2007-10-15: The What Ifs And Guarantees


Nathan_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Summary: Wherein Peter blames himself, Nathan resists an "I told you so", and no one's sure what to do next.

Date It Happened: October 15th, 2007

The What Ifs and Guarantees

Bat Country Labs

It's not been too long since the screaming in the lab that brought everyone who'd been in the quarantine area out to find out what happened. Peter stops by his girlfriend's door first, after pacing around in an angry huff, only to find the door locked. She'd never locked the door before. He could have tried walking through the wall, or ripped it open, or unlocked it with his mind— since he knows where the locking mechanism on the door is, but instead he makes a frustrated sound at no one, and heads to the other room nearby, opening the door to the room he was supposed to be sharing with his brother. It'd rarely been shared, though. He throws open the door, uncaring that people are sleeping, and then slams it behind him.

And people ARE sleeping. Or were. Or attempting to. Either way, Nathan is piled under blankets and such when the door is abruptly opened and slammed shut again, a questioning "mph?" being his reply. Then, he moves an arm, sweeping back all that fabric to peer at Peter blearily, before pulling himself up to sit. "Yes?" he asks, in a moody, clipped tone of voice. Meanwhile, Peter's bed that he hasn't really been using is being used - the duffle bag Nathan's been living out of has been placed carelessly atop the bedsheets.

There's a glance towards his brother moments after the door slams behind him, then Peter looks back at the door and lets go of the knob. "Am I ever going to do anything right?" he asks, frustration heavy in his voice, which is also rather hoarse from yelling and sickness. There's obvious signs of exhaustion around his eyes, but he doesn't immediately lay down, or collapse, just walking over to the other bed and moving the duffle bag aside so he can sit down.

Nathan shifts so his back can hit and lean against the wall that the cot has been pressed up against, keeping the blankets over him, as a T-shirt and pyjama pants aren't really that much defense against basement, almost-winter chilliness. "Uh," he says, very helpfully, regarding his brother in the semi-light. "Eventually you're bound to. Why, what is it?"

"This whole virus thing— with you, Elena, me— none of it happened. Not in the future I went to. We never were supposed to get sick," Peter's voice is frustrated, putting emphasis on certain words, almost spitting them out in whispered anger. Not directed at all at the man he's talking to so much as the one who's doing the talking. "And Evelyn was only supposed to get sick to the point she wouldn't have even noticed— she lost her abilities for a while, that's it. That's the only clue at all that she even had a virus. She didn't even remember getting a flu. And now this— this virus has changed and it's something else and we're all sick. And what if it changes further? What if this spreads? What if it…" he trails off.

The trailing off leads into Nathan talking quietly. "Yeah, well, what if I become a sociopathic President and normal people are shipped into concentration camps?" he asks. "Or what if you blew up all of New York City?" There's a rustle of fabric as he pushing the bedsheets away, allowing the cold now to wake him up slightly, even if it draws a shiver from the other man. "I don't think that stuff was supposed to happen either. Come on, Pete, the world always needs saving. Or New York does, at least. Someone'll cure it."

There's been a couple bad futures predicted, and this one might not be the worst. Even if it's contained to just four people, it could be the best of all. But… "What if they don't?" Peter asks, looking up. Some of the anger fades into another emotion, just as strong as before, but quieter. "The first strain of this virus led to death, Nathan. What if I killed you? Elena? Sure, might make a slightly better world for the rest of the country, but…"

Nathan is suddenly way way more awake now, giving Peter a sharp look. Lead to what now? What did you say? Of course, he had his suspicions - viruses run their courses or run you into the ground, after all - but… He clears his throat, almost as if to reset himself from momentary speechlessness. "Okay, well. That's not a certain fate, is it. And it's not fair to drive yourself crazy over what if." Pause. "Or drive everyone else crazy over what if."

"Yeah, Cass tried to hide that from me too," Peter says, rubbing his hands over his face from where he sits on the bed. He got the reason the reaction had been shocking. "Suresh mentioned it when I asked him— when she brought him in to give a certain perspective on it. Cass wasn't too pleased that he told me." She'd been a little angry about it, from the look of things. "The second strain only caused power loss— and it probably was engineered by the Company. Mohinder thought it was. This is completely different, didn't even respond to Claire's blood— should've figured it wouldn't when regeneration doesn't fix it for me, either."

Nathan gives a mildly disappointed 'mm' in response to that last part. God, at this point, he just wants to go home. Little does he know he's gonna get this wish, just not in the way he expects. There's a gentle thud as his head lands back against the wall, contemplating the ceiling for a moment. "So what is it we have?" he asks, turning his head slightly to look at Peter. "The first or the second or something different?"

"Something different," Peter says, letting his hands drop away and looking across at his brother. "A dorment strain that we probably picked up at Sinai in quaratine— it probably wasn't ever going to activate for most of us— or wasn't going to have noticable symptoms. Evelyn's the only one in the future who mentioned any kind of power loss— but you might've, I didn't exactly get to talk to you much about that sort of thing. Elena would've mentioned it though, once we found out about Evelyn." There's no reason she wouldn't have. Checking for a virus when he got back had been that Elena's idea. "Elena thinks the strain replicated, Sam thinks the strain combined with a second strain— a different one, creating something completely different, unique."

"I see." And he kind of does. You don't need to be a doctor or a medstudent or a scientist to imagine the way this kind of thing works. Especially when it's happening to you. Nathan lapses into thoughtful silence. "So essentially what you're saying is that you going to the future and comin' back is what caused this thing." Pause. "Is this a bad time to say 'I told you so' or…"

"Go ahead," Peter says, standing up again and unable to look at his brother when he does. Before, the last few days, he'd barely been able to stand without putting his hand against a wall or bracing himself on something, but now he can turn around and face the wall, looking for an instant like he might attempt to punch his fist through the wall. And he really could. But he doesn't. Not yet at least.

Tense silence, as Nathan is basically handed the opportunity to say one of those phrases that siblings just adore to say to the other… but he doesn't take it, sighing. He'll say it after they're cured and healthy. More of rustling of bed sheets as Nathan pulls his legs out from under them, bare feet resting against the floor although he doesn't go to stand up, staying seated. He wants to be reassuring, but… he can almost physically feel his campaign slipping from his grasp with every passing day and he's even starting not to care if only to blank out the anxiety. So he just speaks the truth. "This was nothing you could have anticipated, Peter. Things would be far worse than they are had you never gone."

This is one of those things Peter could say a hundred times over, how he should've known, how he should have checked things out— why didn't he even think to check his own blood in the future? Cass could have done it, they had the medical facilities. At the same time, he's right. If this virus is the worst thing that happens— especially if they contain it, cure it— then it was for a good reason. If they don't contain it or cure it— then there's another problem all together. And he might not even be around to blame himself for it. "We'll fix it," is what he finally says, quieter, less angry, but not as optimistic as he'd like it to be. "Make the future how we want it to be." Repeating past advice.

"You mean Cass will fix it," Nathan says, running a hand through hair that either needs a trim or a comb, severely. But it's— who knows what time o'clock, but he was sleeping, either way. "And Suresh. And apparently Dr. Applebaum." He doesn't roll his eyes, but you can hear it in his tone. It's not really dislike, however. "That's what I get for wishing for a real doctor. Why're you in here, anyway?"

"I meant the collective 'we'," Peter says, touching the wall for a moment before he turns around to face his brother again. "I know there's very little I can do— though I'm going to have to keep an eye on all of you— Cass is going to let us leave Bat Country, but she wants us to stay together, keep an eye on each other's symptoms. Which could mean getting a hotel suite for a while. The mansion would be a great idea, but we still don't know how it… passes from one person to the next and there's… Cass thinks people who aren't like us are immune, so Heidi might not be in danger, but the boys might be, and we don't…" He trails off. He'd not answered the question. "My girlfriend locked me out," he finally adds.

Unfortunately for Peter, it's this explanation that shoves the topic of Elena out the window for now, Nathan attentive once more. There's a pause, then, "That's a lot of 'might be', Pete," he says, a little ruefully. "I want to go home." That's said with a little too much seriousness, gaze dropping to the floor for a moment before continuing. "I want to go home but I can't bring this into my home if it means my family might be in danger. Give the word and say it's okay, then yeah, we have room enough for you and Elena." On afterthought, he adds, "and Evelyn, I'm guessing."

"I can't give the word and say it's all okay," Peter says, rubbing his hands over his face. "We don't know how it spreads— or if, maybe— only the people who were in Sinai can even get it. Cass wants to test Heidi and the boys, and I went and messed up her lab. Cass thinks it would be fine as long as we're careful, don't share plates, take basic percautions to avoid the spread of germs, but even then… There's no guarantees."

Guarantees would be wonderful. Nathan looks at Peter as if waiting for such words, even after the younger man says there are none, before he sighs, holding up his hands like 'I don't know'. "Let me talk to Heidi," he says. "If she's alright with it then I can't say it wouldn't be nice to be home. Although if you could undo whatever you did to piss Elena off by then, we'd have even more room." A slightly mocking bright smile is cast Peter's way.

"We send the boys somewhere— until we figure this out. Maybe Heidi too," Peter suggests, though he knows it's not the nicest suggestion ever. A few months ago he would have never wanted to just send them away for their protection, but this virus will potentially kill them, aftre all. That makes it different. "And I know— I'll try knocking on her door later," he says, moving toward the door and taking in a slow breath. "I'm going to go clean up the lab— change out supplies— then I'll figure out how much I owe Cass to replace everything I broke." All instead of sleeping and resting like he should be.

"I'm not kicking my family out of their home," Nathan says, firmly. Yes, this is a change of tune, considering he had been the one to send them away late last year. But in this time and place, it doesn't seem fair and besides, burn victims are harder to move than people with a fever. It was a necessity. "If it's not okay for us to be around them then I guess we can find a hotel or something." His hands raise up to rub at his face, tiredness setting in a little fuller. He should be telling Peter to get his ass to bed and worry about the lab later, but instead he just goes, "Fine. Do I get to sleep now?" Yeah, a little grumpy his sleep was interrupted, but hey.

There's a small nod since, well, Peter doesn't exactly agree with kicking them out either. He pauses at the door, before he actually opens it, "Yeah, go back to bed. Sorry I woke you." The apology isn't quite as shame filled as it could be, but at least he's leaving him alone to get back to his sleep. "We can talk to Cass in the morning." Bet she'll be grateful to have them kicked out of here.

"Sure y'are," Nathan mutters, and… he fairly collapses back against the bed, folding his legs back underneath the blankets. "Hey, Peter?" he says, before his brother can escape the room completely. "I'm not angry at you over this." Even if he could be angry.

Luckily, Peter didn't mmediately step outside and close the door behind him, so he catches what his brother said. There's even a long pause, one foot most the way out, before he lets out a slow exhale. "Thank you," he says softly, in a whispered tone. There's more he could say, and the hesitation at the door may hint at his temptation, but he stays silent, even as he steps outside and closes the door quietly behind him.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License