Dead Ends


deckard_icon.gif sylar_icon.gif

Scene Title Dead Ends
Synopsis It all depends on who reaches them first. Sylar and Deckard discover each other in Midtown, and it goes as well as can be expected.
Date January 8, 2009

Ruins of Midtown

Standing in the ruins of Midtown, it's hard to believe New York is still a living city.

There's life enough around the fringes — the stubborn, who refused to rebuild somewhere else; the hopeful, who believe the radiation is gone, or that they somehow won't be affected. Businesses, apartment complexes, taxis and bicycles and subways going to and fro — life goes on. Perhaps more quietly than in other parts of the city, shadowed by the reminder that even a city can die, but it does go on.

Then there is the waste. The empty core for which the living city is only a distant memory. Though a few major thoroughfares wind through the ruins, arteries linking the surviving halves, and the forms of some truly desperate souls can occasionally be glimpsed skulking in the shadows, the loudest noise here is of the wind whistling through the mangled remnants of buildings. Twisted cords of rebar reach out from shattered concrete; piles of masonry and warped metal huddle on the ground, broken and forlorn. Short stretches of road peek out from under rubble and dust only to disappear again shortly afterwards, dotted with the mangled and contorted forms of rusting cars, their windows long since shattered into glittering dust.

There are no bodies — not even pieces, not anymore. Just the bits and pieces of destroyed lives: ragged streamers fluttering from the handlebar which juts out of a pile of debris; a flowerbox turned on its side, coated by brick dust, dry sticks still clinging to the packed dirt inside; a lawn chair, its aluminum frame twisted but still recognizable, leaning against a flight of stairs climbing to nowhere.

At the center of this broken wasteland lies nothing at all. A hollow scooped out of the earth, just over half a mile across, coated in a thick layer of dust and ash. Nothing lives here. Not a bird; not a plant. Nothing stands here. Not one concrete block atop another. There is only a scar in the earth, cauterized by atomic fire. This is Death's ground.

Another frozen night in the ruined bowels of Midtown. The threat of fog hazes soft against a sky bruised brown by light pollution, blurring the harsh lines that define the skewed skeleton of a skyscraper's wide base. It leans over the street below at a precarious angle, long icicles menacing the black street below from the jut of every rent girder and shattered window.

Marginally less ominous are the less impressive buildings huddled near its base. A coffee shop here, souvenirs for sale at one point over there. Eyes screened black behind familiar sunglasses, Deckard is in what might have been some kind of electronics place at some point, having already inspected most of the liquor stores in the area. Hands gloved and torso shielded from the cold by a heavy overcoat, he's currently prying his way into the cash register near a display window at the front with a crowbar.

It's cold, dark, and miserable. Sort of a deepfreeze for the soulless. Sylar wraps his coat around him tighter as he walks, feeling better than he has in a long time since Abby's miracle touch talent, the one he's not allowed to or allowing himself to steal. This corner of Midtown is not a place he would come if he wasn't desperate, and even people like him do get desperate, and so it's a wonder that he doesn't choose to go back to the stolen, warm apartment and remain there for the evening. Maybe he will. Once something is taken care of. Just not tonight.

The sound of a crowbar scraping and scratching against metal is distinctive in this quiet, ruined city. There aren't enough people for even the barest of unusual sounds to go unnoticed, and despite America being the land of opportunity, Sylar hasn't encountered too many people brave enough to scavenge down here. He pauses and listens, and finds himself veering that way, looking over the front of the electronics store with curiousity before drifting even closer. Only one heart beat, and he can make out the figure of the owner of such prying into the cash register.

Sylar's boots find cracked glass underneath them, once-window shards which only splinter further under his weight, making the killer pause and glance down.

Deckard should've just brought a hammer. Or a blow torch. Or a big rock. Having finally managed to pry the head in enough to get some semblance of leverage, he has to pause, left hand braced against the counter while the right shakes itself out. A pair of knuckles are cracked, his sunglasses are pushed automatically up on the bridge of his nose, and…crunch.

The lazy pump of that one heart (made somewhat sluggish by the same alcohol that buzzes acrid on his breath) jolts. There's a swift movement behind the window, black coat sweeping quick across the open span, and Deckard is out of sight, back pressed to the neighboring wall. A slower reach drags the wide barrel of a shotgun off the counter after him.

Sylar raises his hands a little when the silhouette vanishes out of the window in a few short steps, leaving behind a crowbar sticking stubbornly out of the cash register. One good crank of the arm and the thing would crack open to reveal… well, what contents? Sylar would have doubted there'd be anything worth stealing down here anymore, but then, he had never really looked.

He lifts a hand, and with a metallic, screeching creak, the crowbar seems to bend back of its own accord and with a final shudder, the drawer bangs open on its own breaks. There's even a little, if sour sounding *ding!* when this is achieved, and a couple of bank notes drift out with the force of it. Well. Go figure.

Sylar steps inside the store, peering into the darker corners to see what company he's found himself today. "Good evening?" he offers, with a touch of irony in his voice.

The pale lift of Deckard's breath cuts off short at the creak, then resumes at a pace driven more by fear than a more basic need for oxygen when his scruffy head swings back around from Sylar's bones to watch the crowbar doing its own prying. The shotgun gripped between his hands trembles. Maybe it's scared. Or maybe Flint's hands are shaking.

Either way, the muzzle is snapped immediately down and over to the door at the sound of Big Bad's greeting. Reflective lenses twitch after it, flashing dull in the dark that pools thick in Deckard's corner. He's pale, breathing quick enough in the cold to have adopted a faint wheeze. And he doesn't say 'Good evening,' back. The circumstances under which he first met Sylar's skeleton make it difficult to forget.

He doesn't see much, but he can hear it, the sound of breathing picking up in speed, not to mention even the creaks of tension from ligaments and bones as hands tighten in tension. Sylar shakes his head faintly as if this were a way to draw his supernatural hearing back from something so invasive. There's a scratching clatter as he holds out a hand and summons the fallen crowbar into his palm, the metal still slightly warm from all the work that had gone with it just moments ago. "You know me," Sylar says into the darkness. It's a guess, maybe one of arrogance to assume that simple fear is brought about by him, but it often is. "Come out, it's only fair." He exchanges the crowbar into his left hand, actually his better one, looking it over casually. "I don't have to make you, do I?"

Does he? Deckard considers the question, eyes flickering sideways to the broken window. If he ran, he might…make it two or three steps before adding some color to the shop in the form of his insides spattered all over everything. The slight tip of his jaw in that direction scuffs back again, stubble grazing rough over his collar while he tries to swallow the dryness out of his mouth. Okay. Like he says, it's only fair.

Shotgun dropped away from the brace of his left hand to hang low from his right, head stooped like he half expects crowbar to meet skull the instant it's a legitimate target, he moves. Slowly, non-threateningly, carefully forward. One long step, then another. Enough to make his lean frame distinct from the surrounding clutter. Moonlight touches at the harsh angles of his face and traces the lapel of his coat — an assembly of long shapes that Sylar has seen at least once before.

And once is enough, every face that's been given a second glance between Charlie's can opener deathbed and now filed away in a perfect memory that readily divvies up information, laying familiar blueprints onto everything in sight. Sylar lifts an eyebrow when he does in fact recognise the man in front of him, and the crowbar is lax in his hand - even as he steps forward once, twice, thrice to offer it back to the man, the length of metal held out no closer than he need go, glance flicking down to the shotgun. "It's funny," he says. "You have an amazing talent for slipping through the cracks. You must make good friends in compensation for your poor choice of enemies.

The lanky crook stiffens still further when Sylar steps forward. The fight or flight impulses are strong in this one, with flight being the obvious preference here. That he holds his ground might be attributed to the fact that there's nowhere to go. Or that it's only taken him thirty seconds to make peace with his imminent demise.

Then the crowbar is offered back. His chin dips after it. His free hand is slower to react. Could be a trick. Does it matter if it is, though? A quick, grasping, faltering glance is cast up over Sylar's face, scraping after any kind of hint about what might be about to happen.

"They're okay." For twenty-year old terrorist and messiah wannabes. He reaches to take the metal bar. It's still warm enough that he can feel it the heat of it through his glove. Nothing on the subject of enemies. He just swallows again and looks over at the open cash register.

Crowbar exchange complete. No tricks. Sylar steps back once it's done and he pushes his hands into his pockets, seemingly the disarmed man in this scenario, and his expression betrays nothing - save for perhaps mild curiousity, but otherwise, no real indication as to what might happen if Deckard stays or flees or otherwise. He does, with a glance, tracks Flint's look towards the register before Sylar is stepping aside. He's not directly in the path of it, but even less so, now, allowing the scavenger a wide birth. "I won't tell." Lightly mocking. "Are they the law?" Friends, apparently, is the letter of the day. "Or more than that? You know Abigail." All roads lead to.

The question of law earns a negative turn of Deckard's head. Not quite a shake. He isn't inclined to move much at all, even with the span from here to the register now free and clear. "They're just…people. Kids." Probably best not to lie. Meanwhile, how old is Sylar? Thirty? Younger? The crowbar shifts against his leg, the ghost of an aborted shrug of a gesture. Hard to tell.

"Still optimistic enough to drag home whatever strays they stumble across." Even in his derision, there's a weather-worn thread of involuntary affection. Phoenix is kind of stupid sometimes but apparently in a loveable way. "You know Abigail."

"By no fault of mine," Sylar says, confirms, and turns his back on Deckard - all the while Listening as carefully as he can, he's not stranger to the wills of courage of cornered men, especially cornered armed men. His hand reaches towards the cash register, not to do anything voodoo like, but to touch and rifle through the money forgotten there with curiousity. "The girl has zero survival instinct. What are they to you? Safety?"

It's tempting. Tendon and bone strains taut about the stock, glove leather creaking against its stitches. His eyes narrow behind the dark of his glasses. His pulse quickens — animalistic instinct at the prospect of murder. But Deckard hasn't lived this long by impulsively trying to shoot scary people in the back. The urge passes. He doesn't do a damned thing.

"Safety," confirmed via repitition without much fanfare, he studies Sylar's curiosity with wary resignation. It's too bad all the crazy people he meets are in such great positions to fuck him over. They're more fun to stare at than normal people. "I don't normally make a habit of choosing sides, but there are certain flavors of blood even I don't want on my hands."

The money is counted, absently, never forgetting what number he was up to as he absently gathers the paper into his hands, leaving the pennies behind. "I guess after killing a hundred and fifty thousand people in one big fiery go kind of puts things into perspective," Sylar says. Of course he didn't. But it hardly matters to these people, he figures. "I don't have the luxury of drawing lines, choosing sides, not anymore." He offers out the little stack of money. Continual dares. How close can you get to the serial killer? This time, he doesn't walk up to Deckard, just offers the cash. "One hundred and eighty five dollars," Sylar says, absently. "You can thank me for it later if you want."

"In that case, maybe I'll give Ethan a call next time I've blown up half a city and start seeing things differently." Tension inspires cynicism that is strained at best, outlined in the cord of wiry muscle in Deckard's neck and behind the hollows at his jaw. The cash counting is difficult to ignore, and the offer of it still more difficult, but he doesn't step forward. Crowbar in one hand. Shotgun in the other. The former is lifted apologetically. Clearly he has no free hands to come and take it with.

The cynicism is clear, but Sylar's answer seems genuine. "Oh, I wouldn't do that," he says, keeping the money offered out to Deckard for a little while longer, before glancing to the shotgun when it's gestured with. So he moves forward, checking over Deckard's coat until he spies a pocket, and the money is pushed into it, or at least, that is the idea. Whether the man holding a gun and a crowbar will allow it is a different matter entirely. Invasion of physical space aside, he adds, "You don't kill. You just profit. It sounds comfortable. Is it?"

Deckard draws himself up out of his slant-shouldered slouch when Sylar approaches for the second time, spine locking rigid and loose skin wrinkled beneath the bristled shadow of his neck beard when his chin tucks to his collar. Half stiff-shouldered aversion of eye contact despite the glasses, half strong desire to keep track of Sylar's hands, lest they snap up and tear out his throat while he's still using it. "Define comfortable." His breath smells. Whiskey and something else. Maybe coffee and cigarettes.

With a rustle the money is tucked neatly away, and Sylar squints a little, as if attempting to see through Deckard's sunglasses. "Morally," he clarifies, before backing up several steps, observing the man as if in a new light. He tilts his head. "Is it morally comfortable to steal from the dead than to make dead." His chin lifts a little. "It's almost midnight. Is your future really that bright you have to wear shades?"

The glasses are dark. Excessively so, even, but at close range, there might be something more than Sylar's muted reflection peering back at him through the unpleasant haze of Deckard's breath. Leftover from the last time he exhaled, which was several seconds ago. Sylar's proximity seems to have locked up his lungs for some reason.

He doesn't breathe until more than a few awayward steps have been taken. Relief but not really relief. Not while he's still here. "Abigail's God may forgive me for looting. I don't know. I've always done it." So it's not morally uncomfortable. It just is. "The guy who sold them to me said they made me look twenty years younger. Why, are they working?"

"That depends, are you sixty?" Sylar says, flatly. Most people he comes across are either dismissed with glances that barely acknowledge their presence, or placed under scrutiny bordering on uncomfortable. Deckard is the lucky receiver of the latter, as if Sylar truly is trying to see through the dark glass and find what they're hiding on the other side. More than just normal eyes, presumably. "Abigail's God forgives a lot of things. You should probably have shot me when I blinked, you know." And he waves a hand. A pull of huge momentum wraps invisible chords around Deckard's gun with the intent to fling it aside.

"Ouch." Deckard can't help it. He almost smiles. Almost, as in, the corner of his mouth twitches upward and a pair of amused lines etch in over his brows. Then: badness.

Physical grabs are one thing to account for. Telekinetic interference is a major party foul first of all, and second of all, a lot harder to see coming. He has about a milisecond to turn his head away in suspicious anticipation of something. Then he's being dragged half a staggering step to the right, the fingers he had wrapped cold around the shotgun stock taking him along for enough of a ride to get him started for the partially shattered display window. Soon to be all the way shattered.

Deckard throws himself through it with little attention paid to the rip and slice of glass into his face and coat, one arm half lifted to block his eyes from the worst of it. Coated in glass dust and glittering enough to put even the most dashing of vampires to shame, he bolts. Not for the open street, but for the skyscraper's frozen corpse.

The crack and shatter of glass is deafening to Sylar's ears, but the thudding sounds of foot steps still breaks through the cacophony, and then quickly joined by his own as he eagerly gives chase. He doesn't reach out with telekinesis, he doesn't try to gather his focus enough to inject Deckard with psychic paralysis and go from there - instead, he lets his mind scatter in a billion different directions with that one surging connective urge of hunger than makes adrenaline pump and a breathless but somehow filling laughing bounce off ruined cement. He slips on broken glass, once, a stumble, palm smacking against the ground but not falling as he starts to pursue the older man through the ruins. But it's hard. And not all of us can see in the dark.

Clank. The crowbar is dropped. It rolls to a scraping metallic halt and lies still.

Deckard runs. Boy, does he ever. Long legs, long strides, no backwards glances past the initial scramble to regain balance. The doors are there, twenty feet ahead, ten, five. 'Doors' a term that only loosely applies, here, because there aren't actually any to open or close. Just a black pit that opens up into a black lobby, from which many black hallways and black rooms and black dead ends leach across many square feet. The ceiling sags in places and has caved in entirely in others. Where the structure of the remaining building has begun to buckle, halls lean at impossible angles and bare ragged edged iron and steel understructure to tear at the unwary passer by. The wind whistles and moans through missing windows overhead. The entire building creaks and groans under the pressure, loosing caked ash and dusty drywall into streams that skitter down through holes in the various levels of ruptured ceiling at particularly violent gusts. It's not a good place to be.

Skidding and scuffing into a directional change when he hits the lobby, ducks past the elevators and through the second doorway on the left. The path ahead is messy, but not unplottable. The fact that it's clearly visible helps.

The racket of heart beat and foot falls ahead of him isn't quite enough to drown out the sounds of death and decay of this building. It's a symphony in itself, and inside, where the only light that penetrates through the gaps of walls and windows is the ghost-like barely-there cast of light pollution that has no direction nor intent, the sound is consuming. The dust swirls invisibly and cakes itself over Sylar's form even as he runs after Deckard, stumbling blindly and with a wordless growl, it's suddenly very hot in here. The same sort of heat and light that once blasted this place to hell and to grace sudden springs in a small capacity forwards and around and in a dazzling moment, Sylar can see everything as fire-light flickers forth from reaching hands, erupting down the hallway and in a moment, it flickers away, and Deckard only has the darkness behind him. And of course, the sound of the chase.

It's getting hot in here. So take off all your clothes. The belch of fire at Deckard's heels would be enough to send another shock of adrenaline through his system by itself, but there's a complication. The radiative blast that goes with it blazes around him more brightly than natural light.

Fuck. Sweat and blood shining bright across temple against the lap of fire at the hallway behind him, Flint bounces blindly off the doorframe he was aiming for. Staggers. Tries again. The white heat fades, and he's running again, leaving a bloody handprint flat against the wall he heaves himself away from. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Duck through the doorway on the left, scramble over the small mountain of debris and ceiling tiles that obscures the floor, assemble the golden monkey.

Through the doorway, Sylar clips his shoulder against the frame as he goes, staggers blind in the dark, and follows some more at a loping run. Feet slide on tile and debris and fingers dig into it as he clambers over the hill. And he tumbles forward, the ground suddenly dipping until he can't do much but roll, hitting splintered ground hard— it cracks, but doesn't give under his weight. Deckard chose his escape route wisely - it's hazardous and impossible to see. At least he knows what he was chasing after, here in the dark. The chase is halted and out of splintered ground, he extracts the arm that had pushed itself through wood when he'd tried to catch himself. His coat sleeve begins to flood with blood, and carefully, blindly, he gets to his feet.

Deckard's lead is expanding. He can no longer hear footsteps behind him when he finally slows enough to glance over his shoulder, eyes wide and teeth bared ahead of the heavy rise and fall of his chest. Fingers scraping over the wall at his side, which creaks ominously at the contact, he looks up and hesitates long enough to listen. Nothing alive up there. A glance snapped over to where he was headed doesn't turn over anything suspicious there, either. Coated in an interesting mix of plaster, glass, blood and ash, he wheezes, performs one more urgent look around, and takes off again, leaving Sylar to his fate.

Two men in a broken down building and neither sure where the other is. One because he ran like the hounds of Hades were on his heels, and the other because he simply can't see. Sylar clasps his arm tightly and shuts his eyes, listening. Somewhere through the ruined walls, he can hear the heart beat pumping life, blood and adrenaline through Deckard's body, the rasping intake of breathing, and the blunter sounds of footsteps. The energy of the mad dash fades fast, and alone in the hallway, or room, or whatever this is, Sylar gives a sound almost animalistic, a frustrated and low growl. He shouldn't have done that. He didn't have to do that.

For quite a long time, Sylar simply stands in the dark, having edged and felt his way towards the nearest wall, before finally, he braves the journey back. Deckard is left to his own devices, as really, someone like him probably should be.

Eventually, there's a fire exit. Eventually. Deckard levers it open and stumbles out into the cold at the building's rear, boots barely managing to find purchase against slick asphalt. Speed is exchanged for what he considers to be stealth, and what the muscles in his legs consider to be a much needed break. He runs, but at a loftier pace. Across the back lot, into the narrow space between two other barely standing buildings. His pulse slows by necessity more than any real desire to calm down, further and further away, until he slows to a dragging walk for the rest of the journey out of Midtown. Grey snow crunches underfoot, damp papers flop wetly over the sidewalk. The wind howls. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

January 8th: Something Sinister
January 8th: Our Own Fate
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