2007-08-17: DF: Being Nathan Petrelli

Starring:

DFNathanReal_icon.gif DFLogan_icon.gif DFJack_icon.gif Ramon_icon.gif

Summary: Jack brings Ramon in to delve into President Petrelli's mind….and the results are unexpected.

Dark Future Date: August 17th, 2009

Being Nathan Petrelli


Weischel Carcass House

Much like a tiger in an exhibit that's too small for comfort, the man known to millions as Nathan Petrelli stalks back and forth within the cattle cage set up in the packing room of the carcass house. From the looks of things, he could be doing better - on the other hand, he could be doing worse as well. The more severe of his injures have been tended to by a skilled doctor, it seems, a bandage wrapping around his right hand, over the space where a ring finger should be. With his uninjured hand, he simply touches the bars, almost compulsively, as he walks by them. It's late in the day, and he has absolutely nothing to do but wait for what occurs next.

The unsteady clatter of Jack's limping footsteps grows steadily louder as he clomps his way down from the converted living quarters in the loft. His face is a heavily welted mess of cuts, scrapes, abrasions, and black eyes. From the tender way he carries his body, it would seem that his aches and hurts aren't confined to the head-and-shoulders area. When he reaches the bottom of the stairs he pulls in a deep, steadying breath and heads for the livestock cage without preamble. He stops short a few feet from the bars and studies Nathan intently. Especially his bandaged hand. His eyes narrow. "Good morning, sunshine."

Jack has his attention, it seems, and he watches the man come limping towards the cage with a mild glare. Logan leans against the bars opposite, and even mutters, "g'morning," devoid of sarcasm. His bandaged hand is cradled against his bare chest, almost protectively. "You look how I feel." It's like a hangover. Only for brawls. His own black eye hasn't cleared up.

And then the door from the upstairs to the stairwell slams open. In comes Ramon, a tight smile on his features as he slinks down the stairs like some sort of angry lion who smells a wounded gazelle. He gets to the bottom of the stairs and that grin widens to a maniac's. "Nathan," he all but purrs. "Mi amigo bueno y bueno!"

"I feel how you look," Jack agrees dryly. He clasps his hands together behind his back and leans a tiny bit closer. "Now then. You remember Ramon, don't you?" He smirks and trails the tip of his tongue along the curve of his upper lip lasciviously. "He's going to… interview you for me. Pick your brain, as it were."

A darting gaze is cast to Ramon, and Logan backs up a step, as if this were to help his situation. "You think you need a telepath for that?" he asks Jack, eyes narrowing. "I'm a dead man, I know that. I don't have anything to lose, nothing I know will possibly help me anymore."

As Nathan back away, Jack steps closer. "Perhaps not. But it will help me." He glances over his shoulder at Ramon. "Take everything you can, but don't break him. Not yet. I'm not done with him."

Ramon's face twists into a sour smile. "Oh, aren't you a lucky man, Petrelli. Don't you just live a charmed life." He comes right up to the cage, his fists flexing and unflexing. No pain for this one. Which means…he has to sift slowly, carefully. His eyes take on an unfocused look. He /is/ capable of digging without hurting his subjects after all. He just has to work at it.

It doesn't have to hurt to put Logan on edge, looking from Jack to Ramon. Perhaps, before this ordeal, he could have masked what he was, but right now? He is quite literally in two minds. On the surface, it's all him, but there's a second voice beyond the first, striking a chord of dissonance. "Get out of my head," Logan mutters, though savagely.

"Invasive, isn't it?" Jack hisses. His eyes flash dangerously and he steps forward again, this time so close that he's almost pressed against the bars. Reckless? Perhaps. "Like steel wool against your brain cells. Don't fight it, Nathan. I'd prefer you intact, but I'll have Mr. Gomez turn your mind into a milkshake if need be."

When Jack glances back at Ramon his smile has a distinctly unsavory edge. "More."

"There's something…" Ramon murmurs, the hate in his eyes and demeanor turning to confusion. He now seems like a man on a trail. He shifts a little bit, tilts his head, and his eyes close completely. There's something wrong here. That second voice…he goes chasing it, trying to capture it, identifying it. What is going on here?

With a groan, Logan lifts his uninjured hand to his forehead, pressing there, as if this would shield Ramon from the conflict of two voices. "Don't," he snarls, louder now. "Get the fuck out of my head."

"Now you know how it feels." What Logan sees, that Jack cannot, that perhaps Ramon can sense, is Nathan pacing on the outside of the cage, opposite to Jack, a mirage who is now watching Ramon intently. "It's Nathan. That's who you're hearing," he says in earnest, unsure of how this works, but trying all the same.

Things have grown quiet all of a sudden. Jack glances at Nathan, then back at Ramon. There's a wordless question written across his face, and it reads: !!!???!?!!!

"Oh shit. I've seen this before." Because Peter sent him to Niki in the past. To help her. "Jack. Jack, you can't hurt him any more, Jack. Okay, Nathan. Its okay Nathan. I hear you man. I see you, buddy." He starts to sweat. Something inside him that was twisted up…untwists. A betrayal made into something understandable. He meets Logan's eyes. "Not you, you son of a bitch. You don't rest easy." Then he turns to Jack to explain. Grimly he says, "This isn't Nathan. He's split himself. I've seen it in one other case. I don't know if it's an evolved thing or what, but…it's like a multiple personality syndrome. This is Nathan's body. But right now he's not the one at the wheel. The one at the wheel is someone else."

"Oh god," Nathan breathes - metaphorically, anyway - before he looks towards Logan. "Get out. Let me talk to them. It's over."

Now, Logan turns to him, a little wild with desperation. Poor Jack, because what it looks like is his former friend apparently yelling at thin air. "No, you gave it up. I don't give a fuck who knows, you lost."

Again, Jack glances from Ramon to Nathan and back. "So you're sayin' he's got an evil twin locked away in his head wot makes him do naughty things?" He scrubs his gloved fingertips over his bruised, stubbly face, then grits his teeth and stares Nathan in the eyes, as if there might be some secret, Zenlike answer secreted away in his gaze. "Fuck. Can't anybody just be a bad guy anymore? I miss the days when we rolled in, shot everybody who was holdin' a gun, then rolled back out." Frustrated and disbelieving, he clenches both hands arounds the bars of the cage door and gives it an impotent, rattling yank.

"I'm going to try to help him out. I didn't get much time to work with Niki." Ramon looks to where he 'saw' Nathan, speaking to apparent thin air. "Stand back. If this hurts /you/, I really apologize." Then he basically turns all his mental strength on Logan, trying to push him back, away, out to the spot where he sees Nathan…and to hold him there so Nathan can…can jump in.

Logan has never been forced quite like that before. The power struggles between himself and Nathan were smooth and painless, natural, fluid. The drugs he'd been shot up with once before had had the same effect. But this is violent and almost unnatural, and Logan roars in pain as the headache from hell suddenly pushes him under, and Nathan wastes not time. Logan staggers forward, but it's Nathan who steadies himself, taking a gasp of air as the residual headache flitters away. For a moment, a new mirage is there - a burn victim who never healed - and vibrating with anger, but then, he's gone. For now. Leaving Nathan alone for the time being. Straightening his back, wincing as his body twinges in protest, he gives Ramon a shaky smile. "Long time no see," he says. He doesn't look at Jack. Can't, yet.

"Are you serious? One Jedi-wave and you magically fix 'im?" Jack scoffs at the idea. Externally. His internal monologue sounds something like this:

Please, God. Let it work.

"What's this? What the hell is this?" he asks Ramon. "Talk to me, Sarge."

Ramon offers a hand to Nathan for a moment, looking like he is really happy to see the guy, like he might even be choked up over it. But Jack snaps him back to reality. He turns to him and says, "No. Not fixed. This alternate persona, he's still in there somewhere. I didn't banish him. I just moved him." Ramon expels a breath. "I don't entirely understand how it comes to happen. But I met a young lady…I was asked to help her. It wasn't like she just had multiple personality syndrome. It was literally as if multiple people lived in her body. There was Niki, who was so diffident, that her powers would barely manifest when she was in there. There was Jessica who was…violent. Dangerous. Evil. There was Gina, who was …. pretty much irresponsible. Born out of moments in her life, aspects of her, parts of her. That became their own entities. Its not just MPS or something, Jack. He's not /crazy/. He's sane. They…they fight each other. Try to take over. Trap one another in mirrors. It seems to always happen around mirrors." He starts looking around, looking for every mirror in here. "Speaking of which, if you want to make sure Nathan stays around for sure, we should make sure there's a lack of reflective surfaces in here. But for now—that is Nathan Petrelli, and the world is not his fault. That other one…the really fucked up one…he's been at the wheel."

Ramon says everything Nathan isn't sure he could have said, had he the choice. He had known Jessica, Niki, understood that what had happened to her had happened to him, but articulating it was a whole other ball game, and he's glad he's not the one who has to. "It's easier with mirrors," he agrees, softly and almost inaudibly. Easier for whom, he or Logan? Likely both, depending on who is in control. Then, Ramon says the world is not his fault, and he shudders. He's unsure if he agrees, he couldn't stop Logan, it seems, but he's willing to let someone believe that. More than. "His name is Logan," he then offers, and now finally looking to Jack.

There are no words for this. The human tongue can't form syllables that could assign meaning to this situation. Ragged, unsteady breaths huff in and out through Jack's mouth. "Logan," he utters, savoring the name, rolling it around in his mouth, tasting it's unfamiliarity.

Now Jack's remembering things. Snippets of conversation to no one and songs sung to thin air. Sudden shifts in demeanor and vacant, glassy eyes. All Nathan's behavior. Logan's behavior? It seems far-fetched, but so is objecto-relocato-kinesis.

"Bullshit. I don't believe it."

Ramon looks at Jack evenly. "When, in all the time we've been together, have you ever known me to lie to you? Ever?" He folds his arm and awaits the answer, eyes narrowed. His entire demeanor has shifted now. Nathan is no longer the hated enemy. Nathan is now the guy in trouble, and that awakens every instinct Ramon has to help him.

He may have turned into a monster in many ways.

But some things are still pure.

Fishlike, Jack opens and closes his mouth several times without making any meaningful noises. He turns his head to the side, unable or unwilling to look Nathan in the eyes any longer. Coming from most men, Ramon's question would be rhetorical. Ramon isn't most men, though. He's a Man. "Never," Jack answers hoarsely, his voice made even rougher by the bruising around his trachea. He gulps twice in quick succession and shakes his head slowly. "Never. Is there any chance you could be wrong?"

"No." Ramon says. Absolute certainty. He doesn't even hesitate. "The only thing I don't know for sure is if there are more of them, and how it can be fixed. I know what my immediate impulse is, but I don't know if you're going to like it, Chief."

There's really not much he can say to Jack. Not yet, anyway. Later, they're probably going to have a most excellent conversation. For now, Nathan looks towards Ramon, pacing down the length of his cage. "More?" he repeats, raising an eyebrow. He's just imagining what a party that would be. He never know Niki had a third name. "I don't think there is, for what it's worth. Just… just him."

Slowly, Jack's respiration steadies. He squares his shoulders and lifts his chin, now looking through the bars of the livestock cage and sizes Nathan up from head to toe. He's very thorough. He paces a slow circle around the three walls of the tiny enclosure that aren't joined to the exterior structure of the building so he can get a look-see from multiple angles, as if that might provide more insight. Eventually he comes to stand in the same spot he started from. "Boy Wonder?" he queries unsteadily.

Without looking back at Ramon he rumbles, "Do it. If he's still in there and you can get him back, do it."

"That, yes," Ramon rumbles slowly. "I might be able to eradicate the personality without rendering him a vegetable. But…that's not something I'll just try, Jack. I need weeks. Months. To very carefully see what I can do." His arms have not unwound. He looks between the two men. "Now there is hope. We have, you realize, everything we need to turn stuff around. Listen to me. I go back with him. I'm a buisnessman, a CEO, and my face is not on any wanted posters yet. I pulled off a daring rescue. If my daughter is a known entity? She was here, on the inside, working on my orders with you Saints all this time. Nathan appoints me Chief of Staff to show his gratitude, which means I have a reason to be near him all the time, or very close. And then I keep the Logan personality at bay. I work on getting rid of it, slowly but surely. And Nathan works on unravelling the giant clusterfuck mess this country is in…slowly but surely. And the Saints are standing ready to take down those who will suddenly turn on their 'beloved' president because they are profiting from this mess. We have hope /here/. Right here. Right now. We can do this. And we don't have to rely on…shakier things." Like Peter McFly.

Nathan listens, and listens well, good hand now leaning on a bar within his cage. It's a plan that involves him not dying, which is a plus. However, he lifts his head to look at Ramon. "You might be underestimating him," he says. "He can ruin things within a few hours of control." His tone of voice is defeated, despite the opportunity and optimism a plan like this could present.

"Are you fucking serious? Not only no, but really-most-sincerely-no. You need weeks? Fine. You need months? Fine. Take all the time you need. This is a safe haven." Jack crosses his arms over his chest and shakes his head. "But he doesn't leave that cage until I decide that Nathan's the only one in there. If that's even the case, and we're eventually able to save him, fine. Excellent. Stellar. Letting him out one second sooner would be suicide, and it would make me cranky."

"At least get him better then a /cage/," Ramon says, his eye going tight. /This/ is his friend, who has not betrayed them all. "Or…fix it up or somethin', man." His accent picks up, taking on flavors far more relaxed and less educated than the man himself. He paces as if /he/ were in the cage. He is not a vocal enough man to express what just happened to him on finding out that one…simple…fact. He almost feels himself, though…Ramon, as /himself/, never paced about with frantic energy. He expels a breath.

Nathan almost smiles at Ramon's reply to Jack, a little sadly. It's just a messed up situation for all. "The cage is no more than Logan deserved," he says to Ramon, although really, that's to Jack. The cage, the pain, all of it. Logan should be so lucky he's not still hanging from a meat hook with weights on his feet.

Jack nods once, briskly. He uncrosses his arms and lets them hang at his sides for a moment. When he sighs, his broad shoulders slump wearily. "You're right, Sarge. Unfortunately, so is he. He stays in the cage. For now. He don't gotta live like an animal, though." As he speaks, Jack is unbuttoning the top half of his faded, much-mended fatigues. Underneath he's wearing a snugly fitting white t-shirt that does little to conceal his scarred upper body. He presses the BDU top through the bars and holds it out for Nathan. "Hey Sarge. You got a cell phone?"

"What?" Ramon had gone deep into his thoughts, trying to contain…well. His own cracked psyche, really, the madness that has taken a man who was once like a rock inside and turned him into a man of wild emotions, positive or negative, of focused, strange, eldridge energies. "Oh. Yeah. Course." He digs it out and hands it to Jack.

He doesn't hesitate to take the shirt, pulling it over his bruised arms and torso, and awkwardly doing up the buttons. Sneaking a glance, Nathan makes no comment of the visible scarring now evident on Jack's arms, near his throat, but looks away quickly instead. Shakily, he presses the back of his hand against his forehead, wiping away sweat as well as just a compulsive, protective touch, fearing the inevitable way Logan can just take back control, like a man picking up a gun. "You could both talk to Cass," he says. "She knows— she knew about Niki, how to handle it. After she was captured by— " His team? "After she was captured, she figured it out about me too." Not going to mention exactly how.

Jack flips the phone open and keys in a number. A couple of rings later he's holding a fast, whispered conversation. "I need you to find me a steak sandwich. A good one. And a six pack of Rolling Rock, if they still make it in this godforsaken wasteland. Make it snappy, okay? No, I dropped my phone in the toilet. You'll have to page me. Okay." The cell is snapped shut and passed back to Ramon. "Thanks. Uh. He hasn't had anything to eat since he got here." Meanwhile, he waves his hand and relocates a fresh bottle of clean, cold water. It's handed through to Nathan in the same fashion as the shirt. "Careful. Drink slow or you'll get sick."

Ramon nods his head. "I'm staying down here," he growls. He couldn't keep Luis and Nita alive. He couldn't keep his wife safe. His daughter has become the stable, steady, secure woman who is keeping /him/ sane, so he's failed as a father. His step daughter wants to live like a ghost and his son is estranged and his step-son may be dead. But this, by God…just seeing one person he can maybe really, actually, truly save…

He doesn't quite snatch the bottle of water, but again, no hesitation. "Thanks," Nathan says, twisting off the cap, and as tempting as it is to down the whole thing, he manages not to. Because throwing it up again onto the floor of his temporary home is about as tempting as a kick in the balls. So, he sips, and moves to sit down, grunting a little as he does so. Settled, he tilts his head back against a bar. "I just want people to know the truth, now." He glances at Jack.

"You can come by in the mornings and stay until nightfall. That's the safest time to come and go from here, anyway." Jack nods to Ramon, then rolls his shoulders experimentally. "As much as I want to believe you're right about him, I'm not going to act like I'm completely convinced. I definitely don't think we should be pretending like the last two years didn't happen just 'cause there's been a new development." Fools rush in, after all.

Shit. He has to tend to his other responsibilities or it all falls apart. Ramon nods his head and grimaces. Everyone, /everyone/ has gotten smarter than him these days. He'd try to pick it apart if he had any chance in hell, but the effort is just too exhausting. "I have to figure out how to get it done anyway," he grunts.

Figured it'd take this long to get some decent therapy. Nathan sets aside the half-finished bottle of water, rubbing his face wearily, before shutting his eyes. He attempts a simple 'thank you', thinking it "loudly" the way it sort of used to work around Peter when he wasn't being inept at his abilities. When he didn't hate him. Either way, it's for Ramon, because he's not sure if he can express the right amount of gratitude on the normal plane of communication, and he otherwise lets the other two make the arrangements he still doesn't really have a choice over.

Jack cuffs a hand against Ramon's shoulder in a reassuring, manly fashion. "We've got time. Figure out what you've gotta figure out. He an' I will be here when you're ready for us. And Sarge? Thanks for this, whatever it turns into."

"You're welcome," Ramon says, addressing it to both. And for a moment…he /does/ look like his old self, because that is just…grunted out there, and he's gotten into this moment, this steady moment, where he's just sure of himself again. Maybe he /is/ floating around in there somewhere. He gives Jack's hand one of those…manly hand clasp things and then offers one to Nathan through the bars.

Nathan opens his eyes when he hears footsteps, someone approaching closer, and he glances up at Ramon. He stands, first, then the manly clasp thing is returned. Nice to have a friend on the other side - everything else is a little too damaged to save completely. Which is ironic, considering the two men involved, but. There it is.

Jack squeezes Ramon's hand firmly with both eyes on the older man's good one. "You did a good thing today, Ramon. Thanks for comin'." He doesn't step up to shake with Nathan, though. It's too soon. He hesitates, watching closely but unable or unwilling to join in the camraderie. He's saved from making the decision by his pager, which beeps frantically. The Irishman claws the alphanumerical contraption from his hip pocket and peers at the display, then tucks it away with a grin. He waves both hands with a flourish and produces not one steak sandwich, but two, along with the requested six pack (incredibly dusty, but completely potable). "Geez. What a day. Here," he glances at Ramon, then sets one of the paper-wrapped sandwiches and a beer on the closest tabletop. The other sandwich is passed through to Nathan, though he hesitates with the alcohol. "Why don't you have a few bites first?"

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