eileen_icon.gif peter7_icon.gif

Scene Title Blame
Synopsis Eileen and Peter have difficulty coming to an agreement about where it should be placed or who should be accepting it. One of them is lying through their teeth.
Date March 15, 2010

The Lighthouse

The headlights of the Remnant's old pickup truck appear first, followed by the distant rumble of its engine and the gravel it spits out under its tires as they chew through slush and ice on the way up the unpaved road that leads to the Lighthouse. It's treacherous terrain unless you know it well, and fortunately the driver behind the truck's wheel does.

Eileen's pocket watch asserts that it's 9:14 p.m., but this means little to the Englishwoman for two reasons. The first: she left it open on her nightstand back at the Dispensary. The second: her focus is on the road ahead of her and the snarled mantra she keeps hissing under her breath in an attempt to prevent the truck from stalling through sheer will alone.

Either it works, or Raith has made repairs on the vehicle since the last time she drove it. Only when it pulls up in front of the Lighthouse does the engine sputter out, followed by the sound of the driver's side door popping open. It isn't Jensen who climbs out but sylphish figure dressed in little more than a flimsy satin nightgown and a black pea coat hastily pull on overtop. Pale legs only a few shades different than the snow itself are bare from mid-thigh all the way down to her calves, tiny feet protectively encased in a pair of leather boots trimmed with what looks like mink fur dyed black that lace up the front but have not been tied. Draped over her shoulder is a strap attached to an M4 carbine, which she carefully maneuvers across her chest on her way out of the truck to avoid catching it on the door, left open.

Apparently, children aren't very good communicators when it comes to using the telephone.

Perhaps it's that the Lighthouse is not ablaze, or perhaps it is Peter Petrelli's sulking form sitting slouch-backed on the stoop of the building's front door without much of a fuss on his expression that can settle Eileen's nerves. Brows lift when Peter assesses the truck, paper mask covering his mouth and bright, carnation red scarf wound tight around his throat. He's looked better, the dark circles around his eyes and tired quality of those eyes they darken seem to hint at — physically — how he's doing. He's not out here to sulk in the snow, he's quarantining himself.

Slowly rising up to stand, Peter hunches his shoulders forward against the cold, that thick black fur-trimmed jacket he wears the same one he'd worn as Kazimir Volken in Antarctica, plus a few patches for bullet holes admittedly. Crunching footfalls take Peter out through the glow of the headlights and the snow blowing in them, angling a look back to the lights on inside the building before they settle on Eileen.

"He's… not here, entirely." Peter's words could not be any more terse. It's not Eileen's fault he's upset, but the entire situation's. "You knew?" There's an accusing look angled askance at Eileen, dark brows furrowed and his frown concealed by the paper mask.

Now Eileen does close the door behind her, one hand braced against the truck's rusted steel exterior, the other resting on the carbine's matte black barrel. Flakes of snow gather in her hair and on her skin, too cold to melt and instead glitter like fragments of diamond in the truck's high beams. They aren't the type that will turn off on their own after a specified period of time has passed, and leaving them on was no mistake; what light bleeds out through the orphanage's windows behind the curtains provides her very little to see by, and the sky above them is too overcast and thick with cloud cover for even the moon's faint outline to make itself visible.

Wind makes a wild tangle of her hair and burnishes her cheeks a rosy pink colour to match the shade of her lips and the darker tongue moving behind them when she speaks — even if it's only one word. "What?"

"Gabriel's… got— " Peter waves a hand in the air, "I don't know, he got a cloning ability somehow. I haven't seen Brian anywhere I— " There's a creasing of his brows. "Why didn't you tell me he was alive!?" That much sounds accusatory, a hand flailing in the direction of the Lighthouse. "It might have helped to be armed with the information that he didn't actually die in Antarctica when he was posing as Gillian's sister and some Chinese ninja made out of black smoke that— " Peter scowls behind the mask, trying to remember Wu-Long's name but unable to dredge it up.

Huffing out a breath and turning on his heels, Peter wipes a hand over his face, and at this distance she can hear the wheezing rattle of his breath. "He's in there right now…" Peter offers in a quieter tone than a moment ago. "Gillian thought someone was posing as her sister, I— showed up to help check it out for her. Gabriel showed up with— he used Grigori's ability and then just— he tried to kill the other clone."

Peter shouldn't be so incensed about that, all things considered.

"How long have you known about this?" Peter asks of Eileen again, still frazzled from the entire encounter, even if that's not entirely why his hands are shaking right now; cold and sickness is robbing him of more than just full breaths.

Eileen's eyes move between Peter's face and his hands, then over his shoulder to the Lighthouse's stately front door. She can't hear the movement behind it, the footsteps creaking on hardwood floors or the squeak of greasy faces pressed against the windows upstairs, all big eyes, small mouths and whispered breaths fogging up the glass. Her own manifests as a fine cloud of vapour hemorrhaging from her nose as she closes the distance between them, the progress of her feet much less noisy than the paramedic's. They leave shallower imprints, too.

Saying nothing at first, she drops the hand at her carbine and seizes Peter by the arm. The other dips down to the small of his back, applies steady pressure through the downy material of his jacket and steers him toward the truck's front passenger's side. Temperamental though it may be, the vehicle at least has a heater installed and the engine is still warm from the drive over; if Peter is going to sequester himself away from the children, Eileen is going to make sure he does it somewhere he won't develop hypothermia on top of what his body is already fighting.

"Don't place the blame for Gabriel's actions on me," she warns Peter in a low voice. "I've not known for much longer than you. Come on or you'll catch your death."

"Gillian's— " Peter stops himself as Eileen turns him towards the truck, only offering a glance over his shoulder towards the Lighthouse. That may very well have been genuine concern in his features there, even if but for a moment. He breathes out slowly, tiredly, and swallows down whatever words of offering he was going to give before following at the tiny young woman's insistance towards the truck.

Clearing his throat, Peter looks over towards Eileen with a hesitant smile, nervous in a way about their interactions, all things between them considered. When she opens up the passenger side door for him, Peter reaches up inside and grabs the handle above the door, stepping on the kick plate before hauling himself up inside the pickup truck. Brows furrow when he sees the brass and copper gauges on the dashboard, the two extra pedals down on the driver's side and large pull lever between the seats. It all screams Braxton Pendragon, screams Hector Steel. What in god's name any of the modifications made to the truck are, he's afraid to turn the heat on.

When the driver's side door opens up and Eileen climbs inside the pickup with Peter, he can't help but crack a smile at the three pillows on the front seat that afford her that additional boost to look up over the wheel. Of all the things Hector probably installed on the truck, adjustable seats were apparently not high on the list.

When she swings the door shut with a metallic clang, Peter dips his head down into a nod. "I… I thought he was dead." There's no bitterness or venom there, just confusion. "How?" Brown eyes angle up to Eileen. "How's he— It— It is Gabriel, isn't it?"

Eileen deposits the carbine in the truck's back seat — or at least what passes for one — and turns the keys in the ignition, pouring battery power into the vehicle's starter. Either Hector has done work on the truck or Raith at some point took advantage of one of the island's local mechanics. Apart from the additional pedals and the pull lever, which Eileen is careful to avoid, the truck's interior is not too far removed from what Peter was probably anticipating.

"It isn't," she says as she shifts the truck out of park, eases her foot off the break and rotates the wheel to bring it around. Although Peter might be afraid to turn on the heat, she has no such reservations and soon warm air is being filtered into the cab through the dashboard vents and ruffling his hair. "The copies aren't like Brian's. They have their own motivations and agendas."

There aren't many places on Staten Island that Eileen can bring Peter where he won't pose a threat to the people living there. The Garden is out of the question, which leaves the Dispensary and the old house on the river that the Remnant used to stay at before Gabriel discovered something better. Only one of them has running water and electricity. "I don't think he was expecting them to develop independent personalities," Eileen amends, pulling the truck back onto the gravel road. Windshield wipers clear off some of the snow caked to the glass. "You should stay out of it."

"I intend to…" Peter offers quietly, gloved hands folding in his lap. "Gabriel didn't want me to know he's alive— fine. We weren't exactly friends." Bringing a hand up to his face, Peter carefully checks the condition of the paper mask, scowling at the split in it and moves his fingers to tuf up his red scarf and keep it more tightly wound around his lower mouth. There's an awkward silence that comes over Peter, brows furrowed and eyes unfocused as he stares down at his lap.

"Did— " Peter hesitates, looking up and over to Eileen. "Did you forget what I did to you?" There's no pride in Peter's voice when he asks that of Eileen, even if it is a rhetorical question. "In that building, the chair legs, it— " Dark brows furrow together and he looks away, back down to his lap. "I know what he's going through… feeling— " there's a wave of one hand in the air absently, "divided."

Noisily swallowing, then bringing a closed fist up to his covered mouth to cough, Peter offers a worried look back to Eileen. "I have the five-ten. I— we really shouldn't be together like this for too long, the last thing you need is to be sick with all this going on."

Eileen's focus remains on the road stretching into the darkness ahead of them, visibility reduced to almost zero by the flurries blowing off of the bluffs. The only glance she affords Peter is one flicked at his reflection in the rear view mirror when he reminds her about what almost happened in the condemned tenement on the Lower East Side more than a year ago.

"We're going back to the Dispensary," she says in an edged tone that leaves very little room for argument and is not the sort most women would use in the presence of a man ten years their senior, but in the dim light of the truck's cabin Eileen doesn't look anything like she's in her early twenties. Pronounced cheekbones, dark circles under bright eyes lit gold by the dash's instrument panel add an additional ten or fifteen years to her age. "I'm going to fix you a room, pour you a bath and watch you eat something before you put your head down for a few hours."

As the Lighthouse disappears into the silver haze like an apparition obscured by snow and fog, the truck passes over what was once a cattle grate, rattling the cabin and causing the display's lights to flicker momentarily. "Why haven't you checked yourself into a hospital?"

There's a snorted laugh from Peter, a shake of his head, "You haven't changed…" he admits in a hushed tone of voice, "still trying to bandage everyone up, play the healer, take care of everyone's troubles." Project isn't quite said, but inferred, even if it's not quite Peter's words right now, but a man centuries older who'se lingering impression in portions of Peter's memories at work here. "I appreciate it," he adds afterward, so he doesn't sound entirely condescending.

"I was at St.Luke's earlier getting a check up, they confirmed what I have. The only reason I'm not in a hospital bed is because I'm staying at my mother's, we have a family physician that's looking after Kaylee, Molly and I." That's quite a collection of people there. "I've— I promised Gillian I'd help her look into her sister's reappearance, I thought it might be Maury Parkman or someone connected to Pinehearst."

Leaning back in his seat, Peter stares up at the truck's ceiling silently for a moment. "I've got Wendy Hunter's funeral to go to tomorrow… then— " Peter offers a weary smile, angling brown eyes towards Eileen, "Then I can rest. I'm still healthy enough to mourn."

"You won't be for much longer with that attitude," is as much a reprimand as it is a warning, but Eileen must be satisfied with Peter's explanation because she doesn't keep pressing the point. It might have to do with the Kazimir she hears in him or maybe she knows better than to bicker with someone as stubborn as he is. Squabbling won't get them anywhere except run off the road and stalled in a ditch with a flat tire and a dented grill.

What she says next is instead an attempt at a compromise, or at least as close to one as she's willing to come. "Let me speak with Gabriel about what happened tonight before you go spreading this around," she murmurs as the truck takes a sharp turn at a crawl, forcing Eileen to take the clutch out and change gears. The drive back to the Dispensary will be slower than the one to the Lighthouse — the only lives on the line right now are the ones belonging to the occupants of the truck, and the Englishwoman is by default a very cautious driver. "He didn't come all the way back to New York just to be vilified. You've your fresh start."

"He hasn't done anything wrong…" Peter admits in a quiet tone of voice, head shaking slowly, "He's just— trust me I sympathize with him. I'm not going to tell anyone, I just want to make sure he gets help, even if I can't really offer it to him because of— " There's a grimace Peter makes that mostly says because he's Gabriel. "If you want me to sneeze on him or something, though, I'm more than game…" There's a sniffle at that, thermal gloves wiping across the side of Peter's cold, red nose.

"Gillian's going to need someone to talk to…" The way Peter says that implies it may be why he called Eileen in the first place, "I might be sick, but she's more messed up inside. It's— cruel, her sister coming back that way. I— I don't know why she— he— " There's a furrow of Peter's brows, "It's confusing." On so many levels.

"If— If you could talk to her I'd appreciate it. I don't think she wants to hear anything from me, and honestly I'm okay with that, I— understand." Dark eyes unfocusing again, Peter stares down at his lap, and then slowly he glances out the passenger's side window, more so at Eileen's reflection in the glass. "She needs someone… you're the best I could think of."

That Peter appears to be much more accepting of the situation than Raith has been doesn't exactly put Eileen at ease. It doesn't make her suspicious, either. The warm air coming out of the vents has melted what little snow had the opportunity to accumulate in her eyelashes and hair while she was guiding Peter back to the truck, leaving her cheeks rosy and flushed where bloodflow has begun to return to them.

"I'm one of the reasons she lost Jenny in the first place," she reminds Peter after a moment, removing her hand from the stick and returning it to the wheel. It's not a no, however. "Jensen and I have some spare supplies we've been meaning to bring around. I'll sit down with her next we do."

"Don't place the blame for Gabriel's actions on yourself…" Peter echoes the words she'd given him right back when Eileen tries to claim some scrap of responsibility for Jenny. "Gillian still thinks of you as a friend, you should go to her as a friend, not— " There's a shake of his head, subtly, "not for business, and not with Raith of all people. He's about as sensitive as sandpaper and twice as coarse." Idly plucking at a loose thread on his jacket, Peter squints as he looks out the windshield to the dark and the snow. Inwardly he's wondering if Eileen knows where she's going, all of these back roads on Staten Island look the same, especially unplowed as most of them are.

"I'm sorry… by the way," dark eyes angle over towards Eileen, brows furrowed in thought. "For— I don't know, a lot of things. Mostly what happened during Apollo, I— I should have let you two spend more time together, and I just— " It's hard to tell what he's talking about at first. "I'm sorry you had to lose him again. I know— how close you were to him. Fathers are… they're hard to come by. Good ones."

Eileen lets out a slow breath without opening her mouth and tightens her grip on the steering wheel as her throat contracts, making it impossible for her to verbalize a reply until she's replenished the air in her lungs and her muscles are relaxing again of their own accord. All back roads look the same except where they don't. A gnarled elm with all its branches twisted in the same direction reminds her to turn left at the next fork, and if she had any doubts about whether or not she's still going the right way, they're banished by a squat stone bridge that crosses a frozen creek lined with brittle cattails and the red-winged blackbirds nesting in them. Peter may catch a flash of obsidian feathers dipped in scarlet through the passenger's side window, dozens of glittering black eyes turned toward the road as the truck's headlights slice across the water and the vehicle itself thunders over the bridge.

"Kazimir and I chose to leave most of what was between us unsaid," she tells him. "That was our decision, not yours." And a few weeks ago she might have left it at that. Tonight, no sooner than the words have left her mouth does her jaw go abruptly tense. "Do you still have his memories, or has that part of him gone from you too?"

There's a sigh at the question, and Peter wobbles a hand in the air in response. "It comes and goes, some things… more so than others? The majority of what was there is gone, things that I— thing I thought about more heavily stayed. There was… there's some stuff that's crisp, things Kazimir showed me, made me see, but a lot of it is like remembering a dream, one that you had when you were a kid. You remember the broad strokes, but…" Peter's confidence in his ability to recall the details of Kazimir's life seems uneasy.

"Was…" It's hard for him to consider this, and the way he looks away, out the passenger's side window to the snow drifts that consume an abandoned house, he reconsiders what he's about to offer. It's passing worry, ultimately. "Was there something you wanted to know?" Peter asks quietly, brown eyes angled back towards Eileen, lips hesitantly forming a smile behind his scarf. "I can't make any promises, but— if you're going to feed me I owe you something." It's wry, the comment, he knows she wouldn't ask him for anything, but the sentiment remains.

"Carlisle Dreyfus and his family used to live in the flat across from my mum's," Eileen says. "I didn't know he was Vanguard until after Apollo." She chances another look at Peter in the rear view mirror but abandons it when she realizes his face is too difficult to read with his scarf pulled up over his crooked mouth. Daiyu's voice is in her head, leering something about flower arrangements, Nazi eugenics and German concentration camps that closed decades before either of her parents were ever born. She's not sure how much of this she wants to relay; the less Peter knows, the better she'll feel about his answer.

He can't make things up to account for what he can't remember if he doesn't know why she's asking. "Did Kazimir know me before I knew him?"

"Do not project your hopes for the Holdens onto my family," Carlisle warns. As for whether or not he believes Ethan to be a successor worthy of his title, he remains silent for the time being. The ringing of the bells, meanwhile, draws to a close, though the sound echoes in the still air for several long moments after. "Go to London," he suggests instead, "and visit your investment there. Perhaps the situation has changed since I last looked in on it."

"No." Peter shakes his head, teeth toying with his lower lip, eyes returning to focus on Eileen's muted reflection in the passenger's side window, it's easier than trying to avoid eye contact now. "No… No he— met you for the first time thanks to Amato." Dark brows furrow, brown eyes fall shut, and Peter lifts his arm to rest his elbow on the tiny bit of space on the door beside the window so that he may rest his head in one hand.

"He never knew of you before hand…" It's easier to lie to her, easier to hide that ugly truth. Sometimes, parents lie to their children to protect them from things they wouldn't understand, other times it's so they won't know the things their parents are ashamed of. In this regard, Kazimir's shame is Peter's.

If Eileen can tell that Peter isn't being entirely truthful, it's not something that is reflected in her face's tired features. Exhaustion lays the matter to rest, though not in the same way that Wendy Hunter will be put in the earth tomorrow morning. This grave is a shallow one; all it takes is rainfall to wash away the topsoil and unearth what's buried in it.

He can't maintain the lie forever. Not if there's someone out there whispering secrets in Eileen's ear that she was never meant to hear. Lapsing into silence once more, she leaves Peter with the outline of his reflection in the passenger's side window for company and lets the sound of gravel crunching under the truck's tires entertain him for the remainder of the drive back to the Dispensary.

Nothing ever stays buried for long, not here in New York, and certainly not when it comes to this group of people. Eventually, secrets get told, the past gets exhumed like some rotting, cadaverous carcass, and everyone is forced to endure what should have stayed down for good long enough ago.

Maybe one day, it will stop surprising Peter when it happens.

Again and again.

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