These Skies Belong To Us


cat_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif kinson_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title These Skies Belong To Us
Synopsis Dark and uncertain though they are. Phoenix asks another former Vanguard operative for help, though as old enemies go, Gabriel 'Sylar' Gray is far more to them than that.
Date March 26, 2009

Ruins Of Midtown

Standing in the ruins of Midtown, it's hard to believe New York is still a living city.

There's life enough around the fringes — the stubborn, who refused to rebuild somewhere else; the hopeful, who believe the radiation is gone, or that they somehow won't be affected. Businesses, apartment complexes, taxis and bicycles and subways going to and fro — life goes on. Perhaps more quietly than in other parts of the city, shadowed by the reminder that even a city can die, but it does go on.

Then there is the waste. The empty core for which the living city is only a distant memory. Though a few major thoroughfares wind through the ruins, arteries linking the surviving halves, and the forms of some truly desperate souls can occasionally be glimpsed skulking in the shadows, the loudest noise here is of the wind whistling through the mangled remnants of buildings. Twisted cords of rebar reach out from shattered concrete; piles of masonry and warped metal huddle on the ground, broken and forlorn. Short stretches of road peek out from under rubble and dust only to disappear again shortly afterwards, dotted with the mangled and contorted forms of rusting cars, their windows long since shattered into glittering dust.

There are no bodies — not even pieces, not anymore. Just the bits and pieces of destroyed lives: ragged streamers fluttering from the handlebar which juts out of a pile of debris; a flowerbox turned on its side, coated by brick dust, dry sticks still clinging to the packed dirt inside; a lawn chair, its aluminum frame twisted but still recognizable, leaning against a flight of stairs climbing to nowhere.

At the center of this broken wasteland lies nothing at all. A hollow scooped out of the earth, just over half a mile across, coated in a thick layer of dust and ash. Nothing lives here. Not a bird; not a plant. Nothing stands here. Not one concrete block atop another. There is only a scar in the earth, cauterized by atomic fire. This is Death's ground.

It's the ass-crack of the morning, no longer last night, nor yet tomorrow. There's the heat-blasted remains of an apartment complex to the right, a facadeless laundromat to their left. The landmark which Gabriel Gray was given is across the street from them, a derelict bank whose marble still gleams frosty calcite veins through the skin-thin patina of dust and grime. The sign is still up, legible, only half-eaten by rust. FIRST CITIZEN'S BANK. The nearest functioning street lamp ins't for half a mile.

As clandestine meeting places ago, it's pretty clandestine.

Teodoro hasn't spoken for several minutes. He had called the erstwhile serial-killer, made polite note that, by now, Gabriel would have figured out what little troupe of activists he belonged to, requested a meeting on the grounds that said troupe wanted his help. He'd be bringing people with. He's standing near them now, looking calmer, more at-ease than he has in days, his left arm intact, bandage-free, his features quiescent as the stones around them.

She's keeping watch on the landmark opposite them, face solemn. Somber. Her clothing is black, as she tends to wear for operational matters, and the ski mask is in her pocket. Weapons are present, the rifle over one shoulder and pistols elsewhere on her person with silencers attached unless she'd been advised to be unarmed. She wouldn't disregard his call on that score, despite her misgivings on involving Mr. Gray.

Cat speaks in a quiet voice. "Claire Bennet came to me earlier, and we talked. I didn't ask about her blood, that can be left for Hiro to raise with her. It would've been too much on top of all else, and she wasn't happy. But she also says she isn't dropping out."

"I've thought about birds and cameras, too. Maybe Eileen can get some planted in the place to give us footage from the interior. Or… we could ask Hiro to plant some within the walls in the past, devices we can activate soon and get intel from."

Kinson stands with his hands in his pocket. It's the kind of time of day he can appreciate. As Cat speaks to Teo, he himself speaks quietly, but to no one in particular. Despite the reason they're there, he's an artist, and the muse assaults him abruptly. His voice is quiet, barely above a whisper:

"Slate grey skies,
neither dawn nor dusk

sunrise, sunset
day or night.

the border between days
is bland.
the same color as the borders
between states and nations.

He looks up at the sky before continuing, taking a deep breath of the not-quite-tomorrow before speaking again,

"These skies belong to us.
the way we live
is not for the sun's brightness
or the moon's cool embrace —
But for ourselves, at our leisure,
in our custom.
Not a biological clock
broken, forgotten.
Time now kept by
the heartbeat of the universe
and the clockwork celstial.

He looks around, forgetting his place and blushes slight. "Um. Sorry." he says, in the same voice. It's possible no one even hard what he said.

Except that someone did. All the subtle nuances, from the distant, soft thud of heart beats, through to Kinson's whispered poetry, and Cat's quiet voice of plans and schemes. A heat wave, of all things at this hour and season, is listening in from an impossible distance, the barest of shifting blurs as something near-invisible approaches at a leisured pace.

Through eyes that can't be seen, Gabriel Gray takes in the spectacle before him. Teo, a poet, and someone armed to the teeth. Interesting ensemble. It's the weaponry that makes him delay, deciding if and what to do with it. He knows what he wants to do, but it's been a lesson, lately, in learning what he should do.

He materialises still quite a distance away, but within seeing - perhaps within normal hearing. A black coat whispers its hem against long, black-clad legs and heavy boots, a black sweater beneath the heavy coat that defines his silhouette. "Claire, Eileen, Hiro," he says, voice drifting quietly on over to them, and despite the overt weaponry on Cat's person, his eyes are on the more familiar of the three. "This must be good."

Like the rifle across the woman's back, secrecy would have been redundant. Even name-dropping. The old associations between PARIAH and Phoenix are known and not likely forgotten by a pamnesiac. Though chattering tactically sensitive information idly in the open might have been construed as as much of an insult as the presumption that high-caliber autofire could do anything to a man who'd walked off a nuclear blast, Teo figures, well. A man who takes it personally when someone's walking weapons around the Midtown ruins isn't one you'd want at your back.

Or maybe Teo's just stupid, insofar as you shouldn't want Gabriel Gray in your face, either. Still, his doesn't crease or gape with shock or horror when the other man's black-on-black figure emerges out of the gray and rubble behind him. He'd been in the middle of squinting quizzically at Kinson. He stops that. Turns his head to watch. Nobody's losing the roof of their head yet.


"We're attacking the Homeland Security penitentiary facility where Peter Petrelli and some of our people are being held," Teo starts off without particular aplomb. His hands are empty at his sides, his own weapons equally out of sight, some mix of reckless insanity and practical resignation. After you've done the thinking, then you do the doing. "Plan is to liberate them and do some damage.

"I know it's been a long time since we came to an uneasy alliance about over a common enemy, and some of our people fucked that up the first time around. Still, I was hoping you would help us."

She turns at the sound of the voice, watching the man as he approaches. Cat's head tilts as if curious and speculating. He heard her speaking, from over there? Intriguing. One more detail added to the many she's collected regarding Mr. Gray. She knows, surely, the picture will never be complete. Life just doesn't work that way. The face is memorized as well, for all the good that would do. He could very well be the man she buys her copy of the New York Times from every day. What exactly is he capable of?

She says nothing, opting to leave that with Teo for the moment. Her features show calm alertness and intrigue. That heart is now beating slightly faster.

Kinson looks into the dark that speaks at those with him, and puts one hand in the pocket of his hoodie. The other reaches up to the strap of his ever-present backpack. He tugs on it, as if it the answer to a security blanket. He takes a couple of steps back, but doesn't wince or react in fear. He's heard stories about this guy, and treats him as he'd treat any other deadly weapon or radioactive substance: With respect, and with distance. He moves between Cat and Teo. It's probably safer this way. For now.

Gabriel comes to stop and stand several feet away - too far for real friendly conversational distance, but close enough to be polite. He's pale under cover of darkness, all shadows emphasising the ridges and definitions of his face and not really giving much in terms of expression. Mutely blank, save for one eyebrow twitching the barest fraction up at the name Peter Petrelli, and then that final statement.

Explaining exactly what he's doing here. A wide and wolfish smile crosses his face, a cynical chuckle that almost communicates mirth. Oh you, Teo. The pamnesiac at Teo's side and her memorising gaze gets an entirely unassuming glance, Kinson given the same treatment, as if waiting for a punchline that doesn't come.

"Moab. So that's where he's been. I had wondered." A step forward is taken, rubble crunching grittily underfoot. "Very smart, getting me on your side. Good way to break through the wall, at first, and then if you need a bargaining chip, you have it. I can see how that would work out nicely for you." His lip curls in a sneer when he adds, "Why do you think I'd rescue Peter from a place he deserves to be? Look around you, if you don't think so."

Oh him, Teo. The Sicilian's eyes thin slightly, ice spurs against the ruddy cast of his face, sanguine relief against the ambient black-and-blue around them, a smile that doesn't reach his mouth. Though there are lots of other -isms more frequently associated with Phoenix, one does not undertake to join a terrorist organization without a certain level of cynicism being involved.

His heartbeat is fast, too.

"Not that smart," he replies, presently. "Homeland Security doesn't negotiate with terrorists. Especially not ones running with notorious serial killers." The long axis of the Sicilian's torso straightens, shadows steepening in the pits underneath the tightening knit of his brows. "I guess—" A half-beat's hesitation as his gaze strays to Kinson briefly, but fuck, if the reality of Midtown's going to get thrown around it won't be strictly his doing.

"I guess I believe you'd want to talk to him. I don't know a lot about 'deserving,' wielding a suite of multiple, uncontrollable abilities, or mass-murder as a horrific fucking consequence of it. But that's just it: I wouldn't fucking understand. Not even if I died of old age. If anybody could, it'd be Petrelli. Gillian told me you worked with him once before, and you forged that alliance as much out of common interest as mutual hate, if not more, so I know you've spoken.

"But I'll admit. Sentimental associations and that whole mirror metaphor aside…" Teo has the grace to drop his eyes slightly. Then they're up again the next moment. His fingers uncurl in his pockets. "He isn't my priority. Helena and Alexander are. Kind of convenient, they're all in the same spot right now."

Kinson knows his role in all this. Hopes those that he's with know that they can trust him when and if the need arises. In the meantime, he unobtrusively slips to the back of the marching order. He sticks his other hand in his pocket, now. He's just an observer. He falls silent having nothing really to offer of value.

So many questions form in her head, as the two speak and she observes. What would his side of the nuking story be, were he asked? Cat doesn't hold him blameless; Peter came there to fight and stop him from murdering, from collecting more abilities. Those murders would be enough to get Gabriel life in prison even without the devastation stapled onto his name. The photographed face of Charlene Andrews flashes into her mind's eye, she never met the woman but there's a link of sorts. Panmnesiac and slain panmnesiac, the living one facing he who killed her.

Then the calculating mind moves on. They don't know, for their part, they wouldn't just be taking him to the buffet table… and even if he didn't grab a plate and start sampling the menu right there, Cat knows, he'd see their faces, possibly learn their names, and be able to hunt them at his leisure. The many levels this is a bad idea on float through Cat's brain.

But the one she's left with is the same thing she earlier told Claire: she's already abandoned someone to die through lacking time and ability to rescue. She won't let Helena and Alexander rot away in prison, even if it means working with Gabriel, and Moab is a target demanding all they can muster.

So she remains silent unless addressed, the better not to offend Mr. Gray.

Gabriel used to have an easy defense as to his sins and the singular, devastating act of Peter's — control. That defensiveness crosses him, briefly, a flicker of pride across otherwise now neutral features, but for the first time he finds himself not saying anything at all. His gaze even shifts from Teo's, if resentfully. The implications of this reasoning, and unfortunately for Gabriel is strikes a chord.

Guilt, change of heart, redemption, whatever. Control is important. It was numbing to find exactly how little he had, all along.

There's some silence when neither of Teo's companions speak up, Gabriel studying the broken ground before glancing up, sharply, as those other names come into the equation. "The prettiest princess and Fido too," he says, flippantly. He doesn't exactly have a good rapport with either of them. With any of them, except maybe Teo, naturally Gillian. "Moab is exactly where everyone wants me to be and you expect me to walk in there because of sentimentality and metaphor. Because you need me. To save people who hate me, with people who hate me." There's a question, there.

His gaze moves to Cat, looking her up and down, at the rifle at her shoulder, even as he mainly addresses Teo when he says, "And people who don't trust me. I guess you didn't spin a very persuasive romance about my fighting the good fight, and all."

By some extravagant egotism of logic, Teo is confident that whatever waits at Moab Federal Penitentiary, a buffet table isn't it. There is no all-you-can-eat buffet with an airstrip, hotline to Homeland Security and Company Central, Evolved agents trained to handle the most dangerous of the species. Teo is pretty sure Sylar could find better places to eat. Granted, he doesn't know Sylar won't get hungry, but—

"They wouldn't believe it from me."

That's where you hope 'survival instinct' and the thematic importance of calling him 'Gabriel' come in. There's a lot of extravagant egotism going on anyway. They're going to go and kill people who work at a prison which, by nature, precludes the dire contingency of killing those held within. If Teo thought about it too much, he'd probably go crazy. Fortunate, that he isn't by nature a cereberal creature.

Prettiest princess and Fido. Teo's eyebrow quirks. Not criticism, but dull amusement at the accuracy of those terms, however mockingly applied. Beauty and loyalty, however useless those traits are now— "Moab is exactly where a lot of people want you to be. Seems like a pretty fucking good reason to break it," Teo forges on. White knight, scratching his cheek with a blunt forefinger.

"Also," his words drag, a little. Ruefully. Teodoro doesn't particularly enjoy the resentment of others. Worst terrorist ever. "I think Gillian and Eileen are coming with, and while I have no doubt you could either lock them up somewhere safe or… ignore the probability they'll die without you, I hope you wouldn't. 'S probably even less edifying, but— I guess I also figured, after Pancratium— you like to fight."

Which leaves the good fight. Teo rarely knows how to talk about 'the good fight.' Notorious as his idealism (-ism, -ism) is, he's remarkably limited in his capacity to keep people alive, blow things up, and no more. "I don't expect you to grovel and beg for forgiveness." His features go painfully blank; doesn't like how he phrased that. A beat. His eyes shift past Kinson to Cat, questioningly.

Anything he says would be about them, and it would be speculative. She, on the other hand, would know.

"Mr. Gray," Cat begins, speaking calmly, "you don't quite trust us either, and you've good reason for that. The situation is one where distrust has to be placed aside. I can't speak for others among us, and I won't try. I would suggest, on the topic of you now wanting to fight the good fight, all you can offer right now is words. If you assist in this endeavor, and no evidence arises to reinforce currently held perceptions, you begin to change them, don't you? Maybe that has value to you, and maybe it doesn't. But there it is."

Eileen and Gillian. It makes sense. Cat had just mentioned birdgirl. Gillian had walked with Phoenix against Kazimir. Still. Gabriel's head tips to the side in a cynical kind of gesture, eyes narrowing. There's a shimmer of anger, there, a warning clench to his jaw, as if maybe the young man and his friends had coerced the girls into it, but that's a conclusion he's not sure he wants to choke out of Teo, necessarily.

Maybe later.

Cat is put under his critical gaze, now, even as Teo's words circle within his head like wary scavenger animals unsure if what's being presented is nourishment or bait. "I didn't say I wanted to do anything," he corrects her, voice both smooth and rasping, and always low, clipping harshly at the pointier consonants.

More silence, regarding all three. Then, "You know what hell there'll be to pay if this goes anything like Primatech. There won't be a second chance for any of you." It's almost giving as an apologetic warning. Sorry, I'll have to kill you, you know how it is.

This is the part where Teo feels his newness a lot. Primatech. What? What. Before his time, self-evidently; he's heard of this, but failed to glean its significance relating to Sylar himself. He refrains from looking overly confused, though there's a faint tilt of perplexity to his head, dispelled with a slight shake of it.

"You your end, us ours. It would be understood this time." Teo had nearly said it will, but that seemed like a hasty assumption to make. "If anyone fucks it up, it won't be Phoenix."

He is not entirely unaware that Gabriel might not take kindly to him holding his friends' hostage on the noose of their honor and consciences, but that's a thing that happens when you have friends who have honor and consciences. He shifts his weight onto his left leg, easing a cramp stiffening in the other knee.

"I understand well enough, Mr. Gray, that if you feel you need to defend against us, you will, and do so in the most effective manner at your disposal," Cat replies. She could say they would also, but that seems hardly necessary. Gabriel isn't stupid. He knows there are people in the mix who would gladly kill him as soon as look at him, there's so much history between him and Peter, him and Claire, him and Hiro. An image pops into her mind, a snippet from the conversation with Claire earlier.

March 25, 2009, less than twenty-four hours earlier, in her penthouse atop the Village Renaissance Building.

She's standing before a table with photos of Moab on it, Claire is seated with a glass of rum and coke.

Then Cat's eyes close, and she draws in a deep, slow breath before speaking again. "There's more, and this you definitely won't like," she remarks gravely. "Hiro will tell you about this too. I only learned about it last night." Oh god.

Green-blue eyes squint faintly at Cat as she speaks. "I find it's best to just spit it out when it comes to sharing important information. It's easier to ask for details than guess at what you want." Claire is sure she isn't going to like what she's about to hear, but she's equally sure that she needs to hear it, and so she waits patiently, sipping from the drink poured for her, finally.

"The Moab operation is big. We need as much help as we can get," Cat begins. "It's been suggested, but not by me, that we get assistance from Gabriel Gray." And it's out there. Cat waits for the explosion.

Claire actually chokes on the sip she was beginning to swallow. After a moment of coughing and sputtering to clear her throat, she stands up, already in a rage. "What?!" That's an interrobang, folks. She is Not Happy. "You want to ask Sylar for help? Do I have to remind you that he wants to open my head like a can of SpaghettiOs and take my ability? What makes you think he won't just turn around and start killing our allies?"

That's an easy statement to make a snide remark at. If anyone fucks up it won't be Phoenix. Gabriel even allows the corner of his mouth to twitch up, but perhaps there's too much to think about than to be mean about Teo's band of merry men. All of this, it's not without merit. This would be easier if it was. Varied reasons to agree, if all of them small ones, not necessary on there own, but on the other hand… he does like breaking the things that don't deserve fixing.

"I'll talk to Gillian." Not a yes, not a no. More a he'll think about it, if anything. As far Gabriel's concerned, meeting adjourned. The rubble crunches under his heel when he turns on it to move away, rather confidently displaying his back to at least two armed freedom fighters - but not with the ignorance of Tavisha, just the confidence of Sylar. "You know how to find me," is the final reminder, tossed over his shoulder towards Teo, as he goes.

"I do." Teo inclines his head despite that Gabriel doesn't— as far as he knows— have eyes on the back of his head. Tilting it back on axis, he lets his expression drain, though he's prudent enough to keep watery-kneed relief out or scrub at his eyes. Could've been worse. Could've been a straight-up no. He doesn't flip out when Gabriel turns his back. Instead, he turns his head to check that Kinson and Cat are doing okay.

Yep. Shifting his eyes back, Teo raises his voice slightly, despite being well-aware he doesn't need to, politeness' sake: "I'll do it soon." Mind you, Teodoro doesn't particularly relish the idea of nagging the erstwhile serial-killer, but time stops for no man but Hiro Nakamura, and not even he is going to be doing this alone.

He turns down the opposite stretch of street. Fragmented asphalt tips and skitters away under the brunt of his tread. The motion of his hand for both his companions is nothing short of inviting, and polite besides. "'M fucking starving. What do you two feel like?"

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