For Want Of Ruby Slippers



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teo_icon.gif samson2_icon.gif

Scene Title For Want Of Ruby Slippers
Synopsis Because it's a long way home.
Date March 18, 2009


6: 23 AM

Dawn broke hazily, hatching a secret. It shows a paler blue sky. It shows the plume of smoke going up like a flag. It shows a man in blood, dust and orange jumpsuit stumbling through a rural terrain, with no sense of direction aside from the notion of east hinted at by sky discolouration.

He'd spent a month with his body lost to the mind of another. Spent even longer than that with his mind lost to someone he no longer recognises. Memory dispersed and confused into the actions of others, disorganised, piecing it together slowly, the jigsaw puzzle a man named Tavisha had been quietly putting together dashed and scattered. But this time he has more pieces. This time he has a picture to go by.

Except there's no time for that. Crisis of identity aside, he knows one single thing about himself: he has to keep moving, born from the notion that connects every single living thing on this earth. Survival.

Second only to that other notion he can't quite identify right now. What is it?

Foot steps in front of the other. One, two, three. Blood dries on his hands under the emerging sunlight. He realises that he does have a sense of direction, a bizarre compass that's following a sound, a steady thumping noise, the audio manifestation of that survival he's running on more so than adrenaline, but that too.

A heart beat.

The road he comes to is a long and stretching streak of asphalt, dust rising as the wind kicks up. He looks to where the broke down car noses haphazardly off into the bushes, the hood cracked up and allowing billowing smoke to seep out of the edges. Thinner, less threatening than the belches of black smog that had come from the plane he'd left behind, almost whimsical. Wandering like a victim of shell shock, he moves closer, and then he sees her, emerging around the vehicle with her hands in her hair in a gesture of frustration.

The girl in the ruby slippers.

8: 24 AM

The old man drives a truck that's not quite as old as he is, but at least he isn't held together with rust. The vehicle rattles down the early morning length of road, shuddering spitefully beneath him and the radio sounding tinny. It cranks music inappropriate to the hour, but he doesn't mind it. Keeps his ears busy.

Colored lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else's eyes
Now woman, get away
American woman, listen what I say

Drive down these roads long enough, and you'll become familiar with the sight of a car in distress, parked on some strange angle politely off as much road as possible, the hood up more like a flag raised than an actual help to the busted engine. He could probably keep driving and it'd be no skin off his nose.

Helps, though, that the young woman flagging him down has legs that stretch for miles. Ending with highheels strapped securely around jeans covered ankles, brilliant red.

8: 34 AM

The young woman cranks down the window of the truck, the glass rattling in the frame with the shudder of the moving vehicle, and lets her arm sling out the side, leaning right back in her seat and casting him a glance with storm-blue eyes. "So what is it that you do, old timer?" she asks in a voice without flirtation.

Maybe that's a good reason as to why Samson isn't gonna kill her today. As far as he could tell, she has nothing to give, and in turn, nothing he wants. He gives a hacking cough as the dust from the road trickling on into the cab of the truck tickles a sensitive throat. He pulls out a pack of cigarettes, yellow-tipped fingers, searching one out.

"I'm a taxidermist."

9: 57 AM

"No thank you," Malcolm says, extending a hand over his coffee when the waitress moves to refill. "Nothin' worse than being too awake." The woman smiles at the banal statement, moves on to tend to the two much older men in the corner, who accept the refills. Malcolm gives barely a glance, just leans back in his seat, continues to read the paper.

A young man, all of twenty-three, a large pair of aviators catching the lights of the diner from where they're perched on his head. Stop for breakfast, keep heading east, sound plan if not overly complicated - nothing about him really is.

So when the woman with long flowing dark hair and red shoes comes strolling into the diner, he uncomplicatedly lets his gaze wander over her figure and spares only a moment's notice to the rickety pick-up truck vacating the front of the diner. She catches his gaze, smiles unpainted lips, and comes to sit with him. Malcolm's vain enough to not think this is suspicious, raises an eyebrow and folds up his newspaper. "Looking for someone?"

"Maybe," the young woman says. A clinging orange shirt that looks too flimsy for this season, even with the denim jacket making her frame bulkier than it is. He glances down her shirt as much as its allowed, follows the movement of her mouth when she speaks again. "That your Camaro in the parking lot?"

"You bet it is. How'd you know?"

A bright smile, showing perfect white teeth. "Just a hunch. I like your car. Where are you heading?"

"Depends, what's your name, honey?"

A telling moment's pause, her smile fixed. Then, an eyebrow raises. "My name's Tavisha."

Malcolm smiles right back at her, sets aside his coffee cup and pulls his aviators down from off his head, letting the arm of it slip into the front of his shirt and hang casually from his neck. "Well, Tavisha, I'm going east. You need a ride?"

Blue eyes glint. "I'd love one."

11: 23 AM

He can guess she's maybe from a broken home. Stripper, or so he hopes, and with that name then it can't be too much of a question. She's stopped flirting with him, though, that's annoying, and Malcolm casts her a glance. Her profile is serious, loose hair whipping in the wind thanks to the topless nature of the sports car. Other things could stand to follow suit.

There's a rush of momentum as Malcolm swings the car off the road, letting it come to a grind halt with a cloud of dust. Tavisha's back stiffens, but she doesn't look at him. Just raises an eyebrow.

"Now I'll take you all the way, baby," Malcolm says, leaning right in as a hand reaches to brush back a tendril of her long dark hair. She does nothing to dissuade it, turns to look with those cool blue eyes. "But maybe you gotta take me on a ride too if you know what I'm saying."

"A little give and take?" she suggests, with a brighter smile, and Malcolm returns it. That's what I'm talking about. He moves in even closer, and is stopped when her hand plants itself smack in the middle of his chest. "How's this sound. I need your clothes, boots and your… car."

"That's cruisin' a little fast, don't— "

"And your cellphone."

Malcolm's brow furrows and he rears right back. "Look, you need to make a call," he says, hand burrowing for his phone in his pocket and flipping it open with a flick of his thumb, "you can make a call, honey, you don't have to be getting all— "

Her mouth purses, and his eyes widen with she blows out a puff of green, a smokey substance that almost catches in the wind and disperses entirely, until it just keeps coming, stinging his air passageways, making his eyes water even as he jerks back enough for his spine to meet a closed car door. The world splits into double, a faltered word of protest as the woman slinkily moves forward, another expulsion of chlorine, and he slumps.

It could be worse. He could have had something else the likes of Sylar might want from him. A little take and take.

2: 45 PM

The incessant, midi chitter-squeal of his cellphone on the bedstand makes Teo push the lamp off it in a haphazard bid to grab said light and crush said phone underneath it. It doesn't really work out.

The bulb splits, audibly, tinkle-tinkle. He isn't a morning person under the best of circumstances. On a day that he sleeps twelve corpse-weight hours straight into the afternoon underneath covers empty of familiar company and the sagging weight of self-pity, he is not enjoying 'the best of circumstances.' Everything sucks. Hana is going to yell at him for not concentrating on Krav-Maga tonight, insofar that she will simply kick his ass and tell him to leave if he isn't going to make an effort, and he has appear responsible for other things to which he is woefully inadequate. It will probably also rain. And he will get a stress acne breakout.

And Sonny will probably still be 'thinking' at the end of it.

Through some miracle of muscle memory and unstoppable inertia of habit, his cellphone does find its way into Teo's hand. It's a gymnastic maneuver, involves bed linens smearing, almost throttling himself on his T-shirt collar, and cursing at the blade of afternoon sunlight that insinuates itself through the Venetian blinds to stab him in the eye. He doesn't recognize the caller's number, when it manages to slide fuzzily into focus. Not local. Weird.


You're not really meant to be driving while on a cellphone. So whoever is on the other end is a rule breaker, because there's a distant sound of an aggressive engine, the kind designed to roar away any notions of inadequacy of other kinds. A sports car. It's driving, fast probably. These clues and more, as the sound suddenly dies down to almost nothing through what Teo's receiving.

"Teo," comes the voice. Male, a little raspy, and familiar over the past month. "Ever been to Ohio?"

Hey, erstwhile serial-killer calling. Surprise! Means Teo wakes the fuck up and starts paying attention, fairly quickly. His torso jack-knifes upright in the bed with what should probably be whiplash-inflicting velocity, though he somehow avoids incurring that particular injury that in favor of connecting his back solidly with the headboard. Thump. "Non. Nice with the rhetori—

"Shit. What happened to you, if you don't mind me asking?" Manners are as manners do, and even in the most abysmal ass of moods, Teodoro is ill-inclined to give up his. His brow furrows, spasmodically, as he rubs at it with a work-rough forefinger.

"I had a date with Gillian's brother and a federal agent named Ivanov, before Homeland Security crashed it." If the man on the other end of the line is having a bad day, which he most certainly is, it doesn't communicate down the line. His voice is steady, even, almost severe in the good-humour inflicted in his tone. "And then the plane stopped working. You wouldn't know anything about all this, now would you."

Accusation? Maybe. More contemplative, whimsical in this theory. Confident that no matter what the answer is, it's all the same to him.

The lack of an honest question giving Sylar's words that upward tonal tilt at the end seems to be a sign. If Teo were properly awake, it might have felt like neon, serif, boldface, with flashing lights in a border around it. Klaxons, strobe flashes, translations available in the most regionally popular languages, and shit like that.

As it is, the Sicilian actually, simply answers the question after taking a few beats to process the information. The names, the agencies, planes. That's another concussion's worth of difficult subjects to tread with Hana. "I know you've been hunted and you're still being hunted.

"Ohio, New York. FBI, HomeSec, vendetta. Other'n that, I've been asleep." That should be embarrassing. On some level, Teo thinks so anyway.

He isn't. He's working. And, watercolor at first, distinct the next, observation erodes into realization, pushes through, up into the topography of his consciousness, juts, jagged, impossible to see over, around or to ignore. There's none of that distraught, nervy skitter of an injured lamb in Tavisha's voice; no hand wrung or rue or harsh exclamation. Teo's eyes open and close, open and close.

There is no ironic intent behind his asking so again; Teo is no pamnesiac. Yet it bears the same meaning, no less fear, no more hope as it had before:

"What do you want?"

The other man on the phoneline is a pamnesiac however, which really helps in appreciating irony. Sandpaper laughter, dry, rough and not particularly pleasant, cackles gently down the line, trails into nothing. "You're a giver, aren't you?" Sylar murmurs, amusement there but kind of dead. Flat.

A pause ensues, some contemplation over the question, own answers held to the light and inspected for flaws. "A few things. They took Victor Childs. Make sure Gillian…" Uncertainty, for the first time in this conversation, faltering. "Make sure she isn't taken too. She's living on Staten Island but they were sniffing close enough for it to matter anyway."

There's music in the background, vaguely so, muted radio still emitting vague strains of something, noticeable only because fingers twist the tuning dial in search of something of interest. "The other thing is for you to realise that if I didn't think I could trust you, you wouldn't be getting such a head start." There's a threatening twist in the word 'trust', as if it in fact meant something else. Something about debts being paid, a stale agreement, the ghost of an attempted friendship from at least one of them.

Trust means trust, as far as Teo is concerned (and his concern does tend to go the long distance—) and the bedevilled detail under the microscope, now, are the limits to that trust. They'd always been there, mind you. Even if it had taken the Sicilian a cautioning swing of a metaphorical newspaper roll to remind Tavisha to think of them, to be prudent; suspicious. Of Teo himself, no less.

It's one of the undersold methods— to get somebody to sign on by emphasizing the fine print, caveats, corollaries, omissions. "It's my curse," the younger man replies, politely. 'Giver.' "Curiosity's another one."

Still, there's scarcely a pause before he answers with as much certainty as his available level competence can offer: "I'll move her and keep her hid." There's music in the background that Teo strains hear before the rotation of stations shorts out his concentration and the shift of subjects, his interest. Trust. There's a staticky revelation when Teo realizes, belatedly, that that is an issue, somehow, despite that Phoenix and Sylar have always had common enemies.

However straightforward the arithmetic of that logic, the safety of a loved one never is. He says, "I get it. New address by nightfall. You're coming for her then?"

Good question, and it's met with silence. A little bit of static but nothing to hinder even the faint strains of music. Pop music, a driving beat and a tinny female voice. Twist. It's gone again, a contemplative fidget on the radio as Sylar delays this answer, it sounds like, because surely he'd be demanding a response if he hadn't caught it, right?

Also superhuman hearing. There's a short sound of breath whipping by, a sigh or a snort, then a simple answer. "No." Beat. "Not immediately."

Well, that might be an awkward fragment of news to have to pass on to a woman being compelled to hide from her boyfriend's considerable enemies. Their planes, their armored and rifle-bristling squadrons.

On the other hand, Teo is pretty sure that being Sylar's secret lover amid his endless concatenation of double-identities and disparate relationship networks is probably kind of a lonely job, and Gillian's the kind of woman who can take it. "I can pass that on." Teo pushes his thumb underneath the interwined golden chainlink of his pendants, pulls them looser, metal brushing metal. The better to breathe. Then, "'M sorry, should I call you Sylar?"

Part of him expects— maybe even hopes the answer will be No. No, you're not going to hear from me again.

Things to do, people to kill. Hopefully Gillian will understand, and all. The question is met with more silence, and somewhere on a long strip of road in Oh-hi-oh, brown eyes glance at themselves in a rearview mirror, as if appearance had anything to do with it. There's nothing changed, not outwardly, save for the banished uncertainty and apology that Tavisha had carried himself with. He's who he was before Kazimir had taken him.

"Gabriel." Clipped, the answer comes casually, although the weighty pause before that does much to undercut it. "You'll find her at the antique shop in the Rookery, she works there. Just tell her to go home somewhere that isn't. I'll find her when it's safe." A glance to the skies, as if expecting to see those unmarked black dystopian helicopters descend upon him again.

Gabriel, then.

That would mean more to the women. It doesn't mean entirely nothing to Teo. The steady clip and mannerly pragmatism never leave him; there's a monosyllabic set of words to acknowledge the name and instructions. Got it. Got it.

"You going to keep this number?" He kicks cotton off his leg, slings one to the carpeted floor, leans heavily onto the other.

A beat. Hadn't planned on it. "Should I?" Slowly, the roar of the engine is coming back into audible hearing. The conversation terminating soon, whether everything is communicated or not. Doubtless that if everything was to be communicated, Gabriel doesn't have enough battery on the stolen cell to fund it.

Should seems kind of presumptious, and Teo is automatically leery of that; after all, Sylar — Gabriel has succeeding in escaping, evading, surviving alone perfectly well without assistance from the likes of him. On the other hand, 'alone' was the operative word then, arguably less applicable now. There's a woman in a coma who needs to see him. Another working at an antique store who might need his help, should Teo, you know. Fail.

It happens. Shit happens. Speculating as to the repercussions looks bleaker every time. Window blinds shoot upward at a yank of string in Teo's hand, rattling against the tinny metal of its frame. He grimaces at the sun. "If you want me to be able to tell you shit that's going on and track you, yeah," he says. It's better phrased that way. If you want.

A monosyllabic wordless grunt in response. Terms acceptable. "I'll keep the phone," he confirms. More facetiously, he adds, "Car too. It's a nice car." The briefest of pauses, a decision made if not based on trust, but based on the simple fact it wouldn't matter. But then again, he is putting Gillian into Teo's hands, so he adds, "I'll be back in New York by tonight. Ciao."

Beep. The sounds of car, strained Britney Spears, and Sylar's flat tone of confidence and indifference cuts out into a dial tone and silence.

Hung up on, Teo is hard-pressed to feel especially offended. He doesn't shit himself or breathe easier that the conversation is over. That would be inane, of course: Gabriel is on his way over as he stands here, by the window, the blinds cord wound around one long finger and that facetious salutation echoing tinny in his mind's ear.

Blankly, Teo looks at the Call Ended screen until it blinks out. Thumbs down to Gillian Childs' entry in his Phonebook. She isn't listed under 'Gillian Childs.' He pulls his hand free and clicks the tiny green phone icon, quells the certain sense that he's losing his mind; navigates around the dim glitter of broken lightbulb glass toward the wardrobe on quick, even strides. There's time, if not enough for 'thinking.'

Things to do. People to check on, to keep alive.

11: 00 PM

It's a long drive back to New York City. Blessedly, the weather is dry. Gabriel doesn't get bored easily, patiently driving the car with the continual, paranoid glances back. It's a nice car. He'll have to ditch it, facetious comments to Teodoro aside, but it was fun while it lasted.

Like the plane. The chaos of death in an enclosed space had been fun while it lasted too. He knows it, now, is weary of it, the continual fall into habit. Into Hunger. Washes out the rational thought, makes death into a game. In between that, there's only the ice, and the starvation. Gabriel glances at the rearview mirror again.

Crashed into a fiery cornfield— made fiery after the crash, anyway— many of them had died on impact. Not Sylar, of course, crackling telepathic energy over his skin that had allowed him to survive the NYC explosion of 2006. A little thing like a plane plummeting in fire? No, not the cockroach. Survives anything. Two had had the unfortunate fate of remaining alive as well, but blessedly unconscious. They'd been Evolved soldiers, remarkable this brave new world we live in. He'd killed them, of course, stolen what they could do - the green poisonous fumes, the white static telepathic whisper.

Carmichael had been alive, however, as the plane had gone down, as his head was sliced open for his squadron to see in their last moments. Gabriel doesn't know how to feel about that. Cotton, ice, and red. Three separate sensations, ideas, substances, and they all collect into one thing when the Hunger grips.

Cotton. Ice. Red.

His hands clench the steering wheel, twists, makes the leather creak.

He hadn't killed Malcolm. Left him stripped of his effects, clothing, money, cellphone, vehicle, but not dead. Hadn't even touched the vaguely familiar old man with his truck and dead animals. The girl in the ruby slippers, though, she was so much dust on the roads of Ohio. Survival of the fittest - Gabriel's hand was weathered into nothing, he was burned and bleeding. Scared, too, let's not forget that.

Doesn't have to tell anyone. If no one knows, it can't matter. But to her, for one final moment of death, healing, and mutual terror, he was Sylar. Not anymore, though. Nothing can be made broken. What was that second globally connecting notion, the one that came after survival? Oh, yeah.


In defiance of his thoughts, Gabriel twists the dial of the radio, and pushes the accelerator down all the more. Not as convenient as clicking ruby slippers together twice, but it holds the same sentiment: there's no place like home.

March 18th: The Survivor
March 18th: For Gods Sakes Stop Saying That Word
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