2009-11-15: We Can Be Better



Date: November 15, 2009


Nathan and Helen have a meeting about his future in politics.

"We Can Be Better"

Nathan's Hotel Room

It's early in the evening, and after his mother had left Brayden managed to tidy up the bottles in his very white hotel room (white linens, white walls, white carpet, white walls - and pictures on the walls are entirely black and white). It turns out there's almost a whole garbage bag full. He smirks as he sits on the couch with the television on. He's watching reruns of his new favourite show - Afterlife. And he's wearing his favourite orange plaid flannel shirt, faded blue jeans, and worn out hiking boots. Fortunately he hasn't gone out wearing this ensemble since returning to New York…

There's a loud rapping knock on the door before the sound of the electronic keycard being inserted and the lock clicking open. The white door creaks open slightly and the peak of Helen's red hair is visible. "Senator?" She'll still call him senator, even though he's not technically holding his seat any longer. "Are you decent?" Because who knows with Nathan. Or Brayden, whatever he's calling himself at the moment. "We had a meeting." But, with amnesiacs who knows what they'll remember.

"For you Helen, I'm always decent," Brayden quips back with a broadening grin. Of course, this time he actually is. In fact, he's dressed and sitting on the couch. He stands up to meet her near the door. "Come on in Helen, make yourself comfortable," he motions towards the couch. Of course, she knows where it is, she's the one who put him up here in the first place.

Entering the room entirely now, Helen gives Brayden a quirked eyebrow as his response. If she weren't used to his quips and the like, she'd be more offended by them. However, she eyes the plaid orange shirt and bites back her own quip about how orange plaid may not be considered 'decent'. "Thank you." Shutting the door firmly behind her, she crosses the room and chooses one of the arm chairs opposite him. "How has the hotel been treating you? I trust it's all been acceptable? Have you called your wife yet?"

"The hotel has been fine. Dull and colourless, but adequate," Brayden shrugs a bit as he leans back against the couch. "Well… I called her once. She didn't seem too happy to hear from me." He purses his lips together as if pondering something, but thinks better of it and says instead, "But… I've come to a conclusion: I am Nathan Petrelli. I need to start acting like it." Pause. "You need to teach me how." He pauses again. "I know how to be me, but not how to be a politician. Or talk to the press."

There's a bunch of reasons why Helen has come back to work for Nathan. And helping him through this difficult time is one of them. "Well, I'm glad you've finally come to that conclusion." Despite the fact that everyone else had gone through that already. "And that's what I'm here for." Pulling out her leather portfolio that holds all her notes and contacts, she sets it in her lap and crosses her legs at the ankles. "I can't really teach you how to be Nathan, you're right. But I can guide you through being a politician again. But, you're going to have to listen to me. And you can't go out to random karaoke bars to sing Beyonce any more."

"Fine. I will stay away from karaoke bars. And I'll listen," Most of the time. Brayden cracks a smile and notes, "I at least nailed the performance. And as far as photos are concerned they weren't terrible." He presses his lips together, "But I'll do what it takes, Helen." He runs a hand through his hair. "So, what's next? I know I said I wasn't willing to talk to the press, but maybe I should? I need coaching though…"

With a smirk, Helen opens her portfolio. It looks like she's already put together a media package for Nathan and has just been waiting for him to come to. "I will not debate that with you, Senator. I wasn't there." But, he has managed to crack her into a smile at that. "I know you will. I wouldn't have come back to help you if I thought you were an unwilling client." Looking down at her notes, the smile fades into something much more neutral and business like. "I would let the current tabloid cycle filter through before we break you out to the press. I don't want it to look like we brought you out because of the tabloids. But, yes, we'll need to address the public. Have you thought about the story you'd like to tell about where you've been?"

Thoughtfully Brayden stares at the ceiling as he considers the story. His story. He smirks a bit with a hrm, "Well… I ended up in Ireland. And even when brainwashed I saved a beautiful woman from some rather large thugs." And got some pretty nasty beats in the process. "And after discovering more about myself — " that he can fly " — I went wandering, trying to figure out who I am. Drawn by a feeling that there was someone out there looking for me I kept moving, trying to rediscover myself. But everywhere I went made me feel further from myself. Unclear on what I needed to do, I pursued a more ascetic life at a Buddhist monastery in Red Valley California… after higher transcendence and a way to remember. While there we helped many of the less fortunate of our community." And Brayden competed with the other monks to his own detriment. He squints a bit and then adds, "While at the monastery something about New York seemed familiar so I made my way out here…" He frowns and then studies her, "Tell me… is there a way to make this sound intelligible to the public?"

The long answer has Helen listening just as thoughtfully as Brayden is considering his words. "Perhaps the shorter the better. If you're serious about getting back into politics, I don't think we can just say you needed to find yourself. We've got to contend with the fact that this is the second time you've given up your seat for one reason or another and the public is less likely to trust or vote for you, because so far they haven't seen follow through." She'll be honest with him, since that's what she's being paid for. "We need to restore everyone's faith in both you and your career. It's not going to be an easy task. I think what we need is a sit down with a prestigious and well respected journalist."

"I'm content with telling anyone anything you tell me, Lama Helen," Brayden brings his hands up to prayer position and bows towards Helen. "I gave up a seat before?" Oh the things Nathan doesn't know about his past. "And I didn't actually give up this seat. I still can't remember details about myself. I have odd familiarities from time to time, but nothing clear." He offers another nonchalant shrug. "Do you know a prestigious and well respected journalist? I really am willing to talk to anyone you suggest. I want the public to know that I'm loyal to them."

That deserves a rolling of the eyes and Helen gives it to Nathan. "I'm not a llama," she tells him seriously, but she's smiling again. Her voice is kinder when attempting to explain his previous Senate experience. "Yes, you did. You gave health reasons and family matters. I'll find the newspaper stories about it so that you can read them." As for not remembering anything about himself, the smile is gone again. "There's no way to get them back, is there? This isn't a soap opera, we can't bonk you on the head again and they'll come flooding back, hm?" It's a longshot, but she'll ask it anyway. "I'll have to research. I would say a Magazine article in the New York Times, but I don't want anyone to say that you've been given a free pass by a liberal biased paper. Maybe we'll do a double interview. The Post and the Times? The Post is such a rag of a paper, though. Maybe the Wall Street Journal. I'll ask around." There's a pause and she tilts her head. "You don't remember me, then, do you?"

"Did I have a lot of health problems then?" Brayden arhces an eyebrow. He peers at Helen's notion of getting them, but politically (oh the irony!) he responds, "Well, I'm doing what I can. I spoke to a doctor, and it's just triggering things. Seeing articles about myself may help. Connecting with my family may help, and returning to New York itself may help." He nods at the notion of doing a double interview. "I can do two interviews. I need your help learning how to handle the interviewers though and how to respond to questions. I don't remember how to do those things." He offers Helen the warmest smile he can muster as he honestly shakes his head, "No, I don't remember you. I'm sorry. I don't even remember my own family."

"I'll be right there with you, Senator." Helen's not about to leave Nathan to a closed door interview so early in the game. It could lead to the beginning of the end. "Meeting with your family won't be hard, as they're here in New York. The more you immerse yourself in it, I think the easier it will be. I can only help you professionally, Nathan, you're going to have to work on the personal." Even with the warm smile, the one that Helen returns him is a little sadder. "There's nothing to be sorry for. It's alright. Your campaign was the first I worked on professionally not as an intern. I enjoyed those days." It's the first she's been truly personal with him since rejoining his team. "You'll remember eventually." She hopes.

"Good," Brayden manages. "I couldn't handle it without you," he admits with an easy smile. "They'd eat me for breakfast." He crosses his arms over his chest and furrows his eyebrows, "I'm sure I'll remember eventually. Things are feeling more familiar. Kind of like having deja vu. And I'm glad I've worked with you before, even if I can't remember." Like his mother. Oh, right. "Helen, could you do me a personal favour? I need a room booked in this hotel under the name of Alice Shaw." He doesn't explain further. "Put it on my tab."

"You'll have to manage most of it without me. We don't want anyone to think that you're not the one running this come back." And while most people will definitely know that Helen is helping, she doesn't want the story to be that he needs help from his publicist for everything. Even if that may be the truth. Scribbling the name down of Alice Shaw, she nods, not asking questions about who Alice Shaw is and why she needs a room in the same hotel. It's best not to ask. "Done." She'll do it as soon as she leaves. "I want you to be aware of my past, as well, Nathan. I'm not sure if you know, considering everything, and you may get questions on it. I don't want you to be blindsided, but I wanted to let you know that there was an indiscrection on my last campaign with Callum Harris involving campaign funds. The public thinks I mismanaged them without consulting Senator Harris." She doesn't say that she did it, however.

"I can handle questions, I just need coaching beforehand. And I need you to be straight with me. Tell what I absolutely cannot say to the press," Brayden says in earnest. He listens intently as she tells him about the indiscretion. There's a moment's pause before, "Were the funds ever recovered?" Not that it's terribly relevant to Nathan. "Will they ask me about your past? If they do how should I respond?"

"I know. That's why I'm trying to prep you as much as possible." Helen runs a nervous hand through her hair. She doesn't like to talk about what happened after Harris' campaign, but Nathan deserves the truth as he's essentially giving her a second chance. "We'll need to have these meetings possibly every night to make sure you've got the crash course." She's stalled as much as she can, but now she finishes what she started to warn about it. "No, they weren't. I don't even know where it went. They may ask you about it, as I'm about to be very visible in your return. If you'd like, I can step down or take a less visible position. Respond however you'd like. I'd go with the truth. That you know about my past and have taken it into account."

Brayden hmmms, shifting in his seat considering the possibilities. After several seconds, he comes to a conclusion in his own mind. His lips twitch into a smile, "Helen, I need you to be my right hand woman now more than ever. I know you're brilliant, that much can be said from your resume. Scandal or not you're my right hand man —er, woman." He smirks. "And if they ask I'll be honest, if the public is going to give me a second chance, I need to do the same for my staff." He shifts in his seat again as he stares towards the window. It's raining outside. It feels like it's been raining forever, "I think we make the next campaign about hope. Second chances. New beginnings. While I was living in the monastery I couldn't ignore the news. I watched what our government was putting out… the current administration is instilling fear in the public. But how can we thrive as a nation on fear?" He swallows and furrows his eyebrows. Of course, this is in light of the conversation with his mother. "The public needs something to believe in again. Fear won't do it." Yes, he's starting to think about another campaign. He's starting to embrace who he is… or at least, who Nathan was.

That certainly starts to sound like the Nathan she remembers from the last campaign. Helen smiles as she listens to him talk and nods her head. "That sounds lovely, Nathan." It's too bad that no one was around to hear that speech in particular. Jotting down more notes, she underlines 'hope'. It sounds just like what the people need. "I might leave out the part about the monastery. People get a little touchy about religion. "And, thank you. For trusting me enough to give me a second chance."

"Good, I'm glad you like it. I've just been reflecting on everything going on and we need to be really open about our government and it's practices. I want more checks and balances. Government agencies need to divulge how they're treating people, especially given the sweeping nature of the patriot act. Our office will keep everything above board. And I mean everything. If there's a scandal we're the ones to expose it," Brayden stands to his feet, he's feeling rather impassioned now, "I want us openly cooperating with the press. Myself included." He nods at her a bit, "I believe we can make this nation what it needs to become."

"I would agree to that. But, first," Helen raises a finger, as if a librarian about to make a point. "You have to remember everything that you've done. Plus, we don't want to just be the people that tell everyone what all is wrong with everything. If we're going to be about hope, we have to spotlight the good things that are going on as well." There's a bit of a smile. "And hopefully there will be no scandals to expose."

"That's good," Brayden points at her. He raises his pointer-finger to his lips and nods a bit as he paces about the room, "Yes… The good things. And we have to get involved in good things. I want us to have us involved in projects that spread hope. If there's something positive going on in our country, we need to highlight it. And no, I don't think we finger point either. Blame is just going to hurt us. It's about rising above those tactics and politicking in a different way." He runs his hand through his head, "This is good stuff, Helen. Are you writing it down?"

"I'll take a look into some charities you can join and projects that you can get in on." Helen is already scribbling down ideas and shorthanded notes about their conversation. "Yes. Agreed." At the question, she just looks up from her notepad and raises an eyebrow at him. The question doesn't deserve a verbal answer. It doesn't need one. "We're going to have to start working on a speech that ends all speeches. We'll ramp up to it with the interviews, with you joining charities, and then, once you're most comfortable with yourself, we'll give the speech."

"That sounds good," Brayden nods. He may not remember all of Nathan's memories, but he's still Nathan Petrelli. "I'd like to work with kids if I can or work at building a house —not sure if I used to be able to wield a hammer, but I can now." He offers her a large toothy grin. "Okay, well I know you can write something phenomenal." He nods a bit more to himself than Helen, his mother would be so proud. "We can do this. I know we can."

"Yes. We can." Helen is firm on this, too. Now that it seems like the planning stage is over, she closes her notebook and slips it into her no-nonsense briefcase. "There's Habitat for Humanity. We can work something out for you to help with. I…don't remember Nathan ever building anything, but you've been gone awhile. It's possible for you to have picked up any number of things." She smoothes her skirt down and glances up at Nathan. "I think that may be all for the evening. Unless you had any other questions?"

"Habitat for Humanity sounds good. I would more than happy to work with them." He grins as he nods at her, "No, I believe that'll be all Helen," Brayden offers her a charming half-smile. Yes, the politico has returned. "Thank you. For believing in me enough to join this madness once again."

"Thank you, Senator." It's a general thank you for his time. He is, after all, her boss. Then, Helen stands and picks up her briefcase. She looks a little embarrassed as she gives a much more heartfelt thank you, her eyes turning a little glassy with unshed tears. "And, honestly, thank you. For giving me this chance. I didn't think I'd ever be in politics again." She doesn't mind the madness. It's really what she lives for. "I just wanted to get a chance to say that. Sincerely."

"You're more than welcome, Helen. I know what you're capable of." Brayden offers her a warm smile. He walks her to the door and crosses his arms over his chest as he says idly, "The government needs to be better. People deserve better. We can be better. We will be better."

"I agree." Helen blinks a few times, to clear those unshed tears and walks to the door with him. Once there, she turns for a moment, pauses and then adds something else, another piece of advice. "Also. I know you haven't been lately. But, I'd start thinking of yourself as Nathan. Really as Nathan and not just someone trying to be Nathan. You are him, you've just got to remember it." That said, she takes a deep breath and turns toward the hallway. "Goodnight. Nathan." It's a deliberate choice of words.

"I'll work at it," Brayden blinks with a small smile. He is Nathan Petrelli. Former Senator. Former Congressman-elect. Former District Attorney. Nathan Petrelli. "Goodnight, Helen." And as she disappears into the hallway, he closes the door, still trying to embrace his true self.

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