In The Way


f_eileen_icon.gif f_gabriel_icon.gif

Scene Title In The Way
Synopsis After the Policemen's Gala, Gabriel and Eileen don't quite address some marital concerns. It's hard to get through to someone when no one is listening.
Date April 9, 2019

The Gray House

The house is as they left it: still. Even when the key turns in the lock and the front door creaks open, the hinges make very little noise. Next to the heavy footsteps on the floorboards in the entryway, the frenetic clicking of the cast iron radiator in the living room is the loudest sound that can be heard by mortal ears.

Not everyone who lives here, however, is mortal. To Gabriel, there are a thousand other little things resonating in the walls around him, the floors beneath his feet and the ceiling above his head. In their cages, the finches grouse amongst themselves, twittering mutely in dismay. The longer the door remains open, the more cold seeps into the stale air, filling the house with the smells of receding winter on top of old varnish and the last thing to be cooked in the tiny kitchen.

It's more out of concern for herself than concern for her birds that Eileen ushers her husband inside and wastes no time shutting the door behind him. Even with her coat, she isn't dressed for the blustery weather, and judging by the droplets of rain sprinkled throughout her hair, she and Gabriel arrived home just in time. It's begun to drizzle.

It had been a quiet trip home. The weather and other circumstances had dictated that they would be arriving home via cab rather than flight, and Gabriel had mostly let Eileen lead the way, head pounding. He doesn't drink, generally, and he's regretting having broken this tradition, but sobriety before him is something to avoid, especially after tonight.

And tonight is still going.

He sheds his coat, hangs it up by the door and kind of stands in place for a moment, before he's seeking out the lightswitch beside the door. He winces, just a little, at the flood of light that occurs when his fingertip flicks it downwards, and then rests a shoulder heavily against the wall. He should talk to Flint when this is over, maybe— something. Apologise. Explain. Make excuses for Magnes. Maybe also find Magnes. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. With clumsier fingers, Gabriel attempts to rid himself of his tie before proceeding inside any further.

Tomorrow is a long ways off.

Eileen doesn't immediately shrug off her coat. Instead, she lines herself up with Gabriel and moves in to assist, her much smaller, colder hands settling atop his larger, warmer ones. Here, the gesture seems to say. Let me help you with that.

"You should take some aspirin," she suggests, careful to keep her voice hovering just above a whisper, "drink some water, lay down." Her tone is suspiciously guarded and neutral, but if Gabriel was sober he might be able to better detect the frustration threatening to breach its surface. There's not a lot keeping Eileen's attitude in check right now, and while her voice is agreeable, she could stand to be a little less rough when it comes to loosening the tie at his neck.

His efforts are relinquished to her, hands falling to his sides. "Mm." Frustration doesn't need to be detected. He knows Eileen well enough by now. The neutrality is the first sign. The practical, jerky motions with which she handles his tie is another. Gabriel's eyes roll up a little, head tilted back a fraction, tolerating it, then backs up once the strip of silk is gone entirely, a hand pulling loose the top button of his shirt.

"If you're mad at me," he says, words still running into each other, "then you should— say so while I don't care." Which is a clumsy way of saying what he really means, which isn't that. A look of consternation drifts over his face as the words leave his mouth, letting out a slight sigh when he can't quite figure out how to retract the words entirely. Drunkenness has drained his voice of the usual clip and gravel of the way he delivers words, diminished it to a mellow slur. "I mean— you know what I mean."

Eileen raises both her brows at Gabriel, not in incredulity or doubt, but to communicate whether or not he really wants to be having this conversation. "You might not care right now," she reminds him, stepping back to free herself of her coat's woolen confines, "but you will when you wake up in the morning." Perfect memory is more curse than blessing when one takes into consideration the old saying: time heals all wounds.

Because it doesn't. Not when pain won't fade. This precise moment will be as real to him tomorrow as it is now, and the day after that, and the day after that…

"And no," she adds, slipping it in as a hastily spat out afterthought, "I don't. Know what you mean."

Taking off the tie hanging loose around his neck, Gabriel absently winds it around his hand in a fidgeting gesture, only grunting a little in reply to Eileen before he's making his cautious way towards the kitchen. Not out of coordination, he's proven he can walk, at the very least, but the world is spinning. Aspirin and water. The whining sound of the tap and the splash of water within a glass soon joins the audio ambience only he is privy to.

"I guess it could have been worse," he says, voice echoing a little off the walls within the quiet, near empty house. "God knows how many times people used to expect me to do something like that." He wants to ask, where do we keep the aspirin, just to keep things normal, but he knows as soon as he thinks it. High in the cabinet, in the basket affixed to the inside of the door. He doesn't go for it, however, just downs some water.

He wants to lie down. Curl up. Preferably with Eileen. Creature comforts, the kinds he used to neglect, thought he was too good for, too important for. "I just meant… while I don't care if it— isn't what I want to hear."

That's something Eileen understands, might even relate to or sympathize with if she wasn't in such a dour mood herself. "There are people who still do," she says, following Gabriel with her eyes rather than her feet. Her coat finds a temporary home on a hook by the door. "People who haven't forgotten what you're capable of. People who recommended you for SCOUT in the first place."

Lying down might be nice. Curling up would be even better. Although Eileen hasn't had much to drink over the course of the evening, exhaustion has set in, causing her eyelids to droop and her stare to become more lazy and catlike than usual. "I warned you about Magnes. You wouldn't listen to me."

The water is gone in a couple of swift gulps, before he's filling the glass again to take with him upstairs. "I thought I was right," Gabriel says, voice a little raspier than usual from the dehydration set in from drinking. Tomorrow morning is going to be a bitch. Moving from the kitchen, making a vague journey towards the staircase, he's not really looking at Eileen, not glancing to meet her lazy cat stare. He knows it's on him. He's not up for a game of verbal cat and mouse, however. He says, casually with bitterness only Eileen could really detect, "I was wrong," dropping the words between them as if in resignation. There you go, enjoy.

"I didn't want you to be wrong." Eileen stands between Gabriel and the staircase's bottommost step, unwilling to eliminate herself from his path. He has two choices: attempt to maneuver around the obstacle or forcibly remove it, and she's confident he lacks to coordination to succeed at either. "I didn't want to see Flint hurt. I didn't want any of what happened tonight."

She places one hand on the banister, the other held out with her fingertips brushing the opposite wall. If her stance wasn't clear before, then it is now. "You're right," she says. "I am mad at you. Fucking furious, actually."

Gabriel's gaze falls upon her hand, barring his passage up the staircase with one small, pale hand and long arm following it. Up and up to her shoulder, then finally her eyes. Apparently copious amounts of drinking still doesn't act as a very good defense against such words, but at least it helps with inhibitions. It's too hard to be disaffected and stoic.

"I didn't want to be wrong either," he says, finally, slowly. But his voice is rising in volume as the words come, like a breaking dam. "I wanted to be right and I wanted Magnes to be able to control himself. I didn't want to scare Flint into treating him differently and didn't want Magnes to stop trusting me."

His own hand goes to grip the banister, a few inches lower than hers, head bowing for a moment. Eileen knows well what he can be like when he lets anger take over, irrational and wrong as it can sometimes be. The struggle to not be angry is a familiar one but only in recent years. It's what happens when you have a job, a son. Comes with the territory.

Gabriel takes a step back, near shrugs at her as his other hand holds the glass of water closely. Either she stops being fucking furious at him or she doesn't, and he's making a show of not caring.

He puts on a performance so respectable that Eileen in part believes it. There are times when she prefers the anger, the raised voices and cutting words — at least then she knows she's gotten under his skin and stands a chance at making even the slightest bit of headway. This isn't progress. This isn't even—

Eileen doesn't know what this is. Gabriel is drunk so rarely that what she's experiencing is strange and alien, as foreign as Argentina and Russia were when she first set foot on their soil. Her body language adopts a more tentative posture, uncertain how to approach the man standing in front of her. Which is in itself unsettling. She can't remember the last time she didn't have some inkling about what might be going on in his head.

"I'm sorry," she demurs, though she doesn't sound apologetic in the least. "Am I in your way?"

The battle of who could care less. Gabriel studies her, to see if his words landed, but in much the same frustration as she, there's nothing. No progress made. No dents. He's swaying a little bit, back onto his heels, although his grip on the banister is a steadying help. "Are you trying— " he starts, then decides against it, whatever it is he was going to say, likely to continue playing this game.

But he's in no position to match her. So the hand on the banister shifts up enough to cover hers, to move up to possessively circle fingers around her slim wrist. "No, unless you don't want to come to bed," he says. He was trying to lighten his tone, but it comes across as neutral, any twist of suggestion behind the words forced.

Eileen's gaze drifts down to the hand at her wrist, but rather than instinctively yank her arm away she digs her nails into the wood, knuckles standing out as sharp ridges against the long, smooth curves of her fingers. Come to bed. It's such a straightforward request, almost beautiful in its simplicity. How easy it would be to just take that hand and guide it, slide it further up the banister and force his arm to encircle her waist. Creature comforts. God knows they both need them after a night like this.

"This isn't just about Magnes," she says slowly, enunciating each word with perfect precision so there's no chance of being misheard. "Or about who's right, and who isn't. I saw what happened— what happened with Gillian."

Gabriel's hand stays warm, clasped around her wrist, which remains as immovable to him as a statue. His head tips to the side in a gesture of lazy irritation when she doesn't yield, although lazy gaze does sharpen and focus on her cat-green eyes when she brings up that name, the one that spikes anger and other feelings in him like a button being pressed. Automatic and instantaneous, although now confusion flits across a currently openly expressive face. And defensiveness, wariness, ready to guard himself.

"What did you see?"

The ligaments in her wrist flex beneath his touch and begin to stiffen. Eileen doesn't know what she saw, and the uncertainty is written all over her face in the form of troubles lines and creases that weren't there before. "I saw her adjust your tie," she says, deciding to start with what she's certain is true. "I saw you smiling. I saw her touch you." Beyond that she hasn't a clue, and clenching her jaw, gritting her teeth is all she can do to keep the accusation from slithering its way into her voice.

He's wise to guard himself.

His eyes become half-hooded as she speaks. Yes, Gillian touched him. Yes, he smiled at her. Under the bright lights of the glittering ballroom. Gabriel tries to imagine what it might look like, away from the icy vacuum of their conversation, through the drifting dance partners, through the camera flashes.

Nothing like what they were saying. That was the rules of the game they were playing. Gabriel had counted on Eileen not being there. Gabriel's head is already shaking in denial by the time Eileen's has finished, expelling a sigh, one that still smells like wine and champagne.

"You didn't— hear it," he says, haltingly. "It's a lie, all of it. Now and then."

It's not the most sensical of explanations, but it's his, paused there as he raises an eyebrow at her. "You were watching." There's accusation in his voice, but accusing of what is hard to say, apart from what she just admitted.

Eileen wants desperately to be able to believe him, to buy into his cryptic explanation — and if it weren't for the pungent alcohol washing over her face, she might've been able to do just that. Let the subject drop. Retreat upstairs. Turn down the covers for the night.

She can't. Her hand leaves the banister, heedless of the fingers gripping her wrist, and she reaches up with the other in an attempt to pry Gabriel loose. The gesture is much gentler than the attention she paid to his tie when helping him remove it, though the firmness is still there. It's her turn for explanations.

"I went outside for a cigarette," is her somewhat stilted reply. "Thought I saw someone I knew. What did you expect me to do? Say something? Walk up to you?"

"Rescuing me wou…ldn't have been— gone amiss," Gabriel says, raising his eyebrows at her, and then glancing down when he feels her fingers grip at his, to remove the steady clasp of his hand. For a moment he doesn't register it, so he doesn't yield. instinctively tightening that hold before understanding what she's doing.

Uncaring, the glass of water slips from his other hand, hitting the edge of a step without breaking, heavy sounding as glass meets wood and rolls onto carpet, the spill of water making it dark. Mostly because the hand that was holding it is suddenly occupied in pushing her back against the railing, his larger frame doing much to crush against her's.

His movements are heavy, lacking subtlety, but definite, clasp on her wrist tight to the point of discomfort. His voice is quieter, dwindled down to a rasp, a murmur into her hair. "Why were you happiest then. Why not now. What's wrong with now."

Eileen can think of very few things wrong with now. His breath in her ear. The drunken heat emanating from his body as it warms her exposed skin and flushes it pink. The press of hips against hers. These are all the things that are right. The little subtleties of the moment that make it worth living.

Her reaction is one borne of aggravation as much as it is passion, and she goes through the motions entirely without thinking or reasoning, movements led not by the logic in her head but the flood of emotion welling up in her heart.

No more words. No more talking. No more moving her mouth except to crush it against his and kiss him. Whatever's wrong with now, it isn't enough worth fighting over.

It's all it ever takes, one of them cracking through the glass-ice barrier that builds too easily between them. It doesn't have to be this clumsy. It can be a word, a reminder, a touch. Gabriel doesn't, really, have it in him to be subtle, and though his questions go unanswered, important questions, at that, he gives into the warmth and acceptance that occurs when the barrier is gone. He's winding his fingers through her hair, slippery with the dusting of rain from moments ago, meeting the kiss with a sharper sobriety than he's been able to speak with.

Perhaps this is tonight's best mode of communication. They can always go back to fighting tomorrow. After they've made it off the staircase, after someone's cleaned spilled water.

<date>: previous log
<date>: next log
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License