eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif

Scene Title Invincible
Synopsis Eileen shares part of her vision with Gabriel, who in turn shares with her the secret of MESSIAH's leadership.
Date June 10, 2010

Old Dispensary: Garage

There will be periods of time where the garage is the noisiest place in the Dispensary, the sound of metal grinding and clanking, the buzz of a staticy radio to keep company, the vibrations of work tables shifted around juddering along the tire-marked concrete floor. Right now, it's as silent as a grave, save for the night time impressions of shifting forest beyond the black windows, and others that only Gabriel can hear, such as his own breath in and out, the determined thd-thud of his heart beat. A battery-powered lamp buzzing a little from where it casts nauseous light, hanging off a metal hook.

A white sheet drapes over some large and lumpy shape upon a work table, and if one were to glance at the gutted hollow beneath the Jaguar's hood— which has been removed and set aside to lean against the wall— one could then deduce that it veils the engine. Other pieces litter the floor and benches in a configuration probably only Gabriel can figure out in terms of its rhymes and reason.

He isn't doing anything. A wooden chair, old with a ribcage back and four feet planted splayed on the concrete, is occupied by him. For such a long limbed figure, he can be surprisingly compact — ankles cross, heels set against the edge of the seat with long arms curled around his knees, all black in pants and a wife-beater that fail to make his skin look pallid beneath the golden light of the lamp. Probably, he would be working, but he's no mechanic, and he's not sure what needs fixing. Concentration is hard.

Especially when all he wants to daydream about is an empty street, the smoke, and what might lie beyond it.

The sound of the wind snaking through the trees outside is accompanied by the light patter of rain against the garage's darkened windows and does not aid his imagination, but if he waits long enough, the thunderstorm that's fermenting in the sky several miles north of the Dispensary will roll thunder across its roof, rattle the shelves in the garage and the pots and pans hung over the stove in the kitchen. It had been like that in Antananarivo, too.

One benefit to the stillness, however, is the fact that it makes it almost impossible for anyone to sneak up on Gabriel, including the figure who enters through the door behind him and makes her presence known by taking that first step onto the concrete floor in her bare feet. The noise is soft, but not so soft as to be inaudible.

Whatever plans Eileen had for today, they didn't involve almost drowning in her bathwater. As a result, she's been conducting her business over the phone for the past few hours in an attempt to do exactly what Gabriel told her she shouldn't have to. Unfortunately, she's no closer to understanding now than she was when he pulled her out of the tub, and as she moves across the garage to place a cup of coffee on his work bench, she's mindful not to disturb his concentration any more than her footsteps and the rustle of sheer fabric already have.

He has none. Concentration, that is, and whatever self-absorbed daydream meandering he was doing is only surface enough to shatter at the presence of someone else, unlike the engrossed kind of trance he might go into when trying to understand the mechanics of any given thing — brains and car parts. At the suggestion of sound of someone entering, a mental check confirms who it is, a psychic flicker that Eileen won't feel but accounts for things like breathing, the cold floor beneath her feet and the warm porcelain in her hands.

And all that happens is a subtle sliver of tension of Gabriel's neck, fading away by the time Eileen is approaching the work bench. He breathes in, loud if not noisy, and his arms loosen from their bracket around his knees.

"How are you feeling?" he asks her, dark eyes tracking over towards the cup of coffee, immediately leaning to pick it up.

"Better." It would be difficult not to. The short trip between the Dispensary and the garage has left the Englishwoman's hair and skin glistening with a fine sheen that isn't composed of grease or sweat. Rainwater instead. He can tell by the way it gathers as beads in her dark hair and upper lip, and causes the material of her nightshirt to cling to her hips, the flat of her stomach and thighs, exaggerating her body's slim definitions.

It's officially summer. She's entitled.

She places a hand on his back between his shoulders and presses lips to the cap of his skull, breath warm in his hair, but does not step away again immediately after. Under different circumstances, she might leave their exchange at that, retire to her room for the rest of the evening and immerse herself in one of her own projects. They spend more time apart than they do together, and while this might normally suit Eileen, there are times — like now — when she's reluctant to leave his orbit. "You've been out here awhile."

A sip of coffee, glancing up over the rim to regard the clock pinned to the wall. It's not terribly late, not by adult standards, but enough that it's probably not a hundred percent appropriate to be skulking around in the garage, whether it's summer or not.

"I was going to go back in soon," Gabriel lies, although it's only a fib in that he has no idea. If someone makes up a makeshift bed off in the corner, he might never leave — at least until the fumes of oil and gasoline start making his head pound. He's since wiped himself clean of the oil and transmission fluids he'd slept in for three minutes, but there's a puddle shape on the ground where it used to be, a discarded towel thrown sideways and nothing touched since save for the engine's dramatic haul out of the car and onto the table.

The chair creaks as he leans back and therefore, against her hand. His hair feels dry and almost coarse beneath her fingers, scalp warm. "Was it just us?"

If the answer was yes, Eileen would not hesitate to provide him with it. Her slow exhale tells him everything he needs to know. "Everyone on the island," she says, "Brooklyn, parts of Manhattan. Tune to any station on the radio — it's all anyone is talking about." The hand at his back shifts to his shoulder and the side of his neck, thumb's edge curving along his jaw. Touch for the sake of touch. Although her voice is steady and her posture straight, dignified, the empathic thread unraveled between them is aquiver with quiet anxiety.

She's scared, and it's not something she's prepared to admit to herself let alone the man seated in front of her or the one still trying to get in touch with Teodoro, unaccounted for as far as she knows. "A lot of people died. More are speculating."

Eyes blink, remain there, half-hooded, at the idea of an entire city seeing the future— as Gabriel, unlike some skeptics, has no doubt what it was he saw, unquestioning faith. Another long draw of coffee before it's set aside, and he reaches a hand around to find where Eileen stands, snag that arm around the slip of her waist to draw her clockwise around where he sits, and then in in the same movement. "You'd think that people dying today from seeing the future," he says, starts, a rumble up against her collarbone, "would indicate that the future is inherently changeable. Some will still think they can't change it.

"They won't be wrong." Both arms loop around her waist, hands low on hips. "In that anyone who tries will probably be doomed to meet it, in the end — changing time isn't simple. But the future will change, if only because it has to. Just not how we intend. I'm just talking from personal experience.

"Unless this was all a collective dream. World's biggest prank. What did you see?"

"Fire," is the easiest response, and while it might not be the whole truth, Eileen doesn't feel as though there's anything inherently dishonest about it. She's had a few hours to think about how she might explain; her words carry the weight of careful deliberation without sounding rehearsed. "We were on the roof of a building," she says, "embers in my hair, ash on your face," because these details are kinder than black blood, burnt feathers and crackling flesh.

She smoothes a solitary curl away from his brow and forces a smile brittle enough to break. "You were hurt, but you were going to be all right." To emphasize her point, she curls her fingers into a tight fist held above her heart. "I felt it."

Felt the gravel penetrate her lungs and heart, too. The impact of her body with the car's roof, caving it in. "Do you think Sylar and Jenny—?"

"If they were on the island, Brooklyn, parts of Manhattan," Gabriel states, voice droll, to make up for the wrinkle of aggravation that shows itself in the bridge of his nose at the name Jenny. "I don't see why they wouldn't. They're people." He slouches back in the chair without giving much in the way of tension in his arms, inadvertantly tugging her closer with the movement as his head rolls back on the stalk of his spine, eyes hooded and lazy beneath a veil of black eyelashes.

He studies that smile, analyses its curve and pressure, matches it with the tremoring anxiety that hums down the line. "I didn't feel hurt, in mine. I felt invincible."

Eileen shifts her weight forward as Gabriel is leaning back and ends up with her hips fit snug against his, one bent leg on either side of his waist with only the tips of her toes touching the ground. "You aren't," she reminds him. Invincible. Her hands grip at his arms above the elbow, fingers unable to fully encompass his biceps on account of her small size in comparison to his.

"If you were in my vision and I wasn't in yours, they couldn't have happened at the same time." The trick is figuring out which comes first, even if Eileen already has suspicions. She voices them in the form of a question, gentle but succinct. "Did you feel like yourself?"

Beneath her fingers, skin tightens over the tensing of muscles, instinct to her grip and perhaps facetious showing off that he is so invincible, rr, manly. His hands occupy themselves with coaxing up her spine, making the fabric of her nightshirt shift and ripple with the friction before falling back into place. "I felt like myself," he confirms, studying her — one eye after the other. "I wasn't hurt. Not then. There was blood on my hands, dust in the air. No one around me still alive. I don't know."

There is maybe a hint of— an affectation of— shame in the way his gaze dances away, or maybe reluctance, discomfort, before he loses the slouch enough for his chin to touch beneath collar bone, breath felt against her shoulder in something like a nuzzle that foregoes eye contact. "Powerful, giddy. The last time I felt that way was in Madagascar," he adds.

"Madagascar," Eileen repeats, as though invoking its name might help her understand why his experience differs so wildly from hers. She remembers a sopping jungle, the air syrupy with smoke and humidity, the flat pain of her broken wrist and makeshift splint rubbing at skin gone raw, pink, tender. Tank treads pulverizing chunks of rock on a dirt road turned into a river of mud by the rain. Automatic gunfire and human screams a terrible symphony building toward a final crescendo in her ears.

Powerful and giddy, helpless and weak, she hadn't felt like herself in the smouldering ruins of the country's capital. If what Gabriel says about the future is true, she had better hope the government telepath who went to work on her brain is to blame.

She strokes her fingers through the hair at his nape. While they're on the subject of invincibility: "Did you take the vaccine Jensen brought you?"

His head dips down a little to encourage the paths her fingertips are taking across the back of his neck, and a soft snort following her query is a warm puff of air felt near the base of her neck. "Yeah," he says, with the italicised emphasis of a teenager caught doing what they were supposed to after all. Each hand grips an elbow, keeping her in the tight circle of his arms. "Messiah offered me the same deal, when I lied about not having any. I still have it, on the off-chance you and your Ferry need one more."

Or as a bargaining chip, whatever comes first, but it's an inexpensive commodity among some circles — specifically the ones that Gabriel might need to negotiate with.

The tight circle of Gabriel's arms is sometimes one of the worst places to be, depending on who you are, but Eileen is more than comfortable here. She feels safe, some of that residual anxiety beginning to bleed away when he confirms that yes — he took it. Gabriel coming down with the same sickness that Teodoro suffered in silence is one less worry to keep her awake and tracing patterns across his chest with the tip of her fingernail on nights when they're sharing the same bed.

"Keep it," she tells him, lips moving against his ear, her head bowed. It's been less than half a day since she washed, and already the smell of smoke clings to her tighter than Gabriel can, but that might not be much of a surprise. She goes through more cigarettes when she's under stress than she does when the world isn't crumbling around her, and that's exactly what the radio's been claiming for the past eight or nine hours. "Did they offer you anything else?"

"Trust. A scarf. 'Cut from the same cloth'," Gabriel says, his tone taking on one of recitation, brown eyes rolling and allowing a curve of a smile to dimple. His nose buries itself into the long curls of her dark hair, the clinging rain drops making tendrils stick a little but doing little to dissuade him as he seeks out that familiar scent — for all that he's wrinkled annoyance at smoke in a room, made a show of turning away from clouds that gather from the leaking end of lit embers, there is a part of the scent that is very Eileen, and therefore acceptable.

Acrid and metallic, dry, and mingles with earthier scents. "There was a meeting — some familiar faces. Including Peter." Spoken in that tone, there is only one person in the world Gabriel could be talking about, even if they knew other Peters. "He's designed himself to be their leader. I don't understand what he thinks he's doing.

"But I'm going to find out." His head tips back again to look at her, an eyebrow raising up. "There was another one doing a lot of talking. Claire was there. I don't know if she knows I'm a part of them. Magnes was recruited. Ash. Huruma," he adds, memory jogged to list her name. "Others. I'm working on it."

The hand that had been teasing the hair at the back of Gabriel's neck goes abruptly tense, twisting his mane between her fingers. It isn't meant to hurt. Like sucking down a shuddering breath upon surfacing from deep water or snapping away from red-hot coils, the gesture is almost entirely instinctual and Eileen doesn't even realize she's doing it until her nails bite into her palm.

Any righteous indignation she might feel on behalf of Kaylee is smothered by her fury, though none of it is directed at Gabriel or even at herself for not having recognized the signs — if there were ever any signs at all. It originates somewhere in the pit of her belly and spreads heat through the rest of her body, simultaneously flushing her cheeks pink and draining the colour from her lips.

Well, now they know how Rickham and the others knew where to find Liette. "You'll have to look out for Magnes," she says, and her voice sounds much harsher than it did in her head. Any attempt she might make to soften its edges causes it to tremble unevenly instead. "I don't think he knows what he's doing, either." Which is to say that Peter doesn't. "Claire's there under Cardinal's orders. She came to us back in March, but she and Peter are blood. I don't know which of her loyalties is stronger."

"We'll find out eventually." There was no particular complaint at the tug of fine, brunette hair making goosebumps at his nape. If anything, Gabriel is glad for the reaction, that implications and results line up in Eileen's brain like falling dominoes — no need for it to be articulated between them. They know.

He nods minutely about Claire— he knows that too— and eases out a breath, thin sounding between teeth. There is the kind of lingering anxiety that might be expected in this circumstances, but if Eileen knows the man she's straddling, she'll also know that it's more anticipation for what he needs to do as opposed to worry for the fallout. "Keep Peter out of what's important to you without letting him suspect you know better. Why he thinks he can invite me to the party without fallout…"

And Gabriel trails off, with a minute shake of his head. There are things that don't make sense, not yet, but like he said: he working on it. "I can find out where Claire's loyalties lie. They don't have as many plans as they do a lot of peptalks and symbols," he adds.

"Thank you." Eileen releases her grip on Gabriel's hair and cups his face in her hands, fingers settling over his jaw, thumbs resting at either corner of his mouth. She sets her lips against his brow and closes her eyes, focused on stilling the vibrations that pass up and down the line and communicate things that words can't. You can't force calm on someone, even when they're as composed on the outside as Gabriel is, but sharing with him her own attempts to curb her anger isn't beyond her capability.

What ends up happening instead is a strange kind of projection through which her handling of him becomes fractionally rougher and more aggressive without making a conscious effort to antagonize. "Maybe he thinks you're someone else," she suggests, low. "He's got no way of differentiating between you like we do, and he knows he's still out there."

An eyebrow goes back up as he considers this option, and if any decision to absolutely not clear things up for Peter Petrelli is made in his mind, Gabriel— probably does not have to put it in words. "Maybe," he agrees, head ducking enough and out of her grip to mutter it against her throat, body moving against her's in a lean forward. And maybe also the topic has depleted, unless there are more questions — he is, however, indicating that he doesn't have much more in the way of answers.

She said it herself, too — he's been out here for a while, and his coffee is now a tepid little swamp with the neglected porcelain mug on the work bench, the rain pattering a percussion against the black window. "You're welcome."

Eileen's pulse flutters moth wings against Gabriel's mouth. He's either making this very difficult or incredibly easy for this conversation to take place — the jury's still out, but the coarse noise she makes at the back of her throat doesn't present a compelling argument for the latter. That said, the physical contact is a welcome distraction and for a brief moment she seems almost content to leave it at that.

Almost. Resisting temptation has got nothing to do with feeling the need to reciprocate and everything to do with solidarity, a tentative reminder that there's more business left unfinished. "Teodoro's better," she groans against him, "and Jensen's arm is mended. We could go after him again, the four of us."

Halfway through that, Gabriel disconnects, in a sense, and though their hips meet at a juncture with her legs slung on either side of his thighs and the armless chair beneath him, space is put between them as he leans his back against the chair and lets his arms break from their circle. Hands remain resting on her hips, however, eye contact made as he listens, before his attention skates off for the window still running with nighttime precipitation.

Breathes through his nose, mouth busy forming a small line before he speaks. "I suppose that's what we do, right?" he states, with a lot more ambivelance than his fiery determination from before. The trail's gone cold, which has as much to do with passing time as it does the blanketing snow that had choked New York City and the east coat's infrastructure. "Hunt the dangerous villains."

"Villains." Eileen tips up Gabriel's chin with the crook of a knuckle. "Don't be so black-and-white." She doesn't steer his gaze back to her or attempt to draw his attention away from the window. Lets her hand settle on his chest once her finger's task is done instead, the other having drifted down to his thigh at some point — not for any nefarious purpose, but simply to steady herself should he decide to abandon her hips.

Outside, the first peal of thunder rumbles somewhere over the water, lightning visible through the garage's windows as distant spider webs, bright white and spun between clouds, still too far away to illuminate the trees surrounding the Dispensary or the drive where the trucks are parked. The wind's picked up, though, and if Gabriel listens carefully he can hear shingles rattling. "No one blames you."

His attention switches back easily at the touch of her hand, and beneath her palm, she will feel more than hear his answering grunt, subtle in his discontent. Briefly, his grip on her hips squeeze — not to hurt, but something unconscious and compulsive. "No one has to," Gabriel states, gravel toned and quiet, voice lurking deep in his throat as if hesitant to emerge at all. There's a hesitation that jerks through his musculature, before his hands firm again, and he's lifting her up, bodily, so that she may stand.

She will want to, anyway, or risk sliding off his lap when he does so himself, rising up like a monolith to her 5' foot frame. He neglects to walk out on her, though — this isn't that. He's either not content enough or not young enough to make out on chairs for long.

"I'm going inside," he says, and remembers to voice it in a way that sounds like invitation. Why Eileen would want to stay in the garage is beyond anyone, but regardless, Gabriel won't be the one to leave her here.

Good is what Eileen's eyes seem to say. She didn't come out here in an attempt to coax him back to the Dispensary, but there's a storm coming, Raith is going to have his hands full with the puppies as soon as the thunder is on top of them, and she feels better knowing she'll have some company when it's time to put out the fire for the night.

On her feet again, she glances down at the unfinished cup of coffee on the work bench, decides to leave it where it stands in favour of drawing her arms against her body in anticipation of braving the wind and the rain again. No complaint. Brisk walks in humid, sopping weather like this are as enjoyable as the smell of ozone in the air outside and the electric undercurrent running through it — or would be, if part of her wasn't still thinking about bluer lightning leaping from the same fingers hooked at her hips.

"Let's go, then. I'll teach you how to play Egyptian Ratscrew1."

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