Rhetorical Conversation


aviators2_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif

Scene Title Rhetorical Conversation
Synopsis Madagascar, Antananarivo, Muspelheim, General Edmond Rasoul's lost pregnancy farm — just a few topics of conversation that arise when Aviators checks in on one of the government's recent parolees.
Date February 2, 2010

Fort Greene — Eileen's Apartment

Original hardwood floors and a pair of French doors painted black are the most prominent features of the living space, which has been sparsely furnished with loveseat, cozy chaise, built-in bookshelves and various pieces of smaller furniture to make it feel like more of a home, including a dining table for two and claw-foot chairs. The walls, like the radiator, have been painted white to contrast with the rich colour of the floors and the cabinetry in the modest kitchen, just large enough to fit one person comfortably.

The French doors separate the bedroom from the rest of the apartment. Like the living room and kitchen, it has been decorated with simplicity in mind. The bed itself is a queen-sized platform that takes up most of the space and is covered in a white goose feather comforter for warmth in the winter. A steamer trunk filled with clothes sits at the foot of the bed in lieu of a dresser — there just isn't enough room for anything else except for an antique vanity, its mirror badly water-stained and in dire need of repair or replacement.

For someone who threatened to choke the life out of the individual responsible for Danko's assassination of Gabriel Gray only a few days earlier, Eileen has been surprisingly docile — but venomous snakes can be docile, too. Between innocuous movements and largely inconspicuous interactions with other people, there is little to no evidence to suggest that she's in any position to be seeking vengeance; the only observable behaviour her handlers might be able to identify as suspicious involves a long absence over the weekend that did not break, to anyone's knowledge, the conditions of her pardon.

This is good news for Aviators if what he told her about his paycheck is true. Miss Spurling goes on living and the man with no name continues to accumulate money he can set aside for his retirement fund. As long as he doesn't discover the broken pistol she keeps hidden under the floorboards of her apartment, awaiting repair, or her clandestine meetings with Jensen Raith, the arrangement works well for both of them.

It's late evening by the time she arrives home after classes at Columbia. The sun has just finished setting, leaving a bruised horizon where the last of its light still lingers and glows hazy shades of burnt orange and dark purple. Her keys jingle in the door, the lock turns and a moment later — just as the sky is turning black — the Briton's slim silhouette appears in its frame, her dark hair and the woolen material of her coat peppered with a light sprinkling of snow.

She'd told "Aviators" once that he has no right to tresspass into her home, and he'd given her a somewhat toothy smile in response. Much the same Cheshire smile is awaiting Eileen when her apartment door opens, and that very same man is sitting in the dining room at her table, at her preferred seat, eating a bowl of cereal presumably from her cabinet. Her spoon is slowly pulled from his mouth, wiped clean by chapped lips as his brows raise over the frames of his sunglasses and head slowly quirks to the side.

"How was school?" Aviators asks with a pleased smile, laying the spoon back down in his nearly finished bowl. "Do you really enjoy eating all this whole grain nonsense? Doesn't it bore you?" He lets the handle of the spoon clink noisily up against the side of the bowl as he sets it down, hands up and gesticulating as he speaks, leaning back with a creak of wood in her chair.

Eileen does not bother to attempt to conceal her displeasure. Neither, though, is she surprised — he's her parole officer, and while she doesn't like the fact that he of all people is lording over her, she's come to anticipate his presence on days when she'd rather be alone. One thing that makes the situation bearable is the knowledge that tonight's visit means it will probably be several days before she has to endure the next.

She removes her shoes at the front door, nudging it shut with her hip, and moves across the apartment in her stockinged feet, causing the floorboards to protest under the combined weight of her body and the textbooks she's carrying in her arms. "You're not supposed to eat it cold," she says, voice tight, "or without honey. Try helping yourself to the blueberries in the freezer next time."

It's difficult to gauge whether she's being serious or just sardonic.

"You can heat up a bag'a dog shit too." Aviators notes with a raise of his brows, pushing the bowl forward across the table, "just makes it warm dog shit." Gracefully rising up from his chair, he's smoothing out the wrinkles in the front of his shirt, casting a crooked stare towards Eileen as he watches her move across the apartment with a scrutinizing stare, listening to the creak and groan of the floor in quiet protest under her delicate footsteps.

His attention turns for a moment to the direction of the bathroom door, then back towards Eileen. Something seems disappointed in his expression; perhaps he was expecting to find drug paraphenalia in her underwear drawer, or perhaps he was expecting to find something more salacious in there too. "So… you seem to be adapting to banality pretty well. I didn't figure you for that type of girl." Tucking his hands into the pockets of his denim pants, Aviators pushes his seat back in towards the table with one snake-skin boot.

"I guess when you don't have a whole lot else to live for banality's all you can get, ain't it?" A smile creeps across the tall man's lips, and he begins following behind Eileen at meandering pace.

"I'm beginning to think I should apply for a job with the CIA when I finish my degree," Eileen says, placing her textbooks on the kitchen counter with the spines facing away, making it impossible for Aviators to view the titles beneath the topmost tome. He knows what she keeps in what passes for her underwear drawer — he doesn't have to know what subjects she's chosen to study this semester. "Six figures just to break into people's homes and insult their taste in breakfast cereal. Just imagine what someone with talent could earn."

She can play this game, too, but the weariness of her tone makes it clear she isn't in the mood to. Removing her coat exposes the winter clothes beneath it: a dark gray cardigan worn over a plain white blouse and a black skirt that cuts off just above the knee. The only splash of colour the outfit contains is the red carnation pinned to the cardigan, and even that is wilting.

"Adorable." Aviators grouses from behind Eileen, shoulders hunched forward and the fabric of his dark shirt crinkling at the collar from the posture. "Ask Jensen sometime about Afghanistan. The four of us might not have had the jolly old time that you and your terrorist buddies had killing the innocent, but you don't get to be where I am without some level of sacrifice." Something in Aviators comment seems to indicate a test of sorts, like he's just pushing her to mis-step and screw up.

"Your skirt's not short enough," Aviators adds after a moment of lecherous peering through the darkened lenses of his sunglasses. "Regulation skirts need to be mid thigh or higher, I might have to put this in my report." Then, after only a moment of straight-faced delivery Aviators cracks a smile and shrugs his shoulders. "Who'm I kidding I don't write fucking reports." He turns on his heels, hands still in his pockets, stalking across the apartment back towards the kitchen. "You're clean enough I guess. See you same time next week?"

His tone of voice indicates that — perhaps surprisingly — he's bored of harassing her.

If he's pushing her to mis-step, he isn't pushing quite hard enough. There's a moment where the tension in Eileen's shoulders is almost palpable without needing to touch her, but Aviators is moving away again before she has the opportunity to release whatever nervous energy is roiling around inside of her. She turns her head just enough to watch him go, and it isn't until he's within a few paces of the door that she makes the decision to try drawing him back into the apartment.

"Antananarivo," she says. "Muspelheim. I want to talk." There's a distinct difference between want and need, and while one definitely a stronger choice than the other, she hesitates to say anything that would put herself in a position more undesirable than the one she's already in. "I've only seen you twice since they airlifted us out."

Suddenly he's not so bored anymore.

"Those're some mighty big words," Aviators notes with a crook of his head to the side, eyes angling to look at Eileen askance. "It's a smoking, burning, hole in the ground. Maybe there's some dirty people there trying to scrape together the shit-caked scrap heap of a society that the Vanguard turned it into, maybe they all swam away from the island like rats on a sinking ship." He turns to face her fully, shoulders squared and standing a little bit taller, but he hasn't even so much as made it as far as where his jacket is hung by the door.

"I take it you didn't just want to know how the dirt-eating locals were doing?" He's just trying to push her buttons now. "Or is self-flagellation about your little terrorist kill-squad's bad deeds some sort've therapy thing I haven't heard about yet?"

One hand drifts down to Eileen's stomach, fingers splayed across her lower abdomen and the cashmere weave of her cardigan. It's one of those gestures like touching her face or brushing an errant strand of hair behind her ear that's more instinctive than a conscious choice. Chances are she doesn't realize she's doing it and won't unless Aviators decides to direct her attention that way.

She's been paying attention to the news — even if she didn't have a folder of news clippings all related to the Malagasy situation, it would be almost impossible for her not to. You can't turn on the radio or sift through the morning paper without a reminder about what's happening there, not when the American military is officially occupying foreign soil.

This would be easier if asking him to stay didn't make her feel sicker than she already does. "Would you sit down?" she asks, steering a look back toward the kitchen table. Then; "Please? I can put some coffee on."

A tired sigh is his response, that and the languid way he lowers his eyes down to the kitchen table, not that she can see the latter of the two. "Why?" When his focus is back on Eileen, it seems sharper, more impatient. "What makes you think I want to sit down here and have a conversation with you? What makes you think for one second that I believe you want to have anything resembling a civil conversation with me?" There's a sneer in Aviators' expression, mostly hidden by his sunglasses. "You sit down and tell me whatever the fuck it is you want to, and then," he waves his hand towards the door, "I'll tell you whatever bullshit answer you want to hear, and I go on my fucking way."

The hand motioning to the door slowly drops down towards Aviators' side. "There's a reason I didn't tell you my name, why I don't stick around after curfew, why I don't give a shit." He manages to feign a smirk. "Or wait, no, my not giving a shit is exactly the reason. So do what you gotta do and say what you gotta say and let me get the fuck out of your hair."

"I don't want a bullshit answer," Eileen snaps back, and Aviators can almost hear her patience beginning to fray, unravel. He's right about her not wanting to have a civil conversation with him — she liked him better with his eye out. "I went on ahead with the expectation that those women would be unhooked from that machine and given medical care before being reunited with their families. It's been over a month and I haven't heard anything about what happened to them."

Her hand drops from her abdomen, fingers curling into a tight fist that digs nails into the soft skin of her palm. "Don't you fucking tell me that it isn't any of my business. I know your name." And she spits it. The last time it left her lips was when she was attempting to soothe him in the ruins of Mandritsara — not that she expects him to remember. He'd been so far gone then. "I'm going to you because you and Sanderson are the only people with the government who I have even the slightest bit of trust for. Do us both a favour and try not to ruin it more than you already have."

"Wish in one hand and shit in another Spurling. All you're going to get is a bullshit answer. I didn't give two fucking shits about that rotten mudhole country and I was pretty happy to be gone from it when the choppers took off." Quirking his head to the side, Aviators just smiles crookedly and shakes his head from side to side. "I don't know what the fuck happened to anything in that country and frankly I don't give a shit. I know ol' Doctor German got plucked outta' there and air-lifted off the carrier the day after by spooks with bigger paychecks than me. I know that little scrappy fucker Danko did his job right as rain on that shit-hole island."

But then Aviators cuts himself off, waving a hand in the air, then taking a step back. "No, you know what? You need to have a nice cup of shut the fuck up. I'm not playing telephone with you, because that isn't part of our arrangement. I don't know— and don't care— what the fuck happened on craphole island."

Leaning forward and looking over the frames of his glasses, Aviators makes eye contact with Eileen, brows furrowed. "Don't think just because I let you sew my empty socket shut that you get a free ride with me, Spurling. The sooner you forget what happened over on Madagascar, the happier your little whole wheat, tofu salad, boring as fuck life will be."

Eileen almost never raises her voice above a certain threshold. Although not related by blood, this is one of the things that she and Kazimir Volken had in common — on the rare occasions that she does, she goes so far beyond what's normal for her that she sounds like a different person entirely. The solitary thread that had been holding her together snaps with the abruptness of a needle skidding across a vinyl record, and all at once she explodes into a thunderous shout.

"What do you want from me?" she demands, the accusation coming out at a volume much louder than someone her size should be able to produce, and without any of the accompanying shrillness that Aviators might be expecting from a woman. "Sex? Because if that's what it's going to take to get you to cooperate, I'll let you bend me over the bloody table right now! You can even keep my dripping knickers as a souvenir when we're done!"

She's too furious to mean the words that she's assaulting him with, but that doesn't stop her from going red in face, cheeks mottled where the blood is flushing through the tissue, creating ugly pink splotches that are the furthest thing from attractive. Even Sylar never saw her quite like this. "Come on! You and Jensen can have a little laugh about it the next time you get together to compare the size of your dicks! Oh, Eileen. What a useless little slut she is. She can't even get anyone to give her a straight answer without spreading her fucking legs!"

It is with delicate and careful precision that Aviators navigates the emotional waters of Eileen's particular maelstrom. He moves forward, one hand still in the pockets of his slacks, the other out at his side and gingerly nudging a chair away from himself as he clears the short distance between the two. It's cramped quarters, between the kitchen table and the wall, and Aviators' shadow is muted against the paint where it is cast by a distant lamp. His sunglasses angle a dark reflection of Eileen down at her as he looms over the short young woman, watching her in silence even after her words have stopped.

Somehow his posture seems different, his brows seem less tense, and that free hand of his finds her hair in distracted fashion. Thick fingers wind around one dark lock, then as he leans in closer towards her, it is only to brush back the hair from her ear so that he can bring his mouth nearby to it. Breath is felt on the flushed skin of her ear, and Aviators voice is a growl of murmuring tones.

"I'm not your dead boyfriend."

"No," Eileen agrees, and though her voice drops in volume to match his, it loses none of its intensity. All her energy is being siphoned into the arduous task of reining her temper back in as her throat works furiously to control her vocal chords and the rhythm of her breathing. "Gabriel was a better man at thirty than you are now or ever will be."

Her jaw is set, the muscles in her face clenched around an expression that can only be described as wretched. She exhausted all the tears she had to shed in Peter's arms — all that's left is a desolate embodiment of her grief. Eileen is a desert; harsh, barren and entirely unforgiving. Impervious to touch, she does not so much as flinch at the fingers in her hair or the heat of his breath curling across her neck. Gabriel used to do that. The fact does not escape her.

"It should have been you at that door," she hisses. "Danko should have blown your heart apart instead of his."

"Sylar was a self-serving monster," Aviators utters in guttural tone against the side of Eileen's face, "the world was done a service when he was killed." Eyes narrow behind the lenses of his glasses, and as Aviators leans back, he cradles Eileen's chin in one hand, lifting her jaw up so she's got a good look at him. "But if I was in the doorway, back then, I wouldn't have taken a bullet. I'm not one of you, am I?" He insinuates with a crooked smile, letting his calloused fingers fall away from her far more delicate skin.

"Besides, he wasn't ordered to kill me. Quite the opposite actually," Aviators turns his shoulder away, then just decides it's better to take a step back than offer his back to Eileen. "He's squirrley, though, I guess. But then again…" Aviators shoulders rise and fall into a shrug. "I guess I am too."

If Eileen had a working gun, this conversation may have ended very differently. Aviators makes a wise decision stepping back — while it doesn't save his life, it has the potential to save hers by failing to invite her to do something very stupid.

Her knife is feeling very heavy in her cardigan.

As he moves away, her stockinged feet remain rooted to the floor, the definition of her toes barely visible through the knitting. Everything that's coming out of her mouth is a grave offense, but the only thing she has to say in response at the end of it all is, "Gray.

"His name was Gabriel Gray."

"Sure it was." Aviators off-handedly and dismissively agrees, finally turning his back to her as he makes his way over to the coat rack where his leather jacket hangs. He's slow in donning it, despite the awkward tensions in the room, but perhaps there's some satisfaction he draws out of letting Eileen langour in his presence. "Jensen and I had a saying…" Aviators turns slowly, looking at Eileen over his shoulder as he slides his jacket on. "We're all defined by our actions." There's a raise of Aviators' dark brows at that comment, his hands coming to tuck into the pockets of his leather jacket as he offers the sentiment up.

"What do you think Sylar is gonna be remembered for? What do you think his lasting impression on the world's gonna be? Saving anything? Helping anyone? No— Gabriel fucking Gray may as well have never existed. Sylar is what the world's gonna remember, they're going to remember how he took all their happiness.

"It doesn't matter if he even did it or not. Your actions define who you are." These words were echoed by Raith to Magnes in Argentina. "But the first thing everyone notices are the results of those actions. The reaction. Your action may save a life, but if the reaction destroys half of New York, what do you think people are going to remember?" It's a rhetorical question.

This may well have been a rhetorical conversation.

Gabriel Gray stopped Kazimir from disemboweling her with Zhang Wu-Long's ceramic knife.

Gabriel Gray taught her to overcome the destructive ability that was thrust on her by someone who wished them both harm.

Gabriel Gray refused to leave her side after she drew Allen Rickham away from him in Midtown.

Gabriel Gray breathed life back into her body when it had none.

Gabriel Gray came for her on the U.S.S. George Washington and did not turn his back upon learning that her memory of all this and more had been stripped from her. That was over two months ago — Eileen knows more now than she knew then, and not so much as a fraction of a breath elapses between Aviators' question and her answer.

Rhetorical or not.

"I'll remember."

Aviators hesitates to smile at that, as he's reaching for the doorknob, turning it with a grind of metallic components that seems so loud despite the earlier volume of their conversation. He assesses Eileen one last time after opening the door out to the hall, watching her in that awkward silence of her assertion against his comment. He then looks around the apartment, and rolls his shoulders into a helpless shrug before stepping out into the hall, and closing the door sound enough to be a period on his unspoken sentence, as if to imply with all her faults of memory:

Will you?

He didn't even need to say it.

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