2007-07-29: Plans For What If


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A certain painting makes a reappearance and sets Cass to talking about plans for in case the picture becomes a reality. Lachlan is not thrilled to have the discussion.

Dark Future Date: July 29th, 2009

Plans For What If

Cass and Lachlan's Apartment

Later in the evening, Cass has put Abigail to sleep. However, instead of laying her down to sleep in her crib, she is still just rocking her. Leaning back against the couch, she sings softly to the little girl. It sounds vaguely like the song Galway Girl. Either way, it's just soothing sounds for the baby. It's truly dark out and not the gloom that overcasts most of the New York days. It's just impossible to see the stars and the moon is more of a smudge than anything that gives substantial life. Troubled, there's an old, old painting that Cass has carried around with her for some reason for two years. It leans against the wall opposite where she sings to her baby depicting a scene not unlike the New York City she knows now. Other than the dead bodies littering the ground, it could be any day in the city.

Not far from the front door, Balthazar and Samael, the two large Dobermans usually accompanying Lachlan these days, lay dozing. Bonnie is sprawled near Cass' feet, having always been rather attached to her, and George has established himself as The Cat in the household. Hence, the dogs do not frighten him and he is laid out on the back of the couch, eyes closed and a soft purr emanating from His Eminent Felineness. Lachlan, meanwhile, has just emerged from the shower. Toweling off his hair and dressed in his usual post-shower attire of boxers, he ambles over to the couch and leans down over the back of it to place a kiss to Cass' cheek. "She asleep?" he murmurs — then happens to glance up and spot the painting. Even after two years — especially after two years, due to its similarities to the modern times — the thing still has the ability to make him bristle. "Jesus, baby, why're ye starin' at tha' bloody thing?" He's already moving around the couch to pick up the painting and flip it around.

Even with all the animals surrounding her, the only real comfort Cass gets is for the warm weight in her arms that is her daughter. "Yeah," she murmurs absently. "Peter came by today." Peter, not Petrelli. These days, Peter is Petrelli and Nathan is never spoken of by any given name. He's just the President. Any name that reminds her that he was once her friend is just unwelcome. She knows that Lachlan knows that, but it's the answer to his question. "I shot him in the leg." That's spoken with a sort of deadpan tone, even in front of Abigail. She takes the kiss on the cheek. "Wait, don't," she reaches out to stop him from walking away. "Sit with us for a little while." Even if that thing is sitting opposite of them.

Lachlan stops when he's caught, but he stares at the painting incredulously a moment before finally shifting his course so that he can take a seat next to Cass and Abby. He wraps both arms around the former, one around her shoulders, the other around her waist and rests his chin atop her head. "Yeah, I know. Talked ta 'im earlier. Tol' 'im 'bout Jack's gang an' the like." His gaze continues to stray toward the painting, which continues to unnerve him.

Gladly, Cass begins to cuddles into Lachlan's arms. Positioning Abigail so that she's kind of snug between them, she doesn't let go of the little girl, however. "Remember what it was like? Back then? Two years ago?" There's a wistfulness to her tone. Better days. When things were better. When they didn't have to worry about bombs or Abigail being taken away from them, or anything like that. "He looks so young." That would be Peter She's talking about now. "I forgot how much he changed after….everything. It just reminds me of how Peter never really came back from that fight. How much I miss that version of him." It's why she can't call him 'Peter' any more.

"Yeah." Two years ago, Lachlan would have probably been a little off-put by Peter's non-violent nature — but he can't deny that the Peter they know now is not his preferred version. His gaze drops down to Abigail, and the arm around Cass' stomach retracts so that he can place a hand on the child's head. She's always at her best when she's either asleep or smiling. "Wish we'd had 'er back then." He pauses, then adds, "'R tha' someone'd done somethin' 'bout the bastard b'fore things got this bad." There doesn't need to be an explanation for who 'the bastard' is.

"You and Abby." Cass says firmly as she leans her head against his chest. It's been exhausting the past couple of days and seeing Peter again has shaken something deep inside. Remembering how things /used/ to be. "Those are the only good things about the way this world is." Suddenly, there are tears in her eyes, left unshed for the moment. "Is it horrible of me to not want Peter to succeed? To not want him to go back and change everything? If he does that…if he changes the past. He'd save everything. New York would be back to normal. But…we may never have Abby. She may never exist. And I don't think I can stand that idea. Even if he can change the painting, make it so that it never happens…I don't want him to."

A part of him does think it's horrible. This world that they're in now is hell, it's no place to raise a child. Even Lachlan, who has probably never been a candidate for Father Of The Year, knows this. However, there's also the other part of him that's severely attached to Abby and Cass and the fact that he has both of them now. He tightens his arm around Cass' shoulders and squeezes his eyes shut (because they're not watering at all or anything, don't be silly). "Baby," he murmurs, "we can still have 'er. Ye dunna know tha' changin' things'll mean tha' we dunna have Abby." The Powers That Be wouldn't be that cruel, would they?

She knows. Cass knows this is no place to raise Abby. It's not what she wants for her daughter. But, she loves this little sleeping bundle of warmth more than anything and the very idea of losing her. Of never even /knowing/ her is unacceptable. "You're right. I know. Imagine; we could raise Abby in the two years ago. She could play outside with the dogs. Nothing would be destroyed." It would be a normal family. Not one on the run that has to hide underground and shoots their friends in the leg to make sure they're real. "Imagine Abby in that world." Maybe helping Peter /will/ lead to that world. She has to hope it will. Because, she promised her help and she'll give it. And at least she'll know that if nothing changes, the world they're in now could still produce a wonderful child like Abby.

Plus, if this world continues as it is …

Lachlan glances at the painting again, ominous and ugly. His grip on Cass tightens noticeably, protectively, and he buries his face into the top of her head. The painting isn't real. It's not going to happen. "Mebbe we should send Peter back with a letter an' a picture 'r somethin'. Just ta make sure we still have 'er." Even though it's blatantly messing with the fabric of time, Abby is something that Lachlan definitely does not want to go without in whatever future he participates in.

That's part of what Cass has been wrestling with in her head. Stay in this timeline, risk death, but have Abby. Help Peter change the past, save hundreds - thousands, and possibly never have Abby. "I don't know if we can do that. What if just /knowing/ about her changes her?" Gently, she places a hand on Abigail's head, almost petting the child. "She was an accident. A happy accident. And I wouldn't change that for anything." Then, she tears her eyes away from her baby, her jewel and looks back up at the painting. "If…if nothing changes…" She pauses, gathers what she needs to say. "If nothing changes, you go all the way to Canada, you don't come back. No matter what. Not until it's over. Maybe not even then."

No, no. No. This is not the sort of thing Lachlan would like to talk about. It's one of those Unmentionable Topics, like breaking up or … well, anything to do with Cass dying. His arm tenses around her and the other slips from Abby's head to once again wrap around Cass' waist. "Stop it," he mutters firmly. "Nothin's gonna happen." This is Lachlan, living in denial, because that makes everything better.

It may be an Unmentionable Topic, but Peter's appearance has brought about a lot of thinking for Cass. Like, mortality and the future and fate and changing things in the past. "I'm not saying it will," she adds cautiously. "But if it /does/. I know you'll take good care of her. Lee and Nima'll know what to do. They'll get you two across." She'll make sure they will. Denial is fine, but when they've got Abby to think about, she wants to make sure that everything is provided for. "You know where my journal is. Just…give it to her one day. So she knows." Who her mother was. What she was like. Now it's hard to miss her watery eyes because a tear streaks down her cheek. "I love you, Lachlan. More than anything. But if I get in trouble, you can't come after me. You've got to make sure Abby gets to safety. She's what matters."

"Just stop it, a'righ'?" Lachlan insists a little louder and a little harsher. It's not loud enough to wake Abby, however. He's careful to still remain quiet. "Stop talkin' like tha'." Why? Because it hurts. It's painful and terrifying, and it's one of the reasons Lachlan hates the painting so much. It makes Cass talk like this. She's not the only one who is watery-eyed. Unlike her, however, Lachlan's tears remain unspilled. As far as he's concerned, there is no 'it might not' there is just 'it won't'. Still, he can tell she's crying, and his free hand comes up to brush the tears from her cheeks. "Should just get rid o' tha' bloody paintin'."

It's not that Cass /wants/ to talk about her death. That's not the kind of thing that turns her on. It terrifies her, too. To think about her baby growing up without her. Not ever seeing her first steps or talking or seeing what a woman she becomes. But, she wants to make sure. Just in case. That everything is taken care of. For Abby's sake and for Lachlan. Even if it hurts now, she it may hurt less later if they plan for events. When he brushes the tears off her cheek, she quickly leans forward to kiss him. It's a little rough for Cass, as if trying to force both him and herself to forget what may happen in the future. To not feel the impending sense of doom. However, it's impossible for her to forget the child in between them, still sleeping soundly and how much she wants to see her grow.

Lachlan doesn't try to pull away from that kiss. Far from it. He welcomes it and returns it, because he does indeed want to forget what may happen. After all, it's what he's been trying to do for two years: pretending the painting doesn't exist. If it weren't so obviously important to Cass, he would've taken it out and burned it long, long ago. And maybe, just maybe, a part of him wants to hold onto it and study it in case there is something that will help prevent it from coming true. When the first kiss breaks, he pauses, then initiates another one. This way Cass can't talk about such things.

Sometimes Cass forgets all about the painting and what it means. She did a very good job of it while she was so busy with the Alliance and taking care of Abby. And even in the very beginning of starting the Alliance when she had no time to worry about something like that. However, now is not one of those times. She accepts the second kiss, but then she pulls away. "I should put Abby to bed." She's been cuddled for long enough and should be put down to her actual cradle. After that, though, anything is free game. Enough forgetfulness for all.

Lachlan watches Cass slip off to put Abby down. Once she's out of sight, he frowns at the painting again before rising to his feet and flipping it around to face the wall. Then, he moves off to join his fiancee. It's a lot easier to forget when the possible future is not staring one in the face.

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