Checkmate - The Black King


gabriel_icon.gif peter_icon.gif

Scene Title Checkmate - The Black King
Synopsis To end the game and start anew, the King must be captured. Gabriel finds a dying Peter, and turnabout is fair play.
Date July 23, 2009

Some distance from Pinehearst


By the time Gabriel wrenches the draining grate free from the culvert pipe, it's been raining for hours. Struggling with a sore, aching and exhausted body the rusted metal falls away with a loud clang. Water pools at his feet as tired bootfalls clunk and clank in the corrugated metal pipe, up until he claws his way out onto a forested hillside in the Fort Lee Parklands, with the dark silhouette of Pinehearst looming in the distance.

It's been almost an hour since he started making his way up from the interior of the subterranean levels, taking a separate path from Raith, from the others. It's hard to explain why, he he thought it would be best if they split up on their escape before converging on another point, why after just saving her life he'd let Eileen go. Gabriel was always one for intuition, both mechanical and otherwise. Perhaps, one of the voices in his head would say, this was fate guiding his hand.

Climbing out into the draining ditch in view of the Pinehearst building, it's hard to tell if the battle has long since ended, but no lights and no lightning are likely a sign that it has at least wound down. Smoke pours out of half of the windows of the silhouetted complex in the distance, and after a fashion that says job well done in a language Raith speaks fluently.

Trudging away from the draining pipe, starting to climb the grassy hill up towards the road not far from here, something catches Gabriel's focus, catches his attention in the way fresh meat draws the attention of vultures. He feels the presence first before he sees it, feels the last few fluttering beats of a dying heart in his most vile of all powers. There, laying in the grass of the ditch, is the body of a dark-haired man in a suit.

His black suit is matted down from the rain, white undershirt stained a dark red from the single bullet hole at his sternum. Blood has darkened the grass beneath him, the stench now palpable in the air as Gabriel focuses on the familiar scar traversing the body's face. He can feel life still within the body, but it's a heartbeat away from death.

Something about all of this feels so familiar to him; the rain, the blood, the body of someone he recognizes lying dying from a gunshot wound. How did he get out here, why didn't anyone come for him, or find him?

It's Peter.

For a moment, Gabriel simply stands stock still, as if, in a way, it would be convenient for the last of Peter's life to ebb away while he was still making up his mind. Shivering compulsively, muscles depleted beneath skin and his broken arm throbbing and pulsing unhelpful warmth up through to his shoulder, Gabriel stares with obsidian black eyes down at the crumpled form of Peter Petrelli.

Gabriel's killed people. It's kind of his thing. Killed them in unique ways, a line across their forehead like a signature, his fingerprints over everything in such a way that implied he had taken pride out of it. This would be one of those rare moments where no one would know, that he would be blameless, and it would have nothing to do with bloodlust or anger or hunger. He's just tired.

Might be why he doesn't. Leave, that is. Something to do with a fire extinguisher, also.

His bare feet have sunk into the sopping dirt for the duration of his quiet contemplation, but now he moves on closer, his wounded arm drawn against his chest and coming away as he goes to crouch down by Peter, leg muscles burning until he's compelled to kneel instead, mud joining ash, blood and water. Not for the first time tonight, his fingers search out a pulse beneath cold skin, tilting Peter's head to expose the long column of his neck.

Dying. Dead or dying. Gabriel shivers as rain makes tracks down the back of his neck. Lazily, a switch is flicked, and he begins to pull the shadows from the darkness in an effort to draw them into Peter. There's a gravitational pull, more so than ever, the brink of death that Peter stands upon demanding more, just like Eileen's had - but there's no plucky blind-eyed teenager to offer her strength.

Just the grass, the darkness.

Kneeling at Peter's side, there's something echoing around in the back of Gabriel's mind as he feels for a pulse, feels for a sign of life from the man he has tried to kill more times than he can count. But as he takes Peter's hand in his own, and begins focusing on the life-force of the plants and vegetation around him, he sees something between the trees, something standing like it usually does in his periphery; a gray haired man in a black suit with a cane. This time, however, unlike all of the others — he's smiling.

It's in that moment of realization, where all this feels, sounds, tastes familiar that Gabriel can't quite unwind his hand from Peter's quick enough. There's a hissing sound, horrible and other-worldly that comes as black fog-like smoke begins issuing forth from Gabriel's body, peeling away from his forearm where his hand touches Peter. His muscles contort, fingers dig into Peter's hand as the ashen-black smoke begins filtering its way out of his eyes, out of his mouth and nose and swirls around Peter like some sort of charnel mist.

He knows why it seems familiar, he remembers.

The doors to the University have been left wide open, a yawning portal of double-hinged oak reinforced with elaborately designed iron bracing, giving it the appearance of some fantastic castle's gates. The majesty of that design is broken, however, by the unavoidable signs of violence. Immediately upon entering, th grand foyer of the University was clearly the site of a major gunfight. Bulletholes papper the walls with circular pockmarks, and the empty shell casings rattle at Sylar's feet. Dark splothces of blood and dragged smears line the marble floor, along with discarded books and loose, windblown pieces of paper.

«The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.» The voice comes from one of two people in this grand foyer. At the center of the entry hall on his knees, is a sandy-blonde haired man in an unbuttoned gray trenchcoat. The creases on his brow and cheeks show his growing age, and the lightness of his hair at the temples suggests encroaching gray. Where he kneels, there is a body beside him, laid out in a pool of thick, still warm blood. The corpse is of a man much younger, with somewhat lighter hair, trimmed to a crew cut. His stomach is dark with blood staining, his uniform froma gunshot wound. Utterly motionless, save for one hand that is cradled between the two hands of the kneeling officer's. «He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.»

The black smoke continues to surge out of Gabriel's body and then down into Peter, the horrible smoke invading him thorugh his nose, pushing its way down through into his eyes as a sudden breath takes him over, the young man's back arching and a horrified sound of agony shrieking up from him as his hand clamps down on gabriel's. The black smoke slithers and pries itself free, like a hermit crab seeking a new shell, one more pliable, one more useful. In the trees, in Gabriel's peripheral vision, Kazimir is gone.

«Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,» There is a twitch, a motion of three fingers on the clutched hand, a spasm of nerves. The older soldier stops, letting out a ragged breath as he brings his mouth down to the young soldier's knuckles, «I will fear no evil: For thou art with me.» He squeezes the hand harder, hopeful, but knowing full well the chances of surviving such a wound.

Then, abruptly, the wounded soldier's eyes snap open, staring blank and empty towards the ceiling. «Kazimir— » The man kneeling at his side breathes out in a heavy exhalation, squeezing the hand again. «Kazimir you— »

Words are replaced by a raw, agonized scream. Where the older soldier's hand clasps the younger's, flesh begins to pale, veins blackening before the skin on his palms cracks and flakes. A deep, low and roaring sound like a hollow wind being blown through a deep cavern exhales from the young Kazimir Volken's mouth, and like the speed of a woldfire, the rapid dessication begins to take effect. Hands brcome brittle, cracking apart as fingers snap and break, falling to the floor as the young man rises up into a seated position as a bullet forces its way out of his abdomen and onto the floor. «K-Kaz — Kazim…»

The words are finally swallowed into nothingness as Kazimir lunges forward like some hungry beast, knocking his father to the ground, leaping atop him to place both of his hands at his father's throat, screaming aloud as he does. The scream is unintelligible, a wild and crazed thing that only heightens the horror of the scene, as Kazimir's father begins to decompose at his son's touch, skin blackening around where his palms tough, eyes shriveling in their sockets, until finally his skull cannot withstand the pressure of Kazimir's hands, crumbling like an ash-filled paper bag.

As the last trailing wisps of smoke filter into Peter's body, black vains and a familiar, painful white-hot heat begins to seat through the bones in Gabriel's hand. Peter sits up, eyes wide and dark as ephemeral clouds of black slither in through his mouth and nostrils, skin beginning to weather and wither away at Gabriel's palm, just as it did the first time he ever shook Gabriel's hand. Like a ravenous, hungry monster, Peter's hand continues to clamp down on Gabriel's as his body writhes on the wet grass. He has to do something soon, or he'll end up like Kazimir's father.

His legs scissor out from under him in compulsive agony, bare heels digging into the grass in an effort to get away. The fractured bones in his arm are nothing in comparison to the searing pain of Kazimir's ability turned back around, veining around it, and— gone. As if it was never there. No pull or tide of life, nothing within his sense— only the feeling of it being drained out of his like juice from fruit, leaving behind nothing but ashy pulp.

"No, Peter!" is huskily yelped, surging against the man's grip, words dissolving into a growl, white teeth showing bright in the dark, but that arm is weakened, useless in Peter's hand. It'd sooner come apart than come with him.

He doesn't see Kazimir between the trees anymore. But he does see him in Peter's eyes.

Which is a terrible combination if your name is Gabriel Gray in the first place, but it's enough to have him rear back, bare his teeth, strain against the grip on his arm as he pulls the other one right back— and snap a right hook directly towards Peter's face. Not the first time, and it won't be the last.

The sudden, sharp connection of fist against flesh jerks Peter's head to the side, sends him sprawling back against the grass and causes his hand to release Gabriel's from its vice-like grip. Peter lets out a low, growling hiss, crawling to his hands and knees, breathing in hasty breaths as he staggers and stumbles up onto his feet — standing. Slipping in the grass, Peter stumbles away, looking down at his hands, then pawing at his face.

Wide eyes stare in disbelief at Gabriel, wide blue eyes. Blue not like Peter's usually coal black stare, but blue like Richard Santiago, blue like Kazimir Volken. Blue like the sky. Peter breathes in a slow breath, exhaling one last tiny and thin wisp of black smoke before it slithers down the back of his throat.

"Gabriel." Peter manages to say, a weak, quavering tone to his voice as he backs up between the thin trees, and where he rests his hand against the bark, the tree begins to splinter, wither and die. Fear is in his eyes, in his expression, in everything that he is.

And as he turns, starts to run off into the rainy woods, shoes slipping on the grass and branches snapping, it's Gabriel's vision that turns to the ashen gray handprint he left on the tree, and the retreating silhouette of a man far healthier and far less injured than Gabriel is.

"Don't…" …doesn't have quite the volume and gravity to verbally yank the other man back, voice coming out hoarse and tormented, bereft of yet another missing power. Gabriel's gaze swims a little in feverish delirium, strength sapped away into the blow that saved his life and the effort not to collapse. He sees the hand print. Recognises the terror. He saw that in Kazimir too, a long time ago. "Wait. Please— " Damnit. Damnit godamnit forever fucking Jesus Christ on a—

Gabriel bends where he's kneeling, forehead almost coming down to rest against the sopping grass, clutching his injured arm into the fold of his body almost protectively, shaking like a leaf, hope that ragged sandpaper pleas will work draining away about as fast as life-force had. Fate brought him here, and fate has summarily left him here.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Left alone, like it always happens, Gabriel feels the rain battering down on his back. The cold, near freezing rain numbs his skin, helps fill the void Kazimir's power once occupied with a numbness, fills it with a sense of anger, of resentment, of abandonment. Never again.

The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

Twigs snap, branches break, and wet grass deforms under dark shoes. Fear — fight or flight — is a powerful thing. The sounds, though, are drawing nearer instead of getting further away. When Gabriel looks up, fingers wound into the mud and grass and dirt, there stands Peter, rain-soaked and dressed in dark colors as he was a moment ago, a hole in the front of his shirt where a bullet hole once was in his chest. He takes another step, blue eyes focused down on Gabriel intently, scar wrinkling under his brow as he takes a few more steps over.

Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.

He looks down at Gabriel, kneeling in the dirt, and offers out a hand quietly to him, fingers spread, droplets of rainwater rolling down his fingers as he stares at him in silence. Then, considering perhaps what the gesture means, the hand is put away, and instead Peter drops down into a crouch, looking at Gabriel with a timid, frightened expression.

God saw that the light was good…

"Let's go, Gabriel." Peter reaches out to lay a hand on the older man's shoulder, careflly, as to not touch bare skin. And in those words, in that look in Peter's blue eyes, it makes it clear; it's time for a change.

and God separated the light from the darkness.

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