Names for Birds


eileen_icon.gif samson2_icon.gif

Scene Title Names for Birds
Synopsis Eileen's first escape attempt does not go entirely as planned.
Date June 29, 2010


Days have passed, that is the only thing that Eileen has been certain of.

Days where Samson seems to not be present, only to make himself known just when the courage to try and find a way to leave emerges. Despite being, in all technical terms, a kidnapper, he is at the very least a gracious one. Suffering from the aftermath of an improper blood transfusion has been a painful experience for Eileen, from the throbbing migraines that induced painful vomiting, shakes, shortness of breath and anxiety attacks. But the old, tired man has been there during all of it. Cold, wet cloths on her forehead, food in the form of fire-heated canned pasta and soups, bread likely stolen from somewhere, and the lingering odor of cigarette smoke everywhere.

Mercifully, with the temperature reaching into the high 90s on this particularly sunny day, the basement Eileen has been confined to is shady and cool. The sunlight that filters in through the high, grimy windows is minimal; enough to see by but not enough to warm the brick walls and cement floor. Samson has been gone since Eileen awoke, no sounds of him through the clinic, not even the usually ever-present smell of cigarette smoke.

Two days ago he undid her bindings, probably for good behavior, maybe out of pity. It's hard to say, exactly. The clothing she was afforded ill fits her, jeans too lose and held on with a belt, a short-sleeved flannel button-down shirt sized for a man. At least the socks she was given fit, and her shoes were only bloodied instead of bullet ridden.

But it's sunny out, Eileen is alone, and she's having a hard time recalling just how many days have gone by.

Beneath one of the basement windows, illuminated by a dirty shaft of sunlight, is the cart with the squeaky wheels. Until a few hours ago, it had been the bane of Eileen's existence, but she's since learned to forgive the shrill noise it makes. Without it, she wouldn't have been able to reach the latch, and if she hadn't been able to reach the latch, she wouldn't have been able to pop the window open, and if she hadn't been able to pop the window open—

She wouldn't be stuck. The size of her hips, a fraction of an inch too wide, is a minor setback that the Englishwoman hasn't been able to find a way around yet, but not for lack of trying. Halfway in and halfway out, her bottom half dangles above the cart while her top adjusts its grip on the wolf's head cane hooked around a nearby drainage pipe in an attempt to lever the rest of her free.

Pip isn't of much help except to provide her with eyes to see and the occasional squeak of encouragement from where he sits perched on the edge of a broken beer bottle and keeps watch over the alley's mouth.

If she was anywhere else, Eileen might try calling for help, but she recognizes Staten Island's Rookery and knows that a fawn bleating for its mother in wolf country would have better luck making plaintive noises.

There is some small irony in being trapped in the basement of an old veterninary clinic, if Eileen's memory of the Rookery serves her. That she can see the collapsed ruins of the Pancratium beyond the alley gives her a spatial recognition for where she might be in relation to other landmarks, and this old brick-faced building certainly seems familiar enough, even if she can't see the signage.

That placement puts the Dispensary just a short walk across the Greenbelt away, a couple of miles she could make before sunset. Constantine's old clinic can't be far from here either, what's left of it. The coincidential uprooting of Samson from that location is a snippet of history she is not privy to, however, and likely was the first place Gabriel searched for signs of his father. Like any good rat, he does not stay in the same hole for too long.

Especially not after it floods.

Eileen is so close, and yet as they say, so far.

The first sign she has of something being amiss is the distant hissing and crackling sound, like the popping of a campfire but mobile. At the end of the alley mouth, the sight of a black cloud of smoky ash rolling like a carpet through her field of view in Pip's eyes is unwelcomed. The stink of cigarette smoke and soot comes with it, and the fiery blossoms of pyrokinetic energy releasing inside the ever-burning smoke cloud is the source of that fireplace crackle.

She didn't see Samson's approach before, in his smoky form, but the smell is unmistakable. That he doesn't notice her is both relieving and frightening, because Eileen knows Samson Gray's ultimate route will take him down into the basement, and the hastening of her heartbeat isn't because she might imagine him to be one to give a helpful push to her backside.

Nausea that had been roiling in Eileen's gut moves through her heart and bowels, lungs and kidneys, and washes a wave of cold sweat over her that, unfortunately, is eighty percent figurative and does nothing to lubricate her too-large hips. Bracing her feet against the basement wall and arching her back is equally futile.

She simply lacks the strength. Most of her body's energy reserves were depleted reaching the window in the first place, and these took her days of immobility to accumulate. If she decides to give up now, it will be just as long if not longer before she's feeling robust enough to try again, but if she doesn't and gets caught in the attempt, the window will be closed to her forever.

The decision isn't a difficult one to make. The tips of her toes touch the top of the cart first as she eases herself back down a few inches at a time, feeling the sides of the window graze her flanks through the fabric of her clothes along the way. Pip squeezes back in past her shoulder and alights on the top of his cage with a cheerless trill.

Better luck next time.

The window's latch is clicking back into place as the sound of footsteps begin to creak down the basement stairs, and a moment later, Eileen is sitting with her back to the wall, cane draped across her knees.

Footsteps creak slow on the steps, accompanied by a scuffing of footsteps across the concrete floor. Eventually the shadow of a man becomes silhouette in the semi-opaque plastic curtain that doubles as a door, and when Samson Gray pulls that curtain aside and ducks his head in, there's a awkwardly cheerful smile on his face, brows raised and yellowed teeth bared. "I have a surprise for you…" he offers in rasping voice, shouldering through the split in the plastic curtain with a cardboard box held in both hands.

"I know how much Pip here has been good for you, given your recovering strength…" there's a glances up over the frames of his glasses to the canary atop the cage, then down to Eileen with a momentary scrutiny, as if he almost realized what she attempted, but not quite. Treading across the floor, Samson brings the box over to one of the long wooden tables covered with sheets. Pushing the glasses beneath aside with a clink and clatter, Samson lays the box out and excitedly waves a hand for Eileen to come over, brushing his fingers over the boxtop before drumming them over the folded cardboard.

"How're you feeling by the way?" He distantly asks, adjusting his eyeglasses as he thrums his fingers over the cardboard top. "Still with the headaches?"

Eileen's response is no response at all, and in many ways this silence is more telling than anything she might have said because it's a silence filled with the reedy sound of her breathing. Although she's too exhausted to do anything more than tighten her grip on her cane beneath the snarling grip as if readying herself to unsheathe the weapon stored inside, Pip has no such limitations. A flick of his wings carries him the short distance between cage and table to where he hooks clawed toes around the lip of the cardboard box and cants his head expectantly.

The woman, on the other hand, probably shouldn't be up and moving around. Her bandages bleed red beneath her clothes, and a similar stain coats her teeth pink behind lips so pale that it's difficult for Samson to distinguish them from the rest of her skin, chalk white, except for her eyelids and fingernails, which have adopted a faint blue-purple cast.

"I thought you might be lonely," Samson projects his own feelings onto Eileen conversationally, pulling open the box carefully, mindful of Pip's position. There inside, lays what on the outside looks like a dead cardinal. Thanks Samson. Reaching inside, the old man picks the bird up in both hands, brows furrowed and head tilted to the side, tongue sliding over his lower lips as he turns his attention to Pip more so than Eileen, as much looking Eileen in the "eye" as is technically possible.

"He doesn't have a name yet," Samson notes, stroking the bird's lush and vibrant red plumage, "but I thought you might be able to come up with one." As the bird is laid back down into the box, Samson lifts his brows up and whistles, a soft and sedate sound with a faint trilling tone on the end. With the whistle, there's a flutter and a rustle inside of the box, claws scraping on cardboard and wings flapping as the Cardinal rouses from the comatose stupor Samson had placed it under.

Rather immediately the cardinal alights to the ceiling, fluttering around before landing on one of the sheet-covered shelves. Smiling a bit awkwardly, Samson turns back around and offers a painted smile to Eileen, shaky hands closing the cardboard box as he squints at her, hazel eyes drifting up and down.

"I should get you a proper bed," Samson suggests aloud, "at least a mattress." There's a noise in the back of his throat as he rubs his chin, stepping around the table to stare downward towards Eileen, then crouches beside her with one brow lifted. Right up close, with a sheathed blade nearby, Samson is either extremely brave of exceedingly over-confident.

"Is there anything I can get you?" Samson asks in a hushed tone of voice, lips creeping up into a faint smile. "Aside from— from changing your bandages of course."

Eileen manages to lift a hand, the joints in her fingers hooked at odd angles. The only noise she makes accompanies the uneven rise and fall of her chest, but the cardinal scissors down from the shelf nonetheless and wraps its feet around her knuckles, poppy flower wings spread wide for the brief amount of time it takes to secure its perch near her wrist.

It turns its head to regard Samson steadily, taking over for the much flightier canary. He doesn't know it, but he's done Eileen a huge favour. In her weakened state, the bird with the shorter attention span is harder to control and requires more concentration than she normally needs.

She tips her dark head back, curls of glossy brown-black hair plastered to her brow and temples by fever sweat, and the hand remaining on the cane shifts to cover her stomach as though applying pressure to her wound might reduce some of the pain she's experiencing.


"Gabriel is a fine name for a bird," Samson dismisses the notion as he pushes himself to his feet. Holding out a hand down towards Eileen, Samson's thick gray brows furrow and his lips hook into a frown. "Take my hand and let me help you up— get you over to the cot— or I'll make you stand and I don't think either of us want to have to do that."

Samson flashes a smile, giving a lift of his brows as he motions to Eileen's cardinal with his nose. "Least of all Gabriel there."

Neither choice is particularly appealing, which is probably why Eileen's glassy eyes close, her grip on the cane grows slack and the cardinal launches itself at Samson's face, winging past his ear at the last possible moment. Not for the first time, her voice is in his head again, which means that she's no longer in her body.

If you have any love at all for your son, she starts, then you won't let him mourn needlessly. It's been days, Samson, and I haven't come home. What do you think must be going through his head?

Teodoro's, too. Raith. Eileen's own heart is clenched into a fist-sized knot and her psychic self black with grief, voice heavy and guilt-laden. I'm alive, maybe not for much longer. He deserves to know.

Samson's stoic posture in the face of an inbound bird seems strange, but that a preternatural sense of danger implied that he is — in fact — not in any danger from the bird at all kept him grounded. It gives him that stoic presence of invincibility that Gabriel often boasts in a much similar manner, that psychological warfare so much like father like son.

"My son has a stronger heart than your wound could inflict. I have faith in Gabriel to make due, while you recover. I'm not just going to hand you back to them… in your condition." There;s a dismissive wave of his hand as he looks down to Eileen, then over to the cardinal. "You can complain all you like, but until you're fit to leave this place on your own two feet, there'll be no leaving for you. Remember that you were poisoned, and consider just how close someone had to be to do that to you. Your lungs," Samson states with a motion of his hand to Eileen's chest, "you smoke. How close do you think someone would have had to get to poison your cigarettes."

There's a crease of Samson's brows. "Can you say, with certainty, that you can trust the people around you? Whoever they are? That you don't think just maybe, one of them might decide to kill you for whatever petty reason one day? For whatever perceived importance?" Teodoro maybe, but that was…

"You're going to recover, and then you're going to go back to him." Pointing towards the folding cot, Samson's eyes narrow. "Not a moment sooner."

Samson lacks the empathic connection Eileen shares with Gabriel and will not feel her frost over with anger, though he might be able to sense her displeasure in the cardinal's lofty posture as it settles well out of his reach on the other side of the basement. The feathers around its neck fluff out and stand on end like the crest on the top of its head, making it appear significantly larger than it really is, but the posturing does not last for long. Folding its wings, it curls its toes and settles down to roost.

Her voice, on the other hand, has taken on a chilly quality impossible for the spoken word to match and slithers brittle through his skull like a piece of silk being dragged over shards of broken glass.

Natalie's gift must have been something truly remarkable, she says, for you to have murdered the mother of your only child. What was it?

Staring at Eileen with wide eyes, it isn't anger that finds itself settled on Samson's expression but harrowed regret. Staring vacantly towards the cardinal with a tensing of his jaws, the old man looks down and away from Eileen. Swallowing tightly, Samson lifts his glasses off of the bridge of his nose. Shaky fingers hesitate at his nose before lowering, not quite wiping his eyes, but nearly following through with the threat.

"I wish her death were that simple," Samson says with a wavering tone of voice. "Being able to blame it on that invisible monster… would be easier than blaming myself." Swallowing tensely, Samson looks down towards the floor and turns towards the plastic curtain, both unable and unwilling to snap back at her as his heart — whatever's left of it — sinks down into the pit of his stomach.

He stops, only on reaching the curtain, one hand trembling in holding it half open. His eyes drift towards the basement window, looking at the latch and the scrapes on the dusty metal, the pawprints of fingers on grimy glass. There's a low, humming rumble, followed by a clatter of bricks that fall from the facing of the building, tumbling down and blocking off the window along with pieces of masonry and broken glass from whatever he just telekinetically tore free from the building.

"Natalie spoke to birds," Samson shakily says with a tremble of his jaw, more a lonely old man than the monster.

Soon to disappear as a blur behind the plastic curtains.

Pip, meanwhile, has retreated back into the safety of his cage. He can feel Eileen's fury and wants nothing to do with the emotions rolling off her or the body that her consciousness currently occupies. A cardinal is several times larger than a canary, and although its beak and claws are not fashioned to separate flesh from bone or flay feathers, it's still capable of making short work of him.

Eileen looks between the rippling curtain and bricks piled against glass on the other side of the window and makes a low, warbling sound at the back of the cardinal's throat that sounds wholly unnatural.

She'll have to think of something else, and while her body may be desperately weak, the nature of her ability ensures that her mind remains sharp as long as she chooses not to occupy it. Natalie Gray has just given her an edge.

And she has all the time in the world to hone it.

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