Christmas Lights


elisabeth2_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Christmas Lights
Synopsis Colored lights make or break the holiday.
Date December 9, 2019

RayTech, Richard and Elisabeth's Apartment

There are string of Christmas lights sitting on the back of the couch, and Elisabeth is standing in the doorway to the kitchen with one arm crossed across her stomach. The other is cradling a mug of coffee under her chin as she studies the strands. He got them a tree, but the colored lights still need to get strung up. And if it's the one thing that gets accomplished before he leaves town, this is going to be it. "I don't know if we have enough lights," she observes. There are eight strands of lights out there stretched across the room. She ordered them from Kansas City. She can't be serious that there aren't enough, can she?

“There had better be,” Richard replies in dry tones as he steps up to the kitchen doorway behind her, sliding an arm around her from behind and resting his chin atop her head as he looks into the living room, “If there aren’t, I’m going to ask Warren and Aislinn to invent me a bioluminescent tree.”

That’s a threat.

“We’ll call it the Santa Pine, we’ll make billions.”

Probably kidding.

Shifting her weight slightly to the side so that she can lean back into the curve of his body, comfortably secure in the embrace, Elisabeth rests her arm on top of his. "I dare ya," she teases.

On second thought…. "Although, Nah… don't distract Warren until he finishes modifying the damn helmet." The smirk is apparent in her tone.

"When Aurora comes back down, you're gonna have to remember all your Christmas carols, mister. She has informed me they must be sung while the tree is decorated." There's a pause and Liz asks in a cheerful poke at him, "Do you need a cheat sheet?"

“Oh, I don’t know,” Richard muses, “I can probably muddle on through, the nuns were always having us sing those damn Christian carols at least, the ones that mention God and shit, and the incessant radio playing has probably jammed the rest into my head.”

A pause, and then he observes more dryly, “Although if her mother gets her head bashed in before Christmas, that’ll probably put a kibosh in the singing.”

There it is.

Uh-Huh. How did she know it wasn't going to be as easy as the relief that accompanied the ice pack the other night? She'd very meekly apologized for 'overlooking' her helmet! (Because that's in any way what happened.) "You've just been waiting til my headache faded to harass the hell out of me, haven't you?" Elisabeth's tone holds resigned amusement — she did open the door. Glancing up at him, she mutters in defense of her position, "I really had no intention of being anywhere near the fighting." (Riiiiight.)

Her smile is rueful as she twists a bit to look up at him. "I love you?" she offers, like it's a bribe.

“Uh huh.” Richard’s brows raise in a dubious arch as he looks down at her, “Our daughter needs you. Helmet. I don’t care if it’s not comfortable, you need to wear your goddamn helmet if you’re going into a combat area. Period.

“Don’t make me have Warren invent a remote lock and I give the remote to Kaylee.” Okay, that he’s not being serious about.

She leans her head back against his shoulder, taking his words very seriously. "I know. You're right. It was careless, and I'm sorry." The arm she has over his presses in tight against her belly, her chin still raised so her forehead rests against the side of his jaw. She's had a couple of days to kick herself … and a couple of ass reamings to go with it too. "I promise, it won't happen again." Not that she won't do other stupid things, certainly, but she won't deliberately put herself at risk like that on him again. They fought too hard to have this. She does lighten her tone after making that promise, though, pointing out, "She needs both of us, so don't you do The_Stupid while you're gone either, hmm? Or I'll torment you with Christmas music into eternity, never again to hear something decent."

“We’re not going after a nuclear bomb or anything, it’ll be fine,” Richard reassures her with a slight shake of his head, “Chances are it’s abandoned— there’s a chance that Julien left some of himself behind, and a slimmer chance they survived what happened with Tyler. They should be happy to work with us when we show up.”

He wrinkles his nose, “Eternity going carolling. Do you know the nuns made us do that? Can you imagine me and Isabelle carolling?”

That stops Elisabeth cold. Her head slowly tips to one side and she blinks several times. Can she imagine it? Soooort of…. it's a little terrifying, to be brutally honest. She's heard Isabelle sing. Caterwauling had a new meaning. Well… that might be unfair. Maybe. She starts to giggle. "Uhm… no. No I cannot imagine that, quite honestly. You have a good voice, so you I could see. But Izzy? Yikes. She sang to Aurora once when she was a baby; Ygraine thought it was a tomcat fight in the alley outside. I don't know who cried harder, me or her, when we realized what it was. I thought it was revenge for getting peed on."

“It probably was,” Richard admits a bit dryly, “I think she’s tone-deaf and unwilling to admit it. Her rendition of ‘Silent Night’ could put cats to flight and make dogs whimper.” His eyes widen playfully, “So now you know my personal hell.”

"I understand now," Elisabeth agrees mock-solemnly. "Isabelle singing Christmas carols for eternity. It is the perfect torture."

Chuckling quietly as she settles back again, her good hand tucking the coffee cup back under her chin again, she murmurs, "Us standing here cuddling isn't getting those lights on that tree any quicker. But I gotta admit I'm really liking just standing here with you looking at our first real tree."

The boxes of ornaments aren't anything special, but Aurora was ridiculously excited about the 1600 lights on those eight strings. "You know we're never going to find which one is out of the string blows, right?" she laughs.

“We could call Nicole,” Richard suggests, chin resting against her head again as he looks back to the couch, “She probably could figure it out with her ability. She’s a mother, I’m sure she’d understand a childmergency.”

He wrinkles his nose, “Do we have to put them up tonight? We can wait for the kids, and put them all up together?”

"Uh-uh. Three small children capering around the tree means the lights get put on now. They get to do the fun part," Elisabeth tells him with a grin. "The lights are all about business." She pauses, her smile softening. "Besides… I don't think you know how much this tree with all its colored lights will mean to her. Last year was…." She doesn't have a clue how to really talk about all that. She still only lets things out in small doses. "Cassie made her a tree out of salvaged stuff. Aura's most favorite thing was the lights." That's why there are so many.

Aurora's sitting in her mother's lap, watching Cassandra string up the lights. She has Blossom in the crook of her arm. The little girl seems … okay. She climbs up out of Liz's lap and tucks the floppy stuffed dog back into Liz's lap. "Hold Bossum, Mummy." The petite little girl comes over and takes the plug, biting her lip as she deliberately and ceremoniously plugs the plug into the socket.

When the colored lights come on — several of them apparently burned out, so they're lucky they found a set wired in parallel! — Aurora is… entranced. "Oooh," she breathes out, clasping her hands tight in front of her in glee. "Look! Look! They're so pretty! Unca Felix always had white lights," she reminds Cassandra. "Mummy and me like colored ones."

“Alright, but they’re putting on the tinsel,” Richard declares, a threat that means there will literally be tinsel everywhere soon. A kiss to her temple and he reluctantly slips his arms from around her, moving past her into the living room and heading for the couch and the lights there.

“Let’s get these up, then,” he says as he starts gathering up lights, “What do you think we should get the kids for presents? Do they have lists?”

Gawd… tinsel. That stuff is evil, but the ornaments and tinsel are the fun parts, so she replies, "of course!" Setting her coffee down, Elisabeth grins at him. "Do they have lists," she scoffs on a laugh. "Good lord." The wrist brace keeps her from bending that wrist but the light strings aren't tangled, so all she really has to do is hold them and help him wrap the tree in them.

"I was thinking when you get back, it might be nice to go up to the cabin for some winter fun… assuming it's accessible. Sledding, snowmen, maybe ice skating if the pond is frozen over hard enough." Then she pauses and grins, "You on skates should be fun."

“That’d be nice,” Richard admits, lifting the strings of lights and considering them before stepping over to the tree - starting at the top, of course. As he hangs them up amongst the branches, he pauses, peeking out from around the tree, “You’re thinking about when we were training in Horizon armor, aren’t you?”

A playful accusation.

"I wasn't," she retorts, suddenly laughing. "Although now that you mention it…."

A deep breath's taken, Cardinal's hands dropping to the floor, one knee slowly lifting to get his foot flat on the floor, and then the other… and then he pushes himself up to his feet, muscle memory kicking in to lift him up with his usual easy spring. This, of course, sends him lunging head-first into the wall beside the door, which he impacts with a solid bang. A backwards stagger, and then he falls back down on his ass with a ruckus of armor and wood.

"I'm good! I'm good, the only thing hurt is my pride…" Right. Slowly. Instead of trying what he did before, Cardinal rolls over to his belly, hands bracing to the floor to push himself up to his hands and knees. The tip of his toe drags over the wood, beneath him, and then he slowly, slowly straightens up to his full height. "…there we go, alright, I got this. This isn't that hard."

He shifts slowly forward, taking his first step— a bit heavy, so he overcompensates to catch up to it. This naturally results in a chain reaction of stumbling, flailing steps out onto the porch and past her, "Oh shit brakes brakes—"

Thud. Right down the steps of the porch and face down in the dirt and grass.

“We killed so many trees by accident that day,” Richard says faux-mournfully, draping the strings of lights around the tree as he circles it, occasionally tugging at some branches when it gets tangled.

"For all the world-ending bullshit, we do seem to find fun, don't we?" Elisabeth's giggles keep bubbling. "Remember Ryans in his??" Oh God, now she's laughing harder.

There is a little bit of hesitation in Ryans after watching the performance of the others. Fingers tap against his leg as he watches. Finally, he sighs. “Might as well get this over with.” He steps back a little, gives a little bounce on the balls of his feet and moves forward. Even though he isn’t running, his long legs provide a bit of power as he moves into that first leap. When the hydraulics engage, maybe it is partially the fact that Cardinal is suddenly there or maybe Ryans is just taken by complete surprise at the unnatural lift that sends him into the air. Unfortunately, the man might move with the grace of a predator on the ground, right now… he has none. So when he comes down, he manages to get a foot to hit the ground, but the momentum pitches the old guy forward. Inertia does the rest as he goes tumbling across the ground, till his back slams into a tree near the leader of Endgame. To add insult to injury, dislodged snow rains down around them both, burying the former agent a little. He then just kind of sits there.

Anyone nearby will hear a weird sound from the prone form as it slouches there leaning against the tree. Shoulders starts to shake; but, is it from the cold or…..? Fingers fumble with the helmet until he can pull it off, letting it fall to the side, still clutched in one hand. That unusual sound? Benjamin Ryans, the normally stony man, is laughing. Free from the confines of the helmet, it is a very real, very deep sound; not the small chuckles or huffs of amusement. Real, honest to goodness, laughter. “Hot Damn,” he whoops out around the laughter, thrusting his hand - with the helmet still clutched in it - into the air.

He breathes out a chuckle, “Ryans, God. You can teach an old dog new tricks, but it takes awhile as it turns out…”

Glancing at him as they string the lights, she says, "I learned a few things about that man when I was gone. He and my father served together in the Navy. I had no clue." She grins. "It was … strange and very interesting to meet him over there." Elisabeth hopes that he and the fleet were able to hold their own, though she doesn't mention that. "I remember the whoop when he fell — that day had a lot of fun moments."

A sly glance goes his way. "He has a hell of an ass for an old guy." It makes Liz laugh to remember Brian telling him that yes his ass was on display. "And he wanted pockets," she snickers.

“He cheated,” Richard sniffs, “Got de-aged from Peyton’s father. His ass wasn’t anywhere near that nice before that, I assure you.”

He snickers as he loops another length of light over the branches, “Fucking pockets. I’m surprised he didn’t ask for a pocket protector with them. At his heart he’s such a nerd.”

"He's not a nerd," Elisabeth objects on a snort of laughter. "I cannot for the life of me imagine Ryans behind a desk with a slide rule," she admits. "But then, before Flood, I couldn't really imagine him on a fucking ship either. And let me tell you something… the man ran a tight ship." She pauses and then shrugs slightly. "It's hard to imagine him and my father as Navy guys in a war." But then again, she didn't see her father with Richard during the Civil War. That side of him had only just begun appearing about the time they were getting ready to head for Alaska. Jared had been reasonably well-prepared for life in the bunker for a couple of years.

"Honestly, as weird as this sounds, I wish you were taking him with you to Antarctica too."

“Yeah. Well…” The humor in Richard’s voice fades as he turns his attention fully to the tree, making another circle around it, “He’s… not available.” Up above a branch the string goes, down below the next, creating a wavy pattern so that the tree’s lights aren’t just in straight lines.

If there’s one thing that Richard’s good at by now, it’s strings and their tangles. Christmas lights are not a line.

Her blue eyes flicker across to him and she nods slightly. "Yeah. I know." Honestly, it has her more worried for the man. But… right now, there's little enough to be done for that. As she hands him the next part of the string, Elisabeth grumbles mildly, "you do realize that half the neighborhood is going to have stocked freezers, yeah?" She grins at him.

“Stocked freezers?”

Richard looks over with a confused expression as he takes the next part of the string, looping it up over a branch, “What do you mean?”

Glancing at him, Elisabeth grins a bit. "Well… we're not starving and on rations anymore, which means I get to bake and cook. I can't just sit around here at night while you're traipsing off to the wilds of one of the worst memories of my existence, love. So I'm pretty sure by the time you're back, we'll be able to run a soup kitchen out of our apartment if I don't fill everyone else's freezers with what comes out of it."

“Oh, Jesus,” Richard laughs, turning back to wrap the lights around another circuit on the tree as he shakes his head, “Don’t you have any other stress relief other than baking? Go shoot at bad guys? Knitting circle? Go bang Felix?”

All good options!

Well, maybe not the knitting circle.

She throws a look his way that says really? and then laughs. "You've never complained about my cooking before," Elisabeth retorts as she hands him more lights. "And I don't think that's going to be how or why I ever land back in Felix's bunk, mister." She sticks her tongue at him. Brat.

"That said… if I can find a piano, maybe I'll work on some things. Well…" she glances at her wrist. "Maybe not." The rueful tone is accompanied by an easy shrug.

“Wait— “ Richard leans back from around the tree, eyebrows leaping upwards, “You’re not— did he get shot in the crotch during the war or something? Has he lost all sense of good taste in female flesh?” He’s teasing her now, clearly, even as he returns to stringing up the lights.

“Hm. A piano? I’ll have to look around…”

"No! Jesus!" Elisabeth is appalled at the idea. "I just… It hasn't felt right. Maybe asking him to stand up with us screwed it up." She shrugs just a little. "It's always just happened when it happened, you know? He's my best friend. Just hasn't been with benefits for a bit." Her blue eyes flicker up to him and she smiles. "Could also be partially the fact that we've both been busy as shit, and I have a lot less unclaimed time than I used to." Kids have a tendency to do that.

"Don't get crazy and go finding a piano. Just because you can doesn't mean we need one," she laughs.

“That’s fair. None of us have the time we used to,” admits Richard, shaking his head as he crouches down to start on the lower parts of the tree, “And you’re having to completely start up a new police force on top of it all, well, you’re even more busy.”

A glance back, a twitch of his lips, “Maybe you won’t even have time to miss me.”

Elisabeth sets the end of the string she's feeding to him down on the floor, pondering that thought a moment. "Maybe," she agrees brightly… and she waits until he's only lightly holding the strings, getting ready to attach the next one before she takes the few steps to him and leans down. Then she pokes him in the ribs. Right in the ticklish spots on either side. Her voice is low and amused when she scoffs, "Stupid."

At that ticklish poke, he laughs, stepping back - the light strings pulled up defensively to try and tangle her hands as Richard teases, “Don’t make me tie you up with these.”

Eyebrows go up, and he playfully asks, “Unless…?”

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