A Case Of Identity


lance_icon.gif peter_icon.gif

Scene Title A Case Of Identity
Synopsis Lance finds himself with an unexpected mentor.
Date September 17, 2020

It’s been three weeks since the Lanthorn was torn apart by Lance’s second manifestation.

In that time, the doctors and specialists he’s seen confirmed that it wasn’t heart damage or hypertension that caused his headaches, but a cerebral pressure increase caused by intense sympathetic vibration of his cranium due to a wholly new audiokinesis ability he has manifested, like roughly 1% of the total Evolved population. Lance has become a mosaic.

As of yet there isn’t a tremendous amount to go on. Outside of a copy of Activating Evolutions, a more than decade-old treatise on the “Evolved” written by the late Chandra Suresh, very little scientific work has been done on mosaics, given that they represent an estimated .0001% of the world’s population: a vanishingly small number on a global scale. Even the term mosaic is an archaic one, by Expressive-study standards, but it is still touted by nearly every professional in the field.

Lance has been burning the midnight oil on a college course that his entire internship depends on. Passing grades for his associated education are required for his schooling to be paid for and his job at SESA to remain available. That the Lanthorn became his chosen place of study is because it — at the moment — is the quietest place he has to be other than the radio station. But when Jolene is working, like she is tonight, the place tends to get a little noisy.

The windows at the Lanthorn have not been replaced, but the weather has remained warm and the blue tarps nailed up over them have provided a sense of “roughing it” for the residents who decided to move back, even in temporary fashion. There’s ladders and buckets of paint sitting on more tarps on the floor. The bathroom is back in working order and all the tile has been replaced. Lance’s makeshift desk of the dining room table is covered with text books on Expressives for his humanities project on the effects of manifestation on social structures.

He never thought he’d have to go through something like that twice. But, it’s made for good research.

The Lanthorn

September 17th
6:12 pm//

A knock on the front door downstairs distracts Lance from his reading. Most everyone who comes around just shows themselves in, so this kind of disruption is unexpected.

Unsure who might come by without having their own key, Lance is up and heading for the front door shortly after he’d heard the knock. He takes the pole - sliding down deftly to the first floor, hitting the ground with nary a sound. The silence has little to do with the socks that he’s wearing, too!

Then he’s making his way to the front door, leaning in to look out the peek-hole to see just who in the world is knocking at the door at this time of the evening. Can’t be a door to door salesman this late, right? Or a religious type.

He just needs to make sure it’s not a bunch of guys with pitchforks and torches or something. Lighthouse paranoia always runs high.

No it’s just

Peter Petrelli

of course.



It’s unmistakable. Lance knows the face from the news, from television, from history. But there he is, standing outside the Lanthorn in a denim jacket. The beard is new, hair is shaggier than he is in pictures. He’s also holding a metal box under one arm, leaning on crutches in a posture that reminds Lance of Jolene.

Yeah, it’s just the dead come back to life. Totally normal.

Blink. Blink. It’s a face that Lance remembers dimly from his childhood, as well, a man who once stood beside Gillian and Helena— the only reason he remembers is the glowing between their hands, a light-show that drew the attention of an eavesdropping child prone to mischief.

It’s not quite the same, though. There’s something missing.

There’s a thunk-thunk of the lock, and then a clatter - and then the door opens just enough to show a chain holding it in place, and a blue eye peering out the door.

“…are you a time-traveller?” Probably not the first question that Peter expected to hear.

Leaning on one crutch more than the other, Peter regards Lance with confusion at first, then an awkward and crooked smile that accompanies a fluttering laugh. “They teach you kids that at a young age now, huh?” He says with a wryness to his smile. Peter looks down at the street, then back up to Lance. “Is yes and no an acceptable answer? Or are you gonna’ fling me up into the air like I got that pigeon question wrong in Holy Grail?”

But Peter forgets himself. Or, more accurately, he forgets Lance. That touchstone isn’t one they share in this timeline, watching an old movie on VHS together as the world crumbled around them. Peter doesn’t realize his mistake as he smiles up at Lance.

“You got tall,” Peter adds happily, though with a bittersweet edge.

“You don’t have your scar,” is Lance’s response, before he shuts the door.

The chain click-slides on the other side, and then he opens the door, sweeping one hand to welcome the Midtown Man into the Lanthorn. “And they taught us a lot of things, Mister Petrelli. Does Gillian know you’re… uh…”

He looks the other man down, then up, eyebrows raising, “Alive? Here?”

Still suspicious. They taught them enough to be paranoid about things like this happening.

Peter’s expression softens some as he’s invited inside, and Lance recognizes only now the blue and pink strip of unicorn bandage on one of the arms of his crutch. He put that there when they belonged to someone else: Jolene.

“Yeah,” is Peter’s confirmation to basically everything. “Scars can come and go,” he says with a lopsided smile, “but Gillian… she and I are stuck together. Whether she likes it or not.” Though based on his lopsided smile, she might.

As he ambles into the Lanthorn, Peter looks up at the ceiling and then around at the ground floor windows. “I uh… it’s a long story. All of this.” Peter explains as he motions to himself with one hand, crutch tucked into his armpit. “But, I came here t’give you something.” He holds out the cumbersome lockbox. Like he came back from beyond the grave to casually give Lance some old junk like this wasn’t the weirdest exchange in the history of human conversations.

As he recognizes that bandage on one of the crutches, Lance relaxes slightly; there’s only one place he could have gotten those crutches, and that means that he’s probably a safe person to deal with.

“Uh huh,” he says at the comment about Gillian, one eyebrow lifting, “You hurt her, I shoot you. Don’t make me do that, I work for the government, I’d probably lose my job.”

That said, he squints at the lockbox, reaching out to take it - arms sinking a bit at the weight, “Oof. What’s this?”

Peter’s crooked smile grows a little. “No idea,” he admits happily. “It was actually inside the bathroom wall. After you blew everything out I saw it sitting there. I think it’d been hidden there for a long time, judging by how old the building is.” Peter ambles around Lance, looking for somewhere to sit.

“I didn’t want the cops to pick it up,” Peter admits, “so I grabbed it and stashed it at Gillian’s until you were out of the hospital. I figure you can get it open at some point… maybe after a training session or something.” Peter’s smile grows.


“I’m not just here to drop off the box,” Peter clarifies.

“In the— it was in the wall? Huh. I was in there when it, I mean, when everything went boom, I guess the wall couldn’t handle it…” The box is hauled over to the table in the living room, surrounded by enough sofas and love-seats to let the whole Lighthouse crew sit with room for visitors. It’s a big, low table, with various peoples’ stuff already on it. Lance sets the box down there, then straightens, giving Peter a questioning look.

“Oh?” He can’t help but add, a roguish curve to his smile, “What did you want me to teach you?”

Peter’s smile grows, shaking his head as he follows Lance over to the living room, carefully lowering himself down into one of the love-seats, leaning his crutches up beside him. It’s strange, knowing everything Lance knows about Peter, to see him standing in a proverbial silhouette of where Jolene was just a couple of years ago; walking on crutches, talking about training.

“Gillian thought it might be good if I help you through this,” Peter explains. “It’s been a while since I actually… mentored anyone, but— technically I already trained you once,” he admits with a lopsided smile, which only adds to the confusion of his identity. “I can share what you do, study it, and help you get a better understanding of how it works. So you don’t have to worry.”

Despite the joking, Lance is still watching Peter with a sharp eye; he’s uncertain how the man is alive, or why he’s here, until that curious statement slips into the middle of the conversation and his eyes widen a little as a thought occurs to him like a thunderbolt.

“Already— wait, wait,” he gestures with a hand vaguely, excited curiosity in his voice, “Are you from where Cash and them are from? The— the wasteland?”

“Gillian said you already knew about it so…” Peter furrows his brows and angles his head to the side, scratching the back of his neck. “I am, and I’m not. It’s… complicated?” He smiles crookedly, because of course there’s something more complicated than time travel. “But I remember training you, and yeah… let’s go with that I’m from there. But not just from there?”

Sitting forward, Peter rests his forearms over his knees and clasps his hands together. “I was there the day you uh, redecorated the house.” Peter says with an awkward raise of one brow. “We thought a bomb went off. So, that’s some power you’ve got hidden away in there. What’s crazy to me is that you — the other Lance — he couldn’t do that. Just goes to show how much history is changed.”

“I thought I was gonna die.”

Lance drops himself down onto the couch kitty-corner from the loveseat in a typical youthful sprawl, grimacing at the memory, “My head was like— “ He lifts his hands up, then expands them outwards, “Gonna explode. Then, uh, I guess it did.”

Nose wrinkling in guilt as he looks around at a room still showing signs of repair, he looks back to Peter, “So you— I mean, that makes sense. Heh. Cash helped me learn how to use my ability because I guess I taught her how to use hers once. I try not to think about time too much.”

“It’s easier if you don’t. I’ve traveled time and it’s still confusing to me.” Peter admits with an awkward laugh, shrugging as he looks down at the metal box for a moment, then back up to Lance.

“The pain you experienced…” Peter changes the subject, tapping two fingers at the side of his head, “that sounds like it might actually be ability strain. Most of the time I’d ever experienced that kind of— the feeling of pressure? It was from over-taxing a power, pushing myself well past my limits.”

“The science of it is like…” Peter trails off, looking distant for a moment. “It’s something like how our abilities excite all of our autonomous systems, heart-rate escalates, which causes blood pressure to rise, which causes those headaches. There’s other factors too. I remember…” Peter trails off again, eyes averting to the floor, “Mohinder? Or… someone telling me that.”

Peter grimaces, shaking his head. “I’m kind of a loose bag of rocks up here,” he says with a tap of his fingers to his head again. “I guess coming back from the dead really scrambles your noodle.” This much is said with a wholly earnest laugh, because of course it is.

“I’ve had some of those, uh— flashes that seem to happen every few years? They’re bad enough without actually travelling through time,” says Lance, whose life has been so weird that he considers temporal overlays a normal if unpleasant part of living, “I mean, Jolene is technically my little sister by adoption from one viewpoint and that just feels so weird.”

He shifts a bit, fingers lifting to scratch at the side of his neck as he listens to Peter’s explanation, his brow furrowing, “I guess that makes sense. Hopefully I can figure out how it all works so I don’t blow my head up again. I mean, next time it might be literal, and I haven’t finished my internship yet, so that’d suck.”

He grins at the mention of coming back from the dead, offering simply, “Probably.” Kids these days, they’re jaded to all this stuff.

“Jolene…” Peter mumbles her name, looking down at the floor for a moment. That’s a complex topic. He pushes it away, hiding concern and conflict behind a crooked smile.

“This is all kind of where I come in.” Peter explains, folding his hands and resting his elbows on his knees. “Gillian’s… you know how she is. She worries about you. Wants to make sure you’re safe. So, I told her I’d give you a hand. Help train you, show you how to control what it is you do.”

Peter leans forward, extending his hand over to Lance. “In order to do that best, I’ll have to copy your ability. Learn what you do for myself, then show you what I found out.” He looks at his hand, then back up to Lance. “It’s safe.”

“Yeah, she… worries,” Lance admits guiltily, glancing away for a moment. A complex topic for him, for different reasons entirely.

A look back to the other man then, hesitating for a moment before reaching out with his hand to take the offered one, “Alright, but— try not to blow up the building like I did.” It’s not entirely a joke.

Peter is known to blow things up, after all.

Ha.” Peter says flatly, taking Lance’s hand in his. There’s an immediate exchange of light between Peter’s hand and Lance’s, lighting up the bones in their fingers. The light starts in Lance’s hand and transfers up into Peter’s before spreading up his arm and out of sight under his sleeve.

“But that’s actually a good lesson,” Peter says as he lets Lance’s hand go. “I wasn’t much older than you when that happened, you know. Not enough to matter. I didn’t have control over my ability, over my emotions, and that…” Peter takes in a deep breath and sits back in his seat, laughing softly. “This is so weird, we’ve had this exact conversation before.”

“Something similar happened to my— to my father,” Lance confesses, leaning back and regarding his hand curiously, fingers wriggling, “The Company tried to take him and he— lost control of his ability. I guess you probably know that too, though.”

His tone a little rueful, “It’s always so weird talking to you future people. You all knew a— me who isn’t me. I don’t think Cash really believes that I’m not, though.”

“I didn’t.” Peter says after a quiet moment. “Know that… I mean. About your dad. You never talked about him back— the other you.” He huffs, blowing a lock of hair from his face. “I don’t think you… ever knew your father as far as I remembered. Brian was your father. Fulk. Winters?” He squints. “The replicator.” Peter settles on.

“The differences between here and there… it makes us different people.” Peter opines, reclining back into his chair, straightening one of his legs out as he does. “I am, and I’m not, the Peter than Gillian knew. That trained you. That flew up into the sky here and…” He traces a line in the air with a fingertip, then spreads his fingers in a pantomimed explosion. “But it doesn’t matter.”

Peter looks over to Lance, smiling. “We are who we are right now, and I’m going to help you learn how to control this. You’re going to be the first Lance I know of to both be quiet and insufferably loud.” Then, with a smile he adds. “Wait, maybe that’s not true.”

“I… yeah, Brian’s my dad,” Lance admits with a slight wrinkling of his nose, “Gerard’s my— father, though, me and Hailey’s. We only found him recently, he was in that— prison out in Utah I guess? Then he fell in with terrorists, ‘cause they told him I was dead, and— anyway, I visit him sometimes in jail. But yeah, doesn’t— matter.”

He flashes the older man a wry smile, “I can be loud sometimes. Just ask Joe. Anyway— so how do we do this?”

Peter looks momentarily distracted, brows furrowed. He doesn’t say what he’s thinking to Lance, but the young man can tell something was going on behind his eyes for a moment. Forsaking conversation about the lockbox they found, Peter shakes his head and smiles.

“Right now, we don’t do anything. I’m tired and I need to try out your power on my own first. But then, we’ll figure out a schedule.” Peter rests one elbow on the arm of the chair, slouching to the side. “Once I have a handle on things, I’ll show you what I learned the hard way, so you don’t have to redecorate your bathroom again.”

“As for now…” Peter slants a look over to the refrigerator in the nearby kitchen, then back to Lance.

“If you’ve got a beer, I’ve got plenty of stories.”

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