Changing Faces


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Scene Title Changing Faces
Synopsis Bryan bargains with Sylar for Elle's safety.
Date October 1, 2008

Central Park

Central Park has been, and remains, a key attraction in New York City, both for tourists and local residents. Though slightly smaller, approximately 100 acres at its southern end scarred by and still recovering from the explosion, the vast northern regions of the park remain intact.

An array of paths and tracks wind their way through stands of trees and swathes of grass, frequented by joggers, bikers, dog-walkers, and horsemen alike. Flowerbeds, tended gardens, and sheltered conservatories provide a wide array of colorful plants; the sheer size of the park, along with a designated wildlife sanctuary add a wide variety of fauna to the park's visitor list. Several ponds and lakes, as well as the massive Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, break up the expanses of green and growing things. There are roads, for those who prefer to drive through; numerous playgrounds for children dot the landscape.

Many are the people who come to the Park - painters, birdwatchers, musicians, and rock climbers. Others come for the shows; the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Delacorte Theater, the annual outdoor concert of the New York Philharmonic on the Great Lawn, the summer performances of the Metropolitan Opera, and many other smaller performing groups besides. They come to ice-skate on the rink, to ride on the Central Park Carousel, to view the many, many statues scattered about the park.

Some of the southern end of the park remains buried beneath rubble. Some of it still looks worn and torn, struggling to come back from the edge of destruction despite everything the crews of landscapers can do. The Wollman Rink has not been rebuilt; the Central Park Wildlife Center remains very much a work in progress, but is not wholly a loss. Someday, this portion of Central Park just might be restored fully to its prior state.

The day after Niki Sander's phone call to Bryan, the Company Agent set up a meeting the best way he knew how. In the personal ads. When a response was posted confirming, Bryan set out to meet the elusive and somewhat enigmatic Sylar in Central Park. Somewhere a clock strikes nine, and Bryan comes to a stop beneath a lamp on the side of the park's path.

At this time of night, the park is devoid of the usual clamor and chaos. Bryan is dressed down in a turtleneck and sportcoat paired with jeans and nondescript boots. "This guy is tricky, but he's our in when it comes to finding out where the escapees are keeping Elle. He'll likely say a fair deal that won't make any sense." Bryan sets his dark eyes on Peter, then glances to the patch on his neck.

It was placed there and explained back in the facility — connected to a small charge, the packet is full of Bryan's venom, which Peter is now immune to. Bryan holds the remote dentonater tightly in his hand, and a syringe of the same concoction Odessa used when showcasing Bryan's abilities is in his coat pocket. It's a backup plan in case Sylar decides to overstep his bounds and go back on the deal.

"It's better not to pay any attention to a lot of what he says."

"This Sylar," Peter arches one brow when he speaks the name, walking with his hands in the pockets of his slacks beside Bryan, "He's one of the people responsible for the breakout, right?" His head cocks to the side, only furthering the inquisitive nature of his expression. "The report I read indicated he attempted to free Adam Munroe, but then managed to escape after coming into conflict with the terrorist cell that had unknowingly led him into the facility." Peter furrows his brow, looking thoughtful as his eyes scan the park. "I find it hard to believe that company agents don't have a small GPS tracker they can carry for instances just like this," His lips purse, head shaking slowly, "Even in the event they knew about it and removed it, or it was damaged, it could give a fair estimate to the direction they were taking her in." Peter's eyes follow a man jogging past, squinting as he watches him go by.

"Moreover," His focus shifts back to Bryan, "I'm surprised the Company doesn't have an Evolved telepath, or maybe a psychometry reader?" Teeth draw over his lower lip, "I read about that potential ability in Chandra Suresh's book, people who can feel locations and objects. Even a precognitive, someone who can track down people. It just seems so…" His head shakes, "It seems silly for us to be doing this with the resources Mister Bishop spoke to me of in our meeting." He tenses for a moment, thinking about the squib on his neck, "Counterproductive."

"Peter," Bryan says in that patient voice, a smile curling onto his lips. "What makes you think we don't? Still, not all things are…small enough to be easily transported anywhere you may want to go." Shaking his head, Bryan looks away again, tightening his arm against his side for a moment to reassure himself of the pistol in his shoulder holster.

"Just because you possess an ability does not mean you must use it at every offered chance, Peter. In some cases, the old ways are just as effective as the new."

"If you have the resources then why are we taking a risk like this? Why aren't we taking this guy in instead of meeting with him?" Peter's brow tenses, head shaking. "If he's as bad as I heard people thinking about when his name came up at the office, we should put him in a deep and dark hole where he can't hurt anyone again. I mean," Peter's eyes narrow, one hand motioning to accent his point, "If this company was created to protect people from the threat of dangerous Evolved, isn't it not only our responsibility, but a risk we knew on taking this offer that our lives may come in danger?"

There's clearly a zealous manner in which Peter speaks, perhaps believing too much in the Company's philosophy. "Agent Bishop knew the risks of this line of work, and now we're going to let a lunatic run free because she's in a danger she knew was possible? I just don't see this as being the best use of our resources." There's a moment of hesitation, and Peter shifts his eyes over to Bryan. "Why didn't Mister Bishop mention this arrangement to me, either? I don't have an assigned partner yet, and yours doesn't seem to be here. This is against protocol…"

As Peter goes off on his little rant, Bryan keeps his eyes focused down the path. Once he's finished, Bryan's smile is gone, leaving his face cold and blank, much like the boulders further off in the park. "Peter, I am surprised that you would think yourself, as a…new recruit of sorts, privileged to every ounce of information The Company holds. As for this little errand…" Bryan clenches his jaw, and he's unable to keep one thought quiet. I want him dead as much as anyone, but I want Elle back too. And I'll do anything to make that happen. "…there are so many objectives, one has to prioritize."

"Mister Bishop didn't mention the arrangement because Mister Bishop doesn't know what's going on." The voice is cool and crisp, but it lacks the depth that Peter and Bryan might be expecting. For one thing, it's female. For another, it's young. Standing about twenty feet ahead of the pair is a willowy-looking teenage girl with a tangle of blonde hair, and though neither Peter nor Bryan will recognize it, her face very clearly belongs to Helena Dean. "You didn't mention anything about bringing Petrelli with you," she tells the larger of the two. "Has there been a change of plans?"

Peter arches one brow, watching Bryan for a moment before looking back down the winding path. He nods slowly, but his silence seems more obliging than anything, shoulders rolling as he reaches up one hand to scratch at the side of his neck. "For what it's worth," he says quietly, shifting his eyes back over to Bryan, "I understand." Peter doesn't explain what he says, merely affording Bryan a smile, before it is wiped away from his face by the sudden appearance of the blonde girl. Halting in his tracks, Peter's hands come out of his pockets, gaze shooting over to Bryan for a moment, then back to the blonde girl. He remains silent, unable to decide whether he should focus on the girl or Bryan more.

If Bryan hadn't read the reports concerning the breakout and Sylar's new ability to disguise himself, he might take the teenager at face value. Instead, he only smirks after a split second of surprise. "Not at all," he says with a shake of his head. He lifts his hand and unfolds the fingers from around the detonator, keeping it pinned to his palm with this thumb. "We're just here to talk. A got a phone call from a call girl the other day, and I thought it might help you with your end of our little arrangement."

Sylar's eyes — Helena's eyes — narrow. His gaze flicks from Bryan to Peter and then back again, uncertain. "Bringing him out into the open was a mistake, Buckley. What makes you think I'm interested in what you have to say? Everything I want is standing right in front of me. I could take him now, and there would be very little you could do to stop it." He glances at the detonator in Buckley's hand, frowning, but otherwise doesn't appear too concerned by this unexpected turn of events. "You may as well have slapped a ribbon on him."

Peter takes a half step back, apprehension giving way to nervousness, "What's she mean?" His eyes shoot over to Bryan for a moment, then with a click of his tongue he looks back to the blonde girl. "Look, whatever you think you can do, don't." Peter's eyes narrow slightly, and his head cocks to the side. Swallowing nervously, he looks back to Bryan, Please tell me you brought backup. The voice, Peter's voice, echoes in Bryan's head, for someone who's just come off of his meds, he's acclimating himself to the powers he's acquired with remarkable grace.

"Let's just say I have more faith in you than some," Bryan says calmly. "And, if you decide to take what you've yet to earn, I'll simply remove the temptation. You see that packet on Peter's neck? I push this button, and it erupts, breaking the skin and injecting a poison that will kill him in seconds. He'll be no use to you then, will he?"

Bryan lowers his hand with the slim bit of metal in it, keeping his grip tight. "Niki Sanders has left Monroe and Huruma. They're location was tracked to a building in Brooklyn." Bryan reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out an index card where the precise address has been carefully penned.

"You could kill him," Sylar agrees, "but, as far as I see it, there's no guarantee he'd stay that way. A nuclear explosion can't keep that man down." And yet he does not budge so much as an inch. Instead, he flicks his wrist and, with a sharp mental tug, pulls the index card from Bryan's fingers and sends it spinning through the air like a broken leaf in the autumn wind. "You're lucky I'm not working alone."

Peter shoots a glance at Bryan, then down to the card, following it as it moves through the air over towards the girl. His shoulders square and he breathes out a heavy breath, watching the blonde cautiously, trying to put the pieces together of what's happening. One hand does move up, fingers brushing over the squib on his neck, feeling the texture of the wires beneath the surface, shakily withdrawing that hand, trying not to think about just how bad that might hurt if Bryan has to blow it. But he does as he's told, he merely stays put, and stays quiet. After a moment, though, Peter narrows his eyes, focusing on the girl with his brow furrowed, listening in the way only a telepath can.

Bryan tilts his head slightly to one side when Sylar-Helena makes his remark. "Good to hear you've forged that alliance, however temporary it may be." His hand now empty, Bryan returns it to his coat pocket to curl around the syringe there. "Once you retrieve her, in one working piece, contact us again. I'm glad to see this last method worked well, but Elle has my number. That might be a bit easier, after all."

Sylar snatches the card out of the air and spins it, once, between his fingers. It doesn't take much effort for Peter to single out the unique frequency of the serial killer's thoughts. Unlike the last time, when he was posing as Mohinder, he isn't actively guarding the mental dialogue he has with himself. "If you have the address," he asks Bryan, "why don't you send your own people in to retrieve her?" How stupid do you think I am? I'm not Suresh. "The others aren't going to like this, and to be honest I don't either. If you're expecting us to walk into a trap, you have another thing coming to you."

Peter tenses, looking over to Bryan for a moment, then back to Sylar, breathing deeply through his nose to try and keep his concentration. The effort makes himself look more tense than focused, trying to acclimate himself to the powers that his body knows how to use, but his mind seems to have difficulty keeping a hold on. He's skeptical, I'm seeing if I can go deeper, get a better idea of what he wants. Peter's voice fades in and out as it echoes inside of Buckley's, like a radio station that isn't quite tuned properly.

Bryan squints just slightly when Peter enters his thoughts to insert one of his own. It's the only physical acknowledgment that passes between them. "Like you said yourself, it'll be easier for you and your new friends. We wouldn't exactly be welcomed in with open arms, like you may be with your…trunk of masks, and those they may consider compatriots."

Sylar folds the card in half and pockets it, beginning to turn away from the pair. He isn't foolish enough to let them vanish from his peripheral vision, however. "I'll pass the message along, but I can't promise they'll be as eager to take the bait as I am." What have they done to you, Peter? You don't even recognize your own whore when you see her. "Remember, Buckley. If I come knocking at this address and your people are waiting for me on the other side of the door? The firefly suffers for your lack of good judgment."

"Let that be assurance enough that my people won't be behind that door." Bryan's words are uttered with the least amount of jaw movements needed in order to be articulate enough for understanding. I … … too much to risk that. The thought is garbled, as it comes from the depths of the agent despite it's current volume. "I look forward to hearing from you, Mister Gray."

One brow slowly raises as Peter watches the girl withdraw, and his focus shifts over to Bryan, the tension not for a moment leaving the agent's expression. What he hears from Sylar, and more so what he heard from Bryan only seem to further confuse Peter. Once the girl — once Sylar has moved out of what Peter can only assume, and assume incorrectly, is earshot does he speak. "That was Sylar? Not exactly what I was expecting…" His eyes flit back to the blonde girl's retreating silhouette, then to Agent Buckley again. "Nothing about this sets right with me, Bryan. The clandestine meeting in the park, the secrets. Not to mention us coming without backup…" His head shakes slowly, hands curling closed and then opening again slowly. "I only got briefed a little on Company policy by Mister Bishop, but this is just all wrong. Come on, be straight with me… I may've lost my memory, but I'm not an idiot."

Peter narrows his eyes, looking at Bryan intently and Buckley's been around telepaths enough to know that look, the focused tension of his brow and the incline of his head. Peter seems suspicious more of Bryan's own personal agenda, more so than his own predicament. He's just woefully unaware of how deeply those two intersect.

It takes Bryan a few seconds longer than it probably should for him to turn around and face Peter, and when he does, his expression is tight. His thoughts are a muddle, mostly screams of rage and various vicious statements aimed at so many at once, they all become unintelligible. "Since we have the ability to locate them all accurately, you would think that Mister Bishop would have employed this tactic to find his own daughter, wouldn't you?" Taking a sharp, deep breath, the agent turns to walk back the way they both came, his pace brisk and his brow knitted. "It falls to me. As for policy, Elle and I rarely worked with partners. Birds of a feather."

Peter quirks his head to the side, listening to Bryan and both seeing and feeling the intensity of his emotions. He looks away, letting that focus on his thoughts drain with it. "If he's playing his hand close to his chest — Bob, I mean — you think maybe he's got something planned?" Peter's eyes drift down to the ground for a moment, wandering in thought as they often do, "I mean, you said it yourself. If he's got these resources, and he's not using them to rescue his own daughter, there's gotta be a reason, right?" His eyes flit back up, "Look, I'm not trying to judge you here," One hand raises, palm opened, a hesitant gesture of ease. "I'm just trying to figure this out, alright? Have you talked to Mister Bishop about this plan of yours yet?"

"If I did, I wouldn't exactly win the honesty merit badge, now would I?" Bryan shakes his head, letting out a deep breath in an effort to calm himself. "I can't rely on Bishop. I can't wait for him to execute whatever convoluted plan he might be concocting. Not when Elle is in the hands of those maniacs….maniacs who can…" And though Peter isn't focusing, Bryan's thoughts become an imagined possibility for Elle, tortured body and mind and then brought back to the peak of health so it can all be done again.

Letting out a strained sigh through his nose, Peter nods slowly, giving up the ghost of this fight for now. "Alright," He says quietly, eyes closing halfway as he looks to the empty park bench nearby. "But from now on, just try to keep me up to speed on this, okay?" He finally looks up to Bryan again, taking a step closer to lay a hand on the man's shoulder, giving it a squeeze. "I can sympathize, you're close with her. I get it." The hand slowly slides off, "I'll do whatever I can to help," Bryan's thoughts cross Peter's mind again, recalling what he imagines for Elle, "If we can get her out of there, we will. You've got my word on that, okay?"

Truth be told, Sylar is perhaps being more honest than Bryan is, but the agent has been brought up to embrace grayer morals. He turns his head when Peter places his hand on his shoulder, and a strained smile crosses his face. "I appreciate that, Peter. And I think you can really help. You're one of the few things I have faith in these days."

October 1st: Life Is But A Walking Shadow
October 1st: All You Have to do is Ask
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