eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif

Scene Title Don't
Synopsis The morning after isn't supposed to be this awkward, except when it is. Eileen displays symptoms of guilt and remorse. Gabriel sends her grudgingly on her way.
Date November 10, 2009

Old Dispensary — Attic

It's not the hitch in her breath or the rustle of movement beneath the sheets that gives Eileen's eventual return. It's the sound of wing beats, scarcely audible above the rain pattering against the attic window and the crackle of damp twigs as talons hook around the elm branch spreading spindly wooden fingers across the pane. In the early morning light, the owl's dusty plumage gives off a golden sheen and matches a pair of luminous yellow eyes that stare out from the middle of a stately face crowned with tufts, its gaze fixed on the shape of the unconscious woman occupying Gabriel's bed.

Her fingertips are curling in on themselves a moment later, nails biting into the soft skin of her palms as she clenches her hands into fists and stretches out one bare leg as far as it will go, foot pointed like a ballerina's encased in a slipper made of pliable leather. Needing to get accustomed to her body every time she comes back to it after time away is one of the downsides to her ability; it may be several minutes before she's comfortable in her own skin again, and even then she's still familiarizing herself with its functions, reveling in the sensation of prickling gooseflesh.

The first thing she becomes aware of is the temperature in the attic. It's cold — colder than it had been outside with owl's feathers to warm her. The second—

Well, she's still working on the second.

The soft, chilly, gentle world in which Eileen woke up into is split apart in the next moment. There's a slam of something connecting into wood, a grating of metal, and she'll open her eyes to the sight of a fist gripping a bloodied pair of scissors, having driven it deep into the modest, antique bedside table at her head, less than a foot away.


Gabriel doesn't have the will or stamina to put even the most sarcastic of tones into his voice. Pale faced and overtired, he straightens his back once the scissors are driven deep enough to stand on their own accord. Common sense and Teo Laudani have both told him that not moving would be wise unless he desired to pop freshly tracked stitches the Sicilian had been kind to sew into his skin, but then again, Gabriel hasn't had anywhere to sleep. Not anywhere his mind would let him, at least.

Standing, he's changed his clothing, and his hair is wet, though the scents that carry from him to Eileen are not properly showed, with fever-like sweat and staleness, though blood is all but gone. Speaking of blood, his bed is stripped of its sheets too, the room cleaned save for the glistening scissors, and of course, Eileen's own body - a smear of dried brown-red on her calf, on her hands, her face, her hair, and the man's shirt she's still wearing.

Where Eileen's head is, sans pillow, the noise is comparable to a gunshot. She recoils with a start, tension visible in the thick cords of muscle stretched taut under her skin, and shrinks away from the bedside table like a wilting flower in fast-forward. As her eyes adjust to the light of the attic, struggling to bring the scissors and the hand that clutches them into proper focus, she makes a small sound trapped in the back of her throat.

Blood. She knows that smell. If there was any doubt about the substance crusted to her clothes and skin, it's dissolved when she tastes it on her mouth. Guilt weighs heavily on her conscience and prevents her gaze from lifting any further than Gabriel's fingers bulging around the scissors handle. What she does raise is her arm, using a clean section of dress shirt sleeve to wipe some of the gore from her face.

She's had plenty of time to piece the puzzle together, and although there are still sections missing, she's in possession of enough information to imagine what the full picture must look like.


"Don't," Gabriel repeats, and it's ambiguous as to whether he's parroting her or adding to the conversation, giving instruction, as he looks her over. The sun is at such an angle that chilly morning illumination blares strong through the window, high enough to make his eyes the paler shade of their amber tone as it regards where the bird had landed, where it had flown away again. "I'm not doing anything. I could be."

There's no other furniture up here, at least not for sitting at. The writing desk towards the wall has not been given a seat, and the floor served him just fine last night. So he walks, slowly, like an old man, around to the foot of his bed. "You know, when I first joined the Vanguard," he starts, forcing whimsy conversation into his voice, "there was a long period of time where I never trusted you people enough to sleep in the same building. I thought I might wake up to a slit throat or a double-tap to the head."

Of all the things that Gabriel could say, this is perhaps one of the worst — or best, if he's fishing for a reaction. Eileen turns her head away from him, dark hair plastered to her cheeks and the nape of her neck, longer now that it's had time to grow out after Pinehearst. It's still nowhere as full or curly as it was when they first met over a year ago, but it's getting to the point where just dragging her fingers through it won't relieve her of the sweaty mats or tangles clumping it together.

She can't tell him that she'd never willingly hurt him. Whether or not she meant to this time, they both know that's a lie. "I didn't know it was you," she offers instead in a weak, wan voice lacking breath. "I thought you were somebody else. I thought—"

She stops herself there, throat contracting around a dry swallow. Her tongue feels like sandpaper in her mouth. "I'm sorry."

And he watches the reaction, head tilting languid and serpentine as if he could track the way she hides her face. But even then, Gabriel's gaze drops somewhere between them, looking at her bared legs against his mattress, and he brings up a hand to rub at his unshaven face. His lip curls, his neck straightens. "I know. Teo told me, that you were killing someone else, in your head. He thinks that maybe you subconsciously came to me for protection, or at least knowing I could defend myself.

"That sounds a little optimistic, don't you think so?" He nudges a socked foot against one of the crude edges of his hand-made bedframe, before dragging his gaze back up to her. "Was it a dream, or was it more than that?" Not that he hasn't already inspected her arms, but it's good to hear it too.

"I haven't touched Refrain for weeks," Eileen croaks, twisting fingers around the sleeves of her shirt in what is probably a self-conscious gesture rather than an attempt to hide scar tissue less than a few months or even years old. "Naltrexone. Buprenorphine. But not Refrain." As if sensing his eyes on her legs, she draws them up, bent at the knee, and tucks them partway under her body in the fetal position. Fingers scratch at the blood on her calf, peeling it off in flakes.

"It felt too real to be a dream. Like there was somebody else in my head. First Kazimir. My mother. The man who came after me when you and Ethan sent me away. All I could think about was protecting myself, and then it turned into him. John Logan." If Gabriel doesn't remember who John Logan is, Eileen hopes that Tavisha does. Saying the name makes her tone take on an even more haggard edge, voice chafed red and raw — she doesn't know if she'll even be able to recognize it as hers if she has to explain. "Dreamwalker. Telepath. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. What if it comes back?"

As if her legs receding back into the question mark curl of her body is a gesture to allow him space, well, Gabriel takes it as such. A hand goes down to brace against the mattress, and he sits. Flexibility gone in lieu of pain, he doesn't twist to keep watching her as he sits. She gets his back, the curve of his spine hunching forwards as if to protect his injury. The wet curls of his hair gather into a small lick at the nape of his neck, soaking drips into his collar.

"Then we'll be waiting," he suggests, voice barely loud enough to travel back to her. "I will be. Teo, if he wants to. Were you in the owl the whole time? Maybe that's how they got in." His fingers fidget with the buttons of his shirt, but he doesn't undress as much as he might long to sleep.

It's interesting, the distinction between it and they. Eileen is silent at Gabriel's suggestion, and as if turning the possibility over in her head says nothing for a very long time. When she opens her mouth again, her voice is softer than it was before, having lost some of its former hoarseness. "No." Which means the reason for her lengthy pause is grounded in some other collection of thoughts. "Only when you— pushed."

There's no other word for it, or if there is then it presently eludes her. Eileen does not know how to describe what Gabriel did to her, thrusting her consciousness from her body, though the absence of hurt in her tone conveys that she understands why. "I should go," she says finally. "Stay away from the dispensary for awhile. You, Teo. It isn't safe if I'm here."

"No," Gabriel contradicts, easily, as if a single word could magically reorder exactly how things are meant to go. "You should stay, where we can watch you. You might be a danger to us but you'd be more of a danger to yourself." To someone else, too, but his train of thought never quite makes it that far. A decision is made, and his shoulders and back muscles shift as he rolls the shirt off, lets it flop onto the end of the bed and fall off onto the floor.

His palms pin into the mattress, pushing himself back enough to draw up a leg, continue to lever himself with his heel catching the edge. "Sleeping different hours sounds like an adequate safety precaution," is somewhat sarcastic, as if the threat of a girl with a pair of scissors wasn't all that bad. Never mind the panicky piece of power use and the throbbing pain he's working around.

"What are you going to do, Gabriel? Handcuff me to the bed? Post someone outside my door?" The creaking mattress shifts her attention away from the wall where it had settled and moves her gaze back to Gabriel's figure at the end of the bed. Gray eyes tinted green are magnetically drawn to the stitches in his side, exposed to the freezing air, skin stained yellow where the iodine was applied. "It's not your decision," she says. "It's mine. I could have killed you."

Probably would have, if she'd aimed the first blow at his throat and the second at his ribs instead of the other way around. She sits up for the first time, one arm bent and supporting her weight, the other holding the front of her shirt closed with her hand, fabric bunched between clenched fingers. "You leave us when you don't trust yourself around other people. How is this any different?"

"And you don't like it when I do." It's a brisk exchange of words, Gabriel angling a look over his shoulder to capture her in his periphery before his neck relaxes again, hands forward. He pushes his hands through his hair, nails scratching, before shifting back inch by inch enough so that he can lie down upon ruined mattress. He'll flip it over when he has the strength or is frustrated enough to ask Raith and Ethan for help. Settled as he is for now, he raises an eyebrow at her. "Are you encouraging bad behaviour? I came back this time."

Eileen encourages plenty of bad behaviour, but not what Gabriel is suggesting. She looks down her nose at him, eyes hooded by their lashes, the dark circles beneath them even more prominent at this angle. The hand clutching at her shirt drops, brushes fingertips over his wound without actually touching it. Instead, he feels the displaced air against his skin like a cat's whiskers or the soft edge of a grazing pin feather. "I hate it when you do," she corrects him in a deceptively mild tone that reflects nothing about her true feelings on the subject, "but I don't tell you to stay."

She withdraws her hand again, rises from the bed on unsteady legs. There's a moment where her left knee looks like it's about to buckle and send her plummeting to the floor, cut abruptly short when her hand catches the edge of the bedside table. Pins and needles prickle through her extremities. "Are you implying that you wouldn't?" she asks. Then, for clarification's sake: "Come back?"

And so she stands up, which— is in keeping with her side of the argument. More bed for Gabriel. He shifts enough to take up the warm spot, as much as his frame dwarfs hers, but it's comfortable enough. "Immediately," is his clarification in turn. "I meant, come back immediately. Besides. You have birds to find out where I am, if you need it." The implication being he has no such tools, but he doesn't go and elaborate, flitting his eyesight towards the window as he rolls on over onto his uninjured side.

Smooths a palm up the scissor slashes in the fabric. If she had aimed higher that first time, it's true - he'd be dead. Thus negating the argument that he outstrips her in danger levels by far. There are different kinds. "Where will you go? Your Ferry friends?"

"No." Eileen works the buttons on her shirt, leaning a hip into the bedside table for support. It isn't a long walk from the attic back to her room, but the walk doesn't need to be long for someone to encounter her along the way. If they do, she'd rather not expose any more of her skin than is absolutely necessary. The fact that she's in the shirt at all strongly implies she didn't intend to leave her room at all last night. "I could hurt them as easily as I hurt you. There are other places I can go.

"Teo knows some of them — he tracked me using my phone, back when Tyler Case swapped my ability for the one you took to help me control it." She adjusts the shirt's sleeves, collar. "I'll be all right."

There is possibly only so much sleeve clinging Gabriel is capable of before becoming tired of himself, though not everyone in the room will see it that way. That eyebrow goes back up at her response before smoothing back into neutrality, a hand reaching out for the pillow that evaded both blood spatter and cutting scissors. Pulling it beneath his head, he lets his gaze list away from her.

"Fine," isn't really permission given as it is dismissal. "Throw me a blanket on your way out. There's one in the closet."

Eileen's footsteps carry her across the attic to the closet, groaned open and rifled briefly through. Blankets don't take up a lot of space — they aren't hard to find. Dismissal. Permission. It doesn't matter which, as long as she can construe it in a way that makes her feel like he's giving her his consent. "I'll see you in a couple of days if you're still here and nothing else happens," she says, closing the closet doors. There is no throwing of the blanket, either. She places it on the bed beside him, still folded.

"I promise."

His hand reaches out, snags the corner to draw the blanket out of its fold as he drags it over his body. "You might see me before then," Gabriel feels the need to point out, not bothering to lift his head as his hands smooth out the blanket so that it covers his body at least approximately. Purely unintentional, the scissors remain standing the bedside table not so far away, gleaming metal where blood hasn't caked its silvery edges. "If not in the flesh."

She doesn't stick around to ask what that means. On some level, unconscious or otherwise, she already has a fairly good idea of what it might, and the thought disconcerts her almost as much as the scissors wedged into the table. Before she moves for the door, Eileen looks as though she might say something more, her lips pursed, tongue resting light between her front teeth and the roof of her mouth. In the end, though, it must not be very important or is too difficult for her to articulate, because she turns away, sober and downcast, and exits the attic via the same stairs she climbed up.

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