helena_icon.gif peter_icon.gif

Scene Title Armor
Synopsis Peter comes to Helena, not knowing why and finds someone who is willing to teach him what it means to feel again.
Date July 6, 2010

Village Renaissance Building

Summer in New York City - when it's not having its weather systems unduly harrassed - is a hot, humid affair, but there's a certain ambience to it as well, especially when the sun has starts to go reddish in the hint that it might just be starting its true descent into a full sundown. That's when the heat of the day starts to cool just at its edges, and people break out the grills for dinner, and mothers start calling to their children to come home from their dances under sabotaged fire hydrants. It's the hour when people decide it's cool enough to take their dogs out for walks, and people start commuting home. Summer in New York City is hot and humid, but also full of life.

The nature of this weather fills Helena with an odd joy and contentment, two emotions that have been rare for her these past few years. She celebrates by keeping one of the windows open and sitting perched on the lipped shelf on the inside of the sill, One bare toe touching the floor and the other bent at the knee to serve as a backing for her laptop. Columbia in the fall has prompted her to devote her time to online prep classes, but she's distracted, face turned toward the street to watch life happening below, and indulge in her connection to it.

Somewhere in the more temperate apartment — thanks to Helena's own personal brand of air-conditioning — a wooden frame clunks against a bookshelf. The darkly dressed silhouette of Peter Petrelli is like a ghost seen only in peripheral vision, blacks slacks and button-down brick red shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. The photograph of Cat and Helena that he sets back on the shelf had attracted his attention for however long he'd been lingering there in the apartment.

But with that wood-on-wood noise, his attention lifts up towards the blonde staring out at the street and the way goldenrod sunset light filters through the windows down on her. Peter has always had a problem with knocking and something of a mental block when it comes to personal space.

The unfortunate combination is that most of the time he always has a way to let himself in uninvited.

Helena's fingers grip the laptop, a reflex action to keep herself from letting it tumble down into the street from having to sit up quickly. No matter how tight building security is, there's always going to be ways for others to invade private spaces, and one simply can't account for everything. Helena's personal levels of paranoia have fallen to a distinct low these past few months, but she's shifted herself down onto her foot at the very least once Peter makes himself known. For a few moments Helena regards him in silence, takes in the beard and the dark clothes. Then very calmly she closes the laptop and pads on barefeet to place it on the desk. As she walks she also speaks.

"What do you want, Peter?" It would be easy to assume her tone is scornful, but it's not. Level, maybe slightly resigned, gentle, tinged with humor. But he only comes to see her when he wants something from her. "It's hot out. Want something to drink?" She starts heading for the kitchen.

"Nothing…" is something of a misleading answer given that he's standing in her apartment. Brows furrowing together, Peter looks back at the photograph of Cat and Helena for a moment, then back to the blonde in question. "Yeah it… water'd be nice." The awkward pause that comes next is where he averts his eyes to the floor. "Thanks…"

Leaning away from the bookshelf, Peter lazily takes a few scuffing footsteps across the handwood floor, tucking his hands into the pockets of his slacks. "I can't even remember the last time we talked…" is more telling than it sounds, "I just— thought… it might be nice to see what you were up to. I'm not… really sure where we left off, I just know you weren't very happy with me."

Looking towards the laptop Helena closed, Peter's brows furrow, voice sounding a bit distant. "Working on something for Phoenix?"

"No, school." She moves about the kitchen with quiet efficiency, getting a water for him, pulling out a bottled fruit drink for herself. As she walks up to him and holds out the glass, the smile she gives him is careful but genuine. "I'm in at Columbia. I start as a polisci major in the fall. But it's been a while since I've done the academic thing, so I'm enrolled in some prep courses over the summer." She uncaps her drink and takes a sip.

"Abby told me you and she partner on a rig, are you going to the opening of her new bar? I helped her name it: the Abbey. Or maybe she's naming it Abby's Abbey. But you know, something to do with nuns." There's a sudden grin at that, and then she asks, "The last time I saw you was when the safehouse got raided by MESSIAH and I beat West Rosen to within an inch of his life. Before that, at the gala."

"Right… right," Peter mumbles as he reaches out and takes the glass of water, brows furrowing together. Up this close, Helena can see that he's thinner in the face than he's been in the past, masked somewhat by the scraggly beard he's grown in. Dark circles accent his eyes in an unflattering way; he looks tired, very tired. Taking a sip from the glass even if just to occupy himself with anything other than talking, Peter's attention drifts along the walls, the windows and the desk. He never quite settles eye contact on Helena herself.

"I can't believe you're really attenting Columbia, it— " there's a snorted laugh, not a scarcastic one but something more genuinely surprised. "Polisci, that's… that's very you," he admits with a hesitant smile, looking up to Helena with brows creased. For a moment, it looks like Peter wants to say something, his eyes meeting Helena's and lips just barely parting to speak, but instead he looks away, dips his head down and turns away from Helena, walking over to one of the windows to watch the street.

"I'm glad you're happy…" is a bit of a presumption on Peter's behalf, but all signs point to it. "Can… I ask you a weird question?"

"Happy's very subjective." she notes, "But I'm happier than I was, if that makes a difference." She seems to have no trouble looking him in the eye, but she also doesn't let him escape her proximity, crossing back to the window to stand next to him and look out over the cityscape. "You can," she says, "But if I answer you, you have to tell me what you were going to say just a moment ago." She doesn't comment on how tired and worn out he looks, she's sure he's well aware of it, and Peter was never someone who let others take care of him. It's just taken her a long time to realize it.

Dark eyes flick over to Helena, regarding Helena in peripheral vision. When Peter's attention turns back to the window, it seems more like he's staring at his own muted reflection in the glass. "Do you remember the day we met?" It's an innocent enough question, and as Peter turns from the window, his boots clunk softly against the hardwood floor.

"A couple summers ago…" sounds uncertain, and Peter's brows scrunch together as he regards the blonde cautiously. It's fortunate, then, that he occupies himself with a long drink from that glass of water, it makes not talking anymore all the easier, and lets Helena fill in the blanks.

"Don't you? We were underground, and you were hiding in the ruins, and you'd made those pictures. But I really don't consider that to be the moment we really met, if you know what I mean. I tend to think of the day we really met being when you found me running away from Liu and his buddies from the cock fights in Chinatown." She peers at him sidelong. "Are you - don't you remember?" Something breaks faintly in her smile, as resolved as she is to their current circumstances, the possibility that she's been wiped away from memory is somewhat hurtful. "What were you going to say, before?"

"No, yeah I— I remember I just…" Peter lifts a hand to wave it dismissively in the air, "I've been under a lot of stress lately, it's been keeping me up at night and I just feel like I'm being pulled in two different directions at once, you know?" Peter's dark brows lift up slowly and a weary smile crosses his lips crookedly — though by no intention of wryness, it's just how he smiles.

"It's not important…" Peter adds to what he was going to bring up earlier, "I already forgot what it was." Rubbing one hand at the back of his neck, Peter looks down into his glass of water, pacing across the floor of the apartment slowly, dark eyes scanning the floorboards before he looks up and over to Helena again.

"I just got thinking about the past, is all. Got to thinking about…" brown eyes close and Peter's posture deflated some. "I dunno… I'm not really sure why I came here. I don't— really want to go home, so I just…" Peter's eyes open, attention cast aside to the windows again. "I have two empty apartments to go home to and nobody to blame but myself for it."

"Liar." She says it with a certain fondness, perhaps enough so that he won't mind the accusation, which wasn't entirely serious anyway. "I don't know what you want, and I don't know what it is you're afraid to say, but whatever you're trying to resolve, that won't even begin to happen until you just let it be said." she says. "I told you before I'm your friend, but I'm not going to cat and mouse with you over your own feelings. You need to talk? Alright. I'm listening." She turns away from the window to lean against the wall and watch him. Helena's tone is kind but firm.

"You have to tell me what you want. Well," she ammends, "You don't really have to. And I know it's always easier for you to keep it in, it's kind of what you." Her tone is faintly wry and lacks judgement about what she considers a fact about Peter Petrelli. "I want to be someone you can talk to, but I'm not going to sabotage myself to do it."

"Sorry," is breathily offered to Helena, and finds Peter inbound for the chair she'd been sitting at just before he arrived, taking residence up in front of her closed laptop. Setting the glass of water down on the table, beads of condensation roll down the glass and collect in a ring at its base. "I don't really know what I want to talk about, I guess… I just wanted to talk?" He manages an awkward laugh at that. "I know it sounds stupid, or— maybe it just sounds like me being me."

Breathing through his nose, Peter folds his hands in his lap and stares at them, silent for a moment. "I… I wanted to apologize to you, about those things I said last year. I wasn't— myself. You probably already heard about what happened by now, I just… There was so much of him becoming a part of me that, by the end, it felt like I lost myself. I said— did— some pretty terrible things to you. Hit you." Peter swallows noisily, looking up to Helena slowly.

"Over the winter, I got really sick. The five-ten, it… I heard I died on the table at the hospital, I dunno how long. They called in a healer to fix me, I don't know… I don't remember anything. No light, no… nothing. It— kind've put everything in perspective for me, I guess." Peter lets his head sink down, hands coming up to stroke over the top of his head, breath sucked in and exhaled as a sigh.

"I'm kind've glad I didn't have a couple drinks like I was planning on before coming here," Peter admits with a nervous laugh as he looks up to Helena. "I'm sorry for just— showing up and expecting you to— I'm sorry."

"Talking doesn't sound stupid. It just doesn't sound like you." She shrugs a little. "I knew it wasn't you, but I still hit right back, so as far as I'm concerned, we, or him and me, or whatever, we're even." She moves to sit across from him, curling up in the chair and seeming at ease with herself. "What were you expecting?" she asks. "I can't drag it out of you, but I wish you'd be straight with me. I've never really know what you wanted, only what you didn't want." Now it's her turn to press the pause button on saying more.

"I don't think I have the answers to that either…" Peter admits reluctantly. He's quiet again, for a long time, until his fingers find his side pocket, withdrawing a black and red cell phone from within. Peter lays it down in his lap, pops the back panel off with his thumb, then takes the battery out and lays it down on the table, then pulls the SIM card out to get to the secondary battery, popping the connector to it from the phone's wafer-board.

Putting the phone down next to the laptop, Peter looks back up to Helena. "I'm the one who told them where Liette would be…" Peter says in a hushed tone of voice, his eyes only briefly meeting Helena's before he looks down to his folded hands again. "After we got back from Antarctica, I… met someone at a fundraised I attended for my mother. I was so angry after I found out what happened to Gabriel, I… I was so furious. We talked, he…" Peter shakes his head after that dithering, looking up to Helena.

"I was wrong, Helena." The tone of Peter's voice is more regretful then anything. "When I tried to get Cameron to change his ways, I… I think I was wrong." Slouching back into his seat, Peter lifts up a hand and rubs his fingers at his brow. "I don't know… I— the first thing I thought of, when I woke up from what that healer did to bring me back…"

Peter sighs, realizing how disjointed he sounds. "I'm here because I think I wanted you to talk me down…"

"There's nothing on that laptop but my schoolwork and some emails between me and my brother's mother." Helena says flatly. The temperature of the room drops, only a degree or two. "So. You were behind MESSIAH, and it sounds like you want to pick up where Cameron left off." Her tone is deceptively mild. "You're going to destroy everything that PHOENIX tried to be in his name, and you want me to tell you to stop?"

Never once does she raise her voice, but she does let some of her distress filter across her features. "Peter, you've never really listened to me before. Why would you start now? You never followed me, never really believed in me, and you never loved me." These things to her are facts, and they are delivered with a kindness that is still somehow brutal.

"Was that the gala that you danced with Melissa at? I was there. I remember telling her caveat emptor when she asked about you, but I get the feeling she didn't listen."

Brown eyes flick to the laptop, and Peter's expression becomes a little confused, but when he looks back to Helena there's just a shake of his head. "I…" there could be a lot of things to follow that, and from the way he seems conflicted he's assessing all of them. What comes isn't an answer, but is more classic Petrellievasion. Slouching forward, Peter breathes out a sigh and dips his head down in a sulk. "I'm not with anyone… I can't be. I made Kaylee move out of my apartment, I… when Melissa tried to— I don't know… I just don't want any of that. What would be the point?"

Looking up to Helena, Peter finally glances back at the laptop. "I don't— I didn't come here to spy on you," he admits quietly, "I just didn't want anyone listening in, so— I took…" he motions to the disassembled phone, then turns his attention back to the blonde again.

"It's never too late to learn to listen…" Peter tries to optimistically offer to her, lifting up a hand to brush his palm over his mouth, stroking at the whiskers of his beard. "I don't know what I'm doing sometimes, Helena. Some days I don't know why I bother fighting, and then others it— I'm so angry and all I can do is fight. I feel like I'm walking on the edge of a knife, and— one wrong step, one push to one side or the other and I'll just… I'll fall, and I'll break, and I don't know what to do."

"I know you can't. And anyone who thinks otherwise is in for a world of hurt." Well, that's settled. And then her look is almost pitying. "Oh. I don't think you realize how much your first question feeds into the second. And I'm worried that if I try to tell you, you won't listen. I don't mean just hear, but really listen." She studies his face, taking in how weary she is. The corners of her mouth crook up. "Peter. We've been hunted, attacked, imprisoned, tortured, forced to confront realities that have made neither of us happy and god knows what else. I'm stronger than you think, but so are you. You've just lost sight."

His attention wanders, distantly focused eyes staring at nothing but his own thoughts, and some of those stare back at him with resentful eyes. "Lost sight of what?" It's an honest question, not entirely rhetorical, but that he follows it up with a statement at least means it's slightly rhetorical. "Lost sight of the fact that the government keeps trying to find new, inventive ways to kill us? I don't know… I— I don't want to fight, I never have. I tried so god-damned hard to live a normal life after we got back from Antarctica, and I just got pulled in again…"

Glancing towards his disassembled phone, Peter shakes his head slowly. "Sometimes I just wake up and I don't even see the point in fighting, other times I want to go out and just— choke someone to death for doing what they do." Harsh words, from Peter. It sounds more like the half of him that murdered Brian as an experiment, coincidentially the part of him that survived. "When the Vanguard tried to murder us all, we stood up and fought them to the end. Maybe I wasn't around to help fight them the first time, but I bled to fight them the last time…"

Peter's eyes close and he rests his head in his hands. "How's our own country doing the same any different?" Looking up, Peter seems to not know the answer. "When we invaded Madagascar and killed their facist dictator, we were lauded as heroes. When we try to defend our own country… we're monsters?"

"I don't think anybody who's in this for the right reason wants to fight." Helena's voice is soft. "But what you've lost sight of is why we fight. You know on an intellectual level, but you're falling away from understanding." She sounds somewhat resigned when she speaks, like she doesn't really expect him to process what she's going to say - but she's going to tell him anyway.

"The more you pull away from people, the more you'll forget. The longer you let yourself remain broken, the less any of it will process for you. You need to…re-connect to people, and I don't know, maybe you even need to re-learn how to do so. You don't just need to see why we fight by watching others, you need to remember and you need to feel what it is we fight for. What you think of as your armor is what's destroying you."

Another shake of her head. "When you act like a terrorist, they'll call you terrorists. But I guess even if you don't…you've got to decide for yourself how much of what they spin you're going to accept."

Bringing his hands up to his face, Peter exhales a heavy with and sweeps his hands around and over his ears, eventually lacing his fingers behind his head in a brief moment of calming breathing. Staring at the floor between his feet, Peter shakes his head slowly, then looks up to Helena with furrowed brows. "You're right…" is something he hasn't ever said without reluctance to her. Using both hands to brush back his hair, Peter shakes his head and looks towards the windows, catching the rays of goldenrod sunlight as they spull through.

"Maybe that's why I'm here…" he admits quietly, turning dark eyes back to Helena. "Maybe I'm trying to reconnect… remember." His brows scrunch together, and it's still strange to see him without his scar. Even if he doesn't bear it externally, it still feels like it's there.

"You know, I never used to think that an ability could sculpt who a person was, I— always thought it was the other way around. But ever since mine changed, I've… I've been feeling less and less towards other people. I thought being a paramedic would help, would— help me reconnect to people, but it only made me feel more distant, more… alone."

Slowly coming to stand, Peter watches Helena and takes a couple of steps towards her. "I miss you…" Peter finally says, shaking his head as he does. "I— think that's what I was going to say, before." He thinks, anyway. "You made a good choice," he diverts from the topic, looking back to Helena. "Polisci, I mean. It fits you."

"I wish I could say I miss you," Helena says, "But the truth is, I wanted you to be someone that you're not, someone I thought you could become, and I didn't realize that I couldn't make you be that person." She pauses a moment, and then lets out a little laugh. "Yeah, I - you know, if I'd had my way a couple of years ago, it would have been culinary school, but this just seems right for who I am now." She blinks a moment, an idea occurring to her.

"You know," she says softly, "My ability…it's all about connection. Maybe not to people, but it is about connection, and it could be a start." She holds out her hand. "You've never felt it when things were calm, when things were good. Maybe you need to."

It's a thought Peter hasn't entertained since that cold night on Staten Island. Looking down at his hands, there's a disconcerted expression that crosses his face, presented with a choice. When brown eyes turn back up to Helena, Peter pensively watches her, then takes another step forward, wordless as he closes the distance between them. Offering out a hand to her, there's more than just bridging old gaps and mending old wounds intended in the gesture.

"I… need to make contact to take powers now, and give something up." There's the faintest tug of one corner of Peter's mouth, "Gonna need to use the door on my way out," he adds with that smile growing a bit more fully. But there's something in his eyes, somethign indiscernable, that look he had on a rooftop a long time ago, in a summertime city far, far away.

"I really wanted to be him for you…" Peter admits in a hushed tone of voice, "probably more than you can ever know."

The only true evidence of her hurt are her next words: "Not enough." But there is also forgiveness inherent in them. She fits her hand into his, and lets him template himself to her power.

She doesn't really need to, but she wants to and does give him a gentle tug, back toward the window. The sun has begun to set in earnest and the sky is on fire. "Just close your eyes." she murmurs. "And let yourself feel it." That's what she does, letting the contentment of the perfect balance of a summer night's cool stillness flow all over her. It's better than drugs, this contentment, because it doesn't rob her of her faculties while still letting her feel centered and whole. She has not yet given up his hand. "Can you feel that?" she whispers. "You need to start feeling again. Somewhere along the line you lost it, and that's why you're falling."

The glow that exchanges from Peter to Helena and back again is reminiscent of the sweeping light of a xerox machine, but more spidery and yellow beneath the skin. It blends in to the afternoon sunlight they stand in, and the ability to focus on something external masks the hurt mimiced by Peter at Helena's words.

At first he seems resistant to the idea, to believing in something that he's experienced before. But there in the sunlight, Peter seems surprised by Helena's ability, eyes shut and lips parted in a breath of surprise. His fingers squeeze her hand for a moment, head quirking to the side subtly as if to hear or feel something distant. "This is— " he carefully amends his words, "I— I'd… forgot what this was like."

Brown eyes slowly open, and that small temperature drop that Helena had made earlier corrects itself, and she can feel Peter warming the room ever so subtly. It's that gentle pull and push, the atmospheric ballet that hasn't been there for longer than is fair.

"Yeah." she says quietly. "Isn't it?" Isn't it what, exactly? But at the same time, the question can be readily understood. She opens her eyes, the localized air currents becoming a sort of metaphorical pas de deux. "If this can translate somehow into helping you re-connect to people, I'll be glad for it. But at the very least it gives you a way to," she has to consider a moment to find the words, "Feel something."

The smile Peter gives to Helena is more of an honest one than he'd given her earlier, and his hand releases hers, only for his palm to move alight from their grasp to brush his knuckles across her cheek, moving a locke of blonde hair away from her face, the smile becoming more distant and longing. As his hand falls away, Peter smiles with appreciation, much in the way a gardener would after realizing his roses have come into bloom fine despite his efforts.

Peter steps back, steps away from Helena, and walks over to the desk to pick up the pieces of his phone, tucking some into one pocket and the rest into the other "I… should get going," is hastily issues, "I've got a night shift in the rig in a couple hours, and I need to see if Abby's around." It's excuses, admittedly. As Peter turns, brown eyes fall on Helena again, and his smile is a touch distant once more, losing that earnest edge but retaining the longing.

"Thank you…" seems like not enough, but then, if there's one thing Helena should be accustomed to with Peter, it's not being given what she deserves.

She seems almost startled when he touches her, and goes very still, but she keeps her reaction carefully contained. "Sure." she says companionably. "Listen…when Abby opens her place? I'm going. You should too. In fact, if I don't see you there, there will be tears, you got it?" Her smile becomes broader as she explains, "There's going to be people. Which, you know. You. Connecting. People. Good." Dialogue by Joss Whedon. "Say hi to Abby for me." She'll walk him out, even, having had the first conversation with him in a long time that didn't feel like he didn't chip away a piece of her soul.

"Yeah…" Peter reluctantly offers, "Yeah I— I'll see about it, Abby's…" now isn't the time. "I'm sure it'll be okay then." Or, at least, he hopes so. "No tears," Peter finally instructs with a crooked smile and a point of two fingers towards Helena as he slowly moves to connect with her in the middle of the room, then starts making his way for the door. It's going to be a long walk back home, probably would have been a good idea to bring his wallet before traveling incorporeally.

On the way towards the hall, Peter looks back over at Helena, smiling faintly. Somewhere, he realizes this is a good thing — probably the best thing that's happened between the two of them in a very long time.

Sometimes it pays to leave the hammer and chisel at home.

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