I Need New Bootstraps


vf_elisabeth_icon.gif vf_ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title I Need New Bootstraps
Synopsis …these ones are getting frayed from overuse.
Date January 13, 2012

Hallway and Liz's Quarters

With the teams coming out of quarantine and the chaotic meeting out of the way, Elisabeth is finally getting the reports on who has made it … and who hasn't. Including the fact that at least one has shown signs of the virus and has been cast out. It is the final straw, frankly. She cannot take any more. Dimly she realizes that Ygraine has stuck to her like glue through the meeting and its aftermath, but the blonde has to put enough distance between herself and the rest of the people in the Hub. She's moving quickly and when they finally reach an isolated spot, she turns to look at the Briton who is walking on her heels. There's an abject despair that shows in her features. "Ygraine…."

The expatriate Briton had come to a halt when Elisabeth did so - but upon hearing her name, she steps closer, tentatively reaching out a hand towards the blonde's upper arm. "I'm here," she says softly, hoping that it sounds supportive rather than trite. "Do… what can I do for you?"

"I don't know what the fuck I'm doing," Elisabeth rasps in a soft, hopeless voice. "We walked in there and … I can't even say she did the wrong thing." The tears are finally breaking free, the dam behind which all of the fear has been hidden for the past two months cracked beyond repair by the horror of the past two days. "She burned them all. They weren't even sick. They were leverage." She covers her face with both hands and convulses. "There's no right answer here," she sobs into her hands.

Ygraine casts a hasty, wary glance around - though she couldn't really say if she were checking for eavesdroppers, those who found this situation amusing, or actively hostile foes - and then steps closer. Encircling Elisabeth with her arms, she presses close; not so much squeezing, as mutely making her presence very definitely known. "Should we go to your room?", she asks in a murmur. "I can guide you. Or I know of a few somewhat-private corners we can talk in."

Sucking in a hard breath, Liz leans into the hug and struggles to breathe evenly. "I … can't do this. I don't have the right to…" But she can't finish those words, burying her face in Ygraine's shoulder. She's docile enough to be led wherever Ygraine decides to use for a private conversation, but she can't seem to stop the jagged crying for anything.

Ygraine's grip tightens, hands slipping past each other as she pulls Elisabeth more firmly into the embrace. She makes no immediate attempt to move from the spot, instead quite willing to hold position until she's confident that their reluctant saviour has sufficient balance to walk. Only then does she start gently guiding Elisabeth towards Odessa's her room. "Shhh. I've got you," she murmurs soothingly, hoping that she comes up with something more cogent to offer by the time they reach their destination.

The walk to the room is accomplished with nothing in the way of coherence from Liz — she's too busy trying to stifle the sobs so that no one else hears her absolute loss of control. Once they're actually in the room and out of sight, it's almost as if it's permission to not stifle it anymore and Elisabeth sits on the edge of her cot, curling into it up against the wall, to cry out all of the events of the past several days onto Ygraine's shoulder.

When she finally, finally slows to hiccups and the occasional hitching sob, Elisabeth apologizes softly. "You've seen so damn much of all this yourself. I'm so sorry, Ygraine. I didn't mean to lose it all over you."

Ygraine made absolutely sure that the door was securely closed, once again forlornly reaching for her power - and drawing a complete, empty blank as she sought to check whether there anyone had followed to loiter nearby in the corridor. Thereafter, she focused upon Liz, perching next to her, one hand alternately stroking and resting upon her shoulder.

Now… she ventures a sympathetically sad smile. "In some ways… less than you might think," she says quietly. "After we failed, in '09, I just… hid. Retreated from everything and everyone. Was far too long before I started venturing out again. Literally or metaphorically. We lost a lot of people, while I was hiding in dark corners and feeling sorry for myself. I didn't have the courage to get out there, until things were already pretty close to this state. But you… you're having to cope with a crash course in just how shit the world above really is, and cope with trying to save us all. As far as I'm concerned, you've nothing to apologise to me for at all."

A shuddering breath escapes the blonde as she leans back against the wall, her face swollen with tears and her nose and eyes both red. Elisabeth is not what is generally considered a "pretty" crier. Her voice is still husky with all the ragged sobs. "I have plenty of things to apologize for in this life," she replies sadly. "Not the least of which is offering any kind of hope and thinking I had any clue how to actually help here. I just…."

She shakes her head slightly, her blue eyes closed in a pained expression. "I hit a point this past year… where things were going to hell in a handbasket for me back home. And I sank into this place I'd never been before… I was almost ready to just quit the fight. My world has its own problems, a lot of them have been Vanguard-related in the past couple of years. Just… not this particular one. And I bounced back in time to join the fight that… created the anomaly that brought us here. But here…"

Elisabeth opens her eyes and looks at Ygraine. "I don't know how you've all managed to survive with your sanity intact, living this way. And I was so sure that we could do something about all this…. I just want to help where I can. And I blew it. So fucking huge. We lost at least half of the teams that went out that door. And now Magnes…." She just drags her hands down her face. "Christ, that fucking kid. On the one hand, what he suggested might actually work. On the other? He's so fucking full of piss and vinegar still, I just want to slap the fuck out of him. He's constantly talking about how he knows Eileen and knows Kazimir… but the only Kazimir he ever met was not the one that lives here. And I don't honestly have any faith whatsoever that Magnes can withstand Kazimir Volken if that fucker chooses to try to turn him." The confession is accompanied by a heavy sigh.

"A couple of years back, at least here, he was… an amiably clueless kid who had no idea how his power worked. But supposedly, his capacity to use his power accurately and in a controlled fashion is key to all this," Ygraine says quietly. "There are reasons why I want to use my own talent - limited as it is - to analyse what the heck Ruiz can do. Quite possibly, I'll 'read' nothing at all. But the more data we have, the better. And maybe - just maybe - we can figure out something new that will help."

She squeezes Elisabeth's shoulder, finding a hint of a smile to accompany the gesture. "As for options… what about the guy I brought back? He said he could do what Gillian could. Do you know anything about him from your own, ahh, 'version' of things? I'm not aware of ever laying eyes on him before. But at the very least, he could both remove my access to my ability, and… amp it up somehow."

Elisabeth leans her head back against the wall. "I've never met John Logan in person," she tells the Briton quietly. "I have…. opinions about him. I've been a cop in New York for a long time, so organized crime is one of those things that you learn a lot about even when you can't touch them. Logan… worked for Linderman for a while, I believe. Or at least had an affiliation. When Staten Island became basically a No Man's Land, where the NYPD no longer had jurisdiction, he ran a couple of whorehouses and an underground Evo fight club out on Staten, if I'm remembering it all correctly. I hate his guts for what he did to a friend of mine… he held her captive out there to heal his fucking fighters. And he cut out her tongue. Thank God, that was actually healed later, but…. she lives with the aftermath of those horrors." The same as Elisabeth will live with a great many of her own.

"Who or what Logan is here, I have no fucking idea. Power-wise… he does seem capable of doing what Gillian can do. And beggars can't exactly be choosy." Liz shrugs a little, looking both exhausted and lost. "I mean, what the hell else have we got to try? Our options pretty much really do suck, Ygraine."

Ygraine nods slowly, expression pensively concerned. "Linderman… I'm vaguely aware of. A friend of mine was a reporter. Investigating his organisation, when she died. But I don't think I'd ever even heard of Logan. Still… I'm inclined to trust his desire to want to get the heck out of here. He could have… well. He had the drop on us. I actually tried to kill him, when I spotted him - and no one else had at all, at that point. But without him, we'd have struggled to find and get into the tunnel we used, before the building came down."

Sighing, she shakes her head. "But… he had someone's tongue cut out, where you come from? Fuck. That's… yeah. Christ, Liz. I'm so sorry. I had no idea that seeing him would… well. It can't be at all easy. Here… well. He mostly seems broken, from the little we've talked. Just been trying to survive, since the world ended. We offer a faint glimmer of surviving at least briefly, away from them. Maybe even finding a way to live. I've never understood people, but I think we can trust him to help us. Though that could just be wishful thinking."

Elisabeth's smile still has the sadness tainting it. "Again… what choice do we really have? We took a massive gamble… and it blew up in our faces. We've drawn the full attention of Volken. Whatever it was that kept him from actively pursuing this group before? We've blown that tolerance of the Hub's population to Hell." She reaches up with one and and digs into her eyes, pausing to pinch the bridge of her nose for a long moment before looking back up at Ygraine. "Logan, to the best of my knowledge, is a prick of the first order, but his primary objective has always been survival. So… I think for so long as there's any opportunity that we can get him out of Dante's Inferno, he'll work with us. Doesn't mean he wouldn't betray us if a better offer came along — it's entirely possible that he's survived this long because he had something Volken wanted and he's been put here as a plant." She shrugs a little. "Does it really matter, if he actually can and does do something that allows us to implement the evacuation attempt? Probably not."

"From the sound of it? We went in there to get someone who could do what Gillian does - and we came out with someone who could do what Gillian does," Ygraine points out - voice low, but intense. "That is a very long way from the mission being a bust. It was fricking horrible, yes. And I didn't even see or hear what you were going through, I know. But we tried to get ourselves a shot at getting out of this: we now seem to have one. It's not certain. It might not work at all. But that was true even if everything had gone perfectly. Now? Now, we're still in a situation where you being here, you persuading Edward, you providing information, where you have got us some sort of chance of survival. Till you got here? I called myself - thought of myself as - one of the walking dead. I knew I was doomed. But I'd found enough courage I was going to fight, and help, as long as I possibly could. Now… there's at least a chance of that turning out well for some people here. That's a huge gift. Not a fuck-up."

The words flood Elisabeth's gritty blue eyes with tears again when she thought she didn't have any left to cry. "I'm not sure I'm worth that level of faith, Ygraine… here or at home." Her half-hitched laugh sounds wet. "And somehow, you have always managed to find a way to believe in me, even when I can't find it in me to believe in myself." She moves to sit more up, cross-legged, and wipes at her face to try to dry it yet again. And something she once said to Veronica makes her laugh a little. "Karma's a bitch, Fate's a bitch, Life's a bitch…. and so are we, lady. I got my bootstraps on and I'm gettin' back up."

Ygraine shifts position as well, moving from perching to properly sitting on the bed, right alongside Elisabeth. "Good," she says quietly. "And as for faith? Hey, you're the interdimensional traveller who chose to tell me - a crazy nobody - that I was worthy of your faith and friendship. From where I'm sitting, that looks like a far, far bigger leap than me putting my trust in you. But if we need to be bitches to make this work, then, well. At least one of us can probably manage that."

She follows her words with a wink.

Elisabeth can't help the soft laughter that bubbles up. "I can manage it," she agrees. Looking at the other woman, she looks grateful. "I hope, no matter what goes on with all this, you know that in any world, you are the best friend I've ever had."

That declaration is sufficient not only to produce a swift flush, turning Ygraine's troglodytic pallor decidedly rosy, but also to get her to quite audibly "meep" in response. Then she ducks her head, squirming bashfully - before leaning over to bump shoulders. "I find it hard to imagine living up to that kind of praise. But thank you. From the bottom of my heart."

Leaning into the shoulder-bump, Elisabeth rests her head on Ygraine's shoulder. She still trembles just a little, despite all the crying she's done over the past however long it's been — she doesn't even know. "I never feel like I know what I'm doing," she confesses softly. Give her two choices, and she'll kick in the door. Richard's voice whispers through her thoughts and it makes her smile a little. "I just fake it real good most of the time. There aren't many people… that I trust to keep that secret. Or to kick me in the ass when I need it. You are one of the few." The admission holds a hint of amusement. "So… don't hesitate, any time you think I need it, okay? A swift kick in the shorts goes a long way toward making people get their heads out of their asses, my dad always said." She grins a little. "My father …. he's one of those guys who can just raise one eyebrow and make you straighten up and fly right with a single look. I think I used to exasperate him a lot… he'd say I was reckless and I'd point out that he was the one who told me the only things in life we regret are the things we didn't do. And he'd sigh and just shake his head… but you could tell he was proud, you know?"

As she blows out a breath and sits upright, it's a simple matter to see that Liz is pulling herself back together. "A few tears where they're needed, and then back to work, right?" God, the shades of her friends tonight. Teo's face flashes in her mind's eye as she remembers a night of sobbing on her kitchen floor with the crazy Italian boy brushing her hair off her face. "Let's make all the sacrifices here — of our teams and the innocents along the way — worth something, shall we?"

Ygraine shifts position, squirming around a little so that she can slip an arm round Elisabeth's back to deliver another squeeze. "My own father's a professor of linguistics. The sort of person who raises his children to be bilingual, because he thinks that it's good for them," she says dryly. "The skill that made me most employable outside sport, was one that I largely just grew up with. Sounds like your Dad had a slightly different approach… but I think we're both glad for what they gave us."

She squeezes again, taking her turn to lean into Liz a little. "And yeah. I'm with you, on trying to make this all as worthwhile as possible. Shorts-kicking… well. I can try to keep an eye out for suitable opportunities. Just as a special favour to you, you understand."

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