Coming To Grips


elisabeth_icon2.gif magnes_icon2.gif

Scene Title Coming to Grips
Synopsis Four days is not enough time to figure wrap your brain around everything that's happened. But they have to start somewhere.
Date January 20, 2012

Liz and Ygraine's rent-by-the-week Hole in the Wall

Overwhelmed by all that happened in Virus, Elisabeth refused to talk for a while about what came next. They had identities, they had credentials supplied by Tamara… which, she remembers vaguely happened when people traveled even further forward a couple of years ago… oh God, time travel gives her a headache!!! That's what she told Magnes several times when she asked him to JUST RELAX FOR A LITTLE WHILE so that she could sort out her brain. Finally, she is ready to talk about this. When she lets him into the place she and Ygraine are staying, the blonde looks a little more like her usual self, albeit still far far too thin. Especially considering she's two months or so farther along in her pregnancy than Elaine. But she's comfortable in a pair of yoga pants and a loose T-shirt, feet bare and short hair ruffled.

"C'mon in," she tells him with a smile that's more relaxed than he's seen in … maybe since Alaska. "I've got tea on. Do you want some?" She gestures him through to a small dinette table, heading for the kitchen to pour a mug of tea for herself so that she can drink it while they talk. There are also, now that he has the chance to look around, a lot of baked goods. It seems a little incongruous, perhaps — but there's a plate in the middle of the table that contains muffins, cookies, and even several cupcakes.

When Magnes arrives, he's wearing a pair of neatly fitting light blue jeans, some red Converse, and a buttoned up black shirt. He seems at least somewhat dressed for something, as he's not known for wearing button ups, at least not currently. "Hey, it smells good in here," he says while looking around, sniffing a little.

"I'll take some tea, yeah." he accepts, continuing to look around. "You know, with the shock of things starting to wear off a bit, starting to really realize that we can relax at least a little, I'm realizing how it might have been slightly irresponsible to get my alternate universe ex girlfriend who is now also my fiancee pregnant."

"But…" There's a but, which is good. "I don't regret it, really. This Elaine is different from the Elaine I dated back home. We have chemistry in a very different way, I feel like we're more similar people, we want a lot of the same things."

Elisabeth laughs quietly. "Ya think?" she asks. They haven't really talked about the whole 'why didn't you tell anyone' situation with her, though she does comment now, "Not that I have a lot of room. I came through a fucking black hole twice while knocked up. Let's hope there aren't any ill effects, hmm?"

Coming back to the table with both her own mug of tea and one for him, she sets the cups down and then settles in one of the chairs. "Help yourself," she gestures to the baked goods. "I'm glad that it's working out for you. I'm assuming she'll be traveling with us the entire distance if we manage to sort out a way to actually get home?" Her tone is gentle — it's kind of a given, she expects.

"Yeah, even though I kind of hope I find a less insane way to get us back than last time. That's why Tamara gave me the credentials, I guess she knew what I was planning to do." Magnes takes a seat near her, lifting his tea to lightly blow on it. "I'll be working for a lab, learning how to apply theoretical physics concepts and doing experiments, so I can learn high level physics from pure experience and research."

He is not bold about tea, he just keeps blowing, his lips do not touch the cup. "I plan to find Ronald Mallett's research and learn how to contact our world, and go to it, and how my ability could be used to do those things. So, I don't know what you plan to do, but I do plan to get us home, I won't give up on that. We can't just poke holes in the universe without knowing what we're doing, so I'm going to learn what I'm doing and get us out in a controlled way."

"But…" Staring down at his tea, a sudden thought seems to cross his mind. "When the two Elaines meet, I'm just imagining the Elaine from our world… she had a particular look whenever I'd screw up and do something dumb. I'm trying to imagine how intense that look will be when I come back with our baby."

Lord, where to start? Elisabeth sips her tea, thinking through which parts of this to touch first. She's totally on board with continuing to work toward getting home. And with the fact that it cannot be just poking random holes in the universe to do it. "Okay… before you go jumping into Google searching for Mallett and shit… I need you to understand what we're facing here, Magnes." Her tone is serious, but not in a 'you're the student, I'm the teacher way' — she's talking to him far more as an equal since we landed here. And while she's clearly in agreement with his plans, she's merely also pointing out her own thoughts on how much caution is required.

"Arthur Petrelli and Pinehearst are basically the Company all over again, if you want to look at it that way. If you start overtly digging into the information we know we need, you may draw their attention to us… but more important, you may well draw their attention to what we know and who we need. In which case, our resources may vanish. So we really have to be smart about this."

Chewing on the side of her lip, Liz admits, "I actually have a plan for getting at least some of the intel we need on the down-low. It just involves finding someone I can trust. And we really need to stay away from our own doppelgängers — not because we'll run the Bright Future or anything nearly so altruistic. Frankly? This world has a seedy underbelly like every other one — no world is perfect. But I don't want to upset their personal worlds. By 2019, our alternates have good lives. If we leave them the fuck alone… they get to keep them. Or at least some semblance of them."

Shoving a hand through her hair, she tells him quietly, "The packet I have … makes me think that we're going to be here a while too. Yours is about training your science brain… mine is about training my ability some. But more important… it's an encouragement to follow some old dreams that I never had time for. I don't want to give up on going home. I can't. But if we let ourselves be obsessed by that and only that? We're going to become the very monster we were fighting, Magnes. I think… you and I should take the same advice you gave everyone in the bus. We need some time to just live, too."

"I don't want to invest too much into people in this world, not more than I have to. I can't… deal with losing the same people over and over again." Magnes admits, finally taking a sip of his tea. "Pinehearst… what I'm thinking is that I'll gain the information I want through my research in the lab, pursuing things in the context of the assignments they give me. I know it'll be difficult, but I don't plan to try to get on their radar."

"Living life… that'll be difficult. But I have to give Elaine a normal life too, I can't just dedicate myself entirely to going home and nothing else. I have to raise a baby, I'm getting married, Isabelle needs me, I have to be there for you." He looks over at her, smiling. "I know it hasn't been long, but we've been through a lot. We're basically family, with the things we've had to do with and for each other."

He turns to stare into his tea, thinking. "If I do something, if you think I'm slipping into being the people we try to stop, or we try to avoid, then I want you to say something, I want you to talk to me."

"I want to be good to Elaine, and the baby…"

"Of that, there has never been a doubt," Elisabeth replies, her lips quirking in a smile. "I .. don't know how many more losses I can take either. But… there are a few people who are probably going to get drawn in. I ran into someone from my FRONTLINE team by accident this morning, and before I could evade we had to speak to one another." She grimaces. "I blew it — he doesn't use the same name here. Goes by a nickname that the local Liz knows him by quite well. So…" She shrugs a little. "I had to read him in just a bit; enough to keep him from hauling my ass in for being a shapeshifter and stuff. And I'm seriously considering his recommendation that we do make some contact with people here who can help us."

Pausing to sip her tea, Elisabeth seems thoughtful. "Family in this case is the people who have your back. The therapist that was listed in my paperwork is actually pretty decent… she's at least got my anxiety and panic under control. And she reminds me when I start freaking out about all of this… that we still have one another. So…"

Toying with her tea, Liz considers. "Are you actually working for a Pinehearst lab?"

"I think I'm working for someone who owes Tamara, not Pinehearst. But if this leads to Pinehearst, and that ends up being our only way out, well… I'm not sure that I should say no if that happens. But I'll try to avoid it, I don't think it'll be anytime soon before Pinehearst cares about me at all." Magnes admits, sitting the tea down to turn and face Elisabeth with more of his body towards her, pulling his knee up slightly.

"Here, I'm close friends with Eileen and Gabriel, but the timeline cut off was so early that I barely have anyone who even knows who I am. I isolated myself because I gave into the things my father said to demoralize me when I decided I wanted to be independent." He holds a hand up, counting his fingers. "There's this world's Isabelle, who we'd do well to avoid because one Isabelle is enough. Abby should know me, possibly Xiulan. I think Wu-Long is dead, and we weren't friends. There's Deckard, Elvis… yeah, there's not a long list of people I actually knew here, but…"

"There are people who might not know me yet, who I know I could trust if I introduced myself. Sable is at the top of the list, maybe Hiro's here, or his sister Kimiko Nakamura. I'm pretty sure I could get them to listen to and trust me, but I'm not sure if we should be getting involved with Hiro of all people, in our situation… it's complicated enough." He just shakes his head at the thought. "Eileen might be the best bet, she could then tell me who else might be safe. See, Eileen would never tell me anything I didn't need to know, so it doesn't matter if she's close with me in this world. But… I don't want to ruin things for her and Gabriel either."

He groans, settling on things and changing his mind repeatedly, laying his head against the couch. "I'm afraid of ruining people's lives. I don't know how I can bring people in."

Elisabeth holds up her hand to stop the tidal wave of thoughts. "Whoa! Time out! Good God, man — slow down." She smiles a little. Some things don't change.

"First…. listen to yourself. I,I, me, me, who you want to know in the same breath as not wanting to invest in them. One thing we really need to weigh here, I think, is why we would tell anyone. The only people who should be told — aside from situations like I ran into where I didn't really have a choice — are probably the people who are in a position to actually help us. It may sound selfish, but seriously… why tell Sable or Xiulan or anyone else who can't help about any of this? You're just painting a target on their backs for Pinehearst to do what the Company and Institute used to do — grab them off the street and demand what they know." She eyes him to see if he's really getting her reasoning here.

"Second… I would almost lay odds, based on what you've said about your father in the past, that he has ties to Petrelli and Pinehearst. The Company, Pinehearst, the Institute… they all kind of morphed out of the same core of people and knowledge. So people useful to one are still useful to the other. And God help us if your father gets hold of you here. Make sense?"

She pauses. "Hiro, I'm told, is a wanted terrorist. Not that the title means much, as far as I'm concerned, generally." Because she's been labeled the same, after all. "But I think he's definitely a last resort — and that's assuming we could even find him. Eileen and Gabriel… there's potentially going to come a point where we do need to approach, but… Magnes, they are friends with both of our alternate selves. Assuming I remember right, in 2019, Norton said something about Liz's son being friends with Abby's kids and working with Gabriel regularly. So if or when we decide that they need to be brought in? We really need to just be extraordinarily careful."

"No, you're right, I wasn't being practical." Magnes shifts, facing forward again, just sort of allowing himself to sink into the couch a bit. "I don't want my father to know I'm here, but on the other hand, this might also be one of the best places to figure out why my father is cloning me, or if I'm a clone. That said… it's probably best if I stay out of Pinehearst, and if my mind changes for some reason, I'll discuss it with you before I make any decisions."

"I can probably contact Hiro, because Kimiko usually knows where Hiro is when no one else does, and if not much has changed, I know where the Nakamura's family home is." This is information that very few people are aware that he knows, so when he says it, it's likely the first time Elisabeth is hearing it. "Though with Pinehearst and all, that might be a risk too. It's tricky. This is all very tricky. But Tamara seemed pretty confident in us."

It's a surprise, and she does show that. Liz looks thoughtful again. "Put it in your back pocket for now. If it were as easy as getting Hiro involved at all, Tam would have already found him," she observes. "Besides… Kaito Nakamura… despite the fact that he helped found the Company… I don't really remember if anyone told me much about what he was doing in this timeline. He might be well worth contacting. And I want to see if the Deveaux Group is still in play. Our arrival here was noticed… and we definitely do not want that. So for this first bit here…"

She trails off. "Look… Give me and Elaine both some time to gestate and give birth? Because seriously? I don't know if it's occurred to you, but one of the many reasons I kept it to myself in their world was that I was reasonably sure that neither it nor I would survive birth. And at least here we have all of the medical interventions we could ever need." It was a very real concern, though it may not have hit him until now how likely that outcome was there. "Get established under your new identities, let me do the same. Keep really low profile. The only person I feel comfortable telling you that I do want in the loop right now is Felix Ivanov. Assuming things are as I heard about them, he's still FBI here… which means he can quietly do some background checks on people like Mallett without maybe drawing too much attention. He's also a seriously close-mouthed bastard when he wants to be; I'd bet my life on the fact that he won't tell anyone about us. And I'd like to have him check to see if the goddamn Institute is running too, because…. it seems to me that if this world so closely parallels ours? Someone — maybe several someones — is already in possession of the info we need. And to get it… that may take some planning."

Although now that she's considering it, Alia's name pops into her head too. She has no idea what either Hana or Alia are up to in this world, so she mentally shelves that thought for later. "Can we agree on that for just these couple of months or so? Try and lay low until they're not looking for us?"

"I can agree to that. Sorry… I'm just anxious, but I guess you're anxious too. Patience is hard, but I'll have to learn. I need to get life setup, I need to be there for you and Elaine, I need to figure out what dads even do." Magnes crosses his arms, throwing his head back as if he's been floored by something. "God, I'm not suitable to be a dad. Look at me! I don't know the first thing about good dads. I used to think Kazimir was a good father figure, how stupid was that? But then, look at my dad, my dad might be worse than Kazimir. No, that's an understatement, my dad is worse than Kazimir."

"Elisabeth!" he sits up suddenly, staring at her. "I need to meet good dads, I only have nine months, I have to learn how to be a dad!"

The blonde blinks and her eyes go wide! "Magnes, breathe!" Elisabeth looks at the ceiling as if praying for patience with him. Then she looks back at him, grinning. "Look…. no one knows how to be a parent. No one. Right before we came here, a friend of mine had twins. She was a single parent and she was friggin' terrified. But you know what? She did fine. There's a reason babies are born itty bitty with only three needs — diapers, food, and warmth. It's so you have time to learn." She is sounding calm, not giving away that, hell, she's just as scared as he is about being a parent! "I visited her a lot, held the babies when they were just born, stayed with her sometimes so she could shower or eat or get some sleep. And … well… I gotta say, for someone who knew nothing about babies, she sure as hell had her shit together by the time they were like a month old."

Elisabeth laughs quietly. "My dad… is the best dad I know." She has to look away for a long moment. She can't go see him here — it would put him at risk. When she looks back at Magnes, her blue eyes are sad but clear. "He always told people who asked him how to be a good parent… kids really only need three things: unconditional love, someone who listens and doesn't judge, and a safe place to land when they fuck up. If a kid knows they are loved and not judged, then… even when they fuck up royally, they know it's safe to come to you because they know you'll help them figure out how to make it right without thinking less of you." She shrugs a little. "It really all boiled down to that for him."

For whatever that's worth to Magnes. But Elisabeth clearly has an immense respect for and belief in her father.

"I already met the child I had with Elaine, from the future, but I died in that future before I could raise her. If I really do end up having the same one, at least she'll have an invincible physics bubble, which is a really thing for a parent to have around a kid, I think…" Magnes stares down at Elisabeth's stomach, starting to calm just a little. "I probably would have felt the baby if I wasn't negated all the time down there. I can feel the extra weight, even though it's only a little."

"That really is nice, being able to just… have our abilities. I never got to process until recently, the way my ability expanded since I blackholed." He stares up at the ceiling, then points. "The sun is right there. The moon is…" He suddenly points at a different part of the ceiling. "My senses were never this strong back home. It's like I have to filter it out of my mind, all the gravity noise. I can feel gravity pulling at me from so many directions, but I mostly focus on the big things to filter it out. I center myself."

Looking up to her eyes, again. "How have you felt, having your ability back?"

She has to think for a moment before responding. Elisabeth seems… perhaps a little sad. She's already had to live this understanding once — that Cameron Trask Harrison would never be born in her world. "Just concentrate on being the best dad you can be for the child you're having right now. Even with the same two parents, no child is ever identical to another one. Even genetically identical twins can have different colored eyes, and they almost always have different personalities. I think the fact that you're already thinking on it means you've pretty well got it covered." She smiles at him a little.

Tilting her head as she considers his last question, Elisabeth admits, "Well, I'm having a hell of a lot fewer panic attacks." She doesn't wake up stifling screams all the time right now. "I feel better. More functional. I always felt rather stifled down there, though how much of that was my power and how much was wet, cold underground tunnels with rats everywhere I don't really know." She can actually be a little amused about it now, offering the dry observation. "Interestingly, one of the things that was in the packet from Tamara was a therapist's name. And the other was an audio engineer who happens to be a voice coach. So… I have my first voice audition with him soon, and he wants to hear what I can do with my ability. Guess we'll see what that gets me."

"I think you can do anything that you put your mind to. I think sometimes you don't always believe in yourself, but I believe in you. You're one of the strongest people I know. I've always looked up to you, even if we were never close, I always saw you on the same level as Cardinal." Magnes says, very sincerely, and lifts the tea cup to float it carefully above his palm.

"I feel too heavy without my ability, I'm not used to being held down in a way that's just… out of my control. If I want to jump onto a roof, I jump onto a roof. If I want to run up a wall, I run up a wall." He does stop, though, taking the cup into his hand properly. "I had one of those dreams again, by the way. After we got here. That Void thing taunting me. I don't know if it's the same thing that we heard out of the portal that one time, or something in my head. I know Ruiz hears something too. But… I wouldn't worry about it too much. I think it's just a byproduct of my ability being augmented."

Elisabeth looks flattered at the way he sees her. "I … appreciate the vote of confidence. I don't really see it as being strong," she admits. "I just seeing it as doing the next thing in front of me." She doesn't seem to think anything she does is all that impressive. But her expression shifts to worry when he speaks of the dream.

"I have to admit to you… I don't like whatever the fuck that was. And as we move forward — very cautiously, Magnes! — I definitely think we should keep track of those things. The dreams, any kind of thing that happens that's out of the ordinary." Elisabeth pauses and admits quietly, "Whatever the hell Zeke was doing up there, I think… I honestly am starting to think we really fubar'd something in serious fashion during that battle. Like… FUBAR on a cosmic scale." She sighs. "However long we're here, though… the kids we're about to toss into this mess deserve a life that is not consumed by the idea that they can't bond with the people around them. They deserve to have friends and a life. And to give them that, we have to give ourselves permission to enjoy it too." Seems like that therapist she's been seeing practically every day since they arrived is doing some good for her.

"What you do doesn't seem that different from what Cardinal does." Magnes points out, at least from his perspective, and it just seems matter-of-fact to him, by his tone. "We'll keep track of things. As I learn this science, I kind of hope that I make more sense of all of this, what it all really means, maybe get some kind of existential closure. But… you're right, about the kids, I just miss my friends, I miss Sable, Quinn, I miss the Elaine from my world too, as a friend. I miss the familiar faces." he says, sounding a bit down about it, sipping.

"Yeah," Elisabeth agrees quietly, looking down at her tea. "I miss them all too. My father, the people who went with us to Alaska, just… everyone." She swallows. "We don't even know if they succeeded that day, much less whether they survived. I wish we knew at least that much… that what we'd done had done some good." Resting her chin on her hand, she looks at him. "Getting to know Isabelle has been something of a gift. Knowing that in some world, Peyton found her Richard… I think that's worth something too, even with all the bad that came with it. I'm just trying to keep an eye on the positives." Offering him a rueful grin, she tells him, "It seems to help keep my anxiety at bay. I keep waking Ygraine up rattling the damn glasses in the place."

"Well, if we're going to leave this place, safely, the first thing I'll figure out is a means of communication. We've proved a lot of things to be scientifically possible, so I entirely plan to find a way to send messages to our friends." Magnes reaches over to briefly touch her shoulder, nodding. "I know that I can do this, my ability requires me to believe in myself, and I believe in myself more than ever right now. I believed that we could escape that universe, and I believe that I can learn these things, educate myself, and contact our friends."

That makes her smile. "Hey… now that idea I can totally get behind. Just, like I said, be really careful. Mallett's device…" Liz paises, considering. "Tell you what. One thing I do want you to do? And it's research you should maybe do at an internet cafe instead of at home, okay? Start looking for Michelle Le Roux or Michelle Cardinal — when I was finally able to sit and talk to David Cardinal, I got that much from him." Her hand slips up to touch the necklace she has worn since Virus, a simple wedding ring on it. "It turns out… she was a fucking genius. A contemporary of Edward Ray's at MIT, studying something to do with gravity. She had a job offer, according to Dave, from quote some big name institute in Cambridge end-quote."

With a grimace, she meets his gaze. "I don't know if it's the Commonwealth Institute, but that's where we're going to have to start. Because I have to wonder if part of what Mallett was doing was somehow connected to or based on her research. So.. maybe see if you can find anything she published? Or anything about her in particular? Dave said she grew up in Kansas. At least in Virus world. And she did go to MIT for college, but she took a position at the University of Kansas where she and Richard someone were doing research." She hesitates. "These are honestly the kinds of things I was going to see if Felix could dig up, but… I'm scared to death to get him involved here. From what Helena and the others said, he's happy here. I don't want to fucking blow up his life."

"I'll remember. Gravity, the Mallet device, Michelle… I wonder if she was researching some kind of applied string theory. Well, whatever it was, I'll try to find out, and I'll take precautions. I don't want to put Elaine and the baby or anyone else in danger." Magnes finally starts to stand, then, having finished his tea. "I should get going. I have to buy groceries because, well, I remember every lack of consideration and thought I ever had when I was with the Elaine from our world, and even though this one is different, I want to treat her better and show her that I'll be a good husband."

She studies him quietly, this young man she's traveled so far with. Elisabeth nods slightly. "You've come a ways since then," she tells him. "I'm glad for you both. Go slow with the research, and cover your tracks. Stick to things like the newspapers or you might be able to use the university library's dissertation and academic journals database to search to see what, if anything, she published in the scholarly journals. Publicly accessible stuff for now, until we see if we can even locate her. And when I buck up the courage to make contact with Ivanov… we'll see what he can dig up on the Institute — if it exists — and some of the other threads that might lead us where we need to go."

She gets up and walks him toward the door. "Tell Elaine and Izzy I said hi. I'll pop by to see them both in a day or two."

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