eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif

Scene Title Choices
Synopsis Gabriel and Eileen cross paths outside the Dispensary for the first time after her liberation from the Rookery.
Date July 12, 2010

Old Dispensary

Ghosts are supposed to take up residence in old buildings when people die or disappear, not when they return after a protracted absence, and although Eileen hasn't heeded this unwritten rule, she abides others, choosing to emerge from her room after the Dispensary has grown dark and its shadows long. Every night, she takes the same path from her room on the second floor, down the spiral staircase to the ground level where she goes through familiar motions in a pitch black kitchen and then sits for some hours by the unlit hearth before retreating to her sanctuary around the time the sky has started to pinken along the edges.

Tonight is the first night there's been any break in the pattern, though the deviation itself is small enough that it probably doesn't matter to anyone except the woman making it. There's some sort of logic behind her behaviour. Something to do with adjusting to her new disability as gracefully as possible and as quietly as possible. Her pride, at least, came through the ordeal intact.

It's a cool night, temperature tempered by a misty rain so light that it doesn't register on the roof or the windows except to form beads of moisture on the glass similar to the wet sheen that covers Eileen's bare arms and legs as she stands on the concrete pier overlooking the water behind the Dispensary. While the weather is mild enough to justify being outside in her nightgown, there's not much that can dissuade her from going where she wants when she wants dressed as she wants.

The buoys are clamouring, and she's more comfortable outside than in.

The sound of footsteps settles into the audio-landscape, a sharp if no more rhythmic pattern than the lazy slosh of water against concrete pillars and mushy shore, less chaos than the varying chaos of wind pressure or misty raindrop landings. It's interrupted by something, though, a click that doesn't quite keep in time — someone using a cane without really using a cane, the tip connects with the ground on easy, absent swings. The wolfhead is covered by large fingers and broad palm that grips it without ceremony. A deceptively heavy accessory that is indeed an accessory for Gabriel. A weapon for others.

A necessity to some. Foot steps and cane click stops, some several feet behind her. His other hand hangs by his side — bandaged and bound if not splinted, bruised after these past several days but no longer swollen.

"I didn't know birds could miss people," is a familiar voice, one that confirms, for sure, that this is Gabriel and not Kazimir, no dream nor hallucination, though there was a time when they were one and the same. "But I think Bran tried his hardest. Do you think he'll fly again?"

Rainwater plasters the fabric of Eileen's nightgown to her skin and sinks it between her protruding shoulder blades and the space that separates one vertebrae from the next, her spine a long, taut cord with piano keys for ribs and a tailbone that curves slightly inward. It clings, too, to the inside of her thighs and the tapered section of her waist ending just above the flare of her small hips. She's lost weight, more than is healthy for someone of her size and build.

Instinct would have her turn her head toward the sound of Gabriel's voice, and although she hasn't yet broken herself of that habit, the water lapping against the pier and coastal bells keeps her facing straight ahead, her focus elsewhere.

"He's very old." Hers is softer by comparison, and that's nothing new. The night is still. There's not much for her to compete with.

There's rushing sound of something cutting through the air, distanced enough that Eileen can only hear it rather than feel the movement or be struck by swiftly moving cane. It only comes up into Gabriel's palm to be held two handed and horizontal, glimmering black and silver whereas he is less stark in vague greys, indefinite blue denim — but it's not like he has to impress anyone with his looks, out here. A little unshaven, a little underslept, a little unkempt — this is Gabriel's perpetual state anyway.

It is kind of New York City's perpetual state.

"Unlike you." You're not really meant to draw attention, if you're talking in code already, but Gabriel's plans only go so far. His steps ease up closer, towards the left of her, lacking the punctuation of cane click. "I've got something that belongs to you." Cold silver touches her elbow, then, tactile sensation used as offering.

Eileen lifts a hand to grasp the cane beneath its ornate grip. Her thumbnail curves along the wolf's upper lip, and if she had the time or the inclination, it would count each tooth one at a time by feeling out the individual grooves. She knows what it looks like, just as she knows what Gabriel looks like, but it's still difficult for her to resist sneaking a glance at both through the eyes of the barn owl perched in an ash tree not too far from where the pier meets the damp earth and tall blades of dew-slick grass.

"Thank you." For the cane. For Bran. Her free hand moves to touch the wrist that had offered it, fingers wet and cold. Where the moisture is densest, it snakes thin paths down her arm, neck, legs. Bare feet and dark, glossy hair shine under the glow of a sallow moon obscured by clouds. "Abigail gave it to me. I don't think she wanted it to be a symbol for him anymore."

Coming to a halt and without speaking, it's only an intangible, inexplicable awareness of presence that clues Eileen into the fact that Gabriel is standing at her left. A little closer and she'd be able to pick up on his breathing, although even now, it would sound a little shallow. As if sucking in air too deep would hurt. "It's just a stick," he says. "I figured that it was what Abby was talking about. Jensen wanted me to pretend to be you while you were gone, so that your Ferry wouldn't know anything was wrong. I—

"Started getting sick, actually." This is said without particular gravity. It's strange, and kind of interesting, and obviously not dire enough for him to react beyond puzzlement and query. Not like her, anyway.

Eileen is silent again. Her hand falls away, comes to settle atop the other as she rotates the cane — just a stick — between her fingers. "My Ferry," she repeats in a tone tight with remorse, more regret than apology. When the tip of the cane comes into contact with the cement between her feet, she knows not to lower it any more. Doesn't put her weight on it, either.

"I was supposed to meet with Jensen at the waterfront after my meeting with Carmichael and Chesterfield," she says. "Quicker to cut through Central Park. One of my operatives told me they had information about Gillian, so we arranged to rendezvous at the fountain.

"They shot me." No hitch in her voice. Breath leaks slow from her mouth instead, carefully measured. "You're sick because my Ferry wants me dead."

An eyebrow goes up at this realisation, a glance to her wan profile and then down to where damp concrete glimmers underfoot. He doesn't know enough, hasn't thought through this angle enough, to really cast his judgment. There is the feeling that something doesn't quite connect, but he doesn't press it — now that Eileen is here, standing about as tall as her stature is capable, it's her mystery now.

That never works out, but it will for the next five seconds. "Do you know who's to blame? Maybe you should warn the rest of the flock. Cut out the wolves in the sheeps clothing. If you need anyone dead in secret…"

And the offer remains open, gaping in its obviousness, needing no finish.

"I will." Need people dead. Warn the rest of the flock. Both. "I don't know who's responsible, but when I find out—" That probably doesn't need a finish, either, but Eileen gives it one anyway. "I'll justify what they did to me." A half turn to the left pivots her away from the water, a lift of her chin to raise glassy eyes to Gabriel's face. It's what the gesture conveys rather than the gesture itself that's important. Whether or not she can see, she's looking at him.

He has her full attention. "A year ago I slipped a card in your pocket. The year before that, you took me into a stairwell and told me I could tell you anything. It was stupid, but I'm glad I believed you."

Gabriel automatically glances her way and meets eyes that don't focus on his. There's a subtle but sharp intake of breath before he's watching the dark tones of the river instead, eyes half-hooded and expression blank of any particular turmoil. But he'll watch the sharper colours of nighttime Staten Island instead of cloudy grey-green. "You weren't stupid about it," he points out, only roughly on account of the quiet of his voice.

A beat, and then; "Why did he keep you?" Which could also mean why didn't he kill you?

"Find a bird with a broken wing and put it in a shoebox. Build a nest out of old newspaper, cover with a lid." Eileen's eyes don't seek out Gabriel's gaze or follow it back toward the water and the clouds reflected in its blurry surface, distorted by the rain. She blinks away the droplets stuck to her lashes. "You wait until the bone is mended before you set it free, and when it throws itself against the sides you tell yourself that you're doing the right thing. That you know what's best.

"He kept me because he wanted to give me back to you. Because you're his son."


Guilt and regret are similar. They feel like the same thing, except one is a little more pointless than the other, given your point of view. Neither bring about an intelligent response, Gabriel standing quiet and thoughtful beside her. Abruptly too tired to express himself, argue, pontificate or even make a wry one liner, let alone walk away, he almost might as well not be there for the next few moments.

And when he goes quiet, she's not sure that he is. It's the sound of his breathing that ultimately reassures her of his presence, banishes any suspicions she might have about him melting into shadow and slithering away serpentine through the grass. She suddenly wishes she had something she could prop the cane up against, wolf's head tipped back to free both her hands, but short of setting it down on the ground and risk rolling it into the water, she has to settle instead for offering him only one.

Eileen shows Gabriel her palm and the network of veins beneath pale skin with a texture like smooth but unpolished marble. "Did he tell you about your mother?"

The rough tips of his fingers scrape against her upturned palm, affording her that tactile contact, fingers easing between hers but retracting before she can lock them in a squeeze. Doesn't retract, though, thumb skimming up her pale palm, along the shapes of blue veins.

"He told me he killed her," Gabriel gravels, and she can probably at least imagine his expression — somewhat hangdog, lazy save for the sharper angles of thick eyebrows and tense jaw. Psychopaths aren't meant to be particularly emotionally mature — but for him, they cross so easily across his face that his breed of crazy is probably less of a genetic disposition as much as it is something conditioned. Whether his adoptive mother is more to blame than his power is one of those puzzles he'll—

Never get around to. "It's why I thought he probably finished you."

Touch is Eileen's substitute for eye contact. She curls the tips of her fingers in response to the graze of his thumb and, as if sensing his reluctance to tangle or entwine, keeps her joints loose and relaxed during his exploration of her hand. Imagining his expression isn't difficult. It's instinctive, like breathing, every time his voice rumbles low in her ears. Two years has given her ample opportunity to associate its distinctive timbre with the familiar shapes his brows and mouth make.

"He made an effort not to. I think for you. He never asked me my name." She brushes her nails across the pronounced ridge of his knuckles. "Hers was Natalie."

Gabriel's response is an inarticulate, near growled sound at the back of his throat — almost apathetic, or an attempt at it. His hand is loose and pliant beneath her's. "I threw him up against the wall," he notes. "Second rejection. I don't think he'll go in for a third." Digits finally find purchase, tightening in their tangle with her's and a tug that seems to be in the direction of the Dispensary, if she has her bearings correct. "Doesn't matter."

The standard time for realisation usually takes a second and a half. It's time enough for him to take a step away, or with, before: "Why was he telling you about my mother?"

Eileen falls into step alongside Gabriel, two paces for every individual stride he takes on account of her shorter legs. Her cane trails along the edge of the pier, practicing for a time when she won't have someone with eyes to guide her by mapping their path as they go. She counts the number of steps it takes to reach the grass and mentally makes a note where one surface ends and the next begins.

"Talking to someone else feels more productive than talking to oneself," she says, "and he's very lonely, but I think it's because she had our ability." Our instead of my isn't a distinction that Eileen often makes and never to anyone except Gabriel, but something about this situation compels her to use the former. If it didn't belong to him before, then it does now — by birthright, if nothing else. "I thought of you and took a picture from him. Upstairs in my coat."

Disbelief twists his mouth — less surprise, more of a cynicism that Eileen received any truthtelling at all. A roll of dark eyes. Manipulation or good old fashioned craziness does not seem entirely outside the realms of possibility in combination with the old man, but Gabriel doesn't comment on it. It's not something he wants to argue.

It's not something he wants to talk about remotely. "Thanks," he says, and means it, despite the way his voice hides in his throat, trapped behind barely parting teeth and a loose mumble. He watches the ground, and he watches the ground ahead of her, too.

Eileen's response is to press her thumb into the softest point of Gabriel's palm, not in an attempt to exert an uncomfortable amount of pressure or injure, but to draw his attention elsewhere. She understands when a topic is closed for discussion. "I've decided that I'm going to leave the country," she says, "for a little while, as soon as the Ferry can look after itself. A week. Two if I need the extra time. There are some questions that I need answered, and the only person I'll have any luck tracking down probably still lives in London. If she's alive."

And that's where the conversation might have ended a few months ago. Her cane knocks once against the Dispensary's door, loud enough to alert her that they've arrived at their destination, but not so loud that she risks rousing Jensen from his uneasy slumber on the second floor. "I'd like it if you could come with me while Jensen stays here to keep an eye on things."

He sends a glance down to the crown of Eileen's head, before focusing on the door, letting it swing wide and taking a first step in. It's then that Gabriel's hand loosens from Eileen's, some mix of tugging and instinctive phasing, as if to let her guide her own way in a deliberate sort of sense. Now that they're indoors, anyway. His hands, bandaged and not, return to pockets, and she can hear the gentle press of boot soles on the ground, if only because her ears are seeking sound a little sharper these days.

Or does Gabriel would guess from his own experiences. "I could do with a vacation," he says by way of answers, curling his shoulders in a shrug that she can't see. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"Do you?" The gentle manner in which the question is spoken makes it clear that Eileen doesn't mean it as a reprimand. She fills the cavity of her chest with the familiar smells of the Dispensary, a combination of old, stale air and damp wood sitting unused in the earth on a bed of charcoal. The kitchen carries the scents of cold cast iron and the last meal to be cooked on the stove. Bitter tea, coffee.

Her lack of appetite has her steering toward the stairwell instead, the hand that had sought out Gabriel's feeling along the wall so she can track her progress. Over the past year, she's come to know the Dispensary as well as the back of it, but she lacks the confidence to move around without objects she can use to physically orient herself.

It had been different when she was still trying to pretend. "I suppose I ought to ask if you looked under my floorboards."

When Gabriel next speaks, he's somewhere behind her — as if having stopped to watch. "I looked." Then, begins again that gentle foot fall, remaining behind, now. It seems safer, without guiding, or helping. The Dispensary seems to be theirs right now, with Teo in his Manhattan home and Raith in his half-sleep and otherwise nothing bothering them, if he isn't. "And looked again after Epstein came to us, with your message. I made Raith punch him." It was awesome, he doesn't add. "Then he said you chose the memory-wipe."

So in other words, he's quite well-versed with Eileen's literature, for all that her writing leaves something to be desired, even with his thick-framed glasses.

"Do you think she knew?"

Eileen stops at the foot of the stairs, and with her back to Gabriel it looks as though she might just be pausing to take in the structure of its arch with her hands and the edge of the cane she still carries, but the flare of anger that burns black beneath her much cooler surface is impossible to miss even if he isn't paying attention to the subtle exchange of emotions between them.

"I chose not to cooperate," she clarifies. "The only thing I ever volunteered was silence. Either Epstein is lying, or he was lied to. I don't think it matters which." One foot mounts the first step, followed by the other, and she begins a new count. It will be the first time she's made the climb while attempting to do something else.

Progress is understandably slow. "She knew. We had visitors when I was small. They're only shadow-memories now, but I remember the reflections in someone's shoes. I remember being told not to touch his face. Or maybe it's just my imagination. My brain trying to compensate."

The only thing her claims get about what really happened is accepting silence. He'll believe her, for the flare of anger that prologued her words, for the words themselves. He'll follow her, too, her slow progress up the stairs, in no special rush as Gabriel's hands come to clasp behind his back. Meanwhile, that Kazimir is a manipulative liar, that parents are too as well as cowards, is not news. It's not sympathy— never is— that comes down the empathic line. Muted understanding.

Morbid curiousity. "Then we'll find out for sure."

By the time Eileen reaches the stop of the stairs, her breath is trembling like a baby rattlesnake and the rise and fall of her chest has become somewhat haggard and laboured. Whether this has more to do with her more recent injuries or the residual effects of the poison's had on her system is as much a mystery as the circumstances surrounding the event that Gabriel is courteous enough not to directly refer to the same way he's neglected to use her mother's name in conversation.

She appreciates both. "Being me, I think, entitles you to my bed. Provided you don't mind sharing it."

From some steps downwards, there's a whisper of a chuckle, but when he's talking, his voice comes from somewhere further down the hallway — likely near her own bedroom door, if her judgment is correct, a guiding sound. "I can share." A split second of time, containing a handful of more, a noiseless thing to Eileen's ears that probably seems like teleportation, and is not. Time can always go still around her — that's another thing glassy grey-green eyes represent.

It takes Eileen a few moments of quiet confusion before she's able to process what just happened, and when she does there's a slight pull at the corners of her mouth, either a frown or the closest she's come to a smile in weeks, and longer than she'd been with Samson.

There aren't a lot of things that can make her feel more vulnerable than being blind, and although this is one of them, the trust that she has for the man on the other end of the hall tempers her discomfort and prevents more than a mild flicker of indignation from being shot in his general direction. Her nostrils flare around a soft snort as she follows the sound of his voice the distance between the top of the stairs and where she estimates her bedroom door to be, last left open to differentiate it from the locked set on either side.

"Very charitable of you, Gabriel."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License