On A String


gabriel_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title On A String
Synopsis Raith delivers a gift from father to son, and advises it not to be accepted.
Date December 18, 2010

Bannerman's Castle

Outside without being outside, a late afternoon sky stretches gloomy where it can be easily seen through a caved in roof in what is a makeshift courtyard in Bannerman Castle. Tangling weeds sporting thorns and other fuck off attributes that winter-surviving plantlife might have. Smoke is coming up from where fire is being nurtured in a metal drum, Gabriel blithely wasting wood for his own warmth — and he doesn't even need it that much, not even wearing a coat over his shirt, but maybe the fire is for company more substantial than moths and beetles. He isn't actually expecting anyone, just. You know.

This space is largely social. Another hatchet-cleaved piece of wood is thunked into the drum, sending up firefly sparks of embers that whorl in the same pattern of the black, ghosting smoke. Gabriel is seated, perched on a wrought iron garden chair that someone had reclaimed from tangling ivy a few weeks ago. An artist's notepad balanced on denim clad knees, and charcoal staining his fingertips as he eyes the blank page, before making some long, sketchy, swooping impressions of grimy dark.

It's difficult to tell if he's using a power or just. Drawing. His eyes are his own, but his demeanor is trance-like.

The fire may not be roaring, but the crackle of burning wood isn't lost to the ears. Neither is the thunk of wood being sacrificed in the name of defying mother nature. Maybe part of the reason that Raith approaches the source of the sound, not wandering but rather, very deliberately, is to tell whoever is responsible for this what's what, and force them to stop. Maybe he's looking for some warmth to stand around and chat for a bit. Whatever his reason for investigating may have been, however, it's pushed aside when he sees that Gabriel is the one responsible: Now, he has an entirely different reason for approaching.

There is nothing in any way secretive about his arrival. His boots echo off the floor, his pace is even and not rushed, and he doesn't even look terribly upset. This itself may be cause for concern. "That's one way to keep things merry and bright," the ex-spy says casually, "Easier than stringing up lights, if you ask me." Taking action as if, perhaps, he had been expected, he walks up alongside the other man and spends a few moments simply observing him.

Gabriel doesn't look up until he has to — which is apparently, at a midpoint through Raith's first words to him. His etchings on the paper suggest metallic shininess, something glowing, but the details are as obscure to the naked eye as they are to the artist, whose brow is creased in some puzzlement, drawing tool of choice rotated thoughtfully between his fingers. "It's true, I was trying to be festive," is delivered flatly, before applying charcoal to page again. A spiny quality to the shape he makes, vaguely skeletal.

Maybe fleetingly familiar to Raith as something he saw in Argentina, once or twice, but not to Gabriel, who doesn't look up for the man's opinion — the image is incomplete, anyway.

Vaguely skeletal, fleetingly familiar, but ultimately of no consequence to Raith. At least, not now. Whether or not Gabriel was actually trying to be festive, likewise, is of no consequence. Fewer and fewer things are: Being stuck on an island can do that to a man. "I've been looking for you," the ex-spy says after a moment more, "For whatever reason, you haven't been easy to find. I was starting to think you were avoiding me. Hope I can have a few moments of your time."

It's of no consequence to Gabriel either, apparently, as he crumples up paper into a loose ball and tosses it overhand in the vague direction of the fire. Manages not to miss, even, flames licking it black and curling even before it disappears passed the rim. "I kind of killed a lot of people, on the 8th of November," he says, wrinkling his nose at accidental charcoaly smeared fingerprints on his next new page, more annoyed at that than he is the smear of black next to his nose.

He shifts where he sits, crossing a leg over the other for a better position that favours his posture. "Not really my fault but you know. Still. I've been laying low. Did you want to talk about Nick York and Odessa?" It's a guess, but one that Gabriel clearly imagines to have a yes as an answer.

"Sure. Later." It's a rare occasion that Raith wants to tak about things 'later.' Generally, at least. "See, I have a slight problem of a different sort. I have something to give to you, at the request of a certain someone I had an encounter with a small while back." Much as Gabriel shifts where he sits, Raith shifts where he stands, moving his weight more onto his right leg than his left. "Someone that neither one of us had seen for a little while, and that I definitely was not expecting to see ever again."

Oh. Now Raith has Gabriel's less divided attention, tilting his stare up from blank page to regard the older man, dark brows coming to knit together. The crackle of fire and the silence of the night fill up the space where Gabriel might be replying, but obviously the serial killer does not see the need to vocalise what an expectant, quizzical look can communicate. And ever-wary, ever-paranoid.

Rather than answering the obvious question immediately, Raith opts to reach inside of his coat and extract whatever it was that he was asked, or perhaps even told to give to Gabriel. He doesn't pass it over, but rather her opens his hand and allows it so tumble free, caught in mid-air by the small length of faded, indigo yarn pinched between his thumb and index finger.

The thing is a figurine, a small bird carved from wood with a free hand. The paint on the surface, matching the color of the yarn and perhaps vibrant once is faded from age. In spots here and there, the paint has come off in small chips, exposing the grain of the wood underneath. To Jensen Raith, this is all that it is: A carved, wooden figurine that was perhaps not as well taken care of as it could have, should have been. To Gabriel Gray, it is perhaps something more familiar, and more sinister than this.

Whatever the ultimate reaction, Raith says nothing so much as a single word. If Gabriel realizes the significance of this object, the ex-spy expects to be told if the other man feels it immediately necessary.

Gabriel's mouth parts, but he doesn't immediately speak, caught staring at the humble item with a look of vague incomprehension. Not because he doesn't know its significance — everything else about him communicates that he sure does — but because— Raith shouldn't have it. The man that must have given it to him shouldn't know to give it at all. But there it is, by magic. He breathes in sharply, lets air out with more leisure, and sets aside charcoal and paper both.

Not to take it. His hands lace between his knees, and his pitches his stare for the fire. "Samson."

"Samson." Raith's echoing of Gabriel statement has nothing whatsoever to do with reinforcing comprehension. It is merely to confirm what Gabriel already knows. When he shows disinterest in the object, Raith pockets it once again. It's no bench that the other man sits on; only a chair big enough for one. And so, Raith settles for approaching the final few feet and crouching next to it. It's the easiest way to put himself close to Gabriel's eye level. Asking 'what's it mean?' comes to his mind, but he doesn't ask it. Instead, he settles for another, somewhat less personal question: "What's he want?"

A subtle, unconscious tilt to Gabriel's body reads as defensive and secretive, but not on purpose. "To talk to me," he says after a few seconds of eyeing the fire, painting gold on what encroaching moonlight would have otherwise lined with silver. There's a defeated sort of confidence in this assertion, but second guessing is immediate, brows tensing before he looks towards Raith, matching lowered gaze in a sort of searching stare, as if the older man might somehow have the answers. He does, after all, have the bird figurine.

"Or to trap me, get revenge, sell me out. It all amounts to the same thing, probably — I can take him in a fight."

"Maybe you can," Raith agrees. But he only agrees for a moment. "Maybe he knows you can take him in a fight, and has no intention of luring you into one. Maybe it's a way to get the Institute off his back. There's a long list of maybes here. But here's three definites. It's definite that this is bait. And it's definite that taking it, is a bad idea." He never said Gabriel isn't up to the challenge: Just that accepting it isn't the smart thing to do. "And it's definite that you don't have to take it. He doesn't know where we are, doesn't have anything to leverage against you. He's just waving his arms trying to get your attention, and you can just ignore him."

Gabriel tilts his head a little, as if ridding himself of a neck cramp or trying to lose the tension that's developed there over the course of the last few minutes. "Yeah. I guess that would be the smart thing to do," he agrees, his voice as bland as unsalted oatmeal, hand coming to scritch through dark, slightly damp hair. It's difficult to tell the sincerity, there, but one might imagine that if Gabriel had argument worth sharing, he'd surely share it. "How did it happen? What did he say to you?"

The 'smart thing' is not something that Gabriel has a habit of doing. Raith has the same problem, truthfully. Maybe that's why he understands the pull of not doing the smart thing. "Breakneck Road," he answers, "Last month, when we surprised a government convoy. Samson was there for his own reasons, cleared off without doing any damage to us. He said to give it to you, say who it's from." And then, as if remembering something less important than that, he adds, "And that he'd be watching. Knew he wouldn't be." How could he? Samson would have to know where they are, first.

A glance communicates that Gabriel doubts the validity of being so sure of that. It's his father, after all. "He found a top secret government prisoner transport, and we've already had a few security compromises." He's doing that voice. That mildly condescending tone when it comes to issues most Ferry, with their fancy security breaches and adorable militia and soaking up all their money and time and what have you. Blinks once, innocently, but any trace of mockery is gone from his eyes, already doubling back towards his own problems.

"I guess you're not the only one having a hard time finding me. Good news." He leans to pick up his artist's pad from the ground, piece of charcoal, though doesn't go back to prophetic doodling just yet — keeps these items close instead. "Odessa told Nick York to tell you that someone wanted to talk to me at the library.

"This was a little while ago. Coincidental."

"I don't believe in coincidences. Not right now." Crouching isn't working out anymore, and even if it was, Gabriel's attention has moved again. Raith stands back up. "Let's get two more things out of the way," he says, "I can't stop you from going. Both of us know this. Just like both of us know that even if I can't stop you, I'm still going to try to stop you, because the alternative is a decision I don't want to live with. If I don't stop you from taking the bait-" For what, exactly, is left vague- "And things nosedive, then I'll have all the satisfaction anyone could possibly hope to have in knowing that my lack of action cost me a friend." A pause, just for a moment, just for effect. "And, broke Eileen's heart. So, I'm asking you." Deliberately, Raith grips Gabriel's shoulder, a slight but firm squeeze to underscore the sincerity in his voice that is nothing if not genuine.

"Don't take the bait."

There's a twitch at Gabriel's mouth — on a dog, that might mean Raith got close to getting bit, the serial killer's natural response to things that sound like emotional manipulation. But it isn't — or it isn't enough that any actual snarling happens, just stony silence and consideration, his shoulder solid beneath Raith's hand, and unrelenting. "I'll take that into consideration." This potentially sounds like an assholeish thing to say — but coming from Gabriel, it's possibly the most one can hope for, an honest admission as to what he can and can't do.

He might even do as he's told.

And really, that's the best that Raith can hope for. And that is why he doesn't push the issue any further. He has literally done everything that he can at this point. Releasing the other man's shoulder, he states simply, "You should see her," then adding, "Don't stay out too late," before he turns and begins making his way back inside to long for simpler days, when it was just the four of them in the dispensary on Staten Island, playing by the rules they set for themselves, refusing to obey the law out of choice rather than necessity. The days before, as the saying goes, 'shit got real.'

Those were the days.

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