Hey y'all =)=)=).
Thank you so so much for all the wonderfully kind responses to this fic! I need to get round to replying to them all, but I figured if I get this ridiculously belated chapter up first it might be better appreciated =P.
Other than the excuse that I've had a lot on my plate for these past months, there's nothing else to say except that I hope it has been worth the wait! =D. There's not much Nathan in this chapter *sniffle*, but a lot of Peter and our mystery attacker, even though a lot of you have alrwady figured out who it is.
Anyways, enjoy! ;)
IAMX - Song Of Imaginary Beings
Elliot Minor - Shiver
Chapter Twelve - Just Not Ready Yet.
There are those moments in life: the ones that truly matter and that you will remember for countless years to come. They're the ones that you call your memories, because everything else that happens pales in comparison to them.
There are happy moments like your first day of school, your first kiss or realising that, at that very second there is nowhere else that you'd rather be.
But not all moments are happy ones: they are not the defining acts. It is harder to remember happier times than sad, because tears and pain shape who we will become. How you respond to a desperate situation is a reflection of your true self: these times create us in an image that can never be erased.
There is a term for these situations – dire ones with a no-win situation – and it is called fight or flight. Will you stand your ground and face your fears head on, or run and know that for such a long time afterwards, you will be running still?
And, as searing pain tore through Peter's skull, eradicating all thoughts for torture, he created his image. Even as blood began to trickle down his brow, dripping into his eyes and turning his vision red, the young Petrelli fought. He cried out, voice cracking with its intensity and threw back his elbow into the man's thigh.
The pain stopped abruptly and Peter pitched forward, released from the invisible hold that had restrained him. He crashed down into the water listlessly, squeezing his eyes closed against the fire upon his brow. Water seeped around his ears, his hair fanning out around his head as blood seeped out in veins around him.
It was a bittersweet way to die after all he had been through. Drowning in a puddle… he could have thought of countless more impressive deaths for him to experience.
A buzzing in his ears began to lull him into darkness, the first tendrils of water creeping between his lips and into his open nostrils. He didn't want to breathe it in just yet – he wanted to know that no matter the situation, he had resisted until the end.
Vaguely, he was aware of a tugging sensation around his neck as the collar of his shirt was gripped. Before he could analyse the feeling further, Peter was wrenched backwards. He gasped, hair flicking back as he was dragged into the air, feet leaving the ground. He found his gaze staring skywards for a moment, futilely wishing that he would have the strength to fly to safety once more.
His wish was granted…
Like a useless rag doll, Peter was tossed hard across the alleyway, slamming into a wall with enough force to rattle his bones. He grimaced, sliding to the floor as bricks tore and grated at his pale skin. A strangled noise slithered past his lips as his body finally stopped in its descent, resting brokenly against the cold ground with no intention of moving.
Ribs shifted beneath his skin and he hissed in pain, feeling the damaged bones edge dangerously close to his heaving lungs. Attempting to calm himself, Peter blinked towards his attacker: face still shrouded in mysterious shadow.
"W-Who are you?" the young Petrelli demanded, cursing the waver in his voice. The man before him remained perfectly still, as unmoving as an abstract painting in fading light. Wincing, Peter coughed as his chest ached, his previous injuries no where near ready to take this kind of abuse. He felt the bitter tang of iron at the back of his throat, swallowing rapidly to prevent what he knew to be blood from spurting forth.
Eyes watering as the painful tickle beneath his ribs refused to be abated, Peter hoarsely persisted: "Who are you?"
Peter's answer was not one he had expected. His attacker thrust out his arm and Peter felt his body seize, eyes widening as he realised moving was now beyond his control. The hand, splayed out forcefully, rose steadily and the young nurse was lifted with it. His legs hung uselessly beneath him as he was dragged mercilessly up the wall, bricks digging into his clothes and tearing at scarred flesh.
A low grunt rumbled in the back of Peter's throat, followed by another hacking cough as splatters of blood adorned his lips. It had been a mistake to come here and stupidly, he was only realising this now. Hanging his head down as the man approached whilst holding him in place with his freaking mind, Peter allowed his dark bangs to flop protectively over his face.
With a sharp jolt, Peter's head was flung back against the wall and pinned there. He spluttered again, the strong taste in the back of his throat intensifying at the movement. His bright hazels, rimmed with the first signs of fever, squinted down at his opponent whose hat still safeguarded his identity.
Peter's brow furrowed at the man's puzzled utterance. He instantly regretted the action as white pain reverberated through his brain and he squeezed his eyes closed tightly. After the stabbing agony reduced to bearable throbbing, his lids slid open once more. He blinked downwards at his attacker who was still, creepily, watching him in silence.
Huffing, the man lowered his arm and stepped back as Peter was released from his hold. The youngest Petrelli crashed down hard onto his knees, wincing as the force travelled up his bruised thighs. With his strength rapidly diminishing, Peter crumpled in on himself, falling face first towards the cold floor. A shiver racked his thin frame as the tiny rain drops continued to settle over his skin.
Peter gasped, forcing one hand beneath his body and clutching at his tight chest in desperation. He felt warm blood rise up, running over the edge of his bottom lip and continuing its trail downwards. Oh God, this is not good…
"You're not who I was expecting."
Gagging at the harsh taste in his mouth, expelling more blood unwittingly with the action, Peter titled his head upwards. Peering through the wet bangs of hair and past his wavering vision, his gaze found the man stood over him dominantly. He made no move to help, but none to attack either.
"What…?" he eventually managed to force out, a ragged breath ripping through his lungs upon speaking. Worriedly, Peter noticed that he was beginning to drift, his vision blurring and losing all focus. He hissed in pain as old and new injuries merged together to torture him further. Unconsciousness, he realised, would soon follow.
Calculating eyes remained hidden beneath the cap, but Peter knew they were staring at him sincerely. "You look like him, the one I came for," the man's head tilted in consideration of his young victim. "But there's something different about you. You have something that he doesn't."
Peter simply shook his head, weakness seeping through his veins and forcing his forehead to the ground. His body heaved with painful breaths, the cold clutching at his lungs and hindering an already wounded chest. The stab wound in the back of his leg had begun to twinge awkwardly as he attempted to fold his body inwards, for warmth more than anything.
Managing to draw in another breath and courage to answer, Peter whispered softly, "I don't know what you're talking about."
A small chuckle rose from the back of the man's throat and Peter tensed as footsteps approached closer. He heard the rustling of clothes as his assailant crouched before his shivering frame. The hand that had been clutching at his chest drew away, curled into an impossibly tight fist that was prepared to strike. He just had to wait for the opportunity.
With the unnerving lack of physical touch, the youngest Petrelli brother felt his chin being lifted and he flinched at the proximity of the other man's concealed face. He felt hidden eyes studying him with amounting curiosity and, despite his screaming body, Peter maintained a defiant expression on his face at all times.
After a few seconds, his attacker nodded slowly, as though solving some unspoken riddle. Narrowing his hazel eyes, confusion and pain reflected in their depths, Peter waited for something, anything, to happen. The cap tilted up slightly and although his features were still obscured by darkness, Peter met the cold, swirling abyss-like eyes that stared at him with horrified ones of his own.
"You're not ready yet."
Before he could even formulate an appropriate question, the harsh grip that held his head upright was released. Unable to support himself in time, his brow collided hard with the concrete, an old wound splitting and giving way to a torrent of fresh blood. Peter groaned, finally managing to get his knees underneath him so that his body was now bowed over in a praying position.
The anonymous man rose to his feet and, pushing away the crippling dizziness, Peter forced himself to sit upright. His arms trembled with the minute effort as he wished, futilely, that he had remained with Nathan where, despite his brother's flaws, he had always felt protected.
More than once, darkness swam around him, momentarily blinding him to the world. But, with incredible stubbornness, he held on and focussed on the figure before him. The man's back was turned, shoulders tensed against the bitter chill as he remained completely ignorant of the injured nurse behind him.
Turning his head to the side, Peter spat out a large amount of blood, wincing at the tug it made on his chest. The pain had started to numb, but he knew that it wasn't a good thing. His medical guess would be that one of his cracked ribs had curved inwards and nicked his lung, causing internal bleeding. It was a serious condition on its own, but coupled with the slight bout of hypothermia that he was developing; well, things were looking grim.
But his curiosity, as misplaced as it was at this moment, kept him going, "R-Ready for what?"
The man's shoulders tensed further, before suddenly relaxing and drooping downwards. Peter watched with unease as he turned fully on one foot, graceful and immaculate. The youngest Petrelli could almost see the calculating smile forming across the man's shadowed face and his fists curled of their accord.
Noticing the slight action, Peter's attacker huffed, the noise escaping like a strangled laugh. "That won't help you." He contemplated for a moment, Peter's knuckles standing out as a stark white in the dull alleyway. Even he had to admit, the kid had guts.
"Answer m-my question," Peter spat, ignoring the overwhelming fear that worked its way through his body. Blood dribbled past his lips again, drawing harsh trails down his chin and falling onto his trembling thighs.
He felt the panic of his previous attack rising to the forefront of his mind, images of that fateful night creeping into his rapidly diminishing vision.
The attacker shot out one finger and Peter felt his spine stretching. He grimaced as his body was straightened in his knelt position, chin tilted upwards in mocking defiance in the man's powerful hold. Blinking away tears, Peter's lungs constricted, his bright hazels widening in pure panic at the lack of air.
The world began to fade around him, vision tunnelling until the tall figure was all he could see. The sounds of rain pattering against the ground, even of his own harsh breathing dimmed, as though his head was submerged beneath water. He realised with amounting regret towards his big brother, that he was dying again and this time he wasn't going to be able to fly to safety.
"You're not ready," came the malicious tone, like a whisper sinking through the haze that surrounded the youngest Petrelli brother's mind. He shivered involuntarily as the man leant in closer, still holding him with invisible hands. Shock settled deeply within the core of Peter's body and his eyes began to roll, flashing their whites horrifically.
He felt the telekinetic hold release him, numbness gripping him tight as he crashed back down against the floor. Each exhale shuddered out of his body, fleeing in desperation to escape the young nurse's pain. The darkness grasped at him and Peter embraced, sparing only a small thought for how familiar this sensation was becoming.
Peter was unconscious in moments, his attacker studying him with an undecided expression. Lips curling at the corners, he nudged his cap upwards, only now revealing his identity to his would-be victim. His deep eyes narrowed, reading the man before him as easily as he could have been reading a book.
"You're not ready for me yet."
Narrowing his eyes, he twisted, glancing up at the overcast sky. He squinted, focussing on a small silhouette moving in the distance, cutting through the clouds towards them. Smirking at the ridiculous cliché of a superhero that was making its way towards him, the man replaced his cap. His shoulders tensed again against the cold and he briskly walked away, disappearing with practised ease.
He mused, for a moment, that the young man in the alleyway would never truly know how lucky he had been. After all, it wasn't every day that he left any survivors in his wake. There was always something he wanted from them and for that reason alone none of them could remain breathing.
This time, he decided that he could let it slide. There would be others out there and they were all just waiting for the cruel finger of fate to point a serial killer in their direction.
Did that update kinda satisfy the long wait? As much as I wanted to have Peter kick some butt, in his present condition it seems a little unlikely =/. Oh and Nathan does kind of make an appearance after all, as a speck in the background lol. But he's coming for his baby bro so that's all that matters really, right?
Please review and let me know what you thought of it! =)
Hugs, Ami-Rose x x x x x ;)