The Good Of The Country


hiro_icon.gif nathan_icon.gif

Scene Title The Good of The Country
Synopsis Two men have different ideas as to what this entails, but at least some common ground can be discovered.
Date February 23, 2009

Washington D.C. - The White House - The Oval Office

Nathan had vainly wondered how long it would take for him to get used to working within the Oval Office as his personal sanctuary. His guess had been, not long, and he was right, as he all but ignores his surroundings now as he turns a pristinely white page. The majestic desk he sits at is almost bare, save for a few bits and pieces - a wireless phone, a laptop pushed to the side and switched off for the moment, a photo of his family - his wife and kids, to be precise, there is something somewhat wrong about a President's family portrait containing a convicted terrorist - and the thin sheaths of documentation on the happenings at Moab Penitentiary.

Light filters through bullet proof glass, fading after noon has made its hurdle. He's dressed as if he expects company, which he doesn't apart from the general coming and going of staff, in a charcoal-dark suit, a blue tie, a crisp white shirt, the tiny American flag pin on his lapel. The document he's reading is all very nice, as far as a report of interrogations can be, prettied up for his eyes, that much is true. Letting it fall closed with a soft rustle of paper, Nathan lets out a sigh for only himself to hear, leaning right back against his chair and resting a hand over the document. As if it might tell him how to feel about it through tactile contact.

What he feels about it is unimportant, anyway, and he almost pushes it aside dismissively. He has more important things to do. He has a country to run. Peter… will probably just have to take care of himself, reaping what he sows.

Brisk footsteps sound outside as they approach the door to the Oval Office and a young male intern appears through the doorway with brief in hand and raps politely on the doorframe. "Mister President. One of the briefs you requested, sir?" he greets. His name is Johnson. Yancey Johnson. Freckle-faced redheaded, smart as a whip. Has a snorting sort of laugh that he tries not to let people hear but loses control of sometimes when in meetings and someone makes a funny remark.

Johnson waits at the doorway as he's been told is proper, in case the Commander in Chief is doing something that is most definitely not for his eyes. What he has in hand must be something else to go with the stack of documents that Nathan ordered to see.

Who knew it took this much reading? Good thing Nathan has practice - he was, after all, a lawyer. It barely takes the rapping of knuckles against wood for Nathan to surface from whatever reverie he'd let himself sink into, hand lifting from the pages and offering the intern a twitch of a polite smile, sitting up with a little more dignity in his luxurious office chair.

"Thank you, Johnson," Nathan says, putting a distracted tone into his voice as he holds out a hand for the next set of reports, gaze dropping back down to the clean sheets of paper in front of him. "Let's see who got their homework in on time." Somehow, he doesn't think it was Agent Verse.

As the intern smiles and walks toward the President to hand him the brief, he slows….way….dowwwwwwwwn….and stops, mid-step. The way he sticks there in space defies gravity, because he should be falling over on his face. Nobody could just hold that pose, so it's clear this is no juvenile stunt or whatever.

The ambient noises of all the worker bees, the several hundred working clerks, runners, pages, and other people who make the daily business of the White House function, all that ceases. There is eerie silence broken only by one's own heartbeat and breath.

And standing perhaps seven feet away from the President, next to the U.S. flag where it hangs from a display pole, is an Asian man in black. The hilt of a perhaps familiar sword peeks over his shoulder. "Flying Man." he says, tone anything but cheerful. He makes it sound like a curse, and the look on his face matchesit. Hiro Nakamura is not particularly happy to see Nathan at the moment, even if the meeting is very clearly his idea.

When the gentle brush of paper against fingers does not occur in the next few moments it should, Nathan glances up in mild irritation— only to go quite still as he watches Johnson slow down on his way into the office. Not as still as Johnson, to be fair, and Nathan's hand withdraws, tensely listening to the ambient sound of his workplace, as grand as it may be, fade to nothing.

Alrighty then.

Nathan is already getting up out of his chair and reaching - doubtfully - for his phone when that once familiar voice interrupts him, the President standing up straight when the time traveler falls under his line of sight. "Hiro," he says, the name coming out clipped. Gaze darting from face, to what he can see of the, yes, familiar sword, back to the terrorist. "Most people make appointments."

Of all the things Hiro could say at this point, of all the things he could do, the one thing he does first is to shake his head, looking at Nathan as if he is the most disappointing Thing he has ever beheld. "What happened to you?" he asks.

Hiro walks across the office to Johnson and looks at the young man's back as if expecting to find something there. But apparently he doesn't because he has no reaction to what he sees. Now and then a sideways glance for President Petrelli while this occurs.

Suppose you can't get into the White House in any legit way with a sword. Nathan's gaze stays locked on Hiro, one nervous glance to the eerily still Johnson breaking that up for half a second. Unconsciously, a hand is partially raised, fingers spread, as if to fend off an attack. The mild question is hardly that, though, and so the hand lowers, nervousness at least becoming masked as Nathan regards Hiro grimly.

"Nothing happened to me," he says. "I never changed." The chair shifts a little as Nathan sits down into it, settling comfortably and fingers linking together. "Can't say as much for the world, but…"

Somehow, perhaps because he expects the thought to occur to Nathan, Hiro offers, "I'm not here to hurt you or anyone else." He sighs and takes the brief from Johnson's hand, flipping it open and picking at the files and completely uncaring that he doesn't even begin to touch having permission to see them. From anybody.

"You're a different man." comes Hiro's reply, glancing up at Nathan after a second. "When I met you? You were not the kind of man who would let this happen. Or were you? The Linderman Act, Mr. President?" In spite of his disapproval Hiro just cannot bring himself to fail to use a proper form of address in this situation. Anyway perhaps it adds a little more sting. How much responsibility Nathan really bears in this.

Perhaps watching a civilian handle such delicate documents so carelessly makes Nathan more nervous than the possible threat to his own life, tensely watching it be flicked through. Cognitive dissonance. "I'd fancy myself to be the kind of man to support something like the Linderman Act from start to finish," he says, stiffly, but with practiced ease all the same. "I became a Senator to help protect my country, Hiro. I'm President now for the same reasons. It seems we have different methods." His hand goes out for the file, almost an impatient gesture, a hint of a strained smile that's put on to communicate: that's mine.

The look Hiro fixes Nathan with is at once skeptical and searching. Like he'd really like to believe this man really is still what he says he is. So much doubt, though.

With only a second's hesitation Hiro closes the brief and hands it to the other man to take as he wishes, eyes searching for the other's to help convey what he asks next. "How would you like to know where I've been?"

"I would like to know," Nathan says, as he takes the document. The answer is quick, backed with seeming open honesty. The papers he's given are merely placed, possessively, onto the ones he'd been reading, clasped hands coming to rest on them in turn. "As far as I can tell, you disappeared off the face of the earth." A hand gestures, almost politely, to a chair opposite him. Sit. Talk. despite the surreality of the situation, well, Nathan has no choice but to be courteous, because he can't stop letting a lingering look wander on back to where Johnson is frozen in place.

When Hiro takes the offered seat, he sits forward, elbows on knees and ready to rise quickly. It almost seems that his regard for Johnson is about the same as for furniture. The guy's there, not to be abused or have feet propped on him, but he is most definitely not pertinent to what's going on here. "I've only told one other person this, but one of the times I went was to spend time studying something one of your predecessors did. Franklin Roosevelt. What do you think of the internment camps your government put Japanese Americans in during World War Two? Is that a proud moment for you?" Obviously a leading question. "I went back to see it first hand. Be one of the prisoners. It was educational. What you're allowing your brother to go through right now has to be worse. I have not been through that." And he hopes he doesn't need to try.

The challenge is clear, and Hiro would not be the first to compare the decisions Nathan has supported with references to the past. Analogies of horrors that people would think we had learned from, had come so far from. It doesn't take much to turn a cold shoulder to these arguments, to face the reality of the situation.

Of course, few of these people had been there.

Nathan's eyes narrow a little across the expansive desk at Hiro, settling comfortably into his seat even if the lines of his shoulders betray tension. This is not a comfortable situation. When Peter's name comes up for good measure, Nathan's gaze dips down towards the reports resting on his desk, back up to Hiro. "Peter made his own bed," he says, words clipped. "I've offered him ways out that he refuses to take. And no, past mistakes aren't proud moments. Ethnicity is not a threat. The people in these prisons," his finger taps the documents Hiro's already flicked through, "are."

Perhaps surprisingly, Hiro nods his head to part of that. "You're right about Peter. I know he put himself there." He lets out the beginnings of a rueful laugh, "I don't know what I'm going to say to him when we have this talk." Because there will be a talk. Hiro raises a hand and points to the documents in front of Nathan, saying, "Those people are your people." Americans? Or Evolved? Or Evolved-Americans? All three fit. "Do you really believe they're only there because they're the dangerous ones? Or because you're sitting there right now because enough people out there," point to the bulletproof windows, "are just afraid of them? Mister President, so long as you allow this to continue you are ruling by fear."

"I'm ruling by necessity," comes Nathan's argument, but it's spoken softly and without venom. The emphasis on that word could almost sound sarcastic. For now, it's all he offers the other man. Because, really… they seem to have all the time in the world. The utter silence is disconcerting, but he's trying to remain unruffled, as much as any politician can, and otherwise listen. Both what Hiro probably needs from him, but it's also the best he can do in this situation. As far as he knows, he's getting the most intel on Hiro Nakamura than the government's been able to get its hands on at least lately.

Oh yeah. As far as anyone official, the POTUS is right now getting more than the entire DHS will likely get this year on Hiro Nakamura. Hiro Nakamura who stares at Nathan Petrelli and comes to a decision as he watches the most politically powerful man on the planet. "Help me save Peter."

Is that why he's here? Could it really be that simple?

There's a moment of silence that truly is silent, nothing outside of the two men making a sound. Nathan's eyebrows go up at this request, staring across at Hiro, almost as if perhaps seeing him as very much the bumbling character he used to be back in 2006, the one that had called him both hero and villain. "Peter doesn't want to be saved," comes Nathan's bitter, slightly incredulous reply. "Especially not by me."

"Well those people in prison because of your Linderman Act," YOUR Linderman Act, "don't want what's happening to them either. As for Peter, I wouldn't want to be saved by you either if I were him." Hiro gives that a second to sink in before getting out of his seat and putting both hands on the desk. He leans forward and says in a quieter voice to Nathan, "Mister President, Nathan Petrelli…I believe you're a good man." He shakes his head slowly, still watching the other's eyes, "But you've spent all this time being led by other peoples' examples. Linderman. Your mother. You let what Peter does drag you around. Don't you think it's time you did the leading? By your example?"

Hiro wins the staring contest as Nathan let's his gaze slide away under this particular brand of encouragement. Persuasion. Whatever this is, unexpected as it is. "I am a leader," Nathan says, somewhat coolly, as if the heat of Hiro's judgment were not something he appreciates. "I'm the President of the United States, and I stand by my decisions. I believe in the Linderman Act. I believe in registration. I believe in it since the day my brother destroyed New York City. Peter wouldn't harm anyone, but he killed one-hundred-and-fifty thousand citizens that day because of what he could do."

He stands up, now, perhaps to meet Hiro's gaze a little squarer, but really, he just looks tired. "Things bigger than us have been set into motion, Hiro," Nathan says, with a tone of finality. "For the good of this country. What would you have me do to save Peter?"

Standing up, Hiro is significantly shorter than the President. That hasn't changed, for all that the Japanese man's carriage and demeanor have changed quite significantly. Still, his eyes stay locked on Nathan. They narrow ever so slightly and he shifts his gaze a little to the side as if to look deeper into the President. "Things? And you support these Things?" Of course he does. Nathan supports whatever it takes, apparently. That lesson has been learned. Eyes cut down briefly and then come up to match the other man's again. "Provide me with the information I need to go in and get Peter out safely. Nobody will know. I won't even tell him if you don't want me to. Nobody's even going to know we're talking right now." That much is true.

"Things," Nathan confirms, the corner of his mouth starting a smile. Not quite making it. He doesn't confirm his support, shouldn't have to, maintaining that they are, indeed, bigger than one man. Even if that man stands on top of the world in a house of white. And this next dilemma, is pure conflict. He can guard his past decision with all the determination and politician smiles he likes, but Peter is a weak link. Always has been, always will be, and it shows in the way Nathan's jaw clenches.

If only it could be this easy, to act on what seems right, for a change. "Hiro," he says, evenly, almost in a paternal tone of voice. "How many free passes can I afford to give him. What do you believe he's going to? Run away? Fight me some more for old time's sake?"

In spite of any argument he can make, Hiro has to admit that really is a good question. It gives him enough pause that he stands back, closing his eyes and crossing his arms at his chest to think of how to reply. "There are evils out there that you don't know about." he chooses, because this too is true. "Peter is not one of them. But he CAN fight them. And he will if he must." Eyes open and find the other man again. "Like you say, things bigger than us. They'll get you, if you don't take me seriously. One almost did. And the people who helped you dodge that bullet are sitting in prison now too, punished for saving you. It's not about whether you can afford to help him, it's about whether you can afford not to. For the good of the country."

"Vigilantes. Terrorists. I'm starting to get the impression you think I'm not up for the job myself," Nathan says, very wryly, which is risky business with someone for whom English is not their first language. Someone like Hiro, especially. The reports are picked up, leafed through. "He's not going to leave the others behind," Nathan says, not looking at Hiro as he fingers through the documents. "And if he does, he's going to get them back. Moab will be razed to the ground. Just letting you know you've lost before you've begun."

A single sheet of paper is removed, now, glanced over, and then, it's offered out to Hiro. Data, location within location, logistics - or at least, it can be read between the lines of the information being communicated. Nathan's expression could be carved from stone, it's so grim. "He doesn't find out," is all he says, the word enunciated carefully, plenty of warning behind them, as empty as that warning would probably be.

If Nathan had somehow pulled a gun on Hiro and shot him he might not have gotten a more surprised reaction. There is not a word until after Hiro has taken the offered sheet of paper. He stares at it for ten quiet seconds before saying, "I will not let Peter destroy the prison." Beat. "That's your job. And no. He will not find out, not from me. I promise."

The way Hiro takes a step back, he catches his foot on the chair behind him and half-stumbles a little. Yeah, he's that surprised. Looks at the time-frozen intern and points at him, "You might want to put those files back in his hand so he doesn't notice any change. When I restart time."

"Of course," Nathan says, a little flatly. Restarting time, that's normal. The documents are shuffled back into a semblance of what they were, before looking at Johnson… and… offering out the file to Hiro, with a look that rather clearly states, you can tamper with the time frozen guy. He settles back into his chair, just as he was when Hiro hit the pause button. "Good luck. Like I said, you've already lost. Peter's changed more than you know about."

He can't be a hero, not to his brother, or even to the country when it comes to the perceptions of some. But you don't ignore the deus ex machina when it lowers itself into the scenery, not because it saves the day, not all at once, but perhaps Nathan can get an extra night's sleep.

"I guess we'll see." replies Hiro, swallowing once and taking the papers from Nathan before he steps back around Johnson and carefully puts them back in the intern's hand, being careful to pinch the young man's fingers together again so he holds onto it securely. Stepping back from that, Hiro says, "Just one thing. If you're right, and Peter cannot be saved, or he's the monster you seem to think he's become, I'll do my best to stop him myself. And then I'll turn myself in." Because if all that happens, what's the point?

Somehow Hiro doesn't seem to think he'll be turning himself in though. He warns finally, "When you sit down the way you were, I'll put you back. Remember he was just handing you that." To help Nathan with the charade, see

The man had flung Nathan against the wall by the throat. Threatened to take his family down with him. Perhaps Nathan can see a bluff when it presents itself. Perhaps it's just wishful thinking. Perhaps, maybe, Peter had all the reason in the world.

Or maybe, in the end, we don't get what we deserve. "He's become something," Nathan mutters, with all the long-suffering irritation of an older brother, then glances back at Hiro, a little confused at first, before realising what he means. Right. Distinctly uncomfortably, he realigns the first document back to where it had been on his desk, and, with one last glance at Hiro, he reaches out a hand as if to take the second from Johnson once more.

"-it's no problem, sir." Johnson says to the President, grinning a little too widely as he offers the brief to the Commander in Chief.

Outside the birds fly again. Down the halls the sounds of printers and copy machines going sounds. The distant muted roar of jet engines taking off and landing at the airport in D.C. lends its own ambience to the sounds of the world. And Hiro Nakamura no longer troubles President Petrelli with uncomfortable words and questions.

"Is there anything else, Mister President? Could I get you some coffee?" Yancey Johnson asks, standing in front of the President's desk and waiting to be basically dismissed.

It's loud in here, once you realise what dead silence is like. Nathan puts on a mild smile, shakes his head. "No, thank you," he says, settling the document onto his desk, and before Johnson can reach the door, he adds, "And shut the door, would you?" It muffles out the sounds of the office, if not that of the outside world, but it's an improvement. Gently, Nathan opens this document, and observes the missing page. Someone will have to answer for that. Someone is going to have to answer for a lot, he thinks. And it sure as hell isn't gonna be him.

February 23rd: When Fear Compels Us
February 23rd: Read It. Remember.
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