Futures Worth Having


f_elisabeth_icon.gif f_gabriel_icon.gif

Scene Title Futures Worth Having
Synopsis Or… their future, our present? Time is hard, and Elisabeth asks Gabriel about it before filling him in on some details.
Date April 11, 2019

A Coffee Shop

This would not be the first time Elisabeth has run into Gabriel at the coffee shop. Won't even be the second — after all, this is the coffee stop nearest the precinct that SCOUT works out of, as well as near enough the federal building to get cops and feds alike as regular customers. At the moment, she's settled in a booth with a large latte and her laptop. But she's glancing up regularly and so notes Gabe's entrance, offering a smile and a murmured, "You're welcome to join" with her enhanced voice and his enhanced hearing as an assist.

Elisabeth's voice slithers smoothly through the early crowd in the coffeeshop, enough to turn his head once he's paid for his drink, like a hook in his subconscious. Gabriel's eyes dart amongst the thin crowd, table to table, and Liz isn't so hard to find. She gets a quirk of a smile and a nod, before once the transaction out the counter is complete, Officer Gray is insinuating himself through the shop and over to her table.

He's dressed in day clothes, no uniform in sight - not until he gets to work, anyway, which might be what the backpack slung over a shoulder is for, and this he sets down as he invites himself to sit, already peeling off the plastic cap of his own coffee to let the steam flow out of it. "Half expected everyone to be still sleeping off the gala."

"Nah," Liz replies with a smile. "There's no sleeping in with a seven-year-old in the house." There's a shrug and she closes the laptop because she's got company now. "Heard there was a little excitement after I herded the SAC of the city out — what the heck was going on with that, or do I dare ask?"

His coffee is as black as pitch, and Gabriel doesn't seem inclined to go for the sugar available on the table as he wraps a hand around the paper cup. Guess he must really be a cop now, or something. His eyes are on the dark liquid as Elisabeth brings about that particular topic, getting a soft snort from the erstwhile serial killer. "There was excitement," he agrees, before blowing a cooling stream of air across the top of his coffee. "Varlane— got into a fight," or so goes the story, "with Flint Deckard. It didn't end well. He took off so it's going to be a surprise as to whether he'll be in or not today. Party pretty much ground to a halt. You didn't miss much except for that and Abby cussing up a storm."

There's a faint snicker as Elisabeth sips from her own cup — cop or not, she never drank her coffee black. Especially in the precinct. That stuff was always strong enough to strip paint. "Yeah… I heard about that." She tilts her head and studies him. "I expect the fight had to do with Deckard's declarations regarding his and Abby's relationship. I can't help sometimes but wonder what she sees in him, but you know? To each their own. It's time your partner grew up and accepted that the woman doesn't want him — he's been pining for her for a decade now." Not that she doesn't sympathize and all, but … c'mon. "How're you holding up? You didn't look in all that great a shape either."

Gabriel mutely nods in agreement as to Magnes. A subject he has plenty to say about and yet at the same time, nothing at all. His gaze dips down, fingers tapping the sides of his coffee cup before it's brought up to sip. By the time it's lowered, there's a slight draw of a sheepish smile on his features - at least he has the grace to look a little bashful at the mention of how exactly he was holding up that night. "It was— interesting. I'm glad I didn't have to be anywhere important early morning. I'm fine, though. Got out alive."

Another pull of coffee, and a shrug of broad shoulders. "As for Flint, I don't know. Some people just work. Or don't work. Abby likes— having something to fix, I think."

Interesting perspective. And the observation has not escaped Liz either, but she merely shrugs at it. "In the times we've managed to sit and talk, you've never really mentioned whether you like what you do nowadays, Gabriel. How is SCOUT working out for you?" It may seem like a complete non sequitor, but in Liz's mind today, it's really not — she's had the past slap her in the face, and Gabriel's role in it was kinda big.

Unable to not look completely guarded when the question is asked so casually, Gabriel takes a second to perhaps try and read whatever double-meaning might lie behind the question, gaze flitting from one eye and back to the other before he allows a smile to draw itself across his face. Really, there are only so many people left in the world who know the truth behind the facade, and one of them is seated across the table right now, asking him if he's happy with his job.

"I do like what I do," he says, tone reserved, as if shy. "I don't think I could have taken any more military when I was offered training for FRONTLINE. This at least keeps me useful." Perhaps a stilted answer, but it's the best one he has for her. The corner of his mouth quirks up a little, goes to take another sip of coffee but not before asking, almost coyly, "Why? How do you think SCOUT is working for me?"

In truth, there is no double meaning — it's merely that she wonders sometimes whether Gabriel's actually happy with his life. In the past ten years, so many things have changed. Elisabeth sips from her coffee and then offers him a sincere smile. "On a professional level, I think it works out very well for you. It's a good fit for your skills, I think. On a more personal level… you seem happy with it. I just…." She pauses and then considers her words. "Some things have happened recently that have made me think a lot about the past few years, you know? Wondering how things would be different if certain incidents hadn't happened. It's a big what-if game, but … you're one of the bigger what-ifs, I think. A man who's changed sides, who seems to finally have what you want out of life. I guess it made the think to ask if you were actually happy with what you have. God knows, you could make more money working in the private sector." She knows SCOUT cops are paid a bit better than other cops at their pay grade because of special skills, but not THAT much more.

It's true - his wife makes more than he does by a decent margin. Gabriel watches Elisabeth as she speaks, and doesn't entirely seem uncomfortable with her assessments, simply listening. When she finishes, there's a short bit of contemplative silence, coffee held mostly forgotten between his hands.

Then, "I'm happy. For a long time I didn't have options, and now I do. I could be anything. There are— " He pauses, not wishing to sound too much like Tamara despite having just seen her recently, as pretend-normal as she might be with her following of shadows, and starting again. "Things could have always worked out differently." Considering he's seen a version of 2019 once before, and it was a hellhole compared to this paradise. Of this, Gabriel says nothing, simply stating, "I'm fortunate it's unfolded the way it has. Not everyone gets a chance to make up for their pasts. What's got you thinking back?" It doesn't occur to him that that may or may not be personal, but also like Tamara, Gabriel hasn't totally perfected the normal thing.

There's a pause, and Elisabeth says quietly, "I ran into someone recently that … was a shock. Let me ask you this, since you have a huge repository of knowledge in your head about some things…." And prior experience with Hiro and time travel in general, too. "If someone important to today were to suddenly be yanked out of the past and plunked down here, … do you think that all the things they did in the intervening years would automatically vanish and no one would remember them, changing the time stream between? Or would that person's very appearance in the future suddenly make our timeline an alternate one?" She looks at him and grins a little bit. "And before you ask my if I'm insane, I'm not. I'm just…. running into the person I ran into has really thrown me and got me thinking about Hiro Nakamura, you know? And all the things he must have seen. And then when I spotted you, I realized that maybe you'd have a little insight into that rather … odd… question."

Slowly, Elisabeth gets a raised eyebrow look from the erstwhile serial killer, although he smooths it down to something more neutral when she politely asks him not to call her crazy, blinking rapidly and then giving a whisper of a chuckle at her reasoning for bringing it up. The scent of burned coffee is in the air, the clink of metal against porcelain and the occasional ding! of the till all seem too surreally mundane for the memories Liz is accidentally unearthing. He's remembering an empty New York City. Machines, disease, AK-47s.

What had happened to that Eileen? It's a good question. "You're right," Gabriel says, finally, quieter, voice drifting beneath the sounds of the coffee shop. "A long time ago, I was sent— forward once." One shoulder shrugs, as if asking her, in turn, to not call him crazy. If she's going to poke he of so much experience, well, this would be it. "Almost as far as— actually, slightly before now, last year. It was changed forever, and I couldn't tell you what happened to the people I saw. Maybe they stopped existing, maybe they exist somewhere else. Maybe Nakamura couldn't access it if he tried, not that he'd want to."

Another shrug. "What I mean is, I was once that important person from the past— 'plunked' down somewhere I didn't belong. I think it's possible that I went missing for them and they went missing for me, if that makes sense. Or…" On entirely the other hand, and Gabriel's gaze drifts a little as he continues with, "everything just changed, and I've caught up. It'll drive you insane if you think about it too hard, and we haven't had enough coffee." A pause, now keeping the woman locked under a look, a question going unspoken for now, instead taking a long sip of aforementioned coffee.

There's a long, slow nod. "How much of what happened in that future did you learn?" Elisabeth hesitates and asks softly, "And how much of what you saw did you go back to the present and try to change? What do you think would have happened if you hadn't been able to go back… if you hadn't been able to return and therefore to not do any of the good you've done between?" Her blue eyes meet his, and there's quite definitely more than casual interest in his answer.

It's difficult to admit that you saved the world by accident. Gabriel's eyebrows raise at the gravity of her question, gravity to him, anyway. "I learned what would happen if I let things continue on their own course," he says, slowly, carefully. "If I hadn't gone back, with all I'd known, I wouldn't have— set things in motion. I tried to prevent awful things from happening and wound up almost making them happen anyway, but because I had known, I did things just different enough to set things in motion. Nudge people in the right direction without even realising it. Something will change, no matter what happens. We of their future won't even know it, I think. We'll continue as we are or we'll change, our history will change. One thing can be said about time travel… it's a merciful, harmless process. You won't even know what hit you." He nods to her, now, a jerky chin up, his own gaze intent. "Who're the 'visitors'?" Tamara's word.

It's not like Elisabeth expects Tamara to keep it to herself. Their circle of people nowadays includes many more people than it used to. But his comment about 'merciful' and 'harmless' makes her smile just a hair sadly, looking down at her coffee and swirling it a bit. "Would you have gone back even if you knew that for what we have right now, you'd have had to die somewhere in there?" When she looks up at him, she says quietly, "For example…. if you were one of the Columbia 14?"

That doesn't register immediately for Gabriel, though he knows perfectly well who the Columbia 14 are. But it seems so detached from the point that— oh. Slight realisation dawns, even if he doesn't know the specific names of who Liz is talking about, and he lets out a sigh. "In the future I saw, I was— as good as dead," he says, carefully. "But then again there was no way I could stay there. Things were— worse than they were for me in the present I'd come from. If I'd have stepped into utopia… it wouldn't have been so easy to go back, no. Why would you?"

There's a slow nod. "Yeah…. exactly," Liz sighs quietly. "Why would you? Except that your death is part of what brought about utopia. Is that enough reason?" Helena sure seems to think so, as does at least one other member. But others? "God, time travel and the ramifications give me a huge headache. Just so you know," she tells Gabriel with a smile.

She gets a smile mirrored back at her, one of sympathy. "That's why we have geniuses to get headaches about it for us," Gabriel says. "For what it's worth, I think that if the— visitors stayed, it wouldn't make a difference. They've already split. Their— the version of themselves from our timeline never came to the future in the first place. Presumably. But, like I said, it's why we have geniuses, and I'm not one. I could be wrong. Maybe we won't even remember tomorrow." Then, hesitation, gaze darting from his cooling coffee then back to her. Almost wary. "Is it… anyone I…?" He trails off, awkward, unsure how to phrase the question.

Elisabeth hesitates and says quietly, "There are definitely names you'll know, even if you don't know them personally. Three of them died at Columbia, a couple of them are ex-Vanguard. A couple are … or were… Company types. It's a motley batch. And although we're putting out feelers for anyone can send them back — cuz at least the three that are Phoenix-related are willing to go back in spite of the death factor." She hesitates and admits quietly, "One of them is my son's father. I'm trying to …. figure out whether to let Cam know." Gabriel's familiar enough with the boy and his playmates (Abby's kids, Delilah's son, etc).

Gabriel almost slumps back into his seat, but instead, he stays rigid. Especially at the notions of ex-Vanguard. Company. The uneasiness is almost palpable, and he's silent for some time, before he nods a little, raising an eyebrow when she mentions how personal one such connection is. "Be careful what you tell them," he says, finally. "Anyone Vanguard might not— approve, exactly, of Eileen and myself. What we've done to get here. How far back are we talking? Before 2011?"

Elisabeth immediately nods. "The Moab run," she tells him quietly. "Whereas ours failed, there were eight of them that got flung forward in time when they did it. They are…. understandably somewhat overwhelmed by all that they're seeing here. We're trying to be careful who knows what. Cat's calling in help from all quarters, though. Teo's on his way back to town, and there's talk of turning to Peter Petrelli for help in getting them back." She grimaces. "The ones who've popped up are …. Lucrezia and Isabelle." She grins just a hair and comments, "And Isabelle's one pissed off fire-wielder at me right now, so I'm keeping my distance as much as possible." She glances at him and shrugs a little. "I arrested her several weeks before the raid for something that it turned out wasn't remotely her doing. Didn't know that til she was already frying Petey, though," she says, referring to Baxter. "By then it was too late, she went straight to Moab."

There's a soft snort when the name Lucrezia comes up, mild surprise on his face before it's gone again, back to listening, albiet with a slight nose wrinkle when Petrelli is mentioned. "Peter'll do it, probably. As long as he sends them to the right place. You never know," he adds, picking up the plastic lid of his coffee and putting it back on, conserving what heat is left, "you might have some pissed off temporal manipulator coming to fix things any day now. Someone had to send them here, after all. Hard to fuck this hard with the fabric of time and space and not notice."

Unless you're— Peter Petrelli. But never mind that.

"There's a reason I avoided that power," Gabriel adds with a flicker of a smile. "Bad enough to be able to paint the future, let alone go there. I can keep it quiet. Let me know if you need help… keeping them in check, I guess."

Elisabeth laughs quietly. "Well… they don't really know how it happened, but there's definitely been some discussion already about Peter's power and whether the fact that they took power augmentors in there may have caused the problem or something. So… it's possible that this is all Peter's fault in the first place." She rolls her eyes and then smiles at him. "I know you can keep it quiet, Gabriel. I wouldn't have told you otherwise. I'm working on IDs for all of them, and I'm hoping none of them are accosted too often in the street." She glances at him, "We've got Helena Dean here, among the three. That could get … somewhat amusing. Cat's planning on having her set up as an actress in a movie about the Columbia 14 or something as a cover. But if you want to help keep the peace on this one….. I think maybe keeping your ears to the police scanners to make sure no riots start over who's here would be an additional help. Helena Dean, Alex Knight, Norton Trask, Elle Bishop… Lucrezia. Jessica or Niki Sanders. Isabelle. And a guy named Django that I have no last name for. I'll let you know when I have IDs in place, if you like, so you can listen just in case anyone gets picked up."

He recognises an alarming amount of names, there, all but two, and he gives a soft, incredulous chuckle. Moab raid. Gabriel shakes his head. "Things have changed so much from their time… I don't think they'd be able to trust me as far as they could throw me."

Pause. "By normal means, anyway." Because Alexander and Nikica can throw quite far, presumably. "They'd only remember a monster. I can do my part on the scanners, yeah. Elle, you might do well to watch out for ahead of time - I don't know how familiar you are with her, but she— she's a handful." This is said in the tone that perhaps medical restraints and a bucket of water wouldn't go amiss with the woman.

He shifts in his seat, moving to slide out from the booth and picking up his backpack, then his coffee. "In the meantime, I need to clock in eventually. IDs would be useful, if you want an extra set of eyes."

Elisabeth nods gratefully. "Appreciate it, Gabe. A lot more than I can say." She smiles at him. "I'll try to keep them out of your orbit at all costs, okay? I don't think any of them need to screw up your life for you." And she'll take the advice on Elle in terms of keeping a close eye. "Trask is brid-dogging Elle, but she's on the clear understanding that if someone actually IDs her, she's likely to end up in Moab as a prisoner this time and executed in short order. So thus far, she seems willing to behave. In truth, I worry more about what the hell happens if or when we send them all back." The idea crosses her mind that perhaps Elle ought to merely be dealt with here. Liz is a bit more practical and less idealistic than she used to be.

And Gabriel's never been idealistic over practical, and not now either. He glances at Elisabeth in a way that might communicate he'd agree on methods unspoken, giving an uncertain smile and lingering hesitation. "Me too," he finally admits, because god knows his current position is precarious, when measured on a piece of string in a web of timelines and happenstance. "I'll see you later, Liz. And remember, at least if the fabric of time and space is ripped to shreds, we won't even know it." On that dubiously reassuring note, the former serial killer spreads out a couple of fingers from the grasp on his coffee in a still wave, before he's moving from the table.

<date>: previous log
<date>: next log
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License