Black and Blue


ben_icon.gif elle_icon.gif hagan_icon.gif

Scene Title Black And Blue
Synopsis Elle, as it turns out, isn't the best person to run into in a dark alley at night. Hagan and Ben witness murder being committed.
Date November 23, 2008

The Bronx

The Bronx is the northernmost borough of Greater New York, and even before the explosion, this area was diverse. Though known infamously throughout the world to be a low-income area, it was not without its finer points, as well as home to the Yankee Stadium. It was dense with life, for better or for worse.

For now, it is the the south-west areas of the Bronx that are unrecognisable. Clean up has not gone steadily, and buildings still lie in ruination. It is now hard to tell what this place is even for. During the day, construction teams work to clear more and more roads of South Bronx, although people seem to take liberties by driving over the burnt out rubble if they have the means. There are make-shift trailer camps and soup kitchens for those that don't have a place to go. One feature of South Bronx is the Yankee Stadium, so far untouched. There is irreparable damage done to the building itself, and no game has played there since the tragedy. Graffiti tags the areas available, and people often congregate illegally upon the wrecked grounds. The field itself is overgrown with weeds between fallen debris.

Heading away from Manhattan, the Bronx takes on more function and hope. This borough, once a place of Jewish immigrants, then Latin-Americans and African Americans, is now a diverse mix of all races, any and all New Yorkers taking up residence on the other side of the wreckage. There is even a semblance of a transport system, the electricity back on and functioning, but crime rates are higher than ever.

This section of the city has never had a reputation for being particularly— nice. In the quietness of night, that is even more true. This is one of those fringe neighborhoods that everybody warns you to stay out of after nightfall, lest you find yourself mugged or raped or worse. Bits of white paper, cigarette butts, plastic wrappings, and other litter will crunch under the feet of anybody who walks this street. The wall of a low, long, gray-mottled building stretches down the entirety of one side, wild tangles of graffiti trailing their nonsensical lines into darkness. A very old, teal-blue pickup idles by a row of shadowed doorways.

Besides that, there is no company here. No hint of a human presence, save for the very worst kind.

The first hint? Out of nowhere, a series of panicked /yells/ that shatters the street's moody silence. Depending on where one is standing in the area, the words are either muffled and nondistinct or fairly loud, but it should be immediately clear that whoever is yelling /is/ yelling at the top of his lungs.

Despite all of his urges to -do- something, to stop the registration, to fight against those who spew hate against the Evolved - he has yet to actually do anything. He just patrols, finds a target, waits, follows and then craps out. Every time though, it's a little bit closer. The next one could be the one.

That's precisely what Hagan O'Sullivan is doing this evening. Earlier he spotted a group of thugs talking loudly about how the evolved should wear tags with their power on it. But there were too many of them, and he thought he saw a glimmer of a gun.

Now, after a smoke, a glower and several swings from a flask full of whiskey, he's on the prowl again. Things might crack under his feet, but even the shine of a streetlight or the glow of a neon storefront sign doesn't illuminate his presence. It's easy to imagine it as a trick of the ears. What's not are the yells. Though no hero - especially in this neighborhood - he is curious. So the shadowman moves towards the source.

As Hagan draws towards the source of the yelling, he will begin not just hearing, but /seeing/ a very odd thing. Distant flashes. Neon blue flashes, with very thin tentacles of electricity whipping outwards from their heart. It is still faint from the point of view where the Irishman is walking; likely he will see no more than glows obstructed by the blank side of a building.

At least that lighting makes it pretty easy to find where all of this is coming from, right? Framed in one of the shadowy doorways that line the street are the silhouettes of two dark figures, one small and slender, the other much larger and heavier. Though it's hard to tell, the towering and much darker-skinned of the two is in a hoodie and sweatpants. It is he who is shoved up against the doorway in the most ghastly of ways - fixed there like a moth pinned by arrows of lightning. As for the other? A slim woman, long-haired.

"Help— /help/— AAhHelp me, goddamned bitchAAAaaaAh—"

Hagan may not have seen all -that- many Evolved wield their power, but he knows enough to recognize it when he sees it. The shadowed Irishman creeps forward, bending light away from him to make his approach invisible. He watches with some curiosity, but doesn't move to interfere. Tiny woman, thug of a man, bad neighborhood, night. He has no reason to think lightning lass is a victim. So instead, he just lingers and watches.

Ben is a man of limited means; this crappy neighbourhood is where he now resides. Courier work doesn't pay so well, but it does mean you get a bike to ride around on. Which is what Ben's pedalling when he hears the scream. Oh, great. He coasts toward it, one hand digging into his coat pocket for the battered cell phone in there.

Granted, screaming is probably not the unusual noise to be heard around here. The residents of this indeed-crappy neighborhood have probably trained themselves to just ignore it when they hear it and move on.

But now there is babbling involved. Babbling in a deep, accent-roughened voice. It's the man. All that electroshock therapy wasn't enough to kill him, or, indeed, even put him out — but then again, that isn't what Elle intends.

No, what she intends is /pain/. "I'll teach…dir…come any…near me," is her hiss, very hard to hear since she keeps being interruped by screaming. "Want me to…gouge your eyes out? I can do that, you know."

Hagan continues to be a silent, shadowed observer of this strange, strange scene. He has no desire to rescue this man. No, he learned his lesson the last time. All helping got him was a concussion and a near-arrest. Revealing himself wouldn't be smart either. This woman could be crazy. So he lingers and observes her power with a strange, almost morbid fascination.

Blue flashes. That's probably not good. It could be regular electricity, though, and Ben should really go check to make sure someone's not getting hurt. That's the idea, anyway. Coasting up to the side of the building, he dismounts and leans his bike against the wall. One hand on the phone, the other reaches into his bag and closes around the grip of a gun briefly, as if to reassure him it's still there. He peeks into the alley.

Soft blue, shadow, the almost black-and-white illumination of faces. And then more flashes of blue; more strangled yells. That is basically what there is to see. No earthly electrical malfunction should look like this.

The young woman hadn't been touching her victim up to this point, actually having stood a respectable distance apart, but now that changes. She steps inwards, towards that darkened rectangle of a doorway. It is hard to see in the obscurity, but it isn't hard to imagine that there are slender fingers curling around the man's collar. Soothing words issued, perhaps.

For a long minute, there is just blackness. No more streaks; not even a glow. A momentary respite of…nothing.

Hagan hears the ticka-tick-tick of bicycle spokes. He turns in time to catch Ben's silhouette at the alley front. He may not be willing to interrupt Elle, but he'd rather this bystander didn't get involved. So he summons up concentration and targets Ben, so that when he looks towards the alley, light is bent away. It won't feel -quite- like natural shadow, and of course, he can still hear everything. Of course, then when all goes black, this trick is no longer needed. He reaches out through the shadow, trying to -feel- with the darkness what is happening.

Ben blinks in the darkness, frowning; at least there's no more of the freaky lighting. He stays where he is, debating the wisdom of calling out. Calling out in this neighbourhood, in this city, in this time. And he sighs, very faintly, and does so. "Anyone there?"

If either of the two watchers thought it was over, they are both badly mistaken. There is a KKKKKT like the booming cough of a cannon, though laced on the sides with the cracklings of static. Everything in that doorway, and everything in a small circle around it, /flares/ into an illumination of ghostly blue. The direction it's focused? From Elle's clenched hand straight into the man's chest, of course.

Still locked within a net of traveling streaks, a body - for a body it now is - flumps to the ground, right onto Elle's feet. Sizzling. What, he was wearing a sweatshirt? Oops not anymore. It's glimpses of a bare chest and tatters that are visible now.

In that moment of bright flare, Hagan's shadow falters. Elle might see the shape of a man sillhouetted against the wall before it inexplicably disappears. He starts to back out of the alleyway as he begins to comprehend the true danger of the situation.

Ben closes his eyes. This cannot be good. It just can't. Still, life isn't all goodness. He knows that. So he steps into the alleyway, hands at his sides, phone in one, clearly, but not even open. Duct tape is plastered on one side. Ben himself looks like he got into a fight not too long ago; the bruising on his cheek and around his face tells a story. He clears his throat nervously before calling out, "Did he try to hurt you, miss?"

Though sweat is running down her face and she is panting slightly, Elle swivels her head, her attention attracted. A miniature version of the fireworks she had been producing snaps into existence between her fingertips: a small, not-quite-tangible ball that shimmers like plasma. The purpose of this is only to provide some light for herself, and she lifts her hand by her cheek, palm outwards, to cast a sudden window of bluish light in front of her.

"Who's there?" She demands. She simply leaves the heavy corpse facedown on the step of the doorway, drawing her feet away from it in delicate steps. And then she sees Benjamin right in front of her, halting when she does. For a second, she simply /gapes/ at him, as though she can't comprehend what he is saying. A sight she certainly is: hair matted, sweaty, blue eyes wide as they stare into his.

Hagan is very, very tempted to just get out of there before he can be flash-fried like the girl's last victim. But then there's this kid, this stupid, stupid kid. He has full control of his shadow-powers now and focuses his energy to bending any light away from him. He continues to wait and watch, to see if he might have to be stupid himself.

"Just me," Ben calls back, staying where he is. He looks toward the charred corpse on the ground, stomach clenching for a few moments before he can work past the sight. And smell. He addresses the wall to the left of her, not looking at her face. Seems like a bad time to really seem like he's taking note of someone's face. "I'm just checking… if anyone's hurt. He looks very hurt. I want to know if you're hurt and if he tried to hurt you." He looks heavenwards, knowing this is a stupid thing to do, doing it anyway. "I'm not going to hurt you."

Elle's lips slip free so her teeth are exposed in a smile. From the angle and the lighting, as well as her own exhaustion, it just looks somewhat deranged. The glimmering ball in her hand dims slightly, then flares again, her fingers releasing. "Who are you?" she exhales, simply snorting at the suggestion that Ben might hurt her. Without waiting for an answer, she picks up her voice again: "Whoever you are, you should go away. I don't wanna hurt you."

Without warning, she transfers her gaze to where she had caught the last gimpse of a shadow- was that a person?- moving. "…And tell your friend to go away, too."

"…Ben," Ben says. "I don't have a friend. So. Uh. As long as you're okay, I'm going to just back out of here and go about my business." He glances the way she's looking, frowning a little, but she's kind of scary for a little blonde thing, so he's gonna do the backing up.

Oh shitshit. Shitty shit shitterson. Hagan holds his breath and tries not to move. The shadows are tightly hugged around him like a blanket. But shadows don't make him intangible, just not visible.

"Don't worry. I'm okay." That's it, now. Slowly. Back it up. Elle slowly takes in a breath, tracking Ben's progress backwards with an uncomfortably focused gaze.

Almost as promptly, her eyes snap back towards where they had been looking, roving back and forth with suspicion as she holds her glowing hand upwards once again. They narrow; she can see nothing in the shadows. "I can ~tell~ you're there," she calls out in a voice that's almost sing-song, stepping forward one relaxed step at a time. "You don't need to be scared of me."

Ben keeps going; he backs around the corner and winces. Whoever it is /does/ need to be scared of her! Looking down at the phone in his hand, his thumb hovers at the edge of it, like he might flip it open. And do what? Call who? Back into his pocket it goes. Still, there's someone else out there who might get hurt, and this thing where he's concerned about people like that is really going to fuck him up one day.

As she goes forward, Hagan goes backwards. There's a sound of scraping feet, but without a visual to connect it to and in the silence around them, it's hard to pinpoint it. He's trying to get -away-, out of the alley and into the street where it will be harder for him to be cornered. He needs to get better at this stealth thing.

The individual steps lengthen into strides. Even shadowed, Elle appears to be angrier than ever, a breeze stirring her still somewhat-moist hair off her shoulders. Ben has already slipped around the corner of a building, and so she lets him go for now; it is Hagan's movements she is focused on now. What she cannot see irritates her.

"You know, if that was your /buddy/ back there—" she begins as she moves towards where she thinks the scraping came from, pointing back towards that smoldering, half-naked corpse. It has occurred to her that the stirring in the shadows might not have been someone associated with /Ben/, but the victim's after all. The ball starts to lengthen into a true bolt. Zzt.

Ben backs his bike away from the perilous corner; he turns to rest his back against the wall and looks up at the night sky as he tries to decide what to do. He should go home. If he goes home, he's just gonna be bothered the whole night, though.

"No, no, -fuck- no! I was just curious, I wanted to see if I could help. I know that fucker probably tried to mug you." Hagan speaking helps localize him more, but he feels he has to get that out there. It might help that he has a thick Irish brogue and not the tones of a New York thug. Then he breaks into a run, the shadows following with him, concealing his precise location.

A very long, sharp inhalation from Elle. Finally— "Go. Just go." The voice is an unexpectedly cracked one, floating after Hagan's fleeing form as she lets him depart.

Both of them are out of her reach. Too far away, that is, for her to go after without expending effort; and it's even less likely that she'd be able to get /both/ of them. Elle gradually stops then, bowing her head. Strands of hair slide down across her face. Both hands are now down by her sides and glowing with circles of energy, rather than just one.

Then a murmur, nearly to herself: "For your own good, don't come back."

Ben tilts his head to listen; that sounds like running to him. And that's good enough. Ben climbs back onto his bike and pushes away from the wall, directing himself toward his crappy apartment. He'll probably find out who the fried guy was tomorrow morning on the news, but… hell, he's not sleeping now.

November 23rd: Witness Protection: It Sucks

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

November 23rd: Bike Lesson
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