A Shadow Out Of Time


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Scene Title A Shadow Out of Time
Synopsis On the search for Norton Trask, Elisabeth Harrison finds something else waiting for her in Massachusetts…
Date November 2, 2010

Four hours is just on the inside of too long to be in a car for a drive and the distance between Cambridge Massachusetts and New York City is just short enough to be a waste to take a commercial flight. It's this uncomfortable equilibrium that has been the least of Elisabeth Harrison's worry for the last four hours of her drive up north.

Situated in the heart of Somerville adjacent to the YMCA, Greenwood Terrace Apartments is an inauspicious brick-faced tenement building on the suburban outskirts of Cambridge. Six floors to the top and not a working elevator to speak of in the building, Greenwood is a middle-income residential building with no door security.

Mailboxes in the lobby list the tenants and one in particular that has been the focus of Elisabeth's journal from New York:

Trask, Norton S.

Apartment 6-B is a long way from the lobby on the back corner of the tenement building at the end of a hallway lined with unoccupied residences. The entire sixth floor seems to be vacant, or at least uncomfortably quiet. Each of Elisabeth's footsteps down the tiled hallway to the apartment door echo off of the olive-painted walls.

By the time she reaches the apartment door, her heart is battering against the inside of her ribcage with nervous anticipation. There's the distant and muffled sound of a television playing in the background through the door, too quiet to make out what is being watched. Under the dim light of recessed lamps in the ceiling, the brass number on the door shines dully.

It would be a long way to come here only to turn around.

Greenwood Terrace Apartments

Somerville Massachusetts

And yet, turn around she does in fact consider doing. Elisabeth isn't entirely sure she wants the answers she may find here, but she needs them. Assuming the man she seeks even has any. And that in and of itself is enough to make her raise her hand and bang on the door in that 'open up in there, it's the cops' kind of authoritative "bang, bang, bang." She doesn't even know whether to pray this isn't a wasted trip or… to pray that he knows nothing at all.

Lifting her chin, the blonde ex-cop-turned-FRONTLINE-officer simply waits. Dressed in a pair of jeans, a brown leather jacket thrown over a black long-sleeved top, she looks casual. Like she belongs. But the black shirt hides the pistol she wears in the innerpants holster in her waistband, and she strains to hear what's going to greet her from inside.

When Elisabeth Harrison strains to hear what's happening somewhere, she gets what she wants.

Part and parcel of commanding sound.

The television is on one of the 24-hour news stations, covering the recent midterm elections that swept through the US. Footsteps are an easier sound to pick up, scuffing footfalls that approach the door of the apartment and hesitate as a shadow falls over the peep-hole and the silhouette of feet darken the front of the door.

After a moment there is a rattle of the chain being undone, followed by three bolt locks. When the door pulls open, however, it isn't to the countenance of one particularly blonde ex-flame of Elisabeth at all. Rather, it is a tall and broad-shouldered old man with slightly hunched posture and weathered face. Short black hair gone gray nearly all over save for the crown of his head stares back at Elisabeth with a wary smile.

"Elisabeth," is said in the kind, gentle way a grandfather may greet a long-lost grandchild. But the dark eyes of this old man convey no familial bond, only some semblance of guarded scrutiny as he steps aside. "I was wondering if you'd be coming. Please," His darkly dressed figure motions into the apartment, "would you come in?"

She is not liking that at all. Blue eyes narrow on the man in the doorway. For a moment, Elisabeth's mouth purses into a line that the men in her life would recognize as 'perturbed' and …. well, occasionally leading to 'oh shit, watch out!' But it smooths out into the watchful, very neutral expression that comes with waiting to see the other shoe drop as she steps inside the apartment. "Considering how well a number of you appear to know me, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that you'd be half expecting me," she comments drily. "Of course… I'm assuming that the fact that you've spirited Norton off somewhere ahead of that eventuality means that you have no intention of actually allowing me to speak to the people I might trust to tell the truth."

Some four paces or so beyond him into the living room, Elisabeth turns to face the older man. "So since you were clearly waiting and hoping to give me some kind of response tailored specifically to my visit, I would hate to disappoint. Do let's go ahead and dispense with the tale you've spun for me."

"Norton was never here," the old man explains with a faint smile as Elisabeth moves into the apartment. The door is closed, though not locked as it was before. "His name was planted on the database of security personnel at our Braintree Massachusetts facility in an attempt to control information and assess reactions to compromises in our network security. Though I will profess that I was also following orders of a different kind on putting Norton's name in the database. I apologize for the ruse," he admits with a wrinkled frown.

Moving from the door, the tired old man offers Elisabeth an askance look, motioning to the leather sofa and recliner with a sweeping motion of his liver-spotted hand before settling down in a much more sturdy and less padded wooden rocking chair angled to face the quiet television. "I've actually been wanting to speak to you, in confidence, for some time. Arranging to do so without directly involving Richard has been something of a conundrum, however…"

Smiling again, hesitantly, the old man folds his hands in his lap. "My name is Simon Broome," is perhaps the last thing Elisabeth wanted to hear, "and there is someone in my care who is extremely interested in meeting you."

There's a moment where Elisabeth has to think, Thank God. If for no other reason than that it broke her heart to think that if they were manipulating the man into working for them, the might have been promising things that …. just will never happen. But she buries that reaction. Her blue eyes never leave Simon Broome and her tone remains mild, polite, and only mildly …. not quite skeptical, just… wary of the bait. "Really. I'm sure the pleasure's all mine." Yeah… or something. "If you wanted to speak to me in confidence, Mr. Broome, I'm not terribly hard to find."

"No, you're not. But I would prefer that our meeting not be telegraphed to most of the people you have regular dealings with. Sarisa Kershner, Richard Cardinal, two very influential but equally dangerous individuals who may have divergent reactions should they be aware that you ever spoke with me, even in private." Simons leans back against the wood of the rocking chair with a creak.

"Has Richard told you about our last meeting in Central Park?" One of Simon's brows raise slowly. "About… the accident that happened to Tyler Case?" There's hesitance in the old man's demeanor, caution and care not to assume Elisabeth knows more than she leads on. The last thing, it appears, he wants to do is handle this revelation without a delicate touch.

Tipping her head, Elisabeth's lips quirk into a faint, sardonic smile. "Mr. Broome, I'm generally a reasonably calm woman. And I'm perfectly capable of deciding on my own whether or not to meet face to face with someone. For future reference, if you wish a confidential tete-a-tete, do me a favor and just ask. I'm willing to talk to you, and I'll decide after hearing what you have to say how I'll then act on the matter — at times that may require informing other people, while at other times they are far better off left in the dark. You'll just have to take the chance on it because I'll ultimately make my own choices on which category information will fall into. I'm aware of the fact that Tyler Case's body at this moment is inhabited by an alternate version of Richard, yes."

Her tone is matter-of-fact, and though her eyes remain watchful on the man — and now she sharpens sounds to verify whether he's actually alone in this apartment, something she probably should have done far sooner. Her body shifts so that her back is toward the wall and she can't be snuck up on.

"There's nothing alternate about him," Simon counters with a slowly exhaled sigh, "but I will leave explanations up to him. He's less then fifteen minutes away, at the moment, and if you want to I can call him right now and have him come out here to meet with you." But despite the offer, there's something that is nagging at Simon in an awkward way, a tension in his body that hasn't yet been reflected in his words.

Eventually, it becomes too much for Simon to hold on to. "I know that you don't know me well, Elisabeth, and it's understandable that you would have reservations about me. But I do want you to consider keeping this meeting of ours to yourself, at least until you have had time to digest everything you'll likely hear if you do agree to talk to Richard. It is a great risk we're taking, putting ourselves out there to meet with you and give you this opportunity."

A faint smile tugs up at the corners of Simon's mouth. "But you are the second-most important person in his life, and I could not call myself his friend if I didn't take the time to see to your needs." On that notion, Simon has a second offer for Elisabeth— one far more open ended.

"Is there anything I can do for you, Elisabeth? Anything at all."

That faint, sardonic smile plays about her lips once more. "I'll keep the offer on the back burner, Mr. Broome, and let you know." Elisabeth isn't about to give this man any more ammunition than he already has against her. "And I'll consider keeping the meeting to myself. I suppose it all depends on why it needs to be kept that way. You'll have to trust my instincts on the matter one way or the other, I suppose." It's all she'll give him.

"Certainly if he'd like to meet, I'm willing to speak with him." Elisabeth might be in the mood to slap his face for him, but then again…. cloak and dagger is somewhat second nature to her paranoid lover, so it's not as if this kind of action is as … unusual… as it should be. "It's time that I have some answers on this, Mr. Broome. And I do warn that while I don't expect to like the answers, I want all of them. So if he wants to show up here and lie to me, tell him not to bother."

"I have only ever known Richard to be a forthright and honest man," Simon offers on the character of Richard Cardinal. "When you've lived a life as hard as he has, eventually there comes a time when lying won't get you anywhere, won't solve problems, but only make them worse." On that, Simon retrieves a cell phone from his jacket pocket, sliding itopen with a click and defying age stereotypes by texting a message with a quick click of old thumbs on the keyboard.

Just a few button-taps later, Simon slides the phone shut with a snap and tucks it back into the breast pocket of his jacket. However Simon also pushes himself up to his feet, slowly getting up out of the rocking chair and dusting himself off. "I should give you time to compose yourself, Richard will likely be fifteen minutes or so."

Looking to the door, Simon offers a worried look, then settles his focus back to Elisabeth. "I won't be far away, we have the entire top floor rented out. I'll be in my apartment, down the hall. You can take this time to… put your mind in order, I suppose. There's a lot to consider."

She watches him get up, holding off on her instinctive move to help him. He's an old man, but Elisabeth doesn't entirely believe him to be harmless. "Who are you, Mr. Broome?" she asks quietly. Because so far as she knows, he's a man who had a brain in a jar reanimated. "What made you decide that Richard Cardinal's brain in a jar was …. worth reviving? And how did you even know about him?" Her tone is soft, but it seems a sincere question of why the hell a man would take a brain, revitalize it, and then follow the guy whose brain it was without question.

Hesitating when the question is asked, Simon halts with his profile offered to Elisabeth. He turns, only after a long moment of pause and offers Liz an apologetic smile. "I suppose that story is as much mine to tell as his…" It's a reluctant agreement, but an agreement never the less. "Richard Cardinal is my friend, he was for sixteen years up until the day of his unfortunate death. He first met me in 1961 on the day of my mother's funeral. I was overwrought, wracked with grief at her passing. But Richard was there to offer a hand to my shoulder and a sympathetic ear."

Looking down to the floor of the apartment, Simon offers a slow shake of his head. "Richard made some remarkable claims that day, told me the truth of who he was and where… when he'd come from. He knew about my father Otto's dispicable work in Nazi Germany, knew about my own fascination with it. Richard awoke me into a world of superhuman possibilities, enlightened me to the fact that my father was not just a madman, but that there were kernels of truth in his journals about men who could heal from gunshot wounds or create shields of force with their mind."

Looking up to Elisabeth, Simon's lips creep up into a faint smile. "We vowed to work together to save the world, he and I. With his knowledge of the future we were going to ensure a bright future for all mankind. But the cruelty of the world took Richard from it, and fate interceded to keep he and I apart for a very, very long time. I've been struggling for thirty-three years to find a way to bring him back…"

Sadness paints itself in Simon's expression. "I know he would do the same for his loved ones."

There's a long frown as Elisabeth assimilates the information he's offering. That Richard not only went back to 1977 where he was killed by Samson Gray, but at some point before that, he also traveled back in time to 1961. Or…. "That's why you asked about the tie," she murmurs softly. Broome wouldn't have asked if Cardinal had gone to 1961 and been trapped in the past for sixteen years before dying, though. "There were multiple trips backward," she surmises quietly. She shakes her head a little, walking toward the window now to look out. Richard apparently began doing exactly what we'd always said was the Worst. Idea. Ever. Christ, what the hell went so wrong? She sighs heavily and crosses her arms over her chest, brows pulled together and her jaw tight. "Thank you," she tells the older man.

Simon's expression remains decidedly neutral through Elisabeth's supposition on Cardinal's temporal wanderings. A moment later, his head dips down into a slow and solemn nod. "You're very welcome, Elisabeth," sounds a bit more somber than the atmosphere of the meeting might suggest. There's something markedly familiar about the attitude too, Richard gets that way sometimes, on discussion of November 8th.

"I'll give you your space," he adds, adjusting the lapels of his suit jacket before making way towards the door. "There's drinks in the refrigerator if you find yourself thirsty," Simon explains as he turns to look over his shoulder, fond smile creeping up on his lips. "It… it was a pleasure to finally meet you, too. Richard spoke of you so fondly."

She looks over her shoulder at him and simply nods. "I'm sure we'll be seeing one another again at some point," Elisabeth murmurs quietly. There's a simple, quiet kind of faith in that statement — whatever she knows about what's supposed to be coming at her, she is not flinching. "Thank you, Simon." And she settles to simply wait for the man who is inbound.

When the door clicks shut, it has a certain sense of finality to it. Not in that Elisabeth and Simon never meeting one another again, but in Elisabeth's decision. Once again, there's little recourse for backing out now. Cardinal — a Cardinal — is on his way here to see her, dressed up in the face of a man that Cardinal once — and still does — call his friend.

Fifteen minutes itself shouldn't seem like forever, but when the muted volume of the television discussing House and Senate shifting is the only company to have when faced with the prospect of a meeting like Elisabeth has impending, fifteen minutes might as well be fifty years.

Elisabeth turns off the television. The last thing she wants to listen to is the election shit coming through. How much of that is rigged? She wanders the apartment, finds herself a bottle of water, and walks back to the window… and there she'll stand, eyes looking out over the landscape outside. It's a far different view than she's used to.

There are a number of things that pass through her mind. She doesn't know exactly what to expect from this meeting. Is he going to tell her anything she wants to know, or will he simply tell her she's better off not knowing? It's a tactic that her Richard occasionally employs. Will she actually be able to tell that it's him in that body. And is he insane? Richard believed him to be, but …. Elisabeth finds herself now needing to know that. If he's gone so far down the rabbit hole that he's jumping time when he knows it just makes things worse and worse… is he insane or simply desperate? Dear God, can 15 minutes drag on more slowly?

They can.

Outside the window, Elisabeth watches cars pass as the sun finally ducks down beyond the horizon, casting the city into the dull glow of street lamps and headlights. Massachusetts is so far removed from New York, no craterous skyline of Midtown's gutted heart on the horizon, no constant reminder of the danger the Evolved represent. Every time Elisabeth has gotten away from New York City, she's been reminded of just how bad things are there.

How much worse they're going to get.

A knock on the door has the same startling impact of a gunshot as deep in thought as Elisabeth is. That the doorknob turns and door slowly opens following it is perhaps expected. The man who emerges from the other side, not quite as much. Tyler Case looks much like he did when Liz was working the case for the NYPD over a year ago. Tall, broad-shouldered, lantern-jawed and dressed in a pinstriped suit and fedora that smacks of Richard's style, the unfamiliar face carries himself with familiar gait.

There's no greeting, because Tyler looks too shaken up to say anything. On seeing Elisabeth with his own two eyes, the man stealing Tyler's body just stands there, lips parted in subtle gaping and eyes wide. It's been a long, long time.

Words can wait a little longer.

She turns as soon as the knock sounds through the room, her chin coming up as she takes in the body the man is wearing. Her blue eyes are … conflicted. She sets down the half-empty bottle of water on the windowsill and takes in the body language similarities for a moment. When she meets his gaze, she holds it. And there's sympathy in it when she reads his reaction in his expression, though she's not nearly as familiar with Tyler Case's expressions. Shock is a little hard to hide. "Hello, Richard," she says softly, giving him time to look his fill. She has the sense from speaking to Broome that the man inhabiting Tyler's body is not the same age as her Richard… that this one is perhaps far, far older.

Silent for a few more moments longer, Richard ever so slowly shuts the apartment door behind himself. Never once does he take his eyes off of Elisabeth, watching her with the astonishment of a man who has seen a ghost. Swallowing audibly, he offers a smile that is rife with anxiety, reaching up to remove his fedora and place it on the back of the leather recliner on his way across the living room.

"It's… it's been a long time, lover." Dark brows furrow, jaw sets tight, and there is an unmistable glassing to Cardinal's borrowed eyes as he watches Elisabeth, silhouette against the window by the city lights.

Despite trying to play it off cool and calm, it's obvious that he's troubled by the reunion. Clearing his throat and lifting up a hand to dry at his eyes, Cardinal coughs into his hand and attempts a smile again. This isn't nearly as easy as he'd thought.

She's surprised by the pang of hurt that hits her in the belly. Looking down for a moment, shuttering her expression, Elisabeth needs the brief span to compose herself. And when she looks up, she still has that sympathy for him. "I don't know how far in the future or how far sideways in an alternate timeline you may be coming from…. so I don't know how long it's been for you since I died." She swallows hard, touching her lower lip with her tongue for a moment to wet suddenly dry lips. For him, her death is as real as it gets… for her, it's still abstract, and for her Richard it is still what keeps him awake nights.

Moving finally as he stops in the room, it's not the fedora or the gait that gets her. It's the appellation of 'lover.' So familiar, so very much Richard. And she walks the several steps to reach up and cradle his cheek as she's always done. "I think we've got some things to talk about." The husky tone perhaps gives away that she is not entirely unaffected by what this Richard must have gone through. And she forces a bit of a smile. "And I should warn you that I'm mighty perturbed at you, love."

"Good to see some things haven't changed," Cardinal manages to quip, his half-smile not quite as roguish as it normally is, all things considered. Closing his eyes and leaning his cheek into Elisabeth's touch, there's an implicit trust there that anyone who knows what Elisabeth's ability is capable of might be afraid to consider.

Silent in that touch, Richard himself seems hesitant to return the affection. One hand lifts, fingers curl against his palm, and the hand lowers again. "A long way from now," Cardinal explains his voice hushed to a soft whisper. "Twenty-thirty was when I left, spent sixteen years in the past after what happened… died," his throat tightens, tone apologetic as if sorry to have had to burden Elisabeth with that knowledge.

"Last couple of weeks have been strange," he admits as eyes that aren't his open, too brown, too unfamiliar. "I didn't think you'd want to see me."

She strokes his cheek tenderly and leans up to kiss him softly. If for no other reason than that he needs to feel the brush of her lips on his cheek. And when she draws away, Elisabeth voice holds compassion as well as … something else. Velvet and lace-wrapped steel, perhaps. "Of course I'd want to see you," she says quietly. "You have always underestimated my ability to trust you…. nice to see a couple of decades hasn't changed that, I suppose." She sighs, looking for a place to start. There are so many things she needs to know, but she picks the last part. "I already knew that Samson Gray killed you. What I don't get is what the hell possessed you to start doing exactly what we said was the Worst. Idea. Ever."

Elisabeth shakes her head, the struggle to keep her head on the business at hand instead of indulging in what is probably a far more personal set of questions is evident in her features, and perhaps in the way that she continues to keep contact with him. It's a casual contact, but one that she unconsciously does, just as now, in the casual way of a woman both taking and recieving comfort from the other half of herself without being overly emotional about it.

"Time changes people," Richard admits reluctantly, "changes perspective. Things got worse, Lizzie, a whole lot worse. We tried to stop it, time and time again, and you know some times we made some good strides. But we had to make sacrifices too, had to make changes, had to…" Cardinal's eyes shut and he backs away from Elisabeth, lifting up his hand to where her hand once touched his cheek.

"People turned on us, Endgame turned on us. Suddenly we became the bad guys, because of what we were trying to do, trying to prevent. I'm not entirely sure I disagree with them too, but…" Richard offers a slow shake of his head, breathing in deeply and exhaling a sigh. "It doesn't matter now, that future can't— won't— happen. My being here is making ripples, making waves, changing enough but not anything dramatic. You can't change the future, you can only postpone it. I won't let anyone else ruin things my trying to make that same mistake again."

Swallowing anxiously, Cardinal looks past Elisabeth to the window behind her, then focuses back on her again. "You need to sit down, and I need to tell you some things."

Pursing her lips Elisabeth listens to him — most of it's fractured, not making much sense because he's struggling with it. She moves to do as he's asked, though, and sits slowly on the cushions of the chair so recently vacated by Simon Broome. "You sound like me," she admits quietly. Her own mindset has come that way pretty recently.

"I think you need to tell me pretty much everything," she says softly. "And I think at this moment I'm going to be pretty damn understanding of anything you say to me… but I highly recommend that you don't omit, sugarcoat, or lie. I didn't come here to be manipulated. I came to understand. Due to the way you're comporting yourself in all of this, you have to realize that I'm not convinced you can be trusted. And I'm not a bit convinced that your own perspective is the one that should become the be-all, end-all." She tilts her head. "That said, …. you and I've often gone rounds on whether some things just have to happen as they're meant to. So fill me in." And perhaps, just perhaps, his point of view will sway things.

"I had you killed," Richard explains in a hushed tone of voice, throat working up and down in a tight swallow. "Lola Mayeux, sniper rifle, took you out on the outskirts of Roosevelt Island, because Edward told me to." Brows furrowed, Cardinal exhales a shuddering breath and paces away from the chair. "That package I received all those years ag— " he hesitates, frame of time references all discombobulated. "The day we were with Niklaus, in your apartment?"

Turning to look over his shoulder to Liz, Cardinal's borrowed face sags into a frown. "I followed Edward's orders blindly, and I had you killed. I never told you, even after I got a man named Darren Stevens working for me, a man who could bring back the dead by rewinding their personal timeline…"

Cardinal looks down to the floor, silent.

"I never told you," and it's eating him alive. "We had a son." His throat tightens. "Cameron."


Okay…. the news that he had her killed? Yeah. That's news. Her face goes slack-jawed with absolute shock. Elisabeth forgets to breathe. He had. her. killed. He told Lola to kill her. Her face goes sheet-white and there is a subaudible vibration that rushes through the room, fluffing his hair and rattling the water bottle she left sitting on the windowsill toward the edge to fall off. Just below the edge of hearing, the bass rumble that is so much more felt than heard — one he hasn't heard or felt in decades — rolls.

Counter to the more subtle responses, Elisabeth's other physical reactions are far more low-key. She rubs sweaty palms on her jeans and shoves herself to her feet to pace around the furniture. "Really," she says with a dry mouth. "So you… had me killed. And then… had me resurrected. And… I forgave you that, and we had a child?" she asks, her brain refusing to comprehend. "And…. I let you name him that?"

"I brought you back," Cardinal explains with a tightness in his voice and stiffness in his posture, "I never said I told you the truth." Decades have only given him more of a poker-face than he already had, and while the bass hum of Elisabeth's ability thrumms in his chest, it's more that he's reliving these moments that is hurting so damned much. "Stevens, I used his ability, we brought you back from the dead. We— I never told you it was me, I never told you who shot you. I… I kept that lie for years."

Swallowing tightly, Richard looks askance to the window. "Stevens brought you back from the dead, the same way he helped bring back what was left of me so Doc Carpenter could fix me up. You… were thankful that I brought you back, thankful that I had gone through so much effort to save you." Blinking his eyes shut, Richard lifts a hand to brace his fingers against his forehead.

"You chose the name," but Richard doesn't explain why. "I didn't have a lot of say in our son's life. But none of that matters now, none of that is going to happen now."

Elisabeth pivots and frowns. "Well," she asserts in a calm tone that is belied by the hum underlying everything. "First of all, you're a stupid ass for not admitting it then. Second of all, you're a stupid ass for not having say in your son's life." Yes, learning that he had her killed on Edward fucking Ray's orders pisses her off…. but what makes her more angry is that he didn't trust her. "What I should do is slap you into next week, you goddamn fuckwit. What I'm going to do, however, is tell you that my Richard has not done that stupid-ass shit as yet and has no intention of doing so — though now I understand why he's waking up in the mornings yelling "No!" from nightmares — and so if you're counting on those actions to help facilitate anything, you better fucking kill me yourself here and now."

Her fury rages through the sound of her voice in subsonic harmonics that she cannot quite control. Glass is rattling all over the damn place at this point, even the plate safety glass in the windows. "And if that is not on your goddamn agenda, I highly suggest you keep on talking and tell me the things I need to know so that I can walk out of here and cool off."

That /her// Richard is having nightmares causes this one to pause, brows furrowed and head tilted to the side subtly. "I'm not going to kill you," he admits in a hushed tone of voice, tucking his hands into the pockets of his slacks. "I regretted that decision from the moment I made it. Edward's list— Crum aside— was probably all bullshit. I never managed to finish the entire thing, God knows what would have happened if I did…"

Sliding his tongue over his lips, Richard looks up slowly to Elisabeth, brows pinched in a furrow of scrutiny. "I really don't know what else to tell you, except that we lost. There was a war, and we lost. That I even came back here at all was an accident, a Moab-tier accident. I was stranded here, lost in the past in the middle of the goddamned desert for weeks… surviving as a shadow, a ghost."

Cardinal's eyes shut, one hand lifts up to his face and his tone softens. "…and none of it is your fault, I— I'm sorry. I'm angry at myself, not you."

"Well, good, that makes two of us," Elisabeth retorts, unable to bite her tongue on that ascerbic response. She shoves a shaking hand through her blonde hair, her shirt pulling up a bit to flash the weapon she's wearing. There is a long moment of silence as she struggles to pull her abilities under control. "In your timeline, everything was different. Because of all of the changes you've made since you landed in 1961," she tells him quietly. "So… " She clenches her jaw, considering. "The riots are going to happen no matter what." She turns and looks at him. "Richard's already told me that you don't believe that changing anything will be good. That the point is to hunker down. What is it that you want me to do?" she demands of him tightly.

Silence is something Elisabeth Harrison deals with on a regular basis, something she controls. Unfortunately no amount of audiokinetic power can make Richard Cardinal talk when he doesn't want to, or when he can't find the words to. Silent as he stares at her, then averts his eyes to the floor, Richard paces away from Elisameth with his hands tucked into the pockets of his slacks again.

"I want…" he begins, voice hushed, "you to live," is priority number one. But there's an agenda, there's a need, and when Cardinal turns around the obvious question is asked, even as he looks pained to ask it.

"Come back with me," is offered to quietly, "to the Institute, away from Endgame."

"Join the Institute."

"Oh, I'm going to live, lover," Elisabeth says quietly. Her rage hasn't abated much, but there is compassion in her blue eyes for him. "I can't — won't — ask you to tell me what happened between us — because in trying to thwart whatever happens, I have a feeling it will just make things worse. I would rather trust my own instincts …. and his." Because her Richard has already rejected the possibility of killing her. That she knows to the bottom of her soul.

Liz shoves her hands into her pockets and looks at him, her expression … sad. "Even now, knowing what you did… pissed as hell at you… I still love you. And in point of fact, I still believe you did what you did because you honestly thought it was the right thing to do. Maybe if you'd given me enough credit, things might have gone different in your personal timeline. Maybe they wouldn't." She has already begun to believe that knowing the future at all is a bad thing. That by tampering we're making matters much worse than they would have been to start with. But she won't say that to him. It's something she'll work out with Richard.

Elisabeth sucks in a deep breath and says quietly, meeting his gaze, "I'm not saying no. But I won't agree right now either. You're going to have to do a hell of a lot better in the details department. We're going to do our best to thwart at least some of the damage on November 8. Whatever help you can offer on that front would be most appreciated. After that…." She trails off. Strange how much it hurts to say the next words aloud. "You are not the man I would fight and die for. Right now, I just don't trust you — I think everything you're doing is a knee-jerk reaction to your own guilt at both killing me and whatever else you did after that. Until you can trust me enough to talk to me about what your plans actually are… I don't know if I can help you at all." She smiles a little at him, blue eyes soft with a mingled affection and exasperation."

"Richard knows my plans…" His double explains with a hushed tone of voice, eyes partway lidded and head turned to look out the windows to the night-time skyline of Somerville. "What you suggested is what I recommended to him. Mitigate the damage of the riots as best as possible, but don't try to stop them outright or you'll wind up causing even more catastophe than you want."

Looking back to Elisabeth, Cardinal's borrowed brows crease. "The Institute is going to be securing some valued individuals during the riots, protecting them in our custody. That is how we are going to help out, by removing them from the crisis scenario."

"Mmmm," Elisabeth says quietly. "So…. you're back to kidnapping people?" she comments, not exactly rhetorically. "You know…. seems to me that your actions have already caused a rather large problem. You gave a third of the goddamn city precog visions after kidnapping people who probably would have done what you needed if you'd just asked." She tilts her head. "The years have taken their toll on you… not in that you'll do whatever you think is right no matter the cost. It's always a part of you. But in that you'll traumatize and fuck over the very people who would help you because in a future that doesn't happen they turned on you." Her lips firm. "Perhaps you should seriously consider that you might yourself be part of the problem in making things worse," she observes softly.

She moves to walk toward the door. "For whatever it's worth to you," Elisabeth tells him quietly, "if you need my help, you'll have it. If you have things you want me to act on, then ask. But Cardinal?" She looks over her shoulder at him, a hand on the knob. "Don't put me in a position to have to choose between you. Richard will win."

"It's only kidnapping if they don't want to stay after they're taken," Richard reminds with a raise of one brow. "Eve's received psychological treatment, same with a healer we picked up who had severe psychological issues. We've also detained several dangerous individuals like Leonardo Maxwell, the psychopath who tried to kill people at a vaccine station at St. John's over the winter."

One of Richard's brows raise slowly. "Everyone we've taken has been for their own protection, or everyone else's protection." Hes digging his heels in on this position, even as he advances on Liz by the door.

"Lizzie, we've done everything we can to try and protect people while pretending to be on the government's side. There's— been some mistakes along the way, like Gregor," but yet he doesn't deride Bao-Wei Cong or Bella Sheridan, oddly. "But we're trying to clean our house…"

She puts her back to the door, tipping her head to look up at him. "See, here's the thing about dancing with the devil," she murmurs as he approaches. "One day you open your eyes and realize that even with your best intentions you've become the monster, lover."

She watches him and says softly, "I'm not going to let Richard become you. I can't imagine the things you've seen. That you've lived through to become willing to justify the things you have to do to keep up the appearance of being on the government's side. I'm not entirely convinced that you're not on their side. And since your explanation is sorely lacking in details aside from being 'for everyone's protection' — which, by the way, is the same argument Arthur Petrelli used too, if you recall — I can't just…. take your word for it. No matter how much I want to."

And she does want to. The desire to trust him is a powerful one, the struggle to deal with all that he has said evident.

"I'm not Arthur," Richard says in a hushed tone of voice, brows furrowed. But then, something seems to resonate with him, a notion and a memory, and he looks down to his feet for a moment, then back up to Liz. "Maybe Arthur wasn't as bad of a monster as we'd made him out to be, because after all these years, all I have ever wanted to do was get our world back on the track he'd started to put it on…"

Swallowing tensely, Cardinal slowly shakes his head. "If we'd tried to fix things, work with the future Arthur was trying to make and change the problems with it instead of just murdering him and leaving a power vacuume…" Cardinal's eyes shut and a hand comes up to his forehead.

"Too many maybe's," he murmurs, exhaling a sign and looking past Liz to the door. "I can't expect you to come around right away. But… think about it, lover." There's a tightness in Cardinal's voice as he offers that.

"My door, it's always open for you." Even if, in a way, his heart isn't.

Elisabeth hesitates and offers softly, "Let me talk to Eve." The White Queen's oracle was quite literally snatched away and so far as Liz can tell is under guard. "If she can convince me that what you've done for her is something that she's okay with, that you haven't coerced her or otherwise done…. things in her head, that what you're doing actually is a path that we can all live with… I'll think long and hard on it," she promises quietly. It perhaps doesn't help that she's been considering the very same questions for a while now. And there are no answers. But perhaps Eve can help in one way or another.

"I can arrange for that," Cardinal intones with an arch of one brow. "You'd have to come to her, however. I can't risk something happening to Eve, and I won't be dropping security on the main building until the week after the 8th, so it will have to be somewhere beyond then. But I can arrange for you to have some face time with her at her apartment."

Cardinal's brows furrow thoughtfully. "She's much more lucid, much calmer, happier. She missed everyone, but… she understands why she's at the Institute. I'll get in touch with you the week after the 8th through my liaison Desmond Harper, he's with DHS."

"No," Elisabeth says quietly. "She knows my cell number and how to get hold of me. You have her text me with a time and place. Assuming my head is still attached to my body and I'm not a bloody pulp in a hospital somewhere… I will respond. I hardly trust you at this moment, and you want me to trust Harper not to meet me with God only knows what kind of response?" She shakes her head slightly. "Keep him off me for now."

Exhaling a sigh and lifting one hand to his forehead, Cardinal rubs the heel of his palm against his brow. "Alright," is grousingly offered, followed by a worried look up to Elisabeth. "Oh and… I do have one warning that I need you to relay to Richard. I— didn't think to say anything about it, not until Simon informed me of some— changes that have taken place."

Tongue sliding across his lips, Cardinal in his borrowed body displays a look of distaste. "Get rid of Elle Bishop, soon." His dark brows furrow tightly together, "Or she is going to cause a rift between the Ferrymen and Endgame that will never be healed."

Elisabeth's blue eyes narrow visibly. "Now… if you were really out to keep people safe for their own fucking safety, that woman would top the list, Cardinal. She's volatile and troublesome, completely fucked up in the head, and every once in a while I think she's suicidally fucking stupid in the bargain." She purses her lips faintly and says, "Tell me how she causes the rift. I want to know. I have no intention of running interference here without an idea of what she does and why," because quite frankly it's not like this really is news, but… Elle's a loose cannon. And she already knows that. The girl may want to help, but she may be too damaged to be of help.

"We tried," is grated between Cardinal's clenched teeth, "but apparently I am just as stubborn as I remember being. We were trying to get Bishop medical help and therapy, but your Richard swept her away from the Institute where she was receiving counseling and medication."

Lifting up a hand to his forehead, Cardinal rubs his fingers over his brow. "November 8th, somewhere in Brooklyn, she savagely attacks Noah Bennet out of some sick sense of payback for what the Company did to her. I don't know if she was unaware that he was one of the lynchpins of the Ferrymen or just didn't care, but when she nearly killed him…"

Cardinal's head shakes slowly. "The Ferry found out, knew who she worked for, and you know how people perceive me. They assumed it was planned."

She can't help but laugh at him. "Well… perhaps if you'd told him who you were, he might have been a little more trusting." She reaches out and touches his chest lightly. "You have always had a tendency to distrust people, especially when they're not being straight. And then you went and tried to play a head game on yourself. I wouldn't say that's the brightest move you've ever made, lover," she says drily. "I'll take Elle's situation under advisement." She holds her own counsel on what she may or may not already know on the matter. "Anything else?"

Richard's silence seems to imply no, as he turns to face the same window Elisabeth had been standing in front of when he arrived; a changing of the guard.

"Norton never showed up again," sounds jealous, shouldn't be, but does. "I'm sorry that Simon thought to use his name to draw you and some other people we're looking for out into the open. I don't know what happened to him… I'm sorry."

Crossing his arms over his chest, Richard Cardinal stares at his own muted reflection in the glass. A reflection both of him, and not of him.

"It doesn't matter," Elisabeth says quietly. "He deserves peace. The trip to the future broke him. The only reason his name drew me here was because I thought you manipulated him with an offer he couldn't refuse, and I wanted him out of this."

She moves up behind him and wraps her arms around his waist, a stance as familiar as breathing though his body is a different one. Elisabeth murmurs into the fabric there, "The things you did? I forgive you, Richard. For all of it." She doesn't think he's really asking for such, but she offers it freely. "And I hope that you know … whatever pain I caused you over those years that won't happen now … I loved you. Until the day I die and right into hell, no matter what you do or how pissed I get at you or how much I may disagree with you…. nothing will change that." She presses a soft kiss to the back of his shoulder and slips away, not looking back as she takes her leave.

Watching Elisabeth's reflection disappear in the glass of the window, Richard's head slouches forward until his brow touches the cold glass. Eyes fall shut as Cardinal exhales a sigh that sounds more like a death rattle, lifting up one hand to lightly touch his fingertips against the glass.

"I know you do…" Cardinal only whispers after Elisabeth is long gone, the words shared more for himself than anyone else. But it hurts, that realization, because it makes the pain of what really happened all the more tangible.

"…I know you do."

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