The Siren And The Hydra


broome_icon.gif elisabeth2_icon.gif

Scene Title The Siren and The Hydra
Synopsis Broome ambushes Elisabeth in her office, and the game ensues.
Date Nov 28, 2010

Textile Factory 17, Elisabeth's Office

How do people fucking do this job? Elisabeth's coming from talking to Gavyn Mitchell. Her operative had to kill people today. And while she can handle herself on the killing front these days — Christ alone knows how many people she's actually killed in the past two years, honestly — dealing with someone else's grief over it is always harder. Rubbing her forehead, Elisabeth steps into the conference room that first Sarisa took over and now Liz has made her own office.

She's dressed warmly, her black slacks and heavy grey sweater not doing much to alleviate the wan face. Walking pneumonia sucks rocks. Elisabeth should be in bed and can't seem to find the time to make that happen. So coughing that wet, heavy cough that has taken her over in the past two days, she carries her hot tea with honey into the conference room with her hoping to get some of the mountain of paperwork accomplished before she can't see straight anymore. Her attention is more on not spilling the mug in her hands than on the possibility that anyone else might be in the office — she's not expecting company. And her ability is still way, way on the fritz. So with the fluid in her ears in addition to that, she's feeling particularly muffled and a little hard of hearing, though in point of fact her hearing would test out just fine.

The day, let alone the week, has been hard. FRONTLINE is pulled to its limits, even with a swell of activity and membership. That there are stacks of paperwork that require Elisabeth's attention shouldn't be a surprise. Equipment requisitions from the mechanics teams, a repair status update on the GPV Colonel 2 that was critically damaged in two recent altercations prior to and during the riots, Horizon armor repair forms, a multitude of things that makes it no small wonder that Sarisa Kershner seemed to have zero patience when she had this job.

Not two minutes into her office do knuckles rap on the glass face of the door, followed by a click of the latch and one of the floor technicians leaning in. "Ah, Sir?" The young man looks over his shoulder back into the communications center, then back inside to Elisabeth. "We just had a VIP badge get run through front security. There's a car on the way in to the courtyard, DOD contractor by the name of Doctor Simon Broome? He says he has an appointment with you?"

Well, he does now anyway.

She's just barely sitting down in her chair to deal with the mess when the kid knocks. And she does think of him as a kid. Elisabeth sighs quietly. "Escort him up when he gets in," she instructs him mildly, giving no indication that she wasn't expecting the man. "And ask him if he'd like anything." The implied order to 'bring it' not needing to be spoken. She doesn't bother to correct him that she's not a 'sir' — it's getting her nowhere and she's tired of arguing about it.

When her office door closes behind him, Liz leans back and drops her head against the back of her chair and murmurs, "No wonder she never wanted details. Christ. How'd she make time to piss?" Shoving a hand through her hair and then stifling a hard bout of coughing behind her arm. When Dr. Broome is escorted in, she's at least attempting to finish up one page of bullshit paperwork in her mountain.

It's a quick arrival, just a few minutes after the advanced warning was given. Elisabeth can hear Simon out in the main floor and partly see him through slatted blinds before he walks in briskly, much as he had the day they had met outside of Braintree. Going from parapalegic to fully ambulatory must be an uplifting experience.

As he steps in thorugh the office door, Simon's expression is that of a measured smile. The grandfatherly good nature seems a touch more tempered in light of what happened in Cambridge, but as Simon closes the office door behind himself to minimize noise from the communications center, his greeting to Elisabeth is no less warm.

"You're looking somewhat better." It is admittedly a small exaggeration, but any improvement is improvement.

"Ffft," Elisabeth dismisses in a rasp. "Thanks — I appreciate the kindness," she retorts drily. Because it is definitely a severe overstatement. Quirking a brow, she gestures to a chair. "Please, do have a seat, Dr. Broome. Did Biggs offer you a drink? It's a miserable day out."

"I'm not thirsty, but I appreciate the offer." Hands folding behind his back as he speaks, Broome slowly makes his way over to Elisabeth's desk. "I thought that you and I might finish that conversation we were having last week. I have some business to attend to out here in the city, and I thought why not settle that before moving on to future endeavors?" Both of Simon's brows lift as he closes the distance to the desk, looking down to the paperwork, then back up to Elisabeth.

"You seemed to have moreo n your mind when you were in Cambridge, more than you managed to say at the very least…" One of Broome's weathered hands moves from behind his back, scratching under his chin lightly at a faint hint of gray stubble there from not having shaved in the morning.

Elisabeth moves to stand up and come around the desk she's using, joining him instead of leaving the desk between them. She brings the mug of tea with her, and as she settles into the seat she leaves him plenty of space to sit in the other or not as he chooses. "There are a great many things I have on my mind, Dr. Broome," she admits to him in a husky tone. "But as you've pointed out… I'm not exactly the most trusting sort these days. You seem to want my trust, and I can't quite figure out why." She studies him quietly, her blue eyes clouded with a hint of puzzlement. "I just can't get a handle on what you want of me."

"Therein lies your problem," Simon admits with a furrow of his brows and a slow shake of his head. "You expect that everyone wants something from you, and not for you." Dark eyes level down to the floor, and Simon begins to wander the room as he talks, slowly diverting away from Elisabeth. "You're someone very special to a good, old, friend of mine."

Looking up and over to Elisabeth, Simon's expression turns into a bittersweet smile. "What happened to you in his future has always been a point of stress for Richard, through all the years he and I knew one another. That I want nothing but the best for you, simply is an extension of the friendship he and I shared. What I am hoping, is that you will come to understand that."

Tucking his hands into the pockets of his slacks, Simon looks away again, to the blinded windows. "I know the Institute's methods must seem cruel, barbaric at times. But from the outside looking in, there is little other way I can imagine it might seem. What you saw when you were there, however, at the heart of our endeavor…" Simon's dark eyes track across the room, back to Liz. "Maybe now you're able to see some of the bigger picture?"

Pursing her lips, Elisabeth's expression is a rueful one. "Well, in my experience generally people do want something from me, Dr. Broome." The past two years have been… rough. She considers his words and then says quietly, "What did happen to me in his future?" she asks curiously. Because like most people, when you offer a tidbit of forbidden knowledge, it's really hard not to want to know. "He's told me that he had me killed and then resurrected. But I gather that's not the end of that little story," she says with a faint smile. "Richard and I have ever been…. " She pauses, choosing her words carefully but with amusement. "Unconventional." She sips her tea, pondering. "The Richard you know and the one that I know… they are different men. And I find myself curious about how he went from where we are now to where you are now," she admits.

"Time changes all things," Simon asserts poetically as he takes in a deep breath, exhaling it in a slow sigh. "Richard hasn't spoken much about what happened between the two of you, and obviously the sequence of events leading up to what did happen have changed; small ripples, the current flows around them." Quoting one of Edward's aphorisms seems par for the course with people Cardinal associates with.

"Your Richard has thirty years to become the man I know, and the difference between them may not be as great as you think." Simon gances down to the chair near Elisabeth's desk, then back up to her. "I know that after he brought you back to life, things weren't ever quite the same. His guilt over what he'd done, on not telling you that he had, ate him alive. I know you both grew distant, and…" Simon trails off, shaking his head slowly. "That's the length and width of all he's ever said to me."

"It would have taken far more than that for me to remove his access to his child, Simon," Elisabeth tells him softly. "Far more than being distant. So I'd have to say that you're probably as lacking in the true picture of what was going on — and possibly his own part in it — as I am." She sighs heavily and then says quietly, "He acted on Edward's orders. And those orders — the timeline he's attempting to safeguard — includes my death. You have to understand why I'm viewing you wanting to do things for me and his job offer to me with some amount of skepticism. I…" She pauses, biting her lip and looking down to her cup. "I'm afraid to trust him. To trust you." She looks up again, her tone still rough with the illness. "I will love Richard Cardinal until the day I die. And probably into hell itself. But understanding why he killed me in a future timeline doesn't mean that I want to deliver myself to be killed either as he tries to keep to the roadmap that he knows."

"If Richard wanted to kill you he wouldn't have had me reach out," Simon explains with a slow shake of his head. "Guilt over having followed Edward's blueprints— and only partly— was unavoidable. He never wanted to finish that design and he made it clear to me. He's no more beholden to Edward Ray than your Cardinal likely is. One of the many reasons we have kept Professor Ray at the Institute is to ensure that he doen't interfere with things any further."

Simon exhales another tired sigh, then lifts up a hand to scratch at his cheek. "Richard doesn't want to change the future, but he is still human, Elisabeth. Whatever happened between the two of you in his time, I don't think he wants a repeat of that. Maybe for the sake of the son you and he are yet to have, maybe for the sake of making the best of the future he knows is coming. Small ripples, like your survival, aren't moving mountains. Just like saving the lives of his friends, lives like Eve…"

Simon's lips sag down into a solemn frown. "Change just enough, and the roadmap stays the same. Nudge too hard one way or another, and all is for naught. Dangerous game, that, but as Albert Einstein once said: God does not roll dice."

She is quiet for a long time, the wheels in her head turning over and over with the information he's offering. When she looks back at him, Elisabeth speaks quietly. "Playing with the timestream is something like plugging a volcano — if you try to stop what's coming, it makes the explosion that much bigger when it comes. We've already seen that with the escalations since Arthur Petrelli died. So… let's say that I'm willing to believe you — that he doesn't want me dead so that his own personal timeline stays on track." She smiles faintly. "Because I'm not stupid enough to think that my death will move mountains — but it will alter things in Cardinal's timeline, and you said yourself that you were trying to make sure that Richard's life stays as close as possible to the one that Cardinal came from." She tilts her head. "So…. how can you tell me that on the one hand, and then on the other tell me that he doesn't want me dead? He's the only person who knew that Richard wasn't going to have Lola take that shot at me on Nov 8." She's watching very carefully. "He's the only one who could have known that I was supposed to be dead that night and that it wasn't going to happen. There was no second sniper in the original timeline. Explain that to me, and then maybe I'll be willing to seriously consider that you actually are looking out for me."

"You answered that question yourself, Elisabeth," Simon opines with a furrow of his brows, turning to face Liz fully. "Keep his timeline as close as possible. There are some possibilities that we've already altered. Recruiting Darren long before your death, for one. We are already moving towards an idealization of Richard's history. As close to his timeline as possible, with enough small nudges that do not change the big picture but afford ourselves a stronger footing."

Brows pinching together, Broome tilts his head to the side. "As for any attempts on your life, all I can offer are my condolances on the stress that must have caused. But change is not without a certain amount of risk, and I don't think either you or I need to be told one of the many ideoms of manipulating the future— time has momentum."

Scratching at his cheek, Broome takes a slow step towards Liz. "If Richard didn't agree to perform the killing, than any number of other people may have stepped in to fill that vacuume. You're a high profile individual, Elisabeth, and a powerful woman. To think that you might not have enemies is haughty even for a Harrison." There's a faint crack of Broome's dour expression into a smile. "Those enemies, temporal momentum… sometimes, coincidences align just so, and lives wind up on the line."

Elisabeth studies him quietly, her blue eyes shuttered. "I have enemies," she admits quietly. "But I'm not blind to the fact that certain parts of a man's history have pivotal and profound effects that perhaps Cardinal isn't sure he can replicate in himself without living it again. So it's a possibility that must be considered. And as I pointed out to you — a good investigator considers all the options. Even the ones that leave a bitter taste in the mouth." She sip from her tea once more and then sets the cup on the desk, covering a the deep chest cough as she makes it again.

"I'm flattered that you think I'm so powerful," Liz admits with a smile. "Mostly I seem to be a glorified paper pusher." She shoves a hand through her hair, her voice raspy. "Thank you, though…. Cardinal said he regretted the decision, and after speaking to you… I'm willing to concede that I may be a touch on the paranoid side. It's been a tough year." She pauses and looks up at him.

"You said he had you reach out to me. What is it that he thinks I can do for you that you're not already doing for yourselves?"

"Please," Broome says with a furrow of his brows, "you sit in the seat of a growing private security firm that— with your ties to Kershner— have given you enough resources and financial leverage to put yourself into a considerably strong situation in the political landscape. You command an entire unit of FRONTLINE and you have a trained, loyal and powerful team of specialists under your command." Simon's brown eyes narrow just a touch.

"Sounds a lot like the Institute, doesn't it?" Perhaps, in that, there is something telling. "You're more powerful than you are aware, Elisabeth. But why Richard had me reach out to you is entirely personal. It isn't that we want you to do anything for us, Elisabeth. We just want you on the right side of things. All this power, all this influence, it makes you a target. Richard would be happier, more comfortable, if you came to live in Cambridge and work at the facility you saw Eve at on a permanent basis."

"I can't do my job from there," Elisabeth says reasonably. "And while the offer is very generous and a good bit tempting — what with people attempting to shoot me in the head yet again — I can't accept it." There's genuine regret in her tone. "I've already told him that if he needs my help, he has but to ask. If the attempts on my life become more… prevalent… I will consider the invitation further. But I don't like the idea of being this far from my team and their activities, Simon."

The blonde pauses and then smiles a little. "Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?" Elisabeth asks curiously.

There seems to be little surprise at this point in the game on Elisabeth's choice to avoid castling with the king, as it were. Broome's reaction is a measured smile, polite in the way a parent is when they think a child is making a mistake, but willing to let them make it. "I'm largely an open book for you, Elisabeth, whatever it is you feel you need to ask, I'll do my best to provide you with an honest answer, provided that it doesn't endanger the lives of any of the trusted people who have put their faith in myself and the Institute to protect them."

Hands folding behind his back once more, Simon's brows lift, watching Liz with eyes that seem far less deep than when she met him in Cambridge, far less consuming.

The faint smile that quirks one corner of her mouth is perhaps also given away by the twinkle in those blue eyes. "Are you Simon Broome in a cloned body, a time-traveling version, or something else?" Elisabeth asks candidly. "Because I've seen at least two versions of you at this point, and I'm intrigued by exactly how that's the case."

Laughing, Broome offers a sheepish smile and lifts his brows slowly. "Yes, I… could imagine this is a bit perplexing for you, isn't it?" Lifting one hand and scrubbing at his brow, Simon considers Elisabeth for a moment. "I'm surprised Cardinal didn't tell you what I did in front of him once, in the ruins of the New York Public Library. But," there's a hesitant sigh that slips from Simon's lips, "I suppose not everything is shared."

Glancing to the door to ensure it's closed, Simon's stare lingers only for a moment before he looks back to Elisabeth. "My current ability to manage the Institute has become something like that of the Greek Hydra. A multi-headed beast, after a fashion. We're utilizing the combined abilities of a replicator who can create clones with vegetative blank slate consciousness, in coordination with Doctor Elijah Carpenter, whom you well know can make copies of memories and personalities. I may look eighty, by merits of a flesh manipulator on our staff… but this is actually the body of a man in his thirties on the inside."

Smiling fondly, Simon flexes his wrinkled hands open and closed. "There are… many of me, working in concert, all around the world. Each of us independant people, copied from the original Simon Broome that you met just a few days ago."

The explanation is what she expected to hear — but then again, her parents are lawyers. Sometimes one asks questions that they already know the answers to in order to determine truth. Elisabeth nods slightly. "I'm familiar with Carpenter, yes," she replies mildly. "I wondered which was the original, primarily," she admits to her curiosity.

Covering yet another cough, Elisabeth reaches for her tea again. "I'll keep the option of moving up to Cambridge in mind," she says quietly. "For the moment, I have too much to do here to feel comfortable with the idea of being away while Richard is …. regrouping." There's something in her tone that hints of disapproval, but it is well hidden in her casual tone. "We'll see what happens as time goes on."

"We will," Simon notes warily, brows furrowed. "Just remember, that where Richard goes and what he does, in order to find himself, may put him on the path to finding ways to become the man you say is different." Simon's dark eyes wander away from Elisabeth, then over to the door as he turns for it. "Seasons, time and people all change…"

The old man reaches out to open the door, his hand hovering over the doorknob as he looks over his shoulder in silence to Elisabeth, then back to the door on pulling it open and stepping out into the hall. Whatever parting words he was going to spare beyond that go unsaid. The implications, however, speak louder than words.

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