2007-08-12: DF: Never The Right Time


DFElena_icon.gif Eric_icon.gif

Summary: In the wee hours of the morning, Elena visits her family in the crowded, long-since abandoned cemetery in the city. Eric follows her, and the two can't help but talk about the past while being surrounded by their respective ghosts.

Dark Future Date: August 12th, 2009

Never The Right Time

Abandoned Graveyard, Somewhere in New York

It was raining.

Upon arrival back to headquarters, it was already late. The wee hours of the early morning of August 12th. Getting out and finding out what they have about what happened to Cass, Elena waits for a while, doing what she can during the briefing. And once the Saints convene for the night, she doesn't address anyone. And she doesn't tell anyone where she was going. The security cameras, however, pick her up leaving and checking out UberBinky to go out for a drive.

The cemetery was crowded, more and more bodies were just being dug into the Earth. Save for small patches of grass around, flowers and bushes didn't grow anymore. It was as desolate as some of the more ravaged parts of New York. A single, black crow sits on top of the statue of a weeping angel, cawing into the dark, before flapping away when she brushes past it to get where she needs to go. Somewhere on the cemetery grounds is an old chapel, decrepit as well. People have stopped visiting it a while ago.

She knows exactly where they are.

Reaching the three gravestones, situated near the foot of a hill bearing a single, dead tree, she crouches low on the ground to wipe off the mud seeping in the edges of the markers. Catalina Gomez, died at 40, beloved wife and mother. Luis Gomez, died at 14, beloved son and brother. Juanita Gomez, died at 10, beloved daughter and sister.

She stands up again, letting the rain wash off her muddy hands, and then slides her hands in her pockets. Her hair soaks through. She doesn't really feel the cold, and she didn't bother with an umbrella.

Why did it always have to be raining?

She was right though, no one visited. No one without a purpose. The kids that used to like to frequent Graveyards didn't want to brave the darkness anymore. The people didn't come to visit loved ones, they didn't want to be depressed by the ruins that are all that was left of dreams.

It’s depressing. It makes people remember all that they have given up.

As she stands there though, the rain falling down on her head is suddenly cut off and a presence appears at her side. It’s a familiar presence, one she knows well enough. One that had the forethought to actually bring an umbrella.

"…I thought I'd find you here." Eric says softly, not looking at her as he stands next to her, his eyes on the cut stone in front of her.

Someone else was here.

She didn't even sense him approach either. The life signal just appeared. Elena doesn't know many who can teleport, but with the fact that half of New York was always shrouded in the dark, she only knew of one man who would take the trouble to find her and use the state of the city to his advantage. "You didn't have to follow me here," she says, her voice low and quiet - as if afraid to wake the dead. "No one else knows I come here every night, except for Prime."

She continues after a few moments. "I used to just come here every two weeks. Talk to Mama and let her know how things were doing with everyone. Now I come here every day because I'm terrified I'd forget them. Where I came from. I think…there's a point when people like us just get in so deep they can't see the opening of the hole they fell through anymore."

She turns to look at him, her dark eyes shadowed under the darkness of the umbrella. "Did Prime put you up to this?" she asks. "Following me around all the time when he can't do it himself. I noticed. It's my job to notice things like that. I know I never looked like much, but I'm a big girl now, Eric."

Shadow-walking isn't quite teleporting, but its close enough isn't it. He just stepped right out of the darkness. It’s his element, and with the state of the city it does help his ability to move about unseen. "…no, I didn't have too…" He agrees after a moment, with a slight shrug of his shoulder. "…and I didn't know you were coming here every night…" He adds after a moment. "I just thought you would want to talk to them before the big to do," He adds with a slight smile.

"…I wanted to talk to mine," He adds after a moment’s hesitation.

He lets her talk though before he sighs and shakes his head. "…you don't forget. At least I don't…I can't," He adds quietly. If he forgets, no one is left to remember. He can't allow that to happen. "…though I understand that feeling. Sometimes you want to forget."

He still isn't looking at her, though there is a slight half smile on his face. "…Prime? Would he do something like that?" He adds before he shakes his head though. "You always looked like something Elena…but I know you’re a big girl now. That doesn’t stop me from worrying now does it?"

"Sometimes. But I really don't." Elena turns her eyes away from him as she watches the rain splatter all over the gravestones of her loved ones. "I go late at night because it's quiet, and people won't see me. Most people can't see in the dark." Eric can, because of his gift. "And you should - I'm sure your father would like to hear from you." She shakes her head. "I wonder…sometimes…when things got so bad now I can't even bring my own mother flowers just because someone might start wondering who's been putting fresh blossoms on a grave and spy."

She can't help but quirk a smile. "No, it doesn't."

She looks up, though she can't see the sky. All she sees is the expanse of Eric's umbrella. "Sometimes I feel as if all I have left away from the rest of you are ghosts. And people wonder why I'm so obsessive over the state of all of you. It's just like you said….I'd give it all up. But I'm not rich so I don't have much. Just me. I'd give up all of me, to watch the rest of you happy."

She pauses again, sliding her hands in her pockets. There's a long bout of silence as she watches the gravestones quietly. And when she speaks up again, her voice is soft and serious. "Ali likes you," she tells him. "If you ever get sick of waiting….you should think about it. I know I've given you enough questions and what-ifs over the last two years and with things getting worse it just feels like there's never going to be the right time. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way. I once told Heidi I was too romantically stupid to be with anybody. I…just want to see you happy. All of you. Like I said, I'd grind my own bones and heart to dust for it to happen."

"I've been so very busy since I've been back I haven’t been able to visit," Eric replies softly. "…he would understand." He adds as he sighs and shakes his head. A pause then before he smiles easily. "…maybe my company should just start creating memorial gardens for some of the graveyards around the city." He murmurs. "That would be some flowers at least now wouldn't it?" And no way of tracing things really.

"Got you to smile, one for my side."

He is quiet again before he sighs and shakes his head. "…you still have your brother, your father." He adds softly. "That’s something at least right?" Glancing down at her he shakes his head slightly. He can't really think of anything to say for a moment. Give it all up? Even her life? Everything she had left.

Suddenly he isn't feeling very much like smiling anymore.

"…for someone so damn smart you can be amazingly stupid at times," He adds with a shake of his head. "Grind yourself to dust just to make us happy? You really think that would? You really think that anything like that would make any of us remotely happy?" His voice is low and hard, something just above a snarl. "Any of us? Jack? Prime? Peter?" There is a pause before he adds. "Me?"

He shakes his head. "It wouldn't."

"Romantically stupid, that’s pretty apt for any of us," He adds though with a slight recovery of his smile. "…I kinda figured she did like me." He adds after a few moments. "…to be honest I don't know what I feel half the time anymore. It’s too complicated. The time too crazy. The chance for dying too high. Part of me wants to never take the chance…part of me wants to just take what I can from the moment and damn the future…we might not have one anyway."

He sighs once more before he finally looks down at her and smiles. "…you can't make me happy Elena." He pauses, and then he smirks. "…you're right, romantically stupid. We both are. I simply want you to be happy…you want me to be happy. What irony eh?"

"Nah. Just a chance for it to happen. There are no guarantees anymore." Elena rocks back on her heels. "Maybe you're right, me being stupid about that. But Ali can at least laugh and still do something fun. Trina has Jack and she'll never. Ever. Let go of him in this life. Gene….this is the sort of environment in which he thrives. What he does is important, and he likes being needed. Being able to solve problems. Prime has me around, so it gives him an anchor - truth be told, there are some parts of him even I can't reach these days. But if Jack isn't there, I'm left to make the hard decisions so nobody else has to. I envy Trina, Ali, and Gene….they've managed to hold parts of their old selves still. There are some things, horrible things, that they -won't- do for the cause. I envy that in a way…I had to lose that around the time I thought I lost you forever. Again."

Yeah Eric, it's not the FIRST TIME you died on her. Jerk.

When he tells her he can't make him happy, she turns her eyes away. She knew that, deep down. In some way, it still hurt to hear it. The distance helped, with him in a hospital and her being a leader here. But now that he was BACK….it was like nothing changed. There was still…

But if she can't, why is he WAITING? It didn't make any sense. Maybe it did all culminate to the entire romantically stupid part. He could've fooled her - when it came to THAT STUFF, he was more adept at it than she was. With the things he said and the things he did. "In a way I am. I don't mean to sound like I'm not. The way things are it could be worse. I could be alone. But I'm not. And partly because -you- won't let me." She looks at him sidelong and the edges of her smile quirks upwards a bit.

"…no she won't," Eric replies about Trina and Jack, a smile returning to his face. He sighs slightly as he glances away from the girl in the shadow of his umbrella. "…sometimes I envy them." He adds softly. "Though at the same time I'm rather happy for them. So…" Now he glances back towards her. "…who is your anchor? All of the Saints?" He asks curiously now. He frowns slightly then before he sighs and shakes his head. "…all of us have parts of our old selves left. Some of us just have them buried more than others." His eyes narrow slightly as she speaks. "…as second in command that’s something you have to do. Something that you'll have to deal with." Will she though. Will she or will she run away again. He doesn’t think she will…not this time.

He sighs and shakes his head. "…at least you didn't have to see me afterwards this time," Eric says softly. He wasn't pretty at all. He is quiet though before he sighs. "…I'm sorry…" He adds after a moment. "…I told you as soon as you could…" Then he smirks slightly. "…and I've come back both times haven’t I?"

…there was still what?

No. She can't make him happy. It’s not in her power to /make/ anyone happy. It’s not in anyone’s power. …well…wait. Yes it is, but that’s a false happy. It’s up to a person to make himself happy.

No. It didn't make any sense. Did it ever have to make sense? Romance and all that. "…I'll never let you be entirely alone Elena," He offers with a slight sigh. Just like he'll never stop caring about her. "I can't help it. It's how I'm wired…I'd ask for forgiveness, but I don't feel very sorry for it." Turning slightly towards Elena though he glances down at her with a slight smile on his face. "…Elena…let me rephrase what I said…I mean you /can/ make me happy…but you won't. Not right now." He smirks slightly. "You’re wired against it." He shrugs slightly, thoughtfully.

Why is he waiting? Because he's in love with her. Geeze, man.

He smiles then. "…besides. You don't really want to be alone do you?"

"I don't. It's JACK. Who the hell would want to sleep with that old codger, let alone marry him?" Elena scoffs - but it was a rare thing, to hear her joke. She tries to keep a straight face, but he'll catch that brief, mirthful gleam in her eyes. She holds all affection for Jack in the world. Losing him would probably open Pandora's Box to those who took him from her. But when he asks her who her anchor is, she falls quiet. When she speaks up, her voice is soft. "I think I've invested so much time maintaining the way I am because I'm terrified of losing anybody. When Luis and Juanita died, and when my stepmom just vanished, I….I thought I was never going to make it. Especially seeing how Papa…." Ramon woke up at night, screaming hoarsely over some memory. Her father had his own ghosts to torment him. "But I did because I realized the curse of anyone in a protector's position is to endure. No matter what's been lost."

She looks at Eric, meeting his eyes. "Have you ever known me to stop moving forward? It's not in me. And now I can't afford to more than ever."

When he apologizes, she shakes her head. "It's not your fault people tried to kill you," she reminds him flatly. "But you came back from the ashes anyway, every time they kill you, you just come back. Just like a phoe— " There's a pause. And then, there's a sudden laugh. "Phoenix Rising," she says, rubbing her face and burying it there, cheeks turning pink with embarrassment. Because she JUST REALIZED WHY Eric named his properties the way he did. "Sorry. I must've REALLY BEEN preoccupied."

When he says what he does, she looks at him and….she doesn't say anything for a while. Who COULD say anything to that? He was calling her on her shit, and she deserved it. She knew he was right. She COULD if she wanted. She could do ANYTHING if she put her mind to it, but she doesn't because… "I can't do that to you," she tells him, meeting his eyes steadily. "Shunt you aside to put the Saints first. I don't….want anyone in that position in my life to feel like he has to be second to something. That's not how it should be. People deserve more than that. After -everything- you've done for everybody. For me. You deserve better than that."

Falling quiet, her head shakes and she expels a breath. "I'm sorry," she tells him. "Over everything. When you died the second time I thought….I'd been…" She inhales. "I've been so stupid over you. Peter. I've been so stupid over both of you."

"…see, you can still laugh," Eric replies with a wink. Yes. Loosing Jack would lose hellfire and brimstone on whoever did it. The Saints would bring their wrath against who did it. Wrath like they had never seen before. He falls quiet though as she speaks, his eyes sliding away from her as she talks. Losing people. He closes his eyes again as he sighs. "…I wish I could have helped." He murmurs softly. He lost everyone that really mattered in one night, he knows how she feels. "…but…if you’re frightened of loosing anyone…then they win." He adds with a smile before he smirks slightly, raising his hand to brush his thumb against her cheek. "…you made it. So will I. So will the rest of us."

"…no…You have never stopped going forwards, especially when you had a purpose and a goal. It’s something I always admired about you."

He pauses a moment, laughing for a moment, a soft and easy laugh. "…you just figured that out did you?" He says with a smirk coming to his face. "…oblivious to the obvious, just like always. Yes, that’s why I named the company that. I thought it was pretty obvious to everyone in the know."

Now it’s his turn to fall silent as she speaks, after all she was admitting it all. What was he supposed to say to that. He can meet her look. He won't be the first to turn away. Watching her as she speaks he finally draws a breath that turns into a deep sigh. "…somehow I thought you were going to say something like that." He grins slightly, trying to find a smile in this. "So I'm too good for you hrmmm?"

The smile fades though as she admits it and he sighs. "…well…yes you have." Not letting her off the hook in the least. "…at least you realize it though." He falls silent for a long moment before his eyes slide closed.

"…you don't have to apologize." He finally says, breaking the descending silence. "…I'm the one that died." He adds with a ghost of a smile. He pauses a moment before he pulls a small something, a folded envelope, out of the pocket of his weather-beaten jacket. It’s a plain envelope, but there is something heavy inside, the shape of a key visible though the thin paper.

"For when there is no need of Saints like us."

"I'm sorry." And Elena can't help but mean it. "How would….how could we function if I'm doing the things I do?" She looks over at Eric then, her lips pressed in that same, soft line whenever she's being serious. Very serious. "When I'm consistently putting everything first before what's going on in my life personally? I don't want to end up treating you that way, and I don't think you do either." She can't help but laugh hoarsely afterwards. "Jack can do it but he's an exception to the rule….there's only been Trina. And he's been on command duty lately, more of an organizer than a field man these days. But save for them do you see the other Saints being involved?"

Save for Jack and Trina, no one's really involved with anyone else. Not Prime, or Gene…not those who are members of the inner sanctum anyway. The cause consumed their lives like nothing else. And outsiders were difficult to trust.

When Eric doesn't let her off the hook on running away from him and Peter both two years ago, she nods, meeting his eyes unflinchingly. She spent a good chunk in the first few months of all of this wallowing in her mistakes and regretting every one. She's made her peace with them in order to function. She was a human being after all, she wasn't perfect.

When he draws out the envelope, and hands it to her, she blinks and reaches out to take it. She looks a little confused, glancing down on the wrinkled, white paper and the shape of the key within. Part of her was afraid to ask what it was. "…this….better not be a box holding your will, Eric," she says, looking up at him again. "I mean it. Nothing like that." She's already got last requests from someone else. She doesn't know if she could handle Eric's too.

Eric sighs slightly and shakes his head. "…Elena…" He smiles at her for a moment, she is being serious but she can tell that he is as well. The look in his eyes, the set of his shoulders. "…I'm not asking you to not function, I'm not even asking you to give me an answer. Hell, I'm not even asking for an apology." He pauses a moment. "I appreciate it though. I know what you have to do, I know what I have to do…I know…that it’s impossible for the moment."

The admission though is enough to make him turn away, frustration written plain on his face. His hands clench for a moment before he forces himself to relax again. He knows it is, but that doesn’t mean he likes it. It just means he is forced to live with it.

He controls himself finally though before he looks back towards her. "…what I'm asking, all I'm asking, is that you don't run away again. I know you won't with Peter, but…" He smirks. "…you cheat. I know you cheat. You could figure out some damn crafty way to stick me in a position where you could run I can't easily follow you." He pauses then before he adds. "…if the time comes when things are better. Do me a favor and take your own advice?" A smile then towards her.

At the question and the look on her face that’s half fierce and half fragile he blinks and shakes his head, the smile coming back. This one warm, gentle almost. "…Elena. I would never think to do that to you. No…it’s not a will. It’s…" He pauses a moment and smirks. "…no. It will be a surprise. It’s not a will though it’s not anything like that." He pauses a moment before he thinks to add.

"…geeze. You really think I'd let /you/ deal with a will? I have lawyers for that!"

"I know….it's like." Elena reaches up, her hands raking through her wet hair in a quiet show of frustration herself. "It's like… everything has changed but this. This entire thing was, I thought, put to bed two years ago but it looks like it's not going to remain the case. I'm not…I'm not angry about it, I just…like I told you before, back then, it feels like there's never going to be the right time." She tucks the envelope into her back pocket, her eyes lowering to the gravestones.

When he asks her not to run away again, she falls quiet. "I…" She exhales a breath. "I know. I cheat, but you know why these days. When I play, I have to play to win. Otherwise…." Otherwise… she didn't even want to know the consequences of failure. She looks back over at him. "I will. At the very least, I can promise you that. That I'll take my own advice when things are better. I promise. After everything, it's the least I can do for you, yeah?"

She turns around fully so she's facing him, and when he says what he does… she relaxes. "Okay," she says, and unmistakable relief washes over her tense expression. "Whew. Good. Otherwise I'd have to punch you," she says, looking at him exasperatedly. And then, she snickers a bit, fiddling with the edge of the envelope sticking out in her back pocket as she does. "You're right. You have lawyers for that." She rolls her eyes. "Damned rich kids," she jests.

Looking at the graves again, she nods quietly. "We should….go to your family's plot before we head out," she tells him. "It's already late but I don't intend to be seen here come morning."

"…the more things change the more they stay the same," Eric smirks slightly. "Songs sometimes have the best words." He says with a laugh and a slight shake of his head. "This isn't something that you can really put to bed…and personally…" He laughs and smiles slightly towards her. "…I'm rather biased, but I'm happy it hasn't changed." He falls quiet again before he looks away for a moment. "I can't guarantee it won't change, I haven’t seen the future like some people…but…one day they’ll be a right time. One day they won't need us anymore. I'll be very happy that day."

At the promise though he can simply nod towards her. He'll take her at her word. She is good for her word, almost always. "Good," Is all he can think to add to that.

"…yeah…and you punch hard…" Pause. "…for a girl." He says as he smirks slightly towards her. "…so yes. I can guarantee that there isn't a will in there." He rolls his eyes. "…what? Haven’t you got over that yet…" He shakes his head slightly. "…women."

He pauses a moment as he turns towards her. "…yes…we should…" He murmurs softly, seemingly conflicted over something. Then he sighs and a slight smirk comes to his face. "…one thing before we go though."

With a sudden movement he drops the umbrella, sliding forwards towards her. The rain has free reign to fall down on them both as he wraps both his arms around Elena, pulling her forwards into a hug, and then from the hug he tilts her face up slightly to pull her into a deep and passionate kiss. All of two years of waiting bottled up in one long moment of fire as he pulls her against him. Letting the kiss and the feeling linger, he finally pulls away, letting the rain streak down his hair and his face.

"…there, now we can go." He murmurs. "…and you can say hello to them as well."

"I think…well, that's what we're trying to do, right? At least fix things enough so we could ALL freaking retire to…I don't know. Greece or something. Maybe Gene'll finally be able to propose to Heidi Klum like he wanted," Elena quips. She can't help the small smile tugging up the corners of her mouth, however, at the lyrics Eric quotes. The Saints, at least most of them, were pretty attached to pop culture references. It's really only Trina that doesn't get most of them.

"I've gotten over it!" she says defensively. "…mostly. I mean, it's not like Papa's poor. If I wanted to, right now, I could leave what I do to go back to school, be one of those trust fund babies I always abhorred but secretly envied back in high school. But….that's not really an option for me, is it? You guys are too important for me to abandon just like that. Besides….I made that mistake once. The cost was huge. I'm not about to do it again."

She looks up with a start when the rain splashes over her head again, the umbrella dropping into the mud as his taller shadow moves towards her, drawing her into a hug. The cold that might have been dispels for a moment in the gesture, her fists curled up loosely against his chest, since she didn't expect it. "Eri— " Her face is angled up by his callused palm, and her next words are muffled when his mouth latches onto hers. The intensity sears through her brain. She grips the front of his shirt, her shoulders tensing in one moment of resistance….until that falls away. Her mouth slants over his. Her arms curl around his neck. It wasn't cold anymore.

When he eases away, her arms loosen around his neck, her eyes fixed on the dip of his collarbones. Her breathing is a little ragged, and her cheeks feel like they're on fire. She could feel his eyes boring on her forehead as he looks down on her, and she didn't need to look at him to know what was in his eyes.

"…okay…" she says quietly, finally looking up at him. After a few more moments, she disentangles herself from him, and turns to head for where his family's plot is.

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