2008-02-06: Spin


Logan_icon.gif Nathan_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif

Summary: A conversation takes interesting turns after Niki comes to Loganathan's rescue.

Date It Happened: February 6th, 2008


An Alley In Midtown

An alley. Why does it have to be an alley?

Instead of waking her convenient traveller of a roommate up to do a job that isn't hers, Niki drives as efficiently as she can manage through the streets of New York City. She doesn't really know where the hell she's going, but the car, a shiny but not particularly flashy black rental courtesy of Pinehearst (and Nissan), has a GPS system.

Random city debris crunches under the front tire as she pulls up near the mouth of an alley somewhere near midtown, and the blonde driver gets out, looking around warily without being quite sure what she's looking for. Her cream-coloured trenchcoat and pale hair, tied back loosely, more haphazardly than during the day, stand out against the dark street and black car. She eases the door shut instead of slamming it and takes a few steps toward the alley.

Why an alley? Because bleeding out on the middle of the street might draw some attention, and he couldn't fly any further. Besides, where else do knife wounds occur… but in alley ways at the dead of night?

Given up on standing, Nathan Petrelli is seated on the alleyway floor with his shoulder against the wall, in enough shadow that no one, so far, has bothered to notice him. No one who isn't looking for him, anyway. There's nothing immediately wrong with him save for his body language, obviously in pain, weary, the arm he's not leaning on clutched to him. Dressed in a black, thick woolen coat, it conceals everything that much otherwise be telling. In front of him, his cellphone rests on the ground, and he has his eye shut, jaw clenched.

The sound of footsteps gets his attention, and he lifts his head, watching her distantly for a moment before realising he should likely draw attention to himself. His throat clears, but he doesn't get up. "Niki."

There's something very wrong immediately with the sight of Nathan, to Niki's eyes — he's sitting in an alley, for one. The boots the blonde wears under her black pants, a similarly creamy colour as her coat, which billows casually behind her, create slow, cautious footfalls on the pave, but once she's sure it's him — once he speaks — those boots come at him in a rush. "… Nathan!" She falls in a crouch in front of him, blue eyes instinctively sparking with worry as she searches over him, trying to find some sign of why he's here in an alley. She places a light touch on his shoulders with both hands. "What happened?"

As she comes closer, some thing become a little more obvious - maybe more subtle is the paleness that one gets from a mix of bloodloss and shock, but more so striking is the slash through the sleeve of his coat up by his shoulder. The torn fabric shows red and that arm is folded protectively against his body. For a moment, he says nothing, simply studying her with a whole mix of emotions, before his jaw clenches, eyes shutting for a moment. "I was stabbed," he says, voice very even despite himself. Despite the raging conflict going on in his head right now, almost a war between two voices, a rapid fire clamor.

You lie to her or tell her the truth. Never been an issue before, why start now?

Handling it.

That'll be the day.

"Shoulder," he says, tone clipped, and strained. "Back. It's been a productive evening."

"… God," Niki says under her breath, taking in the sorry state the man is in with fast-moving eyes, more worried by the instant. On the drive here, she was thinking about everything Peter tried to tell her, but right now, it's forgotten. One of her hands — up by his shoulder, at the tear of fabric — comes away slightly sticky with blood. "We have to get you out of here," she says with a sense of urgency, glancing around the alley hurriedly, just for a split second, before she leans in with one knee digging into the ground beside Nathan. She slips an arm around him, under his shoulder (the unstabbed one)and with her face in close proximity, holds on. "I'm gonna help you to the car, don't try to move, okay? I've got it."

Nathan clutches to her as necessary, but otherwise, he lets the more than capable woman handle this, and focuses on not making a sound as he's jostled. "My hero," he says, very dryly, a hitched chuckle escaping him and eyes squeezing shut for a moment. He's a bad person. He should be telling her everything that's going on but right now, he just kind of wants to get back into the car. And he's on borrowed time. "I think it might be a good idea— if we can keep this on the down low."

Niki stands up, taking the injured man with her — slow, at first, trying not to move him around too much. She looks sidelong at him, thinking about the implications of what he said. Down-low. He should go to a hospital. He looks like he needs to. She could protest. Probably, she should. "Then— where?" she asks instead. "Pinehearst? It's kind of a long way to Jersey unless I call Charlotte."

Nathan is awkward more than he is heavy. As Niki moves toward the mouth of the alley, where the car's hood glints in a streetlight, she brings his good arm around her neck, wrapping her fingers over his hand. She lets him lean into her as much as he has to. Niki doesn't give. She's like a pillar, a steel support beam, defying the odds.

Pinehearst. That doesn't seem like a bad idea. Nathan would at least like to know what it is. Logan, for what it's worth, is quiet in his head when this suggestion comes up, even as Niki nullifies it. The name 'Charlotte' rings no bells to Nathan, so he makes no comment, focuses on one foot in front of the other. The entirety of his back seems covered in blood, the knife wound between his shoulders twinging something fierce and stealing away his ability to form coherent thought as they move, breathing shallow. He leans on her almost entirely, knowing full well it won't matter. Near the car, he doesn't reach out to it, his good arm currently locked around the woman's shoulders and reluctant to move his injured. "I'll pay for the gas," he finally offers once they're there, however. Humour. It's a good defense mechanism. "But it's where we need to go. I'd like this kept between us. It's— complicated. I'll explain more inside."

Explain what?

The windows of the car bear slightly warped reflections, and Nathan catches himself staring at the visage of himself far more injured than he is now, leaning on Niki. Man in the mirror. "I don't…" he starts to answer it, despite the fact Niki is right there.

This is my world, Nathan. You can't spin the lies it takes to survive it. Let go.

"Don't what?" Niki prompts, ironically quite unaware of the exchange going on between Nathan's halves. She frees up her hand in order to open the back door of the car, inadvertently swinging the reflection out of sight. "You're bleeding," she states the obvious as she guides him toward the seats. There's more room back there than up front. "Are gonna be okay all the way to Pinehearst? What do you need, Nathan?"

The removal of the reflection forces Nathan to snap back to normal— relatively speaking, blinking rapidly before moving to get into the car. He's going to get blood on the upholstery, and in fact, dark red smears richly across it as he moves to huddle against the opposite door, eyes shutting and a hand pinching the bridge of his nose. "I'll hang on," he assures her, his voice clear and perhaps convincing despite the mess he's in. He glances at the trail of blood, then back to her. "Looks worse than it is." Ish.

Niki eyes Nathan like she doesn't quite believe him about the latter comment, but she seems to concede to the first one. She crawls in the back to buckle his seatbelt if only because he looks like he might fall over if she doesn't. Sitting on her knees, hunched over, she tears the sleeve off of her expensive and stylish jacket, RIP, with a sharp rrrrip. "I don't really…" Know first aid? Remember if she ever knew first aid? "…for… the pressure… or something." She gives Nathan a somewhat pathetic look, wincing as she just sort of… drapes the fabric over his shoulder and pats it cautiously. Don't die. She starts to slither out the door to get this show on the road.

Cute. Remind me to get her some first aid training.

I don't want you talking to her anymore, Logan.

As Niki moves for the drivers seat, Nathan shuts his eyes for now, allowing himself some peace as he clutches the torn bit of fabric to his shoulder. There's doctors at Pinehearst, right? He remembers that much.

She's mine, Nathan. That's not about to change.

What could she possibly mean to you?

You'll see. Or you won't. And if you're not willing to share…

Nathan's eyes snap open, but it's too late. Painlessness sweeps over him, the world shifts. No honour amongst thieves and whatever agreement he and Logan had settled on in terms of allowing Nathan some lucidity is easily tossed out the window as Logan takes back the reins. The pain makes him gasp in, but it's drowned out by the sound of the engine kicking up. Ignoring the reflections around him, he watches what he can see of Niki, the blood loss making him feel almost serene. "My wife did this," Logan tells her, almost casually. "My ex-wife."

I told you I'd handle it-

Got bored.

There's a thin film of blood smeared on her hands as Niki clutches the steering wheel — tighter than necessary — and she's trying to ignore it, to focus on the road while she manuevers the car out onto the street. Her expression stormy and undecided - and ultimately just tense — she's on the verge of asking Nathan what happened again, trying to find a real answer, just before Logan gives her one. She flicks her gaze to the rearview mirror, finding him there. "Then no wonder she's your ex-wife," she replies, but she's holding something back. Road, passenger, road, passenger, her focus is split as she navigates Manhattan. It's going to be a long drive. "Can I…" Hesitate. "…ask what happened?"

Logan offers her a wearied smile in the mirror, and rests his head back against the car seat. "You may," he says. "She's not exactly stable, is the problem, and weren't— we weren't good for each other, at the end of the day. She's sort of having a few episodes lately. It's been rough, but her family is supposed to be taking care of her and we're supposed to be staying apart, but… she's just not in a rational frame of mind." He lets out a sigh, as if the weight of the world were on his shoulders.

Son of a bitch.

Logan betrays amusement at the rather pointless insult from his better half, ignoring it. "Her name's Heidi. I'll give you a photo, so you can identify her if needed. If she comes around… try not to listen to her. She's not making any sense right now."

Where her glancing to and fro was ceaseless before, Niki now focuses entirely on the road, even though her concentration remains in the backseat with Logan. Her jaw sets as she stares firmly straight ahead out the windshield, which starts become speckled with points of moisture from some new and haphazard flurries. The woman's hands tighten around the steering wheel even more. She fights to keep her voice neutral. Testing the waters. "Not stable … the same way that your brother isn't stable."

Unexpected turn of conversation, neutral voice or not. Logan's head lifts a little to study her in the mirror as they drive on. "My brother," he repeats, and gives a rueful, if strained laugh. Strained, possibly due to his injuries. "Gee. You must think real high of my family now." He settles back against the seat, turning his head to watch out the window as he speaks in tired tones. "My brother's mental health has been a point of public friction, actually, made my election difficult. Attempted suicide back in 2006, in and out of rehab, the whole nine yards. Where'd you here about Pete, Niki?"

"Nothing," Niki answers, a touch harsher than her usual tone, but not defensive, per se. "But I heard some things about you." She chances a glance in the mirror, fixing the reflection of Logan with a hard, searching gaze. "He said you'd say he's crazy." The hard veneer cracks a little as she allows a stiff shoulder to shrug, a hand to leave her vice grip of the wheel to gesture a bit. "I dunno who I'm supposed to believe. He said—" she pauses. "He said… some things."

Huh. Can't wait to hear about these "lies" of yours you get to spin.

Smug, Nathan's voice echoes through his mind, a flicker in his reflection - more like an ice chip down his neck. Logan grips a fixture within the car to help him sit up a little more, not bothering to muffle the small, pained grunt the movement evokes, as if to remind her of his situation. "He said I'd say that, huh?" Logan says, his voice very carefully relaxed. "That shows a surprising amount of insight on his part. Must've been a good day." His head tilts, watching the back of Niki's head as opposed to her reflection. "What did he say."

This world of yours always like this or is this just a bad day for you-

Shut up.

The silence in his head that follows is just as smug as the words.

This is not the best conversation ever, especially to have with a man that was just stabbed twice, and Niki looks five kinds of conflicted. Goodbye, neutral. "Things that I… I hope aren't true. That… you're the crazy one, Nathan. That you're— " A turn here, a turn there as she's forced to follow the map told to her by technology. Smooth sailing to Jersey. In theory. In action… "That you're like I was." Someone's been doing research on herself. "Different people."

Does he have a gun? A quick shot to the head would take care of things. Unfortunately, he underestimated Heidi and brought no such thing. Logan falls back on words.

"Niki…" There's injury in his tone, as if to match his physical state of being. He's watching her with intention, although blood loss makes it bleary. "I'm a U.S. Senator. I'm involved with a company that helps people like us. I have two kids and a broken marriage. I'm trying my hardest to keep the world off my shoulders. But I'm not insane. I went with you to the labs to get you help, not me."

The road takes less focus now that it's more straightforward, but Niki finds herself watching it more than Logan. It's easier to be more clear-headed if she's not looking at him — so she thinks, anyway. His words are more clear that Peter's were, less cryptic, more logical. Both of the Petrellis are convincing, just in different ways. Open-mouthed, her jaw works slowly from side to side as she debates with herself (not as literally as Nathan debated with his, in this new incarnation of hers). And for now, she decides. "I caught him in your office at Pinehearst," she confesses, looking over her shoulder to glance at Logan for real. "He was trying to snoop around. I threw him out." Sort of.

Equilibrium approaches once more, for the time being. Logan can't help but remain nervous, though, fingers running across his mouth in a fidgety gesture, remembering blood, and wiping it away with the back of his hand in a faintly irritated gesture. "Was he," he sighs. "On his behalf, I apologise. I'm sorry, Niki, I'll talk to him. It won't happen again."

He's really gonna have to start killing some people.

There's some silence, the engine growling quietly as they drive, the vibration of the car enough to guarantee Logan won't pass out so easily, before he asks, "Have I done anything to make you not trust me, Niki?"

It doesn't take Niki very long to answer that important question. It doesn't take long to sift through a memory bank like hers, new and shiny and without history longer than a month. "No," she answers honestly — even with a touch of guilt. "No, you've been nothing but good to me." A tenuous smile begins. Baby steps. Every now and then the hiss of a car passing in the other direction cuts through, dull, mundane. "I didn't want to believe him because I want to trust you."

It's not going to kill his paranoia, but the smile helps. Logan returns it briefly in the rearview mirror before relaxing against his seat. "I want you to trust me too," he says, quietly and resignedly. "Thanks for coming to get me, Niki. I'll try not to die on you on the way there, huh? When I'm back on my feet maybe we'll have to look into your uh. Shooting score sheet." The average one. Mediocre, if you will.

That prompts another smile, although it turns into somewhat of a sheepish grimace. "…Speaking of getting back on your feet," she changes the subject away from her less-than-stellar target practice, and incidentally, every subject change brings them further away from the heavier, more dangerous lines of conversation. "Isn't that convention this weekend? The one in Vegas?"

It's a tangent of conversation Logan is willing to follow, get lost in, and leave everything behind. He can already feel it, Nathan getting swept aside as he sinks into this, his role - but after tonight, it's not going to be so easy anymore. But for right now, he's won the battle. "That's right," he says, reminded. "I won't be wearing this suit, I guess. Did you… organise it into my schedule yet?"

"Yep." See, she's multi-purpose. Schedule Coordinator. Security. Date. Driver. Not nurse, apparently, not in any conventional fashion. Niki glances back to make sure he's still okay, although the more conversation is reassuring that he's not going to pass out. She's not sure what she would do if he passed out. Please don't pass out, Senator. "But I can move it, if you don't think you're up for it."

"I'll be up for it," Logan says, and lets his gaze drift out the window, at the snow flurries beating against the glass and making icy streaks. For now, his reflection is his own. Can't say how long it'll be that way. "Don't worry about that. Just remember to forward me the bill for cleaning your car in the morning."

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