Looming Uncertainties


barbara_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif

Scene Title Looming Uncertainties
Synopsis If something appears too good to be true, it probably is — except when it isn't.
Date April 17, 2018

Cresting Wave Apartments

If Barbara has any lingering doubts about the identity of Yamagato’s refugee, perhaps some of them are dispelled when she discovers that Eileen has chosen one of the smaller units in Cresting Wave to call her home. Oriental rugs in deep blues and greens lend needed warmth and texture to the apartment’s black marble floors and feel like velvet under the redhead’s bare feet (because the Englishwoman insisted she take off her shoes). Live plants flourish near enormous windows looking out over the Safe Zone, including a fragrant tangle of creeping jasmine that’s grown to cover one corner of an otherwise spartan bedroom.

The same perfume that Eileen wears mingles with the smells of incense, newly-opened jasmine blossoms, and the cup of tea steeping in front of Barbara at the squat kitchen table. She’s currently in the process of pouring her own cup from a state-of-the-art electric kettle billowing steam near the stove, one hand loose at the handle, the other held closer toward the back to steady it.

A tin of imported British teas, no doubt a gift from her benefactors, sits on the table beside a vase of fresh cut spring flowers with dew still dripping from their leaves and petals. Barbara might not be hungry, but she’s been invited to help herself to a plate of shortbread cookies filled with apricot jam.

“I suppose you must have questions,” Eileen says as she sets the kettle back in its cradle. “So do I.”

The look on Barbara's face is considerate, but somewhat impassive - a smile, certainly, mixed with a tight stitched brow as she looks around the apartment that Eileen has chosen for herself. It's a different context than Barbara had ever seen Eileen in before, but still familiar in it's choices of eclectic decor and deliberate spacing. Hands rest folded in her lap, regarding the other woman from her seat.

She's been quiet, though not silent, since the meeting in Kin Egami's office. Though she keeps her thoughts to herself, it's clear that something rumbles through her mind like storm clouds on a late spring afternoon. A hand reaches up threading hair back behind her ear as she nods in response.

"I'm sure you already know most of them," she offers back with a thin smile. "You'll have to forgive me if I seem… cautious." She would hope Eileen wouldn't expect anything less. "Anything is possible is an auspicious statement, but an accurate one these days," she offers, echoing Egami.

“I don’t remember you,” Eileen admits, “or much of Pollepel Island, if I’m being honest.” She selects a tea bag with a dark, heady quality to it, peppered with what looks like pieces of rose hips. The attached tag gets only a cursory glance before she dunks it into her cup. “And I’d like to be honest, Barbara.”

Her eyes turn out toward the window, past the glass, which is itself priceless technology that Eileen doesn’t fully understand. She looks out of place here in Yamagato Park, like a small woodland bird locked in an elaborate cage built from metals that are difficult to pronounce. “I woke up a few weeks ago in Massachusetts. Cambridge, where the old Institute facility used to stand. Soaked through. No clothes. Shaking.”

She uses the cup to warm her hands as the tea bleeds its colours into the water. “I knew who I was but not how I got there, or what year. I’ve been able to piece some things together with Yamagato’s help. President Egami has been very— generous.”

Barbara stiffins visible when Eileen mentions she doesn't her or Pollepel. But she listens. Considers. Thinks. Scepticism weighs heavily on her as Eileen continues to explain how she came to be in the situation she's in now. "Yamagato has been extremely kind to everyone in New York, to be honest." A genuine smile, eyeing the tea for just a moment.

"That was over six years ago, that that facility collapsed," Barbara says quietly. "In case no one had told you yet." A deep breath as she holds back from adding you were there. There's a lot of… catching up that Barbara could do for Eileen, but so little of it is good, so at least in this moment, she decides to pass on it. For now, at least.

A few weeks ago, though. That's far more recent than Barbara could have ever imagined, and is something absolutely worth looking into at a later date.

"I take it, since Yamagato knew to speak to me, that you remember the Ferry. Being Council for them." She lifts her head slightly, assessing Eileen. Her gaze is lingering - not judgemental, but assessing. Curious, but with a hint of distance. "What brought you to Yamagato? The Ferry… we aren't treated like we once were. There would be concerns, but…"

“I died.” Eileen looks back over her shoulder at Barbara. Once upon a time, those two words would have been cut like a reprimand, but there’s no authority in her voice now — only fear. She’s vulnerable, her walls collapsed; gone is the stony facade that protected her from earnest criticism back on Pollepel Island, replaced by something much softer and pliable.

Her hands, though, do not betray her emotions. She tightens her grip on the teacup, knuckles standing out against the gold-rimmed porcelain. “I wasn’t at Albany, I didn’t have the opportunity to defend myself against the accusations that I was the one who betrayed the Ferry to Heller. There are still people that believe I was loyal to Volken up until the very end.”

She considers her reflection in the tea’s rapidly darkening surface. “I came to Yamagato because I can’t be extradited here. Their security systems are the best on the continent. It’s the only place I’ll be safe until my name is cleared and the U.S. government drafts me a new set of legal papers, but I need your help to make that happen.”

Well. That's one weight off of Barbara's shoulders, and she visibly relaxes at Eileen's assertion that she knows her fate. Still, what she has to say isn't good news - sensible, though. Barbara looks off to the side, thoughtful. She has numerous concerns herself. Voicing them, though, is suddenly much harder despite the relief she feels.

"I see." Barbara gives a slow nod as she speaks, before letting out a sigh. "People tend to assume only the worst came out of the Institute. And for the most part, they're right." Slowly she looks back to Eileen. "Like I said, forgive me if I'm cautious. I know… this can't be easy for anyone." She closes her eyes for just a moment as a low sigh slips out. "You say you don't remember me, but I considered us friends, in a manner. I was… there. At the end."

Fingers drum across the table. "So, I can at least see about getting you through that process. It's past time the belief that you were our mole died, anyway. But there will be a lot of eyes on you, Eileen. Even in an age of miracles… it's not often people come back."

“Which is why no one except the U.S. government and friends of the Ferry can know,” Eileen agrees. “I’m not ready to field questions from the media. I might not ever be.” She sets the teacup down on its accompanying saucer, untouched. No appetite either — the plate of shortbread and sticky apricot preserves looks like it’s doomed to grow stale.

She takes a seat at the table opposite Barbara, bare limbs folding into themselves. It seems impossible for her to take up less space than she already is, but her shoulders tuck in and she presses her knees together. Her hands rest flat on the table’s pristine surface. “I want to see my brother,” she says, “and Richard Cardinal. Nick will vouch for my identity, if it comes to that, and Richard— I remember Richard having experience with this sort of thing. If anyone can help me understand what’s happened, it’s Redbird.”

Or Raytech as they’re known now. Maybe Eileen missed that memo.

She swallows and straightens in her seat. Blue eyes meet Barbara’s, struggling to hold her gaze because her next question is the most difficult, and her voice splinters when she asks it even though it consists of only one word: “Gabriel?”

It's good that Eileen provides a small list of people to reach out to, clearly having plucked the thought out of her brain. "You brother is CIA, if I remember correctly," is a simple enough response - she may have been keeping some tabs on Nick Ruskin as best as she could. "Reaching out to him shouldn't be too hard. As for Richard- Ray," she remarks with a bit of an apologetic inflection, dipping her head in sync with the word, "he and his family have turned Redbird into Raytech now. I almost ended up working there, instead of with Yamagato. Richard works out of their office here in the city."

But then, her hesitant smile slowly begins to creep downwards. "If you have anyone else in mind, please. Don't hesitate to let me know. The Ferry is…" Lips quirk side to side. "Nonexistent. Unnecessary, these days. Many haven't been seen since Pollepel. Died in the war. Fled the country… I haven't kept track of nearly everyone. Some work in the government now, at places like SESA or the DHS - or otherwise, like myself. Others - Hana Gitelman, as an example - went freelance. Others are helping run what's left of New York."

She lets that hang for a moment, before she takes a deep breath and hangs her head. "I'm sorry," is offered in sincere apology. This, on the subject of Gabriel, and one she doesn't feel she needs to elaborate further. Gabriel Gray is dead, and that is the… unfortunate end of that.

She has other questions, concerns of course. But, she decides to hold them. To give Eileen the moment Barbara imagines she might need.

Eileen takes it. She must have at least already suspected; Sylar’s death is a matter of public record, but it would be a lie if she told Barbara she hadn’t reserved a sliver of hope somewhere in her heart. Her eyes grow dark and her expression more opaque, more difficult to read.

“I thought there might be a chance.” It’s like Nisatta said: In an age of miracles, anything is possible. She reaches up and touches the inside corner of her eye with the tips of her fingers, discouraging tears from forming there. Her lashes flutter with the futile swiftness of a moth caught on the wrong side of a pane of glass.

“He was so stubborn,” she says, smiling in spite of the sharp, tight feeling in her chest. “So stubborn. If anyone should have made it through—”

Barbara gives Eileen a wavering smile; she knew little of Gabriel beyond what she heard, but it still is a sad unfortunate state of affairs. "We always hope for the best for those we love. In the end, at least, they live on in our hearts." Her mother had said something like that to her once, while they were in bunker in Coyote Sands, and it still rings true with Barbara today.

It got her through worrying about others in the war. It can't ease the pain but maybe it can offer the barest sliver of solace now. "I would offer to check, see if there's any information to be found. But I don't want to give you false hope, Eileen." Because that would just make it hurt that much more.

Hands placed on the table and fingers laced together, she takes a moment to study Eileen. A lot of her concerns have been around the… genuity of the Eileen before her. Her reaction to the news does a lot to ease those concerns.

But with that, there's another question on her mind. "So, after this. What next? I can… get matters started on my end, of course. Go to Richard and Nick. But what are you going to do?"

Eileen lowers her hand again, fingers curling in on her palm. She gives her voice the moment it needs to relax and reset, losing most of that tension she still feels in the cavity of her chest. “Apply for my reparation check,” she says, “and resettle inside the Safe Zone. Rent an apartment. Something— I don’t know. Less extravagant.” She gestures to the apartment around them, its polished floors and high, cavernous ceilings. “I’ll stay on with Yamagato as a consultant if President Egami will have me.”

In other words: Nothing fantastic. She holds out her wrist and purses her lips, producing a thin, lyrical whistle from behind her teeth. There’s a flash of metallic blue and electric green in the periphery of Barbara’s vision, followed by a noise that sounds like a large summertime insect juddering through the air. For a moment, it even looks like one, but when the object comes to settle on the gold bracelet she wears on her wrist, Barbara sees that it’s no insect at all — it’s a hummingbird that had been, at least until a few seconds ago, nesting in the tangled jasmine nearby.

“I’ve seen the papers,” she adds, “and I’ve read about what happened back west. You have every reason to doubt I am who I say, but I can show you.

“I can show anyone.”

"Something normal," is Barbara's quick assertion, a smile on her face. "The dream, in a manner of speaking." At least, it always had been for her, after all those years on the run from the Company. "A time of miracles," she echoes again, leaning back in her seat.

The display of the summoning of the hummingbird at first results in a quirked eyebrow, uncertainty looming over Barbara's expression - the arrival of the bird is yet another moment of relaxation for her. Which brings her to her next point.

"That's good." It's stated plainly, bereft of any sort of insinuation or undertone. Clear. "Because you will need to, Eileen. But, everything I've seen here today has done much to ease my concerns." And then, of all things, a genuine big of laughter escapes from her. "And these days, I am uncertain by default when presented with something as unusual as this."

Her eyes square with Eileen's, and she nods. "But as far as I'm concerned at this moment… welcome back, Eileen."

“Thank you, Barbara.” Eileen raises the hummingbird to her lips and grazes it with a kiss. “Time will tell if I’m glad to be.”

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License