The Earth Says To The Sky


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Scene Title The Earth Says To The Sky
Synopsis On a cold night in the place where he last drew breath, Eileen Ruskin commits herself to the precipice.
Date October 1, 2009

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

When people want to refer to the events that culminated in the collapse of the Vanguard's New York City cell, they say that the Verrazano-Narrows fell. This isn't exactly true. Today, over half of the ruined suspension bridge is submerged in water so deep and dark that even when the sun is shining, it's impossible to make out its gnarled shape beneath the tidal strait's choppy surface. The sections that are still standing are held together by sinewy lengths of twisted metal cable that resemble muscular cords, and although the bridge itself has been closed to all traffic since the tail end of January, this hasn't stopped the morbidly curious from venturing out across the water in hopes of stealing a glimpse or snapping a few photographs of the destruction.

At night, when security is laxer and the yellow moon is reflected in the harbor below, it's where the jumpers come to pitch themselves into an icy grave. No matter what the time of year, the water is cold, and the chances of climbing back out again once you go in are so slim as to be almost non-existent. Eileen is lucky to have survived her fall, so it might be strange to find her here of all places, one hand gripping a loose length of suspension cable that snapped when the bridge plunged everyone on it into the strait, the other steadying herself against a cement divider that was once used to separate lanes of traffic.

Wind blows through her hair and tickles her temples and the nape of her neck where the curls are loosest, filling her ears with a dull roar combined with the sound of waves crashing against the bridge's weakened supports below. She isn't wearing any shoes, and her toes hook over the edge like the feet of the large black bird perched on the railing a few meters away.

If she came here with the intention of killing herself, she probably would have done it already. Probably.

"You're losing your edge." The voice is quiet, spoken softly so not as to startle the frail thing dangling on the edge of that great watery precipice. "A year ago you wouldn't let someone sneak up on you," hard-soled shoes scuff against the concrete underfoot, dark clothing stands muted in the gloom of a moonlit night. The chill in the air, especially coming off of the water this late into Autumn is bitter on the skin, and perhaps that's why Peter Petrelli has bundled himself up in a thick, woolen pea-coat the same ink-black shade as the suit worn beneath, though that he feels the cold at all may be a fortunate sign.

"I come up here to think, sometimes…" No contemporary greetings, no explanations, just a slow segue into conversation as if this were perfectly normal. Somehow that affect is obviously unlike Petrelli's usual demeanor. "The sound of the waves, the distant gulls. There's a beach in Morocco that has much the same sounds; those distant noises of urban life on the fringes of perception." Coming up to stand behind and to the side of Eileen, Peter's cold blue eyes stare out over dark waves. "It's like standing on my own grave."

The raven rumples its feathers in greeting, a flash of moonlight reflected off the silver band it wears on its leg. A sliver of pale eye the same colour focuses on Peter in Eileen's peripheral vision through her hair. "You've never been to Morocco," she reminds him, and in spite of her smoker's hoarseness, her tone is gentle. Chalk white fingers uncurl around the cable, and she takes a tentative step back, dislodging a few pebble-sized chunks of concrete that crumble off the edge of the drop. The strait is too far below for either of them to detect the plunk of the debris when it hits the water, or the inaudible gurgle of it being sucked under.

Cognitive dissonance aside, she prefers this Peter to the old one, and not just because he reminds her of the man who met his end here. "Do you believe in God, Peter?"

Dark brows furrow together, head tilting to the side as he regards Eileen in the way the raven regards him. There's a smile, appreciative at the bird's presence, pride perhaps — one of the seven sins at the least. "I could have…" He admits vaguely with a shrug of his shoulders, "been to Morocco, I mean. That was a good guess, though. But it feels like I have, if I close my eyes… I can hear the surf, feel the sun on my cheeks." Blue eyes fall shut as Peter talks, but then open as he lets out a dry laugh. "I guess I could fantisize about better things."

He doesn't want to answer the latter question, and that's why he skirts around it. At least until the remainder of his words fail, and he forgets himself. "I— " forgets himself enough that he has to reconsider his words, "I was raised Catholic, for what it counts. My mother and father both were fairly religious people— for all the hypocracy that is." Bitter words they are, coming out tired sounding and without the venom they should have.

"Kazimir…" Bold to invoke his name, here of all places, "was raised Russian Orthodox, he believed, for a time. In a way still does, it's something we share. I think there's a higher power out there, I don't know if it's a God, or just one of our own kind who's found all the answers. Agnosticism is sort've like hedging your bets though, isn't it?"

"My grandmother was a Polish Jew," says Eileen. "Most of her family died in Treblinka during the war. I always thought if I should hate him for something, I should hate him for that, but there are people like Helena and Catherine who compare what happened in Europe to what's happening here, and that makes me angrier. I couldn't explain it." Dark brows lower, the whites of her eyes shadowed by thick lashes that shimmer with moisture. Streaks of make-up run from their corners and follow the natural shape of her face all the way down her cheeks and chin through the curve of her throat. The collar of her shirt, too, is damp, and not in a way that suggests rain.

"Mum wasn't religious. Da didn't stick around long enough for me to get big enough to want to ask. You still believe it anyway though, you know. Because when you're ten, eleven, who doesn't believe in God?" There's blood in her hair, matted around her left ear where a scab has begun to form over bruised skin. It must not hurt very much if she hasn't seen to it yet. "Abigail thinks she's going to Hell for what she did. I don't know how to explain how I feel about that, either."

Nothing Eileen says seems to be easy on Peter, from the look on his face when she begins talking all the way through to the awkward silence that comes afterwards. All he does is hang his head, eyes halfway closed and hands tucked into the pockets of his pea coat. Standing there, facing against the wind, Peter can't find a way to explain how the twist of his stomach makes him feel. He can't explain why his heart sinks lower, why his jaw sets the way it does. He can feel but it doesn't quite make sense.

"I don't believe in Heaven or Hell…" The admittance comes quietly, "they're not mutually exclusive ideas to a higher power. The idea we're punished for our decisions more than we already are in this life is absurd. This is what we have, what we make of it, and if we happen to find a second chance…" one dark brow rises to crease the scar across his face, "best make the most of it."

Dipping his head down, Peter turns it slowly to look askance at Eileen, sliding one gloved hand out of his pocket as he moves to come up and stand on the divider beside her. That hand reaches out, resting on her shoulder with a firm squeeze. "Come down…" says the land to the sky, "talk."

Eileen's shoulder grows tense beneath Peter's hand. "There is no God." The words are slow, shallow, spoken with increasing urgency and breathlessness. "No higher power. It's just an excuse people use to feel better when life takes a shit on them. A little girl succumbs to leukemia and her family tells themselves it was an angel that took her, that it was her time. Everything happens for a reason, they say.

"Bollocks." She hisses it past her lips, punctuates the statement with a sharp intake of breath followed by a wet sound that shudders all the way through her. The heels of her hands wipe at her face. "I let myself believe for the longest time that Ethan left because God was punishing me for the things I did. That Gabriel couldn't remember who I was because that's the way it ought to be, because I didn't deserve a second chance with the people I loved. And you know what? The only reason he even looks at me now is because he hasn't got anyone else. He hasn't got Gillian. You took that from him."

"I never— " Peter's hand shakes on the tensed arm, a tremor of uncertainty that reflects in his words. Then, the proper memories come to the surface, head turning away as his hand moves off from her arm. "I… I didn't take— " his breath hitches in the back of his throat, shoulders slacking in that clearly Petrelli manner before he halts abruptly, brings a hand up to the side of his head and looks back towards Eileen with furrowed brows.

"Nihilism isn't becoming of you." The words sound reluctant, "jump and make the fact that you lived worth nothing, or come down from there." It's said as Peter steps back and down from the concrete. Only once his feet have hit the cracked pavement does he let out his breath, visible as a puff of steam in the chilly night air. "I don't— " he has to try and manage his words carefully, "I don't know you well enough to tell you whether what you're feeling is right or wrong, I don't know Gabriel well enough to say either…"

Losing track of his words, Peter exhales a sigh, "But I don't like the look of you standing up there either. Please…" quieter this time, less forceful and more tired, "just… come down."

"This has nothing to do with Gabriel," Eileen spits, her voice crackling with raw emotion. The raven on the railing lets out a low croak of distress and slaps at the open air with its wings, rocking its weight from foot to foot as it bobs its head and blinks inky black eyes. Whatever connection exists between woman and bird, it's strengthened by the obvious distress they're both experiencing. "I died at Pinehearst, Peter. I'm only here because he and the Nichols girl brought me back, and I wish they'd left me that way because they brought me back wrong."

More pieces of rock break off from the ledge, large enough to make a splash upon hitting the water. Cables creak. The bridge under their feet groans. She does not come down. "That power breathed life into me and sucked all the happiness out. The only way I can feel good is to stick a needle in my arm and relive the better memories I forgot that I had!"

Jaw squared, Peter stares up at Eileen now with something more uncertain, wide-eyed worry that slowly tempers itself even as the bridge begins to buckle and crack. When reason and rationalle shouldn't rightly be calm, it becomes as much, and that look of a spooked animal Peter had for but a moment turns icy still. "Bollocks," he spits back sarcastically despite the uneven footing, "this is entirely about Gabriel, about you and about your life. Don't you think for a moment I'm unaware of what happened at Pinehearst to you, don't you think for a moment that I wasn't there watching you die. Gabriel's panic was my panic, was my fear. I felt you die, your heart stop, your breathing arrest."

He reaches out, one leather-gloved hand taking hers tightly, "Don't you for a moment presume that I wasn't there grieving for your loss the way you foolishly grieve for mine." The inflection and posture is all right, now, as is the unflappable calm in the face of collapsing stone and steel.

"You died, and you were given a second chance. Is this what you're going to make of it? Self pity and tears for what?" It's no longer Peter's lips that spill out these words, not in any stretch of the imagination save for his purely physical countenance. "For nothing. I didn't watch helplessly as you died, only to have this curse bring you back just to watch you kill yourself here or any time after."

Blue eyes finally meet hears in the rocking of the bridge. "Get down from there, Munin."

Eileen's tear-streaked face undergoes a rapid transformation that leaves her skin deathly pale and her eyes swimming with fear. Her fingertips curl in on themselves, an instinctive response to the hand clasping hers, though she does not pull away. Somewhere along the way, it's occurred to her that the man she was speaking to a few moments ago is not the man who is addressing her now, but rather than curl her lip, flash her teeth and snarl the argument she feels pressed between her tongue and her front teeth, she flattens her mouth and instead focuses on remembering to breathe.

Narrow shoulders rise, fall, shiver violently in the same cold that prickles her cheeks and spreads gooseflesh down her throat and arms. There are a few moments where this is all she can do, stiff and unmoving, but when the shock passes and abandons its vice-like grip on her frame, the first thing she does is step off onto the pavement. In her bare feet, she's even shorter than she usually is, and that she refuses to lift her eyes to his face does not help.

What do you even say in a situation like this?

"I'm sorry."

Not Eileen's words, not Peter's either, but it is his voice. The apology is all that's said in that awkward silence, where the wind whistles across the creaking bridge in the few moments before the ground cracks, and a large section of the bridge simply isn't there any longer, sending twisted rebar and broken concrete tumbling down into that cold abyss below. When the bridge shakes, his free hand moves up to brace her shoulder, blue eyes cast down to the edge now so many more feet closer, watching a concrete barricade silently cartwheel through the air before impacting the dark water below.

Peter is silent, head turning to regard Eileen the way cold blue eyes only can. By the time the gloved hand has come to her cheek, threatening the meeting of eyes as one thumb brushes across that tear-streaked span of glistening flesh, there's a look of wide-eyed confusion on Peter's face. Gone is the stoicism, the simple calmness and adamancy of the man who talked her down from the ledge. It's just Peter again, even if the eyes belong to someone else. He's not sure why his hand is on her cheek, or why he feels as sad as he does.

It's hard to imagine why this would have made him cry, he hardly know her, and yet— the tears are cold thanks to the autumn wind.

Eileen's face turns toward the hand on her cheek, brushing Peter's fingers over her eyelids and nose. Her throat contracts, forces down the bulge she feels growing in it and constricts all sound except for the ragged shudder of her breathing. It's a few minutes before she finds her voice again, and even then it's a low croak, dry and hollow, brittle as a dead leaf fluttering weakly in a stiff breeze. "I need you to take me home," she whispers coarsely.

Either she's losing her mind or he is. She's not sure which, but as she speaks she reaches up, takes his hand and moves it from her face, forcibly lowering it to his side with an arm that trembles. "Please."

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