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Scene Title Special
Synopsis Sylar goes hunting. Sometimes the prey fights back.
Date January 4, 2009

Rudy's Pub

It's like the good old days.

Seems like an age ago, not a couple of years, that this was his life. The continual cross-country hunt, indiscriminate, burdened with this shiny new hunger and task of evolutionary imperatives. Sylar, thinking back, reflects on how naive this was, how selective he's being now. But in the end, it's still the same. A death is a death.

He sits at the very corner of the pub, a half-pint of American beer in front of him, mostly drained, and now he patiently turns it between his hands. A baseball cap is lowered enough to cast shadow over his features, a bulky jacket hiding his frame, and he listens, carefully, through the nighttime noise to the conversation going on at the bar. Two men are seated there, after a long day's work, one slightly more drunk than the other, the former of which pulling out money to buy another round.

"Live a little," the one says. His name is Something Callaghan - Sylar hasn't yet caught his first name, the man only addressed by his last - and he's pushing bills towards the bartender. "One more for good luck, then I can puke in your car on the way home."

"Jesus Cal, I just had the thing cleaned out after my nephew's birthday caravan. Cotton candy's a bitch," Detective Craig Christman is still sober enough to drive, at least by his standards. He's a good cop, but he's also a cop who drinks, and who thinks he can handle more than he actually can. "Little fuckers. I found life savers and gum ground into the carpet. They were in my car for all of ten minutes! Tell ya. I'm never having kids." he tosses up a hand. "So no, no more for the road. And go wash your face for god's sake. You've still got whipped cream on your face from that shot."

The money is dragged back and shoved into his wallet, Callaghan shooting him a look and bringing up the back of his hand to wipe it across his own mouth. "One day, I'll give you a reason to bitch for once," but all the same, Something Callaghan pushes himself off the stool and makes his meandering way for the mens'. Too much beer will do that to good men, cops included.

Sylar tracks the man's gaze across the bar, and looks once more towards Detective Christman, who finishes up his drink while waiting. Sylar gives it about a minute, before he drains his drink completely, keeps his glass in hand, and slides out from his seat. Head lowered, hands in his pockets, he makes for the bathroom as well.

Two heart beats. This, Sylar can hear even before he opens the door. But fortunately, one man is on his way out by the time Sylar reaches the sink, not a foot away from where Callaghan is washing his hands. The door closes, leaving them in peace, and Sylar says nothing at all as he brings up the glass in his hand to bring it down upon the back of Callaghan's head. A shatter of glass, the bright smear of blood and Sylar briefly catches the detective's startled, pained expression in the mirror before he collapses. Working quickly, Sylar snatches him by the collar, and drags him towards one of the bathroom stalls. He steals his clothes, his wallet, and his identity, and reflects on the irony that Callaghan is actually the man's first name, if his ID is to be truthful. Callaghan Michaels. Well, why not?

For all intents and purposes, for all appearances, it's Callaghan Michaels, too, that emerges from the bathroom, offering a smile to his friend as he adjusts his own shirt collar. "Ready to go?" Sylar asks of Craig.

"I was ready to go a half an hour ago. That waitress isn't coming back in, Cal. Besides, she thinks you're a fucking dick, and so do I sometimes," longsuffering, grumpy. But in a good-natured way. That's Craig. "With how often I drag your ass home fucking hammered after hitting on other women, I wonder how long before Christine dumps you too?" But despite the harsh words, there's a note of jealousy as well. He tugs out his keys, then tugs on his jacket. He's completely oblivious to the fact that this man is not his friend. When his sleeve goes up, there's something strange around his wrist. Dark, flaking skin. Sometimes when he gets drunk or agitated, he loses control of his armor reflex.

Sylar's head tilts a little at the banter sent his way. It's outside his realm, certainly, but he's always been a reasonably good actor. When he speaks, his voice, his cadence, his accent is very much that of Callaghan's. "Why the hell do I hang out with you?" he says, moving for the door at a wide gait, Dutch confidence. "It's a good thing I have a thick skin." He shoots a look over his shoulder at Craig. "You'd know all about that, right?"

"Funny, I constantly ask myself the same question," says Craig, his tone wry. There's a hint of a smile. He fingers through his keys until he comes up with the right one. "Ha ha. Yeah, I've never heard that one before." He's walking a few steps behind Sylar when his phone rings. He keeps walking as he has a brief, stunted conversation with the person on the other end of the line. Problem is, he hasn't made any confident steps in the direction of any car.

Which. Is unhelpful. Sylar, not entirely sure of the direction he's going, slows right down once they make it outside, hands tucking into "his" jacket pockets in a casual posture. His shoes scrape against cold parking lot cement as he turns towards Craig, putting on an impatient expression as the man speaks on his phone— and his eyes dart, a glance towards the pub they just emerged from, a flash of wariness. Better to leave as soon as possible, it wasn't the cleanest of operations.

"Uh huh. Well…." Craig steps, kicks at a bit of snow, then rocks back. "…yeah. Yeah. I've got a meeting with the DA on Tuesday." Then he pulls the phone down just far enough to say to Sylar, "Car's open. It's Marleen. I'm going to be a minute." Then he turns his atttention back to the conversation. "…well, what? He knows that the scene was secure."

Strange, how life works this way. Sylar doesn't move, barely bats an eye at the reply he receives. Doesn't offer up reasoning as to why he can't head towards his friend's car. If there's any real change to his demeanor, it's that his expression frosts over, perhaps into something he's more accustomed to, eyes hooding. He waits, simply looking, head cocked to the side.

It takes a minute or two more before Craig hangs up the phone and slips the cell back into his pocket. He looks to Sylar and blinks at the expression on his face. "What? It was work!" that's as much of an explanation as he feels he needs to give. Now he makes confident strides towards a white Saturn. He moves around to the driver's side door and pulls it open.

Sylar lets him move by him, a dimpled smile easily gracing his features once passed by, before, with a jovial lope, he follows after Craig towards the car. Away from the pub with an unconscious policeman in the bathroom. "You realise this is why you won't ever get a girl?" he says, over the top of the car as he goes for the passenger seat door. "You can't even walk out of a bar without taking your work home with you." An accurate assessment? Maybe not. But it's a flippant judgment anyway.

"Hey, you work one of Van Alman's cases, then you can complain. His office calls me at all hours. Yesterday night I had to go in to the lab at ten PM because his assistant didn't know how to read an evidence bag." Craig rubs his hands together furiously, then starts the car and puts the heat up to full blast. He lets the car idle and warm up.

"I'm just saying," Sylar says, glancing into the rear view mirror at the building they'd just left. A glance towards Craig when the car doesn't immediately start to move, and his attempt to cover his own impatience is mostly successful, turning his gaze out his window. "Life's short," he adds. "Ever considered that maybe there's something wrong in devoting it all to the job?" The words have a little bit of slur to them. "You might regret it sometime." A considering glance. "What we do is dangerous enough, human life's already fragile."

Craig barks laughter. "Jesus, what's with you tonight, man? I've never heard you talk like this before. Feeling the big 4-0 creeping up on you all of a sudden?" There's a police radio in his car that crackles with the general cop chatter of a New York evening. Finally, he pulls away from the curb and starts to drive.

Sylar chuckles, a hand coming up to rub the back of his own neck as if tense. "Something like that," he says. "But out of both of us, you're the one with brushes of mortality. That's what's in the files, isn't it?" An eyebrow raises. "How you found out you were one of them. He came at you with a knife, in your own home."

"You really -have- had a a lot to drink tonight, haven't you Cal? Narrating my own life back to me. Just close your eyes. I'll get you home in one piece." Craig hits the brake as they pull up to an intersection. "Besides, you're the one who got shot. Granted, home invasion's a bit more disturbing, but still."

Sylar can only wildly guess. He didn't do his research on the man whose body he's stolen for right now. Only on the one beside him. If he's wrong, it won't matter. Not for very long at all. "Some nut with a gun," he says, with a casual shrug, but now he keeps his eyes on the man driving his supposed friend home. "Blowing holes in anyone he percieved a threat. He didn't know me. But this guy knew you, Craig. At least, that's what I hear. How's it feel to know someone knew your name, your face, and wanted to kill you?"

"Special," says Craig with surprising thoughtfulness. "I'm serious. Usually all the violence is random. It's careless. It's accidental. But I did something that meant enough, was someone important enough to be targetted." He half-shrugs and watches the road. Then suddenly his radio crackles to life.

"240 at 9th and west 45th. Rudy's Pub. Officer down. Officer identified as Detective C. Michaels."

The man in the driver's seat goes stone cold. He swallows tightly and grips his hands firmly on the wheel. Then he slowly glances towards the man in the passenger seat.

When the radio crackles to life, Sylar's intent gaze switches from the driver down towards the radio. He, too, goes still, almost frozen. And then a smile, almost unstoppable, pulls at features that aren't his, and he eases back into his seat casually, regarding the road in front of him and listening very carefully to the man beside him. "I think it would be a good idea to keep driving for now, detective," he says, dropping the lilt he'd put on his voice for this masquerade. "And then pull up where I tell you to. Touch the radio and this game ends early."

Craig is a man who has been on the job for over fifteen years. He's seen blood and terror. He's seen hate, fear and violence. He knows how to put up the mask when things get sticky, to push down his fear and shove it out of his mind so he can do his job. There is the comforting weight of a service pistol on his left side, furthest from Sylar's reach. But he can't reach for it either, not without taking his hand off the wheel. "What do you want?" He says dully. He doesn't bother asking who he is. All that's important is who he's not.

"A lot of things," Sylar says, as if they were still just casually chatting. "But a lot of which you can give me, detective. But I'll take everything you have and we can start from there." He cranes his neck to see where they're going, pamnesia bringing up something even better than a city map in his mind. "Two streets from here, turn left. Just into the parking lot. We could go for a walk. There's a lake." He flashes him a cold smile. "You can tell me what it's like to be a hero."

Sylar's mistake is in making Craig's fate seem inevitable. That backs him into a corner. There's no bargaining room, thus no reason to cooperate. At first, he seems to be cooperating, regardless. His jaw tightens as he steers the car in the indicated direction. All the while that he drives, he builds up his armor everywhere his clothes cover. The radio crackles now, with urgent calls for Detective Christman, but he doesn't answer. "All it takes to be a hero is to be a decent man."

Then, as they pull up to a quiet road, Craig's foot gets heavier on the gas. At the last second before he puts on the brake and yanks the wheel sideways, dark, scaly armor darts up over his face and arms, sealing him in a protective casing as the Saturn rolls. Pieces of the car's body go flipping off. The metal screeches along the cold asphalt until it comes to a violent stop around the base of a lamp post.

"No— !" Sylar yells, realising too late what's about to happen. There's a sudden flash of light within the car, purely, almost godly, and a crackle of electricity, but it flickers out at the first impact, a grunt coming from the shapeshifted man beside them before it sparks to life again. A forcefield, of kinds, malleable and shifting around him like an electric membrane, but it can only do so much. By the time they come to a stop, the forcefield has flickered away again, and Sylar hangs against the seat belt, eyes shut. He doesn't change back into his own form, he remains in the shape of Callaghan Michaels - it takes just as much effort to change back as it does to change forward. Triplet rivers of blood extend from his temple and streak across his face. He's still. Breathing, but still.

Forcefield. Craig's head is spinning. He tries to pry himself out of the seatbelt. That was a forcefield. This Evolved, this man has more than one ability. His gamble was based on the fact that if he's a metamorph, then he's just a man beside that. The still-scale covered cop kicks open the bent door and stumbles out stiffly onto the cement. He's injured even beneath the shell, and with it at its strongest, his mobility is very low. He'd be a fool to drop it now though. He couldn't get it back up again if he needed it.

There's a rickety cough as he crawls away. Blood spatters the snow at the curb and trickles down the barklike texture of his face. He feels around in his jacket for his cell phone, only to note with a glance backward that it's sitting on the driver's seat of the car. His joints creak as he moves back slowly and reaches for it.

There's no response or movement from Sylar, only the sound of breathing - shallow breathing, as if his body is having trouble with such a task. If he's injured anymore than his head wound, it's hard to tell - no signs of blood, or his clothing is doing a good job of hiding it.

He lies still as Craig reaches for his phone, hearing the audible creak of his arm, the scaly, biological armor making every movement a symphony to Sylar's enhanced hearing, and so when he opens his eyes and lashes out, hands suddenly glowing a stunning, icy blue, he snags Craig's wrist easily, sending cold to rival the heart of an iceberg through the detective's arm. The same treatment goes for his own seatbelt, snapping it with a yank. That hand moves next for his own passenger door, though he keeps a firm enough grip on Craig's scaly arm.

Craig's reflexes act quickly enough to get him out of the way of Sylar's reach, but unfortunately, his body, encased in the armor, does not. It's a jerky motion that allows him to be snagged and the cold surging up his arm. The armor starts to crack under the frozen conditions and within seconds, his arm is frostbitten. He cries out in pain, but manages enough strength to raise his other hand and swing a powerful, armoured fist across Sylar's jaw.

His icy grip loosens easily, head snapping under the force of the blow. The door, unlocked by now, he shoulders open, and gracelessly, Sylar tumbles out of the car at a stagger, gasping in sharply. Broken or at least cracked ribs make their presence known as he lands on hands and knees onto the road, creating frost under his palms before he can draw that power in, twisting just enough to kick the door shut behind him. Sylar stays crouched, back pressing against the wrecked car, remaining hidden from the other side. A wide grin, detached and bloodied now, goes unseen from this vantage point. "My name is Sylar, detective," he calls out. "Do you know what that means?"

Craig does. And for a moment, the cold pit of fear that he managed to sink deep into his stomach surges upward and paralyzes him. No, that's what he wants. Get your head together, Christman, or you're going to die. He folds his hand around his cell phone and hits the auto dial for 911. Then he tosses the phone off as far as he can get it with his good arm. Then he back out of the car and staggers to his feet, bits of armor flaking off to reveal thinner patches or bare skin, "It means you're the bogeyman," he croaks. He pulls out his service revolver and starts to move around the ruined car, each step a creak even to normal human ears.

The sound of the dial tone doesn't go missed, Sylar bringing a hand up to his mouth to dab at the blood still leaking there. That was quite a punch. "That's right," he commends almost silkily, voice definitely changed, and he starts to move just as Craig does, quiet as he can, keeping low. He wants that phone, after all. As an afterthought, his features shift back into his own as he goes.

"Maybe you'll be the one to finally catch the bad guy. Bet your friend back in the bar will buy you a round for that one, detective. If he ever wakes up again." He squints into the darkness, telescopic vision hunting out the thrown phone, but no luck right away. He blinks, vision shifting back to normal. Maybe later. Perhaps it's even broken. "I doubt it."

Doubt what? That Cal will ever wake up again, or that Craig will catch the bad guy? Hard to say. There's a flash of green-blue light as Sylar stands and rakes four lasers emitting from his fingers across the top of the car, burning bright and headed straight for the detective.

For all his talk to himself that the power of the bogeyman is in your fear of him, Craig knows that Sylar is a very real danger, even without that fear. "Well, don't you know how to make a guy feel special?" Craig croaks out, then he laughs a disjointed laugh as a laser slices through, cuts a deep gash through the armor and leaves it smoking. He cries out in pain, but sucks it back. Bits of armor fall to the ground as he moves quickly, raises the revolver and fires off three shots at the source of it. He knows he just has to wait for the trace on the 911 call. They'll send out the cavalry.

Cop has a gun. That's no shock. Sylar is quick to throw up something like that forcefield again, only contained into a shimmering circle of a shield. The bullets dart off wildly, and his other hand extends out, a blanket of telekinesis seeming to wrap around Craig's revolver, finger over the trigger frozen, immovable. "You're plenty special," Sylar says, wryly, and with his hand outstretched to keep that control in place, he moves around the car, eyes on the armored man. "You're right, I think. About being a decent man. Doing the right thing." He pauses, turns his head, and spits blood out onto the pavement beside him, free hand coming up to wipe at his mouth. "Being a hero. Maybe that's a lesson I can take away from you, after I take away everything else."

Craig jams his finger down on the trigger again and again, only to find it jammed, immovable. "You sure like to talk, don't you?" he chuckles roughly, "Like to make a connection, uh? That makes you sicker than I thought you were." He spits on the ground. "Cavalry will be here soon enough, pup. Then you're going in a box." He reaches down to pick up a twisted hunk of the car's bumper, then he darts around, towards Sylar and swings it at his head with all of his strength.

There's no remorse, now. His mother did always tell him not to play with his food, and he's played enough. The metal comes within an inch, maybe two inches, before it can't be moved any more. Beneath Craig's cracking armor, his body is frozen in every sense that matters. Fingers can move, mouth, eyes, internal organs, but other than that… Sylar steps away, grasps the metal, and twists it from Craig's grip, tossing it aside with faint disgust. He raises a hand, and shimmering beams of blue-green emit up to the sky from his fingertips. His head tilts. "Hurts less this way," is all he has to say. He spares Craig the detail that it's also less messy. With a surgeon's patience, his gaze goes up from Craig's eyes towards his forehead… and begins to burn his way through.

Only when the heat of the laser starts to cut a singing path across his forehead does the full gravity of his situation hit him. Detective Craig Christman is left staring in to the face of a possibility all cops must accept. Not death by Sylar, of course, but violent death. The laser flakes away bits of his scaly skin. Pieces drop to the ground like a tree shedding its bark. He gets a distant look in his eye, and while he can speak, he murmurs, "…at least I hurt you back, fucker." And then something vital is sliced by the laser's precision, and the man goes limp.

The half-armored corpse is dropped to the ground unceremoniously, Sylar coming to crouch beside him with a wince as ribs protest. Quite correct, he did hurt him back. For what good it did. The sounds of sirens in the air is conspicuously absent, no cavalry rushing to one of their finest's aid, and in this quiet street, no one has even come to investigate the sound of the car crash. Sylar has time, and he takes it, to study one of the main things that made Craig Christman whole.

In the dark, a broken phone lies in a puddle, waterlogged before anyone could ever hope to trace it. Strange how life works this way.

January 4th: Sweet Naïvety
January 4th: Anything but Grace
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