The Dam Breaks


elisabeth_icon.gif jaiden_icon.gif

Scene Title The Dam Breaks
Synopsis The one thing that can terrorize Elisabeth isn't the darkness… not really.
Date Apr 25, 2011

Skinny Brickfront, Endgame Safehouse

Living on the run has many problems. Not the least of which is how to make an apparently abandoned building suddenly have electricity and running water. Those are the plans that are foremost in Elisabeth's mind at this point, and she's shared much of that thought process with Jaiden — we need several generators and we need to set up two full-sized apartments on the upper floors as protected havens. Places people can really live.

Of course, she's been thinking out loud like that from her perch atop Jaiden's sleeping bag. One perk of being an audiokinetic is that their privacy is assured… so long as her ability isn't on the fritz. Which for the moment, it's not. "So you think three will be plenty?" she asks. "I don't want to draw too much attention. If we look like squatters, most people will just ignore us. But if we start bringing in too much in the way of equipment, we'll get noticed."

Jaiden's sleeping bag has become sort of a haven for both, one finding solace in the arms of another in relative comfort thanks to the cushions and such that have been formed into a makeshift matress beneath the bag. Currently acting as one of the cushions for Elisabeth, Jaiden lays there with his hands behind his head, staring up at the peeling paint on the ceiling, nodding. "Three, for our needs, should be plenty. With the lack of infrastructure around here, the generators will basically be lost in the shuffle. Squatters haul them in all the time to run everything from TV's to electric blankets. The thing I really want to try and get worked out, though, is some kind of cistern system where we have a constant supply of clean water without me having to provide it, if that makes sense. Some kind of storage system for rain and snow - maybe even some kind of water heater so we can have hot showers without having to worry about boiling water and killing our propane tanks again."

Elisabeth shifts her weight, turning so she can prop up on one elbow. His bed's become sort of like a couch lately — it's seen more companionship than it has anything more athletic. "I would kill for hot showers on a regular basis," she admits. "But I know nothing about cistern systems."

Luckily, Jaiden knows a few things about storing water for hard times - living in the Outback will do that for a person. "We just need a few 55 gallon drums and a system to catch rainwater to fill them. Throw a spigot on the outside, paint a couple of them black for hot water from the sun, and bingo. We might, of course, want to run it through a filter or have me clean it before drinking, but for bathing, she'll be all right." He shifts slightly as well, leaning against the wall to give Elisabeth the full attention that she deserves. "As far as getting a few apartments set up upstairs…that shouldn't be too terribly hard. Sneaking in the bits, though, will be the tough part, as well as doing any repairs to make them able to hold the heat in. Hell, we might even splurge and get a window-mounted air conditioner for when it gets warm."

"Sounds workable," Elisabeth nods. She studies his face and asks softly, "Are you holding up okay? I, uhm…. ran into Ryans yesterday." She is never sure how to deal with this. "It's always kind of a wierd situation, learning of a kid that you should have had and … " Maybe won't.

His only response to that is a noncommital shrug, his gaze flicking to the window and then back to her face after a bit of introspective thought. "I'm trying to step back from it - from the emotion of the dream, if that makes sense. Trying to look at something logically that, for all intents and purposes, is potentially illogical and potentially something that'll never happen. But it might. IT makes you think in circles, which doesn't do much for my sanity, but by stepping back…." Another slight shrug. "If it happens, if Delia and I get together and make Beth, which I don't think will happen from the way she's been acting, it happens. If not, it doesn't. It's a hard thing to say, but…it's what has to be."

Elisabeth nods slightly. "That's… how I felt about Cameron. The original child, I mean — I … never met him. Never had the attachment to him that Norton did. He was a what-if. And it hurt my heart that he wouldn't exist. But the other part of me… believes that a soul chooses the parents it will be born to. For whatever reasons. And I hoped that perhaps another time and place, that same soul would choose to be part of my life somehow." She pauses and admits, "That sounds a little bizarre, right?"

Jaiden shakes his head, reaching over to pat Elisabeth's knee lightly, giving it a squeeze after a moment. "I think that's the perfect thought to bring this into perspective. If it's meant to be. If the universe truly, truly means for that child to come into the world, it will come into the world, one way or another. I don't have the connection with Beth or with JJ, but…hell, I've met JJ and I still can't wrap my head around it entirely. It's just so big that they're here. That there's proof, standing there in front of us. "

A chuckle bubbles out of her, and Elisabeth studies his face. "JJ's….. got a lot of you both. Finding out who he is just blows my mind, honestly. Christ, he's had my back for months." She pauses and admits, "I want to ask him if he came to FRONTLINE because of you… but on the other hand, I don't know that I want to know what happened us in that future. I already know what happened with Richard there, and it breaks my heart."

"that's the whole reason I've really been putting off getting all the kids together to ask questions about what goes on in the Future. You know Cardinal would be salivating at a chance to get concrete evidence about who, what, and where, in order to look ahead and see if any of the events that led to that future could have been circumvented or turned to our advantage" Jaiden smiles and squeezes Elisabeth's knee again, stretching a little in his sleeping bag, toes emerging for just a moment before sinking back into the flannel lining. "I'm afraid to ask them what goes on. I'm afraid that my enthusiasm and cheerful disposition may be negatively affected by knowledge of what is to come. I mean….hell, Beth passing away from the Evo flu? Me getting captured while trying to buy black market vaccines? And then JJ…." He lets out a breath, sitting up slightly, resting on his elbows. "They came back for a reason, and we owe it to them to at least find out why. 'To help us.' is all well and good, but to help us what….that's what keeps me up at night."

Elisabeth is quiet, and she nods slightly. "Lene asked me to trust them. Her comment was 'if we're doing anything that needs your help, we'll let you know.'" Her smile is rueful. "I guess it's what I've told people here and there too. But damn, I hate being on the receiving end of that." She scoots closer and murmurs, "Would you rather I keep you awake at night? I can help with that."

Jaiden's brows go up slightly, his smile appearing, dimples too, as he grins. "Given the choice of worry about the future keeping me awake and you doing the same, I'd take you every night for the rest of my days."

It's the dimples that make her chuckle. Elisabeth reaches up and touches his cheek lightly. Her blue eyes flicker upward to meet his gaze, and she whispers, "Better be careful." She strokes her hand down his neck and smiles faintly. "Falling for me is definitely not good for a guy." One died, one left, one died and got taken away. Her track record sucks so far.

"You can only go up from there, yeah?" Jaiden grins, leaning into her touch, his eyes closing after a moment. "And I wouldn't say I'm falling for you. Leaning over the precipice, sure, but…." he lets that trail of.

Elisabeth cradles his cheek and rests her lips gently on his other cheek in a caress. She doesn't have words for her thoughts right now, in turmoil as they are. The confusion that comes with that admission strings her body taut against him as she tries to process…. should she leave or stay? Is there ever a right answer?

Whether or not there's a right answer really doesn't matter at this point. Jaiden simply holds her close, letting her feel the gentle intake of breath, the soft rolling of his heart, keeping time with whatever chronometer it's attuned with, simply enjoying the closeness. It's the intimacy that he craves - not the physical. Just having someone in his arms, waking with a weight next to him of another person, feeling an arm thrown over his shoulders…it's soothing. "We're friends, Lizzie. If we become any more than that, we'll just take it as it comes."

She worries. Always. But Elisabeth just lays her head back down on his shoulder, and murmurs in amusement, "You know what's funny?" She pauses. It's rhetorical, clearly, because she goes on. "My friendships with my lovers are far stronger than the friendships I have with most other people."

"I think part of it is that we've seen each other at our most vulnerable, and have accepted the other in that way. Very good at bringing down barriers, that. Besides….when you've seen the other person naked, it brings a whole new dimension to the relationship." There's almost an audible twinkle in the wy he says that. "Besides, being able to have that outlet for stress with no strings attached other than what we apply to it is a pretty powerful thing."

Elisabeth thinks about that for a long while. When she finally does speak, she tells him in a thoughtful voice, "I think I just don't… treat my friends casually anymore. I used to have a lot of casual friends. People I'd… hang around with and have margaritas with. But… this life has a way of narrowing the circle in a big way."

"Being your friend - being friends with the small circle we have - it's a necessity to keep it small. To keep it tightly knit. Together we're strong. And being as tight as we are, implicitly trusting everyone is as important as breathing." Jaiden turns to bump her with his forehead, nudging her with his nose lightly. "We have margaritas. Have had them a few times. But going out in public?" He shakes his head. "We're not normal people anymore, Lizzie."

"Were we ever?" Elisabeth asks, managing barely to keep the bitterness from leaking through. "I think the last time I knew what 'normal' was supposed to look like was before my mother died in the Bomb," she admits.

"We were." Jaiden says softly. "And with time, we will be again."

Elisabeth chuckles quietly. "How do you keep them down on the farm after they've seen gay Paree?" she retorts. "There's no 'normal' after this… not really. When you open your eyes and see the abuses, you either choose to close your eyes and go back to normal again, or you choose to take it upon yourself to try to change it. When you do that, it becomes a lifelong job. Richard used to tell me 'we'll rest when we're through,' but… we both knew that day would likely never come."

There is a little bit of sadness in the way she says that, Jaiden nodding slightly, cuddling close. "I've seen abuses all over the world. I've seen horrors that most people would hardly believe and written stories about them, live in living colour. I did it because there were stories that needed to be told - for the people who had no voice, I gave them a voice. And now…with what we do? I've become one of the people that need a voice, and what we do will echo through the ages…."

There's a cheery thought. Elisabeth curls into him and murmurs, "Why the hell do you follow me? For God's sake, I never have a clue what the hell I'm doing."

"I follow you because you're my friend, Lizzie. I'd follow you to hell and back without a complaint. You do know what you're doing." Jaiden gives her a tight squeeze. "I follow you because I love you."

Did he say it just to see what she'd do? She warned him! And he's familiar enough by now with her ability's nuances to feel the roll of not-sound that for a moment makes taking a breath impossible as panic overtakes her. As if the instant stiffening of her form against him wasn't rejection enough of the words. And she doesn't let him see her face, burying it in his neck. "The only person who's ever said that to me and survived it is my father," she chokes. "Take it back!"

He didn't say it to see what she'd do - it's not like Jaiden. He doesn't tease. He doesn't poke or prod at sensitive places. The Australian says what he thinks and feels without varnishing or diluting. What's said has been said, and it can't be taken back. After all they've been through, she has to know that. Jaiden feels how he feels and there's no denying it. He loves Elisabeth.

His arms curl around her, that bass thrum going through his entire form, holding her tightly against him, his eyes going closed. "I take it back." He murmurs softly. "I don't want to, but I take it back."

Take it back indeed. As if that even works. Elisabeth trembles against him, hiding from it in the embrace. "They all die," she whispers around a flood of tears that are also silent. "Conrad. Norton. Felix. …Richard. They all died. Some of them came back." All but Conrad. And Norton didn't really die, not like the other three, but still! "And if you make it real, you'll die on me, and I already lost Richard. And I might as well have lost my father, I can't even talk to him! I can't do this anymore!"

He finally broke her. Broke through the wall that she keeps between herself and what she feels so that she can keep on doing the job at hand. Her fingers clench into his skin, leaving nail marks as she cries.

This will either bring them together or push them apart. Jaiden hopes, more than anything, that it's the first and not the second, and as she clenches at him, he makes no move to back away, to release her, to give her the solitude that she has imposed on herself for so very long. The strong woman he knows has crumbled, leaving a scared little girl behind. A girl that jumps at shadows, that is afraid of being alone. "Lizzie…." His voice is quiet - barely a whisper, but he's sure that she can hear him. "Alone, all alone. Nobody, but nobody can make it out here alone." A poem? A sonnet? Something, but the way he says it, it's sure to be from something. "I can't promise I won't die and leave you, but you can't promise you won't die and leave me, either. We just have to take the world as it's given. We have to pray that we live and love and make the world, when we leave it, a better place. We're doing that, Lizzie." He feels her tears hot against his shoulder. "You can still do this."

Well, he'll get his wish on that front, at least. Elisabeth cries for what seems to her is just plain forever. Until she's so far beyond exhausted that even her ability falters, her body unable to sustain the level of panic amid the catastrophe of waterworks. When the ragged sobs finally cease, she lays quiescent. Boneless in his embrace. The only sign that she remains awake is the occasional hiccuping breath that she catches. "I'm so tired of losing people," she whispers. "Not just them. I've seen so many people die these last couple of years, and so much bad is coming that our kids have risked their own existences to come here to help." She turns her face up to his, swollen with those tears and flushed a deep pink from the exertion of them. "And everyone thinks I know what the hell I'm doing, and I'm faking it most of the time."

All through this, Jaiden holds her, brushes fingers through her hair, murmurs soothing words. And when she finally does look up, his fingertips brush over tear-stained cheeks, lips pressing lightly to her closed eyes. "Do any of us know what we're doing, truly? With everything going on in the world, all we do is, at best, a guess. We see something happen, we react. We hope for the best. We adapt. We survive." More or less. "We have good times and bad times. Our kids have come back to see to it that the good times happen….and we owe it to them to be strong and try to make it happen for the best."

He shifts, slightly, pulling her atop him, into his embrace, curling around the woman protectively, like a coccoon against the outside world. Since her power has faltered, the sounds of the city come, low and echoing, into the quiet of the room. "You have experiences that none of us do. You have training that allows you to think at lightning speed and to make the tough decisions that no-one wants to make. You're faking it rather well….and it's what we all need right now. I'm here to support you, Lizzie. To hold you when you cry. To help you up when you stumble. To be there when you triumph. You're my friend, and I'll be with you, no matter what."

She holds him tightly, letting him shift her wherever he will. And she whispers, "I'm sorry. For losing it." She lays there listening to his heart beat against her cheek, breathing slowly. "I feel for you too…. but I can't say those words. I'm so sorry. If I say it… it means he's gone for always, Jaiden. It's admitting that he'll never come back." And she can't do that.

Jaiden shhs softly, stroking her cheeks, holding her tight. "I understand….trust me, I understand."

She leans up and kisses him softly, her slender form finally relaxing entirely against him. Laying there safely cradled in the warm sleeping bag, she closes her eyes. It won't be long before she's asleep but she whispers softly, "We're going to get through. Those kids are worth fighting for. Our kids are worth fighting for." Ferry children, all of them, and they are what gives her hope. Because if they survived, we can win. Somehow.

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