Personal Security


alec_icon.gif cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Personal Security
Synopsis Prepping to retake her life, there are parts that need tweaking.
Date Aug 31, 2009

Elisabeth's Apartment, Dorchester Towers

It's not like she was sleeping anyway, so in the wee hours of Monday morning Elisabeth decided she wanted to go back to her apartment. All her work clothes are there anyway, and she has to show up at work this morning. Richard's made a point of being as accomodating as any shadow man ever, and he warned her that he let Alec into her apartment over the weekend to look over the security protocols he already had in place and make them as much better as he could without literally destroying the place. She can only assume he also told Alec why, though he didn't specifically say so.

As she steps into her apartment, Elisabeth is both pale and sweaty. She glances around her apartment VERY carefully, listening to all the sounds of it, before finally closing the door behind her. She locks every bolt Alec has on that door, and then she calls upstairs to tell him to give her half an hour … and then please come down and talk to her about the security system before she goes to the precinct. By the time she lets him come in, there's coffee on and she's dressed…. and armed. It's rare that she's actually wearing a shoulder holster in the house. "Hey," she greets him quietly. Her blonde hair, now barely skimming shoulder length instead of the mid-back mass he's used to, is still slightly damp, as if she only took the time to blow dry it enough to make it not soaked.

Alec steps inside the door and walks past her all the way across the room before turning to watch her relock everything. He doesn't say anything for a moment, "Howdy." he says after a second. Then it's gone, whatever that fleeting expression was, it vanishes, leaving only the regular grinning Alec in it's place. But Liz knows him better then anyone still breathing, there's something hidden, blocked away behind almost perfect masks. The fact that she can still tell is a testament to how potent whatever it is is. "I wouldn't have gone that far with the cut job, but it suits you." he points at her hair, "You should play with some deep highlights, maybe a touch of brown or strawberry." Everything is normal, completely ordinarly ho hum.

Her hand goes self-consciously to her hair, unable to stop the pained expression. "I'll think about it," she comments quietly. "So, uhm…. coffee?" It's a strain to try to be 'normal', but … not as much of one as she thought. Not here, in this space. And that maybe is the one thing that makes her hope that she'll get beyond this. For the first time since she left the safehouse, she actually feels…. safe. In spite of the paranoia that they may come for her here, she feels safe in her own home.

Alec nods his head, "Sure." he takes a seat near the kitchen, but not /near/ the kitchen. He moves slowly, purposefully, nothing sudden or jerky, never doing anything unexpected or quick. It's all very careful, very normal, and very very unthreatening. He's quiet good at unthreatening, it's part of his job after all. His OTHER job. "So, what do you want to know?"

Elisabeth watches him move, only realizing as he sits down that she's watching him like she expects him to …. what? Lunge at her? That's ridiculous. But she's realizing that she's doing it a lot — watching everyone she knows, even the people she trusts, with that sense of expectation. When her blue eyes flicker back up to his face, she also realizes… that he gets it. And that, too, brings a complex mix of shame and anger, emotions that she can't quite hide. Everything seems so close to the surface — she thought she had a thicker skin than this. Moving to pour coffee for them both, her hand trembles. "Richard said that you thought you could… enhance the security of the place. Does that just mean putting in an actual monitored system, or…?"

Alec nods his head, "I did that already. I havn't turned it on yet, wanted you aware of what I had done." he points slowly to the vents in the room, "Pin hole cameras in every vent and in the smoke alarm. They're motion activated, run on the IR spectrum so they'll work at night. The monitor for them is in your room, in the closet behind the dresses that I liked. Complete with a manual and controls. They'll work even when you're not here, you can burn anything you want to DVD or a flash drive if you need them for evidence, and it has one button erase, if you didn't want a record of something there. Similar system to the one in my place, but no microphones. Figured you didn't want something recording sound in your joint so…" he shrugs, "Also put a cross bar on the door, take an explosive charge to get through, Swat ram or shooting out the hinges won't work on that sumbitch. Oh. And I fixed your dishwasher, it was leaking hot water from a busted seal."

She brings him the coffee, fixed like he likes it, and sets it in front of him as he talks. Liz's attention is on not spilling it, but she nods slightly to each of his add-ons to the security they talked about. She keeps a careful distance between them, unconscious of it until he moves to take the cup and she goes still. DAMMIT! Clearing her throat, she asks in a level — if slightly strained to keep it that way — voice, "What do I owe you for it?" Her mind slips away to calculate what she's got in her savings. The original security upgrades were a pretty penny, after all.

Elisabeth adds belatedly with a faint grin, "Thanks for the dishwasher leak."

Alec snorts, "I did all that for about two fifty at Lowes and another four hundred at Radio Shack. Pay me back when you feel like it, no hurry." Alec is a whiz with this sort of stuff, building, fixing, MacGyver'ing, whatever. He can do lots with little if need be. "Not a problem. Oddly enough that took the longest time, fucking seal was all the way in the back behind the rack wheels. You'd have loved it. Had my ass all up in the air, soaked my t-shirt through, but the time I came out I looked down right sexy."

She actually laughs. The sound comes out of her mouth, and Elisabeth actually looks startled. It might be the first time she's really laughed out loud since last week. "As much as I hate to puncture your ego, handsome, these days your downright sexy sex appeal just isn't doing it for me," she teases mildly. "Not for lack of sexiness on your part, though — chalk it up to … I don't know. Chemistry."

Alec sticks his tongue out at her, "Your problem is that all the mystery is gone now. You know all my secrets and it turns out I'm all cuddly and fluffy deep down. No longer bad boy enough to grab your attention and quicken that ol' heart beat. Shame. No one does a wet t-shirt like I do."

"Not bad boy enough, hrm…?" Elisabeth eyes the 'other' thief in her life, the faint grin at least lightening the shadows in her eyes at least slightly. "I think most of the bad boys in my life have turned out to be … something other than hardcore bad boys," she admits. "I like the cross-bar. If SWAT will have a hard time of it, I'm guessing everyone else will too." She grimaces. "I need to retrieve my panic button from Abby, I think. Not that it'll do me a damn bit of good if they decide to blow my head off from afar this time," she adds bitterly.

Knock knock.

A rap of knuckles upon the recently-secured door comes three times, before falling silent.

Recently /re/secured door. It was secure before, now it's just Howitzer proofed. Anyone willing to take the door out to get to Liz would likely not go through all the trouble and simply blow up her car. Far simpler. But, it'll help her sleep a bit better at night, which is of course it's true purpose. "Also replaced the hinge with a full length doohickey intead of the standard three hinge deal." he says, buffing his nails on his shirt all in homage to his insanely high level of awesome. When the knock comes his eyes lazily curl to the door and he sips his coffee, "Need me to ninja vanish?" he asks conversationally, and quietly.

It's barely 4:15 in the morning. There's only one person it could possibly be; the bad guys wouldn't be *knocking* for heaven's sake. Then again… Cardinal's never knocked before either. But that doesn't stop Elisabeth's immediate reaction any more than expecting Alec did. She tightens up visibly, her eyes pivoting to the door with a wary, fearful expression. And then she forcibly shoves it down, her coffee sloshing onto the counter as she sets the cup down with hands that shake far more visibly than the slight tremble they've had since (before) Alec got here. "Shit," she whispers, though whether it's over spilling the coffee, slightly burning her hand with the hot beverage, or just the reaction itself might be in the air. Shaking her hand to rid it of coffee, Elisabeth shakes her head slightly. "No…. no… it's okay," she murmurs, skirting around him — still leaving a very large margin of safety between them — and peeking out the eyehole in the door to verify that it's Cardinal. And then she releases all the bolts and lets him into the place. "You never knock," she accuses in a shaky tone. "Why the fuck did you knock? You have a key! You have…. shadows!" The fact that he's done something so totally *not* him has shattered the fragile composure, and she's giving him angry face instead of breaking down in tears. Which is imminent, frankly.

"Yeah, because I'm just gonna leap out of the shadows at you right now…? Hell, you nearly pulled a gun on me a few times before all this when I popped in." Cardinal takes a step over the threshold once the door's open, giving his head a tight shake and reaching up to tap a finger to her nose— playfully teasing, though there's obvious concern in his manner for those who know how to look, "Just makin' sure you feel secure in here, Liz. That's all." A glance over, a tip of his chin up, "Hey, Bonder."

Alec salutes with his coffee cup to the new comer, a small smile on his face. He waits until Liz is facing him again before moving, which involves him getting paper towels and cleaning up the coffee while setting her cup out where she can reach it without getting to close to him.

Closing and locking the door behind him, Elisabeth gestures toward Alec. "That was his fault," she tells the man of shadows. The new hinge and the crossbar should be obvious to Cardinal — they weren't there before. "He put in cameras. Not sure I like the cameras thing — I don't need to see what you're doing out here in the middle of the night in the dark," she murmurs. She could make a crude comment about what he might be doing with Rosie and her sisters, but she bites down on that in large part because it's just bad form … and vicious besides. "Although…. might be interesting if the damn thing even picks you up in shadow form," she mulls aloud. She skirts around Richard to head back for her coffee cup with a nod of thanks to Alec, seeming far less concerned about how much space is between herself and the new arrival. "Coffee's made," she tells Cardinal. As in 'help yourself.'

"It should, it's not like I'm fuckin' invisible. Mind you, it'd probably just look like a particularly bad episode of 'Ghost Hunters'… my one concern 'bout the cameras is if the cops get their hands on them at some point," admits Cardinal, heading along over to the coffee pot at an unhurried walk, "Maybe if there's some easy way to fry the tapes just in case."

Alec smiles slightly, "I am a professional sir," he says in a really really bad Gone With The Wind accent, "I would appreciate it if you did not inpunge my honor by assuming I would so foolish." then more in his voice, "And that's also why I left out the microphones." so nyeh to you both. He finishes cleaning up, "There are no tapes, it's a closed circuit so it can't be hacked, it's all digital, hidden, and almost entirely undetectable. Hell, I didn't even make it wireless. Only way to know they're there is to /know/ they're there. I'm /very/ good at this sort of thing. Well, this and Mexican food. Seriously, I'm a wizard with a tortilla."

As she picks up her coffee cup again, Elisabeth uses her free hand to scrub at her face, struggling with the adrenaline effects of that knock. She rubs the side of her forehead absently, as if she has a headache, and says baldly, "I'm not giving a statement." Right up to this point, she's had a statement in her head… she's been working on it for two days… what to say, what to leave out… Attempting to force herself to relive pieces of time that are excruciating. And she looks toward them both with a wary expression.

"I want this man in the library yesterday," Cardinal declares dramatically, as if to a team of people, "Give him an unlimited budget, just keep in mind that if anything goes too expensive I may need to knock over a penthouse apartment or steal a few Ferraris or something…" A look over to Elisabeth, and he nods a bit, "Okay." No argument, no asking for explainations, though he does step over towards the bathroom, "Mind if I borrow your shower? The one we have rigged up sucks."

Alec goes still at that and eyes Liz for a long moment. Card's words make him blink for a moment before he eyes Liz again. Once Richard is down the hall he shrugs, "That man has a library? I didn't even know he could /read/." smirk. "You do what you think is best babe, but do me a small favor and consider the implications of not giving a statement versus giving a partial statement. People going through trauma have often suffered from retrograde amnesia." he offers as an explination, as opposed to 'no. I will tell you nothing!'.

Liz gestures with a faint, easy smile at that. "You know where the towels are," she comments. As if he even has to ask. Puh-leeze. Actually she's somewhat surprised Richard's not even going to ask her why, but at the same time…. she's relieved. And then Alec weighs in. Elisabeth's eyes slide back to him and she says softly, "And if I report that Humanis First held me for several days, tortured me, and I'm showing back up without a mark on me…. I expose the healer who helped me, because they'll be looking for him. I expose anyone who might help me lie about what I was doing when I was picked up. And they have my partner NOW in their custody. And …. " She chokes on her own words, setting the cup down. "And if I report this, maybe they'll kill him faster. Which might just be a blessing, but … I can't live with that on my conscience."

Alec listens to this and nods, "I was unaware." he says simply in an appologetic tone. "If there's anything I can do." it prolly didn't need to be said, but it was said anyway. "Even if it's just make nachoes and sleep on the couch."

Setting her coffee cup on the counter with a thump that sends it sloshing — though at least this tome not out of the cup — Elisabeth says quietly, "Me too." Damn those tears. She grabs for the paper towels and takes one to press over her face for a long moment. Sucking in a deep breath, she finally looks at him agian. "Thanks, Alec. For everything." The security, the offer… the space he's making a point to give her. She shifts gears because she needs to. "I, uhm… he's talking about the New York Public Library. He'd like you to set up security down there for them… invisible security measures. He's got… maybe half a dozen people staying in the place right now," she says, her hand crumpling that paper towel.

Elisabeth adds, "It has, in the past, been on Homeland Security's watch list … Phoenix used it for a while. If they were still watching, I think they'd have raided Edward Ray when he was in the building before this, though."

Alec ponders, "It would take a long time." he admits. "Since I'm all undercover with all of them." which means no 10 man work force or whatever he uses, "Time and money and it might be harder to hide that sort of thing. Lots of trips of supplies out that way would draw attention. Not like it's an apartment building and I can hide everything in Ikea boxes like I did with you."

Elisabeth nods slightly and shrugs a bit. "Think about the logistics." She nods toward the hall. "Talk to him. I think it's doable, and we're not talking about the level of security you put in here…. I'm guessing mostly cameras and motion sensors tied to alarms and things like that. The place is massive." She pauses and looks at him. "And I think you should trust him with your secret if you decide to do it."

Alec sighs and shakes his head, "It's my one ace in the hole, it's my ticket out if everything goes to hell. The more people that know the more at risk I am. Three of you is more then have known in my entirely life, and I've been living with this for almost two decades. Not real comfy opening up. Besides, did you hear what he said? Steal a Ferarri. Pfft. Armature. Cars? Really? He needs a role model."

There's actually another soft laugh at that. "Indeed… I suppose he does. Putting the two of you together might actually up the quotient of arrests I have to make eventually," she quips softly. And again that laughter lightens the tension in her body. Elisabeth studies Alec and says quietly, "I'd trust him with your secret before I'd trust me." Especially nowadays.

Alec shrugs, "Maybe, but then you're a better judge of character then I am. I'm just a good judge of weakness. People think they're the same thing, they're not." he eyes her, "It'll get easier." he says, a shift in conversation. "You don't feel like it will, not right now, but it will. Like ice in a thaw peices of it will break off and float away, one at a time until you're free again."

There's a snort. Better judge of character. "I'm a better judge of character? Yeah… right." Elisabeth blows out a breath. And then she looks at him and says softly, "No. I don't feel like it will. I'm … walking through this day knowing I have to go to work, and I want to puke I'm so fucking scared. Because I know that they've got people there. And I have to pretend nothing happened, knowing word's going to filter back fast that I'm alive. Someone who knows I shouldn't be is going to tell them. And then they're just going to take their shot some other time, from a distance, when I get out of the car or walk out of the building." It's not paranoia when someone really is out to get you. "And it's taking everything I have to not lock myself in this apartment and never come out again." She sighs. "But I'm going to do it, because I'll be goddamned if they take my life — as short as it's likely to be — away."

Alec takes a long slow breath and looks over his shoulder, making sure Richard is still in the shower, "They can do many many things to you Lizzie, most of them you can't do anything about, but only can give up. I'd give you horror stories and try to make a poignant argument here, but you've seen the proof. Give them /nothing/ and in time the holes will fill, the fear will fade, and one day you'll wake up and realize there were no nightmares, that you didn't reach for your gun, that you're not curled up in a little bitty ball hugging a pillow soaked with tears." he offers a small understanding smile. "Trust me." he doesn't reach out for her cause he's not an idiot and he really does understand. He pushes himself to his feet, "I'm gonna give you some time with the king of darkness back there, just try to go easy on him when he tries to hug or touch you. He prolly doesn't understand, but he'll mean well."

Elisabeth moves to walk Alec out and says quietly, "He's about the only one who can touch me at this point." And mostly that's been just holding hands. She stops near the door and says, "Let one of us know if you decide you can hack the library job." She smiles faintly for him, though it doesn't touch those blue eyes. "And for God's sake, if you feel the need to instruct him on thievery, don't tell me about it," she comments as he lets himself out. And then she locks the door behind him — all the locks — and leans back against the front door. Christ….. is she going to make it through this day? She honestly wonders.

Click. The shower's cut off, and a couple minutes pass of drying and dressing before the bathroom door's pushed open once more. "Hot water," Cardinal declares, stepping out, "That's what I miss. I need to figure out how to get that going at the library…" A look over to the closed door, "Everything go all right?"

Elisabeth still has her head leaned back against the secured front door. Her eyes were closed until she heard the water cut off, and then she shoves herself off the portal to walk back toward her coffee. She's no longer wiping her eyes by the time he opens the bathroom door. "Yeah," she tells him quietly. "He's going to think about doing the library security for you. He's got some…. issues. With the scope of the job. I'll leave you his cell phone number so the two of you can talk logistics to your hearts' content." She's proud of herself! She actually sounds almost normal!

"It is a pretty fuckin' huge building. We don't occupy all of it, but…" A shrug of one shoulder, and Cardinal walks over towards the kitchen to fetch his own coffee. He's acting fairly normal, casual even, though he's keeping a careful eye on her while trying not to show it.

She looks almost normal…. dressed in a pair of khaki pants with a soft blue scoop-necked blouse and her shoulder holster. A navy blazer will hide it well enough. But nothing can hide the watchful, wary expression in her eyes. She moves out of his way, sidling around the counter even as she trails her free hand along his back briefly. Just the touch to reassure herself. And then she picks up her cooling coffee to take a swallow. "Richard… " She trails off, unsure what to say next. The weekend was harrowing enough. Today's barely begun and her nerves are already shredded.

A cup of coffee is poured in silence, set down and then Cardinal steps back over beside her; one hand raising up to slide over her shoulder, fingers pressing down in a reassuring squeeze through her blouse. "Shh," he murmurs ever so softly, "One step at a time, Liz. One step at a time. You're doing good."

There's a faint grimace. "You keep saying that. I don't believe you, but… Keep saying it." Elisabeth can't help that she tenses when he touches her, but she reaches up to put her hand over his and twines her fingers into the ones resting there. "They're going to kill Felix," she says quietly, with certainty. "I almost hope they already have. He's been gone almost as long as I was already." She saw the news on Saturday.

She tenses, but Cardinal doesn't pull away, his hand lingering there until hers comes over it. As fingers tangle together, he says quietly, "They might. They might not. He's… high profile. They'll want to use him to make some kind've message."

"If they were going to do that, they'd have done it already," Elisabeth replies. She takes a swallow of her coffee and says quietly, "He has… a roommate. His old partner back when he was actually PD. I need to check on him." She doesn't move except to turn her head to look at him over her shoulder. "You going back to the library today, or you got things to do?" She is fighting so hard for 'normal'.

"I've got some meetings, but— " Cardinal shrugs one shoulder, "I'll be back at the library eventually. And if you need me, you know, you can call my number, okay?" He looks down to her, a faint smile curving his lips, "Anything you need."

Elisabeth nods quickly. "I know. It's early yet, but … I'm going to get Coren and Cassidy to meet me before I go in this morning. Give them…. what I can of a rundown. Since they've been covering, they're going to need to…. shit, I don't know. I'm trying to control something that's entirely out of my hands," she admits. "I don't know if I can pull this off. If I can look normal enough. Is that offer for Tahiti still open?"

Cardinal can't help a quiet chuckle to that, "I'll tell you what, if there ever stops being an imminent threat to the world for a little while, we'll go hit the tropics…" A lean over, and he presses a kiss to her temple, "You can do it."

Elisabeth leans her head into the buss. "I'd like that…. but you'd hate it," she offers, her chuckle forced. "Too much sunlight. But I could live with… Paris or Munich by night," she counters. She wants to take comfort in the closeness, leans into him for a long moment, and then she slips away from him. Except for that grip on his hand, which she merely adjusts for the movement. Her nerves are stretched to the breaking point, but like him… she's got things that need doing unless she plans on going into hiding. "If you want to go along to meet Coren and Cass, you're welcome."

"Hey, I didn't say we were going to hit the tropics during the day," Cardinal protests with a roll of his eyes, leaning back against her for a moment until she leans back— his head shaking, "Night luaus, babe. Pig roasting on the fire, girls in nothing but grass skirts and leis, oiled up shirtless guys walking around, heaven." A tilt of his head, "Mm. Maybe I shouldn't. The whole 'I'm a wanted felon' thing, they'll probably be being watched a bit…"

Elisabeth nods easily, her grin not forced when he describes the tropics at night. "Well, now…. when you put it that way…" she comments teasingly. "I never really thought about it, but now that you mention it, a starlight stroll on a dark beach sure sounds nice." She won't even tease him about it being romantic! *gasp*! "That's fine… I can handle it." The meeting, she means. It's not like he can follow her around all day. Or rather… she supposes he COULD, which will just make her twitchier all damn day now that she's thought of it, but on a lot of levels that idea is sort of comforting too. The conflict there is definitely… bizarre. "It's getting late enough I should text them." She doesn't sound quite convinced. "I'd rather hide in the apartment and order takeout and have sex," she comments, apropos of nothing, really… except that it's a damn good way to forget that her partner's a prisoner, she's a basket case, and the world's fucking ending again.

A low chuckle tumbles past Cardinal's lips at the latter comment, and he brushes the pad of his thumb over her fingers briefly. "Maybe tomorrow," he suggests. Not that he's tried sleeping with her since, because she's having enough issues just being touched. "I'll hit the shop, pick up some edible body paint or something."

And finally, she laughs at him. Outright, full-out laughter — not just the chuckle Alec got out of her. "Niiiice," Liz drawls at him. "I offer you my body on a platter, and you tell me 'maybe tomorrow.' Now I know for sure that hell just froze over," she quips as she turns to look at him. In a move that is perfectly natural, she leans over and kisses him, her free hand coming up to cradle his cheek. It's not a passionate invitation, it's just…. because. Just because it's a normal moment, and she feels perfectly normal in that moment.

The laughter brings a grin from Cardinal as he looks down to her, then leans in to return the kiss— letting her complete the motion, though he certainly invites it, his cheek resting to her palm and lips moving on hers in a soft, lingering kiss. At last breaking it, he murmurs, "Hey. I'm not all about the fucking, y'know."

As she draws away from him, Elisabeth looks up into eyes that don't have shades back on them yet. Solemnly, in a near whisper, she tells him, "You were the last thing I thought of when the hammer pulled back." She catches her lower lip between her teeth and murmurs, "Don't freak on me, okay?" Because she's pretty much expecting him to withdraw from her at that. "It just is what it is."

The whispered confession brings a startled blink… and then a softening to hazel eyes, Cardinal's hand coming up to brush against her cheek lightly. "It is what it is," he agrees quietly, "M'sorry I wasn't there."

Damn those tears again. "'mnot," Elisabeth murmurs. "Cuz I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy." She leans in and kisses him once more, a lingering one, and then slips away from him once more, averting her eyes as she wipes them. "Let's get this day started, handsome. I'm coming back here after work unless I completely freak and lose it before the end of the workday… don't feel you have to knock. If you've got things you need to do tonight, I should be okay alone." There's a hesitation and she bites her lip. "Or maybe Abby could…" Yeah… that might be better if he's got things he needs to do.

"I'm just gonna get those RFID tracking tags they give to dogs," Cardinal threatens, his brow resting on hers briefly before she leans back, "And start implanting them into all've you." A draw back as she does, fingers sliding back over her shoulder, "Okay. Call me if you need anything? I'll call you when I'm done with my shit."

Elisabeth laughs at that, quietly but not quite amused. "It's a thought," she comments softly. She looks back at him and nods. "I will." She runs her eyes up and down his form and her smile goes from sad to mock-lascivious. "Now get outta here before I jump you where you stand, mister."

Cardinal smirks a bit, reaching out to tap her playfully on the nose with one finger. "Don't tempt me." Then colour fades, his form vanishing into darkness that spills across the floor.

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