Bait and Trap


elisabeth_icon.gif francois_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Bait and Trap
Synopsis Three of Charlie discuss the option of killing a bird with two stones.
Date April 9, 2010

Greenwich Village: West 11th Street: Francois' House

Piles of snow lines West 11th like a puckered seam along the cleared road, gleaming white long after the sun has set, reflecting any light possible. The curtains are drawn against this sight, however, visual insulation against the cold and it's— warm inside. Elisabeth's coat hangs near the door to drip snowfall onto the immediate wooden floor, and she's ushered towards the living space, which has incomplete selection of books on the shelves, a set of furniture that looks only partially lived in, and a hearth that has a fire in it.

She's been given coffee for no other reason than to warm her hands directly on something, although it probably tastes good too. Passed over the counter in the kitchen, Francois is currently content to steal an unfinished bottle of red from the fridge to pour for himself, though he tilts it at Teo's direction in offer too. On the off-chance (!) that whatever Elisabeth has come to tell them is bad news, fortitude is not necessarily a bad idea.

It's the fire that draws the blond immediately. The coffee for which she is eternally grateful is cupped in her hands as she sits in front of the warmth. "God, it's awful out there," Elisabeth says in a somewhat hoarse, congested voice. When she coughs, it's carefully into her elbow so that she's not spreading her germs — though she did make a point of telling both men that it's not the Evo flu. Promise. Just a chest cold. "You could throw a dollop of whiskey in this thing if you feel like it," she adds with a grin while the boys help themselves to the wine.

It is Teo's greatest failing as a Sicilian!! maybe, other than the fact he's a little gay. He prefers to drink white. He's polite about his refusal, though, a shake of his head and a slight lift of one rough-knuckled hand, palm out, and his mouth bent around a half-smile. He sits on the counter, because— counters aren't meant for sitting on, his socked feet hanging off in front of the cabinets, round heels thopping arrhythmically against wood panel and its sundry contents. He is too cool for fortification.

Needing no coffee, though. "I don't think we stocked up on whiskey, yet. We have everything else, though. Pinto beans, frozen scallops. The larder's fucking huge; I got a little excited." It's enough for him to hide his fists in the over-stretched sleeves of a very old, and very well-loved hoodie. Not even he and Francois' curious experimentation with the mighty laundry machine that Kershner had supplied has managed to contract the garment's misshapen elastic parts back down to usability, though he's long since grown out of the habitual fidgets of pulling on them.

More for himself. Francois tips the wine bottle, the slosh and gurgle of red filling the wide rimmed glass and gets the focus of his attention until he's clasping the green tinted bottle shut again. Rather than tell Teo to get off the kitchen fixtures, Francois instead abandons him to move on towards the room that Elisabeth is toasting herself in, leaning a hip against the arm of a couch. "I would invite you to stay until it is less awful outside," he puts in, with a tilt of his head to the curtained off, snowy outdoors. "But I think we have given up on that since mid-March."

"Yeah," Elisabeth says wryly. "I'm starting to think we're screwed. Royally." She sips from her coffee and sighs heavily. "So…. here's the thing. Our little foray to Eagle Electric crossed Kershner's desk. And she covered our asses. For now." She gets down to business in a soft voice. "After giving her a pretty full accounting of everything that happened, … a plan suggested itself. It's not without risk, but the main risk is primarily to me. And since I'm apparently the catalyst for all of this in the first place, I'm actually okay with that. Still, I don't think I trust the situation enough to leave it strictly to FRONTLINE teams to handle it. I'd like both of your thoughts on the matter. And …. I figured I'd let you know too that Jessica's back and willing to back us up in a sniper position."

Jessica? That's one name Teo hadn't heard for awhile and hadn't expected to, and therefore predictably enough, hadn't thought to mention to French. There's a slight hitch to his stride, of surprise, as he comes tumbling off the counter in Francois' wake with the happy inelegance of a hapless half-house-trained puppy heeling with too much enthusiasm to fit into its legs, banging cabinets, and twining his long-sleeved hands together in a way that may or may not produce a straightjacketing knot if he isn't too careful. "What? You mean Niki Sanders' sociopathic kidnapper assassin persona?

"She has dissociative identity disorder," he adds, belatedly, looking at Francois to direct that caption appropriately. He thumps away from kitchen tiles and onto the living room floor, rambles to a halt by the television. Folds his legs to seat himself right there. "Unless Dreyfus or Volken's unholy ghost are pressing charges, I didn't think Kershner had anything to cover our asses from. What does she want you to do?"

Green eyes go narrow in a look at the news of recon through Eagle Electric being brought to Sarisa's attention, but if Francois has any objection to a thing already done, it's not enough to have him speaking — and it usually doesn't take much. Instead, he slides back another sip of wine and goes to perch more thoroughly on the couch arm as he listens. A glance bounces from Liz to Teo.

Alright. "Why is this Jessica important in this position? We also have the Vanguard's remnant on our side and your law enforcement connections," Francois points out. "If we can involve less people, that is better, I should think."

Otherwise, Teo is asking the important question, and Francois resists repetitiveness, rephrasing, and waits.

Elisabeth snickers. "Well, I suppose she doesn't have anything to cover YOUR ass from — but a firefight at Eagle Electric — a known Vanguard hideaway from the first time — apparently drew attention, and I'm under the impression that higher-ups were raining brimstone on the Shark's head over my involvement. Which she did in fact back. I wanted the ability to call in FRONTLINE backup if we actually found anything." Something she hadn't seen fit to share until now. She walks a fine line. "After Eagle, it's become pretty obvious that this is primarily my problem, not the rest of the team's. Kozlow's offer to get Dreyfus off all of your backs in return for obtaining me at least revealed that much."

Liz purses her lips and says quietly, "So I'm going to be bait. Kershner's going to have me arrested on terrorism charges to lure Dreyfus and hopefully Kozlow and Feng into the open. I'll be in the truck in armor, and her theory is that the squad can take them down." She hesitates. "I've not fought with them in this kind of capacity. I'd feel a lot better if you were the ones backing the play." Her eyes flit between them. "And we don't need to involved Jess if you'd rather not. She merely offered her help. Niki and I are friends."

"I didn't like the bait idea when your dad was the one we were putting into the mousetrap," Teo says, curling his feet against his folded shins. Indian-style. He might be a tot in a kindergarden classroom, if he wasn't a little bit too tall, slightly too scarred, that ruched-in, keloid-fringed seam up the incline of his jaw. "No offense to your old man, and the risks you have the right to take with your own life, but I like it even less now that you're the one.

"I also think that — to say it's primarily your problem when Dreyfus had Kozlow shoot my kids, as well as yours, and the priest who baptized me, and almost killed my mom is a pretty fucking strange assessment. I don't have the appetite for revenge that I used to, but I want to see that pack of assholes gone at least as much as you do, Liz. No one touches my fucking mom." That last statement was probably slightly unnecessary, but it's spoken with a stubborn sort of fierceness. He looks at her.

The sentiment, he thinks, is the furthest thing from unnecessary.

Francois itches his neck in an uneasy fidget, pale fingertips disappearing into the collar of a domestic looking sweater, along the edge of skin where he shaved this morning. "It is not just your own life," he adds, once he had both hands back around his wine glass, words rushing out on the tail of an exhale. "That is what we didn't like about bait — it is why I denied the idea of going this direction, in your own home, Liz. But it is the lives of people around you during this thing, Dreyfus'— creativity. It is not something we should play into.

"It is why I said about using the remnant, why we could use Odessa. Teo is also correct — it is not your decision, whether this is only your problem. It is the team's, still." Which— is probably the less important point the boys can hammer in on, but emotional response happens, occasionally. Teo looks at her. Francois looks at his wine, losing the taste for it.

There is a pause, and Elisabeth looks… chastened. She sips her coffee and sets the mug down, wrapping her arms around her kneesand turning her blue eyes to the Frenchman. "Francois," she says quietly. "You're right in that it's not solely my call. Which is why I didn't simply acquiesce and not tell all of you — which I did consider doing," she admits. Her tone is filled with regret. "On the one hand, I figured if I put myself out as bait and the squad fails to stop them, then at least you'll still have a shot at them. Without Kershner looking over my shoulder, too." She looks between the men. "And I don't want to lose anyone else. I'm damn sick and tired of losing people. So on the other hand is the notion that if we all pull together here, we might be able to just plain overwhelm them with sheer numbers. And a little creativity of our own."

The blond looks toward the Italian. "I wasn't… attempting to make light of what everyone's suffered, Teo. Just… that while he holds all of us in some way responsible, the fact of it is that I'm the one who pulled the trigger. And believe me, the fact that he's gone after your mother and Abby's parents, Francois's friend, and killed Cat's mother and our kids…." She swallows hard against the lump in her throat and then has to cough. When she's through, she murmurs, "I feel like all of your families are in danger because of what I did. And I have to admit, I have no intention of being a martyr in this. I need to cover my ass because of what I'm doing in FRONTLINE, but I won't do it at your expense. I need you both to help me here — because I'm in way over my head with Kershner, and I don't have the luxury right now of walking away. It's a situation of mutual keep-your-enemies-closer, I think."

Mousetrap suddenly involves government entities, armored vehicles, elaborate Kershner-involved— Teo doesn't know if this is a proper moment to use the term 'shenanigans,' but his limited familiarity with its use in English would lead him to think so. 'Shenanigans.' Kershner's shenanigans. For once, he can't even think of an equally appropriate Italian one to go along with it. It is tempting, indeed, to follow through with that emotional response and into blaming the whole thing on the CIA wench.

Teodoro doesn't, though. He isn't that much the child, even if he's younger than the two other operatives in the room. "When is your squad planning to move?" he asks, thoughtfully, like the question is merely prelude or corollary to something else. He folds his fingers inside the sleeves.

It's probably arrogant, presumptuous, but certainly a nice sentiment when Francois says— "None of us hold you responsible." There's a crease in his brow that he smooths with the back of his knuckles, as if he could massage away the anxiety that put it there in the first place. He could also add in the obvious — that they will probably help her, but he holds onto those words for now and lapses in conscious silence.

"I know that," Elisabeth replies to Francois's assurance. She and he already had this conversation — or part of it. In that she had no other options and would do it again if the situation were the same. Teo's life had hung in the balance. She made the only call she could. Right now, Liz is wishing we'd all just stayed in Russia and seen the situation through. She's not usually so bloodthirsty, but so much heartache could have been avoided.

"Uhm… I don't have a firm date as yet, though I imagine soon. A few days. Kershner wants me healthy, so this chest cold has derailed some of the planning, I think, while she works through details of that plan." Elisabeth looks between them. "You both look like you have thoughts, though. If you've got something better, I'm all ears. But the longer they're out there, the more of our kids they can touch. And that I can't live with."

They'd had other plans, it's true. Teo squints slightly. Glances sidelong at the Frenchman a moment, thoughtfully, rather than some secret couple-y exchange to make a third wheel feel rather annoyed. "I was hoping Cardinal could have some information on Kozlow-through-Logan that we could move on, by now. And as Francois mentioned, there were plans regarding Odessa. And the other Vanguard operatives, since that's the pool that Dreyfus was hiring out of. How would you make sure Dreyfus got the information, anyway?

"I don't think he's as up-and-up on top-level law enforcement concerns as would be useful to you. Better to be bait at home than in an armored vehicle announced through unusual channels, wouldn't it? I know which one I'd prefer to hit," Teo says, tilting his head thoughtfully, his callused fingers folding uneasily where he's hanging them off the cliff's edge of his knee. "In the hypothetical world where I'm an asshole who kills kids and ambushes a woman while she's down."

Francois' fingers fan out in a mild gesture where Teo mentions his name and the plans discussed, before downing the rest of his red with experienced ease and getting to his feet in stray restlessness. They're in socks, against the carpet. "If it is a matter of luring them out, I proposed we could do it on our terms, using the former Vanguard members attempting to get in contact. It is a plan just as susceptible to error as yours, but in this case they would at least not be on the attack." With a clink, he sets down his emptied glass on the coffee table.

Tucks uneven hands into his pockets and roams closer to the fire, the light of it flickering up the side of him most Kozlow-mauled, from the twist of scarring up his ear to the hidden hand in wool. "How would you use us, in this baiting plan? Ideally?"

Richard's name brings Elisabeth's head back around to the Italian, and her hoarse voice slips in and out a bit as she defends the man. "Teo, he's doing everything he can but he's barely even there. He's slipping away a little at a time, losing cohesion." Her voice chokes slightly, and she closes her eyes. "I'm sorry. I needed to at least make a pretense of showing the woman I'm trying to stay on the correct side of the line — especially now, with Claire's actions being broadcast all over the damn news." When she opens the blue orbs once more, she finally reaches back and scratches her head.

"You've mentioned Odessa, but forgive me…. I don't really know who she is or what her abilities are such that it would make Dreyfus or Kozlow approach her?" Liz queries with a tone that says she's sure she should know and will feel stupid when they remind her but she needs the reminder. "And I think Kershner's plan was to basically put it into the news that one of FRONTLINE's newest faces was being taken in for terrorist actions. It'll make a splash in the headlines due to the nature of the allegations and the visibility of the squad." Liz grimaces and answers both of them at once. "He won't have to be top-level LEO to hear about it, I'm quite sure. It'll likely blast my credibility to hell, but… if it takes them down, it's worth it. Not like my credibility is all that much anyway," she admits on a sigh. "As to how I would use you guys?"

Elisabeth smiles faintly. "It's probably flawed thinking, but I can't imagine that Dreyfus would readily believe that you would all be working with Kershner — even if you were, the very act of arresting me basically means she's turned on us, I think?" Elisabeth shrugs. "Shit, Francois, I don't know. My specialty in this damn job's supposed to be this kind of planning, but if you want the truth, I don't honestly want to do anything but hang out a billboard sign with "Dreyfus, you cocksucker, man up and come and get me yourself. Or are you less of a man than your own kid? At least he pulled a gun and faced off with me."" Her tone holds disgust. "But I suppose that's about as stupid as it gets, yeah?"

Small humour — Francois spares Elisabeth a flicker of a smile, shortlived. "He probably would not expect us, non. Je ne sais pait." Silence settles in the room for a few seconds, Francois making a gesture to communicate the desire to think for a moment before easing his ruined hand up to face as he thinks. Once it falls away, he steers a look towards Elisabeth, giving a short, shrugging gesture. "If he suspects it's his last chance to get a hold of you, it is bait he might take, oui." For all that his words seem hopeful, doubt laces his voice.

Heavy emphasis on the might, and such. "Odessa is a woman who was once recruited to Vanguard's cause, but like many, ultimately turned on Volken's plans and has since spent time being addicted to morphine. Dreyfus found her, used her to spy on us, but she has turncoated and admitted to us that she is a spy. The idea is that she could draw them out into the open.

"And it relies heavily on them not suspecting a trap. What I would propose— " His hands go out in a gesture, palms upwards, fingers lax. "We try things with Odessa. If it fails, we use this bait idea — he will have incentive to target Elisabeth even after a failure, oui? But the other way around might not work as a contigency, or at least is less likely." He looks again at Elisabeth, hands dropping. "That is, of course, if Sarisa would spare us this time."

The attempt at levity is just that — an attempt. A way to verbalize her frustration at feeling so helpless. Not a real idea meant to be acted on. Elisabeth moves to stand up, if only because she's beginning to finally warm up, even get a little hot, in her winter clothes in front of the fire as she is. "She's pissy as hell, but she's given me enough rope to hang myself. Hell….. if your plan with Odessa fails, it makes the arrest that much more plausible, don't you think? Because I'd be getting nailed for actually doing stuff." She moves to stand next to the Frenchman, slipping a hand into the crook of his arm and resting her head on his shoulder. Though normally not one to seek out the solace of touch from this particular source, she both offers it and takes it in the same movement if he allows her.

"I think I can sell it," Liz finally says. "She knows it can't keep on like it is — it splits my focus too much, worrying about all of you and my father and God only knows who of my kids they might hit next." She quirks a faint smile up at him. "You know more about this man and his organization than anyone. Kershner's convinced the rest of them are in it for money and getting hands on Gabriel and such. If you think it'll work, I'm game."

There's a discernible shift of Teo's expression when that phrase comes up. 'Pissy as Hell.' That CIA wench. A moment, and he decides not to press the point about surveilling Logan, through mundane means if Cardinal couldn't do it. Things to fall under the category of 'Oh well.'

Odessa is, at least, one avenue to be pursued, and he's naive enough to be optimistic about those two plans actually operating well in tandem. He doesn't interject for a moment, allowing himself to twitch along to the distraction of cupping his side with one hand, borrowing a brief moment to soothe some unseen hurt hidden by the heavy fabric of his sweater. It isn't a large distraction, by any means.

The next moment, he's looking up. "Makes sense to me," he acknowledges, finally. "I can check in with Odessa. By now, she should be in good enough health to make the attempt, or deal with the fact both parties are going head-to-head."

Francois' good fingers entwine with Elisabeth's clasping his arm in return, and though she can't physically feel any ease of tension, she can at least detect him letting go of a sigh. Especially as both parties in the room go ahead and lend their optimism to his fake-leadering, with the same assurance as Teo's reliance on his fake-doctoring in the sutures under his sweat. Francois gives a slice of a glance the Italian's way over Elisabeth's head as if to check for—

For lipservice, masking doubt. It's not immediately apparent, if it's there at all. "I can come with you," he offers. "That seems a better strategy for me than attempting to negotiate with Sarisa. I happen to agree with her also. I think they are mercenaries, as Dreyfus only used to be. You will let us know what Sarisa says, then — if she wants a timeframe, we can probably provide one soon."

If she had seen the look Francois tosses over her head, Elisabeth would have probably been able to identify it. She tends to feel like she's faking it most of the time too, pretending she knows what she's doing when all she really wants to do is hide in a corner. Ignorance sometimes really is bliss — a bliss none of this group has had in a very long time. Since she missed it, she simply twines her fingers into Francois's and holds on. She gives a quick glance toward Teo as well, late in the moment, and nods when she meets his eyes. "I guess it's a plan, then," she murmurs softly, trying to mask her own worries and doubts that none of the above will work.

Fake-verbing is Teo's favorite, but fake-adjectives work, too. He is wearing cast-iron indifference, right now, or a reasonable facsimile of courage— which would be the same thing as genuine courage, given the nature of that particular virtue. If they kill another child, that'll be another degree to the urgency with which he would like to kill them. That's all. If there's anything else falsefied in the Sicilian's expression, it's exactly as the Frenchman ought to fear.

Masked. "I think she's still staying at Old Lucy's, though she might have moved out on Abigail's advisement. I know she isn't staying at their temporary place." Teo lifts his ragged head, makes a nod out of the incomplete bob of his chin, confirming Francois' request. He folds his knees together, steepling his shadow against lacquered wooden floorboards. "I'd say Feng Daiyu's grudge goes deeper than mercenary work, but you're probably right enough about the rest. We'll try to get Odessa moving before your cold clears up."

"And we can let Catherine and the others know what's to come." Verbally listing off all the things to do from here kind of gives the illusion of control, and Francois isn't so old that he can't buy into it too. He tags on agreement with Elisabeth's words; "It is a plan, oui. It is two plans." And squeezes her hand before releasing it once more, to collect up his empty wine glass and likely refill it. Fortitude is almost as good as optimism.

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