2007-08-21: DF: From The Heart


DFCass_icon.gif Ramon_icon.gif


August 21st, 2009:

From the Heart

Phoenix Towers

The kitchen isn't really a good place for a baby. There are knives and hot things, but it also has the refrigerator and the stove for hot water. Which is really what Cass needs. Tea and Abigail, what else could be better? Even if she's been out and about and doing everything Lee has asked her with her statement, she still wants some playtime with her baby. A pad of paper with a pen has been pushed aside to make room for Abby to be placed on the table. Making funny faces and tickling her daughter's feet, she coos and makes baby noises that /almost/ match Abby's giggles.

*I'm at the door. May I come in?* Ramon sort of mentally knocks by 'shouting out'. *If now's not a good time I can go away.* Rather than say, knocking on the door, and making her get all the way up to answer it and then having to play polite, he just lets her know who he is. Then she can decide and he can melt away if she thinks loud enough that no, she wants to cuddle her baby and not deal with him right now.

"Come in, Ramon," Cass calls out, not even turning her head from her baby. Instead, she just tickles the girl's feet some more. A happy gurgling emits from the girl's mouth and her arms wave in circles. She's starting to become more and more aware of her surroundings. Even if she /could/ answer telepathically, it seems friendlier to just speak it. "This is a perfect time."

The door opens, shuts behind him, and in the man comes. He sits down at the table. *Can I hold the baby soon?* If he's noticed that he's just quit talking in favor of talking mind to mind constantly, he doesn't show it. It doesn't seem to be an entirely conscious choice on his part. Though…this way he sounds a lot more in control of himself, as if the act of having to use his powers to speak means he has to reign his wild emotions in to function. Maybe that is the whole point.

That could be the whole point, but that doesn't mean that Cass is going to bring it up. Instead of having an entire conversation where no one speaks, she keeps up the verbal communication. This is the time where Abigail can actually start to discern noises and she wants to give her girl as much help as she can. "Of course." Gently, she supports Abigail's head and then holds her over to for Ramon to hold onto. She doesn't have to worry about Ramon knowing how to hold onto the girl. She knows that he does. "I'm supposed to make a statement about what's been going on at the camps." It's hard to do small talk with her friend these days.

Ramon cuddles the baby with one of his rare smiles. But he won't talk mind to mind to a baby. That's asking for trouble. "Are you being a good sweet girl to your mother?" he rasps, sounding very gentle as he stands up to bounce her. "Beautiful baby girl." Don't tell anyone. Just don't. His eyes go somber as he holds the baby so that her little head can rest on his shoulder. Now he's started talking regularly, so he drops back into it, if only for fear that touching him will cause overflow in the baby. "What are you going to say?"

Once Ramon smiles, Cass can't help but grin back. Resting her elbows on the table, she folds her hands and puts her chin on them. It's good to see Ramon smile. It doesn't happen often enough. Not that she can blame the man. "She is always a good sweet girl for her mom. Even when she cries through the night." It's her daughter and will always be the apple of her eye. "I'm not sure. I want everyone to listen, but I don't want to seem like I'm being overdramatic. I may just lay out the facts." She sighs. "Remember two years ago? When you were worried you were being overprotective? I think I finally understand."

"Heh." Ramon looks at Cass, putting his cheek gently on the baby's head. The good cheek. "You speak from the heart. People will believe what they want to believe as they always do, but more will believe if you speak from your heart. From there…you've done all you can do, with courage. Who can ask anything else?"

Watching Ramon cuddle her child, Cass smiles, tilting her head a little. "That's what I want to do. What I always try to do. It's just…" She pauses, shakes her head. "It's just so /hard/ nowadays. How does anyone live with what they've had to do, what they've had to live through, what they've had to become to survive? I think back about the person I was, the person I used to be and I think if she saw me now, she would leave the country and never look back. Hopefully she'd take Abby with her."

Ramon is very quiet to that. Finally he says, "I know what you mean. If you ever want to leave, Cass, you and Lachlan have but to say the word. We'll get you out, and say well done while we do. You've sacrificed plenty, and you've got your little girl to think of." His eye tightens. No more dead children.

"I…" Cass frowns. "This statement is the last official thing I'm doing as second in command of the Alliance." She sounds sad, drained and almost unhappy about what she just said. "I talked to Elena about it. We can't stay here. Abigail needs a future. We can't give her one here." With shaking hands, she runs her hands through her long brown hair. "I thought…I thought I wasn't going to make it out of that place, Ramon. That I was never going to see anyone ever again." Her tone is soft and she can't look at him while he says it. "There's…there's something I want you to do for me. I trust you more than just about anyone I can think of. You've always been there for me. Always managed to give me steady footing. Ever since I've known you. Ever since that very first time you stepped into Enlightenment Books with Elena." She pauses, finally bringing her eyes up to meet his. "Can I ask you a favor?"

"Of course." Ramon looks very seriously down at Cass, and brushes some hair away from her face. "You have a special place in my heart, Cass. You helped me unconditionally, unselfishly, and I had brought you no reasons to. And though I love my Desiree very dearly, and hope only to see her again someday, I do not forget that the very first woman who made me want to love again, live again, was you. Ask."

As has been happening to her far too much lately, Cass' eyes tear up at the tender gesture. However, unlike most of the time, the tears do not spill over onto her cheeks and she manages to just blink them back to just blurring her vision. Gingerly, she reaches out and puts a hand on his cheek. "How could I not? You were so obviously a good man. A decent man. Someone who needed some kindness in his life. And no matter what may happen, you will always be that good man who only wants to protect his family." What he's just confessed makes what she has to say next a little awkward to ask, but she has to. "A long time ago, Peter painted the future. It looked a lot like this. And I wasn't around to see it get better." There's a short pause, but what she has to get everything out. "You've always been my safety net. I was hoping you wouldn't mind being so for me this one last time. Just in case."
An expression of pain crosses Ramon's features, but he smooths it over. "You want me to get them to safety. Lachlan and Abigail," he says slowly. "You want me to make sure that Lachlan raises her instead of going on some vengeance quest. If you fall."

The look of pain isn't missed, and Cass rubs her thumb on Ramon's cheek before she pulls back. "Believe me, I'm hoping this is all me being paranoid." She gives her friend a bit of a reassuring smile. "But, I just need to know that if anything does happen, they're taken care of." Her eyes trail down to Abby from Ramon's face before returning to hold his gaze. "I've talked to Ali about making sure he leaves if something happens." The woman who can make anything happen with her voice. "I was actually…" She fumbles for something in her pocket, something she's carried around, waiting for a chance to get to talk to Ramon alone. It's a small silver key. "It's Box 423. In Grand Central Station. It'll explain."

The man takes the key and curls his large hand around it. Then he pulls out a silver chain with his cross on it. He slides the key onto the chain, taking the cross, and presses the cross back into her hand as he clips it around his neck. He just…wants her to have the little silver crucifix. "It will be done exactly as you say," he rumbles, staring into her eyes. He is not optimistic enough to believe the darkest of the paintings will not come true. So he carefully puts Abigail down in the safest place he can find and hugs Cass, looking up to guard against some explosion of wild emotion. People need him to step up and get strong again. He's got to find his way home somehow.

Cass has never been very religious. She believes in the good of people and the good of the world and that that was enough to believe in. Even now she hope that this is all just a farce. In fact, she feels a little guilty for putting something else like this on one of her closest friends after he has been through so much. Her hand tightens around the crucifix, not protesting the absurdity of a former Occult Bookstore owner wearing a crucifix. She understands he's not giving her just a crucifix. Hugging Ramon tightly, she says very quietly, "Thank you, Ramon." Trying to permeate the words with her appreciation, her love of their friendship, all the fondness she has for him. She's not sure how else to express her feelings. He was always the strongest out of all of them.

Well, not lately, but he's trying. He strokes her hair in silence for a moment, like he might Elena's or a sister's. In spite of his words he long ago relinquished any romantic claim on her, and he is faithful to Dezi on top of it. But love is a multifaceted thing, and he can feel it for his friend without it having to be romantic at all. "If he won't go," he decides at last, "If he breaks Ali's compulsion and refuses to get out of the line of fire…I'll take your child myself. I'll do as Elena wishes, and take her to the islands, and raise her." He's already having to take the tactic of pouring resources instead of more and more fruitless personal effort into the search for Dezi, and Nathan, well…Nathan is probably going to have to look to Nathan. All at once his suicidal compulsions to plunge into that snake den disappear.

Even lately, Cass would proclaim Ramon as being stronger. There's no awkwardness or belief that Ramon holds any sort of unrequited love affair for her. She knows how much he loves his wife. Their love is one out of a deeply respected friendship. Of seeing each other through some of the worst times of each of their lives. "Just…keep them safe. I can keep going, do whatever needs to be done if I know the two of them are safe. Know that Abigail will have a future." Even if she doesn't. If Lachlan should go off the deep end, if he's unable to be rescued, gets himself killed in the search for revenge, she knows that Abigail will be taken care of. That she will be raised by someone who loves her.

"You have my word," Ramon says. "If I am stopped from carrying it out, it will be because I am imprisoned or dead." He steps back from her. "Where will the baby be while you give your talk, Cass?" He needs to know these details, now more than ever.

Cass nods. She knows that Ramon's word is law, won't be broken if he has anything to do about it. "With Lachlan. I don't know when Lee wants me to give the speech, or if I'll even be the one taping it. I just need to make sure what I found out is written down and on paper. I'm hoping to finish it all within the next day or so. Then we can start preparing to leave the country." And once they're out of the country, a future that shows her dead in Manhattan cannot come to pass. That's the plan, anyway.

"And where will he be?" Ramon asks. "Are there major planned location changes between then and leaving the country? Are people like Lee going to be informed that you've selected me to carry out your wishes should the time comes? I still feel responsibility for those kids, even now, so I'd don't want to have to shoot his knees so I can do my job if that's what it comes down to."

There's a wry grin. "I talked to Lee about leaving the country. He knows that the Saints are helping. Other than that, there aren't any big plans. The statement, packing up, and getting out." Cass shakes her head. "Honestly, Ramon, I haven't had the chance to think out any details yet. Elena's handling most of our paperwork, Lee is making sure we can immigrate into Scotland without any red flags." That's all she can get for right now. "I'm just trying to keep my head above the water. I'll make sure my wishes are known."

"Alright," Ramon says. He picks the baby up again and wanders to a couch. He sits down, just enjoying the feeling of a baby, an innocent life. Something clean. Something pure. A miracle. Alive. He takes off his eyepatch, revealing the mangled half of his face, and leans back, closing his other eye. He's not ready to leave yet, but they've wound to the end of what he can manage to say without breaking. "I won't stay much longer," he promises. But he looks all set to doze with the baby in his arms, to just…exist in that innocence for a bit.

Abigail does that to people. Babies do in general. They bring out the best in people, the most innocent. Having already seen Ramon's face without his eyepatch on, the scars and marring don't phase her at all. Instead, she picks up her pad of paper and her pen and shifts to sit on the couch next to her friend and her daughter. "Stay as long as you like," she tells him with a soft smile. It's good to see him at some sort of peace. And she can use the time to try and use his advice to speak from the heart.

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