Between You and Me


caliban_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Between You and Me
Synopsis Caliban ambushes Elisabeth while she is enjoying pie and offers her two deals: one from Linderman, one from himself.
Date October 14, 2009

The Nite Owl

The Nite Owl is a survivor from ages past - one of those ancient diners with huge plate glass windows, checkerboard linoleum floor, and a neon owl over the entrance that blinks at those entering. Inside, there's an L-shaped main counter, complete with vintage soda fountain and worn steel stools. All of the cooking is done on the ranges ranked against the rear wall. The outer wall is lined with booths upholstered in cracked scarlet vinyl, tables trimmed with polished chrome. Despite its age, it's been lovingly maintained. The air is redolent with the scent of fresh coffee, vanilla, and frying food.

The Nite Owl is hopping with the late-shift construction types and a few cops in and out of uniform. It's a blue-collar type of diner — reasonable prices, good food, and lots of it. Elisabeth used to be far more a regular here than recently, but she's been making an effort. She's sitting in a back booth where no one can sneak up on her and she can see the room, she sips coffee and is toying with a piece of pie a la mode. Abby and Richard'll be so proud — she's eating! She actually had dinner too! Natasha insisted. And truth be told, the blonde cop feels far better than she's felt in ages for submitting to the bullying. The pie is fabulous, as always, and she's enjoying it greatly.

Between the clatter of dishes in the kitchen, the sizzling griddle and the scratching sound produced by forks eagerly scraping at cheap porcelain, a bell rings. At the Nite Owl, this could be one of two things: the chime positioned above the door that jangles whenever it opens and closes, or the service bell that the servers use to communicate with one another and signal when orders are ready to be delivered to the appropriate table or booth. In this case, it's the former rather than the latter, and from Elisabeth's vantage point she can clearly see the tall, lean figure that just entered the establishment before he sees her. See her he does, though; long legs carry the man in the pinstripe business suit and polished leather loafers across the diner toward Elisabeth's booth. Even with the tie knotted loose at his neck, he doesn't look out of place here thanks to the dark bruises under his eyes of pristine blue and the piece of medical tape her wears stretched across a broken nose.

"Elisabeth Harrison?"

A single eyebrow raises when the well-dressed man with the beautiful set of shiners approaches her. "Yes?" she asks. The tone is deceptively easy-going; her body tenses pretty much immediately and her blue eyes are wary.

The man puts out his hand rather than insinuate himself in Elisabeth's booth. "Robert Caliban," he says by way of introduction. "I'm a publicist for the Linderman Group. I believe we have a mutual acquaintance in Abigail Beauchamp?"

Oh good. Linderman's group. "A publicist, hrm?" She doesn't take his hand, but she does gesture for him to sit down. "What can I do for you, Mr. Caliban?" she asks. "Would you like a cup of coffee? It's getting pretty frigid out there," she adds politely.

Caliban's arm drops back to his side as he simultaneously sinks into a seat opposite Elisabeth, his large hands resting on the edge of the table, fingers interlaced. "No, thank you," he says with a smile and flash of teeth tainted yellow from years of tobacco consumption. And speaking of— "I hope you don't mind if I smoke? It would make me feel more at ease concerning the conversation we're about to have."

"If we were outside, I'd say fine. It's a nonsmoking establishment," Elisabeth replies. Which, if he works for Linderman in New York, he ought to know. "Sorry," she says. "If you'd rather step outside, though, I'm sure I can accomodate you." So much for her pie, she sighs internally. Her appetite's somewhat deserted her now.

"In this weather?" Caliban lifts both his eyebrows at Elisabeth. "I'll be frank with you, Miss Harrison, as I suspect you already know why I'm here. Under most circumstances, I would applaud you for the way you handled John Logan. Unfortunately, as I'm sure you also know, Mister Logan is an employee of the organization that pays my bills, and the man in charge has burdened me with the unpleasant task of asking you what the hell you think you were doing."

There's a soft chuckle at the incredulity of the weather response. And then Elisabeth merely looks at Robert Caliban and says mildly, "I was doing my job, Mr. Caliban. There is an outstanding federal warrant for Mr. Logan's arrest, Mr. Logan crossed my path and I recognized him, and so I did what my job description says I'm supposed to do. I'm sorry that your boss doesn't particularly like it, but perhaps he should take Mr. Logan's allegedly illegal activities up with Mr. Logan himself." Her tone is very polite and pleasant, in no way sarcastic.

"You'll excuse me if I'm being presumptuous, but wasn't the federal warrant for Mister Logan's arrest issued in part due to your involvement in the case, however peripherally?" Caliban doesn't leave room for an answer at the end of his question, and in the next breath continues without pause. "I like to consider myself a friend of Abigail's," he says, "and it would break my heart to see her dragged all the way to court to provide testimony at a trial that is destined to become a media circus and make a laughing stock of not only Miss Beauchamp, but the entire New York Police Department as well. Believe me when I say I'm familiar with the case. There is no physical evidence to connect Logan to Abigail's kidnapping. Furthermore, the statements she made to the authorities are no longer accurate. How do you suppose the jury will view her when she attempts to explain to the court that she mysteriously lost her power and no longer tests positive as Evolved?"

Elisabeth studies the man and says, "Actually, Mr. Caliban, I guess you're not aware — kidnapping *is* a federal offense. Although the NYPD took the complaint, along with at least one eyewitness testimony statement, it was turned over to ….. now let me think. I believe Agent Ivanov is the one who turned it over to the US Attorney's office, and whatever the US Attorney chooses to do about it is their business. My job begins and ends at the fact that there was an outstanding warrant and I arrested him. I am not a lawyer, nor a judge, nor an FBI agent on the case. Just the arresting officer. If there is no case, I'm sure that the US Attorney's office will meet with Mr. Logan's lawyer and the charges will be dismissed for lack of evidence." She shrugs easily. "I'm sure your boss has lawyers on retainer who will have Mr. Logan out of federal lockup in less than another day, if he's not already out, and I'm quite sure they're talented enough and he pays them enough to make sure that every possible avenue of defense, including insufficient evidence, is dealt with."

Caliban unlocks his hand and reaches up to run the heel of his hand along his beard's silver-blond bristle. "It's interesting that you should mention Agent Ivanov," he says, voice growing weary. "For whatever reason, in spite of the federal warrant, he didn't experience a compelling need to arrest Mr. Logan on the night of Burlesque's opening. Neither did you, for that matter, and I have security footage in my possession that quite clearly identifies the two of you in attendance along with one Teodoro Laudani."

He leans back in his seat at the booth and blows out a slow breath past pursed lips, both his brows lowering as his gaze hardens and the muscles in his face set into a quietly irritated expression. "As it happens," Caliban continues, "I'm not particularly concerned about my associate's present predicament. It isn't my job to clean up his messes, and I've no doubt that someone above me has already made the calls that need to be made on his behalf. Logan will be a free man by this time tomorrow and the federal warrant thrown out on the grounds of being mistakenly issued. No, Miss Harrison, what I care about are Abigail's best interests, and it's become increasingly apparent to me that if there's to be any justice at all, then it needs to either be exacted by an entity outside the system, or you and your brothers in blue need to build a stronger case against the people responsible."

"I'm sure there were a great number of people in attendance at the opening of the Burlesque. I'm also quite sure you never saw me in John Logan's vicinity. In point of fact, I didn't know he owned the place," Elisabeth says candidly. "Or I'm quite sure I would have placed a call to the local FBI field office and let them know that I'd spotted someone on their outstanding warrants list." She shrugs slightly, and then she leans on her elbows. "Let me be blunt, Mr. Caliban. The only reason we don't have a compelling case against Mr. Logan is because his actions out on Staten Island are off limits to the NYPD. The DA won't touch it with a ten foot pole and says that anything that happens out there is unprosecutable, due to Staten's status as some kind of no man's land. That's why the information was all turned over to the US Attorney's office. Agent Ivanov believed that the federal juridiction would override the DA's ridiculous stance. I'm just a foot soldier in this. I arrested the man even KNOWING that the probability was that he'd get off somehow on some glitch because it was the right thing and the legal thing to do, and quite frankly? Because the man's got a legitimate fucking outstanding federal warrant out on him and he waltzed into the goddamn NYPD Headquarters to whine about… hell, I don't know. Defamation of character or something? Frankly? He's a fucking idiot." She studies him with a calm expression. "And if you think that Abigail's woes need to be addressed by someone outside the system, that's on you. Hell, if you're that interested in Abigail's best interests, convince your damn boss to use his influence to make sure her torturer is actually punished instead of being allowed to skate."

"Foot soldier," Caliban repeats, tone flat. "That's an interesting choice of words, all things considered." He's leaning forward again, shoulders hunched and posture guarded with his elbows resting on the edge of the table and his palms flat. "Mister Linderman wants to offer you a deal. Stay away from John Logan, and the Linderman Group won't sue your department for the slanderous remarks Officer Magnes Varlane made about his employee on international airwaves. Now, I understand that this might be difficult for someone of your high moral caliber to accept, so I want to make you a different one, just between you and I."

As he speaks, he reaches into his jacket's interior and pulls out a series of glossy photographs, which he lays out on the table in front of Elisabeth. Each one depicts a middle-aged man with a strong face, thick beard and a heavy coat pulled around his muscular frame. "Stay away from John Logan, make my job with Linderman just a little easier, and I'll give you James Muldoon."

"Magnes Varlane's issues are his own and the NYPD's to deal with. I don't need a bribe from Mr. Linderman to stay away from John Logan, Mr. Caliban," Elisabeth replies calmly. "I've already done my job, it's over as far as I'm concerned. Clearly you're not entirely sure what that entails, but let me be the one who's clear here. A cop investigates, presents their evidence to a DA, and gets a warrant for arrest. Once that arrest is made, it's entirely out of my hands and not my problem anymore — it's all about the attorneys and the legal system. So you can assure your boss that he has nothing to worry about so long as Mr. Logan doesn't break the law again." She grins with a wicked little twinkle. "NOW…. between you and me, if you wanted to give me information on another criminal named James Muldoon? That wouldn't hurt my feelings at all. But understand that you aren't giving me the information to keep me off Logan's back — you're giving it to me because it's in Abigail's best interests."

"I would appreciate it if you didn't talk down to me," says Caliban. "I know exactly what your job entails. I also know that the law doesn't mean as much to you as you claim it does, otherwise you wouldn't have participated in the raid that freed Abigail and Officer Varlane and killed several of Muldoon's men. I'm not the fucking idiot you seem to think I am, Elisabeth, and when I say stay away from John Logan, I'm not asking you to turn back time. I'm telling you to give the man a wide berth while I build a case against him and Muldoon so you don't screw it up any further. If you think you can do that without falling off your high horse, then perhaps the two of us can work together on this."

Elisabeth shakes her head at the man. "I love it when people accuse you of being on a high horse when they don't like being wrong. You've given me the very clear impression you didn't know what my job entailed with pretty much everything you've said to me since you sat down, what with yakking at me about how the case against Logan is flimsy and whatever else — that's not my job, Caliban. And since I've no intention of socializing with the likes of John Logan, I don't think you have anything to worry about with regard to me. He's a tiny little fish who happened across my path — call me petty if you like, but you know? *Idiot standing in headquarters* with *open warrant out on his head* just begged to actually get busted. Personally, I'd love to see you make a good case against Muldoon and Logan. You got something I can act on, by all means bring it my way." Her blue eyes on the man are cold. "Abby knew from the start that getting justice for what she went through was unlikely… it'd be real nice to be able to tell her it's actually not."

Caliban rises from his seat at the booth but does not move to collect the photographs. "Petty," he says as he removes his leather gloves from his jacket pocket and pulls them on, "is not the word I'd use to describe you, Miss Harrison. Hypocritical, perhaps. Conceited. You've relentlessly lambasted Logan throughout this entire conversation while continuously attempting to draw attention away from its point in favour of patronizing me. I've just accused you of murder and you have absolutely nothing to say in defense of your actions. It's as though I didn't bring it up at all."

"What exactly would you like me to say, Mr. Caliban? I have yet to figure out exactly what it is that you want from me. You've said that you want me to stay away from John Logan. Which is exactly what I intend to do anyway. You've said that Mr. Linderman wants to offer me a deal — which, by the way, is pretty much illegal too — to do something I was already intending on doing. I don't know you from Adam, and it sounds to me like you're trying to get me to incriminate myself by tossing around a few names and a bunch of information that you may or may not be able to back up in any fashion — and you expect me to trust you?" She shakes her head. "The conceit here is yours. What exactly is it that you want from me?"

"You have a history of going rogue and operating off the books." Caliban adjusts the sleeves of his jacket once his gloves are in place. "If you're bold enough to storm Staten Island, guns blazing, who's to say that you won't attempt to put a bullet in the back of Logan's head when everyone else is looking the other way? I wouldn't put it past you, based on what I know, to fabricate evidence or interfere with the investigation. You've done similar things before, and I have absolutely no reason to believe you won't do them again. What I want from you is reassurance."

He tucks his chin into the collar of his coat and the scarf nestled there, the hairs of his beard catching in its woolen fibers. A tip of his head gestures to the photographs. "You can keep those. They were taken two months ago in Moscow, for what it's worth."

Both eyebrows shoot to her hairline at that accusation, and Elisabeth slams a silence bubble up around the two of them because her voice raises just a bit and she doesn't want to worry about someone else hearing them as she comes to her feet to stand in front of him. "If I was going to go that rogue, Mr. Caliban," she says coldly, "I'd have shot him in the fucking head long before now." She clenches her jaw. "Tell your boss he doesn't have anything to worry about. As for you… if you're really Abby's friend and you do want justice for her? Then I'll overlook the fact that the first thing you said to me was a threat to her and I'll help you if I can. Thank you for the information on Muldoon." She can't act on it… she can hand it over to Sawyer or whoever is handling the Muldoon case at this point, but at least it's a start.

"You perceived what I said as a threat," Caliban says tersely, drawing himself up to his full height. "Based, perhaps, on my affiliations, which is entirely understandable, but let there be no misunderstanding between us: I would never raise a hand against Abigail." A pause, and then: "You're welcome. If you need to get in touch with me, she has my number."

He's moving away from the booth in the moments that follow, one gloved hand dipping into his jacket pocket to retrieve a package of cigarettes and a matchbook dangling between two fingers on his way out the door. Although Liz can only make out the vague shape of his spine beneath his tailored clothing, the muscles in his back are tense and move over his bones in the same powerful fashion as a tiger's pelt rippling across its frame as it paces in its cage.

Another chime of the bell above the door and he's gone, whisked away with the wind cutting its icy swath through the city's rain-slicked streets.

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