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For God and Country

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They're not related, Nathan's certain of that at least. Jim Profit aka James Stakowski, the farmboy who grew up in a box. Nathan doesn't let on that he knows, but he suspects that Jim's already aware of that. They meet over dinner in an out of the way restaurant, the way clandestine men who have secrets to hide do, or the way lovers do. The wait staff assume they're brothers. That's fine with Nathan too, once he gets past the discomfort.

"Any plans beyond the district attorney's office?" He's reading the menu, but he will always order the same thing, identical to what Nathan orders, although it's probably not because he likes it but because it's what men like them order. Nathan wants to feel sorry for him, but then again, so much of what he does himself is because it's what men like him do.

"Public service, perhaps. Congress." There's no reason to lie, Profit already knows.

"I could use a friend in congress." His smile is perfect and chilling, and entirely unlike Nathan's own. Nathan suppresses a shudder, Profit hands the menu back to the waiter with both their orders. "And you could probably use someone with my skills."

"What, pray tell, could I possibly want from someone like you?"

Profit temples his hands, and without the gloves Nathan can see the scar, almost but not entirely gone, marring his skin. "Perhaps just someone that you can take out all your rage on. Your...self-hatred, as it were."

Nathan has to laugh. "That's what you're offering. Seriously? I can pay people for that, and they won't even attempt to blackmail me afterwards. I can do yoga for that."

"Yoga. Is that your brother's influence? What's his name - Peter, right? Nice young gentleman. I met him the other day at one of your parents' functions. He was very charming."

"Stay the fuck away from my brother, or I will end you," Nathan says automatically, without thinking. Profit doesn't even flinch. "Look, what do you really want," he says finally, tired of the games.

It's not even that much, in the end, a minor Gracen family transgression that he can make go away easily enough, and what he offers in return - "This is evidence against a man I've been trying to put away for two years now. How did you. No, nevermind. Fuck." Nathan's missing something, he's sure of it, that will probably bite him in the ass afterwards, but for now, for this.

"It's good doing business with you, Mr. Petrelli. I hope we get a chance to meet again." He rises to leave, but Nathan reaches out and grabs his wrist until he sits back down slowly again.

"Who said that was all I wanted."

"Ah." He ducks his head, and Nathan can almost see the flash of annoyance in his eyes. "Of course. It's my pleasure."

At some point, when they've paid the bill and they're pulling up to the nearby hotel, Nathan realizes he doesn't actually want to fuck Jim Profit. Doesn't find him attractive, even, beyond the curiosity of feeling hands on him so similar to his own. Profit's hands are rough and callused though, betraying his upper-middle class demeanor and official background.

Cracks in the surface, Nathan can always tell because his father taught him well.

Profit doesn't want him either, he must have dug up somewhere that Nathan Petrelli did in fact like it that way, pretty ex-wife and string of blonds notwithstanding. It's strategy, useless now since he's already gotten what he wanted, when he puts his gloved hands on Nathan's shoulder or brushes his cheek with his fingers. Maybe Nathan only insists because he wants to see how far he can push, but Profit, Profit's an entirely different animal altogether.

In the natural fight for dominance he gives in, but Nathan's quiet rush of triumph is dampened by that small, almost unnoticeable smirk in Profit's face.

Either the man is so secure in who he is he simply doesn't care how he's perceived, or, more likely, he's so divorced from his own body he sees it as nothing more than an object to be used or use, whichever way that will reach the end results he wants.

At least he's more fucked up than Nathan himself.

In the morning Profit is gone, and Nathan feels dizzy and disoriented. He stumbles to the bathroom and there are dried flecks of blood on his hands, underneath his nails, and he barely makes it to the toilet bowl in time to throw up.