Lost Time


eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title Lost Time
Synopsis When a wave of precognitive visions sweeps across Staten Island, the Dispensary and its occupants find themselves in its path.
Date June 10, 2010

Old Dispensary

Even water-stained mirrors with cracks running through them gather steam on the glass. The reflection of the claw foot tub on the other side of the bathroom of the second floor of the Dispensary and that of the woman soaking inside it are obscured and the curtains drawn, providing Eileen with the privacy she values so much. Her clothes are draped across the sink beneath the cotton towel she intends to cocoon herself in when the skin on the bottom of her feet begins to shrivel and resemble the dried flower petals hanging off the brittle stems hanging above the cast iron stove for decoration downstairs, but for now she's content to study the ceiling from under dewy lashes and carefully measure her breathing while she pointedly ignores the claws scratching at the other side of the door.

An ashtray sits on the bathroom's tile floor, recently scrubbed clean with only a few flakes of debris smeared across the bottom, and these are courtesy of the lit cigarette she holds between two of her slim fingers, one bare arm hanging over the side of the tub.

There are probably worse ways for her to deal with stress than attempting to smoke and bathe at the same time.

There is a lot of difference, between Teo's brighter future and the current murky present. Three things, that I can think of.

Location, location, location.

As much as Gabriel has claimed the attic as his place to go, sulk, exile, variously, it's now the garage that has since been claimed in a manner of the sprawl of his work. He has spent the time almost stalking his very immobile new car — watches have the benefit of being small and serving only one true purpose even if it does so in minute myriads of ways. There are a lot of parts to a car. He doesn't want to. You know. Break it. It's a Jaguar, and his.

To the untrained eye, it sort of looks broken now. The hood removed and pieces from beneath now lie in almost unpatterned places across the stretch of concrete floor as well as a work table. Wires cut and disconnected, the radiator set aside, the fan, the alternator belts and— the alternator. Eventually, the engine will be hefted out with the care of treasure.

For now, he carefully directs a steady stream of oil and fluid into a white plastic container, noon-day sunshine enough to see by.

Even terrorists need to have fun on occasion, and while his dispensarymates are off doing whatever it is that they're doing (possibly each other, why would he know?), Jensen Raith is solving a mystery. Or attempting to, at any rate. The Remnant, and indeed, the Ferrymen will always need money, and with Kazimir Volken's Nazi gold missing, the next best bet for them to cash in easily lies in the Beale Ciphers. Jensen knows, all to well, that there probably is no treasure to be found, even if he decodes the cryptogram: If there was ever a treasure to be found at all, some Evolved has surely found it already.

Of course, that hasn't deterred the ex-spy from trying, with scores of books, reference material, and notes spread out of the dining table. It's the first time in a while that he's taken a moment just to let his brain work. Of course, he's been working on it for close to eighty minutes now, and he is of course no closer to solving it than the thousands of others that have tried before him. And a tiny whine from the floor draws his attention away and convinces him that, now, it is time to stop.

"Hey, Franklin," Raith says as he kneels to the ground, snatching at the puppy's paw and then pulling his hand away before he gets nipped. It's a game they play, but Raith keeps it short for now, dipping his face down so that little Franklin, the smarter of the two pups hanging around the dispensary, can give him some kisses in the hopes of getting a treat or five.

Upstairs in the bathtub, Eileen angles her head back and sinks deeper into the water as green eyes slide shut and she lets out a slow, shaky exhale through pursed lips. The smell of mildew mingles with the steam and cigarette smoke in the air, rose-scented soap balanced at the edge of the tub near her foot, and her body's natural oils, including the sweat that plasters curls of damp brown-black hair to her temples, brow and nape.

On the wall there is a hook, and on the hook hangs a silver chain. Attached to the silver chain is an antique Elgin railroad pocket watch, its cover popped open to prevent her from losing track of time.

The minute hand hits twelve at the same instant its shorter, fatter companion does.


And by the time clocks, all clocks, except for the inaccurate ones that grind his nerves, are ticking three or so minutes past, Gabriel is waking up with the same graceless jerk of a fish discovering itself to be out of water. He lifts his head from where a bruised chin has caught on cold concrete, rolling a bleary gaze up to the window casting its greasy sunlight, head spinning. It takes some time to catch up with this place, because wherever this place is—

It certainly where he wasn't for the last couple of minutes.

Getting to his feet and still remembering the smokey black sky above him, the screech of sirens and the tingling sensation of a bullet passing through his head gone incorporeal. And the low kind of heavy joy that came with it, slowly burning off into confusion of the present. Only realises when he's on his knees that he's been lying in a puddle of motor oil, like a syrup-toned blood spill. A towel marked with black grease, dry by now, is stolen off the work bench.

His foot steps increase in speed as he heads out of the garage, sending out sporadic, psychic feelers for a culprit as he attempts to mop off oil from arms, the front of his shirt. But he only feels the warm bodies of those he lives with.

Raith is on the ground floor, same as Gabriel, so maybe it's him that he first comes stumbling to. The ex-spy comes back to his senses, lying face-down on the hard floor with a puppy beating him up, jumping on his back and his face in an attempt to tell the man that this game is stupid and he doesn't like it. Perhaps what has Raith most confused, and relieved, is that fact that he's not staring at a long drop into the Hudson.

Slowly, carefully, he rolls onto his back and sits up, holding his bumped head and just taking a moment to figure out what's what, gripping the edge of the table and pulling himself to his feet just in time for someone to appear and make sure Old Man Raith didn't just have a stroke.

Really, he didn't. He's fine. Just ask Franklin. "Ow…."

Walking into the room with the kind of demeanor a shell-shocked accident victim might have, Gabriel appears in the doorway, absently trying to get his hands clean on the towel, the greasy damp upwards track of the liquid soaked into grey cotton, making some kind of irregular, geography-shaped mark up his chest. Focus seems to sharpen by the time Raith is coming into sight as the Old Man gets to his feet, Gabriel stopping to watch him as opposed to helping.

He's a mess, anyway. Raith might appreciate it. "You too," is all he says, thick eyebrows angles into consternation and hands still where they grip the grease marked checkered cloth.

"Me too what?" Raith can't be hurt too badly. He's only- stunned?- for a bit before he straightens up and fixes Gabriel with a look. "Me too what?" he asks again, ignoring Franklin's puppy-bark and demands for attention. But Gabriel is at least as sharp as his focus is, and it's pretty clear from Raith's expression that he's starting to put the pieces together. "Helicopter?" he asks. Somehow, he'll manage to make sense of this. "I didn't see…."

Canine squeaks are distraction enough for the softer skin around Gabriel's eyes to crinkle, but whatever he might want to do about it— for example, concussive blasts— never happen. "That's what you saw?" he asks, brown eyes narrow beneath his tense brow, before they shut entirely. An oil-less knuckles comes up to grind at an eyesocket, as if to stem a headache or encourage memory through massage alone — the eye is a part of the brain, after all.

"I didn't see that. I was on the street — someone shooting at me. I don't know. I didn't do it." In case anyone was wondering.

Tossing aside the ruined towel, Gabriel distracts himself with another psychic feel around, spanning two hundred feet, which, by the way, includes all directions, such as up. A blink of hesitation, eyes unfocusing as he tries again, and his balance seems to rock back on his heels and a hand goes out to steady himself on the frame of the doorway. "Eileen."

Eileen. The third person in the dispensary. "Wasn't she…" Raith begins. It's at about that moment that it dawns on him the implication this event might have for her. If he passed out, and Gabriel passed out, then that might mean… "Bath?" Raith only allows the one-word question to hang in the air for a moment before he's moving, running around the table, towards Gabriel and, presumably, towards the stairs leading to the second floor.

Small puppy hot on his heels.

Heavy sounding steps trail the puppy in turn in comparison to its skittery sounding claws. Raith has an edge of a lead and is ceded it, but not for long. There is a labouriousness to Gabriel's ascent up the stairs, as if the distanced psychic sweep of Eileen's physical state stole away a fraction of balance and cognition. Slick hands grip onto the railing, do little to tug him up further. She's still alive, is not what he tells Raith's back — it's something the older man is clearly already assuming.

At the top of the stairs, the hallway is sunlit and open, beams of light magnified by the glass windows that look out over the water and concrete drop toward the rear of the property where the Remnant docks the motorboat it uses to get on and off Staten Island. Outside, things are still; a breeze rattles bare tree branches and makes whole saplings quiver as milky clouds roll across a dilute sky much paler than the one that had stretched into oblivion in their visions, bleak and starless.

If the Dispensary were located in a more densely-populated area, the view from the second floor would tell Gabriel and Raith a very different story.

Franklin's sibling sits outside the bathroom door with one clumsy paw wedged under the gap, nose to the floor as he tries — unsuccessfully — to squeeze through. Judging by the claw marks and splinters of wood soaked in saliva, he's been at it since the door was first closed and locked.

Up the stairs, 'round the bend, and up the rest of them to the second floor. There's a moment of hesitation at the top as Raith works out which way he needs to run from there. But only a moment, and he's off running again. "Eileen!" Just in case she's saved herself and doesn't need them to come charging in. That probably is not what happened at all, and that fact is why Raith doesn't stop running until he reaches the door, not stepping on the other puppy more by accident than design, and roughly seizes the knob, giving it a good rattle while attempting to twist it around to open the door. No dice.

"Eileen!" one more time before Raith steps back from the door, although he doesn't wind up to kick it in. Maybe he's hoping that Gabriel has some trick he can use to minimize the damage that will be inflicted in a few moments.

By the time Raith's hand leaves the handle of the door, Gabriel is already there in a movement enough that would translate as shouldering the other man aside. Fact is that he passes through him, the logical progression being that Gabriel melts through the doorway with just as much ease, the door's surface giving the illusion of spilling over him. In a couple of seconds, Raith is alone in the hallway — save for two puppies.

Gabriel doesn't stop, once inside. Moves towards the bathtub, arms sinking as easily into the water as his body crossed through the solid, wooden door. There's a second of the sight of it in all the blurriness of motion, photographed into memory, of Eileen lying still in warm bathtub water, dead weight with a fluttery pulse contained within a lifeless body, hair with seaweed's motion as a dark halo, half-obscuring her face.

It will cling in web-like tangles when she surfaces, and she spills onto tile as he drags her from the tub as if it were a maw that wanted to keep her. In the next moment, a wet hand reaches out above her, fumbles with the lock, jerks the door open enough for Raith to do the rest.

All the water splashed across the bathroom's tile floors in the process of hauling Eileen out of the claw foot tub should put out the cigarette and would if it wasn't already burned to nothing, smoky stub lodged between two knuckles on a small hand covered in grainy ash with a consistency like wet sand.

The scars on the inside of her arms, the flat of her stomach and between piano key ribs where a hunting knife once found its mark are exactly where Gabriel remembers them being. With her eyes closed and head lolling against his shoulder, the only detail that's really out of place is the fact that she isn't breathing. Otherwise she could be asleep, nose and mouth nestled in the hollow of his throat so she can rest with his pulse beneath her lips.

Raith stands watching, at a slight loss for words when Gabriel simply vanishes through the door. Just, vanishes and leaves him alone to puzzle out, 'what next?' Ass.

But then, he has the sense to open the door, and Raith quickly pushes his way inside and surveys the situation, dropping to one knee next to the pair and instinctively reaching for Eileen's throat. Not to strangle her, but to feel her carotids for a pulse. She is not dead yet, and the weak heartbeat proves that. But that doesn't solve the issue of her not breathing.

"On the floor," Raith orders, "Put her down, watch her head." Don't worry, kids. Daddy Raith has everything under control.

It's fortunate for Raith (and Eileen, really, in this sorts of circumstances) that Gabriel is sooner pragmatic than he is romantic. He does not hold her in the cage of his arms in some misguided attempt to protect her, but does as told — cups the back of her skull in one broad hand, lets her small, naked form lay down on tile and otherwise— stays out of the way. It's probably strange, how easy momentous occasions such as city-wide premonitions can be quickly forgotten.

"She has a pulse," he tells Raith when the man gropes from her throat for evidence of such. "What do you need me to do?" He can fuse a bleeding woman's throat closed — as long as he has lasers to do it. There is no power in Gabriel's arsenal for getting someone to breathe again. Something Eileen is stubbornly not doing.

"Keep the dogs out of my way," is Raith's plain and very simple answer. So far, they haven't gotten in his way. So far.

Carefully, Raith tilts Eileen's head back, just enough to allow her throat to open. With that detail addressed, he pinches the woman's nose closed, places his mouth over hers, and with his mighty lungs, forces air into her less-mighty lungs one, two times before pausing and waiting, his ear hovering just over her nose and mouth, listening for the telltale signs of breathing.

Even though the surest sign that Eileen has resumed breathing will be when she vomits up a volume of water.

It takes a few attempts before the first coughs are wrenched from deep within the cavity of her chest, colourless fluid bubbling up between her lips before the rest of it erupts in a messy deluge of water and saliva that clears out her nose, dribbles down her chin and throat and sticks like runny paste in bristles of Raith's close-cropped beard.

The noise she makes bears a resemblance to Gabriel's name in that is starts with the same sound, but that's as far as the similarity goes. She wakes up to the feeling of cold tiles under her back and gooseflesh spreading across exposed skin, the bathroom and its other inhabitants a hazy blur that continues to elude focus for several moments after she starts blinking.

Her hands immediately go to her chest and stomach, but rather than shield her breasts with her arms, she gropes at her midsection with fingers hooked into claws. Wherever she went during their lost time, she's yet to realize she's not there anymore.

The dogs seem to be keeping at bay — and if they aren't anymore, that duty will have to be ignored or shifted to Raith, as Gabriel's hands go out to guide Eileen. Or simply touch, establish a present-day connection less uncomfortable or generic than chilly bathroom tiles, gripping onto a forearm, the other laying flat against the crown of her head, shifting to drag fine strands of brunette from her forehead, out of her eyes. His back is bent and knees braced on now slick bathroom floor, and steam is still rising from her so hastily vacated noon-time bath.

Mission accomplished, or something. It isn't the first time Raith's saved someone's life, even someone close to him. It probably won't be the last, either. This is why he doesn't feel terribly special for it. It's likely also why, after a few moment of running what had just happened over in his head, recording that, yes, Eileen is, in fact, alive, he's back up on his feet. Gabriel may be too relieved to do much, but Raith, at least, is able to grab a towel from the rack to drape over Eileen's body.

The puppies, aware that something is wrong but not truly grasping the magnitude of the situation, yip, nip, and paw at the woman, trying to get her to play with them much in the same way they always do. Stopping only when Raith pulls them both away from her.

Eileen seeks out Gabriel's wrist, fingernails nipping at his skin even before her fingers lock around bone, white-knuckled and trembling. Her face is already glistening with moisture, making it impossible to discern whether or not those are genuine tears in her eyes when she finally turns them up. At first, any attempt she makes to form words is met with little success, but it doesn't take long for her body to fall back into a more natural rhythm, allowing the Englishwoman to find her voice.

Hoarse as it is. "What happened—?"

"You fell unconscious in the bath."

This succinct reply will have to do until maybe the three Remnant members aren't all gathered together on the sopping bathroom floor, two still kneeling, one recovering from her near death experience — at least from Gabriel. A part of him still can't get the smell of a burned down block of city from his nostrils, while the rest of him recognises the scents of motor-oil, the sick-smell of regurgitated water. Either way it's not exactly the whole truth.

A look rolls up to Raith, one that's probably not so unfamiliar as to be unreadable — it echoes Eileen's own query, for all that Gabriel is aware they all know as well as each other. It's back to watching Eileen, waiting to see if she's standing any time soon. A hand absently tugs the given towel over her a little better.

"We all fell unconscious," the ex-spy adds, standing up with a pup under each arm, "Take as long as you need, get cleaned up. I'm going to call Teo, see if it was just us." Without waiting for a nod or a reply or anything, Raith takes his leave, adding, "Maybe it was ghosts," as he steps out into the hallway and heads back towards the stair, calling back to the duo in the bathroom when he's halfway there.

"Why not? We've seen everything else already!"

Eileen's bare feet squeak across the tile in an attempt to get them under her where they belong, and if her knees had the strength she'd be doing more than just that. What she has to settle for instead is picking out details her brain deems too important to pass over while prone: the oil covering Gabriel's clothes and arms, Raith's legs like trees from her vantage point on the floor even in retreat, her discarded cigarette and the ash on the back of her hand, the angle of the bathroom door hanging open.

Eventually, her attention is drawn to the pocket watch on the hook affixed to the wall. 12:05. They weren't out for very long.

Raith's correction saves her the agony of needing to apologize and confess what she's already told Teo in less certain terms. When she goes to see Francois about what's ailing her, she can at least leave spontaneous loss of consciousness and vivid hallucinations off her list of symptoms.

"Did you?" she asks Gabriel in a tired croak. See anything?

Gabriel's long legs fold awkwardly beneath him, hands retracting to allow Eileen to get her own bearings. When he looks at her, instead of over his shoulder to track Raith's progression, she can probably see the debate of the lie in his eyes before he gives it up while ahead. "Yeah," he confirms, a hand up to rub at his brow. She could, after all, be talking about passing out — a thing Raith already confirmed. But the trail at the end of her question and Raith's own confirmation prior to now moves him to add—

"It was like Madagascar. In the city. Except it was Brooklyn. When I passed out, that's what I saw. Felt." Hesitation, before he's lifting his hands for her to take, to get her on her feet.

For once, Eileen does not reciprocate. Whatever it is she saw and felt she keeps buried, at least for the time being, and focuses her energy on closing her hands around Gabriel's and navigating her legs to stand up in the least awkward manner possible… which still makes her look like a baby deer wobbling around on matchsticks for the first time.

A bent arm holds the towel to her, though she doesn't have much to worry about in terms of being seen; Raith is gone, Teo isn't home and the Dispensary doesn't have any neighbours who might chance a glance at the second floor windows unless you count the starlings imitating leaves in the trees outside.

Eileen does not. "I don't understand."

A snort, and then irritated, very snipped words; "You almost drowned. You don't need to understand right now." It's possible that if Gabriel hadn't just helped Eileen up and given himself a reason to be invested in her staying upright, he might retreat, from this little rooms and difficult questions and insufficient answers and slickly thick water pooling on the tile. She can probably sense it, because it's happened so many times before, but Gabriel just settles for a brusque gesture of wrenching the door open wider, letting its handle bang to white wall.

And doesn't look directly at her — just the slope of her jaw, up to where light rain patters outside and runs in thin rivulets streaking down the glass, into the empty hallway where he will inevitably dog her steps.

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