To Feel Again


gabriel_icon.gif gillian_icon.gif

Scene Title To Feel Again
Synopsis Two people with strange new powers help each other find some form of control.
Date May 3, 2009

Ferrymen Safehouse - Queens

It was too much like the Company holding cells, despite the fact the door was unlocked. Too much like the Staten Island boarding room, even, although the view isn't any better, looking out towards brickwork rather than scraggly rural vegetation that at least had some flowers. All the same, the repetition of four walls looming over the solitary metal framed cot was getting on his nerves. So he left.

About three feet out the door, to wait in the corridor.

Long legs sprawl casually in front of him, bare feet planted against cold floor. Gabriel is sitting on a bench just in view of his door, head rested back against pale walls, and eyes half shut. He wears jeans that are not his own, and slightly too big, held in place with a plain belt hidden by a sweater, only too-large in that it is so deliberately. Pale grey with a faded band logo of some kind, it only adds to the completely washed out look Gabriel is working, still pale beneath these lights and tired in a way that doesn't have to do with physical exhaustion. Mostly unshaven, hair uncombed, general neglect of the sleepless.

When he thinks to open his eyes, he finds himself in a staring match with the clock on the wall as he waits. It seems like it's at the right time, but he can't tell. Can't tell if it's running slow, fast, anything. It just ticks, pointlessly, the insides disguised from the world and he doesn't even know the desire to crack it open and look at the electronics, at the wheels and cogs. He raises a hand, studies the back of it, then his palm.

Everyone feels lost in their own body these days. Gillian has only just learned how to move without stumbling every few steps. No longer does she walk as if she has a limp under the guise of clothes and a hood. Check points are something she'd have a very difficult time with these days, so until the Ferrymen could come up with a way to get her past them, she couldn't make it this far. And unfortunately, it means she had to leave the other injured man behind. She'd stayed nearby like some kind of woman gargoyle for days— now she has to be a gargoyle elsewhere.

While her steps don't thunder as she makes it to the front door, she fails at being gentle with it when she tries to open it. It doesn't rip off, or get destroyed, but there's a snapping sound as she pulls on the doorknob before it gets turned all the way. Some of the wood cracks off, but not all. Thankfully not all. "Damnit," she rumbles in a whispered, yet distorted voice, that echos and carries far more than a normal whisper would.

Drapped in a dark hoodie, she isn't easy to make out, but metallic fingers can be seen raising up under sleeves first, fingers which push back the good. Metallic eyes blink, out of habit for expression more than need to moisturize. She'd been told the location, brought here as well as they could manage, but she doesn't know how much further she needs to go. She always hesitates entering buildings right now. A few steps inside test the flooring, to see how solid it is.

"Ga— Gabriel?"

That voice. Like guitar strings for vocal chords. Gabriel's gaze jerks sharply from his own hand towards the source, voice bouncing down the corridor, and it's not so unfamiliar that he doesn't know who it is. Especially as it bends around his name in that stammer. He missed the snap of a broken doorknob, but her footsteps falling as heavy as they do is unavoidable.

With the faint twinges of freshly healed injuries, Gabriel gets to his feet, hands up to adjust his sweater, somewhat, as if that would make all the difference, before he's wandering closer. Not without wariness, and when he does appear in the front room, distance is maintained. Likely, for good reason. For a man who got thrown into a wall and whatever else Gillian knows about his last few days, he seems— upright. Marks at his temple indicate a trail of where stitches had been, but no bruises, cuts or scrapes grace his face. Which in the grander scheme of things is probably not that unusual.

Unlike being able to turn into metal when you shouldn't. "Gillian," he says, quietly, to announce his presence, a hand rested on the doorframe and— rather blatantly staring.

The metal fingers push back the hood even further, until fine silvery threads that make up her hair hang as they had before, but granting a completely different look. When Gillian moves her head, the hair moves with her, though she probably has to be careful to keep it from cutting holes in her clothes. Despite the sight of him being a relief, she doesn't move much closer than she already has, perhaps afraid of the floor boards giving out, or knocking anything over. Thus distance may be maintained by the both of them.

Details pass through her vision, but she can make out enough to know he got medical attention, and that he looks better than she saw him last. "I know why you didn't stay with me," she finally says, even though it may not be the first thing she should say in this situation. After his name. "I'm not— I wish we would have stayed together. I didn't even know you weren't behind me until…" She trails off, shaking her head. That sends hair shifting again, back and forth.

"Are you okay now?" Even if she knows the answer, it's still a question she has to ask.

'Okay' is so relative! He wants to gesticulate wildly about how everything is far from okay, forever, don't be an idiot, but what croaks out of his mouth is— "I'm fine." Physically, he is, mostly, which was likely the point of her question in the first place. Gabriel rolls previously injured shoulders, moving further inside the room, but still with that guesstimate of several feet between them.

For a few reasons. His head tilts to the side, trying to meet her eyes without becoming distracted in studying such things like her hair, her mouth, all seemingly frozen in place— until she moves again, seamless actions. It's entrancing, although for most it might be more horrifying. And it stings to know he couldn't have it even if he wanted to.

Seems like some things can't be chalked up purely to the Hunger after all. "No, you don't," he corrects her, snapping out of his own reverie and looking down at the floor. "I went to go find someone I thought had lost her powers, to see how this could be fixed. That's all."

As far as she's concerned, no one could ever want this body she's trapped in. Gillian won't explain the hoops she had to jump to get all the way here. It really would have been easier for him to come to her— but she jumped through the hoops, after making sure that a certain other person would be okay until she could make it back. A day or two tops, right? And she left a note— written by someone else's hands and dictated by her, but a note, either way.

"Oh," she intones, resonating inside the metallic structure as she takes a single step close. "I thought that— I mean you didn't…" The rumbling trails off after a moment, almost as if the statue is getting shy as well. Eyes that don't actually see slide around out of expressional habit, and ringers toy at hair that moves slightly. No wind will be catching this hair, but she can move it easily enough. There's no sign that she's breathing at all, not even when she speaks. Maybe her lips don't even have to move, but they do.

"Did they know a way to fix it?"

Gillian takes a single step, and Gabriel, finally, opts to do the same, bare feet peeking out from the overhang of jean hems, enough so that fabric gets caught beneath the heel. He's not sure what they told her, to bring her here, why he's here, why he hasn't left. Maybe something politely minimal, and it wouldn't be the first time Gillian's gone to the ends of the earth on little information, in some form or another.

"Not exactly," Gabriel says, after some time figuring out how to answer that. "But I learned a few things. That she has a different power, after all, instead of nothing. So do I." Amber-brown gaze sweeps over Gillian's form, feet up to eyes, a raise of an eyebrow. "You too." Obviously. "Are you stuck that way?"

"Well I obviously have a different power," Gillian rumbles in the same distorted voice as she glances at her fingers. Silvery and metallic, it varies from rough to smooth looking. At least she's not rust covered, so it could be worse. Either way, she's a very intricate iron wrought statue. And she doesn't like it at all. "I haven't been able to feel— my own ability— since we got hit by that lightning." Obviously it had something to do with that, but she's not going to ponder too much. "I must have the same thing that the metal guy— the would-be President— has." Thanks to Phoenix notes. When she voted for the guy, she naturally glanced at the notes about him when looking at notes about Gabriel. What they had about him.

She hadn't been told too much, really. Where he was, that he had medical threatment, but she was sure he needed that anyone. There might not have needed to be any mention of a second attack at all. Not when she assumed injuries from the first were enough to need a healer.

"I— hope not. I mean, he wasn't stuck that way, right?" Not… originally. Maybe now he is, but… "I don't know how yet. I don't know how to turn it off. I was hoping you could help me, since… you helped me control my original one." Which… "What— what did you…?"

Yeah about that. Gabriel's eyebrows raise and he breaks into a smile, the kind he usually does when things are vaguely ironically upsetting, because God works in mysterious ways and sometimes you have to laugh. It's not pleasant.

"I don't know how much help I'll be," he tells her, honestly, hands spread as if to show the complete lack of tools he has to work with. Thirty odd powers disappeared into nothing, including an encounter had knocked him down a peg or six. Even egos like his can take damage. His arms go back around himself, glancing towards the door, then around the room, and back to her. Something occurring to him, brow drawing into a thoughtful furrow. "Come on."

He moves to lead the way out of the front room without another word, headed down the corridor towards his current room, the one he's barely left for the past few days. Past the clock on the wall, the bench, the other doors leading into god knows what, he doesn't know. The floor doesn't give beneath Gillian's feet, blessedly, although ominous creaks and groans make up a symphony as they move.

There's nothing there to show her, except perhaps a sense of privacy and security. The building is, as far as Gabriel knows, completely empty save for them. He doesn't offer an explanation as to the move, just turns to her, keeping less distance than before. Medical equipment has been long since cleaned out, blood spatters, all of that. Just a cot, a chair, and a single window. "I have what you can do," Gabriel admits. It's become increasingly normal to talk to a living statue over the past few minutes, even meeting hematite eyes. "What you could do. I don't know how to— keep it locked down." Audible frustration shimmers through his voice.

Creak, creak. Each time she can feel one, Gillian visibly winces a little, and odd sight to see, surely. Each step carries her further inside the building, and she doesn't stop until she reaches the room that he wanted to bring her to. What could be the gesture of a deep breath raises her shoulders as she turns to look at the room. Nothing is probably solid enough to hold her, so she stays standing. Luckily, she doesn't get tired. She hasn't slept for days. Part of why she figured she had become some kind of gargoyle, watching over a battered Petrelli.

"You can do what I can do…" she repeats in what must be intended to be a whisper. Maybe she'd not expected this at all. And he can't control it. It should be impossible, but… she shakes her head. The sound of metal hair hitting metal hair happens to be pretty unique, almost like windchimes. But not quite. Far more delicate. And skreaky.

"So it's always on?" That's always how it'd been with her— until him. There's a quiet pause before she asks, "If you have my ability— Do you feel it right now? The… flow of energy? I'm using an ability but I don't know if you're…" This ability she has now isn't hers. It's just an ability. He has hers. "If you can feel it, just… picture it as a string and concentrate on it— until you can tie it together. And keep it to yourself. It's easier if you're feeling the pull for a while." Living with him, for example.

A pause, before Gabriel is stepping forward. Five feet. Four feet. Stop. The pull of energy more noticeable when within a tighter range, Gabriel taking a shaky breath, looking at Gillian without really looking at her, as if trying to find the source of the pull. Mentally fumbling around in the dark for that shining thread, a hand drifting up to his brow to rub it as a scowl pulls at his mouth.

He's not used to this, the mystery of just not knowing. "It used to be easier," he mutters, rocking back a step, meeting her eyes again. "Before, when I could— just know. Understand it instantly, as soon as I saw it. Felt it." His hands go up in a defeated gesture, go back down again, lets out a huff of a sigh. "Silver lining being… if I touch you, maybe— the surge will allow you to figure it out. Change back, if you concentrate. I don't think I can do anymore damage to you, and it obviously takes effort to go back and forth if you're just like this."

It could work. It also could make her so heavy she falls through the floor. But maybe if she thinks about how she wants to be… "Right now, I'd risk anything just to feel something like I'm supposed to," Gillian rumbles in that same tone, but there's an expression in her face, something she doesn't need to make, but wants to express. She hates what she's going through, whether it makes her stronger or not. "I haven't actually slept since this started. I don't think I can. I can't… I don't feel tired. I don't feel hungry. I can't touch anything and actually…" She shakes her head, some of the emotion carrying in her tone of voice. Almost forced to be there. Her throat can't get tight, it has no muscles.

There's no tears or moisture in her shiny eyes, either. Because… "I can't even cry. Not that I cry often, but I think I would if… if I could." She had to go through this whole thing more or less… alone. She'd not been willing to open up to Teo about it, or random strangers off the street, and the people she could talk to…

"Let's try. Maybe if you can feel it— you can tie it off. I think I got it best when I was touching you too."

It's a shocking contrast, in a sense, between a woman who can't feel a thing and wants desperately to do so, and a man who's been broken over his own past weaknesses to the point of humiliation that he's almost envious, in a way that has nothing to do with desiring to see how things work. To be indestructible. To feel nothing.

He'd been like that, once, in a way. "You'd get used to it," Gabriel says, his own gaze steely as if to match her more literal stare of metal. "After a while. You'd probably grow to like it. It would change you on the inside and it wouldn't matter." And he knows now that nothing is forever, and what the price can taste like, and so he moves forward, hissing through his teeth a little at the magnetic pull of energy.

Time to give the Tinwoman a heart. Gabriel holds out his hands to her, palms clean of bruises and scrapes thanks to Abby's flood of healing, fingers slack. "I wish we could trade," he rather impulsively says with a rueful laugh, gaze directed somewhere over her head.

Two completely different people. Gillian would rather be able to feel and touch and breathe and eat than be able to withstand damage and punch through walls. There's so much she's incapable of doing that she wishes she could do. And his words, impulsively said as they might be, aren't taken as the joke they might be meant to be. "I wouldn't wish this on anyone," she rumbles softly, shaking her head. It might have been helpful for a few moments, when it first happened. It gave her an opportunity, for a change, to protect the people who had protected her in the past… But the side effects are ones she doesn't want to get used to.

"I wouldn't want this to change me. I didn't even notice you weren't behind me, until I was already most the way to the Ferryman shelter. Because I was too busy paying attention to every single step…" And she didn't know he was behind her anymore. She didn't hear him walk away. Not that she would have if he hadn't wanted her to, but she might have noticed earlier.

The offered hand is looked at, as much as she can be said to be looking at anything, and the small hand reaches forward. Same size as it'd always been. He still towers over her by a few inches. And while she reaches out, sticking her hand between his, she doesn't try to squeeze, or hold herself. There's no way she could feel if she was holding him too tightly.

It's only a joke insofar as it's impossible. Gabriel keeps any possible guilt he might have about abandoning her masked in his concentration on their hands. Not that it's concentration at all, his own ability sinking into her's and injecting it with something that can only be articulated as oomph. That dark purple glow radiates from his pale skin and her iron pallor, casting strange light that is mimicked from the irises of his eyes, banishing the brown in lieu of glowing indigo.

His mouth parts as energy is siphoned from him to her, breathing becoming shallow, not yet used to this unwilling drain of willpower. To Gillian, for the first instance, the ground promptly cracks underfoot, the vibrations with which she sees and hears intensifying into the other spectrum of sensation, maybe even circling all the way around until it hits 'feeling', again.

That was the worst case scenerio she'd been worried about, the cracking of the floor under her feet. They're not bare, but they might as well be. The shoe is worn down just from a single trip to get to this building. They'll need to be thrown out by the end of this. They're not made for this much weight. Gillian can't drag her feet or she'll walk right out of them, too. But everything heightens in awareness. It's almost like she can feel his fingers against her. That's what she chooses to focus on. That "feeling". And how it could be so much more. How his hand is supposed to feel. Rather than how it actually feels.

"It— it should feel like… like a tug. Like a… like there's something pulling from you into me. If there were more people, it would break off, split into strings— different flows that you can… Lock it down. Tie it up. That's yours and it needs to stay yours." She's trying to help him, to teach him what she learned from him, and at the same time, she focuses all of her attention on his hands. How they feel and how they are supposed to feel.

It takes everything not to try and squeeze her fingers closed. She needs to feel. She has to feel.

And that's when her fingertips start tingling. As if her hand had fallen asleep, blood trapped there. Needlepricks start to travel up her fingers, to her palm. He can feel it and see it, and she can feel it too. Just one hand… stretching upward and away, expanding. Prickling needles all the way as nerves turn back on.

He's never been schooled in ability before— no. Strike that. Tavisha had had plenty of lessons in how to use his power over water, how to translate that control into the control of other things. It hadn't felt so degrading at the time. But Gabriel listens, bright purple eyes meeting her dull grey ones as she gives her metallic-twang instructions, nodding once to show his understanding, even if he doesn't.

But he's starting to. That tug is certainly there, rope strength and pulling as if it might never run out, but already he can feel it starting to settle fatigue on him like a lead vest, eyes going down to where her hand is transforming. Trying not to wonder what would happen if it just stopped.

Lock it down. Gabriel's eyes shut as he pulls back, tries to wrap it around, tie it off, all those helpful visual metaphors that— at this range, with enough concentration, actually seem to work. In stops and starts, the shared glow begins to die.

The shared glow may begin to die, but the colorization of flesh from iron doesn't. Gillian can easily track it's progress by the growing sensetivity. The jaw that doesn't need to tighten yet, does, in response to the prickling pain. But part of her is so happy to feel anything that she doesn't groan or whine, or try to pull her hand back. In fact her fingers tighten around his. Once it reaches her shoulder, the process moves a lot more quickly, though not nearly as visible to him. As it slides over her chest and stomach, her lungs start thirsting for air. Her neck, her chin, her mouth and nose— reddish lips suck in the first breath of air in days, a ragged sound. Eyes blink as they regain their color, the eyelashes. The hair and her second hand are the last visible things to change over. Thin silver threads transforming back to black.

Newly feeling knees suddenly give out. She'd just learned how to walk, but now she feels too weak to stand. A few days on her feet hadn't felt exhausting— until this moment. The hand tightens around his, keeping one arm up, as she drops down in front of him, nearly against him, and closes her eyes. Head bows downward, hair falling into her face.

Those tears she claimed she'd want to cry? They're falling. Shoulders shake as she tries to breathe, but there's a familiar sound. One they've heard before. Nearly hysterical laughter that comes in gulps of oxygen. "It— it worked." Now all she has to do is hope he figured it out too, before she managed to change back.

Gabriel's arms close around her as she collapses into him, staying sturdy and happy to do so, despite internal distraction that ensures he doesn't immediately reply to her, blinking rapidly. It's a tenuous knot, and this close range with so much contact with an Evolved, psychic claws threaten to hook into it, unravel it, and it's a fight to keep it there.

But for all intents and purposes— "It worked," Gabriel echoes, with less elation than Gillian. Satisfaction, at most. He keeps her close to him, taking some visceral pleasure out of cradling her soft, warm body against his, a hand absently running fingers through the ends of her loose, far more breakable human hair that makes no sound at all, much less windchimes.

"How do you feel?"

"I can feel," Gillian rasps out, in much closer to her real voice, but rougher than normal, tighter. The prickling pain hasn't disappeared yet, still hanging on her skin as she leans against him, closing her eyes. Shoulders continue to shake, as she tries to laugh, but that ends sooner than she might want it to. A slow inhale makes her lean even more heavily against him, as if her whole weight might need to be supported. The whole last few days since it started, she couldn't lean on anyone, she couldn't touch anyone. No one could support her. In fact, the metallic girl had been so afraid to touch anyone because she might break them.

Now she just wants to lean against him, to feel his arms wrapped around her.

"Fuck— I've never felt so… hungry. Ever." It's an empty feeling in the pit of her stomach, though she'd felt it at all before. "Thirsty too…" And from the dull trailing sound to her voice, tired is soon to follow after. Sheer exhaustion. So much she hasn't done in the last few days coming back to bite her in the now fleshy ass.

"But I can feel…" she adds again, lifting her face up to smile at him, flushed cheeks and dimples and all, even if there's tears to add to the picture. "Thank you." Gratitude and relief. He might not feel the same thing, but satisfaction might be enough.

"It worked for you too?" she also asks for clarity, taking a break from her own little celebration to make sure it helped him at the same time.

Eyes glistening with salt and water, capillaries overflowing with warm blood and makes skin turn pink, tiny cracks in her lips that had all been smoothed over with a monochrome metal, stealing away the details of being human, and Gabriel is greeted with them all as she turns tips her head back to look at him. He brings a hand up, smoothing her hair back along her scalp in one stroking movement.

"It worked. It's working. I keep— " A smile breaks, of that same sardonic quality. "I keep having to think about it, as if it'll unravel any time I don't. You probably recall what it was like. Here— "

Keeping an arm hooked around her, supporting her, and not entirely unappreciative of the fact he gets to be the one helping her across the room when it was so often been him playing the damsel in distress in the last couple of days, Gabriel goes to lead her towards the cot to sit down. "There's food upstairs— not a lot, no one hardly comes here anymore but they had made sure I had something." They, those good Samaritans taking pity on him. "You can sit down, I'll get you something."

"It gets easier," Gillian mumbles softly, the same kind of advice he gave her to getting used to the new ability. He'll get used it to. To the point he doesn't even have to think about it. Soon it will feel like it's supposed to be tied off, rather than untied. Even then, occassionally, she left it loose, didn't bother to knot it up or keep it knotted. Most the times nothing happened. There were moments she regretted such decisions, though.

"Thank you— if I'd like some food." And hopefully she won't doze off while she waits for him. He helped her regain feeling where she should have feeling. He made it so she can see again. Colors fill her vision, even in the dull setting of a Ferryman house. There's not much color— but she sees every drop of it. No matter how dull. People often don't pay attention to the dullest of colors— like the exact amount of red in the wood.

Settling down into the chair, she leans forward and rests her arms on her knees, and just… breathes. How many people take breathing for granted?

Drowning men don't. For instance. And Gabriel is quick to leave the room when she's sat down, heading for the corridor, for space, like it too is the promising glistening divide between water and air. And he can feel it, which is the worst thing of all, the way it unravels like a snake uncoiling in the back of his mind, pausing now that they have walls between them to press a hand against his forehead and relax. To say he's unused to a power acting on its own accord would be a lie. Just unusual.

He should tell her. Tell her what happened to him. Not for any practical reason he can fathom, and the timing feels off, as off as the clock on the wall might or might not be, but he's not sure it's ever going to be on. Maybe one day. Maybe never.

A thick roast beef sandwich with plum relish, store-bought and still enclosed in a clear plastic case, a can of soda, a bottle of water. These items are gathered in his arms by the time he's returning, trying to strain his ears to hear as to whether she's already asleep or not.

Almost, but the sound of his footsteps against floor boards and the prospects of food accompanying him draws her eyes up. There's a drowsy look across her face as she glances up at him once again, but Gillian doesn't strugle to stay awake because… her stomach is rumbling. It almost makes her laugh as her body tries to remind her that it would like to have food. Where the last food she ate went, she doesn't really want to know. Absorbed into her organs when she transformed, maybe? Along with everything else.

"Thanks," she says, reaching sleepily for the food, and tearing into it without much care of what it is. It tastes. The tastes rip down her throat and through her nerves, coloring everything. The food starts to fill her in just a handful of bites. The bottled water gets chugged after a swallow or two. She has to stop herself, before she eats so fast she chokes, coughing a little after a bite she didn't chew quite enough.

"Think— think I was starting to get used to it— but fuck this is so much better…" Even if it tastes awful. There's so much that makes every bite worth it.

Even if there's so much she's not being told… They bot have things they've kept in. Many things. Will that time ever come when they can be truly open with one another?

Someone had to eat the one with plum relish, may as well be the starving woman where everything tastes good. Gabriel sits down at the edge of the cot, offers her a wan smile at her words and otherwise returns his attention to the ground save for occasional glances. He has questions. About the name Roger Goodman and the man named John, about what happened to them, about Peter Petrelli and his father and everyone else that has to pay for what's happened to him, but after she eats, drinks, sleeps.

God knows they probably have all the time in the world.

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