The Context Of Puzzles


amato_icon.gif gillian4_icon.gif

Scene Title The Context of Puzzles
Synopsis There's a lot of mysteries in the world and Gillian goes to Amato thinking she solved one.
Date September 21, 2010

The Garden

Situated in a copse several miles away from the nearest stretch of asphalt, the Garden is accessible via an old dirt road that winds snakelike through the woods and dead-ends at the property's perimeter, which is surrounded by stone wall plastered with wicked coils of rusty barbed wire to keep would-be intruders from attempting to scale it. Those with a key can gain entry via the front gate.

The safehouse itself is a three-story brickwork cottage over a century old and covered in moss and ivy. It slants to one side, suggesting that the foundation has been steadily sinking into the wet earth; incidentally, this may be one of the reasons why its prior occupants never returned to the island to reclaim their property when government officials lifted evacuation orders and re-opened the Verrazano-Narrows shortly before its eventual destruction.

Inside, the cottage is decorated in mismatched antique furniture including a couch in the living room and an armchair nestled in the corner closest to the fireplace that go well with the safehouse's hardwood floors and the wood-burning stoves in some of the spare bedrooms. A heavy wooden table designed to seat eight separates the dining area from the rest of the kitchen, which is defined by its aged oak cabinetry and the dried wildflowers hanging above them.

Just as the sun's descent toward the western horizon starts to paint the sky a series of deeper blues, rich oranges, and bright pinks, Amato Salucci's silhouette can be seen alongside a much larger one as he leads the last of the Garden's three mares from the field into the stable. The other two were happy to come in for the evening dose of hay - their reward for spending the night in the safety of the stalls - but this one had lingered in the pasture. Still, Amato doesn't mumble curses or any other sort of ill-intended words at the beast as he walks alongside her, his thin fingers hooked through the braided rope halter. The mare swishes her tail behind her as she walks, though there are no flies pestering her.

It's a warm night, but there is no cricket song or firefly lamps. Summer has gone, leaving Amato to do his nightly chores in a light twill jacket rather than his shirt sleeves or even his bare arms. It's mostly to protect himself from the quick wind that cuts through the woods and across the clearing in which the cottage and stable lie.

Dressed in grass stained jeans and dirt stained shirt, Gillian's looking more and more like she's growing atuned to this location. Her arms are tanned, and the bridge of her nose a little pink to show burning, but that could just be the sun. There's been days when it was redder, but once it settled into a tan, it become a little more natural. The ex-goth has gone a long way from when she first met him. And it's not just the red hair.

"Hey there, Amato," she speaks up as he gets the mare settled, keeping back enough to avoid any gifts left behind from the ride, or the adventures. "There's something I wanted to ask you about. You got a bit?"

Amato looks toward Gillian through the back door of the stall as he removes the mare's halter. She's patient, at least, and he rubs her velvety nose in thanks before letting her go to the fresh hay in her rack. But then he turns to smile at Gillian, walking toward her and closing the stall door behind him. "You've caught me at the perfect time then," he says congenially. "What can I do for you, Gillian?"

But he doesn't wait to hear her answer. Instead, he moves toward the end of the stable to enter the tack room, motioning with the hand that holds the halter for the young woman to follow him. He can listen as they walk just as much as she can talk.

The stable can be a minefield, of certain types, so Gillian is careful as she follows in, not wanting to soil her shoes too badly. It's more for the fact they'd be hard to clean, than that they're expensive. These are her work shoes. As she moves, she picks something out of the deep cargo pockets of her capri pants and holds it up.

A puzzle piece.

"Why are you doing this? And why is the word 'children' written on the back?" No preface, no blanketing for her question. Just right to the point.

But Amato's back is to Gillian when she pulls out the piece, as he is hanging the halter up in it's proper place inside the tack room. When he does turn to look at her, his brows are already furrowed in confusion, and his eyes move slowly from her face to the larger than normal piece of cardstock in her hand.

He frowns.

"Gillian, I can't say I understand what you're asking me," he says slowly, watching her face for clues as to why she's come to him with this. Or else for hints to just how crazy she is. "You think because we worked a puzzle together that…what?"

"Oh come on— don't play dumb," Gillian says, turning it to the side which has a picture. "If it's a coincidence, it's the biggest coincidence that ever happened since I met Peter Petrelli and Gabriel Gray on the same day." And that had been a pretty big coincidence.

"It's even a painting, like the one we put together. Look, if you're trying to do something secretive, I'll keep your secret, but I want to know why that word was chosen. Was it because of what I told you?"

But the image is dark, with only the vaguest details to hint at the fact that it is a painting. Amato narrows his eyes as he studies it without getting more than few steps closer and without taking it from Gillian's grip. At four inches square, it's quite large enough to inspect from a small distance. "You're assuming many things, Gillian," he says in a slow, quiet, and altogether patient tone. "You're assuming that it was I who wrote that word, and it was I who decided that you should find it."

A smile twinkles in his eyes without reaching any other feature on his face. "But if you're curious as to what it means, then I can offer little counsel. Like any part of a whole, meaning cannot be deciphered without context."

If she hadn't had days and days to study it and think about it, she might not have jumped to such a conclusion, but Gillian's had it for quite some time. An envelope with her name on it, placed where someone might might know they would reach her. "As far as the outside world is concerned, I should be dead. In fact if someone else did send this to me, I'm extremely worried for my safety. It could be a tracking device, or something." And she'd made herself less paranoid by thinking it'd come from him.

The puzzle piece is shoved into her pocket, albet more gently than if she really thought it had a tracking device in it. "The idea that you sent it was pretty much the only thing that kept me from throwing it in the fire and leaving the city for good. I can't handle getting captured again. And using the word children could be a threat, even. So honestly, it would be easier on me if it did come from you."

"You're safe with the Ferrymen," Amato says, the smile in his eyes replaced with sincerity. "There is no reason to doubt it, though I am afraid I cannot say more." Doing so would jeopardize too much. He turns his back to Gillian once more to start tidying up, not that there is much to tidy. But it keeps his hands busy as he talks. "If it helps you to think I was the one who sent it, then by all means - I will not stop you."

"It's a lot safer than the alternative," Gillian admits quietly, though she's shrugging a little more than she was when she finally had worked up the nerve to ask the question no one ever seems to want to answer. Why is such a difficult question, in any situation, it seems. "I guess the word just means a lot more to me than— almost any word that could have been on it. As you should know from what we talked about. Maybe 'son' would have been more telling of our conversation. Children could be referencing the Lighthouse Kids, which a lot of people knew I was connected to. But— it still seemed like more than a coincidence."

And now she'll just have to accept it as one, or at least not push the topic more. "Think you can teach me to ride again tomorrow, after we finish up any chores we might have?"

"You know how to ride," Amato says in a light, teasing manner. "But yes, you can ride again tomorrow, so long as no one else needs the horses for anything." And Amato will stand by to be the encourager and to make sure the gentle mare doesn't do much to scare the young woman. He nods toward the door before he walks in the same direction, smiling along the plane of his shoulder at Gillian.

"Don't think about it too hard," he says with what might be a wink, or what might be just a slight, quick narrowing of his eyes. "And remember - with something like that there is always more. Context, my dear girl. Context."

"Yeah, I know, always more to a puzzle than one piece," Gillian says, though the puzzle for her had been on that one piece alone. Because of what it said. Out of context, perhaps, but… "I still don't know how to put a saddle on," she offers as something she could learn, looking at him removing it as she does. Riding wasn't difficult to learn, really, children can do it, but— little things are still necessary.

"Maybe then I can be more help taking it off and stuff when we're done."

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