Mending Bridges


cardinal_icon.gif nicole4_icon.gif

Scene Title Mending Bridges
Synopsis After everything that transpired in Alaska, two people at odds decide to leave the past buried in the ground.
Date November 10, 2011

Somewhere outside Jade City, British Columbia, Canada

Click. Creak. Thump.

The front door of the cabin swings closed behind Richard Cardinal as he steps out onto it, wearing a heavy arctic coat with the hood back, goggles hung around his neck rather than up on his face since they aren't necessary just yet. It's cold but not bone-chilling, though snow still weighs upon the trees and leaves the grass blanketed pale. The porch is, at least, clean - having been regularly swept free of snow, especially the steps, given how much use they get.

And those steps are getting use.

Nicole Nichols is dressed in stark contrast to the man who's just stepped out onto the porch where she sits on the steps. She does not wear a winter coat, but just an oversized sweatshirt from Cornell (which is too warm, but it makes everyone else around her feel less concerned) and a pair of leggings tucked into combat boots. She looks up to see who's come to disrupt her solitude this time, and just stares for a long moment.

There's no anger in her eyes, though there would have been just a few months ago. Instead, she just sighs heavily and turns back to continue her stare out into the expanse, at the mountains the cabin is nestled between. "Long time no see," she quips bitterly. She knew he was with the group, but they'd managed to avoid each other with some conscious effort.

It's rather hard to keep to yourself with as many people as there are, and as little space as there is, but Richard's been trying. It was inevitable that his luck wouldn't hold up forever.

There's a silent moment - perhaps awkward - as he stares back at her, and then he nods ever so slightly. "It has," he admits, walking slowly to the top of the steps, wood creaking under his boots. He looks off into the trees, at the mountains as well. "A very long time. You doing alright?" Small talk, but there's an honesty to the question.

And there's an honesty to the answer. "No." The woman closes her eyes. Against the darkness of her lids, she sees the giant 'bot bearing down on Ryans. Her eyes open again to banish the memory with the serenity of their surroundings. The Fitzroy cabin is safe.


The ghost of a smile curves to Cardinal's lips, and he closes his eyes. His chin dips down, and he shakes his head, barely visibly. "No," he replies quietly as well. "Not even a little bit."

Then he breathes out a long sigh, "They say that if you're alive, things will get better. Not really sure they're right."

"I think if you're alive, it means you get to stick around to see things get worse." If he's done any kind of research on her - and he definitely has - he knows that Nicole is not the happiest of people even on a good day. She scoots over a little, letting her hip rest against one of the railing supports on the wide steps; they were made for people to sit and rest. "Have a seat," she murmurs, gesturing to the vacated space next to her.

"I'm sorry about…" Nicole shakes her head. It's not easy to lose someone, ever. "She was a hero."

The offer's considered for a moment, and then with a shrug Cardinal steps along over; moving to settle down, hands resting down on his knees. "She was," he says distantly, looking up at the skies. The same skies that devoured her whole, leaving not so much as a hair behind. "She always was. Over, and over and over again. She always tried to do what was right, no matter what."

Nicole nods, listening to his assessment of Elisabeth Harrison's character. She turns then to regard him fully, sympathy fully evident in her too-bright eyes. "We're all alive because of her. My sister is alive because of her." Which is sort of like saying thank you, even though he had no part in the Red Queen's decision to sacrifice herself for all of them.

"I'm glad." Cardinal draws in a slow breath, then exhales it, head turning to look back to her sidelong, "Colette's an amazing young woman. She's got a lot of life ahead of her. I hope she… makes a full recovery from all of— " He gestures vaguely northwest, "— that."

That's when Nicole finally breaks down. It's a slow moment that comes in the tightening of her face, eyes squeezing shut, nose wrinkling and corners of lips pulling downward. The first sob is quiet and not followed by a second, just a ragged gasp as she tries to keep her composure in front of this man she had every right to hate until just a moment ago. "Thank you." Part of it is relief, but part of it is that she is just so sad that someone he cared about had to die so the rest of them could live. It's so unfair.

"Don't… don't thank me," Cardinal gives his head a little shake, one hand coming up to rub his eyes briefly, his lips twisting in a tight line. "I'm just— I just hope she'll be okay. We lost too many people today. We always lose too many people. And you never get used to it." His hand drops back down, slapping against his knee as it falls there, murmuring, "So knowing one more is going to be okay, that's something."

The tears are wiped away quickly, three deep breaths steady her again. "Sorry… I just…" She shakes her head. He gets it, and she doesn't need to explain. It's her sister, the one she was willing to do anything for. Nicole reaches one hand over to rest against the top of his on his knee. Her skin is impossibly warm in spite of the chill.


There's a twitch of surprise in his hand beneath hers before it relaxes, and Richard looks down to it - then to her, and he nods slightly. "Truce," he says after a moment," offering her a faint smile finally, "We've all lost too much. Maybe it's time to move on from our old wounds in the aftermath of everything that happened today."

"I think so." Nicole deals in alliances professionally. But this is different. This just forgiving someone because it's the right thing to do. "Maybe you're not such an asshole after all," she says with a tight smile and a squeeze of her fingers, hopeful her humor will land.

"Oh," Cardinal replies with a wider twitch of his own lips, meeting her gaze, "I assure you. I am an enormous asshole sometimes."

Her expression pinches up again, but this time so she can giggle. His smile is returned with a wider one of her own, a flash of white teeth. "Aren't we all?" Colette would definitely say her elder sister has her moments.

"What're you going to do now?" That smile fades a little, because it's a serious question. She isn't sure she has the answer to it herself.

The giggle actually makes him smile, really smile, even if for just a moment. Cardinal looks back out to the mountains at her question, then, his free hand lifting up to rake back through his hair and rub against the nape of his neck. "Can't say," he admits, "Check on family. Check on… everyone else. Figure things out from there."

Nicole nods her head and follows his gaze out to the landscape. "Sounds like a good plan." She might adopt it herself. Her instinct is to stay here with Colette and ride out the storm, but somehow she knows their destiny lies in New York. And after all of this… She's sure Ryans won't want to let her out of his sight again. She isn't sure she wants him to, either. "Family's important."

"It is." Cardinal breathes out a faint chuckle, "It's funny, really. I grew up in an orphanage. Now I've… I've got almost an embarrassment of family." His hand drops back down, a thought sobering him again, "I never even got a chance to talk to Howard… don't think he even knew. The family— we didn't find each other. Not in that future."

As she collapses, Cardinal near-lunges forward to her side; down on one knee, a hand hovering just over her shoulder, though he doesn't actually touch her. "Nichols— shit, do you need— " A glance back to the door, then to her, brow furrowed in concern, "Do you need me to get one of the medics, or…?"

The snow crunches softly with the movement of her head. A shake. No. "I'll be okay. I don't want anyone to be worried." Especially not Hollis Fitzroy. "Please… don't tell anybody I lost control."

"Okay. I won't." There's a long pause, before Cardinal asks rather more dryly, "Can you actually get up out of the snow, then, because I'm going to have one hell of a time spinning 'Oh, Nicole's fine' if you're just laying in the snow."

Nicole laughs. "You can tell them I was too warm? Hollie's seen me jump in a snow bank on more than on occasion. Wouldn't be the first time." She rolls onto her back with a quiet hiss of breath, looks up at him and then… Moves her arms down over the snow to rest against her sides while her legs spread in a V and then come back together.

A snow angel.

The tension breaks when she starts laughing, albeit a little weakly, staring up at the sky now. "There." She holds up her hand, waiting for the help up.

Cardinal can't help a laugh as she sweeps a snow angle into the snow, and then - after just a moment's hesitation - he reaches down to clasp her hand and help her up, trusting he isn't about to get electrocuted again. "Up you go," he grunts as he helps her up, "You must be an Eskimo. It's cold as shit up here."

There's no shock. Not even a tingle when he clasps her hand and helps her to her feet. That gets a little more difficult each day. The next three months and change are going to be fun. "No, just Evo. Perks of the ability." She shakes some of the snow out of her hair with her fingers. "Summer is absolutely hell, though."

"I remember." A faint smile, the hint of loss there, as he helps her up to her feet. Fingers slide from hers, then, and he admits, "Can imagine. You should head inside, though, all the same… God knows if you're not in the main room for long I'm sure someone'll panic worrying about you."

"I'm sorry," she says one more time. "I can't imagine suddenly not having my ability." Even though she's spent more of her life without it than with. It's intrinsicly her now. And he's, of course, right. Everybody's concerned about her - and the other pregnant woman, Peyton - because of her condition. It's an annoyance, but one Nicole can tolerate.

As she starts to head inside, she slaps her palm against his bicep lightly. "You're not so bad after all, Cardinal. See you around."

"I've done it before. I can survive it again," Richard replies with a shrug of one shoulder, "Maybe it's the price you pay, killing your shadow."

A chuckle at her last words, and he offers, "See you around, Nichols. Keep Ryans in line, won't you?" A turn, then, heading for the rough road leading up towards the cabin, hands tucking back into the pockets of his jacket.

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