Things We Lost


cardinal_icon.gif monica2_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif

Scene Title Things We Lost
Synopsis Three people try to work through their losses, their futures and their guilt.
Date November 9, 2011

Hollis Fitzroy's Cabin

There's still snow on the ground, even in the afternoon sunlight. Since they arrived, Monica has gotten her arm properly bandaged. She was down on the triage list both because she put herself there and because the method of her injury meant that she didn't have blood loss like some of the others. Despite missing most of her arm now.

And she's outside. Bundled up, but not as much as she could be. Her outermost layer is hanging over a low tree branch while she seems to be working out nearby. Pinging between trees, it seems, in a test of how well she can adjust to using only her right for such things. Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes not. The real struggle comes when she grabs onto a branch and tries to lever herself up onto it. Instead of one smooth movement, she has to scramble, using her legs awkwardly until she can lean her left side against it and sort of roll up to a sitting position. And once there, she stops, letting out a heavy sigh.

It's painful to watch, having seen her move so effortlessly before, but Cardinal makes himself watch anyway once he's stepped outside; he's on the porch right now, having gotten there at some point, settled down on the brushed-off steps. One leg stretched out, the other bent, an arm draped over it as he watches her. Draped in a fur-lined jacket that he didn't go in with, so he must have retrieved it from somewhere inside the facility. It's not as warm as the powered armor he went in with, but he seems to have lost that somewhere along the way too.

It's not a loss that compares to hers, though, by a long shot.

He wants to call out, suggest maybe that they could find a healer. That they could get a good prosthetic. But he doesn't, just watching her as she goes through her one-armed workout. Eventually she'll probably notice him there.

While she sits there, she sinks into herself, hunched over and shaking for more reasons than just the cold. It goes on longer than it would if she knew she had an audience, but eventually she sits up and slides off the branch. At least she can still land gracefully. She grabs her coat, slides it on, and uses the sleeve to wipe at her eyes as she turns to head back for the cabin. She's done for the time being, apparently.

But that's when she sees him there and she stops, looking for a moment like she might run off somewhere. But she doesn't. Instead, she comes over to the porch and brings up a little smile. "How long have you been there?" she asks, perhaps a little embarrassed.

"Just a little while," Cardinal lies glibly, not wanting to embarass her any more than necessary. He looks up as she approaches, offering her a faint smile; no sunglasses, for once, hazel eyes revealed to sight. Dark circles shadow beneath him. He hasn't been sleeping very well - maybe at all. "It looks like you're… adapting alright. I know it's hard, learning to— you know, do things with one hand." He glances down to one hand, odd black scars marking it, "I had to, once."

Monica tilts her head, but decides to accept the lie and comes to sit next to him. "Easier for me, yeah? I just need to find a one-armed gymnast and one-armed freerunner and one-armed… musician," she cuts herself off there, because while it was meant to be a joke, it's a little too real and she looks down at her lap. A few deliberate breaths pass before she can look up again. "We've all got a lot to adjust to," she notes, and while Liz is certainly on her mind, she dodges that particular matter for the moment. "Do you think it'll come back? Your powers? Do… do you want them to?"

"Maybe not. I mean, Warren can… build you a new arm, not as good as the original of course, but…" Cardinal gives his head a slight shake, "Maybe we can — find a healer, too, I don't know." They don't have a healer on call, these days, not like they did once. At the question, his gaze drops down to his hand, fingers splaying through the air briefly. "No. They're gone. I— he— took them from me, and then I killed him. That ability died with him. And Tyler's… Tyler's burnt out. I guess it was never meant to be handed off like that." His voice quiet, level. Too level, really, for it to be natural. "I was hoping I could at least save something from him."

"Isn't he the one that made those robots all crazy?" Monica gives Cardinal a sidelong look at this suggestion. But her expression evens out as he goes on. "I don't want to get my hopes up. By the time we find a healer, I don't even know if they'd be able to do anything about it. And I'm barely even ready to believe it's really gone myself." Her eyes close, perhaps taking a moment to imagine it still there without her sight contradicting her. But. It is just imagination. So she opens her eyes again and looks over at him. Her hand reaches over to take his, curling her fingers to give him a squeeze. "I'm so sorry, Richard. None of that went… how we were hoping." It certainly went wrong in ways she didn't prepare for. "I know I let you down. I'm sorry."

"I…" Cardinal breathes out a sigh, fingers lifting to pinch the bridge of his nose, "…technically, yes, but he didn't really know what he was doing. He's my brother, Monica— " That may be news to her! "— I have to try and rehabilitate him." Then his brow furrows, his head lifting sharply as she clasps his other hand, a flicker of anger actuallty in his eyes. "What the hell are you talking about? You didn't let down shit, Monica, and I don't want to hear a fucking word that says you did."

That is news to Monica and her eyebrows lift to mark it, but a more sheepish expression follows. "Of course. I'll help, if I can. But family can heal a lot of things." She knows that much from experience. And she might go on more on the subject, but his anger makes her stop. Her brow furrows and she shakes her head against his words. "I could have stopped Magnes," she says, euphemistically, "I had the shot, but I didn't take it. I hit him instead. I knew he was in the armor. It was stupid." Her hand comes back to run through her hair, her own anger directed inward. "And then Liz — " She looks upward, eyes wet, and shakes her head.

"No." A firm, curt statement, Cardinal's head shaking sharply. "There's no guarantee that shooting him would've stopped whatever had started. And those weren't the damn orders I gave you, either— is Peyton in there?" A jerk of his head back over his shoulder, though his eyes never leave her face, "Then you did every thing I told you to do successfully. Nothing that happened was because you failed."

"I could have at least tried!" Monica tries, she scrunches up her face and tries to feel more anger than loss, but it doesn't work for long. Tears fall and her hand covers her eyes, as if this would hide it from him. It's a futile gesture, though, because sobs follow shortly. Almost as soon as it starts, she's trying to get it back under control, but it isn't so easy this time around.

"No. No, no you can't," Cardinal says urgently, freeing his hand from hers so that he can wrap it around her shoulders, so that he can pull her in against his side; his head tilting in, temple bumping the side of her head. "No. It wasn't your fault, Moni," he says tightly, swallowing hard, "It wasn't, and you can't fucking blame yourself. You can't."

It isn't hard to get her to move and she leans against him to cry into his shoulder. And for a few moments, it seems to get worse. But it ebbs eventually, and she ends up coming up for breath. "I'm sorry," she says once more, although probably for crying all over his jacket this time. "I guess I got used to being able to do everything. I feel like I should fix everything. I should adjust that thinking now," she notes with a glance to her arm.

"That's supposed to be me, isn't it? The guy who fixes everything…" A sigh whispers past Cardinal's lips, his head shaking ever so slightly; arm still around her, not seeming to mind the salt tears staining the arm of his jacket. "Nothing that happened is your fault, Monica. It's mine, if anyone's. And you — you'll carry on. We'll fix this, somehow, I promise."

"I think we might have some kind of complex," Monica says with a raw — and brief — chuckle. Her arm slides around him, too, and she looks out at the trees. "Well, if it's not mine, it's not yours. We all went in there together." She nods as he goes on. "I'll figure it out. Adjust. Learn one-handed flips."

"That was me," Cardinal says with a slight shake of his head, "That was me, even if not… me, me, and…." He trails off, looking out into the night, the apple of his throat rising and falling in a hard swallow. He hasn't cried. Not yet. "You'll be fine, Monica. One way or another, you will be."

"No it wasn't." Monica looks over at him, her head tilting. "A you, maybe. But not this you. If we're gonna start feeling bad over what our multiverse selves do, we're gonna need a lot of therapy. You are not him." Her arm tightens around him, a bit of a hug. "You'll be okay, too. I believe that." She believes in Richard Cardinal. This one.

"That's one of us, at least," Richard admits quietly, his other hand coming up to rub against his face, "That's one of us." There's a silent beat, and then he slants a look sideways to her, asking quietly, "How's— how's Peyton doing?"

"I can do enough believing for both of us," Monica says, a more familiar tone coming back to her voice. Playful, even. But it's shortlived. she glances back at the cabin at his question, then looks over at him. "Bad. I had to practically force her to sleep. She's… I mean she cared about him, yeah? And when things went off the rails — well. She feels guilty. She looks at everybody like they're about to kick her out."

"She cared for who she thought he was…" A sigh, Cardinal's head shaking, "I failed her. I didn't pay enough attention, and she fell right into that psychopath's arms… I mean, it's better than what happened to her the last time, in his timeline, but…." He grimaces, "It's not on her head, it's on mine."

"Yeah. I don't know what he said to her, but it was all the right things." Obviously. Monica shakes her head, but it's a sympathetic gesture, not a damning one. "She's, uh. In a bad place. She needs support. Hollis said we could stay. I don't know if she wants to stay, but I think I'll stay with her until she's done her own adjusting. But that's not your fault, either. We were all falling apart then." Maybe still are, but she leaves that thought off.

"I don't think it'd be a good idea for me to try and offer her support, all things considered…" Cardinal's chin dips in a slight nod, "So— you take care of her, okay, Monica? I've got to get back, make sure everyone else is okay. Check on the kids."

Monica looks over at him, studying his face for a long moment. "I understand. Your family's there. The rest of Endgame is gonna need you. But I think you should talk to her before you go." There's a face there, like she knows he's not going to like that idea, but she's putting it out there anyway. "I'll be here for her, of course I will. But you guys need to have a heart-to-heart."

Cardinal scratches two fingers against his cheek, giving her an uncertain look. "I'm pretty sure it'd do more harm than good, Moni," he says quietly, "I don't— I don't really think she'd want to talk to me. Honestly, I'm probably the last person she wants to talk to right now."

"Unless you're itching to say something mean to her, I don't think it'll do any harm," Monica says. "She needs to know you don't hate her for what happened. And you need to know she doesn't blame you." Her hand drops behind her, to prop her up as she leans back. "I can be there if that'd make it easier."

"I don't hate her. And I blame me," Cardinal replies with a tight shake of his head, lips pursing in a tight line as he looks back off into the woods… and then breathes out a heavy sigh, shoulders sinking, "Yeah. Sure, yeah, that'd be helpful. I could use the— fuck, the moral support, I guess."

"I know you don't, but you know." Monica gives him a crooked smile at his sigh and she sits up so she can reach over and give his shoulder a squeeze. "I'm great at moral support. It's my best thing." And then she stands. Because now that he's agreed, she's going to see to the follow through. Before he changes his mind. "She was in the room under the stairs when I left," she says, like she suspects she might still be there.

"Your best thing is usually anything to do with muscle memory, Monica, I don't think moral support counts," Richard Cardinal observes in dry tones, pushing himself up to his feet with a grunt — straightening slowly, grimacing as some of his many aches and pains remind him that they're there. Then he's turning to step back over the porch towards the door, his head shaking ever so slightly as he shakes a bit of snow off the fur-lined jacket he's wearing.

"Shhh," Monica says to his first words. Although, they are true. She leads the way back into the cabin, pushing the door open to let the cold air in. But not for long. She kicks off her shoes just inside the door, because they're a mess. A snowy mess. The jacket stays for the moment. Crossing the room, she comes to knock on the little door where she last left Peyton.

Peyton only agreed to sleep in the little room to keep out of the way of the others — people she didn't feel would want to see her amongst them while they dealt with their pains and losses. She hadn't even meant to stay as long as she did, but sleep had come for her at last. She's sleeping on top of the twin bed when the knock wakes her, and for a moment, she wakes, again disoriented and confused as to her whereabouts.

"Just a sec," she murmurs, her voice cracking a little from want of use and dehydration. She sits up, wiping a hand over her face and eyes — luckily there's no mirror to tell her she looks like a ghost, her skin too pale and the shadows under her eyes too dark. She reaches for the doorknob to speak to whoever's on the other side.

It's not like they haven't seen each other — the helicopter, the cars, the cabin weren't large enough for that — but not a single word has passed between Cardinal and the woman in the room since they set eyes upon each other in the command room. It's awkward, okay? He's still shrouded in that heavy winterized coat, the fur-trimmed hood pushed back, as he stands outside a little behind Monica, hands tucked into the pockets of the heavy jacket and gaze roaming the rest of the room.

Maybe some soldiers will try and kill them, that would be less stressful. Right about… now! No? Damn.

"Hey, Peyton. Just us. I was gonna make some lunch. Some coffee. Come join us?" Monica nods toward the kitchen. And toward Cardinal. There's a gentle smile on her face, echoed in her voice. "It's quiet out here for now. Thought we should take advantage." Because there are a lot of people in this cabin right now. It's a rare opportunity.


Peyton's eyes widen a little when she sees Cardinal over Monica's shoulder and her gaze drops immediately, a hand coming up to her face to rub her eyes. She shakes her head, almost imperceptibly. A traitorous tear slides down her cheek, and her hand moves to brush it away, but another one takes its place.

"I'm not hungry," comes first, followed by "thank you," and then a quick "sorry." The last is accompanied by a quick dart of dark eyes in Cardinal's direction, before she gets up to maybe close the door again, hiding mostly behind it.

The door opens, and there she is. Cardinal draws in a slow breath, turns to look past Monica to her… and no, there she goes, trying to hide back in the room again. Really he can't blame her, so he just stands there awkwardly in the middle of the room, letting the one-armed gymnast handle this particular issue.

Monica looks between the two of them, eyeing them a bit before she settles on Peyton. "Then just come and keep us company." She doesn't stop the door, but seems to be hoping her words will be convincing enough. "We've been out in the snow and it was terrible." Just terrible, Peyton. "And if you get hungry, there'll be food."

Her brows draw together, and Peyton sighs, giving Monica an incredulous look. There's another swipe of her hands over her cheeks to rid them of newly fallen tears, and she sighs. "You don't have to do this," she says, past her friend, to Cardinal. "I don't expect you to forgive me or want to see me around, so it's better if I just… don't, right?"

She bends down to pick up the boots she's left by the side of the bed, reaching to tug the bedding taut where her lying on it has put wrinkles on it. She's apparently exiting the room, but maybe just so she's not tapped under a cupboard beneath the stairs. "Excuse me," she murmurs, opening the door wider so she can dart past them. She's still pretty spry for a pregnant lady.

As she comes out, Cardinal's lips part as if to say something… and then she's darting past, and his shoulders sink, head dropping forward and swaying from side to side in resignation. He doesn't pursue her, instead turning to head further into the building at a slow walk, hands tucked into the pockets of that heavy jacket he's wearing.

One darts, the other walks, but both of them are running away as far as Monica is concerned. She watches them both for a moment, an incredulous look on her face. "Hang on," she says to the both of them. "You get back here," she says with a finger point in Cardinal's direction, "before you make a woman who just lost an arm drag you back here." That's right, she's playing the arm card, Card. But she turns toward Peyton next. "Come on, Pey. We're gonna sit down and chat. It's gonna be good. No one is holding anything against you." Her hand moves to her hip as she looks between them, waiting for them to hop to and sit down.

Peyton was trying to get her boots on to go outside before Monica's voice stays her progress at the front door. She shakes her head slightly at the words. She turns back and looks at Monica, then the table, but doesn't quite look to Cardinal. Finally, her feet move, as she slowly goes to the table, setting one hand on one of the chairs, but she doesn't pull it out just yet. She gives Monica another 'et tu, brute?' sort of look, and it's a moment before she actually speaks.

"Why not?" she asks, her tone flat. "You should."

Cardinal turns his head just enough to shoot Monica a I can't believe you just used the arm card look past the edge of his hood and his shoulder, but he does stop his retreat from the situation. He does have a card that could trump hers, but he's not going to play that one. Then there's a heavy sigh, his head shaking as he steps slowly over to the table. "I seem to recall telling you over the phone whose fault this situation was," he says, dragging out a chair and falling into it, leaning back in a careless sprawl as he finally looks directly at Peyton, "And it wasn't you."

Monica is given all sorts of looks, but seems take them pretty well. She stays put and lifts an eyebrow until they start moving. Then she follows after and pulls out a chair for herself. But, instead of sitting, she moves to put on some coffee. "I don't see why we should," she says, looking over at the pair of them. "I don't see why anyone in this room is to blame."

"Don't," whispers Peyton when Cardinal references the phone call where he blamed himself. It feels so long ago. "You didn't say that about this. Whatever you thought you did then, it wasn't… you didn't deserve…they didn't deserve…" She can't bring herself to finish any of those thoughts, and her breath starts to come in hitches. She still hasn't sat down, and her hands grip the chair like it's the only thing keeping her in place.

She swallows, looking away again. "I should have believed what you told me but I got turned around," she says in a smaller voice. "I'm sorry and I know it's not enough and it won't ever be enough." The tears start anew, sliding down her face silently. "I don't blame you if you hate me." Her eyes move to Monica. "Either of you."

Cardinal brings one hand up, thumb and forefinger rubbing at the bridge of his nose for a moment as eyes squeeze shut. No sunglasses. It feels weird, even now. Then he takes a deep breath, and leans forward, both arms resting on the table as he fixes her with a steady gaze. "Peyton Whitney," he states then in flat, serious tones.

"With all due respect, shut the fuck up about things being your fault, and about anyone hating you, because you're sounding more childish than— " He was about to say 'Magnes', and he skips a beat, "— than an actual child. The only person who thinks anything against you right now is you."

When Cardinal starts, Monica opens her mouth like she might stop him, but it's too late. It's out there.

Her mouth closes.

She glances over to Peyton, to Cardinal, back to Peyton. "If you're looking for someone to condemn you, you're not going to find it here. You made a choice that didn't play out the way you thought. Which one of us hasn't done that? All you're gonna get is support." Maybe of the tough love variety from some people, but still.

Peyton's eyes widen a little when Cardinal tells her to shut up, and she looks like she might be prepared to argue with him, to fight, to yell and cry instead of this terrible, awkward quiet they're stuck in. But there's still no blame. Still no judgment, which she seems to seek, as Monica points out.

She sighs and finally sits down on the chair she's been holding on to, her fingers reluctantly leaving the frame to do so. "It'd be easier if you did," she says quietly, glancing at Monica, then back to Cardinal. "I can see now that I wasn't important in the grand scheme of things — I probably didn't change anything at all, being there." There's a swallow, at that — it's a hard reality she's now keenly aware of, painfully so. "I thought maybe I could, for the better. But I don't think I changed it for the worse, at least. I hope not." Her voice has reached an actual speaking volume now, if tired and weary, rather than the faint whisper or murmur she's used for most of the past day.

"You don't know if you did, and you can never know. That's one of the serious bitches about the whole business. You might've prevented a lot of shit and you just won't know it, because — well, you're not Tamara, or Edward," Richard replies, his voice tired now, "So let's just assume, for the sake of everyone sleeping better, that you did. So there's that. There's only so much you could've done, though, I — he — had fucking lost it. He was just— he was just gone, Peyton."

His gaze drops down to the table, "I tried to talk to him, at the end. Figured I could talk some sense into him. He was me, after all. But he was just… he broke, somewhere. Snapped."

Monica comes over to the table, setting down one mug of coffee at a time before she takes a seat for herself. Her hand wraps around her cup and she looks over at Peyton. "He yelled at me like that just outside. You're handling it a lot better. I cried." She looks over at Cardinal, her smile crooked. She's teasing, which is an improvement on earlier.

"That's a good point. We don't know how much worse it would have been without you there. But I think we can safely assume it would have been worse. We stopped it, in the end, after all."

Peyton huffs a small laugh at Monica's words, reaching to squeeze her hand lightly. "I'm crying already so it doesn't count," she whispers, a tiny hint of her sense of humor, but her eyes slide back to Cardinal's face. She caught that pronoun shift. "He wasn't really you, Card," she says, firmly, an echo of the tone he'd just used with her. "I lied to myself for months thinking that he was, in a way. But he wasn't. He was warped by so many things that won't happen to you now, okay?"

Another tear slides down her cheek. "Even he believed he could be better than he was. I thought I could help. And we were both wrong. But it wasn't you." She reaches, a little tentatively, to touch his hand.

"I just… wish I knew why he was like that. When we diverged… hell, Edward didn't even leave the same messages for him," Cardinal gives his head a little shake, looking back up as Peyton's fingers brush over his hand - his other reaching over it to cover hers. A faint smile, not quite genuine, as he says quietly, "I know. But he was, at the same time, and nobody's ever going to forget that. Least of all me."

Monica smiles warmly over at Peyton and there's a chuckle for her words. "We'll call it a draw." Her head tilts as she listens to them talk, mind wrapping around all this metaphysical whatnot. "You tried to help, Pey. That matters."

Her attention moves to Cardinal, too, and she taps a finger against herr coffee. "Well, if his message was different, then things split a while back, yeah? This is one of those things where it could have been anything, right? Not just a major event, but walking down a different street or eating sandwiches instead of pizza."

Peyton shakes her head at Monica's words. "You can forgive me, but don't make it sound like I did anything good, Monica," she murmurs. "I didn't do it for the right reasons. I was acting like," and her eyes slide back up to Cardinal's, "a child. Feeling sorry for myself and unimportant. And he said the right things to make me believe him."

She looks down at Cardinal's hand on top of hers, and squeezes his below hers in kind. "A lot's changed from what happened to him," she says quietly. "Your path now is maybe even harder than what broke him." She swallows, and tears swim in her eyes yet again. "I guess we can just both try to be good and hope maybe people will see that."

"Oh, Peyton…" Cardinal's lips tug up in a more genuine little half-grin, a brow lifting and his head cocking a little to one side, "…when the hell have I tried to be good. I try to do what's right. I think we both know that that's almost never the same." The expression fades, then, his fingers squeezing against hers as he breathes out a sigh, "And no. His was harder. This… I knew this could happen. Knew it was likely, even."

His gaze drops down to where hands overlap, and he says quietly, "She died on November Eighth. She always died on November Eighth."

"I try to be good," Monica points out, her smile turning crooked. Because it's a joke. But mirth is shortlived because the conversation turns more sober. She looks down at her coffee, letting out a gentle sigh.

"She was brave," she says, to her coffee mostly. But then she looks up at the others again. "I wish that made it feel better." But it doesn't. "I don't know why I assumed we'd all always walk away fine from these things."

Cardinal's true smile comes, and Peyton presses her lips together, though it's obvious it's to keep from sobbing. But when Elisabeth comes up, the sob comes anyway, her shoulders shaking a little before she swallows, hard. "I didn't realize the date," she whispers. Stunned.

Monica's joke makes her smile, though it's a wry thing, but she grows sober as well when the words turn more mournful. "She was brave," she agrees, her voice smaller. Pained. "I wish her last memory of me was one I could be proud of, but," she wipes her face with her free hand, before finding Monica's to squeeze. Her words trail off, and she shakes her head. "Try to do right," she murmurs, to correct her words of a moment before. A mantra to live by.

"We never do. I could tell you all the names, everyone we've lost, but…" A slow breath's drawn in, Cardinal's gaze lifting then to regard them, no tears there, just a bone-weariness that cuts to the very soul, "…we never walk away fine. I'm sorry, Monica, Peyton, I…" He draws his hand away finally, slumping back in the chair and leaning his head back, watching the ceiling in silence, "It was always going to be November Eighth anyway. She knew it. I knew it."

Monica squeezes Peyton's hand, passing reassurance back to her. "She had a lot of memories of you to be proud of, Peyton." She looks between them, a frown coming to her features. "That's how we honor them. By trying to do what's right. By making sure we're not hurting people to get what we want. Right?" At the apology, she shakes her head a little. "I'm sorry, Richard. I wish we could have saved her." Her own guilt is still there, even if she doesn't voice it this time.

Peyton shakes her head at Monica's words about things to be proud of, but doesn't argue. At least not aloud. "I thought I was going to die last year on that day," she says quietly. "I thought I saw it, you know. The visions. But it didn't happen. Why is it always the eighth?" Not just for Elisabeth. Her parents. Midtown New York. "We need to find someone with a power to skip the entire world over that day with no repercussions. That would be useful." There are always repercussions.

More somberly, softer she murmurs, "I'm sorry, too." It's a different sorry this time — one of condolence, sympathy, mourning, more than an apology. But the apology will always be there, in undertone.

"It's like there's a… wound in history on that day," Cardinal says quietly to the ceiling over their heads, "It's like the inertia effect is trying to force something through, and it's determined to keep trying until it does."

"Heh. Let's be honest, Monica, we're hurting people every day," he says cynically, his head dropping back forward to focus on her, "We just hope we're hurting the right people. The bad guys. Whatever those are."

No more discussion of Elisabeth, it seems, at least not from him.

"So every year, we're gonna have to stop some kinda something that day? Ugh, remind me why I got into this business again." Monica sighs, but it's mostly for dramatic effect. But her demeanor shifts down and she takes her hand back to touch her arm. It's just a moment, and she does what she can to cover it by picking up her coffee for a drink. Her own future uncertain, probably for the first time she can remember, she pushes it to the side to look back at the other two. "Okay, so we can hurt some people. The bad ones." Whoever they are. "I guess I'd be sad if I never got to ninja kick someone ever again." Her smile returns there, as she tries to get a smile out of them.

The very thought of next year makes Peyton look downward into her untouched coffee. She's not trying to skip caffeine, she literally forgot she had the cup there in front of her. "With things like they are," she says quietly, "I don't think I'm going to go back to New York. Or even the States. I don't want to go to somewhere like Eltingville. Not with a kid." She touches the small swell of her abdomen, one thing no one's really spoken about, aside from the implications from people treating her like she's one of the injured, the fragile. "I'm not sure where to go."

"I don't blame you. You could stay here in Canada, or…" Cardinal's fingers brush up from the table, then drop down to rest on the table again, "…go anywhere. France. England. I hear Germany's nice. The world is your oyster." A faint, sad smile curves to his lips, his gaze on her face, "I have enough contacts left to get you out of here if I need to."

"Hollis said we could stay here. I also heard that the Ferry moved the kids from the lighthouse up over the boarder. Might not be a bad place. Always would have a babysitter." Monica has, maybe, been thinking about this very thing. "I'm not going back to the city, either. Not right now." Her arm, her attempts at adjustment, they aren't mentioned, although the reason might be easy to figure. "So, you know. If you want the company, Pey, I'd be happy to tag along." Wherever she ends up, maybe.

Peyton's brows draw together and she looks overwhelmed and like she might cry again. Also like she might argue. But eventually she takes a breath and nods. "Thank you. I'll think about it." She has repeated a few times she's 'not Ferry,' but the Ferry keeps offering to take care of her. She reaches to squeeze Monica's hand again. "I'll make you watch all the parenting videos so you can know how to do everything and teach me." Her voice quivers just a little — parenthood at 23 is probably not something she planned. Especially without a partner.

Cardinal's gaze cuts to Monica, his lips parting slightly… then coming together, and his chin dips in one slight nod, then a second more decisive one. "Okay. Good, at least for awhile you'll have each other here, then, or.. wherever you go." His hands slide to the table's surface, and he pushes himself up to his feet, offering the pair a faint smile, "I'll keep in touch best I can. Make sure everything— everything's okay with you three."

Monica laughs at Peyton's latter words and she returns the squeeze again. "I can do that. I'll be able to change a diaper like nobody's business." She knows that this sort of responsibility is a little lighter with help. It's how her family survived after her mom died. Plus, there's no way she could leave her to handle it all alone.

She flicks her gaze over to Cardinal, lips turning down a little. "Yeah, we'll keep in touch from this side, too. I'll keep them safe." Peyton and co. are getting a sort of personal bodyguard, in a way. Self-Appointed.

When Cardinal gets up, Peyton looks up, a small, thankful smile on her lips. "I'd say I'd look in on you like we used to do, but you might not want that," she says quietly. "I don't have a phone or anything, but once I get something set up, I will try." She tips her head. "Do you know where you're going? Back to the library, or…?" she trails off. "You don't have to say," she adds.

Monica's offer to keep 'them' safe makes her squeeze Monica's hand again. A wordless thanks.

"I've…" Cardinal draws in a slow breath, then forces a smile as he looks back to the pair at the table, "…I've got family to look in on. To make sure that they're okay. After that, I…"

The Red King's always been the one with the plan. He's always had some scheme in the works, or some improvisation to pull out of his ass. Now, though? For a moment he looks entirely lost for a course of action.

A shrug, and he turns from the table, "Well. I guess I'll figure out something."

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