No Truce


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Scene Title No Truce
Synopsis On the rooftop of their apartment complex, two neighbors lean on one another as they ruminate on the troubles of this world. Or something. This takes place between murders, so.
Date November 20, 2008

Confucius Plaza — Rooftop

Fel's apartment….is tiny. His place in Queens was palatial by New York standards….and previous to that, he'd been living in Seattle, where housing was huge by comparison. So he spends as little time there as he can manage.

Which is why he's up on the roof. It doesn't compare to Cliffside, either - there's only a few sad pots with sere plants in them as a nod to an attempt at a garden. But the Agent isn't looking at them. Rather, he's standing by the wall that edges the roof, looking out over the glow of the city, smoking. There's no light to illuminate his face, save for the flare and ebb of the cigarette, and the light that comes up from the street below. He's in his overcoat over a white Oxford and black slacks, hands gloveless despite the cold. Brooding, perhaps, or merely daydreaming.

The apartment started to feel small about half an hour ago. Unwilling to let banal psychological quirks have their way with them, Wu-Long had simply waited and watched until the distant clangor and humidity of the unkept heating system ceased to bother him. He'd put his work down on the table and pushed the knife back into his wrist sheathe, risen with an idle notion that he would explore. Coincidence more than curiosity took him up the fire stairs, crunching rat-poison pellets underfoot, until he found the iron door ajar and shoved through with one callused hand. Hinges squeak, the edges grate; not a stealthy entrance by any stretch of imagination, but then, he wasn't really trying to use his.

From behind, Felix isn't recognizable, not even to a former soldier who had memorized the cut of his coat and the lines of his stance just the other day. "Wan an," he calls out, casually. Flip-flops patter across the concrete, drifting toward the edge of the roof a few unintrusive yards from where Felix is having his cigarette. He reaches into his own pocket, pulls out a small box of lights.

Fel turns to peer at the newcomer - the motion's deliberate, not jumpy. The profile he cuts there give him away as that particular oddity, a gwai lo. IT's bad manners not to offer a light, so Fel motions mutely at Wu-Long, stepping closer to click open and flick on a Zippo. "Sorry. I'm ignorant, I don't speak any form of Chinese," he says, apologetically.

The Zippo flame, however small, and the reduction of space between men allows Wu-Long to register the man's identity, finally. He's too hard to impress to be surprised just then, but his features sharpen faintly with interested, silhouetted as they are by a distant billboard, a lurid neon splash of early Christmas lights. He pulls out a cigarette with an easy flick of callused fingers, points the white end down into the proffered light. "Buyao jin. My English isn't too bad, I think. It should do." For a conversation, or for a curt salutation and departure, he doesn't define. His own accent is evident: he sounds like he's carving the consonants and vowels out of the syllables and musical tones that he would rather be speaking. He splays his toes in the cold and stares over Chinatown.

The Fed's relief and faint embarrassment are both clear. He inclines his head. "Good," he says, quietly. "I just moved in. Didn't occurr to me just how many of my neighbors might not know English, when I did," he admits. "Managed to avoid any serious offenses despite it, though." He clicks the lighter closed and steps back, moving away so his ash isn't an inadvertant present to Wu-long's clothing. Not a good way to greet the neighbors, using them as an ashtray.

Out if his peripheral vision, Wu-Long notes the other man shifting out of splatter range. Appreciates the space, in that vague and accepting way that he would have equally appreciated the physical invasion as a sign of testosterone-driven dominance issues, both equally alike to him of their position in his comfort zone, and both equally easy to read. "Ignorance isn't a sign of disrespect in our exotic Eastern tradition," he assures Felix in a tone that's half playful but sincere enough in his manners. "Not with anybody worth caring about, or they should go back to the motherland, eh? I just moved here too. Has the landlady given you any trouble?" He pulls the cigarette out of his mouth by its filter and flips white particle matter off the roof with a lazy motion of his arm.

"Oh, no," Fel hastens to assure him. "I'm just…last thing I want is to be the obnoxious neighbor," He cocks an eye at Wu-long, as if not certain he's being mocked, or not. But doesn't pursue it. Instead, he drifts back to his former vantage point, gaze continually drawn to the vast dark wound that is Midtown. His expression turns somber, a little grim, even as he cups a palm around the cigarette to keep it from being blown out.

How obscenely polite. "You're all right." A man after Wu-Long's own heart. Or, you know, that list of protocols and carefully-mimicked behaviors that serves in place of what normal humans refer to as that: heart. He stares across the building tops in silence for a long moment, wilted roof gardens like this one, cheap antennae and hacked cable scraggling across between short-circuited fluorescence and a handful of other evening revelers bobbing along in the distance, barely visible against the firmament of night. After a moment, he turns his head toward Felix, the motion unmistakably deliberate, his features good-natured as he nods down, ahead, at the spectacle that seems to be causing the other man visible tension. "Good thing you don't have a room with a view, then." A beat, and he explains: "You look like you hate it."

"I've lived in New York nearly all my life, since I came to this country," Felix's voice is very low. And, surprisingly enough, not cool - it's rough with something like barely restrained anger. Hatred, even, though the harsh features remain set and calm. "I hate to see what was done to it. It won't be entirely repaired in my life time. I've met the man that did it." He takes a deep drag off his cigarette - it's black, with a gold filter - as if to steady his breathing.

Nicotine and smoke go in, cinders float out. Wu-Long's eyes hood, the way a stranger might when confronted abruptly with too much information, uncertainty, or merely reminding himself of the interpersonal distance that ought to be there. It's evident, however, that Felix is in a bit of a mood, and there's no harm in following his intellectual compulsion to look, listen. He's surprised. "You don't mean 'Sylar,'" he says, after a moment. He'd seen the statements, of course: everyone here has, broadcast across the United Statements in as many languages as are spoken.

The grin that appears on Felix's face is bitterly rueful, and really more of a rictus. "I do, indeed," he says, tone brittle. "He's alive, no matter what the news tells you," He's in the process of being lazy, and chaining one smoke to light the next. So much for being abstemious about that particular habit.

Moderation is for Buddhists. Wu-Long has principles to uphold, one cigarette to finish. Felix is allowed his vices. He is, after all, having a rough night. "I never heard," he says, at length, tapping cigarettes out. "How your government reached that conclusion. Why do you think Sylar is the one who did it? What would be the…" A quaver-beat's pause, long enough for a civilian to trawl through their recollections of recent CSI: Miami episodes. "'Motive?'" He works with the man, you know. 'Eyebrows' Xiansen. Wonders at the PR job that the man's gotten. With over two decades of military experience under his belt and more kills than he can count, and evidence of them far less discreetly concealed, Wu-Long never managed to elicit this violent a reaction. Not even with Blackwater in Baghdad.

And Felix realizes he's been talking way, way too much. He's abruptly quiet for a moment. "I couldn't say. I'm not privy to that information," he says, slowly, that facade of calm being slowly sealed back in place. He lets the cigarette dangle forgotten from his fingertips for a bit, ash taken by the wind.

"Oh." Wu-Long tucks the cigarette back in his mouth and his figure, features, adopt the politely wary cast of your average low-income citizen upon realization that the other conversationalist is in some position of authority. "You're with…" he motions vaguely with a callused hand, as if picking a word out of the air. "The government. Explains a lot." A moment later, he realizes that that plus the deadpan expression could be construed as another touch of mockery, so he crooks a smile, doesn't try eye-contact. "It's a hard year for a lot of work industries," he explains.

Felix's lip curls in amused self-deprecation. "In a very minor sense," he says, humbly. "Just a paper pusher," Nevermind that he's got John Law stamped all over him. "And yes, it is a hard year." He pinches out that second cigarette, after a last exhale, before dropping it to the gravel of the roof and grinding it with a heel, as if to make sure.

Wu-Long's stretches his jaw a fraction of an inch, as if repressing a yawn, although he isn't tired. Figures, that an enemy of both the Vanguard and Sylar, personally, would be one of those conscientious prisoners of their own conscience, conscience, conscience. Figures, that Deckard would have his conscience installed in a separate person. "I wish you the best of luck," he says, honestly. No fight's worth his time if his opponent isn't putting their back into it, even if he does have an equal penchant for slaughtering unarmed women and helpless children. War, battle. Turning, he offers his enemy a handclasp. Despite the weather and that he isn't wearing gloves either, his palm is warm, leathery, a living thing untroubled by the ostentation of meteorology. "I'm living in 301. I will see you around."

Fel remains sheepish. But he takes Wu-Long's hand in his. It's almost spidery in its delicacy, calloused from gun and saber, but his grip is firm enough. He names his own number. "I'm Felix Ivanov," he says, rather belatedly. "Good to meet you."

"Wu-Long," the Chinese man answers kindly, cigarette bobbing, flaring between his lips. "My pleasure. Wan an. It means 'good night.'" The translation genially offered, the Mandarin phrase falling and rising with musical intonation that dates back centuries. Felix's hand warrants a gentle squeeze before he turns away, footfalls ticking away rubber on concrete.

November 20th: Safety Third

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

November 20th: Go Diego Go
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