A Perfectly Nice Floor


cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title A Perfectly Nice Floor
Synopsis Plans are being laid for Endgame's people — all of them.
Date June 6, 2010

Elisabeth's Apartment, Dorchester Towers

This is a pretty standard two-bedroom apartment, although the occupant has gone to some effort to make it her own. Although the carpet is the ubiquitous beige, the walls are painted a soft rose-gray mauve shade, giving the main living space warmth. A dark gray sectional sofa sits in the living room facing an entertainment center that contains a state-of-the-art stereo system and a less upscale television setup. A coffee table sits in the curve of the sectional, and floor lamps bracket the ends of the furniture. The dining area hosts a four-seater square oak table and chairs, with the table generally host to a slew of mail and papers. An oak sideboard against the wall has candles on either end of it and a glass bowl with a fake arrangement of flowers. A small wine rack sits next to the sideboard, home to no more than nine bottles. The kitchen is small, but functional, painted a soft yellow color with a transparent blue glass backsplash. Off the living room are two bedrooms, one of which has the door closed and the other appears to be a home office. Its walls are a soft shade of green, and it contains a desk with a high-end computer setup and a bookcase stocked with textbooks.

Now that the heat is back on in the city and recovery efforts are well underway, Elisabeth's apartment is not a refrigerator. And with the hours that she's been putting in during the storm and its aftermath, the blonde FRONTLINE officer is able to get a few personal hours here and there to get off the base to handle her own matters. They've literally been only a few hours here and there, but she put in a request for two full days off to handle her apartment and such. Of course… it doesn't hurt that a certain shadow person has his corporeal body back — some of the apartment cleaning sort of falls by the wayside when they christened the tub and several other surfaces. But at least there are groceries!

Breakfast — lunch? She's not even sure what time of day it is right now with the heavy drapes drawn across the windows for Richard's eyes — was not exactly traditional. The remains of two medium-rare steaks, a couple of baked potatoes, some steamed broccoli with cheese, and a bottle of red wine litter the coffee table where the meal occurred. Leaning back against the front of the couch with her knee drawn up to rest her wine glass on and a deep sigh, Liz looks tousled and content. More rested than she's been in months in spite of the recovery work that still has her pulling 12- and 14-hour days.

"It's nice to be home," she comments softly to him, completely at ease with the fact that she's wearing nothing more than her undies and a T-shirt.

"You have been spending a lot've time at work," Cardinal observes with a slightly-concerned look over the edge of his own wine glass, leaning back against the front of the couch beside her in his boxers, one knee drawn up close to his chest and the other leg stretched out beneath the coffee table, "Kershner isn't burning your candle too bright over there, is she? I'll go give her a taste've my boot if she starts pushing you guys too far…"

There's a faint shrug and Elisabeth replies with a grin, "Much as the idea of watching you kick Kershner in the ass, I doubt it'll do much good." She takes a swallow from her glass and leans her head back onto the couch behind her, savoring the taste. "Recovery is going to be a slow process. We're starting to scale back operations a little bit, but…. body retrieval sucks. Seriously sucks." There's a faint, heavy sigh and when she picks up her head again to look at him, blue eyes skimming over his face. Sitting here, like this, isn't something she's dared hope for in the past few months. She can't keep herself from watching him sleep when they doze off together and she chances to wake before him. "So…. here's a question for you: Have you decided what you want to do?" Her tone indicates that the topic isn't merely random.

A hand slides along her shoulders as she speaks about the body retrieval, Richard's gaze falling on her face in quiet concern, expresion serious. "I can imagine it does," he murmurs, fingers rubbing back and forth, and then he exhales a brief snort, "That a trick question? There's all sorts of shit I need to get done. What're you asking about in particular?"

Elisabeth reaches up her free hand, crossing it over to her shoulder to twine her fingers into his for a moment so that she can kiss his fingers lightly. Then she smiles at the snort. "MOre in particular… I've been pondering what to do with our drastically reduced ranks and our financial situation." She looks at him, a rueful expression in her eyes as she takes in the lines of his face. "In spite of the pardons — or perhaps even because of them — people will be watching us. I've been considering the wisdom of operating in plain sight. Or at least…. making it look like that's what we're doing anyway."

That claimed hand curls with hers, fingers giving a squeeze against her own. "So have I," Cardinal admits, the pad of his thumb skimming over the back of her hand, "I've got some thoughts about recruiting, but… some sort of public front might not be a bad idea. Peyton's got access to some liquidity, and I can try and wring some cash out of Kershner…"

She sips from her wine glass, leaving only a small amount of liquid at the bottom, and sets the stemware on the coffee table to turn more fully to face him with her legs curled to the side. She hasn't released the hand that is twined with hers, the touch reassurance in and of itself that this is not a dream. That it's not wishful thinking that he's alive and whole.

"So here's what I've been kicking around," Elisabeth says. "And mind you that I can't be a fulltime partner in this unless I resign my post — which I'm not terribly opposed to, but I have to admit that … it makes me happy to be doing what I'm doing. So far they haven't asked me to do anything I object to. Anyway… With your pardon in hand and whatever monetary assets you can squeeze from Kershner, Peyton's liquid assets, and my own…. I think we can actually start up a security company. Peyton's demonstrating a pretty solid organizational ability, so she can be the office person. Gillian's a damn good research associate, and she'd probably only really want to do it part-time, but that would give us the ability to take on the bread and butter cases that require a lot of research and legwork. And you, my dear…. have a unique niche that can be marketed. Companies or organizations that want to know the weaknesses of their own security systems are always looking for talent to keep on tap to test their security regularly. A lot of ex-cops go the PI route, but in this case… you're Evo, you're an ex-thief, and you can actually admit that and USE it. And then it looks like we're entirely aboveboard. And in our 'off' time, we can still be doing what we do best. OR worst, depending on how you look at it."

She trails off, uncertain that her rush of words isn't too much information too fast for him.

"Don't be ridiculous about resigning, we need you where you are, even if you didn't like the job…" A gentle squeeze of his fingers on hers, and Cardinal falls silent to listen to the rest of the proposal, watching her with an attentive and serious expression. The other hand's still cradling a glass of wine, an dhe takes a sip of it as she speaks, swirling around the contents contemplatively.

"It's not a bad idea," he finally admits, "Definately not a bad idea… hm, who else do we know in the business… how's Nakano been? I remember mention of her having some problems awhile back, but she's got a pretty impressive talent…"

Clearly Liz has been putting a lot of thought into this. "Alec's left town, but I'd suggest him in a heartbeat." She has kept the secret of his abilities the entire while and she won't break that confidence now either. "If he ever moves back in upstairs, he's one to seriously consider. Rebecca's working on building her own PI business, so she'd kind of be one of our bread-and-butter people too. If she's interested in buying in, she'd be an asset. Perhaps to Endgame as well — I don't think you're going to be able to work with her in civilian work and keep her out of the loop entirely, if you want my honest opinion. Like Peyton, she sees too much. Mack, if he gets this thing with his ex-wife or whatever straightened out, royally rocks as an investigator." She tips her head, considering. "I'd seriously consider Nash, but I heard through the grapevine that he got partnered up with Damaris. And considering she's engaged to Parkman, I think keeping a little bit of distance there is a good idea. He's willing to help where he can, though, and having him on the inside to talk to us about police files that maybe we don't want my own high profile or Felix's name to get us into would be good."

"I'll leave that up to you, as to Rebecca, feel her out and see what you think… her ability'd be damn useful," Cardinal admits, the pad of his thumb tapping against the side of his glass before he blinks, "Oh—shit. I saw Nash, actually, ran into him a couple times at this boxing gym I've been using to get back into shape. He attended one've the fight nights." A bit of a smirk, "Not quite legal, but he didn't seem to mind. I don't think he knows who I am, though."

"Why would he?" Elisabeth asks bluntly. "He was my partner, but I don't make a habit of sharing the names of my lovers with my partners, Richard." She smiles faintly. "It's not their business. But anyway… I'm not surprised Nash might turn a blind eye to certain things. His response when he found out what I'd been up to was pretty low-key." She smiles faintly. "He even tried to give me another perspective after you were dead and I couldn't let go of the work," she admits softly, picking up her own glass to drain it.

"Another perspective?" A cock of Cardinal's head to one side, one brow lifting curiously, "What do you mean?"

Returning the empty glass to the table once more, Liz considers. "I told him the whole story in very general terms. He deserved that much, since I was resigning on him after going missing right after telling him about what happened to me with Danko. And when I told him I was moving to FRONTLINE, he tried to …. not really talk me out of it, but offered the thought that …. " She grins a bit. "If I was going into FRONTLINE just because I thought it was what *you* wanted, I should maybe rethink it. I deserved to be able to walk away with as much as I'd already given."

There's a moment where her blue eyes hold a faraway look, sadness and resolution mingled. Then Liz turns her gaze to his face and she says simply, "Our people needed me."

As she looks to him, Cardinal draws her hand overs - still tangled in his own - and he presses a kiss to her knuckles, meeting her eyes over their clasped hands. "I know," he murmurs, "And you were fighting this fight before I ever came along… if anyone deserves the chance to step away from it, though, it's you."

Elisabeth shrugs, the roll of her shoulders graceful. "I haven't lost as much as some. Besides…. I doubt I could go back to what passes for 'normal' if I tried," she replies drily. "Where the fuck would I get off walking away when people like Teo and Cat and even Abby don't? That's the coward's way out, lover." There's a faint smile as she adds, "And you can call me a lot of things, but I'm pretty sure 'coward' isn't one of them." Stupid, reckless, brash, obnoxious, bitchy, occasionally hormonal? Probably a slew of other adjectives that don't present themselves to her mind at this moment. But not that.

"I can think of a few things to call you," Cardinal admits with a crook'd half-smile, "Beautiful, for one… 'stubborn bitch' would be another, of course…" Ever so innocent as he says that, looking down into his glass as he swirls around the contents, then brings them up for a swallow.

"Why, Richard…. I do so love it when you talk dirty to me," Elisabeth teases with a laugh, pushing herself to her knees. She slips her leg over the one he has extended and takes the glass from his hand after he's done with it. "I do have to admit that I like it even better when you're fucking me mindless," she admits in a husky tone. "It almost edges out that very soft whisper of 'I love you' as we fall asleep as my favorite thing." There's a wicked twinkle. "So…. you're not going to dismiss this idea out of hand, then? The whole legitimate business enterprise that could bankroll our other less than legit activities if we play our cards right?"

At the mention of what's whispered when they fall asleep, Richard's cheeks flush a bit; his head dropping as he mutters something defensively masculine, hand dropping down to rest on her leg where it's draped over his. A lazy brush of fingertips trails along her thigh as he looks back up with a smirk, then, "Hell no. It's not a bad idea at all."

She doesn't plan on telling anyone. It's those moments in the dark, between awake and asleep, that are the ones that keep her nightmares at bay. She hasn't had any in the nights he's been here — not in the nights he's perhaps watched as simply a shadow, and not in the night's he's spent here since becoming corporeal again. Though admittedly, she sleeps far far better here in the apartment than she did any night that he may have peeked in while he was stuck. "Good," she replies as she leans down to nibble the side of his jaw. "Then I have one more offer for you." Maybe she left it to last because she figures it might be the dealbreaker. "Move in here."

That's just not a fair offer to make while her teeth are working along his jawline, down his neck. As she nestles in, he curls his arm around her shoulders, head tilting back with a sigh as her lips taste the steady pulse of his heartbeat through the skin. "Hm?" A bit of a tug back, his head cocking a little to look down at her curiously, "What?"

Elisabeth slips backward to simply sit. Straddled on his thigh as she is, she's holding most of her weight on her knees so as not to hurt him. "Move into the apartment," she offers again, seriously. "I can't exactly live here fulltime with you anyway. It has a shit-ton of security, so if you need to bring our people in because shit's hit the fan, you can. You don't have a place to stay of your own anyway." She sort of collapsed it. Her tone is logical, though there's a hint of uncertainty to her blue eyes. She has never offered to allow someone to share her haven on a permanent basis. Sleeping over at times, sure. "You already have a key — or at least, you did before you blew up," she injects a tone of levity into the proceedings, not wanting him to think it's as serious as a marriage proposal or something.

Cardinal's hands drop down to rest against her thigh and arm as she sits back a bit - regarding her in return with a slight tilt of his head. "Well… I mean, I've been sleeping here more often than not," he admits uncertainly, "I know you've been spending most of your time at the barracks or whatever they've got set up over there. This is your place, though."

"Not sure that's exactly an answer, lover," Elisabeth replies mildly. "I realize it's something of a commitment. I'm not asking you to marry me. I'm offering you a place to live. Hell, if you want to be a tenant and turn it into your apartment on a piece of paper, we could probably arrange it pretty easily." The apartment itself isn't leased; she owns it outright, thanks to a life insurance policy. "There are only two caveats on the offer, really…. one, we each keep any other bed partners we might have out of here; two… if you must go back to smoking, do it on the balcony." She grins a bit at him, having noticed that he hadn't seem to have bothered to pick the habit back up. She's never complained, and he's never done it in her apartment anyway, so she figures it's a non-issue.

The one good thing about having your body just about reassembled is the lack of toxins in the system - no more physical addiction, and the mental was dealt with awhile ago. Whether or not he picks smoking back up will remain to be seen. "What," Cardinal asks, brows raising a little in faux-innocence, "Even if I want to bring Felix back here for some hanky-panky?"

Okay, now that just makes Elisabeth pause and narrow her eyes. "It's not nice to tease a woman who just went out on the biggest limb of her life and offered her space to you, Richard," Liz retorts with a wrinkle of her nose. "If you swung that way, I'd know by now."

At that, Cardinal can't help but grin—and he shakes his head, admitting, "It'd be nice to have somewhere to come back to, since you broke my place…" A bit of a tease about what she did to his hidey-hole, "…once everything's sane, though, I might get my own place again. We're both people who need space sometimes…"

Liz shrugs easily. "That's fine too. Might find that living together just flat won't work," she admits candidly. "I think being stuck at the barracks right now most of the time and just being able to come back here some of the time will be enough space for the moment. But it's a situation that can change whenever we want it to." She doesn't seem to take offense at the possibilities there at all, and if he chooses to move back out, it doesn't appear to be a problem for her. Those brilliant blue eyes watch him hesitantly. "So… that's a yes, then?" She grins slightly. "And if you didn't live in a fuckin' bomb shelter, I wouldn't have *had* to blast my way out."

"It was secure, wasn't it?" Cardinal smirks, leaning in to rest his forehead against hers, hands sliding up her legs to her hips to pull her in closer, "Yeah, that's a yes. I mean, I basically live here right now anyway."

Sliding forward and accomodating his movement so that she settles her behind appropriately right into his lap, nose to nose and forehead to forehead with him, Elisabeth smiles softly. "Sounds like fun," she murmurs. "Wonder what it'll be like to have a man to come back to." Her tone is teasing, as if she rather figures it will be little different than it currently is.

A light shake of his head from side to side rubs the tip of his nose against hers, and Cardinal murmurs playfully back to her, "Just about the exact same as it is now, only I might redecorate your bathroom or something…"

Elisabeth snickers. "What's wrong with my bathroom?" she demands in amusement.

Cardinal's brows raise slightly in mock-innocence. "Absolutely nothing. Of course."

Tipping her head, Liz murmurs against his lips between soft kisses, "You seemed to like it well enough when you could finally share the tub." A waggle of her blonde brows accompanies the observation. Replete with good food and business matters dealt with along with the hard part of the relationship stuff — because asking him to actually move in here was one of those things that she has waffled over for a while, uncertain whether she's even willing to let their relationship go that way — she seems intent now on returning her attention to the things that work like magic between them.

"True," he replies, exhaling a little bit of a chuckle against her lips, the tip of his nose brushing against hers lightly, "So. Now that that's settled… why don't we go back to bed, mm? Otherwise we're gonna spend the rest of the night second-guessing relationship shit…"

Elisabeth ffts. "I was all done with that bullshit," she retorts with a grin, rocking slightly in his lap. "And well on the way to luring you back to bed, but apparently you didn't notice. Clearly I'm out of practice and need to improve my technique." And the shirt slides up and over her head in a quick movement, leaving her in nothing more than that scrap of nothingness that she euphemistically refers to as her underwear. "Show me again how much you missed me?" she invites in a sultry purr.

Cardinal's lips curve into a slow grin as she pulls the shirt up and over her head, and as she drops it aside and makes that invitation, the hands on her hips very firmly push her back to make her tumble off his lap — and he pursues after her with the obvious sentiment of the moment being 'Fuck the bed, we have a perfectly nice floor right here'.

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