Light At The End


elisabeth2_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Light at the End
Synopsis It's been a hell of a long tunnel.
Date April 20, 2019

Raytech Corporate Housing, Elisabeth's Apartment

Searching on and on… Always on the run.
Searching on and on… Always on the run.

Where is your home, vagabond? Where is your home when it all is done?
Can't put down roots cuz it won't last long… Everything here will all be gone.

It's not a sound he's heard since she came home, despite the fact that Jared had found and brought in a small upright piano for her from God-only-knows-where. Her sound fields are as good as ever — it can't be heard until one is 10 feet inside the apartment. And it's not a sound he's ever heard in the way he's hearing it now, her voice haunted and layered, nuanced with chords that … is she using recordings to back the piano?

She's not. But it's hard to tell until she stops playing that piece suddenly. Whatever she was doing with it, it's her power and not a backup recording. He can feel it around him, a low hum in the air that is unlike what usually can be felt in her silence fields.

There was a time that Richard would slip into the room without announcing it, but that was before she’d been through as much trauma as she had been - the door opens rather than he bypassing it entirely, and he steps inside, closing the door behind him and openly walking towards the piano and musician with a smile curving to his lips.

He stops dead once he passes the silence field, head canting to one side, brow furrowing as he listens. Once she ceases, he comments, “…guess you’ve been learning new ways to do things, lover. It’s beautiful.”

She feels him break the barrier that keeps the music from bothering any of the neighboring apartments. Elisabeth lets the last notes peter out slowly and turns on the bench to look at him. Her smile is soft. "Thanks… five years in Arthur's world was good for my power development," she agrees. A soft color flushes her cheeks, and she admits, "Eve wrote it. She made me come in to the studio to record it with her." Her eyes drift just a little away from him, down to her hands. "I made her keep my involvement in the recording of it anonymous. After she picked up an award for it, she was pissed I wouldn't let her my name on it too. It's the only thing beautiful thing I did in that world."

When she looks up, there's a wry twist to her smile. "She was one of the most sane Eves that I've known. I hope she knows …" That they got here. helps to think that she does. "It still resonates, I guess, even though we're home." The lyrics, she means.

“I’m sure she does. They were talking back and forth a lot, at the end, I think…” Richard steps along over to stand behind her, hands sliding over her shoulders and fingers gently rubbing into the muscle there, “Something about how her ability works, I guess, or maybe due to what that… thing did to her, I don’t know. So I’m sure she knows.”

A soft chuckle, and he points out impishly, “You know, they haven’t heard it on the radio here yet… and we do have an in with the local radio station…”

"Fffft," Elisabeth dismisses, leaning into the hands on her shoulders. "You know… I thought about going back into a club kind of circuit." The confession is made in a tone of skepticism. "It feels… good to sing." It always did. "But doing that feels sort of like stepping back into an undercover role. Liz Cranston was… a waitress, a mom, a singer, an audiokinetic who could use her ability to enhance a show. She was part of me, but … she lives a life where she chooses not to see. I can't do that here." She looks up at him with a sort of helpless expression, not sure she's explained it well. "Does that make any sense at all?"

“I mean, you don’t need to be her,” Richard notes, sliding both arms down around her neck and leaning down to brush a kiss to her brow, “You can be you. I mean, you’ve already topped the charts once, my little celebrity…”

Teasing, “But whatever you’re comfortable with.”

"Would it surprise you at all to know that I am not … comfortable with just about anything?" she asks ruefully. It's clearly rhetorical. Her eyes close as she rests her temple against his lips for a long moment.

"You know… the night of the cherry blossom festival, when things went sideways? I lost my shit, right there on the scene. I fought to keep people calm, but by the time I got outside… I was a wreck. That's never happened to me in a threat situation before." She doesn't mention exactly what sent her into that state — information or fixing it isn't why she mentions it. "Devi said something later that stuck with me. Her brother, I guess, used to have them… but he didn't have them until he felt safe enough to have them. I hadn't really looked at it like that."

“A panic attack,” affirms Richard, his chin tipping in a slight nod of understanding, “You’ve been through a lot, lover.” A sigh whispers over her brow, arms wrapping more fully about her, “Even before you went through all of this. We’ll work through it however you need to.”

After a moment, he notes, “I read once that PTSD was an incomplete fight-or-flight reaction, while your brain tries to keep it from happening because it’s telling you that everything is safe. Which makes sense.”

Elisabeth chuckles. "I guess it does," she acknowledges. Within the shelter of the embrace, she pauses, listening to the sound of his heartbeat so close to her. Silas's words outside the gala that night still resonate for her, as do the ones of the late priest of Our Lady of Fatima. She strokes her hand along his arms and leans her cheek on them

"I've been working on something," she offers finally. "Would you like to hear it? It's… a piece that I heard and I've been working on re-creating it by memory. I never knew who did it." Her grin up at him is brief. "Aurora hit me where I live that day at Alia's. It's just… taken me a little while." An outright offer to play for him — not play with him or to have it something they're plinking with — is hard for her. Music has always been where the gentler inner Self lives, and she's always been guarded with that.

“Of course,” Richard agrees easily enough, leaning back, hands sliding along her neck and shoulders in a gentle touch before he steps to one side, glancing to the piano and then to her, “When did you hear it…?”

He drags over a chair to sit down, settling in, “The song, I mean.”

Swiveling on the bench, Elisabeth tries to remember. "Must have been… I don't know exactly. Somewhere maybe a year or two before we started jumping again. '16, maybe?" She glances at him and shrugs. "I bought the sheet music, but …" Like everything else, it was left behind.

Her fingers play across the keys, and she starts picking out a tune. She has no idea if the piece of music was ever done in this world, what with a civil war and all — it's not exactly something she thought to check. "It was released the same year Eve did 'Vagabond,' I think." At first, the clear piano notes are alone, unenhanced by the undercurrent of her power that he felt when he first slipped in. She plays through the intro, letting her power fill the gaps in piano notes with appropriate chords.

Do you see the light … At the end of the tunnel … Flickering for you?
If you hold on tight … You'll come out of the rubble … Stronger than you knew

It’s hard to find the will to fight
When all you can do is survive
But it’s waiting on the other side

It’s gonna get better one day … The pain is gonna fade away
If you just hang on a little longer, hang on a little longer
If you got hell to pay … Your miracle is on its way
If you just hang on a little longer
Hang on a little longer1

She plays, and Richard listens; hands folding between his knees as he leans forward, listening to her, watching her face as she plays. A smile curves faintly to his lips, a bit sad all the same, and he nods to himself as he listens to the lyrics.

Why exactly it resounded with her doesn’t need explanation.

The soft notes underlying the piano swell slightly louder, her eyes closed as she brings the chords from memory. Where her voice was uncertain in those first lines, he can see her expression easing as she moves more confidently into the second verse. That minor in music in college, the one that she cannot remember anymore, it carried her through teaching in a high school and singing for herself … but those years away? They've matured what was an amateur skill on the Liberty release into a voice with the range and depth of a professional. And in this case, she allows the emotions behind it all to be seen. Because it's him.

If you got hell to pay … Your miracle is on it’s way
If you just hang on a little longer … Hang on a little longer

Do you see the light… at the end of the tunnel… flickering for you?

It's only as she hits the last lines and the music slows to once again be a soft piano and just her voice that her blue eyes open and she looks at him. She pulls her top lip in to wet it, now — as silly as it sounds — NOW she's nervous again. Not while she was playing, but as she looks at him, letting the song speak for her.

As the music fades, Richard reaches out from his seat - hand sliding over hers, fingers curling about her own. He offers her a gentle smile, saying softly, “I’m glad you hung on a little longer. I wish I could’ve gotten you back sooner, but… well, you know how it went.”

“I’m just glad you’re back, lover.”

He grins, then, “And you absolutely could have a career as a singer if this police thing falls through.”

"You're totally biased," Elisabeth points out with a smile, twining her fingers into his and holding on. "Besides… there'll be even more paparazzi and publicity then." With a grimace, she wrinkles her nose. "It's gonna be bad enough working for the PD." She doesn't sound exactly bothered; more, there's just a kind of reluctance. She never was exactly comfortable with that kind of being in a spotlight. It's a lot easier to perform than to let them really see you.

She looks down at their twined hands. Her thumb traces over his knuckles, then she looks up at him.

"Right… so I've seen a lot of things while we traveled. Not the least of which were overlays of things. And you don't have to answer now or even, like, in the next few months or anything! I know you must think I'm out of my mind or something, and there's a hell of lot of talking about this that we might need to do." She's blurting again. It's becoming a Thing! "But the answer to your question is yes. I think it's yes. I mean… that yes, I think maybe it actually was a proposal. If you want to think about such a thing. We're still never going to fit picket fences and shit. But…" She trails off, because there are about 500 words that want to come pouring out justifying the fact that she just let those words loose.

Maybe she should just go back to dimension-hopping, it's a hell of a lot less terrifying to face death than to admit to emotional things!

“I may be biased, but that’s never stopped me from pointing out when you were fucking up before,” Richard observes with a grin, brows raising a little, “I seem to recall we had some serious knock-down fights back in the day… you’re right about the publicity, though.”

He looks down at their hands as well, watching her thumb trace the path over his uneven knuckles, then looks back up to her as she speaks. His expression softens at first, but as she goes on (and on) he can’t help but grin, then laugh, holding his hand up.

“Easy. Easy, you don’t need to keep going,” he assures her, shoulders shaking, “Just breathe, Liz.”

His laughter elicits a fit of soft giggles. "Well shit. It's not nice to laugh at a woman who is scared shitless that she's about to really stick her foot in it, you know." Elisabeth never lets go of the hand that's clasping his, though it tightens briefly. She rolls her eyes at him, grateful that … well, he's laughing at least. Way better than looking panicked and poofing into shadows and disappearing, right? Right!

“Oh, pft,” Richard grins broadly, eyebrows raising, “I mean, I don’t know though. You didn’t even ask with a ring, I mean, a guy’s gotta have his standards here… no ring, no roses, I didn’t even get dinner.”

His free hand rubs at his chin, “I mean, I guess I did get serenaded, so that counts for something…”

Taken aback, Elisabeth gets a comical look of gobsmacked on her face. And then she splutters, starting to laugh harder. "Hey… you got serenaded and there's definitely sex involved. But do you really want that much food in the house right now?" she asks him, deep rose suffusing her features. "You ass," she murmurs affectionately.
“Oh, wait, there’s sex involved?” Richard is still teasing her, terribly, “Well, that might change my mind, I mean, you always were pretty good at that…” His brows raise upwards, and he muses, “I suppose I did have enough to eat tonight… hm, let me think about it…”

Now that's he's got her back from the edge of 'oh shit, what am I doing' panic, Elisabeth just shakes her head at him. There's a moment where she's just still giggling. Then a sort of almost-shy 'oh wait a minute' flickers across her expression. Tugging her hand free gently, she reaches for the chain around her neck — the one she's worn since she arrived. She never takes it off. "Well… " Her grin is a little hesitant as she slides it over her head and holds it aloft. The simple gold wedding band glints next to the saints' medallion and the pressed penny.

Slipping it off the chain, she holds it out on the palm of her hand. "Small differences in the worlds … he loved her for all the years they held him in Level 5. And he loved his son. He hoped… knowing that would mean something." It's meant enough to her that she's held onto it through four timelines.

The chain is watched with a bemused expression, and then as she offers the ring out, Richard’s eyes widen ever so slightly. He half-lifts his hand, lowers it, then raises it again to reach out and lift the ring.

Silent as he regards it for a long moment, and then he looks up to her, dark eyes meeting hers for a long moment.

“Yes,” he says then, simply and in one word.

It doesn't seem she was expecting him to actually answer in the affirmative. "Really?" Pulling in a quick breath, trying to hear over the thudding of her heart in her ears, Elisabeth raises both her eyebrows. "You're not just humoring me? Cuz… you found out I'm gonna disappear again or something, are you? I mean… I was dead and all, and I'd understand if you wanted to think about it, and … well, we haven't even had a knock-down fight yet so what if we do and you don't want to make up this time??" When the hell did she turn into a babbler? She's kicking herself mentally even as she asks questions she has to know are ridiculous.

As she asks that rapid-fire series of questions, Richard pushes himself up from his seat and steps in closer. One hand comes up, curves to the line of her jaw, tilts her head up, and he leans down to shut her up with his own mouth.

It’s worked before, it should work this time too.

It works beautifully. The touch of his lips to hers brings a quick indrawn breath and her body relaxes under his touch. Her hands come up to rest on his chest as returns it lingeringly. It appears his talent for short-circuiting those reactions is entirely intact. As he pulls back just slightly, she murmurs against his lips, "Wow. Who needs anxiety meds when you're around?" Leaning up to kiss him again, Elisabeth lets his touch keep her anchored to the here and now.

This time there’s a low chuckle that spills over her lips before he returns that kiss, nose rubbing to hers as he leans back a bit, Richard’s gaze hooded as he looks down at her.

“Yes,” he murmurs lowly, “I’ll marry you, Elisabeth Harrison. I mean, I did rip the universe I half trying to get you, so I don’t know why you’d be questioning me now.”

"Don't think that's going to win future arguments," Liz teases softly, blue eyes amused as she looks up at him. She points out, "We ripped open four of them so I could come home to you."

She reaches up to touch his face and admits quietly, "We deserve happy for a while. If we string enough of those whiles together, it almost looks like happy ever after." And if she doesn't quite believe she deserves it? Well, those are her own demons to fight. "I love you, Richard Cardinal." A beat. "Even though you call yourself Richard Ray now," she teases with a roll of her eyes.

The smile slips briefly at the mention of happy ever after — he knows better, can see the horizon — but then her next words restore it warmly. “Yeah, well,” he says softly, “I love you too, Liz. But we’re not having one of those gauche celebrity weddings, even if we have to elope to avoid them.”

Richard’s brows raise slightly, then, and he asks innocently, “So how much weight is this piano rated to hold, anyway?”

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License