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Prisoner Exchange

Title: Prisoner Exchange
Author: jaune_chat
Fandoms: Heroes, Dollhouse
Characters/Pairings: Noah Bennet, Sylar; Adelle DeWitt, Topher Brink
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: 2,566
Spoilers: All of S1 of Dollhouse, specific spoilers up to early S3 of Heroes with background information revealed in S4.
Warnings: Manipulation
Disclaimer: Heroes and Dollhouse belong to their respective creators
A/N: Written for just_drifting_6 for xover_exchange. Thanks to a_cook1 for betaing.
Summary: Adelle DeWitt gets a very unwanted guest that turns out to be a solution to both of their problems.



“I should have you shot.”

“Nice to see you again, too Adelle.”

Adelle considered her options, tapping a finger to her chin.

“You’re right. There are far worse things I can do now, and it would be a shame not to avail myself of professional courtesies.”

“You didn’t think you could hide forever. I know you too well.”

“Frankly, Noah, I’m surprised it took you this long.”

“I’ve been busy. So have you, from the rumors. I like what you’ve done with the office.” Noah nodded at the modern décor and warm colors, looking out the window at the view with appreciation.

“Your opinion is noted,” Adelle said coolly. She paused for a moment, mind working furiously, and covered her anger with her most gracious smile. “Well, since you’re here, and have gone through all the trouble of making an appointment, let us discuss options.”

“What options?” Noah asked.

Adelle merely smiled. “I have a house full of actives waiting to become whatever you want. Don’t give me that disapproving glare, Noah. You’re clearly searching for a special in the area, and you need more back-up than you have. I can have the perfect agent imprinted and ready to help you within hours.”

“I recall you used to be pretty good,” Noah said.

Adelle smile became sharp. “Well, I’m not on offer.”

“I don’t suppose you’d let someone be imprinted with you.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I’d probably try to kill you.”

Noah nodded in concession, but didn’t drop his slightly superior smile. “Then I suppose you’re not interested in this case.”

“I left the Company because I didn’t believe in the mission statement. So yes, I would be the definition of not interested.”

Noah, predictably, went ahead anyway.

“I believe you’ll recognize one of these people.” He tossed down a large envelope. Inside, Adelle found surveillance photographs, most of a dark-haired man with heavy eyebrows, but some -Adelle paused in her rifling through the stack- some showed the man talking with Alpha.

“I’ve been tracking him for months,” Noah said, tapping one of the pictures of the dark-haired man. “His name is Gabriel Gray, but he calls himself Sylar. Intuitive aptitude, figured out how to take other specials’ abilities by opening up their heads and examining their brains. He killed over two dozen people for their abilities, or because they were in his way. He was nearly killed a year ago and dropped out of sight until about five months ago. When he resurfaced, he seemed to have lost many of the abilities he’d acquired and has been on a shopping spree. Naturally, when I saw him talking to someone rather than killing him, I took a closer look.”

Adelle examined the pictures more closely. “These photos are three months old.”

“He vanished, and I’ve been trying to find him. The closest I’ve gotten is the other man. All the evidence of him points right here.”

“What evidence, pray tell?” Adelle asked sweetly.

Noah knew he shouldn’t tip his hand, but he clearly wanted to see how she’d react. “He was shadowing someone I eventually learned was an ex-FBI agent-.”

Ballard, Adelle realized instantly. He’d been more trouble than he was worth.

“And considering your own tendency for being so persuasive, I wasn’t too surprised to find you holding his leash.”

“Is there a point to this rambling narrative, Noah?” Adelle asked, her tone a careful study in boredom.

“I went looking for my target’s enemy.”

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Very clever.” The sarcasm could have been cut with a knife.

“Adelle, who is this person?”

She gave Noah another moment of silence before answering. “His name is Alpha.”

“He seems to know your operation very well.”

“He was an unfortunate anomaly,” Adelle said tightly.

“He caused quite a few problems for you, didn’t he?” Noah asked.

Adelle cursed silently. Of course he’d managed to find information on Alpha. She wondered who the Company had gotten in the years since she’d left. Telepath? Technopath? Or something more exotic?

“Problems which were resolved,” Adelle said coolly.

“But you never did catch him.”

“And you’re offering to help, I suppose.”

“I believe he’s planning something with Sylar. Alpha might be incredibly intelligent, but Sylar has a lot of raw power on his side. The two of them together… you are not prepared to defend against what Sylar is capable of, particularly not under the direction of someone like Alpha,” Noah said, his expression dark.

“As I said, Alpha was an anomaly. If I had been there on the floor that day, things would have never gotten out of hand. Besides, we are set up to handle a wide variety of unusual situations now.”

Noah paused, shocked, and closed in eyes momentarily in something like pain. “You didn’t.”

“It keeps the specials off the streets and away from you,” Adelle said acidly. “We can set up a training routine to get their abilities under control in a single imprint, if necessary. We don’t have many specials as actives, of course, but they’ve been very useful. My staff enjoys the challenge.”

“Do your superiors know? Damnit Adelle, the whole point of the Company was to hide the existence of-.”

“People like me? I do know how the Company works, from both sides. My employer is far more interested in the mind than the body. They could care less who is in my House, as long as they perform.”

“Fine.” Noah was forcibly not grinding his teeth. “But Sylar is far beyond anything you’ve ever seen. He’s gone up against groups of some of the most powerful specials I’ve seen and survived too many things that should have killed him. You need my help to protect your ‘House.’”

“I know you, Noah. Claude and I were friends. And I don’t believe you’re going to break Company protocol for this one rogue special. You’re far too by-the-book to risk working with me, unless this man was far more than your enemy. You’re hoping Sylar comes here. You want him to take the bait and come within your grasp in my Dollhouse, where he can be contained. The fact that I’m at ground zero in this little scuffle is just icing on the cake, isn’t it?”

Noah’s eyes looked stormy, but he was keeping a calm façade.

“You’ve been quite the naughty boy, haven’t you Noah?”

“Sylar has. He’s as much of a monster as Alpha, with far more tricks up his sleeve than a blade and programming skills. I’m trying to help you, Adelle,” Noah said.

Adelle let her face harden as she laid a few more cards out on the table. “Oh, Sylar’s a catalyst for change, no doubt about that. But you defying Company orders for the sake of your adopted daughter? Taking a new identity to try to keep her safe? Interfering with Angela Petrelli’s grand plan? And even killing Thompson.” Adelle shook her head, smiling a bit. “He always was a bastard.”

“You don’t sound that surprised.”

“I was Lauren’s partner before I left. She kept throwing out hints to you and you kept quietly shutting her down every time. Most agents would have given in just for a change of scenery, or simply to keep the peace at work. But you wouldn’t betray your family. I could see that chink in your armor that Lauren never could understand. That’s why you’re here now. Sylar hurt your family, didn’t he?” Adelle asked.

A moment of black rage flashed across Noah’s face, far more disturbing than anything she’d ever seen on Alpha. And in a way, it was far more gratifying.

“He needs to pay for what he did,” Noah said, his voice dead even.

Adelle looked thoughtful for a moment. “What if he paid in here?”

“As a Doll?” Noah looked startled, then thoughtful, and finally nodded. “He has cellular regeneration now. Are you sure he wouldn’t be able to regain his memories?”

“Not if he thinks we have his best interests at heart. I’m remarkably good as persuasion,” Adelle said.

Noah nodded in concession. “Now, we need to get Alpha in here so we can find Sylar.”

“I have an idea, if you’ll let me. I think one of our actives will be able to lure Alpha close, if he believes he can tamper with their imprint to cause us some problems. Once there, we can track him back to wherever Alpha is hiding. He needs room for the computers to make and modify imprints. Alpha will have to contact Sylar once he gets the information from the active so they can try to get in here. Then we’ll have them both. Particularly if the active has seen you; then Sylar will know we’re quite serious.”

Noah looked thoughtful, and extended his hand. “Then I’d call that a deal.”

Adelle smiled and rose from her seat. “Come. I want to introduce you to the active we’ll be using.”

Noah looked slightly suspicious, but followed her to the elevator. She dialed a phone as they descended, telling someone called “Mr. Brink” to “prepare Zulu for his new handler.”

Adelle hung up and turned to Noah, seemingly quite relaxed. “What would you say are Sylar’s reasons for killing?”

Noah raised an eyebrow and repressed a very small flinch. “He wants to be special. He always thought he was… never enough. So now he grasps after all the power he can, and kills to get it.”

“He wants to be wanted,” Adelle stated. “Alpha is different. He was a killer before he became a Doll. He wants to hurt other people. He revels in it. That’s the difference between them. That’s what makes Sylar different. Reachable.”

“What did you say?” Noah demanded. The elevator doors opened, and Adelle walked briskly along the balcony, seemingly ignoring the Dolls criss-crossing the floor below, until she’d entered a room ringed with computer consoles, the imprinting chair in the middle. Zulu was already seated in it, looking around in the blankly curious fashion of all Dolls. Topher stood by the input screen, fiddling with one thing or another.

The minute Noah saw Zulu, Adele braced herself for a bad reaction. The man in the chair, with his lanky build and heavy eyebrows, had clearly not been Zulu for long.

“You knew. You already knew,” Noah said quietly, menace in his voice.

“He was killing off more of my people than yours, Noah. I want him contained as much as you do.”

Noah took a single deep breath and let it out slowly. “And Alpha has been killing more of my people than yours.”

“Then we understand each other?”

Noah nodded, and took a few steps back, leaning against the wall so he’d have a good viewing of the proceedings. Adelle nodded to Topher as she stepped forward to take Zulu’s hand.

Light pulsed from the chair, haloing Zulu’s head and hands as Adelle began to speak.

“Do you trust me?” she asked gently.

“With my life,” Zulu responded without hesitation, holding her hand firmly.

Noah watched with fascination as Adelle became the focus of Zulu’s empty world, a child clinging to his mother’s presence in the dark. She knew, from the files she’d seen and from what Noah had told her, that in a strange way, this was what Sylar had always wanted.

“Mr. Brink, give Zulu back his original imprint,” Adelle ordered, ignoring the involuntary squeak of protest from Topher as he gingerly slid the wedge into the back of the chair. He all but ran from the room as the chair lit up again, pouring Sylar back into Zulu. A few minutes later, dark intelligence and awareness flooded Zulu’s eyes, and Sylar sat up in the chair, glaring at Noah.

“Sylar,” Noah said almost casually, nodding in his direction.

“What’s he doing here?” Sylar demanded, his free hand twitching in a barely-repressed desire to mentally slam Noah Bennet into a wall. She couldn’t blame him; Adelle had felt the same way more than once. “You said I wouldn’t have to remember!”

“Except for once. This is that once. You agreed you were tired of people lying to your face and then manipulating you for your own purposes,” Adelle said.

“And you couldn’t escape that, even after getting as far away from the Company as possible,” Noah said, picking up on Adelle’s meaning with admirable swiftness. “You thought you’d found another kindred spirit in Alpha, didn’t you? But he didn’t want you for who you were. He wanted someone in here, didn’t he?”

Admirable swiftness, or more of his illicit mining of her computer databases, Adelle corrected mentally.

Sylar’s hand did twitch enough to bounce Noah’s head off the wall with some small force. “Just the latest in a long line of manipulating bastards,” Sylar said tightly.

“Then this is the payback I promised you. He wants to activate you in here to destroy the House and bring out his prizes. Go to Alpha, bring him here, and let us deal with him once and for all,” Adelle said soothingly, letting warmth and a feeling of rightness at her ideas seep into Sylar’s heart and mind through their combined hands. Sylar stayed his second twitch of the hand, and stood up swiftly, glaring at Noah, then her, each in turn.

“Then you can come back,” she promised.

“And as long as you stay ‘back,’ and out of my way, I’ll leave you alone,” Noah promised, his tone a little aggravated by the goose egg undoubtedly forming on the back of his head.

“Fine!” Sylar all but snarled, and turned to grab the clothing Topher had left near the chair.

Adelle and Noah withdrew while Sylar armored himself in his old clothing, Noah’s face a study in incredulity. “How the hell did you get him to willingly submit to this?”

“It’s the opposite of the Company. They lie to your face and manipulate you in ways you can’t even detect. We tell the truth, that we will blatantly manipulate you, and those who buy you will love the truth of those manipulations. Sylar knows that he’ll be wanted and needed as long as he stays. He certainly wasn’t getting much use out of either Gabriel or Sylar, was he?”

“And Alpha? I very much doubt, despite your touch persuasion, that he’ll let Sylar return here. You said there’s too much he wants in here to give up now.”

“Don’t you see your part in this? I need a substantial distraction for someone like Alpha, once Sylar can get him immobilized enough for us to talk without having to worry about being sliced to ribbons. He’s a psychopath, but he’s valuable.”

Noah sighed. “If he’s as much of a manipulator as you say, then the Company would be the best place for him.”

“May Angela Petrelli have the joy of him. I just want him out of my hair,” Adelle said. “Provided you can convince him it’s in his best interest.”

Noah raised an eyebrow at that challenge. “I think I’ll surprise you.”

“You already have,” Adelle said softly. Noah looked at her questioningly. “My family,” she said, waving her hand at the Dolls and staff below. “Alpha hurt my family.”

Understanding flashed across Noah’s face as Sylar emerged from the room. Adelle nodded them to the elevator, preceding her partner inside as they both prepared to keep their families safe.

-END-

Prompt: Dollhouse/Heroes Scenario: Adelle used to work for the Company. She must admit, she’s surprised it’s taken this long for them to catch up to her.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
raissad
Nov. 25th, 2010 04:37 pm (UTC)
Excellent. :)
jaune_chat
Nov. 26th, 2010 09:57 am (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it. :)
juliet316
Nov. 25th, 2010 05:48 pm (UTC)
Interesting twisty story.
jaune_chat
Nov. 26th, 2010 09:57 am (UTC)
Thanks for commenting! I'm pleased you enjoyed the story. :)
(Anonymous)
Jan. 17th, 2011 09:36 am (UTC)
painter 11
wow. that was pretty awesome. they just keep getting better and better!
jaune_chat
Jan. 17th, 2011 12:51 pm (UTC)
Re: painter 11
I'm glad you liked the story!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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