Back Seat Surprises


colette_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Back Seat Surprises
Synopsis Colette finds a way to confront Elisabeth Harrison about what was said to Cat after a few days of watching her patterns.
Date January 22, 2011

Battery Park City

Quarter past five in the evening, and there's still some daylight left in the sky. Winter, despite what it might feel like at times, will eventually end.

Three stories up from the street in the cold, concrete walls of the parking garage closest to the Redbird Security Solutions building, the clack of Elisabeth Harrison's shoes echoes soundly. Each footstep is a tiny percussion beat that reverberates off of tightly packed cars rows together like sardines, only one of which has tail lights flashing from the touchof a finger on the remote unlocking mechanism on her keychain. The soft chirp of her car alarm disengaging comes right before the sound of a car door opening and closing, echoing quieter than the footfalls of her shoes on concrete through the parking garage, the direction it had come from indiscernable in the echoing mess of noises.

Approaching her car, Elisabeth can see the fading daylight between the skyscrapers outside of the parking garage; New York is lit up like a Christmas tree. Windows of bright yellow, flashing red lights atop tall buildings, and a single beacon of light shining up from Ground Zero in Midtown. New York is still a city of lights, even if it isn't a city that never sleeps any longer. The old girl has gotten tired in her age.

A muted reflection of Elisabeth casts cross the car as she walks in front of it, ceiling lights in the parking garage reflecting off the roof and hood, glaring on the windshield. The walk from Redbird to her car always gives her time to think. Think about the day, think about tomorrow, maybe even the day after that if she's feeling ambitious.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

As she walks, the audiokinetic actually marveling at something far more personal than the lights of the city… she can feel the waves of sound around her. A wash of a low hum that prickles across her skin as cars drive below or above. The chirp of the alarm makes her smile a little, its sharp, high note a distinct difference in the lower, more gentle constant sound waves of background noise. And it's only just begun returning to her — like regaining your hearing after a period of being deaf.

It's automatic that she should glance around the parking garage, aware of her surroundings. She's a woman walking alone in a parking garage in New York. Even with martial law on the streets, that's simply begging to get mugged. But seeing nothing out of the ordinary, she opens the door of her champagne-colored Toyota. Driving her own car is something of a luxury — she rarely bothers, but she knew she'd be off the base close to curfew tonight so she picked it up from the Dorchester garage. Dropping the pocketbook she carries into the passenger seat, she puts the key into the ignition and starts the car, locking the doors automatically. Only then, in the instant between when the engine catches and the radio begins blasting Would you kill to save a life? out of the speakers, does she catch the low thrum of a sound that it entirely out of place. The regular «whoosh, whoosh» of a heartbeat not her own.

It's that recognition of someone else's heartbeat that precedes the warning of, "Please don't freak out, Liz," from the back seat of the car where no one is sitting. The voice, even over the sound of the radio, is familiar. It's been a long while since Elisabeth has seen Colette Nichols, but the videos she had delivered to Cardinal prior to the riots had her voice in all of them. How many times had Cardinal been watching those videos, looking for something he couldn't find? Colette's voice is familiar enough.

"Just— can you drive like normal? I'm sorry…" Between the passenger and driver's seat, a face begins to take shape. Indistinct at first, like rippled glass hiding something beneath. But soon the outline of a young woman's face; pale as a ghost with dark circles beneath her eyes, comes into clearer view. Just her face, like some detatched theater mask floating disembodied in view of Elisabeth's rear-view mirror.

"I didn't know any other, safer way to get in touch with you." It never was a concern before, for Colette. Times have changed that.

Immediately reaching out to shut the radio down, Elisabeth's adrenaline is sky-friggin-high. But the voice gives an instant relief to her. "Jesus fucking Christ, Colette! You scared the shit out of me!" Both hands on the wheel! Both hands on the wheel, dammit! Liz sucks in several deep breaths to try to calm the fight-or-flight reaction. Blowing out a breath, she nods slightly.

Her hands put the car into gear, a bit shakily, and Elisabeth backs out of the parking space and starts to drive. "Have you heard from Demsky?" she demands softly. "I heard he got picked up, but only well after the fact. Are you okay?" There's worry for all of them. "What do you need, kiddo?" Because she will do anything she can for Colette.

"That's why I'm here," Colette quietly murmurs near Elisabeth's shoulder, her face rippling like disturbed water and slowly fading from view. "I don't know what happened t'him, 'cept that he got picked up by an Army Colonel named Heller. No one in his department knows what happened to him, there's been no official paperwork filed. They made him disappear and I— " Colette's voice hitches in the back of her throat, and Elisabeth can hear the rustling of her clothing and the creak of leather in the back seat.

"I talked to Cat a couple days ago, she said you'd seen Tamara outside of the Institute. I— I didn't want to believe her. I thought— I thought she might come t'me first, but…" But after what happened on the 8th, Colette has some shadow of doubt as to their ability to be together, of one's trust for the other thanks to Colette's inability to trust. "I wanted t'hear it from you. She— she said that you told her Tamara looked— looked lucid. Like, sane." There's a hitch in the back of Colette's throat, a soft, weak noise and another awkward creak of leather.

"Last I knew the Institute had her," the teen barely manages to mutter without sounding wholly miserable. She's lost two members of her family, now, in such a short amount of time. And not even lost them in ways that would allow her to greive. Emotional purgatory, it's a worse fate.

Oh shit. Elisabeth hits the brakes briefly, and she takes a right turn down a lesser traveled street. "No.. I saw Eve. Eve saw Tamara, though." She grimaces. "Christ, did I say Tam? I might have. I've been exhausted," she admits. "I'm so sorry, Colette — I wouldn't have given false hope or anything. For what it's worth, Eve did say Tamara is all right. And I know for certain that the guy running the Institute is a complete asshole, but he won't hurt Tamara."

Silence, save for the fluttering beat of Colette's heart in the back seat, hastened by both emotion and startle from Elisabeth's hitting of the brakes. A moment later, there's a metal-on-metal clicking sound as Colette buckles up for the sake of not going through the windshield if that happens again or at a faster speed.

Cat, in all her wisdom, was wrong. So often Colette had assumed that knowledge meant infalliability, which made the sting of Cat's assertion hurt all the more, because if Cat was right — and she usually is — it would have meant that Tamara didn't go to Colette first. That, more so than anything else, is where the anger came from. Unfortunately, it was all based ona misunderstanding. Whoever Eve is, Colette knows it isn't who she wants it to be, though with every fresh disappointment, there is that kernel of hope.

"Where— " Colette's voice croaks, and Elisabeth can hear the hiccupped sound of someone struggling to not sound like they're crying. Invisibility can only hide so much. "Where'd… Eve? Where'd she see Tamara?" There's hope, against hope, that perhaps it's anywhere but where Colette presumes she is.

Wherever that is in her mind; it sort of looks like Mount Doom, for lack of a visual reference.

"Eve is a precog who works for me… at least insofar as any precog works for anyone," Elisabeth replies gently. Her driving levels out now that they're on smaller, less well traveled streets. "She was picked up by the Institute months ago and I was allowed to go see her there. The day I got there is the day they brought Tamara in, from what I gather. Eve stayed up there to be sure that Tamara was okay. She wouldn't have left if she were in any danger, Colette. That much I promise you." She sighs heavily. "I know it's not the best news, kiddo, but she's okay. If you want, I'll tap some contacts just to double check. But I know that they weren't intending on hurting her." Her voice is bitter. "They need her too much."

Colette's breath shudders in and out on that realization, and that Elisabeth has been in the same building causes her heart rate to pick up the pace again. Swallowing nervously, Colette remains silent as Elisabeth follows the narrow, one-way street eastward out of Battery Park City and into the Financial District, avoiding the congestion of Wall Street entirely.

"You don't need t'do that," Colette says in a hushed voice, leaning back against thr seat, causing the cushions to depress around the shape of a body that isn't visible. "I— I'd like t'know where it is she is. Where they're keeping her… what that place's like. If you've been inside, I— anything you might be able t'tell me. 'Cause— " Colette's voice hitches in the back of her throat.

"'Cause she ain't safe. Not there, not— not ever. I won't— that's not an answer. So— so if you can help me there, it'd be a lot t'me." Elisabeth's heard that sort of quiet desperation enough times, seen it too, though much less apt here. That the audiokinetic is forced to rely on her strongest sense when dealing with Colette is a more apt challenge, an entirely verbal conversation for someone who's business is sound.

"You can't get in there," Elisabeth says quietly. "Believe me, I've already been working on that, but to attempt a full-on break-in right now is suicide. The front man running the place …. think of Brian and how his duplicates work. We're in a situation where that's the case, only that person is near the top of the food chain in there. They run their own team of Horizon suits out of the complex, and to put it quite bluntly I'm pretty sure the ones they're using are more advanced than the ones I can get my hands on. Anyone who goes in there with an Evo ability is screwed right from the start because they've got Tyler Case working for them in there, as well." She sighs heavily. "I'm not advocating leaving her there by any stretch. But getting her out is going to be an operation most likely best handled with a scalpel — a surgical strike, Colette — not an all-out assault. We'll lose. And we could lose Tamara in the bargain. The place is built similar to Cheyenne Mountain, intended with withstand a tactical nuke."

She glances into the rearview and says softly, "I know how hard this is. And believe me when I say to you that we're not going to give up, Colette." Elisabeth bites her lip. "It's war. It's not as simple as a smash-and-grab. And if you treat it like it is — if you dont' listen to those of us who have the tactical minds on the situation — you're just going to play right into their hands."

"We both know a few people who aren't afraid of nuclear weapons," Colette gruffly asserts, as if she knows better — and at her age that tone isn't surprising. "I didn't ask you for a lecture, I asked you to tell me where it was. This isn't my first time doing something like this, y'know. Who did Francois go to when he needed help getting Teo out of the Institute facility in Braintree? Me. Who'd the Ferry go to when we hit the hospital? Me. Who was it that helped get your team inside of Pinehearst? Me."

Arrogance, pride and anger all boil together in an ugly stew of raw emotions and heedless thinking. "All I asked was for you t'tell me where it was is that so— so fucking hard!?" Her voice cracks at that, and despite her sharp tone, Elisabeth can hear what the anger and other sick emotions are masking. The fear of a young girl of something she has absolutely no control over.

Elisabeth shakes her head and says quietly, "Yes. It is that hard. I can't tell you where it is. They were very good at keeping things secure." She doesn't outright lie and say she doesn't know where it is, but she implies it heavily. "I know that it's got to be somewhere near MIT, but that's all I can tell you." There is sadness in her tone.

That Colette has to stop to get a hold of her breathing indicates the level of emotional disconnect she's suffering from at the moment. A few muffled sniffles and a difficult swallow comes around the same time that Elisabeth notices the faint and lingering sink of cigarettes hanging in her car now. Not that someone had been smoking in it, but that someone who reeks of smoke is in it now. Colette is picking up bad habits father than someone like Sylar picks up abilities.

"MIT, that's— Cambridge. A'right…" Massachusetts geography isn't as fresh in her mind as New York is, but the broad strokes like where MIT's campus is are still tucked away back there in the cobwebbed portions of her memory. "Do you know a way that I could get in touch with Richard without having to go by his work? I dunno where he lives, but— shit's gone fucking insane and I need to talk to him. I heard— heard about something going on in Midtown. Some kinda' military drones or something…" Steering herself away from the painful topic of Tamara, Colette steadies her breathing finally.

"Heller's people are watchin' for me. I don't carry a phone anymore. I— I can't risk getting hm in trouble just by walkin' in, invisible or not." It's easier to focus on the more immediate problem now, rather than the Institute that seems like such a distant issue. Colonel Heller is a more tangible, more mortal threat.

"Steer clear of Midtown as much as you can. There are military drones in there equipped with Evo detection equipment from what we can tell. And steer very clear of Heller. Horizon armor shows up where any of you are, run like hell," Elisabeth says tersely. Not out of anger but worry for the girl. "Tell me what time you can get to the Nite Owl. I'll send Richard there at the time you specify. We've been using it as a meeting place lately, it won't look odd for him to be there."

The Nite Owl has a unique memory for Colette, none of which are good. The last time she'd been there, she was hit by a car skidding through a snowy intersection. But an opportunity is an opportunity. "Monday, I can be there. Let's say… fuck, Richard's a night owl himself, ain't he? Uh, let's say seven at night, before curfew but after he's up." Shifting noisily in the back seat, Colette unbuckles and Liz can hear the disturbance of her leaning forward between the two front seats.

"Pull over there, before you pull back out onto the main street. There's a subway station a block from here I can use to get around." And in these narrow one-way back streets, there's less likely a chance that anyone will seen a car door open and close all on its own. "Monday, seven PM," Colette reiterates, swallowing noisily afterward. "And— thanks. For— for clearing shit up and…" Putting up with her goes unsaid.

Slowing the car carefully, Elisabeth turns around. "Anytime, Colette. If you need me…. my number's still the same. Call me from a pay phone and leave me a time and date. I'll meet you at the Nite Owl if you need me."

As the car comes to a stop next to a curb laden with garbage covered by plowed snow, the rear door to the car opens partway, letting in a gust of cold air. "Sorry about— spooking you," Colette admits in a small voice, the springs in her sear groaning as she gets up and scoots across the back seat of the car and sets her boots down in the snow outside.

Easing herself out of the car, Liz can see her silhouette briefly defined by how she bends and distorts steam coming up through a sewer grate in the street. The girl's body ripples and shimmers like nigh invisible water brought to life, before the door swings shut without so much as a goodbye. Two meetings now, with only the prospect of more meetings beyond that, not a step closer to saving her father or Tamara in Colette's eyes.

Now it'll be a race to see who can help her put the thumb-screws into Heller faster.

Cardinal or Messiah.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License