Transcending Mortal Perception


eileen_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Transcending Mortal Perception
Synopsis Teo and Eileen seek Peyton's assistance in locating Gabriel. What they get instead of answers are even more questions.
Date March 2, 2010

Peyton's Apartment

While Teodoro's initial arrival at the handsome apartment complex had been awkward enough. Given, you know, that the two had never met, and that his voicemail message had described 'another Ferrywoman's urgent business' in almost precisely that, neither honest nor particularly dishonest language. A cup of coffee and vague commiseration over the inconveniences posed by curfew killed the time between his slightly limping arrival and sunset.

The discomfort deteriorated rapidly as Eileen's extended absence made the situation proportionally more awkward. If 'awkward' is a word that circumscribes the possibility of Federal appropriation, imprisonment, or perhaps a straightforward death by bullets. Teo is paranoid, and the scarred gash in the left side of his face is probably wont to make a charitable young trust fund baby like Peyton catch that particular contagion. Nightfall. Even if you believe that there isn't nothing in the night that there isn't in the day, deeper shadows, silenced telecommunications, and ominous disappearances are enough to make pragmatic sense out of twilight's fanciful poetry.

Twenty-five minutes later, and the Sicilian has left the girl's apartment, though its tastefully minimalistic, stately furniture and glistening row of empty beer bottles had fetched a polite share of compliments earlier. He's departed the comforts of central heating and a second mug of brew in favor of a pistol's cold composite in the grip of his palm, standing on the frost-rimed curb with a phone flattened to his ear on his hitched shoulder and the street lamp pissing down sodium-yellow light on his head. The open cell line is connected not to Ruskin's phone, but to the cordless residing in the clasp of Peyton's hand.

She's a dozen floors up, but his voice comes through loud, clear, flat. "She isn't picking up. Might be time to fuck privacy and have a look, if that's all right by you. I'm not sure how your hat trick works; would you have enough of a bead on her..?"

Wendy would kill her if she knew that Peyton had let in one of "those people" that even Peyton hadn't met before. Really, it probably wasn't the wisest move, but Eileen came to Peyton's aide when she needed it, and Peyton feels a bit of camaraderie for the petite woman, since clearly she has a passionate hatred for Danko as well. Things to bond over. Only Peyton's paralyzes her while Eileen is brave enough to try to murder the man in public. She respects that about the tiny brunette. "I'm going in — I just need to know the person or have seen them," she murmurs to the phone in her hand. If he looks up, he can see her standing up on her balcony, looking down at him. He's not close enough of course to see the pupils of her eyes expand, the brown ring shrinking until the black overtakes the iris.

"Sidewalk… cars… she's walking… I think she's on her way — yeah, she's on her way here. She's close by, should be there any second," Peyton says, as the vision of the other woman becomes clear to her. She blinks and returns to her own surroundings, waiting for Teo's response.

"What?" is Teo's initial response, as scintillatingly articulate and intelligent as a time-traveling spy ninja is wont to be. No, he heard all right; there isn't that much traffic, this close to curfew. Shoving safetied gun back into holster, he packs one callused hand against his ear opposite the phone, grips the device closer to his head with the other. His skull whips to and fro on its axis, pale eyes lancing the dark, guess which way from which Peyton means. He heard with perfect clarity. "Really?"

There a significant error margin to your ability, by any chance? Teo opts not to ask this, though it's tempting. His mouth seals around a hard, anemically white line, and he starts to move backward, into the shadow of Whitney's apartment building. Puts his back against a wall, gets a corner up near his shoulder; the closest thing to cover that the Upper West Side's luxurious proportions and carefully-maintained illusions of open space can afford him. "Okay. Let you know when I see her."

The figure that rounds the corner, slogging through slush made gritty by the gravel and salt laid down to combat it, is unmistakably Eileen. Peyton is not a liar. Neither is she mistaken. Pale skin, dark hair and a pair of large green eyes with a sharp focus are her most defining features, followed by the familiar shape her mouth makes when her face is pinched into an expression of quiet concentration. It's very English, but so is she.

What she isn't is limping. Instead, the right sleeve of her pea coat is empty and swinging lose at her side, her arm bent at the elbow beneath the thick wool garment and held across her slim midsection. Her opposite hand clutches at her coat's front, fingers gloved in leather and bunching loose folds of fabric between them, but the only overt sign that she's been hurt is her split lip, purple, swollen and bruised.

The person most likely to pick up on the fact that there's something strange about the way she's carrying herself is the one they've convened here to look for.

The clairvoyant up on the balcony watches, her dark eyes hard and narrowed against the bite of the cold winter night outside. She thinks she knows the direction Eileen is coming from, but in the dark, the buildings all look alike. "Yes, really…" Peyton murmurs. Why is he here if he doesn't trust her power?

Then, she catches sight of the woman coming around the corner. "She's there — to your left," she breathes out in a hurry, a near whisper, since she's outside. No one in their right mind would be out on the balcony or have a window open, but there's no reason to shout.

"She's hurt. Do you want me to call an ambulance?" Peyton turns slightly toward her apartment, ready to run in and through it to the elevator and down to the ground floor to greet them outside — but she pauses there, waiting for Teo to talk to Eileen, to tell her the next course of action: should she call an ambulance, or should she wait for them to come up to her in the warmth and privacy of her apartment?

"No, no ambulance." Teo's answer is immediate, almost before he's processed the rest. Certainly before the slender Englishwoman's figure scrawls into view, past the margin of the wall. His eyes go large underneath the mobile hang of his brow, and his pupils flush wide in the pallid discuses of his irises. He does not get around to apologizing for his skepticism. Housebeaten Napoleon is not a look that particularly suits Eileen. It is important to him, also, that she's alone.

"Jesus fuck, I'm bringing her up."

He snips the line the next moment, shutting the phone with a squash of thumb down on the Disconnect button with its minute icon. He pockets the phone and hits the Intercom button for Peyton's apartment, a request for ingress. Doesn't speak into the microphone, though, leaving the young clairvoyant to buzz them in while he rounds the corner. Comes down the stairs on a slightly lopsided cadence of steps, favoring one foot, his face white in his scowl.

One arm goes out, level to close lightly around her slender shoulders. The gun under his arm shows itself only briefly, holstered, safetied, not a warning precisely. "You're going to think I'm a huge cunt for asking," he says to her, quietly sidelong, "but I need to know." A test. Phoenix used to do this, all the time. "What did they put in my screwdriver at that damn club of yours?"

Eileen would smile if smiling didn't hurt. The corners of her mouth quaver around one half-formed, allowing Teo to steal a glimpse of teeth that are surprisingly clean. If there's any discoloration present, it's due to her nicotine habit and the amount of tea and coffee she consumes rather than any excess blood lingering in her saliva. "You didn't order a screwdriver," she murmurs in a hoarser voice than the Italian is accustomed to hearing from her. It crackles in her throat and comes out sounding raw, wet. "Sanguinello."

Or: orange juice.

She leans against Teo as much as her pride permits and lapses into silence apart from the thin rasp of her breathing. Green eyes lift to the balcony and Peyton's shape backlit against a diarrheic smear of white clouds that absorb the city's neon glow rather than what little illumination the waning moon behind them has to offer. "I'm fine," she assures him, then. "Let's not waste any more time."

No ambulance. "Okay," Peyton says even as the phone is clicked off. She enters the apartment, closing the sliding door, then tosses her cordless on the couch. She's freezing, as she stepped out without a coat, her arms and cheeks pink from the bitter nip of the icy wind. She heads to the apartment door, holding it open as she waits for the two to arrive on the elevator. A chime announces the lift's arrival, and when the doors slide open she ushers them in.

"Eileen… are you all right? I can call a doctor, Harve Brennan, he might come here if I call him," she suggests, though she's already going to the kitchen to pull out a first-aid kit — she can't tell what is wrong with the woman aside from the split lip and the fact she is gingerly holding her midsection. Peyton's own lip is still healing a cut from the little tango she did with Danko on the roof of the Corinthian. "Do you want coffee, tea, water, anything?" she asks, bringing the first aid kit into the living room and setting it on the coffee table.

You could never tell, from the face Teo presents Peyton, that he'd been checking for serial-killing shapeshifters on the way up to her parlor. Wendy would be put out to hear.

He appreciates that offer of hospitality, even if he knows that the Englishwoman's two seconds from turning it down. There are more trust fund babies in the world than the world probably strictly needs, and it's a minority among them that are not merely good hostesses, but sincere ones as well. "Seems like the only thing she wants is Gabriel," he answers. "The rest will come, just— later, I take it. I'm personally going to insist on the couch, though.

"And I'll get the coffee while you guys talk about it." Not to usurp Peyton's role, or anything. Just. You know. What this work requires is merely a set of hands. What they need Peyton for is far and beyond that. His boot clicks across marble, angling him toward the kitchen, but he looks at the girls to check the plan is reasonable.

There are so many things that Eileen wants. Tea, coffee and water are not anywhere near the top of the list unless she's consuming them strictly to wash down some vicodin. She settles on the couch and begins working the buttons of her coat between her gloved fingers with some degree of difficulty, choosing to focus on simple tasks that she's capable of completing rather than more complex ones she can't. One thing at a time.

"I've already seen to it," she assures the other woman, and sure enough the hand that had been hidden away in her coat comes out to reveal a fresh gauze dressing held in place with strategically positioned strips of clear medical tape torn off the roll by somebody's teeth. "You remember Gabriel, don't you?" The question is largely rhetorical, but just in case: "He was with us when we went after Belinda Aniston."

Peyton's dark eyes flit to Eileen's side. The fact Eileen is not bleeding to death allows her to finally relax enough to sit down across from her guest. Beneath her bangs, her brows furrow together. Didn't she hear Gabriel was killed? But then, so, theoretically was Cardinal. She doesn't know that others also had returned, not having faces to attach to, when the dead were mourned at a memorial and a wake.

She nods to the question, though she's clearly confused by it. "The one who could shape shift. I watched through his eyes," she says, more to herself, to remind herself she has met him, that she watched from his eyes as he infiltrated the Suresh medical ward in the guise of Matt Parkman. "I remember. Is it … you want me to look for him?" Look for him — look through him — they've come to mean the same thing, when people us her power, it seems.

Eileen flexes the fingers of her bandaged hand and is rewarded with an involuntary expulsion of breath hissed out through her front teeth. Either it's getting better or it's getting worse — there's nothing about the way she shifts her attention from her injury to Peyton's face that emphasizes one over the other. Dark circles make her irises stand out, but the pink that rims her eyes detracts from the clarity of her gaze.

She hasn't slept. Tears of pain stick tacky to her cheeks and combine with the grime clinging to her skin to produce an adhesive effect. Although she isn't wearing any make-up, traces of it can be seen along her jaw where she at one point splashed water on her face.

"Please," she says, and there's a heavy quality to her voice that wasn't there before.

A visible shiver runs through the clairvoyant's body. This world is not one she understands — she never has, but now that people seem to be returning from the dead, it's even more confusing for her. Luckily, she doesn't know anything of "Gabriel" other than that he helped rescue Belinda Aniston. She doesn't know his past and she doesn't know why his two friends suspect he is alive again. As it is, she is already afraid of what she might see when she slips into his perspective, to view the world from his eyes, wherever it is he may be. The fact he might be dead frightens her — she's never tried to see through a corpse's eyes: could she? would she see the world continue moving from their unblinking, pale gaze? would she see the last image burned upon their retinas before they shuffled off the mortal coil? or would she possibly see their afterlife, if such a thing exists?

There is a reason she has never tried.

Peyton takes a shuddering breath to steady herself, legs curling up onto the armchair, arms wrapping around them protectively. Again, this time with an audience, her pupils shoot wide, filling the irises with their dark emptiness; only a sliver of brown separates the black holes from the whites of her eyes.

Coffee arrives, one in one of Sicily's hands and two in the other, because the condiments are still laid up on the coffee table where their first round of awkward had found its stage. He'd rinsed out his own mug from earlier for reuse, the blue one, and that's the one that he keeps for himself while he braces the others against the backs of his fingers, slightly ginger from the liquid heat radiating through the matte material.

Click. The mugs set down on the marble furniture, and then Teo is squatting on the opposite side, putting himself at comfortable user's height with the coffee table's dwarven stature. His right hand rifles his jacket, pragmatically brisk and searching, filling the stillness of Peyton's eerie concentration and Eileen's dread with the rustling of plastic painkiller packet extricated from its recesses.

Paracetamol and codeine are both scrawled onto the matte white surface in some doctor's ungainly scrawl. Ten miligrams per tab. Teo doesn't speak, merely tosses it out to a sliding stop beside Eileen's drink.

Having two hands is something most people don't appreciate. This isn't the first time Eileen has found herself in a situation where she can only utilize one, and while teams Alpha and Charlie were stripping apart Vanguard forces in Argentina and Russia, she was stuck in the Malagasy jungle with a broken wrist, teammates incubating malaria and limited supplies with which to work.

That said, she is by no means an expert. Confidence in her ability to open the packet without spilling its contents does not mean she will succeed; slow and measured, it's a time-consuming process that relies on steadiness and precision to safeguard against any accidents that might occur. Soon, she's curling her tongue around one of the pills to hold it in place as she takes up her mug of coffee and clicks her teeth against its porcelain lip, testing its temperature before she commits to swallowing.

The clairvoyant sees none of the administering or taking of the pills, her eyes on something much more confusing. Her cheeks, rosy from the cold of standing out on the balcony, suddenly grown ashy. Her head twitches as if to look away, but of course, there is no looking away merely by turning her head. Her lips part and her mouth opens as if to speak, but she gives a shake of her head… she is not sure what to say yet. Several minutes pass, the clairvoyant tense, curled in the armchair as she watches, as she views the world from Gabriel's view.

Flooding light. It's almost a shock to the system, an overwhelming sensory feed of illumination that stabs daggers into Peyton's brain, until she realises that what she's getting isn't light, but simply— too much. Shapes fan over the sight, a blurring pattern of movement that she can start to identify as fire. Perhaps Sylar really is dead after all. Perhaps he's in hell. Something jars through the flames flickering in the air, a purplish tint edging on in, and the vertigo inducing sight of a snowy New York City far, far beneath her. The buildings look as big as matchboxes, peppered in icing sugar, the evening horizons circling around her, before it visually splits down the middle as if she were swooning.

Black eyes. Black eyes beneath a brow crinkled in consternation, staring right back at her. A bare chest gleams off harshly in bathroom light, and ugly bullet wounds show off in stark contrast, her vision swinging down towards them, then back up at the man until she can determine that this is, in fact a mirror. The look she sees there is one of accusation.

These glimmers and implications, she determines through a dull kind of pain that increases faster and faster as she keeps her ability going, registering a shudder as the fist of the man she inhabits slams forward and cracks knuckles into the glass in front of him.

And it keeps hurting.

Peyton's face contorts with pain and she brings a shaky hand to her head. Suddenly, she gasps, jumping, the vision lost — her pupils constrict and she blinks, disoriented. "I … I think he's alive," she whispers, though there is no confidence in her tone.

Relief changes Teo's face, but makes it oddly less readable instead of more. His mouth and brow school themselves down to neutral lines, even symmetry except for the scar-edged leer ripped through the wall of his cheek. Gabriel's alive. She thinks Gabriel's alive.

Something about the way she said that makes him think that now is not the time to revive his earlier skepticism about the error margin of her ability. If she has the capacity to see through the eyes of other men, and she's seen through the eyes of men like Danko, it would be a Hell of a picture that would lead her to think she was gazing into something like Heaven, Hell, or a place that transcends mortal perception. He glances at Eileen without expectation that Eileen's attention is anywhere near him.

He's right, of course.

Eileen's good hand, still gloved in leather, curls fingers around the coffee mug. At some point, she drank from it and lowered the rim from her mouth. It doesn't taste like much in her current condition. Bitter heat, more blood. She has to run her tongue across teeth behind her lip to make sure that it hasn't cracked and starting leaking fluid again, though there's not much she could do about it if it was except to stymie the flow with the backs of her knuckles.

Fortunately, she doesn't need to. Her eyes are on Peyton's face and analyzing it in mulish silence. A look conveys the question she lacks the emotional energy to ask with anything other than a steady stare. What did you see?

The pain fades. "I … I think he felt me there… I've never hurt before," Peyton says softly, a little awed. No one has ever given any indication of knowing she was in their head, seeing through their eyes. "It was really confusing. First there was bright light… but then it wasn't light… just… I don't know, too much to make sense of. There were flames, fire… but then a purple tint, and it was like I was flying above New York. It was New York." That part is said with more confidence, some strength returning to her voice as she stares at the injured woman on her couch.

A hand comes up to nervously push her hair of her eyes, tucking a long strand behind her ear. "Then I saw him looking in the mirror — it was him. He punched the mirror — I'm not sure if it was because he knew I was there or if he was angry at himself or…" she shakes her head. "The pain was too much — and the surprise — it startled me out of the vision." This last is said apologetically. Her dark eyes drop, knowing she doesn't have the answers that they seek.

As Peyton's gaze lowers, Eileen's flicks back to Teo's and holds it for the time it takes her to release the breath she'd been holding. She abandons her mug and the packet of prescription painkillers on the coffee table in a series of laboured motions that are weary and tired but not sluggish; everything she does has a fussy meticulousness about it like a cat engaged in its grooming ritual.

When she drags her arm over her face, she doesn't lick it first. Simply uses her sleeve to mop some of the grease and sweat from her feverish brow. It drops a moment later. "It's not your fault," she mutters thickly. "You did all that you could."

What she really means is thank you.

"I can try again and let you know," Peyton offers, though there is fear there — the suspicion he felt her is an unwanted epiphany. If he can, someone else can — it's a new danger she never considered before. "Sometimes the first time doesn't tell me where they are but if I try again later — if he's out walking or if I can see his view from his window or anything that I can identify as a place that I know, a landmark…" she trails off and uncoils her long legs from her fetal position. "I can try again. Do you need to stay here? It's late, and you're hurt."

"For a few hours," Eileen concedes, head tilted back to rest the base of her skull against the couch's plush cushions. Her injured arm tucks across her lower stomach, motionless but for its rise and fall every time she draws in a breath and then lets it back out again with a faint hitching sound that rattles like a dead leaf in her lungs or air passing over a reed. "Tomorrow. Try again tomorrow.


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