2010-03-18: Old Friends, New Foe

Starring:

Nathan2_V4icon.pngTori_V4icon.png

Date: March 18, 2010

Summary:

A mysterious phone number connects Tori with a blast from her past who talks her into helping him fight the government. But he is the government. Confusing!


"Old Friends, New Foe"

Manhattan

Tori stares at the slip of paper with the mysterious number scrawled on it. Cody was oddly cryptic when she gave it to the Brit — if it's a job she wants Tori to do, one would think she would have given her instructions of some sort. She brushes her fingers across the number, but it doesn't give her much information — all she can see is Cody writing down the number, but not its source. Not who it belongs to.

Curled in a thrift-store find of an armchair in her little studio apartment, Tori finally presses the digits in, bringing the phone to her ear to listen for the mystery voice on the other line. She has no idea what to expect — is it a trap? A joke? Will there be a set of riddling instructions on the other end, like in a spy movie: The goose has flown south for the winter?

Working in the Living Room of the Petrelli safehouse is moderately counterproductive today. Nathan can't focus. It's almost a relief when his phone rings. "Hello?" it's more a tentative question than answer to the phone call itself.

The voice — it might be familiar, except all Americans sound the same, don't you know? For someone from such a small island with so many diverse accents, it's practically true, and Tori frowns. "Hello, who's this?" she asks, her own London accent crisp and distinct. It's odd to ask the person you called who they are — it stinks of solicitors and telemarketing, but she isn't sure how else to manage the strange communication.

"Uh… you called me…" Nathan's response is as he smirks on the other end of the phone. "Who are you looking for? If you tell me then… I can tell you if I'm them or not…" More words give more of a hint, maybe. "I'm not interested in buying anything if that's what you're getting at —"

The words bring her back — to foggy nights on the docks, to warm laughter over Guinness in a festive pub. Her breath catches in her chest. But what if it's a joke — or what if it's just her ears playing tricks on her, because she wants it to be him? "Brayden?" The name is whispered, and her eyes close, clutching the phone, waiting for a mockery to come through the line. What if he forgot he was Brayden? What if it's not him at all? Though Tracy Strauss knew him by that name, said it was publicly known he had "memory issues."

Wait. Wait. "Tori?" Nathan quirks an eyebrow. "No one really calls me that anymore," he suppresses an almost ironic chuckle. "What are you … how did you… where are you?" his nose wrinkles as he grasps for information on the Brit.

"Oh, right. Senator," she says, an apologetic tone in her voice. It's strange to call someone she stole and smuggled with by such a title, but she's a barrister's daughter and used to calling people silly titles if they have them. Lords and ladies, even. Dukes and Earls. "I'm in New York. I … someone I work for gave me this number, didn't tell me who it led to. She knew about me in Ireland and about me knowing you, but she hadn't mentioned anything about it for a while… I didn't think about that when I rang you." Babbling. Flustered. But it's a happy flustered! "Are you quite all right? The newspapers all have you written up as mysteriously ailing and whatnot. You sound all right…"

"Don't call me Senator. I…" Nathan's feelings around the word only yield a shake of his head and a heavy sigh. "Nate, Nathan, Brayden, are all fine. He chuckles again at the notion of the papers, "Don't believe everything you read. I… I was incarcerated. Unjustly. Without trial, conviction, or charges. The government has managed to cover their tracks though, at least when it comes to exaggerating my apparent health issues. I was never sick. Am not sick…"

Tori frowns. Incarcerated? "You're a … senator… they can do that?" she says, worry in her voice. "Are you all right? And your … your memory, it's back — you found your old life — is it … aside from the incarceration, are you well?" She worried about him over the past year, figuring to never see him again. Finding out he was a senator was almost like losing a friend twice. Especially for the girl whose only friends so far are her fellow grad students, and they are all busy with juggling families and jobs with their schoolwork.

"They can't. They've extended the Patriot Act further than it was intended. I was arrested because… I can fly. Of course, you know that," Nathan grins with a dimpled cheek. "Things are a mess in this government. And yeah, I got my memory back. Things are…" he frowns a little as he reflects on the last few months. "… they're not what I expected. Are you okay? I'm glad you're in New York." He sighs a little again before smiling, his smile carries through the tone of his voice, "It's good to hear from you. Honestly, I haven't exactly felt comfortable in my own skin here…"

"I'm sorry," Tori says softly. He's not the same happy go lucky thief she knew in Ireland, that much is clear. "I'm good. Well. Pretty good," she says with a chuckle. "I'm going to grad school at Columbia, which is why I'm here. And … someone knew about what we did in Ireland, so they're sort of … I'm kind of an errand girl to basically wipe that record. They don't know what I can do though. No one here does." Except him.

"Keep it that way," Nathan says earnestly. "Honestly Tori, it's a mess here. Something is going on. They are using people like us as weapons…" Although arguably, Nathan knows his ability doesn't exactly make him dangerous and so it's been a point of confusion for him. "Who gave you this number?" There's only a handful of people who have it. A very small handful that he's tried to keep small.

"I … I don't think I'm supposed to tell but since it's you…" she says nervously, chewing her lower lip. "Agent Barker. I … kind of work for her. But not like, for money. To wipe my record and make sure I don't get deported. Or worse." Like, imprisoned. She's sure that if Barker knew about Ireland it wouldn't be too hard to find out about her bank robbery.

Who is Agent Barker? Nathan wrinkles his nose. "Do you mean.. Baker?" His eyes narrow some. "You won't be deported or imprisoned if you don't do her bidding, I can almost guarantee that. I don't even think she works…" for the government now. "Not that it would hurt to help her out. She's trying to stop this government threat too…"

Tori frowns. "I haven't had to do a lot but … I don't know. It seems sketchy. But she can't even help me? It was a lie?" she asks, shaking her head. She's way too naive for this world — even if she was a bank robber/thief/smuggler. There's a sigh and a pause. "I should let you go… it was nice to hear your voice though. I worried about you — I really didn't think I'd ever see you again." Not that she can see him now, but a conversation is close enough. "And when I found out who you are here… it seemed even less likely, you know? I ran into some blonde cow named Tracy who made me feel like a little kid when I mentioned knowing you. I mean… Ireland… that's a universe away." Her voice is a little wistful.

"Wait. You ran into Tracy?" Nathan says with furrowed brows. "She's a tough one that Tracy." His lips curl upwards into a smile. "Look, I only stepped into the Senator gig again because of everything going on with the government. I don't… really buy into it anymore…" He chuckles. "It's not a bad thing that I'm doing it, but I just… I wonder if it's actually who I am. You know? When I could be anything I wanted I joined a gang and worked in a pub. You have to admit that's pretty much as far away from politics as possible…"

"Well. When you could be anything that you could be without papers or identification, you joined a gang," she reminds him. She's a stickler for details. "That sort of limited your scope a bit, I'm sure." She still sounds a little sad — New York sounds more dangerous in some ways than what they did back in Ireland, fighting the other thugs and finding geisha bobbleheads full of drugs. "Maybe you can disappear again, since you're underground, do what you want again, though."

"I would. Buuuuuut. I'm shockingly responsible now. I have three children. One illegitimate that I owe the world right now, and two sons. And I was married. Separated now. I… had issues before I forgot everything." Nathan sighs again. "I need to fix this for my kids and then…" he shrugs. "…then maybe I'm out. I don't really know."

"God. Brayden, a dad of three. That's bloody frightening," Tori says with a laugh. What's strange too is she's not much older than the illegitimate daughter, not that Tori knows that. "I'm sorry to hear about your marriage, though. I always hoped you got to the US and found nothing but good times, but I guess that was a naive little dream on my part. By the way, before your ego gets too big, I thought you were in California — don't you go thinking that I came to New York for you." She's joking of course.

"Ha!" Nathan laughs. "Seriously. I might be the worst parent ever." He laughs again. "But, it's good to have a place I belong. And yes, I was in California. At a Buddhist monastery. There was a monk I got to know well and… I had flickers of memories, but nothing real. Mostly dejavu and then I found myself here through a very strange set of circumstances. You wouldn't believe me if I told you…" He grins again. "I'm sure you actually wanted to see me!"

Tori smiles. There are some friends that it's easy to fall into conversation with after months apart — and Brayden — Nathan — is apparently one of those. "I'm not saying that seeing you falls into the realm of a bad thing, but… I figured I'd try for a clean slate and the new world seemed a good enough place for that. You just happen to be the icing on the proverbial cake, mate."

"I'm sure," Nathan sighs with a smirk. "I'm glad you're doing well. I wondered about everyone back there. And sometimes, I wonder what would happen if people knew exactly what I'd been doing in Ireland." He chuckles again. "So grad school? Always one of the smart ones —" he teases.

"Helps when you can cheat like I can," she teases back — it actually isn't that helpful in grad school. There's no test keys and scantron tests she can steal from her professors' laptops… just paper after paper. Perhaps that's why she chose it — to challenge herself, since she cheated her way to magna cum laude in her bachelor's. "English literature. It's insane. And I get mocked for coming to America to study it — not that I'm doing British lit, just English in general, but it strikes everyone as hilarious." She chuckles. "From thief to professor, eh? Though that will be a long time coming."

"Yeah, no kidding. Well I'm glad it's goin' well for you," Nathan winks, even though Tori can't see it through the phone. "Look, I'm trying to think of a way to fight this government thing, and I could use your skills." He grins broadly, "I'm not sure what we're going to do about it, but people can't be used as weapons…"

She frowns at the request. Apparently she's being used anyway by Cody to the same ends, but didn't know it, and at least maybe she can do something useful with her power — without it, at Cody's bidding, she's pretty much useless and she knows it. "I'll help if I can, Bray— Nathan. Call me if you need me. Did you get my number on your display there?" Cell phones are handy for exchanging numbers in that way.

"I got it," Nathan nods. "And I'll be in touch, and not just for a job. It's good to have someone more familiar. It's great to have someone close to me." He sighs heavily. "Take care of yourself, Tori. We should meet up in person." His grin broadens further. "It'd be good to see something more recently familiar."

"It'd be good to have a friend, period, Nathan, on this end. I'd like that." She smiles and presses the red button, disconnecting the call. Go figure — the cryptic, mysterious telephone number that the scary agent gave her was a connection to her past and a friend. Maybe Cody isn't so bad after all — even if she lies through her teeth.

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