The Weight Of It All


aric_icon.gif claire_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title The Weight Of It All
Synopsis Elisabeth has a break down and Claire and Aric are there to listen.
Date December 12, 2010

Redbird Security: Basement

She believes herself to be alone in the building. It's nearly curfew. Sunday night. Redbird is not exactly hopping at this hour. And it's the one place right now that Elisabeth feels both safe and secluded besides her apartment. And if she goes to her apartment to work with her damaged ability and blows out her brain again, no one will know to look for her there — at least here if she collapses, someone will eventually stumble on her.

The firing range has the best soundproofing, and that's exactly what Liz wanted when she came. A place to practice not her firearms skills but her Evo ability. There is pain associated. A lot of it. The more she uses it, the more the pain explodes inside her skull. The trickle of blood is steady from both sides of her nose, but Elisabeth has struggled to make the ability work for her for an hour. There are tissues full of blood scattered on the floor near her jeans-clad legs. To her mind, it was dismal — it was a fight every moment. She could hold a silence field for no more than 30 seconds at any given attempt. Her ability to vibrate anything or knock a bottle off the table with a 'shove' of sound is just not there at all yet, or if it is it's so minimal as to be nonexistent. Using her own voice as the tool to be enhanced has now run her throat raw, and to top off her week….. the blonde thinks she might be sick again. A low-grade fever is burning in her.

She is curled into a tiny little ball in the back corner of the firing range near the counter. It's not the best place for a woman terrified of the dark — if someone comes down the stairs, their first instinct would be to shut off the lights because there doesn't appear to be anyone down here. But in some ways… perhaps that too is something she deserves. The blue sweatshirt she wears over a white turtleneck is hard to see in the shadows back there as well, and her arms are wrapped around her knees tightly as she rocks back and forth in the soundproofed firing range, finally finally letting out the fear and hurt and stress and pain of pushing her ability too hard again in harsh, ragged sobs.

Since the 8th, people haven't seen much of a certain member of the group small ragtag group. Maybe a glimpse of dark hair as the small statured form flits out the door. Claire Bennet has been avoiding people again, finding it easier to not answer questions she'd rather not answer. What she'd been doing is a mystery and only for her to know.

She hasn't worn her hair up since she woke up from her semi-coma. So the long slightly curled lengths lay over her shoulders and back. Also missing is the more military look, settling into clothing such as dark green swear and a pair of equally dark blue jeans.

Today she wanted to take some time to actually use the firing range, knowing — or so she thought — that no one was really around.

Reaching the bottom of the stairs, Claire pauses as she hears something, brows furrowing. She doesn't say anything, or call out a hello. Instead, she walks as quietly as possible towards the muffled sound. Stepping into view, the source is spotted. "Oh no.." is softly spoken, before she's hurrying into the firing range. Keds squeak on the flooring, giving warning as Claire moves to crouch next to her friend.

A hand seeks to touch Elisabeth's arm and then fingers curl around it. "Liz?" Claire asks softly, a worried look tilting up eyebrows.

The sounds of the shoes is lost to Elisabeth's hearing right now, hidden both beneath the crying she's doing as well as the feeling of being doubly muffled — first by the fact that the entire basement always feels muffled to her anyway and second by the fact that her ability is still so blown. The first sign Elisabeth has that she's not alone is the soft words. Shit. Just what she needs… someone to see this.

Sucking in a ragged breath, Liz's head pops up and her hands move to wipe roughly her face. She's damn good at a poker face. Or at least… she would be if her eyes weren't puffy, her nose red, and her face swollen by the intensity of those tears. "Oh, hey, Claire," she murmurs in greeting. "Sorry…. migraine. Did you want to use the firing range?" She tries really hard to play this off for the young woman she feels eons older than right now.

"Was planning to. Yeah." Claire's blue eyes study the older woman, unconvinced at that suddenly poker face. Concern is prevalent "But… I think it can wait." Shifting her weight forward, her knees tilt to were they can fall to the floor, seems the ex-cheerleader isn't going anywhere. Why is clear as she glances around at the bloody kleenex everywhere.

"Seems like you need a friend more. That or a really stiff drink." A faint smile shows that Claire is probably half joking on that last bit. "Or both," she amends shortly after.

"I feel like I've been missing some important stuff going on." Hand letting go of Liz's arm to pull a strand of blonde from a tear dampened cheek. "Especially, if it's got you in this state." Claire tilts her head just a little, worried she asks, "What's wrong?"

The gentle movement brings a new wash of tears that Elisabeth valiantly fights to keep from spilling over. "You've got enough on your mind, Claire, without my issues," she says in a voice husky with tears and strain. The younger woman was found, not that long ago, cutting herself. Liz has no intention of burdening Claire with the problems she's facing. Hell, she's not even sure she knows what all the problems are.

"Parkman took care of most of those," Claire points out with a grimace at even mentioning the man's name. Even if he helped free her of whatever Rupert did, he still makes a little knot of fear curl in her stomach. "I think I have room to spare now." The words a little rough, spoken so softly.

Glancing over her shoulder, Claire moves to seat herself against the wall next to the audiokinetic, one shoulder touching the other woman's in a gesture of comfort. Lifting her knees, arms rests on them as she talks. "Especially, for you. We need our leaders strong, keeps the troops moral up." Not that Endgame is any sort of military group, but the analogy works.

"Not to mention, you're my friend and I hate to see you tore up like this," Claire murmurs leaning into that shoulder just a little.

There's a long silence as Elisabeth leans her head back on the wall. Her hold on her knees loosens somewhat to accomodate that move, but she still looks very…. defensive… all hunched in like that. "Strong leaders?" There's a bitter tone to that. "Right now, you have one leader who …. well, he hasn't given up. But he sure as hell just walked out on me." And there is some amount of deep heartache accompanying those words, as if they are torn from her. He hasn't walked out on the mission, he walked out on her. And even as she can feel relief that he's still working on aspects of the goal, that they are still on the same page somehow in terms of dealing with the Institute…. it's like being hit in the stomach all over again to say that out loud.

Miserably, Elisabeth says to Claire, "We finally…. after the Institute attacked here, I felt it was time to enlighten all of you about the nature of what we're facing." She swallows hard. "The head of the Institute is a time-jumped future version of Cardinal. A version that…. somewhere along the way kind of went insane, Claire. Lost his perspective and decided that the only future that was allowed to keep on is the one that he's already lived. So we've got one Richard trying to change things and one Dick trying to hold to the very path that made him insane. And our Richard got pissed off because he's …… God this fucking story is so long," she says in a choked voice.

No hiding the shock that Cardinal walked out, Claire is obviously now realizing how much she's missed with her holing away like a hermit. The blonde's arm is gripped again giving it a gentle squeeze. "God… I'm so sorry, Liz," she murmurs softly, giving Elisabeth her full sympathy.

"But… wait… there are two Cardinal's right now?" Pity melts into something more like confusion. "I think you need to tell me about it. It may be long, but… I do have all the time in the world." And yes, that was an attempt at a lame joke from Claire. "So… I lay it on me."

Aric walks down the stairs, and into the basement. He takes a moment to look around not having his extra senses to aid him. His eyes fall on the women as he gives them a wave. His eyes shimmer with electricity as he adds with a weak smile, "How goes people." He moves to the opposite end of the room and sits down on the floor.

With the desperate need to unload on someone and lacking anyone with whom to share it — and with Claire being the one person who has ridden out the entire year, including Richard Cardinal's 'death' with her — Elisabeth's tears begin again. She searches for where to start, but Christ, it's so much.

"I was supposed to die on Nov 8," Elisabeth tells Claire quietly. "In the future that Dick comes from —," she pauses and asides, "I'm calling him 'Dick' because he is an absolutely asshole dickhead — in that future, he followed the list that Edward Ray had sent us. And my name was one of the ones on it of people who needed to be dead by Nov 8 in order for …. whatever the hell he wanted to happen would happen." To this day she has no idea what that goal was.

"Our Richard had no intention of killing me. Or ordering me killed, in spite of the fact that Dick actually did follow those orders. And ANOTHER version of Edward Ray told him not to follow the list anyway. It's so fucking convoluted. Richard…. " Liz pauses and reaches up to wipe at her tears. "We're both stressed beyond belief. I don't think either one of us really knows what the fuck to do, Claire. And now…. now we're under direct attack by the alternate version of Cardinal, and he didn't want anyone to KNOW that it was a future version of himself even though every one of you is perfectly capable at this point of making the distinction between the two of them." Her words are getting faster and faster as she spills her guts. "So after I told everyone, he got pissed off and for the past month I've tried to let him lay low and deal with the …. I don't know, the guilt, the worry, the fear, the uncertainty that we're all feeling. But he comes back, and then Elle treats him like she's a lover that he's spurned and run away from and I went and told everyone something he didnt' want told, and then he just….. walked. He accused me of wanting to take over and just walked out."

Sucking in a breath, Elisabeth is caught mid-word on a sob, allowing Aric to hear the last of this. "And I don't know what to do with all of this anger. God, Claire, I'm mad at him. I'm so damn lost, I don't know what to do with myself. I don't know the right things to do either. And I know he's got to be feeling the same most of the time, but he sure as hell doesn't talk to me. I'm yet another stress factor, and when the hell I became that I don't even know. And I feel so goddamn selfish for feeling all of this!"

A glance goes to Aric, but the regenerator doesn't speak, not wanting to interrupt what Elisabeth has to say, only giving him a single solitary nod in greeting. The attention is then turned on Liz, listening to all of it. By the end of it though, Claire looks completely perplexed.

"That is… " There are no words for it. She tucks her arm through Liz's and hugs that arm a little. "It's gonna be okay Liz." There isn't much confidence in them, but she's trying, even if the words sound a bit lame. "And it's not selfish. Not at all. You are entitled to feeling that way, just as much as he is. He's the one walking away and making it where you have to take over… in a way."

It kind of hurts Claire to say it, but she does. "If he walked away like that, he can't expect you not to lead the group, which means making decisions he won't like."

Aric blinks and relizes that he came into "girl talk". He runs a hand through his hair as he traces his finger along the floor. A line of electricity crackling and absorbing into the floor as Aric looks towards the two across the room.

"I know I am a guy and I don't have my telepathy and all yet…can I say that Richard needs some time. When this all happened….Elle…we all know what a crazy girl she is. She alone might draw someone to that point. I would have know because I heard Dick on the other side of the wall. I knew it wasn't him by his thoughts. So you clarifying it was not wrong Liz. I am grateful to know what is going on. Yet…Richard I think is blaming himself for what is happening. That is why he has gone off the deep end. He will come back,,,in time."

There's a blush as Aric settles himself across the room, and Elisabeth wraps her arms more tightly around her knees under that countertop where she and Claire are sitting. The shadows might hide some of the color in her face but not all of it. She swallows hard and says softly, "I know he's blaming himself. But I hate hearing that he's actually got a plan he's working on from a third party. I hate that I had to learn from Dick that my name was on that list… and that he did it. He killed me." Reaching up to rub at her forehead, the tears and the power use giving her a killer headache, Elisabeth whispers softly, "And I'm starting to wonder if somehow….. all of this is our fault. Edward Ray and his cadre of assholes from the future came back and changed things. And every damn time we try to do something to make things better, they keep getting worse and worse now. So part of me… wants to give up, you guys." And the shame of that statement is clear in her tone, in the soft sob that accompanies the words.

"You guys need me to know what the fuck I'm doing. And I'm trying. I swear to God I'm trying. And I had plans in place to play a pretty dangerous gambit on Broome and Dick up at the Institute. Pretty sure it won't work now, but … I dont' know. I'm still trying to figure out if I can use it." She still has tears trickling almost constantly. The strain and the exhaustion isn't just from all this. "He offered me a job. After all that went on, I thought I might take them up on it and see if I could learn anything, but….. there's no way I can do that after he attacked you guys here. It's not even feasible. So now…… now it's just going to have to be about blowing every fucking plan that bastard has out of the water."

"Which honestly, isn't a bad plan," Claire points out. "If he wants to keep the world on the same track, so that this one becomes what he is, then… it's a good of a plan as any." She doesn't ask the obvious question about if they even know what he's doing. At the current moment it's not important.

"When it comes to Cardinal… I really am not sure what to tell you." Claire looks rather apologetic about that. "My track record with men sucks enough that I am the last person to discuss men." Blue eyes slide over to Aric to consider him and the little arcs of lightening for a moment. "But he's right, I think he'll return when he's ready."

Aric shrugs and says, "Send me instead. I am the last person they would expect to be a spy and I still know how to defend my thoughts….telepath or not. I could get in and see what I could learn and report back to you when I can."

Weary and somehwat ashamed of her own tears and despondency, Elisabeth rests her head on the wall and looks at Aric tiredly. "Why wouldn't they expect you to be a spy, Aric?" she asks quietly, interested in his logic. "You're one of the people that Dick Cardinal in Tyler Case's body power-swapped. What do you think they're going to think you're up there for?" She shakes her head. "No…. no, frankly, I don't know what the hell they're all doing right now except trying to make sure that certain things from that timeline happen so that Cardinal stays on the same path to becoming Dick. No… right now, the trick is going to be to do everything that he wouldn't do." She grins a little, and though it does nothing to ease the exhaustion in her face, Elisabeth seems like she might be finding her footing again.

"Richard's handling one aspect of this… we've got a couple others to handle. One of those, actually, may be something Claire can do." She looks at the regenerator. "I want you to go find your father. Tell him, in person, that I need to talk to him. However he wants to do it — Wireless sent us both word that her ability is compromised, so if he wants to make a meeting, we'll do it at the Nite Owl. Tell him to send a time and date, and I'll meet him there. If he wants to change the time, you come tell me in person, okay?" She reaches up and squeezes Claire's hand. "You need to check up on him and see how he's recovering anyway."

There's a pause, and Liz looks at Aric. "And there is something you can do as well. Peyton needs an extra set of hands to actually run this business. I cannot run FRONTLINE as well as taking an active hand here. When I blew out my power in the riots, I blew out my immune system too. I'm exhausted, all the time. It's too much. And now that we have a security detail request from Marcus Donovan, we're about to hit the bigtime, I think. I'm going to handle that conversation personally because I need to see the man anyway. But with your business background, you and Peyton will be able, I think, to handle the business. Okay?"

There is a look that passes behind Claire's eyes thoughtfully, but then she sighs softly. "I'd offer, but I failed pretty miserably at my last infiltration assignment." There is no hiding the guilt of that, even if it wasn't her fault that Rupert completely scrambled her brain. "Guess I'm no good at that kind of thing," she murmurs softly.

Mention of her father has Claire looking a touch uncertain, teeth catching at her bottom lip and lightly chewing it. "I can try." It's not a guarantee, but… that's all she can give right now.

"I feel… rather out of my element here." Claire admits softly. "I can't really help with the day to day work of this place. It's dangerous that I'm actually here, but no where for me to go." she admits rather blandly. "At least I can try and get dad to talk to you."

Glancing toward Aric as he simply acknowledges what she wants of him, Elisabeth smiles just a little. The 'girl talk' appears to be resuming and he quietly excuses himself to go make some tea for everyone. They look like they could use it.

"You're not bad at it. Getting mindfucked does not make you bad at something, Claire," Elisabeth retorts softly. "One of the things I do want to do is talk to your father about the situation that we're facing. Because I'm concerned that a future version of Cardinal — who is a liar from hell, I'm quite sure — has told me that things get much worse before they get better. And one of the things that got worse was a schism between the Ferry and Endgame. That we were seen as the enemy. I want to be very clear with your father and the rest of the associates of the Ferry that it's not going to happen. I need to blow this information right out into their ballpark so they know exactly what we're dealing with. And I trust your father to bring me whoever else might need to know this information."

Elisabeth hesitates. "I don't know who's running the place, but I know Jensen Raith is involved. I'd like to have a meet with your father, Raith, and whoever they choose. I'm about to blow the gates of hell wide smack open and warn the Ferry that this future version of Cardinal may in fact already know of their fallback position … and that he's got a fucking teleporter on his payroll. But I need you not to tell them all that. I want it to come directly from me."

She appreciates the words, but it still doesn't ease the sense of failure that came from her time with Messiah. Especially, when what she did and the things she said to Cardinal are still fresh in her mind. "Yeah, I'll talk to dad and only tell them that you need to meet with him and others."

Taking a deep breath, Claire sighs softly. "Hopefully, he'll talk to me. Last time I saw him awake I tried to brain him with the leg of chair." Cheeks color red as she admits that, looking anywhere but Liz herself. It's embarrassing.

There's a small smile and Elisabeth says quietly, "Your father loves you." She hesitates and admits softly, "He tries very hard to keep tabs on you in case you need him. Believe me when I tell you, kiddo, he'll talk to you." She reaches her arm over, finally unraveling from the defensive posture she's been holding, and hugs Claire tightly to her side. Resting her head atop the younger woman's, Liz murmurs quietly, "We're going to be okay, Claire." Some day. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But someday. Right?

Leaning against the other woman, Claire smiles a bit. Human contact is rare for her as of late. "I feel better since Parkman got in there, but it doesn't stop the guilt… or erase the memories I'm suddenly remembering." Her head rests on Liz's shoulder, the older woman unable to see the fleeting look of anguish and guilt.

"I need to talk to Cardinal," Claire murmurs finally. "I owe him an apology… even if I was under Ruperts influence."

Then she's silent for a long moment before adding, "I want to see dad, but I also want to see mom and Lyle, too. It's the only thing I want for Christmas." Eyes blink rapidly as tears of her own start to threaten. "Family."

There's a long moment's pause. Elisabeth can sympathize. There are three people in this world that she wants to be near for the holidays. Two of them, she likely will see. The third she will give the space that he seems to need. She kisses the top of Claire's head, resting there for a time to hide her own tears. "Send him a text," she says softly. "He's…. having a rough go of it, Claire. Let him come to you if he wants to see you." It's the only advice she can offer. Advice she herself is having to follow as well.

"I'm sorry…. that I wasn't there for you when it all started to cave in on you, Claire." She feels like she failed the girl. She knew Madagascar would hit hard when it hit. And she feels like she failed in being there when Claire needed her most. She's failing a lot of goddamn people lately. The weight of it is crushing her. But she can't let the tiny regenerator see that.

"It's okay." Claire murmurs, brushing a finger under one eye to wipe away a bit of moisture and sniffs. "I wasnt' exactly the easiest person to get along with then. I was… a complete and utter bitch." She's not too proud to admit that, it was a horrible time for her. "I was hurting people, pushing people away by just being a total bitch."

She straightens now, pulling from the offered comfort of a friend. "You feeling a little better at least? I know it's not easy for you right now, but you'll be okay." Claire gives her a small smile. "I know it's hard to keep your distance from someone you love, but… sometimes you have too. He'll come back to you when he's ready." Claire feels confident of this. "Not to mention, you've done a good job by us so far. You held up while you thought he was dead even. You'll be okay."

She wishes she were as sure as Claire. "Don't," Elisabeth says softly. "Right now, those aren't the words I need to hear, Claire," she admits softly. "I don't know what words would make it better. I don't know if there are any. But I'll do my best by all of you, like I always have." She's hiding behind the facade once more. Unwilling to let the younger girl worry.

"Okay," she says softly, looking apologetic. "Well, you know I'm here if you need an ear again." Claire, leans over to hug her again, briefly, before moving to get to her feet. "For now, I think you need to go take a LONG hot soak in the tub. Just relax for a time and try not to think.

"I realize that is harder to do then it sounds," Claire says with a slight smile.

Shoving herself to her feet as well, Elisabeth murmurs, "Indeed. Have them let me know when they want to meet. Sooner is better." She walks toward the firing range's exit without another word, her posture somewhat hunched.

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