I Don't Wanna Talk


cardinal_icon.gif gina2_icon.gif jessica2_icon.gif

Scene Title I Don't Wanna Talk
Synopsis Cardinal gets a very strange visit from Gina that culminates in a tense conversation with Jessica.
Date December 16, 2010

New York Public Library

Once upon a time, the New York Public Library was one of the most important libraries in America. The system, of which this branch was the center, was among the foremost lending libraries and research libraries in the world.

The bomb changed that, as it changed so much else.

By virtue of distance, the library building was not demolished entirely, like so many others north of it; however, the walls on its northern side have been badly damaged, and their stability is suspect. The interior is a shambles, tattered books strewn about the chambers and halls, many shelves pulled over. Some have even been pulled apart; piles of char in some corners suggest some of their pieces, as well as some of the books, have been used to fuel fires for people who sought shelter here in the past.

In the two years since the bomb, the library — despite being one of the icons of New York City — has been left to decay. The wind whistles through shattered windows, broken by either the blast-front or subsequent vandals, carrying dust and debris in with it. Rats, cats, and stray dogs often seek shelter within its walls, especially on cold nights. Between the fear of radiation and the lack of funds, recovery of the library is on indefinite hiatus; this place, too, has been forgotten.

To the music of the gasoline generators rumbling along, Richard Cardinal is collating data. He's settled in in the 'ops room' where the security monitors and file cabinets are, and if most of the files have been moved to Redbird - well. Did anyone really doubt that he had copies? There's papers strewn all over the table, and he's moving them about and scribbling down notes, cross-referencing and checking back and forth.

What all this means is, he's not really watching the monitors.

Which is exceptionally fortunate for the woman hoping to make something of an entrance. "Hello, Richard," comes the voice behind the man as he works. Sultry and husky, unmistakeable for anyone but… Well, whoever happens to be the dominant personality in charge of the body generally belonging to Niki Sanders.

Unless, of course, it isn't Niki Sanders at all, but one of her sisters. The real ones. Not like the one that lives in her head. And not that Barbara Zimmerman, or Tracy Strauss should know to look for Richard Cardinal in this place. But Niki also wasn't brunette the last time he saw her.

"Did you take any actual time off?" the woman asks with a faint smirk. "Work, work, work. Always work." Her hands are tucked into the pockets of a fashionable red plaid, fur-trimmed hoodie coat, left half zipped over a black tank top. Black skinny jeans are tucked into sensible, if stylish, boots. A floppy black hat sits on her head. Carly Simon may be calling from the 70s at any moment to ask for it back.

At the sound of a step behind him, Cardinal tenses, his hand sliding slightly towards his jacket… but the voice is recognized, and he relaxes. "Niki." He twists slightly in the chair, looking back to the door, a brow raising slightly. Not Barbara. She wouldn't talk to him like that. Definately not Tracy. And neither of them know where the library is anyway, or how to get past the security.

"I tried to take some once," he replies with a smirk of his own, "I got yelled at for 'giving up' because of it. Go figure." He's dressed as he usually is lately - black BDUs, as if he were about to storm a terrorist encampment by night or something ridiculous like that.

Given Richard, he might be.

Niki - maybe - takes the hat off her head and sends it artfully soaring through the air with a flick of her wrist to land askew and atop one of the monitors. "You look like you could use a break." She approaches slowly, a subtle sway to her hips. Likely the same swagger she uses at her day job.

Provided she's still working it.

The chair's twisted around with a creak of its legs on the flooring so that Cardinal can face her more directly - no swivel-chairs here, at least in this room - and he watches the hat fly through the air with a faint snort of amusement. "I don't, apparently, have that leisure. Seems like November was the best I'm getting," he allows, offering her a wry and tired smile, "Don't suppose you brought that— paperwork for me, did you?"

It must be Niki, right? It's clearly not Jessica. She hasn't glared at him yet.

"I don't wanna talk about that," she tells him. There's a crinkle around her eyes to give away the smile before it forms. Hands come out of pockets and tug at the zipper that fastens her coat, then she sheds it all in one fluid motion, leaving it in a small heap on the floor.

That gives Cardinal a moment's pause, tiny lines of bemusement carving a path across his brow and his head cocking slightly to one side in that way he has when something doesn't quite make sense. "Uh… huh," he ventures, carefully, "So, uh. What was it that you wanted to talk about? It's an awful long way out here."

"I don't really want to talk at all," she murmurs. And then she drops down into his lap, causing the chair to creak quietly in protest. "You're a man of action, aren't you, Richard?"

"Wait, then— " Oh. Hey. There's a Niki in his lap. Naturally as she drops down into his lap, one hand lands on her knee, the other arm her hip, out of instinct if nothing else. Ordinarily he would not mind this in the least, but at the moment he's pretty sure there's something weird going on. "Niki?" A questioning tone, brow furrowing as he looks up to her from that dangerously close distance.

"Were you expecting Jessica?" she asks smoothly. Her head dips in, brown hair that smells faintly of cigarettes tickles against cheek and nose right before her lips find the shell of his ear. "Why don't you let me worry about that little Linderman problem? You have so much on your mind already. Just let me… ease your mind."

Now that's a rather tempting proposition. Not only for the very promising distraction of the suddenly-brunette in his lap, whose activities are encouraging his arm to wind further around her and his head to tilt just so as she nuzzles against his ear with soft words and softer breath, but for the fact that he really does have a lot to deal with. "Mhm." A low sound as he shifts a bit, head lifting to try and look at her, "Do you even know what the Linderman problem is, Niki…?"

"He's still drawing in lungfuls of free air. That's certainly a problem." Her finger presses to Cardinal's lips. "I told you I don't want to talk. Not about that. Not about anything." The curve of her lips is familiar as she tosses her hair back in a move long ago perfected. "Talking is boring."

"The problem is what'll be sitting in his chair after he stops brea— " Then there's a finger against his lips, which stops him from breathing for the moment. Or talking, at least, which is probably what she intended. She has, it seems, succeeded suddenly where so many people have failed.

In a rare moment, Richard Cardinal has no idea what to say.

"Sssshhhhhhh." The command is simple enough. "My name," the woman in Cardinal's lap informs him, "is Gina." Then, she leans in to replace the finger against his mouth with her own lips.

Oh, yeah, this isn't good at all on so many levels. The realization that, in fact, Endgame's resident Hulk doesn't have just two personalities but three occurs just before her mouth is on his. So naturally, he should politely decline her advances and request to speak to one of her other personalities.

Yeah, that's why he's bringing his other hand up into her hair and returning that kiss with the promise of tongue if she doesn't pull away soon. Nobody ever said Richard made good decisions.

He should. He really should. — Ask to speak to one of the responsible adults that comprise Niki Sanders' psyche. Gina is glad he doesn't. She's pulling at clothes, and lifting her weight from his lap without breaking the lock of their lips.

The matte-black fabric of his top is easily tugged open, snaps and Velcro tearing asunder without too much trouble; his arms shifting as she does so to pull from it, letting it fall back, leaving him in just a light black t-shirt as he reaches back up to tangle his fingers in her hair and return that kiss heatedly. His other hand slides up her hip, just under the hem of her tank, fingers pressed hot to skin. Bad decisions, when it comes to things like this.

Gina balls up Cardinal's shirt in her fists, tugging it up and finally pulling away for air and to pull the fabric over his head. "See?" She grins. It isn't necessarily kind. "Isn't this better than talking?" Her hands take hold of his belt, fingers wrapping around the leather and tugging him upward sharply, easily.

The shirt's dragged away from him and over his head, the fabric stretching slightly from the awkward angle, and then he exhales a grunt as he's pulled up to his feet all but face to face with her. "Ni-Gina…" His hands lift to her hips as he clears his throat, "Maybe, I mean, this isn't…"

"This isn't what? Don't you and Liz have one of those kind of relationships? What's the problem?" Despite her attempts to sound coy, confident, Gina just doesn't have Jessica's prowess. When he looks into her eyes, he can see the insecurity. "Listen, I know Niki's pushed out a kid, but that doesn't mean that I— That's not a problem, okay? That was like a decade and a half ago."

That last bit actually brings a startled bark of laughter from Richard, one hand coming up to press against her cheek as if to calm her worries. His head tilts down to rest his forehead against hers, and he murmurs somewhat huskily, "I'm hardly worried about your ability to perform and you've got a smoking hot body, Gina… I just… suspect that Jess and Niki might, uh, object…"

"They aren't the boss of me," Gina pouts. "I'm my own woman. I can do what I want with whoever I want." Except possess a decent degree of maturity. "Can't I have my little fling with the boss? It's sexy." She traces an absent pattern over the boss' chest. Lazy hearts, if he pays attention.

"Yeah… I'll give you that," Richard exhales in a breathless little chuckle, the pad of his thumb trailing over her lower lip as he murmurs, "It'll be a little less sexy when Jessica snaps off my limbs in the morning, though, Gina…" Limbs and… other parts.

"She wouldn't do that," Gina contends, dropping a kiss over his thumb. "I mean, I think she likes Liz way too much to, like…" She winces, catching herself sounding like a teenager. Which she kind of is in a way. But Gina's making a concerted effort to sound older. Or at least less like a senior on prom night. "I don't think she would do that, Richard."

"I'm pretty sure…" Stop kissing his thumb! It's distracting! A hard swallow, the apple of his throat rising and falling, "…that she would actually. Christ, as much as I want to push you over that table and fuck you until neither of us can think anymore…" A frustrated sound stirring in his throat, "…it's not just… your body, y'know."

"Oh come on!" Gina's own frustration rises and she reaches into the back pocket of her jeans, pulling out a colourful array of… "I even brought a Magnum." She glances down to his pants, then back up to Cardinal's face. "I'm prepared!"

The solution to the danger of mingling the Ray and Zimmerman bloodlines solved doesn't seem to solve the general problem, however, as much as Cardinal wishes it would. "That's… not the problem," he grits out, swallowing once before drawing back slightly, "Look, can I… talk to Niki or Jess?"

Gina lets out a soft whine from the back of her throat. "They won't let me have control back if I do that." The narrowing of her eyes, and the scowl…

Sanders residence, Jessica speaking.

"Put your shirt back on, Richard." The woman turns around and stalks back the way she came to retrieve her coat from the floor, shoving the condoms back into her pocket with an angry growl. "Gina."

Suddenly, Richard's very glad that he'd just stepped back. "Jessica," he greets in dry tones, turning away and reaching over to grab for his shirt - his back to her as he brings the shirt up, sliding his arms into it and pulling it over his head, "…didn't know about her."

"Yes, well… She thinks she deserves some of her own playtime with Niki out of the picture." Jessica sneers, disgusted with both the women she shares a life with. "I didn't think she'd be stupid enough to try to interact with you." She turns back after tugging the plaid coat back into place, zipping it clear up to her throat if only to symbolise that she has no intention of letting him continue what Gina tried to start.

If it were Niki, there would be an apology of some sort. But Jessica… All Cardinal gets in return for his good decision is a hard glare. Perhaps for how belated that decision was. "We talked to Niklaus. The Deveaux Group. What do you make of it?"

"Good to know that you think so highly of me," Richard replies with a bitter twist of tone, apparently entirely put out by part of that statement, and once the shirt's on he sprawls back in his chair again— obviously not terribly comfortable, but that's nothing he can solve with her here at the moment. One hand lifts up to rub against his face, the black hand-print atop his own like some garish tattoo, the legacy of his near-death and healing.

"Charles was a good man," he says finally, quietly, "Maybe the best the Company had. Not that that's… saying much." A pause, and then he adds, "But I don't know Sabra Dalton at all. Until they decided to 'make formal contact' I'll provisionally consider them a friendly group, but I'm not going to entirely trust them until I find out more. We know where the best of intentions can lead."

"Dalton…" Jessica crosses her arms over her chest and glares past Cardinal, to the monitors. And her hat. "Niki's mother is with them. I thought she was dead." There a bit of accusation in her tone at that, too. Maybe she's just as uncomfortable as he is. For similar reasons.

"She was." There's a beat of silence, and then Cardinal leans back further in the chair, arms folding over his chest as he regards her steadily, "The day that… Arthur's men came for Jonas… Niklaus and I were sent back by Hiro to keep St. Croix from killing Jonas. I pointed out to Charles that to keep the timeline intact, all that was necessary was that everyone believe she was dead."

A faint twitch of a smile, "He was a powerful telepath. It wasn't hard to arrange."

There's a slow nod of Jessica's head. "I didn't mean anything against you," she tells him belatedly. "You're off-limits," she explains. "And she's apparently seeing someone now." Except if she can help it.

"I hear that a lot," Cardinal allows in rather wry tones, his healing-stained hand waving to dismiss the subject, "No harm done, and you don't have to break my legs or anything, so… anyway." A brow lifts slightly, "About that paperwork?" If he's not getting pleasure then he's going to do business, damn it.

"You aren't getting it," Jessica says simply, a smile playing on her lips. "I've got it. It's safe." She watches Cardinal's face calmly. "What the fuck happened to Zarek? He was supposed to be our guy."

Richard's silent for a moment, regarding her steadily. "I saved your mother's life, broke your brother out've jail and kept him alive when - honestly - he should've been killed. I took in your cousin, and've bent over backwards protecting her. You were supposed to be our girl, too."

"I guess that's twice I've been wrong, then, isn't it."

"I didn't say I wasn't sticking to the plan, Richard." Jessica's eyes narrow. If looks could kill… He's lucky hers can't. "But this is something I'm doing my way. Niki appreciates what you've done for her family, but dealing with Linderman is something she needs. You may see it as a part of this whole greater good thing that you're trying to accomplish, but you didn't have your entire life destroyed by that man."

Her jaw sets, but she doesn't make any move to threaten, or to retreat. "Micah would have been fifteen on the fifth. Fifteen." If anyone knows about the injustice of a life being cut so short, it's Jessica Sanders. "You need to trust us. We will deal with Linderman. But not until we have some sort of assurance that you can put someone in power that isn't Gideon d'Sarthe."

"Did I ever say that you couldn't go and shoot the bastard in the head? No, all I said was to get the goddamn piece of paper first," Cardinal replies with a sharp snort of breath, "I promised you that you could. Never had any intent of going back on that. I look after my own, Jessica, whatever the hell you think. And honestly, I don't really care what you think. If you're so flustered about d'Sarthe, maybe you should go talk to Monica about it, because she's just fine with how I'm handling things with that bastard."

He gestures with his stained hand, "At this point, it might be too late. They might've just replaced the will by now, if they noticed it was gone. And if that's the case, then I have no power at all to decide who's going to be in power. Chances are it'll be d'Sarthe. And that'll be on your head. Not mine."

"Don't you dare try to pin this on me, Richard." Now Jessica's posture is threatening. "I was handling my own problems," and Niki's, "long before you were ever in the picture." She snorts. "Who would you give controlling interest in the Group to now anyway? John Logan?"

"Your problems aren't the world's," Cardinal replies bluntly, "And given that you exist for no other purpose than to keep Niki safe, Jess, you'll forgive me if I'm rather dubious as to your motives." He doesn't withdraw from the threat, or show any fear whatsoever. Sure, she could probably break his neck before he went shadowform - but he clearly doesn't think she's going to. A snort, then, "Hardly. Logan keeps sending triad to murder me. He'd be as bad as Daniel - worse, actually, because I doubt he'd be able to handle the empire at all."

Jessica ignores the remark about the reason for her existence. It's a low blow, but not one that hasn't been leveled at her before. "Then who? You couldn't even keep your man alive. What are you going to do now?"

"My second choice," says Cardinal simply, one shoulder lifting in a shrug, "Given that Zarek's been killed, would be Nicole Nichols."

"Nichols?" Jessica asks incredulously. It knocks some of the vinegar out of her expression. Too much shock there to hold the growl. "That bitch is no better than Sakamoto in Vegas. What do you plan to do with her in charge?"

"Given the names on my list that wouldn't start a federal investigation if they showed up on the will, she's the least unpleasant of the lot," replies Cardinal rather firmly, his gaze unwavering on her face, "She's ruthless as hell, ruthless enough to run the organization. And maybe, just maybe, Colette can keep her from being a complete monster. Maybe even fulfill what Kai— what Kain could've."

He grimaces, "I don't plan on doing anything with her, Jess, any more than I planned on doing anything with Zarek in charge. Everyone seems convinced I'm trying to rule the world or something. I'm not. I'd be a horrible choice for guy-in-charge-of-the-world.

"I'm just trying to minimise the damage."

A slow, deep breath.



"Fine. Nichols' name is already on the original will. He's leaving her a sizeable chunk of his fortune. Altering it to give her control of the Group shouldn't be terribly difficult." She doesn't like it, not entirely. But it's not as bad as it could be. "I'll have the will sent via courier to Redbird next week.

"In the meantime, I have documentation that will put Linderman away. Courtesy of Bob Bishop." More or less. Jessica slides her hands into the pockets of her coat. "I'm holding onto that for now. The city needs a chance to recover first. I'll see about dropping that hammer after the new year." She taps her foot almost restlessly against the floor. Jessica almost looks as though she has a headache. "I need you to dig up some information for me. I don't want to go through my usual underworld contacts. I don't want it coming back around to me…"

There's no surprise that the name he mentioned was already on the will. Cardinal nods once to that, although the second part gives him pause. "Still trying to redeem yourself for what you did to Elle, eh, Bob? It figures… and if you want to wait until after the new year, I'd suggest you coordinate with us for when you drop it. That's not the only bombshell that'll be dropping, and that one'd make the others a hell of a lot more potent." A faint smile, "I've always found that bombshells work better when they all drop together. Less time for the snakes to slither into their holes.

"What is it you need?" A questioning look, one brow raising.

"We'll talk when the time comes, then." It's not a concrete promise from Jessica, but it's close. "I need you to see what you can dig up on a man named Kincaid August. If I had to guess, I'd say he's about ten years younger than I am." Which doesn't actually say how old she is, but gives a ballpark figure. "And all I know is that he dresses sharp, really likes his coffee, and the Surly Wench isn't generally his scene." Not much to go on. Which is obviously why she's turning to Richard. "Gina is smitten. So I need to find out what his game is." Jessica just refuses to trust anyone. "Have Liz call me if you turn anything up. Or if you turn nothing up." Which would be worse.

Yes, of course. That would be Cardinal's night. Get all but attacked by a nymphomaniac that he has to say no to, followed by threats and blunt doubting of his ability to do anything, and then asked to look into some information about the person the nympho is sleeping with.

That's pretty much par for the course, though.

"Yeah," he says, rubbing a hand against his face, "Sure. I'll let her know."

"Good." Jessica strides forward and retrieves the hat Gina discarded.

Or Gina retrieves the hat she discarded. A kiss is dropped onto Cardinal's cheek before she settles it back onto her head. "Take a break, Richard," the complicated woman chimes too cheerfully to be Jessica. "I meant it when I said you look like you need it." On that note, she's turning and heading back the way she came in.

A smile far more tired than the one that Richard had earlier is offered to the kiss, and he turns back to the table, dropping an arm to rest on its edge and reaching out to shuffle the papers he was working on back into place. "We can rest when we're done," he says quietly, mostly to himself.

As much as everyone keeps telling him that, nobody really wants to let him.

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