Shadow Relationships


bf_cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth4_icon2.gif

Scene Title Shadow Relationships
Synopsis He never got to say goodbye.
Date December 2, 2014

Park in Jackson Heights

She's aware of him. She may not have been certain at first — they have not spoken though both have been told of the other's existence. She isn't sure when exactly she became aware of him, it was a subtle thing, but she hasn't called him on it. She knows he's been present a couple of evenings when she's been home with the child, she sensed that he might be watching at least one night at the club where she sings. It is not until this night when she becomes aware of the shadows as she walks through the small park near their apartment that she finally speaks.

"I'm sorry for your loss," are the words she offers into the silence, pausing near a bench and lowering herself into it. She looks different enough, certainly, with hair a soft near-black color although her daughter's is a dirty blonde shade coupled with her hazel eyes. "Are you looking for similarities and differences? Or are you trying to figure something else out?"

There’s silence in the night for several long heart-beats before there’s a response. It’s subtle at first, a stirring of darkness that twists up from the night behind her choice of seating, wispy substance forming up into the shape of an owl perched upon the bench-back, looking sightlessly at as three dimensional nothingness.

That’s a trick that her Richard never managed.

A low, whispering susurrance answers her, “I never got to say good-bye. She never knew what happened to me.

Silence, then another reverberating murmur, eerie in the evening, “You look like her. But you don’t move like she did.

Elisabeth is quiet as he seeks out and finds the way he wants to hold this conversation. She smiles just a little at the faint owl-like shape, her blue eyes taking it in thoughtfully. "I know you didn't," she says softly. She's sorry for that too. The fact that she doesn't move like Liz Harrison here makes her stop to think about it. "I probably don't," she concedes. "We've lived very different lives for the past several years. Different training, different kinesthetics, different awarenesses."

She looks away. "She never had to become the soldier that I became, I guess," is the thought that she voices. "It wasn't exactly the path I expected." That he remains a shadow isn't a surprise — Richard has ever been cautious. But she's curious because of something Magnes said. "Are you stuck in shadow form?" she asks in a serious tone. "Or is it a preference?"

The shadow-owl stares at her silently, eyelessly, for a long moment before its head tilts slightly to one side. “Both,” he replies in that eerie, drifting whisper, echoing but so closely after the sound that it’s more of a reverberation, “I thought that I could do less damage like this, after… I saw a prophet, and he showed me what I’d be.

Another moment’s silence, before he murmurs uncertainly, “I don’t know if I was right. Maybe this was worse. I don’t think I can turn back anymore. Maybe it’s for the best, though.

The whispering shadows inquire, then, “What is it like, where you’re from?

"Is it?" she murmurs softly. But she leaves that thought alone for now. Pulling in a breath, Elisabeth lets it out slowly. "It's… similar to here. Perhaps not as nice depending on your perspective. I guess about the time you went to shadowform is kind of where a lot of the differences begin. After that point in my world, we wound up with some intel on what Arthur was doing because some people landed here in your future. When they came back, we made the decision to fight him before Pinehearst got to be so large. So… things got worse for Evos. Registration became mandatory. Eltingville got turned into a concentration camp.. Oh, excuse me… a safe haven neighborhood."

She rolls her blue eyes. "Arthur wasn't around to keep the Vanguard in check, and they … turned into a significant threat. They're basically what I've spent the past several years fighting." Liz pauses slightly and offers a faint smile. "With you."

With me,” echoes Cardinal, bemusedly.

The shadow is silent for a full minute, perhaps digesting that mentally, considering it. The edges of his form drift and seethe in wispy instability that she normally doesn’t see with his power - an artifact of three dimensionality, she’d have to suppose.

Did I… was…” A pause, hesitant, “Was there an… Institute?

"Yes," Elisabeth replies candidly. "And it threw us for several loops when we found out who headed it." She grimaces faintly, shoving her hands into the pockets of the sweater she wears, considering all of that situation. "Richard called him Zeke. He's… actually the reason Magnes and I were thrown from our own reality into this insanity that we're amid now. He…"

How to really speak of him? "I don't know what you learned here. Or how much you learned. In my world… Zeke and Elisabeth's son and a bunch of companions came back through time to help us stop the Institute." It seems the simplest way to explain it though it's not entirely accurate. "Zeke made a lot of mistakes and frankly… I honestly believe the man lost his mind. He'd killed his version of Liz, resurrected her and lied about it, and he himself had been resurrected God alone knows how many times and ways. He was… a ghost of the man I know."

She looks at the shadow form of him and says softly, "My Richard is far more like you — horrified by what might have been. The things that happened around us meant that he had different choices… Going into shadow wasn't one he considered because we needed him."

Suicide is a cardinal sin,” Richard replies in a quiet, ironic whisper, “Mortification of the flesh isn’t.

The shadow twists, tearing apart and reforming a moment later a short step away, drifting tendrils of darkness bringing it back together as one. “I’m sorry. I know what he did. What I would have done. I saw it all. Arthur. Kravid. Gregor. Bao-Wei. The hunters. The Ark.

I hope you stopped him,” murmurs Cardinal.

"We did," Elisabeth assures him, a hint of sadness to the assurance. "Richard killed him after Magnes and I were sucked through the black hole in 2011." She reaches up to shove her hair back from her forehead and hold it there in a movement that she shares with his Liz. "I… wish that I could say something to help you," she admits. "I'm personally grateful that you didn't commit suicide. We're… not the same people. But… I think that would have broken my heart."

Her smile is faintly self-deprecating. "It already breaks my heart that I couldn't save her."

It wasn’t your fault,” the shadow whispers as he looks back to Elisabeth, a still and strange bird of living darkness, “And I… could have talked to her years ago. Told her what happened. But she would’ve tried to talk me out of it. I couldn’t risk that.

The edges blur further, the avian form drifting less together, “I could’ve told her about Arthur.

Ah. Some things are consistent through worlds, it seems. The shadows of guilt among them. "You could have," she agrees. "But neither of us knows if that would have changed things. I guess it would have depended on whether she'd figured out where you fit in her world. Hell… I could have warned her when we arrived. But I thought… if I stayed away… maybe she'd be safer." There's a pause and she admits, "And that maybe Aurora and I would be safer too. I warned people close to her. We were all watching out for her as much as we could. But we still didn't see Samson Gray coming."

She grimaces. "So yeah… it kind of is my fault," Liz observes. "At least in some ways."

Watching the shadows swirl and re-form themselves, she tilts her head slightly. "My Richard couldn't do that… not in three dimensions," she comments, perhaps needing the unrelated comment in between the harder conversation. "Can you interact with the world when you do it?"

The question earns her a hollow, faintly echoing chuckle that — somehow — has no mirth at all to it.

In a manner of speaking…” A tendril of shadow drifts away, brushing down the slats of the bench’s back and leaving nothing behind — just a smooth gap where there was once wood, separating the slats neatly in two, filmy wisps of shadow bleeding away and disappearing. “…you could ask the King of Swords, but there’s nothing left to ask.

Elisabeth never could keep track of who was who in that deck of cards. "Epstein?" she asks. "Or was that Raith? Hmm." There's no judgement attached to the sound. Merely acceptance of the fact that apparently he absorbed the man and killed him. She doesn't seem surprised, though, either. "I knew you could pull matter into the shadows," she admits, "but I'm not sure if he ever tried living beings. If he did, he never mentioned it. He was pretty proficient at grabbing up giant piles of snow to dump on my head, though." The memory brings a smile to tug her cheeks upward and brings a lightness to her expression.

She releases a heavy breath slowly. "So, Cardinal…" Liz chooses to use the name for her own reasons, in this case that she doesn't want to presume on him. "Tell me… now that you've been dumped ass over teakettle into the midst of all this, what are you going to do next?" A single brow pops up and she offers him a faintly cheeky smile, though it has its own shadows attached. "Disneyland isn't an option in this one, I don't think."

Harper,” provides Richard Cardinal in a low and hissing whisper, “Desmond Harper. The Butcher of Moab.

The living darkness spreads its ‘wings’ slightly, negative ‘steam’ rising off it as a more bird-like head lifts slightly. “There is work to be done. Things are going to get… very bad. We will need to fight.

There's the man she knows and loves. She files the name away for later thought — it's not one she remembers off the top of her head. "We will," she agrees. Elisabeth is nothing if not pragmatic about the need. "Ivanov has intel that will be able to be put to use to bring Pinehearst itself down. It just… needs to be approached a little carefully to limit the collateral damage. I'm hoping that very bad in this world doesn't look the same as very bad in mine — apparently it has been fighting the second Civil War while I've been getting tossed about the dimensions." She sounds somewhat disgusted, as if she's blaming herself for being here and not there helping that crisis.

She finally drags her hand down out of her hair and leans her head on it, resting her elbow on the back of the bench as she looks at him. "There are a couple of things that certainly could use your particular skill set — the more mundane ones, anyway. Spying, listening, passing information along, the like." She shrugs just a little. "I have a person inside Kravid's team, but getting info out of there is going to be a bitch and a half. And part of what needs to be stopped is that project — that technology, as far as I can fucking tell, is a threat in any world. As the fight goes on, Arthur himself likely needs to be killed. I don't know if it's the only way to stop him, but it's sure as hell the most expedient. But it's not going to be simple, assuming he has any of the same powers he had back in my world. Perhaps between you and Edward, you can come up with — or already have come up with, knowing how he works — a way to help that goal along."

She goes quiet for a long few moments. Her blue eyes trail across his shadow form, lingering at the areas along the edge where they seem to taper out of existence and then pull together back inward. In the low visibility of the night, most people couldn't see the wistful expression but she has forgotten that he probably can as she takes the opportunity to simply look and allow herself to remember. When she speaks again, she sounds weary. "At minimum we're here until 2017 or later. I'm told that's the first window I have to be able to get my daughter home to meet her father. So… it looks like it's time to dust off my Arthur-ass-kicking boots and get back to work."

Arthur dies,” Richard Cardinal hisses lowly, “There is no question there. No uncertainty. The hour comes ‘round at last for him. I can promise you that… you focus on getting yourselves home. Let us deal with that… particular problem. Find your world. Your me.

The ‘owl’ or bird splits apart then into a roiling mass of darkness, bleeding up into the shadows of the trees overhead, “We will make things right. And if we leave naught but ashes, we will still rise from it.

"Making it right is a different thing than burning it all to ashes. She deserves justice and even vengeance… but she'd want you to be careful of the line," Elisabeth says softly. "What makes you different from what Zeke became is the unwillingness to sacrifice the innocent in the quest for the greater good." She moves to stand up and looks up into the tree where he retreated. "Good night, Richard." She expects they'll talk again at some point… and perhaps there will come a day when he's not so enraged.

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