mount weather; Who: Claire Bennet & Nathan Wuornos When: Backdated to around March 19th Where: Mess Hall? Warnings: Mention of blood, pain, Sylar-related violence (re: Heroes)
Claire had only been in Mount Weather a short time, and she was starting to adjust somewhat to the routine. Wake up, breakfast, guard duty in the prison area, lunch, more guard duty, dinner. It was out of gratitude to have something to do that she’d latched onto the friendship Rogue and some of the other “mutants” had offered, because honestly she wasn’t really sure what to do otherwise. This place was a stark contrast to her home, which had her mom, dad, brother, and even Mr. Muggles, whom she’d started to miss, that it was hard to figure out what her place was. Plus, it was still strange to talk openly about what she could do, even though that was what she’d wanted for some time.
Even so, having others around who could also heal from anything was nice, but it hadn’t taken her long to realize that the fact that she couldn’t feel anything when she got hurt made her an anomaly. A freak among freaks. She’d kept that part to herself, mostly because it was still very new to her, and she honestly wasn’t sure how she felt about it yet, even here, in this unique situation.
At the moment, she was eating in the mess hall, cutting a piece of dragon meat while looking around, watching others. As she finished cutting the bite and lifted it to her mouth to eat, she noticed at the last moment that it looked bloody, and blinked as she noticed her finger had nearly been cut off. Making a face, she lowered her hand and pressed her finger back together, watching it heal, then quickly grabbed a napkin and wiped her hand off, keeping her eyes on her actions to avoid looking up in the hopes that no one had noticed and had been grossed out.
Mealtimes for Nathan were usually a rushed affair. Law Enforcement in Mount Weather wasn’t really any less busy than it had been in Haven, despite having some significant differences. It seemed that in any world, though, it was a job he was suited to, one he was used to, and so he settled in quickly to the routine of long hours and fitting in sleep and food wherever he could. It was almost homey, especially with the way this place kept throwing new surprises his way.
He had just gotten his own dragon steak and precious cup of coffee, and was walking down the aisle between the tables to find a seat. He was distracted, his thoughts all over the place, but his training meant that he was still incredibly aware of everything around him. All the same, when he saw the knife digging into the young girl’s finger, it took him a moment to be sure of what he’d seen. He blinked and looked more closely at her, in time to see her fitting her finger back together.
“Hey,” he said, sitting down in front of her, putting his tray down off to his left so that his hands were free to help her if necessary. “You okay?”
Looking up as someone joined her, Claire blinked a couple of times, then looked back down again. “I - oh, I just scratched myself on the knife,” she said quickly, realizing that there was an inordinate amount of blood on her tray. Dropping her napkin on top of it, the teenager looked up again. “Yeah - I’m fine. How are you? Isn’t it weird, that we eating dragon meat?”
She was rambling and knew it, but the truth was such a bizarre sort of topic that Claire honestly wasn’t sure how to even broach it. She didn’t think it would be a good idea to, not here. Her own hands moved beneath the table as she checked her finger and bent it a couple times to make sure it was okay, then clasped them together.
“Aren’t you going to eat?”
“Looked like more than just a scratch,” Nathan said, gently. He was smiling a little, too; it seemed fairly obvious that she wasn’t really hurt, so he wouldn’t have to be rushing her to medical anytime soon. He couldn’t help asking questions, though: it was in his nature, and it was his job. “Didn’t hurt too much, though? Sometimes the smallest cuts are the most painful. Or at least that’s what I’ve been told.”
He glanced over at his food when she mentioned it, and after a moment’s pause - because, despite her nervous rambling about the injury, she wasn’t trying to urge him to go away - he reached for it and tugged it in front of him. “Yep, I was working on that. I’m starting to acquire a taste for dragon meat.”
Hopefully, if he settled in a little, it’d make her feel more comfortable. He lifted his own knife to start cutting his meat, as she’d been doing, but then paused and added, “I’m Nathan, by the way.”
“You saw…?” She hesitated, then shrugged, her hands coming out again to prove to him her finger was completely fine. “I’m..like the mutants, I guess. I heal fast, so really - it’s nothing at all. Just a ruined meal.” She pushed her own tray aside, then shook her head. “It didn’t hurt,” she said, then quickly added - since for a normal person it would hurt almost cutting off your finger - “Much.”
Since he started to eat, she relaxed, watching absently as she picked up a roll from the unruined corner of her tray. “I’m Claire, hi.” She smiled at him, then started to chew on the roll itself, absently bending her finger again just to make sure everything was okay.
“Yeah,” Nathan said, easily, smiling. “It’s okay. I’m… not exactly normal, myself. I’m not sure anyone around here is, actually. I’m just glad you’re okay.”
He looked down at his own meat, and then back up at her. “You want some of mine? I got a pretty big piece.” He started to cut into it, dividing the dragon steak into two equal pieces, and slid his tray forward so she could take her half if she wanted it.
“Yeah, it seems like a lot of people here are different,” she said wryly, but tilted her head as she studied him. “Rogue didn’t mention anyone named Nathan, though - so I guess you’re a...different sort of different?” If that made sense.
At the offer of the meat, she hesitated, then picked up a fork and stabbed it, pulling it over. “Thanks, I appreciate it.”
That made Nathan laugh. “That’s one way of putting it,” he said, amused. “I’m not a mutant. I… have a Trouble. That’s something only my world seems to have-” at least it had been until Mara had shown up here, but he left that part out- “But it’s a… similar concept. Troubles are usually a lot less useful than other kinds of abilities, though.”
He looked at the knife in his hand. “If I cut myself with this, I wouldn’t feel it. I can’t feel myself holding it, either. Totally numb. And,” he added, “I don’t have any extra healing powers. Because it’s a Trouble, not a superpower.”
She stared at him for a long moment, taking that in. Finally, she looked down at the steak in front of her, without really seeing it. “You can’t feel anything at all? Does...does that bother you? How long have you been that way?” She was rambling again, but at this point Claire didn’t really care that much.
Almost hopeful, she looked back up to him, wondering if there was a way to maybe change that.
“Troubles run in families,” Nathan explained patiently. He had gotten used to telling people about this, even about his own personal experience, so he didn’t mind fielding her questions. Given that hopeful expression, though, he had a feeling she was hoping he’d have more answers for her than he did. “So I’ve had it my whole life. Got it from my dad. But the Troubles come and go, or at least, they used to. They came - or got activated - when I was a kid, and then went away again, and then came back. So I went a while without mine, but then it came back. And it’s stuck around ever since.”
Claire nodded a bit, then looked down at her hand. After a minute of silence, she spoke again, though her voice was softer this time. “This...just happened to me, recently. Not the healing, I could do that for a while, but...not being able to feel anything. I know how and why but it’s still...really weird. It sort of freaks me out sometimes.”
Absently she cut a bite of the steak and ate it, chewing it almost automatically.
Nathan listened attentively, and then nodded, understanding. “Yeah,” he said. “I know what you mean.”
This was a part of being Troubled that he didn’t really talk about a lot. Most people didn’t ask about it, or mention it, because they didn’t know. They didn’t know what it was like to not feel. It was a little heartbreaking to actually meet someone else who did. “I -- I didn’t know about the Troubles, at first. I mean, I knew, but they were… like an urban legend, a weird story that people whispered about but most people didn’t really believe in. I definitely didn’t. I… thought I was sick. Went to the doctor and got diagnosed, and everything. Idiopathic neuropathy.”
He smiled slightly. “It was just nice to be given real answers, I guess. Thinking I was sick wasn’t fun, but… sometimes I didn’t feel like a real person, because I couldn’t feel anything. So being sick was a step up from that.”
Claire looked at him, nodding her understanding. “I get that...I thought there was something wrong with me when I first hurt my hand and it was fine that night.” She hesitated again, thinking, then pushed forward.
“Okay, this may sound completely weird but - there was this guy, Sylar. He was like me, but his ability….he could steal others’. He did it by killing them, by slicing open their heads. He did that to me not long before I got here, and he said there was just...something wrong with me - and he said he fixed me.” She frowned. “He said I was broken until he did that, and then...I stopped being able to feel. He just...made things worse, I think.”
Nathan’s eyebrows did raise a little, but only when she described the process of stealing abilities. Slicing open their heads and killing them. It was extreme, but at the same time, it also pointed to an important difference in how her ability - her mutation, as she’d called it - worked as opposed to his own.
“I’ve seen that before,” he said. “Stealing abilities. Only… he only needed blood. Didn’t have to kill, although… he did.” He wondered whether those two things went together, somehow. Whether it was the ability that drove them to do things to feel powerful, or whether that was inherent in them to begin with and that was why their ability manifested that way. “I’m sorry. Sorry that happened to you.”
“He did it by looking at brains and, I don’t know, figuring out how their abilities worked or something. I only survived because my ability is, you know, rapid cell regeneration. He said what he was doing for me was a gift.” He’d also told her that she was like him, and it disturbed her more than she was willing to admit.
Claire shrugged at the apology, not wanting to think too hard about it because then she might cry...though she wondered if that would be a good thing. Showing emotions. “Are there...I don’t know, side-effects? From not feeling things.” She wondered if maybe she would stop having feelings in general as a result.
“He might have believed that,” Nathan said, quietly. “Or maybe he was trying to mess with your head. Either way, it doesn’t mean it’s true.”
He didn’t quite know how to answer that question, so he was quiet for a moment. Finally, he smiled slightly, and asked, “Aside from getting hurt a lot by accident, you mean?” He shrugged. “My other senses are pretty good, especially my sense of smell. But not supernaturally good, like some of our scent-trackers around here.”
“I don’t know,” she shrugged again, looking up at him. She didn’t really want to think about Sylar right now.
Claire knew he misunderstood, and shook her head a little. “That’s not...I meant - can you still, you know, feel other things? Happy, sad...stuff like that? Emotions, I guess.” Though the other senses getting better would be a plus, she figured. That could be useful if you were immortal, right?
“Yeah,” Nathan said, nodding. “I can definitely still feel all those things. How about you?”
She definitely didn’t look emotionless. But she looked like she was worried about it, so he was inclined to make sure. It was easier to talk about the reality of their situation than to try to cheer her up, give her false hope or platitudes about how everything was alright. Even if he did like using those, and believed in many of them himself. Somehow, though, he suspected that she needed answers more than she needed any of that.
“So far - I just didn’t know if it would be gradual. Like I would stop feeling them. With this...at first I just quit feeling pain, but now I don’t really feel heat or cold, either.” Which was still weird, to her. She just wanted to know that things would work out, from someone who hopefully knew they would...even if he was from a different world.
“You still feel other things?” Nathan asked. “Like… the silverware in your hand, the bench you’re sitting on, the clothes you’re wearing?”
He finally paid attention to his own food again, taking a bite of meat and chewing it thoughtfully. “My… condition… is different from yours. But for whatever it’s worth, it wasn’t gradual. Everything went away all at once.”
“Sort of? I can...feel the weight, I guess. But the texture isn’t really a thing.” She looked down at her fork, then back up at him. “But I can’t tell if it’s cool or warm, and I could at first, before.”
Claire looked a little disappointed at his next words, but she nodded. “Well - I guess I just hope that this stops at some point for me.” Before it went too far, at any rate.
“Me too,” Nathan said. He looked at her seriously, but with no small amount of empathy. “I wish I had better answers for you. I still don’t fully understand how the Troubles work. But - you can talk to me, anytime. If it helps.”
Claire met his eyes, then gave him a smile. “Thanks...and thanks for the food,” she said, and after a moment she started to eat the steak again, grateful to at least have someone around who sort of knew what she was going through.