For the Best


amato_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif

Scene Title For the Best
Synopsis Pending log completion.
Date June 22, 2009

The Garden

Situated in a copse several miles away from the nearest stretch of asphalt, the Garden is accessible via an old dirt road that winds snakelike through the woods and dead-ends at the property's perimeter, which is surrounded by stone wall plastered with wicked coils of rusty barbed wire to keep would-be intruders from attempting to scale it. Those with a key can gain entry via the front gate.

The safehouse itself is a three-story brickwork cottage over a century old and covered in moss and ivy. It slants to one side, suggesting that the foundation has been steadily sinking into the wet earth; incidentally, this may be one of the reasons why its prior occupants never returned to the island to reclaim their property when government officials lifted evacuation orders and re-opened the Verrazano-Narrows shortly before its eventual destruction.

Inside, the cottage is decorated in mismatched antique furniture including a couch in the living room and an armchair nestled in the corner closest to the fireplace that go well with the safehouse's hardwood floors and the wood-burning stoves in some of the spare bedrooms. A heavy wooden table designed to seat eight separates the dining area from the rest of the kitchen, which is defined by its aged oak cabinetry and the dried wildflowers hanging above them.

New York doesn't need any help in being hot and humid, but the Staten Island fires continue the burn, darkening the already cloudy sky a bit more. In an effort to beat the heat, Amato sits outside on the lawn near the plants that hug the cottage's foundation. The sleeves of his button-up shirt are rolled to his elbows, and the first three buttons are undone to reveal a less-than-white ribbed tanktop beneath. His trousers might have been clean this morning, but they are far from Amato's usual standard now.

He holds a leather bound book in his hands, but by the size, shape, and condition of it, it doesn't appear to be a copy of the Good Book. Beside him in the wet grass sits a half-empty glass of lemonade, the ice nearly melted. But he seems as interested in the glass as he does the open book in his lap, his blue eyes staring at where the grass gives away to the trees at the end of the yard rather than the words on the page.

Outside is probably one of the worst places someone with asthma can be, but it's where Amato is — and Eileen needs to speak with him. The cottage's back door squeaks on its hinges, and a moment later the dark-haired young woman steps down into the grass. Crickets and grasshoppers spring away under her feet as she begins making her way around the side of the house, droplets of dew and perspiration clinging to her long, bare legs.

Like a cat tracking a field mouse through the tangled weeds, she moves silently and with swift purpose, approach heralded not by the sound of footsteps in the wet earth but the rustle of fabric — cotton on cotton, cotton against skin. The white sundress she wears, fitted with a low neckline and slim shoulder straps, is edged at the waist by a blue satin ribbon and looks like it's probably on loan from one of the many trunks in the safehouse attic.

Calling out would probably be polite if Eileen felt comfortable raising her voice. She doesn't. Instead, she waits until she's almost upon him before she says, tone soft, "I need to talk to you."

For all of Raith's praise, Amato is taken completely by surprise. Eileen's voice makes him jerk forward, hunching his shoulders as if struck. He lifts his head with wide, frightened eyes. She towers over him. She's never done that, but it is appropriate given how small the pale man with the bags beneath his eyes feels.

He gulps, a hand - his right hand - reaching to take the glass of lemonade. Amato drinks without taking his eyes off of Eileen. "You do?" he finally asks, squinting slightly at her. Surely she hasn't noticed his slinking about the house. Someone else, possibly Gillian, must have told her that he was here - that he's been here for months.

Eileen doesn't tower over him for long. She isn't Sylar, she isn't Ethan Holden — she drops down into a crouch beside him and rests her arms on her legs, hands clasped just above her knees with her bony fingers interlaced. His reaction wasn't the one she'd been anticipating, evidenced by the deep furrows of concern that appear on her forehead and accompany the downward tug at both corners of her curving mouth.

"Daiyu Feng is on Staten Island." Gray eyes search his face, seeking some form of recognition in its mask. "He's looking for Ethan. For you."

"F-Feng?" Amato's eyes grow wide again, and he blinks. "Eileen," he says with a bit of steel in his spine once more, if only for a moment. "That isn't…" But she isn't a child who would play such a cruel joke. Not at all.

He takes a deep, settling breath before he whispers, his eyes scanning the grass for some sign of insect life. It has to be there, be it worms from the rain yesterday or the run of the mill ant. Something. "How do you know?" he asks, sneaking a sidelong glance at Eileen as if she were an apparition rather than a flesh-and-blood being.

"Rico Velasquez is dead." Which isn't proof of anything on its own. The evasive way in which Amato refuses to meet her gaze does not entirely escape Eileen's notice; her dark brows lower into a more pensive expression, though she does not lean any further in than she already has. There was a time when they didn't treat one another like strangers, she remembers, but right now it seems so very far away.

"I spoke with him over the phone and he asked about Elias and Yvette. He shot Sylar. I don't think he knows where you are, or even that you're on Staten Island." There's a pause as Eileen slides a long look over her shoulder, perhaps to ensure there aren't any eavesdroppers lurking somewhere in the tall grass. Out here, the most she and Amato have to worry about are territorial tomcats and the small children who like to harass them with sticks. No sign of Bai-Chan. "Do you still keep in touch with Lucrezia?"

"But you are here," Amato says rather than answers, squinting at the grass where undoubtedly countless crawling things are, well, crawling. "You are here. With him. What makes you think Feng isn't far behind?" Though there is a whisper of a tone that was once something authoritative in Amato's voice, it is far from as strong as it used to be.

"She is safe." That's the extent to which he goes in regard to the Spider Queen, as if Eileen's search for ears was not extensive enough.

"Maybe not for much longer if she's still in New York. I haven't seen the hit list firsthand, but he doesn't sound like he's discriminating between those of us who turned against Kazimir and those who didn't." Eileen rises from her squat in the grass, movements smooth and fluid, and takes a step back as if sensing for the first time that Amato might appreciate more space. "Raith has guns. Equipment. With Velasquez gone, he's probably our best shot at putting Daiyu down for good."

The Italian's other concerns go unaddressed, at least for the moment. There's very little Eileen can say that might reassure him Feng isn't hiding out under a camouflage net some odd number of yards away, reading their lips through the scope of a high-powered rifle. Nothing is impossible. "Will you help us?"

"What do you expect me to do, Eileen?" Amato mumbles, letting his book close. "Raith knows where to find me if he needs me." But Lucrezia…he will have to warn her as best he can.

He turns his head slowly to look at Eileen a bit more fully, yet still…not quite all the way. "What will he gain from not having us around?" Vengeance? "It does not make sense."

"No," Eileen agrees, solemn, "not a lot does."

She allows herself a small smile, tight on her lips. That Amato seems to have struck a deal with Raith is perhaps not as surprising as it should be — she appears pleased for it, if mildly disconcerted at the same time. "How much longer do you plan on staying with the Ferry?"

"No longer than what is required." It's a stiff, stock answer. "I will move when it is possible. I am exploring certain…avenues." He glances back to Eileen's face again, studying that small smile, as brief as it may be. "It is not that I wish to be far," he adds in a softer, graver whisper, leaving the object of the preposition vague. "But it is…for the best."

Eileen would be lying if she said she understood, but she must get the general gist of what Amato is trying to say because it sends her into retreat. "We thought what Kazimir was doing was for the best, too," she reminds him, stepping over a thick black coil that resembles a snake but is really just a section of forgotten garden hose. "Say hello to Lucrezia for me."

The blow below the proverbial belt snaps Amato into action. He rockets to his feet and takes a step toward Eileen, knocking over the glass of lemonade in the process. "Eileen, you know better than to say such things," he fumes, albeit quietly. One thin-boned hand reaches out to snatch at her wrist, intent on holding it tight and the girl fast.

Amato's hand catches Eileen's wrist with an audible crack of skin coming into abrupt contact with still more skin. Her first instinct is to jerk away — unfortunately, by the time the neurons in her brain are firing, she may as well be trying to wrench her arm free of a steel trap. Gray eyes dart to his face, dark and accusing. "I'm not a child anymore, Amato," she hisses out through her teeth and a tightly clenched jaw, "don't treat me like one."

Blood oozes from the underlying tissue on Amato's wrist and drips down, trickling into the grass as though someone had just wrapped an invisible wire around the man's hand and begun to twist. White hot pain lances up his arm with an intensity he hasn't felt since Ethan separated his hand from the rest of his body.

The pain is more blinding than a flashbulb, and Eileen's words are muffled in it's wake. Amato howls with the agony of it before he's able to throw Eileen some small distance from himself at the same time he pulls away, bringing his bleeding wrist to his chest. He stares at Eileen in horror, as if she had somehow meant to do this thing.

Eileen staggers backwards, clutching her wrist where Amato's vice-like fingers closed around it. Her back and shoulders connect with the side of the cottage with an audible whumpf — not hard enough to knock the wind from her lungs or to drop her into the grass, but with enough force that it hurts, causing her to let out a muffled grunt of pain.

"Nobody told you." It isn't a question.

Amato can't have inflicted any pain on Eileen. No. It was the other way around. He continues to stare at her for a moment before looking down at his wrist. The pain has changed from a biting intensity to a throb, but the blood is still there. Without really thinking, Amato tears at his shirt, ripping the sleeve at the shoulder and yanking it from his arm in order to wrap it tenderly yet tightly around his wounded wrist. Where there was no scar due to Abigail's attention, there will surely be one now.

When he looks at Eileen again, Amato's face is considerably paler. "No," he confirms. "Nobody told me." But that isn't anything new, by the looks of things. He takes a deep breath and glances to his makeshift bandage again. "Are you alright?"


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