Survivors' Curse


elisabeth_icon.gif kayla_icon.gif

Scene Title Survivors' Curse
Synopsis Elisabeth finds understanding from an unlikely direction.
Date September 11, 2009

Outside NYPD Headquarters

The courtyard in front of 1 Police Plaza is shared with several of the federal buildings, and its landscaped accordingly with lots of cement and even a large fountain out in the front. She had to make a personal report this morning after she landed on the red-eye from Chicago, and it was sort of like getting a root canal. Elisabeth Harrison finally escaped and headed outside. She buys a cup of coffee from one of the stands near the road and in defiance of the agoraphobia she's currently suffering she takes it to sit on the edge of the fountain, deliberately working to inure herself to the effects of paranoia and the fear. Yes, that means she pops a small white pill while she sits there, but so be it. The chill morning air feels good after the canned air of the plane, too — the black suit she wears over top of an ivory blouse are perfectly suited to keeping the autumn morning from being too bad.

Being indoors is rarely pleasant, in the way that waiting in line is unpleasant; you get inured to it after a while. Kayla doesn't notice, doesn't think about it, except that every now and again she retreats outdoors for some semblance of distance. Particularly when she's had to spend all morning in a small room with actual Homeland Security agents and their native bureaucracy. Mostly the bureaucracy. As a consequence, the secretary's expression retains traces of sullen distaste; she buys a cup of coffee but doesn't drink from it, holding the styrofoam container between her gray-gloved hands and drifting away from the people clustered around the stand. Her suit is similarly gray, dark green blouse providing offsetting color.

The blonde detective's eyes flit across every face that crosses her path. It's a struggle not to turn around and scan every person behind her, but Liz forces herself not to. Sipping from the cup in her hand, she notes and dismisses Kayla, and then comes back. The face is familiar. Why? It takes her a couple of moments, and then she goes still…. Bolivar's friend, the healer. She remembers that incident well, and his upset over it. She also remembers the day the woman came to the precinct with her registration papers. She deliberately watches Kayla until she catches the woman's eyes and then nods to her in greeting, leaving the silent invitation to join her open by holding the gaze.

Kayla ignores the watcher for a few moments; yeah, you're there. Go away. Except she doesn't. Annoyance is safe; it flits across her expression as she meets Liz's gaze, letting it change the course of her feet until she closes the distance between herself and Elisabeth. She recognizes the other woman a little more readily; it's her job to keep track of Len's contacts, among other things. "Detective," the healer offers as she approaches, coolly polite; that facade is momentarily broken by what seems to be surprise, resolutely smoothed out of the way as Kayla comes to a halt. She still hasn't touched the coffee.

"Ms…. Reid, right?" Elisabeth offers a faint smile. "Fancy meeting you here." She doesn't ask what brings Kayla, instead choosing to merely ask, "Job going well?"

One brow arches as Kayla looks down towards Elisabeth. "Fine," she replies; giving the question, as she does most such things, a rather spare and minimal answer. It takes her longer to continue the conversation; to weigh the questions she could ask in turn and settle on one that isn't any more inherently personal than the information Kayla usually divulges. "You?" Of course, the danger in conversation is that the other person can always make more of a statement than was meant.

She didn't expect much out of the other woman, remembering her as severely recalcitrant with words. "Well enough," Elisabeth replies quietly. "Brought down a serial killer yesterday. Guess it's a good day." Her eyes go back to skimming the crowds restlessly, uneasy with the sense of being exposed. But then again, that's exactly why she's out here. To force herself to be 'normal.' She sips from her coffee cup with a hand that trembles just a bit, but then says, "I'm glad to hear that it's going well for you." She doesn't know what Kayla Reid actually does, but her tone is sincere in its good will.

Well enough. It's a Kayla-style answer; and there's too much that's familiar in the detective's manner. Usually she's the one clinging to things to mask how her hands tremble; it's a bit disconcerting to see that in someone else. Even if she shouldn't be surprised. The dismissal of Liz's goodwishing is automatic; it's superfluous in Kayla's estimation. The steps towards the fountain, sitting not next to the detective but nearby nonetheless — that takes a more distinct effort. Kayla rests the still-untouched cup in her lap, looks out at the other people in the plaza. "Is it really a good day?" Her voice is very quiet, but despite the question's content still too stiff to be called soft.

There's a bit of surprise that Kayla would actually show that level of interest, truthfully. Elisabeth looks toward her and does her the courtesy of actually considering the answer. "It's…. as good a day as I could have hoped for," she finally responds. "The serial killer kidnapped one of my partners on the case, and we got to her before he killed her. She'll… recover." The blonde forces a faint smile. "That's a win in my book, considering law enforcement's been chasing that fucker for a decade and he killed a whole floor full of people a couple days ago," she says frankly. It doesn't address any of her own issues, but….

The healer nods just once, the motion unhurried, accepting the answer as what it is. That's not the same as accepting what it isn't. She doesn't look at Liz. "Which doesn't have anything to do with why you're watching everyone for any suggestion that they're going to jump you, trying really hard not to look behind you every third breath, and holding onto that cup of coffee like an anchor." It is, of course. And the bluntly-stated observations don't actually contain a question; the healer's thin smile acknowledges this fact. "At least you're out here." By implication, someone isn't — or wasn't. Finally, Kayla lifts her cup to her lips; the sip of coffee is cursory at best, excuse for a manufactured pause, an artifact to hide behind. And fail at hiding. "How is she?" It's not exactly a neutral topic, but it's somewhat closer.

There's a tension that arcs through Elisabeth when Kayla comments on it, and she reaches up with her free hand to rub at her mouth with her fingertips. "Didn't realize I was that obvious," she comments quietly. Or maybe she's not and Kayla is just that familiar. She's not sure. "She's…. in bad shape," Elisabeth admits softly. "Still in Chicago, not recovered enough yet to fly back."

She doesn't remark on the tension; still doesn't look at Liz. "Maybe you aren't," Kayla allows quietly. "Recall where we met." Before their common acquaintance in Bolivar; most people out here didn't spend two years in the close company of other destitute refugees. Even now, she sidesteps her own personal issues in that vein. "She'll either get past it," the healer observes, rising to her feet, "or learn to hide from it. For what it's worth, I hope the former," she concludes, although her tone implies enough pessimism to fill subsequent space with I expect the latter.

There's a brief nod at the reminder…. the trailer park is not the best subject for anyone, whether they lived there or not. Elisabeth's expression is fierce when Kayla speaks about Cassidy's condition. "She'll get past it. She's already done it once, and she'll do it again." If it means Elisabeth has to beg every telepath and healer she knows, including Kayla herself. She looks up at the woman and says quietly, "Take care of yourself, Ms. Reid. It was … nice… to see you." There's no hint of insincerity there either. Elisabeth is very glad to see Kayla Reid getting a life back.

Kayla looks down at Elisabeth as the detective replies, expression briefly shadowed with something approaching regret, something almost wistful in texture. It passes as quickly as it came; maybe it was never really there, an artifact of perception. "Don't worry about me, Detective," the healer replies as she turns away, tone brusque, dismissive, darkly self-deprecating. "I survive everything."

At that reply, Elisabeth herself looks a little sad. "Yeah…. I'm starting to know the feeling." She looks down at her coffee cup, but she can't keep her eyes from the crowd and Kayla's retreating back.

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