Got Your Back


elisabeth2_icon.gif jessica_icon.gif

Scene Title Got Your Back
Synopsis Elisabeth invites Niki out to breakfast, and ends up having an enlightening conversation with Jessica.
Date March 2, 2010

The Nite Owl

The Nite Owl is a survivor from ages past - one of those ancient diners with huge plate glass windows, checkerboard linoleum floor, and a neon owl over the entrance that blinks at those entering. Inside, there's an L-shaped main counter, complete with vintage soda fountain and worn steel stools. All of the cooking is done on the ranges ranked against the rear wall. The outer wall is lined with booths upholstered in cracked scarlet vinyl, tables trimmed with polished chrome. Despite its age, it's been lovingly maintained. The air is redolent with the scent of fresh coffee, vanilla, and frying food.

She'd planned to head to the library to talk to Richard, but Elisabeth's desires to do so were overcome by good sense. Fifty degrees below zero outside means that the library is, at best, buried under 15 feet of drifts out in Midtown and the only person who goes the library anymore right now is Richard himself; he can't feel the cold. It's positively Arctic outside — even flesh will freeze in these temperatures. Elisabeth got to the edge of the ruins and changed course, heading for an old standby. The Nite Owl still serves cops and National Guardsmen, and they've got a generator running there for the simple fact that they are actually something of a public service. The cops on the street need someplace to warm up, and so they all chip in to help keep the place open. Though the look of it has changed a little. Heavy-duty plastic is stapled over the massive plate-glass window and silvery thermal survival blankets over top of that in an effort to insulate the room a little better from the frigid temperatures outside.

She actually came in without even an obligatory tongue-lashing for not coming more often. Actually, Tom from back in the kitchen wanted to know what the hell she was doing out in this weather. Elisabeth simply smiled tiredly at the gentle nagging to take better care of herself and curled into the back booth near the kitchen's door — it's always warmer there. Her head aches, her body aches, and she needed… out. Something not horrible. And if her meager patronage will help the Nite Owl stay in business, well, she'll do her best.

She played with her phone for a long time, uncertain whether to send the text. But it went out. It's been a long time since she made this move. Niki, coffee? Nite Owl if you can make it in this weather. —Liz

Gina had complained once more that the attire she was being forced to wear, even as a mere reflection, was entirely unfashionable, hideous, atrocious, and possibly an affront to nature, but had to agree that not being frostbitten sounded infinitely more attractive. The bundled figure that enters the Nite Owl barely resembles the Sanders woman, but unwrapping a scarf from around a ski mask, and in turn pulling it off to make her look much less like someone a cop might like to shoot on sight (unless, of course, the cop actually recognises the woman for who she is) much more like herself. When she sits down across from Elisabeth, setting aside her accessories and tugging off her gloves, it isn't readily apparent who she's actually gotten to respond to her text message.

Even when she smiles. "Hello, Liz."

Anyone who comes in here is subject to scrutiny, but Elisabeth made sure when she sent the text that there was no one in the room who might be a problem in recognizing Niki/Jessica — Gina she leaves usually entirely out of the equation. "Hey," she greets with a small smile. The cup of coffee in front of her is hot, and the waitress brings another over to pour a cup for Niki as well. "I'll be back in a few to take your order." When her eyes turn back to Niki, Liz says softly, "I should probably have just gone by your place instead of dragging you out. I'm sorry."

Niki (or is it Jessica?) shrugs. "It does me some good to get out anyway. Home to work and work to home gets a little monotonous. If you can do it so can I." The blonde leans back in her seat and shakes out her hair, lifting her coffee and blowing steam from over the top of the liquid before taking a cautious sip. "So, something pressing? Or is this a social visit?"

There's a pause as Liz studies the other woman for the telltale signs of which of the two primaries she's speaking to. It's become a little harder to tell these days sometimes, and Liz thinks that's actually a good thing. "Social, I guess?" she answers. "I just needed… company. I hope you don't mind." The quirk of her smile is self-deprecating. "It's been a long time since we just… talked." They used to be friends. Sometimes. "It's all boring and stupid."

There's a visible relaxing of the blonde's shoulders and when she leans forward to set down her coffee and lean on her steepled hands, the smile is all Niki. Whether it was her all along or not is anyone's guess. "No, no. It's good that you called. … Texted." One shoulder comes up in a half shrug. "Your little operation, did it go as planned?" That's more a Jessica sort of question, wanting to know if killing several people was part of the plan. Perhaps the mystery of identity lingers.

"Hell no," Elisabeth says quietly. Her tone holds an undercurrent of 'pissed' when she says it. "We picked up a bunch of people, but fucking Dreyfus wasn't among them. I have an idea but no one is going to like it a bit. And frankly I'm to the point that I don't fucking care. This has got to end. Soon." Absently Liz reaches up to the back of her head and rubs it. It's almost time for another painkiller. It'll wait though. "He keeps picking places where civilians become targets. I'm done. He wants a confrontation, and he's damn well going to get one. No more fucking around about it."

"So what do you have in mind that's going to upset people?" One brow lifts in curiosity. "Not like you're going to do anything I wouldn't do, right?" That all depends on which personality is in control, doesn't it? "Why don't you just call the man up and ask if you two can just meet one on one and try to kill each other like civilised people? Of course, that doesn't mean you don't bring your favourite sniper to the fight."

Elisabeth smirks. "That's pretty much exactly what I'm planning on doing," she admits softly. Sometimes Liz and Jessica do in fact think alike… if that's Jess talking to her. "Richard's going to pitch a blue hissy, though. And I'd like to wait until I'm not concussed to actually pull it off." She shrugs slightly, sipping from her coffee cup. "I wish we'd had more people the other night. For all that we took a number of them into custody, the big guy and Dreyfus weren't among them, nor was Feng Daiyu. I don't know who else he has working with him from Russia. But I think I have an in to do it with. I just… " She pauses and admits, "I want this over."

The nod given is somewhat sympathetic, if there seems to be more fire than empathy in the other woman's eyes. "An in, huh? What'd you do? Make bedfellows with the enemy?" A prospect neither Niki nor Jessica are strangers to. "Or did you find a turncoat?"

"Neither," Elisabeth admits. The expression leads her to believe that it's Jessica she's speaking to. Niki tends to show more concern. "We captured one of their men and I had Richard watching someone who was a known contact of Dreyfus's. The captured guy was turned over to the contact, and I think I can send a message through one or both that I want a face-to-face." She smiles faintly. "And these days, while not entirely monogamous, I appear to be less than willing to sleep my way around."

Jessica smirks. "To each their own," she muses. "Sounds like a solid plan. Are you going to cheat, or play fair? Sounds like this guy hasn't been willing to put up a clean fight so far, so I'm assuming you're going to do the smart thing and match his strategy?" As in, don't be stupid, Liz. Bring backup.

"I haven't gotten so far as to have an honest-to-God plan, Jess," Elisabeth says quietly. "But yes, I'll be taking backup in. It just may not be the obvious." She pauses, sipping from her coffee. "It's strange. I've actually only ever run one operation with Cardinal at my back, but in all honesty, now's about the time I wish he could run this one. Having someone who can come in and just stick a knife in that fucker's throat would be intensely satisfying."

"Bravo," Jessica quips, grinning widely. "You're getting good at this." Telling her from Niki, she means. "I can put a bullet between the fucker's eyes, if you prefer. Just get him somewhere open enough. I'm sure our shadowy friend could distract him long enough for that."

There's a pause and a nod. Elisabeth smiles slightly. "Sounds like the beginning of a plan, anyway." The blonde heaves a sigh, glancing up as the waitress comes back to fill the coffee and take their orders. "Two eggs, scrambled, white toast, sausage, hashbrowns," she tells the woman with a smile. And then she waits for Jessica to give her own order if she wants anything before she slides the silence field that was keeping their conversation from being heard by anyone else back into place. It isn't evident to anyone because she's getting better at letting all the surrounding noise in. "How're you doing anyway? Give me something to do other than stress over fucking Russians and worry about Richard?" she asks with a grin.

"Waffles," Jessica says plainly. Just waffles. She's quick to turn her attention back to Liz once the waitress has gone. She shakes her head slowly. "Not much to report. Niki's working again." There's an implication there that she doesn't approve of it. Not of the work itself, but that she's bothering to hold a job at all. The assassin business is so much more profitable. "A place called the Red Room. I'm sure the NYPD get called about altercations there often enough that if you haven't heard of it yet, you'll hear it about the place soon enough." The comment is wry, but still somewhat sarcastic. "I met with Cardinal. I'm sure he's told you. I have to say, I'm impressed at just how subversive his plan is. I approve."

"Probably not," Liz admits. "FRONTLINE doesn't deal with those calls unless Evo hell is breaking loose. So don't go throwing people through walls or anything, and you won't need to see me at all there." She smiles faintly. "Yeah…. he's a fucking genius. Or at least, he's got a damn good eye for the long haul. Now if he survives long enough to manage to make it work, we'll be doing all right." Her tone is … not bitter. More like… anguish hidden behind anger.

"I'm amazed he's made it this long. Must be hell to be without a body," Jessica reasons. "Not something many of us are capable of, that's for sure. He's lucky to be where he is now." Still existing, essentially. "Something on your mind?"

Elisabeth smiles faintly, toying with her coffee cup idly. "Plenty," she admits quietly. "And most of it I doubt you'd really want to hear me whine about, Jessica." Picking up her cup to sip from it, she studies the woman. "You and Niki seem to be getting along well lately. How's she handling the whole Micah being part of Rebel thing?"

"Not well," Jessica answers honestly. "I wish she'd managed to stay out of the entire conversation. It was hard enough on her losing him once, but to find out that he's alive in some sense, but not himself?" Her head shakes and she frowns. "If you're looking for someone to share a drink with, don't call Niki." There's an undercurrant to the order that's distinctly warning.

Tilting her head, Elisabeth comments, "You note that I asked for coffee, Jess." She wasn't sure what state Niki was in, honestly. Coffee seemed a good choice. "I wanted to check on her and see how she was holding up."

Jessica holds her hands up in surrender. "It could have been the hour, too. I'm covering my bases." The reflection in Jessica's coffee is scowling at her. Whether it's Niki irritated by Jessica's need to meddle in her life, or Gina's indignance about the insistance that she not be allowed to party is up in the air. "I'm not saying I think you're about to let her do something stupid…" Just saying.

"I'll tell you the same thing I've always told you — your role in Niki's life is one I understand. If she wants to get out and get shit-faced, I'm not going to tell her no. She's an adult perfectly capable of deciding what she's going to do, Jess. But I look out for my friends." Elisabeth's tone is calm. Breakfast is delivered in front of the two of them and she falls silent until the waitress departs once more. "If she opts to join me to get shit-faced when the time comes, it's her call. Because I'm definitely going to be doing it. And probably pretty damn soon."

"Understand this. If you do anything to hurt Niki, if you let her do anything to hurt herself…" The threat hangs heavy in the air, Jessica's posture changing to a predatory one as she shifts forward in her seat and narrows her eyes. "Niki may be her own person," debatably, "but she's not in her right mind. Don't enable her. You should know better."

Elisabeth fffts softly. "She's my friend, Jessica. I won't let her do anything that will hurt herself, nor would I ever do anything to hurt her. You've known me for more than a year. I've handheld both of you through any number of problems when you needed me, up to and including, from what Niki told me when you got back from that future timeline, being integrated. Quit being bitchy and eat your breakfast," she replies mildly. "If she opts to join me when Richard disintegrates, I'll be grateful for the shoulder to cry on. If she's not in any place to be there, hey… it's all good. I'm pretty damn used to being on my own these days, lady." She picks up her fork to take a bite of her eggs.

Point made, perhaps by both women, Jessica simply tilts her chin upward, regarding Elisabeth through half-lidded eyes for a long moment as if assessing whether or not she can be trusted with Niki's well being. The ultimate decision must be yes, if the way she turns and begins to eat her waffles is any indication. "I don't want to fight with you about this," she says. "It's Niki I don't trust, not you."

There's a snort of laughter. "Well, now… I'm going to take that as a compliment, Jess," Elisabeth replies as they eat. There was a point where Jessica would have never made that statement. Testament to perhaps how far they've all come in the last year. Her opinion that Jessica underestimates Niki, though, still holds. The primary personality is stronger than Jessica — and even Niki herself — believes. "In the meantime… let me bounce some of the logistics of this half-formed idea off Richard. I don't know if Dreyfus wants a full-on confrontation with me. Indicators have been that I'm his primary target, but he's made moves on everyone on the Russia team. Frankly, I don't know what to think. I think if he were going for straight revenge, he'd have made a point of not missing when he went for Abby's parents and Teo's mother. BOth of those attacks were before we knew anything was up, and they failed. It seems… too coincidental. Plus, he never made a move on my father." Thank God.

Jessica can perhaps put herself more readily into Carlisle Dreyfus' shoes than Elisabeth can. She offers a tilt of her head as she considers what she knows of the situation. "If they aren't the primary targets, then making sure they suffer is only a secondary objective. Failure is an option, and still sends a clear message." Around a mouthful of waffle, she adds, "Just speculating."

Perhaps of all the people she could potentially talk to about this, Jessica may in fact be the person she needs after all. Elisabeth pauses in her eating to consider. "So…. we've made two runs at Dreyfus's strongholds and then we lured him out with the news of my arrest. All three of those hits — the latter one HIS instigated on US as opposed to the reverse — all failed. If we've taken out a huge chunk of his personnel as of two nights ago, if you were in his shoes… what would you do next?"

"That depends. Anyone who's employed me would be sticking their tail between their legs and running for the hills. But if he's not afraid to get his hands dirty, then he may have the stones to see this through, for good or for ill." Jessica takes the time to chew another bite of waffles and swallow, considering how she would handle it. "If I had been the one wronged, and was out for revenge," something she can certainly identify with, "and I'm pissed off enough to want it done right? I might fall back and wait for another opportunity. But if I'm nearing the twilight of my life? I'll probably go out guns blazing, and life or death be damned."

"He's not afraid to get his hands dirty," Elisabeth asserts. "He firebombed a tenement building the other night just to divert us from bringing the whole team in." She frowns slightly. "So you think at this point, it's just about making as much noise and mess as possible before he actually attempts a move on me or us personally?" She thinks about that while she eats. "If that's the case, then inviting him into a one-on-one confrontation is unlikely to get me anywhere, it seems."

"I can't say," the woman admits. "If it were me, I'd have lured you out and shot you by now." It's so matter-of-fact, the way Jessica admits to how she'd kill someone. Maybe it's a refreshing honesty? "If he's just trying a scorched earth tactic, then no, he's not going to face you."

Elisabeth sighs, turning over the possibilities in her head. "I don't know what his intention actually is," she admits. "I haven't been able to get into his head. Frankly, it may be that what Richard's doing now may hold the key. Keeping his eyes on Skoll." She purses her lips, seeming unconcerned that Jessica would merely take the shot. "I've been waiting for someone to just pop me in the head since Humanis First had me," she adds drily. "The fact that he hasn't merely taken the shot is what gets me."

"Either he's a coward, lacking in resources, or inept." Jessica frowns, apparently unhappy with the fact that she can't understand Dreyfus' motives as well. But the fact that she's sorely lacking in personally gathered data takes some of the edge off that. "I don't know what to tell you for sure. He's lost a son, I've lost a son. We're taking very different routes in how we're making the parties responsible pay for that." In a way, Jessica can sympathise with Dreyfus, but if Elisabeth killed the man's son, she's willing to bet it was a kill or be killed situation. Nothing remotely resembling Micah's fate.

There's a snicker of laughter around a bite of potatoes. Elisabeth can't help it. "I think there's perhaps more to it than that. But we shall see." She needs to touch base with the shadow who is — to pardon the pun — shadowing Logan. That means sending a text and making contact with him, though. And part of the reason she hoped to see Niki instead of Jessica was for the friendship factor. She has few enough female friends to talk to. She rarely allows herself to realize that she's lonely sometimes. It makes for wallowing, and that she refuses to allow herself. "You're definitely on different paths of vengeance," she acknowledges.

"Maybe if you had a multimillion dollar company to take over, Dreyfus would be more on track." While deadpan, it's definitely a quip. Jessica raises her brows and cracks a lopsided grin. "I'm sure you'll figure out what you need to know to make sure you get him, rather than vice versa." Her eyes drop to her meal, a silence passes - companionable in her mind. "And if not, I'll hunt the fucker down." Because a good friend will avenge your death.

The best friends help you bury the bodies, too. Which Jessica's already offered. Elisabeth smiles faintly. Somewhere along the way — God help her — Jess has become… not as scary? That's scary enough in and of itself; the woman's a complete sociopath. What the hell has life come to that Liz can actually see her as a friend? "Good to know," Liz replies with a grin. "I'd hate to get dead and have no one remember to take out the fucker who did it. If you get a bead on Danko, you should put a bullet in his head too. I'll look the other way readily."

Jessica sneers at the mention of Danko. "Gladly." You know, unless he had something to offer her to further her agenda. Then he's an ally she's willing to take on. "So, since we're such good friends," she drawls slowly, "I may need your help with a messy little matter in the near future. How much pull do you have within your organisation, and the NYPD?" She knows where Liz came from, her ties may still run deep there.

Smirking that Jessica's take on their relationship takes that turn, Liz asks merely, "What kind of favor do you want?" She leaves the query of her pull alone for now.

"You appreciate that if you're going to make an omelette, eggs have to be broken, right?" Jessica fixes Liz with a serious look, brows hiking to her hairline. "The shells of my eggs are in a neat little grave in Vegas. I don't know how up you've been on national news, but the LVPD has apparently uncovered a mass grave. It isn't mine, but if I understand it, it's not that far from the location I used." Before her breakfast companion can wonder about who might be in that grave, Jessica elaborates, "They were Linderman's men, and criminals that used to work with D.L. that were going to hurt Niki. I only did what I had to do to keep her safe." Surely Elisabeth can appreciate that.

"Well, shiiiiiiit," Elisabeth drawls on a sigh. "Okay… so what would you like me to do? Whatever pull I have in the NYPD certainly won't extend to the Las Vegas police."

Jessica shrugs. "I don't know what you can do, but if there's some way you can intervene, should the other shoe drop, well… Let's just say I'd be extremely grateful." She keeps her gaze level on Elisabeth, attempting to read her reactions. "It's not that I can't go to ground, it's that I would appreciate it if I don't have to. I imagine if the LVPD wants to find me badly enough, they'll get the NYPD on it. And if they figure out who they're looking for, then they'll either send a scout, or call FRONTLINE. I understand if you can't derail things entirely. A simple head start will suffice."

"That I can definitely do," Elisabeth replies immediately. "If they go through FRONTLINE, I may be able to derail the investigation entirely. Unless you left clues out there, however, I doubt they're going to be able to trace a mass grave to you personally. Linderman, maybe. But I have a feeling if they ID these guys that far, Linderman himself will derail the investigation. I'll keep my ears to the ground, though. Ivanov will let me know if flags pop."

"I don't suspect they'll get enough off the grave site to nail me, but with all the abilities around these days, I'm covering my ass as much as possible." It's not fun to admit shortcomings, but it is what it is and Jessica hasn't survived this long without knowing when to ask for assistance. After a quiet moment, she's glancing up from her meal without lifting her head. "Liz… Thanks."

"Good point," Elisabeth concedes. "NYPD had a postcog on staff who could see what happened at crime scenes. It's how we knew Dreyfus killed Jennifer Chesterfield." She purses her lips and then smiles slightly. "You're welcome." Whether she agrees with what Jess did… hell, who is she to cast stones these days?

"I'm not one to justify myself to anyone, but I know it puts you in a tight position. I didn't do anything to anyone who wouldn't have done the same to Niki, given the chance." Well, that holds true for the people in that grave, at least. But that's those are the only murders in question at the moment. Jessica isn't about to offer explanation for anything else.

Elisabeth shrugs. "No. It doesn't put me in any tighter a position than I'm already in. You think Kershner doesn't already know exactly what I'm doing in my off hours?" She snorts. "From what I can gather, the woman even knows where we're holing up, and she's already told Richard that she'd be on board with a lot of his plan. So… depending on what she wants out of the situation, I don't think derailing it will be a problem."

Jessica has a good poker face, but she doesn't bother to hide her surprise that that little tidbit. "Well, that's fortunate, isn't it?" And what's she doing to end up owing to Kershner for that, she wonders. Pushing away her now-empty plate, she sits back in the booth. "It's… nice to have someone I can count on, that isn't expecting a cut." Working as part of a team is something Jessica isn't entirely used to. At least, not a team that isn't going to stab her in the back as soon as the job's done. Which is how she's gotten into this whole mass grave mess in the first place.

"No. It's so far beyond unfortunate that I'm not even sure it's still on the spectrum," Elisabeth retorts. "She's going to want something for it. And what she wants is highly likely to be extremely distasteful if we have to go that route. She's a shark." She pauses and smiles a little. "I've got your back, Jess." At least on this front.

The woman nods and reaches into the pocket of her coat to procure her wallet. "Well, if it gets too inconvenient, you have my number." The offer to neutralise Sarisa doesn't need to be fully vocalised. Fishing out a twenty, she drops it on the table. "I need to get going. We have to work today." She drains the last of her coffee and scoots across the seat to stand.

"Sure," Elisabeth says mildly. "I'll see you later, Jess. Thanks for the company." She herself is going to head home for a long, hot bath. She's sore all over from the last battle — falling off a catwalk will put a crimp in anyone's body for a while.

"Yeah," Jessica says, tipping her head back in a sort of inverse of a nod. Perhaps unexpectedly is what follows, "You too." She doesn't give the other woman time to respond, though. She's bundling back up and headed for the door.

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