A Delicate Operation to Start With


elisabeth_icon.gif jessica_icon.gif

Scene Title A Delicate Operation to Start With
Synopsis Jessica and Liz touch base over drinks.
Date November 26, 2010

Speakeasy Hotel and Casino

The interior of the casino has that curious, old smell. Stale beer has been absorbed into the thick red-patterned carpet and absorbed through the walls over the years. There is brass railing, permanently dulled from a hundred thousand touches and countless layers of dirt. The lighting is poor and low. The brightest illumination in the entire establishment comes from the row of new video slot and poker machines that fill up a whole corner. There's twenty or so machines in total, many with different themes and with varying costs and payout.

The Speakeasy used to //be one at one time. Its jazz influences can be seen in the colour scheme and a large chandelier hanging over the old wooden billiard table. Both the table and the chandelier are decidedly art deco in appearance. The class of the place is decidedly faded around the edges. It has the feel of a place that is far past its prime, and the previous owners tried to keep the look updated, but either ran out of money or desire to. The place does not serve food, though there are bowls of peanuts on the bars and tables and vending machines that pop out chips and candy.//

The drinks are cheap, but seating is limited to three tables and the stools along the bar. Clearly the establishment encourages gaming over drinking and socializing. Along the side of the bar are a bank of five TVs that usually show different sporting events when the season is high, or all the same one if there's a big game on. One monitor displays the current odds for betting on various sporting events and bets can be placed with a bookie on-duty during high times or with the bartender when things are quiet.

Twice a week, there is a poker game. The game on Tuesdays is low stake with a hundred dollar buy-in. The Sunday night game is higher stakes, with a five hundred minimum. On Saturday nights, there's two blackjack tables and a roulette table with dealers and chips.

If there's one thing Liz has always hated, it's Black Friday. Top off early-morning Black Friday shenanigans with a kid who reported being abused in the afternoon and a massive fight at one of the local tech marts that required calling in of FRONTLINE resources at about 4pm… it is just a shit day. As the stores began to close, she caught the text from Niki and gratefully slipped out of the factory wearing a pair of scuffed blue jeans, low-heeled boots, and a fleece-lined denim jacket. The blonde is weary enough and her voice shattered enough right now with the chest-deep coughing that she's not as obviously recognizable down here as one might think. Not to mention the Speakeasy isn't a place she frequents by choice. But the proffered drink? Yeah, that's appealing. She heads into the bar area, glancing around briefly, but she settles into a seat and lets Niki find her.

"Jesus Christ," growls a woman seated at the bar, loud enough for most of the other patrons to hear her. "Do you know how to pass the fucking ball, you goddamn idiot? He was wide fucking open!" One hand goes sweeps out in front of her, a gesture of frustration at the television and the basketball game playing on it. "That's bullshit, Toronto. Play some fucking ball."

Eyes are rolled at the television, and it's dismissed with a wave of her hand. "Dos whiskey," she tells the bartender. She receives a bit of a look in return, but considering she has two empty glasses beside her already, she isn't denied. Plucking the filled order off the bar, and carefully turning, the woman comes to sit across from Liz, as though she knew she was there all along.

Knowing Jessica, she probably did. The mirror behind the bar likely helped. "Hello, Liz."

Leaning back in her seat, Elisabeth looks up as she's joined. She's not entirely sure which of the women is joining her, but either way it does matter. "Hey," she greets in that half-voice that comes of laryngitis. "Glad to see you, lady." Blue eyes study her friend. "You holding up?"

"Yeah," the other woman confirms easily. "Niki's taking a break," Jessica offers to identify herself. "But she sends her regards. The holiday was too much for her." There's no pity in her for that. There's no room for pity where Jessica is concerned. Pity is Niki's department. She needs to be the rock, for both of them. "How're things going over there? Do you need me to drive up to Massachusetts?"

Elisabeth grimaces at the news and takes the drink from Jess, swallowing half of it in one go. "I thought about her all day," she admits quietly. "Not feeling too holiday like this year." She didn't much feel it last year either, admittedly. "Not yet. I need to talk to Richard yet. And I haven't wanted to." The admission is hard. "He's gone to ground, doesn't want to see anyone right now." She buries the hurt of that behind a second swallow. "And since it's the holidays and moving forward right now would be a bitch anyway, I'll work on handling it this week. Try to work out the best course of action. There are a couple of options at hand."

Jessica nods, taking a swallow of whiskey sans rocks from her glass. She doesn't wince or give any indication at all that the cheap liquor is vile, and it is. "Give Richard time. And if he doesn't come around, I'll go shoot him in the kneecap so he learns his lesson." Because violence solves everything.

"This is a bit of a slow process," she admits, switching topics and expecting Liz to keep up. "I don't want to appear overeager, or I'll draw too much suspicion. I've been running some small time jobs for Civella, hoping that d'Sarthe will hear I do good work and want that for himself." One has to wonder if there's any blood on Jessica's hands from this assignment.

The blonde ex-cop doesn't have to wonder. Not a bit. The assumption Elisabeth has to make is that she's cut Jessica loose to do whatever needs doing — and it includes blood. The up side to having the head and chest cold is that she can't taste the substance that's running over her tastebuds. "Take it as slow as you need to. I don't expect immediate results. It was a delicate operation to start with. And with Zarek dead, your placement in d'Sarthe's regime could be extremely important — we don't want to simply trade Linderman for d'Sarthe. The fucker was Zarek's play, and now we have to carefully maneuver ourselves into position to make sure he's not a power player when we're done."

"The fuck happened with Zarek anyway? He was our fucking ticket to control this. What's the plan now? Blackmail Nichols again?" Jessica's suggestion obviously leaves a bad taste in her mouth. "I'd just as soon separate that bitch's head from her shoulders. I wouldn't trust that sister of hers if I were you. They were close when I was working for Linderman back in Vegas. I wouldn't doubt that little Colette doesn't tell her big sis everything that's going on." Jessica's instincts couldn't be more wrong, in truth, but she can't be blamed for her theories.

"I don't know. Best I can guess, maybe Linderman figured out Zarek was playing both sides." It's a reasonable assumption at this point, since Elisabeth has no other information to work with. She grimaces slightly. "The Zarek agenda wasn't my play so now I'll be playing catch-up," she admits. "I'm giving Richard some rope here, but truth be told if he doesn't get his head out of his ass and back in the game pretty quickly, I fully intend to go in person and slap him into next year." She rubs her forehead, clearly feeling like shit. And her glass is empty. How the fuck did that happen? she wonders absently.

With a deep sigh, Elisabeth admits, "I don't have time for him to keep wallowing much longer. There's too much at stake."

"I always did like you, Liz," Jessica murmurs appreciatively, her voice laden with that low, sultry quality Niki seems to lack when she's not working her day job. "Niki got the information we need to take Linderman down, but we're sitting on it until we're prepared to handle the consequences. I want to be sure I'm in a good position either within d'Sarthe's camp, or at least set up with some good sources." Never underestimate the power of a good snitch.

Elisabeth's gaze comes back over to Jessica's face, a faint smirk quirking her lips. "Well, the death of Zarek basically puts the whole plan Richard had in place down the toilet," she admits. Linderman can't leave the empire to a fuckin' dead man, can he? So sitting on that intel is a good plan. "Right now it's a waiting game — we're going to need to move carefully, line it all up so that it works out well. The hole Zarek left has to be adjusted for. If we take Linderman out now, it'll be a clusterfuck," she admits. And she can't help but smile at the fact that Jessica likes her. Two years ago Elisabeth would never have thought she could make these kinds of decisions.

"Considering Niki's personal ties to d'Sarthe's people, you're doing exactly what needs doing right now. Put your own situation to rest if you can, one way or the other." Whatever Niki and Jess can live with. Liz pauses. "Once that's done, it'll be a little easier to sort out whether d'Sarthe is in the Institute's pocket or whether D.L. was just a private contractor."

"I don't have to leave that son of a bitch alive if I find him, do I?" Oh so diplomatic, Jessica lifts her glass to her lips and swallows down the remaining whiskey. "Niki received a message from Micah before… whatever happened to Rebel," and if she had to admit it, she would actually feel sorry about doubting that Micah was still Micah somewhere in those layers that made up the entity that was Rebel. "Apparently he- they- whatever knew about D.L. and he received a message himself." Seems like everybody's hiding the truth from her - and Niki - these days. It's really beginning to piss Jessica off.

Elisabeth clearly didn't know that. "What kind of a message?" she asks. "And just so you know… I don't really know what happened to Rebel. Whatever it was, I gather it was… pretty big." She grimaces a little. "I'm sorry for hiding the situation with D.L. — Monica came to me about it. She wanted to tell you, but I told her to sit on it for a while. I'd been hoping to head off exactly what you're having to do now… maybe give you the chance to deal with it face to face without also having a mission inside d'Sarthe's organization at the same time," she confesses. Toying with her empty glass, she admits quietly, "And I couldn't face the idea that I was going to be the one to tell you both that the other person you'd been grieving for since 2006 was alive only to… find out that he'd known you were alive all this time and decided not to bother to tell you or something." She knows exactly how much hurt was involved when Niki didn't make it to Micah's body in time to at least say goodbye.

"The if you're getting this, something's happened to me kind. Apparently he - Rebel - set up a sort of satellite thing that he had to check into, or the message would send itself out automatically. The thing is garbled garbage. Something about solar interference, I think. I don't know how that stuff works. But we've lost our son three times now. I hate to say it, Liz, but I hope he's really gone this time." Jessica's head shakes back and forth, a sour look rather than a saddened one. "Niki can't handle one more return from Micah just to lose him again." Callous as it is, it is also very true.

"I've had time to… think about it." Jessica is not necessarily knowing for thinking about things before reacting. Punching usually solves her problems. "I understand why you and Monica handled it the way you did. We both do. You're forgiven. The problem is between D.L. and I now."

Elisabeth tilts her head and nods to the fact that Niki can't handle losing her son one more time. "Believe me, Jess… I wish the same thing, for all the same reasons. To have him keep dying over and over is just cruel." It's the same reason that hot on the heels of losing him AGAIN Liz didn't want to bring D.L. into the mix. She continues to toy with her empty glass, coughing wetly into the crook of her arm for a long moment and then rasping a bit as she speaks again. "It always was between you and D.L." She smiles faintly. "But having friends means sometimes with the best of intentions, they run a little interference for you." She shrugs. "I know you take care of business all by yourself, but … why bother when you don't have to?"

There's a long pause, and then Elisabeth says softly, "When you guys came back from 2019, you had to know you were changing everything." She bites her lower lip. "Do you ever wonder if we did the wrong thing, Jess? I mean… it never sounded to me like the future was all that bad."

"Because it has to be done," Jessica reasons simply, a tilt of her head to one side. She doesn't like loose ends, even when she didn't realise they were loose in the first place. Or perhaps especially then. When Elisabeth asks her about her motivations to change the future, however, she sighs. "I don't… know if it was the right thing. It seemed like it at the time. Richard seemed to think it was the way to go. I thought you trusted his will." Blindly is left unspoken, but somewhat implied all the same. "We've done a lot of things that we regret in hindsight. This is no different. But you have to wonder if we didn't end up back there for a reason. I think winding up in 2019 alone changed things, no matter what we did about it when we came back. How couldn't it?"

Elisabeth smiles faintly. She hears the 'blindly.' "I trust Richard because I think he's got a more….. long-term tactical mind than I do. And I function better as a field leader than I do in politics. The trick there is that Richard wasn't working entirely on his own. We had a … road map, of sorts. And the future version of him is still working on a roadmap generated by someone else. Trouble is…. I think the roadmap he's using is because he's…. afraid. The Institute is trying desperately to keep to the timeline as they know it from the future their Richard comes from. We think we may be better off heading into a future no one knows." She pauses and admits softly, "I really hate precog as an ability. A lot."

This is where most people would probably talk about how the future isn't meant to be known, or say something about how there is no road map. Something deep, or profound.

Not Jessica Sanders.

The woman just grunts something like both an affirmative, an acceptance, and a dismissal, and reaches for her friend's glass, stacking it into hers before lifting the pair and pushing away from the table. "I'll get us some refills."

Elisabeth laughs softly. She's well aware Jessica's the wrong person to talk to. But she knows Niki's in there listening too. "Sounds like a plan. Maybe it'll knock me out enough to sleep around this fuckin' migraine," she says mildly. And proceeds to absolutely let Jessica get her shit-faced.

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