cardinal_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif

Scene Title Disconnected
Synopsis A long overdue conversation offers some closure and many apologies but no lessening of guilt.
Date April 9, 2011

Cambridge, Massachusetts and Manhattan, New York

The leather of the chair creaks softly beneath his weight as he leans back in it for what will probably be the last time, Cardinal's fingers brushing over the padded arms. One knee lifts up to rest against the edge of the desk, his arms folding behind his head as he looks up towards the ceiling in silence. His phone, on, sits upon the desk's flat.

"Phone," he says clearly, the phone's screen lighting up as the voice commands set up when he was bodiless answer his words, "Contacts. Cleareyes. Call. Speaker on." It dials itself, and rings.

"Cleareyes," or Peyton Whitney, is luckily not in the Institute facility nor in the presence of the other Cardinal. Instead, she's walking Von in a park when her cell phone rings — a familiar ringtone, and one she hasn't heard in so long she thinks she's hearing things. Imagining things.

A moment later, as it grows louder, she retrieves it from her pocket, squinting at it. Her breath catches in her throat. She shouldn't answer it. She left that life behind.

Her thumb hovers over the green talk icon. Von, though he can't hear the phone, has stopped, peering up at her, wondering why she's stopped walking when there are scents to be smelled and bushes to be peed on.

Her thumb taps the button, and she lifts the phone to her ear.

"Hello," she says cautiously, eyes dilating to take in his surroundings from his point of view, to be sure it's him.

"Hey." It's a quiet greeting from Richard as the phone answers. "It's me. Sorry, I— know you probably didn't want to hear from me, but…"

It was just to warn her, really. To make sure she knew what was going on. Instead, he finds himself asking the banal and awkward question, "…how are you?"

She's seen the news. She knows things are bad. "Hi," she says quietly, letting her eyes drift back to her own world, her own surroundings as she drops into a park bench at the side of the trail.

"I'm okay. Safe. I don't think… I don't think anything happening there will affect me, if that's why you're calling. I can probably talk my way out of any trouble with it, if anything comes of it. Are you okay? Is Liz all right? I… I'm sorry for just bailing." Her voice trembles a little and she closes her eyes, lifting her face to the sky to let the cool breeze push away the heat that comes to her cheeks and her eyes behind the tears.

"Yeah. I just wanted to warn you in case— you know— you didn't know." Of course, her not knowing wasn't exactly likely, but he wanted to call her anyway. "I'm alright. Liz is… she'll be fine. And it's okay. In the end, it was probably for the best anyway. You distanced yourself before they brought us down. It was nice to pretend for a little while, though, wasn't it?"

Quiet, a moment, Cardinal adds, "It'll probably be war, just like he wanted. I'm going to keep trying to move that mountain anyway, but just… keep safe, okay, Pey? I don't want you getting hurt any more because of me."

Because of him. "You didn't hurt me," she whispers, pressing hands to her eyes. "You believed in me. You always did. You always will." Because she's been told that's true, by another him. The he that he mentions — that she ignores. It's confusing enough to know and love two Cardinals that are at war with one another. She's a traitor, but she's not sure to which.

At her feet Von drops, lying his muzzle on his paws with a slight whine.

"I'll be safe," Peyton promises. "And it was nice," she adds, a little wistfully. "I'll miss it." She pauses. "I do miss it."

And him.

"Yeah," says Cardinal quietly, "So do I. and I do believe in you. I just pushed you… too far, too fast, and I'm sorry for that. I shouldn't have assumed that you wanted to be — involved in all of this — or were ready for it." A faint chuckle, "In another world, Redbird would've been a damn fine business. I'll be sad to see it go."

"You didn't," Peyton argues. "It wasn't your fault. I did want to be involved. I don't know what would have happened to me if I wasn't, honestly. Just… too much happened there, too fast. It wasn't you. It was… everything. My father… Wendy… Wes…" her voice cracks a little at the end and she shakes her head. "It wasn't you. I just felt… lost."

And another Cardinal was the one to find her.

"Be safe," she whispers.

"I wish I could've…" Could've what? It just trails off, and Cardinal exhales a sigh. "I'm sorry, all the same. One way or another, I failed you, whatever you think. Take care, Peyton. Be safe."

He closes his eyes, "Phone. Disconnect."


Peyton's lips part but the call is already disconnected. She stares at the device in her hand for a long moment, thumb brushing the redial icon for a moment before she tucks the phone back into her pocket. A tear streams down her face.

The voice she'd longed to hear for so long echoes in her head. Mutual apologies given, neither accepted, replay as she stands to walk once more. Von no longer frolics but stays close to her, knowing something is wrong.

"Goodbye," she whispers into the dusk.

Closure is overrated.

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