Are We The Good Guys Or The Bad Guys?


cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Are We The Good Guys Or The Bad Guys?
Synopsis Cardinal and Elisabeth have a conversation in the darkness about the calm before the storm.
Date July 28, 2009

Elisabeth's Apartment

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.

Although 10:00 is still relatively early, Elisabeth's apartment is dark except for the small nightlight she leaves in the front hall. It comes on automatically for those nights that she lets herself in at the wee hours so she doesn't trip on something. It's possible she's not even home yet; it's been a bitch and a half of a day. Discharging her firearm in the first place is grounds for suspension pending investigation into *why* she was involved in a shootout at point-blank range. And the paperwork involved is absolute hell. But she is home — she finally got home around 8:00, stood under the shower until …. well, she would have stood there until the hot water ran out, but living in an apartment building like this, one of the perks is nearly unending hot water. So she stood there until whenever she finally climbed out. Long enough ago that her hair's only damp instead of soaking wet as she lays on her couch in a bathrobe going over the events of the past few days in her head.

There's no click of the door's lock turning over, no tell-tale rattling of the knob this time. The first sign that there is, in fact, someone else in the apartment with her is the flush of the toilet. Hey, a man's got to go sometimes. Richard meanders out from the bathroom, the door pushed closed behind him as he calls out easily, "Evenin' babe. Long day?"

Well, doesn't that just bring her up off the couch in a flurry of movement. What the hell?? Her eyes are dark-adjusted by now, at least, and when he comes out of the bathroom, she's kneeling looking over the back of the couch, her expression of surprise easily read by him anyway. "Jesus Christ, Richard!" she growls, flumping back down onto the couch in a huff. "Are you trying to gimme a heart attack?" The glass she reaches for from the floor beside her — a glass with several fingers of a beverage with a far higher alcoholic content than wine, clearly — might explain why she doesn't immediately tweak to other question….. but after a gulp of the fiery drink and a moment to think, she comes back up on her knees to peer over the couch. "Shit… you got your powers back!" She sounds… pleased.

"Or I've just gotten better at breaking into your apartment," Cardinal observes, although there's a hint of slyness to his smile that suggests the first answer's right. The shadowmorph steps along over to the back of the couch, slouching forward to lean on its back with both arms, grinning down at her, "Besides, you'd think you'd be used to strange men in your apartment…"

A faint grin slips across her face at the tease about the breaking in, and though she looks tired, her grins widens as he leans down. "Well, I'm sort of used to it, I suppose…. though most of them don't let themselves in," she quips back. Propping her chin on her hand while she kneels there, she murmurs quietly, "You were right. It was stupid to go." Because go she did … she and Cassidy. "Someone — don't know if it was Reed or just someone else Tangent pissed off — took the asshole's head off in the street anyway. Which of course meant the homeboys damn near took our heads off." There's a faint grimace.

A lift of both brows. "Shit. You all right?" There's a hint of concern there as he looks over her, though there's no obvious injuries, so he leans in to brush a kiss to her brow, "Nobody else got hurt, I hope?"

"Yeah, I'm all right," Liz sighs quietly, turning a little into the buss. "Earned us a couple days of desk duty and a visit to the shrink," she grouses. "I shot some fuckin' kid in the face." Which is the suckiest part of her job, honestly… and explains why she's got the bourbon out. She finishes the last swallow out of the glass she had in her other hand then reaches to set it on the end table without moving far from the perches they've staked out for themselves. "Cassidy took down another one and got grazed. Her partner was fit to be tied," she sighs quietly, her chin still propped in her hand. "The lieutenant was fit to be tied. And frankly? I'm not sure I should have bothered. Of all the kids who should have been saved, he was the last on the list, if you want the truth."

"You'n me both know there's some people who don't deserve to breathe the same air as the rest've us, babe," Richard says with a shake of his head, pushing up from the back of the couch and stepping around to circle it, dropping down to sit on the cushions and leaning back, draping an arm over its back to scratch lightly at her shoulder as he flashes a reassuring smile, "Just forget about it."

Moving when he does, Liz slouches back down into the couch pulling her knees up so that she's curled into a bit of a ball on the cushion, winding up sitting close but not up against him when he joins her. Most people wouldn't see the expression of weary acceptance of that opinion, but most people can't see like he does. She doesn't have words to respond to that, and kind of figures he doesn't really need to hear the things running through her head at this point. "So tell me what you've been up to the last few days? It'll take my mind off washing blood spatter out of my hair," she says dryly. "See you got your powers back. What else?"

As she nestles in near to him, Cardinal shifts in a bit; sliding the arm along the couch's back loosely over her shoulders to invite her in, his head shaking just a little bit. "Mostly just following up with people, checking into what's been going on… I've still got a lot to do, things aren't even close to being over," he admits, his tone rueful, "There's plenty of threats still lurking just out of sight."

With a soft sigh, Elisabeth takes the silent offer and scoots in curl into his side and rest her head on his shoulder while he talks. "Tell me what's going on?" she asks. "There are enough remnants of things on the loose that I know it's not over, but… I also don't have a clue what else is out there," she admits. "Both Edwards are out of the way, Taylor Reed's a ghost in the machine so either Wireless is going to have to deal with him or we're going to have to find some way to put him out of commission. The elder Wight is dead. We've got an elder Nathan Petrelli out there somewhere… maybe even in the Oval Office already, I'm not entirely sure… " She trails off, trying to remember the painting and who's actually still on the loose. "What else?" she asks.

"You think that Edward's out of the way? Dead, maybe, but…" Cardinal's head shakes ever so slightly, "He didn't bring Nathan with him for nothing - he didn't bring Reed with him for nothing. He didn't remove the thing that was in Abigail and put it in Deckard for nothing." A grimace twists the man's lips, his eyes closing, "Ray never did anything by chance. We still need to find out what he was doing. Plus, there's FRONTLINE about to crash down on Staten… there's Humanis… and let's not forget Kazimir Volken."

Elisabeth nods to each of the iterations, until he gets to the last one, and then her head jerks up so she can look at him. "What do you mean, Kazimir Volken?" she demands. "I thought he was gone! Dammit… I'm getting real fuckin' tired of the bad guys coming back to life!"

"I don't know." Cardinal purses his lips in a frown, looking down to her, "Apparently, the precogs've been dreaming about him, and— well, the information I got from Nakamura suggests that the evil in Kazimir was around a lot longer. His power, Abigail's power— they're not what we thought."

It always seems so much easier to really talk in the dark. This isn't exactly one of those 4am conversations — the darkest hours of the night tend to be reserved for the really big kinds of confessions or words that you just wouldn't say in the light of day (or at least most people wouldn't), perhaps for fear of seeing something they don't want to see in the other's face. But just being in the dark seems to make it easier to not hold back things. "I got the impression that the thing that was Abby's power was…. far more eternal. I didn't really… want to think about what that meant for Volken," she admits quietly. There's a heavy sigh as she says softly, "When I shot that kid in the face, I didn't even… " She hesitates. "I can't even say I'm sorry for it. There are people who've been fighting this fight a lot longer than me, and I feel guilty for even admitting that …. I'm already tired of it. Especially when they keep just… coming back. It's not like we're actually winning…. " She looks up at him. "We're making a difference, assuredly. Guess it's sort of like being a cop in that regard," she adds in a sardonic tone. "There is no winning. There's just… surviving. Trying to keep most people out of the line of fire."

"That's why I've never really signed on with Phoenix, really," replies the ex-con with a regretful shake of his head, his fingers brushing up and down the line of her neck in an absent caress of fingertips, "There's no… winning, really, like you said. They don't even have an agenda, per se - they want freedom, liberty, but how? I haven't heard any ideas for how they'd do things better. Lots of defiance, few ideas." He looks down to her with a wry half-smile, "The only way to really get what they want would be an actual revolution, and I don't think they're willing to go that far."

"It's not just Phoenix, Richard," Elisabeth replies softly. "I'm working on a serial killer case that I can't get a handle on, I've completely and utterly failed to head off Taylor Reed's vendetta — and at the one kid really did deserve to have a chance. He wasn't even a criminal yet," her tone is regretful. "FRONTLINE is already in motion, and honest to God…. I'm not entirely sure I'm against the idea of that, except that you know it'll be as corrupt as the damn Company because it just will. And stopping it? I seriously doubt that's even an option — and if we go to a full-on revolution, we're just proving the need to HAVE it." She leans her head back against his arm. "You're complaining that they don't have any better ideas — and I'm conceding the point — but … do you?" she asks curiously.

"Not a one." Cardinal rubs a hand against his brow, his expression openly rueful as he looks across the room, "To be honest… I think that maybe, hard as it is to say, Edward Ray may've been right. If he'd told me his whole plan, I don't… know if I would've tried to stop him. Maybe the opposite." He's silent for a few moments, then closes his eyes, "Do you know what Arthur was going to do with Delphine?"

With a soft, rueful chuckle at his admission, Elisabeth leans over to rest her forehead in the curve of his throat. It's a spot that is comfortable and she feels finally calmed from the hell that has been the last two days. Amazing what just sitting with someone's arm around you can do, neh? "Well, at least I'm not the only clueless one in this room," she finally says quietly. "Wanna know the shittiest part about knowing the future at all?" It's mostly rhetorical. "When you change it, you have to wonder …. did you make it better or make it worse?"

"Are we the good guys, or the bad guys…?" A low chuckle stirs past Cardinal's lips, and he slants a look down to her, murmuring, "I'm just gonna take care of problems as they come up, one at a time. Me and… well, some friends, and allies." He presses a kiss down to the top of her head, murmuring, "Phoenix is going to be hunted down as soon as FRONTLINE finishes up with Staten, Liz. You know that."

There's a slow nod against his lips. Her voice is almost sad as Elisabeth half-whispers, "I know. They already know who most of us are anyway. We're on borrowed time. Have been since the Narrows. I just keep hoping that …. whatever borrowed time we've got, we manage to do something good with." She's silent for a long moment. "I hope I don't need to actually say to you that if you want my help… "

"Of course not." A sigh stirs through her hair, as he murmurs, "The time isn't here for politics— not yet, not until they do something that steps over the line. I think Phoenix should disappear, if you want my opinion, scatter and wait for that line to be overstepped. If they're going to work on anything, they should work on shit like that Day of Miracles thing from awhile back, I remember reading about it in the paper." He pauses, "You can't fight for liberty and take out threats. You can't do both. It won't work in the court've public opinion. Anything positive you do'll be tainted."

Elisabeth smiles faintly and says quietly, "Odd you should say that. I believe that Cat and Helena are already working in that direction. And it's one that I'm planning on encouraging. Waiting around to jump from crisis to emergency…. most of 'em are fuckin' kids, Richard. They haven't even done anything else with their lives." She sighs and moves to look up at him. "I don't know where we go from here, but I think Cat's actually starting to look at some interesting angles. Putting her thoughts into actual writing — things like drafts of actual laws, how to deal with the Evolved criminals, that kind of thing. Basing them on current legal system stuff."

"Then tell them to get off the militance," Cardinal says firmly to that, leaning back a bit, "Get off the threat containment, leave that to… other groups, to people who've already fucked their lives up. People like me and mine, like the Remnant, people who're already outlaws for th'most part. Focus on liberty and legal shit, on changing the laws, on making a difference. Leave the killing to those suited for it. Or else they're just fucking their cause up."

"And where do I fall in your little plan to neatly box people into their nice, neat categories?" Elisabeth teases with a small smile. Because suited to killing, she clearly is.

"You're a cop that's been into terrorist activities on your off time," he replies with a grin down, "Sorry, babe. You're as fucked as I am."

She moves then, not out of his arms but instead sliding her leg over top of him to pivot herself and settle on his lap facing him, her bathrobe settled around her legs almost demurely. "Not yet. But since we're going to be in same camp, I'm hoping to pretty much stay that way," she admits on a soft laugh. Her amusement still doesn't reach her blue eyes, there's just too much dark in her soul tonight. Her hands slide up to cradle his throat and she leans down to brush her lips along the line of his jaw, rasping on the scruff he habitually sports. "You scared me," she whispers in his ear. "Next time let me help, okay?" She nips him lightly.

As she slides into his lap, he curls his arms about her waist— pulling her in against his chest, his head tilting back a bit as her lips brush along his jaw, the breath in his ear causing a bit of a squirm and a quiet chuckle. "Okay," he murmurs, rubbing his cheek to hers lightly with a graze of short, crisp stubble, eyes closed as he leans his face against her, "There's a lot of shit about to go down. This's just the calm before the storm, babe. Might lose your job, or worse."

Elisabeth turns her face into his cheek with a gentle nuzzle. There's a tension to her body and she starts to say something that she bites back with effort. She kisses his cheek and wraps her arms around him, snugging herself into his body for the tight hug. She doesn't seem in a hurry to move it from this to pure sex, and when she finally speaks the note in her voice is … odd. "Don't take this the wrong way," she says in a rough whisper. "But I'd rather have your back than have to bury you. I'm a big girl… I knew what I was getting into when I chose to go back on the job and when I chose to do what I've done." She smiles a bit against his skin. "You really think I'd be able to stand back and just watch, no matter the cost?"

The arms about her wrap more fully around her in return, fingers pressing into her back as he crushes her in against his chest briefly before relaxing his grip; cheek against her temple, his eyes closing as he savours the warmth of her against him for a few moments. "We can rest when we're done," he tells her quietly, not voicing what that really means. He knows, all too well. "I can't promise you'll like where I lead you, Liz."

Her body shakes in his hands, though whether it's laughter, tears, or something else isn't obvious. "And this is different from the rest of my life exactly how?" Elisabeth asks softly without pulling away from him. "I've upheld laws I don't even believe in because I swore an oath to do it; I've become a terrorist against all my better instincts because rebellion seemed to be what was required… and because I wanted revenge. I'm not some Shirley Temple out there, you know. The whole reason I started on this road was because Ethan's fuckers hurt my kids, Richard. If I don't like what's happening, I'll walk. But even if that happens," she says as she pulls back to look him in the face. "I'll stay out of your way unless or until you cross that kind of line with me. And then, and only then, will I be a threat to you."

As she looks at him, he looks back to her… and one hand lifts to stroke against her cheek, as he murmurs quietly, "You know, life was a lot easier when I was just a second-story man. I don't even know what I am, these days." He leans in, brow resting to hers, eyes closing as he murmurs, "I'm glad I've got at least a couple've people I can trust, though."

Now that does make Elisabeth laugh softly in his embrace. "Yeah…. life sure was a whole lot easier when I was just a cop or just a teacher." Her eyes crinkle at the corners this time, her amusement genuine as she rests her forehead against his. "I'd have to say the phrase that suggests itself to me is 'reluctant hero.' You're 'that guy'… the morally grey one who steps up when the times and situation require him because at the bottom of it all… you're a good man."

"Yeah, well, one've these days," Cardinal replies in wry tones, pressing a kiss to her brow, "You'll remember when I told you I wasn't. Now, we gonna talk all night, or get to bed?"

"On that day, I might or might not agree with you. We'll see," Elisabeth admits easily. And then she leans down to kiss him heatedly before sliding backward out of his lap and offering her hand in silent invitation to repair to the bedroom for the night.

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