Ba Ba


bai-chan_icon.gif brian_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif

Scene Title Ba Ba
Synopsis What we have worn out our iron-soled shoes searching for in vain may come to us without the slightest effort. — Chinese Proverb
Date February 7, 2009

Filatov Clinic

Talk to Dr.Filatov. Wait, you say Dr. Filatov, the Doctor who is possibly creepy and lets Eileen stay at his place, Dr. Filatov? Great! This will be easier than he thought. Originally thinking he might have to shoot himself in the arm or something to get an appointment, Brian instead gets to visit a friend.

Marching through the snow and ice, Brian has had a few regrets about deciding to bring Bai-Chan along. For one he's not as friendly as Joe. Two, once his hands stick to your head there's no telling if they'll ever come back. But the young man has the boy perched on his shoulders as he navigates the rookery. he can't help but feel insecure, do criminals have children? Have criminals seen children? It makes the gun in the back of his pants all the more assuring. A saturday afternoon, he's not sure if this place would be open or not. But hopefully Eileen is home.

Arriving at the door, Brian gives a little glance up at Bai-Chan. "Nihao." One of the only words he knows, so he just uses it over and over again, much for his own amusement, and most likely Bai-Chan's bewilderment. Bringing up his hand he gives a firm knock at the door.

Bai-Chan has come up with a way of coping with Brian's incessant nihao'ing at him. That is, to respond in kind. "Nihao~," he tells the man, curling his back a little so he can make eye contact briefly before straightening up once more, hands clenched not too tightly in Brian's hair, heels firmly braced against the man's chest as he rides his shoulders to the clinic. Not that Bai-Chan really knows where they're going, but that's okay by him. From this height, he can see a lot of people, and his dark eyes search them out, as if looking for someone. Two someones, actually.

At the door, however, Bai-Chan is the most serious kid while getting a shoulder ride in the world, mouth in a slight frown and brow lowered. He's dressed a little better, out of the dirty clothes he'd been first seen in, wearing the same kind of pants that expose bruised and bug-bitten shins, feet bare at the moment, but he wears a hoodie sweater with 'NEW YORK' written on the front and back. As Brian knocks on the door, the young boy balances for a moment to pull up the hood over his head, before his hands place back down on Brian's.

Why? Maybe even Bai-Chan doesn't know.

It takes Eileen a few moments to answer the door, but when she does she appears to be alone. Normally, such an arrangement would be an open invitation for trouble to come knocking, so it's probably no big surprise when the guarded expression on her face softens into something a little more amicable upon recognizing the pair standing on the clinic's stoop. "I was hoping you'd drop in," she says, gaze shifting from Brian to the little boy perched on his shoulders and then back down again.

A wood-burning stove crackles in the background, lending the clinic's interior a warm, golden glow entirely unlike the sterile condition of the hospitals back on Manhattan. Not wanting to let the heat out, Eileen ushers Brian and his ward inside. "I picked some things up from the market that I thought you might be able to use," she explains. "It's not much, but…"

Stepping in, Brian gives a little smile to Eileen. "He came back." He notes, "He's not wearing his shoes right now but I swear I gave them back to him. I promise." He says with a little grin. Going to turn and close the door behind him. He then looks back to Eileen. "Really? That's sweet of you, you didn't have to do that." Bringing up his hands he goes to scoop Bai-Chan off his shoulders, stepping over to the wall. He holds Bai-Chan close to it, waiting for him to latch on.

"Bai-Chan, this is Ei-leeeen. Eileen, Bai-Chan." He says with a proud and triumphant smile. "What did you get?"

It's as easy as if setting him down on the ground - Bai-Chan reaches with his hands towards the wall, which slip an inch before fixing fast, hands spread without needing to find even minute handholds. His shins come into contact with the surface next, fixing fast similarly, and with all the casualness in the world, Bai-Chan scoots up a little further towards the ceiling. Releasing one hand, he turns enough to look towards Eileen, then at Brian, squinting an eye. More introductions. That much, he can understand. "Ei-leen," he repeats, simply, with an accent thicker than the man Eileen remembers his father to have, such a fact that escapes this room entirely.

Eileen raises both her dark eyebrows at Bai-Chan. Well, that explains how he was able to climb all the way up to the top of the lighthouse, doesn't it? "No," she tells Brian, crossing the room to where a handheld wicker basket sits on the seat of an old leather armchair that looks like it belongs to the clinic's proprietor. "I know I didn't. You and your friends didn't have to give me back to my family, either."

Eileen picks up the basket, her eyes narrowing just a fraction when Bai-Chan speaks. There's something very familiar about the cadence of his speech, and it causes her to pause, lapsing into retrospection. "He doesn't speak much English, does he?" she asks, though the question itself is a rhetorical one. She pulls back the scarf that was covering the basket's contents, and offers the entire bundle to Brian. "Tetanus vaccine for the kids in case someone steps on something. Winter gloves, socks — I bought Bai-Chan some new boots as well since I wasn't sure what sort of shape his shoes were in. These are made of leather, so they should at least be a little sturdier."

"You bought me tetanus?" Brian asks, his face melting. "How sweet." He says, with a broad smile at her. Obviously very grateful at the gesture. "Other girls buy me stupid things like shirts, or gift cards but this, this is truly a gift." He teases, glancing over his shoulder at Bai-Chan. "Either that or he speaks it fluently and just likes attention." He jokes with a little grin.

Turning to face Bai-Chan, Brian grabs the little boots out of the basket and holds them up for Bai-Chan to see. "Nihao?" He asks. 'Would you like to try them on?' is easily enough understood from the actual 'hello' word with the right body language.

If, in fact, Bai-Chan can speak fluently and fakes it for attention, he doesn't react to Brian's statement. He's slowly creeping along the wall, almost horizontal, one arm pointed down towards the ground with a hand braced there for balance as he goes. Going fast is much easier for him, it seems, and purely 90 degree angles are also tricky. Nihao, however, gets his attention, head snapping up and eyeing the shoes. As if trying to figure out what is meant by this, there's a long pause, before— thud. He simply drops to the floor, rolls with a surprising amount of agility, landing on his butt, legs splayed. Long arms reach out for the boots, apparently willing to try them out then and there.

Eileen's modest knowledge of Mandarin encompasses a few small words Wu-Long used to drop in conversation and then translate for her. She isn't sure if Bai-Chan speaks the same dialect that her late protector did, but she makes an attempt to reach out just the same, crouching down by the chair with her hands resting on her knees. "Hen hao," she murmurs, her pronounciation a little stilted. "Very good."

She looks up at Brian from where she sits but offers him no explanation as to where she picked up Chinese. He's a smart man — he should be able to piece it together. "There are two doses in there," she says, "but if you need more, I'll ask Dr. Filatov if he can sell me some at a discount. Be careful with them. Medicine isn't cheap out here."

"Bai-Chan can have one. I don't think Joe will need it. I don't think he could have it." Brian notes with a little shrug, going to his knees the young man sets his basket by him setting the boots down he goes to dig out a little pair of socks first. Holding them out he goes to slide a sock on each foot, should Bai-Chan allow him. Then he will continue with the little booties. "I wonder if he can stick to stuff with shoes on." Brian muses out loud.

"What does that mean? " And Brian does figure it out, but he doesn't figure out the late part. "Is that guy still around? Think he might be able to teach me—you, some more words? So that I can help out this little guy some more? Or if you know any other people who speak asian." Brian murmurs, going to tie one of the boots on. But oddly enough when he ties the boots, he closes his eyes. And keeps them closed til the task is done.

When Eileen speaks to him in his native tongue, she's met with a sternly curious look, as if judging her accent, before a wide and sudden smile alights on his face. Either he's mocking her, or genuinely approves. It fades as Bai-Chan allows Brian to put on his boots for him, watching Brian's activities and staying quiet as usual. After the second foot is being secured into a boot, he then peers at the basket Eileen's put together, neck craning as if to attempt to see inside, but from this vantage point, no such luck.

"Zhang Wu-Long died fighting Volken when he was still in control of Sylar's body," Eileen says with a small shake of her black-haired head. "I wasn't there, so I don't know the details, only that he's gone — same as everyone else. The only other person I know who speaks it is missing. If he was still alive, the birds would be able to feel him… and they don't." She reaches up, eyes lidding shut, and rubs her fingertips along the bridge of her nose. "I'll see what I can do about tracking down a dictionary for you. There's a guy who runs a pawn shop down the street who might have something."

Her eyes open again and her gaze settles on Bai-Chan once more, the corners of her lips quirking up into a doleful smile. "Wan mei," she whispers. Then, for Brian's benefit: "It means perfect. I think."

Brian opens his eyes as well, after tying the boots. Looking over to Eileen, he gives a little smirk. "When I try to speak it he just gives me angry-eyes. I think he likes you more." He notes, moving the basket so that Bai-Chan can have a better look into it. Just more clothes and tetanus, boring stuff, you know.

"I'm sorry, Eileen." Brian says softly, bringing up one hand slowly to rest on her shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze, his features full of concern and sympathy. "Are, you alright? If you need anything…" He gestures himself before returning his attention to Bai-Chan with a smile, no sadness here!

"Nihao." Brian says in mimicry of the way Eileen says Wan mei, giving Bai-Chan a thumbs up. "Pawn shop? Right. I can stop by. Oh, right, Eileen. I need to ask you a couple questions. Thank you very much for the basket, by the way, I really appreciate it. But.. I'm looking for a guy. Heard he might have washed up around here. Think you could keep an eye and an ear out for him?"

And now, Bai-Chan is staring at Eileen, which isn't so odd. At least not for him - he's a strange little kid. Apparently forgetting about the new shoes on his feet, he also misses Brian's smile. In fact, he misses most of everything, until the adults continue to talk. "Bu!" he cries abruptly, arms up and hands spread, in a 'stop!' kind of manner. Paaause to make sure they have stopped. Then, scrabbling in a way that is perhaps unusually clumsy for Bai-Chan, his hands reach out to grip Eileen's arm. "Zhang!" he says, excitedly. "Zhang Bai-Chan!" He jumps once, still clutching her arm. A litany of rapid fire Mandarin ensues, hard to discern one word from the next, but if one listens closely, Wu-Long is certainly repeated.

"Your negator?" It's not exactly a stab in the dark. Eileen was on the bridge when it collapsed; Phoenix only had so many people there, and of everyone who went into the water… "The man whose face was covered. I checked the bodies at the graveyard to see if I recognized any of them, but he wasn't there. Still, I'll let you know if I hear anything. What's his na—"

Before Eileen can finish her inquiry, Bai-Chan is demanding that they cease and grabbing her arm. She doesn't flinch away, but she does reach up to place one of her small hands on his as if to reassure him that, yes, she's listening.

"Slow down, slow down," she says, holding up her other hand, palm flat. "Zhang Bai-Chan? Is that your name?"

"Yeah the negator, how did you kno— " Brian stares at Bai-Chan, brows high. He hasn't seen the boy freak out like this yet. Watching him quietly he gives a little frown. His eyes skim in between Bai-Chan and Eileen. "How— What—" No way. "You can't be serious." He mutters to no one in particular.

Bai-Chan's gaze switches from her open palm, then towards her face. Brian goes ignored for the time being, he didn't say the magic word. Which wasn't necessarily Zhang, but in combination with that other name… his hands tighten a little further on Eileen's arm, as if worried he'd be yanked away. If he was, it might be more than a little painful for the other woman, his palms almost hot against her arm. "Zhang. Bai-Chan," he says in clipped and clear words.

It is entirely possible that Zhang is a common name in the region Bai-Chan's family hails from, and this is something Eileen takes into careful consideration before attempting to formulate a response. When she does, she accompanies it with a gesture of her hand, holding it open and vertical as she moves it across her chest from right to left — it's the British sign for soldier, though this isn't the word she decides to use. "Zhang Wu-Long was a warrior," she says slowly, enunciating each word with care as she repeats the motion, "he fought for a people called the Vanguard. Do you know him?"

It's hard to say what from Eileen's words rings a bell. Maybe even 'Vanguard' does, because it's all taken in with complete attention. "Zhang Wu-Long," he repeats with comprehension, this combination seemingly breaching the gap of limited vocabulary, and he watches her gesture. He didn't know his father, but he seems to realise what she means. "Ba ba," he explains. Brian might know that word, but all of a sudden, Bai-Chan's excitement dies in lieu of wariness. Still, he licks his licks lips thoughtfully, and translates it into what English he knows, accent harsh: "Father." To emphasise, he says the word they've both heard him speak already. "Parents. No parents." He. Doesn't know how right he is.

How do you even begin to explain death to six-year-old who doesn't speak your language? Eileen's heart plummets. "I didn't know he had children here in New York," she says to Brian, fighting to keep the quaver from her voice. "He didn't talk a lot about his family, so I always assumed they were—" Dead? Somewhere in China? She doesn't elaborate. Instead, she brushes her knuckles against Bai-Chan's cheek. "Your ba ba is resting forever, sweet one. We had to put him in the ground, but I can show you where he is if you want to visit him."

That isn't exactly true. Eileen doesn't know where Wu-Long's body is or what Kazimir did with it, but there is a small patch of earth set aside in memory of the Vanguard's black dragon — a solemn testament to his existence sculpted from piles of stone somewhere deep inside the island's greenbelt. Let it never be said that she doesn't keep her promises to the dead.

"That's impossible. What are the odds.." Brian frowns deeply. "He's not going to understand you. I'll have to get a dictionary." A dictionary to explain death to a six year old. Suck. Brian looks over to Eileen. "Well, this is depressing." He points out. "I—.." What exactly do you do in this situation? "We…" Hmm. Stumpied. "Maybe we should go home.."

Eileen is the one who said the magic word, and so Bai-Chan listens to her, and listens, and if he comprehends, well— his expression is as blank as it's going to get. Finally, his hands loosen from her arm, and he looks down at where his feet are clad in new leather boots. They fit reasonably well, with room for growing. He rocks up onto his toes, making the leather squeak, and seems to reach a decision. Turning to Brian, he extends his arms up— a gesture he usually does if he wants something— and bounces once, the same way he did before he'd been swung onto the man's shoulders. "Nihao," he 'requests', quietly.

Eileen stands up and hugs her arms against her chest, one hand on each her elbows. She's had plenty of time to grieve the loss, but seeing Wu-Long's resemblence standing in front of her and recognizing Bai-Chan for what he is reopens the wound and yanks out all the emotional stitching in terrible handfuls, proverbial fist clenched and dripping. To her credit, however, she does not cry. It's easier — less exhausting — to make peace with the anxious knots in her belly, swallow back the growing lump in her throat and bid the two a wordless farewell simply by nodding.

"Nihao." Brian says in confirmation, tucking his hands under the arms of the boy he goes to stand easily. Turning him mid-air to plop him down on his shoulders. Once settled, he goes to bend — carefully — to get the basket. Then he regards Eileen. Looking concerned he takes a step forward, one hand going to find hers, the other maintaining itself on Bai-Chan's leg. To make sure he doesn't fall off until he gets a firm grip on his head. Squeezing Eileen's hand he gives her a look that says 'sorry' without actually saying it. "Come by soon." He murmurs softly before turning to go.

February 7th: Where's Sergei?
February 7th: Because Of You
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