The Rift, Part II


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Scene Title The Rift, Part II
Synopsis Peter and his long-lost son discuss the space-time continuum.
Date January 15, 2021

There's two cooks in an otherwise sparse kitchen quietly preparing sandwiches and soup as Peter Petrelli intrudes on their space. He offers them a lopsided smile, ambling past on his crutches. Pausing, Peter turns and glances down at the food being prepared, then looks up to one of the cooks. "Have you seen Athan around?" He asks, casually. One cook glances at the other, then motions out the back. Peter nods, and with a gracious smile resumes his progress through the kitchen and out the back door into a stock room with wire rack shelving full of canned goods. Enough to feed a fully-staffed home like this for a month.

Slowly maneuvering between the aisles of shelves, Peter glances up at the ceiling, then catches sight of a back door propped open by a brick. Peter makes his way in that direction, catching the faintest whiff of cigarette smoke as he does. Insinuating the head of one crutch between door and frame, Peter levers it open the rest of the way and finds Athan sitting on the stoop at the side entrance of the manor, smoking. He looks up at Peter, then holds up the mostly empty pack as a peace offering.


Kittyhawk Ranch
Kansas City, Missouri

January 15th
1:54 pm Local Time

"No," Peter says as he steps out of the stock room and onto the steps. "Thanks," he adds a little too belatedly. Athan lowers the pack and leaves it on the steps as Peter makes his way down, carefully lowering himself to sit beside his son. A son that is now old enough to be Peter's father. A silence falls between them, a deep as the gulf of time that once divided their lives. Athan takes a slow drag from his cigarette, then exhales it into the gentle, if frigid, breeze.

"I take it you weren't ever a smoker?" Athan wonders, to which Peter shakes his head.

"My dad was. Mom too, from time to time." Peter says quietly, and his chest tightens just a little thinking about his mother. He frowns, then looks down to where he laid his crutches beside the stairs. Athan nods, rolling his cigarette between his fingers.

"I never knew them," Athan says softly. "Too afraid of… you know, the rift. Between your mother's sight and your father's…" He waves his cigarette around like a magic wand, "fucking everything. It didn't feel safe. I knew enough to stay away, no matter how curious I was."

Peter slouches forward, resting his forearms over his knees. He nods, staring down at the scuffed concrete between his feet. "Ma would've liked you. Would've loved to get to know you."

Athan is surprised by that, regarding Peter with a side eye. "I didn't think you'd talk so fondly of her, given… everything."

"She was complicated." Peter says softly, shaking his head. "But she loved her family, even if…" He can't find a good way to finish that sentence.

"What happened to her?" Athan asks, then clarifies: "Here." But Peter isn't sure. His brows furrow, lips purse, and he looks up with a slow shake of his head.

"Suicide? I… think. It was in the papers after the war. I guess she survived that whole thing, and then just… couldn't take it anymore." Peter shakes his head, then looks over to Athan. "I never knew. Maybe I could've…"

Athan reaches out and puts a hand on his father's shoulder. "We can't blame ourselves for the people we didn't know needed saving." Something about those words feels familiar, but Peter can't quite place it.

"The rift." Peter says with a tightness in his voice, changing the subject as he returns his attention to Athan rather than the steps. "You mentioned it before. Did Hiro tell you anything about…" something rattles around in the back of Peter's mind, "what that is?"

The change of topic has Athan sighing softly, half out of relief and half out of frustration that it's about his least favorite topic. "Yes, and no." Athan says with a smile that all but says, you know how Hiro was. "Hiro warned me that any major interaction that could cause a paradox would cause, what he described, as a rift. But that doesn't make any sense based on what we know about time travel. We've gone back and forward and changed events and nothing happened. Just look at what Lene did. No rift."

Peter looks away from Athan, brows furrowed in thought. "Maybe…" he says softly. But something gnaws at the back of his mind.

"Hiro didn't stick around long to tell me much." Athan continues, taking another slow drag off his cigarette in mid-thought. "But I did ask someone else with similar expertise, later in life." He looks Peter up and down, then tosses the butt of his cigarette in an old coffee can by the door.

"Richard." Peter guesses. Correctly, judging from Athan's nod.

"I asked him, many years later, about the rift. That's where things get hazy." Athan says with a distant look in his eyes. "Not because Richard wasn't clear, but because he was too clear. He seemed to suspect that Hiro was using the term rift to differentiate a point of no return, somewhere that would be a fork in the road, which would change what the future is, and so prevent Hiro from being able to return to any other possible upstream variable." But Athan shrugs. "I'm not so convinced, and I don't rightly know how much of an authority Richard truly was about time travel."

Peter nods, slowly, and then wrings his hands together. "Did you hear about what happened in Detroit?"

The next, jarring change of topic has Athan's brows rising high. He takes a moment, considers his answer, then nods. "The ah, attack, yes?"

"What came after." Peter clarifies. "The aurora. The…" He makes a circle with his fingers. Now Athan sees where this is going, nodding along in sudden understanding.

"Yes, frightening. What was that? The news kept talking about an atmospheric anomaly, Expressive abilities in play." Athan shakes his head. "I've never seen an ability do anything like that."

Peter nods, sympathetic. "Me either." But then, the hairs rise on the back of his neck in memory of something. "Well, no. That's not true…" he murmurs, then flexes his hands open and closed.

"…something happened in New Jersey."

Two Years Earlier

The Epicenter
The Black Forest, New Jersey Pine Barrens Outskirts

August 30th

There is nothing here now. No building, to entity, no life. Flakes of ash drift in the air like snow, falling upward from the ground instead of down from the sky. Everything is a shade of gray. The ground is gray, the trees are dead, stickbare things caked with ash, the sky is a matte sheet of stone cold gray. It feels like another world, or like being underwater. There is no sound. No insects, no birds, no animals. As Peter Petrelli crosses this threshold, there is a tightness that takes hold in the middle of his chest. He reaches out, feeling the flake of ash falling up against his fingertips, and looks around in silent, dread-filled wonder.

"Sibyl," Peter calls into the darkness. There is no answer, only his voice echoing back at him as if he were yelling into a canyon. Peter adjusts the strap of a satchel full of medical supplies over his shoulder, then takes a few more tentative steps forward into the ashen gloom. "Sibyl!" He yells again. But his voice echoes back after far too long, carrying with it a reverse echo twice as quiet. The way the sound boomerangs back makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.

There are shattered remnants of the zoo scattered across the flattened ground, where the dead trees are pressed into ashen soil. They form concentric rings intermittently broken up by sooty debris, around a single point of infinite darkness hovering in the air over a small crater. Peter shakes his head, taking a few gasping breaths. He can hardly wrap his mind around what it is he's seeing. And yet, he can't stop from approaching it, as if drawn like a moth to a porch light. The closer Peter gets to the sphere of darkness, the more he can feel his skin prickling with a familiar sensation of near-death, one that once sat coiled in the center of his chest and whispered to him with Kazimir Volken's voice. It's enough to give him pause. The ashes, that memory.

"Sibyl!" Peter hisses, but there is no response. Not even his own echoing voice now. It is deathly silent here. Taking another step forward, Peter can't even hear the branches snapping under his feet. It is a place of perfect and absolute silence. When he tries to call out to Sibyl again, he cannot even hear his own voice. Peter gasps, reflexively, as if he were choking but is startled to find that he can draw breath. It isn't a vacuum, even if it looks like the depths of some dark corner of space. The sphere, infinite in its darkness, hovers in this silence like a dead sun.

It's only with another step toward the sphere that Peter hears something. Whispers, tickling at the back of his mind.

I know you're there, Peter.

Peter's throat tightens, he turns to look where the voice—Charles Deveaux's voice—originated from, but there's nothing. Exhaling a shuddering breath, Peter looks back to the sphere and advances another step. Peter gasps, the sound swallowed by the sphere. He looks like a fish out of water. More whispers hiss in the back of his mind.

Invisibility. Always thought that that would be a good one to have.

Slowly, Peter steps toward the sphere, squinting as he tries to make out what is being said. It's only when he hears his own voice whispering around him that he backs away.

I don't understand. How is this happening? You're alive. Is this a dream? Am I time traveling? Are you doing this?

Peter's eyes dart from side to side, trying to make sense of what he's seeing, hearing, and feeling. But he can't.

Doesn't really matter what it is, does it? Only that you're here now.

Charles again, and Peter's mind reels. He tries to remember the conversation, the context, but he can't.

Yeah, but I saw you speaking to my mother. You know about the bomb. You know about everything.

Peter's upper lip curls in confusion as he hears himself reference the bomb. To Charles Deveaux. He turns around, looking into the darkness and drifting ashes at his back.

You came here because you needed to. You needed to hear the truth before you could save the world.

Peter turns to look back at the sphere, brows knitting together. He starts to approach it again, mouthing the name: Charles?

I save the world?

Peter continues his approach, faster now. Branches snap soundlessly underfoot. He reaches up for the sphere again, fingers just inches away, and then is yanked backwards off of his feet and through the air. Sound returns like a hammerblow and even the faint atmospheric sounds of an otherwise quiet epicenter of destruction feels deafening after total silence. Peter lands with a crash on his back, snapping brittle branches as he does. In his upended field of vision, Peter sees a single figure looming over him with a glowering expression.

Samson Gray.

"What the fuck are you doing?" Samson says, looking over to the sphere hovering in the distance. "Do you even know what that is?"

Peter slowly sits up, brushing ash and dust off of his clothes. He looks at the sphere, then back to Samson. "Do you?"

"Come on." Samson says, turning away. "We have to find the girl."

Present Day

"Charles Deveaux?" Athan exhales the name, brows raised. "I don't know what to make of any of that…" he says with a slow shake of his head. "And—why were you with Samson Gray?" There's a tension in Athan's voice when he says the name, a barely restrained anger. Peter misses it, lost in the moment.

"I don't know," Peter sighs. "I mean—just—everything. I don't know." He looks down at his hands, then back up to Athan. "But that—the sphere?"

Peter grabs Samson by the arm, squeezing. "Do you know what that is?" He demands, pointing at the sphere.

"What Samson called it…" Peter says with a distant look in his eyes.

Samson looks over at the sphere, narrowing his eyes, then looks at Peter to give his answer.

"A rift."

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