2007-02-16: Chapter One: Combustion - Bushido

Starring:

Clint_icon.gif Hiro_icon.gif Jack_icon.gif Orion_icon.gif Paige_icon.gif Sydney_icon.gif

Summary: A van crashes into Common Grounds, inciting mayhem and a desperate race to gather the van's cargo.

Date It Happened: February 16th, 2007

Chapter One: Combustion - Bushido


Common Grounds

Saturday evening at Common Grounds finds the cafe a busy place. In an effort to compete with the coffee giant known as 'Starbucks,' they're introducing a new line of drinks tonight - raspberry-flavoured lattes, smoothies, and hot chocolate. Exciting, right? The two-for-one promotion means that the place is busier than usual, with most of the seating already taken. People are about to have to start sitting with total strangers, if this keeps up.

When he ghosts through the door, it's obvious that Jack has seen better days. Completely tapped out by yesterday's violent events, he has finally emerged from his hiding place at the Den for a much-needed stretch and a cup of decent coffee. In an attempt to draw less attention, he has forgone his usual suit-and-tie attire in favor of loose blue jeans, white t-shirt, black peacoat, and scuffed work boots. One pocket of his coat bulges heavily, and a hand fiddles with something in the other. He tugs his black scarf a little higher beneath his chin and veers toward the counter to take his place in line. Despite his best attempts to appear nonchalant, Jack's face bears heavy, thoughtful creases across his brow and around the corners of his mouth.

Oh what a wonderful feeling…Clint is so happy right now. The woman he met the night before has him feeling lighter than air. It shows as he walks in, though he's suddenly stunned as he spots how insanely busy this place is, "Holy hell." He's dressed differently than usual today. Blue jeans, with a University of Florida hoodie and hat, and a pair of DC shoes. He puts his hands back into the hoodie's front pockets, and then puts himself in line. He'll just wait his turn. Stupid lines. He hates waiting.

A little odd for Orion, he notes to himself, to be here when they're introducing raspberry-flavored beverages that are an abomination before true raspberries and true beverages of their type. Well, smoothies are alright. Granger will concede raspberry smoothies as good. He's already here, sipping a raspberry smoothie while his plain hot chocolate cools down a bit, in his apparently standard issue business attire. Every so often he smiles to this person or that person passing him by, but he mostly spends his time sipping smoothie.

Most people might be here with others - which was the point, right, with the two-for-one thing? - but Paige? Not so much. Seated on the street level of the coffee shop, she's managed to find a table without patrons. There are no schoolbooks today, at least, but there are two small-sized drinks set right in front of her. With… no second person in sight. She's playing with the whipped cream on one of the drinks, her chin set in her hand, elbow propped against the table.

Sometimes it's just good to get out of the stuffy studio apartment that Sydney calls home, even if-like an overgrown lapcat-she prefers to spend her days off lounging around in the hazy state between wakefulness and dreaming. She sits at one of the tables closest to the door, kept alert by her half-finished cup of coffee and the biting chill of the February air nipping at her cheeks and the tip of her nose every time someone comes in or goes out. This may not be one of the most comfortable places to idle, but-at least for Sydney-it's one of the most productive. Sitting in her lap is a copy of Activating Evolution. Perhaps surprisingly, it isn't open; instead, it's being used as a makeshift surface against which to prop her sketchbook as she outlines what looks like a bird with slow, deliberate pencil strokes. She could use the table, sure, but that might mean getting coffee on her piece.

Japan. 1671.

"Whitebeard is defeated. It's over."

"Hiro! You've saved us all! You've saved Japan! Now… we can live together, and I will be… your Princess?"

"No. I'm sorry. That's not the way the story goes."

Somewhere - somewhen - else, Hiro Nakamura stands in a field of cherry blossoms, and, just as the Kensei legend dictates, tears out his own heart in order to save Japan. It's a picture-perfect last kiss. Within the blink of an eye, he's gone.

New York. Right now.

A short, rotund Japanese man with thick glasses, a kimono, and a sword winks into existence on the sidewalk outside of Common Grounds. Hopefully, there aren't any security cameras around. Both eyes are, as yet, clenched shut. One pops open, slowly, like a groundhog peeking out to spot his shadow. "Yatta?" he says, in a tiny, squeaky voice, and looks around. No ashes raining from the sky. No burnt-out husks of skyscrapers. No crazy derelicts wandering the streets. Well, maybe a couple crazy derelicts wandering the streets. A little 'I Love New York' bag rolling along-

"I love New York?" he repeats, to himself. "… I LOVE NEW YOOOOOOORK!" That's a scream. Hiro throws his arms up, before sprinting straight into the coffee shop. English, English-gotta remember your English. "Ah-um-excuse-me! What is this year?!" he asks, desperately, a thousand megawatt grin on his face.

As a sad side note, he smells like whatever they use to bathe yourself in Feudal Japan. Probably goat.

Unfortunately for our innocent bystanders, none of them but Hiro are outside to witness what happens next. There's a van stopped at a streetlight not two blocks away, with the driver and his companion singing along to something on the radio. It looks like it might be pop. The driver's tapping his hands on the steering wheel in an awfully jaunty way.

On the street corner, a woman with a scarf drawn around her face, obscuring everything from the nose down, looks to the van. Her brow twitches, her eyes narrowing in a glower. If they could see her mouth, they would see a wicked smirk develop.

In the hustle and bustle of busy New York City, things can go overlooked on the streets. One of those things is the cause of the sudden explosion across the hood of the van just after the light turns green. The driver and his passenger stop singing instantly, opting instead for screaming. The van tears down the street, the driver too scared to realize that it's his foot doing the accelerating and his hands doing the terrible, terrible steering.

There's another explosion, this one tearing a hole in the driver's side door. The man inside is unconscious or dead; it isn't clear which. What is clear is how the van careens straight into the front of Common Grounds, narrowly missing Hiro and his excitement as it turns on its side. Surprise!

Jack has only just begun to assimilate the sight of a katana-bearing, kimono-wearing Japanese man bursting in to ruin his coffee break when door, windows, and wall implode under the assault of the careening van. He has just enough time to make an extremely stupid face and mouth, "Oh sh-" before a jagged, arm-length shard of glass zings by and tears a shallow gash across his forearm.

Well. Clint may not have the power of precognition. But when a guy dressed like he's out of some anime comes barging into the coffee shop, it gets his attention. So he looks straight at Hiro. He really was just about to answer the man when his eyes shift to the van outside of the window, about to slam into the building. Instantly, his natural reactions kick in, and amidst the chaos of the van bursting into the building, Clint grabs ahold of the woman in line in front of him, and does his best to get her out of the way of the van. Once he pushes her clear, he vanishes from view, and reappears again on the other side of the van, thankfully unscathed..He hopes he pushed the woman far enough out of the way.

Trained as he has been, Orion Granger somehow seems to notice something is amiss… Or, perhaps, he is here because he was waiting for that very van to arrive. Perhaps he was expecting this. All of this to happen.

That, however, is not the case. Orion hears the squealing tires, the explosions, and, much more faintly, the screaming driver. He whisks himself out of his seat, leaving both his hot chocolate and his three-quarters completed smoothie behind in favor of sweeping his large frame into the way between the windows and many of the patrons of the Common Grounds.

Granger's eyes widen as he spies the van careening wildly and accelerating toward the window. Something barely has time to seep out of the flesh of his torso before glass, metal, masonry, and New York's semi-arctic air to explode into the warm, clean interior of the coffee haus. A half-second later, Orion is sailing backward across what little floor space there is, propelled by horrible van inertia impacting his suddenly clingy, tight-fitting dress shirt and overcoat.

Unless the van keeps coming, he's likely to skid to a stop half-way to the back wall of the java palace; slowed enormously by the legs of people, chairs, and tables alike.

Paige, too, was not expecting a flaming van to interrupt her nice evening out. She throws her arms up over her head, ducking to avoid the shower of glass that sails past; small shards land in her hair, nothing more. But it's close enough that someone's oh-so-graceful leap backwards knocks right into her table, and the motion tips over both of the drinks on her table, straight into her lap. Though there's stills team rising from the cups, she hardly notices, not even sparing a glance as she stumbles up out of her chair. With people streaming past her like mindless rats in flight, she's not entirely sure what she ought to be doing. People bump into her, but she stays where she is, casting swift glances around the cafe.

No time to dive for cover. No time to scream. No time to even think. In Sydney's ears is ringing, and in her hair are tiny pieces of glass and debris, some coated with a thin layer of blood. With the sudden surge of adrenaline pumping through her system, she can't be sure if it belongs to her-or some less fortunate bystander. Whatever happened, it happened so fast that her brain is still trying to process why she's on the floor and shielding her face with her arms. She's alive, though, and relatively unscathed-two facts that make the chaos all around her seem like it's so much further away. Her lips part and, though she cannot hear it above the din, she mouthes a long, wide curse of disbelief.

Hiro sprints inside just in time for everything to blow up. "<No!>" Hiro cries, ducking and covering and clenching his eyes shut just fast enough for everything to stop. The little Asian man opens his eyes to find-oh, good! It's not Peter Petrelli exploding.

It's just a van, flying through the wall. That's almost sane and normal, compared to what Hiro's been up to.

"-sorry," he says, with a hero's regret - to Orion, who is frozen in time amidst floating shards of glass, hit head on by the van. There's no way he could survive. "I was not fast enough." He bows, briefly, but there's work to be done - he's learned, the hard way, to hold off on crying over his failures until later.

To the external viewer? Amidst the chaos, Hiro disappears, and several poorly placed bystanders find themselves moved, like statue-people, out of the way. Hiro winks back into existence several meters away, and everything picks up page again.

Hopefully, with the only trained Company pair of eyes, uh, distracted, nobody caught that amidst all the crazy.

Oh, the van keeps coming. So much so that it's a good thing that Hiro went and moved some bystanders out of the way, because some of them surely would have been crushed as the sideways van tears through the cafe. It stops only when it strikes the serving counter, the machines crashing to the ground and the counter itself angled precariously.

With the back end of the van now inside the cafe, it's apparent that the back doors have come open in the accident. Scattered amidst the broken glass and debris are paintings: some mounted on wooden frames, others rolled up into cardboard tubes. All of them bear the same label identifying them with the name 'MENDEZ'.

The newest crisis, however, is neither the van nor the artwork. It's the fire that leaps from the van with another spectacularly loud explosion, setting the counter and nearby tables aflame. It's spreading fast, and it appears to have no qualms at all with jumping to patrons' clothing. They're equal-opportunity flames.

Though he's far enough away not to get hit, the sheer concussion of the impact and activity that follows sends Jack staggering backward. He lands bottom-first in a pile of furniture, and what comes out of his mouth next is a mishmash of swear words in French, German, English, and at least two other languages that may or may not actually exist. The eight-inch long cut that stretches most of the way from his elbow to the back of his wrist sluggishly oozes untill bright red drops drip from his fingers and form a small pool on the floor. "I've bloody well /had it/ with this city.." he mumbles wearily. Still groggy, he staggers to his feet, flinging bits of chair and table everywhere. Mere feet from the first of the flames, he reacts on instinct. Gesturing with both hands, he relocates the fire extinguisher from his kitchen and into his hands. Pulling the pin causes him to grimace as pain shoots through his wounded arm, but he gets the fire extinguisher prepped and depresses the handle, sending a thick cloud of white foam at the blaze. Unfortunately there's barely enough compressed chemicals to slow the fire, and nowhere near enough to stop it.

There's something more going on here than meets the eye. The explosions are a pretty good sign of that. Clint ducks back when the explosion goes off from the van and lights the tables on fire, "Everybody get outside, right now!" He yells at the people who are still inside of the coffee shop. He himself, however, moves towards the van to try to see if he can't get to the driver. Sure, it's on fire. But he has to try to help. He's not always just in it for himself.

Indeed, this is somehow still Hiro's lucky day. Granger doesn't have time to notice the time-travelling, space-manipulating super-Hiro. Granger just has enough time to suck in an enormous breath before the van plows into him for a second time and drives him backward and half-pins him to the serving counter.

Luck still seems to be on Orion's side as well, he somehow manages to catch a glimpse of fire starting to build up beneath the hood of the van. He strains his muscles and somehow seems to shrink his chest and shoulders by an inch at most, but it is just enough for him to suddenly lurch out of the half-pin. Orion stumbles and tumbles, whipping his overcoat off as the flames he seems to have anticipated set it ablaze.

And then Granger notices the paintings. He goes markedly pale in the dancing firelight.

And Paige? Well, she's looking at Clint as he shouts with a mostly incredulous expression. "Clint!" she calls, weaving around other patrons as they flee the burning cafe in an attempt to get to him. She's on the opposite side of the van from him, and the fire is between them. Not that there isn't fire, you know, everywhere. "What are you doing? We have to get /out/ of here." But she knows exactly what he's doing, and she's already working on a way to climb over the debris to get to the other side and help him.

Before Sydney can get to her feet, she has to get to her knees-and even that's proving to be something of a struggle in the crush of panicking people. She covers her mouth with her sleeve, wheezing, and tries not to focus on the pain in her lungs or her eyes, which are both burning and watering at the same time. Clint and Paige have the right idea, but something causes Sydney to linger, feebly grasping at the edge of her overturned table as she struggles to stand. That's /art/ on the floor. That's /art/ about to be swallowed up by the flames. Her own sketchbook forgotten, she reaches out with the arm that feels the strongest and makes a grab for the nearest tube. If she can just hook her fingers around it…

As the fire spreads, Hiro doesn't even bother trying to shut his eyes - he can still feel a little spent from having stopped time just a few seconds ago. Ducking with vague terror from the next explosion, Hiro rises up only to - sniff, sniff. Is something burniohmygodI'monfire.

Hiro hits the ground and stops, drops, and rolls. Hopefully in that order. Picking himself up off the floor, the unlikeliest samurai starts sprinting for the van, before the gas tank totally pulls a The Matrix and blows up.

"The driver! The driver! He did not make it!" he shouts, to Clint. It sounds more like 'The Dribbler' with his accent, but hopefully it'll all work out in the end. "Look in the back!" he adds, and points emphatically, in case his accent makes it too difficult. Point, point, point!

Hiro is confident enough that there's nobody back there, but when Sydney runs into the breach, he takes off after her. "Wait! Miss! It is very bad! Big trouble! Big boom!" He swings around the side of the burning vehicle, and takes one look inside-

"-Mister Isaku?!"

The extinguisher in Jack's hands coughs and sputters, then dies. He tosses a glance over his shoulder. Damn. There are still plenty of people behind him who are going to need to get out. Throwing caution to the wind, he concentrates on the Den of Inequity's interior layout. A moment later another, larger fire extinguisher materializes in his hands, this time from behind the Den's bar as Jack plays the last card he can think of. "C'mon, people! Stop standin' around like cattle and GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!" He sends out a short spray of fire-retardant foam, driving the blaze back for a few more seconds as Sydney and the Japanese man both scurry through his field of vision. Against all principles of common sense, they're both actually heading /into/ the flames. Another squished-together string of swear words flies out of his mouth as he forges after the pair, the extinguisher working to keep all three of them from being consumed.

"Paige!" Clint says, as he spots the girl, "What the hell are you still doing in here?!" Instantly Clint is where she is, so she doesn't have to climb over the debris, "I'm getting you out of here." He heard Hiro yell about the driver, which is why he wants to focus on getting Paige to saftey, first, then he'll worry about saving that artwork that was in the back of the van. Priorities, Clint. Have to have priorities. He takes hold of Paige's arm, and they both disapear. Across the street, in an alleyway between two of the buildings, they reappear, and Clint lets go of her, "Stay put." He says, as sternly as he can, before he disapears again, popping back into the burning coffee shop, to try to help everybody else. Damnit, all these rapid jumps are starting to get to him. He covers his face with the collar of his hoodie to keep the smoke out of his lungs and then heads for the back of the van.

This is uncharted territory. Orion is unclear on how to proceed given that two unknowns are attempting to retrieve Company property. He muses over this for about five exceptionally long seconds as he sweats and swelters in the growing fire. Preserving the lives of the civilians is important, but the paintings are also exceptionally important (or so he has been made to understand in a general sense).

Finally, with a tremendous sigh, Granger moves forward. He moves directly into Jack's spray of fire retardant foam and the fighting flames. Hopefully people are much too preoccupied with other things to notice as the copious sweat on his hands and lower face seems to shear off as some sort of new sweat forms. It gleams and reflects the light of the fire as it seals off his hands, mouth, and nose from the sweltering, searing heat and choking, noxious smoke.

Granger uses his significant size advantage to shove his way past Hiro and into Sydney's way. Using a move that might have come from hackey sack, the tall man tries to kick up the tube Sydney was reaching for and looks to Hiro, "Get her out of here," he intones as he turns toward the 'greater' task of trying to gather the paintings in the back of the van into one coherent stack.

"What?!" That is Paige's exact reaction as she realizes she is now across the street and… not at all near the inside of the coffee shop. "CLINT!" He's already gone, of course, and isn't likely to hear her shouts. There's a crowd forming around the outside of the coffee shop, and it takes her longer than she'd like to try and fight her way through the bystanders. Luckily for her, no one catches on to what she's planning until she's climbing through the broken window, pressing her hands down against the broken glass with a hiss of pain. "Stupid, stupid…" There's blood on the glass as she finally gets back inside. She's gone after Clint, climbing over the debris just in time for flames to lick at her side. "It's just some stupid /paintings/!"

Sydney can only save one. For one thing, she's injured. For another, both the paintings in tubes and the paintings mounted on frames are cumbersome to carry. Maybe, if she had the time, she could figure out a way to maneuver two into her arms, but time-like common sense-just isn't something she possesses right now. As soon as she feels the tube under her fingertips, she rolls it toward her, only to find it knocked up and away. When she looks up at Granger, the expression on her face is that of a mother whose newborn baby has just been plucked away from her breast. "You can't!" she cries hoarsely through the smoke, entirely misinterpreting his intentions. "You can't just let them /burn/!"

Hiro is convinced.

It is perhaps strange why the tiny Japanese man with a sword, wearing a dress, starts going after the paintings as frantically as Sydney does in her art-fueled frenzy. "Mister Isaku's paintings! We have to save them-" he cries, with sudden urgency, diving in regardless of the flames like a maniac. He looks to Sydney and Orion-and then stops. "It is you! You were run over by the van!" His eyes twinkle and his grin spreads from ear to ear as he looks a little closer. "Colossus!" he says, in a reverent whisper, before nodding once, emphatically. It sounds more like 'Chorosis' coming out of his mouth, but the intent is there. Okay, Mr. Colossus can cover things on this end.

Hiro starts piling tubes into his arms, and once he's got three or four he abruptly half-tackles Sydney, shoving the tubes into her grip.

To everyone else, they simply wink out of sight. To Sydney, it's as though she blinked and her entire surroundings changed. It's probably a little disorienting. The two reappear on the sidewalk across the street, Hiro somewhat singed from the flame. He quickly passes the tubes off to Sydney. "Miss! Be very careful! I will be-right back!" And sure enough - tiny glasses samurai disappears again, reappearing somewhere inside. He overshot a little; he's not in the van, but he's close enough to start running in. "Colossus Man! Be careful! I am coming!"

Distantly, there is the wail of a siren as a fire truck barrels down the street, on its way to help combat the flames! About half an hour too late! Gotta love New York City.

Shocked at the sudden appearance of a strange man in the way of his amateur firefighting, Jack nearly drops his extinguisher. The flames are persistant, so he can't really get rid of it, but he can hardly stand around while some wierdo tries to pick a fight with a woman he knows(albeit barely) in the middle of a burning coffee shop. Then the issue is rendered moot as the Japanese man… Wait. That guy just freaking disappeared. Stunned, Jack spins back around. "Sonofabitch! Notgoodnotgoodnotgood!" The flames have closed in around him while he was distracted. He backpedals into the open cargo area of the van and lays down two long lines of foam, slowing the blaze's advance, but not stopping it. Then it's tank is emptied and he drops it to the ground with a loud 'clank.' So very, extremely not good.

Somehow, Clint manages to come through the flames just in time to see Hiro disapear with Sydney, "What the.." Another teleporter? Wow. Still, he looks at the two that remain, "I don't think we can save all of these before the fire gets to 'em!" He tells Jack and Orion, as he looks at the paintings, "Look, just grab what you can and get outside!" He coughs a bit and covers his face with an arm, "I'm serious, get out of here!" He points at the direction of the entrance. He'd force them out like he did with Paige, but he doubts he could pull that off again. Especially with the guy with the metal suit on over there. Geeze. New York City must be like a magnet for freaks like him, or something.

Wait. Waitwaitwait. Why is there a guy in the van now? Orion pauses his painting scramble to facepalm at Jack's presence in the van. He pulls in a deep breath from the small reservoir of air under his metal bandanna, eyes closing for a moment as he tries to decide just how close to not having enough air he has left. The metal-coated man's dress shirt catches fire, burning away in places to reveal more of his metal-coated flesh.

He looks over his shoulder to see if Hiro, who he only recognizes as Evolved for his unusual dress and apparent capacity to appear and disappear at will… And maybe because the Company has some sort of file on Hiro. Granger frowns under his metal mask, this is very much not good; he points at Jack and indicates for the man to stay put, apparently unaware of Jack's item translocating shenanigans.

Orion promptly rips off his burning shirt, allowing Jack an inadvertant and unavoidable glimpse of Orion's metal coated torso and forearms. Shirt gone, he crouches down and attempts to haul an enormous stack of paintings out of the van. Jack and Clint are very likely to see an expression of exceptional pain cross Granger's features as he strains muscles that, apparently, were significantly more impacted by the van than he's let on while he strains to carry the paintings back out of the burning coffee house.

Why is everyone running back into the burning building? It's enough to utterly confuse Paige as she squints, trying to ascertain the situation inside the cafe. She came in after Clint, but in following after the football player, Jack has drawn her attention, too. "What the hell is wrong with you people?" As Clint is telling them to get the paintings and get out, Paige is taking what might be the least intelligent action of the evening: she's shoving past the football player who can teleport and climbing into the van, straight past the flames keeping Jack cornered. "Take my hand!" she yells, extending a hand out to Jack. Her open coat is held in the other hand, warding off the flames lapping at her back. "We need to get out of here!"

Sydney's first instinct is to double over and vomit. 'A little disorienting' is, quite possibly, something of an understatement. For a few minutes, she sits on the sidewalk in a stupor, trying to make sense of what just happened. Did she pass out? Did Hiro carry her and the paintings to safety? Is the smoke making her hallucinate? Eventually, she decides that it isn't her place to question the miracle-lest she blink again and find herself back in the burning coffee shop-and once again staggers to her feet. As the firetruck tears past, a draft of hot air causes her hair to whip wildly around her face, solidifying her decision to do what she should have done in the first place: get the Hell out of here. She moves slowly at first, her movements stiff and uncoordinated, but as she begins to gain distance from the fire, she breaks into a full out sprint. Or at least as close to a sprint as one can get with two armfuls of stolen merchandise. Please don't fall!

Okay. They are very quickly running out of time, and this from the man who has all the time in the world. Hiro runs up into the back of the van. "Itai itai itai itai itai-" he yelps, doing a 'hot potato' dance as his thin sandals press against hot van surface.

Nakamura looks at the remaining paintings before clenching his eyes shut. Everything freezes. "-Itai! ITAI!" Why is everything still hot?! No fair! Hiro yelps and does a little 'hot hot hot' dance before running up to the van. He can't keep this up forever.

He does pause to *knock knock knock* on Orion's chest. He can't resist. "<So cool! Just like Colossus!>" he says, in Japanese, before taking advantage of the left-over time to collect the straggling paintings into his arms. That should be everything. Looking like he just looted an art museum, Hiro peeks out over the stack of paintings as Paige and Jack and Clint start making their rapid exits to dive for 'Colossus Man'. The second he makes contact-

Scene wipe. Orion, Hiro, and a whole stack of paintings reappear in an alleyway right next to where Sydney *was* before she took off with an armful of paintings.

Hiro Nakamura. A Company Man. A whole bunch of Isaac Mendez paintings on the ground between them. Uh-oh.

When Clint appears, Jack follows his advice. After all, this many people wouldn't risk their lives for artwork if it wasn't /really/ friggin' important. He waves both arms, relocating one of the tubes into his grasp to help relieve the burden of. Metal Man? METALMAN? And Disappearing Man again? This is too much to process. Unfortunately, there's no time to stop and gawk. Jack can't get out of here on his own. He takes a deep, steadying breath, then tucks the rolled painting under his arm and slips his hand into the girl's. Just before his sweaty hand contacts hers, he can see that she's pretty thoroughly on fire. Between the crazy events and a hefty dose of smoke inhalation, Jack's pretty much had it up to his eyeballs for tonight.

Well, it looks like everybody's finally getting out of here. Maybe. Oh damn, that dude and the big metal guy are gone. Clint slumps against the wall of the van, and waves for Paige and Jack to get the hell out of here. He can handle getting himself out, once he knows those two are safe.

Frozen as he is in time, Colossus Man… Err… Dang it. I mean Orion Granger. Let me start over.

Stuck in between the fractional decay of unstable hydrogen isotopes, Orion Granger's metallic 'skin' makes a most satisfying knock. Whether this is, in fact, how it would normally be is up for debate as Hiro might notice. There's something about the metal flesh that makes it seem almost like a liquid.

Granger pops back into time in an alley across the street from the burning coffee house. In spite of the size difference, Orion is still staggered by Hiro's in time, out of time tackle and looses his grip on the paintings. They fall to the ground with a paintingy crash while Orion thrusts one metal hand out to catch himself on a brick wall. Sparks fly up from the scraping contact in spite of the now clearly gel-like metal skin.

How is it clearly gel-like? Well the bandanna seeps down into the metal around his neck once he impacts the wall. Metal doesn't seep down and disappear into like material unless it's all liquified… Or near liquified.

'Pretty thoroughly on fire' is one way of putting it. Paige's coat is, in fact, engulfed in flames as she shields Jack from the fire, maneuvering them through the debris until they reach the broken window. Shoving Jack forward a bit to get him away from her, she tears off her winter coat and throws it on the ground. Her face is blackened by smoke and one can only assume burns; her hands, too, are a mix of black and red from climbing through the broken window. "Go!" she yells to Jack, leaving the burning coat in the debris of the coffee shop as she ushers him out to the street before climbing out herself. The glass poses the same problem as before, of course; holding onto the edges to steady herself leads to more scrapes and curses of pain. But she's soon outside, and Jack is /not/ on fire. So it's a win!

For Hiro, the only thing left is to check after any stragglers. As far as he knows, everybody's out - but he still runs up to the alleyway. "Is everybody… out?!" he says, breathlessly. Hiro's grasp on his powers is strong; his grasp on smoke inhalation, not so much. Plus, earlier today - well, earlier today and some three hundred years ago - he was already suffering from smoke inhalation, so he's pretty goddamn breathless from a one-two punch of Japanese gunpowder smoke and modern gasoline / crazy Evolved human smoke.

Jack cradles the painting protectively as Paige guides him out of the inferno. His only means of protecting himself thus far has been a fire extinguisher, and he has been left with a scattering of burns as well as seared lungs. Being shoved through the broken window doesn't help, either. When he hits the street Jack is a bloody, scorched mess, but he's alive. He staggers to his feet, still clutching the painting protectively. "I have to get out of here," he croaks weakly. Soon enough the police will be here, and he has no desire to risk a confrontation with them.

Well, Paige and Jack are getting out. And Clint knows he has enough left for one more teleport or so. So he vanishes from inside of the coffee house…And right into the alleyway that Hiro and Orion were transported into. Hey, it's the same one he took Paige to. He coughs and hacks, leaning against the wall, not even realizing that the other two Evolved, plus the paintings, are in the alleyway with him. He just wants to catch his breath.

After sucking in several enormous, enormous breaths, Granger turns around to find Hiro… Walking… Away. And then Clint appears in the alley. Orion tilts his sweat, soot, and blood/burn-streaked head to one side, a look of exasperation crossing the Metallic Man's face as he crouches down again. He quickly starts re-stacking the paintings into a pile. If the sound of the sirens is any indications, Granger doesn't have much time to get away with the loot.

"You need to go to the hospital," Paige replies to Jack as she gives herself a swift once-over, ensuring there are no lingering flames anywhere. Sure, there are holes from burns in a few places, and her hands are a little bloody… but things could be worse. She reaches out to help Jack walk, should he be willing. "I think you need stitches," she adds, giving Jack a concerned look as she leads him away from the burning coffee shop. "I can't believe you guys went back for some paintings."

In the distance, Sydney finally rounds the corner and is gone. She'll only slow down when the distant squealing of the sirens is no longer audible, and even then, she'll be on edge until she makes it back to the (smoke-free!) safety of her apartment. What she plans to do with the paintings is anybody's guess-she hasn't quite figured it out for herself. Yet.

"Phew-" Hiro says, to himself, once it seems that the immediate danger has passed. The samurai starts running back into the alleyway to find Orion organizing the paintings. "Colossus Man! Thank you!" 'Sankyuu', more like, but Granger hopefully gets his drift. "You are a big hero! You helped save everybody. I saw you jump in front of that van!" … That's maybe a rose-colored way of looking at what happened. Suddenly aware that there are people around, Hiro's voice drops to a whisper. "Do not worry! Your secret identity is safe with me," he says, to Granger, with an elaborate wink.

"These are not just some paintings! These are my friend's paintings. His name was Mr. Isaac," he says, matter-of-factly. "Was. He is dead now. He was also a hero. And-eh? Where did that lady go…?" he asks himself, absent-mindedly.

Somewhere else, Sydney is running away with an armload of paintings.

"Mr. Isaac saved the world. And now we have saved Mr. Isaac's regency." Regency? Regacy? … Legacy! It's an English word that Hiro's not used to using, probably.

Gasping and choking, Jack greedily sucks in fresh air. "No hospital. I'll be fine." Despite his words, he sags against Paige gratefully. "No hospital," he repeats as the sound of sirens grows nearer. He smiles haggardly at his rescuer. "I don't know how you got in to help me, but thanks. I'll be ok, my apartment is close." Straightening, he limps away toward home, a well-stocked first aid kit, and a bottle of scotch.

Clint blinks a little bit as Hiro just goes and starts talking to Orion, "What the crap.." Oh son of a bitch. He just teleported into an area with people in it. And those paintings, "Okay.." He says, as he takes a deep breath, "That was intense, huh?" He knows these two are definately unique, like him, 'cause he saw a little display inside.

No, oddly enough, Hiro got Orion's reaction to a flaming van precisely right. His first instinct was to get between the van and the people. Only when he noticed what the van had did the people become irrelevant. Granger eyes Hiro from his side of the paintings, finally stacked for a proper, neat carrying away.

"I did what needed to be done… And yes. I know whose paintings these are and their value. That is why I need to put them back into the hands for which they were intended."

Orion glances at Clint out of the corner of his eye, blood dripping down past it. He nods once to the teleporter and smiles, "Why don't you head home. You look like you could use a rest." Granger would very much like this to not escalate. And for The Company to send someone to pick him up. Carrying these heavy things is going to suck.

Paige makes no move to stop Jack as he walks away from the scene. She can sympathize with people not wanting to get involved with the authorities, after all, and by now the firefighters have surely arrived to put out the blaze. As she passes by the alley, she casts a glance down to see Orion, Clint and Hiro. A frown crosses her face, though it's difficult to see clearly through the black silt from the smoke. She pauses by the street, watching them curiously as she uses the sleeve of her shirt to try and clean off as much of the black gunk as she can. She, for one, has no interest in taking the paintings from anyone.

"… Eh? I do not understand," Hiro says, to Granger, sounding disappointed. "We are all heroes! This is just like when the Avengers came together! To fight Hulk! Except… our Hulk was a van. We have to use these paintings to make sure that the world remains safe!" He says, taking a step forward. "I saw you!" he says, to Granger. "You are a hero, too. These paintings belong to… to the whole world!"

Hiro is, as a reminder, dressed in a kimono and smells like a goat.

Jack is exposed, injured, and terrified. He's used his ability openly for the first time and has nothing to show for it but a damn painting, and he sure as hell isn't about to give that up, nor is he willing to risk getting arrested for his connection to the incident on the street yesterday. As fast as he is able, he makes his way toward the Prestige complex.

Clint blinks at Orion, "Go home?" He asks, as he eyes the man for a moment. But he can't really think right now with Hiro rambling in his bad English, "What the hell is with that costume, anyway?" He asks of Hiro, as he looks at the somewhat singed kimono that he wears.

An enigmatic smile crosses Granger's features at Hiro's pleas. The tall, mostly metal-coated man stares at the smaller, goat-smelling Japanese man for a long while before he responds. His tone is flat, quiet, when he talks, eyes fixing on Hiro's with a near-predatory intensity.

"I fully intend to use these paintings to keep the world safe. My fellows fully intend to use these paintings to keep the world safe. We can only accomplish this if we have the paintings. I trust that you… Understand."

For a moment, just a moment, it seems like Orion was going to add something.

The moment passes in silence.

Perhaps he was going to use Hiro's name and forgot it. Perhaps he couldn't think of Hiro's name. Perhaps he decided using names would be inappropriately villainous considering Hiro's continual assertion that Granger is a hero. Perhaps it was just Gas: Silent, Yet Deadly. The world may never know over Hiro's goat-washed kimono funk.

Having been somewhat successful in her attempts to clean her face, Paige begins to approach the trio in the alleyway, walking slowly. Her arms are crossed, her hands rubbing her upper arms for warmth. There is some lingering silt around her hairline, and she couldn't quite get the blood from her hands or clothes, so… there's that. "Maybe you should let them work this out," she suggests to Clint, still staying a short distance away from the group. She has no desire to come between Orion and Hiro, particularly since Orion, at least, is familiar to her.

Hiro flinches a little under the much larger man's glare. "It is not a costume," he says quickly. "I just came back to the future." Yes, he just said that. With a straight-face. "I do /not/ understand," he says, sad and confused. "And I can not let you take these paintings away." He thinks of something.

Mustering his courage, Hiro shuts his eyes and thinks of one true paragon of bravery. He would never be intimidated, and he probably *has* fought someone made of metal. The bravest man… ever.

"They belong in a museum!"

On a mission to make sure everyone gets the first-aid they need, a firefighter, dressed to the nines in his very best firefighting gear, glances down the alleyway, where he is confronted by entirely too many things to process. Orion, half-naked, with metal over half his body. Paige, her clothes burned through in places, her hands and shirt bloody. Hiro, dressed in a kimono and smelling like a goat. And they're all standing around in the cold, two of them at risk of hypothermia, arguing about some paintings. It's really that last one that sells the scene. The firefighter wipes a hand over his goggles. "… I ain't paid enough for this," he decides, turning back the way he came.

If these paintings are worth as much as they seem to be worth, Clint bets if he could make off with a couple of them, he could make a good bit of money off of it. Not that he's hurting. But still…He glances at Paige, "Paige, you're bleeding." He says, "You should go see one of the paramedics.." He needs to get her out of here so he can do his thing..

Orion continues to study Hiro, eyes narrowing for a moment or two before he replies drily, "They belong in the hands of those who can best use them to save the world. When we are done with them, they will go to a museum, Doctor Jones."

The metal man promptly stands, throwing one enormous fist at Hiro's face. The metal peels back off the clenched fist since Granger only wants to disable the Japanese man, not kill him. Clint is probably very lucky that Granger can't read minds as well.

"What?" Tilting her chin down, Paige looks herself over once, quickly. The blood on her clothes isn't convincing, but her response is still, "No, I'm not. I'm fine." She approaches Clint, keeping a wary eye on Orion as he speaks to Hiro. "I know this guy, and he's-" She turns her head away sharply, wincing as Orion throws a punch at Hiro. Ouch. "We should get out of here." Poor, naive Paige. She isn't a mind reader, either.

"I am a master of battou-jutsu. I will fight to protect the world. Prepare yourself-" Hiro says, as he steadies his stance and reaches to put a hand on his swor-

*THWACK*

-Hiro wobbles a bit in place. It's been a long day. He might have been able to defeat a master swordsman early this morning, but not everything goes your way all the time, and as skilled as Hiro's become… well, Orion's a Company Man. He knows how to throw a punch.

Hiro wobbles, wobbles, and falls flat backwards, face up in the alleyway.

His glasses are broken.

Clint blinks and winces when Orion just straight up sucker punches Hiro on the face, "Hey, what the hell was that about?" He asks, although he kinda isn't sure if he wants to confront this guy when he's as worn out as he is. He knows, were he still fresh, he could easily take this big metal man. But right now, well…He's not sure.

For the moment, Granger is content to ignore Paige and Clint. Clint could be troublesome, if he were fresh, and Orion should clearly know it. As it stands, he shakes his fist after Hiro hits the ground and crouches back down in front of the pile of paintings.

"My apologies. I did not wish for it to come to this."

The tall man promptly strains his muscles again and hauls the paintings from the ground. He promptly starts moving toward the end of the alley not swarming with emergency services.

Clint makes the decision that the paintings are worth less than helping out the guy who just got pummeled in the face. Clint moves over to Hiro and kneels next to him, "Hey, dude." He says, as he shakes Hiro, and picks up his broken glasses, "You okay? Snap out of it."

Hiro is out like a light, dressed like a samurai, and has a sword strapped to his back. His glasses are broken, and, aside from a few large gold coins at his waist, he is broke, and basically naked.

He will reflect later on how bad at bushido Granger is.

Following Clint's lead, Paige moves to Hiro's other side, frowning. "Let's get him up," she says, taking one of Hiro's arms into her dirty hands and slipping it over her shoulders. "Oh, god. He smells disgusting." She makes a face, but it doesn't stop her from waiting for Clint to help her heft him up from the ground.

Clint does intend to help Paige up, tucking Hiro's glasses into his pocket, "I'd take him back to my place, but I don't think I can at this point.." He says, as he helps set Hiro up against the wall, and try to reawaken him, "C'mon man, wake the hell up.."

Hiro babbles in Japanese to himself. Something about, "I think I overslept, I'm gonna be late for work-" he looks up at Clint. Everything starts to snap into place. He's going to have a funny-looking little bruise in the morning, that's for sure. He's still dizzy. "-did he take the paintings? Gomen, I failed… … oh. What is the year now?"

"Um." Casting a glance to Clint as she steps away from the wall, Paige frowns. "It's 2007. Yeah, he took the paintings when he left." The slightest movement causes her to look as if she might go and support him again, just in case. "Are you okay? What were you /thinking/?" Because, let's face it. Hiro's tiny. Orion? Much scarier.

Orion Granger is running/stumbling away, a whole mess of paintings held in his arms as he tries to put some distance between himself, the fire, the cops, the fire department, Hiro, Clint, and basically anything that could possibly have interest in stopping the half-naked, half-metal, apparent gallery thief.

"2007?" Hiro does some thinking. He's still very wobbly. "I am a hero… I had to face him to protect the paintings. … now I'll have to find them all… 2007? Did… did we save the world?"

"The world? Yes," Paige replies, looking back to where the firefighters continue to battle the blaze at Common Grounds. "The coffee place? Not… so much." Pausing, she looks back to Hiro, considering him for a moment. "Did the… world need saving?"

"Uh." Clint blinks a little bit, "I must have missed something." He says, "I mean, Common Grounds was a great coffee shop…But it's hardly the end of the world now that it's gone.." He says, "I'm kinda pissed that guy got away with the paintings, but…Well, nothing we can do about it.." He coughs and sits next to Hiro, leaning against the wall, "What's so special about the paintings?"

Hiro can stand on his own, mostly because he needs to through his arms up over his head. It's 2007! The world still exists! "YAAAATTAAAA!" He even does a little dance, before abruptly wobbling from his still almost unconscious state. "Yes! We had to stop… the bomb! The exploding man! Peter Petrelli saved the cheerleader and we saved the world! I stopped Sylar! New York is still… New York! I love New York!!!"

He's making a bit of a scene, but his cobwebby-head is still troubling him. "Those paintings are by Isaku Mendez-he was a hero, like me! And my friend. … He died. But he could paint the future. His paintings and Mirai Hiro showed us how to save the world. And we did!" That's the abbreviated, breathless, Hiro Nakamura rundown.

"I need to get those paintings…"

'Spooked' is one way to describe the look on Paige's face as Hiro babbles about saving the world, and she stumbles back a step, away from the little Japanese man. "Sylar," she parrots, quietly, mostly to herself. "Save the cheerleader." She stares at Hiro for a long moment, her brow furrowing, her arms crossed again as she hugs herself. It might be for warmth, or that shiver might be from something else. It isn't clear. "Who /are/ you?"

Clint is actually somewhat disturbed by Paige's reaction to Hiro, "Paige?" He asks, as he looks at her for a few moments, "What's going on?" She must know more than she's letting on, he thinks. That, or she's just freaked out by the strange dressed Japanese man who can teleport and is wearing a kimono. I mean, that's pretty messed up in itself.

"My name? I am Nakamura Hiro," he says, starting to thsake out those cobwebs. It's not hard for Clint to tell - he's starting to support more and more of his own weight. "I just came back to the future," he adds, again.

"Welcome back," Paige says to Hiro with a faint flicker of a smile, though it's half-hearted, at best. Her tone, however, is appreciative. Not what one might expect with the words 'welcome back.' Clint's concern doesn't go unnoticed as she shakes her head, waving a bloodied hand dismissively. "It's nothing. I thought he said something else."

"Well.." Clint says, unable to help himself. He doesn't want to say it, but he can't stop himself. He just blurts it out, "Where'd you park the DeLorean?" Damnit, Clint. Damnit. He shakes his head, "I'm sorry. Really, I am." And then he peers at Paige, "Uh huh.." He says, "I'm sure.."

"Itai-I feel woozy," Hiro says. "I don't think I can make it," he says, before realizing he has to specify, "Back to Tokyo," he adds, helpfully. "Not right now. Thank you for helping me. You are not like the metal man. You are really heroes," he says, and starts walking on his own.

Clint's quip about the DeLorean does not go over well with Paige. She rolls her eyes, reaching out to punch Clint in the arm. There isn't much force behind it, but it's more chastising than anything. "Be careful with the metal man," she says to Hiro as he walks away. …which is about when it becomes obvious that she's been standing outside in the middle of February without a coat on for a good, long while. "I should get inside."

Hiro's teeth chatter a little. "And I need…" He flinches a little bit, and flushes. "… pants." It kind of sounds like 'pantsu', but Hiro's dignity prevents him from falling victim to his accent.

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