Retrograde Motion


elisabeth3_icon2.gif vf_ruiz_icon2.gif

Scene Title Retrograde Motion
Synopsis One small step forward sends them spinning backward.
Date November 25, 2014

Hudson Highlands State Park, New York — Parking Lot

Their flight through the state park was not perhaps as fast as either of them might have liked, but it wasn't slow either. Elisabeth has one ear tuned for sounds of pursuit, but she isn't hearing anything — the layer of snow that rests on the fir and pine branches above them effectively muffles sound. It was one of the reasons they chose a state park in Thanksgiving week — just enough snow to muffle everything but not enough that the trails were impassable. In point of fact they're pretty clear due to being shaded by the trees. Her other ear is tuned to Mateo's heart rate, making sure that he's not pushing himself to the brink of a major heart event.

By the time they reach the vehicle, 3/4ths of a mile down the trail from where they lost both Eileen and Gabriel to the power that was once (and maybe was still) Kazimir Volken, Elisabeth is breathing pretty heavily in the cold air but not as bad as one might expect — apparently she went back to her running habits after Aurora. Still, adrenaline and fleeing are not the same as running in the park! "Fuck," she gasps as she bends to rest her hands on her thighs. Reaching up, she finally realizes why her face is so cold… she is still crying… the tears are not freezing to her face in the 50-degree afternoon, but they're certainly chilling it.

Her head drops and she can't look at Mateo right now. "We blew it," she whispers. "I blew it. I should never have asked anyone to help with this. Eileen was right; we should have just stopped trying." Her quiet tone is vicious at herself. "You're building a life. Go back to it. Don't look back and don't… " She trails off and stifles a soft sound.

"Oh God, Mateo, what have we done?"

This whole thing couldn’t have gone worse. Though actually it could have. They could all be dead. Ruiz could feel the moment when the portal finally closed— and Liz could even hear it in the way the constant stresser on his body seemed to vanish. It didn’t fix everything, but it stopped making his heart sound worse at least.

But he knew something deep down. If they had turned around, they wouldn’t have found Gabriel anymore.

When they reach the car, he stops to rest against it, pressing his forehead against the window. “I wanted to help,” he mutters quietly, even if he’s not sure how exactly to express it. He didn’t plan to leave, not with everything he had built here. But he would have helped them get at least to get them one step further.

To find their home. To reunite with those they had lost. Especially her. And her daughter who would never know her father otherwise.

After a moment, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a bottle, fumbling to get it open. Damn child proof lids. They couldn’t have known what would happen. They couldn’t have predicted. Maybe they should have consulted the precog first, the one who’d met them at the entrance.

“We should have never done this,” he agrees instead.

Elisabeth hears the almost defiant retort even though it's under his breath. She's listening too closely to him not to. And as she pushes upright, she nods slightly. So did Gabriel. And it's yet another sin she'll put in her Mental Box of Regrets and Memories She Never Wanted. "I know," she tells him softly. "And I'm… " She pulls in a quick breath against a wave of sorrow. "I'm grateful. But now… I've gotten them both killed, for all intents and purposes." Eileen isn't dead, but…. Isn't she? Liz honestly doesn't know. "Unless Eileen can contain him the way Gabriel did — because that had to be Gabriel's own strength of will that kept it in check."

She looks back toward the trail, her blue eyes filled with regrets and sadness. "He was the last chance we had, I think," she tells Mateo. "I… don't even know what to do next. Hiding from Arthur Petrelli when he's actively searching for all of us… " She looks back at him. "There is no running. He will eventually find us. And now? Now Kazimir fucking Volken is on the loose in Eileen's body, and who the fuck even knows what he will do with the knowledge of other universes?" The audiokinetic leans back against their car and presses the heels of her hands into her eyes. "God, Mateo…. This is two fucking worlds I've now screwed or nearly screwed by allowing Kazimir Volken to gain that knowledge. I'd tell you to shoot me right now if that weren't the easy way out of this."

Her tone holds such despair. But when her hands drop, there is a determined set to her chin. "But we know how he can be killed. I just…. Need to figure out how to make it happen before it's too late."

Do we?” Ruiz responds to the assertion that they know how to kill him. “We didn’t kill him when we left my world.” She’d missed that part. He had not. He had seen those blue eyes looking at him through the realm of shadows before he stepped back and collapsed into brief consciousness into another world. “Maybe you need to stop trying to fix everything just because you think they needed to be fixed.”

Cause he’s not going to be trying to find a way to stop it.

“Might not have messed things up too much in an already dying world, but here— here it’s— “ He heard what she said about super soldiers and other things, but that’s such a tiny fraction in a huge world. It’s not the same. It’s a fraction of a percent. “Go home to your daughter. I’m going home to my children.”

Elisabeth goes stiff and her blue eyes sharpen on Mateo. The horror of learning Kazimir did not die in the world they left wouldn't be so bad… except that she knows who he last had. She will deal with that later, alone.

"In case it escaped your notice," she says in a tightly controlled tone, "I wasn't trying to fix either fucking world in question. I just didn't want to die in that shithole that was your world, and I did my level best to save all of your lives in the bargain." She has her own feelings of guilt and responsibility, but that particular accusation was unfair. She's stung, and her tone is cold, defensive. She will probably later regret allowing free the words she next speaks. "And if you'd like me to not make an attempt to fix the mistake we just made, fine. I can leave that bastard to run free — you and I will probably both be dead before he manages to pull together whatever remnants of the Vanguard remain here and enact one of his many extermination plans on the world. So we'll just leave it to the kids and maybe their kids to deal with. Kids, I'll point out, that you wouldn't have were it not for the fact that we all figured out together how to escape your world."

Liz turns her back to him, shaking fingers fumbling for the keys to the car that will take them out of the park. She has to pause because she can't see the keys through her tears, and she turns her face back to the path. Could she reach Eileen? Is there anything of her left? Can she bear to leave here without trying?

She makes a movement, like she's going to head back up the path, the struggle visible in her body language. And then stops, lays her fisted hands on top of the car above the door, and presses her forehead to them. Her voice is low and choked. "Although in the interests of full disclosure? I've seen what happens when that scenario comes to pass too — they come back in time to try to fix our fuck-up."

“If you want to try, try. I’ve dealt with Kazimir enough for two lifetimes,” Ruiz responds quietly, voice tight and heart rate still a little off, but at least not as bad as it could be. He’s exhausted, emotionally, physically and drained by his ability as well. “Even if any of Vanguard still exists here, he’ll — she’ll — whichever— will have a hard time getting them together.” He doesn’t know all the details of what had taken control of this world and what had stopped Vanguard in this world, but he knew from the newspaper articles that they had hunted down those responsible for the virus.

And they had done far more than that, he believes. Considering the other version of himself had been secretly murdered in his own home, never even revealed to the public as having been Vanguard. How many others had been handled with similarly? How many hand been quietly killed or locked away without even a word?

“I was willing to try and help you get one step closer to home so that the father of your child could know his daughter, but — I’m done. I can’t destroy another life with this ability.” With that, he downs the pill that he finally managed to get out of the pill bottle, not even bothering to get a drink. Negation pills, to be exact. Something he’s been on since pretty much they’ve arrived in this world.

Looking toward him, Elisabeth asks softly, "Do you really believe that? That there aren't enough left for him to get a foothold?" It's perhaps a desperate hope, but… "I can't blame you for not wanting to help anymore. It's fine. I'm … Magnes is either dead or so deep in Moab that I'll probably never know for sure. I'm… not going home. Whatever it was that brought me here? The combination of the powers or the power and the machine… it doesn't matter," she tells him in a defeated voice. "I'm never getting home."

She's going to have to figure out a way to get past the new knowledge that in Mateo's world, Kazimir took a Richard Cardinal for his own and it's her fault. That the shadowmorph, if anything of him still exists, will be living his worst nightmares in more ways that one. And she's going to have to figure out how to live with the guilt of what just happened today, too. But like Mateo, she's done — she can't kill one more person while she tries to get home.

Pushing back from the car, she looks back down at the keys in her hands. "Let's go. I'll take you home." As she unlocks the car, she looks at him over the roof. "I'm glad you found her, Mateo."

While he’s not a telepath, Ruiz understands the whole thing of placing the blame and weight of everything on one person, namely yourself. “Not everything is up to you, or on you. Whatever happened to Magnes, he’ll either get himself out of it, or he won’t. What happened back in my world… we caused it, with or without you. I’m not even sure how much of an impact the two of you made, other than to let us know we could leave and helping us do just that.” Though he’s sure there was an impact, it just did not exist within a vacuum.

“And what happened back there…” That had been all of four of them too, no doubt. He doesn’t think he needs to finish saying that, though, as he moves to get into the car once his side has been unlocked as well.

Unlike some people, he immediately buckles up and leans his head back against the seat, closing his eyes again and trying to relax a little. “I’m glad we found each other too. Me and her.”

He wouldn’t be here anymore if he hadn’t, most likely.

As she settles into the driver's seat, automatically buckling the belt, Elisabeth's blue eyes stare through the windshield to the trailhead. "Is there anything left of Eileen?" she asks softly. "There seemed… plenty of Gabriel in there. I didn't even know he had…" Her tone is soft, as if she knows the answer but needs someone to say it. "Are we abandoning her?" She honestly doesn't know — Kazimir Volken's power has never been one she had a lot of knowledge or experience with.

“Honestly?” Ruiz looks out the window, back in the direction they had ran from. They both knew what had happened, even as they ran away from it. What had been happening behind them. Had they stayed, Gabriel may not have died. It may have killed them to save her instead. It could have spared her from becoming what she had become. Maybe it would have been better for all of them had one of them been willing to let their child grow up without a parent. But they hadn’t been. And he doesn’t think Gabriel would blame them for that either. He had, after all, told them to run.

“I think that depends on her.”

There is a small glimmer of hope in that response, and Elisabeth holds tightly to it. Not because it makes anything better, but if Eileen herself survives, perhaps the power that was Kazimir Volken won't gain the foothold in this world that he might otherwise. But the cost … Oh God, the cost.

She has so many thoughts and regrets running through her head, she wouldn't even know where to begin if she did speak. Elisabeth rubs the side of her forehead and starts the car wordlessly. Her hands are still shaking as they pull away from the parking lot, choking on her regrets.

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