A Far, Far Better Thing


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Scene Title A Far, Far Better Thing
Synopsis Peter arrives to help Melissa with the aftermath of her interrogation, and the conversation turns to more personal matters.
Date July 27, 2010

Abandoned Auto Shop - Staten Island

The auto shop where Melissa and Ling took Jacob is abandoned, and it had been raided at some point by people wanting to make a quick buck. However, it was not in the condition it is now when they arrived. One of the windows is all but shattered, there's broken glass everywhere, tools have been thrown around, and the smell of bleach and blood is almost nauseatingly strong.

And there's a body. A mid-twenties man, one who used to be blonde, is slumped over in a chair. There's a hole in his foot from a bullet, a hole in his forehead, and the back of his head is just gone. Around him is some blood, but not nearly enough for that sort of injury. Of course, there's also a bucket full of red water next to him, so maybe it's just been all cleaned up.

Nearby, sitting in a chair, is Melissa. Her hair is mussed, her eyes are red and swollen, and there's smeared blood on her face, and more under her nails. She looks almost like she's in shock. One hand is resting lightly on her stomach, just above where a bandage sits from her newest gunshot wound. She sure is racking those up.

She's staring at a wall, her eyes unfocused, empty, her expression the same way. Her back is to the body, probably so she doesn't accidentally look at it. And softly, her heel taps on the floor, a rapid beat, one that unconsciously mirrors the beat of her heart.

The creak of the door to the auto shop opening comes with a few quiet footsteps. Nervous approach is what personifies Peter Petrelli's arrival, hands wringing together as he looks around the scene. "Jesus," is whispered under his breath from the shadows by the door in the dimly lit garage. Brown eyes dip down to the blood on the concrete, "I told you to question him not…" Peter can't even finish his sentence, there's just shock in his voice.

A wary look is slanted back towards the door behind himself, to the shadow that isn't cast by a building, to the faint wisps of smoke coming from a cigarette. It looks like a minute is going to turn into something longer. Creeping across the floor of the garage, Peter shakes his head.

"What happened?" isn't accusing sounding, it's just concerned. After all, this wasn't how he expected the interrogation to end, not by Melissa's hand anyway.

There's no jumping, no signs that Melissa is startled by Peter's entrance. Instead she just gives a slow blink and looks over towards him. "Things went to hell, Peter. That's what happened. He…I had to, Peter. I didn't want to, but I had to," she says, eyes starting to fill again, before they squeeze tightly closed and she rubs impatiently at her cheeks.

"First Ling used my name in front of him. Not good. Then Kendall…God. He was here. I don't know for how long. He was invisible. I couldn't let Humanis First to find out about him. I couldn't let them kill him," she whispers before her eyes open and she gives him a pleading look. "He's my responsibility. I have to protect him. Even though he hates me now. He's scared of me."

"Jesus Christ, you— you should have called someone, if you had him restrained I— there's people we have who'll do things like this. Lacombe, Riggs, Kuhr… you didn't have to— " Peter's voice hitches in his throat as he covers his mouth, nodding a few times and closing his eyes. "Sorry, you… didn't need that." Sharply exhaling, his booted feet carry him the final distance to Melissa, worried eyes wandering the corpse not far away.

He pointedly didn't say Sasha was one of those people. It's not nice to talk about someone when they aren't in the room after all.

"I'll get someone down here to dispose of the body…" is offered as cold comfort while Peter struggles with what he's seeing here and what he knows happened. "How— How did Kendall get mixed up in this? He's— he's just a kid, Melissa, how…" another sigh comes, and Peter's struggling to keep it together. "How'd you let that happen?"

The pained look that crosses Melissa's face only proves that he was right, and she didn't need that. Her gaze drops to the floor and she shrugs. "How am I supposed to stop someone who's invisible, Peter? He's an illusionist. He can make me see anything he wants me to see. Ling didn't notice him either," she says softly. "Believe me, the last thing I wanted was him to see this. Apparently all my injuries got him curious."

She pushes herself to her feet with some difficulty. Her injuries were just aggravated by her scrubbing, and now that the determination is gone, she's feeling every bit of pain. Slowly her gaze lifts to Peter's face, and there's sadness there. "Peter…do you know why I joined Messiah? Why I agreed to do all these things? Do you know why I made myself shoot the guards in Montana? Or kidnap this man? Or shoot the guards with Kozlow?"

Her head tilts slightly and her lips curve in a smile as sad as her eyes. "Or are you so horrified that I just killed someone that you just want me and the body gone from your sight?"

"That isn't it," sounds like an accusation and Peter knows it. Scratching fingers across his beard, he walks awya from the both and brushes both of his hands up over his head, holding his hair back from his face. "God," he murmurs, head shaking slowly. "It's different when you're fighting someone in self-defense, Melissa. I didn't ask you to kill this guy I— this wasn't what I wanted to have happen." Touching his tongue across his upper lip, Peter looks back to the body, hands still holding his hair back, fingers laced behind his head before his muscles snap into motion like a broken rubber band, arms swinging down to his sides.

"Where is he now, Kendall? Where's Ling, for that matter?" Walking back over to Melissa as he asks that, Peter's dark eyes dart about the garage, only now having realized that Melissa's accomplice isn't here.

"Do you think I wanted to kill him, Peter? Who do you think trashed the room? Why do you think my eyes are all red? Because I was laughing gleefully? I feel sick that he's dead. I apologized before I shot him!" Melissa says, taking a step back, then turning away, rubbing her hands over her face. "I scrubbed my hands over and over again, Peter. I can't get the blood out from under my nails. It's on my clothes, in my hair. I feel…I just want to…" She trails off, leaving her desire unsaid.

"Kendall ran off. Ling went after him to make sure that he didn't get himself hurt. Hopefully they'll both be back home whenever I get there myself."

"You— need to take some time off," isn't easy for Peter to say as he scrubs the heel of his palm across his cheek. "I can't heal your injuries, not— fast enough— anyway. Just like I told Ling, I can't risk taking on your injuries before going in on the attack against the Humanis First operatives." Peter's brows furrow, the corners of his mouth dip down into a frown and anyone who knows him better than Melissa would be able to see him constructing walls. He feels horrible about what's happened, that much is evident on his face, but he's distancing himself from that guilt.

"I'm sorry," is mumbles again into Peter's hand as he rubs it across his mouth, looking at the mess around the garage. "You— you're in no shape to be fighting. You're going to need to mend some bridges with Kendall, there's— we'll make due without you this one time."

Then of course, comes what Peter doesn't want to ask, but has to. "Tell me you at least got some information from him? I— don't need it right now, I just— tell me this wasn't all entirely a mistake."

"Are you taking time off, Peter?" Melissa asks in response to his suggestion, still facing away from him. "Are you actually taking care of yourself now? You're avoiding me, so I have no idea anymore. And since you moved out of Abby's place, she doesn't know either." She glances over her shoulder at him. "And I didn't ask you to heal my wounds. I don't want another hand print on me, your hand print, unless I get to keep you. Kozlow removed the bullet, Francois patches me up. And Abby."

She turns fully now, moving over towards him. "I got your information. I rescued Kozlow. I went to Montana. For you. To keep you safe. To keep you from overworking so you didn't put yourself into an early grave. That is why I'm in Messiah, Peter. To protect you from yourself."

She draws in a slow breath, and has to force herself not to look at the body, or the wreckage she created, but to continue looking at Peter, back straight though pain makes her want to hunch over. But for this? This huge step for her? She has to stand tall. "I love you, Peter. But you're never going to give me a chance, are you? You can't even give me a hug when all I want right now is some comfort after what I did."

Silence is probably not the best answer.

Peter has more in common with the man outside than he realizes, in some respects. "No," isn't the best answer either. There's a slow shake of Peter's head, eyes closed and teeth drawing over his bottom lip. It answers everything so succinctly and with one word. No to everything she said.

"I don't get to take time off, I'm the boss," is the excuse Peter uses. "You have a kid to take care of, a scared kid. You let me worry about me, you need to worry about Kendall. I'm not telling you to get out of what we do, but you need to get your head on straight and do it for the right reasons." Which, obviously, aren't Peter.

"I'm— " Peter exhales a sharp breath he'd been holding in, turning to walk in front of Melissa and rub one hand up and down the side of his face. "I need you to take some time off, just a week or two. Get yourself back into fit condition, because— " he's trying to ignore everything else, "because despite what differences we seem to have, Messiah still needs you. That might not mean as much to you as I thought it did, but… you're one of the few people here i actually trust."

Melissa smiles again, sadly. "That's what I thought. And I was doing it for the right reasons. There's nothing wrong with trying to keep the man you love safe. Even if he doesn't love you back. So I'll tell you what, Peter. I'll sit this next one out. I'll patch things up with Kendall. I'll even continue working with Messiah."

All that should be a relief to Peter, right? Well, if he's not going to make things easy on Melissa, why should she make things easy on him? "However, it's not without cost. First? I'm not going to wait for you any longer. I can't. You're breaking my heart a little at a time, though none worse than when you told me that the best night of my life was a mistake. Second? I'm going to tell you something, and I want you to listen, to really listen, and I want you to think about it. That's all. Can you do that, Peter? Is my part in Messiah important enough for you to do that? To listen and not just brush off my words?"

Eyes close, tense shoulders slack into a slouch and Peter offers an askance glance to the garage door before he looks back to Melissa. "Sure," is said like a sigh, though not out of some lack of desire to sit still and listen, but rather simple tiredness. Peter's arms cross over his chest and his brows crease together, one hand at his temple and weight shifted to one foot.

He can't imagine what thoughts might be going through the head of his guest outside, but at the moment it doesn't matter. "One thing," Peter says in a soft tone of voice, "do you want to forget this?" It's an honest question, without any explanation, and Peter is motioning to the corpse on the floor before he looks up to Melissa. "Just— the moment. Like losing partial memory of a traumatic event… I can— I could get rid of it. It might help you sleep." Or give you a tumor.

Eyes start to slide towards the body, then snap back to Peter before they make it, and after a hesitation, Melissa shakes her head. "No," she says softly. "The least I can do is remember him. He can't forget he's dead, so it's not fair if I forget I killed him."

She moves over to her backpack, pulling out a pack of cigarettes and lighting one up. She can hardly be blamed for needing a cigarette now. Sitting down carefully, Mel draws in a slow breath, as though debating just where to begin. "You said once that I should forget about you because I'd get hurt. You were right, but not in the way that you meant. The only pain that you have given me is emotional. Because you're holding yourself back, out of fear of what might be, because you're scared of what happened before. I get it, I really do, Peter. But you…both of us deserve some measure of happiness, no matter what we've done in the past. Does the body on the floor right now mean that I don't deserve someone? A life outside of Messiah? No, of course it doesn't. And while I understand better your guilt, don't let it get in the way of you being a person, rather than a figurehead, a leader."

A long drag is taken and Melissa's eyes close. "If you become just a leader, just Messiah, then you'll forget why you're fighting. I know that. It's not a guess. And if you forget why you're fighting, then you'll become no better than the Institute." Eyes open now, and are tired, sad. "I know you don't want that to happen. You don't want to become a monster. You don't want to hurt the people you're trying to protect. But in order to keep that from happening, you need a link to humanity. You need something besides Messiah and seeing hurt people all day at work."

The cigarette is dropped, crushed beneath the heel of her boot, and she stands, moving over towards him. "You say you trust me, Peter. You've trusted me with the lives of your operatives, which means you trust my judgment. So trust my judgment when I say that if you want me to not get hurt, you've got to stop holding back on me. You've got to stop pushing me away for fear of hurting me, because you're causing the very thing that you're trying to prevent. I've been hurt, yeah, physically, but not because of you. Humanis First. Adam of the itchy trigger finger. Samson. They are the causes of my physical pain, but only you are hurting me here," she says, touching her heart lightly.

There's another smile, and though it's sad, it's warmer than the last one. "I said I loved you, Peter, and I meant it. And I hope that this talk will get you to see reason. I really do. I've love for you to be the one I curl up with to watch movies with. For you to be the one I crawl into bed with. But I've gotta take Abby's advice and see if there's no someone else out there I can love, who can love me back. So for now…we'll work together. I'll help you so you don't have to do everything yourself. And I'll hope that one day you come to me telling me that you realize I'm right."

A hand touches his cheek, and she leans in to kiss him, a chaste but tender kiss, before she moves away to her backpack. A small package is pulled out before the backpack is slung over her shoulder, and she sets the book down on the nearest clean, flat surface to him. "A good-bye present, just in case. I'll send you the information tomorrow," she says quietly, before she starts towards the doors.

The package, if he opens it, is A Tale of Two Cities. A first edition.

Peter had been silent, through all of that, just silent and still, brows furrowed and dark eyes settle down on the torn paper wrapping covering the book where the title is partly visible. One calloused finger peels back some of the brown paper wrapping, revealing the gold leaf print on the scuffed leather cover. Peter's eyes begin to wander from side to side, his attention shifts up, on Melissa walking out the door and noticing the absence of Sasha's shadow cast across the doorway. Maybe he got tired of hearing all of it.

Nothing is said, no goodbye or affirmations, Peter just watches her until she's gone through that door, and then looks down to the book his fingers are still resting atop. If you become just a leader, just Messiah, then you'll forget why you're fighting, she'd said, and while those words ring hollow in his mind right now, they'll be more poignant later on, they'll have more weight when it finally makes sense.

"It is a far, far better thing that I do," Peter says in a hushed tone of voice, reminiscent of the way he'd fondly quote books when he was another man, "than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to…"

His eyes cast to the side and his fingertips come off of the book, "than I have ever known."

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