Ironic Favors


cardinal_icon.gif matt_icon.gif

Scene Title Ironic Favors
Synopsis Cardinal visits Parkman on the behalf of the Bennet family, to which the telepath takes some offense. Other bombshells are dropped, and other warnings are given. (Okay, so maybe it's not really ironic in the strictest technical sense.)
Date October 9, 2010

Dorchester Towers - Matt Parkman's Apartment

Description of location, if any.

For nearly halfway through October, New York City hasn't given up summer weather quite yet. It's funny, in a way.

The evening air is crisp, but it lacks the foggy heft of autumn, despite the fact that a few yellow leaves, torn from the landscaping of both Dorchester Towers and buildings like it - buildings designed to marry domesticity with urban sleekness - dance upon the swells and twirl in the occasional dervishes.

Matt Parkman stands on his balcony with a bottle of beer clutched between three fingers of his right hand. Another sits on a small table that's been pulled alongside the single lounge chair, but it remains unopened. It's been a late night, making it one of the few times the man has used his position to slink home after curfew, if only surround himself with relative quiet. And yet it's on the balcony where he's gone to nurse the brew, where he can so easily let the thoughts of his neighbors seep into his brain like the infomercial that serves as the insomniac's lullaby.

"Good evening, Matt… Matt…" A shadow passes whispering over the table as if the moon's light had been suddenly masked with a cloud, although the telepath undoubtedly knows better, "…sorry for dropping in like this. How's everything going? I saw that the Shark passed on my warning… my warning…"

Parkman takes a deep breath at the sound of the familiar voice. Just the man he needed to see, or hear as the case may be. He looks back toward the open sliding door, then the shadowed chair, but ultimately returns his gaze out across the view permitted by the balcony. "Yeah," he says, lifting the bottle to take a small sip. "Thanks. You keep pretty close tabs on them." Them being Messiah. But it's not a question - it's an observation of fact. "Wonder if you might be able to do me a favor."

"I keep tabs on everyone, Matt… that's what I do. And maybe. What is it… what is it…?" Of course, Cardinal probably needs something himself, or he wouldn't be here. He seems more than willing to listen to the other man's proposal first, though.

Parkman narrows his eyes, taking a moment to firmly locate the presence of Cardinal's mind, even if he isn't here in body. You remember what I showed you, he projects, not wanting to name it. The…mastermind behind it all. I'm going to bring him down the way I should have brought down Pinehearst. But I need you and your people to get the hard evidence for me, so when I go to the President, I've got a hand to play.

He takes another sip from the beer and breaths out a sigh after swallowing it down. "You think you can do that for me?"

There's silence for a few long moments, as the shadowman considers what's asked of him… and then he offers in a whispered stir of voice, "It's going to be hard… connecting them… and it'll be very hard to bring Carmichael in alive. I'll see what I can do. There may be a few things I can dig up…"

A pause, and then Cardinal says, "I'm here to ask a favor on behalf of— well. Me and an associate both. It involves Claire Bennet… the cheerleader…"

"You gonna tell me why Harper's so focused on bringing her in?" Not Carmichael. Not Petrelli. No, Harper kept talking about the Bennet girl. Turning away from the balcony, Parkman steps back toward the apartment, snagging the second beer on his way in. But he doesn't close the door behind him.

That would be rude.

"…I didn't know that he was…" There's a thread of worry through Cardinal's voice as he admits that, moving to slither down the table's leg and drift along back into the apartment - and once he's out of easy sight of the balcony, he washes up the length of one wall before stepping out of it, shadow becoming flesh and bone and fabric.

"No, it… doesn't have anything to do with Harper. You've read the briefs on Apollo? You know what happened to here in Madagascar?"

Parkman sets both beers down on the coffee table before he steps back to close the sliding door and the vertical blinds on top of it. By then, there's a coporeal Richard Cardinal that he can gesture toward the couch as he makes his own way back. Once he's settled, he picks up beer again, holding it in both hands.

"You understand I don't have a lot of sympathy for her. Not after what she did to Hicks and Autumn." Parkman fidgets, rolling the brown bottle between his palms as he stares at the coffee table.

"I know." Cardinal doesn't look like he's been sleeping well, shadows visible beneath his eyes where his shades don't cover them, a shade or so paler than usual, lips drawn down in a tired grimace. "That wasn't her fault, though… it was Carmichael."

He drops down to sit on the couch, leaning back with a sighed exhalation of breath, "It's all Carmichael. Half of Messiah have been.. freaking reprogrammed. Whatever he did - she's a raving lunatic, Matt. I had her snatched up before she could kill Meyes, I have to keep her tied up because the last few times she's been loose, she was found cutting herself over and over again until the room was fucking painted with blood. All her memories from Madagascar're coming back, and they're combined with what Rupert put in her head - she thinks everything's her fault, the Bomb, all of it, and the only way to fix it is to kill who Rupert tells her to."

"Maybe," Parkman says, but he doesn't elaborate on the thought. "You know for sure it's Carmichael who's done it?" That same niggling curiosity that made him look closer at the incongruities in Melissa Pierce's mind start to needle at him again. It's a long shot that those things both so alike and unlike his own subtle commands were placed by the same person that's warped Claire into a terrorist, but the chance isn't one Parkman can easily pass up.

He squeezes the bottle between his hands and swallows, fighting against the eagerness that builds up inside him. It's not a good thing to be curious about, and he knows it. Still.

"So what do you want me to do? Get her set up in a nice padded room?"

"Yes… I do." Cardinal's arms fold behind his head, his legs stretching out in front of him, "The other members've Messiah are starting to realize that they've been manipulated. Peter came to me with his suspicions. We're working to gather some evidence… if we can, I can probably either disband or repurpose their organization. Nobody likes being controlled."

There's a moment's silence, and then he says quietly, "Noah Bennet asked me to ask you to help fix her."

"We need t-"

Parkman's response is cut off by Cardinal's addendum regarding Claire, and he visibly stiffens, his eyes widening a fraction before they narrow. "Bennet." Not the Bennet girl, but Noah Bennet. Parkman swallows and grits his teeth as he stares at the man beside him on the couch.

Looking into Claire's brain for primarily selfish, almost academic reasons may have eventually won Parkman over when it came to helping her. But the girl's father being involved changes things. "He wants me to help her." Parkman's jaw tightens, and his lips twitch. "He wants me to fix her for him." A mocking sort of smile wiggles it's way onto his face, and he shakes his head. "He wants me to save his little girl?" Parkman's voice reaches a dangerous intensity despite staying relatively quiet.
You paged (Lexington, Seamus) with 'I think I lost my Smedconnection. Or I have hella lag'

"He did…" Cardinal's head tilts back a little, gaze on the ceiling as he scratches under his chin with one gloved hand, "…mention, uh, mention something about shooting you… while trying to, ah, deal with Molly."

Yeah, he knew this one wasn't going to be easy.

Parkman snorts out a derisive laugh before he scowls out into the middle distance and stands, leaving the beer on the coffee table. He paces the length of the living room, running a hand over the back of his neck. Noah has to be desperate to turn to him, and he knows it. But he's a coward for not coming to Parkman himself. They don't have anything on Noah - or, at least, nothing that Parkman cares about to any nominal degree.

"You tell him that if he wants my help, he has to ask me himself," he finally growls. "I want him to look me in the eye and say the damn words." It's petty, but after all this time, it's the petty things that keep things in context. "He wanted to kill Molly, Richard. Imagine what would happen if you told him the only way to save Claire was to put her down for good."

"You're both fathers, Matt." Cardinal pushes himself forward, leaning both arms on his knees as he watches the other man pace through the room with a frown pursing his lips, "I've got her in custody at Redbird. I'll set up a meeting there. We have government contracts - not that unusual that you might stop by. I'd appreciate it if you didn't kill each other in my building, though, if it comes to that. Don't punish Claire for what he's done."

More quietly, "None of the Company were very good fathers. Their children've suffered for it enough."

"Claire has her own crimes to answer for," Parkman says as he comes to a stop behind the couch, leaning his weight against the back of it and folding his arms across his chest. "And the 'Carmichael made me do it' defense might not hold up for what she's already done."

He takes a deep breath and closes his eyes. "We can't repurpose. We can't salvage. We're past that, Richard. If we can link Carmichael to… to the mastermind, then we can maybe get people like Claire off on a plea. Bargain with them for testimony, but it doesn't look good. A jury isn't going to be kind to the girl who killed two government officials and then got up and walked away, no matter how she was manipulated." That's just the state of affairs in the country today.

"But the blowing buildings up? The putting lives in danger for a good cause? It doesn't help anyone, and it especially doesn't help people like us. Claire, Peter, and all the rest of them need to have that drilled into their skulls once and for all."

"They didn't have any choice in the matter, Matthew," Cardinal replies tightly, pushing himself up to his feet and turning to fix the other man with a steady look, "No more than someone you pushed into doing something has a choice in it… maybe even less. He's a persuader, for fuck's sake. Claire? She went in as a mole. I sent her. And before I could blink she'd been turned into a stone cold killer. And— fuck, Matt, you know as well as I do that they'd never go to trial. They'd disappear into the Institute somewhere.
Matt…" He gestures with one hand, "…you have to trust me, we'll get him down, but it's not time yet."

"We need to deal with the clear and present danger that Carmichael presents to all of us, because if half the city is on fire or dead, there's not much we can fucking do about the mastermind as you put it. We gather evidence, but we can't use it yet."

It's never been more clear to Parkman what the Eighth of November will bring. "He's set us on them. Just like any other investigation, but a month ago?" Parkman holds Carmichael's gaze easily, but his nostrils flare as he pauses, his lips held tight for a moment. "A month ago I was given other orders.

"He wants us to wait. I know it. I can feel it. If we wait, he can show the world how dangerous we are and get a free political pass to do whatever he wants. All the comparisons the talking heads like to make? They won't be comparisons anymore, Richard. They'll be the way things are. So yeah, we need Carmichael. But we need his puppeteer too."

"I'm not so sure who the puppeteer is there, to be honest, Matt…" Cardinal grimaces, looking across the room briefly as if checking for anyone else before returning his attention to the telepath, "…we can't bring him down just yet. We can't. This is what you wanted to do at Pinehearst, too - get right to the heart of the problem."

"Trust me," he allows, his tone dry, "I sympathize. Hell, there was a time I considered just… taking a shot at him. If we move too soon, though, we'll be stopped dead in our tracks. And if we take most of it public - they'll be just as scared as otherwise. The— him— involved in a plot with Evolved terrorists? It'd be counterfuckingproductive. It'd scream that we're dangerous and need to be stopped, because obviously Carmichael was controlling the whole thing - whether or not he was, that's how the public'd see it."

"We need to find out how deep this thing goes, and get to the root of it. The Institute, Messiah, the whole deal. We need to be patient. That doesn't mean we need to stand still but it means we need to be fucking careful."

Parkman takes a deep, quiet breath as he stares back at Richard, obviously torn. "I'm still meeting with the President about it," he says after a moment, his voice low. "I'll be careful." Because there is that small chance that Nathan Petrelli is already aware of what his VP is up to.

He moves around the couch and grabs the two bottles before he turns to walk toward the small kitchen. "Call me when you're ready with Bennet."

"You need to be careful, there…" Cardinal knows that the other man basically just dismissed him, but he doesn't walk out of the room - or ghost out - just yet, "…you don't know who it is that's sitting in that office. It isn't the Nathan Petrelli you knew."

Talk about bombshells.

There's a pause during which no sound comes from the kitchen, then the crash of bottles against metal. When Parkman emerges, his brows are furrowed so deeply that his forehead wrinkles with the effort. "What are you saying, Cardinal?" he asks in a voice barely louder than a whisper. His hands curl into fists at his sides.

He's a man who has dealt far too often with people stealing the faces of others for one reason or another.

Rather than wait for Cardinal to answer him, he tilts his head slightly, preparing himself to pierce through the man's surface thoughts to uncover the truth - to automatically fact check.

"I'm listening."

One gloved hand lifts up, pulling the shades from Cardinal's face and rubbing against his eyes and brow, a sigh whispering over his hand. His thoughts are oddly calm, given the situation, open and clear. He's not hedging, not hiding anything right now, unless perhaps if the other man tried to push deeper than the current subject.

"During the… Pinehearst situation," he says quietly, "A number of… time travellers… came back from the future to try and change things. Prisoners of Moab, because in that timeline it hadn't gone down. One of them was — the impeached former President, Nathan Petrelli."

His hand drops, and he fixes the other man with a steady gaze, "That's who's in the White House right now. The — Nathan that got elected is on the run. I broke him out of a prison in Argentina, but that was the last time I heard from him."

Parkman takes the news relatively well, considering. "Why was he impeached?" is the only question he asks after a long moment of silence, toward the of which he slips his hands into his pockets and lifts his chin with a swallow.

"I'm going to go out on a limb and and say you don't have much proof of this, or I can't see why you wouldn't have said something earlier. We're a little past the 'people thinking you're crazy' thing."

"Aside from the fact that I've met both of them, face to face…" Cardinal's hands spread to either side, and then they drop back to his side, and he turns to look over towards the balcony, a frown pursing to his lips, "…I don't, no. It's… I don't know which side this Nathan's on. I don't know his agenda. He's older than the one we're supposed to have… cannier… more desperate."

"In that — timeline — when the Company went down, it wasn't because of the Institute. A Company agent working for Pinehearst turned over everything to the public, and it all came crashing down," he says quietly, "Linderman went down with it, of course, since he was one've the Founders. Then Nathan's connection to him came out. The proof that he won his senatorial race not because he was voted in, but because a technopath manipulated the vote tally. He was impeached, and his flying ass got thrown into Moab for ten years."

There's that small chance that the Nathan Petrelli who Matt has met with concerning matters of National Security and during other cabinet meetings is looking for redemption of some sort. Small and thin. "When?" is the question that Parkman chokes out next, his eyes narrowing as his chest rises with breath. "When did the switch happen?" How long has it been like this?

"Sometime… within a couple of months after Moab timesploded," Cardinal says in a quiet voice, his eyes closing. Do you understand now, Matt? We need to move quietly… carefully… the public can never know about any of this. It'd tear the country apart, if not the world.

"Right," Parkman says with a small nod, lifting his hands to his hips as he turns his head to look at the wall rather than Cardinal. "I get it." But that doesn't mean that he's happy about it. "I'll play it close to the chest."

He takes another deep breath and shakes his head. "Keep me posted, okay?" As in, don't neglect to mention important information again, mkay?

"Matt, no offense…" Cardinal smirks, though there's rather little humor to it, "…but if I told you everything at once you'd probably end up bludgeoning me with something until I shut up. You don't want the nightmares I have every night." The smirk's faded by the last, his head shaking slowly, "I might… have a solution to the Messiah problem. I'll work on it. And I'll set up that meeting."

Matt lifts a hand to point a finger at Cardinal, tilting his head again. "Remember - you keep me informed before you go into motion." It only works if Parkman is on the same page, after all. He takes another deep breath and nods a farewell, turning back to the kitchen to clean up his mess.

It's a shame he can't enjoy these little visits.

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