Crow Is Not Her Favorite Food


vf_elisabeth_icon.gif vf_magnes_icon.gif

Scene Title Crow Is Not Her Favorite Food
Synopsis She said she'd apologize if he turned out to be right. And she is! But she's also kicking his ass.
Date November 11, 2011

Magnes's Room

It's morning, and Magnes has been resting in the bed in his room, writing in a journal as he lays on his stomach. He hasn't been particularly social today, but when Elisabeth arrives, she'll be informed that the door is wide open.

Although it's not exactly a public bit of news, Elisabeth made a point to check in with Edward in the early hours of the morning (she couldn't do it sooner, given how furious and just how stressed out she was) and find out the results of Eileen's escape. When she enters Magnes's room, it's with a grim expression. "For whatever reason," she tells him quietly, "Eileen opted not to actually attempt to escape the complex and was moved to different quarters. I told you that if you turned out to be correct, I would apologize." Pulling in a deep breath, however, she leans back against his wall as she lets it out.

"So I am apologizing to you, Magnes. I wish it was an apology for doubting you. It's not. It's an apology for ripping into you the way I did — I still do not, and may never again, actually trust you. You were duped, even after we talked about the fact that she is not your Eileen. You are lucky that she had her own agenda and that I was wrong about what her agenda would be." She holds up one hand to forestall any response for just a moment. "And for what it's worth to you? I don't think she's a monster. I think she is an extremely complicated woman who has her own people that she loves and wants to protect. I am hoping she's close enough to your Eileen that she really can and will help us. I just…. don't have faith that it's going to be for the reasons you think."

"I've never really understood Eileen's reasons for doing anything." Magnes sits up, crossing his legs on the bed to look at her. "What I do understand is when she means what she says, I like to think that I know when she's in pain, when she needs hope, when she's really angry and when she really hates someone."

"I know she tricked me." he agrees. "Our Eileen would have told me she'd trick me, and to be honest I thought she'd break my finger, that was what I was expecting. I miscalculated. Our Eileen would have broken my finger. But I was doing what I needed to do, and if I didn't do what I did, she wouldn't be helping us. If you don't trust me, I have to live with that, but we're getting out of here and that's all that matters."

Pursing her lips, Elisabeth nods with her blue eyes on the wall. "All that matters, hm?" She looks at him. "Do understand the concept of collateral damage, Magnes? Because you gambled with other people's lives. And you don't seem to give a shit. You have never seemed to give a shit about who gets hurt around you. You said you wished you'd stayed being a vigilante. But you were going in and out of a Ferry safehouse, threatening the safety of that location if you were seen. Is that something a hero does?"

"No, it was stupid, I should never have been involved with those groups, I didn't have the mindset for it, or the maturity…" Magnes flops back into the bed, staring up at the ceiling now. "It was a risky gamble, but it was our only chance. This world is dead, these people aren't living any kind of life, they're clinging on to the end of the world. I can't leave them in this hopeless hellhole. We need Eileen to help us find Gillian."

Her eyes on the corner above him where the ceiling meets the wall, Liz nods slowly. "This is a dying world, you're right," she agrees softly. "I don't want to leave them here either. But I don't think that gives us the right to get them all killed just to get ourselves home, either." She brings her eyes down to him. "It makes us no better than Edward, if we do that, Magnes. Getting out of this hellhole certainly as to be our primary goal here, because we can't help this world. And if Edward… "

She sighs quietly. "I have no idea what his overall agenda will turn out to be. I'm hoping that he's not trying to use what I've given him for string maps to … try to go back in time in this world and change things. Because I'm pretty sure that I understand it enough to be sure… it won't work." She shakes her head slightly. "I'm not sure we're doing them any favors, no matter what we do."

"I don't want to risk their lives, I just… Eileen always tried to teach me to make pragmatic decisions, not to let my softness get in the way. I was trying to become a better person, trying to be someone who can make difficult decisions, who can see the only option and then take that option…" Magnes shakes his head, frowning as he further turns his head away from her. "But instead she instantly realized I wanted her and I fell for it like a moron. I really am a child…"

"Maybe," Elisabeth agrees quietly. "Making the hard choices, Magnes… Pragmatism has its place in that, as does compassion and a whole host of other things. None of us are going to make the right decisions all the time. Hell, how do you think I would up on the fucking run?" she asks him. "It was the wrong call to pass the information that I passed… and it destroyed Redbird Security and the lives that all the people in it were starting to build. I'm just as fallible as you are. Just as stupid when it comes to hoping for the best. And just as susceptible to someone playing on my emotions." She sighs heavily. "I'm not sure I am ever going to understand how you view the world or make decisions, Magnes. Taking a calculated risk… I can understand that. I just… don't know how to determine if you're taking a calculated risk or just jumping in feet first. And a lot of that is based on trust. Your past track record… is not helping me with this."

"I knew after I was done talking to her, by the way she was reacting to me, the things she was asking me, that she believed me. The way she responds here… it's a little less reserved, her emotions aren't quite as held back. I think a part of that is how hopeless she probably feels." Magnes tilts his head, finally looking at her again. "So, all of that part was a calculated risk. What happened after, her, uh, her tricking me, that wasn't really so much a calculated risk as just really stupid. But I knew she wasn't going anywhere, regardless of what her reasons are, I know when she's being sincere. I mean except in that moment where she tricked me, which I admit is a weakness I need to work on…"

Her intent had nothing to do with you," Elisabeth tells him quietly. "She clearly wanted to be here, or she'd have run. That's why Rickham and Ray put her in actual quarters." With a deep sigh, she pushes off the wall. "There is never only one option for anything. And while I'm a huge proponent of not waffling over a decision, Magnes, I'm also a huge proponent of knowing when you're out of your league — which, by the way, we both are." She grimaces. "This world is close enough to our own that I know Edward's planning something else. And now that I've taught him string maps — which may bite us both in the ass — for all I know he's planning on heading back in time to try to do exactly what the rest of us have figured out is not possible. But he probably won't believe it." She looks exhausted.

"Just…. PLEASE think about how your actions affect other people. This is not a comic book. Heroes in those run about, destroying everything in their path and the next month, life is fine. This is real life. When you destroy something, it stays destroyed. And that means people and their livelihoods and their lives. They do not come back. And many times, they do not recover from that kind of careless action, financially, emotionally, or physically."

"I know. I have dead friends too, and friends who have made horrible mistakes, and -I've- made horrible mistakes, and made some decisions that were rash and I still don't regret. I'd shoot Logan again." Magnes takes a deep breath, sits up, and starts to put his shoes on. "I'm also well aware that a lot of people I care about might have died because I turned into a black hole and destroyed everything, or when I stupidly fought Jake because he kidnapped Kimiko and then we destroyed the Shibuya crosswalk. I don't care what Abby says, I'm pretty sure I got Evolved banned from Japan. Or maybe not being strong enough to stick with Claire, something Gabriel even managed to do for Eileen. I was too weak, I ran away from it, I ran off and slept with Delilah because I'm a fucking -child-!"

He stands up, clearly angry, though his anger seems to be entirely turned -inward-. He starts to head for the door, trying to pass Elisabeth in a fit of, well, running away.

She doesn't move. If he wants out of the room, he's going to have to lay his hands on her. And Elisabeth's blue eyes are steady on him. "Stop." The order is given in a stern tone. "Your attention is still on the wrong things. That is the past. Deal with what's in front of you. Put aside how it impacts you — this life is not about you. It's about everyone else. You're a brilliant individual. You can figure this out. I don't care about your guilt. It is irrelevant here. You knew Eileen was going to exploit your weakness. She did. It's over. Learn from it and move on to the next step, keeping WHY it went that way in your head so that next time, maybe you see it coming and can head it off. It's all we can do here if we're going to survive."

Magnes stops, and lowers his forehead into the palm of his hand. "I knew and I fell for it because I was selfish. She threw herself at me and I lacked just enough self-respect to agree to let her pretend I was Gabriel. Jesus Christ…" He lowers his hand, then just tries to breathe again. "You're right… I have to try. I have to try much harder. Whatever having my consciousness expanded did to me, it didn't magically fix me, that's something I understand now. My emotions fired right back to life the second she threw herself at me. I have to try harder."

"I don't want to be the person you have to rely on. I'm confident that I know what I'm doing, but then I think, -should- I be confident? For everything I feel like I did right, I threw your trust in me out the window the second the opportunity presented itself." He looks her in the eye, clear guilt in his. "We're trapped in another world and suddenly I can't depend on Cardinal, Peter, Raith, Eileen, or anyone else who actually knows what they're doing to get us out of it. The way I'd do things, except for how I screwed up, it's how Eileen taught me to do things, how Kazimir taught me to do things. Trying to put my emotions aside and complete the actual mission…"

"Is there really a place for compassion in completing a mission like this?" he suddenly asks, though the guilt is still clear in his eyes.

"What we want to do? It's going to require help from them. We have no business ripping apart their lives just to get ourselves out of it. Which means that doing it should only be done if it serves everyone… or at the very least, doesn't hurt these people. We're walking into their home — which admittedly is a shithole and it's only a matter of time before they all die, but it's all they have left — and we're asking them potentially to risk themselves to go in and get Gillian out of Vanguard hands in the hopes that we can open a portal. They owe us nothing. Less than nothing. If there is no room for compassion, no room to plan for taking all of them with us, then we have no business even trying it. If the only goal here is to save our own asses? Our asses are not worth their lives." Maybe he's never heard it put that way before. Elisabeth just doesn't know.

"Pragmatism has its place here. People are going to die trying to get her out. And people are going to be left behind, I'm pretty sure. Either because they have the virus and we cannot take it with us or because they're going to be too afraid to step through a portal into the unknown. And we have to be prepared for that to happen too." Two sides of a coin.

"I want to take them with us, I want to save them all, I'm just… I'm just afraid that what we're trying to do might end up causing harm that we have to be emotionally prepared for. Risks that might have unintended consequences…" Magnes stares down into his palm, his look suddenly turning worried. "We can make portals, but we still haven't figured out how to make a bridge into another world. If I have to create another black hole, a -real- black hole like before, how will I do it without the Vanguard knowing? We'll have to like… find some way we haven't thought of yet, discover some way that my ability interacts with Ruiz's ability, figure out the secret sauce that made this happen…"

"But…" Looking back up again. "At the end of the day, we're still messing with black holes, we're poking holes into the universe, the fabric of reality. This is -dangerous-. I want to save these people, I want to get them out, but I'm legitimately terrified of getting them all killed. If I wasn't afraid of Eileen doing that, then you should know that my fear of this is real."

Elisabeth nods slightly. "I know the magnitude of the problem, Magnes," she says quietly. "And you should legitimately be terrified. Fear is also a reasonable reaction to the situation. And you have to let yourself feel it, let yourself process it, and then weigh the pros and cons of the action. Fear of an action is not necessarily reason enough to not act. In this case…. not acting means everyone definitely dies. Acting… in theory… means there's at least a chance." She sighs heavily. "But I honestly believe we're only going to get one shot at it. Whatever is going to be done to retrieve Gillian, it's going to turn the Vanguard's eyes on the rest of these people. If nothing else, they're going to decide that it's high time to rid the place of the final vermin. So… we need to have to have all the ducks in a row and be ready for that one shot."

Her tone is almost resigned. "I'm going to talk to Edward about what I think is going to need to happen. Whether he agrees with my assessment or not? I … don't even begin to know. But it's all I can do." She looks up and meets his eyes. "And it's their world, Magnes. I think we should abide by their decision on whether or not to take the risk. I would think it worth taking if I were in their shoes. A sliver of hope is better than none. But … " She shrugs. What else can they do? "If you come up with a better thought… talk to me about it."

"Well…" Magnes waits a long few seconds, as if trying to make absolutely sure that what he says next is actually a thought that he -should- say. "I… I know how to make a black hole now, if I'm augmented…"

He stares up at the ceiling, as if noting where they are right now. "If we know where the Vanguard are, where Kazimir is, then there's a chance that they might not ever agree that this is worth the risk, as long as Vanguard exists…"

Anxiously licking his lips, as if tasting the wariness of his own words, he suggests, "There's a chance that we could just destroy the entire Vanguard at once. We have no resources to even get Kazimir out of Gabriel's body, and I think Eileen would understand that… assuming we somehow had to tell her at all."

Whoa. Now…. that's not a thought Elisabeth would have come up with. She considers quietly for a long time. "Honestly? I think it's something of a useless endeavor…. but I don't know enough about virology to say that for sure. If the virus is airborne, though, it's contaminated everything including the soil and plants. Which… makes it highly improbable that the people here will live long enough and reproduce with enough population to sustain the gene pool to become adapted to the virus in the air." She considers and nods slowly. "Still… it's certainly something to consider as we try to make plans. Perhaps someone will know enough about virology to answer that question."

"Maybe Yana is here, or Odessa. They're both super smart about this stuff I think." Magnes suggests, rubbing his chin, considering a few other people. "Dr. Suresh was more of a geneticist, and he was, well… I think if he was here we'd know it. But we definitely could use an expert to talk to."

Elisabeth gently reminds him, "Odessa here is dead. It's her room that I'm in." She shakes her head. "I'm supposed to get a census list soon. Let's see what we can figure out from that. Maybe someone's name will tweak one of us." She pushes off the door. "Meanwhile… I guess just keep doing what we're doing. As best we can."

"Oh…" Magnes just nods at that, though he can't help but think. "The virus killed her?" he asks, sounding at least a little down at the thought. "This world really sucks, though in other ways it's like seeing ghosts too…"

She nods immediately. "It's the most bizarre sense of deja vu I've ever had," Liz agrees. "And we have no idea who-all is actually here. There's a population of 200 or something, and I know we haven't met nearly that many."

"Well, I'm gonna go out and meet some people. Oh, uh, by the way, is there something you're telling people that I should keep in mind?" Magnes asks, perhaps implying a cover story.

Elisabeth nods immediately. "I was thinking about that. Some people have been happy with K-Mart found us and I don't want to talk about it. But others won't be. So… here's what I've worked out. Without lying, even. Jai had a bunker under his garage. So just ask them something like 'would you believe that we were holed up in a real-life doomsday prepper's bunker? We had to finally come out when supplies were running out, and got really lucky to land here.' I mean… keep it REAL general and no details. Just shake your head at your own luck."

"Alright, I can do that." Magnes nods affirmatively, then finally starts going for the door again. "Thanks for the talk. I really will try to do better. This is… hard. So, thanks."

This time she moves, letting him out of his room and following him. She has other things to do as well. "I know it's hard. I promise," Liz replies quietly. For both of us, kiddo. Somewhere, somehow, they're going to be okay. Or they'll just be dead, she supposes. "I'll see you later."

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