A Welcome Burden


helena_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title A Welcome Burden
Synopsis Helena lays down her burdens so that Teo might take them up.
Date May 17, 2009

Old Dispensary

It's late again, but Staten Island doesn't have shit like curfew or checkpoints. He stepped over a drunkard facedown on the beach and gave wide margin to a knot of motorcyclists with tattoos that looked like they'd meant something, swept through the backdoors from the docks. He'd been the only visitor to the dispensary for some time, but he's distantly pleased to return knowing there's someone here.

He gives the wireless camera in the corner of the Westernmost door a quick wave, lopes across the floor stirring dust motes past the ankles of his boots.

Helena is in the kitchen. It's there, and out in the garden, where she seems most content, though Peter's continued presence has done a lot for her relative happiness. She's doing little more than sitting at the kitchen table, a cup of liquid in front of her, staring at nothing and thinking rather hard while baking cookie smell fills the area. Perhaps revolutions begin with baked goods?
Teo closes a long-fingered hand on the edge of the door, gazes in through the frame without remarking on either his view of the back of her head or the permeating redolence of baked goods. Not for five seconds, anyway. "Lena," he says. "Ciao. What are you making?" There's a certain level of appetite self-evident in the brisk clip he takes across the room, scuttling to the table. He even goes so far as to drop himself into a chair.

Helena snaps out of her reverie to turn around in her chair and smile at him. "Cookies." she says. "Baking's easiest here with limited tools, and you know how I am. Kitchen or garden." She takes a sip from her cup. "I need to talk to you and Cat about Arthur Petrelli." She frowns a moment, realizing Teo hadn't been there. "I - Peter asked me to meet him. So I did. I thought it was smarter to present myself as amenable to listening to him rather than hostile."

"Cat spoke to him too, awhile ago. Let me know she was going to, beforehand," Teo notes, blankly, but there's a certain absence of affront in the way he phrases that and the register of his tone. He settles his feet on the low rung of the chair legs and his arms second, his elbows swinging back until they meet the flat plank of the chair. "This the asshat who'd had to die before you could come back here to us. I take it Peter keeps his faith in his old man."

"Presently, he does." Helena admits. "And I don't know if who I saw was the same man who's hiding it well, or hasn't become what he's going to be, yet. He had this timeline's Edward Ray with him, who I trust even less now. I could see…possibilities. Bad ones. Does that make sense?"

There's a slow push of air out through the grit of Teo's teeth. "Yes," he says. "There's a varying topography of shit that could happen; general rule is that something does." Optimism, isn't he? He lists sideways on his chair, his elbow steeples on the table and rests his jaw on the heel of his hand. "Edward Ray, huh? I owe him a few brain haemorrhages to what he's put people through.

"What do you want to do about Pinehearst? Cat figures Arthur's interested us as a tool for his political furtherment, though that doesn't necessarily mean our goals are mutually exclusive."

"I think that's very much what Arthur wants us for." Helena agrees. "Though at present his main concern is the fugitives, the ones who went back in time to change things. Or at least, that's what he claims." She pushes her chair out, snagging a mitt from one of the counters and uses it to open the over door. Heat and sweet chocolate and vanilla scents waft through the room. She takes out the tray and sets it on the stovetop, closing the door. "I told him some intel I got from Liz, about Roger Goodman potentially being an assassination target. Since that involves the Company being taken down, it didn't hurt to sweeten that pot, I figured. It knocks them out of the game potentially, if Goodman can bring them down. But Petrelli wants a meeting with Phoenix leaders, to pitch his plans to us."

Spices, cacao, and oven iron remind Teo of somewhere— far, but he's too distracted to make anything of notions too sentimental to be useful. "I imagine that'd be you, Cat and Al, then, likely. Arthur doesn't seem to think much of me for the obvious inadequacies.

"Same with your boy, frankly. No offense taken." His eyes thin around a smile, Cheshire, that doesn't quite pull his mouth, not the slightest bit disingenuous despite the words that accompany. Swiveling his head on its axis, he sits his chin on his shoulder and watches the woman at the oven. "Let me know what they say? If I have an opinion worth jack shit, I'll share it."

"Do you think it's a good idea?" Helena blinks in surprise, pausing to look at him over her shoulder. "All of the Evolved leadership in one room with a man who can strip away all our powers and has god knows what kind of arsenal of abilities he's already gotten his hands on? I found out he took Claire's power…and he's swearing that he's going to give it back, but I don't believe him."

Teo's left eyebrow shifts upward, before furrowing. "I seriously doubt his master plan is anything 's… anything as— vulgar as chopping the abilities off the head of Phoenix.

"If that's what he wanted, his teleporter's a damn sight better-trained than Anne and his surveillance is such that he could've found and neutered you and the others by now. We're hard to find, but he's found us. Mind you, I wouldn't fucking put it past him, but I don't think that's his Plan A. I don't think that's his worst case scenario, either. Seems like something he'd do if we do a little bit worse than refuse to cooperate. Just don't…" He squints.

Motions vaguely with a hand, a little like throwing darts, or knives, or monkey shit. "Declare war on him right there in the board room, things should be fine. He might even have a halfway decent idea about what to do about Ray and company. I know you've at least seen what they did to Peter, but that's the tip of the fucking 'berg. Ray's set Tyler Case on people all over the fucking grid, has some kid called Niles Wight murdering old friends. Law enforcement could use a hand on this one, even if it's just sharing further intel."

"All I've done so far is indicate I'm willing to listen, and drop him a little bit of intel that will allow him to harm the Company." Helena murmurs. "I'm willing to take the meeting, but I refuse to sign on the dotted line without hearing the offer and talking it over with all of you, first." She runs a hand through her hair, and starts searching through drawers and cabinets. "One of his abilities is being clairvoyant. He can find people. And there's nothing really we can do, do you realize? He could bring the lid down on us anytime we want, and he's got the resources enough that we'd never see it coming." The successful acquisition of a plate and a spatula are her reward for her efforts.

There's a faint show of teeth, and Teo slouches over a fist curled under his jaw. "I don't know," he says, wryly. "Gabriel Gray killed him, didn't he?"

She wouldn't know either, of course, and he already knows that. Coruscation of nuclear explosion furrowing the night sky, clouds a cauldron, naught by deep sucking blackness afterward and— silence. Could have meant anything; they'd left 2019 behind before knowing who had escaped the explosion intact. He remembers the story that she had told him, and is left with a frown creasing his mouth because he remembers, also, that in this world, Gabriel is powerless. Peter, too. Phoenix stands deprived of its two biggest guns. "We can't do jack shit now," he acknowledges, finally. "So we listen. For now."

Helena shakes her head. "Peter's not powerless." she insists. "He's tested positive as Evolved. His powers got swapped. Gillian has Peter's ability, and I think Gabriel has Gillian's, and by default, that would mean Peter has Gabriel's. I don't know the nature of how Gabriel's ability works, or even quite what it is exactly, at its core, without the - you know, killing people. Peter hasn't killed anyone." But maybe it's a matter of time.

"Have you been thinking about what I offered you a few nights ago? If you need more time, it's okay."

"Fucking hope not." About Peter killing people. Teo gives an articulate eyebrow to go with that; a tacit request to be kept. Updated. On— that. His mouth flattens around a grimace that has nothing to do with how delicious her baked goods smell and he lists back slightly, his elbows folding in the table top. His eyes travel restless across the counter. "I have.

"Talked it over with my…" God knows why this word comes so difficult to him whenever he talks to his friends. Helena's a Democrat and advocate of all variety of human rights besides. Still, it's with the torturous precision of a jigsaw that he manages to shape the word: "…boyfriend. The one who joined up recently? I don't know if Cat debriefed you. He's— a doctor, and independently wealthy. Would like to run a couple tests and discuss a little longer. It would help if I knew, uh.

"What… did— did I use the Formula in 2019?"

Helena brings the plate over to the table, but cautions, "They're still hot." before she hesitates a moment and admits, "You had. You were able to do something to people's minds…like temporarily short circuit them. Someone tried to kill me at one point and you stopped them that way. But I don't know if that's necessarily the ability you'd get." She considers. "So you want to take one of the samples and give it to your boyfriend?" The word is less hesitant in her mouth, though briefly, her expression is almost wistful. He and Alex had been - will be? so happy.

There's a bob affirmitive of Teo's head. "Or find somewhere for him to look at it. It's— he's Salvatore Bianco. Son of the mayor of New York City, but he's operating under an alias full-time these days, with a little help from the metamorph trick. He knows 'science,'" he says, a shrug seesawing up through his shoulders. "And is worried about me, I guess. A symptom that can be attributed entirely to his overzealousness, I'm sure. I never get in trouble.

"You look sad," he notices, as baldly tactless as a child. He reaches out with a work-rough forefinger and thumb, pinces them closed on the edge of the cookie. "The Formula's safe, right? You hid it?" It's been no end of discomfiture to him, that both Edward Ray and Arthur Petrelli are aware of Phoenix's key locations. As suggestions go, that had been one of his more insistent ones.

Helena nods. "Here in the dispensry." she says, but does not go into detail. "I'd be willing to give one over to you for him." Then, smiling faintly, "I know a lot about how many of our future selves ended up, Teo. Some of it's good, a lot of it's bad, and I'm not certain whether providing too much information about what could or never be is a good idea."

No detail is asked for. The dispensary is good enough for that purpose, and the offer of one vial accepted with a nod. As for the future, Teo turns the corner of his mouth upward on the tilt of a blade in hand. "Human beings are capable of all paths but usually only see the one. I don't know. Sounds like 2019 was a good place to be, in general. Phoenix — we got what we wanted, more or less, didn't we?

"If at the cost of a generally benevolent tyrant." He bites down on the cookie, dropping five or seven crumbs down into the careful hollow of his other hand. "But Ray's here, hunting Goodman, who apparently has a few months before he can accumulate all of the hard evidence on the Company that he needed. I can see why you wouldn't wanna hold out false hope."

Helena admits, "That's the reason I warned Petrelli. The Company coming down is a good thing, even if I need to give over to a necessary evil for that purpose. The future was pretty golden…to a degree. In majority, I want to make that happen. But there are still problems. And Humanis First is a big one. They need to be stopped." Her hands clench, going white at the knuckle. "Teo, there are things - I don't know who to tell them to, and I have to tell someone, I don't think I can bear it alone. But Cat would never forget, and it would kill Peter."

"If this is something you wish Cat would forget, I probably wouldn't," Teo points out slowly, worry dragging deeper lines into his forehead above the suture of his brows. He frowns, mostly at the sharp-knuckled knots that she's clenched her hands into. Once, he had politely accepted ignorance about the truth behind the Bomb. That feels like a long time ago.

Not because he's changed that much. Frankly, he hasn't. But because this isn't about Peter Petrelli: this would appear to be about Helena Dean, who is an altogether different person, and a different person to him. "Tell me. Tamara says the future's always changing." Nor does Teo have any way of knowing how closely those words hearken to the faith that his analogue had had in the seer.

Helena takes a deep breath. Somehow a part of her already knew she'd take Teo into her confidance in this. It's like the night they were in the park, sitting on the log, and she confessed what she was afraid of him. "The history of the future I was in, had some changes." She begins with the deaths of Angela Petrelli and Daniel Linderman. Goes on to how she and the others are released from Moab, become celebrities. But that's not all. "On May 8th, 2011…Peter would have, or is going to, or I don't even know what call it, but he apparently proposes to me. I accept. Ten days later, I make an address at Columbia University. You weren't - aren't there. But a member of Humanis First is. She's a suicide bomber, and she manages to kill fourteen people. Amongst them are Alexander, one of Brian's replicates, Grace, Owen, Django…" she trails off and then confesses, "Me. Amongst others."

The cast of Teo's face goes sepulchral, his cheeks hollowing out and the lines deepening years around his eyes. He grits his teeth and the cookie breaks in half in the inadvertent pressure of his forefinger, middle and thumb. He doesn't say anything for a few long seconds, processing the progression of events one by one, until he concludes with a grinding sort of sigh.

"That's not going to fucking happen," he enunciates clearly.

"I hope not." Helena says. "Thing is, after I died, it prompted Peter - along with his father, to further the legislation that modified registration, made it optional. Amongst other things." She looks to the side. "After I died, Peter married Gillian. They had a son. A little boy. So you see, when we got there…" She trails off. Teo can fill in the blanks.

The Sicilian's eyes narrow nearly to nothing. "This time around," he says, with an edge of teeth to it, "it'll be fucking different. You've had a first-hand view of which policy changes work, right? You'll be able to tell Arthur and Peter. Their muse doesn't have to be fucking dead to play the part." So like him, to pull apart the concatenation of events and musculature of motivations into functioning components.

And rebuild something new out of it. Something better. "You'll see to that. They'll fucking see."

Helena's shoulders lift a little, like suddenly there was a huge weight and now it as at least manageable, if not gone. "You have no idea." she whispers, "I look at people and I know things now, Teo. Sylar…" she shakes her head. "God, Abby…"

"What? They're— dead? Evil?" Teo's back goes upright, perpendicular to the level of his chair at the uncomfortable rigidiy of a razorblade. "What— did he—? Gabriel's been good lately. Helpful as fuck. You saw him at Moab. What happened? Someone fucking hurt Abigail?" The chair rattles underneath him as he rockets out of it, finding his feet, instantly that wolfish sort of confrontational. The way he's always been, where it comes to the girl Beauchamp.

"No," Helena shakes her head. "Sylar - Gabriel? Was part of Frontline, and he was married to Eileen. He was…I don't know if he was good, but he had a good purpose, I think." Helena's tone is still somewhat shocked. "He asked me not tell his current self about it, so dont't you either, okay? Abby married to Deckard. She had kids, I think from another marriage before him. But at one point, she refused to heal someone who was helping us try to go back, because she believed us doing so would end the world. She actually refused to help someone."

Marriage. Despite that that particular cultural construct has abounded Italy for as long as the church has been there, Teo's startled to hear it, of both his (other) holy virgin and the renowned serial killer who so few of his cohorts trust. Good implies idealized nature, cause indicates— something a great deal more practical than that, which the part of Teo that isn't sold on idealism is left to appreciate.

His mouth opens and closes a few times, pink-rimmed and large-eyed, a fish who finds the gasping throes of its own suffocation hilarious. "Deckard and Abby," he concludes, at length, a little lamely. "Huh. Figures, she would've had to change."

Helena smiles faintly. "They had lives. Happy ones. Well…Peter and Gillian? Not so happy." She shakes her head. "God. I know he's helping her, but every time I see her with him, I want to…" her fingers curl into claws for a moment. "He's not hers, yet. Maybe not ever, if I have my way. I'm not going to die if I can stop it."

"You and me both," Teo says, his face purging slowly of its original sanguine shades in favor of something harder-edged and a little paler besides. His hands close slowly on the top of the table, flex loose again. Emptied, he picks up the riven pieces of cookie that had discarded pebbly out of his grip before, thumbs the fragments into his mouth one by one. Blankly, then, "Not that I'm the fucking paragon of healthy relationships either. Takes more than staying alive, I think, but you seem to have the rest covered.

"I must have gotten pretty damn fucked up after all of you died." The egocentrism of that observation doesn't escape him, and it sits queasily against Teo's Catholic guilt as it is. He glances off the edge of the table.

"You were with Hana for a while. I do think you kind of went on a bender." Helena admits. "When you saw us, you were happy to see me, but when you saw Alexander? Oh, you lit up."

He would have. Teo cracks a grin, shows teeth. This is, after all, him remaining blissfully unaware of how much Helena knows about his thus far disasterous affair with his best friend, despite the sympathies she had subtly expressed when his aunt had joined them at dinner in the Bronx, months ago. "Yeah," he exhales. "Well, he's a stupid bastard but I can't really picture life without him. It's been fucking depressing without you guys since January."

"Trust me." Helena says wryly. "Moab ain't Club Med. And me and Alex, we got," her grin turns bitter, "Special treatment."

Pallid eyes shutter a narrow squint of focus. Teo hesitates, brushing crumbs up underneath his rough fingers. "Want to talk about it?"

"I want to talk about everything." she says softly, "Because all this time I haven't had anyone I could talk to, about it. We had other problems, where and when we were when we got out." She swallows. "Tamara killed him, but I almost wish he was still alive so I could kill him too."

Tamara killed him. She's seen that look of shadowed surprise on Teo's face before, but he had been older then by a decade and subtly amused, the rim of a scimitar smile bending his mouth as he listened. Here, he's raw shock, his features jarred out of their proper place by it. "You can talk to us," he mumbles, all the while wondering what the fuck Verse had done? "Al, Pete, Cat, me. We're all here for you. Was" words hyphenate into an awkwardly stretched silence, before he finds them again. "Was it interrogation?"

Helena nods. "He never hurt me - no, that's a lie. He didn't physically torture me, beyond strapping me down and turning on some heat lamps." This is not something that Helena's brought to voice really, except briefly in the future. She can't look at Teo when he talks, but stares at the table instead. "He'd take pieces of my memory, and he'd twist them. In my head, he killed my mother again, and made me watch. He'd torture you all, he'd tell me the only way I could save you was to give him information. But I never did. Never." Pretty little fairy princess. Only in moments like these, not so much.

It's true. Fairy princess would've had a carriage made of fig leaves and escorted by dragonflies, not heat lamps and strapped down on tables for torture. Teo's left to stare, secondhand hate showing out of his face for a long moment that he spends doing nothing but breathing through the grille of his teeth. "You and Alexander," he says, eventually. "Fuck. I don't even know— fuck. First rounds of drinks is going to be on me."

Hel smiles faintly. "I was so glad when Tamara killed him - but I was sort of angry see, because I wanted to kill Verse, too. With my bare hands. Worse than Kazimir, worse than even Ethan."

"For yourself, not the world. Something like that?" It's an uncomfortable query to have to make, from a young man whose conscience is such a volatile thing by itself, but Teo's careful not to make this about him. He studies the woman with eyes narrow from concern.

Helena nods a moment silent, but then insists, "Don't get me wrong. I don't flip out in the middle of the night or anything. I mean, I'm handling it. If I don't think about it too often. It's done." She looks up at him. "Peter got moved to Red Level the day that Verse thought I'd finally cracked and given him information. Which was false anyway. The day you guys came? That morning, I nearly beat another woman to death so I could get put in Red Level to try and see him. The woman - Tabitha - she'd tried to beat me up a few times, but I think I came close to killing her."

And not with her own grenade, Teo takes it. His mouth goes lopsided, half of a frown or a crooked smile, or some hapless combination of both. "We would've come sooner," he says, "but there was some shit going down on the day we were originally scheduled. Internal emergency, it looked like. Suddenly the guard was doubled and they were doing internal checks all over the fucking place. Wasn't our day. I don't know if you saw how much shit was going on the day we did go to it, topside.

"I'm glad you're handling it," Teo concludes, scowling around a certain element of uncertainty. "As it were."

Helena smiles faintly and shrugs. "The talking does help." she admits. "But taking the weight off me puts the weight on you, doesn't it?"

"Maybe," Teo says. Stops short, teeth clicking to silence. He snares himself another cookie. "No. Mayb— no. That's not how it works. Even if it was, I'd do it. I can handle a little pressure. If I've ever had regrets, it wouldn't be about accepting that."

Hel takes a cookie too. "Anyway. So yeah. I'll get you one of the vials, and you can take it back with you to your doctor." She lets out a little sigh. "It's unfair of me," she admits, "But I was happy to see you and Alex together."

There's an odd squint of Teo's eyes, and then a blush half-emerges across his face. He says something noncommittal about the guy he's seeing now, and he'll have Al's back for-fucking-ever, before he stuffs the cookie in his trap and muffles the rest of his response into the desultory clack of molars and flattening crumbs.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License