Your Arms Feel Like Home


cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Your Arms Feel Like Home
Synopsis Reunion.
Date May 25, 2010

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

"Come sit with me while I wait for the call?" Elisabeth asked, standing in the hallway of St. Luke's. "One way or another… it'll be done tonight."

Felix's expression went soft and he hooked an arm around Elisabeth's shoulders. "C'mon."

The choir loft of St. John's is colder than the rest of the church, for certain. But with its proximity to St. Luke's, where Felix was taking refuge from the cold, the building has a lot of overflow from the hospital. Which means it's heated better than a lot of places, and the high choir loft doesn't have anyone in it because it's farther from the generators and the space heaters. It affords Liz and Felix a little privacy.

It's been hours since the call came in that Richard was leaving to meet with Peter Petrelli. The bottle of wine is now empty, and Elisabeth is wrapped in a heavy sleeping bag leaning against the wall. Felix got a work-related call that he couldn't avoid and regretfully slipped out of the loft, but Elisabeth stays — she will sit here until the phone rings, because it's where she said she'd be and she doesn't want to worry her friends. And because alone in a choir loft, she can talk to God. She can beg and bargain and plead in a place that is appropriate.

The hours that've passed are ominous ones; shouldn't there have been some news by now? A call, or something, at the very least… unless something went wrong. It's the obvious conclusion, isn't it? A growing, nagging worry that wages war against hope and faith.

There comes a creak of boots on the stairs leading up to the loft. A man steps up into it, clad in baggy jeans and a puffy winter coat whose hood shades his features, garish crimson against the sober hues of the church. Hands tucked into the pockets of the coat, he takes a step over to the rail to look over the church, then back to the blonde wrapped in the sleeping bag up against the wall. A hint of a smile crooks itself to shadowed features as Richard observes casually, "You've got a thing for cold, high places, don't you, Liz? Rooftops, lofts… I mean, shit, why didn't you just wait out in the snow, as fuckin' cold as it is up here…"

She hadn't realized she was dozing off up here until the sound of boots roused her slightly. Opening those blue eyes, Elisabeth watches him step into the loft. Her hand inside the sleeping bag closes around the butt of the pistol that is in her lap because…. well, in the kinds of insanity that's going on in the city, a woman sitting alone even in a church can't be too careful. Her breath catches as she watches the oh-so-familiar gait of the lover she's been sitting vigil for, the hand holding the weapon going slack as she watches him walk to the railing without a word, fearing it's just a dream.

His words break the spell, though, and Elisabeth feels the weight lift off her chest so that her lungs finally expand again. "It's not so bad," she replies huskily, the struggle to keep her voice casual and level evident in the halting way the words come out. "There are heaters down below, and considering the outside temperature, 50 is practically tropical. And the sleeping bag is rated for 30 degrees." She still hasn't gotten up, though. Part of her is afraid if she moves, he'll just vanish.

"Oh, well, if you want to be all logical about it… sheesh, you're always trying to start fights," Richard sniffs in mock-offense, hands lifting up to curl about the edge of his hood to push it back. The side of his hand is marked with fingerprints and palm, skin blackened and withered slightly as if from some deep burn that scarred the flesh, although there's no evident weakness to it. His tan's gone; skin pale, pink, new, the edge of tattooing that used to show along the side of his neck missing. The features are his, though, the rogue-lopsided smile, the eyes as he steps over closer to where she's huddled up.

"There room for two over there? I'm a little sensitive to the cold right now… it's been awhile."

Elisabeth doesn't take her eyes off his face except to note the hand… and its scarred handprint, which is what makes her finally believe that it's him. "You can come in," she replies softly. "But, uhm…. " And to her horror, she can't stop the sudden flood of tears. "You're sort of g-g-g-going to have to d-d-d-d-deal w-w-with me being a g-g-g-g-girl for just a minute," she says in a hitching, shaking voice. One hand comes up to cover her mouth to stop the stutter from escaping… or perhaps to muffle the sob that she's trying to swallow, the other simply holds the sleeping bag open in invitation.

"Hey. Hey…" A step over, and Cardinal drops himself down to one knee beside her in the shielding warmth-shadow of the blanket, the playful facade falling away for a more fragile smile, his hand coming up — hesitating, as if afraid of something — and then grazing to her cheek, fingers and palm trembling subtly as they brush to the warmth. "…it's okay. S'me. God, it's good to — good to touch you, Liz…"

Reaching up, Elisabeth cradles her hand around his and then wraps her arms around his shoulders at the same time that she tries to scramble to her knees to get higher. The heavy sleeping bag falling to puddle around them, exposing the fact that she's wearing heavy clothes beneath the sleeping bag that also help to keep her warm and causing the pistol in her lap to land with a heavy *thunk* in the folds of blanket. "It worked. Oh God, you're really here." The hug might as well be a stranglehold. For this moment, she forgets to ask how Gillian and Peter are. All she can think of is wrapping herself around him and holding on as tightly as possible. She'll get it under control — she doesn't like to be weak, and crying like a child is about as weak as it gets to her way of thinking.

"It worked." Cardinal's words are muffled in her hair as he wraps his arms around her, drawing her in against his chest fiercely, eyes closing as he draws in the scent of her. That's something else that he missed, the ability to smell. Of course, Richard doesn't cry. He's a guy, after all, and guys don't cry. So long as his face is unseen, he's got plausible deniability. "It worked. I'm here, baby…"

The feel of him solid against her is the answer to prayer. She buries her face against the heavy coat encasing his shoulder and trembles in those arms. Long minutes…. hell, it could be days later for all Liz can tell … she pulls back just far enough to look up at him. One hand slips from around his neck to cradle a cheek. "God, you are a sight for sore eyes, Richard. I love you."

As that palm rests against his cheek, Richard leans into the touch of it, turning just enough to graze his lips against the heel of her hand. "I love you too," he murmurs, his own hand sliding against her cheek in a warm contact, thumb grazing along her lower lip as he looks down into her eyes, lips twitching in a wry half-smile, "And c'mon. I'm not that good-looking."

Now she can finally laugh. Though the evidence of her tears still sparkles on her lashes, Elisabeth face lights up. "No…. no, you're just butt ugly. I don't know why I love you." The freedom to say it out loud just seems to have gone to her head. And then she gets one of those exasperated looks, a flash of hurt and anger and disgust flitting across her face for a moment. "Goddamn you!" she says as she thumps him — hard!! — on the shoulder. "Goddamn you for not telling me and for fucking dying on me! You promised!" She's not yelling. In fact, her tone is far more gentle than the two wallops he takes, the second on the word 'promise'.

Just how long has she been storing that up for? A sharp grunt at the punch to his shoulder, and Cardinal pulls back a bit, a hand raising up in protest as he exhales a bit of a chuckle, "I didn't die, did I? I'm right here, aren't I? C'mon… gimme a break, lover…"

"I gave you a break," Elisabeth retorts softly. "I didn't yell at you when you were dying in little tatters of shadow right before my eyes where I couldn't even touch you or hold you or offer any kind of comfort at all. You deserved that." She does cut him slack, though — apparently those two blows are the only ones she'll make him take at the moment. Leaning forward to rest her forehead against his cheek, she slides her arms back around him once more. "Before I kiss you stupid, are Gillian and Petrelli all right?" she asks quietly. Because once the kissing starts, there is no way in hell there's going to be any talking.

Cardinal slides a hand along her shoulder and neck, cradling her in close, a kiss pressed against her temple — eyes closing as he presses in against her side, the other hand reaching to drag the sleeping bag more around them. He's still shivering — trembling, just a little. Maybe not entirely from the cold. "They were alright last I saw them," he says quietly, "They were headin' off with Peter's new… friends."

When she feels him shaking, Liz finally comes to her senses — he's been without sensation for months, and it's fucking cold still. She moves to sit down, to settle them both in the sleeping bag that is still warm with her body warmth, snuggling in beneath his arm where she can rest her head and they can both just exist for a while. "New friends?" she queries softly.

"Knox was there." A press of Cardinal's lips against her temple, and he exhales a stir of breath through her hair, eyes closing as he curls in more fully against her for warmth, "Risa, too. Looks like Claire'll have her uncle's company…"

Both eyebrows shoot upward. "Uh…. okay." Elisabeth draws that out and seems to be somewhat startled. She'd thought Peter was well out of the game. But Messiah's little message is far too close to Pariah's message, and now that makes some amount of sense. Interesting. She's grateful that both Petrelli and Gillian are all right. Just for however long they're sitting here, with that little bit settled and no one hurt, she pushes all the rest of everything else out of the way to simply exist here in this place and time. "I'd invite you home, but I don't think I have heat yet," she says finally as they start to warm back up.

"Yeah, that's what I said… well, I would've," Cardinal's voice is quiet, rueful as he admits, "I was a little—distracted at the time. Still, it's more've an in with them, y'know?" It's hard to think about business right now, though, so he just curls in against her, arms around her and temple resting to temple, murmuring, "I'll probably go impose on Cat, or Zarek, until things warm up… guess they dealt with Liette's sister."

"I guess they did," Elisabeth says softly. "I don't know what actually happened. I just know it's 80 degrees warmer than it was three days ago, and I can't be sorry about that. I know there's some concern that the Grand Central area may flood. Hell, the library may flood," she says on a sigh. "We need to get your artwork out of the basement levels before that happens. I don't know what damage they may have incurred through cold, but…" Where they originally were is no better.

"Alright." They may need a new central headquarters in general, Cardinal realizes. The storm's shown the weakness of the library, and it's a purely elemental one. His eyes close, and he murmurs, "We'll figure out how to handle it."

"Later," Liz replies. Her tone is gentle and firm. She can feel him relaxing bit by bit, and getting warmer. "Right now, I think I'd rather sit right here and not move. It's not as soft as a bed, but just about now…. it's heaven," she admits in a whisper as she turns her face into his neck again, just breathing in the scent of him, feeling the solid warmth of him for the first time in month. She honestly didn't think he was going to make it. She's been sitting here praying all evening, shoring up her emotional reserves, expecting the phone to ring with Gillian on the other end to tell her that it failed.

"Flatterer." Cardinal rubs his nose against her brow, smiling lips felt in a graze against the skin there. One hand buries in her hair, fingers curling in blonde locks as he whispers, "I'm fine with right here for awhile."

It seems like an eternity since he walked through that doorway, and Elisabeth has run the gamut of emotions. Shock, disbelief, relief, anger, back to relief. Finally calming from the storm, Elisabeth tips her chin upward and kisses his jaw softly. There isn't an urgency to it; it is a simple welcome.

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