The Scenic Route


mohinder_icon.gif odessa2_icon.gif ff_silas_icon.gif

Scene Title The Scenic Route
Synopsis A walking tour of the Safe Zone's potholes and back alleys sets the stage for a road trip.
Date February 6, 2020

Bay Ridge

It's a pleasant afternoon — almost shockingly pleasant — in Bay Ridge, and on another day, under other circumstances, Silas might be able to enjoy it. Would almost certainly be enjoying it, come to that.

Unfortunately, the circumstances he's in are definitely not those magical other circumstances he'd like them to be. Today he's on the clock… and what a job this is turning out to be. Deliver a package, she said, Silas grumbles mentally, hands in his pockets as he makes his way down another quiet alley, bringing up the rear. That surprise — the package being a person — is one reason for his current surly mood. The package being Mohinder Suresh in particular is another contributing factor, and Suresh having the generally charming disposition of a pissed off toddler sulking because he can't have all the ice cream he wants is the curdled mustard on top of this particular shit sandwich.

"Nice and easy," he murmurs to the pair walking ahead of him, not for the first time — there's no one around to see them here, but as soon as they round the corner he'll need to be ready to throw his shroud over them all again. Down an alleyway, across a quiet street, down another alleyway — every city's got its own backways to get from point A to point B, and Silas has always made it a point to know as many of them as he can.

You never know when you're going to end up in a situation like this, after all.

“You say that like you’re trying to get my wallet,” Mohinder comments helpfully, looking back over his shoulder in a perfunctory gesture to make sure Silas knows he’s talking about him. “Also, don’t you have a car? I know the infrastructure in New York isn’t what it used to be,” he says sidestepping a two foot wide pothole, “but there has to be easier options than walking to wherever it is you’re taking me.”

Silas’ shit sandwich has layers. The curdled mustard of Mohinder’s attitude is just one of many.

“Also,” Mohinder says, stopping entirely so as to turn around and face Silas, “you don’t have to do this. There has to be a… a… police station or, or something. You could just drop me off.” His brows furrow, dark eyes searching Silas’ expression. “This isn’t worth your life. Not when the government finds out you did this.” Whatever this is going to be. Mohinder isn’t sure yet.

And here we go, Silas thinks to himself, expression flattening as Mohinder almost immediately starts with his 'helpful' commentary. This feeling. This must be what my dad felt like most of the time. It's almost enough to make him regret… well, a lot of things. Karma's a bitch.

"Nooo," Silas rebuts patiently. "If I were after your wallet, I'd brush by you and keep walking, and be a block away by the time you noticed," he says, not bothering to force a smile. And then be somewhere far away, instead of having this conversation right now. "And I happen to like walking. It's good exercise." He can deal with this, so long as Suresh keeps walking.

So of course Suresh decides to stop. Silas's expression hardens as Suresh turns to face him… though it softens a bit as Mohinder studies him. Something about that look makes Silas suspect that Suresh might actually believe the line he's spouting. Silas regards Suresh silently for a moment, considering. They're in a dark alley, they probably don't have to worry about getting spotted. Might as well get this over with.

"A police station, huh," he drawls, meeting Suresh's appraising stare with a level stare of his own. "Alright. I've got a little time to kill. Say I do that. Say I just… drop you off at the nearest PD. What happens then?"

Mohinder has all the energy for a frustrated rebuke, but it melts away the moment Silas actually entertains his hypotheticals. Firing a quick look over his shoulder to make sure that no one is at the entrance of the alley behind him, Mohinder closes a little of the distance and speaks in conspiratorial tones; hushed by hasty. “I surrender myself. I turned myself in after the war, I— wanted to go on trial.” Mohinder’s brows furrow, eyes narrow. “Do you know who I am?” He asks without any sense of irony. “What I did?

It’s the first time in Silas’ experience that someone guilty of a crime wanted to be behind bars. But there’s an earnesty in Mohinder’s eyes and a guilt the likes of which he’d seen in Kain’s too many times to be able to pass off as a coincidence. This was a man with a burden on his conscience.

Wanting to be behind bars isn't Silas's scene; he'd have to say no thanks to that one. But the guilt that's coloring Mohinder's expression… that is something he knows. He's seen it in Kain's eyes, sometimes, furtive flickers behind the man's cynical facade; he's seen it staring at him out of his bathroom mirror in days long past, though he's pretty sure his own crimes and failings have left him with far less blood on his own hands than Suresh has on his.

Silas's mouth tightens. Yes, he knows who Mohinder Suresh is; he knows what the Suresh from the Flood did, and, courtesy of Suresh's own earlier admission, he knows what this version of him was tried for.

He doesn't know the details, though. Honestly, he doesn't want to know the details, but he suspects that the only way he's going to be able to get Mohinder to stop trying to throw himself off a metaphorical cliff is to let the man make his case. I'ma need a drink after this. Luckily, his next stop happens to be a bar — something he's definitely looking forward to at this point.

"I know that you have done some terrible shit, from what you said back there at the courier's crash pad. I don't know the details, though," Silas says slowly… and as he speaks, he drops a shroud over them. It's more for safety's sake than anything else — so far Mohinder has shown an appalling inability to stop himself from slapping everyone nearby with his filthy laundry. If the not-so-good doctor stays true to form, Silas definitely doesn't want any chance passersby to hear Mohinder giving his "My Collection of War Crimes" speech — or, worse, to hear Silas responding to that speech. Alright… your move, he thinks ruefully, mentally bracing himself.

Mohinder subtly recoils from Silas like he’d gotten a whiff of rotten egg off of him. His upper lip curls more with disdain than disgust. When the expression levels out, Mohinder can’t help but exasperatedly laugh and run both his hands through his hair. “I presided over the largest modern genocide in American history. I was the Department of Evolved Affairs advisor to the President as he put your kind in camps. I helped design the drugs that negated your abilities, knowing they caused cancer. I was asked to— to create a method by which your entire species could be eradicated and the only reason I didn’t follow through is because the world ended.

The world didn’t end, not from Silas’ perspective. He’s truly seen the end of the world. But for Mohinder, the Second American Civil War and everything that led up to it was nothing short of apocalyptic. There’s plenty of ordinary people who would agree. But Mohinder’s self-flagellating guilt nothing short of a perfected artform at this point.

“I helped the Vanguard develop a virus that could have wiped out 90% of the earth’s population,” Mohinder adds. That one hits closer to home. Because there’s a world out there where they succeeded. Kain’s world. “I was forced to, but I could’ve said no. I could’ve died with my fucking convictions. But instead of simpered like a coward to save my own life instead of risking it to save others. I could go on,” he says with a crack in his voice.

But he won’t.

Jeeeeeesus Christ.

Silas hadn't braced hard enough. He doesn't think he could have braced hard enough for that. All he can do is try to absorb Suresh's confession; it was bad enough when he was glossing over the worst of it, this is… rough. All he can do for a moment is to study Suresh, weighing his words for a long, silent moment.

"You could've," he says at last, nodding once. "Yes. You could've." He delivers the words not with vitriol or condemnation, but as a simple statement of fact. "But you didn't."

He's silent for a moment longer, a thoughtful, distant expression on his face as he considers his approach. "Maybe it'd have made a difference in how things turned out; maybe it wouldn't have. Not really any easy way to know things like that," he says; only then does his gaze come back from that middle distance, settling squarely on Suresh. "Doesn't really matter, come to that. You did what you did, and this is the world we've got to deal with."

Silas exhales. "You recognize that you screwed up, at least. That's something. Ain't gonna undo the things you've done, ain't gonna wash the blood off your hands… but then, you know that, don'tcha?" he asks, and for a brief moment, there's a hint of… not sympathy, exactly, but perhaps some faint species of commiseration.

He's silent for a moment, considering. "I ain't gonna argue that you don't belong in prison for what you've done," he says; given what Suresh has admitted to, he's not even sure he could make that argument convincingly. "But there's something else I'd like you to think about, if you would."

"First off: Mazdak wants you dead. They want you dead bad enough that they were willing to launch an assault on a federal prison to take you out. If you go back into custody — if they find out that you're alive — they will take another shot at you. I guarantee it."

He frowns thoughtfully. "And here's something else for you. Doesn't the fact that they specifically went after you worry you at all?" he asks, arching an eyebrow. "They wanted you dead, which suggests to me that they see you as a threat." He lets that sink in for a moment before looking back to Mohinder. "Given your past body of work, the fact that they went to such lengths to target you, specifically… doesn't that worry you?"

"'Cause it sure as hell kinda worries me."

With all of his worrying over his own sins, Mohinder hadn’t considered for a moment that very bleak possibility. The look on his face isn’t so much surprise as it is frustration. He feels stupid for not having considered it first. Mohinder’s mind races to what SESA had him researching, what he and Odessa both were working on, what the operatives who came after him had asked for. His eyes track from side to side, brows creased in a furrow.

“No,” Mohinder says in a whisper, to himself not Silas. His dark eyes flick up to his escort and there is a sudden look of dawning worry on his face. “They’re… they’re not afraid of me,” he says with a sudden sense of certainty, as if pieces of a puzzle that never made sense are now suddenly falling into place.

The attack on Liberty Island, the attack on PISEC. It wasn’t about fear…

“This is about control,” Mohinder says with a shakiness to his voice. But it isn’t fear. That shakiness is adrenaline born of shock. Born of sudden and horrifying revelation. “I think there’s a change of plans,” he says to Silas as if suddenly in control of the situation. “I need you to take me to Manhattan.”

Then, after a beat of consideration. “Manhattan, Kansas.”

Oh, well. This is…

What even is this? Silas wonders to himself, staring at Mohinder with a look of complete bemusement.

He has no idea what any of this is about, but Mohinder's stepped out of self-flagellation mode for the moment and that is a marked step up in Silas's opinion. That alone makes it worth hearing the man out, though the look of horrified realization doesn't hurt.

"Ooookay," Silas says slowly. "Why?"

“I’m sorry. Hang the fuck on.”

Having been completely content to let Mohinder work out his bullshit with a party that’s not intent on excusing his sins, Odessa finally feels the need to interject. She’s long since decided Suresh wasn’t a flight risk and freed him from the hell of being literally attached to her and gave him a respectable distance, but that doesn’t mean he’s rid of her.

“What’s— The bunker?” Odessa folds her arms over her chest, squinting at Mohinder as though she might be able to intuit his intent with enough narrowing of her eyes. “You leave something behind?” She’s never been to the place where Richard Ray rode out the war, but she’s heard tell.

Her gaze shifts back to Silas, tipping her head to one side slightly, a half-shrug. Let’s see where this rabbit hole leads.

“I don’t recall asking for your opinion,” Mohinder snaps at Odessa, still sore about the punch to the face, both figuratively and literally. It’s Silas who gets his question answered. “Because if that’s the case, it’s the only safe place for me to be. No one knows about it.” The bunker, as he doesn’t correct Odessa. “I’ll need to get in touch with Richard Car— ray. Richard Ray. Everything I was working on, he would know what to do with the information.” Mohinder explains with a slow spread of his hands.

“It’s the only way to make sure Mazdak doesn’t get what it wants out of this,” Mohinder explains. “They didn’t want me dead, they wanted me silenced. They took my research, they believed that they killed me. This is about control of information, who has what, who knows what. There’s a recording studio in Kansas, I can make recordings of everything in— in case this goes poorly.” He briefly glances at Odessa, as if she’d be the cause of that, then back to Silas. “Please.”

Silas frowns thoughtfully, the wheels in his head turning. This is not what Asi had asked him to do… but on the other hand, it seems pretty clear that she wants Mohinder not dead, and securing Mohinder's cooperation in not leaping under each and every passing bus is going to make that job orders of magnitude easier. Besides. She just asked me to deliver 'the package'. Didn't say it had to stay there. 'Packages' can be slippery little buggers, he thinks, a bit sourly.

So. Assuming I actually go through with this, I probably need to contact Richard, too, he thinks. Bumming off Raytech again is depressing, but a large-scale corporate entity is probably his best chance of being able to get a vehicle on short notice without leaving a backtrail.

It's at that point that he runs across the snag in that line of thought: the whole 'Richard got kidnapped bit'. Shit. He'll have to talk to Kaylee, and he doesn't know her well enough to be sure he'll be able to talk her around, which leaves him in a… less than optimal position. Oh well. Nothing for it but to give it my best and hope it's enough, he thinks, coming to a decision.

"Okay," he says at last, regarding Mohinder with a tight expression. "First off… if I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna need to make some arrangements. That means I'll need a little time, and that means getting you to the safe house."

"Secondly… you probably shouldn't be contacting anyone. At least not directly," he says… then he pauses for a moment. "There might be a problem when it comes to contacting Richard, anyway," Silas admits. "Last I heard, he was… unavailable. Apparently his sister's running the show at the moment." He delivers that as off-handedly as he can, not letting the concern roiling in his stomach show in his voice or on his face.

“I didn’t offer an opinion,” Odessa snaps back, face twisted in a sour expression like she’s been sucking on a lemon. “I’ll handle Richard.” Because naturally, Odessa assumes she’ll have access to him, no matter what his current situation is. She knows enough about what Mohinder’s alluding to at least to facilitate a meeting.

Shifting her stance in tandem with a click of her tongue against her teeth, Odessa’s gaze slides off to the side, frustrated with the situation she’s almost entirely made for herself. Then, her annoyance melts away, replaced by apprehensiveness. With grief. “We need to keep him safe,” she says to Silas of Mohinder. “They’re picking us off.”

Which leads her to wonder why she wasn’t on the kill list. Isn’t she every bit as brilliant as Suresh and at least twice as dangerous? Again, she lets her attention settle on Mohinder.

Right. He has scruples and won’t be cowed. Odessa hums with a frown.

“She isn’t coming with me,” Mohinder says flatly without looking Odessa in the eye. She’s not entirely certain it’s about the punch to the face anymore, but it probably didn’t help. “I’ll go to whatever safehouse it is you need to put me in until we can get out of the city, but I don’t want her within a mile of me.” He says with a finger jabbed in Odessa’s direction, still avoiding eye-contact.

“Besides,” Mohinder’s tone softens, “if they are picking us off, it’s probably not wise to keep us all in one place. Especially if they’re utilizing something like Compass technology to track us. Odessa would be a beacon that could lead them straight to me.” Any excuse he can make to drive a wedge between himself and the woman who always seems to come before personal disasters in his life. Deserved or not.

Silas's face doesn't change, but Des's sudden volunteering to handle the Richard situation elicits a flash of surprise from him… one that transmutes with kaleidoscopic swiftness through alarm, dismay, consideration, evaluation, and at last into a sort of bemused acceptance. Alright, sure. We can give it a shot.

Des's sudden wilting draws a surge of sympathy and concern, his mouth creasing downwards into a faint frown. That expression doesn't change much as he turns towards Mohinder at his contribution, but Odessa can probably feel the way his emotions shift from sympathy to disapproval… before that, too, is swiftly boxed up and set aside. "That works," he says, nodding to Mohinder, before his gaze shifts to encompass the both of them. "Alright, then. We'll drop you off at the safehouse," he says, nodding to Mohinder, before shifting his gaze to Odessa. "Then I'll take you off to your destination, and from there you can work on getting in touch with Richard," he says, studying her; he's not sure what the connection between Des and Richard is, but as curious as he is, he's not going to ask right now. "I've got a request I'd like to make, too, if you're able to get through to him… but we can go over that"

"Once everything's clear… I guess I'm driving you out to Kansas," he says to Mohinder. This, admittedly, is not how he'd pictured things going, but… he'll take it. "I'll do my best to keep you safe." That, too, is spoken to Mohinder, but for the briefest of moments his eyes flicker to Des as he says it.

It doesn’t take an empath to recognize the shift in Odessa’s emotions. Her posture changes, shoulders sagging, hunching inward, making her look a fraction as small as she feels in this moment. There’s no righteous anger for Mohinder. No retort about how she’s the reason he’s alive right now. No pep talk about his place in the world.

Odessa’s gaze lowers to the pavement beneath her feet and she simply turns and starts to walk away. Not to abandon her escort and fellow escapee, but to give the latter the space he clearly wants.

If Mohinder notices, it’s only in that he lacks anything to shoot down. There’s a soft noise in the back of his throat, a nod, and a fleeting look at Odessa before he turns and resumes the course Silas had started them on. Though he does have the foresight to request:

“Can we avoid the scenic route?”

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