Like Forces Of Nature


abby6_icon.gif howard_icon.gif shannon_icon.gif

Scene Title Like Forces of Nature
Synopsis Losing control of himself, Howard Phillips finds a kindred spirit on an island of strangers.
Date November 19, 2010

Pollepel Island

Howard Phillips has been likened to a wounded animal before, once, by someone he loved.

The analogy fits.

Not into the castle, but deeper inland into the woods was Howard's eventual path of flight, picking up speed as he crashed through the forested hills of Pollepel Island like a wounded deer running from a hunter. Nothing quite so dramatic truly was happening, but Howard's flight seems spurred by that same instinctual fear that a wounded animal has. The need to be away, the need to be safe, the need to isolate.

Abigail Beauchamp's welcome to Pollepel is perhaps as unusual as much of the rest of her life has been up until this point. Somewhere between the groundskeeper's house on the hill and the main castle, the forest is thick with skinny, leafless trees in uneven terrain of rocky hills and a bare rock cliff. Unaware of Shannon following Abby at a distance and unaware of Abby following him, Howard has found his spot to curl up and lick his wounds.

Except that unlike an injured animal, Howard Phillips has already done all the healing he'll ever be able to do. The rest, is just agony.

That he is in pain is evident as Abby draws nearer to the short ridge of rocks dusted with autumn leaves that she knows Howard disappeared over. In the morning light, she can't see him for the shallow ravine he now lays curled up in. His jacket is on the forest floor, shed from his body during his flight, smoking on the inside where black pieces of charred fabric look to have been burned. It's a stripping she knows well, personally.

When Howard screams, it's strangled behind clenched jaws, followed by the electrical snap of live wires exposed to air and grounding out. Cresting the low ridge atop the rocks, Abby can see howard, shirtless and curled into the fetal position, eyes wrenched shut, mouth open and pale blue light shining out from inside. He's choking on his own breath, gasping for screams that he's trying to hold in.

Electricity arcs over his body in snapping bolts, voltage buzzing noisily through his flesh. Down Howard's back, however, something glows through his skin. A pockmarked series of scars trail down his spine on either side, looking like puckered scars. Each of them is shedding visible light that is shadowing his spinal column through his skin, electricity burning beneath his flesh as well as outside.

That he is in agony is clear. The why… not so much.

What one wouldn't give for a negator right now.

Or maybe heavy rubber gloves because the bottom of her hiking boots are rubber at least. Her teeth gnaw on her lower lip, looking down at him, trying to figure out what to do. She has got something to help him, but that requires touching him, getting him to swallow something. The medical toolbox plopped down, she's digging through the EMT bag for the dozens of orange bottles, shaking out some pills from a couple of them, dumping them into one empty container so that she doesn't jsut drop them in the ravine. "Hey" She doesn't know his name. "Listen. My name is Abigail. I have something for you, that'll help, but I need to be able to hadn you something without getting fried. Cause I'm fairly sure that if I get fried, you'll end up fried" She's trying to make a joke as she grabs a bottle of water, wedges it under her belt and starts to head down into the ravine.

"I mean, not that you're not getting fried already but… I have some negation drugs that I can spare you" Peace offering.

Shannon isn't following Abby. First impressions last, and her first impression of Abby wasn't a pleasant one. But she's not a cruel woman, most of the time, and so she has a need to apologize to Howard for putting him in pink, frilly granny panties. Even if he did sort of deserve it. A little bit. At the time.

She comes up behind the other woman, essentially ignoring her completely as she circles around Howard, frowning at him. Okay, so mention of negation drugs gets Abby a very dirty look before Shannon's looking back down at Howard. She has a different tactic in mind for diffusing the situation. "Howard? You need to calm down. Is there something wrong, or are you just…I was a bitch, I know, but if you're just worked up, you need to calm down. Got a favorite spot? You can be there, if it'll help. Just tell me what it is," she says in a voice very soothing and comforting, adding to it with the warm scents of a kitchen at Thanksgiving. A very homey smell.

Of course the cook goes for comfort foods.

Breathing sharply through his nose, Howard looks up with a panicked expression when he sees Abigail coming down the ravine. "No— " he hisses thorugh his teeth, "j— just— just stay— s— stay back!" Lifting up a hand to try and warn her away, a fat bolt of electricity jumps from Howard's outstretched hand to land down on the ground nearby, causing the dried leaves he's laying in to smolder and smoke. His hands tremble, muscles twitch and back arches as his eyes close tightly and mouth opens to let out a choked back groan of pain as lightning arcs over the roof of his mouth, illuminating his teeth.

Tears stream down the sides of Howard's face as he rolls onto his back, hearing Shannon's voice but not entirely seeing her. "Fff," he tries to say something, but it turns out that, "/fffuck— off" is all he was trying to vocalize to Shannon as his fingers curl into the dirt.

She wants to ask him about his happy place, he is trying to speak through blinding pain.

What both of the women here notice, is that the sounds of electrical discharge are getting louder and the period between each snap is getting shorter.

Fuck off, isn't going to happen. Standing back when he's starting to really give it off, is seeming to be the course of action, tilting her head a fraction and coming to some internal realization. In fact, Abby's turning around, heading back up to higher ground. Shannon can stay down there if she wants, the new Brunette's going to wait.

Of course the one thing Shannon can't illusion up is a lack of pain. Go figure.

Shannon stays back a respectable distance, but crouches down, frowning as she watches Howard. First tactic didn't work, but she has one more to try. Just one more. Then her form shimmers a little and when it stops, she looks like Benji. They're close, maybe seeing Benji will help, right? 'He' glances up to Abby and a brief internal struggle is waged before 'Benji' says, "Have the pills ready." It even sounds like Benji! "Howard, dude, you gotta calm down. I know it hurts, but you gotta chill, get control of it. I mean, you don't wanna fry your buddy Benji, do ya?" Because there is no way that Shannon wants to see the forest set on fire or a guy killed. It might delay her getting off the island!

Oh, the complexities of that relationship.

That Howard is laughing is probably not fair. Maybe if Shannon had been further out of sight when she posed as Benji, maybe if she didn't just have his soft-spoken voice, but also his method of speech. Maybe if he was Benji, he'd know to stay clear when Howard is starting to hum like a bug zapper set on high.

The bitter laugh abruptly ends when all of the buzzing, crackling and humming starts to die down as well. Steam rises off of Howard as — instead of a bang — he just fizzles out, like a dying battery. Sparks crackle and pop off of his body, frizz his wavy hair, and eventually he's just laying on a pile of scorched leaves, some new holes burned in his cargo pants, electricity popping and sputtering around his unusual necklace.

Swallowing tightly, Howard doesn't speak, not right away. All he does for the first few minutes after his 'attack' ends, is stare up at the sky thorugh the branches of the stickbare trees overhead. Then, does he admit, "Don't you people know nothin' about a man's privacy?"

If what she thinks is about to happen, is going to happen, negation pills will just be something for after. Not for during and may not even be needed. Not now. Abby stays hunkered up on the ridge and waits. Shannon can learn for herself. If anything about her new ability has taught her, it's that when someone says to back off and they're showing signs of some ability going off like his is, or about to go off, you back off. It's how Abby's managed not to singe people and only a few pieces of furniture.

Melt a few shower curtains.

"This many people on the island. I think it'll be pretty scarce. At least most of your clothing still remains when you come out of it" Lopsided smile. "I can leave the drugs and a fresh sweater up here if you like"

Another shimmer and Shannon is Shannon again, and shrugging. "Figured you'd want a witness if you burnt yourself up." She straightens and moves to grab his coat and offer it to you. "And before that. Well, I came to apologize. You were being a dick, but I misjudged how to deal with it." It's not the best apology in the world, but it sounds sincere. Ish.

"S'my natural state of being," Howard attests with a wipe of his wrist over his eyes to clear away the tears. Abigail is familiar with the I'm an asshole so it's okay defense, very Flint Deckard of an excuse. "I didn't… come out of it either, I stopped. If I'd gone all the way I'd sure as shit be dead." Swallowing tightly, Howard lifts one hand up to self-consciously rake his hair back from his facem looking up to Shannon and then over to Abby.

"You two really shouldn't have seen that…" Howard laments as he crawls to his knees, shakily, then drops back down to them after an abortive attempt at standing. Hands on his thighs, he just leans forward, muscles in his arms still twitching. "Don't— you ever try and pretend to be him again," is Howard's grumbled warning as he touches his forehead to the leaves, then shivvers as gooseflesh prickles his arms. "Fuck it's cold out here now."

As opposed to a few minutes ago, apparently.

"Come on up. if you sit near me I can turn up my temperature a little. Might help" No apology forthcoming from Abigail about having been there and seen it. There will be time to ask later what it was, what to do to help in the future. She dangles the water between her knee's, one finger bent under her hand to play with her wedding band, turn her gaze away to give him a chance to get his jacket on.

Shannon shrugs. "I was trying to help. Don't try to go all electrical shitstorm again and I won't have to. And seriously, if you're gonna be a dick, if it's your natural state of being, then you should totally learn to get as good as you give. Thicker skin and all that." She's not very good at this apology thing, is she? "Your meltdown was pretty impressive though. I'd hate to get on your bad side in a fight. Loss of control from embarrassment?"

Taking the jacket, Howard offers a look to Shannon that had brows furrowed and one raised as if she might have suddenly been speaking in a language he didn't understand. Once the jacket is on, Howard zips it shut and tucks his hands into the front pockets, shoulders hunched forward. "It was the fuckin' heat," he explains with a jerk of his head towards Abigail, "I don't do so good with the heat after I've been holding in a charge for too long. I just— I lose it, then shit starts spiraling out of control, and I do that."

Climbing up to his feet, Howard scuffs his boots in the leaves. "Glad I impressed you," sounds like bitter sarcasm, but Howard's attention flicks down to Abigail's wedding band, then back up to her with a puzzled expression, as if he just recognized her.

Ultimately, Howard says nothing on the topic, just looks away and down to his feet, then up to Shannon. "You got your power, nice and pretty. Some kinda' telepath or illusion chick. Real sweet. You ever use it on reflex? It happens, t'all of us. Mine? My ability kills me, and it just wants t'be used."

A glance is angled back to Abby, and there's a look in Howard's eyes — ever so brief — that seems to imply sympathy before he looks back to Shannon. "It's like sneezing. What if one day you found out, the next time you sneezed, you'd fucking die. You'd be scared shitless of it. That's what it's like t'be me."

Howard waves one hand in the air. "One day, poof. I'm gone."

"Ahh. The heat. Sorry. Like your.." Abigail gestures to him. "Refelx. I'll try to reign it in better next time" She doesn't notice the flick to her hand, the recognition does make her furrow her brows in puzzlement. He seems fine though, perky in that Flint Deckard sort of way except minus the whiskey smell and leer. The sympathy is to a degree, weirding her out. The bottle of water is plopped down on the ridge, the little orange bottle with the five pills that constitute a dose of negation drugs and she's unfolding from where she was sitting, picking up her two bags to let the two bicker and rub rough.

An accusing look is shot towards Abby before Shannon looks back to Howard and her head tilts. "I'd suggest you not hold in a charge for too long then. Go someplace safe every so often and just cut loose for a minute to get rid of some of the buildup. But hey, you don't like me 'cause I pulled a prank. No big. I'll just scamper on and wait for my chance to get the hell off this island. Later," she says, shrugging and starting to walk off in the general direction of the pier. She hopes.

Howard's mouth opens, about to say something to Shannon, but her departure gives him just enough excuse not to say it. Mouth closing, his brows furrow and he shakes his head, exhaling a deep breath out of his nose. "Yeah…" is half-heartedly murmured on Shannon's departure, somewhere deep down inside, maybe he honestly hoped she'd meant that apology. Maybe he was going to give thanks, or maybe he was just going to mouth off to her again. The difference won't be known in the crunch and crash of Shannon's footfalls breaking deadfall branches as she marches through the woods.

At least she chose the right direction.

"Heard about you," Howard offers quietly as he looks out of the corner ofhis eyes to Abby. "You're the one what turns into a big ole ball of Jesus fire, aren't you?" One brow lifts, blue eyes square on the paramedic, and Howard holds out his hands for that bottle of water finally.

"That's pretty cool," he admits with a crooked smile. Apparently, for someone she does not know, he's well informed.

"Hope it wasn't all bad." Abigail watches Shannon go, likely off to help with the stuff from the boat and up to the castle. "Yeah though, that's me. Baptismal fire at inconvenient times. Makes for more than a few jokes. A necessity for cheap clothing too" Duffel bag is dropped, picking up the bottle of water, letting him take it before the negation drugs are offered out. "If you need them. Takes about five minutes to kick in. I have more, but not too much more. I don't have much, I squirreled what I could before I ran but, if you find you need some more, find me and let me know?" She offers her hand out to him. "Abigail Caliban. I never got your name'

"Caliban?" Howard queries as he looks down to the bottle of pills, brows furrowed anxiously. "No I… really shouldn't take your meds. It'll just be like, fuck, temporary relief. The fuck'd you get that anyway, you got some kinda' hotline to the Institute or something?" One of Howard's brows raise as he considers Abby, and takes just the water bottle from her.

As he unscrews the cap, Howard thirstily drinks down the bottle, tipping it up and chugging fast enough that water is dribbling down his chin and the front of his throat, as if he hadn't had anything to drink in far too long. The proverbial parched man in the desert.

When he's finished the entire bottle, squeezed it dry with a crinkle of the plastic, Howard wipes his mouth off with his sleeve and pitches the plastic bottle over his shoulder to land in the leaves with every clear intention of just letting it lay there. "Thanks," sounds sincere, despite his littering.

"Freshly married. Beauchamp is likely the more… familiar last name I'm guessing" She watches him guzzle the water and from her bag, produces a second bottle, offering it up. "Institute I think has the negation drugs that aren't a pain in the arse to get off of. I just have them because I needed them. In case I'm having a really bad day and I can't afford to just find a place to implode" She hasn't imploded in a while but more out of necessity.

"Keep those though, really, Don't worry about whether I have enough. You never know when you might need them." She turns, moving to pick up the empty bottle, tuck it away in her bag to use it later, refill it with water. "So what do I call you? Sparky might be a bit offensive, like if you'd called me hot stuff. You know my name, what I can do, but, I don't know your name. Should I know your name? I'm sorry if I should, I haven't been in a position to do much Ferrywise the last month and change'

Howard palms the pill bottle uneasily, hearing the few pills inside rattling around. Her question goes unanswered for a second time as he offers her a wary look, then tucks the bottle into the right front pocket of his jacket. "Howard," is worriedly offered to Abigail, as if he were uncomfortable about delivering his name to her. "Howard Phillips, and I ain't nobody special… really. Not like you, at least."

Reaching up a hand to scrub at the back of his neck, Howard furrows his brows thoughtfully. "I ain't been in with you folks for longer than the riots. Got picked up by that cowboy talking ya-hoo. Me an' my bro Benji… kinda' effemininite," he explains with a wrist-bend motion, "girly-guy with the mop of brown hair, kinda' quiet. Me, him, and Hannah," whom he doesn't elaborate on at all, "lucked out and got rescued by your people."

Scuffing his feet in the burned leaves, Howard's nose rankles. "You'd like Hannah. She's sweet, like an apple with a razor blade in it. Don't bite down too hard."

"I'm special?"

That prompts a laugh, small as it might be. "Pain in the ass some might say. But beyond that kind of special, I dunno. I'm just Abigail " Benji, Howard, Hannah. "I was busy delivering a baby, I lucked out in that I didn't get executed with a bunch of others. Had to leave my husband if I want a chance to actually see him again some day. Don't know if I'll ever be able to. Made my way here. See what I can do to help before I disappear" The apple and razor blade bit. There's a smile at that. "Dunno if'n I'd much like the whole razor blade part, but, I tend to get along with most folks. key word Most.

And there's her free hand offered, something that she doesn't tend to do, but is trying to really make the effort. "It's nice to meet you Howard Phillips. I'm sorry you got caught up in all this. Have patience, a bit of faith, and we'll get you back to your home, back to your life. When you're back in Manhattan, go find oh so sweet, look for the red haired smokestack of a woman and tell her the nun sent you for some free dessert. She'll feed you good" Least that she can do for being the cause of his embarassment.

That much elicits an askance look from Howard to Abby, mention of the redhead and the bakery. It's almost like he wasn't — or was — especting it. "I ain't the one with the faith," he explains with a bit of smug satisfaction, despite himself. "Hannah's the God Girl, been that way ever since I knew her. You want to talk about faith, sure, talk t'her. Me? I'm kinda' my own man, make my own way… for all the fuckin' good it's done me, right?"

There's a dry laugh as Howard exhales a shaky sigh. "Maybe I'm wrong, one day I'll burn down to a crisp and God will be there to set me fucking straight. Saint Parker or whoever's at the pearly gates, waggin' his finger. Whatever. I'll ask him why I got sixteen steel rods in my fucking skeleton, see what kinda' cute answer he gives me, right?"

Howard flicks a look over to Abigail, his brows furrow, and he slowly shakes his head. "Sorry, that was fuckin' rude'a me."

"Well see, now what I saw back there makes total sense. And.. maybe he wanted you to know what it was like to be a lightening rod?" She stoops to pick up the medical kit, a pretty good idea as to why he wasn't about to lift stuff. "Yup, I'm pretty sure he wanted you to know what a lightening rod goes through. But then again, I'm not him and I have some questions of my own for him. Like, why he wanted me to become a human bonfire. Let us hope that we don't visit him anytime soon hmm?"

She glances towards the castle, look back towards the boats then castle again. "Walk with me? Or are you gonna go do your own thing. There's probably some fresh clothes. Remind me to share the embarassment and turn into said jesus fire. I haven't done it in a long time, I can feel it itching. Nearly went off on Cat as it was"

The first smile Howard has given — the first one that wasn't for show — is elicited by Abigail. It's a sheepish one, humble and shy, coming with a scruff of his hand at the back of his neck. "Keepin' the jacket," he insists in jest, "had this since I was born. Was the first thing I was wrapped in once they got me cleaned off, ain't never gonna' get rid of it." Compliance to Abby's request to walk goes unspoken, Howard just starts walking, then stops and turns with one brow raised expectantly.

"You're lucky," Howard implies with a bow of his head. "You can still transform. I'm actually…" he seems embarrassed by it, maybe more ashamed. "I used t'be like you. I was living fucking lightning, could blast around at the speed of goddamned light, like a fucking force of nature, you know?" He taps his knuckles on his chest.

"Institute got me," comes shortly after that, his eyes distant, "'round about…" he shakes his head, "mom was gone, s'all that matters. I didn't have shit left, and they got me. Did this to me," and on that, Howard holds out one of his arms and points to a long scar on the inside of his arm. "Now I can't change. It's like— imagine being a tall guy in a room with a low ceiling, and never bein' able to stretch your back out."

Howard's eyes cast down to his feet. "That's me."

"It's like… being in an emergency room and all the broken arms, and the hurts, the aches, the pains, the broken tickers that just need a little help to fix that muscle, or just a couple hours to give back an arm that cancer took and all the people just looking at you, expecting it and all you can do is hold your hands up and show them that nothing comes" Abby bobs her head, adjusting her load.

"I wasn't always jesus fire. I used to be his healing hand. Till someone took it away. I came across the fire when I tried something, hoping I'd get it back so I could help a friend." She offers the smile to him, carrying up the path, looking out for anyone who might appear. She's got some people she needs to talk to.

"But you are right. I am lucky. I can change. That was… a pretty crappy thing that they did to you. They give a reason or just… an experiment" He tossed the jacket, saved the jacket. Like she'd have done with her wedding ring and engagement ring so it didn't melt. "I bet you were a beautiful thing to behold Howard. Maybe some day, you will be again. The world works funny that way"

"I was gonna' be a battery," Howard explains with a raise of his brows, striding over the rocks beside Abby, shoulders hunched forward, voice hushed and seemingly reserved just for thw two of them. "They wanted to hook me up to some fucking machine, like a big goddamned battery. Those bars used to stick out of my back," and as he says that, Howard stops, crouching down to pick up some brown pine needles off of the forest floor, letting them protrude from between his fingers. "Like that."

Howard frowns, brows furrowed, then just drops the needles down and starts walking again. "Can't imagine what it's like t'lose an ability though, forever. That's some seriously screwed up shit. M'sorry it happened t'you too… people like us, we've gotta be proud of what we are. Can't let the fucking people in power get us down, make us feel ashamed of what we can do."

Howard presses his tongue to the side of his cheek, feeling a burn there, wincing. "Nobody's ever said nothin' nice about me 'fore. Not, well, since my folks. Means a lot t'hear that…" blue eyes track down to the ground as he steps out of the treeline and on to a leaf-strewn path leading towards the bird-laden crumbling walls of Fort Bannerman.

"You love him?" It's an entirely too personal and abrupt question asked by Howard, and his eyes flick down to Abigail's ring. "Your guy?"

It tears at her stomach, to hear him ask it. Not because she doesn't like that he asked it. It's because she's heard it a few times in conjunction with his name. "I love him enough to run. So that they didn't come to our home and shoot him because he happened to be home with me. I love him despite his faults, despite his past. I love him because he loves me, because Robert brings me grocery store flowers and loves my spaghetti and my world is better with him in it"

She's going to cry. She needs to not cry so she looks up, blinking hard. "Sorry. Just.. Not been married long and now I have to run, and I would rather be at his side. We're not the most conventional couple. I'll see him some day. We'll be together again and till then I'll just have to pray to the lord that he's safe, you know. Be thankful for what little time I had with him"

Howard looks reproachful for having even brooched the topic, swallowing tensely and looking away with an ashamed expression. Nodding, he manages a faint smile, if only for her adamancy. "If you love somebody, and they love you back, ain't no distance that can ever keep you apart. But I say, if there's a will to be together, there's a way." Howard smiles faintly, looking back towards Bannerman Castle.

"I… gotta go back inside. There's a girl down in the infirmary, got blinded by an explosion durin' the riots. I…" Howard swallows tensely, then looks back to Abby. "She's kind've a friend. Promised her I'd keep her company… since she ain't got nobody but that Petrelli fucker down there t'talk to her when the Doc ain't around."

Howard rolls his shoulders, then exhales a sigh through his nose. "Thanks for… makin' sure I didn't go nuclear or something." Then, with a rattle, he raises the pill bottle out of his pocket. "Thanks for the drugs too."

"Peter's here?" Because what other Petrelli would be here. She seems surprised. "And you're right. It'll make the meeting though, that much sweeter." She hasn't forgotten that he's got bars in him, that they were gonna hook him up. Institute. "I'll join you, bring my medicines there for the others. You can show me the way since I suspect I'll be down there. I heard that Megan's not got a lot of knowledgable help." A glance to the drugs and a gentle shrug. "You can pay me back if you find me up and wandering at odd hours and I look like I"m gonna blow or you know, about to make a fool of myself Howard, deal?" No mention of sharing the negation drugs, it's unspoken welcome.

There's that smile again, somehow Abigail has a way of getting thorugh to him. "Yeah, Peter Petrelli," is said as if he holds something of a grudge there, though not a terribly recent one. "He's somewhere around here, dunno where. I saw him moping in the galley when everyone was having dinner…" Howard's brows crease together, blue eyes track to Abby, then back to the castle again.

"C'mon, it's like a goddamned maze in there, I'll give you the rat's-eye tour of this place. Ain't got much variety in food, beds suck but there's running water and I hear that guy who never takes off his sunglasses is takin' about making a still, so maybe me, you and my bro Benji can get shitfaced."

And as Howard starts to tread ahead of Abby to lead the way, hands folded behind his head, he adds with a joking smile.

"Right after we get you an asbestos suit."

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