That First Step's a Doozy


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Scene Title That First Step's a Doozy
Synopsis Liz and Dirk compromise on the subject of population protection in the Hub.
Date November 14, 2011

The Hub: Some Tunnel

Elisabeth lets things lie after the madness in the common room two nights ago, but it's time to seek out Dirk and eat crow. She has to ask around a bit, but he's definitely a known quantity and she finds herself in one of the halls that she hasn't been down yet. When she spots him, she makes a point of clearing her throat to alert him to her presence and then patiently waiting for him finish whatever it is he's working on to acknowledge her presence in his own time, tacitly showing respect for both his position and his time by showing no impatience no matter how long he chooses to make her wait.

Maybe it's an exaggeration when Dirk slows whatever it is he is doing and triple checks to make sure it's right before acknowledging that Liz is even in his vicinity. When he lifts his eyes to look at her, he tucks his clipboard under his arm and stares for a moment before speaking.

"Yes?" There's a certain hardness to his voice, something he isn't noted for by others… unless a hurt feeling is involved. Then he can get brutal. It's his reputation. "What can I do for you Miss Harrison? If you're looking for me to grovel and beg for your approval, you're barking up the wrong tree." People die here and since Liz isn't one of his own, he doesn't care to pander.

Liz smiles faintly. "Actually, it's just the opposite," she tells him quietly. "Obviously you know that there are things going on behind the scenes — strangers are not simply allowed access to Edward Ray without reasons, right? But given the situation topside, there are a lot more things to be concerned about when it comes to the safety of your people. There is a good reason the census was asked for… and a good reason why I can't tell you the reason. YET. But I've come to apologize to you for pushing at you like I did when we met. And to tell you that I'm glad that you refused to turn it over — because you don't know me from a hole in the wall, and you're protecting them. Some of them are willing to just trust… but it's people who are cautious and wary who allow them that luxury." She tilts her head.

"Edward has a plan… one that has the potential to help everyone here in ways none of them have ever thought of. I'm not allowed to talk about it. So what, besides that, can I do to convince you that my intentions are good?"

"Edward always has a plan, Harrison," Dirk replies mildly, taking special care to guard the top face of his clipboard. It's hugged tightly against his chest and with his free hand, he tucks his pencil into his pocket. "Plans are Edward's thing. People are my thing. Edward doesn't really seem to care much about them as long as he comes out on top." Made clear by refusal to halt the scavenging missions and the recent deaths.

"So if you want the list, you'll have to give me a much better reason than," and he pauses there to mimic Liz's voice to the best approximation he can, "Edward has a plan."

Elisabeth's blue eyes flicker slightly. She sighs heavily. "Let me give you a hypothetical situation, okay? And … sure, it's totally unbelievable, but … let's just assume for one minute that there is a tiny chance that it were possible. You're a planner — you know what everyone here can actually do and you see everything going on." She doesn't know how to get through to this man, but she's going to have to take some chances. "Imagine for a moment you were living somewhere in a place where all of this never happened. No Vanguard, no Virus. And then one day due to a series of accidental circumstances, a portal pulled you out of there and dropped you here. And when you landed here, there were people familiar to you, buthey're not the people you actually knew…. and all you really wanted was to go home. But you can't do that until you figure out how to reopen that portal that brought you here. Some of the people here might be able to help open it again, and you realize that this time everyone here could maybe leave with you and never have to deal with the Vanguard or the virus again." Her eyes are steady on him. "If you were in those shoes and didn't want to give a bunch of weary people false hope… how would you go about getting what you need so that you can at least try to help them?"

Dirk is a planner and even though he doesn't have an ability, at least as far as Liz knows, he can see things. All of it due to a pair of eyes in his head and a great attention to detail. "First of all," he says slowly, carefully so that everyone in the tunnel can't hear the echo of his words, "that isn't a possibility." It nearly kills him to speak right now. "Because if someone could see all of the probabilities, he would also know that bringing anyone from here to somewhere else would risk spreading the virus."

He's lived through enough death to know exactly how quickly all of it spreads and he's fairly certain that if Liz and Magnes leave the Hub, they will take it to wherever they're going. "Do you know exactly what you're dealing with here? I mean, I know that you dropped out of the incinerator and no one knows how you got here exactly or even why you're here but… honestly? You could just be from Canada for all I know."

That makes her laugh. Elisabeth can't help it, and she leans against the wall. For a moment, she wishes she had her ability active… the constant state of negation wears on her anyway, but it would be nice to be sure no one could hear them. "I fucking wish I was from Canada," she tells the man quietly. She looks up at him, relaxing a little more. He at least has some of the real story, which makes this easier. "I know exactly what I'm dealing with here… I didn't drop out of the incinerator. I dropped out of Ruiz's portal… which, unbeknownst to him or anyone else, apparently has the ability to interact with something Magnes was doing on the far side of that portal." She blows out a slow breath, keeping an ear on the tunnels. "I am literally from another New York, in another world, where the Vanguard was stopped before it could spread the Virus. And yes, the chance exists that if we take people from here through the portal, if we can even replicate what happened and open it again, the virus comes too…. but only if infected people actually come along. Which is why it's going to be very important, as we get near the possibility of attempting this, that no runs will be getting made."

She shrugs. "But that's a long way down the pipe right now. RIght now my only focus is … knowing what I know about the people here… I'm hoping that the right combination of people here might be able to help replicate the accident that sent us here. So that maybe we can get the hell out of here." Her blue eyes hold a haunting kind of hope. "It's a long shot. Maybe the longest ever taken. But… you know what's going to happen if we don't try. Will you help?"

Liz is given a very long, very scrutinizing look. It's very clear that Dirk doesn't trust what she's saying or even if it's not some fantastic bit of fiction. "We don't even have the ability to see who is infected and who isn't," he says simply. He could be a carrier for all they know. "We know that some people survived, that some people like me, could be carriers and just not getting infected." He was exposed to it without the bulky suits they're forced to wear now, was Liz told that?

"You're here now, Harrison," he says grimly, obviously not in love with the concept. "You should just pull up a chair and get comfortable, because you can't leave without spreading it."

The possibility is actually chilling. That they might wind up being carriers for this disease and not even know it. Elisabeth sighs. "Look… don't believe me if you don't want to. I know how hard to swallow this story is. Shit, if I hadn't lived it, *I* wouldn't believe it either. But will you help me at least try to see if it's possible? What does it hurt you if I spend what time I have here doing that instead of reading a book? It doesn't hurt anyone else. I won't be giving anyone else false hope about it. I'll just be doing my own thing and you know what? If I contract the illness and die? Then I'm out of your hair."

"I'm not giving you a list of everyone's names," Dirk insists, not budging from his self appointed duty of keeping everyone in the Hub safe as best he can. "Buttttt… you're right about one thing, it doesn't hurt if you are busy with something other than being around the kids." He's not in love with the fact that she's been allowed near their second generation either.

"Tell you what, I'll give you a list of abilities that you're working with," he says, pulling a fresh piece of paper from the underside of his clipboard and scribbling on it. "No names, no one that isn't evolved… you do what you do and when you come up with your little magic recipe, you give that to me and I will go to each of them and ask if they want you to know who they are."

To him, it's an acceptable compromise to what she's asking and what he's willing to give.

It's a start. She'll figure out how to work with it, for now. "I'm still going to be teaching piano. But you're welcome to sit in on every lesson," Liz tells him. She isn't going to argue with him, she's just going to have to earn his trust as much as possible. "Thank you."

From the memory of his census of all the people in the vault, Dirk scribbles out the list of abilities that he knows of. Each ability that's negated and whose owner will have to risk their own life if she's successful. "I'd say no problem… but…" It is and she knows it. He wouldn't have argued this hard about it otherwise. He really wouldn't have defied Edward's order. But… as far as Dirk can see, Edward doesn't concern himself with the little things, nor does Rickham.

He rips the page off the clipboard and holds it out to Liza, turning his head to avoid her gaze. Obviously he's feeling incredibly guilty about this small sacrifice he's made without consulting the others.

Reaching out to take it, she captures his wrist and draws his eyes. "I swear to you this much — I will not take the risk at all unless there is a very real possibility of success. I have no desire to hurt anyone here." Elisabeth can't explain why that's the case, but her intensity is genuine. She releases him quickly and stands up, heading back the way she came.

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