Zero

Chapter Seven

If she weren't so preoccupied with her freezing cold body from the rain outside or supporting the frame of her incapacitated friend, Scout might have considered the irony of Sanctuary. The world had been torn asunder by gang warfare and crime, stripping countries of their organization and power. And yet, there she was, outside a cathedral, still structurally sound, seeking refuge. It was still Sanctuary to those who were hiding from persecution, though it had long been abandoned. There were still a few good people in the world out there, and this church happened to be the residency of a few of them.

As Scout rapped heavily on the splintered wood door in the back of the cathedral, she glanced around her once. If Finders were on her tail, she didn't want to lead them here. She had been careful, but still, there was only so careful one could be when supporting a friend that was barely hanging on to consciousness.

Scout stole a glance at Riley. His face was covered with cuts from the metal shards, some deeper than others. The mask of blood snaking about his face was a grisly image. He would never look the same again.

Finally, the door creaked ajar. A pair of bright blue eyes greeted them through the small opening.

"I plead for Sanctuary," Scout said.

The eyes traveled to Riley's face, then nodded. The door opened all the way, and Scout traveled in with Riley in tow.

The interior of the cathedral hadn't changed much, either. The corridor they were in was dominated by heavy tapestries and stain-glass windows. Scout regarded the figure that had let them in. It was a thin, wide-eyed girl with countless freckles that reminded Scout a disturbingly great amount of herself when she was younger.

"Is there anyone with medical knowledge or abilities? My friend--"

"This way," the girl responded abruptly, waving Scout along down the corridor. They descended a flight of stairs and passed a few more doors before stepping into a small room lit by a single lamp.

In the room there was a sterile white hospital bed. Scout heaved Riley onto it, and he groaned as his back settled into the hard mattress.

"Wait here," the girl said. She was gone before Scout could question her.

For the first time since the night before, Scout caught her breath. She stared at Riley's shoes, eager to avoid his face—or, rather, what was left of it. The room smelled like sterilized needles. It made her dizzy.

She should have left sooner. She had spent too much time relishing her victory over the Wolf, too much time watching him bleed, while Riley writhed in agony. Her blood lust was undeniably a part of her; this she had known since the first time she saw a car accident as a child. But the fact that it had come first in her mind before the well being of her partner and friend—hell, her only friendshook up her stomach and made her feel like vomiting.

The girl returned, with a beefy, skyscraping man in tow. He had crooked eye and was carrying a doctor's bag. Scout eyed him.

"Who are you?"

He grunted something like a laugh. "I'm here to help you, and all I get is a question of identity. People these days, they just don't trust anyone."

You say that like you're surprised, Scout thought to herself. The man shuffled over to the bed where Riley was lying, and pulled over a chair.

"What happened to him?"

Scout paused. "He was hit by shards of metal. They flew into his face."

The man bent over Riley, pulling on some latex gloves and a face mask. He unfolded a bright lamp that had been tucked behind the bed and peered into Riley's skin.

"I see what you mean. Nasty little things are still embedded in there."

"Who are you?" Scout asked again.

He grunted, pulling more instruments out of his bag.

"He's called Mend," the green-eyed girl spoke. Scout had all but forgotten she was there.

Mend, Scout thought. Unusual, but she liked it. It was a self-explanatory name, like her own.

"Hey, you," Mend said. Scout opened her mouth to respond but realized it wasn't her he was speaking to; it was Riley. "I need you to answer some questions for me. So don't get all unconscious on me. Mmkay?"

Riley groaned in response.

"Can you see?"

It was a moment before Riley answered. "Are my eyes open?"

Mend answered, "Yes."

Scout's nails dug into her palms. He couldn't see. He couldn't see. Fury started to swirl in her stomach.

Mend pulled a long pair of tweezers out of his bag, and held Riley's head still by his hair. "Now, this is going to hurt like hell. Just so you know."

As Scout watched Mend pluck the metal shards free of his skin, her mind became blind white anger. She felt the need from revenge intoxicate her. The only problem was, she didn't know who to feel anger for. The Finders? They caused his injury. Sylar? He could have stopped it. Or herself? She sated her blood lust while Riley was gripped in iron-like pain.

She inadvertently thought about the Wolf's dead face forever carved into a grin, and she knew if she faced the same situation again, things were turn out the exact same way.

She swiftly left the room, Riley's cries of pain trailing behind her. She ascended the stairs, needing to find a place to clear her head. She went up and up, past the main floor, until she reached the bell tower.

She leaned across the stones, peering at the carcass of New York City sprawled out in front of her. The world smelled like ashes. She savored it.

"And I half expected you to be up here screaming your little head off about your friend," remarked a cool voice behind her.

Quick as lightning, Scout pulled a blade from her pocket and wheeled around. When she saw who it was, she only pushed the blade harder against his chest.

"Why did you follow me?" Scout snarled.

Sylar smirked. "Well, let's put it like this. I found your little display back at that pathetic hole in the ground you called home quite intriguing."

"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't cut out your heart."

"Well, for one, another one would grow right back in its place," Sylar quipped. "Two, I can do this." The blade flew out of Scout's had and clattered onto the rooftop below.

Sylar grinned as Scout watched the knife fall. "You seem to have some interesting sets of double standards, Jane."

"Scout." Her eyes flashed darkly.

"Fine, have it your way. Scout. What's in a name, anyway?"

"You tell me, Gabriel."

"I'd rather talk about you right now." Sylar took a step closer to her, hoping to see panic in her eyes. He was unsatisfied. "Tell me, Scout, why is it that you fight to keep powers from being sold on the street, when you've obviously shot up yourself? Tell me, Scout, why you are so insistent on teamwork when you would rather carve up a body than rush your ailing partner to aid?" His dark eyes were close to hers, and he detected the slightest glimmer of hesitation. Not fear, but it was close enough. He lowered his voice. "Tell me, Scout, how can you be a hero when you get such joy out of making people bleed?"

Her fist hammered into his jaw, maintaining her cool all the while. Sylar chortled, rubbing his jaw and turning back towards her. "The truth is painful, isn't it?"

"Seems to me you're the one in pain," Scout retorted, rubbing her knuckles. "What do you hope to accomplish by this? Or is this just some kind of sick pastime of yours? You're immortal. I bet you have run out of regular hobbies by now."

"You're trying to distract me. How charming." Sylar laughed again. "You can't even bare to face yourself, can you?"

"Of course I can," Scout spat. "I know who I am. I know the choices I've made."

"Then let me ask you this. Do you think you're a hero, the way you're carrying on?"

Scout's eyes were narrow slits. "I never pretended to be one."

"But you think you're doing good things, don't you?" The amusement was clear on his face. He wanted to make Scout crack, to see that inhuman part of her come out again.

"Because I do do good things." Scout's voice was a hiss now. "I prevent people from making the worst mistakes they could make. Getting an ability."

Sylar raised an eyebrow.

"I do bad things, too. Am I a good person, or a bad person? Hell if I know, hell if I care. I just do what I think is right,"

"Is that so? Are you sure that's your only motive?"

Scout's expression remained dark, but her eyes betrayed a glimmer of curiosity. She said nothing.

"You and I have more in common than you'd like to acknowledge, Scout," Sylar smirked. "We both have more than one power, we both do what is best for ourselves, and we both enjoy heads rolling."

Scout's muscles tensed. She wanted nothing more right then than to throw him off that bell tower, disgusted at the fact that everything he had said was true.

"So?" She simply responded.

"So you admit it. You don't do what you do because it's right. It's because it works for you. It serves you well."

"That's not what I meant."

"Isn't it?" Sylar turned away from her, smiling. He admired the New York skyline. It looked better this way, half-way collapsed and derelict. "If the situation changed and it became easier to be one of them, I don't think you'd hesitate."

Scout cocked her head to one side. She knew he was right. She didn't fight dealers because her sense of justice compelled her to; she did it because she found it thrilling, and it was the outcome that had fallen into place after she met Riley. But the fact that he was right, that he had been able to discern so much about her when they had interacted so little, perturbed her.

"I know who I am, Sylar. So tell me what you want, or fuck off."

He laughed again, that demeaning chortle that was starting to seriously irritate Scout. He seemed to find irony hysterical. Turning back towards her, he replied, "You have some admirable talents, Scout. Your emotional manipulation ability is, to be honest, fascinating. I think if we worked together, we could really make a difference in the world"

Now it was her turn to laugh. "You can't be serious. Why the hell would I abandon a perfectly good companion like Riley to join up with you when I know you'll kill me the second I let my guard down?"

"Do you ever let your guard down?"

Scout sniffed. "That's not the point. The point is that you have nothing that I want that could possibly make me want to help you with whatever it is you want to do." She paused. "What is it you want to do, anyway?"

Sylar stepped towards her. "I was hoping you would ask. I've discovered that some old...acquaintances of mine have returned to the present. Acquaintances I would rather like to slice apart. Some of them are more powerful than others. But with your abilities, they couldn't possibly stop us." He flashed a cruel smile. "And your 'partner' is now injured. How will it serve you to just wait around while he recuperates? If he does at all?"

"I care about Riley. I owe him my life," Scout said. "You can't possibly offer me something more important than that."

Sylar pretended to frown. "We'll see." He flicked his wrist, and Scout's blade flew back into his hand from where it had fallen on the roof. He gripped the handle and brought the knife to his other palm. With one exact slice, he cut his skin apart.

Scout watched in utter fascination as his skin split apart and carmine blood bubbled up around the wound. Then, his skin pulled together again, leaving behind a river of crimson in his palm.

Scout's eyes traveled up to meet Sylar's. "So what? I help you and then you let me carve you up as a reward? How pathetic do you think I am?"

"I don't know you that well, Scout," Sylar smirked, wiping his hand on his jeans. "What means more to you? A useless friend with sub-par abilities, or being able to make someone bleed whenever you want?"

Scout opened her mouth to speak, but couldn't think of anything to say. She couldn't let him talk her into this. She adored Riley; she really did. He was reliable and sound, and his abilities were really quite handy. She owed him her sanity. But Sylar was powerful. He could accomplish anything he wanted to. He could bleed forever. She could get his abilities from him. She knew how to extract them from someone's blood. Her bag of vials was still lying on the floor of the bedroom where Riley and Mend were. They didn't mean anything compared to what she could get from Sylar.

He was right. She wanted to do what would benefit herself the most. She felt her loyalty to Riley weakening.

"Why me?" Scout sneered between clenched teeth.

"Like I said, you're abilities are quite useful. And we do have a lot in common."

Scout turned away from him and turned towards the stairs. She didn't want him to see it on her face that she knew he was right. "Go to hell."

"So you'll think about it," Sylar said.

Scout let the door click shut behind her, a fuming mess of conflicting voices pounding in her head.

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A/N: Phew! This took me FOREVER to churn out. Bleh. I'm none too happy with the finished result, either. The next chapter is going to be Riley-centric, but after that, Hiro, Peter and co. are going to be playing a much bigger part in this story. Sorry for the lack of them in this chapter. I just couldn't think of anything for them to be doing right now.

Time for thanks! Thanks to: night-star-93, Shadeslayer390, Nicco1395, KaraxLavi13, wsand, and NexCireneg for reviewing! Seriously, I do it all for you guys. 3 I love all of your comments and consider all of them seriously, so thanks a bunch for all your help! :) Keep it coming.

Well, that's all for now. Chapters are probably going to be coming a bit more slowly now. I'm trying to organize my stories in my head. There is a lot going on up there right now. I also need to really figure out where this is going, because I honestly have no idea.

Thanks for reading! See you next chapter!