So Lonely Our Secrets


bf_cassandra_icon.gif elisabeth3_icon2.gif

Scene Title So Lonely Our Secrets
Synopsis After Cassandra's business trip, she invites Liz over to give her some important information
Date November 28, 2014

Cassandra's New York Apartment

//A single bedroom apartment. //

It’s been a few days since Cassandra’s unexpected exodus from New York City. The message she left Liz was cryptic - simply saying that she was going on a business trip somewhere with Pinehearst, not to worry, and that she’d be back as soon as she possibly could. And, yes, when she returned she did contact Liz with the simple message that she was home and she’d call in the morning with more information before falling into bed and sleeping a good ten hours, waking shortly after ten to begin packing up her little one bedroom apartment in anticipation for a move to Colorado.

Liz got a call a little after Cassie woke up and made herself decent, inviting her over. “There’s so much to tell, I don’t want to do it over the phone, and if you could bring something to snack on, that’d be great. Use the back staircase.” There’s a notable pause after that before she repeats. “The back staircase.” Like there was static on the line or something - not that she was repeating what she said in order for Liz to be sure to come up the back staircase to avoid her minder.

Then, Cassie got to work, starting to pack her things in the moving boxes she had purchased for herself.

The business trip didn't alarm her — this is what Cassie's job is and well… she's done what she can to make the younger woman learn to rely on her instincts and to trust herself when it comes to looking out for her own best interests, especially as it relates to careers. The invitation to visit is a common one, but the subtle emphasis on the 'back staircase' brings a lot of Liz's paranoia ramping up. She's spent too many years on the run or in hiding to not take such a request seriously.

Her approach to Cassie's building is casual, and she sees nothing significantly amiss. There's not a whole team of watchers, for example … although she does wonder about the guy who glances periodically at the building. She cuts around to the small park gated off at the top of the block and goes through there to reach the alleyway that bisects the block to reach the back door, where some residents park cars. She lets herself in with her spare key and heads up to the apartment, the hair at the back of her neck prickling, a sensation that's becoming a bit more common lately, what with being actively sought by Arthur's people following the explosion.

A quick tap at the door and she lets herself into Cassandra's apartment carrying pastries. Fresh baked even! "Cass?" Blue eyes skirt the place but it's not her eyes she's using to inspect the apartment. No heartbeats in places they shouldn't be, no telltale hum of electronics in weird places… okay. Maybe she's just really on edge. "Hey kiddo," she greets Cass with a small smile. "How was the trip?"

There’s nothing amiss as Liz mounts the stairs. No extra heartbeats, no hums from electronics that aren’t supposed to be there. Just the refrigerator and the old radio in the corner playing music, a fan circulating the air in the apartment quietly, like nothing has changed. Just Cassie, packing books into a small box about a foot square, pulling it closed with tape and writing ‘BOOKS’ on the outside so she knows what’s inside. She’s sitting cross-legged on the floor, shorts and a comfortable blouse covering her as she works, the fan causing her hair to ruffle a little as it oscillates past.

“Hey Lizzie.” She pushes herself to her bare feet and scampers over, pulling the taller woman into a tight hug that lasts a good few moments before it’s released. “I missed you.” This is followed by a whispered ‘make it quiet.’ The implication? She wants Elisabeth to hide their words. They need to talk.

She glances over at the boxes, some already packed, some still waiting to be assembled. “The trip was…interesting. There’s a lot going on out there that they’re having me work on and…” Cassie takes a breath, like she’s about to jump into a cold pool or rip off a bandaid. “It looks like for the foreseeable future, I’m going to be in Colorado working with Pinehearst.” nothing crazy sounding just yet. Not even where she’s going to be working. She’s waiting for Elisabeth to silence their words while letting the rest of the sound through.

Liz hugs the younger woman tightly, but oh dear… Cass can feel the effect of the request. There's a tension to Elisabeth's body that wasn't there seconds ago — she's gone from a little cautious and watchful to 'ohmyfuckingGodwhatnow?' in the space of a heartbeat. Pulling back, she takes in the words that are offered on the job, and it's immediately evident to Cassandra when the sound field is in place — there's no sound of the radio, no sound of the fan, no ambient hum of the city in the background. They are as effectively silenced as if standing in the vacuum of space.

As she studies Cass's face, Elisabeth's light eyes hold an expression that Cassandra has never in their whole acquaintance seen — the laser-intense focus of a cop or a soldier. "Working with them on … something classified?" she asks in a calm tone.

“Yes.” Cassandra says softly, walking over to turn up the radio a little, so the sound of moving and music is the only thing anyone who might be listening can hear while they speak in Liz’s silence field. It’s like Get Smart’s Cone of Silence, except this one works properly and doesn’t require yelling to be effective. “I don’t know how much I can tell you, or even if I should be telling you this, but…I’ve got to tell /someone/ and I figure that you’d be a good person to at least talk to a little.”

Cassie inclines her head toward the front of the building. “I’ve got a minder now. A security guard, basically, but I thought it might be best they not see you coming. You probably saw him on the way in - guy in the ill-fitting Member’s Only jacket, earpiece and sunglasses near the stoop, watching the road? That’s Carl. He’s new to Pinehearst and really wants to do well so he can move up in the ranks, afford a house, and marry his high-school sweetheart.” Apparently Cassie is good at getting people’s life stories from them - apparently being able to see the past is pretty good at finding ways to get people to open up to conversations.

“I’m…I’m moving out to Colorado, like I said. Attending University out there on a transfer from the one here. I’m working at Geopoint, in one of the clandestine labs down there.” She says that location like Liz knows what it is - since a lot of the people in the world have heard of it, but the mention of clandestine labs is probably a new one. Cassandra continues. “They’re going to let me come into New York, from time to time, to visit, once I’ve helped them make the discoveries that they’re wanting to have me help them make, but my email and phone is going to be monitored. Security, they said.” She rubs one eye with the heel of her hand. “They said that I’m going to be working on something on the order of going to the moon. They said that I’m going to help change the world by preventing an invasion, and that frightens me.”

And the more the post-cog talks, the tighter Elisabeth seems. She crosses her arms over her chest and pulls in a slow breath. "Mother fucker," she whispers. One hand comes up to pinch the bridge of her nose, the gesture perhaps indicating that she has a sudden headache. So many things run through the audiokinetic's mind… not the least of which being the fact that they've already twice asked Cassandra to excise her own memories to keep her safe from Arthur fucking Petrelli. "Cass… are you working with telepaths?" she asks, perhaps somewhat out of left field. The question itself may seem strange, but the importance of the answer is perhaps betrayed in the way she seems to be weighing something in her own mind.

It’s an automatic movement, Cassie reaching for the small bottle of Advil she has sitting in the cabinet next to the refrigerator, shaking out a dose and passing them to Elisabeth along with a glass of water to help with the headache while grabbing a pastry for herself to nibble on. “I don’t know. I don’t think so. I’ve not met anyone. They just showed me the room I’d be working in, the equipment I’d be using, and told a story that was, frankly, unbelievable..” she says softly, sitting on the edge of the coffee table piled high with things waiting to be packed, turning the pastry over in her hands before taking a small bite. “I don’t even know what the project is supposed to do and…I know I’m being vague, but I really don’t know much more than I’m telling you, and I’m already leaving things out..” She looks to Liz, her mouth a hard line, her brow wrinkled.

“Or how much danger you’ll be in if I tell you everything. It’s part of the reason I’m not sure what I can tell you. I’m not supposed to tell you any of this, of course, but…I figure someone like you, that can make the world silent around you, can keep a secret.”

She doesn’t remember that Liz told her that she came from another world. She neatly excised that memory, along with several others that live in a box on the top shelf of her closet and, chances are, she’ll excise a few more. “I feel I can trust you, which is why I’m trying to keep you separate and telling you things that would probably get me thrown into a very dark hole for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t have given you that, otherwise.” She gestures at the little dog tag on the chain around Elisabeth’s neck. “I recognize that as my grandfather’s. That I do remember.”

Closing her eyes, Elisabeth seems to be thinking very hard on a serious topic. She moves around the apartment restlessly, and Cassie has rarely seen her with this kind of seriousness. Though Cassandra can't know it, the older woman has hit the crossroads that she's been worried about since the day she found out that the younger woman worked at Pinehearst. She pulls in a long breath and appears to make whatever decision she was debating.

"Project Looking Glass was a highly classified project in the 1980s intended to use bleeding-edge knowledge of science to develop a machine to attempt to peer through time. It didn't work the way they thought it did. The person who developed it is dead now. But… Pinehearst still has the partial records of the experiments," Elisabeth tells her quietly, looking toward Cassie. "I can't… tell you how I know all of that right now. And it's ancient history, so … I feel like it's safe enough to tell you that much. But… what they're doing out there? It's dangerous. I mean, they've already said they're worried about invasions. How the hell can they justify continuing to develop that kind of tech?"

She sighs heavily. "You're trusting me with the knowledge of what you're doing… I'm trusting you with the understanding that I already know more than you realize." Elisabeth pauses. "And so do you." Her fingers slide up to the dog tag. "Whatever goes on out there, Cassandra… keep your head on a swivel. And don't give them any reason to doubt you." Her worry is clear. "There's not much Felix or I can do to back you up from this far away."

Cassandra watches quietly as Liz paces the apartment. It’s not large - a studio in the neighborhoods near the college with a single bathroom, a bedroom, and a combo kitchen living area that sees about as much cooking as a place can, so there’s not much movement. It reminds her of a cat in a cage and the only time she has seen Liz act like this is right before her first performance on stage. She nibbles at her pastry until the other woman talks and then, all thoughts of food are pushed to the wayside.

“That’s….that’s what I’m working on.” There it is, in black and white. “That’s the name of the project. They said that the original person was employed by the company and her research was…redacted. Pub Heavily. Including her. The person she was working with, they missed some of his notes, so the original machine - what’s left of it, at least - and the accumulated stuff is what I’m going to be handling.”

She pushes a box over, starting to load it, so any listeners would still hear music and moving, even as they talk about something much, much more important. “As far as why? Because they can, I guess. The first time they turned the machine on here, a bus from another dimension popped into being here. Half of one, at least. Everyone on board was dead. Burned to death. But they used that to deploy some kind of detection satellite to look for more incursions, as they called them, and got one a few days after it got online. I was told that the visitors” she doesn’t call them invaders. “Killed their president Petrelli and were coming here for a blood vendetta or something, to kill him too.” She shrugs. “At least that’s what Ms. Kravid said on the nickel tour.”

Well…. At least it's confirmed? Elisabeth bites her lip. "The original person worked for The Company — capital C, the one that got taken down a few years ago," she tells Cass. Just making sure they're on the same page. "It's why her work was redacted — it was too fucking dangerous, because back in the 1980s, something similar happened and they were smart enough to basically try to eradicate all possibility of this shit hitting the fan again." She looks down and says quietly, "Time has inertia."

Looking back up, she sighs. "Kravid's information is incomplete at best. The visitors in question … well, without getting into details, I can tell you flat out that there is no invasion force or blood vendetta." Not unless Arthur himself forces it into being. "Cass… " Elisabeth hesitates. "I'm not… going to pull the whole 'you shouldn't work for them, they're evil.' You have to make your own choices on that front, kiddo, just like everyone else. But if you're going to choose to remain in their employ, I'm asking you to consider — and don't answer me right this minute, think long and hard on this. It could mean your life." And her tone indicates she's not being dramatic or hyperbolic here. "I have no right to ask this, and you have every right and honestly every reason to refuse to do it. But I really need to keep abreast of what's happening in the development of that machine. I am asking you to consider sending what information you can when you safely can and letting me know anything that strikes you as… odd."

She smiles just a little. "Is that suitably vague enough?" Elisabeth's expression has a rueful cast. "I'm terrified for you already. And asking you this, knowing what the consequences could be… eats at my soul. But I don't have a lot of options. My friend was killed in that lab trying to sort this mess out. You have a good head on your shoulders about when things don't feel right."

All of what Liz is telling Cassie falls into exactly what Kravid told her. Information on the project is woefully incomplete, even with the assistant’s data available. “Well that….and it doesn't feel right. They're talking about making a doorway instead of a window but wouldn't say why. I mentioned things like exploration or technology exchange and it kind of went unanswered. So…yeah. I have a good head and I intend to keep it in place.”

The request takes a box and a half of packing to work through. “How?” She finally says. “Email and phone will be monitored, and I'm going to assume all mail will be read, too. Aside from you being able to read my memories of your cone of silence face to face, I don't see how I can tell you what's going on.”

Yeah… they're making a doorway all right. Elisabeth is sincerely concerned how much more to say. Cassandra herself wanted the memories of Liz's truth removed from her head when she learned them the second time. With her arms still crossed, she considers the problem. "If you're back to the City often enough, you could just send me cute little things for Aurora. Then when you get back to visit me, you can extract them and show me. But it's… not going to work for anything that's time-critical." She pauses. "God, I really need Wireless." She shakes her head slightly.

“I…um…could send you books.”

Cassandra is holding out one of them as an example - a well-worn copy of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.’ She flips it open and, with a pencil, starts marking next to letters. “Just…keep the order and run it through a cypher or something, and I can tell you things within a day or so. Or, if you really, really need to know something, get a phone that I ‘accidentally’ call and leave a wrong number. Or something.”

Being a spy is hard!

This part of things is definitely not something Elisabeth is in any way familiar with. "What do you mean, keep the order? What cipher?" She looks at the younger woman, something of an amused expression quirking her brows upward. "What the hell? Are you a closet Cold War plant or something?" She shoots Cass a grin. "Actually… hell, Felix probably knows exactly what you're talking about. His mama actually was a Russian spy." Rolling her blue eyes. "Let me have Felix give Irina a call and see what she recommends. We'll have some coaching before you leave the city. And we'll figure it out."

She pauses and then steps close to cradle Cassandra's cheek in her hand. "For God's sake, Cassie… be careful." Her blue eyes are very serious here. "I couldn't bear it if you got killed doing this. If ever you have a worry that you've been found out, get the hell out right then and there."

“Stuff from spy novels.” Cassie answers with a smirk. “Basically go through and write down the page numbers and letters marked in order, and then run them against a code that we have established already. Random marks become information in that way. Or if we’re really tricksy, we could do hexadecimal coding. Felix and his mom be able to tell us a better way of doing things. I figure I’ve got a couple of days before I’m due back, and Carl down there…” She sighs, taping her box closed, adding it to the pile. “Carl’s a go-getter. So he’ll keep track if we’re not careful.”

The warning gets a soft exhale of breath, another box assembled effortlessly. “Where would I go, Liz? Just to get there took a helicopter, and my office - despite looking like a regular, ordinary office - is inside of an airlock down an elevator shaft that’s…” she throws her hands up. “Some number of stories belowground, inside of another airlock surrounded by a frickin’ DESERT inside of a dome in the middle of Colorado. And that’s before the guards with big black rifles patrolling the place.”

“I’ll be careful.” She fixes Liz with a determined expression. “I’ve got to be if I’m going to…prevent whatever this is from coming to fruition. I can’t not do the job, though…they’ll get suspicious So I’ll have to work and just…let you know before the bomb drops.”

God, just the thought of this is making her sick to her stomach. Elisabeth studies the younger woman and says quietly, "You can't stop them. Certainly not alone. I will get word to some people that you're an ally in there… we'll just have to hope that if all hell breaks loose, we can get you out." That she doesn't like this even a little tiny bit is brutally evident. "Let me grab Felix and pull together some of his and Irina's experiences. If you know enough of this crap to set up a system at least for this initial run, do it. More ways are definitely better."

Shaking her head, she murmurs, "Fuck, I didn't really think I'd be doing this level of bullshit ever again." Elisabeth has secrets, Cassandra has always known that just from the way she skirts around some topics. That she knows how to do this kind of stuff? Well, whether that was ever on Cass's radar, Liz has no idea.

"Your job is not to stop anything. Your job is to watch and learn as much as humanly possible about the whole program and what exactly their agenda is, okay? It's a dangerous game, Cass, make no mistake."

That's not how the story is supposed to go. None of this is. She's supposed to be the heroine, saving the world by exposing the darkness held within, but it seems that this story requires her to be a source. An ancillary character, really, and, looking back, that seems to be fine. “I wish I could say ‘I can take care of myself.’ but that just invites problems of being overconfident. Trust, but verify. Praise the lord, but keep your powder dry. If things go bad, I'll get somewhere safe. Off-site. Judging from the size of the chamber the remains of the device was in, if it goes wrong, it will take a good chunk of the facility with it.” How true that statement is, she probably will never know.

She nods to herself, planning ahead already.. “I think I'm going to make it a habit to go hiking. Get used to the altitude, get used to the terrain, and have some supplies on hand just in case I need to run.”

Whatever secrets Liz has, those will stay secret. The woman will watch, silently, remaining an Oracle for those that go ahead.

"Not a bad habit to cultivate… the more they see you toeing the line and not doing anything questionable, the safer you are." Liz pauses a long moment and admits softly, "What you learn may well keep Felix and others safer. And it may just be pivotal in taking down a very corrupt system someday… or perhaps stopping the invasion of some other place by the people here." Someday either Liz or Felix will give her the full picture, and she'll learn just how central her placement is… and Liz wonders if the younger woman will forgive her the obfuscation. She hopes so.

"Let's get you packed up. You should stop in and see Aura before you head out… she'll miss you very much, Cass."

“You know I will. And I’ll come back and visit as often as I can, because I’m going to miss Aurora a lot, too. We’ll have to call anytime we’re able, too. They’ll be listening, but at least I can tell Rory about the important work I’m doing, or something.” Cassie slips off the table and moves over to hug Liz tightly. “I’m scared, Liz. I’m scared of what’s coming, because of all things I can do, I can’t see the future. The past, I’m golden, and that ability is making the future that much more uncertain.”

Elisabeth hugs her very tightly. "I'm scared too,"
She admits softly. "Terrified that what I just asked will get you killed. Definitely scared of what's coming at us. I don't want to lose any more people, Cass."

She pulls in a slow breath and backs up just enough to put both hands on Cassandra's shoulders, meeting her eyes head-on. "The future is always uncertain. Even with a precog, what's seen can be changed… and you never know if it's for the better or the worse." God knows, that is something she's learned firsthand. "The future is what you make of it. Keep your head low and on a swivel, Cassandra. Keep your ears and eyes open and your mouth shut. Say whatever you have to to keep their faith in you. Stay alive."

Elisabeth's expression is drawn. She's lost too many of her own, and it probably shows. "Felix and I will both do all we can to keep you safe too. There may well come a point where you and I can't talk — when it happens, keep your contact with Felix, okay?"

As one of those people, Cassandra does not want to be lost. The younger woman nods solemnly at the direct instructions - to remain alert and keep the target unaware that she’s watching. Stay alive.

“Okay.” she says, her voice quiet, even with the silence field around them. “I’ll keep in touch any way that I can. With you. With Felix. And, God willing, we’ll all make it through this okay.”

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