2010-03-06: Running



Date: March 6th, 2010


Nathan and Daphne talk. And there's cake.


Petrelli Safehouse

It's late in the safehouse— if there was any cake out before, it's been put away under plastic wrap by now. Which makes it even past midnight-snack-late. Very late, and very dark. Sensibly, every individual in the house should be sleeping in some state or another, on whatever cushion they've been delegated in the steadily filling household. But at least one is not. Somewhere upstairs, a door slides shut in aching slow-motion, its closer testing every second for some tell-tale squeak. It isn't until the bolt subtly clicks into place that there's the old familiar *whoosh!*.

For all the speed should mean being in Beijing in that same next moment, the streamline of movement makes it to the front door before downgrading. Daphne becomes, if not entirely apparent in the dark room, at least visible by those with normal internal clocks. She makes it so far as to caress the handle of the door before she jerkily takes a few steps back inside the room, turning desperately to the hallways beyond and — perhaps more — what they represent. Then, squaring her shoulders, she tries to face-off with the door again. It continues to make no comment yet somehow present a more imposing barrier than the wood paneling might suggest.

There's no rest for the wicked. Or the semi-wicked. Or the third wicked (of which Nathan may be a member). He sits on the couch in the dark as the whoosh goes by. Unlike everyone else, he's not sleeping; he can't sleep, and hasn't slept since he talked to Tracy. He'd left things too long, should've been better; should've been more. If only he'd returned to New York sooner, been in politics when it went down, been around more then he might've been able to do something. Yet he knows that's not true either. Darn his former alter-ego.

He peers at the figure at the door. He's been still, entirely still since the house went dark, but ow in the stillness he smirks, "Doing what you do best?" It's a protective tone for whom Daphne can only assume.

This might've been a very short conversation, indeed, if not that Daphne recognizes the voice that pops out into the darkness. She reacts in alarm still, however, with a startled side-step and the widening of headlight-spotted eyes that adjust enough to find Nathan there by the couch. Though she may actually have been more put off by being caught than if the house was being robbed or something.

Her head toss is reminiscent of a wild horse unwilling to be bridled, her stance defensive. Yet, here she is, eyeballing the older brother of the guy she left upstairs rather than leaving him in the wind of her own wake. "Like you don't want to get out of here just as much."

Daphne isn't wrong. "Yet I haven't taken to the door," Nathan observes as he reaches over to a nearby lamp to turn on a light. "No, that would hurt Pete, and he's right if we're going to stop whatever's going on, we need to do it together," an annoyed glare crosses Nathan's features. His whiskery face stares at Daphne rather coolly as he leans back on the couch. "Where do you plan to go?"

If Daphne wants to leave, Nathan can do little to stop her, even if he can travel at superhuman speeds via flight, he's trying to lay low-ish. Heavy on the ish.

She turns away, to the note of that lamp during on and illuminating their faces like they're in an interrogation room; also, because it's hard not to hide that the sound of hurting Peter affects her to the point of it being visible. Daphne slides her arms around each other, crossed under her chest in classic protection. "If I thought this was even stoppable, sure… he's," not Peter, 'he', "the guy to do it. And all his superhero friends, too."

Turning to look him in the eye again, she seems, on the other hand, not at all cowed by that expression. Her own radiates plenty of answering sass… only noticeably undertoned with something else by those who know her best. Or who just spent weeks penned up with her rejected prison-alterego. "Anywhere. As if it happens. Or I'd even tell you. Cardinal rule — that's just asking for people to come after you. And when I do gone, I'm gone." There it is again, that something.

Nathan shakes his head and smirks before he claps his hands together. "Well done, Millbrook. Well done." The smirk is ironic, it shows no joy or mirth, in fact, it's damaging in its own right. "You think Peter can do this alone? Peter is public enemy number one. By freeing us… he's the only target that matters to them right now, I can almost guarantee it." His tone takes a sardonic edge, "And that's kind of you to cut out when he risked everything to save you. You're a very grateful person, aren't you?"

He twitches at the notion of Daphne cutting out, "So you don't care about people being forced to kill their loved ones? You don't care that people are being used as weapons? It's good to know that it doesn't matter to you." A keen time to present new information to the speedster. Nathan's been processing the information over the last few days — pouring over his personal files and any information he can come up with strategically — so he hasn't shared it until this moment.

"Did I say alone?" Daphne snaps in return, her lips working angrily together in between words even as her tone gets sweeter. "Besides, he's got you, brother of the freakin' year." Less regard for that she was trying to be sneaky, she takes a few steps towards him and his self-righteous couch slouch. "It's always been about Peter, it's always going to be. As long as he keeps doing that thing he does. If it wasn't us — wasn't me…" she pauses only minutely, "he would find two other people to free."

Contrary to the weightiness of the matter, she seems to sigh and scoff a little easier at the presentation of the new material he's got. "There's terrible people in the world, buddy. Always will be. I know, I used to work for 'em." She unlocks her arms to spread hands out on either side of her, "But it's not my business. Not anymore. Some people, we aren't cut out for it. So leaving's the best thing I can do right now."

"It's still ungrateful," Nathan murmurs as he stretches. "And I never claimed to be brother of the year," his smile has become somewhat more comical. "I'm no picture of joy, good feeling, or … heroism. I'm pretty much the worst brother ever, but at least I stick around, even if running has been my modus operandi the last few years." He clucks his tongue.

A very Logan, sly smile edges his lips, "And I know all about terrible people, villains and the like. I was one of them."

"Running away never helped anyone. Eventually it'll catch you and you'll end up alone." There's a pause before he adds, "I should know."

"At least then when it catches up, he won't have to know," Daphne counters, sincerity mixed with vehemence in her voice, "It may have been your modus whatever the hell for years, but it's been my life a lot longer. So don't even pretend to be able to lecture me about running, Smiles."
Her pose shifts again, arms coming up but describing defeat instead of defense, spreading out to her sides in exaggerated fashion afterwards to speak of her surrender. "So, fine. I'm ungrateful. I'm heartless. I'm weak. Catch up — that's the point."

She back-steps, dragging a finger up to wag a him. "It's been real. I'm sure you can use that silver tongue to let him know lots of awful things about me afterwards."

"A day is coming you know. I'm sure you see it off in the distance," Nathan chuckles mirthlessly. "One day you'll get tired of running. One day you'll realize that there's no one left in your life and that you've missed the point — you'd been running from and towards the wrong things your entire life."

A glance is given towards the stairs, "And maybe, maybe when you get tired of running there will be someone like Peter to help catch you, even after you played the villain — or at the very least the deserter — you'll have someone like my brother. I guarantee you they aren't common."

"But if you can't see that now…" Nathan purses his lips. "Then you don't deserve him." He rises from the couch and pads towards the kitchen. Cake is calling him like green jello. He lingers in the room, however, as he watches Daphne, "And if you leave… then maybe you're the callous heartless runner you think you are."

Throughout all this part, the prediction and the lecturing, the way he lays down the law before getting up so leisurely, Daphne remains quiet. It's an odd way for her to be, that energetic mouth pressed off to the side and motionless as she backs up again but mostly to get a better look at how he moves off in that other direction. Her hands have replaced themselves along the opposite upper arm, not quite tightly crossed but certainly creating that wall to her heart once more.

She cocks her head. "You're kind of stupid, aren't you?"

Not even a second for that to have its own moment, just an instant while she darts her gaze to the corner of the room impatiently, then back. "You thought I needed you to tell me that? Like some kind of truth-sayer?"

She vanishes in a blur only to reappear in front of him, both away from the door she was so close to leaving out of and yet supportive of this effort with her words: "I have never, ever met anyone like Peter. And I never, ever will. And, guess what, that's how it's supposed to work. Because I?" Finger stabbed at herself, "gave up hope on being rescued, while he," same finger stabbed at the stairs, "apparently never gave up looking and trying. I am a bad person who makes bad decisions and should never be allowed near that kind of— I don't even know!"

"Thanks for that," Nathan quips back at the stupid comment, "And no, I'm not some kind of truthsayer, just an older voice of experience. I didn't appreciate what I had when I had it." He doesn't even suggest he's wiser. Wisdom appears to be something he lacks. He turns until he's bombarded with the speedster in front of him.

"Of course you gave up hope," Nathan scoffs. "That's what places like that are designed for. Did you look around? Did you see the very air of the place? I was there. You were there. There was no hope to be had, not for anyone. My assistant — who is normally perky and bright was dismal at best." He narrows his eyes at her. "And regardless of what you think of me, I can guarantee you no one in that place had an ounce of hope." Some are just better at faking it than others.

"Wrong," Daphne shoots off immediately, "That engineer chick who talks about herself too much had it. And the creeper who wanted to talk in my head. We could've had a 'hold onto hope' pow-wow right there."

"But the place doesn't matter." She rocks back on her heels, looking less like she's blocking his path to cake. "Wanna know what I was doing right before I got shot and skinned? I was about to go down to him, brainwashed and not even knowing my name, and tell him I l— " The quick and painful rearrangement of words in her mind shows in the way her eyebrows drop down to 'v' above her nose. "Had very strong feelings for him. But how can you care about someone that much and not believe in them to come through?"

Her head tilts in the other direction now, eyeballing him critically. "You've been a villain, too. So, tell me: how does having someone lose faith in you work out for you again?"

Eyebrows are arched at the notion of strange feelings, but he doesn't comment on the word love, instead Nathan swallows. He sighs as he shakes his head, "Parkman has his ability in full-gear." Thanks to glasses.

His lips twitch at the question. "My wife never lost faith in me; she never lost faith that I could defeat my demons." He laces his fingers together. "We were naive. Love isn't something that changes with the tides or the seasons, the love is constant, even if the gushy feelings, and faith aren't."

Nathan can't help but grin as he remembers, "Even when I wasn't me, she could get through… and I think in a way, she has lost faith in me now. I'm not the man I once was. I… I will never be him again… and she's changed too. And I know there were times she lost faith in me; times when she would've taken me out to make it stop… but she loved me despite my obvious demons…"

Not that he and Heidi are together now or will be in the forseeable future. "And I love her still, even if she will always see me as a monster."

Daphne's chin juts up in silent protest when the word 'love' actually crops up from him; she seems like she might interrupt to reject the use, but she ends up not. Ends up listening. No, like, really really listening in a way she wasn't before. The head straightens slowly from that poise of attitude, her hands shifting around her arms towards cradling herself than putting on an act. Even if she'd never admit it, she seems determined to evaluate what he has to say.

The scoffing surfaces briefly at the end, at the term monster, and her expression pulls skeptically. But the feeling eases out, leaving only residue of the emotion before she, a long time in coming, shifts her weight and admits, "… I don't get it."

Another longer moment drags on. It's eons to her. But it all helps makes the decision to open her mouth again. "I tried to be the person he deserved and I messed up. I always mess up. Why should he care about me if he knows what I've done. If you're a monster."

There's a vague attempt to make it about Nathan again at the end. But, really, who is she kidding: it's about her. And she doesn't care about whoever Heidi freakin' is.

"But that's what love is. Heidi knew — knows — all of my failings. And I… I ran away. She wanted me to accept the darker parts of myself and I couldn't or… I wouldn't. I couldn't admit that they were mine; they were my darker parts," Nathan eyes Daphne. "And I think I've probably lost my wife. Permanently." He forces a weak smile. "All because I couldn't face my demons… because I couldn't own myself…"

"Running from your problems will only make them worse. It burns bridges. And believe me, I always mess up too… I have a laundry list of character flaws… but Heidi loved me anyways… I might not be able to fix things now, but I can say someone that loves you for all of your. Mistakes and all. Demons. Inner villains, and the like. That person is worth sticking around with."

"I am a monster," Nathan admits with a shrug of his shoulders. "But villains can learn to rise above their past. Anyone can." And then he tacks on, with a weak smile, "I hope."

Her gaze trails towards the sandals she'd slipped on for her intended quick flight out of there, to the previously wounded thigh only just covered by tiny gym-shorts. The legs she came frantically close to losing. And then that betrayed her for all those months. Daphne's right shoulder rises and rolls back in a shrug lacking confidence. "But I'm really really good at running," she offers, semi-humorously; the silly way any humour sounds in a downer situation.

"I… burned my first bridge a while ago. You don't really have to tell me about that, either, Smiles." Eyes travel the room, the path she could take back across the living space, up the stairs, to that bedroom. To a person who's in there, being worth it without even realizing it. Without even trying. That's how good he is at it. So that part isn't the question.
"… Never stuck around before. I got some mad skills, but… I don't know."

A hard swallow. She looks up at Nathan straight-faced because she knows she'll get the hardcore facts from him. "What if I'm not worth it?"

Nathan smiles at the joke before sighing and turning back to the kitchen in pursuit of cake. "I ask myself that question every day. And if you're not worth it, thank the gods that he cares anyways."

Nate sighs heavily. "And if he cares, does it matter? That's the interesting thing about love, the more we experience it, the more we give ourselves over to it, the more it changes us." He shrugs before yawning and finally entering the kitchen. It's all about the cake (or green jello).

Daphne holds her ground for a while as he walks past, her fingers pressing nervous white marks into her skin as she goes over everything that's been said. After he's already made it into the kitchen, she whirls around, a finger pointedly out in the air in front of her. "None of this gets back to anyone else here. Understand?"

But he seems to be delving into the food area with more determination than listening — unhelpfully, she has to hiss it to keep her voice from raising at this late, dark hour — and she knows what she has to do.

*Whoo —

— sh*

Guess what. The cake is now gone. And if he happens to look behind him, Daphne's back on her mark behind him, the platter of plastic-wrapped goodness held like a silver platter on one outstretched palm near her shoulder.

"The c-cake!" Nathan sputters in moderate desperation. "Ahhhhh." And then he turns around, Daphne has it. He blinks at her blankly and he virtually pouts, but he's a Senator so he forces a diplomatic smile, "I won't tell anyone if you give me the cake."

And then he arches an eyebrow, "Actually. I won't tell anyone as long as you don't tell anyone about the socks I used to wear…" he winces.

"You know," she replies unhurriedly, reaching over to use her other hand to tug up the edges of that plastic, wiggle a finger in to poke at that sponge-y goodness. Daphne, being what she is (not a senator), pulls a piece off and sticks the finger in her mouth, humming contemplatively over the taste. "Snacking at night is really kind of unhealthy." The next gets a definite eyebrow raise. She automatically but casually scans down him towards his feet and however they are or aren't covered this evening. "Oh yeah, plaidapus? I thought you liked those socks. And your manly whittling hobby."

"That's just mean," he states in reference to the cake torment. "The socks were… a phase. And I did… like the socks." Finally, Nathan just shakes his head. "Fine. I'm going to sleep then." Without cake. It's a sad sad day in Nathan-land.

With a sigh he trudges back to the couch, all ready to go to sleep. Or not, as the case may be. At the very least, he'll try.

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