2007-08-20: DF: Never Believed In

Starring:

DFKate_icon.gif DFNathanReal_icon.gif

Summary: Two siblings-in-law smoke their cigarettes outside of a hospital in upstate New York.

Dark Future Date: August 20, 2009

Never Believed In


Upstate New York, Hospital

Early midday. People are looking to him to tell them what to do and it hasn't even been 12 hours since he'd been "rescued". A healer had seen to him and he almost felt normal - he could even remove the bandages from his right hand, though he doesn't actually want to, regretting unraveling the white material once he'd done so. Nathan still had some pride left not to ask a nurse to redo it, so, now he's stuck with it. Healed skin, but a missing finger all the same. He'd figure it out later. There's, in fact, a lot to figure out later.

Right now, there were too many options. He'd gone from Logan's prisoner, to Jack's prisoner, to the Saint's permanent guest, to utter freedom and control, and that was terrifying.

So. Nathan is hiding. Very heroic.

Old cigarette butts litter the ground from worried relatives and hospital visitors passed. He had told security to back off, and even if they did call him "Mr. President", it took a lot of convincing. Nathan's unsure if he's even really alone now, but he can't actually see anyone, and that's good enough for him. His clothes are changed, fresh, he's showered, he's eaten, so now, he balances this by lighting up a cigarette in the privacy of the side alley, roadside sealed off, breathing in a deep lungful of semi-poisonous smoke.

Upstate New York. Kate hates it here, but it's where the president has been relocated in order to receive proper medical attention. And when Homeland Security's buying your tank of gas, well, who are you to say no? It's been a long time since Kate actually drove anywhere. She's been employing the use fo the Petrelli Teleporting System (registered trademark) more often than not for long journeys. But for her brother-in-law? She'll drive the car.

Taking a spot in visitor parking, Kate leans her head against the steering wheel and takes a deep breath. "Please," she murmurs, but nothing more. Maybe she doesn't know what she's asking. She certainly doesn't know whom she's pleading with. She rubs her temples and glances at the clock on the dash. She made pretty good time, all things considered. She steps out of the car and heads into the hospital. After showing all the proper ID badges for clearance, she's given President Petrelli's room number. When she doesn't find him in there, and the nurse tells her that there's no clue when he'll be back, she does the only thing she can do.

Kate wanders outside to the alley for a cigarette. If there was ever a time she needed menthol and nicotine, now would be that time. Even socialite terrorists need to indulge their habits in private once in a while. "Aw… Fuck," she mutters as she flicks her lighter in vain to discover it empty. "Hey, do you have a li-" When she looks up at the other occupant of the alley, the cigarette drops from her lips.

"When did you start smoking?" That's all she can think to say after she finds her voice again. Kate stoops down to retrieve her cigarette and then runs her fingers through her hair. Her chestnut hair. Even in the more subdued light of the alley, he can see the dark purple bruise on her cheek, oddly matching the sundress and the sandals that lace and crisscross their way up over her calves.

Nathan really isn't too startled when someone joins him in his solitude, leaning back against the brick work and staring blankly at the opposite wall, smoking cigarette caught between two fingers in his left hand. As the door leading outside swings open, he doesn't even glance over at first, just digs a hand into his pocket to offer the lighter, as that surely is the end of that request. When the end doesn't come, he glances over, thoughts going from 'you are the President, that would be a little surprising for someone to run into' to 'I guess they really are leaving you alone for now' and then quickly diverting into '…' in the space of one second.

"Two days ago," Nathan states, flatly, then finally takes the lighter out of his pocket, stepping forward so as to touch the flame to the tip of her cigarette, hand with its missing finger cupping around it to shield it from the slight breeze making clothes and hair rustle. All the while, he looks at her, feeling a brand of 'stunned' that hasn't entirely caught up to him yet.

Kate takes a drag from her newly lit cigarette and eyes the man warily through the smoke. "Logan?" The tone throws her. It sounds like Nathan's… It just sounds like him, okay? But Logan is a very good actor. He just… This isn't the reaction she was expecting. Not that she knew what to expect in the first place. Not that she knew she would even find him out here of all places.

Get a grip, Nathan. This wasn't exactly the reunion you'd been counting upon but you used to be better at this whole talking to people thing, okay? So get a damn grip. "No," he says, a little shakily. His gaze drifts to the bruise on her face, darkens, and he leans his shoulder against the brick wall, as if tired. "I don't know where he is anymore." Which should be a good thing, but his tone is grave, wary, and his cigarette his dropped in favour of gripping Kate's arm and drawing her close to hold - to be held, maybe, or both.

Kate already abandoned her cigarette from the word 'no.' When he draws her in, she doesn't fight it, but rather, accepts it and returns it. She throws her arms around Nathan fiercely and squeezes. A low whimper escapes her throat, betraying the crying she does now against his shoulder.

It's like a rule. You don't cry in front of anyone. Being the eldest son in a family like his, then a husband, a father, that ingrains this skill in until it's instinct. So Nathan doesn't, not this time anyway, but takes what comfort he can, holding her to him for a long while and for possibly the first time since he was broken out of his little home away from home, he feels relieved. Like it's okay for right now, even if there's just so much to do and he doesn't know where to start. Eventually, his grip on her loosens, hand coming up to pet over her newly dyed hair before drawing away. "I don't think it's permanent," he says, almost a whisper. "I feel like he's just waiting. But he's weak." Kind of like a wounded predator - down but dangerous.

Kate pulls away slowly, sniffling faintly. "I was so scared I'd never see you again. I hijacked the airwaves to plead with Jack to give you back to me. After his woman confronted me, I was afraid you were already dead." One small hand rests on Nathan's right forearm, just holding there for now.

"Haven't seen any media about it," Nathan admits. Not even Jack's mock up Oval Office, or the ransom messages. Probably a good thing. He looks at her for a moment, then simply pulls her close again, but in a more distanced, less desperate hold, arm around her shoulders, so that they can both lean against the wall and talk, and take comfort. "After they figured out what was wrong with me, they weren't going to kill me. Took a telepath to convince 'em, though."

"I wondered what had happened when Mah told me that she knew." Kate frowns faintly and rests her head against Nathan's shoulder when he wraps his arm around her again. She needs the reassurance more than he, it would seem. Her hand slides from his forearm and laces with his fingers tightly. In spite of, or perhaps because of, his missing digit. "She's got a mean right cross. Maybe they want me dead worse than you now. Pretty sure that's the case."

Nathan manages, just barely, not to twitch his hand away when she laces her five fingers with his four. It must feel strange, he knows it looks strange, but maybe that's the point, so he forces himself to relax. Like it's nothing. "I don't think they're prepared to trust anyone," he tells her. "People keep switching sides, all the time. I can't even trust myself with their information anymore."

It does feel strange. Kate's laced fingers with Nathan countless times and this just… doesn't feel like him. It's just missing something… And it's not just a finger. "No, I suppose not. My husband and I don't trust anyone anymore, either. Not since Logan found me the last time." She shakes her head, "Don't suppose you'd know who the traitor in my camp is, would you?" Perhaps his dry sense of humour is rubbing off on her as well, because she doesn't actually wait for an answer. Instead, she pivots on the ball of one foot so she can stand in front of Nathan and plant a kiss on his forehead. "I was so worried about you. Let's not do this again." Her hand squeezes his lightly and she brushes her thumb over his palm.

She earns a weary smile for that, and Nathan nods minutely. "Agreed." Then, grimness sets back in. "Except it helped. It was helping. Not sure what good it'd do for this country but as long as I was there, Logan couldn't get out. They were going to help me." That sounds like it had come as a surprise to him - as if the best he could hope for was a permanent stay with the key thrown away.

Kate's expression turns stormy and it looks as though she may cry again. She refrains, for now. "I can help you." Peter could help him. "That night that you came to see me, after you had shot Jessica Sanders… I went home and I told Peter. He…" She closes her eyes, as if shutting out a painful memory. "I figured if anything happened to me, I…" Her eyes open again, but she turns her head away for the moment, blinking away another round of tears before she forces herself to meet his eyes. "Is it my fault? Did I do this to you by keeping it to myself for so long?"

For a moment, Nathan looks stunned, although that begins when she says that she told her husband. Still, he answers her. "It wouldn't have done anyone any good," he says, faintly, though he shakes his hand loose from hers, backs up a step. "They had to see it for themselves. They barely believed it when I was right there." Now. Now. He steadies a hand against the wall. "Peter knew? Did he believe you?" Please say no.

Kate gives him a look that's part incredulous and part distraught. "Of course he believed me. I'm his wife. …He pries into my mind if he thinks I'm lying to him." Not that she knows for sure whether he did or not in this instance. "You said I was the only one who knew. And since he- Since the night with the mirror- I always felt it wasn't my secret to share. Just mine to keep." The look on his face and the way he distances himself from her causes the tears to start falling again. She opens her mouth to say something else, maybe in her own defense, but nothing comes.

For a moment, Nathan is caught up in his own thoughts, glaring furiously away. Then, he looks towards Kate, and he sighs. "No. No it's not like that. You did…" Get a grip, Nathan. Another sigh, bringing a hand to rub restlessly at the back of his neck. "You did the right thing." He closes the distance once more, in an attempt to pull her into a comforting hug. It also helps, because he can lower his voice to more of a whisper when he expresses the true hurt. "He's the only one who could have found me," he murmurs. "And he didn't."

That's what hurts the most, isn't it? Kate clings tightly to Nathan and just sobs into his arms. "He said it was my fault that you were in trouble. That if I'd just told him sooner, when Logan first gloated to me about who he is, that he could have helped you." She readjusts her hold, if only so it keeps her from exercising her instincts to punch the wall behind him until her knuckles bleed, and break. "He was punshing me." Maybe a little sick when you think about it, but it makes sense. "He's been busy looking for Gray."

At least Nathan can blame a separate personality for being a dick. What excuse does Peter have? This is the irrational thought that enters his mind, that quickly flickers out again. It's not like Logan helped matters. Probably twisted Peter worse simply by acting as he did under the name of Nathan Petrelli.

Still.

Nathan releases her once more, trying to go back to stoicism, keeping his opinions and thoughts of Peter inside, for better or for worse. "Any luck on finding him?" Likely, he only knows of Gray's surival through Logan's gloating of Kate's cooperation, of the predicament Peter would find himself in.

Kate shakes her head. "None. At least, none that he's told me. With my…" She makes a vague sort of gesture about her head that may or may not devolve into a circle drawn around one ear. "He's never home with me anymore. He's always out. Not that he shouldn't be, but…" She takes in a deep breath and lets out a shuddering sigh. "I thought he was going to kill me the other night. I really thought I had finally done it, and he was going to kill me." She rubs at her left arm absently, in a gesture she doesn't even recognise. "He was just so angry… That was when he told me it was my fault. And he-" She swallows back the lump forming in her throat and tangles her fingers in her hair, tugging at her scalp lightly in an attempt to focus on something else and to keep from sobbing again. "My marriage is in trouble, Nate." Her voice cracks, heavy with emotion despite her best efforts.

He watches her as he speaks, looking no happier with his brother as she goes… looking no happier, period. But it's her final utterance that seems to distance him, and Nathan takes his weight off the wall, backing away once more and spreading his arms a fraction. "Then leave him," he says, a little hollowly. "If you need protection, I can try and do what I can with what I have, but Kate. I can't fix a marriage I never believed in from the start. I only found out where my own wife is a few days ago." He looks like he's desperate for another cigarette, or to leave, because he doesn't like what he's hearing, but in a way, he's unsure as to why he's hearing it.

"You can't protect me from him." Whether she refers to Gray or her husband is up for debate. Maybe both. "He asked me if I still loved you," Kate admits, taking her own step back. "I never thought my Peter would be so petty." She purses her lips. "Nathan… If you could go back and change it all, would you change… what happened between us?" She looks away and shakes her head. "No, that isn't fair. I'm not sure I want to hear the answer anyway. I'm glad you've found Heidi." It sounds as though she means it, too.

Nathan's expression is one of confusion. Change what? To what? From what? Apparently, he agrees that it's unfair. "There are too many things I would change," he says, heavily. "About everything. I just want my family back." His brother, his wife, his dead son - hell, whatever it was Mara used to be to him, or… whatever it was he used to be to her, rather. He looks distraught for a moment, a week's worth of restless non-sleeping catching up to him, and he moves for the door. "I'm sorry your marriage is in trouble," he mutters as he brushes by her.

"Nathan, I-" Kate reaches out to touch his arm. "I did bring you something." She reaches into her purse and pulls out a very book-shaped, paper-wrapped parcel. "Here. I thought you might…" She shrugs and holds it out. "Maybe you'll like it. Maybe you'll think I'm foolish. I just thought you might…"

Nathan's almost at the door - maybe flight instincts translate into fleeing ones too - but the touch to his arm and her next words buy time. His back to her where he's halted, he brings his hands up to rub at his face, before turning back to her, back to his brand of grim stoicism. But he steps closer again, raising an eyebrow curiously, then hesitantly holds out a hand for it. "Even if you didn't know who you'd be talking to today?" he queries.

"Why do you think I didn't give it to you right away? I figured I could always hit Logan in the head with it. Repeatedly." Kate's grin is sly, teasing. Even if she does look like she might fall apart at the seams. "Go on. Open it." She waits for him to tear apart the paper packaging and reveal a copy of The Corrections, by Franzen. The copy he gave her when he visited her in the hospital, once upon a time. "I thought it might be an… appropriate gift."

Nathan lets the paper fall away to rest on the alleyway ground, brushing his thumb along the thick spine of the novel, about an America that thought it had it bad before. Not that he ever did get that far. "Thank you," he says, without looking up at first. "Ending any good?" Doesn't really matter. He pulls her in for an almost brotherly kiss to the cheek, though his hand lingers.

The book is well worn, looking as though it's been read and re-read many times over. Must be good. "You're welcome." She manages a faint smile that disappears in a moment of surprise when he pulls her in. Kate returns the kiss - in a sisterly fashion, of course. Though she catches herself reaching up to brush her fingers through the hair at the nape of his neck. "I wouldn't change a thing," she murmurs, thinking out loud.

Considering his earlier sentiments, that's an interesting thing to hear. Nathan looks at her for a moment, then draws her hand away, even as he slips his fingers in between hers. "You don't mean that," he states, plainly, and then he's moving away, gripping the book in his injured hand, the other pulling the door open.

"Some of it," Kate reaches out to hold the door open for him. "The obvious, of course." Logan. What the war has done to them. Those sorts of things. "I'll come back again in a couple of days, if that's okay with you."

Nathan glances back at her, and simply nods. He's gotten used to the idea that in the space of a couple of days, the world can flip its axis - but he agrees. "Look out for yourself," is his parting advice, before disappearing back inside the hospital.

"I will, hon. You, too." Kate lets the door close once Nathan's inside, standing out in the alleyway to fish out another cigarette. But when she goes to light it… "Damn."

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