Baptism by Fire


abby_icon.gif carlisle_icon.gif cat_icon.gif francois_icon.gif odessa_icon.gif sasha2_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Baptism by Fire
Synopsis Abigail's ability manifests during an ambush at Old Lucy's that ends in a fiery conflagration.
Date May 15, 2010

Old Lucy's

"Abby, it's Joy." That's not a name Odessa's used for herself to Abby for quite some time. She sounded tense. "I need you to come home right away. I've got some information about Sasha. Something big. I can't talk about it over the phone. I need to see you in person." There had been a pause, the sound of something rustling as if the woman were turning her head, and her hair was brushing over the receiver. "Bring the others." The words were enunciated, given added importance. "I'll be waiting."

That was forty minutes ago.

With Elisabeth unable to wrest herself away from her FRONTLINE-related responsibilities, and Felix bogged down with important work related to the Samson Gray case, only the residents of Greenwich Village (minus one Sicilian) were able to respond to the doctor's call, which had the misfortunate of going straight to Abigail's voicemail, leaving no opportunity to ask questions. By the time she receives the message, the weather patterns have once again shifted and instead of connecting her to Odessa, connects her to a pre-recorded message with which almost every New Yorker has become intimately familiar with these past few weeks.

Your call cannot be connected as dialed. Please hang up and try again.

Old Lucy's darkened interior provides no immediate cause for alarm. Most of Greenwich has been without power for more than a week, and all the tables and chairs are exactly as Abby left them: neatly stacked and pushed up against the walls to open the bar's floor and prevent any accidents in case someone tries to navigate their way upstairs without a flashlight. Fortunately, flashlights are something that she, Francois and Cat all have; clouds with the consistency of molasses turn day into night and night into an inky dreamscape through which motes of light occasionally float.

It's the hypodermic needle on the counter of the bar that's most out of place, its glass cylinder suffused with the glow of Catherine's torch when she swings her beam across it, but even this shouldn't come as a complete surprise. Odessa is an addict, and sometimes addicts relapse.

She's probably upstairs.

No crutches, bundled up to an inch in her life, wool sock over and inside the walking cast, Abigail was the one with the key to the place and had to unlock the door. Doesn't mean that she's the first one in, but it does mean she's at least the second, flashlight flickering over here, there, examining her property to see if anyone had managed to come in and take up refuge in the building or broken in to try and get the alcohol that lines the shelves behind the bar.

It's the syringe that catches her eyes and a soft groan that results in her breath curling out into the air. "I think she got into the box… I have a box of drugs upstairs. Some of the Ferry stash in case I get called. Oh 'dess" Abby murmurs, making her way over to the bar so she can pick up the syringe carefully. "I was supposed to protect you" More to the air than anyone else and a defeated and disappointed look on her face.

"Kitchen will still have gas, she might be back there, keeping warm if she turned the ovens on. Upstairs would be cold as sin" Letting the others know, hoisting herself to peer over the counter to look behind it and see if maybe the blonde is enjoying the contents of the syringe behind the bar and on the floor.

The needle and syringe are eyed as she keeps her flashlight beam upon it, the device clutched in fingers protected by thick gloves. Cat keeps watch as Abby moves to look for Odessa, the flashlight's beam moving ahead to settle on area mentioned for increased effect of visibility. A few steps forward are taken, she also moves to cover Abby's back. But no words are spoken.

Bundled up, flash-light wielding, and armed. Living with someone who insists he carry a firearm should he trek from bedroom to kitchen has made this more or less of a habit now, borrowed pistol tucked beneath the layers of coat — at least until Francois lets flashlight dangle from his wrist as he goes to unzip his jacket with a hint of relief. It's still cold, but the layered warmth is stifling no matter the temperature. He aims the beam of light towards the stairwell, before moving on towards it. "I can check.

"Odessa?" he calls upwards, artlessly and impatient, and there is a slight peeveishness edging his voice that probably has something to do with everything he had to arrange to ensure that he and his conscience could be here. Home life is rough, don't you know. "Joie?"

"Je suis ici, Francois!" Odessa calls from beyond the door to the apartment at the top of the stairs. Her voice is somewhat stuttering, like her teeth are chattering. It's likely as cold as Abby has suggested. "The door is open," she offers in more helpful English for those that don't speak her and Francois' brand of Moon Language.

Not the kitchen, upstairs. Security for the most part, requires electricity. Something she didn't anticipate when Alec installed stuff, but then again, there's manual ways to get through all that or you have Odessa staying above the bar. The needle for the syringe is promptly bent when it's pressed against the bar, making it safe to carry and risk of being stabbed, far less than it was before. Abigail gestures with her chin towards the back room and the door therein that gains one access to the upstairs as she starts heading up there herself in Francois's wake.

Moving along behind Abby, a silenced pistol drawn and ready, is Cat. She doesn't speak, being aware of absent security features and having seen the owner's silent gesture. Steps are taken carefully, to hopefully avoid making sounds. She switches off the flashlight, to let the two ahead of her use theirs if they choose and reduce the apparent number of approaching people.

There is no particular wariness in Francois' leading stride upstairs, his footsteps expected and almost veiling Abby and Cat's audible ascents in their matter-of-fact clomp clomp clomp. He also has the pistol out of its holster and held in his better hand, muzzle angled downwards, both hands of which are gloved in felt-lined leather against the numbing weather outside. The blunt head of the flashlight is used to tap against the door in polite warning, before, with a brief glance back to confirm Cat and Abby's shapes behind him, the Frenchman shoulders his way inside, not immediately offering the bonsoir that rests naturally on the tip of his tongue.

It's just as well that Francois doesn't offer Odessa a greeting; it would have been pre-empted by the crack of the gunshot that rings out the moment the door is open enough to provide the man standing on the other side with a viable target. The bullet slams into the Frenchman's right shoulder with enough force to knock him back into the hall at the top of the stairs, bodily colliding with Abigail behind him.

Dreyfus doesn't constrict his finger around the trigger twice. Francois has disappeared behind the frame before he has the opportunity, and although Cat doesn't have a clean shot from where she's cresting the steps, she can see a sliver of the Englishman's profile through the open door, one arm hooked around a slender neck with curls of dirty blonde hair teasing at its nape.

It puts the syringe downstairs in perspective.

"No!" Odessa cries out in tandem with the gunfire. From Cat's vantage point, she can see the blonde's head turn in toward her shoulder, eyes squeezing shut at the flash of the muzzle seeming so much brighter in the dark of the room.

It's bad, definitely, that Francois has been shot. But what may well be worse is the sudden clomping of boots coming from downstairs, behind Cat. The seriousness of this fact is made all the more apparent when the room downstairs is suddenly lit up by muzzle flashes just as the upstairs hall was, a long burst of gunfire from a MAC-10 or an Uzi or some similar firearm. Bullets slice through the air and tear apart wood and plaster just centimeters from Catherine's head and body, but draw no blood. One attacker for sure, with at least two more made briefly visible while the first fires haphazardly, leaving the trio on the stairs exactly where they don't want to be:


Arms go around the frenchman when he collides with her, awkward steps back with a scream echoing through the hall, even as the pair of them go down to the ground thanks to unsteady gait and impact. "Francois!" Abby bellows in the hall, her hand seeking out the bulletwound so she can put pressure on it. She hadn't been expecting this, hadn't expected the trap that Dreyfus laid out for them, right down to that syringe. There's gunfire from behind and Abby's panic hits. Worse than Russia, at least they had a way out, but here… "Odessa! Stop him!" She pleads. Stop time, stop all of them! Do something other than let a guy stand there and do this.

Her initial thought is Abby did suspect a trap, given her motioning for Francois to ascend instead of speaking words to request it. It's why Cat was also quiet in her following. When the shot is fired and Francois falls back into Abby, the panmnesiac stops and raises the pistol to line up a shot which doesn't exist. Reassessment happens when Odessa screams and moves, she reasons Dreyfus is firing one handed and has an idea of his approximate size.

But before she can take advantage of that and fire, the burst of automatic rounds comes and changes her focus. Gone is the intent to stay silent and not let Dreyfus know she's present, the jig is up. It briefly occurs to her, as Abby calls out to Odessa, that the time-manipulator is faking being hostage. Could be real, morphine does negate, but… she didn't sound like she was loopy from being drugged and Cat is inclined to believe the worst. Not that it matters at the present moment. She has only one real option, which she takes.

Rapid fired rounds from her silenced pistol are sent in the direction that hail of bullets came from.

There's no sound from Francois when he's shot, save for an expulsion of unwilling breath leaving his lungs, the clatter of his pistol to the ground as that arm is disabled, and the inevitable collapse back into Abby's arms as they both go down. He draws in a gasping breath by the time her hand is finding the bullet wound — beneath padded arctic jacket, beneath the layers of wool and cotton quickly flooding wine red. No no no. He flinches as automatic fire rattles wooden frames and sends splinters flying, almost ducking closer into Abby as the men down below open fire.

Bon dieu. His left hand scrabbles for where he'd dropped his pistol, misaligned claws snagging onto the handle and trigger guard and dragging it closer. For all the good it will do him

Sweat carves a sticky path down Abigail's face. She knows it isn't blood because the texture is all wrong, and when it gathers in the corner of one eye, gluing her lashes together, the bubble of adhesive fluid it forms there is colourless. The fever that she's been running burns hotter still when she clamps her hand down around the bullet wound in Francois' shoulder, but she probably isn't expecting smoke to rise from the gaps between her fingers or the material of the Frenchman's coat to begin to burn beneath the pressure.

Inside the apartment, Dreyfus takes a step back, seeking shelter behind the couch but not without dragging Odessa with him. While he is almost certainly fitted with a Kevlar vest beneath the heavy wool of his coat, it's advantageous to possess a human shield in addition to stationary body armor. The sound of his boots on the hardwood startles a four-legged dustball out from its hiding place under the couch, and with a shrill squeal Schrodinger veers across the apartment, covering the distance between the furniture and the open door in a brisk series of leaps and bounds that eventually carry the Persian calico with the squashed face past Abigail and Francois, between Catherine's legs, and safely through the line of gunmen at the bottom of the stairs.

If nothing else, Odessa can die knowing that the thing she cares for most in the world got out alive.

"Have you got rocks in your skull?! I can't!" Odessa shouts back at Abby, furious at the implication that she would be allowing something like this to happen. Her shoes scrape and clomp noisily on the floor as she attempts to dig her stilettos into the wood and keep herself from being dragged along by Dreyfus. Beyond that, however, she doesn't struggle much. Her supposed loyalty to both sides of the conflict has amounted to this. A situation in which neither side would hesitate to blow her brains out. Though Odessa's willing to bet Dreyfus would feel the least remorse about it.

The gunmen downstairs came prepared for a fight, but clearly, they did not come prepared for cats. When Cat returns fires, her reward in a cry of pain and a loud thump in the darkness, although it's presently impossible to tell if someone's been killed or simply wounded. That was bad enough.

When Schrodinger comes tearing down the stairs, it's among the last of things that anyone was expecting. One of them, if there are only two left, keeps his cool. The other panics and fires off his own spray of gunfire, completely missing both Schrodinger and Catherine, but raking a loose grouping of three rounds across Abigail's lowers back. Her spine and vital organs are spared, but she is still left with two angry holes and one nick in her side eager to start pumping out blood. Downstairs, there is momentary silence as the team's remaining adversaries reload and reassess their own situation.

God is getting a whole lot of verbal time from Abigail as she pulls her hand away from Francois's shoulder, staring at her hand in slight horror. Did she just add a burn to Francois's short list of injuries? Possibly, maybe, she's trying to get away from him, ducking her head from the spray of bullets, only they were going lower. Another scream to deafen Francois and Cat as she arches her back from the holes that god certainly has not put in her body when she was born. At least they didn't go into Francois? Maybe perhaps.. they will both end up in the same hospital room when all is said and done, should they survive.

"Shoot them!" She screams, trying to curl up, make herself as small as possible in the hallway, hands going to her side, then not, then back, then away as if she doesn't know whether she can even touch herself, for fear of … smoldering her clothes? "Shoot them!"

On it! Once the second burst of gunfire from down the stairs has ended, not knowing the full impact of her return, Cat moves. She seizes the pistol Francois is groping after and moves down the stairs as quietly as she can make herself be. Close to the entrance, she flattens herself against the wall and counts three. Then she lowers to the floor.

From that position, she raises both pistols and fires three shots from each into the room beyond, aimed at a height where she expects knees or legs will be hit, then rolls back out of the doorframe to avoid any resulting counterfire. Hopefully if any comes, it'll be aimed high while she is low.

The second floor windows are an identical shade of infecund frost-bitten white, today, as they have been for weeks. One is made different to the rest by virtue of a passing shadow behind it, from over Dreyfus' shoulder. A face in the frosted pane, a blurred span of lean shoulders, all of it soft-focus and diluted by distance, except for the momentary glint of a single blue eye through the two-inch gap between encroached ice crystals and the uppermost edge of the window frame.

The cyclopean gaze alights on Dreyfus, or at least: the back of Dreyfus' head, and shoulders straining bracketed around the temporal manipulator he has fish-trapped between his arms and his pistol, swivel briefly at the shadows strewn across the corner of the window. Blond-fringed eyelids close and open again, a little blearily, before both the speculative orb and the head attached drop neatly out of view.

The window shatters. An infinitely familiar Sicilian comes swinging in, boots-first, the fire-escape's corrugated-iron rust nocked into the grooves on the upturned flash of one rubber sole, before the second comes hurdling inward fast.

Teo doesn't overestimate how fast he is, however; not while he's still, you know. A little sleepy. Too much to send an elbow straight down Dreyfus' skull, just then. Instead, there is mathematical anticipation of the turn, swing, and his eyes are on the pistol instead of the two by the door or the hostage in her ginger grief. His gloved hands starfish out to snatch and control the gun-arm.

Aa-aand. Aaand his gun is gone from loose fingers, leaving him bereft— no, leaving the second floor bereft of weapons in friendly hands when Cat goes storming on down, but fortunately (???) Francois does not have to worry about his stolen piece so much as Abby's sharp scream echoing in the hallway seconds after the acrid reek of burning clothing has him jerking away from her hands.

Clutching onto his injured shoulder and hissing at the mingled sensations of torn flesh, muscle, battered bone and now this strange sting of burns, he levers his back again the wall, just across from her and out of sight of the immediate view of the apartment's door after some scuffling.

Francois doesn't like this. Feeling trapped. If only he hadn't—

The crash of someone making a heroic entrance in the other room doesn't escape him, but he's not about to peek, either. Disbelief wars over his features gone pallid since he started bleeding from his shoulder, but his focus is on Abigail, with a look in green eyes as if staring across at a dangerous animal.

Gold light floods out from the holes in Abigail's back and side, ten times brighter than the dilute wash of the flashlights they carry. It bathes the stairwell in a radiant halo, banishing shadows back into the cracks in the walls and the highest corners of the ceiling with the cobwebs feather dusters can't reach and the withered spider-mummies that inhabit them. Something is happening inside of her.

It illuminates Catherine's view of the bar downstairs and two of the gunmen taking shelter behind an overturned table, its chairs tipped over, discarded. The third is partially visible behind the counter, slumped against a cabinet with his hand clutching fingers like talons at his side and lips curled back around teeth gritted in obvious pain.

At one point or another, her aim was true.

Unfortunately, the light acts as a double-edged sword; at the same time the gunmen are made visible to Catherine, Catherine is made visible to the gunmen, and the shooter behind the counter does not hesitate to lean around it and open up on her. His first shot goes wide and ricochets off one of the overhead lights, shattering glass. The second impacts itself in the hardwood mere inches from Catherine's dark-haired head. He doesn't get a chance to pop off a third. Another brisk crackle of gunfire erupts from downstairs, bullets cutting a wide swath across the top of the counter and driving the injured gunman back behind it.

Teodoro isn't the only late arrival, but Catherine cannot yet see who's responsible for providing her with the cover fire she needs to find her own table — only the damage that they've so far inflicted.

Upstairs, Dreyfus' gun goes spinning across the floorboards, discarded in a snap decision that weighed the loss against what could potentially happen if the Sicilian gained control of it. In the scuffle, he loses his grip on Odessa and shifts his focus fully onto the young man with shards of broken glass glittering in his blond scruff. His arm not caught in Teodoro's grasp goes to his side, and the sound of metal sliding smooth across rougher leather fills Odessa's ears. There's the flash of a blade, its point aimed for Teodoro's midsection—

At some point, everybody feels the fight or flight instincts within them kick in. For years, Odessa has been able to override knee-jerk reaction by grabbing the reins of time and pulling everything to a halt and think. There have been so few instances in which this wasn't possible that the woman still isn't quite sure how to trust her gut. It tends to get her into trouble as it is. With Dreyfus having tipped the scales in his favour by injecting her with some sort of negation formula — and just where does he find this stuff anyway? — Odessa can only trust generally mistrusted instincts.

Faced with the option to duck out from under Dreyfus' arm and simply run for cover, Odessa instead throws her weight at the man's knees with a heavy grunt of exertion. If she has her way, she'll knock Carlisle Dreyfus off his feet. "Knife!" she calls out, for Teo's benefit, in case he doesn't catch the glint of the blade in the dark. For once, fight has trumped flight.

Bullets flying, frenchmen dying - Okay, not dying. Southern belles hands splayed in horror and trying to plaster her hand over her side to try and cut off the light as feet windmill to shove herself up against the wall in cut off the rest of the light with wood and fabric as she looks over to Francois also down, panic curling around her throat like an old friend, only without the help from Logan and just the situation.

She's manifesting and Caliban wasn't kidding when he said she'd notice. Everything still hurts, burning in her midriff, on her side and she starts to make sounds very much akin to a wounded animal. Cat forgotten, Odessa and her hostage state forgotten as she locks eyes with Francois, starting to cry. Peter is going to kill her, if she dies here. Come into heaven and drag her back down to kill her again.

Good strategy, being low. The return fire went just high enough, Cat concludes. She moves a few inches, enough to look out into the area beyond and verify there isn't anyone right there aiming to shoot at her again. Then she moves forward slowly, to bring herself into a position where she can use the doorframe as shelter and aim the pistol around that corner. She remembers the width of the counter clearly. It's pictured in her mind's eye and used to guide her actions. The silenced pistol in her hand whispers twice, metallic clicks made as she aims for where she approximates legs are.

Then she's calling out to whoever appears to be the friendly gun hand. "How many total?" she asks sharply.

Knife. Teo almost does miss it, he's blurry from things better left undiscussed until a later time, but the wink of metal does catch his periphery with Odessa's warning. Her deft-shouldered interference staggers the stab long enough for him to adjust his compromise to compensate for Dreyfus' compromise. Not the sleek and agile kung-fu gun-kata blow-block-blow flurry one might otherwise have expected of murderers of their caliber.

Teo gets himself cut. At a slanted angle, a shallower slash than any of the punctures responsible for the battle-scars Francois wears on his hide, distanced by a twist of his hip, a slight downward stoop. The rip of steel through his skin burns, and his grip on the man's other arm tightens to stave it off.

He has half a second to wonder who Cat is talking to, and why it smells like burning up here, before he straightens with a jack-knife swerve of velocity, ramming his head into the Englishman's.

Crack. Teo's recoil the next instant is less his own idea than automatic instinct, kneejerk, except— with his head. Stars in his eyes, a furry neon static tumbling around in the bowl of his skull. From here, it looks a little like Abby is catching on fire. "Get outside!" he shouts, loud enough to resound through the floor and the ceiling below.

The light is not only bright, but hot, Francois shifting an inch away but this time looking distinctly helpless to assist as opposed to truly fearful, blood smearing along the wall with the movement. Abigail staring across at him is almost as entrapping, disablishing as being shot in the shoulder, keeping him low and down and held in her attention for all that there's nothing he can do for her. He doesn't even have something he could help knock her out with, hands empty and blood smeared, and when Teo tells someone— him, her, hard to say— to run, he doesn't.

There have been many studies performed on the myth of spontaneous human combustion, none of them conclusive, and if you'd asked anyone on the street their opinion prior to Nathan Petrelli's famous announcement, most of them would tell you they didn't believe it.

What happened in Midtown changed all that.

The light bleeding from Abby's wounds goes brighter and brighter until all at once she explodes into white-hot flame, clothes seared clean off her back. Hair, skin and muscle peel away until all that's left of her is the thin, ethereal figure of a willowy young woman composed of holy fire burning so hot that the walls are the next thing to catch, followed by the fine hairs on the back of Francois' neck and then the material of his jacket where there is already a scorched palm print on the shoulder where she first touched him.

"«Only three,»" Sasha Kozlow's voice barks at Catherine from across the bar in his native Russian. "«Do you want the two behind the table or the one pissing himself behind the counter?»"

And if the gunman wasn't pissing himself before, he probably is now. Cat's shots punch through the counter, make pulp of the glass inside and ding off the cabinet's handle. Two misses. Unless she vaults over the counter or risks putting herself in the view of the two gunmen behind the table in order to come around the other side, she's not going to have much luck if she continues pursuing her current strategy.

Teodoro and Odessa are slightly more successful. The butt to the head sends the old man staggering back as Odessa is driving her shoulder into his knees and he goes down, wool jacket flapping, but the resonant thump of his body connecting hard with the floor does not signal an end to the fight. Francois has seen Dreyfus in action enough times that he can anticipate what comes next, but it happens so fast that there's nothing he can do to stop it from happening. A sharp snap has Dreyfus twisting around on the floor with the speed of crocodile lurching up out of the water, jaws splayed. His leg swiftly sweeps Teodoro's feet out from under him as he simultaneously jerks his hand out and hooks Odessa's hair in his fingers, roughly dragging her down into the knife he holds in his other.

The momentum does most of the work for him, but rather than slide it back out again when it cannot go in any further, he uses it to cleave through her middle, eviscerating her in one precise movement that ends with a sharp twist of his wrist to free the blade from her innards.

The original plan had been to take the momentum, follow through, and scramble to the kitchen where her scalpel ended up discarded on the floor after her house guest came calling. There's a very startled and surprised cry that escapes Odessa's lips when things do not go according to plan. When her hair is grabbed and she goes tumbling downward and onto Dreyfus' knife. Her dark blue eyes bulge when it slides past her stomach as easily as if she had been made of butter. When he just gets vicious about it, the only thing that follows is a strangled choking sound.

Odessa fixes him with a look of utter disbelief, evident even though tainted by unimaginable pain. A thousand thoughts run through her head all at once. He betrayed her - never mind that she betrayed him first. He got the better of her and he's not even Evolved. When she goes rolling onto the floor, she stares up at the ceiling. Or rather up at nothing. Her senses seem to have been robbed from her. Abby's setting the night on fire, and Odessa can't see it for the sudden darkness clouding her vision. One thought roars in her ears and deafens her. He's killed her.

Downstairs, panic sets in. Dreyfus' goons are down one of their number in terms of effective fighters, they're being shot at from two different directions- to the front and from behind- and to make things really interesting, someone is on fire. It's time to cut and run, and they go about this in the only way men with senses clouded by panic can. They turn their attention fully towards the exit, where the voice spouting Russian or some other angry language came from, and proceed to empty their weapons at it, hoping to hit something and clear the way. After all, their other opposition is surely more interested in trying to extinguish their friend.


She will likely be one tenth really upset that she will be naked afterward, then another tenth, that her costly cast has been melted and poofed, but mostly upset that people she loves and her bar is burning before her very eyes. Not that she can //see/ it like the others can. With this change - subsequent clamping of eye's shut and screaming before she exploded into what she is now - She seeing in a completely different way. Francois, Teo, Dreyfus, Odessa, all shades of blue, fading to oranges and reds the closer they are to her and warmer they get.

Away from the others she move, scrabbling back on hands of living flame, setting the place ablaze as she goes but moving away from Francois and Teo, unable to yell at them to get out, get out not and fast. She doesn't know how to turn it off and what was a pinned down corridor is fast become a hot box and a death box for the others.

She doesn't actually know Abby is on fire, but it does dawn on her something is. She knows Abby and Francois are both shot. Getting them out of the fire would be good, but the shooters are between her and the exit, opening fire. It gives her the cover she needs. Cat hopes so, anyway. Upstairs there is still Dreyfus to deal with. Best to clear the path to the exit so they can make their own escape and keep the other one at bay.

She comes out to approach the counter's other side, there quickly firing a pair at the area behind it in case the man is still there, then turns her attention to those trying to escape. Both guns she holds are brought to bear, aimed at them and firing quickly.

Teo's eyes are bigger in his head than they've been in the past two hours, stunned at the catching, brightening conflagration that is his friend, nearly to the point of distraction from the man murdering an ally on the floor. It would probably count as a distraction if it weren't, in fact, salient information. One thing to the other. Bleeding to death on a place that is structurally stable and promises to be for the forseeable future is better than bleeding to death in a place that's catching on fire with a blond woman screaming in terror in the middle.

He gets up, but not to his feet. One knee, latching the low table by the wall with its leg, ignoring the shuffling crash of books, papers, and the clock perched up on it. The furniture pitches a haphazard arc in the air over his shoulder, his fingers clutched white on its leg, and he swings it like a bat neatly into Dreyfus' back.

Mostly just to get him out of the fucking way. There's a haphazard kick, next, then a scrabbling; Teo's arms come out, elbows scraping close to the floor, hooking in underneath Odessa's bleeding torso fast as he can. She's yanked upward, fast, covered by the stoop of his shoulders as well as he can, the herky-jerky motions of staggering knees and disorientation. He needs to get out. He is going to get out. He just needs a few seconds.

"Abigail," he yells.

As searing heat goes flooding forth from the woman he's crumpled across, Francois yells — incoherent, wordless, startled as he scrabbles back, useless arm jarred and then gripped by his working hand as he strives to distance himself, eyes squeezing shut where a photonegative version of the fire nymph's slender body is imprinted into his eyeballs. The air is starting to get smokey, and he can still hear gunshots downstairs. "Teo!" he calls out, when he hears his voice. "She's— "

She's what? On fire? No. That doesn't seem accurate. Getting his legs under him and laboriously standing, he's immediately more mobile on his feet, staggering for the apartment door and leaving the living fireball behind, saving his vision from a worried glance back.

Working on automatic, the shape of Carlisle's abandoned gun on the ground is one Francois gravitates to, scooping it up in his left hand that sure at least looks like it can fire when he points it without hesitation at its previous owner, back coming to rest against the wall next to the door. He looks injured and slightly singed, and very tired, and the look to Teo suggests the younger man follow his own advice, and quickly.

Flames spread down the stairwell, reducing the wallpaper to burning ribbons that curl in on themselves as they're devoured, exposing scorched sections of brick behind it. When they make the leap from the stairs to the bar below, flooding up to the rafters in search of more flammable material to consume, some of the noxious black smoke that had begun to choke the corridor follows them by waterfalling down the stairs, and there's no one among them who will appreciate how much it resembles — just for the briefest of moments — a dead man whose ability continues to live on in another. Just Odessa, and the only darkness she sees crowds in around the corners of her vision as vague shadows.

The gunmen behind the table are so occupied with eliminating Sasha that they fail to factor Catherine into the equation. One catches a bullet to the chest, the other to the face, spraying the window behind them with a viscous mixture of blood and chunkier brain matter, some of it peppered with skull fragments too small to be seen by the naked eye. Sasha surges out of his hiding place the next instant, pistol clutched between two gloved hands, its muzzle pointed at the floor as he strides purposefully toward the counter where the only surviving gunman is still huddled against the cabinet. Rather than waste time going around the side, he launches himself over it with a fluid grace Catherine hasn't witnessed from him since Ryazan.

The injuries he sustained in Seaview's collapse apparently aren't the only ones that Peter healed. On the other side, he levels his weapon with the gunman's head and the same stuff spattered across the window on the other side of the room courtesy of Catherine explodes with a wet pop across the mirror behind the bar.

Dreyfus is in the process of heaving himself to his feet when the table comes down on his back and sends him down again, his grunt of pain lost to the sound of the roaring flames and the blood pounding in everyone else's ears. The knife is still clutched in his hand as Francois swings the pistol's aim toward him, then holds it there, and although he does not let go of the weapon, what's going on behind his eyes darkens them. For the first time since he started down this path, he's doing what Odessa has been encouraging him to.


There's an old saying, however, about leopards and spots, tigers and stripes, and no number of years wasting away in his dusty office at Ryazan State University will change who or what he is. He moves slowly, laboriously, crawling across the floor on his elbows with the grip of the bloodied knife pinched between his fingers. His eyes haven't left Francois', and unless something inserts itself between him and the Frenchman, they won't until they've gone glassy.

There's a panicked and pained cry that escapes Odessa's throat when Teo scoops her up. The sound is too wet to quite be considered comforting that she's alive. Chances are that she won't be for much longer. She doesn't know what's going on around her, and it only occurs to her as an after though to reach up to her own stomach and try and hold all the important bits in place. Staunching the flow of blood is just not going to be possible.

Even though she doesn't see the smoke go rolling down the stairwell in a manner that would make her heart swell, the shadows swirling across her vision have her wondering if that dead man has come to collect her now. If she had to imagine such a thing before, it would have brought a smile to Odessa's lips. But the reality of it is too fucking terrifying for smiles or romantic notions.

The ethereal face that seems to exist within the flame looks to Teo as he calls out to her and clearly, she can hear him. Can hear them all and can see who is helping who and the shifting shades of bleu that comprise Dreyfus. The one that no one else is helping. Up from the floor she unfolds, no need to worry about how much weight she's putting on a foot, a thought and plan in her mind and moving with purpose towards Francois like she had done on a bridge over a year ago.

She can't help but light things on fire as she goes, but around Francois, giving him as wide a berth as she can, give them all a wide berth with a sweep of her hand towards the fire exit. Go, get out of here, don't stay here, all ghostly like in her movements. Except one. Down a hand goes around Dreyfus's arm and the knife, and yanks back, yanking him towards her so she can wrap him in an embrace and hold tight, covering him with herself. Abigail's second ever act of deliberate murder.

She stops firing when it appears all the opponents have been rendered dead. Skoll's presence had registered by voice from the start, but alarm was abated by his acting on their behalf. Cat realizes he could have acted against her by now; if he were going to she decides it would have already happened. He is eyed with some wariness nonetheless, just before attention is paid to the situation which develops. Fire. "Going to help extract if I can, see if they need help dealing with him."

Skoll can leave if he chooses, or assist. But her course is clear. She turns back to head for the stairs and discover the situation, see if she can give aid. She has issues with abandoning people, and unless it's clear the situation is hopeless…

She doesn't intend to leave anyone behind.

Teo's face has gone white, almost in spite of the eerie orange light cloying the apartment. It is an impossible spectacle, reminds him of the stories he ignored when he was a child upon his father's knee or beneath the palm of the priest Kozlow had murdered in Palermo only a few months ago. A creature gifted with flight, like-human but not-human, acts of destruction as harsh relief wrought righteously upon miserable, hateful men in dingy coats. "Dio del cazzo."

Reverence and scataology all in one shot. He yanks Odessa up closer to himself, pays no mind to the dark fluid slopping up against his sweater. He understands Francois' orders, where they're coming from, why. He hesitates anyway, and it isn't merely token; his boots drag across the floor, his eyes skip between the pistol, the growing reek of flesh, his hackles riding up in anticipation of Dreyfus' noxious screams.

Another curse. He says, 'Francois,' crossly— to make a point or desperate beseeching that there isn't enough time to say, but it's lost under the roar of flames. Twisting on one boot, he sprints toward the door, hitching only the briefest pivot to slam his boot into the door paneling the knob is rooted into. Wood splits from wood, and both the scarred Sicilian and the bloodied woman in his arms careen out of the egress onto the fire escape.

There's a no that goes here, English in its emphasis, as blazing light goes streaming past him to wrap its limbs around Dreyfus in a witch's death. It's the same kind of horror that was written into Francois' expression when he'd been turned into stone, gun stupidly pointing at the spectacle in front of him and legs stuck as they are even as Teo's says his name and goes racing for the fire escape, dragging Odessa's stumbling limbs with him. Death is distracting business. His right hand joins his left, pain roaring up his limb and shooting through his chest as hot as the tendrils of fire licking up off Dreyfus' body.

Francois' pained groan will go unheard, as his fingers retract inwards, pull the trigger in a deadly twitch of gunfire and muzzle flash. A bullet flits on by, and takes pieces of skull and flesh with it, and likely all the screaming that comes with being burned alive.

He isn't sure if he'll have to ask Abby's forgiveness later, or the other way around. There's probably been enough sorry between the two of them to last one of Francois' lifetimes.

This done, the gun drops, heavily, left hand gripping right arm as he bolts for the fire exit in Teo's wake, lungs burning on the stench of smoke as he lurches, disappears from the room.

It's not a yank as much as it is coaxing Dreyfus into doing what Abigail wants; as flame, she is unable to interact with the world in the same way she does when flesh, but the gestures still have their intended effect. Dreyfus jerks back instinctively at the blistering touch, a haggard scream torn from the pit of his throat as she folds flickering limbs around his body and draws it into her core. She peels the skin from his face the same way the bar below is being stripped of its wallpaper, but it's flesh pulled taut over bone that this exposes instead of brick siding, and it too melts away in the conflagration. It's as much a relief to Abigail as it is to Dreyfus when Francois cuts his suffering abruptly short.

Skeletal fingers lit orange still cinched around the knife and a skull half blown away with eyes withering in their sockets are the last thing Francois and Catherine will see before the smoke becomes too thick, too smothering to make out anything except for the shapeless masses it forms as the fire continues to churn around them.

Downstairs, Sasha waits at the bottom of the steps for Catherine to reappear and anxiously watches the flames licking and leaping among the rafters overhead from beneath a knit brow. The temperature is rising, the smoke continuing to thicken and slowly, unstoppably march downward from the ceiling towards the floor. "Chesterfield!" he shouts up at Catherine, hoarse voice muffled by the sleeve he holds across his nose and mouth.

There's just fire when Cat reaches the stairs and can look up to see what's going on. No Teo, no Odessa. No Dreyfus. No Abby. None of them as far as she can tell. She knows she can't get through it unscathed.

With there being no perceived way to achieve anything other than getting herself killed too, Cat reverses course. Back down the stairs she goes, making a beeline for the front door past Skoll. "Out," she says in a hushed voice. "All gone. No apparent survivors."

Out she goes into the cold winter and away from the doomed structure, hoping to spot other escapees.

Fuck that. Teo all but falls down the stairs, girl ensconced in arms, their blood mixing in clumpy clothy mess through the razored gap in his sweater. He lands halfway into a drift, hearing Francois closer, and too much fire further than that. Haste does not make him entirely ungentle, as he lays Odessa down, shifting her off his lap, hikes his shoulders into a shrug to peel his coat loose. Fat fabric flung out over her prone body, her wrists snagged and pulled around to lay over the wound through it. Put pressure. And Francois—

—will put pressure, too. And call, if nobody has called, but surely someone will call because there is smoke columning into the ashy sky for a hundred yards already, and it stinks out here of ash and asphyxiating death, promises to reek of incinerated organic matter the closer you get.

None of this matters, somehow. Quantities known and obvious inverted and misproportioned to the calculations of Teodoro's brain. He is saying something helpful about staunching the flow, calling Peter, here's his phone, he is under 'P,' and he is turning to sprint back toward the corrugated iron of the stairs as if heat shimmers aren't weaving coy mirages above the landings, by now, and the socket of the broken-through doorway lit up like the mouth of fucking Hell. Abigail's inside, see. And Helena had said—

Yes, Francois will put pressure, and let Teo's phone fall into the snow as a result, as well as let— if not willingly— let Teo go loping back into the burning fucking building. "Teo!" he yells, louder than he's probably ever tried to raise his voice at the younger man, with a kind of dizzying anger slamming through him that might mean he doesn't see straight for a moment, or that could be his gunshot wound. If Abby needed saving, does he not think Francois— ?

"Non, arretez!" For all that shouting at him probably won't mean anything.

To Teo's credit, Francois at least trusts him not to be entirely stupid as to get himself killed, ahaha, and he stays where he is, kneeling in snow next to Odessa. "Need to up the doseage next time," he half tells Odessa, as he keeps the wadded fabric compressed against her wound, for all that his world is bleeding white at the edges of his vision. "Fils de pute." Son of a bitch. Green eyes seek out her blue, checking for clarity.

All gone. No apparent survivors.

A glance up in the direction of the apartment at the top of the stairs is all that Sasha's willing to spare, and if he feels any remorse at the news of Dreyfus' passing, it isn't displayed on his face. Like a dog called to heel, he lopes out of the bar a few strides behind Catherine and holsters his weapon in the leather sling he wears under his coat. The heat rolling off the building's exterior as its interior burns is powerful enough that he doesn't immediately pull up his scarf over his nose and mouth. Steers his attention toward the fire escape instead, watery blue eyes narrowing a fraction when he spies the bundle in Teodoro's arms and the wisps of blonde hair blown across the Sicilian's shoulder by the wind before he lays it down in the snow.

The air should be filled with the sound of sirens, but the probability of the New York City Fire Department showing up to quash the flames is no better than Abby emerging unscathed from the inferno raging at their backs. By morning, embers will be all that remains of the lot where Old Lucy's once stood.

Captains are supposed to go down with their ships. Sasha wonders if the same holds true for bartenders and their bars.

It doesn't seem fair, but Carlisle Dreyfus knows this better than anyone: life rarely is.

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