Happiness and Elation


aviators2_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif

Scene Title Happiness and Elation
Synopsis Eileen's parole officer checks in to issue a warning about straightening up and flying right, no pun intended.
Date January 27, 2010

Fort Greene — Eileen's Apartment

Original hardwood floors and a pair of French doors painted black are the most prominent features of the living space, which has been sparsely furnished with loveseat, cozy chaise, built-in bookshelves and various pieces of smaller furniture to make it feel like more of a home, including a dining table for two and claw-foot chairs. The walls, like the radiator, have been painted white to contrast with the rich colour of the floors and the cabinetry in the modest kitchen, just large enough to fit one person comfortably.

The French doors separate the bedroom from the rest of the apartment. Like the living room and kitchen, it has been decorated with simplicity in mind. The bed itself is a queen-sized platform that takes up most of the space and is covered in a white goose feather comforter for warmth in the winter. A steamer trunk filled with clothes sits at the foot of the bed in lieu of a dresser — there just isn't enough room for anything else except for an antique vanity, its mirror badly water-stained and in dire need of repair or replacement.

Everybody needs a hobby. Laid open on the dining room table beside the textbooks Eileen purchased for her first semester at Columbia University during her last visit to Morningside Heights is The Complete Guide to Flower Arranging. The smell of lilacs and baby's breath mingles with the underlying aromas of cheap cigarette smoke, steeping tea and the young woman's perfume, which is itself a blend of Turkish rose oil and cedar infused with myrrh, and as she maneuvers a pair of scissors with a porcelain handle to snip through a stubborn cluster of stems, she struggles to divide her attention between what she's doing and the vibrant illustrations instructing her how to do it.

In the background, rain patters against the pane glass windows and obstructs the flow of sunlight, creating unusual patterns that shift kaleidoscope-like across the bare skin of her neck, arms and face. Buffeting wind battles the static hiss and pop of her radio for auditory supremacy, but if one listens closely enough — and Eileen is — it's possible to make out the sound of classical music struggling to be heard above the ambient noise.

Apparently, this is what life is supposed to be like.

It's a contented scene at the least, even if viewed through the crack of a space between the bathroom door and its frame. The hinges are well-oiled, they don't squeak when it moves, and his footsteps don't make any appreciable noise over the sound of the rain and the radio. Eileen's silhouette is a narrow one in that chair, all slender shoulders and tangled, dark locks. The diffuse gray light cast through the windows of the apartment. He knows he shouldn't really be here, not stalking up behind her like this, or peering over the frames of his sunglasses at the back of her head.

It's strange to think he could just reach out and snap her neck with these hands right now, and no one would ever have known he was here. But, while the thought does have some merits in the darker corners of his mind, the broad-shouldered and looming male silhouette behind Eileen's chair is prone to do something equally frightening, yet far less lethal. "Pressing wildflowers?"

Give her a scare.

If scaring her is what he's attempting to achieve, then he can mark this one down as a smashing success in his little black book. Although she does not cry out, she rounds on him with all the swiftness and ferocity of a she-cat that's just had her tail stomped on. Chair legs do the squealing for her instead, leaving shallow gouges in the hardwood floors under their feet as she swings into action and knocks over the glass vase she's set aside for the arrangement. Glass does not shatter — water splashes across the table's surface, flooding between cracks and thoroughly soaking the pages of the open book. Her other texts are miraculously spared by the flowers themselves, which act as a natural dam by protecting the paper from spill with their pale spread of violet and linen-white petals.

The scissors are inches from his neck, its point aimed at the hollow of his throat, her knuckles bulging around the handle. When she recognizes her visitor, she does not visibly relax. Eileen had been expecting Emile Danko, but this

This is scarcely better.

"You know that," Aviators' head bobs towards the scissors, one of his hands curling thick and calloused fingers around her birdlike wrist, "is becoming a really bad habit." She hadn't noticed in the ensuing scuffle and hasty movements, where his other hand had gone, but the firm press of something that feels distinctly like the barrel of a gun to her very close midsection is emphasized by a tiny nudge back with it, as if to say step off. "If I'd have known that was foreplay though, I'd have brought some construction paper and we could make dolls too."

One thick, dark brow raises in teasing expression as Aviators offers a strangely smug and proud smile. "Put the scissors down, before you stab someone again." He's being cute, except that he's the only person who appreciates his own particular brand of off-color amusement.

Green eyes darken to smoldering and the stark white lines that define the expression on Eileen's face harden, righteous indignation taking a foothold where fear had one before. Tension tightens her jaw and makes the tendons in her neck stand out like thick threads beneath the tissue paper softness of the skin at her throat. Aviators has seen her angry before and will recognize the signs — he knows what fury looks like.

Her voice, in comparison, is surprisingly steady and sounds the way a steel ribbon might: somehow both flexible and firm, defined by its razor edge. "I can't put it down unless you let me go," she says. Then; "You have no right."

"Baby, I have all the right in the world." Fingers unwind from Eileen's wrist, and she can feel the barrel of that gun trace up from her stomach, across her breastbone and then up under her chin, rocking back and forth slowly as Aviators raises both brows. "You have no idea how much it would make me happy to paint the ceiling with what's left of the Swiss cheese between your ears." He moves the gun away, tapping her on the chin lightly with it, then on the tip of her nose. "But you know, I'm getting a paycheck for every day I don't, so that's pretty fucking fantastic isn't it?"

Sliding his pistol into his shoulder holster inside of his leather jacket, Aviators steps around Eileen, tracking wet footprints across the floor from the growing puddle of water he treads through. "They set you up pretty nice, this place. It's a lot better than the asbestos-filled spider hole the rest of your buddies are probably eating canned beans in right now." Resting his hands on his hips, Aviators turns around slowly, looking at Eileen with his head cocked to one side.

"Whoever your interior decorator is, he broke my bugs." There's a squint behind the darkened lenses of Aviators' sunglasses. "You know I had to pay for those fucking things on my own, right? I was really hoping you'd have left them in, that way I wouldn't have to hide in your closet to listen to you having sex. Makes a man's job so hard— or— I guess not hard enough?"

Eileen places the scissors down on the table, blade pointed away, and concentrates on righting the vase and soaking up the water with a hand towel she'd been keeping on the seat of one of the adjacent chairs in case of such a spill. She keeps her face turned away from him as she works, but Aviators doesn't need to be watching her eyes or her mouth to detect her surprise when he mentions his missing surveillance equipment. It manifests as a slight stiffening in her neck and shoulders, and that is all.

She'd been so upset with Raith when he stopped her from putting her knife between Danko's ribs. She should have thanked him. Until now, it never occurred to her that he might have had ulterior motives for lurking in her apartment the night she slipped out from under Peter's less-than-watchful eye. "I don't have a closet," is what she says, moving around Aviators on her way into the kitchen so she can wring the sodden towel out over the sink.

She doesn't have any sexual partners either, but that doesn't bear mentioning.

"I know…" is Aviators disappointed response. "That's why— " he waves a hand in the air, swatting at his own comment as he turns to settle his attention back on her again from a distracted look towards her bedroom. "Look, I just stopped by to… we'll say issue a warning, that sounds fair enough." Tucking his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket, Aviators attention is focused solely on Eileen now, even if he's assessing her with one raised eyebrow still.

"You're on thin ice, by and large. People are watching you, evaluating you, measuring you. Don't fuck up, don't mis-step, and for the love of God don't go getting yourself caught dicking around with Jensen. Because as it stands, you're on the right side of where you need to be right now. So stay here, stay in your little flower-box," which seems to be his nickname for her apartment, "and… keep your goddamned nose clean."

There's a wrinkle of Aviators' nose as he adds that comment. "Oh and ah," Aviators lips creep up into a crooked smile. "You're outta' toilet paper too."

"You are foul." The hand towel slaps against the bottom of the sink with a sound that's hard and loud enough to crack through the entire apartment, which isn't very large — about six hundred square feet, not including the crawl space in the bedroom that could act as her closet in lieu of a real one if she didn't have the steamer trunk at the foot of her bed. Her white cotton chemise, which she wears paired with worn denim jeans and a string of faux pearls at her neck, ensures that she has no cardigan sleeves to roll up or worry about getting damp. That particular garment is draped across the back of her chaise and contains her utility knife in one of its woven pockets.

Right now, Eileen is wishing it was a lot closer. Apart from the broken pistol she procured from Grand Central Terminal, hidden under the very floorboards that she and Aviators are standing upon, it's the only weapon she has. "Tell me what's worse: that you think you can come into my home without my permission or that you seem to be under the impression I deserve this sort of treatment from you after what happened in Mandritsara. Don't forget who sewed up your eye."

"Yeah…" Aviators states, tipping his sunglasses forward to reveal two perfectly functional eyes, both blinking together, "ain't life a bitch?" Two fingers push the sunglasses back up the bridge of his nose slowly. "You did it because you had to, not because you gave a shit about me. You're a scared little bird and you wanted some more warm bodies around, that's all it is." Walking past Eileen, Aviators shakes his head, seemingly on his way for the apartment door before stopping and turning to look at her again. "It's nice to know you've gotten over your boyfriend and moved on with your life," he adds with an incline of his head.

"I'm sure whatever fiery pit he's roasting in now, he'll be happy to know that you're happy." Aviators is nothing if not barbed today, and it goes to show in his speech. Whatever soured his milk today seems to still be lingering on the edge of his senses, and he's letting it get under his skin when he deals with Eileen. "You are happy, right?" Or he is just enjoying his job.

Floorboards creak and moan as Eileen emerges from the kitchen, her slight weight evenly distributed over the wooden slats by her bare feet. She'd snapped at Old Lucy's, her proud but reticent bearing weighed down by grief to the point of breaking. In Peter's arms, too — if for different reasons. This time, to her credit, she manages to keep the expression on her face from transforming into something truly ugly as she closes the distance between them, though it's impossible not to notice the change in her that the mention of Gabriel's death has inspired.

She slows to a halt in front of him, her movements slow, measures and precise as she reaches up and adjusts the collar of his jacket with none of the fondness or affection she might show Ethan or even Raith in a similar position. Aviators can hear her breath straining not to tremble with every exhalation, but like her hands and her voice it remains stable.

"I'm positively elated," she says, sounding everything but. Her fingers touch his face. "Would you like to know why?"

Strangely, Aviators seems disquieted by all of this. His neck muscles tense, lips downturn into a frown, and suddenly he actually seems impressed upon by whatever it is that contact with his face has done. Aviators is silent, one brow lifted, and for a moment it looked like he might have lifted a hand to raise to Eileen's, but instead remains otherwise motionless. His eyes settle down on her behind the lenses of his glasses, brows furrow, and Aviators' head quirks ever so subtly to the side as if to imply why? in silent parroting.

Whether or not this is the reaction that Eileen was angling for is apparent in neither her tone, entirely absent of any smugness whatsoever, nor her body's deceptively misleading language as she trails those fingers along his jaw and takes his chin to ensure his gaze does not stray far from hers when she next speaks. "I'm going to find out who's responsible for authorizing Gray's assassination, and when I do, I'm going to choke the life out of them with these tiny little hands."

Aviators tenses up for a moment, she can feel the muscles flexing at the sides of his jaw. "Good for you," he adds with all the enthusiasm of a wallpaper salesman, brows creased together and posture nine ways to awkward. "Now— If you'll excuse me…" Aviators begins to say, stepping back and away from Eileen with an inscrutable confusion in his expression that she cannot quite put her finger on. He turns the knob to her front door, cracks it open. "…I'll leave you to your life."

Eileen's hand falls away from Aviators' face, and this time she does not pursue. She stands there in her bare feet, all soft curves, delicate limbs and small mouth, her eyes like burnished glass. If she wanted to choke the life out of anyone, she'd have to make them bleed first, and — judging by what's happening behind her calculated stare and the way she tracks his progress out the door with feline acuity — she might just be thinking about doing the same thing to him if he doesn't hurry up. "Goodbye."

He doesn't say it back, he never really was much fond of goodbyes. Stepping out into the hall, Aviators disappears into a thinner and thinner sliver viewed thorugh the closing door, until it quietly shuts, leaving Eileen alone in the apartment like she thought she was before. The sound of the rain pattering on the glass is the only thing to keep her company now, that and the wettened pages of a book.

The apartment feels bigger now, quieter, more hollow; the shadows just a little deeper. But the rain stays the same outside.

Cold, unrelenting.

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