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Pain Dial Meets Numb Man

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During the years of prison interrogation, Victor Vale only met one person that was in any way interesting.

One day he was left out and escorted into an interrogation room when a man who couldn't have been that much older then himself, maybe early 30s, was sitting at the table, reading what Victor assumes is his file. After the guard has cuffed him to the table and they are alone, there is a short silence before the cop looks at Victor and speaks.

"I'm Detective Nathan Wuornos from Haven PD. I'm here to ask you some questions. Do you mind if I record this?"

Victor smiles, "Fine by me."

While Nathan sets up the equipment, Victor tastes his last name in his mouth. "Wuornos, Wuornos, where have I heard that before. Oh, yes. Any relation to Aileen?"

Nathan just shrugs. A part of Victor is annoyed at that. He enjoys getting a rise out of people, and you'd think reminding a cop of a serial killer relative would give him something. It's been a while since he's really had a chance to try his power on a person he can see, so he gently concentrates on the, for a lack of a better word, "aura" around Nathan, making the atmosphere just a little bit uncomfortable, just a hint of pain in the air.

"You're outside of your jurisdiction," Victor points out. There's no 'Haven' in this state, although Nathan hasn't spoken enough for Victor to pinpoint his accent.

"Sometimes people help each other out, and jurisdiction can be granted," Nathan says. At least that's comfirmed. Curious situation.

"Is Detective Stell still trying to convince people I have supernatural powers and that's how I landed here?" Victor puts on his most put upon voice, making the whole idea sound ridiculous.

"I'm just here because I was told to come."

Nathan does have a good poker face. He shows no hint of being affected, even subconsciously by the pain in the air and he's not rising to his bait.

"So, you don't know anything about this? You're just here for a chat?"

Nathan sighs, "I'm not here to talk about 'EOs'. I don't believe in them."

Finally, a reaction. Victor has been in isolation a long time, so he takes his joys where he can. But something finally hits him. Nathan still shows no physical signs of reacting to his power. He nudges the dial up just a bit.

"I'm sure you've read my file. There was no mention of this silly idea?"

"There was nothing I have to worry about."

Victor can't help his slight surprise, "How come?"

"I have periodical idiopathic neuropathy."

Victor was enough of a pre-med that he understands the jargon. Fascinating. "Your nervous system doesn't function correctly? How?"

"Can't feel anything."

"It's not congenital insensitivity to pain?"

"It's not just pain, and it's not congenital. It comes and goes."

"You have to show me," Victor says with a little too much enthusiasm. Maybe this a new EO. Even if it isn't, it sounds fascinating.

Nathan takes a moment to examine Victor. It makes Victor realize that he is possibly calculating whether this show will lead to Victor being more talkative. Victor won't deny that he is interested, and it might work.

Nathan makes a decision, "They didn't even let me bring a pen so..." Nathan puts his hand on the table and starts to pull back his pinky finger.

The pain Victor senses in the air is different than he's used to. It's unconnected. Looking at Nathan's face, he understands why. Nathan's face registers no pain, no sensation, even though Victor thinks they are only moments from hearing a crack of a dislocated finger. When Nathan stops, his pinky doesn't lay down with the rest of his fingers.

Victor and Nathan look at each other. Nathan registers no pain, no discomfort. Victor doesn't hide his fascination. Which is good, because it hides his other feelings. Victor thinks about when he first got his power. Shutting down his nerves, cutting himself off from the pain, from everything. How empty and inhumane he felt. How does one live like that?

"Cool trick," Victor's voice has turned nonchalant.

"Yeah, it's a lot of fun," Nathan's voice on the other hand is full of sarcasm.

"How did you get it?"

Now, both of them are openly examining each other. Maybe Nathan really is an EO. Maybe there are more than one type.

Nathan's tone changes into rote listing of fact. With his condition, he must have met a lot of doctors. "Childhood accident the first time. It's been back about a year."

"Back?" Victor is surprised. Could an EO disappear like that for decades? But not a normal medical condition wouldn't do that either.

"Yes. I was normal. Then it came back."

"Was there an NDE?"

"NDE? A near death experince? No. Why?"

Can't be an EO then. Or then, the definition needs to be updated. Victor tries to not sound too bitter when he continues, "That was the going theory that Eli Cardale proposed. NDEs bring about superpowersm Of course, there are no EOs, so the theory is defunct."

"Hm. Of course." Nathan doesn't sound convinced.

"Are you here to see whether I can make you feel pain?" If Victor had no control over what he feels and what he doesn't, he might be compelled to search for someone like himself. He doesn't really think about the fact that he outed his power, if the file really didn't mention any theories. They never did manage to proof he was an EO. Otherwise he'd be dead.

Nathan's demenor changes and the 'small talk' proportion of the interview seems to be done.

"I'm here to ask you how Angie Knight died."

Victor knows his face registers no reaction. He's had years to deal with the fate he unwittingly gave Angie. It's been years though since he's let himself think of her. Despite his parents, or because of them, Victor has never really been good with feelings. Feelings about Angie's death were particularly difficult to parse through. He wasn't sure he knew what he felt for her when she was alive, and now... he prefers not to think of her.

"I was found guilty in court of law. It's why I'm here. What more is there to know?"

"Someone with connections contacted my department, my Chief said I should come talk to you."

"You weren't given a reason?"

"You claimed innocense. You might get into gen pop if you show some remorse."

"Why did they ask you?" The whole situation is starting to become more clear.

Nathan leans towards him on the table, "Because there's nothing you can do to me."

Victor considers this. He does worry his powers will stagnate if he doesn't manage to widen his reach. And sometimes, the isolation does get to him too.

"I do regret what happened to Angie," he starts. He does miss her, and wishes she hadn't had to pay the price she did for helping him.

Nathan just looks at him, quietly examining him.

"I went to a party, got into a fight with Eli, and I called Angie to get me. She had a project due, so we went to her lab, where that terrible accident happened. She died. I called Eli first, because I was in shock. I went home, and Eli shot me. He was jealous of me and Angie."

That final line is the most egrerious lie. Eli never thought Victor could get Angie. Victor's not even sure Eli cared enough about Angie to care whether that was a possibility. (Not that Angie ever wanted Victor, which was maybe for the best because Victor didn't quite know how he wanted her)

Nathan flinches a bit when Victor mentions Eli shooting him. Victor must not be the only one with a complicated best friend relationship.

"Then I woke up in the hospital, went to trial, was convicted and now I'm here."

"You still claim Angie Knight's death was an accident she caused?"

Victor pauses for emphasis, before looking at Nathan with a cospirational smile, "How else could she have died? Superpowers or EOs don't exist."

"Right..." Nathan says thoughtfully. "I think this is it."

Nathan takes the file and goes to the door to yell at the guard.

Victor doesn't know if this accomplished anything. He looks at Nathan's back, down at the hand with the still unsettled pinky and zooms into it's pain. It's there but different, weak, disconnected. He turns it off.

It's like Nathan remembered the finger at the same time, looks down at it and shakes his hand. His finger is better again, whether Nathan call tell it or not.

Nathan nods at Victor before he leaves without exchanging another word.

For a moment Victor is alone. Nathan seems to be a relatively functioning person despite his condition, whatever it is. If he could, Victor would make a note of it for the future. The neuvous system is a fascinating thing. Maybe Victor should practice with himself some more.

Chapter Text

During one Thursday afternoon, Chief Garland Wuornos makes his way to his son's office to give him a case. Nathan is writing up a report when Garland drops a new file on his desk. Nathan looks up.

”What's this?”

”A friend of mine wanted us to look into a case. So, look into it.”

Nathan rolls his eyes, ”Why are you giving it to me?”

For a moment, the Wuornoses just stare at each other, Nathan knowing full well why the Chief would specifically give him this or any case, while Garland doesn't want to make it explicit. Finally, Garland relents, ”...You know why,” before he leaves the office.

Nathan sighs in annoyance. He puts his current case away, and takes the file and it doesn't take him long to know why the Chief gave him the case. It's a weird one. Not Haven weird, but odd all the same. Nathan hates when the Chief does this, he can't even say why he thinks Nathan would be the one to handle this, can't say one good word about him. Can't even acknowledge that the case is weird. Because no one actually talks about anything in Haven.

Nathan goes back to his old case and finishes the paperwork. Then he concentrates on this new one, on the death of Angie Knight by Victor Vale a few states over at Lockland University, who is serving his time at Wrighton Penitentiary, which is where he's supposed to be going.

He's not sure why the local PD or the prison would want the help from Haven PD, but he'll probably find out if he takes the case. He does some calculating, and decides that he could get there on Monday. He'll need a few days off for this. Another thing he doesn't like to do, ask for time off, but Chief brought this case to him, and he'll do it properly.

Nathan takes both case files with him to the Chief's office, puts the old one on the desk, ”Done,” and holds up the new one. ”I can get there by Monday, but I'll need a few days off to get there and back.”

”You have any pressing cases right now?”

”No.”

”Fine. You can have Monday and Tuesday off, but I want the report by Wednesday. I'll contact Detective Stell.”

"Fine. Thanks, Chief.”

Nathan goes back to his office to start making arrangements, booking a motel room and the flights. Maybe it's good to get out of Haven for a bit.

***

On Friday, Nathan gets involved in a pretty Haven-y case, although luckily he does manage to deal with it during the same day. But it leaves him with a lot of paperwork, so he goes to work on Saturday to do overtime. It's not like he had much other plans for the day anyway. On Sunday, he flies towards Wrighton Penitentiary.

***

On Monday morning, Nathan makes his way to Wrighton Penitentiary and meets with Detective Mark Stell. They shake hands (always an annoying situation for Nathan because he can't gauge his strength anymore), before they sit down.

”So, Chief Wuornos sent you,” Stell says and Nathan can tell he's sizing Nathan up.

”Yep. Chief gives me all the weird cases.”

”I can see that you do have a knack for them. I checked out your record, of course. I won't let just anyone do this, no matter how highly recommended you might be.”

Nathan raises an eyebrow, ”I was recommended?” he doesn't bother hiding the incredulousness in his voice.

”Well, your… boss, said you're the best he has, though he also said that's not saying much.”

Nathan lets out a humorless laugh, ”Right. That sounds like him. So, you know it's not nepotism. Just slim pickings.”

Stell keeps sizing Nathan up. Nathan doesn't let it bother him, he's well used to it. But he does have a question, ”So, how do you know him?”

”You must know that Haven is infamous when it comes to these things. Word travels in these circles. His name comes up every now and again, and we've met in a few police functions.”

”Right.” Nathan is not sure how to approach this situation. No one talks about Haven's situation with outsiders. Hell, Haven's situation is barely acknowledged within Haven. So, he decides to try to shrug it off, ”Haven doesn't have EOs though.”

”You're sure about that? A lot of ExtraOrdinary things happen over there.”

”Like I said, I handle the weird cases. I'm sure.”

For a moment, both men analyze each other before Stell nods. ”Fine. Let's move on with this situation. Wrighton is planning on letting Victor Vale out into the gen pop. I need someone neutral to the case to figure out whether he had some supernatural involvement with Angie Knight's death that he might use on his fellow prisoners. Or just a recommendation on whether he should be allowed in gen pop.”

Nathan mulls over the situation. He'll need to go through the case one more time for all the details, see whether he has some insight. He'll also want to meet the man, though he's not looking forward to it. ”Fine. Give me an hour, and then bring Mr. Vale to an interrogation room.”

”Alright. But remember to leave your pen out.”

”Why? Is he going to try to kill me with it?”

”He might.”

Nathan rolls his eyes, ”Whatever. Can I take the file? Who knows, he might try to kill me with a papercut.”

”I'm starting to have second thoughts about you. If you don't take this seriously--”

”You shouldn't. Because I take this very seriously and I care about justice for people like Angie Knight. And if your weird theory about Victor Vale is true, none of it will matter to me.”

”Why?”

”Because whatever pain he can suppposedly cause, I can't feel it.”

***

Nathan is going over the file one last time when Victor Vale, 27 years old, is brought into the interrogation room. Based on a glance at him, Victor's skinny and pale with white blond hair and a carefully created image of nonchalance. Nathan checked him out and found out that his parents are *those * Vales, and his file also mentioned some possible personality disorders. Nathan only cares about whether any of that affect his capacity for regret and whether he has some ability he should be worried about. Victor's been in isolation for almost five years. He doesn't seem bothered by it, though he has clearly aged since his mugshot, maybe even more than is natural.

After Victor is cuffed to the table, Nathan looks at him properly and after a moment of silence, he introduces himself.

"I'm Detective Nathan Wuornos from Haven PD. I'm here to ask you some questions. Do you mind if I record this?"

Victor smiles, "Fine by me."

Nathan starts to set up the equipment when Victor already starts speaking. Does he have a problem with silence? Nathan can use that, since he never had any issue with it.

”Wuornos, Wuornos, where have I heard that before? Oh, yes. Any relation to Aileen?”

Nathan just shrugs. There's nothing Victor could say about the serial killer who he was probably related to that a bunch of middle schoolers didn't already. Also, a lot of people probably assume that Nathan became a cop because of Aileen, to clear the Wuornos name or something. That's not true, and anyone who knows his family also knows it. Nathan was destined to become a cop the day his own father decided to become one.

Nathan's mild reaction clearly bothers Victor, but if he has a power, Nathan can't feel the effects. Nathan puts on the recorder, and Victor seems to really like his own voice because he continues,

"You're outside of your jurisdiction."

"Sometimes people help each other out, and jurisdiction can be granted," Nathan explains. Victor still seems curious about that.

"Is Detective Stell still trying to convince people I have supernatural powers and that's how I landed here?" Victor says every word full of annoyance and like the whole idea is laughable. Nathan hasn't decided how he sees the situation yet.

"I'm just here because I was told to come," Nathan tells Victor with a completely emotionless voice and face, knowing not to give too much of himself away. He does want to figure Victor out. The best way to do that seems to be to let him talk.

"So, you don't know anything about this? You're just here for a chat?"

Nathan sighs, "I'm not here to talk about 'EOs'. I don't believe in them." Maybe that's more of a lie than is necessary. Nathan knows weird things happen in the world. He knows what happens in Haven, even if no one actually acknowledges them. But those are… knowable, manageable. These so called EOs aren't, as far as he knows.

"I'm sure you've read my file. There was no mention of this silly idea?" Victor is a good liar, but it's clear that Victor is more gauging for Nathan's reaction and what's in his file than really interested in debating EOs.

"There was nothing I have to worry about."

"How come?" There's real surprise in Victor's voice.

"I have periodical idiopathic neuropathy." Nathan goes with the full name since Victor was pre-med before all this happened, and he can see Victor's interest in him to turn genuine. ”Your nervous system doesn't function correctly? How?”

”Can't feel anything.”

"It's not congenital insensitivity to pain?"

"It's not just pain, and it's not congenital. It comes and goes."

"You have to show me," Victor says with a little too much enthusiasm. It brings up bad memories for Nathan, both of the doctor and bully varieties. Everyone was so fascinated with the numb boy.

Nathan takes a moment to examine Victor. Maybe 'freak' solidarity (not that Nathan has any real reason yet to think Victor does actually have powers) will make Victor talk even more. He makes a decision that it's worth it to try. And because no one ever believes him unless he causes himself pain he can't feel…

”They didn't even let me bring a pen so...” Nathan puts his hand on the table and starts to pull back his pinky finger.

Nathan doesn't have to care about his finger for now, so he concentrates on watching Victor and his reactions. Victor is fascinated, at the very least. There is something analytical about his face, too, but whether that is pre-med curiosity or trying to understand the pain Nathan doesn't feel with his supposed 'causing pain' power, Nathan doesn't know. After Nathan stops his demonstration, there's something else in there. A hint of empathy? How or why?

”Cool trick,” is the only thing Victor says, his voice nonchalant again.

”Yeah, it's a lot of fun,” Nathan doesn't hide the sarcasm in his words.

"How did you get it?" Victor examines Nathan now, and Nathan doesn't know how to react to it. It's too… Is he looking for a commonality? If Victor really is an EO, does he think Nathan might be one too?

But Nathan *knows * what he is, what he has. It's a medical condition, one doctors have diagnosed him with as a child and as an adult. Nathan's tone changes into rote listing of fact. "Childhood accident the first time. It's been back about a year."

"Back?" Victor sounds surprised. Did he forget Nathan mentioned it was periodical?

"Yes. I was normal. Then it came back."

"Was there an NDE?"

Nathan is confused, "NDE? A near death experince? No. Why?"

Victor sounds bitter (professional jealousy, maybe?) but like he's trying to hide it when he explains, "That was the going theory that Eli Cardale proposed. NDEs bring about superpowers. Of course, there are no EOs, so the theory is defunct."

"Hm. Of course." Nathan isn't convinced. Victor has spend a lot of time talking about the EOs. The weird going ons in Haven are very localized, targeting specific families. This NDE theory might explain the things that don't fit within the Haven pattern. And Victor seems more like the type of person to hide his power and talk people out of believing in them while at the same time actually proving their existence. But Nathan is not the right person for him to demonstrate his power on.

"Are you here to see whether I can make you feel pain?" Victor suddenly approaches Nathan, and he doesn't know whether he hates the words or his nearness more.

Nathan freezes for a moment. He really doesn't want to talk about this. It's time to get into the actual reason why he's here. "I'm here to ask you how Angie Knight died."

Victor doesn't react. No grief, no regret, no glee, no nothing. Just no reaction. It in and off itself tells Nathan a lot about Victor.

"I was found guilty in court of law. It's why I'm here. What more is there to know?"

"Someone with connections contacted my department, my Chief said I should come talk to you."

"You weren't given a reason?"

"You claimed innocense. You might get into gen pop if you show some remorse."

"Why did they ask you?"

Nathan leans towards him on the table, "Because there's nothing you can do to me."

Victor takes a moment to consider his situation. "I do regret what happened to Angie," he starts. Nathan thinks there is genuine emotion on his face now, but he's not sure. So, Nathan just continues to look at him, quietly examining him.

"I went to a party, got into a fight with Eli, and I called Angie to get me. She had a project due, so we went to her lab, where that terrible accident happened. She died. I called Eli first, because I was in shock. I went home, and Eli shot me. He was jealous of me and Angie."

Nathan flinches a bit when Victor mentions Eli shooting him. Nathan can't help but think about Duke, about his naivete, at thinking Duke might have changed. About his own pathetic desire to show people that he's worth something. A worthy son, a worthy friend. But he never is.

"Then I woke up in the hospital, went to trial, was convicted and now I'm here."

"You still claim Angie Knight's death was an accident she caused?"

Victor pauses for a moment, and gives Nathan a cospirational smile,

"How else could she have died? Superpowers or EOs don't exist."

"Right..." Nathan says thoughtfully. "I think this is it." Nathan takes the file and goes to the door to yell at the guard.

While Nathan waits for the guard to arrive and let him out, he thinks to check out his pinky. It's still in a weird position, maybe he pulled it back too far, so he shakes his hand to settle it. There's something different about it but he can't tell what it is. He looks back at Victor, and there is a moment of something and Nathan nods at him before leaving. Maybe EOs are real.

***

Nathan goes from the interrogation room back to Stell's office.

”So? What do you think?”

”Victor Vale is definitely something. He refuses to take responsibility for Angie Knight's death, he still claims it was an accident and he was just an innocent bystander and that Eli Cardale shot him out of jealo---” Nathan starts before Stell interrupts him.

”Do you think he has a power?”

Nathan only takes a moment to consider what he should say, ”If he does, I wouldn't know it.” The thing about being able to interrogate Victor without worrying about his possible ability, is that he can't actually know whether or not he tried to use it on him. ”I have a condition that makes me physically numb.”

”...Right. Your father, and your file, mentioned that.”

Nathan likes it better when they call the Chief his boss, especially in these situations.

”Anyway, I'm not sure gen pop is the right place for him.”

Nathan changes the topic, because although Victor unnerved him, and he does suspect he had something more tangible to do with Angie's death, and maybe there is something supernatural about him, Nathan also feels like freaks should stick together. He glances down at his pinky for a moment. (He can't ignore that weird moment of possible empathy) It still doesn't mean Victor should be let out with the other prisoners, to wreak whatever havoc he can.

”I can't prove he has powers, and I don't think he's willing to show them off for anyone. But I don't think he's safe to be around other people yet."

Stell mulls over Nathan's words, ”… This was my last stitch effort to keep him out of gen pop. Budget cuts, you know. If I can't prove that he's an EO, and that he's dangerous in ways we can't control, they are letting him out of isolation soon.”

Nathan can say nothing else but, ”I have no proof. And with these cases, proof is even more important than usually.”

”I guess you're right. Thank you for coming in.”

Nathan stands and he and Stell shake hands again, ”I'll write up by report by Wednesday, and you can get it through my Chief.”

”Right.”

Nathan leaves, and even years later, he sometimes wonders about Victor Vale and his EOs and whether any of it was ever true.