Disclaimer: All owned by NBC.
Spoilers: Up to Unexpected; background information for Charles Deveaux taken from How to stop an exploding man.
Thanks to: Wychwood, for beta-reading.
Author's note: Simone exploration, which caught me by surprise, but was triggered by a reaction I had to a certain scene in the finale. Also, bring your own subtext.
The Worst Lies
Back in college, Simone had a friend who used to quote Philip Larkin to her, They fuck you up, your mum and dad. Simone thought that was the cheapest excuse around, blaming it on the parents. She certainly didn't blame her father for the ongoing trainwreck that was her romantic life.
Not until the last day of her life, anyway, and by then she was blaming him for far more important things.
Simone used to tease her boyfriends that they fell for her father first. Charles Deveaux, good-natured benevolence rumbling in his every word, was everyone's ideal dad; all understanding, never disparaging, and no restrictions. (This had made for an adolescence free of rebellion for Simone, for what was there to rebel against? ) At some point while finding Isaac high yet again and listening to Peter Petrelli making overtures by telling her something about them being brother and sister, she wondered why she never attracted men who didn't need someone to look after them anymore. It was an idle thought, just something to distract herself from the reality of her father's impending death, and she didn't pursue it.
"Isaac sketched it for my dad's 70th birthday," Simone said to Peter, looking at the drawing that showed her father, her irrevocably dead father, and feeling nothing but numbness inside. "You know, I've been trying to get him clean forever. The one time I need him. Feels like everybody's leaving me."
"I'm not going anywhere," Peter said, and though she knew it was a mistake sleeping with him so soon after the break-up with Isaac, she chose to believe him. She didn't have a type. She didn't. Peter was very different from Isaac, talk about destiny and the future aside. She had just about enough of tortured boys who manipulated one to get what they wanted and made one watch while they self destructed. Maybe it was selfish, wanting to be the one taken care of for a change, but she had held her dying father in her arms this morning, and if she ever had been entitled to selfishness, surely it was now?
As it turned out, this would be the last time she would ever talk to Peter Petrelli, save one.
Simone was an only child, which was, perhaps, why her father took to her boyfriends so easily. Sometimes she wondered why he never actually adopted someone. At any rate, she didn't get siblings. Or perhaps it was more accurate to say that she didn't understand what kind of relationship Peter thought he had with his brother, and vice versa. People called her an enabler for putting up with Isaac's heroin addiction for such a long time; oh, not to her face, of course, but she knew they did. But if Isaac had ever described her as suicidal in front of everyone, she would have broken up with him a long time ago; she'd never have forgiven him. She certainly wouldn't have gone for a Sunday visit a few days later. Things started to get more bizarre from there.
First she found herself watching Nathan Petrelli destroy one of Isaac's paintings in a grim, systematic way that left Simone, whose passion for art always felt to her more trustworthy than her relationships with artists, genuinely scared.
"No," she cried, "what are you doing? No!"
"Saving his life," Nathan replied tersely.
Later, she suspected that it was both the destruction of the painting and that insufferable high-handedness which drove her to give Peter the photo showing his own death, or at least as much as it was the wish to help him, and the wish to honor her father's dying words. It wasn't an easy suspicion to live with, but she had ample time to contemplate it. If she could have talked to Peter again, she might have told him about it. Given the Nathan precedent, he obviously was the type to forgive mixed motives. But as it turned out, she never spoke to Peter again.
Simone hated hospitals. Not because of her father's death; her father had chosen to spend his last weeks in his home, after all, and it was his room that still smelled of him. Hospitals held no memories of her father for her. No, she hated them because of all the times she had collected Isaac from them, had hoped in vain that this time, he really wanted to get clean. Hospitals were filled with betrayed hopes.
Visiting Peter during the two weeks his coma lasted didn't change that association. It only added awkwardness. Every single time she came, one or several of the Petrellis were also there, and though she had met each of them individually before, notably Mrs. Petrelli, who was a friend of her father's, being in the same - small - room with them and Peter at the same time was new and an experience she could have done without. There was the shared physical resemblance, which up close was greater than she ever noticed before and made her feel like an alien. There was the way Mrs. Petrelli treated her as an agreeable new acquisition.
"I didn't have the chance to tell you this before," Mrs. Petrelli said, "but I am truly happy for you and Peter. You make such a lovely couple. Charles would be proud."
She made it sound as if the wedding was imminent when Simone had no idea how she felt about Peter, other than conflicted. She also made it sound as if the whole thing had been arranged instead of Simone following her instinct, which was truly disconcerting. In the end, Simone found she preferred dealing with Nathan. Making terse conversation fueled by mutual dislike was at least something genuine.
When he asked her to show him Isaac's other paintings, she wondered whether he truly wanted to find out about them, or whether it was just a way to make sure she would not be alone with Peter once he left. Which was probably just paranoia and projection on her part. After all, she knew why she agreed, his treatment of the last painting she had shown him notwithstanding.
As it turned out, Peter woke up and took off for parts unknown at the same time Isaac reentered her life, finally clean and obviously expecting her to take him back. At this point, something in Simone wanted to enter a nunnery, or at least take a very long vacation from any relationship, but she didn't have the luxury.
She was worried about Peter, had been worried since he had left for Texas, and by now the constant concern felt nearly as familiar as her old fear for Isaac. The worst thing about it was that there was no resolution in sight. Peter didn't call her, Peter didn't write; he could be dead in the streets somewhere or trying the hermit life in Tahiti for all she knew. At least with Isaac, it had never taken her long to find him when he had started to shoot up again. If Peter had contacted her, they could have talked about everything, they could have become a real couple, rather than two mourners who had come together for a single night so far, or they could have agreed to break it off because it had been too soon. They could have done something. As it was, she felt trapped, frozen in time at the point where she had sent Peter off to Texas.
It wasn't a question of choosing Isaac or Peter; it was a question of being unable to choose at all. Sometimes she thought she was in the process of becoming nothing more than yet another of Isaac's paintings, a figure whose movements would never be her own again.
It was time to try something radical.
"You need to go public," Simone told Nathan Petrelli, "call a press conference, tell everyone about Peter's condition."
It didn't surprise her that his first reaction was to decline.
"Let's tell them everything," she pressed. "Isaac painting the future, Hiro stopping time. Even you - what you all can do is incredible. It's time people know what's happening. The truth."
By now, his usual cool politeness towards her was changing into something she recognized from the time he had looked at Isaac's Homecoming painting. Well, there was no black paint he could throw on her.
"You think they'll burn you at the stake?" she challenged. He looked at her as if he had never seen her before. His voice was clipped and very precise when he replied:
"Yeah, pretty much. Because that's what I would do. I'd round us all up, stick us in a lab on some island in the middle of the ocean."
After being ordered around by him several times, after the various ways in which he had made it clear he regarded her as an intruder without ever saying as much out loud, she had wondered what it would feel like to have power over him. Whether it would make up for the increasing sense of passivity and helplessness his brother had given her. Now the moment was there, and it didn't feel satisfying at all.
The truth was that she couldn't risk it, plain and simple. She couldn't risk that he was right, that there would be a public witch hunt. You didn't gamble with people's lives and their freedom. Certainly not to have an out from your own personal dilemmas. A woman who could do this wasn't the one her father had raised her to be.
Still, there was no reason not to let Nathan worry a while longer. She felt petty enough for that, made a cutting remark about Peter seeing hope where Nathan saw disaster, and made her exit.
The awful thing was that she couldn't see hope anymore, either.
Simone had postponed dealing with her father's estate for a while now. There had been always more urgent things to distract her, and frankly, she hadn't felt up to it in addition to everything else. Now it looked like a good idea. At least it wouldn't have anything to do with Peter Petrelli, Isaac Mendez or the next step in human evolution.
Of all the assumptions she had made in recent weeks, this turned out to be the most misguided.
Finding photos that showed her father with her client, Mr. Linderman, a younger Angela Petrelli and some other people she did not know was somewhat disconcerting because neither her father nor Mr. Linderman had ever mentioned they knew each other. Perhaps there was a sensible explanation for this, but the fact nagged at her, and so Simone did something she usually would not have considered. She opened her father's email account, and typed Linderman's name in the search function.
This is how the world ends, she thought later, the fragment haunting her again and again, though she found herself unable to complete the quote. This is how the world ends.
It took her hours to read through the various mails, the majority of which were not addressed to Linderman himself; some were addressed to Angela Petrelli, others to strangers, but they all included Linderman's name, and they all painted a picture as stark and striking as anything Isaac had done.
The realization that her father had lied and kept secrets throughout her life was the least painful.
He had known about the coming explosion. He had known long before Isaac painted it, he had known for years. As opposed to the majority of his correspondents, he didn't think it was inevitable, but that was small comfort; he conceded that the chances of it happening were really high.
And he had not warned anyone. There were arguments about the Petrellis in his correspondence, a wry exchange with Linderman about which brother would "save us", but it never seemed to have occurred to her father to tell Peter any of this. A disaster that could kill millions of people, and he treated it like an intellectual chess game. Not something he had any responsibility to prevent.
He hadn't even thought of warning her. His own daughter. He had been willing to let her burn if he was wrong.
When she had finished throwing up, Simone made a copy of every message and burned them on a cd. She would go to Isaac, first; she owed him that. Isaac had been afraid he was insane because he kept seeing this, and it had nearly killed him while her father had kept his knowledge to himself and watched her believing the drugs had finally ruined Isaac for good. Then she'd go to the police. She would probably be dismissed as a lunatic at first, but hopefully, the emails, of which some were sent to and from a reputed mobster, would at least secure her some attention. Simone just knew she had to act.
This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.
Sharp pain in her chest, Isaac stares at her in disbelief, gun in his hand, Peter appears out of nowhere to catch her, and all Simone can think of is that it wasn't that she fell for the wrong guy, repeatedly, it was that they did, too. They all fell for her father.
She tries to warn them, but there is blood in her mouth. They fuck you up, your mum and dad. Not so cheap after all, but really, so many people's lives at stake, and it's not the last thought she wants to have. She wants to think of something clever and helpful, but she can't. There is a deafening sound in her ears, a drum, a slowing drum, and if they are talking to her, she can't hear it.
There's the hope one of them will look in her handbag and find the cd, but that's not a huge hope. They're her boyfriends, after all. Her type.
Self destructive to the last.