Going and Going


claire_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif

Scene Title Going and Going
Synopsis Someone from the past gives Claire a glimpse of the future.
Date April 6, 2018


Sometimes even the rather hermit-like Claire Bennet needs to get out of the Bunker. Especially, at times when her head is in turmoil. When the ghosts of the past rise from the grave and walk the world again.


It bring with it the memories she always tried to forget and the nightmares with familiar faces to haunt her.

Even though the clouds hang low and threaten to unload whatever biting cold concoction it has planned, Claire has decided to get out and go for a run this evening. Somewhere other than the sterile walls of the workout room, with the constant whirl and chuffing sound of a treadmill.

The running trails she picked were not too far down the river from the compound, but she still needed to drive there. During the warmer months, it was a beautiful place with the greenish river swirling beyond heavily canopied trees. However, winter still has a grip on the area, so all Claire has is the claw like branches that reach for the sky. It makes for a dreary run, but she isn't here for the scenery.

Bundled up against the cold, in dark gray sweats, gloves, and a scarf, Claire is almost unrecognizable. The black beanie on her head is pulled low enough to help cover the tops of her ears, but her slightly unkempt, blonde hair sticks out like bits of straw about her face. Eyes are on the trail before her, while she listens to the lyrics of the song playing in her ear through a pair of white earbuds.

There had once been a time where she could just keep going, her body would repair itself on the go, unfortunately, that isn't true anymore. While she can still run longer then most before needing a rest, she still has a limit. Moving off the trail, Claire pants, breath puffing out in miniature clouds. She allows herself to wander away from the path closer to the trees lining the river bank, eyes only half watching the sluggish roll of the muddy river. Most of her attention is on the burn of her poor abused muscles and how the sensation of it lessens, but at a sluggish pace.

Despite the late, dying clutch of last winter, the way the day is draining out of the sky at a trickle, there are birds in the trees, and they twit and twoo overhead and around, ducking in and out of leafeless branches and bramble — warblers, swallows, ovenbirds, the denizens of spring. Off the trail, her steady jog slows as necessary in rougher terrain, as the burn in her muscles demand she give way to their needs.

Movement, up ahead. There isn't enough light to trick her eyes, the clouds diffusing the evening light into a grey, shadows rendered fuzzy and mild, so when the shape she sees materialises out of nothing, she can be certain it truly did materialise out of nothing.

It's a wolf. Long legged, rangy, grey fur and yellow eyes and its mouth parted, slinking between the trees at a deliberate lope, head down, moving closer. Panting, but no steam issuing out of its open maw. Its big paws sink into dying dirt and fallen leaves, and its heavy ruff bristles with movement. Its tail is low, an inelegant furry brush that barely touches the ground. When it makes eye contact, it's piercing and direct, and it puts itself very deliberately in her path before it stops.

There is a moment when fear does cut sharp through her senses, half distracted that she is, it causes Claire to stop moving and stand still a little dumbfounded. What the…

Were there wolves…?

Luckily, it doesn't take much time for her to notices that it is in fact a clear trick of the mind. Noting the discrepancies. It goes a long way to curb her fear, but it brings about another concern. It makes her very aware of where she is and the fact, that she doesn't have other joggers around her here.

Who was doing this?

Eyes sharpen into focus, training coming into play, as she looks around the immediate around in front of her; while slowly, fingers snag on the thin white cords of her earbuds, tugging first one and then the other out. When she drapes them over her shoulder, she hazards a glance behind her.

"Alright… who's there?" Claire speaks up, words turning to white plumes of steam drifting away on a little breeze.

As she looks around, she'll see it — the flow of black shadow gaining on her, skimming over forest ground, coming to a stop some twenty feet in front of her. It's been a very long time since she's seen this ability in action, the mercurial shape of dense shadow flowing like ink through water, and just as long, since she's seen the man that appears out of it. Gabriel Gray is unmistakably distinct, even down to what he chooses to clothe himself in — a long black cloak, mud-caked boots, the unshaven grizzle along his jaw.

Some details have changed, too. Even from this distance, she can see the tracks of silver shocked through his black hair, but he doesn't otherwise appear much older, an otherwise ordinary looking man in his late 30s.

He's also meant to be dead, seven years ago.

The wolf is gone, now. "Sorry about the dramatics," he says. His voice, maybe even more familiar than the rest of him, that peculiar monotone, the slither beneath it. "You're like the energiser bunny — just going and going. Had to get you to stop." He's tucked a cylindrical container under one arm, about two feet in length, but he doesn't draw focus to it right away. "And I didn't want you going in the other direction."

There several long moments that Claire doesn't seem to breath, no plume of breath, just a steady stare of shock. No matter how many times he proved he wasn't Sylar, they were still the same man. It is only when she knows he isn't going to make a play for her rather broken ability that she finally lets out the breath she was holding. There is no hiding that fact, but neither does she apologize for it.

Tugging the scarf away from her face, Claire offers him a nervous smile that pulls a little to one side. "Well, you just answered a question that has been haunting me for a while." Yes, despite their dark history, he plagued her thoughts sometimes. There is a bit of a pause, eyes fliting to the gray in his hair and the stubble along his jaw. "Hello, Gabriel. You look like hell," she points out softly… but also strangely… with a touch of pity as she might also understand why, since the death of Eileen was well known.

Another slightly uncomfortable pause as she finally forces herself to relax a little, "You're lucky… If I had still been the energizer bunny, I wouldn't have needed to slow down." Curiosity gets the better of her and her head tilts a little considering the fact he is here, "What can I do for you? I find it hard to believe it is a social visit." Again, given their past.

"Even dead men get lonely." Gabriel's tone tips ironic, there. No, this isn't strictly a social visit.

But he relaxes, too, the act of doing so being the only indication he had some pent up tension at all. I mean, being told one looks like hell is a bit rude, but there are a lot of worse ways that could have gone — most of them deserved. He can't help the touch of interest that alights in him as he studies her. She looks a little less vital than he remembers, due to the run, due to her words, but then again, no older. And he doesn't feel, in any kind of focus, the desire to crack her skull open as he did so often before.

It's been a while since survival, like that, has been something he wanted for himself. He steps closer, then, boots crunching over twigs and leaves, hand going to the container he holds under his arm. "Have you read the news, lately?"

"I can understand that." Even though Claire has become something of a recluse, she still sometimes needs a little interaction. "Though sometimes, being alone is so much nicer. Less baggage to go with it." Something else different from the girl he once knew. When he moves closer, she doesn't cringe away, doesn't take a step back. Her head just slowly tips back as his taller frame gets closer, forcing her to look up.

That sad smile is still there, she almost looks like she wants to say something. Maybe something like I'm sorry for your loss, but… she doesn't. She remembers those words said over and over again to her after Lyle and her father died(was dead).

"So, you have seen it, too." That would be a yes, Claire's eyes narrowing slightly, gauging him and his thoughts on that news. "The Vanguard are rising from the grave," She half growls out. Her frustration is clear in her words. "One by your own hands I believe." Which means the man wouldn't have been salvageable in her mind.

"I stabbed him in the heart," Gabriel agrees. "He stayed stabbed."

He moves past her, towards where the forest clears a little, dense dirt packed down by the water. Unselfconscious about place and time, he crouches down there, uncapping the cylinder and reaching for its contents with his fingers. "I don't know what it means. Why they're here. If they're alone. If it's even real. I don't have the connections I used to have. Not like you have, now, with your wolf pack." Translation: he's not here, risen from the grave, to answer any questions.

Chances are, he's here to prolificate more of them. From the cylinder, he slides out a roll of paper, starts unfurling it, glancing aside to pick up a rock to help weight it down. It's expensive, art store paper, but its beaten about the edges from rough handling, and doesn't seem to care that he's laying it out on the open earth now. "But I have my tricks."

His aura is distractable, the way that being alone for a long time can kind of bring someone's attention inward instead of outwards. Claire's soft smiles and knowing looks and hints at empathy are not so much as brushed aside as entirely missed, as if anything that might resonate with them — his grief, his loneliness, the time that's past and wasted — are all packed down tightly for the sake of present functionality.

As he passes her, Claire turns on her heels to follow his path of travel. She doesn't move to follow until he crouches and starts to fiddle with the tube he brought with him. Her steps are softer then his, lighter, like her frame. Watching his actions, her head tilts and eyes narrow slightly, noting the work of art. "I take it Eve's been visiting you?" Maybe a little worrisome at that idea, but she knows how the Seer's ability works to a degree, especially the use of art as a medium.

Crouching down, next to him, with arms wrapped around herself for warmth, Claire looks at Gabriel now that they are this close. It's not a long look, something curious… A quick study. Then she lets her gaze drop to the paper laid out on the ground before her. One knee tips down to the earth, ignoring the cold or the dampness that seems into the fabric of her sweatpants, as she leans closer to it.

His response about Eve comes as a huff of breath through his nasal passages, wolfish without any illusions necessary. "Once," Gabriel says. "But I can do my own paintings."

And it's highly likely that Claire Bennet will recognise the stylistic angles and colours of the late Isaac Mendez, translated through Gabriel's own hand and therefore a little rougher around the edges, a little darker, without particular attentive heed paid to comic strip requirements. The dynamics a little like that, however, a moment of action caught in a frame, rendered climactic.

And she may recognise herself, immediately. She's a small figure at the centre of the frame, and she's falling — apparently, from a great height, her legs kicked up in the air, her arm reaching for the sky, the flag of her hair streaming.

She's not alone. Falling with her is silhouette, wreathed in shadow. It reminds her, momentarily, of the inky mass that Gabriel had emerged from moments ago, except that something about the contours of the shape resonates as smoky, ashy, lifting off the dense centre of a person in stream tendrils that flutter from velocity but likewise seem to reach down for the figure of Claire as they fall together, like two angels in a fight, pitching for the earth.

Gabriel pins the painting down at the corners with rocks, and the edge of his own boot, and then winds his arms around his knees where he crouches, looking it over, but his attention attuned to the woman at his side.

The style is recognized immediately… How had she forgotten…?

Seeing yourself in a painting like that, the impact never changes, the way it takes your breath away and settle a brick in your stomach. Her other knee drops slowly with the other to rest on the ground when she realizes she is looking at herself. Settling her rump back on her heels, she scrutinizes the artwork. "Huh…" seems like all she can say for a long moment.

He might be able to tell, that she is going through all the people she knows trying to decide if she knows someone with that ability… Claire sadly, comes up blank. "I feel a little weird for asking this, but - any thoughts?" Her head turns a little so that she can glance at him out of the corner of her eye. A hand motions to the picture. "Cause, I don't know anyone with an ability like that exactly…" This sensation felt a little like Deja vu… though it was usually him on the other end of that prophesy, not the one giving it. Times have changed indeed.

"I know two."

As Claire settles, so too does Gabriel, sitting more comfortably amongst pine needles and earth as the evening crawls on later and later. "One of them is Samson Gray." He doesn't clarify further, from there, about who that is to him, unsure for what has gotten around if the old man is still kicking around, if Eve is On The Case. "He takes a mimicry form that looks a little like that. Like soot from a chimney. I know he's looking for a regenerator, too. Going from what Eve told me, he doesn't know your name. Not yet." To Gabriel, even before this painting, it seems like something of an inevitability that he would, eventually. His tone is also a little disaffected, removed, like he's not entirely connected to the theory he's presenting.

Even if the other one is impossible. "I killed Volken, once. I sliced him into pieces with laser light, and the black thing that wore his body like a shell came pouring out of it, before he took possession over me. He looked like that." With blunt nails, he itches his chin, where inchoate beard begins at his neck. "With dead Vanguard coming out of the shadows, why not him too. Both of them have a thing about immortality. With Volken, it's more of a condition."

Claire nods slowly listening to familiar tones of Gabriel's monotone, her head turned a little his way, but her eyes are on the painting itself. There is a touch of confusion that creases her brow at that name Samson Gray. The fact that he is looking for a regenerator is even more concerning. "Immortality not exactly what it was for me anymore," she comments dryly, "He might be disappointed."

To the other point of Volken, the name is familiar, and brings with it a handful of memories, mainly with Peter in them… But also, thanks to Claire's time in Madagascar teamed with Gabriel and the others. That was about it. "Well… I guess we'll find out soon enough, if he is back with the rest of them." Not something that they really needed to have come back from the grave. "With this sudden resurrection, Hana is sending a team to go check out if it is true." She finally looks to Gabriel.

"Epstein and I…" Claire seems reluctant to mention Nick, but Avi was on that Madagascar team… He is a witness to Lang's death. "Are taking a small group to go see what we find." She doesn't know if he is interested but she still offers, "I can let you know what we find… if you want."

Mention of Epstein has Gabriel looking to her, if only just out of the corner of his eye. Old enemies, spoken by another old enemy, even if whatever accord Claire and he came to in the end was certainly a less rocky one than the one he has with Epstein. Which shouldn't be a surprise. Epstein is the one who still has scars to show for it.

The offer hovers between them, a little like it had with Eve, a hook in the water threatening to drag him onto the shores of the present, inhabitable by someone like him. "You can do what you want with this painting," he says, instead. "You can tell the others if you want, but it's for you, not Wolfhound. Not even the future, whatever that means if Volken's back in it, somehow. I don't want them knowing I'm around. Or alive. I don't want anyone knowing that." And a little voice in his head insists he's kidding himself, on that front, but he says it anyway.

"I'll find you when you come back."

The cold air has her running her hands along the fronts of her legs, or maybe it is the nerves. Gabriel was asking a lot of someone like her. Claire knows that and acknowledges it for what it is. Finally, she offers up a soft -

"Okay, Gabriel."

Claire doesn't look at him, but moves to push the rocks off the corners, pausing to look down into the stylized eyes of herself - only a moment - before she lets the paper follow the natural curl, watching the picture disappearing into the folds. "As long as my hand isn't forced," by your actions — she doesn't say out loud, " your secret will be safe with me."

The picture in her hands now, Claire finally turns her gaze to this man who once hunted her, "Thank you." She holds up the roll, her tone genuine. "You didn't have to, but you did. So I guess I owe you one."

She doesn't have to say it out loud. For the first time during this meeting, something like a smile hooks at the corner of Gabriel's mouth. He eases to his feet as she packs up the painting, his hands retreating into the pockets of his coat as he looks out towards the steady flow of the brown, winter-thick river. "Yeah, if I start splitting people's heads open and leaving them around all willy-nilly," he says, his brand of sarcasm somehow both playful and scathing and also very characteristic of himself, "then I absolve you of that obligation. Just bear in mind, it might be my dad."

Now he looks back at her, and down, absorbing the thank you, that she owes him one. He raises an eyebrow, his head tip communicating: maybe. "I think prophecies are more like a curse than a warning," he says. "They send us running into them, maybe quicker than we would if we never knew about it in the first place. But for what it's worth— "

A subtle shake of his head. "I want it to help."

Anyway. Good talk.

The forest floor crunches under foot as he peels away from her, then, sinking backwards, turning away, and then collapsing down into that same liquid shadow as before, loose leaves taking to the air with the motion it makes as it skims away.

As he steps away, Claire rolls up to a crouch and slowly rises to her own feet, head turning to watch him leave. She doesn't call out a good bye or anything, just watches until he melts away. Only then does she let out a huge sigh. What an odd conversation and the fact that she was thankful for it — even if just for a moment.

The rolled-up artwork crinkles in her hands a little and grabs her attention. It is stared at for a long moment. What was she going to do with this? He was right knowing the future often sent you towards it head on. You only recognize it when it happens.

It can't be helped a huff of amusement send out a cloud of white. "Here we go again," Claire murmurs to herself. Thumbing the earbuds into place again, Claire turns back the way she had come. Her mood for running gone. She can almost hear the words of Hiro Nakamura echoing in the back of her mind.

"Save the Cheerleader, Save the World."

They saw how well that worked… No… if it was her time, it would be her time. For now, this painting would be kept to herself.

No one lives forever, even the immortal.

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