The Subtle Things


eileen_icon.gif sylar_icon.gif

Scene Title The Subtle Things
Synopsis Eileen's search for answers brings her back to a source that's been lucrative in the past.
Date February 13, 2011

Avi Epstein's Apartment

She isn't sure she can call the apartment lived-in because what its keeper does she cannot classify as living — not as human beings do, at least, and on this point she will agree with Gabriel. Eileen remembers the sour smells of rot and decay, that necrotized flesh stink, and the wildness in eyes identical to his in every way except for what was behind them.

A hand gloved in lambskin creaks open the wardrobe in the bedroom. She imagines the hinges make more noise than they actually do, more noise than the last time she was here, which was many months ago, and in the wardrobe's defense there had been staleness in the air then, not the organic, almost coppery taste that greeted her when she foxed her way inside this time, putting her on edge the moment she fist set foot on the floorboards. The little mockingbird perched on the bed's headboard, dressed smartly in winters grays and crisp black, snaps a look in the direction of the door and gives an irritated flick of its wingtips as if to remind her to please hurry even though she needs no reminding at all.

She's as anxious as it is.

It has been exactly thirteen days since the dome either came down or went up. (The media is still debating semantics.) This is the same number of days bereft loved ones must wait in some religions before a feast can be arranged for the dead to bring peace to their departed soul — the same number of steps in the gallows, the same number of cards in a suit and a thousand other ridiculous correlations that Eileen has absolutely no use for but dwells on just the same. Yesterday it had been twelve, the number of pence in a shilling, the number of pairs of ribs in a—


She dwells no more as the dress hanging on the inside of wardrobe's mirrored door catches the mockingbird's attention and it flutters closer to confirm that it isn't just a shadow. Eileen rubs the material between her fingers, though the leather of her gloves makes her touch dumb — fortunately, what the dress is made of is not quite as important as what the dress is doing there. Unfortunately, she doesn't have an answer for that either — only dark suspicions — and she lets the fabric drop, ripple, settle.

Eileen has just discovered two things.

  1. The man masquerading as Avi Epstein is in possession of at least one set of women's clothing.
  2. He has either forgotten to remove the mirror from the inside of the wardrobe's door, or has intentionally left it there on purpose — given the scrupulous attention to detail possessed by the individual he sprang from, she leans toward the latter and that is perhaps more disturbing than number one.

She shuts the wardrobe door with quiet finality. There may or may not be a bra hidden away in its drawers, but what cup size Sylar wears doesn't tell her whether or not he and Sarisa Kershner are involved with what has befallen Roosevelt Island and a sizable portion of Queens. Her cursory search of the other rooms, all stripped of their mirrors, including the bath, has similarly failed to yield anything of consequence — only confirms the old idea that when one large predator is forced out of fertile territory — trapped under a fucking dome — another moves in to take its place.

It and what she saw of her thin, haggard reflection are also a sobering reminder that she is, in comparison, all sleekness and whiskers, fleet of foot, a small, snaking thing that dances and leaps but is snapped easily if caught between bigger jaws. And his are. She's dangled and bled in them before.

"Come," she commands her mockingbird, wrist held aloft, and although she has no need to speak, the sound of her own voice is steady, affirming, comforting in the same way Gabriel's presence would be if he was here.

But he's not. And come to think of it, if he was, then she wouldn't be — they'd have no reason for either of them to tempt fate at all.

The door creaks open.


Much later.

The ghost of presence in the air, although no doubt that Eileen is smarter than to wear strong perfume. It's just the subtle things, the unsettled nature of a room invaded and the way the carpet scuffs from feet when he doesn't remember walking in that particular path. The invasion could of course be anyone at that point. It doesn't bother Sylar over much — paranoia is a familiar clamp on his insides, but invincibility shields it, warm anticipation. If someone knows he's here—

That could be fun too.

A microwave dinner is radiated in the clock-timer box, and it's only when the next night falls that he bothers turning on the overhead lights that he sees it.

The feather, caught in the carpet fibres.

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