Gone Are The Ribbons And Bows


vf_elisabeth_icon.gif vf_magnes_icon.gif

Scene Title Gone Are The Ribbons and Bows
Synopsis Now with a source of musical comfort, Elisabeth updates Magnes on certain, very important things.
Date November 10, 2011

The Hub: Common Room

Liz left a note on the cot in the room that they’d been sharing, letting Magnes know where to find her — ‘Ask for the piano’ is what she wrote, as cryptic as that might be. When she’d left the room, he’d been sleeping finally and she hadn’t wanted to wake him. So now, it’s not that difficult to get someone to point the way and once he’s close enough, the sounds of musical notes are audible in the hallway. The person playing is quite good, and he has the experience to tell that it’s not self-taught; there are clearly years of lessons behind the player. As he rounds the doorway, however, the person from the back isn’t the least bit familiar — a blonde with a very short pixie cut is playing that instrument. Still, something about the way she moves is certainly familiar, and as the song draws to its conclusion, there’s a long pause.

Finally, she turns toward the door, obviously aware that someone was watching but not having identified who — survival instincts being what they are, her neck was prickling. And Elisabeth smiles a bit self-consciously. “Hey… you’re awake.”

"Hey! I didn't know you could play piano too." Magnes looks less tired than usual, though there's something exhausted about him lately, and as he lets his stubble get longer and longer, he's not looking as clean cut as he usually does.

Walking over, he takes a seat on the bench next to her, staring at her hair. "You changed."

There’s a moment where she reaches up to the shorn hair, clearly still uncomfortable with the lack of weight that the waist-length braid must have put there. “Uhm… yeah. Well, … after visiting K-Mart, I rather thought it might be a prudent move to change my appearance some. To make sure no one else here recognizes me,” Elisabeth admits quietly.

Then her smile quirks one corner of her lips again. “Too? I had no idea you played.” She gestures to the instrument. “Ruiz told me it was here… playing the piano has always been an outlet for stress. At least… when I can’t run around and cook for an army of people.” Liz shrugs slightly. “I taught music at Washington Irving for a couple of years. Minored in college.” She doesn’t remember doing that, but she did learn about her own credentials. Tilting her head as she studies him, she asks, “Is there something else I need to know about, Magnes? I know neither of us is sleeping well and we’re both looking rather like shit… but I’m starting to get really concerned about how you’re looking.” And there is a virus running rampant in this world; she couldn’t stand for him to become ill and be lost.

"I don't know how to explain." Magnes says as he extends his hands to start playing the Great Fairy Fountain music from Zelda, considering just how to explain. He keeps his back straight. "My ability is different… or I'm more aware of my ability. It's negated right now, but… when I was a black hole, my, uh, my consciousness expanded. It's like I wasn't human. I could feel the moon, the sun, the Earth, the planets. Everything was connected, and I just… I wanted to swallow it all."

"I pulled myself back, at the last minute, right before we came here. But now… now I don't feel the same. I don't feel like myself." He stops playing, resting his hands on his thighs, staring down at the keys. "It's like I have to keep reminding myself of who I am, to keep myself grounded, human. But I feel different. Everything feels so small, the planet feels like a rock. And I'm thinking… I'm thinking a lot more clearly than normal, but I just… I don't feel entirely human anymore."

Observing the way he sits, Elisabeth is quiet as he talks. She’s learning new things about him all the time. Unfamiliar with the piece he chooses to play, she simply puts her attention on what he’s saying — having the music as a cover is actually easing her worry that they’re being spied on. She might be just a little paranoid lately.

Nodding slowly, there is a genuine understanding in her tone as she replies. “You know what a soundproofed room feels like, when you’re practicing?” she asks, her own hands coming up to play a Lanz piece while they talk. “How the walls absorb the sound so that you can play without bothering anyone else? For someone with my power, even when it’s not augmented, sound is like the very air around us. I can usually feel the ebb and flow of … people moving, whispers in the air, the change in pressures. So being negated, for me, feels … rather like being wrapped up in cotton wool and then bubble wrap and then stuffed into a sound-proofed box.” She grimaces slightly. “When I was augmented? It was…. An incredible sensation.”

Her hands continue smoothly to move along the keys. “I could … literally feel the sound of air molecules brushing against one another as they moved, it seemed like. The sound of heartbeats for miles. I could pick out who had a heart murmur, whose joints weren’t moving smoothly.” Elisabeth bites her lip. “I could reach into the ultrasonic ranges…. And I felt a man literally break apart under the sound waves that I directed at him. In mere microseconds, he was nothing but a fine mist of blood and bone hanging in the air like a cloud.” She looks at him. “I understand,” she says simply. “But you have to find your way back, Magnes. You were right. I can’t do this alone.”

"I'm here, if anything I'm probably more useful. Just, so much of what I used to think about, a lot of it seems so far away. I feel as if there's something big I'm supposed to be doing, supposed to be solving. How to get out of here, how to save these people, how to save you. It's all I'm thinking about. And I know that seems, well…" Magnes shrugs, holding his hands up for a moment. "It sounds like what I should be thinking about, but I don't think I've been so focused since I was a child."

"I'm not freaked out, I'm sleeping in the same room as you and I'm not thinking twice about it. I'm not… me, you get it?" he asks, looking over at her, unsure. "I've been augmented before, but what he did, it was like, he augmented me so that I'd expand way beyond normal human limits. I ripped a hole in the universe. It's a feeling that doesn't go away, but I won't let this stop us from getting out of here…"

“Hmmm,” Elisabeth replies quietly, her hands still picking out the tune she’s playing. “I do get what you mean by not feeling like yourself.” Her reply is thoughtful. “I don’t… really know how to help with that one, but I also don’t want you to feel like this is all on you. Because it’s not.” Pursing her lips slightly, she tells him quietly, “They’ve lost more people. Ruiz moved me to another room today so that I have a little private space… but coincidentally enough, Magnes… It’s Odessa’s space.”

Slanting a look at him, she tells him quietly, “This world is very close to ours. And this Edward Ray is… very close to our Edward without being him. The more I see around here, the less I want to tell him about our world, despite the risks that we might not get home because of it.” Elisabeth’s blue eyes are very worried. “I cannot shake the feeling that … though he may not have orchestrated us being here, he’s going to use that to his advantage somehow. And not just to escape this hellhole.” She shrugs a little. “However, I’m willing to admit that it could just be my very bad experiences with our Edward Ray coloring that perspective.”

"Odessa." Magnes frowns, lifting his head to make eye contact with her again. "We have to lay everything out. Edward's motives still have to make sense, if they're bad or not." He starts to count things off on his fingers. "Getting more power here would be pointless, affecting the future in this world would also be pointless. Any plan that he has, has to involve escaping this universe, or destroying anything left. But the motives ultimately have to be realistic, they have to make sense."

Elisabeth nods slightly, her hands falling still on the keys for now. “I can get behind that. In our timeline… he had kids. And there were things sent to Richard that claimed he was doing things in their best interests. But… I honestly have zero idea whether I believe that. And… asking that question of him here, straight out? Might give him too much information about our home. You know?”

"The more he knows about our home, the more he'll want to help us get back, because it'll become an increasing factor in his probability models." Magnes reaches over, trying to place a hand onto her shoulder. There's a strange sadness in his eyes when he does, but he continues to talk regardless. "Our priority should be getting back home, and saving these people. Edward isn't a god, there's a difference between precognition and probability. Do you really think that someone can accurately fit me into a probability model? Have you ever seen any evidence that I'm particularly predictable?"

He takes a breath. "We have to push this thing to the limit. You have a lot of history with him, I can tell that he scares you. But I'm not afraid of him, I'm not afraid of his ability. You might think that comes from ignorance, but really…" He shakes his head. "You're my last connection from our home. Regardless of the kind of person he is, regardless of how smart he is, I'll die for you. My willingness to die for you is something I'll stake against his intentions any day of the week. I won't let him hurt you, or us, or our world."

She doesn’t shrug away from the hand on her shoulder, perhaps taking comfort in that companionable touch. Shoving her other hand roughly through her short hair, Liz sighs heavily. “Well… I’ll give you that much,” she concedes. “I’m pretty sure you break probability models in your spare time.” Her tone is a bit rueful. But she looks at him with worry vivid in her expression.

“I’m not scared of him, Magnes. Honestly, I hate him with a soul-deep passion for what he’s done to Richard.” Elisabeth’s blue eyes are hard. “But I will work with the devil himself to get us home again. And frankly…” She sighs heavily. “I do think that he is a motherfucker but also that in some twisted way he wanted better for his own children. And if saving some of the rest of the world fell in with that, well so be it — if it didn’t, fuck them. So if we’re in agreement that the only way to do that is to tell him everything he wants to know, then I guess that’s what we’re going to do.” God help us both.

"If possible, try to avoid telling him too much about us. If you can't, that's fine, but try. The less he knows about us, the less he'll be able to predict our behavior. But I do want you to tell him how you felt about me, if you can fit it in. Tell him how you felt about me, tell him how I screwed things up a lot. What that'll do is work things into his probability models that, if we can overcome those things, will give us the upper-hand if he tries to betray us." Magnes devises, moving his hand down to one of hers.

"For as not myself as I feel, it's lonely here on some level. That's something I still feel, something I sabotaged a lot back home with people." He still has that sort of sad look in his eye, as if mourning something, but it's not clear what exactly. "I'm probably gonna aim my usual feelings about women I happen to be in the proximity of at you, if you don't mind. You can ignore them, it just… helps me to feel those emotions, helps me to feel like me. I'll try to avoid being awkward about it." His tone about how he is, how he perceives himself, is a little different than usual. There's a slight coldness in the way that he talks about himself, as if referring to distant feelings, or a past life he's trying to talk into being.

Something to latch onto.

Elisabeth purses her lips at the thought that by telling Edward what a colossal mess Magnes had the ability to make it would somehow help us… but she chooses not to say anything to that thought except, “We’ll see what happens with him.”

She squeezes his hand and shifts on the bench of the piano to look at him fully, making sure she has his eyes. There’s a slight narrowing of her eyes as she studies him and with typical Liz-candor, she informs him quietly, “Feel whatever you feel, say whatever you need to say … I will be here no matter what. Just understand that if you’re too far out of bounds, I will just take to smacking the snot out of you.” She isn’t sure if he’s implying he’d actually move on her, but Never. Gonna. Happen. Even if she wanted to be attracted to someone, there is just no room in her for more than worry and perhaps fear. “My dad was a great one for the cuff on the back of the head. By the time we get home, you’ll be intimately acquainted with a Gibbs-slap, I’m sure.” She grins a bit at him. “And when I don’t smack you, you’ll know I’m really pissed off.”

"Don't worry about that. My mind is mostly occupied, but I don't want to lose myself in it. I've been working on improving my physical model of the multiverse. I think the theories might be useful." Magnes reaches up to rub the back of his head, as if imagining the slap that hasn't actually come yet. "I need to get back to training myself too. I kind of miss when I used to train with Kimiko Nakamura, everything was simpler back then."

“It’s funny how that works,” Elisabeth agrees quietly. “Combat usually is a hell of a lot simpler than most of the rest of this — there is a simplicity to it, once you’re in the fight. Someone wins, someone loses, and you know whose side you’re on. At least for those moments.” She can’t help the soft huff of laughter at the way he rubs the back of his head — she has made that move quite a few times in her life.

She turns back to the piano they’re sitting at and runs her fingers across the keys, sending music floating into the air. The Eagles are easy. She smiles just a little, singing softly, “Hi there… how are ya? It’s been a long while… it seems like we’ve come a long way. … My but we learn so slow… heroes, they come and they go… and leave us behind, as if we’re s’posed to know why…”

"With Kimiko, I mostly got beaten up a lot. Hiro had time travel powers and I think even he was a little afraid of her." Magnes slumps a little, listening to her play. He hasn't heard this from Sable yet, a lot of the music he knows is because of Sable, but he enjoys it nonetheless, smiling slightly. "When we get back it won't be the same. I feel too different. I don't even feel like I can look anyone in the eye."

With her fingers still moving, Liz considers what and how much to say to the young man. “You’ve… burned a lot of bridges behind you, Magnes,” she admits candidly. She’s never been one to dodge stating the truth. “There were times when … I don’t know if you were actually just innocently oblivious or deliberately so when some of us tried to tell you that … what you were doing was hurting people. You couldn’t or didn’t want to hear us.”

Glancing at him, she tells him quietly, “But we don’t have the luxury here of lying to one another. So the only thing I can say here is that… You definitely will not be the same. And in a great many ways, it’s a good thing. This is your opportunity to use what you’ve been taught and make yourself into the man you want to be.”

"I always thought I was doing the right thing. I never should have gotten involved in anything. Me and Elaine even broke up because I wouldn't stop going out and being a vigilante. I kept getting involved with whatever it is we're always doing." Magnes is staring at his feet again. "But I felt my consciousness get torn apart. Even if I quit all of this when I get back, how can I feel good in a normal life again? People are going to notice there's something different about me.. What if they don't think I'm fun, or kind, or whatever else anymore?"

“You’re overthinking,” Elisabeth tells him mildly. And there’s a bit of a grin as she says it, having heard that accusation many times in her life, including the shadow that Magnes seems to think so highly of. “Listen, Magnes… I’m not the person to tell you how to live a ‘normal’ life because ‘normal’ is an illusion. Do I look like I live anything approaching what some people would term a ‘normal’ life?” She shrugs. “Live your life. Make the best decisions you can with the information in front of you — and be willing to admit that you’re wrong when you do shit that turns out badly. It’s really not as hard as you’re making it out to be. If you’re always worried what other people think of you, how are you supposed to know what you think of you? You’re the person who has to live in your head. If you look in the mirror in the morning and you’ve done everything you can do to be good to the people who crossed your path and to help where you can… I honestly think that’s the most successful kind of life you can live. If you look in the mirror and you know you cocked it all up? Take a deep breath, pull up your big-boy undies, and go into the day with the determination to do better that day.” She shrugs a little.

Her hands continue just moving across the keys and she tilts her head. “Did you know Richard Cardinal was a thief?” Elisabeth glances at him. “He didn’t give a flat shit about anyone but himself when I met him. He used his ability to steal whatever he wanted.” She give a face that seems to indicate ‘meh’. “Not a very good person, if you ask him — he used to tell me all the time he wasn’t a good man, that he was a rat bastard.” Pursing her lips, she sighs softly.

“And then… 36 kids committed suicide because they were scared of being Evo. Scared what it would mean for them. And Richard Cardinal, petty thief and asshole who never cared what anyone thought of him? Still didn’t care what anyone thought of him, and decided that by God if no one else was going to try to make the world something that doesn’t scare 36 kids into killing themselves, then he would.” Her grin is vaguely amused. “And then, guess what? Somewhere along the way in a future that doesn’t exist, he turned into that crazy fucker Zeke.” She shrugs again. “All I’m saying here is… no one is perfect. Your path will never be perfectly clear. You’ll make good choices and bad ones. Everyone has a story… everyone is the hero of their own story. The trick is… you have to be able to look at your own story objectively and say ‘yeah… I did the best I could.’”

"It's hard to believe Cardinal was any different." Magnes stares at her in surprised confusion, blinking. "It's difficult, knowing who I want to be. I try to do the right thing, what people say is the right thing, and weigh that against what I think is the right thing. I always just wanted to follow what people said, but then people would say conflicting things, and it was like…" He runs his fingers through his hair in frustration. "When I think about what I want to do, it was when I was being a vigilante. When I was saving kidnapped people, beating up drug dealers and stuff. That was what I wanted to do. When I was getting tied up in groups, going overseas… everything always goes to hell, always, always! I almost never really knew what was going on, it was never really that simple, and we'd always have people with different views of the world at various levels of extreme."

"And if you don't believe everything always goes wrong whenever I get tied up in this stuff?" He spreads both hands out, motioning around them. "Look at where we are! It was just… it was simple, I should have stuck to doing vigilante stuff, that felt right, that made sense. I knew who was good, who was bad. But this crap… this never made sense, ever. I just didn't want my friends to die, I didn't want my ability to be wasted staying home. But even then, people would have rathered I stayed home anyway."

There is a part of her that wishes she could contradict that last statement, but it would be a lie — she’s pretty sure people did want that. But she understands the need to make a difference. “I wish I could boil it down to simple rules for you, Magnes. I really do,” Elisabeth tells him sincerely. “Believe me when I tell you… you’re right. NONE of this crap ever makes sense to me either. I didn’t want my friends to die, and I felt a responsibility to use these abilities I’ve been given to try to make a difference. I think… what makes us different is that …” She pauses and considers. “While I may go in kicking down the doors, I try not to draw attention to myself while doing it, and I try to use the minimum amount of force to get the job done, maybe? For me it’s not just about saving my friends… it has to also be about what’s best for the most amount of people. Who are you really helping when you’re a vigilante? How are those actions making the world around the people you love a better place? And how is the result of your action going to HURT people around you? Those are kind of the things I use to measure my own actions. And it’s really the only answer I have for you.”

"I didn't really care about the most amount. I wanted to save whoever I could save, and when I was doing vigilante stuff, I gave up what felt like the best thing in my life to do it. I knew it hurt her, but I couldn't just… I couldn't just not do this." Magnes turns around on the bench, facing away from the piano now. "But doing this, working on this model of the multiverse, trying to figure out how to open a hole in the universe again, trying to figure out reality itself. This is all starting to make sense, starting to feel like what I was meant to do. I realize that I need to get better at it, that I need to figure out what this all really means."

"I need to figure out the nature of gravity, of reality, I need to know the truth. I know this sounds insane, but…" He looks at their surroundings. "There were all of these futures, we kept trying to stop the results of these futures to save our own. But we're in a directly parallel timeline, not the future. We're in a very real universe, a universe with an inevitably even worse future. What about the other timelines, the other ones that ran parallel to ours? What's happening in them, and what should I let those things happen?"

Taking a deep breath, he slowly runs a hand down over his face. "If I can figure this out, figure out the nature of the multiverse, the nature of these timelines. If I can learn that it isn't all futile, that these worlds aren't so much just a jumble of infinite possibility, but real, living, breathing worlds, then maybe those worlds can be saved? Maybe all worlds can be saved somehow. At least the ones that are closest to ours. You might think, where does it end, especially when worlds are infinite, but… Seeing these people here, I realize that this isn't the only world that needs hope."

"I don't care if it sounds insane, I'm going to figure this out, and I'm going to save every world." he says with absolute conviction, and also perhaps directly contradicting his point about not wanting to save the most people.

She can’t fault the desire. Elisabeth can only nod slowly at him. “Never let it be said you don’t have grand goals, Magnes.” There’s a soft huff of laughter from her at it, but she sounds sincere as she says to him, “I’ve never doubted that you wanted to do the right things at any given time, you know. I just… have no functional idea of how to help you weigh your own actions and their consequences before jumping feet-first into them. It’s a sad reality that sometimes the best action … is to not act.” She gives one of those shugs with both eyebrows high on her forehead. “Then again… you’re talking to a woman who has stepped up, every single damn time, hoping that this time things would be better instead of worse. So…” Helpless hands.

"Well, all that aside…" Magnes finally seems to chill out a bit, looking over at her. "Have you learned anything useful about the situation here?"

Bringing her hands up to drag them down her face, Elisabeth pulls in a deep breath. “Yeah,” she says wearily. “I’ve learned that Eileen Ruskin in this world may be the key to us finding Gillian… which is going to be a necessity for trying to get home. And… that we are going to have to tread very very carefully with her.” Her blue eyes look around the room, a frown furrowing her brows together. “In our world… Eileen was, I think, the source of the information that ultimately thwarted the Vanguard’s actions with the virus. But… here, she obviously did not give that information. And I’m pretty sure I haven’t convinced her that we could get her out of here… nor am I convinced that she’d honestly even want to get out of here. Her relationship with Volken is one that I have almost no information about except that he was a father-figure, and the complexity of her relationships to people like Gabriel and Volken are going to heavily inform what this woman might do with any information we give her. But I do think if we could just find the right trigger, we might convince her to help us out of enlightened self-interest.”

"Umm…" Magnes gently rubs the back of his neck a little awkwardly, as if very carefully considering his next response. "When I kind of bonded with Kazimir while he was in Peter's body, or whatever that was, me and Eileen talked a lot about things involving what Kazimir would teach her, how he helped her perceive the world, and she'd use that to try to help me." He crosses his arms over his abdomen, as if bracing. "I generally came to respect Eileen's opinion, because Kazimir put me on the path to being a more capable person, even though now I understand a lot more that he isn't a person I should have put so much trust into."

"I um…" He looks over at her now, very seriously. "I know this sounds insane, but Eileen being who she is, it doesn't really scare me. To me, from my perspective, from what I know of her and what you're saying… she's um, she's probably not that different from what I know her to be. If anything, my coming to respect Kazimir probably made her a little more herself when she talked to me about those things."

Okay… he is clearly telling her something Elisabeth had no clue actually happened. “Wait, what?” Holding up a hand to make him not talk while she parses what he just said, she is clearly thinking hard. “As I said before. I’m not afraid of any of the people involved in this — well, maybe a little of SylarMir, if I’m right that he’s taken over Gabriel’s body. And I’m not sure that I’m right about that, but she did comment that she and Gabriel had tried to escape him once before — but in general, it’s not the people that scare me.”

Grimacing with a twist of her lips, Liz admits, “As you’ve pointed out, we’re going to have to trust one another in this. I’m… utterly terrified that this is gonna get fucked up. But it appears Edward is right… that you might have a hell of a lot more chance of making headway with her. So… go talk to her.” She shoves a hand into her short hair and just asks, “Don’t get us dead?”

"I can do that. I know how Eileen is, even if people think I don't. I might not know her as super deeply as other people might, but I know her when it comes to this topic, I think." Magnes does wrinkle his brow at something though. "I can't believe Edward worked that into his probability model, just because I said I thought Eileen was nice. His ability is kind of ridiculous…"

“I don’t know how much of that was his ability and how much might just be the fact that you said you knew her. He knows nothing at all about you, so he can only guess. But if he takes you at your word, it would make sense that you’d have better luck.” Elisabeth pauses. “Do something for me, though? If we do ever wind up finding Gillian? Do not ever let her augment Edward.” For the first time, she meets his eyes and he can see the Director of FRONTLINE. “Take him out of the equation permanently if that happens, Magnes.”

"But wait a minute, if he already has a ridiculous probability power, what would her augmenting him do? That ability already seems like it functions on some strange quantum level that goes beyond normal statistics." Magnes shakes his head, as if shaking the curiosity out. "But… okay. Gillian is actually one of my two best friends. Gillian and Sable. I don't know if you knew that. I know her very well, we used to talk on the internet before my life got weird. There's a chance she probably knows me."

"Anyway… yeah, I understand." He nods. "I need to kind of mentally prepare myself. There's a lot of women in the world, and I know I'm a bit, well, awful. But there are two women who I can say I have the largest weakness for. One is Abby, the other is Eileen." resting his hands over his knees, he starts to think. "Elisabeth, what are my tells when i'm into a girl? I need to hide those tells. Eileen is smart, she knows how to get me to do things, I just never really cared because she's Eileen. But I can't let my guard down here, this is too important, I need to hide my tells."

Elisabeth shakes her head and says quietly, “Honestly? I think it drove him mad in our world. I really do. Just like augmenting you to the level that you could feel planets and you’re having trouble coming back from it? I don’t know that Edward ever did come back from being augmented. I think for the time he was augmented, he really could see all probabilities… and then when it was gone, he couldn’t let go of it and admit that his ability to see was no longer infinite. I think some of what’s gone wrong is actually because he kept thinking he understood something that, for a tiny little moment he did understand, and then his perception was once again human and he couldn’t.” There’s a sadness to her words, and perhaps an explanation of why she’s so worried about Magnes himself.

The latter question, though, Elisabeth looks a bit surprised. “Uhm… honestly, Magnes, I don’t really know your tells. Not like that. I can tell you that… you have a tendency to want to show off, to be somehow better, more, always seeming to me like you feel the need to impress people. But Claire is the only one of the women you’ve dated that I’ve even remotely spoken to on that level, and she didn’t remember the relationship, so she had no details to even try to share.” She looks a bit apologetic. “And I’m not exactly the person people come to when they want to talk relationship stuff. Seriously. I don’t do relationships. Or… I didn’t.”

"Claire not remembering was… it was a lot, I wasn't ready to deal with something like that. I wanted to be, but it was overwhelming, I really broke down." Magnes can't help but wrap his arms a little tighter around his abdomen. "But okay, I'll try to keep in mind what I do with her. Eileen is… she's very observational, very smart, and she learned a lot from Kazimir. I think I kind of get her philosophies, or at least enough to try to connect with her here. She's probably more into the life she told me about now than before. But… I also met her when she was Munin, back when she was the most scary person I ever met."

"Seeing all possibilities, it makes me wonder. Augmentation really makes me wonder about the nature of abilities. It's as if abilities in of themselves are like a glitch in reality. But I understand, I really do…" He suddenly reaches out to begin playing a rather practiced rendition of Fantasie Impromptu. Classic. "The expansion of consciousness, it's like becoming something more… like losing your humanity and ascending to what it is to be a god. The feeling that you could hold entire worlds, and then crush and consume those worlds."

His playing begins to become a little more intense. "This feeling that everything is small, that everything you knew is so small that it starts to push to the very back of your consciousness. All that starts to matter are cosmic forces, the forces of nature itself, you become nature, you know what has to be. No doubts, no consideration for who you are or who you were. There is no morality, no ethics, no justice. Only the thought of, this is what I am, this is what I do. No… not a thought…" He pauses, then begins to play again. "A feeling, a primordial urge. So much of it is still with me, not the need to consume, but so much of the vastness. Everything still feels so small, so little about being human truly scares me right now, except the idea that I might lose what I still have left…"

There’s a long moment of quiet and Elisabeth says in a flat tone, “And that is exactly why I’m worried about you. Because that seems to me to be exactly the worst thing ever to happen to people.” She sighs heavily. “If it gets worse, I need to know.”

"While I'm negated, it's not as bad as it could be. When I'm not negated, I literally feel the Earth spinning under my feet, I can still feel the pull of the moon and the sun. But more than that, it's all the other things I feel too. Just, how strange and interconnected gravity is, these senses that my mind filtered for reasons I don't understand. I just… I've had this power over gravity for a long time, and I think this is the first time I've realized how much power that is…"

"Is Eileen negated? We might gain something from telling her certain things. There are ways to get her to at least listen."

“Yes, she’s negated.” With a hesitant tone, Liz says, “I hope you’ll forgive me the uncertainty, Magnes, but… trusting you to know what to tell her and what not to is hard. It’s the only option, though.”

"My guess right now is that she absolutely can't be trusted, especially when she's not negated. When she has a conviction for something, she doesn't believe in going halfway. She is absolutely convicted and will do anything for her ideology. She needs something of substance." Magnes explains, and then takes a deep breath. "She has to know at least about me, she doesn't need to know about us both. But if she doesn't have something of substance, if she doesn't believe that I'm actually giving her significant information, that I'm doing what I believe in, and that convincing her is absolutely in her best interests, then there's no way she's telling us anything, or helping us at all, ever. I know how to use this to convince her."

Elisabeth nods slightly. “All right. Well, she already knows that I’m from ‘not around here’ — that was as much as I told her. You’re… going to have to choose what she needs to know. She is likely the only chance we have of locating Gilly, so… do whatever you have to.” She meets his eyes. “We need to go home, Magnes.”

"It's going to be a risk, no matter how I approach this, it's definitely going to be a risk. But Eileen's always seen something in me, I don't know what to be honest, but she always has. I haven't even screwed things up with this Eileen yet, so maybe I can be a bit less disappointing and she'll think I'm someone worth investing in." Magnes takes his hands back away from the piano, looking thoughtful. "There's always been a lot about Eileen that I didn't understand. She always had this… vulnerability, but I never really knew what it was, she never showed it to me. I probably didn't really deserve it to be honest, if my history with women says anything. But Eileen, she's always valued strength, self-sufficiency, and the conviction to do anything that needs to be done without limits. This is what she looks for in our allies. And I'm telling you in case you ever need to know."

Elisabeth nods, seeming less than reassured that dealing with Eileen is the right thing. Then again? What options do they have? Shaking her head slightly, she turns back to the piano and simply starts to play some contemporary piano piece probably unfamiliar to the young man sitting with her, though it clearly holds some meaning to the blonde.


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