Folie à Deux


danko3_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif

Scene Title Folie à Deux
Synopsis Or: a madness shared by two. Danko and Eileen finally come to blows.
Date February 28, 2010

Danko's Apartment

The wood-floored apartment is dominated by its negative spaces and defined in shades of black, white and grey, from lank curtains to vacant bookshelves to the paint spread uniform on every wall. Tall ceilings and wide windows offer a view equal parts soft park snow and Midtown desolation — the only part of this setting with some life to it, broken as it is.

A white wood-paneled fireplace supports only a single black lamp; there are no photographs. No books, no globes, no personal belongings at all. Filler is similarly scarce on shelves and in drawers. Here is a spare shoulder holster; there, an unmounted rifle scope. In the living room, a lonely pair of rectangular prisms stand silent and grey on a shelf they have all to themselves. If they have a purpose, it is a mystery.

There is furniture. A single black leather couch on a grey rug in the living room looks like it hasn't seen much use. Before the largest window, amidst a squat collection of cardboard dell boxes, a minimalist computer desk is host to a single chair and three slender monitors. One bedroom has a grey bed and black clothing in the closet. The other has a gunsafe.

The overall impression is one of spartan minimalism. It looks more like a surrealist art installation than a dwelling, and were it not for the fact that the sink's a little damp beyond the lifeless drape of a black robe, it could've been months since anyone's been in here.

There's also the computer, which betrays recent and current activity in the revolving flicker of surveillance through its screens. A camera mounted somewhere near the apartment building's entrance occasionally relays the coming and going of visitors through the lobby some twenty or thirty stories down. Another relays the living room back to itself in black and white. Still another seems to be extracting stories of interest from the media and compiling them into files sorted by degree of relevance. Evolved. Mutant. Whitney, Chesterfield, Sumter, FRONTLINE, and so on.

A lone dresser in the bedroom yields a pair of identical wallets with different identities. The yield from the Dell boxes is more impressive: print outs and news clippings, file folders and names, names, names. More than anyone would hope (or pray) the man who makes his home here would have access to.

Strychnine isn't hard to get ahold of, and while the thought has crossed Eileen's mind many times since Danko showed up at the wake, she isn't here to poison his food or any of the medication she might find in the bathroom's medicine cabinet. She's dressed in various shades of gray that the apartment's tenant would likely appreciate rather than black; after a certain time of day when the sun is behind the clouds and stars have begin to appear in the purpling sky, it doesn't matter whether you wear slate, charcoal or something darker still. Shadows are shadows no matter what their tone, and Eileen was very careful to ensure that no one witnessed her enter the apartment. If she's lucky, then no one will catch her leaving, either.

Her relationship with computers is such that she eschewed the desktop in favour of investigating the contents of the cardboard boxes, which is what she's in the process of doing right now under the sallow light of the bedroom, all three wallets laid out on the bed along with the paperwork she's sorting through. Small hands gloved in leather prevent her from leaving fingerprints on anything as she works. Her pea coat is worn open, shoulder holster and pistol readily accessible in case she hears a key turning in the lock sooner than it should.

She's in no position to steal anything. Instead, she's been taking digital snapshots with a camera on loan from Raith that fills the apartment with sporadic flashes of light at irregular intervals visible from the street even with the curtains drawn.

The plan was to be in and out in twenty minutes. She's pushing eighteen.

What is inevitability if not inevitable?

Brass on brass, a key turns in the lock; the door opens. The alarms sounds mildly, if matter-of-factly after a digital chirrup of polite warning:

Front door open.

It slices off with a clipped shut of the door as abruptly as it began, and for ears turned to radar dishes with the pump and surge of adrenaline, a slow-drawn breath steels out the trespasser before the scuff of black metal over nylon that marks a weapon drawn in the semi-dark.

Brows hooded over deep-set eyes, peacoat still damp with melting snow, Danko waits.

She should have drawn the line at ten.

Eileen pockets the camera in her coat and trades it for her own weapon, heavy in the seat of her hand. There's an open bedroom door and the length of floor that spans between it and the apartment's entryway to separate her from Danko, and in the grand scheme of things — despite how small they both are — that isn't very much.

Her first instinct is to flick off the light and plunge the apartment into complete darkness, leaving only the glow of the street lamps bleeding in from the outside to illuminate their surroundings, but Danko knows this environment much better than she does.

She takes a step back away from the bed and spread of paperwork slathered across the covers, producing a low creaking noise that sounds like it could be coming from anywhere. Another puts her behind the door.

Light's on in the bedroom, computer's still running, windows are closed. This Danko can see in his soundless creep through the entryway, gun pointed stiff and cold at the head of his investigation. Boxes have been moved — the floor creaks painfully underfoot — and one's missing completely. Nobody in the kitchen. A careful nudge reveals no one in the spare bedroom, or the bathroom outside've it.

Narrowing down the least likely possibilities one by one takes time, but there are only so many doors to look behind and he's more patient than most would give him credit for. S'just another part of hunting.

His voice precedes him down the short hallway to the bedroom, through the open door and into sickly yellow light reflected dull off documents he's seen before. They're his, afterall.

"See anything you like?"

Eileen's safety is off, and even if it wasn't the sound it makes when she slides her thumb over it is barely audible. She keeps her wrists straight to absorb the gun's recoil in case she has to fire it and thumbs locked downward, weapon held out in front of her with the crease of her hooked index finger resting on the trigger as she steps out into view.

Colette Nichols can make herself invisible. Sylar is capable of transforming himself into a cloud of energy that resembles ink and can diffuse through air as easily as something shot from a squid through water. Eileen's ability, practical though it is, has very few applications in this situation. Outside, a monstrous black bird with dagger beak lifts off the bedroom's windowsill with two powerful thrusts of its wings.

Green eyes fix on gray. If her physical presence in Danko's apartment wasn't insolent enough, she's also imbuing it with her smell: stringent smoke and cheap tobacco worn over Turkish rose oil and cedarwood perfume compounded by sweat and the chilled rainwater clinging to her stringy hair and bleak-coloured clothes.

At least she isn't wearing a flower this time.

Danko goes rigid, gun hefted higher still and hollow irritation set in cold stone through the haunted mask of his face. He doesn't look much better than he did when she saw him last with recent bruising blotched dark and uneven across the left side of his hollow face, but shadow's always been kinder to him than light, and he lingers in the hallway's gloom as something disinclined to resolve itself into any one solid shape. He's the thing under the bed and behind the closet door, in the woods and the corn fields and on long lonely stretches of back road in the dark.

Tongue wetted out over his teeth, nose wrinkled against a fidgety itch, he settles his weight back a touch and eventually knits his brow.

Then he pulls the trigger.

A nickel-sized hole flits through the window; the raven on the far side spluts and rolls slackly over itself in midair. It's a long way to the sidewalk.

The sound Eileen makes is haggard and wet, a half-gasp, half-scream sucked in through her mouth that strangles any other noise she might be trying to create. Her back connects with the wall, creating a loud thump that resonates through the apartment and alerts the neighbors to the fact that something is happening on just the other side, but it's unlikely the people who live next door to Danko have any inclination to investigate.

This is New York City. There's nothing too amiss about the scrape produced by her shoulders dragging down plaster as her legs start to go out from under her, then lock at the knee, preventing the Englishwoman from crumpling to the bedroom floor in shock.

Her finger contracts around the pistol's trigger and blows a hole in the wall behind Danko's moldy peachfuzz head. The second takes a chunk out of the doorframe. She might not have missed if she wasn't reeling as though she'd been shot herself.

Indeed, the neighbors are well-advised of Danko's career in special effects and sound mixing, and likely grateful for the discounted rate of their rent for any missed sleep or disturbed prime time television.

But he doesn't fire again and neither does she. Undeterred by shots already squeezed off, even in such close proximity to his fuzzy head he ducks and jags in at an angle to snatch the gun from her hands, heedless of its landing when he slings it off sideways onto the bed and shoves her hard back into the wall she's already against. From there, things happen quickly and with fluid, to the point precision. He puts her on the floor with a knee ground in bony between her shoulderblades once she's there, left hand clawed open across the back of her head to mash her face too hard to the floor.

As for where his own gun's gotten off to, a dull gleam somewhere back in the hallway marks its still-settling presence out've a drifty spin on the floor. All alone.

In the next suite over, a couple bickers over whether or not to call in a complaint about the noise pollution over their evening coffee and American Idol.

Eileen's mouth leaves a red smear on the wooden slats that has nothing to do with the lipstick she may or may not be wearing. That's blood — not a lot of it, but there's some gathering in her nose too. These things happen in cold weather or environments with low humidity. Also when someone is shoving your face into their floorboards with enough force to split your lip and make your tongue taste metal.

The couple next door needn't have cause for concern; the thunderous roar of applause from the audience followed by Simon Cowell's sneering commentary easily drowns out the shallow hiss of Eileen's breathing. A year or so ago, she might have stilled beneath him and submitted to whatever punishment her former teammate might see fit to dole out, but as times change so do the people struggling to endure through them.

Her arms are still free. Hand balled into a fist, she punctuates the next breath she expels with a backwards elbow jab to Danko's ribs that comes sharply up from beneath.

Held breath puffs out of Danko's lungs in a stale blast when an elbow lunges sharp through the poke of his ribs, sunken face clenched into a wince under the colorless bristle of his burr. "Bitch." Maybe he's still a little off his game; not quite up to snuff. Unfortunately, for whatever physical ails he's having to account for, his problem-solving skills remain in fine working order. The larger of his two pocket blades is off his belt, swept open and spiked down through the palm at the end of that offending arm and well down into the floor faster than it could've possibly taken him to think it through. She still has freedom to wiggle around on that side, but he keeps his knives sharp and it doesn't take much to weedle the cutting edge deeper through the skin and muscle it's already in.

A wheezey, whistling smoker's cough later, he's catching at the one've her wrists that isn't caught up like a butterfly under a frame, her head left momentarily unmolested so he can get out the second knife to go with it.

It's smaller. More slender.

Probably used for things other than killing people or self-defense.

"I'm under orders," he starts, venom making it nearly hard to talk as the fact that he's still breathing pretty hard, "to leave you alive. But they didn't get much more specific than that."

The blade of Danko's larger knife is wedged between two metacarpal bones that Eileen — under different circumstances — would easily be able to identify if presented with an unlabeled diagram depicting the anatomy of a human hand. As it happens, she's in so much agony by the time he's pulling out the second weapon and maneuvering it between his fingers that she's largely oblivious to the scientific names belonging to anything.

Corvus brachyrhynchos: dead on the pavement.

Bronchospasm: the cause of her ragged gasping in between the low sounds of pain that her body is involuntarily making.

Sensory nerves: on fire.

That hurts. A lot. The only benefit to having her arm bent behind her back and captured by its wrist is that it gives her room to thrust up her chin and steer a wild look over her shoulder at what Danko is doing. She spits out what's either a curse or a plea through her front teeth, jaw clenched so hard against the pain that it renders her snarling speech indecipherable. Whatever her words, they're messy. Desperate.

Blade and grip scissor into a tumble through his knuckles that balances quickly enough at the brace of his right thumb. Most of his weight's still pinning her to the floor when he finally locks down a vice grip on her unpinned wrist and fans her fingers out with a twitch of his own, grey eyes ticked up to mark hers at a damp cement remove reminecscent of the sidewalk her feathered friend's sparking out its last neurons on.

Haggard and bruised, he's officially in control now and he damn well knows it, adrenaline fire swamped out of his stare by something altogether slurrier and more malicious. Humans can't actually smell fear, but there's more to instinct than stink alone and he has a pretty solid grasp on what he's looking at here. At least, he thinks he does.

In any case, her hand's at his mercy, and with the bird gone, there's little to stop him turning his attention back to it to ease his steady knife tip down under the leading edge of her index fingernail while his mouth works itself into an irritable, impatient line. "How did you find me?"

The name Epstein is forming behind Eileen's teeth within seconds, but there's a moment of hesitation in which she clamps down on it before it has the opportunity to make a sibilant departure from her mouth. Even though she told Teodoro that the chances of Gabriel continuing to use him as a cover were slim to non-existent, their value is not absolute and this is not a risk that she's willing to take even with all the resentment that's been stewing anxiously in her gut since he came for her in her apartment.

"Holliswood," she chokes instead, the blood in her mouth mingling with the tears leaving tracks down her cheeks and gathering in the raw space between her lips. "Your address— on file—"

"Bullshit," drawled out without much consideration in tone for the fact that he's riding a girl 2/5 his age into the nice wood floor of his bedroom while he makes a scientific study of gradual increases in pressure as they relate to his knife and the quik of her first fingernail, he wrassles her hand in a little closer to his chest to better restrict movement there while he plies around for nerves. And answers.

From the look on his face, he's concentrating pretty hard. The way people do when threading a needle or cutting out lacy paper doilies just so. Evidently it's been a while since he's tried to employ this particular technique. It's fairly straightforward but a little delicate for his liking all the same.

The knife point digs deeper still, gradually splitting and displacing while he still has patience enough to bother keeping her finger attached to poke at all. It's not all that many seconds before he gives up and straight pops the entire nail off to start on the next one. Jeez. Fuck it. He still has nine more chances and all night to get it right, technically.

"What do you feel like you owe them? They voted to…voted…" poke, poke, breathe, "to let me go. Live another day to pick you off like feral dogs." And that's when his phone rings. Buzz buzz, buzz buzz, and a generic default jingle that sounds awkwardly past the hoarse rasp of his breathing. He pauses; tilts his head.

Eileen's bloodied fingernail goes skittering across the floorboards and wedges itself between two slats under the bed, its deep carmine polish indistinguishable from the glutinous fluid sticking tacky to it. The ringing of the phone sounds like it's coming from very far away and drones hollow in the Englishwoman's ears. Her head is swimming, the corners of her vision clouding over with a strange amalgamation of darkness and sticky tears that glue her eyelashes together and form an adhesive seal she has to blink furiously away.

It spares her the indignity of fumbling for a better answer, at least for the time being. Apart from the television's tinny crackle seeping through the wall — is that I Dreamed a Dream from Les Mis? — and the irregular intake and subsequent exhalation of their combined breath, the apartment is very quiet.

This is usually the part where she'd be fixing him with a mildly inquisitive look as if to ask him whether or not he's going to answer it. A violent shudder passes through her frame in its place.

With both hands occupied and what few phone calls Danko receives these days generally not from the kinds of people he wants to ignore, the littlest terrorist has to think quickly again. Not a problem.

The knife is pulled back and poked blandly down into her back between two ribs. That the knife isn't more'n a couple've inches long and there are no desperately important organs to be punctured in the relevant position are probably not coincidences. Meanwhile he scuffs his bloodied hand semi-clean down the back of her coat and carefully extracts the phone from his pocket to flip it open with a squint and an obscenely mild, "Hullo?"

Like he got caught with his hands wet in the sink washing dishes.

There's a silence and his end of the line while he listens to the masculine drone of a deeper voice on the other end, then: "Funny you should ask." More pause. More talking on the other end, and he shifts the phone up onto his shoulder to feel for a pulse at her neck instead, left hand still wrapped firm around her wrenched wrist. His fingers are cold.

Eileen's pulse flutters against Danko's fingers. She's very much alive and in part thanks to the placement of the blade stuck between her ribs. Her gratitude comes in the form of a subdued moan that may or may not be audible to the person on the other end of the line depending on the quality of the phone in his hand and its reception.

Consciousness is starting to become somewhat elusive; fear that she might not come to again if she succumbs is a powerful incentive not to black out. Adrenaline helps, too.

Blood soaks through the material of her coat and whatever it is she's wearing beneath it, appearing as a stain one or two shades darker than the charcoal material it's made from. Like a sponge, it absorbs most of the warm fluid and protects his floorboards from becoming more soiled than they already are. A little spackling paste to cover the hole she blew in his wall and he might even get his security deposit back if he can figure out a solution for the chunk missing from his doorframe.

Thok is the sound of something glancing off the bedroom window.

"Look — your bitch is here now, asshole. I caught her red handed. If you want her alive," Danko takes his hand away from her to measure out a pocket watch slipped loose of his coat, "you have ten minutes to get here and take her off my property before I make a mess you can't clean up."


The phone folds end to end, and that's the end of that. With a wary, silvery-eyed glance sideways to the offending window, Danko tosses it up onto the bed with her gun and gets back to fishing in his pockets. This time for a pair of zip ties to fasten her wrists quietly behind her back with once he's jerked the knife out've her palm.

Eileen is not processing the information her senses are providing her with the efficiency that she normally does. Her ability isn't of much help, either; on the other side of the glass, a dazed pigeon with a twisted wing perches awkwardly on the sill's concrete lip, its clawed toes leaving marks in the blood spatter left by the dead bird splayed out on the street much the same way Eileen is on the floor.

Two more come to settle nearby, and if it weren't for the ultimatum Danko just delivered, it's possible that they'd be throwing themselves against the glass in an attempt to break it just like the first one to arrive did.

There aren't many people who could have been on the other end of the line. There are even fewer who she wants to speak with. In stubborn defiance, her mangled hand leaves a squeaky mark across the floor when she tries to use it to lever herself up. Doesn't work.

Behind her, Danko's mind has changed tracks. That its capable of doing so at all in such a situation is likely a testament to effective conditioning, but he's not deliberately hurting her anymore so much as he's packing her up like a piece of cargo to be transferred out of his custody and shipped out. Once her wrists are plastic-tied together, he hooks his grip up under the makeshift cuffs and starts dragging.

Out of the bedroom, through the hall, across the entryway and into the kitchen, which looks pretty much exactly like every other room in this place. Some shuffling in the refrigerator after he's dropped her and glanced uneasily back at the window (and its birds) later, he's extracted a wicked-looking syringe from a box of 'baking soda' near the back and tapped out the needle. Said needle's inserted into the back of her neck, dose measured out with more care for her small stature than it looks like — not that she's in much've a position to worry herself over his technique.

Doesn't take long at all for the world to soften and go grey around the edges, but just in case, he gives her a stout little kick in the side of the head to help the process along once he's straightened up out've his crouch. "Next time I catch you or one of your friends in here, I'm gonna pull the trigger and chalk it up to self defense."

If Eileen hears or acknowledges Danko's warning, she gives no outward indication except to roll her eyes back into her head. His boot to the temple dislodges her feeble grasp on consciousness and sends her plummeting; there is no amount of willpower in the world capable of combating the potent cocktail of drugs dispersing through her system.

Apparently safe, momentarily, Danko scrubs his blood-smudged hand over his face once he's watched her go, stuffy sinuses snuffed and navy coat shrugged back into a more level sit on his narrow shoulders. Won't be long and she'll be someone else's problem.

Annoyance creases back through his brow once he's had a minute or two to lean back against the kitchen counter and catch his breath. Back in his bedroom, the phone's ringing again, but he leaves it. Content for now to stand and watch her sleep at his feet, a tenuous thread of loyalty away from death.

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