Guilt In Common


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Scene Title Guilt In Common
Synopsis Two people meet. One's seeking solace in grief, the other's trying to leave a message for someone. Both have guilt and talk about someone who has as much, if not more, reason feel guilty.
Date December 15, 2008

Ruins of Midtown, Deveaux Building Rooftop

210 Central Park West, Manhattan, Nuked York City. It's an address she heard spoken by Rock to Sergei on the fourth day of September, 2008. She'd gone there at the time she heard spoken that day and observed the building from across the street, seeing several people on the roof, and afterward Rock had come to her. It's a place familiar to her, being here is a return to the roots of her time in the more proactive circles of resisting the Gestapo Act. Her feet tread now across the roof of that building, past the still-present pigeon coops, and toward the ledge. There she sits and places her back against the wall. Quiet words are sung under her breath. "Feels like someone took a knife, baby, edgy and dull, and cut a six inchv valley through the middle of my soul."

The rooftop may not have pleasant memories for the other person who happened to be up there. Gillian had been sitting near the ledge, looking over into the wasted city, eyes narrowed in frustration as she clasps her hands around a carefully folded and wax sealed letter. Fairly formal, considering the situation. The sound of close movement caught her ear just in time to move, jumping behind the pigeon coop and trying to find a way to hide. Could be anyone, and she doesn't even have the gun that put bullet holes in one of the cherubs anymore. It isn't until she recognizes the woman singing, that she even considers moving from where she's crouched. Even then, it takes a moment before she finally stands up, still holding the letter. "You haven't been bowling for a while."

"Leanne," Cat replies on realizing she isn't alone here. "I've been busy." Her eyes come to rest on the woman calmly and study her. She herself is different than when she was last seen. There's no guitar case or backpack on her person, her clothing is a blue sweatshirt over jeans and athletic shoes. There's a mark near her temple which looks a few days old as well. And the eyes, they say more still. Confidence remains, but it mixes with loss and held in anger. Guilt. Cat, or Arwen as she's been dubbed, could easily be described as grieving.

"Looks like it," Gillian says softly, looking down at the letter. Most of her bruising and cuts from the weeks past have faded by this point, and she's still got her tribal marked carrier bag hanging across her chest and at her side. The letter is dropped in there, for the moment. "Looks like it's been a tough week— or a couple of years. Your name— is Cat, right?" she asks, still looking at the woman. The broken landscape behind her only adds to the image of possible hard times.

"That's me," she confirms quietly. "You've got evidence of being through a wringer and surviving, Leanne," Cat adds. "Mostly healed, but they were there at one time." Her mind is at work as it ever is, the conversation allowing her to focus on something other than the grief and the memories she's been replaying to herself. It brings a shift to her demeanor, a slight one, though.

Most of her damage might also be emotional. Gillian's got her own guilt to burden her, though it's not the same— never could be. "My name's Gillian," she adds on, looking away from the woman now, to what's visible beyond her. "Only fair, since I got your name." It takes a few moments, quiet breaths, before she looks back, almost as if she's bracing herself for her question. And possibly the answer to that question. "Have you seen… Peter?" The temptation to call him Assface remains, the tension audible in her voice as she bites it back.

"I know," Cat replies with a quiet grin that flashes through her melancholy for just a few seconds. "Gillian Childs. I read the papers. I thought I'd play along with Leanne until you chose to come clean." And the question asked of her makes an eyebrow lift. She knows which Peter is being inquired of. "I haven't," she supplies. "Most times lately he finds me, and those occasions have been fairly few."

"Guess I did make the newspaper when Jenny died," Gillian says softly, eyes darting down to the rooftop floor, while she starts to rub at her wrist under the cuff of her long sleeve coat. Almost as if she's rubbing an object instead of her wrist, though, but it's not visible. When she looks back, she's got a stubborn, if disappointed set to her jaw. "So you don't know what happened." Of course she doesn't. It shouldn't surprise her. She looks rather angry for a moment, as if that emotion's trying to cover something up. "He mentioned you were friends— one of them did. The one in the suit. The Agent. The one I saw with you. I don't know if you were friends with the other one, but I guess they were technically the same person." Were.

"Grief sucks," Cat replies simply, her voice hushed. Those eyes show the truth of it, she speaks from a recent experience. "I'd heard there were two of him. Met one of the halves. It's guilt, and anger, that makes him go for the most part. Some people have issues. That one… he is Issues. Capitalize the I. At the time he and I met he was idealistic, had his demons in check. But they broke loose. Became fruitful and multiplied." Her head tilts. "What happened?"

"Issues… that's a good way to put it," Gillian says, a humorless laugh sounding a moment later. There's nothing funny about the topic. Never was. "I met both of them. More than once. One's an ass. The other— was a stupid ass." But there's more to it than that. She shakes her head a moment, looking back at the woman. "One of them died," she says plainly. "I don't know what happened when he died, if the other one got his memories and all that shit, but he looked like he wasn't going to be getting back up. Not that I stuck around too much longer to find out. Homeland Security shot him through the head."

Her attention sharpens as the tale is told. Mental math happens too. "That would explain why he hasn't been seen. HS shooting one of him, and the other not being around, suggests he's in prison somewhere. Which one of the two was cut down?"

The mental math draws the right conclusions, if Gillian's nod means anything. "The Agent— the original one," she says in a light voice, almost as if she's genuinely sorry that it happened. "He saved my life, you know. That one. Jumped in front of this— I don't even know what it was. Yelling attack. By one of those fucked up Evolved. Actually the day that he split in two." She shakes her head. "I hoped the other one would be strong enough to escape. That's why I'm up here. Was trying to leave him a note— find out what happened to him. Something."

"I can ask some questions," Cat replies after taking it all in. "He's got a wide range of talents. Once he painted something which almost came true. There was an alleyway and two guys in it, a woman approaching the alley… me. He intervened, gave me escort. The guys, one of them tried to feel me up while I was on break where I play, I had security boot him, and I guess he and a friend were going to explain their opinion on that." She can't say it, won't say it, not knowing how clued in Gillian is to the secret in play here, but she imagines if Peter were locked up he might choose to stay there.

"Painting the future," Gillian repeats softly, shaking her head a little. Doesn't sound like that surprises her at all. "I'm glad he helped you. I'm not sure if he was a good man, an idiot, or just… they'd decided to get back together. Stopped trying to kill each other. I don't know how it was going to work, if they were going to hug and just suddenly pop back into place like nothing happened. But they'd decided to stop fighting. Then Homeland Security showed up and shot them. For all I know they finished the other one, too, but it looked like they were arresting him when I turned and ran away finally. Didn't paint that future."

She's solemn now, while listening, the grief and sense of loss returning to her features. Those memories resurface, from her own mentioning of Peter painting the future. It's all there in front of her, seen in the mind's eye with such clarity. The scenario Peter had etched onto her wall and carpet at the apartment, and… there's Dani. The artwork was present, there wasn't time to hide or repair it, and the call had come on the morning of September 8th. She couldn't turn Dani away, her closest friend from the days at Yale. She knew it meant cluing her in somewhat. Dani doubletakes, as she looks at it, and then looks back to Cat. "So this guy just decided he was going to wake up and -etch your windows- in the wee hours of the morning?" There's a very dubious look. "Tell me you've already called for the restraining order."

"I wish it were that easy, Dani," Cat answers quietly. She doesn't look at the artwork, she saw it once and therefore can see it anytime she wants, or needs. "It's got some significance. It's a portent of something. It looks to me like a guy held in a prison somewhere. And judging by the RNA strand there," she indicates that part, the combo of S and F, "it seems like he's maybe an Evolved person locked up just for existing."

Danielle didn't make it out for what it was; just an art piece. She feels the hair standing up at the back up her neck. "Cat, don't make with the creeping out. Etching glass takes acid or something like it, Kit-Kat. Obsessed guys with acid staying the night at your place is NOT a good thing."

The sadness wells up again, it threatens to spill out as tears and leave her showing weakness in front of Gillian, whom she barely knows. It was the moment it all started, the point, she knows, at which her lover and longtime friend was doomed. Her head suddenly shakes, and the expression changes, she forces herself not to dwell on this fact now. To not show weakness more than has already happened. "Sometimes things get painted," she murmurs, "and events get set in motion, things never expected, from looking at the scenes they show."

Not one with a perfect memory, Gillian has tattoos to remind her of many things, and objects. None of which are visible right now. But there is one object. The cherub that she shot— the shot he forced her to take, the trigger he made her pull. The one who might have walked away. "Things don't always turn out how you'd expect them to," she agrees quietly. "I'm going to leave my note. It doesn't tell where to find me, even if I figured this place didn't get many vistors… it does tell him he could find me if he's read Alice in Wonderland." Referencing the Chesire Cat, it would seem. Not the best code ever, but she doesn't know if he got the Agent's memories or not. "If you see him… you do know where to find me. Though if I stop showing up to my job… I've got bigger problems to worry about than a guy with a scar."

It's something to seize on, a thing which allows Cat to tamp down the memories which were triggered, to resist the wave of sadness that washed over her and nearly drew tears, these remarks Gillian makes. "What problems would you have, Gillian?" she quietly asks. "You've encountered people and places I know, we keep running across each other. You know Peter, and have a message for him, I'm guessing you likely know about various factions erupting here in the city, maybe you ran across one or more of them."

"Kind of a long story," Gillian says, looking out to the rubble again. "I thought I was running from a secret government agency of suits, Evolved and guys with guns. I thought I got rescued by a group of terrorists who called themselves PARIAH. I thought I was getting help from a man who happened to be missunderstood… Nothing's ever what it seems." She takes the letter out from her bag again, and chooses to shove it in the only place secure from the wind, and some of the snow— it might get wet anyway. She shoves it into the pigeon coop. The message got left with someone in person, and she has a second letter to drop off sometime, too. "Turns out everyone's a fucking liar. Even if the agency was real— even if PARIAH is real… I don't know if I ever really met them. Peter said you knew them. At least part of them. He even said you could help me."

"I know people in two of the factions, and came across a third, at great personal cost," Cat explains. "I won't give you any details, those would be for them to choose or not. But one of them is involved in moving people to safety. If you find yourself under threat, I can put you in contact with them, and help you find shelter. The only reason you have to trust me is Peter saying you can, and me saying the same thing. I'd just ask you one question: of all these things which aren't what they seem, does Arwen Undomiel count among them? Except, well, the name. I'm a little shorter than Liv Tyler, and I don't look like her father's daughter."

"I don't want help right now. I'm staying right where I am. Until I can ask someone a question," Gillian says, stubbornly setting her shoulders. "I don't know if I trust you or not, but I don't need your help right now." Right now, she's just going to help herself. And live in an apartment paid for by one of the liars. "I shouldn't trust Assface." It slipped this time. "But any lies he's told haven't unravelled yet. And he ended up unravelling most of them."

She nods slowly. "Fair enough, Gillian. Caution is a good thing to use. Maybe I'm right, and maybe I'm not, but I might be the only person tied to any of this who hasn't asked you to do anything." Cat trails off, her eyes focusing on the opposite wall, a few beats go by before she speaks again. "I'm sorry about your sister. You can probably tell, we've grief in common."

The fact that she hasn't asked anything of her might be why Gillian isn't too worried that this woman knows where to find her. But the mention of her sister cuts off anything she might have said. Grief that they have in common? And guilt too, if that look means anything like what it might seem. "Everyone's got grief in common." There's that glance toward the skyline again. "Everyone knows somebody who died." But that's not what they're really sharing in common at all, is it? Two g-words combined would be closer to the truth. And something else entirely. "What happened with you?"

"One of the factions got hold of my closest friend, my lover, and I couldn't get her out," Cat replies simply. "It hurts. I feel like someone punched a hole in my chest, drew out the organ, and left an empty spot. So many things trigger memories, pull it all back, keep the pain fresh. But, like anyone else, all I can do is day by day work toward remembering without grieving. I don't know when or if I'll ever get there. I just know today is not that day."

In some ways their situation is similar, in others, it is vastly different. "You feel guilty. That we have in common," Gillian says, looking back at her for a moment. "I should go," she says, glancing in the direction of the door, the way she came up. "I'm sorry about your friend and lover— and I'm sorry about Peter too." Since she brought the news that at least one of him is dead, and the other half could be behind bars forever.

She doesn't move from her spot near the ledge; the eyes settle on Gillian as she speaks. Cat's reply is terse and calm, just three words. "Take care, Gillian." She'll remain there for a time after the Enhancer departs, drifting through her own thoughts, before moving on. There are items to get retrieved, a new home to hunt for, and her thirst to make Ethan pay.

Gillian left letters at the Deveaux Rooftop and Isaac Mendez's Loft. Details will be made available upon request.

December 14th: Quiet in the Library
December 15th: Flavors of Guilt
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