Be Still


peter7_icon.gif francois_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Be Still
Synopsis Peter is delivered into the hands of Teodoro Laudani to handle Francois' injuries, what happens isn't quite what anyone involved expects.
Date April 26, 2010

St.Luke's Hospital

Love is, among other things, a nauseating reek of antiseptic, bleach-white walls, a noon sky empty of sun.

A heart-rate monitor hiccuping erratically green lit up on a black screen, the precarious swoop and recovery of blood pressure figures, the mute plink of a plasma and heparin drip, the infuriatingly calm cadence of orderlies and elderly moving through the distance of the hallway, unimpressed and unmoved by the magnitude of the towered prognistic charts and the tragedy struggling for breath only one wall away. Love is the suspicion that it shouldn't have been admitted to aloud before this had happened, because dealing with the ailing can be counter-intuitive like that; it isn't only ghosts who cling to the corporeal world because of unfinished business.

Love is also a doctor in a dove's-flare of labcoat white charging the door every fifty minutes or so when the limp, linen-matted body between the bed's rails relaxes enough despite the sleep-submerged pain that his medical state starts the numerical swan-dive from critical-but-stable to grave condition, rolling right over and through 'extremely critical' on wheels greased with panic's ballistic vomit.

Fifty minutes is, at least, the mathematical average, he thinks. Teo has been checking the clock between coffee breaks, at first, the bathroom breaks most recent. He is beginning to suspect that he should not be permitted to imbibe coffee, being of a tense, pathologically insomniac, and physically irrepressible personality style to begin with. Its warmth seems false.

The Sicilian would be the man in the chair beside the bed in clothes too dark to admit to bloodstains. Room 326.

It should shock no one that Francois hasn't moved apart from when gloved hands manipulate his limbs or had hoisted him up onto the gurney. Connected to wires and machines, such a fuss of medical equipment seems to drown out the fact there's a living, breathing human involved. His skin has gone anemic looking, mismatched hands limp against the starchy white bedsheets, and damage reads more on the monitors that it does on him. There are cues, though.

One leg is bulky beneath the sheets, strapped in to accommodate the injury to a knee that a man's boot had squashed out of it. Both wrists are bound in snowy white bandaging, throat similarly patched over if done cautiously on account of needing to breathe, which he's only been doing so much of all night. Bruises begin at the bridge of his nose from the break beneath the surface, make dark shadows beneath his eyes, and another patch of surface damage showing at his temple where his head had collided with the wall.

Looking half-dead adds years to you, if not the total summary that Francois has in truth. The old injury that is his left hand might reach over to lend assurance to Teo, if it could, but Francois hasn't woken up once.

The scent of cologne is usually used to accent the natural scent of a person, something subtle, not meant to be an overbearing assault on the senses. What comes strongly through the sliding glass door of Francois Allegre's hospital room is nothing of the sort. Peter Petrelli looks like a homeless man come in off the street, and coincidentially smells like one too after a fashion. Dressed in a too-big brown tweed jacket with a fluffy blue scarf wrapped around his neck, the snow clinging to him makes it seem as though he may have walked to the hospital.

The jeans he wears are a size too large, cuffs rolled up because of the long legs they were intended for a belt holding them up. The height difference between he and Sasha Kozlow made for borrowing clothing intended for the Russian to be an exercise. Unfortunately, as Peter comes into the hospital room, dark eyes leveling on the familiar sicilian in the chair, the pungent aroma of his cheap cologne is masking the scent of urine.

"Don't." Peter warns, lifting one gloved hand up to Teodoro as he pushes the sliding door closed, then moves to pull the privacy curtain closed over the doorway, "Don't even start." It's a preemitive warning about pretty much everything that has gone wrong. "I'm— here to fix Francois, and then I'm gone. Just— don't." He's a little sensitive about the issue.

Teo is up on his feet long before he has any scathing remarks about the state of Peter's hygiene and his bullshit cologne are available for serving, like a puppet that was yanked up by strings attached to his shoulders. The musculature in his tall frame is all knotted up from stress, and there's little logic available for the emotional interpretations of his posture or even the anatomical grace of a lifelong athlete. He didn't pull a gun, though.

Looks like he's maybe thinking about it, though. He stares with an unequivocal but otherwise unelaborated sentiment of 'very,' his rumpled head skewed at a slight angle, studying Peter with patent incredulity. The murse does a fair job, cutting the normally loquacious Sicilian off before he unloads a word or three they'll both regret. His teeth meet again with a click, and he glances down at the sickly quiescence of the Frenchman in question.

'Well, pee is sterile,' is the thing he doesn't say. Instead, there's a snagnail of skepticism that lasts point-two seconds, then an articulate motion of one long, callused hand. After you.

"It's not going to be pretty…" Peter offers in quiet explanation, tugging off one of his black gloves by the fingers, "or painless." Laying the glove down on Francois' bedside, the paramedic's demeanor seems more in line with what Teo's become accustomed to, disasffected bordering on callous; and with his inexperience in Peter's more light-hearted life he's been living, it seems that — scar aside — everything's exactly the way it should be. Plus some unfamiliar odors.

"It's going to leave scarring," is the explanation Teodoro probably doesn't care much about, all things considered. "It— Sasha's power works differently for me, somewhat. I just…" there's a tension in Peter's back, brown eyes angled down to Francois, then back up to Teo. "Where do you want it?" Peter's question isn't an easy one, and with Francois unconscious it leaves Teo to decide where his love is going to be mutilated for the rest of his life.

Plus some unfamiliar but implicitly sterile odors. Teo is far too ninja to give a fuck about facetious offenses like Peter's bladder control when Peter's here to bring his boy back from the brink of death. He is obscurely reassured by the presence of this version of Peter, likened to the version that he had once called a friend, even if the resemblence is largely superficial. This version of the Petrelli boy, of course, has no internal psychic weaknesses that, triggered by the sharing of a grisly secret, would conveniently result in uncontrollable outbreaks of human grief that Teo knows of.

Maybe Teodoro merely has faith that humanity resides somewhere else in the man. After all, he's here. "Leg, if the keloid tissue is going to be strictly superficial," he decides, after a moment. His face is blank, except for the twisted leer ripped through his cheek. "Back or torso, otherwise. He's pretty fucking vain for a soldier, but he's more of a soldier than he's vain." And a doctor before that, the Sicilian means, but does not say. He wouldn't take Francois' other hand from him.

His nostrils flare slightly in the pungence of Peter's odor, but that's all. He reaches to shift blankets aside, navigating around the herky-jerky puppet-strings that hold Francois in place. "Can you do it like that?"

"Leg… should work," Peter offers quietly, "it's mostly superficial." Mostly. With his glove off and Francois leg revealed, Peter takes a moment to assess the seriousness of what he's seeing here. Back straight and jaw tense, it's not the first time the ghost of Francois has haunted his memories like this; bloodied and restrained to a bed. Those fleeing glimpses of another man's memories are figments of guilt and regret now, the lion's share of them stripped from him at the bottom of the world.

Reaching out a gloved hand to ghost over Francois' bared leg, there's a hesitant expression hanging perpetually crooked on Peter's lips. "I can't promise…" Peter begins, dark brows furrowed and horrible bedside manner boiling over. He used to be good at this, but then, those people knew they were dying anyway. There was no expectance of recovery. Trying to be positive in the face of uncertainty takes a certain something that Peter's found himself lacking lately.

"I can't promise you it'll work. It's not… it's not a clean power. It doesn't heal the way others do," dark eyes slant from Peter to Teo, and there's a subtle shake of his head. "Are you absolutely sure? Because— once I start this…" those dark eyes level back on Francois again, up to the monitors showing his vitals. "Are you sure?"

The look the Sicilian grants the other man is flat, the look an atheist would level on a hysteric's performance or a farmer upon any given one of the doughy highschoolers that Teo used to teach at Washington Irving. It is a look that is antithetical to nonsense, and perhaps sourer than it strictly needs to be; Peter's warning is well-intended, after all. It's just been kind of a shitty morning. Teo has a headache, the kind that hurts inside your teeth. Already, he can tell: it's going to walk all over his day.

"Are you talking about uric acid or are you mysticizing the fucking psychic ability?" At least, he keeps his tone constrained to a factual monotone, where he could have swooped and zithered into a shout, or underscored ability with a generous application of poisonously viscous sarcasm. His knuckles go white at his sides. "Of course I'm sure."

The little hint of good nature on Peter's face sours at Teo's words, and he turns silently towards Francois, laying a bare hand down on his leg below the knee. It's a simple enough spot, palm pressed over Francois' shin, fingers wrapped around his calf muscle. Right up until Francois' heart-rate monitor starts to erratically splutter and beep noisily it seemed like the touch was perfectly harmless. Right away it seems like something is wrong, from the way Francois' leg gives a jerk, and the skin around Peter's hand begins to blacken in the appearance of necrotised flesh. Veins of dark, sooty color not entirely unlike that of the former Volken's caress begin to spider web their way beneath pale flesh and leghair.

Francois' back arches involuntarily, breathes in and chokes on the intubation going down his throat. Peter's dark eyes snap over to it, and he nods to Teo, "pull that out— carefully— or he's going to choke on it." There's not much of a look of concentration as there is just paying attention, like someone watching an egg fry on a skillet to make sure the edges don't burn.

A slithering snake-like undulation of Francois' muscles beneath his skin is entirely abnormal, as are the corsucating veins of black slithering up along his throat and sewing a slashed neck back together beneath medical bandages and tape. It is like something invading Francois' body, like his own musculature and sinew are animated by the caress, set to work from a lazy lunch break at repairing the body.

It's not pretty, and it's not painless.

Being neither pretty nor painless, it seems like a good reason to bodily haul Peter off

—but it takes a young man of precisely Teodoro's hideous mix of personal experience to accept that as necessary. After all, he gave an arm's worth of blackened veins and stinking dermal decay to have Eileen back and whole, once, and that had hurt. He's also seen Francois benefit from Sasha's ability in the most impossible of ways before, as well, so the various urges that come of reflex wind up bottlenecked in the shape of Teo's shoulders, scrunched up, hackling, spite with nowhere to go.

It's almost kindness, that Peter gives him something to do with hands. The Sicilian is all too quick to comply, hastening to yank the oxygen mask off the front of Francois' face, unstrapping the green elastic from the thickness of the hair around his scalp, pulling out the saliva-roped tubes with fingers tight around the frictionless surface. His other hand is laced finger-tight around Francois' forehead, just long enough to do it.

And then he lets go, though he's loathe to, a disgusting serpent of spit-slathered plastic in his hand, mask-cup dangling useless from his fingers. This is as much like a seizure as he's ever seen, and the wrenching force of agony that's going through Francois' frame seems no less powerful enough to jarr self-injury against restraint than an epileptic's hideous dervish.

Grinding metal of the gurney creaks beneath convulsion, and there's a grateful gasping of air as soon as his mouth and throat are free of the medical tubing, and an awful gut-deep retching sound that gets muffled into his pillow when Francois twists his head into it. There's fire in his blood, and it feels a little like the insidious, addictive warmth of his healing, and a little like the gnawing, greedy quick-fix of Kazimir's power, and like something else too that he doesn't have words right now to define.

His IV jerks, slender metal shuddering as wires pull, ignorant to needles taped into flesh. Francois' eyes snap open then flinch shut again against the light in the room, and the leg beneath Peter's hand twitches up against his palm, unwilling.

Sees, a moment later. Breathing high and shallow, a kind of nasal nnh on the exhale, he forces himself to look down the length of his body to see what the hell is going on with it, and sees several alarming things, not the least of which is Kazimir Volken with his hand on his leg and turning his skin into black, dying flesh. Fortunately for everyone, Francois' energy level is nonexistant, and so even as he gives an incoherently low moan of animal fear, the most he can do is weakly grip onto a railing as if he'd like to launch himself over it.

"Non, non, arretez— " Short of attack or retreat, he begs, and barely sees Teo at all in these first five seconds of being not quite alive yet.

Like eels set agains the current of Francois' blood, the Frenchman's veins slither beneat hi sskin with worm-like quality. The twitch and quirk of flesh feels like a full-body charliehorse for all that Dreyfus beat neatly every inch of Francois. Eyes closed, Peter lets out a grunt of discomfort, the veins in the back of his hand squirming like cut tendons for a moment before he sharply pulls his hand away from Francois' leg, arm shaking and eyes wrenched shut.

There's a nauseous feeling in the pit of his stomach, and Peter hunches over, the healing hand cradled against his abdomen and gloved fingers of his other hand wound around the railing at Francois' bedside. Peter at least maintain's the dignity not to vomit after the exercise, but it is the barest scraps of what could be considered dignity that he has left. Dark hair, still damp from washing, sticks stringy to his cheeks, and he stays there hunched over, lips parted and breathing shakily.

It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't painless, and that looks like it went for the both of them.

It worked. For all the macabre decriptors, the gauntening terror, the smells and the spectacle akin to torture— it fucking worked, first and last, and as Teo watches, the bruises are fading, the heart-rate depicted in the EKG's squiggle launching into this new rhythm with unmistakable breakneck vibrance. Teo's eyes are the size of eggs in their pits. He reaches forward without thinking, letting fall a handful of organically-smeared medical equipment to the ground.

His fingers close on Francois' shoulder, tighten briefly. It isn't as gentle a touch as it could be, but Teodoro doubts that anything gentle would have registered in the keening of the Francois' nerves, a time like this. His broken mouth forms the words with too much precision, articulated slow, the way Teo only rarely gets when he's lost enough of a language to have to fight for it. His eyes smart. He's almost teasing the beleaguered Frenchman, when he says: "Etre calme, guerrier."

The next moment, Teo releases him. Steps back, snagging his vacated chair in one broad, callused hand. It's clack-clack-clacketying over toward Peter like a set of those wind-up dentures. "Sit your ass on this, Petrelli. Breathe a spell. I can go and get you clothes while you rest— now or after a half-dose of horse tranquilizers. Choice is yours."

Short of leaping upwards to snare his claws into the ceiling in an effort to get away, Francois can really only endure the rest of the healing, and when Teo tells him to be still, he's more than willing. Resting back into the bed under the Sicilian's pressure to his shoulder, a twitching gaze drinks up the slightly blurred oval of Teo's face, eyes set in them, shapes, okay. D'accord. A doubtful and heatedly resentful stare is leveled at Peter, dragging back now towards his leg.

Resting where the younger man had planted his palm is a paint-print of hand the same colour as a bruise, slightly raised in the way braille is, leg hair gone white where necrotic tones leeched life from his skin. Hnnn.

Hnnkay. Fingernails catch into the bandaging on his wrists as he self-absorbedly and single-mindedly tugs at the cotton, green eyes focused and mouth in a line.

"Hurts— " Is all Peter manages to hoarsely breathe out before he slides down from the bed and collapses back onto the chair Teo had dragged over so thoughtfully, because otherwise he'd be on the floor right now. Visibly in pain, Peter's eyes wrench shut, teeth clench together and lips contort into an unfortunately crooked grimace as he clutches both arms to his chest, sucking in a sharp and pained breath. When he breathes out, Peter's fingers are clawing at his wrists, trying to pull down the fabric of his jacket and sleeves, arms trembling and fingers twitching.

Slashed across Peter's wrists in deep, jabbed profusion are the lines of fresh, reddened scar tissue. Boldly marked across his flesh like some preforated edge indicating cut here these scars once belonged on the wrists of Francois Allegre, though far less healed than they are on Peter's.

Looking down at his arms with marked mixture of confusion and revulsion, Peter curls his hands closed tightly, hunches forward and wraps his arms around his stomach, letting out a choking groan that he does his best to keep in. Forehead to his knees, he just— stays like that for a while.

Teo's eyes go to Peter's wrists in an instant, almost out of practice; he's stared at Francois' maimed arms long enough, these past few hours. His face is whiter than white, and even the mingled stinks of cologne and uric acid have zoned down to ignorable nothing, by the time the Sicilian is pitching himself over to slam a fist into the Call button.

There's a nurse already on her way, of course. A critical patient can not go into retching convulsions without jolting somebody up, and it's only a jam-packed matter of seconds before wedge heels and blue scrubs are piling into the hallway, approaching with the kind of celerity endemic to a particular combination of geographic familiarity and professionalism.

By then, there's a knife fished out of Teo's jacket, heedless of the probability some of the indigenous healthcare professionals would be less than pleased to see a man handling a giant blade on the premises. The Sicilian is stooping over Peter's slumped frame, grasping the edge of his pant leg's cuff to slice open the fabric with the ease with which he would fillet the cartlidgenous skeleton out of a fish, cutting Peter out of his clothes the way Abigail had done Francois mere hours ago.

"He's an EMT," Teo yells over his shoulder. It explains everything and nothing. "Peter Petrelli. Get him a fucking bed!"

He blinks out, across the stretch of linoleum at Francois, the instant before a harried night nurse hastens past, blocks him from view.

And of course, as predicted, bandaging falls away to bone-white wrists that show absolutely nothing of the ordeal they've been through, twin portals for life-blood to seep like a gutted pig left out to drain. Francois rests his shoulders back into his bed just as chaos breaks out when someone else has a less understated revelation, bleary green eyes lifting and watching. Blood is flowing through his veins, now, a healthy flush to his skin without the need for needles— and these catheters are removed with delicate precision from his arms, tape peeled back and skin smoothed over—

Which implies it had to come from somewhere. The blood, that is. From all the activity, gauze flags off Francois' throat to expose the very edge of similar, puckery scarring where Dreyfus' clever knife had slid through, once. For a second, the Frenchman manages to connect to the situation with a proper stare that meets Teo's blue eyes with wider green.

Otherwise, he remains huddled and small in his bed like a haunted dreamer eyeing his own nightmares with dubious belief as to their tangibility. He peels off the rest of the bandaging from his neck, and smooths both palms over it.

It's a mess, admittedly less of a mess than Francois was, but scar tissue, bruises, welts and all other manner of mild contusions save for the visceral throat scar are all afforded to Peter Petrelli's wracked figure. Why the EMT smells like he's been in a pissing match and lost is anyone's guess, but the Nurse has smelled and seen worse. Hunched down by Peter's side, the nurse looks with wide-eyed confusion and revulsion at the bruising around his knee. He's up and off the chair as fast as the two orderlies behind her can move him, hauled only some ten feet back and away and over to another bed.

Delearious with pain, Peter's eyes roll back as he clutches his sides, nurse and orderlies trying to keep him from writhing around without just pinning him down. Peter's eyes shut, head tilts back and jaw clenches, muscles doing jumping jacks beneath his skin like something wants out but it's just the jitter of his own flesh settling from the dance of death that it inflicted on itself after taking away Francois' pain and injury.

When spasming muscles stop, Peter's laying on his back, chets rising and falling sharply, eyes halfway open, lips parted and everyone in the room standing rather still, waiting for the other shoe to drop. It doesn't, Peter doesn't explode, his arteries don't rupture and he doesn't become a smear on the hospital bed.

But pain does, invariably, have him blacking out, mercifully. It's probably the most dignified thing that's happened to him all night.

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