Do Not Touch


douglas_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif

Scene Title Do Not Touch
Synopsis Gabriel experiments with an unorthodox method of prisoner interrogation.
Date September 27, 2009

Sea View Hospital — Cells

The last time Vanguard utilized Staten Island's abandoned Sea View Hospital, it was to contain Detective Kaydence Lee Damaris of the NYPD, back when Amato made the mistake of believing she might be of use to Volken's clandestine organization. Although the circumstances surrounding tonight's visit to the facility's waterlogged bowels are similar to those that came before them, there's one distinct difference between then and now: Douglas isn't their prisoner. He belongs to Phoenix, at least for the time being, and whatever information the Remnant intends to procure needs to be extracted before the ashen sky outside starts turning pink.

When the ex-marine comes to, he finds himself seated at a table in the center of the cell, his hands bound at his back by the wrists and the stringent smell of disinfectant stinging sourly at his nostrils. Cheap medical gauze soaked in blood provides him with evidence that his wounds have been tended to, though it isn't clear whose hand might be responsible for the dressings.

When they make him go inside he has to pretend. They say it's outside is when he's pretending, but he knows that's a lie. When they make him come inside he has to make believe he's like them, fantasize what life would be like if he actually was like them. He hates them for making him come inside. It's when he's outside he can be free…

Eyelids flick open in an instant, eyes immediately searching his surroundings. Like a wild dog woke up abruptly from slumber, he immediately looks around for the perpetrator. But it doesn't matter what he finds with his eyes, it's what he finds with his wrists that is the problem. Tied together. Tied together. Tied together.

For a moment, Douglas calms down his eyes stop zipping his breathing calms down, and he looks calm, sedated. And then a terribly ugly scowl comes over his face. Leaning with all his strength against the chair, Douglas slams his head down at the table. A loud thud rings out, before he swings his head down again, and then again. Each time a roaring yell is let out as his neck swings his head down at hard surface.

The man is allowed to do this perhaps twice, perhaps, before there's the sound of a door swinging open. Likely unheard, beneath the roar of blood in his ears, the invasive echoing smack of his skull ringing clean off the table, but it's there all the same, a slice through air and squeaking hinges. Never mind the deafness in the first place.

Logically, there should be the thud of running foot steps, hands out to yank him back in his chair, maybe a bite of a needle to sedate him. It doesn't come, as his head cracks down for a third time.

None of that. Only a quietly graveled command— "Stop that."

Whether Douglas likes it or not, he obeys. Like a bent piece of cedar springing back into place, his spine snaps up, neck rigid and face set forward. Gabriel has a look of utter distaste on his face as he lowers a hand, moving out from the frame of the door and headed into the cell. A faded black T-shirt hangs loose off his torso, untucked over navy blue jeans, hems caught around scuffed boots.

A young woman dressed in dark colours to match her thick mane of curly hair follows Gabriel into the room, her footfalls soft in comparison to her much larger companion's. Douglas will recognize her as Shoshanna, the girl he met at the corner store, but rather than approach the table, she chooses to linger in the corner of his vision instead, standing guard at the door after closing it behind her.

The key turns in the lock, and the three of them are alone. "Sixty minutes," she tells Gabriel in a voice chafed raw by the evening's earlier events. Her clothes smell like a hearth. "I'll be right here."

His breathing is ragged and quick when he is suddenly reeled back as the proverbial yo-yo. Head tilted back, he tries to suck in breath desperately once again looking nervous; scared. But it all fades as a bead of blood falls past his eyes. He hit his head so severely he broke skin at least. His lips turn upwards, with the reassurance that in a small way he is still in control. And the fear of being captured by others and possibly tortured slips away. He made himself bleed first.

If he does recognize Shoshanna, he makes no indication of it. But he does start to make noise. Noise he can't hear. A high pitch shrill and nasally humming noise moves out from his lips, tuneless and formless, yet consistent. And annoying.

"If this takes sixty minutes, I say we throw him back in," is muttered beneath the shrill humming now. It's perhaps everyone's own good that invisibly, a wall of silence seems to descend between captive and captures. There's not even sound of the inhale through Douglas's nose or the scrape of his handcuffs against the chair to reach their ears, let alone the hum. "They've damaged him," Gabriel notes, words that wouldn't communicate to Douglas even if he could hear. "And he's already wrecked. I can't guarantee this will work if I can't make him concentrate on what we want."

Eileen leans a shoulder into the doorframe, taking some of the weight off the joints in her legs and tired feet. When she reaches up to rub the heel of her hand along her jaw, her palm leaves a thick smudge of soot in its wake. She's had an opportunity to clean up since fetching Gabriel from the other side of the Island but yet not to shower or change out of her jeans or her shirt — once white, now an ugly shade of gray splotched black where embers from the burning church sizzled holes in the fabric.

"It doesn't matter if it works," she reminds him hoarsely. "It matters that we tried. Do you think it's safe?"

Forced to stay stiff and erect and unable to hear his own idle humming, Douglas is kept still only by the assurance of the blood trickling down his head. A broad smile curls up as the high pitched noises leak out through his lips.

Even as he speaks to Eileen, Gabriel has his eyes on the man in front of him. Though sound is barred, the glass in which he stares at the Humanis First soldier through is purely metaphorical, but may as well be literal for all the analysis. "Safe enough to be worth it." The sound comes flooding back, the pitch of the man's voice no less grating, but it goes ignored by Gabriel as he moves around the table.

The hand that comes down on Douglas's stiff neck is firm, uncaring, as if what he were touching were dead and gone rather than live and bleeding. Perhaps if they had time, there would be opportunity to learn about what made the man, dare we say it, tick

But there isn't. Gabriel doesn't know whose being precious, or who wants to kill the man, but it's a stifling environment to be working in regardless. Despite this, he hooks his telepathic ability into Douglas, and braces himself.

From her vantage point in the doorway, Eileen draws in a slow breath of anticipation through her nostrils and feels it fill her torso, tight around her ribs and sharp in her lungs. When she lets it back out again, the hand that was resting against her face falls back down, arm loose at her side, and forms a fist that presses fingernails into the seat of her palm.

This is usually the part where her mouth is aching for a cigarette to alleviate some of the tension, but already she's inhaled enough smoke for one night. No amount of spitting or worrying her lower lip between her teeth until it bleeds will wash the taste from her mouth, either.

She could caution him to be careful, wish him luck. Doesn't.

//Eyebrows./ /

Could set up camp in there… no one find me for weeks.

The handcuffs are digging into his wrists, but that's only because since he realized he was in hand cuffs he's been pushing his wrists against them. Not in vain hopes of busting through, but in causing himself pain. The sting of the tight metal restraint flies in below the dull aching of the head injury. But it is all counterbalanced by the sheer joy of knowing he made himself bleed.

Wall. Wall. Wall. Table. Eyebrows.

His eyes swing around the room, taking in his surroundings before finally settling on Gabriel. He doesn't quiver when the hand falls on his neck, nor does he shy away. He smiles. The humming stops.

Observations, a connection to his own discomfort. One of those eyebrows raises up when Douglas angles a look at him, before Gabriel is pulling his hand away, trailing it back around the edge of the table before coming to sit down opposite. His own discomfort is something masked, the trickle of thought soon becoming a roar, really only expressed in the stiff horizon of his shoulders as he sets his hands against the table.

Immediately, the split head wound bleeds a little steadier, drawn out of him at a rapid spatter that winds tiny rivers past his nose. It comes clean, without leaving any particular residue clinging to his face. Gabriel's eyes hood, mostly reflected inwards as he listens, and sees, and feels.

There's silence from Eileen's lonely corner of the room, her lips pressed into a thin shape too tight to allow for any sound except for the shallow hiss of her breathing, and even that is scarcely audible. The only reason it reaches ears at all is thanks to the smoky residue thickening the mucous in her nose and throat, all the way down through her windpipe.

Pipes knock in the walls and footsteps reverberate through the ventilation system, betraying the presence of other people elsewhere in the building. Wherever the Phoenix operatives have retreated to, it isn't far. Eileen can't blame them, either; her desire to be close to what's happening is strong enough to have brought her into the room with Gabriel, and now it anchors her feet to the floor where she stands.

More blood.

As the blood streams down his face and over the curves of his lips, his body starts to convulse. His chest retching back and forth rapidly, shoulders bouncing as far as the handcuffs around the chair will let him. He's laughing. Douglas' mouth gapes open, blood stringing across the gap, and some even leaking into it. Tides of laughter floods out, saliva mixing with the blood making stringy goo slobber down and hang from his lips.

Scary. Scary touching without touching. But safe behind the blood. Can't be touched without being touched and touched. Touched. Touched.

"Stop touching me." Fog separates his words from his ears. But he's sure he said it, slobber and blood splatter across the table as he speaks. Though his laughter is settling down. "Touching without touching." He sounds friendly, nigh conversational. "STOP" Comes the guttural roar that instantly and abruptly screeches out of his throat, his facial expressions immediately changing, veins looking like they are about to pop in his forehead.

They want to take me inside. Won't let me play. Take me inside. Make me wear turtlenecks. Make me wear suspenders. Read books! I want to play. I will not go inside.


Gabriel's observation of the other man, from the sharp scrutiny before, is minimal at best and utterly impassive. It acts more as a warning, of the things to come as the neurological map of Douglas's particularly unique mindscape layers like thin paint over his own, becoming less and less opaque. As the blood drips down around a smile, smearing it red, and then that breaking outburst—

Whatever's to come is gonna be a bitch.

His own hands clench harder against the edge of the table, and Gabriel shuts his eyes, ignoring the sounds of the man's voice in the present, and focuses on the one growing in his head. His own heart starts to thunder, as if perhaps he was the one strapped to the chair, needing to see blood. Danko. Dean. Places. People. He starts comb through the internal rambling for relevance, to snag on even the most tangential thread, eyes hooding shut completely.

Eileen's booted feet carry her away from the door in a wide circle around the table as she continues to hang back in the peripheral, almost indistinguishable from the other shadows that occupy the cell. Counterclockwise, she carves a path behind Gabriel and then moves parallel to the table before hooking around its corner to examine the muscles in Douglas' back and the way the move beneath the gauze with every heaving breath as if straining to break free from the bloodstained dressings.

Like a scavenger at a kill, she maintains a safe distance out of reverence for what's happening, memories scraped from Douglas' consciousness with the haphazard precision of flesh torn off bone in teeth. You can't hear the gristle crackling, but the choked snarls and laboured breathing are right.

"Be silent."

"With all due respect, sir, I think it's best you take me instead of Douglas."

There are seventy three reasons why Douglas cannot finish tying his shoe. One of the reasons being that he has to count the other reasons before he can do anything else.

"I understand his family history. And it makes sense that you would take him given that, but sir when was the last time he has been in high society?"

Going inside. Baldhead making him go inside. Making him wear ties, making him wear white shirts. Going to a party. Going to a party, watch my back, watch my back. Baldhead never made him go inside before he let him play. But now, now, everything's wrong…. He's never going to finish tying this shoe.

Douglas' stares across the table at the other man. Teeth baring, blood smattered along the whiteness. Were he not mostly deaf he might be able to hear 'Shoshanna' and leap back at her biting and scraping against his chair. But he is mostly deaf, so Gabriel remains with a pair of haunting orbs fixed on him.

Glasses on trays. Most of them filled almost to the top with clear-ish almost yellow-ish liquid. Like pee. It makes him laugh a little bit. All these people in their nice dresses, in their suspenders, in their turtlenecks they don't know they're drinking pee. His laugh stops short as a tray is coming towards him, floating. It has too many glasses on it. Too many. Douglas had to snatch one, and then place it on a different serving tray that didn't have enough. Once he realized how many serving trays had problems, he had to dedicate much of this gala to righting this wrong. Danko would have to take care of himself on the bottom floor.

His eyes are fixed on Gabriel for a long time in total silence until finally his mouth opens to utter something. An almost inaudible whisper. "I've… got no strings to hold me down to make me fret to make me frown. I had strings but now I'm free, there are no strings on me." He gives a large view of his teeth with a wicked grin. "Hi-ho the derrio it's the only place to be. I want the world to know nothin' ever worries me…"

Baldhead is sleeping. They're in an ice cream truck with no ice cream. And he got shot. He's very perturbed. The bloody man on the ground of the truck seems perturbed too. Maybe that's why he's not breathing very much anymore. He should be stepped on….

"We'll take you and Danko back to the safehouse, Douglas."

Then he can go back outside, he can play again. Good. His foot crunches down on the bloody man.

The gala. Gabriel remembers it, but right now his only recollection is that of the man in front of him. The jaunty song being graveled deafly out of the captive's throat is joined with an absent minded whistle from the serial killer, cheerful and bird-like before his eyes snap open again, staring across at the other man while simultaneously seeing the broken form of Felix Ivanov on the floor of the truck.

"I know this part," is murmured. "What comes after? Where did you go?"

There is no real reason to say these things out loud, but it's a good way to focus. It's difficult to do that, because Gabriel has wires tied taut through the other man's spine. The chair's legs suddenly scrape against the concrete floor as Gabriel pushes away, though stays seated.

Eileen snaps into action, spurred by the scratchy hiss of wood on concrete as the chair shoots back from the table and scours through dust and grime, leaving a set of scuff marks on the cell's soiled floor. The tendons in her pale arms and the curve of her throat resemble cables as well, though the tension running electric beneath her skin has nothing to do with any ability or unseen forces seizing control of all four limbs as she approaches the unbound man, then stops abruptly short.

Her voice is uncertain, too. Halting. "Gabriel." Somehow, she manages to keep her tone from lilting at the end of his name. It's a statement rather than a question, and she seeks affirmation from his face with her eyes instead.

"Fucking motherfucker really made us stop to get icecream. Danko's life could be in danger, and this crazy fucking psychopath has to get rainbow sherbert."

"Shut up, man. You heard all the crazy shit this guy has done? Just let him eat his cone. We'll be to the place soon."

Baldhead made him go inside. Now he's outside, with a rainbow in a cone. He's free. He should eat Baldhead's ear for making him go inside. But right now his mouth is otherwise occupied.

"I've got no strings… stop touching me…. to hold me.. stop touching me. I had strings but now I'm stop touching me. Stop TOUCHING ME." His hands are digging into the handcuffs so fiercely that the skin starts to break, the cuffs actually breaking into the skin. A brief surge of rage that he can't move his stomach bones. "Stop touching me…" He sighs out after his yell is over, his eyes lid down as he starts reciting over and over. "Stop touching me."

A two story house. Twilight. Two people with bags over their heads a kitchen…

His legs are swinging powerfully now, kicking at the bottom of the table. Kicking at the legs of the table, stomping on the ground. Should Gabriel's telekinetic grip on him release for any reason, Douglas, chair, and cuffs will go careening into the ground.

Gabriel raises a hand at Eileen, though there is no lashing out of any power - it's a silent request. Wait. Likely misinterpreting exactly why she states his name, but he doesn't desire to be interrupted. When Douglas suddenly goes over, the abrupt motion does what had been intended - his spine is released of those strings, allowing him to move freely save for the cuffs around his bloodied wrists.

With twin smacks, Gabriel's palms come down onto the surface of the table, and shimmers of multicoloured light ripple across the surface, bend up, disappear into sparking fireworks quick to peter out as if light were a liquid to splash over the edge. "There's a house. We went to a house," is told to Eileen over the clamour within the cell. "Two rabbits. They get to stay inside all day."

Gabriel swivels a look towards the opposite side of the table, and blinks when it's vacated. Curiously, he lays a hand against the surface to tilt to the side and peer beneath it. "Hi. Do you know where the house is?" he asks of the deaf man.

Cognitive dissonance is the formal term for it. Eileen experienced something similar when Kazimir was using Gabriel's mouth to speak. His mannerisms no longer match her cemented perception of him, and there's something unsettling about the way he angles it that's very un-Sylarlike. Her brows set into an unreadable expression, worry lines appearing on her forehead beneath her dark curls of oil-black hair, plastered to her skin by sticky traces of sweat and soap scum that didn't wash away when she toweled the soot and ash from her face back at the river safehouse.

He gestures for her to wait. She does.

No more chairs. No more chairs. Wriggling off his seat, Douglas' knees find purchase on the hard ground as he crawls away from the chair. He inches away rapidly before he stops dead. His eyes swing over to the faint whisper that passed over the fog that is his hearing. Staring at Gabriel, his head tilts far to the left in an over-exaggerated manner. "Hi." He whispers back.

The house. Go to the house. Went to the house. Douglas' features visibly deflate when asked about the house. He doesn't want to go into the house. They always make him go into the house, why can't they leave him alone, why can't they just let him play inside. He doesn't want to go in the house.

"He's deeply troubled Doctor. We found him naked in the woods past our backyard with a bleeding rabbit, he was dissecting it. He's only seven years old!"

He's been looking for this rabbit all day. But he's been running away. "Why have you been running away?" He frowns, as the little beady eye of the critter is gouged out. He smiles softly at the end of his stick. "You don't need to run away anymore. We can play now. They won't make us go inside. They won't find us here." Turtlenecks

"He's been improving over the last few years. His habits fading away in public. We can put him around other kids now without worrying he'll hurt them."

They're always making him wear turtlenecks. Long sleeves. Long socks. He hates them. Let him go outside. Outside. Outside.

It's Gabriel's chair's turn to go down, now, its wooden limbs in the air and back clattering against the ground, hitting the wall when he abruptly stands up. It's barely a penny dropped in contrast to the slam of the table flipped over its end with an all mighty wrench and shove, skittering two legs across the ground before it hits the wall. Colour trails off of it, as if power use were something one could leak as gliding streaks of light dance through the air to animate the motion.

Gabriel steps back, trips over the chair he'd knocked over as he's more flooded with memory of dissected bunnies and little boys than he is of the present world. Upon hitting the ground, he doesn't seem to completely register that he did so, a hand braced against it as he looks across at the other man. A wide smile crosses the other serial killer's face.

His hand goes out towards Douglas, and abruptly, the prisoner convulses, his right arm jerking against his chains. "I want to go outside," is growled out from Gabriel, directed to Eileen, as Douglas continues to twitch and yank at Gabriel's behest. The chains won't give, but perhaps the bones in his hands will.

All abilities come with built-in weaknesses and flaws, though the inherent risks that some pose are more obvious than others. Even depleted, Gabriel's arsenal is nothing to scoff at, and when he and Eileen stepped inside she knew they'd be taking a chance by using Jane Doe's tactile telepathy on their captive. That said, if she knew then what she knows now, she'd have advised him against it and suggested another, less intrusive tactic.

As it stands, he's as much a danger to himself as he is to Eileen and Douglas. The chair is overturned and the table on its side, leaning against the far wall in perfect stillness and complete contrast to the thunderous explosion that reverberated through the cell like a canon shot when it collided with the wall.

She's the one with the keys. The one with the real power, even if everything else points to the man she walked in with. "No." True to form, she does not budge, feet riveted to the floor. Green eyes lock on Gabriel's face, and her voice takes on a hard quality that it lacked before.

"Let him go," she says tersely. "He doesn't belong to you — he's not yours to play with."

Chair down, table fly, Douglas' eyes follow the table with a little grin, blood bubbling off his lips. A little chuckle flows out at the table flying and crashing into the wall before his eyes lazily slide back over to Gabriel. When Gabriel smiles, Douglas simply laughs in return. Even when his wrist's start to bend against the metal constraints. Tilting his head back the thin marine lets out a maniacal laugh, falling onto his back as his hands twist and grind.

There's the crack and pop of small bones being clenched and broken together like twigs in a fist as Douglas's arm is forcibly pulled against the cuffs, the metal sliding and cutting into the skin of his knuckles. Gabriel has his eyes trained on Eileen, a wild kind of focus as if trying to assess whether or not he should be listening to her. Then, he swings that look across towards Douglas, a reluctant and childishly rueful expression contorting his features—

And then the air ripples from his extended hand, like invisible smoke rings forcing shape through the air as a near deafening crack rocks the room. The blast hits Douglas, sending him flying back into the wall as easily as a tossed ragdoll, skull bouncing off the wall to send the man slumping face first to the ground. His arms still bound behind his back, one partially crushed inside the metal loop of his cuffs.

Gabriel eases out a breath, the assault of memories continuing to unfurl in his mind like kernels popping in a microwave. Still crumpled to the ground, he rests a hand flat against it, his forehead against his knuckles.

Eileen's feet appear in Gabriel's field of vision, and in the next instant there's a cool hand on the small of his back that slides up, following the unique curvature of his spine with its fingertips before it finally settles at the nape of his neck. Her ears are ringing and her footfalls muffled, her thin intake of breath a whisper in comparison to the far-removed sound of her voice which is perhaps a little louder than it probably should be, like ocean waves roaring up to crash against a battered shore.
She can't hear very well. Its volume strains to find the approach level, her auditory perspective made strange and alien by the raw display of power that rocked the room a few moments ago. "Gabriel," she says again. "Get up."

There's no response to the touch, not until it reaches his neck, which gets a bristled, curving kind of response that travels up his spin, twists his head around to glimpse her in his periphery. "He's in my head." Words are flat, coarse, and just within her hearing range as her head empties itself of the whine from the thunderous sound of before. "And you're touching me."

And Gabriel doesn't get up, his hand against the ground sliding a little towards Douglas's crumpled state. Leaking blood leaks a little faster, gathers on the floor in a rippling and active puddle, before the movement stops and Gabriel curls his fingers inwards, fingernails scraping the ground.

"Outside." He lifts his head. Get up. Go. That makes sense. He negotiates his legs underneath him, other hand coming up to press against his forehead, and slowly gets to his feet.

Eileen's hand leaves Gabriel's neck. It's a battle been instinct and logic, caution and compassion, and in the end reason wins out. She shouldn't be touching him. She shouldn't even be on the same side of the room. Wordlessly, she braces that same hand against the stronger of her two knees and pushes to her feet, the first symptoms of exhaustion manifesting in a low groan that catches in her throat.

She isn't moving toward the door just yet. "Can you control it?"

Gabriel is, however, moving towards the door, a hand out to guide himself along the wall as if he were back to blindness. When his fingertips hit the edge, he glances expectantly back at her. "Yes." As if, perhaps, to prove it, he draws his palm back from the inset of the door, heel scrapes back a few steps to admit her room to open it. "I just need to get out before I hurt him." The words are leveled, an effort made to separate his own voice from that of Douglas's still echoing rich in his skull.

"Be careful you don't hurt anyone out there, either," Eileen says as she approaches the door and gives him the space she'd permitted him before. The desire to touch and soothe with her hands, voice, and the heat of her breath at his ear like she sometimes does has lessened now that he's up and moving, eyes bright and alert, but it hasn't been eliminated entirely. There's a moment where she darts his eyes at his face, gaze lingering for all the time it takes to find Gabriel there before it shies away again, shifting her focus back to the door.

The key turns in the lock. It swings open on its hinges.

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