Second Square


gabriel_icon.gif helena_icon.gif

Scene Title Second Square
Synopsis A conversation between Alice and the Mad Hatter. Or Helena and Gabriel, if you will. Both find themselves re-evaluating the other.
Date May 29, 2009

Old Dispensary - Basement

Quiet night at the Old Dispensary, in that Gabriel isn't making a lot of noise. Or moving. This might have something to do with last night's encounter with Rickham followed up by this evening's clash with Peter, but also the want to not draw attention to himself. Not like this.

His lanky frame is currently sprawled on the same couch he'd been set down in. Medical supplies are scattered and littered on the coffee table, basic first aid with the addition of needle and thread, which was mostly nudged aside. From the debris, it seems as though an attempt at clean the deeper scrapes has been made, cotton damp with dark red and the immediate vicinity carrying the scent of antiseptic, overriding the smell of earth, rainwater and blood.

Most notably is the deep cut to his forehead, although this is obscured with the haphazard bandaging he's gathered into a hand and is simply pressing there to ease the blood flow. Otherwise, Gabriel has happened beneath through about ten brawls, bruises ringing his neck as if he'd been throttled, scattered across his face, and various scrapes and cuts too numerous to inventory properly. It has been a rough week and now he rests, one foot kicked up on the opposite arm and eyes closed.

Certainly listening, though, never truly asleep.

Helena comes into the basement, having put Gillian to bed upstairs. She looks around in faint disgust, as it seems to her Gabriel ransacked the infirmary. Studying his silent form for a few moments, she begins to move as quietly as possible to clean it all up.

The sound of foot steps has him remaining as he is, as if waiting for whoever is passing by to simply go away. Then there's the sound of that someone attempting to tidy up the gutted first aid kit, and Gabriel lets his eyes slide open, pulling away the balled up bandaging from the spade-wound at his forehead. The bandages have gone dark red, nearing purple at the edges, but at least— the wound is clean. "I was— " He clears his throat, dozing voice coming out too raspy, though the defensiveness remains in his voice when he tries again. "I was going to clear it up."

"It's fine." Helena says quietly. She continues with her efforts, moving to and fro with care and no particular evidence of distress or dismay at Gabriel's presence. "You don't need to be exerting yourself anyway, really. We can have one of the medics look you over tomorrow, just make sure everything's alright." The offer is neither warm, nor grudging. Gabriel is just a person, and if she fears him, she's apparently realized there are others she's come to fear more. "Gillian told me you augmented Peter."

Gabriel's boot shifts against the arm of the couch to lever himself up a little, shoulders sliding up the other until he is at least partially sitting up. There's a patch of blood on the arm of the couch, long since dried, where he now rests the back of his head. As for the offer, it's not something he touches immediately, hands fidgeting with the bandages to perhaps find a dry patch. "He started it," is the wry confirmation.

"Very third grade of you." she replies, but something in her tone suggests humor. As she stacks a box of bandages to one side, her next question comes in a much more serious tone. "What's going to happen to him now, with your ability? Will he do what you did?"

"It was very third grade." Readily admitting that much, with the shoving and the hairpulling and the namecalling, and Gabriel lazily watches the movements of Helena's hands as she cleans up the warzone of medical supplies. "It will try to change him. Then it's a question of whether he lets it," Gabriel says, his voice dull and quiet, unreadable as to what he thinks now that the dust has settled, and the anger has drained away. "I want to see if he can fight it."

"Is there anything at all I can do to help him?" she asks. The look she gives him is very frank and then, "You've got some nasty bruising. Want ice?" Being matter-of-fact seems safest, it's not that she needs to hold herself together. She's holding herself together just fine, even as she realizes with some internal amazement that this conversation is occurring. She is offering aid to the man who attempted to kill her once, and the funny part is, it doesn't feel wrong or hypocritical to do so.

Gabriel looks up towards her face, judgment able to be interpreted there despite the battering he's undergone, the starbursts of black and blue and smears of red and the beginnings of swelling somehow doing little to mask what he doesn't want masked. But he shrugs, with a slight wince at the movement. "I'd like some ice. And if you're smart, you'll stay away from him. You make a tempting target."

"I'll be right back." Helena heads out of the room for a few moments, and when she comes back, she's got a tray with both a compress on it as well as a bowl of water and a washcloth. She gestures vaguely for him to move his legs so she can sit next to him and offers him the compress. "You almost did that," she makes a vague gesture to her forehead, "To Gillian, but you didn't. How were you able to stop? I don't exactly understand your power, so I don't really know what he's going through, so I'd appreciate what you can tell me."

Gabriel draws long legs inwards at her gesture, shifting to sit up properly, feet on the floor and leaning against the back, picking up the offered compress, turning it in his hands as if delaying. "Thank you," he offers. "Practice." The compress is pressed against where the swelling is the worst, making no sound of displeasure, jaw only tensing a little. "Gillian used her ability on me, accidentally. It would trigger one of mine, but I could usually control it. But that time she triggered my first power. It's the only one I couldn't. When she stopped, things were clear enough to— stop."

The compress is drawn away again, a drawn out breath of something like relief. "I learned to prioritise, that's all. Sometimes simply killing someone because I wanted what they could do wouldn't get me to what I needed in the long run. It's not about murder, it's about power, and it makes you want it like there's nothing else in the world. It changes you and you adapt. I was never a murderer, I was a watch maker. I don't know what will help Peter aside from time and willpower.

"Or maybe he'll be the better man." A faint sneer. "We'll see."

Helena dips the cloth into the water and lifts it to indicate she wants to clean him up a little, if he permits it. "I don't mean to argue, but the part where a person's alive and then you make them not be? Is not quite the same as fixing someone's Swatch." Her tone is faintly wry. Oh look, she makes jokes now. But her next words are curious, and more serious. "Do you want it back?"

She does make jokes, and Gabriel is insensitive enough to let the corner of his mouth go up in a smirk, and otherwise permits the cleaning by not moving. There's dirt as much as there is dried blood, and if she's seen the small garden up on the rooftop, she'll know why. "It's in the brain. Abilities, everything. Life doesn't factor in when you open up a clock. At the time… opening up someone's head amounted to the same. My ability— it numbs you."

That last question has been danced around, and after a moment, he says, "I do. In some ways it's a relief. Not to have it. But there's a second side to it, beyond the killing. Peter would know that had he ever come to me. But he'd already made up his mind, about what it was. About what I am." The bitterness lances through his voice.

One hand touches his chin, uses it to keep his face stady and turn it in whatever direction suits her attention at the time. She cleans away the dirt and blood, dipping the cloth in the water now and again to clean before starting again. "What do you think you are?" The question is curious. "I only know what I see, what I experience. And since experience is subjective…"

A couple of short hours ago, he'd balked at the idea of Peter even coming near him in any helpful capacity, perhaps welcoming brawl over a selflessly helping hand. He'd even evaded Gillian's attempts at looking after him, turning her away to create a snow storm. Here, Gabriel remains tolerant. Perhaps the right questions are being asked.

Even if it's one he can't immediately answer. "I don't know," he says. "But I know I'm not my ability. I'm not who I was before it, either. I guess I'll figure it out when I have it back."

"But if you're not your ability, can't you at least begin to explore that question without it?" Helena asks, turning his head to one side as she works.

"I have," Gabriel says, lightly, turning as urged and studying her face while her focus is on the task of cleaning his skin rather than watching him. "Are you hoping I'll tell you I'm a hero? An ally? A good Samaritan?"

Helena lets out one of those laughs that happen from the throat and don't really make it entirely out of the mouth, something like a snicker and a snort. A snork? "I'm not hoping for anything." she says honestly. "You can't really make people be heroes unless it's something they want, if we're allies, it's because of convenience rather than benevolence, and frankly the day I see you helping little old ladies across the street, I may expire from hilarity." Her eyes flick up to him. "Correct me if I'm wrong, though. I'm at least trying to give up presumption."

"That's more than I would have given you credit for," Gabriel says, bluntly honest, as well as aloof appreciation. "It's not like I deserve it, even after Moab." These words are spoken dully - simple fact and without delusion, but not quite containing criticism either. "I'm not a monster, that would be too simple, and I'm not innocent. The rest— " An eyebrow twitches up, and a wince writes itself across his face when Helena's wash cloth brushes over broken skin. "If you have time to find it out yourself, you can let me know."

Helena finishes with her efforts, drops the washcloth in the basin. "Don't get me wrong." she says, folding her hands in her lap. "If you try to kill me, I'm going to try to kill you right back. But I don't think the situation right now calls for it on either of our parts." She frowns a little. "I want to know what you think." she says. "About everything. FRONTLINE, Pinehearst, the Company. This war that they say is coming. I'm not interested in persuading you to any particular point of view, but I do want to know what you think, if you're willing to tell me."

"Healthy," is Gabriel's simple observation. As to Helena wishing to kill him back should he start it. He settles back into the corner of the couch once it seems she's done, briefly taking the washcloth and cleaning dried blood from his fingers, wiping off what remains on his pant legs before picking up the cold compress. "FRONTLINE sounds like their way of fighting with fire. Sounds like fun, too." His words are pure coincidence, ignorant to what Helena knows of a possible future, sardonic. The compress is applied to the side of his face where fist shaped bruises are paint is skin a mottled blue and green.

"It also sounds like the start of the war. You can't have one without an army. Pinehearst sounds— greedy. Where do they fit in anyway?"

"They're a rival corporation to the Company." Helena says, thoughtful as she mentally shuffles her knowledge of Pinehearst around, trying to decide what's safe and what isn't to tell him. "In the future I saw, they become sort of all-powerful, their fingers in every pie, especially where the government and Evolved are concerned." A pause, and another thoughtful frown lead her to add, "I think there's a place and a time for FRONTLINE. But I don't think here and now are it. It'll be used as a means to suppress any Evolved that the government deems unsuitable, not just criminals."

Gabriel nods once, and decides the headache rattling around in his skull doesn't need the movement, eyes closing a little while she talks and opening once it's time for him to respond. "Yes," he agrees, simply. "Homeland Security wasn't enough, that much we all managed to prove." The compress is shifted to the back of his neck, sliding up reluctantly towards the head injury beneath his hair, another wince. "Can't blame them for adapting, they're just going awfully fast. If Pinehearst wants to take down the Company, let them. But perhaps it's in the world's best interest to get a handle on their weak points. I can't say I'm not intrigued."

"Except Pinehearst becomes just as corrupt." Helena points out. "And at its center is a very dangerous man. Whether he's already succumbed to the corruption that the power he has brings to him, or it hasn't happened yet - that, I don't know." She shakes her head. "And honestly, if an Evolved versus Non war really does happen? The chess game between the two corporations may not matter anyway. You can't play if you blow up the board."

"Then it either matters or it doesn't. You choose the lesser of the two evils. In your future, there was no war, and Pinehearst was all powerful. It probably won't matter, anyway." Gabriel shakes his head a little, gaze breaking from her. "It won't come down to a matter of choice, not on our parts. You can either be a pawn or you can ignore the board entirely. That's usually been the way I've always worked."

The smile he offers her is small and somewhat canine, not quite the wolfish grin but almost. His eyes remain cold, detached, as he withdraws the compress, folds it in on itself. "Play a different game or sacrifice yourself to make a difference."

"You can be the White Queen's Pawn, if you like, as Lily's too young to play; and you're in the Second Square to began with: when you get to the Eighth Square you'll be a Queen." murmured quoting of Through The Looking Glass seems oddly apropos at the moment, even if this is a bit like Alice taking advice from the Mad Hatter. She rises. "Try to get some sleep." she says after a moment.

He sets the compress down by the other medical supplies, glancing up at her as she goes to move. A pause, before Gabriel says, "I'll be out of here by the morning." His tone remains neutral, ambiguous as to whether this is reassurance on his part or simple fact.

Helena nods in acceptance of this, but without any sort of relief evident. "I'd like," she begins, and stops, thoughtful. "I think you know I won't agree with everything you have to say," she begins, "But I think it would be smart for me to hear you say it. Will you leave a way for me to contact you?"

Lifting his legs back up onto the couch, where he's made his temporary home for the evening, Gabriel rests his shoulder against the arm of the furniture and then studies Helena for a moment. Then, he nods once. Will do. He shifts to lie down again, finding comfort despite his proportions in relation to the couch. The kind of man who can and can't sleep anywhere. "Thanks for the ice."

"Thanks for the talk." she replies, turning and vanishing into darker and less known parts of the building.

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