How Bad Does It Get


elisabeth_icon.gif jaiden_icon.gif jj_icon.gif lene_icon.gifmonica_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title How Bad Does It Get
Synopsis … is an obvious question when faced with the knowledge that children from the future have come back in time in order to change it.
Date April 15, 2011

Skinny Brickfront

Pulling his truck up to the curb a few buildings down and across the street from the worn and weary looking redbrick building Lene points out, JJ squints at it, fingers tapping out a nervous tattoo on the gearshift until Lene's hand comes down on his.

"I knew I shouldn't have let you have a Red Bull first," she quips, letting go a moment later. Like she should talk. "C'mon. It's better not to dawdle." After all, she's so experienced at telling people she's from the future — she's done it a whole once already.


And she cried.

Out the door she goes before he can beg for more time, and by the time he's cut the ignition and hopped out of the driver's side, she's already taken long-legged strides toward the house. In her hands are two bags of groceries.

As they approach the front door, she tips her head, nodding to it so that JJ can rap lightly, and then she calls softly, "It's meeee," before glancing at JJ. "Er, us?"

Lene chews her lower lip. "I should have called first, maybe…"

The young man's eyes lift to the sky, chuckling softly. "Great. Hopefully Harrison won't shoot me thinking I'm here to arrest her or something." Just to be sure, he keeps his hands folded and in front of him — no weapon, no danger, right? It's not like he can scream someone into unconsciousness, after all.

Elisabeth's the one on watch, as it happens. She's got a lot on her mind. Up to and including the fact that the library is not simply trashed. Something Bad <tm> clearly went down there. The possibilities are endless, but the cracks in the marble itself are not effects that Cardinal could have done. She's not sure even a bomb would have done that. The blonde has spent the afternoon with a furrowed brow going through the possibilities, pacing up and down the corridor with Jaiden for company. They don't see the truck that pulls up down the street — they were on the other side of the building when it happened. But the knocking? Well, it's not like DHS will knock, after all.

Walking down the stairs with the Australian who has been her shadow for the past several hours, Elisabeth's frown grows more pronounced. Lene's not alone. The male voice with her is familiar, its cadence and timbre easily recognizable to a woman for whom sound is the medium of interaction with the world. By the time she flings the door open, there is a mean-looking pistol in her hands but it's not pointed at the visitors. Blue eyes are very wary. "Really." Elisabeth's tone is calm but there's an edge to it, a gentle vibration that JJ's familiar enough with from days at the base when Elisabeth is on edge. "So if you're not here to arrest my ass," those eyes flicker from the man to the woman who brought him here, "what precisely is your business here?" She does step back to allow them entry, if only because standing in the doorway of a supposedly derelict building is sure to cause comment from someone eventually.

Recovering from her own exertions of the morning, Ygraine is lounging in 'her' room upstairs - not the one she and Liz use for sleeping, but the first that she moved into. She has earphones in, her mp3 player plugged into one of her hand-powered portable chargers. On her updrawn knees, she supports her sketch pad - with all around her the fruits of the past week's efforts. Self-provided therapy is once again underway, it seems.

Jaiden follows behind Lizzie, acting very protective, as he should, since this lady is part of her family, the last thing he wants to see is goons dragging her off into the distance with shots fired into the building. His pistol was taken up from it's spot near the door, the chamber checked to make sure that the bullet had not mysteriously vanished, and is held loosely in his right hand, pointing to the floor but ready to swing up in a moment's notice if necessary. He doesn't speak, instead allowing Elisabeth to do the talking. His job is to be backup right now.

Monica's been working. Upstairs, but not out of ear shot, which is why she, too, is quick to come into the scene when she hears new voices. Stranger danger! She doesn't have her guns out, but they are on her. But, of course, she is another one who doesn't actually need them to be dangerous. A common trait around here.

She steps are nearly silent as she makes her way down, only an errant squeaky board gives her away. That and the annoyed, whispered 'darnit' that follows. How's anybody supposed to be a ninja around here?

"Thanks," JJ says quietly, politely as he steps in, glancing over his shoulder to make sure no one's watching, then nodding to Liz. "I'm not here on 'business,' Liz, trust me. We're…" He glances at Jaiden, eyes dropping to the gun and back up, his green eyes meeting another set of green. "Aqua man," is offered amiably, before he hears the squeak and his posture stiffens, Monica not quite in sight.

Lene lifts the grocery bags. "Supplies!" is offered brightly, though she looks a little worried, glancing from one face to the next. "JJ is a friend of mine."

Elisabeth's gaze on the young man who steps in is intent. And then she purses her lips and nods slowly, slipping her pistol back into the innerpants holster at her belly button. "All right," she replies cautiously. She did, after all, feel him out on his thoughts and views some time ago. That Lene might bring him here did not occur to her, but … "Come in. C'mon upstairs." She turns on a heel to take the troops toward the second level, where they're doing most of their living, and calls ahead of her in a soft voice that carries to Monica just fine, "It's okay. We're coming up." She trusts that if someone tries anything at her back, Jaiden'll take care of it right fast, clearly. "Am I going to have to explain to everyone again that we are on the fucking lam here?" she murmurs crossly. First Harmony traipses in and out whenever she feels like it, now Lene's bringing friends. Who happen to be fucking FRONTLINE. Jesus Christ. The blonde's blood pressure spikes a bit and there is sympathy for Cardinal in the back of her head, cuz… you know… herding cats.

In a somewhat abandoned safehouse - at least when viewed from the outside - supplies are always a good thing. Canned, fresh, or even pickled, something other than the fare that they've been subsisting on - pizza and ramen, mostly - is a welcome addition to their diet. Elisabeth inviting them up must be something that relaxes Jaiden, because with a wary nod he steps back to allow the two people - both unknown, into the building, pushing the door closed behind them and following them up the stairs. The gun is tucked into it's holster and brought along upstairs, one arm helping with the groceries if Lene will allow, the other with the pistol. "Sorry for the rough welcome. I'm normally not so on edge, but with the current situation, can you really blame me? Can you blame any of us?"

Monica doesn't exactly lower her guard at Liz's words, but she does seem to go at ease, taking the steps back upward. "Watch that step, third from the top. Needs to be fixed." Obviously.

But she does sound a bit off because someone down there just said JJ. Might be a common nickname, but it has a wee bit of significance to her these days. And it's a good thing she's in front of everybody else, because Jaiden being there is bringing out a blush. And then she's embarrassed about the blush, so there's even more of a blush. It's a vicious cycle.

Giving up one armful of groceries to Jaiden, Lene shakes her head. "No… you should be careful. No one blames you," she assures him, and she pushes a lock of burgundy hair behind an ear. "I'm sorry to startle you all. We both are."

When JJ comes to the steps he stares up Monica's back as she moves up the stairs, his brows twitching for a moment as he reaches for Lene's other bag to carry. "I'm sorry," he tells Liz. "We were careful. We made sure no one followed us." Finally up in the kitchen, he moves to put the groceries on the table. Glancing down at Lene, he raises his brows at her.

She makes a motion with her hand for him to speak.

"So. There's no real easy way to say this," JJ begins, eyes seeking Monica's, and like her, his own cheeks flush, the lighter skin rosier than hers. "Did any of you ever… time travel? Try to change things in the past, or to keep them from getting changed?"

Elisabeth moves toward the counter herself and starts to unload the bag with JJ. She knows where they're keeping things and is interested in what they've brought. It'd be nice to cook something not pizza and ramen. But even as she reaches into the bag, that question gets asked and the blonde sighs heavily. "Aw, fuck," she mutters. "Again??" she demands, her blue eyes pivoting to JJ and Lene. "If some crazy little Asian man has approached you guys, seriously tell him fucking no. Meddling about in things is fucking us right up the ass here."

From behind, with the bag of groceries, Jaiden groans, and one can imagine him doing facepalm motion if he wasn't carrying groceries and a gun in both hands. Still, it'll have to wait until he's deposited his load and put the gun in it's safe spot near the door, within easy reach in case fire teams come crashing in through the windows.

Jaiden's been sleeping, but not well. Paranoia does that to a person.

"In answer to your question….um…you…" He gestures to JJ. Introductions will have to happen at some point soon. "I have gone back twice…once to save this lovely blonde from a man in a hockey arena that could control liquids, and once to save a soldier in Vietnam. Both times, someone was sent to remove them from the timeline and I was sent back to prevent that. Since Lizzie's standing right here, hale and hearty, looks like I succeeded." Jaiden goes to start putting the groceries away, making an approving sound at some of the choices before sliding them into the makeshift larder they have in a kitchen cabinet with plywood for a door. He keeps listening, though, and paying attention to Liz's vibration more than anything….

"Aww, don't say that, Liz. What about Jaiden!" Their joint mission back in time, after all, had good results, since the man is still standing there. She looks from Liz to JJ, though, a hand moving to her hip, "It's quite the ice breaker, time travel. But I've gone, too. Once for his sake," she says with a gesture to Jaiden, which comes with a soft, sheepish smile in the man's direction before she looks back to the FRONTLINEr, "and once to fight some evil time travelers at a carnival. But I do agree on Hiro. Love him to death, but he tends to be a little absent minded." And does things like dropping a wounded Monica at a hospital and getting her arrested. Silly Hiro.

"JJ," Lene repeats for JJ to Jaiden, whose face falls a little flat, green eyes sliding away.

"It wasn't Hiro," he manages, turning to look at Monica. "And as for saying no to going back — well, it's a little late for that. We're already here."

He glances at Jaiden. "Hopefully we'll be as successful."

Lene fidgets, and when it looks like that's all JJ is going to say, the heavy pause following is too much for her. "His name isn't Jameson Jones. He's JJ because he's also Jaiden." She glances at Monica and then Jaiden, waiting for the understanding to dawn.

The we're already here part is … enough to spike Elisabeth's anxiety slightly. The subtle vibration becoming softly audible around her again. But for a woman who has already lived a jump backward to a time when Jaiden himself was very young and the knowledge that a future version of Richard himself is on the loose wreaking havoc in the present, it's not a huge leap in logic. Her blue eyes go wide on JJ, the little niggle of you really want to trust him suddenly making a little bit of sense. She sucks in a short breath, putting it together with the information that Jaiden's already told her of a dream of a concentration camp, and when she meets the officer's eyes, there is a gentling. "You're very like your father," she says quietly. "Steadying. Calm." JJ's presence on a operation and even in the base has often had that effect, just because he's a quiet man. She slants a glance between Jaiden and Monica, stepping back out of the way to give them room to respond and react without extra people in the mix, her sharp blue eyes now pinning Lene. "And to whom do you belong in this?" she asks. "I assume you are doing exactly what we all consistently say is a Bad Idea and continue to keep doing anyway — meddling in the past to try to fix your present?"

With things having moved upstairs, the sensations of motion and the comparatively nearby voices have evidently broken through to the building's only certified paranoiac. As a result, Ygraine pads into quietly into view, the soft soles of her boots making her motions more quiet than might be expected - a loose sweater sagging off one shoulder, worn over a high-necked top. Clad entirely in the darkest of tones, as is now customary, she would nearly blend into the background but for the pallor of her skin and the brilliant blue that illuminates the lowest portion of her hip-length braid. Frowning deeply at some of what she thinks she just heard, she rapidly surveys those in the room… a smile breaking out as her gaze settles onto JJ.

"Is something up?", the Briton asks quietly, remaining in the door. "This looks like quite a meeting."

He's Jaiden.

Jaiden's hand pauses in it's methodical dipping into the paper sack of provisions, withdrawing slowly to rest on the scraped and scarred, but clean counter. There's a soft exhale of breath, the green-eyed man turning to look the other green-eyed man over, leaning against the counter. "I…." he pauses, at a loss of words for now, gripping the edge of the counter. "I remember dreaming about your birth. Jaiden Micah Dawson-Mortlock."

The world has kind of shrunk to a pinpoint, only containing the people in this room. Ygraine's entry, after the fact, is really kind of unnoticed. "You've….both?" He glances to Lene, arching his brows slightly before going back to studying JJ…the resemblance is there, for certain. He can see Monica there, in the shape of his chin, in the arch of his brow. He can see himself in his eyes. In his mouth. It's almost too fantastic to believe, but he's been there…he's done it.. There's a clearing of his throat, a re-working of what he's going to say. You've both come from the future then? To help us?"

Monica doesn't need the reminder. JJ might be coincidence, but Jaiden is too much to dismiss. She glances over at Jaiden, too, but her gaze isn't gone long from this guy in front of her who is supposed to be her kid and is quite possibly… older than her just now. Time travel is weird.

"Wow." So she's not very articulate at the moment, but it's something of a surprise. "I don't… know what to say," she admits, a little flustered, but there's a smile there all the same. "Look at you. You made it… out of there." The camp, that is. "I call that a win." And that comment gets an out and out grin.

"What do we do now? Is this where we hug?" She looks over to Jaiden again, his last words getting her attention, "Or maybe… we help them." Family's family after all. And anyone who knows Monica knows that's the top priority.

The usual easygoing nature JJ's become known for is pushed, and there's a stiff and uncertain tension in every movement made: a quick smile at Liz's compliments, a darted glance at Ygraine's entrance, a quick squeeze of Lene's hand. A nod to his father and broader grin for his mother.

"I call it a win, too," he says softly. "You did good. You both did." He doesn't seem certain as if he should hug or not, but steps forward (with a little push from Lene) to offer a hand to each of them.

Another set of eyes watches Ygraine for a moment, where she's stumbled onto a very unconventional family reunion, and Lene bites her lip. "That's a complicated question," she manages. "But I … Ygraine took care of me for some time." She takes a step forward, breath catching. Maybe it will be easier a second time. By the third time, she'll be a pro.

Elisabeth tilts her head, nodding slowly. "She had mentioned…. " The blonde trails off and says quietly, "I think the lot of you have…. quite a bit to talk about. I feel like I ought to excuse myself for this, but…. I kind of have a metric ton of questions." She waffles there, a worried frown pulling her brows together. "Knowing the future…. if you've come back to change things…. you've got to know the dangers in doing that. God…." She shoves a hand into her hair, shoving the nearly waist length mass of blonde back off her face. She worries. It's what she does.

For a moment, Ygraine simply cocks her head, listening to Elisabeth while delivering a quizzical look to Jolene. Then she inhales through her nose, slowly and carefully, before letting out a soft sigh. "I've only had one… scene", she says cautiously, firmly focused upon the young woman. "And I don't want to leap to conclusions. Especially given… how far in the future it appeared to be. But do you play chess by any chance?" Though she's attempting to keep her voice level, the last few words carry with them a clearly audible yearning that probably has nothing to do with the game itself.

"No….stay…" Jaiden's voice is soft, the man stepping forward to peer at JJ a bit closer. "If I were less tired, I'd say you were pulling my leg….if I was still in the dome, I'd say the air was getting to me. But the dreams….it's really you….!"

Jaiden reaches out one hand to Monica, the right one reaching out for JJ, to shake, to rest on his shoulder, to do something that would allow him to physically feel this man standing before him. He's dealt with dreams far, far too many times, thanks to Delia, and physical contact is reassuring to the man even though he knows it can be faked or dreamt into being. "I don't know how much you can tell us…" Jaiden rests his hand on JJ's shoulder, giving it a light squeeze. "But you're here." The man is almost glowing. How often does someone get to meet his son from far, far in the future? "how far ahead did you come from? What happened….there are so many bloody questions….."

Monica takes JJ's hand and Jaiden's, her smile widening some as she gives them both a squeeze. "And non-bloody ones, too," she teases. "We could probably keep you here forever with questions about the future. But I'm just glad to see you're okay. And hear that we did okay. Are you happy? Are you… married? Am I a grandma? I'm too young to be a grandma. Just keep it in mind." There's a crooked smile there. She's happy. Because honestly, what's standing there with him is not what she expected coming out of oppression and poverty.

Let the others focus on the giant, looming issues ahead, she's taking the moment to try to learn about him. The rest can come later. "Are you… I mean… you have an ability, don't you?"

"There are a lot of questions, I know… and yeah, we're probably doing exactly that," Jolene says, brow crinkling as Liz makes it sound like it could be potentially a mistake. "But I think… I think it can't possibly get any worse, and it was worth the risk. To me, anyway."

She takes a shaky breath, taking another step toward Ygraine, though still addressing the questions of the room at large. "I don't think we want to answer anything too specific, not yet… just to be open-minded, just to know those dreams are the future, and to trust us, that we're here because we want to help." She gives a chagrined glance at Monica. "And maybe need it, too. If we're going to make a difference."

Finally, green eyes move back to Ygraine's. "My mother taught me, before I came to you. I'm pretty good, but not as good as she was, not as good as you are. I move based on hunch rather than strategy too much." There's a shock. "Not much of a guitarist either. Sorry… maybe if I got to you guys earlier." There's a slight bashful smile.

JJ's hands grip both of his parents, and green eyes dampen with tears as he looks from one to the other. "God you look so young," he says with a laugh. "No, no wife, no kids, I'm only 25, we're from 2040, and yeah, I've got psychometry."

The nervousness shows in his quickpaced, mile a minute answer, fueled by Red Bull guzzled in the truck. "But like Lene said… we just… want you to know we're here, that we're here for a good reason. You've seen some of what it's like… probably not the worst."

There's a moment of alarm, and then resignation settles over Elisabeth's face. She shakes her head, her blue eyes closing for a long moment. With a heavy sigh, she opens her eyes and looks at both of them. There is some amount of joy for Jaiden and Monica. Their son is amazing… and he is someone Elisabeth has watched for months. He's a good man. "I suppose that we couldn't… really have expected any different from you, could we?" Considering what line of work all of us are in. But her chin comes up and there's a hint of pain in the furrow of her brows when she glances between Lene and Joshua when the information that they're here from 2040 comes out. "Are you here to help the future version of Richard, or to stop him?" she asks them softly. Because we're here to help is suitably vague enough that she's not entirely sure, though in the past JJ has indicated that the Institute is a Bad Thing <tm>.

Ygraine darts a glance to Elisabeth, then snorts softly to Lene, though her lips immediately curl into a bashful smile and she tentatively holds out a hand to the younger woman - doing her best to keep it steady. "Dad played for Cambridge, and he taught me as a child…. By his standards, I'm hopeless", she murmurs. "But I'm sure you know that already. I… would it be appropriate to give you a hug? I… you have no idea how glad I am to see you. To find that you're real. That you're alive." It seems that she, at least, harbours few significant doubts about which side(s) these two might be on.

A little mental math and a year comes into view…a timeline, as it were. 2015 is when Jaiden is in the camps - nine months before he 'encounters' Monica and produces JJ, staying with her through the entire pregnancy in bondage, being the best father that he could. "Younger, probably in a lot better shape too." Jaiden's voice is soft, choked with tears that he's trying to keep from coming and failing miserably. One arm goes around Monica's shoulders holding her close, a scene that JJ had probably seen many times in the future. It's what Jaiden does for comfort - both his and others.

"If he's my son, he's here to help. I'd like to think any values I can instill in a person would keep him from wanting to come back and destroy the bright future." Even at the cost of themselves…

"Well, yeah! You jumped right into all've us in our primes," Monica says with a laugh. "Psychometry. Sweet," she adds, her tone appreciative. If she worries about him seeing things through the touch of their hands, it doesn't show. But knowing her? She just plan isn't worried.

At that soft tone from Jaiden, though, Monica brings her hand to his cheek, just a little bit of her own comfort there, too. "You're darn right he's here to help. He knows I'd kick his butt if he was up to no good," she says in a tone that's part sass and part affection. That's likely familiar, too. The dangers of time travel that Liz worries over, weeeell, Monica might start to worry about them later, but right now, she's not thinking on that wavelength.

"A hug is appropriate," Lene says in a small voice, moving to hug Ygraine, a little cautiously given the woman's injuries, a little uncertainly given the gap in their histories. There is a familiarity there to the little girl in the dream, even if limbs have lengthened and roundness sharpened. The younger woman takes a shuddery breath, bowing her head against Ygraine's before shaking it fiercely.

"It isn't a bright future we're trying to undo. It's not a happy one, though it has its moments." Like JJ, surviving in a prison camp against all odds. "And we're not trying to help him."

The young man smiles at his parents, tears in his eyes, chuckling at Monica. "This is true. Mama didn't raise no fools," he says playfully, then tugs both of their hands for a moment before letting go.

"Let's eat. I'll cook for you this time. I'd say Lene and me would, Ygraine, but you don't wanna eat anything she makes," he says, reaching over to tug Ygraine's braid playfully, then ruffling Lene's fake red hair.

Elisabeth listens to the explanation and something in her gut loosens when Lene pronounces for certain that she wasn't at Redbird to spy for Zeke. The tone of voice alone when she refers to him is sincere and the blonde breathes more easily. Her blue eyes take in the two 'children' from that future, children who've done exactly as others before them have — come back in the hopes of changing just enough. It's a vicious circle. Is it doomed to continue? She forces a small smile to her face.

"Well, I suppose I can't give you too much shit for keeping your mouths shut," Elisabeth says mildly. "It's good that you did. You guys go ahead and have dinner — I'm going to go finish patrol." She glances at Monica, Ygraine, and Jaiden. And she can't help it. "Take your time, don't come relieve me anytime soon, okay?" And she leaves the small families to their conversations, slipping back up to the rooftop.

She has much to think about up there, not the least of which is what the hell is going on that a couple children of Endgame members have shown up in the past like this. The very act of being here has probably changed their very existence. If she's learned anything at all, it's that jumping back and forth is enough to create madness, so most likely there is not 'going home' for them. And to marvel that those two kids in there chose to possibly unmake the lives they remember. How bad does it get? The thought will haunt her.

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