Scene Title Hymns
Synopsis Eileen comes to after her confrontation with Danko in his apartment and discovers that she's in one of the places she least expected to be.
Date March 1, 2010

Ruins of Midtown

Pain, first. And then the cold. Registered in such a distant way that it won't immediately jolt Eileen awake, even as it washed numbly over her skin, clothing, against the curve of her brow. Can air freeze? Because this is what it's like, the open air of the wee hours of New York City, the first few crystal hours of spring, or what's supposed to be spring. At least Antarctica was honest about its chill. This just seems unfair.

The leather of a carseat sticks like adhesive to her cheek, memories ticking over. This is the first time consciousness has hedged back in, but not the first time her senses have been aware. The smell of Avi Epstein is— rather unfortunately— one she knows well enough, head tucked and rolling against a shoulder, and the glint of his glasses in streetlamps when her blurry eyes peek open. And again, this time right over her, Eileen smearily staring into her own warped reflection in the shine of glasses as she's laid down, bright lights washing in before she fades again.

Sharp clarity. She's crumpled on the back seat of a car, an open door near her head welcoming in the coldest of winds. There's no sound of an engine, no lights are on, and she's still bleeding.

The back seat of a car is not where Eileen wants to be. Neither is Avi Epstein — or the man behind his mask — who she wants to be with. Danko's tranquilizer takes some of the edge off the pain, reducing the gaping wound in her hand to a dull throb, but it does little to alleviate the sharp twinge she experiences in her back every time she breathes in and her ribcage expands.

Blood squeaks across leather. The Englishwoman turns her head to rest it against her shoulder like it had been resting against Epstein's— Gray's however long ago it was that she last opened her eyes. There's a lot she wants to say to him; unfortunately, she lacks the coordination to do something as simple as pulling herself upright, and even if she could successfully resynchronize her mind with her body, her tongue is feeling very thick and unwieldy in her mouth.

Forming the shape of his name with her lips, impossible. It doesn't matter which.

It doesn't matter what she says. This becomes clear as the dark interior of the car comes into view. The two front seats are devoid of people, and if she stretches her vision, she's see that the glass on the driver's side has been blown in through the side window, made into candy-frosting sugar along the edges of the window, glittering in crystals that could be knocked out the rest of the way with a fingerflick. There's blood, too, bright red streaks of it, not her own, spattered on the windshield in ruby marks. The opposite door is flung open too. A hasty escape made.

A final detail. Feathers. Small and soft and downy from a bird's breast, coal-like, and then some bigger, broken stalks litter the interior of the cab. One sticks in her hair, creates a jagged shape in her periphery like a tattered knife of obsidian before wind slithers through the car, sends it drifting to the felt-lined floor.

She's seen enough battles to know that she's in a field that held one. Even a small one.

Eileen's chest rises, falls, shudders with the effort required to lift her head again and angle a bleary look outside the hole in the side window for any signs of movement or life. Her breath creates an opaque cloud of silver vapour in the air that's quick to dissipate and diffuse into the black, only to be replaced by more of it the next time she exhales.

She manages to work her arm free and lift her hand, palm flat against the rear window as she summons the strength to straighten it and reach for the door handle with her other. Fear isn't an inappropriate emotion to be feeling — not just for her own well-being, but for the man who had presumably been sitting in the driver's seat.

She did not discover he survived Danko's assassination attempt just to lose him again. Stubborn refusal makes her face grotesque and gaunt, her skin so pale that the blood smeared across it stands out even in the dark and competes with the luminescent green of her eyes in terms of vibrancy and brightness of colour.

Gaunt fingers form a hooked clasp around the metal handle and with the last of her remaining strength pop the car door open.

Gravity and her forward momentum take her the rest of the way into the snow.

She's greeted by a bird. A dead one. Its neck is twisted around and beady eyes look through her rather than at her, legs in the air and wings crumpled, hidden in snow. Glass fragments glitter in the white. Wind skims over her, carries fine flurries of ice with it to tangle in her hair, and as she lifts her chin, the wider world comes into being.

Towards the north, 5th Avenue trails deeper into a hellish interpretation of Manhattan, damage even the snow can't cover. As the world rolls up, tips over, the looming skyscraper both she and the car are settled in front of seems big, too big, for a headache riddled mind, impossible. It's skeletal structure is exposed like steel and cement were as easily ripped away as flesh or paper, the southern back less ruined, almost resembling it for what it is.

Songs have been written about it, prophetic melodies about climbing waters. But as wind whistles through its gapped, scorched structure, the Empire State Building sings its own hymn. It's one of loneliness and mourning. Back down to earth, footprints in the snow are being scrubbed away almost before her eyes, a single set, staggering through the ice God knows how long ago. For one reason or another, she was left here.

And here she'll stay.

Eileen's eyes quiver shut, snowflakes gathering on her lashes and in her hair, creating the illusion of stars twinkling in the charcoal wool of her bloodstained coat and the clothes soaked in sweat she wears beneath it. There are none left in the sky; the cloud cover is too thick and the waning gibbous moon too weak penetrate it.

Final thought:

That which ends in exhaustion is death, but the perfect ending is in the endless.

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