We Keep Colliding


elisabeth2_icon.gif sarisa_icon.gif teo2_icon.gif

Scene Title We Keep Colliding
Synopsis Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Or maybe it's just a matter of being too close to realize the criticism isn't blanket. Teo peeves two women at once.
Date Jan 12, 2009

USS George Washington

It's frigid on the deck of the USS George Washington, frigid and disorienting. A strong wind howls acros the carrier's flight deck, carrying with it stinging sleet and ice, creating an unhealthy mixture of cold climates and unfortunate temperatures forcing the flight deck crew to wear heavier clothing and protect exposed skin. Ever since heading south from Marion Island, the journey towards Antarctic waters has shown a rapidly decreasing temperature.

Standing in the midst of the flight deck hangar, CIA Special Activities Division Agent Sarisa Kershner looks less fit for cold weather climates in casual attire. It's the first time on the mission most people have caught her out of a suit, but in those early morning hours — which are growing brighter and brighter — there are few outside of the carrier's crew to see her.

Slinging a sweatshirt over her shoulders, the blonde agent slouches her weight up against a white-painted metal wall near a bulkhead door, lifting a bottle of water up in several thirsty swallows. She exhales a tired sigh, blue eyes alight to the ceiling, forearm sweeping over her brow.

Tired does not quite capture the level of fatigue that shows on her face, more so than her morning job could produce; the fatigue of worry is a heavy burden to bear. She does so with as much grace and poise as can be managed in this situation, where the fate of a whole world rests on her so many unusual shoulders.

Elisabeth's given up on running in the below-decks — there are just too many people always in the way. She took PT this morning with the crew. It's become her habit at least once a day to participate in the Navy's PT training ever since coming aboard. It's not like she has anything better to do with her time, really. Wrapped in sweats and tennis shoes, today's run on the deck was a disaster, though. They cut it short on account of the wind, and Liz is walking back across the deck when she spots the form of Sarisa Kershner against a bulkhead. In spite of the cold, she alters her course to come to a stop near the other woman, blue eyes assessing. "You getting any sleep at all?" she asks quietly. The perk of being a sound manipulator is that she can be easily heard and they can talk without shouting… the down side is the right NOW she'd really rather be a weather manipulator or even a pyrokinetic.

One brow kicks up as Sarisa starts to take another sip from her bottle, then lowers it slowly and leans off of the wall, all her stiff and rigid posture coming back, like an actor who just realized the cameras are on. "Harrison," she offers flatly, screwing the water bottle cap on tight. "I could ask you the same." It's the only thing she can imagine that the former NYPD officer would have to bring to the agent's attention.

With a bit more of an earnest expression, Sarisa brushes a hand across her jaw, scratching at the crook where jaw and ear meets, then brushes an errant lock of blonde hair from her face. "I'm sleeping enough, I just have a lot on my mind; I think that's a shared burden. At least I have the comfort of knowing that if this operation fails, there won't be anyone to put my head on the chopping block, now will there?"

It's a sardonic smile Sarisa offers at her own dark commentary. In an awkward and strangely human gesture of nervousness, she swishes her water bottle around, gripping it by the neck with two knuckles. The sloshing sound is the only noise she makes in that awkward moment of silence. "What's got you up this early?" She asks innocently, tucking the water bottle into a nook in the wall between framework so she can properly don her sweatshirt and zip up the front; it's changed from comfortably cool after a run to chilly in the time it's taken her to start talking.

Tilting her head as she studies the other woman, Elisabeth offers a slight shrug. "I'm catching my sleep now since I'm pretty damn sure sleep's going to be in short supply once we make landfall." She moves to lean against the bulkhead next to the agent, shoving her hands into her pockets and hunching a little against the cold air. "PT," she replies succinctly. "I figure if you're going to chuck me in with the military crowd, I might as well get the early start and make sure I'm already back up to par in those terms." Not like the crew on the carrier will go easy on her or anything — they don't have time to pamper people. Leaning her head back against the wall, Liz looks at Sarisa. "Tell me why, Kershner. Why FRONTLINE? Why me?"

There's an appreciative smile on Sarisa's face as she hears Elisabeth's explanation. Reaching behind her neck, the blonde lifts her hair out from the back of her sweater, then runs her fingers thorugh the messy locks. "PT will keep you in shape, Ananapolis will turn that shape into something resembling chewed steak." One corner of Kershner's lips creep up into a smile; she seems to find that an amusing prospect.

"It wasn't entirely my decision to put you in FRONTLINE," Sarisa observes, taking her water back from where she'd stashed it between the iron supports. "I set up some interviews with your prior appointments in the NYPD, went over your record, Autumn had to vet everything as well of course, he's still like a parent afraid to let go of his darling child on their training wheels." She laughs, ruefully, shaking her head at the notion. "You know how those Air Force types are." There's some double meaning in that, but it isn't clear.

"Walk with me." Sarisa instructs, turning slowly to start crossing the hangar bay. "In truth, it was your skill sets and your unofficial history that made me put up the nomination for FRONTLINE. Your experiences at Sea View Hospital, engagement at Pinehearst, you have more real world urban combat experience than most SWAT teams ever have. You have that practiced edge, and this is primarily an urban combat operation."

Shoving herself off the wall without removing her hands from her pockets, Liz walks with the agent. There's still a wariness to her. Trusting this woman will not come quickly. "For the record… I am not a bad cop," she tells Kershner tightly. "And I'm not the only person with urban combat experience out there." She looks sideways as they walk. "I know for a fact you're not going to trust me as far as you can spit me, Kershner — frankly, I think this whole thing is a matter of keep your enemies closer. I think your people want some of us where they can keep a better eye on us, and I think somewhere in there, you're hoping we'll be useful to your agenda." She keeps her words carefully confined to the two of them — you're never alone on the hangar deck of an aircraft carrier. "I would be interested, however, in learning to trust — it may sound stupid, but in spite of my actions, I believe in the system. It's flawed. Badly. And beyond corrupt thanks to certain people. But I nothing's perfect, and I still think it's fixable. And preferable to anarchy. I don't mind playing ball, but I guess I'm wondering which kind of ball I'm playing — baseball, kickball." She smiles faintly. "Take a chance, Kershner. Throw me a bone."

"My people?" Sarisa parrots back with an arch of one brow, cracking a smile and shaking her head slowly. "Look, Harrison. I understand you've spent a good deal of your time paying attention to the scuttle-butt that comes around civilly disobedient groups like Phoenix, but the government isn't some big all-knowing entity that has the same agenda in every department. We're — to be frank — more like a play-pen of arguing children who don't quite know how to play well with others. Everyone has an idea on how things should be run, and everyone thinks they're right."

Angling an askance look to Elisabeth, Sarisa steps through an open doorway and waits for Liz to follow through before walking with her through the corridor towards the direction of the mess hall. "I didn't choose you for some eyes-on agenda, I don't frankly think Autumn did either. To be absolutely honest, the people in Phoenix the government is worried about didn't show up here. The actual dangerous ones? They're back home, taking care of whatever it is they're taking care of."

Sidestepping a pair of marines moving through the hall, Sarisa offers them a curious glance, then looks back to Liz. "The system is always going to be flawed, thirty, sixty, ninty years ago? Just as bad as it is now— same shit, different pants." She's much more frank now than she usually seams. Perhaps outside of a suit Sarisa is just a bit more laid back. "We all try and make it work. I don't think you— or the people in Phoenix— are bad people, I think they're all just…" She stops, turning around to face Liz, arms crossing over her chest.

"They're kids, Elisabeth. Some of them are young enough to be my kids," she adds, brows furrowed. "They've done some amazing— extraordinary— things, but it doesn't change the fact that they're teenagers and twenty-somethings. There's more constructive ways for them to handle their problems, and honestly… they're right about a lot of things, but the way they go about it's juvinile in some regards, and outright deadly in others."

Sarisa's lips downturn into a frown. "If I didn't trust you, Elisabeth, I wouldn't have nominated you for FRONTLINE. I'm not paranoid enough to put someone I don't trust and don't have faith in, into a situation of public security; That's reckless." She offers a plaintive smile. "I just think you might need a little deconditioning from the kinds of thinking they've got you going at, you know? No offense to them, or you, but it's just a little much at times."

There's a faint smirk when Sarisa says 'they're kids' and Elisabeth says quietly, "Yeah… they're kids." There's a pause and she looks around the deck while they stand there, out of the way a bit. "There's no conditioning involved, Kershner. At least, insofar as I regularly seem to fight with most of them about the fact that we're fighting specific instances of corruption in the system, that the whole damn thing is not corrupt."

Blue eyes come back to the agent. "It's a bit of a hard sell sometimes, when we all know that the rightfully elected President was blackmailed out of office, that the time-displaced version of the current President is sitting in the Oval Office, and that the thanks some of us got for assisting against the Vanguard the first time was to be black-holed in Moab." Elisabeth is not accusatory — Kershner, so far as she knows, had nothing to do with any of that. Her tone is merely factual. "It's not exactly paranoia when they're out to get you, Sarisa. That said, … a bunch of things have happened that I don't think you have all the intel on either. We all act and react to the information we have at hand. Are they always the right choices? Hell no." She shrugs a little. "Can I defend the ones I've made? I feel pretty comfortable with them thus far."

"A look comes to Elisabeth when she openly announces that information, one that very clearly conveys you had best be keeping this area quiet with so much of her usual venomous glare. Bringing up a hand to her brow, Sarisa pinches the bridge of her nose and exhales a heavy sigh. "Like I said, scuttle-butt." There's a flick of blue eyes to Elisabeth, and Sarisa breaks away from her progress to some place she can get breakfast and instead opens up a door and steps in to one of the currently unused officer conference rooms.

"To cut this off at the tail," Sarisa states flatly, waiting for Liz to come in before closing the door, "I'm actually going to adress those half-facts you've got there so you don't keep playing Chinese telephone with something that could get you shot by some people."

Glancing to the door, Sarisa longs for her morning meal, and exhales a frustrated sigh, coming to settle down half an ass on the corner of the conference table in the room, arms folded across her chest again. "Firstly, the man in the White House right now is still Nathan Petrelli, temporally displaced or not. I know who he is, he knows I know, we have a working relationship. But think about that for a moment," her brows furrow, "he comes from a future where the government corruption landed him in a prison for a decade. Where his own flesh and blood locked him away. He's no Nelson Mandella, but he's a far sight better than the Petrelli that was in his seat before that switch happened."

Rubbing one hand at the back of her neck, Sarisa stares down at the floor. "He's a decade older, a decade wiser, but he's still Nathan Petrelli and he's still not the man I voted for." That earns a bit of a squint, but she doesn't divulge the contents of her own vote.

"As far as Allen Rickham goes, his situation was his own making. He was an Unregistered Evolved, knowingly hiding his condition for twenty-six years from not only the government, but his own wife and children, long before the world at large even knew about people like that. Furthermore, he knowingly signed up for the office of the President knowing that he was hiding that from the American people and in direct violation of the law. When the first round of genetic testing went through Congress, most of the people who were screened opted to leave their positions willingly rather than face censure."

A tongue rolls across the inside of Sarisa's cheek lightly. "Rickham made a mockery of the system by hiding what he did. If he'd Registered he'd still be President right now, and I'm of a mind to think the world would be a whole lot better off. But he kept his own personal interests about Registration and the status-quo of his lie to the country over biting the goddamned bullet and making the country a better place."

"He wasn't blackmailed out, unless you have proof outside of someone's word of mouth." Sarisa might be interested in that. "He got caught in the act, and it was the end of him. Instead of facing public humiliation, he was asked to step down and the situation as we know it unfolded. As for your friends…"

"That was wrong." Sarisa explains in a hushed tone of voice. "That was corrupt, and very wrong. But I don't know if you know, but we found out who was responsible for that. DHS operations director Jonothan Carmichael — who was in the pocket of the Pinehearst Company — arranged for their capture as part of some power play by Arthur Petrelli. He'd been working in cahoots with a Company senior agent named Roger Goodman."

"The Company found out what happened pretty quickly, and they had Goodman executed by one of their own. Carmichael was killed in an aircraft accident transporting prisoners to Moab. The US Government only found out about Carmichael's involvement after the fall of Pinehearst once we started sifting thorugh the ashes to piece together what happened. Arthur Petrelli put them all behind bars, and if what I've heard from the current President about his future, it was a part of Arthur's plan to have them all released on his own go-ahead, to engender himself with them and have them canonized as heroes to push forward his own political agenda, right before he had half of them killed."

It's something of an information overload, all of this, but it seems Sarisa Kershner holds her word at saying she's supposed to know everything. "Petrelli was pulling the reins of people in Humanis First in Nathan's future. He ordered Helena Dean's death, probably tried to orchestrate that here too, but you and yours made sure to cut that short. So again, the government hasn't ever really been your enemy, directly. Nathan's information has been invaluable in setting the board straight again, but change doesn't happen overnight."

Square-soled boots thump the deck with the kind of regularity that the marines would probably find a little deplorable, which may or may not explain the black eye clouding the left side of Teo's face. More of a greenish eye, really, rimming the curved overhang of his brow and the upper cheekbone in an olive-colored, two-dimensional fog latticed through by a tendriling blue of overexposed vessels. Would've been worse if they hadn't been wearing gloves that made their hands about twice their normal size. Speaking of reckless children.

By the time he's coming into earshot, he's well-aware of the identities of the two women who stand ahead, but he probably should have figured it out earlier than he actually had, honestly. Time moves strangely when it's cold, the world's about to end, and he's had a bit of white rum and whatever he'd been hoping to boil out of his blood going a few rounds with the marine lads in the pen took a little more out of him than he had altogether expected. His tread slows. His head goes up like a dog's recognizing the break of an unexpected approach in the line of the horizon.

"Hey," he says to the sound bubble's transparent wall, as if he doesn't realize it's right there— or as if he hasn't, couldn't have, wouldn't have listened right through it. Nonchalant as anything, Teo swivels pale eyes from one blonde to the other, finally sidles onto Liz despite that she's altogether the more familiar of the two. "If you let her touch your hand, she can probably get your answer even if you don't move your lips at all."

Of course she's keeping the area silent. Even after they walk into the conference room, Elisabeth continues to keep the two of them enshrouded in the privacy bubble. Teo sidling up behind her brings her eyes around as she steps into the conference room, and she includes the man in the silence bubble out of habit. Her comments are calm on the matters being discussed. "I can't argue that Rickham brought part of his trouble on himself. Not a bit." She finds it interesting that Kershner sticks up for the Petrelli who sits in the Oval Office and is just as pissed off at Rickham for his asinine situation as the rest of us were. Teo's comment brings her eyebrows up, and she merely looks back at Sarisa. "Any number of people have been in both Pinehearst's and the Company's pocket, Sarisa. And neither organization is aboveboard in any way. Perhaps you should talk to some people who've actually seen that future — other than the man who is sitting in the Oval Office. The information that Arthur was controlling aspects of Humanis First? Not exactly shocking."

Elisabeth draws in a deep breath. "Look. I know that you've lost a lot in this fight. We've all lost a lot in this fight. I lost my mother to Peter Petrelli's powers in 2006, I lost half of a high school and nearly my life to the Vanguard in 2008, and I've lost ten years worth of my life to a Humanis First torture session and a bullet to the brain." Her voice is tight as she watches the agent. "And just ask Teo — I'm still stupid enough to the think the system can work."

"Welcome back to Apocalypse Part…. is this two or three?" Liz says to Teo, mulling for a moment. "Whatever."

A look is offered up towards Teodoro Laudani, brows furrowed, head cocked to the side with a side-long look. "I don't recall inviting you into this conversation mister Laudani, nor do I recall asking you to divulge that information. I would've though someone from an organization who'se flagpole tennant was privacy of abilities would have the common decency to not bring that up." Sarisa slams her water bottle down ont he table and slides off from it, scratching at the side of her cheek with one hand and offering Elisabeth a very pointed look; the intention of which isn't quite elaborated on.

"I appreciate your wanting to discuss this further, Harrison, but my taste for breakfast has outweighed my taste for conversation now." Rolling her tongue across the front of her teeth, Sarisa takes a wide step around Teodoro as she makes her way towards the conference room door. "If you're interested in having a conversation at a later time, Elisabeth, you know how to get in touch with me." She's visibly upset, practically bristling at Teo's intrusion into the conference room when she opens the conference room door again into the room.

Somehow, Teodoro Laudani still retains certain expectations that the bad guys in the story meet minor setbacks and exposure with scales flared, wings extended and teeth bared, perhaps an oily laugh or rubbing of hands together, perhaps a sarcastic concession: 'whoops, you caught me.' As one can imagine, Sarisa's somewhat more [damp] feline response differs to his brain picture of what would actually have happened. He blinks twice as Sarisa gives him a wide berth. Not that he doesn't appreciate that, all things considered.

It occurs to him, an entirely dislocated, irrelevant thought: his mother wouldn't like to see him upsetting the women. His mother. The knit of his brow tightens into a squiggle like someone pulled on a single thread through the fabric, and he swings a hangdog gaze after the way the woman went, the broken furrow in his cheek sucked briefly inward on a long-drawn breath. A beat. His left brow hikes on his forehead. To Elisabeth, then: "Want some rum?"

There's a furrow of Elisabeth's brow when Kershner's response to Teo's words is about her power. "I don't think I realized that it was a secret," she comments softly. "Merely that it hadn't come up." She eyes Teo, idly contemplating the notion that he outed her power simply to press the woman's buttons. But she says to Sarisa, "I look forward to continuing the conversation another time, Sarisa. If we're going to continue working together, I'd like to put us… at least on square footing with one another." She doesn't try to stop the agent from running off in a snit, if that's what she's going to do. Slanting another glance to Teo, Elisabeth retort is dry as the desert. "I'd rather get laid. But rum might work too." She sighs heavily.

On her way out the door, Sarisa has the presence of mind to trace her index finger into a shape over one shoulder, rather square shaped. Seems she's of the mind they're already square enough, if straightening out those corners might mean more encounters with the tactless Italian. A look over her shoulder after, and Sarisa's narrowed eyes regard Teo's profile unkindly, before her somewhat haggard-looking figure disappears out of sight.

Right now, she's preferring a square meal more so than a squared footing.

Huh. Teo swings his head around, like a slightly inebriated yeti, blinking underneath the bristly overhang of his hair. Protection against the climate, you see. "You knew about it? That's— fuck, if everybody except Francois and I knew about it, that's good. I don't like the idea of her knowing more about any of us than we say with our mouths, or more importantly, not knowing what she knows. Sorry if I messed up your tea party," he adds, after a protracted moment spent metaphorically chewing that cud. Genuine contrition shifts his brows, and he turns, tucking scarred fists into his pockets. "But hey.

"Apologize for my behavior and you'll get the whole good cop thing for free. Then maybe you could explain what you meant by 'continue working together,'" he points out, brightening with optimism that isn't entirely false. Slanting his shaggy head, Teo points the way to… further inebriation. A little surprised then: "Dick wouldn't come out to play?"

"Actually, I didn't know anything about it," Elisabeth tells Teo mildly. "But then, I never thought to actually ask what her power was. I assumed it was something touch-based, I guess, in the back of my head. Cuz of the gloves and all. Frankly, at this point, I figure there's not too terribly much about me that she doesn't know," she snorts. "C'mon. She knows about Pinehearst, Sea View, knows I wasn't at Moab, knows who I'm fucking. What the hell is there of import?" She waves off his apology. "Don't apologize for anything. And let's just say that he and I like a little more privacy than has been the norm on a freakin' aircraft carrier, Teo. That's not to say he's ignoring me, however." She smiles faintly. "The working together reference is that I have been forcibly resigned from the NYPD — something I already came to terms with — and I'm taking a position on FRONTLINE's squad two." She turns to look at her friend, a rueful smile quirking her lips as she waits for the explosion.

There isn't any. Teo closes and opens his eyes several times, as if the blond's finally caught up to him. Given the company, maybe it has. There's a long breath, in and out, considering, before he nods. Okay.

Gloves: visible sign. To the best of his (awesome) recollection, it's not like Elisabeth made much of a business pitching in at the Ferry, anyway, so there is only so much she can compromise outside of Phoenix herself, and Phoenix herself has had a lot of practice compromising herself and magically pulling through anyway. Cat is possibly another matter, and the extremities of Teodoro's neuroticism trip and tumble one over the other, reassuring himself over and over things will be fine, or alternately (much as Sarisa had) the world will go in water and ergo solve all their problems, before hanging a spraining creak of a halt around the sudden corner provided by Elisabeth's job prospects.

"Tape a sock over the porthole," he suggests, loping for the door, which has a vault-like locking mechanism and one such circular window. Outside of it, there are two soldiers in inexplicably divergent fatigues and Asian ancestry strolling along, appropriately marked badges flapping laminated at their chests. Teo bats an eye, but then, he's only been here a couple days: he doesn't know how things work around here. He stops only very suddenly. Glances up at the fluorescent light tube overhead. "'S the name 'Leonard' ring a bell?"

Tilting her head, Elisabeth watches him parse through the ramifications silently. And she leans over to kiss the neurotic Italian on the cheek and whisper, "Keep your enemies closer, Teodoro." When he heads for the door, she leans on the table to watch him a minute, and then raises both her eyebrows at him. "Of course," she replies cautiously.

Real anger twinges briefly through Teodoro's features, both fuelled and tempered by the mangle of sentiment that little warm flower of a kiss she'd put on his cheek inspired. He doesn't like being reminded of his face, lately, but easier on his mind is the long, long relationship he's had with the ex-cop. Longer even than she knows. Unfinished hackling stiffens through the outline of his body, finally stops in the ironic little twist at the corner of his mouth. His good side.

A good sign, if not the best. Then again, Teo's always been a little protective of Jesse, no matter which face he happened to be wearing.

"Signorina," Teodoro says, finally. "I love you like my own heart, or—" Pause. Restart, "if mine was very good, but. If you keep pretending fuck-ups don't happen, don't matter, or don't change a thing, and I might have to punch you as many as two times," two times, he shows A Forefinger and A Middle, shakes them. Two times, "in the mouth before we're all good again. Saying a bad situation isn't shit doesn't make it better. Or make me feel better. There's worse things than a little hindsight." He blows air through his nose, covers it up with his hand. Smellllls like rrrrum.

Elisabeth snickers at him. "So…. what, you want me to hit you so you feel better about fucking up or something?" Oh, yeah… she's definitely heckling him now — she can smell the rum on him and can't help wondering how much he's had. "Fuck-ups matter, babe. They change the game. And I'm not entirely sure which fuck-ups you're referring to in this instance that you wanna be hit for. If you enlighten me, we can have a fistfight, if you wanna. I could use a good kickboxing session, truth be told. Haven't had one in ages." She studies him.

"It wouldn't matter how pissed off I was at you… not for… whatever fuck-up you're talking about. Not for killing Minea Dahl. Nothing changes the fact that you're a part of my family, Teo. We have yelled at and fought with each other, we've fought side-by-side in some of the worst fights I've ever imagined. You've sat in my head while a man beat on me and let rats chew on me as I sat in puddle of my own piss and blood and vomit, refusing to leave until they killed me," she says brutally. "There are few things in this world that I would not find a way to come to peace with for you. Not because it doesn't matter… but because it does matter. How the hell can I stand in judgment of you when my own actions are as gray as they get?"

A myopic squint takes up residence around Teo's eyes. An awkward silence, then a long breath threads through his teeth, somewhere between exasperated, somewhat more Italian~ly, straightforwardly irritated, and pleasantly engaged by the proposition that Elisabeth set forth. He lifts up his hands, their heels out, sets them squarely on her shoulders, a little exaggeratedly, the bend of his wrists articulating mechanical accuracy.

Shoves. Not as hard as he can, given the limited maneuverability and distance with which Teodoro had to revv, but not gently, either, tipping her at the wall.

"Was hoping Leonard wasn't going to be fucked with the rest of us if shit blew back," he grinds out, flatly. "Jesus fuck: who knows what else Kershner picked up— and about who else. I know your situation blows, not the least because you really, really want the carrot these people are leading us with, and I don't begrudge you any of that. But you can do better than… than—" Teo motions with a callused forefinger. "Shrug and… and blind yourself with silver lining. She's a bitch with motive, for better or worse, and even if we die, the little blue world keeps on spinning."

Elisabeth aaaaaaahhhhhhhhs, as realization dawns as to which fuck-up Teo is referring to. Several steps backward and a thump against the wall accompanies that realization being as she was just not-so-gently shoved. "Well, jack-off," she responds tartly to the inebriated Italian, "considering anything she has taken from anyone in this group has already been done — since none of us KNEW what her power was for weeks now — I'd say your concern is …. well, to put it politely, love, too little too late."

She eyes him warily now. She invited a fistfight, and well… little Italian terrorists can sure fight. Probably better than Liz herself, but she's never honestly thought about pitting self-defense training from cop squad and Conrad against Teodoro.

"You don't have the first clue what I'm doing, Teo, nor whose agenda I'm working at this point. Or maybe you do and you don't think that's good enough. Too bad, so fucking sad, babe. You're right — part of me wants the carrot. Part of me figures I deserve the fucking carrot. The rest of me? The rest of me is just hoping that the agenda I'm on is actually the team I want to play for. And it's all any of us can do. I'm not blinding myself to anything, most especially not Agent Kershner's own agendas — which, in case you didn't fucking know, seems to be getting FuturePetrelli out of office along with Mitchell. Now… that could be trading one evil for another. Fuck, she could be playing us. But given the rest of the intel I've been given on the matter, this seems like the best course to follow at the moment, Teo. Doesn't matter if you like it. I'll do the best I can with the borrowed time I'm living on and hope to God it's enough when someone finally does kill me."

"Ninety-nine percent of the time I think cutting your weird obsession with pretending hindsight doesn't fucking matter down with logic," Teo says. It sounds like the beginning of something else, but the sound of his own voice, the words he framed in it, and the best of his recollection reveal to him that this particular moment belongs with the rest of that ninety-nine percent. In that he isn't any more annoyed now than he was at the docks behind the dispensary, or their walk through the Southern end of Manhattan at the ass-end of the day. In fact, he is a great deal less so.

She isn't the only one susceptible to self-pity. And she's right: it kind of reduces one's availability to be concerned about other things. Nevertheless, paranoid pragmatism compels Teodoro to finish his train of thought, however zaggy and awkward it was. "What the fuck! Me? If you want to work with FRONTLINE, catching bad guys, I'm not going to stop you. I greenlit your induction into baby terrorist clique and peanut-galleried you into SCOUT, for Christ's sake. If Kershner wants to put up a new president, I'm sure your country could do better. I don't even know why you thought—"

Okay, no, he can see why she would think. Still, Teo interferes only about as often as he finds himself incapable of doing so. He breathes in. Out again.

"But Kershner holds all the cards, Liz, stick, carrot, whatever. And don't tell me you honestly think there's absolutely nothing you can or should do about a psychometer who's already fucked you once. You don't want to literally set her on fire? Great. Play her game. Maybe everybody wins, or you beat her at it." Teo's talking too loud. It takes him until now to be aware of it; he slings an irritable glance over his shoulder, a little more damp_feline than he's normally wont to be, himself, before squaring his gaze on the woman. "But this defensive righteous dickpulling bullshit makes you out like Kershner's honorable agenda thing's enough of an excuse to give her an all-access pass to the private lives and tactical secrets of everybody on this fucking ship. Now and future. And that is bullshit. Get over it."

She gives him the courtesy of listening to him. Because what he has to say is something Elisabeth wants to understand. She's had a hard time with him even since the return from the future and merging of his selves. Shaking her head, Liz replies quietly, "I would have thought you knew me better than that, Teo." There is hurt in her expression. "I have only once ever given up Ferry or Phoenix secrets. And it wasn't to Denton, who I wanted to trust. And it wasn't to Dahl, who I actually did trust most of the time. And it wasn't to Will Harvard, who was a goddamn good man and covered my ass in the last Vanguard situation then got killed by the same fuckers who tried to kill me. The only time I have ever given over secrets 'voluntarily'," and yes the air quotes come out, "you gave me permission. And I wished over and over that you hadn't given me anything, because until then? I wouldn't have had anything to give them. They would have just killed me and been done with it, and the deaths of all the rest of those people on Beach Street wouldn't be on my conscience. But you did. And I did. And I have to live with it. Every moment of every fucking day — of all the things I've done in this life, that one is the one that haunts me."

There is pure venom in her tone at this point. "So you take your assumption about what I'm willing to tell that bitch and you shove it as far up your ass as a long-handled mop will take it. And while you're at it — get over your fucking self. You think you have all the answers, and you think you know what the fuck you're doing, but you're just as much in the dark as the rest of us. Hoping against hope that you're doing the right thing. In your case, it's to save Leonard… Alex.. whatever. In my case? It's to save as many people as possible, regardless of the cost to my life. To what I want out of this life. If I was so fucking desperate to believe her, I'd actually just go ahead and JOIN their fucking little clique and blithely go on my way assuming I'll be taken care of. Instead…."

Elisabeth shakes her head. "I love you dearly, but you're an asshole. Talk to me if you ever sober up." And she moves to walk out on him, only the low thrum of sonic vibrations giving away just how pissed off she really is at him.

"Liz—" Though arguably astonished by this progression of arguments, or at least at the divergence of them from what he was actually arguing about, Teodoro nevertheless thinks better than to actually pursue her down the hall. He doesn't know if her sound-barrier is up, but fortunately, the query seems safe enough for public consumption — or no more dangerous than anything else that had been said. He sets his heel against the wall. "You know I'm talking about her ability, not coffee conversation, right?"

She stops on the far end of the door, leaving the field intact. If the expression in her blue eyes is anything to go by, it's not going to take much to make Elisabeth lose her temper entirely. "Frankly, Teo, I don't have a clue what you mean… except that you're once again rather vaguely accusing me of being… let's see if I get them all this time," she ticks off on her fingers. "Clueless. Stupid. Naive. And a traitor."

Teodoro's face goes very still and very suddenly. When he finally gets around to talking, his voice seems to be coming from somewhere extremely far away. "I think," he says after a moment. Pauses for revision, before more words emerge in that awkward formality that finds him when his English is suffering for casual fluency. "I'd appreciate it if you would— decide whether or not it would be wise to inform the others about Kershner's ability. And give the Ferry a little heads-up, via satphone." There's a beat. "Just proud, signorina. I probably shouldn'tve forgotten.

"Excuse me." His turn, this time. He offers a slight wave before roping a wrist wearily through his hair.

Proud? She's pretty sure he means hubris. Which, so far as Elisabeth is concerned couldn't be further from the truth. She has nothing left to be proud of. They broke her. No matter what she does in penance for that — no matter how many times she might help 'save the world,' no matter how hard she fights or works … nothing makes up for it.

"I'll pass it on," is all she replies in a tone made soft with the effort to hide the sense of defeat that threads through it.

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