Too Many Queens On The Chessboard


elisabeth_icon.gif jaiden_icon.gif

Scene Title Too Many Queens On The Chessboard
Synopsis Not really, but it was a cute line :)
Date Mar 24, 2011

Jaiden's Garage, Basement Apartment

Elisabeth texted ahead to let him know she was coming. When she arrives at the apartment and lets herself in, she has a weary expression. She calls through. "Jaiden, I hope you've got something stronger than coffee today," she says on a sigh as she closes the door behind her.

The text roused him from a nap, the phone buzzing like a small bee on his bedside table, the man rising and pulling on some pants and a t-shirt, walking barefoot into the main room to turn on a few lights and make the place a little bit more comfortable. When the door opens and Liz tells of her need for something stronger, Jaiden nods, turns, and heads to the cabinet next to the door. "What's your poison?" he asks, opening it, revealing rows of gleaming bottles. Tequila, rum, whisky and scotch. Bourbon and congnac too - even a few bottles of wine. "And what's the occasion? I've been drinking already, thanks to that damn interview.

"Scotch," Elisabeth replies succinctly, removing her blazer and the shoulder rig beneath it. She's not required to wear one anymore in her job. But as a cop it was a constant and she feels naked without it. Both of those items get laid across the back of his easy chair and she walks the rest of the way through meet him. "You too, huh? Just met up with Graeme and … had to give him the all-in discussion," she admits.

Jaiden pulls a heavy rocks glass from the rack inside the cabinet and walks over to the fridge, retrieving three cubes of ice from the top shelf, each one 'clinking' into the glass musically, ringing like a bell. It's set on the bar and the scotch, a good 15 year brand, is poured over - about three fingers worth - enough to give a good taste. "Yeah, me too. Overwhelmed them with information. They're pretty much leaving me alone, I guess. Concentrating on Remi and her mis-represented psychic powers."

"I'll tell you the same thing I told Graeme. If you talk to her before I do — I told them that my impression of her ability was of a more general kind of telepathy, and that mostly she seemed only able to hear surface thoughts and that she seemed to spend a lot of time trying to filter them out. If she comes clean about it and tells them that it's a recent development, she may get off with just a fine." Elisabeth picks up the glass and takes a deep swallow of it, savoring the smoky flavor and the burn of the alcohol. Lowering the glass back to the counter, she looks up at him. "I can't promise that, though. It's… dicey. At best. They may stick her out on Roosevelt or even deport her, and there's not going to be a fucking thing I can do for her."

A second rocks glass is retrieved, the same whisky poured over the same number of ice cubes. He takes a sip, the liquor strong but complex, waking Jaiden up a bit as he shivers, making his way over to sit on the barstool, looking out over his darkened apartment to where Liz is. "i talked to a lady named Audrey…something. Said Remi was safe and would have access to a phone fairly soon, so hopefully she'll call. She's got my phone number, after all." Jaiden sighs and nods slightly. "She's in a mess, that's for sure. We just have to hope she can keep her head down and get past as quickly as she can.

Elisabeth moves to lean on the counter near him, facing him with a pensive look. "It's never as simple as we'd like it to be, is it?" she asks quietly. With a heavy sigh, she looks around the basement apartment. "I need a fuckin' vacation."

"You, me, and just about all the people we hang out with. If we ever get to a point where we can do a vacation, everyone's invited to Australia. Family farm. Go in the winter here and it's summer there. Beaches, crabs, good beer, dark nights." Jaiden lets out a soft breath, looking at his whisky, taking another sip. "The first part, I can do right now. The second'll take a little work." Jaiden smirks. "When did this city get so dark?"

The blonde grins at his riposte and murmurs, "You know…. I actually expected it to be just fucking." She slants him an amused glance as she sips her scotch. "So far, I'm not even sure we've made it to the fucking part," Elisabeth retorts drily. Her weight shifts and she leans down to rest her forehead on her arms on the countertop. "Jaiden, something sort of major has come up and I don't know what to tell Richard about it."

This is probably the first time that Elisabeth has confided in Jaiden, the man straightening a little, his full attention coming on line when she says those words. he reaches over the counter to muss her blonde hair lightly, almost patting, before slipping off the stool and walking around, putting an arm around her shoulders and giving her a squeeze. "What's up?"

She turns her head so that her temple is resting on her forearms. "You remember that conversation we had about … Cameron?" Elisabeth asks quietly. "Back when Elle had to prove who she was?"

Jaiden mmm-hmms softly. "I remember. The whole face-changing thing."

"Right," Elisabeth replies. "Well…. Cameron, as you may have guessed from Richard's reaction, was not something I'd ever told him about. And that was because the boy was not his son. He was the son of the man that I considered my best friend." She pauses. "The Institute actually used his name to lure me up there to go talk to Ezekiel," she explains. "Richard and I thought Norton was working for them and I went to check into it. What I found instead was that in Ezekiel's future, Norton had never re-emerged. No one knew where he was, they just knew it would draw me out."

Jaiden's hand strokes through Elisabeth's hair lightly, soothingly. "He did seem to be shocked about that. What was this guy's name? Your best friend? It wasn't me, was it?" There's a little teasing in that.

She laughs softly. "No," Elisabeth denies easily. "Norton Trask was his name. And in a beautiful future that we blew all to hell, which some days I think we should have fucking left alone and just tried to fix the worst of it instead of obliterating it, I had a son who never met his father because Norton Trask died in May 2011 along with 13 other people who became martyrs, the face of the Evolved." She sighs and pushes upright, looking at him. "But we've changed a lot of things. And Ezekiel has changed a lot of things for us…. and one of those things is that Norton Trask has resurfaced. He heard a rumor through the Ferry that somehow he was working for the Institute." She swallows hard. "Jaiden…. Trask is the only man I've ever seen Richard react to with… jealousy."

Richard and Jealousy are two things that really don't compute. Sure, it sounds like it could happen, but the fact that it did with Elisabeth and the father of her son from the future who now won't ever exist. Jaiden lets out a soft sigh and nods. "And you're wondering if you should tell Richard if Trask has made a reappearance, right?"

"No… not really," Elisabeth says quietly. Leaning her hip against the counter again, this time with him in her personal space, she admits uncertainly, "He needs to know. Because one of the things about Norton Trask's ability that is…. beyond valuable is that he's a complete blank spot in the eyes of precogs. They can't see events that he's part of. They can't see him. At least, they couldn't in the past." Does he understand the implications of that, she wonders. "But I'm not… jealousy just isn't part and parcel of our relationship, until pretty recently." Her own tango with the Green-Eyed Monster. "I'm not confident in how to deal with that part. And I don't like coincidences, and this seems… " She stops. Can't say it out loud. "I don't want Trask's return to be something that Richard looks at as…. " She stops again. "Christ, I can't even figure out what I'm trying to say."

"That's the problem with this place, I guess….the arrival of an old friend isn't viewed as something wonderful, but as something to worry about. Precognition and all the fun that it entails….throw someone like Trask in there who literally can't be seen by them? It turns a lot of our work on it's ear." Jaiden scoots over so he's still facing her but is giving her plenty of space to talk, not wanting to crowd her in the least. And Jaiden fills in the rest. "You hope this isn't too perfect of a coincidence."

"Yeah," Elisabeth admits. "Yeah." She picks up the glass and swallows another large swallow of the scotch — which is truly a shame because it's extremely good scotch — the back of her hand to her lips as she swallows. "And if Richard fucking says that out loud, I …. don't know that I can even be objective. Or if I'll just… freak and accuse him of stupid shit." She grimaces. "Which is ridiculous, because I'm worried about the same things. And we can't get a telepath to vouch for the man or anything else because he's a blank spot for them too. Anything in 10 feet is absolutely negated," she says softly. "So it'll all come down to…. whether we're willing to trust him. And a year ago, I'd have said there was no question. Right up until I realized that Ezekiel brought him up, and the man lies like a fucking rug, and now I ….. have these doubts."

"I'm so glad I haven't had the displeasure of meeting Ezekiel." Jaiden says with a frown, the ice in his glass shivering slightly as it clinks when he takes a sip, thoughtful. "You need to bring this up with him, Elisabeth. With Cardinal. Before he finds out through other channels. You need to bring it up to him and discuss it like an adult, trying to keep emotion out of it. I know it's going to be hard. Extremely hard. But it needs to be done if you want your friend back. Jealousy on Cardinal's part? That can be worked past. Suspicion on Cardinal's part? That too. I'm not saying give Trask access to ENDGAME, but it wouldn't hurt to keep him around. It might just be that - a coincidence. If it is, no harm, no foul and we've got a potent ally that even Ezekiel can't see." What's left unsaid if is Trask is a plant. "I'd like to meet him, sometime. If you like him, he can't be all bad."

"I loved him," Elisabeth admits quietly. "There was a time… when I loved him very, very much." She looks down, sipping from the glass in her hands more slowly now. The alcohol is starting to unwind the tension tying her in knots. "I still do, I guess," she concedes softly. "I just… couldn't be what he needed." When she looks up at Jaiden there is some amount of regret and some amount of sadness. "Until Richard I didn't know the difference between loving someone and being in love. And it … hurts. To know that Norton may have then and may still… feel that toward me and I can't return it. I don't like to hurt the people I care about."

It's amazing the powers of a good glass of booze and a shoulder to lean on. And emotions and feelings, like what Liz is feeling now….that's something that needs to be worked through, sadly, with all the support that Jaiden can give. He can't give the answers or tell her how to feel - he can only give advice from his point of view which, admittedly, is limited in this aspect. "People change, Elisabeth. People move on. People heal from breaks, grow, develop. You have after Trask. I have after Delia, somewhat." He winces slightly, taking another drink to push away the memories for a bit.

Jaiden's voice is soft. "It's not your fault you couldn't be what he needed, and it's okay to still love him."

She smiles faintly and looks up at him, blue eyes thoughtful. "It's why I'm always straight with the men in my life," Elisabeth tells him, her voice soft. "As a cop, I was a bad bet to start with. Cops are notoriously horrid at relationships. But I didn't… like to let people too close. I like … being able to just be me. And I carry a gun on a regular basis. For some men, that's a turn-on… until they realized I was out all hours, couldn't be relied on to actually be somewhere on time if something came up, and could kick most of their asses." The blonde gives him a cheeky smile. "And of course when they realized I wasn't kidding about not being exclusive, that was the final straw for most."

"It takes a strong man to be with a woman like you, Elisabeth. A lot of men want to keep you private - to themselves, but you're knowledgeable enough about what you want to not get pulled into that trap. And to be honest, I found it pretty damn refreshing that you came right out and said what you did." Jaiden grins. "I didn't hold any illusions about anything, and it moved our relationship past that awkward stage where we didn't know where the other stood as far as things went to the comfortable place it is now."

She shrugs a little. Setting the glass down, Elisabeth slips her arms around his waist and rests her head on his chest. "I don't want to believe that a guy I care about is capable of … being Ezekiel's," she says to him. "I don't want to suspect his motives, his actions. I don't want to scrutinize everything he says and does. But to keep the rest of you… the rest of us safe… I have to admit to myself that the possibility exists… that Ezekiel made him an offer he couldn't refuse, Jaiden." She sighs heavily and rests her forehead on his breastbone. "And I can't say any of this to Richard. Because anything I say one way or the other is going to be viewed as suspect, influenced by my feelings. My gut says Norton Trask can be trusted. But I need you to be objective when you meet him," she murmurs. "I don't think either Richard or I can be."

"Nothing but objectivity on my part. I'll even put on the journalism hat." Jaiden's arms come up to cradle Elisabeth against him, patting her back with one hand, stroking through her blonde mane with the other, just holding her, letting her take whatever she needs from this close contact. "Then you'll need to ask yourself, what could make the unbreakable break? What could Ezekiel offer him that would cause him to betray, from what I understand, a very high moral fiber? To go against that which is right for personal gain?"

Elisabeth looks up, meeting his eyes squarely with raw hurt in hers. "Cameron," she says softly. "There would be nothing else that anyone could ever offer Norton except that. The possibility that his son could still exist in his future. And Ezekiel is a master manipulator. He's told me that all of his actions are because he loves me. That to hell with the rest of the world, his sole motivating factor in keeping the timeline he knows intact until the very last second is to assure that our son is born. But…. I'm not convinced that Cameron Harrison as he has explained him actually is our child. He's told me I didn't name the kid — and I never would have called another child Cameron. That was Norton's son. So what if…" She trails off.

Jaiden doesn't say it out loud, but fuck time travel and alternate realities right in the ear.

He knew the answer to that, but saying it brought it out into the open, a flag waving almost, it's so obvious in it's power over the other man. "What if is right." Jaiden says with a nod. "With Cardinal pushing for the bright future, and Ezekiel pushing for the dark, the only way we can know for certain anything will happen is waking up in the morning and having it happen _to_ us. It's the precogs that give us a chance. That let us see what might happen. Is there anyone we could talk to? I mean, if Trask is invisible to precogs, and they see a father for Cameron in your future, it can't possibly be him, can it?"

Well… now there's a practical thought. "No one's…. well, not that I've known about … ever seen a time period where that is evident," Elisabeth admits. "There've been two dreams where I've been in stages of pregnancy and one where I had a child with me that … may or may not be actual precog dreams of our timeline. They could us seeing what came about in Zeke's." She pauses and then grins at him. "You realize this is one of the things I absolutely adore about you, right? You cut right through the bullshit and get to the heart of it."

"Call it a by-product of my military career and journalism. I've got to get to the meat of a story, past all the superfluous stuff, to find out what really matters. Works out rather well sometimes, don't it?" Jaiden smiles and gives Liz a tight hug, his chin resting on her shoulder. "I don't see how precogs remain sane - seeing so much potential horror and glory, I'm sure it must be a little bit of a letdown when everything turns out totally different from the way you thought it was going to." He leans back. "So…we know anyone who can see the future far enough to tell you, in our own Maury moment, who the daddy is?"

There's a pause as Elisabeth considers. "Eve… maybe. Or…. Joseph Sumter," she offers hesitantly. "Honestly, I'm not sure I want to know that," she admits with a bit of an abashed expression. "Knowing the future so far has not been a good thing."

"Then, as they said in The Princess Bride, we have reached an impasse." Except, unlike the princess bride, there will not be a test of knowledge at the end that leads to the death of one of the players using iocane powder. "We either wonder and keep Trask at arm's length until we're sure he's not a plant, or find out for certain - or as certain as we can be at least, and make our decisions based on that. We need evidence, but first…." He leans back. "We need to tell Cardinal about Trask. I know it'll be like adding fifteen queens to an already full chessboard, but he needs to know about this."

There's a smirk. "Queens, huh?" Elisabeth chuckles. "I started to say that Felix is the only Queen I knew on the board, but …. well, that'd be a lie." Francois, Teo, Felix, another Teo, Graeme, Aric…. dear Lord, we're swimming in them. And people wonder why Lizzie's feeling the den mother to sweet gay-boy terrorists and terrorist-wannabes. Except Francois…. he's in a league of his own and sometimes he gets to be the den-mom for Elisabeth. "I'll tell him," she says. "I just… needed a little perspective. From a man who is unlikely to have his feelings hurt by the very presence of the man."

"I wonder how long it will be before Jaiden 2 or Elisabeth 2 makes their way from whatever dark future they're from to cause problems in our lives." Jaiden chuckles and shakes his head slightly, leaning back to grab his scotch, taking another drink and blowing out a breath. "He loves you, Lizzie. I've not seen it too often, but he does love you truly. S'why I didn't sleep with you so many years ago - it might have hurt what you and he have now."

Elisabeth smiles a little. "And that's why I offered you the out when we did — because I didn't want you to think that you were… a substitute or that it was pity." She reaches up and takes his glass, then steps on his toe. Gently enough not to cause serious harm but hard enough to get his attention that it was a deliberate move. "And that's for saying it out loud and tempting the goddamn universe to fuck with us a little more, you," she tells him drily.

Bare feet mean little toe protection to the stepping of Elisabeth's foot down on his sensitive little piggy. "Ah, but that was before you met him. Before a lot of things. Now…we're on the same page." He winces a little, lifting his foot up to protect his toe by pulling it under his thigh. "At least I didn't say how hard could something be."

Oh! Elisabeth starts to laugh. "So I did invite you in back then, huh?" She'd never been quite sure. "You're a nut."

Her laughter is infectious, Jaiden starting to chuckle, then laughing along with. "You did, and it's why you love me."

"Abso-friggin-lutely," Elisabeth sighs, shaking her head. "How would you like to join me for a massive pizza before I have to go back over to the insanity that is my life?" she invites softly. "Cuz I could eat about half a pie about now. Comfort food is a wonderful thing."

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