Cause Of Death, Part IV


matthew_icon.gif robyn6_icon.gif sadler_icon.gif

Also Featuring

cassandra_icon.gif rhys_icon.gif saito_icon.gif

Scene Title Cause of Death, Part IV
Synopsis Robyn's investigation comes to an end.
Date February 14, 2020

Slow piano notes drift through the air.

There is no recording session in progress, not this late at night. Instead, the sound is coming from the living room of Robyn Quinn’s home, where windows overlook the streets of the Safe Zone, nighttime lights glittering hopefully against the dark. The television is off, radio too, and save for a single lamp in the corner of the room the apartment is dark.

Robyn sits at a stand-up keyboard by the windows on a bench seat brought in from the kitchen. One of her hands is set up on the keyboard, sheet music she doesn’t need propped up on a stand in front of her. But Robyn isn’t playing the piano. She has her cane across her lap, wounded leg stretched out in front of her. She can sit for a little while before she needs to elevate it again, especially for this.

A smaller pair of hands than Robyn’s move across the keyboard, dark eyes dart from fingers to sheet music and back again. Robyn provides the accompanying lyrics to the slow, purposeful song as her adopted son Matthew plays the keys.

These arms of mine, they are lonely

Matthew can’t help but smile, listening to Robyn sing, his fingers gliding over the keys as he sways just a little bit to the slow and steady rhythm of the song.

Lonely and feeling blue

But Matthew isn’t the only one smiling. In spite of her injured leg, in spite of a harrowing case that nearly cost her life, Robyn Quinn is happy. The color in her vision that she’d lost almost ten years ago now, has finally returned. It’s like a part of her that was stolen, that she thought she’d lost forever, had been inside of her all along.

These arms of mine, they are yearning

And so they play the song together, the culmination of all of Matthew’s practicing over the last few months, a representation of the bond that Robyn has worked so hard to build.

Yearning from wanting you

Soft piano notes carry into the night.

And if you would let them hold you

But the song can only go on for so long.

Oh, how grateful I will be

Kaleidoscope Studios, Robyn’s Apartment
Bay Ridge, NYC Safe Zone

February 14th
11:37 pm

These arms of mine, they are burning

It's been a lot to put what happened out of Robyn's mind, but in this moment, she finds a sense of peace. The events of the other day no longer sit on the edge of her mind. The song had been picked as practice, in the hopes of fulfilling a promise to a friend that has so far fallen to the wayside. And maybe…

…Maybe she finally feels like it's time for some more music in her life.

Burning from wanting you

What she wouldn't give for every night to be like this, as much as she knows Matthew would pretend to hate it. And maybe sometimes actually so, because that's how she was when she was a teenager. There would certainly be plenty of time for the foreseeable future. She's already spent more time out of the house and not resting her leg as she should be.

These arms of mine, they are wanting

The idea had always been she'd rest when she was dead.

Wanting to hold you

But now feels like a good time for an exception.

A yawn breaks rhythm. Matthew brings one hand up to cover his mouth, then looks bleary-eyed over at Robyn. “I think I’m too tired t’be a musician,” he says with a crooked, tired smile. “Besides,” he says with a judging look, sliding off the bench, “it’s been thirty minutes you’re supposed to keep your leg elevated!”

Coming around behind Robyn, Matthew offers her a hand to help her up from a seated position. “If you don’t take care of your leg they’ll have to cut it off, and then you’ll just have a peg like a pirate or something. Then how will you dance?” He feigns horror, followed by a glib answer to himself of: “As badly as you dance now, I guess.”

"I will have you know," Robyn starts in a flat tone, "that I can dance just fine." Pausing for a moment, she chuckles. "Traditional dancing, at least. Otherwise… I was always too busy being the DJ to be dancing." Or doing other things she wouldn't begin to mention in front of him, not now, not ever.

It's with a contented sigh that she takes hold of her cane along with Matthew's hand and slowly pulls herself up. "You're right, though. I could stand to lose a lot worse than a leg, but let's try and avoid that, hmm? I don't think pegs are in this year." Or any year, really. And after the week she's had, of doing far more than she should be, moving far too much, and adjusting to this injury, Matthew was right.

"Alright, kidders. Lead the way."

Raising a boy like Matthew has been a challenge for Robyn. He isn’t just a child she adopted, he’s a boy coming into his own who deals with a host of fresh trauma. The loss of a father he never knew, the brutal murder of the only parent he ever had, and now being raised by someone he hardly knows. It’s helped having normalcy, routine, structure.

But there’s always been a hint of worry for Robyn. Even as she watches him brush his teeth, standing outside the bathroom as part of their usual ritual. Fear even in this moment of the day Matthew fully manifests. She knows her own was troubled, and in her tenure with SESA she’s seen so many others that have led to tragedy. Manifestations are always harder for people without strong emotional foundations.

Matthew’s ability is something she doesn’t fully understand, she isn’t sure Matthew has any better of a grasp on it either. According to the Institute records he manifested at the age of 2, the earliest life manifestation ever recorded. It started out as innocent occurrences; televisions turning off and on, car engines turning over without keys in the ignition, food spoiling instantly. He had no control over it, and even now at this age he shows no sign of being able to actually harness what he does at a whim.

Dana called it partial manifestation, a theoretical state in which the Suresh Linkage-Complex manifests early prior to the central nervous system becoming fully capable of controlling the proteins. The ability fires strictly through chemical means, and Matthew is too young to take prescribed negation drugs without causing serious long-term health and developmental issues. All negation drugs are designed to assume the recipient is past puberty.

“All done!” Matthew says, putting his toothbrush away. He shuts the light off in the bathroom and hurries out as if the darkness were chasing him. He’s terrified of the dark. One night when the power went out, he’d woken up in a dark room and screamed so loud Robyn thought he’d been stabbed. It took him days to feel safe in the house again. But she understands why.

Janice, his mother, was so terrified of Matthew’s uncontrollably ability that she’d turned to the Institute for help the same year of the Cambridge Massacre. She broke Ferry protocol and took Matthew in, and they treated him like a lab rat. After one single incident with his ability, he’d been placed in an isolation ACTS unit in the Institute’s San Francisco office under chemical sedation. But the boy woke up in the middle of his sedation cycle, trapped in the lightless ACTS for twelve hours, screaming.

“Have you ever put on a concert?” Matthew asks as he and Robyn enter his room, and Matthew goes about the methodical process of turning on his five night lights. “If you have another one, can I play in it? I promise I’ll get really good at the piano!”

Janice had been so afraid of Matthew. Resentful of his father’s death. Resentful of Matthew by the end, in spite of how much she loved him. She just wanted him to be normal. Robyn had learned that Matthew was scheduled for Gemini ability removal therapy, to have his power stripped from him. If Wolfhound hadn’t saved him when they did, he’d likely be in Praxia now, and…

“Mom?” Matthew sits up in his bed, having tucked himself in. Robyn realizes she’d been lost in thought.

The way Robyn snaps back to reality is almost with a start and shudder, blinking as her eyes settle on Matthew. A vacant stare is all he initially gets, her brain catching up to his questions as she blinks. "Sorry," she replies quietly. "Got a little lost there." She doesn't have to tell Matthew that she has a lot on her mind, that's been a given ever since she got back from the Hospital on Saturday.

Many of those thoughts had revolved around Matthew. In the wake of what had happened, she's found herself more scared than she cares to admit. If she can barely keep herself safe, how can she keep Matthew safe as well? She'd considered relocation and moving from New York for months, only to delete her request just days ago.

And then Sadler had happened.

"Yeah. Yep. I've used to do a few small shows, with various bands." The small chuckle she gives helps mask how much she's trying to distract herself beyond simply answering the question. "But one time, back when Manhattan was still in operation? I lived at a lovely place called the Village Renaissance. It was owned by… well, we call her Secretary Catherine Chesterfield now, but I called her just Cat then. The basement of the building was a restaurant and a music venue."

The recollection brings a wide, bright smile to her face, eyes angling up at the ceiling as she remembers those times. "I headlined a show there once. I released an album at that show, and it was really hot for the six months after." The corner of her lips twitch as she decides to leave out before everything went to shit from her retelling. "Me and my band. You haven't met Sable, Adel, or Royce, but… Elaine played violin for me."

Elaine, whom Matthew hasn't seen since November. He had been busy when Elaine had stopped by the other day.

A wistful sigh escapes her lips, her gaze lowering back down to Matthew. "That year was a wild time. You would never believe the stories I could tell you! Hell, I barely believe them myself sometimes. " Stories about time travel and almost getting stranded in Egypt. About how he, by matter of bond, has two sisters that are almost Robyn's age. About a winter that felt like an ice age. About visions of the future. About the complex where she met most of her future friends and almost wife.

All nothing more than stories now, far too gone in the past. But that was the beauty of life, of time. It kept going forward, and she had changed with the ages.

As she lets her smile widen, all she can think about is the present. About the dangers both of them face, and about her parenting job so far. About the young man she was hoping she could help Matthew become. Her heart swells for a moment. She thinks Jolene would be proud.

"Anyway, I think it's about time for you to hit it," she says, patting her hand on the bed. "We can talk more about my old misadventures in the morning if you want. I'm going to go put my foot up and hope I can fall asleep on my own." The painkillers she's had to take make it easier, but she's been avoiding them because… she doesn't really know. She likes torturing herself? "If you need anything, just yell or send me a message. I'll be up a bit longer yet."

And yet, she lingers for a moment, reaching over to pat his shoulder. "Thanks for giving me a chance, Matthew." She's never said that before. She's said a lot of other things, but not… that. "I'll see you in the morning."

But it'll be a moment before she's out of the room and making her way back to the couch. Moving quickly isn't an option for her right now, not without a lot of pain.

There’s curiosity in his eyes the whole while, about the stories of that time. But Matthew knows better than to try and hear them now, because he’d likely fall asleep before she got to the good parts. As Robyn pushes up off of the bed with the help of her cane, Matthew grabs her by the sleeve, eyes wide. He doesn’t say anything, so much as just stare at her, his chin tucked almost all the way beneath the edge of his comforter.

“Goodnight, mom.” Matthew says in a way that still feels a little unsure of himself, but with the confidence that he believes it.

Nodding to him, she shifts her hand so that she has a grasp of his, squeezing it. "Goodnight, Matthew." As she hobbles to the door, she glances back one last time before stepping out and closing the door behind her. She doesn't turn the overhead light off; like much of the rest of the house it's designed to make use of Yamagato's "smart home" innovations, and as such the light will dim itself shortly and leave only the night lights like braziers in the dark.

Her back presses against the door as she leans against it, looking down at the floor. One of these days she would have to tell Matthew how much of their need for each other is reciprocal. She may have taken him in after Sunstone, saved him in a matter of fashion, but… he had done the same for her. She had been in a dark spiral, one she was only just now beginning the climb back out of.

But she wouldn't be without him.

With a grunt, she turns and starts slow and steady back towards the living room, one hand on the wall both to help brace herself and to help balance herself. He was right, she needed to get off her foot. If she fell asleep on the couch, well, it wouldn't be the first time. Maybe if she did Matthew would wake her up with some attempt at breakfast again.

She had enjoyed that.


Not Far Away

Broken glass lays littered across the floor of a one-bedroom studio apartment overlooking the Hudson river. Curtains blow in the frigid February wind, and a tall figure casts a long, gaunt shadow across the floor. The streetlights at his back silhouette his form, shine yellow through the grimy fabric of his tattered shirt.

Bare, bloody feet tread across the glass on the floor, crunching with each step. “You were very hard to track down…” Sadler’s voice is a soft, high-pitched thing that does not fit his looming presence. It is the only remnant left of the kind man he once was. A pained moan echoes from the floor, where a glass-topped coffee table is shattered into pieces, a bleeding lump of a person laying amid the wreckage.

“Let me see your face,” Sadler says, twirling a finger in the air to make Kenji Saito spin around to face him. The young SESA agent stares wide-eyed at Sadler, who leans down with all the grace of a marionette puppet, his large blue eyes peering at Saito intently. “That’s better.”

“Where is she?” Sadler asks in a whisper, lifting a hand to curl a finger under Saito’s chin. The young agent says nothing, cradling his broken arm to his chest. Sadler makes a disappointed noise in the back of his throat, then traces his finger down along Saito’s neck. “I’ll only ask nicely one more time, where is the glowing woman?

Saito spits in Sadler’s face and the albino closes his eyes and freezes motionlessly. Saito shivvers, trembling as he looks the serial killer in the eyes. Sadler presses his index finger down hard between Saito’s neck and his collarbone; a line of saliva runs down Sadler’s face and drips off his chin.

“Fine,” Sadler says, and suddenly his hand comes up to snatch Saito’s head by the side of his face. “I warned you!” Sadler screams, pressing his thumb hard against Saito’s cheek and digging his other fingers into the young man’s scalp and the back of his neck. The scream that erupts from Saito can be heard through the entire apartment building, a howling, agonized scream as the maw on the side of Sadler’s hand opens and a slithering tendril of something like sinew laps around the edge of the young agent’s ear, and then darts inside like a striking viper.

“No!” Kenji screams, thrashing. “No!” Sadler’s eyes cloud over with a milky white haze, his expression grows slack, and blood trickles down the side of Saito’s neck.

Show me!” Sadler hisses through his teeth.

Show me!


Kaleidoscope Studios, Robyn’s Apartment
Bay Ridge, NYC Safe Zone

February 15th
2:12 am

The buzz of Robyn’s cell phone vibrating across the coffee table rouses her from a troubled dream she can’t quite remember.

Her phone’s screen lights up the living room, a throbbing ache of bone-deep pain lights up the nerves in her injured leg. The vibration continues, urgently, and it’s only then Robyn starts to realize it may have been doing this for a while, the sound incorporated into her dreams.

She can see the name on her lock screen.

Incoming Call

"Nngh…" Staring at the phone for a moment, Robyn hesitates before picking up the phone. "IswearLance," rolls off her tongue almost as one work before she stops to clear her throat. "If you took Rhys' phone and this is your idea of a prank…"

Her phone's only recently been replaced, no longer the burner phone she had kept after heaving her phone somewhere into the bushes at Yamagato in November. The screen of the Yamagato brand phone is brighter, the vibration harder and more audible. And yet, it still barely had roused her.

"Allô?" She blinks, bleary eyed as she shifts so that she can sit up a bit while still keeping her leg up. "Weird time to see how I'm doing, Rhys." Because jokes still come easy when she's too tired to have a filter.

«Get Matthew and run!» Is the first horrifying thing Robyn hears come from Rhys over the phone. «There was a break-in at Kenji’s house— Robyn he’s dead. Get Matthew and go somewhere safe and call me!»

Robyn’s heart races, her skin is flushed with heat and mottled blotches of light beneath her skin.

He’s dead, echoes in her mind.

She barely has time to process the rest of what Rhys says before he barks into the phone again. «Robyn, do you hear me? Get out of»

She doesn’t hear the rest of Rhys’ warning. Because as the blurriness in her vision fades and her darkvision turns the apartment into a monochrome painting, she sees that she isn’t alone in her house.

Sadler stands in the corner of her living room, his eyes reflecting like an animal in her darkvision. A looming, lanky, pale monster just standing there and watching her. There is blood — dark stains — all over his clothes and hands. Fresher than the others.

There's no one here to see how Robyn trembles, phone shaking in her hand as she stares into Sadler's eyes. Swallowing hard, she reaches down beside the couch and takes hold of her cane. "I'm fine Rhys." It takes all her energy for her to not stutter, to not betray the calmness she's trying to keep in her voice. "I appreciate the check in, though."

There's a moment's pause before she speaks again, trying to turn herself on the couch. "Do me a favour? Let Richard and Nicole know that they may need to stop by themselves if they want to pick up the old files I have for them."

Clicking the button that turns off the screen rather than sliding to end the call. The phone is set down face down, and she leans against the back of the cough. She can't move fast enough to do anything, which leaves her with one option.

"I-I can see you, you know."

The fear in her voice is palpable now that she's not lying.

“I did not,” Sadler says in a smooth, cool tone of voice as he takes a slow step forward, passing through half of an armchair as if it wasn’t even there, or perhaps as if he wasn’t. “Photokinesis, very handy, sitting in the lower 10 percentile of Expressive abilities…” Sadler steps into the dim light coming from the hallway, illuminating his pale countenance in half-tone.

It’s in the light that Robyn can see the considerable blistering and redness to Sadler’s skin, that one of his eyes is partly clouded with a cataract. He pulls his lips back in a sneer, then looks to her leg and the phosphorescent glow of her blood shining through her skin in this moment of adrenaline. “You should have left well enough alone, Agent Quinn.”

Sadler slowly makes eye contact. “You should have left me to make my cure, left me in peace.” She can see a faint blue glow behind his pupils as he nwo stands in the light, the effects of an Expressive currently under the effects of Refrain. But he should be catatonic, unable to walk or move, lost in a memory.

A French curse slips out, just under Robyn's breath. A card she didn't need to reveal has been turned over for Sadler to see too soon. Slowly - very slowly - she turns so that she can bring her leg down off the couch. It doesn't take a genius to see she's going to stand up. She shakes, barely able to keep her teeth from clattering as a new wave of terror washes over her.

"You- you should have been more careful," she retorts in a plaintive tone. "If you hadn't killed Cassandra, no one would have ever found this trail. And what n-n-next? Kenji? Me? You're only making this worse."

She's not sure where this is coming from, the retort. She should be too scared to speak. This is so different from anything else she's lived through. Different from her Ferry missions. Different from Cambridge. Different from the drainage ditch, or her Wolfhound missions. This is personal.

And that scares her more than anything else ever could.

“This isn’t about logic now,” Sadler says with a roll of his tongue across the inside of his mouth. “It’s simply spite.” He holds up his hand, revealing the horrible toothy maw in his right palm. “Do you know… how I got this, Agent Quinn?” The mouth opens and closes, puckering like a sphincter. “This isn’t my hand,” he says, rolling up his sleeve to reveal a grisly scar at his elbow.

“This arm belonged to Dmitri Gregor, a disturbed eugenicist determined to play god.” Sadler’s assessment of Gregor matches some of what Robyn had heard about him over the years. “This thing has been taking my life, bit by bit, year by year. I wake up in the night…” he says with a distant quality to his voice, “sometimes I forget who I am.” His eyes wander, unfocused. “I hear voices that I don’t recognize, and a little bit more of me…” Sadler’s eyes snap back to Robyn, “slips away.”

“I’m becoming him,” Sadler says with a hitch in his voice, “and Cassi was my ticket out of it all…” a grimace slowly spread across Sadler’s face. “Then that— fucking agent… those fucking idiots…”

One Year Earlier

Red Hook

The streetlights flicker softly, spreading an amber-colored glow down onto a waterfront sidewalk. There’s next to zero traffic, even in Red Hook, at this dark hour of night. Out on the water a few boats sit dark and silent, beyond them the Red Hook Marina is awash with activity, and the distinctive battlements of the Safe Zone Market not much further beyond them.

The lower deck of the Hamilton Ave crossing overlooks the water, glittering with moonlight on this particularly clear night. The breeze coming in off the water is cold, but for January there’s surprisingly little snow on the ground.

It had been a very good few weeks at work with SESA.

The investigation into the theft of the railguns had been going well, and with some evidence incoming in the next couple of days, the thought that the case might have some new leads to go off of was exciting, to say the least. Her time with the coroner’s office, macabre as it was, was really starting to show some fruit. There was always more to do, though. Always more.

With the new year just beginning, the future seemed to finally be coming together.

The watch on her wrist ticked away, the time showing 8:20pm. Dinner had been eaten, laundry had been put on, and Cassandra was out for her evening run. She’d been doing this every couple of days almost since she moved in, rain or shine, and had a fairly well established path that was safe and secure, barely skirting one of the rougher parts of town on her 3 mile jaunt. A small backpack was strapped across her back and chest, high on the shoulders as to not affect her center of gravity. Inside were things that could be useful on a jog - poncho in case it rained, first aid kit in case of injury, cell phone in case contact needed to be made, and her ID and badge with a small Smith and Wesson handgun.

Just in case.

Cassandra was dressed in layers to keep the warm in and the cold out, her breath coming in small puffs of steam with each stride of her running shoes against the pavement. Her pace is rhythmic and road-eating, a steady stride that allows her to turn her brain off and just run, letting the pace and her body dictate how far she feels like going. Her route did take her by the post office where a letter was dropped off to be delivered to her mother and Grandmother in Louisiana. Something she tried to do every week to let them know how she was.

Her goal was, as always, to be running up to her door before the blackout hits for the evening maintenance. Thankfully she’s got a battery-powered electric blanket and a hot shower waiting at home. And hot cocoa. A small reward for her hard work. Still, she may have to look into that solar installer that’s becoming popular around town.

The night is cold and clear, steam issues up from a sewer grate just a few feet from Cassandra as she pauses in her jog. One lone car rolls past, steam emitting from its exhaust and its passing disturbing the gout coming from the grate. Its tail lights track off into the darkness, and then one-by-one the street lights start to go out. Soon the entire neighborhood has fallen into darkness. The sound of white noise, of buzzing lights, of transformers up on telephone poles, the hum of an electric city all quiets at once. Suddenly the silence is overwhelming, as is the realization…

…that was the start of the rolling blackout.

She’d taken to running without her headphones when it was late at night. Cassandra had heard about people getting ambushed, here and there, when they weren’t aware, so maintaining situational awareness was a thing she did. It was actually soothing, the sound of footfalls with the life of the city surrounding her. Radios barely heard inside of apartments as she jogged past provided an ever-changing soundtrack in her route around the city. And when it stopped - all of it - it was a shock.

Her jog slows, and then three more stuttering footfalls as she slowed her momentum to come to a halt in the middle of the sidewalk. “No no no no.” She looks around at the darkened city, the streets winding into the distance like a maze. “I checked. I checked! The protest goes unheeded as she rubs at the cloth covering her left wrist, a little fumbling manage to push back the sleeve of her top to reveal an antique wrist watch. Moving so she can angle the face of the watch to the light coming from the half moon, she sighs at the sight of the second hand clicking back and forth between the two and the three on the enameled face.

Cassandra had checked before leaving, but she’d forgotten to wind her watch.

“Great. Just great.”

Rubbing her hands together and blowing into them, thankful for the gloves, Cassandra swings her backpack around to rummage in one of the zippered pockets for a small LED flashlight which is clipped to the shoulder strap, the whole thing pulled back into place once she determines exactly what street she’s on. A wink of light on the posted street sign tells her that she’s just on the edge of Bay Ridge and Park Slope. About a mile from home. Not too far, but far enough in the dark.

She starts to move along the street towards home, remaining quiet, trying to maintain a low profile as to not draw attention to herself.

Halfway home there’s a sharp sound that cuts through the night air. A scream, a cry that echoes through the otherwise hauntingly quiet streets. Half a block up, ambient light from across the water reflects off of the frost-crusted side of a white panel van with its back doors open. A pair of tall men in gray jumpsuits struggle with a woman Cassandra’s age who is kicking and struggling. One of the men had his arms locked behind her head, the other is trying to get a hold of her ankles, but she’s kicking and fighting and screaming for help.

Her road-eating jog home was getting her from A to B fairly quickly, and her stealthy nature has kept attention to a minimum, which is always a good thing, but a scream in these darkened streets is something that Cassandra, as a human being and a SESA agent, just can’t ignore. If she had her radio - and why would she, being off duty - she’d call for some kind of assistance to back her up before blindly wading in, but with the blackout, finding someone to help isn’t likely. Rummaging around in her pack, Cassandra draws her sidearm and badge, looping the symbol of her authority around her neck and thumbing off the safety of her pistol with a metallic click.

“Just like my training…” Cassandra murmurs to herself before turning on her flashlight and stepping out from the alley she was using for cover, training her pistol on the two men. “Hey!” Her voice is surprisingly loud in the still of the winter’s night, the flashlight illuminating the trio. “SESA Agent. Let her go!”

The sound of the hammer of her pistol drawing back is even louder, echoing off the brick walls of the buildings surrounding them.

The pair of men struggling with the woman both tense up and freeze as Cassandra approaches. One has wrestled the woman into a chokehold, the other slowly raises his hands with his palms out and looks warily between Cassandra and his accomplice. But the low rumble of a subsonic vibration in the back of the van has both men stepping aside. In that same moment, a sonic shockwave comes rippling out of the van and slams into Cassandra like a wall. It knocks her off of her feet, sends her gun clattering to the ground.

From the back of the van a tall, long-limbed and bald man with pale eyes and parchment-white skin ambles partly out of the door. He looks to the girl, pointing two fingers at her as she recognizes the power he just commanded, turning his attention to Cassandra on the ground and then the kidnapper that isn’t preoccupied with a victim.

Grab her too,” the albino says with an erratic twitch of his head to the side, “take— take the gun. Take her. And get— get us out of here.” He flicks a pale-eyed look to the young woman held fast by the other kidnapper. “You would do best to not— not struggle. Now get in the van.”

Though still not entirely compliant, the young woman struggles as she’s forced into the van while the other kidnapper quickly moves over to grab the unconscious Cassandra, picking her up by the wrist and hoisting her over his shoulder, carrying her back into the van. He forgets the gun on the street, hurrying to dump Cassandra in the back of the van before climbing inside and slamming the doors shut.

A moment later, the van peels away into the night with Cassandra inside.

Present Day

“I didn’t want to kill Agent Baumann,” Sadler says with a slow wave, “I didn’t even realize who she was until after the fact. All I needed was Cassi Hayes,” he over-enunciates, creeping closer to Robyn. “Then I could have…” he curls his fingers into the air.

“Rewound time,” Sadler says in a whisper, implying what Cassi Hayes’ ability truly was. “Changed history,” he says in a shaky breath, then looks down to Robyn.

“But I suppose…” Sadler’s jaw tenses, “…we are all prisoners of our own— ”

Mom?” Is the most horrifying thing Robyn could hear come from the hallway. “Who’re you talking to?” The creak of floorboards accompanies Matthew’s approach.

Sadler sniffs the air, like an animal.

His eyes widen.

Like a predator.

"Then walk away!" The way Robyn yells it is as defensive as it is loud. "I'm not going to be back on this case, and K-Kenji… Leave and keep working on your fucking cure!" She immediately recoils back from her outburst, before the glow just beneath her skin intensifies ever so slightly. She's ready to drop some knowledge about time and time travel on Sadler - that what he thinks he is going to accomplish is ultimately fruitless. No consideration paid to the fact that her phone is on, or how that might set off the Sylar-tier serial killer standing in front of her.

And then she hears Matthew.

The glow intensifies.

Adrenaline runs through her.

As quick as she can manage she rises up to feet, a pained yelp escaping her as she leans heavily against her cane.

"Matthew, run!" It's yelled through grit teeth, green eyes sliding over to Sadler as she holds her cane tight. "I will kill you before you touch my son, you bastard."

So much for something resembling diplomacy.

Matthew rounds the corner just in time to see Sadler throw one hand into the air, launching Robyn through the air, back over the couch, and crashing into a bookshelf. She falls to the floor and the shelf collapses atop her, and Matthew lets out a high-pitched wailing scream. He scrambles backwards in terror, catching only a glimpse of Sadler as the gaunt albino turns toward the fleeing boy.

But Sadler, like a shark, smells blood in the water. As Matthew thunders away, Sadler phases through the couch and glides like Nosferatu across the apartment in a slow, languid pace. Matthew hits the stairs and scrambles up, clamoring on his hands and heels. He shuts a door behind himself with a slam only to have Sadler drift through the door like a ghost, a crazed look in his eyes. He can smell it, in the sweat the boy exudes, in every fiber of his being. He can tell what Matthew can do. But he is patient, slow, methodical.

Matthew’s scream is a panicked one as he gets upstairs, scrambling through the hallway into the dining room, knocking over a tray of coffee mugs and plates from dinner as he goes. They shatter on the floor as he crawls under the dining room table, curling up into a small, terrified ball. Sadler is slow as he comes up the stairs, solidifying at the top step, wary of the boy, wary of his gift. He can hear the labored breathing, the sobs, the fear.

Sadler looks down at his deformed hand, at the gnashing maw in his palm and then to the table. Determined.

Broken glass glitters softly in the night, catching ambient light spilling in through the broken windows; distant street lights that do little to push back the darkness. Kitchen chairs move of their own accord, skittering across the floor and coming to slam up against the walls and hang there, suspended in mid-air as though by some magnetic force. Bare feet tread across the broken glass, leaving bloodied footprints in their wake.

In the darkness, shallow and sharp breathing hastens from below the dining room table. Those bare, pale feet draw close to the table’s edge. A haunting figure cast in the waxing moonlight, pale as a corpse, lifts one long finger into the air. The kitchen table rises weightlessly from the floor, bobbing like a balloon until it comes to rest with a crunch against the ceiling. The boy, once hiding beneath the table, stares up wide-eyed at the gaunt monster before him, unable to look away; barely able to remember to breathe.

“Don’t be afraid, Matthew,” Sadler says as the light catches his eyes just right, revealing a pale red glow behind his pupils.

“I’m a friend of your mother’s.”

Sadler is practically salivating, his jaw trembling at the sight of easy prey with such potential. His distraction deprives him of his senses, and Robyn was right. He should have been more careful.

Otherwise, he’d have heard Robyn crawl up the stairs behind him.

It's as fast a crawl as she can manage, trying her best to push through the pain of both her leg and arm as she carries her cane in one hand and pulls herself with the other. Adrenaline is a hell of a drug, but it is everything she needs in this moment.

A friend of your mother's he says as she summons every bit of stamina and willpower she has to pull herself up to her feet. Miraculously, it's without a sound from her.

The only sounds either of them hear are the quick scraping of metal before the cane goes sailing through the corner of Sadler's vision.

And before it can hit the ground, Robyn finds herself thrusting with the sword that had been hidden inside the cane all this time, aimed squarely at Sadler's heart.

Mom!” Matthew squeals as Sadler crashes to the ground from a swift blow to the head and then finds the blade of Robyn’s sword cane driven square into the middle of his chest. He exhales a ragged, wet breath as blood pours from the wound and is coughed up from where the blade penetrates his lung. Matthew, Robyn, everything is flung backwards from a telekinetic shove. As Matthew strikes the far wall of the dining room the table that had been held to the ceiling comes crashing back down, legs breaking off and broken glassware scattering everywhere.

Sadler wheezes, gurgles, and pulls himself up, clutching the blade embedded in his chest and poking out a couple inches out of his back. He looks up in Robyn’s direction to where she is slouched against the wall opposite of Matthew. Sadler’s voice is a low, throaty groan as he climbs up to his knees, dragging himself forward. His grotesque, lamprey hand stretches out toward Robyn, toward the weeping lines of pale white light running down her brow, pooling beneath her from the reopened wound in her leg.

Rows of teeth bristle outward from the mouth on the palm of Sadler’s hand, and Robyn can see light blooming beneath her skin like lightning dancing in dark stormclouds as Sadler closes in on her.

Adrenaline can't fight back the pain that bites at every fiber of Robyn's being. The swordcane has remained within her prey and grossly out of reach from where she lays, a fact which utterly horrifies her in that moment. Sputtering, her vision swims from the impact, nausea washing over her as she watches Sadler crawl his way towards her.

"You had a chance to leave," she coughs out, a thin white line of blood draining from the corner of her mouth. "You had a chance!" Shifting herself to her knees, she looks around for anything else, anything that can serve her purpose.

Her hand slides over the broken remains of a plate, slicing a small cut into her hand. Pulling it back, her eyes widen. Gaze darting for a jagged piece of glass, she slides it into her palm and turns her attention towards Sadler. "I'm not an animal," she hisses out as she crawls towards him. "I won't die here for you!"

Sadler unleashes a wailing shriek as she lunges at him, reaching out toward her face with his grotesque maw-hand. Robyn’s left hand grabs Sadler at the wrist, right hand swings down with the glass and embeds it into the crook of his elbow and with all the strength she has left in her saws down into cartilage and bone. Sadler screams in pain and Robyn feels the pressure of a telekinetic hand at her chest as she is dashed against the wall hard enough to leave a dent in the drywall.

In the same motion, Sadler phases to avoid any further sawing into his flesh, and he pulls away from Robyn, getting up onto his hands and knees before solidifying and—


The sword cane rolls across the floor. Sadler lurches, blood pulsing out of a now gaping wound in his chest. He exhales a shuddering breath, collapsing onto his forearms and knees. He tries to crawl away from Robyn’s unmoving form, toward Matthew who is sobbing, curled up in a tight ball on the opposite side of the room. “Nnh,” Sadler gasps wetly, his blood-covered hands slipping on the floor, even as glass embeds itself into his hands and knees. “Nno,” he slurs his words, vision tunneling.

One pawing crawl after another, Sadler makes incremental progress toward Matthew. He crawls over the table, leaving a drooling trail of blood in his wake as he does. Matthew, now frozen in terror looks with wide eyes as the blood-covered, gaunt nightmare of a man crawls like a spider across the broken table, reaching out with his maw-hand toward him.

Mathew,” Sadler groans, choking on his own blood, fingers curling in the air. The blue glow in his pupils begins to fade, breaths coming in short, sharp rhythm. Then, inches from the boy, Sadler collapses onto the broken table. Motionless.

For a time, all is silent. Blood pools out beneath Sadler in a dark carpet, and Matthew’s trembling panic subsides to dread as he sees Robyn staring vacantly at him


These arms of mine

Mom?” Is the tiny whisper that escapes Matthew in silent darkness.

they are lonely

Looking down at Sadler, Matthew sucks in a few hiccuped sobs and creeps across the floor on her hands and heels, back pressed up against the wall, avoiding where Sadler lays lifeless in the middle of the floor, where the broken glass is scattered like so many glittering stars.

Lonely and feeling blue

Mom?” Matthew asks again, moving onto his hands and knees as he gets around Sadler’s right side, moving with a shaky and trembling cadence. Robyn remains unfocused, eyes open, the once turbulent light that burned beneath her skin dimming like an old light bulb that had been turned off.

These arms of mine

A whining noise escapes the boy as he gets around the back of the table, scrambling over to Robyn, then rising up onto his knees, fingers wound into her sweater at the shoulders. “Mom?!” His voice takes on a more panicked cry, even as distant blue and red lights begin to reflect through the windows of the dining room, glittering off of all the broken glass.

they are yearning

“No,” Matthew whimpers, pawing helplessly at Robyn’s shoulder. “No.” Sirens wail in the night, cars begin to surround the Kaleidoscope Studio offices. A half dozen NYPD officers his the street below, rushing toward the front door of the building, finding the entrance locked.

Yearning from wanting you

Please, no, no,” Matthew squeaks, curling up against Robyn and pressing his head to her chest, wrapping his small arms around her waist. “Please, no, no.”

And if you would let them hold you

The boy who has lost everything in his life, every single family member he has ever known, breaks down into shuddering sobs as he buries his face against Robyn’s chest. She stares, unblinking, into the dark of the night.

Oh, how grateful I will be

Police hammer on the door, call up, but find no response. Calls are placed, plans are made, but Matthew knows before anyone else that it is too late.

These arms of mine

Because Robyn Quinn is dead.

they are burning

Matthew’s mournful sobbing echoes through the apartment, rocking himself back and forth against Robyn’s unmoving form.

Burning from wanting you

For all his short life, all he has ever wanted is to be accepted for who he is. And she, for all the short time they were together, had given him that.

These arms of mine

His eyes wrench shut, fingers curl tightly into the blood-dampened fabric of her sweater, and he cries louder than he has ever cried before.

they are wanting

One by one, every single light in the house begins to flicker. Light bulbs spark with life and then blow out. Electronics turn on and then flash with smoke. Street lamps turn off outside, city lights for an entire block go out in an instant.

Wanting to hold you

Police cruisers shut down, engines stall, sirens silence. Police officers collapse to the street like marionettes with their strings cut. Birds just ready to greet the approaching dawn fall dead out of the sky.

And if you would let them hold you

And Robyn Quinn

Oh how grateful I will be

takes a breath.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License