gabriel_icon.gif liette_icon.gif

Scene Title Ctrl-Z
Synopsis Gabriel Gray makes a mistake no one could have predicted. Well, almost no one…
Date May 17, 2010

The Garden

Nighttime has crested by the time Gabriel is slither-shadowing up to the entrance of the Garden, creating no trails or footprints as he eases through the cracks of the door and into the dim interior of the cottage. A time will come when he does not have to change into this form to travel between places, and he will be grateful — as it stands, the cold only remains relevant to those who have flesh, so he chooses to have none. Still. Even he, like the rest of New York City, is desiring a day when the sunshine is not white and cold, the ground dry and the air clear of forming ice crystals in lungs, clothes, skin.

He remains shadow for a little longer, uncertain paranoia dictating his actions. Instead of letting heavy footsteps thud through the house, he eases himself down the hallway, listening like a snake listens to the suggestion of sound through the ground, before it's the light of the hearth that has him moving.

Rising up from his flat and therefore slow crawl across the space, he silently leaps through the gaping passageway of the living room, and by the time he is seeking solidity, it's only a creak of a footsteps that alerts anyone of his presence, coat making its whispery fabric sound as it falls back into place as long as his knees. The teenager curled on the couch is studied silently, mutely, from eyes that are shadowed by a lack of sleep, his small scowl bracketed by lines and the grow-in of shadowy stubble.

She doesn't even notice him. The sound of that floorboard creak could be any number of things, could be Jensen coming back downstairs after having just gone up to sleep, could be the wind, could be the house finally collapsing down on itself. It's hard to say. But she's writing, pausing, re-reading and writing again, putting down notes in a simplistic little journal of scattered memories, compiling an understanding of today when her mind can't quite always grap that point in time.

It's a novel idea, the journal, but from everything Gabriel's heard about this girl she's special, and it isn't her pedestrian writing about Lorraine's baking or Raith's incessant brushing of her hair, but rather what is going on beneath her skin. Somewhere in Liette's body is a genetic library, a codex of countless Evolved abilities she's had over the years, collected and lost and implanted in her very genetic makeup like a storybook.

No one needed to tell him that, he could see it just by looking at her.

Clockwork gears grind to life behind Gabriel's eyes as a study of the tiny, blonde girl swathed in a quilted comforter relays a wealth of understanding. She's losing her abilities over time, they're being metabolised by her body; part information told to him, part result of study. But the question in the back of his mind, the one hissed by the serpent coiled around the trunk of his brain is wondering something.

If he cut her open, would he get them all?

It's a hard hiss not to listen to.

Once, Peter Petrelli had this same appeal, because everyone needs at least one redeeming feature. It's been a long time that Gabriel's set his eyes on and really looked at someone like him — looked like he's looking now. He stands, still and unseen, unconsciously slipping into Clara Francis' power as even the fire in the hearth goes still and frozen, Liette's pen pressed into paper and unmoving, and Gabriel is alone to simply— run the back of his hand across his mouth and think too much.

He could slip away with her into the night, like wolves drag away children where things go unseen. No one would ever have to know.

That's a lie.

"You're Jensen Raith's daughter." This, is said into static silence, unheard in the timestop — but Gabriel says this outloud, conversationally, and huffs out voiceless laughter on an exhale, hand grinding over his eyesockets, and unfreezes time before he can start getting ideas. Ones about how he could simply leave before they excommunicate him. The fire starts flickering again, and Liette continues not to notice him.

His hands smack sharply together, in one single, solitary clap. "All those powers," he says, "and not one that lets you know you're not alone? How lonely."

The sudden sound of Gabriel's voice causes Liette to startle, a mousey squeek of a noise as she sits up straight, whips around and stares wide-eyed at the man looming behind her. There's a long, constant stare to Gabriel, and Liette's blue eyes seem to stare through him for a moment. This isn't the reaction most people have, it's not the same kind of knowing fear of seeing the Midtown Man sneak up out of the shadows. This is more bweilderment and confusion, but also recognition.

"Patient Zero," is whispered off of Liette's tongue in a way that makes Gabriel almost able to hear Chandra's voice echoing in the back of his mind. Both of Liette's brows furrow, and she's slow to rise up onto her knees, turn around and lean over the back of the sofa, staring up at Gabriel the way one might an exotic animal behind bars.

"You— you're alive!" It's a whispered exclamation, and one that isn't accusatory, but overjoyed. Clearly Gabriel is missing a part of this puzzle.

It's been a very long time since this phrase has had any meaning, ringing in his ears now enough to almost superimpose its significance over the fact that Liette recognises him. Gabriel's dark eyes read blank, now, hands still palmed together in an aborted gesture. There's a strange twinge — a chord of anger, guilt and disgust plucked in memory of Suresh, but it's his son's words that whisper through memory.

"My father did want answers. He called you Patient Zero."

Hands dropping to his sides, Gabriel steps further into the room, entirely the exotic animal eyeing its observor with dubious caution. "You remember me," he deduces, voice slow, "but I don't remember you. Liette."

The look painted across Liette's face says without words, duh. There's a wrinkle of her nose, and she slides down from the back of the sofa, wrapping her blanket up around her shoulders before simply scooting aside to make room on the couch for Gabriel, as if they could sit together and have a nice little talk. "Of course you don't, you were in a medically induced coma," says the girl less than half Gabriel's age. "Doctor Meier had you sedated for research, but my sister and I were allowed to come into your room. I don't know what she was looking for, but it was something, she had us helping with studying you."

There's a slow tilt of Liette's head to the side as she watches Gabriel intently, brushing wild, blonde hair back and away from her face with one hand before it hides back beneath the quilt. "I thought… when everything bad happened at Pinehearst and the building started shaking that you… might've gotten hurt. Pop didn't save you with us, so…" Liette looks down into her lap, going quiet.

"Did miss Cat ask you to come talk to me?" Liette offers in a small voice, vacillating between interest and melancholy like a rapid shift of tides.

The world is uncomfortably small, with things gracelessly bumping elbows together in the crush. Gabriel rounds his way around the sofa as she talks, an eyebrow raising in recognition as well as understand, fingertips trailing along the arm of the sofa without actually sitting down just yet. "I don't even know if Miss Cat knows I'm here," Gabriel states, an absent glance over his shoulder for all that psychic radar communicates that they're alone on the bottom level of the cottage. "But a friend told me to talk to you.

"She said that there's something wrong with you and your power, and she wanted me to use mine to find out what it is." Rather than sit down on the couch with her, he goes to sit down upon the coffeetable between her and the hearth, the warmth of fire beating at his back. "I wasn't in a medically induced coma. I'd left my body. The shaking you felt that day was me taking it back."

More or less.

There's a nervous look from Liette to Gabriel, blue eyes wide as he settles down on the table, her gaze dropping to the table itself as if to imply that isn't a proper seat in wordless kind before looking back up to eyes far, far darker than hers. "Is that what you do?" There's a furrow of her brows as she considers Gabriel, watching him thoughtfully now as she had before.

Her little notebook is forgotten by her side, and sliding forward on the sofa, she comes up close to him, straightening her back and leaning up so she's nose to nose with Gabriel, staring at him. "How… how does it work? Is it hypercognition? Biological intuition?" She slowly leans back, her head working from side to side, as if observing Gabriel from another angle would reveal more about him except for the dimensions of his nose.

"How much do you already know?" implies both a question of how much has he figured out just by looking at her, and how much has he been told prior to coming here. There's a certain innocence in Liette's demeanor, but on the same token there's also a naive curiosity, the kind that makes children put their fingers in electrical outlets on on the top of a hot stove.

"Enough." This is said with a note of strain, after a broken up piece of uncomfortable silence. While Gabriel has had this kind of attention from Odessa— hell, he was Patient Zero or something similar to it in her blue eyes as well— it seems stifling, coming from this young woman, with the power she had amassed in her head. That, and scrutiny is not something he seems responsive to, with the shadows beneath his eyes and the rough edge to his demeanor and appearance — the kind of unpolished feel that a recluse might cultivate.

So he lists away, a little, and doesn't look at her directly. "I know enough. They called it inuitive aptitude. I see how things work. Watches, brains. People, and their powers. Sometimes I can fix it."

His dark eyes seek out her lighter ones. "Pop ever tell you what I did, with my power? To people like you?"

"No," is a coy enough answer as she leans back, eyes wide as if this were somehow story time. "I've… never heard of anyone with your power before. Similar, but not… not quite the same." There's a furrow of Liette's brows again, and she slides down to slouch into her searm knees drawn up to her chest beneath the blanket. "So, you're good at analyzing stuff, coming up with the most logical explanation for things… intuitively." It sounds a little strange to describe it that way, given the name.

"Mine's called transitive reactive mimicry." Which is sort've an awkward mouthful. "Transitive means that I can transfer my abilities back an' forth between myself an' my sister, and also because the abilities naturally fade over time. In the lab Pop timed it, and— and it was usually always five to six months." There's a crease of her brows, a slouch of her shoulders.

"It's, um, it's reactive because my body reacts whenever I'm exposed to an ability, by manipulating my genetic structure…" she doesn't actually understand much of this, that much Gabriel can tell, her knowledge is encyclopedic, literally, it's regurgetation of things she's been told. It's only as infalliable as the people who tell it to her.

"Mimicry comes in after my body alters my genetic structure, and it allows me to utilize any power I've been exposed to, until it naturally passes and I lose it, or unless I share it with my sister." There's been many things Gabriel's seen, but an ability that is shared between two siblings is a first, in a way.

For all her knowledge, she doesn't have the ability to figure things out like Gabriel does. She doesn't have the capacity for learning something new that isn't told plainly to her. Gabriel can already see what everyone else has missed, and it almost didn't even take his ability to do it.

Liette has been a lab-rat for almost all of her life, with minimal contact with the outside world. Contacts only facilitated in her need to be exposed to powers, everything about her life was controlled; diet, schedule, medication. She was clockwork, well oiled and taken care of. The last several months of Ferry life has taken her out of the controlled environment. How could they have ever known how her body would react to unscheduled foods, unscheduled medications, stress and anciety of this level.

It didn't take intuitive aptitude to guess, but it did confirm the diagnosis. Maybe Kazimir was right, maybe he would make a good doctor.

"It's like you have the words that I don't." If he's on the verge of describing exactly everything else that comes part and parcel with his power, it would be now, but instead he bookends his statement with, "And I intuit what you can't." There's a hesitation, before he offers out his hand towards her, fingers loose and lined palm facing the ceiling, ready to cup her hand should she want to take it. "You're out of sync with yourself, and while I could fix you for you— "

His mouth spreads into a grim smile, mirthless. "Trust me. You don't want that." His eyes shut, as if to stall himself from doing it anyway.

When he speaks again, the subject has changed. "I know who your dad is. I don't think anyone has told you— he hasn't. He probably should — it's not fair. But his name's Jensen Raith. CIA, then a terrorist, but an okay human being. I can maybe get you in to see him, if you want, because— " His eyes open again, looking down at his partially offered hand. "It's half the trick. Knowing who you are, where you came from, if you're good enough to want to know.

"That, I can help with. I can help you know what you're talking about — I can help you see yourself like I see you." His hand inches closer, again, between them. "For as long as you can keep it, anyway."

There's a look on Liette's face, one of uncertainty and confusion, her blue eyes focused up on him in a manner that is both curious and wary. It's the same reaction people have around large, unfamiliar dogs, and it's still not quite like the look Gabriel is accustomed to people giving him. Strangely, it's the name more so than the offer that has Liette's expression making a somewhat fish-like puckering.

"You— My… my…" her father, a man working double-duty between the Dispensary and the Garden, likely asleep in a bed upstairs at this very moment. Liette's never been properly introduced to him, but she's heard the name around the Garden. A snap of Jensen from Lorraine, or a snippet of Raith from Jonas. But he's always there, on the periphery, on Lorraine's heels.

Liette wants to know more, wants to know everything, and that eagerness and naivete has her hand reaching out to take Gabriel's, tiny fingers curling around far larger ones. In a future he never gets to have, maybe his own daughter's hands would've been this small in his. Had their future not ended in gunfire and betrayal, maybe he would've been a good father.

That's a lot of maybes.

Letting both of his hands warm her's, it's occurred by now to Gabriel that he's never willingly bestowed his power on anyone, but he assumes the same kind of clutch he'd given Eileen's hands that first time he'd copied over avian telepathy. "You have to be careful," he feels moved to say. "But maybe you can do it better than I did. Control it, my power. If you can't, then they'll probably let me put you down." Not make, and it seems a risk he's willing to take, a risk he assumes she will be willing to take.

"It's not bad. Not if you're strong. Learning isn't bad — it's just what you're willing to do to learn, and you have to draw the lines yourself because the power doesn't know." A shrug shimmers down the horizon of his shoulders. His heart is the same heavy it's been since he left Samson behind in the Rookery, and he's not sure if this eases it. "You'll see what I mean."

And his ability opens up like a book, except instead of being read, he's the one that reads her. For now.

An open book in a language that can't be read just yet.

Liette' tenses up when she feels Gabriel's hands clasp over hers, and there's a quiet but sharp inhalation of breath. If there could be anything even remotely resembling a one-hundred and eighty degree turn from where he was in his father's lab this is it. Sitting here under the crackling glow of a fireplace, watching the intricacies and confusion of a young science experiment. He's been in her shoes before, walked in them, been the one in a lab but not quite the way she has.

In iette's eyes there is an innocence and naivete that is not the same as plain ignorance. She is unsculpted clay that has been very painstakingly crafted over time, and now someone has gone and put their thumb prints all over it and left a dent somewhere that was once smooth. She is a creature of comfortable sameness, someone that has thrived for so long on repetition and predictability. In many ways, her life could have been Gabriel's, and they may have even turned out much the same.

Gabriel misses exactly when she closes her eyes, only noticing that they are closed after a moment. There is something going on in that hand in hand closure, in the touch between the two that feels so much more like turning the pages of a book. The context is beginning to become clear, and the more Gabriel reads into Liette — this half girl — the more he feels her reading into him.

Their similarities meet somewhere in the middle, creatures of habit, repetition and familiarity. Adaptable, but begrudgingly so, mechanical in a way not entirely unlike one another mentally. In a way, that's a troubling realization more on Gabriel's behalf than Liette's. But this is the first time, from the outside looking in that Gabriel has ever been able to see himself and his own ability in this light. The ability to comprehend and understand on a primitive and base level coupled with the need to learn, to know, to see. It's like a mirror, but one where someone is standing just over your shoulder.

Because as much as he is looking into himself and seeing his own ability in her, something else is happening in this moment of contemplation. Maybe it's what Biddhists would call zen, a moment of perfect clarity and understanding; but somewhere in Gabriel's mind there is a cyclical formation of thoughts. He is not only understanding the nature of his ability reflected in the mirror Liette represents, but he is seeing how their abilities work together and—

how could he have let this happen

—By the time Gabriel realizes what's wrong, the impossibly Rube Golbergian trap has already been sprung. He feels it in the same moment Liette does, a creeping, crawling sensation under her skin and a widening of her eyes. It only takes a fraction of a second to complete, like yanking something through a mail slot. In a way that's exactly what happens, and Gabriel can feel the presence of another mind sharing Liette's own space for a moment, a brief brush of something hazy and overwhelming, like an adrenaline rush tingling through her ability and leaving a vacant spot where something was.

Liette's fingers curl against Gabriel's palm as she makes the tiniest of whines and stiffens like a board.

Just as quick as she could learn it, Julie took it away.

The Institute has Edward Ray, and it seems if they can't capture Gabriel for their needs, they'll take the next best thing.

He can almost feel it, when it happens, the transference — it snatches away the ability before it can cool its imprinting and takes his breath away in the same moment. Hands snatching from Liette's, shock writes on Gabriel's face, makes wide his brown eyes and severe the angles of jaw and eyebrows, and there's that frozen, paralytic moment where your computer shuts down on the essay you've written all night.

Ctrl-Z won't save them now.

"That wasn't meant to happen," he feels the need to tell the room, only focusing on Liette after the fact. "You need to take it back." Even as he says this, uncertainty bleeds into his voice. He's not quite sure her power works that way — if it's accessible to him at all, it will take learning.

Helplessness sinks in as Liette feels the snatch of an ability from her in the way an apple is plucked from a tree. She can't help but feel ashamed, and that shows in her expression, the lifting of brows and the glassy quality her eyes take on. Emotion struck as she is, her hands don't withdraw from Gabriel's, even though she looks like she's trying to sink through the sofa and hide herself away. Ganriel's reassurance that he didn't mean for that to happen comes as cold comfort, but that's still more than most people receive from him.

"I can't," however, isn't the answer Gabriel wanted to hear. "I— I mean I can but not— not… like this. Julie… my— my sister, she's stronger than I am, always has been, and…" Liette's jaw sets, her brows crease together and her fingernails bite gently into Gabriel's calloused palms, "and she's being amplified." So goes the story of why she can't simply take back the ability to control the weather either.

"I— I'm sorry…" it's hard to tell if she's sorry for losing the ability, sorry for not being able to get it back, or sorry that this was all ever tried. Judging from the weak tremor of her jaw, probably all of the above.

With an abrupt surge of movement, Gabriel is standing, moving away from her. So much for being better, like he'd wanted to claim several nights ago — had he given into instinct, then… maybe… Scattered thoughts blow away like a terrorised flock of pigeons as he shakes his head, trying to shake off the feeling of failure. "I have to go. I have to tell Eileen what happened." Or phrase it in a way that doesn't seem disastrous — he could of course be being arrogant.

But he knows his power. Too well. "And you," he pauses his stride for the door, turning abruptly and with blazing accusation, "need to try and get it back." With that, he goes to turn on his heel again, goes to make for out and it's blizzards.

Mercurial and ever changing, Gabriel's nature also makes him slippery and difficult to hold on to in so many definitions. Sitting up straight and planting her feet on the floor, Liette almost moves to stand, her mouth open in a half spoken comment as Gabriel is moving across the floor with thumping footfalls. Nothing can easily put right what went so terribly wrong tonight; can either side of the coin ever be untarnished for Gabriel?

What he finds in himself, and what he has found in Liette have only left him with problems both great and small. But when Liette stands there in silent shock, watching Gabriel open the front door of the Garden she makes no effort to stop him. He came and went and breezed through her world like a storm, like the storm that churns overhead outside. When the door slams shut, it's only then that Liette's mind reels and she tries to comprehend what just happened.

Like a storm, Gabriel came in to her world and disrupted everything in it, only to follow his own course and leave her to pick up the pieces on her own.

"Jensen— is…"

Well, maybe not alone.

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