Smoke On The Water


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Scene Title Smoke On The Water
Synopsis Gillian inquisitively plops into the middle of Elle's dreams.
Date July 14, 2009


As is common for a dreamer, it's difficult to discern exactly when— or where— one figment of imagination ends and another starts. It takes a while for Elle's tired mind to settle into a stable, non-shifting environment; in between the bookends of first shutting her eyelids up until now, it had mostly been a hazy flow-by of images. A montage. Nothing that stayed for more than a few seconds before flowing, merging onwards.

The first thing she becomes solidly aware of is drifting inside a big, bluish room, gazing farther in. There are windows all around the perimeter, tall glass ones that seem like they should let massive amounts of sunlight pour in, but it's all black in the middle. A faraway ceiling. Lots of shadows.

…And somehow, she's now already past the room (had she gone through a window? she must have. right-o.), striding down an extremely narrow hallway. She can hear the click of her heels in her ears, though the floor is so dark she can't actually see her feet as they move. The door on the other end opens, pushed open by her hands — a growing crack of light reveals —

Gray & Sons?

It's not boarded up, but as well-lit and tidy as it ever gets. No customers, but it's surely store hours right now. And there Sylar is, bent over an elongated, worm-shaped glass display case occupying most of the center of the room, his back to her; the ends of thick-framed glasses are just visible on his ears. This is all, apparently, perfectly normal.

This isn't the first dream that Gillian has fallen into. Each time she tries to leave, she runs into another one, with no idea how to choose, or how to find her own— if her own even exists anymore. Tonight, at least, it doesn't seem like they do. Awareness follows the blonde woman, whom may Gillian recognize, but there's no physical sound of feet touching the floor, no shifting shadows, just a slight breeze that ruffles hair as the door shifts. A whisper of a ticking clock can be heard as part of her takes in surprise at the sight of the man, the store.

This could be her own dream— but she knows it's not. It's a sight she doesn't contain a memory of, a way she'd never seen the man. An invisible hand reaches out to shift the hands of one of the clocks, setting the time wrong, moving the minute hand a few ticks past the six, and the hour hand between the three and the four.


Her attention shifts back, to watch a moment before attempting to integrate herself into a dream not her own.

Without turning around to face Elle, Sylar— or, more accurately at this moment in time, Gabriel — intones: "You know you have to break it." The watchmaker, for a watchmaker he still very much is, seems preoccupied. His head tilts slowly to the other side, and his forearms can be seen making small, involved motions with whatever he has between his hands. He clears his throat mildly.

The dream-version of Elle appears to know precisely what he's referring to, comprehension dawning on her face. She blinks once or twice, continuing to regard the man mutely, but then her gaze shifts to the clock that Gillian had tampered with. "You know, it would really help if the time is right, first," she comments matter-of-factly, taking several steps forward and reaching out for that inaccurate timepiece. Neither of them is aware that there is a rogue presence in the dream, just yet. "It's days ahead…"

Or is it days behind? Possibly years.

There's only so much contact Gillian can have with the dream. A hand brushes over the surface of that one clock, before pulling back. It's a shadow at first. Nothing more than that, before the floor creaks. The deeper she reaches, the more substance she gains, but nothing resembling a physical form, just yet. There's a breath of wind, as if someone opened the door again— yet the door remains closed. A whisper that doesn't quite find words, a voice without sound.

The clock she moved remains frozen there, as if the battery died.

A frown lingers on Elle's face, one that seems to affect the look in her eyes more than the set of her mouth. Her fingers briefly touch the clock before retracting again, too — as if she's changed her mind about trying to fix it. It's face stays at 3:33 as she sets it down out of sight, out of attention. For the first time, she suddenly looks behind her and about the room, trying to scout out the disturbance.

But Gabriel still doesn't move. This time, there aren't even any movements to be seen around his stilled hands. "It's isn't going to last," he murmurs, spacing his words, and though Elle isn't in a position to see it, his own eyes are staring straight ahead beneath heavy, patient brows.

"Quiet, there's someone else," she tells him without looking, still gazing around semi-suspiciously. "You're not supposed to have customers after what happened to the last one." The focus falls to the worm-shaped case again. Dull light glimmers off it; it's well-polished.

There's another shift, starting as a shadow, then solidifying into something else. Pale skin, almost entirely black and white except for lips that somehow seem red. The customer would be female. Dark hair, pale skin, eyes without much in the way of color. A beautymark stands out on her cheek. Taller than the blonde girl by a couple inches, she steps out into the opening of the room. As if she'd always been there.

Like most dreams, maybe she had been. Gillian takes in a slow breath, shifting eyes between one person to the next and back again, then settling on the one she'd followed this far.

"What happened to the last one?" she asks, voice raspy and whispered. There's that breeze again, as if she's disturbing the air just by standing there. The forgotten clock remains stuck, refusing to move, though others continue to tick untouched.

As the whispery apparition that is Gillian assumes a form, finally, Elle turns to meet it. "—Nothing," she responds crisply after a moment's hesitation, tossing her bangs from her forehead in one motion so she can look the newcomer up and down.

"You should leave." The statement comes from Gabriel this time; he's finally turned his attention away from the tools lying atop the case. His voice is quiet, distrustful, void of any hint of recognition. In this reality that Elle's brain has constructed, Gabriel has never seen Gillian before. How could the agent know of their relationship, anyway, beyond guessing? The real Elle had herself only seen the dark-haired woman once before.

As the whispery apparition that is Gillian assumes a form, finally, Elle turns to meet it. "—Nothing," she responds crisply after a moment's hesitation, tossing her bangs from her forehead in a quick motion so she can look the newcomer up and down.

"You should leave." The statement comes from Gabriel this time; he's finally turned his attention away from the tools lying atop the case. His voice is quiet, distrustful, void of any hint of recognition. In this reality that Elle's brain has constructed, Gabriel has never seen Gillian before. How could the agent know of the intricacies of their relationship, anyway, beyond guessing? The real Elle had herself only seen the dark-haired woman once before.

There's something decidedly off balance in the way the new customer moves. The edge seem to blend into the background too much, almost transparent from one moment to the next, when everything becomes opaque and solid looking. Not quite the wisps and shadows of the man whom the ability belongs to, but somehow inhuman. Leave. Gillian winces visibly, the edges fading out again before she pulls everything back together. Just like the dreamer and the dreamed can't know of her relationship with the man, they couldn't have known the last time she physically saw him he'd told her to let him go. Leave is close.

"But I have a broken watch. It sounded like your friend needed one," she says quietly, reaching to undo a black leather band at her wrist and hold out the cracked faceplate to the blonde girl. The crack goes across the face of the clock in the same direction as a certain man's scar. The watch is stopped exactly at 11:55.

But the sight of the watch seems to elicit a horrible reaction from at least one person; Elle's eyes fly open wide, and she takes a large step forward as if to grab the thing out of Gillian's hand. "What do you think you're doing with that?" she demands, flicking her gaze searchingly up at the taller woman's face. If Gillian doesn't make a move to stop her, she'll throw it right to the ground and attempt to grind it beneath her heel.

Behind Elle, the lurking figure of Gabriel still appears mostly impassive. The tiniest of smiles, however, quirks one side of his mouth upwards; his eyes still have a predatory cast to them. "I really wouldn't do that again." It's unclear whether he's speaking to Elle or Gillian, as he has already turned one shoulder away, smirk still on his face.

"Hey!" Gillian yells as the watch is slapped out of her hand, grinded into the floor with a heel. The already broken faceplate breaks further than before, the hands break from the sockets, the gears start to fall out. An already broken watch reaches near unrepairable, and she just stares down at it. The edges become transparent again, for a moment, before she glares up at the blonde woman, angry at the treatement of the watch that represented more in her mind than if it'd been a physical version of it. "That was mine," she growls raspily, even as her form tries to break apart again. Wisps creep off the edges, but she remains mostly condensed.

It's Gabriel's words that makes her turn to look at him instead, the smile that holds her eyes. The threat. That reaches toward what she'd seen in him the few times she'd been with him while he lost control. Lips part as if to speak, but all she does is exhale.

To all appearances, Elle doesn't care who the hell the watch belonged to, or that Gillian had just officially declared it hers. "Listen to me— I don't even know where you knew to get that, but it's for your own good," she tells the other female viciously, eyebrows lifting into an expression of calm, infuriating righteousness. "You don't wanna wake him up, do you?" Because that watch. There's something unmistakably wrong about it, to her. Something wrong about this whole situation, the way it's set up.

The clocks have all stopped, every single hand in the same position Gillian had left hers frozen in.

Gabriel is also completely still.

"It doesn't want to hurt you. It really doesn't. But it wiiiill, if you don't listen to me and -get out-." Voice fast resembling a singsong except for the very last, hostile phrase, Elle folds her arms across her chest, head cocked to one side.

"What do you mean wake him up?" Gillian asks as she tries to recollect herself. Physically and emotionally. Some of the anger has moved out of her form due to something in the way the woman's singsong voice talks to her, even if there's something hostile in the words. It's the look in Gabriel's eyes, on his face, the way it reminds her of something else. Something she'd seen in another set of eyes not his own.

"Maybe… maybe we should both go. If I shouldn't be here, why should you?" she asks, as she backs away toward the exit. There's no sound of her feet as she goes, she almost seems to skate backwards instead of step.

The question hovers in the air long after it's spoken, unanswered. Even as Gillian smoothly backs away, Elle still looking oddly at her, the entire scene changes in what's less a brisk, messy whirl of color than a simple shifting — a brief drifting out of consciousness, then back in. One moment they're in a watch-repair shop, the next moment they're…

Inside the Primatech building, Bronx-style, obviously pre-bombage. From Elle's point of view, she's heading down a wide, white corridor, walls seeming to loom over them on either side; closed office doors, some with darkened windows in them, are visible on both left and right as she passes. There's nobody in sight, except Gillian if she's still following. Emptiness: thy name is the Company. Behind her, behind the sterile loneliness of this environment, lies Gray's and Sons. It's illogical, but logic has its own private system of working in a dream, does it not? They just left the watchmaker — of that, she is positive.

The brusqueness of her pace suggests urgency. Elle, personally, seems like she's looking for something. Oddly, her heels make absolutely no sound on the floor here.

The other place Gillian had no right to follow, surely, but this place she has even less right. The Bronx facility had only been heard about in stories, but it looks like the kind of secret base that a group who sent people to guard Moab might have kept. The Catabase had mentioned certain facts about the blonde woman, which allows her to put a few pieces into place. Even if she doesn't automatically assume it's the place that recently got bombed.

As the pace of the woman increases, the pace of the dream-stalker does, to keep up. The slide of feet along the floor retains no physical sound, leaves no smudge marks on the floor, but each breath from her mouth seems to be a fresh breeze. No full tweaking this time— it's enough just to keep up, retain form, and finally speak as she follows after. "Where is this?"

"You're still back there, aren't you," is Elle's responding comment. The sing-songy quality is all but gone from her voice; at the moment, she's back into normal-sounding declarative sentences. Which may be a relief. "I thought it was over. I thought we'd left. Guess not." Is she referring to the previous dream they had just both transitioned from, or the fact that she's still dreaming in general?

The answer to Gillian's question comes in the form of the next window they pass, a rectangular deal that stretches down the length of at least two rooms. Everything just past it is dark, with the exception of a sole, glowing monitor someone must have forgotten to turn off. I-800-PRIMATECH, the screen reads in absurdly large block letters. A moment later, it too fades.

"While we're at it, why are you following me?" Elle's eyelids brush closed for a moment, and then she turns around towards Gillian, opening them in exasperation as she comes to a halt. Everything in her dream has a purpose to her, a place, even if completely nonsensical once she eventually wakes up. But this.

Primatech. Well, that answers the question, without quite answering it. Gillian continues after her, until the woman turns around and faced her. There'd been no effort to answer the obvious question. Still back there, still keeping a few feet behind and trying not to lose her, but not getting much closer than that— until she has to slide to a stop with her strange gliding walk. It seems inertia has the better of her and she physically slides a couple feet closer than she might have intended, but doesn't move back away in time.

"You almost killed me," she challanges, with no effort to demonstrate the state that she'd been left in, or switch the surrounding area to one more appropriate. "You electricuted me— you're probably the whole reason everyone got thrown through time in the first place." Always easier to blame someone else for something catastrophic, when it'd been a series of events leading to disaster.

The near death experience had been a trigger causing her to lose control, but maybe it'd already been too late by then.

For the second time, Elle gives Gillian a rather bored, head-to-toe glanceover. "You look just fine to me," she observes with her eyebrows raised, giving her head a tiny shake without taking her eyes off Gillian's face. "I seriously have no idea what you're talking about." She lifts her gaze to their surroundings, then, ignoring Gillian in favor of a search for something still not-quite-there.

"It might be after you already. If you had any sense, you'd quit throwing blame around and help me look." That would seem to be a pretty good indication that Elle is not lucid dreaming, after all. She's still entrapped in this contained, confusing dream-world of her mind's making, and it all makes crystal-clear sense to her. As well as quickly making her impatient.

There's a frustrated sound as the solidity of the form comes into question again. The outer edges fade and expand, then retract. It's almost like pieces of her are trying to go one way, and Gillian has to pull them back together again. "Fine," she says with a puff of air. Indignant, stubborn, cranky, but also giving in at the same time. The dreamer may not be lucid, but the invader is. Even if the invader is just as confused about the meaning of the other woman's words. "Look for what?" She asks, glancing back down the hall, eyes cautious, voice starting to take on the same time, even as the pixels of color that make up her hand dissolve and blur, then reattach.

"What might be after you?" The dream a few moments before… 'It'. "Do you mean Gabriel?" The name she knows him best by, even if she has called him by three.

Elle watches the near-dissolution of Gillian's hand in distracted, perturbed interest, though if she has something to say about the phenomenon, she keeps it to herself. "No, not me. You," she explains as patiently as if were going over this with a child. "I have to make sure it breaks, or else everything goes wrong. You started it when you brought the watch in."

Abruptly, she turns to start down the hall again, but this time a little more slowly — with a thoughtful, more careful air. Her fingertips trail wistfully down one wall of the facility, as they might have in real life. Once more, it'll be up for Gillian to trail after if she chooses.

"You already crushed it with your heel," Gillian says, keeping close to her even as she moves on, looking around. There's a steady frown on her face, pressing her lips together close. "What does the watch have to do with it. It's just a timepiece. And that one was practically a symbol more than anything else." The fact they're talking about a man she loves and recently parted ways from could be the reason she persists to follow, since she's not about to test her limits in the dream by bitching at the dreamer. Even if she's mad about the electrical shock.

To reflect her frustration, the darkness grows on her, shadows increasing, like someone messed with the levels of her image in favor of dark. There's some breaking away as she moves, before the pieces follow after her.

As the two figures move along, it's not just Gillian — there's a moment when the whole dream seems to retract on itself, becoming hazier and vaguer in coloration, as if melting into the backdrop of eyelids. The real-life Elle rolls over in her bed, shoulders giving a restless twitch or two before she falls still again, sighing softly; all the while, her subconscious busily works on regaining its lost grip. Only then does the sharpness, the visual focus of the dream return.

When it does, when all is stable in Fantasyland again, the dream seems to have changed as well. Elle and Gillian are no longer in the hallway, but standing together inside the room Gillian had seen earlier: the one that had displayed the PRIMATECH screensaver to her on a single computer. The screen of that monitor is still darkened, but now the entirety of the room is flooded with fluorescent light.

"This should be it," Elle suggests quietly, her voice carrying in it a note of pleased finality. Drawing the plastic seat back with her foot, she seats herself in it and reboots the computer by reaching around it with an arm, pressing a button. She spares a sidelong glance at Gillian as she does so. "Symbols have everything to do with it." The screen flickers white, returning to life.

For a moment, Gillian feels everything distort and darken. Unaware of the shifting woman in her bed, she just sees the edges of the dream dissolve and distort until she's no longer sure where she is. The dream reforms a few moments before she manages to, a little transparent in places, but mostly visible. The colors are all washed out this time, grayscaled, leaning towards heavy contrasts. "What does the watch symbolize? Besides broken time?"

The time it'd stopped on has a meaning to her, as well, but she doesn't speak on that. It's not the same as the time on the wall that she'd set. Both are related, in a way. After 11:55 came 3:33. And one led to the other.

At this, Elle lets herself look over at Gillian again, this time a little more meaningfully. In front of her, the computer skips right past the regular stages of booting up, transforming into metallic-themed desktop as if it had never been turned off. "Don't interrupt me," she murmurs in grouchy distractedness, her eyes narrowed on the screen in concentration. "You can say broken time again." Indeed, her fingertips can be heard clicking and tapping away at the keyboard, pulling up one window, then another in agitation; none of it seems to be what she's looking for.

The screen becomes darker and darker of its own accord, and Elle's movements slow correspondingly. In less than in a minute, it's all black again, and nothing the electrokinetic does can restart it a second time. Her pattern of breathing becomes notably frustrated, and she blinks several times in succession, but she does address Gillian again without looking.

"-Why- all the questions? Who are you? You've never had anything to do with this before." Surely she's not getting all guilty-conscienced now, to be haunted by someone she barely even remembers hurting.

"If it involves Gabriel— I have a lot to do with it whether you know it or not," Gillian mutters under her breath, trying to hold everything together even as she watches the dream world try to unravel in other ways. Putting up blocks for the dreamer, she guesses. It's like some dreams she would have, really, where she would have a book she needed to put up in the library, and no matter how many rows she went down, it was never the right one…

"I've known him for a long time. And I'm not the one who held him prisoner." Primatech had held him for a long time, according to the man she knew as Gabriel. How much of that was true, she doesn't know, though… It makes a lot of sense, and what little they could get… "What are you expecting to find in the computers?"

"Something I've been looking for a long time. Mostly, it's none of your business." The first part of it is truth. Normally, the way this dream has a tendency to progress: Elle ends up frizzling the unresponding box in a burst of frustration. Not this time, though.

With a curt sigh, she pushes aside the chair and stands all the way up, placing her hands on her hips. "So is that why you're here." she mutters aloud. She sounds tired. And also still sort of grouchy. "But if you're here, I should know what you're doing here." It's her own dream. It's centered, situationally and emotionally, on her.

Without much warning, she -digs- into her arm with well-manicured fingernails, ferociously giving them a good press into her flesh before letting up again. It's almost painful to watch. Normally, half-moon welts should be embedded all over her skin when she takes her hand away, but. "…Doesn't hurt. Should've known."

"I don't know how I got here," Gillian says, giving a hint of the truth as the grouchiness gets met by a darker, taller, colorless mirror. Falling into dreams is hardly an art, even if she found ways stumbled into communication capabilities, the rest is like trying to hold on to water with her fingers. It seems to slip through with just drops lingering behind, until gravity pulls even those away. The pinching thing— As if to attempt it, a hand goes to her arm, but the fingers dissolve before they can touch skin. Just like grasping water. Perhaps in reverse.

"Do you know everything else that is going on, then?" she asks, looking at the computers, which give no more information. Maybe they had nothing to give, but she certainly had been looking for it. Whatever it is. Her own business.

"Maybe you remember nearly killing me. Never felt bad about electricuting someone before?" There's a challange in her raspy voice.

"Stop it. Stop saying that. Really." Even if Elle had arrived on a plane of lucid-level thinking, finally, her brain is still plugged into a very specific, delicate reality. Attempting to call on details that aren't a part of it, such as memories she has to consciously dig for, increases the risk that she'll get her thoughts rolling too much and — wake up. Already, the thrill of becoming lucid had created a partial visual blackout from Elle's point of view; the edges of the dream blacken again, this time for longer, before fading back in.

Before proper awareness of her own appearance sets back in, her disembodied voice floats in the air. (Space?) "I don't even remember where you're from. So, what? Are you going to follow me around in here until I feel sorry; is that why you're here?" There's concentration in her tone again. She's trying her best to not let the dream slip away from her, to keep holding on, but it's hard.

Reforming this time is much, much more difficult. In fact, Gillian's practically clawing just to remain in place. Water through fingers seems even more extreme by the moment. When everything comes back, she barely has limbs, practically stuck against a nearby wall. There's no sign of a breath, the woman can't know she's rather disturbed by all this flinging around into other people's dreams. Just as the dreamer might be disturbed by her unwelcome presence. "I don't need fake apologies. Especially if you don't even remember."

Why is she here? "I wanted to know how you knew Gabriel," she answers after a moment, with her grasping onto the dream to ask her questions, and her having some of her own. Though much of the dream doesn't make much sense, that's why she fought to stay— why she pushed herself deeper in to try to communicate.

This is interesting. Really really interesting. But as fascinating as it is, to Elle, Gillian is still nothing more than just a player on the stage of her dream; if her brain has done something like this to her before, she doesn't remember it. Best to take advantage of this fancy trick while it lasts.

When the agent herself leans against the nearest wall, one of her shoulders actually -punctures- it, starting to fall through before she wrenches herself upright, grimacing as she does. "Tell you what. If you're not actually something I'm dreaming," which she very much has doubts about, "Meet me outside. We can talk. Ask me all you want then." No guarantees that she'll give useful answers in return, but hey, it's an offer.

One of her hands reaches out, settles around a telephone hooked into a random outlet jutting up by the computer, wraps around and around the cord. Her attempt to keep hold of some solid object. Maybe when she wakes up, it'll be on her pillow or something. Such is the flow of logic, here.

There's a long pause. Gillian almost disappears entirely as the dream shifts. The woman is falling through walls, but she's barely part of the dream at all, so it keeps slipping away. Water starts to become smoke. It barely even clings to fingertips now. A meeting outside. Outside of the dream. With the ability to heal herself, and more things going on than even she knows, she could handle a meeting outside of the dream, but the question would have to be…

"How would I find you? I'm honestly not sure how well you'll remember it. You may have to write it down as soon as you wake up. That helps, I think."

That's the way she remembers dreams, and the woman must be right at the edge of waking up. The woman's face, even her name, all of it could be found in the Catabase, but how much beyond that… she's unsure. And hey, if the woman who works with the Company just thinks she's a dreamwalker— that would give her an advantage in a face to face meeting. But when Primatech is involved… "And how do I know I can trust you?"

Forget about machines evolving and taking on intelligence; this dream's really thought of everything. Reminding Elle to write it down once she wakes up? Wow. "You don't. You were the one who barged into my dreamspace, asking a bunch of questions," she points out straightforwardly, sounding bored again. "And unless you're planning on haunting my head until we both go crazy, then. Well. Call." That should clear up the mystery in the morning better than anything else, right?

If Gillian is ready for it, she names off the digits of her cell-phone number — carelessly, but clearly enough so that the other woman'll get it if she has any short-term memory as all. Even in this state, it's so ingrained that she barely needs to think about it. There's something to write down as well!

And if the number turns out to be a load of dream-induced gibberish, well, it's not like Elle won't ever sleep again.

No need to write it down, luckily. With all the things she's become capable of in the last couple of months, memory would be the one to come easiest. With no effort at all. Gibberish or not, Gillian puts it away in her head and then says, "Try not to fry anyone else." The words are slightly bitter, but in a way it's a fare well. The dream may have thought of too much, really. But the approach can happen on her own terms…

Better than this approach, which she kinda stumbled into.

The shadowy figure dissolves from the wall as she lets go of the figurative smoke and water she'd been trying to hold onto. A reflection within a reflection within a pool of water.

And the furthest she gets is someone else's dream. This is one ability she's beginning to think she could do without. It may take her on that road to going crazy a little faster than she might like…

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