Do You Know The Muffin Man?


danko3_icon.gif sylar_icon.gif

Scene Title Do You Know The Muffin Man?
Synopsis Danko's door stays locked, but it never stays closed. And even then—
Date March 19, 2010

Danko's Apartment

+ chair

The average man spends six months of his life in the bathroom region of his dwelling "getting ready." Showering, shaving, sanding down rough edges and clipping stray hairs. Given his particular disposition and characteristic care for neatness, it could probably be safely assumed that Danko's on the lengthier end of average, if not in excess of it entirely.

He's been in the shower for some twenty minutes, now, eyes squeezed shut and the arch of his skull tipped hard aside to the tiled wall while too-hot water does its thing. It pummels wiry muscle and knotted scar tissue and colorless burr and old military tattoos with the same steamy indifference as always, vapor billowing in sluggish drifts to blanket bleary across the mirror and a towel bar of stainless steel.

He should get out. Put on some clothes. Try to sleep. But the lurching push of nausea at the base of his throat has only just begun to fade, and in another ten minutes he might be able to pass out without having to get up again.

The front door is locked, for all that the one leading into the bathroom is open.

It's always locked.

It just never seems to stay closed.

Above Emile, lights blink. In the oversaturated little den of his bathroom, it's more obvious than it should be, the glow off tile and glass fading out and then wavering back into being. In this weather, it's expected. Notably, his front door remains locked. Remains closed. How effective this is remains to be seen, especially when the soft touch of foot steps creep in at a feather-light frequency on the very, very edges of Danko's hearing — something a less paranoid, less knowledgable man might dismiss.

The dry crackle of static is less missable, the squeal of a dial as a radio searches for music, and then finally, some tunes. Stevie Wonder is a muffled presence under the sound of water— "— once in my life, I have someone who needs me~"— and remains that way.

Like a crocodile eye greasing open through a glistening patina of ancient rivermud and wildebeast shit, one of Danko's grey irises slicks exposed and narrows into focus through the fog, soon to be followed by the other. Hot water seethes in uneven streams off the blunt of his chin and down his neck; rattles and hisses in his ears, and all he can hear is Stevie Wonder singing about something he knows won't desert him.

Outside of the bathroom, water rushes on through the pipes routed overhead unabated. Inside, Emile roughs a towel across his shoulders, pulls a shirt sticky and black over his head and reaches for his gun all nearly in the same movement. It's not so hard to pull on a pair of pants with one hand occupied, if you know what you're doing.

Burr flattened damp and grey to his distinctive skull, eyes bright as dimes in their dim hollows, he shrugs into his robe last of all. And only THEN does he creep quiter than the soul who stepped there before him for the living room. He knows where the creaky boards are.

Danko will see him before he gets seen. Fate has it that the broad shoulders of Avi Epstein are angled away, flat of his back for the soldier's viewing pleasure and the hook of distinctive sunglasses— inside— detectable behind the fleshy shell of his ears. Brown leather is scuffed over years of being worn, wool-lined collar popped, boots having made damp prints through carpet, and he's currently—

Studying the speakers, hand on the tuning dial but for now has deemed the mellow soul tunes to be appropriate. He's also listening to the water in the pipes, and there's the slightest wiggle in his spine in a kind of grooving motion in response to the former. It's all very normal, excepting the fact Aviators got in here without a sound and is now listening to Danko's radio.

Were Danko's ears capable of complex motion, odds are they'd be pinned flat against his skull. As things are, they share the same still, cadaverous sheen of moisture that makes him look even more like some kind of light-deprived troglodyte than usual. Resilient water stains his black shirt blacker across the chest and down his midline. Adds a faintly sticky tack under the otherwise silent footfalls while he sizes up turned back and dark leather, .45 trained first between the younger man's shoulderblades.

Aviators is hard to mistake, even from behind.

Also hard to mistake are the implications of pointing a gun at someone's turned back while they fiddle with a radio that Does Not Belong To Them because they shouldn't be here because the door never opened and an uneasy, near skittish glance sideways determines that even the bolt is still locked fast.

No hole sawed in the ceiling with a telling black rope hanging through it either. The windows are all shut against the cold outside, and really, there's no where to go if you wanted to get out in a hurry, and even less ways to get in even if you weren't. The dial twists again, into— "— with a gun over there, tellin' me I got to beware. I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound, everybody look what's goin' down."

"That would be a neat power, wouldn't it?" The sudden presence of Aviators' voice is jarring in comparison to the tinny static of Jefferson Airplane, and his hands go up, raised, fingers splayed. "Appropriate background music with a blink of an eye. I guess you wouldn't think so, huh? Emile?"

He's turning, slowly, an easy twist to his mouth in half a smirk. He's the calm to Danko's skittish, if not without tension.

No response, visceral, outward or otherwise. Danko's brows eventually twitch down into a suspicious knit — it takes time to rule out all possibilities other than the most inevitable of them — and he stiffens his hold on the gun as if reassured that he made the right decision to point it at the start. Cold water runs in thin lines down the back of his stringy neck. His shirt clings to his jackrabbit frame. The sullen black of his bathrobe hangs open. And the shower rushes on, wasting water the way it looks like Emile might be ready to waste some bullets if the speed with which he tags the hammer back is any indication.

"You better have one hell've a punchline if you aren't expecting me to make one of my own." It might sound like boom if so.

Aviators considers that for a short amount of time, reedy music beating against his back, and he lowers his hands, slowly, the kind you do with wild animals, or at least, underfed ones. It's about then that his clothes begin to melt, as well as his hair, his skin, the bulk of his body, all dribbling like candlewax down and down without actually gathering into a pool of interchangeable liquid material, as it seems to disappear beneath his feet.

The glasses stay, sliding down the younger man's nose— a good deal younger, actually, than he was before, and penny-slices of brown eyes peer at Danko over the mirrored rims, seriously thick brows furrowed a little, and his halved-smile remains. The smell of blood, now, is suddenly pungent, as if it had always been there instead of the mild cologne that Epstein might wear.

Sylar's hands make a motion, when the change begins. Lax air drums. "Badum-chh."

BLAM BLAM is approximately the sound Danko's gun makes when fired twice just after the changes have begun. BLAM BLAM BLAM is the sound it makes when he fires it three more times through the process, aim veered from sternum to skull and back again without so much as a conscious second's doubt spent on placement.

Spent casings tumble out in a rapidfire shimmer of brass against wood around his bare feet, hollow metal tinkling merrily in its erratic skim and roll past his toes while smoldering chordite adds its acrid stink to the earthier steam of warm blood and death. Each stench familiar as the next.

Keenly aware that Sylar's still standing to make cymbals crash once the transformation is complete, Danko lets uncertainty twist irritably through his browline over a rankle at his nose before replying with one last BLAM, clink and jangle. The bullet zips between Sylar's eyes like an afterthought, more sound than sensation.

"You done?" Eyes blink rapidly, and Sylar opens to pop his jaw as if his head was ringing from the sound of a bullet passing through his skull. An explosion of noise if not blood, bone and grey matter.

Still standing, talking, walking forward a couple of steps as Sylar brings his hands up to steer off his sunglasses, and if it's any consolation— he looks like a dead man in ways that don't involve Danko's gun. His skin is sapped of colour, made more obvious by the black contrast of hair and the graze of stubble over his neck and jaw, hair as uncombed as he is unshaven. Unlike Danko, he probably hasn't had a shower recently, and rosy bruises mark along the curve of an eyesocket.

But in good spirits, apparently. He sniffs, turns the glasses between his hands — they'd been spared getting destroyed too, but glint off the light in the room even if bullets couldn't even do them harm. There's no music anymore. Someone needs a new radio. "I thought I might clear the air, let us get to know one another properly, before I offer another hoop to jump through."

This is a lot for a single terrorist to take in at once.

Step by step, like a slinky turning silver end over end on its way down a very long and cold set of stairs, one realization turns into another. Each more terrible than the last.

And still, the fact that the gun doesn't seem to be working manages to be his most pressing concern. Granted, when the immediate situation is that you have Sylar standing in your living room, there is cause to prioritize.

No actual ground given in the wide brace of his feet, he swaps gun from right hand to left to free up the former enough to reach for a nearby shelf. On it is a book. A hardback edition of The Road that has enough heft to it that he can fling it at the brain eater on his stoop with a fair amount of force once he's had a wild-eyed second or two to judge the distance.

Sylar's nose wrinkles with a show— certainly a show— of discomfort as the book sails on through his body and lands heavy somewhere behind him. "We could do this all night," he says, closing up his glasses and sheathing them in his pocket, strolling forward another step, his tall frame only getting taller by proximity. Sweat, dirt, blood only get stronger, and maybe the undercurrent of infection, too. "But the fact of the matter is—

"I'm not going to let you do what you did to me in Antarctica, again. Not to me. Fool me once…"

If hatred's a smell, it smells a lot like fresh sweat and Old Spice. Left only with the options of standing his ground and scrambling like a little bitch to get the door open so he can do a kermit run down the hallway of his building, Danko goes with the former, as is probably to be expected.

His own wear and tear appears to be more office-related at first glance. He's tired and pale, sunken eyes bruised purple through the sockets by sleeplessness and unfiltered strain. The same stuff that knots at the muscles corded lean up his forearms and in his chest, where black cotton clings close to ribs to mark the ragged rate of his respiration. But all wounds — including those earned during and since Antarctica — have had time to heal, and he retains some measure of unlikely confidence even as Sylar steps closer, like he anticipates that his bare knuckles will come through for him where lead and literature has thus far failed.

Gun still in hand, held at ready should evidence of tangibility present itself even for a split second, he watches with pupils black as a white shark's and nearly as endearing, brow skewed and jaw slacked open into uncertainty when it isn't clenched behind bared teeth. The shower rushes on.

"You stink."

"Sorry." He doesn't sound very sorry, a rusty kind of snicker repressed somewhere in his nasal passages, and Sylar brings a hand up to rub his palm across his face, easing over the greasy sheen of sweat present there, mingled as it is with the dirt of being moderately homeless for however long. "But on the plus side," and he leans forward, at the waist, his eyes wide in their sockets, eyelashes flared with a degree of innocence and amber-brown irises sitting in white made wide around them from a degree of wildness simmering jjjust beneath the surface, "I don't want to kill you."

Smoothing a hand down his front, as if to distribute the moist grossness of his face down onto layers of black wool, Sylar paces away, the edge of his coat— brushing through the corner of nearby furniture, such details Danko is doubtlessly tracking and waiting to give. "Because you would be so dead. So dead. Hey, I have a job for you. Would you like to kill Sylar?" He swivels back around to face Danko, the sway of his gait uneven, lilting.

Drunk on sickness, maybe. "I mean the real one. Not me. Me? I'm just a fake copy. I'm nothing you need to worry about. He has this cloning power, made me to play people like you, and I'm done playing. I don't expect an answer right away, although I kind of have a feeling about what the default is. You wasted six bullets answering it already."

Danko's as clean as he is moist, so he has that going for him. Even if he is in his pajamas, already waxen complexion taken on a clammy sheen in low lighting broken up between a few lamps and the encroach of Greenwich in polluted brown bands through near-closed blinds. He hadn't actually finished showering to his satisfaction before this happened, either.

Silvery eyes lock against brown to the hilt, riposte at first taking the form of a seventh (much delayed) BLAM when Sylar swivels back around and for a second it seems like that long coat might have caught on couch leather. He's wrong, of course, and has a new hole in his wall and still another casing plink-plink-rattling across the rug for all that he would've preferred a bloodstain.

"Bullshit," s'what he says once the shrill ringing in his ears has died down a dial turn, grey glare unblinking lest he miss a lightning bolt come flying at his head or hail or fire or God only knows what else. "You're just looking to thin out the competition." Apparently, the fact that there are multiple Sylars running around doesn't even remotely trigger incredulousness, but the idea of one of them turning coat on the others because he's tired of playing co-op mode does.

A claggy swallow and a scuff of robe sleeve up under his nose later, Danko sidesteps away from his shelf to give himself a cleaner shot (should he for some reason feel compelled to take still another) and to look ~Gabe~ over more closely. The state of him, in addition to the smell. Chilly contempt fits his face just about right.

"What do you care?" A knife's edge of tension in his voice, grizzled chin lifting. Sylar hadn't even blinked that last time a bullet soared through him, but perhaps less inclined to play. Less inclined to stick around. Old bandages beneath clothes, probably, but it doesn't seem like it hurts him to move, either, no heed paid to whatever artwork of damage might lie beneath his clothing and stiff-dried gauze. "He has more powers than I do. He's the one you were fucking ordered to kill, remember? I sure do. If you want to let him walk, that's your call."

He swallows — around saliva, bile, or blood, is anyone's guess. His teeth aren't pink with the last thing at least, in a quick smile towards Danko. "If you don't, don't worry. I'll be back. Give you some time to think about it. Either you want information on where to find Gabriel Gray… or we'll have a completely different discussion.

"I won't even cheat when we have it." He lets his fingertips pass through the leather of the couch to indicate what he means, and gives a rasping, breathy chuckle. He's probably lying.

Danko does remember. Of course, he remembers it in a way where all incarnations of Sylar were to wind up dead — not this one or that one or seven out've ten. Which begs the question of just how many there are, and narrows his eyes into a suspicious squint in time for him to veer a pale glance back over his shoulder towards the kitchen.

It's empty.

The silence that follows is inevitably one of chilly consideration; a raccoon plunging its sticky prey into water with sensitive hands to better feel out vulnerabilities if there are any to find at all. Emile stops fidgeting long enough to look Sylar over for a still beat. The black state and stink of him, raggedy edges and grease. His confidence increases in dredges and creeping stretches, steeling gradually through the grip he has on his gun and hardening through the level line of his brow. This isn't what an animal crouched comfortably at the top of the food chain looks like.

"…Fine," may therefore be a little too easy in return, even his hesitation does carry with it some lingering suspicion. Then, at a twitch and flicker, one brow tips slowly up after the other at a marginally less murderous skew. "Don't suppose you want a turn in the shower?"

The kitchen is empty, only the living space containing 6'1" of sickly Midtown Man who can't be touched. He cracks a smile at Danko, pearly white teeth starkly bright despite the rest of him, predator-health while still being blunt and dull weapons, inferior delicate things in contrast to the fangs and claws that make up more traditional predators in the animal kingdom. He sniffs, scrubs his sleeve across his generous nose.

"Sweet of you. But I have other needs." Sylar twists at the waist to take a look back at the slaughtered set of speakers that had blown sparks when shattered, and he's not especially quick to look back at Danko. Doesn't need to be. He's not scared either. "Sorry about your radio. I can," he tilts his head for the door, gestures towards it with the point of two index fingers, "show myself out."

And Sylar goes to do so, not reaching for a handle or the locks or particularly concerned about the fact that it's shut and solid — just strides as breezily as he'd stood so confidently when Danko had opened fire, for much the same reason.

Everyone has needs. That Sylar's mainly seem to involved lopping open the skulls of specials and relieving them of their grey matter has probably not escaped Danko's calculations. Orders are orders, but the Government's not exactly doing him any special favors between assignments and his own focus has been less than absolute, lately. His body count per week has taken a serious dive. Nevermind the loss that might be attributed to the absence of a capable team.

Gun never shaking off target long enough for more elaborate and/or painful shenanigans to lapse out of undesired company's imminent exeunt, Danko watches Gray walk out've sight through the flat of the door with an ice-slick slide of colorless eyes and a barely audible snort. "Melodramatic son of a bitch."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License