The Substitute


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title The Substitute
Synopsis Melissa Pierce is made an offer by an agent of Samuel Sullivan in exchange for the life of Kendall Cunningham, but when it comes at a high cos,t, Melissa is forced to put herself in a difficult position, with many lives hanging on the line.
Date September 23, 2010

Little Green House


The scream carries through the smoke-filled lobby of the Biodynamics Incorporated headquarters. Gunfire erupts thorugh the haze as Peter Petrelli starts firing into the smoke. Out of Melissa Pierce's periphery she can see one sleekly black-clad figure of FRONTLINE stepping through the smoke, 01-05, his assault rifle up, sweeping the room and training a shot on Melissa as he flanks around the side of the group, Peter's wild shots shattering glass behind him, but he's line up the shot, he has to take it.

A gun is being pointed at Melissa, and she isn't looking that way. Kendall is about to yell, but with all the gunfire being fired and causing chaos she likely won't hear, so he leaps towards her, yelling her name anyway. Of course, yelling naturally breaks his illusion of invisibility since people can tell he's there, and then he's where Melissa is. Hands come out and shove at her, sending her flying, just as the gun is fired.

Kendall gets jerked backwards as he's shot in the chest, crimson quickly soaking through his shirt, and he lands in a heap on the ground. And unlike Peter, his wounds don't heal, and a thick puddle forms underneath him. It was a nearly perfect shot, as well, leaving no time to heal him even if someone was close by with the power.

Hearing her name Melissa's head jerks up, then around. And just when Kendall is leaping in front of her, she's starting to bring her pistol up. She would never have made it in time, and she goes sprawling anyway when he slams into her. After it registers that Kendall's not only there, but that he's been shot, she screams, "NO!" in a voice full of anguish and rage both.

She doesn't seem to hear Kris's call to the Messiah members, instead scrambling to Kendall, tugging him into her lap, uncaring that she's getting blood all over her — Kendall's blood.

Instead she looks up at the FRONTLINE member who did the shooting, hatred emanating from every fiber of her being as she attacks him in return. Not with her pistol, that's forgotten. No, she wants him to feel what Kendall's feeling, only intensified a great deal, and she has the means to do it.

Unfortunately it means that she isn't moving towards Kris for the evacuation, her only thought in that moment revenge for Kendall.

One Month Later…

Sunlight spills down through living room windows, curtains pulled aside to let morning light in. Laid out on her sofa, one arm fallen off the side and the other trying to cover her eyes from the sun, Melissa Pierce is at times not the most graceful sleeper. Unconscious where she fell after getting home from the Karaoke night at her club, dawn's early light is breaking just a little too early.

There's no sounds around the house this morning, Faron has been gone for weeks on an assignment for Rupert God knows where, Edgar is probably either asleep or halfway across the world having breakfast in Mexico, for the first time in a long time, the Little Green House is quiet.

Except, of course, for the knocking on the front door.

Standing on the front porch outside, visible through the living room windows, a stranger stands in the chill morning air, where sunlight reflects in glittering quality off of the dew collected all over the front yard. An elderly man coming to visit Melissa Pierce isn't a common sight, especially one as advanced in age as this one.

Easily eighty years old, if not more, hunched shoulders and an oxygen tube hooked into his nose makes the weary old man seem all the more infirm. A single oxygen tank rests on a hand dolly at his side, his brown cardigan worn beneath his buttoned down brown windbreaker makes him look the part of someone's grandfather.

He's no family Melissa recognizes, at any rate.

No, graceful sleeper doesn't suit Melissa at all. Especially when she's woken by knocking. Paranoia is the name of the game though, and she grabs the pistol off the coffee table, tucking it in the back of her pants before she stumbles her way to the door. She peeks out, then frowns. It has to be a mistake. And she says as much.

"Dunno who you are, but I'm pretty sure you've got the wrong house. Sorry. Now if you don't mind, I think I'll be going back to sleep," she mumbles, letting out a yawn to help address the point that he woke her up. But her tone is nice enough. She doesn't kick puppies, kids or the elderly. Really.

"If you're Melissa Pierce, then… this isn't a mistake." Though the way that the old man notes that seems half-hearted, the way his thick gray brows furrow deep wrinkles in his brow and the way the corners of his mouth downturn into a frown. "Do… do you think I could come in, dear? It… this isn't a discussion for porches." There's a briefly worn smile across the old man's face as he clears his throat with wheezing breath.

"It's cold out here, an' I have it on good record that you're not one t'leave an old man out in the chilly air." There's a more honest smile then, as if he knows he's being a bit tongue-in-cheek, head dipping forward in an apologetic nod.

There's a bit of stiffening when the man uses her name, her eyes narrowing slightly. But Melissa signs and opens the door wider to let him in, keeping her back away from him to hide the pistol. "I'm not, no, but I do have to say that I really don't like this. So, old man or not, talk fast and tell me who you are why you're here looking for me."

"A friend of one of your house guests sent me," and in that the old man reveals that he knows more than a tired old man should. Something that Melissa is now noticing as well, is that there's no car outside, no car down the street, no cars. An old man with an oxygen tank does not just walk into Port Ivory on his own, no matter the hour of day. "I come here as proxy for mister Samuel Sullivan," the old man offers with a smile that crinkles his mustache, his free hand held out to Melissa in proper greeting.

"My name's Arnold, an' I'm here t'talk to you about a boy named Kendall Cunningham." Apology is writ across Arnold's face as he offers out the hand, "Now I told you this here wasn't a conversation for porches…"

There's more frowning at the explanation. At least the first part of it. "I don't know…" Melissa freezes when he uses Kendall's name, and the door is shut abruptly, a hand moving to her back pocket, where it's closer to her gun. Just in case. "I don't know any Samuel Sullivan, and Kendall Cunningham is dead. As of a month ago. So I don't know what you could possibly have to discuss regarding him, and I really don't like having fresh wounds reopened." His hand, of course, isn't taken.

Exhaling a sigh, Arnold slouches and lifts up that hand not taken to his mouth, coughing into a closed fist as his brows furrow. "That's what I came here t'talk to you about, Melissa…" there's a brief flick of a smile that flashes across Arnold's face. "Now, I know what it's like t'lose a son, an' to be willing to do damn near anything to have him back. What if I told you," there's a ghost of a smile on Arnold's face again, "that I knew a way that you and Kendall could be together again?"

There's a moment of silence and narrowed eyes. "Be together again? I sure hope you're not meaning in heaven, because I'm sure as hell not ready to die, for any reason. So why don't you be a little more clear, Arnold, and just tell me what you're proposing and what the cost will be?" Melissa asks.

Both of Arnold's gray brows lift up as he hunches his shoulders forward and takes a step further inside of the house, the wheels of his oxygen tank squeaking as he walks, eyes alighted to look up the staircase before he comes to a stop, then turns to look back over at Melissa. "You're free t'say no, ma'am, but I just want you t'know that this isn't about no heaven, no hell, and certainly ain't nothin' but the God's honest truth. I can bring Kendall back, save his life, because it's what I do, miss."

There's a weary smile on Arnold's face as he breathes in deeply, wheezing, then looks past Melissa to the closed front door. "All I ask is that you're goin' t'do a favor for mister Sullivan in return, but I'll tell you all about that an' answer all've your questions. If you'd be as kind t'show me where an old man could get himself a seat, and maybe a hot cup of tea… I'll get to tellin' you the long an' short've it."

Paranoia turns into something else, Melissa afraid to hope that this man is telling the truth. "You can have a seat, but I don't have any tea," she says, nodding towards the couch. "What kind of favor, though? I want Kendall back, but there are some things I won't do or can't do." Sorry Kendall. "So sit down and start spilling."

Melissa's tense mood has Arnold admittedly uncomfortable, though as he looks to the sofa there's a wariness in his eyes, considering the too low and too soft furniture. Instead he offers a look over at a ratty old recliner adjacent to it, wheeling his oxygen tank around the table before slouching down to sit in the chair with a groan of the springs. Exhaling a wet cough, Arnold manages a small smile to Melissa, if only because it is polite.

"It isn't anything big," Arnold says in a small voice, offering a slow shake of his head. "All you need t'do, is visit a family who's a little down an' out on their luck, and give them this." Reaching inside his jacket, Arnold retrieves a yellow envelope and tosses it down to land with a slap on the coffee table. Wrinkled hands fold back in his lap and a broad smile crosses his lips.

"The Polks, they're good people, nice people. Now they lived out in those God-awful trailers after the bomb, you know… the ones where the storm crushed 'em flat? I want you t'go back with me…" Arnold lifts his brows in a bear with me expression to say, "back in time, and deliver this here money to the Polks. Help get 'em out've their trailer, help get'em outta' New York. They deserve a better life, better'n what this world's offerin' 'em."

Looking down to the envelope, Arnold breathes in deeply, then exhales a rattling sigh before his tired eyes angle up to Melissa again. "You do that for me, an' I promise we'll go back and warn Kendall not t'be at that place he got shot at. We'll save your little boy, all you've gotta do is that one favor."

The envelope is looked at, frowned at, and she looks at Arnold again. "I don't get it. If you can go back, and you have the money, why can't you just give it to them? Why do you need me for that?" But the promise of saving Kendall, for something so simple…Melissa hesitates and picks up the envelope, looking to see if it's sealed, and if not, well, she's opening it to glance inside. Just to make sure.

"I don't think I get any of this, Arnold. I know I don't like it. It seems too easy." And the whole deal with Rupert and Messiah has her paranoid on principle. "But if all I have to do is hand over an envelope to get you to take me back to go save Kendall, then I'll do it." But then she thinks of something and eyes him. "You will bring me back afterwards, right? I don't want to be stuck in the past."

"Bein' stuck in the past ain't no cup a'tea, dear. I wouldn't do that t'you or anyone, nobody deserves that." There's a firm tone in Arnold's voice, as firm as the tired old man can manage at least. "I could take the time t'explain why it's important that I don't do it, why I can't do it, but I think between you'n me that doesn't much matter. What matter is your boy, and makin' sure that a terrible mistake gets itself righted."

Frowning, Arnold looks down at the envelope, nodding to Melissa as if approving of her taking it. "I can send you back, right from the comfort of this here armchair, which is where I plan on being. Now I'll know when you've gone and done it, gotten this all right. Once that's done, I'll come get you and we'll go take care've that boy of yours. Then when that's done, I'll be out've your hair once an' for all."

Offering a weary smile, Arnold folds his hands in his lap for a brief moment, then reaches inside of his jacket and withdraws a battered old copper case, circular and tarnished, like a pocket watch.

"Let me know when you're ready…" Arnold offers with a look down to it as he flips the lid open, then looks back up to Melissa.

He'll be in the armchair? As in leaving a stranger in her house? Melissa frowns again, not liking that at all. "How you gonna get me back if you're just sending me? And what's that?" she asks, nodding to the thing in his hand. She sits down, pulling her shoes on, but it seems she doesn't intend to leave the room. She's dressed, she's got her gun, her ability, she's good to go, really.

"You let me worry about how my ability works," Arnold admits with a gruff laugh and a shake of his head. The battered copper case is closed with a snap of Arnold's fingers, tucked away into his jacket. "It's just an old heirloom," he notes with a furrow of his brows, eyes settling on Melissa with a momentary scrutiny. "Are you ready t'go, dear, or do you have your head full of all sorts of other unimportant questions? I know if the opportunity t'save my boy came up," Arnold closes his eyes and shakes his head. "I'd be a sight more receptive."

"I was more worried about leaving a stranger in my house," Melissa says dryly. "And I do want to save Kendall, I just don't trust you." She rises to her feet, hands on her hips. "But I'm ready to go. I'll deliver the envelope. But I swear, if this is a trick of some kind, old man or not, I will kill you," she warns.

Closing his eyes slowly, Arnold exhales a slow sigh and shakes his head. There's something murmured under his breath as he looks back up to Melissa, looking to have drained much of his sympathy away in the time that he's spent in her presence, ever so brief. "Well you best start workin' on that now then, darling. Because if it's a long revenge plan, you won't have yourself much time to plan it in," says the old man with an oxygen tank in his late eighties.

Of course, there isn't room for an answer, not when dealing with Arnold and his ability. All Melissa sees is a wince, a look of growing pain washing over Arnold's face, and then the world around her changing in an instant accompanied by the brief sensation of falling without her feet ever having left the ground.

When Melissa disappears from the house, Arnold breathes out a deep and tired sigh, then pushes himself to his feet. Looking over to where she was sitting, there's a frown that hangs heavy on his wrinkled old lips.

"This ain't right…" Arnold murmurs with a slow shake of his head.

Too late for regrets now, though.

Thomas Jefferson Trailer Farm

East Harlem, New York City

July 4, 2007

The sounds of shrieking children fill Melissa Pierce's senses the moment she's somewhere else. Sitting on a cooler out front of one trailer of many filling what was once a city park, she sees a pair of ten year old children running past with glittering sparklers in their hand. It's easy for them, being as young as they are, to have a good time in the midst of tragedy. No matter the crisis, children are usually the first to persevere thanks to their innocence.

The Thomas Jefferson Trailer Farm is a sea of FEMA shelters, cookie-cutter trailers spanning as far as the eye can see in every direction of wooded parkland. Families are shoehorned side by side, hundreds of thousands of refugees from the bomb packed together in tight quarters. Little red white and blue flags hand from all the doors, the pop-snap-pop of bottle rockets flying off serves as a distraction.

The smoke they make pales in comparison to the smoke rising up on the horizon. Far to the south, over the tops of the trailers in front of Melissa, she can see that the sky is choked black with smoke. Wherever, whenever she is, Midtown Manhattan is still smoldering, the ruins have yet to cool and some of the fires still rage underground. The wound is still fresh, and a new one has just been opened a few months prior. It is a world that has only just learned of the Evolved.

This is the Brave New World's first steps.

Melissa opens her mouth to retort, or maybe to back out of the whole thing. But she never gets the chance, dammit. She winces at the sounds of the children. Dirty, fragile, confusing children. This is so not where she wants to be. Her shirt is shifted to hide her pistol and she shakes her head. "I'm gonna yank that tube from his nose, I swear I am," she mutters to herself.

Only then does she give herself a chance to look around, sighing at the sights she sees. "He could've told me something about when and where I was going. Now how the fuck am I supposed to find them?" It won't happen just standing here though, so she starts walking, to search for someone she can grab to ask after the Polks.

There's a lot of people that could be the Polks, a lot of people in general. The adults are more subdued, sitting in lawn furniture, watching the kids play, but they all have a harrowed look about them, they all have a certain sadness in their expressions. Most of them look the part of survivors of disaster, and while the nuclear explosion in Midtown is slowly encroaching on the one year anniversary, that wound to their lives is just as sore as it was the day that they lost everything.

Most of the people here, Melissa knows of only by history. Residents of Staten Island and the boroughs that were affected by the fallout cloud. People who's homes in the middle of Midtown were reduced to cinders and ashes. People who have lost everything. Arnold's choice to deliver money to just one of those families, to give them a better life, it doesn't seem all that terrible in comparison.

She's never done this before.

She didn't think she'd be too interested in ever doing it, actually. But when you are finally faced with the option of Do or Die- the choice is obvious. That is how Delilah Trafford came to be here. Not because she lived here- back- now- but because she, like Melissa, has come to make a difference. Little does she know, that the one she has been waiting for is someone that she least expected. Red hair covered with a silk kerchief, and dark glasses on her eyes are to only make sure she doesn't accidentally cause time to collapse by seeing herself- or, actually, having someone she knew before see her now. Her hero, so to speak, was gracious enough to wait for her to grab something, albeit slower than he may have liked. She can't help it, at this point.

"Melissa?" The voice that comes from behind the young woman is immediately familiar, and already, sounds quite distressed. Delilah, standing amidst the well-worn and dusty tracks between rows of trailers, tugs at the tie of the scarf under her neck. The blue and white plaid of her maternity shirt matches the backdrop, though the fact it is a maternity blouse, over a seven-month belly- she didn't get here on her own, and frankly, does not belong. Just as Melissa doesn't. Dee's voice hushes, sadly.

"…It's you?"

The last thing Melissa expected to hear back now was her name, much less coming in a familiar voice. She goes rigid, then looks over to Delilah. "Okay, what the fuck. I'm getting sick of this, I really am. Yeah, it's me, but what are you doing here? If Arnold already sent someone back to deliver this money, and is just wasting my time, I'm gonna be pissed." Pause. "Strike that, I'm already pissed. Besides, look at you. You're huge. you don't need to be jumping through time."

She's not exactly the most gracious of people right now, but she's been awake all of fifteen minutes, and it hasn't been a normal fifteen minutes either. At least she doesn't have a hangover.

At any other time, Delilah would laugh at this. Melissa is probably right about the time travel- maybe she shouldn't be- maybe it's like flying. She'd never done it before, no less, and it was strange, yet an exhilarating thing. But, Lilah trusted the circumstances. The person she came back to save the life of had best make every Mother's Day better than the last.

"Arnold?" Delilah questions, that giving her enough to pause. It must be the other one. "No, Melissa. I'm not here cause of some guy named Arnold, and I'm sure as hell not delivering anything- any money- I-" The younger woman waffles between anger and that same distress, and it comes out very strangled, verbally. "I came to stop you."

Eyes narrow at the answer and Melissa shrugs. "Tough. If this is how I get Kendall back alive, I'll do it. So unless you have a really damn good reason why I shouldn't give this money to the Polks and buy back Kendall's life, then you can just scamper back to the present with whoever brought you here. Because if giving some family an envelope full of cash is all that's asked, to save the life of a seventeen-year old hero? There's no way I can pass it up."

"I would bring him back if I could too, but you can't do this." Delilah's face squares, her jaw clinching tightly for a moment, as she studies Melissa and considers her words. There are no 'right words', just the truth.

"The Polks are my family. The aunt that took me in, when my parents died. We- we lived here for a few years. She always said that if she could take us all away from here, that she would." Dee finally takes the glasses off of her face, even though she has to squint a little in the bright July sunlight. The hand that doesn't move to do this, has gathered around the top curve of her stomach. Usually bright brown eyes are reddened, but only just so much as her defiance and stern look allows. "If you give my aunt Marien that money, Melissa, I would never go where I've gone, done what I've done. You'd be killing my son."

That's not what Melissa expected to hear, but it has her barely pausing. "Sorry, Delilah. But I cna't say that a kid that isn't born is more important than one who was. Kendall was born. He was alive. Your child isn't, and hasn't been. So unless you just happen to have a time traveler in your back pocket…Doubtful…I don't have any choice." Yes, she just managed to slip a movie misquote into a serious conversation.

"You always have a choice. Kendall had a choice." Delilah's nostrils flare a little, mouth pinched in frustration- and really- terror. "Kendall's gone, Melissa, and even if you brought him back, what's do say he wasn't destined to die? Walter hasn't even had a chance to be born. You have no idea of his importance." To Dee. To her friends and family. To whatever else he grows up to do.

"Walter is the one that doesn't have a choice, not you."

"Sorry, Deliliah. But Kendall died saving my life. If I had to die or kill to give him his back…" Melissa trails off and shrugs. "Wish you did have a time traveler in your back pocket." And she does sound apologetic. "Besides, even if you family leaves, you can stay." And she begins walking again, to find someone who will tell her with the Polks are.

"What would Kendall think?" is asked at Melissa's back, followed by the crunch of the gravel and dirt underfoot. Hiro Nakamura's voice isn't one that Melissa is familiar with in the din of the past or present, but that the world around she and Delilah had ground to a halt inspires a certain level of gravity to the situation.

Stepping into Melissa's field of view, Hiro Nakamura is a darkly clad figure in the summer night. His black vest in unzipped, revealing the buttons of his equally dark denim shirt beneath. Cargo pants are tucked into boots, a sword of all things, sheathed on his back. Olive-tan ray-skin coveres the scabard, old leather from the World War II antique looking tarnished and aged.

That Hiro has a bruise on his cheek that wasn't there when he last spoke to Delilah minutes ago is new, one of his eyes slightly swolen shut, a cut on his brow and dried blood spattered across the opposite side of his face. His clothing is torn and tattered in places too, a leaf stuck in the back of his ponytail, clothing damp. He's been in a fight.

"My name is Hiro Nakamura," the swordsman explains with a furrow of his brows, "I had tried to warn you about what Samuel was planning, but Arnold was preventing me from arriving to talk to you. I had to delay your actions until Arnold was occupied elsewhere. Now," Hiro intones with a nod of his head, "we need to talk."

There's a look back to Delilah, brows furrowed, "you did very well. But I believe I will need you here for one more thing…"

Delilah Trafford is hell-bent and pregnant. Never the best combination. Melissa doesn't seem to understand the dire need Dee has to protect her son, and that has her terrified. When she is about to just charge- she sees the man ahead of Melissa before she can draw her gumption up. The redhead pauses, in some limbo between trying to stop Melissa, and the quick study of Hiro. Her inner self balls its fists and growls something about 'who beat you up?!', she can feel it boiling around like an angry bubble beside the boulder that is her concern about stopping Mel from changing her life around.

Lilah breathes, barely, setting arms around herself and centering her gravity. She'd been totally ready to quite possibly put up an actual fight. Blame it on the trailer park flashback.

Stopping, Melissa looks back and frowns at Hiro. The frown only deepens when she realizes that everything else has stopped. "Kendall would hate it, but as long as he's alive, he can be as pissed as he wants." There's a lengthy pause, where she glances between Hiro and Deliliah, but her gaze settles on the stranger again.

"Someone want to explain what the hell is going on though? Like why some strange old man shows up at my door, and twenty minutes later I'm in this situation? Who is he? Who's Samuel? And how the hell did me and Kendall get mixed up in all this? Though, unless you…Wait, shit. You're doing the time stoppy thing. Shit. You're a time traveler? Or you just stop it like…" Wait, she doesn't know this man. "..someone I know?"

Hiro's expression clearly says I don't want ot talk about it regarding the bruises. Clearing his throat, he looks back to Melissa, brows furrowed and eyes narrowed. "Loss makes people do insane things, but I do not think the woman that you are would be able to look your friends and loved ones in the eyes again, if you had to take the lives of innocent people in order to save Kendall's." Hiro's attention flicks briefly back to Delilah, a gloved hand lifted to lay on her shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze before he turns back to Melissa.

"You are not a murderer, Melissa, you are not a villain. Do not let Samuel Sullivan's easy answers cloud your judgement. Samuel is an enigma, I know of him only in name… but I know he is the man responsible for what is happening all through history as we speak. He is trying to destroy our world, by unraveling the threads of time and space… he is stepping on the butterflies, and I and my friends and allies, are trying to prevent him from writing us all out of existance."

Looking over to Delilah, Hiro nods once, with a faint smile, then looks back to Melissa. "Arnold is his time traveler, I believe. He is older, stronger, more versed with his ability than I am. He has been trying to prevent me from stopping Samuel and his people. By doing what you were going to do here, Melissa, you would not be saving Kendall's life… but you would be unraveling history by preventing the birth of Walter Trafford, preventing the death of Edward Ray on the roof of Pinehearst, preventing every choice young Delilah made in her life by being forced to stay here."

Hiro's dark eyes narrow as he holds his hand out, "Give me the money, Melissa. Please… I cannot allow you to make this mistake."

Though this could be a parable about abortion, it isn't. It is simply personal. To Delilah most of all. Too personal. She stands still as Hiro speaks, only looking away from Melissa when he lifts his hand to her shoulder. She may be a few inches taller than him, but Hiro's presence is an astoundingly powerful one to her. Enough to make her feel rather small. Her hands knit together, brow furrowing on its own as Hiro brings back various and numerous memories of the things she's already done. More than she realized, until now. More than enough to yank one of life's Jenga pillars off its axis.

Taking a step back, Melissa's hands move into her back pockets again. Or at least her thumbs do, again ensuring that she can easily get to her pistol. "Give me a better option," she shoots back at Hiro, not the least bit intimidated by him. "If you are a time traveler, then you take me to a time where I can save Kendall. See how easy that is? We both get what we want. But I don't know who the hell Edward Ray is. I don't know who Samuel is. I don't know you. Walter isn't even born. So they don't matter to me even a fraction as much as Kendall does." Or her guilt over his death. Guilt that's only gotten worse since her talk with Eileen.

Another glance at Delilah, then back to Hiro. "You know, this is all seriously pissing me off. The whole goddamn thing. The last seven goddamn months. And now this? Like I wasn't already in the middle of a dozen things that were driving me nuts?" She shakes her head. "I don't need this bullshit. I don't want it. And I don't want to be a murderer, but I can't let Kendall stay dead. And did I mention that I really fucking hate being used, which is all anyone's doing lately. So I don't give a damn about anyone else's problems. I have enough of my own! Especially when I'm outnumbered," she says, giving both dirty looks.

"So you have two choices here. Take me to save Kendall, or get the hell out of my way."

"There are alternatives." Hiro states flatly, his brows furrowed as he looks to his sword, then back to Melissa, "this is not as black and white as some make it out to be. Preventing Kendall's death at the Biodynamics building would be just as much a disturbance to history as preventing Delilah from having her son. You would return to a world you did not recognize, if you did not cease to exist entirely."

Breathing in deeply, Hiro's eyes slowly close as he shakes his head, looking to Delilah with an apologetic expression, his hand still on her shoulder. "I have done something similar before, once." There's an angle of Hiro's head to the side, one brow lifting slowly. "I saved a man I met in the past from a predestined death, but I did so without altering the timeline, without changing perceptions of the past, present, or future."

This, it seems, is what Hiro's most important goal is.

"If you wish Kendall back," Hiro offers out his hand this time, gloved as it is, much as Arnold had. "Come with us, and we will find a way to save him and keep history intact. But if you insist on putting other lives in danger, being used, then we can see where that gets you."

No favors, no requests, just an offered hand.

Delilah watches between the two, though her attention pauses at length when Hiro describes that he has done this before. At least, the part with someone wanting to fix the death of another. If he's telling the truth, that is astounding; if he's only trying to get her to step away, that is good, but far less astounding. Dee does her best to keep quiet, at silent behest of her swordsman friend, and barely does so. The need to grab Melissa and shake sense into her is almost too great to handle. If she's as frustrated as she is, why would she even trust some guy that appeared out of nowhere? Probably the same reason that Dee did, whatever it is.

"See, that's option number one," Melissa points out in a dry tone. "But…" She glances to Delilah, then back to Hiro, and doesn't bother whispering. "Does she have to come with? The whole…" she makes a vague gesture towards the belly. "Plus, isn't this dangerous? She doesn't need to be here. Send her home, if she's so concerned about her kid." There's another pause though, and she lets out a long-suffering sigh and her hand slaps down into Hiro's.

Tension bleeds out of Hiro when Melissa takes his hand, a sigh of relief and likely also exhaustion. He doesn't look like he's slept in a good long while. "We will not be going back to Biodynamics, Melissa. I have— " there's a pinch of Hiro's brows together, a look to Delilah then a look back to Melissa with a faint smile. "I have a plan, and the less trips I have to make thorugh time, the better." Though Hiro doesn't explain why he's trying to cut back on journeys into the beyond.

Squeezing Melissa's hand and Delilah's shoulders, there's an arch of a brow and a tilt of Hiro's head to the side as he asks what can only possibly be a rhetorical question to the two young women. "Have either of you played the video game Chrono Trigger?"

Yeah, that's a smile he's wearing.

Northern Staten Island

August 26, 2010


A scream echoes from the small television perched on top of a short night stand next to a bed that he promised would be made this morning. All in all today has been a gigantic failure of a day, his date with Peyton had gone completely tits-up and not in the good way, and now he just died for the fifth time to Revolver Ocelot.

Kendall Cunningham can't even score in video games.

Sunlight spills through bedroom windows, goldenrod and dark, afternoon is quickly turning into evening and the house is quieter than it usually is. The sudden eruption of air pressure into his bedroom is unexpected. The arrival of a black dressed Japanese man carrying a sword on his back, with Melissa on one arm and— Delilah— in Kendall's room.

Maybe his luck is turning around.

Kendall just sighs at the game. "I really hate that." he mutters. He flops back on his bed, controller falling next to him, then blinks. Wait, what? He jerks back upright and kinda gapes at Melissa, Delilah, and some strange Japanese guy. Kendall blinks again, then looks at the door, which is still closed. "Uh…" wait, Dee is here! Kendall leaps up and subtly shoves a magazine under his bed with his foot.

"-on't have a Bekkler- ah-" Maybe it is Hiro's secret addiction to hop across time while people are talking. She would glare at him, but that seems miniscule compared to the fact that Kendall is there- alive, quite. Delilah's eyebrows lift high on her head. Were they really supposed to get this close? What is that he's shoving- no- nevermind, best not to ask.

"Um. Hello, Kendall." Delilah actually isn't sure how to talk to dead people, and so it comes out so very stilted.

For the first few moments after they arrive in Kendall's bedroom, Melissa just stares at him. To him it probably seems weird, since she just saw him, but it's been a month for her. A very long, very guilty month. And in the next instant, Kendall finds himself with a Mel hugging the stuffing out of him. It's not a short hug either. He'll probably be gasping for breath before she lets him go.

Clearing his throat, Hiro closes his eyes and exhales a tired breath, lifting one hand up to his forehead as he turns away from Melissa and Kendall, not so much out of respect for their privacy, but to hide what Delilah sees in her peripheral vision. Blood not from Hiro's various contusions or other minor injuries smears across the back of his hand, wiped from beneath his nose. A vein at the side of his head bulges fatly as he takes a step away from Kendall's bed, pulling his sleeve over his hand to dry his nose.

"Gack!" Melissa's trying to kill him! Kendall flails a little. "What's the deal? Who's that guy? And… What's Delilah doing here?" the last is kinda mumbled out, and he glances at her again. Then he struggles out of Melissa's grip. "What's wrong with you?" he eyes her skeptically, then once more to Delilah. "What's her deal?" is he asking Delilah what's wrong with Melissa? Probably. He shoves his hands in his pockets a little defensively. Is he in trouble or something? that's the only reason he could think of for a stranger to be in here.

Intuition and sight compound into a subtle, maternal reaction at Hiro's movement. She was watching him out of the corner of her eye already, and the shift makes her turn at least one to him, keeping Kendall and Melissa in her other. Her hand follows Hiro's back as he shifts away from her and the bed, a momentary, warm press against his vest. No need to freak anyone out- but- she can't help but pay attention to it. There's something wrong, even if he tries to hide it. Only when Kendall addresses her does Delilah look back at him, expression ticking into wistful.

"Trust me, she has a good reason."

Reluctantly, Melissa releases Kendall and steps back, turning her head to one side so she can wipe at her cheeks. She's not crying, nope, just ignore any evidence to the contrary! It takes her a moment to get her emotions under control. "That's Hiro. And it's…Jesus, Kendall," she whispers. "This is complicated." She looks at Hiro, frowning. "How do we do this? Do I tell him everything? Take him away? What?" she whispers to him.

Dark eyes briefly afford Delilah with an apologetic expression, and Hiro is slow to turn and square his attention on Kendall and Melissa. That momentary look Delilah received says more than Hiro wanted it to, the look of nervousness and uncertainty in his eyes paints a picture of a future hanging both in the balance and on a precarious edge. Hiro may have left the hospital, but there seems to still be something wrong with him.

""My name is Hiro Nakamura," he begins, in the hopes that perhaps Kendall is a big enough nerd to have read Ninth Wonders, "I am a time traveler." Most people might be skeptical of this truth, even in this day and age, but often times the naivete of youth and the willingness to believe that gives him hope.

"Tonight, you will sneak along with Melissa on a mission for Messiah," and that names is spat out of Hiro's mouth. "You are caught in crossfire, trying to save Melissa's life, and you are killed." Hiro slowly advances towards Kendall's bed, brows furrowed tensely.

"We are here to prevent that from happening while maintaining the intrgrity of history as it happened to us to prevent a Rift. You must be brave and follow our instructions." Hiro Nakamura, when the chips are down, doesn't really beat around the bush.

Delilah frowns a little when Kendall backs away from Hiro, peering at the Japanese man's back as if her power was actually telepathy. Don't scare him, will you? And oh- oh- is it her turn to be creepy? She can help, Hiro! Really.

"I think we are supposed to use our forty Silver Points at the Tent of Horrors. Then Lavos can 'kill' you, and the world won't fall in on itself. I hope. Though I really have no clue where we're going to get another Kendall…" She crosses her arms over the top of her stomach. See, Hiro? Totally helpful. "…Do we need one? Or is this like some kind of- bait and switch?"

It's when Hiro mentions Messiah that Melissa gives him a dirty look. But now is not the time to be yelling at him. He did bring her here, to help Kendall. She looks back to Kendall and she nods slowly. "Yeah…you did. You took the bullet meant for me. And you ever do something like that again I'll kick your ass."

When he shies back from Hiro, Mel moves to stand beside him, though she doesn't think he actually needs protection from Hiro. She does look at Delilah like she's insane though. "The hell are you talking about? And why do we need another Kendall? Will an illusion work?"

"Illusion?" One of Hiro's brows lift slowly, head tilting to the side. "Kendall is an illusionist?" One dark brow lifts and the time-traveler offers a lopsided smile, slapping a hand on Delilah's shoulder with an approving smile to her explanation. "This will save me from needing to go retrieve Candice Wilmer from where I left her," the swordsman notes with as close to aplomb as he can manage.

A distracted eye shoots to Kendall's shelf above his bed, a plastic robot figurine briefly reminding Hiro of his own childhood, where he came from, and what he has become. Reservations about doing this fade, because Kendall Cunningham isn't that much different from himself. His dark eyes slant over to Delilah's heavy stomach, brows knitting together. Everyone deserves a chance.

"We will allow events to play out as they did." Hiro notes sternly, looking to Kendall with his brows furrowed still, imitation of his father Kaito's sternness. "Tonight, you will sneak along for this mission as we had said you did, but you will be forearmed with the knowledge that Melissa and her allies are ambushed in the lobby of the Biodynamics building. You will mask your position with your illusions… you will save Melissa from death, and you will fake your own."

There is a warning look to Melissa, then back to Kendall. "It is not fair to have to suffer, but it is the only way we can maintain the integrity of history. That I am trusting you with this, Kendall…" Hiro crouches down by the side of the teen's bed, one arm laid out across his bend knee, looking up to the young man now, "I am entrusting the fate of our future in your hands. After you save Melissa's life, we will be there, we will rescue you."

There's a look to Melissa, then over to Delilah — sorry you're getting dragged along too, preggers — then back to Kendall, "and we will take you forward in time with us. To the world, it will be as if you died. With any luck, they were never able to recover your remains when the building collapsed, so we step on as few butterflies in the past as possible."

Arching one brow, Hiro asks the most important question of all to Kendall. "Can I trust you with this responsibility?"

Kendall blinks at Delilah, then reaches over to an open drawer, pulling out a little inch square DS game, squinting at it. "So…. you're telling me this so that I don't die? So I'm going to be Crono?" aw man, that's kinda awesome. "I don't think I'd need a doll though." using the game context, he can sorta figure out what Hiro wants him to do! And then Hiro's doing the whole bended knee thing, asking him to save the world. The Future! HOW COOL IS THAT?! "Okay!" He frowns and taps his chin with three of his fingers. "So… make it seem like I died, when I actually didn't." pause. "I'm going to the future too?" heh. "Ok." he nods, a quick jerk of his head. "Let me just…" he goes and grabs a pad of paper and a pencil, just in case. Then he also grabs a ring. If anyone looks closely enough, they'll see that it's the One Ring.

"I feel like I should be waiting at the End of Time…" Delilah mutters this mostly to herself, on the basis of she is the fourth- and least useful- party member. She keeps one forearm on herself, protectively, the other pulling down the kerchief on her hair so it hangs around her neck. The pointed look she gives to Hiro now is a clear one for him- can he do it? Without something else happening?

"This is not how I was expecting to spend my day, but I wouldn't have it any other way." Well, except the part where Melissa almost killed Walter- that can be left out. As long as it doesn't happen- Delilah can forgive a great many things.

Candice? Another person Melissa doesn't know, and it makes her a bit more grumpy. She doesn't look surprised to see Kendall grabbing that ring, or his quick agreement. She does though, rest a hand lightly on his shoulder. "This is serious, Kendall," she says softly. "I want you alive a month from now. Do everything he says, okay?" Apparently she's decided if she's going to trust Hiro a little with this, she may as well go all the way.

Hiro affords Kendall a speculative look at the ring, then turns to Melissa, then Delilah. "We must leave, soon, to ensure that we do not further disturb history here. From here, we will go one day ahead in time, to the night of Kendall's death." There is tension in Hiro's neck as he makes that assumption, then looks back to Kendall. "If you follow our instructions, if you are true and believe in your ability… we will find you alive."

Worry crosses Hiro's face, followed by hands held out to Delilah and Melissa. "We cannot delay any longer."

Kendall gulps as it finally sinks in. They're all saying he died. He died. Gripping his notepad close to himself, he looks to the women, sidling closer to Melissa. "How exactly did it happen?" he whispers to her. "So I can do it right? All the details?" good thing Kendall's good at quick, detailed drawings, he can't rely on the geek mode of his power to work everything.

If Delilah had taken Hiro's hand any faster, it might be weird. Truthfully, she is just wanting to get out of here. She knows that she doesn't belong- and it is making her uncomfortable, like a humid, stuffy room does. She's ready to go, when Melissa is. Kendall gets her clearest, hopeful look. She hopes that he really does do it- if not- Melissa may just go back to what she was doing before, and there would still be no Kendall.

Melissa gives Kendall another hug. "You can do it. So just, follow your instincts to protect me. We'll save you. I swear it." Then she releases him and gives him an apologetic smile. "I'll see you soon. Just don't say anything to the me here between now and then." She steps back, looking to Hiro, and she swallows before taking his hand.

Melissa's advice is exactly what Hiro hoped for, less spoon-feeding the details to Kendall, and more allowing the boy to play it out as he would have on his own, affording the largest likelyhood that time itself is maintained in the proper order. With Delilah and Melissa's hands in his, Hiro offers a look to Kendall. "There is no try," he notes with a restrained smile threatening to crack his composure, "only do." With one last nod of his head, Hiro imparts Kendall with the most important advice he can give of all.


And the rest, is history.

Biodynamics Incorporated, Manhattan

August 26, 2010


The shout comes from another female Frontline officer, 01-02, rushing up behind Michael and grabbing him by the arm, her sidearm leveled over his shoulder as she fires a few divering shots past Ash, «Look at your vitals! He tagged you! Pull back!»

"Ash!" Peter screams, coming up behind the soldier, wrapping an arm around one of Ash's biceps, "We have to go! We have to go! Kris! Get us out of here! Get Kendall!" The barked order has Kris staggering away from Ling, leaking blood from between his fingers, he reaches down and takes a hold of one of Kendall's arms, then holds out his other hand for Ling, taking her hand. Peter hauls Ash back, only thanks to the momentary dazing that a third blow to the head has afforded him. "Melissa" Peter can't carry everone, reaching away from Ling, Peter grabs Melissa by the shoulder, dragging her back towards the group and letting Ling complete the circuit with a touch to Peter's back.

"Oh god, oh god please get everyone!" Kris shouts as he tries to focus on all of the bodies around himself through the blinding pain he's succumbing to with Melissa's focus away from him. Sucking in a sharp breath, there's a sparkle of fiery red lights around Kristian, a buildup of heat and then an explosion of crackling and snapping energy—

He's never moved this many people at once, while injured.

Sometimes things get lost in translation.

Sometimes there was nothing to lose at all.

In a sudden pyroclasmic flash of red light and pinkish sparks, the entire Messiah team disappears as Kristian bender pulls them from the building, smoke wafting through the structure, tear gas billowing in thick foggy clouds. An instant later, there is a snap of people and a rush of air as three individuals are edited into reality like a poorly spliced frame of film.

Hiro Nakamura, Delilah Trafford and Melissa Pierce witness the dark silhouettes of FRONTLINE officers fleeing through smoke, spotlights shining in through the demolished glass front windows of the Biodynamics building, glass littering the floor.

Kendall's body lays limp on the ground in front of them, a bullet hole square in the center of his chest, blood darkening his clothing, head tilted to the side and arms sprawled out where he had been dragged when they tried to teleport him out.

There's a streak of blood across the floor where he'd been dragged, blue lights are flashing beyond the smoke and gas, sirens are wailing. Moreover, any minute now, Pericles Jones is going to press the detonator.

And this entire building is going to blow.

Once everyone's gone, the 'dead' Kendall sits up. "Great Scott, it worked!" naturally, he has seen Back the Future and its two sequels, so he knows the scene. Then the illusion fades away, and the 'real' Kendall pulls off the ring, becoming visible. He's noticeably to the other side of Melissa, away from all bullets. Kendall takes a deep breath. Now, what actually happened was that, instead of doing what was natural and leaping for Melissa, he had his illusion do that while at the same time he was on the other side, and pulling Melissa. Now, his illusion works for touch as well, so Melissa felt herself getting pushed by the 'visible' illusion while Kendall was invisible and actually pulling instead, that part being untangible. So Melissa's out of the way, Kendall is 'shot', and the future of all mankind is saved.

The future of mankind- or maybe just a kid and an unborn baby.

Delilah stays as close to Hiro as she can, from the start; she was never one for going on excursions that could double in description as 'operations'. Guns and bombs are all well and good, when they have to be, but even at her best, Delilah is reluctant around them. She gives a start just at Hiro's shoulder when the smoke parts enough to show Kendall, and for a second it seems as if they've failed. When the illusion sits up, she starts again, one hand on her sternum and her eyes closing for a moment when he reappears, unblemished.

"Come on!" Her hand moves out to beckon him forward to them.

The sight of Kendall with the blood spreading over his shirt is one that Melissa has seen many, many times since this night. And one that horrifies her immediately. "We're too late," she whispers, voice choked up. Of course, then the illusion is ended and she nearly goes limp with relief. "Thank god. You did good, Kendall. Really damn good. Now get over here." She looks at Hiro. "Can we go back now? To our real time? I have an ass to kick." Hopefully she doesn't mean Kendall's, now that he's all alive!

"I believe by the time we return, you will have far more important things to worry about." Reaching out to lay a hand on Melissa's shoulder, and by proximity Kendall, Hiro turns, then rests a hand on Delilah's shoulder. Looking up to the ceiling, Hiro looks as though he's bracing himself for something. It's not the impending explosion of the building, either.

"We can talk later," Hiro warns as he closes his eyes, straining as he uses his ability, and vanishing in a flash along with his entourage a split second before a thundrous series of explosions rocks the building. Thousands of pounds of concrete crack and split overhead, a fireball tears up through the building as dust and debris come falling down from the collapsing structure, burying any and all evidence that they were ever there despite their meddling, despite their pressing and pulling on the threads of time and space, bending history to the breaking point.

But history refused to change…

Northern Staten Island

September 23, 2010

There's a rush of air that disturbs the dust on the floor of Melissa' pierce's house, rustles pages in a newspaper and sends curtains blowing. The sun has nearly set, an entire day passed in what seems like minutes, mostly just that Hiro Nakamura's aim is off.

From where they stand in Melissa Pierce's living room, there is clearly no old man sitting in her recliner, no oxygen tank propper up near his seat. There is no sign at all of Arnold at all, no sign that he was ever even here, save for Melissa's memory of that moment.

She, Delilah Trafford and the recently deceased Kendall Cunningham emerge from the streams of time, alone.

Four left the Biodynamics building together, three arrived on Staten Island. Wherver they were deposited, Hiro Nakamura did not follow.

Delilah may need a taxi.

As soon as they're in a different place, a different time, Kendall looks around avidly. This is… the future? Waitaminute. There's dust everywhere! "Oh no! We've been transported to a different dimension! This is Chrono Cross, not Chrono Trigger!" Ha. Hahaha. After all, how could there possibly be dust in Melissa's house?

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