Everything To Everyone


elisabeth_icon3.gif wf_peter_icon.gif

Scene Title Everything to Everyone
Synopsis Preparing to infiltrate the Outer District, Elisabeth offers a lesson to Peter.
Date March 4, 2018

The Ruins of New York

Traipsing through the ruins of what was once their city, Elisabeth got a lot of visuals to fuel her nightmares. It's even worse here than it was in the Virus world in a lot of ways… far more battling has been done here. And though it was her own suggestion that they use one of the nearly destroyed old subway stations for power practice, she was uneasy as hell the deeper they went into the ground. Virus world was a literal nightmare for her — rats, cold, wet, echoing. Too many nights she relived the horror of those hours in the hands of madmen. Five years of therapy has done wonders for that. Until now, when she once again lives in what amounts to her worst nightmares. And still… here she is.

She's a quiet woman these days, keeping mostly to herself and doing her fair share of all work including the scut work. Elisabeth never complains about a task given. She's watchful, as if wary of the idea that they could be turned over to the machines at a moment's notice. She is not as certain of Eve as she might like to be — and she's been made quite aware that whatever is coming, she is simply a tool to be used. If it stings a little, she doesn't show that. This is not her world, and although she'll ally where she needs to, if they're going to be jumping worlds yet again, the only thing she wants to do is try not to destroy yet another place.

Standing on what remains of the platform, an LED camping lantern lighting the immediate area, Elisabeth drags a hand through her short hair, cropped back up to ears again to remove all traces of the dark color that she wore when they first arrived here. Certain, thanks a subtle 'ping' of sound, that there is nothing in the tunnels on either side of the darkened station except rubble that has fallen to block the tracks from either direction, they are about as protected as they can be from being spotted or heard.

"All right," she murmurs, "Copy it whenever you're ready, but while you do… have you ever used the power before? It'll help if I know what you already know before I try to give you information you already have."

“Not yours,” comes from a few paces behind Elisabeth. Peter Petrelli’s pace through the subways has been casual, if not subdued. There's nostalgia and worry in his expression, re-treading this old ground. “I briefly knew a woman who could turn light into sound, but that's… something else entirely from what you do.”

Stepping around Liz’s side, Peter offers her a momentarily worried look, then tugs off one of his gloves and offers out a bare hand to her. “Physical contact these days. Since Pinehearst. Not sure if that all happened the same for you…”

For all that the Resistance talks about Peter as a fighter, he never really seems the part. Liz’s brief interactions with him have introduced her to a gentle, troubled man rather than a militant. Even the nature of his ability, coping by a touch, feels gentle rather than abrasive.

"If not exactly the same, then… there are definitely similarities," Elisabeth replies quietly. She turns to face him, studying him closely. Despite Richard's opinion of the man, her own experience of him tends more toward a guy who is just in way over his head. Like everyone else. She reaches out a hand to take his. "That is definitely very different than what I do," she agrees. "The first aspect of my power that I found was basically a sonic boom — a push of the sound out from myself. It'll probably be similar to a number of the force-type powers you've used before. Don't aim it at me, I'll be annoyed." She smiles slightly. "Throw it down the tunnel at the rubble pile — it's about 15 meters down." She gestures to the tunnel they've not even approached and sounds very certain the pile is there. "It seems solid enough you shouldn't cause any additional cave-in. Once you get a handle on the gross motor skill, so to speak, we'll work on the finer controls and alternate uses that might benefit you."

There's a brief exchange of light when Peter's hand grasps Elisabeth’s; a warm glow beneath his skin that spreads up his arm and under clothing and out of sight. It comes with a faint flush of color on the back of Elisabeth’s hand and a slightly warm feeling, like putting her hand in sunlight. When the handshake disengages, Peter looks around, furrows his brows, and works his mouth open and closed like he's waiting for his ears to pop.

“Is it always—” Peter closes one eye and works his mouth from side to side, “this feels weird.” He takes a moment to totter in a slow circle, then looks down the tunnel toward the rubble pile. “It feels like coming out from under water.”

"Heh…. yeah. Anytime I'm negated, I feel like the world is suddenly a very two-dimensional place," Elisabeth admits, reaching out a hand to steady him as his balance suffers a little from the excess input. "Sound is all around you, all the time. Humans just can't hear it all the time — we learn to tune out the repetitive and annoying, and a lot of what you're feeling is outside the human range. You learn to tune out a lot of what you're sensing there too. Right now, all those sound waves are eddying around you like you're a rock in a stream. Try and just let them flow over you. Trying to stop them right now is a little like using your hands to stop a waterfall — you'll get there and I'll show you how to block the worst of it. First, though, we have to get you to the point that you understand how to actually manipulate the waves. A sonic boom is basically your first ham-handed grab and push of the sound waves around you." It's the only way she knows to learn to finesse the ability — literally to learn gross motor control and then fine motor control, much as one teaches a child "gentle hands."

The blonde walks with him over so he has a clear field down that derelict tunnel. "You're not even really going to mean to do it this first time, it'll just happen. I've told you where the wall is down there. I know it's a wall of rubble because I can feel it. I can send a sound wave down that tunnel and feel when it hits the blockage. I could push it through the block with just a smaller application of force. So here's what I want you to do — ignore the waves around you as much as you can. Say something — just hello or something like that. And concentrate on the mental image of that word as a wave like in a bathtub that you can push down the tunnel. If you can exert enough control on it to keep the speed low, you'll be able to just feel the wall as the sound wave washes up on the far shore and bounces. If you can't… you'll blast the wall. Which is also fine, it's why I brought you down here instead of anywhere else."

Making a soft noise in the back of his throat, Peter offers Elisabeth a side-eye and then with one brow raised regards the tunnel. He closes his eyes, shutting out visual distractions of the stark shadows cast by the lantern, then smiled awkwardly. “Control… has always been hard for me.”

Lifting up his hands, as if feeling for the waves of sound with them, Peter tilts his head to the side. “Abilities are more about… emotions, the way they and the people who they come from make me feel. I can copy something from anyone, but unless I can…” He searches for the right word as he searches for the feeling of the sound, “…unless I can empathize with them, it's like I can't hone in on what makes their ability special. It's more about understanding the person than the power.” He grimaces. “Mostly.”

“So,” Peter opens his eyes and looks over at Liz, “tell me something about yourself. What makes you tick?” There's a lopsided smile at that, then a look back down the tunnel. “What drives Elisabeth Harrison?” It sounds like he doesn't know his world’s Liz very well either.

There's a long moment while she looks at him, a little surprised. "You don't ask the easy questions, do you?" Liz observes quietly.

What drives Elisabeth Harrison? Five years ago, she might … no, she definitely would have had some different answers, she thinks. Her blue eyes are pensive as she looks into the dark tunnel. "I don't have a simple answer for you, really… when I see someone hurting, I want to help. When I see something happening that's wrong, I want to help fix it. … Helping people has always been something I do — even when I was a kid, if you believe my father. I guess I had an overdeveloped sense of justice. I want a safer world for my daughter.. And I figure if not me, then who's going to try to make it safer for her?"

A soft huff of laughter erupts from her. "I thought about quitting." Her gaze comes back to him. "Then I saw what happened when I died… and that didn't go well, either time. So… in spite of feeling like I'm fucking it up at every turn, I just keep trying to make things better. 'Be the change you want to see in the world,' I guess?" Liz pauses and shoves a hand through her hair. "I can't change Humanis First assholes… I can't change everyone else who hates us. But I can be the example of what I'd like the world to be. I can teach my daughter to care, and to care about everyone… even when they're assholes."

It's perhaps the cheesiest thing she's ever said… she can practically hear Aurora's father chuckling that wry laughter in the back of her head. Still a fucking optimist, lover, she informs the phantom ruefully. It hasn't killed me. Yet.

Peter is silent the entire time, and for a while after. He closes his eyes after listening to Elisabeth, and it seems like he doesn't have much trouble relating to who she is at her core, and in a way that worries him. Lifting up one hand again, Elisabeth can feel the movement of sound waves rippling in front of his outstretched palm, too low frequency for an ordinary person to hear. Eventually it builds into a hum that vibrates the ground below Peter, swelling like the crest of a wave as he holds his breath.

Then, with an exhale, Peter pushes the noise down the hall. It isn't a word, isn't a familiar sound, it's a low rumble that builds into a cacophonous roar until it buffets up against the end of the tunnel less like a shockwave and more like a strong surf. It isn't enough to break up the rubble, but it is enough to send a sonorous hum through the entire tunnel.

A troubled look crosses Peter’s face, and he slowly lowers his hand and opens his eyes. “I think I understand…”

As he starts to build and manipulate the wave he wants, Elisabeth closes her eyes to better concentrate on what he's doing and how he's doing it. Even when two people have the same power, they don't use it in exactly the same ways — Hell, she realized by watching her alternate in Bright a couple times that even when you're basically the same person, you don't do it exactly the same way. So to teach Peter the finer points, she has to understand how he finds and touches the sound around him.

As it swells up, her eyes open. She won't see what he's doing, but she can feel it roll through her. And when he pushes it forward, she finds herself nodding slightly. "You're going to probably be more comfortable using the resonance aspects of the ability than the …" Elisabeth searches for the right word. "… sharper uses," is what she finally settles on.

"What you did there was good — it's powerful, if you let it loose fully. If you layer it with harmonics, you'll be able to use the vibration to shake the blockage loose or you could use it as a battering ram over time. If you wanted. You could also silence the hum while you do it, so that you're not broadcasting — literally in his case — your intent." With a pause, she again considers the best way to explain it. "Let's just do it this way — now that you know what you're looking for and what a controlled wave feels like, see if you can sense the difference between your wave and mine." She smiles a little. "Then you can explain what you understand and why you look that way when you said it." His troubled look worries her.

She moves slightly just to reset her feet, and then she reaches for the subtle sounds around them, pulling them toward her and building her own wave. Unlike his, there's not a sound to it, just the sensation of prickling against his skin as she holds her wave. Whereas to her senses he built in a 'mound' form that created the deep hum, she's literally holding the sound 'still' rather like winding up a slingshot. When she releases the vibrational wave, she also specifically mutes the high-level crack of sound that results — it could deafen them both down here. And whereas his wave held a lower frequency and traveled long and strong, hers for this example has a tighter focus and moves far faster. If his was a tidal wave, hers is more a firehose for this example. Just before it hits the wall of rubble, she does something else and utterly destroys and dissipates it before it can blast that wall.

Then she looks at him. "Could you feel the difference?"

Peter nods, slowly. Though he doesn't move to emulate what he'd seen just yet. Instead, he takes a couple of steps past Elisabeth as if to get a better look at the damage, then turns slowly to face her. He's quiet for a moment, then looks down to the dirty concrete at his feet.

“The ah, the hum.” Peter’s brows crease together and the absence of his scar seems more pronounced now. “The hum is familiar. I used to have this…” he looks at his hands, turning them over, “other ability. It hummed too. It moved in waves. It felt… I guess, similar?”

Looking up to Liz, Peter exhales a sigh and closes his hands into fists and slowly opens them. “Do you already know?” He asks, only now really making eye contact. He doesn't explain what he's asking, because if she does, she'll know what he means through inference. Does she know about what he did? About the bomb.

Elisabeth's blue eyes turn to him, and there's a somber cast to her expression. "I know," she tells him in a soft, calm voice. "I've known for a long time." There's no censure in her tone, though at least she understands now what has him pensive. Or at least thinks she does.

"We all lose control, Peter." She didn't know really until this moment that she forgave him a long time ago. All she feels now is regret for the results. "It's scary, what we do. I've scared myself stupid several times now." Not the least of which the time that Gillian augmented her and she turned a man into bloody mist hanging in the air in front of her. She tilts her head, simply waiting for him to put all of whatever he needs to say out there.

Peter lets out a breath he's been holding since they'd first come down here, or so it feels. Shoulders now finally slacked, he rubs one hand at the back of his neck. There's no real words to confirm yourself as an accidental weapon of mass destruction, or way by which he can apologize for whatever his own failure may have cost Elisabeth. Instead, there's just silence and uncertainty.

“That's why I wanted to make sure I came down here with you.” Peter finally admits, moving to stand at Elisabeth's side again. “Where we’re going — what we’re going to do?” He shakes his head and looks down at the floor. “One false step, one slip up, and it'll be all our lives on the line. Every innocent person's life, trapped in that dome.”

His eyes search the ground, not seeing it, but seeing his own thoughts splayed out like a dissected animal in front of him; ugly and cold. “I won't let everyone down again.”

She studies him and seems uncertain how to respond to the fact that he wanted to make sure he came down here with her. Her forgiveness is in her face, though she doesn't say it. "All our lives, even theirs, are already on the line," Elisabeth points out quietly. "Just because they don't know it doesn't make it any less true." She thinks about his need to prove himself.

"You're overreaching," she finally tells him. "Worrying about the big picture. You know what the goal is. You've worked out what must be done to accomplish it. Now… shut out the goal. Focus on what's in front of you. Accomplish step 1. When you're done with step 1, focus on the what's in front of you. Accomplish step 2. If you're too busy looking at the end goal, you're going to fail at the step right in front of you that is critical to success. You are one man. Do one man's job."

She reaches out and turns him by the shoulders. "Step 1. Learn how to use this ability. The wall down there is still intact. I destroyed the sound wave before it could impact, zeroing it out. You're likely not going to get that kind of control in this small amount of time, but what I did is similar to what you're trying to do. The main purpose of why you wanted my ability was for sound negation, yeah? So… you have to feel the sound wave itself and then you have to be able to interfere with it. I usually do that with a silence bubble. That's kind of how I think of the barrier — a soap bubble of some range that I choose. The sounds inside this bubble reflect back inside, the sounds outside it reflect back to the outside."

Elisabeth moves while she talks to him, going down the tunnel to jam a piece of rebar upright in the ground and stabs a dirty old tennis ball on it. Then she walks back and grins. "However, Lance described his as something altogether different — as basically flattening the wave. That's actually what I tried out today. I don't think it works the same way for him, but it was interesting. Anyway. I'm going to generate a sound wave that's going to set that ball to vibrating, the stick will sway. Your job is to make it stop. Either with a bubble that reflects it back at us or by flattening out the sound wave."

Peter is quiet, thoughtful, and attentive as Elisabeth talks. It's with considerable weight that he moves a shoulder’s width apart from Elisabeth and watches the point in space where she's planning on bringing the sound bubble into existence. Dark eyes move from that point to Elisabeth, and Peter reaches up and briefly rests a hand on her shoulder, giving it a firm squeeze, before letting it fall back to his side.

“I never got to know you here,” Peter says as he feels the sound waves beginning to build, “and I feel like that was a missed opportunity. I feel like… we should've had this conversation a long time ago.” His brows furrow, listening to the droning hum as the bubble gets louder.

“Because… I think I needed to hear…” Peter raises his hands toward the sound, closing his eyes and listening to the vibration in the air, in his bones, in his chest. “That don't have to be everything to everyone. I don't have to save everyone.” His fingers spread from fists into open palms.

“Just the people that I can.” If he planned on saying anything else, it's lost in a field of absolute silence that suffocated the noise, that drowns out all sound and sense into a tinnitus hum against an otherwise silent world. But Peter knows what he said next. His lips form the words without question.

I have to save Gillian.

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