2007-10-16: In One Piece


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Summary: More or less. Someone's back in town and both men are a little worse for wear.

Date It Happened: October 16th, 2007

In One Piece

Bat Country Labs

It's heading into evening when Nathan finally shuts his laptop, slouching back into the armchair. The youth of today types fast and furious and he's never really done that before, but, you adapt to your situation. He's just completed an hour and a half long chat session with countless students, some more amicable than others but all around, not bad. Best he can do from down here, in the basement under Seville Medical Center. Nothing can make up for the lack of public appearance for what's heading into more than a week, now, but at least it's a new move he's pretty sure Crane would never have thought of.

With a sigh, Nathan sets down his laptop onto a coffee table, and runs his fingers through uncombed hair. He's situated in the main room of Bat Country Labs, which is furnished more like an especially comfy lounge room, with bean bags, couchs, arm chairs, and shelves full of reading material. There's an exit leading towards the labarotory proper, and then a hallway towards an office, a staff area, and the makeshift "bedrooms". Lastly, the stairs and a doorway leading out, which he is now contemplating. It'd be nice to get some fresh air. God knows he deserves it. Instead, he reaches for the vodka mix he's made himself with what there is in the kitchen - basically a vodka and orange, very classy - and tries to ignore the temptation.

The exterior door opens and closes audibly, followed by the sound of uneven footsteps on the stairs. When Jack steps into view he's smiling, despite the hand he keeps pressed to his abdomen and the heavy adhesive bandage pasted across the bridge of a clearly broken nose. It's a subdued expression, but it's there. He's wearing a suit, matching overcoat, and expensive shoes, though all are scuffed and unpressed. He takes one limping step closer, then another.

"Hey, sport," he begins, nodding to Nathan as if they'd seen each other only a few hours ago instead of a few weeks. "Heard you're feeling under the weather."

Unlike Jack, Nathan doesn't even look like he's ever touched a suit, dressed very comfortably and warmly, as one might expect when sick. The feverish look about him and the paleness only add to the effect, even if overall, it just doesn't seem to suit him, if it ever did anyone. When the sound of footsteps first echoes through the room, Nathan looks up warily, hand reaching for his laptop to go and hide in his "bedroom", but curiousity forces him to at least wait and see who it is.

And the result is more surprising than Claire but less surprising than Niki. "…Jack?" Nathan says, stupidly, but getting to his feet all the same and looking him over. "You heard right - what the hell happened to you?" Both in terms of his disappearance, and the evidence of a broken face - although all things considered, that's not too surprising. Nathan moves around the coffee table to greet him, although he keeps his hands to himself, arms folded about him.

Jack's smile stretches into a crooked grin, though the mischevious sparkle in his eye that usually accompanies it is absent. He slips out of his overcoat and suit jacket simultaneously and lets the pile of clothing fall to the floor in a careless heap. When he turns his head to the side he exposes a second bandage that covers a palm-sized area where his shoulder and neck meet. He digs a pistol from a holster at the small of his back, ejects the clip, and tosses both atop his clothing. A short, wide-bladed knife strapped to his wrist follows as he rolls up his sleeves.

"I heard," Jack explains as he tiredly piles up clothing and gear. "Don't worry about me, I'm fine. Great. What the hell is going on here? I have a thousand messages, and most of them say there's sick people here. Talk to me, white man."

Nathan blinks rapidly as more injuries are revealed, and Jack sets about disarming himself and not answering his question. "So I should just pretend like you're not dressed up as some kind of mafia swiss army knife?" he asks, but then shakes his head - letting it go. There's a lot of what Jack does day to day that Nathan would prefer not to know anyway, and he gestures to indicate that Jack can come further into the room. Either way, he's moving to sit against the arm of a couch, reeeaching to pick up his vodka mix. "God, okay. Not sure where to start. First, how are you feeling? Cass or someone was meant to contact you and ask if you were feeling sick at all."

"Sick?" Jack's lips quirk a third time, but this smile isn't as easy to interpret as the others. "A bit, but I know why. Nothing to worry about, and nothing like what you folks have been going through, from what I can gather." He limps over to a comfortable-looking chair and eases down into it with a soft sigh. When he glances back over at Nathan, all traces of humor are gone from his face. Though he does his best to conceal his concern, there's a tightness around his jaw and a definite creasing between his brows. "I take it you wouldn't be here if things weren't fairly serious?"

"Correct," Nathan says, with his own brand of unreadable smile, gaze dropping down towards the glass in his hands. When he next talks, his tone is explanatory, a little roughened from whatever this sickness is. "The only thing we know is that it's a virus, it's not airborne, seems to attack people with abilities and— it's otherwise a mystery." He shrugs apologetically, looking back up at the man. "You'll have to ask Cass or someone for the details but the current theory is that it has to do with the outbreak at Mt. Sinai about six months ago, and a virus Peter might have brought back with him from the future. So far I think it's just me, Elena, Pete and this girl, Evelyn. Now, the first virus's lethal, second one doesn't have any symptoms but power loss. Right now we just have some kind of fever flu thing." Contemplative pause. "And it's timing sucks." He gestures about the room, indicating the basement in general and looking back up at Jack. "We're staying in one spot so it doesn't spread. And… that's about the long and short of it."

The word 'lethal' definitely gets Jack's attention. His brow furrows deeper and he steeples his fingers into a pensive triangle. "Well, this absolutely sucks. No, I haven't noticed any flu symptoms, but I've had a lot going on. Physically, that is." He rubs briefly at the bandage on his neck. "Bah. I don't suppose there's anyone I can punch some answers out of, is there?" The query is punctuated by an arched eyebrow, and one long-fingered hand digs into the pocket of his rumpled slacks.

Nathan shifts just enough to sit into the couch properly, legs stretching out in front of him. "I don't think there is," Nathan says, ruefully. "But you should probably have Cass draw some blood from you anyway, you were at the hospital. Apparently." He only knows that Peter was there, he didn't really know Elena or Jack at that point in time. With two smooth gulps, he finishes off the rest of the vodka and juice, setting the glass aside and settling further into the couch, arms back around himself, seemingly smaller in stature in sickness, almost. "But really, what happened to you?" This is delivered a little more seriously, narrowing his eyes at his friend.

"Surprise family reunion," Jack quips dryly. This time there's nothing sincere about his smile, and he only pretends for a few seconds before frowning and letting out a sigh. "I had to go out of town. I did some things I'm not proud of. Got knocked around a bit by some people I'm not fond of. You probably wouldn't approve of the details. What's important is that everybody's still alive, myself included."

The Irishman has changed in his brief time away from the city and his friends. Not just the injuries. It's visible in his face, and most of all in the eyes. He's tired, and sad. There's an air of quiet determination about him, and the small, premature wrinkles he's always seemed to bear have grown deeper.

When he finally pulls his hand from his pants pocket he's holding a small, penlike injector, white with red and black labeling in large, bold letters. Unceremoniously, he jabs it into his thigh through the fabric of his slacks and depresses the plunger with his thumb. Immediately, his pupils dilate slightly, his respiration speeds, and the muscles in his torso tense visibly. In contrast, the craggy, unhappy frowns and creases in his face smooth dramatically, leaving him looking far more relaxed.

Concern is written all over Nathan's face - although because it's Nathan, it seems more like irritation, but if you know him well enough, it's because he's worried. The answer he gets isn't really an answer, but he takes Jack's word for it when he's told he wouldn't approve of the details. Unsatisfied but smart enough not to pry, Nathan just nods, lines at his eyes a little deeper. Then, Jack stabs himself in the thigh with that injection, and the politician unashamedly starts, back straightening. There's a silence as he simply watches whatever that was affect the man in front of him, the relaxation setting in. "…what the fuck was that?"

If there's one person that Jack can trust and speak the truth to, it's Nathan. He rolls the spent injector between thumb and forefinger several times, considering how to phrase his response. In then end he puffs out a pent-up breath and tosses it to his best friend. The label is handwritten in a very, very foreign language, but the red and black text doesn't look at all friendly. "I'm not exactly sure what it is," he finally replies. "Adrenaline, anesthetics, and some sort of counteragent for this…"

Jack reaches up to rip the bandage away from his neck, revealing not a wound, but a wrinkled, thumb-sized indentation with a small, angry red lump in the center. "I was injected with some sort of toxin. If I don't shoot up every few hours, I start to get pretty sick." He pauses to cough delicately into a clenched fist. "It's been a busy couple of weeks."

The object is caught, if a little clumsily, Nathan hunching over so that his elbows can rest against his knees as he studies the thing, unsure of exactly what he's looking at. When Jack explains, he looks up again, obviously a little stunned by this revelation, if also a little horrified, but he plays it off well. "Apparently," he responds, tone somewhat hollow as he blinks at the Irishman. Then, he shakes his head. "Jesus, Jack, who? This— wasn't the Company or something, was it?" Briskly, the spent injector is tossed back over.

Jack catches it and tucks it back into his pocket. "No, it's nobody that you know. Old enemy. Nothing to worry about now, as long as I keep getting my fix until I figure out how to get this thing out of me." He taps the indentation in his neck with a fingertip, the reaffixes the bandage in place to cover it. "I'll be fine," he continues with almost believable nonchalance. "Don't tell anyone yet, okay? I don't want them to worry. I already know what's wrong with me, it's you sick people that everyone should be concerned about." He waves broadly, indicating the living area of the lab and its quarantined occupants.

Nathan doesn't seem convinced, but momentary distraction comes in the form of a mild coughing fit, hands coming up to shield, before readjusting his jacket around himself once it's over. The navy wool along with the sickness almost ages him by about ten years. "Fine," he says, clearing his throat a little when his voice comes out fairly ragged, starting again. "Fine, I won't tell anyone. But you know you're surrounded by people who can help you, who will help you, inevitably, whether you like it or not."

Jack leans back in his seat and kicks his feet up onto a second chair. The left comes up considerably slower than the right, and is placed a great deal more carefully. The coughing fit elicits a concerned glance from Jack, and he frowns again unhappily. Asking someone who's sick if they're okay tends to be counterproductive, so he moves straight on to a reply. "I know. I'm going to need somebody's help getting this thing out of my neck, and if I can't, I'll need help cooking up more injections eventually. The rest of this is just wear and tear from a bad trip out of town," he explains, touching his broken nose, his abdomen, and a spot just above his left knee. "For now, it seems like everyone has enough to worry about. We can sort out my family issues after we take care of the people who might die soon."

When Jack meets Nathan's eyes squarely, the depth of his concern becomes visible for the first time. "Want some water or something?"

"No, I'm good," Nathan dismisses, own gaze shying away from Jack's and instead studying the hems of his sleeves, as if they were of sudden interest. "So you can't go to a hospital, even?" Crazy thought, actually relying on conventional authorities. Nathan can't remember the last time he'd ever called the police, despite there being moments when he would have, as late as early last year. But he doesn't quite want to push Jack towards Cass, the woman has enough on her plate.

"No, hospital isn't really an option," Jack verifies with a grimace. "Not sure they'd be able to help, anyway. I'm betting whatever is in my neck and whatever is in those syrettes is well outside their area of expertise. I know a doc in the city who lost his license a while back. He's good with surgery and with drugs." The fingers of his left hand twitch involuntarily for several seconds, so he stuffs them back into his pants pocket. "I just got back in town. I plan to see him soon."

Nathan shakes his head a little, doubt obvious as he looks at Jack plainly. But also doubtful would be that the younger man came here for Nathan's approval. "Alright," he says, finally. "Take care of yourself." A pause of consideration, then, "Want a drink? All I have is a bottle of vodka I got from— well. A friend in high places." That draws a twitch of a smirk, like an injoke only he gets. "Kubanskaya."

"Och, that sounds delicious. You're sick, I'll get it." Now that their previous topic is closed, Jack looks much more at ease. Not because they're done talking about it. Because he got to talk about it without having to worry anyone with a vagina. He groans a bit as he drops his feet back to the floor and leans forward. "Just point me in the right direction. And Nate? Thanks." His last statement is delivered with his back turned to his friend, eyes ostensibly roaming around in search of the aforementioned lemony vodka.

"No, lemme get it," Nathan says, pushing himself up to stand, a little awkwardly. "I'm hiding it, before someone takes it from me, or Peter gets into it." That's right, he finally managed to get himself a booze stash down here. It was bound to happen eventually. "It's like prison, I'm telling you. You can grab a couple of glasses out of the kitchen, just over there. And… don't worry about it." The thanks, that is, and Jack is spared a glance before Nathan disappears around the corner to go and collect the promised booze.

Jack climbs to his feet with a stifled groan and limps into the kitchen. He digs around until he comes up with a couple of highball glasses and a fistful of ice. When he stumps back in and plops down with the vessels in hand he calls out, "Look on the bright side. At least you didn't have to brew your vodka in the toilet."

As he speaks, he sets the glasses down and glances around to make sure Nathan is still out of sight. Quickly, he digs two more injectors from his pocket, pops the caps, and jabs both into his chest simultaneously. The needles aren't long enough to reach his heart, but common sense tells him that his chest is still closer to it than his leg. A spasming jerk wrenches his body and sweat beads around his brow. After a few smaller tremors he stops gasping for air and stuffs the used injectors into his pocket with their companions. He wipes his forehead on his sleeve, composes his face, and waits for Nathan's arrival. There are still telltale signs. Jack's pupils are fully dilated now, and he's breathing as if he's walking briskly rather than relaxing on a couch.

When Nathan wanders back in, the tall, glass bottle in hand, the item covered in cyrllic labeling. Considering the owner, there's really not a lot missing, the contents almost full, as if he's preserving it. "That is a bright side," he says, as he pours them both reasonable, if not particularly generous helpings of the vodka. It's then he looks back at Jack, hesitates, then chooses to ignore whatever signs are visible as he sits back down, liquor bottle set down at his feet, "Cheers," he says, grimly, lifting his glass.

"Bottoms up," Jack agrees. Rather than his usual manly gulps, he drinks sparingly, taking a fast series of small sips. After downing a bit he sets his glass aside for the moment. "So talk to me," he says, making eye contact with Nathan again. "I've been out of touch for too long. Other than this bout of sickness, anything else happening around here that I should know about?"

Nathan is also sparing in the way he drinks, taking a sip and then pausing to consider Jack's question, almost looking amused when really his mind only goes 'well there's a virus and it's a virus then there's a virus also a virus'. It's been a very long week. "Well, I'm three weeks away from losing the election," he says, with almost jovial pessimism. "And the Company's gone and lost three very dangerous power-having individuals, one of which killed my brother. Twice. If you're bored, you can always go see what that's about."

"Sounds fun," Jack responds impassively. "I don't imagine you being cooped up in here is helping your chances in the election. And more bad guys on the loose? You didn't do a very good job of keeping an eye on things while I was away." It's a gentle prod that comes complete with a small smile, meant to underplay two very serious issues. As there's little Jack can do to help with the election or the virus at this point, so he focuses on his area of expertise. Bad guys. "Man, your brother dies more than anyone I've ever met. Know much about the escapees?"

"Peter will know more, they turned up in some dream… thing." Nathan just holds up a hand. Don't ask, he doesn't know, just go with it. "The one that attacked him was this woman, she could— make things burn or melt with her hands, or something. I didn't get a good look. Then another man who I didn't meet, Peter mentioned he could— slice things. From a distance. You know what I mean." He reaches over to grab a newspaper he'd tossed aside ages ago, hands it over. "The best leads I have for you are the news stories about random, violent happenings around the city. I haven't been paying a lot of attention." The story Jack will find details the most recent attack and the victims, including that of Nadia Selvaggi.

Jack accepts the paper and scans it quickly, eyes searching for words like 'assault', 'murder', 'unexplained', and so on. When he runs into the story about the Selvaggi girl his eyes go wide and his hand clenches into a spastic, white-knuckled fist. Though the two were never close, Nadia had been a beautiful, vivacious young woman and a close friend of his niece. It takes him a few seconds to unclench. When he does, he tosses the paper aside and takes up his vodka glass, summarily draining it to the dregs and looking more like his old self than he has since he arrived. "Yeah," he mutters. "This is something I can help with. Tell Peter he can expect to hear from me soon."

The reaction isn't hard to miss, Nathan's brow furrowing a little as he watches Jack carefully, before taking a further sip from his own glass. "By all means," he says, gently. "But Peter's even sicker than I am. His regeneration isn't doing what it should. He needs to play patient for a little while longer."

"I understand," Jack responds immediately. "You guys aren't well. I might not be doing super, but I'm still on my feet and functional. I just want to know whatever he knows. This is the kind of work I do better on my own, anyway." He grits his teeth and staggers back to his feet, then stoops awkwardly to collect his clothing and his gear. He reloads his pistol and tucks back into the small of his back, stuffs the knife into one of his pockets, then drapes his overcoat loosely around his shoulders. "Sooner I start, the sooner I'll finish. You need anything in here? Booze? Porno? I bet you're pretty bored."

"Yeah, just… be careful. Ask him what he knows but— just be careful." Ever since Peter leapt into that situation on his own, Nathan's just not trusting his younger brother not to do anything stupid. After polishing off his vodka with a content sigh afterwards, he gets to his feet, as it's the polite thing to do when someone's leaving. "I'd kill for some beer," he informs his friend, then adds, dryly, "I can— live without porn for a little while longer. I have the Internet if I get desperate. Hey, Jack?" A flicker of a smile. "Nice to see you again."

Jack pauses on his way to the door and glances over his shoulder at Nathan. "I know. Your brother tends to beat himself up over other people's problems. Don't worry, I'll be gentle with him." A few more limping steps, then another pause, though he doesn't turn again. "It was good to see you, too. Glad you're in one piece."

There's obviously more to the statement than a simple platitude and a smile. There's a mixture of concern and relief in Jack's voice that's hard to miss. There's no time to explore it, though. The next sound anyone can hear is the door slamming shut behind him.

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