God and Forgiveness


eileen_icon.gif tavisha_icon.gif

Scene Title God and Forgiveness
Synopsis Tavisha revisits a place from his past.
Date March 9, 2009

Staten Island

A single strip of road paints a slick stripe of oily black through rural Staten Island, the sounds of life and city out of reach of even Tavisha's ears. The storm drain by Beacon Road is an inconspicuous interruption, easily ignorable, and yet, he knows it when sees it. Not out of the dregs of his memory, because he can guess that this is what the woman referred to.

Take Beacon Road south for a few miles. Don't stop until you cross the stone bridge and the houses start to thin out. There's an old drainpipe by some trees. You can find the answer there.

Branches free of leaves, bare bones of what they will be once spring is completely kicked into gear, curl like claws above him and drip with rainwater. It's more wet than cold, out here, a stark difference to the slushy, snowy landscape this had been the first time Sylar had come down this way, following the urges of birds. Now, Tavisha has no such guidance, coming to stand at the entrance of the drain pipe, metal grill drawing lines over the darkness and glinting slickly in what little light there is.

He lifts a hand, a vague wave, and the metal grate springs up from its resting place, flipping through the air to clatter loudly on the street. Wrapping his arms back around himself, Tavisha steps forward to the lip of the pipe, peers down into darkness. The sound of running water against rough cement is an innocuous soundtrack, and tells him nothing. He snorts, lightly, shakes his head at the resounding lack of answers he's come all this way for.


Did Tavisha really expect something more from a self-admitted liar?

Overhead, its arrival heralded by a thunderous ovation of clapping wings, a raven alights upon a nearby tree and sinks its talons into a hoary tangle of lichen and dead moss, using the branch’s dressings to secure a perch. He doesn't need the gift Eileen gave him to recognize the bird as the same individual that delivered Teo's message several days prior — the silver band on its right leg isn't just a testament to the past it shares with its mistress, it's an identifying mark as well.

Bright eyes stand out against the raven's inky black plumage and survey Tavisha from its lofty roost, and though its wickedly-pointed beak parts into a sardonic, unspoken greeting, no sound comes out. Instead, somewhere deep within the pipe beneath his feet, footsteps slosh through water and the soles of leather boots scuff against concrete, audible only to Tavisha's sensitive ears.

There's somebody down there.

The raven gets a lingering look of study, acknowledgement, although Tavisha doesn't think to extend any kind of greeting. Not before his attention is caught up by the sound beneath his feet. He stays still, deliberately, to listen, as if perhaps he might be able to tell who it is through the beat of their heart, the weight of their footsteps, the shallowness by which they breathe.

It's not hard to decipher. With the sound of his own gritty footsteps and the whisper of his coat against his legs, Tavisha moves to circle around the gaping mouth in the pavement, coming to stand on the other side as he peers down into the inky shelter, and smoothly, he descends into a crouch, a gargoyle figure against the backdrop of sky from where he perches, peering down.

When he speaks, his voice echoes richly down into the drainpipe. Familiar, in a way, with a note of severity and an echo distorting all the other differences that separates this man from who he was. "Did you follow me?"

"Ever the narcissist," comes the voice from inside the drainpipe. "I guess things haven't changed that much, after all." Eileen doesn't immediately show herself, however. Her shadow is only visible if Tavisha is looking for it, stark black lines with sharp edges illuminated by the glow of the torch she carries. A moment later, the light flicks off, plunging the pipe into complete darkness, not that he needs his eyes to pinpoint the woman's location — his ears do this for him, able to hone in on the gentle flutter of her heartbeat without much conscious effort. Its cadence is slow, relaxed, and while the slight hitch in her breath when he first spoke is a sure sign that his presence outside initially caught her off-guard, she doesn't sound like she's too perturbed to learn she isn't alone.

"You said you didn't think you would." Make no mistake: it's an accusation, spoken in the form of a thin, lilting hiss that's probably better suited to the bird in the tree than it is the woman underground.

"I lied," Tavisha says, simply. Which is, in itself, a lie - he had meant it. He didn't think he would follow her directions at all. But of course, inevitably, he did - he has, and it was an impulsive decision that lead him… here. Being called a narcissist. His head tips to the side, as if attempting to loosen and relax the muscles in his neck, for what good it does.

The last time he had come here, he'd plunged smoothly down onto the darkness, managing not to slip on treacherous ice. This time, he proceeds with more caution, feet finding the metal rungs of a ladder that leads down, descending down those few feet with easy, slow movements, until he comes to stand. Artificial light and moonlight alike cut a flimsy spotlight down into the pipe, resting on his shoulders and head as he turns towards her, expression hidden thanks to the way the shadows slant across them.

"So if you didn't follow me, what are you doing down here?" Head tilts a little, adds, "Hiding?"

Tavisha's barb is rewarded with an airy chuckle from Eileen. Not entirely without mirth, it strikes a delicate balance between guardedness and good humour. "No," she says, "not this time."

The view from inside the pipe isn't much better than it is from the concrete precipice from which Tavisha descended — the dark gray material of her coat allows her to blend in with her murky surroundings, and if it weren't for the pale cast of her skin or the luminescence contained in her gray-green eyes, slit like a cat's, he might not be able to see her at all.

Tracking Eileen's movement is easier. She approaches, torch in one gloved hand, the other trailing her fingertips along the inside of the pipe, leather dragging up and over grooves of metal aged prematurely by rust. "I've been doing some thinking, actually. About what it is that makes a person who they are. Or aren't."

He stands his ground, as the light above really only offers Eileen the view of his silhouette and not much else. Dressed very much the way Sylar would be expected to dress, the black of his clothing lends itself to such an affect, arms wrapped about himself against the cold and icy drainpipe water trickling around thick boots, seeping in through the seems enough so that Tavisha shifts them out of the way, soles scraping against concrete.

"Arrive at any interesting conclusions? I'm not having a lot of luck on the subject."

"I think it depends on whether or not you believe in God." With a sharp click, the light flicks on again, utterly blinding Tavisha to the woman wielding it as she sweeps the torch's beam all the way up the length of his body and shines it in his eyes. "Have you figured that part out yet, Tavisha? Have you decided what happens to people when they die?"

Eileen doesn't come any closer, at least not yet, but this has nothing to do with her waiting for his answer. Even though he can't see it, she's studying the familiar contours of his face, searching for something in the lines that compose the curve of his jaw, the arrogant thrust of his nose and heavyset brows. "The way I see it, you either have a soul, or you don't. And if you don't, what are you but the culmination of the choices you've made? Your memories?"

His face tightens with a flinch as the light beams brightly into his eyes, a hand coming up to block it and letting shadow of his fingers web across the face she attempts to search. Slowly, eyes adjust, and Tavisha tries to see past the beam, but even the glint of her eyes is lost to him. Her words, however, are as relentless as the torch, and his lip curls, that extended hand waving.

The object flies out of Eileen's grip, smashing against concrete and pieces falling into the ice-cold shallow stream underfoot. "I get it," he says, voice down to a sharp growl as they're flooded with darkness once more. "I'm soulless, and nothing without my memories. Slave to uncertainty, a pale imitation of what I once was." He's quoting her. Well not her, but the similarly pale imitation of what she is, drifting like a ghost in his head. "Or maybe that's just what you want to believe."

"I want to believe that the man I knew still exists, that he can't remember who he used to because those memories are suppressed and not forgotten." Pieces of broken glass crunch under Eileen's boots as she takes one step forward and then another, kicking aside the torch's plastic casing in an uncharacteristic display of violence that matches his in abruptness and intensity. "If he isn't? Then everything I did, every risk I took just to get him back that night on the bridge was for nothing. All that doubt, all that uncertainty—"

Eileen's voice takes on an almost pleading edge, hoarse and guttural though it may be. "I have to know. I have to know if what I want for you is right, or if what I want doesn't matter because you aren't the man whose face you're wearing."

"I wish I could tell you," comes the bitter reply, pacing just enough that he escapes the spotlight of illumination from the mouth of the drainpipe, then back under it again, very much a caged predator. "I've always wanted them back. I don't know what I'm not so much that you can't stand it, but I'm trying."

As if aware of the excuses, the justifications he's making, Tavisha stops, rounds back towards her with a scrape of shoes against slippery concrete, and if the shadows permit, his expression can be seen as accusatory anger. His voice comes harsher, louder, bouncing off the cylindrical cavern they're enclosed in. "But what the hell gives you the right to decide what's right for me? When you want nothing to do with me?"

If the sky wasn't blanketed by a sea of stars or her torch still in one piece, Eileen might not try to take advantage of the fact that she and Tavisha come close to being evenly matched in such tight quarters. Confidence bolstered by the darkness in which they'll both fumble and grope, she strikes out, seizes the front of his coat and uses her momentum to swing him into the wall, pinning him there with the pressure exerted by her body. She isn't very strong, but she's hoping the swiftness of the attack will undercut the gargantuan difference in size and musculature between them.

"Don't you dare," she snarls lowly, words ground out through clenched teeth, "don't you fucking dare presume what I do or do not want, because you don't even have the faintest idea."

Shock, too, is on her side, because for all of Tavisha's superhuman hearing and experience in a fight ring, it doesn't quite prepare him, feet slipping against wet floor as she shoves him into a wall, fists clenching in his coat and keeping him there. A soft grunt is drowned out by her hissed words, blinking rapidly at her face half masked in moonlight and half shadowed. There's a pause, electrical, the sound of their own breathing filling up the space before quietly, he says, "You're right. You're absolutely right. I have no idea."

His hands grip her arms, finding them easily in the darkness, clenching tight. "You never told me. Only pushed me away and into the arms of a woman whose life I ruined. Who I used." His hold tenses, and relaxes, a moment of frustration that dissolves too quickly to shove her, unable to cross that line despite it being one he had crossed at least once before, unknown to him. "What do you want?"

The vice-like grasp of Tavisha's hands on her arms anchors Eileen in place and prevents another vicious outburst like the one that sent the torch's remains scattering, or worse, the act that put him in his present position. Her hold on the front of his coat does not loosen — if anything, it grows tighter, leather gloves creaking under the strain of the fingers they encase.

It takes her a few moments of reveling in the sound of his breathing for her to get an effective handle on her own. When she speaks again, her voice has dropped to an unsteady whisper that rises and falls in pitch, clumsily straining to form words whose arbitrary meanings fail to convey the emotional tumult broiling beneath them. "Him. Just him."

There's a pause before a quiet thunk indicates his head tipping back, connecting with the damp, curving wall behind him. Eileen will feel it, at this proximity, if not hear the quiet, mirthless chuckle that gravels out from the back of his throat. Tavisha's grip on her arms is as unrelenting as hers is on his coat. "And I never stood a chance, did I?" he offers, quietly. At friendship. At more. Pushed towards Gillian by the girl here in the drainpipe, pushed over a point of no return, too much given to Gillian to take it away even if he wanted to, and he doesn't, but it doesn't make this any easier.

"We can't always have what we want, can we." It isn't a question. One of Eileen's hands falls away from Tavisha and slips inside her coat. "It's easier for me, believing that this is all some sort of karmic retribution for the wrongs we committed against other people, that we're meant to anguish. I can't even begin to fathom a world where suffering is needless, or how I might live in it."

When her hand comes back out again, she's cradling a small object in her hand, fashioned from burnished metal on a long silver chain. "Someone gave this to me once," she says, pressing the pocket watch against Tavisha's chest. "At the time, I didn't understand what it meant, and I still don't, but I think you should have it. It's— helped me. Maybe it will help you too."

His grip loosens from her arms as he, too, withdraws, although he doesn't move from where she'd shoved him into the wall. A hand travels up to touch the object pushed against him, catching the chain before it can slip and break, and he clenches it in his fist, not really looking at it as he studies her in darkness his eyes are adjusted to. "I'm not sure you're allowed to believe in God and karma," Tavisha says, a little wryly. "That's… cheating."

Now he looks down, cradling the pocket watch in his hand, thumb brushing over the metal casing. "You either believe in forgiveness, or you don't," he adds, opening the lid and studying the clock face. "And if I never remember anything again, I have to believe there's more for me than paying for sins I can't begin to fathom."

The watch is disappeared into a pocket, accepting the gift without a word of thanks, the word sounding too mundane and needless for him to lend it his voice, so he doesn't. And he's been thanking so many people, lately.

Eileen's eyes lid halfway shut, lashes drooping, and she lowers her gaze from Tavisha's face to his chest and her hands. Silent, somber, she appears to be reflecting on his reply as she measures her breathing, counting it out in a feeble effort to maintain her composure. It works, if only barely, and after a moment she allows herself to take a step back, reestablishing a comfortable distance between them. No tears, but she wipes at her face with the heel of her hand just the same. "Go home," she says. "You never should have come out here. It's a bad place for both of us."

A soft huff of breath, incredulous. Finally, he takes his weight off the wall, stepping forward, letting the light coming in from above illuminate a sliver of his face as he looks at her. "I can't do anything right by you, can I?" There's defeat in his voice, verging on disgust though it never quite makes it to that point. He moves past her, hands seeking out the cold metal rungs of the ladder leading up, though he doesn't start to climb just yet. "It would have been nice to know you," he says - the words fall awkwardly, forced tones making it seem almost like a question, an attempt to convey something that he can't quite articulate, but there it is. With a hitch in his breath that goes along with the rolling of his eyes at himself she can't see from her angle, Tavisha starts to climb back up.

You already do. The voice belongs to Eileen, but it's of the disembodied variety belonging to her likeness in his head, so inconspicuous and unobtrusive until now. Still, it doesn't press its point and, as if taking a cue from the woman it's supposed to represent, lets him go without another word of protest.

As Tavisha climbs, Eileen retreats deeper into the pipe despite the fact she no longer has a torch to light the way. There are other routes she can take — ones that don't involve following somebody who could probably use the space and will appreciate the alone time it affords.

March 9th: Highly Trained Agents
March 9th: Bowling for Muldoon
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