The Devil You Become



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Scene Title The Devil You Become
Synopsis Nathalie LeRoux always feared she was a monster. But people choose to become them, and people can choose their own fate.
Date January 12, 2020

"I have that thought sometimes. That I'm a monster."

Nathalie looks down at her feet, watching the snow kick up around her steps and scatter down again. "People have used science to try to understand us here, too. In my time. I have a pretty firm understanding of what I'm capable of on both sides of the coin. No one seems to understand the collection of memories. Why some personas cling harder than others. We're a connection to the past, but tapping into that connection risks losing myself." Not ideal, by her tone. "From what I can tell, what I've picked up is… instinctual. Languages. The feel of a gun in my hand. I feel like if I walked into your home, I would know it."

Her hand reaches up to rub at her face, fingers gliding across her skin as she looks back to Rouen. "I always wondered if they were preparing me for something. Something bad. Did you feel it, when it was your turn? The… violence?" It scared her, that much is obvious in her troubled expression. "There's something coming. One of us. Maybe the first of us. They've been locked away, but I've been told they're trying to break free. They're connected to us in the myths," she says, a crooked smile peeking at the corner of her mouth. "I'm trying to see if there's anything to that. I think that whatever all this experience and instinct from the past is preparing me for, it's coming. I'm just not sure if I'm supposed to fight for them or against them. Or if I'm meant to do anything at all."

She folds her arms, protecting against a cold wind biting through her. "I haven't tossed out the possibility that I'm grasping for importance."

“We all are,” is Rouen’s philosophical retort. “We humans are creatures seeking meaning or importance in the chaos that is life. Some find it in religion, clinging to the tenets of a God that tells them they were made for something greater. Others find it in a cause, living to accomplish something, whether it is remembered into the future or… fades into obscurity. The whole of the human condition is based on importance.”

Rouen stops, turning her back to a particularly scrawny pine tree, to regard the young woman across from her with more scrutiny. “What we are not, is monsters, by nature. Nurture, however, is another matter entirely. But we are the sum of the choices we make in life, us perhaps even more so than others. The Indians believe in reincarnation,” Rouen says with a wave of one hand, “on karma determining what one reincarnates into. Is our existence not entirely unlike that? Are you not my future? Am I not your past?” Rouen shrugs. The question remains a hypothetical.

“But we, all, live in a time of violence. It was no different in my era than yours.” Rouen says. “There has not ever been an era without violence, merely that we are more attenuated toward life and death, and feel the pull of death more acutely. What you have, from me, is a selfless gift. A life for a life. How others have used it…” she spreads her hands, “abused it,” and her hands come back together, clasped at her waist, “has colored your perceptions of it. In my time, it was the other side of the coin, what was the monster.”

"I try to see the good in both. Trying to. It's hard to separate them from the people who held them. How much is us, how much is it." Nathalie shivers a little, but it's hard to say if it's from the weather or the topic. "If there is a difference between it and me. I can tell you that when I lost my hold on them, they felt the same.”

“Violent and angry."

One Year Later

Somewhere in Iraq
January 12th

The trail of blood ends at a body.

Richard Ray lays on his side in the middle of the concrete hallway at the base of a flight of stairs, one wet hand clutching a wound under his arm that has stopped bleeding. He and the wolf’s head cane that he dropped lay in a dark pool of still-wet blood. His eyes are open, pupils dilated, lips parted to say something. Nathalie does not need to check for a pulse to know the truth. She can feel it, in her hands, in her aching heart, in her mind.

There is no pulse.

Richard Ray is dead.

Nathalie's first thought is to burn it all to the ground. For him, for herself, for Hana. It boils hot enough inside her that she's not sure where she would stop— this whole rotting world and every rotting person in it. And they all are


It's a feeling she's learned to live with over the years, feeling all those little dying pieces around her all the time. Ignoring what it means when it's someone she loves. Reveling in it when it's someone she hates. Her good hand scoops up the cane, lifting it to look in the wolf's eyes. Perhaps that's the answer after all. Burn it all to the ground.

She looks from the wolf to Richard. To actually look at him.

She never thought she would find them like this. He always seemed… untouchable. She never wanted to be in this situation. Where she was just moments too late. If she had moved faster, if she had been cleverer, she could have protected him, saved him. Dropping to her knees, staining her clothes with his blood, she reaches a hand out to touch his face. "Come on, cousin," she says, her voice breaking, "this isn't how it's supposed to go. You're always supposed to have a way out."

He's spent so much time trying to save the world— but it isn't the thought of the world that strikes her in this moment. It's Elisabeth's face. His mother's face. It's his children. Messy, smiling children. She knows what becomes of children who have loss too early, who have to learn to survive too young. And then she knows—

There is a way out. Of course there is.

Her breath is shaky as she sets the cane aside and shifts to sit, pulling Richard into her arms. It makes it harder for her to move, but then, that's the point. She can't let herself get scared and run away. She can't let herself think about the sister she's still getting to know or the boyfriend that never asked for anything like this, or her father— or the last conversation she had with her father.

"Okay okay," she says to herself, her hands holding onto Richard's face. "It's gonna be okay. Don't feel bad. It's been borrowed time anyway." Even she isn't sure if she's talking to him or to herself. But she knows that there's only the two of them here and there's only one place that all this energy can come from. "Just promise me you'll go out there and do something amazing. Just one more time. For me."

She doesn't close her eyes. She needs the reminder of what she's doing and why she's doing it. The healing isn't a slow thing, not this time. No cautious drip of power, nothing kept in reserve for another time. What would be the point? She just hangs on and pushes everything she can at him.

Help me.

Help me.

Please help me.

A pair of hands reach around Nathalie from behind, not old and calloused like Kazimir’s, not thin and delicate like Madeline Rouen’s. They are larger than hers, fingers resting over fingers, guiding her hands down to the wound at Richard’s side. She feels the presence of someone behind her, sitting behind her even as she has Richard in her arms.

She called for help.

She got a nurse.


A hospice nurse.

It’ll be okay,” comes the whisper from behind Nathalie, the weight of a chin on her shoulder, the warmth of there being someone else here in this moment. Her ability hungers for the empty vessel that is Richard Ray, it moves like a dog off its leash. She had healed before, healed Avi, and Emily, and Francois, healed Eileen. She knows what that give and take feels like, but this is different. This isn’t a delicate game of tug of war. This is hungry, this is desperate, this is grim, ugly purpose.

An involuntary breath escapes Nathalie as Peter — Kazimir — she isn’t sure if there’s a distinction for this one, “You’re so much stronger than you realize,” he says against her cheek, making certain that her hands stay fast around the warm, bloody wound under Richard’s arm. Her eyes burn as bright and blue as his do, unnatural and inhuman. “But I can feel what makes you strong. It isn’t this ability… it isn’t your training…” one of his hands moves from Nathalie’s, two fingers tapping at her sternum just below her collar. “It’s your heart.

Nathalie's fingers shake when she feels another person with her, her lip quivers when she hears his voice and she lets herself relax— counting on him to keep her up, to keep her here. Feeling that hunger, the monster she's held back for years, she lets out a wracking sob. A moment ago, it might have been enough to rattle her concentration, to force her to start over again if she wanted to do this, but it doesn't. She keeps her focus going and her work going, through the fear.

He can feel the subtle shake of her head at his words, even before she can gather her voice to reply. "I don't know about that," she says, voice raw, throat tight. "But I've been trying to figure out what I am alive for. What I'm supposed to do. Maybe it's this." Not healing in general, but this exact moment. Her fear makes her tremble, her voice crack, but she has enough determination to keep going.

"Thank you for coming," she says, leaning her cheek more into his, "Brother."

I'm just a copy of a copy of a copy

“I was always death,” Peter says as he watches the veins in Nathalie’s hands begin to turn black, “before I even had the Conduit. I was surrounded by it, helped people through the transition, and here… it feels like— it feels natural. It’s what I do. I understand people’s pain, what makes them a person, and it becomes a lens to see them through anew.” The next time Nathalie exhales, it feels as though her breath may never come back to her and she’s forced to fight to breathe in again. “I see you,” Peter says to Nathalie as the skin on her hands begins to become gray and ashen, as cracks painlessly form in her as though she were made of burned paper.

Everything I say has come before

So attuned to the balance of life and death as she is, Nathalie can feel her heart slowing even as Richard’s begins to beat again. Color starts to return to his face, the wound on his side knits itself closed as crumbling pieces of Nathalie’s hands fall away and tumble in dusty and sooty chunks down the front of Richard’s clothes. Even as Richard takes in his first, wet breath and his eyes snap open, she knows that the balance has been tipped past its breaking point.

Assembled into something, into something, into something

When Richard opens his eyes, when he returns from the blackness of death, he is staring up at not one person, but two. Nathalie LeRoux is cradling him in her arms, a near skeletal and ashen hand on his chest and another pressed against where he had been stabbed. Her eyes are vibrant, blue, radiant. Over her shoulder, there is a ghost of a man with a scar across his face. Peter Petrelli — or perhaps Kazimir Volken — or some hybrid of the two embraces Nathalie, his hands covering hers, his blue eyes watching her movements. Peter seems ethereal, translucent, until Richard sees the black veins crawling up Nathalie’s face, sees her blue eyes flickering like candles in the wind.

I don't know for certain anymore

Then, Peter begins to look more whole. But Richard can barely move, barely feel anything other than an intense heat burning in his veins, a seething fire of something between life and death and an invasive force moving its way into his body. Tendrils of white and black like snaking through his veins, bleeding black and blossoming white. In this interstitial moment, on this threshold, they are both alive.

I'm just a shadow of a shadow of a shadow

and both dead.

Always trying to catch up with myself

A wet, sucking breath is drawn in, and Richard tastes

I'm just an echo of an echo of an echo


Listening to someone's cry for help

which is strange because he didn’t taste anything a moment before, didn’t feel anything, didn’t think anything. His dark eyes flicker suddenly open as the exhale comes with a shuddering cough, pupils rapidly dilating and constricting for a moment before coming into vague focus.

Look what you had to start

“P-Petrelli? Wh…” Why is he here? Why is he a ghost? Is this is afterlife? It must be hell, there’s a Petrelli here to greet him. Wait, no. Where is he? What—

Why all the change of heart

And realization hits him like a brick to the face.

You need to play your part

“Nat? Nat, n-no, you can’t, you can’t do this, this is what they want,” he chokes out past bloody lips, meeting those incandescent-blue eyes, seeing the black veins crawling hungry up her face to devour all she is. His cousin. He just found her. “You can’t, you’re— you’re killing yourself, you’re— “

A copy of a copy of a…


Now look what you've gone and done

for him.

Well, that doesn't sound like fun

“Nat, no, you’re family, think about— about Emily, about— “ A hand shakily lifting, trying to reach out for her, but he can barely move. He’s not entirely alive yet either. “I don’t deserve this— ”

See, I'm not the only one

“Peter, stop her— ”

A copy of a copy of a…

"Shhh," Nathalie speaks with what voice she has left, a gentle sound like a mother reassuring her child, "It's okay." She can't move, tears can barely form in her eyes still. It's done, however he might try to stop it. "No one gets what they deserve, Richard. They get what they fight for. She taught me that." Her eyes start to go distant and there's a moment of fear that flashes through her stricken face. A moment to regret all the things she hasn't done. All the things she has done.

I am little pieces

But she's chosen what she's fighting for.

Pieces that were picked up on the way

"I wish I had known her— my mother." A single tear falls, streaks down her cheek and to her chin, where it falls, splashing against ash and bone. "Peter— " she says his name, pleads, she needs his strength for just a moment longer.

Invented with a purpose

"I'm ready."

A purpose that's become quite clear today

Peter does not say anything to Richard at his plea, but his face conveys a level of grief in pale blue eyes and the subtle downward cast of his lips. With a furrow of his brows he says what words can’t, it’s her choice. Those black veins spread their way up the sides of Nathalie’s face, lips turn ashen and gray and hair becomes brittle and dry. As she cradles herself around Richard, bringing him back from death, he can feel her life essence flowing into him in an exchange beyond anything he has ever experienced.

Why all the change of heart

Behind Nathalie, silhouettes of other indistinct figures emerge from the darkness. On the threshold and linked to her as he is, Richard can see that she isn’t alone in this room, she never was. There are dozens of people, vaguely distinct shapes of hazy illumination standing behind her to watch this transference, this exchange, this turning of the age. His heart races in his chest, even as Nathalie’s slows down to barely a beat.

You need to play your part

Whispers rise in Richard’s ears, hints of voices never heard, but remembered in nightmares of a world that never was. As he takes in a breath, Nathalie LeRoux exchanges her last with him. The transformation becomes complete as Nathalie’s skin takes on a matte gray texture flaking with ash and dust. The last glimmer of blue light dies in her eyes before they too turn a dull and lifeless gray ringed with black. Horror, guilt, and revulsion are joined by a sense of something greater, something immense existing just beyond his reach.

A copy of a copy of a…

Peter closes his eyes, and in that same moment Nathalie shatters like a sand sculpture touched by too many lapping waves. Crumbling and flaky flesh of ash and soot tumbles down over Richard, brittle and dry bones like fire-blackened wood collapse within the shroud of her clothes, which fall down around him as if she had never been there at all.

Now look what you've gone and done

A cloud of billowing gray ashes swirls around Richard, catching rays of light from the dull bulbs in the ceiling. His hands tremble, his extremities ache, but worst of all his heart feels torn in two. The silhouettes remain present, even as Peter becomes indistinct and ephemeral. Reaching out to take the hand of something huddled where Nathalie LeRoux once sat. Through the haze of dust and ash he can almost still make her out, like an afterimage burned forever into his retina.

Well, that doesn't sound like fun

She rises, and as she does disappears into the haze of ambient light. Richard squints reflexively against the glare of the bulbs overhead, and in that moment the host of phantoms are gone. There is no one, nothing, just a pile of ash and bones that was once a blood relative, crumbled around Richard’s prone form, and the snarling visage of a wolf’s head cane laying in a pool of tacky blood.

See, I'm not the only one

Now, he is alone.

A copy of a copy of a…


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