Peter squeezed his eyes shut and counted to ten. He opened his eyes and saw the same thing he saw last time. "How can this be possible?" he whispered in a voice a few octaves higher than he was used to.
He raised his hand, Elle's hand, and touched his cheek, Elle's. It didn't matter how it was possible – it was happening. Why was it happening?
Someone had to have done this to him, he supposed. Some superpower turned him into his former tormentor. Was it the company that did it?
He froze as a man in a lab coat stepped out a door and walked toward him. Peter was struck by how tall the man looked compared to Elle's considerably smaller statue.
"Miss Bishop," the man acknowledged, nodding his head briefly as he passed.
Peter didn't respond, unsure if Elle would even bother replying. The man walked by without incident, and as he exited the hall, Peter released a breath he didn't realize he held.
Okay, well, it wasn't the company that changed him and put him here. It was someone else, but who? Why? He tried to think: what was the last thing he could remember?
There was nothing at first, and then it came back like a rockslide. Nathan had been shot… He noticed the person who shot him. He gave chase, cornered him, and seen… himself.
"And then this," he whispered aloud with Elle's voice. If he was attacked by… by a version of himself from the future, that had to be the reason he now looked like Elle.
A thought occurred to him. He raised his hand and tried to produce electricity, focusing on everything that was Elle Bishop. Nothing happened.
"No power, huh?" he muttered. "Figures."
Suddenly needing to see his face, Elle's face, he stood and started looking for a bathroom. He was taken with how different it felt to walk. He was wearing high heels, not to mention possessing a completely different fat distribution, and his whole center of balance was thrown off. Regardless, somehow he knew how to move instinctively.
People were around. He could hear them and occasionally catch glimpses of them through open doorways. "Stay cool, Elle," he whispered to himself. It took him a moment to realize what he'd said.
"Peter," he corrected. He needed to stay focused, needed to remember who he was.
He found the restrooms. Without thinking, he headed for the men's room, but realized at the last moment what sex he seemed to be and made a quick turn into the ladies' room. The door felt heavy as he pushed it open, and he found he had to put more work into his muscles than he usually did.
He made a beeline for the mirror, and then stared. It was Elle, the beautiful girl who brought him his pills in the morning everyday for three months, who tormented him with electricity, who he kissed… "Elle," he said aloud, watching Elle speak his name… speak her name. "Peter," he said instead, and it was like before.
What was that she said? "The shrinks diagnosed me as a sociopath with paranoid delusions," he said, quoting her and watching his reflection reflect her. "But they were just out to get me because I threatened to kill 'em."
"Heh, very funny," came a voice behind him.
He turned to see a closed stall a few yards away. The toilet flushed, and a second later the door opened to reveal a tough-looking girl. She was taller than him now, but probably shorter than his real body.
"See you got your arm back," she remarked, stepping beside him to wash her hands.
Arm back? He tried to figure out what she meant. Elle lost her arm?
"Saved the doctor, huh?" the girl continued. "I guess that counts for something. Pity you let Sylar walk away."
"Sylar's alive?" Peter asked, alarmed.
The girl snorted derisively. "Your acting's getting better, but don't try to hide it. Everyone knows by now." She turned off the water and gave him a hard look. "One of us, one of them. You know the rules. You go out to bag and tag a hostile; you take a human with you."
"Okay," Peter agreed, trying to play along. "I'll do that next time." He matched her stare.
After a moment, she turned away. "Whatever, Elle. I'm sure you won't learn 'till you get a bullet in the face from some skittish hostile, but I am trying to do you a favor." She walked out of the bathroom before Peter could respond.
"I could use all the favors I can get," he muttered to himself, wondering who that girl was. She seemed to be a company agent like him. No, like Elle. She didn't seem to like Elle that much. Peter wondered if Elle liked to shock her too.
He held up one of Elle's hands, on which the nails were a bit longer than he would keep them, hoping to get just a few sparks this time. "Come on," he grumbled. He thought about the way Elle scared him with her invasiveness, how he ended up feeling sorry for her as she shared details of her past, how he felt some attraction to her… They had some real connection… He felt it as he kissed her, as Elle let go of her tough façade, as she then jolted him to get her twisted pleasure. There was pain… and there was pleasure. Elle was so beautiful as she smiled…
Usually that would be enough to produce lightning, but this time… Nothing. Not even the slightest spark.
Peter sighed. It looked like his doppelganger had not only rid him of his powers, but even Elle's power. He would have to defeat his future self using only his wits, and whatever limited strength this body had for him.
First things first, he needed to find a phone so he could call Matt to warn him. Then he needed to get back to the city and… do what? How was he going to take on his alternate self while stuck in the body of a woman without even access to her power?
He recalled what the girl told him about taking a 'human' with him to take out a hostile. Maybe that was a good idea. The company was powerful and it had plenty of resources. Maybe he should use the company to take out himself?
He shook his head after considering that for a moment. "No, Elle. Bad idea. I mean, Peter." He sighed at the name game. He was Elle. He looked like Elle. He spoke like Elle. He felt like Elle. He might as well call himself Elle, right?
No. It was important he keep his identity straight. He turned around and bent down to make sure there were no other people in the room who might be in the stalls. Once satisfied, he turned and looked at his face, Elle's face. "My name is Peter Petrelli," he said defiantly, knowing intellectually that it was his name, even as he also felt confident his name was really Elle Bishop. "I am not a girl."
Licking his lips, which tasted of strawberry lip gloss, he pushed the door open and walked purposefully down the hall on a search for a telephone. He glanced in the open doorways, observing what appeared to be lab tests in progress. One room had a shirtless man with four arms lifting weights while two nurses observed him. Peter felt a strange fascination with the man as he pumped the weights. Peter's eyes were drawn to his muscular physique.
"Oh, shit," he whispered in his high-pitched voice as he realized he felt attracted to that guy. He was suddenly gay… Well, straight. But gay. Well, Elle was straight because she was a girl, but Peter was not a girl. So this was straight… but gay at the same time.
He turned away from the man and continued onward. Okay, so that was weird, but… what part of this crazy experience wasn't? He would just do his best to ignore the gay/straight attraction until he could find a way to change back into a guy, and then he could like girls again and not have to worry about any of this confusion.
Turning a corner, he found himself in a busy hallway of company agents. A sniff told him why this area was so popular: the cafeteria was nearby. He glanced around at the agents, most of them looking like any other potential assassins, but some were clearly inhuman. There were pale muscular men who ambled around like humanoid apes, and sleek women with gills. Peter quickly determined that this level of the building was not open to the public.
"Hey, Elle!" a girl called him over. Like him, she looked like a typical girly girl. Well, that was, of course, except for the gun at her side. A 'human'?
"Hey… you," Peter said as he approached, trying to see if he could get his mouth to say the girl's name he never knew the way his hips automatically swayed as he walked in his heels. It didn't work.
"I was hoping I'd get a chance to talk before your dad got his claws in you," she said with a friendly smile. "C'mon." She led him away from the ruckus and they ducked into an empty meeting room.
"Heard about Sylar," she said, taking a seat. "Tough break. Hope you at least jolted him a bit?"
"Of course I did," he agreed at once, giving a little grin as he straddled a chair. He didn't know anything about what happened with Sylar, but he knew how he should react. Elle was always so proud of her ability, after all. "He may be a serial killer, but he turned tail and ran – like a little girl!"
Like me, Peter thought awkwardly, like a girl.
She laughed. "So, I guess you've got an opening, huh? Dr. Suresh left us, so unless you got another partner already…" Trailing off, she smiled hopefully.
Mohinder? He was working for the company? And… "You want to be my partner?" he asked in surprise, an unfamiliar element of condescension trickling into his voice. "What makes you think you're good enough?"
"I can run faster than you, overpower you in a no-powers match, and can sharp-shoot almost as good as you," she stated rapidly. "I can defend you and fight alongside you. If you can get me the opportunity to work with you, I promise you won't regret it."
Seeing how he could take advantage of this to get access to a phone, Peter got up and shut the door so he could talk to her without being overheard.
"Elle, what are you doing?" she asked with alarm. She scrambled out of her seat.
"Nothing," he said, walking over to her. The door would muffle the sound, but it made sense to whisper directly to her ear to be safe.
She backed away as he approached, until her back bumped up against the wall. "Um, Elle?"
"Shh," he hushed her, stepping in close and leaning in. There was the odd sensation of his breasts bumping against hers. He reached out and grabbed the side of her face, pushing her ear near his mouth.
Before he could speak, she stiffened and began to stammer, "P-please don't, Elle. It's okay if you don't want me, just please d-don't…"
"Hey, it's okay. I'm not going to jolt you," he assured her as he finally realized what she was thinking. "I just want to talk."
"Okay," she agreed, clearly very nervous. "Let's talk, Elle. Let's sit down and talk. Incidentally, if you hurt me, your dad will punish you, so no matter how much fun you may think—"
"I'm not going to hurt you!" He sighed. "Just listen to me, okay?" Lowering his voice to a whisper, he said, "Look, I need to make a call outside the building that won't be monitored. If you can help me, maybe I'll help you. You want to be my partner? I can make it happen."
"Elle, you know you're not supposed to make outgoing calls," she hissed in an anxious whisper. "Are you having a secret affair?"
"Well, I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you," he responded with a wink that came naturally. "Can you help me?"
"Y-yeah," she agreed. "I guess I can get you a disposable cell phone… Elle, please say 'I promise I won't kill you'?"
"I promise I won't kill you," he repeated, and she finally started to relax.
"Cool. Yeah, I'll do that for you, Elle." She slid along the wall, removing herself from Peter's grip, and danced around him. "I'll just be going now." Opening the door, she practically ran away.
He sighed. He was transformed into a sociopath, a girl no less. He was trapped in the company building, and his only hope was a company agent who was probably terrified Peter was going to torture her. How could his future self do this to him?
It was clear that his future self was not at all the person he wanted to become. His future self was an enemy, a villain as much as Bob was. His future self tried to kill Peter's brother, and did this to Peter. Peter felt murderous rage flow through him, and he knew his future self would pay.
Sparks burst from his fingers.
Author's Note: Yeah, so this is like the episode of Buffy where Willow is transformed into Warren, except that was a good woman turning into an evil man and this is a good man turning into an evil woman. There is nothing new under the sun. Whatever. I'll try to make this interesting.