TITLE: Who, What, When, Where
AUTHOR: Mnemosyne

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
SUMMARY: Peter's powers go horribly wrong.
RATING: PG-13
WARNINGS: Some possibly disturbing descriptions, but they're fairly minor
CHARACTER(S): Peter-POV, some implied Peter/Claire
SPOILERS: Possible spoilers up to and including episode 1x07, "Nothing to Hide"
NOTES:
Here it is; my first foray into Heroes fanfic. I'm crossing my fingers and praying it doesn't suck. LOL! Just as a heads up, the timeline in this story jumps around a lot, without any visible indicators. Go with the flow as you read and hopefully you won't be too confused by the end. :) Enjoy!


The scar was throbbing again. It always burned before the rain came, making it a more practical predictor of the future than any of Isaac's paintings. Sure Isaac could ink out the downfall of mankind and the destruction of civilization in fire and brimstone, but he couldn't tell you to take an umbrella when you went to fight evil.

Peter stared out the window, his good eye watching the shifting New York skyline; a storm was coming in from the open water. He wondered idly if it would rain fish, like something out of a post-apocalyptic dream. He'd always been prone to flights of fancy; that hadn't changed. If anything, his imaginings were stronger now; more outlandish. Part of him was inclined to believe it was because of his ruined eye; his mind creating pictures to make up for the fact he only had half his normal vision. But there was another part of him that wondered if his daydreaming just meant he was living in close proximity with yet another superhuman; one whose power involved mind-altering capabilities. That was his cynical side coming to the forefront; he'd always had one of those, too.

He could hear the faint buzz of disembodied voices at the base of his skull, and felt a headache start to pulse behind his temples. Hopefully someone had thought to refresh his aspirin supply the last time anyone went grocery shopping.

Peter couldn't quite remember when his apartment had been picked as Superfreak headquarters (Niki's nickname, not his), but one way or another that's how it turned out. Most of them had their own residences, but whenever there was a cause for them all to come together, they always seemed to meet at his place. Personally he would have suggested Isaac's studio, or Mohinder's apartment across town, but no such luck. He supposed it had something to do with the fact he didn't go out much since the scarring; it was everyone's way of making sure he didn't feel completely out of touch with the outside world. It was a sweet gesture, but a tough one to endure. Whenever they all gathered around him, he felt like he was being dragged in a million different directions as he soaked up their powers.

"Peter?"

He turned his head towards Claire's voice and found her hovering in his bedroom door. She flinched slightly, the way she always did when confronted with his scarred, milky eye. Sees right through me, he heard her thinking. Right through everyone...

He sighed, and leaned his head back against the window frame. "Yeah, Claire?" Though he already knew what she was going to say.

"You hungry? I made waffles."

"That'd be great. Thanks."

She gave him a tight smile before scurrying away, and he turned his attention back to the leaden sky. Once upon a time he'd believed he could fly, until his brother proved him wrong. At the time he'd been disappointed, but lately he'd been thinking back on those days with more and more envy. Not for Nathan, but for himself.

He could fly now. And read minds. And see the future. And split his personality. And manipulate time...and technology... and matter...

Mohinder said it was because of the location and severity of his head wound. When Sylar had sliced at him with that machete, aiming to cut the top of his head off, Peter had dodged enough that the machete missed the top of his skull but ended up buried in the side of his face. Claire had been there, and if she hadn't been, he'd probably be dead. As it was, while DL and Jessica subdued the lunatic, Mohinder pulled the blade free, with Claire sobbing nearby. Peter could still remember the brilliant white stab of absolute pain, then the sickening sensation as bone, flesh, and eye jelly knit themselves back together. Even absorbing Claire's healing powers wasn't enough to avoid permanent damage, and he'd been left blinded in one eye, with a long furrow down the right side of his face. Still, any fight you could walk away from was lucky, right?

Maybe. Sometimes.

It was shortly after that when he'd started noticing the changes. He didn't need to be near Nathan now to fly, as he'd discovered one morning when making coffee. The coffee machine seemed lower down than he remembered, which turned out to be because he was floating six inches above the floor.

That was just the beginning.

There had been the embarrassing instance when he fell through a chair as he sat down to dinner with his brother's family. Or the afternoon when he'd fallen asleep, only to wake up to a panicked Hiro hammering on his front door with the news that time had stopped while Peter was napping. Or the time he woke up sprawled on his bathroom floor with bloody knuckles, surrounded by broken glass, and with absolutely no memory of how he got there. When he managed to drag himself out of the room, he found that every mirror in the apartment was shattered.

That had scared him half to death; he didn't sleep for two days straight.

Mohinder said the machete must have damaged the region of his brain that controlled his ability to absorb other people's powers. Instead of only retaining an ability for a limited period of time after he'd left another "mutant's" presence, now he retained those powers indefinitely. He could fly. And read minds. And see the future. And split his personality. And manipulate time... and technology... and matter...

And they kept getting stronger.

Every time he was around the others, his ability to do the things they did got more and more refined. It was to the point now that he tried to avoid being in the same room with any of them for longer than a few minutes at a time, because his skin felt like it was ready to burst at the seams. He stayed in his bedroom when the others came to visit, and they kept themselves gathered in the kitchen, and that was just how it was.

Except for Claire. "Maybe... if I stay with you... maybe you'll soak up enough of my healing that your brain can fix itself," she'd suggested nervously, a few months after his newfound capabilities had been identified. "I mean... healing fast isn't bad, right? So that's a good thing anyway. And... I dunno... what do you think?" It had sounded like the best plan anyone had come up with so far, so he'd said yes.

That was six months ago, and it didn't take a genius to figure out it wasn't working. The clamor of the thoughts of eight million New Yorkers buzzed like static in the back of his brain every second of every day. He had to make a conscious effort not to fall through the floor, or sink down through his mattress at night, and his cupboards were stocked with paper plates and disposable cups, because he kept breaking all his dinnerware when his fingers slipped through their molecules like DL slipping through the walls of his prison cell. It was to the point where he even had to question his remaining eyesight, because he could never tell if what he was seeing was real, or just another vision of the future.

"Peter?"

He turned his head towards Claire's voice and found her hovering in his bedroom door. She flinched slightly, the way she always did when confronted with his scarred, milky eye. Sees right through me, he heard her thinking. Right through everyone...

He sighed, and leaned his head back against the window frame. "Yeah, Claire?" Though he already knew what she was going to say.

"You hungry? I made waffles."

"That'd be great. Thanks."

She gave him a tight smile before scurrying away, and he turned his attention back to the leaden sky. Only it wasn't leaden; it was blue and dotted with fair weather clouds. The rain wouldn't be coming until tomorrow; a storm rolling in from the open water.

"She's a sweet little thing, isn't she?" his reflection said.

Peter passed a hand over his eyes, his thumb rubbing against his scar. "Shut up, Paul."

"Is that any way to talk to yourself?"

"I don't want to talk to you."

"I'm just trying to help, buddy."

"I'm not your buddy. And your kind of help is never helpful."

Paul rolled his eyes. It was still strange for Peter to talk to his reflection; stranger still that it had a name and personality all its own. Paul was suave, strong, and persuasive; learning to rein him in had taken months. If quashing Paul's outward manifestations had one drawback, though, it was the fact that Peter's reflection was rarely his own anymore. So as he sat here on his window seat, staring out the window, Paul hovered in the window and stared at him. It was disconcerting, being stared at by your own reflection.

"Look, you and I both know we're never going to get better while she's around," Paul said, in an infuriatingly reasonable tone of voice. "She's cute and all, but what's she doing for us?"

"Besides cooking, cleaning, shopping, keeping me sane... I could keep going, you know."

Paul rolled his eyes again. It was an annoying habit of his. "Sane? You're talking to a window, pal."

"No, I'm talking to YOU."

"Technicality."

"Why don't you just make your damn point and leave me alone." Peter winced, rubbing his temple as a bolt of pain lanced across his forehead.

"Easy, cowboy," Paul said with a little smirk. "You know getting riled up just gives you a headache."

And gives you a chance to get out and about, Paul thought grimly, though he didn't say it aloud. "What do you want anyway?" he asked, pressing his hot forehead against the cool glass.

"I want you to finally take a stand. Being around this girl isn't helping your head heal; it's just making things worse."

"How is it making things worse?"

"Because she's making you invincible, you idiot. Do you really want to be invincible?"

Peter was about to argue that being invincible wouldn't be such a bad thing, but stopped himself before he could voice the thought. Truth be told, there had been times in the last couple of months when he very much would have liked to be mortal. Very, very mortal. Terminally mortal, actually. But what could he do? He couldn't hang himself, slit his wrists, swallow too many pain pills, or even throw himself out a window. Paul was right; Claire's presence was making it harder and harder for him to commit suicide ad infinitum, but death seemed to be the only way he was going to get out of this endless purgatory.

"So what do you want me to do about it?" he muttered, staring down at the street below.

"Take her out of the equation."

Peter pulled back to stare at the man in the window. "No," he pronounced firmly, shaking his head. "Not a chance."

"Fine," Paul said. "Then take yourself out of the equation."

"How the hell am I supposed to do that?"

"Move to Alaska. Antarctica. Somewhere far away where no one's ever going to find you. Then bury an ax in your head."

"Except the last time I had a big blade in my head, I survived. Remember?"

"Yeah, well, that time you had someone to pull it OUT. Remember?"

True enough...

"What if I survived anyway?" he mumbled, watching a group of children play hopscotch on the sidewalk below.

"Well, then you'd be alone in the woods with a couple of really bad head wounds." Paul tilted his head. "But at least you wouldn't have to hear the voices anymore."

God, the voices. They never stopped. They were always there, nattering away in the back of his head like an angry beehive...

"That sounds really nice," he admitted.

"I'll take that as a yes then?" a feminine voice asked near his elbow.

"Hmm?" He raised his head and found Claire standing beside him, holding a breakfast tray.

"I asked if you wanted me to make your waffles Belgian; you know, whipped cream and strawberries? You said that sounded really nice." She gave him a curious smile. "You all right?"

Peter gave her a weak smile as she laid the tray across his lap. "Fine," he assured her. "And syrup's all right. I don't need anything fancy."

She sat down on the edge of the window seat near his knees, watching his face as he stared down at the food on the tray. "You've got waffles, some scrambled eggs, orange juice, coffee, and the last cheese danish," she said, pointing out each item as she spoke. "I was going to make some bacon, but we're all out. You want me to fry up some ham?"

Peter laughed softly and shook his head. "No thanks, Claire, I'm good. You didn't have to give me so much."

"Sure I did," she chastised. "You're skinny as a rake. I keep thinking I'm going to come in here \and you're going to have wasted away to nothing."

"You're one to talk, Miss Nobby Knees."

She scrunched up her face and thwacked him on the arm. "Shut up and eat your breakfast."

He laughed and took a sip of coffee. Cream and two sugars, just the way he liked it. He couldn't remember ever telling her how he took his coffee, but then again, he couldn't remember not telling her, either. He didn't trust his memories too much anymore; there were too many voices in his head.

"Open." He looked up from his coffee cup to find her holding a forkful of waffle to his lips.

"I can feed myself, Claire," he protested.

She arched an eyebrow at him. "Uh-huh. And then I'll leave the room and come back a few hours from now to find you staring out that window again, with all this food stone cold in front of you. We've done this before, Peter. I'm not arguing with you. Now eat."

We've done this before? I don't remember... "Fine, fine," he grumbled, and opened his mouth, taking the bite of waffle off the prongs of the fork and chewing dutifully.

"Who were you talking to?" she asked a few minutes later, after she'd gotten him to eat a little bit of everything on the tray.

"Paul."

Claire gave him a worried frown as she watched him chew a mouthful of scrambled eggs. "What'd he say?"

"That I should take myself out to a deserted stretch of woods somewhere and sink an ax in my head."

Claire's eyes widened. "You'd better have told him no!"

He furrowed his brow as he tried to remember where he'd left the conversation with his doppelganger. "Pretty sure I did...," he mumbled.

"You'd better be more than pretty sure!" Claire exclaimed. Leaning forward, she planted a kiss on his surprised lips.

"I'm your wife, Peter," she murmured, gazing into his eyes with worried affection. "Three years I've had you, and I don't want to lose you because the man in the mirror told you to do it."

Wife?

"What did you say?" he asked, dazed.

Claire's lips quirked up in a puzzled smile. "I said you've got syrup on your lip," she told him, sitting back and handing him a napkin. "And you let your breakfast get cold again. Swear to God, Peter, I'm going to have to start feeding you if you keep this up." She giggled.

Peter took the napkin and obediently wiped his mouth, trying to swallow down his confusion. He glanced at the tray: waffles, bacon, and toast; glass of milk; no coffee.

"Sorry," he murmured, handing her back the napkin

Claire's smile softened. "Don't apologize, Pete," she said, bouncing to her feet and taking the tray. Leaning down, she kissed him on the top of his head. "My friend Zach back in Texas was always getting caught up in his own head, too."

Peter gave her what he hoped was a reassuring smile. "I'll do better tomorrow."

She ruffled his hair, like he was her brother or best friend. "You want some coffee?" she asked. "I think I've got the machine figured out finally."

He nodded mutely.

"How do you take it?"

He swallowed, throat dry. "Cream, two sugars," he murmured.

She nodded and grinned. "Just you watch. It'll be perfect," she told him with a self-affirming nod, backing towards the door. "Just how you like it." She gave a little shiver. "I might have some, too. I never really liked it much back home, but you folks have cold rain here in New York."

He blinked and looked back to the window as she slipped out of the room. The glass was streaked with water as a driving rain poured from the lead gray sky.

Peter closed his eyes and let his head loll to the side, away from the window. He could hear Claire clattering around in the kitchen, and behind her, the endless static of thought that poured into his brain from the people outside.

"I hear the Yukon's pretty sparse peoplewise," Paul said from the window. "All you'd have to do is figure out how to get there. And bring an ax."

Peter thought he told him to shut up, but that might have just been a memory.

THE END