Prodigal Detective Returns


abby_icon.gif elisabeth5_icon.gif

Scene Title Prodigal Detective Returns
Synopsis Elisabeth is really glad to see Abby, even if Abby doesn't think she's the real deal.
Date June 23, 2021

RayTech Industries Corporate Housing

The air is smokey outside, the fires still burning and Abigail has been absent from New York for nearly 4 months, spring spent in the southern climes of Louisiana. Tending to Dean’s farm while he took care of Kasha and did what the Not-Abigail had asked. Keep the faith for his daughter to come back.

She should have, by all rights returned to the brownstone in Williamsburg. Dean would have welcomed her no doubt. Should have done what Asi told her to do, go hug Kasha because the little girl would need it. But she didn’t. With a face mask borrowed, she’d made her way to Raytech’s campus. Not many were comfortable giving the SPOT bot a ride with her and so she’d taken a bus and then walked the rest of the way.

Security no doubt did their job warning Elisabeth about the visitor, so as the two robots walked down the hall toward where she knew Elisabeth’s home to be, she’s quiet. Tanned, shoes, shorts, tank top with all those tattoo’s accumulated from years way before visible, loaded to bear with fresh vegetables, a generous crate of fresh milk from cows, fresh eggs from chickens, the byproducts from a freshly ravaged garden strapped to the robot in that canvas vest with the floral kerchief. She comes to a stand outside the home of one of the few that this Abigail would likely consider a friend. A little tired, sunglasses on her head, rifle and shotgun stowed away on the robot too.

“Door please” She softly asks the robot who obliges with its appendage and a soft whirring to do just that, three times rap on the door and the pair, still smelling of salted air and farmland wait in the hall. Though the taller of the pair with no small amount of trepidation about what welcome will be on the other side. Or that it’s a school night and it’s very late.

When the other blonde opens the door, there’s a moment where she seems at a loss… and then the smile creases her features, relief at seeing Abigail. “Well hey there, stranger,” Elisabeth greets softly. She is dressed as if she only just got back from the Watchtower – black BDU pants and a black T-shirt. It’s a normal look for her, though the fact that she is standing inside her own home with her shoulder rig still on her body is not the norm. Usually she puts that weapon in a lock box as soon as she walks into the apartment, something she and Abigail have always shared strong feelings about.

Blue eyes take in all the things that Abby has appeared at her door with and she can’t help the small chuckle as she backs up, gesturing both the blonde and the robot bearing foodstuffs into the place. “Come on in. Are we having a party, gorgeous?” It’s only once Abby clears the door frame and Liz has closed it behind them both that she reaches out to hug Abby gently. “Welcome home,” she murmurs. It’s not really home, she supposes, for Abby but it’s Liz’s way of showing her great happiness at laying eyes on Abigail again.

The apartment is strangely quiet, though – no messy table where kids are doing stuff, no kids’ things lying around, and no Aura racing for the door squealing to wrap herself around Abby’s legs

"Hi." A glance down to the SPOT as if taking in how the pair of them look from someone else's point of view. "Just brought some stuff from the farm for folks." She brought quite a bit. Some will likely make their way to the lighthouse.

The uniform is looked over but no comment made just coming in when beckoned. "Mabelle, follow" She orders and the robot follows in beside her and moves off to the side to be eventually unloaded and be out of the way. The slight drag to the right foot is there. It's been a long evening coming from Butte to New York.

She doesn't pull away from the embrace, even for a moment pressing her cheek back. "I couldn't go to her place. I don't think I can go to her place. I don't want her daughter getting worked up." She looks around then back to Liz, brows furrowed. "Aura's not here? School night yeah?" She clings to the overflowing bags of carrots, green beans, tomatoes, as if unsure whether she needs to be putting them down or heading back out.

"She with the nanny?"

A flicker of heartache as Abby says she couldn't go over to the townhouse. “I know Kasha misses you like mad,” she says softly. But she won't chastise Abby for the way she feels about being the ‘fake’ – Elisabeth knows that her own experiences and perspective color the way she interacts with the alternate versions of the people she knows. She takes the opportunity to just really let Abby feel her affection in the hug, and when they pull apart, she smiles a little and reaches to take the bags.

“Come on in, sit down. You look like it's been a long day. Want something to drink?” she offers. The query about Aura makes her pause momentarily, though, unable to stop the visceral chest hit that comes with being separated like this. “Uhm… no, school’s out. With the fire and everything, I sent Harmony up to Detroit with all the kids,” she replies slowly.

Glancing at Abby, she admits aloud, “I'm maybe not handling that as well as I could be.”

School is out. Abigail looks at Elisabeth like she just said something foreign, confusion on her face until she’s mentally tallying days and realizes, REALLY realizes that it’s the end of June. School would indeed be out. Would Dean be heading back to Butte with Kasha? Had they already left for Butte La Rose?

“I’m sorry.” She offers softly to the other woman when starting to relinquish the bags of farm fresh goodies. “She’ll be safe at least. A small comfort I’m sure but.” Liz has the bag, Abby’s now turning to the crate bearing bottles of fresh milk and eggs, more treasures from the south.

“Asi showed up with a… I guess someone who can open gateways or portals in Butte. Said I was needed, that they’re making a run at getting Abigail back and needed my knowledge and skills to at least ensure the group had a fighting chance. Wish I had more time, I coulda brought so much more back with me. Someone’s going to bring the car back I hope, at some point, or I’ll try and find a teleporter who I can pay to drop me down there when we get back. So that her car is back here.” There’s a motion for the SPOT from Abby, and it follows along behind her, the two seeming to work fairly well together. Four months side by side’ll do that. “For the best, I’m out of medication for my head. Last attack had me down for a few days, Mable helped though. Mable helped a lot.” Praising the workhorse of a robot who comes to a standstill in the kitchen and waits patiently while it’s unloaded.

“How’s the office?” Into the kitchen they go and she’s bringing out the glass bottles, and the dozens of eggs. “How are you? Other than missing your daughter”

As she moves toward the kitchen with the bags, Elisabeth listens to Abby’s explanation and nods slightly. “Not surprised,” she admits. “They need all the help they can get – I'm glad you're in on it.” She sets the bags on the counter to start unloading them. Even if she doesn't keep all or even any of it here, it needs to be kept fresh for its final destination.

“The office is a madhouse. The fires are still out of control and coming closer. Evacuation orders are coming.” She pauses and looks up at Abby. “I'm managing. Missing Aura, missing the other kids, missing Richard.” She shakes her head slightly as she works to get the veggies out. “I'm not home much right now, really. You know.. if you don't want to go over to the townhouse, you could stay in the apartment you had here. Or even here with me, if you want.”

In tandem, she’s putting away the jars of milk while Liz stows what’s needed to be kept cool, looking at the scrawled dates on the masking tape on them so she can arrange the older bottles at the front. “Ms Tetsuzan said they were bad. They were bad enough when I went south.” Like an animal that knows it’s dying and doesn’t want to die in the den. “I had to add two days to the trip down” They’ll squeeze everything in. All else can sit in the crate and bags. “I’m sorry I left like I did. Just, finding out what I was was a little more than I could handle and with them trying to take some of us, and I didn’t want Kasha and Dean to wake up one morning maybe, with me just…” Dead. Abby shakes her head. “Kasha doesn’t need that image. Bad enough that she saw me on the floor after a stroke. Was easier to just… go to Butte where I know that I could be okay and safe and take care of her family’s things while Dean took care of her daughter and her home.”

She turns, leaning against the counter, hands behind her and gripping it. “Detroits not too far. Two days, instant by teleporter. You can take a few days and visit them if it gets much. Drag Richard by the ear with you too”

There's a sympathetic look when Abby talks about leaving. "I knew why you went, sweetie. I wish that you hadn't felt the need, but I get it. You're all dealing with something that …" Leaning one hip on the counter, Elisabeth says softly, "It was hard enough to see or even meet alternate versions of myself in worlds that were theirs. I can barely wrap my head around how overwhelming what you're dealing with is, Abby. The only person who might have an idea what you're going through would be Devon." She pauses. "Or maybe Brian. You could ask one of the Lighthouse for his number – maybe it would help to talk to him." It's the only suggestion she can offer. After all, all the Brians were Brian.

There's another long moment where she pushes off the counter and puts the last of the foodstuffs away before Elisabeth starts storing the bags inside one another for later use. "I'll take a day trip up there when the first gets under control for certain," she agrees slowly. "Richard…" How the hell to tell Abby this without tearing up? "He's out of town on …. Endgame kinds of business and won't be around for the foreseeable future."

“All the Brians are Brians.” Even as Elisabeth is saying it in her head, Abby’s saying it out loud. For all that everyone keeps pushing her to go talk to one of them, she resists. Because to her, the Brians are part of the same whole. The same soul. A soul. “I only came back because Asi needs me. They need me. Whether I survive or not, I don’t know. But they need numbers and skill and I can be a number and I have her skills.” Medical, martial. Carry a weapon. Patch people up.

The empty bags within bags are taken from Liz and she puts them into the crate, unstrapping it from the SPOT and moving to put it out of the way. “Mable, go charge” and off it goes, looking for an electrical outlet so it can settle in, tuck itself down after plugging itself in.

But Richard’s taken off, to do Richard stuff, and not around for the foreseeable future. There’s a press of her lips in disappointment at the news and mutual understanding now as to why Liz is still in work gear, gun still in holster. “So you’re alone here. Did what I did but in reverse.” Sent people away instead of going away. She licks her lips and sighs. “Then I’ll stay here. So you have someone else. Don’t know for how long, but I’ll stay here. Probably the safest thing to do at the moment.” She doesn’t want to see the things that might have been left in her place here. See Abby, Kasha and Deans things that may have been left behind.

“Fresh venison. Promise it’s not smoked. Probably needs to be cooked in the next few days since it’s somewhat thawed with getting it here. Mable helped. She’s pretty good at dragging things. Green beans, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, Corn weren't ready yet. Milk’s straight from
a cow so, use it in your coffee if you’re not fond of real milk. Eggs… they’re from liz, Colette, Eileen, Barbara, Becky, Huruma, Kaylee…” She rattles off at least a dozen names of people in Abigails social circle of old. “She named the chickens after you guys. Liz runs off cockeyed, Colette sometimes too though she usually follows. Becky’s all about the rooster” A pause. “Richard”

Maybe it’ll put a smile on Elisabeth’s face.

“He’s all about his hens and protecting them.”

It does make Elisabeth laugh out loud. She can't help it. "Sounds about right for a Richard," she giggles. "Gawd, I can't believe either of you named all the hens after us. Every version of you is a nut, lady."

Slanting a glance at Abby, her smile reaching her eyes, Liz pours them both a cup of coffee. "I needed the kids out of the line of fire, in more ways than one. Richard…" She sighs. "Hell, Abby." Pushing the mug across the counter, she shrugs. "When is it not a world-ending crisis with us? He … took a trip one step left, back to some of my stomping grounds from a couple years ago." Even if it takes the other blonde a few moments to put it together, Liz has faith Abby will know exactly what she means. "Between what you and the others are facing and that? I sometimes wonder if I should have fucking bothered coming home."

That admission is hard to say aloud. "I will be thrilled to have you stay. I'm working crazy hours, but knowing you're here and you're safe – at least up until you roll out – helps my sanity," Elisabeth confesses with a smile.

“SHE named the hens. Not me.” She clarifies. The cup is taken up and she’s moving to doctor it with some cream brought from the south and listen to Liz. “You told her one time, that it didn’t seem like life, or real, unless that was some earth shattering world ending crisis. Or that you couldn’t be happy. That it had probably changed us on some fundamental level that we couldn’t exist without that looming like a gorilla behind us.” A spoon is sourced, stirring her coffee. She listens to Elisabeth’s words but it takes a moment, perhaps three before the spoon stops and she can see that Abby’s caught her drift. “He’s pulling a Hiro?” No wonder it was ‘for the foreseeable future’.

Lips press again and a deep inhale then exhale. “How is Harmony taking it? The kids?”

"More like a Magnes," Elisabeth replies, doctoring her coffee slowly – much as she and Felix have always done, it's with unholy amounts of sugar and now real cream. She can't quite look at Abby. "Harmony's the storage place for all hope and faith … She believed I wasn't dead and that someday I'd come home again. She believes the same of Richard, with no doubts." Liz's voice is quiet. "I'm … having a harder time with the no doubts part," she admits. "The kids don't know anything except that he's on a business trip and it's a long one. They understand that cell signals are dicey but he'll send messages when he can."

Blue eyes come up to meet Abby's. "I couldn't tell Aura he was going back to that place. She's finally starting to sort of forget what she saw there. To feel safe here."

“You find it easier to presume that he’s dead. That it makes it easier when all is said and done and should he make it back, it makes it all that much sweeter and if he doesn’t, then… the hurt isn’t so bad.” More musing to herself than actually telling Liz.

“Don’t tell her. Let her stay innocent. Innocent as much as possible. She’s too young and she’s gone through so much. It’s the same reason I begged Dean to not tell Kasha. Have faith that his daughter will find her way back and when she does, they can figure out what to tell Kasha. When the time is right. Ignorance is bliss if one never finds out”. She lifts her coffee taking a heady sip of it. “We’re meeting tomorrow. After that, I don’t know. But I’ll plan as if it’s going to take some time. Get more drugs for my head, get dinner planned. Get things ready.” There’s a forced smile. “Maybe you need to take Aura to Butte. Pretty quiet there. The farms still got the swing set Da- Dean built for his granddaughter. There’s electricity from the solar panels. Lots of food. River to go tubing down. Plentiful deer and other things to hunt.”

She taps a few fingers on the counter. “Her little island in the middle of the river with the trees is still there too. I think I made the right choice to leave. Others might say no, but, at least Dean’s place is still going well. Mable made the difference.” She turns to look at the robot loafing like some electronic cat, a soft barely audible hum from it as it recharges. “Reprogrammed, it basically helped me when I wasn’t at my best. It can help do the dishes really good and is really great for opening the door when you have visitors and you want both hands to aim a shotgun at whomever's on the other side.”

A smile as she sips. “Named her after Abby’s old german shepard they had growing up.”

"Oh, he's not dead," Elisabeth assures Abby. At least not yet. The possibility surely exists, of course, that he'll die. "I'm just not sure about their chances of making it back – the device was destroyed as they were transiting." She smiles. "He won't ever stop trying." She has every faith in that. "Just… that world doesn't have Michelle to rebuild the Looking Glass."

Sipping from her cup, she listens to Abby talk about Butte. She wishes she could send the kids to Dean's farm… but it's going to take everything she has to convince the man to go to Detroit whe the time comes instead. For Kasha's sake. But she doesn't want to drop that shit on Abigail right now either. "I'm sure we'll figure out something," is all she says on the matter. "Butte would be a great place, at least for a while."

Tipping her head, Elisabeth asks, "How bad are the side effects still? I know Kaylee and Isabelle are both having some here and there, but it sounds like you're one of the people hit harder by them. Hailey mentioned her sister is still using a cane, although some of the others seem to have had it a little easier."

“Comes and goes” A shrug. “I get tired,my foot drags. I lose feeling in my right hand now and then. Nothing much has changed. Bad days, good days, inbetween days. Drugs helped when I had them. Mable helped. They showed me how to program her to help my dah and I used it for me instead. If I wasn’t up by a set time, or I told her I was sick, she’d follow the instructions. Brought me what I needed. Watched the house. She can even feed the cows.” Getting hay is an easy enough task when all you have to really do is in a pinch drag a small bale of hay. “She had instructions if I didn’t wake up. Some folks in town were scared of her but they were getting used to the sight of her.” The vest and the kerchief likely helped.

She’s nursing her coffee. “I think it was a little easier down in Butte. Less stress. I only had to worry about the chickens and the cows and getting things planted for Dean and the community.” Not stewing over what they are, how to fix it, carving out an altered life and everything else. “It’s a stroke Liz. It affects everyone differently. Some more than others. They’re unpredictable. The only part that confuses me is during mine, I saw I think France, and another time and was someone else. That’s… the only thing that truly confuses me.”

"I'm sure getting the medication refilled won't be a problem. As soon as SESA knows you're back in town, they'll probably be checking up on you too," Elisabeth observes. Then she pauses and tips her head very very slowly, her coffee cup lowering to the counter and her blue eyes sharp on Abby's face. "You…. saw Francois? And someone else…? In the middle of your stroke? Can you describe them?"

It sounds like an odd question, maybe, but she does seem to have intent behind it.

And she does. Describes the blink and then Paris. Of the room with plastered walls and narrow bed, worn mens boots neatly lined up and the woman who appeared when she called out for Kasha. All short brown hair and grey eyes, clothes fit for a long time ago. “Lucas?” She’s unsure. “No, it was Lucas. She called me Lucas and then…” She shrugs. “The stroke hit in earnest then. I was back in my hall and crawling to my room. Get to the floor as quick as I could so that I didn’t hurt myself and make things worse. That’s about all I remember. Rest is fairly.. Foggy.” Because depriving brain cells of oxygen tends to do that. Or depriving whatever her brain is made up of, of what it needs, tends to do that.

“I don’t know a Lucas and that woman wasn’t familiar to me. Nothing about it was familiar to me. I haven’t told anyone, it seemed irrelevant. The brain does strange things when it’s dying.” This is a fact. The brain does do strange things when it’s dying.

True enough. But Elisabeth frowns slightly and says, "That sounds like you accessed older memories – memories that Abby may have had from one of the Conduits. If it was Paris, maybe it was the guy who had the white before Francois?" The suggestion is thoughtful. "Richard has talked with shades of those memories, I do know that. So … it's possible, anyway." Her husband hasn't ever told her too many specifics, but he's definitely mentioned talking to shades of hosts other than just Kazimir, though she has always had the impression that Kazimir is one of the strongest of those hosts.

“I never talked with them. I never anything’d with them.” Abby points out. “None of them. They never reared their head like… whatever that was in Flint.” She’s got a third of her coffee left in her cup, switches it to her left hand and flexes her right fingers as if working feeling back into them. “It said I didn’t need any help unlike Flint.” And maybe others. How many times had the conduit been passed to a child versus a full grown adult? Did that make a difference in knowing how to use it? Being able to use it? “Richard asked for my help, in knowing how to use my healing. I told him to pray.” She lifts her left shoulder in a shrug. “It’s the only way I knew how to use it.”

She frowns, looking at the coffee cup. “Maybe it’s one of the bearers. I don’t rightly know when Francois got it, but he had it for a long time. Far far longer than Abby had it.” There’s a pause. “Do you think, she turned out the way she did because of how she was raised, or do you think getting the conduit when she wasn’t rightly more than a baby, made her who she is? How she is? Nature vs… conduit?” For that matter… “Do you think her parents ever noticed her eyes were bluer than before?” Abby’s eyes changed shades of blue after it left her. Flint’s changed after he had it.

There’s a sigh again. “She misses it. After all these years. She turns into fire but she still misses it. Do you know that she still prays over patients, in her head and a little thread of her still hopes to feel that warmth from her hands when she does and a little part of her still dies over and over when he doesn’t answer. She doesn’t pray to turn into fire. She doesn’t call that Gods gift.”

Still thoughtful, Elisabeth nods slowly. Sadness and sympathy flash across her features when Abby articulates the original Abby's anguish. "I can't imagine what she – and you – go through with those memories of losing that part of being able to help people. It's such… an ingrained part of who you each are." She holds up a hand and adds, "I know you don't really believe yourself to be her – but having been the copy in two other worlds… I can tell you that you are just as much Abigail as the woman they took. We are all built from the sum of our genetics and our memories, Abby … if you didn't have a soul, you wouldn't hurt for her the way you do. Just because they copied the kernel of that soul and you share it does not make you any less human to me. A single plant can have the same roots and be split into two wholly separate beautiful flowers from a single seedling. You are not less Abby at your heart. You are an Abby who took a different road, just as much as the Abigail of the Bright World was."

Maybe this Abby will believe her, maybe not. But Liz hopes she at least thinks about it. She's had the same conversation with Kaylee a couple of times now too. Although she's rather proud of herself for that plant analogy!

"I have to admit, I'm a little… thrown by the fact that you may have accessed Conduit memories. It doesn't seem reasonable to me to assume that all of those were stored in your – or Abby's – unconscious, so… if it was a previous host, where the hell did that come from?" Elisabeth nibbles her lip. "God, … the more often we rip through timelines, the more people experience strange things. Or see overlays. Or whatever. I'm a little worried about that idea," she admits, "but there's also jack shit I can even think to do about it, so…" She has no idea what it means or who would be safe to tell or ask about that. Maybe it's safer just to leave that alone.

"No Liz. Respectfully, you were not a copy. You were Liz, traveling through parallel dimensions. You were you. Born here, raised here, a soul birthed into the world by god. You were not a copy." She gestures with the coffee cup to the slumbering robot off charging. "I'm an advanced, far more advanced version of that. I'm a golem. Do you know what a golem is? The others, I think they think that I'm insulting them when I say what I am, what they are. I'm not. I don't believe that any of us have a soul, those of us who were… made."

Abby shakes her head. "Golems were made, devoid of souls, with a purpose to protect people. To save them from persecution and harm. When their purpose is done, they're done. I'm a golem. Created from the materials they needed to pass me off as her. A sophisticated copy. A graft from the tree that is Abigail." She bares her upper lip so she can use her teeth to scratch her lower lip and cure an itch there.

"I hurt for her because that is inherently what I would do. What she would do. She sees her friends hurting and she would do what she could to help. She would see them hurting because of her, and she would distance herself. I was not made by God. I was made by people playing God. I am a lab experiment that got loose and a way for people to…. cheat God. I suppose. But I am not what you were traveling through parallel timelines because you, and they each had their own souls given by god at their birth. I am just a very good technological golem."

But that still doesn't answer the question of what she saw during the stroke, or whether it was a memory from the conduit that inhabited Abby from so young an age, or just a simple strange gasping of neurons as they were dying. "This is what I believe. That I am golem, that I am and was made for a purpose and whomever decided to fuck with Abby's life once again, will get what is coming to them. They always do. John Logan, James Muldoon, every single person who has seen fit to hurt her, has suffered in due time and equal wrath by those who love her"

Listening to Abby's explanation, Elisabeth has a better understanding at least of where her friend is coming from. "I get it," she concedes. "And I respect that you believe it. Your purpose is a noble one, and that too has all my respect. If nothing else, golem or not, just know you are loved too okay?" Because although Abby may be able to make those distinctions, with all that Elisabeth's heart has been through she cannot.

"Did you bring other luggage with you? We can get you set up in the girls' room, if that's okay. This place is big but it doesn't really have a spare room," she laughs. "Someday maybe I'll convince Richard we need more bedrooms."

“I… didn’t have a chance to bring luggage. Asi literally gave me five minutes. Long enough to write a note, gather the important things and uhh, bring some souvenirs.” Vegetables, meat, milk and eggs. “So I suppose tomorrow, I need to get clothes as well and read everything on my phone. It’s been going off like crazy since I got back.” Get refills, get new clothes, avoid death by smoke inhalation. ‘Don’t suppose Raytech has a spare company vehicle I can use?”

She knows she’s loved, regardless of her status of soulless vs not. She reaches out with that numb right hand to squeeze Liz’s in acknowledgment that she is loved. “I’m fine with sleeping in the girls bed. I’d be fine with the couch and you know that.” She’s bringing the now empty cup to the sink, rinsing it out. “It’s late, you have work, I should try and sleep. I’ll take the SPOT down too in the morning and let them look at her and her programming. Richard means them to help the infirmed and elderly, it’ll help them to see what commands were useful and how they were executed. How adaptive they are to that.”

Elisabeth laughs quietly. "Yeah, there's plenty of company vehicles around. And I'm really glad to hear that the Spot worked out so well for helping you. Richard will be too – so far, we still have some contact and I'll let him know." She wraps her arm gently around Abby's shoulder and simply leans her head against her other blonde's for a moment. "God it's nice to have you here. This place has been too empty." And Liz doesn't do so well with being completely by herself for long periods anymore.

Abby leans her head back, meeting her part way. “I’ll make you biscuits.” She promises. “And keep you fed till I have to go. But at least when I have to go, you know that she’ll be coming back.” There’s a squeeze from Abby before she parts from Liz. “I’m going to shower. I smell like a farm.” She smells like the farm.

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