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Scene Title Closer
Synopsis Gabriel and Eileen locate one another without the use of a shared ability.
Date February 7, 2011


It should be totally black down here. But it isn't. The first thing is the subtle flashlight-level glow that basks Gabriel's hands in utilisation of Colette's powers, casting the immediate area with a three foot radius in a faded golden illumination that brings up details like how wet it seems to be down here, and how black the shadows beyond it. The second thing is the blue line, defining the shape of the tunnel, along the ceiling, down the wall, across the tracks, up the other wall to seal itself in a circle. It glows like the deep sea things that are able to without natural godgiven light, an unearthy illumination that seems like it could be unhealthy.

Above Gabriel's head, impossible amounts of ground. Cut through with this impossibly thin pane of glass-like material. The dirt above is not crushing him, however, still holding. But there is water, about three inches tall now, sloshing to soak through his boots and the cuffs of his pants. Only on his side, mind, a fishtank effect to anyone on the other side of the glass.

He presses his hand against the supernatural wall, leaving behind the moisture of his palm, preternatural light rippling and mingling with the dull blue glow he creates with increasing pressure. By the minimal light available, he looks a little sleepless as well as tired, not yet hungry. Unshaven, hair growing dark along his jaw and throat, and maybe a little bit filthy — but that could easily be as a result of his journey down here, the greasy bowels of the train system.

On the very other end, all the way across Roosevelt Island and up against Manhattan, a piece of train rests as a graveyard for the many dead.

It should be totally black down here. But it isn't.

Gabriel should be totally alone down here. But he isn't, and this doesn't count the corpses at the other end of the line, their bodies bloated and waterlogged, reeking up the damp subterranean air with the smell of death and decay that won't fully ripen until the snow above ground thaws and winter transitions into spring. Here, it's marginally clearer but no less musty, and on the other side of the barrier, the metal rails gleam in the dark. He can hear the distant shriek of wind further down the line, but this deep below ground it's only a thin, mourning wail that tickles his inner ear, interrupted by the water dripping from the tunnel's ceiling onto his coat and hair where it gathers in fat, shining droplets that absorb the light seeming to leak from the gaps between his long fingers.

He knows he has more company than the dead when a whistle, light and airy, slivers through the subway's sopping ambiance. It's a tune Gabriel has heard before, and although he can't place where, it sounds like it should be dampened by the hiss and pop of static and coming from the radio at the Dispensary, which Eileen keeps forever tuned to New York's classical music station.

The tips of his fingers all burn bright points of blue when his fingers curl against the resistent barrier. His breath fogs it as if it really were glass, tip of his nose barely scraping the forcefield as he tries to stare through it. He is unable to bend light through the glass, illumination spreading instead like a puddle as if one set of physics within denied the physics beyond. He is unable to do much of anything. A syllable escapes his mouth, an aborted first attempt at yelling out.

Never mind.

"Hello?" he demands, voice at a rasping, echoing through the tunnel and bouncing back to his ears. There's anger, there, even when he recognises the sound he hears. Or especially so.

The whistle cuts short, snapped into silence, but it's a silence that does not last. Footsteps resonate in the tunnel's high ceilings, several in quick succession at first, drumming heartbeast fast, then slow to a tentative crawl punctuated by tinkling stone and the crunch of dry gravel beneath leather boots. Whoever it is does not have a flashlight, or if they do then they've chosen to turn it off before coming around the next turn.

They stop some fifty feet away from the barrier, silhouette bundled in darkness like another coat pulled on over the one they're already wearing. Buttons shine. He can see the outline of a pistol.

"Hello," says a voice, soft with uncertainty and not daring to hope.

Fifty feet is all well and good if Gabriel did not have an impenetrable barrier to contend against. Which he does. Frustration leaks new into his system, but it's a theme for the past week, old hat, almost. His weight presses his hands against the glass, leaning, head hanging heavy on his neck as he hisses a breath out. He doesn't want to have to beg for something so retarded and simple as this, and instead watches the way the water is boiled up around his ankles, muddy and murky and smelling vaguely of the East River as filtered through 100 or so feet of earth.

A rough chuckle escapes out his chest, lifting his head again to squint through the barrier. Taking his weight off the barrier, the glow diminishes, until he can tap the morse code for SOS with a fingertip. Almost a joke. He doesn't even expect it to have an audience.

"It's me. Come closer. I can't see you."

She does, and it's her limp — her ankle injury — that's the most positive identifier in the dark. Soot and oil make a greasy mess of her hair and skin. She pinned the loose curls back at her nape before coming down here, but physical obstacles encountered during her exploration of the underground have since torn them free. Her eyes are two points of silver-gray untouched by green without natural light to illuminate them, and while he knows she's seeing through the petite screech owl that alights on a bent piece of rebar nearby, Eileen makes no effort to hide the emotion in them by putting on a mask.

A glove removed, held limp in her opposite hand, she reaches up to touch the tips of her own fingers to the barrier. A confounding combination of quiet anguish and elation makes her mouth hurt when she tries to smile.

"And I can't feel you."

Gabriel slides into a crouch, doing the human thing of letting his hand rest against where her's is, blue light that feels like tingling warm glass teasingly thin between them. "I know. It has a— a snowglobe, kind of effect. It's not really just a barrier. Almost like it's created some new world made up of the stuff that happened to be in it. But light travels. Sound travels. Even some air and water get through. But nothing else. It doesn't have a weak point because spheres don't. It powers itself, which is impossible. It's made of light and repulsion. I think that if I tried to phase through it, I'd come out as hamburger on the other side.

"It— " He stops talking, then, from near babbling, looking away in canine affect of frustration. "Whoever is doing this is in here. With us. He's going to be so…" His hand slides up the wall that barely curves, a subtle incline that favours him rather than Eileem, but at least she's shorter. "… tasty."

He swallows, and then adds, "I ran out of birds." By the way. "Most of them killed themselves on the inside."

Eileen's fingers curl in. "Do you think someone did this on purpose?" she asks, voice gentle if strained. "Or do you think it's like Petrelli and Midtown?" It's not the sort of question with an answer that makes much of a difference — futile, almost, given the circumstances. "If they're working for the government," and the softness of her words indicates that she doesn't think this is very likely anymore, "maybe there's something I can do from out here. Find you a name. A picture.

"I've tried everything short of finding a negator. Gabriel. Dina Murphy's the only one I've ever known who might've been able to get through." And Dina Murphy is dead. Eileen lowers herself to Gabriel's level, straining to make him meet her eyes even if she can't effectively meet his. Her screech owl bristles its feathers. "I'm sending Jensen and the boy up to Pollepel until this is over. I won't leave you."

Eileen's new posture, the final four words, twinge pride in him that she won't be able to detect, link severed. But she can probably see it through the owl's wide eyes, the lift of his head and the tension setting his shoulders. "There's— " He pauses, running tongue over top teeth as he thinks, squinting past her, then back at her face, pale as a moon in the tunnel dark as night. "There're soldiers around, they could catch you. Ethan set up camp with a speedster and his woman. I'll be fine." He doesn't look fine.

He looks harassed. Edgy. He can't answer her questions and even if he could, the answer doesn't matter much. Legs give, but in deliberation — the fall sideways is controlled to sit, even in the water, shoulder against brickwall. Sullen silence sinks quiet.

"The fox splashes across the brook to throw the hounds off its scent," Eileen says. "Deer are ghosts in the trees. They've not caught me yet." She moves, but it's to rest her weight on her knee, leg bent beneath her as she lowers her hand from the barrier. The pistol is away.

It's good that the connection does not exist between them. With no desire to wound his pride further, she traps her fear behind her eyes. He doesn't look fine. He doesn't sound fine. There's nothing about the situation that is fine, not even sitting here with him when she wants to hold his head against her and breathe what she's saying into his hair instead of this.

Whispering feels empty, so she hums a few bars of something more intimate and familiar to him than what she'd been whistling earlier.

Gabriel turns to sit properly, knees up and arms upon them. He can bend his arm to brush his knuckles against the glass, which he does, briefly, activating a flare of blue before letting up. He glances at her, then, at the voiced music echoing up to the tunnel's ceiling, off the walls made of wet brick and concrete, all the while without making the eye contact she wouldn't have appreciated anyway, but it's not difficult to detect its absence through her diverted gaze. Fingers twitch in against his palm in a vaguely musical rhythm along a familiar bar.

Vaguely, anyway. It is, after all, not his favourite song, but he knows her's.

"Do you…" They didn't talk about it. It occurs to him when he is talking about it, some arrogant thing of desiring to figure things out on his own, observe, wait. Gabriel can't do much in here. He can't see what makes anything tick if it's even a fraction of a distance away from him through the shimmering barrier. "Do you remember sleepwalking?"

"I remember dressing for bed," says Eileen, "and I remember you carrying me back inside to the fire. There's an emptiness in between that feels like dreaming, but the details are smoke. They bleed away through my fingers." Down here, sheltered from the elements, it's not as cold on her side of the barrier as it is above ground. Still, her words float out on a fine, silvery fog, and she folds arms across her middle, hands clutched at her side as if trying to keep her body heat from escaping her coat.

She's not going to lie. "I'm frightened, a little. Of what could happen. I've not told anyone about it — Jensen will only lock me away at night, and that's more dangerous than being free if I can't actually get out." Her hand rests against the inside of her thigh and forms a loose fist. "Did I do something terrible?"

An eyebrow twitches up, something coy starting before ashing out on his tongue. A hand goes up, scrubs over the bold planes and angles of his face, both moving, removing, and redistributing dirt and filth, no inch of him particularly clean. Scent carries on air, and blessedly, not much gets through without encouragement.

"No," Gabriel settles on, eyelashes drooping low to near obscure his eyes. "I found you outside. With a flock of birds." His shoulder comes to lean against the barrier. Sickly blue light casts up his jaw. "I think it was some kind of animal telepath messing with you. Using the birds somehow. The— one of them. The one in the birds." Because calling them nicknames, while convenient even for him, is difficult to choke out sometimes. Tavisha, he means. "Maybe he's finally losing it. It was like you were there to entertain them."

Eileen's screech owl makes a thin, rasping sound, perhaps in defense of Tavisha or at least on his behalf — a sentiment echoed in the Englishwoman's frowning mouth and the shake of her head. "I'd know if it was him," she says. "Something happened to Teodoro and I, then that boat on the river. Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm the one who's losing their grip on things. It wouldn't be the first time, you know. Kuhr—"

She does not have to tell him about Kuhr. Her throat contracts. "The one in the birds— Tavisha— he's a softer echo of something dark and strong, all density and fluid grace. You. They all feel the different, people who can do what we do. Lucrezia was shrill and rattling. A multitude of paper wings. I don't understand what this is."

"You should find them, before they find you." It's either stubbornness or certainty that has Gabriel implicitly denying the idea that Eileen is in any way, shape or form losing it enough to cause whatever it was he experienced that night. Perhaps it was that feeling of detachment when he drove a psychic knife through the tether between soul and body, or faith in her own steel will. "I got there too late, the night that the birds attack the Ferry boat. That wasn't you.

"It couldn't have been you." So there. He tilts his head back enough to rest skull against grimy, damp brick, rolls his gaze over the shadowed ceiling above. He lets the light he emits from his hand fade down, casting just enough light to see fractionally by, reflected off Eileen's eyes, showing the ripples of the water he sits in.

Eileen listens to the water lapping against brick and concrete, and the steady drip of what trickles down from above. Wind hissing through the tunnel. Gabriel's breathing. She doesn't say anything for a long time. Closes her eyes instead, despite there being no real need to close them, and meditates on the illusion of closeness. She should be able to reach out and touch him.

That she can't is a little like dying of thirst with two feet in the ocean. "I'll still be here when it comes down," she tells him, then, which she thinks is kinder to his ego than I won't leave you, and if she's going to reiterate anything—

"I love you."

That gets a sound — probably an attempt at I love you too, even if she doesn't have empathy to divine it with complete certainty — but it stalls in the back of his throat, jaw clamped shut. His chin tucks in as he rocks his weight off the wall, water shifting oily and thickly black seeming all around him. "I think we're in this for a long haul. You should look after yourself to be here." So this is what Eileen gets, this glimmer of selflessness, even if it's coarsely delivered, resentfully delivered.

Everyone in the Dome is prone to jealous of the people who are not. His hand flattens hard against the barrier, flaring blue bright enough for it to illuminate Eileen's face, throwing it into sickly blue, before he's driving himself away. Up onto his feet with a lithe unfolding of his frame, before converting into a higher energy that shines no light whatsoever, and blends into thick shadows, even to the owl's eyes.

Eileen's don't work, after all, and neither does that all important link that binds them.

The hand that had been resting on the inside of Eileen's thigh braces against her knee and she climbs to her feet with less grace than the man on the other side of the barrier had done, favouring her good ankle.

Alone again. This would hurt more if it didn't happen this time every year— like clockwork.

She lets out a harsh, hitching breath of laughter and turns away, gravel and something that sounds like it might be broken glass popping under her boots. She tugs her glove back and grasps the rusted foothold of an access ladder attached to the wall before pulling herself up onto the strip of concrete that runs parallel to the tracks.

Her retreat will make less noise that way.

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