Biggest Small Town


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Scene Title Biggest Small Town
Synopsis A random coalescence of passers-by turns out to consist of forgotten acquaintances and people who all know the same people. Conversation topics range from would-be superheroes to prison tattoos to collecting hallucinations and saving the world.
Date June 13, 2010

Central Park

A gentle rain falls from the heavens above, the leaden caress of the sprinkling a welcome relief from the heat and humidity of the summer day - so sudden a change from the bitter chill of mere weeks before, when it seemed as if the entire city was doomed to be entombed in ice and snow in a sudden Fimbulwinter. A poetry that might have appealed to the Vanguard if any remnant of that organization still existed.

The softly flashing lights of an ambulance cut through the rain where a bicycler taking a trail in the park skidded out and broke his leg rather badly; he's stable, but he's putting up a fuss about his bike and swearing about lawyers at the moment while the police are trying to calmly explain to him that he is, in fact, just an idiot.

Cardinal's stepped out of the rain for some cover in a small gazebo-like structure off to the side of the trail a bit ahead, just relaxing back on a bench and watching the rain fall, absently munching from a bag of Baked Lays chips - a wistful expression on his face, shades tucked over his eyes.

Jogging towards the gazebo, clear plastic rain jacket over her uniform, there's a backwards glance for the ambulance to study it. Not one of theirs, belongs to a different hospital. Not yet time for work, post religious ceremonies, Abigail's uniform is on beneath the jacket, but getting in a lunch before she has to slink off and save people beside baby Petrelli.

Cardinal's corporeal form is visible, recognized and she adjusts course towards him. Coffee's beneath shroud, more than a few - he can take some back to wherever - a bag of fast food and donuts beneath. Unhealthy meal it seems. "You chose to be out in the rain? Compound fracture, he skidded out. Says he's going to sue the city, for not keeping the paths up to code. He seems to forget that we just had the ice age happen" when she slips into the minimal shelter provided by the gazebo. "Coffee, Richard?"

Rain or not, Monica's mind seems to be firmly on one thing at the moment and that is working out. There's nothing to get your mind off a troubling hallucination than a long run through slippery city streets. She has the hood of her sweatshirt slung up over her head, presumably for protection from the rain, but she must have been at this for a while, because the woman is plenty soaked even in the gentle rain. She is, by chance, heading vaguely in the direction of that gazebo, but doesn't seem to be seeing who's there just yet.

The rain is not a welcome friend to April today, but that's why she has an umbrella. Dark hair tied back in a ponytail, she's dressed in an olive-colored tanktop and black shorts, shoes something that used to be white a very long time ago. Rather than vague, her approach is direct — following paths will do that for you. Albeit in the opposite direction, as she comes around a corner, passes beside the gazebo with only a brief glance at the strangers within… and then pauses to consider the ambulance and police in slightly greater detail.

Not quite the hazards she's accustomed to encountering on her walk.

"Abigail." A smile tugs up at the corner of Cardinal's lips as he sits up, drawing his legs in from where they were stretched out, "I'm enjoying the rain. Reminds me that I'm alive… sure, I'd love some." He reaches out a hand to accept the offer, "So, what, he wants to sue the city for not maintaining the park? He does remember that the park was under like fifteen feet of fucking snow a month ago, right?"

"Curb that tongue around me please." Softly chided, yet Abby nods. A glance is given to April as she comes to a stand, near the gazebo. "Come on in, out of the rain, watch the fireworks and circus act. We were just discussing it." There's even an offer of coffee made to April, held out beyond the clear jacket. "I have extra's if you like."

Monica's a shape in the distance, someone unrecognized but watched none the less. "How's Liz, Richard?"

As the runner gets closer, she looks as though she might run right past the gathering, except for the fact that she almost runs smack into April. It's just some last minute fancy sidestepping that avoids collision. But Monica does stop to turn back to address her. "Sorry! Sorry about that. My head, completely somewhere… else. Did I hit you?" It's only then that she seems to notice the lights and police and everything, which gets a blink and a look that seems confused on when the heck they got there.

The offer of coffee is met with a startled sideways glance as Abby's words intrude upon April's otherwise-occupied thoughts. "Huh? Oh." She steps closer, not quite entering the gazebo but accepting the styrofoam container in a bemused sort of fashion. New Yorkers are notorious for lacking generosity, not handing out beverages to perfect strangers. Then again, the pink-haired girl doesn't exactly have a local accent, does she? "Thank you," April replies, nodding politely to them both.

She watches the 'circus act' for a few moments, sipping idly at the coffee while keeping her umbrella in position with the other hand. But it's the sidelong, speculative glance at Cardinal that leaves April wide open for Monica's almost-collision; she twists towards the young woman, coffee cup hitting the ground and that same hand coming up reflexively between them, fingers splayed, palm towards Monica. If it were held out to intercept, the motion would seem a little more normal.

April blinks at Monica, twice, then lets her hand fall. "…No. No, it's — it's fine," she says, backing up a couple of small steps.

"Oh, she's just fine…" A sip of coffee's taken, Cardinal letting the admonishment about language go right over his head. She's been saying it to him since they first met, and he's ignored her every single time. "Overworked, but fine. Oh— hey— we're going to be opening up a security firm — Rebecca Nakano, I don't know if you know her? She's coming in too, so we'll be merging in her investigation business too, I suppose. Hey, you know if Brenda needs a job? I could use a secretary with a real short skirt to sit out front from my office…"

A rogue's smile twitches to his lips as he raises up his coffee cup, before his attentions's caught by the near collision in front of them. Huh. "Monica! Hey, come take a load off…" Straightening, the other woman gets a quizzical, speculative look of her own. Does he know her from somewhere?

"Right, Brenda as a secretary. I can ask if she wants to work there till the bar is rebuilt." Abigail adjusts her hand beneath the tray to account for the lessened weight when April takes a drink. And small city that someone else spoke about not long ago becomes smaller as Monica turns out to be someone that Cardinal knows. "Don't worry, they don't bite," Abigail offers to April, a gesture to the other two. "I'm Abigail, Abigail Beauchamp, you are? Is the coffee okay? I have creamers…" She hunts around, producting a little sealed white plastic cup or two and some paper packets of sugar. "And sugar, if you want them. Richard, I got another drink here, Monica can have it."

Monica lifts her hands a bit, as if to seem non-threatening, and she backs up a bit herself. The familiar voice draws her attention, though, and she smiles over at Cardinal. "Richie Rich. Fancy running into you out here." She does slip under the gazebo as well, dropping her hood back again. "Coffee? You're an angel," she says to Abigail, a bit of an odd look crossing her face there. But, she shakes it off after a moment.

Shaking her head a bit, April leans down to retrieve both styrofoam cup and the lid that goes with it, more water dripping onto her hair in the process. There's a little coffee left in the spilled container, and she snaps the lid back on to keep it there (at least until she can drink it). "The coffee's fine, thank you," she replies as she rises. "I'm used to black." A polite nod to all three, as she straightens back up and restores the umbrella to a position that actually keeps the rain off. "April," she introduces in turn.

"I was kidding about Brenda," Cardinal can't help a laugh, his head shaking a little, "We don't even have a building yet, the bar'll probably be back open before we are — give 'er my love, though. Lust. Whatever. Smack her ass or something." A sip of coffee as he leans back, lips twitching in a half-grin, "I'm like that. I pop up when you least expect it — your cousin sends her best, by the way."

"Richard," he offers to April, then pauses a moment, his brow furrowing in deep lines, "Have we, uh. Have we met?"

Hello April, Abby wordlessly offers her own untouched coffee to exchange for April's fallen one with just the little bit left. She can hit up another place along the way. "Richard, you know everyone, just like I do." The look from Monica doesn't go unnoticed, but it does go unmentioned.

"My cousin?" Monica asks with a tilt of her head before she looks back over to April. "Monica," she offers the woman, her smile a little sheepish, "I swear, I'm usually not that clumsy. I'll have to owe you a coffee." Even though Abby's replacing it.

The older woman shakes her head at the offer of coffee exchange, her fingers remaining securely wrapped around the cup she's already got. "No, thank you. There's no need." Addressed to Abby and Monica both, as they each try to replace her coffee. Independently. "Honestly, I'm still ahead of where I started at — and this is my evening," April adds, even as she takes a sip of the caffeinated beverage. "Um." Now that Richard's raised the question, she can study his face directly. "I'm not really sure," she allows. "I think you might look a little familiar?"

"Niki." Just a hint of amusement lingers about the two-syllable name that Cardinal offers by way of explaination to Monica, moving on before she can ask for any more details on how he knows the disassociative stripper to look back to the lesser-known of the women congregating away from the gentle rustling of the rain. "You too," he muses, thumb tapping to the side of his cup, "Can't put my finger on it, though. What is it you do for a living, April?"

Monica is cousins with Niki? Milk white Niki is cousins with the chocolate-skinned Monica?

Abby will believe it when she sees it or hears it from Niki's mouth. The coffee refused and politely, there's a nod to the former Company agent before Abby retreats to find a seat and watch as they're loading the cyclist onto the stretcher.

"Niki?" It's all Monica has time to say before Cardinal turns to the other woman, but the way her face lights up with both recognition and delight (and a hint of 'holy crap') does give away that the two women have some sort of connection. "Whoa." But she is, apparently, too polite to interrupt the possible reunion going on. Darn manners.

The irreverent impulse to reply in which life is squashed quickly. April presses her lips together, taking another sip of coffee. "Hotel night auditor," she answers a moment later. "Not usually something that people remember me for. Rather checkered job history before that — bit of this, bit of that." The woman shrugs again, finally ducking under the gazebo and folding her umbrella; she leans against one of the structure's supports. "Mostly out west, so unless you've been that way… did spend a couple months in Pennsylvania, during the freeze."

"Nah, I've spent most of my time around New York… could just be we bumped into each other sometime," Cardinal shrugs a bit, although there's that something nagging in the back of his mind as he regards her through his shades. A chuckle stirs against the edge of his cup as he murmurs, "I've had a pretty checkered job history myself."

"It is the biggest small town in the world," Monica says, of NYC, as if to offer the pair an explanation. "Even if it is the strangest small town, too. You know I ran into an honest to God superhero the other day? Costumed and all. Although, thankfully not in spandex."

April nods to Cardinal. "Probably so," she affirms; and for April, that seems to be that. At least for now. She turns to Monica, brows lifting. "A superhero?" She taps her fingernails against the walls of the cup, looking more than a little dubious. Of the superhero, not Monica's statement. "What was the costume? Should I ask?"

At the 'honest to God superhero' comment, Cardinal's throat spasms as he spits out a wash of coffee back into the cup, coughing as he tries to recover — one hand raising over his face to cover the side of it, pushing up under his shades to rub at his eyes as groans to Abigail, "Tell me she didn't just say what I thought she said, Abs."

"Nope, I heard it. Is it who I think it is, do you think? Because if so, I have a head to crack. Maybe his ankles too, then he won't be able to move for a bit." All spoken with Southern charm as she rattles off the height of who they know who would actually dress up like a super hero. "Can he fly? Lift things that are impossibly heavy?"

"Honest to God," Monica says with a chuckle. At April's question, she shifts her weight to one leg, her smile turning as crooked as she stance, "All white from head to toe. Except one red scarf. I'm still not sure how he could see through the mask." Abby's questions get a few nods. "You've seen him too, huh?"

April sips the rest of her coffee in silence, listening to yet more proof that New York is the largest small town ever — if indeed these three people all coincidentally know the same 'superhero'. Green eyes flick between the three to focus on each speaker in turn, paying quietly curious attention.

"I saw him at the fights last week," Cardinal says in pained tones, fingers pinching the bridge of his nose, "He was wearing a fucking superhero costume and tried to take on Kozlow in the fucking ring. Jesus Christ… he's wearing his scarf out too? I swear to god, Abs, I'm going to punch him until he somehow develops a brain."

"Wait, he was fighting Kozlow?" Great, now someone's told her about Kozlow. Would Matt expect her to pass on where he was last seen? Possibly, maybe. She doesn't know where these fights take place.

"Want me to talk to him? The red scarf, Peter's been wearing one too. Huruma as well, it's some… fashion thing I think." Little does Abby know. There's a glance to April before she explains. "We have a friend, Registered, gravitokinetic. He… adores comic books and it seems, he's decided to become a superhero despite people warning him off."

"You guys know who it is?" Monica looks between the two, obviously not in the know, too. "Maybe they all got attached to the look over the long winter," she offers, a bit of a crooked smile on her face. "Yeah, he should be careful. Masks don't always… help. Or, that's how it is in the comics anyway."

April nods at Abby's explanation. "It seems like something you'd expect to see more often, really." she remarks. "Though I guess it takes a certain level of adoration before people decide they can be superheroes." Slowly turning the empty cup around in her fingers, the woman nods again, more slowly. "Probably it doesn't help with people who already know you."

"I'd be less worried about it if he had the survival instinct of a goddamn gnat, or the understanding of things like consequences…" A sigh whispers against Cardinal's hand, and he lets it drop down, adjusting the set of his shades with a grimace, "…anyway, that's his problem, not mine. Christ."

"I think that more people do do what he does. I've seen them do it day after day. Healers, people who can turn into shadow, telepaths, they do the same thing that he does, just they don't run around in a costume. I adore him, just… As Richard said, survival instinct of a gnat. Richard, I'll try and talk to him, doubt it'll work though, to get him to tone it down, keep it to that… fighting?"

There's a long pause from Monica, her arms folding loosely over her torso. "Abby's right. People do it. They're just… subtle. Most of them." Eyeshift. Monica doesn't seem to be looking at anyone for a moment, but she shakes her head and looks back over at Abby. "Maybe he just need a little coaching on subtlety."

April smiles wryly at Abigail and Monica. "I was referring to the costume part," she clarifies. And, not knowing this acquaintance they all have in common, she leaves her contribution to the subject at that. Letting the hand with the coffee cup fall to her side, she goes back to studying Cardinal's face, making one more attempt at trying to pin down the where and when of their purported previous encounter.

"Obviously there's vigilantism going on, just look at Phoenix," Cardinal says with a shake of his head. "The costume, though, that's just…" The last of his coffee is finished off, and he leans back, his head canting a bit to one side as he regards April in return, admitting, "This is gonna drive me nuts, now."

"It'll be a short trip Richard, since you're already there. As for coaching on subtlety…" There's a gesture to her own pink hair. "I'll be finding someone else to do that. I have to go Richard, Peter's going to be waiting and I'm already tired. This shift is going to suck like a popsicle." She pushes up from the bench, flipping hood up. "Tell Liz hello; nice to meet you Monica, April."

Monica eyes Cardinal a bit at that name drop, lifting an eyebrow just a bit. But, Abby's imminent departure is enough to draw her attention and she nods, "It was nice to meet you, too. Good luck."

April waves the coffee cup as Abby takes her leave. "Likewise, Abigail," she offers in return. Where Monica eyes Cardinal for his name-dropping, the older woman goes quiet for a moment, as though reflecting on something. Whatever it is, she doesn't dwell on it long — and opts to follow the other line of conversation. "Oddly enough, I keep trying to picture you in a church," April remarks. "And I don't even go to church."

"Alright, see you around, Abs — oh, can you text me Thalia's number? I need to talk to her at some point… That's it!" Cardinal's fingers snap — or try to, he's wearing gloves, it's hard to snap through those — and he points at April, "Joseph's sermon about the Evolved?"

"Will do when I get in the car." A wave to the others, head pulled down and shoulders inward. The bag of food going with her too, Abigail disappears off into the rain. Off to do things that EMTs do.

Monica blinks a little, shaking her head some. "I've been out of the world too long. Sermon on the Evolved? Please tell me there wasn't a Jesus comparison or something…"

Green eyes widen — and then narrow. "Oh. That." April pauses, looking as if she's not quite sure what to do with that revelation. "That was a long time ago," she continues, for lack of better words. The woman straightens up from her lean against the pillar, twisting to pitch the empty coffee cup in the nearby trash can.

And misses, twitching a glance in Monica's direction. "Not — that I recall…" April replies, before moving to place the escapee styrofoam properly in the garbage where it belongs. If this happens to put the tattoo on the side of her neck potentially in their field of view — well, the two blue lines are such a part of April, she doesn't even give it a moment's thought.

"Tell me about it. It seems like a lifetime, given everything that's happened in the past year…" Richard leans back again, idly rolling the empty cup from hand to hand, "…explains why I couldn't place you. You were in the back with me, weren't— " A beat as she turns, gaze falling on those marks, "— you? Hey, nice tat. What's that, kanji?"

"Well, that's reassuring at least." Monica catches sight of those marks, too, but if she knows what they mean, she's quiet about it. She tosses her coffee cup, too and just slips her hands in her pockets, even though they're still damp. Hrm.

"Huh?" April says, looking over at Cardinal with a start. She lifts her hand to the side of her neck, pressing fingertips against the marks in question. "Oh. No, I —" She glances away, then back, smiling briefly. Ruefully. "Actually, it's a slightly embarrassing story. In that I was thoroughly drunk when I got it — back when I was in college, see — and never have recalled why I thought it was a good idea. Just never bothered to get rid of it, either."

She steps back out of the gazebo, snapping the umbrella open once more. "It was a pleasure meeting you both, but I should get home. Take care."

"I know that one." Cardinal's lips tug up a bit at one corner, brows raising slightly, "I've got some similar ones myself — 'course, I got mine during a bit I spent in lockup." It could be a subtle mention of their true nature, trying to see if she knows what they are… or he could just be bragging about his jail time and tattoos. It's hard to say.

"Good meeting you again, April," he offers easily, "Hey, if Redbird Security ever gets off the ground, and you need some security work done…"

"Man, I feel like I've been missing all the fun college parties," Monica says, although there's the sense that it just isn't her scene. "See ya around, April," she says, waving her farewell before she leans back against one of the pillars in the gazebo.

"So…" Cardinal lightly tosses his cup over into the trash can, tumbling it over the edge, and then he leans back on the bench to watch the rain, arms folding behind his head as he watches the ambulance — no longer flashing lights — roll along out of the park, "…how've you been, Monica?"

"So," Monica echoes, glancing over his way. "Oh, well. You know. Experiencing mass hallucinations with the rest of the city, trying to remember to do homework between crises, that sort of thing. You know. Just another day." She smirks a little, but cants her head his way, "What about you?"

"Oh," Cardinal muses, brows lifting as he looks out across the park, "Trying to get my security company up and running so we can use it as a front for operations, trying to gather as many of those 'mass hallucinations' as possible so we can try and get a hold of what's going to happen on that day, recruiting people to save the world — you know." A grin, "Just another day."

"You're recruiting people to save the world?" Monica asks with a crooked smile. "Now who sounds like Helena Dean, huh?" She's teasing! just a bit. "How's that going for you? Collecting hallucinations?"

"Helena recruits people to martyr themselves in glorious condemnation of the Petrelli Republic," Cardinal replies with a roll of his eyes behind his shades, smirking over a bit, "I set my sights a little higher than that. And it's going. You want to talk about yours? One more down out of — oh — three or four million?"

"Hey, at least Peter's not so bad." Pause. "Right?" It's been a year, anything could happen. And often does. Monica gets an odd look on her face at his question, though, and spreads her hands a bit. "I'm pretty sure mine won't help anyone figure out what was going on."

"You never know. I'm not going to push, though," admits Richard in wry tones. "Your cousin could snap me in half with one hand, and I'm pretty sure you could just kick my ass if you felt like it…" His gaze roams back out over the rain, "Peter. Well. That is a good question, isn't it?"

Monica chuckles at the mention of Niki again, and she nods her head. "She's a special lady, Niki." And that is real warmth there, too. "But don't worry, I don't usually beat up people. You know. Without good reason." She lifts an eyebrow at those last words and her hands go to her hips. "Oh boy. That's ominous."

Cardinal exhales a bit of a chuckle, hands dropping down to pat at his jacket until he finds a piece of paper — a pen drawn from it, he scribbles down a number and offers it over. "That's her current cell, I think," he says as he pushes himself up to his feet, "Give her a call sometime."

Taking that paper, Monica looks at it for a long moment before she looks back to him again. "Thanks… I suppose it probably seems… silly, but it means a lot. I had to leave my family behind a bit ago… it'll be nice to have someone around."

"We hang together," Cardinal quotes back over his shoulder with a rogue's half-smile, moving to stride out into the rain, "Or we'll surely all hang apart. See you around."

"You still need to work on your uplifting speeches, Rich," Monica says after him, her own version of a farewell before she sits down to look at that number again. She'll get around to actually dialing it sooner or later.

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