Ice Laser Rules


gabriel_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title Ice Laser Rules
Synopsis Gabriel and Raith exchange words before embarking on adventure together, on account of Gabriel using his truck.
Date May 1, 2010

Old Dispensary: Kitchen

Every day that passes is another day that the dispensary somehow seems to grow even colder, inundated by an endless snow storm and limping by on meager reserves of fuel. All of it is a testament to how tough its residents are, few as they have been lately. Jensen Raith, one of those few that still remains, busies himself in the kitchen, the space warmed by the stove upon which cooks or stays hot, depending on one's perspective, a simple meal of black rice and beans, along with a slightly damaged metal pitcher of coffee. As 'busy' as he can be, Raith sits near enough to keep himself warm in a chair moved over from the dining table for just that purpose, the sound of a fork scraping against a plate accompanied by a mixture of classic rock and static emanating from the radio that Eileen normally uses to listen to a mixture of classic symphony and static. Everyday, there is slightly more static than music, caused by the steady buildup of snow around the structure in areas that have too little reward to justify being cleared. The smell of food and coffee has a tendency to draw out others who remain around the grounds, and although he's enjoyed his dinner alone thus far, it's only a matter of time before that changes.

A formal request for company usually helps that along, as well, but what does Raith know?

A shadow crosses by the dining room and its missing chair that might remind one of a gapped tooth. It is, however, a regular shadow — it might be for his own energy conservation as opposed to a favour to others than Gabriel's appearance is mundane as he moves towards the kitchen at a kind of casual, curiously tentative saunter. He knows by the time he's within sight that the person fussing in the kitchen is not Eileen, but today, he chooses to not allow that to stop him, even with Raith being a more likely presence than Teodoro.

Dressed in a grey sweater buttoned closed, hem tucked into blue jeans and feet already strapped into boots as fit as they can be for outside walking, Gabriel has his arms folded across his chest as he emerges into the kitchen doorway. Leans a shoulder to the doorframe and lets his greeting be wordless, dark eyes taking in Raith before ticking around the kitchen.

Raith takes notice to Gabriel and instant before he likewise busies himself within the kitchen, doing little more than nodding at him until he finishes a mouthful of rice and beans. "Ah, Gabriel, just the man I was looking for," he says, as if he had been actively looking for him. "Grab a plate, have a seat, I have some words to exchange with you, hope you have time."

That gets a raised eyebrow, as Gabriel neither feels summoned nor looked for, but he does obligingly slip further into the kitchen and does, in fact, go to grab a plate and have a seat, spooning a small but dense helping of rice onto chipped porcelain, hooking fingers into the handle of a kitchen drawer and getting himself a spoon. Throughout, with his back turned to Raith, he asks, "Any words in particular?"

"A few in particular, yeah," the ex-spy replies, giving his compatriot a few moments to situate himself. "First, I want to say 'thanks' for your timely arrival the other day. You really did save us a lot of pain from that, and so I've decided not to ground you for borrowing the truck without asking. That said, we probably wouldn't have gotten in as deep as we did if you had been with us from the start. But, I get the feeling that lately, you maybe haven't felt like you're the same part of this team like you used to be. Been keeping more to yourself, that kind of thing. And if that's the case, it's my fault, and I'm sorry."

There's a moment when Gabriel has a spoon loaded with food for consumption, raising up to do so until he hesitates. By the time Raith is making an apology, rice has scattered back onto its majority, spoon held like a pendulum from where one hand caps the other, elbows against the edge of the table, and brown eyes staring analytical over the clasp. "To be fair," he says, eventually, and after some thought, "time moved quicker for me than it did for you. In the time it took for you to steer the helicopter out of danger, in Antarctica, four months had passed by for me.

"It's complicated." He digs his spoon back into rice, takes a brisk mouthful, eyes down on his food now. "I didn't completely pick up where I left off, even if it had been easy. Thanks," he adds, a little belatedly.

Raith offers a shrug, setting his own plate down on the floor. "Things are complicated lately," he says, "For you, last however many months. For me, last couple weeks. For anyone, who knows. Things are just complicated." His good hand (the other still in a cast) freed up, Raith reaches behind his chair and retrieves a small black case, not otherwise noticed due to the dim light, which he places in his lap. "I don't like it when things get complicated," he continues, "Messes everything up, makes everything harder than it needs to be." A 'snap!' and the case is opened, and out of it into Raith's hand comes a small stoppered vial. Keen eyesight may reveal that, indeed, it does contain a liquid. "Flu going around is a real worry. Not for me, so much, but still a worry. Now, not a worry for you so much, either." A small, stoppered vial now offered to Gabriel.

"One dose. Eileen wants you to have it. Says you've more than earned it and, well, I agree. You didn't have to come bail us out, but you did. We owe you a lot for that."

Setting aside his food, Gabriel doesn't hesitate when Raith offers out the vial, nodding to him and letting the item roll around in his palm. "Thanks," he says again, with more of a certainty in his neutrality this time. "I'll have to remember to take it before I leave." His spoon scrapes noisily against the plate, gathering rice and beans in a swoop. "Which reminds me — I'm taking your truck again." This is Gabriel Gray's version of asking permission — keeping someone informed of his intentions before they happen. "There are some complications I need to figure out before they," he tilts his spoon in gesture, "mess everything up."

"Great, I'll go with you," Raith says, scooping his plate off the floor before rising up from his chair. "People, lately, they keep breaking my shit. My trucks, my guns, my arm, my jack-in-the-box." As he speaks, the ex-spy toddles over towards the sink. "That keeps happening, and before you know it, a guy gets real paranoid. Thinks everyone's out to get his things. So, I'm going with you, make sure you don't wreck my truck." Clatter-clatter. Plate and silverware deposited, Raith turns back around to face Gabriel. "And, Eileen wouldn't ever forgive me if I let something happen to you. But mostly, I don't want you wrecking my truck. Besides, I need see how it handles before I make a few modifications and, well-" The cast-clad arm is raised up briefly- "You know."

Cautiously standing up as well, the look Gabriel has focused on Raith is one of tempered increduility, before glancing down at his plate. Lifts it up, decisively finishes the last few mouthfuls before moving to set it down, using the sleeve of his shirt to wipe his mouth. "I think I'm going to see my father," he says, his profile turned to Raith as he studies the sink more than the other man. There's a clatter as he sets cutlery down into the stainless steel dip. "It probably won't involve any highspeed chases." Probably.

"I'd be worried if it did," Raith replies, "Intrigued, but worried. Never fear, I don't need you to go flying down the boulevard at top speed. Just drive it a little rough on the way over, that sort of thing. Then maybe later, you and I can knock over a liquor store, knock back a few beers and see if we can't get a little more horsepower out of the ol' girl. Day well spent?" Offering a shaky thumbs up, Raith sounds nevertheless serious about the whole thing. As serious as a man complaining about someone breaking his jack-in-the-box can be, at least.

Despite himself, there's a breath of a chuckle at Raith's words, a tiny smile pulling determinedly at the very edges of his mouth before it melts away again. Gabriel drags his attention back up to study the older man over, then beyond his shoulder towards the kitchen and door and the wider Dispensary beyond it. Skin creases at the corners of his eyes in an expression that might lead into further refusal, but instead—

"We should probably leave Eileen a note."

"Yeah, probably," Raith replies with a nod. "I'll take care of that. You finish your dinner." A pad and a pencil are procured from within one of the cabinets, purposely stored there because 'you never know.' "Don't forget your coat," the ex-spy adds while he scribbles out a note with his off-hand, "It's fucking freezing outside… well, I'm sure she'll be able to read that. Probably." Hopefully.

By the time Raith is looking up— well.

In the few seconds between looking down at his own scrawling and seeing Gabriel in his periphery, the younger man seems to have gotten his coat from upstairs, pulled it on, a scarf looped around his neck and hands covered in woolen gloves with the fingertips cut out. The keys to the truck are in his palm, being tossed up once and caught again, and, he's finished dinner. This might be what he means, about time going slower for him than it does other people.

"I'm good," he says, with a lift of an eyebrow.

Raith looks up at Gabriel, down at the keys, and then back up to Gabriel before he sets the pencil down, raises up he hand and shakes his finger at the other man. "No powers inside the house," he says. But that's all, and then Raith turns and begins walking towards the exit before he suddenly stops. "Wait a minute," he says, whirling back around, "If you did all that, in about eight seconds, isn't it faster if we walk?"

"Not for me," Gabriel says, with a shake of his head. "If I can avoid all line of sight from here to Baltimore, I'd arrive there at lightspeed to everyone except for me— look," he splays a hand, "trust science." And that's all he's going to say. Adjusting the sit of his coat collar, he moves past Raith and for out, something in his hand— a piece of paper, the high gloss of a photograph— that he goes to slip into his pocket as he walks.

"Screw science," Raith says, following after his compatriot, "I'll trust science when science gives me that ice laser I've always wanted. Ice laser rules."

Between New York City and Baltimore

A couple of hours out of New York City has the photograph pinched between Raith's fingers, whether he was curious or not, and Gabriel patiently driving. It's also taken this long for him to feel moved to explain, and he rubs his thumbs against the steering wheel as he stares out the windshield. "He gave me that stuck in a book about birding," he says, with a tilt of his head to the photograph. "Implied— that we had the same ability. I think he's the one that's been doing the copycat murders around New York City, and a federal agent seems to think I'm his son."

The photograph is a bespectacled boy sitting on a big bike, the photo all primary colours if faded with age and sun. The address on the back is quite obviously where they're going. "The place we're going is a business that— the man who I always knew to be my dad owns. Martin Gray. I don't know what's going on," Gabriel adds, a qualifier.

Sunlight dances across the windshield — it's warmer, now, and the snow seems more like a mild winter out here than the snow-crusted severity of the city they've left behind.

It is a curious sort of situation. Just like it's curious that the bespectacled boy in that photo would one day grow up to become one of the most successful- and dangerous- serial killers the world has ever known. "Family's a funny thing, you know?" he asks while he examines the photo, maybe to ensure its authenticity, as if he had the ability to do that without his eyes. "Look at me. I'm closer to you and Teo than I am to my own brothers. Goes to show you." But Raith doesn't allow that particular topic to remain active for long before he hops to a new one.

"Martin Gray, he's, uh, he's the guy that taught you watches, yeah?" he asks, "What makes them tick? Sorry about that one."

There's a soft sound at the back of his throat, tension rippling up Gabriel's arms as his fingers curl tighter around the steering wheel. A roll of his shoulders seems to relieve himself of it, a glance to the photograph in Raith's hand. "Not exactly," he says. "He's— " His head lists on his neck in something like a shrug. "He's why. He didn't teach me anything." And that's probably all there is to say about Martin Gray, Gabriel squinting out the windshield.

Restlessly pokes at the radio a moment later. Static, static, news, static.

"Still put the spark there," the ex-spy notes, pulling his eyes away from the photo and casting his gaze out the window, across the landscape. "You ever wonder how you got to where you are?" he asks after a moment, "How things might've gone if you'd done one thing differently?" The briefest pause, just enough time for Raith to move his gaze from the window over to Gabriel. "What if I became a linguistic anthropologist, instead of a spy? Would I be here right now? Would we be here right now? I speak seven languages and have a way of 'pushing' people, but instead of raking in the money in the exchanges, a building fell on me. Ha." Genius life plan, Raith.

"What about you? Ever wonder?"

you wanna know, if he loves me so, it's in his kiss, that's where it

Click. Giving up on a suitable soundtrack, Gabriel returns his hands to steering wheel, although not before plucking his photograph back out of Raith's hands. His hips shift up from the seat to push the paper back into his pocket, resettling a second later. "I could be a watchmaker still. New York City wouldn't be like it is now. Maybe I'd be happy, maybe not. Doesn't matter, right?

"What's Eileen to you?" This, some abrupt connection right back to the topic Raith had skimmed over. "If you and I are brothers, what does that make her?"

After a moment of silence, Raith sends his gaze forward through the windshield with a weak shrug, whether or not Gabriel will see it. "Friend, soldier," he begins, before abruptly changing his mind, "Na, that's garbage, hold on." It's a serious question, and Raith accordingly spends a few seconds thinking about what his answer ought to be. "Eileen is a good friend," he finally concludes, "One of the few in the world that I will willingly stand by to the end, even if the road to the end is kind of on the idiot side. What I do, what we do, there aren't a lot of people who get it. Not exactly, at least. The friends you find, you gotta stick with. And Eileen is a friend that I will stick with."

Sleet makes rain-like droplets on the windshield, a brief spattering of moisture that has nothing on the icy sheets of precipitation battering at New York City. They lowered the temperature of the heater a while ago, and Gabriel dials it down once more, the cab of the truck actually retaining its warmth rather than getting sucked out by the preternatural vacuum of an Evolved winter. Gabriel's presence is a different kind of chill, though conversation has a way of chipping at that exterior. Thawing it, depending.

It can and will frost over at any time and it's hard to tell at this juncture as to whether he appreciates the older man's answer. His expression is turned forward and impassive. "Good," finally, a whole lot of speaking going unspoken entirely.

"What's Eileen to you?" Raith fires back, turning the situation around slightly.

The look he deals Raith is a blurry one, a glance sideways rather than actually turning his head, allow for better reading. In unconscious mimicry of the other man, Gabriel's shoulders jerk up in a subtle shrug, the lids of his eyes heavy over a dull kind of gaze out the window. "Not her friend," he says. "Not a good one. I'm not really wired that way — we fight because of it. It might be enough that I'm glad she has you. If you screw it up, then we'll have problems."

"Don't sell yourself short, Gabe," Raith replies, "Back when we all thought you were dead, everyone was at the bar to remember the fallen. Emile Danko walks in, you remember that asshole. I've never seen her fly at someone that fast. She was ready to kill him then and there if I'd let her try." A sort of chuckle, sort of laugh out of Raith at that. "It's you, me and Teo, man, we're all she's really got right now, and there's a reason I said your name first. Something to think about."

And that's what Gabriel does: thinks, a quiet activity that stretches silence out between them, fills the cab with it, the whine of internal machinery and the growl of the engine doing what it can to underscore it. When Gabriel does speak, he, like Raith, has left this particular topic behind, as breezily as a stray leaf cuaght in the windshield wipers and set free again. He squints pensively out the glass as their destination crawls closer and closer.

"Do you think he's realised that the kid he left with his wife grew up to be the Midtown Man?"

"Maybe." It's a simple answer for a simple question, and that Raith is, fortunately, willing to elaborate on, "Does it matter? That's the real question. One I don't have an answer for. If it were me, no, doesn't matter. You're not a label, what's inside you doesn't matter. Action defines who you are, so let me ask you this. What really matters? What you did in the past, or what you do right now? The actions you've already taken, or the actions you have yet to take?" More pointedly and with somewhat more sharpness, Raith follows with one last question. "You are Gabriel Gray, and you were the Midtown Man, so we're told. But only one of them still exists in the present. So you tell me. Past or present. What really matters?" Rambling and somewhat undirected, just like most of the wisdom Raith possesses. But wisdom nonetheless.

"To him?" Gabriel points out, now taking his eyes off the road to look at Raith. "Doesn't matter. What does he care, if I've saved the world as much as I've fucked it over? What I'm gonna do tomorrow? He doesn't know either way. What I've done— who they all think I am— defines the conversation I'm about to have, regardless. He'll know," he abruptly decides, and there's some sort of anticipatory nervousness in his voice, the kind of caution with which one investigates a trap, coupled always with intrigue.

The corner of his mouth only just crooks up. "Impossible not to. Maybe we'll get a high speed chase after all."

"If that's what you're expecting, don't be offended when I say I hope you're disappointed." Once more, Raith directs his gaze out the window, watching the landscape roll by. Almost seems like he's just watching his life roll by, not doing as much as he used to. "You think I'm getting too old for this saving the world bullshit?" he asks, "I mean, let's face it. I've been doing this kind of stuff for how many years now and for the first time ever, a building falls on me. Not the super man I used to be."

The glance towards Raith betrays the kind of alarm that someone might give their elder when they admit to being their elder in any way that isn't about wisdom or authority. It's swift and subtle, and fortunately done while Raith is staring out at all the snow-dusted green they travel through. Keep going west like this and they might even find spring. "We'll get you a cane," Gabriel offers, with a raise of an eyebrow. "A walker, if you're really worried. I don't if anyone retires from saving the world.

"In fact, I'm pretty sure they die first," is a cheery addition, eyebrows back to a neutral horizon as Gabriel's eyes glance over the landscape when the highway branches off into an exit. Not theirs yet, he decides, continues to drive down the long stretch of road. "You're still super man. Just not untouchable. And non-Evolved." A glance. "Sorry."

"Once my Kryptonian superpowers finish recharging, you'd better believe you're going to be sorry," Raith quips, "Unless there's a Baby Ruth in the future. Then, all will be forgiven. For a few days, and then there'd better be another candy bar." Even Raith is unable to take himself completely seriously, stifling a small chuckle as the truck cruises taking the highway, closer and closer to their destination. Not so bad, all things considered. By the time they get there, who knows? Maybe they'll be the next Starsky and Hutch. But probably not.

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