A Few Words About Restraint


eileen3_icon.gif niles_icon.gif

Scene Title A Few Words About Restraint
Synopsis Eileen pays Niles a visit at the Garden.
Date May 25, 2009

The Garden

There may not be any bars on the windows, nor lock on the door. There's nothing more than a firm suggestion from the caretaker of the safehouse that he should stay put. But that's enough to keep Niles Wight imprisoned as surely as he was still caged up on Level 5.

Well, there is one difference. Level 5 didn't have a superball.

The young replicator is currently seated on a single bed in a small bedroom. The door is open and he's rhythmically bouncing a ball off the wall. He's trying to hit the same spot every time. He's getting fairly good at it, though from the look on his face, it's not doing much to distract him.

Outside in the adjacent hallway, floorboards squeak and creak in quiet protest as a shadow moves through the safehouse on furtive feet. A moment later, the slim shape of a wiry young woman appears in the doorframe, all dark hair, pale skin and even lighter eyes hovering somewhere between green and gray. Her face isn't one that Niles has seen around the property before, but the expression etched across its taciturn features is one of quiet confidence and belongs to someone who's probably supposed to be here.

"Niles Wight?" Eileen asks.

In another life, the pair of them might have run in the same circles. Niles was a goth in the day and she looks like she might have been as well. He's got his back braced against the wall, is clad in a white collared shirt and a pair of blue jeans and has moppish, side-parted brown hair dipping into his eyes. It's a wonder he can see the ball enough to catch it.

He glances her way, pauses only a moment, then continues to toss the ball. "That's me." The next toss of the ball hits the wall a little bit harder and it flies a bit wider. He has to move from his spot on the bed to catch it. "Who are you, then?"

"A friend." Eileen slips inside but does not close the door behind her. Appearances can often be deceiving; in spite of the dramatic contrast between her skin and hair, she's dressed conservatively in a pair of faded denim jeans and a hunter green jacket that looks like it might have seen military use at some point in the distant past.

She takes a seat on the edge of the bed. "Eileen, actually. Deckard said you were having a hard go at it, but you don't look too poor off."

"Hnf." Niles grins humourlessly, then tosses the ball a few more times before catching it and squeezing it like a stress reliever. "He's just spooked because I almost electrocuted a bartender." No big deal! "Pardon me if I'm not quick to welcome you as a friend, Miss Eileen. My friends have a habit of kicking the shit out of me lately."

He rolls the ball between his fingers and stares at it, as if the red, white and blue surface held the answers like a Magic 8 ball. "I have a feeling your people are going to feel the need to dispose of me soon." And from his tone, he doesn't seem like he would blame them.

"Dispose of you," Eileen repeats, and like Niles her tone is entirely without mirth. Her eyes, too, are solemn. "No. I don't think that they will." Her focus shifts between his face and the ball he rotates between his fingers — if there are answers to be gleaned from either, she lacks either the acumen or the desire to find them. Instead, she moves her gaze to the window and the forested glen beyond it as if watching for something Niles can't see.

"Tell me about your ability?"

"Mister Deckard," Deck-aahhrd. Niles' accent might be watered down, but with the occasional word, it's fairly strong, "…seemed quite serious with his offer to put a bullet between my eyes." He makes a gun shape with his left hand and clucks his tongue as he wiggles his thumb. Bang.

Great. Eileen's wandered in to talk with a nihilistic former gothboy who has a futuristic version of himself running around murdering people.

"I believe the people who held me captive call it 'electromagnetic replication.' Clouds of energy that I can zap people with. I can perceive through all of them." Which might be part of the cause of his mental instability.

Something suspiciously akin to a smile pulls at the corners of Eileen's chapped mouth at Niles' unique pronunciation of Deckard's name, but there's nothing malicious in it. "He doesn't speak for all of us," she says, and she at least sounds sincere. "If the Ferry went around executing everyone without a proper handle on their ability, it wouldn't have very many wards left."

She's beginning to see what Flint meant when he described Niles as lacking perspective. "Will you show me? I'd like to see, if you don't mind."

Unlike many of the young warriors that grace Phoenix and the Ferrymen's ranks, Niles Wight is not mature for his age. In fact, he may be considered emotionally stunted in some ways.

He spins the ball between his fingers, then glances sidelong at Eileen. There's suspicion in his gaze. "I suppose." The words are a touch clipped. They pop between his teeth and strike the air.

He sits up a little straighter and rolls his shoulders back. Slowly, a cloud of energy starts to surround Niles like an aura. At first, it's just that, a bluish aura that crackles the air and charges nearby metal and the bedsheets. And then, with a little grunt, the replicant disengages from the young man's body.

The replicant is wearing the outline of his clothes, and as he focuses on it, the glow deepens and the shape adds more detail. Both physical man and replicant look towards Eileen, though the replicant does so from a hovering position about two feet off the ground. He doesn't seem to have to focus very hard to keep the replicant present.

Eileen studies both replicant and the young man it emerged from, scrutinizing their twin outlines from beneath her lashes, eyes partially hooded against the luminous blue glow. Her time spent interacting with Brian Fulk only helps prepare her so much for what she sees — there's an unmistakable mark of tension in the guarded way she holds herself, stiff and unmoving, chin inclined upward at a watchful angle.

It's hard to say whether or not this is what she'd been expecting. "You said you could perceive through it," she ventures, tone soft, tentative. "Do you view the world differently now, or am I still the same?"

Niles lifts a shoulder and kicks one foot out, then the other. "It's hard to explain. I see you from two angles simultaneously. Like a pair of cameras trained on a single stage." He seems calmer with the replicant out, though there's a glint, a spark in his eye. A spark that comes with the knowledge that he could, in a blink, fry her to the point of unconsciousness - or worse.

But he doesn't, because he has no desire to. But there may come a point where desire one way or another won't stop the replicants.

"It is easier to manage when we're not in the same room." This time it's the replicant speaking. The voice crackles a touch, like it was made on some old recording device, but it's still his voice and it's still clear.

Once upon a time, Eileen used to be able to see through the eyes of birds. She has some idea of how disorienting it must feel, but comparing her lost ability to his is ultimately futile; the similarities are few, and she somehow doubts that Niles would believe her if she told him she truly understood. She couldn't blame him for it, either — she'd be lying.

Bedsprings groan, shudder as she leans forward, causing the mattress and the bedspread to shift. Small hands clasp between her legs, arms dangling off her knees from the elbow. "Why are you here, Niles? Don't you have a family? Someplace else you can go? People who'll look out for you?"

Niles chuckles, but there's no real humour in that sound. He makes a vague hand motion and the replicant flickers and disappears back into him. As it does, there's an arch of his back and a vague sound. It kind of hurts, but he's come to associate it with power. "My friends…" He pulls fingers through his hair.

"My…friends want nothing more to do with me because of something my future self did to them. They won't tell me what. No one here will tell me why one of my most trusted friends saw me and immediately broke my nose. My family? Well. I murdered my stepfather. That makes family dinners a touch awkward."

He's trying to be flippant about that, but it's clear that bothers him. His lips twitch downward. "It wasn't on purpose," he says quietly, only after a moment has passed. "I was angry at him. The replicant attacked him."

"Abilities can cause us do things we wouldn't otherwise," says Eileen. "It makes reigning in our emotions difficult, especially when those emotions are as willful as anger. Hurt. Resentment. I almost killed someone very close to me because I couldn't get a grip on it."

Which is, incidentally, why she's here. She reaches out with her one gloved hand as if to place it on Niles' thigh, assuming he'll let her. It's a bold move, brazen too, but her body language makes her intent clear: she doesn't mean him any physical harm, only an attempt at comfort.

The words that leave her mouth next are surprisingly crisp in comparison, each syllable enunciated with care so there's no mistake about what she's asking. "What do you mean, your future self?"

Niles bites his lower lip and bangs his head back against the wall. "That sounds like an excuse. 'My power made me do it.' What the fuck is that going to do to the Evolved PR machine, hmm? Sounds like a legit reason to chemically castrate the lot of us." He rubs his hand over his face and around in a circle, fingers knotting in his hair. Regret.

"What, your friends didn't tell you that there's some me from ten years in the future, running around trying to change things? That's likely who broke me out of the holding facility I was locked up in. Though I don't have any fucking idea why."

"It isn't an excuse. It's a fact, and it means that now, more than ever, you need to be vigilant. Start taking responsibility for yourself, and when you feel like electrocuting a bartender — don't. There will come a time when you'll have to wrest control back from what's inside of you, and if you aren't prepared to do that, then you may as well take Deckard up on his offer."

Eileen's hand remains on Niles' leg as an anchor of sorts to which their conversation is tethered. As long as there's physical contact between them, what's important won't drift away from her.

And neither will he.

"Do you have any names you can give me?"

"I didn't fucking electrocute the bartender. I wouldn't have. The most I would have done was knock him out." Niles isn't really so sure, but that is possible. Overloading someones' system with electrical impulses is almost as much of a release as frying the heart in a person's chest. One attack only leaves his victim sore for a few days. The other is a bit more permanent.

"Why do you and all these people give a fuck anyway? I don't understand it." He stares at her hand for a moment, tempted to shirk away. But he doesn't, and he's not really sure why.

"I give a fuck because the alternative is shittier. You don't have to be alone." Eileen finally removes her hand from Niles' thigh and rises from her seat on the edge of the bed in one smooth catlike motion, delicate limbs unfolding. Another glance out the window and she's moving across the room, back toward the open door. "Forget whatever Deckard said about putting a bullet between your eyes. As long as you're here with us, you're safe, but we can't help you unless you want to be helped."

She pauses in the doorway, fingers curling around the wooden frame. "Where you go from here is up to you. We can smuggle you into another country, or we can help you make a fresh start in this one. It's your choice."

Niles pulls his knees up to his chest and rests his chin on the top. It's an oddly boyish posture from a man who has a half dozen cops looking for him. Well, the him ten years older, anyway. "I suppose I have to decide what I want then, don't I?"

The ball is pinched between his feet. He moves it with his toes and exhales with a whuff of breath. "Perhaps community college? Train to be a construction worker?" His smile is wry, but the more lighthearted expression doesn't reach his eyes.

"Help us stop your future self from doing more damage?" There's a slight lilt at the end of the sentence, but it isn't really a question — more a subtle suggestion. Eileen's hand drops from the doorframe and she steps out into the hall. "I'll see what I can find out," she promises. "If you can think of anything that might make tracking him down any easier, tell Deckard and ask him to pass it along. We'll see each other again soon."

Niles snorts. "I have a feeling Deckard is about to quit the job as my keeper. But." He doesn't commit to ratting out, well, himself. But he's not dismissed the possibility either. He doesn't say anything else. But when she's gone and out of sight, the rhythmic thumping of the ball against the wall resumes.

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