A Hole In The World


adel2_icon.gif cardinal_icon.gif

Scene Title A Hole in the World
Synopsis That's what it feels like there's left after the raid in Alaska.
Date November 9, 2011

Somewhere outside Jade City, British Columbia, Canada

Pulses of violet and a flash of light— then nothing. That's the last that Adel saw of her father. The last that they saw of the Red Valkyrie that had flown up in an attempt to either stop or save him, they will never know for sure. When they made it back to the safe house, it took a while for her to get herself moving again, get herself into the building, into one of the rooms of the safehouse. The last time she'd arrived here she'd showed off her powers, lifting firewood and setting up the firepit—

She couldn't even distract herself like that. She felt an ache she didn't even know she had, like something had been ripped out from deep inside her. Like everything was off center.

A hole in the world.

She can't breathe. She feels trapped.

So she flees. She leaves the building, comes out the door with tears in her eyes, not even bothering to pull on a heavy coat, the burst of chilled air shocking her system and helping in many ways as she tries find her breath.

It's a dark night, and it's quiet out there, the chill weight of autumn having even quieted the cheeping of insects this time of year.

At least until there's the flick of a zippo open, a flame coiling upwards to kiss the tip of a cigarette over near one of the trees not far from the front of the cabin. "Hey, Adel," is Richard Cardinal's quiet greeting from where he's leaning against that tree, a leather flight jacket battered by time and use his own shield against the weather for what good it does, "Can't sleep?"

He takes a long drag on the cigarette, eyes closing before he breathes the smoke upwards, drifting towards the star-specked skies above.

From the way she's gasping for air trying to find her breath— no, can't sleep. Adel's not sure she'll be able to sleep until she gets home to one of her moms. Any of them. JJ's trying to help, but it's not the same. She closes her eyes, taking a deep breath in through her nose and out through her mouth, but even then— no, it doesn't work fully. There's still tears in her eyes.

How is anyone still breathing?

She wishes she knew the answer to that question, but instead, she just tried to find… words. "I'm— I'm so— so sorry."

It's before she's even finished those words that Cardinal's hand has come up to halt her, palm facing her. Another drag on the cigarette in silence, smoke curling from his nostrils as he looks down to the cancer-stick in his hand.

It's been a long time since he smoked regularly, but it's like riding a bike, it seems.

"Don't," he says quietly, "Don't… apologize. Nothing that happened was your fault, Adel. And you— you lost as much as I did."

When he tells her not to apologize, Adel's dark eyes, so much like a mix of her birth parents, look up at him, full of tears. "So— you don't think I should have tried to kill my… my father?" She almost can't finish the words, but she does. At least she's not gasping for air anymore. She doesn't have the knife anymore, lost it when she stabbed the bad shadow, but she could have tried to get close enough. She's not sure even her power could have protected her from whatever it was her father had been doing.

But she might not have lost her power. Elisabeth might not have flown up to try and stop him…

Richard shakes his head slowly from side to side, looking off into the trees for a moment… and then back to her. "No," he says in quiet tones, "I don't. I… do you know when he went wrong, when he turned into that monster that was responsible for all this?"

Softer, "When I went wrong…"

A deep breath's drawn in, exhaled, and he looks back out into the trees. "It was because he was convinced that he had to kill Elisabeth so that everything would turn out well for the world. No, Adel. Nobody should ever have to kill someone they love. I've seen where that leads. So have you."

"Oh," Adel responds quietly, even as her breath starts to come back to her. At least one person doesn't blame her, even if everything in the whole world still feels wrong— unsafe. Like there's huge pieces just missing. But this man, this former shadow, understands. "I didn't like you at first when Lene introduced me to you. Cause I knew who you were supposed to be," she admits quietly, looking down.

At least she can almost talk normally, though she's hardly her normally boisterous self. She's quieter, softer, voice hoarse and tears still hanging on her eyelashes. "I was also kind of scared of you. But you're good… I know that now." He is.

"No, no, it was… it was before Jolene introduced us," Richard's head cocks to one side, remembering their first meeting thoughtfully, "I was with Elle. We'd… stopped by to drop off Howard's jacket, remember?"

A snort of breath, then, and he looks down at the cigarette again for a long moment. "I don't blame you. The… the other me was a sonuvabitch. You know what— you know what the real bitch of it is, Adel? The worst goddamn part?"

"Oh, right." It seemed like so long ago. Adel shakes her head. She just knows she didn't like him and he scared her. It's so hard to keep track of when she met people she already knew, since— well— she already knew them. Knew that Lene worked for him long before he showed up at her apartment with Howard. The ruse had been necessary, or really had it been? She didn't even know anymore…

"What? Cause there's a lot of pretty bad parts I'm not sure which one's the worst."

The cigarette's lifted up, but hesitates before it gets to his lips. They twist into a scowl at himself, and Cardinal drops it to the earth, grinding it out under a heel. Dirty habit anyway.

"The Mallett Device," he says in tired tones, "It didn't work. Not like he thought it would, anyway. He could've sent a thousand messages through it and it wouldn't've changed anything."

"Our future still existed for you to visit, even though my moms aren't together here," Adel responds quietly, looking up at the stars. The cold might be starting to bother her, but it's also numbing the pain. "And with all the other little changes that have happened, too. And the big ones." He'd said so.

And the message not sent back, and nothing changed. "But the present did change. Just not because of that message…" She doesn't understand. "Maybe fox face understands, but I sure don't."

"There was something that Edward used to say…" Cardinal slides down the tree slowly until he's sitting on the ground, knees drawn up and arms folded over them, "…time is not a line. You can't just go back, make a change, and everything is different. You— "

He grimaces, brow furrowing, "I didn't understand until I saw what we all saw. That was— that was another future. The Flood. I stopped that one, but it was still there. Just like yours. Think of time like a — like a river."

He looks over at her, frustrated at his difficulty in verbalizing what he'd finally understood in the depths of the Institute, "One with many, many branches. Where we are in the river, it's going one way. You can send someone back to take another branch, or to leave a sign saying to go another way, but the rest of us? We're still ahead because we already took a branch, and we've got to live with it."

"I— guess that's fortunate. Means I didn't erase my moms in the future," Adel says with a weak smile, though she almost has to force it, really. She might have been a little worried about it. "Most of them didn't want me to go, but Sable— she wanted me to go if I wanted to, and said if I did that she wanted me to alter the destiny of the band— but now we…"

Now they've lost dad. Their bassist.

She doesn't finish. He was more than a bassist, of course, he was her dad. And even if he was kind of annoying at times and more of a child than she was— "I can't believe they're gone." Either of them. And she barely knew Elisabeth in this time. "I knew Elisabeth pretty well in the future…"

"Yeah. Somewhere out there, that timeline is still going on… you're just not going to catch up with it anymore. So they're fine…" Cardinal closes his eyes, a sigh spilling past his lips, "All this for nothing. How could I have ever been so… stupid?"

His eyes open again, then, at her words. Silent a moment before he asks quietly, "Was she— was she happy, at all? Even after what I did?"

"I guess we all do stupid things sometimes," Adel offers quietly, looking up at him with a sympathetic glance, though she doesn't think she can give him much comfort for what his future self had done. And he did a lot. Things that he'll probably never know, even.

"Josh was a handful," she admits with a grin, cause, well, it's true. "But Liz loved him, so in a way, she was happy for a while despite everything." The past tense shows that, yes, the Liz of the future did die and Adel remembers that as well.

She'll leave out how much of a handful their son was, but— from the way Cardinal mentioned him shooting him she imagines the man gathers that he's quite the loose cannon.

There's just the edge of a smile there at those words, although there's grief within that expression as well. "That's good… that's good," he says, a sigh whispering past Richard's lips as he leans back, "She always had a good support structure. It was— it was really easy to love her."

"Even for me. And fuck, that was a surprise, let me tell you."

Silent a long moment, he says softly, "I'm sorry you didn't have more time with your father."

"If I hadn't come back in time I wouldn't have had any. Not that I wouldn't have remembered, at least," Adel says with a small smile. "All I'd had originally was stories, a song, and a little stuffed cow that he'd given me for my first birthday named Bo bo." At the memory, she laughs a little. She doesn't have the cow, but she remembers the stories and the song.

Some of the stories were so outrageous she didn't believe them until she met him. Surely, surely he couldn't have flown a giant crab through Argentina. Surely he didn't ride on a plane to Japan. Surely he didn't get banned from that same country. SURELY. None of those things were real.

But then she met him.

And she believed them.

"The world feels a little more empty without them. Like there's a hole in it."

"Yeah. Yeah, it does…" Richard slides one hand over his other, absently fiddling with a twist of red and black leather around his wrist as if he's still not used to it. His voice quiet in the darkness of the evening, "I can't… I still can't believe it either."

After a moment, he admits, "I'm not— I wasn't really a fan of your father, honestly. The kid never could be serious, never could focus long enough to be effective most of the time, never understood the real consequences of shit he did. But he didn't deserve to die."

"And Liz… hell. I always thought she'd survive me by a long shot. I always…" He drops silent, just staring down at his knees, at his hands.

"He was still a kid," Adel responds quietly, musing on the fact that her dad was barely older than her and she felt older than him. She knew she was one of the youngest, both attitude wise and age wise of the group that came back in time, but she also felt older than her dad. Her moms had always dismissed any of her childish behavior as 'she's pulling a Varlane'. But now she knew she probably had never been that bad.

"He never really got the chance to grow up." She reaches up to rub at her eyes, trying to stop fresh tears from falling. "I should probably get inside before I freeze. I can hear one of my moms yelling at me from New York."

"Yeah," Cardinal agrees quietly with that observation, "He was still a kid."

He lifts his head, then, offering her a faint smile, "Yeah, probably. I… look, I've— lost my power before. I know it's not easy, so if you ever want to— talk about it, before we get home, well. I'm around." It's the less important of the losses the two of them suffered, but one that was literally crippling.

Her power.

Almost as soon as he mentions it, she remembers. Adel could go hours, days even, without using her power sometimes. And sometimes she would seem to use it every few minutes. As soon as he mentioned it again, it hit her like a ton of rocks, or like gravity, like inertia. Like physics.

Like the laws of physics she could no longer break at will.

With a deep inhale through her nose, she closes her eyes, then slowly exhales through her mouth. Don't panic. Don't panic. Don't panic.

"I… I'll be okay," she says out loud. If she keeps repeating it, maybe she'll believe it. She wants to ask if it will ever come back, but she's afraid to even ask that right now, afraid to have any hope, afraid to cling to any thread— so instead she just grasps her hands tighter and forces a smile back on her lips, before hurrying back into the warmth of the cabin.

"You will be." It might be too quiet even for her to hear as she retreats, and Richard's head falls back to thump against the bark of the tree behind him, his eyes closing to plunge the world into the only darkness he was really comfortable with anymore. "You will be."

He's not so sure about himself, though.

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