Choosing to Act


abby5_icon.gif caliban_icon.gif sasha_icon.gif

Scene Title Choosing to Act
Synopsis Abigail, escorted by Caliban, visits Dr. Kozlow in the hospital after the fire that destroyed his clinic.
Date December 9, 2009

Ryazan, Russia

The hospital room that Dr. Kozlow has been assigned to by its medical staff is not much bigger than the one Abigail and Cat had waited in when they first met him at the clinic, now a smoking pile of rubble and embers somewhere on the other side of the city. The door is closed, which affords Sasha and Abby with some degree of privacy even though Caliban is standing guard on the other side of it, arms folded across his chest and cap pulled down over his eyes. In his heavy winter coat and leather gloves, he looks more like a common thug than a publicist, but his function within the Linderman Group has always been somewhat nebulous anyway.

According to his chart, which Abby cannot read, Sasha's injuries are minimal — likely a result of Ethan's quick thinking rather than divine intervention at work, though some might argue the Powers That Be had a hand in making sure the Wolf was in the right place at the time. First degree burns on his hands and arms, some minor smoke inhalation that needed to be treated with humidified oxygen, a fitted mask and a prescription of antibiotics to ensure that he doesn't come down with an infection while his body is still recovering.

He sits by the window in his wheelchair — a saline drip attached to the IV he wears in his arm, held in place by an opaque strip of medical tape — and watches the snow fall. "I should have left," he's saying. "Fled Ryazan. My life has been nothing if not a series of mistakes."

"What would Faina have you do? If she was still here?" Abigail's parked in a chair across from him looking out at the snow. One elbow lodged against the window, feet flat on the floor. Her parka's been un-zippered and hanging open. The pink hair he'd seen her with that's now brown hangs in loose curls and waves around her shoulders. "I don't know whether you got my message or not. I tried to warn you that something was going to happen. They were discussing you and taking care of you. Or some other irritating healer. I highly doubt they were discussing me"

He'd be fine by now and hale, if she was said irritating healer. Caliban would likely be even more guard dog outside the door too. "Do you want to leave? Is there some place you want to go to?"

"I received your message," Sasha says. "I simply chose not to act. At the time, I had no reason to believe they would not come for me in my apartment. At my car. Zhukovsky is vindictive but he is not— careless." It's apparently the only word he can think of to describe the Vanguard's actions against the clinic, and if the scowl that splits his lips and flashes teeth is any indication, then it may not be entirely adequate either. "I do not know where I would go. Chechnya. Grozny. It is the only other place I have been. My sister is in Amsterdam, but I do not wish on her what became of Faina. It would be better if your friend had not pulled me from the fire."

So it was them. Duh. "Burning down the clinic was not careless. It's meant to hurt you as much as taking Faina did. A home is a home a car is a car, but by burning the clinic they hurt other people and in turn, hurts you even more" Seems to be a common motive for all people who are of the evil variety.

"I know people who can help you find some place to settle down again, try to start over. If you want to. I can offer you that at least, for what you did for Francois, and because… the people I know, help people like you. If you'll let me" Abigails fingers scratch at her scalp, looking away from the snow to the Doctor. "The people in this network can use someone who's a doctor of your skill. They won't demand to use your ability. They do this for a living, helping relocate people and families with abilities who are afraid, who need to disappear."

Sasha turns his head just enough to regard Abigail coolly in his peripheral vision, blue eyes lit gold by the light filtering in through the hospital window. There are sparrows perched on its concrete ledge, wind ruffling and tugging at their feathers, but the glass is too thick for either he or Abigail to hear their excited peeping. "We barely know one another," he points out, tone baleful, and flicks his attention back out the window, past the birds to the stately shape of the Ryazan Kremlin looming ominous in the distance. "You already take unnecessary risks coming to visit me here. I said I would not wish what became of Faina on my sister. That is not true. I would not wish what became of Faina on anyone. What if Zhukovsky follows me to America? What if I am Zhukovsky? He can take any shape he chooses. My Faina. Your friend outside. Aleksandr Kozlow."

"Doctor Kozlow, you are not the first to say that to me, and you'll not be the last. Fate protects fools, little children and ships named Enterprise. I walk blindly into really busy Lions dens and sometimes knowingly. If you are him, then, you are him. If Robert is him outside the door then… well, we're all screwed regardless. I do this because even if you were a complete stranger I came upon on the street, I'd still stop. Because there are people who will throw themselves into oncoming traffic for me even if I don't want them to. I can't stop them. I can give you the offer, it's up to you whether you take it. You don't have to go to the United States, they have ways of helping people get to other countries. Heck, maybe there's a country out there that the vanguard hasn't sunk their claws into. I hear Australia is really nice"

The corner of Abby's mouth turns up as she gestures to the birds. "I know a woman who can talk to them. Make them do what she needs them to do. She used to be with the Vanguard. I never knew it, sat and fed birds with her. But then I found out and she was badly hurt. And I struck up a deal with one of the others with her group when they came to ask me to heal them. I walked into their home knowing full well that if I healed her, they might turn around and steal my gift or just outright kill me" Obviously they didn't.

"I came to Russia knowing it might be a one way trip, that my parents would not get told where I was, how I died, or that I did it once again to try and save the world so that others can live and never know how close they came. What would Faina want you do?"

Sasha is silent for a very long time. The only sounds that fill the room are those that filter in from the hallway outside — the squeak of gurney wheels on the way past the door, Caliban's clothes shifting every time he changes position, the occasional and entirely accidental thump of his elbow against the wall. "I do not know," he says finally, "and she is not here to ask. It is too important a decision to consult a dead woman, but perhaps I will visit her tomorrow. Will you accompany me?"

"If I'm not locked in a closet for leaving the house today without a contingent of many men instead of just Robert" Abigail nods. "If they release you tomorrow, I'll meet you there" She'll ask Teo to piggy back, take a break from piggy backing others. "What was Ethan doing there, do you know? Last I knew, he didn't care about anything. Why did he just happen to be there at the right time?" Curiosity soaking her face. That and the anger at Ethan's words and blaming them for not being there.

"I had assumed that you sent him to watch over me against my wishes." Now Sasha is watching Abigail's reflection in the window's glass pane, made brighter by the snow. "Was I incorrect?"

"He's a jerk, who likes to push buttons. Always making fun of my faith and poking at the others. Very vulgar and just…" Abby's words are tame, Strong words for her. "He's been withholding information we could use, I don't know why, no wrong, I do, but there's very little I can do about it. Has he been hanging around you? Because I told everyone what you said. I had thought they were respecting that" That puzzles her. "He used to be Vanguard"

Doubt creeps into her features and her vice, thumb picking at fingernail on her opposite hand. "When did he show up?"

Sasha's eyes squeeze shut. "No," he says. "I had not seen him since I helped your friend. If he has been watching me, then it has only been when my back is turned." When he opens them again, he reaches up with the hand not attached to the IV and rubs his palm over the scruff on his jaw. There's still some soot on his chin and in his hair, suggesting that he hasn't been given the opportunity to shower since being admitted less than twenty-four hours ago. "I would appreciate it if you could give him my gratitude. We did not have a chance to speak while I was being loaded into the ambulance."

"Now see, there's something I might not do for you. I'll leave a note with those words, but I'm not going to tell him that with my own two lips. he's a right proper jerk. Real right proper jerk. He'll make some comment about needing to get laid or going to a nunnery. But it'll write it down for him" She can do that. "Do you remember anything about the fire? I know it might be a long shot, but, do you know who might have physically done it. Grigori, I know, likely ordered it but…" Abigail fires off a description of Muldoon for Kozlow, hoping. "And.. do you know if they have anyone who can… get into memories or … a telepath?"

Sasha gives a shake of his head and runs fingers through his hair, fingers coming away dirty. "Zhukovsky's power— I do not know how to explain. He is a snake that tickles your ear with his tongue. Your fears, desires. He senses them like you and I sense hot and cold. A mind-reader he is not, but close. I have never seen the man you describe, but I have seen my father, and he has been dead some twenty years."

"You saw a rusalka as well. That's what the woman at the desk of the clinic told Liz and Cat" So illusion might not be exactly what his ability is. Did Liz really see Muldoon? Maybe if Abby had been there it would have made sense, but with Liz there. "I have my cell phone" She digs into her messenger bag, drawing out a notepad that she keeps ever present, Old Lucy's logo stamped across the front. It's flipped open and scribbled upon, her number. "It's not local, I'm sorry. But call and I'll meet you at the memorial tomorrow, or I'll see about getting a car to drive you there and then…" Maybe from there they'd know what.

She passes over the piece of paper, holding it out for him to take. "You're alive. By the grace of god or whatever angels, be they named Ethan or one of the multitude of the chorus. You're not set to see Faina yet Doctor Kozlow. With hope, we can get you somewhere and you can start a new chapter of your life if you want to. I won't press it if you choose not to. I'll respect that"

"Thank you." Sasha takes the piece of paper from Abigail, folds it between his fingers and rubs his thumb along the edge. At a loss for what else to say, he fidgets uncomfortably in his seat, working some of the nervous tension from his shoulders and hands, one of which is bound in gauze. He's saved by the sound of the door opening, one of Caliban's gloved hands on the outside handle as he cranes his neck and angles his head inside, though all he can see is the back of Sasha's wheelchair from where he's standing.

"Abigail," he says, tone clipped but not impolite. "Time to go. They're expecting you home."

"Robert speaks, and so, I go" She offers a friendly smile to Sasha, grabbing her messenger bag and gloves, and with a dip of her head is abandoning the physician to heal by himself in the Ryazan hospital as she heads out the door and into the hall beside Caliban. Falling in step with the man towards the exits and presumably the car. "Thank you Robert. I appreciate it"

Caliban shuts the door behind Abigail as soon as she exits the room, treating the man inside with the casual indifference of a stranger. Maybe because that's what they are. "You're welcome," he says in between the clomp of his boots, still caked with snow, against the damp linoleum under his feet. A hospital is a hospital; almost no matter where you are, they smell the same, and this one is no exception. Between looking after John Logan and Linderman's other wayward employees, he's spent a lot of time in them — his distaste for the antiseptic stinging at his nostrils is obvious. "You're not really going with him, are you?"

"A promise is a promise. If it'll make you feel better, I'll bring one of the handguns you brought" She offers. To a degree, they're usually a point and shoot sort of deal. "I'll have Teo at least piggy back in my head. Probably others are going to want to come, maybe not. This is what I do Robert. I work with the ferryman. I patch people up and I help them, help others. It doesn't matter. I did it before, and the world ending isn't going to stop me from doing it again. This is why god put me on this earth. I'll do this until he takes me away" She looks over at him. "I distinctly remember you coming to me to ask me to do the very same thing for those caught between Linderman and the chinese mob"

"I'd feel better if you brought Teodoro. A handgun isn't going to protect you if Zhukovsky decides to move against him again. The memorial's directly outside the foundry, isn't it?" Caliban doesn't avoid Abigail's eyes, not exactly, but when she feels them on him he redirects his focus on the yawning hallway ahead of them as he skirts by orderlies and interns in their pale scrubs. "There's no evidence to support that Kozlow isn't a Vanguard operative himself."

"Or that you're not my Robert Caliban fresh from New York. You could be just a figment of Zhukovsky's evolved ability" She points out. "For all I know, everyone is, they could have a shape shifter, or a telepath" How does his ability work. Like a snakes tongue in the ear. "I'll see if Teo will come. Physically, not just astral" Once they're outside and out in the cold, the hat is pulled over her head, hiding her hair from the sun or the top of it, the hem of the knit cap coming to rest at her eyebrows. "Thank you Robert. For coming. For bringing them what you could. You still haven't told us if there was anything on Muldoon in the Linderman Files"

The wind outside sends gritty granules of snow whirling around Abigail's legs and feet. If her skin was bare, it would cut at her calves, pinken flesh and leave her stinging. And she does sting, but only because Caliban's hand is darting out to catch the hand pulling the hat over her head by the wrist. His grip is hard, firm, though it does not take her crying out for her to realize he's holding her just a little too tight — it grows slack before she has the chance to protest.

He looks at her for the first time since stepping off the train, really looks at her with blue eyes that pierce, invasive, and bore hot holes into her skull in spite of their cool shade. "Do you really think that?" he asks. "That I'm just an illusion? Or could be?"

"" NO, she doesn't think that he's the illusion. It was just… Abigail takes her hand back, cradling it close, other hand running over it as if that alone would erase the prickling feeling of being squeezed like a tube of toothpaste. Blue on blue, his a shade more vibrant than hers. Months ago she had him beat, but now they're just a simple blue.

There's an instant where Caliban looks as though he's going to close in, pursue, back her up against the frost-encrusted glass wall that separates the outside world from the outside lobby, and he even reaches up with that same hand to touch her face when she draws away. One callused thumb brushes the corner of her mouth, teasing her lips before it's falling away again and an expression of disgust settles over his hawkish features. What is he doing?

And from the woodwork comes another one. Realization dawning on the former blonde's face. What is he doing? Probably thinking the same things that Flint thinks. Same things that Francois probably thinks. "I should have seen this" Once he's pulled away and the self disgust starts to run rampant. "I'm sorry" Abigail bites out, gloved hand covering her lips. "I'm sorry, it's not your fault. I'm.." it happens? You're not the first? "I'm going to take a taxi back" Teo would recognize it for what it is, Abigail unable to process what happened and fleeing. Running away. "I'm just, I'll go take a taxi back to the house" Her feet move to make good on her words. Not make him drive her all the way back kicking himself.

Caliban is as bewildered as Abigail, because he doesn't protest or attempt to stop her. He curls his fingers into a fist that bites blunt nails into the skin of his palm, and in aggravation removes the cap he wears on his head — which is suddenly feeling very hot in spite of the cold. His breath leaves his nose and mouth as vapour. "I think that would be a wise idea."

Wise idea.

Herossibly. SHe stops, hunkering her shoulder in against the cold, back to him for a few moments before she turns in spot but doesn't return. Just a hand coming up, a finger pointed towards him. "Men" A purse of lips. "Men. Why always before an end of the world, or just after so much stuff has gone down. Men! How long? Is this why you've been doing things for me? Answer my calls? Is this why you asked me to that hotel opening? Not because I've never been to one and don't even own a dress for something like that. I'm a country bumpkin Robert. I'm a country bumpkin who's… whose … who's.. oh just… ooogh" The pointed finger lowers "I had my face in your groin"

Well, almost his groin.

"I do things for you because you need it," Caliban bites off, his voice rough and crackling at the back of his throat. "I answer your calls because it's against policy to screen them. I asked you to the hotel opening because I thought it was something you might enjoy." The cap is stuffed into his jacket pocket, and he begins moving briskly across the parking lot in a series of long strides that propel him forward at a pace that's probably just a little too quick to be safe with all frozen slush on the ground. At first, it looks as though he's headed toward her, but that's before he's taking out the keys to his rental car and jangling them loosely between his fingers. "You want to know how long? Thirty seconds."

Flee. Do what she does best. Run. She just stares at him for thirty seconds as well, looking up at the taller man. He's right. She would enjoy it. Would have enjoyed it. Getting dolled up, Helena doing her hair and make up. Who knows if it's going to happen but she's gotten a wake up call.

And she flee's, winter boots digging into the ground as she turns and takes off as fast as she can go, sliding a bit every few steps but she's been here longer than him to be used to the terrain. She's also pretty good at running. Screw a taxi. She'll be walking back.

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