Working Backwards From Broken


gabriel_icon.gif peter6_icon.gif

Scene Title Working Backwards From Broken
Synopsis A search for common ground mostly leads to territorial snarling, quick tempers and deathwishes. As can only be expected. And then they discover equilibrium. Weird.
Date June 4, 2009

BrooklynConey Island

Despite it's name Coney Island is a peninsula, and only formerly an island. This small piece of real-estate is the southern-most point in Brooklyn, with beachfront property abutted by the Atlantic Ocean. A neighborhood of the same name is a community of 60,000 people in the western part of the peninsula, with Seagate to its west; Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach to its east; and the Gravesend neighborhood to the north.

This area was once a major resort and site of amusement parks that reached its peak in the early 20th century. It declined in popularity after World War II and endured years of neglect. Since the bomb, Coney Island has fallen into a tragic state of disrepair, most prominently evidenced by the closing of the amusement parks on the island, notably Astroland and Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. The latter of those two serves as a rusting and monolithic ferris wheel that overlooks the decrepit state of the island. It's once bright carnation red paint peeling to reveal rusted steel.

Much of the amusement park areas surrounding the beach are now closed off by chain-link fence, though some portions have been battered down by vandalism and portions of the closed amusement parks are now used by gangs and other unsavory figures as meeting sites. With the NYPD stretched to its limits, police rarely have the availability to respond in a timely manner to this small and remote penninsula, making it a relatively dangerous part of Brooklyn.

It's early morning, and water clings to the rusted metal of the scrolling fences that surround the major attractions of Coney Island. He'd come here before and listened with supernatural hearing, to the sound of old decay. The boat graveyard Staten-side made a more pleasant symphony, but the creaks and subtle shifting of the ferris wheel would make anyone nervous, if they knew how much damage its own weight did to itself, after all this time.

Right now, though. To Gabriel's ears, it's silent.

His fingers make hooks into the cold metal wiring, observing beyond it with an idle tilt to his head. As if maybe if he tried, he could hear it. The decaying metal, the wind through the exposed structures, and the sound of heart beats. The black of his clothing cuts a sharper silhouette than the hazy grey of concrete and neglect of the peninsula, and he… could be in better shape. Bruises have faded, cuts and scrapes are struggling to heal, and the gash to his head is a black line, one of far less finesse than the marks Gabriel had put into the heads of others, if he does say so himself.

After a while, his hands release the fence, and he moves towards one of the gaping holes in the barrier, fingertips trailing across icy chainlinks as he goes before he's ducking through. The metal protests when it snags against his shoulder, bends and pulls and ultimately loses when Gabriel stubbornly jerks free.

A less subtle sound that the gradual collapse of aluminum and steel chimes out across the vacant amusement park in the wee morning hours. Somewhere higher in volume than the rumbling engine of a garbage truck half a block away, but far closer than the distant toot of boat horns out in the harbor. It's the telltale shattering sound of glass bottles from up on the boardwalk in the crooked shadow of the once great ferris wheel.

Out there, beyond the dirty sand beaches and the upended and rusting hulk of a car sprawled out across the parking lot in a field of strewn parts of the frame and broken glass, the sound is far louder. The sharp crash of glass shattering comes not from the lot, but from one of the old, closed up amusement park booths lining the boardwalk. Years ago it would have been a target practice range, where children would use airsoft guns to hit metal targets to win stuffed animals hanging on the walls. Now it is — was — boarded up, closed off to everyone save the homeless and daring.

From the battered open back door, the sound comes again, filtering out of the building along with thin rays of dirty yellow light that work their way between the plywood planks covering the windows. Inside, slouched up behind the counter that once served passers by, Peter Petrelli looks for all his worth like a drunken homeless man. His face is dirtied with the scruff of half a week without shaving darkening his jaw, while his hair is a tangled mess of black swept down in greasy locks on one side of his head.

The shattering sound comes again, from an empty beer bottle up on one of the shelves where targets would have been displayed when this place was open for business. But it's not an airsoft gun Peter uses to break the glass, it's the snap of his fingers. That one, simple motion is all it takes to signify both his own abject boredom, and the horrible price his ability has already taken. The bottles, it seems, are culled from the other empties scattered around a makeshift bed and tangled blankets he sits upon, the stink of alcohol clinging to the air would make Flint Deckard proud.

It's been a while since Gabriel's gotten to follow an inexplicable sound towards an unknown destination. It's a bit like old times.

When he appears at the door, new broken glass shards are splashing like water droplets to the ground, a windchime sound effect after the initial explosion. It's pretty, and familiar. On a frosty, white Christmas, he'd played exactly the same game on the rooftop of the now vanquished Eagle Electric buildings. Wu-Long had been there, and they'd both been pretty drunk, to be honest, but not as much as—

Peter. Who, Gabriel is dimly pleased to see, is doing worse than he is. At least Gabriel remembered to shave a day ago, although he's about as sleepless, as pale, as underfed. Suits him, however, it's a state of living he's used to being in. His shoulder rests against the door frame.

"We could play William Tell," he suggests, voice oily smooth and conversational. Never mind the hand in his pocket where a pistol is hidden.

The reaction to Gabriel's voice is more one would expect from a cornered animal than a person. Limbs wildly skitter about as Peter is pushed up from a slouched slump and into a scrambling motion away from the door, one hand moving up with a palm held out as if to ward off a blow that never comes. He's tense, arm shaking, eyes wide and jaws clenched together. Breathing in sharply through his nose, he takes in a deep enough breath to loudly exhale, "What do you want?" It's accusatory, harsh, and venomous — but those are all qualities of a true-blooded Petrelli.

All around where Peter rests, half on his feet in the corner of the room, signs of his spiraling down into inebriation are all too present. The beer has been his breakfast since before the sun crept up, and the only sign that he's been getting any sleep is the coiled blanket wound around his ankles, keeping him from sprinting towards the door and starting over what was ended be exhaustion and bloodshed — well, that and the swirling spin of the room around him, and a throbbing headache. "Look what you did to me."

Gabriel stops blocking the hazy morning light from filtering through the broken open door— a step to the side, melting into the dusty shadows of the building as he enters, eyes on Peter as if he were looking at something, not someone. Judging his movements, how drunk he really is, and all the other signs of what it's been like, for him, this past week.

He says nothing, at first, opening his mouth as if he might— apologise, of all things, but that would be a stretch of a guess. He goes back to that first part. "I wanted to see." A hand goes up, the same sort of gesture that would have normally sent Peter flying back through decaying wood and into the light of day, or at least another room, but nothing. Just a sort of surrender, or a token of peace.

Of all things. "I blamed myself, the first time," he says, chin tilting up. "I didn't understand it, not like you understand it now. Then after I did, I blamed God, because there's no amount of repenting you can do. Not surprising to me, that you look for someone to blame.

"Again." An eyebrow raises, and despite his words, Gabriel's voice is placating, as if Peter really were a wild animal.

Amidst the haze of emotion and alcohol, Peter manages to pull himself up to his feet, one hand pressed to the wall and legs shaky. He swallows with a dry mouth tht feels full of cotton, looking back to Gabriel from the floor with a distasteful expression — only half of it reserved for the man he's leveling the look at. "I killed someone. I— " Peter's words are lost in the haze of morning light, inebrieation, and anger that swells with each moment he's stuck here, pinned between a wall and Gabriel's half-shadowed profile.

A thought swims past Peter's eyes, it distracts him, steals his focus entirely, up until he realizes that train of thought leads right back to Gabriel. "Did he listen?" There's a moment of pause before Peter clarifies, his tone a bit bitter sounding as he does, "God?" The world in its state now, it makes believing in a higher power both easier and harder in some paradoxical way.


Because apparently, Gabriel isn't here to offer comfort. The truth hardly ever is. Despite himself, he draws forward a little closer, a few lazy steps. "I was convinced He stopped listening around the time I gave into it. Slippery slope. You know that now."

And now— and now what, exactly? There's an angle of light coming in through broken wooden boards. It casts a haze ghost shade onto his face, makes him seem even paler. The lines of his brows, the shadow of stubble at his jaw, and more strikingly, the black scar at his head all stand out in defiance of his pallor. Just as dark eyes study and analyse Peter as pointed as a needle through a butterfly.

It breaks, briefly, regarding all the broken glass and the couple of empty bottles waiting their turn. "What was it like?"

Tables turned so many times its dizzying, the back and forth vacillating between good and bad becomes hard to follow at times. Peter's own foray into the murky depths of moral relativism has left him sunk at the bottom and gasping for air. That analogy of expression is much of what Peter wears right now, staring Gabriel down with his mouth hanging just a touch open and eyes unfocused. It's only until he comes up with something sharp, something barbed that he spits out a response instead of trying to swim up and clear his thoughts.

"What the hell do you think it was like!? It was horrible!" One of the bottles on the floor pops as if stepped on, sending tiny shards of brown glass about a foot into the air before they patter back down on worn floorboards. Peter eyes, despite the distractions, never leave Gabriel's. "I broke his head open with a wrench and then I nearly did the same thing to Gillian!" Lanky and thin, Peter's frame when cast against the shadows on the wall behind him seems even thinner. Prison and now this has done nothing for what was once a strong physique, whittled down to nothing. "I killed someone I didn't even know for— because— because I couldn't stop thinking about what he could do! I— I almost killed Gillian you asshole! How do you think it felt!"

Truth is, Gabriel knows perfectly well how that feels. Peter, unfortunately, misses that point.

Talking to Peter is a lot like throwing a cat into a bath full of ice water, Gabriel is finding. Sad that he never knew this back when he might have enjoyed it. The outburst doesn't make him flinch, barely does anything to change his quiet, studious demeanor— even the exploding glass gets only a glance. This is expected.

Then suddenly it's not expected. There is no visible cue for the feeling like his blood is running like ice through his veins, save for maybe a brightening in his eyes, that flare of anger, of shock, all contained within the more expressive circles of his eyes than his face allows.

All at once, stoicism breaks. Peter's the dog that's been kicked more times than Gabriel has and so there is no real struggle when Gabriel suddenly launches himself forward, hands gripping onto Peter's clothing that reeks of sweat and alcohol, and rams him against the wall of peeling paint and splinters. An arm moves with Vanguardian expertise to pin against Peter's throat, Gabriel's face mere inches away from his face.

I nearly did the same thing to Gillian!

"It felt good," he growls, voice low. "It felt like nothing mattered in the whole wide world, because all that mattered was knowing, and then what would come next. You found purpose, sweeter than you've ever known it to be throughout your miserable, futile existence, and there's no right or wrong anymore. There's no you anymore."

I almost killed Gillian— almost. He almost. Gillian was here.

Slammed up against the wall from the momentum of Gabriel's approach, Peter finds himself quickly winded not only from an arm over his throat, but from the force of the impact that sent him into the wall. Bottles rattle with the jostling, one tipping forward to clunk on the blanket with a muffled thump, even amidst all of the growling and spitting that amounts to so much wild animal calls in a dirty back alley.

"You did this to me!" Peter struggles futily beneath the chokehold, his voice a hoarse whisper against the assault, "isn't— this what you wanted?" Lips pull back to reveal teeth, a snarling expression befitting of the rough and primal exchange of emotions and frustrations in this cramped back room. "You wanted me to be just like you! You— you always— you're a bastard!" Peter swings his head forward, but once bitten twice shy in Gabriel's concern, and a quick jerk of his head back avoids the headbutt this time.

"You always wanted to prove that— " Peter struggles and thrases, "in control! You weren't— you never were— you were just as helpless as I was!" That, perhaps there, is the most horrifying thing to Peter at all, that in the end, he and Gabriel are unified by their inability to control the core of what they are and what their ability is.

That just as they are defined by their perceptions of power, they are also liberated by their inability to control it.

Gabriel uses his greater strength, weight, height— hell, some experience in keeping Peter in place, although there is only so long that will work. Long enough for Peter to speak, and make no mistake, Gabriel is listening even if fury is a darkening cloud in the distance. His mouth is pulled into an ugly sneer, white teeth showing in kind, two alpha males struggling to show they are stronger, some how.

Something snaps further, but it doesn't move him to violence. Instead, his response is a broken, frustrated sounding and quietly toned; "Yes." Yes, he's just as out of control. Yes, it was a lie all along. "It's why I got you out of Moab. Why I tried to talk to you. It's why I'm here."

Intention lies on the floor like so many of the glittering glass shards of beer bottles. With a final push, Gabriel releases Peter, backs up a step and a half, eyes glittering with a snake's analysis. "Is Gillian okay?" he grinds out between gritted teeth.

Rubbing at his neck after he's released, Peter takes too long to answer the question. His eyes are wide, wild, confused — too many emotions swirl behidn the drunken haze of a night of sucking bottles down to try and forget what had come before. "She's fine now." It's not the best answer, or the prettiest one. "She healed," his head tilts to the side, "like Claire."

Wiping at the side of his mouth with one hand, Peter does with words what fists and teeth couldn't quite do. "Even after hitting her in the head with the same wrench I used to kill the ferry captain, she stayed. She stayed because— because I don't even know why…" closing his eyes, Peter brushes one hand over his forehead, exhaling a deep sigh as he turns his back on Gabriel for what is likely the first time ever. "She stayed here until the rain stopped," it rained through the night and only stopped less than an hour ago, "then once it cleared she just— left. I don't remeber where she said she was going…" Peter turns to look back over his shoulder to Gabriel, then turns to face him again, "she can take care of herself."

Strange, in a way, that the day he had found out how similar he and Peter truly were, he'd laughed until his ribs had ached. Watching Peter come to grips with it— with such disgust. Less of a release, apparently. He could explain why Gillian stayed, but Gabriel chooses to say nothing at all.

"Yes, she can," he agrees, his voice losing that growl, but as cold and sharp as an icy edge.

He moves towards the counter, a hand sliding over the surface, collecting dust and dirt in the arcing sweep. "What I wanted was to know. If what my ability was made me who I am now, how much of it was me, and how much of me was it. The hunger. You think I'm such a monster… what better way to test the theory?" The words come bitterly. There's a surprising lack of gloating. "Next time— if you really are like me— you'll stop caring. You'll find a reason to do it again and you'll let it become you. A machine."

A beat, and then, stilted; "I wanted to help. That not happen. I've managed it before." It's an open offer, accusatory in some ways. Are you willing to listen?

"Why?" Peter's eyes narrow, moving away from the wall he's been hugging close to, "Why do you want to help me? Why do you care?" He hesitates, then squints into a look somewhere between scrutinizing and incredulous. "You don't care, so why do you want to help? How does it help Gabriel?" Peter circles halfway around the taller man, "How did helping break me out of Moab help you? What was in it for you that time?" His voice raises some, not quite a shout, but building towards that.

"You're the most self serving person I've ever met, you only ever do anything because of what it can do for you— that's so goddamned clear to me now. The only reason you did what you did to me, was so you could find some scrap of hope about yourself in how horrible you screwed up my head. So now that you've made another monster," no shred of innocence about what he did, and on the same unfortunate token no scrap of forgiveness to past misdeeds, "you want to try and put him on a leash? Don't tell me you actually grew a conscience somewhere in these, because I don't see how one of those works out for people like you — like us."

Like us.

The notion makes a crooked, hurtful smile creep up on Peter's lips. "You know what, I don't really want you to help take it away. I kind've like it, the freedom, the feeling of power. So is that it? You want to help me because you feel bad? Or are you just jealous that now I have something special and you're just…" his brows rise, lips creeping down from a smile to something more of a scowl, "Gabriel." There's a wince, ever so slight, at the end of his words. But like everything, there's a point where it's too late to take something back once it's been said or done.

If there wasn't a sliver of truth to be found in those words— bigger even than sifting through rock in a pan of water for glimmers of gold, far more eye catching than mere traces— than Gabriel could just laugh. He doesn't. His jaw clenches, unclenches, his hand is a loose curl against the counter, dust beneath his fingernails. All the while, a black-coloured gaze tracks Peter's movements before turning away, as if watching the wall would help.

Just Gabriel. The reaction is instantaneous; rounding on him, a step closer, a snarl in the form of words that go like, "Why does it matter?" Voice too loud for the close confines of the small room. "What the fuck do you care about what it's in it for me? Everyone is selfish, I just don't bother pretending. And you." Voice lowers, in a hiss Eileen could be proud of. "You're a hypocrite. You were never any different except while you had the luxury of feeling guilty over what your power made you do, I didn't know any better until— "

Until what? What was the point of no return, there? His boot nudges a glass, emptied bottle of beer, divides his attention for a moment, scatters his fury. God. "Until it was too late. Look at you. You're pathetic. If you don't want my help I'll be happy to put you down. Be a hero, rid the world of one monster."

Peter's head tilts to the side, a satisfied smile curling across his lips as if this were some horrible and dirty reflection of one of their previous encounters. "I don't care Gabriel, and neither do you." Peter nods his head with each emphasized word, "what I want to know is why you're pretending to care, because I don't understand what game it is you're playing, and I'm really losing my patience for things I can't figure out. I think you might have had that nagging disposition at one point?"

"On the other hand," Peter's head quirks to the side, one hand rising with forefingers pressed against his thumb, threatening to snap his fingers. "If you'd rather think that you could stop me, I'm more than willing to take the risk of upsetting Gillian by seeing how fast your head pops like a zit. Or maybe it won't, maybe something inside would just break. The fascinating part about this ability is," the wild look in Peter's eyes, Gabriel's seen it before in himself, in a mirror. "I just don't know its limits."

Dark eyes switch from Peter's face towards his hands, and finds himself taking an instinctive step back, as much as he knows it won't help, and it really only occurs to him then when he sees that mad dog look in Peter's eye—

Maybe he's too late.

With a whisper of metal against fabric, Gabriel takes the pistol out of his pocket and brings it up to point, the click of the safety being thumbed off accompanying the movement. "I want to help you," he grinds out, "because I need to know what happened to me. What I could have been. I've been trying to figure that out for as long as I've lost my power and it's still a mystery. You— " A faint smile, despite himself, plays out on Gabriel's face. "You're the answer. Hate it for all I care, but you need help." An eyebrow raises, his finger tight on the trigger. "You need me."

One day, perhaps Peter will discover what makes practically everyone he meets draw a gun on him at some point or another. The challenge is there though, can he snap his fingers faster than Gabriel can pull the trigger? Which one would be more lethal? Puzzlingit out, the want to find out just which answer is correct keeps his fingers straining and his neck muscles tensing, until those last few words cause his arm to lower, tongue to roll across the inside of his cheek, and shoulders to slouch down into a more relaxed posture.

"Me and you, Gabriel, we can't figure ourselves out if we were given a roadmap." There's a narrowing of Peter's eyes at that bitter truth, "it's who we are. We're damaged goods, and we were born this way— made this way— made broken, I don't know." Peter's dark eyes scan across the floor of the cramped room full of broken glass and broken tempers. "But there is somebody who can help us," he looks back up, one brow raised, "Gillian tried to get me to go see him."

Made broken. The argument that defeated that of the watchmaker, that all the defects and deformities and insanities in life disproved that of the idea of intelligent design. There's no God, he had once told Gillian, as if he'd known such things. And if there is, He has a sick sense of humour. Gabriel doesn't lower the gun, staring coldly over it towards Peter. As the other man's hand lowers, he only switches from defense to threat, and it's thrilling. To be in that position of power, back on top. The coiling desire to put bullets in Peter, too, has something to do with that.

Peter is telling the truth. Words drag out of Gabriel's throat as if they, too, were broken. "I just want to know when I was damaged," he mutters, and slowly, he eases the gun down, still gripped in two hands, ready to jerk up in an instant.


Peter's brows knit together and he looks at Gabriel with a marked level of surprise and in equal parts suspicion. "My father. Gillian works for him, he's trying to destroy the Company but— there's been some setbacks. You and I don't have a whole lot of lost love for them," not this Peter anyway, "so I figure that's not an entirely bad deal. The only problem is, Helena…" Peter hesitates, then just shakes his head, "whatever she said, it doesn't matter. He sent Gillian to find me, and she stopped me from… from… I don't know," his eyes divert, over to the wall, then back to Gabriel.

"He's been dealing with abilities like ours longer than we have. He has one too, and he thinks he can help me. I just— " Peter's head tilts to the side, dark eyes lifting up to Gabriel with an inquisitive look. "He's only out in New Jersey, it'd take the afternoon to walk out there. He… hell, he might want to see you too."

Finally, the pistol hangs loose in one hand at his side. This search for solutions somehow curbing tempers and deathwishes alike, if only for moment enough to listen. Gabriel's face is still long, his posture guarded, his brow furrowed. He's heard of Pinehearst, and their little war against the Company, that much is plain.

Missing pieces, though. "What would your father possibly want with me? Why should I trust him to help me when his son can't— " Restraint. It's not Gabriel's strong point. He shows some, for once, albeit midsentence, broad shoulders rising and falling in a sigh that whistles through gritted teeth.

"Because Gillian trusts him, and she trusts us." For whatever Peter's words are worth, it's either a credit or demerit to Gillian — the truth of which is hard to discern. "Because he's my father, and he knows more about abilities — about how they come to be — than anyone else I know of. He— I know he can do something to fix me, before— before I don't want to be anymore." There's a tension in Peter's brows, and he turns his focus towards the door, then back to Gabriel.

"If we can't save ourselves, what makes you think we can even start to save each other without one of us losing it and killing the other and getting us right back where we started? I hate you, I think I always will, but you know what I hate more?" Peter's hand comes up to point accusingly, two fingers poking into the center of Gabriel's chest. "I hate the fact that you're right. I need help, and right now, I need you."

There's silence, and then a punctuating click of metal as the safety is pulled back into place. Gabriel's chin tilts up, looking down his nose at the hand pointing towards his chest then back up towards Peter's eyes. A decision's already been made, but struggling to put it to words—

Iiis a struggle, as it were. "Then I guess we get to go to New Jersey," he says, voice coming out dull. "You should— " His gaze breaks from Peter's unshaven face, down towards the mess he's turned the already desolate room into with a faint sneer. "You should consider cleaning yourself up."

Not that suicidal is any more attractive than alcoholic, just tidier. He drops the pistol back into his pocket.

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