The Vow


ff_carina2_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif jared_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif

Scene Title The Vow
Synopsis Till Death Do Us Part
Date February 8, 2019

One of the benefits of personal aircraft is not needing to wait to taxi up to the terminal after landing. Floyd Bennett Airfield sees more personal aircraft come and go than commercial aircraft. On average fifty or so planes per day with less than a third of that in commercial flights. The airfield looks particularly gloomy today, viewed through rain-streaked windows of the Raytech Industries’ private jet. The sky is a wash of slate gray and a drizzling rain falls down on the cracked and weathered tarmac. Small piles of melting snow litter the shady areas around the large terminal building in the distance. The city beyond is both familiar and alien all at once.

For Carina Harrison, staring into her muted reflection in the rain-streaked window, this is another world in the most literal of senses. But there’s enough here that is familiar, enough here that is misplaced, that she can’t help but feel as though a hand is firmly gripping at her heart in the middle of her chest.

Forty-five years ago she made a promise.

«Passengers,» the pilot’s voice crackles over the intercom, «we’ve been given the all-clear from the tower to disembark to the tarmac.»

Today she honors it.

Floyd Bennet Airfield

NYC Safe Zone

February 8th

10:17 am

Today’s the day.

One of the benefits of working for a highly successful corporation is private access to the Safe Zone’s airfield. The limousine parked on the tarmac protects its passengers from the rain, which streaks across the windows in ever-forking paths. The white jet parked on the tarmac not far away is the source of no small amount of emotional tension for Jared Harrison. He’d received the call a month ago that Elisabeth had been recovered, a call accompanied by a deluge of legal documentation from SESA to review regarding national security.

As the door to the small jet opens and stairs unfold from the entrance, Jared can no longer think of the agreements he signed, the promises to keep the government’s secrets he’d made, and the price that this miracle must have cost, in both dollars and lives. He’d seen the casualty reports too, done the liability assessments, he wasn’t there but he had stood over the ghost of what being there meant.

The first silhouette out of the plane is an exhausted-looking Richard Ray, sunglasses on even in the dim light of a rainy day. Jared’s hand moves to the door to the car, his throat tightens, and he can’t help but feel like there’s a hand around his heart, squeezing tightly.

Forty-five years ago he made a promise.

Today he’ll test its finality: till death do you part.

Those dark lenses continue to hide Richard’s eyes even as he looks across the tarmac from the top of the stairs, catching sight of the limousine. A faint but tired smile curves his lips, and he brings a gloved hand up to greet the man within it before starting down the steps, the scarlet scarf he’s wearing fluttering slightly in the breeze that sweeps across the airfield, sending a fresh spray of rainwater across the side of his long coat.

Jared leaves the protection of the vehicle to walk out a little ways and meet him. His hands are shoved into the pockets of the long coat he wears, and he's not using the cane today despite the weather that makes him ache. He was damned if the first time he lays eyes on his daughter — and his granddaughter — will be leaning on a cane. His blue eyes flicker uneasily back toward the plane and then to Richard's face.

"What is it?" he asks immediately. Something must be wrong, if Richard's got a head start. A brief glance back toward the plane again doesn't, however, show his daughter yet. "Where are they?"

It can’t be too bad, because there’s a smile on Richard’s face even if he looks as tired as he is, hands tucked in the pockets of his coat to keep the cold off him as he approaches, drawing in close so that he can be heard over the weather and the noise of the airport.

“They’re on the plane, they’ll be out in a minute,” he replies, stopping beside the older man and bringing a hand out to clap upon his shoulder, “I told you I’d get your family back to you, Jared. Just brace yourself, alright? This might be a bit of a shock.”

He can hear his heart thudding in his ears until Richard reassures him. Then Jared shoots him a grin. "More shocking than coming home with a child?" he asks, brows rising.

And then Elisabeth is stepping off the plane, a small form on her hip as she makes her way cautiously down the stairs. Jared pays no attention to the other form behind her, his focus solely on the daughter he never thought to see again. Tears well up because he simply can't stop them, but he sucks in a breath to ruthlessly keep them from falling. He steps around the younger man.

Elisabeth reaches the bottom of the steps and moves quickly, setting Aurora down with a murmured word a few steps before Jared reaches her. And then she stands up to look at him, having to hide the flash of shock at his appearance — he's far more gray and the grooves of his face are far deeper than when she last saw him. But she throws her arms around him and buries her face in his shoulder, suddenly sobbing uncontrollably.

Jared is not doing much better, holding her fiercely to his chest and closing his eyes. The rest of the world has to go away, just for a couple minutes here. Until he believes he's really holding her.

Aurora looks alarmed, clutching Blossom to her chest and casting a look of consternation toward her own father.

“It’s okay, little rainbow,” Richard murmurs, stepping over to scoop Aurora up into his own arms and propping her up against his chest and shoulder, “This is your grandfather, your mommy’s daddy. They’re happy tears, not sad tears.”

He brushes a kiss to the top side of her head, watching the reunion with a smile as the two hold each other for the first time in so long. Then he’s looking over towards the airplane, waiting for the fourth person on the plane to disembark.

Ducky?” Carina Harrison stands at the middle of the stairs coming off the plane, eyes hidden behind a pair of sunglasses — the first sunglasses she’s owned in years — hair windswept and damp with the misting rain. She carries no bags, wears only the clothes that SESA was able to afford her during her stay in Kansas. But that name, that stupid pet name, is like a gunshot in Jared Harrison’s ears.

That name. That voice.

Carina slowly removes her sunglasses, barely able to make it down the last few steps as she stares at Jared with tear-filled eyes and a slack jaw, in disbelief at the man standing in front of her. This was her first face-to-face confrontation with an undeniable part of her past. Elisabeth had grown up, it wasn’t a baby looking back at her. But Jared, he’s gone gray and doughy in places, but those are still his eyes. Still his laugh-lines.

That is her husband.

Elisabeth has a moment to think oh shit as her father goes stock still. His eyes pop open and he stares over Elisabeth's shoulder at a ghost. Liz feels the tremble run through him before he slowly releases his daughter from the embrace.

He can't breathe. His face goes bone white. Staring at Carina, the world sort of fades into tunnel vision until sheer reflex makes him suck in a breath. The tunnel recedes and he can feel Elisabeth's hand on his arm, her worried voice little more than a buzz in his ears. "… if you faint, Daddy, I swear to God you will never hear the end of it."

Blinking several times, he clearly has no idea how to react to any of this. But he's also been handed a significant amount of Weird Shit in the past years, and he growls at his daughter without taking his eyes off the ghost of his dead wife, "Little girl, we're gonna have a conversation."

Elisabeth kind of winces and slants Richard a glance. I told you this was a bad idea, now you got me in trouble!

The gray-haired man finally feels steady enough to walk forward, but the hand he lifts to touch Carina's face shakes visibly. "If I just died on the runway of a heart attack, don't tell me yet?" And then he's kissing his wife, cradling her face in both hands and making Elisabeth avert her eyes cuz… wow, Dad, really?

Aurora watches with wide hazel eyes. She has a death grip on Blossom and one nearly as tight around Richard's neck.

“I might have gone a bit overboard on the ‘saving your family’ part,” Richard comments in a cheerful tone that’s going to get him smacked in the future, “Sorry about that.”

Despite the older man’s shakiness, he smiles broadly, watching the reunion through rain-streaked lenses, gently bouncing his daughter in his arms as a wordless show that everything’s alright.

“He’ll be fine,” he says quietly to Elisabeth in response to her look his way, “If we’d told him, he’d have over thought this.”

There is a silent familiarity in the way Carina holds Jared, as though they were two lovers separated by a few months rather than decades and a universe. After the kiss her forehead has come to rest against Jared’s, eyes closed and arms around his waist, squeezing him as though he might evaporate into so much smoke any time now.

Rural New York

Outside Castle Point

June 18th


The night is dark and the sky has opened up. A rainstorm has come in from the west, darkening the sky to starless blackness and cascading heavy raindrops down over the road, visible in sharp illumination in the gleaming headlights of the Ford Granada cutting down Route 84. Inside, music plays loud enough to drown out the sound of the rain hammering on the station wagon’s roof, and two voices have joined in to sing it together.

It's getting to the point where I'm no fun anymore
I am sorry
Sometimes it hurts so badly I must cry out loud
I am lonely

The acoustic guitar and lilting melodies of a Crosby Still Nash & Young song elicits fond memories from the couple up front. Jared Harrison’s hair is long and wavy and down past his chin, clean shaven though he is, there’s a roguish quality that he can’t shake. Hands on the steering wheel, he looks in the rear-view mirror at the tiny blonde buckled up and staring out the window behind him. At his side, Carina Harrison carries on with the same song, her blonde hair blown out and parted in the middle, bangs curled and a gleam in her eye in spite of how tired she is.

I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard

Pine trees form impenetrably dark walls on either side of the highway, and the young Elisabeth Harrison in the back seat finds little interest in the song itself, eyelids drooping and head bobbing. It’s been a long day upstate, and the red cooler on the floor at her feet no longer has snacks in it. The fishing poles in the back didn’t catch much of anything, and the pink coloration of her skin will be a sunburn tomorrow. The memories of today would have been wonderful to have, everyone was so happy.

Remember what we've said and done and felt about each other
Oh, babe have mercy
Don't let the past remind us of what we are not now
I am not dreaming

Eventually the trees begin to part, getting more and more sparse as they give way to a clearing. Beyond the edges of darkness, the Hudson River flows freely. Distant tail lights disappear on an off-ramp, and the Harrisons are alone on a winding road headed back home once more. Eventually the car pulls out of the forested section of freeway entirely, transitioning up onto the span of the Newburgh-Beacon bridge. Elisabeth can see the guard rail moving like a snake in the dark outside of the car, and she can see her own blonde reflection more so. The rain is loud enough now to compete with the music.

I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard

During the instrumental, there’s a sudden bang in the rear of the car, a blowout. The station wagon fishtails, and Jared lets out a howl of surprise. Carina immediately lunges back toward the rear seats, pressing a hand to Elisabeth’s chest. “It’s okay, baby!” She says to reassure herself and her daughter, while Jared jerks the wheel left and right to try and steer into the spin. They can feel the car moving sideways now, and Jared yells something incomprehensible over the music. Carina stares at Elisabeth, eyes wide, “Everything’s gonna be— ”

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Tearing yourself away from me now you are free
And I am crying

The windshield cracks violently, water seeping through, the passenger’s side windows explode from an impact with the guard rail. Metal scrapes on metal, tiny shards of glass feel like they’re free-floating in the air, the world is spinning, the red cooler lifts up off of the floor of the station wagon and tumbles through the air, striking Carina in the forehead and sending her jerking back, head impacting the side of her door. There’s a sensation of weightlessness, screaming, terror, and spinning darkness outside.

This does not mean I don't love you I do that's forever
Yes and for always

In a sudden and violent impact, the station wagon crashes into the Hudson River over the side of the bridge. Water explodes into the vehicle and it immediately begins sinking. Carina is the first to drift down into the water, and Jared is struggling to unbuckle himself. Elisabeth is screaming, howling, crying, and the water is rapidly filling the vehicle. Before he can even get himself free, the water has pushed all the way up to the closed driver’s side windows, but not all the way, air is still trapped there as the car falls sideways into the deep. Water trickles in from the doorjam, the screaming echoes in the confined space.

I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard

Elisabeth is underwater and in the dark, only the faint light of the dashboard console glows in the watery gloom. There’s a dark shape, her father, struggling to move in the vehicle. He’s up and around, one arm around his tiny daughter’s waist, lifting her up to the air gap where she can take a gasping, choking breath of air. “Hold on baby! Hold on!” She can barely see him, and she can feel him dive back down, feel him struggle, and struggle he does. Carina is unconscious, and he fights with her seatbelt, struggles to get her out. The water is filling up faster, the current is sweeping.

Something inside is telling me that I've got your secret
Are you still listening?
Fear is the lock and laughter the key to your heart
And I love you

Jared comes back and makes the hardest decision of his life. “Hold your breath, baby. Hold your breath.” He covers Elisabeth’s mouth and pulls her close to his chest, then drops down through the car, swimming out through one of the blown out windows just as the nose of the station wagon touches the bottom of the river. His legs kick, and Elisabeth can see him clearer now than ever. A lambent emerald glow is burning through the surface of the water, bright and electric, like a flashlight shining down into a fishbowl.

I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard

As Jared swims up, the emerald light grows brighter and brighter, until it is as blinding as a search light at midnight. When they breach the surface of the water, the rain is hammering down and the light is gone. Instead, there is a violent aurora of green light crackling in the sky, curtains of emerald dancing down from within the rain storm, and Jared is splashing around, breathing heavily and panting.

And you make it hard

Packed traffic is stopped dead on the bridge, red tail lights forming a rubyline across its length. There was no traffic a moment ago, and now the highway is at a standstill. He screams, “Help!” Treading water and trying to get someone’s attention. “Help!

And you make it hard

He cries out again, clutching Elisabeth to his chest and looking back down into the river. “Someone! Help!

And you make it hard

Present Day

Carina reaches up to rest her hands around Jared’s arms, staring at him with tear-filled eyes. “It’s a long story,” she says with a hitch in her voice, a tightness in her throat that may never go away. She rises up onto her toes like she did when she was a girl, kissing him again even though he’d be able to taste the tears. She remembers that night like it was yesterday, she remembers what came and went, the truth that the world told her was a delusion of a damaged mind.

Carina remembers what happened on the other side of the looking glass, somewhere over the rainbow, where the story kept on going.

New York City

Weill Cornell Medical Center

August 8th


A soft mechanical hiss of a respirator fills the silence. Carina Harrison awakens from one nightmare into another, but gone is the suffocating and cold darkness. Instead, there is the clinical coldness of a sunny hospital room. Everything is pain, a dull bone-deep ache blunted by painkillers. Her vision is blurry, but she can tell she isn’t alone in the room.

There are no flowers beside her bed, no cards of well-wishing from relatives. There is just a single chair with its back to the window, and a dark and indistinguishable silhouette of a woman seated in it.

Carina tries to speak, but it’s just a hoarse whisper. The figure in the chair leans forward, taking her hand with a smooth and practiced touch that lacks any surprise. “Ssh,” the woman urges Carina, gently squeezing that hand. “Rest more…” Gently, Carina’s eyes flutter shut.

“Your sister’s going to take care of you…”

Present Day

But the past is a silence that hangs like a sword over Jared and Carina, one she brings no voice to. Not the struggles she’s faced since the day her husband and daughter disappeared, not the long and bloody road to get to this moment. Instead, there is just a look of hope in her eyes as she holds Jared’s wrists. Hope that he accepts this miracle, hope that he remembers the smell of her hair and the curve of her lips.

Hope is all anyone has.

Jared holds her to him, resting his forehead to hers for long moments to breathe her in. Then he looks into her face, seeing the evidence that she is Carina in the way she looks at him. The way she feels in his arms. The way she smells. The way she kisses him. And yet the wear and tear of hard years have given the aging lines of her face a subtly different character.

One hand comes up to trace her cheekbone and then drifts upward to the scar on the side of her forehead where the stitches once were. He brushes her hair gently back to look at the spot, that moment when he almost lost them both so many years ago. Memories of almost losing her and then of actually losing her slam through him.

Rural New York

Outside Castle Point

June 18th


Carina surfacing, the water having cleared away the blood from the gash on her head but now it wells up to trickle down her face as she treads water next to him. "Have you got her?" she gasps desperately. "Thank God."

He reaches out to touch her, barely able to believe their luck. People on the bridge are calling out, making their way down the embankment to help them as they strike out together toward the river's side, Elisabeth's shivering form clutched to her father's chest.

A memory of a day.

A memory of a lie.

New York City

Upper West Side

St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church

November 25th, 2006

He didn't even have a body to bury. The building she worked in was near the epicenter of the blast zone, mostly obliterated. The only sign of her was the stone. Carina Barbieri Harrison, beloved wife and mother.

How was he supposed to do this? She had been his world for more than 30 years. He still didn't even understand what had happened. Rage and grief were overwhelming.

Present Day

It's her, but it's not her. But it's her. "You're real?" Jared breathes. He's afraid to look, expecting to see his own body on the ground with Richard and Elisabeth doing CPR or something. There is so much to this that he isn't quite comprehending.

He might have to punch Richard in the mouth.

“Real as rain,” Carina whispers, the phrase reminding Jared of nights spent at his cabin in the Adirondacks, back before it was a fallback location, before the war, before the Evolved, before everything. To her credit, Carina is holding herself together better than they anticipated. When she scrapes a tear away from one eye with the side of a finger, sniffles back a sob and manages a smile, there is pride in it at her strength. She’s been sad so long in her life, she didn’t want to be sad now for the time they’d lost. Not when they have time ahead of them.

“I’m sorry it took so long for…” Carina’s voice hitches in the back of her throat, then briefly looks over to Elisabeth and Richard, then back to her husband. “I’m sorry, Ducky. There’s so much… so much I want to say. We have— ” Saying we makes Carina catch herself, her hands retreating from Jared, her expression reflecting her inner uncertainty.

Jared knows her, knows the look in her eyes, understands her hesitation. It’s been decades. He mourned her, just like she mourned him. Her eyes say what lips can’t; is there a place for her here?

Elisabeth leans her head on Richard's shoulder, tears filling her eyes as she sees the way her mother looks at her father. It's the same excruciating joy and paralyzing fear, the painful hope of homecoming after so long that Elisabeth felt when she first laid eyes on the man next to her. She looks up at him as his free arm comes around her and smiles shakily. Because in her father's face, she sees the same fierce love he always looked at her mother with. "They'll be fine," she agrees in a whisper.

There's a lot that needs figuring out, and the glance back at his daughter and the man who has become his son holds a sharp edge. Words are going to be had. Explanations. Jared's not stupid — that Elisabeth brought her mother home with her implies there's a hell of a lot more to the story than just 'oh look, I found a version of Mom.' But his focus immediately returns to the woman standing in front of him.

His own emotions are a complex tangle that he needs some time to unravel, but he can't allow her to back off, can't imagine allowing her to walk away hurting, can't stand the uncertainty in her face. He reaches out and cradles her jaw in his hand. "We'll figure it out, beautiful." The words are quiet but they have the cadence of a vow, his eyes holding hers. How, he has no fucking clue. But they will.

The hand on her jaw slides around to the back of her neck and Jared draws Carina back to his chest where his arms shelter her, burying his nose in her hair as he kisses her head. "We'll figure it out," he promises in a whisper.

“He might deck me,” Richard murmurs in quiet humor, “But they’ll be fine.”

He leans down to brush a kiss against his lover’s brow, his voice still soft as he tells her - or tells himself, maybe, “Eileen thought I was going to break the universe. Maybe I did, a little. But only because so I could try and fix some more important things.” His gaze sweeps to the older couple reuniting, and then he smiles to the young girl in his arms, “Like families.”

“There’s nothing more important than that.”

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