edward_icon.gif ghost2_icon.gif

Scene Title Tsk
Synopsis Ghost and Edward finally sit down to confer about the troupe of various sociopaths and time-traveling flotsam that need dealing with.
Date June 17, 2009

Staten IslandThe Happy Dagger

This building used to be a dance club a decade or more ago, and was later outfitted into a strip bar up until the bomb hit New York City and Staten Island became a refuge of the panicked people of New York City. After this neighborhood fell to ruin, the strip bar went out of business and was sold easily to a young man from Britain with similar but less legitimate intentions for the place. And so it became The Happy Dagger, a brothel that makes no claim to be otherwise, and a bright spot on a street with similar venues, lit up with lights of pink, red and orange, with a neon sign in cursive print reading its name.

Two strapping bouncers allow people through after a quick identity check, down a dark corridor wherein people seem to move in and out continually. The front room is crowded, more nightclub than brothel. There's a bar in the corner, and stages of different shapes and heights create obstacles, along with a quieter lounge area separated only by saloon style doors. Women dance aloofly or mingle with the clientele, marked as employees of the Happy Dagger by their costuming. There is a Middle Eastern bent in style, with warm colours and lights, women with Cleopatra eyes, wearing more silks than sequins, decked in Hollywood-exotic stage jewelry. The insincerity of this place is palpable. There's spiral staircase at the other end of the large area, a structure swathed in red light and eye-catching.

Upstairs is a catacomb of dark hallways and bedrooms of various sizes. It seems less like a strip club and more like the brothel it boasts to be, with more elaborate interior design. Curtains of silk and chiffon, incense making the air hazy, the walls papered with golds and reds. Women linger in the hallways to catch the strays who come up here alone and guide them to appropriate rooms.

Breaking the illusion of decadence is the occasional security camera hidden in the corner. This place is not without it's safety measures, beyond the bouncers. You may also notice that the man enjoying a drink in the corner hasn't gotten up in a while, and another prowling around outside hasn't moved from this street. The security is kept discreet and unobtrusive, but it certainly is there.

Teeth crack through the crisp flesh of an apple, wrenching white cells away and out from underneath thin red skin. Ghost mashes apple between his molars, swallows the sucrose sweetness and wipes his mouth with the flat of his thumb a few seconds before two of the girls come past, giggling before they grate to silence, peeking at him, and then scat on a skitter of stiletto heels that Swisses the dense hallway carpet full of tiny holes.

Seven PM, and they're heading downstairs to start the evening's dance shift. Ghost watches them go, his expression set in stony serenity, a bodhisattva with a fruit misappropriated out of another mythology regarding the sonorous swing of beads shimmering down on the skimpy lace of decoration that passes for a top. He looks at his cellphone, counts the hours between now and the last time the camera guys saw Doctor Ray in his coincidentally surveilled bedroom.

Enough, he decides. Setting his teeth into the rim of the remaining half of the core, he frees up enough of his hand to make a fist, politely, and knock. Thrice, sharply, before he pulls the fruit out of his jaws again and squares his boots on the carpet. The ghost straightens his shoulders and picks at the cuff of his jacket as if that might alleviate the slow-spooling soreness residual in the arm encased underneath. He hoods his eyes slightly and listens to Teo say nothing and the distant grumble of maid staff trundling their cart along on the floor above his head.

You'd think the floors would be thicker here, honestly.

You'd think that for so many valid reasons.

When a tired-looking Edward Ray shambles up the stairs, it's with a liberal measure of effort on his part. Leaning on the railing, he still carries himself with a noticable limp in his right leg, one that hasn't seemingly recovered since the escapre from Pinehearst. There's, admittedly, a little bit of a cat that swallowed the canary look on Edward's surprisingly expressive face, dark circles around his eyes not withstanding.

"You're looking chipper," he notes with a deadpan delivery, making his way up the last couple of steps into the hallway. There's no explanation from Edward about where he's been, what he's been doing, or why he left, just one snide remark about Ghost's condition.

"I take it this is where I'm told I'm not supposed to be home before midnight and not to talk to any strange boys?" One thin brow rises, and while Edward's tone is sarcastic, his words are all together humorless. Being a prisoner on more than one occasion has siphoned much of his formerly dry humor from him and left it somewhat flat.

"I figure you can handle yourself in a fight. Rape, whatever," Ghost says, swiveling his head on its axis. The rectangular plank of door and stretch of hallway swing out of his field of vision, snap into place as he locates the origin of Edward's weaselly little remarks where Edward is standing. "You look like—" Manners long since encoded deep into his mind refuse to buge; he doesn't finish that sentence because he doesn't happen to know the physics professor well enough. A line grooves in around the edge of his nose, wrinkled slightly in irritated self-reflection.

Turning on one boot heel, the ghost comes up toward the man, the apple core now swinging from the skinny curl of stem pinched between forefinger and thumb. "If I buy you coffee or something, will you talk to me?" He bends his mouth around a smile, cranes his head to look down the red velvet cake concatenation of stairs that Edward had just mountaineered with his gimp leg and all.

"It's hard to get good sleep in a brothel when the walls are this thin." Edward notes as he pinches two fingers together, "It's a small wonder this place hasn't burst into flames, being made of balsa-wood as it seems to be." There's a sidelong stare given to one of the doors in the hall, but his focus is quick to turn back to Ghost after the fact.

"I was waiting for you to be ready to talk. There's…" Edward's head pitches to one side, "I think we have a lot to talk about." He motions with one hand downstairs, "As much as I'd hate to limp down the steps again, I'd rather sit when we converse. Unless you have a worry that a few hookers and a john are going to overhear us."

Yes. No. Maybe? Ghost's brow furrows and his pupils adjust fractionally, refocusing on some point well beyond the landing at the base of the stairs, either simply thinking very hard in immense perpendicular defiance to his natural state of blond or winging further afield with greater perspicience than only the organs rooted into the sockets of his face can offer.

He snaps out of that with a blink, flattens his mouth into an expression that's somewhere between a grateful smile and a scowl of token resistance. "I think so too.

"Like, why your old boy's trying to fucking kill you, and you're bringing a little plastic club to a fucking gunfight." That— bears somewhat greater resemblence to scolding about curfew and speaking to dubious young men, but lacks even the deficient humor of Edward's wry attempt. He alights onto a step, swiveling an eye after the old man, his brow seizing downward slightly. On the brink of saying something, he— doesn't. Continues downward, heel thudding carpet again, into the thickening soup of neon, subwoofer bassline and cheaply spiced deodorant and garish upholstery.

Edward arches a brow and looks directly at Ghost with that statement of his, wry as it is. There's a modicum of surprise on Edward's face, he hadn't forseen being eavesdropped on in that particular encounter, but at the same time he had far more pressing matters to focus on. "It wasn't my baton, well— it was but— you know what I mean. It was a wild guess, to be truthful. I know what pocket I used to keep mine in, so—' there's a bit of a shrug, no suggestion as to the why of that entire predicament.

Not, at least, until they've made their way downstairs, beneath the rythmic thump of dryms and the matching motions of a female silhouette contained from scandalous appearance behind a thin and gausy curtain of sheer fabric. Edward navigates thorugh the crowd in a way Teo's seen before, that lack of faltering seen in Tamara's wayward strides — though Edward now spots a limp that throws off his smooth rythm. He finds a booth, one near the dancefloor, and tucks himself into a seat with a fair view of the stage.

"If you're wondering why he wants me dead, your guess is — honestly — as good as mine. I can't predict what he's going to do, at all, I can only see the eddies and currents in events that his choices make. But— poetically — I've turned out to be my own worst enemy."

Waving off a waitress who'd come over to offer drinks, Edward seems to be preferring to keep a level head with his painful lack of sleep. "If you want me to try and get inside of his head, you aren't going to like the hypotheticals. I think, for now, it will be safer to stick with what we can do and what we can effect. Unless you were planning on just staying here and sipping mixed drinks until this all blows over."

Slotting himself in at the other side of the booth, Ghost drops himself down, wilts backward against the ridiculous curvature of the seat. His knees skew out, more lazy than strictly speaking slovenly. He sets his shoulder at an oblique angle, turns the corners of his mouth up at the waitress and shakes his head to corroborate that answer. "He seems to think one of you has to die. Otherwise— I don't know, some great metaphysical paradox will lead to unutterable calamity? Or he was just trying to convince me to shoot you in the head myself. I don't know.

"I'm not sure he expected me to do this." It's with obvious and considerable reluctance that the ghost makes this assertion; it leaves a bad taste in his mouth, biled uncertainty, the uncomfortable paranoia of playing high stakes when overmatched. Maybe Edward does know. Saw through Teo's face, to his polluted core, somehow accounted for changed faces and unlikely new employment. Maybe Allen Rickham's due to crash the Dagger in seconds, iron fists swinging—?

Remaining unpredictable is a tall order against Doctor Edward Ray, even if you are crazy like a fox. "I'm not. You probably already know my stake in this shit," Ghost hedges, at length. He tosses the scrap of fruit across the table, and it rolls, tracking morseled sugar juice across the way. "What's yours?"

"Mine?" Edward cracks a smile, awkward and nervous as it is, "My stake in this is the same as it was when I ordered Flint Deckard on a near suicide mission. I want what's best. To be honest I'm not sure if I should be on my own side or not, but looking at the repercussions of his actions, I'm leaning heavily towards not." Edward's brows furrow, blue eyes diverting down to the table top. For all of the bared flesh gyrating on the dancefloor, he seems largely unaffected by it, as if it's not even there. "What I need, is information."

Upturning his eyes towards Teo, there's scrutiny in Edward's stare. "What I need to know first, is about this John character. When I was dropped down in the Company's holding facility after a failed attempt on Nathan Petrelli's life," a lesson brutally well learned, "there was a man they called John Doe in the cell adjacent to me. He's, largely, the spitting image of this older man. I need to know what he does, and why Edw— why he might feel compelled to keep him around."

In the meantime, the Sicilian is giving the stage kittens a shoulder and utterly distracted by the conversation at hand. Flesh has become altogether too disposable to his thinking these days, however lucrative or otherwise entertaining its past-times can be. His fingers curl in on themselves, grating the heel of his hand with bluntly shorn nails, a pensive sort of fidget. "His name is Tyler Case. He has the ability to swap, give, and remove Evolved abilities from human beings. At this point, he seems to be— amnesiac, or some shit.

"Apparently because of the Company. He's been running around and douching over a lot of people that I know. Gabriel and Gillian are two of them. Abigail's another— Felix Ivanov, you might remember. A woman who used to work here, Bij— Bebe. Flint Deckard, whose life you were generous enough to gamble then." Criticism? Surely not. It's been a deep and poisoned sea that's swallowed up the bridges under which many of the ghost's old grudges once flowed, however, and the one he for Edward on the old grave-robber's behalf is for the moment as expendable as he'd regarded his original body.

"He seems to think he's out for the betterment of the world at large, too. I don't know why he assumes you two couldn't work out some kind of agreement, even if you can't base preternatural predictions each other."

"If I had to make a gamble on this," and it's clear from Edward's tone he doesn't want to," I'm somehow more valuable to him dead than alive. I'm not certain what good there is in there being one less of me in the world, outside of certain cynical notions." Hands are folded on the table, and Edward leans forward, voice taking on a conspiratorial tone. "Given his close playing of John and use of his ability, I'd hazard to guess that he's going to make an attempt on the other Tyler Case. Either— " Edward's head tilts to one side, "no, not killing him. Something— I don't know, alive. It's hard to get a clear idea of what he's going to try."

Exhaling a sigh, Edward move shis focus down to the wood grain of the table, fingers laced together, mouth resting on the back of his hands. "What you need to do, is figure out his angle with the people he brought back. I saw— Allen Rickham where I was, and I'm assuming you know everyone. He would— I would have hand picked those people. There wouldn't be anything done by sheer coincidence or opportunity. Once you figure out that— the who then you can start piecing together the why. If his goal is changing the future, and if nothing's changed with my philosophy on time-travel, he's going to be attempting something massive, something bigger than just some ability swapping."

Biting down on his lower lip, Edward stares across the table and slowly closes his eyes. "Something monumental, Teo, something Shanti sized. He just isn't letting anyone see his hand yet."

This warrants a good deal of squinting skepticism, which the ghost wears particularly well now that he doesn't look Italian. Silence. He is touched by the myopic fatigue that closes Edward's ordinarily round eyes, the distinct absence of the other Edward's irritated hauteur; finds himself absentmindedly hanging the two Rays' portraits beside one another, comparing the lines. Not only the marks of age but the twitching musculature that implies temperament, equilibrium, worry; its lack. "They were all prisoners at the Moab Federal Penitentiary of 2019. Ray, who stayed at Pinehearst in the exact same accommodation you did but— I think, longer.

"Doe, who's gormless as an aneurysmed child. Some— April Bradley, Company agent. A technopath who Wireless is handling, a murderer who can create replicants of himself out of raw electricity, and Eric Doyle, a puppeteer of some notoriety. I figure— maybe his grandiose altruism aside, they're out for freedom and vengeance because— that would be the obvious conclusions. I seriously doubt any of them are going to explain more than that to me if I just walk up and ask them.

"I don't exactly have my adorable puppy face to woo them with anymore." Edward will have to forgive him if Ghost sounds separately put out by that. He isn't used to the thing fixed to the front of his skull. "If he's anything like you, he wouldn'tve fucking told them his angle anyway.

"Not to be pessimistic or anything." Ghost's voice gravels to a halt. He regards Edward as a morally indifferent vegetarian might a lobster climbing out of an unlit pot, certain of its relevance, somehow, but not— what to do, whether to call someone, to volunteer assistance or look on in macabre fascination. Slowly, hopefully, he inserts, "…I'd rather fuck with Arthur?"

Brows rising slowly, Edward casts a sidelong gaze towards Teo as his focus shifts out to someone coming in thorugh the front door. "If I were you I'd punch my plastic surgeon," his lips creep up into a reluctant smirk. "It's not who these people are that you need to concern yourself with, Teo. It's who they were," one hand raises, motioning to an unseen point in the ether, "respectively, that is. If— I I brought them back to this time, it was not because of the abilities or personalities they had in whatever year they came from, but who they are in the present. Playing on the manipulation of family, friends — whatever it takes. I can tell— I've seen— just how morally bankrupt I've become. I've made hard decisions before, but never without any sense of remorse. I feel for the people that have passed."

Looking away from the man who entered, Edward focuses his attention back on Teo wholly. "I knew Conrad Wozniak would have to die if he went to the Consolidated Edison power plant. I knew it, and I sent him regardless, because the chance of suceess any other way was simply too small. Pragmatic— yes. Heartless— no. That is what is required of a leader, to be able to make the hard decisions, but also be able to retain his humanity and conscience." At that, Edward's brows furrow, and he watches Teo carefully, "I think that's a lesson you should consider strongly."

"You don't look like you feel a fucking thing. You never look like you feel like a fucking thing," Teo clarifies, lowering his eyebrow back down from the flat aversion that the remark about his less than utterly gorgeous new face had elicited, but already his gaze is elsewhere, marching the floor, twining between the delicate dagger heels of the women on the stage, looking but failing entirely to perceive. He has heard these words before.

Not long ago. Defensive, in that egocentric way that a man is when he's lost his mind after an overdose of tragedy. "You're not a leader, anyway. You come and go as you please, answer to nobody I've ever seen.

"I can try. I can tell Helena to try, too. Or whomever the fuck she's working with at the moment," Ghost says, flattening his hand on the top of the bar. His knuckles have remained the same. Round calluses, small scars notching his fingers. Joints bend into acute angles, making a fist, releasing it, stretching small muscles and sinews. "Do you know who I am?"

"You're Teodoro Laudani," Edward notes rather off-handedly, "one way or another that fits the bill. I have an inkling of what you are, but to be absolutely honest it doesn't concern me one way or another if my hypothesis is true. I think, at the core, you're still the same young man I met months ago, and you still have the same sensibilities. You've just buried them under the weight of so much misplaced guilt for something you can change but something that you can never wholly dull the pain of." Blue eyes drift away from Teo, focus fading, "In that, I can sympathize with you… but our own personal problems?" Edward sharply look back to the flesh-masked Sicillian, "none of that matters. The people who are trying to subvert the timeline with no small amount of blood are who matters."

"For whatever reason, these people are important to me— him." The association of past and present-tense is grating on Edward. "It is my firm belief that what he's doing is attempting to cause as much havok in this timeline as possible, in order to engender a rift between this time and the possible future he hails from. He wants to create a divide so wholly different from his own future, that he could not even be sent back forcibly. He wants that timeline to be so divested from our own that it becomes impossible to reach…" but there, Edward exhales a sigh. "Let's… not get into superstring theory and multiple worlds, not— just yet."

Reaching into his jacket pocket, Edward retreives a pen, beginning to scribble what looks like a flow-chart on the back of a napkin on the table. It starts with Arthur's name drawn in a circle. "Arthur Petrelli wants to create a Formula designed to grant special abilities to normal humans." He draws another circle, entitled the formula. "In order to do this, he has four chief researchers leading a staff of roughly two hundred." Around the formula, four names are written in circles: Mason Chesterfield, Jennifer Chesterfield, Alison Meier, and Lewis Zimmerman. "Of these four rsearchers…" he draws a connecting line between the Chesterfields and branches off a new line from that like a Y towards a new circle, listed as Me.

"The Chesterfields came to me after Arthur had be put into a medicated coma, and asked me how to help them stop Arthur. I explained to them once my head cleared, that an opportunity would be arising once Sylar — " it's obvious he doesn't know Gabriel's real name, or chooses not to call him by it, " — came to Pinehearst. I also informed Mason Chesterfield that a woman would be contact him with information regarding the Company and Pinehearst, and to meet with her regardless of his suspicions. Minea Dahl," Edward writes her name down and connects it to Mason, "You might remember her from the end of the world." Scribbling another circle, Edward writes down the name Delphine Kuhr. "Arthur was experimenting on this woman," a line is drawn from her to Arthur, "he wanted her ability— one he claimed could undo all of the disastrous damage done to Midtown," Edward's brows rise up slowly, "as a part of something he called the Garden of Eden Project." That is listed near Delphine's name, linked to Arthur and Delphine. "Apparently, Arthur attempts to curry favor with a large portion of the government by repairing the damage of midtown and developing a formula to enhance the national military." Edward keeps circling Arthur's name in pen.

"It's a tangled web of coincidences, as you can already see. Now, here's where it gets really complicated." Edward draws a line between he and Arthur. "I reached out to Arthur after having escaped from, er, myself. I had hoped to bridge the gap between Arthur and I and work from the inside with him. Unfortunately, my ploy to try and garner his favor was about as transparent as a sheet of plastic, and he had me locked away. Notably, though, he did not steal my ability nor Delphine's for himself," a question mark is drawn next to Arthur. "Why?" Edward looks up to Teo, one brow raised.

"That answer, I feel, may rest with the nature of Arthur's very ability. Why test on Delphine when he could steal the ability for himself and use it. Why not take mine? I think that, there is the weakness you are looking for." Lastly, Edward draws a circle on the paper, and writes down the name Tyler Case. "And this, Mister Laudani," the pen taps down on the name, "this is the missing link between them all, I feel. Because right now, I can tell you, both halves of Tyler Case are the key to all of this. I— just don't know why or how."

Distantly, Teo wonders if Edward's ability extends to finding the proper nails to hit on the head in conversation. Probably not: his older analogue hadn't seemed particularly susceptible to telling him what he wants to hear, or even making him feel particularly uncomfortable with the incisive clarity of his insights. This one is different. Fortunately there are black penned bubbles being scrawled out across square napkins that Ghost can pay more attention to, and soon enough, his mind is ravening after the straws offered out to him in child's-play diagrams and the seductive promise of tactical advantage.

Personal problems. Makes problem-solving uniquely personal as well, and there's a predatory light behind his eyes as he glances up from the napkin, studies Edward's face for the umpteenth time. Less suspicion, this time; higher expectation. "What do you need? The Company's research on Tyler Case on letter-sized paper, or a word with his older analogue? I don't know what his weakness is— and believe me, I've looked. In the time I come from—" he even forgets situational paranoia until that last syllable trips his lip. Glances over his shoulder, scowling, rifling the area for eavesdroppers with a brief round of psychic inquest, before he looks at Edward again.

"He has Delphine's ability. But not, I think— never yours. If there's a side-effect to whatever makes your head tick, signor, I'd love to hear about it now."

One eyebrow raises as Edward considers the information Teodoro lends his way by means of cnspiratorial murmuring. His eyes wander aside, viewing the napkin with a furrowed brow. "If he took it then, but not now… I'm not sure. There's— without seeing what links point A to point C, the most logical answer is that he was wary of control of the ability, and something allowed him to gain that." Rolling his tongue across the inside of his cheek, Edward's eyes unfocus more than they already are, and he seems to be staring off at some distant point in space for more than a few moments.

"What I need," he snaps back to with a few blinks of his eyes, "is exactly what my counterpart has. Find out whatever you can about his associates— the time-spanned ones, and let me know if they have any personal connections. Living family, loved ones, whatever you can. If my older self can use those Achilles' heels in order to rein them in, than it's possible you and I could as well."

Then, with a moment more thought, Edward puffs out his cheeks with a tired sigh. "I could also, probably, use a better place to conduct some hypothetical and map out the associations that Arthur and my counterpart have started making. One that preferable doesn't keep me up to all hours of the night with salacious noises?"

Doable, Ghost thinks; between himself and Hana, they could fill this request. They have the skills and tools, know enough of the right people. The connection between Edward's request and the desired final destination marked in bold red X on Arthur's head is too oblique for Teodoro to understand, of course, a meandering progression of stepping stones that fades into a misted distance of dark water. Tension coils in his shoulders and his hands, something like impatience picking veins out in the tightened cut of his jaw. "He said he could keep them alive. Phoenix.

"That others might have to die to make this so," Ghost acknowledges, his shoulder listing up under his left ear, a restless penduluming of weight like a drowsy predatory making sense of its own stance in tall grass, "but he'd fucking do it. Where do you come down on that argument?" Change of address could not conceivably be out of Teodoro Laudani's powers of resource— in any incarnation of himself. One is less to imagine that he is either distracted or churlishly withholding.

It's a toss-up, which.

Once more, Edward lets a thin brow rise up in question, leaning back to fold his hands behind his head. His brows tense together, followed by a subtle shake of his head, "You're asking me the one thing I can never truly see the outcome of— my own future." Blue eyes tilt towards Teo, one brow still raised. "Entirely hypothetical… I'd say if anyone had the ability to keep Phoenix alive, my money would rest on him. But— " there's always a but, "the question of whether or not he will entirely depends on what variable Phoenix fills. If they're advantageous to what he wants to accomplish, than they'll live. If they're not, he won't give a second thought to murdering each and every one of them in order to change another variable, if that is what it takes."

Scrutinizing Teo again, Edward's next words could have perhaps been delivered with less ominous tone. "Likely, Teo, the death he means is you."

Less ominous? Yeah, maybe.

No, not really.

That is a bad joke, but one need not even appeal to Satoru's less than chipper tales of sniffling waterworks to know that a sociopath is wont to have an unappreciably deranged sense of humor, sometimes. "I'll find you a place. Won't be a problem. The cattle-rustlers probably won't mind pitching you a hand anyway— you fit roughly into their population. Long as you understand the basic rules of conduct." Which basically amounts to not fucking over anybody even after you go. Not something Ghost particularly entrusts Edward to, but—

By now, he has allowed himself to accept the thin hope that what Edward wants and what he wants overlap on something that may or may not actually approximate 'emotionally healthy.' Betraying helpless Evolved 'fugees and making enemies out of Noah Bennet and Hana Gitelman doesn't sound that emotionally healthy. Or physically healthy. Any kind of healthy. "I'll try to get it worked out by nightfall. That's interesting," he adds, after a moment. "It's like you'll tolerate him running around and trying to fucking kill you, at least up to a point, to see how it pans out.

"You that afraid of the unknown or are you playing at altruism again?"

To that, Edward manages a faint smile and folds his hands behind his head, leaning back against the bench seat of the booth. "I'll answer that once I figure it out for myself."


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