A Temporary Reprieve


deckard_icon.gif niles_icon.gif

Scene Title A Temporary Reprieve
Synopsis Deckard and Niles kick around Chelsea being assholes at each other until accidental physical contact proves to be a conversation killer. …Thanks to Abigail's ability.
Date June 10, 2009



A pigeon's head bursts into a glob of white-flecked viscera some thirty or forty paces ahead. The pigeon that was standing next to it…blinks. Shuffles over a little closer. Bobs its head. Steps back again, looking as baffled as pigeons can look.

Nose rankled against the cold length of his pellet gun's black barrel, Deckard straightens up a little before he glances over to Niles and swings the gun over in lazy offer. Your turn. The same movement segues up into a reach for the cigarette at his mouth and a glance at his watch. Still a few hours of light left.

Oh, yes. Good man, Deckard. This is a completely wholesome activity for a budding psychopath. But hey, at least he's trusting Niles with a gun. It might not be warranted, but it's showing trust. Even if it only fires pellets. That could still do damage, though, granted not as much as his power. So maybe it's not really trust.

He takes hold of the gun, hefts it, eyes the pidgeon. Then with a motion that is practiced, but not polished, he raises the weapon, aims and fires. It's all a bit too fast and rather sloppy. The shot goes wide. Still, he doesn't look particularly uncomfortable with a gun in his hand.

"Surprised you're still willing to babysit me," he says as he hands the pellet gun back to Deckard and slides a small silver flask out of the inside of his jacket. He unscrews the top, takes a swig and then passes it over. Whiskey.

100% wholesome! "Don't rush it," is all Deckard has to say when the shot goes wide, voice muffled, long-settled ash falling away from the tip of his smoke in a brittle column. "Even if he flies off he'll…land again a few feet away." No rush when it comes to the motivationless slaughter of innocent flying rats.

The reason for the muffle in his voice becomes apparent when he breaks the barrel and hooks a finger into his mouth after a little lead pellet to push into the hole at its rear. 100% safe and classy, too. Cigarette replaced, he snaps the gun straight again and shakes his head against the offer of whiskey.

Pop. The fat downy dead body of the first pigeon jerks a little, stubby talons twitching. Its companion is finally beginning to look a little harried and sets off at an urgent, huffing waddle.

"Babysitting people like you is what I signed up for." Again, the gun is offered carelessly out. The crook behind it is more than lean these days. Flint is outright gaunt, blue eyes sparking bright in otherwise empty sockets and shadows hang long from the jut of his cheekbones.

Niles tucks the flask away again. "You know," says the kid as he lifts the weapon and sets his sights on the pigeon's hopping buddy. "…started to learn how to shoot. Before I manifested. Then there didn't seem to be a point to it." He exhales, squeezes the trigger and the shot rings out. Poor little pigeon gets it right in the wing, which sends it into awkward flapping circles, like a cart that lost its wheel and now can only turn one way.

There's no real reaction on the young man's face, no pity or sympathy. If anything, there's a bit of disappointment at the lack of a kill shot. He passes the weapon back over.

"Whups." Lame bird. Equally impassive, Deckard watches the panicked animal flutter and whirl and scrabble for a beat before he takes the gun back. Break, reload, snap. The flat of his chest rises steeply over a sigh. Pigeon #2 trips and flutters ass over ears across the lumpy back of its headless companion. Flint hands the gun back without taking a shot himself.

"I tought myself. My dad didn't think me having guns was a good idea." Imagine that.

"My real dad's back in England somewheres. Teaching at some fancy university. Doesn't give a fuck about me." And his stepdad…well, they've been over that. Niles raises the pellet gun and squeezes the trigger. This one strikes the critter's body. It drops, but starts to twitch violently. Not a great kill shot. Not clean. The thing's suffering.

"Mum has a new baby." He wrinkles his nose. "Guess he's older'n a baby now."

"I'm not good with babies." Not that great with animals either. Still. One eye squinted into a near wince when the scuzzrag of a bird graduates to a slow, flailing death, Deckard dithers uncomfortably for a second or two before holding his hand out to ask for the gun back.

Niles passes the pellet gun back towards Deckard without argument. "I was an angsty teenager with a new power and she had a new baby, a new lover and no time for me." The words fall dull off his tongue. "But then. That's a repeating story these days, isn't it? Mummy and daddy didn't love me enough and I was born with world-ending powers."

Deckard's, "Thanks," for the gun is muffled. He's quiet about the reloading, raising and shooting process. As subtle as he can be about finally putting a period on the end of that little ordeal. The wary sideways look he can't quite keep himself from passing over at Niles once that's done is harder to ignore.

"You were an angsty teenager. Like — in the past tense?" Wary looks and the potentially murderous disposition of present company aside, something else Deckard can't help is a skeptical lift of one brow before he leans over to spit out his few remaining pellets.

"Now I'm an angsty young adult. Technically, I am out of my teens." Niles lights a cigarette and moves to sit on an overturned and abandoned post box. He watches the pigeon flailing about with some dark interest. Shades of the man he will become if the people around him aren't careful. Or don't decide he needs to be put down.

"Well. That might explain why you're bothering with the likes of me," A smirk from Niles as he pulls the cigarette away from his lips and exhales like someone who has been smoking far longer than he should have been. Rebellion comes easily when you're dragged away from your father and deposited in a new country. "How many were you, then?" His clan, he means.

"Think so?" If Deckard's expression is any indication, he's never really fancied himself as the protective elder brother type. There's a somewhat pitiful edge of earnest curiosity to what otherwise sounds like a cynical question. Meanwhile the weight of the pellet gun finally settles evenly across his back, slacking off the strain on his neck enough for him to pop it sideways. With another wince and a grunt, wiry muscle traced into individual rough fibers beneath the grizzled bristle of stubble at his jaw. "Just two."

Niles kicks at a clump of something that was once recognizable, shiny, new, and bought. Now whatever that piece is, litters the street and steals its beauty. He draws air through the filter and glows the ember of the cigarette red-hot. "Don't know why the fuck else you'd choose a shit assignment like babysitting the psychopath with the time traveling duplicate. And it is a choice. I don't see anyone here with a gun to your head making you deal with me." He glances sidelong at the older man.

"If you really think you're a psychopath, you have nothing to gain from interrogating me about something that's almost inevitably based in personal weakness and pathetic emotional conditioning. …Save maybe some personal amusement at my expense." That option allowed with casual bite, Deckard meets Niles's sidelong look head on, the pale color in his eyes harsh, jaw sunken in on either side.

"You don't amuse me, Deckard. You baffle the hell out of me." Niles leans forward, elbows on knees, cigarette to lips. "I can't figure out if you're a good man, a broken man or a foolish man." He scratches at his temple and then rolls his shoulders back. "But that's not surprising considering I can't quite figure myself out either."

"Why never handsome? Or inspiring? Or charming?" Questions that answer themselves but don't answer Niles, which is probably the idea. Suit lapels straightened out with an unconscious tug, Deckard finishes his hardened look with a less substantial up and down glance before he finally winds his way over to where Niles is sitting.

Niles chuckles dryly. "Sorry man, you look like an old shoe and you barely talk. I suppose you're an inspiring shot. And you have an inspiring collection of weapons. How's that?" He purses his lips and sucks something out from between his teeth.

"I'm talking now." No argument on the old shoe thing, for all that something that looks very much like offense cuts clear through the knit of his brow ahead of a glance away, down the street. Blood pools red around downy tufts of white and grey a little ways away. "We should get moving."

The arrogance of the young. Niles can afford it, because he has a sneaking suspicion there's a countdown on his life. He stands, tosses a hand in the air, then flicks the nub of a cigarette towards a trashcan. "Where to, now? Back into my box?"

"I dunno. Psychopaths make for crappy company," said the pot to the kettle. Deckard shifts the weight of the gun on his shoulder, long legs stretched longer by a stiff rise up onto his toes. He's restless, dull-edged energy knotting coarse through muscle drawn taut without direction. "We could murder some hookers."

Niles's smile twitches, then disappears. His expression darkens to something like shame. "I don't like killing. What I like is…" he hesitates. "…what I need to do is let out this energy. I don't like to hurt people." He glances sidelong at Deckard. "Where I was? Before they threw me in that box? People fearing you gave you power. They only had to imagine that I'd do fucked up things and people stayed away from me and my friends. But they know I'd never hurt them." But never say never. Ten years in the slammer has a way of changing a man.

Pfff. Deckard almost rolls his eyes, cigarette flipped off into a skippy tumble across cracked asphalt while he sets off at a walk. Back, indeed, in the direction of the Safehouse they came from. "So what, you're just going to mope along hating yourself until you do kill someone because you can't be bothered to — " trip and fall on your face. Apparently. Because that's exactly the process the rickety grave robber sets to miming out after his boot toe hooks over a raised crack in the concrete.

Despite the fact that Deckard was in the middle of a lecture, Niles reaches out to steady the older man. Can't let the only person who seems to give a damn about him break his neck. "Careful, careful. Don't break a hip." There's a chuckle that follows that. It really was a good-hearted rib. For the most part.

Deckard reaches out as well, however awkwardly. His bony hand finds purchase at the base of Niles's neck, where it wraps with about the same amount of care for comfort he'd offer a tree or metal pole. His thumb clenches in first, long fingers chill against bare skin until…they aren't. Nothing's is. Warmth buzzes in soft through Niles's extremities, lax, creeping comfort distinguishing itself from the austere state of the rest of the world like a much needed piss taken in a cold pool. Could have something to do with the source, who is too busy eyeing the younger man blankly to right himself all the way.

The first thing to benefit from that creeping warmth is the crooked ache that still hovers in his face, that has been lingering for weeks, even though the punch is long since thrown. An errant bit of bone and bent cartilage is repaired, set right again. Little knicks and scratches he didn't even know where there are the next to trickle away.

The warmth invades him, like the heat from a warm furnace. It infuses his body, and his mind. He is suddenly overcome with the most strangely soothing sensation. He is like a twitchy horse suddenly blinded. Things that had been picking at him, a nagging, distant voice, silenced.

Even as it feels pleasant, suspicion grows. "What are you doing?" he murmurs, eyes closed, face contorted. He purses his lips, swallows.

"I dunno." Deckard's distracted as well. For different reasons, maybe. He can sense where this healing stuff goes whether he likes it or not, and there sure is a lot of it touching at the region of Niles's squishy brain.

A slow blink later, he shakes himself and straightens up the rest of the way, right hand still gripping at the scruff of the other guy's neck while Abby's ability does its thing independently of any desire he may or may not have to help. "Healing."

Niles folds slowly downwards, towards the ground. He is filled with such a strangely sedate sense of ease that it's impossible to stay upright. It's like he's been doped, but really, it's the sensation of no longer fighting himself. Like a man released of a thirty pound burden, he feels impossibly light. "Healing…what?" he murmurs. The muscles in his face go slack, his eyes remain closed.

"…Your head." No need to get into specifics. Deckard's hand stays firmly in place where the rest of him blanches and grays out. Whatever fuel he might've put back from what he's eaten today burns off in a puff of smoke, fleeting an insubstantial on its way into deeper reserves of energy.

The broken parts, the damaged parts. The parts of Niles' brain pushed too far too fast with Aria's help. It's like muscle strains in his brain, overextensions that lead to weak spots. He reaches back to set a hand on Deckard's wrist to try and gently pry it back. "You can stop…now."

No need to tell him twice. Flint's hand falls away as soon as the prying starts, grasp relenting without struggle or argument. If he looked like an old shoe before, now he looks like one that's been set on fire and rained on recently. All the tension in his shoulders has sunk to nothing. Just breathing has him breaking the beginning of a cold sweat.

Niles kneels for a minute, upright. Then, slowly, he bends towards the ground. The silence of his own mind is deafening. The urges that he's kept a tight leash on have gone oddly silent. They're still there, somewhere. He can hear them peeping. But it's a peep instead of a murmur that sometimes become a shout.

Slowly he folds back up and turns towards Deckard. He blinks, owlishly. "That…was…" and he can't quite find the word.

"Shut up." No affection or humor there. Desperation, almost. The blackened fringes of shame and a bad taste on the back of his tongue that's knit firmly into his brow. He's looking away, the hand that was on Niles closed into a white-knuckled fist. "Start walking."

Niles gets to his feet with some effort. Everything feels…wrong. He doesn't quite feel like himself. Which is quite true, really. He has been reset to a previous version, in a way. Before his power was pushed, before he had months of use of it to fracture his brain. He's too addled to argue with Deckard, or really get the state the older man is. So he just bobs his head and starts to move in the direction of the safehouse.

Deckard stays where he is, but standing still does little to clear away the light-headedness cobwebbing its way through the worn out ridges in his brain. One deep breath. Two deep breaths. Three. He swallows, finds he has nothing to swallow, and blinks hard before finally leaning himself forward into a trudging walk. He can — nap when they get there. Something.

Niles would offer Deckard a shoulder, an arm, someone to lean against. But he's not very steady on his pins either. Also, he's a little bit hesitant to touch him again. Not only because that was weird, but because the other man doesn't look so hot because of it. He shuffles along for a few steps, then wordlessly offers out the flask of whiskey again.

It's a while before Deckard is aware enough to note the offered flask. Once he does, he takes it to work the cap off in vacant silence. He sips without faltering, and on they go, likely without another word spoken along the way.

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