Where There's a Will


elisabeth_icon.gif jessica2_icon.gif

Scene Title Where There's a Will
Synopsis Elisabeth meets with Jessica to finally take possession of Daniel Linderman's Last Will and Testament.
Date December 19, 2010

The Nite Owl

The Nite Owl is a survivor from ages past - one of those ancient diners with huge plate glass windows, checkerboard linoleum floor, and a neon owl over the entrance that blinks at those entering. Inside, there's an L-shaped main counter, complete with vintage soda fountain and worn steel stools. All of the cooking is done on the ranges ranked against the rear wall. The outer wall is lined with booths upholstered in cracked scarlet vinyl, tables trimmed with polished chrome. Despite its age, it's been lovingly maintained. The air is redolent with the scent of fresh coffee, vanilla, and frying food.

Sitting at the Nite Owl with another of those what seems like ubiquitous mugs of hot tea, Elisabeth sounds quite nasally again as she greets her companion quietly. She waits until Jessica has a cup of coffee, though, studying the other woman intently before saying finally, "You brought the papers I need?"

Jessica drops a - perhaps appropriately - red envelope on the table and slides it over to Elisabeth. "I told Richard I would come through." You know. Eventually. Jessica sips at her mug of coffee and lifts her chin a bit. "You sound sick. You get vaccinated this year?"

Elisabeth sighs. "Yes, I got vaccinated. I blew out my power, Jess — during the riots, I pulled a stunt that I should have only ever tried augmented. It went south. Blew out my power and my immune system along with it." She grimaces, sounding exasperated as she shoves a hand through her loose blonde hair. "It's getting better, but… I don't think it'll be back to normal for a few more weeks to come," she admits, taking a sip of the tea.

"And I know you said you'd come through. I'll have it back to you in two days. I need it back in the file before the holiday. Okay?" Elisabeth studies her. "Now…. you wanna tell me what the fuck's going on between you and Richard?"

"Sorry to hear that," sounds genuine enough, even if Jessica's tone is a little flat. Not unsympathetic, at any rate. She nods her head once to the instruction given. "I'll have it back inside the offices as soon as you can get it back to me." In and out this time. No making it look like a robbery of equipment.

Eyebrows lift at Liz's query and Jessica doesn't quite look confused, but maybe closer to unimpressed. "There is nothing going on between Richard and I. Unless you're referring to what Gina attempted to start. That won't be happening again." The reflection in Jessica's coffee is pouting up at her.

Elisabeth blinks, looking confused. "I was talking about what you've done that has him so pissed off that he wasn't sure you had any intention of continuing to help," she replies. And then she pauses, and can't help a faint snicker. "Gina tried for him? Oh dear." She nibbles her lip, uncertain whether or not to laugh. Or to wish Gina'd gotten what she wanted — might unwind the man just a little. It doesn't seem to bother her. She's more… amused at that part.

"He caught me in a bad mood." When is Jessica ever not? "Micah would have turned fifteen earlier this month. Niki's in bad shape, and it has me on edge, too. Linderman's responsible for what happened to our son and I want to be sure that he pays for it." A smirk plays on Jessica's lips, downplaying just how candid and open she was a moment ago. "You know me, Liz. Gotta have my own way."

There's a wince and Elisabeth says quietly, "I'm sorry, Jessica. For you and for Niki." She hadn't known it was Micah's birthday. "Linderman is going to pay. I swear that to you. It's going slowly only because we want to be sure there's no power vacuum at the top. That's the whole point of this exercise with the will." There's a long pause and her voice is soft as she says, "I'm all for giving Linderman to you on a platter, Jess. And I'm trusting you with my life here." Hell in the other future Niki and Jess were godmother to her son, though she doesn't know that. What she does know is that she trusts Niki, and therefore Jessica.

"I know you think Richard's acting out of character, but I need you to understand that he's struggling with the knowledge of what he became in that future. The man who became the head of the fucking Institute has already attacked Redbird, attacked Wireless, and taken a shot at my head." Elisabeth cradles her tea mug wearily. "He's trying to make sure that when we blow the Institute and Linderman sky high that we're not just making things worse. Because that's sure as hell what it feels like we've been doing since you came back from 2019, don't you think?"

"I questioned the will because I didn't think I trusted Zarek with that kind of power. And then when he died…" There's a roll of Jessica's eyes. "I had to make sure no one had any stupid ideas about putting d'Sarthe in charge. The power vacuum is a concern of mine. If it wasn't, I'd have pulled the trigger already." A scowl is hidden behind white porcelain, cool red lipstick left on the rim when she sets the mug of coffee back down again. The scowl is gone by then as well. "I needed time to assess the situation. Make sure Richard had the means to keep it under control." Putting the doubt squarely on Cardinal, rather than the woman across the table from her.

There's a moment of silence as Jessica digests news of the attacks on her colleagues, and those she might actually consider friends. Her fingers tighten in a white knuckle grip around her coffee, dangerously close to exerting far too much pressure. "Yeah," she admits finally. "It does feel like all we're doing is fucking things up left and right. It's why I've been taking my time with it, Liz. All this shit we tried to do to stop the riots, and none of it panned out. I may not care much about doing good," which is not the same as doing good for herself, "but even I can see we were never meant to have this kind of knowledge. Look at what we've done with it. Just knowing was bad enough."

"Actually, it did pan out," Elisabeth says quietly. "It was supposed to be far worse." Her tone is solemn. "It was supposed to be far worse." She sighs heavily. "And no… I don't think we were ever meant to know the future. And personally, I think that's what's happened to the man running the Institute. He's trying desperately to make sure that his timeline is the one that continues onward — that our Richard becomes him — because he's terrified of what happens if we change things again. He's afraid." Elisabeth's blue eyes look up to meet Jessica's, and she says softly, "And frankly… I'm of the opinion that we are still in a position to deal with the things in front of us to make things better. Not because of knowledge of what's coming in our own timeline but because of knowledge of what the timeline should look like. The people who came back from 2019 started all this by trying to thwart certain aspects. They were more concerned about their personal agendas than about what was best for the whole. As far as I'm concerned, it's about what's best for the whole."

Liz bites her lip and asks quietly, "I'm asking you to trust me."

"A bullet to the brain pan will fix that man's paranoia," Jessica points out dryly. She mulls over Liz's words, and her options. "Doesn't the knowledge that Richard became that person worry you at all? It means he still has the capacity to break this badly," and she would know about what happens when a person breaks, "and still do all this."

Elisabeth smiles faintly. "It worries me," she admits softly. "Only insofar as … I worry that he'll go too far the opposite direction trying to avoid it." She tilts her head and tries to articulate for Jessica. "We all have the capacity for it, Jess. I mean, look at me. I started off as a cop, for all the right reasons. And for those same reasons I became a member of Phoenix. I've become a soldier — I've killed people, something I never intended to do — in the effort to stop them from turning the world into a place nearly entirely barren of human life." She shrugs a little. "The capacity to do something doesn't mean that it has to be that way. He has the capacity to shoot me in the head himself. But he moved heaven and earth to stop it — he refused to do that, chose to not do exactly what the future version of him did without even knowing that the future version had DONE it." She shrugs. "All any of us can do is the best we can."

"You know your problem, Liz? Too much faith in your fellow man." And not enough bullets. "Assume that they're all bastards and they're all out to get you, until they can prove otherwise." Jessica drains the last of her coffee and sets the mug off to the side of the table to signal she would like a refill. "Did Richard say anything to you about the background check I asked for?"

The blonde laughs softly. "I've been told that before, Jess. And believe you me, I'm just waiting for the right time to let you blow away the future version of Richard Cardinal. He did something so bad I took his son away from him in a future that's not happening now." Elisabeth shrugs a bit. "You know it had to be bad if I did that." She pauses. "No, I've only spoken to him briefly about the will. Who do you need background on?"

Jessica's stance on the other Richard Cardinal has been made abundantly clear by now. Saying no really, just let me shoot him one more time isn't going to make Elisabeth suddenly relent. She lets it go. "Looking for info on a man named Kincaid August. About mid-twenties. Works in radio, possibly television. Might be something he's well paid for, because he dresses like it. Gina's sweet on him, and thinks they should start dating." Gina also thinks Kincaid August is a cute, older guy. Jessica cringes at the notion that she's getting an early start on cougar-dom.

"Wow," Elisabeth replies on a soft laugh. "I'm …. not entirely sure how to respond to that," she admits. "You do have some unique problems, I must admit." A teenaged persona who wants nothing more than to get laid and have romance just… yeah, okay. Totally tweaks Liz's humor. When Gina's not causing trouble for Niki and Jess, she's kinda cute. "Sure, I'll do some digging." She shakes her head, and then after sneezing several times into the crook of her elbow, she rolls her eyes. "Christ. I'm catching every goddamn thing that comes around. I need to get back. I'll have this for you by Wednesday, okay? And you'll get it back in the files and we'll hope to hell that no one ever notices that it was gone." She hesitates. "There's one other thing. When you go to put it back, verify for me that there's no other file already in there. I'm having to assume Dick knows the original plan, and therefore he may be out to thwart it. I just don't know." It's the trouble with having to work around a future version of your own colleague.

"I'll handle it," Jessica promises. "And… Thanks, Liz. She's not going to start dating this kid, but I need to make sure he didn't know who we are. That he wasn't trying to exploit us and get lucky enough to find Gina." That would be Bad, by Jessica's definitions.

That'd be Bad by any definition. "Considering what you're in the middle of attempting to do with d'Sarthe's organization, I don't want any chance you've been outed. I'll get on it today." She offers a bit of a smile. "Keep in touch, okay? I have to be at this formal event on Friday at d'Sarthe's — and Lola is not high-class enough to be able to go with. If you can find a reason to be there …. it's a Humanis First target, and I've been reminded that I may be as well. I'd feel better with a little backup."

"I'll see if I can get there. Of course, we should pretend either not to notice each other, or not to know each other." Not that Jessica really feels she'll need to tell Elisabeth this. "I've heard Nichols is planning to be there. Might want to keep your eyes peeled." The brunette shrugs.

"I will," Elisabeth says. And she smiles faintly. "And don't pretend too hard. I think the gala will be big enough that even if we pass one another, it'll be fine. We just won't be too close to one another often." She shrugs. "I have to hobnob with the goddamn politicians anyway," she sighs.

"I don't envy you there." Grey-blue eyes narrow faintly as something occurs to Jessica. "We should… check the guest list if we can. We should make sure my other sister isn't going to be there." Speaking of politicians.

Elisabeth's brows shoot up. "Shit. I didn't even think of that." She grimaces. "I'll see about getting a list. Christ. That would be a clusterfuck." She shakes her head and moves to stand, taking the folder with her. "I better get back. See you soon, Jess…. And Niki… I'm thinking of you." She smiles a bit and moves to walk past, a quick brush of her hand on Jess's shoulder meant more for Niki than Jess, but hey…

"Take care, Liz." Meant more from Niki, than Jess.

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