Eviction and Slaughter


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Scene Title Eviction and Slaughter
Synopsis Gabriel uses Teodoro's ability to search for answers in the most accessible place.
Date March 10, 2011

In Dreams

London fog smothers a dead city that could be New York but isn't. New York does not have deep canals running through it for skipping flat stones, or a great stone tower home to ruled by a flock of noble ravens that speak in every language except for English, but the dead city is not the dreamer's childhood home, either, because her childhood home does not have a heart that's been charred and gutted, or a greenbelt surrounding it like the one that cuts through Staten Island. It is an amalgamation of memory like strips of fabric torn from the waking world and stitched together to create a quilt composed of hundreds of different textures.

Bannerman's Castle is here, though Pollepel Island itself is not, the Ferrymen's stalwart fortress transported to the edge of a towering bluff with a view of the Atlantic in one direction and the sprawling, broken cityscape devoid of almost all life in the other. Sleek, dark shapes populate the water — harbour seals with eyes like polished glass and beautiful faces defined by long, wiry whiskers and pelts made of brown velvet.

It is a safe place, Eileen's bastion, but the pervading gloom hints at the kind of depression that slowly crushes people — the kind the Englishwoman has been keeping at bay for as long as Gabriel has known her, with varying degrees of success, and although it is not winter here, it feels like a very cold spring.

A piece of black falls from the texture of raven flock, one winging away solo; a raven with golden eyes. Its feathers shed in the run off of slicing wind, giving way to tawny textures of hawk's feathers, or maybe an eagle — something a little more dramatic than the average braying scavenger. Wicked claws and a stare that is more intense than it is clever. It wings away from Bannerman's Castle, so Eileen to him in its grey sides and stalwart weathering of the elements; soaring over the dark greenbelt brush with powerful flaps of its wings.

Searching for something, using a powerful stare to find it. But he isn't after a rat or a rabbit darting in the overgrown weeds.

The bird would miss the house in the shadows of the trees if it was not for the thin, watery smoke rising from its chimney, so pale and fine that it blends in with the mist. Too large for a cottage but also much too small to be a manor, the dilapidated property seems abandoned but for the sooty plume and soft lights flickering in old windows made of warped glass. The wind blows and catches white cotton sheets left to dry on a clothesline strung between two low-hanging branches and held in place by wooden pins the size of a woman's fingers pressed together.

If it belongs to Eileen, then it is a memory she has not ever shared with him.

That he notices it at all is what gets his attention, a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. The bird becomes a man without transition, rough fingers running along cotton to feel texture and weave like he has any idea about how much it costs via thread count where he is standing like he's been standing there for a while. But cost is not the detail he's after, however. Gabriel doesn't have command over this plane so much as he's an active audience member, one who can analyse detail, participate at a minimum, and maybe find whoever hung these out to dry.

Generic black cloth makes up his clothing, a little formless, a seamless shirt, ordinary denim that has no wear to it. His boots have some detail, well worn, scuffed, and they sink in dry soil. Amber-brown stare travels towards where washing line ties off on low branch, before he turns, feeling unconcealed despite the white sails of linens behind him.

The sheets flutter; one moment, there are only tree trunks too thick to wrap his arms around on the other side, but the next there is a figure standing in the haze. It is not, perhaps, the one Gabriel is seeking — the child does not come up more than a few inches past his knee, and watches him with dark eyes like a fawn's in the dappled shade of the leaves crackling in the branches overhead.

He or she is still of the age where Gabriel cannot say for certain whether the face belongs to a boy or a girl, and the clothes the little one is dressed in do not help either. Heavy wool sweater and navy coat buttoned all the way up to a stubborn chin ward against the chill, and brown hair lays in thick, glossy curls that brush the apparition's jaw.

It is not entirely there, or at least not in the way Gabriel is. A stronger gust might blow the child away, dissolving its shape into the same smoke curling out of the chimney.

Unexpected but not surprising. Dreams aren't literal things, even at the hands of skilled manipulators. There is nothing Gabriel can truly expect in his search beneath his girlfriend's unconsciousness, and so the child is only squinted at quizzically, trying to determine the make of it in bone structure, the measure of his— her— its stare. A coat flares open, something extracted, matte black on matte black, although the edge of a knife is a distinct sort of shape that even a child of this age might be able to understand.

He moves without moving, suddenly in a crouch.

The knife point coming to rest beneath tiny chin, lift tiny face, all without digging sharp edges into vulnerable flesh just yet. Keeps his focus on the child, but his attention is open.

Small hands reach not for the knife but for the fingers fastened at its grip. They curl around them between the knuckles, the apparition's touch soft the way a real child's would be, still pliable and fatty instead of the cool smoothness attributed to people who are vain about their hands when they grow older. There is no dirt under its nails or on its face made pale by the forest's silver half-light and what's leaking out of the house's windows.

Its eyes meet his and they are entirely unafraid.

He could have asked the girl— boy— where its mother is, but this way works just as well if not better. The child does not have to articulate anything; the sound of footsteps on the stairs at Gabriel's back tell him that they're no longer alone in the clearing.

If they were ever alone at all.

Sometimes he has trouble with that.


He doesn't fuck around either, moving in the same fluid motion as his higher energy form as stolen from Wu-Long a long time ago, without actually properly reverting to that black swatch of shadow. A blur of black and skin colour, smearing eyes like the streaky light photography of Los Angeles highways. Hands slip from childish clasp as he comes to stand behind the kid, a broad hand resting upon curly head and the ceramic dagger danging at his side. Expression schooled into neutrality, strong jaw, blank brown eyes.

Natalie was taller. The woman descending the steps has a long mane of hair a few shades darker and skin much fairer than Gabriel remembers his mother's being, and when she moves, she moves in the wrong way, evoking the sort of memories only Samson should be in possesion of if his suspicions are correct. Her build is more familiar than her face, which is covered by an inky veil of brown-black plastered to cheeks smeared with blood, and he knows the shape of her hips and thighs through the torn nightgown she wears without needing to look past the almost translucent fabric clinging to the dead, pallid skin beneath.

Eileen had told him that the energy residing in the goshawk wasn't human, and maybe this is why. It's taken her shape, drawn from his own experiences or the dreaming mind they both currently inhabit.

Ice crisps white and cracking from the ground beneath Gabriel's feet, icing over the soil, making lacy patterns over leaves and up the trunk of the nearest tree, and killing the less robust flora.

If it's meant to be a threat, it's not a very clear one. The thin veneer of frost barely has an effect on the garden and forest wilds, let alone the child or the woman wearing his girlfriend's face — although it does create a barrier of kinds around himself and former, a white patch of territory. Ice splinters beneath shifting weight, kicks up small plumes of smoke-like chill. Recalls, too, the snow on the ground and the girl on the snow, her needy hands and teeth bumping his.

His mouth pulls in disapproval of the shape she's taken, but doesn't know enough to specifically fault her this. This world is Eileen's, her perfume and smoke on the air, her hands shaping its geography.

Knife edge rests against the child's shoulder in quiet threat of status quo, or maybe just to keep her attention.

"You shouldn't have come here."

She curves a wan smile, teeth pink, and gray eyes tinted with hues of green fixate on Gabriel's face, gaze instinctively gravitating toward his in a way that a blind woman's cannot. Eileen is not perfect, and neither is the mask the dead entity wears — its attention to detail recreates the scarring on the inside of her arms, the old puncture wound between her ribs that she earned in Madagascar, visible through a slit in the nightgown's gauzy material, and the milky white tissue grown over the skin and muscle of her abdomen where she once bled into a drainpipe.

They all have marks. Hers are exactly where they should be.

"She has even you fooled," Eileen says. "Pretender."

It's nice, to meet Eileen's stare again. Even if it's not her stare at all. That hand placed on unruly mop of brunette claws fingers through it in a tug, jerking the child's head back so as best to once more slip the knife beneath delicate chin in silent threat. "You— " Even in dreaming, his words trip over his teeth; Gabriel's jaw clenches ruefully. He isn't a very good dreamwalker. He's a better predator when he can make the territory his own and the best he has now is a pretend knife to the throat of a pretend boy, a figment of someone's imagination.


The knife and the boy may not be real, but the fear that creeps into Eileen's expression when the blade sets against the child's throat is. A strangled sound floats out on her next exhale, though it produces no vapour despite the chill in the air. She looks as cold as their environment, her exposed skin unblemished by gooseflesh or fine prickling hairs responding to the nip in the air — her cheeks are absent of colour, and so are her lips.

It's all on her clothes instead. Her chin lifts in response to the threat, exposing a slashed neck and puncture wound above one breast, and Gabriel has seen enough corpses to know that the weapon responsible is probably similar to the one he's holding.

She isn't smiling anymore. "They took everything from me. You don't remember."

"I don't know what you're talking about," is growled, low and full of warning, as if the hover of the blade was near her already slashed throat instead of the intact one in the figment of imagination he grips by the hair. "I find it amazing how behaviour is so easily justified by people taking things from you. I speak from experience." Ceramic blade cuts, now, but shallowly — bright red trickles opaque to soak into the collar of the small sweater.

Not from a slicing motion, just from pressure. "I kind of want to see what happens if I do it again. You're trapped here. I could help you; tell me how."

The pained noise comes again, but this time it's a low howl instead of an imploring bleat that rises in intensity rather than pitch and ends in a choked out, "Stop!" Beneath the blade, the child is still but trembling, pulse rabbit-quick against the edge of Gabriel's knife — too trusting, the Isaac to Gabriel's Abraham.

"Please," Eileen whispers, and there are tears in her eyes and in her mouth when she reaches out a hand for the pair of them and clutches at the front of her nightgown with the other, crumpling the fabric between fingers that are as shaky and fragile as the child is. "My body— I need it to find him. Why are you siding with her? Don't you recognize me, Gabriel? It's Eileen. Munin. Please."


The knife draws quick and hot across the child's throat, tiny body turned aside as soon as its through, and Gabriel is shifting through the air, movement without moving, to confront the corpse woman. He becomes concussive energy rather than expelling it, becoming intangible and barreling into her frame to toss her back and away from the bleeding, crumpled form he's left behind. It's punishment for lying, for refusing to tell him what it is he wants to hear or know.


Wood splinters, brick siding flakes off the exterior of the house, and the force of the impact should break Eileen's body by crushing her neck and back, but Eileen's body is changing. She drops to the soil, spine bent and arching, and grabs fistfuls of earth in hands that are no longer hands at all. Fingers tipped with blunt claws clutch at the dirt and dig in, leaving deep grooves in the ground beneath as her face grows long and sleek, lips peeled back around a toothy snarl.

There is a large, sooty brown creature where the woman should be, its eyes bright and fangs gleaming as it shakes out its coat and lunges at the air with salivating jaws that snap. Eileen has always likened the Vanguard's family unit to a pack of wolves, and here the comparison is a literal one.

No more words, though it could still form them in this place if it needed to. The entity pads forward to where the child bleeds out into the leaves and presses its nose to the wound at the little one's neck with a plaintive whimper, but by the time it gets there the deed is already done and the gasping finished. A wet snort ruffles the child's dark hair.

A shuddering growl punctuates its swift departure into the trees.

It's one Gabriel finds he has no choice to accommodate. The simple will to chase is all it takes for him to be thundering four paws on the forest ground in hungry pursuit, dirt flying as blunt claws dig trenches with each long stride. He is a wolf of sharp black and white as if in defiance of his name and the moral ambiguities he possesses, or refuses to possess, though silver does lace through his bristling ruff as if Linda Tavara had lain her hands on canine flanks as opposed to human skull, that one day in Europe, a century and change ago.

The world maps out around them, developing texture and detail to accommodate. He is all strength and fangs, fallen rotten wood splintering beneath paws as he bounds upon and over a downed tree, narrowing avoiding an upright one, streaking like lightning down a sharp, forest-floor incline.

She'll feel his snarl maw brush an inch from the tip of her whipping tail.

Gabriel is all strength. The she-wolf is all speed. She streaks through the fog only a few paces ahead of her pursuer — snagging a paw on a branch or losing her footing for even an instant is all it would take to end the chase, but she has agility on her side as well as a scent that carries her under a barbed wire fence, tufts of charcoal-coloured fur snagged by the spurs, and into a field of green sparsely populated with delicate white flowers.

Songbirds that had been hiding in the grass are startled into flight by the appearance of the larger animals, their wings all shining different colours, though none so bright as the red wool of the coat worn by the little girl picking flowers on the other side of the field. Unlike the child back at the house, so far behind them now that it may as well be in another world entirely, this one is fully tangible if no more immune to sharp edges than the dead one left behind.

Gabriel will recognize her from pictures caught between the pages of a journal he found in Munich. This Eileen, his Eileen, is very small. She turns a stem between the tips of her fingers, then sticks it in her mouth, letting in hang from the corner as she bends at the middle to select another.

Muscles strain, back arches, his loping attempts to catch up or become faster resulting in exhaustion pain and frothing saliva, ears tight against his skull and eyes wide. He is thunder behind the she-wolf, loud and terrifying but always too far away, untouchable and unable to touch in turn.

Then he remembers what he is, and while little girl observes flower and she-wolf observes prey, he disappears.

He appears in a split second, a dark blur — a man, now, wool-clad limbs swooping around Eileen and driving her aside and down moments before ivory teeth and white mouth can score skin, before blunt grey nails can shove her down. Gabriel doesn't crush her, tackle followed through in rolling shove, the stink of Vanguardian wolf still on his clothing, and the wind of the brown she-wolf's flight ruffling the flowers the girl was picking.

The wind blowing through the trees is the she-wolf's voice, no longer Eileen's but something shrill and wanting, shrieking with desperation. Give her to me, it demands, tearing leaves from their branches, and as they fall they transform into more of the fleeing songbirds before they can hit the ground. Pretender. She's not yours.

The she-wolf does not venture any closer with Gabriel presenting a barrier that separates her from her prey. Instead, she circles around on her fleet, dancing feet, trying to get around behind him and find an opening she can dart into. Eileen presses herself down, flattening in the grass like a frightened rabbit kitten trapped in Gabriel's shadow.

If she was a lucid dreamer, she might understand.

And now Gabriel has the she-wolf where he wants her.

He doesn't hesitate, now that Eileen is down and the she-wolf has stopped her exhaustive running. He lunges abruptly, becoming wolf in the same time it takes to coil his leg muscles and spring with more strength than one would think possible. Maybe feeding off the fear of the little girl in order to defend her in offensive pounce, big paws extended, white and black adding definition to the snarl. I'll kill you first, is deathly promise, concrete certainty as hard and sure as fangs.

How this went from hopeful expedition, looking for Natalie, to fierce defense, maybe hard to keep track of. Lucid as he is, this place is not, and things become black and white in the face of threat, no matter who this creature is.

The she-wolf's ears flatten and eyes snap wide in what might be surprise. There is a moment where her jaws could close around Gabriel's throat as he's hurling himself at her, but they don't — teeth catch him by the ear at the last possible moment as his body slams into hers, and the pair goes rolling through the grass, crushing flowers under their combined weight. Hind paws brace against Gabriel's stomach, claws rip into skin, and the ear in her teeth comes away in tatters.

She's screaming a thin wolf scream while the girl on the ground covers her head with her arms, small hands tangled in flyaway hair blown freely about by the same roaring wind that gives the dead woman her voice.

His mother never sounded like that.


Perhaps he should have more faith in Eileen's guesstimates. But it's difficult to separate her mood from her analysis.

With a snarl that sounds as loud as thunder in the sky, Gabriel, bleeding streaks of ruby red, is too hopped on some sort of wolfish adrenaline to care. He veers around in a sharp turn and strong jaws lock where forelimb connects to torso, briefly savaging it for as long as he can avoid the she-wolf's snapping teeth. He'd go for the throat but isn't sure what dream death might do with his girlfriend's fucking psyche, and so is content to maim. Cripple.

He leaps over her, a back leg digging claws into her soft belly to mangle while he levers himself off her, dashing away. He heads for a sunrise, heads for blurriness, intending to slam himself back into his body while dragging the dream with him like a child running past a curtain and snatching. Shake Eileen to wakefulness, so that she can assume lucidity. Assume control.

Old Dispensary

Back in the attic of the dispensary on Staten Island, Eileen screams.

She jolts awake, limbs tangled in the sheets and heavier blankets dragged onto the bed in winter, and arches hips off the mattress. Her hands go to her face and her hair in a frantic clutch. She can feel his on her but cannot see them, and instinct has her twisting to get away while her brain is still catching up with her body. Sweat slathers the linens across her thighs and the flat of her stomach, makes a mess of her hair and in the dark is impossible to distinguish from what's hot on her cheeks.

He knows it's her when she crushes her mouth against his shoulder to muffle the sound and wraps arms around his neck — the first signs of awareness.

Gabriel is really only awake by the time hot breath is creating a film of moisture at his shoulder, long arms winding pale around his shoulders. Ear ringing with her shriek, which is a strange sensation, having not quite broken through to consciousness when she did, and he imagines maybe he'd dreamed it, still hearing the inhuman banchee cry on the wind. A hand drifts up and grips her wrist, and he might embrace her if he didn't fear crushing her or wasn't entirely certain about her identity.

But this doesn't feel like the same pretense as before, all clumsy sexuality, pathetic manipulations.

He opts not to volunteer his guilt, and offers the timeless explanation and reassurance; "It was just a dream."

She won't disagree. His hand finds the brace she wears on her wrist, and she loosens the grip her fingers had claimed on the hair at his nape. Either fear or embarrassment at having cried out keeps her face cradled in his shoulder, her mouth shifting up to the side of his neck to make breathing easier.

Eileen does not remember falling asleep, but this is not unusual; she never remembers falling asleep, and her body requires rest to function even when she's been doing everything within her power to avoid succumbing to it for more than a few minutes or hours at a time.

She'd meant to just lay with him for awhile, and she remembers that. Clearer, though, is the wolf stench and flash of teeth. Eyes that burn like coals. "You were there," is not an accusation. That he might somehow be responsible for her trembling has not yet occurred to her in the terror haze.

His arm beneath her, it curls enough to conform her body against his side, sitting in the female curve of back and hip. His head turns to ease warm breath through her hair, long lazy seconds stretching between her words and his words. "I was," Gabriel eventually agrees, voice at a rumble. "I thought— maybe she was someone I knew. I went to see and stirred things more than I should have — and I don't even have an answer."

It's the most apology she's getting. "I suggest eviction and slaughter."

He'll feel her throat contract as she swallows. A leg shifts against his and her shoulder brushes the edge of the pillow. Toes splay across the mattress. Touching things reminds her of where she is the same way lighting a lamp would if such a thing still did her any good. Her heart is a pumping fist in her chest and it knocks against Gabriel's ribs while he holds her. She reaches up and wipes off her face with the palm of her hand, made greasy by sweat, smearing away the wetness on the fabric of her nightclothes.

It takes effort to regulate her breathing and reestablish its usual rhythm. Pride supplies good incentive. "Who did you think it was?"

More pause, more silence.

Either to allow her to regain bearings and composure, or maybe because he's reluctant to say it out loud. Gabriel's head turns from her even if the half-embrace doesn't pull away. Exposes more of his neck to her, even, allows them both to breathe better. He's crawling his attention up the dark wall, torso swelling with a drawn in breath. "I thought she could be Natalie," he says, putting a wry slant to his voice.

Ha ha ha. "Fitting story, don't you think? Avian telepath, brutal murder, missing son. But after seeing it up close, I'm back to hoping I'm wrong. Whatever's in there should be put down. Even if it's her."

Put down. Eviction. Slaughtered. This is very strong language that Gabriel is using, and the realization that he's using it in relation to someone who might be his own mother compels Eileen to remain silent for the time it takes the breath to leak all the way out of him, then fill his lungs again. Listening to him breathe relaxes her, and she finds that she's suddenly tenser now than when he initially woke her up.

She reaches out and curls her hand around his, both to offer support and to implore him for it. When she decides what it is she wants to say, and that it's better to steer away from the subject of Natalie, her voice sounds like a creaking door. "What do we tell the others?"

Immediately imagines she means the Remnant, but perhaps Abby and Kaylee are owed explanations too. But the 'others' could well be anyone for all that sometimes, in this room, not much seems very important or specific beyond what's in easy reach. He breathes in, sharp through his nose, a shiver of a shrug as he rolls his attention back up for the ceiling. "I'm speculating," he reminds her, an eyebrow lifting for no one's benefit, no one monitoring his expression. Instinct.

"Tell them whatever it is you plan to do about it."

He's already given his verdict, in harsh enough language that he can't wheedle himself out of it midstride.


Eileen does not have any plans beyond squeezing Gabriel's hand and closing eyes that do not see. Acknowledgment comes in the form of a tucked in chin, her jaw settling at his collarbone as she withdraws back into herself. Exhaustion would have her easing back into a fitful sleep, but she places her concentration on staying awake and out of anyone's reach except for the man beside her. She curves her thumb over the inside of his palm and explores the gaps between his knuckles before her hand stills.

Eventually, the trembling does too.

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