The Blue Box


cardinal_icon.gif kaylee2_icon.gif valerie_icon.gif

Scene Title The Blue Box
Synopsis No cheeky Doctors or sonic screwdrivers here. Just a small blue box and a revelation of who might be the son of Edward Ray.
Date December 10, 2010

New York Public Library

"This… is where he's living?" The bland tone of Kaylee's voice echos through the library. Of course, it's about on par with the Hotel California, but still…

She hasn't been exactly happy to be back in the big city. It's the first time Kaylee has truly been back since her return to the present time line. Once she was use to the chaos. Now it was overly busy, fully of too many humming minds and completely overwhelming.

Brown hiking boots crunch through rubble, but she tries her damnedest to step around the scattered leaves of a book, even if it's rather water damaged. Stopping in the middle of the large room, Kaylee gives a little shiver since the darker interior is always colder. "Hello!" She calls out, takes a dozen more steps, tugging the zipper up higher on her jacket and pulling the knit cap further down her ear, where only a few strands of blonde stick out.

"Cardinal?" Is queried a little more softly before, her ability flares out in search for the mental presence.

If an eye is sharp, it might notice the CCTV cameras set up in unobtrustive locations around the lobby and elsewhere, occasionally panning slightly from side to side. Or perhaps the lack of dust on the floor in certain areas, or the footprints laden here and there around the library's ruins. This place isn't as abandoned as it looks.

As she calls out and heads further inside, the touch of an approaching mind is soon felt; tired above all, frustration and anger sparking under that. "I'm here, I'm here," Cardinal's voice comes a few moments later as he emerges from a hallway; a fleece-lined jacket and BDUs keeping him warm out here, gloves and shades as ever present as little tweaks to his outfit. He strides along towards the lobby with a wry half-smile, "Sorry, didn't think you'd be here this quick."

Unseen by the cameras, and casting no shadow, there's a small mouse sitting in the corner of the library, sticking close to the edge of the wall. Mice probably aren't unknown in this area, and the cold has likely brought a few closer to the warmer places in this part of town…

But this mouse isn't here to chew on the books.

"Well…" Kaylee draws out, with a bit of a lopsided smirk. "I'm staying not too far, it isn't much of a trip." Straightening a little, the telepath gives him a bit more of a smile. A hand reaches up to tug the dark blue knit cap off her head, revealing her long golden curls are gathered up at the back of her head.

A bit of a glance around, Kaylee looks amused. "Not exactly the kinda place I pictured for you, Shadow man." The old nickname finds itself to her lips easily enough, even after so many years.

"Long time, no see. You look like you are having a bad month… or months." She adds, focusing on him completely unaware of the tiny mouse. Hands spread out to the side of her. "Well, I'm here. What can I do for you?" She's been overly curious what he needs her for, her guess is her ability. Tends to be what people need her for.

"Don't let the lobby fool you, it's actually pretty nice downstairs," Cardinal admits, bringing a hand up to scratch under his chin as he looks around the large room — marble walls stained from the weather, windows shattered, scraps of books and debris scattering the floors. He turns around to head down the hallway, his head shaking slowly as he skips the comment about it being a bad month, "Your father left something for me. Told me you should be here for me opening my little present."

That catches Kaylee's interest and has her hurrying to follow. Her steps are a bit faster so that she can catch up and lean to see his face. "Ray left you something?" Even now, Kayle can't help but use the name her mom spits out with venom. "Really?"

Her face is openly curious as she looks forward, "Huh."

The cap is stuffed into one jacket pocket so that she doesn't end up leaving it there. "I mean. Not that I'm surprised. He did leave me a message in the memories of a woman." How does it get much weirder then that? He also set her up to save her little sister, but… that's left unsaid. "I — don't think I'll ever understand him," Kaylee murmurs thoughtfully. "Don't know how you or Valerie do it."

"I might've… sort've… arranged for it while I was in the past," Cardinal confesses as he walks, one hand coming up to rub against his chin and mouth, fingers rasping against stubble that's grown from a lack of razor use. A sidelong look, "Don't tell Hiro. He'd give me that look."

It's not long before they come to a large metal door that's utterly out of place in the library. It's open, at least until he waves her through and reaches up to start pulling it shut. "It's probably just bad news anyway. Guess we'll find out in a minute, though."

As the door is pulled shut, there's a small sign of something moving through the corner of it, that takes up position next to the wall again. Out of the way, invisible to most electronics, but if they looked close enough, they'd see a small little gray mouse with a twitching nose and curious black eyes. No scratching sounds are made as it moves, none of the usual mouse sounds.

Brows tick up, but then Kayle looks a little self conscious. "I don't think I'll be seeing Hiro for awhile," she admits softly. "I haven't seen him since he dropped me here during the eighth riots." Not that she believes she'd go with him, or that Joseph would want her too even if she wanted too.

"And I am certainly not one to point fingers." Kaylee offers him a small smile and a shrug. "You are not the only one that messed with time.

"What I can't figure is why he wanted me there." The telepath's head shakes slowly. "Probably something to manipulate us both for whatever agenda he has." There is a soft sigh from the woman. "Not sure what I think of that bit." And she's had several years to ponder the mysterious father figure.

The mouse isn't noticed, dismissed as the library's idle vermin as the door's closed and a heavy metal bar slid to keep it shut. It's slightly warmer here, where the windows have been sealed with plastic that billows lightly in the breeze and the wind is mostly kept out. Not warm but not quite as bone-chilling.

"Maybe there's a photo album inside," Cardinal suggests with a shrug as he leads the way through the hallways, around through the cavernous vault of one of the reading rooms and down a flight of stairs - a few layers of curtains keeping most of the heat from the space heaters below in. There's lights down here, electric ones hanging from jury-rigged wires, tables and chairs and all the comforts of home. He leads the way into a side room, long tables holding a number of boxes and crates of various supplies. One of them, he pulls the top off of, reaching in to lift up the blue wooden humidor from within, offering it over to Kaylee.

"Here," he offers, "Set this down, lemme get my lockpicks out. Bastard didn't leave a key."

The moment Kaylee sees the blue box, unbidden fuzzily remembered words flit through her mind.

"Your brother is alive and well, and he's going to ask you for help with something very soon — you'll need to do whatever he asks. You'll know him when you see him, he'll be carrying a blue box."

She doesn't take it, instead hands lift slowly to cover her mouth, crossing over to do so, and her eyes widen a little. There are no words for the blonde woman, in fact she looks a little in shock. What he doesn't witness is how her mind is working over everything she's ever been told.

"You." There is wonder in her voice, hands falling away and reaching out to take it in both hands. Then those blue eyes lift to stare at Cardinal, as she pulls the box close to her, arms wrapping around it. It's all clear to her, even if some parts don't fit.

"I know why he wanted me here." The words tumble out in a rush.

"Huh?" Cardinal's brows lift up towards the edge of his hairline, bemused at her reaction. He pauses for a moment in the course of digging out the roll of fabric and tools that he keeps tucked inside his jacket, "Why, do you have the key or something?"

He, for the moment, is utterly oblivious to the revelation that just hit the woman. Even if he knew that prediction he may have missed it — weary and frustrated as he is today.

"I — I thought Warren was suppose to have this." Kaylee is now holding the box up to look at it, as if the mystery would reveal itself just looking at it. Her gaze moves past it to Cardinal. "This… box was to be brought to me by my — " She offers it back to him to unlock, pausing as if a little reluctant to reveal it, "Well — by my brother."

Now she seems a little confused as she holds it out to him, but a smile is tugging at the corners of her mouth. "I think, Richard… you are Edward Ray's son."

That statement earns 'Kay Ray' a rather blank stare for a few moments — followed by a snort of laughter as Richard takes the box back, setting it down on the table. He crouches down slightly, head shaking as he unrolls the roll and pulls out some slender metal tools to begin working at the lot. "Got the wrong guy," he murmurs, "I know who my parents were. Died the day I was born, Kaylee. Besides, you've already got a brother. Man only had three kids."

"Who said that the Warren guy was our brother?" A voice suddenly says from the corner. The little mouse that had been hiding there is no longer there at all, but a pretty blonde teenager who doesn't look as if she's limping around anymore. Valerie had wanted to leave the island with her sister for a few important reasons, but this would be the main one— She couldn't have done this from all the way there.

Of course almost as soon as she appears she raises her hands, "Sorry, I followed you, I— " She wasn't going to reveal herself at all originally, but brother… She hasn't even met Warren yet, doesn't know what he's like. "…hi." That comes off as an embarassed squeak. She really hadn't meant to, but as soon as she started to talk, she returned to a human projection.

There is a gasp from Kaylee at the new voice, making her whip around to face to face her sister, hand pressing to her chest to keep her heart from jumping out of her chest. "Valerie," she hisses out, irritated that she never noticed the girl following her. "Scared me." But then she gives her a softer smile. "You have insane timing and should be resting."

But… she's not done with Cardinal yet, stepping around the edge of the table, Kaylee leans over to try and catch his eye. "I was told my father was a lecherous…" She stops herself from using certain language. Thank you 1800's. Instead she corrects herself, "I was told that my mom had an affair with a married man. A lawyer from New York." Her brows lift a bit as she continues, "That he died in Midtown."

Straightening she slowly shakes her head. "And what did I find? A birth certificate and proof my mom and Ray were married and we lived in Boston." She points out, with a lifts of her brows. "That he was alive." Even if he's in a coma now. "Everything I knew about my life and father were a lie, Richard. How do you know that Ray didn't create an equally elaborate deception for you.

"And why can't I hear you?" This said to Valerie as it suddenly hits the telepath that there is a lack of that third humming mind.

As there's a sudden voice from the corner, Richard - who was half-crouching, half-bent over to work on the lock - falls completely back onto his ass with a thump, lifting his head to get up quickly and hitting it against the edge of the table that was behind him. "Nnhf." His shades askew, he tosses them to one side, rubbing his head with a grimace. "Jesus. Christ. Valerie, don't fucking do that. Do you— oww— realize how many people are trying to kill me?"

As he pushes himself up, grimacing, he reaches over for his lockpicks where they landed on the floor, going back to work and muttering the answer to Kaylee's last and least important question, "S'cause she's not really there. Spooky, innit?"

Click. The lock's tumblers, old and worn, finally give way with a crack and twist with a firm push within.

"Sorry…" Valerie says, looking down and shifting a bit. "If it helps I am actually resting… Back at the new home where you told me to rest…" But she's still suddenly apologetic. There's a lot about her ability she's kept secret, despite assurances she'd tell them one day. It just never ended up happening, and now she's been caught.

The buzz of a third person may not be there, but there's something else that she can feel once looking for it, a telepathic signature that seems to be there, but seems incomplete. Like— as Cardinal said, it's not really there. And actually in her. Piggy backed on her own mind, so soft it's not evasive. Not inside the mind, but quietly latched onto it.

"She's not..?" Kaylee starts to say something giving Valerie an odd look, but the sound of the lock giving stops that. She's curious about the contents of the box, so that overrides the sudden revelation of her sisters ability. "We have to talk about that," A finger shakes Valerie's direction as she turns towards the box.

Maybe it's excitement of the moment that has her moving, but Kaylee sidles next to Cardinal and reaches over his shoulder, where he's crouched, to lift the lid.

She tilts the box, to look at the contents, which rattle a bit. Whatever she sees, as her expression falling into utter confusion. "I—" She starts and then stumbles to a stop, fingers reaching into the box to pull out a wad of gray string. Holding one end, she lets the string unravel and the end of it polls on the ground. A glance goes to Cardinal as if he would understand, before laying that on the table and then reaching in to pull out a bullet.

That gets a lift of her brow. "I — am not sure what he is saying here." Kaylee's tone is bland, tilting the box to look in it again. "That's all." Then something catches her eye deep in the box. She picks it up and angles it for a better look with brows furrowed. After a moment, she is handing it to him with a shake of her head. "Maybe it makes sense to you."

Inside the box, at the bottom words are carved. Words from Edward Ray, for Richard Cardinal.

"One is for starting over, one is for calling it quits."

Richard Cardinal regards that grey string in silence as it tumbles down from her hand to hang to the floor, and then his gaze slides to regard the single bullet balanced between Kaylee's thumb and forefinger as she holds it up curiously. Wordless, he steps closer, hands bracing on the sides of the humidor and gaze dropping down to read the words carved into the wood of the old cigar box.

That silence reigns for several long moments. Several long heartbeats.

The only warning is in the tightness of the tendons along the sides of his neck, the subtle beat of the pulse at his temples, the whitening of the knuckles at the edge of the wooden box. Then it's hurled violently to one side, crashing into a box of MRE's and sending both of them crashing off the edge of the next table over and to the ground.

"THAT'S IT? After everything… every GOD DAMN thing I've done, I've given up, that's ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY TO ME you— you MANIPULATIVE BASTARD?" He lets out an incoherent yell that echoes off the walls of the storage room as he steps to one side, reaching out to sweep his arms across the table's surface, shoving everything off it onto the floor with a raucous clamour.

Both hands slap down to the table, then slide forward slowly as he slumps against it, resting on his elbows and bringing his palms up to brace against his forehead. "God damn you, Edward," he whispers to a man that can only hear him from years in the past, predicting every last word.

Give or take a point-nine standard deviation.

The conversation is bound to happen, but Valerie just nods a bit as she floats, literally floats, closer to look at the contents better. Her foot goes right though something, but doesn't shimmer or dissolve, or anything of the sort, as she sees what it is, and the moments later. She may not really be there, but she still flinches visibly and floats back out of the way, kinda like someone who might be trying to dodge the throwing.

"It'll be okay…" she says in soft tones, a hand reaching out, before pulling back again. The downside with her ability, she can't offer any form of physical comfort, even when she might wish to.

"What dad does— it isn't always easy to understand, but he always has a plan, even if it… even if it's frustrating and hurtful, you always have options. Starting over isn't a bad option! I'm starting over too…"

It's a reaction she wasn't expecting and it takes Kaylee by surprise, causing her to stumble back, hands lifted in her defense even if he wouldn't hit her. There is a soft tink of sound as the bullet drops to the floor, forgotten in the scramble to get back. Coming to a stop before running into her sisters projection.

There is a grimace, head ducking down when he sends the contents of the desk flying.

As he slumps there, Kaylee doesn't move form where she is, frozen for a moment with her heart fluttering from the scare he gave her. "Manipulative is right," the words bitter, but a touch breathless.

"Look…" Kaylee starts slowly after a moment more of trying to get her heart to calm, a hand pressed there. "I don't know Ray like the two of you. I have a repressed memory and a message from the head another woman. But one thing is clear to me…" Slowly, almost hesitantly Kaylee starts to step towards Richard. "The message is more then just what is carved in the bottom of the box."

A glance goes to Valerie. "Look what he did." Kay's head turns, gaze shifting to the man kneeling there a hand reaching out to touch finger tips to his shoulder. "He brought his children together. Right now… at this moment."

The blonde woman pulls her hand away uncertainly, instead curling her arms around herself. "In that memory, where he told me about the box. He said… you'll need my help." Whatever that means.

"Desmond Harper."

A quietly spoken name from Cardinal, murmured down towards the table, "The only evidence at all that we had that Warren was his son… was shit that Harper said. Broome's number one guy. And somebody who was looking for any handle he could get on someone who was a complete fucking lunatic." A beat. "No evidence at all."

A breath is slowly drawn in, and then exhaled just as slowly. After another moment, he speaks again, voice tightly controlled. "I failed, Kaylee. The hospital was… a pyrrhic victory at best. I couldn't stop the riots. Couldn't stop so… many fucking things. I couldn't even keep the underworld stable, and I had temporal inertia on my side there. I couldn't even protect my own people. And all he has to tell me is 'start over'?"

"Some things are too big for one person," Valerie says, though it's likely she doesn't know a lot about the things he's mentioning. Desmond Harper, all that's going on. But sometimes a person doesn't need to understand everything. "Dad used to talk about time and predictions a lot, about how there's always different paths. There's never just one. Never just one choice or even two or three. Even with all his predictions, there were variables that would change the outcome. Sometimes it would change a lot, sometimes it would barely change at all, but each change changed everything after it, like rapids on a river. The first turn may not seem too bad, the second a little worse, but the further it goes the more the change is noticed…"

There's a moment where she actually seems to blush, as if she's not sure if she's even saying it right. Dad could be pretty complicated. "Maybe you have to make a change to yourself before you can change other things…? But you won't have to do it alone. Dad wanted Kaylee to help you— and I can be an added bonus?" The last is said with a sheepish smile.


That's all Kaylee says for the moment, moving where she can see his face better from where he's hunched over. Then she moves to crouch, watching him from the expanse of the table. "So he's telling you to get back on the horse and giving you a reason to do so. Mainly… family. And I'll believe Ray before I'll believe some Institute guy." It sounds so logical in her mind a nod going to Valerie and her explanation.

"I know it would be a lot easier if we had him here to give us answers, but… I guess all he can do is give a nudge." Folding arms on the table to keep her balance, Kaylee regards him with a thoughtful look. "I doubt the great and powerful Edward succeeded in all things."

A small smile touches her lips with a soft huff of a laugh, "If I find out we were conceived as part of some greater plan… or that I'm dating who I am, because my father manipulated me into it. I will personally slap him." Yet, she sounds a little amused at the idea, too.

"I will march right up to the Commonwealth Institute and slap his comatose face." She means it too, but she tries to keep her tone light enough to make it seem more like a joke.

"I know that," Cardinal says in irritable tones, slanting a glance back over his shoulder to Valerie, "It's not like I've been trying to do everything on my own you know. I have a whole fucking company and a team of people who all seem to think they know what to do better than I do, so maybe I haven't exactly done a great job being a leader — thanks for reminding me, by the way, it's great being reminded that I suck at this, but hey, everyone else has felt the need to tell me so…"

He closes his eyes, then, his head shaking. "Family. All we've got as evidence there is — what — some bullshit Edward mumbled about a blue box? Things change, like she said. Doesn't necessarily mean anything."

"I'm sorry…" Valerie says in a soft voice, though this time it actually seems more genuine than before. Like before she wasn't really sorry, but now she is. The blonde form of her even slinks back a little, "I didn't mean to make it sound like you weren't doing a good job— but maybe there's a reason you have to start over— something that makes the path you're on no longer helpful…" she trails off, and looks around a bit, and then slides away toward the wall, almost as if she's considering leaving.

"It does mean something, though… I wouldn't be here if Kaylee hadn't come back to get me… and dad had originally intended me to meet her then. Four years ago, as she was four years ago— I don't think it would have been good for either of us if we had met then… I don't know. I wish I had all the answers. But even dad didn't. He had had predictions, but predictions aren't answers. They're probablies."

"I got two words for you, Cardinal." Pushing to her feet, Kaylee sighs resting hands on her hips. " Paternity test… or… whatever siblings do." She waves that away with a flick of her hand.

"But you honestly think Ray would trust a total stranger to get things done?" Kaylee's tones are a touch bland, irritation coloring it, the thrill of what her father said coming true a second time wearing off in the face of his attitude. "Seems to me he handed the business over to his son."

A worried look is sent Valerie's way, but she does nod slowly. "We didn't tell you about how Valerie got here, cause it didn't seem important. Who knows how long he moved those pieces into place." Kaylee braves it the fuming shadow morph and rests a hand on his shoulder gently. "It also resulted in me being lost in time for five years. I'm twenty eight in reality, like Valerie is still seventeen. No plan is perfect. You may not have stopped the riots, but you changed enough where… I didn't die." She points out. "But you won't ever really know what would have happened if you didnt' do what you did."

Kaylee's head dips down to stare at the floor. "Think about it. But… I'd like to request you don't take Ray's option B? At least til we've had time to figure this all out." Looking up again, Kaylee gives Cardinal a sad smile, whether he sees it or not. "For now, we'll leave you alone, but you know we are around if you need us."

"Yeah. I suppose there is that, isn't there…? S'pose that it wouldn't be too hard to arrange for a DNA test," Cardinal murmurs, rubbing his mouth with his hand as he straightens slowly from his slouch. A breath's taken in and then exhaled as he steadies himself, turning then to lean his hips against the table. Both hands drop down to rest on the table's edge to either side of him, and he looks back and forth between the pair. His sisters. Possibly. It's been a long week - a long month, a long year, and he's got a lot to digest right now.

"Well. If all this is true," he says with a faint, wry almost-smile, "There's something else you both deserve to know."

So the middle sibling, if they are siblings, is the older sibling, and the younger sibling is even younger than she was supposed to be. Time travel certainly messed up their would be family— if it is a family at all. Valerie nods vigorously. "I think it'd be nice to know, though I wonder what was going on with that Warren guy…" She looks as if she can't help but feel bad for someone she never met, and in fact many people kept warning her against.

"Are we aunts already?" she immediately asks. That seems to be where the teenager's brain has gone! And if he is their brother and he's anything like his dad…

They all have a lot to digest.

The teen's question manages to get a stifled laugh out of the older woman, a hand preventing it from embarrassing her. "I can talk to Cat about a test. Of anyone, being a lawyer, she'd probably know something." Kaylee trails off and hmms softly. "Unless you want to keep this under the table, so to speak or know someone else."

With a bit of a smile, for the moment feeling a touch more lighthearted, Kaylee waves Cardinal on. "Sorry… so what's this thing you think we should know?" Giving the man who may very well be her brother, her attention.

That actually gets a vague snort of humor from Cardinal. "Christ," he mutters, rubbing at his nose, "Not that I know of. Maybe at some point, but… anyway. Anyway."

He drops silent again, trying to figure out how to say what he has to say. Finally, he just says it. "I'm the head of the Institute." There's a pause, and he corrects, "Not… me me. Another me. A me that got so tired of throwing himself against the wall that he just fucking snapped, or something. He went back in time, founded Commonwealth… he's the bastard that's been doing all of this to us."

"It was me all along." His gaze drops, then, lips pursing in a tight line as he waits for their reactions.

"Oh…" Valerie starts with a soft sound to her voice as she looks between her sister and the man who she's already come to think must be her brother. Her father's usually got plans, and if he wanted them to think he's their brother, there's a good reason. "Maybe that's why you need to start over— cause the path you're on may still be too close to the path he was on." She makes gestures, as if not sure how best to express the thought.

"If it stops you from becoming that, then I definitely think starting over would be a good thing…"

The older and yet middle of the three just stares at Cardinal for a very long and silent moment. There is a blink and eyes close, hands raising up. "Whoa… wait."

When her lips open again, brows are drawn down in a confused look. "You… but not you… future you is behind Joseph and Gillian… all that?" Kaylee's tones says she's not sure what to think of that. She falls silent again, because it's a whole hell of a lot to take in.

Then out of the blue.

Kaylee says softly at a realization. "So that's why I'm considered protected."

Then another thought occur to her. "Oh shit." It's a slip up, but it's with reason. "I — think it's a good idea that it keeps as a secret." Though even as she says it, there is a wrenching guilt at th fact she might have to keep that fact away from people who trust her. "For the moment."

"What, you thought it was just you?" A slight raise of Cardinal's brows as he looks at Kaylee, his expression ever so faintly wry, "There're a whole series of people that he's protected… but don't get me wrong. It's not out've love or anything. He's trying to keep the future intact. His future."

His tone turns bitter as he notes, "This'll let him basically control everything, since he knows how it goes. So he's doing everything he can to make sure events turn out as he saw them happen. The same events that drove him fucking crazy in the first place."

He slants a look to Valerie, and he nods slightly. "There's… there's a solution. I've been thinking about it. But it's a gamble. Might be the only choice I've got, though, other than the bullet. Starting over."

"I don't think the bullet is an option at all," Valerie says, looking toward the box, for a moment anger twisting her small face. It only lasts a moment, but even if she would jump to her dad's defense about many things, a bullet, especially one with an implied use as that one, makes her angry at him for even saying it.

"He might have just given that to you as an option to piss you off…" It certainlyd id it's job in upsetting her! If that's what it was.

Cardinal is given a flat look, "You really think I thought I was the only one?" Kaylee shakes her head, one corner of her mouth tugging up in a rueful smile. "No… I just couldn't understand why I was protected."

A stalling finger goes up as she adds, "I'm also saying, 'No bullet.' Valerie is more then likely right. He was probably going for a reaction."

Stopping the length of string, she moves to retrieve it and drapes it across her hands in thought, her eyes run along the thin length as she approaches Cardinal "So… it sounds like you need to find out what this future is and be the biggest thorn in his side about it." The string is held out to him.

"If you have a solution, run with it." Kaylee states firmly. "Or at least, see if it's the right course of action… still… My vote is for picking yourself off the ground and starting over."

"Hey, hey…" Cardinal's hands both lift in surrender, and he resists an urge to laugh, "…never was an option, really."

He just got sisters and they're already bullying him!

One gloved hand reaches out to accept that tangle of string, regarding it for a moment. "The problem is," he says quietly, "I've been trying to do this like Edward would… and that's not going to work. I don't have that kind of foresight. And without him— all we're doing is nudging the timestream a little to the left, a little to the right. We're dodging rocks, but we're still heading in the same inevitable direction. There's only so much we can predict and guide; we can't overcome temporal inertia enough to fix things like that. We just can't."

"So." And he smiles, a tight, thin smile as he pulls the string between his hands, drawing it taught, "You're absolute right. We need to start over."

"There's a new year coming up. Resolutions all around— Dad actually used to talk about resolutions a lot, how decisions nad sticking to them, had the biggest effect on personal lives," Valerie says, floating a little closer, even as something about her form seems to becoming unstable. For a moment she seems to become partially transparent. It doesn't last long, but it is noticable.

"So we make up our mind to change, and we build our own paths— trust me, dad always had his own path, but it's not the only one. It's never the only one. We can take that as permission to start down our own river!" Instead of following his.

"Baby steps." Kaylee quips with a matter of fact look, taking a step back from Cardinal. "Dodging rocks lessens the impact, but I would think you dodge enough rocks that eventually you shift the course of the whole river."

The telepath turns a gentle smile to the youngest of them, though it falters a bit at the noticeable transparency. "She does have a point," she says looking to Cardinal. "We may not be able to stop what is coming, but maybe with your knowledge and brains." There is a slight tease in her smile. " Though it would be nice if we could tap into Ray's head… but… Maybe we can… make the end result tolerable and avoid making it this other you's future. Though, one without the Commonwealth would be nice, but everytime one goes away another pops up."

Kaylee glances away, with a smirk. "For now… I'm going back to where we're staying and make someone really rest, before she pushes herself way too far." Her head shifts enough to give Valerie a warning look.

"I think Val understands where I'm coming from here…" Cardinal's chin dips in a nod, and he twists the string back into his hand, looking up with a wan and tired smile for the pair, "…yeah, I think we've all got a lot to… think about right now anyway. Thanks for coming by, both've you."

"I'm gonna have to meet you in person again sometime, so I can hug you," Valerie says, fading a bit again, in different areas. It's an odd sight, like something out of a movie, not real life. Her hands go up, "I know, I know— I'm going home and I'll rest and you want me to tell you everything… It just never came up before!" But how often did she follow her sister around without her knowing?

Probably no more. That soft telepathic connection may not have been evasive enough to notice, but no doubt Kaylee would recognize it now.

"I'll race you home." She adds at the end with a bright smile, before she just vanishes. And that little knot disappears with her. That's one race she knows she'll win.

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