Scene Title Breakdown
Synopsis Driving a stolen car through Canada, Richard Cardinal suffers a breakdown, and he doesn't have a AAA membership to help with this one.
Date November 11, 2011

Somewhere in Canada

There’s one thing to be said for the Canadian wilderness; the scenery is beautiful. The snow-kissed trees rising from the rolling hills, the mountains in the distance majestic peaks splitting the sky. The sort of view that inspires artists and awakens poetry in men’s hearts. There hadn’t been any other cars on the road for hours.

Sitting behind the wheel of a stolen hatchback, Richard Cardinal didn’t really notice.

The car was mostly empty; there weren’t many supplies that he’d brought up north with him, and he was coming back with even fewer. A pistol under the seat. A small cooler with a few snacks he’d picked up at a gas station. He’d always preferred to travel light anyway.

A part of him did feel naked without the armor, left as shattered junk beneath the ruins of the Nazahat Complex and Moab. Without his power - felt as keenly as when he’d lost his hand - there wasn’t anything to keep a bullet from ending his life.

The radio was silent, the only sound the road roaring under tires as he kept his gaze fixed upon it. No voices to fill the car with forced cheer, like people had done on their way up. Peyton and Monica had stayed behind, talking about possibly staying out of the United States for awhile. Probably for the best.

And he didn’t know how to talk to Jaiden. What to say.

A blonde woman in service blues was standing in the doorway suddenly, gun in her hands. “NYPD, Miss Hollingwood. Step back from the suspect, please. We’ll take it from here.” Her partner stepped up beside her, starting the monotonous recitation of his Miranda Rights.

“Shit,” Cardinal hissed under his breath, then offered his most disarming smile, “Good evening, officers.”

There were so many people who loved her, who she loved. People who would have to be told. He’d never known how to talk to her lovers, either; their relationship was open, of course, and he never held it against her, but there were emotional bonds there he didn’t understand enough to be comfortable navigating. He was sure she assumed he had a bunch of women he was regularly sleeping with as well.

It was a reasonable assumption. He was surrounded by loyal woman, after all, and it made sense from her viewpoint. He hadn’t, though. It’d been a long time since he’d shared a bed with anyone but her, in truth; Harmony was only once, a fateful moment when stress and anxiety and worry demanded some celebration of life.

There was, really, just her.

She stood in front of him on a rooftop, the ruins of Midtown rising in the distance, looking up at him with understanding in her eyes. “Welcome to the revolution, Richard Cardinal,” she said softly, reaching up to snag his shirt and pull him down. His fingers slid up the side of her neck, curling behind it as his mouth found hers eagerly, hungrily. Never do anything halfway.

Fingertips drum idly over the wheel as the miles are eaten away, trying to keep his thoughts on what came next. Go home. Check the casualty list. Make sure everyone is okay. Give the news to everyone who needs to hear it.

Tell Jared.

They were sitting at a table having dinner, and she was chuckling. "I'm an adult. I don't have to explain that you're my lover, my best friend, the guy I trust to have my back. He's going to know that as soon as he sees us in the same room together — he's not stupid, Richard," she said drily. "Now… tell me what new and fun ways you've found to get into trouble lately while we eat."

For the first time in a very long time, he didn’t have a plan. He didn’t have a map of strings to untangle, didn’t have instructions from his father falling into his lap, didn’t have a crisis and a network of operatives to wrangle.

He kept thinking that he’d sit down with her, talk out the situation like he always did, and they’d come up with plans.

Then he’d remember.

They were on a satellite phone; she was in Moscow, the starting stages of Project Apollo.

"Good luck, Liz. I know you can handle this. If anyone can, you can." He paused for a long moment, "Love you. See you soon."

He hung up. It was the first time he’d said it, and his heart was racing.

He drew in a deep breath, then exhaled. In. Out. It wasn’t working. His heart was hammering in his chest and he couldn’t make it stop. His fingers tightened on the wheel, the apple of his throat rising and falling.

“C’mon,” he muttered under his breath, “get it together, Richard.”

Maybe he shouldn’t even worry about it at all. Maybe Aria, maybe the old women were right. Maybe he was done. Maybe he could rest, finally.

But how can it really be rest, without the woman he loves?

”I never planned on you, either. Still not sure how that happened, Red Queen.” He crooked a smile, the tip of his nose bumping hers, “But if you think for one moment that the idea of having a kid with you one day isn’t up in my head, Ms. Harrison, you’re crazy. I’ve gotta prove I’m not as big a fuck-up as Zeke, after all.”

She snorted, “You’ll never be as big a fuck-up as Zeke… so long as you don’t resurrect me. And don’t ever go back in time just to save me. And… love your kids. Wherever they come from.” And she kissed him, ever so softly.

There was an ungodly screech as the brakes were hit, the hatchback coming to a jarring halt there in the middle of the road. No other vehicles for miles in either direction, none at all within the range of sight. Just a car stopped in the middle of a very long stretch of pavement.

”She died on November Eighth,” he said quietly, staring down at his hands, “She always died on November Eighth.”


Hands white-knuckled on the wheel, Richard Cardinal’s head fell forward, resting his brow against the wheel, his shoulders shaking.

And he wept as he hadn’t since he was a child.

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