Reforged By Fire


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Scene Title Reforged By Fire
Synopsis An unlikely band of three come together again to figure out what to do next. Someone figures that out for them.
Date April 29, 2009

Abandoned Library in Staten Island

Life is an unpredictable thing. From the moment we are born, we struggle with the very chaotic nature of the world, struggle with our own place in the grand scheme of events that is the tapestry of the future.

Creaking floorboards underfoot groan from the weight of one man's entrance, sliding old and warped linoleum tiles over the bowed plywood beneath. Each booted footfall crunches broken glass and detritus left from the mass exodus off of Staten Island during the evacuation of 2006. Here, beneath the sagging roof and amidst dusty shelves, the remainders of a past long since destroyed greets Peter Petrelli with all its decaying glory.

How do we as people adjust to change when it happens? Do we gracefully accept the repositioning of our familiar lives? Do we struggle, fight against any upset to the status quo? It there ever any hope to fight against the tides of change once they have begin to build?

Hands tucked into the pockets of worn, leather pants, Peter makes a steady entrance into the Great Kills Library, leaving the door behind him open, and a swirl of dust where the air was disrupted by his bending of space on arrival. Each footstep causes the trail of his long jacket to sway from side to side, casting a long and dancing shadow behind him. Not so long ago, he was here, thinking that for once the future might be looking brighter than ever…

We are all victims of change, each and every one of us…

Stopping by the front desk, his dark eyes scan between the bookshelves, then up towards the broken glass dome overhead, letting droplets of rainwater that have collected on the roof trickle down inside. His eyes close, and for a moment Peter considers leaving, forgetting the idea of putting aside his differences with the man who ruined everything. But it's that nagging belief in his heart, that things have to change before they get better, that keeps him here.

Change is what we make of it. All changes, good and bad, shape the future that we all must share. So the question you must ask yourself, is that when change comes…

"Gillian?" Peter's voice rings out over the empty shelves and dust covered tables, "Gabriel?"

Will you be ready?

The building appears to be empty of life, or at least no obvious signs of people sitting on tables or leaning against walls can be seen. The rain that dripped into the room has raised the humidity, added to the mildew smell that permeates. Mold also happens to be an issue, especially with all the moisture in the last few months. Broken glass on the floor, the occasional book, but the room still seems to be empty, except of shadows. Something skitters by, running over the top of the table and along the floor. A very large cockroach. Almost large enough if just the shadow had been visible; it could be mistaken for a large mouse.

"We're here," a voice suddenly says from near one of the bookshelves. Raspy and whispered, the voice is obviously Gillian's. At first glance, no one is standing where the voice comes from. Until the washed out colors of the dark shelf shift slightly.

Like curtains being dragged back from a stage or a table cloth drawn from a wooden surface, the camouflaging colours shift over Gillian in that same fluid motion. A reveal, and she's not the only one. Gabriel acts almost as her shadow, flanking her with his shoulder rested against the shelves, hands hidden in his coat. Black wool, that takes on its customary darkness when the colours of shelves, flooring, and stilted light are pushed back.

Everyone in this room is probably dressed reasonably similar. It never does go out of style, and Gabriel looks almost exactly the same as the last time Peter had seen him, in the sublevels of Moab. "Peter," he says, as if to simply finish off the role call the other man had started, taking his weight off the shelves and looking about as friendly as an untrusting stray dog. It's in his body language, his expression, his voice. "I was waiting to see if you would change your mind." Here's to hoping, right?

"You know that option keeps seeming better and better," Peter spits out, head tilting to one side as he takes a few testing footfalls across the creaking floor towards Gabriel. Hesitating when he finally settles his eyes on Gillian, the anger that had welled up in him is replaced with disbelief and confusion, all playing out across his face like some confusing comedy of errors. "I— " aborted words swallowed behind a stiffening countenance, "So how exactly is this going to work? You're just — what — better now?"

It's obvious with those sharp words directed to Gabriel, that Peter still hasn't buried the hatchet held aloft for so long. Gillian can see his posture so much different from their encounter here just a day prior — shoulders squared, feet apart, hands sliding out of his pockets. He's just waiting for the other shoe to drop, and for this to turn into the rematch of their last encounter in the Bronx months ago.

As the camoflauge fades away, Gillian releases the other man, but doesn't step away, looking between the two as the snipe at each other. Dark clothes are the trend in the room, though touches of purple peek out under her black coat, from her blouse. Dark eyes roll upward to the ceiling, almost helpless. "I know you're men and you have to be all macho, but you could let it drop for a few god damned seconds." They agreed to the meeting and… Men.

"Peter— you've lost control. We all have. It happened in Moab— we didn't mean to do that, but we did. And it's the same with Gabriel." Gabriel, not Sylar. Eyes shift to focus on him for a moment, almost pleading. While she's wearing quite a bit of make up, she can't quite hide the fact that her cheeks are a lot more rosey than normal, skintone darkened. A goth that got a tan. In the middle of overcast New York months.

"Everyone here has lost control at some point, and people got hurt," some more than others… "but everyone here is trying to control it again."

Would be sniping at each other, Gabriel looking about ready to do just that before Gillian is speaking, throwing water on dry wood before a fire can really spark up. Her pleading glance back is met with quiet resentment, but— no objection. Despite that his argument, his accusations hurled at Peter had always been about control and the other man's lack of it, he doesn't rise to his own defense now as the comparison is drawn. His gaze swivels on back towards Peter as Gillian finishes saying her piece. Better.

He tries to leave the sneer out of his tone of voice. This is only marginally achieved. "I'm not throwing you across the room. From your perspective I guess that can be considered better."

Finally, Gabriel too takes a couple of steps forward, shoulders squared, although less Peter's defensive posture, slightly more relaxed now that bolts of lightning or fire aren't being immediately tossed his way. "Gillian told me you had a little accident with the spacetime continuum."

Peter's brows tense when Gillian speaks, a strong frown downturning his lips in a lopsided manner, "Exactly how did he lose control when he killed Ted?" Those dark eyes of Peter's narrow, breathing in a deep breath through his nose as he takes one more step forward. Now less drugged than he was during their prior encounter, Peter can't help but allow the flood of memories of the last two years to come rolling back to him. Perhaps Gabriel was right after all, prison preserved him, it didn't change him.

But before the name-calling and jabs accelerate to something far more unfortunate, he stops himself, raising both hands with a reluctant sigh and a shrug of his shoulders, "I didn't— come here for — " an accident with spacetime. That brings a furrowing of Peter's brows together, creasing that scar that cuts across his face. Instead of scowl, he rolls his tongue across the inside of his cheek, and lowers both ofhis hands he had been trying to raise in a gesture of okay let's try and be civil.

Dark eyes once more find Gillian — uncertain, accusing, anxious — too many emotions all at once. When Peter closes his eyes, his shoulders slack and that 'angry dog' posture he was taking seems to drain away with much of his anger. "I heard you had an accident with a few square blocks of Staten Island…" Peter murmurs, looking back up to Gabriel with one brow raised, "I think we're both a little confused by Gillian's feedback loop."

This is becoming a train wreck. "Fuck," Gillian curses under her breath, knowing full well that things are going to degrade greatly the further this goes on. "Look, I asked you to meet with him so you could— God damnit Peter he came with me to Moab to help me break you out, didn't he? Will just just look past that for ten seconds and— if you would just listen…" There's anger in her eyes, all directed at Peter. There's a reason she addressed him first, and then looked at Gabriel in a begging fashion.

"You said you would try, Peter," she reminds him, raspy voice sharpening, hand actually raising to point accusingly at him. So much she's going to repeat it. "You said you'd try. And you fucking owe me that much at least."

No, a trainwreck has a lot more burning. All things considered, this could count as pretty smooth sailing. Perhaps by Gabriel's standards, anyway, not— that of normal people. He's moving away from Gillian as she hisses and spits at the other man, keeping his focus trained on the scarred ex-inmate. He's not about to stop her from yelling at him— that's it's own brand of entertainment, although his gaze does switched restlessly from the augmentor to the empath.

He absently nudges a book aside with his boot as he makes his slow trek, the damaged pages making a hissing sound against the ruined floor as it slides a few feet. "It's not just Gillian's power," he says, fixing his focus back on Peter. "She's talking about my own. Just like you can't keep it all in when it counts, mine— " His teeth click shut, jaw setting. The desire to keep weaknesses hidden from someone like Peter almost too much of an obstacle for him to get the words out.

And ultimately it is. "You don't have to believe me," Gabriel finally spits. "Not that I'm better, or like you. But know that we either both deserve to be locked in places like Moab, or given a second chance."

Gillian's words make Peter back down, but it's — of all people's — Gabriel's words that get him to listen. That moment of opening up, of revelation about himself is enough to get Peter to stop imagining ways to kill him that he could hide from Gillian, to get him to stop thinking about all of the terrible things, and try focusing on the here and the now. Like his father had said to him, for any real change to happen, you have to be accepting of it.

"Fine…" Peter's words come out a bit in the same way a kicked puppy might whimper, unhappy about his current predicament, but willing to change it. "You wanted to talk— I wanted to talk— so— " he has a hard time choking out the words, but Gillian is right, he does owe her this much. "So let's talk." When Peter looks up to Gabriel again, it isn't so much with the accusatory expression he had before, but more so with a look of confusion and lack of understanding. Why this, why now? There's just so much he doesn't understand about Gabriel — about the man who was Sylar.

About how he even put that behind himself. Learning to cope with guilt, that could probably be the best lesson Gabriel could teach Peter

And there Gabriel is— the voice of calm. Gillian can't help but smile faintly at him, even as she still fumes a little deep inside. Not at him, though. Not even when he doesn't give details on what he's talking about. His point is enough, for the moment. Control is control. And if one of them deserves to be behind bars, or dead somewhere, then the other one would too.

And the whimpered puppy sound further spreads relief over her face, air passing through her lips, remaining parted for a few moments before walking over and touching Gabriel's arm. The same kind of support she often tries to give him, just now in front of someone different. "Technically, I wanted the two of you to talk, and you both agreed to it reluctantly," she clarifies, just so there's no missunderstanding there. The sharpness has left her voice, helped along by the relief, but…

"You wanted to know what to do next, Peter…" And she must have thought, somehow, Gabriel could help him. She sometimes makes rash decisions, okay?

It's the strangest fucking thing about amnesia.

You remember your vocabulary words, what a sock is, how to operate one and even the subway routes come back quicker after a few long seconds spent staring upward at the simplified color codes of the maps underneath staticky light. Not that John got a train over to Staten Island. You can't get a train over to Staten Island. You have to take a ferry boat from a pier within eyeshot of the blasted stump of the Verrazano-Narrows, a long, choppy ride over to the blasted stump of Staten Island thrust streaming grease smoke and physical damage and fungal diseases into the barren womb of the evening sky.

Nothing about this is familiar, either.

He can recognize the purpose implied by these shelves, the lingering must and smell of resin off the tomes. "Hello?" A single male voice breaks the reverberating drone of wind in empty rooms and shelves, deep, though not as much so as the John's broad body could have enhoused. Maybe if he was a smoker. Two walls away: "Who's there?"

Want is such a strong word. Still. But Gabriel wisely takes this moment of peace to not show his claws some more in Peter's direction, back straightening a little when Gillian touches his arm. There are several cold hard truths that have brought these three toegther. Like, everybody needs somebody, and nothing works perfectly forever.

But what to do next— luckily he doesn't have to open his mouth and try not to break the spell of being the voice of reason, because in the next moment, some other voice is stealing his spotlight. His head swivels in that general direction, hearing pitching back out to find the source, and anything that might accompany it.

A heart beat, the drag of breathing. "You didn't bring friends, did you?" he asks of Peter. And if he did, then, well, he brought a stupid friend. We all need someone to make ourselves look better right. The snark is smothered, however, irritation and aggression making Gabriel's eyes narrow that in some desolate corner of New York City, they still can't manage to find somewhere secret.

Peter turns towards the sound of the voice, breathing in a slow and hissing breath before looking towards Gabriel, "I don't exactly have a whole lot of friends." Dark eyes track back to the sound of the voice, and Peter takes a few testing steps around the room, even as the shadows around his feet stir restlessly, as if something with thoughts all their own were dwelling inside of them. It's a sight Gabriel is familiar with to a point, visibly similar to Zhang Wu-Long's own ability, but even from a glance he can work out the differences.

Unable to find the right words with which to say go away, Peter turns rather helplessly towards Gillian, then back towards the direction the voice came in. Flexing his hands open and closed, Peter takes a creaking step forward, and finally calls out, "Who's there?"

Good question, one that John is — admittedly — a little better armed to answer after his recent encounter with Catherine Chesterfield, but her blunt way of explaining things leaves detail to be desired.

"Fuck me, of all the nights…" Gillian rasps in a whisper that maybe only the two closest to her can hear. Maybe not the man two walls away— but the night isn't loud. The cockroach skitters by again, crawling over a book with dust and cobwebs on it. It's the timing that she has to marvel at. Even though it wouldn't be the first time she found someone else squatting in the abandoned and looted library, it still makes for something to curse about.

They'd just seemed to be ready to start talking. Sit down and get out certain things they haven't yet—

Oh well. She takes a few steps away from the voice, almost moving closer again to Gabriel, as if she might be trying to get partially behind him.

The stranger's dark eyes are straining in the dark. He either doesn't know well enough to be afraid or else he has big brass ones: there's no significant acceleration to his heartbeat when the voices find him in the dark, though the wobbling edge of nervous uncertainty that was there in his initial salutation permeates his self-introduction.

"My name is John."

And John seems to be coming closer, his tread thud-thud-thudding against the age-eaten carpet and disturbing the dust. Gabriel has marched alongside enough soldiers to recognize the very subtle differences in physical balance between an experienced martial artist and an ordinary man when he's listening for it. The stranger seems to fit squarely into the latter category.

"I'm supposed… —yikes." Dustbunny that size should get a zoo exhibit on Manhattan. "I'm s-supposed to be meeting three people here." It isn't a lie in the slightest, though his words lack the brazen conviction with which would characterize educated citizens approaching two of the most powerful Evolved on the planet and their psychic boost besides. "Are there three people in there?"

Gabriel's eyes are fixed on the dividing wall and shelving that separates him from the noises the man is making on the other side, brow furrowed and ignoring Gillian as she makes that subtle insinuation behind him. It's probably a smart place to be. He casts a glance towards Peter, designated talker, and draws his own hands out of his pockets, now, as if wanting to free them for— easy access, you know, against a man who apparently knows about a clandestine meeting in an abandoned library.

"No one followed us here," he confirms, just quiet enough for the other two to hear.

Peter swallows, tensely, and takes another step forward. This time his heels pick up the shadows under his feet like tacky tar on the soles of his shoes. They pull sup and stick back down as he walks, while the darkness around the edges of the room begins to deepen and seem to make the room close in on itself some. "Who— " it's too stupid of a question to ask, "what do you want?" That one isn't particularly genius of him either, and as Peter turns to fire an accusing and confused look back at Gabriel, he shrugs his shoulders and makes a rather what the hell do I do expression.

When he turns back to the sound of the voice, the shadows in the room receed back to their normal illumination, his focus too divided to really interact with them in a meaningful manner. Gillian, the voice echoes in the back of her mind, hollow and distant but clearly Peter's voice, did you tell anyone else we were meeting here? Anyone? For the first time in a long time, he sounds anxious.

Behind two of the most powerful Evolved in the city is a good place to be. As long as they're not losing control over something. Gillian doesn't dare let the knot in the back of her head unravel, cause that may not go well just yet. From the anxious breaths coming out parted lips, and the glances around, there's nothing about this situation she likes. It's someone who knew three people were meeting. It's someone who…

A voice whispers in the back of her mind, making her startled. The answer is of course no, it whispers in return, but she's not used to telepathy, and nerves make it sound so close to a real voice that she just answers, almost in echo of her mind's response, "I didn't— didn't tell anyone." Shaky voice. But outloud. It answers the question. Three people present in the room.

Finally, John appears. He does so without impressive tricks of shadow or of light, traveling on two feet and with the waver to his path of somebody who's never been here before. That might not strictly be true, of course. With the desperate eagerness of backward hope, his eyes search the floor, the walls, the jagged edges of the skylight that splices gradiated bars of translucency through the cold moonlight— and then their faces. The three of them.

His face falls slightly the next moment. Caucasian, spiky dark hair, heavily defined cheekbones and eyes that probably default toward a squint under the weight of that brow even when it isn't so dark. He'd been hoping to feel something greater than that tingle of practical paranoia, but there's nothing. No sudden pillar of hate ripping up out of the murk, or flight of visceral terror to carry him above it.

"Roger Goodman sent me," he says. The whites of his eyes show, turning to and fro between the brown top of Gillian's head over Gabriel's shoulder and her human barricade. "I-is everything okay here?"

Gillian's words are easily dismissed as an addition to his, no sense of the telepathy transpiring between Peter and Gillian as Gabriel watches John Doe finally reveal himself. The stammered words don't seem to impress the erstwhile serial killer, a blank stare fixed on the newcomer before his hand goes out. John is not punished with a sudden hook of telekinesis, because not every problem in the world can be solved through such shows of that power (no, that's lasers), but instead—

Invisible strings draw up John's spine, make his arms go out like a marrionette caught in still motion. Gabriel's fingers are hooked in a way that might suggest an invisible, miniature form of John dangles beneath his hand exactly like a puppet.


"Syl— " Peter barely catches himself, "Gabriel, it's okay." One of Peter's hands comes out, motioning towards Gabriel's outstretched arm as he watches John go rigid, "Roger Goodman sent you?" A single, dark brow rises slowly, "he works for my father it— " caught off guard, Peter takes a few steps closer towards John, tongue wetting his lips before he asks the obvious questions with all of the wrong expectations for the answer.

"Why'd he… why'd Roger send you out here? Do you work for my father?" There's a squint in Peter's eyes, and Peter keeps a hand held back towards Gabriel, as if trying to assure a particularly vicious guard-dog that everything is going to be just fine.

Goodman… Goodman. What is that guy doing sending anyone to do his work? She thought he was messanger guy… Gillian's shock and possibly recognition may not be seen, because she's standing behind the person who doesn't know of her association with Pinehearst, but there's a sharp inhale and a shift in the beat of her heart. It could be a response to Gabriel's power use, though, since she's never seen that one before. But she's not really that startled. Under other conditions, she'd even be relieved. It could easily be the moving things thing.

The recognized name, the fact that the guy might have a reason to find them… they let her move a little back and a step away from Gabriel, so she can get a better look at the boyish sounding man.

Peter speaks up, recognizing the name outloud for her, letting her close her mouth and shake her head a little. "How did…" That Violet Bastard Taxi Cab Man know how to find them? Oh yeah, some jerkface in the room has a dad who can find anyone anywhere. Once again she's creeped out and nervous at the very idea. If Peter were poking around her brain, he'd get that again.

This unexpected swerve of events— marked by the unexpected stiffness of his own limbs— gets John finally doing that fear thing. Holy fuck! He could've told anybody that these three were Evolved, but he didn't expect to find himself suddenly dancing at yet another puppeteer's whim. Or perhaps worse, dancing in conflict the instructions of the original.

"Uuhhh," he says, helpfully. His eyes are ringed with white, pupils dilated almost out to the edges of his rises. His gaze switches between the three like a lightswitch rave, and he registers Gillian's recognition with obscure relief even as his flustered mind grapples with the instructions he was given.

He is going to need his hands to do this job. "I— I'm supposed to make sure you don't hurt each other. Mr. Petrelli said it was import-tant— do you think— could you— stop— ?

"Please?" John asks hopefully. He tries to brace himself, be ready for that instant's window of opportunity, but his muscles refuse to find any tension other than that unhelpfully inert, directionless scaffolding that Gabriel pinned him to.

Gabriel's hand remains steady for the moment, a guard dog with his jaws closed warningly around the throat of his prey but not yet biting down. Just holding, even as Peter assures him about how okay it is, gaze fixed on John and looking him over with a bland expression. He's heard more impressive pleading in his time.

In stilted steps, John is walked closer with a slight beckon of Gabriel's hand. Clunk, clunk, his feet drag on dusty, grimy floor, and Gabriel steps closer too, hand still held up, keeping him under control. Control, exactly what they had come to meet over. It's fun, isn't it?

"I'll stop," he promises, and then switches that searching gaze back towards Peter and Gillian. "As soon as I know what's going on."

"Damnit," Peter hisses out, turning his back to John as he faces Gabriel, "He's fine, he— he works for my father, he probably saw me coming here with," one hand dances in the air, "one of his powers, I don't know." Father. Powers? "Look, all I know is— " Peter turns to look back at John, then to Gabriel again, "come on, just let him go. If he works for Roger and my father, that's good enough for me."

Looking to Gillian, Peter's expression becomes more pleading, hoping that maybe she can get him to ease back some. It's hard, trying to manage a sense of diplomacy while not lashing out at Gabriel, while he acts and even speaks differently, there's so much about him that rings true of the man called Sylar. But in the two years that have passed since Peter started this long journey of his, one of his worst faults has never changed — sometimes he's just too trusting, "he's harmless."

"Gabriel it's— fuck I was going to tell you if you hadn't ran off to take care of something last night," Gillian says, looking down towards the library floor. Something she was bitter about at the time. But she didn't tell him on the way here either so… There goes that cockroach again, alive and well, skittering over another book. What do cockroaches eat in a destroyed library anyway? The things people think of when they're avoiding eye contact.

"Goodman— was the— the one who told me how I could help at the— with my ability, what it could do. He's kind of working with Peter's dad who…" She trails off.

There has always been things they couldn't tell each other. Didn't tell each other. And they're never easy when they come out in a way other than being told. But it always seems to happen. But there is plenty he hasn't told her too…

Aside of the momentary break spent plodding John across the floor toward the erstwhile serial killer and then a lot of glaring going on, the three are still talking, quibbling, equivocating or, if you want to get really creative: bickering. This isn't quite John Doe's moment yet. It doesn't matter.

He takes it for his own.

Crimson energy bursts out of the blank fabric covering his chest and crashes into Gabriel in a dozen twisting, crackling, electrically jagged fingers, chasing incineration up those invisible puppet strings from puppet to puppeteer. When they find their mark, there's an inexplicable instant, unalike to the one that comes before or the one that will come after, an eerie silence popped into the recesses of Gabriel's corporeal skull and esoteric mind like the shift in altitude compresses one's eardrums on the descent of an airplane. For an instant, the Hunger is gone.

The next instant, the noise returns. Abstract and physical both. Not even wasting the time to lift his arms, John's forefingers pop upward from his sides, one for the man who argues so generously on his behalf and the other who sought to chain him with an ability and perhaps kill him with another. Lighting flares around him; strikes. At each man first, between them second. Scarlet, a brilliant, epileptic triangle wave of warping color and unforeseeable shadows through the library aisles and twitching insect antennae.

John's face is screwed up a little around his nose: a grimace of hesitation. He'd apologize, but he has to concentrate now, a balancing act, of his feet stumbling on the decay and grime of carpet, of the forming triangle finding its third point. His left hand fetches high enough to bunch the shoulder of his jacket awkwardly, angles up over Gabriel's shoulder— at Gabriel's girl.

Gabriel is staring at Gillian too much, with an expression of What? on his face. He never does get vocalise that word, even if his mouth parts, suggesting he's about to do so, likely with a sassy head tilt and everything, when a future he's too distracted to notice comes slamming into the present.

So now he can answer his own question. Red lightning doesn't hurt. It's kinda tingly.

The puppet-hold on John Doe is snapped closed as soon as it hits, whether from his power or from Gabriel is hard to tell. Strings sliced apart and Gabriel's body convulsing when the electricity, or whatever it is, runs through his body, eyes going spacy and mouth open to say nothing at all, drawing in a gasp.

The floor has come up to hit him as the world seems to spin on a new axis, hand out to catch himself as lightning crackles over him, bounces off him into and from Peter, then into and from Gillian, but considering the intimacy of such a connection, Gabriel currently just feels like he's floating free.

What is happening?

A scream rips from Peter as one of the crackling red bolts rip through his back and out his chest, a dancing tendril of popping energy that burns sao white-hot at the core of each bolt, but fades to rich shades of ruby and crimson at the edges. The pain is not so much physical as it is spiritual, and the moment the first wave strikes Peter the shadows in the room quiver and tremble as if the unstill surface of a pond, before finally growing steady.

His back arches and hands go out as a wave of tingling sensation and sudden confusion wrack his mind. His thoughts cloud, memory becoming spotty as Catherine Chesterfield's unique pamnesiac gift is ripped from his mind. Turning, Peter leaves a brief after-image in the snapping fingers of electricity as he shimmers to turn invisible for a moment, and then finds it gone entirely.

"S-stop!" He croaks out as a silhouette of his own body is torn from him and laid onto Gabriel, sending Peter to his knees. One finaly jolt jostles Peter's head back wildly, sending his hair flinging out of his face, eyes wrenched shut. A choking, exasperated gasp comes as Peter raises one hand, fingers spread, "Stop!"

But nothing happens.

A horrified expression dawns over Peter at the lack of ability, lurching forward to get to his feet, but not before catching sight of something else moving in the corners of the library. One moment he wasn't there, the next he is, a tall and lanky figure draped in a brown trenchcoat with a gray hood drawn up over his head. "John, hurry up." The hollow, bass-filled voice sounds as though it is reverberating through a tin can, and as each heavy footfall crushes the floor beneath it, his face is quickly lit in the arcs of lightning, revealing a scarred iron countenance pitted with dents, clefts and scars.

Hematite eyes turn towards Gabriel, focused intently on the man before him, lips drawing back in a fluidic iron snarl, revealing ground down steel teeth. The growling noise Allen Rickham makes is like the wires from a guitar scraping up against the inside of an aluminum can, a horrible and throaty sound unlike any a man can make.

Peter lurches forward now, falling down onto his hands and knees, hair hanging in front of his face as he tries to catch his breath, tries to get the holes in his memory back in order, tries to get the hollow feeling of emptiness out of the center of his chest where it begins to set into place — a familiar emptiness.

Red lightning. There's a fraction of a second when she looks up, startled, eyes widening, the knot which vanished for a split second, unravels out of panic— They don't feel the effects of it, though, because everything happens far too fast for Gillian to even think about where the energy might go. Wouldn't have mattered much in this case, though. The split second is spent parting her lips to yell, worriedly about the fate of the two men with her, who get blasted first.

Red lightning. Just like the painting.

The painting didn't show Peter with red lightning. The painting didn't show it flying at her. There's not much time to think, before lightning strikes her, sending tingles everywhere, like extreme amounts of nitrous. The extremities are the most affected, followed by her head, her eyes.

The knot, even if she could tie it— is gone entirely. She doesn't feel it, she can't create it. The ability that Gabriel had taught her to use, is gone.

"What the— " is all she manages breathlessly, rasping, gasping for air as the tingles subside. It's amazing she doesn't end up laying on the floor, though she's stumbled back, hunched over. The heavy footfalls draw her eyes back up, panicked and widened, quivering with moisture for a moment. She meets the metallic man's eyes, his face. She knows who he is. She saw the Phoenix database on him, and his ability.

She takes a step backward, stumbles. She— she can't feel her feet.

The cockroach skitters by, running away from everything, when she stumbles back again, trying to catch herself. "What— what is— what— " the numbness spreads up her ankles, to her knees, to her thighs— further upwards. She starts gasping for air in terror. The shoes buckle under her, thick heels meant to handle a specific amount of weight snapping, sending her falling back, into the bookshelf. Where she shatters the lowest shelf with her butt. Breathing suddenly stops, mouth working wordlessly. The numbness has passed her ribcage.

And creeps up her neck. And now they can see it. Silver. Metallic. Just like the man walking down the stairs. Moving upward to parted lips which work as if to sleep, to her nose, to eyes, which blink. She doesn't look like she's in pain. Because she can't feel anything at all. Even as her long black hair starts to turn into thin silver threads.

There's something wrong with his— head. All of it. The world is quiet, and Gabriel can't hear heart beats save for his own pumping frantically in his chest, and everything is so distant sounding, as if cotton wool were stuffed into his ears. He shakes his head as if to clear it, that same kind of fuzziness descending inward, turning the last couple of years, starting from one instance in a diner, becomes a hazy recollection. He blinks stupidly at his hands splayed steady there.

Is this the amnesia? For a panicky, irrational moment, he wonders if his memories are going again, and he lets out a small sound of dismay, a whining growl, fingers curling against the ground.

No. No, his name is Gabriel. He remembers that. This isn't—

And there's also a certain kind of clarity, to make up for all the fuzziness. A sharp breakthrough distinct from the constant niggling he knows going on in the back of his mind, that constant need has just— vanished.

But then again, the skies are quiet, too. His stomach flips over.

Lifting his head from where he's kneeling on the ground long after the red electricity has ceased, Gabriel stares across the way towards where a statue has walked out of the shadows. What just happened? He can't remember— no, yes he can. Red lightning. Roger Goodman. He remembers, it just— it's not instantaneous, and neither is his recognition of the man who was supposed to be President of the United States. But he does, after two seconds, and his mouth pulls into a snarl.

Getting to his feet, Gabriel is quick to throw a hand out, not understanding how this man is here, just that he is. Blue-green light shoots out— wait. No, it doesn't. Gabriel stares blankly past his outstretched hand, much like that one time he had attempted to lift the late Dina with telekinesis, uncomprehending when he can't quite find that switch that makes it just— go.

Point. Point. He stares at his hand, and slowly does it, starts to— back away, heart thudding in his chest. Startled, Gabriel snaps a look towards where Gillian is making her future come true, too, open shock written on his face, and she might not be looking, but in his desperation to find the correct switch, Gabriel's eyes have started to glow— purple.

"I'll be right there." Rickham croons in that hollow, tinny voice, stepping aside to allow John to rush past him towards the front doors, "but first…" each heavy and crashing footfall comes thumping across the floor, and reaching up, Allen Rickham draws back his gray hood to reveal the horrifying realuty of his form, missing an ear that looks to have been sheared off of his head, face interspersed with dozens of dents and thin scars, a slash across his throat that looks like it was melted by one of Gabriel's lasers.

When Gabriel stands with hands outstretched, Allen moves with the momentum of a man several hundred pounds, balling up an iron fist to strike Gabriel square in the shoulder, spinning him around to knock him clear off of his feet and into one of the book shelves. "You're the one who did this to me!" His voice raises, a throaty and rattling cry as one booted foot scrapes across the floor.

Struggling to his feet, Peter gets up and holds his forehead with one hand, "Wait!" He manages to croak that out, watching John's escape, but then catches the impact of fist dislocating a shoulder as Gabriel is sent flying. Peter moves to throw his arm to one side, to toss Rickham like a heavy distraction away with telekinesis — but nothing comes.

One motion of Rickham's arm sends Peter flying across the room like the unnecessary distraction he is, turning his focus back to Gabriel, "Look what you did to me!" The voice is worse the louder it gets, crackling and groaning like metal scraping on metal; dark hematite eyes locked on Gabriel's.

This isn't exactly what Edward had in mind.

Everything is different.

For a moment, a bead of red lightning strikes her, but doesn't seem to have any affect at all. If it has an affect, it isn't apparent. The iron-colored skin doesn't disappear or fade. There's no change in the sudden loss of normal vision, or hearing. Gillian's mind is used to registering a certain kind of input, but there's something else all together. As the new vision settles in place, what she sees can barely be called sight. What she perceives is something horrible. How she recognizes who is who, she also couldn't explain. Small shifts in the way they move, the way they fall. The way their voices feel. That's what it is, really.

It's like she can feel sound. Feel sight. When she can't feel what she used to be able to.

And Gabriel and Peter are in trouble. That much registers. What's happened. What's going on. She puts her hand down, metal palm cracking wood, sending dust, as she pushes herself up. Hair doesn't move as it should, not quite the same, but it cascades in a slow and delicate fashion, like tiny strings that aren't as tiny as they should be.

The man hurting the two men stands out so much more. Maybe because he creates more vibrations when he moves, maybe because he emits the same vibrations back that she perceives. She can't even think about it. All she knows is… he's hurting Gabriel. And Peter as well. "Stop," she finally tries to speak, perhaps surprised when it rumbles out of her mouth in one form or another. It sounds distorted, very different, and vaguely similar to how he sounds.

Moving in broken heels isn't easy. Moving when she can't feel as she normally would isn't either, but that doesn't stop her from trying. Stumbling steps carry her toward him, cracking more delicate pieces of flooring, breaking a book as she steps over it, trying to get between the metallic man and the one he's focusing on. Gabriel. Once upon a time she knew she would jump in front of danger for him. Fight the end of the world. But she certainly never thought she would do it like this. "Stay away from him."

Choking on the library's dust of two years of neglect, Gabriel is clawing his way back up to stand, a struggling figure of dusky black, dust in his hair, eyes, all over his coat in patches from where he'd collided into the shelving in a blossoming cloud of wood debris and dust. He clutches his right arm to him protectively like a bird might try and fold a broken wing, shoulder screaming in pain from the blow, and his gaze is swimming by the time he's finally on his feet, staring dazedly at the monster coming closer, saying things—

Saying things that don't make sense. "I didn't— " Cough, groan. There's fury in his voice, matched only with pain. "I didn't do anything— " Well he did try to kill him that one time. Blood tastes metallic in his mouth from the impact, and Gabriel doesn't have it in him to object at first when Gillian comes to stand between him and the tinman.

Meanwhile, a power boost is unfurling everywhere, but drained mostly by the two in front of him who are actively using theirs. It's tempting to lift a hand, to wave it and send the metal man flying through the air, but some part of him knows that nothing will happen when he does. Namely because he can no longer remember how.

Protectee becomes the protector as Gabriel chooses to continue to stand behind Gillian.

Down the rain-musted hall, already one wall away, Tyler fires a glance back over his shoulder, twisting into a sideways, crabwise jog. He looks— appropriately disconcerted. "Big guy! Allen! Hey don't forget your damn orders!" he shouts. "Shit, Allen." Only two exclamations in, his chagrin dwindles down in his throat 'til he's muttering to himself. He's outta here, though. He can hear the mess behind him, those inhuman voices and the collision of body against plaster but, like the former President-elect, he has his orders and his priorities.

He twists on a heel and runs.

Rickham's steely snarl flashes as lips pull back to reveal gleaming teeth again, one hand balling up into a fist to pulverize Gabriel with one hammering blow. But then that hollow, metallic voice calling out from nearby catches Allen's attention, and his hematite eyes settle on Gillian, widening in disbelief as a dawning look of comprehension falls over him. Suddenly Edward's warning chimes in his ears again, and as Allen moves to take a step back, his foot crunches through the weak floorboards with a splintering of wood. "Nhhh," he struggles, yanking his leg out of the hole before stumbling backwards again, dark eyes moving between Gillian and Peter.

Perhaps John had it right, escape now, handle revenge later. Rickham backs up, snarling again with that guttural and metallic growling sound rumbling in the back of his throat, before turning one shoulder towards the wall and pushing with all of his strength to propell himself through the wall. Plaster, wood and stone shatters outwards as Rickhem launches himself through the wall in an explosion of stone debris, tumbling down the half story to the abandoned parking lot below.

When he lands, the pavement spiderwebs out beneath his feet, buckling and cracking under the weigh tbefore he pulls himself to stand straight, looking up at the hole his exit made before running off with thundering footfalls towards the shelter of nearby buildings. It's only now, as the plaster dust and mold spores drift through the air, that Gillian spots Peter lying twisted and battered on the ground, one arm bent in an awkward position, legs crooked and face pressed against the wall — not moving.

Yeah. Run away. Cow— NOT THE LIBRARY. "Fuck," she curses in that unearthly— or very earthly— voice. Watching the man move through the hole in the wall until he vanishes from sight. Sight. It isn't really sight at all, but there's nothing she can do about that. Turning back to face Gabriel, Gillian manages a weak smile. It looks like a smile, but even her teeth are metallic, her dimples— everything about her is metallic. She can't even feel the smile she's doing, but she somehow knows she's making it.

And then… Peter. That ruins the smile entirely. "Peter!" she yells, stumbling a few more steps until she finally breaks the shoes off entirely. Kicking the floor as she walks destroys the soles. "Gabriel— we have to— get him somewhere." Isn't he supposed to heal? Isn't this supposed to be fixing itself. Shouldn't it knit up and put back together? She can tell it isn't, even if she couldn't explain how she can. Maybe air pressure creates the perception of sight around his unconscious body.

Bending down as if to touch him, she pushes a book aside first and it goes flying, hitting the wall, binding breaking off, skittering even more dust.

She will need to be careful. Can she even touch him? What if she hurts him more…

"Gabriel, what's going on? What's happening…"

The metallic smile is not returned. Shell-shocked people rarely smile unless smiling into the face of deliriousness counts, but no. Gabriel is not delirious. He keeps his useless arm clutched to himself as Gillian's unnatural voice rings out in the library, drifting further from him as she moves for the crumpled form of Peter Petrelli, who is certainly not regenerating. Not even waking up as Gillian's earth-trembling footsteps draw her closer.

There's a clatter, and next she looks over her shoulder at her protector, he's slid to sit down on the cluttered floor, legs folded careless beneath him as he stares at the ground blankly. Still picturing that incredibly dense fist cocked to smash his head like so much rotten melon— his good hand drifts up to grip at his own forehead, palm rubbing down his dust streaked face before looking back at Peter. The puzzle pieces feel varied and scattered, he didn't get a painting—

"You did what he could do," Gabriel hears himself croak out. Hears, a liberal interpretation of the word. Everything sounds hollow and tinny, this isn't hearing at all. "His power, you took it. Oh, god, Gillian— I can't hear anything." The tinman and his companion could be just outside and he'd never know.

Maybe part of being metal all over means her biochemistry doesn't work the same. Gillian isn't reacting to panic and fear as she should. Or even as she used to. No shaking of her fingers, no quivering lips. Part of her knows she should be terrified, that she should be afraid that they'll come back. The two strong protectors who saved her life before— and sometimes tried to kill her… They're both injured.

She's not. She feels nothing how she should. That alone should terrify her more, but what she most fears is something else entirely— something happening to the two men.

What she's hearing from him is impossible. It shouldn't happen… But the last few months, she's learned just about anything is possible.

"We need to leave. We have to get him to a healer— or one of the safe houses, you too, both of you." They're both hurt. They both need medical attention. "We can't stay here. If they come back…" Stronger as she might be, more solid, more weighty— she doesn't know what she could do. She can barely walk. What if she can't even cross the distance to punch him in the face?

"Can you walk? I think I might be able to carry him— we just— we have to go, Gabriel." They can't stay here. But she's so afraid to touch him… Eyes move, hair glistens and flows, iron reflecting light. The bookshelf, broken. The book, with the binding busted. And the wall the man slammed through.

She's not understanding him. He can't hear so how is he supposed to walk— well supposedly he can. In theory. Ears and legs are pretty far away from each other. Frustration crosses his features but it's only a stand in for all the other emotions battling for priority inside. Disgust. Panic. True, burning anger. Confusion. Compared to Gillian's newly found numbness, Gabriel is the exact opposite, nerves rubbed raw with everything that just happened in the last two minutes.

His shoulder feels wrong, and he tries to jostle it, a pained 'hhnnn' through his teeth, but it— it helps. The physical pain of it, and there's nothing here he can— could— suck dry of life to fix it anyway. He's not sure Gillian counts right now. But the pain, sharp and earthy and pragmatic, forces him to focus. Okay. "Safehouse— Ferrymen not far from here," he agrees, voice coming out a tremor— but he's moving. On his knees, good hand flat against the ground, the other useless on his wrist— and getting up, swaying, standing.

"But then home." His voice breaks around the word home, which does little to mask the slight plea of his tone as he looks at the transformed woman with a mixture of fear and pure bafflement. He's not sure he wants to approach her. "Leave him with them and let's go home."

The nearest safehouse is ran through her memory, which isn't perfect, but at least isn't completely muddled in sudden imperfection. There's an idea how to get there in her mind too, like a simple road map. But Gillian whips her head around at him when he says to leave him there. Good thing she'd not tried to pick him up just yet, cause her hands clench into fists. "No. I won't leave him there."

The distorted voice is determined, trying to gain a raspy tone, and failing. It's more like… rumbling. Hard to tell if she's angry or determined, really. Could be both. "He didn't leave me in Antarctica once he got me to medical attention." Not even to look for the others. Sure, he also had the other unconscious girl with him, but… he didn't leave her. He was worried about her.

"You need medical attention too. We're not going anywhere until you're both taken care of." Both of them.

And… … "I don't know how to turn back." It's mentioned with a stop rumble again, almost a whisper through a solid surface. Can't feel anything. Can see anything as normal. Can't hear. Can't talk. Can't breathe. Everything is wrong. Everything is broken. "We're staying together…" Until they figure this out. Until everyone's okay.

Bending back down, she reaches to finally touch him, avoiding flexing her fingers at all. Metal palms slide under his injured form, and she scoops him up. It's the most careful she can be. It's like holding an infant. Only she's no taller, no bigger, than she'd ever been. Her hands are the same size as ever. And so is everything else. But nothing at all is how it should be.

Gabriel shuts his eyes after watching, for a moment, Gillian collect up Peter's crumpled form, the call to band together. Not so long ago, the three stood in unity, about to discuss the next step, to work together, to move as one through the situation they find themselves in.

The heart of evolution beats around the concept of change.

To learn about control, guilt and reckoning with weakness. It's all been yanked inside out. How can they pull together now that none of them know anything about that anymore? The dust is still settling by the time he's taking a few steps nearer, moving to follow her out of the library, casting a baleful glance at the gaping hole in the wall and then swiveling his gaze back towards where Gillian's hair might have sounded like windchimes to him.

The willingness to adapt and to grow. Are we the dominant species of our planet due to our influence over the way it behaves, or because of our ability to learn from the situations we find ourselves in?

The wind blows off the coast not so far from the library, ruffling clothing and hair. Moving down the steps, Gabriel stops short when he realises something, his good hand searching into his coat pocket, fingers finding and clasping around the pocketwatch there he just now realises he hadn't been able to hear.

But it's there. Ticking in time, or so he believes it to. He's not so sure anymore.

Time is a human concept that hurtles forward constantly, in a speed we try in vain to measure, to control, but there is nothing so out of our hands as time. The future will always be coming, and the past will always be left behind.

He's walking before his mind even catches up with his movements, foot steps falling on pavement and gravel and each one rippling pain through his body, a hot knot of it at his shoulder still shaped awkward beneath his coat.

So perhaps we can be defined by our willingness to shape the future, versus our desperation in fixing the past, but above all things… it is how we act in the moment when change, inevitable as time, is upon us.

But he's not following Gillian and the man in her arms. The road diverges, and Gabriel doesn't look back as he seeks a different sort of shelter entirely. The stride of a hunter, the same unstoppable, insatiable nature with which he painted the future, he follows a different bloodtrail, coat flapping in his wake as he leaves Gillian to pay back the man who had saved her.

To know that when the world spins off its axis, the sky turns to fire, and the ocean begins to boil…

Will you be ready?

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