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Scene Title Seeker
Synopsis Taking Teo's advice to heart, Tavisha looks to the skies for answers.
Date February 16, 2009

Staten Island Boat Graveyard

Exactly where land gives way to water at this point of the island's edge is uncertain - first because of the saltgrass growing everywhere, both on dry earth and in the shallows, giving the illusion of solidarity; second for the structures visible in the distance, drawing the eye away from the deceptive ground, suggesting its reach extends beyond its grasp. Even if the structures are still recognizable as ships, and nothing that ever belonged on land.

There are a multitude of them, abandoned hulls of salt-stained wood and rust-pitted steel, dying slow and ungraceful deaths as wind and water claim their dues. Some still appear to rest upright, braced upon the debris of older, lost relics below; others list to one side, canted at an odd angle like someone who just struggled to the surface in search of a desperate breath. There are no hands to pull these hulks from the water, no ropes to save them from drowning; each has been surrendered to the sea, left to the ravages of unmerciful time.

At low tide, some of the closer ships can be reached - not without getting soaked, but such is the price of daring. Never mind that the rotting metal and splintered wood are the stuff of nightmares for any germophobe, definite hazards to the unwary. The more distant ships are distant indeed, beyond the reach of all but the most bold - and are all but submerged besides.

The surface of the ocean is a blurring, shifting plain of silver. But really it's just the liquid interplay of darkness and light, as moon and star reflect off nighttime water and the choppy waves create movement, turning grey. Up here, it's silent and cold, gaze dipping down, towards the broken shells of the boat husks, towards the calling voice, or siren, or urge, sharper than instinct. Beckoning.

To me. To me.

The seabird flaps his wings harder, propelling himself faster through the dark sky, a downward trajectory and if he doesn't watch himself, he'll dash himself against rusted metal in a smear of bones and feather, but still, he flies over the river. It's urgent he follow the voice. He doesn't know why and doesn't question. He only flies.

To me. Bring her to me.


Tavisha's eyes snap open around the time the seabird touches down on a hull of a boat a good distance away. The visions, fleeting and as choppy as the waves, end as he releases his hold on the bird, and his eyebrows angle down in some frustration. Perhaps Teo was playing him, like so many might, occupying his attention on this bizarre ability with empty promises. The bird, released of the summons, strokes his own wings with his scarred beak for a moment, before launching off the icy metal of the dead boat, wheeling over Tavisha's head and disappearing inland.

It's late, and it's cold. Tavisha is seated on a jetty, the end half of which is destroyed perhaps by bored vandals, this place, once a tourist attraction, abandoned. He's dressed dark beneath the green woolen coat, his arms wrapped loosely about his knees, watching the shapes of the dead boats against a darker horizon, the half moon casting shifting light on the water. Behind him, saltgrass shifts in a gentle breeze. He sighs out a breath of steam, tilts his head up to the clear sky, and tries again.

Voices drift in with the breeze, abstract thoughts and imagery made tangible by the mental thread Tavisha leaves unwinding — the bitter sting of the winter's chill biting his nostrils, someone else's heart busily jackhammering away in his chest, so small he could crush it in his fist, the distant rustling of many mice burrowing in the dead leaves as an owl swoops overhead on silent wings, its dark shape blotting out what little can be seen of the moon through skeletal branches dripping with lichen and ice.

They're foreign sensations, all of them, and while Tavisha is still only beginning to learn how to sculpt this facet of his ability, his understanding of it comes with the knowledge that none of these experiences belong to him. Not really. They come from the birds, fed through the tentative link that exists between his mind and theirs.

It may be difficult for Tavisha to distinguish their thoughts from the sound of footsteps on the wooden planks comprising his jetty, but even if he fails to separate it from all the other noises trickling into his ears, it will be even harder for him to ignore the shadow cast by the figure that now stands behind him.

Ask, and ye shall receive.

He sees the sky, the earth tilting down below it, the sudden dash through branches as a killing bird finds its prey, fragmented, haunting, and for a moment, the time it takes his heart to pump blood once, he sees the view before him… a couple of feet upwards. And then, the slice of shadow, and with metaphorical silver scissors, Tavisha quickly cuts the thread of connection. All at once, the visions, the sounds, the unraveling thread of his sense of self all drops to nothing, and he can hear the groaning of the ships, his own heartbeat, and something similar just behind him.

Hands plant against the rough wooden jetty, pushing himself up, and turning even as he backs away, just a few steps. Where he'd go, hard to say, even unbroken jetties lead out to a dead end and cold water, but distance seems necessary now as he drags a dark gaze up the form of whom has come to join him out here, at this time of night. Recognition, but not the kind to be expected, flashes across his features.

"…I thought it would be you."

The young woman's hair tangles in the wind, blown about her face like long ropes of black sand along the shore. Eyes as green as Teo promised they would be study him from beneath heavy lashes, uncertainty written across her features. He told him she'd be as thin and white as matchsticks, and he was right — clothed in a woolen coat for warmth, long black stockings and leather gloves to protect her delicate hands from the cold, it's Eileen's pale face that stands out the most.

She doesn't approach any further than she already has, though her body appears taut, posture reminiscent of a saucer-eyed cat shifting its hindquarters in preparation to pounce. One leap could close the distance between them. She doesn't budge.

Almost self-consciously aware of the heavy sounding beat of his own heart, Tavisha has to remind himself than not everyone has his hearing, even if he could somehow find a way to still his own heartbeat. In the darkness, he studies her face, pale skin easily catching every light source available to it around luminous green eyes. He doesn't explain that he saw her once, fleetingly, in the market place, the silence from the young woman prompting him into a similar reverie as he tries to find something— anything— in the smoke-like haze of older memory. But there's nothing.

"You know me," Tavisha prompts, a repeated line, now with an almost whining note of anxiety. Muffled hope. Wariness. All at the same time. The wood creaks, tellingly, indicating that the young man is somewhat nervously shifting his weight from foot to foot, and he ceases as soon as it becomes audible. His hands grip onto the opening of his coat, keeping it shut against the cold. "Say something."

"I know you." If it weren't for the fact that her mouth moves in time with the words coming out of it, Tavisha could pass them off as another whisper from the voice in his head. They are one and the same, right down to their inflection, the hint of a foreign accent woven subtly through it.

There's something different about him. Eileen felt it when she first sensed him reaching out to her. Here stands the man called Sylar, but he's no more the man she knew than she is recognizable to him — she's staring into the face of a stranger. "Where have you been?"

The voice. Something slides into place, a puzzle piece found a home. Unfortunately, it's just another piece of sky, as nonsensical as all the others. But it's something, and in the shadows, Tavisha almost lets himself smile, a flash of white teeth catching the minimal light before it fades. "Eileen," he murmurs. Name to face to voice. Perhaps it's not just a piece of sky. It might have a bird in it, or something.

He's being asked a question, which seems ludicrous when he has so many, too many to actually put words to, and too many that are too dangerous to ask in the first place. The wood underfoot creaks again, and this time, it's due to the fact he's circling her in slow steps, looking her over. "I've been around," he says, elusively, as he disappears past a shoulder. "Lost, mainly."

The circling is at least familiar — what is Sylar, in Eileen's experience, if not a predator? She might find some small degree of comfort in this behaviour if she looked. Instead, she focuses on the sensations she feels his presence stirring. The Rookery is alive with stories of a monster that can kill with a touch and reduce men to dust and bones just by breathing on them. Fear is beginning to become palpable, manifesting in a slight hitch when she breathes. What if Abby wasn't successful? What if—?

Eileen refuses to even think about it. "Lost?"

"You know," he breathes out in a half-hearted chuckle, as he moves around, reappearing at her other side and standing there at that angle, studying her profile, "you're far less taciturn in my head." His expression turns slightly more serious and softens, head tilting down to briefly study his shoes, then back up again. "Lost, since the beginning of this month," he confirms. "Found first." Head tilts out towards the ocean, gaze shifting to indicate it. "By strangers. But everyone's a stranger, to me. I don't know you, I'm sorry. I ran into a man who said we were…" What? Teo never specified. Tavisha starts again. "He said I'd know you if I looked to the sky."

"In your head," Eileen repeats. "Lost." He doesn't remember her. All at once, emotion washes over her face, eyes growing bright and wet, though no tears gather in their corners. She's spent the last two weeks assuming he was angry with her for the role she played on the bridge, and truthfully, suffering his ire even at its very worst would have been preferable to this.

She glances over at him, struggling to adopt a more guarded appearance. Taciturn? She can work with that. "He was wrong, then. You looked and you still don't know, do you?"

Gently, Tavisha shakes his head. No, he doesn't know. His arms wrap around himself, a common posture against the cold, but it's also self-conscious. "But I guess I know more about me," he says, studying her guarded expression, and something like—

Sympathy? Sympathy crossing his own expression. He turns his shoulder to her, so that they might stand side by side on the jetty, the wind pulling at their coats and hair, as if trying to beckon them forward, towards the icy water they face. "To be fair, he was kind of cryptic. He just said that— we shared something, and I'd find it in the sky. And then I would find you. I don't exactly know what finding you means."

And it occurs to him it might be polite to share the name of the man who lead him down this path to her, one Tavisha isn't sure, anymore, this young woman even wanted him to take. "Teo. I don't know him, really." Fellow loiterer in an alleyway, that hardly passes for friendship.

It seems only fitting that it would be Teo. Eileen has lost track of the number of times he's meddled in their business, either directly or by using methods more arcane and shifty than someone with both his feet planted so firmly on the ground perhaps should, and for once she's grateful.

"This is the happiest I've ever seen you," she says, and in contrast there's nothing cheerful about her tone. Eileen is strangely solemn, almost repentant in the manner she regards him. "Maybe it's a blessing you don't remember what happened between all of us." Because God knows no one else will ever forget.

A puzzled glance is sent her way, a short moment of silence broken up by the continual lap of water beneath their feet. Night sounds of rural Staten Island as their backdrop, and the continual brush of saltgrass. "You don't know if I'm happy," Tavisha says, a little accusing. Maybe defensive. Then it occurs to him— "Unless everything really was as depressing as I imagine it to be," he adds, somewhat dryly, and letting his gaze swing back out to watch the distant, dark horizon.

And he doesn't even know the half of it. He keeps his hands tucked, where his arms are folded, shoulders lifting up in both a shrug and a bid for warmth. "And maybe I am. If ignorance passes for happiness. But I'm not, you know." Another glance, searching for— something. Unsure what. Connection. "Ignorant. I know— why I run into people who run terrified from me. And what I can do."

There's a question there, unspoken, and he watches her with such intent as if trying to silently find the answer himself. But even with that, the familiar studiousness, he doesn't quite have the severity of the man Eileen's used to, a naive, unassuming softness more reminiscent of the man he used to be even before that.

It's a side of him Eileen has only snatched brief glimpses of. To see him laid bare like this makes a faint smile twitch ruefully at the corners of her mouth, and she finds herself wondering if he was as vehement about hiding this part around Gillian Childs as he was with the Vanguard. When she touched him, did he recoil?

"Everybody's scared," she intones gently, her voice blending in with the murmuring saltgrass. "It's just easier for them to cope when their fears have a face. You're the Boogeyman, but you're also my friend. My family. What's left of it, anyway."

Family? He doesn't feel English, which he actually almost says until he catches up with himself and halts the words. Gets the sense that perhaps some things are thicker than blood, which leads into other questions entirely, but that's yet another he desperately doesn't want to ask. His eyebrows twitch up a little. There's a new title. The Boogeyman. Midtown man. Death embodied. Sylar. Adam's apple shifts under the skin of his throat as he swallows, dryly, unsure of what to do with the sins he doesn't remember. Guilt, maybe. But how.

"If I killed all those people," he says, softly, "I don't understand how anyone— you. Gillian." Not a name that makes sense to him, but at least Eileen knows it. "How I'd have friends, much less family. I don't think monsters— " Even as he says the word, it conjures up a memory. Not even a memory, a memory of a dream, and an abstract one at that. Tavisha's eyes shut briefly. Man. That had been the word. In place of Monster. "— could," he finally finishes, after that hitch.

Eileen's eyes narrow a fraction at the name. Teo talks maybe a little too much. "You're not a monster," she hisses, declaration escaping her in a rush of breath. "Arrogant, yes. Self-absorbed, more so than almost anyone else I've known. But for all the lives you've taken, there are millions more you helped to save."

One of her small hands finds his arm and she closes her fingers around it, nails digging into his coat through the soft leather material of her gloves. "We all have our faults. Being undeserving of love isn't one of yours."

Tavisha has the sense not to argue with her, as to whether or not he's a monster - just some inbuilt sense of morals is telling him that murderers and destroyers of cities might lend themselves to being monstrous. But she knows better than he does, and so he stays quiet, listens, and gives a small smile at arrogant and self-absorbed, equal parts amused and fascinated.

Like maybe he's a real person after all, or something. He wonders, also, if he was always quick to anger, but he keeps that one, like so many others, to himself. Besides, the grip on his arm derails that train of thought, drawing his gaze to it, then towards her pale face. Eyes that take up half of it, it seems, just as Teo said they would. "Maybe," he agrees. "Maybe no one's really undeserving."

Saved people. That puts a new spin on things, paints a prettier picture. Teo had mentioned— what had he mentioned? Hard to mine out the fact from the code, but he'd— shot the worser villain in the back, that's right. Tavisha turns to her now, intrigue written on his face. "What happened on the bridge?" It's a stab in the dark. But if this doesn't fit like it should, then he has no idea.

What happened on the bridge is impossible to accurately put into words. Instead, she moves her hand down the length of his arm and, with the same amount of ferocity with which she gripped his coat and none of the abruptness, she winds her fingers around his and holds tight as if her very life depending on it.

This, it says. This is what happened on the bridge.

Eileen rubs her thumb along the curve that joins his index finger and thumb, reliving the memory, sobered by the knowledge it's now hers alone. He doesn't remember what happened, can't even begin to fathom what he sacrificed just to keep her out of the water.

It's only then that she verbally acknowledges his question, and lends her voice to the hoarse answer.

"Armageddon. We stopped it."

Tavisha looks down at their joined hands, something triggering— a memory, kind of, a fleeting hallucination. The rush of water, the deathly pull downwards, arm tearing out of its socket as concrete slams him further down into the churning water, and the even more gut wrenching loosening of a hand from his, fierce grip broken. For the best, or maybe she'd be dead too.

Her gaze is only met when she speaks, blinking away a haunted look, and in the next moment, Tavisha barely even recalls what he'd grasped, gone again. Armageddon. So the world was saved, and this is the aftermath they live in, and Tavisha isn't even able to remember whether it was better or worse than before. His hand squeezes hers, eagerly responding to this sign of kinship, even if he's just pretending.

"What do I do now?"

What do any of them do now?

"Live." Eileen releases her hold on Tavisha's hand, her arm falling back to her side. There, she balls it into a fist, leather stretched over the miniscule ridges that are her knuckles. "Start over. If your memories of everything that came before are the price you pay for getting a second chance, then you're one of the lucky ones. I'm glad you don't remember me — as far as I'm concerned, there's not a lot worth keeping except for what I gave you."

Which brings them to the most unpleasant part of their conversation, at least for Eileen. "You won't find Gillian by looking to the skies, and you won't find her here either, but the two of you belong together. Seek her out."

As she lets go, Tavisha's brow lowers a little, not exactly in suspicion, but that— troubles him, that someone who cared about him, that he had to have cared about in return, would want him to forget. Maybe it's better this way, rather than rekindle it. Make new friends. Start over. Tavisha keeps himself visibly guarded, this time, hands retreating into the pockets of his coat, head ducking a moment— only for her to mention that name. He allows himself to get diverted.

"I…" Belong together. Tavisha glances across the water, mouth forming a line for a moment, before he admits, "I'm not supposed to leave this island. Because of who I— was. Too much risk that— I'll get arrested or something." A glance her way, a raised eyebrow. "Start over, except for her?"

Now it's Eileen's turn to choke out a miserable little laugh, hollow, mirthless, dead-sounding thing though it is. "You loved her." If getting a second chance comes at a price, and Sylar's payment is losing his memories of the Vanguard and everything that came before it, then it seems only fitting that losing him should amount to hers.

Maybe Tavisha is right. Maybe it's true that no one is undeserving of love. Eileen just doesn't see that way.

"If you don't want to leave the island," she says, voice growing steadily tighter and thinner at the same time, "then ask Teo to bring her to you. His people have ways."

Love. It has implications, both pleasant and not. That he was right, that there were people out there whom he mattered to. That he had left someone behind. At the same time… what an obligation, to try and find love for something you don't remember. Uncertainty forces Tavisha not to really answer her advice, save for a brief nod. He needs to think, first. He does have a question for Gillian, at the very least: why 'Gabriel'? Maybe… she has insight to the man beyond Sylar. That didn't seem like a real name anyway.

Still. How far can he dig?

"If you want to find me," Tavisha finds himself saying, "you can ask for Tavisha, at the Pancratium." She lives in the Rookery anyway, she should know something of that, and at least not find too much danger if she one of its working parts. Funny, how he casts out these lines to people. Teo has yet to leave a message for him at Shooters. Somehow, Tavisha thinks he may need to rely on birds sooner than the girl in front of him.

Tavisha. The struggle to keep herself from spitting the name back out drains what little willpower Eileen had in reserve, leaving her looking tired and overcome. Tavisha? Really? "If I find Gillian before you do," she says, "I'll pass the message along. The only thing I ask for in return is that you keep an eye out for a man named Ethan Holden." She swallows, hard, inhaling deeply before she summons the energy to continue. Maintaining composure is easy when you feel completely and utterly defeated. Locating and then pursuing a single train of thought isn't. "I heard he was being held there against his will, but I need to know for sure."

Tavisha starts to nod— then pauses, almost baffled. "I think you're mistaken," he says, gently, eyes narrowing under serious eyebrows. "It's not like that, the fighters are all paid." A quirk of a smile, a roll of his eyes, serious demeanor ebbing a little. "Not a lot, but enough. But if you're sure, I can listen and— I guess, send you a bird if I hear anything." Birdmail. The way of the future. "Ethan Holden." He repeats the unfamiliar name, mostly to demonstrate that he has it, and takes a step back. A pause, Tavisha trying to summon up another 'thank you', but one he feels makes sense, this time. "You didn't have to come find me," he says, a tone of finality in his voice. "But I'm glad you did. I was starting to think there was nothing worth remembering."

"Not nothing," Eileen agrees. "Never nothing. If that was the case, it wouldn't have been taken from you." Punishment. Penance. She isn't sure what this is, not for either of them — she just wants it to be over. As Tavisha takes a step back, she remains where she is on the jetty, staring out over the ocean, her ears filled with the sound of the waves rolling up onto the shore, accompanied by steady, almost imperceptible note of decay that defines the boat graveyard. It creaks, rumbles, moans, all without drawing attention to itself.

Eileen is starting to wish she could do the same.

"You should go."

Scanty goodbyes, followed by dismissal. And no guarantee that they'd find each other again. She is, after all, looking for someone else. Holden. More family, perhaps. Family that remembers her. As Eileen keeps her eyes trained on the ocean, she's rewarded only by the sound of footsteps as Tavisha walks away, and fainter still when he reaches the grass, the sharp and quiet flick of a lighter.

Not a habit Sylar had ever taken up, but he had known who he was. He had no need to fit in with those of similar habits. Tavisha is less than fortunate, draws acrid smoke into his lungs as a result of being an identity that meshed with those he associated with. He walks away with more information than he began with, but a hollow kind of emptiness Eileen might understand.

Fortunately for Tavisha, it would likely fade that night, a superficial regret of something lost but without the foundation to cause him real emotional injury. He can move on. He can start over. Not everyone has that luxury.

February 16th: Not Vigilantes
February 16th: Nothing Legal
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