Once Upon A Time, Part III


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title Once Upon A Time, Part III
Synopsis All good stories have a beginning, so that they can reach their end.
Date February 9, 2020

A light snow falls from a darkened sky.

Across the water, Staten Island looks like a greasy smudge of yellow light through the falling snow. Some of the lights are fires, others are the Rookery and what little electricity it has. But out west, in the abandoned stretches of New Jersey, there are no lights to be seen, save for one.

A small campfire burns amid a ring of bricks. Scrap wood harvested from dilapidated houses burns with an acrid smoke, lit out of necessity more than anything else. Crouched by the fire, Noah Bennet seems distracted. Firelight dances in his eyes, reflected in the lenses of his horn-rimmed glasses. Beside him, that same fiery intensity is mirrored in the burning gold irises of a young woman.

“Wear your own face,” she says to him, and Noah offers an askance look back. “He is too smart for that.” The girl says, her eyes focused on the dancing flame.

After a moment of consideration, Noah simply disappears like smoke on the wind, revealing Peter Petrelli kneeling where he once was. “Who is he?” Peter asks, holding his hands out to the fire to warm them. The golden-eyed girl lifts one brow, then looks at Peter in a very interested way.

“His name is Samson.” She says, waiting for a reaction.

Peter has none.

“Like Samson and Delilah.” Peter says with a small laugh. But the girl doesn’t respond, just returns her attention to the flames. “Okay,” Peter says to himself after a moment. “How long have you two been working together?”

“Not long,” is her elusive answer.

“Is this a joke?” Joke. A raspy old voice asks from the darkness, reverberating at the end into an echo. Peter stands up straight, rippling waves of microwave energy radiating out from his palms. But the gold-eyed girl rests a hand on his arm, and the glow subsides. She shakes her head, then looks in the direction the voice came from.

“No.” She says. “Come into the light, Samson.” Followed belatedly by, “Please.”

It is with great reluctance that Samson Gray drops his umbral transformation, stepping out of the shadows as though her were behind an opaque curtain. The old man is grizzled and rail thin, beard and hair unkempt, the stink of cigarettes clinging to him like decay on a corpse. Peter looks at him with pity, not rage, and that reaction has Samson’s eyes narrowing in suspicion.

“You look surprised to see me…” Samson smoothly offers, tugging a cigarette out of the front pocket of his winter coat, lighting it with a spark from the tip of his finger.

“Do I know you?” Peter asks, looking from Samson to the gold-eyed girl. Samson pauses in his tracks, tilts his head to the side and looks past Peter to the girl as well. She, in turn, gestures vaguely in the air.

“We must talk,” the gold-eyed girl says softly. “I need your help, both of you.”

Samson stares at Peter as the girl speaks, sucking in a lungful of smoke. Peter, not understanding the look of animosity and distrust, looks back at the gold-eyed girl with uncertainty.

“What about?” Peter asks, which Samson echoes with a grunt and a nod, exhaling smoke out his nostrils as he does.

“What you want,” she says.

“What you both want.”

One Year Later…

Muir Woods National Monument
Mill Valley, California

February 9th

“…and that’s how it all started.” Peter explains, shaking his head slowly.

He, Gillian, and Jolene had been sitting at an old, dilapidated picnic table just beyond the forest trail for over an hour now, hearing the story of what he’d done since waking up on the Deveaux Building rooftop.

“After that, I’ve been working to find Adam and stop him at any cost.” Peter says with a slow shake of his head. “I’d been working for years to get close to Adam, wearing the faces of members of his terrorist group Shedda Dinu. Not now, I’m closer than ever. He’s a ruthless killer, whatever he’s told you? It’s a lie.”

Lene reaches across the table and takes her father’s hand, not sure if she should tell him everything Adam had told them just the day before. Worry paints itself in Lene’s features, and she settles a troubled stare on her mother.

“I wouldn’t be surprised. Most people in power are liars,” Gillian says quietly, casting a glance toward her daughter. She understood the issues that this would potentially cause, the plan that they weren’t even really let in on. “Jac— he’s her father,” she explains, though she doesn’t know if it comes as a surprise. “So are a lot of ladies here, sounds like. Including Niki.” As she mentions the blonde, she watches him again for a moment, wondering. But she doesn’t wait for very long before she continues, toying with the sleeve of her shirt at her wrist, as if trying to pull it over the black mark that was there. Or it’s an old habit she can’t quite break when she’s emotional.

At least they’re no longer crying. But she’ll definitely want to wash her face when they get back.

“Jac believes him. And he told her that she was the only one who could fight a monster. That she was the only one who could have the power to do it and who was immune to her… Sounds like it was what they made her for.” It’s said as if it tasted sour, cause it did. “He wants her as a weapon, and she believes he wants her as a daughter.” And she hates it.

“I couldn’t take her from this place without getting an army together to fight him, and even then she’d probably just end up thinking I’m the bad guy.” She wanted to. She really, really wanted to. Call in every favor she ever did and get people to help her get her daughter out of Praxia and away from his hands. “All I thought I could do is try to play along so I can stay by her side and protect her, even from him, hopefully. Wouldn’t be the first father lied to his kid to achieve his own goals.”

She had thought that was all she would be able to do. Stay at Jac’s side and try to make this saving the world easier on her. To be there when it all fell apart. But now, maybe she could do more. “Do you know what he is actually after in this fight with a— Eve liked to call it the first of us. Golden Eyes. She had lots of dreams about it.” One that made her kind of want Jolene to stay away from all of this, but as long as she was far away from Eve she should be fine, right?

“He called it Uluru.”

There is no recognition in Peter’s eyes when Eve or Niki’s names are mentioned. Just a subtle tilt of his head to the side and a pinch of his brows. It’s the same reaction when he hears the name Uluru, it’s like they doesn’t mean anything to him.

“You can’t trust a word he says. Has he shown you any proof this— monster even exists?” Peter’s brows furrow further, disbelief painted across his face. “He’s manipulating you all, that’s what he does. He’s just like Sylar, like my father, like every other manipulative bastard with a scrap of power.”

Peter shakes his head. “I could get you both out of here, Jac too if she’s important to you.”

“She won’t leave.” Lene says frustratedly. “And I won’t abandon her here, especially not— not if Adam’s as dangerous as you’ve said.”

“I don’t know if I could ever express how dangerous he is.” Peter explains, squeezing Lene’s hand. “I know my head is… it’s cloudy sometimes.” He gets a little distant sounding there. “But what I remember clearly? It’s you two,” he says with obvious emotion in his voice, “and him. I’m the reason he got out of Level Five all those years ago, I’m the reason he was able to kill Kaito. I can’t— I can’t rest until he’s stopped.”

“Neither of us will leave. Jac has teleportation now, so even if we were able to get her away, she’d just go back,” Gillian responds softly, sounding a little hopeless for a moment. She knows the girl believes in her father, but it was so hard for her to trust him. “I adopted her. I promised her that we would be family forever, but…” That was before the girl found her real one? She’d left on her own accord, too, when she’d thought the girl had been kidnapped, held against her will. “Even if I could find some proof that he’s a liar, I don’t think it would matter to her at this point. Not unless she sees it for herself.”

Was it difficult to compete with someone who claimed to actually be of the girl’s own blood? Right now it felt that way. Like she had chosen a father who told her she could be powerful enough to save the world over a mom, who wasn’t of her blood, who just wanted to take her home and watch her go to school and the most dangerous things she might do would be under the eyes SESA or of the Lighthouse Kids (who would always be kids to her, even though many were now approaching their twenties, if not already there). This man she didn’t know, didn’t trust, and what she’d known most about him was that Eve had spent nearly a decade hunting him.

“The way things were going, he probably would have gotten out without you, you know. Or ended up in the hands of the Institute. Either way you shouldn’t hold it all on your shoulders. You’re not responsible for what other people do.” She grasps her own wrist gently, a self-soothing motion. “I just want to protect Jac. And if that means stopping him, then you can count me in on whatever you have planned.”

Peter looks down at the table, while Lene watches her mother with visible fascination. It isn’t so much at anything Gillian is saying, so much as it is the context of how she talks to Peter is much in the way she’d talk to Lene during the war. People had always said she was a lot like her father. Now, Lene finally has a measure by which to compare that accusation to. She finds it accurate.

“I’m doing everything I can to stop him,” Peter continues on full-speed ahead, like a dog chasing a car. “He tried to develop a biological weapon, one based off of something called Gorgon.” Mention of that name sends a chill down Lene’s spine and her hand clamps around her father’s. “The scientists that were working on it double crossed Adam, I’m here working behind the scenes — masquerading as Doctor Allen — to try and fudge any extra tests they run.”

“What— what could he possibly want with Gorgon?” Lene asks with a shake of her head. “That thing was designed to kill us.”

Peter is surprised she knows what the bio-weapon is, but at the same time relieved. “From what I know, he wanted to build a weapon that would kill ordinary people. A weapon that could destroy everyone that didn’t have abilities, leaving just us behind. He’s tried it before, the Company stopped him then, and I’m not going to let him do it again.”


Gillian’s breath catches as she fails to inhale all the way. It’s almost a choking sound for a moment. Gorgon had almost cost her daughter her life. It had killed everyone else that had been with her. It had stripped her of her ability for years, and left her with neurological damage that they thought would be permanent. It only wasn’t because of a visit last year from a young woman who had once saved her life with Joy. Brought her back from death, even. “Why— why would that thing even still exist?”

Why hadn’t the government destroyed every trace of it after they had won— unless he was recreating it from notes. Even then it still should have all been destroyed. “Fuck.” While it might have been rare a year ago for her to curse, it hadn’t been rare at all before she had started helping out at the Lighthouse a decade ago. And it wasn’t that rare now that she’d met Adam fucking Monroe either. “If Jac knew he was going to release something like that she wouldn’t…”

Trust him? Love him? Work with him?

What terrified her most is that she would still trust him. Because of his experience, because he’s her father. Because he told her to trust and believe in him.

Her hand starts shaking a little, until she flexes it in and out of a fist. “You— you said that they double crossed him?”

“Yeah,” Peter says with an affirmed nod. “One of the scientists was working with an agent from SESA, they gave Adam a dummy biological agent. They said it should be convincing and so far I’ve been able to use it to fool all of the tests.” Which is impressive, because Peter Petrelli is absolutely not a chemist. “I don’t know what happened to the real thing, probably destroyed.”

Lene swallows tensely, looking to Gillian with so much restrained fury in her eyes. “That son of a bitch— was going to try and— and— ” she can’t even finish her sentence. “How do we stop him?” She asks with a snap of a look back to her father.

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out,” Peter says reluctantly. “Praxia’s a fortress, there’s no way we can just come at this head on, and Adam’s so cautious if he thought for a moment we were on to him, he’d just disappear. I’ve spent a decade trying to get this close to him, and now — with all those copies he has? I don’t know.”

Peter looks down to the table, then back up. “Something’s about to happen. I can feel it in the air there. They’ve moved the bio-weapon to some manufacturing center, probably to prepare for dispersal. I heard somebody mention something about a submarine, but I wasn’t able to hear too much more. Adam has everyone compartmentalized, everyone knows something, but nobody knows everything.”

“I don’t think we’re gonna be able to stop this until it’s about to happen,” Peter says nervously. “Pinehearst all over again.” Which makes him laugh awkwardly. That didn’t end so well for him.

There’s a hint of relief in the way that Gillian exhales. If it didn’t work then that was something. It meant that even if they failed it might not have as big of an affect as he had planned. Maybe they could still save people. But who knew what the altered Gorgon would do, even if it didn’t do what it was supposed to? She had seen first hand what it had done to her daughter. Her eyes move to Lene’s, looking sad, because— they both knew how rough that had been on her. Gillian had done everything she could to make things as easy as possible on the young woman— but even making her house handicap accessible hadn’t really been as helpful as… Her not being hurt in the first place.

She was going to need to thank Nathalie again when they made it back home eventually.

“Pinehearst didn’t end well for a lot of us,” she says with a knowing hint of a smile, but it doesn’t touch her eyes really. It still makes that dimple show up, though. “We all had a plan and it still ended up going sideways. I thought I was going to be the hero, but all I did was move your dad into checkmate.” His dad. At least this time it wasn’t his dad.

If she had to line Adam up for a checkmate too, she would. “So we’ll just have to play ignorant, go along with his Hammer, Anvil and Spear plans— and wait til we see an opening, then do what needs to be done. Piece of cake.” Very difficult cake.

“I’m gonna try and stay as close to Adam as I can without raising any suspicion, but these illusion powers I took from Candice have their limitations.” Peter explains. “There’s a lot of technology here that could catch me. Hell, I think Jac almost did when I ran into her in the cafeteria after she was being creeped on by that doctor.”

“What doctor?” Lene asks, hyper-focusing on anyone obsessed with Jac.

“Oh, he works down in the genetics lab, but I have lunch with him to keep up appearances.” Peter says with a shrug. “Nobody likes him. His name’s… uh,” Peter purses his lips in thought. “Morrison. Stefan Morrison.”

Any hint of a smile that Gillian might have had disappears. Some of the color even drains from her cheeks for a moment before she’s suddenly standing up, fingers flexing into fists with anger. And disgust too. “Stefan Morrison is here. And talked to Jac.” That color starts to return to her face again, and she looks as if she wants to throw something. Peter might remember that look, cause it had been cast at him a few times. And at least once she did throw something at him. But that was all in the past.

This time she had a very good reason to be disgusted and angry. Before it had been all emotions and no real reason. It had been her own self-doubt that had caused it. But now— she remembers what Kaylee had seen in the girl’s head, the repressed memories.

“That’s Jac’s grandfather. The man who she was living with before the war. And the man who experimented on her.” And he was here. “I think I’d like to accidentally run into him at lunch myself.”

From the way she says it, she wants to run into him with her fist.

Peter looks back and forth between Gillian and Lene, thoughtful and silent in one measure. He only speaks up when he’s sure he has a good answer for them both. “Thirty-third floor employee cafeteria on the northwest corner. He takes his lunch late with the rest of his department, about 4:00 in the afternoon.”

Lene nods, squeezing Peter’s hand. “Thank you.”

“It’s nothing,” Peter says quietly. “If I’d known, I might’ve just pushed him down a flight of stairs myself.” But maybe he’s just saying that. “Look I— there’s so much more I want to talk to you both about, and… and so much I want to apologize for.” That much is said to both Lene and Gillian equally. “But I can’t risk doing this too often. The entire Ziggurat is riddled with cameras and microphones and if they notice Adrienne gone for too long… it’ll raise suspicion.”

“Until then, I’ll be close. Never too far away.” It kills Peter to have to put that distance between them. “If you need me for anything, try and find an excuse to get in touch with Doctor Allen.”

Peter sighs, and he can see the great disappointment already building in Lene’s glassy eyes. He takes her hand in both of his, squeezing back harder. “When all this is over,” Peter says, “the three of us have a lot to talk about.” There’s a sad smile from Peter, but one that has a hint of hope in it.

The location and time for lunch is noted and Gillian makes a mental plan to— come up with some way to make it look random. Unless she can get Jac to tell her about him, then she can storm in like she wants to. Either way, she would have recognized him when she saw him. The altercation likely would have happened at some point. Unless she just— managed not to ever run into him. The anger fades as she gives a solid nod. She will deal with that later. As for everything else…

“Yeah, I know. I’ve been careful when I talk about anything.” Especially during the calls home to Robyn. She’d wanted to tell the other woman so much, but she couldn’t risk it. She couldn’t say what Jac was being trained to do. She couldn’t talk about Joy or Adam or Gemini. She could just try to let her know that they were all in good health and were going to do everything they could to stay that way. She could not even say for sure that they were safe. How safe could they be in a place where their every move was monitored.

“I wish…” she trails off, looking saddened for a moment. She wanted to have more. She wanted to talk. She so much that she didn’t even feel she was entitled to. Letting those thoughts trail off, she steps around closer to him and touches the front of his shirt, pressing on the fabric gently. For a moment it seems as if she wants to grasp it, “There will be a lot to talk about when this is over. Let’s all three try to be there when it is.”

Peter nods in agreement, his eyes red around the edges and throat tight with emotion. The same expression is mirrored in Jolene, who for a moment fights against Peter letting go of her hand. It takes all his emotional strength to pull away from Gillian and Lene, to step up and away from the picnic table.

“I should get you two back there.” Peter says with a forced smile, a crooked and fraught smile holding back a high tide of other more complicated emotions.

Lene nods, slowly rising up from the table, keeping on hand at her mother’s back. “When will we see you again?” She asks, she has to ask.

Peter’s smile dips for a moment, then rises back. “I’m not sure,” isn’t the answer she wants, but it’s the only answer he has.

As Peter stands and moves away, Gillian lets her hand drop, but not before flexing the fingers a little in a motion that hints heavily she wishes she could have held on. It was difficult. She wanted to be selfish so much. She wanted to make demands. But the demands weren’t fair. For any of them. She leans against the hand on her back a little, needing that touch more than she wanted to admit. “Yeah, we should get back…” They didn’t want Adam or Joy or any of his people asking questions about where they went. They had gone to get a burger outside the Ziggurat, to see the water, to enjoy some fresh air. It was their rights, after all. They were following all their rules and working along.

But this was one thing Gillian would rather they never know about if she could help it. She would even keep it from Squeaks if she needed to. Jac hadn’t known him, it could wait til this was all over.

“We need to get ready to take care of this mess. I’ll see if I can talk to the lady who helped us get this far,” she adds to Jolene. The lady made of ink, whom she still wore on the back of her right hand and carried around in a book. She was a little secret she hoped to keep as well.

The secrets were piling up. The complications were getting more complicated.

“At least I have lunch to look forward to.”

Peter smiles, wearily. As Gillian and Jolene move to join him, Peter reaches around his neck and pulls off a beaded chain necklace with what looks like a thick dog-tag at the end. “This is a portable micro-drive,” he says, taking one of Gillian’s hands and placing it in her palm, curling her fingers around it. “There’s a thumb print scanner on it. The data is everything I was able to retrieve off of Praxis’ computers about their bio-weapon.”

Peter looks to Lene, then back to Gillian. As Gillian looks at the necklace, she can see the metallic tag has a port on one end and a thumb print stamped into the metal. Some sort of biometric lock.

“The device is automatically encoded to only unlock for Doctor Allen,” Peter explains, “so now that it’s been encoded there’s not much I can do. But if something happens to me… get that information to someone you trust, in case this thing becomes a problem. I’m sure there’s a way to… to hack it. Or something.”

“Doctor Allen,” Gillian repeats the name quietly as she takes the tags, shifting them in her hand and then nodding as she grasps them. She already knows exactly whom they would go to when this all gets figured out. If she could get it there now, she would, but— it was hopefully only a back-up plan. If something happened to him…

They were already planning for that contingency. What would happen if they weren’t able to do what they needed to do. It made her throat tighten just thinking about it. Pushing the microdrive into her pocket, she steps forward again and looks up at him— not that he’s that much taller. He knows that look better than she even does. Even Jolene might know that look, too. It’s the worried loving prideful look that she couldn’t help but give them both. Because she knew they would do anything they could to do what they thought was right. That they would risk everything.

And she loved that about them.

“Be careful, Peter,” is what she settles on saying. “You’re not in this alone. Not anymore.”

Sighing through his nose, Peter lays a hand on Gillian’s shoulder, and one on Lene’s. There’s a moment of tense silence between them, followed by Peter closing his eyes and nodding once in silence. After a moment, he squeezes their shoulders and says.

“I know.”

And all three vanish.

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