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Scene Title Accommodating
Synopsis After their failed attempt to tail Felix Ivanov, Sylar and Munin meet up with Wu-Long at the storage facility where Jennifer Childs is being kept. The men discuss business while bao-bei changes her bandages and washes up in the adjacent bathroom.
Date November 18, 2008

New York City, Somewhere on the Waterfront

The sea is less pretty at night, primarily because you can't see it. Midtown was aptly named, and the coast on the same latitudinal level of the ruins suffers from most of the same shortages. Of people, primarily. No city skyline illuminates the Hudson river here anymore, no massive neon brand name signs or mosaiqued forty-story decorative Christmas lights reflected upside-down on her surface.

There's only a gibbous moon, a powdering of stars coughed through the clouds around it, barely detailing the wrinkles of salt water at night. It would probably comfort Jennifer Childs if she could see it, but she hasn't seen anything but the striated rusted walls of her shipping container for the past few weeks. Caraway got off shift an hour ago, Everett's still watching the camera feed, and Wu-Long has been here for only two.

He has a chair on top of her box-shaped prison, high enough to watch the Hudson through the windows of the storage facility, rifle in his hands and nothing in his face. The wharf once shifted a lot of cargo. Tonight, it sits quiescent, breathing on the Chinese man's face through its paneless maw. Jennifer thinks he's left. She has finally stopped crying, having long since acquainted herself with the realization that there is no one to hear her.

It's a path Sylar knows well - not assigned to watching Jenny Childs like some other members of the Vanguard though he has, on occasion, alleviated some from their shifts. Nonetheless, he had helped drag her down here not so long ago, really. Well, a long time for her, most certainly - time must crawl inside a shipment container.

Approaching the facility, the locks unlock on their seeming own accord before Sylar can touch the doors to open them, going first rather than offer Munin the first step - just in case someone gets a little trigger happy at the invasion, but he's rather sure the man inside is smarter than that. Dressed all in black, as if to remain consistent, Sylar fits in well with the shadows of the place as he peers inside, easily spotting Wu-Long, the corner of his mouth twisting up in a smirk when he sees the man's perch.

"How is she?" he asks, gently, listening to the soft sound of a heartbeat within the container.

The cigarette cherry flares a diminutive orange coruscation of heat and light before it flakes off, pale particles hitting the leather of Wu-Long's coat. He exhales, smoke veiling his still-tanned face even as he casts a wave across the vacuous floor. Stands up, still looking down, gunmetal clicking gently in his grip, never one to be discourteous.

Climbing to the ground would seem like a seamless, instantaneous feat to civilian eyes, their neural connectivity unaccustomed to having to construct continuity between the frames of reflexes as rapid as his. To Munin and Sylar, however, the flicker is visible. Mass transitioning to a matrix of energy, gathering itself, pushing a long leap off the edge of Jennifer's metal hovel; coalescing a fragment of a second before he lands on the cold-blistered concrete across from them.

Leather slaps, slithers to a stop. "Intact," is the reply. His tone hints wry bemusement at the style of the query more than the question itself, as Wu-Long leans the rifle over his right shoulder. "You don't need to worry. Is something wrong?" No segue divides statement and inquiry. The whites of his eyes look blue when he turns his eyes to the girl. She's been gone awhile. Bao bei.

"Not wrong," Sylar says, and though he'd remained fixed on watching Wu-Long's transformation, his gaze tears away from the other man, towards the box-like cage the woman is no doubt trapped within. Perhaps asleep, because sleep has to come eventually, but she's not making a sound even with voices now echoing through the facility, as quiet as they may be. "But not right either."

He takes a few steps towards the container, scuffed shoes scraping the gritty dirt against concrete underfoot. "I don't think what you and Ethan are trying to do here is going to be very fruitful," he says. "I think you all overestimated Gillian's affection for her sister, but then again, you did urge her towards a group we're now making look like a pack of ruthless villains." In other words, like the Vanguard.

The storage facility isn't the warmest or the cleanliness of the Vanguard's haunts, but Munin has had a long day and is beginning to resent the clothes on her back almost as much as the bandages beneath them. Her pale skin, slick with a greasy combination of rainwater and sweat, shimmers in the faint light, making her appear even more tired and sickly than she really is, so it probably isn't very difficult to imagine what she feels like under her peacoat and sweater. As the men speak and Sylar moves toward the container, she turns her back to them and begins to remove her jacket, leather-clad fingers fumbling to fit the buttons through the appropriate slits. She's intimately aware of Wu-Long's eyes on her, but either she doesn't care, or — more likely — relieving herself of itchy bandages is higher on her priority list than worrying about who she's undressing in front of.

She hangs her coat on a cruel-looking metal hook that protrudes from the wall by the facility's entrance, and glances back over her shoulder at him, waiting for Sylar to finish so she can ask question that's been on her mind ever since she stepped inside. "Is there a sink?"

Black-fringed eyelids hang low over Wu-Long's eyes as he studies the diminutive Englishwoman's back, though he's listening to her companion speak throughout his piece. Behind him, Jennifer Childs' prison looks like piece of post-modern art: the night sea stinking colossal and marine beyond, the chair a stark silhouette atop the blocky container, elevated higher than utility could allow.

It takes him until 'affection for her sister' to realize that the youngling is, indeed, disrobing; he glances away, a motion more abrupt than it looks judging from the sharp swerve of the rifle strap across his back. He leans his head forward, neck stretching an inch out of the leather of his collar as he studies the expression that accompanies Sylar's statement. "Yes. We did." The word comes weighted with emphasis that gives meaning: we. He shrugs, bumps up the rifle barrel a degree as he does so.

Mutely, he answers Munin's question with a rough finger pointed at the small door in the facility's lone lit hallway. A bathroom, across from the security booth. The small walls are lit not only by the fierce little lightbulb screwed into the ceiling, but the flickering light from the visual feed. "You can ask Ethan if you want her sooner," he obliges Sylar to note.

Mm, guilty as charged. For anyone else, it'd just be a simple inquiring as to 'what next?' in this plan, but Sylar's made no secret as to his ulterior motive. He comes close enough to touch the edge of the container, although it has a poisonous, forbidding look, with paint chipped away from time and water, rust stains lining edges and threatening to infect what it cuts. To Sylar, it looks like a ginormous Christmas present, and as if contemplative, a sheen of ice starts to spread over metal from his touch, but only by a few inches. He removes his hand before the temptation can urge him to keep going, and almost instantly, the ice begins to thaw away, if it was ever noticed at all.

Sylar turns back towards Wu-Long and says, in quiet tones to perhaps not disturb the woman inside, "I don't see why we're keeping her at all unless Ethan doesn't plan to come good." A glance is spared towards Munin, but back to Wu-Long just as fast. This is not the best of conversation's to have in front of her, but it's one he wanted to have - and she wanted a place to change her bandages. He hadn't thought much further than that.

It isn't the best conversation to have around Munin, but that's all right — she doesn't want to stick around and listen to it. With a nod, she moves off toward the bathroom, her departure punctuated by the sound of her retreating footsteps. For whatever reason, she opts not to close the door behind her; instead, it hangs open just enough for her to keep an eye on Sylar and Wu-Long in the mirror above the sink, their shapes made vague, distorted by a series of vertical and horizontal cracks that give the glass a patchwork appearance.

Even if she meant to eavesdrop, she'd have a difficult time doing it when, soon, all she can hear is the tepid trickle of running water as it fills both her ears and the skin's basin, haphazardly sloshing against the sides like waves in a kiddie pool.

It's hard to imagine that Munin's absence couldn't be attributed to or at least supported by orders from the top. As such, Wu-Long winds up staring at Sylar as if his thoughtlessness were a conspicuous physical entity herniated from his face separate from the protrusions nose and eyebrows for a moment, though his disapproval — or wondering — are mitigated by the relative calm of the girl herself.

Whatever put her in this state, it wasn't proximity to the Vanguard or any member thereof. Not if she came here afterward. Never mind. Sylar wants brains. Man has a problem, evidently. Wu-Long sees the touch, not the frost that accompanies it. He nods agreeably, or at least in agreement: "A contingency plan. I don't know what Ethan even wants with Gillian Childs in the long-term, but she is an important investment.

"He may tell you if you ask him why." The implicit admission of his own ignorance doesn't bother him, and nor is the boast as to his own discipline or obedience intentional. This part of his programming runs by default. "Neige xiao guniang. She looks like shit," he adds, after a moment, blunt as head trauma. Not Jennifer. A black curl drops against his cheek as he motions with his head toward the restroom.

The stare he gains for perhaps driving the girl away seems ignored, although a twitched lift of an eyebrow indicates the fact that he doesn't particularly care, or perhaps begs the question, 'what of it?' The moment goes by without words, however, and he casually leans against the container.

Glancing as Wu-Long indicates towards the restroom, Sylar clenches his jaw a little when the topic of conversation meets a dead end and is thusly derailed. He doesn't move away from the container, however, but nods once in acknowledgment. "That would be because she's been told to stay away from Ethan's," he says. "And New York City isn't accommodating otherwise. I took her to a tenement but we ran into some trouble. Maybe you should take care of it." Pause. "Eileen, not the trouble. That's being seen to."

Vaguely, Wu-Long gathers that there's a schism between his understanding and white boy's. His qualm wasn't with driving the girl away. It was with bringing her here given that she was, and apparently, now confirmed, ordered to keep her distance. The fact that the taboo is Ethan's home rather than Ethan— or someone else's— person elicits an odd look; the Chinese man guesses that that was a sloppy paraphrase.

Or that upscale rent or home and hearth have some kind of perceived psycho-symbolic value to Volken that he is as yet unaware of. He stops analyzing that, sublimates the absurdity to words instead. Sort of. "I pointed out the sink," he states in his most factual tone of voice. His gaze vacillates between man and the container-cum-prison for a protracted moment; he wonders briefly if Sylar is asking if there is another, then how it was Sylar came into the business of real estate.

Apparently, yes. Sylar is missing something. The sound of running water from the restroom underscores the short break in conversation as he doesn't respond for a moment, a quizzical look crossing his face as he blinks across at Wu-Long. But then, he shrugs once, a bland look of boredom taking place once more. Subject dropped, although no apology for bringing her here is offered. Whatever orders have been placed on Munin don't particularly affect him - nor does her location.

"As far as Gillian being an investment, you won't have to worry," he says, diverting back towards this line of conversation as if it had never been broken. "She won't stray far from me. There are better ways of manipulating her. As far as I can tell, you're keeping a girl in a box for no good reason," and he tilts his head towards the security feeds, "and wasting time and resources in the process."

More than a hint of negotiation in his tone, even if Wu-Long's made it clear he's not the go-to man. Amato had once hinted that Sylar should likely respect the subtle ranking system with the Vanguard, but then again, this came from Amato.

Wu-Long would be the first to acknowledge that he is, indeed, standing over a shipping container with a prisoner inside of it, and holding a rifle. On first-over, he would be a pretty good guy to negotiate with.

Boredom never marrs his features the way it does Sylar's. There is occasionally an eerie, animalistic absence behind his eyes, accentuating the harsh clarity of his attentiveness, or else something disturbingly like peace housed in the line of his mouth or stoop of his shoulders, perhaps even impatient with a specific thirst, but he tends not to look like he's wont for some anything to do.

He's sort of tired. "I don't mind," he answers after a moment, his tone inscrutably light under his accent's heavier handling of consonants. "I would offer to speak to Ethan on your behalf, but he might want details on how else you could manipulate Gillian Childs. He prefers kidnappings," he notes, after a moment, as if trying to explain: he is. Just not well. Another shrug seesaws through his shoulders and the rifle drops down across his palms. "I think it's because he's good at them."

Though squashed and skewed by oblique angle, Wu-Long's reflection shifts visibly in Munin's peripheral; he shifts backward to address her, rather than look. "Ling-ling," he calls out. "Are you homeless?"

Pipes knock, creaking somewhere in the walls, and the faucet abruptly squeaks off. Munin pushes the door open the rest of the way, emerging from the bathroom with water dripping from her chin and the tips of her damp hair, a few stray droplets continuing to cling to her eyelashes despite her best attempts to blink them away. The soiled bandages she wore beneath her sweater are undoubtedly sitting at the bottom of the garbage can back in the bathroom — while she doesn't have anything on hand to replace them with, it isn't as though she's going to be leaking blood and pus as a result. She can go a few hours without a few flimsy pieces of gauze separating her skin from the fabric of her pullover.

"No," she says to Wu-Long, making a beeline for her discarded coat by the door, "I'm going back to Ethan's. Dr. Knutson's had plenty of time to get settled — if Kazimir doesn't like it, he can't take it up with me himself." Her voice, though not unkind, hinges on a bitter note. She glances over at the men, adding, "Just pretend I was never here. A trick of the shadows, a figment of your sleep-deprived imagination, yeah?"

Don't mind isn't the same as yes. Sylar keeps his eyes trained on Wu-Long even as he addresses Munin and she responds. Turning his head, he listens - breathing, inside the metal box, has quickened, a heart races. She's awake, and yet, not crying for help or pounding on the metal. Not even weeping. Perhaps she's beyond that. It's been quite a while. Outside, invisible waves beat again and again on the waterfront, almost in rhythm with the air being pulled in and expelled out of the girl's lungs. Perhaps coincidental, perhaps not. Sylar pushes himself off the container, weight back on two feet as he starts to walk across the room. "People like us only get wilder in captivity," Sylar says, moving towards the door - flattening one large hand on the surface and casually pushing it open, holding it for Munin as he looks back at Wu-Long. "And you're next to a lot of water. Talk to Ethan before someone gets impatient." Either Jennifer, or Sylar. Up for interpretation.

Both. All four of them. Wu-Long almost hopes so: he does get thirsty. The other part of him, ever reserved, could care somewhat less. Coal eyes sharpen, flatten, then brighten again. He turns his wrist around a circle; flips the rifle over his arm, strap securing around shoulder in an arc of motion. "You would be no happier with a box in the desert," he says, neither disagreement nor cooperation. They'd find something else to keep in this box, he hopes. It's a nice place to sit.

It's better that the two are where he can watch them both at once. Then and only then does his gaze stray back to the girl, newly emerged, her sweater less lumpy and different now, for reasons he can guess at. Finds himself weighing her resentment against the note he'd heard in Odessa's, and finds himself unable to determine which one rings deeper.

"Nah." The monosyllable is too far from his normal lexicon to have been anything less than parroting back her own caustic diction, rather than her accent. Forgetting would be insipid. He values his own competence too much for that. He lifts a hand. "If you don't like it, you can call me. I have a place. I am not in it often." He finds that preferable. Theorizes she might, too, a projection that falls short of empathy and further than a random guess.

On her way out, back into the vast expanse of empty space that is the open air, Munin pauses as she pulls on her peacoat again, watching Wu-Long with an expression that borders on unreadable. Maybe if he was standing closer to her, he might be able to see the uncertainty etched across her face and reflected in her gray-green eyes. As it is, he isn't — he'll just have to guess. "I will," she promises, and it isn't entirely clear who she's making the promise to. Even she's not sure. Preferring not to linger and idly speculate, she allows herself to be swallowed up by the night without so much as a thank you for either Wu-Long or the man who's holding open the door.

He held the door out for her for a reason - the intent to follow. Sylar isn't that much of a gentleman otherwise. Wu-Long's comment isn't objected to - in fact, the Chinese man gets something close to a smile, before he's left alone with his ideal sitting space and graveyard shift. Outside, the scent of water takes on a fresher quality than the scent of metal and staleness inside the facility, and long strides easily catch Sylar up with the young woman, although he projects a quiet, Eileen first to get her attention. "How well do you trust your birds?"

It's a strange question to ask, at least from Munin's perspective, and it's also one that causes her to stop in her tracks. She slides her hands into her coat pockets, waiting for Sylar to catch up, only slightly taken aback by the speed with which he does. Short legs: one of many downsides to being smaller than almost everybody else. "They're birds," is her answer, softly spoken and succinct, "wonderful little animals, but still animals all the same. Loyalty? Trust? Not exactly concepts they can wrap their brains around."

"I mean," Sylar clarifies, "do you trust them as far as you can trust…" He pauses, thinking up an analogy, hands coming up to adjust the collar of his coat, flipping the lapels up to shield his throat from the ever present New York fall cold. "A reliable security feed. Or can they be interfered with. You were scared of Peter getting to your birds, that night." If there's any need to clarify which night he means, Sylar, apparently, expects her to know.

"I don't think Peter has the same degree of control over them that I do." It's the most reassuring thing Munin can think to say, though she can't help but wince inwardly as soon as the words have left her mouth. "The bird I took with us tonight wasn't the one I usually keep around," she explains, "I have him watching Gillian, and I've known him long enough that he probably can't be tampered with. If I'd had a stronger connection to the other, it never would have gotten close to the man with the gun. Things would've gone different." She lets out a slow breath, and it drifts up into the air in the form of a fine, silvery mist. "When he came after me that night at the tenement, I figure he asked the pigeons — close as he could've come to asking, anyway — where I was. They know I'm different than everybody else, that I can understand them. If you're wondering whether or not Peter can use my birds to find you? No. Not yet."

"Then it must be you keeping a close eye on me," Sylar says, as he processes what she's saying. "They could be doing a better job at being subtle. Not even Chandra can scare off the pigeons from the windowsill these days." A glance. "Gillian's cat." That he named. Moving on. "I appreciate the thought but anymore scrutiny and I may start wondering why you're so interested."

Munin turns to face Sylar, blinking at him in a bewildered fashion. "There shouldn't be any pigeons milling around your place," she says. "I have my flock alternating between Peter and Ivanov. The only bird I've got posted outside Siann Hall is Bran, and he's a raven — like you asked."

"Just the raven?" Sylar confirms, pausing so as best to turn around and look down at her, perhaps to gauge out a lie - why she'd be lying about this, he doesn't know. His irritation is obvious but only manifests as a brooding demeanor for a few moments. "Well, there's the pigeons," he says. "Then there's the seabirds down at the boat graveyard. Maybe I should be getting you to ask them what they want," he adds, a little sharply, resuming walking.

As Sylar pulls forward, Munin remains rooted to the spot. His words are still in the process of sinking in, and she stares at his back, saying nothing — not because she doesn't have anything she wants to say, but because she's having trouble forming the words with her mouth. "Wait—!" Catching up with Sylar isn't as easy for Munin as it is for him to catch up with her; her flats scuff against the pavement, and she very nearly trips over her own feet in the dark when she hurries after him. "Seabirds? Like gulls?"

Hearing her hurried footsteps, Sylar partially turns back towards her, though he continues to walk— and stopping still when she asks for clarification. "Like gulls," he agrees. "That's pretty much the only kind we get this kind of year. Why?" And that somewhat accusatory look is back, as if asking, 'what did you do?'

There's a familiar ring to Sylar's story, making Munin unable restrain the excitement in her voice when she speaks. Her tone isn't shrill, though — quite the opposite. Rough and low, it possesses a raw quality that isn't normally heard in somebody who looks like they might blow away in a stiff breeze; whatever she's thinking, it has to be important. Or at least urgent. "Has anything been happening when you're around them?"

To Sylar, her excitement seems utterly misplaced, and uncomfortably, his hands slip into the pockets of his coat as he looks down at her. However, a flicker of something crosses his bewildered expression - a sort of recognition, the barest of realisations. However, he doesn't voice it right away. "Like?" he asks, instead.

"Strange impulses you can't control? Foreign sensations unaccounted for? Visions?" Munin starts small and works her way up, mindful of the way he's looking at her. She's spent enough time around Sylar to know that the face he's making is unusual for him. One hand reaches up, pushing several errant curls of inky black hair, still wet from her excursion into the bathroom back inside storage facility, away from her eyes. Make no mistake: this is serious stuff.

Cold, cold, co— warm. Warm. Even warmer. Hot. "Yes," Sylar says, simply, studying her right back. "Visions. Glimpses, I thought they were from the memories I got from you." Seeing through Munin's eyes seeing through birds eyes, despite the fact that none of the memories he'd explored that night related to her birds. "Flying. High places. What are you suggesting? Because it's impossible."

Impossible. Munin lets out a snort. "It isn't. At least not any more than calling fire from your hands or putting your voice into somebody else's head. What if you got more than my memories when you touched me back on the bridge? What if I gave you my ability too?" She prefers to think of it that way. There's something a lot less menacing about her lending him her gift than there is him taking it from her without her consent. "Maybe it's what Kazimir really intended."

"…on the bridge— I'm pretty sure we'd know if poor sweet Jamie Chambers had some sort of ability replication power," Sylar says, cynically. "It was more than I expected at the time but I understand how it works now. All it did was take a piece of your state of mind and repeat it in my own head. Nothing more or less." Of course, in conjunction with his other abilities - it wouldn't have been so scarring with pamnesia, what's to say… His rebuttal halts. "You said you felt it when he killed the raven earlier. What did it feel like exactly?"

The enthusiasm drains completely out of Munin at the question, but she doesn't hesitate to answer it. The experience is still fresh in her memory, and she suspects that talking about it — even to Sylar — might help ease some of the pain that still lingers. "It wasn't the first time. They'll fly into windows, break their necks, get caught under the tires of a car— I'm never really inside at the time, but I still feel what they do. The shock. The pain. Tonight it was like being punched in the throat, only… my heart tried to explode out through my chest. I've never been shot before."

He listens, and his gaze wanders down towards the pavement between his feet. When she finishes, Sylar isn't really looking at her still - deep in thought, almost disturbed. He'd always prided himself on knowing abilities, knowing them better than anyone and therefore being the most deserving… and he's mystified. Without a word, he turns to start walking again.

"I take it you want me to keep quiet about this, too." Very astute. Unlike the last time, Munin doesn't pursue Sylar, much as she might feel compelled to — if wants to move away, to be by himself, she isn't about to stop him.

"The less they know," Sylar agrees as he walks, and it's at the point where they would part ways, his black clothing and dark hair allowing him to melt into the nighttime surroundings a little easier. But he pauses just before that point, turns back to her and scuffed shoes scraping against pavement with the movement. What he next says is likely predictable, but he says it anyway - like her, with the need to explain to ease the pain, it might seem clearer if put to words. "I felt it too," he says. "When I told you they attacked me somehow. I've been shot before. A lot. It felt exactly the same except I thought I'd die this time." For a solid five seconds, that had been a certainty. Almost deprecatingly, he adds, "Any advice?"

"Yeah," Munin says, "people are better company than pigeons. Don't bother trying to make any friends." Not that Sylar has a habit of friend-making or anything. In fact, now that she thinks about it, he already has an edge over her in that he doesn't seem to get attached to anyone or anything. Whether this is a benefit or a bereavement, she isn't yet sure — which might be why she doesn't immediately point it out.

"I don't usually," Sylar says, readily vocalising that thought without even a trace of irony. Awkward silence, mind obviously still elsewhere as he tries to process this revelation, and he takes a step back. "Thanks," he adds, distractedly, casting one more look towards her - and then the facility behind her. The slightest of hesitations, before he turns again to walk away, becoming just another shadow along the desolate waterfront.

November 18th: Once Upon A Midnight Dreary

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

November 18th: Two If By Land
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