All the Time You Need


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Scene Title All the Time You Need
Synopsis Elle's mystery savior offers her a compromise.
Date Summer, 1987

A blue sky contrasts with steel gray water, white foam bubbling along the shore where waves lap against coarse sand, occasionally exposing treasures beneath the grit: broken pieces of bottle green glass made perfectly smooth and pale cream shells, lost copper-coloured coins and, once and awhile, something dredged from water so deep that it's brought to the Hartsdale's maritime museum and put on display along with the other shipwreck relics that tourists will pay a mere $2.75 at the door to see.

The air is warm but the breeze is cool, and at the top of the sand dune, Elle Bishop has a postcard perfect view of the Atlantic stretching into infinity. At her side, the stranger who saved her from Samson Gray stands silent, the gentle wind a dull roar in his ears and ruffling through red hair shorn short. He hasn't spoken a word since bringing here, but he does now, his tone terse but tender with quiet apology.

"I wasn't expecting her t' leave you like that."

Hartsdale, New York

Summer, 1987

After a few moments, Elle sat down atop the dune, hugging her legs to her chest as she stares out at the ocean in silence. She's been processing all that's happened thus far. Meeting the shadow man with telekinesis, the one who didn't seem to happy that she knows his son. Odessa, leaving her to the wolves. And then there's the matter of this stranger, who says that he comes from a time where she has a son.

The stranger's remark prompts a sudden reanimation of the woman's features, and she lets out a small, ironic laugh. "I can't say I'm surprised." This is followed by a bitter look on the woman's face, and she offers a slow shake of her head. "Knowing her, she's carrying a grudge over me leaving the Institute or something." She shrugs.

Then, blue eyes turn up to the boy. "…I have a son, where you come from?"

"Yes," and he seems hesitant to say more than that. "I can't go into specifics. Knowing too much, it's—" There's a pause, and the man — not a boy — glances down at Elle in the sand, ginger brows lowered over blue eyes the colour of the sky above their heads and the gulls circling lazily, smoky spots against fluffy white.

"Bad," is the word he settles on, spoken with grim finality. "I shouldnt've even told you that, t' tell you the truth. Goes against the rules."

Elle peers up at the boy, frowning. "At least— at least tell me one thing. Who is his father? Is it someone I've met yet, in 2010?" She frowns over the beach. "Tell me what you can. I mean, how did I even have a child? I— I thought I couldn't." She hugs her knees, peering up at him quietly, before turning back to the beach, a frown on her face.

"I tell you who the father is, maybe you cock it all up, maybe you don't, but yeah. Sure. He's someone you know." The stranger joins Elle on the ground, long legs folding easily beneath him. As a child himself, he was probably quite gangly, but adulthood has given him ample time to grow into his lean frame, skinniness replaced by toned muscles and feline athleticism. "You can't save your mother, Elle, but one day you can be somebody else's. Maybe not the milk and cookie type. Little gingham apron in blue and squeaky yellow gloves for washing dishes — that won't happen.

"Don't mean you can't see Eleanor, though. S'why I brought you here. Compromise."

As one scene plays out on the beach, reserved and somber, a second one sees its own actors playing out their parts, energetic, seemingly happier, and unnoteworthy. A little blonde girl, perhaps only five or six years old, and an older blonde woman playing together in the waves that lap gently at the shore. Why not? The day is pleasant and the surf calm. The perfect day to ignore the world around them and enjoy their own reality for a time.

The girl in a brightly colored swimsuit of blue with an orange streak, small beach shovel in hand and bucket lying on its side next to her, digs and shapes sand into a small fortification while the woman, dressed in a calmer, monocolored blue two-piece kneels nearby and offers her help and guidance in the construction. Presumably, at the very least. Out of earshot as they are, it's difficult to tell exactly what is playing out, but this is surely the most likely answer.

Elle frowns up at the stranger. "Well— that's interesting, I suppose. I'd ask for more, but you probably won't tell me." She tilts her head toward the man, frowning. "I wonder if it's Warren. Please tell me his dad isn't Richard Cardinal." She says this thoughtfully, frowning. Far too unsure of what's going on with him— what she's going to do about him.

As he tells her the bad news, she grimaces, her eyes glistening a little. "Why can't I save her? Without her— without her, my life is shit. My dad and I don't talk any more…I betrayed him, and I'll probably never see him again. He'll probably never be there to be a grandfather. Can't— can't I at least stop my dad from erasing my memory of her?"

Then, she turns to see the scene playing out before her, her eyes suddenly widening, as the tears begin to flow for real now. "That's— that's her…" She suddenly moves to stand, her eyes on the woman.

"Take all the time you need," says the stranger, "I'll still be here when you've finished."

'All the time she needs' may still not be enough time for Elle. Or maybe it will be just enough time, just long enough to get back a little something that was lost. The girl, the one that will eventually grow to become the Elle Bishop that the world knows, continues her experiment in castle construction, trying to get the battlements atop her one tower just right while her mother attempts to show her how to do it, seeming to laugh just a little bit when her advice is ignored and little Elle tries to do it her way regardless. Building sand castles through trial and error, rather than the advice of those that came before. Everybody has to start becoming who they are somewhere. What place could be better than this?

Elle turns to look at the stranger, frowning for a moment. "Can— can I talk to her?" She's got tears streaming down her cheeks as she takes one, two steps toward that scene playing out before her. "I won't— I won't give anything away, I promise, I just— I want to hear her voice. I want to talk to her…" Tear-soaked blue eyes turn back toward the scene, her feet carrying her toward it without her actually willing them to. That's her mom. What kind of person was she? Sure, she knows what her dad told her, but she doesn't know first hand.

The stranger does not protest or pursue. As promised, he simply waits.

When Elle approaches herself and her mother, she receives a silent nod of acknowledgement from Eleanor when she takes a brief look around, turning back just in time for little Elle to knock down a part of her sand tower that she wasn't happy with, then knocking over the rest of it immediately after. The bucket is turned clumsily upright and the shovel, tiny and red, is used to lift sand up and into it to start building the castle anew.

Little Elle is happy and smiling. Eleanor is happy and smiling. Maybe the stranger behind the grown-up Elle is happy, even if he's not smiling. And Elle, grown-up and reliving a memory she never knew she had, is without question happy. The tears in her eyes should be proof enough of that.

Elle slowly approaches the two, watching the scene with tears flowing down her cheeks in bountiful supply. As she nears, she smiles down at her younger self, despite the tears in her eyes. Why couldn't be like this all of her life? Why couldn't she stay the happy little girl that's demolishing a sandcastle on the beach near their summer home? Why did they have to take this angelic woman away from her?

After a moment, she manages to find her voice. "Your— your daughter is beautiful." A simple phrase. "You must be a wonderful mother. She looks so happy." It might seem strange, a crying stranger walking up to a woman just to tell her that she must be a wonderful mother. It's the best Elle can come up with.

"Thank you," is the response that Eleanor decides is appropriate, although she had plenty of time to decide that while Elle was still speaking. "I try my best for her, I do." After a moment, little Elle takes note of her future self, offering up a half-goofy smile and a simple, "Hi," before she's back to work at her constructions. Eleanor, however, has the foresight to follow-up just a bit more. "Are you okay?" she asks.

Elle nearly bursts into sobbing when that happy little girl greets her, but instead, she smiles down at her with glistening eyes. Then, she turns toward Eleanor, still smiling. "Yes, I'm okay. It makes me really happy to see such a happy family." Her voice quivers.

"You— you make sure you love her with everything you have, okay? Make sure she'll never forget you." She wishes that this would magically make her loss of her mother's memory go away, but it probably won't. She's trying hard to keep her composure, keep herself from bursting into tears right here. She's so happy to see this— but it's so painful, at the same time.

Briefly, she turns a tortured look back toward the stranger. Why can't I save her? Then, she looks back to Eleanor, taking a few breaths. Then, she looks to her future self, suddenly crouching down to her child self with a small smile. "You make sure to tell your daddy tonight to never let you forget your mommy, okay? Pancakes and playing in the sand are very important things to a little girl." She watches the girl play, smiling sadly.

It is a very strange thing to say to someone you don't know, which would of course explain the perplexed expression that Eleanor wears on her face. But at least it's only strange and not crazy. Little Elle, unsurprisingly, takes the whole thing a lot better than her mother does, replying to her future self with a simple, "'kay," before she goes back to her castle building.

But she doesn't go right back to her castle building, goodness no. Rather, she follows-up by turning to her mother and asking innocently, "Can I have pancakes?" Childhood innocence is often enough to defuse potentially awkward situations. What else can Eleanor do except smile and reply, "You can have pancakes, but not until you finish your castle." And how else can little Elle reply but, "'kay," before she returns to her castle building for real.

Elle smiles at little her. "Do you like them with strawberries on top?" She always did love the strawberries. "You'd better get to work on your sandcastle. Don't forget to tell your daddy how important your mommy is, okay?" She sniffs once, and raises to her feet, smiling sheepishly to her mother. "S-sorry. I—" She pauses, and fidgets. She wishes she could say more.

"I know I sound strange, saying these things…but it's important." She offers a slightly sad smile to the woman. "Someone made me forget my mom. Seeing you two…it kind of reminded me that forgetting is the worst thing that can ever happen." She raises a hand, wiping the tears from her cheeks.

"'kay," is apparently a common reply from little Elle, which is unfortunate because it's not quite clear just what she's acknowledging: Telling her father how important her mother is, or building her sand castle.

Strange or not, Eleanor is taking the encounter in stride, even showing some concern when the apparent truth is revealed. "I'm so sorry to hear that," is all she can think of. This is a simpler time that Elle Bishop is in: Making people forget their mothers still has several years to go before it's in vogue.

Elle cants her head to one side, glancing at her younger self, before turning a faint smile to Eleanor, wiping the remaining tears away from her eyes. She has no clue what she's accomplishing here. "Well…I'll let you go back to playing with her. I'm sorry for interrupting You two have a wonderful evening, and hold on to that happiness as long as you can." Tears spring forth again, and Elle slowly begins to back away, smiling to the best of her ability. Her mask isn't doing so good in this situation, however.

"It was nice meeting you," Eleanor replies, with a wave before gently emploring of her daughter, "Sweetie, wave bye bye." It's a request that little Elle is all to happy to oblige. "Bye bye," she says, giving her future self a wave of her own before she is, again, working on her castle so that she may have pancakes. A strange encounter for strange times.

A strange encounter with a forgotten memory lasting only a minute, but perhaps lasting just long enough. Short but bittersweet, and something that Elle will have to remember her mother by, if only as a brief glance through time. Family is a complicated thing. Time travel is a complicated thing. But the decision between actions when the two are combined? Simple. Deciding to have something to remember her forgotten mother by is easy and necessary. Going back home, slipping into the time stream again with a stranger, to where Eleanor is only a brief memory? Not-so-easy.

But oh so necessary.

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