eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif

Scene Title Remembered
Synopsis A gift purchased from its original owner for its original owner finds its way home.
Date January 1, 2011

Old Dispensary

There are games that children play with one other, and then there are games that adults play with one another; Eileen's version of hide-and-go-seek involves avoiding Gabriel without intending to for long periods of time and then waiting for him to return to the Dispensary so he can be ambushed, and although leaving Pollepel Island in the care of her fellow council members has given her more time to herself than she's had in months, she still has work unrelated to her position with the Ferry that keeps her away during the long, pale hours of the winter afternoon.

This is the way it's always been, even while they were still a part of the Vanguard and not identifying as the remnants of it. A fresh dusting of snow glitters in the trees outside the Dispensary, illuminated by the setting sun: a silver-white thing hanging in a slate gray sky with charcoal-coloured clouds that have a texture like oil paints, and Gabriel would know. He has enough experience with them.

Inside, the smell of boiled potatoes and liver sauteed in onions permeates the kitchen, left on low heat. They don't eat better here than they did up north, but there's an intimacy about Eileen's cooking that the fare on Pollepel lacked if only because the food she's working with is enough only for the four of them, and it's prepared with the other people at the table in mind. In a few hours, wooden chair legs will scrape against the floors, flatware will scratch porcelain and the fire in the hearth will build to a dull roar, providing ambiance like rain on the windows or the wind whistling through the threadbare trees outside.

Right now, it's empty, and so are the drafty corridors upstairs. Eileen's presence is reflected in the distant calls of wandering ocean birds and lines of sparrows huddled together for warmth in the elms. She's nearby, maybe not inside, but an old box small enough to fit comfortably in the worn palm of his dominant hand has been left on the stand beside his bed in the attic as a message.

She wants to play.

Mopping entails standing on a very worn dish cloth two feetedly, and shuffling along the track of slushy snow Gabriel had allowed to track through his attic room. It's sort of an oscillating hip movement based shuffle, arms out for no real reason apart from a mild attempt at balance, and for the most wanted man in America and all around scary dude, it's decidedly not. A step off the towel has his left foot dragging it around the rest of the way, before kicking the damp rag to the side.

He is dressed nicely. By their standards. Clean jeans, clean shoes, a V-necked sweater that's actually tucked in, with the sleeves rolled midway up his forearms, showing only half his eclipse-like tattoo. He even went ahead and shaved his face, which only happens on occasion, for all that Eileen never complained before. But in Gabriel Gray's world, cleaning up means these gestures.

He'd already noticed the box before, but now he actually picks up, psychic feelers charged with avian telepathy making intangible sweeps around him like antenna as he curls his thick fingers around the item. Boxes are for opening.

Gabriel opens it.

It's a watch, and not the kind that Eileen carries everywhere attached to a silver chain, tucked into the inside pocket of her silk-lined coat. This one is meant to be worn on the wrist — a man's wrist, if its bolder, heavier design is anything to judge by — and is defined by a brassy sheen and a rectangular shape with masculine curves for edges. The leather strap it's attached to has been as carefully preserved as the watch itself, almost as though it hasn't been worn since he parted ways with it more than twelve years ago.

This is assuming it's the same piece. The problem with memory is that it's sometimes a vague, malleable thing, making it difficult to trust with complete certainty. He used to have a watch like this one behind glass in Brooklyn until one day he sold it for the amount of sixty dollars. It did not, however, have the inscription that this one does, the lettering so fine that it might go unnoticed by a less attentive eye.

May You Both Run Forever

Surprise rushes air through Gabriel's noise in a breath in, letting the box tumble to the bed beside him as he pushes his fingers through the hoop of leather, letting the blocky watch settle against the backs of his fingers for the time it takes him to study it. He blinks at it. Blinks at his expression in it, incomprehension rendering him still and staring until he thinks to look it over closer and find the inscription needled into the metal, devaluing it in the eyes of some, but probably not his, no matter what his occupation used to be.

Stupidly, he looks around the room, like maybe he is suddenly not sure he wwwas meant to open this or. This has him picking up the box— but ultimately dropping it again. He found it. He found it because it was meant to be found. The Remnant, as a whole, are better at hiding things than this.

He sets about attaching it to his wrist to feel its weight and fit, even as his mind runs like a hamster wheel in the background of such simple movements.

The bird that lands in Gabriel's attic window is a long, sharp-looking lark with a saffron yellow chest that will attract his attention should the shrill melody it whistles out in greeting fail. Its pointy little feet disturb the snow gathered on the window's exterior, but these details are lost to the man inside; the thin layer of ice caked to the glass warps what's on the other side of the pane, reducing the songbird to a flash of gold and brown and a beak that snaps a swift hello.

Downstairs, one of Raith's dogs barks once to warn the occupants of the Dispensary that someone is coming up the drive. Falls silent again when its nose pulls out the scent of the Englishwoman's perfume from the crisp winter air and the cigarette smoke that accompanies it. Her booted feet do not make much sound crunching through the snow — she's too light — but the protesting groan of a door creaking open on the ground level is unmistakable.

It clicks gently shut again a moment later.

The summoning of his attention by the bird has Gabriel swiveling at the waist enough to glance for the window, hand still absently adjusting the sit of the watch, which is hopefully for him and not for him to give to Raith or Teo or Ethan. The context on such a gesture would be a little weird, after all, and a sluggish subconscious still absently gathering its notes and playing compare and contrast.

Focus in his brown eyes goes a little blank as he listens for sounds outside his visual range, a small telepathic radar-like projection to check what he doesn't really need to check. The corner of his mouth twitches, and then, through the window, the bird can observe him collapse. That's not actually a correct description, but might be the first assumption at the vague sight of Gabriel's sudden feet-first plummet through the floor, the attic floorboards over his head a split second later in raw gravity.

He pitches through the hallway immediately beneath. Through its floor. Down again.

By the time he's plummeting through the ceiling of the ground level, he suddenly catches himself in gentler anti-gravity as he morphs into inky blackness, which hits the dining table with all the velocity and offense of a cloud hitting a plane. It slithers aside to find the ground, Gabriel stepping out of the shadow as if he were just strolling down the stairwell.

The coat hung on the back of the chair Eileen favours at mealtimes belongs to her as well, and so do the lambskin gloves left on the table, though there's no physical sign of the woman herself, only the psychic tremor that shivers through the empathic connection she and Gabriel share. This makes it difficult for her to sneak up on him, but not impossible to move through the Dispensary without him pinpointing her exact location.

His shortcut downstairs has given him a head start; in the time it took him to pass through the floors, Eileen could not have gotten very far, and there are no footsteps echoing in the stairwell leading to the rooms on the second level, which is likely where Ethan and Raith are holed up, immersed in their own private worlds. Whittling. Thumbing through a copy of Cigar Afficiando. Maybe someone is cleaning his gun, and that's not a euphemism for anything.

Wherever she is, chances are that she's holding very still and listening for the sound of his next footstep so she can plot her move accordingly. It's not a perfect strategy, but this isn't a game that she's attempting to win in earnest. What makes it worth playing is eventually losing.

Eileen is quite possibly one of the only people in the world who wants Gabriel Gray to find her when she hides herself from him.

Maybe someone is masturbating. Not that Gabriel saw anything on the way down.


It takes a minor bit of restraint not to cheat this game, to stop time and search her out himself in the cover of blindness and a lack of eyes. He already has avian telepathy in any case, which acts as a sort of GPS with larks outside instead of satellites in space when you get close enough, and they are. There is minor irritation for his lack of audience, which at least means he has at least another opportunity to show off for a second time with people around to see it— "see" or see, he will take or leave either.

Mouth twists, backing up a step to observe the watermarks of demurely small boots tracking through the room. Gabriel moves with them, letting them track between his steps without disturbing the integrity of the shapes they make. He does not have a dishtowel to clean up.

The boot prints lead Gabriel around the table, past the hearth, fire low and flickering, and into one of the lesser-used hallways, all shadow and strange angles that would appear less alien if there was electricity in this part of the Dispensary to light it. The doors here are locked, and in the rooms on the other side of them, the windows have been boarded up to prevent entry from the outside. If they had more, they might want to utilize the space for extra storage.

They don't. The further away Gabriel gets from the fire, the harder it is to separate the wet tracks from the floor. Without light to reflect off their shimmering outline, they become dark blots that lose distinctness and shape.

He won't see the naked hand braced against the wall until he's almost passed it, fingers curled around the plaster edge of a narrow nook that's shallow enough for her body to fit but not so deep that she could effectively hide there if the lights were on. It's the shadows and the angle of the thing that conceals her from view — or would, if it wasn't for that hand. The rest of her body is visible, but like the boot prints: indistinct. Gabriel can make out the slope of the shoulder closest to him, and what might be her neck and the curve of her jaw.

She knows he's close. She's as motionless as a rabbit in a hawk's shadow.

This is fun. Stalking is fun. Sometimes you let the prey win a little, just enough, to keep things interesting. Dramatic monologues, casual strolls in the wake of frantic run. She can hear the way he lets the floorboards beneath his feet play out instead of ninja-deafening them in the manner that Wu-Long could, the creeping coming nearer and nearer. But to say that Gabriel likes to make things easy for people would be a lie — cheating is just as fun.

One second, that mutual telepathic acknowledgement is in one place. The next, it isn't, much closer, and his hand is already wrapping around her exposed wrist and pulling her out like someone tugging down a creeping vine off a drainpipe.

The hand that had been braced against the wall, either to steady her or to indicate her whereabouts to Gabriel, he may never know, leaves the resistance to its mate, and it doesn't put up much. Eileen catches his opposite arm, the one not clutching her, and squeezes fingers beneath his elbow so as not to be caught off-balance.

Off-guard is another story; his reward is a sharp, startled intake of breath that hitches in her throat, motivating her to seek out his wrist with her caught hand and physically confirm his identity by grazing her fingertips along the edge of the watch he's wearing, but it's ultimately everything else that banishes any confusion surrounding his identity.

Ethan and Raith tend not to grab her, or at least not anymore. "Mr. Gray," means the same as the lark's earlier twittering in Eileen-speak, prim and polite, tight with feigned affront. Her voice tends to get a little higher when she tries to make a joke; this is one of those times.

In some other divergent, undestroyed future, Mrs. Gray might be an appropriate response. Maybe not even divergent — give it a few years slash decades and maybe they will once more walk through redeeming, purging fires of government deals and redemptive leaps in jungles and a willingness to be normal and then the same can be true here too. But for now it's not so and the horizon holds no such promise, so instead, Gabriel only laughs, a dry sort of sound, dry like old velvet.

"Someone got me this watch," he tells her, nudging his wrist beneath her hand to better emphasis the feel of cool brass and glass under her touch, "probably for years of service. Do you like it?" There's an echo of a familiarly used line in his words. Whether this is a deliberate choice or, you know, an old turn of phrase is unclear.

Eileen makes a show of exploring the watch with her fingers, something she's undoubtedly done before, the edge of her thumbnail curving along glass face and leather band. Different materials produce different sounds, different sensations. In many ways, being blind has made her more aware of the world around her and has forced her to change how she interacts with it even though her approach appears much the same on the surface.

"I once bought one exactly like it from a boy who didn't seem to think very much of himself," she answers, and maybe this is some sort of test because his laughter is met with a slow smile that does a kind thing to her mouth and makes the words coming out of it sound more welcoming. "But I doubt he remembers me."

Words act like confirmation to the puzzle he had going beneath his brain that Gabriel was only partially aware of. He doesn't have a super memory anymore, but he doesn't have a bad one either.

"Probably not," Gabriel agrees, and she can feel his fingers flex and stretch against the underside of her arm as she feels the timepiece over like she hasn't before.

He can play this game too, and joins in with the same sort of facetiousness that stalking had been — it's not a voice unheard before he murders the fuck out of people either, but again, just like creeping along the hallway, this probably won't end in massive amounts of blood. "It's weird because I sold this to a woman I met back when I had a watch store in Brooklyn." You know the one. "And I sold it to her for about half the price. Not because I wanted to get laid or anything. Just remembered. Liked. I doubt she did. It was a long time ago."

A long time ago for Gabriel but not for Eileen. A long time ago for Eileen isn't just before a watch store in Brooklyn — it's before New York, before America. She lowers her eyes without needing to, lashes veiling a gaze that has turned contemplative and misty at the last thing he said, some sadness in her expression coming through on his behalf, though it does nothing to detract from the gentleness of her mouth.

"I remember my boy," she says, then. "I remember seeing in him the shadow of the man I knew he'd eventually become, and thinking how lonely it must be to have only that potential for company. It made me want to stay with him for awhile. Show him what he's shown me.

"Did you ever see your woman again?"

"Eventually." Gabriel's voice implies that he's blithely skating passed topics that make her eyes do things, and even their empathic connection doesn't hold much for her to read — he's had a long time to surgically sever himself from who he used to be. There was, unseen, a minor frown. Unsure exactly what he feels about Eileen seeing that person, that guy, but willing to coast along with time travel related romance rather than flip tables.

His back finds the opposite wall of the hallway, Eileen only needing to step forward several inches to follow. "In a laundromat." It happens a lot, in fictional New York City. "Hiro would have disapproved."

And she does step. She reaches up to rake fingers through his hair and push the longer strands away from his face in a gesture that's more habitual than functional. "It was a small rule to break," is the closest she comes to a concession, and she lets her hand fall back down, coming to settle on his chest. "Seeing you. Speaking with you, too, but at the laundromat. You're not the only one who's wanted to be remembered. Liked."

And because memory is that sometimes vague, malleable thing, she stops to allow a pause marked by fluttering blink. She should be able to remember who spoke first but can't, if it was she who said hello to him or the other way around. This is not among the details that stand out. "I don't think I was your woman then. Just a girl who would have been a safe match for the boy, and they could have been happy and docile together, living like deer instead of wolves."

Her breath of laughter is airy and thin. She winds fingers around his. "But you know— I'd rather have the sharper teeth."

Wolfish, but only intentionally so, Gabriel's nose nudges against the top of her head when his head dips slightly, breathing that leaks from mouth and nose both warm against her dark hair. Perfume and smoke in it. "Bambi was a sad movie," is agreement, mumbled, growled. They're not a sad movie, not exactly. Sometimes weird Japanese-inspired horror and 80s splatter, sometimes a little depressing, but not sad like. Deer.

"Thanks for the watch." Which is better than thanks for the sixty bucks. She, after all, rescued it from someone else. Marked it for him. And now he wears it like he wouldn't have before.

"You're very welcome for the watch." Which is better than thanks for not charging me the full one hundred and twenty dollars. Eileen lifts her head, chin raised, and meets his mouth to mutter against it without kissing him, "Come and help me put some tea on. It's dreadful out tonight and I feel like I've spent the past few hours soaking in the Atlantic."

Despite not being wet, her skin is still cold to the touch and there are motes of light twinkling in her hair where errant flakes of snow eager to fall have not yet melted. His physical proximity helps, but something hot to drink and a seat by the fire would be better. "We'll eat soon enough. Then a game of Black Lady with Ethan and Jensen.

"Maybe you'll get lucky this time and shoot the moon."

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