Tell Me, Show You


eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif

Scene Title Tell Me, Show You
Synopsis Eileen limps back to the Old Dispensary several days after being shot by Aude Castalides during a confrontation with Danko. Her return does not go unnoticed.
Date November 2, 2009

Old Dispensary

Eileen has not been back to the Dispensary in three days. This, in and of itself, isn't really unusual; her work sometimes takes her so far from the Remnant's den that she has to rely on her Ferry connections to secure shelter on nights when the clouds blot out the moon and plunge New York into an inky darkness so black even the boatmen won't venture onto the water for fear of being attacked by river pirates. What is unusual is the fact that she hasn't spoken anyone — not even Teodoro — about what she's been doing or where she's been staying, so it may come as surprise when the sound of footsteps echo in the stairwell leading up to the second floor.

Outside, the sky hovers between silver and slate gray, and although hazy beams of fading sunlight continue to illuminate stickbare trees in an ashen glow, its source is seemingly invisible, as strange and at the same time unremarkable as the Briton's unannounced return.

Eileen never makes it very far, up the dimly lit stairwell, when the sound of a creak of wooden slats and old floor gives beneath a heavier foot step - from behind, rather than ahead of her, coming up from the ground level several seconds slower. Another follows it, and another, until the figure a level or so behind her comes to a halt. Even in this light, it's obvious that this is not Ethan, Raith, Teo or Sylar and their broader shouldered shapes, and there's no sign of Peter's strangely formal suit lines and edges, figure hugged as it is in a too-big coat.

Either there's an invader within the Remnant's stolen domain, or someone is fucking with her. One is likelier than the other. "You almost made it." It's a boy's voice, and not that of the teenager Eileen knows Gabriel has turned into before. Darker hair, longer haired, softer, although Sylar's severity still peers out from dark, inquiring eyes. "Almost got in without anyone noticing."

This new face is preferable to Feng Daiyu's. Whatever complaint Eileen has, if she has any at all, is hidden behind her lashes as she angles a look over her shoulder at her shadow and mounts the topmost step. Her lips curve around a rueful smile, tired and wan. There are dark circles under her eyes, though it isn't clear in the stairwell's dimly lit interior whether she hasn't been sleeping or if the discolouration is just a result of smudged makeup running thin in the rain. Droplets of moisture cling to her hair like beads made of nacre and silver, cashmere headscarf unknotted and draped loosely around her neck now that she's indoors.

"What makes you think I didn't want someone to notice?" she asks in a worn voice, accent harsher around its breathy edges than it has been in some time. As she speaks, she begins to unbutton her coat, allowing memory to guide her fingers and hands through the well-practiced motions. "I could be quieter. You don't have the same ears that you used to."

There's too much confidence in the boy's approach to truly be seventeen or however age he was when he was forced to commit suicide not so long ago. Gabriel makes his slow way up the stairs, watching his hand dance along the railing before letting it fall lankly to his side as he tilts a look up at her. "Circumstance, is how I figure. You've been gone without a word. It's not usual." Not that he was worried or anything—

Well. Worried would be the wrong word, anyway. "I just came back too." Gloved hands, pale fingers peeking out the tops of snipped off wool, curl around the edges of his coat to pull it open, revealing his attire as much as the details are lost in the darkness. "Keeping up appearances." Then, a pause, and his expression sharpens as if some detail he hadn't noticed before just went— well. Noticed. "What's wrong with you?"

As Gabriel moves, so does Eileen. There's a certain demureness about her physicality, the lazy roll of a cat twisting onto its back so it can bathe its belly in the sun and lay indolent. In spite of her apparent weariness and the waxen pallor of her skin, her green eyes are still and relaxed. Details apparently do not concern her as much as they do him. "There's nothing wrong with me," she says, "unless you count my propensity for loneliness. I'm a very private person, you know."

She arrives at her bedroom door, closes gloved fingers around the handle and gives it an experimental twist. Her reward is creaking hinges and a sliver of sunlight creeping in through an open window with curtains rippling in the breeze. "Sometimes I have to just curl into myself. Erect a shell. Hermit crab into a cozy coral reef somewhere. You should understand that more than anyone."

Shapeshifting doesn't make a sound— unless you're the shapeshifter, and then you're just subjected to the tiny sounds of bones shifting around, and the nose is the worst part, filling your head with a certain sickly grind that sets teeth on edge— but Eileen might note that Gabriel's foot falls up the stairs beginning to creak louder than they did before. Long brown hair turns a slicker black and sucks back into his skull from where the ends had once brushed his shoulders. He smooths long, thicker fingers through it, pushing dark strands off his forehead.

Arriving on the second storey floor, he removes his gloves and stuffs them into coat pockets. "Maybe. But I try not to be unnecessarily mysterious when someone asks me a direct question." Which may or may not be true, but Gabriel is trying to make a point, rather than be honest. "Did something happen?"

"Yes." Eileen, out of a habit she's had since she was still small enough to be carried on her mother's hip, pauses in the bedroom doorway, loosens her boot laces and leaves her footwear at the threshold where the common area ends and her personal living space begins. The floorboards are cold on her bare soles, like ice thanks to the open window, though she seems to either not notice or care as she crosses toward the vanity and slips out of her coat.

"Nothing that you need to worry about, though," she adds. "In fact I'd rather you didn't. When you worry, when I worry, it gets in the way of how things should be."

He rests a shoulder against the door frame, and the final argument he has is, "Maybe I'm just curious," before it's ceded to her, dropped between them with a restless sigh, gaze tracking up along the door frame, ceiling, back to her. In the end, everyone has their own agenda, and secrets that go with them.

Stepping inside a little further, Gabriel brings with him the scent of cigarettes, cheap ones, clinging to the musty material of his coat which he shrugs off, hangs over an arm. As much as the teenager's face had been clean shaven, his is scattered with stubble lining his throat, jaw, high up his cheeks, too neglected to be particularly fashionable. "But not enough to play twenty questions."

It might not be an attractive smell, but it's familiar, comforting in the one way that the bottle of painkillers in her coat pocket isn't. The pills rattle against their plastic casing when Eileen discards the garment on the bed and sinks into the chair in front of the vanity, scrutinizing Gabriel's reflection in the water-stained mirror more than she does her own. For a moment, she's reminded of what tobacco feels like on her lips, what smoke tastes like in her mouth. Yearing fills her face's passive expression.

"I'll make you a deal," she offers, removing her shoulder holster and hooking it over the back of the chair. Beneath her coat, she wears a woolen cardigan that matches the colour of the coals in the fireplace downstairs, and unlike the rest of her clothes it doesn't fit right on her body's petite frame. Unusual, considering that it's one of hers. "You tell me why you're walking around in somebody else's skin, and I show you why I've been laying low these last few days. Does that strike you as fair, or shall I sweeten it some?"

Gabriel doesn't bother with finding a surface over which to drape his coat - it's really not worth it. It comes to tumble into a small, smokey mountain of ratty fabric in the corner. "I'm giving Mr. Retribution a disciple. Calls himself Ash. He's a Moab escapee, looking to take the system apart, starting from Humanis First and clawing his way up to the government. He's dramatic and angry."

Which is always an interesting combination. They're all rather familiar with it. "But so far, not someone we need to waste our time taking out, though I might ride his coat tails some more. He knows me as a teenager at one of the dens in the Rookery, so I was just maintaining. They talk, too. The refugees, the junkies, the homeless. There's another we might be interested in following. But I think it's your turn to talk."

Eileen's eyes remain on Gabriel's figure as he fulfills his half of their bargain, her gaze steady and solemn with implicit understanding. Dramatic and angry isn't just an interesting combination — it's a dangerous one. Her lips thin out and curl scornfully at the corners of her mouth. Between Humanis First, Phoenix, Homeland Security and all the independent operators connecting the dots between them, it's almost too much for one person to handle. Admittedly, six isn't much better.

Her fingers work the buttons of her cardigan with the same dexterity they showed the coat before it, and when Gabriel arrives at his conclusion, she shrugs off the garment and exposes the shape of one pale shoulder curving gently, though it's neither this nor the arch of her neck that's likeliest to draw his eye.

It's the medical gauze she wears on the opposite side, soaked through with day-old fluids, brown and black. "I'm not sure there's really much to say except that it's worth it. The Ferry has Emile Danko in custody."

Gabriel's eyes track to her reflection, regarding the covered injury with a narrowing of his gaze and putting pause in his pace forward. Not for long, as he approaches where she's sitting, coming up behind her and filling the backdrop in the mirror with his frame, hands coming to rest against the back of her chair as he leans enough to be able to make eye contact in the glass. His mouth twists into a mock frown, smooths out again. "Gee. They're expanding their horizons."

He looks up from bloodied gauze to her eyes, raising an eyebrow. "Maybe you're a bad influence on them. Is he dead yet?" One hand lifts off the back of the chair, enough to rest his fingertips butterfly light against her exposed nape. "We should make Peter heal you."

"No healing." Eileen's hand finds Gabriel's, exploring the contours of his knuckles with her lacquered nails. "I want to let my body take care of this one on its own. Only way it's going to learn." Her thumb presses firm but languid circles into his palm as if trying to improve the bloodflow there when it's really her circulation that chills smooth skin and likens it to porcelain. Next, she's closing her fingers around his and guiding his hand from her nape to her jaw.

"There will be people who want to turn him over to the authorities," she says. "Others would rather see him marched into a ditch and shot for the things Humanis has done to us. I don't know what we're going to choose, or how."

Urging is followed, rough fingers guiding along the curve of her jaw, settling on her throat where her pulse beats its minute concussion against thin skin as the edge of his thumb brushes down the slope from ear to chin. "'Us'," Gabriel repeats, without particular direction in his tone. A glance down at the crown of her head before he's watching her in the mirror again, letting the reflection dictate where his hand settles. "Do you mean his wrongs against all Evolved kind, or the Ferrymen?"

Eileen brings Gabriel's hand to her mouth and breathes warmth across its back in a kiss. "If we're talking about wrongs committed against all Evolved kind, then you and Ethan and I all belong in that ditch with him," she murmurs, lips moving against his skin with as much pressure as a feather's gossamer edge. "Had Kazimir ever known about Danko, he'd have recruited him the same way he did all the others. Ramirez. Rasoul. People you've never met.

"People you'll never meet." She releases her hold on his hand to finish shedding her cardigan, which she folds neatly in half and drapes over the vanity's mirror, though the fitted tank top beneath it remains. "Do you want help with Dramatic and Angry?"

He goes back to watching her rather than the reflection, when her mouth brushes his knuckles, clean as they are of scars where, by rights, there should probably be a few. Hands lift away from her as she peels off her cardigan, moving towards the bed and coming to perch on its side. Gabriel shrugs one shoulder in a show of indifference, before he's hooking up an ankle against a knee so as to wriggle off one of his boots. He's since wiped them clean upon entering the Dispensary, but neglected to set them outside her door.

"You could keep a bird out for him, the next time we meet. Just keep it back. He's dramatic, angry, and paranoid. Probably not a bad quality for a terrorist, but bad news for bird kind. Otherwise, he's not our priority."

"No?" Eileen asks. "He's Evolved. Dangerous. Or at least dangerous enough that Homeland Security doesn't want him mixing with the rest of society." In other words: if that isn't their priority, what is? Her scarf joins the cardigan on the mirror, meanwhile, leaving her in the top and a pair of faded denim jeans dark and damp with the same rainwater that still glitters in her hair.

Mindful of her wounded shoulder, she swivels in her seat to face Gabriel on the bed now that she can no longer see him in the glass. Usually, things like I missed you don't bear saying — not when they can be expressed in the touch of her lips on his hand or the way her eyes continue seeking him out and are loath to wander — but sometimes it's impossible to resist the urge to vocalize that physical pull and put words to feelings.

"I've been thinking about you," she says. "Kept seeing you. Sometimes just parts."

The second boot is worked off, thick woolen socks, the kind one needs when sleeping in unheated shelters, coming off with them at a hook of his fingers. He glances up at her with that sentiment, and maybe I missed you too would be appropriate, but— but business. "He's not a priority because he's targeting things I don't care about him targeting. He'll get himself killed before he gets anyone innocent killed. Besides, I found someone else we might be interested in tracking. A serial killer.

"She left the shelters for the mainland this morning. Used to be in the news. Killed people with her power for their living spaces, maybe more. If she's not hiding out, anymore, it could be worth checking out why."

Bare feet settling down against icy floorboards, Gabriel sets his hands against the edge of the bed, although he doesn't get up to stand, simply resting there before he adds, "I looked for you."

"I can be hard to find." So can serial killers, incidentally, though Eileen offers no protest in response to Gabriel's explanation. Instead, she rises from the chair and comes to join him on the bed, springs creaking tinny and shrill at the additional weight. It's an old mattress and an even older frame. Most of the Dispensary's furniture is, and not just because it's all they can afford. The Dispensary itself is a relic and demands that its interior matches the worn floorboards, peeling paint and the smell of must that pervades its every pore when it rains. If it was sentient, it would probably like Peter's table best of all.

"You've done good work, Gabriel." Eileen reaches up and tucks a piece of his hair behind his ear before trailing her fingertips over his stubble on her way back down to his leg. "Ethan and Raith will be glad to hear it. I am."

He doesn't like that he likes the praise. Slightly too human. That resentment manifests only in the fact he doesn't respond, but he doesn't protest it either, brown eyes settling on her grey-green before tilting his head in place of a shrug. "They might argue that good work is a job finished. It'll give us something to do." Not that they're really talking business anymore, not with her hand on his leg. Gabriel's own hand goes out, settles on her side inwards enough to brush his thumb beneath her ribcage, as if judging how thin the material is that separates it out.

There's also the smell of stale iron and salt over old cigarettes and rainwater, and his eyes track to where bandages are patched to her shoulder. "Do you need to see to that?"

Eileen flinches at the touch, sucking in a sharp breath through gritted teeth. She'd been shot twice — once in the shoulder, once between the ribs, and it's only by the virtue of the vest she wore at the time that she's sitting here now. Although Gabriel can't see it, an ugly bruise blossoms mottled purple and blue under his thumb. "It needs to be changed," she tells him in a tighter voice than the one she'd been using before. "Washed. We have antibiotics down in the infirmary, but they're for emergencies and infections only. I don't want to waste them on this."

Some members of the Remnant are more open to asking for help than others. Eileen is on the amenable end of the spectrum, and it's with only the faintest trace of hesitation that she finally deflates in an exhale. "Would you get me some clean bandages and a basin of water from the kitchen? You'll have to boil it."

Gabriel's hand angles away, palm up, and there's suspicion in his eyes when she flinches. No berating, however. The injuries of the Remnant are not his concern, medic though he could possibly be, and so his hand only retracts as their evening is fairly laid out for them from there. Not unusual - the amount of times they come limping home makes this normal. "Okay." The mattress whines its protest when Gabriel levers himself to his feet, although he does steal a kiss from her, a hand to her cheek, the brush of unshaven skin and softer mouth.

The kiss yields a soft groan from Eileen that originates deep in the heartfelt pit of her chest, a quiet thank you mumbled against his lips in the instant Gabriel's mouth catches hers. Then she's laying down on the bed with her back and shoulders flush against the mattress, eyes focused on the bedroom ceiling and the network of cracks that stretch weblike from one wall to the other. It's only superficial damage, nothing that couldn't be fixed with the right tools and a generous helping of sticky spackle if Eileen ever decided that she wanted a smooth surface to stare up at on sleepless nights.

She hasn't, yet. As Gabriel takes his leave of the room, she closes her eyes and turns her cheek against the bedspread, breathing in the familiar smell of her own perfume coupled with rumpled cotton sheets and the comforter spread across them. If he can steal a kiss, then she can steal five or ten minutes of sleep while he's downstairs on the errand assigned to him.

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