Cats Have It Easy


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Scene Title Cats Have It Easy
Synopsis When people are keeping secrets, they usually get revealed eventually. And the cat get's most the affection. And the food.
Date May 17, 2009

Safehouse: Queens

The small fridge casts yellow light into the dark kitchen, and Gabriel's larger frame blots most of it out as he moves to lean, peer in, reach a hand inside and root around. He's not sure who restocks this thing. A Ferrymen magical elf, perhaps, maybe Gillian. He does, too, when he remembers to, but there's never much in the way of food no matter how hard they try.

He's placed his well-fondled handgun on the top of the appliance having only just entered the safehouse, and the microwave towards the left of him glows red numbers. 9: 58 PM. By the time it ticks to 59, Gabriel is shutting the fridge, placing down a plastic container of some form of pasta salad alongside the newspaper he'd picked up. The one that lies about how he and a certain time traveling Nakamura had destroyed New York. At least now they have something in common.

The drawer scrapes noisily as he wrenches it out, the wood swollen from previous water damage and jerky, a metal clatter as he picks out a fork. Next time he decides to sit in Calvary Cemetery for hours, clearly he needs to pack dinner, as he hasn't even taken off his coat. The gun is remembered, swiped off its perch and pocketed, and he moves to sit down, forehead clasped his hand for a moment as he picks what will have to count as dinner open with his other, fingernails seeking out the crevice of the plastic lid.

In this lighting, with only a high window open to allow for something to filter into the dark nighttime kitchen, he appears more sleepless than healthy, hair only haphazardly finger-combed into place and stubble darker and darker on his throat and cheeks. It could be worse. He could forget to eat.

Some of the food in the fridge definitely found it's way there thanks to trips made by Gillian. She'd been waking up fairly early a few mornings, heading out, and coming back in the afternoon with food and other belongings to make the safehouse they've taken as a piece of their own a little more like somewhere they could live. There's also one "belonging" of sorts that she retrieved from one of the safehouses, and that actually greets him before any sign of her does.

The padding of feet doesn't even register until suddenly a bundle of orange fur jumps up onto the seat he's found to eat his pasta salad. Chandra seems far more interested in invading the private space of his lap than his dinner, at least. Since the change in abilities, he's much more inclined to rub up against the man who named him.

"Hey, you're back," a raspy voice says, hand hanging onto a doorframe. Black hair pulled back into a ponytail, only the bangs hanging practically into her eyes obscure her face. Lips part into a hint of a smile, perhaps at the cat more than the man, before she lets out a sigh, "You're not taking very good care of yourself," she says, noting the stubble, the hair. And various other little hints. "But I'm glad you're eating."

Gabriel's back stiffens as a set of four paws land gently in his lap, Chandra's back arching and letting his stripy tail come up and hit Gabriel promptly in the chin. The first instinct is to push the cat away before his brain catches up his actions, and instead he strokes one broad hand down the cat's curving back, eyes hooding a little in faint amusement. Said hand is free of bandages, although still healing burns make the skin there seem tight and shiny, and his touch to his former or maybe current pet is tentative.

He looks up across the room as Gillian makes her entrance, an eyebrow raising a fraction at her observation. "I'm taking enough care of myself," is the inevitable argument, slipping his hand beneath Chandra to gently lift and then lower the cat back onto the ground. Even if a piece of him might appreciate the cat's affection, he's hungry. "I'm sleeping, too. Easier done when you can't hear."

Because the lack of superhearing still counts as deafness to a man who has had it for as long as he has. He can't hear anything out this room, save for distant and likely illegal traffic that sounds like a dream than anything real. His fork skewers a piece of pasta - shells, it seems, served cold with pieces of shredded chicken, various slices of vegetable, mayonnaise. It tastes like nothing, but he assumes it's healthy enough.

Forced down near his feet, Chandra will not be deteered, rubbing up against the man's ankles with winding steps, tail swishing back and forth. The attention had been too brief, but even if everything else had been lost, one thing got regained. The cat no longer runs away and hides when he enters the room. It'd forced her to send him off to a safehouse to stay as opposed to living with them in Staten Island again.

Gillian lets her hand drop away from the door frame, dressed simply in black jeans and a loose shirt as she walks over to the fridge to pull out a bottle of water for herself, and a second for him, so he has something to wash his dinner down with. It's better than most foods.

"I know you're sleeping, I'm just… worried about you," she admits, holding out the bottle of water to him, should he care to take it. "The news seems to have new theories about who was behind blowing up New York. I wonder where they got that one." Considering the tiny Japanese man happened to be part of the whole 'save Peter from Moab' thing, she doubts he was part of the people behind the whole thing at all. Even if she kinda dislikes the man for his attitude at a certain Phoenix meeting.

Switching fork from one hand to the other, Gabriel takes the water easily, uncapping it and giving a soft snort at her words when he downs a sip. The cat is making figure eights around his feet, and Gabriel obliges by keeping his legs still. He'd only had the birds to talk to and none of them are particularly loving, even if a cat's affection is generally make believe. "Whatever's convenient I suppose," he says, setting down the bottled water and angling the newspaper a little closer. A picture of Hicks at his podium, looking suitably somber to talk about Peter's power-incontinence that one time.

"It wasn't me," Gabriel feels inclined to add as he scans the small printed words. "Maybe he made the wrong people mad at him. Moab, I guess. We're all wanted people now."

There's a certain tone in his voice. Welcome to my world. He takes a bite of cold pasta and vegetable. "You don't have to worry about me. I've just been busy looking for one man in a city of several million people. You'd be surprised how hard that can be."

The power that happens to be something Gillian's been avoiding dealing with too much since she realized exactly what it was she'd been dealing with. Hopefully nothing that terrible will come from her particular abilities. That's the hope, anyway. Or it would have been if she'd continued going to lessons. The last couple of days, all her absenses have been for shorter trips. To internet cafes, to actual shopping. Staten Island ferry boats haven't been on the agenda for a short time, at least. And luckily she's avoided picking up any new abilities… that she knows of.

"Don't imagine they'd be too happy— not with all their prisoners up and vanishing. I'm still surprised we're all not on the news yet." She'd not fully disguised herself when they'd gone in, but maybe the monitoring room had been destroyed and they failed to get records of everyone involved in the raid. She'd like to think that might be the case…

Opening her bottle of water with one hand, she moves to find her own seat while Chandra continues to prefer his legs over hers. "Who're you looking for?"

"It's probably not good publicity to start a witch hunt on a bunch of earnest twenty-somethings," Gabriel points out, dismissing the newspaper once it's scanned and going back to poking around his dinner. A chunk of chicken is stabbed onto the end of his fork, and then lowered down in offer to Chandra, who sniffs it like the most discerning of connoisseurs before piercing it with his tiny needle fangs for himself.

That question gets a somewhat incredulous glance from Gabriel, although— to be fair, he has been closed about exactly what he's been doing, almost as much as Gillian. Still. "John," he says, flatly, before he's drawing his arm back up, utensil now clean of chicken. Back to picking through his dinner, his tone a little less sharp than it was before. "Or Tyler Case, is his real name. The man who did this to us. I can't find the right people to talk to, so I've been scouting out where his sister is buried. Everyone gets sentimental sometimes."

Secret or not, it makes sense, even if Gillian can't help but grimace at his flat voice. The harsheness might have dropped, but her eyes end up following the swishing of a tail instead of looking at his face. Chandra stops pacing back and forth against his legs, instead sitting down with front legs extended, looking up. Looking directing at the lap he'd been ejected from, waiting patiently for the time to pounce. As long as the arm keeps going up and down, he might be satisfied with just watching.

"Right— I don't have to ask why, but you shouldn't be doing that on your own." What's he going to do? Pull out his much fondled gun and shoot the man? The file that she'd been handed by Cat gets recalled, in far more detail than she should be capable of. There's a shake of her head, which shifts her bangs around, before she adds on, "Nothing I've heard tells me where he is— or either of them, I want everything changed back as much as you do, but you're going to need help for this…" This wouldn't be the first time she's told him he needed help with something, but this time she's got more reason to think he does… "He won't be able to switch everything into the right place without… without all of us."

The angle of his shoulders betray tension that his casual look down towards his food and actions of eating don't. A flat horizon, but stiff beneath layers of back fabric. "And we need to find him first," Gabriel states, not really looking at her either. "Someone should be at least doing that much, or do you think all three of us together should join arms and hunt as a group without even a clue of where to start?"

Maybe lying about the sleeping, irrational irritation filtering into his voice, shaping his sentence, and his gaze rolls away for a moment, dropping his fork so as to gesture, meeting her eyes. "Look, if I find him, I can follow him, and we have something to go on." He shrugs, a jerky movement. "Or I can shoot him in the leg and we can convene. Shoot him in the other leg if he doesn't cooperate, I don't know. And no."

The last two sentences come out clipped, Gabriel picking up his fork. "You don't want it as much as I do."

"You have it all figured out," Gillian rasps thickly, trying her best to keep the tension from rising up as more than that. There's something very dangerous about too much tension these days. Especially if she thinks too much on the people the man who zapped them works with, and what one of them said he was sent to do to her. Closing the cap of the drink she fetched for herself, she stands up to cross back to the fridge to put it away, turning her back to him as she tries to shut out the rising tension inside her. When the fridge gets closed, she keeps her back to him, lips pressing together even more than they already were.

"I don't want this power," she finally says, raising her voice a little, but not shouting. "You know what it could do to this city because you've seen it. You were even there— right there— when it happened." She shakes her head, turning back to him. "All three of us want things to go back to how they're supposed to be. The two of you are fucking wrecks and I'm a god damned ticking time bomb just waiting to go off. I don't think it matters who wants it more."

Suddenly not hungry, as Gillian's voice, the defense there, the argument, is a metal sponge to his shot nerves. Dropping the fork into the container and pushing it somewhat away from him, Gabriel fixes her with a look, hands braced against the edge of the table.

"Maybe it does when only one of us is doing something about it instead of adapting." His voice is quiet, but harsh, gaze just as sharp. "You don't know why I was brought here, you don't understand. I was almost killed because I couldn't do anything and it took Abigail a day, a night, and your power to fix it."

Strange how these things come out when pushed. Gabriel instantly regrets it, if the set of his jaw has anything to say about it, and he almost— almost— misses the meaning in her words. His hand is up to rub his brow, his eye, then frowning, looking at her. "What do you mean, he's a wreck?" Well, he knows what it means, if being a wreck means being unshaven, bone-weary, scattered and distracted and prone to snapping like a stretched elastic band. What he means to ask is, how do you know?

A flick of a tail and Chandra doesn't seem to understand, or perhaps care, that there's an argument beginning. Or maybe he's trying to show his support by jumping up onto the lap and trying to claim some warmth from the man who didn't get to finish his entire dinner. "I'm not adapting," Gillian says in frustration, the tension continuing to mount. Double vision hasn't started yet, so that's the one good thing about this, but there's an awareness that this could become much worse than she wants it to. The tension creates more tension which creates even more. "I know you were hurt— and I wish I would have been there to help you, but I can't… I can't change that now."

It'd been a choice that she'd made, and while she ended up leaving Peter in a safehouse still unconscious with just a letter when she finally made her way across to see him, she did choose to stay with Peter… and had been unable to find him in her one trip out of the safehouse to look.

"He's probably less of a wreck now, but he nearly died too— you saw him. I probably fractured his ribs just carrying to the safehouse by myself," she mutters, trying to keep from raising her voice anymore. It just makes the tension worse… But that doesn't change the hint of something else in her voice, a bitterness.

Gabriel's mouth draws into a line as Chandra leaps back into his lap, again brushing aside that first impulse, although no pettings are forthcoming. Finally, however, Gabriel arms come to gather the ginger cat to his chest so that he might stand, a large ginger paw (for a cat, anyway) braced against his shoulder. Putting the table between them in further, Gabriel paces, posture tense even if his hand absently scratches beneath Chandra's chin, making the ginger tom purr. He can't yell at her if he's holding a cat, is the theory.

And Gabriel almost laughs. He nearly died too. Yeah, poor Peter. "He got flung into a wall and out of the way so that Rickham could kill me," he says, his voice also at a mutter, taking her cue. It doesn't actually help. "And that wasn't what I was talking about."

Her bitterness is matched with his own, gaze traveling away and then back to her to ask, directly, "What do you want me to do, Gillian? Wait for the rest of Phoenix to decide it's a good idea to get me back my powers and hope they help? Teo's made it perfectly clear there's no one I can trust. I'm just looking for him - I'm not so incompetent that I can't do that."

It could be that was Chandra's intention. Keep the fight from getting worse by putting himself between them. Or maybe he just wants attention. Tail flicking back and forth, satisfied with the attention he's getting, and even returning it with a rub of his head against hands and scuffy neck when he can manage it.

Gillian's not quite as calm and relaxed, the various tensions mounting as she allows there to be more things placed between them. Table, cat, distance. "What about me? You could trust me." It's such a simple thing to say, but it doesn't end there. Not even close. "You're perfectly capable of taking care of yourself, and hunting down Case if you can. But you could ask me."

Not trusting Phoenix is something she understands, that's why she avoided confirming Cat's suspicions that he's without abilities, or that he's stuck with an ability that he couldn't use to protect himself. It could easily be assumed, but it's better to just not confirm it. "And before this all happened— you and Peter had agreed to talk. And now you probably need to talk more than ever."

"It's not about trust. I work better on my own."

The answers are going to start coming out scattered, confused, as they should do during the heat of argument, the kind Gabriel could find the center of beneath all the hurt pride and hours of sleeplessness. The cat remains held, arms a little stiff. Likely Chandra will struggle out of it soon if comfort comes at such a price.

Throw the cat and run, maybe. Gabriel's expression twists into some of the anger he's feeling. "I told you we needed to talk to Peter. As far as I know he's still skulking around on Staten Island feeling sorry for himself." Because skulking around Midtown feeling sorry for yourself is heaps better, but at least Gabriel knows he's doing all he can to change his fate. Or thinks so.

"You may work better on your own, but not everyone does," Gillian rasps in a near snippy tone, snippy for her, at least, a hint of double vision finally starting to come over her as static begins to build in her hair. A hand lowers toward the nearby countertop where she's walked, bracing herself against it. Focus. Focus. It's difficult when something not completely in her control wants to get out.

"Can't you just see that I want you to want my help." Back before when she could only add a boost to his abilities, she'd wanted the same. She'd argued for it, fought for it, but somehow she feels like she needs that connection even more right now. Probably because she wants to believe that… he needs her.

"Let's go see Peter, soon." She finally concludes, trying to settle down a little, though a sudden bitter tone comes back as she as, "Even if he's probably doing just fine now that his little princess came back from the future."

Confused silence descends like someone laying down a table cloth. There's a lot to be confused about. The bitter tone of voice, little princess, and of course, the future. Gabriel's eyebrows are angled sharply to portray this confusion, as he says, "Wh— " …and not much more, Chandra abruptly twisting around like a little furry ginger devil. Gabriel steps forward and lets the cat leap onto the table, the feline moving to investigate what's left of the chicken, tail swishing.

Back to 'wh'. "What are you talking about?" Gabriel's hand absently smoothes down his chest, dislodging long ginger hairs without looking at what he's doing. No, he's apparently attempting to pin Gillian in place with purely his gaze, hawkish over a nose that lends itself to such an analogy.

And this is where not talking about certain things finally catches up to her. Gillian stands for a moment, mouth open, as a new emotion starts to wash over her. At least that settles the double vision down, and lets her step back a little. There's a flicker of realization in her eyes, a slow inhale, and then she's speaking quietly. Better than the angry rasps, "Helena's back, as well as whoever disappeared with her— most of them, I guess. The unaccounted for people."

If she'd found out about this in the hours he had been sulking around the cemetary, it might not be much or a problem, but… That wasn't when she found out at all. There'd been a few changes where she could have talked to him about it.

"She was in the future, the same future that Case— or John— or whatever the fuck he wants to call himself. The same one that he came from. And Rickham and another Edward Ray, trying to change the future that they come from. Can't say I totally blame 'em. If you or I were rotting in prison for years just because of our abilities, I'd want to go back and time and keep it from happening."

Gabriel's back is straight, his eyes narrowed but mostly in study than any real emotion, although there's plenty of that going on. Invisibly. His head tilts as she talks and silence ensues as he continues to work the pieces together, analytical to the degree that when he next opens his mouth, it should, by rights, be something along the lines of a plan or an idea, an analysis of something important.

Instead, what happens is; "You're angry that I work alone, without you, not trusting you, when you know all this and don't think to tell me?" Because if she was only out doing whatever it was she said she was going to do today— there's something missing. Time, or a lie, or both. He moves around the table, to eliminate both barricade and distance, eyes still on her. "Is this what being put out to pastures feels like?"

No time to answer that, because he speaks over himself, abruptly, coming to her side of the table. "Where do you go? When you shop, when you go get our things?"

"You're not…" Gillian tries to defend herself, though it doesn't get finished, because he's moving forward, putting himself closer to her. The table and cat are no longer there for protection, and she actually takes a half step backwards again, reaching up to touch her own chin and keep her hand near her neck. "I checked in with my connections with Phoenix, that's— she mentioned that she knew where Peter was staying and she offered to take me there." They had been supposed to go together, he'd agreed to it, but throwing in the connection to Phoenix might have been part of it, but… not all of it.

Even though at the time she'd not known exactly what her ability had been doing. The lessons weren't on her mind the first time—

"I hadn't even seen him since I left him laying in a bed in the safehouse. I went back for a lesson once I figured out that it was his fucking power I picked up. That's it. Every other trip out was just… just… personal." A trip to an internet cafe to look through newspaper archives online… and a long time staring at payphones trying to work up the nerve to call her parents. And the shopping.

There's a small shimmer of satisfaction, when she steps back, but it's not much. Just a trace of something within a whole well of other feeling. Things he might portray openly on his face, in his tone, but others he'd never admit to. "A lesson," Gabriel repeats. Talk about a strange circle, the days he had taught her, and the days he had gone out without a word, with secrets, because he'd been too powerful to matter.

Not now, of course. You shouldn't be doing that on your own. If he had hackles, they'd be up. Because it's a really simple equation. He has Gillian's power. Gillian has Peter's power. Complete the circle and what do you have?

"We'll talk to Peter," Gabriel finally settles on, dully, as if no strange accusation had just been made. In mirror of her step back, he does too, at something of a shuffle. "I had questions." And he leaves it at that, equally abandoning his dinner on the table to Chandra's snapping jaws as he moves back around the table, presumably to go. Likely a good thing he didn't take his coat off.

A lesson. The flash of guilt across her face could be for many reasons. Going behind his back being the easiest one. It's him heading toward the door, abandoning his dinner and the cat to eating it. Leaving.

"Where are you going?" Gillian asks in a clipped way, taking a few quickened steps forward, enough that she could be grabbing onto his arm soon enough if he slows down any. She could very easily wisk past him and keep him from getting to the door… if she had a handle on using the abilities that she's picked up. "It's too late to head to Staten Island. We'll never get a ferry and you could be arrested." If he'd meant for them to go now… he probably would have told her to grab her coat. The alternative to him walking out the door to ask the questions he might have…

"Don't leave, Gabriel, please." She's not outright begging, but there's a hint of pleading in her voice. "This isn't the first time we've kept secrets from each other. That's pretty much all we do."

He only slows when he nears the door, catching his hand on the edge as if to stop himself, twisting enough to look back at her. She's not wrong, exactly, and a hint of something crosses his expression. Not entirely guilt, but something that could pass for it. Even so— "It doesn't have to be," Gabriel mutters. "I've had enough— " A sigh of sorts is snorted out, head turning away from her for a second. "I've had enough people lie to me to protect me, or to steer me. We were going to handle this together."

A brisk shake of his head is followed by, "I'm going to bed." In a way, it's easy to tell that this is a decision he's made only just now. That he had intended to walk out the door. Gabriel glances towards the digital clock on the microwave, mouth hooking into a half smile. "I lied about getting sleep."

Lies. Truthes. Deceptions. If the people from the future are doing the right thing, than the people who wanted her to go to Moab aren't. If they're both going behind the other's back, whose betrayal is the worst? And what if her name isn't even Gillian Childs in the first place? A hand she doesn't realize she raised drops when he makes his decision to go to bed, a relieved exhale escaping past parted lips. There's no smile on her face, but tension does settle.

"Then you should get some," she says, reaching up to touch her face, rubbing palm over her mouth as she glances to the food on the table. The food that Chandra is trying his best to finish off. At least the meaty portions. "I can tell you what I know about Case and the others who came with him…" It's not a lot, really, but it's something. "Either now or in the morning." After they both get some sleep.

In all fairness, all his lies have been laid bare a long time ago, save for the smudging of personal details in between, ones he wants to keep. These are new. It'd be easier if he, too, such clandestine things he was hiding anymore, but there just isn't. Save for an event he'd only half explained that had gone missed anyway, that he couldn't quite bring himself to explain further. Gabriel nods to her, and doesn't confirm 'now' or 'morning', just glances back towards where the cat is making a treat of white chicken flesh, and disappears from the door way, leaving the sounds of foot steps in his wake. Which is confirmation enough.

There's a long sigh as footsteps are all that's left behind and Gillian moves back over to the table and settles into the chair he abandoned. Not to eat the food— especially not now that it has cat saliva all over it, just to sit. 'Everyone has secrets' isn't much of an excuse when it comes down to it. Reaching up, she scratches at the back of the ginger cat's neck and says quietly, "It would be so much freaking easier if all I had to worry about was the next time I could pick leftovers out of a salad." Cats have it so easy.

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