Savior's Guilt


vf_elspeth_icon2.gif magnes_icon2.gif

Scene Title Savior's Guilt
Synopsis Two survivors try to talk, and neither comes out feeling good about it.
Date February 1st, 2012

The Village Renaissance Building, Apartment 309

A lot of things happened in a single day, but Magnes has had some time to think about his actions. Something went horribly wrong… Eileen stabbed him, an Eileen who was apparently leading a peaceful life, and it was ultimately his fault.

He's been in deep guilt, even before that, because the things he does, much like the Magnes of this world, seem to consistently turn out wrong, and… he needs that to change.

When he shows up at Elspeth's apartment, apparently Quinn's old apartment, to his surprise, it's because he realized, after everything calmed down, that his presence, his arrival, caused her a ridiculously huge loss. In truth, his plan, his hope, his drive to return… if he didn't do these things, if he didn't agree that he'd get him and Elisabeth back home, if he simply accepted fate, a lot of people would still be alive.

And, as much as Elisabeth told him to, he's only just begun to think about the lives he's impacted. Not the lives lost, he thinks about those constantly, but… the ones left behind, the ones he got out, the ones who didn't get out entirely whole…

He knocks on her door, wearing a white long sleeve button up with a black tie and some blue jeans, and black Converse. He's cut his hair, which will probably be his last hair cut for the next five years.

He looks exhausted, like he's been crying, and hasn't been sleeping very well.


It takes a moment for there to be any response on the otherside of the door to apartment 309, but when Magnes does hear the familiar voice of Elspeth Graves, there's an uncertain tone to it. Pensive, almost a bit fearful. He can hear the footsteps as she approaches, a hand against a door as latches and locks are un done. Slowly, the door opens up, and Elspeth peers out.

And immediately her eyes widen.

"W-What in th'-" She wrinkles her nose. "I didn't…" She watches him a bit more, before the door opens enough to reveal her still bandaged face. "Jesus, I didn't expect y' to track me down so quickly," she says quietly. "I only just moved in. What are you doing here?"

It would seem that it doesn't occur to her, at least at first, that this isn't the Magnes Varlane she met the other night on her way home.

She looks at him, at his weary, tired face. "Christ, y' look ever worse f'r wear t'day. Are you-" Wait. No. Immediately Elspeth posture starts to straighten, looking like she is dramatically more on guard. Now she sees it.

"You should leave."

"I need to be here." Magnes says, sounding very serious, running a hand down his face for a moment. "Every day I think about what I could have done right, what I could have done better, and, ultimately, I realize that I don't think I could have truly done anything right."

"Wanting to leave… it was selfish, rushed…" He starts trying to say something, and then just stares down at his feet. "I just keep thinking about everyone who was lost, and then I started thinking about everyone who lost someone, and…"

"I never said anything to you." He looks back up at her, the guilt in his eyes clear as day. "I never said a single word to you. I thought getting you all out, that was the priority, but… I didn't get you all out, and now it's like… I don't know what to say, I barely know what I'm thinking, I just felt like I needed to come here, I needed to say something to you."

He looks from left to right, as if that's the whole of the universe. "I keep thinking… if I never came, if I never arrived in that world, you'd all be at least kind of happy, but you aren't happy now, are you? I didn't do anything for you at all, did I?" he asks, as if he already knows the answer to that question. "I ruined your life…"

Elspeth stares out the cracked door for several moment, silent. "Y' know, if she was here, she'd tell you that y' picked a hell of a time t' grow a conscience." The door moves, like it's going to shut -but it doesn't. At the last moment, a long sigh issues forth, and the door opens. Elspeth turns away from it wordlessly, moving deeper into her apartment.

While the layout is familiar to Magnes - a large living room, an attached kitchen, a bathroom, and two doors he knows leads to bedrooms - it is a stark contrast to the last time he's seen this apartment. The walls are bare, room empty. A fold up card table substitutes for anything nicer, and the open door to one of the bedrooms reveals little inside of it besides a mattress bare on box springs. Two folding chairs and a giant beanbag occupy the living room, the literal cheapest seats Elspeth could find.

It's a bit of a wonder she found a place like this so quickly. Her interview at the school had to have gone well.

"You have fifteen minutes," she says roughly, clearing her throat afterwards. "And then I never want to see you again." She turns back to him, though she can't quite bring herself to look him in the eyes. "Because you're right. The Hub was awful. But we were happy. As we could be."

"Kazimir was going to find you eventually. I think he already knew you were there. With the kinds of abilities he had… But that's not the point. My point is… it was your life, it was your world, and even though it was hellish to me, even though I couldn't imagine leaving people there in that… hopelessness, it was yours…" Magnes doesn't try to make her look, or try to move around or anything, he remains where he is.

"Other survivors are happy, they want to be in this world, but you, it was forced onto you, I realize that, and you lost someone, and now you're here in this place…" He has to take a breath, swallow. "I couldn't make everyone happy, I couldn't save everyone. No matter what, someone was going to be forced into decisions they didn't want to make, forced into a life they didn't ask for, even if some could argue that it's better."

"But some people don't matter… you matter, and I didn't think about a way to make sure that everyone got what they wanted somehow, I didn't think of a safe way, if there even was a safe way…" He turns around now, leaning his hand against the wall next to the door. "I keep thinking, over and over again, that going back to my world, as badly as I want it, the sacrifices… the lives it'll keep affecting… I keep wondering if I should have stayed there, in the Hub, never mentioned to anyone, not even to Elisabeth, that there might be a way out."

"We'd have all died, probably in ten years or so, Kazimir would have come. But… Fuck…" He turns around again, he's been talking for about ten minutes. "I want to do something for you, anything. I keep thinking that I need to make things right, I can't just… I can't just leave you to be alone. You deserve more than this, than to just get dumped off somewhere and told to live your life."

"Please…" He offers his hand to her, much in the way that the other Magnes did. "Please let me try. I know that you don't like me, I know that you probably hate me, but please, let me try to make things right, somehow…"

"Let you try and what?" Elspeth has been quiet, leaning against the wall that separates the kitchen from the living room, arms crossed as she watches Magnes talk. "You can't! There's no making things right!" She takes in a deep breath, running a hand down her face. "I don't know what you think you're going to do, Magnes."

She pushes off the wall, a finger pointing at Magnes as she approaches him. "Do you want to know what it looked like t' me? It looked like some brash kid comin' int' our home, an' tellin' us we were wrong. That everythin' was wrong." She looks at him, eye to eye as she takes in a breath.

"And at first y' just seemed like really excitable kid form the outside, an' then you got t' runnin' your mouth." She lets that sit for a moment, before continuing. "Aislinn though you were full a' it, but y' seemed like a good kid. Bit crazy, but whatever." Arms crossed, she step back away. "An' then suddenly, it was like were callin' the shots. That there was all these thigns we had t' do t' get you home. Until finally, my sister goes out - for nothin', and doesn't. Come. Back."

She had, in a manner, but there had been no messing around with her status of infection. "We were perfectly fine before you! Sure, the Hub was a hellhole, but we got by! An' if Kazimir was goin' t' come for us, if the Vanguard was goin' t' show up, at least we could've handled it on our terms!"

"I thought I was doing the right thing, it wasn't just about me getting home, I really, genuinely wanted to get all of you out, I just… I thought it was the right thing…" Magnes leans against the wall, watching her, the guilt in his eyes very deep. He doesn't seem inclined to disagree with her at all. "I've never been faced with something like that before, the idea that it was on my shoulders to just, save that many people. I've had to help save the world before, but it was always someone else in charge, it was never all on me. I just, I was trying to do what I thought other people would do, I thought the right thing was to get you all out…"

"I can't make it right, not for you, I know I can't. I don't know what the right thing to do would truly be. Leave everyone down there? Fight Kazimir? Try to find a way to escape without Gillian? I don't know, I really don't know." He's quiet then, but he continues to stare at her.

"What would you have done? This is a real question, I want to know. If you showed up somewhere, in a world where everyone is dead or suffering, trapped, dealing with some deadly virus… If you had the power to save them all, would you, could you have done nothing?" he asks, his tone pleading, for whatever reason. "I know that, in the end, I definitely didn't save everyone, you know that better than most, but… fuck…"

"It wasn't about me…" is all he can think to say next. "But… it feels so wrong to do nothing, even now, it feels wrong to just leave you without offering anything, without gaining some sort of understanding, offering you… something…" he pleads, more, sounding almost distraught, starting to slide down her wall, until he's sitting on the floor.

"Really? It wasn't about you an'- what's her name. Lizbeth? Wait, Elisabeth." She huffs out a breath. "The both a' you barrelled into The Hub, an' she started makin' friends an' you somehow convinced my best friend t'- I don't even know." She reaches up, running a hand down her face. "An' I'm sure people're happy t' be outta there, but what now?"

She glowers at him, before making her way back to the kitchen, voice raised so that Magnes can still hear her. "Did y' ever think 'bout that? It ain't just me, y' wronged! What 'bout the people who were close t' Peyton an' Card?" She stops, looking back out the kitchen. "What about Denisa! The- fuckin' kids!"

She had been meaning to get water, but instead she walks out, furiously marching back up to Magnes. "Y' wanna know what I would've done? I wouldn't have roped everyone int' my bullshit without asking them first. An' now that we're her, what?" It's been fifteen minutes, but she no longer seems interested in keeping track. "Come on, out with it. What now? We can't go back t' our lives. An' some of us didn't even have lives t' go back to."

"It wasn't about us. Yes, I wanted to get back home, but do you honestly think I just wanted to… leave you all there, in that? I know, it's more complicated, there's more to it, but… I don't have all the answers, I never had all the answers, I just wanted to give people a better life…" Magnes holds his chest, tears starting to come now.

Something she said struck a chord.

"This is… this is the second time I've lost Denisa. I wanted her to get to live, not to have to grow up only to get killed by Kazimir one day, not to have to worry about this virus…" He starts to frantically wipe his eyes, becoming increasingly hysterical. "I lost her again, the me in that world, he killed Abby, Gillian's gone, Peyton's gone, Cardinal's gone, Eileen…"

"How many times…" he asks, hugging his legs close, burying his face into his knees. "How many times will I have to watch my friends die, over and over again. It's like the universe is telling us all that we don't matter, that nothing we do can ever save them, or if we do save them, we'll have to watch them die somewhere anyway…"

He finally raises his head, then starts to stand, reaching for the door. "Why am I doing this, why am I here. I just… I can't do this, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have come, here or there, I shouldn't have come. I'm done with all of this, I'm done with going home, I'm done with trying to help, I'm just…"

"Denisa's gone again… the one thing I wanted was to save Denisa and Mala, that was all I wanted. I wanted to save them, I didn't want to watch them die again…" He starts to slide down to his knees again, curling up. "Denisa…"

"It's not your call who grows up where!" Elspeth huffs out a breath. "Y' know what? I was happy in th' Hub, teachin' the kids with Elaine, listenin' t' my sister bitch, hangin' out with Dessa an' the others. An' I could've stayed, but y' didn't leave much choice by kickin' the hornet's nest." She takes a deep breath as he curls up on the floor, rolling her eyes.

"Oh, so that y' get upset about," she grumbles out, hands on her hips as she looks down at him. "Y' may've meant t' do good, but you don't get t' decide these things f'r everyone. I'm at least lucky I got t' see Aislinn after the raid! Some others weren't." She crouches down, scowling at him. "Maybe think about that th' next time you want to change the lives a' literally everyone around y'. Maybe think about that while y'r here. I dunno what kind of a shithoused world you come from, an' I don't care, but this one's pretty nice."

She looks at him for a moment longer, before rising back up. "Don't think I'm not listenin' t' you. I'm a teacher. I always listen." She turns away again, making her way over to her table. "I just… don't care, Magnes. I don't." She pulls out the chair and slides down in it, crossing her legs.

"The worst part? Y' woulda liked her," she says after a moment, quieter this time. "Aislinn. She's hot headed too, but great with people. Loved gettin' t' know everyone in the Hub, even knowin' we'd never get back t' Scotland.

Finger drum in her lap. "The gesture is noted, Magnes. The apology. I just don't think it means much."

It takes Magnes some time to compose himself, to breathe, to stop thinking. He wipes his eyes again, getting himself together, standing up. "I didn't mean to do all that." he says, of his sudden breakdown, then turns around to face her again. "It's not my place to say if what I did was wrong or not… what I did was wrong for some people, and right for others. At the end of the day… I literally played god, and I got stuck in thinking there was only one right way, because I thought that in the end, it would be worth it, everyone would be happy."

"Should I leave?" he asks, briefly glancing to the door. "I just… I don't know what to do for you, I don't know how to make things better."

He crosses his arms, and stares at his shoes. "Can you come see Elaine sometimes? Don't… I mean, I can't tell you what to do, I don't have any right, but… I don't want you to be here just… alone. I want to be able to offer you something, I want to help you. I know that it all seems like too little too late, but I don't want to just leave you here suffering alone…"

Elspeth stares at him for a moment, before closing her eyes. "You should," she says, though a noticeable pause follows. "But take a moment to get yourself together." She'll at least give him that. Even she can't throw someone out in the state Magnes seems to be in.

Eyes move to the door, and the down to the table in front of her. "I would rather be left alone," she admits quietly. "I'm- I'm dead in this world. Even if I wanted t' go back t' a life, I don't have one. At least-" And suddenly she finds herself choking up at bit. "At least Aislinn's doin' well, from what I read."

She shakes her head. "So… I'm fine bein' on my own. It's for the best, Magnes." Eyes shift back to him. "Elaine knows where to find me, if she decides otherwise."

"You can have a life. You don't have to live alone, and you can make friends, we can all make friends… but, I have to respect you, and what you want, I owe you that much. I owe you the respect of your decisions. Just…" Magnes sighs, as there's many things the old him would have suggested, but… "Just know that the offer is always there, even if you hate me more than anything, the offer is there."

He suddenly looks to her kitchen, thinking for a moment. "This… is probably stupid, but, one of my best friends lived in this apartment, the same one, this exact room and building, back in my world. I've been here before."

"I can make friends," Elspeth asserts. "And I will." She looks off to the side, out one of the windows. "It's too late," she says quietly. "But thank you, still." SHe's not sure she means it, but she still says it. "I'll be fine on my own. I already have a job lined up, teaching. Summer work too, when the time comes."

So, she seems to be set.

She doesn't look back at him when she continues, eyes focused outside. "Maybe they lived here before. Sudden vacancy. Swept in with what money I had, once I got the word I had th' teaching job." There's a small shrug from Elspeth. "If they did, they didn't leave anythin' behind." She stops, looking around the apartment, suddenly curious. "Different world. Christ, who'd've thought," she remarks, as if she still doesn't believe it.

"This is my third universe, and I've also time travelled before. It's all starting to make life feel… I don't know. I don't know how to deal with it, really. Not anymore…" Magnes takes a seat on the floor again, though this time not broken down into tears. He just seems… exhausted. "I've been thinking about how different I am in different universes. In your world, I gave completely into Kazimir, I led one of my closest friends to her death… I can't get over it, I can't stop thinking about it. That I could become that kind of person… I think he killed himself because he couldn't take the guilt, when he realized I was from another world, that he didn't have to do what he did."

But he can't be sure, he might never be sure, he just lays his head against her wall and closes his eyes. "The me here is a drunk. I think he realized how hard it is to do the right thing, got tired of things always turning out badly, my decisions either getting myself or other people hurt."

"That I can imagine. I thought about giving up on life so many times. My father told me I was nothing, he disowned me, all because I wanted to be independent, I didn't want to live the life that he wanted me to live. I wanted friends…" He looks over at her, his tone becoming a little more relaxed. "These worlds, it makes me wonder what it means to even exist. If I'm supposed to find some kind of meaning in it…"

He finally asks, completely off topic, "Do you think we'll ever be friends, Elspeth?" he asks, clearly hopeful, though there's a hint of defeat in his tone as well.

"Yeah, an' I'm dead, an' nothin' can tell me how or why." Elspeth's voice is flat as she looks annoyedly at him. "An' I met you." From the tone of her voice, it probably didn't go well. "I dunno about all this kinda stuff. Don't really care t'. All I know if that I'm far from home an' I can't go back. But you? Maybe don't worry about it. Maybe focus on makin' sure Elaine does well." She rises up from her seat with a tired groan. "If you want t' do somethin' for me, Magnes? Do that."

And with that, she motions to the door. "No." Flat, terse. That's that. "I don't care what y' do with your life Magnes, s'long as you're doin' right by her." She looks him in the eyes, hands slipping into pockets. "Get out."

"I love her, I really do. Otherwise I think I'd be a lot more freaked out about having a baby so quickly…" Magnes rises to his feet in a surreally effortless way, mostly thanks to gravity. "Even so, Elspeth, my door will always be open to you. I hope that one day… I just hope that maybe we're okay one day."

That's all he can really say, offering her a weak smile, still very exhausted, and then heads out the door.

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