It's A Girl!


aura_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title It's a Girl!
Synopsis An introduction 6.5 years in the making.
Date January 13, 2019

Secure Facility, Kansas City, MO

"Hey, breakfast is here," Elisabeth says brightly, heading for the door to open it for the man on the other side. Last night, breakfast in the room — even if it's just muffins and milk and coffee for now — seemed a much better way to introduce them than in the dining room. Now she's second-guessing herself on it. Funnily enough, she's probably far more nervous than the little girl sitting cross-legged on the bed with her stuffed dog.

"Muffins!" Aurora's easy to please, and here with her mom after sleeping in a real bed in a place where no one is yelling, no one seems scared, and no one is shooting, she seems content enough. "Bossum wants to know if there's chocolate chip muffins."

"Well, let's see what he brings, hmm?" Liz opens the door and gestures the man outside to come in.

“There’s no chocolate chip, I’m afraid,” Richard says as he reviews the contents of the tray that he’s carrying into the room, “But there are muffins.” They’re in quarantine, after all, the meal offerings aren’t exactly stellar in terms of luxury and selection. They’re better than they were in the flooded Ark, though, at least.

He’d agonized over deciding what to wear, but finally decided on civvies— Liz would probably be shocked to see him in a suit anyway. One surprise at a time. So he’s in BDU pants and a black sweatshirt as he walks in with that tray and carries it to the bedside, setting it down.

He’s nervous, too. Far more nervous than he’d been tearing a hole in reality with Science.

When he finally looks directly at the smallest person in the room, she offers him a sweet smile. Her hazel eyes are curious as they study him. Although she doesn't jump up, he can see that she's still in the long T-shirt someone found for her to sleep in until clothing was brought in her size. Her fingers are playing with what remains of the tattered stuffed dog's fur — the thing has clearly been through the wringer.

"That's okay," Aurora consoles him. "We had them a long time ago and Mummy said they might have some. The other places we libbed din't have them either." She pauses.

"You're almost purple," she tells him candidly. "I like purple. Mummy says you're my daddy." There's a flicker in her expression that tells him maybe she's trying real hard to be brave and wants to get that part out there. "She said you were scared cuz you wanted me to like you. I want you to like me too."

Elisabeth practically facepalms, rubbing her fingers between her eyebrows and trying to fight a smile. Small children have zero tact. None. She did warn him that the child wasn't shy.

At her words, Richard can’t help but smile, if a bit sadly; she’s so accepting of things, which is no surprise given how often she’s been moved around during her short life. A breath’s drawn in, and then he nods twice.

“Yeah,” he admits, “I’m your dad. Sorry it took us so long to meet, I’ve… been looking for the both of you for a long time now.”

Then he chuckles, glancing to Liz and back, “— and yeah, I mean, you might’ve been mad I wasn’t around. I was, when I met my father for the first time.”

Now she looks down, fidgeting with Blossom's ear. A sort of half-shrug accompanies that movement. "Sometimes I'm mad." When she looks up again, Aurora has a thoughtful expression. "If you din't have Mr. Mateo and Miss 'Nette, you couldn't get where Mummy and me libbed," she tells him. "Unca Felix said you would find us someday." She wrinkles her nose a little. "I wish you coulda finded us at our house. I din't like the places through the tunnels that we libbed."

Well, not like that's a shock. Elisabeth meets his gaze, amused. She wasn't entirely sure what the child would pop up with — of course, she's never entirely sure what the child will pop up with.

"Do you have ice cream? We had ice cream at home, but not in the other places."

Stifling her laughter, Elisabeth lets him fend for himself — he has the twins! — while she moves to manage getting muffins out.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t there,” Richard says, moving to sit on the bed’s edge twisted to face her, expression twisting briefly regretful, “I wish I had been. I’m here now, though…” Then he chuckles, “Felix, huh? I should’ve known you’d find him even in other worlds, Liz.”

The other question then has him grinning, and he says, “We have plenty of ice cream back home, yes, I can promise you that. Things aren’t perfect here but they’re a lot better than the wasteland, and the flooded Earth.”

“Ice cream is a definite must-have in my book.”

Slyly, the little one looks up at him from beneath her lashes. "What's your fav'rite?"

Elisabeth looks up and smiles just a little. "Well… I needed the help. And the emotional support," she admits. "He and Leland were amazing; they gave Aurora a good foundation of family, you know? It took us five years to get from there to the wasteland." Shadows darken her features. She'll tell him about Gabriel and how things went to hell when Aurora's not listening.

Now Aurora bounces up to her knees and offers her raggedy dog to him. "You know Unca Felix?? Unca Felix gibbed me Bossum. He's a …" She looks at Liz. "A German Shepherd," supplies her mother, and then she looks back. "A German Shepherd." He looks more like a ragmop at this point. "An' he said not to lose him an' I din't!" She's very proud of herself. "Cassie said Unca Felix might lib here too, only not my Unca Felix but he can still be my Unca Felix, right?" She looks so sweetly hopeful, batting his own hazel eyes at him prettily.

“I’m a big fan of chocolate chip vanilla,” Richard reveals, “What’s yours?”

Then she’s offering the dog, though, and he reaches out to accept the raggedy plush. “So you didn’t! That’s a long way to keep track of him, good job… we’ll have to get him cleaned up for you,” he observes, “I’m sure he needs a bath and some, uh, work.”

A glance to Liz, then back to Aurora, “Felix did live here, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen him… we’ll look for him. If we find him, I’m sure he’d adore being your Unca Felix, kiddo.”

"That's my fav'rite too!" Aurora beams at him, and she nods. "He definitely needs a bath. I got a bath last night, but he can't go in my bath. He might fall apart." When he says he'll find Uncle Felix, though, that's when the little girl hurls herself against him and hugs his neck. "Primal!"

Elisabeth finally breathes. The subtle hum against his skin, not really noticeable until this moment when it disappears, is one he hasn't felt in quite some time. She has to fight not to cry at this image, watching him get to hold her for the first time.

There’s a moment’s surprise as she hurls herself at him, and then Richard wraps his arms around her tightly, pulling her against him. “Yeah, kiddo,” he murmurs in a voice suddenly thick with tears, eyes closing, “Totally primal.”

She wishes she had a camera in this moment, it will be one she never forgets. Elisabeth watches them, and then she turns her back to them, giving him those few moments where Aurora will be still and will let him hold her before she's bouncing back about her business.

The little girl's hug remains tight for a lot longer than he might have expected, and when he does finally loosen his arms, she draws back just a little and looks him in the face. Eyes far older than they should be take in his face, and her small hand comes up to wipe tears from his face where a couple escaped. She pats his face tenderly. "It's okay, daddy… I'm not mad no more." She gives him a soft kiss on the cheek and then slides out of his arms, bounding toward the breakfast tray to see what's there.

As sensitive to his mood as she was, Aurora now seems oblivious to it as she starts talking to Blossom and debating the merits of blueberry muffins versus banana muffins. Elisabeth however, knows exactly the gut punch that their daughter just dealt him — it hit her too. She puts her hands on his shoulders, her body blocking Aurora's view while he deals with it.

It’s a moment that he, too, won’t ever forget. The first time he held their daughter in his arms.

Richard manages a smile when she leans back from the hug, when she looks at him like that, although the pat of her hand and the gentle reassurance nearly has him breaking down— fortunately, then she’s sliding away to get breakfast and Liz is there.

He leans forward to rest his forehead on her stomach, drawing in a shaky breath and exhaling it again. After a few long moments he leans back, looking up to her and saying quietly even as he wipes tears away from his face, “It’s good to have you home. Both of you.”

Wrapping her arms around his shoulders, Elisabeth shelters him there. And when he looks up, she offers him a somewhat damp smile in return. Cradling his face, she whispers, "I'm sorry we were so late."

"Are we gonna lib here a long time? Mummy said we din't never have to use the tunnel no more. Is this our house? Is there a playground?" She pauses and looks back at both of them, again with that flash of maturity. "Is it safe? Is it like home was? Can we make noise or do we gotta be quiet? Are you gonna sing again, Mummy? Is your hair gonna be dark again? Are we gonna see my grampa too?" She continues on as she starts tearing into a muffin, "We bringed my nana wif us but Mummy says grampa got landed here a long time ago wifout her. So she might cry."

She leans down to rest her forehead against his and starts laughing quietly. "Richard, let me introduce you to the real Aurora."

“Not your fault,” Richard murmurs, bringing a hand up to brush against her cheek. “Don’t blame yourself, blame— “

Then there’s a cascade of questions, and he can’t help but laugh softly as well, taking a moment before extracting himself from her arms. “This is just a place for a little while,” he explains as he shifts back into line of sight of the child, wiping his face with a hand again to clean it, “We’ll be going somewhere in a few weeks to stay at, and you don’t need to use the tunnel anymore, no. There’ll be a playground, and other kids, and you don’t have to be quiet, it’s pretty safe, and…:”

A smile tugs up at the corner of his lips, “You’ll see your grampa soon. He’s a great guy, you’ll like him. You’ll get to meet your brother and sister, too.”

That's a part Elisabeth hadn't really thought to talk about very much. Aurora gapes at him. "I gots a brother and sister??" She looks accusingly at her mother. "Do they like to play hide-and-seek?" she asks her father. "Where do they live?"

Shaking her head on a chuckle, Liz perches on the edge of the bed. "Wow, pixie… you been saving all these up? Uhm… No, I don't plan on making my hair dark again. And … I don't really know if I'll go back to the clubs. But maybe…" She looks uncertainly at Richard. "I don't really know what the hel— heck I'm going to do when we get back to New York. I was… expecting to stay at Dad's place. I'm assuming you got rid of my apartment. But given that my mom's come with us and I'm gonna have to explain to Dad about his missing memories and shi—" She stops talking, and Aurora's eyes flit between them uneasily. Elisabeth smiles at the little girl. "It's just a lot. It'll be all settled before we leave here, though, okay?"

"Okay." Having learned to eat whatever was available when it was available over the past couple of years, Aurora doesn't seem in the slightest picky when she starts eating. But she does watch the two of them thoughtfully while she packs in the food — it's gotta be a hollow leg.

“They live with your Aunt Harmony,” Richard explains with a smile, shaking his head, “They’re your half-sister and brother, really, but you’ll love them. They love hide and seek. Especially Ricky.”

A brow crooks up, then, as he gives Elisabeth a bemused look, “I mean, anything you want to, really. Take your time before deciding anything, you don’t need to get a job immediately or anything like that, I mean, Christ, you just got back to this dimension.”

Elisabeth offers him an amused expression. "Love? Dimension-hopping doesn't stop folks from needing to eat," she points out on a chuckle. "I won't rush or anything, but I definitely need to think about it." She wrinkles her nose at him. "I don't think I want to build a music career from scratch again, though. The rest…" She shrugs slightly. "I'm going to have to be self-sufficient pretty quickly," she points out, tipping her chin toward Aurora. "I know you and Dad will do everything you can, but…" She appears to be seeking out a polite phrasing. "Dad's retired and Dessa never really said what exactly you were doing. She said something about a business, but…" She clears her throat. "I wasn't sure how long she'd be there so I was kind of busy cramming her head full of things I needed her to take back to you… and well, asking her to tell me about you seemed rude." Liz smiles slightly.

“Oh, well…” Richard’s lips twitch a bit, and she can tell that he’s trying not to grin as he leans back a little on the bed, resting his weight on both hands, feet on the floor still, “I mean, it depends on where you want to live, I suppose. Your dad still has his cabin if you want privacy, in the city… well, I suppose we could find some space for you in the corporate apartment complex. Or I could buy you a house if you want one, although honestly the apartments are more secure, what with the bulletproof windows and state of the art security systems, and the defensive fence around our complex…”

One hand comes up, rubbing his chin as he looks towards the ceiling, “I mean, if you want to get a job at the grocery store or something I suppose I can’t stop you, but the paparazzi would get annoying after awhile.”

There is a long moment of silence while she digests what he's said. "Sweetheart, mummy's gonna go quiet." Aurora looks up from her muffins, surprised, and then nods. "Okay, mummy." It doesn't appear to be anything that worries the little girl.

The silence field that snaps into place is above her head and Elisabeth looks back at Richard. "A… corporate complex?" Because Aurora doesn't care to hear all this anyway, but it lets them have a few minutes to talk in private while not making him leave the vicinity of his daughter. She hasn't missed that he's watching her every move, soaking in the sense of the child. "Sounds like Odessa left a few pertinent details out. But to be fair…." She smiles slightly, "I felt like asking her to talk about you and what you were doing was maybe twisting a knife." She's obviously very aware of Odessa's feelings. "Why is there bulletproof glass? Why are there paparazzi?"

She eyes his body language and mutters in a vaguely disgruntled tone despite the expression of amusement that still lingers, "You're enjoying this entirely too much. Seriously."

Yes, Richard absolutely is, as he grins back at her in that irrepressibly roguish way that he has.

“Welllll….” He draws it out, eyebrows lifting a little, “Raytech Industries may be a billion-dollar corporation, and I may be the CEO, and I may be incredibly powerful and influential and rich?”

He shrugs slightly, as if it were no big deal, “Detroit’s where most of our industrial facilities are, but most of the executive board works out of the New York Safe Zone these days— admittedly, it’s largely nostalgia. I’ve always been a New York boy at heart, so we’re helping rebuild.”

Lowering herself to sit on the edge of the bed with him, Elisabeth is literally rendered speechless. The shock might be considered insulting even, if it weren't for the fact that they both know exactly how far he had to go from where he was when she disappeared. "Oh," she says in a faint voice. The suspicious bad thoughts hit first — the Institute, the machine that shoved them into time in the first place, the wasteland.

Unsure how to handle this information, she looks toward Aurora. She starts to say something and clearly catches it just before it escapes her lips as she presses them tightly together. Shoving a hand through her hair, she can't help the soft chuckle. "Jesus fucking Christ." Her blue eyes come back up to his face and she can't help the grin at his glee at fucking with her. "Well…. At least you know I don't love you for your money?" she offers gamely.

“It’s true, I used to live in a ruined library,” Richard admits with a low chuckle, shaking his head in open amusement, “We’re… yeah, though, money isn’t a problem. We laid low during the war, came out strong afterwards— I got the family together, we leveraged our resources, made it work. The government keeps an eye on us because of Ezekiel, but…”

He shrugs one shoulder, “We’re doing pretty well for ourselves. Your father heads up our legal department. We’re building a hydroponics facility for the Safe Zone right now, mostly we sell patents and such that Warren’s developed.”

Her… father heads up his legal department. Elisabeth couldn't look more pole-axed if you slapped her in the face. "Wow." It's all she can think to say. "I think… I could really use a good rundown on your last few years," she admits. "There are … a lot of things I need to tell you about too."

She looks at him, offering a bit of a smile. "I met your father. The Natazhat explosion changed what Ezekiel became. My dad and I are originally from Flood." She shrugs slightly. "Those might be the most shocking bits, I think. I don't think they compete with the 'ohhai, by the way, I'm rich' but…"

“Are you? That’s two more of the sixteen, then…” Richard trails off, his smile fading a bit at the mention of his father. He glances away, shaking his head before looking back, “Well, hopefully he was better than this world’s David Cardinal.”

His attention drifts back to his daughter, watching her mime-feed her stuffed dog with a bit of muffin before eating it herself, “The last few years… well. All hell broke loose after the Ark fell. They started gunning down the kids escaping from it and it was caught on videotape… that interview that you gave Russo? He aired it. It was the match that struck a blaze that all that child-murdering was the fuel for. Rioting, then civil war. Humanis didn’t go down easy, even fired off a few nukes. New York City was already fucked, Peter and Sylar exploded each other on top of it.”

He looks back to her, “Dad had set us up a bunker in the midwest, near Kansas City, and we laid low there for the war. The family, a few others and their loved ones. Ran a radio station, sent out morale broadcasts.”

As she listens, Elisabeth is glad she put the silence field in place. Aurora definitely had no need to hear all that. "Jesus fucking Christ…." Pondering her thoughts for a few moments, not missing who he called 'Dad,' she tries to decide which point to ask or talk about first.

"Well… David saved my life, in the Virus world. Helped us escape. He… the you there never got over being pissed off at him," she finally says. "Dave asked me a lot about you. I don't… know what your mother may tell you about him in her world, but… I think the one who was really your father very much loved his kids." She moves to get up, going to the small bureau where Aurora's small backpack sits. She pulls a single photo from inside it and brings it back to hand it to him. "It was stuck to the equipment near the portal…. I don't know why I picked it up, but… "

Elisabeth pauses. "The Virus version asked me to bring you his wedding ring. Told me to tell you he loved your mother and he was sorry that your life had gone the way it did. He died… getting me out of his world."

He can make of that what he will. She lowers herself to sit next to him again. "Brad Russo is another of the sixteen." She hadn't decided if she was going to say anything, but … "So was Isabelle Ashford." Elisabeth looks away, her eyes seeking their daughter to give him a moment to assimilate.

The photograph’s taken in hand, Richard’s expression fading to a more unreadable facade as he looks down at it while she talks. After a few moments in the silence following, he nods, lowering the photo to his thigh. “The one here knows they never had kids,” he says quietly, “Never even got married. He doesn’t want anything to do with me, just wants to be left alone, so I’m honoring that.”

If Michelle wants to talk to him, well, things may turn out different.

“I knew about Izzy,” he admits then, “And Russo. They wiped Ben’s memory of Russo, his son here in our world was killed… Charles put Izzy in the orphanage with me, to make sure I wasn’t alone.”

Though there is a lot she could add to that… now is not the time, she figures. "Each world's situation has gone… a little differently," is all Elisabeth says to that for now. "I met Ben in the Flood world. I have some pictures to give Russo, if you know where he is these days," she says absently.

"Mummy, is it ten minutes yet?" Aurora asks. It makes Liz's lips twitch and she looks at him again. "I have a ten-minute time limit on going quiet," she tells him on a laugh. "I believe our daughter is angling to get all of your attention, love." She drops the silence field, he can feel when she does it.

"Maybe you should tell her about her brother and sister and where they go to school?" she offers. "She's really excited about the idea of being able to go." Because they left Bright before the little girl ever got the chance, really. And there's wistful kind of expression too, because Elisabeth spent a great many hours with those babies before she left… and they're not babies anymore.

It’s a much better subject to focus on, and Richard latches onto it even as he flashes a grin over to Aurora. “You’re going to love it,” he tells her, reaching over with a hand for a coffee finally, even if it’s getting slightly cool now, “So, your brother and sister are Ricky and Lili. Ricky’s really energetic, he’s always running around and climbing on things. Lili’s really smart. You’ll get along great, they’ll be thrilled to meet you.”

A sip of coffee, “So, school! A friend of your mommy’s and mine runs the school, actually, her name’s Peyton. Ms. Whitney.”

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