Each Different Version Is A Gift


kaylee2_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Each Different Version Is A Gift
Synopsis At least when it comes to a friendship that has spanned five timelines.
Date June 30, 2021

RayTech NYCSZ Branch Office

It's been a long night for the technical support department of RayTech. It started with a bizarre request from NYPD and NYFD for emergency support to speed-modify Banshees that are deployed on SPOTs and handhelds for … fire suppression? There was a mad scramble down there in the labs when that request came through, a lot of confusion that had the head of R&D calling upstairs to alert Kaylee and Valerie, although Kaylee was for some reason unreachable at the time. It was given immediate attention because Lt. Harrison of SCOUT made a point of having them attach her name to the request.

Elisabeth didn't answer her phone all night, and she finally makes it home looking a good bit worse for wear despite having showered and changed clothes back at the Watchtower. Security has had an eye on the reception cameras all morning and texts upstairs,«Lt. Harrison just entered the building.»

The text pulled the telepath’s attention from a desk full of files. Bob’s name was attached to the alert, though he isn’t why she grimaces with guilt. «Head her off and send her up to my office.» She missed SCOUT, but…

WIth a sigh, Kaylee pushes and neatly stacks papers. The office was a quiet place, the least likely place for someone to show up. Only Bob knew she had moved from her dining table to the office, a place to hide while she pored over files of different sorts. Not to mention it keeps all of it away from a small snooping nose.

By the time she's barely three steps into the lobby, Elisabeth's being headed off by the security personnel. "Ms. Harrison, Ms. Thatcher would like to see you," Bob tells her, keeping pace with her. Dragging her hand through her hair, Elisabeth glances at him and doesn't change direction – she was heading for the elevator anyway. "All right, Mr. Barazani. Thank you." The mess in the security perimeter out front was not missed and she's worried enough about it to go ahead and see Kaylee before she tries to sleep. It takes little more than a minute and a half before she's at the door.

She looks rough. The fire has taken a toll in exhaustion and maybe in other ways as well. Blue eyes are cloudy with weariness but Elisabeth forces a smile. "Hey. Morning. I hope you have coffee."

A glance to the Head of security gets Kaylee a roll of his eyes and a grumble about not being an intern before letting himself out. “We’ll have more shortly,” Kaylee says with a bit of amusement. Fingers wave Liz further in and motions her to any seat. “I see you survived the night. Sounded like it was crazy everywhere. Even got crazy around here,” she grimaces, “Makes me glad I convinced Joseph to flee with the kids to Detroit till it cleared up.”

Glancing at the files, Kaylee shakes her head, “Only just got here, so your timing is great.”

As comfortable here as she is in her own office, Elisabeth drops into a chair. "Yeah, I was glad Harmony was on board with shipping out for a while too," she replies, her voice a little louder than it usually is. And her blue eyes are watching Kaylee very carefully. "Matt Tran, down in tech support, about shit his pants when I got them on the line last night." She's not quite shouting but she's definitely raising her volume. With a heavy sigh, she drags her hand through her hair again. "I could use about 10 hours of sleep and to hear my husband's voice."

A pang hits her in the chest, sadness and worry never far from her thoughts. "I'm kind of surprised you heard about it. You doing okay?"

How is she doing? Kaylee doesn’t say, focusing on anything but that. Her night was incredibly complicated.

“Word travels fast when you are friends with most of Security… or are one of the bosses,” Kaylee says with a small laugh that doesn’t hold much humor. More like she is afraid if she doesn’t, the darkness they are surrounded by will close in. “Honestly, we heard a lot from having that makeshift triage, too.”

The smile falters a little as Kaylee glances towards the wide window of her office, hazy and dirty from all the soot from the fires. “You see the damage? Those militia bastards tried to take us down, but Raytech still stands.” There is pride in that statement. “That old prophecy isn’t coming true this time either.”

It becomes clear that Elisabeth is having a little trouble hearing Kaylee when she narrows her eyes and intently watches her sister-in-law's mouth form the words. She catches most of it. "They hit here too? What the hell happened? We managed to fish out a couple of men with fire-starting gear alive – I'm hoping we can get more information out of them."

And then she pauses and blanches, remembering a long-ago conversation with Richard about images of people being attacked inside RayTech. Back when she first came home. It was part of the reason she and the children have bodyguards, though by this time Elisabeth merely takes it as a given that they are part of her life. She'd almost forgotten about that threat, because it never seemed to come to pass.

Now she's even more worried. She needs to get her parents the hell out of here now too. The need burns a hole in her stomach.

There is a small flick of her brows downward, before her sister-in-law's deafness hits her. Her mouth forms a brief ‘O’ before she speaks again. This time a bit louder. “They tried.” Kaylee corrects her, lifting a finger. “Thanks to Hahn and the team, they never got past the checkpoint to the parking lot. She was hurt but she'll recover. Security measures work great when the opposition doesn’t have an ability. Done much to improve Bob’s mood, I think.”

Kaylee’s nose wrinkles, “I haven’t checked in with my mom, yet. Worst part is we only just got her settled into a campus apartment.” One more stress on top of the rest.

Hahn's situation brings Elisabeth's eyes back to Kaylee sharply, but she relaxes at the news that the woman will be okay. And poor Bob. Elisabeth often feels bad for the guy – we are not the most straightforward security job around. Always with the weird shit! Noting Kaylee's volume raise, she waves her hand, though. "Don't shout – I just have a headache so I'm only using minimal power. I guess there's an up side to being hard of hearing and audiokinetic – I can keep the volume of reprimands low," she quips dryly, her own voice dropping to a normal level as she adjusts it. She just wasn't sure she wasn't about to get yelled at.

"New power application worked amazingly well and didn't actually require full force. Hopefully now we can get the fires under control and using the mechanical versions will be way easier on me." She grins a little. "I'm way the hell more tired than I've been in a long time." Hence why she came back here to sleep – sleeping at the precinct means she'll get up for every call.

Elisabeth pauses and says quietly, "When I first came home, Richard put bodyguards on all of us because he said there'd been … flashes or something like that. Of RayTech being hit." Her father dying. "Maybe we need to get all the parents up to the Detroit complex too. Just… for a little while. I'm not liking that they came at us specifically."

“Well, we are not exactly subtle about who we are and who we hire. I mean… we contract people with abilities all the time,” Kaylee says matter of factly, mouth pulling to one side in an apologetic smile. “We are an up and coming American company that is loudly spitting in the eye of the old world order. It sounds a bit egotistical, but that makes us a symbol of sorts and something to bring down.”

But there is some merit about their parents, though after a moment of consideration she asks, “You want to tell them to leave?” A brow pops up as if daring her. “Besides…. I… I feel like my mother would be safer here… and that also means, she’ll be here when we bring her real daughter back.” Because the woman sitting there surrounded by files, was not the original recipe… or had Liz heard that yet? By the look on the telepath’s face, she wasn’t sure.

The flicker in Liz's blue eyes says she has indeed heard. She hesitates before offering slowly, "Neither of you are going to be exactly okay for a while. You have to be feeling all kinds of terror and loss and grief. And the other you… she'll feel the same kind of resentment that Dev and my mother cope with. The devastation of being replaced and the fear that everyone likes the other version better or something." When she looks up, it's clear Elisabeth wishes there were something, anything, she could say.

"I can't really understand how hard this is for you, but I will tell you the same thing I told Dev," she says softly. "And it's pretty similar to what I once told another version of you – You are the real you. You are family. And yes, the adjustment to having two of you will be hard. We don't love you less. " She looks down and says quietly, "But I also understand if loving isn't enough to help you both through. My mom…"

Carina is struggling every day with being in this world, learning all the things her husband and daughter had that Carina – this Carina – wasn't part of. Elisabeth hasn't said anything to Kaylee or even to Richard about all the problems the older woman is having. "I don't know what's going to happen, but I don't think my folks are going to make it. Dad's… " She glances away. Her father is struggling too, in different ways. This is not something she ever thought she'd say, especially after her mother died in Midtown. "I think the adjustment is just too much for her to handle after everything she's been through," she says quietly.

And yes, she has a very real fear that the other Kaylee might well be in that situation.

“It’s going to suck,” Kaylee says honestly after a moment of hesitation. “So. Much. I’m the copy. The government will find out… then what. Am I programmed to be a sleeper agent by Mazdak? We don’t know… Not to mention….”

The words stop and lips press into a line, but then she sighs out heavily and runs fingers through her hair. “Luther tried to kiss me….” There she said it. “Well… he did, but then I pushed him away… Cause, I’m not the one. I’m just a…. a… proxy. Made in a machine… an organic robot and then her memories copied into this thing that looks like a brain.” She knocks on her head. “Know what I didn’t tell Richard? I’m dying… technically… my coding is flawed and missing an important piece.” She spreads her hands helplessly.

A part of Kaylee feels like she should be crying, but… she’d done so much of it already.

“It’s honestly, really hard to reconcile the idea that I am a real and original person, when everything I am is a copy.” Kaylee gives a small huff of laughter and shakes her head in disbelief of what she was going to say…

“Wonder if this is how Magnes and the other clones felt. I said the same things to him that you just did.”

There's a subtle wince as Kaylee tells her about Luther, but Elisabeth never looks away. Now that her sister by marriage is letting it out, Liz will do her the courtesy of giving her safe space to really say it all. There's no judgment in her gaze, there is just sympathy and concern.

"Magnes did wonder a lot of the same things," she agrees softly. It's a crisis of way more than identity. "I'm so sorry, Kaylee." She didn't know that this body was dying, though, and it hits her like a ton of bricks. It shows in her expression, and for a long moment, she can't breathe.

"You're–" Elisabeth stops, choking on an upsurge of shock and instant rejection of the news. "There has to be something we can do…!"

There is a small twinge of regret at the choked sound of Liz’s voice, but also skepticism at the idea that her loss would be mourned long once the real one was returned?

Her eyes dropped to a file on the desk, it was thin… plans maybe. “We have a chance, but it all relies on rescuing one man. The Sundered are working on a plan to get this man out… Colin Verse. He has the final piece of our coding. A prisoner forced to help create us…” Kaylee doesn’t sound completely convinced he was forced “…and the man who crashed our plane.”

Fingers play with the edge of the file, before Kaylee flips it open and offers a photo of the technopath to Liz. “Recognize him?” She might not expect she does, but you just never know. Kaylee doesn’t wait for an answer as she continues, “Downside of the rescue… the clock starts ticking on the real Kaylee. Verse says he knows where they are, but like the code, he’s holding the location hostage. So simultaneous rescues are out.”

A small stressed sound that might have been a laugh escapes her, “I could definitely use Richard. All this on top of finding a way to get him back, deal with Mazdak and rescue our father, find a way to kill a god… and not to mention the sun trying to devour us all,” Kaylee says that last with a flick of her wrist at the window.

The name brings a flash of recognition accompanied by rage. Elisabeth clearly at least knows of the man. "He was part of the group that imprisoned Alia's consciousness back in the day, if I remember right," she says tightly. Something that was partially Elisabeth's fault, she's always felt. A thoughtful expression crosses her features.

"The fact that he's involved … I wish I could say I'm surprised. What he did with Alia seems like a precursor to this." Looking up as she hands the photo back, Elisabeth asks, "the crash survivors are calling themselves the Sundered?" She'd be amused if it weren't so apt. "Do you need help getting to him? I know a lot of you have suffered strokes." She was at the hospital that night, after all. Kaylee isn't the only one of the victims Elisabeth is close to. Abigail isn't doing well either.

The fact that Elisabeth knows about him get’s Kaylee’s attention and his past gets a worried look.

“We don’t know what we need yet. Whether I need you and Luther to just protect the family against retaliation or to help with her rescue… I just dunno.” The weariness that Kaylee’s feeling is suddenly there for Elisabeth to see. “Right now, it’s a hurry up and wait situation. Hate it, but it’s thankfully not the only thing on my plate. Keeps me busy.”

Kaylee rubs fingers against the spot between her brows, trying to ignore the prickling behind her eyes. “Like finding my father and Kazimir’s daug—” She trails off at a rap of knuckles against the door and it’s opened by the guard posted outside so that coffee can be brought in by one of the staffers.

The young man, clearly an intern, moves quickly and nervously to set the two large paper cups on the desk. Both women will find that Bob knows what they like. He only relaxes a little when Kaylee offers him a reassuring smile.

Once he’s out the door and she hears it click, Kaylee relaxes some. “I’m not used to playing the same level of chess Richard does, but I’m having to learn quickly and I’m terrified of failing.”

"Believe me, no one plays the same level of chess as your brother," Elisabeth retorts in a disgruntled tone after the coffee is left for them. She does frown slightly though as she helps herself to the cup that was sent for her – she's exhausted and has a pounding headache. The caffeine is necessary. After taking a large swallow, she asks, "Yvette is running Weiss-Renautus, isn't she?"

“And set on destroying Mazdak and that thing they worship,” Kaylee says with a nod. “After talking to her, I get the impression she’s got information we need to take out the Entity.” She refused to say the being’s true name.

Names had power and she would rather not turn her eye their way.

Kaylee popped the lid off her own coffee and sniffed it, “My price for that information, if I want it bad enough, is to convince Monica to give up a rare old knife.” Her gaze lifts upward to Liz, replacing the lid, giving her a bland look. “You can imagine Monica’s answer,” Kaylee says with amusement. “Smart, honestly, but she’s going to analyze the knife. See why Yvette wants it so much.”

Nodding, Elisabeth smiles faintly just imagining Monica's reply. But she nods. "Good plan. And if I can stay far from that, it would be better." She pauses, admitting with a grimace, "She came to the cells when Abby and I were in Russia during Apollo. She uhm… I wasn't conscious so I'm not sure what happened, but I'd rather keep a low profile with her."

Leaning her head back, Liz massages the back of her neck wearily. "Fighting fires is not what I signed up for. And the interference in comms is already beginning," she tells Kaylee softly. "Have we got the bunker stocked up to handle the family?" Not that it's likely to save them, but you know what? Sometimes it's all about the appearance of doing something to prepare that keeps people sane.

“It’ll be stocked up. I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had the chance to ask Valerie how all the prep work is going and how far it’s gotten,” Kaylee admits a hint of something like anxiety in her tone. Everything seemed so minor next to an event like that. “I haven’t told my mother or Joseph yet. I just got her back… and I’m honestly worried how Joseph will react.” She’d promised to keep them away from that world.

Now they were going to be thrust into it.

Leaning forward, Kaylee rubs hands over her face, before folding her arms on the desk. “I’ve never felt so helpless… of all the things we’ve faced. All any of us wanted was a better place for the kids to grow up in.” Her blue gaze is distant, haunted by what was looming on the horizon. ”I’ve seen what life is like in a bunker through the eyes of another. You lived it…” Her head shakes a little when her focus returns to her friend and sister. Any more words fail her in the face of what was coming… if… they survived it.

There is a flash of remembered trauma that crosses Elisabeth's features. Multiple other timelines are living in a siege mentality. That this one and the one they're calling Bright are not seems to make them the outliers, though admittedly the sample is small. The blonde is too tired, emotionally and physically after last night's blazes, to hide the shudder of low bass that rolls off her or the flinch that comes with it when the instinctive reaction rattles her headache.

"Giving up isn't in our natures," Liz says softly. "The truth of the matter is that our ability to prep for this is basically shit. And we're even worse off than the Virus world. At least there was something left over there. If we fail this time, all the prep in the world is only going to prolong the lives of a few survivors for a short while."

They both know it, but the stark statement is almost cold while Elisabeth's emotions are anything but – she has fought so hard to get home, there is a part of her raging at the unfairness of it all. Howling mad and damn near insane with fury over how brutally shitty this all is. Even in the best possible outcome, the man she loves more than she thought possible and his companions may still not come home.

"A part of me wonders if I should take the kids and my parents and just… fuck off to the cabin to live out the end." Words she once said to a grown-up Walter whisper hauntingly in the back of her mind. “Sometimes I'm almost convinced we’re actually dead… that all this is happening at the event horizon of the black hole that Magnes became, where we’re stuck in the infinitesimal eternity between physical death and true death. That place in the in-between where you still remember dreaming…”

Blue eyes flicker and Elisabeth pulls in a deep breath and breathes it out, deliberately fighting to relax her shoulders and inject some small bit of amusement into her tone. "But if I do that, it's like saying I don't have faith in Richard. And if there is one thing in this world I do have faith in, it is your brother's uncanny ability to pull success literally out of his ass and survive." And even if sometimes she does have doubts, she refuses to allow them out into the Universe – no point in daring the bitch to say 'hold my beer' and pile on more.

“I have faith… I just… this is so much bigger than anything we’ve ever faced.” Kaylee's mixed feelings are apparent in her tone and guilty grimace. “This isn’t a nuke or a mad man… this is literally an act of God that Richard is trying to stop.”

Kaylee glances at the files around her and straightens, “For now, one crisis at a time.” Which was honestly easier said than done, but she tries.

“That change to the Banshee, by the way… a nice breakthrough.” What Liz had learned was impressive and a huge relief. Maybe for the moment their homes didn’t need to burn to the ground. “We are going to have to get your father on the patent modification ASAP. This will broaden the market and bring in some more, badly needed, funds for ongoing projects.”

Projects like the bunker that would save them from the Apocalypse.

"Heh," Elisabeth snorts softly, choosing to focus on the things they can work on as well. Denial ain't just a river in Egypt. "Yeeaaah. Wasn't exactly something I was trying for, but it'll work out well for the company." A small grin quirks her lips, though she seems pensive. "Just really grateful I didn't sprain my brain this time – just got a headache and tired as shit, but I'll sleep that off for a few hours."

Rolling her shoulders, she sighs heavily. "I'm sure Dad will be thrilled." There's a pause and Elisabeth admits softly, "He looks so sad these days. It kills me, Kaylee. He watches her with so much… grief. He loves her, even now. You can see it every time he looks at her. But there's so much that's different between them now. He lived a whole life with my mother, but not really. I knew things wouldn't be simple. Hell… I had some moments after I got back that made me question if Richard and I could make it, and I was only gone 7 years." Only. "Mom … she's not the same woman." Swallowing hard, she tells her friend, "She's so fucking mad at all of it. She's the woman who bore me and raised me… but she's not. And I see her anguish when she looks at my father. She has every right to her anger and resentment. I just… don't know what to say."

“She’s seeing what she lost… every…day,” Kaylee says quietly, thoughtfully. “What she had was taken and given to another woman with her face.” A smile tugs at the corner of her mouth, cause she gets it… somewhat. “I’d be angry, too. Y’all ain’t what she remembers either. I worry that will happen with the real Kaylee… even though I had no idea I wasn’t really her.” She waves that off though it is probably the same for Carina.

“I wish I had advice. It’s a crap situation all around. Joseph was the one with the degree in that so to speak,” Kaylee says in apology and a shrug. She had been jealous and frustrated with the women who lived the life she’d wanted…. But she had finally come to terms with it… of course then… it all changed again.

The affairs of the heart had always been tricky and Kaylee was far from an expert. “I imagine it’ll take time for it to really sink in that she isn’t going to lose y’all again.”

"Yeah, I know. I've tried so hard to just… give her and Chel whatever they need from me. I wish…" Elisabeth trails off and then shakes her head. "I don't know what I wish," she admits. Dragging a hand through her hair, she adds, "I had to go see Chel and Rianna after I spoke with Richard last week." She doesn't want to tell Kaylee about the robot in Flood right now. That's just too much for the woman to have to deal with and knowing won't help her at all. "… and I had to take Dessa with me. Because I thought when he said Rianna came through that he meant his sister, but it's Dessa's mother? Hell, I don't know. Maybe it's both, the older one in the younger's lightmorph body. Christ, we live in the Twilight Zone."

Exhaustion is evident in the lines in Elisabeth's face, but she does smile just a little. "Honestly, the only thing holding me together at this moment is being too busy with fires and Hum– Pure Earth fuckers to freak right the fuck out."

“I’m going to see about authorizing Bob to hire in more guards….” Is Kaylee’s answer to the sudden surge of Pure Earth threats.

But when it comes to Richard’s biological family, it takes a moment for what is said to sink in. “Wait…. You mean the woman that had been in Sera? Some reason, I never realized she was back.” Brows lift and eyes widen a little at a thought. “I do not envy you that conversation. You think she remem….”

Kaylee stops herself and holds up her hands. “Actually, tell me more once you talk to them..” Hands fall gently to the table on top of a folder that she pushes across. “Guilt-ridden mothers seem to be in season, by the way. How horrible mom was…. a lie. And it makes me wish I had my ability that I never really had.” She’s the clone after all. “Charles… fellow telepath and company founder… blocked a lot of our early memories and created new ones that made my mother resent me. I don’t…. I don’t think he meant that to happen, but it did and now that my mom is remembering the truth… it’s destroying her.”

Giving Liz permission to look at the Company files obtained from Monica, if she choses, Kaylee adds. “I was a child manifestation…. I have so many questions about that and not enough answers. Even with those. Because, instead of turning me into another Odessa, he suppressed my ability and protected me.”

Elisabeth blinks, looking flummoxed as she takes the file and skims what happened. "Child manifests are rare," she murmurs. "Usually trauma-related, as I recall from Bright." Though maybe it's different here. She pauses to absorb the information inside the folder and looks sad. "God, Kaylee… what a mess," she says softly. "In all the memories that Charles adjusted for me and Dad, as far as I can tell it's only the car accident itself that he changed. The rest was all just… small things to help us integrate. I'm so sorry."

"My dad was royally pissed when I had to explain what I'd learned while traveling. I think he feels guilty because on some level… he thought my mother was dead and this was a way he could have her back." And now, of course, Carina is here and he has to face that too. "The other thing that throws us both hard is that so far as we know, my mother here never had an ability. We… have no way of knowing if she was Expressive, although it sure looks like she should have been, right? But…" There was nothing left to test after Midtown.

When she looks up, she sighs heavily. "Renautus was there, the day Charles explained to my dad where we were. They couldn't see him, but he talked to me." Nibbling her lip, Elisabeth confesses, "I still to this day have no idea why he was interested in me at all, much less why I saw that moment." She rests her cheek on her propped up fist. "So much hurt."

“Well, if I’ve learned one thing…. It’s that nothing in this world is without reason.” Those words leave a bit of a bitter taste on her tongue, which is why her nose scrunches in disgust. “That thing in my…. her head taught me that…” Though she held onto her belief of fate for so long, even Kaylee felt herself bending towards what the snake told her.

There was no fate.

Taking back the folder, Kaylee turns it around and sets it down in front of her, fingers playing along the edge. There were secrets there. Layer, upon layer of them. “The issue is figuring out what that reason is as we blindly barrel forward towards the horizon. If only I could see the patterns in the web,” she half murmurs under her breath. Almost as soon as she says it, a thought occurs to her and she looks up at Elisabeth.

“Maybe… maybe we can.” There is a touch of excitement leaching into Kaylee’s words. “But that requires finding and retrieving the other version of me.”

"Well…." Elisabeth draws out her reply slowly. "We're planning on that anyway. So keep that thought. But … don't forget that anything you saw in his mind, it was his entire unconscious – and presumably like most of us, his unconscious is processing all possibilities, not just the ones we're looking for. The web in there… it's not reliable, Kaylee. Richard and I talked about it a while back."

Nibbling the side of her lip, she hesitates and adds, "I always believed we are where we're meant to be at any given moment. I had to believe it, or I would have given up a long time ago." The confession she makes now, though, hurts. "I don't know if I believe it anymore. It's all I can do now to just try to pick the next 'right' thing among all the choices, even if none of them looks very right. Seeing the string maps has done almost nothing but cause pain. Just…. if you go this route, like Richard, keep your eyes open. Even he didn't like what he saw when he actually followed that web."

After all, look what happened to Zeke.

“I know. I know,” Kaylee grumbles out in frustration at the reminder, waving off a lecture. “And we know his predictions were flawed, but we are looking for a… a… needle in the haystack on everything related to the Entity.” Including the destruction of the world. “If even the smallest clue can be found, without hoping the info suddenly drops in our lap, then even in the darkest parts of memory is worth a look.”

There is a flicker of doubt over Kaylee’s features, “Don’t you think?”

A slow rise and fall of her shoulders is Elisabeth's answer. "We're flying even more blind than usual. I just don't … want to count on your father, Kaylee." There is a wealth of history between Liz and that man, most of it not very good at all in almost any timeline. "It's worth a look, you're absolutely right. I'm just advising caution. Richard's belief in your father is blind sometimes."

Swallowing hard, Elisabeth meets Kaylee's gaze. It's a blunt truth, harsh but said in as gentle a tone as she can manage. "I honestly can't afford for yours to be too. I sincerely believe that with any choice in the matter at all, he'd help you. But he's brain damaged, comatose, and not in control. It has to be weighed in the balance against whatever we learn."

Kaylee’s head wobbles back and forth in agreement. Liz wasn’t wrong about her brother. “My faith is not quite so rock solid.” Lifting a hand she swings it back and forth a little. “More like a frayed rope bridge over a pit of crocodiles.”

There is a flicker of guilt behind those words, like she shouldn’t be feeling that way… but he hadn’t exactly been a father to her. “But sometimes, you gotta try crossing and pray the bridge doesn’t break.”

"No argument on that here," Elisabeth replies with a sigh. She glances at the file with Kaylee's intel with a thoughtful expression. "Do you think Monica might be able to, on the ultra down-low, find what information may still exist on Site Zero or Project Zero in those files? Or do you think Deveaux may only have access to Company files and not Commonwealth? I mean… I know she's running the place now, but I never see her to ask her myself." She smiles ruefully. "We keep meaning to make time."

“So make time!” Kaylee says with an incredulous laugh and throws her hands up. “Especially since we do not seem to have a lot of it.”

Nudging another file on the desk, this one thicker, Kaylee grins. “Besides, they do have Institute files. This is everything about Looking Glass. I was hoping something would pop as weird in the company files, but nope,” she says blandly, popping that P at the end. “I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but… I have it. So you might find what you need.” So the ball would be in Elisabeth’s court for that.

“Check in with Monica, say hi, and see if she has anything on that,” Kaylee encourages, but then the smile falters a little. “What is Project Zero?”

Elisabeth hesitates and then says quietly, "I don't know exactly. I just know it was very bad, it involved mental abilities, and I have serious concerns that it may have relevance. I can't, right now, really say much more. If there's a file, it's probably enough to get people killed – not as if that's news, coming as it does, from Zeke's basement." The last is said in a very dry tone.

"You know how things go in our world, Kaylee – do you know the only time I've laid eyes on Monica was when she moved into the corporate apartments?" Liz laughs. "It's crazy around here. But I'll text her and see what I can come up with. Just, if you speak with her first, … ask her to do a little silent digging?"

“Of course,” Kaylee says with a short nod of her head, though she suddenly looks concerned. “I know this goes without saying, but if this is potentially a dangerous subject… just, please be careful. Not just cause it would be sad to lose you, just… we know what Richard would do to the world if he did.”

A humorless smile tugs at the corner of Kaylee’s mouth, “Probably one of the reasons Edward liked him so much. Like minds.”

For a long moment Elisabeth looks at Kaylee, her expression carefully neutral. But this woman is her sister in all but blood. "I dislike knowing it's the one thing I have in common with your father," she admits softly. "There are lines that, before Aura, I wouldn't have crossed. Now?" She lifts her shoulders, averting her eyes just a bit as she moves to stand up. "Anyway – you should get back to work and I'm going to catch a couple hours' sleep before I head back to the Watchtower."

“You and me both, Sis,” Kaylee confesses reluctantly about her and her father’s views… kids will do that. Pulling one of the files closer and flipping it open to some maps. “You and me both,” she says again, this time with a sigh.

Pushing aside the maps for the hand written notes under them, Kaylee hesitates. “I miss it there… and the team. If she doesn’t….” The words trail off. Instead of finishing the thought, she smiles and says, “Go get rest, Liz, I’ll make sure they call you when the mods start rolling out.”

"Even if she does, it won't hurt my feelings a bit to have both of you," Elisabeth retorts mildly. "You're a good cop." In a couple of worlds now.

At the door just before she steps out, she pauses and looks back. "Love you, Kay." It's not something she says to many people, but it needs to be said and there's a subtle emphasis on you. She's known too many alternates of people she loves not to be able to love those alternate versions of them for themselves.

There is a mildly stunned look at those words and Kaylee has to quickly look away, to hide the sudden tears that blurred her vision. Those were words she probably didn’t hear often… or maybe it’s all the stress and pressure. But she has to swallow a few times and then clear her throat before she can offer a watery smile and a “Love you too, Liz.”

However, not a moment after she is shooing Liz out the door with both hands, “Now go rest before I have to make Bob put you in an arm lock and march you there.”

“I’m not doing that,” Bob calls out blandly just outside the door.

“You will if I order you,” Kaylee calls back, rather sing-songy, grabbing on to something that won’t make her turn into a sobbing mess.

“No I won’t!” Is called back using the same tone. Liz can see the Head of Security roll his eyes and say something in his native language. Possibly asking Allah for patience or something about how crazy the family is. It’s a mystery.

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