Digging Down And Around


cardinal_icon.gif luther_icon.gif monica_icon.gif

Scene Title Digging Down And Around
Synopsis Several days after staying at Redbird Security, Luther gets to meet the man of the shadows at present, the woman from his vision of the future, and can no longer deny the events of the past.
Date September 17, 2010

Redbird Security

Above the ground floor that houses the lobby and office spaces, each of the upper floors can be accessed from the stairwell's landings. Wooden floors and pale cream walls keep the hallways modest and open - the rare window reinforced to prevent easy break-ins.

Each floor contains four small to moderate sized apartments, their doors painted a reddish umber hue and marked with a peephole above a black iron plaque with the apartment number on it. The lighting is soft and indirect in the halls, automatically turning on after six pm.

It's not exactly the Hilton.

The empty apartments in the Redbird Security building are empty of furnishings, although they have lights, water, heat and power. A futon mattress was provided, and a few blankets. He pretty much has to deal with food on his own, though.

There's a knocking upon the door, then. Cardinal's standing on the other side of it, dressed casually enough in jeans, a t-shirt, and a flight jacket with Chicago Air and Redbird Security patches on it.

Light and heat could've been all he needed to get by for a few days. Having to fend for food isn't anything new for Redbird's newest indigent, though his meals are fairly sparce and simple. Today, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.


The man looks up and over from the newspaper page he's scurried away with, and in moments tries to prep himself to look more presentable by sweeping away some of those breadcrumbs from thrift store jeans and large tee as he stands.

"Door's open."

Of course, Cardinal has keys, but that'd be rude. Besides. He doesn't want to take another flash in the face again.

The door's pushed open, and he steps along inside, his voice lifting in dry tones, "…it's Richard Cardinal. Try not to blind me again, alright? I'm photosensitive."

Setting his sandwich behind him, Luther keeps up with the manners on his side as well. "It's okay. I can control it," he reassures the photosensitive one. "And there's nothing around that's going to make me, uh, do that again." Despite his words, there isn't too much strength of conviction in that statement. The uncertainty lingers in the air between them even as the other man steps into the room.

"That's good…" Cardinal's hand slides up the edge of the door as he pushes it closed, his head shaking a little, "Sorry that my bodyguard reacted a little… violently, but if I hadn't been wearing my glasses, you would've permanently blinded me. My ability lets me see in the dark. Light? Not so much."

He stops not far in the room, brows raising a little, "How're you feeling?"

"A little on the warm side," Luther admits evenly, not trying to make a show of the fact that he still moves stiffly. "Your… ability. It's like nightvision?" The question's even stiffer, more awkward. Clearly he hasn't been taking any lessons when it comes to dealing with other Evolved.

"That's it?"

With hand rubbing at the back of his neck, he looks off again towards the window, studying the light coming through the window. "I'm sorry," he says after a deliberate pause, "about the flashbang. I've only used that maybe one other time to get away from some thugs." The curiosity almost outweighs the fear of discovery. Almost.

"The night-vision's more of a … side effect than anything," Cardinal admits, his head shaking just a little bit, "There's more to it, of course, but… well."

He shakes his head a little, "You were— scared, it makes sense. You didn't know it'd actually hurt me, and it'd normally be perfectly fine. I'm just weird." A smirk, then, "So, I've gotta ask, what the hell possessed you to let Warren fucking Ray modify your van?"

There's more? Of course there is. There always is. Luther turns to offer the other guy a seat on the futon.

One mention of the van, though, and the look on the man's freshly shaved face transfers from uncertainty to a string of unexpected bitterness. "Since you seem to know the guy, what do you think he would've done to me if I'd said no to his offer?" grumbles the man. He starts to fold his arms, but halts in the action before he does worse to his mending injuries. "Anyway. Unless you've got some brilliant idea of how to get it back, I don't know what else to say about that. I haven't gone looking for that guy since, well, since everything's happened." Sounds like he's written the van off almost. Almost, but not quite. The man's still attached to the thing, but seems resigned."

There's more? Of course there is. There always is. Luther turns to offer the other guy a seat on the futon.

One mention of the van, though, and the look on the man's freshly shaved face transfers from uncertainty to a string of unexpected bitterness. "Since you seem to know the guy, what do you think he would've done to me if I'd said no to his offer?" grumbles the man. He starts to fold his arms, but halts in the action before he does worse to his mending injuries. "Anyway. Unless you've got some brilliant idea of how to get it back, I don't know what else to say about that. I haven't gone looking for that guy since, well, since everything's happened." Sounds like he's written the van off almost. Almost, but not quite. The man's still attached to the thing, but seems resigned.

"Oh, Devi can put it back together," Cardinal admits, leaning against the wall and kicking one foot up against it, arms folding loosely across his chest, "Honestly, she probably already has if she hasn't scavenged it for spare parts or anything. I think she was a little upset when a giant fucking robot crab unfolded from the engine and tried to kill both of us."

Coming up from the stairs, Monica makes her way in, humming some upbeat tune to herself. Whatever errand she came up here for, she stops when she sees the men hanging around. "Hey… you're not running this time," she says toward Luther before she steps on over to Cardinal's side. She must just be coming off a job, as she's in a blazer and all, a pair of sunglasses tucked in the breast pocket.

Luther simply shakes his head. "Even if she can, she wouldn't do it for free. And, it's not like I can drive it off Staten Island now." Now that, he truly laments. The man's rusty metal companion has been with him for years after all, and now separated, there has yet to be a real grieving period.

The entry of Monica makes that bitter atmosphere lift a little out of the haze. "No, I'm not going much of anywhere at the moment as you can see," he replies. A weak shrug accompanies the response.

"I take it you've already looked up my background and everything?"

"Why not?" Cardinal's brows lift a bit over the edge of his shades as he regards the man mourning the loss of an old metal friend, "Drive it off the island, that is…"

Then the door's opened, and he twists slightly to look back to it, one hand coming up in a casual gesture of greeting, "'ey, Moni."

His attention returns once more to their visitor, "No. Should I?"

"Yeah, so I see," Monica says, her smile's a little nervous, though. She's not sure about this guy. But her attention moves up to Cardinal after a moment. "I wanted to tell you… Hiro's… asked me to do him a bit of a favor," she says, choosing her words carefully, complete with a glance flicked Luther's way. "Not sure when. But."

"Haven't you heard what they did to the place?" Luther grimaces about the island. "There's just one way in and one way out of there. And it'll look really… questionable if I go out there. Everybody I know's probably dead." Who in their right Registration-avoiding mind would take that risk? He shakes his head and returns that flick of a glance at Monica.

He's also really trying hard not to stare, but not because of some leering creep reason. Really. Trying.

"Yeah, I've heard. Funny thing about that…" Cardinal raises his eyes to the ceiling, looking around, "…I seem to have the security contract for the Outer District. Well, I share it with Stillwater, but… I'm pretty sure I could get a van out."

A smirk's directed back towards Luther, "I'm just saying, you know. And things aren't quite as clean and neat as you might think."

"Are they ever? Things." Monica shakes her head a bit there, but Luther's attempts not to stare do get her attention. Of course. "Okay, what is it? You've been starin' since I met you and frankly, it's creepin' me out," she says, her accent a little heavier than usual in her fluster. Huff!

It's hard to say which surprises Luther more, Cardinal's revelation or the sass that gets aimed in his direction from Monica. One thing he does figure out quickly is that he's in the presence of some bigger players than he'd originally thought. First thing's first though, trying to put out the burning fire of curiosity that he's trying gamely to quash.

"Moni, was it? I'm just… it's, well. It's kind of difficult to explain." Great start there, hero. "What I mean is, we've met. We will meet. Or, I guess I'm not too sure what happens now that we're standing here face to face." Like he said, hard to explain.

Finally, he just out and out blurts, "I saw you, in… in my vision. Of the future. You know, the thing that everybody's talking about." There. That wasn't so hard.

"The flash?" All of a sudden, Luther has Cardinal's attention again, his eyes narrowing, "And you saw Monica in it?"

There's a momentary pause, then he asks, "What did you see, exactly?"

"Monica," she corrects the poor, cornered homeless man, because she's definitely in sass mode at the moment. And she's about an inch from tapping her foot before he actually spits it out. And the revelation gets her to turn away from the others for a moment to throw up her hands.

"Did everybody get a glimpse of me or somethin'?" Is what she ends up saying when she comes back, her hands on her hips. But she seems to expect Cardinal's question to get answered rather than her own.

Luther is reluctant to respond with that sharpened bit of attention upon him. Clearly, he's not used to being in the spotlight, or under a microscope. "I'm not saying it's you exactly, Monica. Could be someone else," he tries to divert.

Unsuccessfully, most likely.

"But, assuming it was you," Luther rumbles as his eyes close briefly to recall, "I don't know where it was, but we were in a building that was on fire." When he opens his eyes again, it's with a clearer focus and wrinkled brow. "I think I might've started it. It- it could happen. And you," he nods in Monica's direction, "you were hurt." He swallows down, looking apologetic.

"We've been… collecting the visions," explains Cardinal in quiet tones, "Working to stop the timeline from progressing in the… well." He waves off the technical speak, "…we're trying to stop it all from happening. If you'd like to write it all down for us at some point, it could help."

Wry, "A lot of us saw… things we don't want to happen." Then he glances over to Monica, smirking a little, "Well, you are pretty easy on the eyes."

The note about her being hurt doesn't seem to come as a shock, at least. And she doesn't seem to be looking at Luther with anything like accusation, either. So that's something! But Monica doesn't look happy, that's for sure. "We're gonna make sure that stuff, it doesn't happen. We're gonna try. I think we've got a good chance." Or she hopes they do, semantics.

Cardinal's last words, though, get a smirk of her own. "Only if I'm using my left," she says, balling her hands into fists, playfully. But they drop back to her sides after a moment. "I met the person that leaves me that way, I think," she adds, to her boss. "She said we were fighting in her vision."

The fact that neither of the pair freak out, frankly, weirds Luther out. Cardinal's admission of collecting these visions brings him a little bit more out of his comfort zone. Not, that is to say, he was in one in the first place. Glancing between the pair, Luther shakes his head with an even greater lack of understanding. "So you're not feds, you're not exactly criminals, and you're working to stop a future that seems pretty damn screwed up from the way you two are talking about it."

"…Who exactly are you, then?"

"I'm Batman."

Cardinal actually manages to keep a straight face for a few seconds before he can't hold it anymore, and a chuckle shakes his shoulders. He leans back against the wall again, bringing a hand up to scratch under his chin. "It's hard to explain, honestly," he admits, "Let's just say we're… a concerned party trying to make sure that all this shit works out in the end without too much blood in the streets. As you can imagine, our job sucks."

Cardinal chuckles, and Monica facepalms a little, her head shaking. But that facepalm hides an amused smile. "How long have you been waiting to you that one, Rich?"

With a much improved mood, all things considered, she looks back over to Luther, "Good Samaritans, you might say. And hey, it only sucks sometimes. Sometimes it blows." Pause. "Sometimes it blows up."

That line gets Cardinal another odd look out of Luther. What was heard cannot be unheard! "Right. And this is the part where I say I'm not twelve years old, and not old enough to be Alfred."

Monica's statement makes far more sense. But, blowing up? That hits a definite nerve. "Blow up? What's going to blow up?" asks - demands - the man. Worriedly, of course.

"Long enough," Cardinal admits with a brief grin towards Monica, a grin that fades at the question from Luther as he looks back to him, expression growing rather more serious, "Most of the city, if we can't stop it. November eighth is going to be a bloodbath. I'm hoping that we can avert enough of it so that it doesn't happen… all I can do is set things in motion, though, and hope they work."

"We'll be doing what we can." Monica looks over at Luther, her head tilting a bit. "I know I want to change what I saw in my vision. And assuming you're not secretly a pyro, maybe you want to change what you saw, too, hmm?"

It's a deer in headlights look that is completely and totally different from the rest of Luther's otherwise unaffected expressions. The last time they saw this face, it was shortly before the flashbang lighting effect. This time, though, there isn't that sudden crack of light.

The heat rises in the man's tone of voice, pitched low as he states, "That can't happen. It just- it just can't. The city won't survive another hit. Who is it going to be?"

A thought strikes. Luther looks even more alarmed that he even asks the question.

"Who? What… oh. You think it's going to be another Bomb? No, there won't be another Midtown Man…" Cardinal's lips purse in a tight line, "…not this time. If it was just an exploding man, we could stop that. Divert them, kill them ahead of time, something. No, this is something a little trickier. Rioting… just… random bloodshed in the streets… the city's going to burn, and it'll be the people doing it, and I still don't know why yet."

"Yeah, it's not quite… like the last time. I guess you wouldn't have seen most people's reports about what they saw…" Monica looks over at Cardinal, her hands moving to her hips again. But it's just for a moment before she looks back to Luther. "It's harder for the few of us to stop mass rioting and mob logic. If we can find out why… maybe we can cut it off. But for now, we still have some time to hunt for information. For a little while anyway. That's why it would help if you could give Rich the details of what you saw, for another piece of the puzzle."

Their words aren't too reassuring either way, but Luther looks thoughtful following the pair's responses. His gaze strays to a wall, imagining the outcome they describe. "If this is what's going to happen, this mass riot," he considers aloud, "it's probably going to be over this registration crap. This… this is fear about to breed mass hysteria." He shakes his head again in disbelief, turns back to the pair. How are they going to stop it? Monica's remark makes him furrow his brow as he looks at her.

"It's pretty much what I can remember from it. I'm in a building that's burning, and you - or someone who looks a lot like you - was hurt. The building's coming down and I think… in my gut, I know, it's because of me. It's because of my ability."

His gaze drops to his hands.

"That's part of it," admits Cardinal, his gaze slanting across the room briefly behind his shades, a frown crossing his expression as for a moment he looks rather tired, "There's more, but… that's definately a part of it. Someone wants people to be afraid…"

One hand comes up, sliding beneath his shades and rubbing against his eyes as he asks, "So what is it that you do, exactly… uh… shit, you know, I don't even know your name?"

"Yeah, apparently I lose a fight with a crazy chick. Which, normally, I would say just wasn't possible, but that's three people seeing it, so." It's not so much ego she has there, just simple fact. Monica sighs a bit, her arms folding a bit. "How are you with it? Your ability. I mean, maybe if you can learn better control…"

"Luther. Luther Bellamy," answers the man a little more readily. It's the latter question about his ability that he has trouble with. "As far as I can tell, I'm some kind of- it's sort of like an engine. It's just easier to show than it is to explain, I suppose. If either of you've got a lighter."

"Yeah, I think…" Cardinal pats down the pockets of his jacket, finally coming up with a battered zippo from one pocket and tossing it casaully over towards Luther, "…try not to blind me again, though, willya?"

Monica spreads her hands on the matter of a lighter. She's not in the habit. But she straights up a bit as she tacks on, "Yeah, I'd hate to have to feed you your teeth after all this bonding we all've been doing." She's kidding! Sort of. >.>

A wryly amused glance passes to Cardinal as he tosses the lighter over. Monica's mild joke and the real threat behind it isn't lost on Luther, but he nods acknowledgment to her statement. He'd like to definitely keep his teeth, thanks.

With a flick and a click the Zippo pops open and the man moves his free hand over the open flame.

And he holds it there. And holds it further still. There's no evidence of his flesh burning, no indication of pain. There is, though, focus. After almost a minute of leaving the flame on and his hand over it, he finally closes the lighter down.

"And now for my next trick…" Luther opens his hand that had been held over the flame. In the wake of the heat, his skin glows faintly to create that sort of E.T. effect, particularly on the fingertips. Hopefully, not enough to hurt his would be host a second time.

"…huh." Cardinal's head tilts slightly to one side, like a magician's audience trying to see where the strings are, watching as the flame ripples uncaring over the man's hand… and then emanates as luminescence from his hand and fingertips. "So… you absorb and redirect energy, I guess? Something like that, anyway?"

It may be a little comical, watching Monica's head tilt just like Cardinals as Luther puts his power on display. "Wow. It doesn't hurt you at all? That's… cool," she says as she straightens up to look at the man's face.

The light dims back down as Luther shakes out his hand and nods slowly. "It tickles a little but mostly it just feels like, in this case, someone blowing on my hand." Even he doesn't seem to be able to truly describe it. Cardinal's observation draws a musing look out of Luther. "Something like that. I tried to read up on it, and the only thing I really get is that it's something like what an engine would do. I change energy. And when I'm doing it, somehow it doesn't really hurt." He shifts his gaze between them.

"I was working… right around Ground Zero when the Bomb went off." The confession draws out of him like a sigh of relief. Finally, he's said something. Finally, he's able to say something.

"Heh." Cardinal pushes a hand back through his hair, a smile that isn't really a smile quirking up to his lips as he looks back towards Luther with a gaze that's mostly unreadable through his dark glasses, "Well, then… welcome to the club of people who've survived point blank nuclear strikes. It's a very exclusive club."

There's a moment of silence, and then the shadowman says in very quiet tones, "It's beautiful, though, isn't it? Terrible… but beautiful. What I remember of it, at least. Before it tore me apart."

Monica's reaction is mostly silent. Her hand covers her mouth for a moment, and she looks stricken. One of those people who can truly feel for others, unabashedly. But she doesn't step in to offer comfort or sympathy, given Cardinal's experiences, he's far better equipped. Plus, whoever knows how men like being comforted. Girls are a lot easier to deal with. Hugs. Hugs are good. And sometimes crying. But neither seem appropriate at the moment.

Clearly, Luther wasn't expecting anybody to up and admit with him that they survived a nuke either. Several seconds pass where he simply stares at Cardinal's glasses, blinking in the moment of silence quite blankly, the memories of the ruins playing through.

One slow blink later, he turns to Monica and seems to find a grounding moment in her face. "Okay. So, look. I owe you both for helping me out. And the truth is, I really… still need your help. Even if it is just to get my van out of the Alcatraz they're calling Staten Island." Unstated is the price on that aid.

There's just silence from Cardinal for a few seconds, his hand lifting to push his fingers under the shades to rub against his eyes for a few moments… and then he pushes off from the wall a little, forcing a smile back to his lips and clapping both hands together, "Right. Van. I can do that. You're also horrifically illegal right now, as I imagine you're not actually registered?"

Looking between them, Monica lifts an eyebrow, and then just shakes her head a little bit. There might be a sigh. A little one. "Of course he's not registered. He wouldn't have flashbanged us and run if he could have just flashed a card an had done with it." She looks back over to Luther there, her smile a little reassuring. "Don't worry. We're not gonna force you or nothing. But you're gonna really need help…"

Luther frowns at the mention of registration. Talk about the sore hotbutton topics! "No offense, but you oughtta know as word on the street says, if the feds catch you and you're not Registered but are Evolved, you get made to disappear." He shakes his head, definitely not liking that idea. "Especially if you've got an ability like mine."

Wait. "You've all gone through the reg, haven't you? Otherwise, how're you able to operate so freely?"

"Word on the street always makes it out to be worse than it is, but in this case… there is some truth to that. I'm just going to throw this out there, but I'm guessing it never occured to you to… just tell them that you glow in the dark when you've been in the sun for too long?" A wry note to Cardinal's voice, brows raising slightly, "They'll pretty much write down whatever you tell them, actually, especially if you can demonstrate a little trick or two."

That doesn't actually answer his question, of course, but maybe it wasn't meant to.

Monica is a lot less skilled at playing it cool. At Luther's inquiry, she just looks amused. And a little smug. It's almost adorable, really, the southern girl feeling like she's getting away with something. But she nods at Cardinal's advice. "Nothing says you have to- Well, I guess it does say you have to tell the truth, huh? But no way to prove you aren't. Is what I'm saying."

From the way he eyes them both, Luther seems discomfited. "I'm going to guess that they're a little more paranoid about guys who appear at a background check to be considered dead for the past four years, since he'd've been working less than ten blocks from Ground Zero on that day." On the other hand, who's going to have the records?

"It's not that it hasn't occurred to me. But if it's occurred to me, what's stopping it from occurring to them?" The question sounds rhetorical, analytical, and above all rather paranoid. "They're going to ask questions. I know I would."

"The trick is to find someone who won't," Cardinal observes with a slight shake of his head, pushing off the wall and looking to Monica, "Think you can talk to him for a bit? I need to go fill out some paperwork and make some phone calls downstairs… we can talk about Hiro later."

"Yeah, sure boss," Monica says with a smile and a nod to Cardinal. "I'll catch you later. And if you see Niki… let her know I want to see her, too? Before… I go do that favor if possible." She looks back to Luther, though, and tilts her head a little. "You hungry?"

Luther raises a brow at Cardinal's note, apparently attempting to still read the shaded eyes of the shadow man. All those messages hidden beneath! Favors, huh? Well, it's not his place to know. Even he figures that out. The mention of Niki draws a strained neutral grimace of a smile out of Luther. "Sure," he answers Monica, even as he moves to pick up the remains of the PB&J sandwich he'd scrounged up from before. "And Mr. Cardinal? Thanks again. For the roof."

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