Not My Brother's Keeper


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Scene Title Not My Brother's Keeper
Synopsis In the jungles of Argentina, Peter recalls the circumstances that got him to where he is now.
Date November 24, 2009


The burbling sound of water joins with the cacophony of trilling birds and the susurrus of wind blowing through the leaves of trees. Here beneath the bright sun, the world seems like so much a simpler place. Beneath the shadow of a tattered canvas umbrella staked into the soft earth by the lakeside, Peter Petrelli looks somewhat out of place amidst the vast panorama of verdant jungle at his back. Reclining back in the wicker chair he's seated in, the black briefcase he's been keeping in his lap is brought up to lay on the wooden table beside him.

The handcuff attached to his wrist clatters as it rattles in tandem where it is attached to the briefcase's handle. Gloved fingers slowly roll over the numerical lock, rolling digits into place on both sides before he tests the latches.

The case opens with a pop-pop of both sides, and slowly that matte black Haliburton case is opened as the sound of approaching propeller-engine plane hums loudly in the air, breaking up the natural silence. A stern furrow of Peter's brows comes, creasing the scar between them as he stares into the darkened interior of the case, a look in his eyes becoming one of uncertainty. "Sounds like they're here…" he whispers to himself, slamming the lid of the case shut loudly.

Four Days Earlier…

The roar of a truck slowly draws away in the dark of night, headlights panning across the desolate and blown-out front of the two-story residential building in the abandoned neighborhoods on Staten Island's dark fringes, once a temporary den of wolves. Quiet footsteps fall across the cracked pavement of the driveway leading up to the building, and as the retreating headlights hit his form, Peter Petrelli's darkly dressed frame is little more than a narrow black silhouette with one glimmering piece of metal on his wrist, the glint of chain and cuff.

Approaching the abandoned residence's front doors, he pauses to look back over his shoulder at the retreating pickup truck that dropped him off, then turns the doorknob with one gloved hand slowly. The door is pushed open, eyes alight towards the shotgun braced inside of the door armed with a weight and string trigger. Peter's eyes check the position of the weight through the narrow opening space of the door — disarmed?

The door moves open further, and as he walks inside, his hard-soled shoes click-clack across the hardwood floor. "Eileen?" His voice carries hollow across the inside of the foyer. The Dispensary was empty, no one had been there for days, and this was the only other location the Remnant had been squatting in prior to that. Something's wrong. There's a furrow of his brows in the dark, only pale moonlight spilling through tall windows to give him any form of contrast. "Jensen?"

Comitting himself to walking again, Peter rounds his way towards the living room where that rickety old high-backed chair rests, one of his hands constantly held at his side to keep firm grip on the black handle of a briefcase carried with him. It's too dark there in the room to make out the corners, too dark to make out shapes in the doorways beyond, or even make out all the details of the furniture. "Ethan?" Then, finally, reluctantly, "Gabriel?"

He should have come back sooner.

Electricity had been patched straight from the grid for this place some time ago, making long shadows and gloom unnecessary beneath the warmth of brilliant light. However, no such thing has been touched, and thick night time ambiance conceals the corners like a peasoup fog. And so Peter will hear, more than see, the approach of someone directly to his left.


A familiar voice, graveled, curling around a nickname spoken more like an irony than anything else. Eyes adjust, moonlight strains through cloud cover and high windows, giving enough to reveal Nathan as he steps closer in from the doorway he's filled, out from the unknown corridor and into the living room. Civilian clothes don't become him like the sharp angles of his pristine suits. It makes him look older. Face as stern as its ever been, a furrow running a line between his browse, there is a calm kind of tension in the older Petrelli's posture and demeanor.

Stoic calm is shattered behind the presence of mind of a man far younger than the one who was just in control. Voices, like smells, can evoke the most powerful of memories. Jerking to the side so much that he bumps his hip into that old chair, Peter's dark eyes come up and focus on the stark contrast of moonlight and shadow playing across his brother's distinguishable face. In a way they match, both of them having a facial scar — one more evident than the other — but it's that devil of detail in the cut on Nathan's chin that gives some reassurance to Peter that maybe, just maybe, this really is his brother.

"Who are you?" Not the most welcome of greetings. But there's no secret service here, no thrumming helicopter blades, no men in suits coming to drag him back to the last place he ever saw his brother's face. Pinned between Nathan's approach and the chair, Peter laments wearing his gloves today.

Shrapnel should never be introduced to someone's face. Leaves tracks for decades. Even Arthur had held his hand during hospital and stitches and bandages, if a manly pat the back of his wrist could count, but Peter more than any of them. Still. Wounds close and feelings change. For all the way Nathan looks at Peter now, all of that history may as well be ice and nothing. Even the question, ridiculous in many ways if entirely fair, doesn't get him to bat an eye.

Not that he doesn't answer. "I'm Nathan. It hasn't been that long that you can't recognise your own brother, has it?" He comes to stand within the room, made chilly from its openness, the hearth dead and winter upon them all. "Where you been, Pete? We've had a hell of a time finding you." He's wind blown, too, that much becomes apparently, hair cut severely enough for it not too matter an awful lot, but there's healthy red in his cheeks, eyes bright.

"London." Dark eyes stay settled on Nathan, the answer coming terse and harsh, his voice sounding as if he's taken up smoking; always trying to emulate his brother it sounds like. "Then Prague, spent two days in Tibet, and I just got back from Shanghai." Those dark eyes finally pull away from Nathan's, and Peter's free hand rests on the back of that cloth-shrouded old easy-chair. How long has it been since he and his brother shared a conversation? How long has it been since they saw each other? Measuring time has become so much harder lately.

"I'm sorry if I'm not exactly happy to see you, Nathan." An uneasy motion settles Peter down into the chair, his cuffed briefcase laid down in his lap, one hand tapping gloved fingers on a side. "What do you want?" Because, ultimately, that's what it always boils down to. Peter can't truly ever be aware, though, of just how different the circumstances between the both of them are now.

Nathan moves as close as to stand opposite the chair with a small end table between he and his brother. "I'm not happy to see you either, but that's neither here nor there. Do you want to know where your friends are, or do you really want to know what I want?" The word friends isn't spoken as if it means the definition behind the word itself, though he's good enough not to sneer it out either.

The question isn't rhetorical, either, his study of his younger brother analytical and searching.

Now he bristles visibly, eyes going wide in shocked confusion for a moment, then narrowing in disbelief. "How— " the words are swallowed back, unwelcomed like a bitter pill of necessary medication. For a moment he's silent, considering the stark contrast of his brother's face, the gray at this temples that wasn't there the last time they saw one another. Stoic silence reaffirms its ownership of Peter's face again as he asks, "What did you do to them?" To not with. Hope of any of them still being alive would be likely false, given who and what they all are — or in some cases were. Peter's just not sure at the moment, which ones are reformed, and which ones aren't. Heck, he's not even truly sure about that in himself.

"You still want something…" Peter finally adds, before he'd really given Nathan a chance to respond. "You want to use them as a carrot to lead the horse, fine. But the fact that you've had a hard time tracking me down means you've been looking for me, and since I'm not already negated and hit with a taser, that means…" he trails off, eyes narrowed and brows tense with furrowing creasing the scar that bisects his face, "what, exactly?"

Nathan's hand rests on the edge of the tall backed dining chair, posture soldier stiff. His family ring glimmers polished in the low light. "That means I know there are better ways to deal with you." A brittle pause, before he says; "Jensen Raith, Ethan Holden, Eileen Ruskin and Gabriel Gray have been recruited to target known Vanguard locations around the world to find a nuclear weapon that was, as far as we can understand, part of an apocalypse. And could still be. Other men and women, based on their qualifications, have been gathered in any way we see fit to go on this mission.

"Your name didn't come up."

Wry as ever. The chair scrapes sharply out from the dining table, Nathan taking a seat and bracing his hands against the edge of the heavy oak, as if quite prepared to spring back up. "I want you in South America."

A quiet stare is afforded to Nathan, one brow raised and head quirked to the side. For a moment, Peter's stare is a thousand-yard one, and then as it comes back into slow focus there's something different behind his dark eyes, something less suspicious in the way it judges Nathan. "Efficient plan," Peter admits with both brows lifting. "Why South America, why not Russia or Madagascar or— " there's a moment of hesitation, eyes diverting to his briefcase, then a shred of a memory as he looks back up towards Nathan.

"Actually…" His demeanor has changed as quickly as a swift-moving storm, rising in a more graceful motion from his chair, briefcase moving from his lap to his side. "Argentina sounds like the right place to be, actually." There's a knife-thin smile, crooked as ever on Peter's lips. "I'm not certain if you're offering me this as some sort've recompense for allowing me to cause one nuclear event to make that up for me…" dark eyes drift to the side, surveying one of the windows, "but that's neither here nor there right now."

Dark eyes flick back to Nathan, one black gloved hand extended out in the way businessmen would seal a deal. "When do we leave?" Maybe he means he and Nathan, maybe he's being clever about his own predicament, the definitions are left vague for that very reason. No concern about the other Vanguard members, no concern about Eileen. It's not out of any lack of concern, but more the lack of anything to do about it. Once he's on the ground in familiar territory — then he can worry.

Nathan's back straightens as if he'd been stuck with a pin, for all it's abrupt. Mostly at the listing off of Madagascar and Russia, an uncomfortable glance sideways before looking back at Peter. However, there's no bluster of questions demanding answers - it's almost as if he's come prepared, as much as his jaw sets and he tolerates this moment of strangeness. The glove, too, is looked at with vague uncertainty before his own rougher hand extends out to seal the deal.

"Four days. You'll be received at the JFK at 3 a.m. on the 23rd. Take a flight to Beunos Aires, and you'll get instructions from there. Your teammates will arrive to meet you the next day. I have it on good authority that you might recognize Gillian Childs along with Jensen Raith."

Now there's a loaded statement, dry as desert bleached bone. Good authority being his own, and not only the brief moment he'd met her in the flesh in this present day, but the tattered remains of future-history behind him.

Peter's grip tightens around Nathan's hand, the muscles in his thin neck tense likewise. Back likewise straight now, he regards his brother with a discerning eye of distrust once more. "Gillian?" The other he can understand, of course, Raith makes sense somehow in that climate, but Gillian…

"Why is she there?" His hand doesn't relent from Nathan's. "She isn't— " his demeanor shifts, losing some of that hardened concrete edge. "She's not fit for an assignment like that. Send her back." It's about as much of a demand as Peter can make, and Nathan's heard that childish tone from his brother too many times to find it anything other than expected.

Tension translates as strength of Nathan's arm when Peter keeps his grip clamped shut, tight enough to make the small bones in his hands twinge in half-hearted protest. "She's already in Argentina. She got arrested more than a week ago, tagged as a Tier 3 Evolved and halfway to the nearest Homeland Security facility until they pinged her for being a terrorist, or knowing enough about the threat to contribute."

His words are flat and militant, almost too detached and articulate than the brother Peter knows. A moment later is roiling pettiness, though, again leaning too far off the balance to be Nathan as he sneers; "C'mon, Pete, even pretty princesses can save the world. I'm recruiting you, aren't I? Let go of my hand."

It might be some cruel irony of having known that future, maybe that's Nathan's intention for putting the two of them together, but in the end Peter remains blissfully unawares of the foretold future entanglement of he and the woman who would have — in a different time — become his wife. Stranger times are upon the world now, too strange to predict the ebb and flow of.

"Mom misses you." It comes like a knife to the kidney, a sucker-punch where none can really be delivered. "She wanted the two of us to come home for Thanksgiving, have dinner…" Peter's dark eyes narrow, and he releases Nathan's hand slowly, looking up to the man who stole the world with equally tired eyes. "You can tell her I won't be around, I guess."

There's an uncomfortable tilt to Nathan's head at that particular jab, as much as his subtly scarred face remains stoic and mask-like. As soon as his hand is loose enough, he jerks it out from Peter's leathery grip without any kind of effort made to do so politely, standing up sharply enough for the backs of his thighs to near tip the chair back. It only rocks and settles on its four feet once more.

"She'll understand," he says. His tone isn't glib, but sincere. Perhaps for reasons that only he and the Petrelli matriarch deign to know. "There will be ways to contact the CIA while you're gone. Your guide will be under orders to allow you free use of it if you need to talk to me. I'd like to remain in personal contact.

"Good luck." And that's that. Nathan gives him a stiff nod, and makes not for the door, but for the corridor he'd appeared from.

It's been years since Peter had a way to contact Nathan by phone, years since he'd even consider that. There's so many things he could say — should say — to his brother as he withdraws from the building. The time between then and the hot sun of the Argentinian jungle would give him time to reconsider words that would have been better off said. Apologies, forgiveness, words of earnest truth and brotherly kinship. Unfortunately for Peter, his emotions are tempered by cooler fires these days, and often just more smoke and ash than fire itself.

He never even said goodbye.

Present Day…

Standing beneath the umbrella with that briefcase held fast in one hand, Peter watches from under cover of shadow as the tiny propeller plane touches down on the water with its pontoons, creating a rooster tail of glittering spray behind the vehicle as it taxies across the lake surface and moves up towards the old wooden wharves at the shoreline.

Good luck, Nathan had said to him. In the back of his mind, Peter is left to wonder if Nathan will regret that being the last words they share with one another.

Peter already does.

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