What Happens In Gillian's Head


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Scene Title What Happens In Gillian's Head
Synopsis Mona and Gillian meet for their first mental training session. Augmentation and telepathy makes for a lot of private information coming out. But hopefully Gillian's head is like Vegas.
Date August 28, 2009

Village Renaissance: 4th Floor Safehouse

The floors here on the fourth level of the Village Renaissance Building at 14 East 4th Street are of polished grey marble and the smooth walls are painted a cream color. Four corridors with four apartments each are found here, with stairwells at the front and back and elevators centrally placed in each corridor. The elevators have buttons for the first three floors visible, and control panels requiring both key and keycard to open.

The apartment doors, made from sturdy pine, are operated by keycards only on this floor. Like the second and third floors, they're numbered 401-416.

But that's where the similarity ends. This floor isn't for rental to the general public. It's a place reserved for temporary stays by whomever the person who lives on the top floor chooses to give sanctuary.

It's a safehouse of the Ferrymen, operated by a member of Phoenix, using the cover of musician's eccentricities to explain away the motley crew of folks who might come and go if anyone should ask.

"I've had my mind read a few times," Gillian explains from where she's sitting in one of the safehouse rooms in Cat's building. The meet up had been planned for the early afternoon, pre-arranged, and while she hasn't stayed in the building itself for a while now, since she moved out to stay with the Lighthouse Kids, she still had a key and access to the elevator. The room is no longer hers, one of many set aside for short term use.

"When I had telepathy briefly… it caused a kind of feedback so they couldn't really do what they were doing, I guess, but now I'm just… You can really teach normal people psychic defense? Cause I never liked the idea of people reading my mind, and if I can keep them out…" She reaches across and grabs her glass of water, taking a sip from it. "I'm also not sure how well it'll work with my ability." Augmentation.

Heh. "Yeah, most people don't like the idea of having their minds read. And— I gotta admit, I've never tried teaching someone psychic defense before." From Mona's lounged position swinging one crossed leg up and down, fingertips drumming intermittently on the table, her answer contains a strong trace of irony. Interested by the comment about at briefly posseessing telepathy, she quirks a brow over at Gillian, but continues her original line of thought rather than asking about it immediately. "I can sure as hell try, though— especially seeing as how I've pushed enough accidental buttons in my lifetime to figure out what moooost minds are kind of like."

There's a pause. A glass of water sits squarely next to to her, too, but it's still heavy and mostly unsipped-from. "We can maybe experiment with augmenting, too, if you want."

"I guess it's cool if the person can't really stop, then it might be my own fault for not knowing how to guard myself, or whatever," Gillian says, setting her drink down and leaning back. She looks across at the woman quietly, mind rattling a bit in various directions. She couldn't control her augmentation, so she can't expect every telepath to be able to control theirs. It's different when they do it on purpose, or go deep— then it's closer to touching than just glancing…

And there's that always present knot tied up in the back of her head, a conscious thing that she checks every so often.

"Yeah, we can try with augmentation, but it may hurt. You I mean. Some people get a little overdrawn when they get augmented. Increases range and power and everything."

At the back of Mona's mind, Gillian's mental knot and varied, shifting thoughts sift their way on through like a dazzling light filtering through closed eyelids. Not a lot of choice in the matter, even when she's trying to shut them out. "I can stop," she assures in something closer to a half-truth. "Not knowing how to guard yourself isn't a reason to beat yourself up, anyway; it isn't like it's something you can practice whenever. I'll definitely want to try augmenting later— better that we try it now, rather than in the middle of a battle or something— but first…" Let us see. Another thoughtful swing of her foot, tapping up against the adjacent shinbone before growing still.

"One thing I see lots— well, one thing I've seen, anyway, is people just thinking about something totally off-the-wall when a telepath is looking through. Abba lyrics, for instance." Gee, who could've used that trick. "It… works, in the sense of stopping random information orbiting out around you, but I know I'm able to still sort down through the pretty distraction. It's just a matter of switching to digging rather than letting it all float to you. If that makes sense."

"Huh, so just… try and drown out any thoughts I might have with annoying music in my head," Gillian says with a laugh, finding this idea a little funny. "It does make sense. Kinda like blanket augmentation is easier, just sending all the energy out to anyone around me and seeing what happens with no real control over how much anyone gets or even who gets what. It's much easier for me to just let it all leak than to putting all of it into one thread and pushing it all at someone. So I imagine it'd be the same for most powers. Also makes way more sense to see what it's like in a controlled setting. Would suck if I tried to augment you in a pinch and you bled from the nose and passed out."

She says it almost like it's happened before. It has in a sense, but not quite that exact example.

"I can think of music, though, easy. But I'd have to know I'm being mindread, I guess." In fact, she even starts to go through songs in her head, mostly beats more than lyrics. Sounds like she listens to techno dance mixes for the most part.

"It is one way. Official defense one, guess you could call it." Now Mona does reach for her glass of water, tipping the thing to her mouth while closing her eyes for a short second. Aah. A smile twitches its onto her lips at Gillian's choice of head-music, unconsciously making her go entirely still just long enough to listen; the comparison to augmenting, too, merits a moment of thought.

"There are better ways than that, though. But before I get into them, you brought up a good point — you'd have to know you were being mindread first, since forcing your brain to beatbox Daft Punk around the clock probably isn't going to happen. Right." In that, there's just the smallest hint of what Mona might be suggesting happen next.

"And unless they go 'Hey, I'm a telepath' or 'why the fuck are you thinking of punching me in the face?' or I guess 'I'm going to interrogate you with my telepathic powers now.' I guess that last might be more possible than the others… But either way I probably wouldn't know when they're doing it," Gillian laughs a bit as she immediately switches to Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. In some ways it's very nearly her theme song, considering that her ability can make everyone be— that.

"Sometimes I get a song in my head," she admits, letting it trail off. "But I doubt it'd stay there all the time. Not much protection that."

Letting her fingertips brush up against the glass's cold, moisture-laden surface, Mona shakes her head in a half-totally serious 'no, it's not.' "I make mistakes," she's quick to admit with a slight snort. "I'm not sure how exactly it works with other telepaths, but if I'm not careful, you can feel me fooling around like someone prodding around coals with a poker. Other people more experienced than me, though, probably aren't going to be that clumsy." Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. :|a Without her realization, there are some very tiny, rhythmic chin-nods in time to the song's drumbeat before she catches herself and fades off.

"The other way I was talking about's a lot more effective, or so I've noticed in what people I've spied it in, anyway. It's the equivalent of setting up a total mental wall— but not just thinking about music or something. That's too easy. It's a deeper, more internal thing, I guess, like discipline, which I would probably know a hell of a lot more if I'd ever taken something like martial arts." Ah, well. "Maybe you have?"

"I haven't done martial arts, but…" Gillian frowns a bit from where she sits, the music going out. "I've had lessons in using a gun, that's about the closest I've gotten. I've— well there is— my ability. It's always on, technically. It always was. Until I learned how to close it up. But actually have to kind of think about it all the time. This little knot in the back of my head. Sometimes I only do it when someone's actually pulling energy from me, but when I know I'm going to be around Evolved— like now— I wrap it up in a… I kinda picture it as a knot. It's gotten to the point it's almost automatic."

She's not sure that it would work the same. She loses the music and suddenly thinks that it would be really helpful if someone who has made a mental shield could teach her. Peter somehow managed to remember things. Maybe he had one. Without the music to hide it, the knot actually can be felt too, or at least the fact she's mentally aware of it.

"It falls apart when I'm distracted, though, especially when I'm hurt."

"Hm. Yeah, didn't mean to imply you had to be a judo master to block telepaths, but um, you know. The general idea." Mona's brow furrows, an expression containing a lean towards searching puzzlement. She glances up at Gillian. "That's— kind of like mine, too. That is, my mindscan was always 'on' until I learned how to things with it other than stuff Excedrin into it. Image picturing may help in this case, too. Something like a knot…"

Another beat, two. More politely puzzled but vehement brooding. "We could try it, actually. If you tried building up something mental like your knot, and I'd nose up against it to see if it's any good. It might be a good idea to try that once, anyway, just to sort of see where you stand."

"Well, I knew you'd have to poke around in my head when I agreed with this, so— let's just do it," Gillian says, closing her eyes and starting to focus very intensely on the knot, to see if she can find a way to wrap even more than just her ability in it. There's a lot of thoughts available, a lot of things that could be found. The knot in the back of her head gets even tighter than it might normally get. She suddenly wonders if Brian could help with this too, he had to have learned. That's why he's still alive.

Her idiot brother and his stupid habits.

There's a sudden shake of her head and she tries to put everything behind the knot, the same knot she's built up to protect her energy from bleeding out. It may not work entirely, but it may not be a bad idea, either.

The knot isn't the first semi-solid thing that Mona encounters, her presence dipping into Gillian's head like one might slowly angle a leg into a pool to test for warmth, but it's one of the most immediately noticeable. Exploration is gradual, at least at first; even when she becomes bolder in her efforts, though it's still all careful. As though she's blind, and very gently flailing her arms in front so as not to knock things over in the dark.

And there it still is, like a constant shadow hulking upwards in blackness. Knot alert. Though no empath, she can warily feel concentration practically radiating from it, all the psychological energy Gillian is pouring into it.

But at its base, there is a thought lazily drifting around she latches onto: that of Brian and the possibility that he could help. It's still as crystal-clear to her as a glass screen, and Gillian might actually feel a twinge as it's briefly flung back to the forefront of her mind. And then another. Peter again, this newly fingered thought receiving only a touch.

At the table, Mona herself appears deeply rooted in concentration, one hand curved around her cheek. "I— I think you might have to get some of the focus off your ability. Wrap it around your thoughts or something, 'cause it's not quite holding. Though I don't know if that would upset the balance of your power somehow."

"Whoa," Gillian calls out suddenly, feeling something that she knows shouldn't be happening. She may not have noticed it if she wasn't trying to notice things, but this is what the lesson is about, after all. "I felt that, the— whatever it was. Maybe I need something else. Keep the knot apart and, damn this might be difficult." She wasn't expecting it to be easy. "Maybe if I pictured it like a net instead of a knot, and keep the knot by try to— oh I don't even know. Stuff'll probably still get through, but I did kinda feel that you were looking at least…"

There's a quiet pause, and she says, "How about I let my energy out? It'll probably just make you stronger, but maybe I'll feel it even more than before and I'll find a way to build something against it. A wall or a net or something else." She waits a few moments, and then she'll start to unravel the knot in her head, letting energy spill out.

"That's good that you can feel it. Well, maybe not good, and maybe I was purposely trying to bumble around so you could, but it's start." Thoughts like a swaying string of little Christmas lights are called up in Gillian's head, Mona's tiny consciousness comparable to a mental bee that buzzes from thought-flower to thought-flower, illuminating each one as it lands and leaving it darkly cold the moment it departs.

"Go ahead and try," the writer encourages aloud with an added firmness in her voice, squeezing her eyes shut to grant the new rush of thoughts when it arrives a darker, less bewildering backdrop than what her normal vision would allow. Despite expecting the increase in energy, she is taken aback by it: Gillian will be able to detect something suddenly stronger, sharper, more intrusive in her head. But now she can easily feel and follow its, Mona's, every maneuver.

There's a jumble of thoughts. Images of paintings earlier in the day. A woman laying on the ground, half of her face ate away as if the skin decayed, one eye white while the other eye stares off dead. It looks very much like Else for a second. A man, crouched down, holding his head as if in horror. Words exchanged between her and Eve. They will stop this, no matter what. She said she wouldn't look for Peter anymore.

It jumbles into thoughts of Gabriel, him whipping her around like a puppet on strings, telling her things that hurt her. Emotionally. Physical pain too, she was still bruised, from the time she spent the night laying on an Island off of Staten watching the meteor shower with her body numbed from dart cuts shoot into her at point blank range. The man in Aviators.

She'd been looking for Peter. The man had been looking for Sylar.

The more she buzzes around her head, the more she feels, the more she tries to focus on grabbing at her thoughts, building something against them. With the additional power slipping through may not be difficult at all, but she seems to have settled on a net, which she keeps trying to throw at the tiny bee buzzing around, to trap it in place.

Now evolved into something more like a dead-eyed, heavily hovering condor than a happily featherweight bee, Mona's telepathic touch snakes weightily and none-too-gently around each passing thought before moving on, allowing the author to get a hard -look- at each image — the half-eaten woman, Eve, Gabriel — before winging blackly onwards towards more. Its movement is still evasively swift, even if that much more unwieldy; the first attempts of Gillian to spontaneously 'net' it are shrugged off with insulting ease.

As a little more time passes, though, there is a -snag- of something being upset that can be felt by both both women in different capacities. The spiraling progression of Gillian's gallery of thoughts dims abruptly, as though someone is attempting a power outage in a looming, unnatural factory of lights that shouldn't even have existed to begin with. "Whatever you're doing, I think— just keep at it," Mona murmurs tightly from between her teeth, though droplets of sweat have broken out onto her scalp.

The bigger the mental presense seems to get, the easier it is to locate. The more Gillian feels it. It keeps moving, not stopping. A syringe with a glowing blue substance in it, recognizable as Refrain. The plunger is depressed, the liquid flows out— squirting out of the needle in a stream of liquid and onto the ground. A whole box of syringes sit next to her. There's more in the trunk of the car she's claimed as her own, more stashed somewhere else.

The liquid won't hurt anything if it's split out on the ground… one syringe at a time. Surely there'd be a faster way to get rid of it, though.

As the condor flies around, there's suddenly something different than a net at all. This time it's a wall of glowing threads, like a white net hanging in black lights. Not only that, but they're pulsating, taking on the beat of a techno dance song. She's trying to combine defenses this time.

It isn't literally a bird-of-prey or even alive, of course, but whatever is darkly wheeling its way round Gillian's inner sanctum of private thoughts — if one didn't know any better — feels like it gives off one skull-ringing -reverberation-, heavy claws raking up against whatever resistance the augmentor is yanking into place like a haphazard, multi-layered pulley system. There is the feel of some kind of cold, invisible eye blossoming high above the scene of the box of Refrain, casting a blank and Sauron-like gaze over everything that plays itself out, before swallowing itself up as the memory also disappears.

There are no further -crashes-, though, save for the continued thump-thumping of the dully pulsating dance beat further in the background. In the end, it's all rather sadly anticlimatic; as swiftly as it had built itself up, the foreign presence in Gillian's head slinks further and further and further into itself before finally winking out altogether — which it seems to be doing entirely on its own, the victory an empty one. Save for perhaps the knot that had been unloosened, everything is soon back in the other female's mind precisely the way it had been. Empty. Devoid of a second anything else.

At the table, Mona is massaging one side of her forehead with a rather wistful finger or two. "Hmph, sorry about the trip. How're you doing?" she inquires, though perhaps the question would be better asked of her. Gillian hadn't been lying; augmentation so close to the source isn't a process to be taken lightly.

It's only when the mind probe pulls back that Gillian finally physically reacts to it. She'd practically been holding her breath most of the time. A deep inhale and she sinks back into her chair, reaching up to rub at her face. The headache is strong for both of them, and she looks physically drained as well, almost as if she would like to lay down and take a nap, if at all possible. "Yeah— that— that was pretty crazy. And I was just on the… you probably saw a hell of a lot more than I did."

The hands stay over her face as she knots up the energy, pulling it back in and keeping it to herself. "You didn't get nearly as much as you would have if we were touching, or if I'd forced it into you. I'd be a hell of a lot tireder if you had, though."

Sitting up, she thinks back on everything that she'd tried to do, but… "At least I'll know when you're digging around in my head. But maybe not when others are. Are you okay? I know when I augmented Liz she ended up knocking herself out by using all of the power I could give her."

Knocked herself out and nearly killed everyone with them.

"Nah, I'm just fine." Mona does look like she's had a stressful hour's work packed into about ten minutes, but that's all she looks like. Basically, just a touch more tired, mostly right below the eyes. "Ironically, I think I'll want to work more with you sometime— see if maybe I can control how much energy's sucked outta me when your power's on. Could be useful, you know. Too bad we can't get other mindreaders into here to test them out too — you can just augment them all to death."

Except that maybe wouldn't turn out so nice. Not if the key is avoiding making information a ton more accessible, utterly exhausting for the telepaths in question or not.

"No thanks, I think I'll stick with you on this," Gillian says, reaching to grab her glass. This time she finishes the whole thing off, downing it in heavy gulps. Once the empty glass is back on the table, she looks up at the woman, "I trust you to at least show some discression. Keep anything you got poking around to yourself." There's something about her look, though, that shows she really hopes she's putting trust in the right person in this case.

"If we have to, I can also augment you to get past anyone who is trained to toss up walls. But hopefully we won't have to do that to anyone…"

Cause it's not something anyone would really want to do, but drastic times… "Do you think any of what we practiced will end up working? Was I able to slow you down at all?"

"We'd have to practice more." It's truthful, if less explanatory than it could have been. Wearily, Mona also pulls her glass towards her in order to drain several gulps. There is a small and lopsided, ironic smile from her, but one that doesn't really indicate an answer to Gillian's question one way or another.

The telepath also doesn't miss the look given to her, though she chooses to glance down at the grainy wood of the table, away from it, before bringing herself back up to meet Gillian's dark-eyed gaze. "Discretion— ha. Really, don't worry. It'll be as if today didn't even happen, I promise."

There's a relieved look across her face at the words there. "What happens inside my head stays inside my head?" Gillian says with a smirk and a laughing sound to her raspy voice. It would be a lot more genuine if she were more outwardly pleased with the idea. "I'm not even sure what all you saw in there, so— yeah, stays in my head." And technically her head, but, between them works too.

At this point she starts to stand up, "I'd ask to practice more today, but I think we're both mentally fatigued and I got— something I promised to do later. I'll let you know when I can do another one, though. Maybe next time I'll try to toss a net on you when you're not taking on my power, see if I can even feel you enough to do that— And there's a bunch of other stuff we can try too, I'm sure. Maybe I should read books on martial arts or yoga." She's a librarian. She can do the book thing. "Or meditation. If you think that'd help."

If not that exactly, then something very much like it. That first comment receives a snort in return.

"If I think it'd help. I feel like I'm a Jedi Master or something." Through the vestiges of a headache, Mona has a grin of amusement now, conveying the message '…which I am clearly not' even as she also slides her chair backwards so she can stand. "You forget, I'm winging it too, but I ~think~ you might be onto something already. Thanks for putting up with all that crap — and yeah, I'm sure there'll be lots more to come another time."

Potentially lots more.

And potentially lots more invasions of privacy.

But Gillian knew what she was getting into— it's to avoid other invasions that she doesn't agree to. "Well, you're not a Jedi Master, but— fuck, okay, at least we're winging it together." If it's the best they can do, at least they're both on the same page. "Thanks too, Mona," she adds, holding up a hand as if to wave, before she makes her way to the door to head out first.

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