Drunken Donuts


cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif niki_icon.gif

Scene Title Drunken Donuts
Synopsis Niki checks in with Elisabeth. Cardinal arrives bearing breakfast foods and the three compare notes.
Date August 23, 2010

Dorchester Towers - Elisabeth's Apartment

This is a pretty standard two-bedroom apartment, although the occupant has gone to some effort to make it her own. Although the carpet is the ubiquitous beige, the walls are painted a soft rose-gray mauve shade, giving the main living space warmth. A dark gray sectional sofa sits in the living room facing an entertainment center that contains a state-of-the-art stereo system and a less upscale television setup. A coffee table sits in the curve of the sectional, and floor lamps bracket the ends of the furniture. The dining area hosts a four-seater square oak table and chairs, with the table generally host to a slew of mail and papers. An oak sideboard against the wall has candles on either end of it and a glass bowl with a fake arrangement of flowers. A small wine rack sits next to the sideboard, home to no more than nine bottles. The kitchen is small, but functional, painted a soft yellow color with a transparent blue glass backsplash. Off the living room are two bedrooms, one of which has the door closed and the other appears to be a home office. Its walls are a soft shade of green, and it contains a desk with a high-end computer setup and a bookcase stocked with textbooks.

She'd practically forgotten that she sent Niki the text that said No hurries, but stop in when you have a minute. I'll be at my apartment all week. Elisabeth's in pretty rough shape this morning. When she opens the door, she's wearing a pair of sweatpants and a large T-shirt that doesn't look like it belongs to her — it's a large man's T-shirt. Her blonde hair is tousled and she's wearing a pair of sunglasses inside the apartment. "Morning," she murmurs as she lets Niki in and locks all the locks behind the other woman. The curtains in the living room are thrown wide open to allow the morning sun in, and still the kitchen lights are all on as well. The scent of coffee permeates the apartment. The hangover looks brutal.

"Morning, Liz," Niki greets, perching her own pair of sunglasses on top of her head as she steps inside. She doesn't even ask how the other woman's weekend was. She's wearing sunglasses indoors. Niki already knows. "Coffee smells good. You mind if I help myself?" She smiles perhaps not brightly, but genuinely.

There's a smirk. Elisabeth waves a hand, "Go right ahead." She fetches her own cup from the counter and takes a ginger swallow, also swallowing down several tablets at the same time. "Sorry. I overslept a bit." As if Niki can't tell exactly why. "How're you?" she asks as the other blonde pours herself a cup.

Niki retrieves a cup from Elisabeth's cupboards and pours herself some coffee. "Made it out of another crazy situation alive, so I don't suppose I have too much to complain about." She brings the mug to her lips for a sip, followed by an appreciative nod as she leans back against the counter.

Her simple red tank top and cut off shorts leave a good amount of skin bare (which is a godsend in weather like New York's experiencing), showing a sickly green blossom of bruises across one shoulder, with less vicious-looking purple and blue ones dotted here and there on her legs. There are fresh stitches on her forearm. "I'm doing pretty good, actually. Lorine Hawk," the name on Niki's ID, "just signed a lease on a new apartment that isn't a total shithole. I'm moving in next door to Monica. She doesn't know it yet."

Now that she can get a good look at Niki, Liz goes still. "Well, shit, woman. What the hell'd you get into this time?" she asks mildly. If it's none of her business, she's sure she'll be informed of it. Dropping her sunglasses onto the high breakfast bar, Liz flinches at the light but doesn't move to darken the room any either as she climbs into the stool right next to them. "Monica'll be glad to hear it. Frankly, I'm glad to hear it just in case shit hits the fan with her," she admits mildly, squinting toward her friend.

"All from our little adventures on Staten Island," Niki explains vaguely enough. "When I say I fell, that's actually what happened. Just… from a very great height when the floor caved in. Didn't break anything, though. Peter took care of me." She nods her head toward her arm. "Nothing too crazy." There's some definite amusement in there.

Elisabeth snorts a chuckle and then winces. "Ow… don't make me do that," she says on a wry smile. But she can't help the laughter itself. "Peter, huh?" She purses her lips and considers that. "Glad he's not entirely a lost cause," she comments softly on a sigh. "Be careful around Messiah folks…. the intel we've got right now indicates that Peter thinks he's in charge, but in fact it's a guy named Carmichael who has a persuasion power. They've already done a number on Claire." She carefully skirts around mention of Rebel or Micah, because she knows how much that hurts Niki. Her blue eyes skim over the woman leaning on the counter, seeking sight of the tattoo that usually gives away Niki versus Jessica as she asks, "You ever heard of a guy named D'Sarthe, by the way?"

"I know. I told Peter I'm not interested in Messiah. He seems to understand. I told him all I care about is dealing with Linderman. If there's anything left of me after that, then I may take time to reconsider what direction I'm going in." Niki shrugs. "But after I've dealt with Linderman… I may just finally find some dinky town in the middle of nowhere to hide in for the rest of my life. That's the tentative plan, anyway. So I don't panic about not having a plan." She smiles wryly. She's kidding, mostly. Maybe. It's difficult to tell if Jessica's tattoo would peek out from that tank, but it isn't visible right now at any rate.

There's another sip of coffee as Niki's features scrunch a bit closer together when she's thinking. "D'Sarthe… No. Doesn't ring any bells. Who is he?"

"Well….. to start with, he's someone that Cardinal has approached to assist in taking Linderman down," Elisabeth reports calmly. Around a sip of coffee, she then adds, "He's from down Monica's way. And apparently Monica was…. let's call it harassing him. So as things start moving, it'd be a good idea for you to keep an eye on your cousin. Keeping her away from him seems like a real good plan about now. She indicated to me that he might have it in for her, but we didn't know that when we started to form the alliance."

Niki's eyes narrow faintly as she listens to Elisabeth. "You guys invited another mob boss along for the ride to take down Linderman?" That hardly seems an appropriate or sound course of action, in her mind. She brings one hand up to rub at her forehead. It makes sense, in a way, and her expression suggests she sees that, but… "I'll keep an eye on Monica. If he touches her, though, I will tear him apart."

And it's a safe bet that Niki means that literally.

Elisabeth holds up a hand. "It's not part of my plot, my dear, I'm just the hired gun." Well, not really. But her talents do not lie in the chess game that all the Big Boys seem to be playing. "Richard had his reasons for bringing D'Sarthe into the picture, and if I understand right, it had to do with controlling the power vacuum at the top while we re-established our own power base once Linderman was toppled. But if you want more details, you're welcome to ask him." She grimaces, rubbing her temple. Her head is killing her, and even the cloudy daylight from the sliding glass door is a lot. "Honestly, Niki? Like you, I'm of the point me in a direction and tell me who to shoot mindset. Especially right now."

"An out-of-towner, though? Gigi Civella could easily have been put under our thumb." Though Dona Civella didn't exactly do a good job of filling the space left by her father when he was sent to prison. "No, I suppose Civella wouldn't do… But I do suspect she'll be a token thorn in our side once Linderman's gone."

Niki heaves a sigh and drops her hand back to her side. "I don't like that I'm getting complacent in my point-and-shoot mentality, but fuck if it isn't easier. The Great Game can be a chore."

"To be fair, it wasn't my idea… my idea…"

A whisper stirs into their conversation, the shadows along the wall shifting upwards and deepening a split-second before Cardinal pushes out of them, drawing wisps and lines of shadow with him to define and fill out his form, monochrome blending into colour. "d'Sarthe has an enormous hate-on for ol' Danny-boy, so Zarek brought him into the picture without asking." There's a Dunken Donuts bag in hand, and he lifts it up a bit, rustling, "Bagels, ladies?"

"Amen sister," Elisabeth agrees wholeheartedly. She jumps just a little at the whisper, which makes her flinch cuz it jostles her head, but her blue eyes fly around the room to locate the shadows that morph into the man before the tension in her shoulders relaxes again. She sips from her coffee cup and wrinkles her nose just a little at the thought of food… but then again, a dry bagel might settle her stomach too. She'll think about that for a moment. "See? I knew he had some kind of explanation for that whole thing," Liz says, waving a hand in a gesture that might look dismissive but is more of the careless 'he takes care of that part' mood. "Hey, babe," she greets him with a tired smile. "Thanks for leaving the coffee on," she adds softly.

Niki does start at Cardinal's sudden appearance, sloshing coffee over her hand and drawing a hiss from the woman. The cup is quickly set aside as she turns to the sink to rinse her hands. "Does he always do that?" she asks Elisabeth with a quiet huff of laughter. She doesn't seem upset about splashing herself, at least.

Wiping her hand on her cut-offs, she then reaches out to take the bag from Cardinal and set it on the counter before rummaging through it. "Tell me you brought me an onion bagel," Niki murmurs. Okay, so she knows none of what's in that bag was meant for her, but still. Finding her prize, she withdraws it from the bag and sets about spreading cream cheese and turns her gaze to Cardinal. "Zarek, huh? That explains so much." It's clear she has a little disdain for the so-called Lindergoon, but she trusts Cardinal's judgment. "Have you got d'Sarthe drinking the Kool-Aid, then?"

"I do, it's a terrible habit…" Cardinal surrenders the bag of bagels eaisly to Niki's breakfast hunger, slanting over a sympathetic look towards Elisabeth as he leans against the counter's edge, "…and no problem. I didn't want to wake you two."

One hand lifts, rubbing at sleepless eyes and pushing back up through his hair, "No, not really. He's basically agreed to give the city to me after Linderman's gone, but I completely expect him to pull a double-cross. I'll just have to plan my own ahead of time."

Elisabeth winces a little at the confirmation that Felix had still been asleep on the couch with her when Richard came in. "Sorry," she murmurs softly, sincere in her apology. "Guess that last bottle of wine was a bad plan." She wraps both hands around her cup and smirks faintly. "Do we even have any allies that aren't going to be out to screw us at the end? I mean…. seriously. If we do, I haven't really seen it yet. Maybe the Ferry, they got their own thing going on."

She too reaches for the bag, seeking just a plain bagel that she can nibble on a bit while they all talk. "I was telling her about the potential for problems with D'Sarthe — we don't know how big a pissed-off he's got going for Monica. She'll be moving in next to her, and I figured if she knew to watch for trouble, all the better," Liz explains.

"Do you know how you counter a double-cross like that?" Niki asks from around a mouthful of blissful, delicious bagel. "With pre-emptive bullets." She wipes cream cheese from the corner of her mouth with her finger and swallows down her bite. It's a very Jessica thing to say. A mercenary wisdom to it. "And don't think I won't put them in him myself if he tries anything with Monica."

"Let's at least try to get some use out of him before we kill him, though, alright?" A wry statement from Cardinal, his head shaking slightly, "If he goes after Monica, I'll talk to him. If he doesn't listen? Then you can shoot him. He gets one warning." Of course, if his 'going after Monica' causes serious damage, it's entirely possible that he'll change that tune. If nothing else, Richard is protective of 'his people'.

Once the others have their bagels, he reaches out for the bag, reaching in to gather a garlic bagel for himself, cracking it open and reaching for the little container of cream cheese that Niki left half-empty for his own. "So what can you tell me about Elle, Liz?"

Elisabeth is staying far, far away from the cream cheese. And it's evil and mean that he's picking her brain the middle of a massive hangover that is making her feel pretty icky. As she picks at the dry bagel, she says flatly, "Elle Bishop is a psycho." She pauses and offers, "Though to be fair, that's apparently her father's fault. She was actually brought up inside the Company's custody from what Norton told me." Her brow furrows as Elisabeth tries to remember what she knows about the blonde. "I think the woman's as near to being a complete sociopath as Jessica is," she says, slanting a half-smile toward Niki. "No offense." Then she adds, "We offered to help her get out if she wanted to. She and Norton had a fling while they were in the future… maybe after they got back too, I'm not really sure on that one. But he was convinced that all it would take was people who actually cared about her to turn her. Now…. to be fair, she knew a shit-ton of information about Phoenix and the safehouses and stuff from the future and she never once reported anyone who could have been swooped up by the Company when they got back. Buuuut…. as a person, I only know what I saw. And I might have been a bit biased, too," she admits.

"Elle is crazy," Niki confirms. "If I grew up in the hands of the Company, I probably would be, too. Doctor Knutson is a fucking piece of work, too." Whether that name means anything to either of others in the room or not doesn't really concern the woman. "She… Jessica did some terrible things to her. Really, really terrible things." She shakes her head, and sets her bagel and her coffee aside at the memories, looking suddenly paler. "I don't know if there's any recovering from some of the things Elle Bishop's been through."

"She was in the future? Shit, I didn't realize that…" Clearly, Cardinal's inquisition is a subtle vengeance for lying to him the previous evening. Some people fight. Some interrogate their somewhat significant others while they have hangovers. "…so she helped against the Pinehearst future? I know she's crazy." A bite of his bagel, chews, swallows, then he looks sharply to Niki, " — Knutson? That's the person that Elle was looking for… who is she? And what's Elle gone through?"

Elisabeth seems to be taking her punishment without complaint, though she props her head on one hand and looks vaguely disgruntled. Her bagel is consumed in very small bites to be sure that it actually stays down — she's not certain of it. "I …." Her brows pull together in a ferocious frown as she picks through her brain. "I don't think that she was actually involved in the takedown. She was just at Moab when everything hit the fan and everyone was thrown forward. I'm not even really sure I ever knew why. Certainly no one ever talked about her being at Pinehearst that night, no." She goes quiet thinking about it. "I heard that she was actually tortured in there as a kid, but Norton wouldn't give me any other details. He promised her he wouldn't talk about things she told him in confidence. Personal stuff anyway."

After a sip of coffee, Liz adds quietly, "And I put out feelers on Knutson. I heard through the Ferry grapevine that she was one of the Staten Island Hospital casualties, but I've got a message in to Eileen to verify it. Why does Elle want her, anyway?"

"Knutson… She was a Company doctor. Worked on Level Five. She and Elle have some sort of history, but I'm not entirely sure about it. They didn't seem to like each other much. But Doctor Knutson didn't seem to like anyone or anything." When Elizabeth informs them that Odessa Knutson was reported dead, Niki falls quiet. Maybe out of some sort of respect, even. "As far as I can tell, Elle's been screwed over by anyone she's ever trusted. Myself included. Makes her a worse loose cannon than she already is."

"No," Cardinal's head shakes a little, "The report's erroneous, when I ran into Elle not too long ago she said that Knutson was waiting for her at home — and that was well after the battle at the hospital. Maybe she just took a runner?" A lean back, and he exhales a sigh, "No idea why she wanted her. Her and Warren crashed into Devi's garage yesterday, though, hurt her and 'recruited' her for Warren's 'business'."

There's a blink, and Elisabeth looks really befuddled. "So… Knutson and Elle don't get along. And Knutson's been in the Ferry for… ages. And she supposedly died at Staten Island. But Elle knows where she is afterward??" She pushes upright and her blue eyes are suddenly laser-bright on Cardinal. "There were rumors of a leak in the Ferry. Is Knutson the fucking leak?"

"I heard Knutson defected, but… I never knew what happened after that." Niki shakes her head slowly. "I wonder why Elle would want to track down Knutson. It doesn't make any sense. Is she doing it for the Company? Or the Institute?" The woman's appetite is returning to her slowly, but she's eating in a manner very similar to Elisabeth. Very small bites.

"Could be," Cardinal says, frowning a bit as the bagel pauses half-way to his mouth, the trail of logic working through his mind, "Logic plays out, anyway. Make sure Eileen's aware of this." A bite, chew chew, swallow, and he looks to Niki, "I don't know. I know she handed Warren over to the Institute - and she's still active in the Company. Where her loyalties lie, I couldn't say."

"I'm royally confused," Elisabeth admits. "And I'm pretty sure it's not just the hangover from Hell, either. I'll put the word out to Eileen." She sighs and drinks her coffee, puzzling through things in her head.

Niki shakes her head. "It is too early for this bullshit," she concurs. She rubs at her brow and then finally asks in a soft voice, "Is Devi all right?"

"Aside from Warren deciding that she works for him now," Cardinal snorts roughly, waving a hand vaguely through the air, "I'm going to go have a talk with Elle about that. I think I'll bring Jaiden along."

Elisabeth rubs the back of her neck and snickers. "Mmm…. to be a fly on the wall for that talk." She pauses and offers quietly, "She might talk to me. I can't say for sure, but … we sorta had an understanding back when." She shrugs. "If you'd rather just put the fear of God into her, though, it's your call." She looks thoughtful. "She could go any direction — everyone she's ever trusted has betrayed her, she may not be willing to trust again. Or…. she might. No way to really know."

"Good call. But… Try being civil with her, if at all possible?" Niki winces, knowing full well what Jaiden could be capable of causing Elle to end up doing to herself.

"I'm going to talk to her politely, first," Cardinal says with a slight shake of his head, "She has a history of getting a little over-aggressive, though, so I'd rather have some insurance along. If we're lucky, she'll be rational and listen to me without causing any problems…" Wry, "…slim chance, but we can hope. You can come along if you want, Liz. Good cop, bad cop?"

"Sure, I can come along," Elisabeth says. Her tone is rueful. "Kershner kicked me out for the next few days. Told me if I broke any more glass, she'd kick my ass." She sips her coffee, shoving a hand through her messy hair.

Niki frowns thoughtfully. "You'll have to let me know how that turns out." She glances down to her watch and straightens up quickly. "Oh shit. Liz, I'm sorry, but I gotta run. I have to go sign papers so that I can actually move in to my new place." She sends a glance at Elisabeth and Cardinal in turn. "If you two feel like helping me unpack things? I'm going to do most of it this evening. Hamilton Heights in Harlem. Six-oh-four. I'll have beer." She peers at Elisabeth, "And water and Advil."

"I'll be by," Cardinal affirms, dropping the bagel down to the counter and flashing an easy smile to Niki, "Six oh four, got it. I'll bring a pizza or something, we can make it a whole thing." A pause, "If I suggest Twister or strip poker, someone'll hit me, right?" Hey, can't blame the man for trying.

Liz nods to Niki and smiles slightly. "Water and Advil sounds great. Might still need it by then. I'll be there, though, definitely. Good luck on your paperwork." She moves to slide off the stool so she can let Niki out and lock the doors behind her when she goes. "Yes, love, someone'll hit you," she reassures Cardinal.

"Damn." As the door's closed, Cardinal steps along up behind Elisabeth, hands skimming up over her hips in a loose embrace. He leans in beside her head, his voice quiet as he murmurs there, "How're you holding up, Liz?"

She turns and leans back against the front door, her head dropping to his shoulder as he slips his hands around her, her hands sliding up to his shoulders. "I'd be better if my head didn't feel like the slightest movement was going to send it rolling off my shoulders," Elisabeth admits ruefully. "I forget how bad the hangover gets."

A step closer brings him against her, Cardinal's head turning to nuzzle into her hair lightly. "Lush," he affectionately, gently accuses, "I thought you weren't gonna be home last night. I would've been here."

Elisabeth turns her face into the crook of his neck and admits softly, "I know. I was going to stay with my dad, but…. I couldn't stop jittering. He kept watching me, like I was a kettle about to boil." She grimaces, wrapping her arms more tightly around him. "So I stopped off at Redbird for a while. Had Laura do a walk-through on the security system. And then I came home. Had dinner with Vee. I sent you a text, but…." She bites her lip, still not raising her face so he can see it. "I didn't want you to have to deal with me freakin' out. Again."

"I got it a little late," Cardinal admits, regarding the text, his cheek rubbing against the side of her head in an affectionate little nuzzling, "And if I can't help you when you're freaking out… what good'm I, huh?"

She's quiet there for a long few moments, taking comfort in the nuzzling. Just in his presence. The T-shirt she slept in is one of the ones she pulled out of his laundry — the one he usually yanks out to sleep in, as a matter of fact. And Elisabeth blurts out softly, "I don't want you to move out. I know we both need a little space, and I know you need to do it… but I don't really want you to." She bites her lip. "I won't be all stupid and clingy about it or anything, but I just…. thought maybe you ought to know that it wasn't… what I wanted."

Cardinal draws back a bit, dragging some of her hair forward with the motion - one hand lifting to brush it back from her face, then, as he looks down to her for a moment. "If you don't want me to," he says quietly, "I'd stay, I mean— I mostly figured you needed your space, babe…"

When she looks up, it's with an uncertain expression. "I do need a little bit …. I need…." Elisabeth pauses and tries to think of how to phrase it. "I think maybe a new house rule? That we can't infodump on one another as soon as the other walks in unless it's life or death?" she asks hopefully. "I do it to you, too, I think — you come in from whatever else you're doing and I just open my mouth and dump everything else I wanted to talk to you about into your lap. Maybe we could…. just give each other a little time to breathe, have something to eat, get a kiss first?" She smiles a bit. "Here was kinda where we always hid from it all when we weren't both living here. We still need a little of that."

"I'm bad at that," Cardinal says quietly, his head dropping down to rest forehead to hers, eyes closing, "I don't remember the last time I could… relax. I'm always thinking about the next move. Shit." A bitter chuckle as he leans back, "Someone asked me on a date the other day - she's doing television spots for the Evo Department. We hadn't even ordered dinner before I'd convinced her that they're a bunch of fascists getting ready to dump people into concentration camps, and I didn't even realize I was doing it."

One hand comes up to cradle his cheek as Elisabeth tips her face up to rest against his. A soft chuckle erupts from her and she murmurs, "That's just bad. That's not a date, Richard." Her tone is teasing, and her blue eyes open and rest on his face as he pulls back. "Let's leave town. Just… for a couple of days. I know we've got a metric ton of shit to do, but…. Peyton can handle what's left at Redbird. The world will not …. well, it might come to an end while we lay on a beach for two days, but you know what? Fuck it if it does."

"We're just about ready to start advertising, though," Cardinal observes reluctantly, his eyes closing as he turns into the touch of her hand, "And I've got… Christ, so much shit to do, Liz. You really think Sarisa'd just let you go for a few days right now, too?"

Elisabeth laughs softly, bitterly. "Uhm… I sort of got kicked out for the rest of the week." There's a bit of a shrug. "Something about not wanting to have to replace any more cracked glass," she admits, ducking her head a little. "I sort of…. well, you know."

"Oh." A pause— and then Cardinal exhales a low chuckle, leaning in to brush a kiss against the crown of her head, "Well, we'll… figure out something, maybe. Pity we can't get Nakamura to give us a few days to rest, huh?"

That makes her laugh. "If he were around, I'd beg for a full vacation. Seriously. On my knees," Elisabeth admits, without looking up. She keeps her forehead against his collarbone. "Ah well. If we can't get away right now, life moves on." She smiles a little. "I need to go lay down for a while longer. That was…. way, way too much alcohol, love. Wanna cuddle?"

"Sure." Cardinal murmurs to her hair, "If you fall asleep, though, I'm not waking you up to come hassle Elle. I think you can use the sleep, baby."

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