2010-07-31: Tell Me Why



Date: July 31st, 2010


With powers on the fritz, a speedster could end up anywhere. Naturally, it ends up being the hideaway home of the man who kidnapped her and now haunts her nights. Things are not okay.

"Tell Me Why"

Gabriel's Apartment, Paris

It's not a wholly distinctive apartment. It starts for no reason greatly apart from the ones around, above or below it. There's nothing more than average about it. And certainly, most certainly of all, not a single whisper of a suggestion that it would play host to a tiny confused blonde woman until she busts the door open with a dramatic WHOOSH and appears, slightly unbalanced, in the center of the living area.

Although she arrived at a hard-to-see run, Daphne staggers with the lingering disorientation of having been sling-shotted somewhere against her own will. Her hands partially split out to her sides, she turns to either of them in quick — but not that quick — steps to try and find some landmark or expensive vase or something to tell her where she is.

Since there's no immediate screaming or French demands that she 'le vacate le premises', the out of sorts speedster spares a second to look away from her surroundings and dig about in her pockets for if she managed to leave this time with her phone. Seriously now, the numbers of times Peter's gotten this phone call in the last week…

The small TV set occupying the corner of the apartment is turned on but turned low, some black and white film playing, the actors speaking French. The man half-watching it doesn't have a single clue as to what they're saying, but in reality, the TV is there more for background noise if anything. There's quite a few papers laid out in front of him, along with a few watches, but again, this is just par for the course when it comes to Gabriel Gray.

Setting down a small piece of a watch with his tools, he brings a hand up to his eyes, pushing his multi-lens up onto his forehead as he massages his temples, eyes closed… and that's when it happens. There's a very large, very loud clatter, and the door to his apartment bursts open with a dramatic WHOOSH. Papers and pieces of watches go flying, the multi-lens falls off of his head, and a very startled Gabriel looks up from his position on the couch, withdrawing his head from underneath the arms which he had been hiding under.

Hey, sometimes ex-killers can be spooked, too.

"What the hell?" he exclaims, standing up from the couch and turning towards the culprit — none other than the tiny blonde he kidnapped so many weeks ago. "You?" he says, incredulity seeping into his tone as he looks her up and down. "What, are you back for some more? Peter not working out for you?" Even now, after weeks away from them, it seems he still holds a little bit of that bitter streak when it comes to Peter and those involved with him.

"You!" It's the call-sign of the hour, but Daphne's is slightly less disbelieving and more leveling into the spooked variety. "You just stay right where you are!" It's a bold demand, mostly almost backed up by her confident and sassy tone. That tinge of fear, though — that one that Gabriel used to be so familiar with — it's there for such experts to find. But Daphne is not. As soon as she thinks he's going to stay still a second, she whirls in the direction she came and sprints out into the hallway. Normal sprints. And not even with very good form. Hey, it's not like she ever needed it before.
Wait for it.

… Then she comes running back in, almost into his wall, as though expecting something to happen right before — like the Delorean to catch fire and her to disappear into the past.

But she's here. Frustrated, with her hands clenching into fists as she shakes them near her temples and forces herself not to show what are likely the tears in her eyes to the mortal enemy sitting there with his silly glasses. "You can't— no, I'm just not— stay away from me!"

"Me," Gabriel responds, shaking his head slightly at the woman. He has no idea what she's doing here, but she seems a little surprised and spooked herself, but… that doesn't really make sense to the ex-killer, seeing as she was the one that showed up here. It's not like he bust into her apartment with superspeed, after all.

He stands there, watching her, and when she runs away, well, he doesn't do much to stop her. Crouching down, he begins to pick up the various pieces of paper and watches that were knocked over. He doesn't know what her game is, but at least now he's prepared for any Unexpected Peter Petrelli that may accompany her. Even then… she does seem to be acting a bit weird. Especially when she comes running right back into the apartment.

Standing up from the floor, he tosses the few papers in his hand down onto the coffee table, and turns his attention back to Daphne. "I'm not even near you, and I don't know if you've noticed, but you're the one running in circles." He crosses his arms over his chest, eyes focused on her. "Did you hit your head or something?"

"If you call this 'running'," Daphne's snort gives away exactly where she stands on that line, before she casts Gabriel a wary and accusing look for having gotten her to make light conversational sarcasm at a time like this. The threat of tears in her eyes hasn't really let up, either, and her neck tenses all the way up with the pressure of keeping her jaw shut on something more emotional than the glare he's getting.

A sort of gasping, disbelieving breath escapes her, though, as she rolls her eyes to the side at the idea of the suspected brain injury she's suffering to be here. It wouldn't be entirely out of line of how her life's been going, actually… "I can't— I— can't seem to get away from you." Hardly the romantic gesture, it's really born — and voiced — more out of frustration. As though she's not really talking to him, or maybe like she isn't quite convinced he's a real person and not her mind being mean-spirited. It doesn't matter much what you say to constructs of your own mind; they already know.

"Fantastic." Meanwhile, her forced bravado keeping lesser displays at bay, she tosses her hands up and then slaps palms against her pair of little red exercise shorts. These shorts, the t-shirt she's wearing: the speedster wasn't exactly prepped for a night on the town before she showed up here, it seems.

Shrugging, Gabriel sits down on the couch and proceeds to put his papers back in order. The door to the apartment is still standing wide open — it doesn't look like he has any intent of shutting it. For all he knows, the woman currently in the apartment with him could take this as a gesture of "welcome to the jungle baby, you're gonna die" or some other horrible thing that involves kidnapping. Which, granted, it isn't exactly a surprising thing she would think something like that. After all, he did do what he did. He may have had his reasons, and while she was just a victim in his plot to get revenge on Peter, it doesn't mean he isn't sorry about it, even if he hasn't had a chance to explain that to her. If he even can explain that to her.

Looking up at her latest revelation, his eyebrows raise slightly — there's definitely nothing romantic about it, but it's intriguing nonetheless. A small smirk hits his lips, despite the situation, and he shakes his head. "And you had me at hello," he says dryly, waving a dismissive hand. He gives her another lookover, the outfit definitely coming into question. It's nothing like his, which, of course, is his usual fare… pair of jeans, white t-shirt. Bare feet. Yet her outfit, her sudden appearance, and the fact that she can't seem to leave… all of this is starting to add up to a very odd and unlikely scene in his mind, and he's not quite sure she is in fact okay. "What happened to you, really? I'm assuming you're not here because you want to be, but I didn't make you come here. There has to be something else to it."

Daphne's nasty little oh that's great expression is shot over at him in a timely way to let her see when he begins checking out her less than prepared outfit. Self-consciously, she crosses her arms over her chest and casts a look towards the door. Even at normal speed, she could make it out pretty easily. Then what, run down the hallway… be out on the streets. Wander about until someone not only can speak English but has a phone that feels like charging long distance… It's a way she's lived before. But something — something tugging, strange feeling, holds her to the spot.

She can't run. Like, can't.

The next look over to Gabriel is calculating. Her teeth gnaw into her lower lip with a ferocity that might hold back her sentiments, except a crisply retorted, "Yeah, because I really want to play Dr. Phil with you." Ironic — by some modern use of the word, perhaps — that she then shifts her weight and levels out, "You came into my boyfriend's apartment, lured me away looking like him," it's hard to say, visibly, but she fights through it to make emotional moments sound like clean facts, "And continued to trick me for a month."

Right. They both know this. She pauses only to swallow hard, gathering up with this hefty inhale and the clenching of her hands tighter around her arms to ask, "Why?"

"I have some clothes if you want them," Gabriel offers, straightening the last of the papers in front of him, making sure they're all in order. Once that's finished, he moves onto the watch pieces, picking them up one by one. At times, his voice is muffled by the objects in between her and him, such as when he's down on his hands and knees and retrieving a spring from under the couch.

Even as she continues to talk, he listens, gathering up the pieces, until that final question comes — the one he was afraid of. Pausing in his efforts to find every piece of the disassembled watches, he lifts up slightly, turning his head to look at her. Eyes meet eyes this time, no checking out of her outfit. It's a serious question, and it requires a serious answer.

"I was angry. Desperate. Confused. Hurt." He shrugs, knowing that it isn't exactly the best explanation. "That boyfriend of yours? He took my girlfriend. He only thought he was helping, but he still took her." He kneels back down slightly, sticking his hand under the couch again, using it as a distraction as he speaks. "Peter and I can both use the abilities of others, only… we had to do it in different ways. Ever heard of a man named Sylar? Ask almost anyone in our world, those with abilities, and they'll tell you about him. The man who kills. The one who steals other's abilities. … Well, that's me. I'm Sylar." He retrieves the final piece and stands, dropping it on the table as he looks at Daphne. "I used to viciously murder our kind and steal their abilities all for myself. It's… just who I used to be. He's still part of me, really, but I try to fight it — the hunger. It's like a… buzzing in the back of my head. A little voice whispering in my ear. My ability, my ability, the one I was 'gifted' with, it… drives me to it. Drives me to kill, to take, to understand other abilities, make them my own." He shrugs, hands out at either side of him, an almost pitiful look on his face, as if he hates he even has to explain it to her, tell her what he used to be, why he used to be that way.

"I'm not making excuses… it's just what it is. My curse I have to live with. That's why he took Zelda. He thought I was still Sylar… amnesia, I guess, didn't realize I was trying to change. Had changed… he had even helped me to do so. But I couldn't see it. I didn't want to see it. I only wanted to see what he did — stole the one good thing I had in my life. Because of that, she ended up in a very bad place… she didn't know who I was anymore. She lost her memory. All because of him taking her. I was blidn with anger, blind with rage, and I wanted revenge." He sits on the couch, elbows on his knees, arms crossed in front of him, eyes pointed toward the floor. "So I went to take it… made myself look like him, snooping around his apartment, looking for some way to get back at him… then you came in. The perfect opportunity… an eye for an eye… so… I did it. I tricked you." He pauses for a moment, taking a deep breath, and looks up to Daphne. "I got… comfortable? It was nice… being there with you. Forgetting everything else. Forgetting my abilities, forgetting how… amazingly horrible this world can be sometimes. I just wanted to forget, but of course, he caught up to us, and… well, you know the rest."

Extending through the whole, laid-out worded documentary of why, Daphne's still as a statue — still, even, than it would seem physically possible for a speedster to be. Her hand having wandered somewhere near her chin, she braces the one against the other elbow, the fingers of her raised hand wandering around the curve of her neck. But frozen. Still. Even what pity Gabriel's look might have otherwise gleaned in another — still. Through these good times and bad, mostly the latter, she forces herself to lock her gaze unyieldingly at the killer and kidnapper and her eyes, though murky with emotion, are balanced out by the clearness of her conviction.

It isn't until the end, when it would seem she's fielded the entirety of the excuse like a stronghold… when those eyes flash, instead, with feelings more readable. Her nostrils flare, but she holds him in her stare yet steady as she repeats lowly, "… It was nice." At first, just a plain echo. Then, as her fingers tighten at her own throat, her voice tightens as if she's doing it to her own self. "It was nice." She pulls her head back, hair wild around her face in an attempt to stave off words that happen anyway. "You want me to believe that? That— that you vindictively went after your, I don't know, sworn enemy, rival — whatever — opportunistically kidnapped his girlfriend and then just— chilled out because it kinda felt nice?" For such a little person, she packs a lot of punch in her words as they're spat out caustically.

But, even then, through the sarcasm— her eyes are still wet. She sputters a moment on a dead sentiment only to have to shut her mouth on something closer to a sob than a skepticism. It's actually a shorter time than would seem likely that she reins in those floundering emotions, finding a kind of control inside. Her gaze, dashed off to the side of the apartment somewhere, falls to the floor and then, slow but steady, finds him, wherever he is. "I know who you are." There's no ego to it, no prize.

Fact, only; "I've… always known. I've— " Her hands rise and fall, an indication of the space — even if not this one, "— been to your place before." Hesitant at first, but gaining strength, she takes one and then several more steps further into the room and towards the professed serial killer, Gabriel. "This one time, you healed my friend Gene when his own brain was killing him. Cause you're the brain guy. He told me. I was pretty much sworn to not use my ability in front of you. So, naturally— I did."

She laughs softly; it's not that funny. Really, it's rather bitter, considering the state she's in now with it. "I guess you were… between murdering sprees or something right then, because, clearly, you didn't kill me." Another step in. Her hands move almost shyly at her sides, teasing at planting somewhere along her waist. Instead, she ends up splaying fingers on her bare thighs beneath the shorts' bottoms. "Or him. And you pretty much had his brain open like a bread-bowl at that point." In this halting, unsure but consistent, pace she's made her way right to him, standing in front of the couch where he sits. Though she hovers just out of arms' reach. "I guess my point is— I kinda… believe you. I hate myself— and I'm blaming you forever— but… you've had worse. So." Fingers play nervous beats across her skin, but she holds her ground and only fleetingly looks away once. "I believe you, right. But— your why totally sucks."

As soon as his whole, long confession, as sad as it is, leaves his mouth, Gabriel averts his eyes from Daphne's once again. He seems to become very interested in something outside of the apartment, perhaps a piece of paper floating on the wind, or a bird soaring above the ground. Either way, whatever it is keeps him from having to look at Daphne's face to see whatever reaction she may have. All he's given her is an excuse — and while he may truly be sorry for what he did, he's fairly sure it isn't going to matter. He is what he is. He can't help the attraction he's developed with her, but when you spend so much romantic time with someone… he doesn't know. Perhaps it stems from an absent father, and overbearing mother — he just needs someone to accept him for who and what he is. Peter messed up the chance he had with the one person who did.

Even as Daphne begins to talk, irrational anger flares up inside of him at the thought of Peter Petrelli, but he pushes it down, away. He can't keep blaming Peter for everything, and it's time to own up to his own mistake of what he did to Daphne and Peter. Daphne's words seem to come at him from far away, and it's with a great effort he pulls himself from his own internal thoughts, turning his eyes towards Daphne but looking away almost immediately, as if he were ashamed. Only when her words come out, hearing his own repeated back to him does he look to her, talking again.

"Well, not nice — it was more than nice — " The rest of his sentence is lost as he closes his mouth again when she says she knows who he is, and it isn't until she explains about Gene that he fully understands. "Oh," he says simply, the realization dawning on him that they've met once before. In all the scramble and confusion of kidnapping her (even as the thought occurs to him, a small stab of guilt twists the knife) he didn't even stop to think that he knew who she was. Then, in Paris, with whatever twist of fate to where he started becoming attracted to her… he can't help but shake his head. Even he can tell he's somewhat of a huge mess. If only she hadn't come busting into his apartment…

Turning his eyes back to her another time, this time he doesn't look away. She isn't flying at him with a knife, trying to kill him for what he did, but rather she… believes him? "You… what?" he says, a mixture of confusion and disbelief taking over his features. Even if she thinks the why sucks, it doesn't excuse him from what he did. It's the reason he's alone in Paris, keeping himself shut off from everyone. If he's alone, in solitude, the only person he can hurt is himself.

"Yeah, well— " That conviction flutters indecisively in Daphne now that he's looking at her again; her arms backtrack to her chest where she nearly folds them, awkwardly in between poses. "Don't go reading anything into it or anything. I'm not exactly a bastion of clear-thinking right now. Obviously." Here she is, standing in front of the man who did all of these things, outright confessed to more, and not even for reason of clawing his eyes out. Not that she'd get so far doing it, anyway. "I just— think you— should know. That I've— gotten people killed." It comes out of her like she's reading off a cue card that's slightly too far away. Her squint, her stilted speech, and the suspicious way she tries to make it all sound neatly packaged. All in all, her speaking voice is remarkably casual. "Captured, too. Hunted. Experimented on. It doesn't matter if it's one or one million, if the only voice in the back of your head was the numbers in your bank account."

Guilt flashes in her eyes, but it starts to come easier. What can you say, after all, to Sylar that he could find so despicable? The judgment just can't be there. "And I told myself that if I just didn't get involved, it somehow wasn't my problem. Don't ask, don't tell. Bad people do bad things. Blah blah blah." A little spirited toss of her head is maybe some small chastising for her former self. Her nails against her skin dig temporary holes in otherwise pale smoothness. "So… when Peter's amnesia," wandering eyes pin on Gabriel; he knows this tune, "got me hunted by AP — captured. Powerless… I figured, sure, this is the biggest bout of fiery karma a girl could ever ask for." Memories dredged up are not quite distant enough still, and she swallows hard around not only that, but the repetition now where her legs, while functioning, refuse to listen to her. Only a new, fancier version of her greatest fear.

The second on the list being the one she's spilling all this out to. There's a twist of fate. But, around the pain, she plows on, "So I stopped caring. And then I stopped believing I'd be rescued. And by that point, I pretty much wanted to die, and that was on the good days."

It's easier to be clinical about that part than the next, where her passion begins to weasel into her words, "But Peter? He came for me anyway. And he saved me, and he told me I was a good person, and he made me feel safe." Between quivering in her lip, she rallies up a good glare at Gabriel. "And you ruined that, you tremendous jackass." The name-calling, more therapeutic than caustic. "But I'm…" Her head shakes, adamant, as everything else evens out in pose and tone, and the softness returns to her eyes as determination. "I'm not ready to not believe in people again. So you can just take it or leave it."

There's a shrug in response from Gabriel — it seems clear that he isn't going to be reading into anything. She isn't trying to shoot him, kill him, maim him, or otherwise harm or end his life in someway (as hard as that would be, says a small voice in the back of his head), and he's taking that as evidence enough. Of course, he isn't operating under the illusions that she cares or even likes him at all — as far as he knows, and as far as he thinks, she probably despises him. The fact she hasn't strolled right out of the apartment confuses him, but it isn't a question he puts to words.

"You've gotten people killed," Gabriel echoes, a subtle shake of his head accompanying it, almost imperceptible. "I used to kill people. I think, taking everything into consideration, you're slightly better off than I am," he continues, eyes locking on hers again. He only seems to be able to hold eye contact for a moment or two — after that, he resumes looking out the window, or letting his eyes roam the apartment and take in the surroundings, looking at almost anything but her. "And it seems Peter's amnesia affected more than just me." Even at the thought of the amnesia and everything following it, Gabriel steals a glance at Daphne, just like so much else was stolen in that month.

As she begins to talk about how peter made her feel, rescuing her, another stab of guilt finds Gabriel… but as she says he ruined it, he can't help the bitter resentment that wells up inside of him, and he's unable to stop it from showing in his words. "Ruined it? Well, now you know how I felt when I lost Zelda." Even as he says it, a part of him regrets it, but another small, (perhaps more more than) part of him is satisfied. Even if she was a victim, a side effect of what he was trying to do to Peter, he can't help the… evil part of him, the part that won't go away, from feeling vindicated. Right. Justified. "I'm not asking you to believe in me — or even believe me. I'm surprised you're still here… not that you have to leave." There's no suggestion in his voice, no hope. He's simply offering her refuge. He allows his eyes to roam over her once, quickly, before he makes eye contact again. "You'll probably need some better clothes, though, like I said. Unless you want to keep wearing that."

A tight grimace checks itself at Daphne's mouth when her confessions are batted aside for his holding more weight. While he can't hold a gaze at her, she glares him right through. Her own words carry her on, though, past his justifications and a second eyeballing of her un-chosen outfit. That tingling, nervous sensation prickles her spine and causes her to wiggle her shoulders upwards oddly, as if puppet strings were compelling her to stand taller against the chill. For a bit, that keeps her lips dry and numb and she battles wariness to continue— and do so right out of the gates. "And, uh, yeah. Ruined it. So, boo hoo," she snaps off, "You're right you didn't ask me to, I asked you first. But that whole long-windedness you did on your own."

She unwinds her arms from each other to give a kind of swooping gesture into the space nearby. "And I don't want new clothes. I don't want to be out there— since I didn't even want to be here in the first place. But wallowing here in your own serial killerness, yeah, knock yourself out, but I'm not going to help you do it. So this— the conversation's over." And she forcefully snaps her mouth shut, sticks her chin in the air to shut her jaw most intently. The couple of angry first steps towards where she'd been standing before are about as far as she gets towards leaving, but she proudly makes it look as if that was the plan all along.

"Yeah, boo hoo," Gabriel says, snapping. Anger, bubbling just under the surface, begins to rise and take hold against his will. It's a funny situation they've found themselves in — kidnapped her, did all those things with her, thought he had seen the last of her or her precious Peter Petrelli — but still, here she is. He didn't ask her to be here, but with her attitude, he may as well take the blame since she seems keen on making it seem like it's his fault.

"I'm not wallowing in anything, I'm here to keep myself away from people. Us. Evolved, posthumans, whatever it is you want to call us, don't you understand? I always end up doing evil, like when I killed those poor people, or when I took Elle even when I was trying to be a better person, and if that's who I am, so be it. I can't help it, I don't care, I don't care if it's who I am, I'm sick and tired of this nonsense and this world world we were forced into. The world's always ending, there's always some crisis or someone is dying, someone always needs rescuing, and I was away from it all and I was happy, happy!, and then it was ruined!" His breathing his heavy after his little tirade, but even as he finishes he draws himself up to his full height, putting it behind him. "That's all and well, then," he says when she announces the conversation is over, a shrug rolling across his shoulders. Moving away from the couch, he strides over to the door and whips it open, one hand on the doorknob while the door stands open. His eyebrows are raised, lips pursed, and with a sweeping gesture, his expression could not scream 'So be it, then!' any further.

"Oh, you're totally wallowing, mister!" Daphne's finger stabbing a him accusingly, even though she backpedals with intense panic at his sudden approach. Her large eyes widened considerably, her chest heaving so obviously faster, it becomes painfully clear that much of the grounded speedster's bravado was— just that. Put on. It doesn't calm, either, after several seconds, and his sweeping clear instruction for her to leave. "… So are you talking about when you were with Zelda or— or w-with me?" A clear-cut question, she blusters on past it, instead. "Y-Yeah, well— you can't exactly sound indignant when— you've ruined other people's happiness, too. And I think you care more than you say— I think— "

Exactly what Daphne thinks, he will no longer be bothered with. What was meant to be a meaningful step forward from her is translated quite liberally when her body becomes the blur to which it is accustomed. Rushing winds and displaced papers abound a second time as the speedster unwittingly leans herself forward halfway across the country, with nothing in her wake but a disorganized room and a unfinished sentiments.

"What the hell does it matter to you?!" is Gabriel's retort, hand gripping the doorknob so tightly it's becoming painful. He's resisting the urge to throw her out of the apartment himself, but any advance on her might be misconstrued as a threat to her life (he highly doubts she'll see it any other way) and he isn't going to do that, at least. She may have hit home a little closer than he'd have liked her to when she says she thinks he cares more than he says. But isn't that the reason he's here? Everyone he's around gets hurt in some fashion — even if Daphne was his own, personal fault…

Shaking his head, he twists the doorknob slightly, the sound breaking his otherwise newfound silence. He waits for her to move, and with a sudden whoosh of sound and noise, she's gone. Some papers float down gently back into their resting places; others, they fall to the floor, mixing it with bits of watches and springs, a mess he'll have to clean up later when his anger has subsided. As soon as she's out the door, however, he slams it with a resounding crash, the frame splintering a little on the east side. Cursing at it, even though it's his own fault, he storms back over to the couch, kicking papers and watch pieces out of his way to throw himself down unceremoniously on the cushions and crossing his arms over his chest, looking very much like a sulking child.

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