I Find Your Lack Of Faith Disturbing


cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title I Find Your Lack Of Faith Disturbing
Synopsis I'll follow you if you'll follow me. Circular logic perhaps, but it does work.
Date Dec 15, 2010

Elisabeth's Apartment, Dorchester Towers

She's not expecting company. That much is clear by the way she's dressed — the oldest pair of sweatpants in her dresser and one of Richard's own left behind T-shirts are all she's wearing. Her hair's loose and she's sitting at the dining room table with a bowl of something or another to one side. It looks like she may have been reading the book that's propped under her arm before she fell asleep with her chin propped on her fist. The kitchen and dining room lights are both on, but nothing else in the apartment is.

The apartment itself is redolent with the scent of … it might be homemade chicken soup? Maybe? A lift of the lid from the pot on the stove would confirm it. It's still simmering on low heat while the blonde dozes lightly. She jerks awake when her chin falls off the propped hand, startled blue eyes flying open. "Shit," she murmurs. "Okay, Harrison… get your ass off this chair." It's an order that she's giving herself there, and she moves to pick up her bowl to take it to the sink, leaving the book to flutter closed.

A shadow crawls beneath the door and up the inner side of it, and Richard Cardinal steps free of it; pausing just in front of the kitchen's door as he realizes that she's actually home. He was just here to pick up some dinner. This is a little awkward. He's dressed in black BDUs and his usual jacket. After a moment of just standing there, he clears his throat.

"Hey, Liz."

Oh! Bloody hell! Elisabeth jumps. It's been a while since he did that! Whirling around to see him standing there, her expression eases from surprise to a faint smile. "Hey yourself," she replies quietly. "I … " Yeah. Awkward? A little. "Sorry — I …. hadn't planned on staying, if you want to crash for the night," she offers, shifting her weight a little. It's a bit of a lie — she's wiped out enough that all she really wants to do is sleep. But she'll clear out to give him space. Forget about the idea that it's her apartment! "Let me just put the rest of this in …. you want some soup? I just made it today," she asks, her voice still husky. Apparently she's coming down with something again.

"I was just… don't let me get in the way, or anything," Cardinal rubs a hand against the side and back of his neck, hesitating, "Um. Some soup sounds good. Are— uh. How're you feeling? You don't sound too good."

For a moment, Elisabeth stands there and drinks in the sight of him. And then she starts to laugh. "Go sit," she tells him softly. "You're not in the way. I hadn't even started to put it away for you yet." And yes… she's been making a point of putting together soups and such for him.

She leaves her own bowl in the sink and moves around to pull another bowl and spoon out, ladling steaming soup into the bowl until it's full. Fresh and warm with a little bit of spice to it to ward off the frigid cold, it's chock full of meat, noodles, and even some vegetables. She brings it to the table, setting it down there for him, gesturing him to sit and eat. "I'm okay. Can't quite seem to reboot my immune system. Can't seem to reboot my ability either, so… maybe if I keep working at it, things will sort out." She shrugs a little.

"You're not looking so hot yourself, handsome… you catching something too, or just not sleeping?" Liz's tone is gentle.

Richard hesitates there in the kitchen's doorway, and then with a shake of his head he walks the rest of the way inside, heading along over to the table. He drops himself down to sit in the chair, shrugging the jacket off his shoulders and stretching both arms back briefly before settling back in. "You seen a doctor?"

As the soup's set down, he stirs it a bit, glancing up to her with eyebrows raised a little, "It's been an awful long time for all've this."

They haven't precisely talked about what happened. Trailing a hand across his shoulder as if she can't quite help herself, Elisabeth smiles ruefully. "Yeah… I've seen a doctor." She walks back toward the kitchen to start portioning the rest of the pot's contents into the smaller bowls she's been freezing mostly for him, though she's taken some for herself as well. "It's what happens when you pull a power stunt that requires augmentation without Gillian, love. The think with a little bit of time and what amounts to physical therapy for the brain, I should regain my ability."

As an afterthought, she says, "Don't burn your mouth. It's hot."

"Have you thought about seeing Constantine?" A lift of both Cardinal's brows, "Maybe he could help heal whatever… I mean, neural connections or whatever." He's just grasping at straws, though, his head shaking a little as she walks back into the kitchen. He pauses at the warning, blowing on the spoonful of soup.

Well, now there's something she didn't think of and Liz pauses, considering. "I hadn't, actually. I'll kick that one around," she tells him. It doesn't take long to put the soup in bowls to cool, and then she comes back in with a mug of tea for herself and a beer for him in one hand and a plate of rolls in the other. She slides into the chair across from him. "Thanks for the suggestion," she says, setting the bread plate and the beer in front of him as well. "I'm glad you actually came by," she admits softly. "Makes me feel better to know you're eating."

A faint snort of breath answers the last, and Cardinal takes a spoonful of soup into his mouth. After swallowing, he gestures with the spoon towards her, "You don't need to worry about me. I'm just fine. It's not like I need…" He cuts himself off, glancing away, "Sorry. Didn't mean to be so— I'm fine. Really."

For a moment, Elisabeth is quiet. They're dancing around one another, treading on eggshells. "I know," she says. "You don't need anything. Not from me, not from anyone." Tilting her head, Elisabeth says softly, "I don't do it because you need it. I do it because … I want to. I like to. It's not a ploy. It's not a trick. It's not….. hell, I don't know what you might think it is right now. But you won't let me help any other way, so… if all I can do is feed you, love, then I'll feed you." She shrugs with a bit of a smile. "It's not the first time it was the only thing I could do." Like when he first got the formula. Reaching out to put a hand on the arm that's not using the spoon, Liz says simply, "Just eat and enjoy it. And if you feel so inclined, you're welcome to stay here instead of the library. No strings, Richard."

"I know, I know…" Cardinal's hand drops down to the table's edge, and he leans back with a frustrated expression on his face, "…I just… I don't need people to be worrying about me like I'm some fragile little flower. It's the opposite of helping, and nobody seems to fucking understand that." He doesn't pull away from the hand on his arm, though, a faint smile twitching to his lips as he looks over, "I don't want help, Liz."

Elisabeth chuckles. "Well, since I never thought you were a fragile flower of any kind, Mister I-Can-Eat-A-Nuke-And-Survive…. " Her tone holds a hint of teasing though it's not as much as she might have given were she not weary. "Feel free to raid the fridge whenever." Too much like her mother and grandmother in some ways. He's not likely to change that part. She moves to climb to her feet, her hand squeezing his arm lightly before releasing it as she leans down to kiss his temple. "You know where to find me if you do need me." She smiles faintly. "And you know the door's always open. Can't promise I haven't stolen your pillow, but I'll give it up if you decide you wanna share some space. If not, I'd be much obliged if you'd toss the extra bowls that I left cooling onto the counter into the freezer before you slip out." May as well put him to work a little bit, right?

"I'll clean up after myself," says Cardinal in wry tones, leaning back forward to stir the spoon through the soup, "You know I will. Anyway. How's, uh. How're things going?" With her. With Redbird, with FRONTLINE, with Endgame - who knows what he's asking. Possibly all of them.

There's a tilt of her head. Elisabeth considers and says, "Well…. I have an officer in FRONTLINE asking all the right questions. I may ultimately bring her on board for off the books action. She comes with her own suit of armor, so hey… the more, the merrier, yeah?" She winks at him. "Things are going all right. Aric's helping Peyton with the business right now — I can't handle both that and the Frontline stuff. I have a meeting coming up with Donovan, though. He called Redbird for personal security." There's a moment to consider. "And aside from catching every cold around, I guess I'm doing okay, really. I saw Cat recently…."

Elisabeth trails off. "She mentioned what you were up to with her, so … I think that's a good call." For what her opinion is worth to him. "Alia's checking into a possible mole at Redbird who may have been sent by Warren. Who, I'm assuming you got the message about him, right?" She rolls her eyes. "Fucker's playing with shit he's got no clue about." Shaking her head, she asks, "Did you ever find out what was in the box, now that I'm thinking about that?"

"The White Rabbit…" Cardinal closes his eyes for a moment, "…not sure what Warren's playing at." A bite of soup, and he swallows, the edge of the spoon tapping agains the bowl's edge for a few moments as he looks down at it. "Yeah," he says finally, glancing over to her, "I did. What was inside wasn't… the important part, though. The box was a message."

Elisabeth pauses for a moment, the whole White Rabbit thing over her head. "I'm not sure what you mean by the box was the message?" She moves to sit back down next to him. If only because she doesn't want to hover over him while he tries to eat. Elisabeth looks intensely curious about the box, though — it's been something she wonders about since he mentioned it.

"There was… awhile back," Cardinal says, starting over in mid-sentence with a frustrated shake of his head, "Kaylee was doing something— I think checking people for signs've Rupert's influence. They'd come in contact with Edward, and he left a message that he knew she'd find."

He drops the spoon in the soup, leaning back in the chair, "…part've it was for me, to point out that if I followed the future Edward's plan— well. Anyway. Apparently, there was another part. Kaylee was told that someone was going to come to her bearing a… blue box. Like that one."

Richard's head falls back, gaze on the ceiling as he says quietly, "Her brother."

Yeah… we all know what kinds of awfulness will come of following future Edward's plans. But the information about the box is new, and it hits Elisabeth probably about like it hit Richard at first. "What? Wait….. what?" she demands in confusion. "I thought…. isn't Warren…. Edward Ray's your father?"

Incredulous, Elisabeth blurts out, "Well, that would fucking well explain your records!"

"I'm not believing anything," says Cardinal flatly, "Until I get a DNA test back."

A sigh, then, as he admits, "It does— make some sense. And the only proof we had about Warren was Harper's word. I really need Delia to wake up so that I can go talk to him… and punch him in the fucking face." He covers his face, rubbing roughly.

"Well, we know better now than to trust that — but it does explain why Warren sent his pet technopath to hang around Redbird and try to get into our stuff. Along with maybe why your background files are more classified than fucking Apollo." Elisabeth shoves a hand into her hair, resting her palm atop her head.

"Well, Delia paid another visit to Cat insisting that Cat needed to find her body. So I told her to let Delia know that Brian's with her body — we have one sleeping there with her at all times after she apparently told him that he was some kind of beacon in the dreamscape. I didn't tell her it's at Redbird, but… I'm not sure it matters. Between Brian being there and Jaiden being there, she will, I hope, be able to find her way back." Elisabeth reaches out and gently lifts one of his hands from his face, peering in there at him. "I'll get you a bat if you wanna hit him with something harder."

As she pries his fingers upwards, Cardinal peers back at her. "No, he's already got head trauma. It'd probably just kill him." A pause. "Might not be the worst idea, all things considered."

She has to giggle softly. I mean… hey, what else can you do. "Now there's the Richard I love," Liz retorts. "Always looking for the positive spin."

Those hands drop back down to the table's edge, and Cardinal sighs, his head falling forward and shaking slowly from side to side. "Just… one thing after another. It never ends."

"Nope," Elisabeth replies softly. "You told me that a long time ago, lover. And now I'll tell you the same thing you told me back then…. you have the right to say 'I've done enough' and walk away. You've given more than any person should be asked to give. Don't keep fighting just because you think you have to, that you have no choice. Okay?"

"I do have a choice, Liz…" Richard stirs the spoon around within the bowl, then he lets it drop, "…that was what was in the box. A choice. A piece of string and a bullet." A look back over, his expression grim, "Start over or give up."

Elisabeth pales. "Oh God," she murmurs, horrified. She bites her lip. "Well… " she pauses. "We always knew Edward was a bastard." With a sigh, she props her chin on the table next to him. She doesn't quite know what to say to make things any better for him. "Starting over is what we're already working on anyway. Going about everything in almost exactly the opposite way that you would have done it six months ago. When one is fighting himself, the only way to handle the situation is to not be predictable." She smiles a little. "Hence why I think you're off to a fine start. Infodumping is a wonderful thing."

"'It pays to be obvious'," Cardinal quotes, "'Especially if you have a reputation for subtlety'." A glance away from her, taking in the room as he admits, "And I plan to be very, very unsubtle in the days to come, Liz. I don't have any idea what it's going to come to, but… that's just the risk I'll have to take."

"It's what starting over's all about, babe," Elisabeth says quietly. "Taking the chance on the unknown because the known is too horrible to be borne." She smiles just a little, not sure if he wants the reassurance but offering it. "You told me a long time ago I might not like where you led me. So far, the only place you've taken me that I haven't liked too much was to a meeting where you told me if I wanted to run it all myself to have at it. We're far stronger together." There's a glint in those blue eyes. "And he fucked with the wrong set of people when he popped into Redbird itself and started fucking with what's ours. He's already fucked up his own future. Letting him fuck ours isn't going to happen."

"We started out to move a mountain," admits Richard, "Nobody said we'd know what was on the other side." He smiles, tightly, grimly, "He showed me one thing, though. I'm not cut out to be a leader, Liz."

Elisabeth blinks. She could make many responses to that, but instead of jumping instinctively into a position to argue with him she asks, "So…. what do you have in mind instead?"

Cardinal shrugs one shoulder, admitting, "I'm a tactician, a planner, but I'm not a leader. Maybe I shouldn't be. That was what lost us Kain, and what… well." He grimaces, "You're a leader, Liz."

Elisabeth mmms softly. "Well, I may be able to lead, but I can't plan. Which is why we're stronger together. I can't wrap my head around the long run. I can plot tactics for a battlefield, which is what makes me a strong commander. But even the best commanders don't work alone." She smiles a little. "He's forgotten what made him strong enough to help beat the Vanguard in the first place — it wasn't him. It was all of us playing to our talents."

She reaches out to put a hand on his arm, those blue eyes skimming his face. "He's forgotten where he came from," Elisabeth tells him quietly. "And he's forgotten exactly how powerful you and I can be together. It's been too many years and in his future, he alienated the very people we're going to rally."

"I'm not going to tell you everything," Cardinal tells her, warns her, with a serious look as he lays her hand on his arm, "Not because I think you'd disagree, but just… plausible deniability. Some of the plans I'm working on are risky and messy and if they go wrong, I want you and the others to be free to keep on going without getting caught in it. And I don't want you protecting me."

"Fair enough," Elisabeth tells him quietly. "In return, you have to understand that I've got my own gambits going. I'll keep you informed as much as I can because you'll need to know about them in order to plan around them. But if you disagree with them, you don't get to go stalking out. We're going to need to go back to working as a team, love. We keep fucking it all up when we're pulling in opposite directions."

"We were working as a team?" A wry response, one brow lifting, "When was that at…? As far as I can tell, this has never really — worked, well. Endgame, I mean. Too many individuals and not enough team. You think you can change that? Because I sure as hell can't."

Elisabeth laughs. "You and I've worked quite well as a team. And yes… I think I can pull the rest of the group into line. As long as you and I are on the same page, they're going to follow suit. We just need a united front. I'm learning from dealing with FRONTLINE — long as you look like you know what the fuck you're doing, they will follow. With the right application of information and bluffing like we've been doing, it'll be fine."

"I always know what I'm doing," Cardinal claims with a snort, "I may not always know what it'll do but I know what I'm doing." He smirks just a little, his head shaking, "Maybe they need some sort've team exercise or — fuck if I know. Do what you can."

"Mmmm-hmm…. what a wonderful new smell you've discovered." Elisabeth nudges him lightly, teasing.

"Smell?" Cardinal gives her an odd look, "What?"

Shaking her head, Elisabeth retorts, "Yeah — you always know what you're doing, so you'll pitch us down a garbage chute without a clue where it goes." She winks. "Although to be fair…. that was definitely the leader's bad move, right? Let's hope I don't run about doing that shit too often."

"Hey." A smirk, and Cardinal points, "At least I usually have an R2-D2 around somewhere, don't I?"

"Dear God, don't say that too loud," Liz admonishes with a chuckle. "Sentient fucking flying robots in FRONTLINE, mister!" She moves to stand up, leaning over to kiss him softly on the temple as she does. "Eat."

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