2007-09-20: What Would Ian Malcolm Do?


Heidi_icon.gif Nathan_icon.gif

Summary: In the conservative region far from the chaotic edge, individual elements coalesce slowly, showing no clear pattern.

- Ian Malcolm

Date It Happened: September 20th, 2007

What Would Ian Malcolm Do?

NYC - Hyde Park - The Petrelli Estate

Julius sits patiently at the bottom of the stairs, his head just slightly tilted to one side as he looks upward. Every once in awhile, one paw will stray onto the bottom step, but he withdraws this with a whine - Heidi said stay, and Julius listens to her better than he listens to almost everyone else in the house. He's trying, dammit.

Eventually, Heidi appears and makes her way down the stairs again, giving the dog a pat and telling him, "Good boy," which is his cue to rocket up the stairs so he can play with his boys. They came home wet from the rain, so Heidi had them change their clothese right away! And also situated them with a snack so that they'd stay quiet for at least a little while. Cookies and carrots - a weird combination, but they're Petrelli kids. That makes them weird by birth.

Heading to the kitchen, she pours herself a glass of orange juice and sits down at the table, rubbing the back of her neck as she observes the wet foot prints on the kitchen floor. Sigh. Well, the house was clean, but at least the foot prints aren't muddy. Water dries, right?


At the very least, Nathan managed to keep them out of mud. Puddles, however, were fair game. At least he didn't jump in any— okay that's a lie. He jumped in one, after a lot of urging from his two sons, so that is why a nice pair of slacks have water halfway up his shins, and one pair of ruined leather shoes have been trashed. Probably worth it.

Nathan walks down the stairs sometime after Heidi, dressed in a more casual pair of jeans, now, and a sweater, and as if instinctively knowing where she is, he moves towards the kitchen. Or maybe he just wants to fix himself a coffee. Upon seeing that Heidi is there, though, he nods to her, moving around to stand behind her, hands coming down onto her shoulders in sort of a gentle, almost massaging squeeze. From that angle, he can then see the watery footprints. "I was going to get that cleaned up," he lies.


Leaning into his touch, Heidi smiles. "Really? Paper towels are over the sink," she says, though she's not going to enforce this, since - as she concluded before - it's just water. She's more worried about making sure there's no mud on the carpets, really, but even if there is, that's why they have hired help, right? Heidi used to do all this herself, before she got married. Call it instinct or whatever, but she's sorely tempted to run a carpet cleaner over every room in the house sometimes.

"You guys have fun?" she asks next, finally reaching for her juice. By the way they were all soaked when they got home, she's guessing the answer is probably yes, because boys will be boys - especially when it makes a mess in some way or another. "How much homework do they have tonight?" is the next question, because Heidi has to know what time she should make them start doing it. Really, if she was a stricter mother, she'd make them do it right when they got home, but she lets them play for a little while, first.


Paper towels? Paper towels. Nathan considers this for a moment and then decides to give Heidi a massage instead, hands subtly working along her shoulders, towards the base of her neck. Bribery for not cleaning. "Monty's got more of those math sheets he has to finish," he says. "Simon says he's done everything already, ever, but you might wanna look into that." But no paper mache volcanos, so that's a plus. Good old fashioned addition and subtraction. Nathan's hands smooth down her arms, contemplatively. "You got plans for tonight?"


Between paper towels and a massage, Heidi will choose a massage every time. Tired muscles relax, even if Nathan isn't a professional… Heidi hardly has a stressful life, but, hey. She worries, because her husband can fly, his brother is like Jesus, only without the ability to turn water into wine, and her kids might be the next Batmen, if they have their way. Which means she gets to thinking, which means she has to dye her hair more often because she's going grey.

"Ah, math," she says. Numbers are scarier to children than the monster under the bed. Hopefully there aren't more story problems… Those always seem to make no sense at all to either of the kids, which prompts a storm or 'But why are the trains on the same tracks in the first place' - usually from Monty, because he's perceptive enough to realise that that would be stupid. Simon's answer to homework is to write down answers that LOOK right, but aren't, but Heidi's onto that little game.

"I was thinking I'd sit around and reading after the kids go to bed," Heidi replies. "You have anything you need to do?"


"No. I guess quiet nights in are bound to happen sometimes," Nathan answers, lightly, then places a kiss onto the top of her head before moving to join her at the table, chair briefly scraping against the floor before he's settled, reaching to tangle one of her hands with his. In the next few moments, he could say pretty much anything small-talk-like. Like, so what are you reading? Or, maybe we can watch a movie if there's anything worth watching. Or, there's a fundraiser next week that we should probably go to.

Instead, what comes out is, "You'd still love me if I chose to not be a Senator, right?" about as easily as any of the above statements could have come.


Quiet night… If the kids will let them have a quiet night. The best laid plans, as they say… The intention is there, though, so if nothing comes up, they can all just relax.

Indeed, Heidi could make the same kind of small talk— How was your day, what do you have planned for next week, do you want to go out for dinner some time? Before she can ask any of that, though, he's sitting down next to her and offering a question of his own.

The expression she offers him is severe, confused, eyebrows lowered as she scowls. The inquiry came out of nowhere. Taking his hand, Heidi says, "Think about why I married you, then ask that question again." In other words, of course she would. She didn't fall in love with him because he had goals of becoming a Senator. The key word is 'chose,' though. Nathan isn't asking in case he loses the election. "What's wrong?"


Of course he knows the answer, and he gives Heidi a twist of a smile at her response. Then, Nathan steals a sip of juice, placing the glass back where he got it before continuing. "Nothing's wrong," he tells her, thumb brushing over the backs of her fingers in what he hopes is a small getsure of reassurance. "But Peter's trip to the future got me thinking." There's a thud of footsteps, and he pauses, listening. No, that comes from upstairs, so Nathan speaks up again - if a little quieter, just in case. "I know you don't particularly want to know about it, but if I'm going to make some decisions based on it, you deserve to."


Ah, the future. Heidi's actually given him permission - by not asking - not to tell her a thing about it, so it's a strange sort of twist that he's offering the information. She's tempted to say that she still doesn't want to hear it, even if she's very curious about what Peter saw there… All she knows now is that it wasn't good. The look she gives him does suggest that she's about to tell him as much, but instead, she nods.

There's just so much that could go wrong with this. A self-fulfilling prophesy - you say something happens, and it will. At the same time, hearing what happened can help you take steps to prevent bad things from coming to pass. Plus, the more she thinks about it, the more she realises that she can help Nathan, too, if she needs to. Her kids, her brother-in-law, all the people she cares about. "What did Peter see?"


That logic, of the self-fulfilling prophecy - Nathan believes it. That seeing only will help create it - re: the vision of a potential divorce that Mara got the first time they really met. Had she never saw such a thing, doubtful it would have come to be, doubtful that a lack of this intimate detail wouldn't have affected their behaviour towards each other. It's why Nathan was so annoyed with Peter for going into the future, but what's done is done. He can't help but act on it, now. If you see that you're driving towards the edge of a cliff, you don't keep going.

"If everything we don't want to come to be does come to be, I'll be President within two years from now," Nathan states, plainly, watching her the whole while and keeping their hands joined together. "There's a— kind of a war. A lot of people die, and I get elected. Problem is, I don't make things better. I make it worse."


There's a lot of ifs, though. Just look at history, and all the random things that happened to cause victory, defeat, prosperity, poverty. An accident in Russia changed the way people looked at nuclear power. The very act of electing Abraham Lincoln to the presidency effectively saved a nation. Would these things have happened otherwise? Who knows. It's just like knowing the future won't necessarily mean they can stop such a future from happening. Life finds a way, as Ian Malcolm said in her children's favourite movie. However, not knowing it at all means they're pretty much doomed.

It's not the greatest situation. Heidi's already thought about it, despite knowing little about it.

Becoming president is a lot of what Nathan's been striving for, and Heidi can't see how this could be bad. She's not perfectly selfless - something in her heart can't help but want that, because it's an incredible accomplishment for him. There's a little bit of a smile, but it's brief. "I don't think the entire— " she starts, but shakes her head, changing her mind. She'll let him tell the story here. "Who was the war with?" Expecting a country, of course. Iraq, Afghanistan. Maybe even Russia.


Even Nathan will admit that knowing is causing change already. Now they, for instance, will know why if Nathan suddenly starts kicking puppies, for example, and can make moves to sort that out. All the same… it just can't be that simple.

Nathan pauses, debating as to whether or not he should tell her this part. Ultimately, he decides he has to. "It was a war between humans with abilities, and those without," he says. "Took— or will take place right here in New York. Someone with, I guess, a tremendous amount of power wrecks the city, and when the truth comes out, it doesn't come out peacefully. Peter— we're all aiming to make sure that never happens." So him maybe being President should all be okay! Except his expression communicates otherwise, brow furrowed.


It's still a 'wow' moment, and it's hard not to be overcome by the fact that a wanna-be Senator knows that if nothing is done to stop it, he will become President of one of the most powerful countries in the world. There's something he's not saying here, but… She'll return to that in a minute. Namely, why he would give that up.

As as a person with no abilities, and having found out about them under stress, she knows how others like her can have a bad reaction to it. She was scared when Nathan flew, and startled when Peter healed her. It's almost commonplace now. But where one person can come to accept oddities, a mob of people feed each others' fear. And so… A lot of people apparently die.

Her eyes close, and she presses her lips together. "You know I'd never hurt you just because you can…" Pausing, she listens for the boys. "…Fly, Nathan." At least they have their peace there. Right? "But if you had a position of— If you were the president, you could do something, couldn't you?" There's the question. What was preventing him from making peace?


"I could," Nathan agrees, now studying the pattern of the table they're sitting at. In the background, a dog barks from somewhere upstairs, perhaps after victoriously eating Simon's homework, and outside, it's stopped raining. "And as far as I can tell, I do. What happens is a sort of… segregation, between— they call them 'Evolved'. Evolved and humans."

He can't actually bringing himself to say the word 'camps' - it's too evocative, too dire. Not yet, anyway. If she needs to have the point brought home, he will, but for now, Nathan can stand to live without allusions to Nazi Germany.

"Something happens to me along the way, Heidi, I think during the war. I don't— entirely get it. But it's like a…" He rolls his eyes a little, because he can't think of another way to say the following, "A split personality. I change into— sort of someone else. He even has a different name, but he pretends to be me. Gets elected. Makes a bad situation worse for the whole country." Now he looks at her, to see how she's handling this, wariness written all over his usually stoic features.


"Evolved. Like, monkeys evolved into humans, so humans are superior kind of evolved?" she ask, arching her eyebrows. That kind of hits home, considering that Heidi didn't think she was good enough for Nathan for a long time because she didn't have an ability. She wouldn't call him 'evolved,' though. She'd just call him an ass, and asses are below humans on the evolutionary scale.

Besides, she reads the Bible, she believes in God, and so Heidi doesn't believe in evolution anyway. So there.

What can you say when your husband tells you that somewhere along the line, he's going to develop a split personality? It's like those shows where they film one personality, then the other, and you have to wonder if the person is faking it. She opens her mouth to say something, but the look on Nathan's face quells whatever it was. She reaches up to touch his cheek, looking into his eyes.

She wants to believe she knows him, and before she found out about his secrets, Heidi was sure she did know him. Sometimes now, though, she's not so sure. Trust has been hard-won for Nathan for a second time, though - he's trying. How would she be able to tell, though? Maybe that's what she's looking for.

"Yeah, but… You…" Her hand remains on his face for another few seconds, then it drops to his shoulder. "So you want to give up your dreams because you're afraid you're going to ruin everything?" It's gentle, though. Her tone is calm, voice quiet. It's a selfless choice he could make, but it's almost the easy way out. "Why not find out that something that happened to you along the way, and stop that instead?"


It's the easy way out, but at least it's a guarantee. But dropping out now would be humiliating, to a degree, would dash a lot of lifelong ambitions to the ground, would close off doors. There are only so many second chances and Nathan is lucky to even have this one. It'd be a hard thing to let go of. Almost as hard as turning his back on his title of congressman and flying into the sky one very important night, except he's not even sure if this would be enough to save the world this time.

"Well whether or not I turn out to be President, I don't want this to happen to me," Nathan says, with a slight shrug, though not to dislodge the hand Heidi's placed on his shoulder. His own hand reaches back to cover it briefly, before letting go and clasping his own hands together on the table. "And I've talked to people who know about this kind of thing. The concern is that if it's not one thing triggering it, it's another. So I'm thinking if it's always potentially gonna be there, is it even fair that I should risk it?" He raises an eyebrow at her, inquiring as to her opinion, as he reaches out to steal more of her juice.


Humiliating, and the second time he will have run for a position only to not be able to take said position in the end. A split personality is almost too hard to believe, really. She's seen no sign of it yet, even if things have gone wrong, they haven't gone that wrong. Heidi has some reading to do - perhaps that's what she'll do tonight. Get on the internet and look up books about multiple personalities. Just so Nathan doesn't have any surprises, though, she says, "I'm going to research this. If I can help you, I will. I don't want it to happen either, okay? This is important - if you start noticing anything, please tell me. The more people who know, the easier it'll be for us to do something about it." And by 'more people,' she means family, of course.

Heidi stands, heading to the cupboard to get herself another glass, now that Nathan's claimed hers. "It hasn't happened yet. You have a habit of keeping things to yourself." She pours more orange juice, then sits back down. "And that's okay, you want to protect yourself. I want you… To do what you think you have to do, but I'm here if you need me, okay?"

There's a dampness in her eyes, like she's trying not to cry. Heidi reads, she's got a degree, she knows that mental illnesses exist, and they're always hard on friends and family. She's trying not to upset him, but it's hard not to worry. The potential is there for it to happen, if, indeed, she's to believe that Peter spent time in the future - and she does. "I can help."


Nightmares that have faded since the past couple of months, mirages in a mirror that faded even before that - these are not signs Nathan had ever taken to mean anything more than a past trauma that's been and gone. And maybe that's all it is. Maybe it really does take a war, then consequent death of a son, maybe even a daughter, to create the split, and if all goes according to plan, that will never happen. But like Ramon had said: If one tragedy can cause something like that, another can.

All the same, some sort of tension untwists inside him, when Heidi states that she'll be here, that she'll help. Of course, intellectually, Nathan gives her more credit than doubting that, but it's not like it wouldn't be hard on her - maybe even dangerous, if the impressions he's gleaned from Peter's debriefing indicate anything. If the nightmares and gut feeling Nathan has towards this potential personality has anything to indicate too.

With those thoughts in mind, Nathan leans in to kiss her cheek, because he can, enjoying the very brief and gentle contact, her hair brushing against his face before he pulls away, a hand seeking hers again. "You're free to research it. I get the feeling you might not find much. Seems like this particular brand is specific to people with abilities." And yes, he will take seven syllables over the shorter word 'Evolved', thanks. "I know a woman who has it. I'm— going to be talking to her tomorrow," he says, faltering because, well, mentioning Niki in any context to Heidi is a little bit awkward, in his mind, but otherwise, the information is delivered smoothly. "Then I guess I'll figure out my next move."

A pause. Then Nathan adds, "I'm still down in the polls, so maybe it won't even matter." He could always gracefully lose. That'd solve a few problems.


She'll still worry. He told her, which is good, but she'll still worry, and that means more grey hair than she needs, or something. On one hand, if something's going to happen to cause this split personality no matter what, why shouldn't Nathan try his best? Why shouldn't he put his all into this campaign? But it also might be exactly why it happens. And if he's not in that position of power, certainly he can't — "What happened?" she asks. "In the … future." It's hard for her to say that so casually, because it still seems like a movie script. She should really be asking Peter this question, since he was there. If Nathan's worried, though, he must know, and he's told her a little bit already.

But yes, she'll be here. She stayed with him after the affair, and that was something he could have prevented actively. Mental illness is another category all together. You can't just walk away from it, or decide never to have it in the first place. "Well, I'll know something, at least," she says. "And if it helps me see the signs… I care about you, Nathan. If I can help, I want to have some idea what I'm doing." In other words, better than nothing.

Sighing, Heidi withdraws her hands so she can take a sip of her juice, before Nathan commandeers that glass, too. "If you could have whatever outcome you wanted, what would it be?"


"I want to win," Nathan states, without hesitation. It'd be pretty strange to begin this campaign and devote so much of his life to it if he didn't achieve what he'd set out to do. By the same token, "I just don't want to put myself in a situation where I can gain so much power when I'm not… sane?" He has a good talent for flippantly saying things that dire as if they're a minor inconvenience, and this is one of those moments, frowning into his stolen glass of juice and taking another sip.

The question of the future, though… Nathan glances at her, pausing to study her for a moment, before asking, "In what context? As far as I can determine, a lot of stuff happens."


"All right, well… Look, we own a house that could burn down any day. Does that mean we should sell it now and live in a box because it might happen? Every time we get in a car to drive somewhere we could get into an accident, but we still drive. We had two beautiful boys knowing that raising kids could be hard, even heartbreaking, and you know that in the future, there's a good possibility that you…" Will go crazy, develop a second personality, and DESTROY THE WORLD!!! "But you're already taking steps to make sure that doesn't happen. What if losing this election is what triggers it, Nathan? Everything doesn't rely on fate. Nothing's pre-determined. Peter and I talked about that once. Either it'll happen or it won't, but hiding in a corner is going to make you miserable."

Everyone in the universe could spontaniously turn into a bowl of tapioca pudding, for it is an exciting cosmos.

But the future she's talking about is directly related to him. Heidi wants to know - or rather, she doesn't, but she's too curious now. "What might have happened to make this other… personality appear?" she asks. "What happened to you? To me? Did Peter tell you anymore?"


"If losing the election triggers it, the world can still move on," Nathan points out. "I get what you're saying, but there's a lot at stake." Besides, he doubts that even someone as driven by ambition as he would find a loss that mindbreakingly devestating, but he hesitates to point this out. She's already asking too much as it is, as there are just things he's not going to tell her. If he has to lie, he will. So, he says, "Peter didn't say what it was, specifically, I don't think he was able to find out."

Hopefully that's skimmed by enough, because he goes to add, "You're right. Hiding would make me miserable. If you believe that I can in good conscience try my hardest at this, even knowing what could happen, then…" Well he won't just say 'yes ma'am'. He still needs to meet Niki and do some thinking, but he wants someone, whom he knows has a good heart, to confirm this.


Since she wasn't there and Nathan wasn't there, she can easily accept the fact that he probably doesn't know what triggered it, only that it happened. Peter's trustworthy - if it was something important, he'd probably say. Again, Naive Heidi is Naive, but she doesn't need to know everything, and — considering that knowing about Monty would hurt, it's probably better that she doesn't.

If losing could trigger it, then winning could, as well. Maybe the power goes to his head, maybe that's the whole reason. She looks at him for a long time before answering. "I want you. And I think you should do whatever you think you have to to prevent me from losing you." She smiles here… It's a sort of selfish request, but it's true. Heidi cares about what Nathan wants, but she won't be devastated if he pulls out of the election, and she won't be upset if he wins. But losing him would hurt her and the kids, so that can't happen.

So… it's the long way of saying 'do what you think is right.' What's the best outcome? No one knows. Well, maybe Peter knows, but since he's already taking steps to change the past he saw… He really doesn't. The puzzle pieces don't fit together the same way anymore.


That's pretty much how the conclusion of anyone who has approached him, whom he's approached. Do what he thinks is right. Unfortunately, Nathan has never really lived his life by this credo - he does what he does in a way that would best benefit himself, although the last year has severely shaken this attitude. At least he has practice, this time.

"I'm working on it," Nathan agrees gently, reaching a hand out to touch her cheek before moving to kiss her. There's another bark and thump from upstairs just as he does this, as if the house is reminding them both of the present rather than the future.


In a situation like this, it's all he can do. No one can tell Nathan the right outcome, the right steps to take to prevent himself from having something horrible happen to him, but he's already done something right. Unfortunately, Heidi might now bug him about it now and then - are you feeling all right, have you strangled any kittens today, did you leave the toilet seat up? - but she cares, and she'll continue caring.

As he tries to kiss her, she turns just a little, toward the stairs, where there's that thump from above. Ah, interruption! Even so, Heidi turns her attention back to Nathan so she can brush his lips with hers before attending to whatever disaster has come about. "We'd better make sure nothing is broken up there. Including the kids," she says. "Everything'll be fine, Poohbear. We've always found a way before."


With a nickname like that, how could he ever possibly turn into an evil dictator? Nathan nods once with a half-smile, moving to stand up and go with. But then there's another loud thump, and suddenly:


"…go," Nathan says, lightly pushing her towards the door. "I'll, uh. Where did you say those paper towels were— here they are." Because he'll take cleaning watery footsteps up over that kind of drama any day.

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