How Hard It Is To Say


elisabeth_icon.gif vf_kain2_icon.gif

Scene Title How Hard It Is To Say
Synopsis Elisabeth and Kain see each other for what may be the last time.
Date February 1, 2019

Secure Facility

Kansas City, MO

The last month had been stuffed full of meeting with therapists, agents, people who have to be briefed on what they saw in Virus, in Wasteland, in Bright, in Flood… details about the idea that some version of Mayes was planning a fucking invasion. The Looking Glass and its potential for disaster still to come. In all of this, Elisabeth's focus has been on her people. Aurora first and foremost, obviously, but all of the people who've come so far with her. Most especially the man who's traveled the farthest aside from herself and Magnes.

Elisabeth knows where to find him — she brings her own coffee and a refill for his too as she makes her way to his room and plops down across from him, this morning routine of joining him having become something of a habit with her several days a week since they arrived. "Have you decided if you're heading back to New York yet?" she asks him. She hasn't been nagging him about it — the last time she asked was a week ago. But they're coming up on the time to leave, and she's… perhaps a little worried about him, even though he always seems to poo-poo her concerns as unnecessary.

The hospital-like accommodations are spartan, though Kain’s hoarder tendencies have his decorated with a number of pieces of memorabilia dragged through time and space. They’d all passed security inspections, from the grime-covered Hello Kitty backpack he’s had since they met, to the radio he and Aurora repaired. There’s a piece of each timeline here, in utilitarian junk form. Kain is lacing up his boots in the chair beside his bed when Liz comes in, looking up to her with raised and expectant brows.

“Ain’t sure that’s the wisest decision Ah’ could make,” Kain says as he pulls his pant legs down around the top of his boots. “Word on the street is Ah’ got killed in a riot goin’ on nine years ago now. Ah’m not gonna say this mug’s billboard worthy,” like the tacky advertisements of his face all over one of the timelines, “but Ah’m a man with ghosts. These Spooks want me t’keep quiet… but…”

As he rises from the chair, Kain shrugs helplessly and runs a hand through his hair. “Master of Puppets found his way back here…” Kain murmurs, looking up from the floor to Liz. “Ah’ can’t just sit idle an’ assume Ling ain’t out there somewhere too. Ah’ owe her.”

Nodding slightly as she swallows coffee, Elisabeth agrees. "The fact that Doyle turned up makes me think that when they spun out, they still made it, just not where intended. Where do you think she'll go to ground?" Grimacing, she points out, "Depending on where she landed, even getting to the U.S. could be an issue. This place is fucked up in ways I didn't expect."

Setting her cup down, the blonde drags her hands down her face and sighs heavily as she rests her elbows on her knees. "I don't know if avoiding New York is better or worse for you. I really don't." She looks up at him. "But I'm not leaving any of our people out there if there's any way to find them. Tell me what you're thinking to do, and let me help? I mean, yeah, I've got my own shit to handle, obviously, but… my shit is apparently tied to some people with influence, so it gives us some reach to try and find the others."

“That’s the thing with dingaling,” Kain mumbles, slouching forward and then leaning back up against the wall, “she an’ Ah’ ain’t never been down-low at the same time, unless y’count the bunker Eddie had us all in. When Ah’ got snatched by the cops a few hops back,” a situation he’s never once elaborated on, “she went t’ground an’ didn’t pop back up until it was time t’spring me. She’s smoke,” Kain says with a spread of his hands. “Y’don’t find her, she finds you.”

Kain slowly tucks his hands into the pockets of his jeans, eyes focused on a chip in the tile floor at his feet. “So here’s me, all’ worked up with nowhere t’go. Maybe if— ” Kain stops himself before he says something, a troubled and momentarily pained look crossing his face before he closes his eyes.

She's often wondered what he got up to in the Bright world that got him jacked up into Riker's. She's never asked him, simply because she feels no need to make him explain himself. "Well… seems to me that if you're not sure where she'll go to ground, the best place to start is the place you both know best. New York's the one place she may actually know to look for you." She grins a little, not really amused. "Believe me, I'm understanding the all worked up and nowhere to go — I'd like to find all the others too. Isabelle's…" She shrugs. Family.

Tilting her head as she studies him, Elisabeth asks quietly, "Maybe if…?" She never assumes she knows where his head goes even after the years they've run together. "If you have an idea, lay it on me. Can't be worse than … hell, I dunno. A billboard advertising for her to call us." Because it the worst dumb idea she can think of to throw out there.

“Already been down that road, s’too hard,” Kain says opaquely to whatever his half-formed idea was. “But yer right, maybe headed back t’New York ain’t the worst idea ever. Ah’m just not sure what th’ fuck’m gonna do. Ah’ can’t go inta’ something huge an’ public, an’ the background the government’s put together for me ain’t exactly special.”

Then, smirking to himself, Kain looks up to Elisabeth. “Ah lied an’ told ‘em Ah’ graduated from college,” he admits as he crosses his arms over his chest, “so at least Ah’ finally got mah degree. Momma’d be so proud’a her boy.”

A flash of laughter crosses her features and Elisabeth asks, "Do I dare ask what your degree is in?" She's genuinely amused by that little bit of subterfuge. "Honestly, I think it's smart. Not like anyone ever goes looking at college crap. And having the piece of paper with it backstopped they way they are? Fuck it — it opens a few doors."

She leans back in the chair again, appearing perfectly comfortable with the idea of the lie. She also looks sympathetic. "I don't know what the fuck I'm gonna do when I get there either," she confesses. "I'm so goddamned tired of our whole existence being a running gun battle." She shoves her hand through her hair. "What do you want to do?" she asks curiously. "I mean… you have a blank slate here, you're not stepping back into Kain Zarek's life. You can build a life that's whatever you want. So do you want to go back to doing the same old shit, running black market goods?" Her tone holds no judgment at all, just sincerely interested in what he really wants from this chance.

“That was just a side hustle,” Kain admits with a shrug. “Mah’ real job was what Ah’ got mah degree in…” he flashes her a lopsided smile, “Media Advocacy.” There's a dry laugh at that irony. “Which is a fancy way of sayin’ PR, which in mah real line of work was a fancy way of sayin’ shakedowns an’ leg breaking for Danny boy.”

There's less amusement in Kain's expression when he reminisces about his past line of work. “S’where Ah’ met Ling an’…” Kaydence’s name disappears in his throat. “Y’know, made connections. Ah’m not sure what'm gonna do now, ‘cept the way Ah’ hear it the lady who is Secretary of State these days is somebody Ah’ right pissed off in mah time. Hopefully mah name doesn't cross her desk. That cat’s got claws.”

"FFfffft," Elisabeth snorts. "Plenty of women wanna sink claws into your hide for a variety of reasons, I'm sure, Cajun," she teases lightly. "Let's try and keep you far away from the Feds, at least for a little while, if you please? Finding out you were doing a stint at Riker's in Bright wasn't really a big deal or anything — I'da got your ass out somehow, if I'd known. But if you wind up doing a stint here, I can't even begin to imagine what the fuck that would look like." She shakes her head.

She's keeping it light, teasing him about that, to keep herself from commenting on the name she knows he skipped over. Kaydence Damaris is still too tender a topic, in her mind. She sips her coffee and considers. "At the risk of asking a stupid question and making you give me the 'duh' face — " which he does, though not as often as he used to. She's a lot less naive nowadays. " — why don't you just work for Richard? I mean, it sounds stupid maybe, but he does own a friggin' huge company. If nothing else, it's a place to hang your hat until you sort out what the fuck you want to do…. Plus, PR departments aren't actually in the limelight, and it would put you in position to have firsthand information on whatever turns up about Ling — because you know how he is. He can't leave anything alone." Her tone is dryly amused. Richard's inability to leave things alone is the only reason we're all home.

"You just can't do leg-breaking. That'd look bad."

Kain kicks up one brow, making a little box-motion with his hands. “If Ah’m bein’ honest, Ah’ feel like Ah’d be more likely t’have t’break legs workin’ fer Dicky.” It isn’t so much a duh face that he lays on Elisabeth, but a we know I’m right smirk. “Boy’s got some heavy duty enemies, if what Ah’ve heard happened outside’a that observatory’s true…”

There’s a reluctant sigh, though, and Kain throws his hands in the air and relents some. “Ah’m not about t’presume Dickie wants a damn thing t’do with me. We ain’t friends here, s’far as Ah’ can tell.” He looks aside, lips downturned into a frown. “Ah’m not sure’f Ah’ could handle that, either. Ah’ dunno. He’s… in a long list’f people Ah’ buried, mentally.”

"Well, that part I understand," Elisabeth concedes, using her fingertips to rub briefly against her head. "You were friends here … but you're not that man and he's not your Cardinal. It's not the same thing… and we both know it." They've both done the making-friends-with-other-versions-of-people.

She pauses and is quiet for a long moment before admitting, "I don't want to split up." The words are hard to force out — it's vulnerability, and they've all learned the hard way to hide those as much as possible. Elisabeth looks up at him. "This is… my home. It's what I've fought for for the past 7 years. But I'm a stranger in a strange land here just as much as we all have been in every other place we've landed. I tried to build a life… in Arthur's world. It imploded. It was always going to implode."

Her teeth worry at the corner of her bottom lip and she looks down, playing with the coffee cup. "I don't… trust that's it's over. I can't. Not yet. I want to." When she looks back up at him, though, the stress is clear. "As fucking paranoid as it sounds, I want to find all our people and keep us all close so that when it goes pear-shaped here and we have to go to fucking ground, we've still got one another."

Elisabeth makes a face and tries to make light of what she just admitted — that she's terrified to let her people out of her sight. Maybe just as scared as Aurora is. "How's that for being a fucking pansy-ass?" She wishes the quip didn't sound as flat as it does.

Kain’s expression is hard to read. He isn't usually an inscrutable man, wearing his concerns on his sleeve. But in that moment there's an opacity in Kain’s expression that Liz isn't accustomed to. He shakes his head, dismissing himself of the very notion, and yet doesn't have anything to offer. This world, even his own heart, are at present mysteries to him.

“Ah’ don't blame y’fer not being able t’rest,”Kain finally says with a slow shuffle of his feet. “Ah’ can't. There's too much here. Too much t’learn, t’remeber, things t’think or do t’blend in. Ah’m slippin’ away from mahself in order t’play a role here.” Though his brows are furrowed, Kain doesn't actually seem fully troubled by that. “It ain't every day a guy gets a fresh start…”

But then he looks up to Elisabeth and says, “An’ it's hard t’start over ‘round folks who know you.”

She moves to stand, leaving the half-filled coffee cup on the floor next to the chair. "Is that your way of telling me you're going to up and disappear, Kain?" Elisabeth's voice is choked by a lump she wasn't expecting to find in her throat. He's not wrong… it's hard to start over period. She's done it enough times.

"I … can respect that you need to get the hell away from all of us." She averts her eyes and crosses her arms, swallows hard. She won't put her own paranoia and shit onto him — it's not his problem to deal with, after all! "Just… let me know you're okay once in a while? I will lose my shit if I have to explain to Aurora that you're gone for good and I don't know if you're dead." This way, she can at least reassure the little girl — and, yes, she has to admit it, herself — that he's not dead in a ditch. Then she looks back at him and offers with a small smile, "You'll know where to find me."

Kain’s quiet for a long while, slouched forward with his head hung and arms slack. “It’s been eight years, Liz.” The weight in Kain’s voice is palpable. “Ah’ need… t’figure out who Ah’ even am anymore. Disappear into m’self. Get away from…” he looks away. “Ah’m not gonna drop off th’ face of th’ Earth. But, Ah’ve gotta come t’terms with where we are an’ that any’f this… is even remotely real.”

Kain motions to the doorway. “We got all’a us, all them people we picked up at the Ark that made it, all these people who’re gonna be living new lives. They asked me… they asked me for a name. For mah birth certificate.” The one all Travelers are going to have made. “Ah’m a name on a piece of paper, Lizzie. They ain’t even lettin’ me be Kain Zarek here. Ah’m…”

He digresses, losing his agitated fire. Kain sulks again. “It ain’t forever… but it ain’t right now, either.”

That's fair. She gets it. Far more than he maybe realizes … Bright was much the same for her, and Liz vividly remembers losing it on Ygraine. Letting out a slow breath, she walks to him and leans down, hugging him hard around the shoulders.

"That's all I need. Just to know you're okay. The adjustment sucks. When you're ready, just touch base. I'll be here." She releases him. "Make it whatever you want it to be. But remember you're not alone, huh?" She grins slightly. "And go hug the pixie before you split — she'll miss you."

Kain’s slow to step back out of the hug, but nods to the request Elisabeth makes of him. He can’t say any more to ease her mind, but there is one person he needs to reassure more than anything.

“Ah’ wouldn’t think of leaving without addressing Her Majesty,” Kain says with a smile that hides how difficult this is. “Ah’ wouldn’t leave ya’ll without saying goodbye.”

No matter how hard it is to say.

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