2008-02-15: Your Particular Pedestal

Starring:

Nathan_icon.gif Jack_icon.gif Logan_icon.gif

Summary: These two men have pushed friendship to its limit and beyond. One of them may fall, and it's a long way down from this particular pedestal.

Date It Happened: February 15th, 2008

Log Title Your Particular Pedestal


Jack and Logan's apartment - NYC

It's hard to try and run the country without going anywhere. Considering the fifty-fifty battlefield territory of his own brain, Logan has opted to steer clear of the only place worth going - Pinehearst - and everything else, as a result, has gone to hell. He can't step into his office with his ribs still aching, his face still bruised like a battered wife— "what, I fell down some stairs" is really only an excuse to be used minimally, and Logan is running out of quota— or anywhere else for that matter. Funny how the general public only give a shit about politicians once their dirty laundry is visible, their facade is cracked.

And now, Pinehearst is going to hell too, and he'd only been neglecting the place for a couple of days, for fuck's sake. Logan is all kinds of angry, but it's pettier than the deep burning resentment his better half carries. "I envy you, Nathan," Logan tells him, sitting in on the edge of his bed and tossing aside his phone after a hectic phonecall that he could really only respond with, 'hold the fort and try to fuck up less'. "It must be nice to have such a freedom of responsibility that you can simply wallow."

It's like rotating doors. Logan's posture relaxes as Nathan eases back into his role, wincing as the old twinges of the beating he'd taken and dealt a few days ago remind him of their presence. "Try it sometime," is his reply. His gaze shifts towards the mirror, and Logan, through the looking glass, shrugs. "You need to stop hiding things from me." Long silence. Nathan's head bows. Looks up again, no patience, no choice. "Where are they?"

"Bedside drawer," Logan supplies, and watches as Nathan gets up and takes out the tightly wrapped, mailed package from the desk drawer. The return address is already torn free, the letter destroyed. All the same to him. Nathan tosses it once in his hands, and makes for the main portion of his— Logan's— apartment.

The apartment reeks. It stinks of fear. Adrenaline. Raw, secreted emotion. Physical pain.

Jack sucks in a deep lungful of the air as he lets himself in, savors its headiness for several seconds, then slowly lets it out. "Honey, I'm home~" he calls out, by now a too-familiar greeting. There's a raspiness in his voice and a hunch in his posture that wasn't present last time he passed through. Though combinations of epinephrine and morphine can blunt the worst of his withdrawl symptoms, they're a poor substitute for the real thing. His aches have caught up to him, no longer masked by the comforting caress of a drug tailored to his genetic structure.

For the first time in recent memory, Jack hurts.

"Do you have a present for daddy?" he asks breathlessly, his one good eye fixed on the parcel in Nathan's hands.

Nathan isn't a pretty picture either, but that doesn't stop his own revulsion from seeing where the physical manifestations of Jack's withdrawal are apparent, coupled only by the injuries he'd been the one to inflict. His expression is a thundery mask, age lines a little deep and grave, mouth still slightly split from the vicious first blow Jack had landed, and bruises casting him in unnatural tones.

He is, however, dressed nicely. Grey slacks, a white shirt with the sleeves rolled to his elbows. No shoes, just socks. He's not going anywhere, but bare feet seem indecent. Wordlessly, Nathan extends his arm out, right out, as if to prevent Jack coming any closer than he has to, eyes cold. Disgust isn't so much visible as it is palpable, even if he's not one to talk.

At least he and Logan can agree on one thing. There is no moral dilemma in feeding this man his drug. Not when Nathan's kids are in the equation, wherever they are.

Jack's injured eye rolls around in the socket, visible as a protruding bulge through the patch of white cotton that's taped over it. The undamaged one is still fixed on the box. He plucks it from Nathan's grip and tears into it with teeth, fingernails, and everything else that he can think of in his rush to get at the prize within.

Rather than the converted pen injectors, rubber-stoppered jars, and crude syringes he'd been forced to use previously, this shipment contains a proper pneumatic injection gun and slim, glass vials that are designed especially for it.

It's a device Jack is familiar with. He wastes no time in prepping a load and dialing in the dosage. With a quiet PFFT of air, a pre-measured portion is dispensed from the vial and into the veins in his forearm. As an afterthought, he presses the gun to the side of his neck and triggers it a second time. Like all addicts, he operates on a rotating cycle of feast and famine. The more you have, the more it takes.

The effects are near-instantaneous. After a brief clenching and shivering of his muscles, he straightens to his full height and blinks through suddenly focused eyes. Better. Much better.

Nathan doesn't watch. He doesn't care to. Whether out of continued disgust or a flicking, burning ember of guilt and shame. His hands and their bruised knuckles tuck into the pockets of his slacks and he wanders away, back turned to his roommate and vacant gaze staring out at the rest of Manhattan. The fact that it's not leveled by nuclear explosion is a testament to why he's even in this position. Some days, it's getting close to believing it wasn't worth it. But then, that would mean Logan's truly won.

At the sound of a second injection, Nathan's head twitches as if to glance over his shoulder, but he refrains. Just comments, "Careful. You'll spoil your dinner." Disdain. Hurt. Old and aching anger. It's not gonna leave his voice any day soon.

Jack's reflection flashes off the window as he approaches Nathan from behind. The business end of the pneumatic injector trails up the small of the older man's back in a familiar, near-intimate fashion, grazing over the bumps of his spine and rasping across cloth.

"What's wrong?" The Irishman hisses, his voice tight and barely restrained. The reflection licks it's lips and snaps playfully at the air next to Nathan's ear. "Jealous?"

Nathan's back curves a little, stiffens, at the touch of the needle, but manages not to physically react anymore than that. Not wanting to betray the fact that he'd sooner jump out of his skin. His jaw clenches as Jack's breath curls warm air against his neck, head twitching away. But he doesn't move away, doesn't take his hands out of his pockets, keeps his eyes trained out the window. "How couldn't I be," he says, wryly, but hurries to add, "Wouldn't want to deprive you of even a bite, would I. Next fix ain't tomorrow, Derex."

Jack knots one hand in the back of Nathan's shirt and shoves him forward until his face is pressed roughly against the window. "I'd cancel that shitty attitude if I were you," he growls. "It's a long fall from your particular pedestal."

Very suddenly, he releases Nathan and takes a step back. There's conflict and confusion in his visible eye. Hesitation. Even regret.

Blink. It's gone. "You did this to us, y'know. You ruined both our lives."

Oof. It doesn't hurt, really. It's rough, but Nathan brings up his hands to catch the brunt of the shove, turning his head so he doesn't break his nose, but the pain isn't there— it's in a dreadful and sick feeling of oh god no not this again, no more bruises and causing them, but then Jack moves away. Nathan doesn't move, for a moment, aside from a shifting back of a couple of inches to rest his forehead against the glass, palms still pressed there as he tries to get his heart rate back down to something normal.

He takes a breath, staining the window temporarily with steam, before turning back to Jack. Calmly, he fixes his shirt.

"Noted." The attitude correction, or the ruining of lives? Maybe both. Nathan's face takes on a curious look, regarding Jack with dark brown eyes. "Who do you think you're talking to?" It's not the indignant, meaningless rhetoric of outrage - it's spoken as an openly honest question.

"Does it matter?" Jack spreads both hands wide in a dramatic, near-religious gesture. His eye is closed as his face is upturned, almost as if he's basking in a sunlight that only he can see. Slowly, he starts to drift his arms and hands about in artistic waves, like a gross imitation of an orchestra conductor. "Where does one of you end and the other begin? We'll find out, I think."

Another beatific smile, then he opens his eye and fixes on Nathan's face. "One way or the other."

He wants to snap. He wants to cut down with words, but with adrenaline and morphine running smooth in Jack's system and Nathan feeling about ten years older these days, he's not going to risk it. He grits his back teeth together, contents himself in a simple glower.

It works for about half a second.

"Little late, don't ya think?" A hand hurriedly raises, showing Jack his palm and finger spread, a sign of surrender, apology. "What do you mean, 'one way or another'?"

The impromptu conducting comes to a halt in favor of a slow, stately dance with an imaginary partner. Positively flying on his high, Jack is as focused on his mimelike pursuits as he is on the conversation. "Not sure yet," he answers absently as he sends his 'partner' into a twirl. "You've hurt me. Broken things in me that I might never get fixed." Rather than bothered, he lists the facts off cheerfully as he sees them. "Now I have to decide what to do with you. To you. Whatever."

This is tiring. Shifting between hate and guilt. Nathan's hand lowers, watching Jack's one-person waltz. Silence, as if to underline the lack of music Jack is dancing with, the lack of a partner, but somehow that probably doesn't matter. Not to Jack. As for Nathan, only thing he can hear is Jack's feet scuffing against carpet in a very, very quiet apartment. But even as Jack dances to silent music, Nathan hears a voice in his head.

You can't fix what doesn't want to be fixed, Nathan, Logan says, from some other vantage point Nathan can't see right now. And besides, why would you want to?

Nathan doesn't answer. The truths are selfish. Redemption. Protection of himself and his family from this man. It's certainly not for Jack's benefit. Not anymore. He glances towards the package he'd so easily passed over, recognising cowardice for what it is. Once more, Nathan tries to dredge up some form of friendship he's known for this man. Save Jack, save himself?

"I can help you fix those things," he says, tone quiet but words steely. "I'll keep getting you the drugs." Dangerous topic so he has to disclaim it with that, play the dealer. The dealer is safe. "But you have to want to get off them too. You don't want to exist like this."

"I think we've come a little too far for such a convenient solution," Jack murmurs reproachfully. His dance comes to an end with an intimate embrace, his 'partner' dipped low and one of his hands pressed tenderly to her 'cheek.' A moment later, he straights abruptly and turns to face Nathan. The cheerful humor that was on his face just seconds ago is gone. "Besides," he continues blandly as he digs out the pneumatic injector and presses it to his neck for a third dose. "I don't have a problem. I can stop anytime I want."

PFFT. The hiss of the gun is a sensual, dangerous thing. It's so easy. No more messy filling of syringes. No more needles. No more deciding if tonight, just once, he'll try to hide a track mark between his toes. The delivery system is too convenient and elegant.

Nathan's gaze shifts from Jack's eye, towards the injector gun. "Alright," he says, a little tonelessly. He hasn't quite given this up, but it seems uselessly to argue with someone flying as high as Jack is. And so it's not out of argument, but dreadful curiousity, that he winds up asking, "What about Trina?" It's a question tossed at Jack, casually, and he moves around the man to head for the kitchen, whether for something to do, something to eat, or maybe he just doesn't want to be in the same room as this man.

The gun almost falls from Jack's grip, but he recovers quickly and tucks it away. "What about her?" he retorts, glancing up at Nathan sharply. "She's safe. For now. Miserable, but that's to be expected." It's as close to clear, honest statement that's he's made tonight. It hurts him, too. The corners of his eyes pinch painfully and his mouth presses into an unhappy line. "I haven't told her anything about you yet."

"Maybe you should. Give her something to hate," Nathan says, flippantly, opening the fridge mostly just to stare into its contents. He hasn't been hungry since he got his body back, but it something to do. It's a moderately stocked fridge. He misses home, all of a sudden, he misses a lot of things. His wife. His kids. Lost one, might lose the others. "Everyone knows couples need things to do together," he continues, as if this emotional, inward hitch had never happened. "Point being, maybe you should be living and spending time with your woman, Jack. Not that I don't like feeling special." Worth a shot.

"Self-pity does not become you," Jack replies. He glances at the fridge, but it's a passing gesture. It's been a long, long time since he's felt like he needed food. He lives on something better now. Something stronger. His one-eyed gaze shifts back to Nathan. "We did this together," he continues. "Like hammer and anvil. It took both of us to get the job done, and neither is more to blame than the other. S'why I haven't killed you."

It's cold. The fridge, that is, but Jack's words too. After a moment, Nathan lets out a quiet snort, and shuts the door, hands running through his hair. "It's also why you're not letting me go," he guesses. No, he's not physically locked in his apartment, and Logan is doing the work in keeping them from the outside world, due to his visible injuries, but he's still tethered. The drug supply. The threats. Nathan casts a flat, hard look at Jack.

Jack turns his back on Nathan deliberately and gazes out the window at the cityscape. "I didn't see a skyscraper for the first time until I was about twenty," he admits after several ominously long seconds. "If I'd have known how beautiful they were, I'd have come to this city sooner. Tall. Steel. Majestic."

He glances over his shoulder, revealing a tight, haunted expression. "I know I'm just as guilty as you are," he finally answers the question. "So if I kill you, I have to kill myself. I'm not ready for that."

"We're guilty," Nathan agrees, a little rawly. He's not really the kind of man to cry over things. Death of family, yes. Self-pity, less so. If there was anything growing up the eldest Petrelli son had taught him, it was that those kinds of tears were wasted, and he'd never had the luxury. So his voice is raw out of weariness, along with its usual gravel. "Guilty of weakness. You gave into the drug. I couldn't keep myself together when it mattered. But we're not the villains here, Jack." Earnestness creeps into his tone, a sort of pleading. Like if Jack could believe that much, maybe he could too. Incidentally, it sounds so wrong to tell this to the murderer of his wife, but he chokes it out anyway.

Jack folds his arms over his chest and fixes Nathan with an unyielding stare. "If not us, then who?" he queries mildly. "We've both done things, man… Things I never thought I'd do. Things I never thought you'd do."

Dismissively, he turns his back and resumes his citygazing. "Someone is to blame for this, and that someone has to pay. Otherwise, this really has all been for nothing."

Nathan casts a glance into the stainless steel surfaces of the kitchen. He sees only himself. That doesn't mean much, but it means something for the next few minutes. "I agree," he says, his voice taking on a sort of smoother note to it. A little desperately so, but he is, and always will be, kind of a politician. Or at least, a lawyer. "I want him to pay, Jack. We can help each other. You can— help me get rid of him. Logan."

"I could just as easily help him get rid of you," Jack replies quietly. It's not a threat, just a simple statement of fact.

Though it's vague and faded, the reflection in the window is the first time he's stopped to look at himself in days. Maybe longer. Unshaven. Scarred. Bandaged in more places than any one man should be. He's falling apart at the seams, and he's doing it quickly.

"I'm so tired, Nathan. I can't remember the last time I slept or the last thing I ate." Jack's eye shifts from his reflection to Nathan's. "There isn't much of me left to help anyone. What the hell are we supposed to do?"

"I guess we— help ourselves for a while," Nathan says. Relenting. Then, suddenly, a rough and subdued chuckle, head ducking for a moment. A memory of a woman on a rooftop. Niki Sanders. But she won't remember, she can't— well. It's a start. God. He has people he needs to talk to, as much as the idea scares the fuck out of him. "God helps those, right? I need to go out." A pause, then he reaches to touch the ripped apart cardboard casing of the drug. "Do you need me to put this somewhere safe for you?" he asks, quietly, searching Jack's scarred reflection in a way that demands honesty, no matter how shameful it may be. Whether he gets it, well.

Jack shakes his head in a quick, brisk negative. "Don't take it," he whispers. He's staring at his own reflection again, and he's not liking what he sees. Not just on the surface, either. "Please. It's all I have left. Just go."

Cowardice had him handing Jack the drugs, and cowardice has him taking his hand away and nodding numbly. "Okay, Jack," Nathan says. Tired. They both are. Quietly, he moves towards the door, taking down a coat that looks like it might be his, pulling it on. He couldn't care less about his career and reputation - let people see a bruised and battered Senator wandering the streets, let them ask questions, let it all come to an end. Keys, cellphone, these things are collected, and the door is opened. "I love you too," he says, a few days too late, before stepping out for the evening.

Now you're just as bad as me, Logan is quick to point out, even before the door shuts.

"We're bound to have things in common," Nathan mutters, before making his brisk way from the apartment door. He wouldn't bother to claim that it's nothing short of running away.

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