Mutually Exclusive


gabriel_icon.gif sarisa_icon.gif

Scene Title Mutually Exclusive
Synopsis Sarisa gets Gabriel's attention.
Date November 29, 2009

Cliffside Apartments: Rooftop

From the third story rooftop of Cliffside Apartments, the dirty and gray skyline of Long Island City comes into full view. Surrounded on all sides by industrial complexes, warehouses and factories, this converted mill building views little more than a sea of concrete and glass. To the northwest, the jagged skyline of Manhattan shows the bristling and broken husks of buildings ruined by the bomb, half visible in their gutted states.

The roof itself is spacious, and like man apartment complexes features a small community garden of vegetables in black plastic bins. Tomatos, carrots, cucumbers and an assortment of other easy to grow plants are shared by the tenants, originally planted by the building owner back before the bomb. Some old and worn patio furniture has been brought up onto the roof as well to allow modest relaxation, though much of it is usually occupied by the innumerable birds that seem to gravitate to the building. Ravens, mostly, perch upon the ledges and furniture during most hours of the day and night.

It had started raining after Gabriel had come here to wait, standing at the edge of the rooftop and watching the rest of Queens sprawl out before him, industrial and abandoned at this dusky hour. From this vantage point, with no one on the streets thanks to the steady drizzle of water from the bruise-colour sky, the entire city seems as desloate as the former almost-home of the Old Dispensary. Teo, Peter and Gabriel are the smarter breed of rat. The government has three warm Remnant bodies, and even if they seal their mouths shut against spilling truths to those who keep them, there are other ways of extracting information.

He's been around. Not in his clock shop, not in the burned-marred building that had once been PARIAH's stomping ground— no where of note. This place, though, holds a certain significance.

Stale now, though. No more FBI agents live here, no more clusters of Vanguard, unwitting augmentors. It's been a hell of a year, and he stands here now, unsure if it's full circle. Gabriel draws his shoulders up a little with his back to the rooftop doorway, hands braced on the concrete ledge, head ducked to the rain that clings to raven-dark hair and dampens his coat, bringing out musty smells of someone who is in dire need of a proper home to return to.

Always the stalking cat, he is. It's the first thing that crosses the mind of the only other visitor up there on the windy rooftop. An umbrella opens as soon as it exits the doorway to the stairs, shielding the blonde hair of a darkly dressed woman coming out — alone — to meet one of the world's most dangerous men. Desperate times, after all, call for desperate measures.

"I wasn't sure if there was anything we could do to get your attention, Mister Gray." Under the shadow of that umbrella, Sarisa Kershner's pale blue eyes seem almost luminescent when the dim light of the city hits them. Her shoes crunch the gravel underfoot on the rooftop, and she stops at the middle of the span; door at her rear and Gabriel at her fore. "I wish it could have been under better circumstances. I think you and I would get along much better when we aren't flashing our teeth at each other…" then, with a crooked smile she adds, "or maybe if we just got to the biting?"

Any minute now, black wasp helicopters are going to descend from the sky and spirit him away. Gabriel kind of feels like his useless, tinny threats down the phoneline about what he would do if they tried any such thing are just that — useless, echoing down a mechanical channel into nothing and empty ears. He turns to her when the door opens, back straight and head at a sassy kind of tilt as much as his eyes are flat beneath his prominent brow, a hand up to scrub at his face before he takes a step towards her.

"You couldn't take it if we did." His teeth are a white, glistening slice beneath tight lips of a temper restrained. His arms lift up from their slack at his sides, hands turning out in a lazy, if painstakingly deliberate shrug. "You have my attention."

"Holden, Ruskin and Raith are in our custody but in good hands. We have no intention of harming them, provided that they play ball with us." Those blue eyes of Sarisa's narrow a touch. "I'll be frank with you, Gabriel, there's people who fought me tooth and claw on keeping the three of them alive, and if it weren't for Petrelli suddenly coming to his senses after a conversation with Richard Cardinal, I don't think any of them would be seeing anything other than the barrel of a gun."

Staring down the proverbial beast with a hesitant smile, Sarisa takes another step closer, lifting her umbrella up to keep it at Gabriel's height, sheltering him under it with her. "Your country needs you…" she says in a tone that almost sounds sarcastic. "I want to bring you in and turn you loose against the Vanguard, in exchange for…" she shrugs a shoulder, "I'm willing to bet you get the idea already?"

The passing of the umbrella over his head gets nothing. It could well have been just another cloud crawling across the sky for all Gabriel cares as he angles his gaze down at her. A stalking cat, and he almost smells like one too, if one were rained on. He does allow for a flicker of reaction, though, at her subtle sarcasm with a crook up of one eyebrow to cast doubt on the notion that the government needs him anywhere but a ditch, newspost, retired list.

"A medal? The ability to talk out of this building alive?" He speaks seriously, as if perhaps he weren't the powerful one on this rooftop, and his confidence is instead a brand of nihilism. It's a fine line to walk. "My friends lives, a second chance? You might have to spell it out for me, Kershner. There isn't a lot the government can do for someone like me."

"I don't think we'll be pinning any medals on you, ever, not as long as you wear that face." Sarisa motions with her nose up to Gabriel, the sound of the rain pattering down hard on the umbrella's surface. "Right now, the offer on the table is that they get to live long enough to prevent a nuclear warhead from killing the rest of us." Her head tilts to the side, "but some of the others are being offered a clean slate as it were. The details are still being defined, but that could encompass you too, Gabriel."

Brushing one gloved thumb over the crook of her umbrella, Sarisa's eyes upturn towards Gabriel's, then flit out to look at the city's murky skyline. "With a clean slate, or a new face… imagine the things you could do. We could use someone with your skills in FRONTLINE." Blue eyes level back on Gabriel, "would that be a trick? Turning the Midtown Man into a defender of the peace?"

The irony isn't lost on Gabriel. It's as he was told, that no one can give him permission to be happy, and perhaps the sponsorship of the American government is the first brick laid of that road. The future certainly says so. Humour writes itself almost shyly on Gabriel's features, softening his hawkish profile and steady glare as he angles damp eyelashes— damp everything, the rain a soaking, insidious thing— down to regard the space between them.

When he looks back up at her, his eyes are frostier than before. "I was fine, before you people." This condemnation stands alone and solid, but only for a few drawn out seconds of rain-filled silence before Gabriel asks, flatly, "What happens if I refuse?"

"Maybe we kill Ruskin, Holden and Raith." Sarisa plays the hints of a smile dance across the corners of her mouth. "Maybe we never let you know what we did to them? You don't really want to play that game with us though, because I know how much she means to you." There's a step closer, and Sarisa's free hand lifts up, one gloved fingertip pressing a leathery touch to the center of the taller man's chest. "From the moment you and I shook hands at that ball, I've known your darkest little secrets, your hopes, your dreams, your fears?" She makes it sound questioning, as if she's not being entirely honest with how much she knows, or she's leaving him to wonder just how much of it is true.

"You like playing the advantage, and right now you have none." Her lips purse to the side, "besides, Gabriel, deep down inside… all you've ever wanted is to be special." There's that old familiar sting, that familiar twist of an old knife-wound. "Preventing a nuclear apocalypse, that's pretty special. Not many people get to have that both ways."

You have to admit. It would be nice to save the world in a capacity that isn't accidental. Gabriel manages not to step back when she touches him, perhaps having faith in the buffering effect of her leather glove and his sweater. "Maybe you don't want to make me your enemy," he puts in, and it's all posturing. Still, if there's one thing he's good at—

It's that. Sarisa finds her hand withdrawing from him, frozen in a psychic grip that wraps tight around the handle of the umbrella too, stiffens her back, her legs, crawls like growing frost up her throat to make her jaw set still against her words. She can breathe and she can blink. "If you know everything about me," Gabriel says, with a knife's edge in his voice, "then you know there's only one thing I want. Every second of every day, and it's not Eileen Ruskin."

Except sometimes, and not even in that way. "Offers and deals kind of pale in comparison." His words are clipped, casual, a hand coming up to cup Sarisa's cheek and brush his thumb against her chin and jaw. "Somehow, Sarisa, I don't think you really want to make deals with me. Sorry, what was that thing about playing the advantage?" The hinges of her jaw loosen enough to allow speaking, if through gritted teeth.

It's a reaction he's not often presented with, the absence of fear from the forceful imprisonment behind a telekinetic grasp. Not only the lack of fear, but the seeming relish that Sarisa puts with a subtle lidding of her eyes partway, regarding Gabriel through the cage of her lashes. "Is that a no?" Her voice is quieter now, by both necessity and by the mood that suits her here. It's almost a test; how far will he push? It seems that like attracts like, and if Sarisa is as damage of a person on the inside as she is, it speaks something for how malfunctioning the clocksmith himself, ironically, is.

"I can't guarantee anyone will honor amnesty for you, that Petrelli will…" But then there comes that faint ghost of a smile, "but what does that matter, to the man who can be anyone?" Her blue eyes stay tracked on Gabriel for a moment, "After all, why be under the President's thumb when you could be him, right?"

A snorted laugh dismisses the comment as mere farce — or at least the pretences of. "Will you play ball in our court, Gabriel, or does this have to be hard?" It's almost as if she'd rather the hunt go on. Ever the hunter, never the gatherer, maybe that's more how they're alike.

And perhaps he would. Leave her with stiff limbs, leap in a shadow-form over the edge of the balcony with no promises, no glance backs, and kill her the next time she takes up the chase. That's how it should have gone. That's how it would have gone. And so, warmth spreads back through Sarisa's body, or at least, the release of the puppeted tension translates into warmth, and her jaw is released with a flippant gesture of Gabriel's hand, pulling back, fingers curled.

"It's not a 'no'. But I want Eileen back. You can keep the others as leverage over her, if that's what you want."

"You two are complicated, aren't you?" Sarisa's shoulders rise and fall, fingers flex against the returning sensation to her extremities, testing the boundaries of her newfound freedom. "Consider Ruskin yours, I'll even pair her up with you on assignment so you don't get any second thoughts about us being able to honor our bargains. The others…" Sarisa shrugs, Gabriel implied he didn't care, so she doesn't elaborate.

"I can bring you right to Ruskin, if you're cooperative." A gloved hand moves into her jacket slowly, retrieving a folded piece of paper that's held out beneath the dark of the umbrella's halo. "This is the address of Miller Air Field on Staten Island. Be there at the time listed, and I'll be waiting for you with a helicopter. Follow instructions and play nice and you might just get what you want."

Then, with a step back to pull Gabriel back out into the cool of the rain, the drizzling water already beginning to spot the paper, she adds, "…or at least what you need." Her shoulders rise and fall in a helpless shrug, "whatever that is, right?"

Play nice gets a scowly glance upwards, but no fire to back up. The rain pelts down, makes tracks on paper with ink too dry to smear immediately. All the same, Gabriel folds it and tucks it into the innerpocket of his coat, brow tensed beneath the falling rain and eyes squinted to protect themselves as he regards her.

"The two aren't mutually exclusive, Special Agent Kershner." And with that, he makes his common most exit - imploding into ink-through-water shadows, leaping forward with more weight than this matrix of high energy actually contains.

Sarisa will feeling nothing as it sweeps over her, only the steady rain as it slides past shoulders, around her arms, even slithering between her legs before it's vanishing off down the doorway in which she walked through to get here.

One brow slowly rises as Sarisa's eyes fall shut and she breathes in the scentless air of that black vapor, only the damp smell of fresh rain filling her senses as she takes a lazy turn to follow the motion of the black tendrils. Blue eyes open, staring at the absence of space where Gabriel disappeared to, and soon Sarisa merely stares vacantly over her shoulder, that smile finally forming on her lips only once Gabriel is gone. "I guess you're right, Gabriel…" she admits aloud in that wondrous tone that a child might when presented with some new truth of the world for the first time.

"I guess you're right."

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