Call Me Ishmael


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Scene Title Call Me Ishmael
Synopsis Felix Ivanov discovers someone with a bigger chip on her shoulders against Sylar than his own, and gets roped into a dangerous investigation.
Date February 24, 2010


They say working homicide can change a person, that detectives working serial killing cases can get so obsessed and wrapped up in their investigations that they turn into wholly different people. In a way, that sort've resentment for the flaws of humanity can turn them into monsters all their own, with their own jagged edges and dangerous corners. Or, as Friedreich Nietzsche more poetically put it: If you stare into the Abyss long enough the Abyss stares back at you.

Beneath the snowy skies of a dirty neighborhood so aply named Flushing, the metro line crossing east-west through the northern half of Queens is a circus of police investigators and federal agents. The parking lot across from the Flushing station is filled with unmarked squad cars and cruisers. Paw prints and boot marks from dog teams tread up and down both the platform and the frozen gravel beside the tracks.

Several detectives from Queens' NYPD stand on the foot-bridge overlooking the rails, head shaking and coffee still firmly clutched in their hands as thick flakes of snow fall from slate gray skies overhead. By the time one particular federal agents car pulls up to join that minagerie of vehicles, it's already become a zoo— but thankfully one devoid of press.

Crutches aren't the most dignified things to go hobbling around on, and that Fed has enough bad memories of them to have opted for the more stylish wood cane to accent the stiffness and soreness in his braced leg. The rubber stopper skids a little on the ice under that inch dusting of snow on the pavement.

Maybe it's his distinctive face, or maybe she's been stalking him by his liscense plate, but the woman that approaches the Fed's parking spot from the train landing knows him by name: "Agent Ivanov?" Blonde hair bounces with each firm footstep of the suited woman, squared shoulders and a single cup of molten hot coffee in one hand all a part of her poise and presence that seems outwardly aggressive.

Felix knows her too— not so much by name, but by reputation among the bureau; Agent Audrey Hanson, the only woman who might be more the Captain Ahab to Sylar's white whale.

That that regard, it makes Felix her Ishmael.

Or perhaps the Starbuck in this. The one who may fret and warn and advise, but goes to his doom, anyway.

And there's no doubt it changes you. Being a cop of any kind leaves its mark, homicide more so. There are unsolved cases whose ghosts will haunt Felix until the day he dies. Fel's standing not far from where the body was found, wearing that wolf-fur hat, his gray overcoat, and generally looking like he missed some turn from Red Square to the Novy Arbat. He's not really looking at the crime scene, though, so much as he is pointed in that general direction; the blue eyes are vague, fixed on no particular point.

Like he's meditating on it, waiting for some lightning bolt from God, or an apparition of the Virgin. Even after weeks back from Russia and the pole, he's got that starkness of exhaustion to his features. But he looks up from whatever daydream he was in, jerked out of the reverie. "Agent Hanson," he says, mildly. Of course he knows who she is. "I've been waiting to meet you." "….well, isn't that a match made in hell," sotto voces one of the NYPD, when he notes the encounter, glancing over his shoulder. The litle clump of New York's Finest all glance over, though most are too subtle to turn directly.

"Here." Audrey practically shoves the coffee at Felix as if it were a live grenade, "Double mocha cappuccino, try not to break the sound barrier running after drinking it." Her words are clipped and short, dark eyes shifted to the side as she angles a look over the edge of the platform and down to the tracks, then scrutinizingly angles those eyes up to Felix.

"A train car driver headed to work found our Jane Doe just after four in the morning, the snowfall's hampered in investigation…" Breaking away from Felix like an attentive doberman, Audrey marches across the parking lot towards the train platform and the visible railing of stairs that descend down to track level, angling a sharp look over her shoulder to Felix to make sure he's following her.

Of course he's following. Felix is a very good little doggie. "Spas- Thank you," he says, a bit surprised, as he takes it, sips from it tentatively. There's the crunch of boots on snow, as he trails after her. "I guess that makes you Agent in charge of this one, you're the expert here, and it's definitely Sylar….." he trails off, sighs mournfully. "I wish I'd killed him when he came for me last fall," His tone is full of rue.

"I'm not entirely convinced." Audrey flatly grouses, "Nor am I convinced you ever actually ran into him yourself." What? Moving to the stairs, Audrey crunches down them with determination, heading out onto the gravel as she walks out to the spot on the tracks where the snow has been cleared away by large fan-box heaters inside of a plastic tent. "The MO on this murder doesn't make me think Sylar, every time I've investigated one of his murders, the corpse of the victim was always left at the scene of the crime. As much as I want to be certain that he's out there somewhere, I think we might be dealing with a copycat of one of the most insidious variety."

One brow raised, Audrey pulls open the flap of the tent and steps inside to the oppressively heated space where the tracks are exposed. "There was a body, washed up on Staten Island a few months back, also didn't match Sylar's typical MO. It wasn't in a place of opportunity, it wasn't clean, it goes against his obsessive compulsive disorders."

Audrey turns around, unzipping the front of her jacket before she tucks her hands in the pockets of her pants, then glances to the flap behind Felix, then to the fed again. "I want to hear it from the horses mouth, because I can't get a straight shot from my superiors. Do you honestly, seriously believe you encountered Sylar? Because right now I'm sitting on a lack of physical evidence pointing to him being alive. I want to know what you think, what page you're on, and then I want you to give me you opinions on this."

Who ever said women don't know how to take charge?

"I have met him, personally. He tried to….harvest me," Like Felix was a Concord grape, or something. "He lived down the hall from me for a little, when I lived out in Queens. And I helped bring him in, back when he decided he wanted to play ball, for about five minutes. I've met Gabriel Gray, more than once, or a reasonable facsimile. Now, what -drives- him, what makes him kill - that may be portable, transferrable," He slants a dry look at his fellow Agent. "And considering -what- he does, stealing powers….I'll believe Sylar is dead when I see him in the morgue drawer." He pauses, licks his lips, and adds in all apparent seriousness, "With garlic in his mouth and a stake through his heart."

"Alright, you pass." Audrey states with an affirmed nod of her head. "They neverlisted your name on the ticket when Carmichael's men and Squad-Zero of FRONTLINE brought Sylar in last year…" She was playing him for a fool to see how much he knew. Audrey raises one brow and turns to pace along the tracks. "There was an in-flight accident during his transport, Agent Carmichael and the entirety of Squad Zero were killed when Sylar came out of his medicated coma and murdered all but one member of the flight crew."

Turning slowly, Audrey offers a narrow-eyed look to the tall Russian. "Agent Stephen Verse, an interrogation specialist who worked at a classified Evolved internment institution in Utah, survived the attack. I know that he wasn't the last person in the government to see Sylar alive either, but there's a blockade on information relating to his recent activities over a mile high that I can't see over. I heard you're a doer, agent Ivanov, and that you cut legal corners when necessary to get the job done."

One of Audrey's brows rises slowly. "I want you on my team. You and I know what the world can't know, that Sylar's still out there. The panic of that fact would ripple through this country faster than you could say Dauchau, and that's an outcome I refuse to let him have. Do you have what it takes, Ivanov?" The littlest spitfire cranes up a brow, watching Felix carefully.

"I want to make sure you can keep up," which is as bad-taste a joke as Audrey can make given his ability and his cane.

"I heard. He's like a bad penny. I'm really starting to think the only thing that will deal with him with any assurance is an orbital strike." Yes. Nuke him from orbit, only way to be sure. "What've you've heard is that I'm an unrepentant cowboy with a messiah complex, but that was a nicer way of phrasing it," he amends, as he juggles the steaming coffee from hand to hand - fingerless gloves, not so much help, really. "And I can tell you what's been happening with Gabriel Gray." He curls fingers around the cup, makes airquotes with the free hand.

"He's been 'rehabilitated', or some such horseshit. The reason you can't see what's happened lately is that what he's been up to needs the kind of clearance that makes an ordinary Agent's security access look like a day pass to Disneyworld. But if you really think we can deal with Sylar and it's not just tilting at windmills, sign me on."

Audrey's eyes narrow, lips purse and then creep up into a smile that lioness' must get when they see a limping gazelle hobbling behind the back. "Rehabilitated people don't continue to commit murder, and no amount of rehabilitation makes up for what he did in Midtown." Brows furrowed, Audrey turns to look down at the train tracks. "Unfortunately, half of what I said earlier is true. This killing looks like it might have been done by a copycat."

Moving to stand at a point on the tracks near the center of the heated tent, Audrey flicks her eyes up to Felix. "We found the Jane Doe right here, face down in the gravel. Top of her head was taken clean off, Sylar-style, but that's where everything gets fishy." She toes at the rocks, then looks from Felix down to where her foot disturbed some of the loose stones.

"The brain was surgically removed, precision cutting equipment. All of Sylar's previous victims, save for his first, had their extractions done by hand. This was more clinical, like a medical examination." Audrey's eyes angle up to Felix again. "But, the Jane Doe that washed up on Staten Island that was incorrectly identified had the proper method of brain extraction, except for one detail, the forehead was cut open with a knife, not like this." Audrey motions to the imaginary corpse with one hand.

"So we've got two conflicting cases, each with supportive information, and currently two very common things to go on…" Her expression becomes pointed as she raises one hand, counting out two fingers as she states; "Jack, and Shit."

"I have a theory I can float, if you want. It sounds sort of stupid, but….hear me out," Fel says, meeting her gaze levelly. "There's some possibility that the complex of disorders that drives Gray to do what he does - it can be *transferred*. Maybe even replicated. This may not be a copycat in the classic sense of an informed imitator. But someone else who's been infected with the same compulsion. What I'm trying to say is… may not be some watchmaker from New York we want, now. Someone else maybe doing this." He closes his eyes, does a long, slow exhalation that has the breath steaming in front of him. "There can only be two. A master and an apprentice." His tone is wishful, even over the sarcasm.

Firing off another speculative squint at Felix, Audrey quirks her head to the side and rolls her tongue across the inside of her cheek, looking for the barest of moments like she might actually smack him. But then, somehow, her expression manages to lighten and an uncomfortable smile creases over her lips. "I like the way you think, Ivanov. I'm willing to put money down on that theory, but that puts us in a very dangerous boat. Are we dealing with one deranged second coming of Sylar, or both he and his Jehova's witness?"

Tilting her head back and looking down at the tracks, Audrey exhales a sigh as a burst of steam from both nostrils. "I've got the boys down at the morgue doing overtime to check out the body for any forensic evidence we can use. Since you're on the case, that makes our next order of business figuring out exactly what happened here that night."

Audrey flicks a thumb over to the tent flap. "Go home, put together some information I can read on everything you know about Sylar. People he associated with that might still be in the city, old haunts, patterns you recognized. I'll see if I can arrange for a meeting with a private investigator that I've heard can show people the past." Audrey's eyes peer back down at the tracks. "We'll see what she can say about our killer."

"This is a completely weird thing to say….but he has friends. Friends who *know what he is*," Felix has never, ever been able to get over this fact. Like, how fucked up is that. I bring Hannibal Lecter Christmas cookies, we go bowling, etc, etc. "And…..they aren't gonna talk. A lot of folks under the radar, legally speaking, some of the ex-Vanguard who've gotten a bye for services rendered the government. The CIA has been playing some really fucking dirty pool on this front."

The bitterness in his voice is almost sufficent to turn the coffee in his hand back into black, no sugar, no cream, instead of some froufrou Starbucks diabetes project. "I just hope it's a direct transfer. Not a….replication. If that cluster of compulsions starts to *replicate*, it'll be like some goddamn Evo apocalypse." And then Felix gets that sort of startled look he gets, when he's spoken some sort of truth that even he wasn't aware of.

Swallowing dryly, Audrey slides Felix a narrow-eyed look as she shoulders past him towards the exit of the tent. "Ivanov, you're going to make me look the picture of perfect sanity." It's the only hint of amusement in her tone the entire time before she pulls open the crinkling plastic tent flap. "I want a list of their names anyway, every one of them you can remember. There's more than one way to skin a cat, and I have an ex-partner who owes me a few favors."

Stepping out of the tent, the plastic flap crinkles shut with a slap of the material and a crunch of Audrey's shoes over the ground outside. Here in the too-warm-for-comfort tent, amidst the whirring heater fans and the faint scent of burning plastic, Felix is left with the sensation of a dog being brought to obedience school.

But at least he and his partner are both dogs, in one shape or another.

Chasing that same car.

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