2007-12-17: All That Glitters Is...

Starring:

Nathan_icon.gif Angela_icon.gif

Summary: Nathan takes his mother shopping for a Christmas present for Heidi. As always, there are ulterior motives at work.

Date It Happened: December 17, 2007

All That Glitters Is…


NYC, Upper East Side

It's a crisp winter afternoon and as crowded as Manhattan generally is. At this end of town, at least most people are dressed nicely, people between meetings moving at brisk paces to catch taxis, enter buildings, cross roads when they're not meant to. The clouds above hold nearly a metallic quality, threatening to unleash either rain or snow at any minute, and ice lines the edges of pavement, but for now? It's dry.

During the final days of Christmas last year, Nathan spent the time high on morphine and battling nightmares while the world stayed quiet and still and painful around him. Right now, all he has to worry about is getting in his Christmas shopping in on time, which he could probably send a helpful employee out to do for him, but instead, he's moving down an Upper East Side avenue with someone he normally takes with him to make sure he makes the right decisions: his mom.

Leave it to her to help him choose a nice necklace for his wife. Fate of the world? Not so much.

"But she says she likes scarves," is his argument right now, as they walk at a more leisured pace than those around them. He's dressed nice in a suit, sans a tie and instead, his own woolen scarf wraps once about his neck and tucks into his coat. Now, Nathan just prays they don't run into anybody he knows.

Angela would argue that being laid up in a hospital is preferable to braving the malls this time of year, which is why she's agreed to accompany her eldest son on his latest excursion into the holiday discount jungle. She walks alongside Nathan, one gloved hand on his arm and the other nestled in the warmth of her coat pocket — for now, she can pretend that all is right with the world, that what Heidi expects to find under the Petrelli family tree on Christmas Day is the greatest, most insurmountable of their worries.

"And you like having clean underwear," she points out, her tone low and wry as it often is, "but that doesn't mean Heidi should get you some every time your birthday rolls around." Angela sniffs. "In this weather, scarves are a necessity, not a gift. You may as well get her a new set of tires for her car."

"Point taken," Nathan mutters and clears his throat, casting a slightly resentful look over the rows of stores, as higher class as they are, that await them. "Last time I went to get her a present I came home with two Rottweilers. I'm aiming for some kind of happy medium." A jewelry store looms into existence, and not for the first Christmas shopping trip with his wife in mind, Nathan finds himself inevitably drawn, veering both he and Angela across the pathway. It's just the safest if not the most creative default - no one can not appreciate gold and diamonds.

As much as Angela appreciates gold and diamonds, her eyes are drawn elsewhere in the store as Nathan leads her up to the window. Although the glass is covered in numerous fingerprints and greasy smudges where people have pressed their hands and noses against the pane to get a better look at the jewelry inside, she surveys the selection on display as though there wasn't something separating her from the deals that have been boldly advertised outside. "I've always been partial to pearls," she murmurs, more to herself than to Nathan. "Tahitian Black. I remember your father…" The thought never completely forms on the tip of her tongue, and before Angela can finish her sentence she draws her lips a thin line that twitches at the corners. "Well." Never mind your father. "What about something in lapis lazuli, to match her eyes?"

A necklace on prominent display, a gold thing with various precious stones inlaid into what looks more like a collar than a true necklace design, is what first garners his attention if only because his eyes were drawn to the bigger price tag. Not something Heidi would wear in a million years, this Nathan at least is aware of, and so he glances over everything else. At his mother's suggestion, he looks towards a necklace priced at something like $400 - silver and white gold, with a pendant of the mentioned gemstone cut into a hanging diamond shape. "Well she's told me in the past that she hates yellow gold," he says. See look, he remembers things.

Inside the store, it's a hell of a lot warmer, enough that Nathan loosens his scarf a little. A well-dressed employee starts to approach, and Nathan gives them a dismissive smile and a shake of his head, and they politely veer away. The place is spacious, and not at all very crowded. Gives them room to move. And talk. "I'd been meaning to talk you before the holidays, actually," he inputs, eyes on the displays rather than the woman accompanying him on his shopping trip. "I'm not sure if Peter ever got there first."

"Talk isn't the word I'd choose to describe Peter's approach." Like Nathan, Angela avoids looking at him as she speaks. She removes her hand from his arm and plucks off her gloves, one finger at a time, before folding them up and temporarily storing them in one of her interior coat pockets. "Accuse. Denounce. Implicate. I asked him to tell you and Heidi to expect me at your home, but I'm afraid things have been so busy lately I haven't been able to find the time. How are the boys?" It's a classic diversionary tactic — one that Angela expects to work, judging by the confident note in her voice. "It's been so long since they saw their grandmother."

"The boys are fine," Nathan dismisses, not about to be diverted so readily. He seems less than impressed with the words she pins to Peter, glancing at her with a raised eyebrow and moving towards a display case set in the middle of the room. Brooches and earrings. He looks at her through the glass. "Come on, ma, did Peter really say anything to you that wasn't true?" However, there's a hint of honest question in his voice - considering he's not quite aware of this conversation as he'd otherwise like to be.

"You know how your brother is." It's a simple statement, not a lament. "He doesn't like secrets, and if he suspects you're keeping something from him, he refuses to let it drop — damn the consequences." Angela does not elaborate as to the topic of her discussion with Peter; in the grand scheme of things, that was a long time ago and until now she was content to put it behind her and continue pretending it never happened. "I don't like to think about it, Nathan. You were sick. It was a dark time for all of us."

Nathan doesn't offer protest to her critique - she's more right than he'd care to admit about his brother. His hands join together behind his back, gaze diverting back towards the shiny things and their pricetags, probably looking more the upper-class New Yorker than he has in months, no little thanks to the virus that Angela mentions. "Darker for some, I'm sure. I was sick," he agrees. "It almost cost me my election, but miracles happen. No thanks to your people, as I understand it." This isn't flung at her as a barb, it's pointed out almost mildly.

Now Angela does look at Nathan, turning her head just enough to glimpse him from the side. Peering at his reflection in the glass only tells her so much; sometimes you need the real thing in front of you if you want to get an accurate reading of it. Dark eyes bordering between hazel and gray narrow just a fraction, and Angela tilts her head in an inquisitive fashion. "My people," she echoes, and although her voice isn't as light as it was a few moments ago, it is not without a little mirth, a faint hint of amusement. "Has Peter been talking to you about my people, or did you reach this conclusion all by yourself?"

The lines at Nathan's eyes only just starting to deepen and develop in the last couple of years show when he casts almost a rueful smile. "Peter had to join the dots for me," he says wryly, back straightening some. "But I can't say it didn't make sense. I knew you and dad used to be a friend of Bishop's, and apparently Dr. Aldric knows your name and face too. Were you gonna tell me all this when you came to see me?"

"No." It's rare that Angela is completely honest with her children, but the baldness with which she phrases her response is a good indication she's telling the truth. This time. "If your father was alive today, deeply flawed man though he was, I'm sure he would agree there are some things parents aren't obliged to tell their sons. The details concerning my relationship with Mister Bishop are among them. However…" There's always a however. "Now that you and Peter already know, I suppose there's no point in continuing to deceive you. Just know Arthur and I have never acted with anything but your best interests in mind."

Rather than balk at the notion of kept secrets, as perhaps Peter would, Nathan only goes quiet, which usually means he reluctantly agrees with her. There are things he doesn't want to tell his own sons, after all, no matter what age they reach. A source of conflict between he and his wife, undoubtedly. "You acted out of someone's best interests," Nathan says, agreeably. "I'm not gonna go ahead and accept that they were mine. I stand by what I did, ma." He looks to her, now, rather than pretend to look at jewelry. "Anything else I should know?"

Angela reaches up and brushes the back of her knuckles against Nathan's face when he turns his head to look at her, a tight smile on her lips. "Not just this minute." Not yet. There are still so many uncertainties that Angela is facing — it would be unnecessarily cruel to drag Nathan into the Company's troubles when he has so many of his own to worry about. She may be a ruthless, cold-blooded manipulator at the head of a secret international organization devoted to protecting the world, but she's also a ruthless, cold-blooded manipulator at the head of a secret international organization devoted to protecting the world who loves her sons with all the love she has left to give. As useful a pawn as Nathan might make, she's already learned her lesson in that respect, preferring to keep him as far away from the Company as possible. At least for now.

"Have you settled on something for Heidi yet?"

Nathan stands quiet for a moment, studying her. He wasn't the best reader of people of their family, Peter can run circles around him in that regard, but it doesn't mean he doesn't try. After a moment, he lets out a faint sigh, glancing away towards where the window displays are several feet behind them. "The necklace in the window," he says. The one that will apparently match his wife's eyes. For now, the prior conversation is dropped, Angela's diversion working this time around - but he's not entirely satisfied with it, if body language is to be read. He steps back from her, and moves to summon himself an employee.

Angela doesn't attempt to stop Nathan, nor would she. In her opinion, the necklace in the window is an acceptable choice. Instead, she reaches into her coat pocket and begins pulling on her gloves again, her attention shifting from her son's back to the foot traffic drifting by outside. It shouldn't take Nathan more than a few minutes to flag someone down and then finalize his purchase.

All things considered, it's been a successful outing.

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