Mixed Blessing


elisabeth_icon.gif joshua_icon.gif

Scene Title Mixed Blessing
Synopsis This time, Elisabeth's glimpse of the future is seen through the kind of man she's raised.
Date April 15, 2011

Skinny Brickfront: Rooftop

She waits until the sun sets. She waits until the sky goes like ink.

Or at least, waiting is what she is deemed to be doing by the time she has company, because you don't really have to know that you are— waiting— to be doing it. The rooftop of the skinny brickfront is otherwise empty except for Elisabeth Harrison, and by the time free falling speckles of rain are what might drive her inside eventually, she will feel that presence of another. Outside of being able to hear like no other, sixth sense tingles are somewhat outside of Elisabeth's purview — but an audiokinetic can probably sense the work of another when, ghost-like, soundwaves travel invisible over the surface of the rooftop, over her body.

CLANG clang clang. The fire exit rattles when someone leaps upon the upper most landing, and strides up steps the rest of the way without worrying about stealth anymore.

A figure clad in greys and blacks swings a leg over the side of the ledge, distanced from her at the other side of the concrete rooftop.

Elisabeth's got a spot that has a good view of the vast majority of the area without being too exposed. The fire escape is far enough from that locale to give her the ability to duck as need be — but truth be told, she expects it's Monica, who likes to climb things. And given the fact that the woman just met her son, that she might need some time alone to process is also not unexpected. So as Elisabeth turns, she's expecting to see the girl.

And it's not Monica. Before she even really registers that consciously the pistol is out of the holster at her waist. It's pointed down. She's just…. that paranoid. "Chesty," Liz says, waiting for the appropriate response. Which would be Bulldog, a reference to a very old television show. She's been kidnapped from a roof before, dammit!

There's no verbal reply. Right away.

If this man even knows the reference, it's basically lost by the time he has both feet on the roof floor and is steering a look towards what he can see of her — which is enough. The city still has lights, ones that reflect off cloud cover and paint the world in greys and blues enough to see detail by. And so he can see her, and she can see him, a young man that doesn't actually look like the kind of guy you want to meet on a rooftop when you're a wanted terrorist. His clothing is unthreatening, in jeans, a soft grey sweater with the hood left to flop back on his back, and a backpack strapped tight in place.

He is not uninjured, either, with a split at his mouth from a freshly landed blow, a couple of days old, and stitches at his knuckles gone taut around their grip on a strap. He isn't armed, visibly, but he has a thuggish build to him in burly shoulders, head shaved down close to the skull. Bone structure that would probably suit anger.

But he is more startled, in some ways, roaming a look over her. Because she looks so different. He takes a step forward.

Elisabeth's dressed for the weather, her navy blue fleece and worn jeans definitely looking … well, at least half "normal" for a derelict building. It's the nearly waist-length hair that throws most of the people who know her — she's kept it tied up for so long, only a few people really knew how long it had gotten. It's serving her well as a disguise for the moment. She remains on the far side of the roof from him, where the anxious reverb of her ability isn't audible or tangible to anyone…. except perhaps someone who can sense the ratchet up of tensions in the sound waves themselves. "Don't know who you are," she informs him calmly, her hand holding that gun with the kind of casual ease that speaks of long experience, "But you're in the wrong place. Go on back down the ladders and find another squat. This one's taken." Her power sends her voice carrying to him, but she isn't going to force him or even try.

Hands go out in preemptive surrender, but the young man isn't backing up either.

Instead, he swings off his backpack and squats down comfortably, zipping it open and burying a hand inside. There is turmoil, where Elisabeth can't see, and his ducked head makes it all the more so. Out from the backpack, he takes something vaguely disk shaped, heavy looking, and then stands again, stepping over backpack to move off to the left rather than directly at her. Metal structures for— fans or air con or something, none of this shit works in the future, the place an urban brokedown playground as far as Joshua is concerned, it's now used as a table.

It's a ceramic pie dish, wrapped in plastic, and filled, predictably, with pie that's endured being carried around as it has been — somewhat broken but relatively whole. How it tastes, the jury is still out. "I'm your son from the future," he says, after a second. He didn't think this part through. "And I made you a pie."

When he bends down to dig in his backpack the safety comes off the pistol and her stance shifts, widening to accomodate the possibility of needing to dodge or shoot. For anyone else, those words might have been cause for laughter or for incredulity even. Elisabeth's just met two others, however, and it's not. What it is actually is cause for…. shock. A pang of some emotion she can't define. Slowly she safeties the weapon and moves to slide it into her holster again. It takes…. a very long moment. Before she can speak. And her first words are maybe not what he was expecting.

"I don't…. know your name."

Elisabeth seems rooted to the spot, her anxiety over a threat now shifting to uncertainty. She finally manages to shift her weight and walk toward him, her blue eyes trailing over his face. The injuries he's sporting. "Rough week?" she asks gently.

Now that they're on roughly the same page, Joshua is having some trouble looking at her. He is looking at his creation, probably not something he did on his own, blunt fingernails picking at the sticking plastic to slowly and absently unpeel it from the side, other hand burying into a pocket and adoscelent slouch to his shoulders. Though he is certainly older, early twenties at the latest. "Nah," he says, the corner of his mouth turning up in what would be a wicked smile if it was in full bloom. "I fight for money when'm not working doorway security at the same place.

"It's fun," is tacked on, mildly defensive, before he lifts hazel eyes to glance at her face. "What names do you like? For a son."

When he looks at her like that, Elisabeth's heart catches. That is so purely his father's smile. "Are you asking because I named you something stupid?" she asks, amusement lacing her words as she approaches to within arm's length of him. Part of her doesn't want to believe him. But considering what else she's seen today? She can't help it. She reaches out, hesitating only to ask silently for permission to touch him, and if he allows she puts her fingertips along his chin and tips it gently to look at him. "I always expected you to have my last name, so I planned on letting your father name you," she tells him softly. "Unfortunately, I gather that in the time you came from, he is…. not the man he should be. Before I saw you, I might have leaned toward Patrick, I think." Her father's father. "Or perhaps William." To remind her. "They were both good men."

He allows it. Freezes a little like prey for all that he is usually the predator, but stillness is expected, anyway, at the guiding touch to his chin wherein he tilts his head in compliance. "Joshua," he says, after a few beats of silence, his voice coming out wry. "Josh. Dunno how you got there, but— " He jolts a shrug, backing up a step in the same movement. "He didn't name me. He didn't do much for me." That thrum of anger can be felt in the mildest of vibrations, something that only happens when the topic hits on a specific note — and this is Josh's version of holding back.

"You should be more weirded out about this than you are," is spoken a little louder, like misdirection.

Elisabeth smiles up at him, she can't help it. "Joshua," she repeats, giving him space as he steps back. "I like it." The low bass cacophany of his anxious rumble meeting her own humming vibration is only felt by two audiokinetics, still well below the range of hearing. "Oh!" she blurts, startled. "You're…!" Well, that's a twist she hadn't expected… that he would have her ability.

"Uhm," Elisabeth tries to divert to the topic he seems to want to follow, her hand dropping to the pie he'd been unwrapping. Maybe to just give her something to do. "I suppose I should be wierded out," she admits. "I think I'm more …. worried." She leans both her hands on the air compressor unit he used as a table and looks up at him again. "I'm pretty sure my opinion of time travel hasn't changed in the…. 30 years or so from now. Having you stand in front of me is something of a mixed blessing. It means things really are as bad as Ezekiel claimed." Her brows pull together. "Even if he lied about everything else. And it… scares me." Her jaw clenches and she looks down. "I cannot imagine what your life's been like, but…. it scares me that just be coming here, you've changed the one good thing that came of your timeline." When she looks up at him again, there's a sparkle of tears that she refuses to let fall. "You … the wish of you, the hope of you… are the … end of the rainbow, you know. The one possibility that keeps me going." She offers him a shaky smile. "You're so handsome. And probably a handful and a half."

The pie is gooseberry, and cooked unevenly, split three ways from being jostled around and probably sour to taste. But. He doesn't seem like the master pastry chef type in the first place. Maybe it's the thought that counts, or what he's banking on.

Joshua also might have reassurance about what the future is like — all the robots in the world to chase, for example — but it can evidently come later when his mouth twists into one of those smiles that won't get suppressed without a fight. "You aren't happy," he says, despite the crooked attempt at a grin at her assessment of him. "Where I'm from. You get sick. Because you get dead and he brings you back and it takes years for it to catch up to you. It don't matter, anymore, because everything's changing, and I'm gonna help make it better. Me and a friend of mine.

"It's just so weird to see you. It's— " His shoulders curl in, defensive against his own emotions. "It's been a few years since. You know? And you look— " Great. Healthy. Not in pain. But the words stall out.

It is the thought that counts. Elisabeth nods slowly. "He told me," Elisabeth tells him. "The version of your father that came from the same place you and JJ and Lene did. That he followed Ray's instructions and had me killed. That years later he brought me back." She grimaces slightly. "Kinda creepy, quite frankly." She pauses and studies him. "A lot of things changed. Even before he got here. Your father… your real father, not that bastard up there at the Institute… he never even considered letting me die that day. Not by his hands. He sent a sniper out there to make sure no one else could make it happen." She grimaces a little. "I'm…. so sorry you watched me get sick, Joshua. I… "

Lapsing into silence, Elisabeth looks at the pie and grins a little, touching the crust. She won't hurt his feelings by throwing it out. Not until he's not here. "Why are you…. telling us?" she finally asks, her gaze coming back up. "I know you had to have been here for a while. JJ's been on my squad for months. Why now when you've taken such pains to hide it so long?"

Though she assures him of a fate diverted, Joshua doesn't look so convinced — stubborn sullenness sets in his strong features, but he doesn't argue either, just drops his stare to her hand at the edge of the pie, own hands tucking into the pockets of his hoodie as erratic rain fall knives down fleeting, sporadic drops of rain that dots here and there rather than lay down blanketing wet. He seems, though, to prepare himself to answer her, squaring his shoulders and taking a breath—

Before she gets a hard look of scrutiny around when JJ's name crops up. "You've met them?" he asks, voice delivering sharp through his words. It's not quite anger, but the startled tone that might precede a rising temper. "How many? Just Jay? Son of a bitch." Not to insult Monica, or anything.

That surprises her. And raises her wariness. "I didn't have a clue who they were," Elisabeth says calmly. "And I'd tell you to watch your mouth, but it seems like a lost cause considering I cuss like a sailor, so…." A little levity to bring him back around. "Lene has been working at Redbird and bringing supplies here to the safehouse since the place blew. And JJ — he's been on my FRONTLINE squad. But they came today… to talk to Jaiden and Monica. They're staying here too." There's a bitter tone to her voice as she reaches up to rake her hair back off her face a bit. "It's probably why I'm not quite as wierded out as you expected. I got to have the whole afternoon of being completely wierded out. They didn't tell me about you," she tells him quietly.

The last part does something to stem swift temper, jaw setting and arms folding, and he twitches a shrug. Fine. "Yeah, they've been keepin' an eye on that stuff. And Richard." Not dad, or father, for all that he resembles him, has strong feelings assigned to him. Which possibly answers the question about what his last name is, too. "They decided that we should come out and tell you guys because some information leaked, and they wanted to get the jump before you smoked us out. Or thought we were the enemy.

"But listen."

It's a bit weird, talking to his mom like an equal of some kind — she's older than him still, but not by that much. It gives Joshua pause before he shakes it off. "I dunno if everyone's workin' together anymore. We came back to make shit better but— things are getting bad. If we don't do something, the Normals are gonna win out. You can't— I dunno if you can trust the others. So just hang tight if you meet any. Calvin's okay," is added as an afterthought.

For a long moment, Elisabeth stares into the face of the man her son — if nothing changes — will become. "So… you're only telling us now because…. something blew up in your faces?" Mmm-hmm. As if she's not familiar with that tactic at all. "All right, kiddo," she says, leaning her elbows on the makeshift table. "Spill. You had to have come with a specific set of goals — unless you landed here by accident." She files away the name Calvin. That makes four of them. How the hell many kids are going to pop up?? Christ, did they start a time-jumping posse for fuck's sake?

"I've already got a plan to work with, and I don't need you guys — who I'm quite sure think you know everything there is to know about your parents and how their plans didn't work out, some of which might be valuable information and will save us all some grief if it helps us revamp the plans — stepping on my toes. I'm definitely going to take all the damn help I can get." Worry clouds blue eyes. "Your father," and yes there is a clear delineation between the two men in Elisabeth's mind. Joshua's father is the man in the current analog, "is working one angle of it while I work on this end." She pauses then suddenly. "Are you going to see him?" she asks.

And then Liz interrupts herself to add to the thought. "Don't….. take that as me interfering, Joshua. I just… wanted to know if I should keep my mouth shut for a while. I won't do it for long," she warns. "God… he's going to be so fucking proud of what you're doing I'm not going to be able stand him for a week."

Shutting up and listening is, maybe surprisingly, a trait Joshua has — whether it's genetic or more of a nurture thing than nature is up for debate, but he does do both for all that his expression remains cloudier, his posture as locked down as it has been with a hand fidgeting blunt fingernails against the draw string of his hoodie. If anything, he could be figuring out what to tell her, although there's a near canine tilt to his head around the mention of her having a plan, tension stringing up the side of his neck, but again, he holds his tongue.

But like she put it: not for long. Silence grinds between them, until he selects his words, very carefully: "When was the last time you seen him?"

And even then, it's a mighty rhetorical question.

Elisabeth would be the first to admit that she was running off at the mouth. It occasionally happens when she's not sure what to say and has a million half-formed thoughts and questions in her head. But when that's the one he asks, she frowns slightly. "The day before Redbird blew. We were sorting out some of the logistics since I'd pretty much torched the original plan," she answers cautiously. Could be parent code for 'we were makin' up after an argument of epic proportions,' but he doesn't need to know that. "Why?" And her blue eyes narrow on him closely. "What happened?"

"We fought."

That's the truth, at least. Sort of. Joshua's mouth twists into another half-smile — hard and uncomfortable, showing no teeth. "I saw him last week, before the group decided, and right after he blew up the building. Bad vibes escalate, you know? But they felt fit to save him, and he's gone. Some other time and place. Hell, maybe he's lying low somewhere now, don't ask me. But you can see why I'm workin' solo, now. The plans've changed. But I can keep you posted.

"For the record, though, I don't want him proud of me. You raised me. It was you and me, the whole time. We don't need him." He sounds a little like he's reciting something. The words he came up with prior to this meeting, or words he's heard before.

Well…. that would certainly explain the state of the library as she found it this morning. Cracked and ravaged, with blood spatter in a strange place. There's…. a clench of her jaw. A pursing of her lips. The signs of Elisabeth being perturbed have not changed. "I see," is all she says on that matter. She should have expected as much. Joshua is striking her as one very angry boy. And rightfully so. But …. the man's not dead. Which is good.

"When we know one another just a little better, Joshua Harrison, there's going to come a moment where I slap you upside the back of your head. And you'll know that it's for not coming to me first and talking to me. But since we do not know one another that well just yet, I'm going to refrain from that instinctive response." There's still that subtle vibration around her; it spiked really high when he said they fought — she knows what their shared ability can do — and now it's subsided to almost nothing. She's perturbed but not pissed off or overly anxious anymore.

Once that's dealt with, it's time to deal with the rest. "You don't get to spin off on your own if you and the others had a plan. Working solo is the best way to fuck it all up. I promise you that." Elisabeth had to beat it into the kid's father's head regularly. "And since I have every intention of continuing to be proud of the man you've become — being as I'm reasonably certain that you understand that by coming here, you're taking a massive risk to your own existence — I would like you to do something for me." She waits to be sure that she has his attention. "You came here with your friends. You came to try to make things better. You came with a plan. Let's talk about this plan and see what we can salvage of it, if it's a viable one."

Joshua getting chastised is sort of like swatting a wolf on the nose with a newspaper — except that it works, when it's Elisabeth, chin tucking in some and going quiet once more, leaning a hip against the metal units and a wrinkle developing above his nose at the word friends. Because he's not sure about that anymore.

"You know how I discovered what I could do?"

Diversion. But maybe not for very long. Some need to pull back from the complications that are plans and allies and the future and the present/past. "You were teaching me how to drive. I got good at it — I can cruise a tank down the street tomorrow if I had one — but it was the first time. We argued— we do that— and I got mad, and all the glass in the thing broke down, and we knew it was me. So then it was teachin' me how to drive and use my power. It's kinda different from yours." He lays a hand down upon the metal unit, and with an off-key chime effect, a crack suddenly snaps through the metal. "Most days I wished it was the same. Make things easier on us."

He scrubs a hand up the side of his face, looking back at her. "We had a plan because we had a leader. Older'n the rest of us. She went missing days before we were set to go back. Disappeared, or dead. But we had to go anyhow and back then, thought we were tighter than we turned out to be. So there's a lot of opinion on what our plan's meant to be, you know what I mean?

"My short term goal's breaking down the Alia system before it can get any better. The software that controls the robots, and the compass technology. It's weaksauce, right now, but trust me — it gets bad. Me and this chick, Adel, we're the ones that broke Chavez out."

The body language tells the tale, and Elisabeth is actually hard pressed not to smile faintly. Apparently some things about being a teacher she has not lost — the ability to instill a good verbal swat is useful. She moves to stand closer to him as he talks, leaning one hip on the unit so that she's right next to him and able to see every nuance of his expression while he's speaks.

He has her complete attention, not because he's necessarily telling her anything that will help in the war. But because he's talking to her, giving her a little insight into this man that her son could become. Elisabeth sees much in him to be proud of. When he shows her what he can do, she quirks a brow. "Interesting," is what she comments on that. And grins slightly. "I'm not terribly surprised that we argue some. You seem… a strong man." And strong emotions inside a close relationship can breed heated arguments. Note to self, apply some of those hostage negotiation training sessions to dealing with child.

Elisabeth nods a bit to the understanding of how a group can fracture under the strain. "Thank you for that," she tells him quietly, filing away the name Adel. That's five. Jesus. "Alia is invaluable. And you may actually be closer to that goal than you think. Alia and I've been talking, and she thinks Verse may be corruptible. Which means it may be possible to get back in there and blow that shit sky high."

"Yeah? Cool."

Things are changing, then, in a way that was deliberate, in a way that Joshua had anticipated. If the crooked smile that comes with it is of any indication, it might be the first time since he's been here — but then, fate can course correct, and it's what dims that moment of 'yeah? cool' back down to naught, sobering his expression. "Then there's still work t'do. And it ain't like I came here for a vacation. Though— " Feelings are hard, but then, Joshua also is capable of speaking honestly, and with minor editing. "It's cool to see you like this. And not shooting me or something."

She laughs softly. She can't help it. "Just…. try not to sneak up on me, okay?" Elisabeth says to him lightly. "I'm wound a little tight lately." And considering the young man in front of her has admitted to… at the very least attempting to damage his father greatly, to the point that he had to be saved by the rest of Joshua's friends … "I would never forgive myself for hurting you," she says to him sincerely. He's a lot like his father in that way too — that emotions are difficult. Shaking her head on a sigh, Elisabeth reaches up for the zippered front of his hoodie and draws him in for a tight hug. "You're one hell of a brave soul, Josh," she whispers to him. "All of you. You are incredible people to even try this. We'll work it out, okay?"

He is predictably stiff and unrelenting — at first. Then he folds, some, and winds strong arms around her smaller frame to accept and give back the embrace. "Okay," Joshua repeats. "I'm not gonna let you get hurt either." Squeeze, and then release, backing up a few shy steps before he's breaking off entirely, pacing back for the way he came. There will be other times to discuss what has to happen. By then, Joshua will have his stories straighter, and be better prepared for what questions she'll have — not even to lie to them, seeing as he hasn't, but to prepare his truths. It's hard to predict.

And they can have such discussions indoors, maybe. He swoops up his backpack. "And be careful. Of the dreams. I don't think they'll be lies, but if you get weirder ones, ones that ain't memories… just be careful."

That's an alarming warning. Elisabeth watches him go thoughtfully, hiding her worry behind a faint smile. "You too," she tells him softly. Is her son every bit as paranoid as his father? she has to wonder. There is no way to her mind that Jaiden's son would turn on hers…. would he? Really? What the hell does she really know about any of them?? Good fucking Christ.

There's a brief glance upward… she's wet enough now in the light rain that she's getting cold. But instead of leaving the rooftop she waits until she's sure he's gone before sinking down to sit, her knees pulled to her chest with her face buried in them. Up here, no one will hear her crying.

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