bf_eileen_icon.gif bf_gabriel_icon.gif

Scene Title Slippage
Synopsis Gabriel learns of the dimension-hoppers lurking in his midst.
Date January 23, 2012

Gabriel and Eileen's Loft

What tends to happen when Gabriel Gray walks through door of their apartment, this late, is a steady and gradual disrobing, a meandering roundabout journey through the kitchen and bathroom in which the only possible destination is eventually bed within something like a half an hour. The past few years have been exhausting, physically demanding, but never regimented in the way this is, in which his mind and body follow clockwork-like cycles and immediately begin to shut down by the time the hour for sleep is approaching.

Eileen hears: the front door, opening and closing quietly. The sound of keys set down. The rustle of a jacket pulled off.

And then, his voice curling around her mind: Honey, I'm home.

Little joke.

The door of the fridge easing open. Sound carries well through their apartment of concrete, and she can even hear the sound of foil peeled off a plate of leftovers. Because she's not there, he'll probably just use his hands to spade food, stiff with refrigeration, into his mouth.

Sound flows both ways. The bathroom door sits ajar, a darkened sliver that flickers from within when Gabriel happens to glance that way. He can hear the wick of a candle burning, accompanied by the gentle lapping of water against the sides of the deep clawfoot tub that sold his fiance on their apartment when they were still looking for a place to settle.

She doesn't seem settled now; anxiety causes the psychic tether they share to vibrate with nervous energy, although the tremors themselves are tired and weak. Whatever feelings she's sitting with, she's been sitting with them for a long while.

Please don't be too angry with me, she thinks back at him.

He doesn't respond. Victims of abuse and trauma might find that unsettling. Eileen could probably have counted on it, the cautious way he approaches things, the cautious way he approaches her. Eventually, he manifests as creaking footsteps coming nearer, crossing the small apartment space, coming to the door. He is in blues and greys, an almost exclusive palette for him these days, feet bare from taking off his boots at the door, wearing a T-shirt that has his name, GRAY, printed across the front of it. Regulation dictated that he cut his hair, and there's a silvery undertone to where the razor cut closest to his skin behind his ears.

Gabriel opens the door gently with the back of his knuckles.

Eileen kneels alongside the tub in one of the three slips she owns, elbow-deep in pinkish bathwater. Gabriel recognizes the smell of blood, but even though the Englishwoman's face looks paler and more washed out than when they parted ways with a kiss this morning, it's a safe assumption that none of it belongs to her. Her skin is unblemished.

Her small hands wring the water from a black blouse sewn from silk: a favourite, even if she'll be less inclined to wear it now. "I fucked up," she tells him in a small, hoarse voice.

She's afraid. Not of him.

It's a safe assumption that none of it belongs to her, and one he only arrives to after a few seconds of very intense staring from where he stands in the open door. Gabriel is still and silent for just a moment longer, before he steps into the bathroom and closes the door behind him. The world clicks shut into four walls, modest floor space, the high, black window.

Hand at the edge of the bathtub, he ducks down next to her. His other hand finds her shoulder.

"What happened?"

His tone isn't one of shock or overwrought worry, even if those things aren't totally absent from his system. There is a concrete edge to it, like what happened only just hedged out the question who did this, whatever this is.

Eileen lays fingers across the hand at her shoulder. Gabriel's presence and touch softens her edges, relaxing her as much as the situation allows her to be relaxed. Not very.

Yet also enough. "I was followed by someone who might be Varlane," she says, able to distill her encounter with Magnes into just one sentence only because she's had hours alone to think about exactly which words to use. Elaboration is a little harder. "He said he was from somewhere— else."

Showing is easier than telling. Memories pass between the imperceptibly small space that exists between their skin.

"The Vanguard killed so many of our people, and ultimately, at the very end, you were gone too. I can't… I can't get the image of your skull out of my head, just, being dropped to the ground."

"Eileen, you're one of the people I love most in this world, in any world, this is not some kind of trick, if I wanted to hurt you, if I wanted to force you to… I don't know what you expect me to do, actually, but there's a lot of things I could have done. But all I wanted to do was see you."

"I can't believe you're this hard headed… You probably can't kill me, well, you probably can, you're, well, you, you can probably kill anything. But that's not what we're doing today."

Gabriel keeps his hand where it is, eyes slipping closed as the sounds of lapping water and the smell of blood in the air seem to fade from his perception as fragments of memory fill his mind. His brow tenses at the middle, hearing the familiar voice of Magnes Varlane, feeling Eileen's apprehension at hearing it herself, at retaining it.

When he opens his eyes, its to the water gone pink in the white tub.

"I don't understand," he says. "The Vanguard is done. You're— " Here, and real, her shoulder warm under his hand. He looks to her. The blood in his veins feels cool, watery, as her anxiety becomes his anxiety, but as undercurrent only. What he's really feeling, rising out from the tides of confusion and worry, is an abstract, black kind of rage, formless and familiar. "Somewhere else. The future?"

"A parallel universe," Eileen answers. The words sound even more ridiculous out loud than they did in her head. Her fingers curl around Gabriel's, forming a knot that consists of both her hand and his. Candlelight reflects off her engagement ring, not unlike the band her raven once wore on its leg.

"I was frightened," she says. "I thought Epstein might have sent him. A shapeshifter, maybe. Or an illusionist."

So I stabbed him, is how this train of thought ends. Not the wisest of conclusions, but Gabriel's bride-to-be is rarely wise when her emotions are involved. Her grip on the blouse grows slack, draped sloppily over the tub's chipped porcelain edge. Water pools on the tiles. "I don't know which truth is worse."

Gabriel's hand tangles with hers, his expression that of someone who would not put this past Epstein, nor thinks that stabbing was a drastic overreaction, save that it sounds like the job was left unfinished, or at least, uncertain. He raises his other hand, and the water ripples in response. It's almost pretty, then, as blood dispersed in water seems to come back together, separating out like oil, becoming an inky, crimson mass within water now made clear. Red seeps out from the black blouse, what Eileen hadn't managed to wring out yet, joining it in creeping tendrils.

Helps him think. Manipulation of water sees the plug jerked out of the drain, but the water doesn't yet snake away. The blood does, in a steady, snaking flow.

I fucked up, was the first thing she said to him. His hand squeezes hers, a little tighter.

"We can fix it," he says, with the quiet certainty of someone who is good at fixing things.

Eileen leans into Gabriel's chest, seeking out the curve of his body that fits best against hers. She sinks her hip between his thighs and turns to stretch out both her legs across the floor with toes pointed toward the open door.

They can fix it.

She rests there, listening to the sounds of water and the muted beat of Gabriel's heart through his ribcage and the flimsier material of his shirt. That's a mantra, too.

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