Reasons, Part III


eileen_icon.gif samson2_icon.gif

Also featuring:


Scene Title Reasons, Part III
Synopsis Eileen becomes acquainted with Gabriel's father.
Date June 27, 2010


Bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum

Eileen Ruskin awakens to darkness, her ears ringing and bare flesh old against what feels like bare metal firm at her back. That she is unclothed is all too obvious, but that there is a record player somewhere playing an all-too-noisy song is threatening to cause her ears to ache and her teeth to grind together from the assault of her senses.

Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream!

There's a chemical stink in the air, formaldehyde and isopropyl rubbing alcohol, she can feel restraints around her ankles and wrists, padded leather that must have been custom built onto whatever unseemly metal construct is holding her in place. Over the sound of the music, Eileen can hear muffled screaming, someone screaming as loud as they can with a gag in their mouth, it's a sound that she'd heard more than once in her time with the Vanguard. The whining tone of a drill or a saw in addition to that sound is harrowing.

Make him the cutest that I've ever seen!

Metal rattling of another table next to her sounds like someone struggling to get free, and the noises of panicked screaming turn into muffled sobs and choked back breathing. After a moment, the whining drill sound arrests, and there's a smoky, grasping old man's voice that undercuts the music. "Give him two lips like roses and clover…" he's singing along, apparently.

Give him two lips like roses and clover

The meaty crack that comes next sounds like someone splitting open a boiled lobster, but it isn't the scent of seafood that fills the air, rather the overwhelming smell of blood that rises up over the astringent chemicals and the cacophonous sound of the song playing on the record player bellowing through Eileen's own personal, dark hell.

Then tell him that his lonesome nights are over.

A wet, slurping sound comes next, followed by moments of silence before tearing and popping sounds, the noises that a drumstick makes when being pulled off of a chicken are heard. There's no screaming any longer, no sobbing, just the wet noises followed by a clang of something heavy landing in a metal pan, and a thoughtfully droning hum from the old man still mumbling along to the song.

Sandman, I'm so alone

Metallic tools scrape against each other, clinking and clattering, and something tinkles into glass, like the sound of a penny being dropped into a jar. There's a splashing noise after that, an olive falling into a martini glass. But none of those visual cues are matched by the auditory ones, the smell of blood is so strong.

Don't have nobody to call my own

Squeaking wheels of a moving cart make their way closer to where Eileen lays, followed by a rise in the smell of antiseptic and the gruff humming of that weather-beaten old man's voice. Behind the alcohol, Eileen can smell cigarette smoke, just as she did before she lost consciousness. "If you struggle, this is going to hurt so much more…" Eileen hears warmly growled near to her, followed by a warm and wrinkled hand brushed momentarially across her sweaty forehead.

Please turn on your magic beam

"Do you want the music on, or off?" The voice asks of her in blinded darkness, "I find it helps me concentrate, and you're going to want steady hands." She's still hurt, still bleeding from her abdomen, but there's a tightness around her stomach, maybe it's bandages, maybe it's something she doesn't even want to fathom. Whatever it is, she's not dead yet.

Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream!

Emphasis on yet.

She's bleeding from her mouth, too, pale lips caked with tacky fluid blacker than it is red. Each breath she draws in is accompanied by a reedy sound rattling wet in her lungs, which are struggling to supply her body with the oxygen it needs to continue functioning. Eileen makes a similar noise at the back of her throat in response to the touch, her small hands wracked with violent tremors as her fingers curl around the edge of the table she's on— if it's a table at all— and twitches away from the hand at her forehead.

His voice is one that she doesn't recognize, and there aren't many places that are worse to be than naked and strapped down in the presence of a stranger who smells like the same stuff filling her nose and mouth, tinging her teeth pink and making it difficult to swallow without coating the inside of her throat.

Telling her not to struggle is like telling a rabbit with a wire snare cutting into its neck not to kick. Bare feet and ankles strain against the straps fastened around them, but when she tries to sit up, she doesn't get any further than arching the small of her back a few inches off the metal surface.

"Hhh," is neither yes nor no and entirely open to Samson's interpretation.

The music stays on, droning in the background as Eileen feels that hand stroke across her brow. "Shhh," the old man's voice intones, "you look too much like Natalie to worry. I won't make the same mistake twice." As the hand comes away from Eileen's forehead, there's the cool touch of metal lightly brushing over her navel, then the peeling sensation of adhesive tape and makeshift bandages coming away.

"You're lucky, the bullet missed your descending aorta by an eighth of an inch. Thankfully I'm also… as close to a doctor as you're going to find." He's laughing, actually laughing in bemused condition at the situation. "I'm going to talk, because when I went to the doctors when I was dying, the doctors… they talked," the table trembles, there's a low rumbling sensation in the air, and Eileen can hear something slap against a palm, right before a needle jabs down into her stomach. The cool, tingling sensation that follows feels like local anesthetic, as do the other four jabs.

"It helped, you know, more than the priest I spoke to once did. It's humbling," he admits, settling down the syringe with a clink, "dying. I've been there twice, been brought back twice… both times by the kindness of others." Bare fingers probe and touch painfully around the entry wound, feeling the tissue there. "The bullet didn't exit out the other side, small caliber gun… this is going to hurt, you might black out, you might bleed out." There's not too much amusement there, more conversational forthrightness.

"Either way, there's not much I can do for the pain."

Hopefully, Samson likes the sound of his own voice because dying women don't make very good conversational partners. Eileen's lips are forming the first syllable of the same word over and over, front teeth grazing her lower lip with every silent repetition. Her voice lacks the strength to manifest as anything other than a thin, shaky hiss, and it isn't long before she gives up on whatever it is she's trying to say. The name of the man she's come to consider her personal physician wouldn't mean anything to Samson, anyway.

The anesthetic numbing the tissue around the wound does nothing for the pain closer to where the bullet is lodged, and although she can't feel it in the muscles of her abdomen when she clenches them, her body is intrinsically aware there's something inside her that shouldn't be and protests with a low, strangled moan against Eileen's will.

Her hips sink back to the table and her grip on its edge tightens. Blood squeaks between chalk white fingers.

"You're lucky I still have my abilities," the plurality of that sentiment may be lost on her at the moment, but the internal yank that Eileen feels of the bullet, as if it were alive, trying to worm its way up and out of her body certainly settles somewhere in the ten most excruciating things that Eileen has physically been forced to endure. There's a feeling of suction and tightness as the bullet slides up through torn muscle and flesh, along with a low humming vibration in the table and floor as deep as her bones.

The telekinetically manipulated bullet finally crests the entry wound and then is felt no longer. Making a noise in the back of his throat, the old man rests a weathered hand down on Eileen's arm before a plink is heard in a metal tin nearby.

"You've been poisoned…" The old man states flatly, "I can't fix that," sounds more unfortunate than he intended it to. "Whoever wanted you dead, wanted you dead soundly. I can feel it," there's a scuff and creak of a chair, a grunt of effort and the voice moves around the table. "Burning in your lungs, it's like being able to tell when an automobile isn't performing quite right, a good mechanic just knows from a rattle or a clunk what's wrong."

Plastic crinkles, something is thrown away into a waste basket, the sound clear enough. "I'm going to need to get in there," he notes, and by in there he means her abdomen. "Staples, sutures…" He hasn't mentioned replacing any of her lost blood, and at the moment he's not even sure if she's still conscious enough to hear him.

The heat of the tears carving paths through the sticky blood on her cheeks and throat warms Eileen's face. Open eyes and a trembling jaw both point to consciousness, but it's the uneven cadence of her breathing that gives her away. She can hear him. Whether or not what he's saying makes any sense is debatable.

Poisoned. What an alien word.

Her dark head tilts sideways, loose at the neck, and lays a tearstained cheek against the table, half her face veiled by strands of hair soaked all the way through with rain. Suddenly, blinking takes effort and the hands clutching the edges of the table grow slack. The passage of time is starting to become as slippery as her fingers, the Chordettes' a cappella a dull roar in her ears.

Everything else is all white noise.

"I took inventory today," Eileen can recall the serious tone that Constantine Filatov took with her that day. He doesn't turn away from the cabinets he's looking through, perhaps making it difficult to tell if he is speaking to Eileen or to himself, or even to Ranger, his dog. "I think that I should make a habit of doing that more often. The strangest thing came to my attention."

Practical and down-to-earth are two descriptors that Constantine has come to associate with Eileen since she began working for him, so he might be mildly surprised when a lengthy pause elapses between his observation and her subdued reply — his assistant doesn't usually have her head in the clouds. "Mm?" she asks, her lips parting just so. "What's that?"

Although she doesn't look back over her shoulder at the doctor, he may notice her keeping a wary eye on his reflection in the glass cabinet in front of which she's sitting as deftly thumbs through a patient's files, filling in missing pieces of information in bold black ink, each stroke of her pen emphasized by the sound of its ballpoint tip scratching against the paper.

"There's a drug that I was certain I had," the doctor replies, calmly locking another drawer and moving on to the next one. "But when I took inventory, it turns out that there simply isn't as much as there should be. Even looking back over the records, I simply could not account for that much of it missing." Click. Another drawer locked, Constantine finally turns around to face Eileen, removing and folding his spectacles before sliding them into his shirt pocket.

"Isn't that just the strangest thing?"

It's hard to say how long Eileen went between unconscious and dreaming guilt over what she did to John Logan and how that may have been recompense for what has happened to her. But that she can see when she wakes up is a strange situation. Eileen Ruskin sees through bars, feels sore and in pain, her breathing is shorter than before, daylight spills warm like the afternoon in the cool basement that still smells of blood, and her back by her kidneys hurts bad enough that it's a wonder she still has them. Her skin is clammy, prickling sensations dot her palms, but she's covered by a thin white sheet up to her neck, no clothes to speak of but restraints have been removed.

The unfortunate, or perhaps comforting part of this, is that she's looking at herself from afar. Behind bent aluminum bars, a yellow canary views Eileen Ruskin's unconscious form. Adjacent to her is a similarly metal examination table, the kind with a drain in the middle used in a morgue. There's a blood stained sheet covering what is clearly a body, dust particles drifting languidly in shafts of afternoon sunlight, and a hastily thrown curtain covering a shelf by her head.

Most notably she's also alone.

It's only a body. Eileen has told herself this before, but only once has she ever found herself in a position where she seriously considered abandoning hers.

Yet this is exactly what she does, and without more than a breath's hesitation.

The canary inside the cage launches into the air and hurls itself across the space between the perch and the bars. Small feet tipped with even smaller claws curl around metal and, with a frantic flutter of its wings to keep it upright, the tiny bird reaches one matchstick leg through the bars, hooking its toes under the latch on the outside of the cage.

It doesn't work on the first try, or even the second. By the time the latch tinkles free of the catch, the sharp patter of furious wing beats have been filling the room for almost a full minute, and when the cage door squeaks open, it sticks its head out first as if to check that no one has snuck up in the interim.

A short hop and a flick of its dandelion-yellow wings carries it the short distance between the workbench where the cage is positioned and the body on the table, intending to rest there for the brief time it takes to catch its breath.

To say good bye.

"Uh-oh," comes a grumbling noise form the doorway, "jailbreak." The canary is pinched from the air by a tightness in the center of its tiny chest, plucked up into the air and left to flap helplessly a few inches off of Eileen's body. "You're a sight better with this than I imagined…" Stepping in through the doorway, Samson Gray looks for all his worth to be someone's doddering old grandfather who escaped from the nursing home. Sunken cheeked, stubbled on chin and head, his spectacles slouch low on the bridge of his large nose, lips work together to get the bitter taste of coffee he filtered through a t-shirt off of his teeth, he shuffles into what passes for a makeshift triage center, or a morgue, depending on how successful he is. Today it is a little of both.

"I made coffee, but you can't have any, bad for your blood." Bushy gray brows raise up as Samson looks from bird to body, then back to bird again. "Back you go," he says as if this was just some mischevious animal getting out of its cage. The bird drifts through the air at the direction of two fingers, the rest of them holding his coffee mug steady.

The canary is directed back into the cage, and with a twist of his fingers, the latch is brought back up, then bent.

"You try and do one nice thing for someone, and they go and act crazy," Hazel eyes drift from the birdcage down to Eileen's body, and the gray-haired old man moves to walk over and sit by her side, his drab gray t-shirt hanging loose on his too thin frame. "So," he breathes out, "you lived. That's a good start."

The canary throws itself at the bars again, battering at the latch from the inside with both its wings as if hoping that the force of its body coming into contact with the door might force it open. It doesn't work that way, however, and rather than waste her energy fighting something she knows won't move no matter how hard she beats herself against it, Eileen drops back down to the bottom of the cage, her tiny chest heaving.

She might not have recognized his voice, but his face

Let me go. Low and forceful but unmistakably female, the silky voice whispering in Samson's head sounds like it could belong to the young woman laid out on the table who, judging by her unique inflection, isn't American.

"Oh, that's new…" Hazel eyes wide, Samson arches one gray brow and lifts his coffee up to his mouth, keeping that wide-eyed look on the bird cage as he sips his coffee before lowering it from his lips, stubbornness set in too long ago. "I don't think it would be a very good idea for me to do that, really. You've got a long way to go before you're back to health, if you could call it that, and where are you going to go? Run back in a panic, to who, the people who tried to kill you?"

Scooting his stool forward, Samson settles his coffee down on the metal table beside her with a clank. "My son?" There's an askance look to the bird cage, his thick brows furrowed. "You know exactly what he'd do if he found out, and it wouldn't be much more than a sight better than what I did…" thoughtfully, Samson looks down to Eileen's covered frame, tugging the blanket up a bit. "I wasn't even there for you, either."

Running his tongue over his lips, Samson smooths his palms over the worn denim covering his knees, then looks back up to the Canary. "His name's Pip, bought him for a song not far from here. Why don't you calm down, then we'll figure out what you're doing…"

I am perfectly calm, the Englishwoman's voice insists, though it's fraught with quiet anxiety. To her credit, it does not quaver or tremble, but this probably has more to do with the fact that she doesn't require vocal chords than it does her degree of composedness. She doesn't know what Gabriel would do, and in many ways that's much scarier.

Glittering black eyes watch Samson intently from the other side of the bars, canary growing visibly tense when his hand moves toward the sheet. It does not relax when he pulls it up instead of down. You can't keep me here forever, she warns him, and while they're on the subject of his son— Gabriel will come looking. What do you think he'll do to you if he finds me like this?

"Hopefully thank me for saving your life?" Samson slyly notes as a shaky hand reaches down to pick up his coffee, sipping at it contentedly. "Whoever cares about you already misses you, whether you return now or tomorrow or the day after won't matter, so long as you return. Right now you have something of an advantage, because whoever wants you dead?" One of Samson's brows lift slowly. "They were able to get close enough to you to poison you, close enough that you walked into an ambush. One bird?" Samson shakes his head, laughing dryly as he motions to the cage. "One bird's only good for singing."

Lifting up his coffee to take another rueful sip, Samson shakily sets the cup back down with a clatter on the metal table, brows furrowed and eyes fixed distantly through Eileen. "For all anyone knows you're dead, they're probably still trying to identify the bodies of the people I didn't take. Maybe they're smart, maybe they won't assume without a…" he motions a bare hand towards the body behind him. "Either way, you're best here where you can collect your strength, think clearly. You aren't right now, I can tell you that."

Licking his lips, Samson looks down to Eileen, brows furrowed and shoulders rising slowly. "It's very hard not to kill you," is probably the least reassuring thing he could possibly say, "but you, you should probably understand why. I wouldn't be much of a father if I did, though, he… wouldn't approve. The last thing I want to do is lose him again…"

Tired eyes look up to the bird cage, and Samson downturns the corners of his mouth into a frown. "They blinded you, I don't know if that's new or old, but it was the poison. Don't know what it is…" his attention drifts back to Eileen's still and silent face. "I can't fix it."

I didn't ask you to, comes out a little more defensive than Eileen would probably like, though her tone is gentle. One of the disadvantages to communicating this way is the lack of a buffer. Thoughts flow freely. The only thing she has control over is the direction they take, and right now she's focusing on the man who vaguely resembles one she loves.

The canary hops up onto the lip of the cage, closer to Samson, closer to the body breathing shallowly on the metal table. She looks pale and gaunt, lips and eyelids gone white with a blue-purple tint. If it wasn't for the steady rise and fall of her chest beneath the sheets, she'd have the appearance of a corpse on a slab, prepped for autopsy.

Eileen flicks a look at the other body in the room, and although the sheet covering Damon Wentworth's face makes it impossible for her to positively identify him, her assumption is the correct one. Who's Natalie?

"Dead," is Samson's equally defensive answer as to who Natalie is, but that he doesn't press Eileen on her defensive comment he presumes she won't on his. "If you die by no fault of my own there's really no point in letting it go to waste." There's really no need for Samson to explain what he's referencing, just that flat peace of mind in his openness that isn't really all that easing.

"What are you to my son?" It sounds more pointed, especially when Samson's attention turns directly to the canary, eyes peering over the frames of lowered spectacles, fingers drumming on the metal table Eileen lays on for lack of ability to keep them still. "You were with him in the park that day, he doesn't seem like the type who makes friends easily."

Samson's brows crease together again, driving two distinct lines up across his forehead that criss-cross with the creases his brow naturally has. "Better yet, what's he to you?" If there was ever a dysfunction that Eileen and Gabriel's relationship could proudly proclaim, it is their parental relationships. Either way Eileen picks it, Kazimir or Ethan, Gabriel's interaction with them is wholly inappropriate. This, at least, makes it a full circle.

There are a lot of words Eileen could use to succinctly summarize what she is to Gabriel or what Gabriel is to her, but rather than jump to any one, she takes her time to examine each one at length by directing her thoughts inward instead of out, closing herself up to Samson while she deliberates over her answer.

Lover seems somehow trite. Boyfriend nags at her, awkward and uncomfortable. Husband is right out, even if it would have been the most accurate choice in another life. Soul mate requires souls to exist, and Eileen's not sure that they do. If they do, she almost undoubtedly lost hers beneath Pinehearst to Kazimir's ability. That leaves—

A partner. Confident in her decision, Eileen fluffs the canary's buttery feathers.

Breathing in deeply, Samson furrows his brows, nodding his head slowly as a haunted look crosses his face. Sitting there beside Eileen's body, there's nothing going on behind his eyes, just a distant expression of nervous uncertainty briefly flickering between regret and doubt. When Samson takes the effort to stand up, there's a determination in his lanky frame, brows furrowed in the way that almost seems disapproving, stare leveled on the canary proxy intently.

As he walks, Samson reaches into the back pocket of his brown slacks, withdrawing an old leather wallet, sliding it open with a brush of his thumb, hardly anything inside. No credit cards, no money, just photographs. He slides one out, a particularly weathered and dog-eared old thing as he approaches the cage.

Holding it between two fingers, Samson turns the picture around to press up against the bars. His jaw sets, throat works up and down noisily, and his eyes seem to show hurt more than anything else.

In the faded colors of the photograph there is a young man who bares some resemblance to Gabriel, but not enough to immediately recognize him as his father. He's smiling, happily, one arm around a raven-haired young woman who is more the spitting image of Eileen than anything she may have imagined for Gabriel's mother to look. The stark eyebrows, delicate features, expressive eyes. The photograph's stark contrasts and bleached out colors seem to make it even more similar.

"I had a partner too, once…" Samson intones in a heavy voice, his hand holding the photograph trembling out of nothing like emotion. "I know I'll never find anything quite like what she and I had, not ever again. I've come to terms with that, and I brought it on myself."

The closer Samson draws to the cage, the flatter the canary presses itself, wings splayed and black eyes upturned, ready to lash out and defend itself with slashing feet and a beak parted around a soundless hiss of warning. When the wallet comes out, it pulls itself upright again but does not tempt fate by fluttering closer for a better look. Arches its neck and back instead, body curving into an inquisitive shape punctuated by a cocked head and gaze brighter than Pip's ever was.

Eileen examines the photograph from her side of the bars, and for someone who can fit in the palm of Samson's hand, it's a lot to take in with her eyes. She focuses on the woman first, and then the man before settling on the woman again, beak cinched shut.

Selfish, is her damning assessment, which she may or may not have meant Samson to hear, though what she says next almost certainly is. You took her from him.

Samson's eyes hood partway as he tucks the photograph back into the wallet, brows creasing together. "One day he'll do the same to you," Samson grouses warningly, perhaps more defensively than anything at the tones Eileen had taken with him. "She knew the risks, knew what I was… They still tell stories about me," and he almost sounds proud of that, "about the people who disappeared out here," he waves his hand, "a monster stalking Staten Island. She was enthralled with what I was, what I could be. I showed her what she could be too, and for a long time… for such a long time we were together." His eyes narrow, searching for the word Eileen used. "Partners."

Tucking the wallet back into his pocket, Samson turns slowly, shoulders slouched and head hanging. "We Gray's are selfish creatures. I may not know my son well, but I know him well enough…" Samson doesn't turn around as he continues to address the bird, just stands there rubbing his knuckles with one wrinkled hand. "He can try and fight what he is," his eyes shift to Eileen, then back to the cage, "but one day he's going to give in. You can only keep it bottled up for so long… until it has to get out."

Those haunted eyes assess the bird again, then drift down to the floor before Samson turns around and just begins walking towards the doorway he'd come through earlier. He doesn't have a parting comment for Eileen, or even a farewell. In truth, it's not really goodbye. After all, he'll be back, and she has no where else to go.

Samson is alone in his head again. Eileen has gone silent, canary tracking his movements as he retreats from the room without turning its body or even pivoting on its ruffled neck.

Bird faces aren't nearly as expressive as the woman's in the photograph. Either she agrees with his grim premonition or she doesn't.

Black eyes betray nothing.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License