My Wayward Son


ff_chel_icon.gif richard4_icon.gif

Scene Title My Wayward Son
Synopsis After the Battle of Detroit, Michelle Cardinal comes clean to her son about a secret.
Date March 3, 2020

To say it’s been a long month is a cruel joke.

It’s raining when Richard Ray finally returns to the Safe Zone. His plane touches down at Floyd-Bennet Airfield just after dusk, and the lights of the city glitter wetly against the rain streaking down the window beside his seat. Disembarking and getting into the waiting Altum felt like it took forever, especially with all of the additional security layers in place.

The drive up to Jackson Heights from the absolute ass-end of the Safe Zone took close to an hour with traffic and construction. The dark of night doesn’t allow for much scenery, through there’s more city lights than he remembered on this route. Progress carves an inexorable path through time, and maybe eventually the Safe Zone will be whole again.

By the time Richard arrives at Raytech’s headquarters it’s just after 6 in the evening, the early sunset in winter hours is still throwing him off even months later. His Altum pulls up to the front door where he’s greeted by Raytech security and escorted into the building. Sera has gone home for the day, leaving the lobby empty save for armed security and whirring cameras.

The events of the last week feel like a nauseating blur. Everything that happened in Detroit, the fallout, it’s all so much static in his head that keeps any one thought from really landing. Richard doesn’t remember the walk from the lobby to his apartment door — not his home, not the one he shares with Elisabeth — but his privacy bubble. A place he can be alone. Because right now, more than ever, he just needs a fucking minute to decompress.

Richard slaps his proximity card against the door and it unlocks, but as he steps in he’s immediately aware that something is wrong. The lights are on. He doesn’t use the lights. That’s when he sees his mother sitting in the living room on the couch, holding a picture frame in her hands, turning tired eyes up to the door when Richard shuts it.

How long had she been waiting here for him?

Raytech Industries NYCSZ Branch Office
Executive Housing

March 8th
6:37 pm


A shocked question falls from Richard’s lips, as if maybe it wasn’t here but just someone who looked like her. Or a dream, a hallucination— but it’s clearly her, still, sitting there on his couch.

The door’s pushed closed behind him, head twisting to briefly sweep the rest of the room, checking the corners as if there might be someone there with a gun. Then he’s moving forward, brow furrowed, “Are you alright? Jesus, I’ve been so worried, I thought some of those— bastards had taken you somehow— “

There’s a momentary look from Michelle, followed by a slow shake of her head in the negative. She looks down to her lap, breathes in deeply, then exhales a slow sigh through her nose. “No I— took some time off. I didn’t realize things would be…” she closes her eyes and rests her hands against the cushions of the couch. “I’m sorry, I should’ve waited.”

It’s clear something is on Michelle’s mind. From her tense posture to the weird vibe in the air. The fact that she’s in her son’s apartment waiting for him. When she finally opens her eyes, it looks like she’s just going to up and leave the couch entirely, but stops herself halfway into rising. “This can wait, if you’re— with everything— ” she fails to find the right words, hovering in a half-sitting, half-standing purgatory.

“What? No, don’t be fucking ridiculous, I…” Richard holds up a hand as if to keep her from rising, stepping closer, “You’re my mother. My family always, always takes priority over everything else.”

That’s the Ray in him speaking, apparently. Family unto death (of half the planet if needed).

“What happened? You didn’t even leave a note, you just vanished, even security didn’t know where you went…”

Chel looks up at Richard then closes her eyes and sighs, settling down on the couch again. Reaching inside her jacket pocket, Michelle pulls out a pack of cigarettes and knocks one out into her hand, then sets the pack down on the middle of the coffee table in front of her.

“David came to see me,” Michelle says, ripping that bandaid off as she produces her electric lighter from another pocket. She looks up to Richard as she lights the cigarette, then takes a quick drag off of it. When she speaks again, it is with a cloud of smoke rolling off her tongue. “He showed up at the greenhouse, at my office. He was scared, in a lot of trouble, but…”

Chel slowly shakes her head and looks down to the floor. “…he knew I was here. Knew how to find me.”

David?” Richard straightens up sharply, and it’s clear the name doesn’t exactly fill him with relief - or pleasant feelings of any caliber. “Mazdak broke him out of prison, mom, the same people who murdered me— Dave didn’t want anything to do with us. And the greenhouse? How did he even get in? He didn’t— he didn’t hurt you, did he?”

It’s clear he’s immediately running through the worst possibilities here.

Michelle looks exasperated, but also tempers that down to patient. She also, notably, doesn’t look surprised. “He told me about all the Mazdak stuff,” she says with a shake of her head. “Richard, he’s as scared of all that as you are and— how d’you think a man like him might react to us after everything he’s been through. Did you know he was kidnapped by Edward? Had his ability torn out of him?”

Realizing she’s raising her voice, Chel quiets and threads a lock of hair behind one ear. “Richard he didn’t have anything to do with your kidnapping. They took him from that prison, they tried to fill his head with some weird religious bullshit, and then they dumped him on the street outside of what’s left of Pittsburgh.

Sighing, Chell wipes at both of her eyes with her thumbs simultaneously. “He didn’t hurt me. He wanted to talk. They told him about me, how to find me, said he deserved to know the truth. He was homeless, scared, and on the run. What was I supposed to do?” Her voice cracks there, jaw trembling. “Christ, Richard. What was I supposed to do?”

At the sign of actual emotion from his mother about this, Richard ducks his head with a grimace, one hand lifting to scrub over the back of his neck. “I don’t know. As much as I want to say ‘what he did when I showed up on his doorstep’ I know that’s just anger talking,” he admits quietly.

A breath’s drawn in, “It doesn’t make any sense, though, given that Mazdak— anyway. Anyway. I’m talking— I’m talking over you. Sorry. What’d you do?”

Chel closes her eyes and shakes her head, bringing one hand up to her brow. “We left,” she says somewhat exasperatedly. “I— wasn’t thinking straight. Intellectually I know he’s not— but— ” she fumbles over her words in a way that is totally unlike her, as Richard has come to know her anyway.

“We left the city, he didn’t— I took my car and we left. We just drove.” Chel brings a hand up and wipes at one of her eyes, then looks back down to her lap. “Richard, he was so scared and confused. I— we talked. A long time. Found a place to park and we just… “ she closes her eyes and sighs.

“I told him everything. The Ark, Looking Glass, all of it.” Chel slouches forward and rests her head in her hands. “He said they’d told him I was alive, but not how. He told me about… a lot of things. When I called out of work last week, that’s where I was. Near Albany. With your— ” father doesn’t get said, but she feels it. “With David.”

Richard steps over to finally sit, easing down across from her, forearms resting on his knees and hands clasping together as he listens.

A breath’s drawn in slowly, and exhaled as he tries to calm down all his thoughts— paranoia being one of the other things that runs in the family alongside megalomania, perhaps— and nods a little.

“At least you were— safe. I got word of you missing in the middle of the attack on Detroit,” he says quietly, “That was probably intended, honestly. They wanted me to feel overwhelmed.”

After a moment, he shakes his head, “At least you were able to— talk to someone.”

Chel nods, drawing in a deep breath and almost laying a hand on Richard’s shoulder before thinking twice about it. She remembers the warnings.

“He’s a lot like your father,” Chel says in a tone of voice that borders on a whisper. “There’s differences, he couldn’t fool me if he tried. He’s sadder. But it’s like… the person David was? He’s still in there, buried under the weight of all those years dealing with my death.”

Looking down to her lap, Chel folds her hands for lack of anywhere else to put them. “He feels terrible about what happened between you two, but he never felt comfortable reaching out again. Then… then things went out of control. He told me about the Institute, the Renautas girl, Caspar.” Shaking her head, Chel hunches forward and rakes her fingers through her hair.

Richard bites back on the venom that’s his first reaction, and simply nods. “He’s a fugitive,” he notes quietly, “Technically. Not that it matters much, God knows I haven’t turned in several people myself recently, but…”

A heavy sigh, and he shakes his head, “And he could’ve picked up a phone instead of going to work for the people who wanted me dead.”

Okay, a little bit of that venom slipped out.

Chel exhales a sigh through her nose, looking up to Richard. “He didn’t know who he was working for, still doesn’t. All he knew was some girl named Kyla who tracked him down and was his intermediary. And— and I know he’s a fugitive. That’s why he didn’t come back with me.”

There’s something else Chel isn’t saying, but it feels like she’s circling around whatever it is, getting closer each time she talks. She looks like she wants to reach out, to put a hand on Richard’s shoulder, but she knows better. Was warned.

“They did something to him, Richard.” Chel says with a tightness in the back of her throat. “The people who took him out of the prison. Before they dumped him in Pittsburgh, he says there was a time when he was blacked out. That they drugged him somehow. It was after all the religious things they kept talking to him about, they offered him a water and it just…”

Chel sighs, looking down to her feet and shaking her head. “When he came to see me. You asked how he got in the greenhouse?” She looks back up to her son, troubled. “They did something to him before they dumped him in Pittsburgh. He— he has an ability. He can walk through walls, move like a ghost. Some kind of phasing.”


“Christ.” Richard brings both hands up, sunglasses pulled off and gloved palms rubbing over his face, “They put him through a Gemini process. Did they really have that many… nngh, well, what’s done is done.”

“So long as it was just the one ability, he should be fine,” he says quietly, reassuringly as he looks back over to her, “If it was more than one, he’s proper fucked, but I doubt they wasted that many resources on him. It’s permanent, as far as we can tell, but we don’t have any long-term data.”

Richard’s reaction elicits a focused look from Michelle, which given her usual demeanor is always cause for concern. “You know what they did to him?” She’s afraid to ask, and Richard can see the hesitance in his mother’s eyes. “What— what is it? Do we have anything on file that I— that I could look at?”

Chel leans closer. “What do you mean proper fucked?” She looks her son up and down, trying to restrain herself from just spitting more questions out. Still, one more slips through. “What did they do to him?”

Richard holds up one hand palm forward. “Easy, easy…” He draws in a slow breath, gathering his thoughts so he can try to explain in a way that won’t have his mother’s hypercognitive brain asking him ten million more questions.

“We don’t know exactly how the Gemini process works, not yet. We know it involves artificial transferral of an ability from one person to another, normally from an Evolved subject to an unEvolved subject.”

He never got a hang of the ‘SLC positive/negative’ words for things. That’s why a PR person goes over his press releases.

“It seems to be stable and safe with a single ability, but if you try and use it to make an artificial mosaic the body chemistry of the subject starts to… break down at the genetic level. There are drugs you can take to help deal with it, but it’s a temporary solution. The only known survivor of Project Umbra seems to have taken multiple abilities safely, but we still don’t know how they pulled Umbra off - and with Adam gone, I don’t think we have any way to replicate it. Unless another alpha-level regenerator shows up.”

“If it’s just the one ability, though— he should be fine, but I’d do bloodwork at least once a year to keep an eye on it. Like I said, we don’t have any long-term studies, Praxis went straight into application from theory.”

“Jesus Christ,” Chel says with one hand over her mouth, her eyes drifting away from Richard to scan the table in front of her. Her mind races, a mile a minute, and Richard can see the fast-twitch movement of her eyes hitting a speed that isn’t something most people do.

After just a moment something snaps Michelle out of that reverie. “This sounds like Project Icarus,” she says in a soft voice, flicking her focus up to her son. “Nazi research, from World War II. The former head of the DoEA, Arthur Petrelli, had us dedicating some research on it back before the flood. Back before he…” she waves one hand in the air.

“There was a project I was privy to back in 2007, a gene therapy program Arthur had started, called Prometheus. It was designed to transfer the abilities of Evolved away from them to other hosts. Maybe this— maybe they’re related?” Michelle wonders.

“There were two scientists on the project,” Chel’s eyes flick from side to side, “siblings.” Her blue eyes flick up to Richard. “Mohinder and Shanti Suresh.”

Richard leans back a bit, drawing in a slow breath and exhaling it. “Icarus existed here, too,” he says quietly, “Arthur continued it, the Company eventually came up with a method of artificially giving people abilities, just called it the Formula. Adam Monroe was involved in Icarus, so I’m not surprised that he decided to explore more branches of it once he took over Praxis. It sounds similar.”

He leans his head back, looking up at the ceiling, “Shanti’s dead - there’s a virus named after her, in this string they weren’t able to save her. Mohinder we have in a safehouse right now, he keeps trying to turn himself back in to the government out of guilt for some of the shit that he was involved with.”

His chin dips back forward, and he admits, “You would’ve had access to all this information, but you said you didn’t want to really— be involved in any of that anymore, so I was respecting your wishes there.”

“It’s fine,” Chel says with a slow shake of her head, running one hand through her hair as she takes a long drag off of her cigarette with a shaky hand. “Christ,” she says with a sharp exhalation of breath. “If they did this to him, if— he can’t go to a normal hospital, not with everything hanging over his head.”

Michelle looks down to the pack of cigarettes on the table, leans forward and shakes out halfway out and offers it out to Richard. “Do you know anyone who does genetics work on the side I could take him to? Someone discreet?”

“I don’t think ‘genetics work on the side’ is a… is a thing, mom,” Richard replies dubiously as he reaches out to accept one of the cigarettes. He trusts her not to tell Liz he’s been smoking again.

Technically the whole building is non-smoking but what’re they going to do, throw the CEO or his mother out?

“I’ll tell you what, if you can convince Mohinder Suresh to stop trying to martyr himself and let me set him up an off-the-books lab somewhere, he’s all yours,” he says, and as much as the words sound like a joke, his tone and intent is absolutely serious, “He’s legitimately the single prominent expert on Evolved genetics the world has, but Mazdak’s trying to kill him and he keeps trying to go back to jail.”

Chel presses her tongue to the inside of her cheek, brows knit together in thought. “I might have a couple ways,” she says, fishing out her lighter and handing it over to Richard. “You just tell me where he is and I’ll figure out the rest.”

One of Chel’s legs is jittering now, just bouncing up and down on the ball of her feet to make her knee shake. “Your— David. David will— I don’t think you know how much this’ll mean to him.” She says with a worried tightness in her throat. “I know Mohinder.” She hesitates. “Knew.” That still feels weird to her. “I might be able to reach out to him, figure out… something.”

“Mohinder’s a good man,” Richard says quietly, accepting the lighter - he presses the button, lips twitching in a smile as a bit of plasma crackles to life on it. He lights up, then takes a long drag on the cigarette. The lighter’s passed back over as he exhales smoke, admitting, “He just trusted the wrong people, and he’ll forever damn himself for it. Unfortunately, the government agrees, but…”

He shrugs one shoulder, “I don’t really care what they think.”

Looking across to his mother, he breathes out a sigh, “I’ll do what I can to help him. If he’ll accept it. He never wanted anything to do with me before.”

“If a stranger walked in that door and said he was a son you never had, and you weren’t the open-minded conspiracy man you are, you might be a bit spooked too.” Chel says with a furrow of her brows. “Give him another chance, Richie. He’s a good man, but he’s trusted the wrong people.” She gives her son a sort of smug Mom smile, then snuffs out the last of her cigarette in the ashtray.

“If all this goes well I… might need to take some time off of work.” Chel admits after a moment, looking away from Richard. “I want to help him. If Doctor Suresh is willing, if you’re willing to take that risk of harboring him, I’m not going to be able to focus on much else. Maybe I can… maybe we could find a cure for whatever this is.”

That’s when the open-minded conspiracy man’s stomach twists a little.

Was this part of the design?

There’s no doubt in Richard’s mind, in that moment, that it is. A brilliant move, weaponizing an otherwise useless pawn and moving him to take a queen from the board… and in a way that it’s impossible for him to refuse.

How could he do that to his mother, after all?

He draws in a slow breath… and then exhales it, closing his eyes. “Of course,” he says quietly, trying not to let any of that show, “I— do you think there’s enough work done on the process of determining superstring deviance that they can finish it without you? I know we were about at the prototyping stage, at least you’d said we could build one for the Kadath project before the government moved in ahead of us…”

“Maybe?” Chel doesn’t sound as confident about it. “Probably.” Sounds like something she’s saying to make Richard worry less. “The problem isn’t whether we can fabricate a prototype, it’s whether it works. The problems we’re running into are on two axes; portability vs. accuracy and accuracy vs. range.”

Hands on her knees, Chel pushes herself up to stand. Richard’s done the only thing he can do to keep her from stressing a hole into another universe: he’s asked her a work-related question. Firing on all cylinders, Chel just sort of slips into a scientific reverie.

“The prototype we build is going to need to land somewhere on each axis, and the middle of all of them isn’t an option that will benefit you at all.” Chel explains. “Right now my vote is for something stationary that we can bring people and objects to in order to test them and build data points. If we try to go portable now, we’re going to get all manner of false positives and negatives.”

Chel pauses her pacing, snapping her attention to Richard. “The bigger problem is the level of detail we need to get. In order to detect the atomic vibrations that exist on a quantum level that we’re looking for, we need to be able to examine samples on a subatomic level. The materials for those kinds of sensors are incredibly expensive. We’re effectively building a type of electromagnetic calorimeter, and the components for that are…”

Sighing, Chel threads a lock of blonde hair behind one ear. “The theoretical work is done.” She finally answers his question. “Assembly of something even remotely reliable will cost a prohibitive amount of money and… I don’t know if our fabrication labs are enough to handle it. We can hope but.” She shakes her head again. “What we’re looking for is in the realm of particle physics.”

“You couldn’t’ve sent a higher fidelity signal with those satellite schematics, could you, Zeke?” The words are muttered under Richard’s breath; as corrupted as the files were, they weren’t any good to them at all, it seemed. Another dead end in a long series of dead ends he’d been running down.

“While I’m sure I could convince the government to toss funding my way, I don’t know that I want to trust them with this,” he admits with a grimace, leaning back, “We’ll have to wait until the industrial facilities are up and running in a year or two, and hope a whole pile of discretionary funds falls into my lap in the meanwhile.”

“And hope that we don’t have any more overlay incidents. I’d even settle for a stationary unit, but if that’s not possible at the current time…” Another dead end. He sighs, “Well, we tried at least.”

“Maybe this is another opportunity for a partnership with Yamagato Industries?” Chel wonders. “The greenhouse looked expensive. Maybe not particle physics expensive, but…” she looks down to the floor, then back to Richard. “They haven’t given us a reason not to trust them yet, have they?”

“They haven’t, and… I do have some connections there,” Richard admits, one hand coming up to rub at the curve of his jaw as he looks to one side, as if in the direction of something unseen, “Kimiko might even be willing to approve it herself, and she’d understand the need to keep it quiet…”

A heavy sigh, his head shaking, “I just wish we could do this ourselves. Why do all my enemies end up with an unlimited budget, it feels like? I know, I know, it’s because they’re willing to be immoral dicks to make money. I’ll talk to Yamagato.”

“It’s always easier to get rich when you don’t care about how you do it, or who you hurt along the way.” Chel says with as much of a smile as she can manage. “Talk to Yamagato, see what they think. I’m… I’m going to try and figure out what to do with— with David.”

Running a hand through her hair, Chel looks shaky. “He can’t come to the city, too many chances of him getting caught. Staten Island is crawling with military police now.” She considers for a moment, then looks over to Richard. “Have you heard of Providence? Down in New Jersey? Is that… safe?”

Provi— “ Richard cuts himself off and sucks in a breath, moving to push himself up to his feet suddenly and heading towards the kitchenette, “…okay, I’m— I’m going to need something to drink to finish this conversation, I can tell.”

The liquor cabinet is located and he pulls out a bottle, cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth as he pours himself a glass of scotch. Screwing the cap back on, he pulls the cigarette away and exhales a sigh of carcinogenic smoke, “…so Providence is under the protection of the people who were murdering our security people while we brought you and the others through from the Flooded Earth. They’ve chilled out a bit since then, but if they find out you’re the one who invented it they might still put a bullet in your head, so if you’re determined to go live down there, you might want to keep that under wraps.”

He looks back over, “Doctor Miller had some facilities he was operating down there, and they were complex enough for him to build - and purposefully fuck up - a bioweapon for Praxis, so if they’re still intact do you think they’d be sufficient for you and Mohinder to work on this?”

Chel’s expression shifts from “oh” to “uh” and around to “huh” so fast it’s like she had something that tasted weird in her mouth. Once she’s taken a moment to consider the layers of implications, all Chel can do is sigh and look a little overwhelmed.

“I was mostly thinking of David living down there. I… I don’t think I should. Could. But he needs somewhere remote. I’ve kept my secrets about the Looking Glass from more invested parties, though. That said, I… I don’t think I should be working there, if there’s a chance these marauding luddites get wind of what I’m doing. Worse if Mohinder is involved and they don’t take kindly to his criminal history.”

Running a hand through her hair, Chel sits forward and rests her elbows on her knees, hands folded in front of her. “How about this,” she says thoughtfully, “you let me know where to find Mohinder, I’ll have a talk with him, and we can figure out where to go from there.”

“David… yeah, he’d fit in down there actually,” admits Richard, silent for a moment as he takes another drag off his cigarette. He walks slowly back over with drink in hand, easing himself back down to sit across from her, looking a little relieved now that she’s not planning to go down to Providence herself.

“Alright. Monica’s keeping him safe right now, I’ll get you in touch, she can get you to him. We’ve been keeping the chain of custody tight, for obvious reasons.”

“Obviously.” Chel says in hushed agreement.

There’s a long span of silence between mother and son, occupied by smoking and drinking in a level that Elisabeth might blanch at. There’s been a lot of moments like these between Chel and Richard, in trying to rebuild the foundation of a mother and her son decades divided. It still feels strange, in the ways which strangers feel when they try to be more than that. The ideal of finding a long-lost son and the reality of it were different experiences. But there is something comforting about being able to share a silence with someone, and have no expectations within it.

“I’ve never had Thai food.” Chel says after that long period of quiet, after Richard has finished his drink, after his cigarette is burned down to a nub. It isn’t so much a statement as it is an opening. “Where’s good?”

Elisabeth would absolutely blanch at the smoking. Richard supposedly quit a long time ago.

As she finally breaks that silence, Richard looks up from the empty glass he’s holding and swirling the ice around in, and a faint smile curves to his lips. “No idea,” he admits, setting down the glass and moving to rise. “Let’s ask Sera.”

No matter where they end up going after that, it’s sure to be interesting.

Carry on my wayward son

Chel smiles, a small and hesitant thing, but it feels right.

For there'll be peace when you are done

"Thai roulette," she quips, her smile growing.

Lay your weary head to rest

"You're a brave man."

Forty-Three Years Earlier

Elizabeth, New Jersey

September 3rd



Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond the illusion
I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high

A radio plays its music in a quiet garage. On his back under a jet black 77 Dodge Charger, Richard Cardinal is up to his elbows in engine grease. There's a clank and a clatter of metal falling on to concrete, followed by a hiss of frustration, the clunk of a forehead hitting the undercarriage of the car, and a single screw rolling out from under the vehicle.

Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I'm dreamin', I can hear them say

"Fuck," Cardinal hisses, sliding diagonally on his back beneath the car, reaching for the screw with a grease-covered hand. He can't quite reach it, and in his stubborn frustration he hits his head a second time, followed by a much louder, "Fuck!"

Carry on my wayward son
For there'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Looking at the screw again, Cardinal shimmies down and tries to reach for it, only to see a pair of Converse sneakers come into view. He stops reaching, watching someone bend over and pick the screw up. Then, getting down on his knees a young man in his late teens or early twenties offers out the screw. "I think you dropped this."

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don't know

Richard slides out from under the car, taking the screw with a lopsided and guilty smile. The young man looks under the car, then back to Cardinal. "You're bleeding," he says with only mild concern, pointing to a scrap on Cardinal's forehead. The older man reaches up and dabs fingers there, then laughs ruefully and sits up, taking a hand from the young man in assistance.

On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about I'm like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune, but I hear the voices say

"Thanks," Cardinal says, tucking the screw in his shirt pocket. "Hey, have you had lunch yet?" The young man looks over his shoulder, out to the dusk light outside and then back to Cardinal with one brow raised. "Dinner?" Cardinal corrects sheepishly.

Carry on my wayward son
For there'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

"No, you wanna get something?" He asks Cardinal, smiling hopefully. "Because I know you're not offering to cook." Cardinal laughs in response and looks at his grimy, grease-covered hands and shrugs.

Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor
Now your life's no longer empty
Surely heaven waits for you

"Why don't we go out to eat," Cardinal offers. "I'll clean up, we'll see if your mother comes home between now and then, and we'll go check out that Chinese place Mr. Panya opened up down the street." The young man tilts his head to the side, cracking a smile.

Carry on my wayward son


For there'll be peace when you are done

"What?" Cardinal asks, looking over his shoulder.

Lay your weary head to rest

"Mr. Panya's restaurant is Thai, dad."

Don't you cry no more

"Oh, right." Cardinal says with an awkward smile.

"Thanks, Athan."


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