Escaping the Vacuum


cardinal_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif

Scene Title Escaping the Vacuum
Synopsis Cardinal visits Peyton in his newly healed body, and work is resumed.
Date June 2, 2010

Peyton's Apartment, Upper East Side

The cacophony of ferocious puppy growls and girlish giggles competes with the thrum and hum of the vacuum cleaner in Peyton Whitney's apartment — the Hoover upright, the equivalent to a dastardly villain that Von, the heroic pup, needs to vanquish — or so it would seem. As Peyton tries to rid the area rug of orange and black puppy fur, the little pup is doing his darndest to scare the appliance into submission with growls that he can't hear but come naturally when defending his new territory.

Leaving the vacuum running in spot, Peyton gives up for a moment and picks the dog up. "All right, enough, you," she tells the dog, though his fox-like ears can't hear her. He responds with a lick to her nose as she carries him into the kitchen, barricaded with a child-gate, then returns to the living room to finish vacuuming without the ankle biter trying to sink his teeth into the appliance. While it's still winter outside, Peyton is dressed for lounging in cut-off sweats and a tank top, long legs bare and her hair in a ponytail, to keep it from getting gnawed on by her new roommate.

As she steps away from the kitchen, there's a sudden sharp yip-yip-yip of alarm as if the deaf puppy'd just scented something interesting - or dangerous - and it comes just about a half-second before she's turning back into the living room. The reason's then obvious, because Richard Cardinal's seated in one of her love-seats.

He's dressed in a pair of black slacks and a grey sweatshirt, legs stretched out and arms folded behind his head as he cracks a grin and observes, "Damn. I thought I'd never get out've that damn vacuum cleaner."

There's a squeak of surprise as Peyton turns to look at whatever's gotten Von's attention. Her eyes wide, she reaches to turn off the vacuum, it's dull hum slowly dying out as the power is cut. Her face drains of color and she shakes her head before blinking her eyes hard and opening them again to stare at the man on her sofa. "Are you really here or is my power changing again?" she whispers, holding on to the vacuum cleaner to steady herself.

Though Peyton hasn't been to the library in some time, the coffee table proves she's been hard at "work" while on her weather-imposed hiatus — several file folders and a pile of newspapers and magazines rest beneath a pair of scissors. The Secretary has not been idle during her time off.

"Are… you're… cured?" Peyton's voice is small and uncertain — clearly she half expects him to tell her she's just dreaming.

A push off from the love-seat's arms gets Cardinal to his feet, and with a shit-eating grin on his lips he takes a few unhurried steps along up to her - and he raises one hand, black glove in place as always, the index finger extending as he raises it over the vacuum cleaner that stands between them. Closer, closer…

And he taps the tip of her nose.


It's an amusing, anti-climactic gesture after she hasn't seen him in a form that could make such contact for months — and for all of its flippancy, it has the opposite effect. The tap to her nose is like turning on a switch. Peyton's face crumples and tears flood to her eyes. One hand comes up to press against her mouth, to keep from sobbing, before she flings herself suddenly into his arms for the hug she's needed for so long. Her face buries in the gray fabric of his shirt as she clings to him, unmindful of whether or not the hug is reciprocated.

"Oh, hey, Pey — " The smile fades instantly as she crumples like she does, Cardinal's eyes widening a bit as he tries to salvage whatever he just did — and then she's flinging herself at him, and he catches her in his arms, both of his own going around her and pulling her in tight against his chest. His cheek rests to her hair as he rocks her lightly heel-to-toe on his feet, murmuring quietly, eyes closing, "S'alright, Peyton. I'm fine. I'm good…"

It's a rare moment of neediness and once it passes, once she's soaked up some of what she needs, Peyton steps back, cheeks wet but bright smile wide in her face. "How — who — what… I got a text but it was all garbled, like heiroglyphics or something, from Liz, and my cell service cut out when I tried to follow up and ask what it was about," she babbles a bit, keeping one hand on his forearm as she moves to the sofa, tugging him by the sleeve to come sit as well.

"It's a… long story," Cardinal shakes his head slightly, his hands falling from her although he doesn't try to pull away from her tugging. He's led along to the sofa, and then he drops down to sit, brows lifting as he looks over seriously, "Short version, Peter got a hold of Dreyfus's ability and created an amplification loop with him and Gillian until he had the power to… do it."

"Peter fixed you?" Peyton says with awe, one hand still on his sleeve, as if to keep a hold of him lest he should disappear from her any time soon. "Wow. I guess he's good for something after all, huh?" After all, one of the last times Cardinal had been in her apartment, he was cursing Peter and his entire family. "And Gillian… wow." Her tone is reverent, for her other former roommate; the sparkle in her eyes threatens to spill over once more, as the tears well and she blinks them away.

She laughs nervously as she brings her hand away from his arm finally to wipe her eyes. "I can't believe you're really… okay. I mean, I knew there was a way to fix you. There had to be, but… I don't know… things keep getting worse and worse and suddenly things are better — the storm gone and now you —" she shivers a little and shakes her head. "It's too good to be true, maybe."

"It looks like it, doesn't it…?" Cardinal's voice is one twisted with rue, his hand lifting to gesture in her direction as she pulls her hand away, nose wrinkling just a bit, "No more snow… I've got a body again…" He can't quite help but caress those words with joy - or is it dread of it being a dream? - as he looks back to his hand, flexing his fingers slowly.

A glance back up, then, and he smirks, "'Course, this is just the calm before the real storm. We've got a lot of work to catch up on, Pey."

The clairvoyant nods, chewing her lower lip thoughtfully. "I've been on Aaron Watch a bit of late — I, uh, got him put in the hospital on suicide watch when I realized he went to Isabella Sheridan for 'professional help' this weekend… I didn't think she was back — I thought she'd disappeared or died or something, so I never fucking warned him, like an idiot. And when I went to get him, he wouldn't come with me so I had him taken in an ambulance. He's still in the hospital… he won't let me see him, but I'm trying to keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't go back to her." She shakes her head.

"And then Cat wants me to spy on Rickham, but I can't until I've met or … you know, used my power and seen him, but I don't wanna mess with anything that you guys have going with Claire on that. I told her I'd try, but I haven't gotten him in my sights yet, anyway, so it's moot, but what do you want me to do on that note?" Peyton glances down, then back up, cheeks pinking a little as she adds, "my loyalty's to you, not Cat."

"Sheridan? Shit, find out where she's working out of at the very least, so we can keep an eye on the crazy bitch…" Cardinal shifts a bit, knees turning in her direction as he does, one arm resting on his knees and the other coming up to rub against his mouth in consideration, "Alright. This is what we'll do there — use Claire to get a lock on Rickham, and as many other people as you can. Don't tell Cat shit without running it through me, though, we might need to censor, especially since Peter's involved with them now too…"

Peyton nods. "I know where her old building is, but I didn't keep an eye on her long since I was keeping one on Aaron. I'll see if I can figure it out. I feel like that's my fault, that he went to her," Peyton says angrily. Then her eyes widen at the mention of Peter. She nods at his directions. "Okay. That I can do. Go to the library, I'm assuming, since Rebel might be listening in on anything — especially with those names mentioned? Once the snow melts that is. I was going to go to you soon, but the snow plows stop too far away — I didn't want to track people or get lost in a snow bank." She makes a face at that.

"I don't know if the library's really salvagable," admits Cardinal, two fingers rubbing against the bridge of his nose in irritation, then it drops down to his knee as he straightens, "I think we're going to need to find a new headquarters somewhere, in case there's another — weather issue." He grimaces, "Not your fault, nobody could get around in that shit."

The puppy whines from behind the gate and Peyton chuckles, getting up to go rescue him, carrying him back to the couch and setting him down, where he instantly clamors into Cardinal's lap, little paws up on the man's chest as Von pants happily and wriggles, wagging his tail. "I can try to help with that, if you need. I mean… I don't have a lot of access to it, but I have money. I can pay rent or whatever if you need, but that'd have a paper trail that we probably don't want."

Her eyes dart around the apartment. "Or I could sell this place and buy something new. If there are any buyers. Who the hell would move here now?"

A soft 'whuff' of a grunt escapes Cardinal as the puppy leaps into his lap and half-climbs his chest, and he grins, hands lifting up to ruffle Von's ears and stroke its back. He glances over as she speaks, considering her words, "Hm. There's ways around a paper trail… we could set up a front business of some sort, or something. And there won't be many buyers, but that's the thing - real estate's gonna be dirt cheap for awhile."

She draws bare feet up onto the couch and tucks them beneath her, nodding. "True. Commercial would probably be cheaper, and we could do a lease rather than purchase outright, anyway, if we had a front business of some sort," Peyton says thoughtfully. "Something… I don't know. Storage, maybe, or one of those fake UPS companies for people to come drop off their mail, I donno. Something easy enough we could actually run it, or would it be something completely fake? I refuse to be a Chinese laundry and actually have to do laundry, I warn you," she says with a grin, tears forgotten now.

"Then who is going to iron my shirts?" Cardinal's hands spread slightly, then drop again to the business of petting Von as the over-excited puppy lashes his tail around like a whip. The man's shoulders shake in a brief chuckle, "I don't know, we should get some of the others in to give opinions, I'm sure Liz might have some ideas."

"Liz, of course," Peyton says with a laugh. "All those uniforms, I'm sure she knows how to iron. I don't think I even knows what an iron looks like." The socialite has never ironed in her life. "Speaking of the library — if you need a place to crash in town and Liz's isn't available, you can always crash here. Von's my only roommate at the moment," she pulls the dog's tail lightly when he begins to gnaw on Cardinal's sleeve. "That goes for anyone in our little club."

"Thanks, Peyton. I mean that…" As the dog tugs at his sleeve, Richard chuckles, gathering up the pup in both hands and leaning forward to drop him lightly onto the floor, "…I can always find a place to stay, though. Hm. I wonder who's running Tuck's place these days…"

It's probably a clinical neuroses of some sort that leads Peyton to offering her apartment as crashpad to anyone in need, rather than generosity. The same loneliness and need for people to surround her that led her to the arms of celebrities in the past. "Well, true, you can curl into a shadow the size of a quarter, I'm sure, so… space isn't so much an issue for you," Peyton says with a half smile. "Tuck? I don't know who that is. What kind of place did he have?"

Von goes to a rug beside the fireplace to flop himself down and begin to chew on a rope-braid just for that purpose.

"An old… friend of mine," Cardinal admits, leaning back on the sofa's cushions and folding both hands over his chest, "He picked up a loan from ol' Danny-boy and runs a little casino and crash-pad sort've a place. Hm. No, probably not a good idea to get that close to Linderman just yet." He brings a hand up, scratching at stubble as he furrows his brow, "Well, we'll get everyone together and figure it out."

"Well. I'm off vacation, so just say when," Peyton says with a grin. "No more goofing back now that I have a boss that can kick my ass, right?" She reaches out to squeeze his hand again, perhaps more to ensure to herself he's still there, still in the flesh. "Can I get you something to eat or drink, now that you've got a stomach to put it in?"

"I," declares Cardinal with a broad grin, "Would fucking love something to eat or drink, I haven't caught dinner yet." A squeeze of his hand to hers, and he pushes himself up to his feet, "I'll help you cook. I don't have any idea how to cook, but, fuck, we'll figure out something."

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