Secrets Told In The Dark


elisabeth_icon.gif jaiden_icon.gif

Scene Title Secrets Told in the Dark
Synopsis Elisabeth arrives on Jaiden's doorstep to celebrate the anniversary of her visit to the Humanis First camp>
Date August 20, 2010

Jaiden's Basement Apartment

The ringing of Jaiden's bell comes in the evening. It's Friday night — why she expects him to even be in might be a question. She didn't call first. But Elisabeth is standing at the door with her hands shoved into the pockets of her jeans, boots giving her another couple of inches in height to meet his gaze better. A V-necked hunter green T-shirt is tucked into her pants and she looks… wound up. "Hey," she greets quietly when he lets her in. "If you're busy, I can head out. Normally I'd call first…"

The bell ringing is kind of unexpected, but a quick peek through the closed circuit cameras has Jaiden heading up the stairs in his pajama bottoms and a white t-shirt, his feet bare. It had been a long, long day working on an engine and normally he would be out on a Friday night, but tonight he decided to stay in. Luckily, it seems. "Nah, it's fine. Come on downstairs." He says, letting Liz in and closing the doors behind, the lights shining from the basement bright. Welcoming. The soft strains of music can be heard as well - jazz. "All you caught me doing was curling up with a good book. I wasn't expecting visitors, but it is a welcome surprise." When they reach the basement, he pauses after closing the door. "Are you okay?"

"Maybe…. not as okay as I'd like," Elisabeth admits quietly. "I could use a little company, if you don't mind me hanging for a while." Her tone is neutral, as if she doesn't really need to hang around or anything…. but something in her body language might give away that in fact she does. The people she tends to turn to are doing things tonight that Liz herself can't focus on or be involved with.

The basement is quiet, save for the jazz, and dark save for the few puddles of light cast by the lamps - one near his recliner, next to the couch, and one near the door. The kitchen has a few lights, too - mainly from the appliances, all showing the time - 9:20pm. "No, I don't mind you hanging out at all. I get along with you pretty well and wouldn't mind learning a little more about you if the situation calls for it. Come on…on the couch, you."

A faint smile quirks one side of her mouth upward just a hair. Elisabeth moves slowly and settles into a corner of his couch with a sigh. Almost one of relief as she leans her head back. It's been a long day and she has a feeling it's only going to be worse over the next week. She's been considering taking time off. Would that be better or worse? she has to wonder. Dropping her head back onto the sofa's back, she says quietly, "Not sure how much I really want to share of this. But I suppose you deserve some explanations since I turned up on your doorstep."

Jaiden has made himself busy getting a couple of drinks - non-alcoholic, if you must know. Iced tea with a little bit of lemon for both and a small bowl of popcorn, freshly popped with just a hint of butter and salt, and as he settles on the opposite end of the couch, his drink at the ready, the popcorn in between. "Actually, I don't think I deserve any kind of explanation. You're here because you don't want to be alone and, honestly, that's enough. Whatever reasons you have are enough to bring you here at this late hour, and that's enough for me." He takes a sip of his drink. "If you want to share, share whatever you feel comfortable with. Just know, whatever you say to me doesn't go out of this room. You might as well be telling your secrets to a hole in the ground."

Pointedly, Elisabeth has chosen to sit in one of the puddles of light in his living room, directly beneath one of the lamps. She is sitting with her back to the arm and her knees pulled up to curl there, looking … almost comfortable. Her elbow props on the back of the couch to hold her head up, her other hand holding the glass of tea he offered. She doesn't help herself to the popcorn, though. "I, uhm… I spent a few days in the custody of Humanis First at this time last year," she tells him quietly. "The people that I usually sit with are …. busy right now, and … if I called and said I needed one of them, they'd come over, but they'd… watch me. With those worried eyes that wonder whether I'm okay. And I'm not. Not exactly. And I don't want to say that to anyone because they either don't know what to say to me or they try to say the right thing and I come away feeling pissy and bitchy."

"Hell of an anniversary." Jaiden's voice is soft, the man sitting comfortably, one leg pulled beneath him, the other resting on the floor lightly. "A rule of Jaiden's Apartment is that I won't lie, or blow smoke, or pretty things up. Talking like that leads me to believe that your stay with the Humanis First folk was not entirely pleasant."

"Yeah," Elisabeth retorts, her tone dry as dust. "That'd be…. the understatement of the century." For a moment, stark horror reflects in those blue eyes that she usually shutters so well behind a flirtatious smile or a businesslike demeanor. "A lot of it I can't remember. They… wanted information. On safe houses that I knew about." Shame flickers across her features. "They…. " Can she say the words, a year later? Can she say them out loud and not hyperventilate? The struggle is brutally obvious. "They were pretty good at torture. Sight deprivation, deafening sounds except when they came in, freezing temperatures. Negation drugs. Spiked shock collars." She pales a little, her jaw clenching. "It's almost like seeing a movie in strobe effect, only… there's no strobe vision, it's more like strobe sound." Her heart rate picks up and she shifts to bring herself more upright, pulling in breaths a bit more raggedly. "It was…. bad." Way worse than bad, if the pallor of her face is an indicator.

Jaiden sits quietly as she speaks, occasionally taking a sip but stopping when he sees her getting more and more on edge, setting the glass aside on the coffee table, out of the way. His posture is open, one hand on his lap, the other on the back of the couch, facing her fully, nodding slightly to her words. He's seen people that have gone through hell and survived to tell the tale; children who's entire familes were slaughtered because they were Hutu, women beaten and bloodied for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They had the look that Elizabeth is giving him now.

With a slow movement, Jaiden moves the popcorn away and moves a bit closer, sitting on the center cushion instead of the far one, a bit closer, offering humanity rather than solitude. "They treated you in ways that no-one should be treated." his hand moves to brush her knee, patting gently, before pulling back. "They put you through hell last year….but you survived. You bear the scars, but you're here. You're alive to laugh and live. They can only take….they tried to take everything from you, but they didn't succeed."

His hand moves out again, patting her knee, resting there. "You were too strong."\There's a snort of derision. "No…. I was beyond lucky," Elisabeth tells him quietly, forcing her breathing under control. Blue eyes meet his and she says, "They blew my brains out. I'm missing ten years of my life, Jaiden." Shaking her head. "If the people who found me hadn't picked up the barest flicker of a pulse that should never have been there, if the man we knew as a healer had been any longer arriving." She hesitates and says quietly, "There's still something here I have to do. I don't know what it is yet, but …. I think Endgame and the things we do there are part of it." She sets the glass of tea down before the tremble in her fingers makes her drop it.

"And that's probably about as much as I'm going to ever say to you on this topic, but…. now you know why I do what I do." Elisabeth smiles a little. "I'm going to hell someday, though Richard believes otherwise. I'm not a bad person, I'm not necessarily a great one either. I'm just a person trying to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing."

If If If. If this happened, then that. If I hadn't been seen quickly, then this. Wondering what could have happened is one of the things that makes life that much more interesting. Jaiden nods, sitting back on the couch, pulling his legs up beneath him in a modified yoga position, hands on his knees. "You don't need to go to hell, Liz….sounds like you've been there and experienced a lot more than anyone would ever be unlucky enough to experience. You're a good person. you're doing the right thing for the right reasons. If anyone will go to hell, it's the ones that cause us to do what we do."

"From your lips to God's ears, Jaiden," Elisabeth replies, very serious for that moment. "There are definitely a few people that I'd love to see in Dante's Inferno." She tilts her head and says, "You haven't really answered how you're holding up in all this. You're getting me to talk about myself, and I'm trying to decide if it's because you want to know or if you're avoiding the answer." She smiles faintly. "You've been asked in a really short span of time to take pretty much everything we believe we know on faith, you haven't really asked all that many questions, and you walked into a firefight without even blinking. Are you so sure of what you already think you know about us?"

"Me?" The spotlight has swiveled to focus firmly on Jaiden now, the man sitting quietly, thinking, before he speaks. "I'm holding up okay, to be honest. I still see that poor member of Messiah getting gunned down and thanks to Hana, I've got a somewhat artistic shot of it saved on the server, ready to be sent out with a story to Wikileaks, but that's beside the point presently. I think part of the reason I'm getting you to talk is because I want to know more about the people I'm working with. I've been looking for a way to help out - to get involved, and just happened to get lucky and blunder into you guys. I did try to hide my tracks with the blog post, but I figured anyone who wanted to get in contact with me could fairly easily find me. But…." he pauses.

"Sometimes I worry, but that doesn't do any good. Sometimes I drink, and that makes it go away, leaving a headache in the morning. But I know, in my heart of hearts, that we're doing right. That I'm doing right." He shrugs. "I don't know anything about your group other than the little I've discovered since joining up. I have no choice but to take it as truth until you give me a reason to view your words with suspicion.

There's a long pause and Elisabeth nods slightly. "I'm not sure how much proof we could ever actually give you. Except what you saw of the people we just rescued with your own eyes." The kid that they shot down in front of her and Jaiden? Yeah. That'll haunt her too. She'll add it to her mental collection of horrors. She smiles faintly. "Is there anything I can tell you in the aftermath of all this? I mean… the more mundane stuff."

Jaiden chuckles quietly. "Do you guys offer health insurance?"

Liz snorts. "As if." She grins. "You know what those premiums'll look like considering the wear and tear on the employee
base?" She's laughing, though. It's better'n hyperventilating.

That had the appropriate result - it got Elisabeth laughing a little instead of being so deadly serious. You can't go through what she went through and expect to emerge unscathed and smelling of flowers. Jaiden nods. "If we keep having adventures like that, I can certainly imagine the premiums would rival that of the GDP of some small third-world countries." He smiles after a moment. "I'm glad you came down here, Lizzie. I'm glad you think I'm someone that you can trust."

She hasn't trusted her gut in a long time. There's a brief moment where her wistfulness flits across her expression, but it's gone as quickly as it appeared and Elisabeth smiles. "I needed to take a chance on someone, Jaiden. You came along at the right time, and I took the chance that you are what you seem. I can't keep on living in a constant state of siege mentality."

"I am what I seem to be. Telling the truth is easiest because you don't have to keep track of what you told people, after all. And no, you can't keep living like you're in a prison. It does bad things to your sense of well being." There's a pause as he thinks of something, tapping his knees with his fingers. "Tell you what. I know I owe you a date. Can we have a preliminary one before the actual one? 'Cause I've got a couple of kayaks and hitting the bay is damn relaxing."

Kayaks? He's not serious, is he?? Elisabeth eyes him and clears her throat. "Uhm…. Jaiden? I was born and raised in this town. I wouldn't know what to do with a kayak if it bit me." She laughs. "But …. I might go, yeah. Gimme a few days to sort things out, okay? I'm…" Elisabeth trails off and shrugs. "I'm likely to be a lot jumpy and really not good to be outside for a few days." She moves to stand, her smile faint but present. "But if you can wait until I get my shit together again, you can teach me how to kayak."

"I know, and that's kind of why I"m getting you out into the world." jaiden remains where he's seated in his lotus position, taking a slow, deep breath. "I can't say I was in the same position you were in…but I've seen some pretty bad things in my life. Sometimes I just want to close the door and hide down here, but I've learned that ignoring life doesn't make it go away, or seem any better. Not getting out there lets the wounds fester, dragging you down even more. I am serious about the kayaks, though, and I'll wait until you're better before subjecting you to it. Just…if you need me, you know where I am. Don't hesitate, night or day."

Elisabeth smiles. "Sounds like a plan," she tells him. "I'll see you around, handsome." She turns on a heel and heads toward the stairs to get back to something that pretends to be her job.

"Not if I see you and that perfect backside first, Lizzie-girl." Jaiden leans back to look at her upside down from the couch. "Just hit the big red button to get out."

Liz smirks and looks over her shoulder. "Oh good, it's like Ghostbusters… "we got one!"" Cuz it's a funny image. But she winks at him and hits the button to let herself out. "Later."

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