New Leases On Life


cardinal_icon.gif harmony_icon.gif

Scene Title New Leases on Life
Synopsis After his return, Cardinal heads over to where Harmony is stashed away, and is introduced to his own flesh and blood. He is faced with the most frightening thing he has ever encountered. Holding his month old kids. A slice of life to cut the present turmoil.
Date October 8th 2011 1:55AM

Harmony's Hideaway Apartment

The lights through the apartment are out, the television and a small lamp near the couch are the only sources that provide any luminescence. The TV is volumed at no more than a low murmur, and the rest of the place is dead silent. On the table in front of where she loungessideways along the couch are piles of large books, science and physics textbooks and help books for better living through things like yoga and meditation. Harmony is rather well engrossed in one of them, idly chewing on the back end of a highlighter, with a baby monitor on the table that she almost obsessively looks up at every couple of minutes. The twins are kept in the next room of course, but close enough for her to get to should anything happen.

"Harmony…" Harmony

A familiar whisper, even if it's been a long time now. Nearly half a year since that particular 'voice' has been heard, yet she surely remembers it as clearly as any other. A shadow spills across the threshold, rising up on the wall beside the television, spreading tenebrous wings in the man's usual dramatics. Despite that, there's a genuine warmth - and worry - to that voice. "It's good to see you."

The slightest noise or the first little 'coo' that comes from the speaker has Harmony on her legs, ready to spring up like a raptor, settling only when she is convinced it's ok. If she would have it her way, they would not leave her side for a moment. But she has their safety in mind with the distance. The calm and quiet night makes things easy for her to hear her name carried on a voice that is almost disembodied. Her head lifts up, and her blue eyes dart in search for the source. Faintly, and only because she was actively looking, she sees the shadows moving, and is able to make the connection in her mind. "Richard?" Harmony has a short burst of surprise and elation jumping to her feet quickly. Bare feet, and scrubs believe it or not. She's only a month after having hem, and these things are comfortable! She's not ready to jump right back into short-shorts and crop tops.

"Richard it's really you? You're not—" she can't even really finish the sentence. And before the big emotions start to gush, she presses her lips together tightly and sighs out relief instead, "Oh thank god…" It's pretty clear that she is actively trying to control or repress something. She's always jumped into emotions like a drug. "Where have you been all this time? Does Liz know? Oh my god, I've got to call Liz… Wait… ok just gimme a second." She places her knuckles against her lips and breathes trying to bring the calm. When it washes over here she breathes out with a smile. "Ok. Obviously, she does, otherwise you wouldn't have found me would you?"

"Yes, it's…" …me.

The living shadow bleeds across the wall, spreading outward until it's large enough for him to step out of it, darkness reluctantly pulling away from the human shape that forces itself into corporeality, that same rogue's smile and glint to Richard Cardinal's eye as ever. He's not in the best shape, with one eye still slightly swollen, his nose showing signs of a just-set break with bandages still over it and across his cheeks, but he's alive.

"And yeah, Liz knows. Of course." A deep breath, and he steps away from it with a shake of his head, "I'm sorry I was gone, I… hell, from my viewpoint I wasn't gone. Time travellers are assholes."

Harmony knows that he is no stranger to some field related injuries. But that does not stop her heart from dunking when she sees his condition. That much is written all over her face, hands lifting to cover over her mouth, "Oh god…" she muffles, "It is you. I had prepared myself for you to come back, and just— rip you a new one. I just wanted you here so. Badly." eyes glassy, yet she manages not to have a tear fall when she closes them and sniffs, shaking out her hands,

"Time travellers. Yes, another something I've thought about. I've had nothing but time to think. How many enemies that might come back, target us. The supposed future you alone was just…" the blonde frowns in disdain, "But I've been ready to take on the world if I had to for" she remembers very suddenly, "Oh! You haven't I mean, it's been what? A blink for you perhaps? Thank god you're only a month late." Harm chuckles, "Come on, you're not going to believe it. I hardly can." she gestures for him to follow, going to spare bedroom, which is filled with tons and tons of baby stuff, which no doubt has Liz-handiwork written all over it. "I usually have to feed them myself this time of night but you're here so you can help me."

"A day for me," Richard admits, stepping over towards her, "Six months for you all. I'm sorry, I— I know, I'm a month late, I should've been there." He grimaces at that admission, one hand reaching back to rub at the nape of his neck, fingers skimming above the collar of that Chicago Air bomber jacket he's wearing. He's back to more comfortable clothes, it seems, the jacket, the t-shirt under it, the jeans. Not the suit he often wore while playing corporate security executive… as much as he was growing used to that role.

At the invitation, then, he hesitates— and then he moves to follow, catching up quickly, "Are they— I mean, are they healthy, is everything fine, what— shit, I don't even know what you named them…"

Harmony nods, her smile is a little bittersweet, "Yeah, they're healthy. I've really been working on the whole emotion thing, you know, meditation, visualization all of that. They were immune to my powers while I carried them, but— I dunno if they are now and I don't wanna take the chance. I wanna get it under complete control. That's why sleep in the main room separate from them. But I take every opportunity to be with them when I can." She was worried about her capabilities as a mother, yet like Liz had told her, she would do just fine. Leaning over the crib, where to bundles lay wrapped in a blue and pink blanket, Harmony smiles.

"Oh my god, Liz is gonna be sooooo pissed she missed this moment." she says a little sing-songy. Very carefully, she reaches in and picks up the pink bundle, trying not to rouse her too much. "Ok so, say your first hello to your little girl, Liliana, or Lili mostly, after my mom." as she hands her over gently, instructing on how to hold her. "I had a different name planned, but the moment I saw her, I felt Lili was more fitting. Hold her for just a second while I get the bottles. I'll feed her, because she's a little funny about how she eats."

Cardinal hangs back for a moment before he steps closer, one hand lifting to brush against the small of Harmony's backoddly, the one seeking a bit of reassurance rather than offering it for once. The tip of his tongue moistens his lips as he stares down at the pair, then at the girl in Harmony's arms. His daughter. He's a deer in headlights for a moment and then she's being put his arms. "No, wait, I shit, uh, how do I— my hand there? Is that enough support for her head?"
He just had someone shoot at his face from near point-blank range just a couple days ago, from his viewpoint. This? This is way scarier.

Finally he's holding her and panicking less, looking down at the month-old babe in his arms in silence for a long few moments while Harmony goes for the bottles. "Liliana," he murmurs finally, trying out the sound of it. "Lili."

Harmony is doing very well to manage the excitement that wants to burst out of her into rambling and possibly radiation. She smiles as he touches her skin, yet another clarification that it is really him, and she isn't just dreaming, "Yeah, just like that." she affirms, moving her arms together to display, "Yeah, that's perfect. She'll kinda guide you where it's supposed to go. Just follow her muscle movements. It's subtle, and mostly just side to side, but yeah." Leaving him to it a moment, she goes to get the two bottles from the fridge in the kitchen. With a couple watts of microwaves, she gets them to the perfect temp.

"Ok, you give me her, and take this, and say hello to young Richard." to trade him bottle for baby, "I call him Ricky." she smirks, "That will alleviate confusion when I have to use the mom speak, noting who is the one that's in trouble." That'll be fun. "Now, the moment you pick him up, he is going to lose. His. Mind. So don't panic. He is absolutely going to cry. It doesn't matter who you are. But he'll forget about it the moment you start feeding him. Which is why you have to feed her first, because if he starts to cry before you start feeding her, it gets her started, and she won't eat till you settle her down. If she's eating when he starts, she could care less."

Cardinal's gaze flickers up from his daughter to her mother, and he offers a quick, anxious smile before surrendering Lili and taking the bottle. "Richard…" A look down to his son, not picking him up yet, one hand resting on the edge of the crib. "Ricky's good. Not 'Dick' and definitely not 'Junior'…" A little chuckle, one that fades after a moment, his smile genuine as he looks between the babies. "God. I'm a father."

"Oh, he's a little bit of a dick." Harmony nods, and smirks over at him, "Just like his father. But I think that makes him more perfect than he already is." She has already started feeding Lili, "He's yours for sure, he's already a fighter. He's gonna try to wrestle that bottle from you. It's really cute to watch him try. He's going to be a handful and a half." She watch him fall for them just as she did at first sight. She remembers that very moment that she laid eyes on the beet red pair that had just come from her. The memory is both fond and frustrating all the same, and she frowns ever so slightly, "Richard." her tone taking an even but serious weight. "You can not do this again." What she is talking about is not the babies. The way she says it is very clear what she meant.

"You absolutely cannot disappear, or worse, die. I don't— no… I can't have a talk with them one day about how their father is not around because he died. And I know that— yes, what must be done, must be done, but I'm also saying that you can't die." Harmony sighs, "The moment I looked at them, I knew that something has to be done. I don't want them to have to grow up in a world like this. We have to fix it, Richard. We have to. I refuse to have them living in fear and turmoil. I don't care—" she pauses, frowning deeper, "I don't care what I have to do."

"I… I can't make that promise, Harmony. You know I can't." A sidelong look over, Richard's lips twisting in a pained grimace, "Liz tried to get me to make it too. I can't promise it. But…" He takes a deep breath, and then reaches down, gently lifting his son; cradling the baby against his chest, expecting the crying and the thrashing that Harmony warned him about so making sure his grip's secure. The bottle held ready to be offered to wailing lips.

"I can try. I" He breathes out a long sigh, "Did I did Liz— did she tell you about his son? The future… me."

Yes, that kid has a fit. Almost to the degree that makes one wonder and joke that he's already Evolved and his scream is of sonic proportions. The moment he feels pulled he starts, but is instantly silenced by the peace offering of food. It phases Harmony none, because she's been doing this nightly, "I know. I know that you can't promise it. It's ludicrous for me to think that you can. And I know you will do everything you can to not leave them fatherless if anyone would. Just as I'm going to do everything I can to put an end to all of this mess. To make things safe for our children. I've been learning physics, learning as much as I can about radiation and the possibilities. I've been training myself to control my emotions, and trying to advance so that I can make a difference. I want to learn how to fight. Now I— I want to learn more than just that. How to—" she frowns and then just shakes it away, "No, we'll talk about that later." Doesn't feel right to ask that, holding her child.

Her head cants to one side a bit, "No, I don't think she did. Or— maybe? I dunno, I was an emotional rollercoaster, I got so mad at someone that Liz was mad at and almost nuked her apartment." Oh, it was bad. "What happened?"

There's no answer to that at first, no continuation to the story Cardinal had started to tell… because he's holding his son and feeding him from a bottle, and the expression on his face is one of wonder and love and fear all at once. He knew this was coming, but there's nothing to compare to finally seeing his children. Holding them.

They're the only true blood relatives he has now.

Finally he says quietly, "Liz was pregnant when she left him. Went on the run. I wasn't there for him, not at all, and he's…" A snort that's a mirthless laugh, "Not exactly the sort of person I'd hope he'd be. He never knew me as a father. Only knew what I'd done to his mother."
Silence, a few more moments.

"I don't want to repeat his mistake."

Harmony softens, immediately showing sympathy for that while situation, "Oh Richard, I would never let that happen. I—" Harmony closes her eyes and rolls them behind her lids a second, "I pray with every ounce of me that nothing happens to you, or that you have to leave, but I would never allow them to grow up to hate you. EVER. They're already surrounded by 5 people that are gonna love and raise them to be the best kids anyone could ever hope to have. And they're gonna make you proud no matter where you are." She crosses over to rest her head to the side against his shoulder to offer reassurance, since her arms are full.

"You're gonna make mistakes. I have, and I know I will again. Diaper changing?… Yeah… I'll be taking film of the first time you have to do that, because I'm sure it will be just as tragic as when I had to." she laughs, "And you know, that's what we'll do. We'll get as many moments and memories of us all together. So that whatever happens down the line, whether we are here for them or not for some reason, they will have things to look back on and know how much they were loved."

"I make a lot of mistakes in my life. That's one I don't… I don't want to make again," Richard admits with a little shake of his head. Even if it wasn't him that made that mistake, a version of him did. The bottle's held carefully as the babe in his arms eagerly suckles at the artificial nipple, and he smiles a little sadly down at him, "I don't want to see this little face on the other side of a gun, Harm."

A deep breath's drawn in, then exhaled slowly, his head shaking. "And yeah. I know, so— wait, five?" A wry sidelong look, "Which five?"

What would make Richard Cardinal pull away from the thought of his son wielding a gun at him? Harmony is pretty sure she knows, "Well, then you had better be sure you're next to him when you're training him how to use one then. And of course, to aim it at the first boy that breaks his sister's heart." And her eyes widen while she gasps with a grin, "Oh my god, if you need a little extra incentive to stick around?" she nods down at the bundle in her hand that is quietly feeding, "She's gonna be gorgeous. And uh… what if you're not around when her very own young Richard Cardinal type gets eyes for her. I mean… you got about 16, 17 years and they'll start chasing her. I'm sure that thought makes you wanna lock her in a tower, which no— you cannot." She says pointedly, and probably just created some overprotective daddy issues, but Harm has that mouth of hers.

"Hm?" she asks, "Oh well there's me, you of course, Liz, their uncle Nate, and well, Curtis said he intended to stick around." she shrugs a bit, "I'm taking him at his word… for now."

There's just a moment's pursing of Cardinal's lips as he's reminded of Curtis— or Williams as the shadowmorph still mostly thinks of him— but he nods, then, looking back over at Lili with a hint of amusement at Harmony's words. "If she's half the woman you are, I'll have my hands full dealing with her," he admits, tongue firmly in cheek, and then he shakes his head, "I'm going to try, though, Harm. I really am. I don't… I don't want to let them grow up not knowing me."
A faint snort of breath, then, "Fuck. Kaylee's going to go wild over them. And Val— oh, Christ." Wry, he glances to Harmony, "My sisters. Adopted."

"Between me, and Liz and dear old daddy and a slew of aunts and an uncle, she probably won't get to be too wild. And she's got Ricky, he'll look out for her." Things that a mother just knows. She gazes down into the soft face of the small part of her. The epicness of the whole thing striking her in awe, "Talking of time travelers and future persons and selves. I can't say that I wouldn't love to see them in the future here and now, rather— Well no, in addition to raising them to that point." Really, because in a way it would set her at ease to know that they are both going to make it. "Future Ricky Cardinal? Oh boy… should I start putting change in a jar to safe up for a 'Bail Ricky out of jail' fund?" Harmony laughs, which her looking to such a thing shows that she does in fact have hope that things will be alright.

"Mm! You should bring— No wait. We can meet them somewhere; your sisters. And pictures, and video. Lots and lots of them. But… I don't wanna be one of those dinguses that shoves their kids down everyone's throats all over the net. That stuff is for sentimental family memories." she nods over at the bottle, "He's done. That's pretty much air left in there. Hold him kind of against but slightly over your shoulder, and sorta bounce very lightly, patting his back and well… keep talking to him. So they'll get used to your voice. Towel is over there on the dresser to drape down the back of your shoulder, just in case he spits up. Once he burps, he'll go right to sleep." which gives her a thought, "You know, why don't you stay tonight, or at least have a nap with them. I'll be up for a bit yet, and trust me, there is no peaceful sleep quite like having them laying on you."

A low chuckle stirs past Cardinal's lips. "I only want to see them grown by watching them get there," he says rather firmly about the whole idea. No more time travellers. They always mean something terrible has happened. Is happening. Is going to happen. It messes up tenses in language, too. The bottle's carefully pulls away then as he's explained what to do next, and he awkwardly sets the bottle down and lifts his son up to rest against his shoulder, bouncing him gently, fingers patting against his back.

"Hey," he says softly, "I'm your… I'm your father. And I'm going to try and be a good one, okay? But I'm going to make mistakes, so you're going to have to be patient with me… okay?" He looks over, a smile gentle on his lips, "Sure. If I'm not, I mean, intruding…"

"Yeah. You're absolutely right. I mean, people have done it without time travellers for centuries right? And I guess we should talk about how we can best safeguard them from future assassins that wanna get to you. Yeah, think about that a lot, because you piss people off you don't even know about yet. Maybe haven't even been born yet. I dunno how that's possible, but if anyone would it would be you." with Lili done as well, Harm takes her to her shoulder, "Lili takes rubbing rather than patting." Harmony gently rubbing her back in circles. "They're very different, and they both have little rules and quirks that they make you learn fast. I had to make flash cards in my first week!" No, she's probably not kidding.

"Intruding? Richard please… You're their father, and you could never intrude. It would actually make me feel less stressed knowing they were asleep with you. I wouldn't be looking up like a worried hen every five minutes."

"I might need those flashcards," Cardinal replies with a low chuckle, his head shaking… and he looks down at the baby in his arms, then to the other, drawing in a slow breath before exhaling it in a sigh, "I do think about it. I don't know if I can give them the world they deserve to grow up in, but…" He looks back down to Richard, Jr— "I'll try."

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