Three Chapters From The End


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Scene Title Three Chapters From the End
Synopsis Locks of hair and giving the Universe room to mess with you… might not be a grand idea.
Date November 4, 2011

Somewhere on a Road Trip

It’s somewhere in the middle of nowhere British Columbia, the group stops for gas in a small town called Gitanyaw. It’s almost too small to appear on any maps, with a gas station, a restaurant (helpfully called RESTAURANT) in giant faded letters, a post office, and a single stoplight blinking at a cross street. It’s about as far as you can get from anywhere while still being somewhere, and that’s where gas is being got.

Jaiden slouches next to the van that they picked up from somewhere, pumping in the fuel that will take them the rest of the way there. He’s bundled up tight since it’s so cold here, hands pushed deep into pockets while he watches the counter tick upwards, past fifty canadian to fill up. The money’s not a problem, but the mechanic part of him wonders, for a moment, if there’s a way to get better gas mileage with a full load. It’s one of those questions that he asks himself to pass the time and, more importantly, to keep his mind off of what might be coming soon.

As she comes back out of the oh-so-helpfully named food stop, Elisabeth is carrying a cardboard tray of coffees and a bag with food for the road. It’s a desolate stop, this one… but much of this part of Canada seems pretty desolate to her. Aside from a stint to Russia and Antarctica, she’s pretty much a city girl. Putting the things she’s carrying into the vehicle, she comes around the back end of it and offers, “I can finish up, if you need to make the restroom run as well.” Because none of them really stop for much on this crazy roadtrip.

“Yeah, thanks.” Jaiden replies, leaning over to give Elisabeth a kiss on the cheek and a squeeze around the waist before heading off to the restaurant and restroom, returning about five minutes later carrying an envelope from the post office. “Had an idea, if you’ll indulge me, Lizzie.”

By the time he comes back, she’s finished with the gas dispensing and has climbed back in the vehicle. It’s hellaciously warmer inside than out. When he climbs in, Elisabeth looks curious. “Okay… what are you thinking?” She looks curiously at the envelope. “What’s that?”

“Just an envelope.” A first class one, filled out with an address that Elisabeth more than likely does not recognize — one of Jaiden’s safehouses, more than likely. “And….” he trails off, thoughtful. He opens the envelope and pulls out a small ziplock bag. “Can I have a lock of your hair, Lizzie?” The hair he’s combed. Braided. Brushed. Washed a hundred times or more. The hair that he’s woken up to in his mouth, or with his nose buried in it, the scent of her permeating it.

“I know this seems ghoulish but… bear with me. When we get up to Alaska…. if one of us doesn’t come back, god forbid…. there needs to be something to bury. Some kind of closure.”

The request might seem strange…. But perhaps not as strange as he might think. Elisabeth’s blue eyes soften at the request, and she pulls the boot knife that she has strapped to her leg. Reaching behind her to pull a long lock of hair from the back, she slices off a blonde length and a purple one. Then she holds them out to him. “I remember wishing… when Richard blew up in Antarctica… that I had something to bury,” she explains quietly. “All I could do was put a headstone for him next to my mother.” She wouldn’t wish that agony on anyone, so to leave him with what he asks for? Yeah… that she can do.

Sliding the knife back into its sheath, she sits looking out the car window for a long moment. “Is there anything you’d like me to do if you don’t…. Come back from this?” she asks him in a soft tone, unable to look at him when she asks. Although she herself made some preparations back home before they left, this is not something she usually talks about before an operation. A little superstitious, these bands of freedom fighters can be.

Those two locks are taken, twisted into a small braid and tied with a length of ribbon he got from somewhere before they’re sealed in the ziplock bag with a note on the outside. Elisabeth Harrison, British Columbia, Canada and the date. A methodical motion as he does so, almost reverent. Worshipful. The man lifting it to his nose to smell the combined sweat and skin and shampoo all mixed into the perfume that is Elisabeth before he puts it into the envelope.

“If I don’t make it back.” Jaiden says softly, confronted with his mortality for the nth time in his life. “I’ve got a small box in the brickfront. Call this number and someone’ll get it. You’ll find my little teddy bear and a few pictures. Bury Teddy wherever you like. Keep the pictures for you. With the money in the box? Have a party. Invite everyone to come.” He reaches over to clasp Elisabeth’s hand. “Tell stories. Eat food. Drink an entire bar. Remember the good times.” he squeezes gently. “Remember me. Remember us all.”

She wraps her fingers tightly around his and looks at him with a small smile. “We’ve both done this dance before,” Elisabeth observes softly. “I left you something in your room at the safehouse. Whether I get back or not, I wanted you to have it. I kept meaning to do it for you anyway,” she admits.

Searching his face, she is quiet while she struggles with the words she needs to say. “I need you to promise if you go home and I don’t…. That you’ll take care of them. Devon, Harm and the kids, Felix… Richard.” It’s difficult to ask. “I’m asking the hardest thing I could ask of you, I know that… because if something happens, you’re gonna be pissed. And you’re probably going to want to kick Richard’s ass. But I need to know both of you will be okay, and I don’t trust anyone but you guys to watch each other’s backs.”

“I will.” Jaiden says softly. “I promise.”

He almost never promises. It’s a rare thing. Those two words mean that it’ll happen no matter what. “I’ll take care of them. I’ll tell them all about what happened, how it went down. I’ll keep your memory alive. And the same goes for you, Liz. If I don’t make it back, you’re the queen of the castle. You need to keep an eye on everyone for me. And you need to know that I’m okay with you and Cardinal. You’ll need him more than anything if I don’t come back.” He leans across the seats to pull Elisabeth into a tight hug, watching the rest of the people come back to the van in the cold. “I love you so goddamn much, Lizzie, it hurts to even imagine being without you.”

He holds that hug for the longest time, the people outside noticing and waiting out of respect. “You know how I plan almost as much as Cardinal….” he trails off, leaning back into the seat, staring out of the foggy windshield, then back to her. “Do what you need to do. Keep people alive. Think slowly. Don’t make mistakes. Roll with the punches.” He smiles and reaches to clasp Elisabeth’s hand, squeezing it tight. “Be a hero.”

Wrapping her arms tightly around him, she turns her face into his neck to breathe in the unique scent that is him. She kisses his neck and just holds him tightly. “You’re supposed to say don’t be a hero. Heroes get dead,” she murmurs back on a chuckle that might just be a little bit watery. When she finally leans back out of the hug, wiping beneath her eyes a bit, she offers him a smile. “I love you too. And thank you… for being you. For understanding that no matter how much I love you or Felix… he’s a part of all this and always will be for me.”

She’s a little embarrassed that everyone else is waiting out in the cold and clears her throat. “Well, now… I think we’d best get moving before some of them turn into popsicles out there, hmm?”

“Do what you think is right, Lizzie. I’ll support whatever insane thing you end up doing.” He chuckles, looking to the gathered people peering through windows. “Haven’t you ever seen a guy and a girl kiss before?” He snickers, hitting the power locks to let the others in, hopping out to drop the envelope in the mailbox and running back, sliding into the driver’s seat with everyone loaded.

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