Further Impossibilities


avi_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif

Scene Title Further Impossibilities
Synopsis When Eileen Ruskin becomes fed up with agent Epstein's brand of forceful enlistment into his anti-Danko crusade, she pushes one too many buttons and finds herself on the receiving end of a very traumatic experience.
Date February 24, 2010

Fort Greene

Sitting high in Brooklyn's skyline, on the fifth floor of the red brick tenement building, apartment 505 of Fore Greene used to overlook an authentic French bakery across the street where residents of the apartment building could faintly smell the scent of fresh baked goods in the morning hours. On overcast days like today, this particular street looks more like a ghost town than the quainte neighborhood that it was decades ago. A pair of homeless vagrants sit on the stoop of the apartment building, sharing the contents of a greasy bag of french fries from a local fast food restaurant's dumpster. Snow clings thickly to the street and the sidewalk, another two inches is supposed to fall today, and the light breeze that blows down the street makes the flakes dance and seem to swim on the wind.

More flurries.

Agent Avi Epstein was probably smart to check the forecast before coming out here today. Most people would rather stay indoors than brave the chill of this late February afternoon, leaving the street empty save for the occasional car rolling past int he slush that has collected on the salted road and the pair of homeless men seated on the stoop. In this distance, darker and heavier clouds indicate the presence of more snow on the way; a storm is coming.

"Hey, buddy— hey— " One of the vagrants, dressed in his puffy winter jacket, reaches out to grab at agent Epstein's pant leg, gloved fingers tugging at faded denim. A sharp look is afforded down to the man, then hs younger company, then back again behind the lenses of dark sunglasses.

"Get a job," Aviators hisses out, kicking his foot to the side and knocking the homeless man's hand away before trudging up the steps and to the front door of the apartment building, swinging the door aside. Spluttering a curse, the homeless man raises a fist and growls out a frustrated sound, watching the door to the apartment building slam shut.

Five stories above, perched on the concrete lip of 505's bedroom window, a rumpled black bird with feathers dusted in hoary winter frost shakes off the snow that's accumulated on his back and in his wings since he landed there several hours ago. Like a grotesque gargoyle statuary with polished obsidian for eyes and a band of silver glittering around his leg, Bran has been keeping watch since mid-morning, his almost ophidian gaze focused on the street below.

You don't break someone's nose and go on pretending as though nothing happened without taking a few precautions. A visit from Eileen's parole officer was inevitable; even if it wasn't included in his job description, she imagines that he has — at the very least — a few words he wants to say to her about what happened at the gala.

The low croak coming from the other side of the glass is her cue to crack out her utility knife and wedge the blade in the gap between the loosest two floorboards under her bed. Her fingers slip under the edge and hook lacquered nails into the wood, prying open the cache she keeps under the planks.

Four floors below, Aviators is making his steady ascent up the steps of the tenement building, one hand reaching inside the front of his jacket as he moves, withdrawing a handgun from his underarm holster, his other hand retrieving a badge folio from inside his jacket pocket. Each thundering slam of footfalls up the stairs comes with a heavy breath, eyes cast up towards the fifth floor high above — why the fuck does she have to live so many floors up?

By the time he's rounded the third floor, he's stopped to catch his breath, scowling visibly at the stairs and listening to the groaning cries of a teething baby behind the door of apartment 301. Shaking his head, he bursts back into movement, heading up the stairs two more floors, and then storming down the hall towards the door of apartment 505. Eileen can hear the clomping footfalls, the creak of floorboards and the huff of heavy breathing coming to the door.

Backing up from the door of Eileen's apartment to the one across the hall, Aviators for just a moment seems to be considering kicking down the door and just storming in. His brows tense, tongue rolls across the inside of his cheek and shoulders rise in a deep breath. He looks down at the gun in his hands, then back to the door, then draws out a strained sigh.

Inside the apartment, Eileen can hear his footsteps having stopped somewhere in the hall. For several minutes there's no sound of his approach, and then after that protracted silence, just a courteous knock on her door and the grumbling sound of his voice, "Avon calling."

By the time Epstein is knocking on the door, the floorboards under the bed have already been clicked back into place and the gap between them eliminated by a hard pound of Eileen's fist. She flips the knife once between her fingers and with a flick of her wrist snaps the blade shut, its silver handle shoved down the back of her jeans for easy access.

With both hands freed, she pops a clip into the magazine well of Raith's pistol and deftly pulls the slide back, cycling the action with two audible clicks. The first strips a round from the magazine. The second closes the chamber and informs Eileen that the weapon is locked and loaded.

She's hoping that she won't have to use it.

Adopting a position with her back pressed against the bedroom wall behind the open French doors that separate it from the rest of her living space, she turns her head to watch the entryway's reflection in the apartment's plate glass windows.

He's never encountered any difficulty getting into her home before. It's time she saw how he does it.

For a while, there's just the scuff of footsteps in front of the door, the shadow of his feet moving back and forth in front of the entrance, four more banging knocks and then another long moment of silence. Avi's feet move away from the door, and Eileen can hear him moving some distance away from the entrance, then back down the hall and past her door again, followed by a brief flicker of the interior lights of the apartment going in and out, and sounds of movement in her kitchen out of direct line of sight. Her refrigerator clunks open, glass clinking around, followed by a huff of a sigh and a slap of the door coming shut.

"Going to have to start buying her beer to keep in there…" His grumbling voice offers in frustrated tone. Eileen can hear the creak of floorboards as he moves, passing through the dining room and past the table, directly in her field of view. He pauses, like he heard or felt something, then tilts his head up with a narrowing of his eyes behind the lenses of his sunglasses. Lips creep up into a smile, and he brings a hand down to trace fingertips over the surface of the table.

"I even knocked." He says aloud to the dining room, one black brow raised, "that's very rude of you." There's no way he could have seen her.

The pair of shoes at the front door and the pea coat hung up on an adjacent hook are evidence that Epstein isn't alone in Eileen's apartment. The vase of lilacs on her dining table, too, has been set aside on the kitchen counter to make room for the map of New York City spread across it. Scrawled notes in the map's margins and across the pale stretch of blue water representing the Hudson belong to the Briton's distinctive handwriting, though the words themselves are difficult to read without prior familiarity.

Eileen's feet are bare and make no sound as she shifts her weight, steps sideways and emerges into view, her body framed by the wide doorway that acts as a threshold between her bedroom and the den. The pistol she'd been holding only a few moments ago is no longer visible from where Epstein is standing, but if someone was positioned behind her they'd be able to identify the weapon's shape nestled against the small of her back beneath the gray cashmere cardigan she wears over her top. What she does have is her folded knife, its handle clenched between white-knuckled fingers, blade hidden behind her hand in a closed position.

What Avi Epstein doesn't have is so much as a bruise on his face.

"You really shouldn't play with knives," he admits with an incline of his head towards that white-knuckled grip, "it never ends well for you." There's a crook of one brow up slowly, and Aviators moves away from the kitchen table, paying no attention to the map laid out there at all. His shoes make noisy progression around the table, letting his fingertips dance across the back of a chair. "So is this how it's oging to be, I do you a favor by letting you on a very generous leash, and then when I ask for repayment you headbutt me and leave me in a hallway?" One brow rises slowly, and Eileen can see her reflection muted in the lenses of his sunglasses.

"Women, right?" The rhetoric comes with a click of his tongue, reclining back against the corner of the table, arms folding across his chest, one leg crossing the other as he casually stands there assessing her. "So Eileen," Aviators' head quirks to the side, "Why don't you tell me how you're planning to apologize for that and get back on my good side?"

Unlike Epstein, Eileen does have a bruise. Ugly and mottled purple, it sits on the crown of her forehead at the edge of her hairline, though it isn't as visible now as it would be if she wore her curls up like she had at the gala. Dark strands illuminated by the gold-tinted sunlight streaming in through apartment's windows where the flimsy gauze curtains do not block it, her hair obscures one side of her face while giving the other the appearance of an ashen, waning moon.

A crooked thumb slides along the edge of the knife's handle and makes the muscles and thin, ropy tendons in her wrist stand out. "I'm not," she says. Planning to apologize. "You want Danko's ass in a sling, that's fine. You'll get it, but I don't want you in my apartment. I don't want you anywhere near me. It happens on my terms."

"You seem to think I'm not someone who has a control problem, and I think that's where this little…" Aviators moves his hands back and forth in front of himself, "shell game of ours is getting mixed up. I'm the one moving the cups around and you're the one looking for the little metal ball, right?" Leaning off of the table, Aviators tucks his hands into the pockets of his old leather jacket and begins clearing the distance between himself and Eileen.

The closer he gets, the more he's looking down the bridge of his nose at the shorter woman. "I say jump and you say off which roof. Because I'm the thing standing between you and a very long prison sentence. Or would you rather I make a recommendation up to my superiors that you fine kool-aid drinking ex-Vanguard people shouldn't be set free into the wild and be rounded up like lost cattle?"

One black brow rises slowly, and Aviators offers a thin smile. "I'm doing you a favor," he states flatly, "and you're either going to play by my rules, or I'm going to make your life increasingly more miserable. Maybe I find out what happened to Mu-Quian Zhang or her little boy?" His brow lifts slowly. "Maybe I start looking into your little chop-shop doctor friend and his new business?" Aviators reaches up, just so he can lower his glasses down the bridge of his nose and level a stare over the frames at Eileen. "Maybe something happens to your little Ferry friends? That'd be a real shame."

Eileen's eyes track Epstein's progress across the apartment, and as he draws closer she maneuvers her body around his, maintain that distance even as he's trying to close it. She orbits the chaise lounge and coffee table in the den, no distinction made between her footsteps on the hardwood or her footsteps on the throw rug that helps define the space and differentiate between living and dining rooms.

The cast iron radiator painted white on the wall continues to tick steadily away as it works to warm the apartment, and so does the pocket watch on her nightstand, cover flipped open to display its glass face and the second hand making circuitous progress around the clock.

She puts the chaise between herself and Epstein and rests her hand on its back when she comes to stand behind it. Normally, she'd be confident in its ability to act as a barrier between them, but the flickering lights and banging fridge have made it abundantly clear to her that she is in a position to anticipate nothing.

"I don't work for you."

That makes him smile, a big toothy bright-eyed smile. "Surprise!" He exclaims a bit breathily, as if it were a secret surprise. "You do now." Using his thumb to nudge the frames of his glasses up the bridge of his nose, Aviators furrows his brows and turns his head to follow Eileen's motions, then languidly allows his body to do so after the fact. He follows her footsteps the way a bloodhound would, slow and inspecting of her progress.

"I need you to do two things for me…" Withdrawing the other hand from his jacket, Aviators lays down a slip of paper on the table atop Eileen's map. "That's the address and phone number for Howard Lemay, he's a public affairs director from the Department of Homeland security, has ties and connections with Matt Parkman, the operations coordination director from DHS. I need you to follow Lemay around, find out his patterns and let me know who he meets with, where and when. I want a list and names."

Dark eyes lift back up, regarding Eileen through the lenses of his sunglasses. "Secondly, I want you to arrange for a meeting with Danko. Doesn't matter how you do it, or where it is, I just need you to pull him out from behind the curtain and in a discrete location. Use whatever bait you need to in order to draw him out, but it can't be somewhere public."

Moving his hand away from the slip of paper he offered, Aviators tucks his hand back into the pocket of his jacket and continues to advance on Eileen, seeing just how much she'll do to avoid his proximity. "If you don't have at least something to report by next week…" he intones gravely, "then I feed one of your little friends' safe houses to the government. You go another week, and things get progressively more drastic. Do I make myself clear?"

There's a creeping up of his lips, too-white teeth bared in a feral smile. "You don't work for me… you're right. I own you."

As Epstein's lips are skulking around a toothy grin, the hand not resting on the back of the chaise and clutching a knife is drifting behind Eileen's back. In the few minutes that he's been aggressing her, he's gone from a threat the size of the bruise on her forehead to a crippling ache that consumes her whole body.

He can get away with threatening prison time, and he can even make allusions to people she loves, but when he starts talking about betraying Ferry secrets to the American government, he steps over a line drawn in blood. Her fingers curl around the grip of the pistol tucked down the back of her pants.

Whether he's bluffing or not is irrelevant. Letting Epstein live is no longer a viable option. His only warning is the near-inaudible sound of the pistol's safety being flicked off before she's swinging her arm around and squeezing off two shots in quick succession at his center of mass.

The blunt impact of bullets slapping into thick flesh almost rings as loudly as their release from the gun, Avi Epstein staggering back with a blown out gasp of air from his lungs as gunshots drive it from them. Undignified, the glasses for which he is known slide down his nose and hook askew at the end of it as he doubles over, arms clenching over his midsection and eyes wild where she can see them now, white rimming the irises as he brings up a hand, a thrown action of pure instinct even as red blooms on the flannel beneath leather.

There's a pause, the air seeming to shift before his hand, before he sharply redirects it just before a shotgun BOOM echoes through the kitchen, loud enough to drive pigeons from their roosts outside and to rattle the cutlery on their shelves. The blast of rippling air tags the corner of the table, and Eileen will feel it whip past a death inch from her temple before it crashes and splinters against the adjacent wall. Girl and gun both are clipped as that cone of force catches her in the same moment.

Avi pants out a breath, hand still outstretched, eyes wide, totally frozen in place as if he can't believe he just did that. Or can't believe anyone saw him just do that. His mouth tightens, forms a sneer.

There's no encyclopedia of Evolved abilities that Eileen can flip open, thumb through and consult. Even gifts that fall under the same umbrella are so different and multi-faceted that it's difficult for the men and women working at the registrar's office to assign them accurate names and descriptions. This is one of the first things she learned when she joined the Vanguard — you never really know what you're dealing with.

She hits the floor with enough force to expel all the air from her lungs and goes skidding across wood, gun wrested from her grasp by the power of physics and sent spinning under the chaise where it collects hair and dust before sliding out the other side, well out of her reach. Her knife exists as a sliver of silver light elsewhere in the room, but Eileen is too stunned by what just happened and the strength of the impact to be thinking about it.

Splinters of broken wood and fine shards of sparkling glass coat her hair, skin and the fibers of her clothes, tinkling cheerlessly as she makes a low sound and uses her arm to lever herself into a half-upright position with one leg folded beneath her and the other bent at her side. Her opposite arm folds protectively across her middle, hand grasping hard at her side, fingernails hooked in her cardigan.

Green eyes fixate on Epstein's figure, their gaze incisive and accusing. "Hhh—"

A hand up, shaky, blood-smeared, Aviators fixes his aviators, a fingerprint of crimson marring the bleak, reflective surface. His back straightens, and slowly, pain is slowly ignored, even as blood weeps from bullet holes, the charred circles of which can be seen in the fabric of his shirt. He bleeds, but there is a casualness as he studies his palm coated in such a thick red that it may as well be paint. And he can feel it, the swing of a green-eyed gaze cast up towards him, and she can only guess that she'd being studied right back behind reflective glass.

His skin begins to run with liquid, or so it would seem, a slow, waxy melting of features and detail. His hair, even his clothing, mixing like ink in water though it gathers into no puddle on the kitchen floor — all the same, the appearance of Avi "Aviators" Epstein runs like ice in sun.

Or a snowball in hell. The glasses remain, however, even as the appearance greases away to show someone familiar beneath, all regal nose, thick eyebrows, brown leather running from the plain black wool of the coat he wears, the grey sweater beneath. Sylar hooks a finger around the edge of his aviators, pulling them down and off, folding them. These, these are flung towards where Eileen works on getting up off the floor — they clatter mundanely, but the glass doesn't break. "Fun game," he says, voice a familiar baritone rasp and gravel.

Then he's walking away, boots cracking through broken glass and splintered wood against the tile. He leaves behind drops of blood, cast off his fingertips with a flick of his digits.

The complexity of the emotions Eileen is experiencing is for once reflected on her face, contorted by grief, rage, anguish. The only elation she allows herself manifests as a sudden intake of breath to combat the nausea. Gabriel's alive. He's also showing her his back.

Confusion makes her hesitate, fumble. When she first starts to get up, her arm goes out from under her and she catches herself with the other before she can crumple again, shedding glass and splinters.

Deep, choking breaths fill the apartment, made harsh and ragged by the struggle to replace lost oxygen and force the misshapen expression off her face. Later, she'll draw a parallel between the number of bullets she put in him and how many Danko fired from his gun at Amundsen-Scott, but right now all that matters is getting up.

And she does.

"Gabriel?" Her voice is a haggard gasp, hitching and fraught with confusion. She's not processing this at all.

The difference between Antarctica and now is that in Antarctica, Gabriel had fallen and gone cold and hadn't moved. Here, he's walking away, albeit damaged, albeit bleeding, and when she gasps out, he does stop. It's a jolt of a pause, as if she'd flung hooks, sunk them into his skin and held him right there, except that as he turns, he does so freely, eyes not quite meeting her gaze. When he does, there's nothing to be read, there, in black circles — it would be almost as fruitful as staring down a snake, trying to read its thoughts.

If it has them, they're cold-blooded, reptillian, slow moving. When he speaks, it's even with a hiss; "My name is Sylar."

And he's gone, with only blood spattered from the damage rendered by tearing bullets and errant droplets, foot prints in the mess he's made, and a broken table to say that he was ever here, and of course, his own voice ringing through Eileen's head.


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