2007-03-08: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Starring:

Nathan_icon.gif Claire_icon.gif Angela_icon.gif

Date It Happened: March 08, 2007

Summary: Angela confronts Nathan about his plan to free Peter from the seemingly evil clutches of the Company, while Claire — unsuccessfully — tries to sneak into the mansion unnoticed.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place


Nathan's Den - The Petrelli Mansion

The mansion, of late, has not been the most homely of places. With Heidi and the boys out of town and Nathan not quite himself, it seems to be filled with tense, anticipatory silence. It's later in the day and Nathan is in his office (or rather, his den), second favourite place to hole himself into nowadays. For once, however, he seems to have something to do, with strange, plain boxes stacked onto a table. A half-empty glass of scotch sits neglected as he tears one of the boxes open, and takes out a communication device - sort of a very FBI agent looking earpiece.

During the past few weeks, Angela has become accustomed to the quiet environment of the mansion — so it's no surprise when she shows up in Nathan's doorway, curious as to the source of the subtle shift in atmosphere. She says nothing, not at first, opting to remain silent instead as she watches her eldest with somber eyes. One spindly hand curls around the door's frame and clutches it so tightly that the veins beneath her skin appear even more prominent than usual in the den's light.

Opening only one other, Nathan doesn't bother with the rest. Communication devices, and more than enough. He closes them up again, and now would be a good time to look up and notice his mother's presence. Instead, he picks up his glass, polishes the contents off and turns towards his desk, moving to open the drawer. From there, a hand held gun is taken out, and checked with a sort of vague professionalism. Out the corner of his eye, he notices that the shapes and silhouettes of the doorway have changed, and his head turns sharply to see Angela. "Ma," he says, in an impatient tone, the weapon being deposited back into his desk.

The look on Angela's face is usually reserved for Peter; stern and foreboding, the Petrelli matriarch's mouth is pressed into a thin line, disappointment etched into the crow's feet at the corners of her eyes. "Nathan," she replies in a voice that, while soft, possesses a hint of annoyance. Without waiting for a formal invitation, she steps inside the den and closes the door behind her. She does not raise her voice again until it clicks gently into place. "What is all this?" It's phrased as a question, but it sounds more like an accusation.

To his credit, Nathan seems to be expecting that question, although he bristles at the look he's being given. Even if he's growing a little used to it. "What does it look like?" he asks, not completely rhetorical, eyeing the deliveries. As he, too, is a little skeptical of what is essentially hi-tech spy equipment. "This is preparation, I guess. I really wish you'd knock, you know."

"The door was open," Angela says by way of explanation, though she does not defend her actions further. Instead, she disdainfully shifts her gaze from Nathan to the boxes on the table, crossing the room to get a better look at the shipment. "I trust that your… purchase," she practically hisses the word, "can't be traced back to this family."

"I got it covered." Nathan doesn't seem particularly interested in sharing the details, and he slides into a seat by the table, regarding the woman in front of him. "We're going to go get Pete back. He's being held somewhere." He tilts his head towards the boxes. "And this is my contribution." A strained smile.

Angela lets out a slow, shaky breath and mouths Peter's name — though no sound makes it past her lips. She places one hand on the table, staring down at the open box. There's nothing she can say to dissuade him, not after what happened at Kirby Plaza all those months ago, but this does not stop her from trying. "Don't be reckless," she murmurs as she raises her other hand to brush her knuckles against Nathan's cheek. "You're so headstrong," she then adds, not without affection, "and so much like your father. But you really have no concept of what you're going up against."

"I get the general jist of it," Nathan says, tone dry, meeting Angela's eyes with a hard look. "But maybe you know better than me." He stands to pace, as well as put some distance between he and Angela, walking to the other side of the table. "And if you want to enlighten me, go right ahead. What am I up against?"

The locks on the front door slide out of place slowly enough that they hardly make any sound at all, and Claire Bennet slips through the door into the mansion, doing her best to close the door without making too much noise. She winces as it clicks shut somewhat louder than she would like, stepping away from the door to set about removing her snow-covered outerwear. She slants her head as she does, trying to eavesdrop on the conversation happening not too far away; unfortunately, she only catches a word or two here and there. Very little of it makes any sense.

Angela is spared the humiliation of telling her son that the situation is out of her hands when she hears the sound of the front door shutting somewhat unceremoniously. "Perhaps," she replies icily, "you had better ask that question of the company you've decided to keep." She turns, retracing her steps as she moves slowly, cautiously back toward the den's entrance. There are only so many people who their visitor could be. "Then again," she whispers, almost as an afterthought, "I doubt that Nakamura boy knows much more than you do."

Nathan doesn't seem to particularly believe his mother, and a sight, accusing glare is sent her way when she heads for the door and works around his question. He doesn't seem to notice the sound of a door, either, and his voice rises to reach Angela's ears. "If I'm out of my league, then Hiro is too," he says, almost agreeably. "But we're still going in there. So if you know something about all this, Ma, it'd be in your interest to tell me."

Claire has no particular interest in sticking around long enough for Nathan or Angela to ask her where she's been or why she's only just getting back. When her coat and boots are put away, she draws in a breath and holds it, creeping towards the staircase leading up to the second floor. At the very least, her (other) father isn't here to accost her. Small blessings, right? She starts to ascend the staircase, trailing one hand along the railing.

Angela does not break her stride except to open the door to the den, stepping out into the dim glow of the hall. She hasn't seen Claire yet, but her ears are telling her that she and Nathan are no longer alone. Her eyes sweep the corridor before flicking to the staircase — are those footsteps on the steps she hears? "You're right," she murmurs gently, "you may have spared this city from Mendez's terrible vision, but you're still young and inexperienced. There are other ways to rescue Peter, Nathan. Ways that don't involve placing your neck across the chopping block."

"I know," Nathan concedes, shooting a glance at the comms equipment with a mild sneer. There is no denying that crusading just doesn't sit well with him, but. Rock. Hard place. "Trust me, we're trying other avenues, but I get the impression these people don't play fair. Just trust me, would you? Can you do that for me?" Now, he seems notice Angela's behaviour, and he walks closer. "Someone there?"

A wince appears on Claire's face as Nathan calls out, and she stops mid-step, a little less than halfway up the stairs. That breath she was holding is exhaled all at once, her chin tipping down. "It's just me," she calls back, her eyes still closed. "I'm sorry. I was trying not to interrupt your… talk." That's the only way she can think to describe the snippets of conversation she caught, most of which made no sense once taken out of context.

"Nonsense, dear." Angela beckons Claire closer with a come hither gesture of her hand, a smile creeping across her face and creating friendly wrinkles that weren't there before. "Your timing couldn't have been better." The warmth in her voice is strangely absent in her eyes, though this might have something to do with the fact that her gaze has shifted back to Nathan once more. "You want to know what you're going up against?" she asks him. "I'm certain that Claire will be able to tell you."

Nathan looks as if he wants to head back into the den and let Claire go on her way, but Angela's words give him pause, and he looks up at Claire, considering, before pushing the door to the den open a little wider. "Maybe we should talk," he says, reluctantly agreeing. "Claire, if you could?" He glances at Angela, before turning back into the den, expecting the other two to follow.

This is not exactly the greeting she expected. Slowly, Claire turns to look down to Nathan and Angela, her expression reminiscent of a deer caught in the headlights. "Um… yeah, sure," she says, shaking herself out of her momentary reverie and descending to the lower level once more. As she nears the den, her gaze travels to the strange equipment. "What's going on?" Granted, much of it ought to be obvious to her, but she's not entirely clear what they're asking from her.

As Claire nears the den, Angela places her hand on the small of the teen's back, though it's unclear whether this is meant to be a reassuring gesture — or a way of herding her inside before she can change her mind. "Your father," extra emphasis on the term, "is suffering from delusions of grandeur, I'm afraid. It's /very/ unfortunate."

"Ma," Nathan hisses. There's only so much poking and prodding Nathan can take before bristling, and he does so, shooting Angela a quick look before turning to Claire. "We're breaking Peter out," he tells her. Whoever 'we' is, is anyone's guess, as he doesn't elaborate. He gestures vaguely towards the boxes, letting them be self-explanatory. "You know more about this place than me. You're not gonna be coming, but if you know anything that'll help…"

The emphasis isn't lost on Claire, and she shifts her weight uncomfortably from one foot to the other, a frown appearing for a split second. "My father isn't here," she says back to Angela, the tone of her voice vaguely bitter, though it's nearly imperceptible. Still, her intention is not to make Nathan feel uncomfortable, and she looks to him with a slightly confused look. "I don't really know what I can tell you," she explains, shrugging helplessly. "They didn't tell me much. I'll… try. What do you want to know?"

Angela raises both her dark eyebrows at her son as if to ask, "What?" She takes a seat in one of the chairs on side of the table that's closest to the door, and rests her hands in her lap. Claire and Nathan are talking, and while she might not necessarily approve of the topic of discussion, it's at least progress.

Nathan closes the lid of the opened box, as if wanting to fidget with something without actually fidgeting. "I guess I just want to know how much in league with them you are. Or were," he says. "We need some kind of map of the place, for… to help us find the people we're looking for. Peter included." A glance goes to Angela, here, as if reminding her and her criticism as to what's at stake. "You know much about the building, or where we could get any info on it?"

"I don't know where they would have Peter," Claire replies, shaking her head. "I didn't even know he was there." She lingers by the doorway, one hand settled on the opposite arm as she watches Nathan fidget with a frown. "I wasn't in league with them. They /kidnapped/ me. Sometimes they let me out for - I don't even know why - but I was a prisoner there. They don't really give prisoners a map of the jail." At the very least, she sounds apologetic with her lack of information. "You're really going to do this."

"Okay, okay," Nathan concedes when she corrects him, looking altogether very weary, which isn't really a big change, of late. He sits on the edge of his desk, watching Claire from across the room. "Looks like we are, yeah," he says. "We know, at least, that he's in the basement of this place and they're not letting him out. A few people have some interest in not letting the Company have someone like Pete at their disposal, so, it's not a total suicide."

"A lot of people have some interest in keeping him there, too." It's something that likely doesn't need to be said. Claire leans back against the wall behind her, looking over the equipment again. It means nothing to her. Something about the latter remark upsets her in some way, and she crosses the room, lowering herself into a seat with the same lingering frown. "Things got locked down pretty tight after Hiro and Clint took those paintings. I met some of the people you might run into, and they're… dangerous."

"There are men and women working for the Company with abilities that you can't even fathom," Angela puts in. "Men and women who can kill with a simple touch, or sometimes, even a glance." She lets this hang for a few brief moments before continuing, this time on a slightly more cheerful note. "That's not to say you can't fight for Peter, but you'll have more luck winning your enemies over with words than with that silly little gun you keep in the top drawer of your desk. Besides, how do you know he's being kept against his will?"

Nathan casts another narrowed look in Angela's direction. "A gun can't hurt to have," he says, tone brisk and clipped. "No one's pretending what we wanna do isn't dangerous, Ma." But it's that last comment that rankles, enough so that Nathan just dismisses it. "He would have come to see me," he says, refocusing on Claire. "Those paintings may be the playing cards we need in this not turning to bloodshed, something that /has/ been considered. I'm all for doing this with words, but considering these are the people that wanted to blow up Manhattan," and he manages not to meet Angela's gaze at that one, "I'm not counting on bargains."

Claire is doing her best to follow this conversation, but tactics and strategy have never been her forte, and she allows some of what Nathan and Angela discuss to go in one ear and out the other. Pulling her feet up onto the chair, she hugs her knees briefly, settling her chin atop them to peer at her biological family. "What do you mean, about the paintings? How would they help?"

The snort that Angela gives Nathan is ladylike, but it's still a snort. "If you're going to lay down all your cards on the table, be sure that you have a winning hand. The Company already has photographs of the paintings in your possession — I can assure you." She shakes her head. "And even if they didn't, your brother is still worth more to them than all the Mendez pieces in the world. He's… special." Special enough that Bob Bishop has been hiding him right under his mother's nose. She'll need to have a talk with her old friend about /that/.

Nathan looks at Angela carefully, and lets out a sigh, as if she had confirmed his suspicions. "And that's why I'm having delusions of grandeur. As you can see, our hand isn't exactly winning. So we go in and do it our way." He glances at Claire, takes a little mercy on her, and explains, "There was talk of using Hiro's possession of the paintings as leverage. But it probably won't work." He nods to her. "Feet off the chair, that's nice leather you're sitting on."

"It won't," Claire replies, shaking her head, though at least she listens to his command and drops her feet back down to the floor. Harrumph. "They've killed or… tried to kill people more important to them than those paintings. Mrs. Petrelli's right." What an odd name to call someone related to you. "I hope this works."

"/You/ used to put your feet on the chair," Angela reminds Nathan a little wryly as she rises from her own seat and prepares to exit the den. "Let's get you settled in, Claire. We have some croissants in the kitchen — it shouldn't be too much trouble to warm up some hot chocolate over the stove. Your cheeks are still a little pink." Of Nathan's plan, she says nothing more. There's still time to intervene, after all. After cocoa.

Nathan opens his mouth to speak, but instead, he allows Angela to usher Claire out the door, as he moves to sit behind his desk. He opens the to drawer and glances down at the handgun tucked away inside, casts another glance towards the comms equipment on the table, and curses under his breath. He picks up the phone, because Houston, we have a problem.

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