Anything but Grace


sonny_icon.gif sylar_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Anything But Grace
Synopsis Zachery introduces his friend to his pet murderer. Sylar demands a favor. Things go as well as you'd expect!
Date January 4, 2009

Harlem Morgue

The cold air and the strong odor of antiseptics carries all the way though into the entrance hall, going together perfectly with the strong lights, sterile whites and smooth metal surfaces. The cleaning products do a pretty good job at masking the lingering smell of death, but those who already know it will surely come to recognize it. As morgues go, this one isn't terribly special. The entrance hall has little else to look at but a sign that reads "Taceant colloquia. Effugiat risus. Hic locus est ubi mors gaudet succurrere vitae." Or: Let conversations cease. Let laughter depart. This is the place where death delights to help the living.

For those who have the authority to wander, the hall connects to four small offices, a large autopsy room, and a cold chamber. The latter's temperature dips well below freezing point and is only accessible to the morgue's employees.

A rather gruesome spectacle lies in between the two men in the room. Actually, in this context of the morgue, it's not really so gruesome— it's almost ordinary. A corpse is laid out, which in itself isn't strange, but slightly more odd would be the fact the entire top of his head is missing. A man in his forties, with the slightly unusual addition of black, scaly substance that clings to parts of his skin. Most of it has shed along the way, but some of it remains, like the remains of costume makeup of a grievous burn.

Sylar rests upon a metal counter along the wall, perched there with a medical textbook in his lap. He's already cleaned up via the morgue's facilities, although traces of dried blood still remain in flakes on his skin here and there, caught in hair along his wrists and arms, as well as under his fingernails. Nothing a proper shower can't fix.

It's out of boredom and vague interest that he turns a page, looking at the detailed diagrams more than the fine print, before he lefts his head to regard the other man in the room. Considers, then asks, "So how was your Christmas?"

There's a reason it's been quiet for the last ten minutes. Zachery, dressed in the usual scrubs (minus face mask— somehow he's always wanted to breathe as freely as he could around this particular visitor), stands near the door, eyes on nothing in particular. He's worrying. It's been too long since he called. Too long. He's not showing. Going to have to find another wa— "Hm?" He looks up when he's asked a question, and leans against a cabinet in an attempt to seem casual. "I. I was here, mostly. Spoke to the family. Pretty boring stuff." He smiles uncomfortably, hesitates for a moment, and then asks, "You?"

The book is set aside as Zachery answers, Sylar picking up the icepack he'd obtained, crinkling and crackling beneath the fabric its been wrapped in. Leaning back against the wall, he applies it again to his jaw, which has turned a nasty, rather brutal shade of blue and black in a splotch on one side. Not quite the average knock to the face, and as the cold wakes up the injury, his gaze slides back over towards the corpse. He'd made sure his head wound had stopped bleeding long before he'd meandered this way, but the evidence of it is still clear at his temple, reaching out from the hair line and stretching into it too. Busy night! The irony being he'd just spent the evening with a healer, too, who is likely long gone and has the protection of the Vanguard to keep him at bay for a week. Thanks, Elias and Wu-Long. Truly.

"Spent time with friends," Sylar answers, which is dubious at best, all things considered. The only lie being the plural, and the general uncertainty as to whether another sociopath constitutes as a friend. "Have you seen it?" He looks back towards the coroner, now. "What your friend can do. Does it take a long time?" Natural curiosity, everyone has it, but his brand is particularly insatiable when it comes to these topics.

Zachery doesn't answer directly, instead ignoring the urge to glance at the door once more time. "I've only seen it once." He finally answers, managing to keep the usual Sylar-induced stutter back for once. "It was impressive. The speed of it, too. However…" He pulls away from the cabinet, rubbing his neck with a gloved hand — not that he even seems to notice as much.

Right, time to man up for a minute. The coroner takes a deep breath, suddenly happy the door hasn't opened yet. "I hope you're not looking to… compromise our deal. I would be most displeased if you frightened him off." Or worse. He's already taking incredibly big risks, here.

Sonny is a playboy. His version of 'on time' is fashionably late. Besides, he figures that Zach'll just occupy himself with work in the meantime. There's a cheerful whistle from down the hallway, then a light rap at the morgue door. "Hey, Zachery. You in there? I don't really want to open this door and see a naked corpse, so are the living and recently deceased decent?"

Sylar tilts his head a little when Zachery nudges the conversation towards the elephant in the room. He doesn't get a chance to prod at that doubt, or reassure it, before the sound of someone else in the building catches his attention. He lowers the icepack back down onto the counter. "Send him in," Sylar says, quietly, to Zachery, not moving from his post in the room. "And we can see if you've played your cards right."

Zachery's eyes stay fixed on Sylar for a moment, unamused. If only he was better at reading people— if only Sylar waseasier to read. But ultimately, he just shakes his head. No use assuming things. Upon opening the door and stepping aside, the coroner's face shows no apology, no warning to go, nothing. "Come in." His tone, too, is flat. "There's someone you must meet."

"What? Who? Oh, please don't try to set me up with someone in a morgue." and then Sonny's far enough in to spot Sylar. "Uh. Hello." A glance to Zach. The doc looks apprehensive, like he can sense something is off. He glances to the corpse on the table, then back to Sylar again. "Joining us for drinks?"

Not a totally off reaction, even without knowing who Sylar is. Seeing a man who looks like he's been in a vicious brawl lounging casually in the corner of an examination room might cause some cognitive dissonance. He regards Sonny, almost sizing him up. "I don't think so," he says, and looks towards Zachery, as if awaiting introductions.

"I'm afraid there's been a slight change in plans." Zachery starts, looking tentatively between the two men. "I'm also afraid you may have to stay for a while and do exactly as you're being told, lest you want to end up… a little like that." He nods his head in the direction of the corpse, brow creasing lightly. There is worry on his face, but this sure as hell isn't stopping him from cooperating. The worry, perhaps predictably, is more for himself than anyone else. Catching the killer's glance, he inhales sharply to add, "Dr. Bianco, meet… Sylar. Sylar, Dr. Bianco."

That is one introduction Sonny would rather not have ever heard. "…Sylar?" Oh. Oh shit. The doc blanches. He swallows, then moves slowly, like someone confronted with a dangerous animal. "…friend of yours, Zachery?" Those words are cold, clipped. Hey, you'd be hostile too if you showed up for drinks and instead were introduced to a serial killer.

"Yes," Sylar responds before Zachery can, fixing his gaze back on Sonny. His boots hit the floor as he pushes himself off the counter, with more dexterity than cracked ribs would suggest though the slightest of flinches is visible for a moment, pausing before pacing towards the body that's almost on display. "I'm a friend of Zachery's. He says you can help me make this man," he points to the late Craig Christman's still, almost serene face, "not be this man anymore."

Friend? After Sylar is done affirming what may be either gruesome lie or horrific truth, Zachery actually chuckles. The shameless amusement is as much a surprise to him as this meeting is to Sonny, but he's beyond worrying about it anymore. Things are going to hell in a handbasket, and it's okay. And just in case Sonny is having second thoughts (or bad first, for that matter), he sidesteps and reaches to nudge the door closed behind his new guest.

"Clearly I need to be better at picking my associates," says Sonny bitterly. He pointedly does not look at Zach. He tugs off his gloves, then tosses up his hands. "All right, so what? You want me to make over this poor man so you can cover up a murder, hmm?" From the way his demeanor changes and the sudden cooperation - well, either it's a fear reflex, or he's been pressured to do this kind of thing before. Probably both. He shrugs his jacket, agitated and afraid. The fear is only readily apparent by his quivering hands. "Let's get it over with then. I'm assuming it's the usual bargaining chip? Do this or I'm dead? Never tell anyone or I'm dead? All that stuff?"

Sylar flickers a glance towards Zachery, as unreadable as ever, but his focus lies on their new arrival. "Telling people would be a bad idea," he confirms, eyebrows raising. "But I could kill you now and do it myself." A hand moves, and rather gently, with reverence even, he picks off a flake of black scaling that had clung to Craig's jaw, almost at the throat. His gaze is downcast, focusing on the corpse in front of him. "Maybe not with your practiced talent, but I could. And I could learn it better than you could ever hope to and use your ability again and again." He glances back up to Sonny. "Consider this to be a favour to Zachery." Whether he means the fact he's not killing Sonny, or motivation for Sonny to do this, is unclear.

"O-oh, and—" Zachery cuts in before Sonny has the time to respond, making quite the valiant effort to rid his face of a rather helpless (though somehow amused) grin, "I would really quite prefer if you…. would not…" He stops, moving sharply to put his back against the door and clearing his throat. "If I could keep doing my job. You can't pin anything else on me, either. No investigations. No rumors. Nothing changes." He then adds, genuinely, "I'm sorry."

"I think, Mister Sylar, that it would take more effort than you'd think to use my ability. Seven years of school and ten years of practice. Hardly seems worth the trouble considering I have no intention of resisting or telling anyone what I've seen here. You're not the first person to threaten me. You are…the most famous, though." Sonny lifts a shoulder, then moves towards the sink to scrub up his hands. "Do you have a preference for who I change him in to? Just a random soul or do you want a missing persons so he'll be a closed case?" Oh, is Zachery talking? Because the doc's not acknowledging him. Hey, if -anything- warrants a cold shoulder…

Sonny is treated with an almost blank look as he talks about the apparent trouble and learning behind his ability, but Sylar doesn't argue. But if his expression is to be read, it's clear he most certainly doesn't agree, whether right or wrong. However, it's far from important, and he allows the conversation to trundle along, moving away from the body. "Do the latter if you have someone in mind." He doesn't - he came here to have the body erased, in a sense. "And you can call me just Sylar, Dr. Bianco."

Zachery intends to stay quiet. To stay out of this. He'll just be quiet. Yes. He'll— "No one too familiar. Not too obvious. I'm not getting into any trouble after this." Damn you, mouth. Brain. After a second, he looks to Sylar. Almost pleading, head tilting slightly. You're listening, right?

"How gracious of you," says Sonny in a manner that suggests he believes it's anything but grace. "No, but I'm sure your friend has access to the police files and can pull up a dossier of a missing person with this man's general build." As he says 'your friend' Zach still doesn't get a look. "I can't do much about the mode of death. Not with part of his head physically missing." He knows where the gloves are from last time he was here, so he snaps on a pair and goes to investigate the corpse of the poor unfortunate Craig. "Though I'd imagine you're more concerned with who has been killed here than the how." Somehow, the doc has found it within himself to switch to 'clinical' mode. This might be a routine procedure for all he's acting now. The one notable exception is a certain darkness to his tone. That and he's avoiding all eye contact.

"Correct," Sylar says, and looks towards Zachery, almost an acknowledgment, following it up with the response of, "Can you do that? Find someone like that?" As if the two men aren't notably not talking to each other, or at least one isn't. He's pacing, now, in a slow and wide circle around the room, keeping his attention on everything that's going on.

"Yes. Of course." Zachery answers, dragging one hand over his face as if in desperation to get it looking remotely sane and relaxed again. "I'll have to— ah- my office." Suddenly he turns around and opens the door again, though a beat passes before he actually makes a move to step out. Perhaps realizing the freedom behind letting Sylar lose sight of him is a bit too much to take for granted.

Sonny does look over his shoulder as Zachery goes out. His body stiffens and a cold wave of fear washes over him. He's gone. He's left him alone with this monster. It's all the doctor can do to keep his cool, and he does so by wiping away blood from Craig's face and neck and by examining his features and the bone structure of the dead man's face beneath his fingertips. He's pretending to be thoroughly engaged so he doesn't have to make smalltalk with a serial killer.

Sylar is content in not speaking to the man, only keeping him under his studious focus. But then, after several seconds pass, he opts to. "The skin," he says, and lifts his chin a little to indicate the corpse. "The remains of the armor needs to disappear too." A beat. "You should know that a few months ago Dr. Miller was in your exact same position. Negotiating for his life, doing favours he doesn't really want to be doing. It's the same."

"I can pull the armor off, but so could he," Sonny makes a vague motion towards the door. "It seems to be…" he picks up a pair of tweezers and gently pulls at a bit of armor covering Craig's collarbone. "…easily removable. I'll save him the dirty work if it's all the same to you." He tosses the bit of skin into a nearby receptacle, then gives Sylar a glance. "Are you saying that I should forgive him for dragging me in to this? Seems…very…" he chooses his word carefully, "…odd, if you are."

Sylar tilts his head a little. "I guess I am," he says, with the slightest trace of surprise in his voice. Pleasant surprise. "You don't know if it's odd. You don't know me at all. Besides, I didn't give him much of a choice." Pause. "Not much of a choice. I suppose you can blame him, if you want. You don't mind me watching you do this, do you?" He taps a finger casually on Craig's shoulder.

"I know that you'd kill me and never regret it. What more is there for me to know? It's not like you and I are going to sit down and share life stories over a pint of beer," Sonny's tone is distracted rather than wry or sarcastic. He continues to feel out the structure of the man's face. "You can do whatever you want. You're the one in control, here."

That first part doesn't go answered, a small twitch of a smirk showing in amusement but otherwise, no response. "That's right," Sylar says of that last part. "I am." He lifts a hand, and with a sudden, clattering screech that tears through the relative quiet of examination room, he uses telekinesis to rather haphazardly pull a metal rickety-looking stool towards him, where it had been set up near a desk-like area. He places a hand on it to steady it before sitting down right near the examination table, casting a cheerful smile to Sonny (although the look in his eyes, as ever, is far from cheerful) and clasping his hands together in his lap, almost student-like.

"Got it!" The cold and utmost serious conversation is broken up by Zachery's misplaced enthusiasm. He's nearly floored by a flying stool upon his entrance , but this only barely causes him to look up from one of the pages he's brought with him. One of them is a picture, which is promptly offered to Sonny. "Robert Elias Sefton. Gone fishin'…" He looks up for a moment, as though that was supposed to be funny, then clears his throat once more and looks down to the file. "… and ever went back home."

Once upon a time, a man came to the Bianco residence and gave a little course to his immediate family on how to deal with kidnappers and blackmailers. The man's advice? Co-operate. Money and property can be replaced, your life can't. That stuck with Sonny, and he sees no reason to change that method now. The little TK show gets a look, but not as much as Sylar's proximity. It's a good thing he's not working on a living person, because he'd probably end up hurting his subject under this kind of pressure.

Then Zach comes charging in with a picture. He takes it and has a look. "That will work." He pulls up a stool as well, and takes a seat at the head of the table, which unfortunately puts the gore right in front of him. If it bothers him, he doesn't let it show.

It's quite easy for Sonny to work on dead flesh. There's no danger of blocking off airways or reshaping bone to the point where it puts pressure on the brain. And considering Zach'd be the one to do the autopsy, well, he's not too concerned about making the inside of the man's head look unsuspicious. Even if someone did x-ray the skull, it would just look slightly deformed. Given this is fairly distinctively a Sylar killing, well, a little bit of a misshapen skull is not all that odd.

Sonny closes his eyes and concentrates on the man's face and the bone structure. Slowly, creepily, Craig's face seems to melt. When working on live people, he tones down this effect so that people don't panic, but this is the easiest way to do it. He turns the facial muscles as uniform as possible and puts slack in the skin so that it's more malleable. "Someone hold up the picture, please," he murmurs, voice distant.

Sylar gaze is fixed on the corpse, the subtle changes that begin. He's far from disturbed - considering his line of work, he'd have to be - and instead seems fascinated. At Sonny's request, Sylar doesn't move to do so, allowing Zachery to play that role instead, caught up in watching the display of power unfold instead. "When you do it on someone who's alive," he says, "does it hurt?" Scientific question! Except when he adds, "Can you make it hurt?"

But Sylar and Sonny aren't the only ones who know a trick or two. It's just that Zachery's abilities are a little more inconspicuous. He takes more than a few seconds to realize Sylar's not absolutely jumping to help Sonny, partly due to the fact that he's been 'reading' the still body since he came in. "That…" He frowns, moving to grab hold of the picture again and hold it up for Sonny to see, even if the coroner himself is looking a little absent at the moment, staring at the corpse's face. "I was wondering what… but. That… just doesn't feel right."

"I've never tried," says Sonny. "People pay me a lot of money for it to not hurt." There's strain in the doctor's voice. It takes effort for him to talk and work at the same time. At least under this kind of stress. "It's uncomfortable. Even when I use it on myself."

Then it's back to working on the shaping of features. Zach chose a good one, at least. It doesn't take too much work, or too long to mould the features into those of Mister Sefton. The corpse's skin ripples, tightens, stretches. It's…creepy, really. He glances every now and again to the picture. A few more details, like an additional wrinkle or spot are added to the duplicate face to make up for the image's resolution. He also adds a few days' stubble growth. Hey, if this guy went fishing, he didn't bring a razor. Then, he's done. The dead man on the table no longer looks like Craig Christman. Instead, he looks exactly like the man in the photograph. The doc looks tired, suddenly. "Can I go now?"

It's as if he never did kill Craig Christman, just some man he should never have gone fishing. "Yes," Sylar answers Sonny, glancing up at him. "Good work. Make sure for your sake that I never have reason to see you again." He doesn't plan to change the identities of anymore bodies, after all - this was a special case. No, he refers to any other reason he might have to visit Sonny Bianco. "I'm sure Dr. Miller can handle the paperwork and you can pretend you were never here."

Zachery snaps out of his ruse, connections with anatomical intuition promptly aborted. "Hn?" He blinks, lets the picture drop unceremoniously, and looks between the two other men for a moment. "Yes. Yes I can." Then he turns to Sonny alone, his tone distant but somehow, strangely, genuinely grateful, "Thank you."

Sonny cracks a very, very small smile. "The feeling is mutual, not to worry." Then he moves to the sink, to wash the few bits of blood and gore he got on himself. Then it's to his jacket, which he shrugs on. "In fact, I hope the only time I'm ever in this building again is if I'm dead myself. Hopefully from natural causes at the age of 80 while in bed with 21 year olds," his tone is bland. Only now that it's all over does Zach get any kind of acknowledgment - and it's in the form of the darkest, most irritated look the prettyboy can muster. Then he winds a scarf around his neck and, unless stopped, he's out the door and into the street, to his parked car, to get as far away from the morgue as possible in as short a time as possible.

Sylar watches Sonny go with a little bit of dull amusement, but certainly no surprise. This is the sort of interaction Sylar can only expect, although Zachery might not feel the same way. Looking at the coroner now, Sylar goes to stand up, caaarefully as ribs twinge in protest at any sign of movement. "At least still have me," he says, with dark humour not even remotely designed to reassure. He, too, makes for out, to leave Zachery with the rest of the work that needs to be done.

Sonny's irritated look is… a surprise to Zachery too, it seems. Oh. Huh. Well. His expression doesn't know what to do with itself for a moment, before Sylar interrupts his little inward conflict. The killer's comment is mulled over for a moment, but no answer ever comes. It's only when Sylar is out of the door that he he begins to end his day like any other — tonight's ordeal starting with making sure no evidence is left behind. And somehow, every few minutes for an hour or two, something makes him smirk. Yeah. At least he still has Sylar.

Because Haganplayer wants this here:


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