A Betrayal Of Epic Proportions


f_cat_icon.gif f_elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title A Betrayal Of Epic Proportions
Synopsis During a visit to her home, Cat greatly displeases someone.
Date August 15, 2013

Village Renaissance Building, roof and Cat's penthouse, as they exist in the Bright Future.

It's no longer a secret, her connection to this building, and hasn't been for some time now. The place is owned on paper by the Village Renaissance Corporation, the fifth floor is the offices and studios of VR Productions and the distribution label it operates. The fourth floor, no longer needed as a safehouse, still serves as guest lodgings for whomever Cat chooses to invite there.

The three lower floors are still apartments as they have been since the opening, and the basement is still the Rock Cellar. Cat still has the penthouse as one of her personal residences, but it's no longer on the sixth floor. That floor is now the headquarters of Village Renaissance Corporation, where Cat's business interests are handled.

The penthouse is now the newly added seventh floor, laid out the same as the previous location one floor below, with the elevators now reaching all the way there and to the roof as well.

It's the 15th of August, 2013, and sounds are reaching the pavement along East 4th Street. Near the roof's edge a woman sits in a chair with guitar in hand and amplifier next to her. She's wearing a t-shirt gotten when she saw Eric Clapton play at London's Royal Albert Hall and was invited to join him on stage three months earlier.

The roof. It's always got to be the roof, right? But Elisabeth is amused, because Cat has created an interesting bit of area here, shaded from the sun and enclosed well away from the roof's edge for one very curious and energetic 18-month-old. There's even one of those portable sandboxes in there, and some fake grass on the rest of the area. As she comes out the doorway with a diaper bag on her shoulder and Cam perched on her hip, the blonde grins toward Cat.

She doesn't bother shouting or anything over there — she merely heads for the 'play pen' to let her son down under the awning and empty out his toys. A couple of trucks, his bucket and shovel, and his sippy cup are all placed in there, and only then, when he's settled, does Liz turn toward the woman on the other side of the play area to grin. "Entertaining the pedestrians again?" she asks mildly.

Well distant from this play area on the roof is the designated landing area where a helicopter rests, kept ready for her use whenever needed as well as an area for outdoor cooking and entertaining during the warm months such as this one. There are expanses of empty space between the defined areas here, enough to ensure safety and non-interference of one activity with another. It's a large roof, just as the penthouse under is also large.

Cat stands up as Elisabeth emerges and speaks to her, eyes lingering briefly on the street below, a smile showing. "Yes," she confirms. "The Beatles did it, U2 did it, so now I do it too. Besides, this is how the Village is supposed to be. Music in all manner of places."

Laughing quietly, Elisabeth replies, "It's nice… I like walking through and hearing you playing. And Cam loves it when you play. He's been making me nuts the past couple of days asking for you." Well, it comes out more like 'Ca! Ca!' but it's what he's got right now for words, and it's clear what he means when he insistantly says it and points at the door. "We figured we'd pop in today and see if you wanted to go to the park. Cuz it's hotter'n Hades up here!" August in Manhattan is not nice and cool.

Cameron, for his part, is standing at the fence to the play area and squealing, "Ca! Ca!" and pointing at the brunette and her guitar.

"It's coming along nicely," Cat muses as she makes another visual sweep of the street below and the Greenwich Village neighborhood around it. "The music is returning, it's becoming bohemian again. Clubs, sounds, artists playing where the mood strikes them…" Her eyes close and she just listens briefly, then reopens them to glance at a variety of construction sites in the middle distance where renewal is taking place. Goals she had in mind when home was made here are bearing fruit.

Soon enough, though, she turns away from that vista and approaches the small one. Her guitar is unplugged and the strap pulled from across her shoulders as she sits in the lotus position and holds it so the boy can touch the strings. "The park sounds good," she answers. But not just yet. Ca is busy.

As soon as Cat sits in the enclosure, the toddler is all over her. Messy kisses, pats, loves, and then down to business. He plops himself directly in front of her so he can play with the strings of the guitar. It's pretty jangly as he plucks all the strings in whatever order he can, banging on the guitar sometimes and seeming frustrated with it, but not giving up.

Elisabeth pulls up a chair and sits with the two. "I was thinking we might take him over near the fountains and let him play in the water a bit, and we can catch dinner out? Whatcha got on your plate tonight? Anything fun?"

She watches the boy and his efforts with the instrument, remarking quietly "This is how some of the best got started. They didn't have teachers or lessons, they just picked up the instrument and started plucking away until they figured it out. Often enough they'd record and only know three chords, but it didn't matter. They had raw energy, passion."

She goes briefly silent to keep watching Cameron. "Rock the casbah, Cam, because the sharif don't like it." Only afterward does she face Elisabeth. "Plate's free," Cat informs. "Needs filling. The park and dinner it is."

Liz laughs at the two of them, her expression affectionate as she watches the amazing being who is her son with his godmother. The tin fingers on the guitar strings are impatient, plucking inexpertly but with a focus of attention his mother rarely sees him exhibit. It makes her tilt her head as she watches, but she relaxes here on the hot roof. The kiss of the sun on her skin is welcome — too many days she spends indoors or wearing confining clothes. Shorts, the tanktop, a pair of comfortable sandals, a ponytail! She is the epitome of casual-mom today.

"He's been at the piano a lot the past week or so. Gets mad at it a lot, too." She grimaces. "I think we're hitting the Terrible Twos with a vengeance. Felix came by for dinner last weekend, and Cam pitched a blue hissy when he left. I can't decide if he's giving him sugar behind my back or what." Liz grins, watching the little boy frown at the strings. "He seems too young to even think about something like music classes, but I might have to. He makes me turn on the radio constantly — and of course, it's all music you'd approve of," she laughs.

"I'd recommend letting him decide on classes or not," Cat remarks with a gentle laugh as she watches. "It's a tricky balance to strike, really, between encouraging and making it seem like work. The biggest part is having the fingers for it. My thought is anyone who can type rapidly can handle a guitar or any other instrument that doesn't require lung power. In the end, they either want to or they don't."

Readying to head downstairs, then to the park, Cat moves to gently extract the instrument from Cam's attention so she can stand and walk. "My influences some might call dated, but really, the writing doesn't seem the same in more modern pieces. Can you name me one tune younger than the late 70s which has become iconic? To this day no one's written or performed anything to displace Queen being played after every major sports championship is won."

Cameron screeches with all the power in his mighty 18-month-old lungs, and Liz winces. "I always thought it was a damn good thing that he didn't wind up being born with a manifested ability… could you see it right now if he could do what I can?" She rolls her eyes. The boy is grabbing for the guitar like Cat thwarting him is a betrayal of epic proportions. "And no… I can't name you a single tune off the top of my head. I stopped listening to the radio when it turned into hip-hop all the time. I'm only just now getting back into the current music." She grins at Cat. "Cam actually likes the Latin stuff. Which is something of a blessing, cuz I don't mind it either."

"Santana," Cat supplies. "I should meet him sometime." Because she totally can, probably. "He did good work when he paired up with newer artists." Her eyes remain on the boy as he screeches and protests, the guitar moving away from hands which grab nonetheless. She isn't angry, but also doesn't seem so sympathetic. "You'll get over it," she says quietly. Just one of those things. "From the sound of him, he won't have any trouble with instruments that need lung power like horns either."

Once on her feet, she walks toward the elevator, holding the axe.

"Wow…. is Santana still alive?" Elisabeth wonders aloud as she hoists her son onto her hip and grabs the diaper bag sans toys that are being left here for now. Santana is in his early 70s by now, right? "I liked his music even when I was a kid," she comments as she follows Cat, ignoring Cam's screeching with the ease of long practice. "I'm sure it dates me entirely, but my parents were early rock enthusiasts too — Blue Oyster Cult, Molly Hatchet, Creedence Clearwater, stuff like that. Not really the 'done' thing when it comes to being high-class lawyers and all, but there you have it," she says with a grin.

She doesn't answer the question of Carlos Santana's continued life, choosing instead to sing a few bars. "With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound, he pulls the spitting high tension wires down."

Cat steps into the elevator with mother and child trailing, waiting for Elisabeth to gather up the gear needed to bring with them. The button is pressed and the car descends only when all are ready and aboard.

When the doors open in the penthouse, she steps out into an open area of floor near the kitchen. That particular elevator serves only this level and the roof, a completely private one in addition to the four others which reach the entire building with varied levels of access depending on identity and destination.

The guitar she's carrying is set on its stand, then the boy's godmother turns to pick up a brand new one that looks just like it. A red Fender Stratocaster. "Cameron's first guitar," she informs the mother while extending it toward him and placing it on the floor.

She's good at traveling with only what she needs in the diaper bag — diapers, wipes, one extra set of clothes all rolled up, a sippy cup, and some snacks. Elisabeth doesn't have to do a lot of scoop up, really. As they ride the elevator down, Cameron settles and twines a hand through Liz's ponytail. And when they get to the penthouse and she sets him on the floor to have the run of the place, he instantly heads for his favorite spot: Cat's guitar stand. But when the brunette sets the guitar on the floor, the toddler squeals in delight and races for it, plunking on the floor in front of it to play with the strings.

Elisabeth looks at Cat in shock. "What?? Cat, you can't do that. C'mon, the thing is bigger than he is! He'll break it. That's far too expensive."

In watching the child go for the guitar when she provides it, a broad smile breaks and spreads out across her face. Cat settles into a chair to observe the aftermath, gesturing around the place with her hands. "Do I look worried about money?" Her eyes close for a moment, she tips her head forward and lifts her ponytail to cool the back of her neck then towel off as she enjoys the climate controlled air after being in the August heat outside.

There's a roll of her eyes. It's not the first time, nor will it likely be the last, that Liz and Cat have had this conversation. "Cat, seriously…. C'mon! That's an insane gift for a toddler!" She turns, though, and she can't help the faint smile at her son's exuberance with the gift. He may not realize that it's his own, but he's got an expression on his face of pure bliss as he plucks the strings and makes noise.

It's a simple enough argument to conduct, this debate. Cat just smiles. "You can tell him he can't have it," she answers. One hand gestures toward an open chair as invitation is made. "Take a load off. Relax. You know, he's perhaps fast enough to be an athlete when he's bigger too. The speed he showed in covering the distance from the elevator to here once you fired the starter's gun by putting him down…"

Her eyes turn toward the kitchen. "Thirsty?"

"Right…. I get to be the heavy again. You know… that part of single parenting sucks majorly, I gotta tell you." Elisabeth leaves her son on the floor with his new toy and heads toward the chair that was offered. "He's got father figures and all… Felix adores him, and Alec even spends time with him a little. I wonder sometimes, though… what would have happened." If Cam's father had lived. "I think he must be inheriting your music sense by sheer osmosis," she tells Cat with a smile.

"There's so many people who should be here, who he should know," Cat answers with a hushed voice. "I don't let myself think of it often, I try to stay busy, keep myself occupied so the images don't come calling." She's been like that to some degree since December of '08, her first personal tragedy. "But to look at the world outside, what it's shaping into, and this…" one hand sweeps a gesture over child and guitar, "… it's easier to handle the memories."

Liz doesn't allow herself to dwell either. Maybe because she's not entirely sure how things would have turned out differently. Most of the time she appears pretty darn happy with her lot in life. Now she turns those blue eyes on Cat and smiles, forcing away the momentary melancholy. "I'm trying to convince Alec that teaching the boy how to pick locks is not something I really want him to know," she comments. "I'm having about as much luck with him as I have with you."

"It's a conspiracy," Cat suggests, laughing again, "to never let you have a dull moment." Moments later she's on her feet and moving toward the kitchen. "Pepsi good?" she asks over her shoulder from a few steps away. "I have this picture of you muting everything he says when he starts talking about how to pick locks so Cam can't hear it."

Elisabeth laughs out loud. "He hasn't picked up on the fact that I mute him yet," Liz chuckles. "How the heck did YOU know it?" Her skill at muting what Alec says while still allowing him to hear everything around him is pretty good.

Her voice is fading a bit in volume as she makes her way to the kitchen, a solid distance of floor space away, but stil audible. "It's not that hard to guess at," Cat answers, "you have mastery of sounds, and you know he teaches things like that, it's the obvious way to handle it." Her back is turned as she pulls out two glasses and puts a small amount of ice in them, then pours in the cola.

There's a snicker. "You know me far too well, I think, Cat," she comments mildly. She glances toward Cam once more, making sure he's not doing anything troublesome. In truth, his intense concentration is making her a little uneasy, though she can't precisely pinpoint why. "He acts like it's the best thing anyone's ever given him. It's usually the cardboard box that entertains him for hours."

"Your ability fits with motherhood perfectly," Cat opines as she turns around to head back with the glasses. "It's so easy for you to let him play and be busy with your back turned and still know what he's up to by hearing him. I just figured you'd do it in all manner of applicable situations, maybe without even thinking about it much. There's a task to handle, a tool in your hands, you use it just like you would a screwdriver." On her return one of the glasses is handed off.

She studies the boy in silence for a few seconds, speculating, then sets hers down and sits on the floor. Knees are drawn up close to her body, then two fingers of her left hand are placed on the frets of the instrument while the right hand touches the strings at the body to play the chord. It's done slowly so Cam can see what she just did and how, afterward she moves her hands back.

There's a thoughtful look on Liz's face and she shrugs. "I guess you're right. I don't think about it too much, but that's about exactly what I do." She shrugs and takes the glass to sip from while she watches Cat's movements. It always amazes her, how easily and quickly Cameron took to Cat and kept her. The boy looks up into his godmother's face, then watches her hands with the kind of rapt attention that children use when fascinated by something. He bangs his tiny hands on the guitar and clumsily mimics her movements, though his fingers are not really strong enough to do it well.

That's likely the biggest part of why she isn't worried about him breaking it, if thought is applied to things. The stiffness of strings and solidity of instrument, along with the sheer size being such it'll be a very long time before he can pick it up and swing it against other objects and surfaces. Would Cat mind if he did? She might just say he's channeling the inner spirit of Pete Townshend when he was young.

After a minute or two of observation she gets up and returns to her chair, lifting the glass to drink from it. "A little pointer on how the thing operates, a simple chord. It seems to have him on track to figuring it out bit by bit."

Tilting her head, Elisabeth watches him with a faint frown line between her brows. "He spent hours last week plinking at the piano," she murmurs to her friend. "I'm seriously starting to wonder. Not just banging on it, but plinking individual keys, like he was looking for a note or something." She shrugs. "Maybe it's just any mother's wish for her kid to be talented, though," she admits as she looks at Cat with a grin. "He's a pretty smart little guy."

"He's got a piano to get his hands on, and now a guitar, so we may find out soon enough," Cat offers. "He is. Has to be, coming out of you." The cola is lifted and enjoyed for some moments.

There's a smirk and Liz says, "Well, now, if I say that, it's vanity. When you say it, it must be true, right?" She laughs softly, drinking her drink. "Mostly, I just hope I'm doing okay by him, Cat."

"I think you are," she assures. "But I also don't think that'll totally purge you of worrying. It seems to be part of the job in some degree or another." Cat's glass comes to rest on the table while she goes silent for a time, content to watch Cameron experiment with that which is at hand. "I don't see you doing any of the things I wish Mother hadn't."

Elisabeth looks at her curiously. "You mean like pushing him in directions he doesn't want to go and stuff?"

"Some things have to be insisted on, of course," Cat answers, "that goes without saying. But it doesn't have to be an obsession with making him be what you want him to be. I think it's about letting him be a child. The talents and interests he has will be what they are. By the time I was sixteen, I was convinced Mother's goal for me was to marry me off as breeding stock for some other blue blood family's son, to follow the same path she did." Her eyes close. "It's what she knew, and tried to force on me. The choices she made."

Her voice is quiet as she speaks now. "When she was younger, the Ivy League schools had just started admitting women. She could've attended one, but opted instead for one of the Seven Sisters because she'd been taught women didn't belong in the now mixed-gender places."

There's a slow nod. "I was lucky," Liz replies. "My mother was all about women's rights and equality. Her mother was a resistance fighter in Italy during World War II." And then she laughs softly. "You know…. I never really thought about it, but I guess it sort of runs in the family." And then she shrugs again, looking at Cam. "I can't make him be what I want him to be, because all I want for him is to be happy. Whatever that means to him."

"You get it, Elisabeth," Cat remarks. "And that does most of the work. From there it's just about letting him see the world is wide open to go whatever way he chooses and instilling the confidence to believe that."

She empties her glass and stands, ready to head for the park with mother and son where there will be open space and Cam will play in the fountains.

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