One Crisis to the Next


cardinal3_icon.gif elisabeth2_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title One Crisis to the Next
Synopsis Peyton's news of the death of a friend combined with her recent "eye-jacking" of one Gabriel Gray lead to theories that are disturbing and frightening for Liz and Cardinal.
Date March 6, 2010

New York Public Library

It's snowing. It has been for days now, and the snow's just piling up; beginning to become a bit of a barrier to getting into the library, although some efforts have been made to surrepitiously clean away the snow around the front door. Unfortunately, it's hard to surrepitiously move snow, so it's starting to get a little obvious that people are using the building.

Deeper, the generators are still humming away, a variety of space heaters strewn around through the underground rooms currently in use, keeping things warm - at least for now.

Knowing those who don't leave the library much might be getting low on supplies, Peyton arrives with a large backpack and a large purse full of food. She gives a wave to the monitors as she trudges in, trying not to track too much snow in with her, but that's a lost cause. Lugging her heavy supplies, she follows the hum of the generators toward the warmer rooms that are inhabitable, in search of her favorite shadow.

"Card? Richard?" she calls, making her way to the room he generally occupies, looking in the corners for the tattered darkness that has become her form. Her eyes are a bit swollen, this time from crying rather than being smashed into a wall. She'd prefer the latter, really, in this case.

That torn shroud of darkness spills from the corners of the room, rippling across the wall like the ghost that he may be. "Peyton…?" Peyton…? That whispering echo stirring in the air, "…what's wrong?" Wrong?

She wishes, not for the first time, he were there in the flesh so she could hug him. Today she needs it more than any other day — even though that wasn't their relationship before he was like this. But it's not to be. She dumps both bags on the table and turns to look at the shadows as they come together on the wall. "Wendy." The word, a mere whisper, as broken as his.

"She was murdered," she adds, since he can't read her mind. "Here." She moves to her purse, pulling out various items stuffed in the bag that didn't fit in the backpack. Protein bars, soap, matches. Finally a newspaper, which she unfolds and lays out on the table so he can read it. She waits, staring down at the ground, jaw set, eyes hard, trying not to cry again.

The shadows rear upwards like a startled cobra, the fringes of darkness spreading out in fine tendrils before drawing back in once more. "What? Hunter… what happened?" Richard Cardinal gathers along the wall over the table, as if looking down towards the newspaper. "Who did this? Danko…?" Danko…?

"Head trauma… really severe head trauma, is what John said. He said something like 'Wendy always had her head about her, so he doesn't understand why she'd lose it." The words are accompanied by a shiver. Decapitation? "He also said the books are safe. I never got to ask her for them, but I'll see if I can get them — when I go help clean out her apartment. I told them I would."

Her voice a little flat, but he can probably guess it's because she's trying to keep her emotions from spilling over. She's tired of crying. She's tired of hurting. It's a contrived numbness, but it's all she can do for the moment.

There's silence as the shadow reads the article in the paper. "Kinetic energy…? That isn't Danko… that was one of us… maybe someone who didn't want his ability known? Wendy was… not exactly subtle…" Subtle…

Then something that's just been stated sinks into Cardinal's nonexistent head, "…cranial… trauma? Oh, fuck— Peyton— Gabriel…?" Sylar…?

Her eyes widen. Gabriel? There's two — the one she knows as Mack from the library, and then there's one who gave her migraine headaches in her efforts to see through his vision. She's guessing it's the latter. And the timing fits. "The… Eileen's Gabriel? Why— Why would you say that?" she whispers, face pale. No wonder it was so urgent they find him — if they thought he was responsible for the Jane Doe murder.

"Maybe what happened in Antarctica… I don't know. Gabriel - Sylar - check the files, Peyton, he's a serial killer. He has this… hunger… for powers, for abilities. Arthur… Kazimir… both of them only got worse when they had access to his ability, it's a cancer…" A cancer… Cardinal's hiss is sharp, worried, "…he removed people's heads, their brains… gods. If he's lost control, if he has Wendy's ability…" Power discernment…

"Oh, God." Peyton is pale. She certainly flipped by the Sylar file, but that one was mostly self contained and she didn't read every word or even really look at the pictures. "If he has her power…" she whispers, and then both hands come up to her face, the butts of her palms pressing into her eyes. "I looked through his eyes, Cardinal and … it was like nothing I've seen before, and it hurt and I was actually worried he'd … he'd felt me. It's never happened before. It was like a migraine, and got worse and worse until my vision broke." The flat affect is gone from her voice, and is replaced with pure fear.

"I wouldn't make contact with his mind too often… if you can help it… that ability of his, it's like a cancer… and there's no way of knowing what sort of abilities he's taken, he might have some that could be used as a defense…" A defense… Cardinal's voice is a low hiss, "…damn, damn, damn. No wonder they asked you to find him…" To find him…

Her teeth rake over her lower lip and she shivers, wrapping arms around herself as if to give herself the hug she wishes she could get from Cardinal. "Do you think he could tell I was there? The first time — he slammed a mirror — I wasn't sure if it was me or him he was angry at. The second time, he either blacked out or it was my power going black, I don't know." Either way, the pain she felt was strange enough that it was something unique to him. "Gabriel is Sylar. Shit. Why didn't I read that file… I feel sick." She slumps into a chair. "I've worked with him before, and I didn't know he was a serial killer psychopath."

As she pads into the room on sock-feet from down in the bowels of the library, Elisabeth is not exactly surprised to find people. Though perhaps they'll be surprised to see her. She looks disheveled, shoving a hand through her blonde hair to try to bring it to some semblance of order, and clearly she's just woken. She has the muzzy look of a woman who is in desperate need of a caffeine fix. "What about Gabriel Gray?" she asks blearily.

"He's alive, Elisabeth…" The shadows on the wall twist as if to look in her direction, "…and he appears to have lost control." The hunger… One can almost hear a grimace on Cardinal's voice, "He may have killed Wendy Hunter." Hunter…

Peyton gets up to go to the file cabinet, flipping through the files until she finds the one she seeks. "Hi, Liz," she says, quietly. She nods to the newspaper on the table. "Story's there, though you mighta heard already. Media blackout so not a lot of information. Her brother said something about her losing her brain or her mind or her head, I think trying to warn me, but I didn't … Cardinal connected the dots. Eileen and Teo asked me to look for Gabriel earlier this week… I didn't know he was Sylar." There are so many things she doesn't know. One of these days one of those things is going to get her killed.

Really, she should quit being surprised about people surviving. Because at the rate people come back from the dead around her, why should she assume they die like normal people? Even herself! For a moment, Elisabeth has this look on her face — speculative, thoughtful, even a hint on the cynical side. Oh, there's no hope that her mother survived Midtown. That still sucks really hard. But…. Conrad? Maybe. Darkholed somewhere ugly. She shies away from that thought; she'd rather believe his body is still beneath the ConEd plant than believe he's been in some horrifying place for a year.

Sucking in a deep breath a bare moment later, Liz replies drily, "Well, unless the man has somehow gained a lot of medical knowledge that I'm pretty sure he didn't have last time we spoke, it seems unlikely. I've actually been keeping up with some aspects of that case because it caught my eye — looks like a copycat to me, some of the particulars of the MO don't look right. The person who did it has some skill." She takes the file from Peyton to flip through briefly. "I'm not saying it's definitely not him, but I wouldn't necessarily go jumping to conclusions either." She purses her lips, blue eyes sharpening slightly. "Can you get me a location? I'd be willing to go take a look."

"A copycat?" Well. That would be good news, if it's true. The idea of an out-of-control Sylar with Wendy's power is inarguably a terrifying one, after all. "I hope so. That'd be better than the alternative…" The alternative… Then Richard's silent a moment before nearly snarling out, "Oh, hell no. You are not going to go hunt Sylar by yourself!"

Uh oh. Mom and Dad are fighting. Her eyes flit from the shadowy man to the fiery blonde woman and Peyton chews her lip, unsure if she should answer the person who could smack her around physically or the person who she trusts most in the world. Even if he's not quite a person.

"What do you mean, medical knowledge? How much medical knowledge do you need to do what Sylar does?" she asks, ignoring the location question for the time being — and anyway, that was Friday morning — he's probably no longer there.

Turning to look at the shadows where he seems to be residing, one eyebrow lifts and Elisabeth sends a cool look toward him. "Last time I checked, lover, people like Sylar were part of my job. And you of all people should know that I'm going to do what I have to." There's a brief flash of heat in her eyes and she slants him a flirtatious smile — the one she gives when she's going to get smart-ass on him. "But by all means, do keep snarling at me. It turns me on."

Then Liz turns her attention to Peyton and comments, "The first report came through and flagged my attention because it was a man we rescued from Staten with Abby. Oleander Thespuda found a Hispanic woman missing the top of her head on the tracks. I actually meant to put out feelers a bit earlier on an ID on the woman and lost track of it due to the fact that I had other things on my mind. But that reminds me to fire off that request." She slants another brief look toward the shadow. "I want to verify that it's not, God help us, Maya." The woman who could kill people when she got upset. "If it is Sylar, which I dismissed at the time as a copycat because the report said there was clear use of surgical instruments, which Sylar never needed before." She notes aloud, "There's note of precision use of them. Not to mention the whole incinerated organic matter. It just doesn't track for me in spite of their belief."

"Then I suggest you talk to your superiors about coordinating with the NYPD on this matter, then, because if you rush off solo to 'take a look' and get yourself killed, I swear to God…" I can't lose you again… A silent moment after that whisper reveals more inner thoughts, and Cardinal seems to consider for a few moments, "…surgical instruments… Peyton, you need to tell Eileen about all of this." All of this…

Peyton closes her eyes at the talk of heads being sawn off with precision instruments. She is quiet, as she listens and nods once, slowly to Cardinal's request. She does not offer the location she last saw Sylar in, not unless Cardinal tells her to. "I think they probably already think it's him. I mean… that's probably why they thought he wasn't dead anymore, right? But isn't it awfully coincidental if he is back and people are getting their brains —" she stops there and just lets the rest of the sentence evaporate. "Eileen was beat up, by the way. Pretty bad. A French guy was suturing her up when I went to tell them I found Gab- Sylar." Apparently he is no longer Gabriel to her.

It is the second, softer whisper that turns the tide in his favor not the argumentative first part. Elisabeth's expression softens and she looks toward him. "If Sylar's alive and gone off the rails, I'll be in Kershner's face immediately. But let me check with some friends on the force, maybe I can get a full coroner's report or something. A lot of people do think that it was Sylar, but I ignored it because I thought he was dead until just about a minute and a half ago. Not to mention that the rumors I've heard thus far just don't track with what I knew of his MO before. If you see Teo and Eileen before I do, tell Teo I need to talk to him please." She'll text him herself, but who knows if he'll actually answer. She sighs and paces the room a little, and then her head jerks around with a frown. "Who the fuck put their hands on her? A French guy?" She frowns.

The shadows remain silent for the moment. Perhaps embarassed at his admission of why he didn't want her to go after Sylar, perhaps just thinking. Or maybe Cardinal is just focusing on holding himself together right now.

"I didn't get his name. Um, really handsome. Green eyes, dark brown hair. Raith was there too, and Teo. She was pretty hurt," Peyton says, trying to remember. "So if the police question me on this — and I'm sure they will, because of the whole kidnapping ordeal, am I supposed to say 'Hey look for this Sylar guy' or what? I mean, they don't know what my power really is… not the details, and I can't explain how I know Sylar's alive."

A look gets shot toward Cardinal and Elisabeth murmurs, "Francois." That's the only Frenchman it could be — doc knowledge and with Raith and Teo too? Yeah. Most likely. The blonde nibbles her lip. "They're already on the whole Sylar thing. Don't tell them anything. Let them as the questions, and answer exactly what they ask with the fewest words possible," she tells Peyton. "I don't want to sic anyone on the man until I know what Eileen and Teo actually think is going on." She grimaces. "Richard, I'm going to have to let Felix know, though. Christ… this is going to go over like alead balloon. You know he's got a serious hard-on for Sylar."

"And not in the good way…" In the good way… A hissing sigh passes through the air, and Cardinal allows, "…can we try to keep this from blowing up before we know for certain, at least?" At least?

"I — do you want me to try to watch Sylar again?" Peyton asks tentatively. It's a testament to how far she's come from the fearful, trembling girl she was after her kidnapping, that she'd willingly go into that dizzying, pain-wracking vision again. She glances at Cardinal. He already told her not to, but if it's important… "I don't think I'll be able to do it for more than a minute or two at a time, but it might at least help if we know he's in one place if another murder takes place somewhere else. Unless…" Dammit. "Unless he has replication or something, because then that won't… prove anything."

"That's pretty much what I'm thinking, yeah," Elisabeth replies to Cardinal. "Because as soon as it gets to be common knowledge that Sylar survived, the man's a target. If he did it, that's fine with me. If he didn't, well….." She grimaces a little and looks down. "I'm told in another place and time, Gabriel Gray was a damn fine cop." She looks up at Cardinal. "Someday, I'd like to see that actually happen." She shoves her hand through her hair once more, looking harried.

"I thought he was under control. That ability of his is… dangerous… maybe whatever happened in Antarctica made him lose it again…" Again… Cardinal pauses, "…no. Don't look in on him again, not unless there's no other choice. It's dangerous." Dangerous…

"What isn't?" the girl says flatly. "I mean, yeah, I'm concerned he knows somehow I was watching him — that it might make me a target. I have no idea how many powers he has — if he could tell who I am or if it was just some defense thrown up automatically. I'm pretty sure Eileen and Teo and the rest will know about Wendy by now, but I'll call them… they know where he was, at least the last time I saw him." Her eyes flick over to Liz again, hoping she doesn't demand the location if Cardinal doesn't want her to know it.

As if she can tell exactly what Peyton's thinking, Elisabeth simply looks at the girl. "I'm not going to make you choose between my instructions and his," she says quietly. "It's not a fair position to put you in. I will say this much: I won't tolerate being kept in the dark." She looks between the two. "Not for any reason. If you do go looking for him, I want to know about it. And whatever you find, I better know." Her tone is calm, but her intention is very clear — she's not going to fight Richard over their people; they will simply be on the same page, or she'll do it her way.

"I'm not going to keep you in the dark, Elisabeth," argues Cardinal rather sharply, "I just don't want you rushing off to talk to him, gambling that he wouldn't kill you because we all fought together… and I'm more worried that the… thing in Gabriel's head is going to infect her somehow. Like it did Arthur, and Kazimir…" Kazimir…

"Infect?" Peyton says, looking to the shadows with wide eyes, before glancing back apologetically at Elisabeth. "I doubt he's there anymore anyway… especially if he could tell that I was watching. What worries me is that he's back but didn't try to get in contact with them… his friends. That's what makes me worried it's him and not a copycat — why wouldn't he try to find them? Like … like Card found us." Even in his present lack of body. She looks back at Cardinal. "He … Arthur and Kazimir… he did that to them? I don't understand."

"I won't rush into anything," Elisabeth promises him quietly. She's never lied to him, nor is she terribly prone to running off rashly. Though admittedly, Dreyfus has her wound so tight, even sleeping here in the library, she didn't sleep well — dreams plagued her rest even here. "It worries me too, Peyton. I would have thought he'd have gotten in touch with Eileen, but… it's not like I know the man, you know? I'll talk to Teo or Eileen, and I'll have the intel from the PD's files as soon as I can get my hands on it. Maybe we can make some sense out of all this." She grimaces a little and admits softly, "Until I have a handle on the crazy Russian fucker, I'm afraid my attention's going to be too split. I'll keep Felix out of it until we know for sure as well. Just in case."

"Chesterfield claimed that it was Gabriel's power that drove Arthur mad… and Kazimir told me that the same power made him even worse… it's a sickness, a cancer, a hunger for more. Maybe that's what that pain was — I don't know — if it might not even be him…" Be him… A hissed whisper, "…talk to Teo and Eileen, yes, both of you maybe. This is bad." Bad…

"That's just stellar," Peyton says, sarcasm to push away the pain, the loss, the fear that's building in her like a crescendo. "All right. No eye-jacking of him, unless it's absolutely necessary. I can do without the pain anyway." She nods to the rest of the directions. "I'll call Eileen." Not something she's looking forward to: Hey, you know your friend? Is it possible he killed my friend? Awkward.

"Anyone else feel like it's always one crisis to the next every single minute of the day?" Liz comments mildly. And then she laughs outright. "Eye-jacking?" she sputters a bit. "Christ, I love it."

"It is, Liz," Cardinal whispers, flowing away towards the corners of the room, "It is." It always is…

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