2009-12-11: Putting the Past Away

Starring:

Nathan_V4icon.png

And Heidi played by Erin

Date: December 11, 2009

Summary:

Brayden seeks out Heidi and his kids.


"Putting the Past Away"

Heidi's House, Florida

After a long-ish conventional (that's right people, he flew CONVENTIONALLY for once) flight from New York, Brayden steps out of the town car that had been arranged for him as he pulls up to the Florida-Petrelli-house (i.e. that which belongs to Heidi-kins, the spare, and the heir). It's a pretty property outside of Miami — a ranch of sorts complete with a large house, some land (great if the kids ever wanted to play wide games), and horses.
The ex-Senator can't help but smile as he pads up the walkway, as nervous as he is. It's a beautiful home. Hopefully his reception isn't completely cold, although, he doesn't expect anything particularly warm. As he reaches the top of the large walkway, he smoothes his black Armani suit, crisp white dress shirt, and red tie with white text (which says 'Ho Ho Ho') all over it. He straightens the tie and rings the bell expectantly after forcing a smile onto his nervous face.

Leaving someone in the midst of a crisis was one of the hardest things Heidi ever had to do. She wants to tell herself it was for the kids, for the family, but in truth, she was just pushed too far. She swore she'd never leave, but plans change. People change. She'll never be the same person she was when she first met Nathan, and maybe Heidi is better for that - tougher. More cautious.

She never lost her compassion, though.

The expression on her face through the window on the door is surprised, but not hostile. She opens it, shouldering open the storm door, as well. She looks well; the long scar down one side of her face that she received from Logan is healed over to a point where it's much less noticable. Her hair is dyed black again, as usual, and her eyes …

Well, her eyes will never change. They're still the same crystal-blue they've always been. "Have to admit. Didn't expect you down here," she says, offering a cautious smile. Is this Logan, or is it Nathan?

And those crystal-blue eyes have just a hint of familiarity. Just enough to draw Brayden in. "Heidi, right?" He examines her carefully. She's familiar, but it's the kind of familiarity that a person could write off as just 'one of those faces'. He wouldn't have stopped in the street for a double-take. He offers that same strained-dimpled smile as he cautiously considers what to say.

"Um… I… I thought I should visit. I haven't yet, and I…" the smile fades, but only for a second. "I'm sorry. I should've come sooner," there's sincerity in the tone. Perhaps warmth, even.

When she looked into Logan's eyes, she could see him and all his maliciousness. There was something wrong with that man that he was never able to hide from Heidi. Out of all the people in the world, she probably knew Nathan better than anyone, save his family. Momentarily, she's relieved when she doesn't sense that hostility from him.

Then, she realises that it's not quite Nathan, either.

Ridiculous. Except then he attempts to confirm her identity. The expression on her face is a clear duh, but that softens. She opens her mouth to say something, closes it, then dismissively shakes her head. She knew what they were planning to do. She just thought Peter would fix it…
Still guarded, she takes a step back, as if to tentatively allow Nathan access to the house, but then she thinks better of it and continues to block the way. Heidi should be livid. She should be angry, throwing things. Demanding he leave this property at once. All she man manage to say, though, is, "You can't really put a time limit on healing." It goes both ways - for him and for her. She still has that strange, disturbing ability to hate, but maybe that won't ever go away.

And there really is no maliciousness in Brayden's eyes. But beyond that, there's no hardened political past to embitter him, no one else's expectations to weigh on him, and no real regret to follow him. He's Nathan in more than form, but he can't remember his own experiences, and as a result, he's free — much freer than any other incarnation of himself. He presses his lips together as he studies Heidi, still unsure. He knows he must've been horrible, but he can't remember. All he knows is his former self left a body count of sorts in his wake.

He doesn't get defensive at the block. In fact, he didn't even move towards the house. He's waiting. Patiently. Awkwardly, even. He manages to suppress the sigh threatening to exit his lips, and instead manages, in that same somewhat gentle tone, "It takes as long as it takes." He swallows hard, but continues to offer a (n) (albeit weak) smile.

He could very well be dangerous. Logan was not stupid, after all, and Heidi wouldn't put it beyond him to be able to act well enough to fool even her. The secondary personality was really only a newborn when they first met. It didn't know the intricacies of hiding things from Heidi. Now?
The smile fades into suspiciousness. She liked it better when she was blissfully naive of everything. Could Logan become this? "Are you going to start talking?" she asks. The initial surprise is starting to become something just a little more painful with the realization that she can never trust this man again. Perhaps with time, she'll be able to trust someone else, but Nathan and Logan finally hurt her too deeply. There's no going back from that. "Why are you here? What happened to you?"

Eyes are narrowed ever so slightly as Brayden pressures himself into saying something. Anything. He doesn't know this woman that he's married to. He can't remember her. And his mother really told him nothing about her; it was less nerve-wracking to meet Noah. Clearing his throat, he nervously straightens his tie again, "I'm sorry — I…" his lips twitch into that same small, nervous, toothy grin as he looks down at the ground. "I suppose I probably have a lot to be sorry for, don't I?" he frowns and then forces that same strained smile, "I… went away for awhile — ended up in Europe and then in a Californian monastery. Forgot everything. Everyone. Myself — the doctors are calling it amnesia… I know better." His mother told him better.

Invite him in? Don't invite him in? Who knows the right answers anymore. Her perfectly-rebuilt world is slowly turning on her, blending into a past that she never intended to forget, but also never supposed she'd revisit. That he lost his memory is convenient as an excuse. "Yes, you do," she says. Too many things to count, some too painful to consider in front of someone Heidi doesn't want to cry in front of ever again.

"I don't know if that's true," she says, though it's almost non-judgmental. It's a statement of fact; she can't look into his head and see the truth, but she also can't simply dismiss him for trying, either. He doesn't look as if he's here to hurt her. Appearances can always be deceiving, though. "I also don't know if you think I can help you remember. Honestly, Nathan, if you've forgotten that - really forgotten it - I'd count it as a blessing. You don't want to know what you did to me - what you could have done to your sons."

Nathan. That name. When Heidi speaks it a pang of something resounds within Brayden's very being. He studies her silently for several moments, not entirely sure what he should do or say. And so he does the most Brayden thing he can, he apologizes, "I'm sorry. For whatever he — I(?) did. And while I can't feel the weight of it, I know it must've been… terrible." From what he knows of Logan, it would've been. "I'm sorry for any pain I've caused." And he genuinely is, but it's hard to take responsibility for something anything that can't be remembered.

"I didn't come just to apologize or to seek some kind of odd redemption. I came to try to find who I was — even if I can't remember, you were part of that life, right?" He frowns. Just a little.

Her eyes narrow. For a long time, she just studies him, trying to get either Nathan or Logan to crack through whatever barriers have gone up over this man's eyes, but she sees neither, really. In a way, he's far too innocent to be one or the other.

This is a risk.

"Come on in," she says, sounding very much as if she's having an internal struggle with that decision even as she says it. "The kids are at school, but they should be home soon." They'll want to see him. She doesn't want him near them, just in case, but they should see him once in awhile.
Holding the storm door open for another few seconds, she turns and walks into the house. Heidi's origins were in much more rural areas, and the home reflects a blending of the pristine luxuries she knew when living with Nathan, and her own homey touch, which is never quite perfection. The house looks lived-in and loved. There are a few pictures on flat surfaces, mostly of the kids. There's a couple of her with the kids, and then there's one with her, Simon, Monty, Nathan, and Peter. Others exist, like a nice, framed image of a sunset behind their Florida home.

"When they get here, don't let them know that you don't remember them," she says. It's both a warning and an attempt to break through any armor behind which Logan might be hiding. Eventually, she leads him into the kitchen.

"Thanks," Brayden grins slightly as he follows her into the house. He peers around the room and glances at the photos of the family. It feels familiar. Almost like dejavu, but then, it's almost like it's from someone else's life. He offers her a nod and a clarification of sorts, "I won't. It wouldn't be good for them to think I'd forgotten them" even if it is true. "I've been trying so hard to remember since Congressman Dawson told me about all of you." He shrugs apologetically. Really, what else can he say?
"I bet they like it here… much better place to grow up than New York." He grins a little as he points towards the one side of the house, "I noticed you had horses out in the little pen-thing. That's really great. Do they ride?" Pause. "Do you?"

Despite the fact that it's a terrible thing for a father to forget his kids, maybe it's a blessing in disguise.

Man, she never used to think that way. Still, it makes sense, given all that happened. "They really do like it here. It's hot. They complain. But it's safer, they don't have to dress warm in the winter." She shrugs, looking out the nearest kitchen window. There are a few that look out onto the property, and she can see the horses through the one she's looking through. "Who do you think taught them?" she asks, a hint of a smile returning to her face.

She reminds herself not to let down her guard, though.

There's a long pause as she considers. She can play the game - if it is one. And if it's not, then she's done a good deed. "You were a good man once. Kinda gentle. Good sense of humor." She'll leave out the fact that he used to tease her endlessly about her proper name - which is now Heidi, but wasn't always. He doesn't need to know that.

"Two kids. Boys. Simon's a lot like you; really analytical." Kind of power-hungry in a small way. Very determined. "Monty's more like me, I guess. Doesn't matter… They both love you. I'm sure you know about your political career." He did mention a congressman, after all, so he must have learned something of it. "A few years back, there was… an accident. I was paralysed. You stayed." He loved her, she's sure, but he knows that he had an affair, too. That didn't come out until much later, but she knows now.

"Well I'd hoped my former-self had some goodness in him," Brayden smirks slightly. Especially with everyone threatening to return his memory. "But then, I guess we must have something in common. I hear so much negative about who I used to be. Makes me appreciate who I am more."
He glances at the photos again and nods in turn about each of the boys to which he grins, "They look like you. Both of them. You must be proud." He must be proud. Somewhere. Deep inside his unconscious. "And yes, I know about my political career. I was recognized by George. Apparently he used to work for my staff —"

There was a lot of goodness, yes. Also a lot of bad, but she'll spare him that. If one of those stories triggers a memory… Well, if this isn't all just an act, he's much better off. Is Heidi the only one who doesn't want Nathan to get his memory back? Perhaps. Though she's sure some of the people he hurt - or killed, though she never really asked - would prefer if he stayed in the dark, too.

It's odd, but this guy is a lot like a softer version of the man she married. No military in his background. No family pressure. As much as Heidi loves Angela, she wasn't always the best thing for Nathan.
Slightly more at ease, Heidi allows her shoulders to relax. "They're growing," she says fondly. "Don't tell Simon he looks like his mom. He'd be mortified. He's getting into that stage." Pre-teen years. Ah, how wonderful. "They never stopped loving you."

There's another long pause. "For that matter, neither did I."

All Brayden's heard so far is the bad, it's reassuring to hear that Nathan had good in him, even if instances of it were few and far between. He grins at her before looking at the photos again, "I'll make sure to not tell them that they look like you, but they do. They look like great kids — both of them." He'd say something about them growing up fast, but he can't remember them small, so instead he just nods; he has to take Heidi's word for it.
"I want to remember you. All of you," the admission is honest. It's open. "It's hard to think of this life I've had that I can't remember. When I came back to the US I never thought I'd find family. Any family." He shakes his head regretfully.

"No, you don't," she says completely honestly. At one point, all she wanted was Logan gone. Somewhere along the line, she just wished Nathan were gone, too, though. Something about him just would never be repaired - she knew. She was one of his victims that had no superpowers, like the ability to heal, or throw fire or lightning. The only thing she had was her own intelligence - Logan tried to kill her twice. Once by wrecking the car, and once - a close call, even to her - by sending Jack after her.
He'd have been better off dead at that point.

"You want it back, you have to take everything that comes with it. The pressure. The memories. Logan. You don't want any of that back. You're better off not remembering. Start new memories, Nathan. Trust me, it'll be better that way."

The rumble of a large vehicle can be heard just outside the house. It's the schoolbus, here to drop the kids off.

"I know it sounds silly, but, if this is true, if this isn't some… game? You're looking at the world through new eyes. Enjoy that. Maybe… Maybe I'll even let you see the kids more often."

"Really?" Brayden asks quietly. "Everyone else wants me to get fixed, but I'm not sure. I haven't been since I found out about Logan. He doesn't seem like someone I want in my head at all." He smiles weakly at Heidi. "I'll have to take that under advisement. It's hard not to know, but everyone wants me to be him — the old Nathan. The Nathan they knew."

He fidgets nervously at the sound of the schoolbus. Yes, he's nervous to see his children. Despite Heidi's words, he doesn't exactly know what to think of it all. "And yes, I'm experiencing everything for the first time. It really is an incredible thing."

"That's who you are now," she says. Who wants him back to normal? Peter? Angela? Can't they see with their own eyes that this guy is so much more like the man he's supposed to be than he was just a year ago? Sure, maybe she's being a bit selfish. If Logan comes back - if, she tells herself again, this isn't some sort of trick - Heidi would be particularly high on his hit list. After all, he wasn't the only one who got in his share of hits. She stabbed him. Twice.

There's no more time to talk, though. Not at the moment, anyway. The door opens, and voices come from the front hall. "No, that's not how it goes. See?" A pause, then a younger voice.

"Mom said I could do it how I wanted!"

"It's a Rubick's cube! You don't get to pick how to finish it!"

They inevitably make their way to the kitchen, since there's always an after-school snack to be hand. The argument is forgotten when they see Nathan there. Simon seems like he's been hit over the head with a baseball bat - he's that stunned. Monty, of course, recognises his father, but the impact of Nathan being here seems to be far greater on Simon. "Daddy!" the older boy yells, running the rest of the way, dropping his bag in the middle of the floor, and wrapping his arms around Nathan. Monty, not to be outdone, soon follows.

Heidi tenses. If this is Logan, there's no better way to hurt her than to hurt her children. He knows that.

The voices cause Brayden to fall silent, listening to the children's chatter. He tenses, however, as they act stunned. But that word: Daddy, it's enough to melt any man's heart. That's familiar. And beyond familiar. He knows that word uttered by that voice. And while he can't remember, the feelings welling up in him are very real. He wraps his arms around both of the boys. "Simon! Monty! Look at you! You've grown so much!" Of course, he only knows this because Heidi told him, but he wants to be fair; a good dad, even if he can't remember them.

"So a Rubick's cube, huh? How's it coming? I'm pretty good at those —"
Monty starts to hold the Rubick's cube out to Nathan, but Simon grabs it.

"No, lemme show him!"

Monty argues, "I wanna see him do it. I know you can do it!" before he takes it back and puts it in Nathan's hand. Simon seems slightly perturbed that he doesn't get to show off, though the curiosity of seeing his father finish the puzzle overwhelms his desire to take it again. Besides, it'd take Simon a few hours to figure it out after Monty twisted it up all day.

"Okay, you do it," Simon says, crossing his arms and pretty much ignoring Heidi. She hasn't yet relaxed, with a smile frozen on her face. If something happens, what would she do? She couldn't fight Nathan off on her own, but she'd certainly try. And then where would they all be?
Logan? With her children?

"Alright," Brayden grins as he takes the cube and begins demonstrating how to solve the puzzle. "The first trick is that the middle section doesn't move — see? This means that whatever is the middle block is what the final colour will be." He shows the kids as he begins to shift the squares into place, manipulating the squares as best he can. Within several a couple of minutes he manages to finish the puzzle, "Annnnd. There. We. Go." He grins as he hands it back to Monty.

"How was school guys? Did you have a good day? What'd you learn?" He's trying.

"I bet I could move the middle section," Simon says. Don't tell him he can't do something! He's a lot like Nathan in that regard. And tonight, even if he breaks the thing, he's gonna get that middle section to move!
"Wow, he does it faster than you do, Simon," Monty casually observes, marveling at the finished puzzle.

"'course he does, he's old," Simon replies. Though he can't hide the fact that he's impressed! It really does take him a long time to solve a Rubick's cube. "We learned stuff," is his reply.

"I learned math," Monty says. "And we read a story in our reading book about monkeys. And then Bill Hampshire got sick in the front of the classroom and we all had to go outside."

'tis the season.

Heidi hides a chuckle behind one hand. Alas. If someone in Monty's class is sick, he'll probably bring it home before too long. Sick on Christmas! Perfect timing.

"I bet it was malaria," Simon says helpfully.

"Yup! I'm old. When you're my age you'll be waaaay faster." Brayden chuckles a bit. "And I'll be old forever compared to both of you." He tilts his head at the pair and also chuckles at the notion of math and reading about monkeys.

"I'm pretty sure your classmate doesn't have malaria, no matter what your brother says." He chuckles again. "Probably just the flu."

"Maybe it's plague," Simon adds, equally as helpful.

"Simon."

That would be Heidi, giving her eldest son a stern look and an arched eyebrow. "Your snack's in the fridge. You and your brother go start your homework. I need to talk to your dad for awhile."

The genuine affection he showed for them is encouraging, but there's more that has to be said that shouldn't be said in front of children.

"But— "

"You can talk to him later. Go."

Grudgingly, Simon and Monty trudge off - after a stop at the refridgerator - with their backpacks.

Once she hears the tell-tale sounds of feet on the second floor, she looks back at Nathan. "Do you want to know what Logan did to me?"

A wave is given to the boys as they trudge off to do their homework. "I'm not leaving right away. Don't worry…" Brayden continues to smile brightly at the pair. But as they are safely out of range and Heidi poses the question, his smile is replaced by a frown and sigh, "I know it couldn't have been good, but yes. I should know. I need to face what he — I — was."

Either this triggers memories, or further encourages Nathan not to seek out those that he lost. She hopes it's the latter. For a moment, Heidi ponders making him promise to fight and not give up should Logan return. By now, though - to her, at least - his promises are worthless.

It's a long story that she tells, starting with the night he came home covered in blood. She tells him how they were going to seek help - how he drove. And when they were on the freeway, going far too fast, he flew out of the car, leaving it to crash and kill her. "It wasn't — It didn't look good. But I survived. With Peter's help, I survived. Logan wasn't okay with that, though. I… Never felt so angry over anything in my life. I met with you on a roof. Forced Logan to let me talk to Nathan.

"And because I could get through to him, Logan decided he wanted me dead. He sent someone to kill me. I think the only reason I'm still here is because the person who tried to kill me left thinking I was dead." She paused. "You tried to kill me, Nathan. Do you really want that memory back?"

Brayden listens quietly through the entire speech. He says nothing about any of the incidents. Nothing about the accident or the murder attempts. But his jaw does clench. His muscles tense. He's obviously not pleased about who he used to be. "Maybe I shouldn't get these memories back." He sighs heavily. "I'm sorry, Heidi. I really am. I'm sorry for what he did to you. I'm sorry for how he hurt you. I'm sorry he took that good man away."

"I knew he wasn't a good guy, but no one told me how bad he really was."
His shoulders slump. He feels defeated. How can he accept his responsibilities without Nathan's memories? Can he avoid having them rebuilt? These are all questions worth asking.

"If there's a way for you to get your memories back, it's your choice. But before you take that step, you need to realise— " Maybe he's better off this way. She's already said as much, though.

Looking out the window again, Heidi watches the horses for quite awhile, scowling. "I want to be safe. I want the kids to be safe. I can't guarantee you're not that person anymore. And— You can't become something you're not, Nathan. That person Logan was is always going to be there in some way. If you don't think you can fight it, then you can't handle having his memories. He— Nathan— You were there the whole time. But you couldn't, or you didn't want to…"

Heidi shakes her head. "In the end, I couldn't take it anymore. You disappeared. I had time to think. If… If there's some way you could prove…

"I just don't want your kids to grow up without you around. But you're going to have to be ready for that. And if you think getting your memories back would jeopardise that in any way, then I think your answer is pretty clear."

Brayden sighs. This news visibly weighs on his shoulders; his entire body feels heavy. He can't leave the kids without a father, but what about people with abilities? Peter? His mother? This life is so laden with responsibility compared to his former one. It's all very strange, yet familiar.

"Heidi, I'll learn more then. Ask more questions. And… I've heard that Ma had it done to me. Or so she claims. The boys need me…" In a way he probably needs them. They're his children. His offspring. "Thank you." Beat. "For being honest with me. No one else has been. But then Pete's lost his memory too." He smirks.

"Someone needs to tell you," she says, halfway between serious and jokingly. Likely, she doesn't need to tell him that she'd prefer him without those memories.

The fact that Peter's lost his memory too just makes her realise how much she really needs to stay out of that life. It's much easier for her, much less stressful, when she doesn't have to worry about the Petrelli brothers all the time. Her eyes close, and she quietly sighs. Now she's going to have to worry about Peter.

"Go enjoy some time with your kids," she says, finally deciding - and hoping she won't regret that decision - that Nathan has no memory of Logan. She's a good judge of those things, so she'll go with her instinct. She starts to leave him to himself in the kitchen so she can go somewhere to think for awhile, but on her way past him, she grabs a handful of that expensive suit he's wearing. "If you hurt them at all…"

The threat remains open as a severely determined look comes over Heidi's face.

"Thanks Heidi," Brayden says, traipsing in the direction the children took. "And no, I won't hurt them. I promise. Even if that doesn't mean anything to you, it does to me." He won't take them flying or anything. Only very very safe activities. He offers her a grin and a small wave. "And thanks for letting me in." That said, he disappears down the hall to go play with the Petrelli children.

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