eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif

Scene Title Probably
Synopsis Gabriel is the bearer of bad news involving Teodoro Laudani.
Date July 20, 2010

Old Dispensary

There are more pleasant sounds to come home to than the sporadic crackle of gunfire erupting in intermittent bursts from behind the Dispensary. This said, it's no cause for concern; the shots are spread far enough apart that it isn't unusual for several minutes to elapse between them, establishing a relaxed if irregular pattern.

Toward the back of the property, swathed in poison ivy and thick green vines, an old barbwire fence is being used for target practice. Or perhaps more accurately: the glass bottles balanced on the fence's rotten wood posts are. A pair of leather boots protects Eileen's feet and calves from the thorny foliage but do little to shield her legs themselves, and although she should probably be wearing a pair of jeans, she's opted for one of her summer dresses instead, a flimsy ivory thing worn under a coat that's almost as long as the garment beneath it is and fashioned from lightweight wool. The ensemble isn't something she could get away with during the sweltering afternoon, but now that the sky has begun to grow dark, coaxing the fireflies and mosquitos out of hiding, she wears it comfortably.

A goshawk sits perched on the post furthest from where the Englishwoman is standing, her pistol leveled with one of the bottles. When she squeezes the trigger and the bullet blows off a chunk of wood instead of shattering glass, the raptor does not even flinch.

The same cannot be said of the starlings trembling with anxiety in the nearby trees. Eileen is learning to do everything again — that includes firing a weapon.

Shimmering through avian presence like a ripple traveling the surface of the water, Gabriel's presence heralds his visibility and strikes chords in Eileen's field of animal empathy. If the birdsare the weaving lilypads on the once calm water, then Gabriel is the reptillian presence beneath the surface, sloshing through serenity and disturbing the smoothly still surface tension. There is a sinuousness in his movements now, too — through the dense greenbelt terrain, the familiar black ink that was once so associated with the dead man it was copied from now betrays him as Gabriel Gray, winding through green and towards her location.

In sight from the goshawk, the shapeless swatch of black seems to roll and open up into producing Gabriel's lanky frame of long limbs, bare armed and overtired, with what seems to be an automatic rifle likely not owned by him hanging from a strap, strapped to his back.

While they might look identical with the exception of scars and the ink under Gabriel's skin, Eileen will never mistake him for Sylar again. This does not make her immune, however, to the tension that winds through her small frame in the instant she first becomes aware of him in her periphery. Only when he's taking shape does she truly relax, and even then her rigid posture does not immediately change.

Instinct has her turning her head to look even though it's the goshawk's eyes that take him in and catch on the strap slung across his shoulder and the glint of gunmetal behind it. It occurs to her, then, that maybe she should have demanded specificity when Teodoro told her that Gabriel was doing him and his family a favour.

Her thumb slides across the weapon's safety. She's lowering it a moment later. "Welcome home."

He doesn't really look like he's been in Sicily, to be honest, but it's hard to tell, with Gabriel. He also doesn't look like he's slept or bathed or probably eaten very well in the last twenty four hours, stubble grown to a bristle along his jaw and down his neck, bruises colouring his arms and dirt under his nails. It would be more attractive if it was less genuine. "Teo's gone," is his hi honey right back at her, once he's in hearing range, eyes focused on her glassy gaze for all that he can tell that it's the goshawk that's watching him. "Masked soldiers, tasers, guns, negation gas."

Which is as good an indication as any about who they might be dealing with. "If they were after me, they might have tried harder. As it happens, I think they got what they wanted. Where's Raith?"

There's a lot of bravado, is probably the first thing Eileen can tell. Mission-focused snappy dialogue is a good mask for quiet fear and some obtuse form of shame for being the sole survivor of some kind of scuffle and little to show for it save for the evidence that he's probably been hiding.

Teo's gone is a step up from Teo's dead. This isn't the first thought that snaps to the front of Eileen's mind; if it was, the chalk-pale skin of her face wouldn't go even paler, and her lips wouldn't be thinning out into a fine, sharp line. As her gun disappears into her coat, a series of swift, purposeful strides closes the distance that remains between herself and Gabriel, her booted feet crunching through the undergrowth and broken shards of glass that had been, until fairly recently, under snow.

On any other day, the noise would serve as reminder that the last person to use the fence as a shooting range is no longer with them and hasn't been since the end of Apollo, but it's not Ethan's absence that Eileen should be preparing to mourn.

Her hands seek Gabriel's face, one seizing his chin while the other puts itself in a position to cradle his jaw while she uses the tips of her fingers to confirm what the goshawk can see and searches the contours of his cheeks, nose and brow for injuries that a cursory examination might have missed.

"Out," she tells him, and her tone is even brusquer and more terse than his. "Where were you and when did this happen?"

She gets three good seconds of having her hands be granted freedom to roam, until Gabriel is ducking away from the touches, a hand clenching around the strap of the gun he carries. "The abandoned academy," he responds. "Yesterday, in the afternoon. They ambushed us and I managed to get away after we took down two of them — I got out a window, free of the smoke, and took off. By the time I came back, there wasn't anyone there at all — no soldiers, and they were both gone. They move fast and they cover their tracks."

There was a crucial verbal error in there, but like Gabriel pointed out to Teo — it's not his secret.

"I don't know how they found us, so I hid out at the house by the river. I figured if they could come looking, a known location might make it easy for them. No one did, so I came back."

They were both gone, Gabriel says, and the cadence of Eileen's breathing changes, though it isn't clear whether she's picked up on the slip or if the reality of the situation has finished sinking in. Either way, she makes no attempt at extracting additional answers. Her hands drop to his chest, rest there long enough to detect a heartbeat for her own peace of mind, then lift away from him entirely.

She wants to clutch the nape of his neck, bury her fingers in his hair and hold her head against his chest until she has a better idea of how to proceed from here, but there's saying about having everything. You can't.

Fingernails bite into the skin of her palms instead and she nods once in understanding. Something compels her to say, "It's not your fault," even though she has no real way of knowing. Suspects—

Whatever she suspects, there will be time for it later. "We'll get him back."

"Probably," is— pretty flippant. But maybe not shocking, and somehow not entirely at odds with his demeanor either of bridled tension and that trailing stormcloud of moodiness. Scrubbing his hand over his scalp, ruffling through black-brunette, it's through the scattered eyes of birds that she will note the remaining tension defining his spine and knotting his brow. "They aren't exactly the easiest nut to crack, but they're racking up enemies pretty quick."

And they know how that goes. Look at Moab. Look at Pinehearst. Or the rubble left of either.

He shifts the rifle's hang off his shoulder, tilts his head towards the shape of the Dispensary over yonder, and begins that way in slow, weary steps.

The goshawk watches Gabriel's back. Eileen watches Gabriel's back. He does not need to make eye contact with her or the bird to experience the anger trembling down the length of their empathic link, low and sonorous like the rumble of an approaching storm that he feels in the marrow of his bones rather than hears with his ears. Difficult, though, to determine whether she means to direct it at his retreating shape or those directly responsible for what Gabriel says happened.

Fading sunlight illuminates the leaves in the trees and turns green to gold, brown to orange. At a distance, the sparse forest around the Dispensary appears aflame. It will both cooler and darker indoors. Quiet, too, but only until the crickets come out and start to creak.

Two powerful thrusts of the goshawk's wings lift it off the post and into a steep climb north before it disappears between two wedge-shaped branches. If there is anything to be found where Gabriel last saw Teo, the hawk's keen eye will pick it out and return with the dawn.

The sound of his footsteps gives Eileen a rough guide to follow.

"We've been there for the past few days. The academy."

Gabriel doesn't have to look over his shoulder for his words to travel — it's quiet out here, sans traffic or a stiff wind to distract, and sound is a commodity for someone without their eyes. She might hear his crunching footsteps and track them for their direction, but his voice engages his attention otherwise, or attempts to. "He asked me for a favour weeks ago — to make a clone that looks like him, that he can use for himself and leave behind his own body for whoever he was before.

"I agreed. But it was his business, who got to know. Not anymore. Long story short, they took the clone too — I made him to look like Teo, but he has everything I am on the inside too." Which only freaks him out so much — if the Institute don't already have some telepathic mindbank on everything he is from the research of the Company, they could have gotten it from Pinehearst.

Like everything else. "And don't tell me — I know. It's a bad idea. I told him that too."

Eileen's progress through the brush is not as brisk as Gabriel's. The starlings provide her with vague impressions of the landscape by making the distinction between light and shadow. It's not enough to guarantee that she won't trip over a low branch of graze her face on a higher one. Her hands push them away when they find them while her feet tread lightly, much more tentative than she'd been in the goshawk's company.

There is no longer any doubt in her mind about what Francois meant.

"You'd put yourself through that again?" she asks when she's sure that she's in control of her voice and it isn't going to split down the middle and shatter. If her anger manifested as far-off thunder before, Gabriel can almost certainly sense the electricity in the air now. "After Kazimir?"

A look of disbelief is traded back at her over a shoulder, but he doesn't let it slow him — nor does he let it spur him on, to his credit. Gabriel remains at a best to allow her to keep up, even with that echo of anger making the hairs at the nape of his neck stand on end like an electrical field. "I didn't have to," he says, after a weighted pause. "It's not like that. The clone's a copy that wouldn't even be in existence if it wasn't for me. Besides— "

The toe of his boot kicks broken forest decay out of his and her path, a crack of breaking wood and stick and the clamour of the leaves it bowls into. "It's not possession. It's overwriting."

"Murder." Eileen stops, hooks her fingers around a birch branch above her dark-haired head. Brambles stick to the lower half of her coat and there are raised welts on the exposed portions of her legs that are sure to have finished fading by the time the sun's light does, but if she's experiencing even a little bit of physical discomfort, it does not register on her face.

Her pale eyes have gone dark, her jaw set like stone, but beneath this solemn exterior there's anxiety building. "Tell me why I shouldn't be upset if he's everything that you are, Gabriel."

She stops and so does he, like maybe there's a magnetic pull involved if not necessarily a leash. His head goes loose on his neck as he tips it back to observe the sky, the way it spins a little as he turns again to face her, look back at her. Takes several seconds of study, head to toe, before Gabriel draws himself a few steps closer, the crackle of twig and leaf underfoot. "Because I'm right here," he says, and pushes feeling at her, transmitted through the birds in the trees and echoing over — frustration, weariness.

"Because it can't do that. They're freakshows, and maybe if you ever watched the way it grew, you'd agree. You don't grow from nothing into a living person in the span of two days and get to claim you have any life to protect.

"Besides, Teo needed it. Because I screwed up."

The psychic weight causes Eileen's head to loll, her eyelids suddenly feeling very heavy. Caught off-guard, she misses her initial opportunity to push back and lets it wash over her instead. His fatigue feeds into hers, erodes the edges of her emotional tumult but leaves its core intact. All of a sudden she's burning a little less hot, a little less bright.

She relinquishes her hold on the branch and trails the tips of her fingers along the tree's peeling bark, which rustles like brittle parchment paper and flakes off under her touch.

It was easier to fight him when he was pretending to be indifferent. "Does it feel?"


More steps, until he's standing close enough to touch, and feel without touching. His hand comes to rest above her's, and— it might be more romantic if he smelled a little better than he does right now, to be honest. The usual notes of earth and exertion are there, and stronger after the day he's had — the more acrid scents of negation smoke still cling to the fabric of his clothing, too. "But if you had a choice between one of them, and me, or Teo, would you save us?"

She can feel when the end of a lock of her hair is toyed with. "Would you even hesitate?"

"No." She doesn't hesitate when it comes to answering, either. Her reward is a stab of guilt somewhere between her ribs and a sharp intake of breath that she lets leak back out again immediately after. Some of the reek saturating Gabriel's hair, skin and clothes rubs off on Eileen, combining with her perfume and the less potent scents of soap and freshwater. A faint hint of tobacco and cigarette smoke, too, but proportionally less than what Gabriel is accustomed to.

She smells better than he does. How long it lasts is at least partly dependent on how long she lets him tease her hair between his fingers. "I don't want you to hurt."

Inky brunette gleams like a precious metal, looped around a knuckle in this way, and Gabriel feels its texture as the tension is let loose and the strands are allowed to break apart from one another, hang naturally as his hand retracts. Brown eyes scope out unseeing green ones, before his gaze drops. "On the plus side, it probably won't put up as much of a fight as my others," he says, voice quiet due to proximity. "I might be able to get vague ideas about where they took it, when its conscious.

"No guarantees." His hand drops to take her's from where it rests against the tree — a pull, a current to direct her to come home with him, for now.

She consents, a hundred different arguments formulating in what Eileen imagines is the secret place somewhere between her lungs and her heart, but she has only one to offer now. "Probably isn't good enough," she tells him, "not for Teo," and where this argument begins is exactly where it ends.

She presses her thumb into the softest part of Gabriel's palm and entwines her fingers with his. They'll be entering a sequence of numbers into her phone in only a few hours.

It's going to take her all the time between then and now to decide what to tell Francois.

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