Time In A Bottle


bf_cassandra_icon.gif elisabeth_icon4.gif

Scene Title Time In a Bottle
Synopsis I'd save every day 'til eternity passes away…
Date December 24, 2018

The Ark

Powerless to stop the nightmares or to really even soothe her baby, Elisabeth hasn't slept any more than Cassandra has. Curled up on the bed, leaned upright against the headboard where she can settle Aura straddling her lap and under her chin. Only there does the little girl get any rest at all, with her ear against her mother's heartbeat the way she slept as an infant during teething times and illness.

She dozes off periodically, but every time Liz opens her eyes the weary blue orbs seek out Cassandra's form where the younger woman has perched herself against the wall. Glancing down to see that Aurora is at least sleeping for now, the audiokinetic murmurs into the quiet, "How you holding up?"

Ever since stepping off the sub, life has been transformed into a nightmare. At least in the wasteland she could run away, either into her dreams, her visions, or physically, but here, trapped in the ark a hundred feet below the surface, Cassandra feels almost like she did in the months leading up to the leap of faith that led her to this very moment. Even there, she could go outside, or see the sun, but now…darkness and cold is her world. She sleeps in fits and starts, trying to stay awake as long as she can, her body finally forcing her to unconsciousness, only to wake fifteen minutes later.

“Well…better than I could be.” Her gaze moves over the woman on the bed. Her voice is barely above a whisper. Aurora needs the escape that sleep provides, and she's not going to be the one to wake her.

The nightmares that inevitably will come will see to that.

“How about you?”

"I wish it were the first time I'd seen a massacre," Elisabeth murmurs back in a low voice. Aurora is so tired right now that nothing short of her own nightmares will wake her. "You should get some sleep. I've got the watch." It's not like she'll sleep at all anyway. She looks haunted now, in much the same ways that she did when Cassandra first met her. There's a kind of horrible knowledge that the five years in Bright, with a life that wasn't this, eased almost into non-existence, although Cassandra knows just from her years of friendship with both Liz and Ygraine there that the nightmares never quite left Elisabeth. Whatever they were back then, even after years, she would occasionally still wake and then spend the rest of the night watching a candle burn until the sun finally rose and took away the darkness of night. Wasteland brought back… an edge to Elisabeth that she never spoke of but was brutally obvious — she'd lived war before. Here? This is bringing back… something deeper. Darker. A fear, perhaps.

“I can't sleep. If I do, I see…them…” Cassandra swallows, shifting in the nest of blankets she's made for herself. Say what you will, there is plenty down here of certain things and, with the lack of adequate climate control, staying warm is a necessary goal for all the residents. “And it's not the first one I saw, either. This one was more controlled - the one in New York, before now…that was an execution, just like that was at dinner, but less of a surprise.”

“What do we do, Liz? Rory and the kids can't stay here.” Cassandra finally asks, her voice cracking. She isn't thinking of herself, not talking about we. The kids are what matter most right now.

Elisabeth is quiet for a very long time. Maybe even long enough for Cassandra to wonder if she dozed off. She didn't. She just… doesn't know what to say. Finally, when the words come, they are not comforting at all.

"The only thing we can do: Stay the course. The Ark was a one-way trip." Her tone holds a level of ice in it. "We'd hoped to find Michelle Cardinal. She created the Looking Glass machine, in all timelines. The roadmap we have said that we needed her… that her execution would be a disaster for us." Swallowing hard, Elisabeth admits, "I … do not know if Don is telling the truth. I honestly don't. But if he is… we are so far beyond fucked right now, Cass."

Her voice is a little hoarse, as if she's struggling with tears. "Maybe, just maybe, we can still figure things out. But … it wouldn't surprise me to find out that Don's little display of power there is his way of … trying to make sure we do that in exactly the way he wants." She rolls her head on the headboard to look toward Cassandra. "And to save these kids? I'll do whatever is necessary."

There is a coldness to that response that Cassandra has only really ever heard in Elisabeth's tone a couple of times. In the Wasteland that tone came when it was time to fight, to potentially kill in a war. In this case, it's perhaps even more chilling. She seems to be choosing her words carefully, implying that she'll do whatever Don asks… but Cassandra knows her better than that. The underlying message is not quite that.

It was a big question to ask, and Cassandra wasn't expecting an instant answer. It was the question asked by an eternal optimist who didn't want to ask. An optimist who kept people going even on top of the roof in the middle of a storm while a nuclear bomb went off only a few miles away. One who survived a massacre of her own, who escaped to a world not her own to save her own life. This? This is extremely disenhearting.

“I researched her. Back home. For my company.” Cassandra pushes herself to her feet, wobbling unsteadily, then walks to join Elisabeth on the bed, slipping beneath the blankets without disturbing Aurora in the slightest. “It's how I got to the last place we were.”

“If…”. Cassandra flips open her pad, scribbling something. “If we can find a way, we’ll find a way. I can't just give up, and I know you can't, either.”

She shows Elisabeth a note, written in pencil. “If we can get neg 2 not wrk, i cn look bk/find a way out.” No sense in saying it out loud. Maybe they don't know what she can do.

This is a topic Elisabeth has never been able to ask about… "What did you learn?" she asks curiously. Aurora's grandmother is an enigma to Liz, but she'd hoped to have at least some stories. She scoots sideways to allow the younger woman room to curl up on the bed next to her — plenty of pillows and blankets to go around, after all. And there's a comfort to having her there, too.

Slanting her blue eyes at the note, Elisabeth merely nods slightly. Leaning down to ostensibly kiss the younger woman's temple, she whispers far under her breath, "Trask was my son's father. In another place and time. I'm going to see what I can find out with him."

When she sits back up, there's simply a heavy sigh. "I understand she was … probably the smartest person on the planet. A shame that he executed her. Damn asshole."

“Mmm.” Cassandra makes a soft sound to Elisabeth’s whisper, speaking aloud on the subject broached earlier. “I wasn't able to see much of her non-work stuff. Little bits that weren't applicable to what we were working on back there were catalogued and stored, in case we needed to go back and look for a tangent to follow.” Cassandra’s pencil scratches again, her voice coming easily now. “The company did a great deal to erase every trace they could to a point. After she was killed in that car accident, there wasn't anything after, but before?” Cassandra smile. “I think you and she would have gotten along really well.”

Cassandra settles against Elisabeth and Aurora, a hand resting on the little girl's back, feeling her breathing in and out - a tangible way to check that she's still there. “She had so many ideas, and was so interested in everything. The stuff she worked on, I heard a few guys on staff saying that the theories she was putting out were on the level of Einstein. She was even working on a theory of everything before she died…”. Cassandra sighs. “I'm sure that's not what you mean, though. Let me think…”

The notepad is shown to Liz again, the neat writing barely visible. “Working on Maps/guard sched/door codes.”

“She was in love. Very much so.” Cassandra settles in to begin her tale. “One of the objects I had was a little silver….teacup thingy.” She uses her hands to indicate size - about yea big. “Just a chunk of it, but it was so full of stories that it took me weeks to just catalog them all. The strongest one was when she first got the idea for something not relating to anything - a silly thing, like a flying car or something. She spoke with such zeal, relishing what it could mean and how she would do it, and in the next moment she was making cookies with her boyfriend.. She was…so special, but so down-to-earth too. The whole process of thinking was like breathing to her.”

Elisabeth shifts on the bed, her movement a vaguely rocking one for Aurora's sleeping form, as she listens. Her expression softens, the information about Michelle striking a chord in the blonde. She doesn't explain why, but … Michelle Cardinal, and the information that Cassandra is offering, means something to her. Something more than just information on a woman that she's never met. She doesn't offer explanation, she simply nods slightly and kisses Aurora's forehead.

"A teacup, huh? Sounds like maybe something she was given as a child — silver teacups are usually baby gifts or something," she points out softly. It brings a pang, and she murmurs, "I wonder if she … well, if he was her boyfriend, I guess it must have been before she married him. I met David Cardinal when we passed through the first world," she explains softly. "And a version of his son. He never knew what happened to her in that car accident. Never even knew he had a son until the boy was an adult. Which… seems like a different situation altogether than was here."

“Those simple times always resonated most with me. I could put myself into place in the memory really easily - imagining myself with them, enjoying that time, in that place.” Cassandra smiles a little to herself. “I've seen so much of her memories, it's hard to differentiate between hers and mine sometimes, you know?” Her hand lifts to her neck, gently rubbing the World War 1 dog tag hanging there between thumb and forefinger - her constant companion for this entire crazy journey.

"I'm not sure that I envy you that," Elisabeth admits quietly. Resting her cheek on Aurora's sleep-warm head, she says softly, "With all that's happened… she hasn't realized that it's Christmas." The tree that Cassandra had managed to finagle in the world above just a couple of weeks ago seems so far in the past now. "Don't remind her, okay? She'll… she'll want to see Felix and Lee." Elisabeth closes her eyes, fighting back exhausted tears. "I couldn't stand to see them right now even if she could see them." She chokes. Of all the people in Elisabeth and Aurora's world, Felix Ivanov was… something far more than just Elisabeth's friend or a former lover — she was the closest thing Aurora had to a father, often filling that role. And if Cassandra ever wondered whether there was more there, despite the fact that Felix and Lee were married, she would be forgiven the thought, for certain.

“Makes daydreams easy to slip into.” The brunette glances over to Liz, then down to Aurora, then Cassandra’s head moves slightly in assent. She leans into Liz, giving her a tight, tight hug. “When we get to your home, I'll make sure Papa Noel brings a feast and all the toys that this little gal can carry. That's a promise.” She doesn't know how but trusts, somehow, that things will work out. Despite everything that's happened. God help her if that hope is dimmed in the slightest..

“Christmas is a time for miracles.” God, even here she's finding a little optimism. “Michelle might be gone, or she might not be. We’ll find a way. Don might have just done something to put her on ice, too. She's just too valuable to just up and execute - I mean they dedicated billions at home studying her past.” Cassandra is apparently thinking Star Trek cryofreeze or something - a real-life sleeping beauty. Down there in the second or third ring, just…asleep. This whole journey has been weird, so what's a little more? Finding Michelle In another timeline, or just downstairs working in the sealed off ring…stranger things have happened.

“Don, though. He's like Kravid was at the end.” Although Erika Kravid didn't kill people at dinner with automatic gunfire, Cassandra still had a front row seat to the insanity in Colorado. “I wonder if looking glass just has the magical ability to cause fucked up things to happen to people's brains. Stare too long into the abyss and all. Heck, I even thought I saw gold eyes when I went through the first time.”

Elisabeth frowns slightly, ceasing her rocking movement to peer at Cassandra closely. "You mean… when the portal between dimensions was opening?" Her breath hisses out in a near-silent release, uneasiness furrowing her brows together. "In the first world… Kain's world. When we opened the portal to make it to your world — or rather, on our first try to open that portal… something weird happened. Like… voices. It was utterly bizarre and it was very unnerving." She never says scary. Or terrifying. Or any of those emotions, though she must feel them. 'Unnerving' is probably the worst descriptor she's ever used in relation to any of this kind of stuff — even when it came to being worried about Arthur, she never used something as strong as 'unnerving.'

"It's… entirely possible that whatever the hell that was… it could maybe… impact people? I mean… we know nothing about what's in that portal. Or in the void between worlds. Magnes is convinced there's something there. Eve… said that it's … the first of us or something?" She doesn't even know.

Cassandra goes quiet for a moment when she's asked that question, nodding. “Right before I ran into the destabilizing portal, in the second before leaping through a film of mercury surrounded by electricity, my reflection’s eyes turned gold.” Long enough for her notice, at least. “While I was falling, it was like everything was superimposed over itself. I saw infinity before blacking out.” That last part is added with a sheepish movement of her head.

“It might be like a switching yard. The portals that are opened show what’s on the other end but when we move through, for a moment or two, we move through the places in between. God….”. She actually shivers at the thought. “What if someone or something got trapped between? Who knows how long they could have been there when Looking Glass started poking holes in timelines?” She goes quiet, imagining. Trapped in darkness, willing to do anything to escape. And then a momentary spark of light, promising a chance at freedom.

“Magnes may be right. It would explain a lot of things.”

"Because that's not a terrifying thought or anything," Elisabeth retorts drily. "You know… I can't decide if this is something we have the luxury of worrying about or not," she admits after a thoughtful pause. "Don's working on getting the portals open for his own reasons… which frankly are probably not good ones." It doesn't honestly matter, because that motherfucker is going to die before we leave if Liz has anything to do with it. "But we're not exactly in any position to really… make waves about it, either. He's in control here. And he's executed the only person who might have been able to help us create a more stable portal."

Aurora shifts in her sleep on Elisabeth's lap, making the sounds that herald nightmares. Liz shifts again, bringing the little girl to a slightly different position and stroking her back. She starts humming under her breath — the only time that Cassandra hears music from her anymore, since their landing in the Wasteland. The audiokinetic only sings for Aurora now, never for herself. "If I could make days last forever… if words could make wishes come true… I'd save every day like a treasure… and again I would spend them with you…"

“Sorry.” Cassandra’s voice is quiet, shifting to brush her fingertips through Aurora’s hair, soothing the little girl in her own way. “It just came out.” The explanation on how much behind the eight ball they really are sobers her a little more - god she wishes she had something to drink.

“Whatever his reason, we need to get him to make his reason our reason. Whether or not a thing like that is even possible…” Cassandra lets out a shuddering breath, whispering. “We need to find out information. People for and against. Places we can go. Maps. Schedules.”

Elisabeth nods to her slightly, her blue eyes seeming ancient in the shadows of the candles. So many regrets, so many heartaches, so much still left to do. It never really ends, does it? "We'll rest when we're through," she whispers… and the words have the ring of an old mantra.

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