elisabeth_icon.gif kara_icon.gif

Scene Title Divergent
Synopsis Two reality-travelers circle around a book they've both read that only just released. Well, here, anyway.
Date June 30, 2019

Prufrock's Books

To make a library, one first required an excessive amount of books. Fiction, non-fiction, technical. Dense and light. For young readers as well as the older. Nicole had said she missed her daughter's school here in the city— perhaps educational readers for kids around Pippa's age wouldn't be out of order.

Kara Prince doesn't immediately stand out while she carefully combs the aisles of Prufrock's Books. Faded jeans tucked into hiking boots, she's mindful to not reach too high to advertise the holster clipped to the inside of her jeans by letting the long vest draped around her shoulders lift. Its saggy, mahogany presence works to keep her looking dressed down, an old tan tee worn along with it. By all means, she looks like she could belong in this town, and in this world.

She takes a promising title stickered for clearance, a single prize for all her observing, and moves to the end of the aisle to start looking for a basket. It's there Kara stops, jarred, gaze sliding unfocused as she turns back and sees a cardboard New Release stand burdened with a title that's… that's not a new release.

At least it doesn't feel like it should be, to her.

She looks troubled, basket loose in one hand, struggling to place herself in a certain time or environment. In an instant, her attentiveness turns to being withdrawn.

She likely has no idea she's blocking the door.

On a lunch break, Elisabeth Harrison isn't in a particular hurry. She's using some of her time to get a better feel for the neighborhoods that aren't her own. Dressed in a pair of slacks and lace-shoes that make movement easy, a blazer over a peach-colored top, her blonde hair caught in a clip at the base of her neck, she doesn't exactly stand out, but she doesn't quite blend in either.

Carrying a cup of coffee with her, she pauses at the doorway of the bookstore, waiting for the woman currently in the opening to finish gawking at something Liz can't see just yet. She waits for a reasonable amount of time and then politely smiles and says, "Excuse me?"

Passing the woman is her intent, but she's also interested to see what's caught her eye.

Kara moves before her head actually turns, gaze magnetically stuck to the display. It snaps free to turn to Elisabeth belatedly, still no real focus to her.

As for the thing that's perplexed her, it's nothing special at all. Just a stand for a new release called Divergent.

Her problem is, she's already read that book.

“Sorry,” she says quietly, trying to come back to the moment. Kara takes a step to the side, sensing she's in the way even if it's not dawned on her how just yet. In the simple act, her attention starts to drag back toward the display, only by force returning to Elisabeth. “Did you need something?”

"No," Elisabeth smiles slightly, "I just didn't want to jostle you." She glances at the book display and comments, "That was an interesting book," not realizing immediately that she … probably… couldn't have read it yet. It would hit a little close to home now, though. As she moves to skirt around Kara, she makes sure not to get in the woman's way.

And then she pauses a moment, glancing at the book's display again, perhaps realizing suddenly that it literally just came out. Shit. Well, the woman will just assume she bought it a day or two ago and read fast. Or got an advance copy maybe. Totally logical.

Slowly, Kara adjusts the basket so it hangs off her arm, the book she'd been carrying with her laying down in it. At Elisabeth's comment, the normally-tactful blonde shifts her attention hard back to her, noting the use of past tense. "It… was." she finds herself saying slowly, trying to recall why she even remembers it. She can't put her finger on when exactly she read it.

Things like that happen sometimes— moments that stand out in the static that happened for her after a return to civilian life… After Arthur Petrelli.

"I can't help but wonder if…" Kara starts, realizing too late it probably would have been better to just nod and move on. She just shakes her head at it all, carrying on light and calm, "if it's different than the last time I read it. Before the war." Calm, cool, and casual, she tries to sell it.

Despite the new release sticker.

Given that she's only herself just realized the book is brand new, that catches Elisabeth's attention. She doesn't pounce on it, turning that phrasing over in her mind. There are only two places that she's been in the past decade that the book could have been out "before the war" … and so now she's forced to consider the implications and fight through a raging case of paranoia.

"I'm sure it must be… considering the atmosphere in the world today. I'm sure the author had to … rethink a lot of things in the plot." Elisabeth is choking a little in the words as both women try to play off that there was a first version. (There fucking well wasn't. Is this woman from Bright? Did the book even come out in the Wasteland?? She isn't one of the travelers from Flood, that I'm sure of. WHERE THE FUCK DID SHE COME FROM?)(BREATHE!)

It's taking a lot of her focus to not audibly vibrate with the damn humming sound that has practically become a signature of agitation.

"It was… an early draft, anyway." Kara seems dismissive, wholly into her story she's making up on the fly. Truth and lie begin to blend now. "I'm sure there were a number of changes, you're right."

She's thinking ahead now, already prepared with an answer as to how she'd seen the book previously. Plausible, distant. What were the chances she'd ever run into this woman again, anyway? Answer politely and disengage before there's the opportunity for questions, that's the plan.

Turning back to Elisabeth, Kara notes what she should have seen the moment she first looked at her — the badge flashing at her hip.

A beat later, her gaze lifts again, a little less easy-going than before. That use of past tense can't be ignored. Was she fishing? is the question pressing on Kara's mind. Trying to find people who don't belong?

"How did you get your hands on it?" she asks casually.

How did she get her hands on it? Elisabeth's blue eyes intently study Kara's face. Are you a Mayes stooge? A Petrelli stooge? Some white coat who got sucked into the vortex from somewhere in Alaska or Colorado when Looking Glass opened? Without any context, she can't tell any of these answers… but she can offer a deceptively casual response, laughing off the question.

"Well… just before the war, I went on an unexpected trip around Wonderland — you know, the Area 51 base out West? — and tripped over an early draft of it." (Can not believe I just fucking said that.)

Kara blinks slowly, plainly trying to process whatever the fuck kind of nonsense that came out of Liz's mouth. "Huh." she states blandly, a polite distance to the crazy bullshit of it all.

Internally, her heart skips a beat.

Definitely fishing. With a spear.

"No, I can't say I've heard of that," she says politely, still on her own story. "Must have been further West than Chicago." She radiates all the external blasé of someone who doesn't know precisely what Liz is talking about.

It's not often she omits her military experience in the half-truths she tells to avoid explaining where she comes from, but Kara is unnervingly compelled to conceal it at this point. She sells it well — save for the spike in her heartbeat. "Work as an editor lead me to read lots of interesting stories … most never published."

She looks off, back down the rows of shelves. "It seemed like a good time to start rebuilding my collection, though."

Despite the spike in heartbeat that she catches with minimal effort, Elisabeth doesn't call her on anything. Simply shrugs and observes flatly, "Lucky you. It was kind of a shitty trip. Took me far longer than I wanted to get home." She offers a small, tight smile, a slight amusement at the dodging around.

"It's a lot harder now to find good books nowadays, definitely. I hope you find a lot that you like." She moves briefly to pick up the new release and there's a moment's wistfulness. She'd read the book in Arthur's world and she and Felix had chatted about it over coffee. "Given the state of the world today… I hope the author changes ending." She grimaces slightly and then puts it down. "I really don't think I'll read anymore stories about fighting THE MAN. Lived that shit for too long."

At Liz's smile, Kara is quiet. Still polite. She lifts her head a touch as she lightly says, "Least you made it back home." It takes effort for her voice not to drop. "Some of us will never get that chance."

You know, because Chicago's a destroyed wasteland and all.

As for the track of the story, it brings her more back to the moment. She arches an eyebrow with some vague amusement. "Why, because it's not relevant anymore?" A touch of bitterness enters her voice, the munitions chaplain's opinions about the need for continued vigilance threatening to shine through. "Ah," Kara intones all too knowingly, gaze dropping purposefully to the other woman's badge for a moment. She doesn't shy away from looking Elisabeth in the eye as she points out, "I guess it's different for you now, isn't it. You've joined them."

There's genuine sympathy flashing through Elisabeth's eyes at the observation that at least she made it home. But the query on relevance turns her expression briefly completely and utterly neutral. "Oh it's still relevant," she murmurs. "More now than ever." She meets Kara's eyes. "I think the hardest lesson to learn — and maybe mankind never will — is how not to become the monster we wanted to get rid of, yeah? But I figure… I can at least try to build something good, before someone decides that's exactly what we are. And if I don't like what I see being built… it's not the first time I've seen good intentions go to hell in a handbasket and walked away to fight against the very thing I thought had been right."

God knows, the Company originally meant well. So did the Institute. The weariness of constantly fighting crosses her features briefly and then she says simply, "I imagine if people think we're off the rails, there will be enough to stand up again."

When Elisabeth's expression falls neutral, Kara ceases effort to put on airs, listening in silence. She hears the concerns, the drive to do and be better, and simply observes it. She doesn't step across to the other side of that emotional chasm. In a lot of ways, their paths were perhaps similar — in that they both fought against the previous administration.

But here? Here they grew, well, divergent in course.

Kara steps forward to pick up the copy that Liz had replaced, laying it down in her basket. She's sure Sophie might appreciate the read, if no one else did.

"I don't know," she asides, sounding more like she's talking to herself than to Elisabeth. "Too many good people died in the war. Too many bigots still waiting in the weeds." Only then does she look up, aloof as she ventures curtly, "Guess we'll see."

"Gotta have a little hope or why bother at all?" Elisabeth replies candidly. But it's pretty obvious exactly how right Kara is and that Elisabeth is well aware of the fact that some things just never seem to change. The audiokinetic shrugs a little and turns finally to head toward the books for small kids, her coffee still in her hand. "Enjoy the book."

Has she made a mental note about this woman who may be a traveler? Sure. But this woman isn't tweaking her as being someone (at least currently) a danger, and she goes about her own business with Kara's face firmly in the back of her mind. Just in case.

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