eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif raith_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Welcomes
Synopsis They come in varying degrees, with Raith's being the coldest.
Date March 10, 2010

Old Dispensary: Ground Floor

It takes a very special person to slave over a stove for hours and prepare a meal that will be consumed in a fraction of the time it took to put it together, and although Eileen certainly has the patience for such a task, it's in direct opposition with the pragmatic way of life she and the other members of the Remnant officially adopted when they moved into the Dispensary. Dinner tonight is a straightforward combination of small, oily fish split from head to tail, gutted and smoked in the kitchen's old cast iron stove with a side of buttered rye bread, hardboiled eggs and sliced tomatoes sprinkled with salt and pepper. For dessert: an offering of hot coffee, to be consumed straight, and a mint-chocolate cake with a sheer layer of hazelnut frosting contributed by Teodoro.

Stone floors and expansive sash windows fashioned from sheet glass dusted in frost are counterintuitive to keeping the building warm. Its gothic architecture, including its high lancet arches, dimly-lit corridors and narrow spiral staircase, only contribute to the austere atmosphere and give its interior an appearance reminiscent of an old castle rather than the hospital it once was. Understandably, its inhabitants have gathered around the ornate fireplace downstairs so they can consume their meal in their laps rather than at the great oak table in the designated dining area, though the food itself is laid out on a much smaller folding version to eliminate extra trips to the kitchen.

Dressed in leggings and a heavy wool sweater that dwarfs her bird-boned frame, Eileen sits in one of the armchairs closest to the fire, a cup of coffee cradled in her hands and a half-finished sliver of cake at her feet on the floor. Her swollen mouth and split lip courtesy of Feng Daiyu make eating uncomfortable but not impossible; if she didn't prefer to have something in her stomach when she takes her medication, she might have chosen to forgo the meal and retired early to her bedroom upstairs.

In a way, Raith is happier at this moment than he has been in a while. For the first time since Antarctica, the dispensary sort of feels 'normal' again, now that Eileen is back, temporary though that situation may be. How long has it been since all of them sat down to have dinner together? Far, far too long. And even though Eileen hasn't helped herself to much of the food (her recent injuries providing a more than adequate explanation), it's enough just to have her company while he and Teo enjoy themselves. Besides, this leaves more for the two men to enjoy, and that is not a bad thing in anyway.

Although he's given up his coat and body armor for the time being, he's still dressed for a winter climate in a heavy, long-sleeved shirt and pair of pants, dark in color as his wardrobe tends to be. His sidearm hasn't gone far yet, either, the Glock still secured in a shoulder holster due to recent bouts of paranoia: Never know when you need a Glock. What if the tag team of fish, eggs, bread and tomatoes he is so eagerly eating suddenly attacked him? He'd want to be ready for something like that. Or if Sylar (but not Gabriel, or whoever, this clone stuff is confusing) suddenly appeared. He'd want to be ready for something like that, too.

"You gonna tell us who fuckin' gave you that?" is what Teodoro wants to know, another forkful of scorch-fringed fish halfway to his mouth and little more but bones and a fleshy lump around the tail left on his plate. He eats fast. The sky is blue and rain falls wet, also. Granted, the recent crush of snow and the deliberate absence of blue skies has been wreaking ravenous mayhem on his general comfort, and his metabolism's retaliation has made most meals brief and violent affairs.

So here he is. In a setting and in company that would break his father's heart and worry the white back into his mother's face. His back in a deplorable slouch, the lean span of his shoulders wedged between his peaked knees, the heels of his dirt-chapped boots set on his chair's edge and dirt-blond beard gone stringy at the tips of the left side, around the hole in his cheek, where a stray fraction of an ounce of fish oil or tomato juice has clotted into it. Gargoyling the furniture with his unkempt squat, hastening toward dessert.

The bulge of his own shoulder holster is harder to see, blocked by the bar of his thigh, but the grip of his other bunches in the fabric of his pant leg. He lifts his eyes to meet Eileen's gaze, clarifies his meaning with a nudge of his fork handle against his own mouth. What he means. "Burlesque's bouncers seem to know their shit."

Across the dining table bare of people and plates, more slippery than even the silkiest of table cloths, the form of a Gabriel Gray converted into a higher frequency of energy rolls on over, pouring off the side like a jet of heavy ink dropped into water, gathering its tendrils together by the time it reaches the main room downstairs. Which is why the birds never spy it and why they never hear the sound of footsteps until it's Right Behind Them. The hang of his winter coat, from shoulders to the backs of his knees, settles as his feet find solid ground.

"Did I miss dinner?" is a— fair if obvious question, from the empty plates and the cups of coffee grasped in hands. Light from the hearth will give them all the detail they need as to who is speaking, if a distinctive voice doesn't tag recognition onto his appearance. Black on black, healthy and whole. More or less, anyway.

"I haven't been to work," Eileen says, and it's not difficult for either of the men in her company to see why. Burlesque does not cater to the kind of men who would openly take pleasure in the surgical sutures woven through her milk-pale skin or the ugly purple contusions that deface her body beneath her clothes. If she'd been about to elaborate — and considering how stubbornly proud she is when it comes to her accrued injuries, that isn't very likely — the explanation turns to ash in her mouth when Gabriel makes his appearance.

Gabriel, not Sylar. His complexion isn't wan enough to belong to his more feral counterpart, and the Dispensary's stale air still smells like burning birch bark and hot coals rather than the septic reek she associates with the doppelganger. When she turns in her seat, it's to show him her profile rather than her face, tension visible in the slender shape of her neck and its wiry tendons pulled taut. She doesn't have a gun. Might not go for it if she did.

When it's suddenly no longer only three around the fire, Raith finds himself in a quandary. On the one hand, he has no definite way of knowing who this is. Gabriel, or Sylar, or some other clone even. He should draw his pistol and prepare to defend his home. On the other hand, he would have to drop his plate, and that would just be a tragedy. He is left with only one option: Take a chance and hope for a good outcome. "Where have you been?" Raith demands of Gabri… Syla… Gabrylar? "Do you have any idea what time it is? We have been worried sick." This is, if nothing else, an easy way to determine whether this is the real Gabriel or not.

"You're grounded, buster."

In the meantime, Teodoro is going to let his face light up like a Christmas tree, if it's all the same to you guys. "Gabe!" he doesn't quite enthuse, wouldn't be the best word, but he could have turned the knob down on volume a few increments. His head, somewhat more ragged-edged than the last time he wore it to a conversation with the erstwhile serial-killer, snatches up and around to stare with big robin's-egg eyes that probably don't quite disguise the fact he'd nearly gone for his gun, too.

He picks up his fork, almost discreetly enough to leave a friend to think he hadn't set it down as sudden as an aneurysm. His thumb flattens briefly, anemically white against the machined edge of the steel. "There's fish and cake.

"In separate dishes," he adds, helpfully, not quite blithe in his tone despite that the diminutive he'd offered the older man probably came off that way. Teodoro drops his boots to the floorboards, one noisome thump after the other, gestures an invitation for Gabriel to come sit. He has always preferred sitting on a slightly lower vantage point, for some absurd reason. "And beer. I'll get you some. You talk to Tavisha?"

With the exception of Eileen showing him her profile as stiff and regal as Grecian artwork, the welcome is probably warmer than Gabriel anticipated or deserved, but it does have him drawing closer, now, arms folding as he looks from Raith to Teo, mouth tilting into a half-smile at the name Tavisha. As far as he knows, that's his name. Like Sylar is his name. But there's no point in correcting, because it's not even wrong. It's still allowed to be jarring. They weren't meant to have names.

"Thanks. And yes, I talked to him. He wanted me to get rid of his body." This— rather out of context explanation given, Gabriel makes a slow meander going the long way to the fireplace, attracted to its warmth as much as conversational distant. "Don't worry, dad, I could use a consistent place to stay. I wasn't sure how welcome I'd be, all things considered." His dark eyes flick to Eileen.

Eileen does not protest except to turn her head away, fold one leg under her body and place the opposite on the edge of the armchair's cushion, knee bent. The shadows created by the flames flickering in the hearth conceal the bruise under her eye and most of the damage inflicted upon her mouth, and if that fails there's always the small hand she's holding across her face the same way a songbird might shy away and tuck its head behind its wing. From Gabriel's angle, it looks like she's merely supporting her chin, cheekbone and jaw obscured by the delicate splay of featherlike fingers.

Teodoro and Raith may know better. His mention of a body definitely has her attention, green eyes growing sharp.

"Who said anything about being welcome?" Raith asks as a direct follow-up to Gabriel's statement, "I only acknowledged your presence. You think I was kidding about you being grounded?" Of course. When is Raith ever kidding about something like that? "You didn't forget about the dickish clone, did you? Did you forget him? The one that tried to kill us? You might be here, but you aren't welcome here until you clean that mess up, and come up with a really good explanation for why the hell you even thought that was a good idea to begin with. And it had better be a damn good explanation, or I swear, I will take my belt and beat your eyebrows right off your face."

At the kitchen counter, Teo is busy with a number of important homey tasks. One of which is, of course, discreetly wiping the sticky food runoff from the gnarled cut in his cheek off with damp fingers, disguised by the redundant rinse he gives the clean plate he's taking out for Gabriel. Fish goes onto it, the next moment, herbs and tomato slices the next, skewed set of silverware the next. Beer is extricated from the refrigerator. "Guess we could use a you-shaped corpse.

"If you're talking about what I think you're talking about. If you're not, I'm going to feel guilty and like I must have lost some important part of my fucking mind over the past year or so." The conclusions one draws, these days. Well, being appalled by that is preferable to the realization that that's the conclusion that Ghost would have drawn.

Teo comes back, the step of his boots moving dust and shadow across the uneven parallel of wood paneling. His strides fall almost even now. Turns out, you recuperate from sprains pretty fast when you aren't climbing the Empire State Building. A beat's pause. Teo hands over drink and meal, angles a sidelong glance at daddy one cranky in his creaky old chair. "I think the American slang is— Cliff Notes?"

Of course, back in Columbia University, he'd never resorted to such tawdry tools.

These days, Teo is not altogether sure that Raith should be taking such a tone. Just in case — you know, Gabriel doesn't lose any damn thing when he shoots out new clones. There's a homicidal serial-killer in everybody. Gabriel's sometimes wields lasers, you know.

Food is accepted, and welcome or not, Gabriel is going to sit down and he is going to eat. Fire light licks off scuffed boots and the heap his coat becomes when he sheds it by— basically desiring it to be shed, falling off him with barely a thought and kicked back and off to the side. Long legs fold, balances his plate on his thighs. "I didn't forget," he tells Raith, finally, once he's settled and taken a sip of beer. "He also wasn't meant to turn out that way. If I had done it while I was healthy, they'd be perfect. They would have done their jobs. But they became individuals, started— doing what they wanted to do."

You know how that happens. You raise a kid, they hit puberty, what happens happens— is kind of his tone of voice, if put on deliberately. Gabriel, no matter what he's calling himself, and defensiveness don't mix well. He takes a bite of fish. "I was too weak to come back, and I wasn't ready to let go. I wanted to keep that option open, so they disguised themselves.

"I don't know if a me-shaped corpse will do us any good with the other one still out there," Gabriel adds, with a shrug and a lifted eyebrow, but his eyes are on Raith as if daring him to try the belt thing.

"Whether or not he's welcome here isn't your decision," Eileen reminds Raith, curving the edge of her thumb along her mug's rim and choosing to focus on the contrast between the porcelain and the deep red colour of her lacquered nail instead of the man now sitting across from her. The hand at her face moves again, this time to support some of the mug's weight so the burden isn't entirely on its partner; although its contents aren't very heavy, a spill would not only ruin her leggings or the soft cashmere weave of her sweater but the chair's upholstery as well. The soap they have in the bathroom upstairs won't get coffee stains out. Neither will the bleach under the kitchen sink unless Eileen wants to wash the colour from the fabric too.

As Gabriel is chewing his fish, which tastes of sea salt and sherry beneath the stronger flavour of the herring itself, she's resting her lips against the rim of the mug and chancing a sip of her coffee, no sugar. There is a copper pot with a wooden handle in the kitchen that she uses to make it — like everything else, it will need to be washed out with boiling water in the sink before the evening is over.

When she lowers the mug again, it's to let out a slow breath. "This is his home as much as it is yours," she says.

"And he'll be welcome in it just as soon as he cleans up the mess he made," Raith retorts with an air of finality. He doesn't say anything else about the issue, instead occupying himself with finishing the rest of his dinner. Maybe he's just gotten used to definitely being in charge, rather than being in charge only because the resident living weapon hadn't decided it was worth the effort to kill him. Maybe he doesn't like the idea of not knowing which Gabriel he can trust. Maybe he's just a dick.

Teo's damaged and lopsided mouth gaps open slightly: he is about to say something cheerfully unkind about this home they've made for themselves, but his voice never makes it to open air. He shuts his trap, inhales with a canine whuff of air the next moment.

Instead, the Sicilian occupies himself with stilting around coltishly to get the cake, and then sitting as close to the hearth as the floor gets without running a mathematically viable risk of catching his over-long hair on fire. Winds up huddled there, too big to look like an urchin, too glowering defensive against the cold to serve as a gargoyled thug of any kind of intimidating, and too scruffily young to cut it as a cantankerous old man.

Too curious, also. "I'll help mess-clean," he offers. "I have some time between the plague and the Ferry shit, and the Venn margins at which they overlap.

"We need to worry about fallout hitting Eileen's civvie life?" 'Government choke chain,' he could have said. 'Kershner's magnifying glass burning us up like ants on the fucking concrete.' They probably know what he means. Eileen's here, at Remnant central with stitches healing on her skin, when she's supposed to be— over there, making honest money between stripping and studies.

If someone can communicate the desire to promptly toss fish and beer into the fire and go where they are welcomed by— not doing anything, then Gabriel achieves it to a degree whether Raith is watching him or not. A scrape of his fork against porcelain and a guarded, sharkish stare aimed at the older man, and summarily distracted by Teo's offer of help. An exaggerated bite of fish later, he sets aside his dinner and rests his arms upon his knees. Teo's meta unspoken thoughts aside—

"Kershner's aware of the situation. She can probably cover for as long as it's needed. It's just a matter of how long it takes to kill one of me." Not that the whole world hasn't been trying for the past few years, or anything.

Eileen slants a look down at Teodoro on the floor, the firelight gold in his tousled blond hair. Between Sylar, Daiyu and Kozlow, any hopes she might've had for a civvie life are presently on hold, and if she has any complaints about the situation she's found herself in then they aren't significant enough to voice; there are much worse places she could be than living under the protection of loved ones with food in her belly, a roof over her head and a soft, warm bed of her own.

What she does take issue with is Raith's point of view and the position of authority he perceives himself to be in. If Ethan was here, this is an argument that would only continue to escalate, eventually culminating in broken dishware, bruised knuckles and bloodied noses. He isn't, of course, and while Eileen might have inherited some of her father's temper, her overall disposition is a lot less volatile.

That is to say: she does not respond to Raith's churlishness by hurling her coffee in his face. "Jensen," she says instead, and her voice is very quiet. "Don't do this. Please."

"What? What am I doing that is unreasonable?" Raith asks, practically demanding an answer as he pushes himself up from his seat to stand tall. "Is it too much to ask why he didn't just send us an e-mail, or a letter, so maybe we would have had some warning and been better prepared when shit started happening? Maybe we wouldn't have been quite as off-guard when Sylar put on Epstein's face and spent the better part of two months terrorizing you just because he could. Maybe we wouldn't have had someone try to read his mind, or maybe you wouldn't have had to shoot him in self-defense."

Thoroughly agitated now, Raith begins stalking away from the fire, away from where it's warm, towards colder parts of the kitchen and dining area. "Maybe if we'd known it wasn't Epstein keeping tabs on you, we'd be in a better position to deal with Vanguard's sloppy seconds. Maybe a certain bartender wouldn't be dead. Maybe, just maybe, Daiyu would've been in no position to bust up your face while you were waiting for me tonight. And maybe, just maybe, I'd have a little bit more confidence about the status of a certain government agent who is not Sarisa Kershner." That's that. Raith drops his plate of food unceremoniously on the table- the table he was so particular that Tavisha not scratch- as he walks past it and to the window, saying nothing else. A new kind of upset do we see from Jensen Raith. Clearly, he's seen better days.

Teo's fork claws parallel rifts into hazelnut cream, loosens crumbs loose. Mommy and daddy are fighting, and their mangled adopted child is eating scraps on the floor while he bemoans the challenge presented by killing an approximate copy of his big brother. Remnant is one happy family.

"The guy just rose from the fucking dead, Raith," he says, finally. "And none of us are exactly brightly-shining fucking models of regular social courtesies and responsibilities. Spilled fucking milk. He came back to us, and I don't feel like one or two more tokens of intel would have tipped the balance more than half a fucking degree. I'd bet money, Sylar's Epstein would've fought Feng off sooner than bake some fucking waffles. And I'll bet Tavisha meant it when he said none of them have killed anybody yet.

"Sorry about your friend." It's added after a staggered beat, a beat's discomfort, genuine regret putting pale stare into dark cake because, he thinks, it would take more energy than he's got to hold his stare up against the forbidding silhouette of Raith's turned back. "We should find him too. Eileen and I were going to talk to Molly Parkman, anyway.

"That still on?" He segues into questions. Practical chatter, thing at a time, make lists and incorporate doing words. Teo lifts his gaze to Eileen. "If not for anti-Sylar measures, anymore? Now a whole other can of fuckin' worms."

Tin crinkles under Gabriel's fingers as he concentrates more on his beer than the argument, the undercurrent of plans, things that feel more or less like loose threads to someone who only arrived in New York less than a week ago. His legs shift, heels brace against the floor as if he's thinking about standing up, whether to follow Raith or walk right out the door (or through a wall) or go for second helpings, the world will never know. "Epstein's alive," he says, blandly. "Or he was a few days ago, when we came back. Maybe he's not anymore, I guess."

Now he flows to his feet, pacing a little away from the heat of the hearth, but not completely out of its light or even its range of warmth. "So what am I? Grounded, or welcome? I don't think I get to be both and as far as I can see it, I don't need any of you." He's talking more to Raith's back than the other two, voice needling.

"But I'd probably get things done faster. Until then, I'm thinking it's more you needing me."

On a sliding scale of forgiveness, Raith is at one end and Teodoro at the other. Eileen, lost somewhere in between, has both her small hands closed around the mug in her lap. At some point during the last exchange, she shut her eyes and has yet to open them again. Her breathing is slow and measured, but to say that it's relaxed would be an erroneous conclusion to draw — it isn't spilled fucking milk to her, and by the time the Sicilian has finished speaking, her mouth has contorted into a shape that would look more appropriate on his malformed face than her much less misshapen one, swollen though it is.

She is utterly silent. It isn't until Gabriel has made his declaration to Raith's back that she's finally rising from the armchair, her movements slow and precise out of necessity rather than any desire she might have to linger in the room and hear Raith's judgment passed down. When her lips move around the words "excuse me," they're meant for Teodoro and Teodoro alone. We'll finish this conversation later.

Gabriel's plate is taken up, her own mug stacked atop it, and a moment later she's disappearing around the corner that leads into the kitchen.

Where Raith stands with Gabriel, exactly, may not be as clear as some think. This is the sort of decision that he could wrestle with for days before reaching a conclusion, and he does not have days. The whole situation is far from even close to ideal: It stinks like rotting meat. As far as socialization is concerned, Raith seems to be done for the night. No more calls. "I kept your room the way you left it," he says, "I straightened it a little, but everything else is like you left it." That might be as close to 'Welcome home, son,' as Gabriel can hope to get. Close enough, maybe.

Teodoro, on the other hand, did not touch any of the former serial-killer's things, and nor had Gabriel's absence, or the circumstances upon which they had parted eat at his soul with the pestilence of lover's regret. Forgiveness is a luxury he can afford. Has always been able to afford. Baby-him, because— he resented himself disproportionately to the rest of the world. The old killer because he only really minded a very few things.

And he could shoot a girl in the head without hating her for the reason she did it. Two kinds of heartless.

Maybe this-Teo is both. Maybe he is neither. When Teo looks up at the girl, a reserved sort of concern sharpens his pupils in the surreal pallor of his irises. He lifts his chin, a miniature nod of acknowledgment. He does not know if news that Epstein's still alive is what has improved Raith's temper, but he hopes so. That would be logical, and human.

And undickish. He quirks a smile. Very small, the crooked rift through his left cheek notwithstanding. He glances away from Raith at the more prodigal son, a brief moment, then looks down at his own plate. Not to be contrary or anything, but he thinks maybe it is relevant for Gabriel to know: "I don't. But welcome home."

"Thanks." This, spoken to the room generally, forever thin sounding out of Gabriel's mouth and a little tense at the edges, clipped and terse. Foot steps follow soon after, rounding back to pick up his coat and sling it up onto a shoulder, and rather than the door or the wall, he heads for the shadowed gap of the stairwell not quite as soundless as he entered, but just as without fanfare. He's off to go check out his room, simply stated, no heated glares or smiles or anything that doesn't qualify as neutral.

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