A Soundproof Consultation


elisabeth3_icon.gif lance_icon.gif

Scene Title A Soundproof Consultation
Synopsis It's just your everyday consultation between SESA and the NYPD… only everything discussed is far more personal.
Date June 11, 2021

2pm - Agent Gerken - Consultation Request

It may have been a surprise for Elisabeth to find the name of someone so familiar on her schedule for the day, especially since he’s the sort of person who she might rather expect to just show up without making an appointment. As a SESA agent - even a junior one - he could probably even get away with it.

Which means this is either something that needs all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted, or it’s something that he needed to prepare himself to talk to her about. Either way, it’s got to be important for him to have made the appointment in the first place.

The Watchtower
Red Hook

June 11th
1:58 pm

There’s a rap of knuckles on the door to Liz’s office, and the door creaks open enough for Lance’s head to lean into view with a slight raise of both eyebrows and a generally serious expression on his face. A nice grey suit, and even a completely ordinary tie instead of something with a funny print on it. Being all formal today, it seems.

“Hey, Lieutenant, am I early? I can wait outside a couple more minutes– “ He’s making an attempt to sound chipper, but she can tell there’s some kind of strain beneath that faux-cheeriness. He’s anxious, and she can see it in his eyes and the way he’s holding himself, shifting uncertainly in the doorway.

Elisabeth looks up at the knock, and she offers the young agent a small albeit somewhat strained smile in return. Taking note of his formality, she offers him the courtesy of treating the visit as a professional one. “Agent Gerken, it’s good to see you. Come in,” she tells him easily. “I’m actually glad you’re a little early.” It lets her leave the office a bit early, which is a good thing today. “I take it this isn’t a social visit.” His demeanor is too serious for that. “Have a seat, tell me what I can do for you.”

At the invitation, Lance comes in carrying a file folder under one arm. He closes the door behind him carefully, stepping over towards the desk and easing himself slowly down into a chair. “It’s regarding a case from, uh, last September that we both worked on,” he explains, laying down the file carefully on the desk and drawing in a breath before looking at her seriously, “Attempted arson. Searchlight Salvage.”

She might feel a subtle *shift* in the way sound is working in the room, and he adds after a pause, “I know what we’re going to talk about is classified so I’ve set up a screen. Nobody outside the room can hear us, unless there’s a mic in here or something.”

A brow quirks upward, and Elisabeth can’t help the faint grin. She can sense the field he put in place, and she’s impressed by it. “Good job,” she approves. “The person who taught me to do that… it took a little while. Yours is sturdy.” ‘Sturdy’ is definitely a compliment. “There’s never a mic in this office.”

Tilting her head slightly, though, she eyes him thoughtfully. “I remember the case,” she acknowledges slowly. There’s a hint of reticence in her blue eyes. “Have you come up with some better leads on it?” Why it would be classified is not something she’s read in on, but she’s definitely curious.

“I’m not actually an audiokinetic, I don’t control sound, I absorb it,” Lance says with a shake of his head, “And release it– Peter’s been helping me practice– anyway, anyway.” He brings up a hand to brush the topic aside and focus on the matter at hand.

He fixes her with a steady look for a long moment before saying quietly, a bit of tension in his voice, “You knew those girls, didn’t you? You acted like you did. They knew you, too. The problem there, Lieutenant, is that they all died years ago.”

The differences in their abilities are certainly there but it feels pretty similar to how she used to shield. Nowadays hers are a lot more sophisticated. But she nods to Lance’s explanation. “I remember you telling me that your ability wasn’t the same as what I do. It feels similar in some ways, though.” She waves it off, and then goes still when he lays out his information.

There’s a long moment where she has what amounts to a blank expression – carefully neutral, studiously calm as she processes the possibilities here. And what to say to him. “I do know them, yes,” she finally replies. “Given who you are and what you already know, I won’t lie to you about it. I knew their guardian was dead, but I didn’t know the girls’ counterparts were.” Another moment passes and she asks quietly, “I take it they were some of yours?”

Lance takes a deep breath… and then exhales it, his fingers reaching out to brush over the file folder. It’s the file from the arson, but it seems like this is a more personal visit despite everything.

“Eric used to take care of us at the Lighthouse,” he says quietly, “He was Santa to us, just always telling stories and putting on shows. He protected us, he made us laugh when everything was bad. Denisa– Denisa died during the bad winter. Dogs. They– “ He cuts off there, giving his head a tight shake, unwilling to elaborate further. “Mala and Lucy got the evo flu– uh– H5N10. We were all just– just kids.”

He falls silent. Uncertain, maybe, what to say.

The audiokinetic blanches slightly at the information that Denisa died during the bad winter. She has to swallow hard to keep from reacting. She’s lived a couple of very bad winters too. “I’m so sorry, Lance,” Elisabeth says finally. “If I’d realized …” She pauses and sighs heavily. “Shit. I’m just sorry. I didn’t look into the history of all of the people who came home with me.” There were 36 of them. And she had her own personal things to deal with. “I didn’t really even know some of them, though I try to keep tabs just to make sure they’re doing okay. It didn’t even occur to me to think to warn the former Ferry and Ferry-adjacent guardians when I learned Jason’s analog here had ties, and I should have.”

The oversight will bother her a lot, it appears. “I apologize,” she says simply.

“You don’t owe me an apology, I just…” Lance takes a deep breath, then looks back up, focusing on her face with a look that’s almost pleading.

“Are they okay? Did they grow up okay, did they– have anyone?”

"Mala and Lucy were still alive when I left,” said Cash, “As were Juniper, Joe, Paul and Hailey— So if whatever world we had left behind still exists, they exist there too. We lost them here, but— somewhere, they are growing up." Hopefully somewhere good.

"I guess… if there are infinite worlds, they're happy somewhere," says Lance in quiet, thoughtful tones, looking over to the tree, "That's enough."

“Are they– are they happy?”

The local versions of the three lost their childhoods early. They never even got to be teenagers.

"Well…." Elisabeth isn't honestly sure how to answer that. "They seem happy enough… they have each other and Jason. They've been a family for a good while, from what I know." She shrugs just a little. "Jason and Mala and Denisa lived on a boat after their world flooded… I don't know where they were or what their lives were like before that happened. Lucy… she came from another place. A lot worse. I wouldn't say their lives were… easy, but…"

Her expression is a little sad. "Are anyone's ever? The flooded world didn't know a lot about abilities like ours, and people generally just hid them. So… I suspect they just lived with some caution and … I hope that this world turns out to be better for all of them than the other ones." There's a low-key sadness to that comment, as if she worries it isn't. Considering Pure Earth targeted their business, there's probably reason to worry some. At least there's better medical care here…

“We’re working the case now, we’re connecting it to some others and doing interviews,” Lance admits with a glance down to the file folder, picking up on her worry there and chewing on his lower lip briefly, “They’ll be okay. I don’t– I don’t think it was personally targeted.”

He draws in another breath, then exhales it, shoulders dropping, “I’m glad they– have each other. God. Did they know me? Or Joe, or Colette, or– any of us? Were there usses over there?”

Oh … that's a question she wasn't expecting. Probably should have been. Leaning back in her chair, Elisabeth lets out a long breath slowly. "Lucy came from the Wasteland to the Flood with us," she says quietly. "There were always a few who traveled one world to the next each time we jumped." She nibbles her lip and her next words are slower, as if she's choosing carefully. "She was not the only Lighthouse person who came with us. We made the jump from the Wasteland with several… including Jac's analog and … yours. So Lucy knew you, yes. I didn't meet Joe there. I do know Emily Epstein was there – Aura met her."

She pauses and admits, "I'm not sure how much more I should say about that… what happened in that version may not be the story as you know it from the Travelers before."

“The Wasteland?” Lance’s eyes widen a little at the mention of that timeline, clearly hitting a mark somewhere, “I– wait, I went with you? But I– I know about the Wasteland. Cash told me about it. I was there, I– died? In the future? But if I didn’t stay there, how…”

His face screws up in confusion, “…time travel makes my head hurt. But. Fuck. That means they knew who I was, didn’t they? At least Lucy…”

It makes Elisabeth bark out a laugh, she can't help it. "Welcome to the headache of my entire experience, Lance." Dragging a hand through her hair, she sighs. "I don't have an answer to the hows and whys. Things…." She nibbles her lip.

"Let's put it this way – time doesn't work the way we think, nor does time travel. What you know about Wasteland should be static, based on what we understand and based on what an older version of Walter Trafford told me – all of the things they came back to change didn't change anything in their future, when he went back to it. But I'm not sure that it is as static as we thought…. because some very major things got changed in one of the other worlds. Like some of our friends met the future version of me in that world in 2019 when they time-jumped there… except when Magnes and I came through there, that version of me was killed along with that version of Gabriel Gray."

She shakes her head. "If that's the case, how could they have still been alive in 2019 when the other trip happened? So yeah…. I have a lot of headaches trying to sort this mess out." Liz rolls her eyes. "But yes… I expect Lucy knew who you were, although she maybe didn't tweak onto it until after the interviews. I don't know for sure. She didn't say anything to me. And she probably didn't want to confuse things, you know?"

“I already have a headache,” says Lance with a little shake of his head, bringing a hand up to rub over his face, “I’d only just managed to sort out all the Wasteland stuff, I don’t… I think we’ll leave it at that. Yeah. I don’t want to bother her, any of them, I’m sure it’d just be… weird.”

He grimaces, then looks back to her, “Colette took this hard too. You should probably talk to her.”

The grimace on her face holds regret… and exhaustion. "Shit. Okay," Elisabeth replies quietly. "I'll check in with her. And I'll try to warn some of the others discreetly too. Gillian and Abby… " She drags a hand down her face and asks, "Do I need to warn any of your siblings or will you be able to handle it quietly?" Because she flat-out knows he's going to tell them. This is too close to home for them all.

Lance has to tell them. To spring something like this on them when they run into one of the three on the street, or something like that? Sure, he didn’t recognize them… but one of the others might. “I can handle it. It’ll be– less of a shock if I prep them ahead of time,” he shakes his head, “And they’re used to– you know– weird shit.”

Elisabeth's weary snort of amusement is rather indelicate. "You don't say," she observes mildly. Shaking her head, she sighs. "Yeah… definitely warn them. If I had two brain cells to rub together, I would have thought to say something – I knew some of the faces would be familiar, I just… really didn't pay enough attention to where they had ties. I'm really sorry you got blindsided like that, Lance."

She pauses and tells him, "I'll check the list and see if there was anyone else I might need to warn people about." Liz is going to feel bad about this for a bit, but she does offer in a rueful tone, "Considering the lot of you will also be dealing with doppelgängers when Gilly and the others sort out what they're doing, this won't even be the strangest thing that's happened to you this year."

“Yeah,” Lance laughs a bit, shaking his head, “You’re right, there. Too right. I think Brynn’s actually looking forward to– you know– meeting Brynn. Family only gets bigger, after all.”

He offers her a faint smile, and a nod, then shifts to push himself up to his feet, “Thanks, Lieutenant. I’ll talk to the other Keepers and make sure nobody freaks out if they run into them.”

It's a strange world they live in when having a double of yourself or those you love is not even something that makes you blink all that much, Elisabeth muses as he gets ready to go. "Be safe," she tells him.

“I’ll try,” Lance flashes her a grin, roguish, and starts to turn to the door– and then he stops as something else has occurred to him. He glances back, grin fading a little, “Ah– one more thing, and forget I asked afterwards. Do you know any– very *discreet* technopaths, that I could trust for something?”

Now it's The Lieutenant looking at him – or maybe just the soldier – with a wary look. "Poooossibly," she replies slowly. Eisabeth narrows her eyes a little. "Might depend on what you want them for…"

“Can’t say,” Lance admits with a slight wrinkle of his nose, “I mean– I can’t, can’t say. It’s that discreet that I need, I can’t– I can’t even tell you.” One hand comes up to rub against the nape of his neck, “I just need some– cleaning up of some digital footage to remove some information for release.”

A deep breath, “So the people in it don’t get killed.”

Blowing out a slow breath, Elisabeth rocks back in her seat. "I'll see what I can do," is her quiet reply. "Technopaths aren't exactly a dime a dozen…. but I know of a couple of them. If I can get in contact, I'll send them to you as soon as possible." Her blue eyes are intent on the young man. He's one of Brian's kids so she has to believe this is for a good reason. "I can't promise anything, though." She's not sure she can get an answer or that they can do it.

“I know you’ll be discreet, just– uh– I’m people, so–” Lance’s shoulders shift in an uncomfortable shrug, “I trust you though. If you find someone– yeah, send ‘em my way. Thanks.”

A quick, nervous smile, and then he’s moving to the door.

There's a soft sigh and she pinches the bridge of her nose. Yup. One of Brian's kids. "Lance, how short a timetable are we on?" She needs to know how urgent this is in terms of running up the flagpole.

Lance pauses with a hand on the door, taking a long moment to consider the question. “…the more pressure that builds up in a boiler, the worse it is when it goes,” is the answer, before he’s opening the door and ducking out.

She can feel the phonon screen vanish with his departure.


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