Drink For Thought


gillian2_icon.gif teo2_icon.gif

Scene Title Drink For Thought
Synopsis Two people share a private conversation in a public location. The Ghost pushes Gillian in a thoughtful direction or two. And in return she gives him a few things to think about too.
Date June 11, 2009

Shooters Bar and Bistro

A place that used to be a cafe and is making a slow progression towards being a dive bar. During the day, the balcony and a good portion of the sidewalk is taken up by outdoor chairs and tables, where people can enjoy a beer as well as a sandwich or whatever else is on their menu - a decent, if simply array of bar food. During the evening, unless it's a warm night, these are taken inside, and the kitchens are closed. A wide variety of beer is available, along with hard liquor and maybe a few wine labels, but nothing fancy. The interior decor is similar to traditional British pubs, with a hardwood bar and brick wall. There's an old pool table towards the back, along with a dart board. The building is actually two storeys high, but whatever is upstairs is inaccessible to the general public.

In this part of town, the tables at the edge of the room often are in highest demand. One such table holds a small shape, wearing a faded oversized hoodie. Black hair hangs into her face, but doesn't cover the fact that the person at the table happens to be female. Slouched into her seat, the woman's going through drink after drink. There's a whole bottle of vodka sitting at her table, in fact. One would think she'd be reeling by now, considering her size…

But there's a memory playing through Gillian's mind. Someone who couldn't get drunk, or more accurately, could actually FEEL alcohol again. And now she's the opposite. She can taste it, but there's nothing going on with it. No additional effect. She can't even curse whoever she picked it up from, cause she's not completely sure who it'd been…

Little does she know she even paid for the bottle with money that she acquired from the same man who gave her the inability to get anything out of the alcohol.

That's what the Limey bastard Brits call 'funny,' and everybody else identifies as 'irony.' And there's a lot of it going around, tonight.

Fergus crashes him into the wall, eliciting a jolt of pain in his shoulder and jarring the bone in its socket. Ghost bares his teeth, shoves back; expels a laugh with that final evacuation of force, and there's a scuff of shoes across the floor, legs tangling and then the throng of black-clad men right themselves out again. Logan's security detail just changed shifts; an event that almost always heralds itself with an influx eddy of business at Shooter's. This is closer to the hooligan brotherhoods of his teenaged years than Teodoro Laudani has experienced in twenty years. Probably, that says nothing good about this situation, or about him.

Don't get up in my face because you don't have the fucking stones to talk to her. Ghost's elbow bounces off Ferguson's voluminously pillowed hip.

The huge Irishman mutters something, claps him over his shaven skull, fat fingers scuffing his scalp. Ghost grimaces, jostles past another massive companion, dibs the first stool at the bar. Fergus glances up at the bottle blond in the red one final time, turns his attention to the bar. Fuck. I work at a whorehouse. Who needs 'em?

The noise of a rowdy entrance makes Gillian start slightly as she was stuck comtemplating what's left of the bottle of vodka, which isn't much. Unsure if that's a sad happening or not… After settling from the start back into her usual slouch, her eyes shift up to look at the men, perhaps worried they might be intending to cause trouble. It's not exactly danger that she sees, though some people would probably say different…

Details of the view tug on a memory as she looks through a veil of dark hair, squinting across the room. It's a memory that came before the suddenly detailed beyond comprehension memory of recent weeks, but one that still can get tugged on. Not quite deja vu, since she'd never seen the man in such a situation, but straight recognition. Grabbing the bottle, she takes a long drink of what's left.

…Nope. Nothing. Takes the fun right out of drinking.

The ragtag knot of men slaps down across the bar. Ferg goes with whiskey, Alan whatever's on tap, and someone has the bright idea of shots for everybody! and of course, he gets to pay for it. Somewhere between orders, the ghost begins to tense, his muscles steeling from a tingle of subconscious awareness even before it registers in the higher function of his brain, that something subtle is off here. Not the door, but the weight of somebody's regard, unexpected and therefore unwanted attention, the whites or pupils of somebody's eyes flashing wrong in the blur of his periphery.

He doesn't turn around. Leans his elbows on the bar-top, laughs at something idiotic that the Mexican at his elbow said. They deride his weight. He is half the size of anybody else here, so he understands that. Keeping his hands away from gun grips, he takes one breath for focus— and Gillian feels it then, a peculiar scrape and tingle in the back of her mind, the matrix of a foreign consciousness bumping awkwardly against the bulwark of her latent telepathy, niggling for ingress and access to the sensory perception cortices of her mind.

For the ghost, it's like walking into glass. In that same instant, his spine goes straight as if jackhammered. He turns a pale eye over his shoulder, unerringly finding purchase on the hooded figure of the raven-haired woman through her vodka bottle.

There'd been a single moment where this happened. A man was speaking to her, the words bouncing around in her head in an unnatural way— and then sudden feedback which gave her a headache. The feeling is one she recognizes quickly, even if it'd only lasted a second or two. Something that makes her wince and pull away physically, as if that might help. It's almost like a rubber band slapped her in the face, though nothing of the sort actually happened…

Ow, reverberates through her head, even sending out in an untrained way toward the very man who caused the backlash, following along it like a person crawling up a rope that got lowered down. Unclear, untrained, raw and simple. Latent as it may have been, it got snapped into use— at least for the moment.

What the fuck…

It's more a whisper than anything else.

Gillian Childs. He should have known. Except, you know, there was really no foreseeable way that the ghost possibly could have. Perplexity marks his forehead with two loud accents, his eyebrows hiked up so high on his forehead that it ladders his skin with graven line of torque. The next moment, he's rubbing his forehead with the heel of his hand, turning down the shotglass. No thanks, he tells Alan. Alan is surprised. Why not?

He grunts something about fucking mutant-cancer-drug interactions, sticks with beer instead. Whatever's on tap. Closing his hand around the pint glass, he slumps forward over the edge of the counter, watches his companions with a desultory, negligent sort of interest even as Gillian burns a marked presence in his peripheral. She is looking a little worn and ragged, which is sad. Last he saw her, she was in her thirties and far better put-together. No offense meant.

Undertones of psychotic evil aside, this just means that Teo is worried. As usual. Who'd you catch telepathy from?

How can mental voices sound familiar? When she's never heard it before? Gillian opens her mouth as if to respond outloud, and then slouches even further into her chair and fingers at the nearly empty bottle. A little clear liquid clings to the bottom, shifting when she grips fingers around it. Wish I fucking knew, she admits with a grunt, though after a moment she realizes exactly who it had to be, and the words flicker by without her even meaning to. Must have been in Pinehearst, with Peter's dad…

When someone's untrained… what thoughts get through and what thoughts get lost in the transaction?

Word from up high says I should be getting away from you right now, you know? she sends on purpose, the hand moving from the bottle to push hair out of her face. There's a hint of a scar on her cheek that shouldn't have been there, but it looks old and thin, like a childhood injury more than something recent.

Maybe, Ghost answers, rolling ice around in his glass. The chunked crystals click and shuffle in the yellow of their liquid medium, seesaw back on the thickness of meniscus. He raises the rim and studies the pristine clarity of the material— impressive, given this is not only Staten Island but the Rookery— swallows another mouthful of cold alcohol.

It might be arrogant, that he sees no need to safeguard his reflexes and lucidity, but then that might make sense, too. Depends on how much Gillian heard. They probably hadn't specifically noted that Teodoro Laudani had been hijacked by a professional ninja. Or maybe they'd be telling you to seize the opportunity, with the power vested in you, to find out what's really going on with me. You probably wouldn't have to look far. On the other hand, you're not Phoenix. Not really. You've never been— concerned enough for that shit, eh?

What's wrong? He seats his jaw on the heel of his hand and looks at her in the finger-mottled glass of the mirror backdrop to the bartender and its rows of bottled liquor.

When everything else sucks, liqour is something people take serious. Sometimes. Depending on how much someone's willing to pay for it, at least. Enjoying the sight and smell of the alcohol might make more sense to drinking it, with her, but the first drinks might have been flukes. The whole bottle… and the one before it… Not a fluke. Concerned— fuck, Gillian sends back, reaching up to touch her forehead. It's not the liqour kicking in that's making her head fuzzy— it's the words passing back and forth like some obscene two-way radio.

It'd be so much fucking easier if I really were just concerned about me and only me— I'd be on my way to fucking Mexico by now, the mental voice speaks, still quiet, but rough in the lack of training. It's a wonder she's not accidentally projecting to everyone…

But you're right— not really one of them. They had stuff I needed, I had stuff they needed— and I liked you as a leader more… And he kind of gave an implication. Everything's fucking wrong, that's what. I have to be strong… There's an echo of another thought bouncing around inside her head. Strong enough for both of them. And I don't know how. And all these fucking abilities are pissing me off. I can't even drink now. There's an angry grunt where she slouches, a glare at no one who's actually here. So would you tell me what the fuck happened to you if I asked?

A mystifying tendril of bitterness threads the corner of Teo's mouth, pulls it taut as if it were a hem yanked wrong by the threaded eye of a needle. That's sweet. She liked him better as a leader. He didn't. Never has, and despite the changes between who he was then and who he remains now are various and vast, that remains one of the few that fall neatly in line. Helena been giving you a hard time? he asks, streaking his fingers through the translucent skein of condensation. Don't be too hard on her, please.

After all, she did just get back from a day and age where she had to watch you fulfill the duties of a wife for Peter Petrelli with conspicuous adequacy. Aloud, he's telling Ferg something about girls, and how to talk to them. Motioning lazily with one long-fingered hand, ducking when the big man aims to clip his head with a rough cuff of his hand. It's a miss, mostly. If Teodoro had hair, it'd be flattened over and turfed up by the pressure of Ferguson's extremities. Instead, the momentum adds to Teo's loose-limbed lurch off the stool.

Now he is crossing the floor, his gait all shoulder and ankle, swinging with the default braggadocio that he had never grown out of despite that it had been ten years since he had run those streets alongside the other hooligans in 2009, and twenty since 2019. Who else are you worrying about? He regards her through blue eyes bright with curiosity. The reduced level of his beer sits in his hand. You're alone. It's neither a question nor a snide remark made at the expense of her shabby garb. He hooks himself a chair with his foot and seats himself at her table. All of his clothes are black.

Give myself a hard enough time, Gillian thinks automatically, though there's also a shake of her head in response to the first bit. It all happens automatically, which means she actually sits up straight when he mentions what she was doing in the future that she'd went to. Suspected this had been the case, but hearing it — in a manner of not speaking — from someone else still catches her by surprise. All that filters through for a moment is dull shock.

Shock that hasn't vanished when he crosses to pull out a chair across from her and sitting down, after commenting on her aloneness.

How the fuck do you know about what she saw in the future? That's really what— fuck, she grunts, one of her hands that still smells of vodka rubbing across her face and hiding her eyes for a moment. Course these sounds she might be making outloud is nothing compared to the ressurgence of sound inside her mind.

Liked you as boss for totally different reasons, but shit— I don't even know if I can be around her right now. Don't even know how the hell that future even fucking happened. She's not surprised by the mention of what— but still reeling over the hows. He successfully derailed any direct interrogation.

Reaching for her bottle, she tips it back and forth— not even enough liquid to try drinking— and then smacks it down a bit heavier than necessary.

He's gotten good at that, or at least better than he used to be. In the days of yore, Teodoro Laudani had relied upon enormous blue eyes and naked earnestness to get people to do what he wanted, escape from trouble. More recently, he has been the voluntary participant of murdering his friends, having them captured, depowered, tortured, exploded in a radioactive coruscation throughout the sky. Lying, too. He lies a lot. He doesn't know why it's getting harder to tell lies, but oddly enough that has very little to do with the fact that he is sharing yet-concealed truths.

"Might as well drink something that fucking tastes better while you're at it," he points out. He sits his pint glass down on the table, a wobbling tunk of impact. Presses his fingertips to the curved wall of the receptacle and pushes it across. Misted condensation greases the way. It is an ale, a few weeks earlier than warm weather, but still kind to the tongue.

Somewhere behind him, the boys grow reasonably impressed. With the hood and loose hair sifted away and out of her face, Gillian is a looker.

Slouching back in his chair, he squints at her. The posture suits his face and role better than it does the black jacket, shirt and slacks that is the standard of Logan's security detail. The future fucking happened because the lesser of evils won. I don't think they're going to do that this time around. What are you beating yourself up about? Seems unlike you; every other time I see you, you have an unlikely cause to defend.

The rum is taken, studied for a moment, "Yeah— next time I'll grab a bottle of schnapps," she comments outloud, before taking a drink of it. Gillian lets it sit in her mouth a moment before swallowing. The taste still has an effect. It's just the side effects after that seem to be delayed more than she might like. Delayed into non-existance. "Rum works too," she adds, setting it down and sliding it back toward him. He'll get more benifit from it.

Know an awful lot about that fucking future… the mental voice almost seems to grumble. The future that won't happen now, apparently. How much of it won't happen? Any of it? Someone told me I married him, she sends across, looking up through her hair from her once again slouched stature. It fits the oversized clothes she's wearing. Specically they told her NOT to marry him, but that's beside the point— or maybe the whole point. Defender of unlikely causes… Ever have something happen that… you're not sure if it caused you to see something, or if it just made you realize you'd already fucking seen it and were just denying it..?

You sound drunk, the man answers, with a cant of brow and lilt that indicate that he is however aware that this appearance is misleading. Bad joke. Ghost dismisses it with a motion of long, flickery fingers, settles with the alcohol in his hands. Studies her from across their table with a quiescent sort of silence, the air in front of him too dead to belong to the well-intentioned Sicilian bratling that Gillian had dealt with before, but gentle all the same. Sand and cobwebs are harmless to touch, and in the real world, the dead are far more helpless than the living.

Except, you know. Not really. I think Helena would be better off being in love with someone else. Maybe because he needs another kick in the pants or— fucked if I know. I get the sense it only really worked out between you and him because you'd both gotten older. These things are difficult to predict. I'm fucking hopeless at relationships, too, he adds, aware that his story was one that the other Phoenix operatives would have found irrelevant for sharing. The way you phrased your question was confusing.

But it seems to boil down to that it is an escapable fact either way. Are we still talking about having sex with Peter?

"There was no— " Gillian starts to blurt out rather suddenly at the end of the telepathic message, before she bites down her teeth and closes her eyes for a minute. Sex with Peter. Great. That brings back a certain situation with a car. It ended badly. There were wrenches involved. And not the methophorical ones.

There was no sex, she emphasizes with her eyes still closed and her mouth clenched shut. I just realized I might have liked him when that electric guy told me to not marry him. And then I couldn't stop liking him. Even when she got back. There's no real anger in her voice when she mentions she, but there is jealousy… At least it hasn't started raining. Her abilities are focused all in one direction. Thankfully.

But I— fucked things up— I was sneaking around to see him, I tried to— I don't know. Last time I saw Gabriel, he'd would rather be left alone in pain than let me stay with him— and I really… I needed him. And I wanted him to… she trails off.

Then Peter had to go and fucking kiss me, but there was nothing past that… A pause in thought, a minor tilt of her head. Only cause he decided to try and— Her eyes open and she looks across the table, even leaning. Cause she's speaking outloud now, in a raspy whisper, "Why the hell can't I fall for a guy who's never tried to fucking kill me?"

Lean shoulders reconfigure against the shape of the furniture behind them, slackening for comfort, a mild capitulation to gravity, skewing away from the severe lines of carpentered geometry. The reader probably knows better than to mistake this for actual relaxation, and should note that he is not drinking at a rate too great for his alcohol tolerance to keep up with and, perhaps most importantly of all, he can see straight.

The mind is a powerful weapon, and he requires only sight to aim. "Boredom," Ghost offers. He sounds a little bit wry, but mostly he sounds sad. "My guess, you haven't learned to appreciate boring yet. You're— what. Twenty? Not even twenty five. It happens. I'm the same way, honestly." He holds up a palm as if to stave off some defensive bristling that probably wasn't going to come anyway. "I'd say 'bad luck,' but that sounds kind of like refusing to take responsibility, and—

"I'm always a sucker for that." He screws up the side of his face slightly, squints at her underneath the half-assed effort to focus better on her sharp-jawed expression and dark eyes. Gabriel's gift, I take it. I'd wonder if this is going to change Phoenix's perspective in Gabe as an intrinsically dangerous person, but that would— I don't know. Require those of heroic disposition admitting that they were wrong.


It's seamless, the transition back into verbal speech. Teo is unusually good at that, for someone who isn't a psychic. Probably because he is, but Gillian has no way of knowing that, just yet. "Is he the one you're worrying about?"

"Twenty-two. … maybe," Gillian mutters under her breath, with more than enough going on inside her head to make up for the insecurity on just about everything. Her last name isn't get last name. Parents aren't her parents. Siblings aren't her siblings. For all she knows her birthday isn't her birthday. Think they already started to admit they were wrong, she adds, closing her eyes again and putting her hands over her face. It helps to keep her mouth shut by doing that. They started calling him Gabriel for one, and without having to hesitate and look at me to do it.

Apparently the name alone is a big step in her mind. Right direction or not… I wish I were drunk. I'd probably make more fucking sense, she thinks, shaking her head in a way that sends dark hair cascading in oily locks. Washing her hair doesn't seem to be the top of her worries. At all. Everything that I thought I knew… it all's turning out to be a lie. Even he was lying to me. And now I don't know which parts were lies and which… There's a hint of a sound in her breath and suddenly she's wiping at her eyes. I don't even know how any of this future shit would have worked. Even when he was— he only kissed me to make me jealous so I'd use her power— probably cause he wanted it.

There's a show of teeth, however brief, a rictus that is broad enough to be indistinguishable as a smile or a snarl. Either way, there is mirth in it. Funny stuff. Descending. That isn't an admission. That's reserving the right to change their mind. Regret makes admission, he points out, but that's really just picking at details, he knows. The net effect is the same. Fewer egos bruised in the process.

He's being bitter. Isn't sure why. There's an absence of real concern for Gabriel's ego, or any other part of him, until the words she had spoken stir a strand there, and he remembers who he is, which isn't to say he remembers merely who he was playing.

The ghost offers Gabriel a few things. You said— he was in pain, he repeats suddenly, drawing himself up. Elbows meet wood and his axis slurs forward, reducing the gap between them. Pale eyes make a search of her face, not because he doubts the truth but because in this time of halted speech and abbreviated anguish, the smallest nuances carry import. And that Peter tried to fucking kill you. I take it this was some time ago and all part of the unanswerable soap opera but— where the Hell are they now?

I don't know, Gillian admits as she settles her head down on the table. If someone didn't know better, she could be drunk, and a grouchy tired drunk at that. She's naturally grouchy right now, it would seem. Haven't seen them for over a week. I don't know how to be what I need to be— strong. Strong enough for the both of them. Just like she'd been told to be.

This is fucking retarded, she suddenly says, rubbing her face as she sits up.

She doesn't even seem to notice she's slipping back into a raspy voice, a real voice. "I got mad at Gabriel for hiding shit from me, and then I turned around and did it to him— then I got fucking pissed off at Peter for running away from everything, and now I can't even face him, or Helena, or Gabriel or any of them. And I don't even— this is actually why I liked you better as a leader. For some reason you just— " Here she'd been trailing off, but it continues. You're easy to talk to. Fuck if I know how that happened.

Some other expression twists Teo's mouth, a grimace, one part humility, two parts — something else, no darker but not sweet. Ghost could take that as flattery. He thanks her for that much, in a goofily bashful wave of his hand, as Teodoro Laudani is wont to do. Somewhere in the recesses of his mind, his counterpart will awaken and swear at him impressively— some more. If he was awake now, maybe she'd be able to hear him.

Maybe. For now, however, there is nothing but the woman's misery to keep the company of the two psychics, and that is a powerful dirge indeed. He takes another pull of beer. "It's always the shit you don't say," he agrees, wearily. "I mean— fuck.

"I've fought with everyone I've ever dated before, and I think it only gets worse as I get older— I say shit I don't mean, sometimes, but it's the stuff that you won't or don't get around to that you tend to regret the most. Secrets." He drags the heel of his hand along his cheek and there is the abrading sound of stubble dragging the air. He inhales once, sharply. The personal ones, anyway. I'm glad you can talk to me.

But I'm sure you know, his head tilts the other way, a fractioned movement, hawk-like. To be strong, you have to stop being weak. You get no one by hiding. You get no one. Looks like you're even at some risk of losing yourself.

"Ouch," Gillian says quietly, though there's a hint that she's not actually offended by the bluntness of the comment there. Stop being weak so that she can be strong. Weak is never something she liked admiting to, but there's often no way around it. People who aren't weak don't do many of the things she's been doing— they don't rely on others as much as she does. There's… things I could tell Peter that I can't tell Gabriel, she mentions in thought, thinking to a specific incident. A few words seep through, specifically about her sister. Hard to talk about her sister with someone who could be considered responsible for her death.

Do you ever wonder exactly what makes us who we are? I've been thinking about that a lot lately… is it the people who gave birth to us— the people who raised us— the friends we had, the people we loved— the powers that we get… natural or— I was supposed to be like you. Only reason I'm even involved in any of this crap is because they— them — they injected me with an ability when I was an infant. Without that I would've been like you. And I probably wouldn't have met them— Phoenix wouldn't have wanted my help… Fuck— I'd probably still be working at the library… Deep thoughts here.

Little does she know she's looking up at and sharing her thoughts with someone who might understand part of what she says next. I couldn't help but wonder— my original ability. Did I define it, or did it define me? And now that I have a totally different ability— did that change who I am?

"Sorry," and for a moment, contrition reigns Teo's face: he is that. It's never easy to hear, and God knows he's borne that often enough. His eyes flit down to the meniscus of his drink. He takes another pull, a second, lets his throat work that down while his fingers lattice the glass differently, scrawling another layer of dark transparency.

There's an assload of science and literature out there that muddles around the proportion of how much influence we owe nature and nurture respectively.

I'm pretty sure it isn't fifty-fifty on average, but I'm also pretty fucking sure that you aren't average, so we can probably safely dispense with the generalizations. A shadow shades his cheek where it hollows out into a broken-off half a smile. He knows that sounds like flattery, and it is; he's only graceful enough to add— You don't even have to believe you're special to make good decisions at a rough time, but it might help. Personally? It means something to me that Evolved abilities are all derived from the same fucking biolgoy, but that there are so many different manifestations. Gene expression can be influenced by stress. Life factors. Stuff you do, stuff that's done to you.

I think if your body housed a slightly different soul, you'dve manifested a different ability. At the same time, I don't doubt the abilities you wreak change who you are.

Maybe some of this is your empathy talking. The ghost's brow furrows slightly in consideration. He sits forward, elbows skewing outward, wrist crooked around his pint glass. He clarifies: Your sadness.

"No you're not," Gillian rasps outloud in response, looking across the table with reddened eyes. There'd been tears for a moment, it would seem, but she's trying to ignore that fact. The lack of make up to run makes it easier to pretend nothing happened there. But it does seem as if she's "listening" — as much as anyone can in a uniquely unspoken way of communicating. Starting to give her a bit of a headache, but at least they don't have to worry about the hard-ass people overhearing the really important stuff.

If only she could figure out how to use this ability, she'd probably use it far more… Little does she know it's not all her.

I never did get my ability— but now I think I do. Kind of. Or at least… I think I know what I need to be doing now. And it ain't this, she looks down at her bottle of vodka and picks it up. Empty as it may nearly be, she doesn't toss it to the floor at least. She holds onto it.

The empathy talking… There was this guy— he had an ability kinda like mine. Able to help people without being able to help himself. Meeting me made him have that thing happen to him, and he made a comment… He said that maybe God wanted me to get a sense of what I give people… I always made them stronger at my own expense, and now I… do what they do. So if I want to stop being… not me… I need to go back to what I did before.

Make people stronger at her own expense.

There's a bitter laugh. "God has a fucked up sense of humor." And with that, she opens the bottle and finishes off the very last dregs of the vodka. The terrible taste might well be a kind of punishment. So you gonna tell me what's going on with you?

Contradiction comes in a slight wrinkle around Teo's nose. "Yes, I am." Not tears-dribbling, hands-wringing sorry, but you don't have to be that sorry to be sorry. He heaves out a sigh of generalized acceptance, however, slumping his shoulders back against the furniture and allowing his knees to skew outward underneath the table, lax for comfort if not entire ease of mind. Agreement, next, with an inclination of his head. "He does that. I can't say I'm His biggest fan."

Though self-flagellation is terribly Christian, and warrants a moment's study of the bottle in her hand. He inches an eyebrow upward slightly, after a moment, retroactively wonders if it's Pastor Joseph Sumter that she means. Doesn't bother asking aloud. Sounds like him; the man who'd saved his life most recently. He certainly is stronger for Sumter's help. He isn't fucking dead.

I'm going solo awhile, Teo answers. The stuff about the future Hel and the rest have seen— some nasty fucking portents, and it seems like the… uh— deviations from it are skewing for the worse rather than the better. But there's a lot of moral gray area 'nd shit that really can't get on Phoenix's shirt, if the burning bird is going the way Helena wants to steer, so… I'm on my own for awhile. No idea how this Pinehearst and Primatech thing is going to pan out.

By this woman's standards, people don't need to be sorry when they're telling the truth. Perhaps comes from being lied to. But at least it got her thinking, and made her make a decision, which would be something she'd been waffling on for far too long.

The explaination seems to cause a mild realization, a filter of thought slipping through. The drawing,Eve's dream,Even more fucked up than it'd already had been — All the thoughts are short and scattered, but she leans forward as she consciously sends, I think you're right about things being worse. I went to go see Eve— you know her, right? She was helping Phoenix with the Kazimir stuff— she had a dream about something that looked… a lot worse than Pinehearst.

Or worse than Helena hinted it might be, at least…

Eve wanted to tell Phoenix about it, you and Helena, but all kinds of shit came up and I don't know if she did— she didn't want to do it alone. But if you go to the safehouse Gabriel and I stayed in in Queens… there's a notebook under the bed. One of the last pages has a drawing, a copy of a drawing that Eve showed me. Of the dream she had… A dream which had Kazimir's voice in it. And a bird and shadow shaped like a wolf and mushroom clouds everywhere— I showed it to Gabriel and he thought someone might be trying to get Vanguard back together— since Kazimir being alive is pretty fucking stupid. Eve could probably explain it better than I can, though, but it looks like the jumping through time fucked things over quite a bit.

That ought to touch a nerve, but Ghost's nerves are made of steel. And he knows better than to think that he started all of this, even if he does fall into a rather broad spectrum of available time-travelers visiting this dark era. Ghost is surprised anyway.

His eyes close, squeeze, and open again. His eyes swivel this way and that, looking for any readily proximit surface upon which he might be able to bounce his head off, a habit he never quite grew out of. For lack of that, he's left to remain upright, listen, and frown. I didn't think— I had no fucking idea that Kazimir might be back in the picture, he confesses. His forehead goes into sharp lines, angles, grim grooves pinching in between his eyebrows.

Shit. It feels way too soon for all the prescient information that Hel and the others brought back to start going fucking obsolete, doesn't it? I'll have a look at the notebook, thanks. He downs the rest of the ale in a frothy wash, finishes with teeth clicking and a grimace squashed around under the push of knuckles across his mouth. He flattens the black of his coat with a long-fingered hand.

Observes, squinted, Suddenly, you look like a woman with a plan.

Eve said it was probably just imagry, metaphor— she didn't think it was literal— but the words he said were simple… "The past is prologue". Which means I wonder what the future Hel and all of them saw was. An epilogue maybe? Gillian shakes her head, even as she moves to stand up from the table near the edge of the wall. It's not so much a plan as it is a direction, which had been more than she had a few moments ago.

More of a plan than I had, she projects back plainly. I hadn't avoided them at first— I went back to Coney Island after spending some time on my own and Peter was gone— then I couldn't find Gabriel, so I kinda just— Panicked, got pissed off, sulked. I did exactly what I'd be mad at either of them for doing.

At least she's admiting it, with a laugh as she pats her hands over everything, as if checking to make sure her pockets are still containing what they'd had moments before.

And now I'm going to find them and… wing it. Better than sitting on my ass with my head buried in perverbial sand, right?

Yes. When you sit on your butt with your head in the proverbial sand, terrible things happen. Like Humanis First!, and unexpected bombs and otherwise peaceful university lectures. Teo would know. Appreciate it if you'd drop me a line if or when you find Gabriel.

I'll do the same for you. There's a jack-knife motion of his fingers, brusque, half wave and half a clench of annoyance: the boys back over at the bar are hollering him to come over if he isn't getting into the stringmop-haired wallflower's panties, and he has more unsavory decisions to make, acquaintances to maintain. "You take care of yourself, signorina.

"Be careful, eh?" His chair scrapes back, and his pint glass glisters wetly as he rises. He yanks his jacket straight, rubs knuckles past the dip of his bleary eye underneath the line of his brow.

Sure— I'll give you a buzz if I hear anything from him, Gillian sends in response, a hint of fondness in her mental voice. Perhaps because he'd been the first one to give Gabriel a shot in Phoenix, and one of the few who seemed genuine in their attempt to understand who he was to her, and what she'd been willing to do just to see him again.

"You look like shit, you know?" she adds after a moment, glancing him up and down in full for the first time in a while. It's not that she hadn't noticed, she had— but as she's getting ready to leave, it must seem the right time to bring it up. Know it looks like the future's fucked, but it's not gonna help anyone if you fuck yourself over so much you can't keep fighting to protect it, you know?

Little does she know how true this statement is. She pushes a hand through her hair, and starts to make her way out the door. Hopefully with no one trying to follow her.

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