Unofficial Business


peter2_icon.gif sabra_icon.gif

Scene Title Unofficial Business
Synopsis Peter confides in Sabra some of the things he's been keeping from her, off the record. Or so he hopes.
Date November 28, 2008

Primatech Research

"No, look, Woods… "

Footsteps and voices have been getting closer to the door for a few minutes now, and neither parts has been entirely capable of lowering their voices or concealing what is being discussed. Given the sparse population of the Company headquarters on this holiday weekend, it's more in the know staff operating the facility than those out of the loop. Perhaps for the better.

"You can't come along. Look, you've got another week, maybe two of medical leave."

Voices right outside the door now, clicking shoes on tile, Agent Petrelli and Agent Woods having yet another disagreement. "Pete, I'm not a bloody invalid, I can at least listen. If you're goin' to talk to the bloody director I want — "

"Woods. This…" Peter's voice is strained, tired and weary with a heaviness to it. "This isn't about business, it's something personal I need to discuss with her. You want to talk shop, go find Grant and Lee."

"If I wanted to play out a fuckin' Civil War reinactment with choppers and stiletto there I would. Look, man, you're worryin' me. You look like — " Woods is cut off as Peter raises his voice, closed hand slamming against the door frame unintentionally. There's an awkward, long silence as the two remain in quiet proximity, followed by Peter's hushed voice.

"Please. It's safer if you're not here right now, Woods." His tone changes, becoming genuine, perhaps a little sentimental. "You've been a damned good partner, and you've taken a lot of crap because of me. Go see Lee and Grant, and I'll be back down soon, okay?"

The silence comes again, followed by a pair of long sighs, one from each of the men having the argument outside of the door. "Fine," he doesn't want to agree, but he does. "You know I got your back, right?" There's a shared laugh from the two, followed by the doorknob to the office turning with a rattling click.

"Yeah, Woods, I know. Now get out of here." Yet Peter can't tell Woods just how far he wants him to get away, for his own good. He just opens that door to reveal his tired, sunken face, and Woods' retreating form moving away down the hall. Dark eyes sweep around the office, and Peter slowly steps inside with an exhausted quality and slow movements. "Miss Dalton?" So formal today, "May I have a moment of your time?" If only he knew Elle got to her first.

Time is a slippery thing. More so on a day when most of the employees are gone home for a much-needed respite, and only the ones too stubborn or foolish to take time off — or who don't have anything else to take off to — remain. It's a good day for catching up on paperwork, with a minimum of interruptions.

Inevitably, that means there are interruptions. And since the options are 'paperwork' or 'visitor', the visitor not only comes out on top but is met with some relief. "Yes, Peter?" Sabra asks from the far side of her desk, motioning him to enter the room. Come in, come in; sit down. "What do you need that's made you so formal?" It's faintly chiding, but only on the surface; curious interest both professional and personal is what truly shapes the question.

Ashton is, of course, promptly on hand with tea for both hostess and guest, should the agent desire a cup.

Peter's seen better days, his last physical before Doctor Knutson disappeared was proof enough of that, but now his physical condition is becoming more evident with each passing day. "I, ah — Sorry I've…" Peter turns to look back over his shoulder before easing the door closed. Something in his other hand rattles loosely, a bottle of pills. "I've had a lot on my mind." Turning his focus over to Ashton, as if he were some sort of gatekeeper on the way to Sabra's desk, Peetr affords him with a modest and reserved smile before motioning silently to one of the cups of tea — it'll make the pills go down easier.

"This isn't official." Peter's furtive glance to Sabra moves quickly to the windows of her office, watching rain patter against the glass, then to the paperwork assorted on her desk, "It

Peter's seen better days, his last physical before Doctor Knutson disappeared was proof enough of that, but now his physical condition is becoming more evident with each passing day. "I, ah — Sorry I've…" Peter turns to look back over his shoulder before easing the door closed. Something in his other hand rattles loosely, a bottle of pills. "I've had a lot on my mind." Turning his focus over to Ashton, as if he were some sort of gatekeeper on the way to Sabra's desk, Peetr affords him with a modest and reserved smile before motioning silently to one of the cups of tea — it'll make the pills go down easier.

"This isn't about my assignment." Peter's furtive glance to Sabra moves quickly to the windows of her office, watching rain patter against the glass, then to the paperwork assorted on her desk, "It's… It's not even really official business, either." He meanders over to the chair across from Sabra's desk, resting one hand on the back and leaning forward, his free hand working the red plastic cap off of the white asprin bottle with a click. "I… wanted to talk to you about my parents." Peter's eyes, sunken and darkened around the edges lift to peer over at Ashton again, then wander the room absently before settling on the unoccupied seat of the chair in front of him. "Among other things."

"I haven't forgotten," Sabra remarks, referring to his telepathic statement at the end of their first meeting. Way back when. She is quiet as Ashton prepares the tea for Peter, making an offer of cream and sugar, and puts together a second cup for the elderly woman. "Thank you," she says to her aide, however unnecessarily; the gratitude is as unnecessary as the directions she didn't give, at this point in their long association. Nonetheless, Ashton smiles and dips his head. This time, he doesn't retreat to the side of the room, but places the tea service on the side table and assumes a seat behind Sabra and to one side, tangentially included. With the details attended to, the elderly woman returns her full attention to Peter. "What would you like to talk about?"

Peter slouches some, looking to the tea as it's prepared while Sabra talks. He straightens and finally circles around the chair, tiredly coming to sit down as he drops four asprin into the palm of his hand. "A while back…" Peter's eyes stay fixed on the teacup that sits on the edge of Sabra's desk across from him. "I went to see Kaito Nakamura." There's no further deliberation there, just plain fact. He gives her the credit of being able to put together the why on her own, and if not, vocalize her curiosity. "I found out about my mother and father's involvement in the founding of the Company."

Languidly, Peter slouches forward, and then leans across the gap between his chair and the desk to pick up the cup of tea. One hand pops the pills into his mouth, and the other brings the steaming cup up to his lips to take a deep sip, allowing the pills to wash down. "My father's gone, I… I can't talk to him about it anymore. But everyone I knew as a kid, a lot of them ended up being tied to the Company — You, Kaito, Bob." Peter's eyes divert towards the desktop, "I don't have any idea how many others, it — Kaito told me I shouldn't have ever joined the Company. I… I don't know what to believe now. I was hoping, maybe…" Dark eyes lift up to Sabra, a bit hopelessly, "Maybe you could give me some insight, tell me what they were trying to do. Why… why some of them don't see eye to eye any more." There's a faint smile, "Off the record."

Sabra is, again, thinking in French — has been ever since the subject of the Company came up. That he went to see Kaito is noted, but the woman doesn't press. What she doesn't know, she can find out if she needs to, and not just from him. "Understand, Peter, that I am not one of the Founders. I was your father's confidant and close friend— " Close enough that she's a prominent figure in the wedding pictures. "— but I was not brought in for some time."

The teacup in her hands is set down on the desk, the liquid within untouched. "To put it simply, Peter… the Founders were gathered by Adam Monroe with a mission to save the world." A pause. "At least, that's what they thought. Monroe's interest, they found, was… otherwise." She pauses, picks up the cup again, but does not drink from it. "Some burned out; they wanted nothing more to do with the world, and retreated to live their own lives. The rest… no two visionaries have the same idea of how to change the world, and they were all… motivated personalities. The clashes, I fear, were inevitable."

"That's as much as Kaito said." Peter's shoulders slouch at the explanation, staring down into his teacup, "When I first found out I was…" His eyes shut, "Special, everyone thought I was out of my mind. I thought I was too, my mother — " He turns his head away, "You knew my mother, you know my mother." Slowly opening his eyes, there's a more troubled look on Peter's face than before. "What was her vision? How did she intend on saving the world? Was…" Closing his eyes, Peter grips his teacup tightly.

"She used Nathan. She used me, and now I'm here, with the same Company she helped found — What I did, she used me for that… I just," Clenching his jaw tightly shut, Peter looks back up to Sabra intently. "I trust you, Sabra. I — Against my better judgement, I do. You've given me an opportunity here, to help people. You could've… should've, locked me up and thrown away the key, but you didn't. Am I doing the right thing?"

Sabra pauses, her thoughts pause, as Peter asks about his mother's vision. Consideration, contemplation. A sense of 'what do I say?' The old lady buys herself a breath's time with a sip of her tea, before levelling her gaze on the young man across from her. "Your mother… I cannot say what she envisioned; there are many, many things she does not share. Angela, I think, plays her cards closer to the vest than anyone…" There's a lot Sabra isn't saying. It's in her voice; it's apparent in the texture of her thoughts, even if their content is still purest French. But it's not Sabra's secret to share, this additional information. And so she moves to the second of Peter's queries.

"It's not my way, Peter. Even if I wouldn't answer to your mother for it," the elderly lady allows, face crinkling in an honest smile. "What you want… The Company isn't just one thing, no matter what Kaito may have said. It's many. Some are better; some are worse. Just like the people who are part of it. What you have, here, is a chance to leave your mark on it. If you're willing to take the long view." She tilts her head. "If not, it's still a chance to learn from others. Their successes. Their mistakes."

In part Sabra's delicate explanations do some good of placating the turmoil in Peter's heart, that much is visible on his face. Unlike his mother, there is no curtain of secrecy he keeps his emotions shrouded behind, they play out on his face in clear view. Her secrecy, the reserved manner in which she avoids certain topics is evidenced in the raised brow Peter arches during her explanation, but compared to his interrogation of his brother and mother, she's being remarkably forthcoming.

"I'm trying to do that — Leave my mark." Peter smiles, perhaps a bit ruefully, "I think that's why I signed on in the first place, I thought I could make a difference here, change things?" One dark brow rises, and Peter's eyes come to settle on Sabra. It's clear he feels there's little more he can squeeze out of her about his parents, and the Adam problem is so far out of his reach now he can't even see it on the horizon.

"I guess… that brings me to the other reason I wanted to talk to you — " He stares down into his tea, " — off the record." The emphasis Peter puts is left silent, he hasn't asked for her confirmation that any of this isn't part of some vast profile that is building against Peter, but there's that trust he spoke of rearing its head. After draining his tea half empty, he's found the words he wants to explain his thoughts.

"I had a dream, not long ago…" Peter wraps both of his hands around his teacup slowly, "The kind of dreams that I've been having since before the bomb, ones I can't prevent, ones that happen." He still seems blindly unawareof his mother's connection to that gift, "When I was in India, talking to Mohinder after Odessa's absence, he let slip about something I had… somewhat already known about." Letting his gaze rise, Peter is hesitant to meet Sabra's, perhaps even fearful to. "That the Company was working with Homeland Security to develop identification tests for the Evolved." Overly trusting, and well informed.

"I didn't think it was so bad, not… not until I saw the future it brings. I saw people, people I know and people I don't, in detention camps in the city. Barbed wire and chain link fence, the kind of thing you… The kind of thing that shouldn't happen. I saw injections people were taking that… I — It stripped them of their powers. I saw all of this hopelessness. Children, little kids, just huddled in bunks and fenced in tent cities…" Those emotions on Peter's face show his distaste. "Sabra, is this the mark I'm going to leave on the Company?" Finally he looks squarely at her, "Letting that happen?"

Sabra's lips thin, her expression less than pleased. Without the luxury of reading her thoughts, it might be a bit difficult to determine the exact target of her displeasure — aside from the detail that it isn't anyone in this room. "After your brother announced the existence of the Evolved, Homeland Security had to develop tests. They didn't have the expertise, so it became part of our agreement with them."

Sabra sips from her tea, glancing across the cup at Peter with an expression that translates as 'what can you do?' She isn't a policy-maker; those are the Founders. "I don't want that future. I don't believe anyone here does. It is a possibility, but…" The older woman smiles again, expression rueful, melancholy. "Where in saving the world could such a thing be found?"

Sabra's reaction and the lack of any vitrolic rebuttal thrown towards Peter seems to ease him some, gives him a little more confidence that perhaps his questioning of the situation isn't entirely hopeless. "Sabra, I… I don't know how a lot of things add up. I've always had a hard time putting the pieces together," More so now than ever, in many ways. "But every time I start to trust the Company, all these reasons start coming up as to why I shouldn't. I just — "

Peter shakes his head and looks back to his teacup. "I thought you should know what I saw. Every time I've had one of these visions, it's come true, without error." He doesn't elaborate on what situations, leaving that unsaid. "If the trend is correct, this isn't just a possible future, it is the future. This — That's where we're all headed." Then, after a moment of peering into his teacup, Peter looks back up to Sabra with anxious eyes. "I was there. I was one of the prisoners at the camp, I wasn't helping people, I…" Peter's eyes wander the desk as he loses Sabra's gaze, "I wanted you to know what I'm thinking. Because, I know I've been… off lately."

"It is not a certain future." She seems quite confident of that. "The most probable. But not certain." Sabra takes another drink of her tea, continuing to watch Peter even though he's since averted his own gaze. "I do appreciate it, Peter," the elderly lady says gently. "There's only so much I can do without that information." There's only so much she can do with it, but that is a little bit more.

"I think I might know a way." Peter stares down into the steaming reflection in his cup, "But — I'm not sure." His voice has a distant quality to it, partially distracted by his own uncertainty. Dismissing the notion entirely, Peter moves the cup away and leans forward to rest it down on Sabra's desk again, he never seems to finish one cup during these meetings.

"I talked to Jessica yesterday." It's an abrupt change of topic, and one that causes Peter's tone of voice to lose some of that softness, "You're really going to have the Haitian wipe Niki clean?" His brown eyes lift up to Sabra, watching her with a wary look, "She — " Peter looks away to Ashton, then back to Sabra, expectantly.

One silver brow arches as Peter speaks, and fails to elaborate. "Don't become a loose cannon, Peter," is Sabra's only remark, an oblique chide. Taking a drink of her tea — she's almost as slow about emptying the cup, today, as her guest — the older woman regards her companion calmly. "She?" Sabra echoes, inviting him to continue. Despite that invitation, she subsequently adds to the single word.

"Jessica is right in one respect — Niki is not an agent. She is here because she sees no alternative. I cannot simply release her with what she knows; she would have to lose that. Despite her fractured personality, she does not fit the criteria for permanent holding; she is capable of living in society without endangering that society."

Sabra pauses for a moment, lips pulling together in a thin smile. "Of all of us," she admits quietly, "I endorse this the least often. But Jessica is Niki. She wants them both to survive, and she knows Niki best. Removing so much will also remove the handicaps that developed in that time. It will give Niki a chance to regain her own balance, especially since we will make sure she has solid ground to stand on." A place to live. A place to work. Both priceless in this time and place.

"Handicaps." Peter echoes the words, it's bitter on his tongue, but it solidifies the idea that Jessica wasn't lying to him. It alleviates his fears that she was playing him for a fool, but at the same time it terrifies him that an ironing out of mental imperfections would be allowed, would be acceptable. He can't help but frown, but he keeps that expression brief, a fleeting expression of uncomfortable disapproval.

"I.. I guess that's everything, Sabra." It didn't turn out quite the way Peter expected it to. Pushing up from his chair, Peter seems eager to move away from the desk, his hand trailing along the back of his seat after he rises. "I'm not sure what I was looking for, explaning all of this, I just…" Peter's lips downturn into a frown again, a bit lopsided. "Maybe I was looking for an answer," he looks up to Sabra, his head slightly skewed to one side. "I… Should get back to work. I'm sorry for taking so much of your time."

Allowed, yes. Not well-regarded from Sabra's perspective… but that's more a personal choice than an ethical principle. It's not her modus operandi, no more and no less. The elderly lady inclines her head as Peter rises. "Or a willing ear? You're more than welcome, Peter," she replies with a smile. "Nonsense. You gave me a reprieve from this wretched paperwork. That's more than worth a bit of time spent listening."

Peter manages a faint smile, "Thanks for listening, you…" He looks down at one of his hands, then back up to Sabra, "You might have actually helped me decide on something." His head motions towards the door, indicating he's done talking Sabra's ear off. "Thanks, really…" Peter gives a faint nod to Ashton and slips over to the door, opening it quietly before hesitating on actually leaving. He turns, looking back over his shoulder to Sabra. Nothing is said, but he watches her for a long time in that quiet, considering something she had said during the first part of their conversation.

She was so close to Peter's father, and that's what had always been bothering him, what he could never put his finger on. The attitude she gives off, so much similar to how Kaito is when Angela comes up; Older, mentoring, the similarities are there. Peter furrows his brow, thoughtfully, and offers her a silent smile.

Which one is the devil on his shoulder, and which one is the angel, in that case? Or is there ever really that clear of a delineation between right and wrong?

Peter would like to think so.

November 27th: Sad Turkey

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…
Live Together, Die Alone

November 28th: Pity Party Pie
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