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Also featuring:

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Scene Title Inception
Synopsis Amphodynamine in Eileen's veins propels her into Gabriel's subconscious.
Date November 8, 2010


Burnt-out storefronts belch flames and thick columns of smoke, their front windows smashed in by cement blocks hurled by looters, and under Eileen's feet is a sea of broken glass that glitters in the firelight. A chorus of car alarms sings a dirge for the dead and is joined by the wailing sirens and shrill, alien cries of grief rising up from the ruins of what was once one of the biggest, most prosperous cities in the world—

And this isn't even the worst of it. Wind blows sheets of loose newspaper across the road, snagged by the outstretched arm of a corpse with a hole in the back of its head. The majority of the bodies that are collected will be treated with as much dignity as the military can afford, searched for identification and then disposed of to prevent the spread of disease, and to cover up the fact that many of them are victims of atrocities unseen except in times of war.

If they weren't in one before, they are now. A gloved hand covers the Englishwoman's left side, wool coat thoroughly soaked through with blood where she caught a bullet during her flight from Manhattan to Brooklyn's waterfront, but it's only a graze and small price to pay. Wu-Long's wife and son are already halfway to Pollepel Island with Jensen Raith and her father.

By morning, she'll have either joined them or she'll have joined the other bodies clogging the city's arterial pathways.

Up ahead, her falcon cuts a path through the smoke with a flicker of its silver-lined wings, and starlings stream after it in long, thin strings woven together into a living tapestry that ebbs and flows in synch with the rhythm of her breathing and the beat of her heart.

Amphodynamine makes finding Gabriel easy. Returning him to reality is a different matter.

He's got to get tired eventually.

Or maybe not. Maybe there's something in Rupe's ability that makes them go and go against all requirements for rest and sustenance. Pain is certainly not a factor, and when she does find him, he's bleeding. Ropey red tracks of swift bleeding trickles down from hairline to jaw, tongue absently licking at damp, drying coppery red at the corner of his mouth, but he's long since sealed it with his own ability when it occurs to him to do so.

He doesn't seem inclined to rest, however, as the bird tracks his movement through the wrecked city. Stop, yes. A glance sent up at the sky towards here he knows the bird to be but can't quite see. Stops, and then goes back to what he was doing.

The militant truck is turned on its side, and the shine of casings littering the ground on one side tells a tale of it being use as cover at at least one point. There's a rifle, stolen, strapped to Gabriel's back, and in his other hand, the collar of a soldier, and the soldier inside it is unfortunately not enough to unconscious to not care what's happening to him. Or his leg. Leave no man behind is a beautiful and romantic sentiment, but sometimes there are exceptions, such as when the Midtown Man decides to engage with the American military.

May~be not the whole thing. But one lonely unit making their rounds in the dead of night—

The reek of fear is not something the bird gets to pick up on, but Gabriel is enjoying it. His foot steps take a faster pace, one two three, before that arm locks up and brings the young man around as if he were so much meat, broken and unbroken legs both leaving the ground until the rest of him follows suit. Stop, twist, momentum carrying soldier across the street to crash through the glass windows of an abandoned storefront, one of the few that hasn't been looted.

Done and done. Just cleaning up after himself. Gabriel keeps walking down the centre of the street.

Eileen has hunted Gabriel in darkness before, and although she thought him to be Feng Daiyu when she last followed him through Brooklyn, acting on entirely the wrong assumptions, she feels as though this isn't the first time they've walked these same steps. Once it found them in the heart of Midtown, pitted against a monster now twice dead. Her coat hangs open, providing her with easy access to the pistol she keeps holstered there even if she has no intention of using it against her quarry. The blade sheathed inside the cane she carries is also a last resort, to be wielded only in self-defense, and with no other options available.

The flat soles of her leather boots are worn from years of excessive use, but like the rest of her clothes, including her lambskin gloves and kevlar vest, they're made from durable material designed to last. That doesn't mean she can keep pace with him indefinitely. She's going to lose Gabriel this way, whether his injuries catch up with him first or the military does.

Her falcon swings around in a sharp circle, alights swiftly on the husk of an abandoned vehicle coated in fine, white-gray ash with the consistency of snow as more of the stuff floating down from a churning black sky. There's a snap of its wings and suddenly her voice is in his head, a feat she would not be able to accomplish without the chemicals surging through her bloodstream.


Three syllables, and he responds a little like it was a monosyllable crack of a whip or a hand upside his head, ducking a fraction even as he doesn't stop moving at a faintly weaving swagger down the asphalt road. She will know he is fortunate enough to replenish his own blood supply by half. She will know that he has limits even then. Faint alarm at the sound of her voice tremors through their connection, but there is something different about it, faint, like alarm is something that registers as numb as pain for him right now. He cannot form words back at her, but he does express a vague sentiment of rejection, irritation, as if she were nagging him rather than hunting him down.

His influence suddenly slams into the falcon as if he were batting it out of the air, the urge to tuck its wings against its small body and go plunging at high speed for the asphalt road like a falling comet. It would hurt them both and it would blind her.

But he doesn't have the same chemical racing through his blood in the same way she doesn't have the same trigger of mindless violence in her brain. He veers for a building.

Buildings usually mean four or more walls and a roof, corridors narrower than Eileen would like and sometimes stairways that are difficult to navigate in light of her disability, and while shelter is one of the necessary requirements for survival here in New York City, especially on the cusp of winter, the only building she feels truly safe in is the Dispensary on Staten Island. Entering anywhere else puts her at a distinct disadvantage and introduces an element of risk she never had to consider before she lost her eyesight.

The falcon's beak cracks open around a shrill shriek drowned out by the cacophony in the background, and Eileen quickens her step, unwilling to break out into a run. She's injured, and moving inside means there's less distance available for him to put between them. Her movements, however urgent, lack the frenetic energy of the mobs bleeding out into areas of the city less affected by seemingly random acts of violence and fire.

She takes with her one of the starlings rather than the falcon, which she directs to remain outside and watch the street for any sign of activity that might pose a threat, songbird at her collar as she moves to follow him in.

Something thrown has already spidered a web of shattering across the window, and a few swings of rifle butt caves in the rest of it in a shower of glass that glances off skin gone as tough as leather. Inside, it's dark, with nothing worth stealing — in the gleam of light outside filtering through the broken window, Hawaiian beaches are photographed and displayed. The Tower of London. Egyptian Pyramids, futuristic Hong Kong. A travel agency. A staircase veers off, and by the time Eileen is picking her way through broken glass, she'll see the flick of his coat as he disappears up it, up and up as if intending to navigate the city by rooftops.

"You should leave," is called back to her, echoing faintly, "before you get in my way."

It's a fracture in his warpath, maybe, if advice could be called mercy. There is a certain degree of taunt to his voice too, however, and if she didn't know any better, hadn't seen the silver veining his hair or the empathic connection she feels now that attracted her to him or knew better about the things Rupe Carmichael did, maybe she could swear she is dealing with Sylar.

Sylar is as much a part of Gabriel as Munin is a part of Eileen, but while it could be argued that she deals with him every day, she's smart enough to recognize the difference between this behaviour and with what she's the most familiar. He's dangerous now in ways that he hasn't been for a long time, and neither the pocket watch in her coat or the wedding band she wears on her ringfinger will protect her if she does what he's warning her against.

And she intends to.

Her cane knocks gnarled teeth of glass from the broken window. A piece snags her coat regardless when she passes through it, producing a tear in the material that would upset her more if she didn't place the most value in the man ghosting up the stairs.

A taunt is a kind of challenge. He called her a coward on a stretch of lonely road, once. This time she has no reservations about rising to meet it.

"Don't show your back to me."

"Go away."

Growled just enough to be heard, that last piece of emphasis rides along vicious, projected, echoing back to her as Gabriel thumps his way up the stairwell, taking them two at a time like he knows, very well, she cannot. He passes signs that indicate the businesses that take up floor space — financial consultancy firm, hearing clinic, real estate — but sweeps by all doors as he heads for the one that inevitably leads out. And if there isn't one, he will make one.

Turns out to be a little of both, a fire escape that gets blown off its hinges with a concussive blam of noise and raw force.

Eileen presses out a slow breath, steadying herself. Animals startle at loud noises and human beings are no exception. That she's braced for it saves her from flinching, and prevents her from losing her starling in a panicked flutter of wings and wide, frightened eyes.

Just as Gabriel is aware that she cannot take the steps two at a time, she knows too well the relationship his strength has with fear. She keeps hers on a tight leash, imaginary tether wound between her fingers as she follows him up, past yawning hallways with numbered plaques. Her cane warns her of a body sprawled on the landing between two flights of stairs, and she steps around it before her boot can catch the same way her coat fell prey to the glass Gabriel left behind.

No more words. They have little effect, and actions are stronger regardless. Her gloved hand finds the metal frame of the door wrenched from its hinges, and she swings out into view.

The shape Gabriel makes against a broken skyline is distinctive, all broad shoulders and height, and there's something very familiar in the way his hand is raised out towards her, prepared, and then the sudden white-light glow emitting from each splayed fingertip. The starling that sees it on her behalf won't recognise this little herald of warning or the way the air smells electric, but fortunately Eileen has her wits about her to move.

Lightning dances and frays in forking tongues of electricity along the metal frame of the door, scorching wood and fritzing out in a matter of a few seconds. Gabriel splays his fingers and observes his palm, moving along the edge of the rooftop, excess energy getting out of his system as tendrils leap up his arm before dying away completely.

"So what, through the power of love, you think you can stop me? Or do you have a real convincing argument to make?"

It would be nice, Eileen decides, if that was something she could effectively wield. Instead, she attempts to make use of the power of reason, not to snap Gabriel out of it — because if it was that easy, the city wouldn't be smouldering all around them — but to occupy his attention as she gathers her flock to her, starlings threading through the air around the rooftop in varied patterns dictated by thought and then, as they pull together into a larger, thicker swarm like a rope encircling Eileen and Gabriel both, with her own hand raised and clutching the cane several inches below the handle.

"Rupert Carmichael was a persuasionist," she says, booted feet whispering across on the rooftop, though she edges around him rather than toward, careful to maintain several meters of distance between them. A combination of wind and furious wing beats kicks up ash and soot, swirling it around her legs and narrow waist. The knot at the nape keeps her hair from blowing everywhere, except for a few flyaway strands that have managed to escape the black band meant to hold it. "This isn't a choice you consciously made."


Gabriel circles with her, keeping that distance between them. "Maybe you're right, maybe it wasn't." The ring of avian life coming to surge around them is loud in many ways, the beat of wings and rushing air filling Gabriel's ears and rusting a new wind around them that tugs at coat lapels and ruffles hair. But it's also distracting, as if they were already tearing at him, only on a psychic kind of level. Pushing back in his own way achieves nothing in the way she's always had one over him when it comes to this ability.

And other factors he still hasn't considered. "But maybe I kind of like it." A hand goes out with a lightning bolt already swimming through the air, directly for her, burning it and stunning eyes that can see with brilliant blue-tinged light. She can only keep leaping aside so many times.

She doesn't, not this time. Eileen swings her cane up as if to block it, but it's a throng of birds that absorbs the blast, scattering bodies and burnt feathers, the smell of ozone and scorched flesh suddenly thick in the air. The starlings drop like stones to the floor of the roof, dead and smoking before impact.

She understands, on some level, how it feels to enjoy inflicting pain. A part of her had taken pleasure in pulling him apart at the seams with Julian Kuhr's ability, and when she obliterated the mirror in their hotel room, the sensation of glass cutting under her nails and into her fingers had been cathartic.

Sometimes, sex can hurt too. There's a reason she hasn't stopped having it, and it has absolutely nothing to do with appealing to his ego.

She takes a step back, disappearing into the swarm. Linda Tavara's electrokinesis isn't the only ability Gabriel has at his disposal. Some of them require line-of-sight to work, one of the few things she can take from him.

Her voice is in his head again, pressing in from all sides, because she's capable of taunting too. Aren't you going to ask if you hurt me?

A growl is lost in roar of flapping wings, and Gabriel lets loose, both hands extending and fingers splayed, ten bolts of lightning siphoning from his glowing fingertip and tearing in every direction. The air is quick to smell like burning feathers and flesh, and the rooftop becomes as clear as day from the amount of energy getting generated in every direction. It's probably going to wear him down. It might even be hurting him. Not that he knows that right now.

"Get out of my head!"

He cannot see or even sense where she is, when her voice comes from all directions. Blindly, he points, and the rooftop judders with the sound of a concussive blast of energy, electricity defining its rippling, cone-like shape in vortexing tendrils of lightning that pushes birds and brickwork both out of his path.

Gabriel's knee hits the ground, jarring him into awareness that he's stumbled forward and half collapsed. But energy still sparks from him, and he's not down, eyes wide and awake and aware.

Wings and necks snap, broken bodies hurtled over the roof's concrete lip. They tumble into oblivion below, and although the building is only a few stories high, Gabriel and Eileen might as well be several miles up. A fall from this height is fatal to even a bird if it cannot catch itself, and those unfortunate to find themselves in Gabriel's path stand no chance.

Chunks of concrete crash into the sidewalk with enough force to split it open, leaving ugly cracks in the pavement. One glances off a street lamp and showers an abandoned car that Eileen recognizes from her vision with pieces of glass and twisted metal.

The tornardo of starlings has thinned out, revealing flashes of pale skin and windswept hair torn from its binding. Eileen's cane winks silver between them. Amphodynamine only enhances her ability, and although she could theoretically use it to control thousands of birds instead of hundreds, this would require a deeper pool than she has to draw from.

There's very little left in this part of Brooklyn. That includes even pigeons.

Can you get up?

Arcs of electricity continue to leap, uncontrolled, off his flesh, and a small haze of smoke is wafting from his back, singed coat material adding to the acrid stench of dead, fried bird. "In a minute," is slurred, as the last of excess energy fizzles away. "Wh… what are you going to do?" The thing about the trigger is a resistance against pain and fatigue, for all that damage still exists and impedes. He can get up. He will get up.

"Better do it quick. Because I'm going to kill you." And then he sees her, just like that, a flash through the birds, and he bares his teeth. There is nothing artful in his attack next. No display of superhuman ability, no fireworks or nuclear explosion. He's suddenly up in a crouch and then launching into a run. She saw how many times he practiced surviving falls with his new tough skin and steel-like bone frame.

For her, she is less likely to do so. He charges, straight for her, and the empty space beyond.

I know.

A starling curtain parts in two, fully exposing Eileen to Gabriel's view as she lowers her cane and places one foot behind the other in what looks like resignation. This isn't exactly the way she remembers it happening, but whether she's hurled off the roof by a concussive blast or tackled over the edge hardly matters. Her final destination and the end result are both the same. She waits until he's within range before she hooks her feelers into him, establishing a connection between only them that's more potent than anything she can reflect through the avian filter, now bypassed entirely.

Eileen has been a sparrow spun about in a winter storm, an albatross wandering across vast distances of ocean alongside a ship in which her body has been safely stashed, and a falcon with wings like razors that cast it effortlessly through the sky. She's never jumped into the mind of another human being before.

There is of course a first time for everything—

Whatever happens to Gabriel's body is irrelevant. Perhaps its shoulder connects with her smaller torso, sends them scraping over brick ledge and tumbling for the ground. Maybe together, they impact the car down below and fold it like it were cardboard, glittering glass pieces sent in every direction, and maybe he's the only one fit enough to walk away. And even for a split second, she feels it, assumes his body in the same way she's taken on birds beforehand. Though the trigger blocks him from many things, she can feel his head wound and the ache behind it, broken ribs, blood loss.

And then nothing. Blackness enfolds her, squeezes her.

An electronic beeping fills her ears, a monitor, before she can open her eyes to realise she is on her back — and she can see. The ceiling above is grey, and light comes in from some source beyond her feet, a rectangle of light — a glass window opening up into a featureless cemment cell. Medical restraints lock down her ankles and wrists, an invasive tubing runs up a nostril, taped to her lip. Light cotton trousers and a plain white T-shirt make for inmate-like garb. Her feet are bare and vulnerable.

She can see.

A half-gasp, half-scream tears its way out of Eileen's throat. Her limbs pull and shudder against the restraints, the intermittent chirp of the monitor picking up speed as she becomes aware of all these details one after another in rapid succession. She doesn't know what she was expecting, but it wasn't this.

Toes and fingers curl. Her back and hips arch several inches off the gurney, if that's what the surface she's strapped to is, and she makes a louder, more agonized sound at the back of her throat when she realizes that no amount of thrashing is going to snap her free.

Seconds pass. Nothing happens. She hisses a sharp breath through her teeth and then another and another — one two one two one two.

This isn't real. Neither is the raven that appears at her side with a thunderous boom of its great black wings. Bran's beak hooks around the restraint attached to her left wrist, and with none of the dexterity of human fingers, fumbles with it until Eileen feels the strap loosen enough for her to twist out one arm. The first thing she does is rip the tube from her nose.

Then she sits up.

She doesn't quite come eye to eye with the woman on the other side of the glass, but nearly. Jenny Childs stands silent and observing, one hand pressed to the glass, and soaking with water from head to toe. Ginger hair is unnaturally red, as if this memory were losing some of its detail and texture, skin becoming more like china and features indistinct, but Eileen has seen enough of this young woman to know exactly who she is.

Jenny's mouth quirks a half-smile, vaguely superior, before she drifts off down the hallway she stands in, hand trailing along the glass and leaving behind it a watery smear of fluid that is vaguely bloody. Disappears out of sight, leaving Eileen along with the last three restraints in place, and a door that is an inch open.

Eileen casts the piece of tubing aside, hears it go skittering across the floor, but her eyes are on the restraint attached to her opposite hand as she wrests it open. Having two hands instead of one makes quicker work of the restraints on her ankles. She swings her legs over the side of the gurney, the cement cold on her bare feet when she flows gracelessly off it, tearing the strip of examination paper that had been laid out under her back. It flutters away in two pieces.

"You can't have him," she croaks out after the retreating specter. "He's still alive."

The first few steps she takes toward the door are staggering, and in order to remain upright she has to catch the frame in her hand and lean her shoulder into it. Bran flaps after her, but she does not give him the opportunity to snag her clothes or hair in his feet so he can ride along. She's pushing the door open the rest of the way and shoving out into the hall.

Water makes a puddle on the cement floor of the hallway, and seems to dwindle down as if soaking through the solid ground, splitting into two, three, and then many; coin-sized shivering beads of water until they too reduce and disappear.

The hallway ends with a flat wall, with an aging '5' spraypainted in white over the cement, and two shadowy corridors branching off to the right and left. There is the smell of damp in the air, the kind that comes with the underground — whatever 5 foretells, it does not mean up. It's otherwise silent, until the sound of gentle footsteps reach her ears. Wu-Long Zhang is in black and leather, but he does not hold one of his iconic ceramic blades that splinter when you twist their hilts.

The wicked hunting knife is from Eileen's own memory, and he tosses it from one hand to the next as inkblack eyes roams a gaze over her, one that holds sharp intelligence and muted apathy.

The tips of Eileen's fingers trace the number on the wall, the sheen of her glassy nails the most reflective surface in the hallway after the water has disappeared. She splays them when Wu-Long makes his presence known, then allows them to drift back down to her side. It's been two years since she last saw him in the flesh.

She sees him in Bai-Chan every time she looks.

Her gaze hooks on the knife, and in her stillness Bran succeeds in claiming her shoulder, his feet grasping clawfuls of fabric between their toes and carelessly pinching at the naked skin beneath. The raven bellows a low warning, but when the Englishwoman speaks it's with only a fraction of the aggression, frayed and worn though her voice sounds.

"You know what I'm looking for. Please show me."

The knife makes a silver arc in the air as it flips between hands, Wu-Long coming to a halt some twenty feet away. "You cannot see the forest for the trees?" he suggests, angling the blade horizontally towards where Eileen stands in her Company prison garb. The soft pad of foot steps, quieter, barefoot — Jenny's shape down the left corridor, shadowed in the dim illumination of the corridor, and another behind her, a far less detailed version of her sister. Gillian seems to be made up of bare skin, tattoos, silken hair and red lips, more sensation than a memory of a person. She eases an arm around Jenny's waist.

Click. The tip of a cane bounces off the concrete flooring. Kazimir Volken, moving up the right corridor, little more than a glimmer of detail here and there— the lines in his face and the pinstripe in his suit— and more created from ashen smoke and suggestion. He stops, as well.

"What are you willing to kill, for what you are looking for?" says Wu-Long.

It's more a matter of who than what at this point. Eileen's eyes move between Jenny, Gillian and Kazimir — two sisters, one of which died well before her time, and an old man who left this world well past his. Although she doesn't see the piece of her that Gabriel carries with him, the most obvious answer is herself; stepping out onto the rooftop was an act comparable to placing a loaded pistol against her temple, and when she left the Dispensary this morning she did so knowing she might not ever return to it.

A desire for an open sky, no matter how bleak or gray, has the corridor's walls bleeding away like drenched watercolours spilling off a canvas. The cement under her bare feet remains, but the next breath she takes in fills her lungs with salty sea air. A haze of ice and snow gives New York City's skyline a brittle, ethereal appearance visible from the center of the Verrazano-Narrows, miraculously intact. Eileen turns her head to look out across the water, though she keeps Wu-Long and the others in her peripheral vision even as Bran launches off her shoulder and propels himself into the air with several thrusts of his wings, each of which carries him higher than the last.

"Give it to me."

The knife, she means.

"That was not a very wise request," is Kazimir's observation, from where he stands in the midst of where ashy smoke mingles with wetter, silvery mist. He turns a shoulder to her to observe the skyline, before Wu-Long is moving, rolling forward in yet another vapourous form, more ink through water than volcanic smoke and hazy fog. More decided. In the middle of the black, the knife shines silver before it too is part of the same energy matrix.

Kazimir is moving next. Too much agility for a man his age, being not quite a man at all. The sword from his cane shines that same glint of steel, moving in an arc to bring it down upon Eileen's shoulder blades.

The sisters aren't to be seen, but it probably won't be long until they, too, find an opening.

Eileen snaps into motion and then a hundred glittering shards of obsidian that aren't obsidian at all, but rather a flock of sleek grackles dressed in iridescent black. If sunlight could penetrate the winter gloom, they'd be shining bronze and violet, but in the absence of that pale glow, the flock surges forward and smashes through Wu-Long, cleaving him apart with its scissored wings. It forks apart around Kazimir like the branches she's spent hours spent hours following on Gabriel's back with lips and fingers, only to come back together and reunite as one as it rises into the air.

On the other side of the clouds is a rooftop drenched in choking smoke, empty if the moment of impact has already occurred, and while Eileen could risk returning to her body — if anything is left of it — it's a tight circle that the starlings make, wheeling back around to descend on Kazimir and engulf him in a rolling storm buffeting wings, slashing claws and beaks that tear.

The air is filled with the sound of a thousand screaming voices.

Jenny dances back on delicate feet as the air becomes a mess of smoke and ink and wing, but she doesn't go in for attack, her hair becoming a writhing mass of red, as if she were suspended in water, manipulating too-red locks like seaweed. Gillian is breaking from her, choosing instead to run away, her bare feet pounding along the breaking road as she runs for the mainland side of the Narrows bridge, some reinaction that might be more powerful, in its own way, than direct attack, because it comes to a world made of memory.

Wu-Long's shadows are shredded. Kazimir's sword cane goes rolling as smoke destroys birds and is destroyed by. There is no healing light. There is no lightning strike.

But the bridge breaks anyway.

Eileen goes spilling to her knees, tumbling over her left shoulder as the concrete under her suddenly buckles. A demon-screech of metal as structure weakens and she goes pitching for leaden water below. It's Jenny that bolts forward, lands on her belly and snatches a hand around Eileen's wrist before she can fall. It's dark as a storm, now, and by the time lightning is cracking in the roiling clouds, her hair has gone from stunning red to inky curls, her supermodel features shifting into something else, eyes suddenly pale green and fierce as a hawk's.

There is nothing beneath Eileen's feet but air and the river below, and a hand gripping onto broken asphalt and the other caught in the hold of a very close representation of herself, if slightly younger in ways only those intimate with her would notice. She, herself, feels heavier, different, filling her Company prison-clothes in a masculine frame, and she can see the eclipse-like pattern of a tattoo on her own thicker forearm.

The hand clutching at the asphalt, so much bigger and clumsier than what Eileen is used to, reaches up as if to grab hold of Jenny's— Munin's forearm and use it to help pull herself back onto the remains of the bridge, the muscles in her lower abdomen straining against gravity as she struggles to summon the strength, but when she clamps down on her younger self, her intentions are made clear by the resolute shape of the grizzled mouth she wears, and if there is any doubt she eliminates it by gathering Munin roughly to her and wresting her from her precarious perch.

The water will be cold. Pain will soak through their muscles and organs and penetrate bone. Eileen knows because they've done this before. Eileen also knows that the water isn't the worst place they can be.

Had they not taken the plunge and been dragged to the bottom of the river, neither of them would have experienced its transformative properties and become what they are now.

They hit the water. It comes up around them like glass shards, enfolds them as hard as metal.


Glass explodes from windshield like a spray of water, and metal ripples hard like the surface of a lake, but does not give in the same chilly way as liquid. It would take, perhaps, three seconds to fall from when Gabriel bulldozed them both over the edge of building. It takes that long for him to muscle his arms around her waist, kick a leg, and twist them around. The world's motion jars to a sudden stop, painful, and in Eileen's case, blind. She hurts but she is not dead, blood in her mouth but breathing.

On top of Gabriel, who lets out a creaking, wheezing sigh from where his body indents itself into the car roof. He lifts his head and thinks better of it, limply relaxing back with his arms loose around her, bleeding and bruised but thanks to certain abilities, not broken. The world is still spinning around his head, feels like.

The coppery taste in Eileen's mouth leaks through her teeth, staining them pink, and in utter darkness she has difficulty making the distinction between alive and dead, or dead and dying. She moves against him and feels what she imagines is a shard of glass in her thigh, producing a tight sound of pain with origins in the pit of her chest. The last of her starlings disappear in the cracks between buildings, flickering away into side alleys and other passageways that will lead them anywhere else but here.

There's a falcon, somewhere, but Eileen couldn't tell Gabriel where. With that last push, the Amphodynamine has burnt her out. Exhaustion claims control over her ability, but she's still conscious and vaguely aware of the signals traveling down their empathic link that would register as success if she had the mental capacity to translate them.

She tries to say something that's probably supposed to be his name but comes out as a moan crushed against his chest.

A vacation from being sore and impossibly tired would be nice. They need to figure out what to do next. Gabriel needs to thank her, or apologise, or whatever is appropriate, he isn't sure. The end of the rollercoaster feels marginally disappointing and necessary.

Rather than close his eyes and slip away into unconsciousness, Gabriel engages his brain for a few more crucial seconds. Enough to turn into black ink and web his matrix into her's, to grant her a strange version of the sight she lacks, and mobility that they could both use. In a lazy spill, the puddle of energy pours out onto the glass strewn street, and then snakes off and away from the scene of violence, gaining momentum as it gains some certainty.

Or at least, a close imitation of.

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