For All The Reasons That Matter


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title For All The Reasons That Matter
Synopsis A lifetime of wrongdoing creates a heavy conscience.
Date October 19, 2010

DHS Facility

Thomas Szasz once said 'The self is not something that one finds. It's something one creates.'

The matte gray surface of concrete block walls create a ten-by-ten perimeter beyond which the world simply does not exist. The unhealthy glow of fluorescent lights create a muted palette of colors that the eye is subjected to. In the scratched surface of a metal-topped table bolted to the floor, the reflections of men look like so many shadows; indistinct, blurry. The past, too, looks like that from here.

Our lives are a patchwork of our creations, both the wondrous and the terrible.

Brushing the pads of his fingertips over that cold metal surface, Robert Bishop can feel the notches of scuffs and scrapes ground by handcuffs that were here long before his cut into the tabletop. The clatter and grind of the chain links between the cuffs around his wrist come from where they slide through a metal eyelet screwed into the table, one that keeps his shackled hands restrained like some sort of dangerous wild animal.

What we are left with at the end of our days is not the fault of others, but the fruits of a lifetime of labor.

When tired eyes peer up through tortoise-shell framed glasses at the mirror on the opposite wall, there is no more fire left in the former Company Director's eyes, no more fight, no more struggle. There is merely smoldering resignation to a future that has come to pass in ways so different from what prophets of his day had said. This was supposed to be the beginning of the golden age; this was the fleecing of the future.

A lifetime of misdeed sows unfertile soil, and when our twilight comes, how we have lived our lives dictates what surrounds us when we are done living it.

«Robert,» comes crackling over an intercom, originating from the other side of the glass «we're ready to begin.» There, in the shadows of the observation room, Institute agent Desmond Harper stares silently at the man hunched forward over the table. Arms folded across his chest, Harper's focus on Bob's slouching form wavers as he stares more at his own muted reflection in the glass than the man beyond it.

In the end, there is no one to blame for the ruin that one's life is found in than the person who built it.

Looking up to the sound of Harper's voice, synthesized as it is through the intercom, Bob finds it impossible not to think back to the last time he'd heard that voice spoken so crisply to him. Eyes narrowing behind the lenses of his glasses, Bob's throat works up and down in a tight swallow, and as his jaw gives a slight tremor, his response is bitterly clear. "I have nothing to say to you."

If the self is nothing more than what we create, than a life of misguided creations creates nothing healthy.

Fort Hero, Long Island

Two Months Ago

As blood runs down the side of Elle's neck, running clear in spots from venom spilling out from Buckley's mouth, Elle's body begins sparking with uncontrolled levels of electricity. Eyes wide behind his visor, Harper can hear klaxons blaring in his helmet, warning of the electrical charge building in front of him. He doesn't move to save Elle — he could have — instead he moves to save himself.

Diving to the side, Harper throws himself towards the reception desk, landing on one armored shoulder and skidding across the floor, even as crackling arcs of electricity rise up off of Elle's body and strike the ceiling and the gold-plated floor as the blonde's throat constricts and a strangled scream rises up from her.

"B— Buckley— no!" is Bob's whine of protest, one hand held out and fingers splayed, sweat rolling down his brow and blood soaking into his suit jacket and pooling beneath him. She was going to murder him, and yet Bob Bishop still begged for the life of his daughter to be saved.

Adam Monroe once said that humanity is at its best when presented with its worst. Bob Bishop was no adherant to Monroe's sopciopathic ideology, but in that one phrase… perhaps there was some kernel of truth.

The little blonde's eyes widen as she feels Bryan's hands clasp around her jacket and holds tight to her, those blue orbs raising up to the ceiling as he hisses into her ear. Time goes slow for Elle as he lifts her off of her feet, and whispers that final farewell. She intakes a sharp breath as his fangs pierce her skin, her eyes widening as she feels the hemotoxin enter her veins, even as she hears and feels that scream rip out of her throat.

She feels her control over her body slip away, first, her form relaxing against Bryan. She sees the electricity that flows off of her…and she makes a decision. If she's going to die…then she'll bring Buckley with her. It's strangely clear in her mind right now, even as drooping eyes drop down to Bob as he begs for her life to be spared. She uses this clarity she has been afforded in her final moments, directing the current into Bryan at deadly volumes.

Elle only stares at her father as Bryan's hemotoxin is pumped into her, as she feels her life slipping away from her. She stares at the man who, for nearly all of her 26 years on this earth, was the most important person in her entire world, tears flowing down her cheeks even as the electricity pours off of her body.

It doesn't take much to do the trick.

Buckley holds on as long as he can, out of jealousy, determination, and just blind rage, but when Elle's sparks become arcing bolts of current, the bite becomes more than a passionate hold. His jaw clamps down, bruising the skin around the puncture wounds as the coursing energy makes his muscles contract.

He doesn't hear Bob's order.

His nerves fry quickly, but with no ability to loosen his deathgrip, Bryan takes Elle with him as he crumples to the ground. His eyelids, held tightly shut, break their seal to send their liquefied contents spilling like opaque tears onto his dark cheeks, only to crackle and pop like frying eggs. Bryan's skin darkens and chars, the skin on his face and hands breaking away into ashen flakes and drifting away.

It doesn't take long for the poison to run its course in Elle Bishop. Her vision is beginning to fade as Bryan drops to the ground with her atop him…but she's still staring at her father. Despite the death that she can feel only moments away, she can still manage to cry, the tears pushing themselves sluggishly out of her eyes.

They say that life flashes before your eyes when you die. Elle is no exception. Moments after Bryan's liquefied eyes spill onto his cheeks, Elle's eyes are losing focus, sluggishly traveling over a scene that only she can see as the lids draw down over them.

It goes backwards, for Elle. Her time with Warren, her time spent working behind the Company's back with the Institute, her time spent in Chicago with the dead man her useless body is draped over. The future. Her time with Gabriel, her time spent under the torture of the Company and their methods of raising her. Her ninth 'birthday', spent in a glass room with an IV of Lithium attached to her arm, her childhood, and what little memories she has of it.

As the life begins to fade from her half-lidded eyes, Elle sees something that makes death not seem so horrible. She sees herself, digging in the sand of the Bishop's summer home, but a tiny little child of perhaps three or four. Next to her is a blonde-haired middle-aged woman, speaking in a soft, sweet voice to her daughter as they build a sandcastle together. The little girl is happy, smiling and laughing to her mother as they play together.

And then, Elle is gone.

"You son of a bitch!" Rage builds in the heart of Robert Bishop when he sees his daughter's lifeless body slouch forward to the ground. Black and white tiled flooring begins to bleed metallic beneath Bob's body as he loses all control and focus on his ability, turning everything he touches to solid, raw gold.

From his position on his side on the floor, Agent Harper's suit whines pitifully, electricity still crackling in static arcs through the chassis. Blackened armor sputters and pops as battery packs die one by one and the HUD on his helmet goes dark. He can hear Bob's screaming now, shut out from the world behind the tinted visor. Struggling to move his arms now that the suit has been short-circuited, Harper reaches up and unclasps his helmet, throwing it aside as his sweat-slicked hair falls disheveled across his brow.

Up on one knee, clutching his chest, Bob Bishop holds a solid gold pistol retrieved from Agent Buckley's dead body in one hand. Useless now for firing, but heavy enough to split open a skull if that is what it is intended for. From the look of shock on Harper's face— it is. Bob's stumbling and slow approach is mirrored by Harper's inability to reach up to his shoulder restraints and detach the hydraulics that are effectively paralyzing him inside of his armor.

"She— was all I had left," Bob splutters, his jaw trembling as he stares down at Harper's feeble attempts to pull himself free from his suit. "You— you took my baby away from me!" Bearing down on Harper's prone form, Bob manages to drop down with vicious speed on one knee as he drops the end of that solid gold .45 on Harper's forehead. The agent's head jerks aside from the hit, brow splitting and blood spraying across his face and Bob's hand.

The still-smoking bodies of the DHS counter-terrorism team are of no help to Harper as he struggles to move one arm up to defend himself from the bereaved father. "You don't care about her! You son of a bitch! You son of a bitch I'll kill you!" Blood paints dark over Bob's shoulder where the gunshot from Harper's handgun had shredded muscle, fragmented bone and broken ligaments.

Tears stream down Bob's face, eyes reddened and puffy as he raises the bloodied gun again to strike, expression wild-eyed. It isn't until the electrical snap of a taser rings out that Bob falls backwards with a scream, the gold gun tumbling from his fingers to clunk noisily down on the partially transmuted floor under his feet. Standing in the doorway of the lobby, the towering silhouette of the Haitian stares wide-eyed at the devastation wrought by the attack, a taser gun held fast in one hand, wires uncoiled all the way over to Bob's writhing body.

"Rene," Harper growls as he rolls onto his back, blood rolling down his forehead from the blow Bob delivered, "call ahead to Forward, tell them I need reserve battery packs and a new helmet." His eyes unfocus, viewing the room not from within his own body but from far overhead by the ceiling, looking at Buckley and Bishop's corpses, Bob's tasered figure still spilling blood from his gunshot wound.

"Call Central too— tell them we're going to need Doctor Stevens."

DHS Facility, New York City

Present Day

"You're going to die," Harper's voice echoes in the small confines of the observation room, watching Bob through the tinted glass, "you do know that, right? No matter how noble of a crusade you think you'll be fighting to the end, there is no court on this Earth that won't find you guilty of the crimes you committed. You're going to die with a needle in your arm, alone."

Staring at the mirrored glass, Harper can almost feel Bob's eyes on him, like a tired old predator that can sense another nearby. For all that Robert Bishop is a pudgy old man, the keen knife of his intellect has not dulled in all these years. «You don't give me a compelling argument on which I should be cooperative, Agent Harper. I think you lost all negotiation footing when you murdered my daughter.»

"I'm not the one responsible for what happened to her, Mister Bishop," sounds defensive, feels defensive, and if Harper knows his own emotions is defensive. "You're the one who drove her to become the person she is. You're the one who took away her memories, and you never would have told her had she not found out on her own. You can't pin the end result of her choices on me, Robert, no more than you can pin your own guilt on other members of the Company…"

Silence, now, from Bob as he looks back down to his folded hands and the handcuffs clasped around them. Aluminum and steel should be soft, mutable gold, were this a world where the Evolved were a minority. Were this a world where they were still a secret, government agencies would not have access to negation drugs and blood tests. There would still be secret weapons with which secret wars could be waged.

"I'd like to ask you about the Alaska facility, Robert. You are the last surviving Company member to sign off on its construction and the only member we have in custody who ever set foot inside of it. We'd like to know what you were doing there…" Harper lifts one brow, leaning towards the glass, seeing how there is no physical reaction in Robert's posture, just stiffness, stillness, and an expression of guilt that Harper has come to be familiar with.

Hartsdale, New York

July 18, 1976

Hard-soled shoes click soundly across the tiled floor of a brightly lit corridor. The white and red painted walls interspersed with closed doors all look interchangeable without any placards or signs dictating what's behind them; in a way that's the point. Under the glow of hanging lamps set in the middle of the ceiling, Robert Bishop can feel the heat of the lights more and more every passing year on the crown of his head. He's losing his hair, and no amount of molecular transmutation is going to solve that.

Coming to a stop outside of a pair of double doors, Robert pauses as he hears the sound of conversation, his hand hesitating at the doorknob. Leaning towards the doors, Bob's brows furrow as he tries to listen in on the muted sounds of voices, only to lose his nerve at the last moment and push one side of the door open, stepping in to the brightly lit office.

Flanked by a pair of filled bookshelves, the walnut-finished desk of Arthur Petrelli is empty. Instead, the man it belongs to stands facing out a tall window behind the desk, hands clasped behind his back and shoulders squared. Already in the office, a wiry blonde man with wavy hair is unmistakably Adam Monroe. His blue eyes are squared on Bob from the moment he enters, perched on the corner of Arthur's desk, hands folded lazily in his lap.

"Well, look who finally decided t'show. Good on you, Bobbie." The sarcastic greeting comes with a lopsided smile across Adam's face as he leans back, offering a look to Arthur with one raised brow. "So, Art, you were saying?" There's no continuation of whatever conversation Arthur was having with Adam before Robert entered, instead he turns from his desk and reaches down for an open folder laying on the desk, flipping it closed with a wave of one hand.

Bob's attention moves to the hastily closed folder, then Adam's smug expression. "What are we doing in Alaska?" Not having closed the folder quick enough, Bob was able to pick up at least a small sampling of Arthur's back-door maneuvering from his stolen glimpse. "I'm not comfortable with keeping secrets from each other and you know that."

Arthur looks down to the folder, then back up to Bob in silence. For a moment the tension in the room rises to near palpable levels, right up until the moment when Arthur motions towards Bob and lifts the folder up with an unseen hand, sending it drifting slowly over the desk and into the air towards him. Bob's brows tense, his attention shifts down to the documents and the title written across the tab: Mount Natazhat Research Facility.

"Is this why you called me here?" Bob's eyes flick back up to Arthur, looking over the top of the drifting folder with thoughtful consideration and steely resolve, "or is this a consolation because I caught you at an inopportune moment?" The folder turns around in midair at that, and with a curl of Arthur's fingers floats towards him, leafing open to allow a single page with a photograph clipped to the top to slide out and into his awaiting hand before the rest of the folder drifts down to lay on the desk.

"It's unrelated," Arthur finally states, looking down to the paper and then handing it over to Adam to let the blond man take. "We scouted out a US military installation settled in the Natazhat mountains being constructed as a continuity of government installation. I've already sent Charles down to Washington to convince the necessary members of the Department of Defense that their budget would be better spent utilizing those resources closer to home. We've already made headway with Mister Brown, and pending his appointment to Secretary of Defense under President Carter, they'll be returning efforts to the Raven Rock facility in Pennsylvania."

"Which means," Adam chimes in with a cocksure smile, "that means we'll be able to negotiate for the Natazhat facility for a song an' a smile. Sounds pretty impressive, don't it?" Nonplussed by the entire plan, Bob crosses his arms over his chest and walks more fully into the office, closing the door behind himself.

As he comes to stand behind one of the desk's window-facing chairs, he affords Adam a momentary look of scrutiny before focusing back on Arthur. "Charles is in Washington? Arthur you know how dangerous this is, don't you? We talked about spreading ourselves too thin, there's not enough of us to warrant the expansions you've been planning. Between the acquisition in Chicago and what I overheard about Seattle I don't think it's necessary."

Folding the paper Arthur handed to him into his suit jacket, Adam slides off the desk quietly, his wingtip shoes scuffing on the carpet of the office floor as he comes to stand up straight, buttoning closed the front of his double-breasted jacket. Arthur, however, finally circles around his high-backed chair and sinks down to sit, motioning for Bob to do the same. "This is what I came here to talk to you about, Robert. We're having a meeting tonight, all of us," except apparently for Adam, who is silently excusing himself from the office by way of the same door Bob had come in from.

"A meeting about what exactly?" Bob asks with sharp tones as he looks askance towards Adam as the regenerator slips out of the office and quietly closes the door behind himself. "Arthur if we're going to be discussing this as a group later I don't like the idea of you needing to single me out beforehand. I know we haven't always seen eye-to-eye on things, but this— "

"Bob," Arthur states flatly, lifting up a hand in a shushing motion to his lips, then pointing to the man across the desk from him. "I want to impress on you the importance of what we're going to be voting on. Now I know we've been something of a… disorganized democracy," the term is loosely waved around with a flippant gesture of Arthur's hand, "but there comes a time when we have to consider the good of the many over the egos of the few."

"Egos," is stated in lackluster reiteration as Bob slouches back into the chair he's begrudgingly settled into. "What is it you're getting at, Arthur?"

"I have a vision," is the immediate answer Arthur impresses on Bob, "of a future that is within our grasp, provided that we are all willing to make certain sacrifices in order for it to happen. But in order for us to move from just being a reactive organization and become something more proactive, we're going to need to change, adapt, evolve." Folding his hands over his stomach, Arthur leans back into his chair with a creak of the leather.

"I want us to go from being a reactive group, to a proactive company." The term has a weight to it, a gravity that is carried through all of Arthur's other projects, from his scientific research with Doctor Zimmerman all the way to these black projects he's sending people like Adam on.

Lifting up one hand to the side of his face, Bob's lips sag into a frowning expression. His eyes lid partway and the resigned sigh he gives pushes out the words, "tell me more…" with reluctance.

DHS Facility, New York City

Present Day

"You should try with someone else, Agent Harper," Bob quietly explains with a slow look up to that mirror. Under the light of the fluorescent bulbs, he can see how tired he looks in the glass, see how the creases of age have carved valleys of time across his face, made him look weary, made him look like his father. "I'd like to go back to my cell now."

There's silence behind that glass, no telltale sign of where Harper is, but Bob looks for him none the less, moves his eyes as if tracking something. Maybe with the right luck, he'll strike a nerve, make Harper uncomfortable. Maybe any of these old games matter, more than likely they don't. Agent Harper is right, Bob is going to die, alone.

«Do you remember Doctor Darren Stevens,» is a change of pace that has Bob's attention grasped tightly again. Rhetorical as the question is, Bob makes motion to answer, but finds Harper's crackling voice interrupting. «The Institute protects its investments, Mister Bishop,» and those words send a chill down Bob's spine.

«Now, I know you've said that I don't have much of a negotiation footing to stand on, but I'd like to counter that with an offer of my own. If you'd like to see your daughter again, you'll tell me everything you know about the Mount Natazhat facility.» The silence that follows Harper's demand elicits a tension in Bob's hands, fingers curling against his palms and a dull ache in his shoulder where soreness reminds him he's still recovering from a gunshot wound.

"I want proof she's alive," Bob demands with a wavering tone of voice, his jaw trembling as he looks up at his tired reflection in the mirror.

"Then I'll tell you whatever you want to know."

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