Date: December 28th, 2009
Nathan visits Anais to check on her after she gets out of the hospital and ends up sharing his plans with her.
"Truth and Trauma"
Anais' Apartment, Deveaux Building, NYC
It was a relatively uneventful Christmas Day for Nathan. Although the days following Christmas have been slightly more eventful, particularly as Anais got out of the hospital following her very bizarre coma. She left him a message to boot. Of course, it addressed Brayden. As he approaches Anais' door (dressed in his favourite Armani suit, red and green plaid tie, and new cufflinks from Hallis), he closes his eyes and concentrates, summoning Brayden's thoughts, memories, and feelings to the forefront of his mind. Somehow it's getting easier to flip between these ideas, concepts, and feelings.
With a heavy sigh, he pastes concern over his face, complete with slightly downward curled lips, furrowed eyebrows, and worry lines on his forehead. Raising his hand, he gently raps on the door.
The peephole goes dark when Anais looks through it, then the locks are quickly undone before she opens the door. Nathan's prim and proper advisor has seen better days; there are circles under her eyes, courtesy of a sleepless night, her bright hair is mussed and she's dressed in a heavy white robe over a pair of pyjamas. But she has a smile for the man on her doorstep and wastes little time in pulling the door open wide enough to allow him entrance.
"I was wondering if you would call or if you'd drop by when you heard my message. Come in, please." The woman's voice is still raspy, pitched low to avoid irritating her throat any more than it already is. Once Nathan has stepped inside, she spends a moment in doing up the locks again (and peeking once more through the peephole) before turning to regard him. Her arms tuck across her torso, hands cupping the opposite elbow.
"Are your children alright?"
Anais' smile earns one in return as Nathan shuffles into the apartment. "Your call left me… well…" He shrugs a little as the smile fades. What is there to say? She was in a coma, and now? "Are you alright, Anais? You don't have to come into work this week, or next. Don't rush the healing process." He frowns, but the frown curls back into a smile as he talks about his children, "Simon and Monty are good. I sent them back to their mother on Monday."
Her shoulders sag in a show of relief, the polite mask cracking when she hears that the little ones are fine. "Oh, thank goodness. Here, sit down," Anais instructs, leading the man towards the couches. The smile is gone, replaced with a look that is both serious and anxious. "Someone is looking for you, Brayden. For you and your family. Linda too. She found me instead."
A moment is spent arranging herself on the couch, curling into the corner of it between the cushions and the arm with the robe tucked over her knees. Then Anais returns to studying Nathan's face. "I think she means to kill you."
The smile fades again at the mention of someone out to kill Tracy and himself. The mystery woman from the office that his mother thought she knew. Unless there's someone else. A sick feeling in his stomach gnaws on him. This may become a familiar feeling in the weeks and months to come. Logan made many enemies; more than Nathan had before his second identity emerged. Pressing his lips together, Nathan paces the room, combing a hand through his hair with a measure of anxiety and stress. He was better off mentally and emotionally before he remembered (albeit not politically).
Finally, he takes a seat on the couch adjacent to Anais. "What did she look like?" If it's the same woman… he'll alert his security detail. "Blonde? Young-ish… early twenties maybe?"
"Young, yes. Reddish blonde hair. She said her name is Julie." Anais speaks slowly, drawing a breath and swallowing first to ease the ache in her throat. "She wanted me to answers questions for her. About you, and about Helen and Linda. Mostly Linda. She knew that Linda had dyed her hair, that she was blonde." There's a brief pause. "She said you and Linda took her dreams from her, so she intended to do the same to you. She wanted me to tell her where your family is."
A wan smile is summoned, although it comes nowhere near her eyes. "I managed to avoid doing so. It was…she was…someone like you, and my sister. She had me believing…horrible things."
Nathan stiffens. It's the same woman from the sounds of it. His jaw tightens as he sits back into the seat while crossing his arms over his chest. In a way it's relieving that it's the same threat as before, in another… "I think Linda and I met her last week. She had mistaken Linda for someone else." His lips tighten into an ironic, rather than genuine, smile. "And she expected me to remember something that I can't." Or couldn't, as the case may be. He swallows, "I've hired a fellow to head up our security detail. He's good at what he does and has experience dealing with people like her." People like him.
Anais presses her lips together, not entirely reassured by additional security, even if they are experienced. "Brayden…this woman, she…" The redhead pauses to find the necessary words, voice now as tightly controlled as she can manage with her damaged throat. She's blinking quickly now. "She was able to make me believe that I'd been shot in the knee. That I burned to death. Over, and over again. I…I should have died. Would have died, if Amrit hadn't been able to…to come into my head, and convince me it wasn't real. Experience is…what can someone do against that?"
Lips are pressed together once again as Nathan considers everything, but his lips twitch into an involuntary nearly-sardonic grin, despite how hard he tries to maintain some level of stoicism. "You'd be amazed what people like Mr. Grant can do against such things." The smile turns moderately genuine as it exposes two dimples on his cheeks, as his thoughts turn to Bennet "One human with great experience can do a lot against that, if he's prepared enough. Mr. Grant is well prepared. And I believe that others are on the case," particularly his own mother. Hopefully. If she hasn't actually vanished to Fiji this time.
"I hope that's true." Anais is unable to completely erase the skepticism she feels on that subject but an effort is made to return a smile for the grin. The expression fades quickly, however. Having just recovered from her near death experience, smiles aren't easy to maintain. "If you have faith in him, I will as well. And I won't need more than a day or two before returning to work," she goes on, placing a hand to her throat to explain the reason for that absence.
The woman pauses then, fixing him with those solemn brown eyes. "I would appreciate you keeping me updated on whether she's appeared again or not. I would…I am not a human with great experience. If she hadn't simply…overreacted, I might have told her more. It isn't something I'm proud to admit. But…the pain of it was…I think any normal person would…" For once, the words aren't coming to the redhead and that hand slides up to cover her face now. "I'm sorry. I need a moment. Would you like some coffee? There's some in the kitchen."
"She was sending me a message," Nathan murmurs with a sigh as he raises his hand to his forehead. "I'm sorry Anais, I didn't think it would be like this… working in the office I mean." He frowns as he shakes his head. "And I'm sorry that this happened to you. I should've got the brunt of that." For all he knows he might have deserved it although nothing about the girl had felt familiar. "Coffee would be good," is added as an afterthought.
Playing hostess is an excellent diversion from feeling the after effects of trauma, so Anais makes haste to rise from the couch and go into the kitchen. If she pauses to dab at her eyes with a slip of paper towel, no one's the wiser. "You needn't apologize," she says, her back to him and her head bowed over the work of arranging cups on a tray. "You aren't who you were. And even if you were, no one…no one deserves what she seems willing to do. Do you take cream or sugar?"
A flash of momentary guilt crosses Nathan's eyes at the mention of not being who he was, but he manages to shake it an instant later. He's himself. Kind of. He was Logan. He was Brayden. He is Nathan or some facsimile of the three combined. With a hrm to himself more than Anais he clears his throat, "I'm afraid things might get worse before they get better." Standing to his feet, he moves towards the window and looks out. "I told you about the government… taking people like me…"
"Yes?" Anais has not been so traumatized that she's oblivious to cues such as that one. So after the softly-spoken prompt, the woman remains silent. Coffee is poured into mugs, cubes of sugar arranged in a bowl and a small container of cream set on the tray before she returns to the living room. The tray is set on the table between the couches. Then she straightens up, folding her arms again and waiting quietly for Nathan to continue speaking.
As Anais approaches again, Nathan turns to meet her gaze. His jaw tightens further as his arms cross over his chest. He's all seriousness at this moment. No good humour to lighten the mood, no flicker of a smile, not even in his eyes. He's well aware of the nature of the business he's getting himself into. "Senator Wynn was on the committee taking people with abilities. His resignation has left the seat open." Beat. "I'm vying for that seat. To take them down from the inside." His lips twitch. He leaves the implications unspoken, hanging in the air.
Oh. Anais remains silent, her eyes widening and her lips parted on a held breath. That connects several dots that she'd been pondering, just before her encounter with Julie. After a moment of thought, she inclines her head to him. "I had wondered, given the nature of your acceptance speech," she says with a matching somberness. "If they realize…" She pauses. "Do they know what you can do? Oh, Brayden…"
It's a little much for this poor normal. Anais sinks onto the couch again and lowers her head, fingertips massaging her temples. "This has become far more complicated than I expected. Congressman Dawson urged me to not shy away from politics, but…" But that was before she became targeted by association.
A slight nod is given as Nathan walks back to the couch and sits down and tries to remember how Brayden liked his coffee. Decidedly he adds cream and sugar to the black brew and brings it to his lips. A bit sweet for his taste, but he's playing a role these days. "It's complicated," he agrees. "And a reliable source has told me they already know so I'm doing what I can to earn their trust through it." Clearing his throat he shakes his head, "Even publicly betraying my own brother." He blinks, "I have it on good authority people like me already work with them. And my ability is far from dangerous." He sighs as he shakes his head, "I understand if you want to back out of all of this, but I also know that they can't keep doing what they're doing. If we back down, they will win. I'm in a good position right now. I'm vulnerable because of the memory loss — they will try to exploit that. We can use it to our advantage." Pause. "But there are risks. I'm going to look like the villain to people like… me." He smiles weakly. There's the truth.
"Does he…your brother must know it isn't what you truly feel. That you have a purpose." Anais lowers her hands, setting aside her own apprehensions in favor of expressing concern for the man before her. "You're painting a target on yourself, Brayden. Is it worth it? Is there another way? If you think this could work, I'm not going to run from itm but I can't help very much, I'm not…well." Here she is finally able to summon a pale smile, tilting her head in a way that is self-deprecating. "Charities typically aren't in the business of infiltrating the government. Nor are real estate empires."
Nathan nods, "Pete knows. We planned it this way. It's… the only way." He sips at the coffee and frowns, "If this persists or they start using excessive force… we will have war. And based on what I know of abilities… it wouldn't be pretty." He clears his throat again. "It's worth it if we can take this down quietly. Avoid war. Avoid more collateral damage." He grins at her and raises a hand to his forehead, "I don't expect anything out of the ordinary from you, but you needed to know the risks. Besides, I'm not exactly qualified to impeach a president am I?" His grin broadens. It contains a measure of warmth.
The mention of war is effective at stealing her smile. Anais settles back against the cushions and returns to massaging her temples. Her cup of coffee goes untouched. "Stranger things have happened, I suppose. If you could remember…no. You're right in that, it's better that you don't, isn't it? Those without a past would make better tools," she murmurs, in the tone of someone who's thinking out loud. Anais lacks so many of the finer details but she's intelligent enough to see the sense of his plan, even without that additional information. "I expect they'll find you very useful indeed. Thank you for warning me. I know you probably would rather not have this known. Just…please be careful. You're positioning yourself between those with unlimited resources and those who can…cause a great deal of damage."
"I have few friends in all of this. You're one of them," Nathan states as he stands to his feet again. "And you deserved to know the risks." His lips twitch again as he places the coffee cup back on the table. "I should go though. Let you rest. And I have a lot of work to do — I'm trying to get a meeting with the President." He smoothes his coat.
Anais is quick to stand, when she sees Nathan doing so. "I wish I were a more useful friend. Thank you, Brayden. I promise, not a word of this to anyone. Thank you for trusting me," she tells him, finding a brief but genuine smile for the man. She crosses to the door and begins to undo the bolts. "I'll be back to work soon. The day after tomorrow, maybe. I can't rattle around here with nothing to do, I need to be busy."
"That's fine. Just don't rush back unnecessarily." Nathan reaches the door and clutches the doorknob. "If you need anything don't hesitate to call." That said, he opens turns the doorknob and pads into the hall.