Alive And Well


curtis_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Alive and Well
Synopsis Running into old friends.
Date February 11, 2019


Elmhurst is bustling. People coming and going. Street vendors shouting about their wares. There's even a few food stands set up by people who have managed to get a solid line on food supplies. There's a hot dog cart. An honest to god New York hot dog cart that's been set up just a block or so down from the Add-a-Ball. The buns he's using aren't the commercial kind, they've been gotten from a local bakery that's managed to get up and running. Curtis is stopped there, standing in line a couple spots back from ordering. He's dressed in simple black BDUs and is just watching people. Others are huddling into their coats, and sure he's cold, but he's enjoying being out amongst the people. His eyes are alert, tracking everyone around him coming and going which is a LOT of people. But he's relaxed, mostly, and just waiting for his turn in line to get a dog. He tips his head back a bit breathing out, watching his breath mist and trail up into the air for a second or two before the cold claims the heat away and the steam vanishes. When the vendor calls next he steps forwards and orders a couple of hot dogs with all the fixings and steps away with a couple of kraut, onion and mustard laden hot dogs clutched in his hand.

They say smell is the most reliable trigger of memories. A scent can bring back not just the memory itself but can trigger the emotions that came with it. Wearing a heavy jacket and a pair of heavy black slacks, Elisabeth is making her way through what is — at present time — one of the most habitable areas of the Safe Zone. The smell of the hot dog cart has brought a lot of people in this direction, if only out of nostalgia. It's a smell she hasn't smelled in two years or so, and like the others, the blonde is drawn toward it. She's not your typical resident of the Safe Zone — obviously she's new here, taking everything in. But she's also on pretty high alert, aware of the movements of the people around her and generally keeping situationally aware. Her blue eyes take in the faces of those around as well. She doesn't initially spot him — but of course, she wasn't looking, either.

Curtis is also different. Both from the past versions of himself she'd have known, and from the Bright version. He's got a full beard at the moment. It's trimmed and well kept, but full, and he's let his hair grow out. It's a couple inches long maybe even a bit longer, and though it's currently swept back it's far from the military reg fade he used to bear. He stands to the side, his eyes alert, watching people around him. It's been a long time since he's seen Liz, so he doesn't recognize her immediately either, his eyes flickering past her a couple of times as he finds a spot of wall to lean against nearby, putting his back to something solid so he can give a little more focus on the food he's obtained. He's busy munching his way through the first hot dog when his eyes move back to the line and settle there, his attention lingering on the familiar face. It takes him a good several seconds to recognize Liz. Shorter hair, age and everything Liz has been through means it takes a few moments. But he does and his eyes blink very slowly, then widen a little bit, then narrow in suspicion, rather rapidly running the mill of reactions and emotions. He doesn't approach her, not while she's standing in line, though if she's paying attention to her surroundings his scrutiny is sure to get noticed. He waits though, for her to get her food.

She pauses to consider the line — it's a little long. And it's evident when she decides against it. As she turns to just take in the ambience of the area, there's that little prickle that says someone's watching. He can see the faint heightened awareness, as if such scrutiny is potentially dangerous. So when her blue eyes meet his across the 20 or so feet between them, she's guarded and ready for a fight. It takes her long moments of studying his face before her brow furrows slightly. The beard and hair throw her. And then her expression slowly eases and she offers a half-smile. Ducking her head just a little, she starts toward the wall where he leans, since it's out of the flow of traffic.

She hesitates just outside his arm's reach, seeking words to offer, and settles on, "Not sure I like the beard."

Curtis remains against the wall his eyes tracking her, seeing how long it takes her to notice. He's taken note of her heightened awareness. Head on a swivel. His own tips to the side, a curious look but also a very confused one settling on the soldier's face. As she draws closer he offers out the second hot dog, still steaming as it hasn't had time to cool yet. His eyes studied her closely as she approached, and with her close he seems to relax a little bit, his attention shifting to watching their surroundings. "Less recognizable with it." He offers by way of explenation. The black BDU's are largely undecorated except for the wolfhound crest stitched into the sleeves at the shoulder in black thread, so not terribly noticeable unless someone is close by. He finishes off his hot dog and folds the wrapper up, tucking it into his pocket until he finds a trash can. "You're not dead." He remarks in a dry but inquisitive tone. "Last I heard that little shit sucked you into a singularity."

Scuffing her shoe on the concrete beneath them, Elisabeth offers a slow shrug with one of those small smiles she used to give when he was onto something but she couldn't say. "Not dead… just took a while to get home again," she offers, amused. Reaching out to take the proffered hot dog, she smells it with every evidence of enjoyment, her eyes closing a moment. "Been a long time since I had one of these."

Taking the final steps to lean against the wall next to him, her shoulder touching his, she says quietly, "How've you been? I'm still doing a little scrambling to catch up on what I missed…" She looks up at him and grins a little. "The patch tells me you're still doing something soldiery."

Curtis dusts his hands of any remaining bun crumbs or anything, then tucks them back into the pockets of his jacket, thumbs hooking against the outside of the pocket. He leans back, a faintly amused smile pulling at his lips as he watches Liz take in the scent of the hot dog. His head tips slightly. "Same. I mean sure I can get hot dogs in Rochester. But nothing is ever the same as a street vendor dog in New York City." Curtis goes quiet for a time, letting Liz ask her questions, he just studies her, eyes looking for signifiers that she's not actually her perhaps? There's a slow breath in, that's held for a handful of moments, and then more before he finally lets it out in a long sigh. "I've survived. Where a lot of others didn't." There's a roteness to that answer that says it's a pretty standard one for him. I've survived. It tells a story, but it also hides parts of that story as well. "Don't know who I'd be without the fight." He admits to her remark on the Wolfhound patch. "How does one come back from being sucked into a black hole?" There's a quick bark of a laugh from Curtis and his head shakes. "The science community is going to be dumbfounded."

She takes a bite of the hot dog and chews it quietly, her blue eyes skimming the crowd. Head still on that swivel. It's not obvious that she slips a one-way silence field around them — he can still hear everything around them, they just can't hear the conversation. "I understand that feeling, although I almost managed to escape… for a little while," Elisabeth says after she swallows. "It was just an intermission."

Propping one foot back on the wall, she considers her words. "I suppose if one were to do such a crazy science-fictiony kind of thing, it might be by figuring out how to do in reverse whatever got them sucked into it in the first place? But I bet that would take a long time… and a lot of luck. And I bet a lot of people might get hurt along the way, so I suppose someone who did that would be grateful to come back. And I'm certain that the US government would have all kinds of nondisclosure agreements that had to be signed so that such a thing would be classified into eternity. Don't you think?" She quirks a brow at him, her smile holding a wicked edge.

"Should have taken the escape." Curtis remarks in a softer tone, his head tilting back, eyes watching his misted breath again, if only for a second or two before his attention is once again on the press of people moving around Elmhurst. "Starting to look like a city again and not a refugee camp parked in the ruins of New York. Been a long time working it's way up to this." He crosses one leg over the other at the ankle, leaning his weight into the wall in a relaxed position. Curtis side eyes Liz as she talks in the hypothetical like that, and at the end he lets out a loud snort and his eyes roll heavenward. "God save us from the government and their secrets."

He's still a bit longer, simply breathing and watching the world go by. "You okay?" He finally asks after letting the silence stretch a little over long. His head is turned, his eyes focusing on her and not on what's around them, searching over her features. "Not a clone? Or a robot? Or an alternate you? Or… you know there shouldn't be any more options than that." He cuts himself off with a faint but dry laugh. "There are more options than that. But there shouldn't even be those options." He sighs in a sad sort of amusement. "How are you settling in?"

Swallowing another bite of hot dog, Elisabeth then confesses softly, "Wish it were that simple" with regard to the advice to take the escape. She blows out a slow breath and then laughs. "The fact that we live in a world where such possibilities exist, along with any other crazy-ass thing you can think of, is definitely redefining the word 'outlandish'." Her gaze on him softens and she says, "I'm okay. Not a clone, not a robot, not an alternate me. And I guess I'm settling in okay. Trying to get my feet under me. I have no fucking clue how to actually put my life back together here. It's… I don't want the fight anymore. I don't want to go back to what I was doing before, so… it leaves me at loose ends in terms of what I *do* want. And in some ways, I'm still waiting for it all to be taken away again. But I'm told that feeling will pass."

"Not a shape shifting serial killer? Cuz you know… I've survived Sylar. What you got?" There's a faint smile that ghosts his lips for a few seconds before relaxing back into simple neutrality. "It'll pass? What kind of hallmark shit is that? Your feelings of being displaced from your world will pass." Curtis rolls his eyes again and his head is given a slow shake. "I imagine it will be a long time before you don't feel that way. If ever. But… it's good to see you. It was funny. When I heard you were gone my exact reaction was that it would take a fucking black hole to take you down. Turns out? It didn't." Another faint chuckle, and a scrape of brick on thick canvas as he shifts a bit against the wall, pushing up to stand a bit straighter, then switching which leg his weight is braced on. "I wouldn't even try to put your life back together. Fuck it. Leave the pieces on the floor. Build yourself something new rather than trying to salvage the old. You deserve it."

She laughs at him. "Not a shape-shifting serial killer either. Promise." Her nose wrinkles… because it is a kind of Hallmark shit. She knows better than anyone how long it will take to feel settled. "Well, like I said… the first step in that process is figuring out what I want to do with myself. I'm actually… giving some thought to going into teaching again. Teaching powers, instead of music." She shrugs slightly. "Not sure I want to teach kids, though. Maybe adults. We'll see."

When she finished the hot dog, she holds the crumpled paper in her hand while she chews it. Then she asks, "Are you enjoying what you do? Up in Rochester?"

Curtis smiles and dips his head forwards in a slight nod. "I suppose I have no choice but to believe you. For now." There's a wink from the soldier, a moment of levity before he listens to her talk of becoming a teacher. "Didn't know you taught music in the past." Curtis remarks, his head turned to the side to look at Liz more directly. "Teaching is a good profession. Teaching people to control their powers is a pretty worthy cause." Curtis is silent for a few seconds. "Doesn't really sound like you though. But then I guess I haven't seen you in over seven years. And a hell of a lot can change in that time." He pushes off from the wall, not to walk off, he stands in place and shifts his weight from foot to foot a little bit. He stills at the question that he's asked, looking perplexed by the question. "Enjoying what I do?" He asks as if he doesn't quite understand the question she's asked of him despite it being a pretty clear question.

Tilting her head as he studies her, Elisabeth is a little amused. "Well…. I've had a somewhat varied career. Started as a cop, left the force to avoid Registration and taught at Washington Irving High School for a couple years. The Vanguard is actually the reason I went back to law enforcement. We only got some of my kids out before the building blew." She pulls in a breath. "A lot of my life sort of stems from that event, I guess. I needed justice for them. And then… I just needed justice in general. Being a cop was all I ever wanted anyway." She shrugs. "After 7 years away…. half of them fighting wars over and over again, I need a break." There's a pause. "And yes, Curtis…. do you enjoy your work?" That makes her grin and she shakes her head. "If the answer's no…. maybe you should rethink it. Life's too fucking short as it is."

"I… didn't know that." Curtis admits in regards to Liz's history. His features pull into a sad sort of frown that holds for a few moments before he speaks again. "We never really… got to sit down. Talk. Get to know each other like that before. Everything was such a mess. One crisis after another after another. And then… you were gone. We fought a civil war. A bad one. Any civil war is bad but this was…" Curtis goes quiet, mulling over his words. "Being a cop is a good calling. Protect and serve. I understand very well." He pauses again as she repeats her question. "I'm not sure that enjoy has anything to do with it. It's who I am. And it's where I need to be. I don't know that there's anything more than that right now. Maybe one day something different. But right now?" His head shifts to the right, then the left in a simple shake. "I'm glad you're back. Glad you survived though I'm sure there's a lot of story to the surviving. Maybe sometime you can tell me about it. Grab a beer or something. I'll bring Felix. Though I'm sure you'll see him well before that. He's in Wolfhound too. Old dog still has a lot of fight in him. He's tired though. Maybe you can convince him to retire."

Elisabeth shrugs a little bit and replies softly, "No… we really didn't have that chance. And I didn't trust many people." She listens to him explain where he needs to be, and there's understanding in her blue eyes. It was where she needed to be for a long time too.

When he says he'll bring Felix, it brings her straight up off the wall. "He's with you? Jesus Christ… Richard didn't know where he was, where I could find him." She covers her mouth for a moment, biting back perhaps a thousand questions. "Curtis… don't give him a heart attack, but please…. ask him to come to RayTech for me? I don't want to just show up on him in Rochester and cause problems. But I…. need to see him." There was always something between the two, it was obvious to the squad that their friendship had bonds that were forged deep.

"You had no reason to trust u-me." Curtis huffs out a breath and lets a faint and sad sort of smile tug at the corner of his mouth. "I was Ash. Then I was Curtis and it was a mess. An absolute mess. You had zero reason to trust me. And you were right not to do so." His shoulders roll beneath his jacket and he's about to say something else when Liz comes off the wall and Curtis takes a step back thinking that there's something happening, his head turning to look around them and… no? No. There's nothing happening. He just caught her off guard. He looks back in time to catch what Liz is saying though and dips his head. "Here." He reaches into his pocket and pulls out his cell phone. "I'll send him a text message now. Want me to ask him to meet me at Raytech? Or tell him that Richard needs him?" He'll wait to see exactly what Liz wants him to send to Felix Ivanov and then he'll send it off. "When I get back to Rochester tomorrow I'll make sure he got the text and I'll impress upon him to get his butt over there quick like." There's a second of hesitation that stretches into a few. "He's different Liz. We all are. The war changed him. Also some sort of injury that caused some memory loss. Be patient with him. He'll remember you, but might not remember all the specifics. But here let me give you his number too. Assuming you have a phone already that is? I mean Richard is flush these days."

"Uhm… Yeah. How to word this so it's not going to fuck with him," Elisabeth says, her blue eyes shadowed now by worry for Felix. "How about, just …. tell him Richard needs him to come to RayTech, and to give his name at the front desk. I'll…. I'll leave instructions there that they're to send him to my place." It's maybe not the best way to handle it, but she's not sure how else to do it either. She pulls her cell phone from her pocket and hands it to him. "Here…. put yours and his in there?" She'd forgotten she had it. It's been a while.

Curtis takes Liz's phone and punches in his number and Felix's as well before he hands it back. Then he resumes typing. "Ran into someone from Raytech and they mentioned that Richard has been looking to get a hold of you for awhile. It's something urgent that he'd like to speak with you about as soon as possible. Sounded pretty important." He reads aloud the text he's sending, then sends it off before he tucks the phone back into his pocket. "There you go. I…" Curtis thinks over his next words for a bit. "I think a light went off in his world when you were taken from it. Left the world that much more bleak and desolate for him. I think knowing you're alive again will make a world of difference for him. And I'm not being hyperbolic there. I honestly think it will have a huge impact on his happiness. Maybe you can convince him to retire. Be part of Redbird or something. He's a good guy and I'd miss having him at my back. But I'd be happier knowing he's happy."

When she takes her phone back, she calls his phone with it so that her number is in his phone as well. Then Elisabeth just nods a little bit to what's said. "I… wish that I could tell you everything that went on over those years, Curtis. But honestly, you'd just shake your head." She grins a little bit. "In some ways, it wasn't so different than being here." But she also nods to his commentary on Felix. "Maybe I can, I don't know. Hell… maybe he'd be interested in going back to the NYPD. Richard told me they were working on opening it up again, so it's not martial law around here anymore. He always did like being an investigator."

Blowing out a long breath, Elisabeth hesitates and says, "I'm … not entirely sure I even want to ask about the rest of them. I want to know what happened to everyone, and then I kind of don't. Because until you tell me for sure, they're all still alive and doing okay."

"I know what happened to some. But not others. When you're ready we can sit down, have that beer. You can even bring Richard's smug face." It's said good naturedly this time. In the past he'd have meant it. This time it's said with only half seriousness. He and Richard will probably never be friends, but he doesn't actively dislike the guy anymore. "There is a lot to catch up on. And you've already got enough on your plate. I'm sure you've left friends behind wherever you were. No need to add to that pile of emotional baggage just yet. Settle in, take some time. But when you're ready? Give me a call. I'm around. As long as Wolfhound isn't revving up for an active mission I should be able to get into the city. And the missions are coming fewer and farther between these days. Less and less war criminals to track down. Don't know what that's going to mean for me but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. It's.. really good to see you. Good to know some of the best of us actually did make it."

"I would love that, Curtis," Elisabeth tells him sincerely. She reaches out briefly, touching his arm. They weren't close, but he was one of hers once upon a time. And she's genuinely glad both to see him alive and well and to have the opportunity to renew or create friendships with at least a few of the people she does know. As she searches his face thoughtfully, she actually blushes a bit at the compliment and a smile quirks her lips. She doesn't know what to say to it, so instead she just says, "I'm sure even if Wolfhound's only charter is to bring in war criminals there will come a point where they'll work out a new charter for it. They won't want to lose their talented men and women — I'd bet on it."

For a moment, she's caught in the past, another Curtis, another casual conversation, another place and time. She thinks they were friends… they'd seemed like friends. At least casual ones. She shakes it off quickly and gives a light squeeze of his forearm, holding up the hotdog paper with a grin. "Thanks for lunch. I will definitely look forward to seeing you more."

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