Any Lies


ando_icon.gif bennet3_icon.gif candice_icon.gif hana_icon.gif hiro_icon.gif matt_icon.gif peter_icon.gif

Scene Title Any Lies
Synopsis Any except this one.
Date November 8, 2011

Primatech Paper Facility

"I can't handle this waiting."

Ando Masahashi paces back and forth within the main office of the old Primatech Facility, under the dim fluorescent lights overhead. Dusty stacks of boxes full of paper reams line the walls, while stacks of manilla envelopes and dossiers cover one table. Photographs are pinned to a cork-board, stacks of DoEA-issue registration cards sit in a cardboard box, all demagnetized and ready for forging. Ando's eyes catch sight of a small glass doored refrigerator plugged in to a wall socket, inside of which are racks of test tubes containing blood samples.

"Hiro," Ando looks accusingly at his friend, who is slouched back across an old, dusty sofa. "Hiro, what the hell is happening here?" Ando's question elicits a side-eyed look from Hiro, and then he closes his eyes again. Ando eyes the vials of blood again, twists his expression into a snarl, and then storms over to the couch and kicks the base of it enough to jostle Hiro up into a seated position.

"What?" Hiro snaps, and this close Ando can see the fatigue in his eyes, fatigue that goes even deeper. He's without voice for a moment, then, in a moment of courage finds it again.

"I asked you a question." It's the most pointed and direct Ando's ever been, and Hiro is forced to look away. His eyes search the room, looking for Candice, looking for Noah, looking for an excuse not to have this conversation. Ando recognizes the silent delay. "You can time travel!" Ando circles in front of where Hiro is looking. "Why— why is it like this?"

The accusation has Hiro bolting up out of his seat, one hand grasping Ando's collar. He shoves his friend back, shouting his response. "I've tried!" Hiro's voice cracks at the end, emotion breaks through his stoic facade. After a moment he recoils from his own outburst, stalks a few paces away from Ando while he composes himself. Ando is speechless again, and when Hiro comes back around Ando isn't not prepared for the expression of torment on his face.

"I've tried," Hiro reiterates, quieter and with more weight. "Ando, I've tried so many times. You saw the string web. Each one of those strings represents a time I went back to change things," Hiro looks down to the ground. "Trial and error," comes in a more hushed tone. "Each time I went back…" Hiro's jaw trembles, then clenches and he looks away. Gently, Ando raises a hand and rests it on Hiro's shoulder, then steps in and just draws his friend into an embrace.

Ando stares vacantly over Hiro's shoulder, giving him a squeeze before letting him ease back out of the hug. Hiro swallows audibly before continuing. "Sometimes things were worse when I came back," Hiro's voice is a whisper at that. "Registration, viruses, violence," Hiro's eyes search the room aimlessly again before finding Ando's concerned stare. "I'm as much to blame for this," he wearily admits. "You saw Peter, how he is? I'm the reason he's like that, I dragged him back in when he just wanted to be left alone. I changed things, Ando. I can't keep— "

Ando nods, understanding, squeezing Hiro's shoulders. "You're like that movie," Ando explains with a smile that attempts to lift Hiro's spirits. "The Butterfly Effect. You keep trying to go back to fix something in the past, but each time you make it worse somehow." Ando grimaces, and Hiro looks down to the floor, then back up again.

"How… how'd it end?" Hiro asks with a crooked smile. He'd missed Ando's company, missed his moral compass, missed his friendship. But Ando's expression darkens, and he looks aside, and then back to Hiro.

"Well," tilting his head to the side, Ando debates how best to explain it. "In the end, the hero goes back as far as he can, and decides that the only way he can save the woman he loves is if they never met at all. So, he… he gives up everything he has. He makes a sacrifice."

Hiro expected something like that. "Time travel stories… rarely have happy endings." Ando squeezes Hiro's shoulder again and then lets his hands fall to his side.

"Maybe… maybe you're more like a Marty McFly, than— "

"Ok can you two please just — " Fading into view, seated atop the nearby table with one leg crossed over the other, Candice Wilmer cocks a brow and purses her lips to the side. She throws an apple she's been eating — wherever she got that from — into a wastebasket and chews loudly. "Please? I can only handle so much of this."

Hiro and Ando both look at each other, then look to the side and exhale a sharp breath and crack up with a few bubbles of laughter. Hiro lays a hand on Ando's shoulder, then nods once in understanding and walks over to Candice. "Ok, Candice," Hiro looks to the paperwork on the table, then back. "Can you go look for Hana? I don't know what's taking Mr. Bennet so long, and we're running out of time. I hate to go around his back, but Hana's just as much in charge here as he is."

Sliding off of the table, Candice's boots click hard on the floor. "Finally," she exhales breathlessly, stomping over to the office door. Ando watches Candice depart, one brow raised, then looks back to Hiro. Once Candice has left, both he and Hiro break out into a little bit more laughter at each other's behavior, then gradually calm.

Ando and Hiro's laughter fades out from the office, echoing softly into the cavernous warehouse beyond. Louder, though, is the report of Candice's boots on the concrete floor. "Oh Wireless," Candice calls in a sing-song tone of voice, "your humble presence is requested."

More and more, Hana can't help but find herself wondering: What even is the point?

Her foot smashes into a suspended bag, underscoring the thought.

A new name, a life abandoned, a life on the run. A boy stuck depending on a crutch for the rest of his natural life, if he's lucky, until it runs out — or is found out — if not. There's good in it, to be sure, in trying to keep one more soul out of the ever-darker fate this misguided country's leadership seems to have planned for their ilk. And yet —

She should never have let Bennet talk her into doing this. Not today. Not five years ago.

Having retreated to what passes for a workout room in this place — which, given that she has haunted the facility for years, in truth more than merely passes — Hana takes out her frustrations on a hapless punching bag, what is currently the only acceptable target around.

Stuck in New York, sidelined, bound by promises and obligations she took upon herself — that Bennet, knowing her too well, saw fit to wave across her path — Wireless chafes at her own impotence, all too aware of the teams moving into position at locales very far away from here. She should be there, with them. She should be acting.

The bag swings; she drives it back.

Instead, Hana is once again behind a desk, no less real for all that it is metaphorical. Handing out forged papers. Identity cards. Blood samples. Shuffled off to be a fucking analyst once again, and not even one actually tasked with processing intel or providing field support.

She's —

The interruption that breaks Hana's fuming reverie is not welcomed. Not at all. She claps both hands on the bag to check its violent motion, head turning to cast a steely glare at the doorway and the unwanted guest who shortly becomes visible within it, narrow-eyed intensity more suited to lioness than woman.

"What the fuck do you want, Wilmer?" Hana snaps, making no attempt to moderate her scathing tone.

Candice startles at the snarl, tensing up with hands splayed at her sides and jaw set. Then, as if remembering how to wear a mask and act a role, she dismissively waves a hand in the air. “Wow somebody didn't have a full breakfast.” Hana Gitelman knows Candice Wilmer, knows her true name, true face, ability, limitations, quirks. Candice Wilmer doesn't know Hana Gitelman, or she wouldn't have made that remark.

“General Tso and his side-order of Sorrow Fried Rice wanted to talk to you.” Candice tilts her head to the side, lips pursed and one hand on her hip. “About— a list of people? They asked Bennet and he hasn’t come back.”

In fact, Bennet isn't anywhere. Not that Hana can feel. His cell phone is shielded, no incoming or outgoing messages, not for at least a half an hour except to — Nelly. A teleporter?

“So,” Candice continues, nails on a chalkboard in tone. “If you can maybe go talk to them? I'd like to get whatever it is they need me for done so I can get back home?” The uptick at the question comes with a click of Candice’s tongue.

That stare remains fixed on Candice all throughout the illusionist's statements, unwavering, unrelenting. Hana stands all but motionless, save only the steady, subtle rise and fall of her breathing. And then she moves, three explosive strides to the doorway, a pivot that drives her open palm against the wall beside Candice with a resounding thwack. Impact vibration rattles unpleasantly up bone and muscle, but she expects that, accounts for it, ignores it.

"Don't be snide at me, Wilmer," Hana Gitelman directs in a deceptively soft-voiced growl. There is no accompanying threat of dire fate; neither does Hana give the name-drop she could. That is a tool for another day, a more serious offense. The only menace she offers is implicit: her usurpation of Candice's personal space, focused predator's stare mere inches from the other woman's face, the tense, focused energy in every inch of Hana's frame telegraphing smoldering resentment and nascent anger in serious want of an outlet.

An outlet that Candice had the ill grace — and worse sense — to disrupt so very cavalierly.

Nonetheless, when Hana has delivered her point, she disengages and stalks through the warehouse in the direction of the office occupied by their guests.

For all that she walks quickly, Hana has an abundance of time to collect further information. Not on their guests, but — where is Bennet? The answer only seems to be not here… vexingly, suspiciously not here, given the time and recipient of his last call.

Suspicious, given something else that raises Wireless' hackles to the point of making her stop stock-still in the midst of the warehouse, her attention elsewhere. Radio chatter, coded in the way the DHS likes to use for raids. Radio chatter focused on Staten Island — and not Eltingville, or anything in its vicinity.

Radio chatter altogether too close to here.

Hana resumes motion, crossing the rest of the distance to the office and the two men within, barging without pause through the door. Her glance skips off Ando and focuses on Hiro; which one of them carries baggage is self-evident. "What are you here for, Nakamura?"

Jury's still out on whether Wireless is inclined to deliver him any warning.

As Hana opens the door, she finds herself staring at — a reflection of herself. Vertigo spins heavy for a moment, seeing her own face, her hand grasping the same doorknob, folding inward where it meets the door frame like a funhouse mirror. “Do not speak,” is whispered at Hana’s neck, “do not move.” It’s Candice’s voice — it’s Candice’s illusion.

The visual cue turns transparent, Hana is a few feet further away from the door than she expected. Soon the entire illusion falls away and Candice is standing beside her looking terrified. Wide eyes are focused on the bay doors to the warehouse, darkly dressed men in riot gear marching ahead with rifles drawn — six, eight, twelve.

Candice’s expression is a wordless apology, apology for ensnaring Hana in her illusion, apology for not being quick enough on the draw. Acerbic tone bleeds away to real fear as she sees the gray-haired man flanked by the agents.

Matthew Parkman.

“Don’t. Think.” Candice whispers in a flutter, and as ridiculous as it sounds, the Company trained one thing well — the ability to hide from and resist telepaths.

From the other side of the warehouse, more boots, eight more men in body armor with assault rifles trained up and sweeping the spacious warehouse floor. None of these people are emitting digital or analog signals, none of them are synchronized with radios, they knew exactly how to blindside Hana. They were expecting her.

Hana goes stock-still as her vision seems to swim, spine rigid, shoulders stiff, heels planted firmly on the floor. For all her fire and fury against the woman earlier, Hana remains willfully frozen as Candice speaks, and after — save for her breathing, save for quick, darting glances of her eyes. Herself. Candice. Homeland Security — Homeland Security that the technopath didn't sense coming.

Including an all-too-familiar face.

Hana exhales a long, slow, carefully soundless breath. Lets it carry out with it anger, alarm, righteous indignation; lets all of that emotion she fosters and cultivates so well dissipate into emptiness, and with it the structured shapes of verbalized thought. Now is not the time — not for ire, not for suspicion, not even for giving Candice any signal that the illusionist's intervention is appreciated. None of those things are here, none of the people that might produce them: only the hollow void exists.

Only cold concrete, faded institutional paint, and stale air: all mindless things, uncaring, soulless.

But not unobservant, oh no. Empty of thought, empty of feeling, Hana still stands witness to the beginning of the end of what Noah Bennet had built.

Inside of the office, unaware of what is coming down on their heads, Hiro and Ando review the list they had given to Bennet and their plan. “DL can phase inside the buildings,” Hiro explains as he holds up one finger, “Candice's illusion can distract the guards —”

“Hey,” Ando interjects from his seat on the couch. “what about me?” His eagerness isn’t from excitement, not anymore. It isn't about the coming fight, either. He feels something off. The image of that family and the soldiers repeats behind his eyes. The world was a violent place.

“You'll help too,” Hiro starts, seemingly reluctant to even broach that topic. But as Ando stands up, Hiro can sense tension in him.

“That's not what I meant,” Ando grimaces, closing the distance on Hiro. He'd put this off too long. “What happened to me? Where am I? Am I rich? Married?”

His fear of that answer mirrors Hiro’s. And in fear, Hiro’s only response is a cold, “I can't tell you that.”

“Why not?” Ando fires back.

“Because…” Hiro’s eyes flick to the side, he considers the truth but instead falls back on lies framed with a youthful exasperation he feels will be easier for Ando to accept. «The whole time/space continuum…» He lies in his native tongue, easier not to falter, «might implode because you were impatient.»

Hiro cracks a painted smile, cocks a brow and settles down in a chair. Ando’s expression lightens, and for a moment both men move to deceive one another with their true feelings.

“So… my friend is still in there.” Ando offers half-jokingly, and by now both can see the others’ guards up. Truth strained through lying teeth. Hiro inspects Ando for a moment, then drops the facade entirely, adopting a much more serious look.

“There's something I need to tell you,” Hiro begins, standing up from the chair. He makes one step toward Ando, and the door to the office flies open and two darts from a taser strike him square in the back. Ando bolts up from his seat, hands raised. Hana can see it all going down.

As Matt Parkman enters the room, stun gun raised, he levels his stare on Ando. Don't move, please. In Ando’s mind the psychic intrusion is as much plea as it is demand. Ando freezes, breath hastening.

Matt looks down to the black-clad figure on the couch, brows furrowed. Hiro. “We already caught you,” he exhales breathlessly, fear pumping in the back of his mind. Possibilities— endless. He knows Nakamura’s ability in theory, but seeing him twice makes it all the more real. He holsters his stun gun, bewildered.

“Son of a bitch,” Mat hisses as more DHS agents flood past Hana and Candice into the room. “He really can travel through time.” Suddenly things start to make sense, even if in just fractions. You, Matt directs to Ando. We need to talk in

Matt flinches as an officer is launched off of his feet and into the wall as Peter Petrelli manifests from out of thin air. He reaches not for the stun gun but for the handgun in his jacket, panic crackling in the back of his mind as he's face to face with Peter after years.

But then everything stops. Everyone, everything. The birds outside, the breeze, Parkman and his gun. Peter’s brows tense, sweat begins to dampen them.

He moves to the table, picks up Hiro’s sword and moves to stand beside Parkman. For a moment, Peter considers what he could do. His dark eyes meet Matt’s, and he remembers Molly. A moment of mercy, and Peter lays one hand on the stunned Hiro, and another on Ando, then in an instant they are gone, and time flows again in the warehouse.

What!?” Parkman screams, pivoting around and wildly pacing. “Find Gitelman, I know she’s here!” Matt orders, and Candice stumbles back and away from the door in a panic. Sweat trickling down her brow, Candice looks around frantically. If he telepathically sweeps the room, Candice knows that she’ll be caught. Instead, she gives Parkman what he wants.

Suddenly, Hana is visible.

Hana slips into sight with a gun in one hand, muscles in her back tense and posture rigid. She moves with a ferocious, predatory gait towards the office door, while chaos reigns and Matt’s team are distracted. Before they can exit the office to find her, she goes to them. Stepping into the office she fires three times, once at the two officers with Parkman, and once square at Parkman himself.

At the gunfire, two of the DHS men recoil, taking cover. Parkman jolts, dives behind the couch and pops up to find Hana training her sights down on one of his men. He furrows his brows, lips parting for a moment, and then after a beat of hesitation fires.

Hana’s head jerks back and she staggers, one knee buckling as her handgun falls to the floor. She finally collapses after another beat down onto her side behind the table, one hand sweeping files off of its surface as she does. A red bullet hole rests square in her brow. Blood begins to spread out on the floor below her.

Matt stares, hands shaking and breath hitched in the back of his throat.

Out on the warehouse floor, Hana Gitelman watches herself die in vivid color. That dissonant trauma is disrupted as she feels the feels the gentle — fearful — hand of Candice against the small of her back. The hand traces up to Hana’s shoulder, then away— pointing. When her eyes track to what Candice has pointed out. Entering the warehouse, tan jacket draped over his shoulders, wire-rimmed glasses on the bridge of his nose, Noah Bennet walks side by side with a pair of DHS agents.

Not in handcuffs, or any other restraint. He walks free. He walks with them.

There is nothing. Air in. Air out. A fitful breeze.

More boots. More agents.

A tickle at her senses, a subtle dissonance that Wireless only teases out because of that stillness — and because out of all the people here, only two openly contribute to the digital ambiance.

Something — unexpected — blows into the office and right back out again. And after —

After, she can still hear that subtle, suppressed signal from Parkman's phone. Can see him, barely, through the office door; they're not clear yet. Hana lets surprise, anger, the involuntary heat-shock rush of adrenaline pass through just as does the breeze. Lets nascent thought fall apart in the moment of its coalescence.

She watches herself die. The most discordant part is not the moment of death, but being outside it — not actually staring down the gun, not crumpling to sprawl face-down on the concrete floor.

She can't help but wonder, in a vague and loose way, whether that little play is an omen, a preview of her own actual death a few seconds or minutes out.

The touch against her back is somehow all the more startling for its hesitance, jarring Hana out of that carefully mindless reverie; she nearly lashes out. Yet instinct parses faster than thought, deeper than thought; provisionally classes not a threat. Classes what her attention is pointed to… as something else entirely.

Here and now, Hana's reaction to the sight of fucking Noah Bennet is so fundamentally atavistic, she doesn't need to think. Only react.

Empty, consuming void. Or is that rage, licking around its edges like flame?

"Cover," she breathes to Candice, leaving it to the illusionist to work out specifics. Hana has no patience with which to hold her hand.

The lioness slips a knife from her boot, strides forward boldly to intercept the approaching trio. She has an unprecedented advantage, and capitalizes on it with lethal alacrity. Two knives, two dead agents; the third and last blade comes with her as Hana bodily drives Noah into the opposite wall, one hand splayed across his chest, other holding the deadly steel at an angle down his face, point oriented upwards at an eye. Those iconic glasses pose no true obstacle.

Hana's dark gaze glitters inches from his own, the barest edges of her teeth visible in something that isn't by any definition a smile. "Tell a story for us, Bennet," she murmurs, a menacing purr. "You're good at that."

But it all looks so much different from outside of Candice’s illusion. SHe’s forced to improvise when Hana breaks away and begins attacking people. For all her experience, Candice is left to try and paint over reality with a believable fiction of her own. The gurgling cries of dead men are replaced by —

— they both sneeze, loudly, and Bennet stops to cough and clear his throat.

Candice scrunches her face up, one hand to the side of her head in chastisement at how thin that entire situation is. But as two men collapse to the floor in writhing heaps, their staggered mid-sneeze posture stays standing as they fade away. Noah too, hand closed into a fist in a cough, is still standing rather than pinned against the warehouse wall with a knife upturned to his eye.

Candice turns, unseen, still, terrified as Matt Parkman steps out of the doorway. He squints, watching the two guards wiping at their noses and Noah finishing clearing his throat. His eyes sweep the room, pass right over Candice, and he cocks his head to Noah. “Inside, now.//” Pointing to the office, Matt casts a look at the two guards, brows briefly furrowed. He looks around again, and then gestures to the warehouse entrance. “You two, watch the front.”

The illusory Noah steps in line, moving to follow. Candice strains, trying to be between the two locations; where real Noah stands and where her copy is moving. Splitting her focus makes her strain, brows tense, eyes wrenched shut.

Up against the wall, the real Noah Bennet ticks his stare to the point of the knife. His throat tightens, and he looks then past Hana to Candice. Everything lines up in his head. “Okay,” is Noah’s whisper to Hana. He can hear what’s going on through the wall; no insulation, just two sheets of drywall that don’t muffle Matt’s protesting voice or Candice’s doppelganger.

Candice,” Noah says loud enough that she can hear him, but hoping not to be heard through the wall. “Bunker Hill,” Noah explains, short enough to get the message across. It wasn’t too long ago that the three once worked together, once worked in the Company’s good graces. The Bunker Hill assignment was Candice’s first field operation with Bennet. She and Hana both know the play.

As Matt and Candice’s illusory Bennet slip into the back office, Candice pushes the real Bennet’s voice into her phantasmal simulacrum.

“Your friends got away,” Parkman’s voice is riddled with tension and uncertainty. His neck is taut, jaw squared and tight, eyes pinched in a way that will only make him look older. Bennet, however, moves with a confident stride and his usual collected calm.

“If they were my friends, I wouldn't have called you, Matt.” Noah Bennet’s simulacrum offers in pantomime of his own words. Elsewhere, Hana’s knife-point at his eye edges closer.

Parkman, distracted, offers a look around the room. The DHS agents who were shot at moments ago are startled, but collecting themselves. “Yeah,” Matt mumbles, then looks up to Noah again as if looking at him for the first time. “thanks for the heads up.”

“That's the deal, right?” Noah explains for both Matt’s sake, and for the woman holding him against the wall. “I turn you on to the dangerous refugees, and you let me help the harmless ones.” A complicit deal, with the devil, a devil who has been aware of the Ferrymen’s operations for — potentially — years now.

“Doesn't hurt that we're both harboring children of interest,” Matt offers, looking at Noah as if uncertain of how he’ll react. The other DHS agents step out of the room, swallowed into Candice’s illusion and unaware that the men guarding the door are unreal and their bodies are just a step away. “Of course, mine isn't the President's daughter…” Matt adds with a testing tone.

“She's getting married.” The real Noah Bennet says, eyes squared on Hana’s, and his simulacrum echoes it to Parkman.

“Mazel-Tov. I guess,” Matt mutters, looking aside. His mind swims, he looks momentarily delirious and uneasy. Brows furrow, and as he looks back to Bennet there’s a breath of a question, again, testing. “Have you, uh…” he lowers his voice a little, and the real Noah strains to hear it. “…you heard anything from Janice?”

Candice improvises, having heard it and while Bennet couldn’t. She directs her simulacrum to move to the table, picks up a piece of paper from under a stack, and returns it to Parkman. A drawing, one that never existed, shows a child’s crayon illustration of a happy family. Matt Jr is written on the bottom corner. Parkman takes it — thinks he takes it — and smiles in disbelief. Not that his son has drawn him a picture, but because it feels so real.

“You ever wish you did something different?” Parkman asks, his voice noticeably louder now. “Wish you took a different path?” He looks up to Bennet’s simulacrum, and the real Noah never breaks his eye contact from Hana.

Every day,” Noah enunciates for both. “You did right by her, Matt.” He adds, referring to Janice. “You did right by him,” for his son.

Distracted by watching multiple directions at once, Candice directs her Bennet illusion to meander through the office. She looks to the real Noah and Hana for a moment, but when she looks back inside she can see her illusion has wandered into sight-line of the dead Hana body. Her nose rankles, teeth grit together. She didn’t want to have to play that out.

“Thanks. I really appreciate all you've done for them,” Matt explains, voice subtly raised as he walks around the room, edging closer to the outer wall. Bennet’s illusion has to react naturally, and when he sees the dead illusory Hana he whips around and looks at Parkman with wide eyes. Matt finally pushes the test, lunging forward and grabbing the illusory Bennet by the collar, slamming him down on the desktop.

There’s weight, tactile sense, the illusion of everything that could possibly feel and be real. The mind is tricked, forced into believing a thing that is unreal. Matt’s been here before, with his father, with Maury’s inescapable mindscapes.

What are you doing?!” The illusory Bennet cries out at Candice’s direction, since the real Noah offers her no guidance. The other DHS officers move in, help hold the illusory Bennet down with no realization that they’re playing make-believe. Matt takes out his gun, cocking the hammer back and staring at the Noah Bennet laid out across the table.

“I'm ending our arrangement,” Matt very clearly states. Then, with a searching look, Matt begins reaching out with his mind, searching for something. “Unfortunately, I have to explain to the President that there's a second Hiro Nakamura out there.” He didn’t need to say that, it wasn’t for the Bennet on the table. Even now Hana realizes that they may have been made. “Then I gotta tell him how I let him get away.”

He’s giving them a head start. But Noah realizes what it’s going to cost. “See, I can't come back empty handed. Now tell me where she is.” Knife to his eye, Noah Bennet tries to shut his mind out, tries to keep Matt from finding what he wants. Because he would let Hana take his eye, take his life, if it meant keeping Claire safe.

But something about all of this feels off. The sense of danger Noah should have is replaced by unease. Replaced by something that feels suspiciously like tables turning. “No,” Bennet pleads, but he’s already made up his mind. He’s just hoping that Parkman can change his.

You people, wherever you are, have a fifteen second head start.

Matt’s gun goes off, echoing through the warehouse. Candice jolts, creating the illusion of Noah Bennet’s death with a mixture of dread and guilty satisfaction.

Starting now.

Fifteen seconds, the telepath says.

Hana spends the first three of them extracting Bennet's shielded phone, tucking the device in his pocket; the case is tossed aside to land on a corpse. Only then does she take a step back, flicking her eyes in the direction of a side door. There will be someone outside watching it, no doubt — but it is unlikely to be the way Parkman exits. The rest can be dealt with.

Allowing Bennet to take the lead — nothing else is acceptable, now — Hana spends another second collecting her second knife, match to the one she still carries, from the body temporarily housing it. The other is not worth her limited time.

Candice is directed to follow Bennet, equally silently. Behind them both, a lioness prowls with the bitter ashes of received treachery in her heart, with dark fury smoldering in her eyes, with the energy of lethal intent only barely leashed informing each and every stride.

Every second that passes by is a second borrowed, collecting interest on a debt over five years overdue.

Noah Bennet has betrayed Hana Gitelman's trust for the very last time.

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