Wither, Blister, Burn, and Heal


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title Wither, Blister, Burn, and Heal
Synopsis Gillian seeks a memory alteration, and gets it.
Date January 9, 2009

USS George Washington

There is no charm to the bowels of the ship near the engine room, a place on the vessel so noisy from the many powerful machines keeping the USS George Washington afloat, that it is hard to hear a close proximity conversation, let alone eavesdrop. This is not what Gillian Childs had in mind, when she arranged for a meeting with the government's memory manipulator thorugh Sarisa Kershner. Rene returned her request with a cryptic note, left under the door of her bunk, come to the engine room maintenance floor, alone.

So it's here, on a raised walkway overlooking the turbines and machinery down below that play God knows what role in keeping the ship running, under the droning sounds of this heavy industry that Gillian waits, alone. Fluorescent bulbs flicker and sputter overhead, casting irregular light to the darkened corridors of the ship. It's here where she is supposed to meet the Haitian.

But that's not who she finds— or rather, who finds her.

"Gillian." Hissed out like a pained breath, Peter Petrelli's voice is the last thing Gillian expected to hear. He comes from a distant corridor on the maintenance floor, his voice barely audible over the machine noise. Beads of sweat cling to his brow, blue eyes are wide, and he looks pale— sick. Slow, limping footfalls bring Peter across the floor, and the tone of his voice, the way he moves and the way he talks is decidedly not Kazimir Volken, but rather the younger man he inhabits.

What the hell is going on here?

"You're not supposed to be here…" Gillian says in a hushed rasp, looking surprised, shocked, clutching the note she found under her door against her chest. It took time to find the engine room maintenance floor, especially since she doesn't think she's allowed down there. Not really something she could ask directions for from random sailors walking by in Navy Blue. Fuck. Seeing him makes this… more difficult. Again.

And easier at the same time. Except…

"What happened to you?"

The last time she saw him he had a deer in headlights look, especially since he never showed up for that meeting. The voice and tone are more like Peter's, the limp—

Suddenly she's looking around, pushing hair that's fallen onto her brand out of her face.

"I don't know…" Peter admits in a hushed voice, using a railing for balance as he walks down the corridor and closer to Gillian so she can actually hear him properly. "Kazimir— took me over completely a few days ago, he said he couldn't trust me to carry out the mission by myself, that he couldn't trust me to stop Wagner on my own." His head shakes, blue eyes wide and focused down on the floor. "I was— I was so upset at him, trying to regain control without thinking."

When Peter's blue eyes rise back up to Gillian, there's fear in them. "I don't know what to do now, something happened at the meeting, I— I beat him, I got control back, but now it's like…" swallowing anxiously, Peter's blue eyes dart about the maintenance floor, to riveted pipes and valves, to power conduits and shelves full of tools, "it's like I'm totally shut out now, like I can't even— all his memories are so fuzzy now. Gillian, I don't know what to do."

It was him, back in Argentina, at least in part— it really was Peter in charge, saying all those terrible things. "Gillian, I know what's waiting for us in Antarctica, and if I can't make Wagner believe I'm Kazimir— you're all going to die. I saw it, Eve made a painting of it, everyone was dead, and I figured out how to prevent it, I just— " he breathes in sharply, "I can't do this on my own. Everyone has to believe I'm Kazimir," Pain comes with those words, "he was right."

For the first few moments, Gillian's eyes shift back so she can stare, lips parted and looking unsure. This wasn't the way things were supposed to go, and the things… "It was you in Argentina," she mutters her thoughts outloud, quietly under her breath. Even if she thought it had been the case, it's a little shocking to hear— even then, it's… was it him in the corridor too? When she… "If you weren't already limping I'd kick you in the shins, and this time you wouldn't have to ask why."

He needs everyone to believe, but… She'd been wanting to make herself believe…

The hand clutching the piece of paper loosens. "You left the note under my door?" She didn't know his handwriting enough to recognize it or not. The crumpled piece of paper gets shoved into a pocket. If he didn't send it, they might be having a visitor soon…

"Peter…" He upset her, he hurt her… The hope she was wanting to get rid of got restored again, but at the same time the hope may be a burden on him. She grimaces, rubbing her hand over her face, before she looks back up at him, "What do you need me to do?"

There's an anxious expression on Peter's face as he looks at Gillian, breathing in deeply as he starts to tug off one of his leather gloves. "I'm sorry," he exhales the words breathily, "there has to be no shadow of a doubt in everyone's mind that I'm Kazimir. I think I figured out how everything works with that painting, Wagner's an ability manipulator, something like what you and I used to be able to do." He starts tugging off one of his leather floves by the fingers. "If he has a telepath's abilities, then he can read everyone's minds. If he finds in one of them, that they think I'm not Kazimir, that this is some sort of trick, he'll kill us all."

Swallowing anxiously, Peter tucks his removed glove under one arm, and then offers out his bare — deadly — hand to Gillian. "That's why I need you to do something dangerous for me," he intones in a very hushed, very humble tone of voice, "augment me."

At the first tug of a leather glove, Gillian's no longer looking at his face, a confused expression beginning to show up. It's not until it's all the way off, tucked into his pocket and the bare hand is offered out to her that she quickly looks up and into his eyes. "But…" It would be dangerous to the both of them, she'd assume. Everyone's going to die. People need to believe he's Kazimir.

She needs to believe it too. But that's going to be difficult now that she knows he's not. Not completely. Even if it was Kazimir, would it be a ruse? The only training she got in telepathic resistance was done while augmenting one. It taught her how to think other things, music— she even tried to use the constant knot to act as a barrier of some kind. She's not sure how well it would work.

But the offered hand, the request to be augmented, was not what she expected.

She doesn't have to touch him to augment him. But… "I trust you." And she hopes it's not misplaced. She reaches out for his hand, letting the knot unravel in her head as she does.

The pain is immediate, horrifying and debilitating, in a way it helps do exactly what Peter wants, break her focus and fill Gillian with that wash of amplification uncontrolled. She feels a hotness under her skin, a fire in her bones more painful than anything else she has ever experienced, fire burning in her blood, and Peter grips her hand so tightly, so intensely when her grip falters from the agony. He cannot help what he does, what their skin to skin contact causes, the result is terrifying.

Rolling waves of black smoke rise from Peter's body, a cloud of life-sucking night that boils from him like steam from a kettle, rises to the ceiling like a fire's smoke, blacking out the fluorescent lights overhead. Peter screams, the noise drowned out by the engines of the mighty ship, his jaws opening and eyes wrenching shut, his scream joined with Gillian's. In the back of his mind, Kazimir's presence becomes like a pounding beat, a hard drumming of gloved knuckles on the door to his memories and consciousness.

Gillian's hand at Peter's turns an ashen gray, skin withering and darkening, flesh flaking away like dried parchment paper. He struggles to keep under control the life-draining, but with the amplification sending waves of death rolling from him it is all but impossible. Muscles harden and degenerate in her hand, tendons tighten and blacken, bone turns brittle at her wrist, at her fingers, and then snap under the pressure of his grip.

Peter's voice rises in a horrified scream at the sensation, and those billowing clouds of shadow lash out through the engine room, pushing thorugh cracks in walls, through seams between rivets, all through the engine room where the maintenance crew works. Their screams rise up in equal measure, where once it was merely Gillian and Peter's howling screams and terrified noises.

But then, the pain ebbs, and something else comes with that impossible touch. Life-force is drawn in part and parcel from the members of the maintenance crew around the engine room, life force that is funneled thorugh the darkness around Peter's amplified form, channeled thorugh that destroyed hand, and into Gillian's body. Her flesh mends, and in that instant where her hand was about to break apart in his bare-handed touch, the pain is replaced by tingling warmth, like bath water fresh from a hot tap.

Dessicated flesh blossoms with color, blood vessels return from their dead state, and broken bones return to their proper alignment as new skin heals over where paper-thin pieces of ashen flesh were once present.

Peter's hand disengages from Gillian's with a gasp of air, eyes wide and mouth open, exhaling a breath of black, life-sapping energy. With her hand returned perfectly to its original condition, Gillian also feels that warmth flooding one side of her face, where the branded scab of the Vanguard's mark on her cheek burns off from the regenerative effect of Kazimir's healing.

With his hand disengaged, the shadows siphon back into his body like smoke sucked in thorugh a cigarette. A howling noise fills that strange vision of black clouds drawn in through his mouth, nose and eyes, and he collapses against the metallic railing behind him, legs giving out and body slouching lifelessly up against them.

In the distance, confused sounds of panic echo in the engine room.

There's a vast difference between life and death, between healing and destruction. This isn't an unfamiliar pain. Once before she held her hand out to someone with his ability, intent on helping that man heal, since she could regenerate from almost anything. It didn't turn out well, since she'd absorbed another ability that activated with touch. The emotional pain of what she saw added onto the physical pain left a more lasting impression. This one doesn't come with the flood of emotional pain that made her falter. It just has the physical pain.

Death she's been through. Thanks to that power and more. Every time it hurts. Just before she's sure she's about to collapse onto the floor of the engine room, it changed, keeping her on her feet, the pain turning to something much nicer.

But even with the change, after his legs give out, hers do as well, sending her down to the cold floor with a groan. There's some residual pain, some residual warmth… and she reaches up to touch her cheek and…

She's not even sure when exactly the tears started. Somewhere during the pain, probably. They're coming down more quickly as she touches her face with a hand that wasn't really even a hand for a few moments. Both are fixed. And she's not sure what to think of that.

It takes a few moments of sitting there before she looks back at him, crawling foward a bit to the railing. "Peter?" The sounds of panic echoing around give worry— where else did the life force even come from, but she's worried about him a little more. Collapsed as he is.

A cough escapes before words, black smoke issuingo ut of crooked lips before an answeris spoken. "No…" It's a breathy admission, and as Kazimir's eyes lift back up to Gillian, his brows furrow tensely. "It seems he is a stronger, more resourceful young man than I had first given him credit for." Clearing his throat, Kazimir is careful to reach out, find that missing glove and tug it down over his fingers. Blue yees assess the way Gillian's hand looks, the way her arm looks, then up to her cheek — he hadn't even meant to clear that off of her.

"You're more powerful than I had even imagined…" Reaching up to the railing to pull himself to his feet, Kazimir looks around at the floor, bruws forrowed — Peter didn't bring his cane. With a roll of his blue eyes, Kazimir looks back up to Gillian, straightening his suit and watching something over her shoulder.

Heavy footsteps come from behind Gillian, a tall and dark figure in a camel colored suit stepping from the shadows where he quietly watched the display, safe from Kazimir's ability by merit of his own. He reaches out, resting a hand atop the back of Gillian's head. "I am sorry." Kazimir whispers to her, shaking his head from side to side, before there is a sudden electrical shock to her system, a blinding flash of pain and light that blooms behind her eyes and causes her jaw to tense up and neck muscles to flex beneath her skin.

The Haitian robs Gillian of the peace of mind that she had been given, robs her of her memories of Peter having been freed from Kazimir, robs her of the doubts that may have been present in her mind from his revelation. Stripped away like layers of paint, Gillian is stolen of the reason why she is crying, the reason why her cheek is healed, the reason why she can trust again…

…and it kills Peter to watch it happen behind Kazimir's eyes.

One last pulse sends Gillian collapsing to her knees, unconscious. The Haitian looks up to Kazimir, silently, and one dark brow raises. "Now the engine room crew, they cannot remember what happened here." His blue eyes divert down to Gillian, brows furrowed.

"I will take care of her."

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