Son of a Bitch


conrad_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Son of a Bitch
Synopsis Con and Liz have a conversation…. Title could refer to Liz's thoughts on the situation, or to the guy himself.
Date November 8, 2008

The Nite Owl

Elisabeth is sitting at the counter in the diner wearing clothing far more formal than that usually worn in this place. A black pantsuit, her blonde hair pulled back at the nape of her neck. She's not even sure why she's here and not locked in her apartment. The hand holding coffee cup that she raises to her lips has a tremor to it, and the chocolate cream pie sitting in front of her hasn't been touched yet. She smiles faintly at Natasha, the waitress, when offered a refill. The news, broadcasting from a radio in the background, is talking about reports of some kind of minor altercation after the Two Year Memorial. There's a vocal excitement over an exclusive on the 11 o'clock news, but no one's saying what it is yet.

Small world. In walks Conrad. How's that? For months now, not a lick of contact. Now suddenly twice in as many days, here's Conrad! He shoves his way through the door like it was trying ot keep him out and immediately cases the diner. Laying eyes on the familiar face, he isn't the least bit shy as he approaches her and sits down across from her. "Mind if I sit here?" he asks with a shit-eating grin. "Or are you waiting for your boyfriend? I'll go if you are. Don't wanna cockblock."

Oh Lord….. really. Can this day GET any worse? Elisabeth turns to look at Conrad sternly, the expression sort of losing something in the fact that her face is pale and her eyes a bit red still. "Nice, Wozniak." Yeah, she remembers him. Pretty vividly. Hard to forget, actually. "Not that it's your business, but no, I'm not waiting on someone. It's a free country. For now. Sit where you want." She turns her attention back to the coffee and pie in front of her, raising the coffee cup again for a sip.

"Oh yeah. Yeah it is fairly free. Hey!" Conrad yaks at a waitress nearby. "A lil joe here. Black, I'll sweeten it myself, Sugar." The waitress stares at him sternly for a moment, gives a little of that look to Liz too before she goes off to comply. Great. He's poisoning Liz' reputation here along with his presence. Guilt by association. "I didn't know if you remembered me the other night but you were sure staring. Hey! So how've things been?" All bright and cheery. Like they were best buddies and she didn't have to hook him up for burglary, theft, public lewdness, and other assorted crimes…

Elisabeth shakes her head at him. He's always been more than a little incorrigible. "Oh, just peachy, thanks," she replies wryly. "You?" Eh whatever — not like Liz's reputation is all that. If people are gonna have issues with her choice of coffee companions (not htat it was a choice), well, whatever.

"I'm between jobs." shares Conrad. Not that that's any news. He's been between jobs every other week for years. That's usually when he's working on locks and fencing stuff. "Your boys at NYPD think I'm this huge danger to society now. You know they tagged and bagged me like some kind of animal because I'm Evolved? Made me register. What do you think of all those laws there, sister?"

Elisabeth grimaces a little. "My boys at the NYPD aren't 'my boys' too much anymore. I resigned. 'Bout 18 months ago," she tells him. "I'm sorry they forced you to register, though," she offers, looking at him. She seems pretty sincere about it. "I think it's going to get worse before it gets better. After tonight's fiasco, it's probably going to get a LOT worse, REAL fast. So…. watch yourself out there, okay?"

In the few years she's known him, Liz has probably not seen Conrad surprised. Not truly surprised. What she just said to him does the trick. "You resigned?" He looks around as if they're being eavesdropped on and leans forward across the table, dropping his voice. "Why?" He's not addressing the other issue yet. As if the state of affairs in the country is just not as important as the fact that the cop lady isn't a cop lady anymore.

His surprise makes her pause, raising a brow at him. "Uhm…. a lot of reasons," Elisabeth finally answers. "Lost my mother in Midtown, didn't like the politics of what came after… don't like what's going down with civil rights in this country and didn't want to enforce laws I didn't agree with, mostly." Not that it's any of his business, once again… she's not even real sure why she bothered to answer his question. It was kind of nosy. She picks up a fork with her hand still shaking a bit from the adrenaline crash.

The waitress comes back with Con's coffee and he takes it, then waits for her to step outside the silence bubble he's erected. Strangely all those ambient sounds just go away. Traffic noises, the near-imperceptible ticking and hum of air conditioners and TVs in the background, as well as all those conversations you just tune out. They're all gone. "Sorry about your mom." Conrad says simply. He lets that hang for a second before adding, "Well shit. What're you trying to get me to respect you or something? How come you grew some morality but the rest of the police didn't?"

It's not until she pops the pie in her mouth that Elisabeth becomes aware of the missing background noise. She pauses, listening, and then turns her eyes to him thoughtfully. After swallowing the bite, she says mildly, "Yes, Wozniak. I quit the police force JUST so you'd respect me. That was the entire reason." She shakes her head. As to why others haven't quit? She's hard-pressed to say.

"Well aren't you lil miss hoity toity? And yeah, we're talking privately right now. I put us in a silence bubble. This is why I'm So Dangerous." Conrad fingerquotes the dangerous part. He's not even bothering to whisper. "So what're you doin' to pay the bills?" Notice how suddenly they're old friends. Con's warming up even more to her now that she's not a cop.

There is a very visible rolling of her eyes when he says she's hoity toity. Elisabeth looks intrigued when he says they're talking privately. "What exactly is it that you can do?" she asks. "And right now — I don't even know why I'm answering all your nosy questions, mind you — I'm substitute teaching over at Washington Irving. I landed a fulltime job there after the holidays…. if I don't go back to the force." She grimaces. "Being as PARIAH just declared all-out war on HomeSec, I'm trying to figure out where I can be the most use. Hostage negotiation or…. holding kids hostage in a classroom."

One dismissive wave of the hand and Conrad says, "You're answerin' because you're all adrift and shit and the world's going to hell and you could probably use a friend and hey, even if the Con-Man's not exactly a friend he's familiar, and never did you any harm. That about cover it?" He hesitates a bit and asks, "You guys never talked about it? I mean…okay, well I guess you left before they registered me and all that shit. I control soundwaves with my mind."

The corner of her mouth quirks up into a half smile. His explanation pretty much covers it, yeah. She toys with the pie again, not really eating it. "I don't talk to too many people I used to work with. My friend Trask — the one I was with at the club. A couple other people here and there. But I left pretty early in the whole 'let's forcibly register every perp we grab for any reason' policy went into play. I wasn't on the streets by then anyway. I mean… geez, Wozniak. I haven't busted you in years." She smiles a bit.

"Well I got smarter, honey." chides Con with mild sarcasm, grinning as he does so. Idly he plays with his coffee, pouring sugar and cream in it. He likes it almost Starbucks-like milky. "Anyway yeah that's my power. Big deal. I don't advertise to strangers. But if you don't mind my sayin' I'm a little surprised you give a damn about the civil rights issue. Not a whole hell of a lot of normal mooks seem to. It's almost like being gay. You're not gay, so what do you care if the queers get married or not? Not your problem. That's how most people think of it anyway."

Elisabeth snaps back, "Normal, Evolved, gay, or purple, civil rights should matter to EVERYONE. Because rights taken away from ANY one group threatens the whole." She scowls at her coffee. "And you definitely *shouldn't* advertise to strangers. Even if you're registered. They're starting to detain people because of their powers. I'd hate to see you land in Gitmo for nothing more than being able to manipulate sound," she says. The irony of her own words is not lost on her.

Conrad's response to that warning is a theatric flapping of the wrists and a pretended worried look. It's obvious he isn't taking that possibility too seriously. "Oh yeah. Like I haven't been in trouble with the law already. The inside of a jail is Really New to me…" He sips his coffee and then looks sideways at Liz. "You ain't a moral crusader, lady. What's your angle? Brother or sister? Good friend of yours is Evolved and in the closet?"

He snaps his fingers and points at Liz. "Your boyfriend's one!" That would do it wouldn't it?

Elisabeth turns and looks at him with a frown. "My parents are civil rights attorneys," she retorts. "In spite of what happened to my mother, my father is fighting for the rights of all Evolved out there. Because how people are being treated is NOT right."

Long pause. "Girlfriend?" He gives her one of those searching looks. That's a fascinating possibility. Giggity.

Elisabeth sighs at him. "I'm not giving you an answer to that. For all I know, you're a fucking agent of HomeSec, Wozniak. I mean, sure, it's a long shot… but people have been blackmailed before." She knows he wouldn't WILLINGLY work for 'The Man.'

"Oh that's weak. Fine, have it your way. Keep your secrets. But the fact that even you're seeing Reds tells me you ought to look in a mirror long and hard, sister." Conrad takes a moment to have the coffee, then slowly all those ambient sounds come back. He confirms aloud, "Takin' down the sound-curtain."

Elisabeth puts a hand on his arm, stopping him. "What's that supposed to mean?" she demands.

Freezing, Con looks first at the hand on his arm, then at Liz. "What's what supposed to mean? You mean the mirror crack?" Ambient sounds shut out again quite suddenly as the curtain slams back down. "Means you're the one who was a cop. You're the one teaching in a public school. You're the one working for the Man. I boost cars and steal things, drive drunk, jump bail, flip off the judge, and you think I'm some agent? Lady, if anybody's the agent it's you. Hell, you're an agent anyway if you think about it, whether you know it or not. And I ain't afraid of you."

Elisabeth's brows slam into the frown she used to give him when he mouthed off, drunk, at her when she cuffed him. "And what the hell does THAT me, I'm an agent anyway?" She doesn't even know why she's reacting to him — it's probably the stress of PARIAH showing up at the two-year memorial. But now he's got her pissed off.

Conrad's look in turn is dismissive and sneery. "Oh don't give me that look. You know what? YOU figure it out. I'm not your stupid teacher. YOU'RE the teacher. You make up those lesson plans you give the kids all on your own? I guess you write the text books? Or do you follow mandatory state guidance? What version of History are they teaching these days? Anything in there about the Tuskeegee experiments, or any explanation for why the World Trade Center went down leaving shaped-charge cuts on the foundation girders? But no…I'M the agent? You're scared, and I'm down with that. Be scared, go ahead. Gimme a call when you're done being scared and would rather do something about it. That's all I'm sayin'."

Elisabeth narrows her eyes at him and says, "You are the single biggest asshole I've ever met — you and I know each other, but we're not best friends, Wozniak. And you're sitting here interrogating me about my boyfriends and girlfriends and whether they're Evolved. So you know what? Go fuck yourself." She shakes her head at him. "You're Goddamned right I'm scared. And you should be too! I wouldn't want to spend the rest of my fucking life in a jail cell pumped up on some kind of inhibitor just because I could do shit other people can't!"

Con's demeanor changes then. It goes from confrontational to 'Aha!'. And slowly he points at Liz, shakes a finger and says, "It's you…no wonder you're all jacklighted." Oh yes. He's an asshole all right!

Elisabeth merely shakes her head, looking back at her coffee cup with a scowl. "Back off, Wozniak. That's not what I said." She looks around, grateful the silence bubble still exists — no one could possibly have heard that.

The fact that the woman's beating a retreat is as good as a confirmation. Con shifts in his seat, grinning, like he's getting ready to share some great gossip. Or hear some. "So? Tell me. C'moooooon…."

Her body language alone has got to tell him that she's now feeling completely backed into a corner, assuming he's not as dumb as he acts. Elisabeth says tightly, "What the hell makes you think I would trust you with that information even if it WERE true?"

There are lots of reasons to poke at angry animals with a stick. Only one of them is not knowing any better. Conrad is one of those deceptive types that tends to know better but does it anyway for reasons that probably even he doesn't know. "Well it's obviously eatin' you. I mean you've caught me half out of a window with a hand full of valuables before, arrested me, and never snapped at me like this. I'm just tryin to help. You're the one in the closet still." Somehow when he sips coffee, Conrad looks smug.

Conrad snaps his fingers and says as if recollecting an especially funny story. "Remember the time you caught me gettin that handjob from the co-ed in that alley in Chinatown? And you cuffed me before I had a chance to pull my pants up? Ha!" Good times!

Elisabeth reaches up to run at her forehead tiredly. "Conrad," she says quietly, "For God's sake, just drop it. *IF*, and that's a huge if, I were in the closet, I'd hardly tell YOU, right? And I certainly wouldn't be telling people I have friends or family that were if I knew such a thing because *if* such a thing were said out loud, the person in question might be forced, as you were, to register against their will. And if their abilities were NOT considered harmless, I'm thinking that'd be a Bad Thing. You know?" She sighs. "I never snapped at you back then because I wasn't dealing with the two year anniversary of my mother's death, nor was coming BACK from that memorial after being scared to death because PARIAH assholes crashed it to throw down on national television — at least, it WILL be national television I'm sure — with HomeSec. It's been a pretty tough night, okay?"

From his body language it's clear that Con's getting ready to retort, probably with something smartassed. But he pauses and seems to listen to something. Then looks around, glances under the table, and looks right at Elisabeth. "Is that you?" he asks, utterly serious.

Elisabeth looks at him, seems to realize something's up. There's barely a split second of 'ohshit!' on her face before it's gone — she's good with the poker face and with the bluffing. Instead of answering, she sips her coffee and then says quietly, "Drop it."

One of those long, suspicious looks at Elisabeth, and Conrad shakes his head at her. "Heh…uh-huh…" He begins to get up, but the silence curtain is still there. "Wow you got a lot of catchin up to do. In the meantime, I ain't telling a soul. Stay in touch, kay?"

Elisabeth looks toward him, her expression wary. She doesn't trust him, that's for sure. And now she's got that look. The one that says she's unlikely to sleep from now until, oh, forever! expecting someone to be banging on her door to lock her up any second. "Take care of yourself out there," she offers softly.

Snort. Con waves dismissively at Liz as he turns to go. "Yeah yeah, whatever." The silence bubble drops. And only once he's out the door does it become apparent he left Liz holding the tab for his coffee.

November 8th: Considerations
November 8th: On Proximity of Friends and Enemies
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