They'll Disappoint You


bf_cassandra_icon3.gif wf_elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title They'll Disappoint You
Synopsis The Cassandra of one world runs into the Elisabeth of another.
Date November 9, 2018

For most of the people who fled into this burning world, they have only had a few hours to become acclimated to the destruction. Outside of the crumbling, subterranean parking garage and toppled buildings that make up a Resistance depot, one such woman has had a much longer time to acclimate.

The sky tonight is a flat curtain of black, with the smoke and ash in the air this close to Manhattan too harsh for even moonlight to filter through. There was rain earlier as well, evident by the puddles of mustard-colored water collecting in the potholes and sinkholes, dripping off of every surface, and clinging to sinuses like a faint pepper spray. Cassandra Bauman may be alive, but the cost of that survival is a high one.

A handful of familiar resistance members come and go from this depot, refueling vehicles and sharing supplies before inevitably parting ways. That's just how these things are done, the necessity of staying mobile and far apart. Children, too, are a depressingly familiar sight in these locations. One such boy, no older than six or seven, goes running past Cassandra, hopping over a puddle of rusty water.

Joshua Jared Harrison!” Comes the harsh rebuke after the jump, and the voice is a familiar one to Cassandra. In the time it takes for her to wheel around toward the source of the voice, Elisabeth Harrison has come out of the parking garage entrance with a determined stride. She is a phantom of the Elisabeths that Cassandra has known, harder on the edges, hair tangled in an unkempt blonde mane, with a vicious scar that cuts across one side of her face over the bridge of her nose and forks in a Y at her jawline.

The boy stops, turns, and stares up at his mother.

Travels across sun blasted wastelands, buildings, trees, and blown-up vehicles stripped to bare wood and steel by windblown dust and debris have become Cassandra’s way of life. Seeking the next comfortable spot, the next full belly, the next mouthful of water, became a daily struggle, and sadly, some of those days weren’t entirely successful. Eve’s precognition and Cassandra’s postcognition helped some, figuring out where things might be or where people came from, tracing back to abandoned military supply dumps and forgotten caches of things that the Tribe needs to survive. Now, here, in this parking garage that has been claimed for a time as home for the travelling resistance show, Cassandra takes a moment to unwind and rest with walls, floors, and ceiling available to retreat to.

A ruined Honda Civic was left here in the elements by its owner years and years ago, so Cassandra has taken the seats out with some rudimentary tools and set them up in the shade along with a small fire that she’s using to distill some of the water that’s been filtered through old coffee filters. Boiling over a sheet of plastic to drip into another bottle set below is slow, but the water’s safe, which is a major thing in this world. Her choosing to do this here offers a view of the ingress and egress of people with a nice path in front of her to converse with whoever comes past. She’s sending off one of the usual suspects with a good memory or two when an unfamiliar boy comes sprinting out of the parking garage, hurdling puddles on his way to wherever he’s going.

Cassandra is just about to say something to the boy - a greeting or a flippant comment - when the familiar-sounding voice strikes a nerve. She’s already met Liz and Aurora, meeting up after their trip from her world to this one, but the voice and the given name are completely alien and unfamiliar, yet completely familiar to her. She rises to her feet to greet the pair, giving Joshua a smile before turning to his mother. “Hello.” She says with a glance to the boy. “He’s not causing any trouble. Just playing.”

There’s no recognition in Elisabeth’s eyes when she sees Cassandra; two strangers meeting at the end of the world. Blue eyes move from the postcognitive to the young Joshua, who meanders out from behind the Honda and slinks over to his mother’s side. She looks down at him, taking a knee and grabbing him by the hand firmly. “If you run off like that into a hunter it’ll rip you apart.” There’s obvious fear in the young man’s eyes, and when Liz finally sees it her features soften and she gently lets go of the gripped hand.

“I’m— ” Elisabeth stammers, immediately looking guilty. “I’m sorry, sweetie. Go— go back inside, ok?” Gingerly stepping away, Joshua starts to do as instructed, but offers a wary look up to Cassandra at the same time Elisabeth does.

“Check your pack, make sure he didn’t steal anything,” Elisabeth urges, “he’s— I’m trying to get him out of that habit.” Every syllable practically screams an apology as well.

“If he managed that, he deserves whatever he found. He’d have to have to have the deftness of a safecracker to get into my pack. Besides, he never went near it.” Cassandra jerks her thumb back over toward the seats where her pack is safely nestled in the shadow of one of the half-rotted buckets, undisturbed from when she first set it down near her little distillery. “Come on over and sit for a spell. I’ve got a few things I’ve scavenged up that I can share. It’s…” She thinks for a moment, how to phrase this. “It’s been a while since I’ve sat and talked with someone. I’m fairly new to these parts, so a little advice would be welcomed.”

Cassandra lowers herself to one of the seats and drags her pack around, rummaging through collected bits and bobs until the rustle of cellophane can be heard. “Ah, here we go.” A small bag of hard candies - Jolly Ranchers - is withdrawn from inside of her pack. “They’re a little melted, but still sweet.” She looks to Joshua with wide eyes for a second, placing them lightly on the edge of the opposite seat, out of the way, shaking her head after a second. “Seeing him..” she inclines her head towards Joshua. “Brings up memories of a girl I used to babysit. Her mother looked a lot like you and was just as protective. In this world, it’s the best thing a parent can be for a child.”
“I’m Cassandra. Cassandra Baumann. I came in with Eve on the bus.” This is declared as if Eve and Bus are two things that should be known. She doesn’t say that she knows Elisabeth…that’d shut the conversation down almost instantly, since suspicion is the default reaction to anything out of the way.

Joshua, who had loitered from his mothers’ request to get moving, looks at the package of candy and starts to approach, but Elisabeth slaps a hand on his shoulder. Blue eyes look down at him, and she shakes her head slowly. “Go. Get your bag, we’re leaving in the morning.” Elisabeth reiterates, and Joshua levels a nervous look to Cassandra, then slips away from his mother’s side. Elisabeth’s cold, blue eyes track back to Cassandra, and brows pinch together as she looks the younger woman up and down.

“Word to the wise,” Elisabeth says with that certainty she always seem to affix to her opinions, “if you’re traveling with Eve, bring a shovel. Because the people who bury you are going to need it.” Crossing her arms over her chest, she assesses Cassandra with scrutiny that seems both familiar and alien all in one. Cassandra, in turn, notices a surgical scar on Elisabeth’s inside forearm just below the elbow.

“Where’re you from?” Elisabeth asks, without explaining why.

A shovel was something that Cassie had used before, on raiders that she had to kill to keep horrible things from happening to Eve. Most people would have just left the bodies to rot, but Cassie still had a little bit of humanity left, even though the world was working its way through it pretty quickly. Burying raiders after stripping their bodies, saying words over their graves…a luxury that she hopes she’ll have when it’s her time. “I’ll keep that in mind. To be fair, we have a few already. Hanging out with Eve is just as insane as you think it is, but I owe the crazy bitch and I don’t have anywhere else to go.”

Cassie doesn’t smoke, but right now she wishes she had a cigarette to dramatically draw on before responding. Instead, she wipes the side of her nose with her index finger, leaving a streak of clean skin surrounded by dust before looking up at Liz, holding that gaze. “Originally? Before everything went into the grinder?” Cassandra sits back in her seat, leaning over a little bit with her forearms on her knees. “New York by way of Louisiana. Lived there before the war and finally landed a good job out in Colorado. Ended up hidden there while everything blew up and had to take an unexpected trip..” She sighs a little, leaving the candy where it is. “To make a long escape story short, I ended up in the middle of nowhere, with no food, no directions, and pretty much zero way to survive until Eve showed up on her party bus, thanks to one of her visions. Apparently an evolved someone who can see the past is a pretty good asset to her, for some reason.”

Cassie knows better than to lie to Liz. She’s telling the truth, mostly, and knows Liz can tell, thanks to mom genetics and her ability. Listening to hitches of breath and heart rate and the like can tell her if people are lying. Besides it’s better to be safe than sorry

“How about you? Where are you and Joshua from?” Trying to build a rapport here.

Liz is distant, watching the spaces around her like a wary Savannah animal might at a watering hole; waiting for the crocodile to leap up out of the water. Scratching the surgical scar on her arm with one hand, she looks back to Cassandra only after a moment of awkward silence has passed between them. “Nowhere, anymore,” is her bitter response, but she takes in a breath and seems to walk that tone back a little.

Cassandra doesn't notice a pinch of her brows or even really a change of focus when she omits the truth, doesn't seem to notice any real observational spookiness at all. There's something about this Elisabeth that seems diminished — burned out, or broken. Perhaps many things.

“New York.” Elisabeth says with a less caustic tone. “But that doesn't exist anymore. I headed west with Joshua after everything fell apart; Montana, Colorado, Alberta…” her blue eyes unfocus, staring into the middle-distance.

“You?” Elisabeth asks in a non-committal manner, not even affording eye contact to the inquiry. Then she realizes she's just asked that, closes her eyes and deepens the creases at the corners of them with frustration.

“Sorry,” Elisabeth exhales the apology in a single breath. “Today’s been shit.” As opposed to the other shit days, clearly.

Cassandra listens quietly as Liz talks, making note of the hunted expression, the always wired reactions that she herself has started to develop over the past few months as instinct. The will to survive manifest in the reactions of the woman in front of her. “I used to live in New York.” There’s a rattling sound as she adds some more charcoal to the fire in front of her, adjusting her pot a little. “A little apartment in Brooklyn. It seems like a million years ago. Before all of this.” She huffs, blowing out a breath, looking to the distance for a second, trying to see something that almost certainly isn’t there.

“Don’t worry about apologies. It’s not needed, but it’s welcomed. We’re all ground down. Just wandering around this place does that to a person.” The apology is accepted with a short nod of her head as she sits, the seat rails scraping on the gravel as it slides back a little, drooping on one side where the springs have given out. Given more time, she would have attached boards to the bottom as a makeshift foundation, but that would require boards, bolts, nuts, and other supplies that she just doesn’t have. So she makes due.

The little bit of clean water she’s distilled so far is poured into a half-full bottle of clean water, a little more set over the small charcoal fire to start bubbling, the vapors condensing on some cling film found somewhere to flow into a small container for collection. She thinks for a moment - asking about Joshua’s father would probably be a bad tactic. As would family, since Liz and her son are probably all that the other has left. So she goes with the physical. “What happened to your arm? Looks like something from before - healed up too clean and neat to be something recent.”

Elisabeth glances down, realizing that she's been picking at it. Awkwardly, she rolls down the folded up sleeve to hide the scar. “They have good surgeons,” she explains, and that bitterness comes back. For a moment she inspects Cassandra, eyes narrowed, then looks back to where Joshua went and then back to Cass again.

“When everything fell the fuck apart,” Elisabeth begins, gripping that part of her arm gently, “I was in Massachusetts. Joshua and I were being sent somewhere safe by a friend. The DoEA caught us, and… I created a diversion, helped them escape. Figured they were going to kill me.”

A sour smile crosses Elisabeth’s face. “They weren't so kind.” Tapping fingers on her arm, she continues. “They abducted me, tortured me for information, sterilized me, and implanted some kind of pump in my arm. Feeds drugs that negates my ability.” Her cold eyes lock with Cassandra’s. “I was busted out of a transport moving me to the Outer District by the Resistance. They'd never seen the implants before — new — tried to have them taken out of one of the guys with me…”

Running a hand through her hair, Elisabeth exhales a ragged sigh. “Surgeons say the pump spat something into his system the second they tried to tamper with it. He died almost immediately.” Vacantly staring ahead, Elisabeth’s voice becomes detached and hollow, emotionless like she's reciting some rote text. “They figure when mine runs out of the drug, and it doesn't get refilled, it'll straight-up kill me too. No telling when that'll be.”

Blinking herself back to reality, Liz looks more clearly at Cassandra. “So, yeah. Wandering around here’s pretty fucked up, isn't it?”

There’s a cold twist of fear that goes through Cassandra’s stomach, the woman leaning back to gaze at the Elisabeth of this world, standing there, seeming to be alive yet dead, at the very same moment. Listening to the tale of what happened to her - the horror’s she’s experienced firsthand as well as the inevitable death that seems to be looming, like the sword of Damocles dangling from a thread, ready to crash down in an instant.

“Yeah.” It’s really all she can say as she draws her knees up closer to her chest, wrapping her arms around them, squeezing them tight, thinking. Whoever put the device in Elisabeth’s arm would have to replace the whole thing, after broadcasting some kind of signal to keep it from dispensing whatever poison there was. On a purely economic basis, a single unit, installed between the radius and ulna gives easy access to multiple large blood vessels and is in a fairly stable area of the body, as far as things go. Ports to refill negation drugs on the outside would increase costs and invite infection - not that they’d care, of course. She looks over and nods. “Yeah. That’s pretty fucked up.”

She looks down the ramp where Joshua ran, rubbing her nose again. It feels like they’re just tilting at windmills. Running around, making plans without even knowing what can be done, scratching out an existence in the bones of the old world. Cassandra has the luxury of seeing what could have been, since she came from it. Living here, in this chaos, is like being in hell.

Elisabeth’s predicament is a terrible one, and Cassandra doesn’t know what to say to that. Saying that she’s sorry just sounds trite. A quick wipe of her eyes follows. “How’s Joshua holding up?”

“He's too young to remember anything else,” is Liz’s harsh reflection on the state of the world. “He was born in 2012, never really knew his father. So,” her brows furrow and head inclines down in a sagged expression, “this nightmare is his normal.” Blue eyes track back up to Cassandra, and Elisabeth paces a little.

“We’re headed back west soon. Probably north some too. I just came out here to see if…” Elisabeth closes her eyes and shakes her head. “I wanted to see who Eve was making such a big deal about.” There's a part of Cassandra that feels as though Elisabeth was looking for someone in particular, and the threads of that missed connection and smaller, person tragedy resonate a little.

“Don't stay here,” Liz offers. “With the Resistance, with Eve. You'll die.” Of that much she seems certain. “It's just a matter of when and how.”

The advice is considered for a second, Cassandra finally shaking her head in the negative. “I appreciate the advice, but I don’t really have much choice in the matter. There really isn’t anywhere else for me to go. I’m…” How to explain she’s from another time and being with Eve gives her an infinitesimal chance of getting out of this hell? Probably better not to. Cassandra thinks for a minute and then speaks, slowly. “I owe Eve a lot. She’s crazy.” A statement of fact before she continues. “She also has people and resources. I just guess…I’d rather die trying to fight some fight with people than out on the road, hunted.”

The bag of candy sits undisturbed on the seat next to her, the plastic adjusted to let the droplets of water fall more towards the center of her catch can. “Joshua can have those if he wants. I know how hard it is to find anything like that around here. Another thing I can do, though, if you wanted….” she says softly. “Is show the past.” She shifts forward to sit on the edge of the seat once her adjustments are done before she continues. “It’s my evolved ability. I can take objects and read the memories from them, then project them to anyone around. I’m not negated, so it still works. The magic of being in the middle of nowhere when things went sour…” Brown eyes flick up to focus on Liz, standing there. “If you have anything from before, I could pull the memories out. Maybe give you something to hold on to. Give Joshua a view of his father if you still had something of his.” She sniffles, her hand coming up to cover her eyes, a tear leaking out along her cheek, spattering on the dusty expanse of her thigh. “Jesus, I don’t know what to do…”

Elisabeth’s blue eyes track to the candy and she slowly shakes her head. For whatever reason she seems opposed to the idea, but she doesn't vocalize it. Instead, she looks up to Cassandra and says, “Nobody does. Not me, not Eve, not Petrelli. No one. They might think they do, they might try and plan and plot and fucking scheme…” her brows knit together in frustration, “but at the end of the day? We’re all fucking lost.”

Clearing her throat, Elisabeth takes a step back from Cassandra and starts to turn, looking down to the ground and then briefly back up to the postcognitive. The offer, that temptation, rings briefly in Elisabeth’s ears. But then, she just looks away again and exhales a held breath in a deep sigh. She's seen enough of the past. There's nothing there for her anymore.

Cassandra takes the silence as a rebuff of her offer. Seeing the past is one thing, but a potential future may be something that she can offer that will be accepted. “You know I’m one of the travellers, right? It’s not a very well kept secret, after all. Eve’s been pretty open with that, from what I’ve understood.” That may not entirely be the truth, but it’s what she knows. Cassandra adds a little bit of wood to her fire, the smoke curling up before being caught on a breeze and taken away to mix with the dust on the wind.

“It may not mean anything in this world, but back home, before all of this, I helped raise a girl about his age, from diapers until just before I got here.” She fixes Liz with a serious expression. “If the worst happens and Joshua needs somewhere to go, your twin and I will make sure he’s as safe as we can make him.” She pushes herself to her feet. “We’d be his fairy godmothers. Minus the wands and the pink and blue taffeta.”

The offer elicits a faint narrowing of Elisabeth’s eyes, and for a moment it appears as though she'd taken it as some kind of threat. But it's clear even Elisabeth realizes how backwards that is. She breathes in deeply, then exhales and runs a hand through her hair. “It appreciated,” she murmurs, “but my… father— he's still alive. In hiding, but the robots can't track him. If anything happens to me, he's going to raise Joshua.”

At saying her son’s name, Elisabeth glances back over her shoulder, then back to Cassandra. “And… I could tell you weren't from here.” Liz looks down at the candy, then back up. “Not really good to eat out here. But I understand the sentiment. It's just— quaint.”

Threading a lock of hair behind one ear, Liz looks at the ground. “Word of advice?” Blue eyes alight back to Cassandra’s. “Don't get too attached to anyone here. Traveler or not. You'll only end up disappointed.”
((Sorry, Manny, I’m kind of out of it here. If this makes sense, go ahead and respond, if not, we can end on your pose. ))

“I understand. Having your father still alive and safe is…well…amazing. That link to the past, that family connection, is something that a lot of people don’t have anymore.” Cassandra glances down to the candy, still in its little cellophane bag on the edge of the cracked leather car seat and shrugs, picking it up with an easy movement. “Old habits die hard. It’s taken months for me to not outright give food away to people who need it. There are so many mouths and far too little food to go around. I generally give what I have extra to children - your twin’s daughter, mostly.” She sniffles, rubbing her nose a little. “She’s just about Joshua’s age, you know? Growing like a weed.”

Cassandra takes a moment to look out over the desolate landscape. “She doesn’t deserve to be here. She doesn’t deserve this. None of you do. I know you know this, but…the events that caused this world to become what it is were the worst case scenarios for lots of things over a long period of time. This place…” She taps a foot. “This place is worse than hell, since there are so many innocent people involved.”

There’s a quick movement, Cassandra turning to retrieve her backpack from where it was, rummaging around in it for a second, withdrawing a couple of things and walking over to Liz. “Here.” She offers two cans - one of ravioli, the other of pineapple, both seemingly okay, along with the bag of hard candy. “Take these. Please. Give Joshua a good meal before bed. Let him sleep with a full stomach.” Cassandra’s voice is resolute, the woman standing there in the wreckage of the destroyed warehouse with her meager offering. “Say his Fairy Godmother found them for him.”

Elisabeth eyes the cans the way one might an unfamiliar animal. She looks up to Cassandra, then down to the offering held out. Swinging her backpack off from her shoulder, Elisabeth takes the cans and the bag of candy and brusquely deposits them inside, then zips it partway up.

As she slings the backpack over her shoulder again, Elisabeth looks Cassandra up and down silently, then shows some tension at her mouth and eyes. “Not everyone gets to run when things get hard,” is all she says about this world. As Elisabeth backs away, her parting words to Cassandra are as dry as the wasteland around them.

“Even Noah didn't get all the animals.”

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