Helena, her brow furrowing. She's rather desperate to understand. "And you haven't talked to Company Peter. He thinks he's doing the right thing. The the Company's had some misdirection, but he wants to make it better."

"Guilt," she replies simply. "I'd be certain both believe they're right. The one on the path of reckless violence, and the one working with the Company. He spoke about having ruined the world when we talked about Hiro's obsession with changing the past, fixing all of this. Said they'd saved the cheerleader, but hadn't saved the world. I believe guilt fuels everything that happens with him."

"The only balm to guilt is forgiveness." Helena says after a moment. "And the only person he can ask forgiveness from is himself. You or I could say it a hundred times and mean it…but it won't matter as long as he punishes himself."

"To carry a burden like that, and have abilities involved, the collection he carries around, it's…" A colossal mess. "Natural for internal conflicts to arise. Always seeking to make amends, atone for what he did. And if there's any debate about how to do it, which path to take, coupled with the ability to become separate bodies… The war will continue, but no longer be internal."

"So what do we do?" asks Helena haplessly. "I've thought about telling Claire, thinking maybe she'll help me if she thought Peter's in danger, but I'm not sure she'd want to lose having him with her in PARIAH."

"I think both may respond to logic, wiped of emotion," Cat replies, "talking about the practical details of what they're doing. As to getting them together, you may be right. His regeneration could keep the two parts healthy, prevent the collapse. I think if they did lose strength, though, and were put together, they might merge. Or maybe if they both came inside Sergei's field. But, of course, he'd see that coming."

"I don't know if there's much we can do besides wait and see." Helena says wearily. "I have drops with both of them, so I know where to go to meet one or the other if I need to. I could ask Claire to keep an eye on her Peter to see if he starts showing signs of fatigue or illness."

She nods slowly. "I can't be certain," Cat begins, "if it'll work, but when I talked about reckless violence being counterproductive, it seemed to register. That we know there will be blood, but indiscriminate acts will only fuel the paranoia that got us here. Make people more determined to wipe us out, believing they have to. That it has to be about police power and government behavior, not evolved versus non-evolved. What happens, do you think, after they wipe us out? Is that it, or does the fascist order move on to some other source of fear they can hype up?"

Following that thought being expressed, Cat pauses before offering another. "As to Company Peter, agree with him. Tell him good can be done while he's working with them, and plant the idea that if the Company really has any redeeming value, he should also work to make it all public. Bring everything they do and have done into the light of day." Her eyes seek out contact again, a quiet question is asked. "Do you understand? Guiding them, carefully, calmly, toward logic and the center, discussing actions and consequences." Her eyes close, she rubs the bridge of her nose. "I really need to read up on psychology."

Helena nods, her hands halting in their fidgeting. "I just want to fix him." she murmurs. "I know there are more important issues, factors that need to be considered, but I just want to fix him." She takes a deep breath, affixes a smile on her face. "And the only way to do that is to keep a cool head. Which is what I need to do in general to keep off the freak weather patterns, you know? I'll be okay. We'll figure out a way to fix him, and in the meantime there's the miracles and when Bennet gets the listings on the facilities, we'll start dealing with those. I did ask him to come speak to us as a group, so you know."

"Excellent," Cat replies. She reaches out to rest one hand on Helena's wrist if she'll allow it, to offer strength and support, saying quietly "We'll make it happen, Stormy. We're both tougher than we look, we have spines of steel. Because we have to have them. That strategy, of cold reason, may work with Claire too, I think. Wearing her down gradually, making her see how Pariah's path is about rage and impotence, it will backfire and make everything worse. I think they left because they see weakness, think we'd just stand there and be carted off to the waterless showers without a fight. We can't argue right and wrong. That'll fail. We can only speak of what will and won't work."

Some quiet seconds after giving that opinion, she states "I'm intrigued to meet Mr. Bennet, and Wireless."

"I put the idea in his head." Hel says. "It's the best I can do." Then with a fainter smile, "I wonder where Alex and those steaks are."

"Hopefully about to walk in with them," Cat replies. Her eyes go toward the entrance, and she extends her hands in the same fashion as before. "Let there be steak!" she commands.


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November 15th: Know Not Wisdom or Fear
Previously in this storyline…
Bump in the Night

Next in this storyline…
A Promise is a Promise

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November 15th: My Life Sucks
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