He Followed Me Home


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Scene Title He Followed Me Home
Synopsis Richard Cardinal follows Sarisa Kershner home to question her about a multitude of events, while Sarisa makes good on her information about the Institute and makes Cardinal a dangerous offer…
Date June 16, 2010

Battery Park City

The address itself was familiar, that should have been Richard Cardinal's first clue that he wasn't going to like where this was going.

Twenty-one floors above the streets of Battery Park City, the high-income skyrise apartment building overlooking the Hudson River was in the news just a few months ago, when Claire Bennet's face was plastered across every media outlet from Fox News to Al-Jazeera. The building at 211 North End Avenue is where Richard Cardinal has followed the austere figure of CIA Special Activities Agent Sarisa Kershner, and it's not simply a business call that has her going to the same residential building as Company Agent and CDC liaison Howard Lemay, this is the building that she calls home.

Twenty-one floors up, where the hallways are painted a slate gray and the doors are a rich, dark red Sarisa Kershner's proximity card access key permits her into apartment 12, a luxurious open concept corner apartment with two entire glass walls that look west away from the ruins of Midtown and over the scenic vista of the Hudson.

Reaching up to draw the hairtie from her ponytail and shake blonde hair down to her shoulders, Sarisa presses the door to her apartment closed, unaware that the shadow dogging her heels isn't just her own. Her shoes click-clack across the hardwood floor towards the black leather furnishings where her shark gray suit jacket is draped over the back of a sofa and she steps out of her flat heels.

Nothing here seems out of place, no secret documents laid out on the table that incriminate her as part od some over-arching government conspiracy, unless you count the fact that she reads O Magazine incriminating. Three bottles of wine rest carefully tucked into a nook beside her refrigerator, everything is immaculately clean and the entire apartment is flooded with the warm goldenrod hues of a sunset that dips down hazily into the smog of the Jersey skyline.

Even rotten fruit can look clean on the outside though.

If he'd known which room was hers, he would've beat her here, but this is as much a journey of exploration and discovery as anything else, so the shadow merely dogs her steps, a subtle presence that slips along in her wake, clinging to the edge of the elevator before following her out again to the apartment itself.

As she shrugs out of her jacket, therefore, Richard Cardinal hasn't been here for very long - just long enough, it seems, to find the liquor. The shadowman steps openly into the doorway from the kitchen, holding one of those bottles of wine in a gloved hand and reading the label as he asks in tones as casually as if he were an invited guest, "These for drinking, or just for show? You've got some good taste in wine here…"

They say that punching a shark in the snout is the perfect way tog et it to stop from biting down on you if you're ever the victim of a shark attack. If Sarisa really is as much of a toothy-terror as people keep saying she is, than Richard Cardinal's appearance most certainly comes as a firmly delivered right hook to her nose. At least it looks that way from how she jerks back and away from the noise and lets out an uncharistically femenine yelp.

She's quick for a woman her age — however old she is — and that her hands whip down to her jacket and come up with a flimsy silken scarf is perhaps not the choice of weapons Richard Cardinal may have initially considered her to draw on him. But in that fraction of a second it takes her eyes to inform her brain that Agent Cranston is in her apartment Sarisa's expression shifts from startled to embarrassed.

"What are— " blue eyes are wide, spooked looking.

"— I'll take that as 'for drinking' then," replies Cardinal with a rogue's smile curving to his lips, his eyes hidden by oil-slick hued shades as he turns to step back into the kitchen casually, "I'll pour us a pair of glasses. I'm sure that you won't mind a drink after a long day at work. From what Liz tells me, you people've been pretty fucking busy. You might not be in the field, but the paperwork can't be any better…"

Cabinets open, close, two glasses found within one and set down on the counter before he shamelessly retrieves a corkscrew from her drawer, drawling out in the fashion of a live-in boyfriend or husband, "…so how was your day?"

There's a brief and nervous look over Sarisa's shoulder for just the barest of moments before she settles her attention back on Cardinal. The confusion and uncharacteristic fear begins to drain away from her, replaced by that steely 'charm' that she so more regularly has plastered across her face. Jaw tilting upwards, Sarisa furrows her brows and drapes the filmy scarf over her shoulders, then proceeds to unbutton the sleeves of her powder blue dress shirt and roll the up past her elbows as she walks across the floor towards the island dividing kitchen from living room.

"Business has been business, we had out intelligence officer on Squad Two flake out on us so now we're trying out a former Company agent in the position. We're running out of qualified military personnel so… the General is looking at other alternatives. It's… actually somewhat good timing on your part coming here," Sarisa notes with a purse of her lips as she leans forward over the counter, hands laced together and head bobbing down between her shoulders.

"I have those files you'd asked me about," her blue eyes follow the outline of her muted reflection in the polished marble countertop, "and something else I want you to consider." Those cold blue eyes lift back up to Cardinal and one of her manicured brows arches sharply.

The pale golden wine that was stored within the bottle spills through the air to fill the glass vessels one at a time, splashing and swirling within the bowl, and then the bottle is re-corked and set to one side. Richard lightly slides one of them across the island to her, gathering the other up in his hand before leaning down to rest his arm against the counter, a smile tugging up at one corner of his lips as he listens to her talk.

"I'm rather good with timing," he replies with a hint of private amusement, drawing that glass up in the cage of gloved fingers and gesturing with it towards her, "The files can wait, then. What's your proposal, Special Agent Kershner?"

"You're going to join FRONTLINE," is one of the last things Richard Cardinal expected to hear out of Sarisa's mouth. It's fair game to trade verbal punches to the face, and this one comes with a smirk from Sarisa as she plucks the offered glass up off of the island and cradles it between upturned fingers, the long stem extending down between middle and index. "Not now, but soon… probably before the year is up." One brow raised Sarisa steps to the side and settles down on one of the backless barstoops arranged on this side of the island, then lifts the wine glass up to her lips and takes a sip.

"Have you herad abut something called Project Einherjar?" The question is innocent enough, and Sarisa's half-lidded stare over the top of her wine glass indicates that she's testing Cardinal's access to extremely sensitive information.

It's a rather unexpected statement to hear, certainly, and fair game given his own surprise - both eyebrows leaping upwards, head cocking a few degrees to the side. It's hard to judge his full reaction thanks to his shades, though, lips pursing in a momentary frown before a chuckle tumbles past his lips.

"Alright. You've got my attention…" He tilts the glass back to his lips, wetting it with a careful sip of white before gesturing towards her with the glass, "…if I did, would I admit to it? Pretend I haven't, and enlighten me."

"You're responsible for it, coincidentially…" Sarisa admits with a swirl of her wine glass around in one hand. "The Department of Defense promised a Frontline unit in more cities than it can actually cover, because — as you know — we were under the believe that the Pinehearst Company was going to come up with their miracle drug that could turn our top soldiers into Evolved super soldiers. This has put General Autumn in a bit of a pinched corner, and without the Formula there've been… corners getting cut. I was asked by the Secretary of Defense to come up with an alternative plan."

Taking the pause between words to sip from her glass again, Sarisa's brows furrow together. "The alternative was Einherjar. We have a stable of several hundred Evolved currently imprisoned across the United States, this is including prison inmates who were discovered to be Evolved via blood tests long after they were incarcerated, some who are serving consecutive life sentences since years prior to the bomb…"

Sarisa's head tilts to the side, brows furrowing together. "Japan did it first," she explains, "the Mugai-ryu is Japan's Evolved-Crimes Military-Aid Taskforce that became the primary law-enforcement body in Japan after martial law was declared in 2009 after the Shibuya Incident." Magnes.

"We're going to form a new Frontline squad that will be test run here in New York, composed of Evolved prison inmates who meet the competency requirements and are the least dangerous we can find, and they're going to earn pardons in exchange for government service. I'd like to… quitely get you in to that squad when it forms in the fall."

At the mention of the Shibuya Inident, Cardinal actually winces. "God, Varlane…" A whisper against the edge of his glass, before he takes another sip, leaning back ever so slightly before admitting, "It does… make some sense, although you'll get a shit-load of flak for using convicts as law enforcement officials, you know. There's always the danger of some of them slipping through the psych eval, too. I'm obviously pretty pro-Evolved myself, but even I'm willing to admit that we're more prone to mental illness."

"I'm assuming that I'm going to be coincidentally off 'on assignment' somewhere much of the time? I wouldn't be very valuable to you tied down to a 9-to-5 job as a grunt."

"The American people won't know they're felons," Sarisa explains with a shrug and a sip from her wine glass before setting it down on the island. "We'll be passing a law to protect the identity of Frontline officers for their "safety" so that they can — if they choose — remain anonymous for fear of backlash due to…" she waves her hand in the air, "I don't know, the PR department will come up with something. Regardless, there's a good reason they all wear masks."

Though on the topic of what she wants Cardinal to do, Sarisa furrows her brows and tilts her head to the side. "Actually, I want you to work Intelligence for the team. You've probably noticed by now that Frontline still gives some time for personal matters through Harrison, so it's not like you won't have time for your own personal… whatever it is you do." Cheekily said, Sarisa pushes her almost empty glass across the island with the tips of her fingers.

"I haven't picked out the rest of the team yet, but putting you in a suit of that armor is on my agenda. I want you close to what happens and I want you to keep tabs on the team. I know it's a lot to ask, but I think you could benefit from both the responsibility and the access… as for your criminal record, well— being able to doctor up pardons goes both ways."

"That's awfully presumptive of you, Sarisa," Cardinal observes, swirling the wine around in his glass, "As it happens, I'm just about to open a business of my own… security and investigations, right along my alley. I'll have to consider if your offer's sufficiently tempting to derail all of my own plans so I can be directly under your chain of command."

A pause as the glass comes almost to his lips, which twitch into a smile, "I mean, if you just wanted me under you, you could've just asked." A sip, then, and he leans back to say more seriously, "I'll consider it."

As if not wanting to give her an opportunity to argue the point, he smoothly slides the subject from one to another. "Speaking of psych evaluations and that mythical Formula that you government types would love to get their hands on… did you know that the Institute's been working on Advent?"

Rising up from her stool, Sarisa doesn't answer both Cardinal's proposition or his question. She gives him a fleeting look out of the corner of her eyes before stepping across the living room and opening a pair of glass-paned french doors into a tidy personal office. Out of sight for a few moments, Sarisa comes walking back with a gray folder held in one hand, blue eyes immediately seeking out Cardinal once she comes back into view.

"I don't know if that's exactly what's going on, but I wouldn't be surprised." Sarisa's being careful managing her words as she brings the folder over t lay down on the counter and slides it over to Cardinal. "I don't know a lot about what they're doing except when they cause problems, and even then what I know is filtered. I have may high security clearance but there's a limit to the things even I can still get. What's in that folder is everything I could find on the man who's actually behind the Institute."

Settling back down on her stool, Sarisa reaches out and flips to folder open, revealing a stack of documents with a paperclipped photograph on top detailing a weathered looking old man with a long face, short-cropped black hair peppered gray and large ears. "That is Simon Broome, the founder of the Commonwealth Institute, you might've heard of his father Otto Brum, he was a member of the Thule Society during World War II and one of the chief researchers on Project Icarus, the ubermensch program that Kazimir Volken was a part of back in the 1940s…"

Folding her hands in her lap, Sarisa's brows furrow and her eyes dip down to the marble counter top. "Broome suffered a stroke a few years back, that picture was taken prior. He's the one that brought Jean Luis on board and is the real brain behind everything. All of his public records are there in that file."

"You're not living up to your original claims of being the woman behind the vice-president and half the black ops in the country, you know, Sarisa… of course, I suppose things change…" Cardinal reaches out to twist the folder around so he can see the photograph, his eyes narrowing just a touch. "The Thule Society… Icarus? I wonder if he knew Monroe. If I'm not misremembering, that immortal asshole used to run with that crowd at the time."

Brows furrowing, Sarisa tilts her head to the side and watches Cardinal carefully. "You haven't seen…" sliding off of her stool, Sarisa makes a motion for Cardinal to follow her. "I'm sorry, I thought you might've already seen the files on Project Icarus. I have everything on my personal file from when I was researching the Pinehearst Company. I have a photograph that was taken in 1944 of Volken's entire research team, I think you might be interested in some of the names on it…"

Stepping away from the island, Sarisa arches one brow then turns slowly and seems to side-step around Cardinal's assessment of what she does and who she knows. Quietly, she pads into her office and starts rummaging around thorugh filing cabinets, clearly expecting Cardinal to follow her in.

"If I've seen it, I don't remember," admits Cardinal stepping around the island and out to head towards the office, craning his neck to look around casually once he's inside, "I'm not Chesterfield, though, my memory isn't infalliable."

Glancing over her shoulder at Cardinal's entrance, Sarisa retrieves a black and white photograph from the stack of documents she has, walking over to an open table space in the sun-lit office and spinning it around with her fingers for Cardinal to view. It's a group shot of men seated around a table, old and weathered. That none of the faces except Adam Monroe's are familiar should be expected of an image from the era of the second World War, but the names listed on post-it notes stuck to the photograph aren't unfamiliar at all, for the barest of moments Richard Cardinal is presented with the world as Edward Ray must see it.

"Ottom Brum, Kazimir Volken, Adam Monroe, Heinrich Wagner, Adolf Meier, Rudolph Zimmerman…" each name comes with a pointed finger towards their faces. "They were where this all began, and this man…" Sarisa motions to someone with only a question-mark written on the post-it note beneath his face, "was a member of the US government's intelligence community long before either the CIA or FBI were founded. He was an OSS agent tasked with infiltrating the Nazi ubermensch project and retrieving data… it's how the government got a hold of the research material in the fifties."

Sarisa's brows furrow, and her blue eyes drift up to Cardinal. "His name was Marcus Raith, you might think that's a funny coincidence."

A gloved hand reaches down to steady the picture upon the table, Cardinal's brow furrowing in fine lines as he studies the faces and reads the notes naming people. "So that's what Kazimir looked like…" The tip of one finger touches that face, pausing before touching to Zimmerman's, "…I presume he's related to Lewis?" Wait. Raith?

Dark eyes flicker up over the edge of his shades, "Jensen's grandfather, or an uncle or something?"

"Grandfather, as far as we're aware. I actually didn't even know his family had an OSS connection when I worked with him in the Royals…" Sarisa lifts her hand from the photograph, arms crossing over her chest. "I still don't even know how Marcus died, except that he never came back from Germany after the war, his files are locked so securely that I can't get at them. Whatever it was he was working on it was a higher security clearance that Project Icarus, and that it's still locked means that it's pertinent to national security. It… makes me nervous."

Rolling her tongue across her teeth, arisa turns to look at her computer, then looks back to Cardinal. "Rudolph is Jonas' father, Lewis was an alias he used after retirement from the Company. I did some digging too, about Zimmerman and his connection to the Institute, and I discovered something interesting. Reference to a Company file about an individual named Niklaus Zimmerman, apparently he's Jonas' son."

Sarisa shakes her head slowly. "I couldn't find out anything else though, strictly lock and key stuff that the Company's sitting on. I don't know if he's still alive or even what he looks like, except that he's not an American-born citizen."

"A higher clearance than Icarus?" Cardinal exhales a long, low whistle at that, gaze dropping back to the photograph, "This was top, top secret… fuck, I didn't even think there was any higher clearance than that…"

The tip of Cardinal's finger taps against Zimmerman's picture, "Jonas? Ah. And Niklaus… mm… what front's the Company using these days? Primatech's out of order, I know, but they're still operating. They've got to have a new one."

"They don't really have one," Sarisa admits with a shake of her head. "Biomere, the pharmacological company based out of Manhattan's still operating, but even then there's no active duty agents in the halls. They went into deep cover after the Bronx facility got turned into a parking lot and they also lost a great deal of clout with the US Government after that attack. The countless efofrts against the Company weakened their footing with the Department of Justice and… unfortunately, is what allowed the Institute to come about."

Furrowing her brows, Sarisa looks a bit disconcerted. "If you're looking for information, your best bet is Veronica Sawyer, our mutual aquaintance from Apollo. However, the Comapny is under a great deal of pressure from DHS right now and every agent is being scrutinized. I know that the Department of Justice has been considering pulling the plug on them all together… I just— I'm not sure how far along that is."

"Of course. They wouldn't need the Company anymore, since they have the Institute now…" A sigh whispers past Cardinal's lips as he straightens from his slight bend over the table, fixing her with a steady gaze through the shades, "…they're stirring up a lot of shit, Sarisa. They've been snatching up Ferrymen left and right, they caused that snow-storm, we're pretty certain that they're the ones that caused that prophetic flash… there's going to be a reaction eventually, and it's not going to be fun for anybody. You don't think Rebel and his crew are just sitting around on their hands, do you?"

"I knew about the storm, not about the flash…" Sarisa's lips press together tightly, glancing over and past Cardinal's shoulder for a moment before looking bakc to him. "The government doesn't think it can trust the Company to control the Evolved situation any longer, and they're in a very precarious place right now. If they have any more screw ups, especially in light of what happened with Akado Ichihara, then they're going to fall and hard."

Rubbing one hand over her chin, Sarisa shakes her head slowly. "Trust me, Richard, when that pillar falls I am going to be very glad I'm not standing in the growing shadow waiting to be crushed. The Institute is largely out of my hands, in terms of dictation. President Petrelli's given Mitchell carte blanche to run it how he sees fit, and Mitchell just cares about results, and Broome… well, you can see how this goes."

Stepping backwards so she can sink down into her chair, Sarisa rakes her fingers through her hair and scrapes her nails over her scalp. "I'm working behind the scenes to try and finish the plan I've been taking care of, but I'm telling you Richard there's going to be more casualties before everything is said and done and we get rid of Petrelli. But right now, right here, I need you to be able to trust me."

"An Institute retrieval team picked up Gillian Childs, and Joseph Sumter disappeared at just about the same time… you don't need to be a genius to put two and two together," Cardinal replies dryly, reaching out to pick up the photograph off the table again, considering it as he murmurs quietly, "I'm not the biggest fan of the Company, but they're useful every once and…"

A look back up as he cuts himself off, lips pursing in a fine line, "You told me Mitchell was under control, Sarisa."

Rolling her tongue over the inside of her cheek, Sarisa arches a brow slowly. "Under control and still in power are two very different things. He listens to me and my advice, but he's still the Vice President and still given authority by Nathan. I've stayed his hand more than once, and I've taken very specific liberties with instructions he's given me, but yuo have to remember that he's the second most powerful man in the country, and he's the one that hasn't been generating all of the negative publicity over Petrelli's term."

Shifting in her seat, Sarisa folds her palm closed and rests her chin on her closed fist. "When what I'm planning is finished, Mitchell won't be a problem, but in the interim… I can't make any promises. He will be under control, just… it's not as thourough as you might like."

"Obviously not," Cardinal says in icy-cold tones, the photograph folded carefully in his hand and slid into his jacket without so much as a request for permission, "I don't suppose you're willing to share any of the details of this little plan of yours, Sarisa? It'd be unfortunate if my own… extracurricular activities happened to interfere with it."

"I wouldn't worry about it," Sarisa offers off-handedly to Cardinal, "if it looks like we're doing the same thing, I'll let you know. But I have my doubts that our plans overlap at all." Glancing askance to her computer, Sarisa's brows furrow, lips downturn into a frown and she looks back to Cardinal quietly. "Keep my offer in mind, and try to keep it close to your chest for now. If I hear the word Einherjar in the media, I'll know where it came from."

"I don't talk to the media…" A chuckle stirs past Cardinal's lips at that, "…I'm not one of Rebel's little revolutionaries. I prefer to keep things where they belong… in the shadows. We shouldn't be worrying the sheep about this business just yet, I don't think." He slants a look to the computer, asking, "Is the Agency collecting flashes too?"

"Not any department I'm in contact with, though I do know that a do not investigate order was passed down from DHS to the Company. That probably means the Institute is investigating it and collecting the acounts of what happened, and if they're responsible for it happening in the first place, then that means they're probably just collecting test data. There's no way to tell if that was intentional or an accident… but whatever's going on it's being held close to the chest."

Rubbing one hand at her forehead, Sarisa looks down to her lap, then up to Cardinal. "I was in DC attending a security council conference when the flash happened, so I don't have anything to offer, but…" her eyes narrow, "what did you see?"

"It's more than just test data," Cardinal says quietly, seriously, "There's a very real possibility that they can use it to manipulate events to their liking… it's like… a map of the future. Every flash is a signpost pointing the way, that makes it easier to pick which road to take, especially if you have the right abilities to analyse it…"

He pauses, then, looking back to her and saying simply and bluntly, "Nothing that's going to happen now, so it doesn't matter. You know the general idea of what happens on that day, Sarisa, or I assume you do. No good can come of any of it."

Only, a part of him reminds him, he seemed to think otherwise in that future…

Covering her mouth with her hand, Sarisa's brows crease together and her head tilts down into a nod. "Then we'd best hope that when we see the road signs coming up, we know that we can trust whoever's sitting at the steering wheel to take the right direction…" her blue eyes cast askance to look at the sun setting down behind the smoggy skyline of Jersey City, and Sarisa looks older in the sunlight, wrinkles more obvious to be seen on her brow and beneath her eyes, the weight of her work dragging her face down just as it downturns the corners of her mouth to a frown.

"Was there anything else, Richard?" the blonde asks as she slowly looks back to where Cardinal was standing.

"Then we'd better figure out a way to deal with the Institute, Sarisa, because they have the navigator… and pretty soon, they might have a map," Cardinal says, watching her for a moment in profile before smiling ever so faintly, "I know you want me to trust you, but sooner or later, you're going to need to trust me. Whatever your plan is, there's no way you're going to be able to pull it off on your own. One of these days…"

As she turns to look back, there's nothing there, shadows mingled with the natural shadows of the office, "…you're going to need to play my game."

Sitting up straight in her seat, Sarisa looks around with wide eyes when she discovers Richard gone just as fast as he has appeared. There's a tension in her as she stands up straight and looks around, wide eyes and unsettled. Turning slowly, Sarisa's brows furrow and her fingers curl against her palms, blue eyes moving to the bedroom door that creeps open once silence permeates thorugh the apartment.

"Is he gone?" comes the husky Australian accent from the raven-haired woman that steps out of Sarisa's bedroom, adjusting the lapels of her suit jacket as she does. Sarisa breathes out a heavy sigh and shakes her head, walking on stockinged feet over to the open doors of her office, nodding her head slowly as she looks up at the equally tall brunette, her features more hawkish than Sarisa's.

"You're lucky he didn't see you here…" Sarisa implies with a furrow of her brows, turning to look out over the sunset cityscape beyond the windows of her apartment. The brunette cracks a smile and rolls her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest as she comes to stand side by side with Sarisa, offering an askance look to the blonde.

"Why's that?" She asks, thoughtfully, but Sarisa seems unwilling to give a response, only shakes her head and lifts a hand up to pinch fingers at the bridge of her nose.

"Call Sylar, we have somewhere to be."


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