Shooting The Rapids


elisabeth_icon.gif jaiden_icon.gif

Scene Title Shooting the Rapids
Synopsis It's moving fast, but she's trusting her gut again.
Date Aug 6, 2010

Jaiden's Garage

She's got to be down in the Financial District in a little while but thanks to her meeting running long, Elisabeth has managed to get herself some additional time playing hooky. There are any number of things she could be doing, but…. one thing interests her enough to take priority. When she shows up at Jaiden's garage, she's wearing civvies instead of the all-black uniform of earlier. A pair of khaki short topped by a string-strapped tank are entirely summer wear. She's also let her hair down into loose waves. She pauses in the open garage bay door, slipping her sunglasses down her nose to peer over them and glance around the interior. "Hey, Mortlock, you around?" she calls casually.

Jaiden's Garage is not normally a spot that people meet other than to pick up fixed cars or drop off broken ones. After the impromptu party lunch, Jaiden had to rush back and spent the majority of the afternoon getting a head gasket replaced on a small front-wheel-drive car only to find that the gasket wasn't the problem, but the intake valve on cylinder #1. So, an entire afternoon was wasted.

Or was it? Jaiden is sitting in the shade of the makeshift porch, sprawled on a scavenged recliner, one leg up on the arm, a bottle of soda sitting on one knee, a hat covering his face. He's easily overlooked, but when Elisabeth calls he shifts, one hand moving up to tilt the hat up to look and then straightening to snag the soda from his knee.

For a moment he feels quite out of place - dirty and smudged compared to the way Liz looks, but frankly, he can't help but look. He's in the same jeans he was wearing earlier, with a few more grease spots and smears, and a white undershirt that has a few more smudges, showing his arms and chest rather well. Picture Ryan Reynolds in Blade III and you get what he looks like presently. "Oi there, Liz." He smiles warmly. "You've caught me after a long work day…I'm useless until I've had a shower."

The sound of the voice brings the blonde's head around, and Liz chuckles as she walks in his direction. "I caught one back at the base and got out of those blasted combat boots as fast as I could once I got cut loose," she admits easily. She drops down to sit on the stair with a casual grace and props her elbows on her knees, pulling her shades back up over her eyes since they're still out in the sunshine. "Thought I'd poke my head in and check up on you. … I tend not to beat around the bush much and finessing the offer today just didn't seem …. necessary. You strike me as a reasonably straight shooter," she comments with a smile. It's clearly a compliment. "So I figured I better offer myself up for questions that you might have on the topic now that you've had a couple hours to stew about it."

"Well, if we're going to talk shop, let's head somewhere where you won't have to knock out the sound to have a little privacy." Jaiden stands and stretches, hands in the small of his back as he leans back, his spine giving a soft *pop* as he does, straightening after a moment with a satisfied groan. He snags his hat and pulls it on - one of those Akubra Australian ones, of course, and motions for Liz to follow. Into the garage he goes and, instead of heading for the office as one might think, he grabs a key from the wall by the door and heads for the stairs leading to the basement.

"Down here's where I hang my hat, basically. Ever since the ice storm I've stayed here. It's cheaper on rent and has everything I need - shower included. You can stay up here until I'm done or come downstairs where it's cool." And down to the basement he goes where, at the bottom of the stairs is a metal door that's unlocked, and when it's opened, cool, comfortable air conditioning pours out. "If you do come down, close the door behind you." He smiles and makes his way downstairs and, after a few minutes, the sound of a shower can be heard.

Elisabeth wrinkles her nose and grumbles, "What is it with men and being able to do that? I want that effect, I gotta see a chiropracter." Her tone isn't really grouchy, though. She follows him, hesitating only briefly at the doorway. If he's living down here, there's obviously at least a bathroom, so it's not like she'll be intruding too much on his privacy. She makes herself comfortable, getting a good look around his sanctuary — he's hidden people here. She's interested in how it's laid out. And she does politely shut the door, of course. No point in air conditioning the garage, right? "So you don't have an apartment anymore?" she calls while he's got the shower running.

The downstairs is laid out rather well. Set up for an extended stay for several people, the back wall has two doors that open into small rooms, the right holding a bathroom and small shower that's currently occupied, the left hiding a natural gas-powered generator, caged off in a soundproof enclosure with the piping going outside to keep the air fresh. It's wired into a circuit breaker that powers the lights and the pump that draws water from the re-purposed well. Several cots are stacked against a back wall - unmade for now, but with pillows and blankets stacked on a nearby shelf. Another shelf near the entrance has canned and dried food, bandages and medicines and the like in neatly labeled bins. This is all behind a fence with a padlock. Deeper inside is Jaiden's 'apartment' - It's obvious he lives down here, but unlike a bachelor's pad, the room is clean, well lit with tasteful lamps, and even has a hardwood floor with a few rugs here and there. There is a couch, a fairly decent-sized bed that's made, and a dresser that more-than-likely contains changes of clothes.

"Nope, no apartment." He is listening over the shower. "This is pretty much it. It's a little subterranean, but it serves it's purpose and I don't have to pay rent." The bathroom door is ajar, wisps of steam curling out from within.

"Can't beat the not paying rent part. Not in this town," Elisabeth replies as she looks around. "It's pretty damn nice, Jaiden. Nicer than some of the safehouses I've stashed people at before, that's for sure." There've been a couple of Ferry safehouses that have been in not good shape at all.

There's a laugh from inside the shower, followed by a splash as he rinses his hair off. "I figure a place like this, not rent controlled, would be at least a grand a month minimum. Me owning this requires me to do a lot of the work but…" A squeak from the faucets as he turns off the water, stepping into the bathroom, still hidden by the door, to dry off. "It saves me money and gives me a sense of satisfaction. Always have a plan - that's my motto.

Interesting. Elisabeth is sitting on the couch by the time he comes out, looking reasonably comfortable all curled up in the corner there. For now, she simply calls through the door. "So what's your plan right now? You got handed and awful lot of things to process this afternoon."

There's the sound of rummaging around the bathroom and, once it goes quiet, Jaiden emerges wearing a pair of shorts and a clean shirt, his hair askew thanks to the quick hair washing. "I don't know, to be honest. This is really not anything I've planned for, so the plan needs to be adjusted just a little bit, y'know? It's not every day that I'm offered the keys to the proverbial kingdom." The bathroom door is closed behind him and, on bare feet, Jaiden pads over toward the kitchenette, popping open the fridge and scanning the contents for a moment before selecting something to drin. "Would you care for something?"

"Nah, I'm good, thanks," Elisabeth replies easily. She watches him walk through — mm, cuteness abounds there. "Not sure it's the keys to the Kingdom. More like a peek at the sixth level of Hell," she admits drily. Her grin is cheeky, but her blue eyes on him are watchful now that he can see them. Her sunglasses are hanging on the front of her shirt again. "It's a rather convoluted kind of story, too."

Her sunglasses do kind of draw attention to the space in the front of her shirt and Jaiden does oblige by smiling and giving her a once over before taking a drink of his bottled water, leaning on the counter, not really posing but posing, if that makes sense. "I've seen a few levels already, to be honest. What's one more in the scheme of things?" He does pause for a moment before walking, cat-like, across the room and sitting on the opposite side of the couch. "If I did join your little group…what would you have me do, other than looking pretty and hopefully not getting shot like that Elle lady we met earlier today?"

"Elle is not one of ours," Elisabeth says immediately. She tilts her head, though, considering the situation. "If you wanted to take what we know and use it as material to write about, I don't see why we'd expect you to do anything. You'd be doing us and everyone like us a favor." Because no, she didn't miss that he has an Evolved ability. "So supplying you with the truth as we know it? It can only help matters."

There's a pause as she studies his face. "That said…. if there were something more active to be done. Would you be interested in doing it?"

"Look what I'm doing now." Jaiden lifts his arms in an all-encompassing gesture. "Look around. I live in the basement of a barn. I hide from the government of the country that I want to be a citizen of. I break laws pretty regularly by hiding the people they want to find. Hell, I'm supposed to register because I can do neat tricks with water, but I'm not going to because I find it morally reprehensible."

He goes quiet after a second, sitting back and nursing his drink, looking over at the woman on his couch. "What did you have in mind?"

Elisabeth's expression is thoughtful. "Something a hell of a lot more active and likely to involve guns and a lot of blood in the streets, my friend," she admits quietly. "The short short version is that there's a …. let's call it a corporate entity… out there taking Evos and doing a number of illegal and morally corrupt tests on them. Some of these people are my friends. One of them was the man whose power they augmented and corrupted in order to give a million people visions of the future. His power is precognition, but usually far more limited." She shrugs a little. "It's not a pretty world out there, Jaiden. And once you step into it and learn what we've seen and done and know…. it's sort of like actually going to Oz. Coming back to the land of black and white doesn't really ever happen again."

Liz offers a faint smile. "But now you know my secret. And I'm entrusting you with my life at this moment, because if you are a plant of some kind….. I just fucked myself into the ground." She shrugs slightly. "I hope that my instincts about you aren't wrong." It wouldn't be the first time.

"No, I'm no plant. I'm just a man that can do things that most others can't. It's nice to know the cause of the premonitions now….at least there's someone I can point with absolute certainty to as the cause." There's a noticeable shiver as he recalls the vision he had and posted of a few days prior, rubbing a hand over his face, his olive eyes closing for just a moment. "I've seen the worst that mankind can do to each other. I've seen witch hunts, starvation, and outright genocide. But that was always after the fact. I always showed up to report. To be a memory for the ones that had no one to remember them. To tell the tales that governments, presidents, and religious leaders would just rather not have out in the public tarnishing their meticulously maintained image. I've been to the outskirts of Oz now and again. It may be time to meet the wizard."

His bare foot moves out to brush over her knee. "We'd be the good guys, right?"

Elisabeth offers a faint smile to the nudge of her leg and says quietly, "Yeah, Jaiden. We'd be the good guys." There is an intensity to her tone that even the hint of weariness that passes over her face can't hide. "The man behind the curtain is one scary motherfucker, though," she adds softly. She takes a deep breath and leans her head back on his couch to let it out slowly, as if she wasn't quite as relaxed as she might have appeared. She grins at him. "If you keep playing footsie with me, mister, you might get a shit-ton more than you bargained for," she says on a chuckle.

"I hope you understand why I'm asking. That darn morality thing getting in the way now and again. It's what lets me look at myself in the mirror at night, considering all the things I've seen and all the things I might be seeing soon. I'm doing the right thing for what I think were the right reasons, and that helps a heck of a lot." Jaiden, too, reclines on the couch, shifting his hips a little to get his legs up on the couch, almost resting in Liz's lap but not.

He gives her a grin and a wink, nudging her thigh with his big toes. "It's hard to play footsie with you still wearing your shoes, but I think I'm doing a pretty good job. And besides, this is fun. If we look at serious stuff all the time without having a little fun, slowly but surely we'll turn into our parents, and frankly, I'm not ready to go to a cattle ranch in the middle of the Outback."

"A girl like you needs a little flirting, now and again, and not just because she's gorgeous. It helps keep you centered."

Elisabeth laughs outright at that. She doesn't remove her shoes to play footsie back, but she also doesn't seem to find any problem with his being where they are. "A little flirting and a couple of weeks out of town have gone a long way toward restoring my balance. And thank you," she replies to the compliment, the smile still quirking her lips upward. "You are doing a good job of it." The playing footsie, obviously. "You're taking most of what I've said, as vague as it is, at face value — or so it seems. What can I tell you that you feel like you need to know, Jaiden? I'll tell you up front…. the people I work with — not the FRONTLINE people but the ones out there actually doing their level best to stop what you and I and Cardinal and a million other people saw — are not all good people, but they're all people trying to do the right thing."

His feet still as she talks, the man leaning back and sipping on his drink thoughtfully, a brow easing slightly higher as she tells of what to expect. "Look." His voice is soft. "I've followed leads heard in hotel bathrooms halfway across the world to find a story. My Bullshit detector is pretty finely tuned - comes with being a reporter and an Aussie, and I haven't heard any of it from you yet. You know about me. About my gift that, more than likely, would get me disappeared. About my views on registration. About what I've done down here that'll put me away. And you come back. The world is full of black and white, but there is the gray. Sometimes for the good, you have to work with the bad and pray monster you work with isn't one you'll need to hunt the next day."

Jaiden takes another sip of his water, fumbling for a remote control on the table nearby that turns on the AC a few degrees cooler before sitting back, pushing on Liz's thigh again. "Will we make a difference? Will the world, because of you, because of FRONTLINE, because of me and whatever stories I put out…will it be a better place when we're through? If you can say yes to that, I'll stand with you. If it turns out to not be the case? I can vanish pretty easily, although I'd rather not do that."

Elisabeth mmms quietly, her head resting easily in the corner of the couch as she slips her sandals off her feet and turns more comfortably sideways to rest her feet absently next to his hip. "I'm not sure about the FRONTLINE situation — I joined for a lot of reasons," she admits. "I didn't exactly leave the police force of my own volition. I was hijacked onto a top secret mission and told to resign as a condition of going on that run… which also gave me a presidential pardon for my part in blowing up the Pinehearst building, among other activities," she tells him quietly.

Her expression is thoughtful, her tone matter-of-fact. "They were doing some seriously bad stuff. Same sorts of things this Institute is running — trying to create a formula that will give anyone Evo powers. Can you imagine mass armies of supersoldiers?" Liz asks with a pained look.

"The people I'd ask you to work with? Would be the more …. underground ones. The group that work with right now is headed up by Richard Cardinal. Quite frankly, he's the brains of the operation. I'm more the 'point me in the direction you need me to go, give me the information on why we're going, and I'll get us there if I can.'" She shrugs slightly. "I get…. stressed out trying to think four steps ahead; time travel paradoxes give me a headache and I always sucked at chess," Liz confides on a soft chuckle. "But … I believe in what I'm doing, Jaiden. I believe that what I'm doing really is in the best interests of everyone; I don't serve my own best interests."

"That isn't right that you weren't given a choice, but having a pardon for whatever you did in your past is always a good thing to carry under your belt. in case you ever decide to retire, or can retire." Jaiden's hand moves to rest lightly on the top of her feet, gently stroking on the front of her foot and the top of her ankle, unconsciously, it seems. Almost like one would pet a small cat.

"I don't want to imagine armies of supersoldiers, because knowing logistics in the military, the first time a case of whatever gives the power gets out on the open market, you'll have some pretty evil stuff happening. Biblically evil things. It's amazing what giving someone the power of a God'll do for someone's view of the rest of the world and for people against them. Collateral Damage doesn't begin to describe it." He sighs and shakes his head, running a hand through his hair. "Time Travel. I wouldn't have thought it was possible until a few months ago when I saw my future."

His hands still on her feet, patting them lightly. "If you believe you're doing the right thing, that's good enough for me."

"Ha!" Elisabeth snorts at his last. "You should be glad I really am one of the good guys. Cuz you know, I could be a complete psychopath — they believe they're doing the right things too!" she points out on a smile. But her blue eyes are sympathetic on his face. He's getting the bigger picture, understanding the dangers and seeing the horrible possibilities. "I could fill your head with the things I've seen and done this past year, Jaiden, but …. in all honesty, I'm not sure you need or want those details except in how they relate to what's going on now. Richard'll tell you that we're in the business of murdering futures. And in a lot of ways, he's right. I already know that I've changed my own at least once, just by virtue of having someone tell me what they saw when they went ten years ahead." She shrugs a bit. "I prefer to think of it not as murdering futures but more like shooting the white water rapids at high speed and trying our best to avoid the rocks. We can't change everything, we can't fix everything, but the really big ones that will capsize the boat? Those need dealing with."

"Don't." He lifts a hand to stop her. "The past is the past and has no bearing on what we're speaking on now. The future? The fact that we've been given a glimpse of what could happen doesn't mean it won't or that it's an absolute certainty that it will. If we can keep the boat from sinking, to continue a metaphor, my life has always been about keeping afloat and helping people to get to the end of their journeys safely. The future is never certain. WE could die tomorrow in a bus crash. WE could live until we're 1000 digging in the mines of the venusians. We don't know. We never know, because the smallest change in the future. Buying a coke instead of pepsi, could have effects that echo through the ages. For example." A droplet of water appears on his fingertip and he flicks it toward Liz, aiming for her upper chest. "Now you're a little damp. IF the drop had been bigger, you'd have been delayed while your clothes dry. That delay affects others, which go on to affect even more. THe goal is to keep yourself safe and sane and let the world go on around you."

"Besides, you're not a psychotic. And if you were, you hide it really, really well." Jaiden gives a playful wink

There is a soft snicker and then Elisabeth flat-out giggles. "You are a brat. I like that about you. Don't lose it, okay? We could use more laughter around this group." She looks down at her wet shirt and her lips compress into a moue of mock annoyance. "Does this tactic often work for you in getting women to undress?" she demands with a twinkle at him. "I'm going to be the exception to that rule, cuz I refuse to do so until you've taken me on a real date. Pizza doesn't count," she asserts loftily.

Jaiden grins and pokes out his tongue. "So that means I'm in then, I take it." Jaiden's head bobs in the affirmative. "Good."

He sits up and holds his hand a bit from her chest and, after a moment, the water removes itself from her shirt and dissipates into the air from whence it came, harmless, not soaking her clothes at all. "I only did that to illustrate a point. While you undressing is…to be honest…quite an alluring proposition, I usually let them do it of their own choice. Using my powers to get women to undress would, frankly, be cheating. And it's more fun when they want to, anyway." He leans back and smiles, arms going behind his head in a very relaxed pose. "A date? With dinner and all the fun things? I think I could handle that." He pauses for a moment, a sly little grin appearing. "I, of course, cherish your company more than the chance of seeing you bare to the world."

She seems to take zero offense to that, if the smile she shoots him is any indicator. "That's good, cuz I rather like what's already working for us, and I've sort of fallen out of the habit of casual sex," she admits candidly. "That's a nifty little trick you've got going there, though." Looking toward his ceiling, toying with her hair in a manner that suggests some amount of uncertainty, she seems to be considering the matter. It's been a long time since she trusted her gut on quite this level — always looking for ulterior motives. But she nods slightly. "You're in," she finally says mildly. "Richard said you had his card. It's got the Redbird Security address on it. The company itself isn't quite open for business as yet, but he and our admin assistant are both usually able to be found on the premises as they get ready to open the doors."

Elisabeth smiles and moves to stand up, slipping her feet into her sandals. "Due to conflict of interest, I can't officially be part of the company. But once I'm back from DC next week, you'll see me often enough. You can definitely make good on that dinner and all the fun things, if you're of a mind. You have the number."

"This may cause me to forfeit my man card, but casual sex is boring to me. Sure, you get a little bit of pleasure but there's no connection, and that's really what I enjoy. At least being good friends is my absolute minimum for sex. Casual sex….no thanks." He nods after her declaration is made known. "I'll go by and visit Cardinal in the next day or so. I assume you're going to tell him about me so I don't just show up and surprise him?"

Jaiden offers a hand to help her to her feet - always the gentleman. "Shall I walk you to your car, miss?"

"Oh, I don't think you showing up will surprise him in the slightest," Elisabeth says casually. And then she takes the hand and smiles. "If you needed a card to prove you were a man, I'd have already stopped chatting you up, Jaiden," she remarks with a cheeky grin. "I don't need an escort, thanks. Like most born and bred New Yorkers, public transport suits me just fine." Her hand slips from his and she heads for the door, telling him with a flash of a smile over her shoulder, "See you around, handsome."

"You'd be surprised. A lot of my views could be considered less than ideal as far as masculinity goes, but it works for me. You take care of yourself, Liz. And give me a ring whenever you get back into town. I'll see if I can slip a real honest-to-god date into my busy schedule." Jaiden walks with Liz to the door, to close it and lock it behind her once she's left.

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