My Mistake


eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif

Scene Title My Mistake
Synopsis Gabriel discovers that his arrangement with Sarisa is not all it's cut out to be.
Date November 24, 2009

The USS George Washington, International Waters

Most people stationed on aircraft carriers don't get their own room. Eileen does not, however, fall under the category of 'most people' — and neither do any of the others whose have either volunteered to be here or were strong-armed into it. That said, the living space she's been assigned is so small it can only fit two people without jostling arms and legs and tangling limbs — there's just enough room for her bunk, a section of metal floor to change in and out of her clothes, and a built-in desk that doubles as a storage area for any personal belongings she might have been allowed to bring along on this excursion.

As it happens, there are a few. Her pocket watch sits on her pillow, gleaming silver, the room's fluorescent lights reflecting off its glass face so she can keep an eye on the time as she packs her duffle bag with a spare change of clothes, and then another pressed down atop that to make room for a notebook with a durable leather cover fastened in place by a metal clasp and a standard issue first-aid kit, unmarked but for the red cross in the upper right-hand corner as well an English-to-Malagasy dictionary and its companion, a French-to-English dictionary in case the first fails.

Team Bravo is lucky Madagascar has three official languages. It increases their chances of being understood.

Gabriel didn't have to hit Sarisa against the wall before she'd told him where he had to go to get what he wanted/needed. However that dichotomy works, something of a Venn diagram. That he has to find her is confusing, but not enough so that he has to take apart the parts and analyse it. They move so strangely, these two, that coming together and breaking apart is not only the natural rhythm of things, but also a force of nature over which they have no true control.

There isn't much in the way of introduction. Gabriel is just there, filling her doorway, after what would have been the ordinary sounds of a passerby cease their paces. His hands rest on either side of the frame, head canted mostly due to his height and the squat doorway.

Finally, he says, "We turned on each other likes wolves when you disappeared. You'd have been angry at us."

It's easy to ignore someone when you're in a room full of people and expected to give your attention to somebody else. It's considerably more difficult when you're alone in a room with that someone, and he's addressing you directly while blocking your only route of escape. At the sound of Gabriel's voice, Eileen stops what she's doing and smoothes her hands over the topmost layer of clothing, ironing out the wrinkles from the fabric under her palms. Although she'd never admit it — to herself or anyone else — keeping her clothes as prim and pressed-looking as possible is not at all the motivation behind the gesture.

As long as her hands are occupied and moving, they will not tremble with the nervous energy she feels tingling throughout the rest of her body, and as long as her hands don't tremble, neither will her voice when she asks without looking directly at him, "We?"

He sidles into the room, enough so that one shoulderblade can rest back against the wall. There's escape, there - about a foot of space where his body isn't still occupying the entrance, but Gabriel wasn't intending to need to block the way, anyway. "The others," he clarifies, or thinks he does, brisk and flippant. "We thought it was Teo's fault, Raith called us morons, and in the end, none of us were right. But it's hard not to be wrong in that kind of situation."

And he's not meeting her gaze, but not for a lack of trying. It's Eileen's grey-green that remains elusive, untouchable. "What did they tell you?"

There's a stiffening in Eileen's neck and shoulders, discomfort camouflaged beneath her cargo jacket and the weave of the wool sweater she wears under it. And yet camouflage, by its very definition, only conceals so much; her uneasiness is comparatively apparent in the creaky way she cranes her neck to look back over her shoulder at him as much as their positions will allow, which fortunately for her that isn't much. All Gabriel can see of the woman's face is a pale sliver of jawbone peeking out from behind a curtain of dark and curly hair, and the shimmer of her iris caught in the wan glow of the lights above.

"I'm sorry," she says, flicking her eyes back to the duffle as she pinches two fingers around the zipper and drags it shut. "It's been a long time. I thought I'd be ready for this, but I'm not. I'm—" The word she's looking for must be as elusive as her gaze, because she hisses out a thin breath through her nose instead of completing that sentence.

Dissatisfied with her previous answer, she offers a different one. "Everything's a little confusing right now."

Apologies come easily when Gabriel isn't looking for one. He gets them other times also, but it's like the breaking of a dam. He's certainly not battering at her now, though brown eyes narrow beneath his tense brow, as much as his posture remains casual. "What aren't you ready for? Going after the Vanguard?" A brisk and assessing look takes in the modest room, as if hunting for cameras and listening devices that aren't there.

"We could go. They'll hunt us as hard as they're hunting the rest of them, but if you wanted, we could leave and never look back. We could go anywhere."

The sound of Eileen's voice catching in her throat is clearly audible from where Gabriel is standing, and if Arthur Petrelli hadn't taken his wolf's ears from him he'd be able to detect the quickening of her pulse as well. There are other signs, some more obvious and some less, but all of them are familiar from a gently curving mouth, lips slightly parted, to the tension making a metal rod of her back. She gets this way when he catches her off-guard, and it isn't always a bad thing, although her surprise is usually counterbalanced by another emotion, be it desire, frustration, or even a desperate combination of the two made physical.

Today, for whatever reason, it's circumspection. Almost as if she isn't sure she heard him correctly — or if she did, whether or not he's just playing with her. "You and me?"

There's an awkward selfconscious silence that descends on them. Old habit. Gabriel is rarely selfconscious anymore but her confusion somehow lands him back perhaps four years ago, dark eyes owlish and mouth in a line as much as his jaw his steely, gaze swiveling away from her and the back again. He didn't expect her to agree. But of all the questions she might have asked, the criticisms in his non-plans, the doubt— that wasn't exactly the questioned he pictured being on the tip of her tongue.

"Ethan isn't going to be kicking in any doors, being probably in Russia by now. Raith can take care of himself. I don't know where Teo is. Yes, me and you." Irritation makes his voice sharper, now, needling.

It's the second time Gabriel has mentioned Teodoro Laudani and Jensen Raith by name. When he'd done it before, Eileen was facing away from him, making the porcelain mask that is her face impossible to get a reading on. This time, enough of her profile is visible to discern its features. She hadn't been lying to him or misrepresenting herself when she told him she was confused.

"I don't know what you've been doing while I was gone," she says, "and I don't know why Laudani would care, or how you even know Jensen, but isn't this the sort of conversation you should be having with someone else?" While she doesn't specify who that someone else might be, the words are spoken very heavily, and the burden of saying them out loud seems to physically weigh on her like a lead shroud.

Staring. He's staring at her. Gabriel's jaws remember some dignity and keep him from having his mouth hang open dimly as— too slow— puzzle pieces click into place in a perfect formation he knows well. The hand that had come again to rest on the frame of the door tightens some as electrical tension crackles all around the serial killer. Eventually, in a tone where concrete blocks would be easier to carry, he says, "My mistake," while raising one eyebrow.

A switch is flicked in the way his gaze suddenly shifts from there, his body restless and in motion as he takes his weight off the wall. Sylar is abruptly himself again, and even the hesitance in his voice that follows is more affectation than true uncertainty. "How— long have you been gone?"

Eileen would be better with math if she had a calculator or an abacus. It takes her several moments to work the numbers in her head, mentally ticking them off on imaginary fingers. "It's November," she says in conclusion. "I don't know. Nine, ten months? Sometimes it's hard for me to remember things. I was hooked up to a respirator for most of it."

She doesn't like the way he's staring at her, and she doesn't like the fact she'd almost finished packing by the time he walked in. Her fingers turn one of her rings around her knuckle, head bowed and eyes downcast. "They told me you'd probably drowned. Ethan, too."

Too easy to shake her like a ragdoll until sense is knocked into her sooner than whiplash. For a moment, disbelief wars with the visible urge to do just that in the angles of his expression, before he tames it a second time. More or less. There is a flatness in his eyes that conceals more than it shows, and Gabriel takes a wandering step back into the corridor without looking where he's going.

"It's been a long year."

This isn't exactly Sarisa keeping up her end of the bargain. Irrational anger has him drawing away like some kind of gravitation pull, the urge to fix certainly there and knowing that the tools to do it aren't in the room. Probably. "You weren't exactly climbing over people to welcome me back from the dead," is sort of a masochistic question that he manages to turn into a statement.

Whether it's a question, a statement or something more, Eileen reads it as an accusation — no matter how implicit — and responds at first by turning to look at him for the first time. Not a cursory glance like the one she'd given him during their briefing, that sly attempt to confirm his identity from behind a protective veil of dark lashes. Not a haphazard peek shot over her shoulder at his silhouette looming in the door. As her head swivels, so does her whole body, and when she seeks out his face with her eyes she doesn't shy away upon finding them.

Something's changed. Between his setting foot in the room and now, something's changed. A flush rises up from her neck, infusing her cheeks with colour. "You saw me," she says, earnest now. "You saw me, and you didn't do anything either. Sylar—"

That name can act like the cracking of a palm across a face, or a knife twist, or— dumb bluntness that confirms his suspicions with as much grace as a ramming log. Gabriel's expression shuts down even more, steel and ice under flesh, and he casts an irritated look down the hallway. "I came here because of you." He knows he's only catching sparks with used flint, not enough. Not enough explanation but what good would it do?

"I'll see you later." He's reaching out a hand to bat the door closed, although doesn't follow through with it anymore than that. Too busy briskly walking away, his mind already gone from Eileen who is not really Eileen right now and so therefore, her feelings are all but irrelevant. If he crushes them underfoot like glass littering the pristine ship corridor, he doesn't deign to notice.

Eileen pursues him as far as the hallway and that is all. Her hands catch the door on his way out, small figure huddled in the frame as she watches his retreating back in bewildered silence. Whatever feelings she's experiencing, she keeps them close to her heart and holds her breath to keep her emotions contained with the same tightness and ferocity that she's clutching the handle.

Sarisa told Gabriel that he could have her back. She never stipulated the condition she'd be in.

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