Casual Conversations


ff_devon_icon.gif elisabeth_icon4.gif

Scene Title Casual Conversations
Synopsis Familiarity is everywhere, but not even a chat over coffee is the same.
Date December 24, 2018

The Ark

A-Ring Dining Hall

She'd hoped it might be a Christmas present to herself this year. It's been well over a year since she had a good cup of coffee… To sit with a simple cup of ridiculously sweetened and lightened coffee across a table from her father, her travelers safe and enjoying a home-cooked meal in the safety of a place where she could see her father smile and feel Richard's arms, finally, wrapped around her… She'd laugh at her own pipe dream if it didn't hurt so fucking much.

Leaving Cassandra and Aurora sleeping, Elisabeth lets herself out of the room that they've been assigned to seeking breakfast. It's been a tough night. Aurora hardly slept at all, and when she did, she had nightmares. The audiokinetic is looking pretty much as one would expect someone to look after yesterday's roller coaster of ship battles, explosions, people dying, submarines, executions at the dinner table, and then an night of no sleep — exceptionally haggard.

The A-Ring is pretty much a simple series of hallways, dining room clearly marked and centrally located. Food is one thing she seeks in here, but tea or coffee or some facsimile thereof is honestly her main lure at this moment.

Breakfast likely consists of vegetables grown somewhere within the Ark, the same as was proffered at dinner the night before, maybe even some fruit. There’s probably even a gruel of some kind, likely the almost tasteless paste that is more for nourishment than it is for pleasure. Unless you put the vegetables into the mess, of course. But neither of those are set on the table in front of the young man nearest the door. There’s just a mug of some dark-looking liquid that’s supposed to be coffee.

His face is tipped downward, hair hanging so that it obscures his features. But Devon is still too familiar, even though it’s been years since Elisabeth has seen him — the him from another world. He doesn’t look up from the mug when the audiokinetic enters the room. It looks as though he’s sleeping, since there isn’t even a flutter of a glance in her direction and he’s sitting so still.

Until he raises his mug with practiced carefulness, to take a swallow of the hot, darkly colored water.

Her heart is in her throat as she spots him. Much like seeing her mother in this world, it was a face she had not been expecting. One would think she'd be used to that, but… somehow it always still hits hard. Clearing her throat softly, she asks, "Am I allowed to take food back to my quarters?" When he looks up, she jerks her chin toward the cup and asks, "I don't suppose that's real coffee, huh?" The wry tone indicates she definitely expects the answer to be no.

As the mug comes down, Devon’s head tilts upward. “I wouldn’t take the chance,” he answers in the same tones he’d used last night. Not harsh, but not with the easygoing warmth she’d remember. He still doesn’t look at her, but he doesn’t lower his head either. “But you might get away with it.” Something in his tone implies that he’s never tried taking food from the dining hall, either because he’s never had the need or wondered if it was allowed.

“It’s flavored like coffee, but I’d assume the grounds have been soaked several times over.” Likely the same watered down swill that’s prevalent throughout the flooded world.

She considers the likelihood that she'll be stopped in the hall with food, purses her lips, and makes the decision that she's probably going to risk it anyway — in the balance, keeping Aurora the hell away from dining rooms, at least for today, takes priority. To the answer about coffee, she nods slightly. "Well… since most of what I've had for quite some time has been fake tea… fake coffee will be a change of pace," she sighs. Elisabeth moves over toward the counter where the day's offerings are spread. In truth, it reminds her quite strongly of living in the Hub, and so she doesn't seem to flinch at what's set out. She simply stoically fills her plate with Hub-sized portions, making the assumption that things are rationed here, and then brings it back toward the table.

She hesitates, and then says, "If you don't want company, I'll sit over here and leave you alone. If you don't mind the companionship, … may I join you?"

When the audiokinetic walks away, Devon lifts his mug again. He takes another long swallow of the stuff they call coffee and continues to hold the mug near his face after, so that he can feel the warmth of the steam on his face. He's still sitting that way when she returns, but as Liz speaks, he sets the drink down in front of him.

“If you'd like.” The young man’s eyes finally lift and focus on Elisabeth, making the reply an invitation of sorts. It doesn't lessen the watchfulness, the careful study that matches his first reactions to the Travelers’ arrival only hours ago.

Settling into the seat across from the young man, it's a strange sense of deja vu. How many times had she sat like this with her Devon, who smiled so much more easily? "Thank you," Liz replies, her tone deliberately soft. "I, uhm…. Figure if I'm going to get along here, it might be good to make some friends. Are you, uhm… how did you find yourself here?"

Devon’s eyes follow Liz, keeping his full attention on her. “I work here,” he answers plainly. It’s not a secret that he’s been here for a while. “I was awarded an internship to work and learn alongside some of the greatest minds in the world.” The last half dozen words sound almost wry, like there’s lingering or nostalgic reverence for those who’ve mentored him that more recent times have tainted.

"Mmmm. Before the Flood, then," Elisabeth murmurs, working on eating the food in front of her. She wastes nothing, though admittedly the food is nothing to write home about. If there were a home to write to. "What were you studying for your internship, if you don't mind me asking?"

“Nine, coming up on ten years ago.” The words are thoughtful, like he’s surprised to realize it’s been nearly ten years already. Devon doesn’t elaborate immediately on his earliest studies in the Ark, instead he reflects for a moment on the length of time he’s been in its company while taking another slow drink from his mug. “Right out of high school,” he considers as the mug comes down again. “I studied mathematics and science, chemistry mainly. Algorithms…”

Keeping her tone neutral and casual, interest in him for its own sake, Elisabeth nods slightly. "What did you think you wanted to do with all of it when you finished?" she asks curiously. "Chemistry — science in general, really — wasn't exactly my best subject." Though she's learned a hell of a lot more about quantum physics and entanglement than she would have ever thought possible. "I used to teach music," she confesses with a small smile. It's not a lie, though it does leave out some strategic information. She's not sure how much she wants known about her — it's clear that at least some of what Don already knows is bad intel; she'd like to keep it that way.

“I was barely fifteen years old when I accepted the award. I didn’t have any long term plans.” Again, there’s a touch of dry humor in his tone. Devon raises a hand to drag his hair from his face. “Chances are I would have stayed. There were opportunities.” Before the flood. Curling his hand around the mug again, he studies the audiokinetic for a moment, a brow ticking upward. “Music teacher. I wouldn’t have guessed.”

Now she lets him see some amusement. "Oh?" Elisabeth's lips quirk into a faint, vaguely challenging grin. "And what would you have guessed?" she queries easily, genuinely interested in what he might say. In this time and place, she can't even begin to guess.

“Something else.” Devon continues to watch her, observing posture and movement and tone. “A director of some kind, perhaps, used to leading. The way you tried to take charge of your Travelers at dinner.” He makes note of his observations, but leaves the specifics unspoken. There weren't many who'd not frozen when the director threw his tantrum.

"Mmmm." Elisabeth purses her lips and she smiles faintly. "I suppose I have some … directorial experience, yes." Operational director of FRONTLINE Manhattan. Terrorist. Resistance cells through the Wasteland. Yeah… one might say that. The blonde calmly eats her breakfast and says simply, "I was a cop at once point. So bossing people around isn't a new thing. And of course, teaching requires a hell of a lot of people management skills." The explanation is simple and blase enough that if it should be passed along, it's pretty innocuous. But her blue eyes remain on the boy in front of her. "It's, unfortunately enough, not the first time I've been shot at. Although to be fair, I have to admit it's the first time I've been the fish in the barrel."

“It does,” the young man agrees. He's had plenty of teachers and mentors, some very strict, but the presence is different from those demanding excellence on paper and practice than those who demand it because lives depend on it. His eyes narrow slightly, considering. “I could imagine you in law enforcement. It didn't seem as though that was your first time with guns and death.” It's hard to say if it was his. Devon had now way to know what exactly was going to happen, only that he expected something bad. “I'm sorry that you lost people last night.”

Elisabeth takes the time to swallow the bite of 'porridge' perhaps because the lump in her throat won't allow her to answer right away. When she finally does, it's with a soft, simple, "Thank you." She looks down at her bowl, stirring the stuff in it slowly, perhaps debating what to say next. When she looks up at him, it's to pin him with that calm look. "You knew something horrible was about to happen. I saw you shrink low even I as realized he was about to lose his shit," she says quietly. "Have you seen him do it before?"

“A blind man could guess something was going to happen when one of your men started mouthing off.” Devon’s tone stays as casual as it’s been throughout their conversation, but the volume of it dips a little. “I don’t know if he’d planned that ahead of time, or if it was done on a whim. He’s… purpose driven. However, either reason is as likely as the other.”

Elisabeth's blue eyes shift down to her meal so he can't see how they harden. Don's days are numbered, whether the bastard knows it or not. "He certainly planned some show of power," she agrees quietly. Though her appetite has fled, she continues eating what's on her plate. She slants a look upward at the young man who looks so like her Devon and yet isn't. "I'm glad you weren't hit in the crossfire."

He doesn’t need to see Elisabeth’s eyes to know the hard feelings that are being obscured when she looks away, that she looks away is proof enough. Devon raises his mug and makes a noncommittal sound into it before he drains the remaining liquid in two large swallows. “You’re not wrong,” he agrees about the overlying intentions. It was a show of power.

What she says next has him raising a brow again. “A lot of us just wish to survive. Myself included.”

"I'd imagine that all of you just want to survive…" Elisabeth studies him and shrugs slightly. "I always believed survival was best accomplished by giving everyone the hand up instead of making it a zero-sum game, us versus them." She sets her spoon down to pick up the cup of not-coffee. As she sips from it, she's thoughtful. Her voice is very soft, low enough that it shouldn't carry to anyone who could be listening — though she's obviously not sure of that. "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing."

It's a quote that resonates for her, given all that she's seen in the past ten years of her life. And she leaves him to consider that thought, commenting softly, "I've never been one to do nothing." He can take from that what he will.

“There are those who agree with you,” Devon returns in similarly confidential tones. He’s among those who’d prefer to survive, but he has wisdom enough to keep a low profile. He looks at his mug, into the well of it, then pushes himself away from the table. “Take care,” he says as a way to excuse himself. And as a warning for what he’s sure Liz is already beginning see without being told.

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