His Kill


eileen_icon.gif sylar_icon.gif

Scene Title His Kill
Synopsis A tentative alliance disintegrates in record time.
Date February 16, 2011

Ruins of Midtown: Underground

The piece of rusted metal Eileen twists between her gloved fingers is not as precise as her confiscated utility knife, but its edge is sharp and sharpness is all that matters — a scissoring jerk of her wrist separates her coat's lining from the wool, and she hisses out a slow, unsteady breath through her teeth as she tears it out the rest of the way. There is not much to salvage down here. She'd briefly entertained the idea of stripping the fabric from the seats of the crumpled subway car she and her companion have chosen to take shelter in for a few hours before realizing that the material was not as easy to transform into a makeshift sling as what she already had on her, which isn't much anymore except for the utilitarian clothes on her back, chosen more for function than comfort.

There are no birds in the car. The few Eileen coaxed down into the tunnel with them have already been sent to scout the tracks ahead of them for the sake of conserving time because, even without her pocket watch, she knows she does not have a lot of it.

If she doesn't get them out of here before Sylar's powers return, she might not reach the surface at all. "This would be easier," she says into the dark, taking the edge of the fabric in her teeth, "if you let me have it." One leg folded beneath her, the other bracing a booted foot against the side of the car, she sits with her back to her chosen seat and head tilted into the window, miraculously still intact. Moving under her own power has proven to be painful undertaking but not impossible. It's her wrist that worries her the most.

And her skull, but for reasons other than injuries she's already sustained.

Stretched on his back, height made more impressive and exaggerated in horizontal sprawl upon the seating that lines along the wall of the train car, Sylar is watching his warped reflections in the mirrored aviators he has with him as a part of his disguise. There is an idleness to it, a childish fidget, like he'd stick the arm of the accessory between his teeth to chew on as boredly as he smears greasy fingerprints around the edge of the glass — but there is also analysis for the mirror, keen interest. He's a narcissist, that much is true.

Just not usually this literally.

And all the mirrors had been removed from his apartment.

He slides his eyes from his reflection to her, then back again, glasses held above him, dangling over his face. "Choose one. Knife or watch."

Eileen hesitates.

Eileen hates that she hesitates. There should be no pause, no beat to betray that she's thinking with the wrong organ. You can't claim to be a pragmatist and answer, "Watch," but that's exactly what she does, her voice growing even more tight and uncomfortable than it had been when she addressed him a few moments ago with pressure bearing down on her chest.

He'll hear the shuddering intake of breath that immediately follows it when metal splits open leather, then skin, fresh blood carving a path down the inside of her arm. Her hand forms a small fist to stop the flow, and she bangs it against the window next to her head with enough force to resonate through the car's interior.

Some emotions are worth hiding. Right now frustration isn't one of them.

That she gets neither shouldn't surprise her.

Sylar tips a look towards her at that thud of metal and flesh, before swinging around to sit, bruises twinging as they should, without a superpower to mask the pain. It pulls his lips back in silent snarl but it's only a flash of gesture, glasses dangling loose from his hand. Maybe he wasn't actually offering her either tool, and this becomes apparent when he only slips the watch back onto his palm to toy with, flipping it open and closed with the push of his thumb, and asks: "Why?"

A measure of reluctance in his voice.

"You know why." Eileen lowers her hand, tucks chin to collarbone, her head bowed, and flexes her fingers to check the extent of the damage done. The cut, she determines, is not very deep, but without access to hot water, soap and disinfectant, is likely to become infected if she does not clean it. With a short sniff, she resumes fashioning the strip of fabric into her sling and cinches a tight knot so it can be slid over her head.

In the dark, it's difficult for him to make out the tension in her neck and shoulders — not impossible if he's paying her as much attention as he devotes to the watch. While he no longer resembles some sort of malevolent demigod without his powers, he's still in possession of the knife she asked for as well as her gun, though all he really needs at this point to put an end to her are his hands and a good grip on her throat.

Hearing him move bunches up her muscles.

Does he?

Confusion and irritation both write lines in Sylar's forehead, head twitching like a dog smelling something acrid. His thick fingers close around his watch, and it's hard to imagine he was ever really made for being a restorer of timepieces. His hands are good for killing and manual labour, large, arm hair almost all the way to his knuckes, calluses easy to rise on his fingers. That she likes his hands is something he only recalls like one recalls a dream.

There is a lot he recalls as a dream. "Sentimental." It's a guess.

Sentimental. Like tortoiseshell glasses and figurines carved from wood are. Wedding bands and ornaments with feathers she wears in her hair. Once she stole a necklace from her mother's jewelry box. She still has it — somewhere.

Eileen pulls on the sling and uses her bloodied hand to shift her hair aside, fingers tangling in the matted curls that came loose in the fall, the band that had held them at her nape lost somewhere along the way. She might cut it, but realizes that's thinking much too far ahead.

"It means something to me," she agrees. "Like your name means something to you."

"At least no one can steal my name." But then, with a solid kind of smack, she feels the pocketwatch land in her lap, sliding between her thighs in threat to spill to the floor below unless she clamps her legs shut or snags its chain. There's a creak of the bench as Sylar gets to his feet, and it might be a relief, the way the creak of his footsteps take him away from her rather than towards. Although if he keeps going any farther, he's liable to escape the car, leave her behind.

Fingers play along the dangling handholds that hang from the ceiling like bats, dusty leather and plastic. "I'm going to have your power, one day. I can't promise it'll be sentimental. Just sweet."

Eileen hesitates. Again. Not when it comes to clutching a the pocket watch when it hits her leg, because she does, groping to snag the chain before it can thump against the floor. She winds it between her fingers and brings it up to her chest, pressing it to her sternum like she feels her heart is about to leap out of her chest because maybe she does.

She hesitates when his footsteps move in another direction, unsure whether she should be hauling herself to her feet and attempting to follow him or calling him back, and it's then that she realizes there's a third option, which is letting him leave and taking her chances alone in the dark. "You won't," adequately summarizes how she feels that last one is most likely to end.

Resigned, she hooks the pocket watch around her neck with the sling. Folds her leg.

Maybe this when puppetry rictus would suddenly course through her body. A concussive blast knocking her off her perch to liquify her insides and punch in her ear drums. Some other terrible lashing out.

As physical as Sylar can be, it is not his first reaction. He uses his voice. "Don't tell me what I won't do," is a petulant snarl, loud. He must have turned back to her. Sudden anger, blistering in its heat. "You underestimate me the same way you underestimate him, because if you're not dead and bleeding by my hands some day, then it will be by his. I know how weak he is, and how much of a lie he is. How he has you all so fooled that he's capable of anything other than one day being me.

"And maybe I should leave you to him. You're his kill. I have better fucking things to do."

His voice is an effective tool because it doesn't belong to him the way his name does. It technically belongs to somebody else, and to hear that tone coming from him ignites something in Eileen, born from a sense memory.

Gabriel hasn't spoken to her like that for a long time, but there was a period when it was all he did, and once he even hit her — instinct curls her mouth curls her mouth around something ugly, her grip around the pocket watch bleeds the colour from her fingers beneath the fabric of her gloves, knuckles gone sharp and white.

"And who are you?" she asks, something dangerous and edged creeping into the rough velvet of her own voice, hoarse from exhaustion but suddenly sounding very alive. "I don't think you even know — that's why you took down all the mirrors except for the one. Every time you look at yourself, you're looking at Agent Epstein.

"That's what you are. The biggest lie." Her teeth flash in the black. "He didn't even have to take my ability. I gave it to him because he's better."

She's on the floor faster than she can register the thud of footsteps or the grasp of hands in hair and coat. The pole in the middle of the car only just evades her another head injury, connecting hard with her shoulder instead to break her fall roughly, twinging the joint. A boot sole comes down painful on her ankle, grinding bone, but the angle is correct enough for nothing to snap.

"No," is low, growled. "Take it back."

And now pressure, the slow crunch of ankle joint beneath his more substantive weight.

"Better!" comes out as a squealing bark, an explosive combination of both pain and aggression, and no amount of straining to listen will tell him which she's feeling more of. Her next few breaths come fast and haggard — her arm in the sling, the one with the broken wrist, is useless trapped as it is beneath her weight, but her free hand reaches out and curls fingers around the pole so she has something to anchor herself to.

Something to squeeze. "That's the difference between you! You've both lived being hated, but he's going to die having been loved."

"Crippled," Sylar corrects, the sneer in his voice too adament for Eileen to pick apart bravado from sincerity. "That's all it does. Love. Hobbles you." The increased pressure of his leg emphasises this, hard enough that Eileen is a split second away from imagining her bones crunching, cracking, wrenched from their alignment. But then it lets up, swift enough that the alleviation of pressure is almost painful in itself, bruises rising to surface.

And he's leaving her there, taking her gun and her knife. But the watch is in her hand.

She made her choice.

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