The Smallest Fraction


eileen_icon.gif gillian_icon.gif

Scene Title The Smallest Fraction
Synopsis Gillian and Eileen reconvene at the Lighthouse many hours after their meeting with Leonardo and discuss 'Jenny'.
Date March 19, 2010

The Lighthouse: Tower

No snow today. There's enough accumulated on the roof and the ground to be seen for miles. The edge of the water has turned to slush, wanting to freeze, but not quite. Drifts pile up like dunes. There's some odd people shaped prints in the snow, here and there, as the kids had went and made snow angels. Even a bunch of snowmen stand at attention, each stick noses and pebbles for eyes… An army of snow Brians, as the kids had been going for.

The heat from the fire in the living room filters to the upstairs, but much of it doesn't make it to the tower itself. The air is cool, with the slight wind pushing the looser layers of snow around. Even with the sounds creaking through the house, the footsteps of the stairs can be heard clearly. "Sorry," Gillian says, the smell of warm tea predating her voice by a moment, as she carries a tray upstairs. "Hailey wouldn't go to bed until I finished another chapter of Watership Down. She loves the book. I wasn't sure she was old enough for it, but… It's better than having to read Twilight again."

The tray of fresh tea is sat down on the floor, complete with a kettle and two cups.

Eileen is bundled in the same clothes she wore when she and Gillian went to meet with Leonardo, red cashmere scarf tucked down the front of her double-breasted wool coat which is buttoned all the way up to her chin. The last time she was up here, it was with Bai-Chan in her arms, his dark head resting against her shoulder as she stroked soothing fingers through his hair and spoke to him in a language he didn't understand. Tonight, the only person she has for company is Gillian, and if the smile she offers the other woman is anything to judge by, then she's grateful for her presence.

She sits on the floor with her back to wall beneath one of the windows, knees drawn into her chest and slim arms encircling her legs. "I was always very fond of Hyzenthlay," she murmurs. "Thethuthinnang, movement of the leaves. Have they found Efrafa yet?"

The low cut blouse, and even the jeans she'd wore are gone. Replaced instead by something more modest, comfortable, and warm. And for up here, she added on a jacket, that she didn't wear in the rest of the house. The fire burning downstairs keeps the rest of the house warm enough to go without. "Not yet. Almost, though. We got as far as the raid on the farmhouse, and when Hazel didn't come back she demanded I keep going until she knew he was alive," Gillian explains, setting on the floor to pour them both a cup of tea. It's flavored, from the smell of it. Cranberry, in fact.

"My favorite was always Blackberry. Figuring things out, like the boats."

"Wood floats," Eileen agrees, hands warmed through the leather of her gloves as she picks up and cradles her cup in her palms. She's very peculiar about her tea when she's the one making it but when she's being served by someone else, she drinks it however it's presented, with or without cream and sugar. All the matters in this case is that it's hot.

She breathes into the cup, spreading ripples through it's surface to cool it before raising it to her lips and taking a slow sip. Cranberry is not a variety that she's ever had the opportunity to sample. "It's a good story. There's a lot in it for them to relate to with the way things are now."

"Yeah," Gillian says quietly, perhaps not having put as much thought into that when she chose the book. "I guess in a way we're all uprooted from our homes, seen cruel things happen simply because we're in the way. And then… Efrafa." It's the worst possibilities of what the government could do, all rolled into a story that on the surface looks like it's supposed to be about fluffy animals. But that illusion is broken not too far in.

There's a pause, some time spent breathing in the warmth from the tea.

"I know Peter had Joe call you," she starts softly, keeping her voice down to a rasped whisper. "And I figure you're the one who finally picked him up off the doorstep. I offered to drive him somewhere. But…" Always a but. She shakes her head, and continues onward, "I didn't want things to turn out that way."

"Jensen took him back across the river," Eileen says around the rim of her cup. "I didn't want to bring it up until I'd gotten a chance to speak with Gabriel about it, but he's agreed to leave Jenny alone for the time being." For the time being is maybe not the most reassuring of qualifiers, which is probably why she doesn't pause for more than a moment or two before she makes an attempt at elaboration, thumb tracing the shape of the cup's porcelain lip. "He thinks there's a possibility the copy might lose control over its ability and hurt the children. I convinced him to watch from a distance, and if it starts displaying any signs of dangerous behaviour— then that's something we can address when it happens."

"Jenny…" Gillian says softly, voice trailing off a bit, so she can take a long sip on the warm tea. Not quite as warming as some things, but better than the cold of the tower. "I had a clone once. When I lost Peter's ability on the Pinehearst roof, for some reason or another one of them didn't disappear. She— started calling herself Stef and became her own person. Her own personality, her own life. Even if it was only a few months long, it was a life. She was me, and she wasn't…"

There's a shake of her head. She's not even sure Eileen remembers all of that, her time with Peter's old ability, or any of it. "I know she— or he— or whatever— I know it's not real. But I know a part of it is my sister. In the smallest fraction. It's still all I have left."

"He's not going to take it away from you unless it becomes necessary for all of us," Eileen promises, lowering her cup to the floor so she can strip her gloves from her hands and tuck them into her overcoat's side pocket, which is in itself an excuse to reach inside and go through the familiar motions of selecting a single cigarette from the battered package of Camels she carries everywhere with her.

Gold foil glitters colourlessly and fills the tower with a crinkling noise that sounds like a softer version of the wind rattling in the trees outside. "Gabriel's too vain to understand how you feel. You see shreds of Jenny and he sees lingering evidence of a poor decision he wishes he hadn't made. There's more than just one."

"She'll be taken away eventually, no matter if it's necessary or not," Gillian says in quiet tones, looking toward the cigarette, but not giving any sign of disapproving of it. Sure, the smell will eventually fill the tower and overpower the tea scent, but… there's worse things to smell than cigarettes.

"I haven't really gotten her to talk. I have a feeling she doesn't know half of what she is— couldn't tell me much even if I asked." But what face does she see when she looks in the mirror in those times she locks herself in her room? "How many are there?"

Eileen holds up three fingers with one hand and places her cigarette between her lips with the other. "Jenny, Tavisha, Sylar." Giving the clones names based on their most prominent personalities makes it easier to differentiate between them even though those names might not be entirely accurate in the strictest sense.

"Before we knew they were copies, we cornered Sylar in Midtown thinking that he was Gabriel," the Englishwoman explains around the cigarette's filter as she searches a different pocket for her matchbook and indicates the stitches above her eye. It doesn't take her very long to locate. "My ability helps me tell those two apart, but you and the children need to be careful about who comes around. He knows everything Gabriel does, and that includes the location of the orphanage and what you do here."

"Tavisha," Gillian says quietly under her breath, exhale pushing up more steam from the cup, and threatening to fog the windows, if they weren't already doing that enough by themselves. "I hadn't thought of it til now— I guess that's why Peyton said it was so confusing. I never asked if she even tried to look through Brian's eyes before. I thought Gabriel had some kind of protection, like he had versus Arthur's way of finding people."

There's a sigh, and she leans back a bit, letting a hand support her as she looks up. "I guess I should get passwords or something. Kids like that sort of thing. If they don't know the password, slam the door and come find someone. Though I don't know what good that would do if… Sylar decides to walk in. Is he the one doing those murders?"

"He tried to kill me for mine and would have succeeded if Gabriel hadn't intervened." Eileen drags her match head against the back of the book and is rewarded with a sudden flare of heat and light that licks white-hot across the backs of her knuckles. "Even if he isn't the one responsible," she says, "he's got both the means and the desire to."

Her gaze drifts past Gillian, over her shoulder to the darkened stairwell leading back downstairs, green eyes searching for shadows that do not belong hanging in the hall. Seeing none, she bows her head and cups both hands around cigarette and match as she uses one to light the other. "Gabriel's afraid. He won't admit to it, but he is. I think of seeing Jenny become what Sylar has, slave to that part of him he's fighting so hard to keep repressed."

Means and motive. And a house full of kids with abilities. But there's many more in the city more worthwhile than others. Some who have abilities far more tempting. Gillian sighs a bit, rubbing a hand over her face while the other keeps holding the teacup for some warmth, though the steam is less and less. "I augmented her. Twice. I know that doesn't say too much, but— if she was going to lose control, that would be one of the times for it to happen. I'm not going to test it again, though. First time she ran away in fear, the second time… she turned into that Chinese man. The ninja, as the kids started to call him." It's funny how rumors spread in such a small house.

"I knew it probably wasn't her. From the first time I saw her. I wanted it to be, so many people come back from the dead it seems that… I wanted her to be one of them. Cause if she did, then it wasn't…" She shakes her head. Blame the man in the doorway, is what she said. But how can she, really, when she'd been living with the man in the doorway? "Is it wrong to risk everything by wanting to hold onto it for as long as I can? Should I… take her away somewhere else? So the kids aren't at risk?"

Eileen waves the match through the air to snuff out the flame and deposits the spent stick, still billowing smoke, onto the tea tray with a sharp plink of wood glancing against metal. The smell produced by the burning paper and blended tobacco is distinctly foreign in spite of it being an American brand, and invokes a kind of lurid imagery, all vibrant glass lanterns, burnished brass jewelry and silk rugs woven from deep, resplendent colours that New York City has not seen since the first snowfall. The Ottoman Empire has been dead for close to a century, but a small part of it lives on as a pale imitation in the cheap cigarette burning bright orange in the left corner of Eileen's mouth.

"No," she says. "She's your best defense against Sylar and whatever else might show up on your doorstep."

It also makes Gillian think of Tavisha. The smell on his coat when he'd come home to their little house in Staten. It always makes her think of him, which is why she sometimes lights a cigarette just to smell it burn. There's a deep inhale as she closes her eyes a bit, picturing him in her mind. It makes her shake her head after a moment. It doesn't completely clear, but it clears enough. "Good. I don't know how well she… will be able to fight him if he does come by. The ninja guy only came out after I augmented her, it may not be able to happen on will. It doesn't help that she's been avoiding any talk about it either…"

She rubs her hand across her face again, focusing briefly with fingers on her mouth, so she has to talk through them when she does. "I brought in Peter— technically Peter came on his own, but…" she shakes her head. She doesn't really want to remember the state she'd found them in. "I'd wanted Kaylee. So she could telepath her without me having to confront her. I wanted to know why. I thought it was him, from the tattoo, and from Peyton telling me he was alive. I don't think even they know why, though."

Clones ruin pronouns.

That Gillian would think of trying something similar to what the Remnant attempted to do with 'Epstein' causes Eileen's eyes to glitter mirthfully. "The only person with answers is Gabriel, and I'm under the impression there are some things about the situation he's still leery about. He's not been entirely forthcoming, but I haven't demanded it of him."

Smoke fills the air between the two women, dissipating into a fine mist as she removes the cigarette from her mouth and scoops up her teacup again. It dangles between the joints of her fingers and continues to wither at a slow, ashen creep, its flavour traded for the milder taste of the cranberry-infused drink. "I don't think that I could."

"It's hard to demand anything of him," Gillian admits, though despite her own issue with it, when her hand lowers to pick up the cup, she's actually smiling. Perhaps even fondly. "I should probably envy you, but I guess I don't. We hurt each other too much, and I fucked it up." Though it's still there a little, now that she thinks about it. Mostly cause… Well…

Is there anyone out there she will want and not mess it up on?

"I'm glad he's alive, though." For her, for them both. "I hope you get the chance to tell him things." Even if she can't be demanding of him, doesn't hurt to say things that needed to be said, right? Except when it does…

"You can do better than Peter Petrelli," is what Eileen feels the need to say. "You can do better than a man who's made the decision to masquerade as something he's not at the sacrifice of his ideals." While she realizes on an intellectual level that Peter can't be blamed for choosing to commit to his fresh start instead of his work with the Ferry, her resentment for his actions is clear on her face and in her voice when she speaks of him. "What happened between the two of you, and what happened between you and Gabriel before that is not in any way a reflection of your flaws as a person, Gillian. They're both very proud and very arrogant men, and neither of them have an easy time looking at the world from perspectives other than their own. That's not to say you should blame them, but you shouldn't blame yourself either."

"It's hard not to blame yourself when almost everyone kept saying that I needed to change or I needed to find myself or I needed to do this or that or…" Gillian bites back the rest of her rant a little, throat tightening. A long drink from the tea, now cooler than it'd been, helps keep her from continuing on, at least for a bit. When it lowers, she shakes her head. "He even said that to me, you know— that we weren't ready to be in a relationship. That we needed to figure out who we are. But considering it's not even two months later and he's already got a girl in his apartment, lipstick on his cheek and…"

Her shoulders fall a bit, "He could have just said he didn't want to be with me. I wanted to trust him… and he's an asshole."

"You can trust him to be there if anything were to happen to you or the children," Eileen reminds Gillian gently. "Asshole or not." A short drag from her cigarette fills her nose and mouth with smoke, some of it leaking through her nostrils as she savours the sensations it creates and the effect that the nicotine has on her body. She feels good, relaxed, though this likely has more to do with the fact that they were able to convince Leonardo to make bid for Pollepel than it does chemical intoxication or the warmth the tea is spreading through her belly.

Feeling good and relaxed, however, does not render her unsympathetic. She's also acutely aware of the other woman sitting across from her. "You're saving lives, you know. These kids. Fuck anything else up. Love, relationships, other people — it doesn't matter. Look at what you're really giving your heart to."

"Sure he will," Gillian says with a sound that seems to be one of doubt. Or maybe she's just still hurt over it, when she should feel relaxed. For the visit to Leonardo Maxwell, especially. But— it helped with one kind of tension, but not another. "What's he going to do now anyway. Cough on the bad guys? Wave a lamp around?" She shakes her head, trying to turn it into humor, and only half succeeding. It is a funny picture, at least.

"You're right, though. What I'm doing here is better. I didn't even feel this good when I was helping Phoenix. Even that I kinda owe him. Didn't even know I wanted kids til a dream told me I would've had one." That she never will. "I wished I didn't remember knowing about that, but— I guess I'm glad I did. Cause I might not have been here otherwise."

Eileen sets her empty teacup back on the tray. "Whether you want to be one or not," she says, "you are a mother to these children, and you'll continue to be after they're grown. Hailey's going to remember more than words in a book. She'll live the rest of her life with the smell of your hair, the sound of your voice, the touch of your skin when you hold her to you and kiss her forehead goodnight."

She traces her thumb along her cigarette's filter and reaches out, tapping ash into the bottom of the cup. "It's not quite the same as raising something you spent nine months carrying inside of you, and maybe you don't have someone to wrap you in their arms at night, but neither of those things disqualify you for parenthood, lovely."

"I think the part of me that knows I'm not old enough to be their mom wants to think of myself as their big sister," Gillian says with a small smile, before she pulls the tea back up and finishes off what's left. Now that it's cool enough to drink straight and not have to sip. There is happiness in her eyes though, at those words. Much more than the happiness of just getting laid, too. The cup gets sat down, next to the match that got plunked down upon the tray, and she touches her cheek. Perhaps feeling where the kids kissed her good night.

Somehow that was better than sex too.

"I think we're going to have a big snowball fight in a few days. They've been asking to have one for a while, since the snow isn't going away. I understand if you're busy, but you're invited if you want to come. I'm sure the kids would love to have you, too."

"I'll be here," Eileen resolves, rising from her seat on the floor with one hand braced against the wall behind her for support. She rolls some of the tension from her back and shoulders in a languidly feline stretch and steers her gaze out the window to study the reflection of moonlit clouds rippling in water below the bluffs. "Maybe I can drag Teodoro and Jensen along too. One of them's bound to know something about building forts."

She and Gillian can handle soothing hurt feelings when someone catches a faceful of the stuff or a rock accidentally gets slipped into one of the bundles tightly packed between mittened hands. "You might notice some more shearwaters around," she adds. "If Sylar does come, we'll know."

"Oh man, now I'm picturing Jensen swinging down from trees and doing a commando-style snowball attack on the kids," Gillian says with a soft laugh, also probably picturing something similar from Teo. "The way they look up to the ninja from his two minute appearance and Brian— They'll probably think he's really cool." From the sounds of it, she might share the same thoughts, even. From Argentina. She grew to admire Raith quite a bit, even if she hasn't seen him too much.

"It'll be great having the birds looking in, too. I just hope it doesn't come to that. That— Sylar doesn't visit." Pulling a gun out of a wall may not be much good, in that case.

Eileen, not wishing to put Gillian any more ill at ease than she already has, refrains from telling her that Sylar is hurt and associating the orphanage's children with what the clone might view as easy prey. The warning is enough; she doesn't have to expound on it.

Pursing her lips around the cigarette to keep it in her mouth while she fishes her gloves back out of her coat pocket and pulls them back on, the Englishwoman allows herself a breathy snort of laughter, choking on smoke. Not at Sylar — he's nothing to make light off — but at the mental image Gillian is sharing with her. "If someone doesn't start crying," she mutters, "I will be very surprised."

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