2008-04-15: Forever


Heidi_icon.gif Nathan_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif FuturePeter_icon.gif

Summary: Direct continuation of Finally.

Date It Happened: April 15, 2008


"Jessica's" Apartment


Eyes widen, focus, unfocus. He can smell the blood in the air and know that a great majority of it is his. The apartment bedroom should smell like carpet cleaner, fresh laundry, perfume. Right now it's only iron and sickness.

"You're going to crawl back into the corner of my brother's mind."

The crumpled Senator slumped against the wall gives a shuddering groan that has nothing to do with his broken leg. A pain only one man within him can really feel, an unstoppable, ancient kind of force that pushes him back, back down, as slowly as death, but not nearly so final. He grips onto consciousness like a precipice.

"Right now."

Somewhere none of the other three can detect, a door slams, and Nathan's back arches as renewed pain floods his system like a car crash. It hurts, and while that's technically better than the polar deep freeze of numbness that not existing can bring… it still fucking hurts, okay? His hands move towards his leg, pull away again, fingertips coming back bloodied. He can barely hear what's going on, but part of him registers it.

"…that Logan doesn't deserve it, he does. But Nathan doesn't."

"Yes. He does."

An impossible voice that managing, slightly, to draw away from the pain, the deliriousness of an inherited concussion. Nathan barely feels it, in contrasts, when his head tips back to rest against the wall, breathing hard, swimming gaze rising up and up to meet bright blue eyes he knows, that can't be here. Oh, okay. He's dead, obviously. He hears himself say her name, Heidi?, but clamps his teeth shut a moment later, unsure of what to make of dead women walking.

The transition isn't quite so literal to the man hovering at a distance behind the two women. Both of his eyes are on the man below him, non-swollen, no sign of the bullet that destroyed part of his face, but a vicious and deep scar crosses from forehead to cheek, giving him a very different quality from the last time they stood face to face in the present day. It's been a while, but no where near enough for that kind of damaged to have naturally healed to that point and stuck.

"It's him," Peter says, voice raspier and deeper than normal, whispered. Still his own voice, still him, still recognizable, but the tone is much darker, much more dangerous. Telepathy, subtle as this one may be, he reads surface thoughts as one mental self retreats and the other one rises up. The one who now has to deal with pain he may not have earned. "I'll need to heal him, at least part way, soon," he does add, after studing the blood loss, the color tone on his skin. There's something so clinical and restrained in his voice. Like he didn't just shoot someone he loves in the leg. Or maybe he's just accepted it as a necessity.

Niki can't know what's going on in the dual minds of Nathan and Logan; she can't know that Peter's demand had any effect at all, no real reason to think it should, but watching so closely, she can guess. Peter confirms it. She knows the war and the surprise that comes after. Niki manages to seem a little stand-offish toward the others despite her proximity to them, kneeling where she is beside the Senator. With a half-restrained wince on her face for the sake of Nathan's pain, she shoots Peter a slightly bitter: "You better."

She probably owes him an explanation. Really, after all the hate she invested for Logan, Heidi expected her reunion with Nathan to be almost disappointing. She expected to feel nothing for him, or even to be angrier at him than she was at Logan.

But her jaw tenses as she feels a stinging in her eyes, in her throat — it aches as if a wall's coming down. She'd built it to deal with this, as things got worse and worse, more painful, more dismal, and every time she sees Logan, Heidi puts up that wall again. By now, she can tell the difference so easily that as soon as he looks at her, she can tell that this is the man she loves.

Confusion appears as she sorts out the rush of feeling. She had to hurt Nathan to hurt Logan - and she accepts that, but - even knowing that - she doesn't want to see him so hurt. People deal with things, each in their own way, and Heidi's just happened to involve a complete separation of two realities, to the point where she was absolutely certain that she hated Nathan more than Logan. Eventually, the confusion becomes a tiny smile.

Reaching out, Heidi touches his face. Though she says nothing, there's a nod there - Yes, it's me. I'm okay. I missed you. Sorry about the blunt trauma to the head, et cetera.

"I know," she says to Peter, looking back at him, the smile disappearing, before offering a brief moment of attention to Niki. Maybe the blonde is right to be angry, but she can't understand - Nathan's family to both Heidi and Peter, and so extreme measures had to be taken! Heidi will likely feel the guilt of that later. She'll probably also remember that Niki's pretty close to Nathan, too.

The pain has become frustrating, now. It stops him from thinking so clearly. Little does he know that has more to do with that blunt trauma to the head than it does his knee, but he manages not to twitch away from Heidi reaching out to him. Doesn't see much point in recoiling, even if honest confusion is on his face, gaze shifting from Heidi's face towards the others.

Niki kneeling beside him and a vaguely unfamiliar Peter hovering like a shadow just over there. Recognition, even if it's without understanding, is at least something to latch onto. It's a bit like coming out of a dream.

And you were there, and you were there, and you

"How're you here?" Nathan manages, turning back to his wife. He'd mourned, he'd— no, to say he'd gotten past it is a lie. Acceptance, though, sure. A hazy grey kind of ice cold acceptance. He'd defined it, come to understand it, and here she is, more painful than his leg. It has to be a trick. As soon as the suspicion enters his mind, he realises he doesn't actually care.

Delusions are ~okay~ too. "Heidi…" His hands go out to her, reaching, needing her closer all of a sudden like a drowning man might need air. For all his love, or something like it, of the other two people in the room, and other confusing state of affairs— he'll get back to those in just a sec. "Heidi, I'm sorry, I thought you— "

Niki pushes her hands — bloodied, by this point — into the black denim of her pants and gets to her feet. She gives them space, moving closer to the other, time-worn Petrelli, although it's only to stand at a distance and regard Heidi and Nathan, just as silent as Peter. Her expression — under a blood-spattered face; everyone's gonna need a shower tonight … separately — is dismal, but shines with a gleam of sympathy, caught in memory. Niki's been there, too, where Nathan is: for months she thought D.L. was dead because of Jessica's plans, not to mention the fact that she tried to kill him. So many parallels.

How can she explain what she did? "I had to hide," she says quietly, fighting back the sudden, impulsive urge to not let him touch her. Being okay with his presense and allowing contact are two completely different things, but she allows him to reach her, taking his hands in hers, and inching a little closer. She's severe by now, almost eyebrows shadowing wide eyes. She'll explain how she escaped death when he's not half-delerious with pain, but it's enough that she's alive now, right? "It's really me, promise. I couldn't… let Logan know I was alive. You know why." And now he'll know again.

"I needed time. I'm not the — " She's not the same person anymore, but Heidi shakes her head, dismissing the statement, and gives Nathan's hands a squeeze. Appearing torn for a moment, she eventually allows herself to get a little closer, coming around to the side previously occupied by Niki. Does he know she beat the hell out of him with a bat? He must. That gives her a good dose of pride and guilt - at least Logan will know that she's not going to play the Damsel in Distress whenever the hell he feels like coming after her.

And he'll also know that he can't keep a good Petrelli down. She'll just keep coming back.

"Pete, could you…?" She points to her head, then at Nathan. It would really suck if he died of a hematoma so soon after being let out of Logan's cage. Letting Nathan's hands go, she stands next to Niki, meeting the other woman's eyes. They still have that serum. "Nathan, we have something that might help get rid of Logan."

His hands are warm, in an unpleasant and clammy way, and grips onto Heidi's as if letting go might break the spell. Less abstractly, it helps Nathan cement reality into place. His wife's hands are smaller than his and he manages not to crush slim fingers. He's not wearing a wedding band and he's not really caring if she is or isn't right now, it's not really about whether his marriage is in pieces. It's that she's alive.

And pulling away from him. He's too weak to struggle, and her hands slide free of his easily, his eyelids half-hooding. Incidentally, his leg still hurts, and finally he tries to look beyond all the red and the gore to see what's wrong. Peter shot him. The knowledge slides into place as if he were given cue cards. He draws in a hitched breath, fighting the urge to sort of just give in in a general sense, and he can't, not now that he's been forced to fight. Yet again.

"What is it?" he asks, dully, voice slurred, and his body shudders when leg muscles cramp, protest against the damage done to bone, a growling groan of pain shuddering from him.

"I wouldn't put too much faith in anything you have," Peter says distantly, even as he moves forward to take the place that Heidi had left. The unloaded and taken apart gun disappears before it even touches the floor, possibly relocated somewhere else, so no one can pistol whip the person next to them. Considering the beatings going around, it might be a necessary precausion for both sides of this little scuffle. Doesn't mean he can't call it back whenever he wants, though…

A hand reaches out to touch his brother's hair, his battered face, and then finally the knee. The damage is worse there. It threatens to bleed far more, get infected, never heal again. That's what he focuses most of his energy on. Healing still isn't full proof. It may not fix intricate pieces of the damage that has been done, but it might be able to fix a good deal of it.

"I'm alive too, Nathan," he adds, even with the hardened, and even cold voice he mantains. Alive, but not quite his younger brother.

"Heidi…" Niki's voice hitches slightly, cautionary. She's quiet as she watches Peter heal his brother, her expression softening just a bit, but knitting with concern. "Even— if it worked…" She says, holding up the wooden box that Heidi handed to her earlier, looking down at it with a tense frown. "…it's not enough," she finishes quietly with a reluctant sort of finality. She moves to set it on the end of the bed. "I couldn't get any more."

If it might get rid of Logan, why wouldn't they at least put a little faith in it? And why would Heidi believe that there's not enough to do any good? She can't, and she won't. Maybe she'd be just a little less… snippy… with Niki if she hadn't had an affair with Nathan on more than one occasion, but the inability to comply with the seemingly simple request to just fix her husband sets her off again. Snap. Anger that she can no longer direct at the man half-dead on the floor is thrown at Niki like a freight train.

It's really all in the eyes at first.

It might be a bad idea for her to reach up, grab Niki by the shoulders, and attempt to shove her forcefully against the nearest convenient solid surface. "Why?" she demands, teeth clenched together. "What, you want him like this? Look at him! You want someone you can relate to!? S—Sl-- " Again, she hesitates, closing her eyes, trying to calm herself down, because this isn't really her. To hell with it, though. "Sleep with him and blame it on Logan? I've waited long enough. Long enough." Grabbing the box off the bed, she opens it, withdraws the vial and the syringe, and begins to pull the clear liquid into it.

Is Nathan gonna get a say? Not likely. Has Heidi finally gone off the deep end? That's a bit more plausible.

Up close, Peter gets studied, from the old slash in his face through to all the subtle differences that Nathan, even in his state, can see. A hand goes out to clasp onto Peter's arm. "I tried— I tried to save you," he says, and those words may come from some blurry, indefinite place, or maybe he knows what he's talking about. The conviction is there, at least, as misguided as it might be. But the scar. It's a senseless interruption. Nathan's voice comes like sandpaper as he asks what could just be a mirage, "What happened to you?"

And even during this, the pain is sapping away. Not gone completely, there's still a gut wrenching ache in his leg, but it's less numbing, less threatening than it was before. Hand still holding onto Peter, Nathan's eyes go down to it, and very tentatively, moves it. A slight bend, knee raising, and Nathan shows his teeth in a wince when harsh pain ripples down it.

Heidi's outburst gets her husband watching both she and Niki somewhat warily, gaze focusing on important things, like the needle being handled. Hope to get rid of Logan aside, that's not a comforting sight. His gaze darts over to Niki— Jessica?— who knows. Even if it echoes Logan's sentiments and not his, she seems like an ally. Explanation, assistance, something. He looks back towards Peter, hand still gripping onto that arm. "Help me up."

The words said by his sister-in-law seem to strike a cord with the man whose doing the healing. Peter's hand tightens, turning a little white at the knuckles and making him look even more tense. It might have even affected the healing a bit, who knows. There's a glare actually thrown at his sister, but he keeps his mouth firmly shut, refusing to speak his frustrations and angers outloud right now. But he clashs his other hand on his brother's arm and helps him get to his feet as much as he can allow.

"Four years is what happened, Nathan." There's something semetric about the whole thing. The brother who belongs in this time had a moment in the future, where he got to hold his brother's arm, look into his eyes. Something the man standing here will never remember, will never experience. And now he's in the past, living a moment his present self will never experience, never remember… "I know you tried to stop it… he's just stronger."

The most convenient solid surface happens to be the bedstand, which is one of the few things that shows evidence of someone actually habituating this apartment from time to time: an empty glass, some stray earrings, a set of keys, all of which now rattle. Niki saw that look in Heidi's eyes, but it's pretty clear that she wasn't expecting to be shoved — otherwise the back of her thighs wouldn't be slamming into the bedstand.

Instantly, the anger swells up in the less-bright blue eyes of the blonde and she lifts her hands up, stepping away from the blank wall. "Of course not!" she retaliates, her anger peppered with a sincere conviction. "I've been trying to help him! What do you think I've been doing all this time?!" Niki shakes her head with frustrated disgust and she holds her hands out further, a defensive open-palmed and blood-smeared surrender. "You know what, don't answer that." She makes a concerted effort to slow down and even out her voice to make it more rational. At least more rational than Heidi's. "I just mean," a furrow-browed shake of her head, "We don't have enough of the serum."

"How do you know?" she demands, still wholly absorbed in getting the contents of the vial into the syringe. Hell, if more cured Niki, then less should certainly at least help Nathan. And Peter's here, so when it eats a whole bunch of holes into Nathan's memory, his brother can heal him. Perfect.

"I'm tired of losing you," she says, mostly to herself, but there's a momentary glance up at Nathan. "Every time I think I— " There's a pause as she discards the now-empty bottle. " —might have you back, something else happens. A car accident. You send someone to kill me. It's pushing us farther apart." And if they want to have any hope left, they're going to have to get rid of the problem. It doesn't seem like 'rational' is really going to get through to Heidi at all, at the moment, because right now, she has Nathan, and she'd very much like to keep Nathan. "We won't know if we don't try."

If she's not stopped, she's going to stab Nathan with that needle.

Maybe if he had more humility, he'd let it happen. Whatever the needle is, nothing he understands right now, let it stab wherever Heidi lands it. Logan is stronger and whose to say Heidi isn't also? On his feet, Nathan watches her and her wild words with a sort of sickly quiet, blood loss and head injury dictating that he stay still, for now, his weight rested on his right leg, bloodied left no longer bleeding, only aching.

For all of that, for all that he wants to make the world better for Heidi, his hand goes out to defend himself, to grab her wrist, in a viper-like sudden movement that might well mean Logan's returned to the driver's seat, but no. Just Nathan. Might not be so bad, what use is there in freeing him if he has no willpower left to do such things? As futile as they might be.

Not futile, because the needle suddenly disappears from the woman's hand, appearing in Peter's. He gives her a long look before he says, "If anyone's injecting anything into anyone it should be the only person in the room actually trained to give people injections." Not that he thinks it's going to work, but the way she was stabbing it at the man it was more likely to break a needle off into his skin that give a full dose of whatever this stuff is. He knows, in theory, what it is supposed to be, and what it is supposed to be capable of, but considering the source…

And the person getting threatened with a needle by someone without the training happens to still be the most important person in his life. Even if he wants to shoot him in the leg sometimes. And kick him in the shins, and punch him in the face, and remind him of petty childhood things, like the Mets tickets…

"Can you sit down, Nathan?" he asks, perpared to help the man to a chair that hasn't been ruined, bloodied and knocked over. And once they're there… there's really no reason to delay it any longer.

Niki doesn't exactly argue… she just… doesn't want to get anybody's hopes up. She wasn't even going to try to stop Heidi from trying.

But some things have to stop.

Niki walks the short distance to Peter and the chair meant to be Nathan's, not looking at Heidi on her way. She comes to lay a hand on the back of Peter's shoulder and gazes about pointedly at all three of them. It lands last on Nathan, and for the first time in this room, she addresses the man himself, her voice a good deal softer than it has been— not to mention lacking any ounce of Jessica. "Nathan…" she starts. "This… the serum… whatever, it might do something or not, but what we really wanted to show you is— we're all… trying to help you do this." Okay, so maybe they're a little divided as a team, but… "Logan isn't as in control as he thinks he is." She looks at Peter… then Nathan's wife, indefinitely. "You still have things worth fighting for."

He should let her do this, because Heidi fully believes that this is the right thing to do. It's the easiest solution possible, and it comes in a syringe, so it must work! That's not the best logic ever, but the desperation and drive to prevent Nathan from getting away from her yet again. He grabs her wrist, and she struggles, but she's also got an injury. It's not as bad as Nathan's, but it certainly robs her of strength, and Heidi can't get past him.

The delay allows time for Peter to relocate the needle from Heidi's hand, and just like that, her hope is gone. She was so close, too. Her face falls, eyes meeting Nathan's and pleading. "I want to be a family again, Nate," she says, voice barely above a whisper. "I want to get rid of that thing in your head."

And that's all she says for now, stepping away as Peter and Niki - the two sane people in the room at the moment - try to reason with her husband. Try to help him. She backs up until she's leaning on a wall, sliding part of the way down. She's been hiding for months, and now that she's finally able to do something… All these ideas that have been swimming around in her head seems each equally as important as the next. Her eyes look ceilingward.

So far? All she's done is beat him senseless.

Easing himself down into the chair, with much of Peter's assistance, Nathan rubs his forehead, and even as both his brother and then Niki speak to him, and Heidi lastly, his gaze mostly just tracks his wife's progression across the room, watches her slide down the wall to sit.

Finally, he looks up at Niki, and just sort of nods tiredly. They're here for him. To a painful degree. It could be worse, Logan truly could have won like he'd so promised. "Whatever you need to do," he says, swinging that look to Peter as well to include him, that broken quality to his voice making its raspy nature even more pronounced. Even with the status quo eventually balanced, provided this thing works at all… it's going to take some healing.

"She is right, Nathan… No matter what, I wouldn't let you lose me," Peter insists quietly, because now there's more of him to keep track of him, and he's only temporary. Once he's gone… taking his brother's arm, he delivers the injection, not expecting an immediate result as he adds, "And no matter how things get in the future… I'll always come back for you, Nathan. Even if I want to punch you in the face sometimes." Or shoot him in the knee…? Well… there were things that he's not quite resolved yet, it would seem.

"You're my brother, and no matter what… we'll always have the treehouse…" Their one place. The house that they built together when they were quite young. And the house they visited once in a dream, when they flew to escape Logan. "I don't expect an easy fix. I never did… but I need my brother. I'm going to need you even more in the upcoming years…" He knows, because he lived them.

Arms having folded, Niki is quiet throughout Peter's words to his brother, and it occurs to her that she's barely ever seen them together, outside of a few minutes, until tonight. She's never really seen that connection. "…I'll go get some water," she says softly, sneaking off toward the bedroom door — slowly, though, and with a glance back as if reluctant to leave everyone alone with one another.

To be fair, Logan has won, in a way. Who knows what the demon's ultimate goals were? To ruin things, to make Nathan a powerful man, to bring chaos to an already chaotic family - whatever it was, nothing good came out of it, and no good was intended, so, mission accomplished.

Heidi turns her back as Peter administers the serum, crossing her arms, trying to feel bad for what she did and completely failing. It's enough that she wants to worry about Nathan, while she's hardly the same person she was, either. Then there's the endless issues.

Looking over her shoulder for a second, then back toward the wall, she waits for Niki to leave before asking, "You okay, Poohbear?"

No wince as the needle slips into skin, watching it before drawing his gaze up towards Peter as he speaks. It doesn't make sense, but maybe it will, later. Four years happened. But it's been too long since the world shifted on its end for Nathan not to be able to accept such things. After all, he can fly. At the gentle question from his wife, the summoning of a nickname he didn't expect to hear again, Nathan evaluates what answer to give her. From 'no' to 'I will be' all the way through to, "Yeah. I'm okay."

"You'll be okay," Peter agrees, almost insisting. Maybe the future is being changed right now. Of course he's specifically not mentioned how things turned out for his brother in the future, but he moves to help his brother back up onto his feet. "You should lay down and get some sleep— and I need to bandage you, look over your wounds. I know I didn't fix everything. We'll keep an eye on you for a while… I promise. We'll take care of you." And… maybe they'll stop hitting Logan with baseball bats, or shooting him in the knee. Days of bed rest are the nurses orders. Only time will tell if this has managed to do anything…

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