He Lives


gates_icon.gif hiro2_icon.gif

Scene Title He Lives
Synopsis Agent Gates receives startling news and brings it to an unlikely ally.
Date June 20, 2021

The cry of exotic birds fills the air in a rambling expanse of overly-wooded forest. Waist-high vegetation shrouds the ground in a thick and verdant carpet from which towering trees hanging with moss and crawling with ivy rise to block out the sky. The forest canopy blocks out much of the oily rain falling across most of New York, and though this sprawling forest looks like something out of a South American tourist destination, the crumbling remains of a coffee shop nestled in its depths says otherwise.

New York Botanical Gardens
Ruins of the Bronx
New York

June 20th
4:42 pm

Lost within the overgrown forest, Agent Gates sits at a long-forgotten table within the partially-collapsed ruins of the Pine Tree Cafe on the southwestern edge of the Gardens. No coffee is served here anymore. Young growth trees rise up behind the counter where a barista once stood. Bushes have overgrown three of the four booths by the demolished front windows, and a roost of parakeets now calls the exposed rafters home. Gates stares down at his table, at the discoloration that time has given to the bubbling and split vinyl surface. He looks at his hands, flexing them to smooth out the wrinkles time has given.

Then, as a cool breeze brushes past him, a Barista from across time and space sets a coffee down in front of Gates.

"Extra cream and sugar, right?" Hiro Nakamura says with a crooked smile, settling down on a creaking metal chair across from Gates. The tired agent reaches out and cradles the cup in his hands, looking down at the name scribbled in Sharpie on the side of the cup. Not Gates, but his real name. He snorts out a laugh, then looks up to Hiro.

"I started taking it black, but—"

"Oh, tough guy," Hiro says with a sly smile. Gates can't help but laugh at his tone.

"You're in a surprisingly good mood, all things considered." Gates admits with a tightness in his voice, content for the moment to use his coffee as a hand-warmer. Hiro sits forward, folding his arms on the table in front of him as he leans in toward Gates.

"On the scale of weird things, this is about a solid four." Hiro notes, one brow raised. "Walk me through what happened," he says, getting comfortable.

Now Gates takes a sip of his coffee, trying to delay the hard discussion to come. It doesn't buy him much time. "It was late—early this morning, about three or four. My phone rings and… it's Marcus. He sounds out of breath, tells me that…" He frowns, visibly. "He tells me that Charles Deveaux is alive. He just opens up with that."

Hiro's expression is a passive mask. He does not react to the news.

"Marcus rambles on about—the Institute. About how Cardinal somehow—I don't even fucking know, hid him somewhere. That Monroe found out after he raided the Institute, put Alice Shaw on it, used the Deveaux Society's own resources to try and track him down."

Hiro glances over at a bird that lands in the open window sill, then looks back to Gates. "I mean it's ironic."

"That's not how irony works," Gates says, eyes closed in a moment of strained patience. "Marcus is convinced this info is real, he's got Abernathy pouring through some archives they ripped out of the Ziggurat, all partial data. But it's like… I've never heard Marcus like this before. He sounded scared."

Hiro nods, squaring his shoulders and exhaling a sharp sigh. "Marcus is a prick," Hiro says plainly, "but I wouldn't call him easily rattled. I've known him for a long time, but I know why he's afraid of Charles. It makes sense."

"Why?" Gates can't help but ask.

"Because Charles nearly killed him. You know how old Marcus is, what he's been connected to. The Company wiped everyone from that era out. They thought they did the same to Marcus, too. But, you know, he's slippery." Hiro smiles faintly, then looks back to the bird in the distance, watching it pick at its pinions. "I saw Charles die," he says in a sudden change of pace, looking back to Gates. "You did too. You know he's gone. There's no timeline branches where Charles is alive, because where I came from he died in 1961."

Gates shakes his head, brows knit together. "Cardinal might have been out of his goddamned mind, but he wasn't an idiot. He knew Charles, they were friends to… some extent. There's something we're not seeing here."

Hiro sits back, wringing his hands together. "Want to go see for ourselves?" He asks with one brow raised. Gates tenses, eyes wide, then shakes his head. His grip on his coffee cup tenses, dipling the cardboard.

"No." Gates says in a hushed tone. "No thanks. Once was enough."

Hiro nods. "Probably for the best. Not safe to double-back on my own trail. Don't want to…" he trails off, then shakes his head. "Let's say for sake of argument that Marcus isn't chasing a ghost. Let's say Charles is alive. What does that change?"

Gates spreads his hands. "Charles knew everything about the Company, where all the skeletons were buried. We don't even know if he was ever redacted by Caspar, or if he just edited his own consciousness. There's debate about whether Caspar could redact a telepath as powerful as Charles. So far none of the pennies we've analyzed have Charles' memories on them. He'd have the only complete record of the redaction if that was the case. And if we did find his penny we could restore his memories. He could tell us everything."

"So could Pines." Hiro notes with a tilt of his head to the side.

"Do you know where Pines is?" Gates retorts.

"No," Hiro admits, puffing out his cheeks. "No, I do not. Do you know where Charles is?"

Gates shakes his head and takes a swig of his coffee.

"Something doesn't add up." Gates murmurs. "If Cardinal had Charles somewhere, alive, why would he keep it a secret? If he was worried about Charles' ability he could just have yanked it away with Tyler Case's ability. And if that wasn't the case why…" He sighs, frustratedly.

"Have you tried talking to Broome?" Hiro asks, trying to nudge Gates out of his pit of frustration.

"Not yet. If he didn't volunteer that information he either doesn't know or is intentionally keeping it from us, and I don't know what's scarier." Gates looks up from his coffee to Hiro. "Why didn't Marcus tell you?"

Hiro sits back, shrugging helplessly. "He doesn't trust me."

Gates is baffled. "How can he not trust you? You've been a part of this since—"

"Marcus doesn't trust anyone," Hiro corrects himself. "He probably doesn't trust you either, but he asked you to look into this."

Hiro's right and the fact of the matter makes Gates' stomach twist into knots.

"Just when I think we have all the pieces of the fucking puzzle," Gates whispers.

Hiro laughs, softly, and rises up from his seat. "What's the plan?"

"I don't know. It might not even matter. If we don't find a solution to the HELE we're…" Gates takes in a sharp breath and looks up at Hiro, but the time traveler is already gone. He realizes now the question was a rhetorical one. Hiro didn't need to know the plan, Gates did.

"Right." Gates says to himself, taking another swig from the coffee as he stands up. "I'll just walk home."

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