Ghosts Of Seasons Past


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Scene Title Ghosts of Seasons Past
Synopsis A chance encounter between two people with history gives Gillian a chance to get a petty version of revenge, and Amato can feel what others have felt in the past.
Date June 21, 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.

Behind the Garden's cottage, in the expanse of slightly more manicured 'back yard', Amato stands with his hands in his pockets. His shirt is slightly unbuttoned, the un-tucked tails of it blowing slightly in the same wind that mixes the smells of fresh rain and smoke.

He stands in the muddied grass, the shadows cast by the fires playing with the light and hazy air to create a brief illusion of sorts. It swirls around the pale man, then lifts into mirroring arches at his back, like a winged thing about to leap into the air. But the darker air is swept away in another moment by a contradicting breeze - a breeze that cuts across Amato's tightened face and forces him to shut his weary eyes.

The clothes Gillian's found to put on aren't anywhere near her normal style. The clothes she'd come in the middle of the night in had been soaked through with rain and doused in mud from running to get there. Instead the clothes she's wearing are simple blue jeans that only partially fit (too big for her), a belt to keep them on properly, and a light blue shirt. Blue is not her color. Doesn't go with her pitch black hair. The hair helps make her look like herself from all those months ago, but she's not wearing any of the make up— and the blue…

Footsteps squish in the mud, the running shoes happen to be the only thing that would be hears. There's a snap of a twig that had fallen down, revealing her as she moves out into the yard, to get some fresh air. Fresh— if you don't mind coughing as soon as you breathe in. "You'd think the fires would be out by now," she mutters to the other man nearby, not recognizing him yet as more than pale and partially obscured by the swirling illusion.

Amato stiffens at the snap, but he doesn't turn. No, there is far too much fear associated with the possibility of who those running feet belong to. It's much easier to simply not look - to let the mystery solve itself, as it soon does. And there is an obvious releasing of tension when Gillian speaks, revealing herself, and Amato slowly turns his head to look at her, the circles beneath his eyes darker than usual, his cheekbones slightly more pronounced.

"They will burn for some time, I think," he says absently. "There is much worthy of such…cleansing heat." If that is what it is.

The man turns, and that's when Gillian has a hope of recognizing him. Thinner than he'd been before, world waried, but there's some people that forever stand out in memory— even before picking up other people's abilities. A man who shook her hand in a park miles away in Queens. A park that has great significance to her in many different ways, and a handshake that may have set off… almost everything.

It wasn't just then, either— it'd been that morning with "Michael", also known as Ethan. "Fires don't just cleanse, they destroy— indiscrimant of what needs to be cleansed and what doesn't." There's a tightening of her jaw, even as she makes the argument. "I wasn't aware you were staying here… some girl's name I forget." It'd likely been an alias anyway.

Intrigued, Amato's eyebrows lift as he turns further, cutting the smoke that hangs in the air. "Really?" he asks, the amusement in his voice faint. "Unless you mean to say that the name I introduced myself with has been used by both sexes, I must assure you I am not female." He stiffens a bit, as if this were some sore point. "I…keep to myself. And the upper rooms of the cottage." Especially since the newest inhabitants have taken roost.

Remembering what happened the last time he touched this particular girl, Amato takes a hand from his pocket and extends it, taking a deep, relaxing breath. "My name is Amato," but he is quick to add, "which I assure you is masculine in nature."

"Certainly look male— and sound it too, so I'm not really doubting," Gillian says, even as she watches him suspiciously. The drizzle may have stopped, at least here, but it looks like some of the fires could use a little more rain, if they're still going in the distance, could use more. She'd only just got to the building, so not hearing shouldn't surprise her too much… even then, she frowns at the offered hand. "Last time I took your hand…"

Sister died, ended up being on the run, living with the man she still loves. "Ever wonder how things would have gone different if one simple moment hadn't happened? Taking your hand could be considered that moment… I repeat mistakes too often already, so excuse me if I avoid taking your hand again." Even then, her jaw tightens and she looks back up at his drawn face. "You one of the ones who decided the boss was crazy, Amato?"

Even so, Amato's hand hangs in the smoky air for a moment longer before he pockets it again. A frown settles on his face, but he nods as he turns away once more, his eyes on the fiery horizon. "Do you think I could live in that house if I were not among that number, Miss Childs?"

"You remember my name, how wonderful," Gillian says, a faint bit of hostility in her voice, even though she lets it settle down after a moment to take in a slow breath. He is right— they wouldn't just let him stay in their place unless he turned on the crazy bossman. "I guess that's a good thing for you," she conceeds, glancing back toward the building, trying to find a proper window, but not even sure which one it is, just the floor. Seems so many former Vanguards are around. Luckily she hasn't run into the one that she'd have to forcefully stop herself from punching face in on. When she looks back, there's a curious hint of something, "Do you know what they wanted with me? What the whole game was trying to accomplish? I know I didn't move the way you guys fucking wanted— and that… I had protection." In the form of Gabriel. "But did you know?"

What Gillian asks, or rather, demands to know is quite a lot. But Amato keeps his face turned away so that she cannot see the lines she draws with so many questions. "Though Kazimir Volken saw the Evolved as a plague, he sought useful individuals to aid his cause. I do believe you had been marked as one such possible individual, given your…" Is it a gift? "…ability. But I cannot say for certain. No man ever knew the true mind of that…monster."

It makes sense, really. Gillian listens to what he says, the hostility falling away the more he answers. Sounds truthful enough. Instead of moving away, she steps closer in the muddy ground, until she can better look at him. Close enough to have taken that hand, or reach out again. Her own hands aren't shoved into pockets at all. "I know I didn't play the way you guys wanted me to," she says with a soft sound, voice raspy, though it has nothing to do with the smoke in the air, really. It's how she talks.

"Is that why you turned on him? Cause you figured out what he'd really been up to?"

"Not exactly," Amato says, obviously distracted by his own thoughts, like some half-asleep fool who will tell the truth due to a mind preoccupied by a dream. "But in part, I suppose it could be phrased that way. I saw things I did not agree with - things with which I did not wish to be associated."

"What little I know of what he and his people did— I don't think I would've wanted to be associated either." A half-awake truth. "But I think it worked out— in a way. I ended up helping kill him." Holding Abby's hand while she healed him to death, even… Boosting her powers. Now, her ability is different. Before, Gillian could heighten people's abilities without even meaning to— that's why his mind got flooded with so much more than he usually would get. Now… her ability is very different, and she has no idea what will happen when she suddenly looks towards his partially rolled up sleeves in his pockets and reaches forward, touching his wrist.

It's a small village, humble in means and occupants, but beyond the modest homes is the splendor of Rome and Vatican City. There is a girl - wiry, dark haired, large-eyed, and sweet. But a boy as well. And there he is again, torturing small, defenseless animals. And then a group of others, all walking behind, all with stones grasped tightly in their grubby fingers.

There is a man in dark robes lined with red, looking sternly down. Then a barrage of horrible acts - acts no man of the cloth should even think of committing. A prayer, and then the sight of the village from afar, and fading further into the distance.

The halls of the Vatican are vast, ancient, and beautiful. The eyes of those who walk them are frightened, some reverent. Even those who attend the same classes are wary. Afraid.

But not the man with the piercing blue eyes and the wolf's-head cane. The man who confirms the belief that those hands - those hands are a gift, and that the one who bears them an angel. A tool meant for the most sacred of works.

Another girl. So like one so much earlier, but thin, terrified, and alone, save for a large black bird who sits perched on her demure shoulder.

So many faces. So many sins. A woman tied to a rusty wheelchair in a derelict hospital. The back of a man kneeling at a statue. Ethan Holden as he wrecks his savage brutality, unhindered and unhinged. Lucrezia Benatti in all her kind tenderness. Abigail Williams as a saving grace.//

The images of Amato's life flash before Gillian's eyes as if she were sitting behind his own, the filmstrip moving quickly, scratchy and faded in parts, cut in others. But when the man finally wrenches himself from her gentle touch, he too is gasping, blinking wide eyes as he stares at her with the same sort of fear so many in his youth cast at him.

What he sees through her eyes could be much the same as he'd seen before, when they shook hands so many months ago. A couple new things tagged onto the end, though. A bullet leaving a gun she held as she shot a woman who had just barely started to get up. Dark skin, dreadlocks. A uniform that showed she might be an offical of some kind. The walls could even look like that of a prison. A heated kiss while pressed against a car in the rain, with someone she had no right to be with. Lies told to someone she loved— Gabriel Gray, in fact.

As he pulls back, the connection breaks. Both for her as it does for him. Gillian stumbling backwards in the mud, putting distance between them, as her eyes blink in surprise. She's breathing heavy, even gasping. Perhaps add that to her list of sins. It'd been a cruelty on her part, though she imagines he's stolen the past from many others before her… "You thought you were doing the right thing— didn't you?" she finally asks, when she can look up at him again.

He mutters something in what sounds like Italian but isn't exactly, half bent over with his hands braced on his thighs. "Yes," he finally says in English, his own breath coming in gulps as if he'd just run some distance. "I did."

"I've thought that way about things too," Gillian admits quietly, even as she stares quietly at her hand. For a moment she looks as if she might wish to apologize, but then she sets her jaw instead. "I guess now you know what it felt like for me and everyone else." A little on the petty side, but… Her sister was killed by his people. And sometimes she can be a little petty. A shake of her head, and she turns around and starts back toward the house.

Still stunned, Amato stands, hunched over as he watches Gillian return to the house. It is odd that so much of his past can be bottled up in one small cottage. A family reunion of the oddest sort. He breathes deeply, but it is a ragged intake of smoky, rain-soaked air - the same air that swirls around his thin frame like a transparent blanket that chills rather than warms.

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