A Mouth of Ivy and a Heart of Holly


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Scene Title A Mouth of Ivy and a Heart of Holly
Synopsis Deckard checks in on Eileen at an undisclosed Ferrymen location; he updates her on the Teodoro situation and inadvertently brings news of Abigail's present condition.
Date June 14, 2009

Staten Island — A Ferryhouse

It's getting late. The sky's been dark for a good two or three hours by the time Deckard finally ventures out of his room again — prime time for the criminal element stirring quietly into full swing in the shadows drawn long across Staten Island. In a suit when he ventured out earlier, he's changed into jeans and the deep, familiar brown of his leather jacket. Scar crossed and water stained, it's been through nearly as much as the rest of him and has more to show for it. Abigail's ability only works on the living.

In any case, the jacket and jeans do some work to mitigate the gaunt, hollowed out state of him, cushioning poking bone and the stripped wire muscles that run up the backs of his wrists into his sleeves. His clavicles are still clearly defined beneath the open white of his collar under the jacket and his cheekbones and brow jut, cutting the safehouse's warm light off in stark lines of shadow, but there's less to be done for that. Down the stairs he goes, socked feet soft against wooden flooring that refuses to creak until he's at Eileen's door and listening. For breathing or — snoring. Or conversation. Any excuse not to bother her.

A good minute passes before he finally lifts bony knuckles into a one-two rap, pale eyes lifted to the ceiling as if to escape the awkward hesitation that curls his toes and stiffens his shoulders. Maybe she's not in.

Or maybe that's just wishful thinking on Deckard's part. The sound of footfalls reverberate through the safehouse floors — a moment later the handle is turning, allowing the lanky arms dealer to glimpse a sliver's worth of bedroom on the other side of the door. Scrubbed clean of blood and gore, Eileen's face appears in the gap with dark brows arched into a mild but inquisitive expression, green eyes shining like bottle glass in the light. It takes her a moment to discern the identity of her visitor based on his hard contours and scruffy features, but when she does the door creaks open the rest of the way and squeaks out a greeting on rusted hinges.

The smile she offers him is a tentative one that twitches at the corners of her mouth without actually pulling them upward. "Flint," she says in lieu of a hello or the more evocative it's good to see you. Rather than meander up and down his frame as if to inspect for injury, her gaze remains locked above the shoulder, searching his face for any indication of why he might be here. Not for the first time, she finds herself in quiet wonderment over his presence in her doorway. "They told me you'd already gone."

"Hey," is Deckard's default greeting, apparently for everything from spur of the moment whorehouse rescues to random drop ins at bedroom doors. The slope of his shoulders leans into a lazy rest against the doorframe once the door itself is all the way open. "No. I mean — well. I did. But…then I came back." Evidence of precisely where he went and what he was up to while he was there is fogged into his breath in a fine mist of whiskey stink. Nothing out of the ordinary there. He does look her over, more out of habit than anything, though there's only so much his eyes can tell him when they're limited to only seeing visible light. Brows knit against further explanation gone without definition, he hazes back into uneasy silence, halcyon eyes veering away before they can make it all the way back up to her face.

"You look better." Cleaner, at least. Less like a cannibal. It has the sound of something that's intended to be a compliment even though statements like that really can't be. "I thought maybe I should check in. Or. See if — not that I'm trying to keep tabs on you or anything…"

Eileen can be affronted when he asks her to wear a tiny silver bell around her neck. Right now, she doesn't seem anything except appreciative for his apparent concern. Much softer and more comfortable-looking than the starchy cotton dress shirt he last caught her in, a dark gray sweater encases the young woman's torso in loosely knitted wool while, below her narrow waist, a pair of plain black leggings serve a similar purpose. Bare feet graze hardwood as she moves aside, making room in an implicit invitation for Deckard to come inside.

The interior of the bedroom is sparse, decorated in shades of taupe and brown with only a few splashes of faded colour woven through the peeling wallpaper and afghan slung haphazardly across the back of an antique rocking chair. None of the furniture appears very comfortable — if it is, it's only because every piece is at least as old as the combined ages of Eileen and her visitor, give or take a few years, and has had plenty of opportunity to be broken in by those who came before them. She takes a seat on the edge of the bed, boxspring groaning in protest beneath her weight, and slides one milky white hand into her sweater's front pocket. "Cigarette?"

Deckard's room upstairs is similar, with some different furniture, white walls and no afghan. Maybe for that reason, he doesn't spend much time looking at it once he's rolled himself around the doorframe after her, one socked foot nudging the door partway closed before he pads further in. No effort is made to finish the sentence he trailed off on, or the line of thought. "Sure." Sure, he will have a cigarette. "Thanks."

Past that, there are a lot of things he's not doing. He doesn't sit down on the bed with her, or say much of anything, or look her in the eye now that he's already gone and awkwarded things up. He stands just out of arm's reach, hands tucked into his jacket pockets while he glances back over his shoulder at the door and then the window. There's a creak of ancient wood underneath him when he shifts more weight over onto his right side. "Cardinal made it through."

There's a momentary hitch in Eileen's breathing at the mention of Richard's name, accompanied by clumsy hands fumbling with the package of Camels produced from her sweater pocket. She peels back a layer of gaudy silver foil, counts out the number of cigarettes left in the carton — two, four, six, eight, nine — then offers Deckard his pick of the litter, one slim arm outstretched. "I'm glad," she says, and no sooner have the words left her mouth than a lump shudders in her throat. As she swallows hard, gulping it down, her opposite arm brings her wrist across the patch of skin that separates her upper lip from her nose and shields her gums. It comes away wet. "I didn't think."

Whatever that means. This is usually the part where she starts crying, or at least it would be if their conversation had been scripted in advance. Instead, she forces herself to show some teeth in a smile more generous that the timid interpretation she offered him when she first opened the door. It's probably just as unconvincing. "Did you talk to him?"

"Yeah." The answer comes quiet after a long span of silence spent selecting a cigarette at random and shuffling a lighter out of his coat pocket, fingers so bony it's a wonder their twitching snap at the sparker isn't accompanied by insectoid clicking. Once more he's short on elaboration and overstocked on awkward silence, voice rough and low whenever he does talk, which isn't for several beats and two sweeping drags of warm smoke that furls stale through his sinuses. "I think he wanted to tell you himself. I just — thought you should know. Sooner. In case you were…" Thinking about it. Or whatever.

He looks up to catch her smile, but doesn't smile back. Immune to the falseness of it, maybe, or just impassive to smiles in general. "I'm sorry about Teo. I dunno how to fix him. I don't think anyone else does either."

Minus two cigarettes, the Camels disappear into the pocket from whence they came. If her math is any good, and admittedly it isn't very, that leaves Eileen with seven to last the next few days if she paces herself and tries to avoid adding to the yellow stains that have begun to accumulate on her fingertips and stand out against the crescents of dirt wedged under her nails. She brushes off a few errant flakes of loose tobacco from her sleeve, strikes a match from a box she procures from the nightstand in the same motion.

Something about Deckard's unique choice of words gives her pause. Mulling it over, she maneuvers the cigarette from one side of her mouth to the other and — lips pursed — waves the flame under its tip until it too glows orange. "What do y'mean?" she asks, working the words around the filter with the same lack of deftness she displayed when she groped at the carton. "Fix?"

Perhaps it hasn't occurred to her that Teodoro might be something other than just a monumental asshole. More likely: she's still in denial.

"Someone's camped out in his head pulling strings. I don't know what he's after, but he called me about you on his own, so." Deckard's long since given up on half the things he talks about these days making sense. Where a sense of irony might normally be appropriate, there's a thread of mild, worn out dejection in the fuzzy lines faded soft and slack around his mouth while he stands where he is and smokes like a splintery wooden post.

Slowly, and without asking permission verbally or with a glance, he takes the few steps necessary to turn and sink down onto the mattress next to her. Where the springs creaked before, one squeaks shrill protest for his added weight. Even carved down to the bone he's twice her size.

Apart from added rigidity in her back to counterbalance the change in the mattress, Eileen's posture doesn't change much. The last time someone was camped out in a friend's head and pulling strings, the end of the world almost culminated in a viral apocalypse — and while the tragedy that is Teodoro Laudani might not be playing out on such a grand stage, all acts are equally wretched and profound when you bend down to view them at a personal level.

"Fuck me," she grates out, thick and hoarse. "Fuck everything."

Deckard can lump her with the others. She doesn't know what to do about Teo — she doesn't even know what she's supposed to do now beyond adopt a blank expression or rub the heel of her hand along the curve of her jaw. Eyes shut. Smoke seeps from nostrils. Silence bloats in the air around them.

"Who else are you going to tell?"

"I told Richard." Scruffy head dipped to focus the absent chill of his glare on the wind of his lead-stained hands between his knees, he's taking his cigarette slow. Everything about him seems slow. Devoid of energy and forlorn in the draw and drag of his heart pumping sluggishly beneath the pronounced jumble of vulture bones and hard rigged muscle that comprises curve of his back on either side of his spine.

"Other people already know. Abby. Phoenix." His brows tip up there, blandly, wordlessly unimpressed until he pulls in a long breath and moves on.

"I'll tell whoever he winds up fucking over that I can reach. Can't kill him without killing Teo." Matter-of-fact for all that the subject matter rides tension up into the tendons bleached white in his hands, he has to concentrate to force it out again, brow hooded and mouth turned down into a shadow of a frown.

"I'm not sure about that," Eileen says. "There are people who might have some different ideas." Ethan. Raith. Amato. Sylar. When it comes to dealing with rogue Evolved, there are few individuals more qualified than those who were part of the Vanguard before its dismemberment. Kazimir Volken and Zhang Wu-Long might even have a few things to say if Gabriel is willing to listen, but this is a fact that — like so many others — Eileen remains utterly oblivious to.

The hand at her jaw falls away and curls into a prickly clump of bony knuckle at her side. The other removes the cigarette from her mouth long enough to tap a pinky finger's worth of ash into an empty bottle on the nightstand beside the discarded box of matches. "Amato Salucci is staying at one of the safehouses on the island. I can't remember if you ever met, but I'll see him. Ask. He has an ability that might be able to help."

Optimism and faith have never been particularly strong pillars in the architecture of Deckard's design. Also, he's declined to mention the fact that even if they don't kill his Teo, they would still technically be killing a Teo. Her reassurance is absorbed into the matte black of his mood without any sign of recognition or taking hold, save maybe an ambiguous pull at the corner of his mouth. Even that's quick to fade back into grey obscurity.

It's a little while before he looks over at her again, almost as if he's just remembering she's still there. His back straightens somewhat out of its brooding hunch, knotted hands allowed to fall away from each other while he looks her over for the second time. "Abby told me not to try to use her power on you."

The first question that ignites on the tip of Eileen's tongue is of course, "Why?" but she refuses to lend it her voice. Drained of their rosy colour, her lips press into a thin line — there's a momentary lapse of nothingness in which she battles the urge to open her mouth, broken by a sigh blown out haltingly through her nostrils with still more smoke. The longer she attempts to compose her thoughts, the easier it becomes to piece them together into something that resembles a bigger picture. She'd warned Abigail about John Doe and what he might to do her if their paths crossed; whether or not she listened, Deckard makes it sound as though the healer's worst fears were realized regardless of any precautions she might have taken.

"You'd die," is all Eileen initially has to say. Her eyes lift to Deckard's face, searching. "It's why I was with Logan. He knows how to turn things off."

"…How do you know?" Deckard's face is open in the dumb furrow at his brow and the uneasy question clear in his eyes. Maybe it could work. :( Nevermind the fact that he already looks like he has one foot in the grave, stripped down and underfed. Rickety. The unhealthy shadows hollowed into his eye sockets making stark blue stand out all the brighter, almost manic in the crisp absence of logic in its intensity.

There's a pause, loaded and calculating while he rakes around for some indication that she's exaggerating, or lying, or unsure. No comment on the thing with Logan being voluntary after all. He doesn't exactly have much room to talk. Or even recognize that she should have seen abuse coming down the pipe.

"Every cut, every scrape, every break, every bruise — every hurt you've ever suffered. Touch me and I'll make you bleed, chafe, shatter. Turn all the ugly colours corpses do." It would be a stretch to say that Eileen has never sounded so certain of anything in her entire life, but it wouldn't be much of one; her voice is steady, low, pulled taut by underlying tension. "All Logan had to do was put my hands on Cardinal and my ability did the rest. If you've talked to him, then you've seen what I'm capable of."

And yet she's reaching out anyway, not to brush her skin against his and initiate the deadly contact of which she speaks, but to rest her hand on Deckard's knee. That he's in poor shape hasn't escaped her notice. Neither has what his eyes contain. "For what you did," she says. "You and— Teo. No one else was coming."

Flint draws in a breath to argue, chest lifting flat under the leather of his jacket, but she keeps going and in the end whatever he was going to say is wasted on a last sighed gust of smoke. He tugs what's left of his cigarette away from the corner of his mouth and leans across her to drop it into the bottle, careful not to brush skin to skin in passing. Every cut, break, scrape and bruise is a hell of a conglomeration, when you're him. If it went wrong, like they think it would…probably wouldn't take long.

Doesn't stop him from glancing down at her hand when it finds its way to a rest on his knee. There's an impulsive twitch at his own fingers, grasping without moving for hers in earnest. The ghost of his inaction passes over his face like a shadow, frustration rankling at his nose and prying his eyes down and away. A few inches of reach and he could see for himself.

He doesn't. He behaves. It's just hard.

Unfortunately he doesn't say anything either, despite there being a space there where he probably should.

"It's okay." Not I'm okay or Teo's okay or Abigail will be okay — Eileen can't promise Deckard any of those things, and if she could she doubts she's in the right position of trust or authority. Even with all the experiences that run parallel between them, from Felix Ivanov through to ambushes in the darkened hallways of the Lighthouse, they are ultimately very little more than two strangers sharing the same room, occupying the same space, smoking the same brand of cigarette.

The remains of hers join his at the bottom of the bottle. "You were right," she says finally. "About being a rat. Sometimes I just wish we weren't so small."

A shuddering breath and a sliver of teeth bared white against an embarrassing kind of damp sheen in his eyes is Deckard's uninspiring answer. Nothing's okay. Eileen can't touch anyone, Teo is possessed, Abigail has no ability, Cardinal nearly died, Felix didn't die. Helena wants his help and he feels like he's dying when he gives it. What a crappy ability. He's holding it hostage and he doesn't even want it. He shouldn't have it.

Attention now focused hazily at the floor, he manages to get everything back under control with whatever urgency his raggedy pride can muster to drag emotion gimpily back behind closed doors. All that's left is to swallow the rawness in his throat, which he does once, and then twice, a hand scuffed up to muss the wiry bristle of his hair grey over brown into further disorder. "Do you have somewhere to stay?"

"Here. The Garden. The Lighthouse. Any one of the other safehouses on the Island that aren't a stone's throw away from the Rookery. I'm not worried about keeping a roof over my head, and you shouldn't be either. From what I've seen, the Ferry takes care of its own." The polite thing to do would involve averting her gaze and allow Deckard a modicum of privacy without rising from the bed or leaving the room. Eileen doesn't.

She removes her hand from Deckard's knee but does not allow the same of her eyes on his face. "I know where to find you if I need you, Flint. And I don't plan on going far should the reverse become true."

"Okay." Okay. Another deep breath on an increasingly long stream of deep breath steels Flint out the rest of the way. The retraction of her hand helps, maybe, though he concedes to reciprocate with a less natural splay of his larger hand across her knee in the second or two before he finds this to be too awkward to endure and leans creakily up onto his feet, the pads of his fingers trailing coarse up after him.

"I might be moving soon. I'll try to — keep you in the know. The Ferry should have an idea of where I am if no one else does. …I have a phone again."

It'd a grudging admission. Dog's back on the leash, easy to find and pin down. He's still not looking at her, aware of her eyes on him or generally avoidant in the face of mild humiliation. He doesn't look any happier either, which may make the hoarse, "Thanks," he utters before he turns to go that much more confusing.

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