Just to Talk


elisabeth_icon.gif graeme_icon.gif

Scene Title Just to Talk
Synopsis Graeme turns to Liz when he needs someone to talk to about things.
Date February 9, 2011

The Nite Owl

Graeme sits in a booth at The Nite Owl, looking out the window at a sky that doesn't so much show how the progression of the afternoon. There's a plate of food, half-eaten in front of him, and he leans back, quiet and thoughtful, and peers towards the door. He's been here a while, a good bit early for the agreed-upon meeting time, but that's mainly due to a lack of wanting to go back to his apartment until he's calmer. He leans on the table, chin in hands, cell phone to one side, before looking to the door another time.

The call was both unexpected and somewhat worrying. The man is pretty much a perfect stranger and he asked her to meet him — after her telling him to go ahead and contact the Deveaux Group! Elisabeth is alarmed, at best, and she manages to catch a few minutes of break to get over to the coffee place. When she steps in she waves at the waitress, who merely nods. And then she glaces around for her quarry and heads directly for Graeme's table. "Are you all right?" are the first words out of her mouth.

Graeme looks up, nods, and half-chuckles, an attempt to validate the next question. He looks alright, except for the worry on his face. "Yeah, I suppose," he says, gesturing for Elisabeth to sit. "I uh…" god this is awkward, he called the stranger who happens to live in the same apartment building, because he's freaking out about family, and his face slips into a pleasant, neutral expression that he rarely wears outside a classroom or soccer field as he considers what to say.

"Yeah, just. Lot to think about. I…" there's another pause. "One of the other reasons I've been back here was to find a sister I didn't know I had. And well, I found her." He shakes his head, tone betraying his doubts and just a hint of cynicism.

Uh…. what? Elisabeth eyes him. "….. okay," she drawls out. "And you called… me?" A hand comes up to stop him and she smiles a bit. "Don't take this the wrong way, Graeme, I'm pretty flattered. I'm just…. surprised, I guess." Because doesn't he have a roommate for this? "I take it didn't go well?" she asks.

Graeme leans back, shakes his head. "Yes," he says, more to her first question. "No, it went … oddly." Another pause. "As I said, I'm … I'd have … I don't exactly know too many folk in this town, at the moment. And the few I do, well, most're young enough to have been my students." Including his roommate, which would be why he called her instead. "But yeah. I'm pretty sure I count having a gun pointed at me and then her running off alluva sudden as not going well."

There's a bit of a nod and shrug as he admits most of the people he knows are young enough to be his students — Elisabeth definitely understands that feeling. When he says his sister pointed a gun at him, though, Elisabeth's eyebrows shoot up. "Okay…. so you're going to have to give me a little more to this story, okay? Because…. you didn't know you had a sister and came looking for her? I assume that you found out through…. records somewhere?" she asks. "Is it a safe assumption that if you didn't know about her, maybe she didn't know about you either? I mean…. I can understand some amount of 'hey, get the hell away from me, freak' — If some guy approached me and said that, I'd pretty much say that. I might even pull a gun on him," she admits, "but then that's because I'm me and I'm beyond paranoid. What was her issue?" And who the hell is she that she's carrying a gun in the first place??

"I found out her name, got a picture, and the fact that she was supposedly down here in New York, a little over a month ago. Had to come here and sort out some business of my adoptive mother's anyway," Graeme says. "But I'd pretty much given up on finding her… Keira, and then I was in the mall, and there she was. I could have walked away, but…"

He picks up his water, taking a small sip. "She didn't know, yeah. Took it a bit … badly."

Elisabeth hesitates and says, "All I can say is that I'm sorry, Graeme." She doesn't really know what else to say. "Are you going to try again?" she asks.

Graeme shrugs a bit. "She sat down and had lunch with me," he says. "With a gun pointed at me under the table a good part of the time, but I suppose it could have gone worse." He grimaces, a bit. "I don't know. She even gave me her phone number, but she got real jumpy when I mentioned the vague of why I'd left New Mexico." Graeme's quiet, nearly subdued, like he hasn't had enough time to really grok any of what he's saying. "Had been nice enough conversation, just, you know, general stuff. But then. Real edgy, then just got up and left."

The blonde considers and says quietly, "How vague were you?" Her tone is gentle as she suggests, "If you told her about your ability… sometimes it takes people time to get used to that. You have to know by now that it's a pretty… volatile topic."

Graeme shakes his head. "My ability'd come up earlier," he says, frowning slightly. "She seemed a little jealous, but nothing… nothing suggesting anything out of the ordinary." He leans on his hand, picking at the food in front of him a bit absently. "And I was pretty vague, really. Vaguer than I usually am."

Elisabeth simply nods. A coffee cup appears at her elbow and she nods her thanks to the waitress. And as she doctors the cup, she sighs. "I'm sorry, Graeme," she says sincerely. "I wish I knew what to say. It… bothers me that your sister is running around town with a gun in hand, but…. I have to admit that I know a lot of people are right now. It's a rough time."

"It is," Graeme says, nodding agreement. "More than I'd thought, perhaps." And then a pause. "Thanks for coming, Elisabeth," he says, quietly. "I appreciate it." His smile is tired, almost, genuine but as much to hide that he really has too much to think about as anything else.

"It hasn't been an easy return to the city for you, has it?" Elisabeth asks sympathetically. "It's hard enough to be Evo. In some ways I would think it'd be easier here than most other places, but…. I have to admit that I hear a whole lot fewer attacks in other places than here. I can't decide if that's a function of a higher density population or the pressure cooker that is a city." She sips her coffee. "Mind if I ask…. why me?"

Graeme shrugs, a little. "Not really. I figured here's as good as anywhere," he says, "but well. It's still crap. It's better than small-town New Mexico, where the bigotry's rampant and such, but." He pauses, considering, fingers tapping the table. "Why not? Like I said, I don't really know that many people, here. And of them…" Graeme's having a terribly hard time articulating why it is that he finds her trustworthy, it'd seem, and so he just shrugs again, eyebrows raising momentarily.

Elisabeth smiles faintly. "Thank you," she says. "It's been a long time since it's been that simple for someone."

Graeme chuckles under his breath. "Stuff here in the city's all complicated," he observes. "New Mexico's not… not the same way, at least. Then again, that's the difference living somewhere with a total population of a few thousand for a long time does to someone."

Sipping her coffee, Elisabeth chuckles around the cup. "Well…. in a small town in New Mexico, you're gonna have your average rednecks who hate that you're gay, hate that you're a gay teacher because don'tcha know it's contagious and might rub off, hate that you have a power they don't understand, and hate that you're a gay Evo teacher because — well, again, that kinda shit might just rub off and contaminate us all." Her tone is … far more knowledgeable, far more bitter on a personal level, than one might expect. She's speaking from experience, not from an abstract. "Here, you get things like Humanis First assholes perpetrating hate crimes in the street and soldiers, under the guise of martial law, pulling the same shit." That has an undertone of anger. "Not sure how different it is."

"Same stuff, different day, different place," Graeme says, a slight edge to his voice, and shakes his head, slightly. "People're too slow to accept. Too afraid of different that'll contaminate the way they were comfortable with things being." He folds his hands, shrugs again, quiet and thoughtful.

"Sorry…don't mind my soapbox. My best friend … faced a lot of bullshit when he was a Fed in spite of the fact that he's very low-key. Takes it in stride and usually manages to rather disingenuously put people in their place as necessary. I don't put up with that shit on my own teams," Elisabeth says calmly. "And after being forced to publicly register an ability in order to keep my job, I have to admit I understand why people stay in the closet."

Graeme nods. "I don't mind," he says, softly. "And yeah, I can understand that," Graeme adds. There's definite bitterness, there, though it's restrained to just an edge on his voice. "I had to register, but all it did was paint a nice big target on my chest. Not that my ability doesn't do that for me, half the time. There's only so much I'd ever been able to fake normal." He bites his lower lip, and offers Liz a bit of a smile.

With a faint smirk, Elisabeth admits, "I stopped faking when I went back to the police force after Midtown. I'm not against Registration per se — only against forced Registration. Those of us in service fields probably should register. If only because it lets our superiors know what kinds of talents they have at their disposal. Soldiers, cops, firefighters, … maybe even teacher, I don't know. I sure wish there wasn't such a stigma. I might not have had a bunch of dead kids on my hands if we all weren't so damn afraid."

There's a wince of sympathy from Graeme at the last part of Elisabeth's statement. It's every teacher's nightmare, after all, and he nods. "Something like that, yeah. I wish that it wasn't set up as a barrier to everything, really."

"I had 36 kids get caught under the influence of a dream manipulator," Elisabeth tells him quietly. "They were all Evo. The committed mass suicide." That, of course, made national news. "One girl's ability allowed her to survive the poison pact. And she was able to tell us a lot. But it still took years for us to put together why it happened… that it was, in fact, a murder." She looks down at her cup. "I had another friend who was kidnapped for her healing ability and held against her will in an illegal pit-fighting ring. Healing the Evo fighters. I've seen a lot of shit in this town, Graeme." She looks up. "You seem like a real nice guy. I'd like to see you not get caught up in that. But if you're planning to stick around… I do think you should call the people on that card. I don't know much about the Deveaux Group, but… what I do know of them is…. I won't say positive. But better than what I know of most of the others."

Graeme nods. "One of my top players, on my varsity team… school told him he couldn't play in games, because his ability was like mine," Graeme says, quietly. "An 'unfair advantage'. He took his dad's gun, shot himself right in the middle of town that evening." He leans back, a little, with a small sigh, pushing back the edge of anger that had crept into his voice. "Yeah, I'm working on that. I have to wonder why me, there, but I guess there's only one way for me to find out."

Elisabeth grimaces. "Yeah." Every teacher's nightmare. She lives it with him. "I watched Washington Irving explode around me. The Vanguard killed several dozen of my kids that day. That was when I went back into police work. They deserved justice," she says quietly. She rims the coffee mug with her fingertip. "Call them. And then call me and tell me what you learn, Graeme. I can't promise you that you'll like it. I can't even promise you it'll be the truth, whatever they tell you. But I think it will. And … if you need anything, you can call me."

There's another quiet nod from Graeme. "I will. Thank you, Elisabeth." He picks up his water, taking a sip from it. "And hey, thanks for coming on such short notice." There's a hint of a smile on his face, albeit a bit of a grim one. He's more collected, overall, than he was when she walked in, slightly less frazzled, more determined.

Elisabeth smirks a little. "It's been a long time since someone came to me …. just to talk, Graeme. Thank you. For making me feel… normal." It's a sad commentary on her life.

Graeme chuckles, quietly, the slight frown that had been on his face for most of the time fading a little more. For a long moment, he doesn't really say anything, just sorting out his thoughts. "De nada, really."

"Might be nothing to you," Elisabeth returns quietly. "But I'd forgotten what it felt like." She smiles slightly. "I need to get back to work. Go carefully. And … do let me know what you learn, okay? Things are… strange."

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