Comforts Of Home


elisabeth3_icon2.gif des4_icon.gif

Scene Title Comforts of Home
Synopsis They have a way of both helping and killing you.
Date January 2014 to November 2014

January 17, 2014

Jackson Heights, Queens

Kaylee gave her a heads-up that of all things, there is someone else from Liz's world in this one — and it's WHO??? Odessa Price? That's…. Utterly fucking terrifying. But in another place and time, Odessa Price saved Elisabeth's life by helping her get away from the Institute.

Although she's wary of this meeting, because she's been warned that Odessa in this world works for Arthur… she sends word that she'd like to talk to her. Not in Unity Park — instead, she chooses a small park in Jackson Heights, not far from (unbeknownst to Liz) where RayTech now stands in her home timeline. She waits there, ignoring the fact that it's fucking cold because it offers multiple egresses for all parties concerned. Blue jeans, a white knitted winter hat on her head, and a peacock-blue scarf and gloves over a black wool coat are what Odessa is looking for. She waits on a bench in an open spot in the park, a cup of coffee in her hands and another sitting on the bench next to her as she waits.

It might seem appropriate if Odessa seemed to materialize next to Elisabeth out of thin air, but there’s a fair amount of respect that the temporal manipulator has for the other woman. She does her the courtesy of approaching on foot. Her coat is a thing of grey herringbone wool over a simple black dress. A yellow scarf is wrapped around her throat and left to drape and occasionally be caught to dance in the wind.

“Ms Harrison,” Des greets with a faint smile. “It’s good to see a familiar face.” Not that she isn’t surrounded by them. The features may be familiar, but the lives… It hasn’t been long since she stepped back into her counterparts boots, as it were. The last thing she wants to do is ruin Odessa’s life by running away from it. As tempting as that is. “I hear congratulations are in order.”

Blue eyes come up as she's approached, and Elisabeth's body language indicates wariness. "Kaylee's explained … at least some. She believes you… and I trust her, Odessa. Do you remember the last conversation we had?" It's honestly the one way she can think of to verify for herself that this is the same Odessa from her world — the last time they spoke, there was a tension and a definite instruction to 'take care of business' or Liz would do it for her. The virus was a scary thing indeed.

“I believe you promised to put a bullet in my stomach and promised me no one would hear it.” There’s no hard feelings about that one. Des is fond of a well-levelled threat, after all. She even smiles, and without the usual coldness in her expression. A lot has changed over the years.

Her shoulders roll as she considers what she wants out of this meeting. She isn’t so sure she hasn’t already gotten it. Seeing Elisabeth alive is more than a small relief. “I imagine you’d like news from back home.” She can only assume the other woman is actually trying to return to their world. Her gut tells her it’s not a bad assumption.

Liz's shoulders slump a little and she looks down, hiding the flash of tears. Jesus… someone from home. When she looks back up, she offers a shaky smile. "I would really like any news you can give me about home. Kaylee said it's 2018 there… and we're not back yet." The hurt that flashes through her expression is visceral and deep. It means that their attempts are failing as of that time point. "I, uhm… don't really know how well you know anyone in my circle of people, but anything you can tell me is more than welcome." She bites her lip, she has about a million questions, but she doesn't want just flood the other woman with them.

“No,” Des confirms with a shake of her head. “But there are promising leads.” Tentatively, she reaches out to rest a hand on Elisabeth’s shoulder. “Richard is doing everything he can to bring you back.” She isn’t sure how that bit of information is going to be met, but she hopes it’s the reassurance she means it to be.

"So… he knows we didn't die, then?" Elisabeth is unsure if that's a blessing or a curse, honestly. But she can't help a watery smile. "Of course he is… for God's sake, if or when you swap back, remind him he's not allowed to destroy a timeline trying to get us back, please? We've had that conversation before. He promised." Zeke lost his mind, after all. Her brows pull together a little. "Is he okay, Odessa? Is my father… ? God, I can't even imagine. Five years. Have they known all along that we weren't dead?" she wonders.

Beneath her hand on Liz's shoulder, there's a fine tremor running through the audiokinetic. Despite the warning, the shock is still pretty major, and the sudden flushing of grief, relief, jubilation, and a whole host of other emotions has her in a bit of an uproar, though she's good at not showing it too much. "What happened after we got thrown through? How did you even get involved in most of this? Did we actually manage to take Zeke down?"

“You beat him.” There’s a squeeze of her hand at that. “Richard confronted him and… he’s gone. The Institute is essentially no more.” Except for the few stragglers still holed up. She’s counted among that number by most. “For years, people thought you and Magnes had died. But something… happened. There’s a video. We don’t know how it came through, but it showed you were alive.”

Des sighs softly and shakes her head a little helplessly. “I haven’t seen it. I don’t understand everything, but I know it gave everyone the hope they needed that you were alive. And that you could come back. We understand you were in the future we averted, where the virus had wiped out the population. I didn’t expect to find you here.” For as much as she’s trapped in the loop, Des feels very out of it.

“Your father’s a nice man. Very strong. I think… I think he’s doing okay. Given the circumstances.”

That last brings a brilliant smile to her face. "The circumstances… are so much more weird than you think. But I'm really glad to hear that he's okay. He is pretty strong. I hoped…. That if things went south, he'd help take care of my people." Elisabeth hesitates and tries to put together her thoughts.

"Okay…. I have about a billion things I want to ask or tell you to tell other people when you go home, just because… well, if you swapped consciousnesses, at SOME point one of you will wake up and things will revert, right? Or at least… we're all hoping so?" She reaches up as if to shove her hand through her hair, but she's got a hat on, and so she settles for dragging a gloved hand down her face as a method of attempting to pull herself together.

She and Des were not exactly friends, not exactly enemies. More like… cautious detente, mostly? But Liz isn't stupid enough to look this gift horse in the mouth. "Uhm… I need you to memorize some stuff to take back with you whenever you make it. Because… given the givens… it sounds like I might not make it home again." She looks up and meets Odessa's eyes. "Who are you in all of this, Odessa? Because if I give you what I know to take home with you… it's a level of trust unprecedented between you and me. Don't fuck with me, don't lie to me… just… be straight. If you're standing against all the shit I've fought for, we'll just go our ways here and I'll ask you to please please just let my father and Richard know I'm working on it." She pauses. "But you've met my father. And you call Richard something other than 'Cardinal'… so I'm really hoping that it means we're all somehow that I don't even understand on the same side in all of this."

The desperate hope that is embodied in Odessa's person is reflected in Elisabeth's expression. She wants to believe in this. It's the first time in years that she's had real hope.

There’s a deep inhale as Des begins to consider how to start this explanation. “I don’t know how I got here, or if I’ll ever manage to go back, but yes. We’re all hoping I’ll just… wake up in the right body and the right world again. Just like how I wound up here in the first place.” And she’s hoping she doesn’t have to wait until 2018 to do it.

“Richard’s seen something. He says you’ll… Something’s going to happen, and I guess there’s hope you’ll be home for Christmas.” It’s Christmas a little less than five years from now, but it’s still something. “He’s looking into something called the Looking Glass. It’s supposed to provide a window between worlds. We think it can be a door.

With a deep sigh, Des moves to take a seat on a park bench. “Richard and I, even before this, were separated. I’m on your side here. I’m on your side at home. But you may not feel that way when you get back, and I’ll respect that. I promise I’ll give you the whole story when you’re back. Right now, it… it doesn’t change the plan of attack. With the Institute gone, I’m wanted by the government again. To protect Richard and everything he’s built, I had to leave him.”

Tears prick at her eyes and Des tries to blink them away. “I’m not able to help him like I used to, but I’m trying. I can still pass messages. I’ll tell him whatever you need me to tell him.” Pressing her lips together, she tips her head back so she can look up at Elisabeth, hoping her sincerity is believed.

Elisabeth hands her the spare cup of coffee when she sits down finally, turning more to face Odessa while they talk. A rueful smile quirks the corners of her lips at the phrasing in some of that. "Oh my… you do have it bad," she observes quietly. "Well… I can't decide whether that makes it more or less likely that you're telling the truth on this, but if Richard let you near my father, he trusts you enough. And I trust him. So…" She shrugs slightly, vaguely amused. Later it might hit her that she's angry in some ways. But not really at either of the two people involved… more mad at the universe for this whole fucked-up situation.

"Let's unpack the personal stuff … maybe after I've had a little time to assimilate?" Liz offers quietly. "I think I'd rather use this meeting to give you the more objective information that needs to go home with you just in case you wake up tomorrow. Sound like a plan?"

Des can’t help but laugh a bit when Liz says she has it bad. She’s not wrong, she knows, but that doesn’t mean she likes it very much. “I agree. I have no idea when it will happen. We should definitely go over your message.” There’s a small sniffle that causes her to rub the back of her hand against the tip of her nose, but it doesn’t get worse than that. “Lay it on me.”

Elisabeth shoulder-bumps her lightly when she laughs. "That man. He does have his moments," she comments, shaking her head. She's still amused that of all the people who could have shown up, it has to be someone tied up in Richard Cardinal. Blowing out a slow breath, she begins.

"Okay… long story very much less long: Looking Glass is a door. It was developed by Richard's mother. In 1982, it activated…. And much like what happened to me and Magnes, it activated across multiple timelines at the same time. People came through. Here in this world there were 16 of them. I don't know how many landed in— let's call it Prime timeline cuz it's where you and I live. And I'm pretty sure there's at least one other timeline involved… because apparently I was one of the ones who came through in that first episode. I wasn't born in our Prime timeline. The counterpart of me who lives here in this time isn't the one who was born here. The one born here along with her father was killed in an accident a couple years before the event, so this Liz and her father were 'reintegrated' and given back stories. I can only assume the situation back home was similar and when people landed there, Charles Deveaux did the same thing — reintegrated us where we could be integrated. I have blocked memories that were put in place to protect me from other people. I need you to give Richard as much of that information as you can remember by the time you get there, and if you remember NOTHING ELSE… you tell him that the old witches should have knowledge of all of this. Deveaux allowed certain people like Kaito Nakamura to retain enough information to understand what was going on if that spiral in the sky ever appeared again."

It's a lot of information to take in, but … it's the shortest version that Liz can really come up with.

“Jesus,” Des breathes out as she listens to the explanation. It is a lot to take in, but it makes sense given what she already knows. “Does it still exist here then? We’re looking for it in our world. Eve Mas has had visions.” She finally sips at the coffee she was given and frowns thoughtfully. “I can remember all that. Especially the important part.”

Running her tongue over her teeth, she tries to reconcile what it all means for them. Here and there. “I can sympathize with the blocked memories… That’s part of what Richard’s been trying to help me with. What do you make of it all? Do you think it’s the key to going home?” Could she even trust that way herself?

Quirking a brow, Elisabeth asks curiously, "You have memories blocked by Deveaux as well? Or are we talking about memories taken away by the Company?" Because it makes for an interesting thought. "I don't… honestly, this is the part of shit that I always left to Richard to deal with. I can't even wrap my head around some of this timeline bullshit. I can never keep it quite straight. That said… if messing with your memories was what you were doing when you landed here? I'd say it's likely related. Whether it's the key to going home or not, that's… I can't even begin to guess. I guess the answer's yes, if it's what brought you here."

Pausing, Liz nibbles on her lip. "Yes, the machine still exists here. Arthur fucking Petrelli has it, I'm sure. Kaito Nakamura has been trying to help us get home, and he knows Arthur has at least some of the old research notes from Michelle's partner, Richard Schwenkman. If Richard can find that guy back home, maybe he can help try to locate whatever might be left on that end." She grimaces a little. "But I suspect all of that intel was in the Institute archives in Massachusetts… so if that attack destroyed stuff, it's entirely possible that it's all gone. It just depends on whether Ezekiel had it other places."

“I think Richard has some leads…” Des trails off and stares into the distance, past the other activity in the quiet park. “I don’t know if the Company is solely to blame for what happened to my memories or not. All I know is that I don’t know what to believe anymore. There are huge chunks of my life just… missing from the time before I broke out of the facility. I always thought it was just because my life was boring.” But how could a life with all the outrageous things seen within the Company be that?

“If any of that information still exists,” she says of the Institute archives, diverting again from her own woes, “he’ll find it. I’ve never seen determination like his before.”

Elisabeth sips her coffee as she listens, feeling sympathy for the other woman despite their history. "Hmmm," she breathes out quietly. "Don't… let him obsess, Odessa." She hesitates and then looks away across the park, worry for Richard drawing her brows together. "His determination is a good trait, one I've always admired… but we all saw what happened when it wasn't properly channeled, too. When he lost his mind to grief and to the obsession that he could fix everything." When she looks back to Odessa, she offers softly, "I don't know if you should tell him about … everything you learn here."

The hesitation to say her daughter's name out loud is more a hitch around the lump in her throat than any real reluctance. She both wants the man to know and doesn't. "I don't know whether to ask you to tell him about her or not… if it will just make all of this so much worse for him."

“He…” There’s a moment where Des falls quiet again to think about what she wants to say. Or if she should say it. “He deserves to know,” she decides. “Wouldn’t you want to know you had more family out there?” Admittedly, Odessa has always been biased on this point. She’s spent years wishing she had a family and a place to belong. Even finding out her family was gone before she ever had a chance to be a part of it was better than the years spent not knowing.

It doesn’t always occur to her that her feelings on the matter may not be universal.

“He’s not Ezekiel. He’s got support and… He’s not damaged like that. I know I don’t need to tell you to give him credit, and I know you trust him.” Des shrugs her shoulders, feeling a little helpless. “If you really don’t want him to know, I promise my lips are sealed. It’s your life.” And there are a slew of conflicting feelings that come from letting Richard know the greatest love of his life gave him a daughter. She could take the guilt, and the out.

"Fffft," Elisabeth snorts. "Of course he's not. That's not my worry — I'm just worried how much more sadness to heap on that man. I found both of his parents, a metric ton of information we could really use back home, and oh by the way, I didn't know it but when Ezekiel nearly killed both of us, I was knocked up!" She rolls her eyes. "That's gonna go over well," she says drily.

Blowing out a breath, she grins faintly. "He does deserve to know. Please try to have a little more tact than I just offered when you tell him?" is all Liz asks. "His daughter's name is Aurora, and she was born in June 2012."

Thinking about Richard and family, though, a lightbulb goes off over her head. "Oh shit! One more thing! Tell him to find his mother's dorm room down in Kansas. Magnes and… someone else… found a bunch of mathematical equations under the paint in her dorm room. Like she was using the wall for a damn white board. At least, here she was. They have something to do with determining frequencies, and I have no idea if that will help him at all. And also…. "

She pauses. "Give him the name Thomas Redhouse. He's a prophetic painter here…. Magnes found him in upstate New York not far from Dad's cabin. He's…" Elisabeth grimaces. "He was the one driving when Michelle darted out into the road and got killed," she tells Odessa quietly. "He never forgot that night because of the aurora over the sky… but there are no coincidences in this, and if he's still alive in our world, I dunno. Maybe he'll help Richard."

“Aurora’s a beautiful name,” Des comments quietly. “I know the circumstances aren’t ideal, but… I think you’re very lucky.” She offers a brief flash of a smile and covers her awkwardness with another drink of coffee.

Lowering the cup again, she nods. “Michelle’s dorm and Thomas Redhouse. Got it.” It seems there are more answers to be found in Kansas.

End of March, 2014

The bell above the coffee shop door jingles merrily as Des pushes it open and makes her way inside. It seems Elisabeth has beaten her here this time - one would think Des might be better at time management, but there’s a certain taking for granted that happens due to her ability. A little sheepishly, she slides into the seat across the table from her friend after draping her coat across the back of the chair.

“Tell me you have pictures to show me? I could use the pick-me-up.” Des shakes her head with a little sigh. “Something’s going on with James and work and I’m never sure how safe it is to dig into any of it.” In the time since she’s come here, she’s started to grow comfortable in the marriage that isn’t hers, even if she does feel an immense sense of guilt for the role she’s playing.

Pursing her lips, Elisabeth laughs. "Woman… come on, when don't I have photos to show you?" She hands her phone across to Odessa with the photo app open and lets her browse at her leisure. There are, as one might expect, a lot of pictures of the toddler who has Richard Cardinal's hazel eyes. She's with other people — adults and other children — and there are a rare few that someone else obviously used Liz's phone to take of the baby with her mother, because well… otherwise there wouldn't be any of those kind of shots! There are also other pictures in there, and Odessa by now is familiar with the faces of Felix Ivanov and Cassandra, who takes care of Aura a lot, and Ygraine.

Sipping from her own coffee, Elisabeth asks quietly, "You holding up okay in there? I swear, between you being spitting distance from that man and Magnes working in the lab there, I am a train wreck." She hesitates and then can't contain the excitement on this one — Odessa wanted good news! "I got my first headliner gig." She seems a little … deferential? … about telling Odessa. "The club has me on under the stage name Raven Harper." The excitement in her tone is evident, sharing it is something she's a little nervous about. All the work she's been doing with her power to help this along, it's the actual performing that excites her.

“She is too cute. I didn’t think it was possible for babies to be this cute.” Des scrolls through the pictures with an absent smile on her face, not quite aware of how much it makes her light up to see the little girl. Elisabeth, of course, sees it every single time.

With a little sigh, she hands the phone back after she finishes browsing through the latest batch. “I walk in, say I have nothing to report, endure some disappointment, and walk back out again. So far, that tactic’s working. Being on a nearly impossible task seems to be helping.” She’s wanted to ask for a meeting with Kaito Nakamura, but has too much fear that the knowledge could be exploited somehow later. Des has no desire to hand over the Nakamuras to Arthur Petrelli.

“Raven Harper, huh? That’s a killer stage name. I like it.” She grins and reaches across the table to squeeze Liz’s hand briefly. She’s pleased by the good news. “I’m so proud of you.”

"Of course she's cute! She's a Cardinal, isn't she?" Elisabeth grins. "Her father makes a killing with that grin." She rolls her eyes. "And every damn time she bats her eyes at me, I swear I turn into a puddle of goo. She's gonna make mincemeat of my father and hers."

What baby doesn't?

She grips the offered hand tightly and studies the other woman. "Does it sound ridiculous that I needed to hear that? I mean…. I'm pretty sure at some point, we hated each other or something. Hate's probably too strong a word here. But you know what I mean. Just…" Liz has trouble verbalizing it. "It's sort of like telling you means that maybe someday… my dad'll know all those piano lessons and my music minor were actually worth something, I guess?" Her chuckle is self-deprecating. "Not that I remember college or anything, but you know… he did pay for it."

There’s a wave of fear that washes over Des when she considers that the two of them may not be friends once she finds out the truth about her. It’s covered with a smile. “If you ever want someone to practice with, I’m always happy to plunk the keys for you.” The Nightingale may not be able to carry a song, but she still has her knack for music.

“I know he’s already proud of you,” Des says of Elisabeth’s father, “but I’m sure he’ll beam when he hears about this.”

When she says that, Elisabeth actually goes a little bit awkward. She squeezes Des's hand once more and leans back to sip her coffee, looking a little pleased but also thoughtful. "In the virus world… I don't know if Kaylee ever told you, but … you were teaching the kids piano. That version of you died not long before we arrived there. I actually… got put in the room she used, and she had sheet music on the walls. I took over those lessons." Looking up, she shrugs a little and offers, "Weird thought. Do you remember back when people were having those dreams that flashed forward?" She pauses, and then says, "In that world, we weren't exactly friends either… and you worked for Ezekiel there too. But… that version of you also helped that version of me escape him. Even knowing that I might not be able to do a damn thing to help her back when the time came for her to do a runner too. I never exactly imagined this scenario any more than I could have imagined those ones."

There's a brief grin. "I think we better come up with a code word for you to give me when we meet up, though — it occurs to me the other Odessa might come back and how the hell would I even know until she tries to kill my ass?" Which, given that Arthur is actively searching for the 'invaders' isn't actually a strange worry to have.

“She sounded like a good person,” Des says of her other self with a little sadness. She knows too well about the death of Odessa Knutson in the virus-ridden world. “I hope you put her music to good use. I’m sure she would have liked that a lot.” At least she feels she can speak to that with some authority.

“It is strange to think we’re friends after… everything. I remember the dream I had, about the other you asking for help. I guess I could always tell you have a noble heart.” Des shrugs, grimacing faintly at how cheesy that sounds once she says it out loud. “I haven’t always been a good person. I don’t know if I am now. But I’m trying. And having a friend like you… helps.”

Looking down at her hands, she fiddles with the wedding ring on her finger for a moment before she looks up again and nods. “You’re right. We need some kind of code. For what it’s worth, I don’t think she knows who Richard is. I couldn’t dig up much about him on my own here. Maybe something about Cardinal would be good?”

"You don't think after all this time in our world, she's going to have information or contact with him," Elisabeth asks curiously. But she smiles at the idea. And blushes at the 'noble heart' compliment, unsure what to even do with it. "Let's do it this way… whenever we meet, you ask me how Morgan is doing. Don't do it over texts, since if she pops back in, it'll be a record. But Aura doesn't go by her middle names, so it'll let me know for sure it's you."

She tilts her head. "Not sure what to do by text, honestly… Especially since you're living with Woods." Elisabeth has tried to simply make a point of being supportive of what Odessa has to do to survive and hasn't delved into the details of what it entails, not unless Odessa wants to chat. "Does he still say crazy shit like Jesus Christ on a bicycle?" she asks, just because the man's epithets always make her laugh.

“God, good point. I try not to think about what she must be doing to my life,” Des admits. If she thinks about it too hard, she worries that the other her back home has been captured or worse. “Morgan sounds like a great code. Maybe we’ll keep the serious stuff to verbal conversations. If you get the sense that something’s off, you call me and see if I get it right. If Woods is around, I’ll say something to that end.”

She grins widely at the question. “Yes. He still has a very colorful vocabulary.” She looks a little starry eyed at that. Even though she’s never had a relationship like this with the Woods of her own world, Des always admired him. Apart from the fact that he was alive, it didn’t shock her that much to discover her counterpart had taken up with him. That he’d accepted her, well…

Chuckling, Elisabeth admits, "I'm pretty sure that the tape you described from Virus had him doing something about Jesus fucking Christ on a bicycle. And I think maybe there was one time he said something about Jesus fucking Christ with a paper bag on his head or some such shit." She shakes her head. "I'm in awe of the versatility and creativeness of his hollering," she laughs.

"I definitely think that code would work. Probably best we don't ever text anything meaningful anyway. You just never know." Elisabeth shrugs slightly. "Too many of all of us are sort of circling in Petrelli's orbit right now, and I don't want to chance anyone getting hurt."

Early Sept 2014

They've done so well in the months since Odessa landed in this world. By now, Liz and Odessa both have to be wondering if the temporal manipulator is just as trapped as the rest of them are, though neither of them has voiced the concern. It makes it too real. Elisabeth has skivved off two separate meets with Odessa in the past couple weeks, and the excuses have been certainly valid… but they haven't felt right. There's an undertone to the audiokinetic's voice that carries deeper emotions than she often allows anyone to see.

It's not until she's dropped Aurora off at the daycare that Liz picks up on the fact that she's got a shadow as she starts off on a run through the park. Uncertain of the purpose or the identity of that shadow, it triggers problems that her shadow might not have expected. Elisabeth rounds the curve in a path, peels off into the grass and around a tree, and then when her follower moves into range, she steps out and shoves with her power, tripping the person and quite literally basically jumping them here in the open.

It's probably not the best time to be the friend of a paranoid dimension-hopping former terrorist/cop/soldier. Liz actually looks … pretty damn deadly with her blue eyes trained coldly on the woman on the ground. "What. The. Fuck?"

Stopping time can’t save Odessa from hitting the ground. But it does at least give her a look at what’s coming at her before it’s more of a threat. The only hint that anything is amiss to Elisabeth is that the blonde hit the ground way faster than she should have. Like there were frames missing from the shot.

Des is catching her breath as she stares up. “Shit. Didn’t know you could do that,” she offers up, impressed. She’s about to say something else when it occurs to her that this situation could go much further sideways very quickly if she doesn’t take care of the most important thing: “How’s Morgan?”

It's clearly a very good thing that she spoke when she did. Because Elisabeth does know at least some of what Dessa can do, and if the woman had wanted her dead, she'd have never seen it coming … but that doesn't mean Liz wasn't primed to fight back really hard. She hesitates momentarily, obviously trying to rein in whatever her instinct was going to be to do next, and holds her hand out to help Odessa to her feet. The scowl on her features is pretty deep, and if Des pays attention, the surrounding sounds of birds, city, and wind no longer seem to be happening around them. "Why the fuck are you following me? Odessa, … for Christ's sake, you have no idea what I could do!"

“You’ve been ducking me!” The silence around them isn’t lost on her. It feels familiar in the way that the stillness created by her ability is. It’s a little strange to see the trees still swaying with the breeze, however. “I was worried something had happened to you. Or that you picked up a tail.” Des shakes her head quickly, “Other than me, I mean. I wanted to be sure you were safe.”

Elisabeth shoves her hand over her hair, messing with her ponytail. "I'm as safe as I'm ever going to be in this fucking trainwreck of a world," she retorts in a tight tone. "It would be a hell of a lot better if my friends weren't sneaking about behind me, though." The on-edge timbre to her voice is more obvious in person. "Any minute I'm expecting that Petrelli's going to knock down Magnes's door and drag them all kicking and screaming from their beds, and God only knows who they'll send. Half the time, I'm pretty fucking sure it'll be you!" The low hum is becoming evident around her body. "You're going to wake up one morning, or for fuck's sake, in the middle of a conversation like this, and you're going to be the enemy. I'm sick and fucking tired of not being sure of anyone. And frankly, I'm kind of amazed that you picked such a stupid fucking way to check up on me! I know you're going to do whatever you have to do to survive here, Dess — I'd like the courtesy of a warning up front when you do decide Petrelli has a better offer for you."

It's unfair in the extreme, and Liz knows it deep down. But she doesn't seem to have the capability of reining in her tongue. "There's not much I can offer in the way of information or anything else to induce you to stay on my side — his will likely be the safer one as long as you play ball. And you're good at it."

There are two emotions at war here: sorrow and anger. In the end, it’s the latter that wins out. “I walk into that office every week and lie through my teeth. For you, for Magnes, for Kaylee. I’m not about to flip on you just because he promises me money or…” Des throws her hands up in the air. “There is nothing he could promise me! You aren’t the only one in danger here, you self-absorbed—”

Instantly, she regrets her words, but she doesn’t retract them. Her face is bright red and tears still unshed sting at her eyes. “What do you think he’d do to me if he knew? This isn’t just your secret. I know I have no control of if I ever go back to our own world, but… Jesus, Liz.”

Oh, no no no. Liz can feel the reaction to that accusation … and she struggles really really hard not to put it into words. "Self-absorbed??" Fails utterly. "Oh my fucking God, Odessa… you have no concept of how not fucking self-absorbed I am. And you have no fucking clue of the horrors that I have already seen in the past two years. Do you fucking think I expect to get out of this world alive? I don't. I'm reasonably sure at this point that there isn't a snowball's chance in hell that I'll ever lay eyes on my home again. And if I'm brutally honest about it? I don't deserve to — I've managed to literally get half of the population of refugees that Edward Ray saved killed trying to get here. I faced off with Kazimir fucking Volken again in Gabriel Gray's body and then …. God forgive me, he took over the one person—" She stops.

"And I watched our own strike team barbecue innocent children to try to escape that world. I'd fucking disappear with Aurora off to Australia if I could, except that I have some slim possibility of a hope that somehow along the way here, I'll be able to get her home to her father."

The audiokinetic is literally shaking right now — whatever had her on edge to start with, this confrontation has blown the lid on all the things she's held back. She gestures wide with her arm. "This place? If you're happy enough to keep your fucking head down and toe the line — and do not even try to tell me that's not how you operate — this fucking place is a paradise. Who cares if there's a rotten core? Chances are halfway decent it won't fall to pieces until we're old and fucking gray. The only thing that keeps me fighting any of this bullshit is that little girl and what she deserves. What the people of that fucking Virus-ridden hellhole deserve — a life. I have one purpose in this whole fucking universe — and it's to protect everyone else, to hell with what I want."

She stops and looks up, her words catching in her throat.

“You’re right. This isn’t my life and I may not be stuck here forever. The stakes aren’t quite as high for me. But I’m beginning to think this might be my life and my world now. All I’m trying to do is keep the psychopath from getting suspicious and bringing everything down around us all.” Des keeps her voice soft, trying to inject some reason into her anger. “It’s not a paradise to me.” Surrounded by family and friends, and still she feels alone. Too afraid to relax and enjoy any of it.

“I’m sorry, Liz. I’m sorry I can’t do anything else to be a safer person to have in your life. I’m sorry I can’t do more to help you all find a way out of this place.” Now the tears start to fall. There’s an aborted reach for her friend, but Des retracts her hand before she makes contact. “I didn’t mean what I said. I just… I’m not that person anymore. I’m trying really hard not to be.” She stares down at her shoes, feeling wounded still.

Dear God… what is she doing? Liz doesn't even know right now. She walks two paces away, bends over for a long moment with her hands on her knees, and seems to be breathing hard. When she pushes upright, there is genuine regret in her face as she turns toward Odessa. "I'm … Jesus Christ. I'm sorry, Odessa." There are tears streaking her face and she shakes her head. "You don't deserve any of that. Maybe you did once, probably not… I don't even know. Who the fuck even am I to judge anyone for anything they've done?" She reaches up, rubbing at the side of her forehead. "Five years ago this week… Emile Danko put a bullet through my head after his goon squad held me for three days. This is… a difficult time of year. I have a lot of nightmares, even now. What's really sad is that I actually have some nightmares that are worse than being tortured."

Biting her lip, she shakes her head and then moves to sit on the grass next to the other woman, her arms resting over her updrawn knees. "Someday, I'm pretty sure you'll make it home, lady. And if you do… just… if you can, protect my dad? And Richard? Maybe tomorrow, I'll find some optimism that I might get home too someday… but honestly, today? This week? It's all I can do to put one foot in front of the other. I'm so sorry you got caught in the backlash."

Des sits down in the grass next to Liz and wraps an arm around her shoulders. “It’s okay. I don’t deserve a whole lot of sympathy from people, I know. I haven’t done a lot to deserve it. But… I’m trying. And it still hurts when I remember that trying isn’t enough.”

She listens to the reasons why her friend’s been so elusive and nods slowly. She understands it better than she might expect in some ways. “I get it. I dream about the days I died, too. Doesn’t matter how much I don’t want to think about it. Doesn’t matter that it didn’t take. It still happened.” Shoulder nudges shoulder gently. “We really lead some weird lives, don’t we? How many people sit around swapping death stories?” For others’ sakes, she hopes not many. “I haven’t got the eyepatch and the scars anymore back home. I look more or less like this. Like I used to. Too bad everything nice always comes with some kind of catch.”

"Ffft. Look… " Elisabeth trails off, leaning into the offered arm and can't help a sardonic smile. "If push comes to shove, I'm … almost sure I've actually killed more people than you. So… I don't think people in glass houses should throw very many stones." She shakes her head slightly. "Weird does not begin to cover our lives, Odessa. We're definitely not allowed to have nice things… I'm pretty sure it's written in a cosmic rulebook somewhere. Even when we have nice things, we break them!"

Reaching up, she brushes at her damp cheeks, shooting a grin at the other woman. The change in subject is a complete shift, but it's a good one. "You don't, huh? Well… that's a good thing!" She studies Des's shoes as they sit there. "Trying is all any of us can do, you know. And on the days we fail… we pick ourselves back up and try again tomorrow. Brand new day." A rueful smile accompanies that statement. "My dad's just full of those kinds of sayings. Used to drive me crazy. But the older I get, the more I realize he's a pretty smart guy."

“I’m going to do everything I can to protect him, okay? Him and Richard both. They’re good people. The world needs more of that. All of them.” Des nudges her head against Elisabeth’s gently, affectionate. “My mother’s still alive in this world. But things are… weird. Complicated.” She lifts a hand and seesaws it in the air in front of her. “Time stuff. It’s wibbly. And she’s over there.

That draws a heavy sigh. Because it is complicated and it would be her luck if she were to find her mother only to be torn from her again. “I hope she and I can have a relationship like you have with your dad someday. I don’t know if she trusts me completely either.” To be fair, it’s a two way street. Des can’t trust anyone fully. It’s in her nature. “But I have Mateo. I am… so glad. Back home, we’re still trying to figure everything out. Understand how we’re related and what happened to us. Here, we just kind of accept things for what they are. Maybe that’s what family is?” She’s hardly an expert.

She seems relieved by the assurance, and Elisabeth rests her head against Odessa's lightly in return. "I fucking hate time travel. And dimension travel. Cuz they're basically the same fucking thing," she opines quietly. The information about Des's mother, though, doesn't seem to shock her too much. "Did she get pulled through when we blew the hell out of Natazhat or does she have a power that let her jump?" she wonders idly aloud.

"My parents… are amazing people. I don't know how I got that lucky, but I'm grateful for it every day of my life. Family… is what you make it. It can be blood, but it doesn't have to be. Family, at the bottom of it all, is people. People who have your back, even when they're pissed off at you or maybe even hate you a bit… because you can't hate someone you didn't first love. The opposite of love isn't hate .. it's indifference. Sofor as complicated as it gets… family is the people who piss you off, call you on your bullshit, kick you in the ass, and hold you when you cry." She shrugs a little. "I didn't understand this until Aurora came along? But I promise you that if she's your mother? Like… a real mom. Even if your relationship is crazy, she still loves you."

“I think you’re right…” Des moves to stand and holds her hand out to help Elisabeth do the same. “Come on. Let’s go get some ice cream. And maybe a little alcohol.”

November 9, 2014

Wee hours

Pacing back and forth in the living room of her empty condo, Des holds her phone up to her ear. “Come on, pick up. Pick up, pick up, pick up…” James just got the call about a homicide - Elisabeth Harrison. While Des knows there’s two out there, she can’t help but fear the worst. “Please, please, please…”

With a strangled whine of frustration, she grabs her coat from the rack by the door and starts to pull it on awkwardly, with the phone mashed between her jaw and shoulder to hold it in place. It slips as she shrugs in one arm and she curses when it hits the floor. Ultimately unharmed, but that’s precious seconds where she could have answers.

The worst part about it? She always dies on November 8th. The wee hours of the morning should really see all of them sleeping, but… time has inertia. The cell number Des is calling keeps just going directly to voicemail until finally she gets lucky.

"I'm fine. We're fine," are the first words Elisabeth offers. Not even a 'hello' before the assurance is offered.

Des sighs audibly, almost a sob. Relieved. “Thank God. Then you’ve heard.” Pulling her other arm into her sleeve, she grabs a set of keys off the kitchen counter and Liz can hear the door bang shut behind her as she heads out of her home and down to the street.

“How’s Morgan? And where— Should I come to you? Do you want to meet somewhere? James is working the case and I was… God. I’m so glad to hear your voice.”

Elisabeth's tone is gentle, if grim. "You're welcome to come to the apartment if you like… you know the drill." She pauses and says softly, "Felix is a fucking wreck. I've just been trying to make sure all my people know to lay low. She was a Fed, so it's going to be a massive investigation, I'm sure. Just make sure your GPS is off. I …"

The silence on the other end of the phone is longer and when she speaks again her voice is a little choked. "It's like the universe keeps course correcting… I can't even…"

“I’ll be there as soon as I can. I’ll leave my personal phone here. If you need me to turn away, hang something in the window.” It’s times like these that Des wishes she had Hiro Nakamura’s ability. Or even her husband’s. Being able to teleport to Liz’s side right now would help alleviate her panic.

But soon enough, she’s striding up to the door, glancing at the window to be sure the coast is clear enough, then knocking swiftly, but gently. When the door opens, Des is quick to pull Elisabeth into a tight hug and shove the door shut behind them.

The hug is more welcome than Des can know. It's still too early to take Aurora out to her daycare, and Liz isn't even sure she wants to today. But she's grateful to have people like Ygraine and Odessa right now, who have some idea of the kind of gut-wrenching this news has offered without necessarily being personally invested in the other woman herself. Elisabeth hugs back just as tightly, and when she pulls away she looks… haunted. "She wasn't supposed to die," she murmurs sadly. "This… this wasn't supposed to happen, Odessa."

“I know.” Des reaches up to cup Elisabeth’s face. “It’s not… You couldn’t have known. James will find out what happened to her.” As much as she tried to overhear the phone call he received, they’re both wise enough to keep their work lives separate from home.

“I… Let’s sit down. I’ll tell you a little bit about what I know about my Virus counterpart…” Misery, they say, loves company. Des can provide that in spades at the moment.

Dragging her hand down her face, Elisabeth lets herself be walked to the couch. Des's company is appreciated. Later when the news reports that it's a Sylar-esque murder, it'll hit her hard again. But right now, the thing hitting hardest is just that Bright Liz was supposed to still be alive in 2019 to raise her son. "I'd like that," she says softly as she curls up with the woman who has become one of her more unlikely friends. Even if Des can only stay a little while, it's a distraction and a comfort.

November 23, 2014

It's another piece of the puzzle. Elisabeth now has Taylor Reed safe, and it's something that perhaps will help Richard, if Odessa gets home again. She works on putting together a snack for Aurora while she waits for the phone to ring, having sent a number to Odessa for contact. When the device rings, she picks it up with a smile in her voice. "Hello?"

She expects the first question, as always. How's Morgan? So when the question is, "I have this number requesting a callback — to whom am I speaking?", Elisabeth is caught flat-footed. Swallowing hard, it takes her a moment to recover, and Odessa on the far end demands, "Hello?"

"I'm sorry," Liz replies, her tone surprised. "Is this 555-9803? I was trying to reach Morgan."

"No, I'm sorry… you misdialed. This is 555-9802."

"Oh! Geez, I'm terribly sorry about that. Have a good day!" Elisabeth hangs up immediately, and then presses a hand against her stomach.

Wild elation is swiftly followed by bitter despair.

Odessa's gone home.

To 2018.

Where they still haven't gotten home.

Magnes is dead. Gabriel Gray is dead. Eileen is drowned in shadows. Isabelle and Elaine are grief-stricken. How many people have already died along the path to get even this far?

And here she still stands, against all the odds.

We never win but the battle rages on…
For toy soldiers.

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