She Made Me Promise


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Scene Title She Made Me Promise
Synopsis Following Richard and Elisabeth's wedding reception, Kaylee and Michelle slip away to talk.
Date August 6, 2019


U.S. Virgin Islands

To be honest, Kaylee had never been on a tropical island before. Ever. So she had planned to sit, take in the atmosphere, and throw herself a little pity party…. Well, until Michelle stormed into her area, disrupting her thoughts.

“Openhiemer was more than the atrocities wrought by the government using his theories for war,” Kaylee points out, giving the Cardinal matriarch a rueful smile. “Not saying that Warren doesn’t have things to atone for, since our father destroyed his mind and pieced it back together.”

It was so casual.

Then again, Kaylee like so many has lived through a lot. More evident when the first mortar pops into the air and explodes. The telepath lets loose a barely contained shriek of fear and curls into herself. Hands cover her head through the next to loud pops, before wide eyes turn skyward again, briefly wild with fear. It takes another explosion of pyrokinetics to

“Fuck! They could have warned me,” Kaylee hisses out and scrambles to her feet, picking up the thin cover, shaking out the sand. “Excuse me while I put distance between me and that,” she points at a fresh explosion of color, “while dodging … “ the telepath looks down the beach with a bland look and doesn’t finish that thought. “Stuff.” Didn’t matter if people were hidden, their minds give them away.

“Either way, I’m out… “ Kaylee starts to walk away from the wedding further and people.

Then Kaylee stops and half turns to look over her shoulder at Richard’s mother. “Walk with me if you want. I know we don’t know each other, but.. Still kinda family… in a weird… multidimensional… roundabout way.” Kaylee can’t help but smile a bit at that thought.

Michelle looks up toward the fireworks, squinting, and then looks back down to Kaylee as she makes her way down the beach. Expression flat, she looks to the drink handed over to her and then back up to Kaylee before continuing on across the sand after her. Michelle doesn’t talk, not for a long while. Partly because of the fireworks, partly because she’s waiting for the right words to form before she says something. As smart as she is, moments like this feel so far outside of her control.

“You’re Edward’s daughter, aren’t you?” Michelle asks at Kaylee’s back. So much for the right words. “I remember you from the… landing.” Landing being the most delicate way to describe her arrival in this timeline. She and Kaylee hadn’t spent much time together, and Michelle was only tangentially aware of who Kaylee was as a person as a result of that. She’d retired from her seat at Raytech when Michelle was still in quarantine.

“Yup,” Is Kaylee’s answer to the question, her head bobbing a bit. “And you’re Richard’s mom,” She offers Michelle a crooked smile. For a long moment, that is all Michele gets. Maybe, the telepath is having the same issue. Finding words.

“I admit, I’m kinda jealous,” she finally says turning her eyes to the sand. Kaylee’s shoulders shrugs a bit, an attempt to look nonchalant over a sore subject. “Richard gets to know you.” Hands come up in a defensive gesture. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled that he does. Richard deserves it… I just… I never got to know Edward, only what others say.” By her tone, it wasn’t good.

There is a soft huffed sound, like a chuckle, as Kaylee turns her attention to the waves. “Didn’t stop me from acting like him and leaving my husband and kids… Clearly, it’s genetic.” Not that she really believe that. Time for a shift of focus.

Twisting a bit to consider the older woman, Kaylee asks. “By that question, though, I’m guessing you never met me?” The her over there.

“Things were different,” Michelle says quietly, catching up to Kaylee and walking along beside her, largely forgetting about the drink she was given. “Edward was on the run for a while, after everything fell apart when we test-fired the Looking Glass and… I lost Richard.” She looks down to the sand as she walks, fireworks blossoming at her back.

“I… didn’t see Edward again for years. I think it was… 88? When Bush came in and closed down the Icarus project, cleaned up OSI. We reunited, worked together… god, for almost twenty years.” There’s a faint smile that crosses Michelle’s face. “He was the one who brought down Arthur Petrelli, changed the way the government handled my — our,” she concedes to Kaylee, “kind. He wasn’t even like us, but he had his wife and daughter… and they were special. To him. In every way.”

Pausing along the beach, now that they’ve put some distance between themselves and the fireworks, Michelle finally takes a sip of her drink. “It wasn’t you, though. Was your mother’s name Juliette? Maiden name Luis?”

“No. Karen Thatcher, actually.” Kaylee’s brows furrow a bit in thought, something said nagging at her. “Juliette Luis died long ago, before I was even born… I think?” Some of the things learned from her brother could be a bit fuzzy. “I was born in 87… So never know, I could be there somewhere. Lord knows, here he had 3 kids with three different women and only met about ten years ago.”

Slowing to a stop shortly after Michelle, the telepath seems to relax away from the pops. Kaylee finally itches at that thing nagging her. “You said that he wasn't like us?” She looks genuinely confused. “Edward was evolved… here. Though I was told it - his ability - was given to him.” Hadn't she had that conversation with Liz? The telepath couldn't remember, but it had an edge of familiarity. “With enough data, he could make predictions. He was really into make string maps… Those damn predictions are what drove him away from me when I was little.”

A hand sweeps across the scenery, Kaylee looks resigned… yet sadness furrows her brow. “In fact, this world we live in is the result of his calculations.” She lets her attention drift back to Michelle. “This was - according to him - the only world… only… only scenario where all of his children lived.

“He burned the world to save us all… “ Kaylee says with words heavy with guilt. “Even Richard. He really loved your son.”

That much makes Michelle’s jaw tremble for a moment. She smiles, hiding it behind her drink and then uses the edge of her pinkie to wipe at one eye, turning away partly out of pride to hide the gesture. “Edward was as plain as paper,” Michelle comments, shaking her head. “He liked math and what whip-smart, but he wasn’t different. I suppose it makes sense, Juliette was his first love. If she died here, either after they met or before he ever got to know her…”

Michelle trails off, using the silence to sip at her drink again. “Juliette’s ability was outstanding. She could manipulate…” she struggles to find the right word, “reality, I guess. Not like, create things from nothing, but the way in which things happened. It’s hard to explain, we struggled to even study it. Their daughter though,” her eyes avert to the ocean, “she was like… I guess like you say Edward was here.”

The notion that Edward was given an ability sets ill at ease with her.

“Lisa could feel possibilities, like, gut instincts and reactions. She called them “good vibes” and “bad vibes,” and she often just did things based on how the prospect of it made her feel. If the world hadn’t fallen apart…” Michelle shakes her head.

“I wish I could apologize to your father,” Michelle finally admits. “For putting him in the position he was in. For everything.”

“Juliette sounds like an amazing woman…”

Kaylee can’t help but give a light laugh, before saying, “My mother, on the otherhand, was none of that. But she did love him and hated him,” she concedes on that last, ruefully. “I think having your husband tell you that your daughter was a monster and leaving you to deal with it on your own… I don’t think that sat too well. In fact, she was spiteful enough to lie to me about everything.” There is a slow shrug. Whatcha gonna do?

“But, as my Granny said, ‘If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride,’” Kaylee says softly, lost in thought, “I wish a lot about Edward, but I know I got to know him somewhere out there,” Her gaze shifts upward to the blanket of stars above them, a wistful smile touches her lips. “I take comfort in that… but I will always wish I could talk to him, show him his grandson. Somehow, I think the two of them would get along. You know? Carl’s favorite subject is math, too. Also big on reading. He’s so smart it scares me sometimes.”

But then, don’t all kids think their kids are smart? And always proud, like Kaylee sounds just then.

There is a deep breath, followed by an equally heavy sigh. Emotions pushed away and shoved down. “So Lisa?” Kaylee asks, while pulling on the light cover again.The light breeze coming off the water is slowly cooling and beginning to prickle against skin. “Did… did she come through with you?”

Michelle tenses when asked that question, then threads a lock of hair behind one ear. She watches the ocean, listens to the sound of the surf and the deadened thuds of the fireworks overhead. It hides the deep breath she takes, but not the look in her eyes when she finally turns to face Kaylee again.

“She made me promise.”

The Ark

Below Cambridge, Massachusetts

January 12th


Flood Timeline

A metal latch creaks loudly, followed by the groan of old hinges as the heavy steel door is swung open. Silhouette in the doorway, one of the conscript guards stands with a rifle over her shoulder and an aluminum cafeteria tray of yesterday’s leftovers. Stepping into the lightless cell, the guard sets the tray down on the floor and bends down into a crouch. Her knuckles rap twice on the grated metal floor. A signal.

Two minutes.

Emerging from the darkened back of the room into a single, pale shaft of fluorescent light from the hall, Michelle Cardinal stares at the guard, eyeing her rifle and the tray on the floor. She grabs it by the corner, tugs it toward herself and asks, “What's going on? Where's your backup?”

“Out. The visitors have distracted security. We’re looking for a way to get you out when the time comes. It's going to be a fight,” the guard says anxiously, “the chain of events is unpredictable. But you're at risk.”

Nodding, Chel picks up a morsel of beans and gravy with her fingers and forces herself to eat. “You need to leave with them,” she says quietly, “you and your father. Even if Don kills me I— ”

“Dad’s not leaving,” the guard whispers, eyes shut. “We debated, he won. I stayed behind the last time there was an escape attempt, he said it's his turn. He's going to make sure no one else uses your machine. Ever.” Michelle's back straightens at that assertion, but when she tries to voice dissent the young woman shakes her head. “He promised he'd help you find your son. You promised you'd look out for me. We all keep our word.”

Stomach turning, Chel slouches back and rakes one hand through her hair, then stares down at the rusted metal floor. She can't vocalize her agreement, but she can't vocalize an argument either. She's not strong enough for that anymore.

“We keep the ruse up. No one knows who I am,” the guard says, standing up from her crouch. “Don isn't the only person who’d use who I am against me. Promise me.”

“Lisa,” Michelle says with a nod.

“I promise.”

Present Day

“…so I told no one. She was just one of the survivors of the Ark traveling with us,” Chel says with a subtle incline of her head toward Kaylee. “She came out with the rest of us, and I kept her secret. Even here. She's so much like her father, so serious, so sure.”

Kaylee likely saw her that day and never realized it. Her sister.

In fact, Kaylee can only really stare at Michelle while the story is woven. If she had been anyone else, she could have thought the older woman was a hell of a storyteller. Still to hear of something that happened in another word.

“I’m sorry.”

The apology out before she can stop it, Kaylee studies the woman for a long moment. “That you ever had to go through all that. I heard a lot from Liz, at least what she could tell and I glimpsed bits and pieces from Aurora when I eased the memories of that place… “ Freeing her of nightmares.

A sudden thought hit her then, eyes widening. “I bet Edward knew; the one in this world,” Kaylee says quietly with an amused huff. Eyes cast upward again at a brilliant flash of light, revealing the threat of tears. “You sneaky S.O.B… He told me this was the only way all his children lived. I always thought it meant just us here. That…” She can’t help but laugh, even if it sounds sad. “That is so…. like him. All his kids in one world. Or all of his tools in one place.” That’s all she has ever felt like. A tool created by her father to help Richard.

“Don’t worry,” Kaylee finally offers after a moment, offering Michelle a weak smile.“Your secret is safe and I know better than to go searching for her….” The woman shrugs her shoulders, even though her smile wavers. “I tried with Edward, but… he always avoided me. I guess it didn’t fit into the grand scheme of things.” She might be a little bitter. “If she’s like him, then she’ll find me if her calculations allow her.” The words hurt a little as they are spoken, laced with memories and that sense of abandonment.

“Don Kenner, though,” Kaylee sounds curious. “I can’t imagine him using her? Here, he’s the whole reason we were able to get you here. He was the head of SESA and gave us the resources we needed. Lost his job over New Mexico, because he helped us.” Because of course… Different worlds… different versions of themselves.

“It's strange,” Chel says in a soft voice, looking out to the ocean with a mixture of wistfulness and uncertainty, “Don worked for the government in my world too. We worked together, he was a good man. Then, he lost his family and…” Chel closes her eyes and shakes her head.

“I understand why Edward would do something so… unfathomable,” is the way Chel describes it. “He was an ordinary man in my world, no ability, no special gift outside of being determined and bright. But the way Richard talks about him, it sounds like he… he had something here, somehow. Something like Lisa has. I just can't figure out how the roads diverged.” Exhaling a sigh, Chel looks up to Kaylee.

“You've lived a hard life,” Chel opines. “I'm sorry Edward treated you the way he did. I… I think I knew a very different man than you did. I wish you'd gotten the chance to know him.”

The loss of family… that Kaylee can understand. What would she do if she lost Carl? The chill that settles into her stomach, gives her an answer. It would destroy her. That perspective gives her understanding on the issue of her father.

“Now that I have my son, Carl, I understand why he did it, but… “ It’s Kaylee’s turn to shake her head. “I don’t know. I can’t look at it from an unbiased perspective. He left and lied. He let his ability rule him, but… I get it. Having an idea of what the future could be.” She sighs, “I wish I could have met yours. See what he could have been like. Especially, for Carl. He’s…he’s so smart and it scares me the older he gets.”

Kaylee huffs a chuckle, sad and pitiful. Turning towards the lapping waves, she stepping forward enough to let the salty seawater lap over her toes. “But, anyhow, you’re right, life has been rough, but…” she sighs before admitting, “but, it led me to your son, my brother in all but blood. Him and the rest of my family.” Kaylee shrugs. “So It hasn’t all been crap, but I wish he hadn’t done all of this to protect us. Tearing down the world to let us live. All those lives for our four simple lives… well, really five now.” She adds acknowledging this new sibling. “This is the burden he left us to bear.”

Looking up at the sky again, she watches the soft flicking of the stars. “Did Richard tell you I’m no longer going to be an executive of the company? I still own part of it, but… being there I feel like all I do is hindering him and being in his shadow is tiresome. He has you and Liz. He has his actual family.” He head tilts slightly to look at Michele out of the corner of her eye. “So I know he’ll be fine without me.”

Mmnh,” is Michelle’s quiet disagreement. “He’s a lot like me,” she admits in a small voice. “Stubborn to the point of his own demise. I was…” she shakes her head, looking up from the waves and over to Kaylee. “I was very tempted to stay behind and blow the reactor at the Ark in my world. But someone got there ahead of me. I… it’s in our DNA or something,” she says, knowing better. “This defiant, self-destructive stretch.”

Michelle exhales a sigh and threads a lock of blonde hair behind one ear. “Richard,” she says with a flick of blue eyes up to Kaylee, turning to face her, “will never admit to you how much he needs you. But he’ll be there to resent your absence, whether it makes sense or not. Because that’s exactly how I deal with things.” She halfway lids her eyes, looking in the direction of the ongoing celebration up the beach.

For a moment there’s just silence and the roar of the surf. Them, Chel smiles at seemingly nothing and looks back to Kaylee. “Maybe one day,” she says without context, until suddenly that phrase is brought into clearer focus. “So long as I’m alive, so is the Looking Glass.” Said so casually, as if its creation and its use were something she could brew up like a pot of coffee. “Maybe one day, some day, you will get to meet him.”

The casualness of the words isn’t missed, brows furrowing as she looks out at the water. The temptation to look within is there, but as always… the telepath holds back. One of the very things her brother balks at. “Maybe,” Kaylee says finally, with a touch of uncertainty. Though to what part isn’t clear, even if she’s studying the other woman as she studies the party.

Looking down, watching the moonlit sand sift through bare toes, Kaylee sighs softly, “I’m not truly abandoning Richard, I hope you don’t think that. He’s my family. I’m always going to be there… I just… I need to figure out who I am and not who Edward was trying to make me. He is the one that pushed us to this company” Maybe it’s said more for herself than Michele.

“I guess stubborn runs in the family,” Kaylee can’t help but joke, offering the woman a crooked smile.

Michelle exhales a sigh through her nose, wrapping her arms around her waist as she looks back out to the ocean.

“It certainly does.”

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