Eyes Forward


vf_magnes_icon.gif vf_munin_icon.gif

Scene Title Eyes Forward
Synopsis In the midst of an existential crisis, Magnes confronts Munin in search of answers and ends up making a promise instead.
Date January 12, 2012

The Hub, Munin's Railcar

The railcar once belonging to the late Eve Mas no longer bears any resemblance to the seer’s aesthetic. During her time at the Hub, with little else to do, Munin has focused her energy into making her spartan living quarters feel more like a home. A frayed, faded oriental rug in muted hues of emerald green and patchy cerulean blue covers the floor, lending the space some much needed warmth. Above, a flock of folded paper swans appears to cascade overhead, each bird dangling from a length of colorful string, either borrowed or stolen from Edward’s supply.

It’s no substitute for the real thing, however, much the same way Magnes is no substitute for the man she once insinuated they might both pretend he could be. When he comes for her, she’s sitting at the center of a nest of pillows and tuning an old violin with long, slender, newly washed fingers.

It smells like cigarette smoke in here, but also musky floral perfume, soap, and other familiar creature comforts reminiscent of a previous era.

Magnes suddenly slams his fist against the wall when he barges in, not knocking at all, out of breath. He's heavily patched up, covered in bruises and cuts, most of the cuts will heal, at least the ones on his face. "Why didn't you tell me about Hermod?" he asks, immediately starting to march over to her, then stops short of about two feet.

"And don't start that ninja bullshit, I'm not in the mood, I will fight you, Eileen… Munin." He is not happy, and he looks incredibly tired, as if he could pass out at any moment, kept awake by sheer emotional energy.

Munin runs the edge of her thumbnail along one of the violin’s strings, producing a strange, shrill sound. Genuine confusion forms creases on her brow and in the crow’s feet on either corner of her eyes, which are studying his injuries with a sort of morbid curiosity. She looks him up and down. “Pardon?” she asks.

"Hermod, the version of me in this world, the Magnes J. Varlane who works for Kazimir. How didn't you know about him? He was clearly in charge of people." Magnes sounds ridiculously distressed, and he isn't moving his left arm very much at all. A hand is raised to rest on his forehead, backing up into a wall to hold him up. "He shot himself in front of me, I watched myself die, and I need to know why you didn't tell me about him."

“Because I didn’t know.” Munin’s returns her attention to the violin, or seems to. She’s quiet for a moment, considering this new piece of information in carefully measured silence as she continues to make minute adjustments to the instrument. “The secret to Kazimir’s success,” she says finally, “isn’t his ability, or the people he chooses to surround himself with. It’s how he strategizes.”

She turns one of the pegs, just so. “He divided the Vanguard into separate cells. Ethan Holden’s, here in America. Iago Ramirez in Argentina. Grigori Zhukovsky in Russia. There are others he never told me about, others unaware of my existence, or even the existence of his true daughter. He compartmentalizes. Even within cells, he’s an expert at playing his operatives against one another.”

Her thumbnail tests the string again and the sound it produces curves her mouth. Better. “I’ll tell you something I’d wager your Eileen never told you,” she continues. “I grew up thinking my father was a petty thief who drove cabs for a living. As it turns out, he sent one of his own operatives to get with my mother and paid her to carry the baby to term. Fifty thousand pounds for the pregnancy. Another twenty-five thousand annually until I came of age, at which point he was meant to come and collect me.”

She moves onto the next peg, but she isn’t smiling anymore. “My bloodline has a long history of producing seers. He wanted to breed his own pet prophet — sorry to say I’ve been of a disappointment to my dziadzio.” Her green eyes lift, searching the expression on Magnes’ face for some sort of indication that he understands the moral of her story. “I found the truth for myself by accident, when I was looking for something else. I don’t think he ever planned on sharing that with me. Herr Volken likes his secrets very much.”

"I'm sorry." Magnes says, his expression one of compassion, because even at his most angry, even at his most vengeful, he somehow manages compassion… well, that's a goddamned dirty lie, but he manages it for Eileen at least.

"Kazimir… I've seen what he's done, to everyone around him, to this world. There was a time when I admired a version of him, when he was inside of Peter Petrelli. But even he told me… he told me not to forget who he is, what he is…" He slides down the wall, until he's sitting on the floor, blood starting to leak through his white t-shirt, at his left shoulder. He clearly has bandages on.

"I can't… I can't just leave, I can't leave this world like this, I can't leave Kazimir to just… get away with this. I don't care how many timelines branch, I can't care if in some stupid grand cosmic nihilistic scheme it doesn't matter, it matters here, it matters to you, it matters to the Gabriel he made into a victim." He slams his head back against the wall. "FUCK!!!"

"Eileen… I have to call you Eileen, I need that right now…" he admits, sounding almost desperate for something, anything, any comfort he can find, even if it's just in a name. "So many people died, so many people suffered, this world is suffering, when I leave, this world will continue to suffer, and I can't… just… tell me what to do, Eileen, please…"

Munin rises from her nest of pillows and crosses the rail car on bare feet. She’s traded her jeans for a pair of cotton leggings and an oversized sweater that swallows her small frame but is infinitely more comfortable than the rougher wool and leather she was captured in. The fabric rustles as she stoops into a crouch in front of Magnes and reaches out to place a hand on his bruised cheek, steadying his head. Her other hand goes to his shoulder and tugs aside the collar of his shirt so she can better assess the damage.

He shouldn’t be bleeding. “You can start by finding your center,” she suggests, peeling away the edge of his bandage with her fingertips. “He doesn’t let his emotions get the better of him, and you ought not to either.” There’s a toolbox nearby that contains no tools; when Munin unfastens the latch and pops the lid, Magnes discovers that it’s a first aid kit in disguise. She selects a needle and depleted spool of surgical thread.

“I’m going to fix your stitches. Try to hold still.”

When she peels his collar back, she not only sees the clear stab wound that went straight into dislocating his now relocated arm, she also sees the older scar that, oddly enough, looks as if a human being bite his entire arm off, but… that can't be right.

Nonetheless, the very strange scar is there, among others.

"I think I might be a clone, I don't know, I'm so confused. There was someone back in my world, I thought he was from another reality, but he was actually a clone, I think, I mean I'm not really sure anymore. I know that I'm not a clone of this Magnes, but I'm starting to think that I'm a clone from back home, in my world…" He looks up into her eyes, as if using them to brace himself. "I told him that if my father was making clones from pieces of our brain, then I'd have a scar just like him… he checked behind my ear, and find the same scar that he had, then he freaked out and shot himself…"

"If that wasn't proof that I wasn't a clone, then maybe he thought it was proof that we're both clones…" he suggests, not even sure if his rambling is making any sense. "Fuck… my life is just… sorry, center."

“Learn to separate what matters from what doesn’t,” Munin says, threading the needle between her teeth. “A clone is what? Skin, bone, hair, teeth. A beating heart. Not so different than anyone else.” She removes the rest of the bandage and sets it aside. “All cells replicate and divide.”

His wound doesn’t appear infected. Two fingers press along its edge, summoning a fresh rush of blood that carves a path along his collarbone and the dip in his chest. That hurts. “Where you come from is inconsequential as long as you keep your eyes facing forward and focus on where it is that you’re going. Where’s your destination, Varlane? Home?”

"I want to go home, I want to see my friends. I mean I guess I did get Elaine pregnant here, that's gonna be kind of weird to explain to the Elaine back home who broke up with me. But, well, it's something to look forward to." Magnes shrugs, then finally manages something like a smile. "You really are like her, even though you're so rough, you still have her compassion."

"But… if I just go home, I can't do anything about this world, I can't stop Kazimir, I can't give these people a chance." He watches her thread the needle, watches the way her lips move, the way her teeth work. There's something about Eileen that always reminded him of some sort of woodland creature, it's one of the things he always liked about her.

"Be honest with me, Eileen…" He looks at her, his eyes pleading. "If I helped you, could we defeat Kazimir?"

It’s a question that Munin isn’t equipped to answer. “Your New York,” she tries instead, “home, friends, family. Think of it, for me. Leaves on trees. Birds in trees.” She punches the needle through his skin, wound squeezed shut between her fingers. Her movements are swift and practiced. “Central Park blooms green come springtime. The air smells like new blossoms opening for the first time.”

A quick tug and he’s already one third through it. Munin does not hesitate or give him the opportunity to think about anything except for the picture she’s painting for him. “People crowd the streets. They’re vibrant, happy, alive, and at night everything glows. Neon lights wash over the city — all colors, flashing, pulsing, rotating. A bodega on every corner. The best pizza in the world, unless you’ve ever been to Naples. That’s your center, Varlane. Your destination. The only thing that matters.”

She snaps the thread off, not with her teeth, but with the blade of a knife Magnes didn’t realize she had until it was already flashing in the dark. It’s done. “Whenever you want to start asking yourself questions like those, I want you to think of your New York. I want you to place Elaine and the baby there and keep your eyes forward. Do you understand?”

"I…" Magnes is sweating now, because, despite all the pain he's experienced, getting stitched is never pleasant, but she did a good job of distracting his mind. Now he's just, well… he knows Eileen somewhat, at least as much as her character as he's been able to discern between two women. "I understand…"

"I also think I understand why you want to stay, and why I can't force you to go. I'm sorry for getting mad, for the things I said when you refused to leave…" He reaches out to gently place a hand against her cheek, tears starting to roll down his. He's already lost so many people, watched himself die… "You're not her, you're not my Eileen, but… even though I'm respecting your decision, it tears me apart to leave you here. I want you to know that no matter what, no matter where I go, someone cares, someone is thinking of you."

He bites his bottom lip for a brief second, and then asks, "Does that mean something?"

Munin tolerates the physical contact without flinching or drawing away. Her knife folds shut under the heel of her hand and disappears back into her boot. “If you need it to,” she whispers, offering him a rueful smile, “then yes.”

Gauze unravels between her hands. It’s a step up from the flimsy adhesive that had been plastered to his chest when he walked into the railcar, and she’s mindful not to cause Magnes any additional discomfort as she swoops it under his arm and around his shoulder. “I don’t know if we can defeat Kazimir,” she admits, “but that’s not what you came here to do. You’re going to be a father, so you no longer have the luxury of being able to go in whatever direction your moral compass points you.”

She fastens the new bandages with a safety bobby pin produced from behind her ear. “I promised to take you to Gillian Childs, and I will. Promise me you won’t ruin your child’s chances for this foolish vendetta.”

"I…" Magnes has to think again, because, like always, Eileen is right. He has to wonder, for a brief moment, if Eileen is always right, or if she's simply always right about him. He has to wonder if this is a normal experience to have with her, or if this is an experience that is uniquely a Magnes/Eileen affair. "I promise."

"I wonder what it means, when two worlds split apart. At that point, what does DNA even mean? Do you still have a bond with your other selves, are you still connected in some way? I've been thinking about that, about what it means on an existential level…" He closes his eyes, which perhaps shows that he can never quite stop trusting her, even knowing how she is here.

"Everything feels so tragic. I remember talking to you, I mean, the other you. I said I wanted to get Hiro Nakamura and time travel to undo all of this, make it so nothing ever happened, so we all lived normal and happy lives. I was so… defeated, and you gave me hope to keep going." He opens his eyes again, and smiles. "I bet you don't even think that sounds like you."

Eyes forward,” Munin reminds Magnes, gently. She braces hands against her knees and shoves to her feet. “No questions, no existential crises of faith. You, Elaine, the baby. Your destination. That’s all.” Her toes connect with the toolbox’s lid, nudging it shut. “I’ve always believed that people are less their DNA, more the sum of their experiences. I’m not your Eileen, and she isn’t me.”

She’s at least willing to concede that there might be similarities because she doesn’t argue. A shallow basin provides her with enough cool, stale water to rinse the blood from her hands. “Your fiance is missing you,” she says, showing him her back. “Go and put your arms around her. Kiss her belly. She’ll like that.”

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