Chatter By The Water Cooler


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Scene Title Chatter By The Water Cooler
Synopsis Wu-Long and Sylar bond, and then it's all business when Ethan arrives.
Date November 1, 2008

Eagle Electric: Rooftop

A waning crescent glows in the sky, a fingernail moon punctuated by two planets Wu-Long doesn't know the name of and a scattering of stars. A few years ago, you could've made out more celestial bodies— before Manhattan started stumbling down the path of recovery; a few years before that, you'dve made out practically none. The survival of terrestrial society is measured in inverse proportion to the glory of the firmament.

Which is some kind of grotesque metaphor for Amato's grotesque worldview, he suspects. He's sitting on the roof's edge of Eagle Electric, his boot-clad ankles dangling down, swinging, colliding arhythmically with the striated steel wall. Wrang… —Wrok. Wrang.

He figures he's alone, otherwise somebody probably would have banged on the wall from the inside telling him to shut up. It's good. Better this way. He nurses a hoppy Belgian beer, one hand wrapped around the bottle, enjoying the contrary prickle of numbness seeping into his fingers between the chilly evening and the algid beverage.

Despite the evening, with a moon that can hardly be called generous for all the light it gives and the shadows it casts, Sylar doesn't look quite himself as he moves down the street at a quiet pace. Under the hood of a three-quarter length jacket, the angular features of a pallid teenage boy certainly aren't those of the killer accused fro the destruction this city surrounds. Wisps of blonde hair fall on his forehead, but after a few moments of concentration, his shoulders broaden, his features mature, his hair darkens, and he fills into the form of Gabriel Gray, now that he's close enough to Eagle Electric. There are just some cards you keep close to your chest.

The sound of Wu-Long's heels beating casually against the steel is impossible for anyone to ignore, let alone someone with hearing so specific he could pick up the sound a few blocks away. So he's curious to see what it is, focusing a hawk's gaze up towards the man. Sylar tilts his head, before resuming his walk towards the building.

Not a minute later, quiet footsteps sound against the surface of this rooftop setting, but there's seemingly nothing there, save for the faintest outline of a man's shape, like a fine glass statue that you can only see properly if it moves, distorting it's back drop.

He squints. This helps a bit: brings out the bunching and bending of light where it enters the man's figure before reaching his eyes. The dark pigmentation of his eyes tends to make smiling for photographs under a blazing sky really aggravating, but by that same token, they take to night-time easily. Faint. As slight as Wu-Long's imagination tends to be, for anything other than changing a body with trauma and an intimate knowledge of anatomy.

That's sort of sad, but that's also vague self-assurance he isn't just seeing things. He gets up, his long leather coat slapping panel over slithery panel, bottle clutched in a callused hand. He squints very hard indeed. And then, on impulse, his beer-hand hand pops forward. Out the nozzle, beer sprays yellow toward the peculiar wraith. He learned this back home. Even ghosts need to eat and drink.

Sylar pauses when Wu-Long looks back towards him, tempted to end the masquerade - he'd only wanted to get here discreetly, after all - but then it becomes a test, and silently, he simply stands and watches, hands in his pockets. What would the Chinese man do with an invisible ghost-like presence?

…that, apparently, which is not what Sylar was expecting. In a very human, ordinary gesture, he quickly steps back to avoid the spray of liquid, arms up, although it hardly does the job, and the beer drips down the invisible figure, some drops melting into that transparently, others that don't soak in still seeable. A second ticks by, before he reaches out with a transparent hand, and clenches his fist. Rather suddenly, the beer bottle in Wu's hand implodes in shards of glass and drips of whatever was remaining inside. Colour pools back into Sylar's form, making him solid again, and he goes about wiping down his front in brisk, irritated movements. "I like this coat," he says, a little flatly.

Surprise colors Wu's features even as red tinges his hand. He raises his palm, fingers half-curled and palm splayed, studies it as if surprised at this thing that attached itself to his wrist at some point in his sleep. At least there's alcohol right into the tiny cuts. "I like this beer," he retorts, shaking mingled liquid and sharded glass off his hand, brackish drops flying from broken skin, splattering dots on the steel and glittering glass powder underfoot.

He mutters a Chinese curse, experimentally pats his palm on the sleeve of his own coat before, assured that no remaining fragments of bottle remain, he wipes it on himself. "Dui bu qi, friend," he apologizes the next moment, his stubbled face instantly contrite. Or good-natured; it's hard to tell in the dark. "I should've known better than to think my ancestors came to visit here."

Sylar focuses his gaze down to what he can see of Wu-Long's palm - most people might need a closer inspection, but he keeps his distance, and seems to judge that the grazes aren't particularly wounding. His coat, however, will need to go through the laundry again - so he's the victim, here, as far as he's concerned, and offers no apology in return. "I'm no ghost," he agrees. "I just, on occasion, look like one. What was that?" An abrupt diversion in conversation. To elaborate, Sylar repeats, almost perfectly, "Dui bu qi. An apology?"

If the bottle glass had been telekinetically pushed in the opposite direction, no doubt the skin of Wu-Long's hand would be in slimy ribbons instead of nicked up. If this occurs to him, there's no visible evidence of relief or adrenaline washing through his system.

"Yes," he pats his hand down the edge of his coat, apparently unconcerned about a few bloodstains more. His eyes slant up at Sylar, crinkled around either the effort of focusing, amusement, or both. "Mandarin. It means 'I'm sorry.' Your accent's pretty good," he notes. Better by far than Wu-Long's accent in English, the -l's and -le's curled into oh's or gone entirely when he speaks, other consonants purled slightly. "Most bai ren — white people — English speakers, they have trouble with the tones.

"Ehhh." He looks at his palm a brief moment, wraps it around his coat sleeve and squeezes. "Blow things up, turn invisible, parrot Chinese. Is there anything you don't do?"

"There's nothing I don't do," Sylar assures, moving towards the edge of the rooftop, peering down towards the street below for the simple reason that he can. And sure, he's lying, but his limits are like a separate card he'd prefer to keep hidden up his sleeve. "Maybe you can teach me more sometime," he says, in a tone that suggests he knows well that both men won't sit down to conduct a little lesson in How To Speak Mandarin any time in the near future. "I like to learn. What do you do?"

The possible invasive tone of voice, coupled with the possible knowledge of what Sylar does to Evolved after he slices through their skulls, moves him to follow this up with, "It's like trying to see the tricks behind the magician's performance. I didn;t follow your sleight of hand with the armsdealer the other day and I've been curious ever since."

The crows' feet flanking Wu-Long's eyes deepen fractionally. He's heard. About what Sylar does with the melons of those who have no greater use to him than what preternatural abilities they possess. By function of that, he's well aware that Sylar's reply was a little bit exaggeration.

"I will teach you Mandarin," he proposes gallantly. His teeth show white. "How to swear, if nothing else." Back with Blackwater, few had been interested in learning much else. "Me?" His tone dips a metaphorical toe into humility and finds its lukewarmth refreshing from the reverberating chill of the wind and the faint thrill of another killer's proximity.

"I speak Chinese. Two dialects. I'm a husband. I fuck with the deaf, dumb, and blind, and I collect knives. I'm a career soldier and I always have been. And you?" He loosens his grip on his lapel, reaches under to pull out a box of cigarettes. Shakes it against his ear to check how many there are left: three. He asks in the tone of an idle question: "What were you?"

That brings a twitch of an amused smile from Sylar, and he sits, now against the ledge of the building, hands almost clasped politely, primly. "I'll remember it," he promises, of the offer to teach him to at least swear in a new language. Not that he's one for swearing in this one, either, unless 'gosh' can count as a curse in the year 2008. But who knows what can come in handy?

The question causes Sylar's eyes to narrow, but not in a glare, just in interest. "Were?" he echoes, glancing over his shoulder and out towards what little city skyline can be seen at night. "I doubt that would impress any of you. Kazimir's band of merry men."

There's still a haphazard leak of haemoglobin out of Wu-Long's hand, but he apparently thinks he has enough to spare that he pulls the cigarette box out and selects a cylinder out of one. The box is then offered to the younger man, withdrawn politely only after the gesture is met. However it's met. "No need to impress," he says, summoning a lighter out of some unimaginable place. Sylar hears the clink of another bottle inside his coat as he moves. "It's a bonding experience, no?" Wu-Long inhales through his cigarette sharply; the tip flares orange before fresh-formed ash blots it out. "We're all here to help each other out, eh? Deserters and deluded priests, little girls and widowers. What's to boast about?" He huffs out a breath thick with conviction and nicotine.

The offer gains only hesitation, then a slight shake of his head. It could almost be counted as a shy reaction, but really, it's just uncertainty. How much company can someone like Sylar keep, anyway? When he's not pretending to be something else? Unless he is. It's difficult to keep track. Regardless, he politely refuses, and watches Wu-Long with animated attentiveness.

The sentiment of dubious sincerity draws a chuckle from the other killer. "I suppose we are," he agrees. "Here to help each other." He's not really watching Wu, now, gaze drifting now and then and only sparing him flicks of looks to take in his expression. "I was a watchmaker," he says, finally. "Like my father was a watchmaker. I had a shop, it made money, I existed. I was no one. Then one day I found out I could do something no one else could. And here I am. Someone." Someone special, to quote Kazimir.

Now, he fixes his gaze back on Wu-Long. "Do you all believe what he says?" he asks, perhaps a bold question - this isn't exactly a group where those of little faith have room to play. "Why he does it?"

Comfortably, the dragon watches Sylar watch him, stop, then begin again, following the abrupt, saccadic motion of the younger man's eyes and the gentler swoops of his head to and fro with unintrusive interest not entirely unlike that which characterizes Sylar himself. Despite their differences in height, ethnicity, and substance use, they have a few distinct things in common.

Wu-Long finds his question as interesting as Sylar had found his. Guffaws suddenly, abruptly. "No, not all," he answers, easy as you like. "I don't know whether it disappoints or reassures Volken that we don't need…" he hunts the words down with the same efficiency he might have used to snatch a thrown knife from its trajectory. "…ideological unanimity to have tactical solidarity. I think Ethan and Amato are true believers. Or close.

"They hate each other too much to be of the same mind." A conflict which Wu-Long suspects the former watch-maker is aware of. "My father had a shop," he shifts backward a subject abruptly and without segue, black-eyed face blinking bright. "He sold durians.

"Ye-zi. Spiny green fruit, smell like cat piss. People either love them or hate them. I had no mind for business or I would have done that." He takes a drag, flicks ash off the edge of the building. The wind spirits it away long before the crumbling flecks contact the chapped concrete below. "Are you serious?" Again without segue. There is no sarcasm in Wu-Long's voice. Perhaps realizing his tone could have been interpreted as such, he exchanges that statement for: "Is that what you believe? I heard you do exactly what the other ones do." Nature of the skull-splitting beast.

At Wu's confirmation that he's not the fanatic Sylar was going to count him as, the serial killer draws his mouth into a thin smile - perhaps amused. "Then you are a career soldier," he says agreeably. "Rather than a seller of ye-zi. I didn't have a mind for staying put, or else I'd probably be fixing loose ratchett wheels and replacing broken clock faces right now." A would-be waste of potential, or a real waste of potential harmlessness - depends on which side you stand.

His hands come up to do up the higher collar of his still stained jacket, against the brisk fall wind that batters at them, before replacing said hands back into his pockets, still half-sitting, half-leaning against the roof ledge. Dark eyes meet at Wu's much darker eyes, and Sylar… shrugs. A flippant reply to a rather severe question. "The same, for different reasons," he agrees. "Which is why I'm even here. I'm not a fanatic, but as long as they're hunting the people I hunt, with greater resources than I have," like, say, money, "I'm willing to go along for the ride. When I read about what Kazimir was doing in the papers, the bodies… I thought it was a waste. But it was common ground."

"He's probably going to fail," Wu-Long replies, almost agreeably— and it is a species of agreement after its own fashion. Pauses after a moment's thought. "Unless he kills all of humankind." The most practically efficient way of eradicating the Evolved of the world, he thinks. Rather, the only way. Nevertheless, far it be it for a career soldier to take issue with a fool's errand; he's in it for the battle, not the war.

And his wife's preserved life, though that's a topic he doesn't broach, at least not now, despite the transparency with which he volunteers most of his other opinions. The cancer stick bobs in his mouth with each syllable. "Speaking of cat piss, you should probably wash that off." He points amiably at the beverage the younger man is wearing.

"I doubt he'd take kindly to that attitude. But I wasn't recruited for maintaining morale, so." Then, Sylar tilts his chin down, looking at the splash of moisture over dark fabric. Nothing a tumble in a washing machine can't fix, but all the same, his irritation is renewed, just a little. That'll learn him from creeping up on unsuspecting superstitious Chinamen, that's for certain. "You could always buy me a new coat," he adds, looking back at Wu-Long, then looks him once, up and down. "Yours is nice." Leather trench coats are so hard to find these days, after all - but he's distracted, head tilting to one side, as if listening to something. For now, it doesn't seem like there's any to hear, but all the same, he says, "We have company."

And company makes a lot of noise, things being shuffled around in the warehouse, though the distance only makes it possible for Sylar to hear. Though whoever it is is certainly not trying to mask or hide his noise. And then eventually his noise could be heard by Wu-Long Ethan is stomping up the stairwell until eventually he is out on the roof with him. As he steps out, a small flame is produced by the man and soon a cancer stick bobs in his mouth. The lighter tucked away the man meanders closer to the two on the roof. "I'm here to kill you all." He mumbles in greeting, taking a drag on his cigarette.

Unsuspecting, superstitious, or merely kind of an asshole who thought hitting an attitudinally invisible spectator with beer would be entertaining if not justly deserved. Sylar isn't here to maintain morale, so—? "He wouldn't," he assents, pulling his cigarette into a hand, turning his head against the wind. Wu-Long doesn't glance down at his own garment, grins, baring teeth. "It was made in Malaysia. Cheap as shit but everything they have is.

"I can find you one just like it." He doesn't specify how the purchase would be made. Instead, he turns his head to follow the way Sylar's listed to the side. His brow knots before smoothing at the clack and bump of objects, then the rhythm of Ethan's approaching footsteps. "He break my bottle," he tells the Englishman, gesturing in Sylar's general direction with a hand that still shows cuts. An infantile complaint. "Kill him first."

Sylar's eyebrows raise a little bit, looking towards Ethan. "He started it," he states, without conviction, taking in the newcomer's appearance and the way he, too, lights up. Sylar may have to pick up the habit just to fit in but for now he just stays leaning against the ledge, casual as you please as if hanging out on the roof of Eagle Electric is something he commonly does. "Don't trouble yourself on my account," he tells Wu-long. "If I want one, I'll just take yours. Are you," and mid sentence, he looks towards Ethan, "going to be kidnapping Gillian's sister very soon?" Abrupt change of pace, maybe, but it's a question he'd planned to ask upon visiting here.

Bringing up a thumb and a finger, making the shape of a gun Ethan points it at Sylar once Wu-Long identifies his crime. "Bang." Says the Brit as he imitates the kick back of a gun. He then holsters his 'weapon' while he takes a exhales a puff of smoke. "You two gettin' intimate up 'ere? A romantic view is tha' it? You might want to 'old on boys, I need to confirm Kazimir's policy on inter-company relationships." Ethan says dryly, no hint of a joke just an offer to help the two out.

He makes a clicking noise at Sylar's question. "That assignment was given to someone else." His eyes flick over to Wu-Long for a moment before returning to Sylar. "I suppose she is hard to locate?" The man asks of Wu-Long without asking him. "We will appre'end 'er as soon as she makes 'er self available. How are things going with 'er?" He asks in return of the other man.

A question that Wu-Long already knew the answer to. His eyes go wide, blink, then relax, the gesture of a sleepy person or one who merely sucks terribly at feigning innocence. He doesn't bother attaching some ironic verbal reply to the look. "She isn't. She's in the telephone book. Smart enough to remove herself from Google White Pages, but only just." Registration tends to bespeak certain qualities of character, Wu-Long has found. The tendency to get oneself listed on a paper.

"If you wanted one, you would've said something different," he remarks at Sylar after a moment, black eyebrows hiking a fraction of an inch and briefly, bemused. "I doubt we're the same size." Without pursuing that train of thought to the next station, he relegates himself to silent spectatorship — as he's so often wont to do, sticking his cigarette back in his face, quiescent on his feet.

The teasing gets a sort of tolerant silence from the killer, one eyebrow raising just a fraction, but he says nothing of it, just tilts his head a little as if to loosen the muscles in his neck. At Ethan's answer, he frowns a little. He didn't count on that, Sylar glancing back towards Wu-Long when Ethan indicates who's in charge of this particular errand. He pauses, thoughtful, and says, "I don't know how well she and her sister get along but perhaps I can make her more available for you," he says. "When your plan's put into motion, I'll give her that nudge, like you said." Now, his gaze fixes back to Ethan - Wu's assignment or not, it's Ethan's authority he more-or-less reocgnises, or, as it turns out, feels more comfortable bargaining with. "But I have a condition, if you want access to Gillian at all."

"We've already established you've got exclusive banging rights." Ethan says eyeing the man. "What other condition is there? I thought we 'ad a deal before. You can't start changin' the rules in the middle of the game." He murmurs looking thoughtfully at the man. Not a statement to say he will not hear out the condition, just an expression that Ethan appreciates the concept of deals. But he retraces for a moment. "Give me half a fuckin' minute and I'll find 'er." As he grabs the cigarette in his mouth he glances at his Chinese Compatriot once again. "I 'ave other ways of finding people than -google-." Yahoo for instance, or myspace. "We'll get 'er soon enough. I've been busy trying to track down these Pariahs. By the way, what the fuck is a pariah? I thought it was one of them biting fish but I realized the other day that's a pirahna not a Pariah. So fuck. I've been tracking the wrong group this 'ole time." He says with a bit of irritation before he glances back to Sylar. "Roight, what condition is that?"

Ever the soldier, Wu-Long takes no offense. He might even approve of the way Sylar approaches Ethan's authority. Himself, he has yet to quit 'sir'ring the Englishman when a simple 'Yes' or 'Okay' would do. He inhales and exhales nicotine. Gives Ethan an odd glance when he makes that response: "Found her," he clarifies. "It wasn't hard. She isn't trying to hide. But," he studies Sylar in brief silence, "he's right: she isn't here."

Not that Boston is far, or the four hour drive— one hour flight— would be altogether unmanageable, but he does regard his time as finite and valuable. He pulls his lips back, vents smoke through his teeth like his namesake might have once upon a fairytale. "Have to be a Hell of a subtle nudge," he points out.

"This isn't about Gillian," Sylar says. "It's about her sister." And a hand goes up, sort of a similar gesture for when he's about to unleash a little telekinesis on the world - but this time, he's just giving Ethan a silencing gesture. Don't say a word, he doesn't mean that, is the implication. He continues with, "I don't know what you planned to do with Jennifer Childs after this Company of yours steals her, but here's the new end game. You'll give her to me when you're done. I want something she has."

Turning his head to look at Wu-Long, Sylar smirks. "I can be subtle," he states, flatly. So it took some work, yes, but he got there in the end. Life's not a series of head slices, apparently, although things would be so much easier if they were. Speaking of which. "I'll get her to the city if I get to kill her," he summarises, looking again to Ethan.

Ethan shakes his head a tad bit. "You're a twisted motha'fucker." The man comments giving a shrug. "We were going to keep 'er alive in case we needed to use er as a bargaining chip in case the situation got out of 'and. But if you want 'er dead, we can make 'er dead." The man says before correcting himself. "Well I suppose it would just be you." He says puffing on his cigarette. He looks to Wu-Long and smirks a little bit. "We'll get 'er. Fuck I can even go if you want me to. If our friend SySy here is just going to kill 'er we won't 'ave to worry bout her recognizin' me face."

Wu-Long scrapes a thumb nail under his lip idly, scratching. "She would have to be dead by the time we finished," he acknowledges, after a protracted moment. "The 'pro' list under letting her go is very short. I'm not even sure what's on it. I don't see why not. Have a party," nodding at Sylar, then at Ethan. "Stretch your legs." He's well-aware that he has always been the one to show his face as the disposable thug in subterfuge not because he's better at the dirty work but because Ethan more often has to play clean. "I found a bunker near the old piers." West edge of the Midtown ruins. "How long are we retaining her?"

Hard to know if cutesy nicknames are a form of familiarity or mockery. Sylar studies Ethan for a moment as if trying to decide which he means. Much like the other rounds of teasing, it's dropped for now, just filed away. His hands emerge from his pockets, pushing against the ledge to stand and something occurs to him. A hand hovers just over where the beer was splashed, and very faintly (though made more obvious due to the dimness of the setting) his hand seems to glow with a slight outline of blue, and frost creeps over the damp wool. It takes only a few seconds, and he brushes himself clean of almost dry icy beer, which melts almost as soon as it lands onto the ground. You learn new tricks every day.

"Yes, just me," Sylar confirms, nodding once to Wu-Long when he, too, gives his consent to this new piece of fine print. Though stoic, he seems almost excited at the prospect, an unstoppable twist at the corner of his mouth, a suppressed smile. "Alone, ideally, I don't need an audience. And if you need help tracking down PARIAH, I know a few names and faces. I've used them before." As for Jennifer's accommodation, he doesn't offer any advice.

Smirking a bit, Ethan gives a bit of a nod at Sylar's new trick. Though the abilities may give him an edge over Ethan, respect is only given when an individual exercises extreme control over their ability. Anyone can use what they are born with, Ethan only acknowledges those who discipline themselves to use their abilities and skills with control. So it may be safe to say Sylar is moving up in Ethan's respect book.

"We keep her for a bit, see which way Gillian goes. We may need 'er alive at some point to prove that 'the Company' 'as 'er. But once I deem it safe, I'll let you have your fun." The man says, giving a look to Sylar. Throw the dog a bone. "Really? I'll take a list if you could do that much for me." The Brit man says, with that he throws the cigarette down on the ground and gives it a good stomping out. "And maybe some information I could feed them on the infamous Sylar. Show them that I'm valuable." Ethan says with a bit of a grin.

Dropping Ethan into the world of PARIAH is a bit like throwing a cat into a flock of chickens. Although the man's proven he's not exactly limited to being a physically able thug, but still, if feathers and blood start flying, Sylar would just request a front seat. He inclines his head to Ethan in agreement. "I was planning to give them a little reminder of my existence," he says. "I'm sure they'll be grateful."

November 1st: Welcome to Now
November 2nd: Toast
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