Home Is Not A Place, It's A Feeling


elisabeth_icon.gif richard2_icon.gif

with cameos by aura_icon.gif vf_kain_icon.gif

Scene Title Home Is Not A Place, It's A Feeling
Synopsis The journey home begins with a single step.
Date January 29, 2019

Secure Facility, Kansas City, MO

Coffee is one of those things that has been a luxury for so long that having it available is irresistable. Especially when one isn't sleeping well anyway. Elisabeth was on her way back to her room when the screaming started. It's not the first time, but it's the first time that anyone else has heard it — Elisabeth is usually with Aurora.

Dropping her coffee, she races around the corner and up the hall, meeting Carina as the older woman opens the door to Liz and Aurora's room with a helpless look. "It's okay. It's okay, I have her!" Liz calls to the guards who round the corner five steps behind her. The screaming is gone… though not done.

"Just a nightmare," Elisabeth reassures all of them from inside, keeping the room around her muted as she sits on the edge of the bed with Aurora curled up in a tiny ball. A glance at her mother is brief and she smiles tiredly. "Go on. I've got her." The guards head back about their business and Carina back to her own room, but the grapevine is small when people live in close quarters and sympathetic words spread.

In the 20 minutes or so that it takes the rumor mill to grind far enough for the information to reach Richard's ears, presumably the excitement is over. But even so…

As he rounds the same corner where the puddle hasn't yet been wiped up, it's to find Liz standing in the corridor wearing a pair of sweatpants and a loose T-shirt. She's transferring Aurora, who — well, he knows Liz's ability. The little girl is still crying but there's no sound. And it's evident, as flushed as she is, that it actually never stopped — into the arms of Kain Zarek. The child wraps herself around the man's neck like a little squid. He slants a brief glance up the hall, noting Richard's arrival, and steps back into his room with the little girl, whatever low words he's giving her at least seeming to calm her. Elisabeth smiles wearily. "Just bring her back when she's ready," she tells him as he closes the door.

It's clearly not the first time something similar has happened. She drags both hands up through her hair and down the back of her head to clasp at the back of her neck. The expression on Liz's face as she turns back toward her own room, where he stands by the door, is heartbroken. She spots him there and the smoothing of her expression is automatic — she's told him so many things, mostly about Aurora and the life she tried to build for the little girl in Arthur's world, a little bit about the wasteland, about meeting her mother — but even after all this time he knows that there are things she's afraid to say. He knows what she does when she's afraid of being hurt, the way she keeps people out. It's just never before been him on the other side of it.

Padding back to him on bare feet, she stops in front of him and searches his face. It's a moment oddly fraught with an unspoken choice — to let him in, let him see all of it, or protect herself and push him away because now that she has what she fought so hard for she doesn't know what to do with it. She's not really afraid of losing him if she lets him in… she's afraid she's already lost him, lost the part that sustained her through so much. Then again, keeping him at arm's length is a guarantee of losing it.

The silence drags, the moment teetering on the decision somehow. And he can see when the inner walls come back down, when she chooses that first tentative step toward finding her way back for good, toward trust; her shoulders release that subtle tension, her posture eases just a little, her arms come down, and her face softens from deliberately neutral lines into what she's really feeling. "Hi," she murmurs. His questioning glance past her shoulder is met with a faintly anxious look. "Do you want to come in? She's… it'll be a little while."

Once he’d been told, Richard hurried right over; he’s in black socks, jeans, a wifebeater-style shirt as he hurries towards the room, slowing as he catches sight of Elisabeth. He watches his daughter disappear into the room with Kain, then steps slower towards Aurora’s mother, dark eyes searching her own face in return with open concern there.

Once she steps closer, he brings a hand up to brush against her shoulder, sliding up to the side of her neck in a gentle contact. “Yeah,” he says softly, “Let’s go inside and talk, okay…? I’m sure she’ll be a bit, yeah.”

She leans lightly into the touch on her neck and then nods a little. Her movements are a little jerky, as if she isn't sure which direction to go for a moment, but with one last glance back toward Kain's room, she precedes Richard into the room. Like his, it's not a large room, more like an efficiency apartment minus a full kitchen. But Elisabeth doesn't seem to really pay a lot of attention to the room, she's perhaps a little more aware of the conversation.

"Both times we jumped before the one that came here… we evacuated under fire. When we got to the flooded world, …." She sighs heavily. "She's seen too many people die." It's really that simple. And she shakes her head a bit. "I never wanted any of this for her," she tells him in a choked tone. "What if she can't get past it?" More or less, she's just feeling responsible again. But… she's sharing the fear, which is really the first time she's offered more than surface reactions.

“She’s our kid.” Richard closes the door behind him, stepping over to her again and reaching out to lay his hands on her shoulders, looking at her with a serious expression, “She’s strong. She’ll need support, but yes, she’ll get past it, one way or another. I mean, she hasn’t shut down completely, she’s not violent…”

He shakes his head a little, “She’s been through a lot, but she hasn’t broken… we just need to be here for her.”

When she looks up at him, Elisabeth's gaze on him is searching. Often over the past two weeks he's caught her observing him as he talks to other people, a similar uncertain expression on her face. "I expected coming home after so long would be hard," she murmurs. "I had no idea how hard." The confession sends a flicker across her face, her emotions more clear than she's allowed him up to now. She shifts her weight on her feet a little as she moves forward to put her forehead on his chest. Her hands rest on his waist and she is quiet as she simply breathes in the unique scent that belongs to him. "Of all the people here, you'll be the one who understands the regrets… and that I'd still do it all again to get her home." The soft huff of laughter holds no amusement. "It sucks to realize you're very much like the person you hate most."

Richard’ s fingers slide up her neck and under her hair, stroking there soothingly as she leans against his chest. He leans down, brushing a kiss to her head and murmuring, “We’re a very pragmatic family.” A little bit of a chuckle that echoes hers, “We’ll do everything for family. Anything for family.”

There’s a moment’s silence, and then he admits, “I lied when I promised I wouldn’t do anything to bring you back. Sorry.”

The shake of her shoulders doesn't make clear whether she's laughing or crying, but when she pulls away the expression on Liz's face is a weary kind of resigned amusement. "Of course you did," she replies mildly. Her blue eyes once more search his face — it's almost like she's afraid to take her eyes off him sometimes. She perhaps confirms the idea as she reaches up to touch his jaw lightly with her fingertips.

"You know… I told Walter once that I occasionally wondered if we actually died that day and all of this is just… the elongated few eternal seconds at the event horizon of the black hole before we no longer exist. On some level, I keep expecting all of this to vanish. And I think maybe Aura's feeling the same way." She swallows hard.

"She was pleading with me not to make her jump again." Hence the heartbroken expression when she initially turned away from Kain's door. "She didn't see Aunt Izzy tumble away — thank God — but she's afraid we'll leave them behind."

“Christ, Liz…” Richard’s hand slides to cradle her cheek, thumb brushing under her cheek as he looks down to her with pain reflected in his eyes, “That’s… I can see it, yeah, but… fuck.” He grimaces, “You’re home. You’re not jumping anywhere again. I promised you, and Aura both, and I meant it.”

A glance to the door, and back, “It’ll take time. You’ll— well. You’ll both probably need therapy, let’s be honest.”

"Oh that's a given," Elisabeth agrees easily. She hesitates and then says quietly, "And it's not helping my anxiety that we're sort of… walking on eggshells with each other." There's a flash of sadness, quickly hidden as she drops her gaze to the front of his shirt, her voice holding that uncertainty yet again. "Is asking you to curl up here and just … hold me while we talk asking too much too fast?" When she looks up, she reluctantly admits, "All I really wanted you to do when we landed was kiss me." Her words pick up speed, as if she needs to get them out there. "But there was so much that needed doing and you really couldn't, and now it's awkward and stupid and I don't want to ask for more than you want to give and I don't want you thinking that I'm assuming things about— “

Elisabeth’s anxious rambling is very suddenly cut short as the hand on her cheek slides down a bit to her jaw, tilts her head up, and Richard leans in to shut her up with a firm kiss, foiling the movements of her lips with his own.

She may be assuming, but if that’s the case, he is too.


Just an instant of surprise. Then relief rolls through her, he can feel it in the way her muscles unlock. The flood of tears that wants to accompany it will have to wait until later. Her body curves into him as she returns the kiss.

As her body eases into his, Richard’s free arm slides around her to pull her tight to him, fingers losing themselves in her hair as he kisses her slowly, breaking for breath now and again before reclaiming her lips once more. After some time, he draws back just enough to exhale against her lips, eyes still closed, “Don’t be fucking stupid, Harrison.”

She's had dreams like this before. Never so real.

The slow, lush kisses soothe an aching soul. Each touch of her lips to his is a wordless expression of emotion that has held through years apart. These moments alone to relearn how they fit when she wondered if they still fit are a gift. When they finally part and he says that, the soft huff of laughter is choked. Her hands have crept their way between them somewhere in the past minutes and his shirt is held tightly in fists reluctant to uncurl.

"I missed you so much," she whispers, lips still brushing his. She's unwilling to open her own eyes and end this moment. Just in case it's not real.

“I missed you too,” Richard murmurs, the tip of his nose bumping against hers, a gentle smile curving to his lips, “And if we weren’t waiting for Aurora to calm down and be brought back over here I’d show you just how much.” A bit of a rumble to his voice there, a serious note beneath the teasing.

He shifts just a bit, his brow resting on hers and his eyes remaining closed as he breathes out a sigh, “I risked everything to bring you back. I wouldn’t’ve done that if I didn’t love you, you know, woman.”

"I know," Elisabeth whispers. She really does know! "I'm a little fucked up in the head still, and I'm utterly terrified you're going to disappear. That as soon as I believe we really made it, I'm going to wake up and it's all a dream." The shift so they can rest forehead to forehead and nose to nose makes her smile and her hands slip up around his neck, the position familiar and comforting and just… home. "I've had so many nights of wishing you were there, it's hard to comprehend that it's over." Her laugh is a little choked up and she tries desperately for a lighter tone. "If our daughter weren't going to show back up here at some point, I would let you… I'm sure it's like riding a bike. You don't forget how when you haven't done it in a long time, right?"

She is quiet for long moments, just soaking in his presence and the tide of emotions that come it with. "I never let her believe you didn't love her or that you didn't want her. And I never let another man in my life that she'd get attached to as a father." Her blue eyes finally open and she pulls back just far enough to look at him. "It's been really lonely," she confesses in a whisper, blinking away tears.

“I promise, if I disappear it’s just because that’s literally my ability,” Richard says in gentle teasing, eyes opening enough to watch her face as she talks, a faint smile curving to his lips. One arm staying looped loosely around her waist, his other stroking two fingertips along her nape.

As she falls silent, so does he, just standing there with her in his arms as she soaks it in and processes her emotions— and then she speaks again, and he closes his eyes, drawing in a shaky breath. “Thank you,” he murmurs, opening his own eyes again, tears glistening in them, “After so long… I’m just glad she was willing to see me as her dad…” Noses bump again, and he murmurs, “Don’t need to be lonely anymore, lover.”

One hand comes down the side of his neck to stroke his cheek when he thanks her — it's not something that needs thanks, in her mind. It's just the way it is — the little girl was loved. She rubs her nose lightly against his, taking her time as another small piece of her settles into place. "The night she came home from the hospital, she cried so much. I didn't know what to do. So I found …" She laughs quietly. "God… I found that Johnny Reid song that you sang to me one night. She and I danced to it…"

Her expression holds pain as she flickers her eyes up to his again, but there's joy too. "Ygraine told me later… up to that point, she hadn't been sure how things would go. I couldn't think about you or Dad or anyone … I was so scared all the time." Elisabeth's voice remains hushed as she talks, the words halting at times. "That night I guess… I finally let myself grieve for all of it. For… you, because I wasn't sure you'd even survived. For dad and how much hurt there would be. For Aurora, because I wasn't sure I could ever give her what she deserved. And for me too, I suppose… for the things I left behind and for the horrible things I had done to escape the Virus world."

Pulling in her breath and letting it out slowly, stroking his jaw absently, she tells him softly, "I had to remember… everything I could. I couldn't give Aura her father any other way." She swallows hard, her voice husky with tears and suppressed laughter too. "I gotta tell you though…. You might have superhero status in her eyes for a while."

“Oh, God, you’re such a gross romantic sometimes,” Richard teases as she brings up the Johnny Reid song, shaking his head slowly…. and then he grimaces. “You were… were you still in the Virus future, when she was born? I can only imagine, what little I know of it sounds— fucking horrible, Liz.”

He grimaces, fingers caressing her neck gently as he looks down at her with a tender expression, unshed tears gleaming, “Well, she’ll learn I’m not perfect soon enough. I can take ‘superhero’ while it lasts. The twins will love her too, and so will Harm— we’re just friends now, but she takes care of the kids. She has custody so, you know…” His enemies are less likely to focus on them.

She laughs at him. "You knew that a long time ago — outside badass, inside bubble gum and flowers," Elisabeth teases back. The news about custody merely makes her nod, although she informs him in a steady voice, "You'll be listed on the birth certificate I have to file and you'll also have full legal and physical shared custody of her." Daughter of a lawyer. "She can't use Cranston here, so unless you're changing your name back to your name, she's going to keep mine."

Only after that's out there does she address the other question. "No… we landed in Virus first. I found out that I was pregnant there… that was a bit of a shocker. And brought a whole new urgency to getting the fuck out." Her body goes somewhat tense as she remembers both the need to get out and what happened there, but she shakes it off and makes herself relax again, the hand on his face slipping to rest on his chest near his collar bone. "She was born in Arthur's world. After we realized we were going to be there a long while, it was… not so bad. Aside from being worried about being fugitives, Arthur already knew who some of us were. But as long as we didn't make waves, he didn't really look for us. Plus he had Magnes working for him, on the Infernal Machine."

“You could give her Cardinal even if I’m not using it, but,” Richard admits, “Harrison’s a pretty name too.” He winks, then, at that gentle bit of teasing, fingers brushing down through her hair gently, soothingly.

“I mean, of all the local cluster,” he says with a wrinkle of his nose, “I suppose that wasn’t a bad world for her to be born in…. the Infernal Machine? Really? Next thing you’re going to say you called Arthur ‘He Who Should Not Be Named’, lover.”

She gives him wide, innocent eyes. Too innocent. The who, me? look.

She actually did call him that. "Only once or twice," she mutters, shooting him a cheeky grin. There's only a hint of defensiveness there.

A bark of true laughter escapes him at that, lips twisting in a grin down to her. “Of course you did,” he observes in amused tones, “Of course you did. Well. Arthur or no Arthur, you’re both here now…”

“Home. Where you belong.”

Elisabeth points out rather pragmatically, "Arthur did turn out to be Samson Gray in disguise, so I really wasn't wrong!" I mean, honestly! If there's one person who should be considered the root of all evil…

She leans up to kiss him lingeringly again, but before it can turn into something that could get interrupted she pulls back just a bit and murmurs, "She's coming back." At first he could be forgiven for thinking she's just reminding both of them, but moments later the knock on the door makes clear that no, she actually heard them coming. "Stay?" she asks softly. "I … think we both would really like it if you stayed."

“If you want me here,” says Richard, resting his brow back against hers again, “I’m not going anywhere. I’ve got to tell her embarrassing stories about you, after all.”

He grins then, eyebrows going up before he releases her and steps back, sweeping an arm to the door in offering.

"Silly ass," Elisabeth teases gently. It's been years since she called anyone that, and she can't help the soft smile that accompanies it as she remembers where it comes from. One more kiss lingers just those extra few moments, and she confesses, "There hasn't been a time in the past seven years when I didn't want you here, lover."

Then she slips away from him to retrieve their daughter from the man in the hallway and get her settled in the large bed were they can curl around her to let her sleep enclosed in a field where her parents' heartbeats are the only sound she hears and she's safe from bad dreams. Through the dark hours of the night as they cradle their child between them and watch her sleep, Elisabeth finally shares the parts of their journey that she's been unwilling to tell anyone until now.

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