A More Honest World


cardinal_icon.gif gillian2_icon.gif

Scene Title A More Honest World
Synopsis Gillian stops by the library to tell some things to Cardinal. He wonders if a more honest world wouldn't be a better thing.
Date Oct 12, 2009

New York Public Library

Once upon a time, the New York Public Library was one of the most important libraries in America. The system, of which this branch was the center, was among the foremost lending libraries /and/ research libraries in the world.

The bomb changed that, as it changed so much else.

By virtue of distance, the library building was not demolished entirely, like so many others north of it; however, the walls on its northern side have been badly damaged, and their stability is suspect. The interior is a shambles, tattered books strewn about the chambers and halls, many shelves pulled over. Some have even been pulled apart; piles of char in some corners suggest some of their pieces, as well as some of the books, have been used to fuel fires for people who sought shelter here in the past.

In the two years since the bomb, the library — despite being one of the icons of New York City — has been left to decay. The wind whistles through shattered windows, broken by either the blast-front or subsequent vandals, carrying dust and debris in with it. Rats, cats, and stray dogs often seek shelter within its walls, especially on cold nights. Between the fear of radiation and the lack of funds, recovery of the library is on indefinite hiatus; this place, too, has been forgotten.

With all the people that call the library home, it isn't a wonder that footsteps can be heard walking down the corridors. Gillian pauses at a shelf, one that got shaken in the earthquake, and she reaches up and puts what's left of books back into place. Between the tremors, water and frost damage, the original nuclear explosion, there's very little that these books haven't seen. One of them is pulled off the shelf entirely and carried with her, as she runs hands over it, pushing dust off. Dust made out of many things. Human skin, dirty, paint, rotted paper, fur from animals that called the library home in the last few months.

There's one specific person in the building she's looking for, and he could be hiding in the shadows. Literally. He'd not been in the main residental areas, and the library, even when it'd been filled with books and people, is notoriously big. Plenty of places to hide, even for someone who can't slip underneath things.

"Cardinal? You around?" this isn't the first place she's called out on her search this evening. The sunlight still streaks through what's left of windows and holes in the wall, but light will soon be an issue. For most people.

This time, there's a call from one of the side rooms, away from the outside windows. "I'm here."

It's a room emptied of desks filled with string; all the colours of the rainbow stretched from point to point, little notes and tags dangling off of them here and there, or at especially large tangles and intersections thereof. The lights are completely off, but most of the people in the library long ago began carrying flashlights. Most rooms don't have illumination, after all, and Cardinal doesn't need any.

One finger plucks at a tangle, and he frowns down at it, dark circles shadowing under his eyes and his manner generally tired and downcast.

The bag she has hanging from her shoulder may have one of those flashlights, or at least one of her own, but Gillian's not waving one around, as she turns into the emptied room and— comes face to face with an oddly familiar sight. Different, but similar, in a strange way. Approaching the strings, she looks them over for a moment before finding the dark man whom she hasn't come to visit in a few days.

"There was a place in Midtown that had one of these a year ago. A loft. Belonging to an artist who painted the future— he died before the bomb went boom, though, so it wasn't really his place anymore," she reaches up and touches one of the strings quietly, though she doesn't understand much of what she'd seen in that place. "Someone gave me the address and told me where to find it, and I ended up crashing there a few times after— stuff happened." Gabriel went Sylar on her forehead and she fled their old apartment and needed a place to crash, even if the building had been far too cold.

"That was actually where I first met Edward Ray— did he start this, or did you?"

"Isaac Mendez."

Cardinal glances over his shoulder, "I've managed to collect copies of most've his comic issues, they're in the Hall of Prophecy along with all the other shit— never seen his actual paintings, though. This was Edward's. He made it for me. We moved it here." One hand lifts, gesturing to the central tangle, "That's the death of Staten Island."

Yeah, that guy. "Some of his paintings were still in the loft, but I don't know if they're still there, or if they've been moved," Gillian says, looking thoughtfully over the strings as she ducks around some to get closer to the tangle in the middle. The death of Staten Island.

"Figured this would be an Edward thing," she adds on, reaching up to touch one of the strings, sliding her fingers along it, before letting her hand drop. "My ability still hasn't fritzed out. Since it's always on, I think I would've noticed when it had." There's a thoughtful frown on her face, going over what she can remember of the tape, and quietly wishing she would have watched it a few more times. Maybe she's remembering something wrong.

"Maybe his calculations are a little off. That or I'm not really dying by the end of the month. But fucking White seems to be pulling buildings down already. Whole island might be next."

"I should go wander over and check sometime…" Cardinal draws in a breath, then exhales it, his head shaking slowly, "I'm trying to find Zimmerman, but apparently he headed for Canada when shit went down— and the guy he was going to is dead already. Edward could've lied, you know."

He nods, then, "Yeah. It could be. I need to go kick Shard in the nuts."

"Well, if my power doesn't fritz out, maybe he was lying and I won't even need that Zimmerman guy. Hell, for all I know I already got healed. Either through having regen for a month, thanks to Peter's power, or cause I— got healed another way," Gillian says, shrugging her shoulders in doubt as she lets her hand drop away from the strings. "I can show you where the loft was, though— You want to kick him in the nuts for not killing White before he got a whole building full of people killed? According to Edward he won't be able to win without me…"

There's a pause, then she looks back at the strings. "Do you think I'm up here?"

"Probably. They're not all labeled…"

Cardinal steps back from the web, turning away with a grimace and bringing one hand up to rub over his face, "Edward said a lot of things. Sometimes they were true. Sometimes lies. Sometimes only half-way there. I don't know. I just have to keep… moving with what I've got."

"Well, there's something else," Gillian says, reaching into her carrier bag and pulling out a journal and pushing through some pages, squinting in the dark. "I copied down some of what she said afterwards, thanks to a little help from Cat's memory. The singer, Else— she learned a little bit of control over her ability. She saw the flooding, just like she sang about, right? But— she talked about it like it was going to be all biblical and end up being a good thing in the end."

She closes the journal at that point, looking back over. "Kinda made me wonder if Edward wanted to let it happen cause he saw it as a better option, like the psycho future one tried to do on the roof with the Tylers."

"It's possible…" Cardinal reaches the wall and slouches there, sliding slowly down until he's sitting upon the floor; one arm draped over his knees, he drops his head forward, one hand lifting to rub against his neck, "What'd she say, exactly…? That shit's often up to some serious interpretation."

The journal falls back open, and gets flipped through a few more times. It wasn't her own memory, but someone else's that allowed her to copy this down. "New York City, sunken by a tidal wave of water. People still live, I've seen boats navigating the expanses of sea between the skyscrapers. Somehow, despite all of the tragedy, life finds a way to live on. It's peaceful there. People struggle to survive, but it all seems more honest. It's like the great flood from the bible, it washed away all of man's sins." Gillian looks over it again and shrugs a bit.

"I'm honestly not sure how good it is, cause she said she… saw things from her perspective and that they were her own feelings. I don't think it was quite like her songs. Definitely open to interpretation. And she might have just felt peaceful about it cause she would feel peaceful about it. And she was training in her power with a dude named Noah," she adds, as if that's the punchline to the world's craziest joke. "Also sounded like there would be an eclipse— the lunar kind— that's supposed to come before this, too, but I'm all kinds of unsure what to think of that."

"That sounds… it could be worse," Cardinal says quietly, thoughtfully, his head tilting up to listen to her with a contemplative expression on his face, bringing his hand up to scratch against his chin, "If the tides were that high, it'd certainly wash away all the fucking governmental, bureaucratic bullshit. Most of the wars. End droughts worldwide, at least…"

A faint chuckle, "A more honest world. Sounds nice. And yeah, I know about the eclipse."

"Yeah, but it'd also kill a hell of a lot of people," Gillian says, closing the book and putting it back down into her bag. "I dunno, it would be easier in a way, less people, but it doesn't sound like a good thing for the ones who don't have access to a high rise or a boat. And even the ones that do…" She shrugs her shoulders. That kind of thing never sounds good to her, but even then… it would make things simplier. A little. "The eclipse was mentioned in other stuff. Did Ray have anything to warn about that?"

"No, but I've seen it in other prophecies…" Cardinal scratches under his chin, "There's one… on the twelfth of December, visible from the southern hemisphere, something big'll happen then. It's all over the country, graffiti, everywhere. Possibly the activation time on the nuke—- I'm not sure."

"If it's only visible in the southern hemisphere, then how's it going to be seen by people here?" Gillian has to ask, a little confused by the whole situation. "It also sounded like a full eclipse in all of the things I've heard, not a partial one… I looked it up on the internet and there's not going to be a full one until like… next year." But she doubts they'll have that much time. Life is never that nice. Fucking prophecies. "The activation time on the nuke?"

"There's a full one on New Year's," adds Cardinal, making a disgusted gesture with one hand, "I have no fuckin' idea. Do I look like Edward? I can barely keep people working on one thing at a time— fuck." He rubs a hand over his face, "Anyway."

"Sounds like you need to get rid of some stress," Gillian says, a mild smirk showing up on her face as she glances toward what counts as windows letting in light. It's almost dark enough for that flashlight, but not quite. No one will notice that she totally just stole a book from the library, will they? Either way… "Looks like I'm stuck here til morning. Need some company or do you already have a footwarmer for the night?"

"What, did someone lock the door?" A faintly amused twitch of Cardinal's lips as he looks over again, hand dropping down to his knee, "I wouldn't mind some company. Bed's kind've cold lately, we haven't gotten any heating up and running yet…"

"Door's plenty unlocked, I just don't like trying to make it across town in the dark," Gillian says, shifting through the web of strings so she can get even closer. "There's better ways to spend the night than trying to avoid patrols and gang bangers." There's that smile again, the same as she had that night over on Staten Island.

A low chuckle stirs upon his breath, and he reaches up to grab hold of the wall; hauling himself up to his feet, he flashes back a roguish grin before turning to step out of the room, "Well, let's see how you feel about the accomodations we have here at Chez Library Publique…"

"You know, I always fantasized about doing many things in this library…" Gillian says, glancing around with a slight raise to her eyebrows and that grin lingering, complete with dimples. "But I only ever had a key to the Brooklyn one. But I doubt anything I did in there would make you blush, though. You don't seem like the easily blushing type."

"Oh really…?" A turn back, and Cardinal grins broadly, "…well, why don't you try your damdnest, and we'll see if I can still blush." A pause, and he adds boldly, "Or if you do."

"How about I just show you?" Gillian tosses out, as she moves to weave her way out of the spider-like strings, so she can get out of the room, fully expecting him to follow.

Oh, and he does, Cardinal's steps falling into line easily after the power-amplifier as she slips out of the web-like room, a low chuckle tumbling under his breath. "A more honest world indeed," he murmurs, glancing over the ruins of the library as he walks.

If only it was that easy.

Or is it?

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