The New Chessboard


bf_cassandra_icon.gif elisabeth2_icon2.gif bf_felix_icon.gif

Scene Title The New Chessboard
Synopsis She sometimes wonder if she's learned chess analogies FAR too well.
Date September 15, 2012

Our Lady of Fatima, Queens, and an Indian restaurant, also Queens

Dragging Aurora's godfather out of his office is not a simple matter, but for something like this, he has to come. "It's my first time doing this officially, if you're not there I'm going to choke," Liz told him. Although in order for Felix to keep them straight and separate, she's taken to going by Liss with some people. It's close enough to Liz that even when people use Liz, it's clear, but she can give receptionists "Lissa Cranston" without chancing Felix mixing up the calls.

And so it is that the FBI SAC NYC winds up standing in the small park behind Our Lady of Fatima in Queens for a small charity concert to raise money for the church where Aurora was baptized. Because you can take the girl out of a Catholic Church, but you can't take the church out of the girl.

The aforementioned baby's mother is clearly agitated, standing with a young woman who looks to be in her late teens or early 20s who is holding Aurora. "He said he'd be here," she murmurs nervously. She has faith he will, but well… stage fright!

It’s New York in September, so the weather is often a factor in traffic and delays that prevent people from getting from point A to point B in a timely fashion. The young woman, dressed warmly for the cool of the day, shifts Aurora from one arm to the other, the three-month-old baby’s attention on the world spinning around them all.

“Take a deep breath.” Cassandra says, looking over to Liz with a smile. “You’ve been rehearsing for weeks. You know the songs like the back of your hand.” Aurora grabs a fistful of Cassie’s hair, messily drawing it to her mouth to gnaw on, earning a look from the young woman that seems to show that this is a common occurrence. “You called. He said he’d be here and he will. Just have faith.”

There’s Felix, dressed in his accustomed good suit, smiling to himself. “Liz was freaking out, wasn’t she?” he asks Cassandra, not even waiting on an introduction. She’s holding Briar Rose, which is what he always calls the baby, so she must be kosher. Blame Liz for giving her a name that also belongs to a Disney princess.

He’s perfectly comfortable with Catholic pomp and ritual and grandeur, being raised more or less ROCOR himself…and if anyone’s as prone to the ornate as the Catholics, it’s the Orthodox.

The sound of his voice makes Liz pull in her breath and visibly relax. Her grin is bashful, and the low-level anxious hum around her body eases. "Oh thank God." Of course she is freaking out. Turning to greet him, the Elisabeth looks… a little stressed and a little like she's about to puke. "This is insanity." She reaches up and nervously touches her hair, which she's pinned up and back just to get it out of her face. "And remind me — no more performances before I color my hair. I can't be this much out in the open performing as a blonde," she mutters. She looks between them. "Ygraine helped me pick a name to perform under." It's another layer of obscuring her identity, which was something Felix suggested when she said she was going to do it.

"Don't laugh? I'm going to use Raven Harper." She waits for their reactions.

When a guy comes over and asks about Liz’s state of mind, followed by Liz visibly relaxing (and that bone-shivering hum dialing back a few decibels, but not entirely going away) Cassandra does a little mental math and grins. “Yes, sir, she was. I keep telling her she’ll be fine, but I think she really, really wanted you around for this little endeavor.” Aurora is shifted from right arm to left, right hand extended. “I’m Cassie Baumann, babysitter extrordinaire.”

Thus introduced, Cassandra turns back to Elisabeth, blinking at the name. “With a name like Raven, we’ll really need to color your hair something darker than it is. I like it, though.”

He takes her hand, shakes it firmly. “I’m Felix Ivanov, an old friend of Liz’s,” he explains. Well, it is true. Even if it’s him in another universe. Felix is the same jerk-off no matter what part of the multiverse you happen to be in. “Glad to meet you, Cassie.” Then he turns to give Liz a look. “That sounds like the name of a goth girl I would’ve dated when I was nineteen and had piercings and blue hair. Well chosen,” Yeah, he’s teasing. “You’d look good with dark hair. Hell, I can’t think of a color you wouldn’t look good in. Except maybe Gatorade yellow. And you’re gonna be fine.”

Then back to the babysitter, and he’s holding his hands out to take the infant. “C’mere, Rosie,” he says, fondly. “Uncle Felix is here.”

The taunt about his Goth dates makes Elisabeth grin. "I don't care," she informs him. "It's part Aura's name — from the Morrigan — and something musical. And just so you know, I will never let you live down that you had piercings and blue hair," she laughs. Cuz that information is so going home with her.

Shifting her weight from one foot to the other, she goes stiff as her name is introduced from their makeshift platform stage. Or at least, Raven's name is. Liz looks at them and leans down to kiss the baby's head, suddenly buzzing with not-quite-sound again. "Oh God… here we go." She looks like she might run away for just a second.

Aurora is passed to Uncle Felix when demanded. She's lucky in the sense that she gets Rory-time pretty much whenever she likes, but seeing as how this is the first time she's met Felix? He probably needs the baby just a little more right now than she does. The baby is transferred easily with the usual instructions - hand goes under butt, support her head like this, yes she's been changed, and most important, if she spits up, try and aim her away from crowds.

It took a week of begging to get back into that one restaurant Aurora christened.

And when Liz…er, Raven’s name is announced over the loudspeakers, Cassie turns and rests her hands on the other woman’s shoulders. “You've got this. You're standing on the threshold, and just have to step through. We're here, and we know you can do this. You know you can, in here.” Cassie rests her hand on Raven’s head. “And feel it in here.” A touch to her sternum. “Conquer this fear. Use it. You're not sitting home. Don't think about it.”

Cassie grins. “Just get out there and do it!”

Clearly, he has experience holding small Lizes. There’s another big Liz with another baby, after all. Fel handles Aurora with ease, alternating between watching Liz up on stage, and looking down at the infant with a funny little smile. The closest he will ever get to having a kid of his own, after all. And this one won’t be with him forever - if things go right, he won’t get to watch her grow up. Maybe that other Felix will. “Go get ‘em, tiger,” he admonishes the new mother, even as he makes the baby girl wave her tiny paw at her mother encouragingly.

Watching him take the baby, Liz leans up and spontaneously kisses him. And not exactly the most chaste kiss either. "For luck," she breathes, and then she's running for the stage.

Hitting the stairs at a jog, she grins at the people acting as DJs. They have her playlist, and she's decided she's not flaunting her power in all of this despite the training she's been doing with it. So she takes the microphone and greets the crowd, "Hey guys, thanks so much for coming today! Father George is doing a great job, right?!" Encouraging their applause for the priest of Fatima, she says, "He asked me to tell all of you thank you so much for all the donations! We've hit the goal to replace the school's sound system. Congratulations! So eat up and enjoy the show!"

Only the people closest to her emotionally will catch the hitch to her voice as she ends the greeting and nods at the DJ. She was asked to handle a four-song list.

Aurora, Cassie insisted, should be dressed ‘cool,’ as the child of a rock star should. Somehow she managed to find a baby-sized outfit that kind of matched Liz’s. Even with a matching bangle on the wrist.

It's adorable.

Applause erupts from scattered pockets of people around the parish square, the dunking booth and the food tent getting most of the attention, but there's a nice-sized crowd paying attention to the songs. As Liz sings, attention is drawn to the stage. Cassie is bouncing. Clapping her hands at high notes that’re held perfectly, cheering raucously at the transition from song to song. Even Aurora gets into it, watching - mainly listening to, but still looking kind of in that direction - as mommy sings her heart out!

Fel turns bright red. How long has it been since he got a kiss from one Liz or another? A while. He’s married, after all - Aurora is busily trying to gum the golden silicone wedding ring on his left hand, out of sheer curiosity. He’s watching Liz, though, expression curious. How much like his Liz is she?

“She shoulda been a singer and not a cop,” he asides to Cassie, wryly. “But then, I’d never’ve met her, so….” And what a strange and wonderful partnership they’d both’ve missed, wouldn’t they?

It's a side of Elisabeth that Felix hasn't really ever seen, even from his Liz. She was good at the piano, he's heard it. She sings around the apartment sometimes. He knows she taught music at the high school before the Vanguard destroyed it and killed kids. But this… is the part of her that she only let out during college years she can't remember. She's good. Maybe not superstar — who gets to decide those things, after all? But she's good, and being an audiokinetic means that whatever small flaws exist are actually not in existence as soon as they happen.

By the time she's done the songs, she's energized to crazy heights and flushed to a rosy pink, a bit sweaty from moving around. She makes her way through the crowd that she drew, thanking the people who compliment her, and rejoins Felix and Cassandra looking rather dazed and amazed at herself. "Holy shit! Did you feel that??" Because she wasn't deliberately doing it, but she felt the music in ways she wasn't expecting.

Cassandra is applauding as Elizabeth makes her way over,passing the flushed woman a towel and a bottle of cold water. “Oh my god, Liz, that was amazing! Listening to you rehearse and then seeing you up on stage like that. Night and day!” Cassie only knows this Liz, and the barest details she felt like sharing. No stories of Endgame, or Magnes, or horrifying alternate timelines with super-powered zombies, and the little she's seen is brilliant.

Cassie nods her head. “I think the whole crowd felt it. I know Rory enjoyed it.”

Fel and Aurora share a glance, and Aurora agrees by blowing a spit bubble and burbling. “Yes, we certainly did,” he agrees. “But then, she’s been hearing you since she was in the womb,” he adds. Smiling at Liz, with only a hint of wistfulness. Missing the old days when he could’ve dragged her off somewhere private, perhaps. Marriage, it’s worth it, but…

No cautious admonition that she shouldn’t out herself like that. She can’t hide in a box until they figure out how to get her home.

Liz hugs Cassie jubilantly, and then takes the water and towel before she wraps her arms around Felix and the baby, nuzzling her nose into Aurora's neck where she can breathe the baby's scent in. When she looks up at Felix, there's a lightness to her that he hasn't seen since he met her in this world. "Thank you… so very very much, Felix." For being here. For taking her in. For being her friend. In all worlds. The smile she bestows on the agent holds a wealth of emotion, primary among them love and affection. Amusement, as well, and a wry knowing of exactly where his mind went for a moment.

"The whole crowd, Cassandra?" It brings Liz's blue eyes back to the younger woman and she looks perhaps a little concerned. "Shit… well, go big or go home, I suppose. I am not the only audiokinetic that's around." She slants a look up at Felix, definitely seeking something in his expression that she apparently finds. When she looks back at Cass, she grins a bit. "We'll just have to make sure Aura's covered if I actually start picking up performances like this." She still doesn't really know where this career will take her, but … it's looking good so far.

"Can I treat two of my favorite adult people to dinner?" Liz grins at them. "You guys should get to know one another, since Cass is around Aurora all the time."

There might have been a little over exaggeration on Cassandra’s part, but the crowd really was into it, clapping along and a few even singing the words along with Elisabeth. That's the advantage of doing some well-known songs - a multitude of backup singers. “I think so.” Cassandra says with a nod. “Your singing really hit a chord.” There she goes, using a musical term to reference the effect.

Her phone comes out, a little fumbling and then *click,* and the moment is preserved for posterity.

“I could eat.” Cassie lowers her phone and gives Felix a sideways look, giggling at the look Elisabeth gives him. Seems desire for companionship from the opposite sex has finally started to trickle back in after the baby blues. “I think you might be hungry for something else, though.” She winks, tucking her phone away.

“One thing - just not that Cajun place.” Cassandra adds a caveat to the offer of dinner. “They burned their roux for the gumbo, which is sacrilegious in Cajun culture, their shrimp wasn't fresh, even though they said it was, and what they called jambalaya was more of a mess than jambalaya.”

“Sure,” Felix says, amiably. Cassie gets a rueful little smile. Married Agent is married. But he can still look. “And I second that. Cajun’s never done much for me. Chinese? Thai? Indian?”

“And you’re welcome, Liz,” he adds. Two Lizes, and both of them, out of reach. It’s like karma’s revenge for his old days. He shifts Aurora to his other arm, glances between them. “You two get to decide,” he adds. “I’ll go wherever you like.”

Elisabeth doesn't blush even a little bit, firing back at Cassandra. "Even if that were true, brat, Felix's husband would object a great deal, I'm certain. And I don't need Lee hunting my ass down with a chef's knife," she laughs. Giving Felix a grin, she then says, "Indian. I could definitely go for some Indian today."

With both of them in tow, she slips away from the crowd because the parishioners hovering too close still make her a little uneasy. "I've actually been dying for you two to meet, though. Felix… Cassandra has an ability that she might occasionally be willing to use for you, as long as you're not asking her to look at gory shit." She jerks her chin at Cassandra. "He's the Special Agent in Charge of the NYC FBI branch offices."

“It grows on you, Felix. Get a good Granny cooking you up something out of her kitchen and you'll change your tune.” Indian is fine, though. Butter chicken is Cassie's new go to Indian dish. And when word of married comes into the fray? Cassie looks positively mortified. Not the fact that Felix is a husband to a husband, but more that she didn't think and acted a little ahead of time. “Ohmygod I'm so sorry.” She stammers, making quick work of the stroller and diaper bag, starting to move the trio of adults (and baby) out of the limelight and out of the church domain entirely.

Liz doesn't get out entirely unscathed, though. She is stopped by one of the old Catholic women on the way out, a small hand knitted set of baby booties passed over in a paper bag with a smile and a gentle mussing of Rory’s hair before the three of them are sent on their way.

“Oh, hey, yeah.” Cassie pauses to let a knot of people on the sidewalk disperse. “I'm getting work with a few museums, but I don't mind freelancing for a good cause.” She waves both hands in front of her face in what she hopes looks mystical or magical. “My ability lets me show people the past, based on locations or objects associated with the event. 99% of the time I can show you people doing things. Like a fortune teller, except looking back. With images and sound and stuff.”

“Just nothing horrible, okay?” Cassandra says seriously. “I don't mind helping with, like, kidnappings or bank robberies, but keep the gory murder stuff out.”

She likes to sleep at night.

“Nothing to be sorry about,” Fel says, quietly, still amused. “Liz and I were kind of a thing, once upon a time. But we were never meant to be each others’ one and onlies, and I ended up marrying the guy I loved. Doesn’t mean I have to forget old times,” Still contentedly cradling Aurora.

Then there’s the mention of Cass’s ability, and Fel all but comes to a point like a spaniel sighting on birds in the brush. “Do you now,” he says, thoughtfully. “I understand that….though I’d beg you to reconsider. I know it’s awful to see things like that, but…’d be utterly invaluable. That said, I could probably steer you in on cases that weren’t that awful to look at. White collar crime is still crime, after all. There’s also….I know someone with the ability to erase memories. Or blur them, anyway. If you saw something you didn’t want to remember…..”

Elisabeth looks up at the agent when he explains one-and-onlies, a sadness flashing across her features as her eyes shift to the infant in his arms. She's only ever thought about giving up the personal rules of non-monogamy for one person. Hiding the thought quickly, she tells Felix, "Lee is definitely the reason we couldn't have married, Felix. Even though I love you more than almost anyone else in the world." She is happy for the Feeb, without reservation.

And then he works on cajoling Cassandra. "Really, Felix? Already? I mean, seriously — and you of all people advocating mind wipes?" Liz tch's and sounds almost exactly like Irina! Bad Kitty!

“Well, I don't know….” Cassandra says softly, scuffing her toe in the dust on the sidewalk, a little swirl of the stuff blowing away in the breeze. “I mean, I don't like horror movies or gross outs. I mean, I barely could make it through “The Silence of the Lambs,” for chrissakes.” It's something she'll have to think on. “I'm interning with Pinehearst now, so for official-type stuff, I'll have to defer to them and their NDAs, but I'm sure they'll allow me to help on some things. It's happened before already, actually, with the UEO, working an immigration case, of all things. I wasn't much help for them, though, but I'm sure I could be a lot of help for the FBI.”

Fel’s expression remains mild, not the least bit defensive. He turns that blue stare on Liz, and says, gently, “I’m being pragmatic, Liz. Some of these cases are literally matters of life and death, when hours count, let alone days. Having someone who can not only see, but *show* agents what happened? That’s priceless.” His tone goes even milder. “I have the power to deputize and requisition, when it comes to some Evo abilities. I’ve not done it yet, because forcing someone to help almost never works well, but…. that’s why I’m asking her, politely, to consider helping on some of the milder cases. What she sees may not be admissible as evidence in court, but it’ll point us to things we’d not’ve seen on our own.”

He looks back to Cass. “Excellent,” he says, simply.

Elisabeth just sighs and rolls her eyes at him. She's well used to his brand of pragmatism, and elbowchecks him very lightly — since he's still holding her baby! "You are a brat, Feeb. But .. just take good care of her," she instructs him in a tone that says clearly she knows he'll do just that without any threatening required on her part. To Cassandra, she says, "And don't let him push you harder or farther than you can go — you're allowed to say no." Requisition Evo powers indeed. Pfft.

"Since when does the UEO handle immigration cases?" Liz thinks to ask as they walk. "You mean trafficking cases?" Oh God… that's an awful thought. Ick! Some of those are almost as bad as murders.

“That's what they implied, but never really said. I don't really know how much I can say, but it was something about evolved trafficking of illegal immigrants into New York.” Cassandra shrugs. “I'm sure Felix can look up why they needed me better than I can tell you. They called, I showed, and then went home for the evening once all was said and done.” She leaves out the blocking of the scene from her ability, the amplification, and the injection.

She turns back to Felix. “I'd rather not be deputized. Try and make it diplomatic between Pinehearst and the FBI. Mutually beneficial, blah blah blah. And keep me out of the limelight, if at all possible. I don't want to be famous.” She's thinking of diplomacy between departments and corporations. She'll do well in the corporate world. “If we do end up working together, You'll need good note takers. I basically broadcast to people's brains. No video or audio recordings work - they just show people reacting to what they see, but the room is exactly as it was when I started.”

He gives Liz one of those sidelong looks. Still Fel, even if it’s fat (relatively speaking), sleek, and happy Felix. His husband’s a chef by avocation, after all. “I take good care of my people,” he assures her, gently. Compared to some of the asses who’ve achieved high rank in the Bureau, he is a teddy bear, after all. “And I will. I don’t resort to real strong arm stuff unless it’s a very drastic situation. Diplomacy usually goes much further, I find.”

A nod at Cassandra. “I won’t throw you to the wolves, and I’m extremely strict about leaks,” he adds. That’s one of the few areas where he really is a martinet. “If you do choose to assist, your identity will be guarded. I don’t do things to make the newsfeeds happy.”

Everything that is said, Elisabeth seems to entirely take as a given — the assumption that this man is basically the same at his core is apparent to him. "Of course you do," she replies to the 'looking out for his people' with the same nonchalance one would expect if he'd said he was going to look both ways before crossing a New York street. And she grins slightly. "The news mongers are pains in the ass to law enforcement all over," she adds to Cassandra. "And even now in this day and age, they really don't like to admit they're using psychics." It's partially a tease, but partially kind of true too!

It's good to see the two of them talking business stuff so easily. She likes it. And she also knows that when she leaves, Felix will look out for this young woman. It's important to her. As they move along the street, she takes over the driving of the stroller so that Felix and Cass can talk without her between them. She's interested to see the dynamic between them. "You said at one point that there were side effects, Cassandra, and I didn't want to pry… but you should definitely let Felix know them so he can make sure you're covered."

Cassandra listens, her attention half on Felix and Elisabeth, half on navigating the streets of New York. She's gotten fairly adept at getting around the city in her few months of being here - just goes to show how malleable the youngster really is. “Well…let me know. I'll give you an example of what I can do at some point. Just you, and Liz and Ygraine too, if they want to see what it's like. So you'll know what to expect out of me and can more adequately explain why you're bringing a seventeen year old girl into an active crime scene.” The fact that she's entertaining this at all shows that she trusts Liz's judgement implicitly.

Elizabeth's comments about side effects get a nod. “I'm practicing at getting better at things, but right now I'm still kind of shaky on moving through the scene. The general show is me finding the spot in time you want, then showing it from start to finish. What I'm working on is moving it back and forth. If you say “what did he say?” I can rewind the show or just pause it so you can take notes or whatever.” Then, as an aside to Liz. “The museums are begging me to get that one down. Oh, and the blindfold. That's an important part too.”

She pauses for a second, actually using the crosswalk as they head to Taz, a small Indian restaurant in between Elisabeth’s place and the church, before she continues. “First drawback - when I'm using my ability, I'm blind. All I can see is the past. I can see people I'm broadcasting sssssssstoo, so if you're in the middle of a vision, I can turn and look at you with the blindfold on. And things sometimes move, like chairs, so you'll see me pretty much staying still the whole time to keep from toppling over. Second thing is the blindfold itself.” She looks a little wary about sharing this part. “During a vision, my eyes turn black and start uncontrollably dripping black tears that stain clothes and skin.” The tears have never been tested, whatever they are, but they're gross and annoying, but it's a part of what she is. “It's creepy to watch and screws up my clothes, so I blindfold myself to keep it in. Works pretty well. And other than that…I'm pretty much a detective’s dream come true.”

Once upon a time, that’d’ve earned a very crude comment indeed. But Fel’s no longer a bluesuit for the NYPD - he’s learned manners, learned diplomacy, and especially learned to watch his mouth around Liz. He tickles Aurora’s belly a little, to make her giggle, as he considers. “I’ll start contacting the kind of channels I’d need to help with bringing you in. Seventeen, eh? I can’t deputize you, then. In fact, I might need authorization from a guardian, assuming you still have one and aren’t an emancipated minor.”

“And I understand the blindfold. That makes sense. But yes, a detective’s dream, indeed.” He turns to give Liz a look. “And you, you saint, you didn’t bird-dog her for the NYPD,” he adds. A liiiiiiiitle bit of schadenfreude there. Not that he has any real beef with his old comrades in blue, but the FBI and the New York police have always had a rivalry, friendly or not, depending on the officers and agents in question.

“My dad’s a district attorney down in Louisiana. I'll get you his information. Pretty sure he'd be fine with it, all things considered.” Cassandra adds quickly, looking to Liz.

"Mmmm," Elisabeth replies to Felix lightly. "And why would I do that? All the best people work for the FBI. She'll have the people I trust looking out for her if she's working for you." She knows exactly what her alternate is up to in terms of career right now. Felix is in the loop on Pinehearst and Liz's situation with it. If or when it all comes tumbling down, she's clearly covering Cassandra's ass when it comes to the young woman's future — the girl will have people Liz trusts with her own life and Aurora's to turn to if or when things get ugly. The other implication, of course, is that at some point Cassandra will know there are two Elisabeths. But not yet.

"Personally, I think the FBI handles the better cases. Kidnappings and the like are usually a hell of a lot less bloody and troublesome than putting the poor child on murder scenes."

The way that Cassandra speaks of Pinehearst, too, leads the listener to believe that she’s a minor player at best, and rightly so. None of the big decisions come from her desk. Hell, she doesn’t even have a door to her office, or an office by herself just yet, and there’s no people beneath her on the org chart. She’s just a researcher! She does give Elisabeth a look. “Already trying to get me a job with the Feds, Lizzie? Who knows? If this Pinehearst internship doesn’t work out, I could moonlight as one of those sunglass-wearing people in the back room.”

She matches her pace with Felix and Elisabeth, taking a few steps forward to turn and face them, walking backwards in a relatively clear spot of sidewalk. “Liz has been very good about steering me in the right directions, too, Felix. So don’t worry. She’s given me advice on boys and fashion and stuff like that, while I get to expose her to stuff from back home, like Pecan Praline bars, Tabasco on popcorn, and Zydeco music.” The latter two take some getting used to, while the first is just good eating.

“The only possible advice for dealing with boys is to not do it at all. Boys are pigs, I know, I was one. Become a lesbian if you aren’t one already, that’s the only real solution,” he says, blithely. Oh, Felix. He smiles that sphinxish little smile at Cassandra, even as he listens to the two of them. “Well, the FBI is a good place to work,” he adds. “I used to be NYPD, but I traded up, so to speak. And she’s right. We get to work on a much broader scale than a local police force, even one like New York.”

Then he gives Liz a glance that all but twinkles with amusement. “Especially with someone who miiiiight get promoted to ADD or even DD, if he’s lucky, in your pocket.” Felix in Washington, wrangling politicos. What a thought.

"God help DC," Elisabeth murmurs on a laugh, rolling her eyes expressively. "Let's hope that's not for a few years yet? People here would miss you something fierce, I'm sure. Me, myself, and I topping the list, of course."

Clearing her throat, she ambles along with the two of them and opines mildly, "Tobasco in popcorn is gross and Zydeco is a fad. You cannot possibly expect that kind of music to stand the rest of time."

She pulls out her phone as they pause at a street corner to wait for the light, and when Felix pokes at the baby again, she catches a quick picture of the man's face when the infant burbles a chuckle. It might not survive her trip home.. but he'll have whatever she can leave for him when the time does come.

When the light changes and they start moving again, she asks, "Do you think Lee would enjoy seeing a show?" Felix's husband pretty much keeps his distance, if only because it's hard to keep such a secret.

Cassandra pokes her tongue out playfully at Elisabeth at the comment on Tabasco and Popcorn is given. “Oh hush now. You want your food to scare you and get your blood pumping, break a little sweat maybe, but not kill you. A good dose of Tabasco will do that without a problem.” The comment about becoming a Lesbian gets a giggle and a blush, followed by a shake of her head as they continue across the street. “I don’t see why he wouldn’t. I mean, you’re a fantastic singer, and Felix likes you, so I don’t see why…” she trails off, thoughtful. “Mister Felix, I guess? I don’t see why he wouldn’t like you either.”

“Lee very well might,” Fel says, musingly. “He tends to be a homebody, but sometimes I can pry him out.” His husband being a senior detective in New York. “I’ll ask him.” He seems quite content to cuddle Aurora as much as possible. There’s another one he’ll be able to help raise, but this one….it’s going to be a short interlude. Hopefully this other Felix will be worthy of her. Probably not. Boys are boys, even as grown men. “His name is Lee,” he says, quietly. “Well, Leland, but he goes by Lee. And he’s a big bruiser of a cop whose passion is gourmet cooking. I swear he’s just waiting his twenty years and out so he can use his pension to go to cooking school. And you know, if he wants to move to Paris for a few years to study at the Cordon Bleu or whatever, I don’t know that I’d mind.”

"That would rock pretty hard, Feeb," Elisabeth replies thoughtfully. She's only experienced Lee's cooking a few times, but it has always been memorable. "The man has a gift for food, that's certain."

She slants a grin at Cassandra, noting the blush, and just grins. "Hey, I don't give people advice on their love lives. Mine has been flat-out insanity," she objects. "And nonexistent now! The only thing I tell you about a guy is if you feel uncomfortable in any way, walk. Right then and there, leave." And hope Liz doesn't think he's done something bad, cuz she might feel a little protective of this teen who is so young and reminds her a little of Abigail.

Cassandra can tell there’s a lot going on that’s not being said, but the whole ‘not a part of this world’ thing isn’t something she’d guess even in her wildest romance novel fantasies. She’s already guessed that Aurora’s dad was a pirate king or a CEO with an unhealthy fascination with bondage - both turned out to be wrong, of course - but still, it’s kind of crazy. Imagine what she would say if she knew such things were true.

“France, I’ve heard, is pretty nice. Lots of good wine and champagne, lots of really high-quality cooking, too. It might help to know french beforehand, though. We got a few tourists through home when I was growing up - wanting to go on swamp tours and the like - but they really lit up when I started speaking french to them.” Yes, she knows french. And Creole. That second one doesn’t come up much. Liz’s love advice gets a nod. “I know, I know, Liz. You’ve told me that a dozen times and it’s come up a couple of times already. If I get uncomfortable, i’m out, and any guy what wants to take me on a date knows that.”

“I know a little French,” the agent says. He finally hands Aurora back to her mother, since she’s begun to fuss. “And I’m a quick study for languages. Never been to France, myself. Someday.”

The waitress swoops by to take their order. Korma for him, and ice water. “But you speak Cajun French, then?” he wonders. Then there’s a grin for Liz’s advice. “She’s absolutely right. Your gut will know. And also….don’t waste time on trying to ‘fix’ someone. A guy fixes himself, or it doesn’t happen. Don’t waste your loyalty on someone who isn’t worthy of it.”

"Good," Liz nods. "That's the way it ought to be." She would seriously have to do some harm to a young man. Slanting a brief look toward the man who has been her best friend, she gives him a faint grin. "Kogda ya uydu, ty zashchitish' yeye ot nikh, da?" ((When I'm gone, you'll protect her from them, yes?)) Between Mikhail and Irina, Liz has enough Russian to occasionally surprise.

Finally seated in the restaurant, Elisabeth takes the infant from her godfather and nuzzles her. She curls the baby and herself into the corner seat, places her order for butter chicken — cuz as soon as Cassandra mentioned it, she had a huge craving for it — and settles in to nurse Aurora discreetly in the corner while they all chat. "I had no idea that you spoke French, dorogoy," Liz comments mildly. "Do you speak any other languages that I should know about?" she teases.

Cassandra makes sure to sit on the outside of the booth, giving Liz a little bit of privacy from passerby, ordering her own Butter Chicken with extra naan. She’s craving it something fierce!. That and choosing the back corner of the restaurant, too, helped with the privacy part.. Felix’s question gets a nod. “Sou kòm byen ke ou pale Angle, Seyè.” ((Just about as well as you speak English, Sir.)) she replies to Felix with a grin. “It’s a different flavor of language, as far as things go. You can pick a couple of words out, here and there, but it’s different. What I said was ‘Just about as well as you speak English, Sir.’ In French, it would be…” She takes a second to translate. “A propos aussi bien que vous parlez anglais, monsieur… Like two or three words are close and the cadence is kind of the same.”

Cassie has a pretty interesting suite of languages to pull from, it seems.

“Just those two.” She replies, taking a sip of her water once the waitress brings it out to them all. “Well, and English, obviously.”

Liz has startled him, that’s clear, by the way his eyes widen. Then he grins. The endearment, right in the feelings. “A little high school French. I could probably make my way around Paris okay, but that’s that. The one that you probably don’t expect is that I have fluent New York Spanish,” He adds, with that twinkle in his eyes. “Because in their wisdom, my superiors in the New York Police decided that the first foot beat assignment for a pair of rookie cops - one of whom was raised in Chinatown, the other of whom was raised in Little Odessa - was Spanish Harlem.”

It still makes him laugh, decades later. Then as Liz asks that, he sobers a little. “Da. Khorosho.” Yes. It’s good. A nod at Cass. “I understand that Acadian French is actually something of a preservation of French as it was spoken centuries ago. Never did get down to New Orleans, myself. All my FBI postings were either west or east coast.”

It is rare that she uses the Russian unless his mother or grandfather are nearby — despite both speaking English beautifully, the also both insisted that she should learn proper Russian. So Elisabeth has worked on it and shoots an almost-shy grin at Felix when he looks so pleased. She nods at his assurance that he'll look out for Cassandra, though, and then quirks a brow. "I remember you telling me that you'd been in Spanish Harlem," she observes. "I had totally forgotten that." There's a chuckle. "Chinatown is always far too interesting for the likes of us, though." Last time they went to Chinatown together — well, in her world, at least — she and Felix and Leland got shot at.

"Cassandra, you said your father is a district attorney down there?" Liz asks easily, though for a moment something flickers behind her eyes. Felix might recognize it as a kind of concern — her identity is backstopped, but … not if anyone digs too far. "I bet he's got his hands full."

Cassandra nods. “The long and the short of it is the Acadian exodus from Canada. The Cajun forefathers were exiled from Canada in the 1700’s and ended up in Louisiana, bringing their language with them.” Very abridged history there. The Russian gets a little look between the two, since she has an idea she's being talked about. She knows Da is yes, but other than that, no comprehension.

“Assistant District Attorney, but yes. Specializing in financial and tame cases. Nothing newsworthy - he just does his job, prosecutes the businessmen for cheating folk, and comes home. I think he's more interested in fishing than law at this point.” Not the kind to dig.

“I need to explore the city some. “ Cassandra changes the subject a little. “I've avoided a few of the neighborhoods due to lack of time. I have done the tourist stuff - you know, the statue, Times Square. Stuff like that. Spanish Harlem and Brooklyn sound exotic, but I bet they're a little different for a girl from the swamps like me.”

He’s content to nibble at the papadum brought them first for a bit, listening thoughtfully. “Yeah. It was a ludicrous choice - but I learned Spanish real fast. ADmittedly, a lot of it is the kind of Spanish you’d never use in church, but…” He shrugs at that, eloquently. A nod at Liz, as if to reassure her.

“It’s wonderful. Or it was. There’s something about the old ethnic neighborhoods, towns within the city, all cheek by jowl,” he says, musingly. “No better city for an immigrant in the US, I’d say. I lived briefly in DC when I was a kid, didn’t like it much.”

"Ffft," Elisabeth snorts. "DC is a pit," she opines, glancing down to rearrange herself and Aura with expert hands, ever discreet. "I can't remember if I've ever been to New Orleans, though. Maybe in college, but… " She doesn't have those memories. "Having those experiences are actually why I love living in this city, though — so much to see and experience." She smiles slightly. "Not to mention the foodgasms."

“It's a transcendent experience, the food in N’awlins.” Cassandra grins, dipping a spoon into Felix’s papadum to steal a taste for herself. “Commander’s Palace, K-Paul’s, beignets on the square at Cafe du Monde. Oysters at the oyster house on Market…” she grins. “ If you ever get a hankering, we should make the trip down. I'm a good tour guide, and Rory’ll get all sorts of experience.” Good, all around.

There’s that sharp grin from Felix. “DC is a pit,” he agrees. “And that’s part of why I’m not gunning harder for the ADD job,” he notes. “It’s also not something Lee’s real eager to do, and he makes sacrifices already for my job.” It’s clearly meant to be shared with the table - crispy cracker-like breads, with various sauces, and he shoves it out into the center. “I’m tempted. I’ve never been. And I bet Lee would like it.” Lee, Lee, Lee. Well, he did marry the guy, presumably he’s enamored of him.

Elisabeth is actually grinning in amusement at Felix's prattle about his love. Her pleasure in his happiness is just as obvious as that kiss on the church grounds — the blonde is not the most usual person Cassandra's ever met. After all, she clearly still loves the agent at the table, but she's also just as clearly happy he's married! Strange woman.

"Maybe we'll go down for Mardi Gras some year," Elisabeth considers. "It'd be neat to see parades and such. Although tourist hell." She grins. "We'll drag Lee too, and he can grouse about it all the way down." Cuz he's a grumpy brat sometimes.

Cassandra makes a face at that. “You want to stay away from New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Too many tourists, deafening sounds, although with you that may not be a thing. On top of that, everything is more expensive, the wait times are brutal, and you can't find a hotel room anywhere in the city unless you schedule it like now for next year.” She leans back as the waiter arrives with their plates, each slid in front of the person that ordered it, steaming on a pile of fragrant Jasmine rice. “The trick is to get a hotel on a parade route with a balcony and just watch from there. We did it once and it was awesome, but being in the street? No place to be for sensible folk.”

Felix gets a grin. “We'd make sure to get you both to see the Krewe of Amon Ra or Mwendo. They're a lot of fun. I do have a friend from school that got into the Lords of Leather Krewe too, but that might be a little too much for your first time.” She takes a bite and sighs happily. “Oh, oh! Chewbacchus! The sci-fi Krewe led by the guy who plays Chewbacca in those movies. That’s the one we should hit.”

“I’ve heard the best time to go is a few weeks afterwards,” Fel notes, thoughtfully. “Quieter, people are recovered from their hangovers….rates are lower. I’m not so much for the street noise myself, that kind of thing. And aren’t there lesser festivals at other times of the year?” he muses. “I’m not much of a drinker, these days.’ Considering what his metabolism does to booze…

But it’s clear the thought is a pleasant one. If only he could get Lee to loosen up on the monogamy….

Elisabeth completes the feeding of the rapacious infant, now dozing while she nurses, in short order — In just the three months since the birth, she's gotten quite adept at doing what she's doing over there without most people being the wiser. She shifts around a bit, rearranging herself and getting the kidlet up onto her shoulder for burps, where the baby sleeps the boneless sleep that only children and teenagers can generally manage. As she pats Aura on the bottom she looks thoughtful. "Yeah, I'm not a huge fan of crowds anymore either. Harder to see them co—" She clears her throat. "You know — hard to maneuver around in them, and I have a bit of a thing about being hemmed in these days."

Ruefully she comments, "And now that I think about that, why am I considering performance as a career? Jesus."

Cassandra nods to Felix. “Usually. If you really want the traditional Mardi Gras, go out to Tibodaux or Hauman and you'll get the Courur de Mardi Gras, with people begging for gumbo ingredients or chasing the chicken in their costumes….” She giggles. “God it sounds silly saying it, but it's really a lot of fun.”

Then, to Liz, Cassandra smiles. “It's simple. You're good at singing and can make a lot of people happy by doing so in public. Got to take the good with the bad, after all.” Food has vanished into Cassie in the way that teenagers do, with short pauses for breath in between bites. Her plate suitably consumed, Aurora is taken from Elisabeth so she can eat, the baby snuggling into the crook of Cassie’s arm in the way she does, face down, letting Cassie pat her on the back, drunk on mother’s milk.

It’s enough to make Fel raise his brows at Liz. “Are you?” he asks, still in that mild voice. “You’ve got the talent. But do you want the exposure?” He can’t really bring up the subject of this Liz going home with Cassie on hand. “Not much for crowds myself.” His experiences….not as bad as his counterpart’s. But bad, nonetheless.

A grin for Cassie. “That sounds more fun to me. Silly as it sounds for someone who grew up in two of the biggest cities on earth…..I have my moments of claustrophobia. And having gone through a few riots when I was a cop, yeah….”

She gives Cass a smile as the younger woman takes the baby, now tucking into her own food with gusto. But Felix's query brings Liz's blue eyes back to him and she nods slightly. "I am. I don't think I'm going to even attempt the whole superstar stage venues, but … making the rounds of the club circuit? The ones that I play piano for are actually pretty interested. And… it'll make more money than just playing a couple nights a week and waiting tables," she points out. She's never really lacked for a career before, so this is an all-new (and not wonderful) experience for her.

With Felix showing interest in real Mardi Gras, Cassandra launches into an explanation of the history of the holiday - how it lines up with Catholicism, why it's done, and even what some of the traditions are, some of which date back to medieval France. It's an interesting conversation, made more so by the whole thing being done in the middle of an Indian restaurant. If this is how she gushes on about things that are historic that she knows, just imagine how passionate she'd be about the things she discovers.

As Cassie talks, Rory does that boneless thing sleeping babies do. And finally, when she finishes, Cassandra sits back and listens. When she does speak, her voice is quiet to keep from disturbing the baby’s slumber. “When people think music, they always go for big things - tours and platinum albums. If you just want d to get out there, you could start a Youtube channel for your original work while you do session stuff or piano bars on the side. Leaves plenty of time for Baby stuff, should earn you a decent living, and keeps you relatively anonymous unless you want to stick your neck out more.”

Fel listens with interest, as he eats. He doesn’t try to argue Liz out of the idea….though he looks merely thoughtful. Strange to think of - this Liz here long term. Out of time, out of another world. But….if this one is so much better than hers, of course it’s tempting.

Cassie’s explanation ….he’s silent through that, asking a question, now and again. Liz knows that look: wheels turning. And Cass is young, but it’s never too early to interest her in the career her ability would be so useful for. Investigation, law enforcement. What could he have done in Homicide, with that skill? He even sighs, at one point, wistful.

Elisabeth glances at him when he sighs, and she can't help the faint grin. "Feeb — I can smell your brain in overdrive from here. She might be a great cop, but you and I both know cop is a calling. If she doesn't feel it, let her just volunteer her help where she can," she murmurs, the words hidden from Cassandra by her power and going only to Felix's ears. She winks at him, and then looks at the teenager.

"That's actually a really good idea," she replies easily. "I don't want to be a face plastered all over. But… I can't go back to my old job." She meets Felix's gaze, her regret for that visible perhaps only to him in this case because she's hiding it from Cassandra as much as she can. She misses being a cop, helping people. But she cannot step into that sphere, and especially not with Pinehearst potentially looking for them.

If Cassie can answer the questions about Courur de Mardi Gras, she does. If she can’t, she doesn’t, but gives an opinion that sounds rather grounded in fact. As someone who grew up around it, she’s got a unique view of the event and has a few insights that probably can’t be found in books. Firsthand experience, for instance, of the begging, sitting with her Mama and making her costume out of bits of old clothes, almost like a harlequin’s suit, and the masks made of porch screen with faces painted on, giving the person behind an ethereal quality, almost like looking at a face through a foggy window.

Finally, she comes to a decision, turning to the man. “Look, if you need me to look into something, give me a call. That’s really all I can offer right now. Make the contact through Pinehearst that you guys are interested and they’ll come to me, and then I’ll be able to make the decision without stepping on any toes with my internship. I’m really not looking for a paycheck or anything like that…I mean, it’s nice, but I really just need the practice.” Paychecks will probably be quietly donated to Elisabeth’s church or, more likely, splurged on Rory. Cassie uses a bit of naan to scoop up some of the sauce and rice on her plate, eating it with her left hand as she processes. “Tell you what - give me a poke when you have some time with something non-case related. Then I can show you what to expect and how it works, and then we can go from there. I suggest something not related to a case that you are personally familiar with, that I couldn’t possibly know. Just give me an object, a date, and let me roll and see what comes out.”

Cassie turns to Elisabeth, nodding. “Oh yeah, I can see that. Once you have a kid of your own, the last thing you want to do is go out and teach more of them.” She doesn’t know anything about Elisabeth’s past other than what she’s been told, so she thinks her old job is being a teacher.

AS per usual, Liz has his number. Always has. Fel doesn’t quite look chagrined, but he gives her that little headtip of acknowledgement. You got me. He looks even more rueful when Liz notes she can’t step back into her old job. If only she could. But there’s a shrug, It is what it is, and he’s ultimately a pragmatist. When he’s not being a quixotic idealist.

Cassie gets a nod. “It’s best if we find a way to frame it in terms of your previous work volunteering with it,” he says, slowly. He can’t be upfront about how little he trusts Pinehearst. Not yet.

Aaaaannnnnd there you go — Cassandra is already volunteering herself. Elisabeth chuckles quietly. Never mind, she muses, her thought clear to Felix. He's going to get his investigator, eventually, it appears. She leans back in her seat, her appetite sated now that she's managed to eat about half of what's on her plate, and she sighs in contentment. For a long moment, she seems to be considering something at Cass's offer, but she shrugs slightly. "I told you before… someday I'll take you up on that offer. Not yet, though." When she's ready for whatever might be revealed. Could be nothing, but… she's not ready yet.

"Looks like you have a volunteer consultant, Feeb," she teases lightly. But she already knows that he'll look out for Cass. She leans toward the teen and confides in an aside, "It's always better to be a consultant. Then they can't boss you around."

Cassie gives Elisabeth a sidelong glance, dabbing her naan in the butter chicken sauce on Elisabeth’s plate, taking another big bite of the stuff. “I’m not volunteering…I’m just….um…offering my services on a per diem basis.” It sounds a little more fancy than volunteer when she puts it that way. Plus it’s a line on her resume. “My work with Pinehearst hasn’t been much so far. Just testing. Lots of testing. To find limits.” She may have said this earlier but she’s got a Rory to tend to - it’s easy to forget when something this cute is using your shoulder for a pillow.

“All I can say? It’s going to be an interesting year.”

This Felix has learned….patience? Discretion? Wisdom enough not to insist. Gently, gently is the watchword here. She’s young yet, and it’s good to start early. For Liz is right, being a cop is a calling, almost, like a religious vocation. He takes a bite or two more, before asking, “What limits have you found, if I may ask? And what sort of tests have they done?”

His manner’s a lot more laid back than the OCD bastard this Liz had as her lover, in her original timeline. But the persistence is there, of course it is. Just….cushioned.

Elisabeth grins slightly, curious about Cass's limits herself. "If there's one thing they're good at in the business world," she comments mildly, "it's figuring out the best uses of abilities. So take advantage of everything they want to teach you and ask you to do — it can only serve you better in the end." Her words to the teen sound like nothing more than business advice, but her blue eyes catch Felix's and the glance that passes between them is perhaps fraught with other layers. A faint smile quirks Liz's lips and she tops her water glass toward the Russian-born Feeb. Lookit what I got ya, Felix!

Cassandra grins. “You got it, Elisabeth.”

Wow, a teenager taking advice from an older friend. Who would have thought that could be a thing? She’s planning to be a sponge - to learn everything she can, along with limits and possibilities so she can be the most help to the most people she can be. It’s altruistic, the way she wants to use her ability. Getting rich is a nice goal, but it doesn’t enrich the soul as well as being someone helpful in the scheme of things.

She turns to Felix on the other side of the table and shrugs. “Well…the only limits I know now are that my ability doesn’t work on anyone alive, since they’re still putting out the echoes I’m following. I can’t grab your hand and go back to see what you had for breakfast, for instance. It just doesn’t work. I’m getting a handle on freezing the scenes and rewinding them - it makes it easier to get things from notes or pages or screens in the vision, but right now I just go and stop when I can’t go any more. Testing has been kind of boring, really. They bring an item and have me show the past from it. Generally it’s simple things - toys, a notebook, a bit of clothing - but they’re starting to move me towards forensics and the like. See if I can tell where something came from. It’s interesting, what they may move me towards.”

Liz knows that gleam in his eyes, as he nods at that. Then there’s a whimsical little smile. “If I had something on me I’d care to see how you read, would you mind demonstrating for me? If you don’t want to do so here and now in actual public, I’d be fine waiting,” Nearly done with his korma - he doesn’t wolf food down, but clearly, he’s someone who generally leaves the plate clean, as it were. Has to, with that metabolism, really.

Another sidelong glance at Liz, as if she’s appointed guardian for Cassie as well as her daughter.

The blonde gives a nearly imperceptible nod of acknowledgment to Felix — she's already on it. She continues to eat her own lunch, casting a brief glance at her baby — it's always amusing to see the boneless slump over someone else's shoulder, after all — and looks curious. "Is it something that's got a wide radius? I mean… would it draw a lot of attention here?"

Cassandra shakes her head in the negative. “From what I’ve been told, it doesn’t look like anything is going on from outside my range. About ten feet square, more or less, is my range of influence. You can see beyond that range from in the square, but I really can’t move around.” The implication of ‘yet’ is there, though. “I mean….” She pushes up a little, looking around. Liz’s choice of spots in the restaurant - back corner - and the lack of people. “I could probably do something here, if you wanted. I keep a couple of trinkets in my bag that can be interesting.”

She’s elected to humor Felix. This….may end up being interesting. He reaches into his vest pocket, comes out with an actual pocket watch, of all things. Heavy steel, with an enameled medallion on the front in red and white - a red star, a hammer and sickle in silver, and a white ring with something in Russian written around it, complete with a matching chain. This he proffers to her, with the smallest of smiles - more a suggestion in the lines around his eyes and mouth than the thing itself.

“Indulge me?” he asks, with an amused lilt to his tone. To Liz, it might be faintly familiar - a relic from Grandfather Mikhail.

Now she's really curious. Grandfather Mikhail is one of her favorite people. And she smiles, reaching out to take Aurora from Cassandra. "Now you've done it," she teases lightly. But she snuggles the infant up under her chin and watches, her blue eyes alight with interest.

The heavy pocket watch is taken lightly once Rory has been passed over, the baby not waking due to the transition. It's turned over in her hand a couple of times before she nods, bending to retrieve a red bandanna from her bag. Shifting, she moves to sit with her back to the front of the store, facing Liz, next to Felix. “Just a quickie.” She says with a smirk. “I normally don't do this in public places, but….”. She trails off with a grin, placing the watch on the table in front of her and tying the blindfold around her eyes. She wiggles a little in the seat and takes the watch in her hand, closing both hands around it. “Okay….” her head comes up, the woman looking to Felix and Liz, through the blindfold. “Stay seated. It's going to get dark.”

And she's right. As she goes silent, the light starts to fade from around them, until the only things that can be seen are the table in front of them and each other. “This watch is…well travelled.” She remarks, turning it over in her hand as she heads for the first memory she can sense - the strongest one. The sweet-seeming one..

He suspects what it will be, does Felix. This is a test of sorts. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a shock when the dimness resolves into a little room. A boy’s bedroom, in fact, the walls painted a pale blue-gray. There’s a model fighter plane hanging in a corner, a pennant for some sports team in bright scarlet and white, a desk tucked into the corner. Barely space for it, the bed, and a dresser.

There’s a boy sitting on the edge of the twin bed, a battered suitcase by him. Small and skinny, made owlish by the glasses he wears….but somehow, identifiably Felix, just Felix at the very end of childhood, before puberty really hits. His clothes are a little too large for him, the kind meant to grow into. A white shirt, pants, almost a schoolboy’s uniform.

Facing him, poised on the desk’s chair, is an older man. Iron gray hair, a sharp face, and eyes the hot blue of a gas flame, with deeply graven lines around him. The family resemblance is clear, despite the generations of time between them. He’s got the watch in his hand….and as they watch, he demonstrates how to wind it, for it’s of the kind so old there’s no battery. Then he takes Felix’s hand, deposits it gently in the boy’s palm, and wraps his fingers around it. A gift, clearly.

Felix looks at it, clutches it to himself after a moment, then looks down. Very clearly frightened and upset, and just as clearly determined not to cry in front of the man he reveres. He’s saved from his struggle by the older man sweeping him into his arms and holding him, and Fel clings desperately, stifling his sobs in the old man’s coat. But he masters himself soon enough, and detaches to sit back on the bed, only wiping at his nose and sniffling, embarrassed.

“Keep it for me, until I see you again,” says the old man. “You will end up somewhere good, and I will come see you, and see who you’ve grown up to be,” Russian, of course, but somehow the gist is clear.

"Dedushka verit v vas vo vsekh, Felix," Elisabeth smiles faintly, a hint of tears in her blue eyes as she watches the interaction. ((Grandfather believes in you in all worlds.)) "On vsegda tak gord." ((He is always so proud.))

Patting the sleeping Aurora's behind while she watches the byplay, Elisabeth glances at him. "Please kiss him for me when you see him next?" she asks, just a hint of sadness in her features. So many people she can't chance seeing… her own father is among them as well.

Cassie traces the hammer and sickle with her thumb as the image plays out around them in full three dimensions, sound and color and smells and all, the trio sitting just at the edge of the bed, watching the interplay between grandfather and grandson. The image slows, Cassie reaching over to rest a hand on Felix’s arm, patting it lightly, the embrace lasting between the pair. “Is that enough, or do you need to see more?” she asks quietly.

It’s left Fel still and silent, as the image resolves “I will,” he says to Liz, with a little hint of a smile. “I will. He’s doing well, considering he’s nearly a hundred.” Then to Cassie, “Yes, thanks much. That’s very impressive.” Poor Cass. She doesn’t know what she’s gotten herself into. For all the sweetness and sentimentality….that’s an invaluable skill. She’ll never get rid of him now, Pinehearst be damned.

Content in a way she hasn't been in a long time, Elisabeth watches the two, knowing full well that she's put in motion a sea change in Cassandra's career trajectory. But the ties to Pinehearst will, for a time, serve Elisabeth's purpose. And then getting her under Felix's care while Liz works on either going home or helping take down Arthur Petrelli again will assure Cass's safety when shit hits the fan… which it inevitably does in Liz's life. And if she feels a little bad about manipulating other people's lives this way? Well… Cassandra's already involved with Pinehearst. Liz is just using the tie for her own ends before helping Cass sever it, thereby keeping the girl — who is now one of Her People — safe.

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