2008-01-12: It Starts with One

Starring:

Elle_icon.gif Gabriel_icon.gif Meryl_icon.gif Rochelle_icon.gif Hiro_icon.gif Ando_icon.gif

Summary: Elle only wants a Slusho. Meryl only wants a tabloid. Hiro only wants all the snacks in the store. Gabriel has no idea what a Slusho is, but wants one. Ando wants Love. Rochelle is huge. In any case, fire alarms and gunshots and injured agents and fleeing fugitives abound. And then Hiro saves the day. (Bonus scene at the end.)

Date It Happened: 12 JANUARY 2008

It Starts with One


7-11

Meryl is in an unusually serious mood today. That's serious in the context that she's not randomly bouncing off walls, anyway… At least she doesn't make a scene as she pulls up to the 7-11 and gets out of her car and heads into the 7-11. This is Agent M at her finest. She's on the trail, here to pick up the Hot Papers, because obviously Men in Black is the be-all-end-all to all things paranormal. In any case, looking at Supermarket tabloids helps more than some people would believe. Bat boy? An illusion in Queens. Star gains 9,000 lbs. and loses them in three days? That's a power. Times Square erupts in a brilliant display of colour and sound? That's someone getting drunk and going to his Newspaper job. Oops.

Anyway, at some point during the evening, Meryl strolls into the store, grabs a pizza roll off the waiting tray, and heads toward the newspapers as the guy behind the counter says, "Hey, Meryl," in that drawling and bored way that people tend to do when they know someone by name, but know nothing else about them. The store's rather empty this evening, though there are a few customers, like a woman with a fiveish-year-old kid with his hand in hers, and a baby in a stroller next to her. There's some thuggish-looking guys near the beer, too, but they're totally posers.

—-

Just outside the 7-11 are three individuals, two of them Japanese and one of them Rochelle. Hiro is dressed in his usual style, a slightly-crumpled suit of lighter tones and long, plastic cylinder held against his back by a plastic strap - the sort of thing art-y folk use to carry paintings and stuff around in. Hiro chatters on excitedly about something to his two companions - in English, no less.

"My favorite part was when they beamed the whales onto the ship. Or when they couldn't decide if they liked Italian or not! Or when … "

You get the idea.

—-

Rochelle has never been much for Star Trek, Wars, Gate, what have you- but in what seems the shortest amount of time possible, she has at least been dunked into the world of the first. It's hard to start living with a Trekkie and not be immersed like a fresh ESL kid in a public school.

"I think I have a VHS of the one with Ricardo Montalban in my basement someplace." Is just about all that Rochelle has to add onto that. She can get into pop culture, see? Just got to give her some wiggle room. "If Ando's this hungry, I want a slushee."

—-

Tucked away in the back of the store is the loud, ancient, probably-never-cleaned Slusho machine. It boasts three different flavours, which Elle is methodically mixing together in a large plastic cup. She has it down to a science, but it's science only she will understand: she adds one flavour first, then the next, then the third, then the second again, and so on. It's all very complicated. On the counter beside the machine, she's also set down some other items to buy: Pixy Stix and a bag of sour gummies. During her very important task of filling her Slusho cup with her complex drink, she casts an occasional glance to the mirror in the corner, trying to remain aware of her surroundings. But then, that's what Gabriel is for, isn't it?

—-

Ando wants food. And what better place to get food than a 7-11?

… well, there are a lot of places, but none of them so convenient. He snickers a little at Hiro's recounting of the movie, then adds, "Computer. Computer. Hello, computer." in his best impersonation voice.

—-

Gabriel isn't so much paying attention to their surroundings as he is staring at Elle as she fills her Slusho cup with what appears to be a very methodical process. "Why are you—" he begins, but he decides that the answer is most likely so complicated they'll be here for hours. He already has hsi drink in hand, a bottle of juice that he spent five minutes picking out. They have a lot of choices. "What's so good about this Slusho drink, anyway?"

—-

She should get a Slusho while she's here. Her reasoning is sound - because it's negative infinity degrees outside, the only logical next step is to freeze herself further with some sort of cold beverage. As she shoves the remainder of the pizza roll into her mouth (she'll be paying for that later), she pages through the tabloid she picked up, and heads toward the back of the store. Horoscope. Aquarius. You will run into an old friend when you least expect it.

Rolling her eyes, she tucks the paper under her arm and reaches for the old machine, muttering something that might be 'Excuse me' or might be 'Your head is fat' to the blonde in her way, before she notices who it is. And she blinks. "Elle?"

Much like an excited puppy, Meryl wiggles. This is just before she launches herself at the dangerous electrical power supply and wraps her in a squishy hug. "Hey, girl. How've you been? How's my BFFEAEURFAED??" Sure, she's not supposed to engage, and sure, there's a good chance that Elle will fry her, but Meryl's brain isn't quite as fast as her heart. "Did you know you're missing?! That's awesome. I wish I was Holy gravestone of Abraham Lincoln, you're what's-his-face." Train of thought thusly interrupted, Meryl's green eyes stare between Sylar and Elle. She's thinking.

—-

Hiro laughs at Ando's interpretation, doing his own impersonation of Scotty talking into a mouse. To Rochelle, he simply stares for a moment or two before he hazards, "No DVD?"

But they're making their way into the 7-11 now, and Hiro is finding himself actually hungry as well. As unaware of his surroundings as ever, he pays little attention to anyone who isn't Ando, Rochelle or a bag of potato chips as he walks along the shelves.

—-

"No DVD." Rochelle confirms, the hint of mock sadness in her voice. As the other two go to find what they have to find, Rochelle steps towards the back and the old Slusho machine, winding oblivious around the corner and right into the hornet's nest, so to speak. As the tall brunette steps around that corner, Meryl is squeaking something in a loud, excited voice to Elle, and that guy looks Really, Really Familiar

But, as luck would have it, Rochelle cannot immediately place him from afar; and so like any fool, all she does is waver and wait at the end of the aisle for the excited Meryl to dissipate, while at the same time staring over at Gabriel above both of the women's heads.

—-

"What isn't good about it?" Sugar content, no nutritional value, the cleanliness of the machine, the chemicals that are in it… "You've obviously never had one." It's thus that the electric blonde is distracted, directing sassy retorts to her fellow fugitive, and does not see the estranged colleague sneaking up behind her.

In that brief instant before Meryl attacks her, Elle manages to get a dome top from the stack and slap it on the cup— and then she's hugged, the cup tilting dangerously and the concoction inside sloshing against the sides.

Unfortunately for Meryl, Elle's instinctive response is to lash out with a quick little shock. Fortunately for Meryl, it's only a tiny one, like she might get from anyone who's dragged their feet across the carpet. …okay, maybe it's two or three times that. Half a second later, she's registered that this is not a bear hug to incapacitate her and is, in fact, an old acquaintance. "Meryl?" This is not the reunion with the Company she was expecting. Flashing a warning glance to Gabriel, Elle asks, "Are you alone?"

—-

It's too cold for a Slusho, so Ando is looking at the candies. Specifically the gummis. Gummiiiiis. Which isn't far from the Slusho machine, so he can hear the noise coming from that direction — but he's not paying all that much attention. He grabs a bag of gummi bears and then turns to head for the jerky.

—-

"I… don't know what isn't good about it," Gabriel offers in response to Elle, his brow furrowing as he looks at the cup. Nope, he's never had one. He would try one, but it looks like today won't be the day. When Meryl shows up and hugs Elle out of the blue, it puts Gabriel on edge. Anyone that recognizes them is potentially an enemy. He takes a quick look around, eyes meeting Rochelle's for an instant, before he's looking at different parts of the store again. His eyes slowly travel back to Rochelle's, who is staring at him, and it makes Gabriel that much more uncomfortable with this situation as a whole. He tries to ignore it for now, slouching down a little bit against the counter he's leaning against, turning his attention back to Elle and Meryl.

—-

Slushos are god's gift to truckers and teenagers everywhere. Thing is, Meryl does not need more sugar, and yet she will enjoy the occasional overload way, way too often. It's probably good that she's been diverted. "Ee-yow," she hisses as she's shocked, drawing her hand back as if to check and make sure she still has all of her fingers. The sight of Sylar is instantly sobering, and if she had a switch, it will have just changed to 'Company Agent Mode.' It's a rare, glorious look at the Meryllis Wolfus in her natural habitat.

Putting her hands on Elle's shoulders for a moment, before releasing the other woman and taking a careful step back, Meryl never takes her eyes off Sylar. One thing that she holds in higher esteem than some of her colleagues is peaceful encounters. If Sylar isn't ripping peoples' heads open, she won't, you know, pull out a firearm and start shooting.

Yet, she's already aware of the fact that she's going to report that she saw them here. Holding her hands out to show that she has nothing in them, other than the Slusho cup, she nods. "Yeah, I'm alone. Was just here for the tabloids." One of which is still tucked under her arm. She's also taking stock of the other people in the store, her eyes leaving Sylar for the briefest of moments as she sees the thugs leaving with their beer, and the lady with the kids starting to head toward the counter. A trio's just walked in, though, and as luck would have it, Meryl recognises one of them.

Now she's torn. Because she could have Hippolyta sign her face or something - with her FIST - or she can keep her eye on Sylar. "You know, just— you know, FYI, that girl over there with the huge arms could totally kick all our asses, so if you're gonna start… throwin' things around or whatever, you should probably consider the fact that she's this huge star and people would totally miss her if the Slusho machine fell on her or something, so I think in the interest of me getting an autograph, we should call a truce here." She points at Elle. "Don't go anywhere, you, I need to talk to you."

—-

"Rosherruuuu," Hiro calls in a sing-song voice as he rounds the corner with arms loaded to chin-height with different bags of potato chips and other snackery. He's got all sorts, there. He steps over towards Rochelle, speaking as he looks down over the selection he's made, "I cannot decide between 'Ket-Leh'," he means Kettle, "Or pretzels. What do you th — "

As Hiro glances up to look at Rochelle and request an answer to his question, he spots someone. He barely sees him through the gaps between people, being shorter than most, but it only takes a glimpse to recognize. All the bags of snacks fall to the floor with a rustling clatter. And he STARES. Open-mouthed.

—-

Give it another minute. Rochelle needs to get her cogs greased. She does take a couple steps closer, glancing at the machine against the wall. Waiting to use that, that's all.

But here it comes. Hold onto your belts. Click.

Okay, so maybe Rochelle does not jump up and scream 'SYLAR' into the air- but her eyes do blink as Meryl says a couple things she can overhear, and her eyebrows crease together in consideration of Gabriel. Say, if you took his glasses off and made his eyebrows darker- Yeah. That's him, right? Rochelle also notes the women he is with, and the fact Peter is nowhere to be seen. As far as Rochelle knows, if Gabriel hasn't done anything yet, he isn't going to- with all this commotion. Besides, she only knows him from a Comic Book. Not all of it has to be true all the time, does it? He seems so harmless.

And then at that moment Rochelle remembers who she came in the store with, Hiro chirps her name and pretty much appears just beside her. The rustle of everything that Hiro had in his arms makes her blink in silence, and though she opens her mouth to say something else, the only thing that she finds fit to do is make sure her bubble is still on and tense herself in case Hiro thinks he might want to start playing Coyote to Gabriel's Roadrunner

—-

"We're just here to get something to drink," Elle is quick to reply, similarly demonstrating her goodwill by standing back with her hands up, Slusho cup still gripped firmly in one. There's no further crackle of electricity; for the moment, she seems to be telling the truth, but there's no telling how long that will last with who just walked through the door.

This is an interesting situation. Elle hadn't anticipated what it would be like to be confronted by those to whom she has some sense of personal loyalty. Still, she recognizes the shift in Meryl's demeanor, and that shift is precisely what sets her guard on high. Though she believes the woman when she says that she is alone, she is hardly comforted. It was a careless decision to leave the hotel, particularly in plain sight. She's realizing this now. She doesn't like feeling foolish.

"Meryl," Elle says calmly, slowly, tipping her chin down as she flicks a glance to the large woman before returning her attention to her former colleague, "I can't stay. I'm not missing, I left, and when you leave the store and make your report, they're going to come after me. So now I need to leave again." And just like that, she reaches out a hand, very slowly and trepidatiously, to take her Pixy Stix and sour gummies from the counter.

—-

Rochelle might not be leaping up and screaming Sylar, but the man who comes around the corner calling, "Hiro! Get the kettle ones! Bar-beh-cu— " might. Because once Ando rounds the side of the shelf and spots Gabriel, he freezes, too. Hey. Did Hiro stop time? It sorta feels that way. But no. Ando points, eyes going wide. "YOU!" Oshi—

—-

For the most part, Gabriel keeps his attention directed towards Meryl and Elle, with the occasional glance towards Rochelle. It's on the third of these glances that he notices Hiro, and he can't mistake that certain Japanese man, considering he's been stabbed by him. He tenses, visibly, and it's when Ando yells 'YOU!' that he snaps into action. "Okay," he says quickly, one hand moving up to Elle's shoulder so he can steer her towards the door and get the hell out of here. "I think it's about time we left." The last thing Gabriel wants is to be fine one second, Hiro to stop time, and then have a sword sticking out of him the next second. "It was, uh, very nice to meet you," he offers in Meryl's direction, even though introductions weren't made and he has no idea who she is, "but Elle is right. We have to be going."

—-

Thinking. Thinking. Thinking is sometimes hard for Meryl. Okay, step one, get the people out of the store. That she can do. She'll simply approach Rochelle, whipping the Tabloid out from under her arm and grab one of those mini-sharpies in the box on the counter, have Rochelle sign an autograph to Madam Snot the Magnificent, and then hint that it would be really awesome if she could shepherd people out of the store. Simple, like pie!

Except that you don't ask someone for their autograph when Sylar's standing right there. God, why does she have to be so TORN. Okay, new plan. Ask Sylar for his autograph, and in the ensuing chaos, aliens will arrive and abduct all the caffeine in the store. Meryl will take the opportunity to rip out the thirtieth page in every dime novel in the place, and— Wait. No, back up.

Her face clearly shows her indecision. Elle will possibly realise two things: That Meryl is likely armed, and that she likely also has a radio. Even if she's not the brightest crayon in the box, she's not dumb. And then? The confusion just vanishes, and she looks annoyed more than anything. "Really, Elle. If you're going to go on the Lam, you can't just walk into a convenience store. This is exactly what pre-paid Visa gift cards are for, for God's sake. Next time you hide from Scary People, do your shopping on the internet." As if this is obvious, Meryl rolls her eyes. Setting the tabloid down, she starts for the door. That should have been Elle's cue to get the hell out before Meryl can call for backup; they've known each other for awhile, and the Aussie can at least give her former colleague fair warning. Unfortunately, she's not the only person in the store who recognises Sylar.

"Ah, hello, everyone. I'm Monkey, and I'll be in the middle this evening," she mutters to herself. She looks one way, then the other, and notices her old friend over yonder on the wall. Someone she's come to know and trust many times in her career. Someone on which she can rely. Heading over to it, she elbows the 'in case of fire, break glass!' box, and the siren goes off, and the sprinklers come on, and she's killed two birds with one stone. A: The bystandars are rushing madly out of the store. B: She's redundantly neutralised Elle. BONUS. "Well, then. Elle, come on. You know if you make this hard, I'm gonna whine."

—-

Ando's sudden shout causes Hiro to jump a little and a squeezing shut of his eyes followed with some cheek wobbling proves that Rochelle's power is in full effect since, well, nothing happens. He panics for a split second before he realizes that his powers haven't vanished on him (the umpteenth time that has happened since he met Rochelle) and then jumps a little more before becoming drenched when the fire alarm goes off.

"Sylar!" Hiro finally says, not sounding like his usual, cheerful self at all. Does he let him run away or does he chase after him? What would he do, anyway? Stab him again? Take him to a police station? A Hero's Decision!

He fumbles his phone out of his pocket, getting it wet in the process, and hands it to Ando, "Call Peter Petrelli!"

Peter Petrelli will know what to do, right? Maybe Sylar escaped from that broom closet.

—-

Meryl and Rochelle can be similarly slow sometimes, and then they have their moments. Like now, for instance. Rochelle can only pretty much stare after Gabriel and Elle, then watch Meryl join the Department of Redundancy Department; the sprinklers turn on and sheet everyone in water, and suddenly Rochelle is also playing inadvertent mediator to all three sides. Also wet, staring at Gabriel, who seems to be just as confused/tense/what have you.

Negation bubble still up, when Hiro gets out his phone and hands it to Ando, Rochelle blurts out a "Not here." and lifts her hand to steer Hiro's away from Ando. There is something inherently wrong with an apparently smart(the comic implies a lot of things) serial killer strolling into a public place with his Clark Kent disguise.

—-

Elle has been spending an uncomfortable amount of time soaked with water lately. It's not a situation she's pleased to find herself in yet again. Between Gabriel's guiding hand on her shoulder and Meryl's odd behaviour in heading over to the wall, she hadn't even considered the safety measures a possibility… until she was standing in a rainstorm. Ducking her head, she huffs in surprise, her voice squeaking.

Yet she's reluctant to leave in quite this manner, cautioning a glance over her shoulder to Meryl, resisting Gabriel's urgency for just a few seconds more. "I'm sorry, Meryl," she calls, forced to raise her voice above the clatter of the siren and, by doing so, losing some of her apologetic tone. "I can't go back there." Please don't shoot. Acutely aware of the weight of the gun she's carrying inside her coat - Meryl doesn't expect her to be unarmed, too, does she? - Elle draws in a short breath, turning away from her once-friend.

As she moves for the door again, she says in a voice just loud enough for Gabriel to hear, "Now would be a good time for us to disappear." Like they should have done from the start, but she'll be upset and feel foolish for that, too, once she's back in the relative safety of her hotel.

—-

But Ando is grabbing that phone, and thanks to the powers of Sprint, he's pushing buttons to bring up Peter's number and put out a call. Because Peter Petrelli can save them! Through the power of Sprint. By the way, the phone is through Sprint, in case anyone was wondering.

—-

The ex-killer (EX-KILLER, people, don't hurt him) does his best to guide Elle away from all the madness, and he can't help when he jumps at the sudden sound of the fire alarm. Water soaks him instantly, and he waits for Elle to say her last words to Meryl. then he's back to moving towards the door, doing his best to act casual and not call attention to himself. The sooner they can get out of here, the better.

But Hiro goes and starts yelling at Ando to call Peter Petrelli. Not that this worries Gabriel much, as the most Peter will do is probably yell at them for going out and getting spotted. Gabriel doesn't even have time to stop and think about this, as Ando is already making the phone call— and at Elle's words, Gabriel couldn't agree more. He closes his eyes, focusing through the water that's pounding him— and he opens them, a confused look on his face. There's a distinct… absence of the feeling of being invisible, and he doesn't understand what's going on. He even goes so far as to extend a hand to a shelf, fingers open as he tries to draw a bag of chips into his hand with telekinesis.. which isn't working either. "… It's not working," he says, loud enough for Elle to hear, and he looks to her as if she would know the answer to this.

—-

Chaos. Aah, blessed chaos. This is where Meryl can think most clearly. When nine bazillion things are happening all at the same time, it might stand to reason that someone whose mind can't focus on one thing would be confused. She's adapted, though. At least there's one other person in the store who doesn't want to leap at Sylar and tear him apart, and - looking past Ando and Hiro - Meryl offers Rochelle a weak smile.

Water streams across her face, and wet hair sticks to it. "Elle," she says. "Technically, I'm following orders. I'm not allowed to 'engage' you. You're not really my type anyway. I mean, what would the children look like? Ew." Looking back toward the door to see if there are any flashing red lights yet, her attention then returns to Elle and Sylar. "So no weapons. But I'm going to phone home." And she doesn't feel really good about it, either, as evidenced on her face. Again, though, she didn't have to give the warning, either. "Y'know, this isn't an ideal situation, mate. It's nothing personal, but… You know." Pulling her (SPRINT!!!!!!) Cellphone out of her pocket, she flips it open.

Oh, hey. There's something odd about this situation… It'll probably hit her later. The important part is that it - or rather, Sylar - is not hitting her now. With, like, telekinesis or something. Flying racks of feminine hygiene products. Energy drinks. The newspaper machine. When you're around a telekinetic, there's so much dangerous crap in a god-damned 7-11.

Shielding the phone from the water, she says "This is Wolfe."

—-

"Not … what?"

Hiro looks perplexed. Sure, he doesn't really know what to do at this juncture. He could try and tackle Gabriel or something but, again, he's got no idea what he'd do with him if he caught him. He glances sidelong at Ando before turning his attention back to Rochelle.

"His powers are not working," he whispers to her - or quietly shouts over the alarm and the pouring water - while pointing towards Sylar, "Stay near him! We need to call Peter Petrelli! He said he had captured him … "

—-

"Yeah, I know they ain't workin'- I don't think we should be getting so excited, Hiro. There's somethin' botherin' me here-" Rochelle answers curtly, turning herself around, expression unsure as she moves to follow Sylar and Elle as they move away. Fine- she'll stay closer than she really wants to, all of a sudden. "Hey there! Clark Kent! Waitaminnit!" What the hell else is Rochelle supposed to say?

—-

The second time her name is spoken, Elle bows her head, her eyes drifting closed. Gabriel sounds far away as he speaks to her, his words registering but sounding distant; she is lost in the realization that she is not going to walk away from this. Her teeth gritted, she considers the possible explanations for Gabriel's inability to use his powers - and it all comes back to the same one.

Meryl lied. One of us, one of them; and in this case, that must mean the Haitian. She wasn't alone, Elle thinks. The betrayal is enough to change the situation substantially. Gabriel isn't going to be happy with her after this, but what choice do they have? The former agent is positively convinced that the Haitian is lying in wait, and that at any moment Meryl will call Bennet to come collect them. All of this, and it seems like hours have passed inside Elle's head when it's barely been seconds.

And then Meryl admits that she's planning to do just that. The Pixy Stix are slipped into Elle's pocket, though she was equally likely to drop them to the floor, her movements slow and calculated. Slusho? Shoved into Gabriel's hands. Turning her head slightly, Elle opens her eyes, her face almost entirely obscured by her soaked hair. "Don't do it, Meryl," she warns, her intonation no longer that of a friend, her free hand reaching into her coat as she speaks, closing around the handgun.

But she does. She calls the Company. In the next instant, before Meryl can speak again, the blonde breaks away from Sylar and whirls around to face the agent, gun raised and held in both hands. She doesn't allow Meryl time to react, to beg her not to shoot; Elle simply fires once, the report loud, then spins again to grab for Gabriel's hand and take off at a run.

—-

And there is no response from the other end of the phone. Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring. The mention of Sylar not having his powers causes him to point frantically at the man. "Hiro! You can kill him now!" Then Ando is dismayed when Peter's voicemail answers instead of the man himself, but he dutifully waits for the beep. "Mister Petrelli!" he calls. "We have found Sylar! He is— " And then he sees Elle whirl with her hand raised, and he drops the phone. "WATCH OUT!" Then he's sprinting toward Meryl, but there's no way he'll reach her in time to get her out of the line of fire.

—-

"Who are you calling Clark Kent?" Gabriel says, turning from the shelf towards Rochelle. He takes a step towards her, but once he realizes this puts him closer to Hiro, and therefore close to danger, he immediately takes a step back. He's ready to get out of here. Once they get far enough, hopefully his abilities will kick back into gear, and he can take Elle's hand so they both disappear, and lose anyone who happens to be after them.

Unfortunately, there's going to be a lot of people after them now. Slusho drink shoved into his hands, Gabriel can do nothing but watch as Elle pulls her gun, turns it on Meryl, and pulls the trigger. He tries to yell out "Elle, don't!" but his mouth doesn't seem to be working. Bang. Next thing he knows, Elle's hand is on his and it's pulling him towards the exit. He can't do anything but follow, the chaos in the store surrounding him as he simply tries to get out and as far away as possible. He makes sure to bring the Slusho, too.

—-

She can tell something's going on. Sylar just wouldn't not use his powers, and he's obviously confused. It'd be a stretch to link it to any one person in here, but later, when Meryl's thinking about this, she'll probably wonder how it was that she came out of this alive. Either he really couldn't use his abilities, or he turned over a new leaf. The former is more likely.

Hey. She's programmed.

"I can barely hear you," she says into the phone. Anyway— "

She actually doesn't hear the weapon fire before the bullet nails her right in the ribcage. She doesn't feel it at first, either, except for the fact that she's kind of thrown backward onto the floor of the store. That's when the pain registers, she cries out, and drops the phone in favour of putting her hand over the source. "Elly?" she says, shocked that the blonde would have shot her. The voice is quiet, expression momentarily wounded before it contorts into pain. OW. Ow, ow.

Meanwhile, from the phone: "Buddy's Pizza. Hello? Hello? Hellooooo?" Click." Whether or not Meryl dialed ther wrong number on purpose — may never be known.

THANKFULLY, THOUGH, as she's writhing in pain on the floor, she's collided into by a heroic Asian guy, whose heart may be in the right place! It's just what she needed. What she's always wanted. "Hey. Hi, I'm — ah— " The following sound is a sort of gurgled shout of pain. "R--really appreciate y--your— Timely… In— intervention, but if— if you could just get off, I'd— " … "I think sh— she shot m— " Squeezing her eyes shut, she starts to reach for her own weapon, but it'll be too late by the time she gets her fingers to close around it.

—-

"<ANDO! STOP!>"

As much as Hiro may admire Ando's heroism, Unspecial people diving in range of gunfire is always a ticket to disaster. He looks horrified when Elle shoots the other woman - wait, Elle? He knows her! He blinks. But he cannot let that distract him! No! The heroic thing is to stop Elle, as nice as she may have been, from shooting anyone else. He's already unslung the cylinder from around his back and is tipping it upwards so that the hilt slides out to a point where he can grasp it.

It's no Kensei sword. That is missing THANK YOU VERY MUCH. But it is a sword of similar make and design, which he draws out and holds in a battle-ready stance. If the Convenience Store Clerk is still here, he's going to provide some police officer with a very interesting story.

Hiro glances sidelong at Rochelle before he shouts out after Gabriel and Sylar, brow furrowing. He still sounds like a rotund little Japanese man but there is an air of authority in his speech (perhaps he's suddenly grown a soul patch?).

"Stop!"

—-

"It's just the glasses, man. They look good, by the wa-" Rochelle even puts her hands up in what she assumes might be a universal sign of peace, then BANG. "Fuck-" The tall woman grimaces visibly, turning her attention to where the gunfire went off, and Ando and Meryl and -shit the little one shot her. This isn't worth it, is it? Rochelle looks from the duo turning on their heels, to Hiro, then down at Meryl; she steps back from the mess and Hiro(complete with samurai action), eyebrows creasing together and the flex of a gritted jaw visible. The sooner that She gets back and turns off, the sooner this will stop, right? There is a time and place for everything, and this is not either for her Doom Bubble. If she can only step away enough, if not turn herself off, it'll be best.

—-

Elle is going to pay dearly for this in more ways than she could possibly realize as she high-tails it out of the store with her partner in crime. Oh, and they truly are partners in crime tonight; she's shot someone without the protection of the Company, and her father isn't going to bail her out of this mess, even if she goes back. She doesn't think so, anyway. And she couldn't go back, not now. No, she is on her own.

Hiro's voice carries with it some sense of recognition, but it isn't enough to entice Elle to stop. It isn't even enough for her to look over her shoulder. If someone is pointing a weapon at her, she doesn't want to know. Gripping Gabriel's hand tighter still, she doesn't wait to find out whether Meryl got through to the Company. She just runs.

—-

Somewhere in his mad dash to Meryl, Ando drops the phone. Intelligently. When she staggers, he moves to catch her and kinda misses. Nobody said he was graceful. So instead he pulls away and starts to apply pressure to her wound. "Somebody call police!" he calls out into the (empty) store. "She is hurt bad!"

—-

Gabriel's doing his best to keep up with Elle (she runs rather fast) and hold onto the Slusho without dropping it or spilling it. After all, since it's the reason all of this mess started, the damn drink better make it through this alive. Or.. inanimated, whichever term you prefer. Feet pounding the ground beneath him, Elle will feel a distinct jerk on her hand as Gabriel comes to a sudden stop, falling to a knee.

There's a sound of pain from him, his free hand flying up to his ear, his eyes closing shut as he grimaces badly. Whether he just made it out of range, or it was the fact Rochelle turned her Doom Bubble off, there's a sudden rushing roar of sound falling on Gabriel's ears, and it's enough to hurt. "Elle, go," he manages to rasp out, shaking his head as he tries to stand, the sound still too much for him to get under control just yet.

—-

"Nnh, hey, she shot me," Meryl says quietly to herself. She's alone here; it's not like she can call up her partner and make sure she gets to a Company hospital, right? She's going to have to do this the old fashioned way.

The guy behind the counter, who looks a lot like James Earl Jones, is snapped out of his stunned silence by Ando's request. With the fire alarm blaring and the gunshot having sounded, his call lends urgency to the situation. And Meryl is bleeding pretty badly. Likely, if help gets here on time, she'll be fine, but at the moment… She whimpers, gritting her teeth together. It's the worst pain she's been in since the car accident a couple years ago. She reaches out a (bloodied) hand for Ando's and holds on as tight as she can manage, though the grip is weak and shakey at the moment, and also sort of getting weaker. "Hey. You. You." Yeah, there's something on her mind. Something really important about how Elle's her friend and they should probably just let her go and stuff. "There's little lights."

—-

Hiro does not stop running, sword in hand as he sprints as fast as his legs will carry him to try and catch up with both Elle and Gabriel. Why? Well, he's not exactly sure why yet. He still has no idea what he's going to do should he manage to capture them both. There is nevertheless a look of grim determination on his face as he charges after them, not so much in an attack posture as he is in a catch-up posture.

But then he spots Gabriel falling down to one knee and he quickly finds himself catching up. Now that he's actually caught one of them, it is crunch time and he has to decide what to do. As he closes the last few steps between himself and the Artist Formerly Known As Sylar, he squeezes his eyes shut in intense concentration.

He clasps his hand on the man's shoulder and …

Disappears. With Gabriel.

—-

Rochelle has long since pressed herself against the counter opposite Mr. J. E. Jones, as he phones this entire crazy situation in. Something else about swords and bleeding. Once Hiro touches Gabriel and disappears, Rochelle lets out the breath she was holding and that bubble of negation bounces back into place, invisible.

Whether Elle has kept running or not, once Hiro and Gabriel blip out of sight, Rochelle pushes off and high-tails it over to Ando and Meryl. On the way, she does grab a rectangular package from the shelf nearby; napkins, but something to help Meryl nonetheless. "Ando, don't let her move around." Rochelle's voice comes in pretty loud and clear and her shadow somewhat moreso, even if Meryl is still seeing lights.

—-

When Gabriel yanks her hand back and drops to his knee, Elle lets out a sound of protest at the sudden stop. "We can't— " She turns back now, and the moment her eyes fall on him, her words cut off. He's in pain, though she doesn't know why, and he's telling her to leave? Anxious, eager to leave, and now concerned, she stands in the middle of the sidewalk, gun in hand, more than a little conflicted. "I'm not leaving," she says haltingly…

…but in the next instant, Hiro is gaining on them. Hiro, whose face she recognizes for several reasons. By the time she's argued with herself whether she wants to shoot a second person, in this case someone the Company would very much like her not to shoot, and has ultimately decided it's in their best interests to at least disable him, Hiro is there. She can't even raise the weapon before his hand is on Gabriel's shoulder and they're gone.

Elle is alone on the street. "Gabriel?" Please just be invisible. Raising her voice, she calls out again, "Gabriel?" But no reply comes. In the distance, she thinks she might hear a siren approaching. Despairing and lost, she backs away from the space where he disappeared, paranoid glances searching the street and adjacent alleys for any sign of Company agents. When she can find no immediate threat, she turns, albeit reluctantly, and starts off down the street at a run once more.

—-

That siren also reaches Ando's ears, and it's relieving. He grabs a handful of napkins from Rochelle and applies them to the wound too. "Little lights?" Uh. Okay. Maybe she's talking about the lights from the emergency vehicles? "You are going to be all right. There are police." Then he glances up at Rochelle helplessly moments before emergency personnel start to swarm in.

—-

"I'm okay, I'm okay," Meryl says through gritted teeth. "Had worse." And should they look - if they can see through the sort of spreading stain of red on her skin - there are scars there. At least she's not a liar, see! Taking a few dep breaths to calm herself, she manages to say, "I'm a big fan," to Rochelle, which MAY be the most succinct statement Meryl's ever made in her whole entire life. There's more she'd really like to say, but being shot takes a lot out of a person. And besides, there are professionals here to wisk her away to the hospital, where she will get the best care EVER. "Meryl Wolfe," she says as she's suddenly covered in paramedics. "You can make the autograph out to Meryl Wolfe." …You know. Eventually.


Ando says, "I love you, Meryl."

—-

Meryl says, "I love you, Ando."

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