A Thousand Words


arthur_icon.gif gillian2_icon.gif peter_icon.gif

Scene Title A Thousand Words
Synopsis In an attempt to find out information for her next move, Gillian finds much more than she expected. In the form of someone she heard was dead who isn't, and severely conflicting stories.
Date June 15, 2009

Pinehearst Headquarters

Amid the urban parks of Fort Lee New Jersey, the Pinehearst Corporate Headquarters is an unusual sight. Architecturally designed with an eye for the natural environment, the building is both sleek and modern while retaining a touch of the natural world. The primary facility is a seven story office building rising up out of forested grounds, the reflective green-tinted plate windows show not the neighboring Jersey cityscape, but reflect the natural splendor of the six acres of land the facility rests on. The secondary facility and central lobby is a two-floor structure with a rounded front lined with square columns, an entire green-tinted glass wall behind it shadowing the lobby beyond.

Between these two structures, a central courtyard is filled with neatly landscaped trees surrounded by bark mulch, a fountain prominently displaying a stone slab with the Pinehearst logo flanked by benches, and stone walksways that meander through this lush, natural splendor. Near the lobby entrance, an enormous blue and green double-helix proudly identifies the building as Pinehearst property.

Wherever we go, we are forced to make decisions based on our own moral compass…

A heavy rain comes down in sheets across the tinted green windows of Pinehearst Headquarters, the loud pattering sound mixing with the cool late-spring rain that hammers the concrete walkway outside. As the automated doors slide open, a secretary turns her focus up from the desk towards the dark-haired woman coming in from the rain.

Is it right? Is it wrong? These conceptions of morality are ingrained into us from a young age.

A quietly spoken name, and a curt nod from the secretary, and the raven-haired woman slips past the desk, shoes thumping on the thinly carpeted lobby floor as she proceeds towards the center elevator, the one she knows from experience has access to the lower levels. There's nothing official about the business she has here at Pinehearst today, nothing legitimate, only work played out in shadow and words spoken in whispers.

Our parents are the foundations for our moral objectivity. It is by their instruction that we learn what is right, and what is wrong.

A hand quietly brushes across a button labeled B-4, bringing the elevator doors closed and motion in slow and gradual descent. One by one, numbers chime away as the elevator moves lower and lower into the depths of Pinehearst's research floor. The green and white proximity badge hanging off of the brunette's belt clearly reads, /Childs, Gillian. She has ever reason, every right to be here.

But do they ultimately spell out who we will become? Is it their upbringing that is most critical in our development, or is there a larger factor to be had?

The elevator comes to a slow stop, doors sliding open to reveal hallways battered and scarred with damage. Impact cracks made in plaster left untended to, fluorescent lights hanging broken from the ceiling, burn marks in wild, waving patterns from laser beams cutting into sheet rock and glass equally — It looks like a warzone.

It ultimately comes down to the question of nature vs. nurture.

The tile floor clicks underfoot on the way to Arthur Petrelli's office, past active laboratories staffed with researchers. The beat of her heart matches the hastened pace of her footfalls, passing by one door after another, and eventually rooms where doors were ripped off of their hinges. Her pace hastens, as does her heartbeat.

Are we defined by our family?

Eventually, she comes to stop at a door, knocking on the office entrance with one hand. "Come in," the old and familiar voice baits from the other side, and here Gillian Childs comes face to face with a future that can now never be.

Or is it the choices we are forced to make, that defines us, ultimately?

It could also be the bad decisions that we make that defines us, cause the deeper that Gillian walks into this monolith of a company, the more she has to wonder if this is any better than the first time she risked walking through those doors. Being used. Being lied to. Just another opportunity for that familiar sounding voice to trick her in some way? It could easily be… But this time she's expecting it, waiting for it. And there's determination in the way she stands, in her heartbeat, in just about everything around her. Determination and a that worry that hastened her heartbeat.

Walking by that torn up hallway didn't help at all. Neither does the grief she's still trying to dismiss, and the anger towards that familiar voice. Another hike in her heartbeat may have to do with that.

It could also just be nerves. Walking into the office of the most powerful man on the planet would unnerve anyone, right?

How's she going to pull this off? Well— wouldn't be the first time she swallowed ire and smiled and spoke. It happened every time she paid her rent. "I see you had some trouble," she says in a slightly raspier voice than normal, possibly due to the rain that dampened her hair and clothes. While she knows part of what happened, she still nods her head to the partially opened door she's holding open with a hand, a gesture of what she's talking about. The door's held open part for the gesture, and part for an escape route…

Behind his desk, Arthur looks up to Gillian with a faint but humorless smile, nodding his head as he lays a closed folded down on the desktop. "I'm glad you came in, I was worried that you might have heard some misinformation." One of Arthur's hands rises to scratch at the side of his nose as he gets up from the seated position. "We had an incident here a few days ago, Peter had brought Gabriel in to see me, and to discuss how to relieve himself of Gabriel's ability. I explained the process they'd be undergoing — the removal of their abilities — and while Peter was fine with it, Gabriel grew hostile."

Arthur's lies come out with equal ease as truths, clouding already murky waters. "I tried to ease Gabriel, but he wasn't having any of it. He demanded to leave, and… I'm not one to keep prisoners here, so I told him he was free to leave at any time." A hand motions to the door behind Gillian. "Unfortunately, that's when a complication occured. A woman we have been attempting to aid, one who is a danger to others with her ability, happened upon Gabriel on her way from the examination lab. She has an ability similar to that of Tyler Case, but Delphine Kuhr — like her brother — has a dangerous ability that she cannot be trusted with. She manipulates genetic information at the base level, which also includes some form of memory alteration or— perhaps mind control. We're not certain how it works…"

Moving to stand in front of the desk, Arthur takes a seat on the corner of it casually, resting his hands across his lap. "The, ah, situation became untenable. Gabriel was affected by Delphine's power, and she used him to escape from the facility. I attempted to stop him, but he fought back. We came to blows and…" Arthur motions out the door, "I think you can see the result. Peter attempted to stop Gabriel, bless his heart… but, Gabriel attacked Peter, and — damage has been done."

Casting his eyes aside, Arthur looks mournful at the notion. "I don't know how much you already know, but I called you down here because I need your help, Gillian. Peter and I both need your help, and…" his head tilts to the side, "You're the only one strong enough now to do what needs to be done."

There's a lot of conflicting information. Trust a man she'd been with for month— despite the lies of old— or a man she barely knows who most everyone seems to say not to trust. It's not as easy a decision as one might think, but Gillian listens to what he says, lips parted, a mild twinge every time that a certain someone who is dead is mentioned. Because she knows how that story ends…

Or she did until he gets to the end.

"Peter needs my help?" she spits out in surprise, having been keeping herself under control until that moment. Everything goes a little erratic for a moment. They're deep enough under ground they won't hear the sudden shift in air temperature— though she senses it. It settles back to the natural patterns slowly.

"I— I'd heard something but I didn't— " There's a sudden biting down on her jaw, clenching teeth together for a moment as her hand tightens on the door. It's could be a trick. But at the same time… "Is— is Peter still— ?" Here? Breathing? Either works, really, cause both she's almost hesitant to ask cause the answer could be relieving, or it could be a trick. It could be a trick, cause her sister sat down beside her inside this very building… "What help do— do the both of you— need exactly?"

"Peter." It's not a reiteration of a name, it's a beckoning. Arthur nods his head towards the back door the the office as it slowly creaks open, followed by a creaking of a wholly different kind. Wheels roll out across the tile floor, rubbed-treaded ones, wheels attached to a chair that Peter Petrelli is currently seated in. He doesn't say anything, not yet, just pushes himself along with hands atop wheels, rolling out to his father's side at the desk.

"Peter's suffered severe spinal damage due to Gabriel's attack on him, I— we're not entirely certain if he'll be able to walk again." Arthur's dark brows furrow, his focus shifted to his son, then back to Gillian. "We're not giving up, not by a long-shot, because someone with the ability to heal exists out there, the issue is just finding them and securing their assistance. But that's not what we need you for, Gillian, not what Peter and I need your help with." There's a nod of Arthur's head, indicating that Peter should give his peace.

"Gillian…" There's a weak, woeful look on Peter's face, full of guilt, full of broken hope. "I know this is going to be hard for you, I— " his dark eyes upturn to her. "We need you to bring in Gabriel and Delphine. She— she's got some sort've control over him, and she's dangerous. She can repair lost abilities, or even manipulated abilities, but there's a price." He's working with his father, he's willingly and personally working with Arthur. There's no semblance of animosity on Peter's face towards his father, nothing that resembles distrust, only hope — hope placed solely on Gillian's shoulders.

"If Delphine is allowed to run loose, she— she could turn Gabriel into a monster. She— there's no telling what she'd do. She's a paranoid schizophrenic, she— her file," Peter nods to the blue folder on Arthur's desk, "she's out of her mind, thinks she's being hunted and persecuted. She's going to hurt Gabriel, and— Gillian— we both know he doesn't deserve this. No— no matter what he's done under her influence."

Wheels— Peter… It's really all Gillian can do to remain fully upright as he wheels himself in, a quiet breath exhaling through parted lips. Hand gripping on the door she still holds open— or at least it remained that way for a bit. She'd been told he was dead— she believed it. And now her eyes tell her something different, but her mind warns her it could be a trick. A conflict of interests. One part of her wants to believe it no matter what kind of trick it could be.

But something about it is very wrong. The words coming out of his mouth barely sound like him. In all the times she spoke to him about Gabriel, he'd rarely remained completely calm. There's always been some animosity… Jealousy. Anger.

The puzzle includes so many wrong pieces the picture looks noticably wrong.

Even if she can just barely notice those details in comparison to the memory of being told he was dead… That might be why she suddenly abandons her safer place near a secured exit as she steps deeper into the room, almost as if unconsciously pulled. There's a tremor of shock in the way she breaths, in her heartbeat, moisture forming in her eyes… It's almost as if she's stepping to accept the folder.

Instead she's moving for the man confined to a wheel chair, not even looking at the folder, or the man he's wheeled up next to. The man he's in full support of.

Of course the help they're asking for is something else entirely. "I was— " she trails off, unable to finish, forcing herself to stop. It's almost like someone would tear off a bandaid when she quickly looks away from him to glance at the man standing beside him, "I don't know where she was taken," says truthfully. "I could— find out. But it'd take time." Time…

But… she bites down on her lip, hesitating a few feet away from them. "Can I— can I have— a minute alone with Peter?" she looks back at him again.

"I can supply you with Delphine's location at any time. Gabriel— is a harder monster to tackle now that he has a majority of his original powers back. But Delphine has no such protection against my abilities," Arthur's brows crease as he gives Gillian a momentary look of uncertainty, "but… we have time." His eyes divert from Peter to Gillian, then back again with a curiously approving smile. "Of course you can. I'm not quite as heartless as my ex-wife would like everyone to think." There's a bit of a jovial tone there, even if it is for show.

Arthur walks over to Gillian's side, resting a hand on her shoulder, giving a gentle squeeze. "Take all the time you want, I have to go speak to someone about a different problem anyway, take your time." Arthur's gaze drifts over to settle on Peter, a crooked smile crossing Arthur's lips. "Don't give her too hard of a time," he notes with a gentle tone of voice, bringing his hand up to nudge Peter's chin playfully before turning towards the door.

Eventually, Arthur leaves Gillian and Peter alone, and it's Peter's inspecting stare that falls on Gillian now, his brows creased together.

Right. Find anyone, anywhere, anytime. That makes stalling a little difficult. Gillian glances at him for a moment, not really startled by the reminder, cause she didn't forget it, but it makes the possibility of stalling on this new mission a little more difficult. Not as easy finding Gabriel. Assuming it's true, that's a good piece of information to remember. But then he's being all jovial, and stepping out, leaving her to look back at the man in a wheel chair.

There's so much she wants to say, but… so much she doesn't think she can. So instead she just steps forward the final few steps closer and reaches out to touch him. In a lot of ways she's just making sure he's there, pushing hair back from his face, touching the scar that earned him her first nickname for him.

"Remember when you dropped me off in the middle of fucking nowhere with just a note saying you'd be back?" she asks in a whispered voice, as she looks into his eyes for some sign of not knowing what she's talking about. Ghosts she's seen. Shapeshifting she's seen. "Bet you're wishing we both would've stayed there a while longer, huh?" And by 'there' she means Hawaii—

Grimacing slightly, Peter nods his head. "Yeah I— I kind of want to just… walk on a sandy beach, you know?" The look he gives Gillian is a hard one to forget, perfect memory aside. It's that look of sad resignation to the chair he is now bound to, that weary smile of a man who's fought too long for too little. "I um… I'm sorry for— for everything." He can't look her in the eye, and so he doesn't — not once.

"I— Gabriel came to find me, right after you left that day. Hell I— I thought you might've run into him on the way out. He— we had some words, I— Christ, I thought he wanted to help. I just— I think he— I don't know. He just wanted to save himself, I guess." Slouching back into his wheelchair, Peter lifts his eyes up to Gillian with another faint smile. "M'sorry I couldn't stop him— couldn't… couldn't save him. It— " he looks down to his lap, eyes partly closed. "I tried. I— I really did."

"Which part are you sorry for exactly?" Gillian has to ask, relieved that he understands the beach in Hawaii enough that she's hoping it's not just some shapeshifter pretending to be Peter. Doesn't rule out all the possible faking that could be there, but it does rule that out. Instead of leaning over to touch him, she actually kneels down in front of him, so that she can look up at his face when he lowers his eyes away.

She's done this before, mostly with leaning over and tilting her head to the side, but it's actually bringing her lower than his seated form, and moving her hand to rest on his knee.

"Gabriel doesn't want to be saved by anyone," she says, though his story conflicts with the one she'd already heard. In that one, Gabriel admited Peter did save him. Saved his life, in fact… but that's not the story she's hearing now… Only one person can be telling the truth…

"Did you apologize to Gabriel too?" She doesn't think he did, according to the conflicting story, and from the way he'd picked a fight even without the hunger activated…

There's a subtle nod from Peter, as he turns his head to the side, anything but look on the scar on her forehead. "On the way down in the elevator, yeah." He doesn't sound convinced, either about the apology or whether or not Gabriel actually accepted it. "I— I screwed up. I— I didn't mean for any of this to happen, Gillian. You, Gabriel… I— this is all wrong." It's wrong on so many levels, so many ways from the direction the future was supposed to take shape in.

Breathing out a tired sigh, Peter closes his eyes again. "Gabriel's got almost all of his powers back, he— Delphine's got him completely under her control. There's— she's dangerous, Gillian." Dark brows crease together as Peter finally looks to the young woman crouching in front of his chair, lingers on her eyes for just a moment, then looks slowly — regretfully — away. "I'm sorry I wasn't strong enough."

"I was told you were dead," Gillian says suddenly, moving a hand to touch his arm, wondering just how much he can't feel with this spinal injury. Nodding his head around a lot, but he could wheel in as well. So arm should be able to feel the squeeze of her hand, even if his knees couldn't. "That was— I'm glad you're here…" Even if he's stuck in a chair, and possibly talking crazy— apologize to Gabriel? But alive is alive. Alive is better than she thought he'd been for a few days now.

She takes in a slow breath, looking down to where her hand touches him, damp hair falling into her face a bit. "No one means for any of this shit to happen, but you can't take the blame for everything… The only way to be strong… is to stop being weak." Repeated words. But words that helped her in a way. There's a pause. Can't get anything by buring head in the sands. Direct questions.

Eyes move back up, trying to look at him whether he looks at her or not. "So the whole kissing me is probably one of those things you're apologizing for, huh?" Part of her knows it was likely all just the power talking, but Teo implied she needed to be brave enough to ask. And she said she'd wing it. This is winging it.

"Yes." There's no clarification, no sorry for nearly killing you, just confirmation that Peter is sorry for the whole thing. Breathing out a heavy sigh, Peter's hands work anxiously on the arms of his wheelchair, rubbing off nervous sweat on the leather padding before turning his focus back to Gillian.

"Who told you— " He only now realizes what she said, "Who— why would anyone say I was dead?" It only takes a moment for Peter to jump to his own conclusions. "Delphine," he practically hisses her name out the way he would have hissed the name Sylar so long ago. "Gillian I— I'm sorry."

There's a twitch of her hand against his arm when he just says Yes. Gillian lets go and settles back on her heels, leaning away from him a little without actually moving further away. It's subtle showing of some disappointment. …But a disappointment she knew she should have excepted. "Of course— why wouldn't you be sorry for everything," she shakes her head. "Forget it." At least he can. Maybe when this is all over, she can too. Right now it…

"You're not dead so it doesn't matter. Stop apologizing for everything. Just cause your actual spine is broken doesn't mean your other one is." The one that matters most, in some cases. "Might be able to find a healer to get you back on your feet again, but you're the only one who can stop being the guy who apologizes for everything." Even things she only partically regrets. "And the guy who runs away and hides from everything. That's on you."

How did that future ever come to be? "I'm glad you're closer to your old self, at least."

"Closer." Peter admits with an inclination of his head, "This," he taps one hand on the wheel nearest to it, "isn't the biggest problem though." Once he's done feeling sorry for himself, there's a bit of the old Peter Petrelli still left in there, even if it is scrambled by whatever Arthur's done to him. "Gabriel's under Delphine's influence, and you have to get him away from her, and— I don't know, my dad probably knows how to stop her."

Narrowing his eyes, Peter looks away, "I know this is a lot for you to take on, but," his brows twitch in a hesitant expression of uncertainty, "but my dad has faith in you," those dark eyes find their way back to Gillian again. "He knows you'll be able to stop whatever it is Delphine's done to him and bring them both back. I— I know it."

Closer— and still not quite there. Gillian can't help but continue watching him, even if she has to look away when he talks about Gabriel and the woman she only briefly saw from a distance. The woman who Teo seemed to recognize. The one who could fix everything. Or that's how it sounded. And he's telling her exactly what his father did before he left the room, with more information there. "Might be difficult. Even before this happened, Gabriel and I were having… problems," she says, shaking her head a bit, even if bringing up her own personal issues with him is just another delay.

Even if there's going to need to be a lot more delays, most likely. "I'll deal with it, whether you believe I can or not." Though very likely she'll deal with it in a way contrary to how they might want her to. That's just the way she is sometimes… So many jumbled and conflicting details.

Moving to stand up, she leans over to tap fingers on his forehead gently. "Maybe when this is all over and you stop having to apologize for everything, I'll show you my new tattoo." For the first time since she walked in, she smiles at him, dimples visible. Too bad it's a forced smile.
Peter manages a laugh, even if it's not an entirely honest one. At the very least, they can be fake together. "I do believe you can… if anyone can, it's you." Peter's smile seems just a touch more honest now, as he wheels his chair just a bit closer to her to keep the distance between them not as great. "Hey," his brows tense, "when all this is over…"

He was going to say something.

Maybe things between us can be different.

A thought, it can be said, is often worth a thousand words.

When it's all over… Thoughts are worth a thousand words. Gillian closes her eyes a moment, the whisper of a thought in the back of her mind. A voice that sounds like his, but isn't quite. There'd been a long telepathic conversation with Teo to brace her for even a single thought— but even then it feels a little different. Maybe because he'd not meant her to hear it.

"We'll things out when it happens. A lot to worry about." Maybe psycho powered woman. Wheel chair. Not to mention there's a blonde girl who leads a resistance group who might want things to remain more or less the same. And her own strained relationship. And an electrical replicator and a guy who thinks he knows what everyone is going to do would have words against anything. Nothing's ever going to be simple, is it? But like Teo said, she'd probably be bored otherwise.

As he's wheeled closer, it allows her to more easily lean down to press her forehead against the top of his head, her nose against his forehead. "For the record…" There's a lot of records she could clear up here… There's a long pause, perhaps dramatic. It's actually her hesitating. A lot.

"I'm still mad you told me to go to hell." Not quite where she planned to go with that. But…

"I'm not mad anymore," Peter says in response, quietly, but the affection is hesitatingly reciprocated in a hand coming up to rest on Gillian's cheek, eyes still closed. "You… you should go— go see what my dad can give you." Peter swallows, tense and tired, "I'll be here when you get back— I— " his hand comes away from her cheek, and he wheels his chair away from her, trying to give a modicum of distance. "Could… could you tell Helena I'm alright? She— nobody needs to think— just tell her I'm okay, and— and that I miss her."

Sometimes, words are worth a lot too.

The sudden moving away leads her to straighten before she falls over. Gillian's eyes open as he mentions Helena, and asks her to… Yeah, sometimes words mean a lot. "Yeah— yeah, I'll do that," she says with a shake of her head. That twinge settles into her chest for a moment— a sense of the sky overhead increasing, but she blocks it out and tries to focus on something else. Without much real success. "I'll see you later," she adds, even if she doesn't look back as she moves away toward the door and pulls it shut behind her.

Information… Part of her's very tempted to just run for the nearest emergency stairwell and try to get out of the building before anyone can stop her, but… the information might be important, so she looks around for the old man.

Arthur didn't wander far, or if he did, he returned promptly. Standing just outside of the office door, he turns his attention to Gillian wordlessly. One hand moves, offering out a folded slip of paper clearly containing information printed off of a computer. "This is Delphine Kuhr's present location, and a map to the location from here. I can't guarantee that she'll be there when you arrive, so if that changes," Arthur reaches inside of his jacket, producing a cell phone, offered out to Gillian. "Call me, my number is already programmed inside."

That doesn't give her much time to stall at all, does it? Gillian takes the map to the location, and the address and glances over it. Perfect memory sucks. She folds it up anyway and tucks it into her coat. "Wasn't expecting to get dragged on a goose chase when I came here. I'm in my business shoes," she says, trying to hide the emotional tinges in her voice from the 'longer than a minute' alone with Peter. And failing.

She takes the cellphone. "I'll call you if she's not there," she says, tucking it away in her pocket.

"I don't think the other yous walk," Arthur states with a faint smile, before turning his back on her and headed back into his office. "Go to work, Gillian. You're needed."

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