Tongue Twisters


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Scene Title Tongue Twisters
Synopsis Daddy might be a Slytherin.
Date May 5, 2019

Richard's Apartment

“Doba, kwili, ha'i, a:wide, apde, dobalekk'ya, kwililekk'ya, ha'ilekk'ya, denalekk'ya, asdem— sha? Cha?“ Richard stumbles at that last syllable, grimacing at the laptop screen sitting on the coffee table in his apartment and waving a hand at it, “Pause, pause. Damn it, every time.”

It’s a Sunday, so he’s not working. Instead he’s sitting in his apartment on the floor next to the coffee table instead of up on the couch, dressed in black workout sweats - a pull-up bar above one of the doors previously used already this morning, a bottle of gatorade set on the table proof that he’s already replaced his electrolytes. Now, he seems to be trying to pronounce something from a video, although he’s clearly being frustrated by it.

The cat, on the other hand, is happily curled up on the couch.

His apartment might as well not bother to have a lock these days, what with Aurora back and forth between the one that she and Liz originally set up in and this one — It's almost laughable to even have doors. His daughter bounds into the room with a small bag of something that she clearly intended to give him, eyes him warily, and then hands the bag to Liz. "You give it to him. That sounds like Parseltongue," she informs her mother. And then with a narrow-eyed look at her father, she scampers off to inform her siblings that DADDY MIGHT BE A SLYTHERIN.

Elisabeth, for her part, stands in the doorway and quirks a brow. "Well… that's not exactly what I expected to walk in on." She grins at him. "What are you doing?" she queries on a chuckle as she makes her way toward him with the bag and coffee in her hands.

“Parsel-what?” Richard’s expression turns bemused as he looks to the door, sees his daughter’s suspicious look before scampering off— and he turns that look on Liz, eyebrows raising as he wordlessly requests explanation. Someone never read Harry Potter, it appears.

Richelieu stirs at the disturbances, stretching his paws out in a long, lazy stretch and yawning a fang-toothed yawn before peering up at Elisabeth and letting out a little ‘mew’ for attention.

“Zuni,” he offers then, head tilting to the laptop, “I’m not getting very far. I’ve nearly gotten down ‘counting to ten’ though.”

The chuckles that erupt from the blonde are light, and as she sets the coffees and the small bag on the low table, she kisses his temple. Which thing to address first. "Really, Richard, you have three of them at Harry Potter age… we really have to expand your repertoire," she teases as she perches on the edge of a cushion so she can scritch the cat while she smiles at him. "Your children will momentarily be debating whether you are a disciple of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named." The fictional version, not Arthur.

Tipping her head curiously, she asks, "And why are you learning Zuni?" Because that seems an interesting language choice.

The little ginger cat rumbles a happy purr as he butts his head against Liz’s hand, rubbing his face on it to scent-mark her fingers.

“I think that’d be my cousin Nathalie,” Richard quips in response to the ‘he-who-should-not-be-named’ disciple comment, “I’m not going to go around calling myself her disciple, though. No, I…”

He frowns back at the laptop, “It’s a language isolate which makes it even harder, all these vocal sounds we don’t use in English. Do you remember Sparrow Redhouse? Ran with the Ferry for a bit, back in the day, briefly was with Endgame.”

Scooting deeper into the cushion to bring the small cat into her hands to cuddle beneath her chin, Elisabeth seems a little more wary. There are a lot of things she's apparently not quite caught up on. "You have a cousin named Nathalie?" That's news that seems casual enough, except… why would cousin Nathalie be Voldemort? It's a little worrying.

"And… no, I don't remember… The name Redhouse, though. Related to the painter?" The one who hit and killed Michelle Cardinal?

“Sarisa and Avi’s kid,” Richard reveals oh-so-casually, “Although last I knew Avi was still trying to say that she wasn’t his… she put his name on the birth certificate, though. I should introduce her to mom, actually.” A tip of his head, thoughtful, and he shakes his head to dismiss the thought for later.

“And yeah,” he leans back against the couch, head tilting to look back to her with a wry smile, “Sparrow’s his daughter, actually. I went up to Thomas’s cabin looking for him, awhile back, but he was missing— Sparrow was there instead.”

WHOA, what???? Shut the fucking front door! Elisabeth's blue eyes widen and she looks gobsmacked. "Th… wait, what?" That's gonna take a minute or ten to wrap her head around. "Sarisa has a kid… and that kid is somehow your cousin?? What even the fuck…?" She is totally lost.

Giving Richelieu his due lovings, she sets the cat down on the cushions again — she's been scent-marked enough, thanks, buddy. Leaning forward onto her knees with her elbows, she stares at him. "Okay… this is two separate trains of thought here and that one has me reeling. So gimme a minute on that one and let me follow this one. Sparrow Redhouse, daughter of Thomas Redhouse, was Ferry and part of Endgame…" The coincidence isn't missed that they've all been tied together a long time. "What's that got to do with learning Zuni?" she wonders.

“Oh. Sorry, uh…” Richard brings a hand up, fingers pinching the bridge of his nose, “Right. Two trains of thought. Actually, let’s start with the first one, it’s— simpler? Sarisa was Michelle’s cousin, it turns out, which is probably why she treated me like she did in retrospect - family ties.”

“So,” he observes, “Her daughter’s my— like second cousin or something, we gave up on figuring out the actual relationship. Cousin works just fine.”

Simpler is good, Elisabeth agrees. So she simply nods and watches him explain it. A faint furrow between her brows tells him she's considering the information from several angles, and finally she just shakes her head a bit. "Wow. Makes me wonder how much information, if anything, Sarisa might have had in her head about all this going on now," she admits. The Shark was always pretty goddamned inscrutable. Clasping her hands together, though, she turns her eyes up to him and asks, clear concern in her expression, "And why are you calling your cousin Voldemort, Richard?"

Richard clearly debates how to answer that question for a few moments. “So, don’t freak out because as far as I can tell everything is fine,” he says, a sentence that has never led anyone to rightfully panic ever, “But, uh…”

He clears his throat, “She has both conduits. Simultaneously.”

Well.. life with RIchard Cardinal is never dull. Elisabeth brings both hands up and digs her palms into her eyes, sighing quietly. "Okay… So your cousin Nathalie… does she also happen to go by the name Berlin? Because… I've been puzzling about the question of someone carrying both conduits at the same time for a couple of weeks now. Abby was given a note by a woman on a bus, brought it to Colette at a veterans' support meeting because someone Abby showed it to, I guess, recognized Colette's handwriting. Colette had jotted some questions down for herself while she was 'trying to help a friend'." She takes her hands down so she can look at him. "It tweaked Abby enough to mention the name of the woman who found the note, someone no one seems to recognize."

Her tone is somewhat dry as she speaks, as if she's putting her instinctive reactions into neutral as she tries to sort out if there's a meaning and whether it's a dangerous one.

“Berlin Beckett’s her alias, yeah,” Richard admits, his brow furrowing a little, “She gave Abby a note on a bus? That’s— weird, yeah, why wouldn’t she just go talk to her or something? Or am I understanding wrong?”

Confusion, there, if anything. “I can see why she might want to talk to Abby, if she didn’t feel comfortable talking to Frenchy, but…”

"No, sorry." Elisabeth grimaces. "A strange woman on a bus apparently found a note and gave it to Abby. Abby figured out somehow that it was Colette's jottings, brought the note to the support group meeting. I caught a glance at it, it was the name Berlin Beckitt and 'both conduits' question mark, so it's been stuck in my head." The conduits, obviously, are something she's leery of. "Colette just said she was helping a friend. Abby got the name of the lady on the bus, she was fangirling bad or so Abby said — she wanted Abby's autograph on a copy of Wolves. But the name isn't something anyone Abby asked seemed to recognize. Lisa Bradley? That part might be nothing, of course. But…" She grimaces and rolls her eyes. "I just… don't believe in coincidence at all anymore."

It brings one of Richard’s eyebrows right up. “Bradley? Or Bradbury?”

So much for simplicity. "Abby said Bradley, but I can double-check," Elisabeth replies, watching him closely. "Why? Who is Lisa Bradbury?"

“I don’t know,” Richard admits, and it’s clear that bothers him, brow knitting in consternation, “One of our new interns… Zachery Miller. He was ex-Institute, did his time and was released, all legit, but he ran into a blonde named Lisa Bradbury somewhere that said she was a ‘good friend’ of mine and suggested he come here for a job. Which is odd because I don’t know anyone named Lisa Bradbury.”

And she gives him The Face. Because of course she did. "I guess we'll figure it out when it bites us in the ass, as usual," Elisabeth observes in a tone that rivals the Sahara for dryness.

"I'll double-check with Abigail, but … I don't think I'll even bet on the outcome of the idea that Lisa Brad-something is the same person. I mean… give it rest, you know? I get that the population of the city is a hell of a lot smaller than it used to be, but the lady on the bus had told Abby — coincidentally enough — that she was the groundskeeper at the church where the damn support group was held. That's how Abby knew where to start looking for the note's owner when it was dropped. So this person has done two things already: 'found' — " air quotes definitely in play there, " — a note and dropped it in Abby's lap with a place, someone at the church identified it as Colette's handwriting, and Abby brings her the note. And sent Zachery here."

She considers for a moment and sighs. "Someone's setting up their own game board, and why the hell are we always in the middle of it?" Looking at him, she just offers him a game smile. "BOHICA, lover."

“So it seems…” Richard leans his head back against the cushions of the couch, closing his eyes for a moment, “I suppose it’s a good thing that I’ve already started to set my side up, then.” Because of course he has.

He turns his head a bit, cracking an eye open, “You’re a cop now, right? Do you have access to the Safe Zone citizen files? Can you, like, see if there’s a Lisa Bradbury listed?”

She starts to laugh, and it's… strangely enough, a genuinely amused laugh, the kind of giggles that used to occasionally hit her in the middle of the night over nothing in particular. Just… joy or happiness that bubbles up out of nowhere and makes her unable to stop giggling. It's the first time he's seen them since she got home.

As he leans back, she wrinkles up her nose and moves, perching herself on his lap facing him as she laughs. The more things change, the more they stay the same. "You, Richard Cardinal, are a menace," she teases him. "Yes, I'm a cop now. Though the job doesn't start for two more weeks, so no, I can't get access to that kinda shit yet. Christ, I haven't even actively been on the job yet and you're askin' me for stuff."

Shaking her head at him, she asks, "Is it stupid that… it really is starting to feel like home again?" Hence why she's laughing.

It takes Richard a few moments to catch on, moments in which he regards her with worry as to the sudden giggling laughter. Then she’s moving into his lap, and he laughs himself, hands sliding along her hips to rest against the small of her back as he grins up at her.

“Yeah, well, plus ça change as Francois might say,” he observes, leaning up to kiss the tip of her chin, “We can rest when we’re done, love, you know that. The game rolls on, with or without us.”

"Iz ognya da v polymya. The story of my life," she murmurs back with a grin, nuzzling his cheek. "From the frying pan to the fire. But… I do rather enjoy the fire when you're around. As long as our offspring are somewhere far far from it." The amusement has at least slowed a little to where she's just… content.

Pulling back a bit so she can look at him, she asks with a rueful smile, "Now… since the simpler mess is done, what's this about Zuni again?"

“Mnm, right, we were talking about Redhouse…” Richard’s fingers infiltrate under her shirt, sliding along the skin of her back just above the waistline as he looks back up at her with a crooked smile, “So, I went to go find Thomas, but he was AWOL— Sparrow was there going through his things.”

“Showed me some of his art, there were some prophetic pieces I added to my collection and— well. Then she showed me some of the native art and I think they were more significant than she knew.”

With her knees tucked tight to his hips, sitting here like this might become a tactical error sooner rather than later if she wants information. Not that it bothers Elisabeth — they have all the time in the world for information to make its way into the open between them. For now, the lazy stroke of his fingers on her back is a simple sensory anchor, keeping her attention focused on him — and in this case, on what he's saying. She looks thoughtful about the art. "You'll have to show me," she murmurs. "Considering what could be coming… hell, for all we know, the natives knew about it. Ancient cultures were a hell of a lot more advanced than they're credited with being. And maybe a hell of a lot smarter about abilities."

She leans down to press her forehead lightly to his. "I think the thing I missed the most in all those years was being able to bounce thoughts around," she comments softly, her fingers clasping lightly at the back of his neck. "The way your brain works fascinates me. Exhausts me sometimes, but … always fascinates me."

“I didn’t used to be like this,” Richard admits, brow resting on hers and his eyes closing for a moment, “I used to just be focused on the next score, the next step to keep ahead of things… just a thief. Then I let myself get tangled up in all of this, and Edward’s bullshit, and— well.”

He exhales a chuckle, “Anyway. Yeah. I think they did know— the Zuni were influenced by the Japanese, did you know that?”

Pffft. The soft sound is basically a gentle snort of disbelief. "Whatever you were before The 36, before Edward Ray, before string maps and eating a nuke? I'm pretty sure it was never just anything," Elisabeth assures him in a calm tone. "Even then, you were planning. Perhaps not as far ahead, but…" She shrugs, leaning back enough to meet his eyes. "There's always been a hell of a lot more to you than you wanted anyone to see." It's simple, to her. If he was 'just a thief,' no one wanted anything from him and he didn't have to feel responsible for anything.

"I did not know that the Zuni were influenced by the Japanese," she informs him with a grin. "You're going to have to teach me who the Zuni were and I might have to go look up why this is archaeologically significant — because we are discussing the impossible physics of fucking dimensional travel so I'm sure there are deeper clues and links in there." Cue the moment when she actually allows that she may have done a good bit more studying than she's acknowledged too. "But for now, I'll be happy with the short version of why you think they knew."

At the accusation that there was a lot more, Richard wrinkles his nose at her, although he can’t be upset all the same. He offers her a wry smile, then, one brow lifting, “Are, who they are. Native american tribe, live in New Mexico. The Redhouses are part of the tribe. They’ve closed off their land to outsiders since the war, which is a shame..”

He shakes his head, “But yeah, there was some— very old Japanese influence, they think Buddhist monks travelled to America in the thirteenth, fourteenth centuries? Merged with the tribe. There are some parallels in their mythology and such, and— well. We know that Adam was in Japan…”

A serious look, “But the kicker? The first painting I was was of Kolowisi, the guardian of water, who brings the rains, and is connected to all things. His shape? A half-helix. You’ve seen the symbol before if you think about it.”

Elisabeth goes still, blinking as a her brows pull down slightly. "Walter's necklace…." she says softly. Tipping her head, she purses her lips and thinks about that idea. "I saw it in Flood, it was something…." She trails off, trying to remember what he said about it. Slowly, she offers, "Strength… and luck… and safe travel across water. He wouldn't say where he got it. I can't remember what he called it, but it had a name. He thought it was Polynesian or something."

“No, no that one, that’s, uh— I forget what it’s called, the fishhook? The Deveaux Society uses it,” Richard frowns a touch, “Although the Guardian of Water, the fishhook— mnm, anyway. Parallels. No, the half-helix is the one that was on the hilt of Adam’s sword, and on Suresh’s book— it translates to ‘Godsend’ I think.”

Okay. Elisabeth defers to his knowledge on the topic and quirks a brow. "That's interesting.. On both counts. Implies older Walter was working for the Deveaux Society, right?" She muses aloud, "I wonder if that started here or there." It's kind of a random thought, especially since Walter is one of the travelers who has not turned up to anyone's knowledge. The thought sends a pang of grief flashing across her features, quickly hidden. "Any suitably advanced technology — or in this case, maybe ability? — is indistinguishable from magic, if you use it in a time where such science is not understood," she observes in a quiet tone.

“Yeah. Another painting, thought, the really interesting one….? An eclipse, gold on black,” Richard says, voice turning serious, “And two figures. The sun, the creator Awonawilona, and its two children, the warrior twins, the Ahayu’da. Given the way they’re presented, I believe the Ahayu’da are a reference to the conduits.”

That makes her look a little disturbed. "Greeeat," Elisabeth murmurs in reply. "I'm… a little unnerved by that idea, frankly. Almost as unnerved as I am by the fact that your cousin is running around with both conduits at once and there's … at least one other copy each of those bastards running around here. Eileen's got one. Is there still a dark conduit that for lack of a better term is 'native' to here? And then wherever the white conduit landed — last I knew, Deckard, but I haven't been here in nearly a decade, so…"

Her uneasiness doesn't have the resonance that full-blown distress has, but it has its own gentle feel against his skin that he's had to become intimately familiar with.

“Easy, love…” Richard’s tone softens, fingers brushing down either side of her spine for the few vertebrae above her waistline, leaning in to bump his nose to hers and steal a gentle kiss, “Easy. We’ll sort things out…”

He leans back a little, “The ones in Nathalie are the native ones— Kazimir’s old conduit, and Francois’s. They’re keeping each other more or less in control, from what I understand; I think the old man found some peace in Antarctica, fortunately, so he isn’t trying to keep control anymore, and the white’s always been more— passive.”

Elisabeth wrinkles her nose, annoyed that something so comparatively mild as that reaction still is perceptible and she returns the soft kiss until she's a little less fizzy. Blowing out a slow breath, she offers him a faint smirk. "I'm not freaking out, I promise. Just a little… jangled, I guess. I really gotta quit this shit."

She considers the information and nods. "So there's just a spare dark one on the loose. That… hopefully Eileen has wrestled under control finally." It's not as if she hasn't lived in a world where that was managed. It's… good news, right? Right. "Do the paintings have anything helpful to offer on the critter that hitched a ride?" she asks curiously.

“I’m pretty sure the giant monster was Eve, or partially Eve,” Richard admits, scratching his chin a little, “There was a picture with an… overlap, her and Uluru. The more I think about it the more I start to think it was a distraction, though. Adam still seems pretty sure that the Dragon is coming, so I’m going to assume we didn’t destroy it.”

A shake of his head, “As for the Entity itself, well. Like I said. An eclipse, gold on black.”

"Well, love…. You have an incredible knack for putting disparate pieces of information together, so… when you figure it out, I guess we'll know what the fuck we're doing," Elisabeth comments wryly. "Honestly? I've really had quite enough of trying to be far smarter than I am — quantum physics gives me a serious headache and I've spent the past years leapfrogging Magnes's brain when it makes connections that are literally unfathomable to me while you've been on metaphysical and dimensional-being and Vanguard vacation. I'm gonna go back to being a cop and maybe even a sometime singer. I'll hand you all the crappy little jigsaw pieces and when you figure out what the hell we're looking at, I'll happily step in and help obliterate it, okay?"

She's got a really facetious tone going on there, teasing and not really serious…. But there is some amount of sincerity in the words. The need to not fight with all these little bits of information alone anymore and not be responsible for everyone's life (even if that's only in her own sense of responsibility and not something they actually think or expect) for just a little longer would be hugely appreciated. "Let me train up a team to be ready for entity-level shenanigans."

“If you think you’ll have time for it, between being a cop and a sometime singer…” Richard’s fingers stroke up her back further, then trail down, short nails teasing the skin as he leans in to bump his nose up against hers lightly. “I’m not going to say no. I’ve already been building an information network to spread out a wider net and catch anything going on, but I don’t think we can entirely rely on the government to take care of any serious crises. If you want to hand-pick a team to work with…”

A soft chuckle, “Feel free, lover.”

"It's what we do, yeah?" Elisabeth rubs her nose against his, her tone softening to an amused murmur. "And I can't imagine anyone else I'd rather live a Chinese curse with." Her hands slip forward from the back of his neck to cradle his jaw and she tips her head to kiss him lingeringly.

That kiss is returned slowly, warmly, lips moving to hers as they share breathes for several heartbeats. As it breaks, Richard exhales a low murmur against her lips, “…so what’d Aura want you to give me, before I take off your shirt and we get extremely distracted?”

Oh! She'd forgotten the bag and the coffees! Elisabeth's chuckle is soft. "She made you a breakfast cake. With frosting and everything," she tells him without pulling away. "She's decided if we're all getting married, we need to have cake to celebrate and you're her guinea pig."

“I will risk food poisoning for the sake of my little rainbow,” Richard says in faux-solemn tones, before his cheek slides against hers and his mouth finds her neck in a nuzzling kiss, both hands sliding upwards to drag that shirt upwards more purposefully this time.

Cake can wait. He’s hungry for something else.

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