Whatever You Need


eileen_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title Whatever You Need
Synopsis After hours of searching for a way into the dome and onto Roosevelt Island, Eileen seeks shelter (but not comfort) from an unlikely source.
Date February 1, 2011

Brooklyn: Nicholas' Apartment

The apartment that Nick calls "home" lately, now that he's not sleeping in the grimy former motel room in Staten anymore half the week, is cold and small, but too sparse to really be called cramped. He's on the futon that passes for a sofa, lethargically watching television but not really following it — some late night show filmed in California where the city doesn't sleep as soon as it gets dark, apparently.

The day's errands didn't yield anything, and he's tired of prowling around bars once frequented by Walsh's men, hoping to find one of them, hoping to follow one of them to wherever it is Walsh's hiding up. But those men have either abandoned Walsh in fear or, like Nick, weren't really ever trusted.

Nick's pretty sure he's the only one that got a bomb strapped to his chest though. He can feel special and unique in his relationship with the Irishman in that.

Bleary eyes half-close, but he knows that sleep won't come, not this early, no matter how tired he is. It won't be until three or four in the morning that sheer exhaustion will claim him. He heaves a sigh and changes channels, searching for more "footie," even if the only language he can find it in is Spanish.

"— no explanation for the unprecedented event. Authorities believe that the the southern end of Roosevelt Island, and a large portion of Queens, including Hunter's Point and most streets between Vernon Boulevard and 21st below 36th Avenue but north of Thompson fall within the affected zone. Still no word on whether or not this is a deliberate act of domestic terrorism, or a terrible accident, John, but all eyes are turning toward the Secretary of the Department of Evolved Affairs for some word while we wait for President Petrelli's press conference later this morning."

There's no face caked with make-up to accompany the reporter's voice, but an aerial view of the Queensboro Bridge, a large section of it reduced to crumbling ruins scrolls across Nicholas' television screen. In the distance short, fat columns of smoke rise into the air and then curve backwards toward the ground, roiling across a surface that neither the viewer nor the cameraman can see. The footage must have been filmed much earlier in the day, because the sky is still gray, sun straining to break through the bruised clouds, and outside his apartment window it's dark.

It has been for a long time. Long enough that the knock at the front door might startle him when it resonates through the flat.

Knocks on his door are rare; knocks at midnight even more so. Nick is up and off the couch in a hurry, glancing down at himself to take into account his state of dress: black sweats, thermal shirt, white socks. Tired blue eyes dart around the apartment to find where he left his gun — on the kitchen counter next to the cereal, of course, and he pads there and back to the door, peering through the peephole.

Not who he was expecting — not that he was expecting anyone. But his sister would be the last person on the list.

The chain latch is pulled, then the deadbolt — the sounds through the door alerting Eileen to the fact her brother is cautious at least sometimes. Finally the door opens, and Nick steps aside to let her in quickly before anyone in the hall thinks to peep out. No questions asked.

No questions asked doesn't mean he won't receive some sort of explanation for her presence in his apartment after she steps inside, carrying with her the smell of wet earth and lingering traces of perfume several days old, hints of rose oil and something like woodsy like myrrh. A dark wool coat covers her frame like denser fur protects the fox in winter, but she does not move to shed it once indoors. A magpie flutters in after her and flares its wings in a low swoop that carries it across the room onto the back of the futon, where it perches with a straight back and a flat tail, posture erect as its eyes roam the interior of the flat.

His sister's body language isn't much different than the bird's. She carries herself stiffly, her chin raised and shoulders held back, face made wet by tears that have carved paths down her cheeks and exposed throat, creating pale veins where the tracks cut through a fine layer of soot and dust plastered damp to her skin.

Attempting to appear dignified makes her feel as though she is, but her composure hangs together by only a few fine pieces of frayed thread. "Thank you," she says, in the softest possible tone she can manage — the kind of voice people use when they're not sure they trust it.

He closes the door quickly and quietly, locks once more slid into place, the soft scrape of metal on metal suddenly loud in the apartment. When he turns back to her, his eyes flicker across her face, his black brows knitting together. He nods to the sofa. "Sit. I'll put water on for tea. Lemme turn up the heat."

He moves to the thermostat to push it up, and suddenly there is the sound of the heat trying to kick in, to work harder. A moment later, he is across the small studio in the kitchenette — the act of "putting on water" entails no such thing as a kettle on a stove but a cup of water in the microwave.

That done, there's nothing left to do but wait for her explanation. Nick gives her space, staying back in the kitchenette, hands reaching behind him to grip the counter as he watches her. Worry and wariness make him look both younger and older than he is, all at once.

Eileen's movements are slow, tentative. The trust she places in her body is marginally more than what she places in her voice, and while being blind and in an unfamiliar place factors into her behaviour, the confidence he saw in her on Pollepel Island does not shine through as clearly — more like a shaft of light struggling to penetrate a dusty old attic window than a bright pane of flawlessly cut glass. She sits down on the futon, booted feet affixed to the floor and hands a tight clasp in her lap.

"I only need a few hours," she tells him, dark head bowed as she removes her lambskin gloves, the tips of their fingers starting to wear through. Beneath them, bruises stand out against the white of her hands, and there's dried blood crusted under her nails, one of them split at a shallow angle.

She's been digging. "We haven't any safehouses here in the city."

"Sure," he says quietly. "It ain't much, but whatever you need — I got some bandages, meds, and stuff if y'need 'em." He nods toward the door that leads to the bathroom, since everything else is out in the open. He seems about to say more — where and why on the tip of his tongue — when the microwave beeps, and he turns to pull the mug from there, opening a cupboard to find a box of Earl Grey, pulling the bag from the box to toss into the hot water.

Slowly he moves across the distance between them, bending to set the cup down while staying an arm's reach from her, then backing up so as not to loom above her. "I don't got sugar or honey," comes apologetically. "What happened?" Nick finally manages to ask, moving to pick up his jeans and coat from where they were discarded in a pile near his bed.

The magpie's eyes flick between the television and cup of hot water with teabag steeping in it, then back to the television again, which has switched to a montage of footage taken during the bridge's collapse and shows pieces of steel several feet wide snapping like toothpicks and concrete dissolving in chunks under the pressure. There's no sound to go with these grainy images, shot with somebody's cellphone, but no sound is needed. What little colour is left in Eileen's face under all the grime blanches out of it.

One hand cups the other, and the fingers of her right search out the fingers on the left, feeling for the gold band she wears. "People I loved," she says, hoarse, and the emotion she'd been swallowing back rises high enough in her throat that her breath hitches, though she's able to stop herself just short of making a shrill, pained sound at the back of it by pushing out what she has in her lungs.

She doesn't have a trick that works to keep herself from crying, but by focusing on the rhythm of her breathing like she did when they were children, she manages to avoid succumbing to something worse. "I'm sorry."

Shit. He knew about the dome — he hadn't thought anyone of her lot would be there, on account of where it was. When the tears come, Nick crouches down, his elbows resting his thighs, so that he's down at her level though still several feet away. His head tips as he watches her.

"Don't be sorry," he whispers. "No reason to be. Are they trapped in it or were they…" he glances at the carnage on the screen, his own face paling a little at the possibilities.

"Don't be sorry. Stay here. Shower. Sleep." He nods to his bed. "I'll head out. Give you space. If you wanna leave before I get back, s'fine. If you want me to take you anywhere — I got the li'l boat, and I got a truck — s'fine too. Whatever you need, L-" he cuts off the name she'd once told him to stop calling her. "Whatever you need. I'll leave my gun with you, but no one should bother you 'ere."

One of Eileen's hands comes up to cover her mouth to trap sound and prevent it from escaping as she shakes her head. No to the gun, and without words she has to communicate what she means by patting herself through her coat where her own holster should be. Is, if she's refusing his offer. Either that or she believes he needs it more out there than she does in here. The next breath she pulls in produces a thin, rasping rattle. Instinct demands she blink away the fresh tears as they swell in her eyes and spill over their fat pink rims, and the hand over her mouth prevents them from filling it when she eventually purses her lips to try speaking again.

Her words come out as a thick mutter, sticky against her fingers. "Wake me if you hear anything?"

Nick swallows and looks away, to the side and down, surveying the bare flooring rather than watch her suffer. He nods, then realizes she might not be watching him — that the bird might not be.

"Yeah," he murmurs. "I'll bring you back breakfast," he adds, standing. His movements are slow and cautious, especially for him, as if she were a fragile animal that might startle and run if he moved too fast. "I'm gonna go change," he says softly, with a head tip toward the bathroom. "You need anything else? Before I go, or … when I go?"

Fingers reach for a kleenex box on top of the television stand and Nick takes a ginger step toward her to rest it next to her teacup before backing away again.

The bird is. Watching him. Eileen's desire to pull a tissue from the box manifests as a sudden tightness in her fingers. Her throat contracts around want for hot tea as well, but she's too proud to take either in Nick's presence. Instead, she wipes her face with the sleeve of her coat, leaving a greasy smear across one cheek with curls of hair plastered to the curve of her trembling jaw.

He doesn't have to worry about her bolting, if only because she doesn't have anywhere to bolt to. Her magpie flicks the tips of its wings and lets out a shrill, stuttering croak, either telling him to piss off or—

"Just come back, Nicky. I don't give flying fuck about breakfast."

Muscles twitch in cheek and jaw, and he gives a short nod. "I'll be back by dawn," Nick murmurs in a suddenly thick voice before he turns away to disappear into the restroom. It's only a few moments before he emerges, dressed, and he busies himself with opening cupboards, pulling out fresh towels and a fresh bar of soap to bring back in, to set out for her to use.

As he moves toward the door, buttoning his black wool peacoat, he glances toward her, and then toward the television and back. "Get some rest,"

Eileen doesn't stop him, but like with the box of tissues and the still-steeping cup of tea, there are subtle indications in her body language and something about her inflection, too flat, when she says, "Yes," that suggests she wants something she's refusing. In this case, it's the company of another human being, but unlike the box of tissues and the still-steeping cup of tea, what she wants is not what she needs.

To be alone with her grief.

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