Delicate(ssen) Matters


cardinal_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif

Scene Title Delicate(ssen) Matters
Synopsis Veronica and Cardinal discuss Zarek's murder and a potential recruit for Cardinal's cause.
Date December 27, 2010

Piccoli's Delicatessen

Everything about Piccoli's is welcoming. There's a large, cheerful neon sign mounted on the roof, the interior is brightly lit and spotlessly clean, and the old-fashioned decor is more reminiscent of mother's kitchen than a successful business. Since the doors opened in 1946, Piccoli's has been best known for pastrami, hot dogs, corned beef, and salami. The wait can sometimes be a little long, but the prices are reasonable and the food is always worth it.

It's the early afternoon, and the Delicatessen is busy as usual at this time of the day. People move in and out of the place, getting sandwiches and soup before heading on their errands for the day. At a table just past the counter, Richard Cardinal's settled in wearing street clothes, finishing off the last of a sandwich, some of its drippings landing on the french fries in his sandwich basket. He could be anyone else just enjoying a lunch in peace.

Only he's not.

Veronica steps in to the deli, eyes behind dark glasses scanning the room until she sees Cardinal and moves that way, nodding her hello and flashing a quick dimpled smile to the cashier's "Hello!" She's casual today, in jeans and a plaid snowboarder style jacket — she doesn't look like an agent, which is just what she's going for.

She slips into the seat across from him, reaching into his basket of fries to steal one, bringing it to her mouth and chewing on it before a hand pushes her sunglasses off her head. "Hey, Shade. Thanks for meeting me," she says quietly, husky voice softer than usual. "How are you?" Pleasantries first.

"I've had better holidays," Cardinal admits to the question, reaching over to lift up a napkin and wiping his gloved fingers clean, "I spent one shacked up in a penthouse suite once — the owners were on vacation in Hawaii or something. Snuck in a few female friends of mine, and…"

A brief grin's flashed, and then he drops the crumpled napkin next to the basket, reaching over for his drink. "Anyway. How're you doing?"

"Cad," Vee says playfully, then shrugs at the question about herself.

"Sooo, it's probably not a surprise I'm not totally here just to steal your French fries," she begins, pulling out a slip of paper. "Easy things first. That's the phone number of Gael Cruz — one of the Company agents on the run — only, he doesn't want to be on the run, he wants to be involved and useful. He was a good agent, always on board with them until the end, so I don't know what to think of him, really, but he's definitely not okay with the Institute. Use him or not, just passing that along."

She steals another French fry. That was the easier part of the meeting. She waits for him to digest that, rather than jump into the next item of the agenda.

"Gael Cruz, you say…" Cardinal's fingers close over the paper, turning it over to read the number; he nods, once, and then makes the paper vanish into his jacket, "I'll give him a call. I could use a few Company agents to grill right now, actually. I'd ask you, but it'd probably damage your cover."

A quiet admission, and then he's rooting in the basket for a french fry of his own. After a beat, he heads her off at the pass. "Agent Lupinetti."

"Lupinetti?" Veronica echoes, and gives a shrug. "I don't know. I don't trust him. He came in with toward the end of Company, around the time Harper came along. He's a good enough agent, seems level-headed, does a good job, but he's not at the Institute for the same reason I'm there. At least, I don't think he is."

Her eyes narrow. "Why do you ask?"

"He's been poking at my file," says Cardinal, shaking the french fry at her, a single brow raising slightly, "Investigating me in regards to Zarek's death, apparently. I daresay I got a more thorough file on him than he got on me."

"Ah. That's the other thing I came to talk to you about," Veronica says with a sigh, pulling her sunglasses off and fiddling with them. "Apparently you've been hard to find so no one got around to talking to you yet?" It's not really a question.

She shrugs, and grabs another french fry. "You're on the suspect list. Tell me you have an alibi?"

"If the word of everyone at Redbird Security that I spent the entire day and night there with the doors barricaded counts," Cardinal suggests, his tone a bit wry as he takes a bite of the french fry, chewing, swallowing, "I won't talk to Lupinetti. His power's far too dangerous to give him access to me - I collect secrets like some people collect spoons."

"They're looking in the wrong direction anyway, in my opinion."

"His power? He's not a telepath," Veronica says wryly. She shrugs, sitting back her seat. "And you know that we know that barricaded doors don't mean much, so I don't think that's going to help you much, should it come down to it. Some proof you were somewhere other than with Zarek would be better, other than your employees' vouching for you, would be helpful."

She pauses, dark eyes flicking left to right, as if trying to read his face. "You know I'm trying to help. This isn't official, though if you have something to offer me that is something like an alibi, I can make it official, and say that you're clean."

She leans forward, arms leaning on the table. "Which way should they be looking?"

"No, he's a walking forensics lab," Cardinal replies in dry tones, his head shaking a little, "I don't have any sort of solid alibi, no. I can get you a signed affadavit from Elisabeth stating that Kain Zarek had offered to turn over evidence and information against Daniel Linderman's organization, however."

A faint, thin smile twitches to his lips, "A couple days after Zarek died? Ling Chao ended up dead. She had the ability of smoke mimicry. She was part of that organization — worked closely with one John Logan. The same guy that's taken out a hit on me with the Ghost Shadows. Not hard to assume he found out about the plan and started taking steps to stop us."

Veronica tips her head in Cardinal's direction. "That would be useful indeed. I'll be sure to bring that information to the other agents. We'd certainly want to investigate anyone putting your life in peril, Mr. Cardinal," she says in a mock-prim sort of voice before stealing another french fry.

"I'll see what I can do," she adds a bit more seriously. "Just be careful, all right?"

"You too," Cardinal says with a faint smile, picking up his soda and tilting it so the straw points at her, "Try'n keep that pretty head of yours safe on your shoulders, alright? Just— do what you've got to do." The smile fades as he leans back, taking a sip of it and murmuring, "I kind've miss Apollo. At least things were a little more clear-cut there. Good guys, bad guys, go in and get the job done."

She gives a bit of a sad smile and a bit of a sad shrug. "I'll do my best. Was that really just a year ago?"

Veronica stands, picking up her glasses and pushing in her chair. "Seems like a lifetime ago."

For both of them, it's just a little too literal of wording.

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