2009-11-16: After Before



Date: November 16th, 2009


Nathan does as his mother asks and visits Enlightenment Books, where he's told Cass will help him. For the first time since Pinehearst, Cass sees Nathan. It is not a happy reunion, however it's not an unhappy one. Mostly, it's just uncomfortable.

"After Before"

Enlightenment Books

The door to Enlightenment Books swings open as an umbrella'd figure enters the store. Quickly the umbrella is stowed away to reveal the face of Ex-Senator Petrelli. Dressed in a black suit, white dress shirt, and red tie, by all outward appearances he looks like Nathan, but he doesn't remember Nathan. Peering about the store, Brayden hmmms quietly. "This is familiar," he mutters. "I remember working here… maybe…"

Despite all the activity behind the scenes and visiting Erin in the hospital, Cass finds herself back in the store, behind the counter again. The store, as is typical of a rainy Monday, is empty. It's after the lunch rush and not yet the after work crush, so the bookstore owner has a thick book open on the wooden counter in front of her. It's not any sort of cult or occult book. It's a medical tome, which Cass is taking notes onto a pad of paper. When the door opens, she looks up to greet the possible customer, but the smile dies on her lips before it even grows into something sincere. The last time she saw Nathan, he was Logan. And he delivered her into hell to be tested upon and tortured. To see him standing there, in her store with no warning - no explanation - floors her. She can't even say anything to him. She quickly stands, as if ready to make a run for it if the need arises. "Nathan…?" It's certainly a question. Is this Nathan? Is it Logan?

Unfortunately, Brayden hasn't quite gotten used to responding to the name Nathan so it takes several moments 'too long' for him to respond. "Oh right, that's me," he mutters to himself again. "Yes, Nathan." His own name feels foreign on his tongue. He offers her a charming dimpled smile as he approaches the counter. "I'm looking for someone." He glances about the bookstore slyly, ensuring that other people aren't around to hear him. "Are you… are you Cass Aldric?" He blinks as he rests his hands on the counter.

The last thing Cass is expecting is that response from Nathan. While he's gotten disbelief, wonder, disappointment and much of the range of the spectrum at his reappearance, what he gets from the brunette is suspicion. In fact, she takes a step backward. His body language isn't Logan's confident, powerful strides or even Nathan's presidential posture. Her eyes narrow as she watches him approaches the counter, not liking him to get that close. While she told Peter that she wanted Nathan to be found, for him to come back, now that he's here she's not sure she can handle it. Especially if he can't remember who he is. If that's even what's happening here. It's almost a glare that she gives him as she pulls her sweater around herself. "You're kidding, right?"

"Um…" Brayden smiles awkwardly. He frowns at her body posture and studies her carefully before backing up a bit. "I'm not actually," the corners of his mouth twitch upwards in equal awkwardness. He moistens his lips and crosses his arms over his chest. "But," he reaches into his pocket and takes out the family photo (Nathan, Arthur, Angela, and Peter) his mother gave him. "I was told to seek out Cass Aldric to find… him," he points to Peter in the picture. "I need to find him." He stares intently at Cass, his lips still quirky into that same uncomfortable smile.

This is too weird for Cass. Too unfair. This man was her friend once, betrayed her once, and now he doesn't even know who she is. She doesn't know how to answer him. All she can do is stare back at him, studying him in an almost disparaging way. She doesn't even need to look at the photo, she knows what's there, who he's been sent to find with her help. It's Peter. Someone sent him to find Peter and told him that she was here to help him. "I'm Cass," is what she tells him, simply. "Who told you to come here?"

His smile becomes somewhat easier following the admission. He steps forward again and places the palms of his hands on the counter again. "Ma sent me," yes, he knows to call her Ma. "Pete is missing, and she said that he needs me." There's an uneasiness that comes with the idea of Peter being captured, even though Brayden can't remember Peter. With a slight nod he adds, pursing his lips, "And I need him to fix my mind."

At the leaning on the counter, Cass involuntarily leans backward and hugs her sweater closer. "Your mother." Cass has to wonder if Angela knew what she was doing when she sent Nathan to her door. She seems to know a lot about what happened at Pinehearst and if she knew anything about that, she would know of her son's involvement as well as what that meant for her. "I know he is." As for what Nathan needs Peter for, she just stares at him in disbelief. He needs Peter to fix his mind. That, she can't help but laugh at. It's a mirthless, joyless laugh. It's something she can't help. It's such an innocent statement that holds so much meaning for the bookstore owner. "Yeah. I'm sure he does."

He swallows. "She said… she said we were friends once. You and I." Brayden stares at Cass intently. His jaw tightens as the smile disappears from his lips. He's talked to Heidi on the phone. Charlotte was utterly terrified of him until he did his Wizard of Oz/Scarecrow act. He blinks at Cass a couple of times, "Did I…" He nearly chokes on the words, but restarts anyways, "Did … Logan hurt you?" His voice is raspy. Hoarse. Dry. "He did a lot of damage I guess… I can't remember…"

"We were." Before. Their friendship was a strange one, one that Cass can't even really explain. They were so opposite, so different that it seemed like they just had to be friends in order to tilt the universe off kilter. Cass was never scared of Nathan or Logan. It was something much deeper than that - betrayal, heart break - something harder to get over than rational fear. "Before." The past year isn't something that Cass talks about with anyone. Not even Lachlan, who helped her out of the terrors of it. And if this man doesn't remember it, she doesn't know where that puts them. "I don't want to talk about Logan." The repercussions of that man's actions are still being felt. "What do you want me to d—-who are you even?" If he doesn't remember her, or Logan or anything.

Eyes are narrowed at Cass, but Brayden doesn't speak. She doesn't know him. He doesn't remember her. His brain is all broken. Splintered. Finally, he does all he can, no matter how small, "I'm sorry." There's little else he can say. He can't remember what happened to him or what happened to Cass, but he can apologize regardless. His eyes close gently for a moment when he smirks, "You're one of the few who doesn't want to grasp onto me as Nathan." And then quieter he muses, "Most want me to be him." There's a pause and then he flashes her an easy smile, "I'm Brayden. Calvert." He swallows and then tilts his head, "Ma thinks Pete is going to come after me or something and she said… well he's not himself either. She wanted me to find you and meet up with some Packman to help him…" Yes, he just said Packman.

"You can't be sorry." The words that spill out of Cass' mouth aren't exactly bitter, but they're not neutral, either. They're truthful. "You don't know anything to be sorry about." When he restores his memory, when he knows what happened to him, maybe then she can hear those words from him again and she'll seriously consider them. For now, though, they mean nothing to her. Nothing that mean anything. She shakes the long hair out of her face, and tilts her chin up just enough to give the impression of being proud. It sounds like him, even has some of the same mannerisms, but she can tell this isn't Nathan. And even if it were, she's not sure how she would treat him. Maybe it's a little easier to talk to him when he's this…other person. Himself but not. "If I were you, I'm not sure I'd want your brain fixed." Forgetting may just be easier. "And his name is Parkman. Matt Parkman." What is it with the Petrellis and memory loss? They seem to catch it like the flu. Then, she narrows her eyes at him again. "Come after you? Why would he do that?"

"You're right, I guess," Brayden sighs as he examines her. He raises both eyebrows and suppresses a chuckle, "That's what I said to Ma. But then she said these things about destiny —" He offers a fleeting shrug and another sigh before he answers the question, "He's been looking for me, apparently. And I've gotten myself in the press… maybe Pete will see it and look for me…" He furrows his eyebrows. "But I don't know why Parkman is so important in all of this. If Peter isn't himself, then what am I to do about it?"

Looking for him. Since being taken by the government? Interesting. "I don't believe in destiny." Or fate. Cass' future was foretold awhile ago and it involved a death that didn't happen (thankfully). "But don't let me get in your way." Of destiny, finding Peter, whatever it is that may need to be done. "He's a telepath." It's a simple enough answer that she can give Nathan - or Brayden - that can make some sort of sense. "He's supposed to be able to fix Peter. I guess your mother thinks that he can help you, too. Though I don't know what exactly was done to you in the first place. Same with Peter. I'm working off of assumptions, here." But if Peter is looking for Nathan, that's something that she can use to get Peter to come to them.

"Ma admitted to having my memory erased," Brayden states as he runs his hand through his hair. His lips curl downward into a frown. "I didn't believe in destiny, but then…" pause. "…I came here didn't I? From Europe, not remembering who I was. And I have a family. I can't remember them, but they exist." He repockets the photo. "And whether or not I get fixed, Peter needs my help." And something about Brayden obligates him to help Peter.

"Erased? I thought that was something that couldn't be fixed." Maybe Brayden doesn't know what that is, but Cass certainly has heard of it. She's even been subjected to it, even if she - obviously - doesn't remember. "You did." But that doesn't mean she believes in destiny, though. "And they do." As for fixing or not fixing, she just looks down at her medical books and shakes her head again. "He needs help, that's true." Though whether that's Nathan's help or someone else's is up for debate. "Look, Nathan---Braden, whatever you're going by now—-I don't know what to tell you. This is…really weird for me."

"Ma said Peter can fix it. But he needs to get fixed first," Nathan quips. Yes, he's been listening to Angela a lot. Of course, he hasn't had a real chat with anyone else. With a sigh, he shrugs, "It's weird for me too. I didn't know I had a family at all, and it turns out I have a mom, a brother, a wife, and three children." He raises an eyebrow. "And beyond that I didn't think myself the marrying kind. Who knew?" He shrugs again. "And I'm sorry if I'm making you uncomfortable, I can go," he points towards the door with his thumb.

Cass opens her mouth to tell him that he's not exactly the marrying kind. He's cheated on Heidi at least once that Cass knows of, and that he has an illegitimate child, but this is all things she would tell Nathan, not Brayden. She doesn't know this man standing in front of her, she realizes with a start. He's not anyone that she can fall into old habits with - for better or worse. At the jerk of the thumb, she frowns, unsure of what to say here. "Look, it's not you. Well, that's a lie. It is you. It's just not you you. I don't know how to explain it. Nathan was a close friend of mine. And then he…wasn't there any more." And she already said that she didn't want to talk about Logan. "I'm sure this is weird and hard for you, trying to figure out who you were, but you should realize it's harder for the rest of us. Because we know who you were. What you did. And you have no idea."

Brayden hrms. "I have some kind of sociopath camping out in my brain. Or at least, I did. And who's to say he's not still there waiting to get out and pounce?" He frowns as he crosses his arms over his chest. "And believe me, I feel bad for Nathan's friends and family. I do. But his own mother felt this was necessary." He swallows. "I guess it must have been. Maybe Nathan himself wanted it. I don't even know."

"Your mother has a questionable sense of morals," Cass tells Nathan with a flat tone of voice. It's not that she doesn't respect the woman - is even in a little bit of awe of her - but that's the truth. Anyone involved with the Founding of the Company deserves the title of ambiguous. "I'm sure she thinks she's doing the right thing…but she also thinks that what she does is the right thing." There's more than a little of that in Nathan, too. Or there was, anyway. "I can't tell you if he's still there or not. That's up to you. If you want to help find Peter, I'm not about to stop you - he's your brother. I'll keep you in the loop about it."

"Thank you," Brayden says sincerely as he backs up slightly. "Is there anything I can do now? Or do we just wait?" His lips twitch again. He's so unsure of her. He's not her friend, and obviously she's less than pleased with Nathan at this moment. "Is there nothing we can do right now? Can't we go after him or something?"

The thank you is met with a shrug. It's not something that Cass can begrudge him. They're after the same thing for the moment - Peter. "What you can do for me now is not get kidnapped by the government. I'm trying to put together a plan. Until we can get the right information, it's all just wait and see." As much as she hates that, too. They're not friends again, she doesn't even really know who this person standing in front of her is and what it means to her. "Going after him would be a monumentally bad idea. Everyone would get captured and there'd be no one left to help anyone else."

"Alright then," Brayden quips as he keeps backing up. Finally he turns to face the door. Forcing a strained smile, he turns over his shoulder and calls before he opens the door, "In that case, I'll be in touch." He sighs as he opens his umbrella and disappears down the sidewalk, back to his hotel.

"Right." Cass finally steps forward again when Brayden moves backwards, toward the door. It finally feels like there's room to breathe. This whole time, she felt like she'd been trying to take breaths through collapsed lungs. "I'll…" She doesn't know what to say about what she'll do, so the promise just drifts off unfinished, like so many other things between the two of them. What will she do? She'll keep him in the loop, as she promised, but how will she deal with continuing to see him again when he's like this? When he doesn't remember anything? The good times, the bad, the—-everything. Slumping onto the stool behind the counter again, she rests her shaking hands onto the medical text book, feeling like she just ran a marathon.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License