Death Like Cigarettes


cat_icon.gif doyle_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif gillian2_icon.gif niles_icon.gif f_niles_icon.gif

Scene Title Death Like Cigarettes
Synopsis Cat, Liz and Gillian come together to take down one Niles Wight and save the other.
Date June 28, 2009

Cavalry Cemetery

It's really a guess when it all comes down to it. Niles told them when he was planning to go to his stepfather's grave, but there's no guarantee that his older self will show. Prophecies are tricky things. Given the unstable condition of the older replicator and his goal of killing off his younger self, well, it's an opportunity that can't be passed up.

It's the anniversary of Eric Willard's death today. With his newly repaired mind, Niles the younger has been acutely feeling the guilt of that unfortunate, power-induced manslaughter. Dusk seems an appropriate time to make the trek.

Willard's limestone monument is tucked into the southwest corner of Cavalry Cemetery, among other, older monuments. It's precisely as it was in Cat's dream - polished limestone with chiseled dates.

Niles has been growing more nervous by the day. Tests for capturing his power have been successful and lead to a nightmare-inducing episode when his replicant was captured by the device they rigged up. He was pushed into a temporary coma, until they released the charge on the battery that held a little chunk of himself. The young man hasn't done a lot of talking since that test.

The trap is arranged, items for it are in place and concealed, at least from view. Hopefully their distraction efforts work as well, to prevent Niles Senior sensing them until the time comes, if it comes. Cat has the cemetery plotted out for the approximate positions of people in the vision she was given, and let Niles Junior know where he should stand. "It shouldn't be long now, if he's coming today at all," she remarks under her breath.

The dark sky is covered over with thick clouds, the smell of impending rain threatening the summer New York air. The humidity is up— nothing completely out of place in the city in summer, but perhaps a little worse looking than the weather had been calling for the evening. Prediction of weather has never been a fine science, especially when someone absorbed an ability to manipulate it, and managed to get a decent grasp over it in the last month. It'd rained a little while ago, too, leaving collections of puddles in various places in the cemetery, as well as muddy grass in others.

Gillian kneels a few stones away, as if mourning another person in the graveyard. Dark colors befit someone in mourning, and the hood over her hair and hanging into her face could over some obscurity. Niles may have been right, but if he's doing what the vision made it look like he was doing— he's no longer right in her book.

The granite steps of a mausoleum support the shattered ends of a chain, and the lock that once held them closed; rusted metal broken under the pressure of a crow bar. The iron gate that leads into that place of the dead's resting is draped on the other side by a curtain that looks just a little more modern than the rest of the tomb. It keeps out the cold. As there's noise, activity in the cemetery, the edge of the curtain is pulled back a bit - and someone peeks out from the dimly-lit shadows within.

When there's nowhere left to hide amongst the living, there's always the dead's embrace to hide in. There aren't many people in the city and state of New York that might be desperate enough to lay so low as that. One of them is named Eric Doyle.

Could this be called betraying yourself? Niles may not be the most highly educated young man, but having a time travelling duplicate does bring up existential questions. The young man is wearing a thin jacket to protect against the damp, dark colours, with a bouquet of flowers in his hand. They're the supermarket variety, look like they only cost a few dollars and are a bit droopy - but the sentiment is there.

This may be the most difficult day of his life - more difficult than any of the forty days or so that the Company had him locked away, more difficult than the day where he actually killed Eric Willard, or found his school in ruins and manifested his ability. Today, he has to ask for forgiveness and try to stop a monstrous version of himself.

He glances towards Cat and Gillian's positions, then moves slowly towards Eric's tombstone. He stops a few feet from it and stares down at it, fingers flexing against the stems of the flowers.

Somewhere, just out of Gillian's line of vision, a shimmering blue shape appears, but only for a second.

She, also in dark clothing, watches the younger Niles as he moves toward the tombstone. Her eyes are on it and him. Cat is silent, alert, waiting for the older one to make his appearance and moves. All is in place, she expects and hopes it'll go off without a hitch.

Elisabeth is keeping out of sight, here only to protect young Niles from older Niles. She promised the older version that she would change the course of the younger's life. And she's near enough to step out and be seen — truth be told, near enough to step out and get into a lot of trouble. But the boy is worth that. He is a good kid.

There's a moment where Gillian self-consciously tries to tug her sleeve up, as if to check a watch, but nothing but skin there. Her jaw tightens and she lets the sleeve drop back down, reaching out to feel the sky again. Rain could fall in a moment's notice, but not yet.

There's nothing particularly suspicious to be seen from the mausoleum that Doyle's lurking in; some kid in dark clothing with flowers going to a grave, that's about normal. The middle-aged puppeteer leans against the edge of the stone archway leading into the tomb, just observing the drab day through the slightly-parted curtain, face long and lips turned down heavily at the corners.

The other Niles - the one that doesn't belong here - is having a similar moral conundrum. But instead of the subject of betrayal, he's turning over whether or not this counts as suicide.

Nosce te ipsum - know thyself. And Niles knows Niles. He knows today is significant, because at this point in his own timeline, he was locked up in Moab, his powers repressed, no trial, no future. All because of one power hiccup, one impulse he couldn't control.

If his mind wasn't so fractured by repeated use of his power, he might be more cautious, especially given his depleted collection of allies.

He spots his younger self, inhales from a cigarette, then moves towards the grave of Eric Willard. He stops short of any trap - but that doesn't really matter. The trap would do nothing to his physical form. They need a replicant.


It's a little terrifying to hear your name said in your own voice, but your lips remain closed. The young man startles and turns suddenly, a halo of blue appearing. He stares at his older self. His hair is loose, floppy banged and somewhat frizzy from the damp in the air. His counterpart's is slicked back, his face spotted with stubble.

"I think it's time for us to go," says his older self, though no threatening move is made yet.

It isn't time yet, there's no replicant in view. Cat, alert and becoming more so, observes the approach, hears the words, and simply nods once. A silent signal to those also observing that the time is close at hand. Both versions of Niles Wight are present. It briefly occurs to her she could shoot the older Niles, but that strategy is not taken. Cat got enough of the consequences of that at Moab, from the electromagnetic member of the security team she faced.

Elisabeth steps out into view now and says just as quietly, "Niles? What are you doing here?" As if she doesn't already know … but hey. In theory, she should be with the boy, if she's doing the job that was asked of her. So she runs a little interference. The thing that troubles her most is the part not seen — whether their struggle could be avoided. "You asked me to help him… I'm doing that," she coaxes. "Let me go ahead and get him out of here, okay? Let me finish what you asked me to do." Yeah, yeah, he's a complete psycho, but hey…. you never know. Look what happened to Cassidy and her psycho!

With one woman speaking first Gillian just glances over, as if she doesn't want anything to do with the situation. It's a ruse, but one she's going to play up from where she is. She's just a mourner who wants no trouble. And a sprinkle of rain distracting rain starts to fall. A drizzle at first. The sky looked ready for it.

Speaking of psychos… well, at the moment, Eric's more depressed than actually acting psychotic, but who knows! That could change at any moment. A hand appears from beneath the edge of the half-drawn curtain with the shiny wrapper of a granola bar in hand, peeling it back from the tasty treat and taking a bite thereof. Chew, chew. Oh, look, graveyard drama.

It's a very noble goal that Elisabeth has - to save the madman, to save the child. The problem is, the older Niles' condition is degenerative. In many ways, he is not the same man who came into her home. He's worse than that. Considering the surprise he left her next door, well, that's a fairly terrifying thought.

"If it isn't the good detective. How interesting. Are you playing chaperone?" He barely looks over his shoulder at her

Those at a distance will note a series of blue flashes quickly approaching Elisabeth. "I'm afraid I don't have time to chit-chat with you. I need to talk to…me." He flashes a toothy grin, and in the same instant, a blue shape looms over Elisabeth's shoulder.

Young Niles stares at his older version, eyes as big as saucers. He grips the bouquet of flowers tightly in his hand. "You've come to kill me, haven't you?" he asks, his voice surprisingly dull. The rain starts to fall, starts to tap against his head. It's a highly disconcerting thing to look into a pair of familiar eyes and see madness there.

"We need to be destroyed, Niles. You will very shortly begin to feel as I do. The only reason I didn't go mad much younger was because of prison. Because of the…drugs. I had held out hope that you could be redeemed. But frankly, I don't have great confidence in these people, nor do I know if we can be saved." The replicant by Elisabeth twitches. "You have…no idea how much I would love to fry her heart in her chest." His lower lip quivers ever so slightly and a smile, a smile of true pleasure pulls up on his lips. "It's like an addiction. Like nicotine. Death like cigarettes."

The sprinkle of rain increases, almost as if the sky opened up to bring down much more than a drizzle. The rain isn't quite falling in sheets, but even the wind picks up to control the direction, the flow. It could even be the sky itself is hearing the threats. The person at the nearby gravestone straightens, perhaps out of fear of what she can overhear, but when she turns around to glance back at them again, Gillian's face is very briefly visible under the hood as she looks at the other man. And she's not happy, if the narrowing of her eyes is any indication.

The rain is falling, and more steadily now as Niles faces off with Elisabeth and the younger Niles. Cat still listens and watches, surprise and some concern showing on her features. There's a replicant. Why hasn't the trap gone into effect already? Move closer, Niles Elder, move closer, step into range. This has to work.

The replicant popping up right near her makes Liz jump. She can't help it! The last time he touched her, she was unconscious. And it was unpleasant! She moves several steps forward, toward the younger Niles, and says softly, "But he has been helped. They've healed some of what's wrong with you, Niles — the rest will come. Maybe, if you let them, even to you." Draw him in… she herself has to move within the trap radius, maybe the replicant will move with her… and maybe not. But she tries.

At the flash of electric blue in the air, the teeth grinding into granola pause in mid-chew, the eyes a bit higher on Doyle's face widening subtly at sight. Slowly, he finishes the bite, grinds it up between his jaws and swallows. "Well, that isn't something you see every day," he mutters under his breath, fingers curling to the iron gate to push it open a little— an iron rasp that shrieks with lack of oiling, and he stops pushing it with a wince before he draws everyone's attention. "Damn." WD40, Eric. Look into it.

The sudden attentions of Gillian and the downpour of rain makes something click in the fractured older Niles' mind. He narrows his eyes at his younger self and spits out, "You little bastard." As if not wanting to be killed by his older self was some kind of great betrayal.

There is a spark of electricity around him, fizzled and slowed by the rain as two, then three replicants disengate from his body. One moves immediately for Gillian, aiming to slide through her body with a jolt of electricity meant to overwhelm her body.

"No!" calls out the younger Niles as he sees the spectres disengaging from his future self. He takes a deep breath and pulls out his own miniature army. How does a replicant fight a replicant? Well, they're about to find out. One of the younger Niles' aura shape dives at the one by Elisabeth that was preparing to fry the cop. When the two replicants meet, there is a sudden flash of light and a concussive force strong enough to knock Liz on her ass and leave her skin tingling with residual electrical current.

It's like two positive charges meeting, and in the moment it does, both future and past Niles Wights grab their heads in pain and nearly drop to the ground. The other remaining replicants mirror that posture of pain, including the one that was preparing to shock Gillian.

Niles Senior might know he's been ambushed, but the rain has dulled his receptive sense enough that he has no idea that one of his replicant sentries is only about three feet from the conductive rod that leads into a battery. The problem is, with the rain, it's difficult to tell which Niles that duplicate belongs to.

The rain may be causing problems, but Gillian's glad for the replicant that saves Elisabeth. She takes a large step back, almost sliding in the mud that her own rain is making, and looks relieved at the posture of pain in the one about to shock her. Regeneration may be one of the large swiss army knife of powers she's picked up, thanks to Papa Assface, but electrocution isn't on her list of things to do again before she's twenty-five (or ever). "Niles! You wanted to live a life of freedom for him. Why else did you bother to come back here?" Death might be better than captivity, but it certainly isn't freedom. "You wanted to make movies! He hasn't forgotten about that."

She starts moving when Elisabeth is knocked off her feet with the fray beginning, headed for that spot with the intention of helping her move clear of the conflict, to not be a stunned and prone sitting duck for another attack from Niles Elder. Cat doesn't look at the rod to avoid giving away its presence, her aim is simply to help the detective get past it. If this also draws the replicant to follow and become entrapped, that's a bonus she'll gladly take. She's unspokenly grateful for Gillian's distraction.

Oh… dear GOD… that's gonna hurt. One moment, Elisabeth is walking toward young Niles, the next moment she's in the middle of freakin' electrical replicants *every-fucking-where*! And the moment after that, she is flat on her denim-clad behind in the mud, staring up into the falling rain, wondering what the hell just happened. And she's got little zaps and tingles racing across her skin whole body. Sonuvabitch!! She just lays there, struggling to catch her breath for a long moment. And then… oh yeah… let's try to get up and goad the bastard to step into the trap. "Niles, you fucker!" she calls as she gets to her feet with one arm around Cat. "You wanna piece of me, you get your lazy ass over here and get yourself!" And then oh yes, she's hauling butt toward the rod with Cat — yes, goading the electrical person might be a bad plan!

A deep breath's taken in, compressing Doyle's chest slightly, that stained shirt he's wearing drooping just a little bit. The heavy-set puppeteer squeezes through the half-opened gate with a muffled grunt of discomfort, finally relaxing with a heavy expulsion of breath on the other side. As the rain crashes down through the air, he brings a hand up to protect his face from the spray, his high brow furrowed as he watches the fight - or ambush, or whatever it is - with bemused consideration. He could intervene, of course, but he has no idea who any of these people are. And he's not the heroic sort, really, to make a dramatic entrance.

The rain levels the playing field somewhat, but goading electrical replicants that could fry your heart is not the best move in the world. Fortunately for, well, everyone, that jolt gave both Niles a substantial headache and eliminated a pair of replicants. But young Niles has the upper hand. He only had three dupes out when their replicants collided, so it takes him less time to recover.

The young Niles fights to see through the driving rain and through the sudden and painful headache throbbing his skull. He looks to Gillian, then to his older self who still clutches his head in pain. And then, he does something fairly odd. He punches his senior version. And again. And again. Somewhere a schoolyard bully is chanting, stop hitting yourself. The problem is, his senior self, though incapacitated, has ten years of prison muscle on him.

Niles Senior raises his head, bloody nose already thinning due to the rain that smacks against his face. He hauls back and punches himself with enough skill and force to send the twenty one year old spinning and sprawling in the mud, right atop Eric Willard's grave. His younger self starts to pull himself up, ready to fight again. But his senior self holds up a hand and directs a pair of duplicates towards Cat and Liz, ready to fry them. The one to the left of Cat is only inches from the range of the rod. "Don't you see? We have to be stopped. You will kill so many and you will like it. Then you will love it, then you will not be able to contain yourself. Six murderous voices crying out for blood, for the scent of burt flesh. Not even that. For the tactile sensation of a knife in a gullet. Do you want to be me, Niles? Do you want to be a monster, or caged for life? Those are your only choices."

He surges forward again, to grab hold of his younger self's collar, to haul him to his feet. "I suggest you stay back, ladies. The rain puts me in a foul mood."

The rain continues to fall, even a bit of wind picking up to rustle what trees scatter the cemetary. A particularly strong gust bares down on the two of them, the ones in physical form, in a strange attempt to seperate them, toss the older one backwards, if possible. Not just that gust, either, but another, less forceful, moves to push against Elisabeth, an attempt to get her further away without quite throwing her, but it may not work out— keeping up weather is easier than trying to switch to another ability right now— especially since she's not sure she can get it back. Knowing where the trap is, and hoping that it goes there, the same gust does not try to push Cat out of the way.

She lets go of Elisabeth as the wind comes, feeling it tug on her. Cat knows this trick; she's seen it used to knock Peter out before he could go nuclear again, and another time to blow a hand grenade back at the Vanguard operative who tossed it at Helena. The detective is even given a push to help the separation.

Then Cat, advancing back to a spot just the other side of the rod and keeping it between her and the replicants, laughs at the electrical copies. "I'm right here. Come get me!" Her distance is such that they can't get close to her, or send current her way, without meeting the trap first.

The wind shoves the two Nileses apart. The younger falls back and hits his shoulder on the edge of Eric Willard's grave marker. The elder stumbles backwards and fights to hold his footing. "I am not a monster!" cries out the younger of the two. He summons his reserves of strength and sends a duplicate towards his other self.

Like the replicants meeting, this produces a strange result. The replicant enters his senior self, but…doesn't seem to want to come back out again. Niles stares at his older self who seems to be frozen on the spot. Two identical, unblinking sets of eyes stare into one another. Something is very wrong here.

Even though the perception of Niles Senior is frozen, his duplicates still function. Elizabeth gets a jolt that drops her to the ground, then the duplicate goes surging towards Cat.

And stops short.

A shape of a foot hits a grounding rod. A shower of sparks rise up and electricity arcs between the hidden rods. There is a singing scent of charged ions, and the duplicate suddenly loses coherancy, becomes light and then shoots down into the rod, along the wiring and into the cells of a car battery.

The elder Niles folds, knees giving way beneath him as he drops bodily to the ground, splashing in a murky mud puddle. The other duplicates remain, but they double over and cry in agony.

Younger Niles is bent, hands planted against the ground, clothing soaked through.

"Fuck!" Gillian swears as one person who can't heal is zapped— there's no sign of major smoking or turning black of her skin, so she'll hope the woman will be able to get back up afterwards. The sight of the two Niles fighting, the replicant plunging into the wrong one— and not coming back out. Also worthy of a curse, that. A replicant falls into the trap. Things went as planned. Though never as clean as plans often look when their made.

The rain goes down some, but doesn't end, the wind settles, and instead of moving away more, the former librarian begins to run closer to where the two of them fell, sloshing in the mud as she calls out, "Niles!" A glance over at Elisabeth also wants to check on her, too, but for now, she's getting closer to Niles. Both of them.

Time is of the essence. Cat, having been aware they'd be messing with current, came prepared. She has gloves of the kind used by electrical workers. These are quickly placed on her hands, and once they're in place she grabs the rod which trapped one replicant. It's thrown at the other, the one not so far away, her intent to strike it and trigger a second capture which should give time to deal with the third.

As it hurtles toward the target, a piece of irony crosses Cat's mind. Attorneys usually work against entrapments. But then again she's really a rocker chick who just happens to be a panmnesiac Juris Doctor.

"Well, will you look at that," Doyle drawls under his breath, squinting through the rain at the light show of arcing lightning and sizzling sparks in the rain as a bitter smile curls itself across his lips, "And it isn't even the fourth've July just yet." The realization that the aftermath of all of this certainly means he's going to need to find a new hidey-hole strikes, then, the smile fading. He brushes some water from his brow, and calls out almost hopefully, "Don't suppose anyone over there needs a hand?"

The replicants aren't much of a threat, now that elder Niles' actual body is comatose. So Cat's toss with the rod entraps another and causes a shout of pain from the one remaining. The shape of the last duplicate doubles over, arms clutched around its silhouette. Between the rain and the entrapment, the pain is intense, yet somehow it manages to move back to the downed body of its own accord and sink back into the unconscious form.

As for young Niles, he's concious but not moving. He seems bent in a prayer position, body coated in mud. He is either unable or unwilling to straighten. Even over the rain, Gillian can hear the sound of his low, ragged breathing.

"Fuck," Gillian repeats the curse, even as she glances up at the voice. Fourth of July it is not. The man isn't recognized, but she looks startled at his appearance. In a normal situation, people would call for an ambulance. This is not a normal situation. Hands touch the bent over younger Niles, while she glances at the other one in a coma, then at Elisabeth. "Unless you think you'd like to carry people…" That's about the only manner of help she can think of. Recognizing the puppeteer? Not her. "He's not sounding too good," she admits to Cat, though she's not entirely sure. He might be better than than the older one. "Is she okay?"

Starting to stir, Elisabeth groans a few times and tries to stand, only to sink back into a sitting position. "Ow," she complains. "I will be," she offers a bit more loudly. "Eventually." While the detective isn't much for taking part anymore, she'll at least be able to make it home under her own steam.

Cat glances back that way, looking the woman over briefly, before reporting to Gillian. "She's getting there." Then her focus goes to the Niles versions. "We'll need to take the other one somewhere. Try to look into the eyes of the conscious one, see if they follow a finger moved in front of him or if he's unresponsive. Might just be the mental shock of what just happened. Check his pulse too." Doyle is noticed, but not spoken to. She hasn't anything to add to what Gillian told him.

Oh, there's people that need to be moved? How serendipitous, that happens to be Doyle's speciality! At the suggestion, he actually perks up a bit in the shadow of the rain, trundling down the mausoleum's steps on old shoes that look like he'd picked them up off a bum. Which he probably did. A bit off, he'll be a few moments before he's near enough to be really part of the whole situation, especially with the grave-dirt all muddy and unpleasant to slog through.

Young Niles suddenly twitches and reaches out. His hand folds tightly around Gillian's wrist. He squeezes, tightly enough to hurt. The other hand goes up and grabs the side of her neck, thumb pressing against her esophagus. It's threatening, but more desperate than intended to hurt.

He looks her in the eye, but there's something…not all there, like he can't reallly see her. His whole body starts to quiver and he draws in ragged breaths. "You…h…have to k-kkill…trapped. Not…" Then he can't keep his head up any longer. His hands go slack and he drops to the mud. His body convulses and he fights to keep conscious.

The dark haired woman looks startled at the hand, still damp in rain. There's even a mild crackle of thunder in the sky above, fitting in nicely with the rain, and the mood. She might have been relieved to see Elisabeth okay, but it's what the young man says that surprises her. "Niles! Fuck, what do you— Cat— Something's wrong. Maybe the one that went into the other one…" Days ago he'd not wanted to help kill himself, he'd asked them to trap him, to find Deckard, to fix the future him. If they release him from the battery, the man will just go on his rampage again… "We have to kill him," she finally says, well aware there's a bystander standing right over there who could try to identify them.

She has to hope Doyle didn't hear what Gillian just said. Cat doesn't glance his way as she moves over to the downed Niles senior and looks over the body. She places two fingers to the side of his neck as if to check for a pulse and watches his chest as if she's checking for breath, then she taps at his face like she's trying to wake him up. "He's not breathing," Cat replies grimly. Her next move is to tilt his head as if opening an airway to give rescue breathing, but the angle of it is done subtly wrong. She places fingers over his nostrils and closes that off, then uses the apparent attempt at breathing for him to deny him air by mouth too.

Oh, they haven't decided whether or not they're killing these guys, apparently. Well, Doyle certainly can't move corpses! A foot's pulled out of the sticky mud with a grunt, and he leans himself against a headstone, watching the various interactions with a bemused sort of expression, brow furrowed into deep lines.

Niles is perceiving reality like a house of mirrors. Part of his brain, the part that's perceiving the duplicate trapped inside his older body, feels comatose and sluggish, interrupted by spikes of searing pain fed by the captured pair. He also senses the one remaining older Niles duplicate that stands stock still nearby, vacant and unable to move. On top of that, the rain creates a curtain of static that makes focus nearly impossible. That plus the dull, throbbing ache of where a prison-hardened fist swept across his face means that he can barely focus enough to sit upright, let alone think or percieve.

His vision is tunneled, his breath still ragged and pained sounding. It gets worse with each inhale.

The prone form of Niles Senior offers Cat no resistance. And contrary to her report, he is breathing, and he does have a fairly steady pulse. But, not for long. There are moments when the unconscious older Niles tries to breathe, but given how his conscious mind is locked away with the replicants, he can't respond other than to try and gasp through Cat's seal. She's almost literally kissing him to death.

It isn't long before Cat's lies become truth, and then last remaining replicant fizzles out into nothing.

From young Niles' position, there is a long sigh of relief. He flops sideways into the mud and draws in slow, shaky breaths. He looks about ready to lose consciousness, but not doubled over in pain as he was a moment ago.

There is a strange sort of poetry in Niles Wight dying where his first victim is lies. Perhaps one version of him will be reborn here as well.

A death on the grave of a buried crime. Poetic in a way. Gillian had said it fairly loud, but with Niles convulsing at her feet, she'd not been thinking of the ramifications beyond what they'd have to do to maybe save him. At first, she's looking at Cat in a 'what are you doing???' way— not breathing? She could've sworn he — oh. It's when she gets it that she settles down, kneels back beside the younger. Only when the replicant fizzles out, and the man she sits next to stops convulsing does she reach out and touch him again. "Fuck— you're going to be okay, just hang in there."

They're probably going to need to carry him, but the storm above them dissipates, the thunder stopping, the rain settling to a sprinkle, and then going out as well. The clouds will take longer to roll away, but… it's over.

If not how they'd planned at all.

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