Mtoto Tu



Also Featuring:

francis_icon.gif scott_icon.gif

Scene Title Mtoto Tu
Synopsis Swahili, verb; "a mere child."
Date December 28, 2019

The Bunker
Rochester, New York
December 28th
4:03 pm

News travels at different speeds these days. By the time Huruma gets the message from Wolfhound's system, it was already pitch black outside, the air freezing, wind howling. Winter hours. Megan had asked what was wrong, when Huruma went stony-faced. She didn't say. Just Hound business. Perhaps something to do with the Liberty Island break. Must be. What else is there?

A lot, as it turns out. The Hounds are all on edge for so many reasons. Huruma included, though her storm never leaves her body. Jailbreaks always have her wondering, questioning. First Eileen, then a familiar arms-dealer breaking out many of those she had helped lock away…

Huruma leaves the next day, becoming the lead of a caravan over slushy roads, her bigger vehicle leaving treads for smaller ones in her wake. It's a busy highway, or as busy as it gets around here. She doesn't mind. At least she's already starting on a good foot. Can't say what will happen later. Do it now, while her mood is fair.

Because she has the itching feeling that it won't be later.

For now, Huruma pressures thoughts of Liberty Island out, willing Eileen's face back into memory. There are physical parts obscured. Never the inner surfaces.

Arriving is quiet, on the outside. Wind blows a little softer, air still frozen, sky still a mottle of gray. Inside… inside is a heated pool, burbling idly by as Huruma reaches the Bunker gates. Rather than use the front entrance… she parks at the back, pausing inside of her SUV to gauge the limits of her field. Testing the edges with feathery mental touch, results gently pinging back to her with the vibrations of other minds.

He wasn't bullshitting. Not like he is wont to. She isn't quite the same. But… still intimately familiar. There is something more, though. Something Huruma can't place, yet still- - a taste that compliments the other. Similar ingredients? Isn't there? It's a sensation she's felt very rarely. Impressions. Shifts. Tectonic plates in the head, sliding and grinding in passive, slow movement.

Not yet. She never said she was coming, but how could she not? Francois's news- - even all by itself- - would have brought her back here.

Huruma doesn't end up using the front door. What she wants isn't there. Instead she keys her way in at the back, through an access door leading to the garage and hangar.

“…I don’t know, honestly. I never really knew her all that well.” Huruma recognizes Scott’s voice the moment she enters through the side door into the short hall that leads into the garage. “I got nabbed long before all the Bannerman stuff happened and she was long dead by the time Gitelman and Demsky got me out during the war.”

“That book says she was Vanguard though, right?” And there’s Francis’ voice, clear as day. Sounds like father and son are having a bit of a conversation and neither seem aware of Huruma’s presence yet. She can feel the textures of uncertainty and nervousness in their emotions. They’re both waiting for the other shoe to drop. “Like, I know she turned on them, but…”

“That’s her business,” Scott replies in a very Scott way. “If this is really her, if she’s… Christ, I don’t know, cheated death somehow.” He can barely believe he’s saying those words. “It changes a lot. What she did at Bannerman was heroics, the way I’ve heard it. Doesn’t matter who she was… it matters who she is now.”

One voice is plenty to stay Huruma's movements; two is a certainty of her stopping in her tracks. The small corridor is her refuge, at least for a few more moments. Scott and Francis gain an eavesdropper, as she listens in.

Francis was young, then. He wouldn't understand. Scott…well, in his words, he wasn't around. There are only so many now that would recall Bannerman so vividly, and the ones that do never seem to bring it up. Hard to avoid it this time.

Huruma is fine until Scott's last words on the topic; they scratch at the door of her chest like tiny paws, and she stares ahead at nothing, weighing her own words. Harkness' mean the world right now, even if he has no idea.

"If the Vanguard offends you, I have the feeling that you would have not liked me much." Huruma announces her presence by slinking inside and chiming in before either of them notice the feeling of being watched. She's still got the 'boo' factor down pat. That's one thing that's stayed the same. Pale eyes move from Francis, refocusing briefly on the older Harkness.

"It's her." The empath pauses, eyes wandering and roving back. "But not without …peculiarities."

Francis would scream if he hadn’t expelled all the air in his lungs as a breathless gasp with one hand touching the middle of his chest. Sucking in another breath, he slouches back against the workbench at his back, staring at Huruma like she was the Phantom of the Opera come up from the trap door in the stage.

In contrast, Scott looks up from his work inside the Katsch’s engine, sleeves rolled up and grease up his forearms. He’s using a stepladder to get a good angle on the tall vehicle, which puts him — for once — taller than Huruma. “Don’t mind him,” Scott says as he pulls a rag from his back pocket, wiping off his hands, “he ain’t used to getting caught gossiping.”

I wasn’t gossiping,” Francis exhales equally breathlessly, feigning more indignance than he’s really experiencing. “I— was— commenting. On. Matters of importance.” Somewhere in there he slipped into a faux British accent for no discernable reason as well. He swallows that dumb decision down, then flicks a look up to Huruma. “If you’re— ah— looking for Epstein he should be back from the uh…” a glance to Scott, then back to Huruma, “wherever it is he went shortly.”

“He was on foot,” Scott clarifies, “so probably to the corner store.”

If it were another time, Huruma would be absolutely tickled by Francis' near death experience. Right now, she just smiles thinly for him, amused. The expression lingers somewhat for Scott, fading gradually into sobered. One of them has his feet on the ground, figures its the one on the ladder. She fixes her stare on Francis when he offers some sort of consolation for her lurking efforts.

"One," Huruma starts, holding up a finger. "You absolutely gossip, kasuku." Affectionately said. For both of them, said a touch more bitterly, "Two, thank you. Saves me part of the search…" Of course she's here for Epstein, after the news she's gotten in the last twenty-four hours. Gloved hands slip into the pockets of her coat, and a pause errs on the side of caution. "Anything else I should know before I go looking?"

“Did you just call me a catsuit?” Francis says before Scott can elbow him in the side. He does anyway, to which Francis flinches and rubs at the gentle injury, offering his father a puckered expression and a waving gesture meaning it’s a legitimate question in Huruma’s direction. Scott doesn’t think so.

“Unless you want to put those long arms to good use inside the engine,” Scott says as a verbal stampede over any further inquiries from his son, “then I think we’re good here. Go on and do what y’need, we’ve got work t’do.” The latter bit is added for Francis’ benefit, as he hasn’t really started helping in any of this at all.

Huruma does not dignify the question from Francis with an answer. Just a look that says, more than anything, 'you wish'.

"Pass." Huruma prefers to have clothes worth sacrificing if she helps out. The dark woman fishes into a coat pocket and offers something out to Scott before she goes anywhere else; it's just a wristwatch, but she leaves an added, "Found this. I figured it was yours." though she offers zero context. Only a sidelong squint and the restraint of a smile.

"Don't work yourselves too hard." One last good humored jab before her expression sobers up and she turns back to head outside.

Out here she can be silent and stretch those invisible limbs, picking across the grounds like spider legs, following her trek around the compound yard, then towards the nearest street block.

Out here in the winter, under the jaundiced glow of old street lights that turn the snow yellow, there is a sense of urban decay like anywhere else in America. But under the cloudy skies, in the dim light of a setting sun filtered through them, there’s a momentary sense of something else.

Rochester isn’t far from the Mount Moriah Monastery where Juwariya Dunsimi spent time in the years leading up to the civil war, the same monastery that may well still house a former Vanguard member by the name of Amato Salucci. The cold air in Rochester reminds Huruma of that day in Moriah where she first wrapped her arms around Juwariya, where she was reunited with a daughter she thought she’d never see again, close to a decade ago.

Things have changed for everyone in the intervening ten years. It reminds her to call home sometime, to see how everyone is doing, to see if Adam ever raised his head again.


It is startling to hear someone’s voice and not sense them coming, to not feel the presence of another person with sight or sound or empathy until they’re within conversational range. But as Huruma crosses in front of a narrow, dark alley, that is exactly what happens to her.

But it isn’t Avi.


As the mind is prone to wander, so are people. It hadn't taken Huruma long to decide on a circuitous route. Rochester isn't small. She found a wider sense this way.

She doesn't find what she is looking for.

Not in the way she would prefer.

It's not her name that makes her stop in her tracks. It's the way her mental limbs swivel around, curling inward and looming overhead. Invisible to others as it may be, she feels it there, cowed over her head and pinning arachnoid limbs against the alleyway, spreading like veins and searching- - for anything more than the obvious.

The tendrils are pulsing with temptation by the time she lifts her chin and allows herself to turn her head. Despite the shade she has no issue fixing her eyes to his, laser focused and pale, pupils pinned in silent, emotionless assessment.

Some nerve, it says.

“I realize how this must seem,” Adam says with a slow spread of his hands, “after all this time… and… like this.” It’s only then that Huruma notices that she still can’t sense his presence or thoughts. It isn’t like when she tries to read someone like Norton Trask who is a blind spot, it’s like he just isn’t there. “I was… hoping we might be able to talk. Now.”

Taking a step back, Adam beckons Huruma into the alley with the curl of a finger. “You and I we… we have some catching up to do, and the last thing I want is to be interrupted by someone on the street.” But Huruma can tell Adam isnt’ alone in that alley, at least not completely. Her senses pick up someone, at a far distance on the edge of her perception; just a bundle of nerves simmering over a stewpot of anxieties and depression. It doesn’t feel like Adam.

Does he? Does he realize how it seems? She is clearly unconvinced.

She does, however, take a few long, slinking steps into the mouth of the alleyway, eyes glimmering in the half-light.

"…You aren't the one I wanted to choke tonight, but I will take it." Huruma's words catch the hiss of her breath, the field around her climbing across and outward, prickling against a stranger. "But you… are being too much of a coward to come to me yourself, aren't you…?" There is nothing there to miss. Nothing around him. Simply space, from here, to there, reaching through nothing.

Adam knows the twitch of her hands at her sides, the smoke in her voice, the curl of her lip; he also knows the look in her eyes, a contrast to the venom in her frame, a tumult of torn up hurt and confusion. A dare, maybe.

“I need your help,” Adam has the audacity to ask Huruma, after years of silence. “Or rather, I want it. I know I’ve… stayed away. But it was because of the company you keep,” he says with a motion in the direction of Wolfhound’s headquarters. “I felt it might be— I don’t know— inappropriate in ways that aren’t enjoyable.” There’s a flash of a smile, but it quickly dims. In spite of his seemingly glib demeanor, Huruma can sense that other presence out of sight twisting with anxiety and uncertainty.

“Would you be willing to leave?” Adam has the further audacity to ask. “Come with me, with Ben, so we can usher in a better world than… than all of this?” His brows knit together, a hand offered out for whatever good it might do, he can’t really be here. “I know, deep down inside, this isn’t you. Playing soldiers to a government that imprisoned you. Come with me… come talk to Ben. We’ll make a difference, like the good old days.”

"I'm not doing it all for them." is what she snaps between her teeth. Whatever feelings she has for joining Wolfhound, however, she fails to elaborate. Instead, Huruma steps forward to come close to this phantasm.

"We tried that once, misguided as it was and for all the good it did." Her voice lowers and curls defiantly now that she's closed in. If Adam were really there she would absolutely have laid hands on him by now. Spared being held against a brick wall, Huruma looks past him now. "You want a lot, being the one who tried to hurt my family. You know what they mean to me now, or did you forget?"

Getting Huruma past the point of rage into pain is not an easy task, yet the ghost manages, and her features crease in a moment of just that. What he did- - it was not small to her.

"I don't know what Ben is thinking, nor you, and neither of you are here for me to feel the truth of you - -" A clench. "Wanting me. I trust him to speak the truth to my face. So, Adam, love, let's start a trust exercise. Tell me, - -"

"Are you going to show me who your stressed little friend is, or do I look for myself?"

Just like that, Adam is gone. He blows away, like a candle flame in a steady wind.

“I’ve got every reason to be stressed, Huruma…” The voice from the darkness isn’t Adam’s, but it isn’t a stranger’s either. Out from the shadows of bad decisions past, comes another man who should be dead.


“…I can’t read emotions like you can. I had to be sure.” Peter says with an apologetic shrug. “I had to know I could talk to you.”

No answer, and like dust, her chance is gone; it's not that she can't go find him, but his coming to her- -

The twist in her throat soon passes, warping into a cold stake through her sternum, and the angry rush of heat to her face. Now it comes back, the taste and texture, empathic arms digging in.

"Be sure of what?" Huruma hisses, moving forward with a stretching roll of her shoulders, eyes pale even in the dark. "That you still know how to piss me off? Congratulations." Despite her incensed reaction, she still stops at a figurative arm's length, features sharp.

She'd waited ages to say what she said, and in a moment it's been betrayed. Not a good look, Peter.

Peter’s brows tense, shoulders set back and in the dim light of the alleyway he looks even smaller than he already is. There’s droplets of water beaded on the faux-fur collar of his denim jacket from standing under a broken drain while observing from afar. In the silence that passes between he and Huruma, some rolls off like duckfeathers.

“I had to know if you were on his side,” Peter says quietly, brows knitting together. “I’m sorry,” he adds, but he knows that doesn’t really matter right now. “I needed to talk to someone in Wolfhound and… I thought Claire was… but then…” she can feel the twisting knot of emotions inside of him. “I guess she left. You’re the only person I know.” Between his accidental liberation of her from the Company’s Bronx facility, her time in Messiah, and his time as Kazimir Volken during Operation Apollo, Huruma’s interactions with Peter have run an unflattering gamut.

“I think we both want the same thing,” Peter says with a fearful hint of hope. “I think we both need to find Adam.”

"There are never sides." Huruma breathes in through her nose, mouth flattening. Her feelings are complicated, and the longer she stands there, the clearer that is, down to the simmering aink of her voice. "Only reasons."

"Of course we do. You do." Her hand runs up over short hair, mentally slicking away the lingering mixture of hurt and disappointment, but it can't brush off the stinging in her heart. "You underestimate my eyes and ears, Peter." And seemingly mistake her inaction for ignorance. Huruma's voice settles just a touch, a more familiar, steady depth.

"You are supposed to be dead. But so is Gabriel." She has the feeling that circumstances differ. "What is it you hope to happen here?"

Peter slides his tongue across the back of his teeth, then exhales a breathy sigh. “So, you know about Gabriel too…” he says in a hushed tone of voice, forgetting her question at first. “Ah,” Peter starts to say, and Huruma can feel the knot of conflict in his chest on even thinking about the other death-defying man. “Shedda Dinu is back,” is how Peter tries to frame this. “Adam’s at the lead of it, working with Mazdak… I think. Maybe. He’s working on a weapon, Gorgon, it’s a biological agent the US developed during the war.”

The mention of Gorgon sparks a memory in Huruma, of a Wolfhound airstrike on a chemical plant in Maryland. Of the near death of Gillian Childs’ daughter in that same incident on the ground. Gorgon was supposed to be gone.

“I think he’s going to release it somewhere, a city, a… I don’t know.” Peter says with a slow shake of his head. “I have information, but… I don’t know who to trust. Who to talk to. I don’t exactly have a lot of friends anymore, and the people I did like are… they’re gone.” In varying degrees of the word.

"You assume they left." is what she has to say about Shedda Dinu.

"Likely more that Praxis is working with Mazdak, given the weapons." and Gorgon? "The nerve agent was supposed to be gone. You're telling me there was another sample? Or that someone spirited it away?" Huruma's head tilts, wordless when it comes to Peter bemoaning the loss of his friends. His aloneness. She is familiar with that feeling.

Maybe he has already seen the similarity.

Contrasting to her initial reaction to this, she smiles that smile, eyes narrowing and lips curving up. That coy feline aura that some (affectionately) refer to as her know-it-all look. "When you have no one to trust, you take a chance. It's what I do too."

Peter exhales a sigh and hangs his head. “The CDC had a sample, someone named Isis from Shedda Dinu was responsible for the theft, from what I know. Redhead, about this tall,” Peter says with a motion to not much shorter than he is. “I don’t know what happened after that, but I’ve learned that Adam is planning on using it.” As it would seem, exactly how people would expect Adam Monroe would do anything: with a big biological weapon.

“There’s other parts to this, but Shedda Dinu is so cell organized that no one knows what the other person is doing. SESA’s on the case but there’s… I’ve been feeding them intelligence,” is a coy way for Peter to explain his role, “but there’s only so much I can deliver without blowing my cover. Shedda Dinu’s a symptom to a bigger problem, Huruma. But the thing is…” Peter steps to the side and points down the alley, up to the Rochester skyline, up to the tallest building in Rochester with its Art Deco flanges sweeping off the roof.

Peter tracks his eyeline from the iconic Times Square Building to Huruma. “They’ve always been here.

Huruma's gaze follows his gesturing, still as she examines the familiar skyline. But of course. Plain sight. Her full lips purse in irritation. "Rupert had better taste than whoever is there now, I'll tell you that…"

"I know her." Isis. "She ran for Adam before the war too. I believe now she tends bar at Cat's Cradle. Part time." Huruma can't help a soft laugh, easing a stride closer, eyes narrowing. "What Adam plans and what Adam does have always been divergent things."

She would probably know this better than anyone.

"That's one reason we get on so well." Got? She isn't certain anymore, yet- - it's easier to be just a bit deluded, isn't it? Peter of all people ought to relate. "Even with the Shanti strain, it wasn't…" Huruma shakes her head once. That's long past. "Point being… As Dinu compartmentalizes, so does Adam. You think you know, but do you really?"

"I used to be the one who did know." Eyes shade some with the dip of her chin, gaze finally moving from silhouettes to the young man beside her. "He trusted me."

"So what did you have in mind? Have me waltz in there and kick someone off of the throne? Or something more. Subtle."

“If I wanted a hammer I would’ve left a note for Aviators,” Peter says with a roll of his eyes regarding Epstein’s strategy. “If we move now, or too soon, or… I don’t know, without planning, we run the risk of Adam rabbiting for a decade or something. Maybe see what you can find out from Isis, if you think that’ll help. You know your people way better than I do… so when you think it’s time to call in Wolfhound, let them know.“

Shifting his weight to one foot, Peter glances down the dark of the alley, then looks back to Huruma. “I didn’t want… I didn’t want anyone to know I was still alive. But I’m running out of options.” All of his emotions, the complex stewpot of the man in front of her, swirls down a drain to one defining feeling.


“I just have to do one thing right,” Peter says with a look down to the ground, then back up to her again. “I’m… glad you’re someone I can turn to for that. After Apollo, after everything.”

"I doubt she knows much more than you do. If she was behind the physical theft- - then it's likely she was given little except a missive and instructions, lest she be caught. That way… no way of tracing her purpose. Not directly." Huruma's gaze wanders.

It's what she'd do. Need To Know is need to know.

"I expect Gabriel did not want anyone to know either. And yet, there he was, skulking about with the thousand-fold weight of guilt and heartbreak and uncertainty.." Huruma turns her eyes back down to Peter, pointed with her words. "Perhaps it is high time both of you step off of your high horses and realize that you're not as significant as you imagine you are."

"People may hate you, but what do you gain from hiding? You needed to trick me into talking to you. Whatever choices you've made do not matter as much as the ones you are making. Others may not be able to see it that way, but I cannot fault them for it…" That said,

"I'm glad that you're smart enough to see that." Huruma shows her verbal cheek, for just a moment. "When the pressure of doing one thing right becomes too much… we do the next right thing."

Peter makes a noise in the back of his throat, and Huruma can feel his reluctance to agree with the feeling of relief they give. He withdraws, if only just, deeper within the scratchy hairshirt of guilt. “Gabriel,” Peter murmurs, eliciting a pang of something more complex in the emotional threads Huruma feels unraveling around her, “yeah.”

Reluctantly, he takes a step forward and nods. “You’re probably right about Isis. I… I was never good at this sort of thing. I just know what has to be done.” Wherein that moment, Huruma feels Peter’s emotions clarify at once into a single and simple point; determination. As someone with decades of experience with her ability, she has only ever seen that dispersal of emotions happen on one other occasion…

…when someone was acting in accordance with a subliminal telepathic command.

She knows this was never his thing.

He was a healer, not a soldier, when this all began.

He still wants to heal, in his own way, in the only way he knows anymore.

The empath's eyes meet Peter's at the precise moment she feels the whetstone against the scores of his brain, shaping the field of his emotions flat, sharp, cutting away the fat. Huruma's pupils shift on their own, pools of black on moon-white pinning into drops of ink. Her jaw squares.

One arm lifts up with a twitch, and Peter Petrelli feels the heat of a hand at the back of his neck before he gets jerked closer. Huruma's nails bite softly into skin, and her eyes never leave his, somewhat luminous.

Nothing vocalizes.

Inside, a cacophony, as the empath takes a chisel and hammer to the broadside of his determination, puncturing through to the other side and attempting to pull those pieces apart like fistfuls of putty.

Determination is riddled again with doubts, trepidation, fear, apprehension, nerves, a distant wistful desire, a compassion warm in his chest, the rise of wonder, the familiar empathic yearning- -


For a moment there is nothing but silence, nothing but a look of shock and dismay on Peter’s face that melts away to something flat, neutral and contented. But that soon too fades into the tempest of doubt, uncertainty, and the capability to question all of the things that he was so absolutely certain about.

But something changes in Peter, erupts from inside of him like a star going supernova a thousand light-years away. It is a blossoming of emotions that overwhelm his own, a surging sea of feelings intense and wild, tempestuous as a child’s are. Someone who feels intensely without fully understanding why they feel. It is loneliness, anger, remorse, betrayal, fear, and frustration spiraling down into a black hole of unbridled rage that threatens to consume Huruma over the edge of its event horizon, from which there is no escape.

No,” Peter says in a voice that is not his per-se, though it sounds like someone trying to speak through his throat that has never used his vocal cords before. It comes laced with the trembling insecurities of a child having a toy taken away from them, of a young thing unable to share, fearful and not understanding of the greater complexities at play. It is not a command, it is a desperate plea.

And in that plea Huruma sees, for the briefest of moments, a shift in Peter’s brown eyes.

To gold.

Two Hours Later

Huruma jolts awake, as if from a momentary nightmare. The familiar surroundings of the Bunker are tall walls of concrete, the personal decorations of her room in tokens of past missions, Malagasy art, and keepsakes from friends long since gone are a comforting thing to see when her eyes open. But the rabbit-pace of her heart tells her that something is wrong. It takes her a moment for the disorientation to fade, for the confusion to bleed into something more like the certainty of experience. The analog clock on the wall by the door is too far ahead from what she last recalls the time being. She is in bed, clothes from the day neatly stacked in a hamper, blankets tousled just so.

It was all a dream would be a comforting lie. But Huruma isn’t certain that it was. Which leaves a more terrible possibility. It was real…

…and she has no idea how she got back to the Bunker.

Remnants of images on awakening so often take shape of the last played notes of dreams; not this time, not entirely. Sad brown eyes and wet fur. Synapses firing. Betrayal. Adam.

Huruma has earned her adrenaline, as it shoots her upward in the tangle of her bed. All she hears is the rush of blood in her ears, and all she sees is the lingering blue eyes being the last to leave.

Air moves in through her nose and down to the expanse of lungs against the muscle of her back, cycling once and purging an exhale from between her lips. One more. Two more. The mind wanders as her heart slows, gaze unfocused as the empath claws at details quickly fading from her grasp. Breathing rhythm turns into a simmering hiss as her teeth clench tightly together.

A rage dwells deeper down, under that cartilage of frustration.

She can't hold onto it. Not fully.

The mental vertigo sweeps over her thoughts, an unbidden recall of her sleeplessness; the tipping point of standing at the edge of an abyss, temptation pulsing, coaxing her to look. So that it can look back.

It's not the gold she sees first, though. It is another set of light eyes, ghostly blue, that draw her to them. Wide and fearful in the din of a busy street. Then the echoes of a tantrum. Frustrated despair and confusion and a begging desperation- -

The bitter taste is intimately familiar. A charcoal rubbing of her own distant years.

Huruma swings her legs from the shelter of her bed, feet on the floor as she tucks her head under the lacing of her hands, fingers on her neck and thumping heart calming.

"Mtoto tu."

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