Pray God You Can Cope



Scene Title Pray God You Can Cope
Synopsis "I'll stand outside… this woman's world…"
Date December 31, 2018

Deep in the Ark

God it's cold. Even wrapped in three or four layers of blankets, it's fucking cold down here. And although the Ark's residents are apparently at least attempting to celebrate the turn of a new year, there are those in hiding in this damnable place for whom the new year is just another day.

The maintenance corridors are not exactly homey, but they at least offer places to sleep and Odessa's done a phenomenal job getting them supplies. Leaning her head back against the wall she ponders the idea that freezing wet places with hard floors seem to be a theme of her life. Doc Barani'd be glad that all her therapy is at least helping me not turn into a gibbering mass or go catatonic, she thinks drily to herself as she studies the small LED light that keeps her from becoming a mass of quivering terror.

I should be crying but I just can't let it show

Slipping her fingertips beneath the neckline of her sweaters, she pulls the chain that holds her mementos… the penny with her original life on it, Dave's wedding ring that he wants his son to have, the two-sided medallion of patron saints that belonged to the Wasteland's Richard. Part of her still thinks she should have given it to someone there to return to Liz. But … if Liz didn't know, she didn't really need to learn it that way. And if she did know, well… she's not sure the other woman would have cared.

I should be hoping but I can't stop thinking

Saint Joan d'Arc, she thinks as the medallion spins gently on the chain … patron saint of soldiers and martyrs. Elisabeth has been both for the cause. Studying the face of Saint Rita of Cascia on the other side, though, she runs her thumb across the engraved features. Patron saint of impossible dreams, desperate causes, parenthood, marriage difficulties and spousal abuse… Elisabeth has to chuff a bitter laugh as she fights to remember the list of things of which Rita is a patron saint. Does killing and resurrecting your spouse count as abuse? It would certainly make for a difficult marriage.

All the things we should've said that I never said

Leaning back against his chest with his arm around her, Elisabeth strokes the swell of her abdomen where their son does everything but sleep these days and smiles faintly as the baby rolls over. Cardinal's eyes widen, looking over her shoulder. "What the…?"

She laughs at him as her rounded belly violently distorts in shape again. "I swear he does somersaults in there. Honestly."

He reaches his free arm around her, laying his hand over the oblong spot where some part of their child is sticking upward farther than usual, and he feels the roll of movement under his hand. "Wow," he breathes. "Does he … it's not always like that, right?" It's the first time he's seen that movement. It looks utterly bizarre. He looks skeptical. "Doesn't that hurt?"

"No… not really. It just feels like the middle half of my body is sort of 'occupied' and not exactly part of me, if that makes sense. Usually he's not quite as active as all that. But he's getting bigger, so… the bigger he gets, the more obvious those movements are." Elisabeth sounds… content.

What even the fuck is that….? Elisabeth pulls up sharply, emotionally gutted by the images. How is she even seeing this? This …. Isn't even now. It has to be the Wasteland. Joshua was born in February 2012. Virus Liz was already dead, and Bright Liz…. was married to Leland? Maybe? She's not sure how that timeline went exactly.

Tears burn as they well up. They seem… happy.

All the things we should have done that we never did

"One more push!" he encourages.

"FUCK YOU and your one more push!" Elisabeth grunts, squeezing Cardinal's hand so tight he looks white. It's a damn good thing she's negated. As she bears down one last time and the baby slides free into waiting hands, the sudden absence is jarring and she's lightheaded. She turns her face into his stomach where he stands next to her and bursts into tears.

Cardinal swallows hard, holding the back of her head as he watches them disconnect mother and child, deal with the things that come after, and check the infant over while the baby screams bloody murder over there. Shakily, he laughs as he looks down at her. "He has your lungs, I think."

Elisabeth drops her forehead into her palms, pulling her knees up to brace her elbows as she sobs softly for all the things her daughter never got to have. For all of the versions of herself that she's seen in the worlds they've traveled.

All the things we should have given but I didn't

"You… are you out of your fucking mind?" she asks in a quiet voice.

Cardinal meets her eyes and shakes his head slowly. "No… it's … " He drags his hand through his hair, leaving parts of it standing straight up. Then he looks up at her. "I'm already heading that direction, lover… For God's sake, I had you killed. Whatever I thought I was doing… Liz, I've already taken the first steps to being a monster. I couldn't live with what I did to you. And based on what I saw? What I am heading toward is even worse. I have to find a different way."

She moves slowly, settling their sleeping 7-week-old son in the bassinet next to the couch, and turns to look at him. Elisabeth's blue eyes on him are wary and determined. "I told you that I forgive you. Doesn't mean I'm not still pissed off, but… I get what you did and why. Now you're going to tell me that mid-stream, we have to change course again? Do you understand that what you're proposing could get us both put in front of a firing squad if you're not stealthy enough? Is it worth our son's life to you?"

Cardinal glances toward the sleeping infant and then he moves to her, one hand around the small of her back and one to the back of her head as he rests his temple against her hair. "Our son is worth everything to me. What am I doing any of this for if not for his future?" he asks, and then pulls back to rest his forehead to hers. "Our future."

"Goddamn you," she whispers back. "If you get fucking dead, I will never forgive you."

You still haven't, Elisabeth thinks to herself, tears slipping down her face. As the hour changes to midnight, she can hear the strained sound of people attempting to pretend everything is fine, singing 'Auld Lang Syne' in A-Ring.

Oh, darlin… make it go away

God… you've given me this one more year alive. But I need a little help this year, she prays into the darkness. Just a little more help… just this one more chance to go home to the man she loves.

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