To The Future


arthur_icon.gif sabra_icon.gif

With an appearance by…


Scene Title To The Future
Synopsis Old friends commiserate over their regret at being present enemies.
Date May 28, 2009

Calvary Cemetery

In a sea of headstones, grave markers and mausoleums that inter roughly three million deceased, the backdrop of Calvary Cemetery is a bleak one, even on a sunny day like today.

The sun sinks down into the smoldering and skeletal remnants of midtown Manhattan across the east river, creating stark black silhouettes like bony fingers grasping up at the orange and red skies to claim the purple hued clouds. Amidst the sets of mismatched grave markers, a pair of unassuming people stand in quiet vigil over one unremarkable headstone. White and blonde hair stand complementary to one another, his dark and pressed suit, her light colored shawl over her shoulders. To any casual observer, they could be a grandmother and grandson paying respects to a father long since gone.

Save that the real progeny of the man whose grave this marks are not the ones here today. Sabra Dalton and her erstwhile companion Ashton have different roles to play. Gathered around the single gravestone as they are, the arrival of a third party into Calvary Cemetery isn't wholly unexpected, it's more the lack of his arrival any time earlier that seems to have been more unusual.

"I heard it was quite a ceremony…" Grass softens the sound of old leather shoes as they move across the space between two other headstones, approaching Sabra and her aide from one side. "Sorry I couldn't be there," Arthur Petrelli manages a hesitant smile at those words, dark brows furrowed and hands tucked casually into the pockets of dark slacks, "mostly sorry."

As he begins to close the distance between Sabra and Ashton, his eyes wander to the headstone, and his own name etched in the marble. The words loving father make staring down at it all the more difficult. "I'm sorry I didn't come sooner," he admits, "but the three year anniversary of my funeral…" Arthur turns his focus back to the headstone, shoulders rising into a helpless shrug as his eyes fall shut, "I figured you might be here."

More like elderly mother and adult son than grandmother and grandson; Ashton is not young, simply some twenty years younger than she. Sabra Dalton does not turn around at the approach of their unannounced guest; the guest of honor, in a sense. Her aide does, a small line furrowing his brow as he regards Arthur Petrelli. His expression, however, is difficult at best to read; hard to tell whether he's disapproving or merely cautious.

"A reasonable guess, if not as sound as it might seem," Sabra replies. She has no difficulty with looking at the inscription on the tombstone; looks down at it rather than at the new arrival, Ashton in her peripheral view. "I prefer my memories to the symbolism of the grave."

Now the diminutive lady turns, a graceful motion, looking up at Arthur with a small, pleasant smile. "But I'm certain there was nothing so haphazard as a guess involved, in truth.

"Tell me, Arthur, is it the past that brings you here, or the present?"

The smile Arthur wears is a bittersweet one, a smile that means I wish it were one, but it's clearly the other. He moves up to stand at Sabra's unoccupied side, hands tucked into the pockets of his slacks. His sigh is the first sign that his answer isn't going to be the one she wants to hear; Sabra's known Arthur long enough to remember that tell. "I was hoping we could have a meeting that didn't drag work into it," his gaze shifts across Sabra to Ashton, then back to the white-haired woman, "but I think we both know how unrealistic that hope is."

Looking down to his own name on the tombstone, there's a restless quality to Arthur's eyes. His brows knit into a look of thoughtful consideration, one that accompanies a protracted moment of silence. Finally, Arthur turns to look from the grave to Sabra. "I don't know how it came to be, that you and I — of all people — ended up on the opposite sides of the fence. I know we're both too strong in our convictions to… change," his head bobs with that word, "but I wanted to tell you, that of everyone in the Company, you're the sole individual I never wanted harm to come to."

The older woman smiles, the crinkle of her face genial and pleasant, but Arthur knows that particular glint in her eyes. The one that has more in common with steel than velvet. "Arthur, you know exactly how it came to be," she corrects him, in that familiar patient tone, one he hasn't heard in quite some time. "I told you before — bring me into the fold or find yourself another right hand. You chose, old friend. This— " A light wave of her hand indicates the three of them; she refers not to the false grave, but to their meeting, their opposition. "— this is but the consequence of your choice."

A disquieted nod comes from Arthur as his focus turns back down to the gravestone, "The sacrifices we have to make, in order to create a future that we see as fit." Dark brows furrow together, and it is all Arthur can do to offer another nod to futility. "People in my office have been chomping at the bit to get to you, Sabra. You've made quite the impression on them…" One of Arthur's hands comes out of his pocket, lifting up to scratch at the side of his face. "Adam Monroe in particular…"

It's not so much that Arthur is warning Sabra, he knows full well that she can take care of herself better than anyone. It's not a warning, but an offer, a place to start and a head painted with a large bull's eye. "You had to have known, when Kaito died. I've had to lay in the same bed as murderers and madmen in order to do this work without Angela knowing it was coming, or worse…"

Allowing a slouch, Arthur looks back up to her, offering that hand out with palm upturned. "Come on… let's go for a walk," his eyes lift up to regard Ashton, in so much as to not invite him along. "One last time, I think we've both earned it."

Or a distraction, misdirection. Arthur knows better than to think Sabra will do more than file the information away for consideration. "It is always good to know one's work is… appreciated," she remarks with an amiable smile. Her hand is placed in his with delicate grace, without hesitation; to call it an act of trust would be a lie. Say rather confidence, self-assurance, proud dignity. He was, once, a friend and more than a friend; the next best thing to family.

Sabra's free hand signs an abbreviated gesture. Ashton makes no outward sign that he even saw it, but remains beside the tombstone as they begin to walk. At least for now. To truly part Sabra from her shadow is no mean feat; not twenty years ago, nor ten, nor now would she leave Ashton behind, nor he allow her to do so.

Trust of the nature shared between Arthur and Sabra is something not commonly held among even close friends. Which, after a fashion, makes it the root of the thorn in both their paws, that Arthur seemingly did not trust Sabra enough to involve her in everything he's started. "I wanted to apologize, but I know those words aren't going to come with the acceptance I hoped for. The choices I've made — my death, Pinehearst — I don't want you to be resentful for not being included." Arthur's used to the distance of Sabra's shadow at this point, his remote presence like a familiar smell or a familiar song, making it more like the old days.

"If I had my way, you wouldn't be involved on the Company's side of this either. Robert would be in charge, and you'd be weathering the storm in Europe over a cup of tea." Rubbing one hand at the side of his head, Arthur closes his eyes and hesitates in their walk, his other hand still gently holding hers. "I know our conversations… they've more than often ended up in me apologizing, profusely, for things neither of us really have any control over." There's a wry quality to the smile he affords his old friend, "We're just full of could have been's in our history, aren't we?"

"Never resentful, Arthur," Sabra corrects. "I believe the proper term would be… disappointed." She pauses as he does, manner graceful and decorous, with perfect aplomb; one would think she has chats with dead friends and living nemeses every day. Utterly unlike said friend and nemesis, in his hesitation, his rueful regret. "Regrets are a luxury you cannot afford," Arthur's erstwhile advisor points out, blue gaze level upon his face. Then she smiles, wrinkles deepening as the amiable expression spreads slowly across her face. "Unless you are prepared to concede the field already, old friend."

There's something of a surprised smile from Arthur, eyes closing as his head tilts down towards the ground, walking pace faltering. "You know me better than that, I'm afraid." When he looks up again, there's uncertainty in his eyes, matched by the hesitant cadence to his speech. "I'm— It's a complicated game, the one the two of us are playing. I can't concede it, I can't even give a budge from my position." His hand finally slips from Sabra's, fingers unwinding from hers as his eyes turn out over the field of headstones.

"Part of me wishes I hadn't survived what Angela did to me," he doesn't look back, not yet. "But I did, and I'm here, and you know as well as I do that once the two of us become settled in our convictions, there's little that can move us from them." Brows crease together, and when Arthur does look upon Sabra again, it's with saddened eyes. "Fate keeps conspiring to ensure that you and I never have much time together, conspires to put one wedge after another in our way— and I'm guilty enough of letting it. Angela, the Company, Shanti…" His eyes fall shut slowly, hands winding their way to the pockets of his slacks, following the stiff motion of a shrug.

"I guess that's how things fall apart," Arthur notes with a touch of uncharacteristic whimsy, "I just wanted you to know that what comes next— none of it— is personal." It never is, but the saying of it has importance, to admitting of it to himself. "We're both going to try and build the future we think is best, for each of us." His lips creep up into a faint, if not somewhat rueful smile. "I don't take it you're willing to concede the field?" Delivered entirely in jest, perhaps the last smirking comment he will be able to make to her.

Sabra pauses as well, watching her companion rather than looking at the cemetery. It doesn't change so much, doesn't hold much for her. "Everything is personal, Arthur," she disagrees, corrects, however mildly. "Even — perhaps especially — when you wish it was not." Folding her hands before her, the woman takes a step back, face crinkling in an amused smile. "I do not confuse check with checkmate. Neither, after all these years, should you — and I will concede in no lesser circumstance." Lighthearted in tone and timbre, and yet not; underneath the velvet jest lies steel resolve.

"I should expect no less from you, Sabra." Not sarcastic, not even a backhanded compliment, from Arthur it always did ring true. His eyes fall shut, head bows, and eventually his hands find their way to the pockets of his slacks. "I don't know if you and I will see each other again, Sabra. I know if we do, it won't be under these circumstances…" His blue eyes uplift to Ashton in the distance, then finally back to Sabra, perhaps for the last time.

"You and I, probably would have worked." There's a lightness to his voice, but at the same time a somber hint, "I hope what future we each make on our own is half as good as that."

The elderly woman laughs, face crinkling in a genial smile, honest for all that there is an edge of amusement at his expense. "'You and I', Arthur dear, would never have worked. Which is why it never happened." One hand reaches up to gently pat his cheek. Then she steps back, clasping her hands loosely, and smiles once more; the expression is smaller, subtler, but decidedly present. "To the future," Sabra affirms, inclining her head.

She turns away from past friend, present enemy; walks over to rejoin the man who serves her much as she once served Arthur. Calls back, without looking: "May the better side win."

Previously in this storyline…
The Bigger Picture

Next in this storyline…
Anyone Talked to You About Pinehearst?

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