One Foot In The Door


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Scene Title One Foot In The Door
Synopsis Door to door salesmen used to use a tactic where they would wedge one of their feet in the door to keep prospective clients from slamming it in their face. Peter has found a similar but equally inelegant solution to his information problem.
Date August 25, 2009

The Verb

The lobby of the Village Renaissance building is rather typical of an upscale New York tenement building. With the closed-circuit security cameras, an attractive architecture scheme peppered with a mixture of marble, tile and living plants in stone planters, it has a subdued class and refinement to it that should not be remarkable, save for that it is found in Greenwich Village.

The neighborhood isn't what it used to be, it's a pale shadow of the vibrant and hopeful neighborhood it once was. But this building, nicknamed the 'Verb' by the local residents, has been the much-needed injection of life and community into a dying neighborhood that has been struggling to keep itself together since the bomb send wild fires through the streets and sent residents scattering to areas further from the fear of radiation.

Nearly three years out, this singular building is what is the breath of life for Greenwich Village, and yet is largely an exclusive place of residence due to its secret nature as containing a safehouse, on top of having one of the most top-notch security systems in the city installed. It makes breaking in exceedingly difficult.

But, like the shadow seated on the marble bench near the front doors knows, a boot to the door isn't always the only way inside of a place.

Situated away from where a pair of wilted looking ferns droop with brown leaves, Peter Petrelli's dark suited figure rests with blue eyes focused on the front doors. His leather gloved hands are folded in his lap, one leg crossed over the other, back straight and shoulders squared. With a briefcase at his side, he looks something the part of a businessman on lunch or a resident waiting for a guest — but the gruesome scar that crosses from his brow over the bridge of his nose and down his cheek makes it hard for him to blend in to any crowd, except for perhaps in the emergency room of a hospital.

But the patience displayed in his waiting game is a calculated one. Eyes are narrowed, blue and clear but clouded in their intent as he briefly looks away from the front doors towards the secure elevators, the front desk, and then the entrance again. All it takes, is the right person.

Thankfully, she's on her way.

Outside, Peyton Whitney comes up from the subway, looking left, then right, to get her bearings. She was a bit shell shocked when she arrived at the Village Renaissance Building that night after the hospital shooting, but she took a walk with Brian one day and recognizes her whereabouts. She turns an heads toward the building; there is a cautiousness about her, an alertness of posture that one familiar with such things would recognize as the mark of a victim of past violence. She hesitates as she looks up at the building, unsure it's the place — there's another one that looks similar across the street. Chewing on her lower lip, she turns and looks across the way, and then back up, at the address that is meaningless to her.

Why she is here, she's not sure. She has a phone. Cat has a phone. But Wendy once told her that technopaths can listen in on phone calls and intercept text messages. What if Humanis First is using a technopath to do their spying for them? She wouldn't put it past them. After all, they were going to use Wendy as some sort of Evolved Bloodhound.

Watching through the front doors from where he sits, all it takes is one familiar face from a few days of scouting the building to get Peter to rise up from his seat. Tucking his hands into the pockets of his slacks, the dark-haired man calmly starts to move towards one of the locked elevators, his pace slow and relaxed, halting by one before glancing up and over his shoulder, watching the security cameras out of the corner of his eyes before turning to look towards the front door. Seeing the hesitance of the mark across the street, Peter flashes a smile ans starts sauntering towards the front of the building, stepping aside as someone comes in the front door, then quietly sidling up past them to walk out onto the street.

His appearance outside is something of a black smudge on the otherwise bright street during the middle of the day. His brows rise, stepping out from beneath the awning of the front of the building, waiting until Peyton is looking in his direction, then sliding one gloved hnd out of the pocket of his slacks to beckon her over, a lopsided smile angled across his mouth.

Peyton turns, looking back to the building she stands in front of, and decides it's definitely the right one. Her dark eyes meet Peter's as he steps into her sightline, and she frowns. Strange man beckoning to her? Sure, and I'll have some candy, too, and get in your van, mister! Still, it's broad daylight, and she needs to go in the building, so she gives him a polite nod, like you do the overly friendly people who say hello to you for no reason, and moves toward the front door.

"You must be that friend of Cat's, right?" Peter offers as Peyton comes over, flashing a toothy smile as his head tilts to the side slightly. "My name's Peter," he doesn't offer her that gloved hand that waved to her, but rather tucks it back into his slacks. When his brows rise, he nods his head towards the front doors, taking a half step back towards them before grabbing one handle and pulling it open. "I've seen you come and go from here before, she giving you a place to stay?"

He's cordial, cheerful, and from the way he holds open and door and motions with one hand in a sweeping gesture towards the interior, playing much the gentleman. Those blue eyes, soft and deceiving, they stand out so much to anyone else who knows him well — but to a stranger they just seem light and gentle.

"I don't live here, no," Peyton says with a frown, looking at Peter, trying not to look at the wicked scar that slashes across his face, but ends up looking at his chin. Awkward.

"So I think you have me confused with someone else, Peter." There's an edge of Peyton's "diva-ness" in that, though she doesn't add the flouncing toss of the hair that she might have just a couple of weeks past. This Peyton is less frivolous and less confident. She lifts her chin and strides through the door — of course, once there, she really has no idea where to find Cat. The only time she spoke to the woman in person, Cat came to her.

There's something of a nod, even if both of Peter's brows rise in a oh she's like that expression. "I'm one of Cat's friends," he notes off-handedly, stepping in behind her as the door slowly swings closed. "Her and the people who work in this building, actually. I noticed you hanging out with Brian once, I'm— " Peter smirks, trying to play up the humble and goofy routine, "we're not the best of friends." Lay on enough familiar names, to gain confidence. If there's anything Peter took away from his time with Kaito Nakamura, it was how to play the odds and bank on one success.

"I was just on my way up too, actually," he lies through his teeth, eyeing the elevators uncertainly, "were you going up to— " he grimaces, moving to walk at Peyton's side. "You're…" his words are lost behind a confident smile, a silent thanks given to the evening news, "Peyton, right? I think?" Feigned hesitation, "I'm terrible with names."

"I needed to talk to Cat, yes," Peyton says, glancing at the elevator — well, she has to ask someone how to get to Cat, so it may as well be him, right? Except that there's something that makes her uncertain of him — is it the scar? That's prejudiced, part of Peyton's brain says. But at the same time, who gets scars? Dangerous people. Criminals. Or people who've been the victims of violence, just because they are Evolved.

As Peyton's brain ping-pongs with all the possibilities of Peter's intentions, she finally nods to him. "Right. Peyton. I don't remember what floor she's on — or actually I'm not sure I knew. I stayed here for just a few days," she explains, giving in and trusting. After all, he knows the right names, and what are the odds that someone wanting to kidnap her would happen to be at the same exact place she needed to go to?

At the security desk, one of the people in the dark slacks and white golf shirts marked with a logo and the words The Verb on the left chest looks at this pair in the lobby. He doesn't let his eyes linger on them long, though. He instead ducks through one of the doors behind the desk and pulls out an iPhone. A number is pulled up and the call button pressed; he waits for the other end to pick up. This man is a bit nervous now, given the identities of those two. He fears for his job a little: the look on Cat's face when she learned he'd just given a disk of camera footage to Minea Dahl without a warrant was not pleasant.

"Fourth floor or the penthouse," Peter notes with a quirk of his head, "you aren't getting up there unless you're buzzed in though." He motions over towards the buzzer that calls up to the different floors. "I'd try the penthouse first, might get the best result." A fleeting glance is given to the man at the desk on the phone, and Peter struggles to keep that knowing smile down as he waits by one of the elevators.

"Just go ahead and buzz up to her and let her know you're here," there's a tilt of Peter's, "she'll probably just invite you up." Both of Peter's brows rise as he tilts his head to look back towards the elevators, then the steel doors behind the desk. His eyes close, head dipping down, and he can't help but stare at his muted reflection in the marble floor for a moment before asking absently, "How long've you known Cat?"

Peyton hasn't come and gone from this apartment, except that one time with Brian, though she has gone that time she left and didn't come back. "Not long," she says with a shrug, as she walks over to the buzzer, hand suspended over the button. "I was here a couple of weeks ago. We met then. You?" she asks, before pushing the button. She reaches with her free hand to straighten her "newsie" cap, a little fidgety in the presence of Peter's intensity.

The building security staff member's call is answered on the other end, and he tells the person who picked up there are people in the lobby who would be found of interest. Then he listens for a few moments, wincing. Someone is apparently not in a good mood. "Yes," he says. "Absolutely. I understand." The call ends, he goes back to the desk and wipes his brow a little. "Christ," he mutters under his breath, "crazy mysterious woman."

"I met her…" Peter hesitates for a moment, as if taking an effort to collect his thoughts, "Last fall, at the Surly Wench. She's a musician, you probably knew that if you saw her place— " or so he imagines, anyway, "but she's got a killer voice. Used to play all the time, less so since things started happening around the city. People like us— " he offers those blue eyes to Peyton in the form of a soft look and a hesitant smile, "can't be too careful anymore. The city's become really dangerous…"

Glancing over his shoulder at the man at the desk, Peter cracks a smile and walks quietly up behind Peyton, slightly to her side to stay in her periphery and not seem entirely looming. "She can be a little strange at times, but she's good people. You're in good hands, whatever it is you need from her…" then, with a moment of hesitation Peter amends, "or whatever she might need from you, I guess."

Peyton takes her hand off the button. Apparently no answer, no buzz through. "Like us?" she repeats, and her solemn brown eyes meet his. The scar is starting to be less off-putting, more part of him, less frightening. Either that or his non-looming tactics are working.

"So you're … like me… too? What do you do?" she says quietly. She glances at the elevator and back at him. "I didn't call… someone told me something about technopaths that scared me, but we talked on the computer last night, so I guess it would have been safe enough. Paranoia." She shrugs, her cheeks coloring a little with embarrassment.
The elevator nearest them opens moments later with that customary 'ding' tone. Inside the transporting device the access panel which hides buttons for floors above three is open. An invitation, perhaps?

"I only know one technopath," Peter admits with a tilt of his head, "and from my experience she is very dangerous, expecially if you're on her bad side, which is pretty much all of her sides," he notes with a crooked smile, brows kicking up as the empty elevator opens. Raising his gloved hands in a there you go gesture, Peter tilts his head to the side and motions for Peyton to walk in first before following her inside. As if he knows where he's going, he just presses the Penthouse button — best to start with something he has a vague idea about.

"As for what I do," he states as the metal doors slide shut and close them inside, "I kill people." Dark humor, perhaps, because he's just laughing when the doors come shut, one hand raking back leather-gloved fingers through his hair. "Sorry, that really didn't come out right, but— my ability's a bit dangerous. Just— don't touch me and we should be fine," says the man in the enclosed elevator with a crooked grin.

Peyton steps into the elevator and is glancing down at her hands when he says he kills people. She gasps, taking a futile step back — where is she going to go in the elevator, really? — and then shoots him a dirty look when he laughs. She's not sure if he's crazy, out to kill her, or actually telling her the truth. "That's a great thing to throw at someone who's stuck in the elevator with you," she says, her tone a mix of admonishment and sarcasm. She glances at his gloved hands, and bites her lip. There must be a reason he wears gloves in the heat of summer, however. "But it's true, isn't it?" she says more solemnly, frowning.

Peter's eyes close, head nodding solemnly. "An average person dies within about four minutes of prolonged skin to skin contact,f aster if I'm touching them somewhere vital, they just— " he censors himself with a shake of his head and a clipping of his words, "it's not plesant. I can't turn it off, it just— you can still feel it even when I wear gloves, someone told me it feels like pins and needles, like when your foot falls asleep?" He glances over at Peyton as the numbers on the elevator chime up and up.

There's no quirky tone to his voice when he talks about the ability, just something very firmly sounding like regret. "I can't touch anything… anything alive. Plants wilt around me, fruit decomposes, it— it makes getting by difficult, but— there's people with worse disabilities." He calls it a disability?

It's not a long ride. When the sixth floor is reached, there's another 'ding' and the doors open. Across the corridor outside, there's a pair of double doors. They're open, Cat is standing there waiting in shorts, athletic shoes, and an old Led Zeppelin t-shirt. She looks a bit sweaty, as if she'd been in the middle of some physical exertion when she was contacted. Features are a bit stony, but otherwise welcoming. Her mental state is kept under wraps: she won't let on how familiar the situation with Elisabeth feels, how familiar the situation with Peyton felt. Refuses to let herself fall apart and wallow in memories of Dani's demise which keep surfacing.

"Peter," she begins, forcing herself to quirk a thin smile. "Welcome to my new home." An image of waking up to find him etching artwork into her walls at the apartment flashes into her mind's eye.

After she shakes it off, Peyton is turned toward. "Peyton. Good to see you," she greets. "How are you holding up?" Her concern that members of Humanis First might have her under surveillance is kept to herself for now. Hopefully Miss Whitney wasn't followed.

Peyton's eyes fill with tears. And she thought her manifestation was the end of her life. Here's someone who could unwittingly kill his friends and family. "I'm sorry—" she begins, when the elevator dings open and there's Cat. She glances at Peter, and then back at Cat, her eyes a little wide, something like, I can't help it, he followed me home! There's no can we keep him in that gaze though.

"Hi, Cat. I'm sorry to … I should have called, but I got spooked by the thoughts of technopaths. I was practicing… and I saw something that might be of help. I'd have gone to the police, but they … well, they don't know what I can do, not exactly. So I don't know how to tell them what I saw," she babbles a little nervously.

"I hope you don't mind me just showing up like this…" Peter brushes off Peyton's sympathies as he steps out of the elevator rather quickly, "I just had something I wanted to talk to you about in confidence, but you can," he waves his hand towards Peyton slowly, "handle whatever business she's got going here." There's a look across from the elevator, down the hall and back over his shoulder to Peyton. "She's been the perfect guest," he adds with something of a coy smile.

"But, I'll give you two your privacy," he adds with a rise of his brows, stepping past Cat to slip towards the penthouse proper. "You just take care of business and I'll make myself home in your fridge," he hesitates, glancing back over his shoulder to Peyton with a smile. "It was nice meeting you, Peyton. I'm sure we'll see each other around, I tend to be around."

"I'm interested," she replies to the man with a chuckle. "There's Piccoli's in there. And other things you might expect to find." Pepsi. Stout. Juice of the orange kind. Milk, even. Steak, eggs, ham, ground beef, cheeses, wine of the type that needs chilling. And as she turns toward Peyton, Cat has some curiosities, a thing she seeks to address. Did Peter acquire Kazimirness by being around it, or is it the only thing he has now? An attempt at finding the answer is made. She simply thinks. Peter. Do you hear me?

"No worries, Peyton," she answers calmly. "Thank you for helping with this. I know it can't be easy, making yourself think about them. I've been in that situation myself. You might recall I said something about my memory being both blessing and curse." She leaves that out there for Peyton to understand, or not.

"It was nice to meet you, too, Peter," Peyton murmurs, no longer all feigned sass and confidence. Her dark eyes still glimmer with held-back tears as he leaves the entry way. Those eyes flicker to Cat and she nods. She said she'd been kidnapped before, too. "I'll be happy if I can forget some of it eventually. I'm sorry you can't," she says softly.

Peyton takes a deep breath. "I won't stay long, since he needs to talk to you, too," she says quietly. "I was using my power, and … the one from Old Lucy's? He's in a hotel room, probably 20 or more stories up, it looked like it was maybe the Upper East Side or maybe the Bronx from the angle. Looking out over Midtown." She shudders at little at the memory of the rest of it. "I … it won't … but cops maybe can look into credit card payments, he ordered a porn movie. Something with the word Spunky in it." She gives another shudder. "But more importantly, the Irish guy, he was in what looked like the back of a big truck, one of those big semi trucks. It was loaded with tons of guns and … bullets and a bunch of guys were unloading it." She frowns. "I don't know where that was. It was near all these run down buildings in a dirt lot. The marine guy, that David guy, was with them."

He's either adept at playing coy, the refrigerator ate him, or Peter's not telepathic any longer. Peter lingers only long enough to listen to what Peyton says, one brow raised in curious question at it before he slides right by Cat, as if they hadn't just had something of an argument in the Rock Cellar recently, as if he belongs here in the same way he's been playing to Peyton the entire time. When he disappears out of sight, it's just his shadow on the wall that is left in Cat's periphery, and eventually even that disappears as he leaves the two to their own devices.

"It's both blessing and curse," she repeats with a nod, her voice quiet, "but it's mine, part of me. I'd rather have it than not." Cat's had that experience too, the sudden seven years of fog after being defenestrated from a burning childhood home. And Peyton's sharing is focused on. "Did you see anything which might have his full name, or anyone else's full name, on it?" David is unfamilar. "David. Do you mean Danko, Peyton?" Her mind is at work. Info can be given to the police without her being mentioned, anonymous tips made that suspicious people were seen and weapons are involved. Her feelings over Elisabeth's situation are reined in, the pragmatic side focuses on getting the goods on HF. The fact they may not, probably won't be able to, find Elisabeth alive is forced from her mind.

"No, nothing with names. He was staring out the window and then he was looking at the television. And the other guy, he was unloading guns. I didn't see Danko." Peyton shivers at the name, the man who she has never met who has started to join Bill and the Irishman in her nightmares. "David, um, that William Dean guy called him Davey. He was a marine. Younger guy, not like Danko and Dean. He was with the Irish guy who … who was the one who told me what to say in the video tape. They were unloading guns. Like, big guns. Automatic ones, like military people have." She begins to shiver. "I hope that helps. I … I need to go." She's about to come unglued, and does not want to do it here. "I'll call you if I see anything else." She heads back to the elevator, trying to hold herself together, before disappearing from the building.

"Take care, Peyton," Cat offers to the fleeing woman. It's all she really has time to say before the elevator doors which take her back down are closing. She watches for a few beats, then turns to the interior of the penthouse where Peter went.

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