Reasons, Part I



Scene Title Reasons, Part I
Synopsis Eileen has a rendezvous with a Ferry contact at Central Park's Bethesda Fountain.
Date June 26, 2010

Central Park: Bethesda Fountain

A full moon fills the fountain at the center of Bethesda Terrace with white light and illuminates the paper thin leaves that have begun to open in the trees. Spidersilk spun between long, spindly branches glitters like strings of diamonds and pearls, each bead of dew suffused with a resplendent but pale glow. It's not the safest place for Englishwomen to be walking after dark, but the small, trim figure in the black overcoat knows Central Park almost as well as she knows the woodland surrounding the Dispensary on Staten Island, and with hundreds of birds roosting in the shadowy elms and cypresses around her, she has very little to fear except for the wet sound of her own breathing and the crippling pain that lances through her lungs every time she attempts to draw fresh air into them.

Eileen Ruskin feels like she's dying. Each snap of her cane connecting with the pavement is one step closer to the waterfront, one step closer to the boat, one step closer to Dispensary, one step closer to its winding stairwell, one step closer to the attic's trap door, one step closer to Gabriel— and so on.

She lost count crossing the stone bridge, but the raven that alights on the wing of the fountain's statuesque angel sends an encouraging thought her way in case she's developing any notions of turning back and finding someplace safe to lay low for the rest of the night. Her Ferry contacts are already here.

One last appointment, and then she can go home.

Three people congregating at the fountain seems innocent enough. Two of them can't be much older than twenty, young men in loose hooded sweatshirts with the hoods folded down, too-long jeans tattered on the ends with holes in the knees. They sit on the rim of the fountain, side by side, nearly identical in dress and divided up only by their salt and pepper difference in platinum blonde and chestnut brown hair color. Trading off a pack of cigarettes they watch Eileen's approach quietly.

At the fore of the group are two older individuals, both of whom are more familiar to Eileen. Clark Kilpatrick is a weathered looking old man, his sunbeaten face creased with wrinkles and hair shock white had buzzed short to his skull. That he drops a cigarette down to the pavement underfoot is nonverbal sign to Eileen that it's safe to approach.

The only Evolved here aside from Eileen is Damon Wentworth, though for all Eileen's knowledge of the Ferrymen she hasn't heard exactly what he does, only that he has an ability of some sort that was dangerous enough to get him sent off to Moab. At thirty he's the median of ages in this gathering, black hair shoulder length and swept back away from his face, clothing as dark as his hair.

"Looks like it's goin' t'rain…" comes the thickly accented greeting from Damon, glancing up to the thickly clouded skies before turning green eyes back down on Eileen. "Almost thought you weren't going t'show up. What took y'so long, darlin?" Southern charm may slither from Damon, but it's a too honeyed tone.

Eileen's time with Vanguard has lent her an ear for accents. Unfortunately, the subtleties that she's most familiar with are all European, and she has difficulty when attempting to connect Americans to their respective regions. The difference between Gabriel's inflection and Raith's is so slight that she barely picks up on it. Damon, on the other hand, has a distinct way of speaking that's impossible to confuse with that of 'her boys'.

There's a pocket watch nestled in the silk lining of her coat. If she took it out to look, it would tell her she's running behind schedule, but blindness aside— there's something about this specific collection of individuals that puts her more on edge than she is at assemblies when they're interspersed throughout a larger crowd. Eyes are one thing. She does not want to risk taking her attention off them.

He's right, incidentally. Droplets of water the size of pinheads have begun to appear on the pavement. "It doesn't matter," she says, punctuating her statement with a final click of her cane as she comes to stand near the fountain, silhouette lit silver by the wan moon above. "Did you find Childs?"

Offering a look over his shoulder to Clark, Damon shakes his head and threads a stringy lock of dark hair behind one ear. "No, no we didn't find shit. Well…. almost shit." Reaching inside of his pocket, Damon withdraws a crumpled piece of paper with small writing scrawled on it, holding it out for Eileen to take. It's almost like a joke, in a way, that tiny handwriting and her eyesight the way it is. When Damon holds out the paper, the two kids in the hooded sweatshirts drop off the fountain in tandem, one circling around the statue, hands folded behind his head and sneakers scuffing on the ground, keeping a look out to see if anyone's watching.

The other breezes past Eileen, tucking his hands into the front pouch of his hooded sweatshirt, cigarette bobbing up and down between his lips as he walks. Waiting for Eileen to take the paper, Clark averts his eyes to the pavement, gray brows furrowed and hands wringing together before he reaches inside of his jacket while watching smoke tendril up from that cigarette, he probably needs a light too.

Up on the statue, Bran parts his beak around a low croak that's almost as hoarse as Eileen's voice is. It's either a warning or a reminder that she can't read the paper without him perched on her shoulder, the top of his head tucked affectionately beneath her chin, but for whatever reason she implores the raven to remain where he is as she reaches out to take the paper in one hand and brush the soft lambskin of her gloves against Damon's knuckles.

Whether or not they agree on every point, these are ultimately her people, and although she might not trust them with the completeness or reckless abandon that she trusts Gabriel, Teo and Raith, her faith in them extends far enough that there's only a little reprimand in her tone when she asks, "Why didn't you put out a bulletin?"

"Reasons," Damon offers, shortly before, "M'really sorry."

The gunshot doesn't come from Damon, but from Clark, holding a small caliber snub-nosed revolver that's been passed around so many gun smugglers that no one likely realizes that it's killed so many people in its day. For Eileen to be shot in the stomach by Edward Ray's revolver is a touch of detail that will likely go unnoticed. But the second the bullet lances through her stomach and erupts out her back, she can feel her legs giving out and body crumpling against the sidewalk.

Damon lets go of the piece of paper, letting what amounts to a harmless shopping list come fluttering from his grasp, landing down on the rainy pavement beside Eileen's dark hair. "You don't get where you get, without steppin' on people on the way up." Damon admits, glancing askance at Clark before turning his attention up towards Bran, "Stay close in case she birds," he warns, removing one hand from his pocket slowly.

But one of them seem surprised, none of them seem concerned, that Clark is clicking back the hammer of the revolver a second time, cycling the cylinder, and readying another shot, arm outstretched and aimed down at Eileen with a look of remorse on his face.

Eileen slumps back against the fountain, one hand clutching at its concrete lip above her head in an attempt to pull herself upright, but she lacks the upper body strength to do anything except prevent herself from sinking all the way to the ground. Her other hand, cane still gripped between gloved fingers, moves to her stomach to apply pressure with its heel and staunch the blood flow further darkening the fabric of her overcoat and the gray dress she wears beneath it.

She makes a low, haggard noise at the back of her throat, clearing it to make way for a sharp accusation. Instead of words, the only thing that bubbles past her lips is more blood and a hitching gasp. There's a tear in her stockings and fluid so dark it appears almost black leaking from her nose and mouth and carving a slow, snaking path down the obsidian length of her cane.

Bran needs no command. He launches himself off the statue and swings down at Clark with the force of a flung stone, slamming his full weight into the man's gun arm as he hooks his claws around his wrist and plunges his beak into the softer flesh between his fingers.

The next shot goes wide, ricochets off the base of the statue. In the trees, the leaves are already starting to come to life, roused from their uneasy slumber. A moment later, a hundred different pairs of wings flick abruptly into motion, and the terrace is filled with the sound of air rushing through feathers.

"Fuck," is the expected cry as Clark clutches his hand and staggers back from Eileen. Damon's click of his tongue indicates disapproval as he alights his eyes to the treetops and then over to where Bran is flapping and crowing at Clark's hand. Damon's brows furrow and his hand lifts into the air, flicking fingertips towards the black bird followed by a croak of noise when feathers puff into the air and blood erupts in a misted plume from one of the raven's wings before he falls down to the ground nearby to Eileen, one wing flapping and the other looking broken and bent at an odd angle.

"Fucking— Shoot her again!" Damon shouts noisily, turning towards Eileen and lifting his hand up into the air, attention past her now to the treetops and the oncoming storm of wings. Sweeping his arm in a broad motion from right to left, there is the sound of someone walking on broken glass or across a sheet of bubble wrap. But the sound is the wings of dozens of birds breaking all at once, a rhythmic pop-snap-crackle that preceeds avian bodies falling from the skies.

Clark, clutching his bleeding hand moves to crouch down and fumble for the revolver, only to hear a muffled scream come from the other side of the angel statue, followed by the battered and broken body of a blonde young man landing on his knees and side, the upper part of his torso twisted backwards from the lower, blood soaking his midsection and eyes popped out of the sockets from where his skull has been caved in by pressure on all sides.

There's a horrible sound that fills the air, not Clark and Damon's horrified screams or the gasping, breathless noise of the other boy seeing his friend dead on the ground, but rather the sound of a low rumbling hiss like that of a crocodile preparing to strike mixed with the rumble of a diesel engine and a man making a growling noise in the back of his throat.

The stone angel statue, drenched by the now intensely falling rain is eclipsed by a column of dark smoke lit within by flickering orange flames, like a constantly burning cloud of ash and fire. Damon lets out a terrified shriek, waving his hands both in the direction of the smoke cloud, having no outward effect on it as it rolls over and around the angel statue towards Clark.

The smoke seems to just swallow him up, rolling down over him like a tidal wave before crashing down on the pavement, leaving Damon still standing but smoldering. A moment later there's a low, harmonic rumble and Clark is yanked off of his feet and propelled through the air as his body bursts into flames. He soars across the park, coming to land at the feet of the young, black haired boy with the cigarette in his mouth.

The young man says nothing, but as his cigarette falls from his lips, watching Clark writhe around on the ground in flames, there's a concussive explosion as Clark's body detonates like an incindiary grenade, blasting the boy's arm from his torso, flaying the skin from his face and sending his smoking corpse sixty feet away while Clark's charred remains rain down all across the parkland.

Damon is already running, feet slamming on the ground before he's caught around the throat by and unseen force, yanked up off of his feet and suspended in the air as that cloud of smoke rises up into a swirling column that contains the dark silhouette of a man, backlit by the flickering blossoms of fire inside of the ashen cyclone.

Eileen might not believe what she's seeing if she was seeing anything at all, and she's not. Mangled sparrows and starlings drop to the pavement, plunge headlong into the water of the fountain and scatter across the grass. Not every strike is a death knell. Those that aren't killed on impact twist and flutter feebly on the ground, violent flashes of motion like fish flopping in a net on the floor of an open boat or a sodden riverbank, wings for oily fins and tails, eyes wide and mouths gaping.

Bran rolls over onto his front, tucks his injured wing against his body and then leaps back into the air— only to plummet down to earth again a few feet away. One last push from Eileen sends him into relative safety of some gnarled bushes before she finally loses her grip on the edge of the fountain and feels her skull connect with the pavement.

Something is happening. She can sense the heat of the flames washing over her exposed skin, which is suddenly feeling very cold, and if she focuses, she can make out vague shapes from Bran's perspective through the bushes, all light and contrasting shadow blurred by the rain.

"Two for one," is a breathy voice spoken from within the pillar of smoke, masked by the sound of crackling flame that almost sounds like it should come out of this ghastly figure's mouth. Shuddering and crying, Damon is turned around in the air, drawn towards the emaciated old man who steps silently from within the pillar of charred ashes and smoke, tendrils of it wafting up off of his shoulders and the short gray stubble adorning his head. His bushy brows crease together, dark eyes assess the younger man and with a crooked smile he seems delighted to note, "You'll do nicely."

The next sound that comes is a whistling noise, a whining sound much less ferocious than the growling before, but still having that consciousness tugging quality to it. As Damon's eyes begin to drift shut, Samson Gray turns his attention down to the bleeding woman laying at his feet. His lips downturn into a frown, and when he at long last takes a look at her face he is struck by her expression and countenance.

Thirty years ago he saw that peaceful expression of death on someone he loved. That she bears so much resemblance to Eileen gives Samson pause, has his heart lurching up into his throat and eyes flicking to Damon's limp and lifeless form slouched in midair, shoulders hunched forward and limbs dangling.

Samson takes a knee, by Eileen's side, his head tilted at an angle and jaw set. Wrinkled fingers come up to paw at the bloody wound she holds at her stomach, and she can smell cigarette smoke sickeningly strong in the air around him. "Don't worry…" Samson breathes out the words as he lays a hand down on Eileen's shoulder, his brows creased together and tongue sliding over yellowed teeth.

"You won't feel a thing."

It's true, for a moment later Eileen feels her senses discorporating, feels her body becoming weightless and ephemeral, feels herself light and breathy as if floating away out of her own body. The truth of the matter is far more confusing, scientifically, the manner in which solid matter is converted to smoke would baffle any scientist, but yet Damon's telekinetically prone form and Eileen Ruskin's bleeding body are consumed by the dark vapors of Samson Gray's smoke form, transubstantiated into something more ethereal along with the old man himself.

The ashes left behind will be washed away by the falling rain cascading from darkened skies.

But the blood spilled here will stain more than just the ground.


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