Off The Edge Of The Map


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Scene Title Off the Edge of the Map
Synopsis Uncharted waters are the deepest and most dangerous places to play. Atticus begins his crash course in just how deep those waters are. And Jared Harrison gets a surprise.
Date October 15, 2018

RayTech Conference Room

Although much of the day-to-day activity is handled by staff, Jared Harrison is a familiar face in the RayTech halls. The older man walks with a slight limp, sometimes using a cane to assist and sometimes not — wet days like today do tend to see the cane make an appearance. The man is notorious for being well-dressed, though rumor has it he doesn't expect his staff to wear the suits and such unless they're in court or speaking with clients. Khakis and a button down shirt with sleeves rolled to the elbows are the norm for him. Casual but very proper.

Today finds him sitting in one of the large rooms with windows overlooking the low rooftops of the buildings next door — his office faces the hideously loud construction zone on the other side of the building and it's driving him batshit crazy. With a cup of coffee sitting on the table in front of him, he has several files spread out across the flat surface and is making notes when the glass doors to the room open to admit the newest arrival.

Sharp blue eyes take the man in, weighing and in short order apparently making his own judgements on the CEO's new bodyguard. "Coffee's fresh," he offers mildly, gesturing toward the counter.

It's funny, when people know you can teleport, they seem to expect it all the time - or totally forget what it means. Atticus learned very early on not to get into the habit of just popping in anywhere he felt like. So, while it's usually damned tempting to simply appear in front of the coffee when it's that time…he walks in, taking the stairs and eschewing the elevator, generally making the whole process that much more 'normal'.

So, Atticus walks into the room and alters his trajectory towards the coffee, moving as he usually does with an understated and restrained sense of power and competence, always the prowling big cat amongst potential prey..or bigger cats. Fixing himself a mug, straight black, the man dressed in a pair of slacks and a simple plain white button down dress shirt that are both cut loose enough to allow their owner complete freedom of movement, lifts his mug in a small salute towards Jared and nods slightly, "Thanks. Generally decent around here even when it's not fresh… but waste not want not, or some such, right?"

There's a brief smirk at that, an expression perhaps used to hide a subtle flinch at the accent that hits his ears. "Damn well better be decent coffee. It's the only reason they get to keep me around and actually on duty around here — it was a hiring condition." The older man is obviously joking, though a close look at his features might give away weariness. RayTech has lost one of its own in recent months and then just weeks ago lost that same woman's whole family. It's taking a toll. But he offers his hand, standing up at his chair politely.

"You're Richard's bodyguard," he says easily. "It's good to meet you. Jared Harrison." He gestures for Atticus to feel free to join him as he resumes his seat, a bit stiffly. "How are you enjoying the position so far?" Amusement crinkles his eyes when Jared asks, "I haven't heard that he's ditched you yet. Have I missed it?" He might have a small bet going with Luther Bellamy, the head of security, and Kaylee Ray-Thatcher about how long it will take.

"Atticus McCallan." Atticus replies as he takes the other man's invitation to sit, quirking a touch of a smile at the general feel of the office's view on his ability to keep up with his new boss. Settling into a seat he relaxes back into it, taking a moment to savor a sip or two of coffee before he looks to the other man. "Well, over all, I think it'll manage to ensure that I'm not bored. The man does seem to like to try and be a bit of everywhere. " A pause, a quirk of a smile, "It just so happens that I'm damned near purpose built to keep up with someone, if I really want to."

Some more coffee, and apparently that was enough caffeine to jump start Atticus' mind, "Harrison. Related to Liz?" he asks, the tone's a careful one, hard to ask something like that nicely about a dead potential relative, but..

Sitting back in his seat, Jared grins in amusement. "Pretty sure it's one of the reasons you got the job," he admits on a chuckle. Keeping up with Richard Ray is challenging. He picks up his coffee to sip it and goes still, blue eyes cutting upward over the rim of his cup. The laser-bright focus and the eyes themselves might actually be familiar. He swallows his coffee and sets his cup down before responding.

"Yes," the older man acknowledges, his gaze thoughtful. The present tense might seem out of place. "Do I want to know how well you know my daughter?" As he asks, there's a sense of something … like he he's genuinely unsure he wants that answer but can't not ask.

Atticus allows a bit more of a smile to touch the corners of his mouth, but doesn't quite chuckle, and nods slightly. "I get that general impression. I doubt I'll ever really have cause to complain about boredom or a lack of variety in scenery." He glances down into his mug, then lifts it, taking a few quick swallows to drain what must be most of the rest of the contents before he replies to the other man's question in turn.

"Not so well as you seem to think I might." Atticus says with a bit of a more genuine smile, lifting a hand slightly to signal he's more to say and forestall a reply. "The question makes it pretty clear that she didn't hide just how big a heart she had from you…and my answer's not meant to cast any aspersions her way. " A pause, "We worked together, though not for long, and just before the balloon went up at the beginning of the war. Wasn't much time for anything much closer than that, even if there was interest."

Oh… oh my. That is not what a father wants to hear — and not what Jared was asking. His cheekbones color a rather deep hue at the response and he starts to laugh. Partially from embarrassment but partially from the casual way Atticus just threw out onto the table some rather private information. "Hrm. How to respond to that. First… fathers don't want to know that. Second… Well, my daughter hid a great many secrets. I was asking if you'd been one of her and Richard's team of people before it all went to hell. Though I gather from your response, the answer is no." He's genuinely amused. "The rest — that's between you and my daughter, young man."

Picking up his coffee cup, Jared chuckles into it, taking a long swallow. A tilt of his head accompanies the lowering of the vessel. "It's been interesting, meeting the people who worked with her over the years," he acknowledges. "Did you know her through the FBI or the NYPD?" At least, those two are his assumptions.

Atticus .. doesn't blush, but there may be a touch of chagrin in his expression and he gives a bit of a shrug, "Well, that wasn't the first time I've been way too fu.. damned blunt. Like I said, we were friends, good ones given the time we had I think, and no… I'd only just met her with her work at the Frontline. I was in the FBI at the time, however."

After finishing off his coffee the big man continues, "Your daughter .. was one hell of a woman, Jared, the honor was sure mine in the getting a chance to get to know her, and work with her." A bit of a pause, then a more direct glance at the man, "I'm sorry, though, if my bloody damned tongue caused you an embarrassment or offense. None was meant."

"Pffft," Jared retorts, laughing outright. "I appreciate blunt. I'll take blunt any day of the week over pussyfooting around. And I'm not offended. I've come to find out that there were some surprising things in my daughter's life, but she's an adult and it's her life. I just try to keep clear of the more personal aspects, since that gets into awkward territory." In the years since her death, he's learned a great many things about his daughter that he sometimes wishes he didn't have to know.

He looks up at Atticus, though, with a smile. "Thank you for that. It's nice to meet people who knew her at her work and thought well of her. She seemed to enjoy the job and the people she worked with. Kinda blew me away when she detonated that career," he admits. It was very public and very messy when she blew up that life, being considered a terrorist and all. "Hindsight is an amazing thing, though." A war no one knew existed and his offspring was in the front lines doing what she could. He's proud of her, that's clear.

“If it helps, that was the biggest fight we ever had,” observes Richard from the doorway in rueful tones, “It was probably the biggest mistake she made, too, but I wasn’t going to stop her once she’d made up her mind. There was a lot of yelling involved, though.”

A chuckle spills past his lips as he walks in, gesturing with one hand, “She never would change her mind when she was set on something. Much like certain other Harrisons I could name.”

The voice from the doorway brings Jared's head around, a clear affection for the owner evident in the faint grin that quirks up one side of his mouth. "I have no idea to what you're referring, Richard," the older man retorts, tongue firmly lodged in his cheek. "My daughter never yells." Kicks in doors. Steamrolls over obstacles. Levels city blocks when necessary, apparently. He considers and then grins. "You must have royally torqued her jaw to get her to yell. When Carina got to the point of yelling, it was… epic," he chuckles.

A glint is visible in his expression as Jared mulls a thought over for a few moments and then nods rather decisively. "I might have to yell when she gets home," he decides. "Did she yell at you for eating a nuke?" The query is aimed mainly at Richard, but he glances between the men in the room. "Seems to me, I didn't get to yell when she almost got killed sniping at HF fuckers or when she hared off to Russia and Antarctica and nearly died or when she detonated her life and then jumped into a black hole and was presumed dead before I even knew there was a war on. I'm thinking I'm kind of entitled to yell just a little when she gets back."

"From the comparatively short time I knew her, I'd have to say I agree with you Jared. She did seem to skip right past the yelling to the .. removing of obstacles." Atticus says with a chuckle as he shifts slightly in his seat to glance at Richard, offering his boss a nod in greeting, without any outward hint of surprise at the man's sudden and relatively quiet arrival.

The fairly blatant statement Jared makes at the potential liveliness of Liz does elicit the surprise that he failed to show a moment before. Despite Atticus's blunt nature, this doesn't appear to be something he's quite ready to comment on without a bit more context. So, after a glance to Richard and then back at Jared he says.. "Back?" A pause.. "And that other shite? Nukes, and all that… we'll have to get back to that too."

“It was probably— no, definitely— the worst fight we ever had,” admits Richard with a slow shake of his head, “A lot of yelling on both sides. She risked everything she and I had been building on a roll of the dice, and it came up snake-eyes.” His tone regretful, “Things might’ve gone differently if she hadn’t, but… I understand why she took the risk.”

The mention of the nuke, the black hole, and Liz ‘getting back’’ earns Jared a pained look. His hands spread a little as he deadpans, “Just cut me open a little deeper for my secrets, why don’t you, Harrison? I don’t think you’ve spilled enough on the table…” Despite the words, he’s not really angry, more exasperated.

He looks back to Atticus, then, silent a moment as he considers how to phrase things before saying in careful tones, “Assuming all goes well, we should have her back in this superstring at the end of the year.”

A single brow climbs the older man's forehead and Jared gives Richard the same calm look he always gives when he learns about new Crazy Things. "This man," he replies in his own version of exasperation — very hard to tell — "is your bodyguard, son. He's signed airtight nondisclosure agreements. I know — I wrote them. You haven't gotten him up to speed on the weird shit that goes down around us yet?" Because let's be honest — it's far more likely the bodyguard is going to take a bullet in this job than in some others right now. It's a very real fear for Jared Harrison that he'll lose the only family that remains to him.

The lawyer rolls his eyes expressively, his vague amusement obvious as he picks up his coffee cup to take a sip. "You eating a nuke is not a secret. And my daughter not being dead isn't exactly classified information nor a secret — it's just an unknown to most," he points out logically. "Though it definitely should not be out in the streets," he concedes. "Grab a cup of coffee. You're much better at explaining the basics of what happened than I will ever be."

Jared points at Atticus with one finger of the hand that holds his mug, commenting almost lazily, "Break the NDA, and I will crush you." Mostly joking, but not really — there is an underlying steel in the glance at Atticus McCallen that is not unfamiliar.

The bodyguard just looks from his employer, to the lawyer that wrote all the aforementioned NDA's, and back again and gives the same sort of shrug every SpecWar guy gives when the mission changes due to 'unforeseen gaps in intelligence'. Atticus gets up, the motion smooth and with a motion that proclaims his fitness almost more than simply looking at him might. Taking his mug towards the coffee pot he fills it again and only then does he look at the other two men with a look that's all too well designed to just wait for the other shoe to drop.

"Superstring? You're going to have to dumb it down for those with an IQ of something less than in excess of the SAT scores kids crow about here..or used to anyway."

“I’m pretty sure it would be classified if the government knew about it, but…” Richard steps over to the coffee pot, waiting for Atticus to be finished before pouring his own, “You know how they are.”

Black, three sugars, and he brings it up to inhale the aroma of, his eyes closing. “Back in twenty-eleven, we assumed Elisabeth died because… well, who the fuck would survive leaping into an active singularity? Nothing survives a black hole.”

Hazel eyes open, and he notes, “Turns out, science fiction was right on this one. Instead of dying, her and Varlane were shunted into an alternate timeline— and before you ask, yes, we’ve dealt with time travel and alternate timelines before. I’ve known a handful of Evolved who can walk through time like you can move through space.”

One hand sweeps towards Jared’s table, and he walks in that direction, “You remember the cabin we went to? Redhouse’s place? One of my specialties is analysis of precognitive data - gathering all the paintings, songs, and poems that the seers tend to spit out and using them to determine if there’s any necessity to intervene in an oncoming event.”

Which, really, doesn’t sound much like something a business would do.

Wait for it. Waaaait for it. The lawyer simply leans back in his chair, his hand cradling his mug as he props his ankle up on his knee casually. Atticus won't be as much fun to watch as perhaps some others — the man is far too laid back — but it amuses him to see people's reactions to the insanity that has become his own life.

"Time travel sucks. The Prime Directive is also useless," he observes. And the corners of his bright blue eyes crinkle as he grins and compliments Richard, "You're getting really good at the short-short version."

Atticus is a soldier. He's a good soldier, and one that clearly didn't simply sign up because he couldn't do anything other than be aggressive and follow orders. Still, Richard's revelations take more than a few moments for the big Aussie to process, start to process. The other two men can likely see it in his eyes and tell just by how long it is before Atticus says anything at all, but when he does he clearly has put his 'soldier on' face in place.

"So, in short, Liz is alive though you've not mentioned specific proofs you have of that. Alternate 'universes' or timelines, or whatever the fuck you want to call them exist. I just signed on to be the bodyguard for a guy that reads fuckin' tea-leaves in an attempt to save the world from potentially multiple different futures." Atticus says, ticking the 'points' off on the fingers of one hand as he goes, then he directs those bright blue eyes at one man and then the other. "I suppose I'm not fuckin' surprised that isn't in the job advertisement."

“Don’t get me started on time travel,” Richard mutters against the edge of his coffee cup as he takes a sip of it, and then he’s easing down into a chair at the table, leaning back and stretching one foot out a bit as he makes himself comfortable. “And I’ve had to, Harrison, I have to tell that bit so often these days…”

He flashes a grin over to Atticus, “More or less. Before you go searching for an exit clause on your contract, though, I’ll point out that people used to look at me like that when I explained to them that the government had been seized by a militant anti-Evolved faction, and that there was a conspiracy going back decades hiding secrets about the Evolved.”

The coffee cup’s motioned a bit towards the teleporter, “There are more things under Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophies, to quote the Bard. And you haven’t even gotten very far down the rabbit hole yet.”

Jared is hard-pressed not to laugh at the deadpan expression that Atticus employs as he ticks off the points made. He tries to hide his shit-eating grin behind his coffee cup but well… not quite succeeding there. The laughter that brightens up the lawyer's blue eyes also takes the shadow of the past several weeks away, leaving the older man for a few minutes here looking far younger, more like the man Richard first met. By the end, his shoulders are shaking but he's managing to keep his chuckles stifled and sips his coffee.

"To be fair," Jared comments mildly as he sets his cup down, the wicked twinkle of mirth still clearly evident, "he's actually not lying. He was Chicken Little… and the sky really was falling, but no one wanted to hear it." The observation comes with a thump as he sets his cup on the table. "And just for the record? Wonderland holds many horrors." He absently turns his cup in a circle on the table. "And the rabbit hole goes a long fucking way down," he says quietly. Right on into other timelines. "And to top it all off, ya gotta wonder what havoc Alice is wreaking out there. Cuz my daughter's never exactly been the subtle sort." It makes him snort a laugh again. "Are we at the end of that metaphor, ya think?"

Atticus just stands there for another moment or two as his summary is effectively confirmed, then just gives a shake of his head as the epitome of the soldier's 'Fuck, there it goes again, all fuckin' to hell', look crosses his face in an all too readable flash.

"Right. So, Alice in Wonderland, Rabbit holes, 'down under' will play in there as well, I'm sure. I signed on, though, because I got tired of sitting on my ass and watching the grass grow. Turns out I just can't leave fuckin' well enough alone, so .. nope, not searchin' for an exit clause anytime soon."

Then he turns those eyes on Richard, his gaze hardening, the 'drill sergeant' no bull-shit and I can see right through to your soul look taking precedence now. "That said, I can't keep you alive if you treat me like a gods fuckin' damned mushroom. I need to know what we're walkin/portin'/jumpin'/flyin'/whatever the hellin' into, or you're gonna find yourself back behind that desk of yours instead of where it is you wanted to be..again and again and again."

“I like him,” Richard comments to Jared with a smile, even as he meets that hardened drill sergeant gaze steadily over the edge of his coffee cup, “And I can promise never to send or lead you into somewhere without a proper briefing— and I mean a proper briefing. I don’t leave out anything that could potentially be dangerous unless I honestly don’t know about it.”

He takes a sip of his coffee, admitting, “Of course, half the time I have no fucking idea what’s waiting for me, but I excel at improvisation, if that helps.”

“And,” he notes with a sidelong glance to Jared, “Be glad for your metaphor, since we got Dorothy to bring back a message from Alice not too long ago.”

Jared laughs outright at both Atticus's response and then Richard's answer to it. "He'll fit right in," he tells Richard, knocking on the table with his knuckles a couple of times. "I'll have to put up the new betting pool on whether or when he'll actually have to play that game with you. It'll amuse the hell out of me to watch it."

And then the lawyer goes very still, his blue eyes cutting sideways and piercing Richard with that intense focus so like his daughter's. "What?" No more humor, no more laughing, the older man has literally gone completely still. If one didn't know better, they might think he's holding his breath.

"Shit happens, and things go tits-up all the time. Don't sugar coat things, tell me what you know before we get hip deep in it, and I'll roll with the punches. All a person can ask." Atticus says, and then apparently decides he's spoken enough for the moment… been damned wordy by his usual standards actually and turns to refill his coffee while keeping an ear to the ground for this Alice/Dorothy/Alternate reality/Multi-Timeline/DC/Marvel/Who the fuck knows shit.

“I’m not a big fan of sugar. If anything I tend to lean in the pessimistic direction…” Richard turns his head to regard Jared, then, a faint smile curving to his lips. Then he straightens and leans forward, reaching out a hand towards the older man’s work. “Paper and pen, if you could?”

Once it’s handed over, he sets it down on the table and applies pen to paper. He draws five lines next to one another, explaining, “This middle line— “ He draws a ‘P’ at the bottom of it, “— is us, this is the timeline we’re in. I call it ‘Prime’ out of sheer ego, since to us, it’s what matters. Liz and Magnes will be travelling through the other four before they reach us.”

The first he notates as ‘V’. “This is the timeline where Phoenix failed to stop the Vanguard from releasing their bioweapon. Most of the planet is dead of the viral plague, it’s not a cheery place— they passed through there already, thank God. The videotape that slipped between worlds showed this one.”

The next, ‘B’. “This is Arthur Petrelli’s supposed ‘bright future’ — that’s built on the bones of his enemies. It’s a secret fascist hell polished up to look pretty. Recently someone slipped between worlds and spent some time there…”

A look over the table, brows lifting, “With Liz and our daughter.”

Although the woman more resembles her mother than her father, there are moments where it is brutally obvious that this man is Elisabeth's father. Mostly in the way he watches things, the way he processes them and the Look he sometimes gets. He has one of those now, as Richard starts to draw. His focus is intent on what's being laid out on the paper, his brows pulled together while he leans on his elbows to study the simple map. He nods, a precise, quick movement that indicates his understanding.

And then Richard drops that bomb. For several long seconds, Jared nods slightly. And then he pauses, visibly backtracking in his own head and re-watching the last several seconds of mental footage. He blinks. His face is frozen in neutral lines while he parses what he just heard.

And then his jaw clenches. Jared tips his head sideways a little, as if cracking his neck, and moves to stand up. The silence is similar to what happened the day Richard told him that his daughter was still alive. Somewhere lost in a timeline not their own. The older man walks from the table to the wide windows on the wall that overlook Richard's garden, several floors below on a lower rooftop, and leans on the sill there with both hands. "Would you mind repeating that, son? Because I … can't possibly have heard you right."

The smile’s faded, and Richard’s gaze drops down to the paper— adding a ‘W’ and a ‘F’ to the list of timelines, of ‘superstrings’ as he often calls them. The tip of the pen adding small notations, harder to see without drawing closer to the paper, as he speaks.

“Aurora,” he says quietly, “Apparently she was pregnant on the Alaska mission. Either didn’t know, or— didn’t want to admit it for fear of being left behind. I don’t know. I’m told she’s fine, she’s happy…”

It takes him another few moments of struggling with emotional overload before Jared can turn back around. "Of course she's not happy," he tells Richard with a small smile. "How can she be happy running willy-nilly around the universe trying to get your child home safely?" That's just silly talk. "But… they're both healthy, then. And… doing well. OR… well enough." He swallows hard and comes back over, trying not to let that telltale glitter of tears become some waterfall of ridiculous emotions as he sits back down.

Putting a hand on Richard's forearm, his grip firm, he ignores the map on the table for a moment. "Given your smile when you sprang it on me, I'd say you're pretty happy." But happy doesn't always mean 'okay' either. Those blue eyes, so like his daughter's, inspect Richard's expression with sharp focus despite his own damp face. "But are you okay? You've…. Kept quiet on this for a bit, so…" The younger man must have needed some time to come to grips. But the older man can't help a faint grin. "Congratulations. That's the second time you've tried to give me a heart attack," he teases gently.

“I’ve got to keep up with you somehow, Harrison,” Richard replies with a slight, crooked smile, one hand coming over to clasp on the hand on his arm, “And— frankly I didn’t know how to bring up the subject, I mean, Christ…”

A shake of his head, nose wrinkling, “I’m not okay though, no, my daughter’s out there in the middle of God-knows-what right now, and— well. I’m doing what I can. All I can. So long as they can get here…” He sweeps his hand over, tapping the ‘F’ line, “That’s the end. From there, with my mother’s help, we can get them home.”

He hopes.

Jared can't help it, he snickers faintly at the 'my daughter's out there in the middle of God-knows-what.' If anyone understands that sentiment, it's definitely the lawyer. A single quirk of his eyebrow conveys his amusement. "Welcome to my world." He squeezes Richard's arm and brings both hands up to drag them down and then back up his face, over his hair, and then leans his elbows on the table again as he blows out a slow breath.

He'll deal with the comment about Richard's mother in a minute or two, when he backtracks over this again and realizes that slipped through the cracks of his shock. But he pauses and looks at Richard. "Aurora, huh?" There's a moment where Jared has to chuckle softly. "You know… I thought she outgrew Disney." Liz might not live it down.

"Alright… so explain to me these other two lines," he tells Richard, glancing at Atticus to jerk his head so the other man joins this map expedition. "You better be paying attention, young man. My daughter and granddaughter hang in the balance here. We gotta get you up to speed — might need a handy dandy teleporter to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Because God knows, around here, we're always cutting it down to the wire, it seems." He jerks his chin at Richard and says in a stage whisper to Atticus, "I think he craves the adrenaline of it." Sage nod.

"That doesn't surprise me." Atticus says to Jared, after having simply remained quiet and unobtrusive while the other two men talked. You wouldn't think a man of his size and build could 'disappear' in a room, but.. It's a trick of just the right kind of stilness, of lack of 'impact' on the room, and just minimizing one's perceived presence.

After walking over to take a seat with the others, Atticus settles into place and looks at the drawing whilst taking a sip from his newly refreshed coffee. "Just so we're clear. This is way the hell outta my realm of understanding. I'll do whatever I need to - I like you both, Raytech, and well.. Liz is damned fine people - but I'm not the 'figgure the shit out' type so much as the 'go get'm, or go kill'm' type.

“Thank God for that,” Richard allows in wry tones as he looks up to Atticus, brows lifting a little, “I could use a little less double-guessing in my life lately, and I can absolutely use someone that can do both of those things, sometimes…”

The pen’s plucked back up, and he taps the next line. “This— this is the one I’m worried about,” he admits with a frown as he looks at it, “The Wasteland. This is where the Civil War didn’t happen, and things just kept— getting worse. This is the one where Humanis won in the end. The kids— the next generation, a bunch of them came back in time to change it.”

He flickers a look to Jared, “Along with the head of the Institute.”

Back to the lines, he shakes his head, “Our last— communication from that timeline suggested that the version of me there was less of an asshole in this iteration, also that he was dead. Humanis was strong and Mayes was in control of the country. And trying to find a way through the Looking Glass to come here with her army of fucking robots but we’ll deal with that later. One thing at a time.”

If Jared's feeling a little called out about the double-guessing… you'd never know it from the innocent face. However, when Richard slants him the look with regard to the head of the Institute and time-traveling next generations, there is a flash of something shared between the two men. That is a story it took literally years to get told in its entirety, and it still blows Jared's mind even now.

Pulling in a slow breath, the lawyer leans back in his chair with a thoughtful look, and it's clear that he's running scenarios in his head. "Mayes and her cadre were pretty smart but as far as I knew they were never actually privy to any of the time-traveling or dimension-hopping bullshit," he says, rubbing his fingers along his jaw as he crosses one arm over his chest to rest his other elbow on it. "But you're saying in that timeline, they did have access because all of Warren's and whoever else that robot guy in South America was, they had access? What's the actual probability that they'll be able to re-create Looking Glass?"

He pauses, and then thinks to ask, "Richard… I'm assuming here that Virus, at least, couldn't have had that tech available. So it's occurred to me suddenly…. how the hell are Liz and whoever she's got with her traveling? You said Magnes opened the black hole, but wasn't that situation sort of a cataclysm of Looking Glass being destabilized and Magnes's power put together here? How the fuck are they jumping timelines now that they're out there?"

He pauses, and now it hits him. "And holy shit… your…. your mother is alive in this last one?" Because that's kind of huge, not because the woman it the hyperbrain behind dimension-hopping (he's been reading up on Einstein!) but because of the impact that has to be having on Richard too.

"Just point me in the right direction..and stay behind me, or at least let me pretend to have a chance to get between you and the danger you hired me to keep you out of." Atticus says with a quirk of a smile that just touches one corner of his mouth.

Then he goes quiet again, there's so much here that he really just needs to absorb and file away for reference later. Not much point in him commenting on history/alternate reality/people he doesn't even have the faintest idea about.

“I’m not sure,” Richard admits, “They either have a form of the Looking Glass that they’re using, or… well, there are some combinations of abilities that could theoretically be used to leap strings.” The tip of his pen taps on the paper a few times, “I’m guessing it’s the latter. It’d explain why they can’t aim very well…”

A purse of his lips, then, and he glances up to Jared. “Yeah,” he says then, quietly, “Not just a version of my mother, either.”

My mother is alive. And my biological sister.”

The older man at first doesn't understand the distinction. That's what he just said, right? But he's learned enough over the years to understand that when Richard uses that tone about something, what he's saying isn't quite what you think he's saying, so Jared takes the time to consider. And when the implications become more clear, his brows both shoot up his forehead.

"You… think this is the proof you've been looking for… that this is the timeline that you were born to," he says quietly. There's a lot to sort of unpack in that belief, but … it's not even the strangest thing he's ever heard, this man whose daughter jumped into a black fucking hole. His tone is measured as he finally works his way through his own thoughts. "Richard…"

Letting his breath out in a slow sigh, Jared gets up and moves to refill his coffee cup this time. Wishing he had a shot … or 12… of Jameson's to throw in it. When he turns back to look at the two men sitting at the table, he leans back against the countertop with his mug held firmly in one hand, his other arm once more crossed over his chest. "All right," he draws out slowly. "You realize Atticus's brain is chewing on every bit of this and he's trying to decide which list of questions to hurl out first, right?" The comment is very dry, typical of Jared when he's launched someone into a situation guaranteed to break their brain or make them one of ours.

His blue eyes on Richard, however, are very serious indeed. "Let me throw out here a starter list." And he does hold up his other hand to forestall answers just yet. "And it's fine if we don't have the answers yet, but these are the ones that come to my mind immediately. And don't get pissed." He'll write a list and make Richard answer more later. "One… assuming you're right about where Liz and the others are… do we have any way to know when they jump again into this place your mother is? Two… if you're right about who she is… can she actually be trusted to help our folks get home?" He pauses a moment, and asks quietly, "And are we worried to what lengths she could go to get you to go there instead? Because God knows, were I in her shoes, I'd probably try like hell to get you home." He lets that thought hang there a moment and then tosses out there, "Three… I know you said there's been contact but that was in the other timeline, yeah? So.. how much contact, if any, have we had from that final one? And… do we have enough information on this end to make an educated guess on whether she can be trusted at all? She was the brains behind the machine in the first place and the Company wanted her… do we know she didn't take that route in this other world?"

There's a .. somewhat bemused, hmm, maybe not quite that, but not really shell-shocked look either, on Atticus's face as he tries to process all of this. He doesn't even really have enough context, or had enough processing time, to parse out even enough detail to know when to be amused, shocked, scared, or .. worried about just how much he signed up for.

Instead he just chuckles and shakes his head at Jared, "Like I told Richard, Jared, at this point.. I'm the guy that keeps Richard alive. Or, potentially, the one sent after or into the really dangerous spots first. I need to know what I'm gettin' into, or defending against, near term. Trying to wrap my tiny little soldier's brain around the big picture and think strategically about this shit right now? That's just not on the fuckin' menu."

“Sorry, Atticus.” Richard gives his bodyguard a wry look, “My life is… complicated, to say the least.”

The pen taps against the paper, and he shakes his head, staring at the lines. “We have no way of knowing when she jumps, no. Contact isn’t— reliable. We spoke with Michelle briefly during the last solar event, but— we can’t force the sun to change its conditions. We can trust her to try and open the door from her side, but— no, we don’t know her motivations, we don’t know her loyalties…”

A sidelong look, a faint smile, “Sarisa Kershner was her cousin, though, and assuming genetics that should tell you a lot. She’ll do what she needs to in order to reach her goal, and— The pen drops, and he rubs a hand between his eyes, “Her goal is her family. Just like mine. Reunion is both of our goals.”

He doesn’t say which side of the portal they’re all likely to end up on. He doesn’t know, after all.

There's a long silence while Jared considers what's been said — including the relationship to Kershner. The lawyer's opinion of The Shark is…. sharp-edged, given Liz's exposure to her. "Hmmmm." He sips his coffee and his blue eyes crinkle at the corners when he lowers his cup and grins that wry grin Richard knows well. "Let's hope she doesn't share too much with her cousin… I can't imagine Elisabeth's going to be putting up with too much bullshit on that front after all these years of whatever is going on out there."

He pauses and asks quietly, "The world that the head of the Institute and those kids came from… was pretty bad, but that was still farther ahead in time. Do you think… alternate versions of friends will still be friendly enough to help them?" In other words…. how screwed are their loved ones?

"Sorry's for when it's your fault. Pretty sure this isn't." Atticus says, quirking a bit of a smile, but otherwise remaining quiet. It's clear the man is listening, attentive and thoughtful, but this is what amounts to a 'briefing' to him of history, past events, and it's a hell of a lot to get mentally organized enough to even begin asking questions about. So, the giant of a man sits there and listens - the questions are all too likely to come later, and at random.

“Most of them should be,” Richard admits, leaning back and bringing both hands up to rub over his face, “Most of them should be, and… if there’s one thing I can credit Liz for, it’s her adaptability to unexpected situations. I have faith in her.”

He looks between the two, then, “Any questions? Otherwise I have a sudden urge to go play with my kids.”

Jared shakes his head immediately. "Go," he encourages the younger man quietly. Richard's given him another piece of the situation to think about and hashing through it all at once is not useful — they just don't have the answers. And he needs time to process that his daughter has had a daughter of her own and is out there God only knows where dealing with God only know what horrors. Alone. With her child. "Give then hugs for me," he says with a small smile. "I'll see them tomorrow for dinner."

Bringing his coffee cup with him, he resumes his seat in front of the paperwork he has spread on the table. "Welcome to the deep, Atticus." The older man slants a glance at the giant bodyguard and that smile doesn't quite reach the blue eyes he bequeathed to his daughter. "You're off the edge of the map, mate. Here there be monsters."

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