A Constant In All Worlds


aura_icon.gif elisabeth2_icon.gif felix_icon.gif

Scene Title A Constant In All Worlds
Synopsis Everyone needs their anchors to help the world make sense.
Date March 11, 2019

Raytech, Elisabeth's Apartment

As she lets him in the door of the apartment this time, there's a much less tense air to his greeting. In fact, Elisabeth barely has time to warn him — "Incoming!"

The tiny tornado of sandy blonde hair and spindly arms and legs that is Aurora Harrison hurtles at him at high speed with a screech. "DYADYA!" It's possible that she's forgotten all of the reminders her mother gave her that this is not the same Uncle Felix… or perhaps the child just doesn't care. There is no hesitation when she launches herself into the gangly Russian-born man's arms… instead, there's an avalanche of tears and incoherent words lurking in sobs. Some in English, but a frantic smattering of also-incoherent Russian appear as well.

And Elisabeth has to cover her mouth and turn away so Aurora can't see the gut punch when the overwhelmed child wails, "I wanna go home, dyadya!" On a 'normal' day, he's simply 'Unca Felix.' Felix was nothing if not cautious about making sure Aura knew she had a daddy who loves her and the word 'uncle' in Russian is too close to 'daddy' in English — though he taught it to her, they rarely use it. So its use now eviscerates Liz.

Oh, god. Fel’s face is a mask of shock, for an instant. But then…he was a cop and an agent for so long, and learning how to deal with upset civilians is definitely a Thing. So Liz can see him rally….even as the fissures keep spreading. He catches her as she hurls herself into his arms, holds her close, strokes her hair.

“Ptitsa, I’m sorry. Things aren’t like they were and I know that’s hard. I know things look different,even people you know. But your mother and I love you very much, and it’s going to be better, okay?” He rocks her as if she were even smaller than she is, though she’s a little girl, either way.

It’s somehow that much more of a blow to meet someone who knew and lived that bright future. No war, no loss of Lee, an Uncle Felix who could love and spoil her. It brings home the reality of that other world, that other life. That somewhere he’s got a mirrored soul mourning this woman and this little girl forever. There’s nothing to do but be as close to that man as he can.

The tiny being wraps her arms and legs around his spindly frame and buries her face against his shoulder while he rocks her. There is much sobbing, the small form trembling in his hands.

Elisabeth meets his eyes and has a helpless look on her face — she should have anticipated this, but she didn't. And now there's guilt as well as that subtle vibration that he hasn't felt in so long, the one that is a dead giveaway of her own anxious state. "C'mon… let's get you both a place to sit," she murmurs. "I'll go get Blossom… she…" Yeah. Liz would love to say 'she'll be fine' but… there's a part of her that fears it's a lie.

She ushers Felix and his armload over to the self-same couch that saw his own shattering reunion with Liz just a couple weeks ago and hastens into Aurora's bedroom to return with a floppy, well-loved, shabby and much-mended stuffed dog who might be supposed to be a German Shepherd from its coloring. Tucking the stuffed toy into both of their arms, Liz backs away to the kitchen counter. Obviously there needs to be tea. It's too early in the day for vodka. She's not far, but she gives Aurora room to just be with Felix.

And it takes a long time of crying before the sniffling eases enough that the small girl — who refuses to release her hold on the lanky Russian — finally whispers with a hiccup, "I missed you, Unca Felix."

“I missed you, too, sweetheart. Now….I need you to help me with something,” he says, gently. Then he’s turning his head - his hair’s clipped even shorter than that of the Felix she knew, and that terrible scar is on display. “My head got hurt a while ago - I’m better now, but sometimes when your head gets hurt, it makes it hard to remember things like you should. So if I forget things I used to know, just tell me and I’ll remember them after that, okay?” Let’s get the possible questions as to why he won’t know what he’s supposed to know right out of the way. “You may have to teach me things, but I promise I’ll learn real fast.”

He gives Liz a grateful look. Tea’s always so helpful. Russians are in sympathy with the English on that front.

Aurora's flushed and her features swollen with all the crying by the time they're sitting on the couch, with her comfortably ensconced on her beloved Unca Felix's lap. She wipes her runny nose with the back of the sleeve of her shirt — cuz she's 6. His own shirt's not looking too great either from all those waterworks. But she sits back enough in his lap to look him in the face. Sweetly, she pats his cheek with one hand while the other arm keeps Blossom in a stranglehold. "It's okay, Unca Felix. You can't 'member what you don't know. You musta forgot it was Other-Unca-Felix who libbed by me an' Mummy cuz your head got hurted. But we din't lib here wif you til now." She's forgiving and comforting him for not knowing that.

Elisabeth brings tea — and hot chocolate for Aurora — into the living room and sets them on the low table, trying not to laugh. She did warn Felix that the little girl had an interesting perspective on all that copies of people thing.

"Me an' Bossum will help you, though. Cuz even though we libbed wif Other-Unca-Felix, you're still Unca Felix." She tips her head. "We gots to feed you more." Dear God, she is her mother's child. "You musta been runnin' way fast a lot."

“There you go,” he says, smiling in relief. “You got it already. And I do run fast a lot, so I do need to eat more, I guess. Do you like to cook? What’s your favorite thing to eat? And what does Blossom like to eat best?” He looks down at the dog, like she might be prompted to answer, then he winks at Aurora. Confirmed bachelor, doting uncle, spoiler of nieces.

He serves her the hot cocoa- ladies first - then sips from the tea, looking to Liz over the rim of the cup.

Elisabeth's relief is palpable. That low vibration is disappearing, no longer buzzing against his skin at least. She takes her tea from him and settles in on the other side of them.

Aurora drinks some of her drink but puts the cup back down quickly. She's reluctant to move more than a couple inches from Felix, as if afraid he'll vanish. "Mummy an' me used to bake a lot. But then we hadda move a lot an' there was nothin' to bake. Sometimes on'y a little to eat. I like chickens the best, though. An' carrots. We din't have chickens til we moved here. I like fishes too. An' sometimes bunnies, even though they're cute. They taste good. Bossum just p'tend eats. He's stuffed." Silly Unca Felix.

She shows him the stuffed dog, a little woeful these days despite obvious attempts to mend and clean it up. "He gots a collar an' ev'ything. Other-Unca-Felix made me p'omise to keep him safe an' not lose him. An' I din't! Not the whole way!"

He holds out a hand to see the dog, if Aurora’s willing to yield it. That wondering expression in his face - the other one of him he’ll never meet, but who took careof his Liz….and yielded her up, when it was demanded. “You did a good job. Took good care of him,” he says, smiling. Nevermind the lump in his throat that constricts it *just* a little bit.

Liz gets a grin. “Sounds like I’ve got a lot to measure up to, when it comes to first Uncle Felix.”

Elisabeth laughs, the sound just a bit on the watery side. She's struggling with her own constriction in the throat along with tears that have to be controlled. "Well… first Uncle Felix had her for five years of her life. I don't think you have anything to worry about though — some things are universal." Like the fact that this little girl loves Felix as much as her mother does.

Aurora is pleased as punch with the praise and wiggles in his arms with a grin. There's an air of possession going on in that moment — MY Unca Felix. "Bossum libbed wif me an' Mummy ferever. Unca Felix gibbed im to me an' he keeps my bad dreams away an' he pertects me. He gots magic inside him so I don't ferget Other-Unca-Felix or you just in case you weren't here when we came."

In case I wasn’t….it was a near thing. There’s that shadow in Fel’s eyes for a moment, but the smile doesn’t dim. “Well, sounds like he’s doing a good job, too,” he says, more cheerfully. He squeezes her a little. This day and age doesn’t permit the spoiling of children the way the pre-war world does….but it’s good odds Blossom will have a companion, pretty soon. Even if Felix has to sew her a sock monkey himself.

“I’m glad I get to see you here,” he says, finally. As if he’s trembling on the edge of running out of words, too.

Aurora nods and then curls her little body back into his chest to lay there contently, listening to his very-fast heartbeat. She seems to understand he needs to not have to talk too much right now, and instead she asks, "Mummy, maybe you should tell Unca Felix a story? When he runs too much, he gets real tired, 'member?"

Elisabeth hides her laughter behind her teacup as her daughter makes every effort to take care of the speedster on their couch. Apparently she's decided he needs a little mothering. "Me an' Bossum could tell him stories," the little girl continues on, "but I forget the best parts!" The wheedling is masterful — no whining involved.

"Mmm-hmm," Liz snorts in amusement. "How about we tell Uncle Felix about your new school? I bet he'd like to hear about that." She looks up at him, giving him the time and space to just sip his tea. "She'll be going up to the Winslow-Crawford school — Peyton's place." She's doing her level best to hide it, but he can see that it's a little stressful for her to acknowledge the little girl is going there alone. "She's been really excited about starting school, since she missed out when we had to move around so much the past couple of years."

He’s content to stroke her hair and back - taking comfort and giving it. “That’s exciting,” Fel says, mildly. “That’s where I found out about my power,” he adds. “That’s the first time it really happened. When I was playing with the other kids at school. I liked school a lot - I liked learning things. I bet you’ll enjoy it, too.” What a strange thing to remember - those days in Moscow, decades ago. A different land, a different world, seen through the misty lens of memory and reminiscence.

Aurora grins and looks up at him from where her head is resting in the hollow of his shoulder. She and Blossom have spent many an hour in this spot — albeit in another Felix's lap. And she looks right at home. And even a little sleepy from the crying jag. "I wanna read so much, Unca Felix," she confides. "When we was in the water place, there was a liberry that had books made by a lady who could turn into letters! I liked her books, but you couldn't take them out of the liberry. Here, I get to bring them home. It's primal!"

Was that kindergartener slang? Fel shoots Liz a startled look. “Libraries are amazing - all those books for people to share. I like ‘em, myself. I’ll read to you - and I bet you’ll learn to read fast, yourself. We can work on that, when you do it in school…and I’ll find you some you can keep.” Even in this age, someone’s got to have a copy of the Poky Little Puppy, right?

"They gots books about puppies??" Aurora casts an accusing look at her mother. "The books I got from the liberry here don't gots puppies in them."

Elisabeth sips her tea and then sticks her tongue playfully at the little girl. "If you hadn't picked up the first 12 books you laid eyes on and then had to be dragged away so that you could actually read those before trying to bring home the whole library, you might have spotted puppy books," she points out on a laugh.

Apparently the little girl had been overwhelmed by the freedom to take the books with her. Liz grins slightly. "See? I told you that you'd have plenty of people to help with reading. You got me and Daddy and Cassie and you'll have teachers, and now you have Uncle Felix too."

Aurora scootches her little butt back a bit further so that she's literally snuggled into the curve of his body where he's her chair. She offers him a look that is a bit assessing and (stage-)whispers, "If we could all go home to Other-Unca-Felix's house or our old house, there's lots more books there. But Mummy said the doorways only go one way."

Fel’s jaw tightens. “That’s what I’ve heard,” he says, gently, arms around her. “But there are lots of books about puppies at the local library, I am pretty sure. We’ll have to go look, sometime. I’ve always liked to read, too. All kinds of stories. Maybe I’ll even teach you to read Russian, when you’re older….but first, English. Gotta know those letters before you learn the kinds I had to know as a kid.”

He’ll have her fluent in three year or less, just watch. Even if it’ll narrow his options for swearing considerably, to have a little doe-eyed gradschooler able to tattle on him when he mouthes off.

Aurora grins cheekily and points out, "You teached me some already!" The word that drops from her mouth is not 'dyadya' this time. But at least it's also not the Russian equivalent of 'shit' either. "Da idi ty!"1

Elisabeth's smile quirks even more, though she rolls her eyes and says, "Hey! What did we say about that word?" Looking at Felix, she comments in exasperation, "<She'll be a fast study. She's listened to us talk for five years.>" Her own fluency was… more or less grade-school level when she left, but clearly in the intervening years it's grown to full conversational fluency. "Still can't read a lick of it, though. Makes absolutely no sense to me." But it amuses the hell out of her that Felix and Kain will both have to watch their mouths around Aurora. The fodder is endless.

The speedster’s face is a comic mask of surprise - brows up, lips parted, shock writ large. “I…..wow. Yeah. Man. Grandpa Nikolai and Great-Grandpa Mikhail woulda been proud,” he says, then, “<Sounds like Mom’s learned a lot, too. We’ll get you reading. It’s hard to get Russian language books here what with the way we’re kept away from Europe, but….>”

He shakes his head, ruefully. “<Ever more glad Mom got me out when she did.>”

Elisabeth laughs outright, the sound genuinely happy. "Lord, Mikhail…" She grins at the thought of Felix's grandfather, for she genuinely adored the elderly man. She doesn't probe for the answer to whether he's still alive — not in front of Aurora. She'll double-check later when the little girl isn't around. The phrasing makes her think both Mikhail and Nikolai are gone. Still more losses of people that she cared for while she wasn't here. There've been a number, not the least of which Jaiden and Devon. Now is not the time for those conversations.

"I have to admit, the current events worldwide aren't all that and a bag of chips, based on the studying I've been doing." It's taking Liz a little time to catch up, but she's working on it. "And certainly if we can get the books, I never turn down learning new skills." Any and all skills that could be useful are fair game nowadays — never know what might be handy to know.

The look in his eyes, too, gives it away. That kind of wistfulness, as well as the tense. A little upnod to her, as if to confirm her supposition.s. “Yeah. It ain’t great,” he allows, quietly…but there’s another smile for Aurora. “Well, Briar Rose, when’s your bedtime?” ….. was he told that nickname? Or is it merely proof that he thinks alike, in whatever world he’s found.

Aurora looks up at him, hopeful. "You'll tuck me in? Daddy's gotta conf'ence call and can't come tonight." The affirmative sends the little one scurrying out of Felix's lap to go get her jammies on so he can read to her tonight!

Elisabeth just nods slightly in reply to the knowledge, but she can't help the smile at Aurora… and at his nickname for her. "G'wan, Unca Felix… your best girl needs your attention."

“I’ll tuck you in,” he confirms. “Want a story? I know a few. Did first Uncle Felix ever tell you the one about Vasilisa the Wise and Baba Yaga?” A beat, and he stage-whispers, “It’s a little scary.”

Russian fairytales, after all.

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