eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif

Scene Title Wrecked
Synopsis Eileen turns the remains of Eagle Electric upside-down in search of answers and finds one in an unexpected place.
Date March 13, 2010

Eagle Electric

Unlike the warehouse itself, many of the outlying buildings on the property where Eagle Electric once stood are still partially intact, and while it wasn't like Kazimir Volken to store sensitive information where his subordinates where his subordinates might find it, it's a possibility that Eileen refuses to discount.

It's been months since she last squeezed through the gnarled chain-link fence, and that had been to observe Peter reconstruct the partial skeleton of Zhang Wu-Long, all scorched bones covered in a powder-fine dusting of pale gray ash. Tonight, she's here not to pay her respect to the dead but to search for evidence of what Feng claims they were hiding.

The dissonant slam of a filing cabinet thundering shut startles into flight the flock of glossy brown starlings that had been roosting amidst of the remains of the foreman's office. Whether of their own accord or under Eileen's influence, they circle the squat little building at the edge of the property in a thin stream before alighting on pieces of bent rebar, old steel girders and similarly elevated perches rising out of the ruins like spindly sections of eroded rock at low tide.

Dressed in shades of charcoal gray and darker black, the slim figure responsible for the commotion blends in with her dilapidated surroundings thanks to a starless sky so thick with cloud cover that what little moonlight is able to penetrate the gloom does not meet the concrete floor under her feet. Instead, an electric torch with a cylindrical metal barrel clutched in her left hand illuminates the office — or what's left of it. A breeze blowing in through one of the building's shattered windows carries crystalline flakes of cutting snow with it, billows the Englishwoman's brown-black hair and scatters yellowed sheets of water-damaged paper across the floor.

Even though the office's old financial records date back to the time period Eileen is interested in, they aren't what she's looking for. They don't even belong to Kazimir.

He'd managed to get there as silently as the shadows crawl along the ground as the sun dips below the horizon, or as silently as the owl that comes to land upon a sagging power line. Spotted wings tuck in a fleshy talons curl around the wire, uncaring or at least used to the dusting of snow sugarshaking down from the sky. Small beak tucks in, and he's content to stay here for a little longer, watching the starlings without reaching out to them, even if his role is done. He can't quite see the inky shadow jet through air like ink in water, but there's a nagging sense of feeling that—

That Gabriel is less connected to in return as he slithers into the building as if retracing Eileen's steps. By the time he's flesh and bone again, Eileen will probably be able to peripherally sense him in the same way she might feel an eagle soaring overhead, although she can probably be aware that this distant presence is actually in the next room over. She won't have to guess for too long if she's in good company or not. Gabriel didn't bring a torch.

The crash of a chair tangling with legs and the subsequent pitch of a large body hitting the ground as a result clatters its noise up to Eileen's ears. They could both, apparently, work on their subtlety.

Booted feet crunch through shards of glass that would be glittering if there was light to glance off them. Even Eileen's torch has closed its great golden eye, so when she appears in the doorway it's in the form of a feline silhouette too small and compact in its fitted pea coat to be mistaken for anyone else. The gun holstered under her clothes remains where it is, and so does the utility knife she keeps up her sleeve. Apart from the wirecutters tucked down the back of her pants, she doesn't have any other tools on her that could be considered a weapon, but even if she did it isn't likely that she'd be drawing it.

Sylar, after all, does not have avian telepathy, Tavisha lacks a body, and these are two things that the large shape sprawled out on the floor is clearly in possession of. The number of people it could be amounts to one.

Although the sound of her approaching footsteps is slow, they are not leisurely. Whatever her reason for flicking off the torch, it must be a good one for her to risk blindly navigating the darkness. A toe nudges a chair leg, flaking off rust, then presses against Gabriel's ribs to test for a reaction before she crouches down beside him, folds her arms across her knees, and is silent.

Technically, it amounts to two. There's a fourth variable out there which the readers at home will be able to identify but the Remnant has not, lacking the information or inclination what with bigger things to worry about. It doesn't amount to much, because she's correct anyway. Recovering from trying to walk through a chair without using the ability to phase to his benefit, Gabriel only grunts at the feel of a shoe pressing on his body, and the subtle sound of a crouch, joints creaking and fabric rustling.

There's a scuffling sound as the chair is kicked away, Gabriel rolling onto his back where elbows catch him against the ground. In the minimal light, Eileen can see the sheen of what there is gleaming against his forehead as he rolls his head back, the wet shine of eyes blinking up at the ceiling before regarding her. "I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" That line probably would have worked better minus fighting and losing to furniture.

"I'm a bit of a wreck at the moment," Eileen says, and there's a hoarse quality to her voice that supports her statement, damp and gravelly, "but if you give me a few minutes I should be able to pull myself together." Her blunt honesty is accompanied by a cool hand at his forehead, glove slipped off at some point during her stoic interval, fingertips tracing a path along his hairline and feeling for the tackier texture of blood.

When she flicks on the torch again, it's to check for injuries that her cursory examination might have missed. The light fills his eyes and casts her face in a bright white halo, making it difficult for Gabriel to pick out its features except for the mould of her cheekbones and the fine sheen of moisture clinging silver to it. "Are you hurt?"

Her wrist bumps against his nose, causing him to birdishly tuck his chin in when he realises she is touching him, and then his eyes go into slits as the light beams into his face, flattens white his features in bleachy illumination. "No," Gabriel grouches out, pushing himself up to sit and inspecting his hands in the run off light from her torch. Palms clean of grazes or bruises, he sniffs and runs the back of his hand against his face. "I'm fine. You're not." Stop projecting, is the glimmer of sentiment in pointed words.

"What are you doing out here?"

Click goes the torch. Blackness floods back into the room, shrouding Eileen's face and hands in ink. Given enough time, their eyes will adjust to the absence of light but for now she might as well have draped a blindfold over them. She turns her head to look out the door they both came in, and in the distance Brooklyn twinkles like the stars that are absent in the sky over their heads. The past year has not been kind to the property; what buildings managed to survive the initial blast, foreman's office included, have begun to succumb to rot, its process expedited by the open air and the city's diverse climate. Ivy will seize hold over the summer and wither in the fall as the concrete structures it pushes through weaken with every day that passes, eroding under the combined forces of wind, rain, snow.

Incidentally, bird droppings are corrosive too.

"Looking for something." What that something is, however, is a lot less straightforward than her croaked answer suggests. "It isn't here," she says, then. "I don't think it ever was."

Eventually, Gabriel chooses between replying with words or getting to his feet. The sound of him scraping himself up sounds needlessly rustly in the darkness, but his hand seeks out Eileen's elbow, landing there with accuracy, and setting about helping her to her feet him with as if she were the one tripping over plastic-cracked office chairs in the darkness. "You should come by here in the daylight," he suggests, voice now nearly a foot above her by the time they're standing. "Unless you're trying to tempt fate. Daiyu, other old friends, me." It's one of those places, is Eagle Electric and its scattering of office buildings.

As is the Narrows bridge, or what's left of it, the parched shores of the boat graveyard, places of chance meetings and entwining fates. As pupils soak in what light they can, Gabriel tucks his hands into his pockets, all melting snow and a slight cold in the way his breathes through a generous nose, punctuating sniffs as he goes to pace away.

Eileen and Gabriel have very different ideas about when it's safest to explore decrepit old buildings in danger of collapsing further under the weight of the snow piled on their flimsy roofs. She would not dare set foot on the property during daylight for the same reasons he's advising her to stay away at night, and as he moves away she rotates the torch in her hand, tilting a glance over her shoulder at the room she came from as if debating whether or not to resume her search by its light.

Something about his choice of words snags her attention, drags her gaze to his back and fastens it squarely between his shoulder blades — or what she estimates to be his shoulder blades. Even if the waning crescent moon, a mere five percent full, succeeded in bathing the seared earth with its glow, she might not be able to identify much more than his rough outline.

"I couldn't tempt you."

For all that they lack in sight, they can probably make up for in hearing, and Eileen can hear the hissing quality an exhale takes in response to her statement. But no words immediately follow — either Gabriel has none, or he's measuring them carefully as his boots grit against the ground in slow steps. Made slower from the ability to learn, desiring not to go ass over for a second time. He doesn't take too long, eventually lazily rotating on a heel to face her, wandering back a step as he offers his palms to the ceiling in a lazy lift of them. "And what's that supposed to mean?"

He was going to ask, how would you know? and the sentiment can be heard beneath the current of his actual words, but perhaps it's the ones that he puts forth that matter.

Glass pops, paper rustles, gravel crackles. This is a very treacherous floor even without the overturned chair waiting gargoyle-like for its next victim to tangle their feet in its legs. There's cuts, scrapes, puncture wounds — tetanus. The 'No Trespassing' sign outside isn't just for show. As Eileen moves, debris creates a jarring symphony made sharp by the stillness in the dead night air and tinkles cheerlessly in Gabriel's ears, allowing him to keep track of her progress through the building.

He smells her again before he feels her brush past him on her way out the door, that distinct combination of rose oil perfume tempered with cedar wood, what smells like myrrh and the ever-present reek of cheap tobacco and staler smoke diffused through her hair and clothes. Lavender soap. Shea butter cream for her chapped hands. The flavourless salve she wears on her lips that protects them from becoming too raw but carries with it the aroma of beeswax.

It's gone again in the next instant, and so is any warmth that her body might have transferred to his during their brief moment of contact, but it isn't the only thing she imparts. You should pick better family, Agent Epstein's voice twists serpentine through Gabriel's head, and he can almost feel it slithering behind his eyes. People like Jensen and Sylar are only ever going to let you down. The sooner you get over him and the sooner you start moving on with your life the better off you'll be.

The thoughts, feelings— no, psychic impressions from Eileen are taken in without choice, like breathing. Gabriel's brow crinkles, angles in consternation as if he tries to pick words from ideas, solidifying into memory of— "That wasn't me." Defensive, confused, unsure as to why this is being broadcasted as to whether or not he's tempted. He shakes his head like he could shake words out of it, water off a doggishly, and she's getting followed out the room, inevitably, haunted on out with the heavier tread of foot falls behind her. Smoothing his tongue over his teeth, he pauses a moment, before—

It's the kind of anxiety that prey knows, even if Gabriel is rarely that. The memory does not have the luxury of coherent words, nor is he close enough, likely, to convey such. But it's a crushing kind of fear, and not the kind you have for yourself. It shimmers through her as ephemeral as light on choppy water, familiar like when he had gone down after Danko had pulled the trigger twice, but this time it's his. Another impression, the shatter of glass, and a flare of inbridled aggression. It's over in a few seconds.

What he hopes is that it's not a feeling someone who commonly lets people down should have.

"Death didn't suit you," Eileen says, her back to Gabriel, torch tucked under arm and arms folded across her torso with hands clutching fingers at her sides. Not far from the building's crumbling entryway, she stands looking out across the empty piece of sky that the warehouse used to occupy, her body made rigid by the unspoken portion of Gabriel's response, but if she's allowed to fight that way then so is he. Of all the things she has to be angry about, turning their shared ability back on her does not number among them.

"You came back because things started breaking down." This time, the Englishwoman's words are unaccompanied by anything except the rough sound of the voice that carries them. "Not because you wanted to."

The chuckle is brief, velvety and rough, and finishes quickly, almost mechanically, because a sudden scuff of shoes against the debris-ruined ground sounds out before the crash of a filing cabinet being flung against the ground rattles like a very close kind of thunder. Maybe it's an effort to get her to look at him without simply asking, or a channel for frustration expressed through the strength it takes to tip metal and its aged contents over on its face. Silence doesn't get to ring out for long, his voice joining the clamour, louder now, as if trying to break free of the quietly hissed place their worse conversations go—

"What do you want from me?" is snarled. "Being alive doesn't matter. Being sane doesn't matter. Eileen Ruskin doesn't think Gabriel wants her enough and that's all that matters. I sent that clone for you, because if I was going to try to reinvent myself— maybe have a chance at creating a life— I wasn't going to do it without knowing I didn't abandon you. To protect you from them.

"You told me I couldn't protect you from them, and I tried. And I failed. So I came back. Why is this not enough for you?"

The cacophony sends the birds into flight again, but unlike the initial explosion that caused them to scatter, they have not returned to their perches by the time the dust has settled. There's too much anxiety in the air, too much tension rippling between man and woman for anyone to be comfortable, and that includes the argument's participants. Eileen rounds on Gabriel like a wounded animal, all curled lip and flashing teeth, pale face gaunt with eyes that glitter.

Of all the times to have this confrontation, now is either the very best or the very worst. "Stop treating me like a fucking obligation!" Eileen's voice lacks the raw power that Gabriel's does, and when she tries to match it, it comes out sounding pained. If it gets any hoarser, her shouting may abrade it to nothing. "You make it sound like I'm some sort of a chore you couldn't leave unfinished! For whatever I did to make you resent me, I'm sorry!"

Eileen wipes at her face with both her hands, furious with Gabriel for making her feel this way but more furious still with herself for allowing her emotions to get the better of her. When her grief, rage and anguish penetrate through to his very core, it isn't even intentional. Neither is the desperate flicker of hope fluttering like her pulse beneath it.

Clang, goes his boot toe off the side of the filing cabinet, Gabriel pacing around the room like a caged animal simile appropriate to something long limbed, dark eyed and with a temper that hasn't died despite the fact he's been split into parts. Or not split, and that's half the problem. While some of him may be Tavisha, some of him is Sylar too. "You have a funny way of classing obligation. I did what I wanted to do, and that includes coming back," he says, that roar back down to a growl with a sneer for good measure.

The less birds around, probably the less clear that accidental emotional projections are going to catch on, but there is probably that shimmer of anger and frustration she might have once known well from him trembling down the tenuous line of their dubious telepathic connection. "I resent everything that makes this difficult, and you're not making it easy."

No scoffing, no scorn, no leering or sibilant hisses pressed out through her teeth. A slow breath instead as Eileen wipes off her hands on the front of her coat. What would be easy is giving into exhaustion and allowing bitterness and resignation to take over, pettier emotions that require less effort and concentration for her to maintain — and she might, if Gabriel didn't deserve better than that.

Her breathing has grown haggard and hard over the last few minutes, her condition aggravated by all the dust particles in the air that she stirred up during her frantic search. The shouting, too, but Gabriel is no more to blame for this than the tear tracks glistening on her face. They were there long before he arrived.

Anyone who has experience with animals will tell you that it's a bad idea to reach out to them when they're visibly agitated, and Eileen herself has plenty of needle-thin scars on her fingers, wrists and arms where beaks have broken the skin and drawn blood or clawed feet have slashed at her. She'll also tell you that people, Gabriel included, aren't animals in anything except the strictest scientific sense and that there are reasons she places priority on human connections when her brain is wired for intimate communication with completely different species.

This one is the most important. "It hasn't been easy," is what she says when she's certain she has enough breath to speak without choking, but when she does the process is very laboured and interrupted by the need to swallow. Without moving forward, she holds out both her hands to him, fingers bent and trembling, palms yawning open. "Gabriel, please. Let me show you."

While most couples have a song, this is their thing. Not making it easy. Hoop jumping and tests where the results don't— actually matter, at the time. If they did, things would be a disaster. This isn't a disaster. It's— Eileen holding out her hands and Gabriel being unsure about what to with them, his brow still angry and jaw, back, arms all rigid and robotic. The tin man, also, lacks a heart.

But he moves forward anyway. But he moves forward anyway at a slow sort of meander that speaks less about hesitation and caution than it does about not wanting to stupid-puppy thunk his feet on over in enthusiasm that might be used against him some day. There's that same hesitation he holds, a frozen moment (like when he'd had his hands on her ankles with his sweater and her nightdress riding up past her thighs until he'd told her to forget it— forget what?) before he goes to smooth his hands against hers like twin prayers.

Eileen lifts Gabriel's hands to her face and brings them to her mouth, breathing warmth across his knuckles. Tears usually run hot. The ones clinging to her cheeks have gone cold and clammy, giving her skin a sticky texture, its temperature comparable to the brittle air around them. She passes him fragments of memory, images that sear his vision like the bright light of a flash bulb burning strange patterns into his retinas so that even if he closes his eyes their shadowy outlines remain.

Avi Epstein's hands crush a pair of slim, feminine wrists bunched high above his head.

Rain glances off a balding skull with a cadaverous face and gray eyes set deep in sunken sockets. Emile Danko's mouth moves around the words: Sorry for your loss.

In the dim light of a tiny apartment, a heavyset figure shrouded in bloodstained linens breathes shallowly, his breath a manifesting as a thin hiss tickling at the back of Gabriel's head as dark fluid creeps through a plastic catheter.

Rhinestones masquerade as diamonds on Eileen's body, giving her the appearance of an opulent snake with lustrous scales and a dark mouth outlined in blood red. Her reflection gazes back at him as she draws a flower in the lower right-hand corner of the dressing room mirror in her lipstick.

Under it all is not Epstein's voice this time but Peter Petrelli's, caustic and grating. You came here, it's snarling, pitching a fit about something you had no right getting involved in, because you can't figure out how to grieve! Have you even cried yet? Have you shown one shred of grief for Gabriel, or have you just kept pushing it down inside like you always do!

And of course, when you give something, there's little choice but to receive in turn.

Gabriel doesn't mean to, even, not like Eileen's intentions of conveying a message. Hands leave greasy smears on a mirror, Gabriel's dark eyes sunken into a face gone gaunt and bloodless as he stares into his reflection as if willing it to change, bleach bright lights haloing him and flattering his brow, making white his face and black his eyes, eyebrows, the widow's peak of his hairline. Time distorts, silence even as a mouth opens to show a set of perfect white teeth in a cat's yowl of anger, although one can imagine it to be more guttural than that.

Fingernails dig into the slick, reflective surface as if it were a window, or a cage, something to break free from or break into, and then an overlay of sensory overload of Eileen's own home drifting into view, shaded not just by the haze of the bleak winter sky but tinted glasses too.

It's a smaller slice, not meant to be shared, cuts up into pieces scattered much more erratically than what she chooses to share with him, and his hands jar back from hers and her mouth as if they were trading electricity, not memory. If Gabriel had been thinking, showing her again that he felt real bad about his mistake is probably not going to cut it. The black room comes back to both of them, quicker for her, giving her enough time to see the sightless polished wood discs of his eyes, dark like blown pupils and just as lightseeking.

"I don't know if I will make things better," he hears himself saying, because she probably deserves honesty. Because Raith didn't even deign to ask him about Epstein and Laudani doesn't need him and maybe he's burned too many bridges with Ruskin and— Gray doesn't even know where the rest of them are.

Eileen's hands seek out Gabriel's face, no more gentle than her touch had been at the river house, but her forceful treatment of him has little to do with whatever residual anger might be lingering in her system. Physical and sexual desire often go hand-in-hand, and it's common to use the terms interchangeably. In this case, it would be a mistake — there's nothing lewd about the way she's feeling his mouth with her fingertips or the glide of her left palm along the curve of his jaw as the right scratches rough gauze across his opposite cheekbone.

If she lusts after anything, it's his mere presence and the affirmation the feel of his body beneath her hands provides. He's alive, she's touching him, and it doesn't matter if he can make things better because despite what Raith says that's not his job. Teodoro might not need him; clearly, Eileen does. She would tell him as much if her mouth wasn't filling with tears again.

In her defense, she did warn him she was a bit of a wreck.

Gabriel closes his eyes, at first, like a boy much younger than him enduring something — a chore, like she put it, but it doesn't last long as lines smooth back out and there aren't any claws dimpling into flesh. There's little difference for her to touch, skin still rough and bristled at his jaw, otherwise dry, warm, nothing fevered or damp like the brief flash of reflection that she'd been privvy to. He doesn't take long to lift his hands and smooth then up the arms, over sleeves towards her bare wrists, tilting his face against her touch and casting a look of uncertainty down at her.

His hands aren't as surgically delicate and exploratory. They simply grip onto fistfuls of fabric and pull her closer, head dropping down enough that his face can graze against the curling mane of her hair. Making things better might not include letting her cry on him, but it's not as indulgent as it could be and possibly, it remains a step in the correct direction.

Eileen exhales a shuddering breath into the fabric of Gabriel's coat, her forehead resting against his chest, tears dampening material too dark for the wetness to be visible. Feng had called it serendipity. She came here looking for evidence that what he told her about Kazimir was true and found something else instead.

It does not provide her with the answers to any of her questions except the final one she asked at the river house, and this like so much else goes unspoken as perhaps it should.

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