Picking At Stitches


gabriel_icon.gif kinney_icon.gif

Scene Title Picking At Stitches
Synopsis This title can be taken literally. If you like. Gabriel and Kinney talk while the doctor undoes his work.
Date May 2, 2009

A Ferryplace in Queens

It's been a few hours since Abby staggered off to sleep. She's probably still passed out in some corner of the safehouse, although Gabriel wouldn't know. Not anymore. No, her warm and soothing Southern presence has been replaced by the clinical bedside manner of one Dr. Connor Kinney, not anyone Gabriel really expected to see again but—

Circumstances. Life-threatening ones.

Gabriel is seated obediently on the side of his cot, and has been mostly quiet since the good doctor's arrival, with whatever tools necessary to unpick haphazard, messy stitching that any cosmetic surgeon should probably be ashamed of. Despite all grievances, Gabriel is rather certain it wasn't done on purpose, just out of desperation. A doctor's pride in his own work should probably surpass any pettiness. Gabriel is just guessing, but he has a few things to go on.

His sweater has been abandoned, mostly uninjured shoulders bare for the stitch-picking, feet equally so and pressed against the ground. One might wonder that when Gabriel Gray was a child and brought into a doctor's clinic for shots, he might have avidly watched the needle go into his arm even when advised to look away. Even now, he's watching Kinney's work with a degree of fascination, the jagged stitching making paths over healed, but not entirely untouched flesh.

"You're keeping control of whatever it is that power is, right?" says Kinney without taking his eyes off the stitches that he carefully works out. The area has been numbed, but the stitches are quite sloppy, the result of trying to keep what's meant to be inside Gabriel inside where it belongs. So it doesn't exactly tickle, despite all his best doctorly effort to make the process as painless as possible.

Teo would probably hate that he's here, given what happened the last time he touched Sylar. But he has a duty to do, and this is a process that would hurt a lot more if an amateur did it. It's not quite like picking at loose threads, after all.

The doc still looks tired and worn, and the edges of a headache still ping at the back of his skull. It doesn't feel as comfortable to be in this form as it once did, and he would have preferred to sleep the day away in his own body. Duties.

Considering the all too human way Gabriel had handled the pain of grievous injury, he's being stoic right now when it comes to the pinpricks of stitches being removed. Impressing no one, probably, but he has a lot of personal ground to cover. There's not a lot he remembers about the other night, and that does little to reassure him. His free hand comes up, scratches his unshaven jaw, keeps his eyes on Kinney's work. It won't be the first out-of-clinic stitches he's had, but the first time in some while it's been actual doctor.

"For now," Gabriel says, voice tense. For the work on his shoulder, or for keeping it under control, or a mixture of both, it's hard to say. "Abby took a lot of out of me when she fixed me. I'm not sure there's much more to give." But he'll want to hurry. Not something Gabriel says out loud. His tenuous control over his own power could barely be called that and even now, it nudges at Kinney's ability, coaxes it.

But doesn't overload it. "You handle yours and I'll handle mine," he gravels out.

It likely helps that Kinney isn't using any aspect of his power right now. Once shifted, he's physically changed rather than a temporary change of form like a metamorph.

That's why last night was so terrifying.

His touch is professional, his movements gentle but confident. The threads drop into a pan with near-perfect gaps of time between each tinkle of stitch into stainless steel. He is a precise man, especially when on the job. It's something they have in common.

It's actually rather remarkable that he's here with Gabriel alone at all. He doesn't trust him - but he trusts Teo, and Teo seems to think he's changed. So he's going on faith that his patient won't try to hurt him. But he's also conscious of the fact that all he's riding on is the hope that this man is grateful for the effort of keeping him alive. The doc sincerely hopes that he doesn't regret that act of charity.

"Well, it won't be too much longer. If you ask Abby nicely, maybe she'll fix the damage I've done taking these out of healthy skin." As he says this, he works at a rather large and hastily stitched piece. Once he pulls it out, the spot stings and starts to bleed. "Sorry," he murmurs as he grabs a piece of gauze and some disinfectant.

"Ow," Gabriel says, only after the doctor has apologised, voice mostly ironic as he flicks his glance up towards Kinney's face rather than his hands. Studying it. "No need to trouble Ms. Abigail," he says, putting a twist of the woman's accent on her own name. His shoulder lifts a little, glancing towards the little dents and scratches the stitches have left behind. "I'm not that vain."

A word she had used herself. Scars. He wasn't sure if she meant keeping them or getting rid of them was what was vain.

"You know," he starts, gaze wandering before attempting to meet Kinney's. "I ran into a man once during a time where I was having a little trouble remembering things. I didn't recognise him and he asked me if it was a sort of— psycho killer movie trope. To start forgetting the faces of your victims after so many have happened." His nose wrinkles a little, shifting so as to offer his other shoulder. Where a bullet from a lover had passed through it, once upon a several months ago. "It doesn't work that way. I remember everyone."

Remembered. That's neither here nor there. He's certain of something, though. An eyebrow raises, getting to the point. "Not you, though."

It's just coincidence that the next stitch Kinney pulls out is also painful and also starts to bleed. Right. "Stay still, please." He'll blame the patient for that one.

"What's that supposed to mean?" He takes a moment to bandage up the two spots, affixing gauze with surgical tape. Arm hair is going to come off when he removes them, but the doc is unconcerned.

Probably not a good idea to remind the doctor who's working on you that you're a murderer.

He pauses a moment to snap off his gloves, scrub up his hands and drink from a bottle of water. It's perhaps notable that his eye contact with Gabriel is rare and brief. The excuse was focusing on his work, but there's no real reason not to now.

Fair enough. A somewhat bitter smile spreads on Gabriel's features at that second pull of stitching, but no ow this time. No complaint, either. He watches for a moment as the good doctor takes a moment's pause, and shrugs his shoulders. "What do you think it's supposed to mean?" he asks, without real snark in his voice. He sounds almost subdued. Perhaps words are enough.

"On the plane, you told Teo about how I threatened your life. I heard it. You also suggested I might win you over with my charm," Gabriel adds, as if to prove he's not just bluffing, "so we'll see how that pans out." His fingers come up to pick restlessly at the new surgical tape on his skin, although not actively trying to remove it. "I don't remember your face, or your name. Curiouser and curiouser."

Oh. Shit. He heard that? How is that even possible? Kinney tightens his jaw. Gabriel still has quite a few stitches to remove, but the doctor's in no hurry to continue, it seems. "Forgive me if I don't feel inclined to sate your curiosity." His tone is as bitter as dandelions. "I don't understand why Teo trusts you, but he does."

He moves to do what's clearly busywork of straightening up some of his tools and packing others away. "You can thank him for my being here."

"I do," Gabriel says, hands coming to clasp between his knees, not getting up or settling back. Awaiting further doctoring, even if Kinney doesn't seem to be. Gabriel's gaze trails on over towards the tools being sorted through, some so similar to that of a watchmaker's. "There's no reason you should want to help me. Abigail's crazy so she doesn't count."

That's not his own word. Crazy. Wu-Long had summed her up as such quite adequately, in Gabriel's opinion. "And Teo likes the idea of redemption. You, I guess— " A bright smile. "You're just a professional."

Those words are punctuated by the snap of a new set of gloves that Kinney pulls on. "That's right. I am. And just because I don't like someone, it doesn't mean I can leave them in pain. Pull your pant leg up, put it up on the table." Any pretense of bedside manner has disappeared now.

He grabs up the surgical scissors and tweezers and prepares to set to work again. It becomes a point of pride for him that he doesn't make another one bleed. The movements are sharper, more precise, and his gaze is deeply focused. Surgical precision.

Gabriel obeys. He may not be a lot of things, but he's playing the part of cooperative patient, it seems, leaning back on his hands as he watches Kinney work on the train track stitches that had held his leg together. Messy, he thinks to himself, neck craning to observe and guess what the damage behind the stitching had once looked like.

"Honorable," he comments.

"I don't want to play games with you. I'm just here doing a job. If you want to bat around a mouse, save it for someone else." Pick, pick go the stitches. Kinney forces himself not to rush through it, as much as he might want to leave the presence of this man.

He pauses only to wipe little spots of blood away and bandage if needed. But his work is clean, and he's moved on to stitches that weren't so hastily applied.

Gabriel only moves when urged, to shift into easier positions for Kinney to work the stitches out of a once ruined leg. "Oh. I thought I was being charming," he says, head tilting, ever facetious, nose wrinkling when a reasonably tight stitch is stubborn against Kinney's efforts, but pulled, as ever, with efficiency. He keeps his eyes on the work, as ever, eyes a little hooded as he struggles to keep a hold of an ability he's not even sure he can hold back. It's really only the fact Abby had drained him not so long ago that Kinney isn't gaining a new face.

Gabriel's chin tilts up a little. "All work and no play. Fine. Thanks for saving my life."

Kinney snorts. Pick, pick. "If that's what you call charm, I bet you don't have many friends." His words are bland, tight. He finishes with the last of the stitches, then tosses down the tools and snaps the gloves off again.

"I told you. Don't thank me, thank Teo." He says the Italian's name correctly. Tay-oh, rather than the anglicized way most others seem to prefer. "Keep the wounds clean, change the bandages. If you see infections, get on antibiotics." Not 'call me' like he'd tell anyone else. He starts to pack up his kit.

There's a shudder of laughter when Gabriel's 'thank you' is turned down, a smile is as wide as it is mirthless, not quite incredulous but bordering on it. With a shake of his head, he shifts to roll down his pant leg. "You're the one who put these stitches into me, you can't deny your own actions. I'll thank both of you. Or is it because you don't want responsibility for saving the life of a psychopathic killer?" These last two words come out a little harsher than the others, and he spares Kinney a solitary glance but otherwise pays attention to adjusting his clothes, reaching for his sweater. The hard edges of his words come out clipped. "Hippocratic Oath or not."

"Yeah, you got it," says Kinney. He keeps his back towards Gabriel as he neatly packs away his kit, separating used tools from unused ones. "Even if you are 'reformed' like Teo says, you should still be locked away for what you've done. And even if you aren't a killer anymore? You're an asshole who gets off on power trips."

He tosses the empty bottle into a nearby can. It rattles as it hits. "So forgive me if I don't feel like laughing it up with you."

The sweater is pulled on, hood flipped back, Gabriel resuming his perch with a creak of furniture, his bare feet touching the floor once more as he watches Kinney and his actions, his answers. Impressive. And for a moment, Gabriel's expression is a still one. As if Kinney's words had found some weak spot to furrow into, despite Gabriel's insistent prodding for such truths, although it doesn't do so much as to get a flare of reaction.

As clinically studied as he'd watched black stitches being pulled out of his skin. Then, Gabriel says, teeth showing a little between words; "You don't know me."

"No. And I don't care to." Kinney's words are dismissive, flippant. He finishes packing up the kit and zips it closed. "And from the way you're posturing, sniffing out my weak spots? You're not intersted in knowing me either. So I guess we're both on the same page."

He glances back to Gabriel, lets his gaze linger for a moment, then he goes for his coat.

The lingering look is matched, no response at first, intending to let the doctor go on his merry way. His stitch-tracks itch and more than that, the impulses to— to make Kinney stand in place, to prolong whatever game Gabriel has wandered into, to send siphons of power out towards the doctor and finish this on his own terms itch ten times more, and he's been declawed too much to scratch it.

A cat batting around a mouse with soft, useless paws, and now it's getting away. "Is there a better way to get to know someone?" is the sardonic question fired at Kinney's back. Defensiveness, in Gabriel's voice. As if he were asking, why don't you care to, but not really. He's smart enough to know the answer.

Kinney laughs, but it's humourless. There's no trace of true amusement on his expression. "You want people to stop treating you like a predator, Sylar?" Not Gabriel, and that's purposeful. "Stop acting like a fucking predator." He shoves his arms into his jacket and hefts the bag onto his shoulder. Without hesitation or a second look back, the doctor heads towards the exit.

No last word is attempted, nothing echoes and follows Kinney out the door. Agreement, a lack of argument, too much argument, can all be attributed to the silence the doctor leaves behind, save for a creak as his former patient lies back down to wile away the mindless hours with thought.

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