Eye Of The Beholder


f_elisabeth_icon.gif elle_icon.gif

Scene Title Eye Of The Beholder
Synopsis Elle visits Cameron's babymama in order to inquire about rather delicate relationship matters. Liz has some questions of her own.
Date May 8, 2019

Dorchester - Elisabeth's apartment

Boredom. Boredom boredom boredom. This particular species of boredom is an unnaturally unpleasant one in the pit of Elle's stomach, as it's mixed in with a yummy emotional fondue of bitterness, recurring coldness, and suppressed anguish. The feeling is enough to drive anybody certifiably mad, sitting in a dark poky block at the bottom of her gut and periodically overwhelming the rest of her limbs — and so, rather than slip out of Abby's apartment to go people-watching in Central Park or something, as she had been apt to do, she instead opts for a place where she can actually see a person's face who isn't someone she's talked to a million times already.

…Even if it does mean going back to Dorchester and giving Trask the slip. She hasn't visited in the apartment complex for a while, as she's had little incentive to, but whim as much as anything else has directed her here now. Leery of her presence most everyone else might be, but hey— that might mean a possible source or two of entertainment. And more importantly, something to take her mind off what Arthur had shown her.

Rapraprap, goes the door of Liz's apartment. Look! Elle even had the courtesy (or something) to knock before forcefully breaking and entering. Miracles really do happen.

The refugees through time all know where Liz's place is located and that they're welcome anytime. Though most haven't taken her up on that offer, except Jessica now and again. Elisabeth opens the door, her phone tucked to her ear, and she looks surprised at who's there. "Gotta go," she tells the person on the phone. "I'll call you back." Then she hangs up and gestures the other blonde into her apartment. Leery? That's a good word for Liz's emotional state at this moment, though she's good at covering it. "What can I do for you, Elle? Everything all right?"

"I'm fine," Elle responds with cool nonchalance, visibly sizing Elisabeth up as she shifts onto one foot, arms resting on each other but not folded. It's possibly the biggest lie she's ever told in her life about her emotional state, but Elisabeth need not know that. The agent looks perfectly alright, anyway, neatly dressed in a cream-colored sweater jacket and jeans, hair in a ponytail. "There's absolutely nothing going on anywhere else." She says this with an exasperated loll of her chin, eyes staying fixed on the other woman's face. Gee, that's a compliment. "Hope you don't mind if we talk or something for a while."

"Not at all," Elisabeth says quietly. Maybe she'll figure out what the hell Norton sees in this woman. Closing the door behind her, Liz asks, "Want some coffee? I've got some on." She's been working from home as much as she can, writing a training manual and doing paperwork or follow-up calls on a couple of her cases — most of her caseload is being handled by other agents, though. She too is dressed comfortably, casually — jeans, an old NYPD sweatshirt that has seen better days, hair held out of her face by an alligator clip. She's barefoot, too. The apartment appears to be empty except for herself — there are pictures all over the place, on the walls, on the mantel. It's a tastefully furnished, lived-in place.

"That'd be cool. Thanks." Though Elle's stance as she steps into the apartment is one of disinterest, she secretly takes glances around. The photographs scattered all over catch her attention, each one for a brief second at a time, though her gaze seems to linger on the one or two containing Trask no longer than any of the others. What actually seeps into her is the reminder that Elisabeth is a member of the tightly-knit Phoenix clique, as clearly proclaimed by all the group shots.

It's still weird, that Elle is here.

"Your kid at school?" Just a casual question. She doesn't see him around anywhere.

"Yeah," Elisabeth replies, heading in to pour coffee. "How do you take it?" She notes Elle's interest and smiles slightly. "Most of those on the left are from before Columbia," she tells the blonde. Those are the ones that contain Trask, obviously. "I know that you've been learning a lot about this future and what brought it about. The things you're learning can't be terribly easy for you. How're you holding up?" she asks as she pours and fixes coffee, bringing it out to hand one of the mugs to Elle.

"Strong. Lots of sugar." As Elisabeth heads towards the kitchen to fix the coffee, Elle follows idly and at a conservative distance, pausing more than once to look over in the direction of the pictures being spoken of. When the question is posed, her gaze promptly shifts sideways onto the other blonde's face, one corner of her mouth turning up in a small smirk. "Do I look like I've folded? I'm learning stuff I didn't want to know, sure, but hearing nothing but bad news gets old after a while." There's a beat, and then, "Don't you worry that this future could end up, like, not happening?" Just, in general, with all the possibilities that exist. To say nothing of anybody purposely trying to stop it.

As she sets Elle's coffee in front of her on the breakfast bar, Elisabeth looks at the other blonde and says quietly, "Every single minute of every day since you got here." She comes around the counter to slide into one of the tall bar chairs, crossing her legs and sipping her own coffee. "Bad news is in the eye of the beholder, I guess," she finally says. "The deaths of my friends… was bad news. It was horrible. But in the end, something amazing came of that situation. We don't have a perfect utopian world here. Far from it. There's still crime, there's still violence, there are still wars. Evolved abilities still complicate what would otherwise be simpler problems. But… " She considers and says quietly, "I think raising my son in this world has been infinitely better than what could have happened. We were fast on the way to turning into a Soviet state for a while there. No justice for anyone."

Time travel is such a fun and utterly bewildering phenomenon, isn't it? The two shouldn't even be here conversing with each other right now. Should be impossible. "Most people die eventually," Elle points out with callous breeziness, sliding onto one of the chairs herself a moment after Elisabeth begins to. "It's a hard world. They're just lucky they died for something they might actually want to have died for." She shrugs one shoulder, gingerly pulling her coffee cup closer to her and letting it shed its steam. "What do you think could have happened?" she questions as she drops her hands away, watching Elisabeth narrowly.

Does the agent really want an answer to that? Elisabeth studies her for a long moment and then humors her. "I was NYPD for years, Elle — through 9/11, through the Bomb, through the aftermath of all of it." She leaves out the hiatus; it's not important. "I saw what happened when Registration became mandatory. Don't know if you remember a case called "The 36," but it was a mass suicide of teenagers from the ages of 14 to 18 — kids who were so scared of the rumors on the street that Evo people were being disappeared that they killed themselves to avoid it. Now…. the details of that case didn't become clear for a long time, but … when it happened, they were just the tip of the iceberg. People were terrified of the government, and of being outed as Evolved. It was extremely ugly. If the Company had not been brought down…. I honestly think this country might have descended into a kind of civil war mentality. I think it could have gotten really bad. That's not to say I think Pinehearst is a savior or anything — like any other organization, they do good things and they do bad things too, but…. it's better than what could have happened. The Company was… too mired in its own press, in its own secrets, to really have the best interests of EVERYONE at heart."

Well, Elle doesn't know. Elisabeth could've been talking about something as specific as her son being taken away or her being imprisoned or any number of wild things. She studies the cop right back, eyes eventually narrowing into crescents — both indicating some higher-order thinking going on and confirming with some criticism that yes, she's heard of the 36. "It's not the Company who started with all that, you know," is her first answer, rather less quickly than it might've come before her meeting with Arthur. She shifts the position of her wrists as she considers, looking down at the placemat below her without moving for a second. "At least, it wasn't supposed to. Dad always said it was supposed to protect us, but… things changed so much when the Evolved were outed. —No matter what though, those kids were stupid to kill themselves. Nothing was going to happen to them." Certainly not death, at any rate, though she isn't saying the alternative would've been a whole lot more desirable.

But as she utters this last statement, she fiercely bites her lip all of a sudden after saying it.

There's a small smile. "Yes…. they were stupid to kill themselves. For most of them, you're right that nothing would have happened. Like most of us who Registered, they'd have shown what they could do and then been left to go on about their business, for the most part. But they were frightened, badly." The circumstances around THAT, Liz will leave in the dark. Elisabeth pauses and says quietly, "The trouble was that while I actually do understand the Company started out as a benevolent organization trying to keep Evolved people safe from people who didn't understand them…. it got way, way out of hand. They became that which they were created to protect against." She shrugs and sips her coffee. "I knew a number of Company agents back in the day. And to a person, they all believed they were on the side of the angels…. that much, I really do believe. One person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter, right?" She smiles faintly. "But most of them also knew that though the goal they were working for was the right one, the implementations they were using …. didn't sit well. In truth, I find it interesting that you'd come to me to ask your questions. It tells me that maybe you're in the same boat. … Believing in the goal, not entirely sure the methods are the right ones."

That's funny because it's entirely, utterly wrong. Elle couldn't care one bit less about goals, gray knights, and the lofty ideals of self-deluded angels; her current beef with the Company rests on an issue that's a little more personal in scope. It was a logical assumption on Elisabeth's part, however, for not knowing the agent.

She snorts finally, one of her feet dangling down to find purchase on the horizontal bar of her chair. "You know more about the Company than someone who's li— than you should, for being on the outside." she says darkly, several of her fingers crooking involuntarily. "Please tell me you know all of this because of what happened. Because of what went public." And not because the knowledge is that patently obvious to everyone. In response to something else Elisabeth had said, she releases a puff of air from a subtly, contemptuously slack mouth. "I didn't come here because I intended to ask you moral questions, you know." She'd actually come to find out more about the kid. And possibly Trask. My, how conversations wander.

There's a grin. "Or not," Liz murmurs, noting Elle's expression. She doesn't comment on how she knows. Instead she asks, "So why did you come? You wanted to know something…. I rather thought it sounded like you wanted an actual answer to that question. But since you didn't, let's move on to what you really want to ask me." Her blue eyes skim over Elle and she guesses aloud, "Norton?"

"I did. But only because you started asking me stuff first." Elle's brows furrow, and she exhales air through her nose. At the mention of Trask, an incredibly wry look fades onto her face, making her lip curl momentarily. "Yeeeaaah. Something like that, actually." Her 'yeah' skates over the slope of a singsong, ending on a much lower note than it had started on. Her fingertips drum on the countertop.

There's a moment there, just a brief one, where it's purely a woman-to-woman moment. That single instant where eyes meet and women simply share that bond of being a woman as they speak of a man. Liz's blue eyes remain calm as she replies, "You realize that there's probably not much I can tell you about him, right?" Her phrasing there is actually purposefully ambiguous. "But ask."

A frown meets the assertion of not being able to tell much. But then the offer is made. Resorting to less peaceful intentions can wait. "Are you going out with him ten years ago?" Elle puts it bluntly. The expression in her own dark-blue eyes seems to curiously retract, somehow, becoming at once calculating and much more difficult to read. The gaze of a cat, it's become. Her lips remain a sliver of a line, but then she picks up her by-now cooled cup and takes a sip, watching Elisabeth over the rim.

There's a pause and a single eyebrow goes up on the older blonde's face. "Yes," she says simply. And then she waits to see what Elle will do with the information, sipping her coffee.

Neither of Elle's eyebrows go up to mirror Elisabeth's, as she might be inclined to make them do, though she does breathe heavily out through her nose as she sets down her cup. "So that kid I see you with is his?"

In truth, Elisabeth wasn't sure what Norton had told Elle… if he'd told her where he was going when he wasn't with her. He's been spending a good bit of time with Cam. "Yes, Cam is his son." She studies Elle and asks quietly, "Does that bother you?"

As far as that goes, no, Trask has kept mum about it. Which is probably a fortunate thing for both women right now. Elle's face takes on a vaguely condescending look, one side of her lips quirking. "Why would that bother me? Just wondering, because he kind of looks like you. And I know you hang around him. So I figured."

There's a slight nod. "Norton's been dead since before Cameron was born," Elisabeth says easily. "Your trip here has given my son the only opportunity he'll ever have to ask the questions a boy wants to ask of his birth father. So it's been…. complicated," she comments. "But I don't think it should bother you. It has nothing to do with your relationship with him… which I gather is close." She smiles a bit. "I'll admit that I worry that you're using him or that you'll hurt him… I can tell he genuinely likes you." For what reason, Liz still can't fathom.

Elle, who appears genuinely amused by this comment, curls her fingertips and takes another sip before answering. The gaze that she casts at Elisabeth is musing, showing off an innocent smile as she leans weight onto her forearms. "You don't have to be afraid for us. Your precious Norton will be in one piece when we get back to the present, don't worry." That … may or may not be reassuring, seeing as who it's coming from.

Tilting her head, Elisabeth offers a faint smile. "He says you're an amazing person," she offers quietly. "He seems to quite admire you… he hasn't mentioned details, just said you had a really tough childhood mostly inside the Company's custody. To my mind, you seem the poster child of 'that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger.' Tell me something…. are you planning on going back and derailing everything that led to this future?" She's not going to beat around the bush or treat Elle like she's stupid. "Not that I expect the future is going to look exactly as it does now, mind you," she says. "I'm told that we, at least, won't feel a thing when it changes. But… after being here for a month, I find myself wondering how you view this future."

At this mention of her past, Elle visibly tenses. She stares hard at Elisabeth, then seems to have a hard time focusing her gaze on any one place; it flicks into the depths of her coffee and onto the countertop beside it before she answers, looking at the cop again as she does. "I don't know what he told you," she says finally, her mouth briefly contracting into a humorless smile. "About me. I told him not to, but I guess there's a lot of things he hasn't told me either. If you want an honest answer? If you're really wondering whether I'm planning on tattletaling to the Company when I get back? I don't know."

A rare gleam of doubt appears in her dark-blue eyes, coupled with wryness. "I'll let you in on something. That's one-hundred percent what I was planning to do. But I've found out a lot over the last couple of days, and—" she looks down at the back of her hand, snorting silently. "Yeah."

Elisabeth nods slowly. "He's only told me exactly what I've already said — no details, just that you'd had a tough childhood, and that you have potential. Nothing more. He wouldn't break a confidence." She sets her coffee cup down and says, "That is definitely one of the things I was wondering, yes. The one thing that coming to the future has going for it is the possibility to see how things could be. What you do with the information …. well, I guess that's really up to you. What do you want to do with what you've learned?"

A tight-lipped smile forms. Elle casually overturns her palm, as if examining its lines for some message of divination, then observes while still looking downwards: “Me? I… plan to set things right.” The fingers of that hand clench towards themselves, and as they do, little blue lines arc from nail to nail. A weird look comes into her eyes, her smile staying, and she tilts her head mysteriously.

Whatever she had learned about the Company, it had touched off something deep, it seems.

Elisabeth studies the other blonde and asks quietly, "And let me ask you this… how could we in the past help you to do that?"

Still glowing blue, Elle’s fingertips do a reflective, tiny twitch. She glances back up at Elisabeth, eyes growing more critical. “By ‘we’, I assume you mean all of you in Phoenix. Are you asking, or trying to tell me something?”

"A little of both, actually… I don't know what happened to you in the custody of the Company as a child, but I can only imagine that it's horrible, frankly. I don't entirely know what you mean when you say you want to 'put some things right' — whether that's a personal statement of intent for revenge on specific individuals or whether it's a statement that you actually believe us when we tell you that the Company ultimately became its own worst enemy. But I'm willing to offer my help to you if you want it." Elisabeth keeps her eyes on the other blonde. "Even sending you home is a risk for all of us…. with all that you know about this future and how it came about, you could do immeasurable damage to all that we accomplished here. You could even change the entire course of events. But I'd like to think that when you're handed all the information, you'll make the choice to help bring about what you see out there. Hell, in the past, that'd likely earn you a pardon, if things go as they ought."

Though it no doubt wasn’t unintentional on Liz’s part, this brings a sting of indignation to Elle. The electricity abruptly -zaps- out of existence, leaving her bare hands to curl back into loose fists as she lowers them. Letting one elbow curve onto the tabletop, she leans, palm-on-chin. Her expression is displeased. “I’m not doing anything for the sake of a pardon,” she corrects, taptapping her fingertips and raising her eyebrows at Elisabeth, mouth small. “I’m not sorry for anything I’ve done. If I do what I do, it’s because somebody else has done wrong, and not me.” She lets the end of that trail off so it can sink in.

Nevertheless, the offer of help itself doesn’t go quite as ill-received. “What kind of help do you think you can offer?” she questions, looking carefully into the other woman’s face.

Raising both her brows, Liz contradicts, "I never said you'd do it for a pardon, or for any other reason than that you might think it was the right thing to do. Whatever else has gone one, Elle, it sounds to me like you got fucked royally." She tilts her head. "And to be honest, I don't know for sure what help I can offer until I know what you plan to do. But look around you at what the last decade's brought for Evolved people. You know some of the names of people within the Company who turned on them. If you think what the Company is doing is right… I probably can't help much. If you want personal retribution, I might actually be up for helping with that back in the past." She smiles a bit. "I have a pet peeve against people who fuck with Evo kids. They don't get mercy, so far as I'm concerned."

Still unfinished ):

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