The Happy Ending


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Scene Title The Happy Ending
Synopsis You won't find it here.
Date November 8, 2017

Resistance HQ

There is no power here, out in the wasteland.

Oil lamps light the dark corners of a subterranean parking garage converted into a makeshift resistance headquarters. Far from the commotion and conversation, the darker and more private corners of the garage’s lowest level are lit solely by gas lamps. The cars here haven’t moved in years, tires flat if they have wheels at all. Most have been converted into temporary living spaces, blankets spilling out of open doors, backpacks lined up beside them. An errant child’s doll sits near the open hatchback of an otherwise unoccupied car. No one is here, so at least in that respect there’s some semblance of peace.

It’s a harrowing contrast between the world of promise and opportunity soiled by tyranny that is now behind Elisabeth Harrison, and the world of rust and blood that is her present. Aurora slips from her side, quietly moving over to where the cloth doll lays on its side. The tiny child bends down, picks it up, and then sets it back down in a seated position against a flat tire, and then drapes a little bit of the discarded blanket over the doll, so as to make sure it’s still warm.

Aurora looks up to Elisabeth with a warm smile after that, proud of herself in taking care of the doll. It dawns on Elisabeth that her daughter doesn’t find any of this world unusual, at least in the greater sense that adults do. She’s left to wonder the long-term effects growing up in these kinds of situations will be, or how her girl will grow up.

The kind of person she’ll become.

She chose this quiet, out of the way corner to give Aurora some time to process what's happening. To cuddle the little girl close to her and reassure her that they're going to be okay, that it's scary but she's not alone. But so far, Aurora seems to be dealing with here perfectly fine. Elisabeth has no idea how successful she'll be at keeping the child from harm, but she's grateful that Kaylee can mitigate the traumatizing aspects of the actual arrival.

"Good job, sweetheart," she tells her. "The baby will like that a lot." She pushes her hair out of her face and rests her elbows on her knees while she watches Aura explore. "Watch where you step, ok?" Tetanus is the last thing Liz wants to deal with.

As Aurora is making her way back to Elisabeth, there’s a scuff from one of the cars and a clap of shoes on concrete. They’re light sounds, but enough to imply that not everyone has left this living space yet. Stepping into the light, a boy around Aurora’s age is looking at the doll, then looks up at Aurora. He doesn’t seem to notice Liz, or at least recognize that she’s there. Instead, he rushes over to the doll and quickly rips the blanket covering off.

“That’s Maddie’s doll! You can’t touch it!” The boy shouts, little arms down at his side and hands curled into tiny fists, tears welled up in his eyes. His jaw unsteadies, and his hazel-eyed stare is fixed on Aurora. “She— she’ll be back for her.”

She won’t.

Elisabeth is on her feet quickly at the sound, but she takes a knee when she realizes it's just another child. "She's not going to take it," she tells him soothingly. "She just covered the doll with a blanket so she wouldn't be cold. It's okay." He's protective and that's something she's understands. "That's Aurora. I'm … Elisabeth." She hesitates briefly over giving her real name. "Do you want to tell us your name?" She won't push him — they are strangers and he's right to be wary.


Eyes locked on Elisabeth, the small child stares up at her with confusion once he registers the voice. Taking a step back, he looks as though he he’s about to run before another, equally familiar voice chimes in from the direction he’d come from.

Joshua.” The name is like a gunshot for all that it evokes in Elisabeth, and the scuffing footfalls approaching through the dark likewise bring back prickles of anxiety that this place — this nightmare world — keeps feeding. The ghost of Elisabeth Harrison steps into the lantern light, hair matted and a horizontal scar split across one side of her face, forking into a Y-shaped cut at her cheekbone.

The boy — Joshua — rushes over to this other Elisabeth and grabs at the fabric of her worn jeans. He looks up at his mother, then over to Elisabeth with tears in his eyes. She levels a look down at Aurora, and the expression is the same.

Shock rolls through Elisabeth and she climbs to her feet, walking toward Aurora, sheltering the girl against her body the same way her other self shelters Joshua. She should have been prepped for this… here, of all places, this she should have steeled herself for. She just… didn't. She's barely had time to wrap her head around the fact that they've landed in the Wasteland — and that it's a wasteland far earlier than the kids who traveled back from 2040 lived. Things are different enough that what she knows is probably not even valid anymore. She swallows hard and murmurs softly, "Hello, Liz."

Aurora tilts her head and studies the other child curiously, but for her part it's the boy's mother who draws her attention. "Mummy… I never saw two people talk the same." Elisabeth's jaw tightens and she murmurs, "We'll talk about it later, please."

The scarred Elisabeth presses a hand to the top of Joshua’s head, fingers working through his short hair. “Go find uncle Luther,” she says in a hushed tone of voice, patting the boy on the side of his neck. Joshua doesn’t disengage immediately, but then casually slips away and slinks a few feet from his mother, looking up to her mirrored alter ego, then Aurora, and then finally the ramp leading up and out of this level. As he starts to walk away, Elisabeth’s wasteland counterpart slowly approaches her, looking up and down assessingly.

“You look good,” isn’t bitterly said by this long-suffering version of herself, but it also comes without familiar warmth. “I heard Eve shouting, but I didn’t believe it.” Her eyes close, head shaking slowly. “Not sure why I didn’t. This world is ff— ” she cuts herself off, looking at Aurora, then swallows back her words. “It’s insane.” Blue eyes alight to her better-off counterpart. “Felix?” She asks of Aurora’s parentage.

She watches the two of them together, her heart perhaps showing a little in her expression — she's met the man that Joshua became in another place and timeline. He was truculent, a hard young man… but so gentle with her when he laid eyes on her. So full of love for his real mother, and so determined to make sure that the younger version never suffered what his mother did. Her gaze rises from the little boy's confused expression to his mother's and she hesitates. Elisabeth can't help but smile when her alternate self bites back the F-bomb. As if none of the kids have heard it regularly. "Thanks," she says quietly. "I… wish that things had been easier for you."

Her touch on Aurora mirrors the movement that Liz made on Joshua and she urges the little girl back toward the doll. "Why don't you make sure the dolly is wrapped up well, hmm?" And the subtle shift of the sound around both of them should tell the other audiokinetic what she just did — to keep their conversation away from little pitchers with big ears. "Richard," she says quietly. "Although Felix always treated her like his own."

There's a moment where the other Liz seems surprised, looking over to Aurora and squinting, then back to her double. There's a dark, envious look in her eyes, but it's quick to pass. Silent for a moment, she smiles belatedly and looks back to the girl with a slow shake of her head. “Mine too,” she says with a hint of mystified softness to her otherwise rough voice.

“They're almost the same age, too.” Though the scarred counterpart to Elisabeth doesn't ask Aurora’s birthdate. “It's funny… we both wind up in his orbit in, what? Other worlds? Is that how you all work?” There's uncertainty in her eyes. “Eve hasn't exactly been the clearest person to get answers from.”

Her blue eyes track Elisabeth one more time, then settle on Aurora. “What's her name?”

"Heh," Elisabeth replies with a rueful smile. "Yeah… Eve's answers required a cryptographer and even then, half the time they're not quite gonna make sense," she agrees mildly. Crossing her arms, more to have something to do with them while she scuffs a foot on the ground than because she's feeling particularly defensive, the brunette looks down. "Aurora. It seemed… to fit, given how we got thrown from our world."

She pauses a moment, trying to corral her wayward thoughts about the idea that Joshua was born far earlier in this timeline than in the Wasteland that she knows about. "Uhm… Well. Depends on how much shit Richard talked about that you followed, but… yeah. The general idea of alternate timelines has to do with major events and how they split off from one another. So…. somewhere far enough back, we were all one timeline, and then something happened. In one timeline, the results of the something went one way, in one it went the other." She shrugs slightly. "Happens over and over again, apparently." Elisabeth looks up at her counterpart. "So… in a lot of worlds, we'd probably find us together at least for a little while if the split happened after a certain year. Splits before certain events, we might not have even met."

It's a stupid thing, but Elisabeth has the chance to ask and suddenly blurts out, "What made you decide on Joshua?"

Mention of Richard has kept this world’s Elisabeth quiet, eyes downcast to the floor and shoulders slouched some. She’s tried to put up a strong enough facade, but that’s clearly just paint over more serious structural damage. “I had a dream once,” Elisabeth says quietly, “of dad, and mom. There was a…” she shakes her head. “I heard the name in a dream, and it stuck with me. Richard wanted to name him Edward and I outright refused.”

At first that seems like a playfully chiding comment, but it doesn’t take long for Elisabeth to lift a hand to her face and brush a thumb at each eye. “Richard found out Edward Ray was his surrogate father. I don’t know if that happened where you’re from. He…” she shakes her head, “I can’t. Do this.” Taking a step away, Elisabeth runs a hand over her scarred cheek and slides her tongue against the inside of her cheek.

“Is he alive?” Elisabeth asks, moving her hand from her scar, “your Richard, in your world?” All of the implications therein speak volumes that this world’s — the Wasteland’s Richard — is dead. The path forks.

Even the thought of allowing that horrifies the brunette version, and it's clear in her face. "Oh hell no," she grimaces. "Not naming my kid after that fucker." Fffffft.

Uncrossing her arms, Liz holds out a hand to stop her alternate from bolting. "Wait… please?" She sighs heavily. The other woman's loss is keenly understood by this one. But selfishly she'd perhaps been hoping for help from that quarter. "As…. far as I know, yes, he's still alive. I don't… " she hesitates and then says, "I don't really know what to say or what not to say to you right now." Tilting her head, something tweaks her though…

"Liz… surrogate father as in sort of adopted like Felix did for Aura? Or biologically surrogate?" There's an underlying tension to the query, as if she's honestly afraid of the answer.

With her back to her world-traveling counterpart, Liz lowers her head and wraps her arms around herself, raking one hand through blonde hair. She turns, slowly, and watches her double for a moment. “Adoptive,” is her clarification. “His birth parents are dead. Edward,” and that name is strained with such vitriol, “was supposed to raise him but abandoned him instead. It's…” she shakes her head, “not important, now.”

Swallowing audibly, that Liz reflexively touches the scar on her cheek again. “He saw your world, you know.” There's a haunted look in her eyes. “Or… maybe just another one. It changed him, for the better.” There's tears in her eyes again. “He'd… started to become someone else. Started to make exceptions to things.” Her brows furrow together, throat working up and down in a another tight swallow.

“He saw himself,” this world’s Liz admits. “Saw the monster he was set to become confronted by the man he could be.” Her lips work in an awkwardly restrained grimace. “He chose better.”

Elisabeth breathes in relief at the clarification. She looks up, startled, at the rest of the words. And although it's an unexpected reaction, tears fill her eyes. "He— " She looks toward where Joshua slipped out… although she has to wonder if the boy is perched in a hidden corner watching. It's why she put the field around the two women. This conversation is hard enough to have with the person who lived at least some of the same shit. The kids don't need to hear it. She automatically checks to make sure that Aurora is okay, noting that the little girl hasn't touched the doll that Joshua was so upset over; she's exploring the immediate vicinity.

"I'm glad," she tells her counterpart softly. "I'm so sorry you lost him." She wants to ask a hundred questions, but she leaves her words there — simple acknowledgement of the pain she sees in the other woman.

Nodding in slow, repeated movements, this world’s Liz swallows back emotion and takes a hand through her hair again. “He explained everything to me. He found a machine, probably from your world, that… fell into ours in Alaska. I guess after he saw what was recorded on it, he had a man… bring me back.”

The riots. Suddenly, Elisabeth recalls her fate in another wasteland, a choice Richard had made in this timeline but not in others, unchanged. And yet…

“He took a position in the government,” she continues. “We married for political protection from the camps. For our son.” There's no warmth in her eyes there. “And then… he risked everything to try and stop what he thought was coming, and— the stupid motherfucker got himself and everyone else killed.”

Jaw unsteadied, Liz moves her hand away from her scar. “So I don't need a sorry,” she says with a quaver in her voice. “I need my life back. My ability back. I need…” She looks away, one hand creeping up to cradle her face. She can't continue that sentence.

She'd been afraid to ask. She wasn't sure she wanted to know. And Elisabeth flinches visibly at the information that he'd brought this Liz back… that the thing her Richard made certain never happened still happened here. She'd hoped the timeline had changed enough. It didn't.

The brunette moves to lean back against one the remains of the car nearest Liz as she listens. There is surprise in her blue eyes when the word 'married' shows up, though the explanation makes sense. Breathing out a slow sigh, Elisabeth's mouth straightens into a thin line while she ponders what to say and what not to. Her gaze comes sharply back up, though. "You don't have your ability?" Her brows pull together at that, but she'll come back to it if she can.

She shifts away from that, though, for a moment — so many things to unpack here. "Time has inertia. There are certain things … that I don't think we can stop. The machine's creation, whether it's under the monster that the one version of Richard became or someone else… I believe it's one of the things that can't be stopped. Only perhaps mitigated." Elisabeth grimaces. "Look, that's too big a thing to deal with in whatever time you're willing to talk to me right now. But…"

She meets Liz's eyes. "I need to tell you something. And ask something of you. I can't stop the way you're going to die because of what Richard did bringing you back… " There's a despair to her as she speaks. "But this world, this war… it would have happened anyway. Slightly different circumstances — later in the timeline because of the compromises your Richard was making. But it came about pretty similarly, he'd just have brought you back to life later, Joshua would have been born later. You ran from Richard when you realized what he was becoming, what was happening to the world, and you lived with the resistance there too." She grins a little, though it's not reflected in her eyes. "We can't seem to stop fighting the good fight. But in that case… when Josh and his friends were around 20, around the year 2040, the resistance finally started winning. A platoon of he and his friends went back in time to 2010 or thereabouts, integrated themselves into the timeline, and tried to change it all. Josh's method of doing that was to attempt to murder his father in cold blood before you.. I… we could be resurrected."

She is a bit urgent now as she explains. "But time doesn't work that way. I didn't die in that riot, because other events thwarted it. So our son was willing to erase himself from existence to save his mother the pain of resurrection… and it never would have worked anyway, because you'd already been resurrected here in this timeline and I'd already escaped death in mine." Elisabeth's tone pleads with her softly. "I know you're pissed at him. I faced the monster he became — he wasn't even my Richard and I still was so fucking mad I wanted to kill him and kiss him at the same time. Joshua needs to be able to see that even if it was all the wrong choices and it blew up in Richard's stupid-ass face, it was for the right reasons. Don't let our son grow up hating that man, hating that part of himself, so much that he's willing to cease to exist?"

So much of this would crush an ordinary person. Phrases like you're going to die and cease to exist would serve to break a person's spirit, but do nothing but roll off this world’s Liz like water from a stone. She's been living deep in this world of troubles and the supernatural for just as long as her counterpart, and has the same resilience to change. Even if much of it is a facade these days.

Time isn't a line,” Liz finally says after being confronted with all of that. “Richard said that phrase a lot after the machine arrived. He was insistent that we could change things, move mountains and divert rivers. I suppose he was right,” she says with a bitter scoff, “but we changed things for the worse.”

Unable to cry for him any longer, Liz looks down to her feet and tracks a fingertip beside the scar across her face. “If my son gets to grow up into a man, I'll consider myself lucky. Whether he hates his father or not.”

Elisabeth can't help but nod slightly, huffing out a slow breath. "That's fair," she admits. And then she shakes her head. "Yeah… my Richard always said it too. I didn't understand enough of it until all of this. And to this day, even just now having come from a world where Pinehearst was big enough to crush the Vanguard and keep Humanis First in check, I still don't know if taking him down was the wrong thing to do. My world has avoided this particular exact path, but it's still fighting a civil war with Humanis First fuckers." The grimace is weary. She's a bit tired of seeing the what-ifs of all the decisions she's made or seen made in the past decade.

"Maybe war between the Evos and non is just inevitable. Maybe it just has to happen so that we can go past it. There've been a lot of times that I've begun to think… certain things happen for a reason. Even the horrible ones. Because it's just human nature to hate what you don't understand." She drops to crouch on her heels, her hands clasped. "There have been days when I feel like it would just be so much fucking easier to lay down and let them kill me. I might have done it… but for finding out that she was coming," Elisabeth admits, her eyes skating toward her daughter. "I wish I could give you your life back. I wish… something I did or could do would change it. But…. I'm starting to truly believe that some things are just meant to happen and that the point isn't to change them. It's to learn from them." She shrugs. "It's stupid, but it's the only thing I have to hold onto."

“You could start by nuking Georgia Mayes into a fine fucking mist,” this world’s Liz says in response. “But maybe that's a tall order.” She's been watching Aurora for a while now, eyes halfway lidded, a frown creasing her face and greasy, curly hair framing her face in bedraggled fashion. She looks, is, and may always be tired.

When she finally looks up from Aurora, Liz settles a searching look on her comparatively better off counterpart. “You know what the DoEA’s justification for all this has been?” The rhetorical question doesn't hang unanswered for long. “That if given the chance, we would do the same thing to them. Camps, controlled breeding, sterilization.” She looks back to Aurora, one hand clenched into a fist.

“I'm not sure they're wrong.” Is Liz’s bitter denouement to her dark view of the world. “And if we did… if we really wanted to, who could stop us?”

The request brings a grim smile to Elisabeth's face. "If I could obliterate that bitch in every timeline, I'd do it in a heartbeat," she admits quietly. Her blue eyes hold rage at the argument they're using. "They would have been wrong back when they started this shit… but they might not be wrong now," she agrees softly. "That's the rub, isn't it? You create your own worst enemies when you do shit like this." A flash of pain is visible — she has created her share. Look at what happened to Gabriel and Eileen, all because she asked their help. Look at what happened with Elspeth before.

Sighing quietly, she studies her counterpart and glances from Liz to Aurora. "What are you thinking, when you look at her like that?" The question is soft, but the other woman is clearly thinking something… and Elisabeth wonders what that is, what has the other woman so interested.

“That I never thought I wanted a daughter,” is her response. “Until I saw her.” This world’s Liz looks up to her counterpart, feigning a smile out of politeness. “And how I wish I'd never kept Joshua.” After that dark thought, Liz looks to her counterpart with a dead-eyed stare. “It's not that I don't love him, it's just…”

It's this world.

“It's just going to be a matter of time before I have to bury him,” Liz says with a vacancy in her voice, “or he has to bury me.”

Her heart breaks. Elisabeth can understand the despair that would drive her other self to wish in some ways for that — because it's a way to have spared Joshua this life. This world has shattered her counterpart in ways Elisabeth never thought to see. But hasn't she been near that breaking point herself a couple of times? She's just had the benefit of getting away from this kind of darkness and having regular therapy for the past five years. She's glad, though, that she kept this conversation within a bubble — it means even if Joshua is eavesdropping, he won't hear that. At the back of her head… she has a flash of fear for the boy. Liz wouldn't hurt Joshua, would she? Mental note to self, have Kaylee check on this woman immediately.

Pushing to her feet, Elisabeth says softly, "You love him. He loves you. And I know you feel broken, Liz. I promise you, I've been there." And she has fought every step of the way not to lose herself in that same depression. "I understand the need to rest and to just curl up and hide away." It's what she did for months while all the plans fell apart and they lived as fugitives in the Skinny Brickfront. "But giving up means they win. I can't pull you out of the hole you're in… but I'll be here. If you want me to be." There is zero judgement in her tone — there is only a sadness to see what could have been. What her other self has become - a shadow.

Liz’s nod is slow and shallow, her eyes focused distantly on Aurora and then to a point in space past her. “I only came here to see you. We've been hiding out in the Catskills.” Her brows furrow together, blue eyes settling on her counterpart. “Eve’s been making a big deal out of this for a while.” The pause between thoughts is heavy. “Now… I get it.”

Running a hand through her hair, this world’s Liz looks around herself, and Elisabeth can see a surgical scar on her forearm. “I'll probably be headed back soon. I… think I've said all I really need to. You…” She looks conflicted, “deserve to know what happened to him.”

Tilting her head, Elisabeth studies her thoughtfully. She's not sure what the other Liz gets … was Eve trying to let this Liz see that there is a way out? A way through? Had she wanted this Liz to take some kind of hope from the fact that another her was better off? That seems mean and not like Eve to do. "Do you…. want to know … what happened to him?" The offer is hesitant — Elisabeth doesn't know if the knowledge of what happened in her timeline might be worse. But then again… maybe knowing some of it would be better. She doesn't dare make that decision for the other woman; she has no idea what her own answer would be.

Tentatively she steps forward into touching distance and reaches out to gently push matted blonde hair back. "I .. don't really know why she wanted you to be here. But thank you. Knowing that what he saw turned him around? That, to me, is a huge blessing. Facing him down like we did… it broke something in me. And knowing what he could have become? It broke something in my Richard, too." There's a lot of sadness to go around.

"If you need … anything. Ever," she tells her counterpart quietly.

“We all have the capacity for inhumanity in us,” Liz says to this phantom of her from a brighter world. “That's what I've learned.” Looking down to the floor, she hesitates and starts to turn away, then reconsiders and looks back.

“Eve told me… you'd be coming. That's all.” But those tired blue eyes hide something else in them, an uncertainty that wasn't there at the start of this conversation. “But… it's good to see that anything is possible. If you fight hard enough for it.” She looks to Aurora one last time, then can't bear to any longer.

“And… no. I don't want to know what happened to your Richard. That's just a story to me.” Straightening her jacket, this world’s Liz looks up to her counterpart and then turns away. “I'll keep your offer in mind though…”

“Maybe if you find a way out,” Liz says distantly, “maybe whatever's on the other side can't be worse than this.”

Well…. it could be…. but Elisabeth shrugs and says softly, "We do." She knows exactly how far some people go… she worries how far she could go. And she's seeing some of it. "Dad always said if it's already bad enough that you honestly believe it can't get worse, there's nowhere to go but up. So when we figure out what the fuck it will take to get us out of here, if you want to take the chance, the invitation is open."

It's the only hope she can offer her other self. "Take care, Liz." She watches her other self go and moves over toward where Aurora is also watching. Her hand rests on the little girl's head and she smiles just a little for the child. "Let's go find aunt Kaylee, hmm?"

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