To Give And Receive


eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif margaret_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title To Give And Receive
Synopsis The Remnant converge when a stranger's body and an enemy's mind shows up at the Old Dispensary.
Date August 15, 2010

Old Dispensary

Creature comforts are at the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which is fortunate for Eileen because the Remnant's unique lifestyle doesn't allow her to ascend past the second tier very often. It's been difficult for her to meet her body's physiological demands while dividing her time between the Dispensary and the nature center in the heart of the Greenbelt — the last few days have taken a hard toll on her health, but a combination of cheap cigarettes and painkillers courtesy of Constantine Filatov are keeping her on her feet, albeit at an hour when she should be on her back or her side, chin tucked into her collar and dark hair spread across a pillow.

The kitchen floor feels cold against her bare feet and contrasts with the heat washing off the copper kettle on the stove. There are worse habits than taking her tea a few minutes after midnight with a side of pickled egg. She'd prefer the herring, probably, but the splint on her right hand is cumbersome and the seal on the other jar had already been broken.

While she waits for her tea to steep, she pulls from her cigarette and is rewarded with the soft sound of crackling paper but is blind to the orange glow that accompanies it.

Although Eileen is enjoying herself in the kitchen, she is far from alone in the dispensary, even if that fact has yet to be made known to her. Downstairs in the basement, the beam of a flashlight dances over the racks of firearms and boxes of ammunition and explosives that comprise the Remnant's armory, and just behind it, Raith dances too, although less like a dancer and more like a thief. Eileen is in the kitchen, and there is enough noise going on in there, it sounds like, to cover up the fact that he snuck in without telling her to pick up a few supplies. A few pistols, some submachine guns, a small assortment of grenades and extra ammunition all quietly stuffed into an ALICE pack. Other supplies, like bottles of water and packets of instant coffee, will have to wait until the littlest Remnant has vacated the kitchen. And knowing Eileen's late night habits, Raith could be hiding in the basement for a little while. His only hope is that Gabriel is either somewhere else, or is sound asleep. He'll have a tough time explaining just what it is that he's doing to anyone that happens to find it a little odd that the door leading downstairs isn't shut quite all the way.

The birds hadn't noticed her, which is—

—unusual, if not nearly impossible, especially given the chill-choked witching hour of the evening. It says something more about anybody who shows up at the old dispensary, even if the fact they're here at all already says volumes. Movement breathes through the door, an infinitessimal squeak of hinges and floorboard nails that betrays the arrival of something either as light as a rat or cautious as one worthy of the metaphor. "Shit, Eileen," in a register a little deeper than hers, maybe just older. "Jensen has a lot of toys down there. Does he only share the cheap stuff with us?

"He has a really full bag, down there." Not a voice she recognizes. Nor a scent, when the faint trace of perfume betrays the other woman is standing within polite conversational distance. To her right, keeping the door, still.

Eileen's nightgown and wool coat ensemble is standard for nighttime excursions around the Dispensary regardless of the season except on the warmest nights of the summer and other rare occasions when she loses the coat and floats around in the gown's gauzy material instead. Tonight isn't one of those nights. Her hip bumps against the stove and rattles the kettle on the coils, a hand clutching a fistful of dense fabric at her breast as she steadies herself with the other.

Although the Dispensary is dark and many of the downstairs windows boarded up to provide the illusion of desertion, the tip of her cigarette may as well be a flashing neon sign advertising her location to the stranger — not that 'she' needs it.

The first thing she does is test for the empathic connection that she shares with Gabriel, and when nothing immediately comes shimmering back at her, she closes fingers around the kettle's handle, arm bent, and experiences the sensation of her knuckles going white.

It's not a very effective weapon. The scalding liquid inside it may be. "Leave," she warns the voice, just once. "You can't have it."

The plan had been to wait for Eileen to toddle up the stairs to bed, and then infiltrate the kitchen's perimeter and raid the supply dumps. The plan was not to start hearing noises that sound vaguely like speaking, possibly confirming Raith's current worst fear: Gabriel has come into the kitchen with her, making the ex-spy's escape more complicated. But it doesn't sound like Gabriel? Weird.

Still in the basement, Raith cautiously slinks up the stairs, stopping a few steps from the door to listen. Even if he can't make out what's being said, at least it will tell him if Gabriel is there, or if Eileen has another visitor like Colette or someone with a softer voice than the Man with Giant Eyebrows.

Or alert him that Eileen is presently in the kitchen with a steaming kettle and variety of pointy and slicey things having a psychotic break.

The ghost's eyebrows are rather thin, in this incarnation. Whether due to genetics or design, she has no way of knowing, but she'd put her money on the former, and is attached enough to what remains of them to think that having boiling tea-water thrown in her face would be an unkind punctuation to an evening already fraught with the annoyances of being a small woman traveling alone in Staten Island, even if she does happen to be armed.

She's wearing a kind-of-nice suit jacket, and something about her face and carriage made its combination with a T-shirt and jeans look other than that she'd mugged and stripped someone of it. Despite that, you know. That's practically what she'd done. "It's me," she says. To the chase, then. "Teo. Ghost, more specifically. The Institute snapped the other boy in half, and I hijacked one of their agents on my way out because— well I didn't think it'd be fun to sit and wait to see what they wanted to ask me about 2019 and the long and sordid up-until.

"Sorry about the theatrics. Bad habit, rough couple days. I keep thinking I'm being followed: it's like being twenty-nine in Palestine again. Can I get your tea for you?" The words trickle down to Raith in the stairs. Not Colette, that contralto. And a tone like butter wouldn't melt in her fucking mouth, despite the stolid shape and choice of her words, the factually-delivered apology. If it's a psychotic break, it's one that Jensen is enjoying the privilege of sharing.

Eileen's life would be a lot less complicated if the men in it would stop cleaving themselves apart. Just as Sylar is an intrinsic part of Gabriel, Ghost is one half of the Teodoro she's come to know over the course of the past year, but this doesn't necessarily mean that she's comfortable being alone in a room with either of them. One of them wants to kill her. The other already has.

If her grip on the kettle could get any tighter, it would. Glassy eyes lit silver-gray by the absence of proper light appear to study the stranger from where she's standing by the stove behind a thin veil of smoke, but the apparition knows better: it's instinct rather than reason that has her straining to see.

"Why are you here?" That's a no. About the tea.

Raith's total experience with 'Ghost' is entirely third-hand. Just things he's heard from other people, but he still isn't off edge anymore than he was when he thought Eileen might be going insane. Quietly, he sets his ALICE pack does and slowly unsheathes his KA-BAR while pushing lightly on the door with his other hand; the tiny bit of vegetable oil he's always applied to the hinges once a month keeping squeaks and creaks away. The only problem with this plan is that it's not some burglar that snuck in the dispensary. If what he's heard is right, he's dealing with what Teo might have been is he'd been raised by Raith in a combat zone. And that means that the quiet, careful steps he takes as he stalks towards the voices, one foot in front of the other, gently as possible, are all that is keeping him from being noticed by the superassassin in the kitchen. He just has to count of Eileen keeping him distracted until… until something. Raith never got past the basement door while he was making his plan.

"To give and receive help." Bizarrely, it takes Ghost a moment to realize that she remembers; that the hybrid had been stupid enough to tell, and the twist in her gut makes her stiff, cooler. "The Teodoro Laudani that the Ferry team found from the hospital is the analogue circa '09.

"What I want is my body, some intel, and this other analogue of me you used to know, because I think he's probably being held in the same place. In exchange, I figure item number three is salient to your interests. And this girl's Institute because of a lot of righteous fury and a little ignorance, which makes her a resource you could exploit if you ewre careful.

"We…" There's a lapsing pause. Her eyes are trained on the teakettle, and the weight of her stare sits on Eileen's skin as tangibly as the mass of a chill blue snowdrift, but it lightens, slightly, almost imperceptibly, as astral projection reanchors itself briefly in the consciousness and eyes of another. Her shoulders lock up in a bony rectangle underneath the rumpled shape of her jacket. She'd like to go for her gun, but Eileen would hear that, then somebody would flip a table or throw scalding water and— "Raith.

"Will you fucking lighten up?" There's a half-step backward, a concession that she hates to make.

The last time Ghost wanted his body, Gabriel lost his trying to return it to its rightful owner. The tension in Eileen's hands is more visible than what's coiling in her neck and shoulders, hidden behind the collar of her coat, but it manifests in the set of her jaw and small mouth too, her pale face gone chiseled and cold like polished marble.

This is not a conversation she wants to be having without her colleagues. Her seat on the council allows her to speak for the Ferry, but the Remnant is an entirely different animal, and she isn't prepared to commit Gabriel or Raith to anything. The latter's name is met with a slow release of breath through her nose, though it's unclear whether this is because she's relieved to discover that she and Ghost are no longer alone or if there's some other reason for its cause.

Frustration, maybe. There were not one, but two people sneaking around the Dispensary and she failed to noticed either of them until they were right on top of her.

All at once, Raith's silent, measured footpadding transforms into ordinary walking, the leather soles of his boots tap-tapping a steady rhythm on the floor. "You could have called ahead, you know," he says, stopping just inside the doorway and moving no closer to Ghost (now with tits) than that. He doesn't sheathe his knife, either, and if things turn sour, both of them surely know that the outcome with depend on whether or not Ghost can sling his…her… hir gun faster than Raith can sling his knife. Exciting. "It would have been nice. We could have baked a cake for you. Maybe some tiny cookies, too."

Make that THREE people sne— okay that cue is missed, in literary terms, but it seems about the right time in the world of New York City, what if the bomb did happen-ville, for Gabriel to make his appearance instead of quiet eavesdropping in the ways he knows how. In other news, he's lost Peter's ability, lost Odessa's power, skittering out of reach upon hitting its goddamn arbitrary expiration date, and so it's not with the stop starts of recognisable teleportation that Gabriel appears, also foregoing high energy smoke form, phasing, tricks. Or even like. Walking.

I knew I shouldn't have given this to you, is a snakily pissed off kind of voice echoing in the privacy of Margaret's skull. Goddamn.

"If that's commentary about my height, I think I still have an inch on Eileen," is the ghost's retort. She is still unsettled, but doesn't let it on all that much. Poker-face. You know, while they're concerned about slinging weapons, and they very much are. "I thought you were a fan of skulking," she adds, kind of a retort. It turns out, Teodoro Laudani was prettier as a boy than this one is as a girl, even without the big scarred gulf ripped through the side of her face.

Speaking of her face, there is a traitorous twitch when she hears something that the other two in the room can't. When she speaks again, her voice is ineffably dry. "Gabe's here," she says. "Using my ability. He doesn't sound hurt or anything." Well, the draconic hiss rattles back, the rumble-piercing dual-tone that Gabriel had once conversed with once upon another brain-hostage situation, thanks anyway. "I need to know whether or not we can make this work.

"I know this is kind of short-notice, but I do need an answer now. I'd call the terms laid out so far fair, but I guess this," a vague gesture of her small hand in the air, "is the sound of a lot of people questioning my assessment of reality. I'll look elsewhere if I have to."

Eileen's tea has finished steeping. She angles her body away from Ghost, and by association Raith and most likely Gabriel as well, and lifts the kettle off the stove. "I'd prefer it if you were a little more explicit," she says. The Dispensary's acoustics ensure that she does not have to speak very loudly in order to be heard by any of the three, but the fact that it has no other sounds to compete with helps. The kettle's spout clinks against the cup on the kitchen counter, but to be sure that she doesn't spill it, she curls the fingers of her free hand around it, smoke still streaming velvet smooth from the end of her cigarette.

With both Gabriel and Raith present, she can afford to show the other woman in the room her back. "Your body is dead, if we're being entirely fair. What's wrong with the one you have now?"

With Gabriel present, well, then Raith feels he can afford to step into the room proper, even if he doesn't approach any closer to Ghost. "And if there is something wrong with it, why not just go out into the world and find one more to your liking?"

Because you're not supposed to be able to move around and take over like this, Gabriel supplies, which would be more helpful out loud and to the rest of the class, but he'll get to that soon enough if Ghost does not. If there are degrees in which his presence can be measured, he is a passing cloud of psychic tangibility, as if fearing getting hooks set in him, getting dragged down and trapped. Ready to fuck off before that can happen, armed now not with Kazimir's parasitic nature, but Ghost's.

He prods, though, a mental poke. Which begs the question, how does this work. He was always curious about that shit.

Ghost frowns at the Englishwoman. Sure, she's blind and all, but that doesn't make her question still ludicrous. "I liked my old one," she answers. "Delphine was augmented. I got mine back. Two bodies. I think they used an Evolved mentalist to copy the hyb— the one you've become acquainted with over the past few months, into a third. There's enough physical space to accomodate everybody. Promise."

It is entirely weird, she thinks, that she feels a little hurt by all this. Sure, she's always had the ego, but some element in this equation had been unanticipated. Maybe it's just the shock.

Stop that, the lizard peals, consonants caged in subwoofer grinding. There's no feel of hooks, and there are any thousand reasons that Gabriel could consider why that would be. Jesus fuck, man. Didn't I just say this girl's Institute? What the fuck are you trying to accomplish?

It's a day for fractionally tardy cues. Somewhere in the sticky, cold cobwebs that Gabriel is inhabiting, and plucking at like a particularly talentless harpist, there comes a pitchy squeak of dismay, a third voice scratching at the psychic exchange. Excuse me, what… oh my God, where..? I… shit…

"Win-win situation," Ghost finishes, but she can't help but look ever so slightly distracted.

That the Ghost helped them infiltrate Pinehearst is a point in its favour. Whether or not it can be trusted or is even telling the truth is now what's up for debate, and although Eileen isn't a particularly trusting person, she finds herself in a position similar to the one she was in this time last year. Roughly. They're a little past the anniversary of her death and subsequent rebirth in the facility's basement, but this is a small detail that she isn't dwelling on today.

She places the kettle back on the stove, raises the cigarette back to her lips and purses them around the filter, dangling it from the corner of her mouth as she approximates one teaspoon of honey and then measures it into her cup. The spoon itself tinkles against its porcelain sides.

"I suppose I ought to ask you what you intend to do if everything goes smoothly," she says, "and who else you've already made aware of the situation."

If nothing else. Eileen seems to have the situation in hand, and perhaps for only the second or third time ever, Raith is left to wonder who is really commanding the Remnant. But he will ponder it later. For now, he is present to provide muscle, should it be needed.

I'm just checking out your digs. Calm the fuck down before I find the eject button. Gabriel's head-voice is silken but only superficially, the way snake scales look, until you actually touch.

Psychic pissing contests. Just like old times. There is a certain amount of recoil in that Gabriel-sounding psychic presence, now, for the mewling voice heard up from some metaphorical basement, different to the capslocks of babyLaudani when he was trapped, surprised almost to hear this one. It is not shocking, that he holds no sympathy for her, for all that he'd nearly killed himself rescuing the last person Ghost had locked away. This wasn't what I had in mind.

Just for the record. And maybe Ghost will feel it, Gabriel's departure, out through the forehead like the baby Greek god springing out of Zeus'. He lands in Eileen's head like a fallen cobweb. He doesn't say words, but leaves a faint sort of impression like a hand at her back, in metaphor-astral language, to show he's here.

"Hana, a little." Ghost twitches her dark-haired head a few degrees to the right, like she is trying to shake an offending trickle of fluid out of her ear and too much with the cat-like conceit to concede to slap her head. Ugh. Gabriel feels like a Yeerk, she— he thinks, dismissively, failing entirely (largely) to parse the hypocrisy that comes with the anxiety rolling secondhand through the other corner of her mind. "John Logan, except he thinks I was never gone at all.

"It's a ruse I'd like to keep up. If it's all the same to you two." It should be. Her dark eyes narrow slightly, widen again with a faint spasm of the slight muscles in her face. She looks at Raith because looking at Eileen feels like it's pinning her like a butterfly with some unique disadvantage. "I don't know what I plan to do. I get the sense I'm not as welcome to stay as I was before Pinehearst." He's referring to a conversation that he can't remember— can't focus enough to remember how to quote it more accurately, but he thinks she told him once. That he could stay.

Raith doesn't remember. His relative impartiality is something the ghost is trying to gauge the influence of, studying his weathered face.

It's a different kind of intimacy than what Eileen is used to, but it isn't unwelcome and neither is he. The first thing Gabriel will become aware of is her awareness of him, the psychic equivalent of the muscles in her back responding to the gentle pressure applied by his hand. I'd rather we work with him than see him seek help elsewhere, she says, a whispery soprano, her voice with a texture like dense morning fog, silver and cool. It's no guarantee, but some control over the situation is better than none, and we'll know if he's lying.

She lays the spoon down on the counter, smoke leaking through her nostrils, and steals the cigarette from her mouth. "We're one man short," she informs Ghost. "I won't make any final decisions until I've had the opportunity to speak with the Teodoro that's been working with us for the last year. As far as getting him back goes, you have my support."

It's apparent that Raith has reached some level of comfort with the situation when he guides the blade of his knife back into its sheath, even if he maintains a firm grip on the handle just in case he still needs to throw it. Concerning Ghost, it's just short of a Mexican standoff. About the only good news coming out of this is that nothing is on fire and nobody is dead. That's still not bad, all things considered, and what better way to confirm this than to simply check. "We green?"

Taking root here, Gabriel contents himself in the black cavern that is psychic-hitch-hiking in Eileen's blind little head. He waits until he hears Raith's vocal contribution before responding, and when he does, it's that same slithery, murky voice that Ghost was subjected to, unchanged in sound but probably a little less acid. I agree. I was just taking a look. No worries. A beat, then, warily curious, You mad? He once told her, that it's a little easier to talk this way. It seems to be a theory that's keeping hold.

The three grown men in the room consider Eileen for a moment before the ghost obliges to say what they all read out of her words: "Yeah. For now." No gunslinging, no knife-slinging, nothing but Gabriel moving faster than a walking pace through the room, and Gabriel trends toward ignoring the current modes, anyway. Fuck Gabriel. Dick.

Ghost doesn't know whether he's smothering the girl with her metaphorical pillow, or merely plumping it up under her head. Hush, li'l baby.

"Great," she says, sparing all of them artificial brightness. "Thank you. Just one thing before I'm out of your hair too conspire amongst yourselves. Sarisa Kershner's running around playing pattycake— gloves off— with criminals. I think Evolved ones, mostly. She even tried Logan, God knows what that's worth outside his psychometric Rollodex.

"You all fit the bill. Close enough," she adds, after a moment, studying Mr. six thousand dollars' worth of equipment in my brown paper lunchbag, there, in the one non-Evolved corner of the room, before her eyes shift back to the blind woman's. "Any idea what that's about?"

Not with you, Eileen answers Gabriel, a thread of sincerity woven through her words and glittering, more like spidersilk kissed with dew than a string made of artificial diamonds. Natural, earnest. I used to be, she adds, while they're being completely honest. You were worth more than staying that way. So is he. And by he, she undoubtedly means their Teodoro. Not the creature standing in front of them who's presently masquerading as someone else entirely.

"Gabriel has a better idea of Kershner's goals than either Jensen or I," she says aloud. "I don't particularly trust her, and I'd suggest that you and Logan do the same if you value your skins. She'll drape herselves in them."

"It's what she does. It's all she does." It's not really necessary at this point. Finally, at least, Raith releases his grip from his knife and makes no move to draw a pistol. Ghost is free to go do whatever it is that ghosts do. Rattle chains, maybe.

Well, he agreed that keeping Ghost on their side is a good idea. Actually actively assisting him isn't what he had in mind! The parasite in Eileen's head is unhelpfully silent, neither feeding her words to spout nor leaping to the other chick-body in the room to tattle into her ear. Besides, Raith's the one with valid past, not Gabriel.

If the hybrid's still alive, maybe he shouldn't be. The ghost sort of liked having a marginal claim over the guilty pleasure niche in Teo's fanbase, even if his ego isn't a dynamic enough force to be intensely affected either way. The fanbase has gone away. She studies the Remnant operatives for a long moment, then acquiesces with a tiny, V-shaped smile and a shrug. "Okay.

"Thanks for the advice, Eileen. I'm gonna head out, now. See you guys soon, eh? Keep in touch." She tosses off a little wave at Raith, since he happens to be the only one who would appreciate the gesture at the moment, which would probably also be true even if Eileen's eyeballs were functioning properly. Her footfalls scratch, the sound of crisp trainers on age-chapped linoleum. "I'll text you my new phone number soon as I get it."

"Au revoir," isn't a farewell as much as it is a subtle reminder for Ghost to make a certain French someone aware of the situation if he or the other Teo hasn't already. Eileen will likely attempt to do this herself come morning — or would, except her entire world is going to crash down on her head in a few hours, unbeknowst to anyone in the room. For now, she settles on tracking the sound of the apparation's retreating footsteps until she can no longer hear it, lips resting against the rim of her cup.

Raith watches as Ghost leaves, and when the coast is as clear as it gets, he glances over to Eileen and says, very plainly, "I'll be back." And then, the sound of his boots on the floor again, retreating from the kitchen and, ultimately, stopping with a brief clunk in the stairwell to retrieve his pack before he, like Ghost, makes his exit, even if his is towards the garage rather than just the front door. He does not specify, in any way, when he might be back.

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