If I Can't Do Anything Else I'll Feed You


cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title If I Can't Do Anything Else, I'll Feed You
Synopsis Cardinal stops in to Liz's place, and the officer can't seem to help any other way so she makes sure that he's got food with him.
Date Jun 20, 2009

Elisabeth's Apartment

The morning brings sounds with it to the policewoman's sleepy ears. The faint complaints of pigeons cooing on the building's ledges, the rumble of traffic going past the apartment building. The distant siren of a police car heading somewhere. The sound of clattering pans in the kitchen.

Wait, wait— what was that last one again?

In spite of being on leave the past couple of days, Elisabeth has been far from idle. She's been wading through police reports, and she was up relatively late last night trying to make heads or tails of a couple of inconsistencies in the ones she has. The sounds that rouse her are all normal… except that last one, which brings her blue eyes snapping open with a burst of adrenaline. She doesn't freak this time, though, because a couple of people do have keys at this point — she wouldn't put it past Alec to keep a set, and she knows Norton Trask has a set. Shoving herself out of bed, she doesn't bother to grab anything to cover her sleeping attire; it's not as if a pair of shorts and a spaghetti-strapped tanktop are in any way immodest. Padding out of her bedroom and shoving her blonde hair out of her face, she does still move cautiously, her heart beating rather quickly in spite of the logic that says 'anyone who wants to HURT you isn't going to play with the pans in the kitchen!' When she rounds the corner into the kitchen, she pauses to merely watch.

Richard never got a set of keys— but then, he didn't need them, now did he? Things have changed, though, and there's a break-in bag surreptitiously resting beside the front door if she's perceptive enough to notice it.

It's him, of course, in a fedora, trenchcoat that's as grimy as anything. At the moment, he's trying to make breakfast. The operative word is 'trying' because he's only using one hand as he tries to dig a frying pan out of the cupboard. Just as she rounds the corner, he tugs a little too hard, and half the cabinet comes clattering out onto the counter and floor as he dances back, "MOTHERFUCKER— "

There is a compression of her lips as Elisabeth holds in a number of words. "Good morning," she says quietly, her blue eyes taking in his state. She hides concern behind the clear relief that he's in one piece. "Want some help with that?" is all she asks of him, leaning a shoulder against the wall. "You look like you could use a shower and a good meal, handsome."

Uh oh. "Oh, uh, hey," Cardinal looks back over with a bit of a wan smile, his face darkened with sweat and sea-salt, "Yeah, probably, but I only got enough time to stop for one, and I was planning on the meal. Didn't wake you up, did I?" His right hand (hidden under the sleeve) starts to lift, pauses, then the left raises instead to pull the hat from his head, fingers scritching back through his mussed and dirty hair.

"No," Liz says, her lie transparent as glass. She pushes off the wall and walks toward him, reaching out to take his nasty hat with two fingers. She knows, thanks to Abby, what he's hiding in the sleeve, but she doesn't make an issue of it. "Go get in the shower," she tells him softly. "By the time you get out, I'll have food ready." Her other hand reaches up to lightly stroke his cheek. "It'll save you some time and you'll get both."

"I really can't stay, Liz." Cardinal offers her a wistful half-smile, "Not with — well, with that fuckin' insanity going on over the river right now. My boat's waiting, I've got some — people to check on, make sure they're okay. Then I'm going to make Fedor answer a few fuckin' questions." A dark, sharp note to his voice as he looks to the oven, "Then I've got other shit I need to do. I don't have a lot've spare time right now."

"You stopped off to grab a meal — which means you were planning on a good twenty minutes, Richard," Liz replies practically, her tone even. "Even with only one hand, I'm pretty sure you can get in and out of the shower in less than that, and if you can't…. then I guess I'll just have to strip you down myself so you can take the 5-minute shower. By the time you're done, I'll have food ready to go." With a pat of his cheek, she moves away from him to start pulling out food — she won't hold him up if timing is that urgent. Besides… doing that at least makes her feel like she's doing something to help him. He won't let her do anything else.

"I'm just going to get messy again," Cardinal replies stubbornly, "You ever waded through a fuckin' smokescreen before? I'll be twice as grimy by the time I get through, it's — alright, seriously." He manages a tired smile, "I'll rest when I've got stuff contained. I'm just eatin' because I need to put some blood back in my veins. What's the situation over here?"

She leaves it at that — if he doesn't want to bother, that's his call. "Situation here's about as fucked as it gets. The Company agent that I was working with damn near got both our heads shot off the other day. We're still looking for who might have the other half of the formula, and I'm running down a couple of leads on that right now — Victoria Pratt has corroborated some information that I already had. I have information on a fucking cop killing that I can't turn over to the cops because it identifies and implicates both Future-traveler Edward Ray and Tyler Case — which of course pisses me off beyond belief because Myron was a good fucking cop. And now I've got assholes bombing Staten Island — which is another situation my hands are tied on. So….. all in all, I guess it's going as usual." She says all of this as she pulls out rolls, sandwich meat, a bowl of chicken tortellini alfredo that she made for herself last night — which she pops immediately into the microwave to heat up for two minutes
without asking — and a meatloaf, which appears to be about to make an appearance in a sandwich as well.

"Tyler's… a pawn," Cardinal says in quiet tones, leaning against the counter and folding both arms over his chest, the stump of his right hand hidden in the crook of his arm, "I feel sorry for the poor sonuvabitch — they wiped his memory when they took him, Liz. Not just a bit — all of it. Totally wiped clean. Any wonder he's following the first guy that was willing to give him direction and get him out've that fucking hole?" A sigh of breath, eyes closing, "They won't let you do shit about Staten. It was sanctioned. Give it a few weeks, and FRONTLINE'll be following up, I guaran-fucking-tee it."

Elisabeth's head pops up and she stares at him. "Oh perfect. So he's running around taking people's powers away with no clue what he can actually fucking do??" she demands. She's distracted by the beep-beep of the microwave, and she pulls the bowl down from there, grabbing a fork out of a drawer and then turning to face him. "Sit," she orders, pointing at the breakfast bar.

"He's just following orders," says Cardinal with a tight shake of his head, "He's doing exactly what Ray tells him to. So — don't judge him too harshly, Liz." A push away from the counter, and he steps around to the breakfast bar, dropping onto it, arms folding on the countertop as he fixes the woman with a steady gaze. There's clearly something there he's going to say, but he doesn't think it'll go over well. At least that's the look he's got.

As she sets the bowl in front of him, Elisabeth meets his eyes. "I'm willing to believe that…. because the kid was innocent to start with." There's regret for whatever Case went through. But the fact that he's confirmed Edward Ray as a problem is something she's going to sit on. "Somehow, I don't doubt that bombing run was sanctioned either — the air base didn't even launch planes." She's talking about the reserve base in New Jersey, where the Air Force keeps planes. She studies him a long moment, leans forward, and kisses him. "Spit it out, Richard — cuz I know that look." She offers him a faint smile. "Whatever it is, it's not going to make me less glad to see you…. might piss me off, but …. them's the breaks." Then she turns and starts putting together foodstuffs that he can take with him.

As she leans forward, Cardinal leans up to return it lightly — he tastes of sea salt, of blood, of coffee. Then he leans back, and a slight smile quirks to his lips at her words. "Dean brought back a case of the Formula with her, from the future," he replies to her in mild tones, "How secure is it?"

Elisabeth goes still and looks over her shoulder at him, her expression stricken. "Most of it was destroyed, as I understand it. The rest…. is not secure. It's gone. It was stolen." She doesn't slow down what she's doing, though — her eyes turn back to the sandwiches because if he's not staying, he needs this to go with him, dammit. "Why do you ask?" she asks without looking at him. She doesn't want to tell him that Teo stole it.

"Ah, shit." Cardinal brings his hand up to his face — or he tries to. There's no hand there, and he grimaces at himself, tucking it back in against his chest and rubbing his other hand to his face, fingers splayed over his visage, eyes closing. Softly, "God damn it. Tell me it wasn't Pinehearst, Liz. Please."

She half-turns toward him, her eyes shuttered. "So far as I know, it was not Pinehearst. But I can't guarantee that," she admits softly. "It depends on what the fuck's got control of Teo."

Teo. Cardinal's head falls the rest of the way down to the breakfast bar. Then it lifts up a bit, then drops down. Thunk. Again. Again. Then he just lays there, muttering against the wood, "The nuns were right. God does hate me."

There's actually a bit of a snort there, because ELisabeth's reply is half-amused. "Well, if God hates you, I'm pretty sure he's laughing his ass off at the rest of us." With a heavy sigh, she says quietly, "I wish I had better answers, better news, *anything*, Richard. What I can tell you is what I know as of right now." The offer is made as her hands take back up their task. "I know that Adam Monroe is a complete fucking psychopath — he tried years ago to launch the virus that Volken was trying to launch. Pratt worked on it, but she did not work on the formula. That was the work of a guy named Zimmerman — I'm following up on him now." She glances at him. "We know the formula was torn into a couple of parts, and there's a human catalyst, but she didn't know who the catalyst was. Hell, for all I know, it's why she wanted Adam Monroe dead — he may be the catalyst. He's apparently damn near immortal."

"You don't need all the parts of a machine to stop it — you just need one. God damn it, Liz, if Arthur gets his hands on those samples, he could reverse-engineer it…" Cardinal pushes himself up from the counter with a grunt of breath, reaching over for the fedora, "Guess I'm going to have to go find that sonuvabitch and find out what the fuck he's done with it, then."

"You go against him right now, and you're right," Elisabeth says to him quietly, sternly. "You will die. And it'll be for nothing. Sometimes moving too fast is the surest way to fuck up an investigation, Richard." She puts together the last of four huge sandwiches, and then she turns toward him. "Sit and eat that before I clunk you over the head with the frying pans that you kindly left out all over the floor," she tells him. "You said you trusted me…. so it's time you actually trust me. And it's probably time I trust you too. Whatever you think of them, Cat and Helena and the others are the ones who took Volken out of the picture. They're the only reason millions aren't dead, Richard. So while I think sometimes they're goddamn naive about some things, I also think that the amount of intel we've pulled together is useful."

"Yeah, and what they brought back from the fuckin' future might kill us all this time," Cardinal replies firmly, his one good hand resting on the counter as he looks back at her with a steady gaze— his gaze harder than before, determined, "I'm not stupid, Liz. I'm not impulsive, either. I know exactly what I'm doing, and I'm not alone, either." He sinks back to the seat, a frustrated hiss of breath sighed past his teeth before he reaches for the sandwich, "Fuckin' time travel. I hate it."

Elisabeth rolls her eyes. "Well, I'm with you on that one. I did not want to know some of the things I've learned. Some days, ignorance really is bliss." She shakes her head. "Eat," she urges. "You need the protein and calories." She starts bagging up the sandwiches — two meatloaf, one turkey, one roast beef — into zip-top bags for him. "Tell me what information you need. I'm beyond the point of caring what I tell you at this point, except to say we're planning an assault on the Fort Lee biulding, so don't hit it. We've got another excellent thief putting together a plan to help get through security and whatever."

"The Fort Lee Building… which one's that? Sorry, I've had a week," Cardinal delves the fork into the leftovers, and digs into it, his brow furrowing a bit as he watches her over the edge of the meal. Despite his words, he eats ravenously.

"Pinehearst's headquarters," Elisabeth says quietly. "And the agent I mentioned earlier? She brought us a shit-ton of informaiton that will take down the Company. Up to and including the fact that they rigged Nathan Petrelli's Senate election years ago. She's got it on paper."

The fork pauses between Cardinal's lips, which slide slowly off the tines. "Don't," he murmurs, his head shaking ever so slightly, "Not yet. Let me — let me see to a few things. You send someone in there with what little you've probably got, he's a dead man. I might be able to get you some… better information to work off of."

Elisabeth shakes her head, packing up the food. "You want me to hold them off," she tells him, finishing up the bagging and searching for a satchel to put the food in before turning to face him, "then you have to tell me what you're doing. You've already lost a hand. I'm not going to keep sitting on mine while you go get yourself killed." She starts to say something else, bites it back, and then says, "It's time we both lay cards on the table, Richard."

"If I tell you, Liz," Cardinal replies with a tight shake of his head, "You'll tell them." The fork plunges back into the leftovers, those dark eyes fixing a flat gaze to meet hers, "And they'll feel some sort've moral requirement to take down the very fuckin' people I need to pull this off. I'll help you, and Phoenix, but I will not let you get in my way."

Elisabeth nods slowly. "Then I guess I'm likely to get in your way by accident, then," she replies, setting the bag on the breakfast bar. "Eat the chicken, Richard." It's all she says as she starts picking up the pans from the floor and cleaning up the debris from making the sandwiches.

"Alright." The chicken's delved into, Cardinal's eyes dropping back to the bowl before him as he works at finishing off, his voice quieter now, "You don't want my help, then so be it. Hope you didn't like the thief very much."

Elisabeth looks at him and says, "Doesn't seem to matter what I like or what I want, Richard. You're bound and determined to do it your way without bothering to even talk to me. I can't make them listen to some vague reassurances that they should wait and not do anything when they've got information to act on, any more than I seem to be able to convince you to tell me what I need to know to fucking STOP them! Quite honestly, I'm pretty much fucked no matter which way I go — the Company and Pinehearst already know who I am and who I'm affiliated with, and if they decide to move on me, there's jack and shit I can do about it. In the meantime I'm doing my level best to follow up on information you said you wanted, but you aren't giving me much to go on and the one and only thing I think I might have managed to do right in all of this is taking Abby with me to Xiulan's place… because Abby at least was able to talk her down when she realized that you'd contacted me and not her. And Abby now has her safe somewhere I'm not allowed to know about either, so … "

"I thought we had this discussion a long time ago, Liz…" A bite of chicken, chewed, swallowed, the fork dropped atop the scant remainders in the bowl as Cardinal brings a hand up to wipe across his mouth and clean it— turning that tired yet intense look back on her, a rueful sort of smile tugging at the corner of his lips, "…you still haven't figured out which side of what line to stand on. You're playin' every side at once. Cops. Phoenix. Company. Me. It doesn't work. It's gonna kill you in the end, Liz, or you're gonna have to decide on a cause to throw everything behind."

She throws her hands in the air. "You know what? If I could even figure out what the hell the sides are, I would," Liz says in exasperation. "You sure don't mind me playing the cop side when it suits you, though," she comments. "I'm about this close," she holds up her fingers to be millimeters apart, "to deserting the whole fucking lot of you and just calling Petrelli out myself. Cuz at least then I won't be alive to see more of my friends and lovers dead in the streets." She makes a face at him. "I'm tired of that."

"So am I." The bowl's pushed away, and Cardinal hauls himself up to his feet, fingers sliding off the counter's edge once he's up. The hat's settled on his head securely, and he reaches over for the bag — because, hey, she made sandwiches, he's not going to turn them down. "So don't make me have to find you that way, eh?" A look over, the faintest of smiles, "Good luck, Liz."

Elisabeth sets the pans on the counter, and moves toward him, pulling open a small drawer in the corner generally used for junk. "Here," she says, walking to him and sliding the small object into his pocket. It's a key. "So you don't have to break in next time." She sighs at him, looking up as if trying to figure out something. And then she merely says softly, "Be safe. I'm here if you need me."

The maimed thief's gaze drops down to follow the motion of her hand as it slides to his pocket… and then he looks back to her, managing a more honest, if tired, smile before leaning in to brush a kiss to her cheek. "You too, Liz," he murmurs, then steps back to the door, reaching down to scoop up the break-in bag on the way.

Elisabeth murmurs softly to him, "See you around, Richard Cardinal." There's a faint smile. "Get some sleep, you look like shit. Abby'll have her powers back in a day or so, I think. Just has to meet up with the person who can do it." She's not sure if Abby told Richard about that, so she mentions it. Because she already knows he's seen Abby, and hopefully he'll keep checking in.

"Oh?" A hesitation, on the doorstep, as Richard glances half-way back over his shoulder, "Will she… good. Good. Simplifies a few things. Give 'er my love." Then he's out in the hall, hauling the door closed behind him.

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