Patron Saint Of Impossible Dreams


bf_cassandra_icon3.gif elisabeth_icon3.gif

Scene Title Patron Saint of Impossible Dreams
Synopsis So alike and yet so very different.
Date February 8, 2018

Dorchester Towers, Elisabeth Harrison's Apartment

It's fucking freezing. There is no snow on the ground, thank the good Lord. But the high for the day is only 33 degrees. Elisabeth left Aura with Kaylee, hidden and curled up next to a fire with some books scavenged from someone's home. But today she's a woman on a mission. And it's been a hellacious run through Manhattan proper to make it to Dorchester Towers, the apartment building that she once called home.

Standing in the interior stairwell of the damaged building as they make their way up the stairs, Elisabeth puffs out quietly, "You didn't have to come with me, you know. The run from here to my father's is maybe not as brutal, but hard to say with fucking robots on the loose."

“I know.” Cassandra’s voice is muffled through the scarf she’s wrapped around her face, her hair pushed into a scavenged wool hat and pulled down around her ears, giving anyone looking at her a perfect view of eyes and not much else, her too-large jacket tied around her with a length of rope. “You going off alone isn’t something that really should happen, unless you need to be alone. It’s safer, the two of us, able to watch each other’s backs.”

“Besides. Aura would kill me if I let you go off by yourself.”

Cassandra shakes the flashlight she found, hitting it against the heel of her hand before a small light emerges from the taped-up lens, glinting in the darkness of the stairwell. “I know you probably don’t need it, with your sound stuff, but a light makes it a little less…” She looks around. “Ominous and creepy.”

A faint smile pulls at Elisabeth's mouth, though for her it's not really ominous and creepy. It's just sad. She stops outside the apartment door, which sits at a cock-eyed angle in the frame — it's clearly been scavved over the years. "He killed her… and then resurrected her," she says quietly, her tone as haunted as the blue eyes have been since they got to the building. A push to the door sends it creaking inward, and the audiokinetic looks around the ravaged apartment.

It was a pretty standard two-bedroom apartment, although the occupant went to some effort to make it her own. The carpet is the ubiquitous beige, but the walls were at one time painted a soft rose-gray mauve shade, giving the main living space warmth. A sofa sits in the living room facing an entertainment center that contains nothing electronic anymore. The kitchen is small, but functional, painted a soft yellow color with a transparent blue glass backsplash that has withstood the ravages of time and scavengers. Off the living room are two bedrooms. There's a multitude of the more useless things strewn about on the floor — broken picture frames, kitchen utensils that no one apparently needed, a glass vase on the dining room floor with long-dead flowers scattered amid the shards of glass.

Scavenging from apartments has become a thing that Cassandra and Elisabeth have gotten fairly good at, getting lucky and finding things that otherwise would have been missed, thanks to Liz’s audiokinesis and Cassandra’s ability to look back to see what happened before. Many a loose board or false shelf was discovered hiding treasures that, in the world before, would have been quite valuable but here, might be good enough to trade for a meal or a bottle of water if they’re lucky. But this? This is, or rather, was, Elisabeth’s apartment. The Elisabeth of this world’s apartment, at least. She stands back as the door is opened, the one remaining hinge creaking in protest as it’s twisted out of the frame.

Cassandra’s boots crunch on the fallen items on the floor as she moves into the apartment behind Elisabeth, the thick soles protecting her feet from glass, nails, or whatever else there might be to cause injury. Liz gets a quick glance - exactly why they made their way out here, she doesn’t know, but she hopes that, for whatever reason, it’s a good one.

Elisabeth has her reasons for seeking out this place… but if asked, she wouldn't call them 'good' reasons. There are particular things she's seeking from both this place and her father's. Things she hopes maybe will survive the next jump somehow. As she picks her way through the rubble of a decimated apartment, she's not surprised to find there's nothing of real value remaining. At least, not of value to anyone but her.

"Cass… there's something I need to see." Turning to look at her friend, her blue eyes are troubled. "You aren't… going to like it. But I need to see it. Can you pinpoint a time with your ability? Or do you need an object?"

The postcog shakes her head. “No, I can do it from an area, too, but it takes me a little more time to get situated properly. It might be a good idea to pull the door closed so we’re not interrupted in the middle of it all.” She actually does so instead of just suggesting it, going out into the hall and wrestling the heavy door kind of back in place again by herself before returning to the apartment proper. The couch is still mostly in one piece and, with a quick movement, she flips the cushions over, a small spray of broken glass cascading to the floor and over the broken coffee table, turning to sit, fishing the length of American flag from her breast pocket and tying it around her eyes. “Guess it’s a good thing I hitched a ride with you, huh?” She smiles that impish little grin of hers and settles back on the couch, blowing out a breath as her power takes hold.

Reality ripples around them all and then fades into the background as the memories of this place become visible as near invisible strings vanishing into the infinite darkness around them.
It’s a familiar sensation to Elisabeth by this time, almost certainly. Bedtime stories for Aurora were done inside of Cassie’s power, more often than not, the little girl falling asleep in the memory of a run-of-the-mill Tuesday in an apartment somewhere in the midwest during the early fall. A warm room, full of books and posters and things a girl would like - something Cassandra sought out the second she knew Aurora was in this hell of a world.

It takes some time to find the date Liz was searching for. Chaos of a ruined apartment fades to a simple one. Newspapers come and go, as does mail to the tenants that came, the furniture changing a few times as people change styles, move out, or simply grow tired of the furniture they have. She nearly overshoots the date, Elisabeth - this world’s Elisabeth - darting through on the way somewhere almost at an instant.

Liz knows exactly what she's looking for, though the blur makes it a little harder to spot. When she notes her other self in Horizon armor, though, she says, "Stop." She looks at the younger Elisabeth, who looks tense but whole. "Move forward from here until I tell you." The audiokinetic is uncertain. Will she see what she expects to see? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

The apartment is empty for a while. The local Liz analog doesn't appear to have returned after that, not for some time. Elisabeth doesn't know how much time passes, relatively speaking, after the image of the woman ready for battle leaves. But Cassandra can easily see that whatever it was her friend was looking for, the next thing brings her spine straight and to attention.

Shadows writhe into the apartment, almost looking like smoke, only thicker and more substantial-looking. A man Cassandra has never seen before emerges from the shadows looking … rough. Very rough. Like he's holding himself together by a thread. He looks around the apartment and walks only far enough in at first to rest his hand on the back of the couch.

The time spent researching with Pinehearst has Cassandra much more talented with her abilities than she ever thought possible. At Liz’s urging, the scene stops almost instantly with a pinch of her fingers, Horizon-armored Liz heading out of the door with her helmet under her arm, looking everything like a Valkyrie with her hair tied up into a tight bun. She nods quietly and lets the string go, spooling it out at a slightly faster pace. Days pass in minutes with the sun rising, travelling, and setting, the apartment remaining still, vacant of all movement until the shadows slithered and congealed into something more human.

Cassie sits up a little, her hands pushing into the dusty cushions on either side of her, watching the man as he rests his hand on the back of the couch she’s sitting on, her breath catching for a second as the scent of him and the apartment comes through, strongly now. Unwashed, unshaven, looking like he hasn’t slept for days on top of days. Cassandra looks to Liz, her head tilted at a small angle before looking back to the man, the scene stopped there, with him gazing over the quiet apartment.

“I’m guessing this is what you wanted to see.” A statement, not a question, her thumb and fingers parting to let the man and the scene before them play out in real time.

Elisabeth nods silently, the lump in her throat so big that she can't form words. Blue eyes on the man hold a depth of loss so deep perhaps there really aren't words for it. For a long time she looks at the frozen moment. And then she slants a look at Cassandra and simply makes a small circling motion with her finger to indicate that it's okay to move it forward.

He doesn't move for a long time, merely rubbing his fingertips absently along the back of the couch. Then he pads through the apartment toward the bedrooms.

Elisabeth follows, forcing Cassandra to have to as well just for range, but the blonde stops in the door of the bedroom and backs up again. The sounds that come from the room before she gets far enough out of range are harsh and agonizing. Tears flood her eyes and she gasps out, "Go past this please." She can't handle his grief. Not in such vivid, living color. Her own grief is piercingly evident.

Cassandra is helped up and along, sliding her feet so she doesn’t trip over unseen obstacles. Moving while using her ability is treacherous at best and, in a world where floors aren’t clear, she could easily fall and lose it all. Maintaining hold of the thread she moves with Elisabeth towards the bedroom, twisting her fingers to quickly move past this moment of grief, the cries lapsing into silence once it moves past. She leans against Elisabeth with a hand around the other woman’s waist in a small measure of comfort, doing the best she can in the cold of the apartment.

When the sounds stop and the shadows move from the bedroom, Cassie lets the scene move forward again at its own pace, watching where it leads.

Eventually the hard-eyed man comes out, looking worse for wear. He pauses in the spare bedroom's doorway, staring hard inside it. And then he turns on his heel to march down the hall back to the living room.

Elisabeth dodges both herself and Cass out of the way of guy. He looks angry, maybe. But she leads the blindfolded postcog back toward the main room, unable to not watch him. She goes very still when she sees what he's doing.

The small gas fireplace has a mantle above it with decorative tiles in deep blues and greys. The man flips a knife out of his pocket and pries one of the tiles carefully off the wall just beneath the mantle, then digs a small hole in the wood beam behind it. He reaches into his pocket and comes out with something, staring at it in the palm of his hand for a long time. Then he slips it into that hole and covers it back up, carefully placing the tile exactly in place so it doesn't look as if it's ever been touched. He rests his hand there. "I'm sorry."

The words make Elisabeth close her eyes tightly and her hand inadvertently squeezes Cassandra's arm with a strong grip.

The scene freezes there, the man, whoever it is, resting his hand on the replaced tile and vanishing into the past as Cassandra lets her powers fade. She straightens and removes her blindfold, tucking it into her jacket and letting the thread float off into wherever they go when she’s done with them. “The images, they can’t hurt us.” She says quietly. “You didn’t need to move us out of the way like that.” A quiet admonition to the older woman as Cassandra swings around to pull Liz into a tight hug for a second, petting Liz’s hair gently before stepping back. She doesn’t ask who he was, or what meaning he had to Liz in this world or the last - Liz will share those details when, and if, she’s ready - Cassandra knows this much. They’ve been together that long, after all. She does turn to look at the fireplace, the tiles still undisturbed after all of these years, and reaches into her pocket to withdraw a lockback knife. With a flick of her wrist the blade snaps open, the handle offered to Liz without a word.

Opening her eyes and looking at the shambles of the apartment again, Elisabeth says quietly, "That wasn't what I expected." She honestly had just… maybe wanted to see her father, though his grief too would have been horrifying, she realizes. She'll finish this run, go to his brownstone… but she decides then and here that she doesn't need to see him.

Her hand trembles as she takes the knife from Cassie and walks over to the same spot on the fireplace that the apparition stood moments ago. She pries the tile off gingerly and finds the hole. She slips her slender fingers inside it and comes back out with a gold chain, what appears to be a golden coin on it, dangling from her fingers. "Oh God," she whispers.

She should leave it here. She knows she should. Just leave it and let the other Elisabeth know it's there. But she doesn't. Without bothering with the removed tile again, she brings the knife back to Cass and shows her the pendant.

"In my world… I had this made for Aurora's father," she tells the younger woman quietly. Studying the coin, she smiles faintly. "Not exactly the same one as here, apparently. St. Joan d'Arc… is the patron saint of soldiers and martyrs." Which in both worlds is what Richard Cardinal was at some point or another. "In my world, the other side is St. Nicholas… Patron saint of repentant thieves." She can't help the small, regretful smile. "Here, she put St. Rita of Cascia. She's the patron saint of lost causes and impossible dreams." She doesn't mention that she's also the patron saint of loneliness.

The knife is taken and closed, slipped back into her pocket, ready to be used at a moment’s notice. Cassie nods and reaches out touch the pendant, turning it over to gaze at the pressed relief of a woman kneeling in prayer beneath an altar, then over to study the impression of a woman in flowing robes, standing behind a flag in full plate armor, holding her sword to her chest, gazing into the west with a determined expression that even shows through in the soft gold of the necklace. “Just goes to show that love has a way of transcending time and space. You and he….” She taps the coin, sending it spinning on the end of its chain. “In this world, at least, were meant to be together. Some events happen in almost the same way, I guess, no matter the timeline, until whatever causes them to diverge happens.”

Cassandra scoops the pendant up into her hand, pressing it into Elisabeth’s palm and closes her fingers around it. “It won’t do any good to anyone here. At least if you have it, there’s a chance you’ll see… you… again, and you can tell her the story and give her this pendant.”

She blinks. “Your father… Elisabeth here said that your father had a place that the robots couldn’t find. It was where she was going to go when there wasn’t anywhere else to go.” Cassandra had told Elisabeth about her duplicate, the negation implant, and the inevitability of what would probably occur when the negation cocktail dripping into her veins is depleted. “It was where she and Joshua were heading, I think.”

She closes her hand around the medallion, looking down at it quietly. "She might have meant the cabin upstate," Elisabeth muses. "I'm glad she's going to Dad. I'm glad they're safe." Or … as safe as this world gets. She looks up at Cassandra. "She doesn't need to know the story. She knows he resurrected her, she knows he loved her. She never needs to know that he gave the order for her to be killed."

That's what the man was apologizing for.

Her fingertips rub the coin as if she's polishing it. And then she slips the chain over her head, tucking it away with the chain she wears that holds David Cardinal's wedding ring and the penny with her memories on them. Elisabeth is gaining something of a collection of her travels around her neck. Absently she wonders if she has to collect the whole set to get home.

“I wish we could take them with us, out of here, wherever it is we’re going next.” Cassie murmurs, watching Liz put the coin over her head. This is all assuming they survive the outer district, assuming they survive the trip to the next world, and assuming that where they’re going next is any better than this place. There are a lot of dominoes to put into place and only one chance to make them fall in the right order. “Out of this war. Joshua, at least, if we can’t find a way to save her… I mean you… You know what I mean.”

Cassandra rests a hand on Elisabeth’s shoulder, giving it a squeeze before walking into the apartment proper, the little kitchenette quiet, the only sound the crunching of her boots in the crud-covered carpet. Cassandra makes her way around rotten furniture and waterlogged carpet to gaze out the shattered window overlooking the city, tatters of curtains fluttering in the breeze around her, looking to her right and discovering a small alcove, set back into the wall, with assorted family photos in frames, somehow surviving all this time, protected from the weather.

“Hey Liz…?” Cassie calls. “Want another memento?”

Does she? Elisabeth isn't sure at this point. What they just saw — and heard — will haunt her for a while to come. Turning on her heel to walk toward the balcony, memories smack her hard in the face… standing out there with a glass of wine, leaned back on Richard's chest while they watched the lights of the city. Standing here in the dark, swearing that they could go fuck themselves when drones and assorted aerial observation machines started to become prevalent. A long-ago dream of standing here in terror wondering if she was going to make it out in time, Joshua in her belly. She has to shake off the last one, far too able to imagine that now that she's really borne a child and has walked in these footsteps.

"What'd you find?" she asks Cassandra quietly.

“Family photos.” Cassandra looks back over her shoulder at the sound of footsteps behind her, stepping to open the dusty glass cabinet with a twist of her fingers, withdrawing a simple frame from within and wiping the dust off with her thumb. Wordlessly, Cassandra offers it to Liz, letting her see the picture without her having to take it.

One picture is dated March 1975 on the back. The colors on the front are faded with time, but it shows a smiling couple in their wedding finery on the lawn of a church in New York somewhere. The other is a picture from before the bomb, or close to it. A 30th anniversary photo, the pair sitting on the deck of a cruise ship in front of a magical-looking sunset, holding each other’s hands across the table, smiling into the camera. The same couple, certainly, with more years and experience between them than in the first picture, but still very, very much in love.

“Rory'll love to see what her grandmother looked like on her wedding day.”

There's a small smile and Elisabeth's face brightens considerably. That, perhaps is what she came here looking for. She hasn't seen her father in years now except from a distance when she would check on him occasionally in Arthur's world. "Wow… I'd forgotten how they looked together." She traces her fingers across the images and chuckles. "I was born in October that year. Mom was adamant that they were getting married before she showed," she tells Cass with a grin.

While Elisabeth looks, Cassandra picks up other pictures just to skim them. One of Liz graduating. Another of Liz and a group of what can only be her friends in this world, all smiling. A third of Liz on a beach in a sundress, a tropical island behind her, white sandy beaches stretching out on either side. On the top shelf, though, there's another that perhaps her friend wants. She holds it up so Liz can see it, calling to get her attention, "Hey."

Beneath the glass are two figures smiling. Elisabeth is one, while the other is her father, both dressed in summer clothes. This picture was apparently taken in Central Park by one of those passing souvenir sellers with the automatic Polaroid cameras while she was pregnant with Joshua. The unvarnished joy on Elisabeth’s face is evident in the photo from the smile and the way she stands proudly, the woman almost glowing through the glass, while her father, reserved and quiet with a proud smile of his own, stands close by, his arm around his little girl’s waist. Written in ink in the space at the bottom is a simple inscription. “Even when you turn into a Mommy, you’ll still be Daddy’s girl. Love you. -Dad.”

She managed to hold in the tears during the unspooling of the past, but the picture…. Elisabeth reaches out to touch it with a trembling hand and the tears overflow. She's never had this moment with her parent. The sudden sense of loss is overwhelming and she manages to set the image down carefully despite sobs caught in her chest. "That one… is hers. It needs to stay here."

She turns on her heel and bolts for the door, having to shove it hard to make her escape into the hallway where she leans back against the wall halfway back to the stairwell, wraps herself in a silence field, and just cries uncontrollably.

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