2010-01-15: Waiting In The Wings



Date: January 15th, 2010


The future is always changing.

"Waiting in the Wings"

One Year Ago…

In her office, Angela Petrelli sits with her hands on the wide, wooden beast of a desk that belongs to her now. It has for quite some time. Tucking her chair in closer to the edge, she looks at the flat-screen computer monitor off to the left. She picks up the phone; dials. "Peter, you're going on a mission to North Dakota. A woman, Lilian, has been IDed — we think she's responsible for destroying a church and some other property before that. A few people died this time. Her ability might be sonic in nature… we'll find out when you bring her in. I'm sending Benjamin with you and Meryl incase anything goes wrong." Click.

The Company is doing well. Not everyone agrees with their slightly altered modus operandi; sometimes even Angela herself would rather go back to a simpler time when shooting first and asking questions later in the stickiest of situations was approvable, but the change has been successful.

Still, the woman frowns after the phone is hung up. She plucks a framed photograph from her desk, a manicured thumb coming to rest beside the face of Nathan, smiling alongside Peter.

Three Weeks Ago…

"Seeing the future — knowing what's to come — it's not a gift."

"Change one, single action and one outcome is no longer so set in stone. There are literally thousands of possibilities. And still … we're connected by threads of fate. History tries to repeat itself over and over again."

Her thumb runs over the same face on black-and-white newsprint. The same, minus the smile. PETRELLI ATTEMPTS TO REVIVE DESOUZA, the headline reads.

Angela Petrelli sits in the living room of a lovely home. It's not hers; she's living on charity, and though it's the charity of an old friend, it does not feel right. It's a nice place for a fugitive, she'll give it that, but she's living on borrowed time this way.

With a sigh and a stoically clenching jaw, the matriarch leans her head against the back cushion of the white armchair she sits upon, if only for a few minutes. Her exhaustion is evident, her face drawn into a pose that is nearly a scowl as she drifts off. It won't be a restful nap, but at least she can sleep at all. Of course, when Angela sleeps…

She dreams.

"Death. Destruction."

The whole city is rocked, vision veering sideways as the rumble in the distance takes over for an instant. Bombs. War. Troops march down a city street at night beside a long, rectangular body of water and manicured lawn, shoving a pair of people toward an armoured van. In a flash, they're flung back by a blinding white electrical arc from one of the figures' hands.

Moments later, the pair with abilities are shot down from afar. All over, the same thing is happening.

The thrum of helicopters, gunfire, screaming and sounds unquantifiable attack from all sides. Suddenly, the foundations of buildings seem to melt and destabilize and crumble down.

In the distance, the obelisk of the Washington Monument slides and comes crashing down.

"Sometimes it's the same as stopping sand with your fingers. Eventually, something slips through. The hourglass runs out. The inevitable is only delayed."

"Stop one disaster and there's another waiting in the wings."

White floors, metallic tables, and white walls reflect the eerie luminescence of the room throughout. The floors are well polished — clinically so — although have been doused with bleach from the many contaminants that get on them. The room itself is silent other than the hum of the fluorescent lights above.

The occupants are particularly silent. Unless you speak to the dead. Then, perhaps, they have something to say.

The side wall contains all of the occupants. It's a refrigerator of sorts with drawers that enable doctors, police officers, and other interested parties to view the dead in a way considered 'respectable.'

The doors themselves are metallic, clinical like the rest of the room, but they push open to ease the transport of bodies.

The cold steel is unwelcoming. The harsh, unforgiving lights, the antiseptic smell; nothing invites a person to step inside the modern world's answer to the realm of the dead. The whole room is a bright, flashing sign that says turn back now, it's already too late, the living don't belong here.

But a line in the metaphorical sand has been drawn by this point in time. There's no going back from here. She has to see it with her own eyes.

Angela Petrelli is looking almost as ghoulish as the residents of this place must. The woman's skin has a pallor, pulled thin and drawn in over her bones. Her eyes are wide and red-rimmed, seeming permanently frozen in a state of shock and fear. It is fear of the truth, but despite any denial she retains, she makes her way to the wall of drawers with footsteps that echo more than they ought to.

She seems to know exactly where to go. A drawer is opened.

The opened drawer moves easily enough and the body on the table lays covered in a sheet acting as a veil between the living and the dead. It's face is entirely concealed from the living world. But undeniably, the body is dead. There's no trace of breath underneath the tent-like sheet. It's medium build is completely still.

"I've lived long enough to know that sometimes, for the future to be saved, you have to make the hard decisions no one else has the guts to make."

Angela lets go before pulling the slab out even halfway. Ever-so-slowly, she twists her fingers around the edge of the covering. Like she sheet, her hands are coldly pale, but her nails are blood red by contrast. There is a moment of hesitation as she stares down at the shrouded figure before she whips it off theatrically — as one reveal a great work of art. Tada. The reality may be more like ripping off a band-aid. band-aid.

A gasp rattles in her throat.

Senator Nathan Petrelli lays on the table, eyes manually closed. His pale white face and emotionless features aren't particularly befitting of a Senator, or of Nathan. In fact, he appears haggard, perhaps pushed beyond the bounds of exhaustion. His blue-ish lips, curl downwards into a sort of perpetual frown, one that the mortician will fix when he has his way. His hair is oddly immaculate — even after being stuck under the sheet — but then, when isn't it?

"You have to CHOOSE. Sacrifice one future for another…"

Angela sinks low, close to Nathan, leaning onto his metallic resting spot; she takes in the sight of him with eyes so intent that one might wonder if she expects him to move. She's a smarter woman than that. She knows Nathan is dead and the realization brought around from seeing it here is suddenly too much for the normally composed mother to take.

"No… Nathan, no, no…" She touches the face of the body gingerly, motherly, holding it with a quivering hand. With a deep, ragged breath and a clatter of the table, she draws what's left of Nathan toward her, hugging tightly. "NO!" she screams; sobs. "Why! I'm so sorry Nathan…"

"All for the sake of the bigger picture."

The eldest Petrelli would normally try to comfort his mother. He'd try to console her, tell her everything will be alright. He would make the arrangements for the funeral — or have one of his assistants do it. He would be there, a presence. He hadn't been there for a year and a half, and now Nathan will never be there again. He can't help Peter again; will never hold Heidi. He won't see either of his boys learn to drive or graduate high school; won't live to attend their weddings. He won't ever have his opportunity to change the world for the better.

His lifeless body lays there, symbolic of promises and dreams shattered. He had so much promise; so much to offer the world, and now? Now, he's gone, and nothing can bring him back this time.

"If there were any… any way to hold onto the threads that are closest… to keep them when all else fails… to trick fate— "

In broad daylight, Angela stands stoic in a sheath of black attire. Funerary. Fitting, since she's at a funeral. She wears a hat, gloves, but the grass is becoming green. The sun shines down on the gathered; glints off the polished wood of the casket. Over her shoulder, she looks at the familiar faces.

The young Petrelli boys stand close to their grandmother. They are dressed in matching black suits paired with ridiculous plaid ties — an homage to their now deceased father. Some might think it inappropriate, but then Nathan had bought these ties before his death — almost like he knew. Where else would Simon and Monty wear ties?

Simon reaches out and clutches his younger brother's hand. It's not something he does often, but he's being the dutiful older brother, although, arguably, this death is likely harder on him than Monty. Yet he hasn't let himself cry. And he doesn't intend to. In fact, he's been painfully silent through all of the preparations, the planning, and the execution of this funeral. Sometimes there just isn't anything to say.

Monty, unlike his brother, has been sniffling and tearing up since the family arrived. He squeezes Simon's hand and looks up at his grandmother, still sniffling, "I don't think Daddy wants to live in there forever… he… he should come out and play with us…" Everyone had explained to Monty that Nathan won't be leaving his casket, but somehow this is still unbelievable to the seven year old.


Angela must hear the boys, but she remains a silent. Someone else can explain once more that their daddy isn't coming back; Heidi, maybe Peter… where is Peter? She searches the crowd of black-dressed mourners and those who have come to pay their polite respects, her features narrowing around dulled eyes. She's interrupted by a man dressed in a US Navy uniform there to shake her hand. She does so, smiling, barely, with strained but practice civility.

Both of the boys flit their eyes to the naval officer, and then back to the casket. It's at this moment that Simon releases Monty's hand; he hasn't looked in the casket. He glances around for an adult, any adult that might stop him, but sees none. And so he trudges forward, palm out, determined to touch his father one last time.

Monty traipses behind his brother to his father's body; the pair really haven't been allowed to inspect the body.

Nathan's dark polished casket houses him in his favourite suit — navy blue Armani and a red and blue striped tie offset by a white shirt. Red, white, and blue. Patriotic. His skin is its usual lustre now, and his lips have been quirked up into a peaceful near-smirk like he's laughing at something in his own mind, but his mind isn't working. He's lifeless.

Simon reaches forward and touches his father's shoulder — poking it, just to see. There's no response. Simon feels his lips quiver. His dad isn't coming back.

Monty steps around to the other side of the casket and continues to sob.

"How many times can I stop the sky from falling?"

A sound from the waking (but no more real) world jar Angela from her brief repose, unrested, her eyes momentarily frenzied and her breath catching.

Ring! Ring! The chimes of a doorbell.

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