Wooden Horses


vf_kaylee_icon2.gif bf_peter_icon.gif

Scene Title Wooden Horses
Synopsis Kaylee finds herself face to face with a familiar face and a potential ally.
Date March 20, 2012

Somewhere in Brooklyn

Brooklyn has an urbane charm that grows on its residents. Living in the looming shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge is a part of that quintessential aesthetic, one that Kaylee Thatcher has become accustomed to. In her world, in the world she fled, that bridge was broken at its spine, a sagging ruin brought down by the Vanguard when they isolated the island of Manhattan. Here, those explosions never came to pass. Bombs of a different kind, social and inwardly focused, devastated this world below the surface.

Waiting at the bus stop at the corner of Front Street and York Street, she stands in the bridge's literal shadow, waiting on the roadside under its noisy span. The roar of traffic all around her is nothing compared to the roar of voices from every thinking mind. This city is so much more alive than the Hub ever was, and all that time of isolation and depowerment has meant coming to grips with an ability she'd been deprived of all over again.

The resonant whine of pinging off of another telepath is something she can never get accustomed to.

Though there's dozens of people on the street, Kaylee spots the dark-haired man from just down the street, holding the side of his head and wincing as his own ability bounced off of Kaylee's. When he stands up straight, she sees a man in a charcoal gray suit with a crisp button-down shirt, dark hair combed neatly to the side, brown eyes leveled on her. Of all the people in the entire city, in all the cities in the world. It was somehow him.

It's Peter.

The hand that presses to the side of her head from the contact — it slowly drops away when she realizes it’s him. Blue-eyes squinted in pain, widen a little.

And in that moment, Kaylee can’t breath, can’t think, can’t —

“Oh. My. God,” She whispers softly, getting a look from an old woman sitting not far from her;which is of course ignored by the telepath. Kaylee didn’t look the part of a detective, her worn jeans, biker boots and leather jacket, looks more at home in a bar or on a motorcycle.

Seeing him standing there invokes the memory of a possessed man, being swallowed by the shadow of her own brother. He hadn’t been Peter in that moment, even if it had his face. Her heart skips and chest tightens from that memory; but also there is a small leap of relief to see him standing there. It causes her eyes to prickle with unshed tears.

She knew it was possible… but to see him there —

A breeze caused by a passing truck, blows strands of earthy brown hair across her face. It wakes Kaylee up from her thoughts; blinking a few times; fingers lift to catch at the hair and pull it away from her face and tuck it behind her ear again. Fingertips brush against the scar that marrs one side of her face, and suddenly she feels self-conscious.

He can see her indecision. It was Peter… but not her Peter. Not that her’s had ever really been her’s.

This one was a part of something that her dimension-hopping friend, Liz had made sound just as bad as what they left. So her face turns away slightly, so that she can cast a cautious look around. Her ability sweeps around, avoiding him as much as she can, but the static of his presence is loud. She looks about ready to bolt, but her feet seem stuff in place.

After a moment, Kaylee takes a deep breath. The people at the bus stop start slowly getting up and leaving one by one. Remembering, things they maybe forgot. Leaving the telepath standing by herself, her brow lifts a little and her chin. A challenge to him. Does he approach or not?

Kaylee’s tentativeness is reflected in Peter, though his reasons are far more opaque than hers. He catches her eyes from his place on the sidewalk, rakes fingers back through his hair and looks around, then hesitantly approaches. It isn’t quick, by any means, it’s clear that Peter’s meandering approach has more in common with a nervous animal sniffing out danger than it has with basic curiosity.

As Peter approaches, he raises his brows and looks at Kaylee with a lopsidedly apologetic smile — as though he had any other kind to give — and after a much belated approach finally announces himself. “Hey— hi, ah,” Peter flashes a nervous smile, “sorry about that. Ah,” he taps his head, “never really got the hang of this, and I keep forgetting I need to watch out for people like me.” Peter’s brows raise as he pulls one hand out of the pocket of his peacoat. “Peter,” Petrelli goes without saying, in this city and in this world.

“You’re not going to sue me, right?” Peter appends with an awkward laugh. It sounded funnier in his head.

Whatever her plan was or whatever she planned to say, it all gets tripped up by that question. Did he just ask — ? It was the most mundane of questions and it gets an unexpected reaction from Kaylee. She gives a short laugh of amusement, glancing over at him with a shake of her head. This was not the man she remembered, this one clearly hadn’t dealt with the horrors of her world.

“No, I don’t think so,” Kaylee finally says, “Not worth my time. Especially, not over a common newbie mistake. Plus, a company like yours only employs the best and I am merely a humble bartender.” That last, she presses her hand to her chest, like some tragic figure.

There is a noticeable hesitation at the offered hand and a brief flicker of something like pain or a touch of grief, before she takes the hand. Maybe it is the fact of who it is, but she almost fumbles her name. Almost tells him her true name, it’s on the tip of her tongue.


“Leanne,” the telepath offers. “Edwards,” is added after a moment. Then just as fast, she lets go of his hand, tucking it away in the pocket of her leather jacket.

Giving an exaggerated look around her and then giving a once over of his clothing. “You’re an awfully long ways from the shinin’, glimmerin’ tower of Pinehearst.” She arches a brow, which pulls at the scar, remind her it is there. Her head dips down a bit, causing brown locks to fall to cover it. Why she cared, she didn’t know. “Slummin’ it a lil, Mr Petrelli?” she asks of him mischievously.

“Guilty as charged,” Peter says with a crooked smile, on all accounts. “I used to live right around here, actually. For a while anyway. I like coming down here, seeing things up close, you know?” He side-eyes Kaylee, then looks to the traffic passing by. “You sit up in a place like Pinehearst Tower long enough, you start losing perspective on the world and the people that live in it.”

Turning dark eyes over to Kaylee, Peter raises one brow. “So, Leanne, was it? What's got someone with the natural talent you have tending a bar? You could easily get land a six-figure job at almost any company you want with an ability like telepathy. And if you don't have a degree, there's EvoCo scholarships.” It's almost like he's making a sales pitch. “It isn't so bad here, but we’re both where we are by choice, aren't we?”

The amusement Kaylee shows at his sales pitch is one that just screams: Would you just look at this guy? Her smile is bright, reaching even her eyes. “Unbelievable. Do you practice that in front of the mirror?” She teases mercilessly, with a chuckle; head shaking a little with her disbelieve.

“You are not wrong, though,” Kaylee finally says, a little more seriously. “I choose to be where I am.” She motions to the suit, Head tilting a little as she considers it. “This sort of lifestyle seems boring to me and a bit fake.” There is an apology in her with that. “Long boardroom meetings and big fancy homes. Lot of people acting better than everyone else. A lot of politics and backstabbing.”

She motions to the world around them, “This is real, Mr. Petrelli. The diversity of the people at the lower levels is refreshing. Maybe not as safe and fancy as your castle of glass, but… it’s home.” Or as close as it will ever be, “I’d take this over being trapped in a gilded cage any day.” Maybe not gilded, but she has been there done that before.

A glance goes in the direction of Pinehearst, a brow lifts a little as she considers him. How much of the Peter she knew was in there? Kaylee takes a chance and says in quiet contemplation, “I wonder… if you’re really satisfied with the lifestyle of the rich and famous. To be honest, I am not sure I buy the idea of you just wanting perspective.”

I'm so many ways, this Peter is nothing like the one she knew. The sadness inherent in the Peter from Kaylee’s world is either gone or much deeper below the surface, but in its absence he isn't less, he's just more of the parts of him that were always endearing. His charm, his sensitivity, his empathy. It's like every part of him is heightened in the absence of such visible pain.

“I don't know if anyone ever put it like that to me,” Peter admits, shoulders hunched forward and head down. “I'd actually… really like to talk more about that, I mean— if you're interested.” Flashing a find smile to Kaylee, Peter looks over his shoulder as if looking down the street. “There's this great little cafe…” he looks back, “in London.”

He offers out a hand to Kaylee. “Interested in some tea?”

First there is surprise at the question and the destination he is proposing. Maybe it’s the innocence in that question. In fact, in that moment, she wants to take that hand so very badly. Her hand starts to pull out of her pocket, but then something makes her stop.

Before she can hide it away, there is a flash of heartbreak and pain; that hand tucks back into her jacket and she looks away from him, gaze falling to the ground in front of her, brows furrowing a little. After a hard swallow against the emotions that this version of Peter is invoking, she asks softly, with a rough voice, “That — uh — Does that line always work on the woman you use it on?”

She is refusing to look at him now, feeling guilt over using those words; but she had to be careful. He was suppose to be someone she is supposed to be avoiding; yet, she invited him right over. What was she thinking?


She was thinking that she kinda missed him.

Fingers lift to tuck brown curls behind her ear, clearing her throat. “I’m sorry… that was — well, it was a bit of a low blow,” suddenly needing to soften that blow. Why? “But,” Kaylee points out, “ you are asking someone you just met to flitter off to a foreign country.” There is a smirk and a raised brow.

“I’m not going to lie it usually does,” Peter starts to say with a flash of smile, but then remembering himself the smile fades and he shakes his head. “It’s not like that,” he adds, “I’m engaged, and…” there’s a dismissive gesture in the air made with one hand. “There’s a place in the lower east side if that’s more your speed, and it’s uh…” Peter grimaces, “it’s a little less of an international incident, I suppose.”

“I’m not gonna lie, either, it almost worked,” Kaylee admits with a mirroring smile, though a touch sad.

Engaged. There is a part of her that isn’t surprised by this, the smile fading a little at the edges. Some relief comes with it and she seems to relax just a little. “Engaged, huh? Saved you a bit of scandal then.”

Her hands comes up and moves like she’s reading a title. “Is Peter Petrelli a playboy? Seen in London with another woman. News at 11.” Her hand slips back into the jacket pocket, with a bit of a smirk. “Not to mention, I don’t have a passport.” She looks ready to refuse again, but he’s got her curious.

Why does he want to talk to her? Really?

There is a touch of suspicion; but, she finally sighs, though the smile remains, “Okay, fine. I’ll humor you and I admit, I’m intrigued.” She holds up a finger, before he can to anything, “But no, teleportation or whatever you were planning before. We’re gonna take public transportation or a cab… Your pick.” Her trust only goes so far, it seems. Charming he might be, but he is still technically someone who could be a danger.

“A… a cab?” There's a look on Peter’s face that first seems affronted, or at least inconvenienced, but then shifts to something more subtle and visibly amused. “Okay, I think I can agree to that. Nobody’ll believe I'm Peter Petrelli if they see me taking a cab.” He cracks another smile, stepping out to the curb and looking around for a taxi to hail.

“So, I've gotta ask, where's somebody like you grow up to have the sensibilities you do?” Peter arches one brow, curiously. “You must have had some great parents if they were able to make you so…” Peter considers how to frame it. “So grounded.”

Whatever Kaylee has done to keep people away, is either not at work anymore or warn off. People start slowly trickling back to the bus stop. “And that’s the point,” she points out about the cab, before turning her attention to answering that question.

The telepath can’t help but chuckle, “Great parents? That’s pretty questionable. Single inattentive mom, absent father. Lived here, there, and everywhere. ” Kaylee has to work a bit to keep her face neutral, giving it a dismissive wave of her hand. “She did alright, though. My mom that is. I’d say my Granny had the biggest impact, though.”

“What about your parents? I mean, everyone one knows who they are… but how much influence did they have on who you became?” Her brows twitch upwards, expectantly, with a ghost of a smile on her lips. “Only fair… if your going to ask questions. I might have some of my own.”

There’s a shadow that comes over Peter’s expression when Kaylee asks about his parents, the exact same expression she’d seen when she asked her Peter about his parents, as if there was somehow nothing different from one world to the next. But then he pushes it away with an easy enough smile, signaling for a cab that approaches through the busy traffic.

“They did as good as they could. But I grew up with a mother who could see the future, but rarely change it, and a father who wanted to make the world a better place but had to fight tooth and nail to get there…” As the cab stops, Peter raises one brow to Kaylee. “It’s— more complicated than that, but… maybe parents weren’t the best topic to start on.” When the cab stops, Peter opens the back door and motions for Kaylee to get in first, holding the door for her.

There is knowing look she gives him as she steps towards the cab. He may or may not notice that she doesn’t quite turn her back to him. A life in the Hub can bring a bit of paranoia with it. With a hand resting on the roof of the cab she pauses, tilting her head a bit. “Probably, not the best topic no.” She flashes him a mischievous smile and drops down into the cab and scoots over; giving him plenty of room there.

“I will admit, from what I understand of my father, he fought to make things better for me.” She glances past the cabbie and to the world beyond the windshield. A world thriving and alive. “I’d like to think he succeeded.” Kaylee allows herself to settle back in the seat for the ride.

Peter’s brows furrow as Kaylee comments on her father, sliding into the cab behind her and closing the door. “Janetos Cafe on 102nd,” he says to the cab driver, who flips a fare meter and pulls away from the curb. For a moment, there's a considerable noise of the city emanating through the closed windows of the cab, muffled honks and voices. The radio is on, too, loudly playing a poppy top-40 from The Shattered Skies.

But Kaylee notices that eventually the city stops moving around the cab, the noise of the city is muted in absolute, and only she and Peter are aware of this frozen moment in time. More serious than he was before, Peter looks at Kaylee and says, “We need to talk.” Privately, from the appearance of things.

“I suspected,” Kaylee comments blandly, turning from the scene around her to the man sitting next to her. “Took you longer than I thought it would.” Twisting in her seat enough that she can face him, since neither of them can hear what the other is thinking, she is forced to trust what he says.

Not the first time she did that.

Of course, last time… it got her heartbroken. So she is guarded and it shows. “So.” A hand motions at him to proceed, “Talk.” It felt a little surreal sitting there with him. Though certain things were reversed. To include the fact that he didn’t have the scar her Peter did; yet, she was the one scarred.

“I should be the one asking you to talk, but that’s not how I want this to go, or the impression I want to make.” Peter crosses one leg over the other, folding his hands atop one knee. “I think I know… your situation,” he diplomatically puts it, “and I’m not the only one. Pinehearst is aware there was some kind of…” Peter waves his hand in the air, “event. I’m going to call it an event, because truth be told we don’t understand it. But we know you’re not from here, because we already have a Kaylee Thatcher.” Apparently the false identification could only get her so far. Perhaps if she hadn’t stayed with Kain in the city, perhaps…

“You’re the only one we’re sure of,” Peter clarifies, “but we have reason to believe there’s others just like you. My father… my father’s a difficult man. He sees things in black and white, and not on a moral scale but on a scale of how threatening something is to him. Right now he’s afraid, because of the events that happened back in November that led to your arrival. What I want to know… is why you’re here.”

It isn’t a demand, and Peter’s gentle expression makes that abundantly clear. He’s trying to forge a dialogue, even if it’s one with a very complicated language of events. “I’ve been tailing you off and on for a while now, just… seeing what you’re up to. Getting a feeling for who you are.” Apparently not enough to have noticed Kain. “You don’t seem like a bad person, and our Kaylee is a wonderful police officer. I’d like to imagine you’re cut from the same cloth… but I have no way of knowing that.”

“So,” Peter unfolds and refolds his hands. “I guess you could consider this something like an interview. I’d like to get to know you better, and… before I tell my father anything, I’d like to know why.” Why what isn’t clarified, perhaps it doesn’t need to be.

It doesn’t take a genius to know what kind of questions would be coming. So Kaylee waits and listens quietly. She has to be careful here, choose her words carefully. Too many people counted on her. Too many lives lost to get them here could be for nothing if she doesn’t do this just right.

She make him wait, even after he goes silent. Kaylee looks outside of the cab and the completely stilled world outside. The words are soft, thoughtful, as her eyes alight on a bird frozen in mid flight. “Hiro Nakamura. This is his ability, right?”

Looking over at Peter, she smiles a little, letting some of her pain show. “You had a scar… “ She reaches up and traces across her face the exact route of the scar that was on her Peter’s face. “Right there.” Her hand drops into her lap, fold together tightly with the other, with fingers laced. “You told me about it once.” Kaylee looks away from him, swallowing against a spike of emotions. Stories always come with memories. “Told me a lot of stories, but that one,” her voice thickens a little with emotion, eyes watery, “That was one you didn’t tell many. About how Hiro Nakamura gave you it and what led to it.” There was a purpose to the story she wove, it wasn’t untrue either, even if to this one, it never happened. She lets that sink in, hopefully it makes him wonder about how she knew him.

Peter goes sheet white the moment Kaylee talks about the scar, swallowing nervously and staring at her with wide-eyed uncertainty. He looks at her with an entirely different set of eyes now, knowing what kind of emotional bond they must have had in order for him to have ever told her that story. Moreover, it means their worlds aren't as different as he'd imagined, in spite of how different she looks now.

“Are we…” Peter hesitated, looking away, then back again. “Back home, you and I are close?” There's a ghost of a smile there, hesitant and uncertain about himself, about her. There's a part of him that suspects this is a trick, that this is telepathy at work, but the logical part of his brain knows that's impossible.

“I'd like to hear how you got yours,” Peter asks, one brow raised and voice soft. “I figure it's only fair.”

A smile is offered in turn, but then it fades away into something sad and her gaze drops away. “We were.” Past tense. It could mean so many things; but Kaylee doesn’t want to elaborate. It’s complicated. It felt weird talking to this Peter about the fact that another version of him had been her lover, until —

Fingers trail over the length of the scar, brows twitching downward; hesitant.

“Rebar. When I was running for my life, I fell. I almost didn’t notice until the blood. “It was pretty bad, but there was no time — ” Kaylee trails off again, expression guarded. Eyes blink and she looks away from him. “I shouldn’t be talking to you at all, all I want is to have a life,” she whispers desperately in the silence of the cab. “You look so much like — “ Her voice catches a little and she has to quickly brush a tear from her cheek. “You look like him, but you’re not my Peter.” He gets a pained, apologetic look, before she looks at the door handle. Everything in her wanting her to flee.

Her Peter. The implication has him leaning back and wringing his hands. “I understand,” is softly whispered, followed by a look to the cab driver’s frozen form. When Peter looks back, there’s a conflicted look she is all too familiar with in his eyes. “Back in November, half a bus came into our world with the bodies of its passengers aboard. At the same time, a research facility in Alaska disappeared without a trace. Hundreds of people, with families, vanished.”

Looking back up to Kaylee, there’s an earnest and concerned look that Peter offers her. “My father’s concerned that this is the first act of some sort of invasion. He put together a team to investigate it. Not long ago, we detected your arrival into our world with some device Pinehearst built to detect those kinds of… breaches.” Peter’s brows furrow worriedly. “But we didn’t know who came here, or how many of you there are. We spotted you on traffic surveillance cameras from the day you arrived and were able to determine our Kaylee Thatcher was somewhere else at the same time.”

Peter purses his lips, thoughtfully holding back something. Then, looking out a window to the moment frozen in time he adds. “My father wanted me to… ingratiate myself with you all. Be like a Trojan horse, and when we discovered proof of your intentions to invade, stop you.” Peter looks back, as though he doesn’t believe that narrative.

“You’re not here to invade.” Isn’t a question.

That gets a huff of amusement and a shake of her head. No there were not. There is a sniff and the heel of her hand brushes moisture from her eye. “No,” Kaylee finally says. “We’re survivors of a dead world.” At least, it was dead to them, since there was no way back. “A world where the Vanguard succeeded in killing most of the human population with a virus.” She gives a bitter chuckle. “A virus that ironically, y’all have a cure for. It saved my life.” Her smile is equally bitter.

“What you are describing… that wasn’t us.” She shakes her head slowly, finally admitting, “We were scavengers, just barely surviving day-to-day, while everyone around us died. We didn’t have that type of technology available to us. Ours was a hail-mary one time trip down the rabbit hole.” Turning thoughtful, Kaylee looks at the cabbie in front of her. “Though, it stands to reason. If there is one alternate world… “ she shrugs a little. “… there must be others. Who knows what they are doing there, but we… we just want to find a home again and live our lives as best we can.” It was true, even if she herself was restless in this seemingly perfect world.

Her hands spread as if you say, there you have it.

Nodding, Peter seems to understand, even if only on the most basic level. “I can’t… believe that a place like that exists, but,” he looks from his lap to Kaylee, then away when he can’t manage to make eye contact with her anymore. “I don’t think you’re what my father is afraid of,” Peter admits with an incline of his head to the side.

“I think… I think you’re people who need our help, not our fear.” A smile starts to spread across Peter’s face. “You’re refugees, immigrants, from another place. A worse place than where you’ve landed, and you’re seeking asylum. This country was built on welcoming everyone. The Petrelli’s came from Europe a few generations ago, and where’d the world be now without us?” There’s a crack of a more cheeky smile there.

“It might take some convincing, but I’d be willing to maybe advocate with my father to see if he’d allow you to have status as asylum-seekers. So you don’t have to hide.” Peter furrows his brows, folding his hands together. “There’s a lot we could learn about you all, about ourselves.” And he is curious about her Peter. “Maybe… maybe talk it over with people? I won’t bring anything to him unless I have your permission.”

Something he says brings a sad smile to her lips, he attention going back to the world on the other side of the car door. “Refugees… “ Her head shakes slowly at that word. “Amazing how, this place is exactly the same as mine — maybe more vibrant and alive — but it is still New York. Yet something happened and now I’m a stranger in a place that looks like home.”

Sighing, Kaylee’s gaze drops to her lap. “I’ll try and talk to them, but you need to realize, Peter,” Kaylee has no problem looking at him, meeting his eyes, “Your’s isn’t the only voice that is bending our ears. People telling us that everything… this utopia is a lie, so… I need something I can take to them. Something that maybe…” lips pressed tightly together “… reassures them that Pinehearst isn’t the big bad wolf that others are telling them.”

Kaylee leans closer to him, so that he has to look at her, the static that is his mind getting a little louder. “And you need to convince me that I can trust you, Peter. Just because I loved you,” and lost you “in another place, doesn’t mean I am going to automatically trust you now. Those people are like my family and I don’t want anything to happen to them. They have been through too much as it is.”

There's a look in Peter’s eye that's hard for Kaylee to reconcile, a mixture of uncertainty and trepidation. “I don't know if I can prove it,” isn't the answer he wants to give, or the one she wants. There's a significant emotion in his eyes, trouble and heartache for a he that never was. “This world isn't perfect. Good people have died, we've made sacrifices… moral and otherwise. But I don't think any one world can be perfect, that any one person or entity is always trustworthy. But that you have to take the good with the bad, and never give up trying to improve.”

Looking down to his lap, Peter shakes his head. When he looks back up to Kaylee, it's with a bittersweet smile. “Tell them to look at this world, to take the time to see what it is and live in it, and ask them if in the broad terms they're better off here than where they've been. If they think they can make more of an improvement here than there.” With that, there's a small and hopeful smile. “Maybe if that's enough… it'll be somewhere to start.”

And in that instant, Peter is gone. The noise of the city comes back like a tidal wave, and Kaylee catches the cab driver’s puzzled expression as he adjusts the rear view mirror. “Hey wasn't— there somebody back there with you?” He asks with an exasperated tone.

Kaylee opens her mouth to respond, but then he is gone and the world starts turning again. It always did. “Of course, you just…” she sighs out heavily “… did that.”

The question from the cab driver, is ignored as something seems to snap in her, with Peter’s sudden disappearance. There is a twist of pain in her chest and she has to wipe furiously at tears that start sliding down her cheeks. “Damn you,” she says to whatever entity thought it was a good idea to have him walk into her life here, even if briefly. Of anyone that could have come to her… “Why him?” She whispers. She knew why though, she wasn’t stupid.

“Can you pull over,” Kaylee finally manages to ask roughly, pulling out bills to pass through the window. “I changed my mind.” She wanted out of that damn cab.

As soon as she finds herself on the curb again, Kaylee takes a steadying breath, brushing at the last of the dampness with the heel of her hand. Phone retrieved from her pocket, number dialed, the telepath waits for a familiar voice on the other end. “Hey, Kain. Sorry. Not gonna make it.” Sniffing, she shakes her head to whatever is said; head dropping and gaze falling on the ground at her feet. “No.. I…” her voice cracks a little “I just saw a ghost.” Any other inquiries are cut off, as the telepath hangs up. If she has to explain she might start crying and she did not want Kain to hear that.

He had his own issues, he didn’t need to hear her own, as well.

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