cardinal2_icon.gif gillian3_icon.gif magnes2_icon.gif peter_icon.gif rico_icon.gif veronica2_icon.gif

Scene Title Stubborn
Synopsis One last sit around the campfire before Team Alpha splits into two sees frayed patience and sparking tempers.
Date December 17, 2009

Argentina: Missionary Ruins

As luck would have it, though the roof is long gone, the broken walls of this ancient Spanish missionary have only partially succumbed to the jungle's wasting influence. Smooth grey and brown stone likely cut from the mountainside that seems to loom all around comprises a number of indecipherable rooms and alcoves, some even tall enough to blot out greenery's relentless encroach. Moss has coagulated in substantial mats wherever it's been able to gain hold, with wispy ferns and hardened vines snaking in through cracks and ruptures to keep it company. Although the metal gate has rusted through to nothing, the exterior walls on either side of it afford some limited protection from the wind, and what few overhangs remain at the base of a collapsed bell tower may serve to keep off the rain. The massive bell itself is crusted thick with corrosion in its dead sit in what may have once been an open courtyard, old metal patched black and rusty red amidst the craggy remains of its former post.

The heavy piece of wood falls into the centre of the group fire from where Jorge simply tosses it in, spitting up sparks and flying ash, tornadoing up like fire flies in the gloom. Fire light dances merrily off the ruined walls of the gutted, forest-claimed monestary, blushing grey and brown rock a warmer gold and orange, elongating shadows into herkyjerky puppets, and warming skin against the quickly cooling night. Above them, the complete lack of rooftop exposes Team Alpha to a brilliant sky of stars, chalky smoke billowing up and making it hazy until wind disperses it to velvet black and speckled glimmering. There's food being shared, mostly finished, and now half a bottle of wine sits tilted against a piece of wood for burning. Those who have partaken hold cups, and know to reach for more.

The Branded are leaving them alone, with Jorge's lanky frame getting swallowed up by a door way cut into stone as he moves off from the campfire circle, and there's the impression of a last meal. For Team Alpha, it kind of is.

Summer bugs click and tweedle in distant jungle, but the birds are quiet at this hour. It's been several minutes, now, since Ross and Peter have returned to the group. The SatCom, the Company agent had emphasised, with gesturing hands and earnest staring. If they're going to bring back anything, please let it be their only ticket out of this jungle. A date had been determined, one shared between the infiltrators and the guide — if they're not out by then, expect the worst. In this scenario, it's almost unimaginable about what the worst entails. Ross' warnings and anxieties are put to rest only because he did, a bundle somewhere away from the fire into his sleep roll. Raith, too, is moving with Dahlia on a suspect trail of a tracking robot, leaving Team Alpha incomplete for now. But more whole than they will be, come morning.

The bandages around Gillian's arm seem to be driving her crazy. Stop scratching at it, she's sure the bald man would say, but that doesn't keep her from doing it. The numbness around her stomach and sides has long faded by this point, and she's starting to wish they'd had some of that to inject in her arm. It could be a lot worse, but in her mind this is pretty bad enough. No one likes having a healing gash on their arm! Unless they're tough and manly, like Raith. Which she definitely is not.

"Do you think we've seen all the robots they got?" she asks outloud, finally pulling her hand down from the bandage. If she keeps scratching, she'll break it open. If she hasn't already. "They better not have flying ones. They got swimming ones— they could have flying ones, too."

Sitting near the fire, Veronica stares into the flames, her face frowning as if in concentration, as if she could get answers from the dance of the flickers and shadows. She has one of the cups of wine in one hand, though it's half empty and the remaining half is now lukewarm from its proximity to the fire. It's true that everyone looks better by firelight — the warm, shifting light cast on the agent make her look a lot healthier than she would by daylight, as if they are here for a camping trip rather than to try to find a nuclear weapon, and rather than battle robots.

She looks up at Gillian's comments. "I'd think we would have seen them already, but hell, who the fuck knows anything anymore. If we survive this," she's beginning to sound like Cardinal, all pessimism and shadow, "I better get a bonus for Christmas."

"If they had flying ones, we'd probably have seen those before the others. They'd most likely be the scouts." Magnes points out, in slightly better shape than the days before. He's still bruised and cut up a bit, but he's either adapted to or just isn't in so much pain anymore. He's sitting with his legs crossed near the fire, with a blanket around him, yawning briefly. "But I definitely don't think we've seen the last. They could get bigger, I mean with this many of the cats and the big ones running around, that'd mean they're used to making them by now. It only makes sense to think there's something a lot more advanced closer to their base."

Cardinal's back a bit from that fire, settled down with his back leaned up against the moss-stained wall of the mission, one knee drawn up to let his arm rest atop it as he watches the jungle rather than the light— it probably hurts his eyes to stare at directly.

"You'd think it'd be easier to get fliers than walkers," he observes, his tone mild, "Legs are more complicated than helicopter blades or jets or stuff. I don't think whoever this guy is — he's too worried about practicality, though. There's too much detail to those robots."

Seated by the fire, away from where Gillian's paranoia of more of Hector's mechanical creatures is spoken of with Magnes, Rico Velasquez tells other stories of fear around the swirling embers of the fire. His creased face lit and shadowed by the dancing fire, he raises both hands up to the air, a smile on his lips and a metal flask in one hand. "…we waited in the forest until dark, the firelight of their camp was barely visible thorugh the trees." Fingers move to indicate the flickering flames as Rico lowers his hands. "Wait until sunrise my father said, the Americans will be coming with the dawn, we can pick off the stragglers." Rico's head shakes back and forth slowly, one finger wagging in the air. "But no, they had already taken Che, and he would have none of my father's advice."

Moving along the periphery of the light afforded by the fire, Kazimir listens to the story told, sticking on the edge of the firelight. "He rose up from the camp, trodding thorugh the treeline towards their camp. My father could not shout a warning, could not tell him to turn back from the camp or risk giving away the position of the other refugees…" Rico's one eye peers down into the campfire, flash brought up to his lips with a sip. "The others, they watched on as he disappeared into the trees, footfalls heavy and branches breaking. Soon, they heard the gunfire, the screams, the sounds of small arms turning to calming staccatto rythm by which they waited. Surely, they thought, he had lost his mind and ventured to his death."

Motioning to the fire with his flask, Rico shakes his head slowly. "Dawn came, and the old man did not return. Father and his men finally made their move on the camp, before the Americans were scheduled to come. There he saw no one, not a soldier in the trees, just tents and guns and uniforms where once men stood. It was if they had simply disappeared, all that was left behind, were dust and bones and ash." A nudge is made to the fire with one boot, and Rico stirs up the embers. "There he was, Santiago, sitting on the edge of the camp with bullet holes all in his uniform. He had not a scratch on him, not a drop of blood on his skin but plenty on his clothing."

A look is offered up from the fire to where Kazimir quietly circles the glow of the flames, then slowly his focus is shifted back to those seated around the fire. "That was the day my father knew, that Richard Santiago was no mere man, that the stories he had heard of disappearing soldiers was more than simple myth." A smirk crosses his lips. "Some say, that ghost — Santiago — still haunts these jungles to this day…" Kazimir's lips creep up into a smile, eyes closing and head shaking as he turns his back on Rico and the campfire; Ghost stories were never his thing.

"Well, the army has those flying drone things in movies, so I imagine it wouldn't be too hard. Not to mention radio controlled planes." Gillian says, shrugging a bit from where she's sitting, the blanket wrapped around her legs and lap, even if not pulled up over her arms. The that she wears is too big for her, stained and dirty, but it's a shirt, which is more than she had when she made it to the other side of the river.

"Fuck, I almost forgot about Christmas. Missed Thanksgiving, now Christmas— It's not Christmas yet, is it? I lost track of the days and I don't have a watch." Stopped wearing one a long time ago, but that's neither here not there. "And that guy really likes his scary stories…" she adds in a softer voice, looking over with a curious narrowing of her eyes.

"It's a week away, mas o menos," Veronica murmurs to Gillian regarding Christmas. "My birthday passed, too. Not as if it really matters." She didn't say anything about it on the day of, now more than two weeks past, but for some reason it feels appropriate to mention it now. Her eyes move from the flames to Rico and Kazimir and she sighs, getting up suddenly with a wince and moving away from the fire. Their own story has been frightening enough. She heads over near Cardinal, her back sliding down one of the pillars until she sits on the ground facing him. Might as well keep him company, since soon enough they won't have his.

"Happy birthday." Magnes is quick to say, then nods in Gillian's direction. "Maybe we will be back in time for Christmas. I wanna spend it with Claire and her family, her mom's nice, taught me to make apple pie." Then, feeling the need to lighten the mood a bit, he turns back to Veronica. "You know, I have a Catwoman costume that fits your measurements almost perfectly. Can't remember why I made it though. Maybe when we get back you can wear it."

As the agent steps over to sit near to him, Cardinal's head falls forward from where it was resting against the wall so he can regard her in return. Silence lays heavy in the air for long moments, before his lips twitch into the faintest of smiles. "Holidays are overrated," he says simply, "Anything I can help you wi— "

A silent beat interrupts his words as he turns to stare at Magnes for a few moments. "What? Wh…" One hand lifts, fingers rubbing over the side of his face as he mutters, "…nevermind. Don't— don't answer that, please."

Looking out into the treeline beyond where the old ruined missionary crumbles into the jungle flood, Kazimir's attention is on the silhouette of a man on the far side of camp, the one person not sharing the festivities around the fire. He knows what that isolation means, what that silence before a mission entails, and Raith Jensen's privacy is something that Kazimir is more than willing to let the man keep.

"Miss Sawyer…" Footfalls crunch across the ground, scuffed dress shoes carrying Kazimir in slow procession away from the fire to stand at Veronica's side where she's slouched down by one of the old stone pillars. "Might I have a word with you?" it's the first time he's ever bothered to address her openly and not simply as a part of the team as a whole. Standing there, hands tucked into the pockets of his slacks, Kazimir cannot abide a look towards Gillian or Magnes, his only distraction is a subtle nod to Cardinal before blue eyes settle on the Company agent once more.

"You should have said something," Gillian says, glancing over. "I'll have to try and find something to give you for Christmas. Even in this stupid ass jungle." It would seem she hasn't lost her holiday spirit. Even if she spent the last one sleeping in a abandoned loft of a dead guy where she ended up meeting the guy who she would touch and cause to have a vision that would almost take down the whole world, and destored a time that might not have existed without that… anyway.

Oh god. Magnes and his costumes. "He dressed me up once. I kept the blonde wig for a few days, cause it made an interesting disguise," she comments, before looking up and glaring at a certain blue eyed person.

Veronica's lips twitch into a facsimile of a smile at Cardinal, before her eyes widen at Magnes' comments. "Uh. I'm sure it'd fit a lot of people. Why the hell are you eyeballing my measurements anyway, Moonboots? You got a girlfriend, right?" she tosses back, smirking a bit at Cardinal's response.

The smirk falters when Kazimir looms above her. She didn't like him much when she thought he was Peter Petrelli — she likes him less now that she knows the story behind the creepy eyes and creepier ability. "Sure," she says, pushing off the wall and back up to her feet. She glances at the rest, then nods to him to lead the way.

"You do know a lot more about a girl's measurements when you have a girlfriend, but I just kind of, um, it's instinct." Magnes finally settles on, a half truth. It may not be instinct that he checks for a woman's measurements, but that he'd eyeball them… well that's certainly instinct! "If we get done with all this stuff in time for Christmas, maybe we can all have a big dinner together."

"Yes, he does. I'm sure if he was considering cheating on her, Kazimir might be willing to stand up for his host's niece's honour," Cardinal observes airly, returning Kazimir's nod with a slight dip of his own chin, then leans it back against the wall, his eyes closing.

"No need to go anywhere…" Kazimir notes with a wave of one hand, "I just wanted to make sure I wasn't interrupting." Tucking a hand into the breast pocket of his jacket, retrieving a folded piece of paper that he holds out to her. There's no explanation offered with it, just a very small piece of note paper folded over many times, thick with writing. "This aside," blue eyes look towards Gillian. "I need your help for a moment with tending to miss Childs' injury."

Dark brows furrow, creasing that scar across his face. "She'll be of no use to anyone if that injury becomes infected, and her ability has already proven to be both a boon and a hindrance here in the jungle, I'd like to try and level those odds back out in our favor again, and her becoming septic won't help that." A nod is made to Veronica, then over to Gillian, implying that she may have to move a little. But after seeing what Peter had done before with Magnes, Veronica has a pretty solid idea of what is expected of her.

"What— No," Gillian says, standing up and letting her blanket drop away. "You don't get to use someone who's already been hurt out here just to fix me. There's trees and stuff for that shit," she growls, before she starts to step back, instead of getting closer to them, face scrutched and shadows almost covering the brand on her cheek.

"You avoid me and don't talk to me and barely look at me for days and now you seem to care about me? Just so I don't fuck things up for everyone else, huh? When Veronica was limping around on a torn leg for a while and you didn't bother to fix her up." Not that she would have allowed it, but that's beside the point.

"I'd never cheat on Claire, Claire's, like, the hottest and nicest girl ever and she likes me for who I am and doesn't think I need to grow up into Scott Summers or something." Magnes code for 'Grow up into an absolute douchebag'. After Gillian's outburst, he offers a hand to Peter. "If you take some from all of us, like in that Saw movie, we should be less drained after you heal Gillian, right?"

A frankly dubious sound stirs in Cardinal's throat at Magnes's words, although he doesn't further comment on the chances of him cheating - or Claire's opinion of him, for that matter. "She's right," he opins with a raise of his hand towards Gillian, "There's all sorts of nasty shit in the water down here, probably. This isn't exactly a clean area, and with those robots in there— shit, they could be using that river as a chemical dump for all we know."

"Shut up and sit down." Is Kazimir's far less diplomatic instruction to Gillian with a wag of two fingers. "Sawyer and Cardinal understand," a wave of one gloved hand comes in the air, "they're professionals. Moreover, she," he motions to Veronica, "does not have an ability that can pose a liability to the team. This wouldn't have happened if you had simply left when I instructed Varlane to get you out of this jungle. But now, we're at an empasse and I cannot afford to spare one of you, lest we fail at our mission. Unfortunately, miss Childs, the world does not revolve around you— just this moment." Staring at the brunette, Kazimir points down to the ground again.

"Now…" his eyes narrow, "sit." He's avoided the topic of trees entirely, there's not a single word spared about the alternative, of why he insists on using Veronica's life-force instead of the jungle's. When he looks to Magnes, there's a slow shake of his head and a furrow of his brows. "I healed you recently, I don't know if there would be any repercussions from using life force I already moved and shifting it to someone else. I don't— know enough about how this works to risk poisoning her or drawing too much out of you, or— " there's a shake of his head, "I don't have time to experiment."

Sitting down doesn't happen right away, but perhaps shutting up does. Gillian lets her head lower, closing her eyes and putting a hand over the bandage. It does itch, but many wounds itch. It still hurts, but that's true of many wounds too. There's anger in the tightness of her jaw, but she doesn't pull away from Veronica all together. When she looks back up, she's not quite as angry and indignant, but her voice is raspy. "I'm not leaving," that stubborn tone again, perhaps just to make it clear.

A loose squeeze on Veronica's hand, and then she's moving closer, but not sitting, still. "If you insist on healing me— then I insist on it being done as Peter. You can be Kazimir for your infiltration, but you have to be Peter for this." Selfishness, perhaps, but it seems to make a difference. "And I want you to kiss me while you do it."

"I don't think Peter's there any more, Mrs. Torrance," Veronica mutters, but lets go of Gillian's hand, not sure how the transfer needs to work. Sure, she saw him take Magnes' life force to help heal Gillian's brand the first night they found her injured and alone, but that happened rather fast and without any sort of planning. She holds out a hand to the man of the dual abilities — life and death on flip sides of the con. "I guess it's not any worse than being partnered with Lu," she says, mostly to herself, thinking of her partner back in New York, the man who leached her youth from her every time she was within ten feet of him.

"Oh, Jesus," Cardinal mutters, pinching the bridge of his nose, "Gillian, stop being childish about this. Jesus Christ, I feel like I'm in fucking high school again, and I never went to high school."

There's a choked back snort of a laugh, blue eyes lifting from the ground to Gillian with one brow raised. "Sawyer is correct. Peter isn't here right now," he admits with a look of pitious discomfort on his face. "Cardinal is even more correct. You wonder why I treat you like an obtuse child incapable of taking care of herself?" His head shakes, one motion of a gloved hand across his forehead. "I worry I'm too old to sympathize with people your age, but even my little bird shows more maturity in the face of this situation that you do. No, miss Childs, you are not leaving, and no I will not kiss you. I'm rather certain you would not like the outcome of that, at any rate." He raises his voice — not out of anger, but to humiliate as he reiterates her words.

"You will sit down, follow instructions and do as I say or one of us will be forced to put a bullet in you so as to assure that you do not accidentally discorporate anyone again." Blue eyes narrow, and his tone has taken a cold and clinical edge to it. "You're an over-emotional young woman who does not belong here or in any position of importance, but right now I can do nothing but attend to the needs of this team, and I cannot do that while you continue to put up a fuss like a teenager."

Peter must definitely not be home right now.

Ouch. That hurts worse than her arm, especially coming from all directions. At least Magnes stayed quiet. Gillian's jaw tightens and she takes a firm step back. "Then shoot me, cause if he's not there at all, you're not touching me." She bends down and grabs her blanket, as if that's some kind of shield and adds on, "If you want me to learn how to take care of myself, then just go back to leaving me alone. Both of you are really fucking good at that." With that said, she starts to walk away, possibly believing he won't actually shoot her in the back. But— you never know. He's already made her cry.

The agent's dark eyes glower up at Kazimir. "Just because you have some guy in you that's old enough to be our great grandfather doesn't mean you can act like an asshole," Veronica growls, turning to try to catch Gillian's shoulder. "Gillian, I know it sucks but do it for me — I don't want us to get out of this shit hole country just to have you die of sepsis on the plane ride home or something. I have two goals in this mission — finding and stopping Munin and getting you the hell out of here in as close to one piece as possible, and if I can't do the first, I'm going to get the other done or die trying. So come on, let him do the thing. You don't have to like it and you can be pissed at all of us, but at least you'll be healthier and pissed off. Give you more energy to hate him, okay?"

"Nnh." A low, frustrated sound in Cardinal's throat, his head lifting from the wall, then thumping back against it firmly. "We're in the middle of the fuckin' jungle being hunted by killer robots and we're dealing with jealous and ex-boyfriend issues. Someone fuckin' shoot— no, scratch that, someone might."

"Wonderful." Kazimir intones in a flat delivery, a gloved hand rubbing across his mouth. Blue eyes drift to Sawyer, not truly acknowledging her comment about his attitude but clearly having heard it. Then his stare drifts over to Cardinal before a hesitant glance is afforded over towards where Rico sits by the fire; no, best not to involve him. "Will one of you hold her down then? She doesn't need to be perfectly still." Blue eyes flit over to Magnes, who has been remarkably silent thorugh the whole discourse, it seems as though he's offering the gravitokinetic a chance to use his ability to pin her down, and perhaps earn brownie points in the eyes of— a ghost nazi? Well, it sounds better on paper.

"Either she can do this willingly or she can struggle. I'm not entirely certain it will be a painless experience with the latter, but I'd rather that than risk her twisting someone's ability out of the socket with her own." Blue eyes cast over to Gillian, coldly examining the brunette without much of a hint of the way Peter would. "Are you done with your tantrum?" Apparently he's still going to talk down to her a little.

"I might be done throwing my tantrum when you are," Gillian says harshly, wiping at her face and giving a glare at Veronica as she pulls away and keeps walking. It looks very much like someone will have to restrain her and pull her back at this point. "I've been dealing with the pain for days and no one's poofed into a smoke or flown into orbit— Nor have you killed anyone cause I augmented you without meaning to. You won't be here when we do fight these things so if I get hurt again you can't fucking stop it. And since you're so doubtful of my ability to control myself, what the fuck will keep me from losing control when you heal me against my will?" All the while, she's trying to keep walking away, and avoiding looking back, which means her voise is raising and making a scene. Not helping her status in the eyes of their group, really, but…

Veronica's not about to go tackle Gillian. She just sighs. "No. I'm not holding her down. If she doesn't want it, don't force it. I don't think she's a liability due to her injury — she's more likely to be a liability right now if you force your power on her when she doesn't want it, and sorry, while I can handle being blind and deaf on account of Shadowman's power going FUBAR, I'd rather not be anywhere near you if she augments you on accident, Mister Kazimir." She takes a few steps to follow Gillian, not liking the idea of the woman wandering off into the jungle by herself.

Oh, look, Cardinal appears to have disappeared! There's a shadow sifting off into the night, fluttering through the grass and trees to take care of a perimeter watch, which he judges as a more pleasant choice of options for ways to spend the evening.

"Fine." Gloved hands come up, and Kazimir's shoulders rise and fall into a shrug, "I don't have time for this argument." Looking over towards Magnes, noticing the gravity manipulator is not just slouched up against a rock column but asleep sitting up, the scarred man can't help but smirk crookedly. But that amusement drains out of his face as he turns to Veronica. "She's your problem now, handle it however you want. But if she goes delerious from that infected wound and you realize there's no antibiotics in the jungle, it will be your team-members who suffer for it."

Kazimir tucks his gloved hands into the pockets of his suit jacket. A few steps are taken away from where they're sitting, before he looks over his shoulder to the shadiw-manipulator. "Raith is waiting for— " Seems like Cardinal had the idea already. There's a furrow of his brows, clearing of his throat, and a slow shake of his head. "Right then."

"I'll see the lot of you in a few days…" As Kazimir starts to walk towards the edge of camp beyond the ruins of the missionary, he keeps the silent and unflattering conclusion to that sentence to himself. Because hopefully he will see them in a few days.

Hopefully in one piece too.

There's definitely an infected wound— though it may not be physical at all. And antibotics that they don't have probably couldn't do anything for it. "All you had to do was be Peter for one fucking minute," Gillian growls, but it's raspy and not as loud as it could be, cause her throat seems to be tight. "If the team suffers for it, then we're both at fault for being too god damn stubborn. Just so you know." She's not going to let him pin it all on her, but that doesn't mean she turns around and goes to get healed. Even if she really wants to. She hates being in pain. But this hurts just as much. As she reaches a far enough spot in the ruins, she settles down and pulls the blanket tight around her.

"I don't think he can just be Peter, Gillian," Veronica says softly, her voice quiet enough as it carries forward for Gillian's ears but not intended for anyone else. "I think, well, he's infected in a way. I don't think Peter's here. Not anymore." Her own husky voice sounds pained to say it, knowing that it is breaking Gillian's heart. She stops some distance away, however, and pulls out the papers Kazimir handed her, curious as to what that's about. She also pulls out a flashlight, flicking it on as she leans on a tree.

There's no one to respond, by now she's talking to herself. All there is are the sounds of footsteps circling the missionary, crunching leaves and breaking sticks, Kazimir on his way to meet up with Jensen, backpack and supplies abandoned in the camp, just the wool jacket to keep off what will be inevitably below-freezing temperatures far higher up the already temperate mountains.

Gillian is right, in one way; she would've gotten healed if he could become Peter, even if just for a moment. But there's no turning back, no taking the mask off now that it's on, no stepping out of the role that's been chosen here until the curtain draws to a close.

If there even is a Peter Petrelli to become again when all is said and done…

…or a world to be him in.

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