In The Shadows Of Angels' Wings


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Scene Title In The Shadows Of Angels' Wings
Synopsis Odessa discovers the terrible truth about the inexplicable absence of Kazimir Volken when she attempts to convince Sylar to run away with her.
Date January 13, 2009

Staten Island Boat Graveyard

Exactly where land gives way to water at this point of the island's edge is uncertain - first because of the saltgrass growing everywhere, both on dry earth and in the shallows, giving the illusion of solidarity; second for the structures visible in the distance, drawing the eye away from the deceptive ground, suggesting its reach extends beyond its grasp. Even if the structures are still recognizable as ships, and nothing that ever belonged on land.

There are a multitude of them, abandoned hulls of salt-stained wood and rust-pitted steel, dying slow and ungraceful deaths as wind and water claim their dues. Some still appear to rest upright, braced upon the debris of older, lost relics below; others list to one side, canted at an odd angle like someone who just struggled to the surface in search of a desperate breath. There are no hands to pull these hulks from the water, no ropes to save them from drowning; each has been surrendered to the sea, left to the ravages of unmerciful time.

At low tide, some of the closer ships can be reached - not without getting soaked, but such is the price of daring. Never mind that the rotting metal and splintered wood are the stuff of nightmares for any germophobe, definite hazards to the unwary. The more distant ships are distant indeed, beyond the reach of all but the most bold - and are all but submerged besides.

She should be running. She's ready to. But later. For now, Doctor Knutson is indulging in the hollow sort of serenity of the boat graveyard with her leather satchel stuffed full of every item she could swipe from the laboratories at Eagle Electric that she may need in order to either practice her trade for money, or patch herself up, should she need it. God forbid. Slung across her shoulder is a duffel bag, a faded and worn emblem for the New York Mets peeling away with age. She was only just beginning to build a new life for herself and now she's living out of a duffel bag.

Odessa stares out at the boats, moved a fraction from their natural shifting, thanks to the man who'd been her constant companion since fleeing the captivity of the Company. Heedless of the damp of the ground, the blonde sets her bags down and snaps her arms out suddenly to either side of her, screaming furiously into the stillness of time. How did it come to be like this? Captivity is the same everywhere. At least in the clutches of the Company, she had her safety guaranteed. Does one have to give up safety for freedom? It would seem so. There must be some compromise. Surely there has to be a way to facilitate a marriage of walking the world and having the right to have a life free of death threats. How do the normal people of the world do it? So many dangers, but they just go on living. Must she go on running?

Arms drop back to her side and Odessa breathes in the feeling of the resumption of the passage of time. It's a sensation that washes over her skin. Her gift allows her to control time, but time protests what comes naturally to her. It all takes its toll. The remnants of her cries echo off the husks of decaying and rusted hulls and back to her ears. Slowly, Odessa tilts back on her plain black heels - as practical as she'll ever be in such things - until she falls back into the snow and the salt grass with a dull crunch. She spreads her arms out slowly to her sides and then does the same with her legs - an image reminiscent of the Vitruvian Man.

It's a snow angel.

Memories are scraps to be warred over, like dogs over dinner. Negotiations are never an options when it comes to this shared mind, a battlefield in both sleep and waking. Upon the realisation Doctor Knutson was not at the Eagle Electric, and Sylar knew where she would be instead, in a heart that didn't beat for him, battle on.

Kazimir won this round.

Booted feet crunch impatiently in saltgrass and snow, the touch of winter extending out towards the boats which not only groan with decaying metal in water, but the crack of ice as things shift subtly. It's a symphony to enhanced hearing. It's understandable why Sylar might have come here, might have brought Odessa here. The figure of that same man now approaches the woman, her facing towards the ships perhaps not seeing nor hearing. And then, she appears to collapse. With all the prelude of a falling star. The man pauses, expensive black coat flapping with uncertainty in the constant winter breeze that breathes right off the ocean, the scent of salt and ship-death.

He begins to walk again, fingers curling inside leather gloves. He can hear her moving, arms shifting snow and plant beneath them. "Odessa," he says, gently, when he's close enough for his voice to barely carry towards her.

She truly is like a child, Sylar. I commend you for bringing her to me, none of this would have been possible without your input. Kazimir's voice that has stolen Sylar's croons inside of his own mind, in an ongoing attempt to break his host's will. She has the innocence and naiveté of youth, it makes her pliable, and that makes her mine. The words come with so much personal satisfaction, so much delight and enjoyment. What did that little girl ever mean to you?

One moment, she's laying in the shadow of an angel, the next she's on her feet, closer to the water now. It's as though frames are missing from the reel of film, only telltale footprints in the snow give her away. "Sylar," she breathes out, relieved. "I hoped you would come." She smiles, though it doesn't reach her eyes. There's none of that light or warmth she usually carries for him. Too much weighs on her mind to bring those happy emotions to her tonight.

The voice inside his head, always there and always haunting him, rouses that feeling of resentment, bitter and laced with loathing. She doesn't belong to anyone, Sylar whispers, tone carrying those traces of bitterness and hate. And she meant… He trails off into nothing for a moment, watching these actions with dull voyeurism, even as his own body makes them.

"I was looking for you at the warehouse," he says out loud, the icy air turning his breath to steam, whipping out of his mouth. "I was under the impression that you had some kind of ridiculous deadline to meet - I thought I'd find you working there night and day." For all intents and purposes, he seems himself. His voice is all his, the slight tilt to his head and the utterly still posture of a predator on his day off very much what makes Sylar in body language. Adopted quirks and traits.

She understood me, Sylar finally responds. She admired me.

Trust is a dangerous thing, isn't it? Kazimir takes no small amountof satisfaction away from the notion of taking another person from Sylar. It is a necessary task, the bludgeoning of the host's spirit, lest it wrest back control at the worst possible moment. She trusted you, implicitely, and in fostering that trust, she now finds herself poised to help rebuild the world in my image. I'm going to savor showing this one her place, Sylar. Showing her who won, and who lost. The momentary pause between thought words and spoken words gives time for the implications of what he says to sink in, And when she's done, I'm… This pause has no reason, no value, save for something being assessed. I'm going to find out, just how she skips around through my sight like she does.

"Doctor Suresh can deal with it. He's the expert." Odessa decides, lips pursed in anticipatory defiance. He'll likely challenge her decision. "I'm leaving. If Kazimir decides he wants me dead, I can't - I won't - spend my days looking over my shoulder. I deserve better than that." She shakes her head. "I'll come back when he's gone. I just… He came so close to taking me for his own. He scares me." It's a huge admission coming from the woman who swears up and down that she's untouchable. Every suit of armour has its chinks. Her tongue darts out between her lips and she swallows back her apprehension. "We could leave together. What does this city hold for us? We could go anywhere. We could find some little backwater town and we could have real lives." Being special may be overrated. Odessa would give anything to know what a normal life is like.

"Odessa." There's almost something mildly reprimanding about the way he says her name, a paternal edge. "We can't be content with real lives. You liked that about me, didn't you?" He steps closer, slowly bridging the distance between them, eyes locked on hers in scrutiny. "Dr. Suresh is the expert but you are required. I can't negotiate with him, but you can. You can keep him on course." Their course, or Kazimir's course? It's left ambiguous.

I didn't take her ability for reason, Sylar says, harshly. Look at her. You called her a child and doesn't it occur to you that maybe that's not just because she's sheltered by the Company? There are some powers people like us can't touch. Can't afford to touch. Odessa is stepping into dangerous territory, Sylar knows that well enough, this conversation spiralling out of his own control, like a phone conversation being tapped. He tries to reach out to with his mind, in the familiar voice of directional telepathy, but of course, it's nothing but a shout in his own head. Just run. For once, run from me.

An audible snarl accompanies Sylar's impotent attempt to communicate with Odessa. Thre's no use, Sylar. They're all mine now, not yours. Some of the venom drains from his words after affirming that, So you're saying she's broken because of her ability? That it has damaged her mind, somehow? How do you know this. How are you so certain? Then, there is a familiar, hungering pause whre a meal is considered. Tell me how to see.

Odessa narrows her eyes faintly and takes a step back from Sylar. "…Required." Now there's no mistake - she's definitely subjecting him to her own brand of heavy scrutiny. "Sylar…?" Something isn't right here. She spreads her arms out slowly and everything comes to a halt. It makes her fingers tremble, her posture vaguely invoking thoughts of the parting of the Red Sea and what a tremendous undertaking both tasks must be. "It's just us. No one can break through. You're being followed?" What other explanation could there be? She scoops up her bags, slinging the duffel over her shoulder and holding the leather doctor's satchel tightly in one gloved hand. "Come on. If we move now, no one will ever know what happened." She's begging with her dark blue eyes now. "We don't have to try to be normal, but we don't have to stay here."

"Shh," Sylar says, reaching a gloved hand towards her, but he pauses. And he looks around him. The dead ships have stopped singing, and the wheeling seabirds up ahead and perched on the freezing metal have stopped screeching. The world has stopped, at the will of this flighty blonde woman. "No one is following me." His lips twist in a smile. "Not exactly. Odessa…" His head tilts a little, expression softening some even though he can't truly shake the predator, hand again stretching out further. "You do trust me, don't you?"

Broken? No. Warped. Power corrupts. If there was the psychic equivelant of rattling cage doors, Sylar would do it. Perhaps it surfaces as a twinge of a headache, or just an angry growl sound in the back of his mind. At Odessa's plea to leave, an almost broken sounding chuckle takes that sounds place. Gillian had asked him to do the same thing. To run away. He should have. And at the sudden demonstration of ability, Sylar's voice rings firm through Kazimir's head. No. I'm not telling you anything. But that rise of hunger— detached from him— is familiar. He tries something else, snarling, Don't be as weak as I was. If you're going to take everything I am, then do better.

Power corrupts. A notion so familiar to Kazimir and Sylar both, only now upon sharing minds has Kazimir realized just how similar the two are, monsters of different eras. Perhaps in a differnet world, a better world, they may have truly been allies. But this is not a good world, this is a dark and unfortunate place. So far, Sylar, The overconfidence is astounding, having lived as long as Kazimir has seems to have afforded the man with an overinflated sense of invincibility, So far I have. But even in his confidence, the desire to sample of Odessa's offerings dims, it fades away to a subconscious growl in the deep recesses of their shared subconsciousness. But how long can he restrain it, how long before he will give in to the desire to see just what it is Sylar sees?

Hopefully Odessa will never have to find out how long Kazimir Volken's patience truly is.

Odessa reaches out to take Sylar's hand without hesitation. "I trust you. You're the only one who understands me." She steps closer, leaving very little space between them. "Think about it. We could sneak back into the lab and destroy Shanti and then we could just disappear. No more Vanguard. No more end of the world. Just the two of us." Her smile brightens and her eyes shine with misguided hope, "So what if we can't be normal? We could take the whole world - anything we wanted - and no one would even know it. Quietly. It could be beautiful."

When the sense of danger is gone— and Sylar knows it's only delayed— he does the mental equivelant of slumping back, quietly content in that his message got through. It only lasts a few seconds. Sometimes— times like this— it truly does get to him. The helplessness of being nothing but a voice to someone who doesn't care to listen. It's times like those the sickness of despair threatens to drag him down so he doesn't have to deal with it anymore. Especially when he feels Odessa's hand warm in his, standing so close, and her plea for betrayal. He can't save her, no matter how hard he tries to hold the monster back.

"It could be beautiful," Sylar says, voice wistful. His other hand takes hers, holding them in a clasp that is both brotherly, paternal, or a hold lover's might share - either way, he holds her hands in a show of masculine support and love, no matter what role it might be.

"But Odessa, I had a vision for the future, and it was beautiful too." Around them, the light seems to mute in their vicinity. Perhaps a cloud is passing over the already masked sun. But it seems too heavy, too vacuous. "The Shanti was the reason, and I, along with those worthy, survived it to create a new world." His hands tighten, and around them, the saltgrass still pushing life through the snow starts to wither. Even with the barrier of leather between them, Odessa's hands begin to sting. "Don't you want to be worthy, Odessa? My Nightingale? Don't you want to see it too?"

Odessa's eyes grow large, bright with awe and terror. "You've already killed him!" she gasps. She searches his face for confirmation of what she already knows to be true, and so she now searches the world around them, withering and dying about their feet even as she attempts to stave the ebb and flow of time through sheer will of concentration. The conflict of their abilities makes her look and feel ill. "Y- You're hurting me," she whispers. And she doesn't just mean her hands. Her lips tremble as she forms her words: "Sylar, stop."

"'Already killed him'?" Sylar replies, with a wider smile. And he doesn't let go, just grips tighter, almost letting the delicate bones in her hands grind together. "My, what a tangled web you all weave." He lets go of one of her hands to brush the backs of his knuckles across her cheek in a gentle gesture, gaze almost pitying. "Lost children. That's all you and Gabriel were. No wonder you found each other, came out here to play with powers as if they were the toys of dead men. It's time to grow up, Odessa. Your knight in shining armor is serving his purpose — it is time for you to serve yours."

Do you see how this works now, Sylar? Kazimir's voice is a rich and thick noise, like a contented cat purring out some sick and wonderfully pleased sound. No matter how much others wish me to come to an end, I will always be here. Even if this fails, if incompetence undermines brilliance in favor of failure, I will persist. There will be no stopping me from continuing to bring about the end of this disgusting place, of starting over again. Kazimir's metal words pause once more, matched in time when he speaks to Odessa, You will be able to bear witness to the end, Sylar. I feel I will be victorious. A pause, Perhaps I should find out if I am. Perhaps I should try my hand at painting.

It's as though the very scream that tears from her throat shatters her hold on time itself. "NO!" Odessa struggles to free herself from Sylar - no, Kazimir's grip for only a moment before switching gears and bringing her free hand, satchel having been discarded in the snow when he reached for it, around to swing at the side of the man's face. "I'll kill you myself!" A serious vow. "Sylar, please! I know you're still in there!" Santiago was, after all. She saw that much for herself. "You have to fight him! Don't let him do this!" Fear only adds fuel to blazing anger, lending strength to another attempted blow.

Somehow, this is a hundred times worse when Odessa addresses him. If there were a posture to match it, Sylar's head would snap up in attention. Odessa, he murmurs. I can't. Please, I can't. The voice only echoes back to him, and even as he says this, he tries. Tries to loosen his hand from hers, anyway. You have too much to lose. You've made too many enemies. When you want to take down the world, that's the price you pay. You're going to lose. You're going to lose. He sounds more pleading, now, as if willing it to happen without conviction. His voice is shaken as he finally whispers, Fine. Paint the future. I dare you.

At the sudden blow, Kazimir brings up his arm to deflect it, unable to catch her wrist at first until giving a more ruthless sneer and snagging it a second time. There's a mark of red high on his cheek, showing where her first blow had landed, the slightly scrape of a fingernail. "There's no point," Kazimir says, as if talking to a child who was throwing a tantrum. Fire-like pain seems to shoot up Odessa's arm, all of a sudden, but ebbs as soon as it begins. The scratch on his face closes, the red paling to nothing. "Behave, doctor. If you want what's best for this world, for Sylar, you will do as you're told."

Kazimir's focus, so solely on the world of the material and not the immaterial stillness in his mind, fails to notice the birds gathered on the rusted hulks of the ships surrounding the boat graveyard that fake flight at the height of Sylar's psychic screaming, their wings taking them alight, wings that carry them far and away from the life-siphoning monster before them, but not out of fear, or any other natural imperative.

It was like muscle memory, like a reflex. Sylar can feel the wind on his ethereal hands, sense the sky through their eyes, feel sunlight on their feathers. Sylar's dark and solitary prison cell, it would seem, has more than one window after all.

Odessa shrieks, knees buckling with the sudden fire in the veins of her arm. She stays standing, but only just. This is what she's found so frightening about Kazimir Volken. It was something she hoped never to experience first hand. "You wouldn't hurt him now," she states defiantly. She hopes she's right. Gambling with Sylar's life doesn't sit well with her, but he was the chosen one, was he not? He's too valuable to Kazimir to be used as a bargaining chip against her… right?

In the darkness, even the slightest flicker of light could be blinding. In silence, one can hear a pin drop. The sudden influx of sensation is enough to make Sylar silent with surprise and awe, unnoticed thanks to Kazimir's preoccupation with bullying Odessa, keeling a hold of the feeling of freedom in flight, clinging to it. He can feel them, even as they draw away. Almost ignoring the physical world he barely feels, he reaches for them.

"You are not in a good position to tell me, Nightingale, what I would and would not do," he says, his tone of voice imperial, stern, hold on her hand tight. The sharpness again, like the pain of infection, drifting in and out. He glances once up towards the birds, a sense of wariness, and then they're both walking, away from the boats and across the saltgrass, dragging her, using the strength of a young man in his prime to overpower her. "I will do what is necessary to make that future a reality. Reward as necessary. Punish as necessary. Discard as necessary. Do you understand me, Dr. Knutson?"

Odessa digs her subdued black heels into the snow and the earth, attempting to hold her ground. But Sylar is too strong for her, especially coupled with Kazimir's determination. One shoe is lost in the struggle. The young doctor puts her strength into pounding on the arm ensnaring her even as she forces herself to breathe in slowly, deeply. She has to calm down if she's going to get out of this. "Let go of me! I'm not going to help you do this! You can't make me!" It's the argument of a child, but it's all she can muster at the moment.

I can't make her? Oh, does she not realize all of this things I can make her do? Kazimir's voice rings out inside of his mind, purposefully projected for Sylar to hear, Now I wonder, who does she care more about — Ethan or Wu-Long? Which death would make her weep harder. He's enjoying this, he's enjoying the idea of toying with the girl's emotions and playing them like some handheld string instrument, to see which sounds she will make when he plucks which strings. Time to find out.

Kazimir does not stop his end of the struggle, abruptly yanking her close when she starts to beat against his arm. They stop, there, in the snowed over sanddunes, his chest against her back and arms around her, a tight hold, trapping her arms. His words are a murmur against her ear, now, Sylar's customary rasp made somehow harsher by the entity residing in his body. "I can make you," he says, even as his inner voice echoes through his mind. "Everyone has their weaknesses, my Nightingale. I will enjoy finding yours if you go back on everything we've planned together. Are you going to risk everything you care about just to see what I will and can do? Or you going to behave?"

You recruit a sociopath to engineer a virus that will kill everyone in the world and you expect her to cry over the deaths of soldiers? Sylar asks, after some delay, brought back to attention by Kazimir's verbal prodding. The birds have started to wheel around over head, casting fleeting shadows. His voice is distracted, however, his gloating half-hearted. He knows that even people like him, Odessa, Wu-Long, have the capacity to care.

Odessa falls very still in Kazimir's grip, closing her eyes as she listens to the words whispered in her ear. I can make you, he said. Her mind begins running a million miles an hour with all the ways that someone could make her do anything she doesn't want to do. In the Company, it was the threat of the unnatural loss of her ability. She doesn't have that to threaten her now that she has her… relative freedom. For a moment, she's almost smug. Kazimir would have nothing to use against her. But then, the colour drains from her face.

Sylar would.

"I'll behave," Odessa promises. "I'll do what you want." Just don't hurt him.

You see how that works, Sylar? Smug, pleased and haughty, Kazimir has filled himself with satisfaction at all of the possibilities his new form represents. Everyone has a weakness, an emotional lynch-pin, that if pulled out, makes them do anything you desire.

Quiet resentment, is Sylar's answer. A battle lost, it seems, and he only shies away from the gloating in his head. And listens, instead, to the birds around them, like a prisoner admiring the world through a newly discovered window.

Kazimir's hand drifts up as if to stroke her hair, smoothing back loose golden strands, and then down to stroke her jaw, before she's released. No hand holding, no struggle. "Then come," he says, voice almost kind. "You have a pressing deadline ahead of you." Trusting she will now follow, now that an Achilles heel or two has been located, he starts to move away from the groaning ship carcasses.

There's a shiver as his hand comes up to run over her hair and across her skin. Once released, Odessa backtracks long enough to retrieve her lost shoe and the bags left in the snow. He has won this battle. She was hasty. It'll just take time to regroup and come up with a plan. He can't beat her, can he? Surely he can't. "I don't understand," she says softly when she catches up. "Why me? You could have taken any other doctor and forced them to do what you want. Why have you chosen me?"

His gloved hands find their way back into his pockets as he walks, not watching her as he goes. The compulsion to rest his hand on a cane as he goes is strong, but fading out of a lack of necessity by the day. A car in the distance waits for them, engine on and the silhouette of a driver barely visible through tinted windows. "Why you, Dr. Knutson?" Kazimir asks, and glances back at her with the slightest curl of a smile that could easily be Sylar's. "Fate."

January 13th: By The Way
January 13th: Just A Bad Day
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