Pull and Push


eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif

Scene Title Pull and Push
Synopsis Gabriel approaches Eileen, reports his findings on both Magnes and Kazimir, and leaves her with one (1) more umbrella than what she began with.
Date October 14, 2009

Battery Park City

After curfew, New York's Financial District is a certifiable ghost town. Only the occasional police cruiser roams the streets, red and blue lights glaring off the windows of the towering buildings packed so closely together they resemble a tin of sardines with steel fins and glass scales, though no siren breaks the stillness of the night. That honour is reserved for the rainwater splashing against the roofs of parked cars and the pavement shining silver under the pale glow of the streetlamps that provide the neighborhood with enough light to see by.

No one wants to be out in this weather, least of all Eileen, and yet out in this weather she is, dressed in a heavy woolen peacoat, leather gloves and a cashmere scarf worn over her hair to keep it — in theory — from getting too wet. She stands on the promenade of Battery Park City, hands clasped around the wrought iron banister that separates the walkway from the yawning stretch of Hudson River on the other side of it, looking out over the water with an expression on her face that doesn't even begin to reflect what she's feeling in her heart.

Feng Daiyu is only a few blocks away in the FBI's squat headquarters. There aren't a lot of places he could hide where the Remnant can't follow, but this is one of them, and the knowledge that brooding in the facility's shadow is all any of them can do until he emerges is killing her.

Eventually, there's a dark shadow in her periphery. It has shape, weight, human silhouette, and the sound of foot falls on damp concrete beginning to ring out. Whether she waits or takes a closer look with whatever night bird she's coaxed to guard her, it will be easy to recognise him— even under the cover of the umbrella whose silver stalk he has rested against on black clad shoulder, the billowing tent of it arcing over his head and shifting with each step. Rainwater slides off its bat-wing curves, shining silver on oily black.

Gabriel isn't wearing another face. He doesn't intend to be seen, anyway, save for by someone who might appreciate knowing exactly who she was dealing with this evening. His woolen coat is long, inevitably black and worn in places, buttoned closed, and his hands are clad in grey woolen gloves with the fingers sliced off.

It's a look that suits his teenage alterego better, actually, even if he fills the clothing more accurately. Probably harks to how he's getting around this evening, if not in the guise of Wu-Long's shadow — or at least, not staying that way. But for now, it's very much Gabriel Gray approaching, with no move to stop before he can come to stand beside her.

Someone once said: If you love something, let it go, and if it comes back to you then it's yours forever.

That someone didn't know what the hell they were talking about. Between Eileen and Gabriel, forever is usually measured in minutes, sometimes hours but never longer than a day at a time; either he leaves or she does, and although they've yet to reach a point where they don't come back together again, their reunions are always brief and designed around some purpose. Tonight isn't any different.

She doesn't address him when he approaches or so much as glance haphazardly in his direction. What she can see of his shape in her peripheral vision provides her with enough detail to make a positive identification before he arrives at his destination beside her, and even then she does not take her eyes off the water. Instead, her arms grow rigid and her hands tighten around the railing, produce a disgruntled squeaking sound as leather contracts against metal made slick by the rain.

She's still angry. Not just at Feng.

It could be different. The weather is shitty. He could have waited for a better time, if this was based purely on purpose. Incidentally, he did not wait for a better time, and conveniently so, what with his umbrella. There's only a minor hesitation, Gabriel affording himself some measure of insight to know that perhaps she might choose to walk away, but when she only grows rigid and stiff at the railing, he comes to stand beside her.

And angle the umbrella enough to block most of the rainfall, even if some droplets manage to sneak in here and there at random pushes of wind. He rests his free hand against the metal railing, knuckles bony beneath the swath of grey wool, fingers pale.

"Magnes Varlane wants to be friends with me."

This produces a low snort of laughter from Eileen blown out her nostrils. It leaves her nose as a fine silver mist, like smoke, only there's no cigarette dangling between her fingers or hanging lit from either corner of her mouth. Still, she does not look at him, blinking away stubborn droplets of rainwater that persist and cling to her individual lashes. "Do you want to be friends with Magnes Varlane?" she asks, and while her voice is not unkind, it also crackles electric at the edges with the deceptive calm a live wire lacking visible sparks. Danger: High Voltage.

"Not many people meet Sylar's standard of excellence, I've noticed. He should be flattered that you're even considering, though I have to wonder if he deserves it, being as easily manipulated as he is. Dare I say it: weak." Emphasis placed on the key words that she's been agonizing over since their last meeting makes clear her mind. In many ways, it yet to leave the Pink Elephant. "Is there something you need from me, Gabriel? Or do you just feel like gracing someone with your presence?"

Considering the verbal blows traded, preempted or not, between these two, these jabs fall short, although the effort made is certainly appreciated. Enough that Gabriel stiffly squares his shoulders in some visible manifestation of impatience. "There is nothing I need from you," he says, his attention set out towards the inky stretch of water they stand before. "As for Varlane…"

His hand fidgets. Above them, the umbrella rotates, back and forth, flinging rain droplets off the metal spokes that make up its points, before stilling. "He reminds me of me. In minor ways. According to your worldview, what better friend could I possibly make than a mirror image?"

Eileen arches a dark brow at Gabriel's question. Just one, though it lacks the gravitas that someone who isn't sopping wet might be able to convey with the same minute change in expression. "Interesting theory," she says, her hands growing slack around the railing. "It's a shame you're your own worst enemy, or you might actually be onto something with that one."

It's impossible to see where the beads of water shunted from the umbrella fall. There are too many, and they spatter against the pavement and concrete barrier beneath the railing as one, joining with the runoff trickling snakelike through a gutter that runs parallel to the promenade and ends in a gurgling drain. Where it goes from there, she doesn't know, doesn't care, but suspects it ends up in the Hudson. "You'll tear him to ribbons."

"You speak from experience?" Rhetorical question, and Gabriel's hand grips and shifts against the railing as if in a restless, fidgeting social cue that asks she not respond. He continues to talk, anyway, whether she heeds it or not. "In Teo's future, I didn't. Tear him to ribbons." But this isn't Teo's future, and will probably never be Teo's future, and his tone is wry enough to acknowledge that much.

He turns his back on the river, then, obligingly shifting umbrella from one shoulder to the other to continue to shelter her, the small of his back resting on the railing and Gabriel gaining a more comfortable view of their surroundings. "I didn't come to talk about Varlane. He wants me to go after White, but everything else is inconsequential if I don't. So we'll see.

"I talked to Kazimir." Who doesn't necessarily want to be friends with him. "I'll tell you all about it, if you'll stop being angry at me."

"I can't just stop being angry at you," Eileen says, her hands falling away from the railing in favour of wrapping arms around her torso, gloved fingers sinking into the weave of her peacoat. It's cold, and umbrellas do nothing to warm skin or circulate blood, and yet she does not move out from under it's protective covering either. Whether she'll admit to it or not, she welcomes the break from the rain and its relentless assault on what parts of her body are bare, covered in gooseflesh. "It doesn't work that way."

But it would be nice if it did. Somewhere out there in the deep, damp dark, there's someone who can turn emotions on and off with the ease of someone playing with a circuit breaker. Eileen, however, is not that someone and lacks the luxury of being able to control what she feels or when she feels it. "What did Kazimir say?"

Gabriel's jaw angles a little in bridled frustration, slightly unshaven and shadowed in the already oppressive nighttime darkness and the cover of the umbrella. Rain continues to make a concussion against the fabricy dome, continues to sluice off the edges with each twitch of movement. He considers forsaking her of its dryness, just for a moment, but—

Possibly not conducive to diplomacy. "I still don't know if we can call him Kazimir. More like the essence of whatever that damn power is, shaped by him the most. His memory traded on. Apparently, I saved him. And apparently, he wants to make up for what he's done. He said—

"He said he's not dead, or alive. Just here. Working. He mentioned 'penance', and to trust you."

Of all the people to tell Gabriel to trust Eileen, Kazimir is probably the least likely candidate — a fact that's mirrored in the dubious shape of her mouth and the look she finally slants in his direction. Then again, if what he's telling her is true, it fits with the words that were spoken to her on the Narrows when she committed herself to finishing what was started back at the tail end of January. "The Kazimir I knew isn't the man who killed Wu-Long," she says, finally, "and he isn't the man I set you on. I don't know what happened to him, and I don't know what's happening to Peter now, either, but I want to believe it isn't the same thing. You were right. About my waiting. I'm not ready for this."

It's something like an apology but not quite. An apology requires more than just an admission of guilt, and no matter how quiet her voice or subdued her tone has suddenly become, it so far lacks acceptance of responsibility. "Do you trust me?"

About who Kazimir the man is, Gabriel says nothing. Perhaps he owes her that much, to say nothing when he has plenty of opinion, and it shows as much in his eyes until he looks away again, scouts out their surroundings boredly. It doesn't ultimately matter, perhaps. "Yes." Simple enough response, until— "But in this?" A glance her way, almost checking, before fixing in focus away again.

"I don't know if I trust the person he was when he was around you. That makes it complicated. If you saw honesty, or if every single person he's turned to ash for virtue of being a monster like himself saw honesty in their last few moments. If you know, or if you know a lie."

His arms come to wrap around himself, still holding the umbrella stiff. "He tormented me. I shared his mind when he took mine from me, and that's all I've taken away from it."

Eileen's jaw clenches, the very tip of her tongue pressed against the roof of her mouth to contain it as she carefully considers what she's about to say next. The rain makes her more aware of his presence beside her, and not just because he's holding the umbrella. In the below freezing temperature, she can feel the heat radiating off his body and filling the air between them, hear his breath enter and leave his lungs with every inhalation and subsequent exhalation, and smell the scent of wet hair mingling with the material of his clothes and the oils in his skin.

"You wanted to know what he said to me on the bridge," she says. "I couldn't tell you because I don't remember. Not all of it. I was up there, getting ready to go over, or playing with the idea of it — I'm still not sure which, but he pulled back when he could have pushed. Kazimir. Peter. Whatever It is."

For the first time since they started talking, Gabriel allows silence to descend between them, his eyes set on the pavement rather than the wider space, where rain soaks and floods and is inevitably drawn to drains. Perhaps stock-still silence can be interpretted as disturbance at her words; it could easily be interpretted as thought. Then, he takes his weight off the railing, and offers her the umbrella to take.

"I hope you're right about him."

Eileen looks at the handle of the umbrella and the fingers closed around it rather than look at Gabriel directly. The silence itself is disturbing, at least on her end, and as she reaches out to take the umbrella from him she's careful not to brush her hand against his. There's uncertainty on her face, in her guarded posture. Fear, too — the agony of not knowing what he's thinking, not knowing where it is they stand.

She's still angry, but she's simultaneously a lot of other things as well. "Yes."

With the umbrella relinquished, it's his turn to leave, but instead he stands for a moment, studying her without completely looking at her. Consternation that wasn't there until now angles his brows, manifests as tension and uncertainty. Gloved hands twitch, one even making it all the way up to hover fingers inches away from her jaw, before retracting in an awkward, near adolescent jerk of movement.

Even a sociopath can recognise anger and he's not entirely sure what to do with it. Gabriel doesn't give it another chance, melting away into viscous shadow that pours on over the railing from the walkway and directly into the Hudson river. Inkier substance merges with black water, disappears out of sight.

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