A Red Door



Also Featuring:

f_abby_icon.gif barbara_icon.gif cat2_icon.gif f_deckard_icon.gif f_eileen_icon.gif f_gabriel_icon.gif kira_icon.gif redhouse_icon.gif

Scene Title A Red Door
Synopsis No colors anymore.
Date September 8, 2020

An electric buzz emits from a box on a concrete wall and all the lights mounted in the ceiling flicker.

The box stops buzzing, the lights go back to normal and the moths circling around them return.

A scuffed metal door with a faded coat of red paint clicks with the disengagement of an automatic lock. It opens a moment after, and a man in a dark suit slowly enters from a lightless corridor.

Agent Gates stares vacantly ahead, a rectangular badge of black metal clipped to the lapel of his suit reflects an oil-sheen of chromatic colors under the fluorescent lighting.

Gates closes the door behind himself, then pauses and looks at his shoulder. There’s a drop of moisture soaking into the fabric, and Gates looks up at the ceiling where a rivulet of water follows a hairline crack in the concrete, collecting into a droplet. He stands there, transfixed as the droplet grows larger, wobbles, and eventually falls and lands in precisely the same spot on his shoulder.

Only then does Gates step away from the door.

The Nite Owl Diner

March 8th

Back tense and jaw set, the man seated with the diner door behind him looks disappointed. It's not in the stack of silver dollar pancakes and syrup in front of him, but rather the brunette seated across from him in the booth. Outside, cars roll by amidst a drizzling rain.

"He needs to know what to ask for to get his wishes answered," a young brunette whispers, keeping one hand under the diner table, brows furrowed and the one visible eye focused on the man across from her. It isn’t her bangs that are covering her eye, though. The long-haired brunette has an eye patch covering her left eye. The fur collar of her black techcoat along with her hair is spotted with rain.

"You do not need that gun, miss…" Situated across from the one-eyed girl, a stockily built man with shoulder-length gray hair sits in stoic defiance of the woman holding a pistol under the table at him. "Tell me who it is you seek… and I will show you how to find it. But this… you do not need a gun. My gift is for any who know of it, such is the way the world should be."

Scowling, the young woman clicks the hammer back on a gun under the table. "Less talk Redhouse, more answers." Practically snarling the brunette looks down to the menu laid out on the table, then nods her head suggestively towards it. Redhouse reaches slowly up to the front pocket of his flannel shirt, plucking out a pen from inside and turning it around.

Redhouse is slow to begin, just starting to scribble on the center of the menu before his eyes slowly fog over with milky white and his hand begins to move of its own volition. "The painted lady stands at the gates…" Redhouse murmurs as he begins to draw the outline of a woman, "she takes his hand and he asks her for the power to change all power. He invokes the name of the man of red lightning, red like blood, and…" Scribbling again, Redhouse begins drawing a man’s face on the woman's back, as if it were tattooed on her.

"And so she shows him. The painted lady shows him where the Power of Powers is… and…" Suddenly Redhouse stops, lays his pen down after sketching a hand and a face on the woman's back, then looks up to the woman with the eyepatch. "All is black."

Swallowing tensely, the brunette looks down to the picture, about to take it, but Redhouse suddenly and sharply grasps her hand. She isn't prepared for it, staring up at his milk white eyes as he takes his coffee, brings it over and purposefully puts a coffee ring on the menu's back.

"It is coming," Redhouse intones as his eyes begin to uncloud and his hand unwinds from the brunette girl's wrist. "Powerlessness is coming, Kira." When he calls her by name, Kira snatches the picture and bolts up from her seat, looking startled as she takes a few booted steps backwards.

Somewhere Outside Buffalo
New York

January 28

Folding his hands in front of his face, Thomas rests his chin on his knuckles, watching the two women with tired eyes. There's no artwork in this house as far as they can see, no paintings, no sketches, nothing.

"I haven't spoken to my daughter since she was a little girl.” Thomas says with a distant look in his eyes to the two women who have invaded the privacy of his home. “I left her when she was young, she never made the effort to reconnect with me. I don't much blame her…" Looking down to the table, Thomas reaches up to take off his cap, setting it down in front of himself, then rakes back his fingers through his white hair.

"That drawing, I did out of coercion. I don't much know what it is you saw," and he still seems dubious on that point, "but I didn't want to make it. This girl, younger than the both of you, came in and asked me to make a picture of someone who could help her find a man named Tyler Case. She knew I could… direct what I did, hell she knew what it was I did at all, even before Carlos did."

Sliding his tongue over his lips, Thomas looks worried, fretful; the past isn't a pleasant topic. "So I drew it for her. She didn't take it, and I threw the damned thing in the trash when I left. That girl held a gun at me under the table, and I still don't know to this day what it is she wanted or who that man was, or the woman with the tattoo on her back. But the chap that came in after she left…"

After she left incites a riot of notions from Barbara, about the end of the vision and the parts she hadn't seen. "A fellow who introduced himself as Samuel came in, looked at the picture and told me he recognized the woman in it. He called her Lydia. He thanked me for helping, and apologized for the girl's behavior. Then… they left. I never saw either of them again."

"Carlos," one of the women muses, "Mendez?” Catherine Chesterfield has a mind for these things; puzzles, mysteries, secrets. “These persons you encountered, we've had some dealings with them also. They made attempts to change past events, shape outcomes to their desires, and were defeated recently. Lydia and Samuel are known to us."

"Samuel Sullivan," the other woman in Thomas’ house grumbles. Barbara looks off to the side. "I never met the man, but I've heard of him, from a friend. He… well, he isn’t a good man. From what I heard, he was…" she stops, waving a hand dismissively. "It's complicated. Suffice to say, his actions recently apparently put many, many people in terrible risk." Barbara shakes her head, leaning back. "Tyler Case is a friend of mine. Still is, despite recent occurrences, but something… unfortunate’s happened to him."

"Carlos Mendez." Thomas concurs to Cat's earlier supposition, and it's a name familiar to Barbara. A friend of the Deveaux family, a friend of the Zimmerman's. One of the Company's founders, a wealthy businessman and strict father to his son Isaac. "He was my employer, back when I did comic book art. He had me doing covers for the 9th Wonders series…" Thomas shakes his head slowly. "I don't know whatever became of him after he closed Helix Comics down."

Sliding his tongue over his teeth, Thomas wrings his hands together. "I'm sorry I… don't know what you came here hoping to find, but I've been trying to put what I can do behind me. I haven't done anything for a year or so… and the last pieces I did, don't…" Thomas shakes his head, exhaling a heavy sigh.

"I apologize if you came here expecting to find the mysteries of the universe or… the future." Thomas' voice has a distant, disconnected quality to it. "There's nothing like that here."

"Our abilities are both blessing and curse," Cat quietly opines, with a sense of being haunted coming over her, "but I wouldn't dispose of mine for any price. We found you when we came across another piece of your art at a gallery in Greenwich Village, the owner told us where to find you, sir.”

Cat angles her head to the side, one dark brow rising slowly. “We don't expect to find all the mysteries of the universe, or the future, anywhere. At best, precognition offers a road sign about something to come, and often raises more questions than it answers, but I'm here to tell you signs of that nature have been read and used to stop some very dire events from unfolding. Focused attention on such matters, made people prepared to act." She pauses here to mull over something the man said briefly.

Then she follows that pattern of thought. "What you will or won't show us, sir, is up to you. Perhaps what your last pieces show don't make sense to you, but they may to others. I'm interested in seeing them."

“Carlos Mendez worked with some people my father used to." Barbara says after a moment of thought. "I… came here hoping mostly for a bit more information about the drawing, but I knew it might be a longshot. What you have told us is more than we started with, so the trip has been worth it. I didn't know the woman in the picture was this… Lydia. So, I thank you fo that." She looks over at Cat, frowning a bit. "We're not asking you to show or tell us anything else, unless you desire to. Otherwise we can be on our way."

There's something challenging that comes over Redhouse's expression. "You want to see?" There’s frustration in his voice as he lifts both hands up from the table, and slowly pushes himself up to stand. "Fine, maybe you can make more sense of them than I ever could…"

Stepping away from his chair, Thomas offers a looks to his dog Juno, who has laid herself down atop one of the forced-air heating vents in the floor, chin on her paws and eyes alight as if to say don't make me get up, please. There's the faintest hint of a smile on the weary old man's lips, before he turns towards a back door out of the kitchen.

Hesitation isn't a thing that happens here, Cat rises to her feet and follows the aged native to his workshop. Barbara looks a bit suprised, both as Redhouse reluctantly agrees to let them see the paintings, as well as when Cat shows no hesitation in following.

"I don't want to improse," Barbara says, grimacing as she starts after Cat with a curious look on her face.

"They're in my workshop," Thomas murmurs, walking towards a closed door down a short, narrow hall. He doesn't wait for either woman to catch up, and seems in some small measure excited to perhaps get another perspective on the last things he painted before giving up the ghost on his work.

It's dark through the door, dark and cold. No heat has been on in here and both Barbara and Cat can feel the cold air radiating out of the room. Fumbling around in the dark, Thomas searches for the light switch.

Cat closes the front of her parka and raises her hood again on contact with cold air. Thomas finally finds the light switch.

"No imposing here…" Thomas intones, revealing the small and cluttered studio consisting of a few easels folded up and set up against a wall. Shelving filled with old cans and bottles of paint, brushes, pencils. A drafting table covered with boxes sits unused, a few pencil boards and old sketches of vintage 9th Wonders covers sit wrinkled and collecting dust.

Leaning up against one wall, there's several cloth covered canvases, five in total. As Thomas moves over to them, he starts pulling them out one by one and leaning them up against the shelves. But what he reveals to Cat and Barbara isn't like anything either of the women had seen or heard of before.

"I made these two days after the explosion in Midtown… I was angry, emotional.” Thomas continues lining the paintings up. “When I paint… I ask a question of myself, to… focus my work. I usually try to keep my work settled on the short term, but I wanted to see what was out there— I wanted to paint a picture of hope for the future."

Looking up to Cat and Barbara, Thomas moves away from the paintings, his expression as haunted as it was the day he made these five pieces; his final pieces.

Five black canvases are all Thomas Redhouse painted that day.

"All I painted was black…"

"Nothing but black."

Somewhere in Manhattan
New York City

April 21st

The Bright Timeline

Upstairs is quiet. No music from an empty child’s bedroom room, no real noise from the closed door to the attic. The couple of knocks Flint Deckard spares for the privacy of the attic’s occupant go completely ignored and there's a faint shuffle of movement behind the wooden barrier. Lamp light is what greets Deckard when he goes to open the door, and further ignoring.

The attic looks as old as the house it belongs to, with exposed rafters and moths circling a single shadeless light bulb dangling from the ceiling. The wooden floors are flecked with paint, boxes in a perpetual state of storage crammed aside, and the ticking of clocks rotating in perfect tandem along the walls.

Gabriel Gray's own special sanctuary.

The smell of paint is the first sensation, a mild scent that overrides the mustiness. The radio is switched on and doesn't manage to fill the room with even tinny sounds, the volume reduced to a whisper. Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash twangs out.

"Normally I try not to go all Oprah on people I actually like,” Deckard says halfway into the room, “but do you think maybe you might have forgotten to— " his eyes recolor themselves against yellow lamp light, natural blue cleansing bloodless grey as they widen and take in the surroundings with visible concern.

Every canvas board Gabriel owns has been uncovered, opened, laid out. Three easels have been set out, three paintings occupying them, but it's apparently not enough, canvases laid out on any available surface, propped against boxes, against larger clocks, strewn on the floor. And every single one of them glimmers with fresh paint, of exactly one colour.


The same inky colour is spattered on Gabriel's arms, bared from his shirt sleeves rolled up past his elbows, as he feverishly draws a paintbrush over the one canvas laid in front of him on the floor, the erstwhile serial killer kneeling in front of it. There's actually a swatch of red in the middle of it, oblong and precise, but it's next to gone in the subsequent moment as he smears a loaded paintbrush of ebony over it, again and again until it's swallowed up in tar.

Even as the door opens to Deckard's lanky silhouette, Gabriel makes no response, no acknowledgement, and this time, it's not due to pretending like he doesn't know. That's a game he only plays with Eileen. He simply doesn't. In defiance of the pitch black of his numerous paintings, his eyes have gone milky white like a blind man's, and his expression is serene as he works

and works

and works.

Deckard nudges the door mostly closed behind him with a bump of his elbow, slow strides creaking across exposed slats underfoot until he's next to the kneeling form of Gabriel, white-eyed and en absentia while he works, works and works. And Johnny Cash burns, burns, burns.

Cold glass lifted to the flat line of his mouth, Deckard sips his drink.

"I got dead people walking and talking in my living room.” He says casually to the prophet in his house. “Same goes for Elisabeth at Dorchester, and Cat's got a few over in the Village." One of his eyes twitches. "Helena, Alexander, Norton, Isabelle, Jessica which means there's Niki as well. Lucrezia, a company agent called Elle Bishop and there's another Django? I never saw him before.”

No reaction.

Gabriel doesn't stop until the square of white before him is covered with that inky sheen and the canvas is shoved aside. The wooden floor is spattered with black. Gabriel does not break from his trance as he should, eyes still blind-white, getting to his feet and utterly ignoring Deckard as he moves past him, picking up one of two remaining canvases, resuming his kneeling in the center of the ground and dragging his paints closer.

First it's the red. A rectangle. Some detail. A door. Then, with much less grace, it's the black again, smearing in arcs to cover the white and red with eternity. Gabriel is dressed for dinner, in black slacks, shiny shoes, a blue dress shirt, and a black smear of paint has coursed over his face at some point. He doesn't seem panicked, calm and lost as he works, though his hands work desperately, as if there wasn't enough time to fill in blank space with blackness.

Now this canvas is shoved aside. When it's done his hands search out, as if he were possessed, for the next. The clocks tick together, and Deckard spots the parts of an abandoned gramophone spread out amongst jars of paint and water.

"Ominous," Deckard notes with an air of self-effacing satire, rough voice muffled into the cheerful resettlement of melting ice in his glass. Red rectangle on a field of white, then black, black, black. Over and over.

He stays where he is, watching for longer than he should. It's fascinating. There is also a sick brand of satisfaction to be relished in witnessing an unnatural manifestation of what he had up to this point only assumed was true. One last sip and he finds a box to set his glass down on. Depending on how deep in he is, he might need both hands.

"Gabriel.” Deckard says, unblinking.

There's a minor hesitation when Deckard says his name, a hitch in the strokes of a paint brush and a slightly distracted tilt to his head, but that's about it, his work resumed half that fleeting half-second. Fine paint drops jump out from a hasty flick of the thick paint brush, just near Deckard's shoes, as Gabriel applies the substance to what remains of the white canvas, filling in the space with rosey shapes of darkness until there's nothing more to see, right up to the edges. The container of thick black paint is running low, but there's more where it comes from and he doesn't ration it out, using as much as necessary.

Deckard scrubs a hand up over his scraggly beard and then more roughly back over the top of his head.

"Gabe. Gabriel.” There’s an urgency in Deckard’s voice now. “Christ, you're really great at fucking yourself over for someone with godlike influence over everything ever." There's a wince when he stoops to brace a hand at the younger man's shoulder. It takes a stupid bear to fall asleep in the middle of hiding the end of the world from his wife with incriminating evidence all over the place. It takes an even stupider park ranger to try to shake it awake again. Deckard shakes anyway. "Hey!"

Jostling delays the motions of painting, but does not stop it. Those who have encountered the late Isaac Mendez and Peter Petrelli will know the frustration, and even as Gabriel does pause, paint brush finding only air as Deckard shakes him, his face turning up towards the other man's, his eyes don't bleed brown again. He doesn't even blink. Not hearing the sounds of footsteps or the inevitable squeak of door hinges Gabriel, zombie-like, twitches away from Deckard's grip with mundane strength and attempts to resume.

Deckard exhales a frustrated breath through his teeth and throws his hands up without much energy and turns quickly away to pick out the nearest wet painting. Fingers curled carefully under the nearest edge he nudges another tipped up painting flat with his foot and drops the first down onto the second, black face to black face. The process is repeated with some urgency — two more paintings rendered inert, black to black, before he lifts a fifth and thinks to glance downstairs through the floor with an electric crackle of neon blue eyes.

Painting in hand, brows knit, Deckard swings his glowing stare back around to the cracked door. That’s when he sees them standing there, right where he wishes they weren’t.

Abigail Deckard’s blonde head pokes around the doorway, downright confusion painted on her face. "Flint Deckard, what are you doing?"

The other woman in the doorway pauses with a hand on the frame, gray eyes fixed past Deckard to her husband. Eileen could ask the same question, but a cursory examination of the attic's current state raises dozens of others. She looks from Gabriel, to Deckard, to the sandwiched paintings and then back to Gabriel again, with realization dawning brighter with every prolonged moment that passes.

Wordlessly, Eileen releases her gentle hold on Abigail's arm and steps away from her, drawn toward the figure of her own husband, brush still in hand. They've been through this before, and Eileen knows it doesn't get any easier over time — there are very few things that will snap Gabriel out of a trance as intense as the one he's presently trapped in. She insinuates herself between Gabriel and his canvas with practiced ease, both hands moving to roughly seize his wrists as she presses against the broad barrel of his chest and forces him back.

The first thing that tenses is his grip on the brush, Gabriel's body easily moved even by Eileen's smaller frame as he's pushed back from his painting, eyes wide and sightless still. He makes no noise of protest, although his breathing comes out a little more rushed as he's forced back from his work, other hand moving to blindly fight back, if without particular zeal. His paint-soaked hands make greasy, smoky streaks on her arms, her clothing.

Swallowing audibly, Deckard looks from the Grays to Abby. "Holding a painting," is his response an awkward amount of time after the rhetorical question was asked.

"Holding a painting," Abby says with a click of her tongue. “Trying to hide the paintings is more like it.” She creeps forward past Deckard and reaches out to touch Gabriel's hand. A soft, white light emits from her fingertip in a tiny pulse of healing warmth. "Eileen, what do you need Deckard and I to do?".

For now, Eileen ignores the smears of paint glistening on her long, bare arms and the front of her clothes, her focus squared solely on the man standing in front of her. "Flint has the right idea," she grinds out through gritted teeth as she pries the brush from Gabriel's fingers, "turn them around, put the canvases away. He can't paint if he doesn't have anything to paint on."

"Sylar," Eileen hisses as she turns back to Gabriel, voice suddenly very hoarse and very low, "Sylar, it's Eileen. Munin. Come back to me."

For the first time, Gabriel makes a noise. It's almost a growl, brief and helpless, when the brush is twisted from oily fingers and discarded, wrists trapped once more by Eileen's determined clasp. Gabriel's hands jerk blindly against her in some half-hearted attempt at freedom, but finally… his head tips down as if hearing her voice, mouth parted in silent reply, and then eyes flicker.

Pinpoints of black appear in the blank white of his eyes, amber-brown circles blossoming from there, unfocused at first and panicked. Gabriel takes a breath as if he hasn't been doing so properly for as long as he's been up here, and his sight settles on her face. A trace of fear there, fleeting.

"I got stuck," Gabriel says, breathlessly. It’s only then that he sees Abby and Flint, completely bewildered, and lastly, a nearby clockface. The time. He's been painting for—far too long.

Deckard hesitates a moment before he extends his arm and lets the canvas clatter face down onto the back of its nearest brother. Still, he says nothing, rooted awkwardly to the spot with black-smudged hands held slightly away from his sides while he glances from Abby to the Grays.

Abigail stands there in awkward silence, watching. "Are we all better now?" Each of her words is cautious and drawn out as if they each had a question mark at the end.

But better is one of those subjective words. Sticky and without real meaning even when it's applied to something. Eileen slides Deckard and Abigail a grateful look over Gabriel's shoulder as she lets go of his wrists and moves her hands to his face so she can brush away an errant curl of hair, leaving an ebon smudge across his brow in the process. She sees that fear. Recognizes it. Knows it. She's feeling something similar, heavy like lead in the pit of her stomach.

"Just as soon as we get cleaned up," Eileen says. Because there isn't a person in the room without a spot of paint on them.

Gabriel's jaw clenches, gaze flicking to Eileen's when he feels her hand touch his brow, stepping back from her and looking down at his hands duskily coated in paint. Towards the stack of canvases, the black splashes everywhere.

His hands raise as if to touch his face, before he hesitates, a snort of irritation at the sight of his own dirty hands, managing just barely not to. "Excuse me," Gabriel mutters, not meeting anyone's eyes as he makes a hasty exit for the door.

He'd like to wash black off his hands.

Geographic Region Redacted

September 8th

Walking down a concrete corridor, Agent Gates carries a steady pace with an even click of his heels on the floor with each step. A pianist could use his walking cadence as a metronome were they so inclined. As Gates passes under each of the hanging lights, they one by one flicker out for a moment, only to return once he has passed.

Moths flutter and flap their wings, creating blurry shadows on the walls and floor as they swim around the lights.

Tall glass windows line the corridor Gates strides down, each of them rising from floor to ceiling and view into a two foot deep recession in the wall where a canvas is hung in the middle of the wall.. No two of the canvases are the same size or shape, but they all maintain commonality:

They are all black.

The paintings have no details, no images, no depictions of any kind except that they are exclusively and uniformly painted black. The brush strokes are always different, some of them are acrylic, some oil, others using non-paint mediums. But all of them are featureless, black things.

At the end of the hall, Gates reaches another door of scuffed, water-stained metal and grips the handle. A buzz echoes from the other side of the door and the lights to the hall all shut off at once. Gates turns the handle and steps into the room, lit flickering fluorescent lights in the ceiling.

He steps inside, a droplet of water hitting him on the shoulder. He turns, looks down to the spot of moisture soaking into the fabric and shuts the door.

There is a single word painted on the door, crisp lines of black on red. As much a description as a warning.


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