Who Wants To Live Forever?


vf_cardinal_icon.gif vf_elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Who Wants To Live Forever?
Synopsis How far can Elisabeth trust someone who, in another life, she trusted with everything?
Date December 8, 2011

Music Room, The Hub

It's funny, how one thing becomes so important when everything else goes to hell. For some people, it's their books or their Stuff… for Elisabeth it remains, as always, music. When she's not walking around getting to know the people of this enclave — who are a leery lot to be sure — she can either be found in the common room or the room that is being used as a music classroom. As the shadow of Richard Cardinal follows the blonde around the Hub, though, it might also surprise him to realize… she's aware of him. Or at least, if she's not, she's one hell of a paranoid woman, the way she occasionally pauses, glances around as if waiting for something or peers very deliberately into the darkness, and then goes on her way.

For her own part, Elisabeth isn't honestly certain what it is that prickles her neck periodically, except that she's learned to trust that instinct that she's not alone. Having a shadowmorph for a lover tends to make you exceedingly aware of shadows that aren't quite in the right place. But she's uncertain enough not to make a fool of herself either.

Having just finished a music lesson — and she's actually good at it. Careful with the kids who so badly want to play but clearly can't carry a tune or are all fumble-fingers, encouraging of all of them, and knowledgeable on what to give the more advanced ones to work on — she does as she usually does at the end of a lesson: she plays. The choice of a Queen song might not be what was expected, but her taste has definitely been eclectic in the time he's watched her. She doesn't sing as she often does; her fingers merely draw out the somewhat haunting bars of “Who Wants to Live Forever?”

"Who wants to live forever…?
Who wants to live forever…?
Who dares to love forever…
When love must die…"

A soft singing from behind her as her fingers move over those faux-ivory keys, the last notes trailing off with a quiet chuckle. "Always loved that movie," says Richard Cardinal, leaning back against the wall with arms folded over his chest, as surprising as he ever was, "I mean, aside from Sean Connery playing a Scotsman. I don't think anyone ever really bought that."

There's a moment where she fumbles the notes… and then resumes the bars of music until he hits the bridge. At which point, Elisabeth removes her hands from the keys. “It was a good movie,” she agrees quietly as she turns on the bench. “Although he was supposedly a Spaniard. Definitely no one was buying that. Nor him as a Russian.” Hunt for Red October was a decent enough movie as well, though, she supposes.

Blue eyes study him, the expression on her face shuttered to a careful neutrality. “You have a good voice. No Freddy Mercury, but…” She smiles slightly. “Not a slouch. What brings you by, Mr. Cardinal? Piano lessons to keep the fingers nimble?” The tease is gentle, though the amusement in her tone doesn't quite animate her face the way it should.

"That's what I meant," Cardinal's nose wrinkles a bit, shifting the sunglasses he's wearing inside, one hand motioning vaguely through the air, "I mean, he was a Scotsman, he was playing a— well, you got it. Sorry, I spent like two years without an organic brain, shit slips sometimes." A rueful but open smile, his hands spreading apart, "Go figure."

He pushes away from the wall, admitting as he comes up to lean against the edge of the piano and look down to her, "Just wanted to apologize if it was… something we said, when we met? You beat a pretty— hasty retreat. I mean, if you and that Magnes guy are— you know— didn't mean to insult him or anything. Haven't even met the guy yet."

How many times will she say this, Elisabeth wonders. “I'd rather eat glass.” The retort is almost pro forma at this point. “Magnes… is a good kid with a decent heart. And he might even be a genius. But he's also dumb as a box of rocks when it comes to shit like women. No thank you.”

Elisabeth offers a faint smile, and she adds quietly, “It wasn't anything either of you said. PTSD’s a bitch, that's all.”

"Ah. Say no more," Cardinal tips his head in a nod, "We've all got our problems. Locked up in this hole together, it's a surprise more of them aren't worse…"

He glances to the piano, then back to her, brows raising a little, "So you seem to've settled in pretty well. At least you've got something going, I think the other guy's just helping Ruiz with garbage or something…?"

What to say to that. Elisabeth lifts a hand to shove it through her cropped hair and considers her next words carefully. People are being told. We've already decided they'll need to be told. Does she want to tell him? Well, the answer is of course yes… except not really. Because he isn't the Richard Cardinal she needs or wants to talk to.

“I have no intentions of settling in at all,” she finally states quietly. “I'm just doing what I can to try to keep the kids from stressing until the point where either we all get to leave or we all die here in the hole. They've been dealt a shit hand and it's not fair. And this is about all I can do for them at this precise moment.”

"And… where are you going to go?" Cardinal's brow wrinkles up into lines as he looks down at her, then away as if looking for a door that's not there. Back to her, he cocks his head a little to one side, "Got some master plan to take out the Vs out there and the big K, because if so, I'd love to hear it?"

Wry, "No offense or anything, just… been down here too long to believe in fairy tales. Hope's a painful mistress."

“Nope… don't need to take them out. Just need to get the hell back home,” Elisabeth replies evenly, her tone quiet. “To do that… I've gotta put a few ducks in a row. So the question becomes, in my mind, whose skills will best serve my goal of getting all those kids the hell out of this place and far beyond the reach of Kazimir Volken? And can I convince the people with those skills to take the chance that I'm not lying to them?” She tilts her head. “What do you think that would take? To make you believe in a fairy tale… Richard Cardinal, who was confirmed under the very hated name Ezekiel?”

At those words, Richard pushes away from the piano sharply… his eyebrows crinkling together over his shades as he stares down at her. "That— have you been talking to Izzy?" She's the only one who'd know, here in the entire Hub, unless she told someone else. Why would she, though?

The faint smile is affectionate though Elisabeth doesn't let it show for long. “I have,” she confesses, “although that's not where I heard it.” Blue eyes follow his movements, and strangely enough she shows zero alarm at his abruptness, as if she has no fear of him. “You told me,” she tells him in a voice nearly a whisper. “In a world that's a half-step sideways through a portal Ruiz doesn't yet know how to tap into… we were friends. And commiserated over the affliction known as Confirmation names.”

At that whisper, Cardinal leans in a bit… his eyes narrowing behind his shades. There's a wariness to his stance, still, as he asks, "Prove it. Ezekiel's just a name, you could've gotten that from Izzy, or— someone else. Somewhere else." Challenging her, "If we were such good friends, tell me something else nobody'd know."

Elisabeth considers which information to offer here and her expression softens visibly. “You have a garden on the roof of the building at the corner of <makes you insert street names! :P>. You once told me you grew roses in that one, but the one down on top of the Library had vegetables.” There's a long pause. “You have a hidey hole apartment with the door welded shut near the Financial District… it's where you keep the photographs that you take of sunsets no one else except the men who built the New York skyline has ever seen, along with some small paintings from the museums around town that are your rainy day fund.”

It isn't completely accurate - in this time, Richard Cardinal never got to the library - but it's all close enough that he's left staring at her. He hadn't told anyone about his lair before — not a single soul in the world. "I… must have really trusted you," he frowns down at her, brow furrowing, "What the hell. Alright. Keep talking, lady."

Her blue eyes search his face, noting the differences that living like this for two years has wrought. Elisabeth’s words are quiet but they have a kind of weight to them, the way truth often does. “Ruiz’s portal doesn't go nowhere. I'm not sure where it does go usually, but somewhere. My home is, as I said, a world a half-step sideways from this one. The virus there… we stopped it before it got loose, so we don't have this. And we killed Kazimir Volken at the same time.”

She sighs heavily. “As always, someone else rose up to be the head asshole of the world. And while we were trying to rescue some friends from him… He activated a machine that, as stupid as it sounds, he thought would let him send a message to the past. So he could earn himself, you know? But… we broke part of the machine and when it fired, it interacted — we think — with Magnes’s power on our end and Ruiz’s on yours. And we got sucked through the portal and landed in your disposal chamber.”

Liz shrugs a little. “So now… we're fighting to figure out a way back home. And trying to take all of you with us.” There's a momentary pause and she asks, “Quantum Leap enough for you? I'm no Sam Beckett, but…”

And she waits to see if he’ll just laugh and leave.

There's no laugh, and no departure. Her information has earned her that much, perhaps.

There's also the fact that he already knew this, but he's doing a remarkably good job of hiding that little fact.

"And you think," Cardinal says carefully, "That you can… reproduce this event of yours? Do it again, open a door back, and escape this shitty hell that we're all locked in?" A pause, "What's Ed think your odds are like? I know you two have been talking to him. Gossip says that much."

The grapevine in a place like this, Liz figures, is better than Bensonhurst. And he confirms it, though he doesn't maybe realize it. Elisabeth nods slightly. “Well… I sincerely doubt he'd be encouraging Ruiz and Magnes to work on it if he thought it couldn't be done. Actual odds?” She shrugs at that.

“Do I think that we can do it?” Here she pauses and looks up at him, reaching up to tug his shaded slightly downward, just enough so she can see his eyes. “I don't know,” she tells him honestly. “But if it can be done once, it can be done again. Somehow. And I don't like your shitty world, and I'll be damned if I let these kids stay here one fucking moment longer than I have to. And if there is one thing I know will stand the test of worlds? It's that you won't let them keep suffering if you can help stop it either.”

"Heh." Richard cants his head, looking at her with dark eyes as she tugs those shades down. He's somehow younger than the Cardinal she remembers, and yet the years haven't treated him as well. Those eyes are almost entirely pupil, black depths that watch her back for a long moment.

"Alright," he offers with a shrug of one shoulder, "You caught me. I've taken the bait— so what's the hook and line? What do you need from me, lady?"

No argument about the shitty world they're in. It is one, after all.

“I need Gillian Childs. And I need you to be willing to do a little recon if we can locate her,” Liz tells him candidly. “After that?” She shrugs a little. “Maybe we can talk a little about whether you've developed your power enough here to take another person into the shadows and not just inanimate objects.” The tone of that last has a hint of a question to it, as if implying in her world, that's a given.

"No can do on the second one… just me, baby," Cardinal pushes those shades back up and sweeps his hands to either side, "A light only casts one shadow, after all." He points at her, "Recon, though? That, I can do. Just got to give me a target."

He smirks, "Anything's better than what waits for me here."

“Not sure I'd say anything,” Elisabeth comments, thinking about a world where he swallowed a nuclear weapon. “But I dare say we can definitely do better than this fucking place.”

Studying him thoughtfully, the blonde merely nods. “I can let you know when we have a target,” she murmurs. “And in the meantime… perhaps you can talk to Peyton about being willing to help as well. If she can see through Gillian’s eyes and verify that she's where we’re told, it would help.”

Turning back to the piano, her fingers don't begin playing again but it gives her something to look at besides him. “And yes… you do trust me,” she tells him. “There. But you don't know me from Adam here… so I expect at some point you'll be looking for a way to make sure your own goals are met. Please try not to get me killed when you make your move.”

"Maybe your Cardinal never told you…" A darksome smirk curls to Richard's lips, "I don't age when I'm a shadow, babe. Can you think of anything worse than haunting a dead planet from now to eternity? I can't…"

Then? Then he's giving her a confused look, "Wait, if Peyton can do what? What are you talking about?"

He doesn't what? “No, I really can't think of much else worse than that, you're right.” Elisabeth frowns at him and considers that bit of news, though it may not be clear which part has her frowning. “Peyton’s ability to see through other people’s eyes… she can't do that here?”

"Not… that…" Cardinal brings one hand up, then, in a very familiar gesture as he pushes the shades up to rub between his eyes, "…I know of. Well, I guess we gotta have a talk tonight."

Lucy, you got some 'splaining to do!

His hand drops, and he smirks back at her. "Look. I want out. Same as you. You get me and my people out, I don't see any issues with you, so as long as those both stay the same - everything's good, eh?"

Ohboy. Elisabeth’s nose wrinkles. “Weellll shit,” she drawls out. “Sorry about that,” she sighs. “It… never occurred to me she'd fuck you and not tell you something.” Not with the way Peyton wanted him. “As to the rest? I have no intention of leaving anyone behind, assuming we can actually make this work.”

At that, Cardinal lets out a bark of laughter. "Just because we're fucking doesn't mean we're soul-mates who tell each other every tiny little secret in our hearts," he observes with a smirk, waving the very idea away, "We're just— y'know."

Whatever that means.

"And I'm a realist here. Even if this crazy scheme of yours works…? Doubt everyone'll be able to come along." He fixes her with a steady look over the edge of the shades, stating firmly, "We do."

“If you're a realist, then you already know there are certain conditions under which that can't happen. Unless, of course, you want to wind up alone on a whole different, albeit likely nicer, world.” Elisabeth isn't going to pull punches with him and meets his gaze squarely. She could lie and tell him what he wants to hear. But she won't. “So… just as I'm going to have to trust you not to stab me in the back, you're going to have to decide for yourself if you can trust my word that I have no intention of letting anyone who can go get left behind.”

"Guess we'll just have to trust each other, then," Cardinal replies, a faint smile crooking to his lips - and he reaches out to tap a finger to the tip of her nose, "You're cute when you're determined. Alright…" He sweeps a bow, then steps back, "The game is yours. Let me know when you need me…"

"…to go find your friend." …find your friend. The shadows swallow him up, slithering in a twisting wash against the wall and then out the nearest door, the lights darkening and guttering for a moment with his passing.

She manages to keep her expression amused and neutral even when he touches her. It takes everything she has to not say anything when the shadow slips out. And then finally, slowly, she lets out the breath she's been holding for she doesn't even know how long, her trembling hands coming up to cover her face.

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