Sacrificing Pieces Of Your Own Heart


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Scene Title Sacrificing Pieces of Your Own Heart
Synopsis The day Geopoint exploded, Cassandra got a message out.
Date June 13, 2017


Elisabeth Cranston has managed, somehow, to continue to keep a reasonably low profile in the world. Singing in the clubs, raising her daughter, keeping an eye on her people. She and Felix have managed lunch in out-of-the-way places, but they're careful. He has a huge job to do and she cannot be part of it, much as she sometimes feels a pull to go back to the streets. Part of her misses being a cop. The other part… the other part is occasionally ripped in two with competing desires to just stop running and create a life and to get her people the hell out of here before it all comes crashing down on them.

She's been too late practically since the day they arrived, although sometimes — just sometimes — she's managed to trick herself into forgetting this isn't her home for a few precious moments.

With her dark hair held at her nape by a clip, Elisabeth is sitting tensely on a bench near the pond where they usually bring Aurora and Cameron to feed the ducks. The children have no idea they're related, but letting them get to know one another seemed… right, and Cameron was too young when she died to really remember his mother's face very clearly or to make any connections to the brunette who is Liz Cranston.

The text message on his phone today, though, is one of the urgent codes. And he has his hands very full, what with Pinehearst investigations and all of that madness. Though by now Boulder has made the news and it's mostly being dealt with by others, he may not have even seen it.

To say that Elisabeth looks stressed when he arrives is putting it very mildly. He can feel the hum off her body when he's still 10 feet away. And she's been crying. Hard, if the splotches on her fair skin are any indicator.

Like a one legged man in an ass-kicking contest, as the old cliche goes. But on the other hand….Fel’s always been enough of a nervy, over-wired bastard to thrive on having to do a million things at once. IT’s what lets him get tired enough to sleep at the end of the day. So he’s obviously strained, too, as he comes up, dressed in the usual conservative garb.

He sits down by her without a word, but puts an arm around her, tenderly. She can cry more, if she wants….or just inhale the scent of him: soap, cologne, clean wool, and whatever’s just him. She’s not his Liz…..but there’s always been more than enough love for however many iterations there prove to be, through this universe and another.

The silence as he joins her is welcome, in some ways. The immediate physical contact also something that offers a balm for the near-hysteria that she's keeping compartmentalized. Elisabeth leans into his side and leans her head sideways, grateful for the embrace and more grateful still that in the five years that she's been in this world, and perhaps especially in the couple of years since his Liz's death, this friendship has held.

"Cassandra got a message out." The huskiness of her voice betrays at least some of what she says next. "She's gone, Felix." With a ragged sound steeped in grief, Liz turns her forehead into the curve of his neck. "The facility was attacked… she couldn't get out." Guilt is her constant companion, despite the continued work she does with a therapist. And now, the girl that they asked to go in there has been swept up in the mess. "So she called me." Her breath hitches again and the tears start. "And she left a message for us." At the dead-drop number Felix set up when Cassandra first went in there.

She can feel him stiffen at that revelation, though the embrace doesn’t go convulsive, clutching. Feel him brace himself to accept the news, even if the full processing has to come later. That’s always the risk in the realm of soldiers and spies — that someone you send in will not come back out. That it was necessary, even unavoidable, doesn’t make it any easier to bear. Another burden to carry.

Fel’s silent a little, collecting himself, before he speaks. “Do you have it?” he asks, very softly, but his voice has that full-throated hoarseness that means he’s working hard to keep it steady. She knows how it cracks and breaks at the worst possible moments.

From her pocket, Liz brings out the untraceable cell phone that holds the number Cassandra called. She checked it faithfully several times a day. "I got it this morning," she admits softly. Dialing into the voice mail, she puts it on his thigh and hits the speaker. "Kaylee Thatcher… is already en route to the location to try to find both Cassandra and someone else who was there. I… don't know if she's going to find a goddamn thing," she admits in a raw tone.

The message starts with the greeting that Leland recorded for them, the 'Harrison's Deli' message. And then Cassandra's voice:

“This is Cassandra Baumann.” She takes a breath and speaks, clearly. “I am located at the Geopoint Scientific Enclosure outside of Boulder, Colorado. It is June 13, about six AM. We are being attacked by multiple evolved assailants. There are multiple casualties among the staff and security personnel. I recognize one as a woman the Vanguard called Eileen Ruskin, or Munin. Another man, tall and broad with short buzzed hair, is carrying a dark-haired child in one arm. I don’t know who she is, but she looks important.” There's a pause. “Liz..I’m trapped. They’ve taken out the elevators and they’re coming to kill us all and destroy Looking Glass. I don’t know why. I’ve seen guards blown up, and the sound of gunfire is getting closer. I’m…."

A electronic speaker in the background echoes in the chamber, tinny. «Fifty percent power. Ramping up.»

“Th…there’s not much time, Liz. I’ve got to try and escape here through Looking Glass. It’s what they’ve been trying to do for the past year. It’s insane, I know, but it’s the only way I’ve got out that doesn’t have me carried out on my back in a body bag. They’ve sacrificed lives to this thing, Liz. They sacrificed a technopath called ON-1. I’ve been working on her system for more than a year and I’m taking her hardware with me to see if there’s anything left of her in the world we’re going to. It’s crazy, Liz…The higher-up people were planning on offering Looking Glass and us to the government to save their skins. To hell with the rest of us.”

The speaker behind her talks again. «Power at Eighty percent. Please move behind the yellow lines.» Cassandra takes a deep breath that can be heard over the phone.

“Please, Liz, if you can, tell my parents I love them so much and will try and get back to them somehow. Tell Rory that I love her and I’m sorry I missed her birthday. We’ll have to take her to the aquarium in New Orleans some other time. Tell Felix I wish we could have talked more about his grandfather….” She’s starting to cry - this isn’t good. “I’m scared, Liz. I’m so scared….”

With a shuddering sob, Cassandra finishes her message. “It’s time, Liz. I’ve got to go. I love you. Goodbye.” The phone is placed down, not hung up. There is a high-pitched whining sound as the particle accelerator begins operation. «Caution! Reactor overload detected!»

And then the connection is severed.

It isn’t fear in his face, as he listens to that message, that last, terribly final click. If anything, his expression’s set in that cop’s mask, the old emotional armor….which only makes the look in his eyes that much more raw by contrast. There’s too much there, chasing itself behind his eyes.

“Either way, she’s gone,” he says, softly. “I hope she got out, in time. I hope she’s found herself in another world.” And then his lip curls in that old curve, the look that can never make up its mind if it’s a sneer or a smirk or just a grin. “A better one than this, if there is one. But….what about you? Wasn’t that your only possible way back?”

Swallowing hard, Elisabeth shakes her head in the negative. "That was never going to be my way back," she confesses quietly. "Kaito Nakamura told me that three years ago. It was why I went to Gabriel after Magnes was supposedly killed." She'd hoped that perhaps he would be able to work with Mateo, though she's never given Felix his name. She sits up and drags both of her hands through her dark hair. He knows Gabriel was killed doing it and that Eileen is in possession of the dark power of Kazimir Volken because of that mistake. But she drops a loaded bombshell that she hasn't told him up until now. "But about a month ago, Eileen took Magnes's daughter. And the portal-creator's son."

Because how do you get law enforcement involved when you're not even supposed to exist? "I don't… understand why she'd take the kids to Geopoint unless she took them through the portal. And Magnes is going to go absolutely ballistic." Along with Elaine, Mateo, and Lynette. Rightfully so.

Now Fel’s just blank. “… think they intended to flee? To use the portal and not just destroy it?” For some reason, that’s got him on the back foot. “To what end?” Still used to thinking of the Vanguard as pure destroyers. “I….” He looks away for a moment, gazes out over the expanse of the park, brow knit, then looks back to her. Clearly, he’s badly behind.

He's not as behind as he fears. Elisabeth's expression tells him that she's just as baffled as he is. "I can't figure out any reason they'd be at Geopoint with Addie in tow or the other little boy… but Cassandra saw Eileen and a child. I…. have absolutely no idea, Feeb." Hence, probably, the way she looks right now. Pretty much wrecked. "And I don't know what the hell to do to even start to fix it. Except… keep doing what we've been doing. I have to assume that the portal coincidentally or by design was set to open now. Nakamura actually said there'd be an opportunity in June of this year to get out of here, and this must have been it. The next window is in November. Between now and then… I have got to figure a way to get us the fuck out of here. I've got to find those kids, Felix." And maybe she'll find Cassandra too? There's a desperate hope to the idea that they can find ANY of them.

She pauses and then looks at him, more helpless than she's ever looked. "And some part of me? Sits here and thinks that I really need to just stop even trying. Not that I have that luxury, but… every single fucking time, it goes wrong."

There’s another of those slow, deliberative silences. “You could,” he says, softly, finally. “You could stay.” He wants her to. He does. He knows what’s better for everyone, the pieces back in place. But….even someone as cold and cerebral as he can be sometimes yields to feeling. Not looking at her again, jaw tight.

Then he rubs a hand over his face, sighs, banishing that with a squaring of his shoulders. “I know. Not really. Sorry. Moment of weakness…”

The words resonate strongly. When he looks at her, he can see the temptation. It's no secret between them that she sought him out from sheer need of a connection — loneliness in its purest form, though he was not her Felix and she was not his Liz. Two and a half years later, when they are the only Felix and Liz around anymore, how far does that knowledge really carry either of them? They've been scrupulous about that line. For that one long moment, Elisabeth holds his gaze and lets herself wonder. It would be so much simpler. She could put down the burden of responsibility for the others. She could let herself really live.

And then he apologizes, and she turns her eyes toward the ground. "The night Aurora came home from the hospital," Elisabeth murmurs softly, "was a hard night. I remember… telling Ygraine I didn't belong here. That I don't belong anywhere or to anyone." The line of her jaw trembles. "If I were to stay here for anyone, it would be for you." The admission is a soft one, but she clasps her hands in her lap. "A week ago, I would have seriously considered it and asked you how we could get Lee on board." A week ago, Eileen hadn't kidnapped two children through a portal, they hadn't lost Cassandra to fucking Pinehearst projects on the Looking Glass. But her course was set long ago.

“A week ago, I would’ve started negotiating with him like I was chief of the HRU,” he says, drily. Lee can be brought around, when Fel really applies himself. The temptation is clear there, too….but also the burden of duty. You don’t take that career without at least some belief in the value of public service, whatever egotistical bastard he might be. But she can see his shoulders set, resignation weighting them.

It does not, however, stop him from leaning over to kiss her, lightly, gently, on the lips. A farewell to what might’ve been, before it ever really began.

It makes her giggle. She can't help it. The HRU chief that trained Liz is still training people, and he was the biggest hardass and the best negotiator she ever met. When he leans over, she tips her chin and kisses him lingeringly in return, her fingertips coming up to brush his jaw. The soft sigh she lets free as they both draw back conveys regret. And her blue eyes flicker up to him. "If it were meant to be, you'd have asked me a week ago, dorogoy" Elisabeth points out softly. All things happen the way they're supposed to. She has to keep believing it else risk the thought that she's gotten all of the people who died in the wake of their travels killed for nothing.

Leaning sideways to tuck her head under his chin, Elisabeth say softly, "I will find a way to get word to you that we're okay. Somehow." It may be a promise she cannot keep, but she also can't not make it.

It’s settling on him like a soft weight. He thought he was resigned. But the heart is obdurate, no matter what. Liz will be going, and the day will come when no iteration of her walks the earth he knows. Not anymore. “I know,” he says, gently, arm still around her. “And I’ll know. Somehow, i’ll know. It all has to go back, the threads untangled, if they ever can be.” Even he, however, can’t pretend to like it, pretend to be unmoved by it all. The man’s mature enough to bear it, a far cry from the old, impatient young cop.

She doesn't know if those threads can untangle. All she knows is that his will not be the only heart broken when she has to leave. Elisabeth buries her forehead against his neck where she can take in the unique scent of the man, holding it in her memory. He's the one tangible link she has to a life that is beginning to fade in her mind… going 'home' holds almost as much trepidation for her as the idea of staying here. "It's been so many years already," she admits softly. "I've held on to this one truth — that I need to get home. But leaving — choosing to leave rather than being hurtled against my own will or just because we're being chased — will be one of the hardest things I'll ever do."

What about her Felix? Much more scarred and battered, forgetful and bemused, and still fighting. “It’s been a long time,” he admits. “But it will. Human hearts put down roots, no matter what. Our ability to adapt…it’s what lets us survive. It’s not reasonable, though, is it? They want what they want.” He laughs, briefly, but it’s mirthless. “I think you’re right, though. Much as I don’t want you to be. YOu’ll have to go. And I’ll have to help you do it.” If he has the strength to willingly assist in that sacrifice of a portion of his own heart.

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