2007-08-19: DF: A Lack of Good Excuses


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Summary: Guilt's not the only thing that can eat you alive.

Dark Future Date: August 19th, 2009

A Lack of Good Excuses

WCH - Packing Room

Someone is sleeping off a hangover… as unlikely as that sounds. No evidence of booze anywhere, likely that's been taken away by now, but Nathan now has a headache to recall the evening instead. He lies in the center of the livestock cage, which is connected to a wall at the far end of the expansive packing room, curled up upon a sleeping bag. He's also cleanshaven, so that's nice, but in every other regard, he looks like hell, right hand well bandaged and wearing a mismatch of tuxedo pants and a BDU shirt a size or more too big. As if hearing something, he opens his eyes and lifts his head, blearily scanning the room through the bars.

What Nathan might have been hearing is the skittering of rodent feet not too far away. A few feet from the President's face is a common brown rat that stares at him with small black eyes, whiskers and nose twitching continuously. It's probably not uncommon to see the critters around here. In fact, here comes a second one, wriggling through the bars and coming forward to see what all the fuss is about.

Oh, lovely. It's not uncommon to see the occasional rodent, no, but not usually more than one at once. He supposes the presence of food in the rucksack might be drawing them. Nathan jerks up to sit, scuttling back and kicking the sleeping bag in the rats' direction. "Get out of here," he growls, and thunks his head back against a bar. He really does need to see about better living arrangements if he's going to stay here for… weeks, Ramon said. Months, Ramon said. He grabs a half-emptied water bottle and pitches it at the animals, patience tested.

There's a squeal from the assaulted rats and they scatter, but they don't go far from the cage. Instead, they linger just outside the bars where (hopefully) projectiles can't get them. That's not the only sound, though.

"Mornin'." The voice might be familiar. It bears a Scottish accent and comes from a man who has been sitting quietly in a nice little obscure area of the packing room. There's a handcuff attached to one of his wrists; the other end hangs opened and free. Lock-picking is one of those things he's just good at.

Nathan slowly gets to his feet, walking to the cage side closest to the Scotsman, wrapping his hands around the bars. There's that surreal blood-freeze-in-veins sensation going on that writers talk so much about, but his voice is steady when he talks. "Lachlan," he greets flatly. Not that they ever really liked each other even before Logan occurred.

Lachlan rises to his feet and moves over toward the bars, arms crossed over his chest. He really doesn't look happy, but then again, they never really did like each other before things went to hell. "So," he grunts. "Heard yer the one tha' nabbed Cass." Oh, that might have something to do with the hostility too.

There's a flash of… something in Nathan's eyes. Uncertainty. He studies the man in front of him, judges what to say. Does he know? Did anyone tell him? Think fast, Nathan. "I heard the same," he says, and maybe flippancy isn't the way to go, because he immediately sighs in some regret. "It's complicated, and I'm— really sorry for what happened to her." The kidnapping, that is. Everything else can't simply be summed up in apology, but he'd banking on the idea that that's a secret.

That's what Lachlan is here to find out, actually: what exactly happened to her. Because he's got his suspicions, and none of them are very good. "Oh, yer sorry?" The Scot's got his own brand of flippancy. It's ugly. "Guess tha' makes it all better, then. Sure, buddy, tha's fine! Let's pop on down ta the pub an' have a pint on it!" BFFs. His expression turns colder, harsher. "Wha' the bloody hell happened ta 'er?"

The sarcasm makes Nathan glance down at the cement floor, just to prevent himself from narrowing his eyes at the man he doesn't deserve to get mad at. "She was taken captive and treated like a prisoner," he says, simply, before looking back at Lachlan, gaze even but a frown tugging at his mouth, brow furrowing. "And if Cass has given you nothing more to go on, then it's for her to tell you. Not me."

In a flash, Lachlan's hands snap out through the bars and snag Nathan by the BDU. He then yanks in an attempt to pull the other man right up against the bars — right up into the Scot's face. "Think ye'd better start tellin' me," he growls in a low and dangerous voice, "why m'girl's suddenly scared o' me touchin' 'er. B'cause in 'bout five seconds, yer no' gonna have the chance ta talk much."

He flinches when he's dragged, because he's had a lot of that over the past few days, and when he opens his eyes, they're wide and full of fear, if only for a few moments. Not completely of the threat of physical pain. Just of what Lachlan is asking him to say. Nathan's hands grip Lachlan's wrists as he tries to struggle away. "It's not so simple," he growls back, anger taking over fear. "Understand that. I wasn't myself when it happened, I'd never hurt her, I'd never want to do that to her."

Not what Lachlan wants to hear. Not what he needs to hear, more like. Because that only makes him even angrier and confirms just what he had been dreading. "Oh, ye werena yerself?!" he bellows into Nathan's face, giving him a rough shake for emphasis. "S'tha' it?! Guess ye werena yerself when ye started makin' this country a bloody livin' hell then, were ye?! Tha's a'righ', then! Nathan's just no' 'imself!" Another shake for nearly each sentence before he goes still and goes nose-to-nose with the President. His eyes are positively murderous, his face contorted into a horrific snarl. "Wha' if I tol' ye I'm no' m'self righ' now, then?" he hisses.

His breathing comes in forced, shaky gasps and sighs with each shake, hands gripping hard onto Lachlan's wrists though it doesn't do him much good. He shuts his eyes when he's pulled closer, remembering Cass's words to him. Logan had been the one to ruin this but he'd been the one who hadn't found the strength to stop him. But damnit, it's not the same. Nathan's eyes snap open to regard Lachlan furiously. "That's right," he snaps. "I wasn't. If you stop, I'll explain. Try to explain." His confidence peters out a little by the end of that, gaze lowering again.

One of Lachlan's hands snaps away from Nathan's shirt and instead moves to grip him by the lower jaw — and squeeze. His expression doesn't change. "Wha' makes ye think I wanna hear anythin' else from yer fuckin' mouth? Could bloody kill ye fer wha' ye've done, ye bastard. There's no bloody excuse fer it."

Nathan grunts out a wordless protest when he's grabbed, but otherwise, he goes still, struggling ceasing. Just get this over with, even though his heart is pounding loud enough that he's sure everyone in the vicinity can hear it. He manages not to react to the feeling of Lachlan's fingers digging into likely still bruised skin, but barely. "I know," he says, breathlessly. "God, I know. I'm sorry."

"No' as sorry as yer gonna be," snarls Lachlan. The rats are back. They come skittering into the cage and attempt to start climbing up Nathan's legs. There's just the two of them still, but they're very determined. It should be little question as to what their purpose will be once they reach their goal. They just have to get there first.

Nathan gives a full bodied twitch as suddenly he can feel little claws climbing their way up his pants, eyes showing confusion for a moment, one hand going down to smack the rodents away and off of him. "N-no," he murmurs, with a shudder, voice coming out shakily. "Listen to me. It wasn't me, it was someone else who— " The rats are really very distracting, but in a rush, he tries to get this all out. "No one's told you, but they will - someone took over and made me do all those things." It sounds insane, but that's because it is. And it's all he has. "Like hurting Cass."

Fwackfwack. The swatting is fairly effective. It keeps the rats from progressing too far and even drops one of them. However, it returns to climbing almost immediately, this time going up the back of Nathan's pants rather than the sides or front. The other rat attempts to bite at his fingers when he tries to swipe it off. Lachlan, unfortunately, doesn't seem to be buying that excuse. "Tha's fine, then, b'cause s'no' me tha's makin' those rats crawl up yer legs either. Guess we both've got good excuses."

"I mean it, Lachlan," Nathan rasps out. "It— fuck." That would be a rat biting his fingers, and he jerks his hand away. "It's not an excuse, ask Cass— " Okay, talk later, deal with this now. Now, he struggles against Lachlan, in an effort to properly de-rat, unafraid of grabbing the critters.

The grabbed rats start biting down on the hands gripping them — but there are more rats. Two more start scrambling up Nathan's legs, moving as fast as they can on a struggling man. It's not very fast. So far, Nathan's doing a good job of defending himself from the 'horde'. Lachlan, meanwhile, squeezes the other man's jaw harder and attempts to snag at least one of his arms to further impair his efforts to keep the rats off. "Ye say 'er name one more time, I'll break yer ruddy jaw."

That gets a grunt of pain, as his jaw is squeezed harder, and when Lachlan grabs his arm and the presence of more rats if felt, he panics. Just a little. Just enough. With preternatural strength, Nathan's body seems almost forcibly pulled by an invisible, external source, dragging him abruptly towards the opposite corner of the cage - the upper one, that is, feet leaving the cement floor.

The flight thing is pretty unexpected, so Nathan is successful in yanking himself out of Lachlan's grasp. What rats are still attached to Nathan — there are three — cling desperately to the fabric of his pants. The Scot begins to swear softly, baring his teeth — and more rats start to appear from the shadows. Some start to climb the bars nearest Nathan, others remain on the ground staring up at him with their tiny dark eyes.

It's not the most controlled aspect of his ability. Entirely instinct, and so he hits the bars pretty heavily, as if there was meant to be endless sky above him - which there very much isn't. However, he hovers for a moment, back pressed against the ceiling of the cage as he kicks and tears at the rats on his clothes. But then more arrive, claws clicking against the bars as they approach and— well Nathan was never good at hovering. More rocket than helicopter. With a startled yell as another one attaches itself on to him, he falls abruptly, landing gracelessly onto the cement floor on all fours.

Immediately, what rats he didn't land on start to swarm over Nathan. Some have been injured in the struggle, others killed or dying, but there are plenty. They're not very specific now. They start biting and nipping at anything they can: clothes, ears, face, neck, hands, feet. All over. Some soon start to centralize around the President's back, going for the soft spot between ribs and pelvis.

Nathan doesn't escape without bites and scratches, but he does his best. He can't quite make it to standing up, to flying more, doing the smart thing, because they are coming from everywhere and he doesn't want to stop the struggle to think clearly. So he remains on the floor, almost convulsively twitching from side to side when more and more descend upon him, each nip and bite drawing a sharp gasp or wordless cry from the former politician until he simply curls up as tight as he can, arms protecting his head and face.

Lachlan could kill him now. Those rats would eat a hole through Nathan if he told them to. They are, in fact, attempting to do so. They haven't gotten into anything vital, of course, but there's at least some damage over the President's left kidney. But something rational comes over Lachlan. What Cass said to him all along last night rings true: if he goes through with this, he'll put them all in danger. And then he and Cass will never get away to Scotland, away from Nathan, away from all this.

The rats ease off almost as suddenly as they swarmed and they are soon disappearing back into the shadows. The President will have gotten away from this with relatively minor wounds. Lachlan turns away from the bars and starts looking for the medkit he thought he saw earlier.

They're gone. Nathan still has his eyes squeezed shut, as if wary of them being clawed at, but slowly, he peeks, just in time to see the rodents skittering away. That was scarier than it should have been - especially now that his BDU shirt is damp with blood from where one got too successful. With a groan, he jerks the torn shirt open at the buttons, inspecting the wound at his midsection. It's still shallow, but it could have gone deeper. Dragging himself up to sit, Nathan turns his gaze towards Lachlan, watching him warily, silently, a myriad of scratches of various depth marring his face, arms, hands, everything.

Lachlan locates the medkit and pulls out some cleaning agent, bandages, and gauze. He closes it again, then heads toward the bars to hand off the items. "Here," he grunts. "Whoever the fuck ye think ye are, if ye ever come near m'girl again, I'm no' gonna stop the rats from eaten righ' bloody through ye."

He could explain now. Explain the nature of the man who hurt her. But that seems a bit like poking the sleeping bear with a stick - even an apology could bring the rats back. It's over now, and as far as Nathan is concerned, no one has to know. He nods mutely, subdued, and shuffles forward, taking the supplies handed to him before abruptly withdrawing away from the bars.

Lachlan, in turn, sinks onto his backside and leans back against the bars with a sigh, resting his elbows on his knees and holding his face in his hands. So tired. Tired of everything. Never in his life has Lachlan been more ready to get the hell out of this country. He waits for Nathan to finish with the medical stuff so that he can put away the excess.

He's no nurse. Peter was the nurse. Nathan was the big brother that teased him about it. Irony. Shedding the camo shirt and tossing it with some disgust towards the corner of the cage, he does what he can to tend to his wounds, gritting his teeth as he cleans the deeper ones, swearing roughly when he sets about seeing to the one at his midsection. He tries to make it fast, not wanting to have Lachlan linger around more than necessary, and when he's done, he places the excess items outside the bars, just beside the man. "If I ever go near her again," he says, roughly, "I won't stop you." Because Nathan has no intention. But Logan would.

Lachlan grunts wryly at that, then gathers up the unused medical supplies and replaces them in the kit before he starts to head out. He says nothing more. He already said everything he ever wanted or needed.

Nathan curls an arm around the bars once Lachlan moves away, and rests his head against one, listening to the foot steps, the door opening. "I'm sorry," he says again, voice low, though possibly too quietly for Lachlan to hear by the time he's at the door, but then again, sound can carry in this space. Then, quieter, angrier, "I'm sorry," hitting his head once against the bar.

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