Your Man Cave Needs A String Map


elisabeth_icon2.gif magnes_icon2.gif

Scene Title Your Man Cave Needs a String Map
Synopsis Magnes and Liz are putting the pieces together, starting to see the chess board.
Date March 30, 2012

Magnes and Elaine's Home

Things have been relatively quiet with Magnes lately, as he's spent most of his time doing his research and such. He hasn't had an incident in a while, and as many people know by now, he spends a lot of free time doting on Elaine.

But when he calls Elisabeth and says that he has good news, it's after he informed everyone that he'd be leaving for a day or two to look into some sort of lead, but he wanted to go alone for some reason.

When Elisabeth arrives, she's told to come into the basement of his house. His basement is actually finished. There's a couch down there, and the Batman painting is hanging up down there instead of in the living room. Perhaps this will be a Man Cave situation.

But he has a large bulletin board hanging up at the very back of the basement. There's a small photograph hanging up, in plastic to protect it. In the photo, there's an old car parked on the side of a poor neighborhood, but over the rooftops of the tenement buildings there's a spiral of ethereal green light in the sky, like an aurora borealis.

And then there's much larger photos hanging up, these are newer, taken by a different kind of camera. They're all photos of paintings.

There’s one of Midtown, divided in half. The left side of the painting is a bombed ruin, the right side is a lush and green landscape that exists today. The date on the bottom of the painting is 05/08. Several other paintings seem to depict events that came to pass in the Bright Future, including one image of the gleaming spire of Pinehearst Tower like an emerald spear jutting up from Manhattan.

Another painting depicts a broad-shouldered man in dark clothes with thick brows, standing with his arms raised over his head. He looks somewhat like Gabriel, and Eileen is standing nearby, hand on her mouth looking on anxiously. Curiously, Gabriel is creating a vortex over himself that looks identical to the kind Ruiz can create. Only a third of the painting is finished, not all of the colors are filled in and much of it is long-faded pencil sketch. The date scribbled in the corner is 12/11.

And then finally there's one depicting a laboratory environment with indistinct figures dressed in white lab coats. The floor of the lab has many cables snaking across it, heading toward a ramp that leads up to a triangular frame of metal, cables, and glowing coils. Inside of the frame is a vibrant triangle of blue-white light. In the periphery of the painting are several black-clad figures not quite in focus, but clearly wearing armor marked with the Pinehearst logo. Each suit of armor has glowing orange eyes, almost like those of a spider. This painting is marked 2/12.

"A photograph of the day Michelle LeRoux died." he says, without turning around. He knows what Elisabeth's gravity feels like, he doesn't need to look at her. He can feel the weight of her baby's heart beating in the back of his mind, filtered out as white noise, like how one generally doesn't take note of what it feels like to breathe.

"And photos of prophetic paintings." he motions a hand at them, wearing his buttoned up white shirt with the black tie, blue jeans, and black Converse. "Thomas Redhouse. That's who hit Michelle LeRoux in the accident. The father of Sparrow Redhouse, my friend from years ago. She died in this timeline, I didn't ask how."

"Michelle appeared out of nowhere, running, in the middle of the night. Ran right in front of him from between two cars." he recites the story, hands behind his back, talking as he allows Elisabeth a moment to process.

"There are no coincidences." he says, while standing directly in front of a photo of a painting that depicts a man in a fur-collared leather jacket standing in the snow, an old pickup truck behind him. It is very clearly Magnes. In Magnes’ hand he's holding some kind of book or thick folder. "We are all connected." in the Void, is the rest of the phrase he doesn't say, a phrase that comes to him in the dreams he's occasionally managed to have.

The call is not exactly out of the ordinary — they touch base at least once a week via text or call or whatever. Elisabeth and Elaine definitely have some things in common at this point. With two months of good food behind her, she's looking healthy. And starting to actually look a little bit pregnant, if there is such a thing. She hasn't edged completely over the line into smocks, but there's definitely a growing bulge as she edges past the midpoint of her second trimester. Thank God, in her mind, for actually attractive maternity wear! Even if they are Mom Jeans. As she makes her way down the stairs, though, she pauses. She hasn't seen his Man Cave yet. And the sight of what he has hanging in it is a shock and a half.

"Holy shit," she breathes, moving slowly forward to inspect what he's got. "I thought I asked you to drop the Michelle investigation," she murmurs. Clearly a mistake. For once, she's glad he ignored her, putting her hands on her hips as she looks over the images.

"I don't know who Thomas Redhouse is," Liz admits, nodding at the painting of Gabriel. "But … that is exactly what I was hoping for." She pauses and looks at him. "The day Hiro came to see me, the companion he brought with him believed that Arthur already was working on the machine that Zeke was messing with … in part because he has partial records of Michelle's work. But he also suggested an alternative." She points at the picture. "What that painting tells me is that they're right. It can work."

Moving to sit slowly down on the arm of a chair, she studies the painting of Magnes on the porch for a moment, but she's more concerned about the one that depicts Pinehearst. "And that is definitely what we're trying like hell to avoid," she observes quietly. "If they find out about us… things are going to get very dicey, Magnes. There's… a lot more to the story," she confesses quietly as she looks at him. "And I'm honestly a little unnerved to find out that they already have it working. Where the fuck did they send the high-tech Gestapo??" It's an alarming development. She wishes she were more shocked. She wonders if it's a sign that's just really seen way too much shit that she's not shocked at all.

She seems uncertain, but she looks at him. "I'm trying to walk a fine line with the information I have… because if someone from Pinehearst gets hold of what I've been told, we … very well could find ourselves chucked into an oubliette never to be seen again, Magnes. You do have an unfortunate habit of kinda spilling everything you know about something," she points out gently. "But we're kind of seriously in the shit here. It's… way bigger than you know."

"It's always bigger than I know." Magnes says without any particular feeling behind it, it's more of a resigned tone, something that he simply expects. "All I want is Michelle's research. If they don't have it all, then that means I have a chance to get ahead of them, I have a chance to do what they can't, better, if I work with the experienced team I'm with."

He points at the small photograph, the one with the lights in the sky. "This was the night she was hit by that car." he says, of the seemingly meaningless photograph. "You can see the lights in the sky, just like the night we left."

Not seeming to be pushing her for more answers, he seems more fixated on the evidence at hand. "Michelle LeRoux is dead in this universe, and yet the Michelle LeRoux who died is most likely from another universe. But, the one from this universe is nowhere to be found."

Turning around to face her, he looks very serious. His mood is different from what it normally is, he's usually a little more hyperactive when he's going through so much information, so many ideas, but there's something about this, or perhaps months they've experienced as a whole, that has his mood a bit gloomy. "I think that there's some sort of seemingly infinite loop. Every Michelle LeRoux crossed over at the same time, simultaneously, and in some universes, she didn't get hit by Thomas Redhouse, she survived, and instantly replaced the one who left."

"So…" he reaches out, and physically places his finger against the lights in the sky of the picture. "Where is the machine that got her here, or, a better question, where is the machine she used to leave?"

Turning his head, he says, "I'm going to Kansas City with Isabelle. You need to stay here, it could be dangerous and we have to think about your baby."

As she listens, Elisabeth nods slightly. The photo of the aurora makes her sigh. "I don't think it's an infinite loop… but it's definitely a loop." She pauses. "This world's Michelle was bagged and tagged in college. She was a hypercognitive studying literally bleeding-edge science. Back then they wanted to get her to work for them." Them, of course, being the Company. "But she was too young or something, I'm not clear on the something. They mind-wiped her, same as you were." Her blue eyes flit from image to image. "They were keeping an eye on her research, but they didn't know how far it had gone. And they didn't know that because of her ability, their wipe wasn't solid. She'd remembered enough. And when the machine misfired, apparently she panicked and bolted from the lab before the teams that were keeping an eye on her could get there. Her death really was an accident… if a preventable one."

Biting her lip, Elisabeth looks at Magnes. "I don't know if it all starts here. But just like when the Mallett Device went off, shit went sideways. And a bunch of people went sideways too." She lets that sink in for a long moment. "People who had to be integrated into this timeline and hidden, lest the world figure out that parallel universes exist."

"But I'd guess that Pinehearst doesn't have it, because if they did, there would be nothing to stop, it should already be functional by now. The same as if anyone else had it. So…" Magnes holds his hands up, puzzled. "Where is it? Or did it destroy itself and they only have bits and pieces? These are important questions. If we could either get copies of her research, or even pieces of the machine itself, we'd have a starting point…"

Moving to stand up, a little agitated, Elisabeth says, "Magnes… according to that painting, they do have it. And I can tell you exactly where it is — on November 8, 2011, the machine was in their Natazhat facility and got yanked off to some other timeline!" She points to it — not like she needs to tell him what else was going on that day in Natazhat, after all. She starts pacing.

"Her research was supposedly quite literally wiped. What do you think I've been doing the past month, twiddling my thumbs and gestating?" Liz rolls her eyes a bit. "I've got a technopath who's been willing to do some digging. And she knows the digging could lead interesting places, so… I'm hoping to God she's being as careful as I warned her to be." It's a real concern!

"We know or at least can make an educated guess about several things. One, the machine from here yanked some people from another timeline to here in 1982. That's a fact. But what was described to me… also happened on OUR world in 1982. Which… likely explains a hell of a lot of things." She pauses to assimilate what she's actually saying out loud. "For example… Cardinal, who was supposedly born in 1982, only David Cardinal in Virus never knew his wife was pregnant. He assumed Edward fudged the birthdate to hide Richard."

She goes back to pacing a bit. "Two, it sent some people from here in 2011 over to somewhere else when their Natazhat facility vanished… and likely us getting yanked into Virus had something to do with that too. So by extrapolation, the machine is basically playing fucking hot potatoes with people." Pulling in a slow breath, she asks, "What is it you think is in Kansas?"

"Alright, so these current devices… they're the one from back then." Magnes confirms, as he was clearly not sure on that. "This is insane. And I say this while knowing that I might possibly be a freaking clone because my father is insane."

He shakes his head, then, rubbing his tumbles. It's all a whole lot. "I'm not sure what's in Kansas, but you know what I've learned? Not being sure doesn't mean a hell of a lot. I got all of this from one person, who is coincidentally the dad of the girl I suggested move into my apartment as I was moving out, got her a job at Panucci's and everything. All of these coincidences…"

He looks over at the bulletin board. "I'm going to Kansas because I want to know what kind of coincidences I might run into there. I want to find the place from that photo and then see what's there. I don't care if it turns out to be a waste of time, going to Thomas Redhouse could have also been a waste of time, and yet, here we are."

Elisabeth nods. "Or at least… some later version of it, maybe?" she says in answer to his comment about where the machine came from. "The other scientist who was working on it with her is working for Pinehearst, even though everyone's memories were supposedly wiped of the entire incident in '82, and Arthur has Edward locked up in Moab — he was one of the ones who traveled to our world in 2009 from the 2019 craziness." She sighs.

"The Company sank a lot of money and resources into integrating the people who landed here, mind-wiping them and slipping them into their own real family's lives where possible or giving them new ones. They never found out exactly what timeline they may have come from — it was too similar to this one." She shrugs a little. "We have no way to know how many timelines are actually close enough to skip to, so… it seems likely we'll never know that."

Her query about Kansas wasn't in a tone of incredulity — it was an honest query about what he hoped to find. And he might find it strange that she's doesn't appear to be thinking he's overthinking things, as she often tells him when his mind whirls off on a merry-go-round. "All right. There's really no such thing as coincidence, and you're not paranoid if they really are out to get you, okay? For God's sake, Magnes… do not draw any attention." She blows out a breath and drags her hands through her hair. "Slow movements. If we start moving too quickly, making connections too fast, we will bring their eyes in our direction. And we are nowhere near ready for a face-off with Arthur."

With a grimace, Liz says quietly, "In case you were not aware… I helped kill that man in our world. So… it's really not a good thing for us to get too tangled with him unless or until we have no other choice."

"I'm not interested in fighting Arthur if we can avoid it. I want to get us out of here. I'm trying to move slowly, trying my best to do… all of this. I really don't want you to think that you can't depend on me." He turns to the painting of Gabriel, staring at it. "Why would Gabriel have Ruiz's ability? You know how Gabriel takes abilities, why would he have Ruiz's?"

Looking at the image of the painting again, the question gives her pause. "I… don't know," Elisabeth admits, her brows pulling together slightly. It's a good question. But also now that she stops to think about it… she points to the Pinehearst image, saying slowly, "That dream was in December according to the date on it… but if he's painting what's coming, it means they have another machine." Her tone is flat as she says it. "It's probably in Cambridge… there are no coincidences, right?"

The implications here are not good, and she realizes something else with a pensive expression. "The analog situations in this world are… incredibly close to ours," she murmurs. "In our world, we killed Arthur before he got this powerful. In this world…"

Blue eyes turn to Magnes, and Elisabeth says quietly, "I don't want to be part of that fight again. It's a fight their world's counterparts should be the ones to have if it's going to happen… but Arthur is a threat to our world too." There's a weary kind of acceptance in her gaze. "If nothing else, we're going to have to start prepping them for the battle. And you know neither of us will sit by if it happens while we're still here."

"Can we really stop the inertia of science, though? If we stop Arthur, someone else in Pinehearst, or some other organization, will repair the device, or find the research in rebuild the device, and do horrible things with it. This is one of those things…" Magnes faces Elisabeth, but looks back at the Pinehearst image. "This is one of those things that changes the world permanently, that might always be a threat to our world. And if we stop Arthur from entering our world in this one, wouldn't that just mean the Arthur who succeeded would enter our world?"

These are all things to consider, though his reluctance to have a big superhero battle is unlike him. "To stop things like this, threats like this, we have to start thinking beyond the scope of one or two worlds. We need the science and the organizational structure to combat these threats, because they aren't going to go away in one or even two battles, no matter how many people we kill."

He turns his back to her again, staring at the board. "If we do stop Arthur though, if the people here could even get their government on board after that, then perhaps this world could be the hub to combat these multiversal threats." he considers, in deep thought, keeping his nerves unusually calm. "We have to let certain things play out to know what we're going to do, in the meantime we just have to keep doing our part in our investigations. Also, while researching how to communicate with our world, I'll make a note to try to research some sort of early warning system, to know when someone is about to break into the universe. If one is possible, I think the other should be."

She looks at him as he talks and smiles faintly. "Wow, Magnes." Elisabeth sounds genuinely both impressed and even … maybe pleased isn't the right word, but something close to it. "I have to say… it's the first time I've ever heard you slow down and really think that far ahead. I'm… a little speechless to hear you say it. And I think I'm even a little more gobsmacked to be in complete agreement with the thought." She shoves a hand through her hair and nods slowly as she looks at the images. "It's like fighting the ocean. It's not really going to get us anywhere."

Liz lets a soft huff of a laugh, not really amused. "I told Hiro… something very similar when he came to see me — that some things are just pivotal moments. Some things… just have to happen, and we can push them around some and maybe mitigate the how, but they seem… inevitable."

She turns and faces him, nodding. "Well… we have something of a roadmap. Be careful in Kansas. Meanwhile… it might be time to bring a Feeb up to speed." And to go ahead and make that contact to start telepathic training. She's got a few months before the baby arrives and an uncertain timetable to work with — no time like the present.

"Feeb?" is the first thing Magnes asks, but he nods. "I've just… I don't want to get people hurt, I don't want to risk all of these lives again. God, if you knew what my last meeting with Elspeth was like… I just don't want to trample over everything. This has to be perfectly planned, to the best of our ability."

"I've seen too much, seen too many consequences, how powerful a single human being can be. For as powerful as I feel sometimes, and I hate to admit that, but for as powerful as I feel, it doesn't feel like anything in the face of people like Arthur or Kazimir, once you really face them…" He walks over to Elisabeth, gently tugging at her hand before he releases it and heads for the stairs.

"People like me, Gabriel, Peter, Ruiz. We all have abilities that other Evolved consider exceptionally powerful, but killing any of us isn't particularly hard with the right strategy, with the right thinking. I literally… I killed Gabriel while Kazimir was inside of him, because none of us are the real threat. It's people like Kazimir, entities like Kazimir, who are truly just made of raw power," he explains, heading up the stairs, as she can likely smell something baking again.

"I can't get wrapped up in facing off against raw power, the only way to beat people like Kazimir and Arthur is to outthink them. Kazimir is probably easier to outthink than Arthur, Kazimir is a child, I don't care what anyone says." When he gets to the kitchen, he grabs an oven mitt, then pulls out one pie after another. One pecan pie, one chocolate chip pecan pie. "We need infrastructure. I don't think it's impossible to do what I'm thinking, with this organization."

Elisabeth takes one more look at the images. "Ivanov," she tells him absently and then nods slightly to the tug, following him back up the stairs. She looks pained at his comment about meeting with Elspeth. "I haven't touched base with most of the people who came through with us, but she's probably the one who hurts my heart the most… She has every right to hate us. And apologizing to her, which I would love to do, is an empty gesture. Her sister died because of us and we tore her life upside down." Her tone has a wealth of regret. "And at the same time, Magnes, … was there any other option? Really? I honestly couldn't see one. And I don't think Edward could, either. Which is saying something." She sighs again, walking up the stairs with him, and a brow quirks at the smell of baking.

"In our world," she muses, "I'm … kind of thinking that's what the Deveaux Society was doing. Basically building an organization to keep an eye on things. Here, however, the people who made up the Deveaux Society's leadership are dead. At least… most of them." Elisabeth considers. "Christ. I hate the long game. I hate chess! This is one of those situations where I look at it, throw up my hands, stomp around mumbling, and then make Richard explain it to me when he's worked it out." Now she does sound rather amused. "Damn man's mother was a hypercognitive. No wonder he's smart enough to think all this shit through the way he does."

Which makes her pause, and then shake her head slightly. Time has inertia. Fuck. They have Kaito, so they may not need Edward… but she's beginning to wonder about that. He was helping with that damn machine in 1982 — and here, he's a physicist. And she fears that no matter whether she tries to avoid it, she's going to eventually have to find the shadowmorph in this world, too. It would be nice to have some time before that happens. She still didn't have quite enough distance from watching him die a second time to deal with seeing him alive again. Just the thought of it sends her heart racing — and not in the good ways. But he might in fact be one way to get to Edward. Or at least, what Edward knows.

Ugh. She doesn't want these thoughts. But her mind is already putting pieces together. "Let's just work on what's right in front of us for now," she murmurs. "You go to Kansas, I'll work this end."

"Do you know much about the Deveaux Society?" Magnes asks, curious now as he lets the still pretty hot pies sit for a little while. "They have to sit before you can try one."

"By the way, give me your measurements. I'll have to make you and Elaine some maternity clothes, the good stuff is kind of expensive in the stores." he says, again displaying a hell of a lot of bizarre homemaking skills that Elisabeth probably didn't particularly notice back home, as they never spent much personal time with each other. "Just show me pictures of stuff you think looks good."

"But yeah, the long game is tricky, I always left it up to other people, but I realize it's up to me now. We can trust some people in these worlds, but at least one of us has to play the long game, at least one of us has to be in control, because none of these people have incentive to get us back home." he explains while opening the fridge and pulling out a tray of chicken that seems to be marinating in something with very dark herbs and spices, sitting it on the table, opposite of the pie, since it would be rather unsanitary to sit raw chicken next to pie.

She grins at him. "I didn't know you baked," Elisabeth admits. "We're gonna be some really fat people if you bake and cook when you're stressed too — that's when I'm usually going completely nuts with it." She rolls her eyes. "When we had the winter craziness a last year? The frozen wasteland? Christ, the entire team laughed their asses off. I had food for WEEKS in the freezer, for Endgame and Frontline. And now you're telling me you sew too?" He's just full of surprises.

Settling into the kitchen chair while they talk, she thinks about what she knows. "Well… the Deveaux Society, what little I know of them, is what formed when Charles Deveaux and several other people decided that the Company, which was supposed to be about protecting Evos, lost their way and turned into the boogeyman organization." Liz grimaces slightly. "I know that Arthur has killed most of the founders of the society along with anyone else who could stand against him here in this world. Not so sure about ours; Richard would know a hell of a lot more. I believe that he's been in contact with them before. But honestly, that wasn't part of what I was doing at the time, so I didn't really ask a lot of questions."

She pauses and then eyes him. "We're playing the long game now," Liz admits. "This is a marathon, not a sprint. And as much as I hate it, I think the time is going to come where we're going to have to pull out all the stops and really make some visible moves. I've been quietly putting my chess pieces in place for this game since we got here. But not yet."

"I learned to sew for cosplay at first, and then I started making other people stuff, and tried to make cooler clothes. My mother taught me a lot, she was nice, I think my father hated her. Donna Varlane." Magnes informs, because he doesn't want someone to know his father's name of all people, and not his mother.

"The baking came from Panucci's pizza, I lived there and worked there, so I learned how to bake all kinds of stuff, not just pizza. I learned how to cook a lot of stuff too. Then when me and Elaine started living together, I mean… the first Elaine, I got more and more into trying to learn to cook and bake a larger variety of things." He looks the chicken over, then shakes his head, apparently not finding the current state of it acceptable, so he puts it back into the fridge and closes the door.

"I need data, as much of it as possible. My father, as awful as he was, taught me a lot, and I'm going to use those skills for once. I need to start collecting this data and piecing it together into a plan. I'm also not sure on the current state of Edward Ray or any other probability manipulators, so I have to keep my intentions and motives a complete secret, beyond the most surface level things." he further explains, an extension of how he was when they were in the Hub.

"I can't risk certain things, I need to remain an unknown variable, an unpredictability. I can't be a piece on the board, I have to move pieces when no one is looking." That's how he chooses to see his future role, because it's the one thing that he knows he's good at above all else: Being Adel's impossible dad and doing the unpredictable. "We can't be pawns, and that's how these people like Edward Ray perceive us."

"Edward Ray is in Moab prison," Elisabeth reminds him quietly. "Unless our arrival here has Arthur moving him or something. But he can use him and his ability just as easily in the prison than anywhere else, so I doubt it. And we have to assume from here out that the Edward Rays of any timeline we land in knows about this device." She looks at him pensively and says, "I found out a bit ago that the device definitely existed in the Virus world — Edward told Kaylee in general terms about an experiment he helped with in 1982. He described to her that they'd ripped a hole between worlds and he'd seen himself looking back at him. I've been thinking about it ever since… and I'm wondering if these portals travel… kind of the same way time does. If we can only go one way through them. Our world to Virus, Virus to here… I'm not sure of the implications of that for us getting home, though. I think your idea of working on a way to communicate between the worlds is pretty much what Michelle already managed — we just have to figure out how to do it without replicating her mistakes and without Petrelli catching on."

"My theory is that how far we travel depends on how much energy we travel with, but I could easily be wrong. I think there's some sort of fine tuned process that we're nowhere near using, because we've just been blindly poking holes in the universe. There definitely has to be a better way." Magnes insists, leading her out to the living room so that he can take a seat on the couch. There's a TV now, at least, hanging on the wall, and he's gotten video games and movies and such stuffed into the little entertainment system, as well as comics in one bookshelf, and Elaine's books in another.

"I can sense gravity, I have very fine gravitational senses. So I've been considering if it's possible to build something that allows me to sense gravity on a quantum level. String theory is a theory of quantum gravity, the strings themselves that vibrate between the universes, according to the theory, have a vibrational state of gravity." he tries his best to explain that, but then just shakes his head, moving on.

"So, Edward Ray…" he allows the name to just sort of linger for a moment. "How do we remove him from the board?"

She allows him to herd her into the living room instead of the dining room chair and settles as he talks. "We don't," Elisabeth replies immediately. "Not in the foreseeable future." She's clearly thinking on the matter. "When you said that you can't stop the science, you're right. But I also think… certain people are going to be required because they've always been part of it and they always will be. If time isn't a line and it's existing all at once… there's no extricating Edward from all of this because he's a necessary piece." She pauses. "I'm not explaining this well, I'm sure. But for now… we don't remove him from the board. We may not be able to do what we need to do without the man."

Leaning her head back against the back of the couch to look at his ceiling, the blonde purses her lips slightly. "Give me a little time to think through what I already know and how it relates together. I'm not as strong in the science as you are with this, for me it's a lot more intuitive — but sometimes when you say things, I feel like the path you're on is not the right one. Like it's the wrong direction. But I can't articulate why I'm feeling it because I just don't have the vocabulary to really explain what I'm more or less intuiting in my gut. Does that make sense?"

"It makes sense, but if we keep playing someone else's game, eventually we're going to end up dead." Magnes is quick to say, clearly having somewhat strong feelings on it, for whatever reason. "Just like John Logan who everyone loves giving a chance, because that definitely always works out for everyone. I wanted to shoot him in the head, but I didn't say anything, I never say anything when people are inviting these awful human beings into our lives."

"So, all I can say is, let me know when you come up with a concrete reason to keep Edward Ray around, because if I ever sense that he's a threat to us, I'm going to find a way to remove him. My father is an awful person, but he always valued taking action over allowing something to fester. I think he always hated the fact that I just sat around thinking about things all the time, not moving forward in the way that he wanted me to." He goes into a lot of deep thought again, then leans forward, resting his forehead against his hand.

Elisabeth's head comes up and she looks at him. "Don't go from one extreme to the other," she advises. "You'll never find your personal balance to make decisions that way. FIrst you do everything you can to avoid what he taught you, then you embrace everything he taught you — neither is the right way to go."

She pats him on the shoulder briefly, still thinking on her own thoughts here. "Edward is an asshole of the first order. But the one thing he has always been is determined to make sure that his children survive at any cost. So… yes, I could see where if he thought we were a threat to Kaylee, he'd be a threat to us… but there is a reason that he was using Richard the way he was. I don't understand it yet… but I believe that it has to do with a lot more than Richard just being Michelle's son. Whatever was driving him to move all of us about the chess board, it definitely had to do with survival. Which means he is not coming off our board unless or until I say so." Liz tips her head around so she can see him. "I've been doing this longer than you — trust me when I tell you I have zero intention of letting any of our people be hurt, Magnes. But my gut is telling me we need him. And if I ever deem him a threat, I will be the first person to shoot his ass."

She pauses a moment and then says, "You keep telling me you trust Cardinal. He trusted Edward." It's really the only reason Elisabeth herself is willing to keep the idea that Edward might be trustworthy in her mind — she trusts Richard's read on the situation with that man better than her own.

"For right now, I have no choice but to trust you on this, but Edward Ray can't know anything about me as long as he's on the board, outside of the specific variables that might actually involve us escaping. And he can never, ever, know anything about my motivations, or about my personal life." Magnes seems very firm and adamant about these caveats, always at least some level of paranoid about Edward Ray's ability.

"My father… I wouldn't say that I trust or embrace everything, but he's lived and survived for a very long time, in a very dangerous environment. So I can't discount the fact that he must have some idea of what he's doing." He slowly sits up, looking over at her. "This is all very difficult, and stressful, and I need to gain some sense that I actually have some sort of control, that I can make these things happen without falling into someone's trap. I need to talk to Tamara."

In point of fact, Elisabeth seems fine with his caveats. "I agree," she tells him. "The less Edward knows about you at all, the better I'll feel. Tamara's a good source for some things, but remember the limitations of her kind of ability. She's never exactly got full clarity and there's a lot of interpretation there. But she's never steered me wrong."

With a soft sigh, she nods at him. "I understand the need to feel like you have control." Lord knows, she feels the need too. "Just remember that in end… control is an illusion." She moves to stand up, giving Magnes a brief kiss on the temple as she does. "And the harder you try to control things, the more they wing out of control. I'm going to head back to the apartment. You've given me a lot to think about with the paintings. Let me know when you leave for Kansas, okay?"

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