The One Who Laughs


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Scene Title The One Who Laughs
Synopsis It's not who you think.

On a close enough level, New Chicago’s bazaar is indistinguishable from the street markets from the early days of the New York City Safe Zone. The comparison between the cities may not be a charitable one, but it is honest. Both are major metropolitan areas struggling to recover from a man-made event of apocalyptic proportions. Both are doing so on the bones of the old world. Both struggle in their own, similar ways.

Kebabs! Fresh kebab!

Both have street food.

“Just a word of warning,” Edward says over his shoulder, “I haven’t seen any cows here.”

The small group moving through New Chicago’s bazaar are close together not out of a necessary sense of kinship, but of necessity. The bazaar is packed at this hour of the day, teeming with traders from smaller satellite settlements and residents looking to pick up essentials to survive in the harsh inland territory. Numerous independent salvagers are set up at blanket stalls with car parts, electronics, and scrap metal in repurposed shopping carts. The entire location smells of fried meat, sweat, and motor oil.

The Convoy is fueling up in preparation to leave, and Edward has taken it upon himself to pull a small group together to give the freshly restocked market one last look before preparing to disembark. It’s meant to be a quick trip, in and out, no fuss.

But when has that ever worked out for them?

New Chicago Bazaar

July 8th
6:11 am

Stopping at one of the salvager stalls, Edward picks over a basket of dead cell phones, giving a scrutinizing look to each one. Some go back into the bin, others get set on the folding table near the shop proprietor.

Nearby, a gray-haired woman in vibrantly-colored clothes shows off racks of animal pelts. Mostly foxes and raccoons, some of which have been sewn into stoles and fur-lined scarves. An adjacent vendor has sea glass and salvaged metal windchimes jingling around his stall. Another across the way is selling empty glass bottles and jars, some with lids, some without. It’s a mixed bag of trash and treasure, and the market’s appearance is different in everyone’s eyes.

Near Edward and fishing through some various scrap bits of various electronics, Chess glances over at the man’s keep pile, trying to discern just what makes any of the long-dead cell phones useful and what doesn’t.

Her own keep pile is basically based on what she can throw or what she can turn into an arrowhead, and she is far less judicial about her process.

“What is it you’re looking for?” she asks, curious – in another world, so different from this one, her alternate self is a scientist, and that same curiosity shows now and then in this Chess. Her brows lift and she points out one of them. “I think my dad had that one,” she says, pointing to a Blackberry Curve.

“Thank you for that. Now my back hurts.” Edward says as an aside.

“It’d better not, after all the trouble I went through to fix it,” quips Richard as he cranes his neck over at the collection of cell phones, an eyebrow lifting a little as he gives his godfather a bemused look before drawing back and leaving the weird science to the experts.

He’s the CEO of a weird science company, not one of the scientists.

Instead he drifts over to the windchime vendor, one hand lifting to nudge them a bit and make them jangle musically.

“I never had one,” Destiny murmurs sort of absently as she eyes the selection of phones. She’s slowly dragging herself away from considering what the kebabs would be made of if not cows, the wide-eyed (if subdued) horror subsiding. It’s the chimes that draw her interest next, a small smile forming on her lips. “Oh, those are nice,” she sighs out, also reaching up to brush her fingers against the bottoms of metal cylinders and the baubles and buttons that make them sing.

Then, she’s flitting off to the next thing, eyeing a red, finely woven scarf that’s held up surprisingly well, all things considered. “Hm. Anything green?” she asks herself more than anyone minding the wares, content to sort through herself.

“There’s a reason we had a vegetarian diet down in the Ark,” Castle asides to Destiny as their nose wrinkles at the sight of the suspicious meat of unknown origin. Hopefully, it was the raccoons or foxes they had skinned to make those pelts, but they weren’t going to take too many chances on it. Instead, they had found a small assortment of fresh potatoes and dried oats, which they cart around in a burlap bag that hangs from their shoulder.

They had been able to salvage some supplies they had been able to make before they set out on this voyage for trade, and they have been going around with an excited sparkle in their eye. And most importantly, they had been parting with some of the spices they had brought along to cook with. A small bottle of pepper from the Pelago roof gardens went a long way.

This reminded them of their childhood.

And honestly, the selections were much better than anything the Ark had had near the end. “I’m hoping to find some lye. No offense, but some of the group was starting to get a little ripe on the road and I only brought so much soap.”

"Oooh my goddess!"

Eve is as always, absolutely delighted at the prospect of new things, her bag is open. Currently the dark haired woman is barefoot and leaning over a woman's display of glassware, "Now you could just wrap some twine around there and attach a HELLO GOODBYE and BOOM YA LATER!" She has never fallen out of love with making things BOOM. "I'll take twenty!" Then she's onto the next stall that she can get to with all the people around them. "Gasp! No! Is this chic? I swear I know Versace anywhere!" She takes one fur pelt.

When her hip grazes the stand holding dead cellphones the woman's eyes light up, "Mother Hecate blesses me on this day, YAHTZEE!" She takes three.

The last table she gets to scream over has a bunch of trinkets that seem mostly useless, a few wine corks, a random lost jigsaw puzzle piece, a trio of rusty nails, a cracked blue crystal, a half melted doorknob, a rock that's shaped like a banana and a fork with only one prong. "Well I'll be." Crimson eyes glittering with excitement, leaning over as low as she can to inspect each object and giving each the appropriate (to her) reaction.

"What if I'd like the lot of it? Hm? These are the best prizes I've come by in all the land!! Oh would you think of all the things you could do with," Lifting her hand in the air, "this knob! Look sweetie! A knob!" The wild woman cackles as she pays.

Some of the vendors are still setting up at this hour after the city gates have opened. One such stall is located between a rug seller and a makeshift clinic. The stall is walled in by draped rugs on one side and a canvas tent on the other, with a cloth roof helping to protect its wares from the elements.


The shop sells a collection of mixed media, from sculptures to pottery, and a small collection of paintings. Most of which are probably post-flood based on the landscape and portraiture as well as the mediums used. Some are clever pieces of art utilizing engine grease and motor oil to create an industrial, grimy canvas. Others use rarer and more traditional mediums like oil paints or, in the most notable case, watercolor and ink.

The vendor, a middle-aged woman with a patterned scarf wrapped around her head and many home-made bracelets jingling on her wrists, sets up a few more pieces. Hardly anyone pays her shop any mind. Except for one person.

Richard is transfixed by one of the paintings as it's set up on an easel. It's a watercolor and ink painting of a cemetery; stark trees against a sunset red background, looming shadows, and an ominous memorial monument with an angel standing atop it. The statue's plinth has a half-helix symbol etched into it.

But it isn't even the portentous content that's most shocking. It's the art style. Richard knows it on sight.

It's a Mendez.


Edward notices Richard's reaction and follows his line of sight to the painting. Squinting, he briefly turns his attention back to the vendor and exchanges two bottles of water Nadira purified for five cell phones that he quickly stuffs into his satchel. Edward then turns to join Richard, giving a little upnod to Destiny to direct her attention to the moment he can't quite contextualize.

"You like it?" The shopkeeper asks Richard with a smile, shaking the bangles on her wrists loose from where they'd gotten caught in her long sleeves. "The artist is local."

It takes Richard exactly eleven seconds between when the question is asked and he reacts in any way other than staring at the painting. Of course he knows the artist. He has examples of the man’s work in that very secure room beside his office. Paintings. Comics, even.

“Is he?” A quick, disarming smile over to the shopkeeper, eyebrows going up, “I love the style. Does he have his own shop somewhere, or do you sell all his work here– do you have any more of it?”

Smiling, interested, casual. Doing everything to hide the fact that his heart’s beating a triphammer pace in his chest.

“You’re welcome,” chirps Chess with a smirk. She offers the vendor a bottle of water for the bits of metal she’s gathered up, receiving a nod and a thank you for the transaction.

Chess slides those into a pocket, and then out comes the smooth rock she prefers to fiddle with, made all the smoother from doing just that. She gives Eve’s shopping choices a side-eye, then smirks over in Castle’s direction.

Finally she turns to see what’s caught Richard’s attention; she recognizes the art without realizing she recognizes the art, but it’s Richard’s focus on it that catches her attention more than the art itself.

“Well, that’s ominous. But it would go nice above the fireplace,” she quips. “The colors will really pick up on the existential dread of my everything.”

Having been about to turn to Edward to ask a question, the little blonde abandons her line of thought to follow his direction instead. He doesn’t pull her attention away from the little things that occupy her unless it’s important. In her haste, she passes off more water than what a singular scarf is worth. “I’ll be right back,” she promises. “Can you throw in that thimble, too?” Her smile is bright and charming, but unacknowledged anxiety is bouncing off the walls of her mind as she moves to follow Edward’s cue.

Something in Destiny’s brain pings when she catches sight of the artwork. Another version of her has seen this before. Not this exact painting, but the style. Her head tilts curiously, trying to conjure up more than just the nagging sense of familiarity, but coming up empty. “That looks like something Eve would draw,” she murmurs absently, low enough only to be heard at Edward’s shoulder. “Not quite like it, but she always seemed to draw deathly things.” Or maybe the grave portents were just the ones most likely to stick in a person’s memory.

“It looks a lot like things Eve would paint,” Castle murmurs, but Richard isn’t the only one who recognizes the actual source of the art— and speaking of Eve, they step over toward the woman showing off their knob and putting a hand on her shoulder. “Let’s play this cool. There might be more, and if we spook the lady showing off the wares she might not tell us where to find them.” Why yes, the DOE agent on hand most definitely has seen a Mendez before, and if their mother has even the slightest idea of what that is— well— they have certainly assumed this could go very wrong very quickly.

So they play to their strengths.

“You have quite the eye for art, and we have quite a lot to trade.” An assortment of thingamabobs besides, they already came with plenty to trade. “We’d love to see anything else you might have by them.”

As everyone takes notice of the artwork Eve is, oblivious for the most part. Allowing Castle to usher her away from the stalls and towards the group while fiddling with that half melted doorknob, "Oh it's just per-" Eve blinks and takes in what everyone else is looking at.

The fan girl of all seers' mouth drops open and her newly stuffed bag of tricks almost falls out of her hands. Of course she would know the style, she's studied the artist. Read all about him, snuck into his old flat and got high. "Oh…" Tears flow from the woman's red glowing eyes. A Brother Seer found alive was a massive boon for one that sought out to one day unite all her fellow seers. "Oh… it's…" a quick glance out of the corner of her eyes to the others before burying her face in her hands. "Just so beautiful. And dark and full of terror and-" Eve falls silent and places a shaky hand on her chest.

"What an amazing piece of art." Sniffling a bit and laying a head on Castle's shoulder, if anything Eve's mild reaction is hiding a very very very deep seated fear. Tipping her head up, pressing her lips against Castle's ear, "If he is here, he knows we are here." Whispering to her child that isn't hers while turning that lean into a hug from behind, burying her face in their back.

This was a sign, a hello, a way to snag the attention of people who would know what this was.

Eve wishes for a joint but doesn't dare do anything outside of sniffling at Castle's back.

The art dealer stares wide-eyed from behind the thick lenses of her glasses, blinking so slowly that it looks like two enormous windows with the blinds being drawn. She glances back at the Mendez painting and asks, “This one?” In the incredulous tone that implies she doesn’t think it’s nearly as good as Eve is implying.

It only takes the art dealer a moment to realize this means a sale and to switch her approach. “Yes it’s—it is a unique piece. We used to have more, but they simply weren’t selling. I should have trashed them, but instead I gave them back to the artist. I kept this one, it was the best of the bunch.” She makes a sour face. “It’s just not my style.”

Turning to the others, she puts a hand on Eve’s shoulder as she steps past her, briskly saying, “Let me know what you’d like to part with for it, and we can make a negotiation.” Then, her magnified eyes settle on Richard.

“If this is really something you care for, Mr. Mendez has a whole loft full of them over the old mill.” She points away, indicating something occluded by the makeshift walls of her shop. “Big building, three stories, three black chimneys. You can’t miss it. The freight elevator goes to his loft.”

His loft.

The words roll around in Eve’s mind like loose, scattered marbles. Eve—an Eve, anyway—has been to a loft belonging to a Mendez, down in Manhattan. String maps and disaster murals. The intersection of destiny and fate. There is a Mendez, there is a loft. The river flows steadily in one direction.

Edward offers a glance to Destiny amid all of this, gently resting a hand on her shoulder as he splits the difference in distance between her and Richard. “I take it this is important?” He asks, looking from the painting to Richard and back again. “I’ve… seen that symbol before, in Else’s journals.” He adds, puzzled.

Richard slants a look over to Eve that tells her she’s laying it on a bit thick, but then he’s long suspected that she learned how to act by watching old clips of Shatner chewing the scenery. Then he’s looking back to the art dealer, flashing her a smile, “Well, maybe we can finally get it out of your shop, then.”

Since Eve’s oh so emotional he lets her and Castle negotiate for the purchase, his head lifting in the direction that she’s pointing even through the walls. Big building, three stories, three black chimneys. Freight elevator. “We’ll have to stop by and see him when we’re done here, then, thank you.”

He takes a step away– closer to Destiny, and Edward, his tone quieting to a private murmur for the pair, “…Mendez is a precognitive painter, passed on in our world. Did some of the clearest work before he did. That symbol– shows up again and again in the history of Evolved. It’s like a leitmotif for abilities.”

Less interested in the art itself and more interested in those side huddles between Eve and Castle and then Richard with Destiny and Edward, Chess moves a little away from the stall.

She finds a place to lean that gives her a decent view of this aisle of vendors and the one running perpendicular; crossing her arms, her blue-eyed gaze settles on the coming and going crowd as she scans for anyone watching them. The caravaners’ strange reception along with the not-so-warm greeting at the city gates still make her a bit nervous.

Then again, she hasn’t felt comfortable since they got here.

“The Odessas have seen it too,” Destiny imparts in a very hushed voice. The Symbol has meaning, even if she doesn’t grasp it entirely. Richard brings better context, filling in some of the vagueness of memory. “We should go see him,” she agrees with a small nod of her head. Then pauses, looking uncertain.

Then she shakes her head to clear it and smiles faintly. “I’ll go haggle so you can talk out the important things,” she offers. Truthfully, she’ll be happy to offer more of the purified water she’s been carrying around and lighten her pack.

“Little less gravy next time, mom, but we got what we wanted,” Castle whispers quietly to the other woman who doesn’t look much older than them, as they gesture toward Chess to stick close to them as they negotiate— cause they’re about to show their hands.

“We got extra clean water rations. How about two to get this painting off your hands, and a third for your help.” They are hoping that’s as generous an offer as it feels like, as they pull out some clean water bottles to pass over.


The trading has begun and information was already given for free. "Whatever the young ones say we have to give, I support it. Boomer if you please." Reaching out a hand to yank Chess as gently as she can over to her side as she makes off to Richard and Edward. The older woman takes another forlorn look at the painting and sniffs before turning her back on the trader and flicking her gaze from the two of the men, leaning forward to whisper:

"I worry as I have with Else about Brother Seer, please we must be careful and be wary of traps." It feels odd to feel suspicious, usually she would be overjoyed only but there is a sense of this being too close of a sign to be random, even if the trader gave all but this one away. One Mendez nets people drooling, always.

She didn't want them caught unaware, "Not that I need to say it to you," an eyebrow quirks in Richard's direction. "But he is most likely expecting us."

Edward glances between Richard and Destiny, tension visible in his expression after Richard’s explanation. “You’d think if that was the case, the local Robber Baron would keep him locked up in a gilded tower, not… living in a loft on the outskirts of town.”

The art seller takes the painting of the graveyard down off of the easel it is propped up on and begins speaking to Castle about costs in water and scrap metal, gesturing around at other pieces of art and trying to broaden the sale as she does. Their conversation is so much white noise to Edward as he rolls his shoulders forward and steps away from the stall. He spots Chess, watching from a distance, and gives her a small but appreciative nod of her proximity to this revelation.

He’s uncomfortable too. The last time he dealt closely with a precognitive…

…the world was ending.

A Short Time Later

Elsewhere in New Chicago

The address given by the art dealer leads to a repurposed factory on the north shore of New Chicago, a multi-story brick building with three black chimneys rising out of the roof. None of them belch smoke into the air any longer and the crumbling state of affairs of the building shows that, while it's safe for habitation, it's not safe for industrial work. Access to the residential apartment is via a freight elevator at the muddy street level, which leads up a creaking and groaning concrete elevator shaft to a loft apartment overlooking the rainy cityscape.

When the cargo elevator doors slide open, it reveals a space not entirely unlike the loft Isaac Mendez inhabited in Manhattan. Concrete floors, brick walls, high windows. The floor even has a mural painted on it, but it's of cars and exhaust pipes and flames like something that would be seen in a motorcycle shop.

All around the loft there's half-finished watercolor canvases depicting portraits, landscapes, plants and animals. All either penciled or inked in, few of which are finished. While they are all identifiably the works of Isaac Mendez, they lack both the mystique of his other works and, in many instances, the comic book flair.

"Hello?" A voice calls out from across the loft, followed by a sound of hustling footsteps. Isaac Mendez walks out of the pages of history and straight into view, backlit by tall, rain-streaked factory windows. He's older than the photos anyone had seen of him, bearded with a bit of gray in it. He holds a cigar pinched between his fingers, staring wide-eyed at a much larger group than he expected.


"This… better not be about the rent." Isaac says with a nervous laugh.

A less nervous laugh answers it as Richard steps out from the elevator, hands spreading slightly in a gesture both of greeting - and demonstrating that he’s not holding a weapon. It never hurts to reassure the person you’re dealing with that this isn’t immediately starting in with the threats.

“If things go well, Mister Mendez,” he offers a disarming grin, stepping forward and offering a hand out, “You may not have any more rent problems. Richard Cardinal. I’m an art collector. I know, I know– that might seem silly given the whole flood that ended the world, but personally I think that preserving our culture’s only more important than it ever has been.”

Establish your identity and purpose early, keep up the patter and prevent the mark from thinking about things too much until you’re already doing business and they’ve accepted what you started with as fact. It’s a formula that rarely fails.

“Apparently he didn’t know we were coming,” Chess asides to Eve under her breath with a small smirk, and she gives Isaac a small up-nod of greeting, leaving the talking to Richard or the others.

She’ll just be here ready to throw things if necessary, or make dumb jokes to amuse herself and counter the ever-itching anxiety tickling the back of her mind.

For now, Chess keeps her hands loosely in her leather jacket, in an effort to look both less nervous and less intimidating, and go along with this art collector spiel that Richard’s giving. Her blue-eyed gaze studies the loft’s tenant curiously, then drifts over the various unfinished canvases.

Destiny steps out of the elevator behind the others, offering a small wave toward the artist whether he actually glances her way or not. She wanders a little deeper into the space without making herself at home. She’s staying a respectable distance, her hands clasped together behind her back. It’s a holdover from the way her mother taught her to ‘look with her eyes, not with her hands’ in antique stores and such. Even in adulthood, the habit remains ingrained.

Glancing over, having been very aware of Edward’s unease, she tries to offer the man an encouraging smile. This will be a good thing, it’ll all turn out. All the same, her experience with prophecy and the like is also filtered through Else. It’s not the most flattering lens.

“Maybe he did see it, he just doesn’t know it yet,” Castle responds to Chess’ comment, having a lot of experience with precog who may not know what they predicted until long after. But either way, they stand near the back of the elevator and hold up the trades for painting as if to show Isaac that yes, Richard really is here for the art.

And the artist.

She's silent and staring slightly wide eyed at the fellow artist. Eve reveres all seers, they are all family in her eyes. A sentiment she has expressed over and over to anyone that knows her. This man in the flesh was a doozy but something Eve had been hoping to one day happen, in this life or the next one. The red glow of her eyes intensifies the way it does before she might have an outburst of energy but instead she just tip toes forward standing at Richard's shoulder and bows her head, "I'm Eve."

When faced with one of your heroes…

A quick look around the loft space before her eyes return to his face. "Fellow artist… love your work."

A beat passes and it's like the nerves literally wash away with a hint of grin, "He's bought a fair few of mine. Takes really good care of them." Offered as an aside.

Isaac lingers in awkward, uncomfortable silence at the gaggle of strangers who know who he is standing in his foyer. He sighs, the kind of long and tired sigh that someone who didn’t get enough sleep for this might. Then, taking a drag off of his cigar, he turns around and throws his free hand up in the air helplessly and treads scuffing, barefoot paces across the concrete floor to the sofa.

“If this is a hustle you can just take my records, hermano,” Isaac says to Richard, gesturing to an old turntable and record collection opposite the sofa. “I’d rather be robbed point-blank than strung along by another conman, alright?”

He gestures toward the others with the cigar. “Nobody is a fan of my art. It’s shit.” He motions to the half-finished canvases of pencil sketches and simple paintings. “So either somebody put you up to this which—fuck them and fuck you—or this is a hustle, and see previous.”

Isaac takes another drag off of his cigar, then bends down to pick up the ashtray off the coffee table and snub it out. “So which is it?”

“I’m going to point out first that we just bought one from the market,” Richard jerks his thumb back towards the elevator they came from, his tone dry as he makes the observation. “If your art was shit, we wouldn’t have bought it. I’m not here to hustle you, or steal your records, or fuck with you because of somebody with a grudge. I’m here to look at your art and buy some.”

“But it’s your place. You don’t want us here,” he shrugs, “We can leave. I’m not going to harass an artist who isn’t looking to sell, Mendez.”

Isaac’s response elicits a huff of a laugh from Chess. She appreciates his style and also his wariness.

“I wouldn’t trust us either,” she says lightly. “We probably shouldn’t have come en masse like kids on a field trip. It’s fucking weird.”

Her shoulder lifts and she smirks. “We’re fucking weird,” she concedes, apparently deciding honesty is the best policy here, up to a point, anyway. She manages not to glance at Eve directly on that remark. “But he’s not conning you. You got any complete pieces?”

A painting of a rooftop garden captures Destiny’s interest, the woman slowing to a stop in front of it. Grey sky, slush in the corners, flowers that have seen better days, but are still trying. “I like this one,” she notes distractedly to herself, voice soft enough to suggest she doesn’t mean to draw any attention. She’d offer to trade for it, but she can hear the lecture from Epstein about taking up space meant for supplies already.

Sighing quietly, she turns back to Edward, looking both for guidance and to assess the state he’s in as conversation continues.

“I’m not carrying this around because we like the frame, mi amigo,” Castle says around a slight grin, seemingly amused by the distrust. “I’ve also been known to dabble in the painting myself,” there’s a hint of Irish in their accent for the moment, though their voice remains too feminine to be the Castle the group had known originally.

“I’d be interested in your paint source. All the paints I had to work with were plant based and didn’t quite have the same texture as you’re able to pull off. Your use of shadow is quite impressive.”

"The things I paint, they become true in some way later in time." Eve comments almost absently but it's bait surely the others would know. In this moment Eve makes a gamble, one rooted in what she knows of her timeline's Issac and what she sees before her. "A gift," it's said with bitterness and she frowns, "Some have said, I'd call it a plague."

All of her friends know this to be a complete and utter lie, she has a bittersweet relationship with her visions but she knows them to be a core part of her being at this rate in her life.

"Richard pointed out your piece. Your art spoke to me so much it invoked a similar feeling I get when viewing my own work, I had to meet the artist for myself."

A very Eve way of coming clean about her true intentions being here.

Isaac shifts through a conflicting series of emotions as the group addresses him. Richard’s willingness to call Isaac’s bluff is met with confusion, compounded by the presence of the piece in question that they purchased. Isaac doesn’t look relieved that a piece of his sold, but rather irritated.

“That wasn’t—” Isaac cuts himself off, casting a quick glance to Chess at her question, which distracts him from Destiny’s wandering of his unfinished gallery. Edward had come to stand by her side, and rather than dissuade her from perusing the gallery, he’d come to join her. Though Edward is, at the moment, uncertain what to make of the pieces he sees. None of them are complete enough to draw any conclusions from, whether they may be prophecy or not. In fact, most of them simply aren’t well made.

“Watercolors. I—I paint in watercolors.” Isaac explains to Castle with a hand at his head. “There was a whole fucking art supply store a few blocks outside of the city. I looted it with some friends. Nobody’d touched it, and I thought it’d be valuable..” He laughs to himself. “It wasn’t.” The paint or his art.

“And—” Isaac steps forward toward his painting. “That—that wasn’t for sale. I’m sorry. The uh, the woman you bought it from… big glasses?” He makes a circle around one eye with the fingers on his free hand. “That’s Maria. She uh, she knew my dad. Likes to pretend she’s my mom. She means well but—she shouldn’t have done that.”

Isaac looks at the painting, glancing briefly at Eve but not really taking the full weight of what she said seriously. It felt played off like a joke, or hyperbolic. He’s clearly never met anyone with a gift like that before. It doesn’t even seem familiar to him.

“You… really bought it, though.” Isaac mumbles, surprised. He takes a drag from his cigar, then looks over where Destiny and Edward are browsing the unfinished pieces, then Chess. “I uh, I got a couple more. I never used to paint…” he says dismissively. “Bunch’a years back I got drunk off my ass and did a few,” he bobs his head from side to side, “never really hit the same again. Sober, drunk, whatever. Same shit.” He waves at the other paintings with a weary gesture. “Dunno.”

Edward puts a hand on Destiny’s arm, directing her attention, then looks over at Isaac. “And, where are the complete pieces?”

Isaac sighs, gesturing to two canvases that are flipped around to face the back of the easel. He looks embarrassed. Not by the paintings, but by how he’s treated them. Edward looks at Chess, then Richard, and nods. He’ll let them handle the unveiling.

“You wanna buy some fucking watercolor and canvases I got a ton.” Isaac adds ruefully.

“Two paths diverged in a wood, and I… took the one where Isaac Mendez didn’t take art classes,” Richard exhales under his breath, too low - he hopes - for the man to overhear before he’s stepping over towards the easels.

“Well, whatever you were drunk off of, it worked then,” he notes, reaching out to carefully lift one of the canvases and turning it around, revealing the front of it before stepping back to consider the work.

The painting depicts a city alley cast in silhouette with a fire escape.There’s a waxing gibbous moon cresting from behind a skyscraper, and two men standing in the dimly lit alley. One is on the far end, cast entirely in silhouette and wearing a long, tattered coat. The other is closer to the viewer, wearing a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up and an underarm holster for the revolver he holds in his right hand. On his wrist is a watch set to eight minutes past eleven. Curiously, between the two figures there is steam rising up, like the kind that issues out of sewer grates on a cold night. The steam and the nearer figure are tinted with a green hue from some unseen light source.


Richard takes a step back to consider the painting, his lips pursing slightly as he looks it over. He makes a thoughtful sound, his brow furrowing as he drinks in the details. “Eleven oh-eight,” he mutters as he notes the watch, “Fucking figures. What is it with that date… and why the green?”

“I mean, that’s the date I painted these on.” Isaac says, gesturing to the painting the group bought, and these two. “'Bout a year or two after everything went to shit, living in my dad’s panic room. 2011, I think. I never even noticed.” He remarks about the watch, as if seeing it for the first time.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s a lot better than I can do. I took some Japanese calligraphy classes last year, and that’s only using one paint color, and it looks like a five year old did it,” Chess tells Isaac, catching Edward’s nod and heading over to the back-facing canvas.

Her brows lift as she turns it. “That’s a face I know,” she says quietly, looking over at Isaac. “You know this guy?” she asks curiously.

As she turns the canvas, the others can see a man is partially painted in black ink on a field of cloudy blue watercolor. He has his hands outstretched toward the viewer and they are wreathed in shaded lines indicating some sort of light or energy. The man's hair is combed to one side and swept partly in front of one eye; his face is divided by a glass-like crack that stretches across the painting, splitting him up into many different fragments. To those who knew Peter Petrelli in the years leading up to the Civil War, the likeness is striking to how he looked at that time.


She nods to the painting Richard holds, her blue eyes on the figure in the background. “Could also be Pete, if he didn’t skip leg day.” Her eyes go back to the blue painting with Peter floating up, his lower half fading out into the blue background. “This one really skipped leg day.”

Looking back to Isaac, her eyes widen again as Chess realizes her cracks may hurt the artist’s feelings. “Sorry. This is not an art critique, promise. I actually really like them. A little anxiety inducing, granted, but there’s a niche for that.”

Des allows Edward to steer her, sticking close to his side while she feels a trickle of apprehension that travels up her spine. It settles somewhere between her shoulders and blossoms out from there, tightening muscles subtly and creating a tension she doesn’t realize.

The mention of November 8ᵗʰ only makes it worse. She hates that day — it’s the anniversary of her parents’ murders. She knows what she was doing every year on that day. She would have been sobbing about it and trying to hide it from Jimmy and wondering if she’d ever manage to stop crying about it, but there was more then. 2011. That’s when she started having dreams of the other paths in the Garden. It feels like a lifetime ago.

She lets out a deep breath and studies the two paintings. The first doesn’t mean much to her, beyond a sense of familiarity attached to the wash of color fading up from the bottom. “Reminds me of those black and white private detective films my mom used to watch,” she muses softly to Edward, surprised at the stark contrast of that memory versus the other that’s just been dredged up. It’s warmer, uplifting in its way. It’s short-lived.

The second painting makes her stand up straighter, though her head tilts as she takes it in. The painting’s apparent subject pings instantly in her memory, but not just the native iteration that cut an impressive and intimidating figure. A man in a crowded, windowless room lit dimly by strings of lights. Sitting across the table, a glass of wine lifted in a toast to a friend’s happiness. Holding off soldiers while refugees rush to a waiting school bus. Drawing a line across her forehead.

Destiny swallows tightly. “Yeah,” she agrees with Chess, transfixed on the image on the canvas. “He does look like Peter.” The chipperness is gone from her tone, the murmur an absent-sounding thing. It makes her sound more to Richard and Eve’s ears like Odessa as she was, when she still resembled her counterpart in this world. Her shoulders slowly settle, like she’s wearing a heavy weight around them.

The two revealed paintings are certainly interesting, and curious, and Castle quietly tries to do a quick mental reference to see if they remember their mother painting any of her dreams in a similar fashion. Instead of going through paintings themselves, they step closer to Isaac, bringing the bought painting with them.

“Why did she have this if you did not want her to sell it?” they ask with a hint of a frown on their lips, looking through Saffron’s blue eyes.

"Mothers are good to have," tilting her head while observing the man's work, "Found or other." Eve waves off his downplaying of his artistic ability, sucking her teeth and shaking her head. "Your vision still shines through."

"That is Petey, it's almost impossible not to get his eyes, they are so expressive." When he's not remaining as stiff as a stone.

There is a question of him mentioning his painting while drunk, red eyes look at the other corners of the space. Drunk. Not high. "The booze was just a tiny helper, that's still in you. Deep in."

Unless it wasn't.

Isaac sighs out his nose and snubs his cigar out on a metal handrail at steps leading up to the split level of the loft. Rather than ascend them, he circles around them to get a closer look at the old paintings Richard and Chess unveiled.

There’s a tension in Isaac’s posture. A hint of nervousness. That multiple people are saying one of his subjects looks like someone gives him pause. Rather than dig into that anxiety, he looks at Castle. “Maria has keys to my apartment, and apparently she just… helped herself.” To help him isn’t lost on Isaac. “I mean if you want ‘em… fucking take ‘em. All they do is piss me off. I’ve never been able to do anything like that since.”

Isaac turns his back on the paintings, scrubbing a hand over his mouth as he does. When he steps away, Edward looks down at the painting of Peter Petrelli, haunted by that face. He looks back at Isaac.

“Did you know Peter Petrelli?” Edward asks flat-out. Isaac doesn’t even turn around, just shakes his head and keeps walking.

“Never even heard the name before.”

“And you don’t remember painting these?” Edward asks, gesturing to the watercolors. “You just… blacked out?”

Isaac nods, stopping by the stairs again, one hand on the railing. He turns to look back at Edward, nodding. “I can’t explain it.” There’s desperation in Isaac’s voice. He wants to. Edward seizes that tone and steps away from Destiny.

“Before the end of the world, I worked for a government agency that identified people with unique abilities.” Edward carefully explains, one hand on his chest as if reintroducing himself, even if he never did give a name. “Were you… aware of people like that before the flood?”

Isaac glances away, then nods. “. Yeah.” He sits down on the bottom steps, resting his forearms over his knees. “My dad was… special. He’s the whole reason I’m alive. He packed us all in his fallout shelter right before the flood hit. Told me he’d seen it coming before it happened. Started out fuzzier at first, y’know, on the edges. But… the closer it got to the moment, the clearer the visions got. He… painted too.”

Maybe Eve misread Isaac’s earlier vacant expression. It wasn’t that he’d never heard of the concept of precognitive painting at all. It’s that it was too close to home.

“I thought, y’know, maybe that’s what this was. Apples and trees and all shit.” Isaac looks in the direction of the two paintings. “Except I don’t know what the hell any of that is. There’s no cities like that anymore, and I don’t know the guy you’re talking about. And—and if I could do that why… can’t I fucking do it more?”

Isaac slouches forward and rakes his fingers through his hair. Edward eases forward a few more steps, looking back at Destiny, then Richard, before coming to stand beside the railing.

“I knew a musician once—still know her. She used to have the ability to… black out and write songs about things that hadn’t happened yet. She’s how I survived the flood.” Edward motions to Eve. “And Ms. Mas here does what you did. She paints the…”

Edward pauses, looking past Eve to the paintings.

There’s no cities like that anymore.

“When…” Edward slowly looks back at Isaac, “did you say you painted these?”

Isaac looks up at Edward. “November 8th.”


“I think so, yeah.” Isaac looks around at the others, then focuses on Edward again. “Why?”

Edward raises one brow and looks at Richard. “Maybe you weren’t painting the future, Mr. Mendez.”

“Christ,” Richard breathes out at Edward’s comment, looking at him with a frown… and then he looks back at the paintings revealed. “After the flood began. Maybe you’re right.”

“Other branches of the river,” he murmurs, gaze steady on the face on the second, “That’s definitely Peter. He and I never really– saw eye to eye, but I know his face well enough. He’s dead, though, here and there. At least as far as I know. God knows I’ve been wrong about people being dead before…”

The mirror imagery makes him anxious for reasons he can’t really explain, gaze sweeping back to the first, “…not sure who they are. The green– I know some people with abilities that manifest green.”

A brief flicker of his eyes to Destiny, then back again to the paintings.

“Not sure what it would mean, though. Fuck. I never know what they mean until it’s too fucking late anyway,” he breathes out in frustration, turning and walking away a few steps, one hand coming up and rubbing over his face.

Chess Lang is the world’s worst poker player; her emotions paint themselves on her face as clearly as Peter Petrelli is painted on that canvas. So when Richard says both this world’s and their own versions of Peter are dead, she turns her head sharply to look at him in confusion.

“So which Peter’s in-?” she begins, but stops shortly, when the realization that maybe there’s a reason that information is not common knowledge catches up to her mouth.

She crouches down to busy herself instead with pulling out the remaining water bottles from her bag for barter; she assumes that they’re taking Isaac’s paintings, and have already taken his time. The mention of green light draws her eyes over to Castle.

When Richard says eye to eye, Destiny shudders involuntarily. Her unease only grows when he looks at her directly after referencing the color green in correlation with abilities. (It slips past her notice that Chess does the same with Castle.) She thought it herself, on seeing that shade. She remembers motes of acid green drifting before her eyes in the aftermath of her visions. She didn’t know anyone else had been aware of it.

No tienes que responder a sus preguntas,1” Destiny blurts. It comes out a little louder than necessary in her effort to cut above the steadily growing din of white noise in her own head and she looks embarrassed when she realizes it. There’s no ducking her head or shrinking away for it, however. She doesn’t know why she doesn’t want this explored any deeper.

Well, she does, but there’s no reason for her to feel so guarded. The future is the spectre in front of them, and while the adjacent present could still prove a danger, the past is past. Its effects can ripple forward, but cannot cause direct harm. She was cut off from her others before she could discover that’s only a comforting lie. Whether that ignorance is good fortune for her or not remains to be seen.

The temporal manipulator eases, her tone gentle. “Pero… Si ayudaría contarlo a alguien, vos escucharemos.2” She rests one hand against her chest and finally introduces herself. “Me llamo Destiny.

As Castle listens to Isaac reveal the story of his father, their mouth shifts from that frown to a small grin. “I know how that is.” They felt a kinship to Isaac, suddenly. They were children of a prophet on the eve of the end of the world, both haunted and saved by the knowledge given by their parents' gifts.

But some of what is being said around the poor not-nearly-drunk-enough-for-this-conversation prophet and maybe the distraction of Destiny pulling out Spanish will help with that, and if not, Castle decides to ask a very distracting question themselves, “How long ago did you lose your dad?”

"Dear," it's in that moment Eve sees Isaac for the lost seer that he is and she draws closer, passing Chess on the way and grazing her shoulder with bone white fingertips. The paintings are important of course but this was more important she felt. "You are just like your pa, just like me." Glowing red eyes stare at the man with sympathy, crouching down to look at him.

"These.. for me I call them echoes, they echo from a time that hasn't happened but these visions are inside you, tapping into it isn't always easy." She frowns, "Or suggested." Everyone couldn't handle the descent down the rabbit hole of possibilities and history had proven that Isaac Mendez was perhaps one of those people. She didn't really want to help him unlock anything knowing how it ended for him in their world.

Greengreengreengreengreen. A mantra to not forget what she wanted to say on that.

"They can be helpful but they haunt." The others are asking important things but Eve can't help but to relate to Issac, "If you like we can speak about this more, I don't have all the answers in this nutty brain of mine, but I know what it is to see."

That doesn’t make any sense!” Isaac shouts without realizing he’s shouting until the words leave his mouth. Much like Destiny’s louder-than-she-expected Spanish.

Isaac withdraws a little, glances at Destiny and reconsiders her in a way he hasn’t with anyone else. He’s giving what she said more thought than the other questions he’d been asked, but one lingers. Weighs heavily on him.

“My father died the same year as the flood. In the bunker. He went to sleep and just… didn’t wake up one morning.” Isaac shakes his head. “He didn’t see that coming.” Sounds bitter. There’s a hint of resentment in his voice at the frailty of life and the ignorance of prophecy, all doubling back on his own self doubts.

“I don’t know what else I can do for you.” Isaac says with a helpless shake of his head. He looks at Destiny again, apologetic in ways that aren’t voiced. As if he wishes he could repay her kindness. “And I… I appreciate the offer,” he says to Eve, “but I don’t want to dredge up the past. Honestly,” he glances at the paintings, “I’d rather not dredge up the present either.”

The experience clearly haunts Isaac. Both his uncertainty over the how and why, but also the nature of the paintings themselves, and living in the shadow of his father’s gift.

Aside to Isaac’s conversation, Edward is huddled by Richard, looking at the paintings. “There’s no telling what happened precisely on the day he painted these. But what Elisabeth told me when she was here, the hole that was torn in the sky, the same one that deposited pieces of that machine in the ocean for Mortimer to find…” He slowly shakes his head. “Who knows what kind of effect a disruption like that could cause in someone with Mr. Mendez’s gift?”

Edward looks over to Destiny, keeping an eye on her, only to then eye Chess. He’d caught her slip up, but doesn’t remark on it in the moment. “We’re taking these, right?” Edward quietly asks Richard, motioning to the two paintings.

“Yeah. When– he fired a shotgun at time,” Richard murmurs, shaking his head tightly, “Scattered bits of everything across everywhen. A rain of debris through the Garden.” Whatever that means, really.

“Yeah. Yeah, we’re taking them,” he says quietly, “We’ll let the others calm him down and then we’ll buy them. At the very least we can look them over and see if we can get any ideas, Maybe one of the others might have a thought, or an idea, about what it means– but it might apply to some entirely disparate timeline, there’s no way of telling.”

Chess sets the remaining of her water bottles – even one in a very nice, undamaged large VOSS bottle – on a table for Isaac, and watches the interactions through the corner of her eyes as she does so.

Once her bag is zipped and slung back over her shoulder, she tips her head and looks back to Isaac, a thoughtful expression on her face.

“You said your dad painted, too? Do you have any of his works?” she asks, voice soft, like she doesn’t want to startle him. “Just to look at. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to part with them. But we’d love to see them. It could be a way for his work to live on a bit, in our minds, yeah?”

Destiny smiles sadly, reassuringly to Isaac. “Lo siento mucho. Mis padres fallecieron también.3 I miss them terribly.” Everyone lost someone in the Flood. That loss unites many. Anything else she might like to say she holds, perhaps for good, in favor of giving Chess space, hoping there’s been enough encouragement offered here.

Instead of voicing their condolences, Castle closes their eyes for a moment and lowers their head. Perhaps that gesture is their way of doing so. They lost a lot in the Flood too.

While Chess continues with the train that they had been laying the tracks for, they reach into their bag and shift around a few things until they retrieve a labeled bottle, which they hold out toward Isaac. “It’s just herbal tea. Cooled, but a small payment for your assistance so far.”

They would go into payment for the rest later.

"That is just how our gifts work Mister Mendez, confusing, not sense making, maddening." Eve waves a hand dismissively but that's because she has long since made peace with this fact.

The talk of his father's passing has Eve frowning, "Condoglianze." A brief pause before, "I lost my parents in a bomb, the pain never gets easier but you learn to live on."

She doesn't make another offer to him instead, "I wouldn't worry about dredging anything up dearie, I think you were set free. What was once stored in your blood is no longer there. You are free." Something Eve feels minor jealousy over. She was ready for it to be over, she was so tired. So so tired but there were miles to go before she could rest.
A few more things to line up and set right.

Asking about his father's paintings has her nodding over to Chess, GREAT IDEA!!

Isaac paces a little, looking over at his own unfinished paintings, then the bottle Chess set down. He looks at Destiny for a moment with distant, sad eyes, but then hides them behind a tempered smile. He doesn’t want condolences. He doesn’t want to remember how that felt. So his focus shifts to Chess. “All of my father’s art washed away in the flood. He didn’t paint much, said he hated the things he made. Once I understood what his gift was, I knew he meant what he saw more than what he made.

Sighing, Isaac walks over to the bottle and picks it up, turning it over in both hands. He looks up at Castle, inspecting them for a moment, then returns his focus to the bottle as he turns it over. “You really want this junk?” He nods at the paintings they’re interested in. “Then yeah, go ahead. Honestly, it’ll be a weight off my shoulders.” He says with a nod to Eve. “Maybe then I’ll be free.”

Edward shifts away from Richard and comes to stand beside Destiny, gently placing a hand at her elbow to get her attention. “Press him,” Edward says to her, discreetly. As if talking about the paintings. “You’ve gotten his mind wandering, he’s less guarded. Ask him if these are the only two left that he did that day.”

Edward suspects something.

Huh. Richard glances to Edward and Destiny, his brow furrowing a little. He knows well enough to trust his godfather’s instincts, even if he doesn’t have his ability here, so he remains silent for the time being and sees how this plays out.

Chess nods in understanding. “I imagine that’s hard, if you paint something that showed you something so terrible,” she says, turning to look at the two paintings. They’re innocuous, really – the upward motion and the glow of power around Peter could become something frightening, but there’s no resolution to the energy rendered by the paint. The other painting is just a moment on the cusp of something – a liminal space also lacking resolution.

Her blue-eyed gaze alights on the other painting, the one with the ominous colors depicting a graveyard. A little foreboding, but not a clear foretelling of anything without more information. “Did you ever hate any of yours for that reason?” she wonders. “These don’t seem too scary.”

An apology is grimaced to Isaac, Destiny realizing her empathy has had the opposite effect she desired. She can empathize with that, too. Memories of her parents are a blessing, but thoughts of how they’re no longer with her are painful. She's lost in the weeds of that when Edward touches her elbow, bringing her to blink up at him in doe-eyed surprise.

There's apprehensiveness in that blue-eyed stare she fixes him with. She doesn't want to press the painter. She wants him to feel safe from harassment in his own home, like he isn't being interrogated for his ability. She's built some kind of trust, a rapport, and now Edward wants her to exploit it.

The conflict plays out on her face, in the barest twitch of her brow and the near imperceptible tightness around her eyes and thinning of her mouth. The potential for rebellion lingers only for a second before she blinks and it's gone. Nodding her head, she steps away from her friend and makes her way closer to Isaac.

“«You said you painted these two that night,»” she begins cautiously, continuing on in Spanish. She isn't sure if Edward knows exactly what she's been saying, or if he only noted the way it’s affected Isaac. Isn’t sure about the others either. She hopes they don’t; it helps make the conversation she’s having with him feel like it’s private. Like he can tell her things he doesn’t want the others to know. “«Were there more than just those? Those two and the one Maria sold us?»” She’s cautious, plays her curiosity as a card face-up on the table. Wide-eyed and guileless. “«Any you didn’t finish?»”

Des shakes her head, sympathetic, resisting the urge to look over her shoulder for some cue from Edward that she’s on the right track. She picks up the thread Chess and Eve have been spinning. “«Knowing is a terrible thing. Knowing that you’re looking at something that means something, but nothing you can piece together… must be awful.»” Falling silent, her eyes track to the floor briefly.

They come back up again to settle on Isaac. “«If you don’t want to talk about it, you don’t have to. If you don’t want to talk to them…»” Again, she doesn’t turn to look at anyone else, doesn’t even incline her head to indicate to the others that she’s talking about them. With another little shake of her head, she pushes her hands into the pockets of her long coat. “«It can be just us.»”

A small smile is offered to Isaac. “«You don’t have to talk to me either,»” she assures him. “«But I’m willing to listen still. And believe.»”

With a soft smile that doesn’t touch their eyes, Castle nods to the not-artist and affirms, “We will take them off your hands,” but they go quiet as Destiny speaks to Isaac, allowing her to carry the conversation and watching her quietly with a slight tilt of their head.

They had known Destiny once, but they hadn’t had many chances to reconnect, and they don’t appear surprised or distrusting of the words they are saying. If anything they seem to just be patiently waiting until it seems she’s finished talking. How much they understood of what she said seems very up in the air.

But then they address Isaac once again, referencing what he had said before, “Sometimes we have to let go of the things holding us back in order to move on. If no longer having these paintings can bring you some peace, we would be happy to pay you for your time and the resources that you put into them and help you move on.”

"I. See." Eve frowns and looks between Issac, the others and the paintings. "A man afraid, traumatized." Sniffing the air as she makes her way around the room, peering at the other shrouds. What Chess asks rings in Eve's head and her eyebrows perk up, of course. "But he doesn't dull the pain of the memory like the other. How? Why?" Whispering softly to herself before she turns and looks Issac up and down.

Instead of asking the dreaded iconic question Eve flips it: "You've seen something so terrible, so awful."

What could shake a seer to the core after family has been lost and the world already ended?

A half lidded gaze does a loop around the room again, "Unburden yourself, show us what you fear. Be free." Said in a frenetic whisper. This is not a gift for them but a gift from them. "But it will never erase what you've seen, no amount of burning, giving away or pretending will ever do that." It would seem Eve is upset by something, the plight of the seer to be exact.

"We see. There is no choice. But what we see can sometimes save lives. Throw it to us so they aren't worthless and rotting and can be maybe used for some semblance of good or morally gray." Or be useless. The subtext reeking from Eve.

They didn't have time for this, not for coddling seers when the worlds were literally ending.

¡Deja de molestarme!” Isaac snaps at Eve. “Eres un dolor en el culo.” He raises his hands and takes a step back, hissing. Then he just turns on his heels, looking at Destiny and answering her in English.

No,” Isaac snaps. “I didn’t paint a damn thing other than these. Nothing ever came true, not even this bullshit. It’s just—I don’t fucking know what it is. But it’s not special.” He glances back at Eve. “I’m not special. I’m just, what was it you called me, useless?” He waves a hand at the notion. “Take the paintings and get out.”

Edward furrows his brow, watching the exchange. He steps by Chess, gently touching her arm to get her attention, then nods in Richard’s direction, indicating that she should help him with the paintings. Then he walks up to Destiny and puts a hand on her shoulder, firm and approving. There’s a look in Edward’s eyes she’s seen before. He’s seen something. Recognizes something.

“One last question before we go, Mr. Mendez?” Edward asks with feigned hesitance. Isaac wheels around and gives him a baleful look, but it quickly melts and he just shrugs a helpless sure.

“Were there any lights in the sky the evening you painted these?” Edward asks, specifying evening even though Isaac hadn’t himself. Isaac stops, brows furrowed, and looks down at the floor and then up at Edward.

“Northern Lights, yeah.” Isaac had forgotten that detail until directly asked about it. “Why?”

Edward removes his hand from Destiny’s shoulder. “Just a hunch about the timing is all.” He offers a look back at Eve, one knowing and at once oddly friendly. Then a glance to the elevator. She’d done what she needed to do here.

“Thank you,” Edward says, looking back to Isaac. “Mister Mendez.” He offers a faint smile. “We’ll be out of your hair now.”

A Short Time Later

As the freight elevator doors close, Edward looks at the gathered paintings with a serious and somewhat dour expression. He’d been silent since they were collected, since Isaac was left to his morose meanderings in his loft. But as the lift begins to descend, Edward nods at the paintings.

“Isaac wasn’t painting the future.” Edward says quietly. “Even if he may possess the ability to…” His eyes wander the paintings, then alight to Richard, Chess, Castle, and Eve. “He was painting the present. An Overlay.” A term he’d come to learn since joining up with the convoy. “The only question I can’t answer is…” his eyes narrow slightly, “where was he seeing? And what was happening?”

“I don’t know. I… that day on our Earth…” Richard leans against the wall of the freight elevator, his eyes closing, “Peter, I know. He was gathering the worst group of people possible to try and stop Sylar.” His voice is thick with bitterness, “He got Molly killed. He got Valerie permanently crippled. He got himself killed I was pretty sure, although he seems to be even more of a cockroach than I am, since apparently he’s back again.”

“We don’t even know who the people in the other painting were, so I can’t even guess.”

Chess’ fingers curl around the edge of the painting she’s carrying, blue eyes flitting from Edward to Richard. “He is, but I don’t know which one he is.” She never did get that straight. Only that he was dead and mourned, and now he isn’t. “It might not be the one you knew. I don’t think it is. So if you see him…”

She lifts a shoulder. ‘Go easy on him’ goes unsaid.

Her gaze shifts to Destiny. “Did he say anything to you that was useful to us?” she asks quietly, then shakes her head, frowning. “Not that he has to be useful to us. He can just be. Not everyone has to fulfill some great prophecy or purpose.”

She looks down at the ground, brows knitting together. “I hope he can just be.”

“He called Eve a pain in the…” For a moment there, it seems like Destiny might just finish that with you-know-what, but ultimately commits to the faithful translation: “ass.” She shrugs her shoulders. “So, uh… Not really useful.” It’s only the way Edward put his hand on her shoulder that kept her from feeling like she’d screwed everything up entirely.

It’s the way he put his hand on her shoulder that has her feeling ill at ease. “I think we pressed a little too much.” She agrees with Chess about Isaac. He should be allowed to just be. Shoving her hands in her pockets, she turns her gaze up to Edward. “We should maybe let them…” Des’ head tilts toward her shoulder like a shrug. Let them talk Traveler things is the tacit suggestion.

“He’s done more than anyone could have asked for. He deserves some peace,” Castle agrees, though they look wistfully back toward Chess for a time, as if they wished that such a thing could be the case for everyone who got caught up in the wake of fate.

“The overlays weren’t common at that time, I think there would have been a lot more headaches if there were. And he wouldn’t have been seeing through his own eyes, either. Interesting. I know this happened with your ability a few times too,” that last bit is said to Eve.

It was an interesting case. “Should we see if any of these line up with other… “prophecies”?” And there’s something in the way they’re looking at Destiny. Because they’re meaning Else as much as Eve.

"Enough. Leave him be." The pale woman all but hisses at Richard, everyone knows Eve was protective of Peter. He was family.

Eve is silent after, crimson eyes flicking between the faces near her. Studying Chess harder then the others but whatever she sees or doesn't see Eve makes no note of it, instead she sends a warm smile her friend's way. "No flood, another river in the endless stream." She agrees that Mendez wasn't viewing the future but somewhere adjacent, "Wherever he saw was not-. He's been dead."

A beat, "He hasn't walked in on me getting high in his loft once, all these years…" Eve says absently and her gaze lifts to the ceiling. There's something she doesn't like about this, something she can't put her finger on. Eve blinks and slaps herself, "Silly goose! He didn't need to be there!" Just like she didn't need to be there to see somewhen else directly across instead of ahead of her. Nodding to Castle as they come to the same conclusion.

Speaking of her own Overlays has the tall woman frowning and she looks at her spawn, "Yes, some shades of me met on the cosmic coastline. A coven, we said hello." Among other things. "Seers don't play by the rules, they see outside themselves or sometimes just themselves." They, Eve still doesn't consider herself a proper seer anymore.

A rogue grin is thrown her cousin's way, "Don't worry cousin, we both get that a lot. Every time, every when." Eve's mouth drops open as her eyes shine with mischief.

The paintings have drawn Eve's gaze on and off since they walked out of Isaac's loft. If only she could tap into the rivers without pulling the trigger on herself, she liked this body. "It's study time," in a singsong voice, dragging a finger down the painting Chess carries.

Edward has been quiet since he asked his question. Listening to the others talk in the freight elevator as it descends. He draws in a slow breath, focused on a spot of rust on the floor, wishing beyond all hope that he could put the pieces of this puzzle together. When the elevator jerks to a stop and Chess pulls the grated gate open, Edward glances at the paintings again.

A graveyard.

A man with a watch in an alley holding a gun, bathed in emerald light.

Peter Petrelli and fractured glass.

Overlays. Moments in time that transpired across timelines. But which ones?

Edward is the last out of the elevator, looking at Destiny as he does. He gives her a look that implies slow down and lingers at the back of the group as the others continue to talk on their way out of the lift. Edward steps up to Destiny’s side, walking with her as he murmurs, “In my experience, everything happens for a reason.”

Giving Destiny a pointed look, Edward motions with his nose to the paintings carried ahead. “Prophecy is like a rebus,” he explains. A visual wordplay puzzle he had done with Destiny once before on a long boat ride to the Ark.

“The pictures are only half the meaning,” Edward reminds her.

“But there’s a hidden meaning when they’re viewed together.”

Ten Years Earlier

The Ruins of Midtown

November 8th, 2011

Prime Timeline

A shooting star falls from a second sun burning over the streets of Midtown Manhattan. It plummets past the highrise evisceration of derelict skyscrapers, towering construction cranes, and broken concrete.

The star lands without ceremony of celebration, erupting in a plume of flames and dust that shakes the earth. Manhattan is silent save for this reverberation, shaken to its foundations by a low-yield atomic explosion still burning in the heavens above. The city has gone dark in these afternoon hours. Street lights have failed, construction equipment died, police cars scattering across the streets stopping dead in their tracks. An EMP.

According to a wristwatch it is just after 3:30pm. The man it belongs to checks it, heading toward the footprint of fallen light that is the plume of debris rising above the buildings. This was the preordained hour, the preordained day. He rolls up the sleeves of his dress shirt, loosens his tie, and draws a revolver from his underarm holster.

There, in the alley, a shape moves. A figure wrought from the pit of hell itself, smoldering from atomic fire, crackling with the power of a forcefield that envelopes his body like a cellophane sheet. The man with the analog wristwatch stares in silence as the figure rises from the impact crater he caused, blood matted gray with concrete dust. Debris shakes off of his long black coat that is in tatters from the war he had just waged.

The war he had just won.

Sylar looks up to the burning fire in the sky that was once Peter Petrelli and smiles a crooked, knife-like smile. “That’s twice, Pete.” Sylar says with a rasping certainty, breathing in deep and exhaling a slow sigh. “You lose.

The man with the perfectly-timed wristwatch steps into the mouth of the alley, cocking back the hammer of his revolver as an announcement, rather than a warning. Sylar turns on a dime, fearless of a fucking gun and looks at the man standing in front of him like a tiger that escaped his enclosure at the zoo.

That’s not going to help much.” Sylar warns, motioning to the gun with a nod. The man with the wristwatch agrees and doesn’t bother leveling it. Instead, he smiles and creates a shimmering field of radiant emerald light in the palm of his free hand.

Sylar tilts his head to the side, listening to the steady tick of clicks behind his eyes.

Forcefields?” Sylar whispers. Then, with a little hitch of his breath he adds, “no.” His shark-like eyes narrow. “Something else.

The man with the perfectly timed watch raises his hand, pulling off his eyepatch to reveal a pit with a haze of green light radiating from within. Veins of green light pulse around the ruined eye socket, and Marcus Raith steadies himself in the face of the target of the Skein.

“Neat.” Sylar says with a laugh, lowering one hand to his side, two fingers extended toward the ground.

Show me how it works.

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