Mouthing Words


helena2_icon.gif peter_icon.gif

Scene Title Mouthing Words
Synopsis Keeping a watchful eye on the Village Renaissance Building, Peter spots an unfamiliar face…
Date August 28, 2009

Greenwich Village

It'll be hours before the sun rises, but Helena can't sleep.

Since she and Cat got home, she hasn't even bothered to take off the dress she wore to the ball. She just marched up to the roof, planted herself near one of the edges, and sat, knees to her chest, an expanse of expensive cloth hugging her figure, ripped, burned, and just a bit bloodied. At least she's bothered to take her hair out of the updo.

But for hours and hours, all she can do is look out over the horizon toward the direction of Midtown, and begin to wonder that if a force of hatred like Humanis First can so easily accomplish their goals and take the city, the government, people with abilities, up against theirs with none - how can anyone hope to win? She had resolve the night before, and now, in skin that is hers and yet not her own, she's beginning to wonder again.

Bad moods like this have unfortunate affects on the weather too, the way the air temperature has dropped chilly seems remarkably easier than it usually does for Helena, like there's some other force out there that already wants the cold to come, and she's just helping it along. Maybe it's fall knocking on summer's door, maybe she's just imagining it.

In that chilly and breezy expanse of rooftop, there's few places that can get a vantage point on the Village Renaissance building. One of them happens to be a five story parking garage next door, and from that top floor, would-be onlookers only have to lean against a masoned railing to watch what's happening on the roof of Cat's building. Admittedly, it's hard to be subtle and perform that kind of surveilance.

It's probably why Peter Petrelli is standing under one of the roof lights at that adjacent building, the yellowed light spilling down over his coal black suit, making his eye sockets seem deeper, darker and more pronounces, it makes his whole face seem somewhat cadaverous.

For the longest time, he was watching the street across from the building, binoculars in gloved hands, curiosity sated in his own surveillance of someone watching what they shouldn't. But not finding quarry to keep him occupied tonight, he's turned his focus to the unfamiliar brunette across the way.

Lifting up the binoculars, he watches her carefully, adjusting the focus with one gloved finger, as if testing her perception by spying out in the open, seeing what she'll do. A new face around Cat's building is liable to be a security hole — he wants to see how big of a hole it is.
Yes, eventually she does get that prickly feeling, and the echo of lyrics to a Sting song in a vague and creepy sort of way. She turns her head, eyes tracking over the figure - narrows her eyes, and rises to her feet. She walks to the edge of the rooftop nearest to his, and it is with an uncanny sense of awareness that the chill at the back of her neck gives her the sudden awareness of who she's looking at.

He can't hear from this distance, but the closeup of his binoculars allows him to see her lips form his name as she looks at him, mouth set in an uncertain line.

That's never a good sign — being made was what Peter intended, but that she knows him is another matter entirely. One dark brow hooks up, and Peter folds his binoculars closed and tucks them into the front pocket of his jacket. Walking along the edge of the parking garage, Peter looks down and narrows his eyes, then looks back up. There's a motion with one gloved hand, pointing to himself, then pointing towards the unfamiliar brunette. It looks like he's curious if she'd like to talk.
She studies him thoughtfully for a few moments. She realizes he doesn't know who she is, and isn't entirely sure she wants to lie to him. But she's also not entirely sure she doesn't. The walk will give her a bit more time to mull it over, and then she nods, indicating a nearby side of the building - not the front. Then she turns toward the roof's door access and heads for it, disappearing.

She steps out onto the street from a discrete side door. If she's effected by the chill, she gives no indication, and it may be an unconscious clue should he approach her to discover her immediate area is more temperament.

By the time Helena makes it down to street level, Peter's coming out from around the back corner of the parking garage, hands tucked into the pockets of his slacks, brows knit and head turning to look over his shoulder. When his blue eyes focus back, there's a puzzle in his expression, one he's trying to fit this strange brunette into. "How do you know who I am?" Asks the man with a distinctive scar and a famous brother — sometimes Peter can't see the forest for the trees.

On his approach, his tone becomes a bit more conversational, though still laced with some of that paranoid venom that he first spat out. "More importantly, who are you? I haven't seen you around here before…" There's a glance afforded down one alley, and either he's blithely ignorant to the temperature change, or he's playing dumb.

Dammit, why is it easy to lie to a seemingly decent man like Michael Spaulding, but she finds the prospect of fibbing (it's like a lie, only classier) to Peter unacceptable? Yeah, even though it'll probably send him running, she tells the truth. "I'm Helena." Let's see if he even believes her. "I had a face morph to go that ball at the Met tonight." She watches him patiently, waiting to see if he believes her or not. Of course, if he doesn't, she has ample means to prove it.

One dark brow rises up, and Peter takes a step closer. "Oh, right, Jacob Dillon, your facial cosmetics guy." It's an out and out lie, he's grilling her to see if she's who she says she is. "How'd the ball go, by the way, I was waiting on you to get back to me with the report on the Clark kid too," his head tilts to one side, ice blue eyes surveying her form with a lack of familiarity. "How that turn out?"

Backlit by the yellow light of the parking garage's glow, Peter stares focused at Helena's new face, eyes narrowing, searching for something behind them that isn't there, and in some strange irony there's nothing in those blue eyes staring back at her that indicates it's Peter. Masks upon masks.

"Sal Silvatti." she corrects, and then sighs, "Your brother conned you out of one of the most important Mets games ever when you were a kid, I've cut your hair and given you a shave, we met in the subway tunnels, and you have a mole on your left - oh maybe I shouldn't mention that." HA.

The humor dies though, and she looks away. "How do you think it went?" she asks, gesturing absently at her dress. "Humanis First staged an attack. They kidnapped an Evolved federal agent, will probably torture him like they tortured Elisabeth, and I watched my father put at least three bullets in Michael Spaulding. People are dead, and I don't know what to do." But enough about her. She levels her gaze at him.

"Why are you spying on us, Peter?"

There's a smirk from Peter as Helena rolls off a few answers, one of them — Sal's name — eliciting a knowing smirk, he got that one for free. "Humanis is a pretty big problem, from the sounds of it," Peter offers pragmatically, "to be honest I hope you stay out of it, all personal feelings aside. We've seen where letting emotions control us has gotten both of us before." There's a look of those blue eyes up and down her, then out to the alley.

"I'm not the one spying on you." Peter's brows furrow, and when he looks back to Helena there's some uncertainty in his features. "Cat didn't tell you?" Raising one brow, Peter looks at Helena with that earlier uncertainty and skepticism, his posture is different than normal, he squares his shoulders, stands straighter, even his mannerisms and way of speaking feels subtly shifted away from what it used to be. It's like seeing a relative after a long time and realizing they've changed — but it hasn't been that long.
The way you stayed out of your father's doings? The way you just stood there after he impaled me with a piece of rebar?" she asks, tone perhaps surprisingly level. "I generally consider someone who stands around with binoculars watching the rooftop where I reside as falling under the definition of spying."

The way he talks, the contempt, the changes in his posture and expression, in the aftermath of the destruction, it's just - no. She turns, in preparation to walk away. This isn't someone she wants to be around.

"To my credit," Peter says with a discomforted tone, "I couldn't exactly go anywhere since I was paralyzed from the waist down." His dark brows lower, the anger rolling up in him seeming more natural than anything else he's done or said in a long while. But therein lies the rub, because once he's let the anger out, there seems to be some difficulty in reining it back in.

"The building is being watched," Peter spits out after Helena's back, "Cat knows, but someone's keeping tabs on who comes and goes. If you weren't so busy with your head in the clouds you might actually notice." He doesn't move to follow her, hands still tucked in the pockets of his slacks. "Just remember," he says with a furrow of his brows, "you're the one who walked away this time."

OH. She stops and turns, those unfamiliar eyes narrowed in a way that is very much like the Helena he knows. "You don't get to do that." she says. She would say more, but she actually checks herself, swallows. "What do you want from me?" she asks plainly. "I've kept away from you because you said it was what you needed. And you've done a very good job of hurting me enough to make sure I'm less and less inclined to chase after whenever you run away. So instead of standing there sneering, if you have something constructive to tell me about any of what's going on, please do. Otherwise, don't waste my time." Her jaw sets and with tight control she notes, "You know, Arthur might have tried to kill you, but he didn't take pleasure in it. Mine's told me that while shooting me in the head would be convenient, when he finds me he really rather plans to lock me in a container and set it on fire. My capacity for people I've loved who've betrayed me is really at its limit."

Is the rumble of thunder in the distance a reflection of her emotion, deliberate, or entirely coincidental?

"We all have family issues, get over them, there's bigger problems than both of our families out there." Peter's making the approach again now that she's stopped moving, hands still tucked into his pockets, shoulders still too squared, eyes still not his. "This building is under surveilance, you have anti-evolved terrorists shooting up government events and kidnapping cops. I don't really think that these are unrelated."

He swallows tensely, trying to pretend he didn't just connect the dots right then and there about Helena's father and Humanis First. His lips press together tightly, eyes casting to the side. "There's a twenty-megaton nuclear weapon that's gone missing, and I thinkt he Vanguard have it and are— " he hesitates, considering his words, "they're going to do something terrible with it. Cat's pet rockstar knows something about it, I've been trying to get information from her because asking Eve what she knows is like trying to ask a river why it babbles."

Looking back from a flicker of shadow towards Helena's unfamiliar face, Peter's brows furrow and his nose wrinkles. "Why'd you go?" He doesn't elaborate any further.
"Why do you care?" she challenges, though her tone is quiet. "You think there's a fat lot of good I can do about anything? From every corner of the underground, I'm being told that Phoenix needs to keep its nose clean and out of trouble." He doesn't have to hide connecting the dots, she wants him to.

She runs a hand through her hair, again the body language and vocal nuances creating the odd deja vu sensation of talking to her as she normally might look. "If you want information, you should be working with us, not around us. And not treating us like we're just pawns you can knock off a board on your way to the eighth square. If you ask Cat to help you and don't treat her like she's an encyclopedia on legs, she can probably put you in touch with Else. I've been dealing with internal Phoenix issues."

"Michael Spaulding has been putting out feelers, asking to speak with me. I wanted to see if I could find out if his intentions were really about speaking, and not so much locking me in a cell or putting a bullet in my brain."

"You don't really communicate with everyone anymore, do you?" Peter raises one experimental brow, then shakes his head. "I don't trust you, I don't trust Phoenix not to make a mess of everything if I try and go to them for help. I'm thorugh with the days of working with people, because I realized I tend to get a lot more done when I'm with myself. Maybe the— " he cuts himself off, changes words, "maybe Pinehearst burned me on the power of teamwork, maybe I'm just waiting for one of you to snap and take matters into your own hands."

Looking down the alley towards the street, Peter keeps talking. "I already asked Cat for Else's information. I traded some to her, and she gave me an address, I've keep keeping double time, eyes on Else's apartment and eyes on this building. Cat did't even know she had someone making a head-count of who comes and goes until I pointed it out to her. You've got and put yourselves out there and you think you can just live in the middle of the city?"

Pulling a gloved hand out of his pocket, Peter rubs leather-covered fingers at his forehead. "I came down here because I didn't recognize you, because I wanted to know who was snooping around here. Because for as much as I don't want to work with Phoenix— " the words have a way of forcing themselves out, "it's not like I don't care about you." He bites them off as they do spill forth, head tilting to the side and his feet carrying him a few paces away.

"Don't trust Spalding, he's with the government, he's only going to burn you in the end. Don't meet him, don't talk to him, don't even look him in the eye— god knows what kind of power he has." There's a quirk of his head back to Helena, brows furrowed as dots connect on the name Spalding. "Is he— "
"Cameron's brother." Helena finishes for him quietly, and a bit tiredly. "And I've already met with him. I want to hear what he has to say, but - you're right. I don't trust him, and I don't know that there's any way to open a line of communication with him that wouldn't involve being set up."

She makes up his retreat with an advance, not even realizing that even with a few steps, she just keeps chasing him, even when he doesn't want to be caught. "You never worked with people." she says calmly, quietly. "Everything you've done in the past year, from the moment you and Gabriel had your fight on level five, has been about you believing that no one could truly make the difference but you. Every decision you made, you made believing that it was solely within your capability to change things. But Moab went down because of teamwork. Me and seven others came back from a possible future because of teamwork. Pinehearst went down because of teamwork. The closest you've come to teamwork is with a duplicate of yourself, and that didn't work out so well. It was anything but." She studies him thoughtfully. "I think the reason you avoid teamwork isn't because you think it fails. It's because you're afraid if it did, the loss and the suffering would be a burden you're not sure you can handle on top of everything else you're carrying."

She looks briefly away, collects her thoughts, looks back at him. "It's hard to be what everyone wants us to be. We need people, and we have to risk trust, but at the same time you can't trust anyone. Have you figured out how to do that?" The question is genuine, a little lost. "Obviously I haven't."

"How'd that teamwork work out for you?" Peter asks coldly, bristling at Helena's approach in an unusual way, it's like she makes him uncomfortable. "The way your team handled the extraction from Moab caused people who deserved to be locked up to get free, and without any idea of where they are. Phoenix saved itself and damned anyone else who might get hurt in the aftermath. You toppled Pinehearst, you stopped my father, but I nearly got killed in the process." Peter's brows furrow, eyes closing, "You attack spiders with a sledgehammers and hope that the glass furniture doesn't get broken. I just— teamwork means other people are responsible for your mistakes."

There's a weakness in Peter's eyes, the eyes that aren't his. "I don't want to shoulder that burden, and some times I don't think you should." Swallowing dryly, Peter looks down at the ground. "Was the future you saw really so terrible?" They're words echoed from the last time they met, "Or did it become terrible once you started changing things there?" That part, however, is new.

"We didn't do nothing." she says. Perhaps surprisingly, neither her tone nor her body language is angry. "We didn't lock ourselves away because we couldn't bear our problems. We also saved ninety percent of this world's population, a fact that no one is likely ever to know - and that's okay. It is what it is, and the only thing I can do is try to make things better. I'm only one person, and that's why I need people, and I'm trying. I'm doing what you asked me to do. Are you going to tell me I shouldn't be doing it anymore? Are you going to do anything to help me make it better?" She already knows the answer to the second question. She adds much more quietly, "Do you really think my heart didn't stop when I saw you shot and tossed over the edge, even when I nearly died too?" But the question of the future makes her fitful.

"The future…was something you asked me - the future you - never to tell you." she says. "In some ways it was the brightest future that could've been, and in some ways the most terrible." Her eyes drop to the ground. "If we'd stayed, we'd have died, because that timeline was going to implode on itself, and since we didn't know if staying or going back would stop it. But nothing seemed to be stopping it for staying, so we did everything in our power to come home, and we - "

She hesitates, looks up at him. "I'm afraid." she says suddenly. "If I tell you about the future - make you understand the way things have changed, you'll hate me. Even if part of why I wanted to come back was," she gestures at him. "Did you ever really find out what I did to get myself down to Red Level to talk to you? Coming back from the future might have been necessary, but in a way what I did there is worse. You'll hate me."

There's a steelyness in Peter's face, a concern that comes over him as he listens, but like steel is tempered in the fire behind those pale blue eyes, allows the emotions to be swallowed down and choked back behind something else lingering in his expression; something ephemeral and ghostly. "Then don't tell me." It's as cold of a reply as he can give with a half step away from the brunette.

"Do what you do, keep your head down and protect yourself. I— I told you to be the leader I can't ever be, Helena. But it's true, I can't ever be a leader, but I'm not sure if I was right in telling you to." His eyes narrow, not coldly, but anxiously. "Sometimes when you doubt yourself, you aren't wrong. I learned that the hard way." He takes another step back, looking over his shoulder to the street, then back to Helena. "I— I've got to go. I need to check up on Else's apartment." There's a pause, he's considering words, turning phrases in his head. "You… you look good with dark hair," he admits, it's a hesitantly said truth.

And oddly, that gives her a stricken expression. "You mean I look like Gillian." She doesn't look like Gillian, but she also doesn't look like herself. She doesn't say anything else, but she doesn't step away. Why alter history? With one great big exception, that's always his role. That's always his role.

"You don't have to work with us." she says suddenly. "But…keep us updated." A brief, tight smile. "Can't hurt."

Peter's brows furrow, and the look on his face says what his lips can't; it could. He offers her instead a fleeting smile, though it never reaches those blue eyes he wears, retreating from the alleyway to the mouth of the street, where his hands tuck into the pockets of his slacks, and his eyes are cast in the southernly direction of SoHo. He has a long way to walk before curfew, and he doesn't want to get caught and harassed by the cops.

Pausing in the mouth of the alley, Peter looks to Helena with an uncertain expression in those pale blue eyes, little more than tiny dots at this distance. He mouths something, but without binoculars, she'd never make out what it says. But at least Peter knows, as he disappears out of sight and down the street, that he tried to say something he's been meaning to for a long time.

I'm sorry.

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