Too Little Too Late



Scene Title Too Little Too Late
Synopsis A chosen path, a trajectory changed mid-stream because he saw what he'd become, and the fallout.
Date January 10, 2019

Harrison's Adirondack Cabin

As she wipes the counter down, she glances out the window over the sink. Out near the shed, her father has his ax in hand and has taken a break from splitting wood to talk to the sullen little boy standing nearby with his hands shoved in his pockets. The sight hurts her heart… makes her happy in so many ways, and angry in so many others.

He didn't deserve this life. Her father was trying so hard, but Josh was so angry. He'd been wanted… they'd fought so goddamn hard to keep him, to raise him with everything that she'd grown up with. Goddamn you, Richard… for all of it. And at what cost, she wonders in despair.

He brings the beer up, taking a hearty swig of it and then breathing out a sigh, looking down at the brown glass in his hand. "I don't… I don't want to make his mistakes, Liz. Or Edward's. Or my parents'."

She drops the washcloth on the floor, barely breathing. For a moment, it was like he was standing there next to her, the conversation that day she'd told him she was pregnant so vivid.

“Then don’t,” Elisabeth tells him softly, as if it’s just that simple.

She'd scoff if she could find air to suck in to do it. As if it were so easy! She wants to slap herself. Is this the Liz Harrison she met? Was she really so naive?

"You know how I grew up. I never really had any of those things," Richard admits, watching the two babies in their crib for a moment longer before looking back to her, "I can't promise I won't… die, or be lost in time, or something. But so long as I don't, I'll do everything I can to be here for them. But I've got to keep fighting to make it a world I want them to live up to." He steps along over towards Elisabeth, reaching his free arm over to slide around her waist, offering her a faint smile, "I forget. Did I ever tell you why I stopped being a crook and went into the whole resistance thing?"

Well… looks like her Richard isn't any better about keeping those fucking promises, is he? But something wasn't right. What was niggling her about it? Besides the fucking fact it shouldn't be happening and she is seeing shit that can't be real… except knowing her luck it absolutely is.

She shifts, leaning into the arm he puts around her, laying her head on his shoulder for a long minute. And then Liz looks up and grins slightly. “Uhm…. not really, I don’t think. I kinda thought it was because of… what was her name? Isabel’s arrest. But I don’t think I ever really knew.” She wrinkles her nose. “Boy, you were pretty pissed at me over that.”

"Nah." Cardinal shakes his head slightly, "I was pissed about that, but no, that wasn't it. It was the thirty-six? Do you remember?" He tilts his head down, brow resting against hers, "Those suicides. Those kids, that were just… they saw what was coming, and didn't want to live with it."

"I listened to that recording they made over and over. I was just… trying to make sense of it."

He takes a deep breath, "Finally I decided that if that was the world we were building, that all these kids would kill themselves over it, I needed to try and change that. To change me, if I had to, so I could change it. And that's… that's what scares me the most, I think. What if, in the end, that's the world we leave for these— for my kids."

It killed her to hear him… she believed in him once. She'd never doubted that he'd wanted to make things better for their children and everyone else's.

Two babies in the crib. Wait… two? She can't control what she's seeing, can't move around. Her jaw locks. Is this… what her counterpart has now? Did she make it home?

She hugs him a little tighter and pulls in a deep breath, deliberately quelling her reaction so as not to wake the twins. She doesn’t say anything for a long moment, and then she murmurs, “I don’t ever want to hear you tell someone you’re not a good man again, Richard.” When she looks up at him, her blue eyes hold telltale traces of tears that she won’t let fall. She’s cried enough over those kids. “My kids at Washington Irving were the reason I started doing all of this.” The Vanguard attack. “And it’s damn hard to work with them. But I’ll do it if it means giving your children a world to live in.”

The hand that's holding Richard's beer fumbles briefly for somewhere to put it down, finally locating a flat surface to do so on, and then lifts up to brush against her cheek; thumb grazing just beneath one blue eye as if to wipe away those tears that won't fall.

"All our kids," he says softly, "We owe them that much, I guess. Even fucking Joshua."

Grief and rage vie for supremacy. "He is your son!" she screams at no one. "You sonuvabitch! You have no idea what I went through for him! How dare you fucking judge him!? Goddamn you in every world, you prick!"

The tip of his nose brushes hers lightly, "But if you think for one moment that the idea of having a kid with you one day isn't up in my head, Ms. Harrison, you're crazy. I've gotta prove I'm not as big a fuck-up as Zeke, after all."

Wait… what? He … doesn't have a child with her? What the fuck is even happening? She thought Aurora…

There’s a snort from her, a rather inelegant sound. “You’ll never be as big a fuck-up as Zeke… so long as you don’t resurrect me.” Elisabeth smiles just a little. “And don’t ever go back in time just to save me. And… love your kids. Wherever they come from.” Her grin gets a little wider. Shifting so that she can tip her head and kiss him softly, she murmurs between soft touches of her lips to his.

Brought to a standstill, she's still confused. Who is Zeke? Are they… talking about her Richard? Or another one? Tears stream down her cheeks unheeded.

She moves carefully to set the coffee mug she has, miraculously, managed NOT spill down his back over next to the beer bottle. Then both of her arms come up around his neck and she teases, “Didn’t you tell me… there are no happily ever afters? I’m pretty sure that was you.”

"There aren't any happy ever afters," Richard replies, his arms loosely wrapping around her waist and then drawing in to pull her close as he grins down at her, "But there's happy for a little while, at least, and I think it behooves us to try and find that place whenever we can. You know? I mean, I think it's a moral imperative, lest we all turn into Deckard."

Well, at least he wasn't lying. There certainly were no happily ever afters. A pang in her gut physically hurt as she thought of the happy for a little while times they'd managed… before he started to become a monster. She'd had such hope when he'd realized what he was becoming. More the fool she.

“God forbid!” Elisabeth chuckles softly. Her expression isn’t one he has seen very often in the past year or more. She seems peaceful here in this moment. As she strokes her fingertips through the hair at the nape of his neck, she asks softly, “Dance with me?”

The echoes of that request resonate. She asked him one time… and for a moment her own memories overwhelm what she's seeing, superimposing themselves for a split second. But it wasn't the same as what she sees.

A soft laugh answers her request, Cardinal's head dipping in a bit of a nod as he slides one hand up to her shoulder; moving to guide her into a slow dance, a step back to the side, repeat, around in a circle on the floor.

"Dance with me," he sings softly, the words of Johnny Reid of all people, "Don't say a word, just dance with me… let the world outside disappear. Baby, what we got here is all we need… dance with me…"

She sank to her knees in the kitchen, her arms wrapped around her her middle while emotion threatened to tear her apart. She didn't want to know this. Didn't want to see it, this vision of something that never was. And never could be.

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