Catch You When You Fall


elisabeth_icon.gif jaiden_icon.gif

Scene Title Catch You When You Fall
Synopsis No one ever believes her when she says "Polyamorous! Really!" But he does.
Date Jun 7, 2011

Skinny Brickfront, Endgame Safehouse

It's nearing curfew when she gets back. Elisabeth's arrival is not heralded by crazy announcements or fanfare (although Remi is likely to get a serious mind-ful of major anxiety). She almost didn't come back here tonight. The person she'd usually talk to is Felix. But he's not here. Norton won't laugh and say I told you so but….. oh God. Worse and worse! Her brain is spinning in a hundred directions and her feet take her directly to Jaiden's room where she bangs on the door and doesn't even wait. Which is rude and she never does it, but the subtle waves of bass off her will likely give him all that he needs. And before he can even get up to greet her, she shuts the door behind her and demands, "What the fuck is it about me?" She's clearly far beyond overwrought. This is the kind of overwrought that breaks glass. "I'm swearing off men altogether because all of you are fucking insane except my mostly gay lovers. I'll keep them only because it's goddamn stress relief and they don't fall in love! Not with me anyway!" The silence bubble, instinctive as breathing, keeps her words from carrying beyond the two of them.

The day had been spent with Ygraine working out a secondary fall back position to their first in the bowels of the city - a disused storage area that was fenced off and locked with heavy padlocks that were easily bypassed using a gravity manipulator's fine touch. After a little scouting, it was deemed 'okay' to start building up, so the rest of the day - well, the remaining few hours, were spent getting a few things together into nice, secure parcels. It's one of those parcels that Jaiden is working on presently - a plastic tupperware container about a foot square, lined with a plastic liner. Inside, cash and guns - something you want to keep dry and safe, along with a few other documents that might be useful for forging and a cell phone with a battery alongside to keep fully charged until plugged in. Here's hoping they'll not need this.

The first heralding of Elisabeth's arrival is not the footsteps on the stairs, but the glass of water next to Jaiden's knee, rippling as if being shaken by an earthquake. His powers keep it from spilling over, but as he stands and makes his way to the door, he's nearly bowled over by Elisabeth, blinking up owlishly from his spot on the floor. "Okay, Lizzie…." Jaiden stands. "Maybe we can back up a few dozen steps and get to the bottom of what's going on. Why are you swearing off men?" Him included? Yeek.

She steps around him and paces the small room, ignoring the parcels. "This is all. Richard's. fault," Elisabeth proclaims irrationally. "If he hadn't gone fucking waltzing off into the fucking time stream, then he could have been dealing with all of this. Phillip!" she spits out. "He brought in reel-to-reel tapes today. Of us as kids. Apparently we were a seriously hot and heavy item at one time and he slept with someone else — who is now his very married personal assistant who went to high school with us and SAW me today! — and I finally caught the clue that he's holding on to a fucking 20-year-old emotion that I can't feel because I don't remember him! And I told him from the start I wasn't looking for serious anything but as soon as I realized what was going on today, I flat out told him I was in love with Richard. And he got this fucking look on his face. Like I'd just gutted him. And said something about 'Wow, what a revenge.' Like I planned out how to get back at him or something! And now…."

She throws her hands in the air, and the glass next to Jaiden cracks under the onslaught. "And now, I feel all… horrible! I didn't lie to him. I didn't lie to you. But oh my God all of you keep falling in love and shit, and I swear to God I'm starting to wonder if somehow I've got some subconscious siren manipulation fucking with all of you! This is ridiculous!"

Agitation much?'

The door is closed, but surely there is a rumble of vibration, now and again, from the woman that makes it out of the bubble of silence that encompasses the room to about a foot past each of the walls. Sadly, this makes the stuff in the room, glasses, laptop computer and the like, vulnerable to Elisabeth's power while leaving stuff outside of the room fairly safe, aside from the odd vibration transmitted by the floor joists or rafters. The splintering sound of glass cracking has Jaiden's attention flashing to it for a moment, the water in the glass retaining it's shape even as a shard of glass clinks to the tabletop.

Jaiden moves slightly to lean against the door, acting as a fairly good barricade to prevent anyone from coming in, nodding from time to time, green eyes following her as she moves around the room. He listens as she tells about Phillip, about his reel-to-reel tapes, about his past and the emotions he was hanging on to and the frustration that she's feeling. And it's only when she finishes that he considers what she said, glancing down to the screen saver on his computer - well, the desktop on his computer since the mouse was moved with the rumbling. Then, with his usual calm delivery, Jaiden speaks.

"It's not Richard's fault." A simple statement that he lets linger for a moment before continuing. "You know as well as anyone that Richard didn't choose to leave. He was taken, abducted, or just plain shanghaied into going wherever." Whether or not he's able to even get back - that's the question that will not be easily answered. "Phillip….." Jaiden shakes his head. "He shouldn't have put that burden on your shoulders. It's not like you're not carrying enough already - even with our help - but to put his feelings on you, just like that…." Another shake of his head. "Bloke may love you, but he doesn't know the first thing about a woman's heart. That's not something you do to someone. After so long, to just blindside them? You wonder why it took me so bloody long to say that I loved you? Yeah, I know it's a loaded term now, but I want to be sure that I feel what I feel. I don't just say that, I don't just put that out there, and to hell with him for doing that to you." Jaiden grumbles. "If you told him, it's his bloody fault that he still carried a torch for someone that he could never have. If he didn't accept it for face value, he's a bloody fool. You don't lie. You're not the person he fell in love with so many years ago. School romances almost never last past graduation. You move on, you go on with your life. You find other friends and other social circles - your high school mates you almost never hear from anymore…."

He's not referring to the swearing off of men just yet….

She's so not in the mood to be reasoned with. Or stuck up for either! Maybe he can't win in this. Elisabeth scowls at him. "And what the hell does loving someone like me get you?" she responds. "Nothing! It's the death knell of every relationship I ever had." With one exception. But then again, that one is not your typical. "Guys say it, but then they figure out that I actually mean what I say when I tell them I'm not monogamous and it entirely freaks them out. That or the fact that I carry a fucking gun everywhere and can kick their asses freaks them out. I blurted out that he wasn't fucking shanghai-ing me off to Australia — and he was even sort of offering to take the whole group — because my son is here. And you know what? I think I said it just to push him away. What kind of person does that make me? I push away everyone who wants to be close because they all expect too much out of me!"

"Lizzie…." Jaiden cracks a small grin, wiping it away after a moment. "Those are a few of the reasons why I love you." Probably not the best thing in the world to say without a little more clarification at this point in time, and it's probably not helping, so he concentrates more on what kind of a person she is. "Look….take a step back, if you can. Look at it from outside. It's difficult - one of the harder things to do for a person, to set self aside, but try it for me." He steps closer, reaching out to rest a hand on her shoulder, feeling the tell-tale low-frequency 'annoyed Lizzie' vibrations that he has come to call them before giving it a squeeze. "You're a woman - a gorgeous one. You can fight and fuck and hold your own with the best of them. You're passionate about the things you believe in and do everything to the utmost. You don't quit when the chips are down, and you're just as comfortable with blokes as you are with shielas. You go and work your ass off one moment and the next can pull of a look in an evening gown that would make a model worry about her next gig. You can be both cultured and crass, infuriating at times, but your heart and your morals and your lust for life…it's something that can't help but attract people." He lets his hand slip from her shoulder, down her arm, past her hand before it hangs loosely at his side.

"What does loving someone like you get me? Unconditional love. Love without limits or boundaries on that love. Nothing I can do or you can do would cause it to go away. Almost like siblings…or parent and child…" Except with a more physical aspect from time to time. "You don't try to control the actions of anyone, nor do I tell you that I will not love you if you act a certain way or do a certain thing. I don't want to control you. If anything happens, I want to be your partner. And if it doesn't?" He shrugs. "You'll still be one of my closest friends."

"You are insane," Elisabeth retorts. And his response makes her tear up, blue eyes averting from him as she wraps her arms around her waist. "I swore after Gabe that I wouldn't hurt people again. And I tried, Jaiden. I tried to make sure he understood that whatever it was he was doing…. he needed to do it for the right reasons. Not just for me. But because it was the right thing to do. I …. " She grimaces and looks down. "He thinks I fucked around with him to manipulate him," she tells him. "He thinks it was revenge for something that I don't even remember that he did. And as awful as this sounds, I can't even try to straighten it out because….. all it'll do is confirm for him that I'm using him for his contacts or something."

One hand reaches up to rub her forehead in that characteristic gesture. Elisabeth says softly, "I didn't know that he wasn't listening. Why wasn't he listening to me when I said I didn't want a serious relationship?!"

Jaiden would never argue that point. The fact that he, a carrier of the Evolved gene, is standing up against the government of one of the most powerful nations in the world, with a department specifically designed to manage Evolved affairs that is run by a group that hates all Evolved humans - one would think it an exercise of tilting at windmills at the very least. Add in the fact that he's standing with a group that is now listed as a terrorist group and also gave up everything he had worked for over the years…for a small apartment on the run from the same government? Yeah, not much sane about that.

"Sometimes it can't be helped. It's not your fault that you hurt him, Lizzie. He had expectations that you couldn't meet. You were on a pedestal and he was in love with the image. With the memory. With the woman you were. Not the woman you are."

The tremor that is accompanying her only intensifies when he continues to defend her. Elisabeth looks at him. "I've known him barely a month, Jaiden. The only memories I have of him are from high school, though I have other, later memories of his parents. They were nice people. Both killed in the Bomb," she murmurs. "But I don't know him. What I have gotten to know, I like. A lot. And I feel like I somehow… did the wrong thing. Again." She bites her lip. "I'm so tired of feeling like every choice I make is going to hurt people. I just wanted…. to be able to spend time with someone who was supposed to be an old friend. Where I could pretend, just for a little while when we were having dinner or something, that things were … normal." She closes her eyes and admits softly, "Maybe I was using him. But not for revenge."

She wants a normal life. It's all anyone wants, really, and Jaiden can't place any blame for her wanting that. He wanted it too, ever since his arrival. To be on the opposite side. To be safe and normal and insignificant as far as the world went - even more so than usual. His arms around Elisabeth's waist squeeze her against him gently, one hand grasping the opposite wrist in a kind of handshake, holding her close, offering wordless reassurance. "I think he's giving you too much credit. After all, in his eyes you are still the girl he loved in high school, and first loves…or even second…are pretty unforgettable in the grand scheme of things. So he places the knowledge he had of you on the you that no longer exists. It's sweet, but it's foolish on his part, considering you told him about the amnesia."

"I told him about Joshua," Elisabeth says softly, dropping her head back against his shoulder. Allowing him to cradle her and offer comfort finally. "He was talking again about … taking me off to Australia, and I told him if up and went missing there were like a half a dozen of you who'd be looking for his head on a pike. Unless of course he was talking about taking everyone in my group. He .. actually looked like he might consider it. And then I blurted out that I wasn't leaving this city. That my son is here." She blows out a soft breath. "And for a moment after he asked me to explain that information… he hoped he was Joshua's father. He demanded to know if I knew who his father was. And when I said I did and it wasn't him, he …. wanted to know if the future was set. If there was any chance…."

Elisabeth trails off and turns her head, almost hiding beneath his chin. "That. Was when I figured out he was far more involved than I was. I really didn't know before that." At this moment, she's not sure she isn't simply trying to justify. She's repeating herself and can't seem to help it.

"That had to have been a shock…" Jaiden murmurs softly. "It's something that a lot of guys do. Plan ahead, ask questions, imagine the future. Sometimes those plans get far, far too complex and come crashing down under their own expectations." His chin rests on top of her head, his arms tight around her. "You didn't hurt him intentionally, Lizzie. It's not your fault."

"You keep saying that," Elisabeth flares at him, struggling just a bit in the embrace now. "You keep exonerating me for shit that causes problems!" She stops struggling with him when his arms tighten around her, but only because if it turns physical people will get involved. "It's one thing to have a relationship when you're on the same footing. It's another altogether to keep fucking a man who loves you when you don't feel the same." Her tone is forcibly neutral. Which is why she's cutting them off.

She doesn't have to struggle too terribly much - if she wants to get away, he lets her get away without a problem. And if she doesn't back away, he does, putting his hands in the back pockets of his jeans, leaning against the door of his little room again. "I'm not going to say you're a bad person, or a bitch, or a temptress or a harlot. I'm not going to sting you with words, slap you with hands, or shun you for what has happened. Think, Lizzie. Think." His green eyes flare as he fixes her in his gaze. "You deserve to be happy." Jaiden straightens. "Phillip's not thinking of the women he's had. He's only thinking of the one who got away. The one that he can't forget." Jaiden sighs and rubs his eyes. "The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open, Lizzie. You're my friend. I love you as a friend. I'd like to love you as more, but you're not ready for that. I don't know if you ever will be. It's not my place to force you into any kind of decision. It's my job to be there for you, my friend, when you need me. To pick you up if you fall, and to feel happy for you when you find happiness." He pauses. "Even if it's not with me."

The one that he can't forget. Elisabeth grimaces and the tension running through her is evidenced in the fact that the already damaged wallboard that holds the door is cracking and trembling still. But she leans into his chest and buries her face in her hands and his chest. "It's so easy," she whispers, "just to think of him as … gone for a while. Like when all of us were running around dealing with the Time War shit." And it's how she's keeping it together — not thinking of Richard Cardinal as gone for always. Just thinking of him as 'on a mission' or categorizing his absence as temporary in her head. "I didn't use him, Jaiden, I swear it. Not… to get something. I just wanted to spend the time with him. To … see my life the way he saw it, someone who knew me as a kid in those years I can't remember. I wanted to get to know him, and I … realized in doing that, in trying to learn if he could be trusted… I was learning about me too."

It's never been outright said that Richard is Gone, but it's becoming a possibility. A distinct one. He remembers sending a letter through time - sure, that took a little doing, but he did get it to someone he wanted to talk to and he's not half as resourceful as Richard Cardinal was. And it's certainly something Elisabeth has thought of, now and again, but has pushed aside as being something that she couldn't face. Jaiden has accepted that and hopes that, with time, she will learn to accept the fact that he might be gone too.

"You'd need to tell Phillip that, Lizzie. Be the honest woman I know you are. He's a glimpse into your past - into years that you never thought you'd see again. The photos I brought back, the mementos of you from the past, those are little morsels of knowledge. Faces and people you never thought you'd know again, or even remember that you do know, but now, with Phillip….you have a small voice that was there with you." Jaiden's arms close around her, pulling her tight against him, a kiss brushing against that purple streak in her long blonde hair. There are a couple of issues - her guilt about Phillip and her hurt of Cardinal being lost. "And as for Richard? We'll face that when you're ready, and not a moment before."

"I sincerely doubt he's ever going to speak to me again," Elisabeth admits. And why that should give her stomach a pang she has no idea. She can't talk about Richard. Not easily. But she turns her head to rest it on Jaiden's chest, listening to his heartbeat and letting the steady rhythm calm her. "I'm sorry," she whispers. "Because I can't help it, I feel like this is just using you too." It's not like she hasn't had multiple men she's been seeing before, but never in her entire memory has she ever been emotionally involved with any of them except on a friendship level. Weeks might pass between seeing them. And her lifestyle brings some complications to this situation that she never really foresaw. Dummy that she is. She sighs heavily.

Whether or not Phillip will speak to Elisabeth again isn't a matter of debate at this time. He will or he won't, and debating the point without actually going to the source is nothing more than a futile thought experiment that takes up too many valuable cycles that could be used for other things. At her murmured apology, he only shakes his head in the negative, as if to say 'pay it no mind.' She's not using him in the least. It's a rare few that Jaiden would give up life and liberty for, and one of those is currently standing in his arms in the crumbling remains of a safehouse in New York somewhere. She's not using him. He's not using her. They are friends and they are supporting each other in a time of great sorrow and need.

"Don't beat yourself up, Lizzie. And use me for support when you need me. It's what I'm here for. It's what we're all here for." And then, as an underlining statement he leans down to whisper in her ear. "You will never be alone."

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