Beginnings Anew


amato_icon.gif gillian4_icon.gif

Scene Title Beginnings Anew
Synopsis Amato receives a gift for his show of support and friendship and Gillian learns that forgiveness helps in many ways.
Date August 24, 2010

The Garden

Situated in a copse several miles away from the nearest stretch of asphalt, the Garden is accessible via an old dirt road that winds snakelike through the woods and dead-ends at the property's perimeter, which is surrounded by stone wall plastered with wicked coils of rusty barbed wire to keep would-be intruders from attempting to scale it. Those with a key can gain entry via the front gate.

The safehouse itself is a three-story brickwork cottage over a century old and covered in moss and ivy. It slants to one side, suggesting that the foundation has been steadily sinking into the wet earth; incidentally, this may be one of the reasons why its prior occupants never returned to the island to reclaim their property when government officials lifted evacuation orders and re-opened the Verrazano-Narrows shortly before its eventual destruction.

Inside, the cottage is decorated in mismatched antique furniture including a couch in the living room and an armchair nestled in the corner closest to the fireplace that go well with the safehouse's hardwood floors and the wood-burning stoves in some of the spare bedrooms. A heavy wooden table designed to seat eight separates the dining area from the rest of the kitchen, which is defined by its aged oak cabinetry and the dried wildflowers hanging above them.

The barn on the Garden's property isn't huge - simply large enough to house and care for the few horses the safehouse retains to navigate the more remote areas of Staten Island. As the sun inches below the horizon, Amato stands in one of the stalls with one of the mares. She contentedly eats from the rack of hay hung at one end of the enclousure, her eyes half-closed as the man runs a curry comb over her side and flank.

A chorus of crickets have already begun their nightly concert, and occasionally, the sweeping motion of Amato's arm is in rhythm with their song. The other mares in the barn, already groomed and in their boxes, periodically whinny to the others.

Horses, sadly, were never something Gillian got used to— it will take some time to get used to the idea that horses might actually be a viable mode of transportation. Her slow steps announce her presense, as she takes each one dilberately. Dressed simply, and coolly, she's not a bulky sight at all, but she's carrything a thick book held against her body. "Someone said you were out here— I still can't believe we have horses here…" And they're lucky that between Gabriel with Kazimir's ability and Peter that the horses didn't get sacrificed for the greater good of someone's aches and pains.

"Are you any good with them? I was never one of those girls who wanted a pony growing up." That'd been Jenny, but she's not going to say that. "I— was hoping you hadn't left. I went into town today to get something for you." Didn't she say she was going to go find an art book in a library?

"I've been kicked at a few times," Amato says with a smile and without turning to look through the open half-door to Gillian. "It's all about coming to an understanding. Being the one that feeds them doesn't hurt either." Gillian's lucky that Amato was finishing up his work. After a few more sweeps with the comb, he moves toward the door, letting his hand run along the mare's neck and giving her ear and fond caress on his way toward the door. Grabbing his bucket of supplies, he opens it and steps through onto the walkway made of wide boards. He notes the book then and arches his eyebrows. "This way."

He jerks his head toward the tack room, leading the way into it. In addition to a refrigerator for the various medicines kept on hand for the horses and the leather tack that hangs on the walls or else sits on wooden stands, there is a card table and a few chairs. Amato drops the bucket of supplies in a corner with similar ones and moves to an industrial sink and washes his hands. "What do you have there?"

The card table and a few chairs is safer than tredding deeper into the stable and stepping in a present left by one of the horses. Gillian sets the heavy book down on the table. The cover has an art piece on it, and the title reads Masterpieces Of Biblical Art. "I got you an art book," she says with a smile, touching it. "I actually ended up getting a bunch, a really nice person bought them for me, but I thought this one would suit you most, so I thought you'd like it." She looks up, as she pushes it forward, so he can pick it up himself.

"It's a thank you. For listening to me, and talking to me. And just being there." When so many others aren't. "I also got a tattoo," she says, holding up her right arm to show the mark, the skin red all around it, while the tattoo itself is black and stands out. "Time to fill in my blank slate again with things that are me, in this case, artwork." It's simple and tribal, with a yin-yang mixed into it.

Amato turns in the middle of drying his hands, surprised and intrigued at the notion that someone might give him a gift. He steps toward the table and looks at the book, then back up to Gillian and the new tattoo. He's never had a taste for body art, but he does nod in appreciation of the work before he slides into a chair to survey the book more closely.

"Gillian, you didn't have to do this," he says slowly as he admires the cover and opens the volume. The color plates are rich and well done indeed. He turns the pages slowly, moving from master to master. Michelangelo. Da Vinci. Bouguereau. Reni. He lingers on Caravaggio's depiction of Judith beheading Holofernes, but he stops when he comes to Memling's open tryptic of The Last Judgement.

With a sigh, Amato leans back and folds his relatively thin, tanned arms across his narrow chest. "It's beautiful. Molto bello." he says, his pale eyes starting to swim. "Grazie, Gillian."

"You're welcome," Gillian says with a smile, watching the masterpieces go by, and smiling at the one he lingers on. Yes, that was part of the reason she wanted to go there, but she was surprised to find it, anyway. Then again, it's a masterpiece. He'd said so, so it shouldn't have surprised her that it would be in one called a Masterpiece of Christian Art. "I know I didn't have to do it, I do, but— I'm glad I did. What you did for me meant a lot." Made up for some things. She'd needed it right then, and that was enough.

"And the people I met were really nice, and I got some good advice. And a few more art books, too. I couldn't even carry them all back, the rest are getting delivered to a friend's house for me." And after that, she'll pick them up and bring them back.

"But I'm going to put the others in the safehouse as— I guess table books. Let people flip through them. We need something beautiful out here, I think."

"There is plenty of beauty everywhere you look," Amato counters, one eyebrow lowering even as his smile slides into one side of his mouth. "Here we sit, tucked into the verdent splendor of creation, surrounded by people with extraordinary abilities. People who have seen tragedy and heartache, but who persevere in spite of it all. People who don't share these gifts, but have other amazing skills and who have learned how to put those differences aside."

Amato looks back to the book, letting his eyes move from one detail to another of the painting spread across the pages. "But you're right. We need to be reminded of what we are capable of. Of the beauty we can create, in spite of our more…disastrous tendencies."

Sitting down on the offered chair, Gillian folds her arms in a way that doesn't press too much against the new ink injected into her skin. Body art has it's own set of books, but those aren't the ones she bought. "People who have seen, been targets of, and even caused great tragedy," she says with a sad smile, knowing that she means the man across the table from her, but at the same time, she means herself.

Tragedy is a good way to describe most things of the past two years.

"I don't blame you anymore, for what happened. We were both victims of circumstance— and we've done things we shouldn't have done. Intentionally and unintentionally," she says, leaning forward a bit to look at the book. It's almost as if offering some forgiveness to him helps her forgive herself. Because without her ability, so much wouldn't have happened.

"That means a lot to me, Gillian," Amato says in a more subdued voice, his eyes settling on her face. "I thank you for it." Forgiveness, even if not explicitly stated, is clear enough in her words. "I will try to make it up to you, somehow." Her and all the others as well, wherever they may be. "Thank you again," and Amato lifts a hand to close the book, letting his long fingers spread across the cover. "For everything."
ORDER: It is now your pose.

"Well, I'm sure I can think of…" ThereTeach me how to ride a horse?"

"Well, I'm sure I can think of…" There's a pause, and Gillian suddenly looks toward the stable. It's an odd request that she never thought she would ask, but… "Teach me how to ride a horse? I'm going to be staying here for a while, and it might be a skill I'll need later, if I'm going to keep living on Staten Island, and especially here." The horses may not be what she expected either, but it's one thing she doesn't know, that he knows…

It won't make up for everything, but it's something.

He nods, but his shoulders bend with it, turning the motion into more of a bow. "I'd be delighted," he says before he straightens and stands, pulling the book up with him.

"Now, if I remember correctly, we still have a puzzle to finish, Ms. Childs."

"And now I have an idea what the end product looks like," Gillian says, tapping the book. "But— call me Gillian. I'm not going to be using my last name anymore, because there's a lot of people who know it that would want to drag me off and toss me in a dark hole and force me to participate in experiments. So just Gillian," she offers a dimpled smile, despite the sadness of tossing her last name out of her life. If she could as easily discard her first, she would.

"Let's see if we can finish it tonight."

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