War Torn


claire_icon.gif peter_icon.gif

Scene Title War Torn
Synopsis Cheerleaders are the most insecure creatures on the planet.
Date September 10th, 2008

Condemned Tenement - Boiler Room

Every run-down apartment complex has one. An enormous cavern of a room filled with furnaces, boilers, pipes, conduits, and all other imaginable forms of arcane technology required to keep the inhabitants comfortable and paying rent on time. Unlike most of the abandoned structures in the city, the utilities still seem to be operating here. The furnace is burning, keeping the building at a comfortable temperature. The lights are on. There are carefully tended valves and levers labeled 'GAS'. Locked cages separate the utilities into sections, preventing casual urban explorers from causing too much trouble.

Down in the basement, the droning sound of the furnace fills the boiler room. Here, at this late hour of night, there is no sunlight to filter through the narrow windows up near the ceiling that would normally allow natural light through dirty panes of glass. Only a single yellowed light-bulb hanging from the ceiling sheds flickering illumination on the dusty and grimy machinery of the boiler room.

Swaying slightly, the light casts long and distorted shadows of the metal cages that contain the gas pipes and furnace. A few empty milk crates are stacked up by one wall, spray-paint cans arranged on them as if they are a shelf. Nearby a few old crates once used to hold produce instead are filled with small cans of paint; all different varieties from water-colors, to acrylics to house paint. On the opposite side of the boiler room, the one bare wall has become an unintentional canvas for all of these materials. Judging from the lack of dripping and running, the painting had been done several hours ago. Cut pieces of cardboard spattered with spray paint lie discarded on the floor, used to create some of the sharp edges of the artwork.

Peter had called Claire down here, finding her in the hall and mentally thrusting a request to speak to her before phasing through the floor to the boiler room with Daniel's gift. Here, amidst the machinery he stands waiting for her, bare arms folded. The stuffiness in the air and the heat down by the furnace has required Peter to strip down to his white tanktop, stained with sweat and different shades of paint. His shadow is cast by the light bulb upon his artwork, concealing most of it. He waits for Claire here, patiently.

There was so much to discuss.

Claire descends the stairs to the basement, heading out to the boiler room as requested. Peter never really did have qualms about his ability… abilities, but this? Now that the world knows they exist, he's making no attempts at all to hide anything he can do. It's kind of annoying to watch the Jack of All Trades mimic every trick of every body he's ever come in contact with - or so it seems. The One Trick Pony pushes her brown hair out of her face before entering the room, where she promptly waves her hand in front of her face. "Jesus Christ. Someone could get high in here."

The walls.


Claire stares in awe at the paintings covering the walls, fumes all but forgotten. "You know… Those cans of paint say to keep them away from high heat for a reason, Peter. If something goes haywire with the boiler, all that stuff's going to explode…" Though she's trying to lecture, it just doesn't have the same effect when her voice is full of airy wonder at the work he has done.

The sound of Claire's entrance causes Peter to turn around, a few streaks of red paint running down his face for a moment looks like blood dripping out of his hairline — too red, too bright, too surreal. His brow furrows, the paint running through the crease of his scar. He doesn't say anything at first, just silence as he watches Claire come into the boiler room. Her comment about the paint cans draws his focus to them, then to the furnace. He nods, just once, and then looks back to her. "I'm sorry," From his tone, reluctant as it is, it's clear what Peter's talking about; The meeting. "That's not why I wanted to talk, though." He winces, "Well, it is, but it isn't…" Peter steps out of the direct path of light from the hanging bulb, walking over to Claire, and revealing his handiwork on the wall. Though, that doesn't seem to be his intention at all.

The picture that is revealed is a particularly gruesome one, painted only in three colors; black, white, and red. The image depicts a man on his back, dressed in a business suit and long jacket, with blood pooled out beneath his body. One arm has its sleeve ripped off, revealing bare flesh. This, however, is only where the image begins to become more disconcerting. The form of a woman is hunched over the man's body, painted entirely in jet black with white highlights to show reflection. Her mouth is pulling away a piece of red flesh from the man's arm in grisly detail, smears of red painted around her mouth. The woman's horrible, chalk white eyes peer out blankly towards the viewer. At the bottom of the painting, swirled in the pool of blood beneath the man's body is a number, "8954."

"I went to see Mohinder," Peter looks down to Claire, worried, "I took Sergei with me; the two of us went to go see what he had to say." Peter's eyes wander, falling to stare at the spots of black and white paint on the floor. "I haven't told Sergei what he said to me yet. I… I wanted to tell Cameron, but I haven't seen him." Peter looks back up to Claire, and there's a strange, fearful look in his eyes. "I need you to keep a secret." Peter's brow tenses, "Can you do that?"

Can you stop acting like I'm twelve? Can you stop acting like I can't handle myself? Can't lead? Of course, Claire doesn't voice any of these things. She just fixes her serious expression on Peter and nods. "I'm good at keeping secrets." She peers beyond him, going a little pale at the sight of his latest… work of art. Why isn't it ever mermaids?

Peter's brow tenses, and he moves a hand up to wipe the paint from his brow, smearing it across his forehead and the back of his hand, "Mohinder," He begins, looking to the doorway, worried that someone may be eavesdropping, "He told me about a place, a Primatech Paper facility in the Bronx where dangerous Evolved are imprisoned." There is a look Peter has, the same one he had when he asked Claire to be the one to kill him if things went out of control, a certain look of fear and hopelessness. "He's alive, Claire." Peter looks down to the floor, then back up to the girl again, "They have him — They have Sylar — He's alive."

Claire's face goes whiter than it did from the painting - and that was just from the expression he was giving her. It brought nothing good the last time, and this is no exception. "Oh my God. That's not true." The young adult gapes and flounders for words. "That can't be possible!"

"He wasn't lying, I checked." A scowl slowly falls on Peter's face as his eyes divert to the floor again. "They have him," His hands close into fists. "I told Helena, last night. She came by my room… helped me figure some things out." Peter looks back up to Claire again, "You two are the only ones who know, right now. But that's going to change soon," There's something nervous in Peter's eyes as he makes his next suggestion, "Mohinder wanted me to know, so I could kill him. So I could make things right. I think we should." We, not I, "I think that facility should be our primary goal, we should go after Sylar and rescue whoever else we can. We know they can't hold him forever, and if they've had him for two years…" Peter shakes his head, "I wanted to discuss this with you first, since I can't find Cameron. You are the leader when he isn't around." Peter straightens, looking at Claire intently. "What do we do?"

"You told Helena before you told me?" Call it petty, but it still stings. Claire refrains from seething, however. This definitely qualifies as serious business, so grudges are just going to have to wait. "I agree. Liberating prisoners is our ultimate goal. Dealing with Sylar is secondary. If we have to leave him there, locked up, so be it. If he escapes, however, then he becomes our number one priority."

Peter arches a brow at Claire's first words, then tilts his head to the side, "Are you out of your mind? He already escaped from one of their holding facilities once before, you think that after we break in there and debilitate half of their security force busting people out that he's not going to try and make a break for it?" One hand comes up to cover Peter's forehead as he turns around slightly, then slowly turns to look back at Claire, "Rescuing the other prisoners is secondary to making sure Sylar doesn't make it out of that building alive. Can you imagine what he'd do if he was free? The damage he could cause?" Peter holds his arms out to the side, emphasizing his point.

"Claire, you have to start looking at the bigger picture. I know Cameron has put you in charge, I know he trust you, but the decisions you're making — They aren't smart ones." He tries to ease his tone, dial it back some, "You were willing to go out into that hall when we had an intruder by yourself, it could have been Homeland, they could have tasered you — or worse — and taken you away while we fled." Peter shakes his head, "Sacrifice is only noble if it's a last resort. Even then…" He straightens, lowering his arms down to his sides, "You could have asked Daniel to investigate. I saw him in action, he's stealthy. You could have asked me for help, you know I can stop time." Peter shakes his head, "Instead you wanted to split us up, so - what - you could go out there and prove you're in charge?" Peter narrows his eyes, "Who're you trying to prove anything to, Claire? Noah isn't here."

Wrong thing to say, Peter.

"Says the man who wanted me to blow his brains out because he can't handle one of his many precious abilities." Claire's eyes narrow and her tone grows frosty. "I'm doing the best I can with what I've been given. Did you ever think for a moment that I was willing to step out there and draw attention if it meant keeping everyone safe? For someone who tells me that we need to act as a team, you're pretty quick to whip out one of your shiny powers and play One Man Army. I care about those people too much to let them step into harm's way." She points her finger for emphasis and because she simply has to do something with her hands or she's going to start flailing about. "My concern wasn't tasers. My concern was if they decided to skip the tasers. I can bounce back from anything they throw at me."

There's that flailing she was trying to avoid. Claire throws her hands up in the air with a frustrated yell. "I am tired of being second to everybody else! So my ability isn't something terribly useful or flashy. I can't predict the future. I can't walk through walls, or throw fire from my hands. I can't make it rain just because I'm in a pissy mood. But I. Can't. Die." She stops for a breath, her chest heaving with emotion. "And even that isn't good enough, because Our Saviour Peter is also indestructible, and can do everything anybody else can do. And probably better, because he's Peter."

"You're not even listening!" Peter throws one arm to the side, "This isn't about me, this is about you trying to prove yourself to everyone at a risk! Claire, I had no intention of taking anyone on by myself, but you didn't even consider asking Daniel to scout ahead to find out who was there — or ask me. If I'm your subordinate, you have to consider my abilities too, beyond your own." Peter scowls, "Sure, you could've taken a hail of gunfire and fended off a small army, but at what price?" Then, balling his hands into fists, "All you want to do is prove you're useful, but you've never had to prove that, Claire, not to me! Not to anyone!"

Pacing in a circle, Peter finally stops and motions to the girl with one finger pointed at her, "You're acting like a kid!" He scowls again, more firmly, "Your concern was with trying to show us how tough you are, how big you are, not with the best use of the team as a whole. You're the one who wanted to play One Man Army. What did I suggest after you made that blunder? I suggested we work as a team — I even put myself in the back so you couldn't think I was trying to showboat!" Peter shakes his head, "You think that there's some big gang up on Claire vibe going on, but there isn't!" Peter takes a few steps back, looking at his niece.

"You can die, Claire. We both can. A man named Kaito taught me that while I was in Japan — he said he knew someone with that power, and he told me that if our heads are destroyed, if our brains are blown apart, we're gone. You're not invincible, neither am I. We're able to be killed…" Shaking his head slowly, Peter leans against one of the cages surrounding the machinery. "If you want to keep trying to prove yourself to me, to us…" He looks down at the floor, his words losing their fire, "Maybe you should try proving you're a leader, and not a teenager."

"I'm not a leader." The fury drains from Claire's face. The passion gone from her eyes. "I'm just a cheerleader. I don't want this position. I couldn't save you. I can't save anybody." She turns quickly with the intention of running back toward the stairwell.

"Claire!" That wasn't exactly what Peter had hoped for, "Wait." He reaches out, moving over to the girl to take her by the shoulder and turn her around, "Hey…" Now the pair of them had let out a bit of steam, and Peter too looks more meek than merciless, his expression softening. "Claire… You are a leader, you're one of our leaders." He gives her shoulder a bit of a squeeze, shaking his head slowly as he speaks. "I couldn't save anyone either, but I'm still trying. That's what we have to do." e smiles, trying to pull Claire into a hug, "We have to try."

Claire shoves Peter away when he tries to hug her. There's only so much she can endure. "I'm not. I can't be a leader because I won't risk anybody else. That's why I can't lead. You seem to think you know what's best for everybody, so I'll just be sure that Cameron knows who to talk to the next time he wants to put someone in charge in his stead." She closes her eyes, trembling faintly. "I don't need your backpedaling reassurances. I know where I stand with you." Her eyes open again, glistening with tears. "I'm useless."

"Hey." More forceful this time, Peter looks shaken, "That's not how it is, and you know it." He reaches out, hand hovering by her shoulder, wanting to try to draw her in again, "Don't ever call yourself useless, Claire. Ever. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't even be here right now, I'd have died a long time ago." Peter's brow tenses and his fingers curl closed to his palm, hesitating away from the gesture of affection. But instead, the hand moves up, using one thumb to brush the tears from beneath one of Claire's eyes. "I love you," He says quietly, "You know that, you knew that before we even knew we were related." A faint smile, then, "I need you, here. With us… leader or not." Peter cracks a smile, shaking his head, "I can't do anything alone, least of all without you."

"Somebody would have saved you, Peter," Claire returns. "Coroners remove stuff sticking out of our spines. I know that one first hand." But his affectionate gesture burns. It makes her stomach churn. She wants to reject it, but she also wants to embrace it. Embrace him. The conflict eats away at her. In the end, compassion wins out. "I love you, too, Peter. You knew that a long time ago, too." She shakes her head before turning her gaze away from him entirely. "You did plenty alone for the past couple years. You don't need me."

"Fine," Peter says with a strange tone in his voice, "I don't need you." He sounds as though he truly believes this too, turning his hand to cup Claire's cheek, smiling at the girl, "But I want you here." His head tilts to the side, thumb stroking gentle over her cheek, leaving a faint trail of red paint on her skin. "You're the first person I came to see when I got back to the city, not my mother, not my brother…" He closes his eyes and shakes his head, "You." When Peter's eyes open again, he takes a step in, moving to wrap his arms around Claire and give her the reassuring hug he's been trying to all this time. "You may not think you're important, but I do. You're my motivator, Claire. Without you, without knowing you're on my side?" He leans back a bit, looking down at her, "It's just not the same. Besides," His other hand comes up to brush the tears off of her other cheek, "What would Helena do for clothes without you around?"

Claire returns the hug this time, sagging against and into Peter with one brief sob. "It's not fair," she states when he pulls back to look at her. "It hasn't been the same for a long time now." At his last quip, she fires back without hesitation, "I don't know. She already wants into your pants, so I'm sure she'd just start borrowing yours."

Peter squeezes Claire against himself, cradling the back of her head with one hand as he rests his cheek down on top of her head, "Things change, but we've got each other, right?" Peter smiles for a moment, closing his eyes and just trying to console Claire, trying to be there for her where he hasn't for so long. "We're going — " Her next words cause Peter to choke a bit, swallowing awkwardly as he leans back some and stares down at Claire with one brow raised and the other one lowered, a completely incredulous expression, "A-uh…"

There is a very intent study going on of Peter's face. "Do not tell me the feeling is mutual. You can't start banging my friend. I'll never forgive you. I don't want to hear from Helena about how you are in bed." A shudder runs through Claire, all for show.

"I'm so drained, Peter. Can we talk about this after I've had a nap?" Claire gives Peter her best blue-green puppy dog eyes. "Please?"

Peter just stares at Claire, then gently places a finger on her lips, shaking his head from side to side, "Please," He says in a hushed tone, "Please no more." His lips twist into a crooked smile. "Yeah, Claire. Go get some rest," He starts to let her go with the one arm that was still holding onto her, "Go get some sleep, and we'll talk more about things in the morning." His brows furrow for a moment, "Keep an eye out, though, okay?" She knows what he's talking about, "I don't know what I'd do if I lost you."

Claire flinches just minutely when his finger touches her lips, simply from the unexpected nature of it. "I'll see you in the morning. Feel free to knock on my door when you're ready to talk. Just… make sure the sun's up first, okay?" She offers the man a faint smile before finally heading out.

Cracking as much of a smile as he can manage, Peter nods, "I'm done with late night visits to people," He says with a regretful tone of voice, "I'll make sure it's after noon." A teasing jab, and Peter folds his arms, watching Claire leave. "Goodnight…"

September 10th: They All Go Together

Previously in this storyline…
What Would Daniel Do?

Next in this storyline…
Push and Pull

September 10th: Push and Pull
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