Time Lapse


elisabeth4_icon.gif noah_icon.gif

Scene Title Time Lapse
Synopsis A missing slice of bacon leads to the unraveling of a great mystery.
Date July 13, 2021

Routines can become invisible. Things are done out of habit, happening like a reflex. Familiar locations blur by without much conscious thought. Going for a long drive across the Safe Zone can become so monotonous at times that the spaces between start and finish seem to disappear into the ether. But only when a routine is disrupted do all of its facets come back into crystal clear focus.

Two eggs, scrambled, a bagel, and a side of bacon. Coffee, black, so she can add unholy amounts of sugar and cream on her own.

Elisabeth Harrison isn’t sure how many times she’s ordered the regular at the Nite Owl Diner, be it this one or the one lost to the ruins of Manhattan. It’s on the way to and from the Watchtower every day, an easy stop off both before and after a long day at the office. But here, it feels different. The routine has been disrupted. Two slices of bacon, not three.

It starts as something so innocent as that.


Thomas Scott Porter, born April 8th, 1992 in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Graduated from Central High School in 2010 and planned to move to New York to attend Columbia University that fall.

Scott Porter, age 48 at time of death. Born February 15th, 1962. Died August 11th, 2010 in a head-on collision with a drunk driver on his way home from work.

Thomas Porter never left Missouri, never attended Columbia University. That’s likely how he survived the Civil War. The files on Elisabeth’s desk paint a tragic story of a young man with considerable potential stifled by the death of his father, staying behind in Missouri to take care of his devastated mother.

Tom vanishes when the war hits. No records until he re-emerges in 2016 in a habitation request form for the newly-established NYC Safe Zone. He and his mother Louise are granted residence at Settler’s Park, eventually securing an apartment in Phoenix Heights through the relocation lottery.

Nothing noteworthy for a few years, then around early 2020 paperwork for Louise Porter being moved to an assisted-living center in Red Hook. The bills are astronomical, more than someone working at a diner could afford. But there’s a substantial government subsidy coming from somewhere. The cost isn’t negated, but it’s cut down so significantly that someone working a minimum wage diner job could swing it.

Credit FIS10-C1A.

Elisabeth can’t find reference to it anywhere. Multiple calls to related government agencies come up blank. Someone on a federal payroll is footing the majority of the bill for Tom’s mother to stay in assisted living, but making him feel like he’s getting some kind of government assistance.

It’s been weeks since Tom showed up to work. No one at the diner had seen him; no call, no show. He’d been fired. No answer at the buzzer when she went by Tom’s apartment, tried three times in one day.

Things go downhill from there.


Requests for surveillance footage take forever and there’s only a few hotspots in the entire city. Tom’s neighbors talked about his routine, very predictable, always came home with groceries on pay-day Fridays. Closest grocery store to his apartment was the Red Hook Market.

The market has surveillance, had it installed after the incident where the rats stole all the food. Rats? How the fuck did that ever resolve? No, a distraction.

The surveillance camera footage from the front gates of the market are voluminous. Between actual work it takes two weeks to review it all. But that’s when she finds him. Tom, and that’s when she sees the familiar faces he’s with.

Then she sees the date on the file: April 16th. She knows that date.

There’s a file on her desk about a bus accident: a dump-truck driver crashes into a passenger bus, more than a dozen fatalities. Demsky was on scene until the case was plucked away by SESA. Nobody was returning emails about the investigation.

But there it is. Plain as day. Delilah, Elaine, Walter, Odette, Matthew, and Tom getting on the bus at the same stop. There’s a horrific crash, the aftermath. But—

Delilah had been absent for weeks. But there was no funeral, no announcement she’d died, no body recovered. Someone would have known. Someone would have—

Elisabeth rewinds the footage. She re-examines everyone in the scene.

That’s when it hits her: Walter.

Walter Trafford.

The Nite Owl Diner
Bay Ridge

July 13th
5:17 pm

Two eggs, scrambled, a bagel, and a side of bacon. Coffee, black.

The familiar plate and mug are set in front of Elisabeth, and her dinner guest for the night receives a short stack of waffles with a melting pad of butter on top. Noah Bennet flashes a charming smile at the waitress after she delivers the food, then goes about cutting a wedge out of his waffles with fork and knife.

“So,” Bennet begins, glancing across the booth to Elisabeth, “to what do I owe this interdisciplinary dinner?”

Elisabeth's smile at the waitress is low-key, and she thanks the woman quietly for the refill on coffee. She takes up her fork to nibble a bite of eggs before replying while at the same time encapsulating their table in a one-way field, more out of habit than concern at this juncture.

"Well, I could say 'it's been a while and I missed your charm,'" she retorts with a bit of a grin. "But the truth is a lot more prosaic and boring. I need to pick your brain." The admission is made with an easy tone despite the fact that there are some fine lines at the corners of her eyes giving away stress. It's been a busy few weeks, after all.

"I visited that friend we talked about. She's doing all right… although I didn't understand the warning in enough time. Truth be told, I only put it together well after the fact." Elisabeth grimaces. "But I know what it was that pinged her radar. And now I have significant concerns I don't think anyone else will understand as well as you will."

Taking another small bite of her egg, she asks, "Did you know that Tom was whisked off into a time travel adventure?" The question is bald, but there's not sense of upset to it. She's seeking nothing more than where she should start – if he doesn't know that much, she'll have to get him up to speed real quick before asking his advice.

Bennet tries not to act surprised, but his brows come right over the frames of his horn-rimmed glasses. “Tom?” He asks, just in case he misheard. “The—waiter.” He glances at the waitress, now behind the counter, then back to Elisabeth. “Tom Porter is traveling time?” He asks with his voice lowered, so as to not sound like a crazy person in public. But there’s something in his tone, something hungry, something eager. Confirmation of a theory.

The implications of it all are staggering. “Is Nakamura alive?” He asks next, paranoia in his eyes.

Well, now… his reaction tells her that he wasn't part of that SESA snatch of the footage. But the Hiro question momentarily derails her thoughts. Elisabeth stares wide-eyed right back at him, her coffee cup halfway to her mouth. "Hiro's dead?!" There's an instant of shock and disconnect – that thought does not compute. Which Hiro, she has to wonder. To be fair, she's never sure of whether Hiro is alive or dead. Or even which Hiro is alive or dead, because she's never been quite sure which Hiro or Hiros she met here in her Prime timeline. She might circle back around to that thought, with the look on Noah's face.

Carefully choosing her words, Elisabeth takes a sip of her coffee before offering a slow reply. "Uh, I don't know how to answer that except to say no, it's not Hiro Nakamura. Noah, my dear…" She sighs heavily and takes a fortifying sip of that coffee before setting it down. "I think we've got some big problems and I don't even know what the hell to do with them." The admission is a quiet one. She gestures around them and tells him, "Not that you shouldn't be careful and keep your reactions low-key, but no one will hear you.

"Tom wasn't the only person to disappear, although I'm not sure anyone but SESA and possibly the OEI caught that. I don't know if you even paid attention to it, but there was a nasty car accident in April near here – truck hit a bus. Tom was in the accident along with a small group of people that included a time-jumper." She grimaces and thinks Let's hope they're JUST time-traveling and not timeline hopping, then explains how she knows about the power. Though even now, she is cautious about revealing exactly who she's talking about.

"I knew another version of that person from … before the war. I figured SESA is just keeping a manifestation quiet and waiting for them to get back. That still might be the case…" She pauses a moment to see if she has totally lost the man, but also because there's some doubt in her mind that the explanation is so simple.

Noah is silent, letting everything Elisabeth said sink in and in some cases wash over him. He looks down at his waffles and they seem like an insurmountable hurdle to eat now. Instead, he takes the syrup carafe and drowns them. That should at least make it easier.

“DHS captured Hiro Nakamura back last decade, during the chaos around the five year memorial.” Noah explains as he drizzles the syrup out. “SESA has records that indicate Nakamura died when Petrelli and Sylar came to blows, same time Parkman was killed. But honestly,” he glances up to Elisabeth, “I just don’t know for sure. I don’t know if anybody knows. But no one has seen Nakamura in the ten years since, or if they have they aren’t talking.”

But that’s when Noah runs out of useful material. He sets the carafe aside and focused on the unknown, the situation with the bus and the disappearance. He squints, trying to piece together any information that could be valuable. It’s only when he turns that stone of before the war over in his head that he glances back up at Elisabeth.

“You don’t mean Trafford’s boy, do you?” Noah says, keeping his voice down even though he doesn’t need to. It’s the only other rumored person with the power to travel time he knew of. “Walter?”

Elisabeth takes small bites of her eggs while he explains about Hiro and his presumed death. She chews as she considers the possibilities around Hiro being dead and then shakes herself away from that thought – distraction. Ask later.

Blue eyes flicker to Noah's face and she nods slightly. "Walter," she confirms quietly. "I'm thinking the accident with the bus triggered a trauma manifest of his ability – uncontrolled, so no idea where the hell he might have taken the half-dozen people he's got with him." With a grimace, Liz adds quietly, "And not one thing we can do to help them either. They're…"

Setting her fork down now, she purses her lips. "They're either going to blip back once Walter can get a handle on it, or… they're gonna take the long way home. That's, of course, even assuming he took them backward." She doesn't want to mention he couldn't have gone forward or, God forbid, sideways, which is her biggest fear. Elisabeth bites her lip, uncertainty showing. "Noah… why did you have me looking at Tom?"

Noah doesn’t look like he wants to answer that question. Instead, he takes a nice, big bite of his waffles while occasionally shooting pointed glances up at her. He looks out the diner windows, counts the cars in the parking lot, assesses the staff to watch their behavior. Even if they can’t hear through the audiokinetic screen, there’s other ways to eavesdrop.

Half a waffle later, Noah dabs his mouth with his napkin and then sets it aside. “I’ve been at this game a long time,” he explains quietly. “I spent the better years of my life with the Company, learning what it felt like when someone was moving behind and between management. When there were unseen hands at work and double or triple meanings behind every action you were asked to take. I know when someone is being genuine with me, and I know when I’m being fed a line.” Noah says with pointed precision to his words.

“Something is going on at SESA.” Noah says with a glance at the diner staff. “I don’t know if it’s the government or something else, but there is an unseen hand moving through the agency and they are deeply aware that I might be on to them. Donald Kenner, Kristopher Voss, Rhys Bluthner, they’re acting suspicious. Nicole Miller is being surveilled so intensely I can’t safely communicate with her and it started after she followed up on a hunch I had about a storage unit in the Manhattan Exclusion Zone.”

Noah cuts another triangle of waffle out and eats it between thoughts. “Now there’s the Office of External Investigations,” he says with a pump of his brows, wiping his mouth with his napkin again. “People used to call the Company the Men in Black, but I know the real deal when I see them. I can’t tell if what’s happening is nefarious or not, but…”

Reaching inside his suit jacket, Noah removes an old leather wallet. He flips through it, then removes an old newspaper clipping from between an old Blockbuster Video card and a coffee shop punch card. He lays it down flat on the table and slides it over to Elisabeth.

It’s a clipping from a 1977 issue of the New York Times.


Below the rambling headline there’s a photograph of people gathered on a street by hospital stretchers and trucks. Noah taps his finger on one of the men in the photo. It’s Tom.

“I saw this before I met Tom.” Noah says, giving Elizabeth a pointed look. “Trying to follow a trail on a different lead, a case the Company never solved about the ‘77 blackout. I was curious if time and better resources could lead me to an answer. After we met I had a feeling I’d seen him before, went back to check the newspaper archive and…” Noah spreads his hands. “I think you might be right about what happened.”

Elisabeth makes a point of continuing to eat too, offering simple small talk while he checks out the surroundings. She trusts that her constant bodyguard, the massive African American sitting oh-so-casually at the breakfast counter with the incredible talent of blending into the background of her life, will let her know if anyone is showing too much in the way of interest.

When Noah speaks again, it at least looks for all the world as if it's a casual conversation over dinner. But he can see the alarm that flares in her eyes when he mentions the OEI. She picks up the newspaper clipping and quirks a brow as she reads it, both intrigued and worried. She slides it back to him after a long moment of trying to determine whether Tom in that grainy picture looks about the same age as he was a couple weeks ago and then smiles. It doesn't quite reach her eyes.

"I wish it were as simple as aliens among us," she murmurs. Picking up her coffee cup to sip from it, she cradles the cup in both hands and rests on her elbows. "If someone working underground in SESA is watching Nicole, they're either going to be in for a rude surprise from the OEI or they are the OEI. As my partner Ivanov used to say, there's no such thing as too paranoid when you're us." The position of her cup is a casual hold, but it conveniently obscures her face from outside the window.

"I would venture that, like the Company, the OEI's intentions are probably good at the core. They're trying to keep a lid on the cross-timeline capers that keep cropping up – at least that's my guess from what I've seen so far. And they have every reason to worry about things like doppelgängers from other timelines and what have you." RayTech CEO kidnapped out of his office ring any bells? Mm.

"Not sure that I think the people running the place are trustworthy in terms of keeping it to any good intentions– " Especially given what she knows about some of them and who is part of them, she is wary as hell of their agenda. " –though at least right now… they seem to be on the side of good."

Doppelgangers,” Noah parrots back, eyes down on his waffles. “I don’t disagree with you. I’ve been in SESA long enough to get a feeling for it, and I don’t get the same vibes I did when I was with the Company,” he admits with an incline of his head to the side, glancing up at Elisabeth. “The… OEI on the other hand,” he looks back down to his waffles, carving off another corner with the side of his fork. “They sound deeply clandestine.” He chooses his words carefully, taking another bite of waffle to let that choice sit with Elisabeth for a moment.

“Now,” Noah starts, pointing at Elisabeth with his fork, “the question is, how much do you know about the OEI’s leadership?” He asks, setting down his fork and picking up his orange juice. “Because SESA’s leadership structure is printed in an org chart I can access from my laptop, I don’t think a group like the OEI’s will be as clear. How much do we know about them?” He takes a big sip of his drink, letting the question simmer with Elisabeth.

"I know more than some but not nearly as much as I probably should considering the circumstances," Elisabeth murmurs, casting a troubled glance around before returning to eating bites of food as well. And what she does know, she sure as hell doesn't trust. He can see it in her discomfort with the question.

"Look… the digging around on Tom you asked for led to some interesting dead ends. The friend I went to see said she figured something big was going to be connected to him in the Red Hook area, but honestly there just weren't enough data points for anything clear. She might," she concedes, "get something more helpful in the future. But for now…"

She trails off, considering. "Tom's mother is in an assisted living facility here in the Zone. And I can't find the source of the funding for it. Anywhere. SESA, certainly, is good and I'm no computer expert… but whoever is helping Tom made it look like he was getting some kind of subsidy from the government. I don't know what help that is to you in your investigation, but it was all I could come up with." Her blue eyes flicker up toward him. "I suspect the more clandestine branch could be involved, but that could just as easily be my own … excessive hyperalertness talking." Elisabeth can't disregard that her own outlook might be biasing her to see connections where there are none.

“Only people concerned with appearances are afraid of hyperalertness.” Noah opines, taking another bite of his waffles. He approves of her vigilance. “This is interesting, though,” he says with a glance out the window, “do you have the address of the facility? I can work up a reason to go check on her, following up on a manifestation incident. Ask about her son. See what shakes out.”

"Sure," Elisabeth replies evenly. "It's right in Red Hook." She does pause, though, because it occurs to her belatedly. "You knew Matt Parkman, yeah?" She looks down to take another small bite while they continue on. "I just realized you might like to know his son is one of the group that disappeared," she murmurs. "Which is why I'm a little concerned about the clandestine ones – I can't see how they're actively involved in this but they're definitely in the loop. Robyn Quinn is the boy's guardian and never reported his disappearance before she … left town with a team for deployment."

Her blue eyes flicker, her uneasiness at venturing too close to something subtle but present. This man is Claire Bennet's father and he's had his hat in this ring for a long time, but that's as much reason to worry about what she tells him as it is to trust him. "May not mean a damn thing, honestly – she's been on this merry-go-round of time-traveling before. But…" A faint shrug tells him she finds it odd. Even if she knew there was not much to be done to help the kid, if he were hers, she'd turn to someone like Liz herself, who has the experience to at least know what to look for and when and whether to say anything to anyone else while Robyn was deployed.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Tipping her head as she debates asking a question, Elisabeth can't help a faint quirk of her lips. We do… though I'm sure they think they do too. "Keep your head on a swivel, Noah," she murmurs quietly. "You've spent too long down these rabbit holes to be careless, but… things don't feel right. Honestly, I'd been hoping to pick your brain a little on the whole matter." She glances at him from beneath her lashes. "You asked me what I know about OEI's leadership… does the name Marcus Raith mean much to you?"

Noah is very quiet, staring down at his meal. Nothing about tonight had rattled him, not until Elisabeth invoked the name Matthew Parkman. Breathing in sharply through his nose, Noah powers through the tumult of emotions, and she can hear the way it got his heart racing, the memories Parkman’s name brought back.

Forcing a smile to reset himself, Noah takes another languid bite of his waffle, chewing over both it and whatever he’s going to say next.

“Not familiar with a Marcus Raith,” Noah says, sidestepping almost the entirety of the topic of Parkman. “Is he a relation to the ex-Vanguard member Jensen?”

As she watches him from beneath her lashes, Elisabeth sympathizes with his reaction though she simply leaves him to it while she chews slowly. It was just intended as a courtesy.

When he asks that question, though, she has to pause and consider how much to tell him. "He is," she acknowledges quietly. "He's Jensen's grandfather." She's watching him more carefully now. "He has an extremely murky list of past associations. Notable among those was being some kind of an undercover agent for the US in Germany during World War II. I'm actually still trying to ascertain if his ability keeps him young or if he somehow time-jumped to now. But I know for a fact he had significant ties to Monroe back in the day…. and that he's part of that current leadership." It explains her uneasiness, perhaps.

Noah’s expression shifts when Elisasbeth mentions how old Marcus Raith is. His eyes avert down to his waffles again, jaw clenching. But it’s another name that has him speaking up with a tightness in his voice. “Monroe,” he mutters like it’s a curse. “Somehow there’s always a trail of blood going back to him.” Angrily stabbing the last piece of his waffle with a fork, Noah shakes his head.

“So you’re saying a hundred-plus year old man is at the head of the OEI?” Noah asks, angrily taking a bite of his waffle, chewing angrily. “I swear to God, Harrison, there is always a Company. Even if not in the same name, it’s always there. I was worried it was SESA, and that’s why I stepped back into the field after so long in retirement. Because it felt like the good old days were creeping back, but…” He sets his fork down with more composure than before. “I appreciate the update.”

Noah wipes his mouth with his napkin, then as he sets it aside he discreetly slides Elisabeth a SESA agent card. But it’s not his, it’s Nicole Miller’s. “A while back I felt like someone in SESA was watching me. I’d been following a lead on some fears I had about their leadership, ones that now, I think, might have been dead ends. But something I had was that someone in SESA had appropriated funds to have a storage locker in the Manhattan Exclusion Zone under constant surveillance. That hunch I mentioned.”

Noah slides his hands back from the card. “I sent Miller to investigate it, hoping it would shake whoever was involved out. Trail went back to Kristopher Voss, the director of SESA’s New York Branch. I don’t know what Miller found in that storage locker, but I think it has something to do with everything else going on. If you’re digging into this, it might be beneficial for you to talk with her. But, doing that may paint a very large target on your back.” He warns with a small shake of his head.

Heh…. if Elisabeth could argue the annoyed, angry statement of their always being a Company, she would. But she's seen too many worlds already to believe any differently. She toys with her coffee cup and murmurs, "Some things have to happen because it's human nature." Hate will always be there, people will always fear what they don't understand, and there will always be people who abuse power. "The good old days never really left," she points out quietly. "Assholes just went underground for a while to rebuild."

She palms the card and quirks a brow at the man. "You don't think I've had a large target on my back since I came back to this world?" The question could, of course, be taken many ways – 'this world' could just as easily mean law enforcement or NYC itself. "I don't know what Nicole may have found in the locker… but I do know she's eyebrows-deep in a fucking mess of epic proportions. She's gone dark for now, so I can't talk to her." Liz knows far more about what Nicole may be up to at the moment than she's willing to say. "Assuming she makes it back, I'll reach out – I've got plenty of reasons to."

Sipping her coffee, Liz considers something else as well. "Have you talked to Claire recently? Is she doing well?"

It isn’t until Claire is mentioned that Noah genuinely expresses emotion. A rare smile and a light in his eyes. “Yeah,” he says with a bobbing nod of his head. “She’s… actually better than she ever has been. We don’t talk much, but every so often I can get a call out west since the Guardians aren’t hiding as hard anymore. Her ability is coming back, stronger than ever. It’s like whatever happened in Detroit… jump-started her again.”

Noah pushes his empty plate aside, then finishes his orange juice. “She’s seeing somebody, too. Levi Walker. He’s a good kid, earnest, hard-working.” Noah sets the empty glass down. “I think she’s finally found herself out there and… and I think she’s honestly happy to have her own space.”

Looking past Elisabeth, Noah motions to the waitress with a raised hand and makes the universal check hand-sign. “How’s everything with your platoon of children? They started any hostile takeovers of a foreign country yet?”

Elisabeth's expression at hearing that Claire is doing well and happy is a soft one; she is genuinely happy to hear it. "She mentioned him to me, so I'm really glad it's going well for her," she tells him. Then she laughs quietly at the question. "My platoon is gearing up for third and fourth grade, so no foreign countries need worry about them yet."

But there's a moment where she looks away from him, a hesitation where she might just be choosing whether to bite her tongue. She waits for the waitress to bring the check and then deliberately closes her sound bubble very obviously (to him) around them. She keeps her expression easy but it's the eyes that give away that it's more serious. "I need you to pass a message to her."

The smile that quirks her lips holds only the appearance of amusement – the words hurt her heart to say, there are so many echoes of the past in them. But Claire will understand how dire things have to be for Liz to use the phrase. "Tell her 'Red Queen Implementing Failsafe.' She'll know what it means. And Noah? When she tells you it's time to come west? Don't hesitate." The sound bubble drops again and she's once more easily talking. "I think at some point I might have to stick a tracking microdot on them, at the rate they're finding trouble, but we shall see."

Noah’s expression is an inscrutable one. He watches Liz in silence for a moment as the waitress arrives and drops off the check. Only once she’s left does he say anything. “Failsafe,” is the first words out of his mouth. Not a question. A statement. But one that belies his concern over everything. “I’ll be sure to let her know,” he agrees, unfolding a few bills from his wallet to cover both of their meals.

“Be careful out there, Harrison.” Noah says as he slides out of the booth, looking down at her with a momentary scrutiny. “If the past is any indication, it’s only going to get worse out there before it gets better.”

Some Time Later

Cedar Shade Assisted Living
Red Hook

Yellow, floral wallpaper brightens the wood trimmed hallway on the ground floor of an assisted living center on Red Hook’s southern coast. Noah Bennet makes no sound as he stalks the carpeted hall, counting down numbers on the doors from a reference helpfully given by the front desk attendant. When he reaches suite 14A he gently knocks on the door, only to have it swing open an inch into the unlit residence.

Steeling himself, Noah reaches inside his jacket and checks to make sure his sidearm is sitting loose in its holster. He shoulders the door open, hand on the grip. “Mr. Porter?” He calls into the dwelling as he steps inside, eyes adjusting to the darkness. There’s a television on just past a small and tidy kitchenette. Volume too low to hear.

As he steps into the living room, Noah sees Louise Porter sitting in an armchair watching an evening news broadcast, entirely unaware of his presence. There’s a few neatly stacked bottles of medication on a tray at her side. Everything seems out of the ordinary until Noah feels the hairs on the back of his neck rise.

Wheeling around he unholsters his sidearm only to feel a firm hand clutch his wrist. A hand attached to nothing. Noah’s eyes go wide in shock, lips part in disbelief, and before his eyes can even tell him what is standing there, he knows what he’s walked into. He just doesn’t know why.



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