2008-01-20: The Lion Never Sleeps

Starring:

Heidi_icon.gif Nathan_icon.gif Logan_icon.gif

Summary: Nathan arrives home, covered in blood and confused. Determined to help him, Heidi only digs herself in deeper…

Date It Happened: 20 JANUARY 2008

The Lion Never Sleeps


Petrelli Mansion / Interstate

It's late at night. And all was quiet. That is, until doors swing open and slam shut like guns going off.

There's no other sound, save for heavy footfalls as someone moves down the upstairs hallway within the Petrelli home. Another door yanked open, the bathroom, a light switch flicked on, something metal and heavy falling with a clatter, and then the rushing sound of water gushing from the faucet.

There's blood smears on the walls - specifically, near the doors of Monty and Simon's bedrooms, vacated ever since they were sent to stay with Mrs. Baker for a week, but whoever had bloodied hands came to see if they were empty all the same. Following the logical trek down the hallway, a clearer hand print on the wall as if leading the way, large and masculine, pausing for rest, and then the warm glow of light coming from the partially opened bathroom door.

Inside, a man is washing is hands with a fevered zeal. The sound of shallow breathing can be heard over running water. Steam rises as it runs hot, and a sawn-off shotgun lies on the ground at his feet.

—-

Heidi was asleep. She really wasn't surprised at all that Logan hasn't been home, and since he's been mostly keeping up his end of the bargain, and because she was tired anyway, Heidi crawled into bed.

When she hears the door slam, she's awake, jolted out of a sound sleep by the footfalls that are all too obvious in the quiet house. The dogs poke their heads up as she stands and heads for the door… Seeing the bloody handprint on the wall not too far away from her room, her eyes widen. She sucks in a deep breath, and retreats back into the bedroom for the gun that Jack gave her.

When she next leaves the room, she closes the door behind her to keep the dogs from running out to greet whomever it is that's inside. Heidi fully intends to defend this house, and she certainly doesn't think for a second that the man running the water in the bathroom could be—

"Nathan!?" she says as she rounds the doorway. The revolver is pointed at him, but her eyes are as big as saucers, and her finger isn't even on the trigger. She looks… surprised, to say the least. "Oh my god. Oh god. Logan, what did you do!?"

Her eyes stray toward the shotgun, back up toward Logan… "You shot someone. You hurt someone. Nathan, listen to me, there's no going back from that. Nathan." Please.

—-

At the sudden appearance of his wife, he pulls away from the sink with a startled, guilty jerk, leaving it running. Pink water, diluted so with blood, is spattered on the porcelain, and he glances down at the shotgun, then the revolver in her hands, then her face. There is definite lost look about him, as if unsure if he's in a dream, unsure of anything. His coat, a long black trench, is opened, and his shirt, dark blue, is stained with brown-red even more so than his hands, which drip tainted water onto the bathroom tile.

"Heidi," he says, and raises a hand. "I didn't. I didn't hurt anyone. I— woke up here— " Finally, he reaches out to turn off the faucet, and then nudges the lupara to the side with his foot, hands raising in a sort of surrender. Almost pleadingly, he searches his wife's face. "I…" Then, he freezes, her words coming back to him, making sense. "Logan?"

—-

Her eyes narrow as she searches his face, listens to the words that have more behind them than anything Logan ever said to her. She tries to make sense of it, but there's no visible change. It's still the same man looking at her, albeit now with this lost look, that Heidi's not sure if it's a trick or not, and…

And something tells her it's not.

Keeping her eyes on him, she leans down so she can set the firearm on the floor. "You don't— Remember?" she asks, honestly surprised by this. Intensely surprised by this, despite the fact that she knows from reading that the personalities don't necessarily remember each other when they surface. "Nathan?"

It's… not particularly helpful, but she wants to make sure. She probably shouldn't have put down the gun until that was squared away. "Let's get you cleaned up," she says, her voice shakey as she turns the water back on warm, and grabs a towel off the nearby rack.

—-

"No," Nathan responds, grimly. "I don't remember." Quite a lot. He stays still as she goes to run the sink water again, picking up a towel, and after a moment's hesitation, he offers his hands for her to clean. Doing it himself had proven counter productive, it just ended up smearing

"Last thing I knew I was in a— hospital," he says, voice graveled, quiet, uncertain. "I thought I was in a coma…" Which doesn't make sense, because he'd have to be awake to remember such things, but how else could he possibly explain the long stretches of blankness between the hazy moments of consciousness?

He darts a glance up to the mirror, as if expecting to see something that isn't his reflection, but if there is anything there to indicate otherwise, it doesn't show. "I had a dream about my dad, too," he says, with a shaky laugh. "Been a while. Next thing I know is I'm in the backyard, covered in blood and holding a gun. I thought— " His voice hitches for a moment, as if not wanting to betray what he had guessed.

—-

With the towel, Heidi scrubs the blood away, at one point reaching under the counter for some stronger soap she can use. It won't all come out, no matter how hard she tries. It's stuck under his nails, in the creases of his skin… It occurs to her that she might be covering up for a crime, but Nathan did nothing wrong.

Even so, she knows that Logan is a part of him, and that's scary to think about.

"You left. When you came home, you weren't you," she says tersely, using the slight edge of anger to keep the fear out of her voice. "I figured it out. I told him I wouldn't tell anyone." Despite the fact that she's telling this to the person she already told it to, they're different enough in her mind. It's all extremely confusing. This isn't in the Spouse 101 Handbook anywhere.

"The kids are staying at a friend's house— " Looking up, she meets his eyes. It's a damn good thing his sons aren't home right now. They'd be awake, they'd have no idea what was going on, why their father has a gun, or why there's blood all over the walls. What can she say to comfort him at a time like this? "Nathan, if it happens again, do you want me to tell someone?" she asks.

Or, better yet. "Is there anywhere I can take you?"

—-

It's like listening to some distant event he has no part of, brow furrowing as she explains her end of things. His head shakes, once, in denial, but he doesn't say anything, gaze dropping down to his hands as they're cleaned of blood. Someone's blood, he has no idea who's. In a sense, even the present moment hasn't quite caught up with him.

Niki had said there'd be black outs. Standing on the rooftop that one afternoon, that's the one piece of practical advice she had given him.

"Heidi," Nathan says, now looking at her, the horror of the situation seeming to hit him, written into his expression with more clarity than he'd ever normally reveal. "Are you— " Hands that are wet still move to touch her. "You're not hurt, are you, he didn't…" He. Logan. She talked to him. For how long? This isn't meant to be happening. This was a future that they were supposed to prevent. He can feel panic rising, drawing away from her sharply as his hands drift to his bloodied clothing. She'd asked him a question. He closes his eyes. Focus.

"Ramon," he finally responds, voice now shaking. "Ramon Gomez, I need to go— I need to go." He glances towards the mirror, warily, and makes for out of the bathroom, hands running through his hair. He has to get away. He's never met Logan, doesn't even know half the things he did in the future, but it doesn't matter. Nathan knows enough.

—-

"It's okay," she keeps repeating now. Not quite broken-record, but whenever there's a gap of silence to fill, she says it. It's not really okay at all, and there's no relief now that Nathan's back. He didn't fight this fight. Didn't come back from it, he didn't even know what was going on, which means this is completely out of their control. "Where did all this come from?" she mutters to herself, speaking of the blood that's staining Nathan's clothing and hands.

Did Logan hurt her? Mind returning to when he'd grabbed her hair and throat, Heidi says "No. I had leverage," she says. She was fully in control of the situation as far as she can tell, and while she's not sure if any of it helped, well, at least she has Nathan right now.

It never occured to her to call Ramon, but as soon as the words are out of Nathan's mouth, Heidi realises that he's right. Elena's father was able to create a resistance to a man with a hypnotic voice. He'd definitely be able to help her husband.

As Nathan leaves the bathroom, Heidi catches him around the elbow. "I am going with you this time," she says in that no-nonsense, I'm-not-taking-no-for-an-answer way. "I can help. I can tell tell you both what happened."

—-

Nathan allows himself to be caught, her protest a predictable one, and he looks back at her almost pained. He wants to fix this himself, make it right and restore balance. He doesn't really know how easily Logan can slip back in, like a stiletto into a rib cage - all he knows now is that he has to be the one to stop it. And so he seems about to protest, until Heidi brings up that last offer, ruefully making his mouth into a thin line until he gently tugs his arm out of her grip.

"Okay," he says, grimly, then glances down at himself. "I need to get changed." Walking around covered in the drying blood of an unknown victim— he hastily moves away again, heading for his bedroom. A moment alone, that's what he could use.

—-

The dogs are in the room, behind the closed door. Now tha things are somewhat clearer, there's no reason to keep them locked up anymore. Heidi nods… She doesn't really want to let him out of her sight, but she lets him go anyway, wetting the towel so she can attempt to clean the walls off while Nathan's getting changed.

As she returns to the sink, she spashes her face with water and throws her hair up in a ponytail, before pulling on a pair of sweatpants. Wetting another towel, she heads out into the hallway so she can attempt to scrub the walls before the red handprints dry.

"It's gonna be okay," she says to herself again. Maybe if she were thinking more clearly, she'd grab her purse before they left, as well, but her mind is totally on something else at the moment. Maybe she did get through Logan's walls. Maybe that's why Nathan came to. Maybe she's helping.

—-

The bloodied clothes are shoved into an empty backpack he finds crumpled at the bottom of a closet, throws it under the bed, unsure of what to do other than hide. Pulling on new clothes - jeans, a sweater - Nathan shuts the wardrobe door when he's done, caught, for a moment, by his reflection. He glances towards the bedroom door, then rests a hand by the mirror, staring into it as if it would yield answers. Trying to find the man he apparently turned into.

He should call the police.

The thought strikes him hard enough to make him wince, closing his eyes at the idea. But really - a shotgun, clothing covered in blood, someone out there might be hurt. The NYPD have a right to know, the American justice system as a right to do with him what they choose. Not that Nathan hasn't done illegal things in the past, but this… His forehead comes to rest against the cool of the mirror, breath steaming it up in short bursts. He's a Senator. He can't afford any of this. This isn't fair.

His eyes open, and in the mirror, he stares the eyes looking back at him. One brown, one milky with blindness.

Nathan gives a soft, startled cry, pushing himself away from the mirror and gaping at the irradiated version of himself, standing silent and stoic, regarding him. "You," Nathan says. Another glance to the bedroom door, back to the hallucination. "You— I'm getting rid of you. Just— stay away." Oh god, he's going insane. With a harsh exhalation, he turns his back on the mirror to pull his shoes back on, grab his wallet and keys.

—-

The blood is not going to come off the walls. The house looks terrible, and she's not concerned for aesthetics, but… What if someone were to walk in? The police? Peter? They're going to have to clean this up when they get home. Repaint the walls, get a new sink in the bathroom— They'll never get it all out. This fear is going to drive Heidi crazy, and so she leans against the wall, taking deep breaths as she makes a mental list of what needs to be done.

Then, she hears Nathan talking.

Pushing off the wall and dropping the towel, she heads toward the bedroom, cautiously stepping past the door and into the room in time to see Nathan telling the mirror to stay away.

He's going insane.

No.

"Okay?" she asks timidly, looking back at the mirror. She sees her own reflection there, and can only assume that Nathan was giving himself a pep talk. She isn't privy to his reflective counterpart, except that he'd mentioned flashes in the mirror.

While she's in the bedroom, she pulls on her own shoes, and throws a sweatshirt on over the t-shirt she'd been wearing, before following Nathan.

—-

Nathan manages not to freeze when she appears, but carefully doesn't look at her as he does up the laces of his boots, locates a jacket to pull on. Doesn't explain. How does he explain, that he saw himself in the mirror and it wasn't himself? That talking to it seemed like a logical move? No wonder Niki seemed so broken, so adamant he remain strong. A glance to the mirror, and it's reverted back to normal, Nathan breathing out a sigh. It's just— it's just temporary. He can handle it. If not, he can just stay away for a little while until he figures out the solution.

Never mind the fact he's meant to be Senatorized something like tomorrow. It doesn't even cross his mind.

"Ready?" he asks, quietly, still not looking at Heidi, really, even as he asks.

—-

Ready doesn't quite define how Heidi feels. She's hopeful, determined, but not really 'ready.'

Still, she nods, taking Nathan's hand and giving it a squeeze. "You're going to get through it," she says, and even if he won't look at her, she gives him an encouraging smile. "Just remember. I love you. No matter what happens." She honestly could have left as soon as she figured out that he was Logan, but the thought didn't cross her mind until much later. Even if she hates this and wishes that it had never happened, she's going to be with him. She still has it in her mind that she can save him somehow.

It's not until they're outside that Heidi realises that she doesn't have her purse, her phone, anything. That's okay, though. She's not driving. "Yeah. Let's go."

—-

The winter-cold of the nighttime air outside is refreshing, and moves Nathan to take Heidi's hand again as they head for the sports car. "Thank you," he says, and means it. If there's ever a time to be sincere, it's now. Maybe he had wanted to go alone, but now that they are going… he's glad he's not. When she makes for the passenger door, it's Nathan's instinctive move to make for the driver's, grimly turning on the engine and flicking off the radio when it attempts to come to life. The last thing he wants is easy listening or house music - he wants his concentration more than anything.

"Peter apparently told Ramon what happened— what happens to me," he explains as they pull out of the drive way. "So he came to talk to me, sort of offered his help. I don't— know what he could do, exactly, but…" He doesn't know, short of the police station, where else to go. "Peter doesn't know?"

—-

There may not have been another time for her to say it.

Logan is still there, even if they have this little interlude where Nathan's able to act. He couldn't have just gone away, especially after Nathan came home covered in blood… Though… what if the shock of it drove the other personality away? It doesn't seem logical, given that Logan seemed to thrive on violence and hate - the exact opposite of Nathan. No, he's still there somewhere, which means that the 'I love you' is all the more important, but there aren't any words to reply to Nathan, except for an understanding nod. Heidi was sincere, too.

She had a talk with Lachlan at the bar a few days ago. Sometimes the very thing you're trying to prevent is the thing you end up causing. It looks as if this might be on the road to resolution, though; that she'll have her Nathan back by the end of the night - permanently. They can worry about where the blood came from later. Heidi is putting her faith in Ramon Gomez.

"He knows his ability," she explains. "You remember John Carter? He helped me with that. Made it so he couldn't… affect me, I guess is the best way to put it. I think that's why— " She's about to explain the phone call, but it's a little too much to go into right now. They'll have time to talk later.

Shaking her head again, Heidi says, "No, Peter doesn't know. No one does. I didn't— I made a promise with Logan. He'd give me a week of his attention so I could try to get to you, and I… Wouldn't tell anyone." Then, she adds as an afterthought, "I haven't been able to reach Peter, anyway."

—-

Nathan glances towards Heidi at this last part, wordless for a few moments as they drive. "Alright," is all he says. Peter is usually available for his family, which readily includes Heidi, and so the news is jarring. Especially during a time like this. But he has his own independent existence, so it probably shouldn't necessarily be a shock. "What happened— from what Pete told me— is that no one knew it had happened until it was too late. Logan would only make that deal to keep it quiet." He glances at Heidi via the rearview mirror, all the worry in the world written in his eyes. What was supposed to happen once the week was up? "You can't trust him. Not even if you corner him. Okay?"

It's a stab in the dark. But if Logan really did originate from where Peter said, those dark moments of pain and selfishness, then Nathan can draw up a decent sketch in his mind. The burn-victim reflection of himself comes to mind, hands tightening around the steering wheel. He's pushing the speed limit - luckily there's no one on the road at this hour.

—-

The difference here - at least in Heidi's mind - is that she's certain that the deal she made with Logan will actually help. She has nothing to base her belief on, as she's never dealt with this before, but she's certain she can reach him. Certain she already has. It's that determination combined with the naivety that everything always turns out for the best - something she's gone on believing even through all the awful things that have happened to the family - that are blinding her from the fact that Logan is everything that Nathan isn't. Essentially, a lying, backstabbing son-of-a-bitch who doesn't care for deals or promises. "It's not too late," she says, despite the state in which Nathan came home. "I know. And if this doesn't work, if you can't fix it… I'll make sure I get a message to Peter and Jack."

But. "I never really trusted him. I just have something he wants." His freedom.

As far as she knows.

As the car continues going faster, Heidi mentally urges it onward. "Logan told me what happened to you," she says. "When they took you from that lab, I mean. He told me that you were hurt pretty badly." She glances over at him. Her statement doesn't require a response, it just seems like she should keep talking to pass the time. Some gut feeling tells her to find a way to keep Logan at bay, and when she catches him looking up in the mirror, she reaches out a hand to put it on his shoulder. "There's no one behind you."

—-

"Sorta feel like there is," Nathan says, although offers a half-smile, and tries to at least visibly relax as she touches his shoulder. The speed eases off a little, but not by much. The lights of the city flood by in the darkness as they veer onto a highway, empty save for a couple of cars here and there that come and go, even at this hour.

The lab. Nathan remembers it, mostly in the form of a ghost twinge in his back at the feeling of a spinal tap, nausea suddenly turning in his stomach at the memory. The knowledge that perhaps no one would find them, then the unbelievable pain of the consequence of that happening all along. Mouth dry, Nathan says nothing on the topic, grimly watching the road ahead.

Eventually, he moves a hand to fidget with the radio after all, looking for something to eat up the silence. House music, house music, a talkshow, house music— classical orchestra sounds tinnily through the speakers, and he leaves it at that. "I'm sorry," he finally says, once both his hands are back on the steering wheel. Notoriously not awesome at apologies, it comes across flat. "I knew this could happen and I couldn't stop it."

—-

As Nathan turns the radio on, Heidi reaches for the heat, so they can take a little bite out of the cold air while they're driving. It still comes through the vents cold, though, given the temperature outside.

Heidi sits back in her seat again when Nathan relaxes. While he was being poked and prodded and driven insane, she was at home tearing out her hair, trying to figure out what his disappearance meant, and where she could find him. She tried everything short of going out looking herself, and given the sheer size of the country, it would have been a futile effort if she had. "I wanted to save you," she admits in response to the silence. "Tried to return the favour."

Telling Nathan that this isn't his fault would be a lie. Sure, the circumstances that led up to all this, all starting with the explosion, were not his fault at all. People can't control how they feel, though, or how they react to situations that go far beyond their control. Nathan could have stopped it if he'd done things differently, but no one honestly could have predicted this, even with knowing it was a possibility. "It's okay," Heidi says again. There's a pause, then she adds, "Maybe after this, our family can have a little peace and quiet for awhile."

Humour is supposed to help, right?

—-

"We could take that vacation we always wanted," he says with a half-chuckle. Out on the highway, now, with all the stretch of road, the car resumes pushing that speed, Nathan relaxing back into his seat.

Luciano Pavarotti, is apparently, the latenight choice of this channel. It fills the small space of the car, drowning out the distant ambience of traffic on different roads. This long stretch of highway remains mostly quiet save for the lone sports car roaring down it. "Tell me," he says, after a few moments. "What are the plan after a week?" A glance to her, quizzical. "If you didn't get through to me, in the end? Were you gonna throw it all the way, tell everyone? Leave?" A hand lifts to adjust the rearview mirror minutely, eyebrows raising. "I guess a better question would be, what was he gonna do."

—-

"It's good to have you back," she says quietly, smiling when she hears that chuckle. Her voice catches as she says it, and she can feel tears stinging her eyes. She hastily wipes them away, thinks happy thoughts - like the kids splashing on a beach in… Australia or something… and the Moment is gone. Heidi's been so caught up in all of this that the only time she's been able to cry is when she was stone drunk.

…Right. That's… another story for later.

A week would have passed, and then, there's only one honest answer that Heidi can give. "I wasn't entirely honest with him," she says. Logan might have believed her. Heidi never lies, she's always been a woman of her word. "I told him I'd leave him alone. He could just… Be. I'd stop trying to help." There's along pause, then, "I wouldn't have. I'll be god-damned if I'm going to let him have you like that, Nathan." There's a hard edge to her voice that hints at the frustration she's been going through since she met Logan. Anger. Determination. "I would have told as many people as I needed to. I would have gotten you help."

—-

His hand leaves the steering wheel to take hers briefly in an affectionate squeeze. "That's good to know," he says, thumb brushing over her knuckles, before withdrawing to place back onto the steering wheel. "That's what marriage is all about. Staying together, in sickness, in health."

The car is certainly speeding, now, and he glances at the mirror for an entirely different reasons. "I'm always going to be with you too, Heidi. In health, in sickness. Although there were times, I remember, when you certainly didn't want me around. When they told you you'd never walk again, not without years of physiotherapy. It's okay, I finally worked out what that was like. The need to be alone with your own weakness, to reckon with it, to deal with it."

Logan presses the accelerator all the more, the momentum of such pushing both occupants of the car back into their seats just a little as he does so. "I guess the question is, how's it gonna be this time? The same? Different? Whatever you want, honey. You were there for me."

—-

At first, she doesn't suspect anything. Why should she? She can be happy, because Nathan's here, they're going to get help, everything's going to be okay somehow. When he squeezes her hand, she reciprocates, holding onto his until he takes it away.

It's that moment that she'd like to remember, if she could have a choice. Even if it wasn't Nathan, the comfort she felt with him there, even in the dire situation — they were fixing something together. It finally seemed as if the walls were gone between them, and now, the wall falls back into place, and she knows it as soon as he says those words - in sickness, in health.

Despite the fact that the car is warm now, Heidi is suddenly cold. So calm before, now her heart starts beating in her throat as she turns wide blue eyes to the road. She's in a speeding car.

With Logan.

He heard her. "What are you doing," she demands. If he expected fear, he got it. There's a really good way to get to Heidi, and that's to put her in a speeding car on a long stretch of open highway. There's nothing that petrifies her more, and Logan's made his point clearly. "Slow down."

What's he talking about? With a terrible abruptness, she's no longer in the car with her husband, she's in a death trap with a monster. "This is hardly the same thing," Heidi says, voice wavering. "I broke my back, Logan— "

No. Not this way.

"Nathan. Listen to me. Nathan, I need you right now."

—-

"Nathan can hear you, so feel free," Logan says, abruptly tapping the rearview mirror. Flashes in the mirror, as he once said. "But he's not gonna do anything about it. I'm better at this than he is." That hand shifts down to increase the volume of the operatic music. "You broke your back, and then I learned what it was to be crippled too. Deformed, even. But we were both touched, Heidi, by angels. We were given second chances."

His hand dips down to undo his seatbelt, letting the thing fall away with a sharp click. With a flick of a switch, he unlocks his own door. "Consider this a second chance, Heidi," Logan says, voice harsh. "By rights I could leave you in a ditch somewhere."

—-

…No. "Nathan!" This is familiar.

She's terrified. He can hear her! There's still a chance! God, it's tempting to reach for the mirror, to find his eyes there, but she knows that - logically - she'll only see her own reflection. She repeats his name - screaming - once, maybe more. She can reach him. Come on, Poohbear. You can do this. This is your life.

Take it back!

She can see where this is going, even if she's panicked and very close to her own sort of breakdown. It's too much, it's been going on for too long, and she can't take it anymore. If she reaches for him, she'll get a handful of cloth, but if she tries to save herself…

People do strange things under stress. When JFK died, his wife tried to jump out of the back of a moving car for no good reason. When facing financial ruin, desperate men rob their friends and neighbors. If someone is drowning, they will drag down their rescuers in an attempt to save themselves.

And here, Heidi finds herself in a unique position, where there is no right answer to this situation, just a million wrong ones. Logan is going to jump out of the car.

Heidi does perhaps the stupidest thing possible, and starts working at the button on her seatbelt.

—-

The difference being, who does what when they fling themselves out of a car. Logan glances at her and gives a bright smile at her panicky reaction. The car is speeding, and they're on a crash collision for the fork in the road that indicates a highway exit. A chuckle sounds, as wife screams for her husband and somewhere in his own consciousness, husband screams right back, with Logan standing like a wall of ice between them. "Have a good evening, honey," he says, with all the faux-sincerity in the world, before, in one swift movement, the door is levered open, and boldly, the politician pulls himself out of the moving vehicle, leaping into the air.

The concussive effect of a flying man going supersonic rocks the car for a moment, but its course, built with momentum, stays true, the door slamming shut again under the effect of the rushing wind. By then, Logan is gone, Heidi left alone in the sports car as it hurtles down the quiet highway.

—-

There are no words to describe the crushing abandonment she feels the moment he's gone. It's like a blank feeling that just destroys every conscious thought she had exept one: Nathan just wasn't strong enough.

And then they come trickling in, a million thoughts in the span of a few seconds. Who does she trust anymore? Does she question everything now? Everyone's motives? Does she ever get into a car with anyone again? What's going to happen to the boys - oh god, the boys. Logan is going to be taking care of her children.

And the feeling of helplessness she felt after the first accident. The anger, not only at God, but at every single living thing that walked into that cold, sterile hospital room.

Somehow, Heidi manages to work the seatbelt free, and starts to reach for the door. Then a thought crosses her mind - if she can steer the car until she can get into the driver's seat… Maybe she can bring it to a stop! In her panic, though, it takes her a little too long to reach the wheel, and she doesn't manage to turn it in time to avoid the collision with the wall. History repeats, albeit with a much more spectacular outcome.

The car clips the wall as she tries to steer it, but the momentum sets it off balance, and the little change in trajectory is enough for the car to flip - once, again, and again - causing the sound of grinding steel and the smell of burning asphalt and gasoline to fill the immediate area. To Heidi, it's like she's right next to a train wreck as the rolling motion throws her against the roof the first time, then again to the windshield, head bashing against the glass, which, already weakened by the roll-over, shatters and digs into her scalp. Loose pieces of glass find their way into her arms, legs, chest…

The third time the car rolls, she lands across the steering column, feeling the cracking of bones in several places, and again when the car comes to rest in the snow at the side of the road, she puts her hands down instinctively, and feels both wrists give under the impact. Snap. Snap.

The only positive outcome of this is that she won't freeze to death while waiting for help to arrive. She's still inside the car, even if it's upside-down.

She lays still on the ceiling of the automobile, eyes heavy as the blood loss drives consciousness away. It seems important that she makes sure she can move her toes - she can. She can. And that's the last thought she has before the pain and bloodloss cause her to pass out, gasping for air, with the sound of a slowing heartbeat filling her ears - a dying rhythm.

—-

A point of near invisibility in the sky, Logan stops to watch - the jerk of the car veering from the wall, and the spectacular cartwheel is makes, spinning along the road and coming to a skidding stop. He imagines the effect of this is somewhat like putting a small creature in a box and rattling it around until it breaks limbs, ribs, neck. He almost wants to check if she's dead. But he will, later. Not while he's meant to be in Washington.

Hovering for a couple of minutes, Logan spies another car speeding along, coming to a slow stop beside the crashed vehicle, tentative and wary. He just make out the figures of people climbing out, then rushing on over.

"See?" he tells the wind, and the man lying shellshocked at the bottom of his consciousness. "She'll be okay. She'll…" His mouth shuts with a click of teeth, and the people milling around the broken car, calling an ambulance, will glance up at the sound of the sonicboom in the sky.


She sees light. People standing around her.

Then she's gone again.

When she wakes, she says something, tries to convey the severity of the situation. Someone has to hear her — but she only manages one word before her vision swims and she's out again.

With a jolt, Heidi's awake. She says the word again. Then, she coughs. There's something blocking her airway; no, it's something that's helping her breathe. She has to tell them. Has to—

To—


As the gurney is wheeled into the operating room, one of the paramedics leans against the wall. He's covered in blood, but it's not his. One of his associates comes to put a hand on his shoulder, giving it a pat. "She was talking. You get any idea about who the hell she is?"

The first paramedic shakes his head. "Looks familiar, but I can't place it. Anyway, we had to intubate her b'fore she stopped breathing.

They look at each other. At least they did their job… They got the woman to the hospital alive. The second paramedic lets go of his friend's shoulder. "C'mon. We gotta clean up. We still have four hours ahead of us." He pauses. "What was she saying, anyway?"

The first paramedic shrugs. "Something was low. Too low? I don't know. That's all she was saying. Maybe she was delirious. Low? I don't get it."

The other man shrugs as they head to the locker rooms.

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