Big Girl Panties


elisabeth_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Big Girl Panties
Synopsis We all have our issues, and we all have to yank on our big girl panties and deal with them, dammit!
Date Apr 29, 2011

Skinny Brickfront, Endgame Safehouse

It's nearing midnight when Elisabeth and Jaiden sneak back into the skinny brickfront that serves as home. They part company at the door to the room she's sharing with Ygraine, and Liz gently closes the door behind her carrying the oblong black case with her. She isn't sure whether she'll find Ygraine asleep or awake, but she moves silently just in case, her flashlight kept guardedly covered until she can be sure.

To the British resident of the safehouse, twenty degrees above freezing has been quite enough to be regarded as rather Summery - and as a result, Ygraine is presently sporting a pair of denim cut-offs, though the evening has induced her to add a heavy woollen sweater over her lighter top, the garment slipped down to reveal one bare shoulder.

Propped against one up-drawn knee is a sketchpad, though the pencil has been still for some time, its wielder frowningly considering the page - her effort illuminated by one of her egg-shaped wind-up lights, perched on the wall above one shoulder.

Elisabeth's arrival earns a startled look, then a warm smile, then a distinctly quizzical cant of the head as the black case is noted. "I confess", she murmurs with a smile, "that all sorts of crazy ideas are springing to mind for what that might be."

The blonde turns off the flashlight and snickers, waggling her brows. "If I told you it was a replacement for Richard, would you believe me?" Elisabeth retorts suggestively.

That earns Liz a startled look, then a bark of laughter - before Ygraine grins and pat-pats at the sleeping bag on which she sits. "Honey, you just have to ask and I'll gladly help out", she purrs, eyes half-lidding.

Elisabeth snorts a soft laugh, shaking her head. "Damn, nothing throws you," she comments. She sets the case down and drops onto Ygraine's sleeping bag, crossing her legs as she leans back on the wall next to her roommate. "Although at least that might not make me feel like I'm using someone as a substitute." She learned her lesson about doing that the hard way — she hurt Mack. The memory still has the power to bring deep shame. "Anyway," she says as she goes to dig in the case, "I brought you something." She hands over the CD's jewel case. "Quinn says she'd like to talk to you again, when you feel up to it."

Laughing, Ygraine shakes her head at Elisabeth's first comment - only to rapidly look rather more concerned and sympathetic. "I'd have said that quite a lot threw me", she manages after a short pause, before rather cautiously reaching out to accept the CD case. "Robyn sending me a disc… that's one of the ones that does. Ummm. Especially since I've no idea how to listen to it at the moment. But… you saw her? And she wants to talk? She's finally willing to set up a meeting with her, then?"

"If by her, you're referring to Jolene? I gather they've already met," Elisabeth says mildly. "But yes, we met. I snuck down to the Verb. I needed to play for a while, and it was the only place I could think of with a piano I might be able to access. I didn't know anyone'd rented the studio Cat keeps there, and I figured her penthouse wouldn't be a safe place."

Ygraine looks briefly confused. "Ah. Well, that probably answers the question. I think", she says sheepishly. "Ummm. I… play? Studio? I thought you were… actually…." Cocking her head, she shoots Elisabeth a quizzical look. "I have no idea what it was that you taught. Or what you went off to play."

Her lips twist into a wry smile. "I was a sub for two years before Washington Irving was able to offer me a fulltime position teaching music," Elisabeth says softly. "I was supposed to start after the Christmas holidays. The Vanguard blew the school that autumn, though, and pretty much made it moot. I went back to the police force after." She looks at Ygraine, "I've played piano since I was a kid. Apparently I even have a minor in music, which was how I got my job at the school, lateral entry."

Ygraine winces, then rests her pencil and new CD on her pad, freeing up a hand to move over to give Elisabeth's shoulder a squeeze. "I… didn't realise you had a tie there." The school's name is all too familiar to the civil rights campaigner. "Maybe I should have been pestering you to help with a project of mine, though I'm sure it would have had to be done as moonlighting rather than anything remotely official."

Elisabeth shrugs a little. "A tie?" She pauses and remembers the room exploding around her and her students. Remembers seeing the hallway collapse behind her, the blast blowing her clear and into a pile of rubble, breaking her arm and several ribs. "Yeah… you could call it that, I guess. As to moonlighting, well…." Her expression is rueful. "I'm afraid so far my moonlighting has gotten me into all kinds of trouble." She sighs heavily. "I went looking for the piano just to …. try to think for a while."

Ygraine's expression is now attempting to combine multiple kinds of worry. "What… what happened? Are you all right? Is everyone else? Is there anything I can do?" Her hand tightens its grip on Liz's shoulder, before being willed into relaxing at least a touch.

"Heh… you're wound even tighter than I am," Elisabeth replies softly. She swallows hard. "I met my son. Got to talk to him for… just a few minutes. The night JJ and Lene were here." She goes quiet, looking down at her lap. Her lips quirk a bit. "He's…. Richard's not just underground, Ygraine." That's what she's told pretty much everyone. "Our son tried to kill him. That's…. what happened at the library." She grimaces a little, looking at her roommate. "His friends… Lene's friends… they evacuated Richard, but…. there's no telling to where. Or when. I'm having a hard time trying to figure out what angle to come at my son from. How to deal with all of it. And I can't really figure out what to do next either." She sighs.

Initially, about all that Ygraine can do is stare, and swallows audibly. That might be a grade up from slack-jawed gaping, but it's not exactly a great deal more helpful. "I'm a paranoiac who really is hunted by the government and has made enemies of people with super-powers", she responds after a moment, voice dry as a brief flow of words offers a chance of at least some coherent thought taking place. "I'd say I wasn't doing too badly for being tightly wound, right now….."

A shake of her head, then she gently squeezes Liz's shoulder once more. "Who…? Do you have a name for your son? A way of contacting him? And Christ. This confirms some of my past babbling about another bloody time-war, doesn't it? People showing up without explanation in the nick of time. Multiple copies, possibly working at cross-purposes…. And your son being… foiled by others when he attempts to deal with things in his way. Good grief, this is fucked up."

Elisabeth grimaces. "Yeah. Well… " She shrugs a little. "I gather that there's a group of the kids. Perhaps as many as a dozen, depending on how many of the ones I know about overlap with the ones Ben Ryans seems to know about in the Ferry. The group of them had a plan… they just aren't ready to let us all in on it, as Lene said." She grimaces. "And my son… his name is Joshua… he's…. one very angry young man. The things his father did to the Liz that Joshua knew are… let's use the word 'unpleasant' with the understanding that it doesn't come close to covering it."

Worriedly, Ygraine winces, then nods slowly. "You poor thing", she murmurs. "For me… discovering Lene is terrifying, but great. For you…. I'm so sorry. No wonder you felt you had to get away. I… I hope that it helped. Some time with your music."

"Eh," Elisabeth shrugs. "Not really. I didn't…. really play as much as I needed to." She offers a smile. "But…. I guess it wasn't a wasted trip. Your friend Robyn sent that." She nods toward the case. "It's a keyboard," she tells Ygraine quietly. "She said… that since you and Cat were willing to trust me, that she thought she could trust me with it. So…." She shrugs slightly.

Ygraine looks startled, then she laughs softly, gently shaking her head. "My own keyboard's in storage, along with a few other things I didn't want to risk losing forever to the government goons if they did break in to my place in spite of the transfer of ownership. I admit that I've missed it, at times. It'd at least offer a change of pace from spending all day drawing or keeping fit or exercising my bloody arm…."

A slight shake of her head, then she quirks a rueful little smile at Elisabeth. "And I'm glad that she's starting to trust you. She… knew about the dreams before I did. Told me a bit about them, in time. But would only do so if I promised not to tell you, because you weren't deemed trustworthy. And my vouching for you… that wasn't good enough. Lending you an instrument's quite a display of trust, for Robyn. And I'm glad."

There's a smirk at that. "Might have helped that I brought those up first. And knew about Lene," Elisabeth replies. "And it didn't hurt that I could point out that I'd helped with Phoenix and the Ferry for far longer than she herself had been involved and that I'd taken my jobs in part to funnel information if I could." She shrugs. "She's right to be cautious. I don't know that she is trustworthy either." She pauses and admits, "But I get the sense that she's really sorry for what happened between you, for what that's worth."

Ygraince glances down - or perhaps looks to the CD - as she grimaces somewhat and her grip again tightens. "Yeah, well. Things haven't exactly got better since then. Being assured that she never said anything she didn't mean at the time, but that she might not mean them a few weeks later… that wasn't so great. Nor has her refusal to accept that I'm in any way fractured been overly wonderful. She wants this all to be a misunderstanding, that can be swept under the carpet and 'moved on from', and that needs no more 'dealing with' than pretending that nothing of any note actually happened."

Lifting her gaze to Elisabeth, the Briton shrugs ruefully. "Last time I spoke to her… that was the conversation in which I discovered that Robyn's response to dreaming of having adopted a daughter with me was to turn around and ask to marry the person who pushed me into a breakdown in this timeline. I told her that her consistent denial of the validity of my memories of how things had happened - those oft-repeated claims that I'd just misunderstood - had made me doubt everything I thought had occurred. After all, if she was right, then I'd hurt her, hurt a friend and shredded my own mind for no reason at all! And I told her that I'd been thinking of cornering a telepath and bullying them into looking inside, to see if anything I thought had happened was real, rather than just a product of my twisted thoughts."

Shaking her head, Ygraine sighs. "You, I think, can probably understand losing faith in your own memories and thoughts. Doubting whether anything you think is real. Robyn's response… was to deny that anything was really wrong, or ever had been wrong with me. Apparently I just 'had a lot to cope with' at the moment. But… I begged Robyn to set up a meeting with her - with Elaine - so that I could find out whether there was any truth to the notion that it was all just a 'misunderstanding'. To give me something solid on which I could build my understanding of where the fuck I was. 'Cause right now, I can't really trust anything much of what I remember, or what I think or feel. So that's… that's what I was asking about. What I thought she'd be sending me a message about. That she'd finally done so. That she'd let me have a shot at finding out if I did this to myself, or if there is any truth to my memory."

Elisabeth is sitting there listening, but …. she gives Ygraine this look of WTF. "Ygraine…. " She sighs and then says, "Okay, look. This is not my strong suit. I suck at relationships — Christ, my son just tried to fucking murder his father in cold blood, thereby erasing his own potential for existence. Kinda fucked up, yeah? But …. you're talking in complete abstracts here. The bottom line of what I've understood from your corner is that you two were dating and Elaine got in the way. Do you really want to make it more than that?"

"Poke the paranoiac's inner thoughts, and dark stuff comes out", Ygraine responds, tone dry. "But to summarise? Elaine ambushed me in my one safe place when I was shot, starved, firebombed and barely sane after the Dome, pushed me into a breakdown, then while I was having it, Robyn dumped me with Elaine there as an audience for the lovely little scene. So I lost the person I was depending on to recover, and I lost the place I was depending on to do it in because every time I moved around in my home I saw and heard that. Or else… Robyn's somehow right that it was all a misunderstanding, which means that I did it all to myself purely and simply because I'm sick in the head. Either way, I'm trying to piece my mind back together again, and one of the ways I've been trying to do that is by helping you."

She shakes her head. "So - I apologise for fucking up. Again. I'm floundering for anything to say about how the heck you deal with your situation. And my mouth runs away with me when I'm trying to think. Takes me off on tangents. Especially dark ones. Which makes me an even worse friend than I'd otherwise be. But if there's anything at all I can do…. Heck, my power unit's got some charge in it at the moment. We could plug in the keyboard and try it out, if you want to resume your music fix. Or we can talk, and you can slap me for stress-relief whenever you think I might be about to head off on a tangent."

She's quiet for a long moment and says, "Ygraine… paranoid is different than obsessed." Elisabeth pauses and says, "You need to decide what you want out of your relationship with them and then just … go with it. Take the advice for what it's worth — which is that it's one person's opinion — but … seriously. Elaine might be a complete bitch, but I sincerely doubt she was out to send you around the bend while you were dealing with PTSD. And whatever went down between you and Quinn, I would also bet — based on the way she acted tonight — that she is just plain clueless about what it means to suffer the kinds of trauma you've seen. It changes people. And maybe she flat out couldn't handle it. But if you need to be upset, by all means go right ahead. It's no skin off my back on that. Just…. don't make it into something it's not. You're not going to find the answers that you're looking for… they most likely just plain don't exist. What you felt was perfectly real, but relationships are always about perspective."

Elisabeth grins a little. "As if I'm one to talk. Richard being pissed at me about tears my guts out, but you know what's worse?" She pauses and admits, "Knowing that Joshua's friends have taken him somewhere to keep him safe helps… because if I had to bury him again, Ygraine? I don't think I'd survive that."

Gently, and somewhat nervously, Ygraine attempts to shift her grip on Elisabeth, intending to slide her hand further across Liz's shoulders, so that the older woman can be keeled over into a one-armed hug. "I'm…. I thought that begging her would…. I'm sorry. Self-loathing and doubt are old companions. I just sometimes leave the door open for them. I should still be better at focusing on what's urgent. Such as figuring out how Jaiden and Norton and I can stop you from ever having to find out whether or not you can survive disasters. Preferably by some means other than us killing you first, so that nothing else can."

The blonde laughs and leans her head on Ygraine's shoulder. "Begging's just… going to be awkward for all concerned, I think, Ygraine. Move on," Elisabeth tells her softly. "It's all you can do. Either when a lover dies or they leave." She speaks from experience here. "Conrad died on me. Norton… I thought he was dead a couple of times, and then he left. Felix died once and got resurrected somehow, which terrifies the hell out of me. And now Richard's… been dead once and come back, and may be gone for good. There's no way to know. Of all of them…. Richard's the one I buried next to my mother, Ygraine." Which is perhaps the most telling thing she's ever said to the other woman.

There's a long silence and Elisabeth says finally, "There are men in my life that I love, but… I don't know if I'll ever fall in love again. I didn't think that kind of love existed until Richard." She sits upright and looks at Ygraine. "There's a hole in me so big I don't know what to do with it. But I have to keep living and I have to keep hoping, and I have to keep doing the job. If he comes home someday, I'll kiss him stupid and probably slap him silly and cry like a baby, but I don't require him here to survive or to thrive. I'll keep on doing what needs doing, and if I die before I see him again, well…." She smiles faintly. "Then I'll see him in Hell, cuz no matter what he thinks we'll land in the same place, he and I. And if I'm wrong and there's someone else out there who can get through all the hurt someday?" She shrugs. "He won't begrudge me that either, just as I don't begrudge him Harmony."

News of burial prompts a long, shuddering intake of breath from Ygraine - displacing the slight brow-arch that had appeared in response to the litany of people from whom Elisabeth has supposedly moved on. Indeed, the image of adjacent graves leaves her speechlessly eyeing Liz for a few moments.

Then it's her turn to keel over, resting her head on Liz's shoulder now. "I… had had idiot notions of staying with Robyn for life. Her, me and Jen. Me as the idiotically goofy and lucky adjunct to the two artistes. I'm glad she's out there. And I'm hoping that Jen's not combusted upon hearing news of my present situation. So I don't pretend it compares to having them killed. But there's still a hole. And while I'm getting better at papering over it, every now and then I get surprised, and…. I'd actually be surprised if you didn't see Richard again, you know? Genuinely surprised. I'm not saying soon, or that it'll be sweetness and light whenever he shows up - but doesn't it seem less likely that he'll never come back for you again?"

Elisabeth shrugs slightly and rests her head on top of Ygraine's. "I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way," the blonde quotes softly. A sad smile twists her lips. "No one said it would be in this lifetime. But I'll be okay." Someday. "In the meantime, lady… you and I have work to do. And I can't have you on your knees begging a woman who clearly doesn't deserve you to return your feelings." She turns her face and kisses Ygraine's hair. "Take a deep breath, put on your big girl panties, and get on with it."

"Who said I wore panties?", Ygraine asks dryly, before lifting her head and mustering a slightly laboured wink and salacious leer for Elisabeth's 'benefit'. "I've been struggling to trust people, for years. This… whole thing really didn't help. But I feel able to trust you. And that's partly why you have me dumping irrelevant crap on you. But I am trying to be useful, I promise. I just figured I shouldn't tell you every time I went off to play in tunnels. But the scouting is on-going. Get me the resources, and I should be able to start setting up a few fall-back positions for us. And I can also haul someone else along to review things, rather than trusting wholly to my own judgement. Given his technical skills and mastery of fluid dynamics, I'd recommend Jaiden, if you can spare him for extended spelunking."

Elisabeth grins at the rejoinder and nudges Yg with a shoulder. "You'll be fine. Quit overthinking it. Take Jaiden whenever you like. Just be careful down there — a few fallback locations at this point would be wonderful. And if you find someplace that would be a suitable one for the monster that Bao-Wei Cong has become…." She purses her lips. "Set that up too. I'm thinking he may prove terribly useful in the not-too-distant future." There are some plans percolating behind those blue eyes.

Ygraine shoots Elisabeth a thoroughly startled look. "If you have any recommendations for his requirements, please do feel free to pass them on", she suggests. "Are we still to avoid him like the plague? And I'll happily let Jaiden know that you've given him to me as a present now. Though that might get his hopes up. Or dash them. I'm not sure…."

A somewhat sheepish cough, and she lowers her gaze to her lap, then flips open the CD case - blink-blinking at a hand-written addition to both leaflet insert and CD. 'Really do miss you - <3 Robyn Quinn'

She moves to climb off Ygraine's bedroll and reverently opens the keyboard case, setting it carefully between two of the crates they have stacked in the room. Glancing over her shoulder toward Ygraine, Elisabeth smiles. And her power reaches out to enclose them carefully in a bubble so as not to alert anyone to the presence of people, and her fingers dance across the piano keys. Nothing like "An Englishman in New York" to mess with a Brit.

Though surprised, Ygraine laughs as she shakes her head at Elisabeth - then provides a word-perfect accompaniment to the musician's playing. The hymn to eccentricity seems to be very warmly welcomed indeed.

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