Slagging Off


abby6_icon.gif howard_icon.gif

Scene Title Slagging Off
Synopsis Abby and Howard butt heads, with the latter bearing the brunt of her anger, when he lays down a threat and a mis-interpreted mutter.
Date November 29, 2010

Pollepel Island - Outside

It's almost comical really. Maybe even looking much like the start of some horror movie or maybe a soft porn when you think about. For Howard, well, perhaps it's a sense of Deja-Vu with regards to his own ability.

The empty boots, socks hanging out of their mouth tossed haphazard to the ground, a few feet beyond is a jacket, fisherman's sweater, another few feet and around the perimeter of the back of the castle so goes the trail of clothing. If there had been a men's set there would have been some witty remark about what Howard might expect at the end would have been R rated or possibly NC-17.

It's more likely to be Michael Bayish if the scorch marks on the white undershirt are any indication as to what may lay beyond, the garment a little brown as if the fibers hadn't had prolonged contact. Jeans, the belt undone but not taken out of the loops and melted snow in the shape of vague footprints showed a hop or two taken to get out of them.

It's as he comes across the sports bra that he can hear the bellow "fu-" that's cut off by the hiss and audible whuff similar to a puddle of liquid gas as it's ignited. His intended target isn't that far away it seems and coming around a crumbling wall, he can see her as well as feel the heat that rolls off her. Scorches the dying if now dead grass beneath the snow. Leave black on the walls and burns up the moss that's grown between them.

It seems her time spent outside the time she had been here was to find a safe place to ignite in case she did. On the ground, scraps of clothing, whatever remained on her has burned, last bits giving up the ghost and join the residual detritus of leaves, twigs and grass that comprised her location. Her back to anyone who might be coming in, she's adjusting to her changed state, unaware that there's anyone else near her and seems to be looking at the ground that her form and the flames that flicker about her in the various hues, floats just a fraction above. Below, right under her, in the scorched ground in a puddle of gold.

Howard Phillips isn't much of a collector of clothing, a fan of the functional and the utilitarian. That he has an armful of women's clothing may give the wrong impression at times, and that they belong to Abigail Caliban would perhaps have even more misunderstandings, were the situation not as it is. Standing just outside of arm's reach for the discarded bra, Howard has a hand raised and eyes narrowed against the heat being generated from Abigail's incendiary form.

Squinting up at the sky overhead, Howard wrinkles his nose and looks back to the molten shape of living flame in vague silhouette of female form. He doesn't address it, doesn't deign to play Moses to Abigail's burning bush. Instead, Howard slowly crouches down to the ground, keeping her clothing clutched towards his bare chest, jacket unzippered and loosely draped over his skinny frame. One hand steadies his balance with fingertips pressed into the snow, and Howard's head angles crookedly, watching Abigail's fiery form flicker and gutter like a campfire.

It's beautiful, seeing fire come alive in this way. Hypnotic too.

Dusk is settling in, but the choice was hope she didn't ignite in the building, and if she did, chance doing damage there, or try to make for the spot that she's scouted out. Just in case. Contingency plans and all. Somehow, she doubted that Eileen would appreciate parts of the castle burning down, much less anyone else.

If she was anywhere else, she also might wander around, give in a little to being in the state she is. But she's on an island, darkness is fast approaching with the sun sinking at a mighty clip and there is… a voyeur.

He knows when she spots him, a turn of her head, the difference in warmth between Howards and the rest of the background, makes her form straighten, flames around her compact in, burn a little brighter, leaving the reds and oranges and shifting towards the yellows of all shades. She's surprised. Abigail also can't make out who it is, but hands come up, pointing for him to go back around the wall, shooing motions with her palms, each finger outlined but no more detail than that. She also takes a step away from the small puddle of gold so that she's not directly atop it.

Hissing as the heat intensifies, Howard creeps back more out of necessity than anything else. His heat signature is completely improbably in Abigail's vision, it is lopsided. One arm is hotter than the other by noticeable amounts, his lower right leg too, and the core of his chest burns twice as warm as an ordinary person's, his eyes, the top of his head, all points of radiated heat brighter than an ordinary man's.

"Easy," Howard finally snaps, as if Abigail were somehow at fault for this and not Howard for disturbing her. "I— have your clothes," sounds as though he's holding them for ransom, perhaps as insurance that she doesn't incinerate him where he stands out of flight of fancy. God knows he's been tempted to do worse to people who bother him before.

"It's… it's just me," Howard helpfully details without so much as an utterance of his name. "I have your, ah, underwear." Don't burn me, I have panties.

God, to be able to speak and not just hear. His tone causing a flare up, but she pauses in her motions in trying to get him to go away or at least out of sight and tamps down her heat, bring it down, back down to the oranges and red. She recognizes the voice, marks down in her memory the sight that is him, then is at it again. Shooing motions, pointing to the crumbling wall he came around.

Up comes her palm, pretending to be the wall, upright, unmoving. Her other hand points downward, forefinger and thumb mimicking a person walking around that wall and then staying put.

The she points to the wall again, praying that he clues in. She's not reverting, in front of him, buck naked.

Awkwardly swallowing, the noise in the back of Howard’s throat is decidedly subtle. Crouching as he does with his back to the crumbling wall, one hand shielding his face from the crackling heat, there is a sound akin to the sap and pop of fire that joins the impossible noises created by Abigail’s living flame.

Electricity pops and sputters down Howard’s hand, static crackling that almost seems to answer the fire’s own natural call. His sneakered feet scuff along the snowy ground, scrape up cold clumps of frozen soil beneath that thin layer of frost. Back against the wall, Howard follows its length, trying to put distance between himself and the source of heat as much as Abigail had instructed.

By the time he rounds the corner of the broken stone partition, there’s a few more popping electrical snaps and a low noise of live voltage along with faint blue lights flickering behind the rubble top of the wall. When Howard slouches down behind it, all that is heard soon after is the sound of labored breathing, and the static popping begins to die down.

Then silence.

He's gone, around the corner, watching the trail of his heat that he leaves behind. When he's out of sight, good and out of sight, Abigail hunkers down, crouches above the grass, tucks her head to her knee’s in as much as she can do such a thing and begins her own concentration. Igniting is a lot easier than stopping the flame and this part doesn’t come so easy to her.

Ten seconds, fifteen, thirty, it’s nearly a minute later when it starts, flames giving their last flicker like a candle that’s just not got anymore wick to cling to before skin starts to patchily show through, coronal skin giving way to pink flesh as if a piece of paper were burning away. Here and there, it’s never uniform and not with nearly the same action packed display that turning into flame presents, it’s another fifteen seconds before Abigail is huddled on the ground, arms clasped around her drawn up knees with her eyes closed, lips moving is low whispered prayers.

“-ollowed by thine name. Thine kingdom come, thine will be done, on earth as it is in he..aven” Things sound different, not like she’s got a plate of glass between herself and the rest of the world and one blue eye is cracked open as she quiets.

“Howard?” Please do not have died. Please.

It takes a good long moment for Howard to actually make any confirmation of his status. It comes not verbally, but with flying textiles. A pair of jeans are hurled blindly up and over the wall, legs windmilling through the cold air before landing down with a soft crunch in what little remains of melted snow.

Clearing his throat, Howard takes a moment to explain, “I— didn’t get the bra. So…” Clothing is flung over the wall, the old fisherman’s sweater whipping atop the brick to fall just a foot away from the opposite side from Howard’s hiding spot.

“I won’t, like… offend your modesty or nothin’.” Awkwardly spoken, even more awkwardly realized that he’s in this predicament. “Lemme know when you ain’t, uh, that way no more.”

“Pants and sweater are all that I’m concerned about, because it is cold out here and I can’t really just start up the engine again for a few minutes” She replies, shivering in spot till the clothes are flung into range and she’s lunging for them. “Inconvenient. I find it funny really. This all wouldn’t be so bad really if I just came back in something more than my birthday suit. I have to wonder why the lord see’s fit to have it be this way”

You know, naked as a jaybird upon reverting. She’s quick, the jeans slid on, buttons through holes, belt done. The singed shirt, undershirt, screw the bra, and jacket. Which leaves just cold feet on the ground but it could be worse. She be standing in snow. “ All goo-”

It’s when she looks down to her feet that she remembers what it was that had caught her attention while ignited and looks down to the cooling puddle of snow, wiping all trace of a smile - from the situation that they found themselves in - as she reaches down with one hand, making as if to touch the molten metal. The other hand covering her mouth in horror. She of course, doesn’t actually touch it.

“No…no, no, no, no, no, no. Oh lord no” Abigail switches to her knees instead of feet, kneeling over the spot in the grass, fingers fretting around it, toes digging in. “No.”

The sound of Howard’s approaching footsteps come up slow behind where Abby crouches on the ground. Each crunching footfall slower than the next as he starts to suss out the details of what happened. By the time he’s stopped walking, Howard’s presence is a silent one behind Abigail as she views the cooling remains of melted gold.

“It didn’t suit you,” is Howard’s reaction, arms crossing over his chest, brows furrowing. “The ring, I mean.” Blue eyes flick down from their stare at the back of Abby’s head to the molten metal, then back again. “Rings can be replaced. Dunno why you’d want to, though.”

“Because its my wedding ring and it’s all that I have of him right now. Because it matches his and…” And she’s angry at herself, not at him. “I should have kept my cross, I should have left it on the necklace. I can get it off me quicker, I couldn’t get the ring off. I tried but it was too late. Too worried about getting my clothes off”

Maybe if he wasn’t almost a stranger, he might get a conveniently placed elbow to his dick and balls. But he’s still a stranger. Mostly. “Why do you say it didn’t suit me? I think it does. He could have gotten me something big and gaudy, dripping in diamonds but he went with getting a matching one” Only much thinner. There goes a tear, she’s crying over her melted wedding ring, resigned to staying out here till it’s cool enough she can pick it up.

“And it’s not so replaceable when you only have so much cash on your person and no access to anymore. They’re not cheap” And they’re symbolic. She runs a sleeve across her cheeks, looking up towards him. “You find my boots?”

“Stream.” Howard murmurs, glancing over his shoulder, then back to Abby. “I hung ‘em up on a branch, they’re… wet.” He dodges any further discussion of the ring or marriage with that distraction, looking frustrated as he steps around from behind Abby, looking down to the puddle of melted slag before crouching down beside her.

Silent for a little while, Howard closes his eyes and exhales a frustrated sigh out his nose. When blue eyes open again, they’re searching to meet Abby’s. “That,” he points down to the ring with two fingers, “doesn’t matter a’shit.” His fingers lift up, reaching out and pressing against the center of Abby’s chest abruptly, just below her collar.

That matters,” and his hand begins to retract. “More’n anything else, more’n a ring, more’n paper. What you feel in there, that’s your ring. However tarnished it gets.”

“It’s something to take off my finger and hold at night Howard. God is in my heart and my soul, but I still wear my cross because it makes me feel closer to Him. The ring works the same way.” She shies away from the touch, not swatting his hand, not even a motion made to, just shoulders that curve inwards, back curves inward and her ass making contact with the ground as she is seriously intending to wait.

“I was trying to keep the room warm. I thought, another degree, I can go another degree, warm the room faster and I won’t pop. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have done it, I got too ambitious. Been so long since I’ve been able to play with it, and to manipulate it and… a melted ring is what I get and wet boots and a stranger telling me that I don’t need the ring”

Now she looks up. “Exploring the island, or looking for me?”

“You’re an idiot,” Howard mutters as he presses his hands to his feet and pushes up to stand straight. “Sentimental. That’ll get you killed one’a these days.” Despite the words, Howard’s tone is gentler than the context would imply. He reaches up to scratch at the back of his neck, look down to his feet, then back to Abby.

“I had t’piss and the shitter had a line going to it.” Blue eyes avert from the brunette, and Howard’s staring across the expanse of stick-bare trees. “I was just walking back when I saw your laundry trail…”

“Then get rid of your jacket Howard. And I’ll stop crying over my ring”

Challenge. Whats good for the goose is good for the Gander. “Take comfort in that you’re not the only one to think that very thing and it’s gotten me nearly killed plenty of times. I just seem to have friends that see fit to pluck me out of it all” Knee’s up, arms around knee’s, looking away from the ground and off towards wherever it is that he’s looking.

Shoes hanging from a tree branch by tied laces is what Abby finds.

Howard doesn’t shed his jacket, nor does he offer more than a snort to Abby’s challenge. Wiping his nose with the back of his hand, Howard looks away and down to his feet. “Well, yeah… Anyway— “ he starts to turn away, content to just leave Abby sitting there by herself, or at least appear as though he’s content to. “Thanks for patching up my coat,” is days belated.

“Don’t do it again,” sounds less like thanks.

“”I left you a note. I thought I was doing something nice for you, for someone who’s in a less than ideal situation and could use a little kindness. Habit of mine.” No statement to whether she’ll do it again, odds are not. “Is the watch the same as the jacket?” Abigail sighs, unfolding so she can try and go for her shoes.

Mention of the watch has Howard pausing in his tracks, brows tensing up and eyes narrowing. When he looks to the side, its in the direction of Abby’s voice, but he doesn’t make that necessary turn of his head to actually see her. “That’s…” apparently a difficult topic, as the proverbial cat seems to have Howard’s tongue.

“It was a gift,” is an awkwardly delivered answer. He turns, now, watching Abby headed for the twiggy birch tree he’d hung the boots from. “Back home, I mean— my real home.” Blue eyes wander to the molten gold of Abigail’s slagged ring, then back to the brunette.

“Sullivan Brothers Carnival,” is quietly explained, and Howard’s brows pinch together worriedly. “Government saw fit t’fuck with that life, so… whatever. It’s supposed to show the way home.” Howard’s tone of voice seems more resentful every moment he’s on this topic.

“If you ask me it’s fucking broken.” Because he doesn’t think this is home.

“How on earth does a watch show you the way home?” And carnival. There’s true confusion on Abigail’s face as she goes up on toes, fingertips scrabbling against the leather and rubber soles, trying to get a grip on the fashion statement. Fruitlessly.

“It’s a watch, a pocket watch, I gave Robert one from an antique store. They tell time Howard” Oh so conveniently pointed out. Hop. No success. “I need some help”

Sniffling noisily from the cold, Howard looks from the boots to Abigail and back again, then rolls his eyes and starts to walk towards where the boots are hanging. “It’s a compass,” Howard eagerly corrects, as is his nature. “Fuck if I know how it actually works, a… feller named Samuel gave it to me. Told me it would show the way home, y’know? It ain’t a one of a kind thing, everybody at the Carnival had one.”

Reaching up to the branch he’d hung the boots on, Howard unhooks them and then lets them dangle by their tied-together laces from one crooked finger, held down in Abby’s reach. “Let my friend out,” is abruptly demanded as Howard lifts the boots back up out of arm’s reach. “He ain’t done nothing.”

“It is not a compass. Compasses don’t come like that” Not the kind that she’s seen anyways. You know, if you’re going by the whole ‘I never looked inside the thing’ theory. “Samuel?” If she saw a picture, she’d remember the man from coney island and the man who knelt over a dying timejumper and begging her to heal him. “Maybe it’s broken?”

And maybe, Abby doesn’t have that power. “I don’t have control over what they do with him Howard. He left the island, that’s all I know. He came back and they’re paranoid and rightfully so. I can make sure that he’s okay, I can see if I can visit him, but, I don’t have that power. I’m sorry. Things changed while I was stuck with a GPS transmitter on my ankle”

Bullshit.” A crackle of electricity snaps down Howard’s fingers with the sharply stated word. “You’re on their fucking council, you got just as much say in this as anyone else does. Your people are a god damned democracy and some blind cunt ain’t got any more reason t’do anything than you do.”

Howard is practically bristling with frustration now, a few more popping snaps of electricity crackling between his fingers like a Jacob’s ladder. “You tell them you got a say in it, and you call for a fucking vote. That’s how your shit works, unless this changed from the Ferrymen t’something else when I wasn’t lookin’.”

Taking a step towards Abby, Howard’s brows knit together. “You get my buddy outta’ there, or I will.”

“I’m off the island tomorrow Howard” She doesn’t take a step back, even with the snapping, crackling and popping of his Kellog’s rice krispies. “I’m gone, and out of New York after that. I can’t stay here and I can’t go home to my husband and I can’t go back south unless I want to end up six feet under and my loved ones with me.”

Abigail closes that gap between then, regardless of whether she might get shocked, locking her eyes on him, but looking less friendlier. “Here’s something to learn about Eileen. Blind she may be, once she’s on a course, she committed and there is nothing that I can say, that will change that. I’ve known her long enough to realize that. You’ll want to go talk to Barbara, or to Lynette, Pastor Sumter or a handful of the others who are still alive and on the council, what’s left of the council after the government summarily executed them”

Abigail turns, goes up on the balls of her feet, taking off at a quick walk across the ground, sticking to where her path had melted snow, leaving the puddle of gold to be picked up later.

“Good example,” Howard looks down to the shoes hanging off of his finger, shaking his head and exhaling a frustrated sigh, letting them slip off and drop down to the ground beside him. “‘Cause the Ferry should trade all its freedom because it’s afraid. Funny how that sounds so fuckin’ familiar doesn’t it?”

Howard’s hands curl into fists, his brows furrow and a glare is leveled at the dark silhouette of Bannerman Castle. He’s shouting at her back, arguing with her retreat, and he knows how futile that much is. “Fuck this,” Howard murmurs to himself, turning his back on Abigail with a wave of one hand in the air flippantly.

“I’ma get Walter,” Howard mutters to himself, one hand rubbing up over his face as he turns to retreat into the opposite side of the woods.

“Maybe Howard if this was the Ferry that I used to heal for, who would give me a place to crash if I wasn’t near my home and wouldn’t make it there” Abigail’s flipping around, short hair no longer able to do it’s dramatic splay of golden blonde in an arc. :( “But it’s not anymore, hasn’t been for a few months”

She’s strode fast back across the ground when he started getting flippant, face pinched in anger. ‘This isn’t that Ferry. Susan Ball killed that Ferry and now we’re on a fucking island in the middle of the Hudson river with maybe two fifths actually comprised of Ferry people, do you understand that? At all?”

Her hand comes down on his shoulder in an attempt to turn him around so he can face her, all 5’7 of her looking up at him. “We’re on an Island Howard. You didn’t crash in a plane to get here, but you did come by a boat and you do have to deal with the crazy locals, and their evolved abilities. It was his choice to come back, and he came back. Now he has to deal with the consequences. Just like anyone else who leaves the island. If you don’t like them, then you bring it up to management instead of me. Benji isn’t special. If anyone else who wasn’t Ferry had pulled what he did, they would be in the same predicament. Add in the DoEA on his ID card. There’s a big problem right there.”

Her forefinger pokes at his chest, hard. “Don’t think of using me, thinking that you can play to my reputation as a softie. Cozy up to god girl, cause she’s such a sentimental sap she fixed my jacket for me.” Another poke. “You know that the compass can suss out large groups of evolveds. I bet it spins wildly in your hand because it does in mine, but if you put it on the ground, it’ll point right to that castle right there. Because that’s what it’s meant to do. Because we all give off some sort of signature, that that compass can detect. Getting it from a carnival is bullshit Howard. I never heard of any carnival of that sort”

She really hasn’t. Knowingly. “It’s institute. I’ve seen pictures of others, and I have a non-working digital one” Whether it’s at home or on her person, who knows. “Which means that the fat lot of you, Benji, Hanna, you, are being considered to be plants Howard. And if you even think of taking that baby away from it’s mother I will grab the knife I used to slit that deers throat and I will have no compunction of slitting you from your netherparts all the way up to your throat, do you hear me Howard?”

There’s a lot of ways that Howard could respond to that, to everything Abigail’s fuming and steaming anger has produced. Like night and day, Howard’s reaction is withdrawing, growing less visibly angered, more flat and neutral and impassive. His lips betray his emotions, curved down into a frown.

Fuck you,” is softly stated as confirmation that he did — indeed — hear her and most assuredly doesn’t seem to give a shit. Shaking her hand off of his shoulder, Howard swats her wrist aside with a wave of his hand, then takes a step back.

“An’ fuck your piece’f shit network too.” Blue eyes look to the castle, then back to Abigail. “Soon’s Benji’s outta your fucking cage, we’re gone. Don’t need your bullshit, not me, not anybody’s. An’ one day, I ain’t gonna’ be the only one sick of Ruskin’s paranoia.”

Blue eyes narrow slowly. “You hear me, Abigail?

“Loud as a bell Howard. But remember this. I know what I can do to you, and if you think of breaking him out before they let him out, I’ll come find you and give you a big ol’hug

And then she’s back, five steps, five feet away. Maybe he knows what’s coming, maybe he doesn’t. Enough time has passed, that internal clock reset and unlike when she’s scared into doing it, It’s instantaneous. Clothes burn up and start to drop to the ground in an ashy cloud. Blink of an eye, the transformation from human to flame quicker than you can snap your fingers, the air goes from cold to unearthly hot and hotter as she feints a step toward him.


Like that day on the docks, Howard reacts adversely to the sudden temperature changes. There’s a sharp intake of breath, frustrated expression shifting mercurially quick from angry to horrified. If it were Abigail’s intention to surprise him, that’s exactly what she manages to do the moment the temperature snaps from cold to hot in a blast furnace moment.

In whatever sort of reaction that Howard experiences on temperature changes, electricity suddenly erupts over his body. It’s as quick as the temperature increases, a sudden surge of crackling bolts of lightning up and down his arms, over his jacket, through his hair that begins to stand on end and in his wide and terrified eyes.

He doesn’t even have time to say anything before the electrical discharge starts to blast out of him, no time to even so much as mouth a warning before an explosive bolt of lightning harmlessly snaps from his palm and through Abigail’s living fire form, striking the ground with a buzzing rumble.

Howard’s scream is louder, electricity crackling inside of his mouth, lightning up his skin beneath his flesh where blackened burns begin to appear on his fingertips, palm and down one side of his neck. Smoke issues from the jacket Abigail had worked to fix, one she had patched the burned spots over, one that Howard cherished more than anything except perhaps the safety of his friends.

Like hitting a bug zapper with a cup of water, Howard erupts in a sudden blossoming flower of electricity bright enough to be seen all the way across the water. Leaping arcs of lightning that spring from the top of his head, his shoulders where they burn holes through his coat, out from his legs and up through his mouth. Smoke issues from his body and Abigail can see something glowing beneath his flesh inside his chest, light radiating out between his ribs in blue-white color.

Arms shake, fingers curl and Howard is launched backwards before landing down on the ground, back arching and heels of his smoldering sneakers scruffing in the dirt. His fingers curl on the ground, eyes wrench shut and tears sizzle as they roll down the sides of his face.

By the time the electrical discharge — and the screaming — has stopped, Howard lays still on the ground, tendrils of smoke coming from the few circular holes burned in his jacket where electricity was sent rocketing up through it. A couple of tiny sparks of electricity dance and snap over him, and then all is quiet.

All save for Howard’s labored, wheezing breaths.

Okay, somewhere in her, in a very private place, Abigail is very horrified at what she just did.

But that very private place is probably right where the Grinch’s dark heart bound in iron is too. By the time Howard’s stopped playing the part of the bug zapper, skin is reappearing, quicker, faster than it did before and Abigail’s left standing in the suit God gave her with her hands on her hips, looking down at the prone man.

“I’ll send someone out to take you to the infirmary. If you want your jacket patched, drop it off in the kitchen” No more, no less, she turns, showing him her back - and ass - stooping long enough to grab the jacket she had the good fortune of not putting on and this time, putting it on and snagging her boots by their tied laces. It covers just enough to not send the children screaming when she eventually gets into the castle, feet freezing, the whole of her cold from the air outside and now down a set of clothing.

Had Abby stopped to check on Howard before leaving, she would have noticed that he’d stopped breathing eventually. She would have noticed the arrhythmic beat of his heart in the moments after his profound electrocution. By the time she’s a distant sliver of shadow between the trees, she also fails to notice the whining noise coming from where Howard lays.


His back arches.


Fingers curl into the soil.


A wheezing breath is sucked in as the whining noise dies down, and Howard lifts a shaky hand to his chest, shuddering breaths and fluttering heartbeat once more on a circadian rhythm. Steaming breath issues up from inside his mouth and nose, smoke winds up from his jacket.

He’ll just lie there until someone comes to get him.

Lying down sounds good.

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