The Sum Of Our Choices


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title The Sum Of Our Choices
Synopsis Samuel Sullivan strikes back at Peyton Whitney where it hurts, Wendy Hunter.
Date February 19, 2010

Second chances are a treasured rarity in life…

Snow falls heavily in the early morning air, the diffuse blue glow of sunlight failing to break through the thick cloudcover overhead is too much of an echo on a nearly fatal past for someone who has lived it all before. While the terrible Great Storm is only just beginning to pick up in the time that Peyton Whitney has been deposited in. The smell of oil and acrylic is less an assault on the senses now that she's gotten used to her new living arrangements, but from where Peyton stands, a hot cup of tea cradled between cold hands, staring out frosted windows to a snow-dusted street, it still doesn't feel right.

When these rare opportunities arise, to make right of what once went wrong, who could pass up the opportunity?

There's few people out on the street at this hour of morning, especially given the cild and the lightly falling snow. With a tendril of steam rising up from her mug of tea and a blanket around her shoulders, Peyton is distanced from the reality of the past, even as the sounds of Wendy Hunter's scuffing bare feet moving out of her bedrook after waking puts it all back into focus. It is both cruel and kind all in one, this time together.

Second chances make us question ourselves, question destiny, question faith. In the end, though, what we do with these chances is not up to any nebulous force…

A knock on the condo's door could change Peyton and Wendy's perceptions on all of this, though.

…but our own sense of right and wrong.

Wendy Hunter's Apartment

February 19, 2010


Jumping from her reverie, a slosh of hot tea spilling over the mug's brim onto her new jeans, Peyton is on her feet instantly. She's been dressed and waiting while Wendy has done her putzing around the apartment, painting and cooking and other such Wendy things. The time has been a gift, and yet one that Peyton hasn't been able to cherish as much as she would otherwise — anxiety of the second part of her task began to creep in, especially after two days had come and gone.

Wendy's impending death is also a heavy burden that weighs down the happiness she can soak up in this little "respite," as Hiro put it. No matter how many giggles or smiles or snorts of laughter, they will never be enough, for they will be the last. At least she knows it this time — she knows to cherish them as the last.

Glancing over her shoulder for Wendy, Peyton moves to the door to peek out the peephole. If it's anyone besides Hiro or Winslow or Rhys, she won't open it, since she has stuck to her rule that no one but Wendy should see her here — not even the housekeeper.

"fucking hell, who's at the door now?" Colorful language as always, Wendy's hair back and high in a ponytail, one of her smocks on over a tanktop and leggings, heavy wool socks on her feet as she plods to catch up with Peyton at the door. 'Who is it!" She nearly yells, elbowing her friend aside so she can peer out the door and look to see who's deigned to knock on her door. "John if that is you I'm going to hang you by your toes!" John her brother. If it was the other John, she's hang him by his wrists and have her way with him instead.

It's neither.

Staring at Peyton through the peephole is a hunchbacked old man with chalk white hair and a gray mustache, a breathing tube is set under his nose and hooked over his ears, connected down to a wheeled oxygen tank he carries on a tiny dolly at his side. Bundled up in a black pea coat dusted with snow and a thick wool scarf at his neck, the old man looks rather harmless, if not a bit cold judging from the red on his cheeks and nose.

"Arnold…" is offered in a hushed breath through the door, "I'm here to speak to the both of you, if'n you ladies don't mind?" There'a a dry swallow that the old man offers, looking down the hall before staring up at the peephole again. "It's about Mister Nakamura. If… you could just let me warm up, I'd appreciate it kindly."

When Peyton sees the old man, she shakes her head, her eyes wide and she steps away from the door. "Great, now they know we're in here," she whispers, since Wendy felt it necessary to shout through the door instead of using the peephole for what it was intended first. "Don't open it," she whispers to Wendy, her brows knitting together as she tries to think.

"Hold on." The whispers are barely above a breath, so that the man on the other side of the door doesn't hear through the wood. The pupils of Peyton's brown eyes stretch, alerting Wendy to the fact the clairvoyant is using her power as Peyton focuses on Winslow. Of course, the trouble is, she doesn't know if the Winslow she wants is time traveling with Hiro's help, or the one that actually lives in this timeline, this February of 2010, not so long before she'll meet him — only to lose him.

When her perspective changes to that of her father's, the snowy street that the man is walking along seems like Wendy's neighborhood. He's probably on his way — with one of the people who want to kill him just outside their door.

"Shit." Peyton's eyes snap back to normal, the pupils shrinking almost instantly as she looks to Wendy, then the door. "He's going to walk into the trap or something. I … I need to intercept him, before he gets here. Can you stall? I … I can climb out the fire escape, try to find him outside…" Peyton goes to grab the new coat, hat and gloves Wendy had sent out for, starting to bundle up as she stares at Wendy with imploring eyes.

"Sure" She whispers, feeling the evo on the other side. "Only one of him on the other side. Get your warm shit on Pey" Wendy's arms quickly dart around her friend, holding her tight in case this is the last time she see's her friend from the future. "Stay fucking safe do you hear me and give me a big kiss when you see me again" She does the same, right on Peyton's cheek, the womans new traveling cloths all ready and laid out. When you have more money than brains god gave a fool, you can get anything delivered. "Give your Smed a kiss too for me, He's a hot piece of ass and I'm jealous"

She raises her voice next. "Just a moment, I'm like, fucking indecent. Lemme grab a robe!" Moving away from the door, just in case. She doesn't know what the guy on the other end has ability wise.

Delayed by Wendy's feint, Arnold shuffles around outside of the apartment's door, lifting up one hand to his mouth as he coughs into his gloved fist. "Thank you kindly, miss Hunter…" Beyond that door and in the apartment, Wendy and Peyton's game of bait and switch involving this mysterious old man is running on a timer. With Winslow just a block or two away, Peyton can feel the sands in that particular hourglass winding down.

Dark eyes tear up as Wendy kisses her cheek, and Peyton throws her arms around her friend to hug her fiercely, managing, she hopes, to disguise a sob as a laugh. "Oh, I see, you went spying on me," she whispers, and she extricates herself, swiftly crossing the room to grab the courier bag and then moving to the door that leads out to the fire escape. She casts an appreciative gaze over her shoulder for her friend, worried. "Tell him I left already, tell him I went… I don't know, tell him Hiro already came for me. Don't let him in the house, and call up the security before you open the door," she whispers, nodding toward the phone as she steps out onto the fire escape, her eyes dilating again to see if she can tell what street Winslow is walking down, which direction he should be in. After a quick glimpse, she begins to move down the ladder toward the sidewalk below, biting her lip in concentration to keep from slipping on the icy metal.

"Totally fucking did Pey. He's a keeper" And with that, she's off, fetching a bathrobe so she's not exactly lying to the old guy with the oxygen tank outside. "Yeah yeah yeah, get your ass going" She closes the window behind her friend quickly and quietly, waiting long enough for hte cold breeze to disperse before moving to the door. Old guy, he can't be that harmful. Locks undo, and she opens the door wide enough for her body to be planted in the way of the old man coming in, Pursing her lips before with a roll of her eye's, steps to the side. Peytons words heard, she's still gonna let the old geezer in to warm up at least. There are kitchen knives nearby. "Come on in. Can't say I'm happy to let a complete stranger in, but… Come on in" There's an attempt made to touch him, graze his arm to get an idea of what he can do.

Smiling affably as the door opens, Arnold goes as far as offering an arm to Wendy as he shuffles in, dragging the wheeled oxygen tank behind himself as he does. When Wendy's hand touches the sleeve of Arnold's jacket, the proximity to the old man affords Wendy identification of his ability, that he has the same bubble and push feeling that Hiro Nakamura did, that he feels like a temporal manipulator.

Arnold's weary eyes scan around the apartment before looking up to Wendy, brows furrowed. "Is miss Whitney here?"

Outside, Peyton Whitney unknowingly answers that question as both of her booted feet touch down in the snow of the alley after dropping off of the fire-escape ladder. A cold and biting wind blows in from the street, stirring up a dust-devil of snowflakes that twirls and tilts around the alley mouth. Yellow flashing lights precede the arrival of a NYCPW plow truck painted bright orange rolling past, kicking up a wall of snow in front of itself.

No screams, no shouts, everything seems to be going as planned for Peyton at the moment. Whatever that plan is.

Peering one way down the alley, then the other way, in order to orientate herself, Peyton begins to jog toward the main street that she thinks will intersect her father's path. The problem with her power is that she can only tell where someone is if they happen to be near a landmark she can recognize, or do her the favor of glancing at a street sign, or better yet, a street sign followed by one of the numbers painted on a building.

The problem with her power is everything looks alike in the snow.

Nonetheless she runs, making it to the main street, peering this way and that, looking for anyone who could be Albert Winslow or Hiro Nakamura. "Albert!" she shouts, hoping that the call will be heard by her father's ears and not several floors up by the elderly man with Wendy.

"You're about twenty minutes too late. Hiro already came for her. Chubby little asian, carries a sword. Quite possibly using it to overcompensate" Wendy looks apologetically at Arnold, closing the door behind him, heading off towards the kitchen. "Have a seat, if you like, I got some coffee. What was your name again and what exactly did you need?" Wendy keeps up the chatter as woolen socks slide across the floor to the kitchen.

There's a narrow of Arnold's eyes as he looks around the apartment at Wendy's lie, but he passes it away with a smile. Where Peyton has gone doesn't matter at all, that she is gone is the most important part of this all. "Actually, ah, miss Hunter… I'd come here to see you. If Mister Nakamura has taken Peyton, and you seem to still recall the events that transpired… it's for the best." There's a smile on the weary old man's lips as he looks around for a place to sit, shuffling a little further from the door with a scuff of his shoes over the floor.

"Miss Hunter," Arnold notes with a wheeze as he looks back to Wendy in the midst of his search for an appropriate place to take a loaf off, "Did miss Whitney tell you anything about when she came from? About… where you fit in to her life?" A sad, solemn look crosses Arold's lips as he asks that question.

Outside, Peyton's shout across the street and into the biting wind and drifting snow garners no response. The scrape of metal from the passing plow truck, the skid and slushy-spin of a car rolling by as it struggles to stay on the wet and slushy road, the howl of the wind — it either has swallowed her cry or any response in return.

Fortunately, the cold is doing one thing for Peyton in her favor: keeping other people off the street. When she spots a man in a button-dowl wool trenchcoat with a fedora on, huddled up and walking in the snow at the other end of the block on her side of the street, Peyton is presented with good odds that it's not a hapless stranger wandering in the cold.

Blissfully unaware that her capricious friend ignored her advice not to let the man into her home, Peyton pushes herself into a run toward the man on the far end of the street. The cold is so bitter that it makes her eyes tear up and her throat ache just from breathing, the irony that she knows that this icy cold is hardly the worst that New York will see, that the worst is yet to come. As she runs, part of her fears being stuck her, having to relive the painful and never-ending winter.

As she gets closer to the trenchcoat-clad man, she calls again, "Albert?" a little uncertainly — a quick glimpse through his eyes would tell her if it is him or not, but she doesn't want to risk the momentary blindness to her own surroundings.

'Well, if you'r ea time traveler, wait, you are" Wendy smiles at him, wriggling her fingers. "You know that he's probably getting her settled back where she belongs and then he's gonna come and deal with me" Wendy points out. Logical! Totally logical. "I didn't talk with pey much other than to figure out where she was from which is like a couple months from now and the one night stand that's turned more into a serious multiple night stand. That's all"

Away from the kitchen with the hot cup of coffee, drinkable at the temperature and put in front of a small wooden chest that embarrassingly enough, holds her drug stash. There's a gesture for him to come sit on the comfortable couch "You still haven't given me your name sir" She's trying to clean up her mouth, not wanting to upset an older generation.

"Oh ah, I'm… I'm sorry," Arnold offers with a sweep of one hand over his gray hair, looking to the couch anxiously as if deciding on how he's going to get off of it once he sits down. Breathing in deeply and then exhaling a weary sigh, Arnold slouches down and wheels his oxygen tank closer as he settles in to a strained sit. Seemingly comfortable once he's down, smiling to the coffee but waving it off without explanation.

"I'm… You can call me Arnold," comes with a gentle tone of voice from the tired old man, "Arnold ah… Arnold…" his eyes wander from side to side, then slowly lift back up to Wendy. "Ah, let's— let's just stick with Arnold for now." After a bout of awkward laughter, Arnold scrubs one hand at the back of his head, then adjusts the hoses for his oxygen tube.

"It's a terrible thing, having to… deliver this news to you, the way I am, but I don't have much choice in the matter. I'm…" the old man makes a grumping noise as he folds his hands in his lap, looking down to them before letting weary eyes fall on Wendy. "I'm sure she had her reasons, but… Miss Hunter, you— you die in just a few short days." The corners of Arnold's mouth dip down into a frown, his eyes speaking apology that his lips cannot. "You're murdered." And Peyton did nothing to prevent it.

As that revelation comes, Peyton herself is calling out to the man she is here for, the man she never knew as her father. But the Albert Winslow that Peyton Whitney finds in 2010 is a far cry from the young man in the 1900s. Weathered and old, hair gone gray and physique thickened out, Albert Winslow looks like he could be Peyton's great grandfather from the creases in his face. He freezes in his tracks as he hears her voice, then spots her bounding through the snow to where he's been walking.

But there's a look on Winslow's face that Peyton cannot mistake: Worry.

"Where's Wendy?" is an all-too-knowing statement by Albert, unsurprised by Peyton's arrival, knowing of Wendy's name, Albert Winslow never forgot what happened in World War I, he never forgot that his little girl he had not yet even conceived had been instrumental in saving his life. For whatever reason, Hiro had allowed him to keep that knowledge, and he carried it all through time with him.

Kept her in photographs, and kept himself at a distance.

To ensure history remained unchanged.

Her brows knit together as he asks after Wendy immediately. "I thought you were coming yesterday, you and Hiro — someone came to the door; he fit the description that you gave me of the time travelers so I climbed out the fire escape to keep you from running into him. If he's here to hurt you —" Peyton says, winded from the run. She's fit, despite her frequent drinking, thanks to many hours at the gym or on her treadmill, but the cutting icy wind and heavy winter boots make running through the snow an arduous task.

"What are we supposed to stop? I thought Hiro would have … would have made you forget…" Her eyes fill with tears as she looks into his face, looking for his guidance. It's easier to look for it in this guise of his, this wise elderly man instead of a man who looked barely older than herself.

And thus, some of the looks that Peyton has leveled on Wendy when she thought Wendy wasn't looking make sense. Hands sink into her robe pockets, hiding the mangled hand from view, taking in what the old man says. She doesn't know whether to laugh at him, shed a tear or ask him to leave. How often does a time traveler do this sort of thing?

"I'm sure she had her reason for not telling me. Like wanting to steal a few days with a friend she's lost, a second chance. I can understand why she didn't. Why are you telling me this Arnold. So that I'll spend my last few weeks upset at my friend? She won't know about it either, at least, the one who belongs to this particular stretch of time and not a few months from now" There's a tightness in her chest that doesn't have anything to do with drugs or a need to smoke a cigarette and everything to do with creeping fear.

"Actually," Arnold offers in a hushed and apologetic tone of voice, "I'm… here to take you with me, to the future. Your future, one where… where you don't have to meet that kind of end. A better future. There's someone waiting there for you who needs your help, would appreciate your help, but it isn't mandatory. He mostly wants to make sure you get to live your life… and that the monster who took you from your friends and family never… never gets his hands on you."

Brows furrowed, Arnold sits forward and rests his hands on his knees. "Miss Whitney's only doing what she thinks is right, because she's been misled. The poor girl's been tricked into thinking the future can't— shouldn't— be changed. That's a lie, miss Hunter, a downright cruel one. Let me help you…" one weathered hand is offered out to Wendy, imploring.

"Let me take you home," Arnold tiredly implores of Wendy, "let me erase all those tears shed at your funeral. Let me… let me do something good, in all this world'a bad."

Shaking his head, Albert wrings his gloved hands together and walks towards Peyton, wrapping her in his arms and drawing her into a tight embrace, his face buried in the hair at the side of her head. For her, it's been only a scant few days, but for Albert Winslow, it's been generations since he's been this close to his daughter, and he knows that there's only going to be so much time left.

"Hiro was never coming for you," Albert says with a slow shake of his head, "sweetheart," a gloved hand brushes Peyton's hair from her face, his eyes staring past her. "After what you did for me, your little Jap friend" he's a little racist it's okay he's old, "said that there might be repercussions, reprisals. He— put you somewhere safe. He came to me, yesterday, and we were going to leave Ontario t'come for you, he said they were going after a girl named Wendy Hunter, trying t'stop her death. I— something happened, and Hiro just disappeared in mis-speech."

Albert leans away from the embrace, a gloved hand still resting on Peyton's cheek. "I hopped on the first plane I could to get down here. I remember Wendy from when you'n her were in the papers. I…" Albert's brows furrow, "I hoped this was the right address…"

Her lips part as if to speak but Peyton makes no sound as she stares at her father, shaking her head in incredulity. She takes a step back, back toward Wendy's building, turning to glance over her shoulder. "I just left her with old guy thinking you were in danger," she whispers, hand coming up to lay her palm on her temple, now scabbed over from that blow to the head, courtesy of Thomas Zarek.

"I don't… I don't understand. If they knew that they were going to come to — he just tricked us because I was here. Why didn't he warn me that why I was here?" she says imploringly, before pulling out her cell phone and staring at it. Would it call Wendy's phone? It's the same phone she had in February, but who knows how technology works in the vortex and time and space?

It's worth a try. She glances back at her father, eyes worried and hurt, and then pushes the button to call Wendy, while breaking into another jog back the way she had come.

A future with Peyton.

A Future with Logan. Logan. God. Would he, did he cry at her funeral? What did he wear to her funeral.

Her parents wouldn't have to bury their youngest.

Wendy looks to the window that Peyton bailed out of, somewhere in the apartment, there's a cellphone ringing and the brunette looks torn.

But she reaches out, closing her hand around Arnolds. "I don't want Pey to hurt" She says. "I don't want Logan to hurt"

"They won't hurt none at all, dear…" Arnold explains in a hushed tone of voice, squeezing Wendy's hand as he reaches out to lay his hand on hers, a smile crossing his face as his brows furrow and lips creep up into a smile. "Everything's going to be alright now. you just trust me." Simple words, easy enough said, but when Arnold's eyes meet Wendy's, everything disappears in a sudden rush of air.

The apartment is silent, save for the soft creak of Wendy's sofa, cushions deforming from the sudden weight removed from them at Arnold's disappearance, with Wendy in tow, off to Never Never Land.

Outside, Winslow's brows furrow as he looks down to the phone in her hand, then takes her free arm by the sleeve and tugs her ahead on the street. "I don't think Hiro knew, I don't think he knew they'd go after Wendy, or why. He was trying to warn me of something when he came back, but whatever was going on, he disappeared too soon. We have to go," there's a tug of Peyton's sleeve again, "show me which apartment it is, we have to stop her from making a terrible mistake.

Peyton would run faster but keeps a moderate pace with Winslow on her arm. The phone connects but doesn't get Wendy. Peyton is about to leave a message but knows that might go to the other her, and so she simply hangs up, shoving the phone back into her coat pocket as she enters the lobby, giving a bright smile to the doorman who knows her well enough that he waves her on. She hurries to the elevator and presses the button, pushing the close-doors button quickly to keep anyone else from joining their lift. "They can't be here to hurt her — she's already… she's going to die in a few days… what can they—"

Oh God. She stares at her father and shakes her head. "I … I can't stop them from saving her — I mean, I didn't… I didn't tell her she'd die, I knew better than that, but I can't…" Her cheeks, pink from the snow, drain of their rosy color as she stares at her father.

The doors ding, and she moves toward Wendy's door, pushing it open to see the empty apartment.
The whole way up, Winslow is deathly silent, his eyes wide when he finds the apartment empty at his daughter's side. There's a huffed chuff of breath, a dry swallow, and Winslow's hand reaches up to his throat, working gloved fingers over sagging flesh before turning his attention down to Peyton. There's a moment of disbelief, where Winslow takes a few hesitant steps forward, fingers trembling and eyes wide, his throat working up and down into a dry swallow before finally turning to Peyton, the gravity of the situation settling in. "She's… " his tired eyes scan the apartment again.

"Oh dear God."

Prospect Park

September 21, 2010


The suddensensation of falling comes over Wendy Hunter like a tidal wave, a brief startle, like the sensation of falling down a flight of steps, only to catch yourself right before you begin to tumble head over heels. Appearing seated on a park bench, staring out at the overgrown grass and fallen autumn leaves under cloudy skies, Wendy and Arnold's arrival in the relative future is a quiet one.

A few pigeons stir from their roosts near the bency, cooing angrily and fluttering a few feet away as an old man and a young woman in her pajamas appear out of the stream of time. Relinquishing his hand from Wendy's, Arnold lifts his brows and offers the brunette a fond smile. "Welcome to the future, my dear… and your new…" Arnold's brows furrow, eyes narrow and he looks askance to the park benches, then to a young woman dressed in black sitting a few benches down, her leather trenchcoat trimmed in fur, eyepatch covering one eye, dark hair in a greasy tangle and a pump-action shotgun laying over her lap, fingers drumming on the barrel.

Something's wrong.

Wheeeeee, she knew a teleporter once. It was a thrill ride rollercoaster and she'd paid him 500 dollars to pop her around so she could feel his ability working. That's just how Wendy was. She did one day pay Cook two hundred dollars to eat a cellphone just so she could knwo what he did.

This is different though, wool socks on feet, leggings, paint splattered smock and ratty grey jersey bathrobe, she's looking up at the sky as if it might not be blue but might be green or even yellow. There's a bark of laughter, a whoop from the brunette that dies at the sight of the eyepatched woman with the shotgun. Immediately, seriousness falls into place and she's matching eye's with the female modern cyclops. "Was this planned?"

"We're still in play," the eyepatch laden young womann otes as she stands, racking her shotgun to chamber a round, looking over her shoulder. "The boss is gone, him an' that snaky woman took off with…" one of the brunette's brows raise, "you," is intoned with curiosity, "about five minutes ago. Who's the broad?"

"Her name is Wendy Hunter," Arnold murmurs as he releases Wendy's hand and pushes himself up slowly from the bench with a shaky arm, "and you will mind your manners in my presence miss St.Croix." In retort, she narrows her one good eye at Arnold, then looks down to Wendy with an assessing stare. It's only in Kira's lack of recognition as to who Wendy is that Arnold realizes what went wrong.

By the time the old man's eyes grow wide, however, it's too late to backpedal away from the situation. From Wendy's perspective, Arnold quickly grabs his air tank by the dolly's handle, then thrusts his hand out to Wendy with wide eyes. "Q— quickly, take my hand."
*Slap and Thud**

Wendy's hand closes over Arnolds easily when her instructs her to, closing her eyes tight and turning her face away, just in case.

Wendy Hunter's Apartment

February 19, 2010


Taking a step backwards, Winslow covers his mouth with one hand, looking to Peyton with an expression of horror. "We… we failed," is breathily exhaled from Winslow's wrinkled lips, his sagging and time-worn face running pale.

"Sweetheart," Winslow breathily states, shaking his head slowly as he looks to Peyton, his eyes wide. "I'm— I'm so sorry I…" But what happens now? A flash? A bang? Is this how the world ends, at the tail end of a weary old man's sentence?

Not if Hiro Nakamura has anything to say about it.

And he clears his throat. Politely. The kind of sound one makes to gain attention. Stepping into their periphery, Hiro Nakamura is a darkly clad figure of the short and round variety, a pasty quality to his skin and an alertness in his eyes the denies that they aren't all standing in the silent eye of a storm, and that storm is time-space itself. His immense relief that he even got here can probably be seen in the paranoid tension of his shoulders.

He blinks his eyes, and glances at his wrist watch. It ticks. "I am sorry to interrupt," he says. He's not. "But we have to go. Now."

"Where — if he's — if he's keeping her from dying in a few days — what happens?" Peyton stammers, unsure if she'll suddenly have new memories all of a sudden in her mind, because if Wendy doesn't die then how is any of the last few days possible? Her brows furrow with the complexities of the paradox she knows she'll never understand, as she leans against the door only to see Hiro stepping out of seemingly nowhere.

Her eyes widen as she sees Hiro, and she shakes her head at him, her lower lip trembling. "I didn't know, I thought … I thought he was coming to hurt Albert, I didn't think you'd bring me here if Wendy was the one in danger…" she begins her litany of excuses that are really apologies for the ways she's continuing to fail.

"I do not believe Hiro knew which of us was in danger," Winslow explains as he lifts up a hand to lay on Peyton's shoulder, squeezing firmly as he squares his attention on her. "But I believe Hiro was trying to warn me of this before someone else intervened. As for the consequences…" the old, taciturn man's lips downturn into a frown, bushy brows furrow and Winslow offers his other hand out to Hiro, as if in offering or perhaps acceptance.

"You've given me all these years to remember my little girl, and I know now it is time for me to repay my debt." Winslow's dark eyes sweep from Hiro to Payton. "Whatever is about to happen, just… remember that I love you. I…" Winslow's throat tightns as he clears it, looking down to the floor, "I don't want you to have not heard it again from me, just in case."

Mention of Wendy being in danger gets an odd kind of stare from Hiro to Peyton, reluctant to speak despite his prior urgency and allowing words to fill the room before he's taking some steps forward. His shoulders lift beneath lines of black in a taken breath, before he says, "There are decisions— " And he stops, a flinty glance to Peyton, then back to Winslow. Starts again. "I'm going to take us forward into the future, where we will find Wendy Hunter, so that we can bring her back into the past and prevent time becoming undone."

It's to Peyton that he says, again, "I'm sorry," and probably means it this time. But destiny strengthens his back bone, for all that the rest of his body seems to hang off it like meat, exhausted. Maybe sick.

You've given me all these years. Repay my debt. The words are too close to the night that Winslow died. Peyton's breath catches in her throat and she throws an injured look his way — one he will misread, since he hasn't lived through that night yet. She brings a hand to her eyes, wiping them, before turning at Hiro's words.

She swallows, hard, trying to push back the painful lump in her throat and the stinging tears in her eyes. Her lips tremble as she parts them to speak, and it's probably a surprise to both men in the room when she nods.

"I understand," she whispers, and the tears push past that dam, streaming down her pale cheeks. She does — she can't know what allowing Wendy to live might undo in the future, but she knows it's too far gone, too far in the past, that too many butterflies would be stepped on if her friend lived.

She reaches for Hiro's hand and also her father's, to make a triangle. Her heart is breaking. Again.

The worst has yet to come, too.

Prospect Park

September 21, 2010


Nothing happens.

Arnold's expression is one of grim disconertment, his tired old eyes angled up to Wendy, then over to Kira. A trickle of blood begins to leak from Arnold's nose, a faint keening sound at the back of his throat as his legs go weak and he buckles down to one knee. The sight of Arnold falling away from Wendy brings Kira to motion like the crack of a whip, that shotgun braced to her shoulder, one good eye staring down the barrel to— Wendy Hunter.

Kira is admittedly not on the same page as everyone else.

"What'd you do t'him!?" Kira shouts as she takes a few booted strides across the cobblestone walkway past the benches, closing in on Wendy. "Stop it, whatever you're doin'!" Her Midwestern accent grows stronger as she flusters, and Kira St.Croix is wholly unaware that Wendy Hunter didn't do anything to Arnold.

They didn't jump anywhere. They're still there and the woman who knows him is pissed. "Shit! Point that fucking thing elsewhere, I didn't do anything to him. He just asked me to take his hand so he could bring me here so I don't die some fucking awful death. Fuck" Wendy starts to shimmy out of her bathrobe, scowling at the shotgun wielding one eye's woman. "Christ, think you'd keep track of your time travelers better"

The sleeve of the jersey robe is wielded so that she can wipe gently at the guys nose, maneuvering around the oxygen cannula's. "It's okay Arnold. Just rest. I don't think she'll shoot us. You wouldn't bring me here just to get me killed by her" She offers a goofy, albeit scared smile to the old man.

There is no sound effect when Hiro and his two passengers appear. A silky slide into reality, faint cognitive dissonance if no true nausea or physical rejection of bandying through time and space. They appear, three for three, and one of them has a gun. Unfortunately, it's on team villain's side.

Peyton is forcibly shoved against Winslow in an effort for cover, Hiro's eyes going all white around black irises. There is only the briefest of hiccups in time — the sword seems to have sprung out of its sheath and found its hilt in the Japanese man's first in the blink of an eye, but judging by the way his mouth pulls, it is probable that he had intended to give himself more time than that.

He vanishes, reappearing some ten feet away from the pair he brought with him.

Stumbling, Peyton falls against Winslow and then sees why she's been shoved, ducking behind whatever cover she can find while she reaches into the bag on her shoulder, still caked here and there with mud from a distant continent and an even more distant time, fingers curling around the gun and pulling it out — she lifts it but Hiro is in the way; she can't shoot without risking him, or possibly even Wendy, thanks to her trembling hands. And while Wendy may be fated to die, Peyton isn't going to be the one to kill her. Even if it feels like she's doing so just by being here with Hiro.

Gunfire explodes from Kira's pump-action shotgun the moment that Hiro disappears, a split-second too late as her buckshot tears up the grass where he'd been standing. "Nakamura!" Kira hisses like a curse, turning towards where the pony-tailed swordsman is, pumping the shotgun and ejecting a smoking red shell as she runs towards the bench that Wendy and Arnold arrived on, bounding up and over it as she fires again in mid-air to where Hiro had disappeared to.

It's the forests of Germany all fucking over again as Hiro disappears, only to reappear in the air behind Kira. His sword swings down, she wheels about and lands on her back, parrying his downwards-cutting blade with the barrel of her shotgun.

While Hiro and Kira fight, Arnold exhales a ragged breath, reaching up to cover his mouth and nose with one hand, trying to get to his feet, shambling away from where Winslow and Peyton appeared. "P-please, please don't hurt me…" the old man pleads, one hand raised, his oxygen tank clunking as it falls to the side, air hose disconnecting.

"I'll handle the old man," Winslow states as he tugs off his gloves, the sudden temperature change to a balmy sixty degrees causing sweat to bead on his brows. What sort of chain reaction may happen when a man who controls the flow of age confronts a man who controls the flow of time is uncertain. "Peyton— get Wendy to safety." He knows enough to know she doesn't die here.

Hiro has the rest of the plan, if he can get one rabid assassin off of him long enough to relay it.

"You won't handle the old man" Wendy snaps off at Winslow, hefting up the disconnected oxygen tank, holding it up by the near neck of the bottle much like a baseball bat, interposing herself between Arnold and Peyton/Winslow. Cyclops will take care of the chubby asian, she's sure of it. 'I don't know who you are, but you are going to leave the old man alone or I will fucking spread your brains across the fucking park with this oxygen tank do you understand me" She even waggles it, heavy as it might be, ready to swing.

"I am not gonna die"

Except that that's part of Hiro's plan. Wendy. But Hiro is preoccupied with Phase One of his plan, which happens to be not dying and correlates nicely with attacking Kira St.Croix, and when someone with a sword gets tunnel vision—

A concussive sounding boom from a shotgun follows a yowl of pain from the samurai, although in blurry periphery of fierce fighting, it doesn't seem to be anything enough to down Hiro as he simply blips out of that patch of space, reappearing at a different angle. Face beaded with sweat and teeth showing, he spares a glance to where buckshot's torn his sleeve to shreds, giving faint suggestion to the mess beneath it.

He disappears again just as the park bench behind him explodes into splinters under the assault of Kira's shotgun, close enough to arc a savage swing of his sword towards her head. It slices only dark strands of hair as she deftly ducks.

"Wendy!" Peyton gasps, and hurries to put herself in between her friend and her father. "Wendy, he's my father — don't hurt him, please!" Her dark eyes are wide and full of tears, glancing over her shoulder at Kira and Hiro, brows furrowing with worry — if Hiro is killed what does it mean for any of them? She isn't sure just when she is, after all.

"Listen, Wendy, these people — I don't know what they told you, but they lie. They lie, and I don't know what they're trying to change, but —" But what can she say? That Wendy has to die? That Wendy's a sacrificial lamb so that the future she's not a part of can continue to exist? There are no words.

"Listen, we'll talk about it. I didn't tell you because I didn't think it could be changed, and I didn't want to upset you, and because I thought the past isn't supposed to be fluid," Peyton tries to explain, her voice hoarse as she whispers across the distance between them. "But … but maybe Hiro can make an exception…"

In her heart, she knows he can't. In her heart, she knows he won't — but maybe she can get her to come with them, to listen to them, and then Wendy can fall into the bliss of ignorance.

Lifting his gloved hands up in sign that he means no harm, Albert Winslow is aware of just how ironic that sentiment may look. Brow furrowed and head tilted down, he stares past Wendy to Arnold, watching the old man wiping away bloow from beneath his nose. "She's telling the truth," is the gruff response that Winslow offers, his hands raised and thick brows lifted in apology as his attention diverts from Arnold to Wendy. "You can't do this… you can't let them mislead you. These are the same people that tried to murder me… to murder my daughter before she was even born."

While Winslow is trying to plead his case, Kira is realizing that this has been an ambush. A snarl spreads across her lips as she wheels around, throwing her weight to the side and leaping over the park bench as Hiro swings again, his sword splitting through the bands of wood making up the bench's back with a shattering force. When Kira lands, a slap of leather from her trenchcoat against her back and legs, there's a noisy cha-chak of her pump-action shotgun, raised up again to Hiro.

The split second before she fires, Kira spins around and drops down into a crouch, firing behind herself and not towards Hiro at all but instead blasting Winslow in the back with the buckshot, sending him flying off of his feet and sprawling down to the asphalt, blood blossoming up from his shoulder, but not nearly enough of where his clothing is shredded than there should be.

Kira's jaws clench, her snarl growing, and the glimmer of a blade out of the corner of her eyes has her leaning backwards as Hiro's sword sweeps down past the front of her face, shaving off a slice from her jacket in its downwards arc before nicking the asphalt in the follow-through. Kira brings the rifle up towards Hiro as the swordsman vanishes again, the half-blind assassin trying to find his position as she notices Arnold now hobbling away from the gunfight.

"Oh, they lie? Not good enough Peyton. Not fucking good enough!" She rages at her friend. "There's not gonna be any talking. You know what they're changing? They're changing my death. Giving me a second chance to not be some bastards blood bath" She glares daggers at Peyton and Winslow, anger hurt and pain on her face, letting Kira handle herself and starting to back up to keep pace with arnold, guarding him in her pyjama's and hair in black tangles. "You just came back and you didn't tell me, just danced around the truth even though you knew that I wouldn't remember anything when it was all over."

"I don't want to die, I refuse to go back and be some slaughtered little fucking lamb served up with mint jelly to some psycho killer." She presumes it's some psycho killer, killers generally are. "I'm not going to die. I'm going to stay here, wherever here is, alive and there's not a single fucking thing you can do about it Pey, you or your dad. Do you hear me?"

"Leave the old guy alone, take your dad and the chubby Asian and get the fuck out of here. I've hurt enough this last year. You and Logan, you both hurt after I died don't tell me you didn't. So I'm going to stay here, with the old guy and his friend, time traveling Asians be damned and you, you just walk the fuck away, do you understand me? Walk away" Though it's hardly walking Window will be doing, Wendy tightens the grip on the oxygen canister tighter as Kiro levels a weapon on Winslow and fires it at him. That will distract Peyton, dead farther. She's trying to keep pace with the older time traveler.

The whisper of movement just to Kira's left is all the indication she gets that the ambush is closing in. Her power triggers, moving her body for her before she can intellectually comprehend, but this time, it's not enough, some line crossed around when buck shot shredded into Winslow's back.

The rush of air is all that she receives when Hiro abruptly vanishes from the setting, a brief flicker in and out before he winks out of existence. Not anywhere within sight, either, simply gone completely. The one-eyed assassin's own twisting momentum nearly tumbles her when she's alone, frantically casting her eye to see where he's next reappearing. When she registers the shape of a man in her periphery, she works on automatic, swinging around with a fist which wrist gets caught in Samuel Sullivan's wethered hand.

The clairvoyant's face is stricken by the venom in Wendy's gaze and words before her head whirls to take in Winslow being shot. "No!" she sobs out — she's not sure if this is the right Winslow for this time, or if he's been pulled from the past. She doesn't know that he's lived all these years since he last saw her in 1915, that if he dies, she's already been born, that she can survive his death. Seeing him fall to the buckshot blast is, in some ways, like watching her own life hanging in the balance.

After a few steps toward her father's fallen form, Peyton stops suddenly as she sobs, and remembers she is in danger in a much more direct sense. The young woman raises the gun still in her hand to fire at Kira — even as Samuel Sullivan appears next to the one-eyed woman.

The moment in which Kira St.Croix sees Samuel Sullivan's face is only an instant, but it feels like an eternity. Her one eye opens wide, lips part as color flushes to her cheeks. There's something to be said, forming on the young woman's lips at the sight of her savior, but something in Samuel's stoic appearance seems wrong.

"Samuel? How— " Arnold's wheezing words are cut off by the sound of Peyton's gun firing. Firing towards an empty space where Samuel and Kira once stood. There's astonishment on Arnold's face, eyes wide as he considers Samuel's position and his disappearance, gray brows twitching and words stolen as the terrakinetic reappears several feet away standing on the soft earth and in the untended grass, Kira still held protectively in his arms.

Groaning loudly where he lays on his stomach, Winslow begins to push himself up off of the asphalt walkway with one hand, arm shaking from the pain lancing through his side. Warm blood flows down his arm beneath the sleeve of his winter jacket, fedora lost to the ground from his tumble. Beneath his jacket, the dark fabric of something other than the layers of clothing the buckshot tore through is only partly visible. That Winslow can rise to take one knee is because that dark fabric is a bullet-proof vest.

You don't live as long as Albert Winslow has and through as many wars, without learning how to take precautions.

"I'm fine," is Winslow's hissed sentiment to Peyton, his arm inside of his jacket towards his wounded side. "When Winslow's eyes track up to Arnold, there's a furrow of the old man's brows, as everything suddenly feels like so much of a standoff.

There's a new person into the mix and… is he a time traveler too? Evolved, she knows that at least. How many time travelers can there be. Wendy falls into place beside Arnold, lowering the oxygen canister, digging around for the detached end of whatever might be hanging off Arnold so she can try and attach them both and get Arnold's oxygen going again.

Tearful brown eyes meet Winslow's, relief painting itself across Peyton's features, but irony of all ironies, there is no time to spend on maudlin moments, and she gives a quick nod, turning toward Wendy and heading toward her but training her gun on the Kira and Samuel when they reappear, keeping her eyes on them.

"Wendy, get away from him, okay? They lie — even if I didn't tell you the truth, I've never lied to you, Wendy, and you don't know — he might grab you and bring you to some horrible time you wouldn't want to be. I love you and I want you to live, I swear I do, but these people — they're not doing good things," she murmurs, her voice tremulous.

"Did you ever meet Kain? He's a friend of Logan's, and a friend of mine. I don't know if you ever met him, but I had to keep them from killing his grandfather. Kain would have never even existed. So they might save you, but what if — what if Kain saves Logan's life in my future? What if Kain didn't exist? Then Logan might die because of these people. I don't know what they're trying to undo, but it's not their right to play God, is it? It's wrong and horrible and disgusting that you die, I know it is, but this … they're lying to you. They'll make you do something horrible in order to pay for saving you."

Tears stream down her face and she suddenly squeezes the gun that's aimed in Kira's and Samuel's direction.

The dark figures of Samuel and Kira are already on the move as the bullet zwizzes by them, just missing, his hand gripping her elbow as they wing around a tree within the park. The carnival ringleader pushes her back against the rough trunk before she's getting out a bazooka or something, his hands tght on her shoulders." We've not got long. I'm sendin' you home. Surrender the battle in the name of the war, aye?" His head ducks enough to whisper something in her ear, the last syllable of which is lost to anyone as Kira vanishes from the circle of his hold to— god knows where.

A glance cast towards the spot where Hiro disappeared last, Samuel is hurriedly disappearing in the event of bullets being gunned his way, reappearing just behind Wendy. His hand goes out and grips her hair, pulling her back and against his chest — and it's a long, thin knife that dimples her skin with its skinny point. "Point that pistol somewhere else, or I'll send ya back to the time of the dinosaurs, so help me.

"Arnold. Take my arm."

Breathing in deeply, not just because he's short of breath but because Arnold is horrified and confused, the old man watches Samuel with marked uncertainty and disbelief. Slowly pushing himself to a shaky standing point, Arnold looks down to the hose reconnected to his oxygen tank, then to the young woman who defended his life being held at knife point by Samuel Sullivan. There's something in the back of the tired old man's mind, a memory, a recollection.

The last thing that Joseph Sullivan asked him to do.

Looking down to weary and wrinkled hands, Arnold's jaw trembles and his eyes fall shut. There's a slide of his tongue over his lips as he crouches down slowly to grab the handle on his oxygen tank, arm shaking as he has to carry its weight without the aid of a dolly now. Ambling over to Samuel's side, Arnold lays his hand down on Samuel's arm, looking at Wendy with brows raised in apology, guilt, and evident sadness.

Right up until someone shoots him.

The sound of a gunshot is perfectly clear, but it didn't come from Peyton at all. Having jerked his hand out from beneath his coat, Albert Winslow holds a revolver outstretched in one hand, smoke issuing from the barrel and brows furrowed, jaw clenched. Arnold takes the hit and falls backwards, his fingers dragging Samuel back as his feet give out beneath himself, knees buckling and eyes wide in plea as blood wells up beneath his sweater between where shoulder meets pectoral. A wordless cry for help and a total shattering of his concentration on space and time as he clings to Samuel for dear life..

The knife slices a thin line of red from where it had rested at the base of her throat, up to the swoop of her jaw, all in such a brief second that Wendy won't even feel it, not right away. It cuts shallow, undeadly, a compulsive twitch of Samuel's knife hand as Arnold's weight tugs him back. With a snarl, Samuel grips onto the old man's jacket, unrelenting of his grip on the knife as well as both of them tumble to the ground, but before they can properly hit—

They're gone. No poof of smoke, no fireworks, no clap of thunder.

Fwip. That's the sound of Hiro's sword arcing through the air, and then the sound of it hitting the terrain where Kira had been fighting him just a second ago. He freezes, bewildered, staring at his sword, coming to terms to the fact he'd just been sent to the future — by about a minute and a half.

"He won't die. Logan's too resourceful to die, my living has nothing to do with him dying and if people don't have the right to play god then you don't have that right either! It's my life, and I chose to li-" Samuel's there, the wrench on her hair making her stumble back, pressed to his chest and the his ability flaring up within her own evolved senses. Her hands fly up to grip Samuel's wrists with her own hands, holding tight, trying not to put pressure on the blade.

Arnold does instead as Peyton fires the gun and hit him, a warning scream from the brunette that's cut off with the fear that the knife is going to slit her throat and she'll end up dying there.

And then the weight is gone, the knife is gone and Wendy is still left standing in woolen socks, robe, smock and legging, staring wide. "You shot him. You shot an old man!" Rage replacing surprise and fear.

"Hiro," Peyton gasps when he reappears, then steps back from Wendy and that rage and anger on her face. Her own countenance crumples with pain and confusion before she turns away. She brings her hands up, one still holding the gun, to weep into them. She knows these are the last moments she has in her lifetime's confused chronology with both Wendy and Winslow — and they're full of agony. Even if Wendy won't remember these moments, once Hiro brings her back to her past, once he has her memory wiped — Peyton will.

Her shoulders shake and she begins to do what Wendy told her to do a few moments ago — just walk away.

Winslow's eyes turn to Peyton as her hands cover her face, one hand reaching out for her, but he hesitates, fingers curling against his palm as he focuses on his assignment. Struggling up to his feet, Winslow walks with a limp over to where Wendy is shouting, stopping halfway there when it's evident there's not enough blood, not enough injury for it to be serious. Swallowing noisily, standing between Wendy and Peyton, Albert Winslow looks back to his little girl with brows lifted and lips downturned to a frown.

Every single time he enters her life, all he brings her is sadness. His dark eyes turn to Hiro, finally, his hand laden with the gun lowering slowly as a shaky breath is exhaled. "We— we ned to tae her back…" is the most terrible thing Albert Winslow has ever had to say in his entire life. A life he has selfishly lived off of the lives of others, just to fulfill this assignment here, this mission for Hiro Nakamura, for his little girl.

Right now, it hits Albert Winslow, just how many lives his own life has taken and ruined.

Two letters, a word that most kids learn first and exasperate their parents. Wendy turns, taking off, taking off away from Windlows with wool socks softening any thud as the dark haired woman with her long legs. "I'm not going back to die, fuck off" More words tossed over her shoulder, tangling with her hair as the wind plays with it.

Hiro's sword is sheathed by the time he's looking back towards the three, uncertainty in the set of his posture, until his shoulders sag with a sigh, a somewhat cartoonish tilt to his head that is more instinctively ingrained in his soul than using a katana will ever truly be. Then, he steps forward, just as Wendy is shouting her defiance into the air, as her feet hit the ground. The situation tears into two pieces, and it's strange, how dire that particular tear in space seems by the running feet of a young woman, even in comparison to the actions of Samuel Sullivan within the timeline.

Watching her run, he steals a glance to where Winslow and Peyton stand. It is probable that he can jackhammer everything into roughly the right shape, leave it bruised and numb and intact, but he waits, just for a moment. Truly, Wendy isn't going anywhere.

The clairvoyant slides the gun in her hand back into her bag, turning to look over her shoulder with those haunted eyes at the words of her friend. She can't be the one to get Wendy home — Hiro has to do that, and Hiro has the powers to do so. She does not.

"When are we — can I go home or is there another of me walking around somewhere?" she murmurs, her voice low and flat in affect. Realizing if she is in the present where she should be, it means that Winslow can't be, and her eyes move to his. Her brows furrow at the pain in his face, and she moves forward to take his hand.

"It's not your fault," she whispers. Her power is clairvoyance, not telepathy, but it doesn't take a mindreader to see he blames himself. "I screwed up — both times, I messed everything up." Her

There's a look to Wendy, then a look to Peyton as Winslow's lips downturn into a frown. Moving to clear the distance between himself and his daughter, Winslow wraps both arms around the dark-haired young woman, lifting up a hand to the back of her head and holding her close, breathing a warm breath into her hair. "I love you. But you need to learn to stop blaming yourself… for all the terrible things that happen in the world, that are out of your control." Albert's eyes have a haunted look to them, staring out over Peyton's shoulder to Hiro.

"It's a Winslow family trait," he explains as a warm breath into her hair, "we want to change the world for the better, and always wind up blaming ourselves when we fail to do what no one man ever can…" Leaning away slightly, Winslow lifts a weathered hand to Peyton's cheek. "You can try and…" his words fail him, brows furrow and head tilts down, shaking slowly.

"Don't let this be your last memory together with her." If there's something Albert Winslow has heard time and again, it's that he made Peyton's last memory of him a horrible one. There's a look to Hiro, "There's time enough for that. Tell her the truth… Peyton, tell her what will happen to everything if she tries to change things like this."

Albert looks up to Wendy again, then back to Peyton. "She's just afraid."

Hiro is silent and stoic as Albert speaks, his arm squeezing the elbow just beneath his ragged buckshot wound. Even from where Peyton stands, it looks reasonably surface — if painful and bloody. "You will go home," is Hiro's only affirmation that there is no second Peyton somewhere to grapple with — not yet, anyway. Still, that doesn't exactly sound like explicit permission for her to turn tail. He retracts a step, in the direction that Wendy flees. "I am going to take her back."

There's more to say, there, but he hesitates. Revises. It includes them both when he says, to Winslow, "I will return for you." And Hiro blinks away again, for the moment.

What happens next is violent for Wendy. A grip that suddenly wrenches her arm and jostles joint in shoulder socket, before she's yanked back to her own apartment in chillier February.

Her father's words draw a narrowed-eyed gaze from his daughter, and Peyton shakes her head vehemently, her retort on her lips. She is prepared to argue that she had tried to tell Wendy, that Peyton doesn't know what will happen in the future that Wendy's living would undo, aside from months of pain and loss for her friend's and family. She is prepared to ask how to convince someone who isn't in the future to care about it, when all Wendy can see, thanks to Arnold, is a void, a black hole? But it's all moot as suddenly Hiro is visible in the distance, grabbing her friend, before they both blink out of sight.

Peyton sobs, sinking to her knees and covering her face with shaking hands, feeling like she's lost her best friend all over again. And worse, she knows she has to lose her father for a third time when Hiro returns. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry," she sobs into her palms, shoulders hitching as her breath stutters in her lungs.

Hiro's tone of voice and demeanor gets the message across to Winslow, the one that implies that this journey is over and that Hiro himself has suffered for it. Swallowing audibly, Albert enwraps Peyton in his arms, resting his mouth atop her head to kiss softly in her hair. Brows furrow and eyes close, a shaking exhalation of breath coming out as he listens to his little girl cry. "Peyton— " he breathily whispers into her hair, "you— you have to remember that this wasn't your fault. You have fought and suffered and struggled against all odds to protect the lives of the people from your time. It— " Albert's voice hitches in his throat again.

"You've done the right thing, and that is never easy." There's a tremor of Winslow's jaw against Peyton's hair, a short, rough breath exhaled as he embraces her tightly. "I— I had been wanting to save this for… for a better time, but— but I don't think there's much time left." Leaning back, one arm still around Peyton, Winslow reaches down to lift her chin up, tired eyes showing how weary he is.

"When you told me… back— back in the war, that I left you without family." Albert's eyes wander down and away from Peyton, then back up again. "I knew one day I would have you, that I'd have my little girl… the one I'm not ever meant to see, because— because I had to honor my promise to Hiro, to keep my memory and not disrupt history. But you weren't my only daughter."

Cupping Peyton's cheek in one hand, Albert's brows rise. "Right out of the war, I met a young woman named Sophia in France. We— married, we had four sons and three daughters. Most— most of them died in the second war, but— but my son Anthony," Winslow's eyes glass up some with tears, "He made it to the States, set up roots, he made himself a family down south. You… you have blood relatives still out there, Peyton. Family."

A smile creeps up over Albert's face through tears that well up in his eyes and dribble down his cheeks. "They're Winslows. I— haven't kept in touch with them, it— with how I live, it's too hard to. But— but they're out there. I didn't leave you and your mother alone. I love you both so much. Don't— ever forget that."

Her eyes shine with tears as she looks up at her father, trying to breathe, trying to make the most of this moment that might be the last. His words bring mixed emotions to her — that she has family, distant and removed, is little consolation. At his words that he didn't leave her mother and her alone, she simply nods. His grandchildren by another woman aren't likely to mean much to Faye, and it might even hurt her mother to know he was able to raise a family with another woman. It will be something she keeps to herself. She doesn't want to know his grandchildren — what would that even make them to her? She wants to know him.

These few hours — in 1915 and 2010 — are not enough to truly know who Albert Winslow was, but she knows that he loves her. Loved her. She rises, frowning at his injury and gingerly putting her arms around him where she will cause the least amount of pain or further damage.

"I love you, too. I'm sorry I couldn't be more in your life," she whispers into his coat.

"I'm the one who should be apologizing…" Winslow whispers, his head shaking before his brow comes down to touch against Peyton's. "The prices we've all paid; too high. I wish I'd been able to see your mother one last time, but when I look in your eyes… I see her in there, I see the young woman that caught my heart, and who would bring you into my life. The daughter who traveled a hundred years into the past, to save a man she hardly knew… not just so she could be born, but because she loved him." Winslow's eyes fall shut, his hand rests gently against Peyton's cheek.

When presented with a second chance to live our lives…

Nearly a hundred years in the past Albert Winslow had taken a wife and tried to live as a normal person, but he tore himself from that hope of a normal life, from the progeny he had and left them to fend for themselves. For all the pride of being a father he had, they were not his little girl, they were not the daughter who traveled time, who suffered and lost and for what? A few more fleeting moments. "Don't ever… ever think so lightly of yourself, Peyton." A wrinkled thumb brushes beneath her brown eye thorugh her tears. "What father could ever proudly say, that their child did what you did?"

We struggle with the choices we are presented with. Struggle against the machinations of fate and the egos of Gods, to try and write our own course through history.

There's a rush of air displaced as Hiro Nakamura returns, arm in a sling and bandaged, hair neat and tidy and tied back cleanly again, fresh clothing and dark circles under his eyes. A cool breeze blows through the trees, disturbs the grass and takes Albert Winslow's attention away from his daughter, looking askance to the world-weary time-traveler standing before them. "I'm sorry…" Hiro murmurs with dark eyes lowered down to the walkway underfoot. He's sorry for so many things.

Struggle as we might, fight as we try, at the end of the day we are forced to live with the decisions we have made.

Swallowing noisily, Winslow brushes his hand across Peyton's cheek again, then steps away from her. In just a short span of time, Albert Winslow has seen his daughter save his life, then watched her grow up into a young woman, only to have her taken from him again. "I'm ready," is a lie, but one that Winslow knows he has to say. His dark eyes travel back to Peyton without fear, only resignation and remorse. Another minute, another hour, another day — it would never be enough, and he knows as much.

Whether on our first chance, or a second go at saying things unsaid, or doing things undone, we are the sum of our choices made.

Stepping to clear the distance to Winslow, Hiro lays a hand down on the elderly man's shoulder, then turns to look to Peyton as the wind picks up again, pulling leaves from the trees of the park to blow through the air, flights of red and yellow and gold. "I will be back to take you home," implies that Hiro cannot leave her here, not so close to when she left. "You did admirably…" has self-reflected doubt on Hiro's own capacity to be a hero, seeing the look on her face. Do Hiro's means justify the end?

Right or wrong…

"Goodbye, Peyton…" is the last thing Peyton Whitney hears from Albert Winslow, before he disappears in a huff of air, autumn leaves blowing through the space he once occupied, leaving his discarded fedora on the asphalt walkway behind.

Good or bad…

The wind is cold on tear-streaked cheeks. Just like it was when he died.

We are the sum of our choices.

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