|AIR DATE 2011.08.28|
|Synopsis: Elliot finds Harry post-trauma, and gets settled with driving another witness home.|
There was a hustle and bustle around ACRU about a few hours ago. A unit geared up to go and then returned with someone in custody, a traumatized Scot and quiet and shaking Harry. After everyone was sequestered in different rooms - with Harry remaining in the Captain's office for most of the time they were back. Rumors have circulated, as they normally do in a small unit, and everything from an AP taking out a building to an AP holding hostages has been whispered about. The talk died down slightly once there was no more information to spin, but then Harriet herself was ushered out of the Captains office. After a quick, quiet discussion with the red-haired Scottish woman she was brought in with, the CSI remains standing awkwardly by the Captains office. She looks unsure of what to do now. Once again, she looks around the room to see what everyone else is doing, wondering what they know.
Having just finished his report for the incident earlier in the day, Elliot has once again managed to commandeer a good rolling chair for himself and sits near a phone with a baseball in one hand and a mitt on the other. It's in mid-toss that he sees Harry exit the office, and he waits until she's finished speaking with the red-haired girl and the latter has slipped into the Captains office before he jettisons himself over with a push of his legs. "How're you feeling?" he asks of the CSI.
Tensing, Harry nearly jumps out of her skin when Elliot rolls over to her and asks her a question. She wasn't looking in his direction and she certainly wasn't expecting him to come talk to her. Quickly, she puts a hand on her throat and takes a deep breath. Right. ACRU. She's fine. But all the talk of still being in a nightmare and zombie clowns coming after her has unsettled the scientist. "I'm…." How is she, what can she say that isn't completely fake? After a few moments, she just concludes with, "Yeah." Is that an answer? She's not sure. "What are you doing here?"
Working, allegedly," he replies. "At least I still worked here last I checked." He fixes Harry with a probing if not sympathetic look, perhaps having just realized the extent of her trauma. "You look like hell. Do you need anything? Coffee, water … a chair?" The chair squeals and groans a bit in protest as Elliot shifts his posture to something less languid, as though that might make him less startling after the fact.
Working, right. That's what she was doing before, too. His normal snark is met without much fight. Instead, Harry blinks and looks at the chair. She was just sitting and she's now a little too keyed up to do so. "N-no. Thanks. I don't think I could sit down if I wanted to." She'd just bounce right back up again. Did she just thank Elliot? Weird. "Have you heard anything?" It's a cryptic question, but one she's curious about.
Settling back in the chair again, Elliot lets out a soft snort — does anyone ever tell him anything? — but the sardonic retort on his tongue is swallowed whole. "Just that something happened at the Patton State Hospital. AP-related, I assume. They shut the place down." He tosses the ball from hand to glove. "You'd know more about it than me."
Perhaps they don't. And, for once, Harry is quite glad of that. The less other people know for now the better. "Yeah. I guess I would." She was there, after all. And she's not sure what she should be talking about with other people. However, she remembers what Elliot's power is and she turns slightly to fix him with a look. "Your illusions. How easy is it to tell them from reality?"
"For me or for other people?" Elliot's smile is perhaps not that reassuring, but he soon follows it up with: "Well, I don't exactly go around asking people to rate them; from what I can tell, they're usually indistinguishable, but it depends on the circumstances. Why?"
"Research," Harriet's reply is quick and she looks back toward the Captains' office again with a frown. "Look, there's a girl in there - her name's Jude. She was at the thing at Patton State Hospital. She's going to need an escort home. Or, she should have one." It's a hint that maybe he should be the one escorting. Though, why she would subject poor traumatized Jude to Elliot is beyond her. She really must be out of it. Then, "Maybe you should start carrying those 'rate my illusion' cards."
A nod. "Sure." And then thwuck goes the ball in the mitt, punctuating a pause in which Elliot simply blinks. "Maybe I will," he states, the words coming out with care, as though suspicious that they might be walking into a trap. "You could even rate a few for me, if you want some hands-on research."
Maybe it is a trap. Mostly, Harry is just curious as she's never had any sort of ability other than quirky talking. "I mostly run the theoretical side of things. Thanks, though." And then, realizing what she's said, she also adds, "And be nice."
That earns a roll of Elliot's eyes as the ball once again forcefully flies into the cushioned glove. "I'm not going to be an ass to a traumatized girl," he snorts. "Christ, what kind of person do you take me for?" Besides the obvious.
Besides the obvious? Harry gives Elliot a look that goes to show just what kind of a person she thinks he is sometimes. He was nice to her to start with and now he's back to his snarky self. Of course, she is helping that along somewhat. "She's quirky."
Enter: the quirky, traumatized girl. The door opens quietly into the conversation. Mousy, like she doesn't want to cause a lot of noise after the quiet time spent inside, Jude eases it open only bit by bit. She emerges the same way; a shuffle here, a shuffle there, until she's squeezed herself out. Hiding, somewhat, behind a curtain of vibrantly red hair, she startles when she sees the two people there, so nearby, but it isn't quite with the jumpiness she suffered earlier. Big green eyes blink, readjusting to the once again unfamiliar world of the ACRU, both wariness and wonder filling them up. The ACRU might not be anything particularly special to look at (aside from some handsome faces…), but its particular environment seems, to this civilian, to be an overwhelming and curious sight anyway.
"I like quirky," says Elliot, who does not often like quirky. "I am the perfect gentleman around qui— " And here comes quirky, all red-hair and terror, and thwuck goes the ball into mitt once more. Elliot offers his most charming of beaming smiles because he is going to be nice, as demanded. "Hi there."
Don't break something Elliot. Harry sees Jude exit the Captains office and gives a short wave to attract her attention. It may have seemed like their conversations was done before, but now she can offer some more assistance. When Jude is there, she seems a bit more put together. It's most likely a facade or the poor girl. "You as the perfect gentleman I'd like to see," she mutters. Louder, she adds, "This is going to be your escort home, Jude. Meet Elliot Couch."
Terrified, but luckily for Elliot, past the stage of being inconsolable, Jude shuffles closer on Harry's wave. Her outlook, what with those perpetually widened eyes of hers, is initially wary; but soon the man she's being introduced to is given the same wonder and curiosity she was giving the rest of the establishment. Plus a raise of her eyebrows, despite the fact that she appears perpetually shell-shocked and a tinge paler even than her natural porcelain no matter her expression. She leans closer to Harry as if they've known each longer (and more pleasantly) than they have. "He's my escort?" She looks Elliot up and down animatedly. Approved. " … funny name though." On that note, she holds a hand out to the detective— stops, draws it back, wipes the sweat off her palm onto her skirt, and tries it again awkwardly. "I'm, uh— I'm Jude."
Oh dear. Elliot would have to be partially blind and deaf not to pick up on this. But he is the very model of a gentleman as he extends his hand to take Jude's and give it a short but firm shake. "Yeah, it's almost funnier than the nicknames. Nice to meet you, Jude. Whenever you're ready to head out, we can."
Harry gives almost an amused look to Jude's response to her escort home. "Yes. It is a funny name," she agrees, hoping to damper any intentions Jude may have toward Elliot. That could be bad. Like a chaperone, she gives Elliot another protective look. Perfect gentleman. "Everything go alright with the Captains?" she asks Jude in an attempt to slide right over the awkward part that just happened.
Jude's grip is nothing like a real handshake; it's all slippery fingers and distracted grabs at the wrong time. Hand rather quickly retrieved after that, she wraps herself up in her purple plaid sleeves. "I'd very much like to get out of here, thanks," she answers both quickly and sincerely. This place may be filled with curious things and shiny badges, but her day needs to end. " — oh, ah-hmm." She bobs her head to Harry. "Captain Shea helped put my mind at ease. I just…" She shuffles herself next to the perfect gentlemen that is Elliot. "I want to go home."
"All right, then." Standing and stretching himself luxuriously, Elliot slips off the baseball mitt and sets it with ball nestled inside on a desk nearby. "Shall we?" The look he throws at Harry very clearly reads, oh my god you're so paranoid.
"Good to hear. Go home, get some rest." As case in point, Harry may be doing the exact same thing as soon as she sees Elliot and Jude safely off. The look she throws back at Elliot clearly reads back, with good reason, obviously. "Remember, you can call me if you need."
* * *
And so Elliot and Jude find themselves in the parking garage standing next to a Mazda MX-5 Miata in copper red mica. How someone on his pay grade can afford such a car is anyone's guess (maybe it's just an illusion), but the fact that it opens at the press of the button on his keyring would suggest that he's not hijacking it. "You'll have to tell me where we're going," he notes as he opens the driver door and slides onto the leather seat behind the wheel.
"And yooouuu'll have to tell me why you have this fancy car — like the colour by the way, very ginger for a car — instead of one of those police cars or those ACRU van contraptions I've seen roaming the street looking all looming." The Scottish-tinged chatter follows right behind Elliot, conversational on the edge of nerves, until Jude circles around to the other side of the car. She opens the door, but drops her head down into sight without getting in just yet, her own very ginger hair hanging. "It's a bit shady, isn't it, asking a traumatized girl into your car. How do I know you're really the police?"
That earns a blink. Having just come from the ACRU headquarters at the behest of an ACRU member, it seems a silly question. "Well," begins Elliot, "I'm still in training, but I'm perfectly qualified to escort you home. As for the car, it's a hold-over from my previous job."
Elliot earns a blink in turn. Jude eyes him for a long, suspicious moment before something or other manages to win her over and she lets herself crumple into the car. After she shuts the door, she leans against it, angled toward him, a bundle of long, gangly limbs, leggings, skirt, and purple. "I can't tell what's real anymore," she explains — maybe cryptic, but with a haunted sincerity she's eager to move on from. "You look too old to be in training," she blurts out instead.
"Thanks," is Elliot's dry response. Once Jude is in and seated, he turns the key in the ignition, illuminating the dashboard and center console with an array of orange and green and pale blue. "That's probably because I just barely started. I was an attorney before the ACRU."
"Oh," Jude replies, a twist of her features scrunching her nose a touch and wrinkling her forehead as she buckles up. "That sounds boring, you must like this a lot better then. Can you carry a gun yet?" Although a nervous energy clings to the young woman as a result of her ordeal, talking keeps her on the level; distracted. She doesn't even give Elliot more than a second to respond to her question before she's on to something else, the lights of the console shining in her eyes. "Uhm— UCLA," she answers belatedly, "Is where— I live. I know, it's— summertime, of course I'm not the kind of person who goes to school in the summertime." She sinks slightly down in her seat. "I'm just staying in the campus housing instead of staying with my parents like— last y— … y'uh, decade. It's not as if I've with my parents… any time… recently…" Jude bolts ahead, distracting herself and hopefully Elliot from her rambling failures by cranking a random dial on the pretty, pretty console that looks vaguely connected to the radio.
Before Elliot can even hope to speak, numbers on the display jump and suddenly there's music flooding the interior of the car. It's hard to pin down just what kind because it changes with each turn; she's found the tuner, and it looks like satellite radio. The driver's face tightens a bit as all anal retentive instincts scream in seething fury, but he manages to keep his voice even when he states, "Uh, please don't touch that." At least his driving is impeccable, in spite of things.
"Why not?" Jude counters guilelessly; it's just a harmless tuner, it's not shooting laser beams into the street. She fiddles with it, savvy enough with the console to settle it on one station after a few moments. A station that sends the light, feminine song stylings of Ingrid Michaelson into the car. Still leaning ahead from her fiddling, she peeks over and up at the driver. "Are you in a state now I've called you old," she wagers, scolding. "I didn't mean you look too old. You're not like my dad or anything. That would just be creepy. You know, you have an older man thing going on. Rugged." With that out of her mouth, she reverts to sitting up straight — or rather, a suddenly withdrawn slouch. Pressing her fist to her mouth, elbow leaned on the door, she looks out the window — momentary silence.
It's difficult to tell what's worse: The conversation or what's now booming over the stereo system. Thankfully it's too dark to see Elliot's grip tighten on the steering wheel. Perfect gentleman. "Thanks." Less dry this time, but he's quick to launch into something else: "So what are you studying at UCLA?"
Jude flashes a quick glance over at Elliot. Oh, he's still willing to talk to her! She livens, but returns to looking outside. "Oooh… this and that…" she answers vaguely, shifting her knuckles against her chin to watch Beverly Hills drift past. "Liberal Arts kind of. I was making a documentary at Patton— you know— when…" Both of her hands come up to form a loose, uneven steeple near her face. She turns to really look at Elliot now, really study at him through the dark. Her eyes are almost childlike in the deeper curiosity they hold, emboldened by a distant sense of fear. "Have you been with the police long enough to see anything really terrible? I mean really just, the worst things imaginable."
"So you've met Captain Ramsay," Elliot remarks, deadpan. He smirks, but it fades once the sincerity of the question sinks in. "No, not really. I know others on the team have seen a lot worse than I have. As an attorney, the worst I ever saw were photographs."
Only blinking at the deadpan joke, Jude's own weighty topic turns itself over in her mind, pangs of fear and thought in her expressive eyes, but it rests well on her despite her very recent traumas. The witness appears almost disappointed by Elliot's answer. When Jude drops her head, it hangs a little heavier. Her hands nestle onto her skirt. "Are you A-positive," she peeks over at the man again, "is that is that why you work with the ACRU?"
Pursing his lips — he clearly does not relish revealing his status, despite his present place of employ — Elliot pauses a moment before clearing his throat: "They were the only ones who gave my application a second glance after my old firm let me go. They didn't want someone with the ability to generate illusions in the court room. 'Too great a liability,' they said."
Elliot's former position as an attorney might have sounded boring to Jude before, but now she fixes on him with every ounce of her attention. It takes a few rapid-fire blinks before she absorbs all parts of his answer. Application, check. Liability, check. Ability… "Gen— " The redhead's accented voice fights a war with itself between sounding suddenly afraid, and deeply fascinated. "Generate illusions?" She instinctively sways a little tighter against the inside of the car door, but warily half-smiles as if to apologize for the reaction.
It still garners an arched eyebrow from Elliot. This is the second person in as little as an hour who has acted like his ability is a plague. "Wow, I'm having deja vu," he utters mildly.
Questions hover on the edge of speech. Jude's curious — if still wary — gaze just swirls with them. Today, unlike most, she holds them back. "Ehm— sorry," she confesses, "It's just that I saw a lot of things today that that weren't real, in the end. And some that were. The worst of things. I don't know how your ability works, maybe you put on magic shows for children's birthday parties." She looks at him hopefully before slumping onto the window's edge.
Frowning, Elliot takes the car around a corner. "Sorry to hear that," he states. "If it makes you feel any better— I don't do magic shows, but in college, I used to use my ability to change my appearance and pretend I was someone else for a while, for fun. I don't use it on people to scare them … unless they're particularly deserving." The last added as a yellow cab darts into his lane, forcing him to tap the brakes.
The tap of the brakes serves as the momentum for Jude to whip her head around at Elliot with a twirl of red hair. Wariness of his ability has been swept aside by fascination — her face lights up. "You can do that? Just suddenly be somebody else?" she says in wonder. Curiosity angles in with a tip of her head and a quirk of her brows at the man at the wheel. It hasn't only made her feel better, she's enamored by the thought. "I wish I had ability like that. Sounds like loads of fun. To just… change everything. No more Jude."
The sudden burst of enthusiasm brings a smile to Elliot's lips, in spite of himself. "It is loads of fun," he assures. "It's amazing what you can get away with sometimes. I used to think about keeping a few separate identities and switching between them full-time, but it would ultimately have been too much work to maintain."
Entertaining Elliot's change of identity shenanigans keeps Jude's mind quite occupied, and as a result, her mouth shut. She even smiles, too, one that actually stays plants her cheek in her palm and daydreams out the window, not seeing the familiar neighbourhoods. It's all imaginary times, new faces, fantastical abilities and no nightmares.