Hell In Here


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Scene Title Hell In Here
Synopsis Peter and Nathan talk of the current status of things. No one is particularly happy, but some don't have the luxury to acknowledge it.
Date February 17, 2009

Moab Penitentiary: Red Level

Overhead the Moab facility, the sky is darkening not from a lack of sun, no, the sun has risen high, but a black, staining cloud is leaking inkily into the weather, threatening to send sheets of rain down, down onto the concrete outside. It's dreary weather, but better than none, and as far as Nathan understands it… Peter isn't getting to see it at all.

The hallways are devoid of natural light and casts sharp fluorescent from lights lining the corners, which seem to suck the life and colour of those currently parading down linoleum floored passages, as if they, too, hadn't seen the light of day in a long time. For Nathan Petrelli, it just accentuates the fact he hasn't had a good night's sleep in a long time, skin pale and dark circles beneath his eyes deeper shadows. It also emphasises the fact he is not particularly happy, the age lines in his face even deeper, grim, as he marches through what they call the Red level of Moab. Steel doors, as if they were trying to contain hell inside, pass by in a rush as he keeps his strides long and brisk, unstoppable, and he only spares them enough of a glance to note the numbers, the letters, that indicate what they aren't. Behind him marches two men dressed in identical black suits, comms devices in their ears and expressions blank.

And from the opposite end of the hallway, another man moves around the corner, looking harried, eyes darting nervously until they land on the approaching President. He's also dressed in a suit, a man of some authority within these walls and he quickly approaches Nathan with his hands up, as if expecting to stop him. "Mr. President," he says. "I came as soon as I could, I didn't expect— we weren't expecting you today— "


Of course, Nathan doesn't stop, barely sidestepping the man as he walks, the other having no choice to follow, trying not to brush against security or President in the narrow hallway. "I apologise, Mr. President, but there seems to be a mistake. Prisoner One is currently on this level because he is considered extremely dangerous and we highly encourage you to talk to him whenever you like when he is not being— "

They stop. But that's only because Nathan's found the door he's looking for, but before he demands clearance, he turns to the man protesting his presence. "Prisoner One, Agent, is my brother. I've been waiting to talk to him, and I'm tired of all the red tape I have to cut through just to do that when I have better things to do with my time." It's not often anyone incurs Nathan Petrelli's wrath, but it's clear he has no patience today, and the Agent visibly backs up a step. "If he is dangerous, then you people aren't doing your jobs correctly. As I understand it, no prisoner here has access to their abilities. What, exactly, is so damn important that I can't see my brother?"

The Agent pauses for a moment, nervous eyes darting towards the stoic security men, and then back to Nathan. "He is currently being interrogated, Mr. President. We would prefer it if you came back another time, we can arrange a more suitable circumstance."

Nathan nods once, steps aside, and points towards cell. "Open the damn door."

"…yes, Mr. President."

Two guards, each presenting identical looking security keys walk to seperate lock terminals on either side of the door. Too far apart for a single person to stand and unlock them at the same time. "On the count of three," one guard says to the other, and their eye-contact is an expressed invitation to begin the countdown. "One…" Behind the door, there is a muffled sound of a scream, something sharp and scraping against the walls, the pained wail of some injured animal — surely — not a man. "Two…" The prison director behind Nathan wrings his hands, pacing back and forth as his eyes flick anxiously up to the door, "Three."

The moment the keys are turned in unison, the doors some shrieking open, sliding into the walls on shiny new metal runners, followed by a pair of reinforced blast doors receeding into the floor and ceiling, their black and yellow trimmed caution lines disappearing into steel-plated concrete.

Beyond this absurd level of security, rests an all too small concrete room with a single steel chair bolted to the floor. Bound into the chair, the young man in the orange jumpsuit and black vest looks nothing like the Peter Petrelli that Nathan recalls last seeing. He's lost almost all of the muscle tone he had gained over th eyears since the bomb, so much thinner now, showing strongly in his cheeks. His face is roughly unshaven, a thin beard and moustache standing dark and sharp in contrast against pale skin that has not seen the sun in months. The dark circles under his eyes, at least, afford a level of familiarity — but not with Peter, with Nathan's own aging reflection.

But Peter isn't alone in this room, he has one man to keep him company. Long and thin in the face, he looks to have comparable facial features to Nathan's brother, dark hair swept up into an irregular hairstyle. His long, calf length black jacket conceals a dark suit and white undershirt, and one bare hand rests on Peter's forehead, sweat beaded around the touch.

"Mister President." Steven Verse, Interrogation Specialist for Homeland Security, telepath. Nathan has seen his dossier before, but there was never any indication he was stationed here, of all places. "I apologize that you had to arrive here at present." He retrieves a black leather glove draped over Peter's bound and unmoving arm restrained to the chair, tugging it on with a creak of the tight material. "He should be fine."

Hooked up to machines that monitor his heartrate and brainwaves, tubes going into his nose, electrodes taped to the sides of his head and neck, this isn't how Nathan imagined Peter would be kept. This isn't how he imagined anything would be.

Nathan doesn't say anything. Not for a good long while. He gaze flicks over Peter for just a moment before giving the other room's occupant a good long studious look, recognising him, filing him away for later reference, before that gaze settles on his brother once more.

Oh… Peter.

His hand comes up to rub his own jaw, a sign of discomfort, stepping further into the small jail cell, now taking a good long look. The medical equipment, the restraints, the unhealthiness. He doesn't touch this man, he doesn't need to feel it to see how likely warm with unhealthiness his skin is, the cold of his sweat, the stretch of skin against bones of malnourishment. His hand smooths down his own tie as Nathan then turns away to look at the prison director, whose chin tips up in some kind of authoritive defiance. "I want every scrap of paper that approved this on my desk, today," Nathan tells him, very quietly, very icily. The other man takes this excuse to leave after a murmured 'yes, sir', disappearing from the doorway. Having not, himself, stepped foot into this cell.

Nathan moves to stand on Peter's other side, and his hand now rests on Peter's forehead in a brotherly gesture, mirroring that of Verse's touch, who is again put under Nathan's scrutiny. "He had better be fine," he says, evenly, without real threat. "What exactly is going on here, Agent Verse?"

Verse looks up from Peter to Nathan, with the expression of thoughtfulness as if he's actually considering whether or not he has to answer to the President. After, carefully, deciding that he does, his gloved hands come to tuck into the loose pockets of his black coat. "This prisoner holds valuable intelligence about a terrorist organization which we are detaining members of. He is resisting my mental probes, which is making it exceptionally hard on him, physically and mentally."

Verse takes a step behind the chair Peter is bound to, and only now on a second inspection does Nathan see stitches in Peter's upper lip, sewing shut a split there, likely from some blunt impact. Bruising along one side of his face that at one point looked like shadow. "His injuries aren't ours. He was originally kept on green level, allowed to freely mingle with the other prisoners, until he started picking fights with some of them. After a savage beating, we had him brought here so I could proceed with further questioning."

Pausing, as if satisfied with his trimmed answer, Verse tips his head to one side, face mostly expressionless save for just a faint crease at his brows as if to silently ask if the answer was acceptable.

The hand on Peter's head shifts a little, so as to tilt Peter's face enough so that Nathan can inspect the injuries. He doesn't betray much for Verse's sake, expression a stoic mask, although anyone who knows him well enough would be able to sense the palpable disapproval. Disgust, even. Unfortunately, those in this room than know him well, are unconscious. When Nathan speaks, it's with a quiet tone of voice.

"I can respect that we've all been given… new tools to work with, these days. Agents and terrorists alike. Men such as yourself, hired for their particular talents, rewrite the rules and conventions when it comes to interrogation." His hand slips from Peter's forehead, fixing Verse with a near blank look. "Sometimes we need to do the unconventional to get what we need to protect this country, Agent. But if I find that we're pushing the law out of shape to harvest that information, starting with my own brother, then there is going to be hell to pay."

A short moment of silence, Nathan standing straighter. "I will tear this place down and start again, if I have to. You can tell that to your superiors after you wake my brother up. I'd like to talk to him in private. After that, I want a detailed report on exactly what's gone on in this room." How could he not know about this, he is the President… He can protect this country, but apparently not his own family. Of course, would he be monologuing like this for any other prisoner, or would he be carefully looking the other way? Circumstance. Guilt. The need to do what you have to to win this war, because it is a war, versus what Nathan knows the law to be. At least, in this case, it's simple.

Verse is a mirror to Nathan's impassive expression, eyes focused on the President for a moment in a too-long lingering, dark brows scrunching tight for just a breath of a moment as if he saw something on Nathan's face that was wrong. Then, relaxing, he merely motions towards Peter, murmuring, "You're going to come back now, Mister Petrelli. On the count of three, you will take up and have no recollection of the events that have transpired here…"

Verse's voice is monotone and emotionless, as if he were some sort of machine, "One…" Just like when the guards were unlocking the doors, "Two…" It always comes down to that number, doesn't it? "Three." On the count of three, Peter's eyes blearily flutter open, as if on command. He breathes unevenly, a sore noise of discomfort escaping his lips as his eyes slowly fall shut again, but he's awake now.

"Nathan…" It has a lot less of a bite to it than the name did the last time he spoke it to his brother. Verse looks down to Peter, then up to Nathan, head tilting to the side again as if once more to wordlessly ask the question of if his performance has been satisfactory or not.

Nathan knows better than to request Peter to be unhooked from his restraints, from the negation drugs flowing through wires, even the things attached to his brother's body that monitor his vitals. Both because he doesn't want to give the impression of someone tampering with procedure, giving them all more reason to wrap red tape around this place, and nor does he want to get his hands dirty. He's already risked enough by barging inside, and he knows not to push his luck.

His gaze flickers to Peter when the younger man says his name, a flash of— something brotherly like guilt or sympathy before masking it once more, gaze down to the floor, back up to Verse. A pause, and he tilts his head towards the door, eyebrows raising. "Well? Hop to it, Agent, I'm sure you have a lot of writing to do," he says. "And send someone to bring me a chair, would you? Thanks."

Verse's eyes settle on Peter for a moment, then Nathan, and his head tilts to the side again with a crease to his brow, "Yes, Mister President." Hard-soled shoes click against the tile floor on his way out, the last sight of Agent Verse being the flourish of his coat's tails disappearing out of the doorway. Once he's gone, Peter breathes a bit more fully, exhaling a slow and heavy breath as his eyes open, looking intently at his brother.

"Nathan… what — " He swallows, dryly, nose wrinkling for a moment from th pressure of the tubes going into them. His hands struggle against his restraints, as if having forgotten them for a moment. "How do I know you're really you?" Paranoia, in no small part thanks to Agent Verse's unique method of interrogation. His ability to get inside of people's head, to make them see whatever it is he wants them to is terrifying.

"I'd say you could ask me something only I know, but I'm gonna go ahead and guess that won't mean a hell of a lot," Nathan says. A moment later, a prison guard enters with a metal chair, nervously and gladly clearing the room once the furniture is delivered, and finally, the President and the terrorist are allowed a moment's privacy. Sharp light from the hallway outside continues to beat back the shadows of the cell, and there's a sharper scrape as Nathan settles the chair right next to Peter's, facing him while remaining at his side.

Nathan settles his elbows against his knees, back curled. His red tie has fallen out of his jacket, expensive scarlet dangling from his throat as he studies Peter. The visible sympathy is gone. Such a rift between the two, one that will likely never be repaired, enables some detachment. This is, after all, the reality of the situation. He never asked Peter to be a terrorist, for Christ's sake. "I'm sorry it's taken me this long to get here," he says. "It's been hell out there."

Peter's eyes close, a strained breath pushed out from his nose. "Why did they call you Mister President?" One detatched tone for another, and a question lobbed to Nathan that has no true easy answer. It's indicative of just how out of touch Peter is with reality from the time of his imprisonment. "Allen Rickham is the President, I — " His brow tenses, "I think." He's been broken down, even his resistance to Nathan's presence — what little it is — seems to have had all of the fire smothered from it.

Gone is the young man who stormed into Nathan's residence and nearly killed him, gone is the man who would fight for what he believed in. Now, in some small semblance of irony, he and his brother are so much alike. Men who have given up the will to fight, and have resigned themselves to their fates.

And it's not becoming of Peter. As harsh of a necessity it is. Nathan breathes out an aborted chuckle, lips pulling into an awkward and mirthless smile for a moment, before he eases back against his seat, not looking at Peter as he fixes his tie. A minute badge of the American flag rests on the lapel of his jacket, a subtle touch, his family ring and wedding ring simply more badges, signs of what makes him up as a person. His career. His family. Symbols of ownership that go both ways. He fixes his jacket. "Rickham resigned," he tells Peter, skimming over the topic in those two simple words. "I was the next suitable candidate. I was elected as President, Pete." And he lets all the implications settle, studying Peter in the gloom.

The look that crosses Peter's face is one of abject hopelessness. His eyes fall shut, head coming to settle against the padded headrest behind him. "Is it everything you hoped it would be?" He asks in a rasping voice, dry not from a parched throat but from the sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach. "Is the hell out there" he takes his brothers own words, "exactly what Mom told you it would be?"

Turning his head to the side, Peter looks at his brother now with the same contempt he has in the past, the same distrust and bitterness that has been the wedge driving them apart ever since this whole insane string of events started unraveling. "When was the last time you slept?" Hiro's words, not Peters, but in this instance they have the same tired bite they did over a year ago when they were spoken to him.

In a way, none of bitterness Peter can possibly hurl this way is any worse than the bitterness Nathan's already hurled at himself. Unfortunately, this means he can deflect a little easier, justify it. "It's a little different," he admits, flatly. "And it's getting there."

His voice is still quiet, almost soothing. And he has the audacity to raise a hand, to shift some of Peter's sweat drenched hair out of his eyes, off his forehead, Nathan's own eyes hooded a little as he makes this gesture, hand coming to rest on Peter's arm. "Tell me something," he murmurs, glancing a little about the room for sign of visible recording material - both for future reference, and to watch his own words now, "how's fighting the good fight working out for you, Peter? Do you stop to understand the damage you and your apparent organisation are doing to this country?" All still said quietly, gently.

"Let me help you, Peter. I want to help you."

"I don't have an organization." Peter mutters, giving his head a shake, "I'm the one who told your people how to find PARIAH, I sold them all out, and they were gunned down to the last man — I don't even know if Claire is alive." He lets that name take whatever fire it can with it, whatever he's got left. "I confessed, to what I did, to who I am… and your people swept it under the rug. Just like us, just like me." He lets his head thump softly against the padding behind it.

"They want me to cooperate again, turn in more people, help them shoot more of my friends, or lock them up here against their will." Dark eyes focus on Nathan, eyes narrowed, "How's the end result of the good fight look from your perspective." He may not have a high horse, but at least it's a high chair. Slowly, Peter lets his eyes close, head drifting to one side again.

"How," he asks in a hushed voice, "could you possibly help me?"

"My people are doing what they can to make this country safe," Nathan says, evenly. If there's one thing he can defend, it's the covering up of Peter's admission. "To make things make sense. You want to make me look like a liar for the sake of your guilt— can't say I'm surprised but it's going to help exactly no one. Sylar is still a threat, Peter. He's a good a villain as any."

The hand on Peter's arm squeezes, as if to summon his attention, to make him open his eyes. "If you cooperate, they won't dig through your head anymore. They won't storm buildings, kick down doors. We can do our jobs cleanly, efficiently, and no one has to get hurt. They can pay for their crimes just like any other criminal and maybe in the future…" Nathan's head tilts a little, trying to catch Peter's gaze. "We'll decide they've paid enough."

The hand withdraws, clasps with his other. "If there's anyone who can get you out of this box they have you in, Peter, it's me. Cooperate and I can protect you. I can bury them." Even in this day and age, torture is illegal - and he can see enough of it being played out here that he can do something, he's certain of that much. "And then one day maybe I can help your friends too. But you need. To stop. Fighting me."

"I cooperated once." Peter's words are said through clenched teeth, "They promised no one would get hurt, they promised Karl, Erim, Melinda, Claire — that they'd all be okay." The words are venomous, but lacking the vitrol to push them out with the seething force he wants to. "They're all dead now," as far as he knows, "I hardly knew half of them, and now they're dead." Peter turns his head away from his brother's hand, as much as he can, "I'm never going to trust you, Nathan. I'm — I'm never going to just — " His eyes open, peering askance at his brother, head pressed away from him, "If you want to punish the people guilty for all of this…"

Peter's lips draw back into a broken, weak snarl of defiance, "Get in my chair."

Fact. Nathan is better than Peter. He has to be, right? Status, power, money. But for a moment, as Peter hurls his barb, they are simply two brothers as Nathan narrows his eyes in the darkness, feels the brunt of that blow, and he can almost forget the fact that he's the President and Peter is a terrorist strapped to a chair because goddamn is Peter a brat and a half and a pain in his ass.

But the barb runs deeper, conjuring up all those more complicated, conflicting ideas and emotions beneath the surface and they remind him exactly who he is. He looks away, trying to keep his anger bitten back, hands sliding along the lapels of his jacket as if they needed fixing.

Nathan stands up, then, a looming figure over the weakened form of his brother. "Never met a martyr with such an allergy to sacrifice," he says, with a sneer. "For the record…" His features soften a little, and he throws this bone. "Claire's alive. And if you ever want a shot in hell in seeing her again outside of prison walls, you're gonna think long and hard. I'm not gonna leave you down here, Peter, but there's only so much you're letting me do for you." He starts for the door, intending to leave Peter in this room despite his words.

Claire's alive.

Those words ring hollow in Peter's mind, the echo of Nathan's words as he breathes some semblance of a sigh of relief, as much as anything in this place can be a relief. "Claire doesn't want to see me, Nathan. She wants to see me even less than she wants to see you." His lips press together tightly at those words, as if planning to spit the next ones out across the room, "and I'm fine with that. I don't deserve to see her, after what I've done."

He may not have spit them, but the words still have the same texture, "And neither do you."

"You gotta get over seeing the world in terms of what people deserve, Peter," Nathan says as he makes for the doors, shoes echoing against concrete in the same manner of Agent Verse's, briefly framed by the slightly brighter light of the hallway as he glances back at his brother. "Getting what we deserve is for the afterlife, and a luxury - for better or for worse." A deliberate glance around the space, gaze bouncing off the confined walls, the monitor equipment, Peter himself. "Enjoy it." And he disappears around the corner once more, letting out a shaky breath as he goes.

That could have gone better.

February 17th: Godsend Bargain
February 17th: Putting On A Show
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