A Mile In Someone Else's Shoes


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Scene Title A Mile In Someone Else's Shoes
Synopsis Elisabeth seeks some answers that are personal. And finds out some things she wasn't expecting.
Date December 11, 2011

The Hub Shoe Storage

She hasn’t called on the man’s abilities for any reason. She hasn’t needed to — the getting to know people Elisabeth is doing doesn’t require spying. That said… David Cardinal, for all his creepiness, exerts a serious pull on her curiosity. For … Reasons. And Liz finally bites the bullet and goes looking for the man himself, not for his powers but for his story.

Seeking him out is not as simple as she might have hoped, because she doesn’t want to draw attention to the fact that she’s looking for him so she doesn’t ask around. Instead, she searches. It takes her a couple of places she hasn’t yet been in the Hub. Which is good — there are now nooks and crannies she knows about that she didn’t expect. But when she finally locates him, she pauses for a long moment to study him. She can still see some parts of Richard in him, but that’s far less important than what she’s hoping to learn.

“Mr. Cardinal… Dave. Do you have some time? I’d… like to talk.”

Pale eyes that are a familiar shade of haunted look up from a communal collection of shoes spread out across five milk crates. The cranny David Cardinal was found in is a sobering part of the daily reality of the hub. The shoes here, free for anyone to take, primarily come from the deceased. Not in the way scavenging is done, but from those who die of injury or non-apocalyptic illness. There's hundreds of shoes here in different sizes, tucked away in a six foot by eight foot nook in a back corridor that leads to the common space.

Seated on a makeshift bench of wood planks, David is trying on a pair of scuffed old work boots. Humbled by the timing, he offers Elisabeth a wearly, “Hey, yeah.” Awkward. “What's up? You're— ” he motions to the shoes, “not interrupting anything. Promise.”

Moving to sit on one of the crates nearby, Elisabeth looks over the collection of shoes, both somber and perhaps even a little impressed. “This is a very pragmatic way to handle things,” she observes quietly. “God knows, it’s not something anyone thinks about until it slaps us, huh?” She’ll have to remember that this is here… her boots, the one part of her uniform that did survive, won’t last forever.

Turning her blue eyes to him, Liz’s expression holds zero judgement. We all do what we have to do to survive. “I wanted… to know more about you,” she admits quietly. “So far as I know, in my world… you’re dead. Died a long time ago. But in that world… your son is my friend. And I’d like to learn enough about you and his mother to be able to tell him things he’s always wanted to know. He was raised in an orphanage. Sounds like it was similar here.”

Oh.” David’s expression is a hollowed one at that statement. Being told you're dead — as Liz has come to learn — can be sobering. It takes a moment for David to come back around, tying his shoes and staring down at them. “You… you were friends with my boy.” There's a ghost of a smile there, haunted and regretful. “Well, I guess it's good to know he got on fine with me out of the picture over there.” Like he's talking about New Jersey.

Exhaling a sigh, David rests his forearms over his knees and doesn't show any sign of wanting to get up off the stacked-plank bench. “I guess… I mean, that's a lot to cover. What…” the weight of the conversation drags down at David. “Is he happy?”

“Fine is probably a relative term,” Elisabeth admits softly, giving him the space to assimilate. “I think he’s… found ways to be happy, yes. In our world, he was sent to live with nuns… tough life. He was a petty criminal — cars, shit like that.” She grins just a little, her expression amused. “I actually arrested him once. But… some things happened in our world that gave him a purpose outside of just petty crime. He was one of the people leading the teams that I was part of, trying to stop the Head Asshole who had the machine that sent me here.” There’s a long pause. “He became a man I respect a great deal. But I know there’s always been … curiosity. About what happened to his parents and how he wound up in an orphanage instead of with Edward. Some of that was explained — a little — by our world’s Edward. Not much, though.”

Tilting her head, Liz says softly, “I know you were a criminal too. I don’t care. I’d really like to know… how you met Richard’s mother. Whether you had other family out here. Things that any kid wants to know when they’re an orphan, you know?”

David’s expression shifts considerably at the explanation of events. Eyes narrow, uncertainty clouds his features. “Doesn't— sound all that different from here.” He's uncertain whether that's comforting or not. “Only difference seems t’be you, so far. Because as far as I can tell, maybe shit fell the same way here as there.”

Scrubbing his palms across his jeans, David slouches back against the concrete wall at his back. “I was a gambler, card counter. Used my trick to lay up casinos. Nothing big time, just to get by.” Brows furrowed, David looks down to his hands. “I guess it eventually caught up to me. I got black-bagged off the street one day, thrown in a fucking cage. No trial, no nothing. Spent the intervening years there until everybody started dying. Twenty-five years in the hole. Broke out to find this fucking nightmare.”

David presses his hands together, clasps his fingers and anxiously bounces one knee up and down. “I dunno what happened to Ricky— Richard’s mom. We were just kids. I… I didn't even know she was pregnant.” The jittery knee halts, and David stares off into the middle distance. “I wound up here by total fucking coincidence. I was in Michigan, this blonde chick comes out of a blind alley, gives me a fucking flower and tells me it's safe here and gives me a tourist map to New York with this place marked on it.”

Shoulders rising and falling, David laughs ruefully to himself. “Needle in a haystack I find my boy here, and Michelle’s college friend Ed.” There's a look up to Elisabeth at that. “What’re the fucking odds?

There’s a lot that needs unpacking in what David Cardinal says. Elisabeth is quiet for a while, sorting through. “Well… we know our timeline is pretty close to this one. I don’t think I’m the difference — I think that your son has a deep soft spot for kids. In my world, 36 teenagers committed suicide in a pact because they were afraid of what would happen to them when Registration was required for them” She swallows hard. “It was my case. But it tore open something in Richard, made him determined that no matter else was fucked up in the world, SOMEONE had to make it so that kids weren’t literally killing themselves because of what they were.”

She looks up at him. “It’s possible you’re still black-holed somewhere back home… Michigan at least gives us a place to look. But I’m afraid I can’t do shit about that one right now,” she says ruefully. As he comments that he didn’t know that Michelle was pregnant, Liz clasps her hands and sighs quietly. Listening intently, she has to pick and choose in what order to ask the multitude of questions she has for him.

“Her name was Michelle?” She offers him another small, sad smile. “He didn’t even know that much, you know.” But she went to college with Edward….? “She went to MIT? Jesus… she was a fucking genius?” That makes her laugh a little. “That will come as something of a shock to him.” Although… in some ways, not to Liz. Richard seems to have an innate understanding of concepts that make Elisabeth’s head spin uncomfortably. She makes a mental note to come back to the blonde with a flower — it’s important, but not as important to her personally as the information they’re talking about right now.

“How did you meet her?” she asks. “And… do I dare ask what on earth possessed her to have Edward look after him? Cuz… well… he’s not exactly parent material, is he?” At least not overtly. “Do you know why Edward here put him in the orphanage?” Maybe it would explain why Edward there did as well. “I mean, most people know that’s a really hard kind of upbringing, if they know anything at all about nuns in the 1980s.”

It's a lot to take in, everything Elisabeth explains. The suicide pact is a grim thing, and she sees shades of Richard’s reaction at the scrub of a hand over his mouth and the haunted look in his eyes. He nods, whether in acceptance of the fact that things are just terrible everywhere, or that some things can't be changed no matter how hard one tries.

“Michelle was a genius, yeah. Fucking whip-crack smart, never understood what she saw in me.” David reaches up to scrub a hand at the back of his neck. “I met her when I was working at my dad’s garage in Kansas. I was sixteen, and she was… yeah, two years older than me.” Staring into the middle distance, David slowly wrings his hands together.

“She’d just graduated High School, was taking a year of deferment before doing the college thing. It was like we were meant t’be together. Friends immediately, then— it just kept on going.” It takes a moment for David to continue, needing to breathe in and out slowly. “She went off to college the next fall, I figured that was that. But she came back in the summer, and it was like… like no time had passed at all. We did that dance for four years.”

A smile creeps across David’s face as he recounts those happier times. “Fourth year I quit my job and went out to Mass, that's when I met Ed. One of her research buddies. Ed was just this huge fucking nerd, but the nicest goddamn guy I ever met.” Hearing someone, anyone, describe Edward Ray as the nicest guy is strange.

“When Chelle finished school we moved back to Kansas together. She got a research grant for some science shit or another, way over my head. She… I know she left a good opportunity in Cambridge t’be with me.” He smiles, but it's a regret filled one. “There was a research institute that tried t’recruit her out of college, but she turned them down because she knew I wanted to be back home with my family. She wanted t’be with me more than anything…”

David takes a moment, swallows dryly, looks away from Liz and clears his throat audibly. “Ed came out t’work on Chelle’s project, she did her research with Ed and this other work friend of hers, somebody Ed knew. They used a facility at the University of Kansas, real Weird Science stuff. Lots of lights and gizmos. Ed tried t’explain it to me once, but I got all cross-eyed.”

“June of 82 came around. I was just back from a trip to Vegas, had ten large in my pocket. Dropped some of it on a ring, proposed to Chelle and we got a Justice of the Peace wedding. Ed was my best man.” David laughs, wringing his hands together as he does. “I got grabbed five days later. Sometime after I disappeared, the government seized their research, arrested Chelle. Ed ran, never stopped running. Probably was the same people that black-bagged me.” Blue eyes are haunted, filled with regrets. “Ed told me all of that after I found this place. I spent… twenty five years not knowing. Twenty five years without the girl I loved. Without ever being able t’tell her goodbye.”

Slowly exhaling a calming breath, David scrubs one hand over his eyes, pinching at the bridge of his nose afterward. “I didn't even know she was pregnant. Ed— says he helped her deliver. She got arrested not long after. He hid the baby in the system, anonymous drop off at a church.” David’s pale eyes are red around the edges, glassy with emotion. “I spent twenty five fucking years not knowing I had a son. Then— I find him and the world’s fucking— over.

David doesn't continue, he just buries his face in one hand after making an aggravated sound, and silently cries.

Elisabeth gives him the room he needs to talk, her silence and complete attention all she can really offer. That Richard's mother was doing research with Edward Ray is yet another small piece she has to file away in the back of her head for now… she's not even sure how to ask about those parts in the midst of the rest of the revelations. But she flinches visibly at the 25 years without the woman he loved, never knowing he had a son. Those two things bite deeply into her.

She can't let him… just keep dealing with that, so alone. It's not in her. Moving from her crate to the makeshift bench he's sitting on, Liz wraps her arm around his shoulders. “I'm so sorry,” she whispers to him. She doesn't offer more than that — there is nothing she can offer aside from whatever solace he might find in the hug.

She gives him as long as it takes, in no hurry to rush him through his grief. When he pulls away from her, whenever he decides it's enough, she gives him plenty of space — after all, she's a stranger to him. “Dave? Tell me a little about the blonde and the flower?” she asks. “That's… pretty damn amazing, that you got that lucky.” She smiles a self-deprecating little smile. “I don't know that I would have believed someone who came up to me like that, honestly. But then again, when it's the end of the world… hell, that just seems weird as shit.”

It took a while for him to respond. But the comforting shoulder is perhaps more than a dead world has ever offered him for consolation at the loss of his life and entry into this entropic purgatory. “She was, I dunno… twenty? Basically a kid. She came out of nowhere, wasn't scared, wasn't in a clean suit or… anything.” David looks down at the ground at he talks, scrubbing at his eyes with forefinger and thumb.

“She was the first living person I'd seen in weeks. First one who didn't have a gun or wasn't already dying.” Once more, David’s eyes go distant and he stares at the opposite wall. “She walks right up to me, without being afraid. She— knew my name. She handed me a flower and said, It was ok. They were waiting for you in New York.” David shakes his head slowly, eyes searching for answers that aren't there. “I asked her who she was, said she was a friend. Then… I asked her what she meant, who was waiting, and she said Your family.

David looks up to Elisabeth. “I about lost it right there. I took a minute to look down at the flower, and… when I looked up she was just gone. Like, she just slipped away out of my line of sight the moment I wasn't paying attention. I— I didn't look for her.” David breathes in deeply and then exhales a slow sigh. “It was the only piece of hope I had.”

Elisabeth nods slightly. That he didn’t necessarily ask questions, that he was probably shocked beyond the capacity to question his own good fortune, doesn’t exactly surprise her. Hell, it’s taken her a couple weeks to pull her brain out and make it start functioning again too. With her arm still around the man’s shoulders, she says quietly, “I don’t know who sent her or why…” She looks at him with genuine sympathy. “But I’m glad that you found your way.” If for no other reason than that no one deserves what’s out there. Still… a blonde with a flower niggles at her. The coincidences are too much to be really believed as coincidences. Tamara? Liz will almost certainly never know… but she wouldn’t put it past the blonde precog. Which begs many questions… yeah, goddamn it. Conspiracy brain again!

Leaning back against the wall, she remains sitting there with the man who, at least biologically, gave Richard his life. “Michelle sounds amazing,” she says with a small smile. “Did she have any other family in Kansas? Or were you both only children? Maybe if I ever get home, Richard can look up extended family. I think he might like to know if there is any.” She desperately wants to ask about Michelle’s research with Edward, but… it might be more important to the mission, but it’s far less important to her personally than what she’s asking about right now.

David shakes his head, slowly. “Chelle lived with her grandmother Bonnie, her folks died in an car crash back in 77. I only met Bonnie a couple of times, she was sweet though. My uh, my mother’s name is— was?” It takes a moment for that to hit David. “Uhh, fuck. Yeah that's— she's probably dead. Uh, Dana. My dad’s name… was Michael. He's probably be in Kansas somewhere if he's alive in your world. Same with mom. They had me when they were pretty young. Only child.”

Looking up to Liz, David’s expression shifts into a frown. “Telling you all this, feels… feels like a last will and testament. Like we aren't gonna make it out of this with Ed’s crazy ass plan.” He looks away, down to the ground. “What… what’d even happen to us there? To me and my Richard. If we’re both alive then… what would we even…” The thought hasn’t even crossed his mind.

Elisabeth briefly squeezes his shoulders one last time and says, “Nothing. It’s not the first time we’ve had cross-time doubles.” And if that doesn’t sound somewhat resigned and strange, nothing will. She huffs out a soft chuckle. “Welcome to the world of the weird. We’d just… find ways to get you new identities. And if you wanted help getting settled somewhere, we’d do that too. But other than that… nothing. It’d just be… a semi-familiar place where you don’t know all the current history.” She memorizes the information he is giving her about family, the names and locations. If nothing else, if she ever gets home, they might be able to dig up the paper records despite the digital footprint having been completely erased. Although something he said earlier does tweak her slightly. Picked up in June of 1982, but didn’t know about Richard?… he was born in June of ‘82.

Shaking her head a little, she looks at him. “It’s not a last will and testament. It’s just… information that Richard in my world never had. That’s all. What were your parents like? I’d have to say having a kid young was pretty much the norm in the 60s and 70s, right?” She smiles a little. “You said your dad owned a garage. You must have been pretty good with cars. Richard learned pretty young how to hotwire ‘em, but I don’t know if he learned to actually fix them.”

She’s curious about everything, it seems. “Did you know anything about Michelle’s parents and what they did? Were her parents real smart too? Richard’s always struck me as a bright guy, for all that the science stuff so does not interest him.” She doesn’t even blink as she lays that lie out — because if push comes to shove in this world, she’s going to be picking an erstwhile lover’s brain like it’s an apple tree in the autumn.

She really wants to know what David remembers about what Michelle and Edward and their mystery partner were working on at the University of Kansas. Despite David not understanding it, she never knows what small tidbits will strike a chord for her, either. But she waits a little longer until after he tells her a little more about Michelle.

Elisabeth’s matter-of-fact explanation of what they'd do if David made it back to her world is both comforting and unsettling all in one. On the one hand, she has a plan, on the other this is something that's happened before? Head in his hands, David draws in a slow and deep breath, then straightens and scrubs his palms on his knees.

“Um,” David falters in explanation, hands up to run at his face next. “My… dad was a mechanic, yeah. We were from Chicago originally. He lost his job there when a factory closed down, and we moved out west so we could be closer to his parents. I never knew my grandparents, really. They both passed away a couple years after we moved out to Kansas. My dad worked at a garage there, eventually took over the business when the owner retired.”

Distant eyes scan the floor, and David continues to dig deep for whatever he can remember. “Chelle never talked about her parents. I barely knew her grandma, so… I dunno if she got it from them or was just smart all on her own. She knew I didn't have a head for the science stuff, but she tried to give me the big picture and explain it to me like I was a kid.” David laughs, ruefully. “It ah, didn't always take.”

“All I know is she studied like, physics? You know, gravity and that kinda stuff. She was really involved in some new kind of research about the universe. Omni magazine kinda stuff.” David runs one hand through his hair, brows furrowed. “But I… I don't really remember much more. That was a lifetime ago.”

Elisabeth nods slowly. “Yeah… what we’re doing here? It’s not easily understood. I don’t really quite get it most of the time either,” she confides. “I mean…. I watched some Star Trek and things when I was a kid, cuz my dad enjoyed all that stuff. But when you start talking physics and gravity, it’s kinda mind-blowing.” She tilts her head. “Do you remember anything about their partner at the university? The one doing research with them? He’s probably not still alive here,” she sighs. “But … it could be worth looking him up if we ever get back home… if you can remember his name too.”

Elisabeth pauses and grins a little. “You know… it sounds like Michelle was a pretty interesting lady. I can’t blame you for falling for her. Do you mind… if I ask her last name? I’d really love to be able to give Richard that much about his mom if I ever see him again.”

“Le Roux,” David offers with a quick look up to Liz. “Her family was pretty French from what I gather, Bonnie — the couple of times I met her — had the thickest accent. Chelle didn’t at all.” David looks back down to his hands, one knee bouncing up and down in a nervous jitter. Though as he moves away from talking about Michelle, David rolls his tongue against the inside of his cheek, eyes narrowing as he tries to recall anything that could be helpful.

Frowning, David shakes his head. “I never met her other partner that worked with Ed. I know his name was Richard,” David’s eyes level up on Liz. “I… part of me’s always wondered what their relationship was like. I mean…” he looks away, brows furrowed. “She’s the one who named our kid — my son.” A hand comes up to his mouth, years of doubt circling him slowly. He swallows it down, closes his eyes and makes a discomforted face.

“Did… your Richard ever know anything about his family?” There’s a subtle look of uncertainty in David’s eyes. Fear, too, that he could be so easily forgotten or lost. “At least he knew our names,” he mumbles afterward, looking haunted.

Elisabeth’s sympathy is evident as she looks at him. “No,” she replies quietly. “He never knew anything. Not until he was older. Edward… would have been the only person who could give him information, and he didn’t.” A bitter smile quirks the corners of her lips. “He’s a motherfucker of the highest order.” She shrugs slightly. “His ability breeds arrogance — because he can see so many most-likely-to-happens, he forgets that he’s not God… just because something is most likely to happen doesn’t mean that the other things won’t. Just means that if circumstances have to align just right to get the less likely outcome, yeah?”

Blowing out a slow breath, the blonde considers Dave. “For what it’s worth,” she comments quietly, “I… don’t think you have to worry. I mean, I guess it’s not impossible, but… you sure share some similar enough looks.” She nudges him with her shoulder. “Besides… you said she kept coming back. From my point of view? Tends to mean that she had serious feelings. Even if other mistakes were made somewhere in there.” It’s maybe not the level of reassurance that any man wants about the possibility that it’s not even his kid, but it’s the most honest reassurance she can offer.

“I really wish we knew more about what Edward, this Richard guy, and Michelle were studying,” she admits. “Edward… doesn’t like to tell people things. It impacts his probabilities.” She grins at him. “I’ve occasionally wanted to kick that man in the shin, but…” She gestures around. “Then I look around and realize that whatever his motives… he’s probably doing the best he can, even if it’s only out of enlightened self-interest and saving his own kids. For good or bad… at least he’s willing to act. A great many people aren’t.”

There’s a conspiratorial look up at Liz when she indicates that Edward has been keeping things silent. He watches Liz for a while, whether he had any reaction to her more comforting words isn’t clear. Instead, there’s just another shadow of doubt cast on him. “Ed…” David makes a noise in the back of his throat. “Ed does what he has to do. The choices the guy has to make, I can’t even figure him out most of the time. He’s… a lot different than he was when we were young.”

Eyes flick up to Liz, then down to the floor. “Powers can change people, I guess. I never used t’be a fucking criminal until mine… happened. All that knowledge, I dunno. I can’t say I wouldn’t lose my fucking mind if I could see whatever it is Ed does. You know,” he looks back to Elisabeth, rubbing his palms together anxiously. “He waited for me to tell Richard that I was his dad? He never mentioned a word of it. Told me when I arrived, let me talk to him first.”

Grimacing, David touches his jaw. “Richard punched me square in the mouth,” comes with an appreciative laugh. “Can’t say I blamed him. But,” eyes searching the floor, David is left to wonder. “How would that have gone if Ed told him first? I dunno. I guess… we’ll never know.” For a moment, David is quiet, but eventually he reaches inside of his shirt and pulls out a necklace that holds a single gold band on a chain.

Looping it off of his neck, he rests it in his hand. “When… I left the prison they had me in, I got this back out of holding. The one fucking thing I had that mattered when they took me in.” Balling the chain up in his hand, David looks down at the floor. “My… son, doesn’t really care about the past here. He— doesn’t care much for me, about the people who raised him.” Then, looking back up to Elisabeth, David’s expression softens.

“D’you think your Richard would… is he sentimental?” Like his old man goes unsaid, but it’s in David’s eyes.

Elisabeth has to chuckle a little as David talks about getting punched in the mouth. It’s definitely a Richard thing to do. “If it makes you smile, I’ll tell you… in my world, I punched him in the mouth once too. It was… cathartic.” She grins at the man cheekily. But on a more serious note, she asks David thoughtfully, “Do you know if Edward’s ever had his power augmented? Like from another Evo? Or maybe using some drugs that were found along with the negation injections?” It would actually explain a lot of what she’s already seen of Edward Ray — occasionally he acts like his power is in overdrive. But if that’s the case, why would we even need to go after Gillian, she has to wonder. Which, of course, gives her a chill because… Edward has never exactly been predictable to her. It means having to rethink a few things if the man has.

“I understand making the hard choices,” she admits to David. “I’ve had to order civilians fired on during riots. Killing people who’d done nothing wrong besides unwillingly having been controlled by an Evo into doing things.” Elisabeth looks down. She reaches out slowly to touch the band on the chain in his hand, and when she looks up at him, she tells him quietly, “I don’t know about sentimental… but I do think it would mean a great deal to him to have something that was so important to his father. Ideally, you’ll give it to him yourself,” she tells him. “But if you’d like me to hold it just in case… I can do that.”

The haunted look in David’s eyes doesn’t go away when Liz explains what she was forced to do during the nebulously defined riots. He looks down for a moment, breathes in deeply, and just passes off the ring and chain to her. “You’ve got a reason to get to him. I… I’m a stranger there. As much as I’d like to get out of here, I know deep down inside my heart’s not in the same place as yours. My son’s here, and I’m not going to abandon him. If… it comes down to leaving him here, or going with you?” David shakes his head and lets the end of the chain slip from his fingers. “I’ll feel safer with it in your hands. Maybe… maybe someday it’ll find its way home.”
But David remembers Liz asked him something else, a different kind of question and one that he’d pushed aside for the sake of the ring. His wedding band, one he couldn’t bring himself to wear after emerging into a dead world. “I don’t even know if I’d recognize what that looks like when I see it. I don’t know. If he has he hasn’t ever told me, but… he only tells me what I need to know.”

Managing a weary smile, David eyes the ring one more time, then folds his hands in his lap. “For what it’s worth, I really hope you find a way for all of us to get out of here. But I’m — I’m a realistic man. Nothing ever goes just the way we want it to.”

Isn’t that the truth? Elisabeth sighs quietly, her eyes on the chain and wedding ring in her hand. She closes her fingers around it tightly, holding it for a long moment. And then she slips the chain over her head and tucks the wedding ring down her shirt. “I’ll make sure he gets it,” she says to the man in front of her. She leans sideways and puts her head on his shoulder for just a moment, offering softly, “And if there’s any way in this world for me to get everyone out of here… you can count on the fact that I will do it.” She sits up again and looks at him, a sadness in her expression.

“I’m sorry, David. For everything you’ve seen. For everything that happened to you. And most of all… for not being able to do a damn thing to make this world a better place.” Liz shakes her head slightly. A dead world and the walking dead within in… that’s really where they are. But she can’t just accept that. “I don’t know what he’s really got in his head. Even when I think I do, that man is 25 steps ahead of everyone else. But… I am hoping like mad that we can figure out something.” Her smile holds a rueful edge. “Your son often calls it optimism. I don’t know if I think of it like that — I think it’s just that I’m too fucking stubborn to give up.”

Slowly pushing himself up to his feet, David smiles wearily at the notion of Liz’s stubborn nature. “I think, in worlds like the ones we live in?” His haunted eyes look to the pile of shoes in their milk crates, many large, and many far too small.

“You have to be stubborn to survive.”

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