A Meeting In The Dark


alexander_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title A Meeting In The Dark
Synopsis Liz wants to feel Alex out about a couple of topics.
Date January 4, 2009

Central Park

There's a part of the park near the little lake so poetically named the Turtle Pond where one of the old statues remains. A Polish king named Jagiello raises two swords to the sky, defiantly. And Al is loitering there in the gathering dusk, bright hair hidden under the black wool cap, in his drab garb of army parka and fatigues and boots. He has his head bowed, as if lost in contemplation, almost huddled in the lee of the base of the statue, smoking - the ebb and flare of the cigarette illuminates his face from time to time, like that of a statue in a cathedral niche.

It's cold tonight. And Elisabeth has to think we're both insane for meeting out in the park. But … she's feeling a little odd, and the outdoor venue just seemed like a good idea when he suggested it. Wearing a heavy black leather jacket and a headband/ear cover to keep her head warm, Liz is just another figure walking the semi-dark paths of the park. As she nears the small lake, she knows exactly where to look and she alerts him to her presence with a quick whistle and a whisper of her voice in his ear with the week's password. Mainly because it amuses her to tickle his ears with the gentle breeze that carries her sound waves and masks her exact location. But she doesn't tease long, a faint smile on her face when she appears in his line of sight. "Hey," she offers.

Alex's head comes up like a hound scenting the wind, and he's momentarily dour before recognition dawns and he grins despite himself. "Hey yourself," he says, quietly, waving her in to the shelter of the base, as if in to an actual room. "What's up, gorgeous?"

There's a faint grin as Liz joins him, shoving her hands into her pockets. "Heh… you know how to make a girl's day, that's for sure." She shrugs a little and says, "I had a conversation that I feel like I oughtta run past you and Conrad… haven't caught up with him though. But you and he and Teo are all sort of like the XOs of the group, and … I'm not real sure what to do with it. I need an ear… and I need it to stay between us. Is that… well, it might be too much to ask, what with me being the newbie here."

"No, not necessarily," Al says, offering her a cigarette from the pack, plucking it delicately from a pocket at his hip. "Try me. I'll keep it in confidence unless necessity demands I bring it before Helena or Teo?" he suggets. "Will that do?"

Elisabeth shakes her head at the offer of a cigarette. "That's one habit I'm NOT picking back up. It was hard enough to quit one time." And then she considers, and nods slowly. "Cat came to see me. She's worried about her own objectivity when it comes to Eileen, and rightly so I think. But she said something to me that had me thinking about what we need for Phoenix, especially in the event that Helena's taken out or some of the other leadership is shifted." She pauses, uncertain how to say it without betraying a confidence and deciding she can't … "Do we even *have* any contingencies on what to do if Helena suddenly drops off the face of the earth, or if one of you guys does?" Let's start there and see where it takes us, she thinks to herself.

"I know Teo is next in line. What the hierarchy is beyond that, I don't know," Al says, letting smoke stream away on the wind. Politely standing downwind from her, lest he get smoke in her eyes. "But you're right. We do need to lay some groundwork there."

Liz grimaces faintly. "That's what I was afraid you were going to say." She sighs, rocking on the balls of her feet. "I haven't talked to him myself, not yet. So bear in mind that this is secondhand from Cat, okay? But she says Teo's pretty much ready to step down. I don't know how much is this thing with Eileen and the clusterfuck that has resulted because of it and his feelings of guilt over her torture and Dani's death…. and how much may be other things." She looks up at him. "I was hoping that you might be able to give me a little insight into what you've seen about his behavior lately, because I'd *really* like to talk to him before he goes and does this." And she gives Alex a stern look in the dark. "And I really NEED you to keep your mouth shut on this one unless HE comes to you or Helena does."

There's that almost equine toss of his head again, as Al takes that in. "Step down?" he says, clearly taken aback. "And…I'm the one who tortured her, Elisabeth. It's not their fault. They forbade me, when they knew what I was doing," he says, utterly matter of fact. "He needs to stay right the fuck where he is. Though if guilt's got its teeth in him, that'd explain some of the weirdness of his behavior recently," he adds, musing.

She's more than a little shocked at his assertion. Liz had no idea Alex was involved in that. She stares at him for a long moment, and says merely, "I see." She has to reassess, perhaps, her opinion of him. She hadn't realized that willingness to torture was in his repertoire. "Well… as I pointed out to Cat… there are at least two sides to every story, and the truth is usually somewhere in the middle." She sighs heavily. "The hierarchy question is pretty major. It needs to be dealt with quickly and immediately, on the just-in-case." She pauses. "Teo needs to do what's right for Teo. I have a feeling that the problem lies in the fact that he may not have realized you'd cross that line, and he feels - as the boss - that it's his responsibility. Helena actually told me Teo was involved in it all, so… is he covering for you?" she asks baldly.

Alex meets her gaze, levelly. There is neither shame nor apology in the blue eyes - something very vital has either faded away from him, or was never there to begin with. Blame Iraq, blame the dark side of the city, blame some essential moral lack that was always there. "Yes, it does. And I don't know precisely what Helena meant. I didn't run it by him, either openly or by implication, and he shut me down when he found me doing it," he notes. "Responsible in that he didn't realize this dog would bite, perhaps. But not beyond that."

Elisabeth nods slowly and studies him. "I have a feeling you're goddamn lucky Teo was the one who found you," she says quietly. "Cuz I'd have kicked your ass from here to hell and back again myself. We haven't hit the 'by any means necessary' line yet, Alex. We may be coming close, but…" She shakes her head, looking away from him to look at the darkness for a long moment. When she looks back, she bites her tongue on anything else that she might have said about it. "The second thing I wanted your thoughts on were in the line of tactics and strategy. We need some people who can wage urban warfare in a more effective manner. You, Conrad… I don't know that I qualify for this, I've never been a soldier. But I met a guy today who might fit into the category. I need some ideas on where to look for military background information outside usual channels."

Al just shakes his head, regarding her from some bitter and unreachable distance. Clearly his understanding of why what he did was wrong is intellectual at the very best, and blatantly humoring his comrades at the very worst. "It's nearly to that point," he says, tone completely flat. "Tactics and strategy to what end, precisely?" he wonders, lowering his head to eye her from under his brows.

Elisabeth might actually be forced to agree, and her expression shows it to him for just a moment. Dani's death at the hands of Volken's group has forced her to alter her perceptions of what's going on out here… as bitter a pill as that is to swallow. "Alex… have you noticed that the top two people *in* this organization are not even out of their teens yet? They don't have street war skills in their background… not yet. And street war skills are what we're going to need if we're going to keep hitting the targets Helena wants to hit. Even being back on the streets for only a couple of weeks, I can tell you that from the OTHER side of this, we can see it brewing. From the Phoenix side, I guess you've seen it all along… but one of the things I noticed is that, as an example, you took and held this girl hostage, tortured her for information, and let her go free. We both know torture is NOT likely to turn a person — they'll say anything you want to hear just to make it stop. So now she's out there, and instead of being an asset, she's pissed. We need cooler heads at the top here to start thinking through these kinds of plans — *YOU* are the head of this part of things." She doesn't have to rail at him, nor is she. She's pointing out that if we're going to do something, it needs to be done well. "I'm kind of hoping that between you, Conrad, perhaps me, and *if* this other guy pans out, him, and whatever other ex-soldier types we've got, we might be able to come up with some better contingencies for what to hit, how to hit it, and general rules of thumb on when. What circumstances need to be in place for it to be workable. Does that make sense?"

And he accepts it with cool aplomb. "Yes," he says, simply, "Thank you. Who's this other guy? And you're right. We do need to figure out what the priority targets are, and do some real work."

Elisabeth looks puzzled. "Thank you for what?" She's not sure she's done anything useful at this point. "He's an ex-Marine, and my new partner. Came in today and first thing out of his mouth is that Linderman needs his size thirteen up his ass." She smirks faintly. "He's all about people's civil rights. But … he could be a plant, too. To feel out other people on their views." She shrugs. "Mine are well known, so he won't get much useful out of me. I want to keep an eye on him for a bit."

"You mean, cop partner? Or…?" Al's not following all that accurately, apparently. "And well, could be, too."

With a laugh, Liz replies softly, "Yeah, Alex… my cop partner. I don't have any other kind of partner. Or…. well, I *do*, sometimes. But that's sort of outside the scope of this conversation, wouldn't you think?"

The flame of the cigarette can't excuse the sudden ruddiness on Al's cheeks. "I wasn't getting into your personal life," he says,stiffly. "I meant, I didn't know if you'd paired up with someone else in PHOENIX."

And now she laughs harder. "You know… for a guy who walks up and calls me gorgeous, you're awfully easy to embarrass," Elisabeth teases lightly. "I didn't even know Phoenix had a system of pairing people up. I have a handler… Sergei. And he's unreachable for the moment." Cuz Liz got him shot. "But no, I was referring to the guy who just transferred onto SCOUT and has been assigned as my partner." She reaches out and shoves his arm. "If you wanna ask about my personal life, ask. If it's not your business, I'll tell you."

Al snorts. "No need to pry," he says, a touch wryly. "Just so long as you're doin' well. Nothin' bad happen of late? I mean, beyond being shot. That's plenty bad enough."

Elisabeth shrugs at him, a good-natured smile on her face. "Let's just say that I'm not going wanting in any categories at the moment." She sighs heavily. "OH, there's plenty of bad. Promise. Mostly, though, I was hoping for your input on Teo. I really want to talk to him myself about this. But it sounds to me like you're pretty clueless too." She runs a hand through her hair.

"He and I are…..we're still comrades. On a personal level, not so close as we were. Things've been rocky," Al admits, after a moment's hesitation.

Tilting her head, Liz's tone is sympathetic but direct. "Why? The Eileen thing or something else?"

Alex raises his gaze to hers, rather than let it wander nervously around the cracked pavement of the walkway. "Nah. I can't go into it. We're still a team, don't worry. That didn't help, though. She fucked him up but good. We had a real numbnuts on guard duty, left her something she turned into a weapon, and she damn near shanked Teo. Cut him up."

Elisabeth nods. "I heard about it, yeah. Alex…. " She pauses. "Seriously… if I'm gonna help him, I need to know what's going on. I'm either in or out, I can't keep skating the fringes. Talk to me. Please? Teo's hurting, and I'd really like to help."

"I'm saying I'm not the one to talk to," Al insists, gently. "He and I have a bit of distance between us. You're in, doll. This is just personal, do you see? Not Phoenix business."

THere's a slow nod. "All right, then. I'll leave it alone." Elisabeth sighs and looks around the dark park. "There've been a couple days lately when I wish I hadn't insisted Sergei bring me in."

His expression is sympathetic. "It's rough, I know," he says, quietly. "And you can walk away, if you need to. You know that. No one will coerce you - this ain't the Mafia."

There's a grin. "No… it isn't the Mafia. It's just the only game in town that's not running about killing innocents." She gives him a pointed look. "Right?"

Al just looks bland in return. "'s why I'm with them and not PARIAH," he says, lazily, flicking away the stub of his cigarette to let it hiss out in the snow, and jamming his hands back in his pockets.

Elisabeth nods slightly. "Yeah… me too." And then she smiles a little. "You realize that I'm gonna hold you to a higher standard, right?" Shoving her hands deeper into her pockets, she turns to go ahead and leave him alone. "I mean, if we're working together and such."

It doesn't seem to dismay him. "No. Honey, I know what happened with that girl….it won't happen again." There's finally a shadow of contrition on his face, though it's nothing near what it should be.

Elisabeth looks up at him, and the shadow seems to be all she really needed to see. "I know it won't. I have faith in you." Maybe it's stupid. But she does. "See you soon, okay? And Alex?" She looks at him over her shoulder. "It doesn't change my opinion of you in the slightest. If you were serious about our last conversation… look me up. I'll see what I can do about helping you get back in. We could use a few more people who'll bust heads." She smiles in the dark. "Later." And then she heads out.

January 5th: Falling Away With You
January 5th: Agnus Dei
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License