Still a Lump of Coal


abby_icon.gif baxter_icon.gif eve_icon.gif sylar_icon.gif wu-long_icon.gif

Scene Title Still a Lump of Coal
Synopsis A shopping trip in Chinatown ends not so good for Eve and Abby when Wu-Long and Sylar decide to make attempt number 2 at Sylar's self gift of healing. SCOUT derails those plans and Sylar is left wanting, again. Also… Friendly fire sucks.
Date January 1, 2009


Though it's less than two miles square, Chinatown is home to some quarter of a million residents. Cramped, ancient tenements are the norm, though the fourty-four story Confucious Plaza standing at the corner of Bowery and Division does boast luxurious accommodations by comparison. Mulberry Street, Canal Street, and East Broadway are home to streetside green grocers and fishmongers, and Canal Street also boasts an impressive array of Chinese jewelry shop.

A little post-midnight sparring in an empty lot tends to leave men looking a little worse for wear, but something strangely like health shows hot and sanguine through the cut of Wu-Long's cheekbones as he shoves the basement doors open with a creak and dull squeal of rust. The Vanguard owns many properties throughout Manhattan. Most of them don't have enough soundproofed and underground space for two Evolved terrorists that the government would otherwise categorize as Tier 3 to have it out, but one of them does.

It used to be a restaurant. A repository for computer equipment, more recently. Nothing useful anymore, of course: Wu-Long wouldn't have risked getting blown through a wire door and smashing bodily through a few thousand dollars' worth of technology. That wouldn't be professional.

Underneath the long, black panels of his coat, he has a scraped elbow, a burnt calf, and the rib Alexander had cracked is back to where it started. Nothing he feels unless he's breathing hard enough to hurt his lungs, anyway. His boot hits the alley pavement solidly, and he pulls himself out with the agility of a cat. "Hui jia la?" he steps aside to let Sylar out, roots through the lining of his favored garment for cigarettes.

Long pale fingers search out the buttons of his own coat, fastening them together, a somewhat familiar garment of black wool with the collar turned up to protect against the cold. Sylar walks without a limp, but like the other man, he isn't completely unscathed. Both palms of his hands have grazes from a rough landing, and a multitude of bruises tell of a story of a watchmaker who doesn't really know that much about hand-to-hand but pretends like he does. Our story would then take us to Wu-Long's burn and it all descended from there. Who won? As usual, the remains to be seen. Sylar suspects that the day someone wins is the day only one man walks out.

A sigh of steam is breathed out into the cold night air as he nods to Wu-Long's question, stepping out onto the pavement just after him. Directionless for now, however, he finds himself following the other man. "Shi. Soon," he answers. Once he figures out where home will be for tonight.

Girls love going shopping right? That is exactly right because Eve is leading Abby back to her apartment after the two are done with their shopping that they did. "Abby you don't know how much I needed this. Something besides the dreams." Eve smiles warmly at Abby. Dressed in a long black and red silk dress and black boots. Her boots clink on the sidewalk. She is carrying two bags of shopping goodies. Some stuff for Darius as well most likely and she turns her face to look at the innocent healer.

"I needed a new Sunday dress" The blonde confesses. "And I promised a few people that I would take a day of rest. I needed this as well. You look though like you bought out all the stores" Abby's got one small bag, enough to hold a dress and nothing more. She's not a shopper, but she can bear through it for the sake of someone else who looked like she needed a rest as well. Jeans, boots, sweater and jacket. Blonde hair spilling out from under a blue toque. "We all need a break from our lives Eve. At least one day" the cold air tinging noses red and cheeks rosy.

"Hao ba, hao ba. Lang de jiali hen da, danshi, ruguo ni buxiang qu nenma quan de difang…" Wu-Long's Mandarin is inscrutable, but his tone is moreso. There's no pity in the offer he makes, though his generosity, politeness, are as expansive as to put Martha Stewart to shame. Or at least chill her a bit, with his equally quiescent sterility of expression, so she would think twice before offering constructive criticism to a pious Confucian.

He turns to kick the doors shut behind them, the wide rectangles of etched steel ringing home with only a brief bounce against the hinges. Closing the thing up takes only a moment longer, a sausage-length chain between the handles, a lock, the key vanishing into some unimaginable place even as the smokes emerge. Sylar, as ever, offered one. "Or food first. Beer?" He isn't making fun. Wu-Long would never.

Head ducked a little, Sylar finds himself needing to concentrate as Wu-Long rattles off the Mandarin - enough that he can grasp the jist and seems to nod maybe not in acceptance right away, but in understanding and consideration. No Martha Stewart is Wu-Long but perhaps Martha Stewart wouldn't offer her couch or spare room to serial killers anyway. Sylar, as ever, shakes his head at the offer of a cigarette, then raises an eyebrow at the not-quite-jab. But Wu-Long would never, so. "I could eat," he responds. In English. Complex sentences can go understood but not spoken, lest he be laughed at again. Practice of that kind can wait for the long hours Sylar is otherwise alone.

He waits for the property to be locked before moving towards the more open street… and he stops, and his head tilts a little as superhuman hearing picks up the far-too-nearby voices of two familiar women. Their outing might be the result of a shopping trip and all, but that's not where Sylar's mind immediately goes, considering the women's affiliations. He glances down the length of the street, dog-like in alertness.

"I agree as well, you just have to make the time, which is pretty hard."Eve admits and tightens her grip on the bags in her hands. Her hair is down and it falls past her shoulders swinging lightly when she walks. She doesn't sense anything amiss in Chinatown as the two women walk.

Just the seer and the healer. No more, no less. Two girls walking back home after an evening shopping. "Didn't think I'd find anything down here that I could wear out on Sunday. But you have a good eye. I should go out with you again to find some clothes for work that won't make me cringe but will makes Isabelle smile. Old Lucy's Nun, showing some midriff" Abby's oblivious, another one of those instances in which she's not paying attention to their surroundings. Because it's Chinatown and not the midtown ruins. Her bag swings in her gloved hand as they walk, the little simple cross dangling this way and that, caught on the zipper at her collar.

Naturally, Wu-Long registers his companion's shift in attention without apparently feeling particular necessity to stop or fly into a combat stance, assuming — perhaps too presumptuously, that Sylar would call out if there was an immediate tactical problem at hand.

His strides do slow, however, the swing of his coat knocking, juddering to a stop against his knee as he reaches the bricked corner of a laundromat. He'd had no particular destination in mind, but his previous thought — of something quiets instantly. His brow knits subtly; he lifts his head to glance down the line of lamps, parked cars, accumulated snowdrifts. He might recognize Abigail if she were closer, but neither the healer nor her companion stand out in the half-light, and at the distance at which Sylar's hearing operates.

A moment later, Sylar seems to ripple into intangibility. Not to the degree of Wu-Long's shadow form of Claude Raine's talent of going completely unseen, but enough to go unspotted at a distance. Something that resembles a perfectly polished glass statue of Sylar turns its head to regard the street, colours matching up with his surroundings. Phoenix, Sylar projects, simply, into Wu-Long's head. Of course, he has no awareness of Eve's current position or the fact that Abigail doesn't count herself amongst the ranks of the knitting circle terrorist group. The healer and a seer. Though Wu-Long might not be able to see the colour of his eyes, there is the distinct impression Sylar is now looking towards the man Abby aptly called a demon. Decision time.

"I'd be happy to help you pick out some stuff to wear. If you are working at a bar, you have to attempt to look the part a little." Eve /still/ doesn't feel anything different in the air. She fluffs her hair just a little and then looks up at the sky. "Anything else new going on? Romantic interests?"

"No romantic interest, and I do already look the part. I just…" Abby shrugs. "I don't bare my chest till they're almost hanging out and I don't show the crack of my butt thank you. But I could, I guess, show a little middle. No bellybutton all the way though, just.. maybe like an inch…" She smiles though to the seer. Cheery, toothy, everything you expect from a woman with not a care at the moment. "Probably get some new boots soon. Set aside some money for that"

Wu-Long wouldn't be the one to forget that one time his beer bottle blew up in his hand because the younger sociopath got all cranky about getting piss-colored fluid tossed at his glass-statued self. He knows this ability, doesn't have to turn his head and stare to usher back the recollection.

The corner of his mouth twitches with a sentiment that can be termed neither joy nor displeasure; his eyes narrow, picking Abigail's fluttering skein of blondness out, and her companion's pale, heart-shaped face beside her. They're a bizarrely complementary set. Wu-Long sticks a cigarette between his teeth and shades his face with a hand around his lighter, averts his face. And inquires, cheerfully, "Do you want to collect them?"

Unseen, a smirk twists Sylar's mouth, one that goes nowhere near translucent eyes. The answer to that question barely even warrants a 'yes'. Of course he wants to collect them. It's what he does. His nature, as the scorpion might have said. It's an urge as bitter as guilt and perhaps that's the reason he hesitates. Hesitates. Hesitates too long before he quickly throws a quasi-invisible glance Wu-Long's way. "No reason why we can't say hi," he murmurs, out loud this time. That would be the 'yes'. And he starts to move, a wraith whose colour shifts in delayed response, distortion of light refraction. The girls will see it, that man-shaped ripple, but it doesn't matter.

Two more won't matter, after all, he might have urged himself. Think of the ability to heal, to see into the future— to go insane, even a little. Perhaps Eve will be spared, on second thoughts. All this, he would think, if he could think. But if this ever took thinking, he would have stopped a long time ago.

He chooses Eve. To add a little sport into the hunt. Run, he suggests, a whisper in her head that could well be her own subconscious, as toneless and voiceless as the word is.

"What the hel-" Eve says as she sees the man-shaped ripple in front of Abby and herself. She quickly goes on the defense, drops her shopping bags and draws her gun from the thigh holster under her dress. She never goes /anywhere/ without at least one gun on her person. Cocking it, the seer tilts her head and says to Abby, "What the hell is that?" then she hears the voice in her head and her eyes widen. This is getting stranger and stranger. "Abby, run!" Eve yells and she grabs the other woman's hand and tries to pull her along as she begins to run away from the strange man. Not knowing that it is Sylar yet.

No hesitation in the blonde whatsoever when Eve tells her run. Abby doesn't drop her bag, she doesn't have a gun to draw, but she mutter's quickly bit out prayers under her breath, turning in tandem. Holding onto eve's hand as they turn to flee from the scene of something, abby's blonde hair wheels out in an arc before settling into a bouncing cadence against her jacket, her boots finding purchase in the street snow and slush. She's not questioning the woman, not in the least, she's running exactly as told.

Unable to discern what it was that drove Eve so swiftly onto the defensive, Wu-Long is left to hold his unlit lighter and his unlit cigarette framed between his hands and his face, with one eyebrow quizzically inclined. A split instant, and then he pockets his lighter and spits his unspent cigarette into hand.

Turning on a heel, he locates the women's fleeing figures. It takes no more sign or ceremony than a thought and then, abruptly, a skein of total blackness swamps into being before Abby and Eve's wide eyes, enclosing their heads in a single mass of rippling, tendriling contour like a deeply abnatural fog, blinding. He speaks in a conversational tone, a casual query aside to Sylar.

"Do you need to kill both of them yourself?" He begins to pulls his own handgun out, the .9 an inconspicuous black against the rest of his black.

At least, in some respects, their abrupt fleeing might seem awfully suspicious. Perhaps when Wu-Long or Sylar are asked to debrief Ethan or such as to what happened, Sylar will leave out his urging and they can all arrive to the safe conclusion that, indeed, Phoenix has sent out operatives to spy. Lambs to the slaughter, maybe, but they don't credit their enemies with intelligence.

However, questions rarely go asked anyway. Sylar isn't thinking ahead. Power defines who he is and perhaps he likes the challenge. This is, however, becoming no challenge. That's okay too, really. "No," he says, his own intangibility fading away, his pallid skin tone inking back over his face, blackness swamping his coat and veining through his hair as he drains away the last of the city-colour that had camouflaged him. "But it makes it easier. Keep an eye on the brunette."

Apparently, only Abby is on the menu tonight, and as he gains in long, brisk strides, he holds out a hand. As blindness wraps about the women's eyes, paralysis sinks, ice cold, into Abby's body. She stops running. In fact, she turns at a gesture, unseeing, to face Sylar, as if mounted on some kind of turning platform. A figurine in a music box. A puppet on strings. Oh Eve, he projects to the woman, addressing the seer even if his eyes are on the healer. Do you remember what I said about sparing the life of one in your name?

"Sylar!" Eve says loudly as she points the gun in front of her, where she thinks he is. "New ability to manipulate shadows? I'm hurt that you didn't tell me about it before this." Eve says to the murderer and holds the gun steady in front of her, she knows that if she starts to whirl around in a panic that she will most likely shoot Abigail and so she does her best to remain clam. It's not that fact that Sylar is terrorizing her that scares her. It's that he is terrorizing another person that makes Eve afraid. "Yes I remember, may I call in that favor now?" Eve asks with a tilt of her head as she tries to hear what is going on. She widens her stance. "You don't have to do this." She says. Hopefully Sylar does indeed spar Abby in her name.

It's all happening again save that this time she can't move her limbs and she can't see sylar. She knows there's motion and she can hear Eve talking to someone. "Wu-long. Darkness, it's Wu-longs" Abby's voice is high and scared, like a rabbit's might be with a huntign dog bearing down on it. Already her blood pressure is sky rocketing. "Demons here" Her blue eyes look back and forth in the darkness that encases thier head, posed and turning like she was when he stopped her. Mid step, one hand reaching out, the other to her side with the bag in her hand.

Seeing as how the conversation between Sylar and his latest Goth girly interest fails entirely to extend to Wu-Long, he merely does as asked: keeps an eye on the brunette, even as he readies his .9, a click and sharp shunt of remorseless gunmetal. Even from here, the pitch of the little healer's voice is high and loud enough to carry. Predictably, the ex-soldier does not especially appreciate the deeper significance of her pet name for him.

His footsteps crunch on snow-slicked pavement as he continues moving closer, enough now that his voice could carry. The cry of 'Sylar!' does bring him pause, glancing about the emptied, late-night street, but no one appears to run to cry of the infamous name. "I do have to do this," he corrects quietly, a hand coming out. "Sorry, Eve. That cheque was already cashed." The taunts come naturally, an old habit, and with a visible loosening of his hand, Abby can move. But two fingers twitch, and the woman goes flying like a ragdoll into the wall just beside the sidewalk and held there. So abused, is poor Abigail. Though he speaks to the blonde, his gaze moves to Eve's weapon, waiting. "Shall we try this again?"

"Sylar, you know that isn't true." Eve says and then sighs as she grip on her gun tightens. Her eyes though unseeing are scanning wildly around her, as if she would be able to see through the darkness but that isn't the case here. So Eve does the only thing that she knows she can do. Shoot blindly. In a quick circle Eve shoots bullet after bullet in front of her as she turns over and over in a circle, hopefully one of the bullets will hit Sylar or this Wu-Long. "Sorry Abby." She says softly as she fires the gun until the mag is empty. "Sylar, you are being really bad tonight."

What is it with people and smacking her against things? Before she can even act once released, she's up against a wall, a little dazed as head and the rest of body connect, breath knocked out of her. But she can see now. There's little bright sparkles in her sight, but there's Sylar. Sylar and… wu-long as well as the darkness that concealed them all. 'Was blind but now I see" The words erupts like verbal vomit, some measure of irony at the situation. That is until one of Eve's bullets sink home into her shoulder, pain blooming like some sick little flower and the blond healer cries out, eyes widening. There's a first time for everything, and she doesn't hear Eve's apology, just blood rushing to her ears and her own heartbeat as her gaze lands on sylar, mouth opening and closing like some koi fish in a pond.

When Eve starts shooting everywhere, Wu-Long raises his own weapon, angling forward though dropped into a crouch, sights along at the blinded prophet's raised weapon and pulls the trigger at a point on her body a little closer to her than that. Hands, arms. Whatever works.

Other than this effort to disarm the apparently insane woman, he's mostly planning to stand around with a naked Glock, look threatening, keep tabs on the surroundings on the off-chance they actually do something interesting for him. His plan remains intact with no visible evidence of upcoming change around the time that the surroundings do get interesting. Unfortunately, they do this thing too quickly for even his rigorously trained neuroconnectivity to make sense.

Wu-Long is tackled. More specifically, he is tackled into Sylar, the distance between them shrunk by their respective approaches toward the women, in tandem. The two Vanguardians had been lined up like pool balls, a straight shot through, for a young man who can fly — faster than a Boeing 747.

Jordan Baxter hadn't put himself on that specific flight mode, of course: that would be bad for everybody involved, including himself. However, nor is being hit an object moving at fifty miles per hour, generally, a foreseeable or enjoyable experience, not even for himself, and that's given body armor and hundreds of hours worth of training to absorb the impact and brake. Baby got tired of waiting behind binoculars for back-up.

Sylar's eyes widen a fraction as the seer begins to shoot wildly, other hand extending out. A glow of bright white flickers and lights up the snow beneath him as shield of kinds webs out from his palm, the bullet becoming stuck in the telekinetic forcefield for a moment before dropping useless to the snow. His head whips back around to face Abigail as the woman is hit. A sneer paints itself on his features and his mouth opens again, perhaps, to taunt, to bait the helpless women— and not a word gets out when he's hit by a truck.

Not a truck, actually, but a flying policeman and a Chinese assassin. Abby is, for the second time in the past week, dropped from her telekinetic hold and down onto slippery pavement, and the shadow around Eve's head flickers into nothing so perhaps she is treated to this particular sight.

Sylar finds the ground swept out from under his feet at breakneck speed as he and Wu-Long are swooped, for a few precarious moments, up off the ground only to be discarded again some seconds later, momentum sending both men flying and tumbling over a parked car. Perhaps Wu-Long will land better but for Sylar's part, he rolls gracelessly to find himself coming to a stop on his back, a belated gasp of shock as he blinks up at cloudy sky. Those are new bruises and he can taste blood. With an audible growl, he turns his head to look towards the flying action hero, whom makes sure to fly up out of range for the time being.

Eve gasps as a bullet grazes her arm. She grabs her arm and her gun drops to the ground. "Abby!" she yells and hurries to the other woman, helping her up by the shoulder that wasn't shot. "I'm so sorry! Let's s go!" Eve says and begins to take the woman away, she will deal with Sylar later. BAD BOY.

Another prayer answered. No falling to her feet and then knees this time around when Sylar's hold is relinquished, care of Baxter, scout officer extraordinaire. The gasping fish face is gone, tears instead falling as the healer scrabbles in the snow to get up or at least crawl away. Eve's help makes that possible, left arm held close to her body and the bag with her purchases left at the scene. "I got shot…" blurted out between breaths and tears. "Oh god, I got shot. Oh god… Harvard's going to have a field day" Especially if that uniform she saw on the flying guy is what she thought it was. "Safe, gotta fin… find some place safe… Eve" once she's up and taking off with the woman, her free hand presses to her shoulder, biting back the scream.

Being hit by a flying man and then by a particularly hard piece of gravity hurts more than just being hit by a flying man — something that Wu-Long understands on an intuitive level, and kicks the defensive part of his ability into high gear in those precious seconds while momenum is carrying him through the air. He goes ghost, decorporealizing into a vaporous swathe of blackness.

It isn't quite a reflex, but he gets there just in time to halve the impact of landing and tumble awkwardly against the pavement. If he had a mouth, he would be using it to swear. For lack of that, he fights his way to what serves as feet, cycling his point of perception around until he can place Baxter flitting around in the sky and Sylar on the pavement nearby. His gun has skittered away.

The next moment, Wu-Long finds himself inconveniently blinded and deafened, disorientingly, when the young officer in the sky decides to experimentally squirt a flashbang grenade out at him, mistaking Wu-Long's incorporeal for a cloud like that which had apparently blinded Eve. It was a rather straightforward conclusion to draw. Fallacious, of course, and Baxter has absolutely no way of knowing the telekinetic is Sylar, and happens to have supernaturally sensitive hearing, or that the blob of shadow had been the quarry that had just disappeared on him. Probably wouldn't have changed his mind.

He's wheeling backward against the stars just before and just as he does this, choosing to excuse himself from the radius of his own grenade. Breathless. Partly with a certain insane, manic joy. Noting Eve and Abby scrabbling in his peripheral, he shouts into the comm tugged from his vest. The cop lingo version of 'I did it. It's my birthday. PS., the witnesses are running away and I dropped a grenade.'

A yelp, a manly one, but a yelp all the same, is Sylar's reaction to the flashbang grenade. Barely on his feet, his hands clap over his now ringing ears, hearing only a highpitched whine as sensitive hearing takes the brunt of the grenade's noise, and it's not fading anytime soon. Shaking his head to clear his vision, Sylar falls to a crouch and for a moment, that same quality of force field webs out over his skin, and extends out in a membrane-like protective shell becoming a shifting dome around him, and he remains this way for the amount of time it takes to get his vision back. Four seconds, five seconds, six seconds, things start to come back into focus and he peers out through the force field to assess the situation. In the next moment, the web-like shield flickers away, and he stands, looking up at the sky and through his headache at the shape of Officer Peter Pan wheeling against the stars. Looking towards Wu-Long, he mutters a "let's go" he can't yet hear, and lets camouflaging colours wash back over his body.

Eve isn't concentrating on anything else but getting Abby, she stumbles when the grenade goes off but she keeps a steady hand on Abby as she continues to flee the scene.

"Eve.. registered, I'm registered, just" Abby jerks away from the woman at the clap of sound, ducking into an alley. "Go. I'll stay here. oh fuck this hurts" The young woman half whines, half pants. "SCOUT. I'll be safe. Go. Just go, kay?" The blonde gaze going a wee bit distorted, blood trickles from beneath her fingers as she presses them to the wound. "Get safe. Get safe okay" Curling up between a garbage can and some bags.

Through the static in Wu-Long's eyes and ears, he can barely discern what Sylar is saying — but only barely. He doesn't bother to pull his flesh back on, which is as much of an affirmative as a nod would have been: in general, getting tackled and grenaded on puts him in more of a murdering mood, which is better facilitated by having hands, but Baxter's little vest says SCOUT and Sylar's yap says go, so he'll do that.

He tendrils toward the younger man sluggish, meandering, which betrays the limitations of his incorporeality even if only to Sylar himself; he isn't invincible in this form, merely more durable. Far better than nothing at all, a gift which he extends to his comrade the instant contact is made. Doubled in size, the strange swathe of blackness swerves, coils, and plunges into the snow-filled gutter.

People have been telling Baxter to stand down, too, so he's doing that, whirling away from the perps with a few light spots still dancing in his eyes and a ringing in his ears. It's the latter that makes him shout rather loud as he pursues Abby and Eve at what is, for him, a rather sedentary pace.

"Witnesses!" Ordinarily it would be 'ma'am,' but since the rest of the street's occupants have dissipated into the woodwork, that seems an accurate and pertinent address."I can fly you out!" Baxter hooks short at the alley, his brow furrowing slightly when he notices Sylar and Wu-Long are both gone-gone. But where

December 31st: The Bianco Bash
January 1st: Invisibility Times Two
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