So Much Melted Ice Cream


amato_icon.gif munin_icon.gif odessa_icon.gif sylar_icon.gif

Scene Title So Much Melted Ice Cream
Synopsis Three members of the Vanguard enjoy ice cream in Central Park before discovering something out of place.
Date November 10, 2008

Central Park

Central Park has been, and remains, a key attraction in New York City, both for tourists and local residents. Though slightly smaller, approximately 100 acres at its southern end scarred by and still recovering from the explosion, the vast northern regions of the park remain intact.

An array of paths and tracks wind their way through stands of trees and swathes of grass, frequented by joggers, bikers, dog-walkers, and horsemen alike. Flowerbeds, tended gardens, and sheltered conservatories provide a wide array of colorful plants; the sheer size of the park, along with a designated wildlife sanctuary add a wide variety of fauna to the park's visitor list. Several ponds and lakes, as well as the massive Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, break up the expanses of green and growing things. There are roads, for those who prefer to drive through; numerous playgrounds for children dot the landscape.

Many are the people who come to the Park - painters, birdwatchers, musicians, and rock climbers. Others come for the shows; the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Delacorte Theater, the annual outdoor concert of the New York Philharmonic on the Great Lawn, the summer performances of the Metropolitan Opera, and many other smaller performing groups besides. They come to ice-skate on the rink, to ride on the Central Park Carousel, to view the many, many statues scattered about the park.

Some of the southern end of the park remains buried beneath rubble. Some of it still looks worn and torn, struggling to come back from the edge of destruction despite everything the crews of landscapers can do. The Wollman Rink has not been rebuilt; the Central Park Wildlife Center remains very much a work in progress, but is not wholly a loss. Someday, this portion of Central Park just might be restored fully to its prior state.

There are plenty of reasons why Amato would want to take Munin out for ice cream. Last night is simply a very good reason to do so, and a somewhat warm November evening provides an ideal chance. Walking through Central Park with a cone of his own in hand, Amato savors the vanilla treat. He's dressed in his usual suit with his crimson scarf and long wool coat, his hands protected (and people protected from his hands) by his near-trademark gloves.

"I wish I had found a reason to look into her," he remarks on the tail of a conversation regarding his run-in with Eve at the pharmacy. The left side of Amato's face is bandaged across his brow, temple, and cheek to protect the blistering burn beneath.

Sylar is mostly tailing the duo, a few feet behind and watching their surroundings. Perhaps he offers a sort of protection against even further hell breaking loose, although tonight looks like it's proving to be quiet. He's wearing the same coat as he had last night, now cleaned free of blood so much so there's not even an outline of a stain. In his hands, he has one of those fancy waffle bowl style things, with a nice of modest helping of strawberry ice cream, which he pokes at with a plastic spoon. "I could give you a reason," Sylar volunteers, after listening to Amato's recount of his run-in with a precog of a very familiar name.

Pistachio is Munin's flavour of choice. Vanilla is a little too bland, strawberry a little too sweet, and chocolate a little too rich — this creamy blend of sugar, milk and nuts, on the other hand, is just about perfect. Her treat comes in the form of a cup rather than a cone or a waffle bowl, and she cradles it in the palm of one gloved hand while the other maneuvers a cheap plastic spoon, stirring the ice cream into a more yogurt-like consistency.

She's oddly silent as she walks alongside Amato, a slight limp to her step that isn't really noticeable unless someone is looking for it. All the real damage is concealed beneath her clothes: a heavy gray pea coat, white cashmere scarf and long black leggings that end in a pair of simple flats. No socks. Either the weather is mild enough that she doesn't need them, or she couldn't be bothered to slip any on before walking out the door.

"Is that so?" Amato asks over his shoulder as he looks back at Sylar. Perhaps the young man can be more than Kazimir's tool - perhaps he can be useful to each of them in turn. "What do you propose?" He glances from Sylar to Munin, giving the girl a smile that barely covers a look of concern before he returns his attention to the newest 'member' of the Vanguard.

He doesn't step up into pace beside Amato, content with his flanking position and his ice cream. He shrugs a little when Amato glances his way. "I know her," Sylar says. A quick glance around to confirm no one is close enough to really hear this conversation - the night time setting helps that, at least. "If there's anything useful to gain from her, it's because she's got connections with the groups you all have been targeting." 'You all', as if he's had no part. Of course he has. But it's not his plan, and so doesn't quite see it as his own mission. He licks some ice cream off his spoon.

The 'you all' catches Munin a little off guard, too. Although she keeps her gaze fixed straight ahead, watching the pathway as it unwinds, the corners of her mouth twitch down into a contemplative sort of frown. Her eyes move from bush to bush, tree to tree, fearful of even the slightest rustle of leaves. Every time a twig snaps, whether it's under her own feet or in the distance somewhere, her body tenses and the muscles in her aching shoulders and neck go perfectly stiff. Her heart busily jackhammers away at the inside of her chest — she's too paranoid to give her full attention to the conversation. Instead, she divides it between the men and their surroundings, not wanting to experience a repeat of last night.

"The moment you find yourself not wanting a part in what we do, Mister Wilkens, please feel free to inform our…employer." Amato's tone is cold and warning, and he pauses to eat a bit more ice cream before speaking again. "If these groups were to gain awareness of our doings, the Work could become compromised. Tell me, Sylar, how is it you came to know about our little Apple Tender?"

The back of Amato's head gains an equally cold look from Sylar, but he doesn't rush to defend himself, or clarify what he means. Just lifts the waffle bowl to crunch out a bite, now that the ice cream is almost gone. His other hand raises to wipe the back of his hand along his mouth casually. "She was among the sheep I led astray," he says. "Months ago. We've run into each other since then exactly twice. She tells me useful things, it's why she's still walking around. I can't think of why she'd want to desert her alliances."

"Maybe she doesn't," Munin suggests. Even her voice sounds bruised. "Maybe she's playing you."

Speaking of playing, there's a young woman just ahead on the path playing pretend. She's pretending that she's a seasoned New Yorker. A woman of the world. Of any world apart from the one beneath ground that she grew up in. Forlornly, Odessa Knutson stares at the credit card held between the thumb and forefingers of both hands. Correction, the stolen credit card. Once you've had the top of your skull removed, you really don't need your credit card anymore, do you? Is it really stealing? It's more like… Spreading the wealth, isn't it? Either way, that's a man's name on the card, and she most definitely is not a Harold. And so it's with a pout that she glances between the liberated plastic asset and the vendor selling coffee, newspapers, and the hot chocolate she wants. When one lives in a climate controlled environment, warm outfits aren't generally part of the wardrobe. The heather grey sweater dress just wasn't an adequate choice of apparel. And so she dances from foot to foot - incidentally clad in red patent leather, platform heels that fasten around her ankle with straps so wide and large buckles, they nearly resemble shackles. Doctor Knutson has never been known for practical shoes.

"What sorts of things do you tell her?" Amato asks, coming to a halt in the park and actually turning half way to better look at Sylar, the burned and bandaged side of his face closest to the younger man. "What if her obvious attempt at contact today was an effort of infiltration? What if-"

But the repetitive clicking of heels on the brick path grab Amato's attention, and he turns his head to look at the inadequately dressed blonde woman. She isn't really doing the best job at looking like a seasoned New Yorker - full of sass and snark. Who holds a credit card that way? Do stands like that one even take plastic?

Amato stands there staring, studying, for a few moments before he opens his mouth again to speak, his voice a whisper. "What can you tell about her?" he asks, and the question is obviously meant for Sylar, though it is equally open to Munin. Amato is well aware of Sylar's innate ability to read people, though the man may not have known that himself, and Amato can't explain how Sylar does this. He just knows he can.

That gains a bristling reaction from Sylar, who also halts as Amato does, posture defensive when he comes under the man's partial scrutiny. When he answers, he shows his teeth a little between words as he's wont to do when less than thrilled. "I didn't tell her anything," he says, tone, however, patient. "She asked me questions but I ignored them. If she knows anything about who you are, it's because she dreamed it." Despite the earlier line he drew between himself and the rest of Vanguard, it seems he doesn't respond well to the idea that he compromised the group any.

But the argument, or the potential of one, is readily diverted when he follows Amato's gaze and sees a familiar woman in a familiar outfit. Much like Amato, too, his gaze is drawn to the credit card in her hand, and unlike Amato, he can clearly see, even from this distance, that the name does not match up to the woman. "You're just running into all my old friends today, Mister Cassius," Sylar says, without taking his eyes off Odessa.

Tossing his unfinished waffle bowl towards a nearby trash can, he starts to move towards Odessa. If you have any caretakers with you, let me know so I can kill them before the night is out, is projected into the doctor's head.

When Amato stops, so does Munin. She turns her attention toward Odessa, saying nothing in response to the blond man's question; even if she could read Odessa at a glance, she understands that the question is directed at Sylar. Rightfully so. Scraping the last of the ice cream from the bottom of the paper bowl, Munin wrinkles her nose, makes a face and — following Sylar's lead — discards it along with the spoon in the same garbage can. She does not, however, move after him. Whatever he's about to do, she gets the distinct impression he'll have an easier time doing it if she hangs back, adopting a seat on a wooden bench a few feet off the path.

Odessa's head lifts suddenly at the sound of the voice heard only in her mind. She knows that voice. And, man, who knew someone could snap their head to the side that quickly to hone in on the source of a voice with no aural cues to direct them? Doctor Knutson's frozen in a moment of surprise, with her hands stretched out in front of her, fingers splayed wide. The credit card that was held so carefully between them has fallen to the ground without the faintest hint of sound, even by Sylar's spectacular standards.

Quickly, though, a smile claims the landscape of Odessa's face, brightening her up considerably. Her eyes are wide as saucers and filled with delight akin to a child on Christmas morning. (Though one has to wonder if Odessa ever experienced the stuff the analogy is made of.) Her attention is directed toward the gathering of the Vanguard, but the blonde only has eyes for, "Gabriel!" Frivolous little plastic card forgotten, she bounds forward enthusiastically toward the killer. Fearless, as always.

This is remarkable. Without taking his eyes off of Sylar and Odessa's interaction, Amato steps toward Munin's bench to lift a leg and lean one arm upon it. He continues to eat his ice cream as he watches, but it's an idle affair - after a few more licks, it is tossed into the can after Sylar's and Munin's.

The smile Sylar gives Odessa is one that one might give to a true old friend, as if they had just bumped into each other and now need to talk about what everyone else is doing for Christmas and they SO DO need to do coffee sometime it's been so long! "Odessa," he says, keeping his hands in his pockets and halting when she comes to meet him instead, several feet from where Amato and Eileen are watching on from the bench. Enough that they can pick up conversation in the quiet evening. "What are you doing out here?" He manages not to glance back to Amato, but he doesn't leave him entirely stranded. This time, his telepathic voice changes direction, sounding out like an echo inside Amato's head. She's a broken toy of the Company's.

"I was bored," Odessa says with a mischievous smile. "You see, they got Agent Bishop back and now they aren't finding Adam." This is obviously perturbing the girl. Endlessly. "So, I decided to… wander around. See what I could see." She leans in close to add in a conspiratorial whipser, "I'm lost and it's cold out here." She leans back again and frowns faintly, "They've probably figured out that I'm gone this time. There's a couple of agents who are getting pretty persistent. And Doctor Suresh is going to wonder why I'm not answering his calls." Chilly hands are rubbed together several times before they're hidden inside of too-long sleeves. "It is really cold out here." To her. But slowly, that smile returns to her face. "Do you think it'll snow?"

There's a lot of things Sylar is not, and one of them is a gentleman. But he's good at faking all those things he's not, and he shrugs off his navy woolen, double-breasted coat, draping it about Odessa's shoulders. For him, it's not particularly a cold evening - the long-sleeved blue button down underneath is warm enough - and he returns his hands to the pockets of his slacks. "Not tonight," he says, mildly, and darts a look around. If people are after Odessa, he'd ultimately rather be where she isn't. But that's always been the case. He looks her over once, then back towards where she had abandoned the credit card, and back to her face. "You don't have the next step figured out, do you."

The blonde is clearly disappointed. "I was hoping it would. I'd like to see it." She pulls the coat around her shoulders without so much as a thank you. "Why'd you do that?" Even Odessa isn't naive enough to think that the gesture was meant to be sweet. "You don't have to pretend to be something you're not with me." She slides her arms into the sleeves of the coat now for the added warmth. "Though I guess I suppose that means I should be thankful. So, thank you." While she's never been the woman with the plan, she's never liked admitting when she isn't on top of her game, either. She doesn't have to admit that she hasn't figured out the next step - her acquiescence to the assessment goes unspoken.

The doctor tugs the collar tightly at her neck and sighs deeply as she basks in the way it blocks out the chill. She quirks a smile and an eyebrow to go with it. "You've been busy. Your coat smells as sterile as mine does after I've had a bleeder." That's an affectionate term. Really. "Have you got a new trick to show me?" Staring into Odessa's eyes must be something like looking into a mirror for Sylar, reflecting a very familiar hunger.

"Will she be missed?" Amato whispers, knowing full well that Sylar can hear him further down the path as if he were right next to him, if not closer. "What sort of toy? What…bells and whistles does she possess?" He glances to Munin before he removes his leg from the bench, only to sit down beside her, leaving a comfortable distance between them.

"There's something wrong with her." Which says a lot, coming from Munin. She keeps her voice low, and though her words are meant for Amato, Sylar can undoubtedly hear them as well. She wraps her arms around herself to keep warm, gloved hands tucked under her armpits so her the tips of her fingers don't go numb. "What's he doing?"

Sylar's head twitches to the side just a little when Amato whispers his contribution, but he's prepared to answer Odessa first than the older man. "Why tell me you're cold if you don't want warmth?" he asks Odessa, plainly. "Just like you tell me you want to leave your company, assuming I'll do something about it." His mouth twists up in a smirk. "I have several new tricks, but trust me, you have no idea what I had to clean that coat of. I'd be surprised if your people hadn't heard about it yet." Now, he tosses out some words to Amato, with, I don't know exactly what she does. But she's evaded me before, evaded her own people. And he hears Munin, managing not to react outwardly, but now his voice drifts through her head too. There's something wrong with all of us, Eileen.

He has her there. Odessa merely shrugs, but then she tilts her head to one side, peering curiously at Sylar. And then to the coat he's given her. "Did it resemble…" She trails off for a moment, feeling the fabric of one sleeve beneath her fingers. "Cherry cobbler?" Her head lifts again and she grins once more. I know something.

Amato's attention goes to Munin when she speaks, but his eyes soon settle on Odessa, as if looking at her might pull out that flaw. 'Wrong' can be relative or absolute, and in this case, Amato is settling on the relative definition of the concept. "What makes you say that, corvo?"

"That isn't what I meant." There's a difference, at least in Munin's mind, between what's wrong with her family and what's wrong with Odessa — around Amato, Ethan and the others, she at least knows what to expect. Odessa is a big blonde question mark. She can't say she likes the way the other woman is behaving, either. One has to question the wisdom of venturing into this kind of weather without a jacket of one's own.

Or maybe it's just the shoes.

Munin reaches over, momentarily placing a hand on Amato's arm as she leans in close enough to whisper, "It's getting late. I'm going back to Ethan's." She doesn't know what rubs her the wrong way about Odessa, only that it does.

After last night, Amato isn't too keen on letting Munin out of his sight - overprotectiveness has gone up a notch. "I'll walk with you," he more states than offers, getting up and offering a gloved hand to the young woman to assist her. Not that she needs it, but with recent injuries, he isn't not going to offer a hand. "Be careful. And a sample of hair would be nice," he whispers, and with the glance thrown to the pair further down the path, it's obviously meant for Sylar.

Sylar raises an eyebrow at that, pauses, then says, "Interesting way to describe it." And she's giving him that smile, so he has to add, "You'd never guess what I saw when I looked into his brain. Doubtful you've gotten a chance to study it with the way they melt like so much ice cream." Proverbial rulers out and ready. He, again, manages not to glance Amato and Munin's way. Done, he confirms to Amato, in that he'll achieve the small task handed to him.

Odessa shivers, and you can bet it isn't from the cold. "I wish I could have seen it. I got to watch the cells break down one by one until there was nothing left but…" Playfully, she smiles and paraphrases his words back to him, "So much melted ice cream."

Munin takes Amato's hand in her own and rises from the bench. She isn't privy to Sylar's half of the conversation, but she can guess what his response will be even before the pair turns and begins to meander back the way they came.

November 10th: The Doctor is Out

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

November 10th: Welcome to the Vanguard
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