Between Devils


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Scene Title Between Devils
Synopsis A deal is struck. Let's see how well they stick to it.
Date October 29, 2007

Ruins of Midtown

Standing in the ruins of Midtown, it's hard to believe New York is still a living city.

There's life enough around the fringes — the stubborn, who refused to rebuild somewhere else; the hopeful, who believe the radiation is gone, or that they somehow won't be affected. Businesses, apartment complexes, taxis and bicycles and subways going to and fro — life goes on. Perhaps more quietly than in other parts of the city, shadowed by the reminder that even a city can die, but it does go on.

Then there is the waste. The empty core for which the living city is only a distant memory. Though a few major thoroughfares wind through the ruins, arteries linking the surviving halves, and the forms of some truly desperate souls can occasionally be glimpsed skulking in the shadows, the loudest noise here is of the wind whistling through the mangled remnants of buildings. Twisted cords of rebar reach out from shattered concrete; piles of masonry and warped metal huddle on the ground, broken and forlorn. Short stretches of road peek out from under rubble and dust only to disappear again shortly afterwards, dotted with the mangled and contorted forms of rusting cars, their windows long since shattered into glittering dust.

There are no bodies — not even pieces, not anymore. Just the bits and pieces of destroyed lives: ragged streamers fluttering from the handlebar which juts out of a pile of debris; a flowerbox turned on its side, coated by brick dust, dry sticks still clinging to the packed dirt inside; a lawn chair, its aluminum frame twisted but still recognizable, leaning against a flight of stairs climbing to nowhere.

At the center of this broken wasteland lies nothing at all. A hollow scooped out of the earth, just over half a mile across, coated in a thick layer of dust and ash. Nothing lives here. Not a bird; not a plant. Nothing stands here. Not one concrete block atop another. There is only a scar in the earth, cauterized by atomic fire. This is Death's ground.

Here is where it all started. It's very late at night, now, and Sylar is alone, observing the scarred wasteland of Midtown. He's dressed darkly, in that same thick woolen jacket, although now it hangs open. The very perceptive might see that it's torn at the right arm, the dark cloth also stained with blood, and in contrast to that, a crisp white shirt is what he wears underneath. His feet crunch on gravel as he walks, keeping to himself, eyes forward. It's a cold night, but otherwise dry, though he can tell there's a humidity in the air that might mean rain is impending, clouds restrained but heavy in the sky.

Wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and a brown leather jacket over that, a man comes bumbling along the street. The man is walking strangely in the distance as he comes closer to Sylar. Though it doesn't look like he's set on a specific destination. He seems to be.. drunk. And as he nears it would seem clearer that he has been drinking. A paper bag is held in his right hand, a small bottle neck sticking out of it. It looks like the man Sylar knows as Jonathan Wells has been upset, and has taken to booze to ease his sorrows. Steam comes from his breath as he staggers drunkenly towards Gabriel.

It's abandoned, out here, none of the hustle and bustle of the more populated parts of New York. Maybe that's why Sylar takes this route. When he hears someone approaching, he doesn't look up, at first, but when he comes closer, those footsteps stumbling and out of rhythm, he pays attention. For a moment, his eyes narrow, and despite the distance, he can see the man's face quite clearly - and can recognise it. Who knows what the hell that could mean, though, so Sylar resumes his walking, at a more cautious pace, eyes set on the man, wary.

Giving him a glazed once over, Ethan lets out a large happy greeting. One that is equally incomprehensible as it is gleeful. The man seems to have quite a bit of trouble with walking though. And once the two are near, Ethan's steps are severely miscalculated and the man is in for one heck of a tumble lest Sylar should decide to help him…

His hand reaches out to grab a hold of the man's shoulder, bunching the fabric there and keeping him upright. Notably, his left arm, not his right, but that's as far as his charity goes. "Mr. Wells," he greets, although it's not a friendly greeting - his tone is full of impatience, guardedness, and some severity, but the act is a convincing one - hence the hand gripping onto the man's sweatshirt, mostly at arm length. "You must be lost."

And.. click. A noise that would be easily heard by one such as Sylar. And then a crash of glass breaking. The man stands up fully, alcohol is on his breath. But Ethan Holden has not been drunk in years. Tonight is no exception. A slow pan down would reveal that the only part of a bottle that was in the paper bag was the neck of it.. Just enought to make it look like a bottle. So what was really in the bag? In Ethan's hand now is a small, shiny, silver revolver. And the trigger was already pulled. No shot though just a click. Ethan's expression is not of surprise or shock, it's level. Clearly a statement of, 'it's not loaded, but it could have been'. "Hello Gabriel. Can we talk?"

The click is enough for Sylar's hand to quite suddenly loosen from Ethan's shirt, backing up a step - and gaze going down to the revolver in the man's hand. The point is made effectively, but he doesn't have to be happy about it. His left hand comes up again, and Ethan will find himself quite held in place, as if the center of his body was made immovable, leaving the rest of it free to move and react. There's a quiver, as if Sylar is tempted to simply hurl the man away - he's had a bad night, after all - but he resists, keeping the hold where it is. "That depends, Mr. Wells, are you a fast talker?"

Ethan takes a moment to get used to not being able to move his chest. It's a feeling he's not quite accustomed to. Though his facial features do not betray him, nor even does his heart beat. Ethan Holden is a professional. He remains cool and calm, inwards and out. He has other weapons on him that he could reach for, but right now.. Diplomacy is the option he takes to.

"We've both killed many people Gabriel. For our own reasons, and in our own ways. I'm a bit more conventional myself." He explains, despite Sylar's implication of a threat, Ethan does not go out of his way to talk fast and explain. "I figure that gives us a bit of common ground maybe. But besides that, I think there's a bit of business that could be had between us. Beneficial to both parties I hope." The Brit says, waiting patiently for Sylar to mull this over.

The hold doesn't seem to let up, distrust blatantly obvious in Sylar's face, hand still poised - but he listens. The severity of his expression lessens, a little, as pieces of information are finally put into place. "You're a part of them," he says, deducing and accusing at the same time. "Eileen, to Armand, to you. The Evolved murders, that's what you mean, isn't it?" Suddenly, the telekinetic grip disappears, and Ethan can breath just a little easier, pressure gone. "Then yes, I suppose we have some things in common. I didn't know you could tell that much from someone's palm." There's a prompt, there, a demand for an explanation, but it can go ignored.

As the pressure releases, Ethan shakes his body around a bit. "Do you smoke?" He asks for now, not answering anything just yet. Reaching into his coat pocket he pulls out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. "I do know a bit about you Gabriel. That's true." Taking one cigarette out he places it in his mouth. "But you see, I've got a job to do, and you 'ave me balls in a bit of a vice. Now I was 'opin we could work that out." His accent now transitions from the American of 'Jonathan Wells' to Ethan's normal cockney accent. "It seems you have a way of seducin' women Gabriel. Don't ya? You're a charming son of a bitch." He offers the pack of cigarettes to the other mass murderer.

English accent. An unstoppable, if somewhat bitter smirk pulls at Sylar's mouth, and he lets loose a chuckle. "I don't smoke," he confirms, hands now sliding into his pockets. He has no weapons, no physical ones anyway, but otherwise seems to relax a little. "Did I take something you wanted, Mr. Wells?" he asks, almost sweetly. "I did see her first, you know. Finders keepers."

"Well do you mind if I do?" Ethan asks before striking up the lighter. He's courteous, at least. The cigarette in his mouth, unlit. "Well, as a matter of fact you did. But, I reckon there's a way we can work it out for both of ours benefit." He pauses, looking at the man. "I would like you to urge Gillian back to 'Pariah'." He says, raising his free hand up to do a 'quote un-quote' thing with his fingers before dropping it. "And I would appreciate it if you would stop messing with Eileen's head. Whatever you said to her had her all up in arms, ruined a perfectly good dinner, it did." He shakes his hand dismissively as if forgiving him for that. "Anyway, she'll probably want to return to Pariah after she finds out that her sister has been kidnapped by this company." He gives a sympathetic shrug, as if saying 'too bad for her'. "A nudge in the right direction from you would be greatly appreciated."

Sylar raises one thick eyebrow, clearly at least a little surprised at some of what Ethan says. It could just be for show. "I didn't mess with Eileen's head at all," he says, flatly. "I only asked her a few questions." He starts to pace, now, in a wide, circular route around Ethan, not-so-subtly circling the man. "And she gave me some surprising answers. I've been following your group's work, you know. Fate seems to have brought us together before I could do any real searching. But then I suppose, people like us, we have common interests. Like Gillian. What makes you think I'll hand her back to you?"

Yith no answer, Ethan just figures smoking is fine so he lights up. Placing the lighter away, the man takes a drag from his cigarette and rolls back on his heels languidly. "Whatever you said to 'er she came up with that teenage rebellion shit. I had a perfectly good chicken dinner made." The man shakes his head as if still rather sore about that chicken. He doesn't turn to follow Sylar, he remains in one direction allowing Sylar to go to his back should he wish it. Fearless. Or something like it. "Because Gabriel, no one could do what you have done lest they have a bit of sense in them. You obviously have sense in you my good friend. So you'll take the good deal? Am I right? I'm fuckin right. You don't have to hand 'er back Gabriel, come wit 'er if it gets you hard. I don't give a fuck. I know you want power. So if your wantin' power and my job they go hand in hand, why not work together?" Now he turns to face Sylar, wherever he may be. "Like that one chink said, enemy of my enemy is my fuckin' friend. Yeah?" A smirk around the glowing ember of the cigarette. "You want power, I'll lead you to a fuckin' gold mine. Gillian can be your queen of destruction if that's what you want. Keep her by your side. But let me do my thing."

There's some silence, the killer obviously thinking through what he's being told, flat gaze remaining on Ethan's face, before flickering down to the rubble-strewn sidewalk on which they stand. "The reason why you no longer have Gillian is because she values her freedom," he says, finally. "And that's what I offered her, and protection. I can't use her like a tool— not yet anyway." Because they both know that there's a reason Sylar is keeping her so close, and it's certainly not out of the goodness of his heart, a questionable muscle at best. But. There's always a but. "What goldmine?"

"We will create situations that will greatly increase her need of us. Of me. All you need to do is give her a nudge." He dips his shoulder and scoots across the pavement, demonstrating a nudge. "In the right direction. You come wit' 'er. Be 'er support structure. Tell 'er you're scared too. I don't know, you're obviously good at this con game, so I bet you could manage it." Then Sylar takes the bait, he's interested. Taking the cigarette out ouf his mouth, Ethan exhales the words just like the smoke. "Pariah, the Company.. Whoever you want. They'll all go down eventually. Depending on how long you want to work with us."

The bait was easily taken - if you want to be technical, the murders themselves were decent enough breadcrumbs in themselves. So Sylar listens to words he's almost been wanting and waiting to hear, even if he doesn't snap up the offer just yet. Instead, his chin raises a little, regarding Ethan, and then asks, "Why do you do it?" There's innocent curiousity in his tone. "Why do you kill off registered Evolved? Eileen said you only went after the dangerous ones, is that true?"

"Those aren't my questions to answer, Sylar." Ethan says pointedly, impressing the name. Giving the man a bit of a look, he throws the cigarette on the ground before giving it a good stomp. "Everyone answers to someone, Sylar. And the person I answer to.. Well. Let's just say he knows what 'e's doin'." Ethan states, raising his gaze to the man. "It seems like you've been a lone wolf for a while, my son, I think it's about time you join a pack." Says the man they call the Wolf.

Nicely played, although Sylar doesn't react visibly to his name being tossed at him - just goes still for a moment, trying to decide what that means. They know what he's done. Maybe they even think he caused the devastation they stand in right now. Who knows? "Then I'll just have to ask your alpha. Though, I'm not much of a team player," he says, almost an honest warning, not so much a threat, even if his words come with a flash of teeth. "But if we want the same thing…" He trails off, letting that statement linger between them before he asks, "How do I find you?"

"The Alpha will speak to you when he is ready. When you prove you're trustworthy. Your track record doesn't suggest you would have the most loyal tendencies." Ethan says, narrowing his eyes a bit. "Listen, I need to make it very clear that I'm not bumbling in here holdin' my happy stick. We work together for our own and each others' benefit. If you try to fuck us over, I won't take it kindly. I may not have special magic.. But I make myself prepared. Always." The Wolf says, pulling back not only his jacket but also his sweatshirt. It reveals a black sleeveless shirt. On his bicep is a black device that looks like a pacemaker. "Called a dead man's switch. If my pulse were to stop, the bomb I'm strapped with would go off. Just like that. We're both dead." He takes a moment, letting that sink in before readjusting his clothes. Maybe it was a bluff and it was really a pacemaker, or maybe he's really strapped with a bomb. Ethan's heart rate remains the same, he is always in control of himself. "Furthermore, you don't take people I take off the list. Those that work for me, they remain untouched. Clear?" And with that Ethan outstretches his hand.. A deal with the devil. Whichever of these men may be the devil..

Sylar listens, dark gaze moving towards the device, then back to Ethan's face. The thing about deals between devils is that there's no soul to trade, so rather easily, he takes Ethan's hand, giving it more of a squeeze than a shake, and he holds on as he says, "Two years ago, the place we stand now was filled with heat and light, turning everything it touch to dust, and it was so loud, you couldn't imagine. But I can imagine. I was there when the ash started to settle." Ethan's hand is squeezed once more, before he withdraws the clasp. "Clear. Your people get to live. So does Gillian, even after she's worn out her uses to you."

"You really do have a fancy on her, don't you? You want to use her for more than her ability." Ethan smirks a little bit, returning the squeeze to Sylar's hand. "That must have been quite a sight to see." Ethan says softly, before retracting his hand. "Hopefully we catch the guy who did it." He gives Sylar a nod. Either he doesn't know that Sylar was the one given the credit for the bomb, or he knows that it wasn't Sylar. Either way, he doesn't pay it much mind. He turns his back and begins to retreat from Sylar. "Nice to meet you Sylar. Gillian will soon find out her sister has been kidnapped by the company!" He calls out to the man behind him, "Remember. Nudge in the right direction. When I see you next, my name will be Michael!" And with that Ethan is leaving.. The deal has been made.

Sylar doesn't deny or confirm Ethan's first jab, just looks vaguely amused for a moment before letting it lie. His hands slip into the pockets of his coat, watching as Ethan turns away from him, a thoughtful expression on his face. Then, with a scrape of gravel underfoot, he's turning and walking off in the opposite direction. The words say hi to Eileen for me suddenly drift through Ethan's head, spoken in Sylar's voice, and should he look back, it seems as though all that's left of Sylar is a glimmer of something barely visible in the shadows as his form takes on the colours of his surroundings, all but disappearing.

October 29th: Guardian Angel

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

October 29th: Have Faith
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