Don't I Know You?


cardinal_icon.gif monica_icon.gif

Scene Title Don't I Know You?
Synopsis Richard Cardinal spends an evening with a new acquaintance, suffering a nagging feeling that he knows her from somewhere…
Date June 4, 2010

Coco's Boxing Gym

The gym's been around so long that no one knows who Coco was. Legend has it that he was an ex-mobster or some grizzled former POW. Either story would fit with the general atmosphere of the place. This is not a trendy location that offers yoga, pilates and spin classes. The gym is grimy, run-down, perpetually smells of sweat and full of well-worn, mostly manual equipment. It offers a wide selection of weights, a wall full of bikes, an area for martial arts training and a boxing ring towards the rear of the space.

Despite its lack of modern equipment, the space is almost always busy. It has a reputation for hiring serious trainers for both weight and boxing training. A world welterweight champion once trained here, and his picture hangs over the desk. Anyone who is serious about their training would feel comfortable here. Weekend warriors need not apply.

The sound of bandaged fists striking into a sandbag is an erratic thump-thump-thump through the air of the gymnasium as Cardinal bounces lightly upon the balls of his feet; his hands wrapped up, his body stripped down to a tanktop-style shirt that shows off the tattoos curling down one upper arm and a pair of sweatpants. He's not using a boxing style, not exactly, more of a loose-and-tumble street fighting stance that doesn't speak of formal training - but plenty of experience.

There's not that many people in the gym - maybe two or three more - but then again, in this weather, it'll probably be a bit before the regulars start to drift back in. Those who survived that terrible, terrible storm.
A young woman slips into the gym, taking up a place against a wall. Apparently, she's here to watch. Perhaps she likes sweaty men! It's hard to say. Pulling a hood down off her head, she looks around the room a bit before her gaze falls on the tattooed man.

Monica starts to watch, and after a few moments it turns into an out and out stare as the man goes through his paces. She seems completely unashamed about it, too.

This young, African-American woman is in her mid-twenties, has dark eyes and dark hair, which she normally wears down to frame her face in gentle curls. She has pleasant features, her looks hiding the skillful, talented and formidable woman behind a sweet, downhome southern girl exterior. But there is confidence there, strikingly so. She's a little over average height for a woman her age, and she dresses more comfortably than fashionably. A habit from not having the money to support being fashionable. She still has a hint of a southern accent, pinning her roots to New Orleans for those that know one accent from another.

After another flurry of punches that's followed up by a twist away and a solid side-kick that sends the heavy bag swaying a bit, Richard Cardinal drops back a couple steps to catch his breath. He brings both hands to the small of his back, cracking his spine with a grunt, rolling his neck around a few times. A look over to the door as the young woman walks in, a cheerful wave in her direction, just generally being friendly.

When he stops, it takes a few moments before Monica shakes herself out of her trance, blinking a few times to recenter. And /then/ she waves back, a bit of a sheepish smile coming to her face. There might be a blush. But, she does come walking over that way. "I've never seen that style before. Sort of a street gang, rumble at midnight feel," she says in greeting, southern accent tinting her voice.

A grin cracks to Cardinal's lips at her words; he's wearing shades indoors, curiously enough, although it's not that bright in here. "Yeah, well," he reaches a hand back to steady the bag, "I've lived in some pretty bad neighborhoods. Some of them had guards."

"Yeah? I hear ya there, on the bad neighborhoods at least," Monica says with a wry chuckle. She puts a hand on that sandbag, as if to steady it a bit. "I don't suppose this place lets girls play, too, huh?"

"It's run by a chick, so," Cardinal's hand sweeps towards the bag, a crooked smile tugging up at the corner of his lips, "Be my guest. She's pretty bad-ass herself."

"Well, good to know," Monica says with a chuckle. She takes a moment to pull off her jacket and set her things aside, leaving her in all black workout clothes as she pulls her hair back into a ponytail. "I'll have to meet her," she notes, "It's not everyday you meet a badass chick." Just… every /so/ often. When she goes for the bag, it's not with a boxer's punch, but a rather impressive martial artist's spinning kick.

Cardinal's brows leap up towards his hairline at that spinning kick — and there's a momentary silence in the room as a few other people look in that direction too. "Not… bad," he allows, a guffaw escaping him, "Not half bad at all. What's your name, chica?"

"Well, thanks," Monica says to the understated compliment, a bit of amusement in her tone, she pauses in going for the bag again to offer him a hand. "It's Monica. Nice to meetcha."

A beat's pause passes, Cardinal's brow lining faintly as if that stirred some memory, but it passes swiftly enough. He reaches out to clasp the offered hand, a crooked smile to his lips, "Richard. Remind me not to piss you off, my head's a little softer than that bag."

Monica's handshake is, perhaps contradictorily, feminine as she nods to his name. "Well, Richard, I guess that means sparring's out of the question." Taking her hand back to snap in playful disappointment.

Cardinal's grip is firm and brief, and he exhales a laugh, "Hey, I'm no glutton for punishment. Where'd you learn to do that?" A gesture to the bag, then down to her legs, brows raising a little.

"New Orleans," Monica answers with amusement, and truthfulness! In a way. "Just me and the ol' punching bag, then," she says, patting the bag affectionately, "Poor thing, always getting beat on."

Cardinal's shoulders lean back against the wall, hands clasped over his belly and one ankle crossing the other as he watches her with a hint of amusement — and something else, as if there was something nagging in the back of his head. "I've never heard it complain before," he observes with a chuckle, "Y'know, they do fights here on the weekends…"

"Me neither. I guess it /is/ a glutton for punishment." Monica cocks a hip out to the side, her smile tilted as she looks over his way. "Yeah? Like a tournament or something?" She turns her attention back to the bag, and she seems okay with being the center of attention for the few people there as she lays into the bag. It's nothing /too/ out there, but it is a rare level of skill in someone in their early twenties.

"Apparently," Cardinal admits, "I've never been; apparently they get some evos fighting too, sometimes, although it's not like that bloody mess they used to hold on the Pancratium. No fighting to the death or any've that bullshit." A grimace, "That was fucked up. Might be worth checking out, though, if you're any good."

"Evolved fights?" Monica blinks at that, considering for a moment. Or two. "Well. I wouldn't mind coming to watch. I like to have a peek at styles, you know? It's interesting, the things people come up with." No ulterior motives to watching a bunch of fighters, not one bit. >.> "But you don't go? Just not into watching people beat the heck out of each other?"

"Oh, I just found the gym a couple've days ago," replies Cardinal with a lopsided grin, brows raising slightly, "I just haven't had the chance yet. I'm still planning on checking it out sometime." He shrugs a shoulder, "Probably slightly illegal, but, shit, so long as they're not doing what the Pancratium was, there's worse than some illegal pit fighting."

"I suppose that's a decent excuse," Monica says, pausing her practice to look over at him. "What was the Pancratium? I never heard of it before. Someone put a stop to it, though? I mean, I can get down with some matches for fun, but killin' and stuff, that's a little /too/ much fun for me," she says, that last bit somewhat dry in humor.

"It was this… thing up on Staten," Cardinal explains in quiet tones as he watches her at the bag, head tilting slightly and expression turning serious, "They were abducting people, evos, making them fight— sometimes to the death. They even had Sylar in the pit once or twice."

"Abducting-" Monica gets a sort of odd expression at the name, like she's just not sure how to feel about the man mentioned. Or maybe just the situation as a whole. "How does this place keep quiet? I mean… I'm sure there's folks on the look out for 'evolved activity'…"

At that, Cardinal grins. "You must be new to town," he observes, sweeping one hand to the side, "There's bigger fish to fry than some li'l fighting ring with some off-the-books betting in New York City. Besides, they probably pay all the right bribes."

"Sort of new," Monica says, hand lifting to run through her hair a touch nervously. "It's been a while since I was in town. I guess it's good to know they're not looking to fry /all/ the fish, know what I mean?"

"Oh…" Cardinal's voice quiets, even as it turns a bit dark, "…just give them time." A brief drift of his thoughts somewhere unpleasant, obviously, before he shakes his head sharply — flashing over a grin, "You SLC-positive, then, or just liberal?"

Monica frowns at those first words, but it's clear she has thoughts along the same lines. "Huh? Oh… I've never been tested," she says, dancing around a little bit. "But I like to think of myself as liberal either way." Grin.

Cardinal exhales a chuckle to that. "Well, you won't have that choice for long, with the Department's little plan to register everyone in the god-damn country as 'Evolved' or 'Non-Evolved'…" A rough snort, "Welcome to 1984, everyone. But. Anyway." A vague wave, "Sorry, didn't mean to get into politics."
"I like to think there will always be a resistance," Monica remarks, with the obvious implication of that being where she plans to be. "Hey, no big. It's on everyone's minds these days. Or, well, probably everyday since 'the bomb'."

Cardinal's lips tug up a bit at one corner of his lips, and he pushes off the wall — taking a step over, he reaches out to steady the bag, voice quieter, "Careful what you say there… once all the snow's cleared up, people'll start remembering that there's already resistors out there, again, and I've got a feeling they've been stocking up on jackboots."

When he steps closer, Monica does take a moment to glances around. Out of practice at this whole thing, apparently. "Right. No bigger crises to distract anybody. What about you? You SLC-positive? You seem to… be someone who pays attention, at least."

"Me?" Cardinal flashes that rogue's grin of his, "I pay attention to everything. Some guys paint, some guys fight… I pay attention." The man's weight sinks against the bag a bit where his hand's resting, "It's sort've my thing, y'know?"

"Like to know everything that's going on, huh? Well, it's not a bad thing to do." Monica looks up at him for a moment, studying almost before she shifts her weight over to one leg, her stance as crooked as her smile. "So what's with the sunglasses?"

Cardinal brings a hand up, finger crooking to the edge of the shades to bring them down his nose a bit—squinting at her over them, he pushes them back up with a smirk, "Hemeralopia. Day blindness. Keeps the glare down."

"Well," Monica says, letting out a playful sigh and canting her head as she looks up at him, "I gotta tell ya, I was sort of expecting laser eyes." She reaches over and gives him a playful punch to the arm, crooked smile spreading into a grin.

At the punch to his arm, Cardinal rocks back in faux-wounding, then chuckles. "No, no laser eyes— I did once know a guy, swear to God, X-ray vision. Not me, though."

Monica laughs at his wounded reaction, but tips her head curiously as he goes on. "That's awesome. Classic super powers. Like invisibility. And I hope it's not you, or I'm going to have to watch where your eyes are going under those glasses."

Cardinal's grin widens, both brows lifting over the edge of his shades in a playful waggling. "If it is," he replies shamelessly, "You're way too late for that, so you might as well just accept it…" A chuckle weaves through his tones, then, as he muses, "Actually, I'm pretty sure I'd just see your bones or something. Not very sexy."

"You have a point. But I'd still have to kick your ass. You know, for all womankind," Monica says, but her tone is still teasing there. "Unless you're into that sort of thing, I guess. Hey, check out that girl's scapula."

"That… presents all sorts of really disturbing thoughts about what the old man's into," Cardinal brings a hand up to rub against the side of his face, "Christ. Now I need to get drunk tonight to wash my brain out."

"Sorry," Monica says with a laugh, "You just discovered my ability. Disturbing Mental Images." She does give his arm a pat, looking only a /little/ apologetic. Mostly amused, though.

"Shit, and we all thought 'blowing up cities' was the bad one," Cardinal mutters good-naturedly under his breath, his hand falling to his side as he smirks back at her, "You're a terrible, terrible woman, I hope you know that."
"You all we very, very wrong," Monica says in mockingly grave tones, her head nodding sagely. "It's a failing of mine," she notes to those last words, "It could have been worse, though! I could have says 'coccyx'."

"I don't even think I can pronounce that," Cardinal confesses with a chuckle, his head shaking a bit as he turns to thump a fist against the bag, "I can definately do without it, though. Anyway— wait, what were we talking about?" A furrowed brow as he looks back at her in bemused amusement.

"I think I was about to offer to buy you a drink, to make up for the mental scarring," Monica says, echoing that amusement. "My grandpa used to say a good drink is a balm for all wounds."

Cardinal's grin turns a bit crooked to that. "Deal," he replies, thumping a fist to the bag again and pushing off, stepping around her to head along at an unhurried stroll towards the locker room, "Be right back."

"You got it," Monica says, turning to watch as he strolls off. And she takes the opportunity to grab her stuff again, sliding on her jacket and taking down her hair and running her hands through it to make herself more presentable and less… workout mode. Women.

It takes a minute or two for Cardinal to make a re-appearance, a shirt that actually has sleeves and a flight jacket thrown on, sweats replaced by denim, and a duffle bag slung over one shoulder. "'Later, guys," he raises a hand to the others working out - and is mostly ignored - as he heads over with a grin, "So. Where to?"

Standing up from the wall when he comes back out, Monica opens her mouth to reply, then stop for a moment. "You know, I only know Harlem well enough to point toward a bar."

"Yeah, well, that's not happening," Cardinal replies with a chuckle, heading for the door, "I'm sure we can find somewhere local. Gotta be an open bar or two somewhere on the street…"

"In this city? You know there's got to be one within walking distances. Throw a rock, hit a bar." Monica smirks a little, walking with him to the door. "I was betting my little brother those would be the first things open after the storm."

"After the storm?" The door's pushed open, and Cardinal holds it for her for a few moments, flashing over a grin, "Shit, the good bars never closed."

Monica laughs at that, shaking her head a bit as she passes through the door, her hands sliding into her pockets. "That's a good point. The poor bus boys having to keep the snow clear from the door…"

"The really good bars don't need bus boys. They probably had flamethrowers to keep the snow out…" The door's allowed to swing closed behind them as Cardinal steps out into the chill, hands tucking into the pockets of his own jacket, the faded 'Chicago Air' logo showing on the arm, "…the liquor always flows somewhere."

"That's true. The harder times get, the more we drink," Monica says, dipping more serious for a moment there before she shakes it off and looks over at him with a smile. "Lucky for us, huh?"

"Lucky for us," Cardinal admits, his own voice turning more serious as well as he walks along beside her down the sidewalk, boots crunching through the snow that remains behind, his head shaking slowly, "Because I'm pretty sure times are about to get pretty hard."

"Don't they always? Get a break, and something else crops up." Monica lets out a sigh, shaking her head. "What makes you say so this time?"

"I told you," Cardinal slants a look sidelong, his lips twitching in a faint smile, "I pay attention. I can see the signs… you could too, if you knew where to work. Then there was all that Internet stuff that Rebel put out, too, if you believe it."

"So when do things start to turn around for the better, huh?" Monica looks up at him, for a moment, looking quite world-weary particularly for someone so young. But then, that's becoming more usual these days.

Cardinal's hands - now gloved - emerge from his pockets, spreading out to either side to indicate the world as he pulls ahead of her a stride or two, walking backwards. "This's about as good as it gets, babe," he observes, "You get the bad with the good. The trick's making sure the bad doesn't take over entirely."

"You're not too good at this uplifting speeches thing, you know," Monica says with a return of her smile as she keeps pace with him. "Where's the optimistic advice, huh? Chin up and all that?"

Cardinal's arms drop down to his sides, and he turns around with a snort, "I'm a realist. What do I look like, Helena fucking De—" Oh, hello there lamp post. I did not see you there. This is my head, would you like to say hello! Thunk. He stops in his tracks. "Ow."

"Wait, Helena?" Monica perks up at that name, but it's only for a moment before he smacks right into the post. Wups. Coming over, she puts her hand on his arm, "You okay there?" She asks with gentle concern, as well as a soft laugh.

Cardinal half-stumbles back a step, a hand raising up to rub against his forehead. "I'm good," he laughs a pained sort of laugh, his other hand waving around as if to press home the point, "I'm good! No worries…"

"You sure? You're not bleeding, are you?" Monica puts her hands on his face, standing up on her tiptoes to get a look. "Usually, people aren't this clumsy until /after/ the drinking."

"Hey, I was walking backwards, give me a break here…" A rueful grin curves to Richard's lips as he looks down to her, a hint of stubble rough against her palms as she cradles his face and looks up to him, both hands resting lightly on her wrists, "…only real hurt's my pride, honest."

"I wouldn't worry about that too much. I'm a firm believer in the second impression," Monica says with a warmer smile. "Plus, who hasn't run into a pole now and then, right? I mean, who besides me, of course," she notes with that playful tone.

Cardinal's brows lift playfully as he observes, "I believe this is where I make some sort of comment about poles, and then you roundhouse kick me across the street…" A wink, and he leans back, hand sliding from her wrist to rub at his forehead, "Anyway. Where were we—ah. Right. To the bar!"

"That… all depends on how funny the comment is. I might just kick you halfway across the street." Monica slides her hands back into her pockets again, still cold, apparently, even though it's warmer than it has been. "This way, Baryshnikov," she says with a smirk as she starts walking again.

Cardinal exhales a laugh, gloved hand slapping back to the pole as he uses it to make a turn around it — inertia helping him catch up with her, hands tucking back into his own pockets. "So what brings you to this frozen hell-hole of a city, anyway, Monica?" A sidelong glance over, one brow ticking upwards as he drops into step with her as if he'd never lost it.

Ahead, a bar's sign flickers faintly in the night, a neon beacon of the word 'Budweiser'.

"Getting out of New Orleans. Getting away from some trouble… and I have some friends here I need to catch up with. As soon as I get the courage to go talk to them." Monica lets out a heavy sigh and looks over at him, "You know Helena Dean?"

"She put out all those youtube videos, right? Phoenix, and all that? Rise up…" A lift of his fist, and then it falls, Cardinal's lips twitching in self-mocking smile as they walk along the sidewalk, "…why, do you?"

"I've been out of touch with things up this way," Monica says, shaking her head a little bit. "Ah, once upon a time." She shrugs her shoulder, downplaying. "And anyways, who doesn't want to come to New York? It's still a fascination, you know, if for… different reasons these days."

Now that brings Cardinal's gaze over to her, dark shadows briefly glinting over the edge of his shades as he considers her for a moment as they walk. "Oh, did you…? Must be an interesting girl— bit young to be a terrorist leader'n all, but I guess that type tends to the young…"

"The young and idealistic, you mean?" Monica smiles a bit there, maybe a little sheepish. "It takes a lot to be an idealist, you know. To remind yourself everyday when you get up that there's good out there, and it's worth fighting for. And to stand up and actually… live it. Everyday. And a lot of times, by the time you go to bed that night, your hopes and ideals and dreams and visions of a better world have been completely dashed. But the next day… you get up and you remind yourself there's something worth fighting for. And that's the trick. It's not an easy life. There's very little comfort in it, really. But, you know, the world can change. It has. You just sometimes have to accept that you might be dead before you see it." Putting her hands on her hips, Monica looks away for a moment. "I'm rambling," she says after a brief pause, waving it off.

Ah, she might be rambling, but there's the ghost of a smile crooking to Cardinal's lips, and not for mockery's sake. "No you're not," he contests quietly, that smile tugging a bit wider, "You obviously know Helena, though, nobody else is quite that good with the whole… inspirational speeches thing." He stops at the bar's door, and then changes the subject entirely with a grin, "So. What's your poison?"

Monica laughs there, seeming a bit relieved. "Well… she's very inspirational. And infectious." When they get to the door, she looks that way, a crooked smile coming to her face before she looks back to him. "I'm from New Orleans, Rich. I drink the Sazerac."

"You know," Richard muses as he steps along in after her, "I've never had one. You'll have to introduce me…"


The memories of the rest of the night are still lingering as Richard Cardinal returns to Elisabeth's apartment where he's been crashing since he'd reclaimed his body, a few drinks and some casual chatter that he steered to avoid political topics studiously before Monica and he went their separate ways. A quiet tune whistled under his breath, he strides past some file boxes dragged out of the library towards the bedroom — and then he pauses, staring at the label scrawled in marker on the side.

"Wait a minute," he mutters, stepping over and tugging off the lid, reaching in to slide slim, plastic-bagged magazines one at a time to the side, fingering through them before choosing one and pulling it out. "Ah-hah."

Upon the cover of issue #10 of 9th Wonders, a hooded figure with dagger and crossbow leaps before a full moon. A bright yellow font in the corner of the cover screams out the question, 'Who is St. Joan?'.


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License