What Dreams May Come, Part III


cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title What Dreams May Come, Part III
Synopsis Anchoring the safe place firmly in the present.
Date Sep 5, 2009

Elisabeth's Mind!

Time seems to pass oddly in the spacious bedroom that the teenaged-appearing Elisabeth inhabits. She could probably alter her appearance here, though the thought hasn't really occured to her. The peach and green color scheme and the dark wood four-poster bed and dressers make her feel like the sixteen-year-old who inhabited this space so many years ago. She has wandered about the room picking up bits and pieces of a life half-remembered. A wistful look is cast toward the door when Elisabeth 'hears' her mother — or the memory of her mother's voice — in the murmurings of sound from 'downstairs' in the 'house' of her mind. It is… comforting. And in some ways not so much. This memory is the past, and it brings the sadness of knowing that her mother is gone, that the voice she almost hears in the periphery of her dreamscape is not really there.

Hokuto said that she could only bring the man in question if he slept. Elisabeth can only assume he had things to do during this day that kept him from sleep. It wouldn't surprise her. At least here, in the safety of her own mind, she is safe…. though the strange closet door held closed with rusted chains and leaking water around all edges still unnerves her. She occasionally looks at the door, but she chooses to ignore it because she knows what Teo has told her of those memories. Before she tampers with retrieving them, she needs to speak to someone else. And finally, there's the knock at the bedroom door. Hokuto also said not to let him wait long, and so she doesn't.

The Elisabeth who opens the door is barely past her sixteenth birthday. Blonde hair is worn to nearly her hips, with the requisite bangs and layers to be teased and sprayed to oblivion as was the style when she was 16. She sleeps then, as now, in a tanktop and a pair of pajama pants, so that part is not so much different, though her slender form is a hair less well developed at that age — her hips have not taken on the mature curves that she will later sport.

Yesterday upon the stair / I met a man who wasn't there…

At first, she might think that there's nothing at the door; no man waiting for her, no knuckles to knock upon the wooden facade to request entry to this sanctuary within the detective's subconscious mind. Then a shadow slips past almost too swift to see, and she knows he's there.

When she turns, though, he's no mere two-dimensional image flat upon a wall or floor, or a pool of darkness concealed within the far corners of the chamber. A shadow in the form of a man, or at least of a youth - a gangly-limbed blackness perched upon the foot of her bed as deftly as a cardinal would rest upon a gently swaying branch. The shadow of his head topped with some sort of vaguely amorphous hat as he looks about, before musing in a voice discernably his:

"Huh. This doesn't look familiar."

You know that place between sleep and awake, / the place where you can still remember dreaming? … That's where I'll be waiting.

"I don't suppose it does," Elisabeth says quietly, closing the bedroom door behind the shadow as he brushes past her. She heads for the large bed and plops onto it on her stomach, her feet in the air while she rests on her elbows. "It's a dreamscape, Richard. Abby's friend brought you to me. I'm sorry that it's … quite like this." She looks around. "She said it was important. That…. strong emotions, a link to someone in my present life, would anchor this memory in place so that I could always find my way back." She pauses. "It's a sanctuary. A place… to hide. From the nightmares."


A hint of bemusement is borne in that query, along with it perhaps just a bit of a strain - as if remembering her was difficult at the moment, perhaps still off-balance from whatever dream or nightmare the blindfolded oneiromancer dragged him from. The shadow-man looks around for a moment, before tumbling down to stretch out beside her — moving with a fluid spill like water moving through the air, details morphing away and reforming until the dark, almost-opaque figure is settled in on his side. One hand reaches over her, fingers brushing over her back in a cool touch through the tanktop's fabric.

"No Backstreet Boy posters?"

There's a snicker. "No… no Backstreet Boys posters. My mother was… not a fan of the poster thing," she admits. Although there are a couple of beautifully framed prints of castles and unicorns and such. Which Elisabeth hadn't really noticed until a grown man — shadow — whatever — sat in her teenaged bedroom. She kicks her feet back and forth idly in the air. "Not really my style even back then," she says. "She said you'd be tired in the mor… evening. Whatever. When you wake. You'll be tired." As if that's something new for him lately. "I think she…. maybe took away the nightmares?" She sounds uncertain. "Or at least…. took away some of their power." She grins at him, looking for all the world like the carefree teen that this particular appearance is. "You know that if you'd shown up in my room like that when I lived at home, I'd have….. hell, I don't know. Thought you were Peter Pan's shadow. Cute imagery."

At the accusation, there's a rough snort from the shadow. "Peter Pan? Hardly…" A roll up to a more seated posture, Cardinal's head tilts to look towards the window even as he murmurs, "…always hated that story. It's such a pack of lies. Like all the others that they tell to kids…"

Trailing off, the shadow twists to look back to Elisabeth's 'younger' form there, hesitating a moment, "Wait. You mean this is — real? This is you? Not just another — dream?"

"Actually, the original book was far less a pack of lies than the Disney version of things," she offers softly. And then Liz smiles. "Well, now… before I tell you that, you get to tell me if you dream of me that often!" Cuz oh my yes, that's a sweet little piece of intel. But she tells him anyway. "Yes… it's real. The dream manipulator that Abby knew came to see me today."

"That's right…" As if he hadn't remembered until now, one shadowy hand rising up to rub against his chin in a momentary darkening of it, his diaphanous form briefly fading into greater resolution for a moment before it drifts more translucent again, "…she said something about that… didn't she…" A look back, though no eyes are visible, "Is it helping?"

There's a bit of a shrug. "She…. pulled me out of a nightmare," Elisabeth admits. "She said …." There's a pause and then she says, "Like I told you. She said bringing you here might help anchor it more firmly in the present. Although…. I begin to feel that I should offer you a thimble and perhaps ask you where your real body is so I can sew you back onto it." She grins.

A laugh; hollow yet wry, fragile but darkly amused all in one. "This is all that I am," replies Cardinal, rolling back in that fluid wave of shadowy movement to perch again on the bed's foot, straightening to stand there, "Just a shadow, Lizzie. Nothing to sew me to…"

Elisabeth reaches out to touch the shadow, remembering the feel of the chill on her skin beneath where he touched her. Her expression is sad, the haunted blue eyes in the teen's face giving the impression of great age or experience. "Lately," she admits softly, "I think the darkness is all that's left of me, too."

In a dream, he can be touched, like this — cool but not cold, like a man who'd been standing outside for too long. At the contact, his head turns back to look to her, watching her silently and eyelessly for long moments, the wall's colours visible ever so faintly through his shadowy visage. Then his face is visible a little better, slowly, like a fade-in from a movie clip done with special effects, though it's younger than she knows him.

"There's no darkness in you, Liz," he finally says quietly, lucidly, a glint seen where his eyes might be. "Anger, fire, hurt, sorrow, maybe, but I doubt anything could put that light in your heart out. Don't think otherwise."

Who do you trust with your emotions more than anyone else? Who in your life do you let see you with your guard down?

No one. And to anchor this place, Elisabeth has to offer more of herself than she really wants him to know. "She asked me…. who I trusted to keep me safe." She looks down, away from the shadow, her fingers picking at the quilt on the bed and she says quietly, "You're the only person I know …. strong enough. To keep me safe from myself. You think of yourself as dark and untrustworthy, but… when I needed you, when you were pissed to all hell at me because someone you cared about was taken to Moab because of me… you still gave me your help. You didn't get anything out of it. You didn't really even ask me for anything in return — just some information."

Elisabeth pauses and says softly, "Only one of us in here right now has light… has hope. And it's not me, Richard. All I have right now is …. fear. And rage. And the urge to hide in this place, safe from them, forever. To never ever leave it." She looks up at him, her expression bleak. "And the only reason I don't is because they win. If I do that… if I let them force me into this corner. They win. And I already let that happen once. It can't happen again."

"You trust me too much, I think…" A shadow again, a turn of his head away from her to regard the door that she's denied even herself in this place, dark eyes closing for a moment as he answers her quietly, "…I'll… do what needs to be done, Liz. I was ready to throw away a quarter-million lives to stop Arthur. I still don't know if it wouldn't have been better that way. You don't know what I'm capable of— hell, I don't know, and what little I do scares the hell out of me. Would you still trust me with that much blood on my hands?"

A turn back, then, and a snort from Richard, "But I call bullshit on that last part, Liz. If you didn't have hope, you wouldn't still be a fucking cop. I told you a long time ago you needed to step over that line, but you haven't because you still think you can make a difference that way."

There is a silence from the not-quite-woman on the bed as she pushes to a sitting position, one foot tucked beneath her upraised leg. She wraps her arms around that knee and rests her chin atop it, looking at him. Here, in this place — it's her own head, after all — she's forced to be honest. "As flawed as it is, I believe that there's a place for the system. It fails. Far too often. But it's better than no system at all, most of the time." She pauses. "I … don't know who I am if I'm not a cop, Richard. Helping people is all I ever wanted to do. It's not hope. It's cowardice. You're absolutely right… I should choose what side of that line I'm on. And I can't. Even now, when they've taken so much… I'm too goddamn afraid to live entirely outside the lines, not knowing…. where I live. Where the next meal comes from. What to do with my time. Who I am." She smiles faintly, ducking her chin so that she's resting her forehead on her knee where she doesn't have to see the disdain for those words from a man… a shadow… who has lived outside the lines for at least most of his adult life if not all of it.

The shadow-man slides back down onto the bed beside her, one dark arm reaching to wrap itself about her shoulders, to draw her in against the cool comfort of his side; there's a warmth beneath that coolness, though, strange as it seems. "Silly girl," he murmurs, a kiss brushed to her brow, "You live here. And you're you. Haven't you learned yet… that's all that matters? Just listen to your heart, Liz. Not me, not Dean, not— anybody else. And to hell with what the world expects of you. I told you a long time ago, you needed to learn where you stood. Maybe it's time you did."

There's a soft laugh, a bit on the watery side as she leans against the strange chill of this particular form of his. Her head finds its way to the curve of his neck just as it always does when they're sitting on the couch in her living room. Elisabeth's voice is soft. "I want it all," she admits quietly. "I want … to win. To have a life that's not proscribed by the need to save the world every other month. I don't want it to be perfect — I don't even care if there are still Evo versus non-Evo issues. It's not like that will ever get truly settled anyway. I just… want to not be running from one crisis to another, one world-shattering situation to another, one emergency to the next all the time. A little downtime between would be nice. I don't even mind dying for it so much, if that would have helped anything." Her mind flashes briefly on the few things she can remember from Teo's time in her head. "You'd have absolute conniptions over my ridiculously less-than-grandiose wish list of things I'd still like to do in my life," she admits with a smile, her tone not quite teasing. "To live would be an awfully big adventure."

"Keep quoting Peter Pan at me, and I'll spank you. And— you don't have to, you know," observes Richard in somewhat wry tones, "You aren't the only person that can go running about trying to save the world. You could take some time off, relax, rest, let other people handle it for awhile…" There's a thick layer of irony there, don't think he isn't aware of it. People have been telling him the same thing. The difference being, he doesn't believe it when they tell him. "Catch up on your list. Learn who you are."

Elisabeth can't help the giggles when he promises to spank her. "Sorry," she murmurs. "Just can't help myself with this cute shadow thing you got going on." She tips her head to look up at him, considering this advice. Hey… it's entirely safe space, finally room to breathe. "The underlying problem gets in my way," she admits. "There are things going on out there that I can't live with myself if I don't act. Azrael. Danko." She rests her forehead against his jaw. "I don't want out of the fucking fight, Richard," she murmurs. "I want all-in. And I want to have my cake and eat it too." And she's not blind to the fact that that is part of the problem. "As you've pointed out to Helena numerous times… you can't be a domestic terrorist and still be a good guy." She sighs heavily. "And I know… once I take that step, once I take the leave of absence or quit again to cross that line…. it's over. I can't go back to 'normal,' and I can't count on presidential pardons like stupid-ass Magnes." She shakes her head. "Still don't understand how people like HIM get them and people like those of us on the damn bridge don't." There's a bitterness there.

"Because unlike you," Richard observes, resting his brow to hers as his features grow more discernable again, "He doesn't have any serious chance of doing anything. He's… relatively harmless, so nobody really cares enough to worry about him. You're effective. Connected. Dangerous. People like you don't get any free rides, lover." A sigh stirs on his breath, "And you can still be a cop and do this too. It's just harder than what you've been doing."

As she rests there, Elisabeth is quiet. And then she asks him softly, "And what's the worst that can happen to me, Richard? They torture me to death?" There's a soft snort. "Oh wait… been there, done that." Her tone is far, far more facetious than he knows she will ever in her life feel about it. "Later… when we wake up… let's talk about the harder, okay? Because I want all in. I need to be part of this fight, and if it tanks my career, love?" She pauses and says quietly, "Then so be it. I'd rather that not happen, but… just like the bridge, just like Arthur… some things are just too important."

"Okay." A faint chuckle stirs through her hair, the shadow that is Richard Cardinal admitting, "We're probably all going to end up either dead or hated by everyone for decades to come anyway, so, we might as well go the whole way, you know? Just figure out if this is really what you want. Not just because I'm really good in bed."

Elisabeth rolls her eyes and then elbows him. "I've had plenty of men who make good lovers, Richard," she retorts. "I may rely on your input because it helps me find perspective, but believe me when I tell you that there is not a man in this world who's good enough at fucking to sway me onto this path. Off it, maybe… if certain conditions applied… but certainly not ONTO it. That's one hell of an ego you have there."

Cardinal exhales a snort of breath, then grins down at her, "Of course it is. If I didn't have an ego this big, I certainly couldn't presume I could change the fucking future. I'm a ridiculous megalomaniac, hadn't you noticed?"

Elisabeth looks up at him, laughing. "I'm starting to realize." Though his face is only visible faintly in the shadow itself, she reaches up and cradles the side of his cheek. "You really are a complete jerk," she says affectionately. Her blue eyes are lightened of the usual more-serious expression and she has all of the softness of a girl just barely easing into maturity; the woman Richard knows is easily seen in the face that lacks the gentle laugh lines that time has begun to carve into the corners of her eyes, she just looks far more innocent here. "You don't have to stay," she offers with a brush of her thumb across shadowy lips. "I don't want you to be too tired when you wake."

"As if I sleep much anyway," Cardinal murmurs, looking back to her with a crook'd smile, "I'll be fine. So…" A teasing note weaves through his tone, "…had any wet dreams lately, Lizzy?" A pause for effect, "…want to?"

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