Life Or Death


gabriel_icon.gif samson_icon.gif

Scene Title Life or Death
Synopsis Several days following the events at St.Luke's hospital, Gabriel Gray comes looking for his father…
Date May 22, 2010

The Rookery

That it has been a few days since Samson Gray fell into a trap of desperation is an obvious thing. Down beneath the creaking floorboards of the abandoned Filatov Clinic, the father of the most notorious serial killer of the 21st century lay in what would be simply desribed as a fugue. Sprawled across an examination table that once housed a corpse intended for his son, Samson's wiry body looks more cadaverous than usual.

His spindly frame glistens with a sheen of sweat, his eyes are closed and chapped lips are parted. Dark circles ring his halfway lidded eyes and that his clothing looks saturated from his sweating is indicative of the advanced stages of his infection with the H5N10 virus. Left to his own devices, down here, it is clear that nature would simply take its course, and the world would be short one more monster.

He hardly moves, here in this darkened basement, only the flickering glow of candles perched on tables and shelves to give him any contrast and shape in the gloom. WHile the cold is receding, his kerosene heater has stopped operating, and the unhealthy chill in the air is likely contributing to the wet, rattling trill that Samson's breathing possesses; a gurgling sound of a man narrowly approaching his own demise.

A new jar has been added to the shelf since Gabriel's last visit, situated just a few feet from Samson's head on a rickety shelf. Damon Pond, Electrokinesis, it says across the Shapee-written label. The handwriting is sloppier than the others, less meticulous, hastier. It's what he'd been wanting to offer his son that day, a peace-offering to a child this dying man had abandoned.

All things considered, there shouldn't be any hope of his offspring's return.

And yet, eventually, there is the inevitable creak of stairs as heavy weight is distributed onto each one in the slow, ponderous descent of someone coming down into the basement. Why anyone would want to means that it does not take any kind of super power, waning or not, to make a guess as to who is on the other side of the door. It's without ceremony or fanfare that Gabriel noiselessly sets his knuckles against the wooden door and eases it open with the stale, rusty creak of hinges.

Slipping into the room, Gabriel looks very much the same as when he'd first come down here, in his clothes of black and the slight aura of neglect. One difference, though, is the way his eyes glimmer black in the light — or seem to, until red appears on second glance, bloodied haemorrhaging still healing.

His attention skirts first to the jars before reluctantly focusing on Samson, whom he doesn't approach, just goes to shut the door behind him to trap in little heat in the room.

The only reaction Samson gives to the presence of another person in the room is a hitch of his breathing and a shuddered exhalation of breath. It's the sound someone makes when they'r eoto exhausted to talk, but try none the less. After a moment of wheezing stillness, Samson's eyes slowly rise open, staring glassy and unfocused towards the dark blur that is Gabriel to him. He shouldn't rightfully be smiling, but the faint look of satisfaction on his stubbled dappled face is there; even if Gabriel came to just watch him die, he still came.

The noisily swallow that comes next precedes Samson's next attempt at speech, a hoarse sound that croaks in the back of his throat and is likewise indistinguishable as words. Closing his eyes, this time frustratedly, Samson allows his thick brows to furrow and the sweat-slicked creases on his forehead to deepen.

"What took you so long…" is what he's been trying to say all this time, and the look of smug amusement on Samson's face is a mask to hide the fear that any man in his situation would have; the fear of dying.

"I was kind of thinking the same thing." There's a certain reverence in Gabriel's tone and the way he stands frozen at the closed door, before an attempt at breaking loose from this shows in his heavy walk further into the room, though never ranging any closer to Samson than he can help it. Bloodied eyes scour over the weakened frame of his old man, some measure of fascination involved.

There's a low table that he then occupies — it shudders loudly under his weight as he levers himself up onto it, hands out in a here we are gesture before broad fingers lace together between his knees. "It was automatic, back at the hospital. Protecting you," he says, head tilting. "But now that we're here… I can't say I hate it. Seeing you like this."

Samson slowly opens his eyes again, staring listlessly through Gabriel. There's little emotion shown across his weathered features, ones that in this stillness and sickness, Gabriel is seeing echoes of in himself. Martin Gray and Virginia both bore such little resemblance to him, but Samson simply resonates with some of Gabriel's strongest physical features; it's like looking into a window to the future in a way.

"You have— " Samson swallows tightly, clearing his throat to try and prevent a coughing fit, "you have every right. Every right to hate me, after what I put you through." Those distantly focused eyes of Samson's wander away, tracking some ethereal point through the room. There's silence then, the lingering distance in Samson's eyes persists, seems to distract him from the moment right up until he breaks into a fitful, wracking cough.

Rolling onto his side, the tired old man clamps a hand over his mouth, eyes wrenched shut and brows furrowed. The wheezing is loud, every inhalation he takes a struggle to get breath into his lungs. But even as he's pulling a hand pink with blood from his reddened lips, Samson is laughing to himself.

"Survived cancer," he says bitterly, watering eyes angled up towards Gabriel sharply. "I survived cancer, and I'm still falling apart…"

For all that he claimed to not hate this—

Disgust arranges itself on Gabriel's expression, grimacing, turning his eyes down and away — it's not shame, exactly, but some sort of disappointment tangible when the old man shows his weakness in fitful coughing and lying so helplessly and sacrificial on the altar he's made for himself. If there is shame, it's an empathic kind. "That's something we're good at," he says, dragging his attention up from the foor to regard Samson with a kind of steely stare that isn't communicated very effectively in his brightly blood-shot eyes. "Survival."

He doesn't keep his distance over long - his feet find the floor again, and he shifts closer. "If I didn't intend to help you, I probably wouldn't be here. You deserve to die alone." This is said with the kind of weight that belief brings with it. If Gabriel knows anything, it's what he deserves — and it won't be unlike what Samson deserves.

"I assume you still don't want me to go." He stops, then, at the side of Samson's table, tilting a look down at him. "I assume you weren't wrong after all. About me. Because you don't know anything."

Laid out on his side, Samson stares past Gabriel, vacant eyes watching the way flickering candlelight makes the ice frosting the brick walls glisten. "That's probably one other thing…" he pauses between breaths, slowly drawing in a rattling wheeze, "…one other thing that us Gray's are good at." Samson lifts his head up, enough to look upwards at Gabriel, hazel eyes communicating little other than the sickness wracking his body and stripping him of everything that gives him identity and power.

"Dying alone," is the prolonged answer to that supposition, and Samson's yellowed teeth pull back into a smile at it, his jaw crooking to one side and throat tightening as he tries to stave off another cough. "Me, you… even Virginia and my brother…" there's bitterness in his voice, "we excell at ostricising the ones we love."

Slowly laying onto his back, Samson's profile looks particularly hawkish in this light, all high cheekbones and regal nose, defined jawline and narrow chin. "I hope I am wrong," he offers in hushed quality, "but…" his eyes meet Gabriel's, his smile a sarcastic one, "I'm usually not."

Lifting a hand, Gabriel observes his palm — in the glow of candles, his skin has developed a sheen to it, bright as fever sweat, and the acrid smell of curdling and chemical that comes with it. As simply as he'd entered, he goes to lay his hand down over the back of Samson's — bizarrely gentle, almost, allowing whatever this mysterious excretion is to be reacted to, blood-black eyes sweeping back up to his father's gaunt features, brown irises standing out in the sea of red.

"We can learn from mistakes too," he notes. An eyebrow raises, and he amends, "For a while."

The touch is a grotesque thing, whatever that secretion that he exudes from his pores is, it acts almost like an adhesive, sticking tacky to the back of Samson's weathered hand. There's something in that touch, something that allows Gabriel to feel the presence of wrongness inside of Samson, feel the infection inside of him much in the way he can so quickly tell that is broken about a watch or a clock running slow or fast. Perhaps it's whatever this mimicked ability is, coupled with his own intuitive nature, but it's invasive none the less.

It doesn't take long to feel the proper reflexes needed; more of this organic compound does something, form's some sort of sympathetic bond between Gabriel's own biochemistry and Samson's, and it's not as though he can cure the disease at all. Suddenly, the man dying from cancer in the hospital begins to make more sense. It is a disease absorbing ability, sucking in infection and sickness like a sponge, drawing it all into an otherwise healthy body.

Were it not for the H5N10 innoculation, this very process could've proven disastrous to Gabriel. The process isn't a long one, just a handful of minutes to sweep through the body and withdraw the sources of infection, bleeding out of Samson's skin near Gabriel's hand like sweat, absorbed into that fluid between their hands.

Gabriel can feel the virus invading him, feel it swimming in his own veins. Thankfully Samson had already received treatment for the other sickness he had, the cancer, otherwise this would have continued to become a horrible situation. These new abilities, the replicated ones, they're tricky; they don't come with instruction manuals.

Now that he has the H5N10 in his system… what can he do with it?

There's an edged sound at the back of Gabriel's throat as his awareness of this power opens up in combination with doing it, eyes going distant and nose wrinkling at the unsettling knowledge of taking on the disease. It feels like ants crawling across his skin, and when he can remove his hand, he does, tendrils of the sticky fluid stretching between broken contact before breaking completely. Lifting both hands, he observes them both, fingers curling up into fists as slow, he reabsorbs the adhesive fluid on his skin, though the scent of it remains lingering in the air.

Still, he can't help but instinctively wipe his hands down the denim at his thighs, trying to rid himself of the creepy-crawly feeling. The face he made finally dims, backing up a step from the table.

"How do you feel?"

There's still a wetness in Samson's breathing, still a rattle in his chest and still sweat on his forehead. Licking at his lips, the old man turns to look to Gabriel, brows furrowed and head shaking slowly. "The same?" isn't so much a question as it is confusion, though that Samson can even muster words without sounding on the verge of choking up his lungs is an improvement. He swallows, lets his mind wander, tries to consider the answer more clearly.

"Better," is more of what Gabriel was hoping in answer, though when Samson moves to sit up there's a look of discomfort and ache that paints itself across his face. He immediately slouches back down, letting out a wheezing laugh. "It seems that your new trick isn't an instant cure, but… I can already feel relief," his eyes angle from a point on the ceiling to setle on Gabriel's. "You could've let me die here… alone." The tone almost implies should, but it never quite reaches his lips.

"Why didn't you?" It's not the qesiest question to answer, but for all his weariness seems to convey, Samson looks to be expecting an answer none the less.

Wiping his sleeve across his forehead, Gabriel lifts his gaze from father to the new jar joining the others on the shelf. Contemplatively, he goes to pick it up, turning it in his hands and feeling its considerably dense weight. Turns his back to drift across the room, studying the mass of matter trapped in glass, the scrawly handwriting.

"I guess I didn't want another parent dying disappointed in me."

The horizon of his shoulders jolt in a shrug. "Or maybe I'm not ready for us to be even," is slightly more sinister, less little-boy vulnerable — and both sound honest, certainly. "Not yet."

Weary eyes consider that jar, drift between it and Gabriel, and Samson's lips curl into an expression of something more like surprise. Swallowing down what might have been pride, he slides one hand across the examination table he'd been laid out on, rests it beneath himself and slowly attempts sitting up again. The process stops right about where he can lean on one elbow, and decides best to not push himself. Though Samson's attention never wavers from Gabriel.

"That's another Gray trait…" Samson notes with a certain clarity to his voice now, considerably less choked sounding that he was before. Notable is the lack of that hazy, distant cloudiness in his expression, and the sharpness of Gabriel's own gaze is reflected back; mirrored in his father.

"We never, ever…" Samson's lips curl into a yellowed smile, "like to owe anyone anything." When his gray brows pinch together in thoughtful expression, he looks to the brain in the jar, then back to Gabriel. "How can I repay you, Son?"

"Good question." With a reverent thunk of glass to wood, the jar is set down, head bowed some where he studies the splay of his hand on the cap of the jar. From gawky bespectacled boy through awkward teenagehood, Gabriel cuts an adult figure now in broad shoulders and imposing height. The pale nape of his neck is just visible from how he has his chin tucked in, hair as black as his mother's fingercombed, unkempt and in need of someone to take scissors to it.

He could be someone's father himself, by now, should he have chosen to be so. "Bring back my mother. Change the past. Figure out how not be a monster before you had a family. But I don't think you could do any of those things."

When he steps aside, he leaves the brain behind — again. It's a show, at this stage, not the agonised refusal from before, just the calm and collected distancing of himself from temptation, with a bloodied glance. "But I'll let you know," is sneered, before Gabriel begins his journey back to the door. It's clear that he did not come here for a trade.

Guilt hangs heavily on Samson's face as he watches Gabriel walk to the door, but just like Gabriel he allows someone he cares about to walk out on him without a word of protest. There's just that stiff stubbornness that comes with being wrong, having made mistakes, and feeling terrible when they're brought up. Monsters shouldn't have a conscience, shouldn't regret everything they do and feel pain the way Gabriel and Samson both have.

It's easier to be a monster when people already assume you are; it's much harder when they wish you weren't.

Forsaking being propped up on his elbow, Samson lays back down on the table, his head resting back against the stiffly padded surface beneath him, stares up at the ceiling vacantly and wonders what could have compelled his sont o make the choice that he did. He won't find those answers, and ultimately neither will Gabriel.

The next time he comes back, Samson's things are gone and the basement abandoned. What was it that Samson had said to Gabriel in the hospital, laying on the cold tile floor?

We Grays only know a life of running.

Even if it doesn't hold true to the whole family, it certainly does for father and son.

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