It Just Is What It Is


cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title It Just Is What It Is
Synopsis The title really says it all.
Date Sep 4, 2009

Elisabeth's Apartment

The hour's late when Cardinal arrives in the apartment, although it's difficult to say when he arrived exactly. At some point when she wasn't in the main room, he showed up, and now the scent of the oven stirs in the apartment as he boils water for some ramen, whistling a tune under his breath as he does so.

She wasn't in the main room because she was in a steaming bath. It's one of the nicest perks of this apartment — a garden tub. It's a small garden tub, but it's deep and she was hiding in the hottest water that she could tolerate with a mountain of bubbles and the second glass of wine for the night. It's only after the water cools that she finally pries herself out of the exhausted stupor that the tub put her in and climbs out. When she steps out of the master bedroom's bathroom, she catches the scent. And when she steps into the living room, she is without weapon — this is progress! — her blonde hair caught up in an alligator clip to keep all but the dangling tendrils dry, wrapped in a knee length silky robe that is damp all over from her skin. She's carrying the empty wine glass, which she sets on the counter and murmurs, "Hey you. There's real food in there, you know. You don't have to eat instant crap…"

"I don't believe in real food, it doesn't exist," replies Cardinal without missing a beat, twisting at the waist to look back over his shoulder; a smile crooking to his lips, he whistles softly, "Nice. You know, you didn't have to put a robe on for me…"

Elisabeth's smile shifts from lazy and half-sleepy to a vague attempt at sultry invitation. "Well… all right, then," she comments easily, slipping the tie and simply dropping it to the floor. Just for the shock value, she puts one hand to the back of her head, the other to her waist, and strikes a pose for him with one knee bent slightly over the other. "We'll skip the subtle invitation and go straight for the 'wanna fuck?' routine," she says with a flutter of eyelashes.

Whoa. The stirring spoon in Cardinal's hand slides into the pot's steaming water as his gaze runs downwards from her face to admire everything that pose has to offer… and a low chuckle stirs upon his lips, turning from the oven to step along closer. "You drive a hard bargain, y'know," he grins, reaching out to slide one hand over her hip and pull her closer, leaning his head down a bit towards hers, "I mean, no dinner? No movie?"

She steps into him, her bare feet placing her a bit lower in height than she usually is with him — a couple inches in shoe soles when she's not wearing them and he is makes her almost petite next to him. Elisabeth looks upward, her hands reaching up to slide up his arms to his shoulders, and her breath catches briefly when his face closes the distance to hers. For a split second, she goes taut under his hands, and then she curls up onto her tiptoes to whisper against his mouth, "Foreplay's overrated."

That sudden tension that coils through her gives her pause… but then she melts back into his embrace, and his mouth finds hers to agree with her words by silencing them rather efficiently. The hand on her hip slides back, splaying over her backside to pull her in against him, his other hand raising to brush hair from her face, caressing the still-damp locks.

It doesn't appear to be the embrace so much as time to think that seems to be the problem. She was not assaulted in that way — thank any God that you believe in — but certain movements do still have the power to make her pause, and adjustments have to be made. It's… perhaps just a hair awkward (as if such activities aren't sometimes awkward and hilarious anyway if you step back and look at them) in ways it hasn't been before. When they're both naked and sweaty and trying to catch their breath finally, though, Elisabeth leans her forehead to his, her nose brushing his. "Thank you," she whispers to him. Not so much gratitude… but maybe a little bit of relief conveyed in that moment. She'd been afraid that what she'd gone through might have ruined far more than her psyche. As if that's not bad enough.

"Trying to pump my ego up, are you..?" A teasing, husky little whisper as he rests his head to hers thusly, eyes closing amoment before opening to meet hers, a smile curving faint and gentle to his lips as he drops silent for a time. His breath still quickened, skin warmed with exertion as he rests against her. At last he brushes a kiss to the tip of her nose, "Welcome."

Elisabeth chuckles softly. "As if that needs any pumping up at all," she replies wearily. Though she doesn't lose contact with him, she does scoot backward some to lay on her own pillow — far enough from his face to not feel him breathe against her cheek. She strokes his chest lazily with one hand, her leg still thrown over one of his. "I'm sorry about the lights," she feels compelled to say to him. The lights in the bedroom are off, but the bathroom light is on and the door open… it was as far as she could go as a concession. Not that he's complained in any way, mind you.

Cardinal rolls to one side, shifting to scoot up beside her, one arm draping over her midriff and fingertips lazily exploring her side, tracing absent designs over soft skin. "It's all right," he murmurs, head sideways on the pillow as he murmurs, "I can deal."

There is silence for a few long moments while she merely studies his face, her free hand continuing its gentle motions while her other curls under her cheek. And then Liz says quietly, "No one's asked." Whether he follows along with what she's talking about or not, she explains it anyway. "Is it because everyone feels guilty? Or they just don't want to know? Or don't know how to ask?" she asks him quietly. "There are…. parts… that I …. sometimes want to say out loud, but I don't know if I should. Or… what'll happen if I do."

The question garners silence, Cardinal's eyes watching her face for long moments without his lips parting before at last he seems to come to some decision on how to say what he wants to say. "We don't… want to force you to talk about it, until you're ready," he says softly, hand stilling atop her stomach, "And, yeah, we feel guilty, and — part've us doesn't want to know. It's not as real for us if we don't have to face what you went through. I'm here, though, when you — want to talk about it."

Elisabeth seems to take that answer at face value and merely nods slightly. Her hand moves from trailing across his chest to cup his cheek, fingertips stroking lightly along the vague roughness. "I don't remember a lot of it," she confesses softly. "There are… pieces. Like snapshots of moments. Sounds. Smells." She pauses. "Abby says that's pretty normal. And I know that… but everything I was trained to know just sort of… went out the window, you know?" She's got in-depth knowledge of her own condition, having trained as a hostage negotiator. "I freaked out on Mack the other day… just… a simple click. And I lost it. Coming back from the library." She grimaces. "Kind of glad you didn't see that."

Cardinal's nose wrinkles just a little. "He is a little quick with that gun," he admits, a bit ruefully, and he turns his head to brush a kiss against her hand, "It'll be a little while before you're okay again, Liz… you've just got to hang on and work on it."

Her smile is faint, and there's a shrug. "Yeah…. I know. It's a wonder what a hot bath can do for a girl, though," she says with waggling eyebrows. Cuz after all, that's what got them from the somewhat strained little 'am I ever going to do more than hold your hand again' dance they've been doing to here. And then she chides gently, "He's been undercover on Staten for months, Richard. Cut him a little …. wait… you met him?" She looks surprised.

"Yeah, I ran into him at the Rock Cellar, coincidentally," Cardinal murmurs, propping his head up with one arm to look at her better, a hint of amusement stirring in his voice, "Kinda funny, really, after you'd just mentioned him."

"Really?" Elisabeth purses her lips thoughtfully. "Interesting." When he moves to prop up, she doesn't move back or pull away but she's unable to stop the hint of watchfulness that creeps back into her eyes. Her hand slips back down to rest on the sheets and she absently tweaks them to pull them up a bit more securely — not exactly for modesty, more for the sense of not-as-vulnerable it gives her. "Do I dare ask what you were doing at Cat's club?" she asks with a faint grin.

"I was getting a drink," Cardinal rolls his eyes, "What th'fuck do you think I was doing? Anyway, he was saying that he'd just quit the force an' all that. Has an interesting perspective on things, I've got to admit…"

Elisabeth reaches out and pokes him. "I thought you were … hell, I don't know. Skulking, spying? gathering intel. Do you ever go anywhere that it's just a drink these days?" she asks curiously.

Cardinal's nostrils flare in a faint snort. "Not often," he admits, rolling onto his back with a heavy sigh, one arm sliding behind his head to prop it up as his gaze roams to the ceiling, "Hell, the last time I even tried to go to a party I ended up following a government assassin home to try and take him out…"

There's a blink. Several of them. And then Liz props herself up on her elbow and looks at him. "You what?" She pauses. "Are you insane? I think you must be insane." She scoots around in the bed so that she can prop her chin on his ribcage while she watches him. "She was right, you know." Apropos of nothing.

"Well, he keeps trying to shoot Eileen," Cardinal observes, his tone dry, before he closes his eyes and asks, "Who was right about what?"

"Abby was right," Elisabeth says quietly. "You're the only person I know… that I've even let touch me, outside Abby when she held my hand at the safehouse. Every single other person… makes me twitchy when they get within arm's length." She doesn't sound … exactly bothered. More thoughtful. "I'm sorry she went all… " She grimaces. "Whatever the hell that was the other night. I was laying here just sort of flipping through things in my head and realized… that she was right. And blurted it out like an ass. It's nothing." She waves it away. "Who's trying to kill Eileen and why now?"

A shift of Cardinal's arm lets him lift his head a bit more to look at her more thoughtfully, a faint smile curving to his lips and a hand raising to brush hair away from her face. "No idea why," he murmurs, "God knows I'm a shady untrustworthy bastard, but, hey, maybe I've just got one of those faces." He winks, then sighs, head shaking a little, "The government, eh."

Elisabeth comments wryly, "I think it has more to do with the fact that we're fucking… or something."

Cardinal smirks back at her at that, brows raising, "Uh huh. You seen any of your… previous lovers lately?"

As quick as that, Elisabeth's expression goes flat and shuttered. "Funny guy. Considering the only other one I've had in the past six months is in the hands of Humanis First, that'd be a little tough now, wouldn't it?" She pushes away from him and moves to climb off the bed, leaving taking the sheet with her. "But I'll see what I can do about testing the theory."

Blink. Blink. "Ivanov?" As she starts to climb off the bed, Cardinal pushes himself up to a seated posture, curling one leg under himself as he stares after her, one hand half-raising as if to grab her, though he doesn't, "…seriously? I thought he was — y'know — gay."

Elisabeth stops at the edge of the bed and says quietly, "Yeah, well… mostly gay." She heads into the living room, and when she comes back, she's tying the belt of her discarded robe around her waist. Shoving her hair back off her face, she just looks at him. "Whatever you're thinking… I can't fix. I didn't mention to you that you were pretty much the only guy I was seeing because I kind of figured you'd go and freak out on me. But there you have it. It means something, it just is what it is, and it works. I'd rather not fuck it up with a lot of lies and petty bullshit. Is there…. any way to make that happen? Because …. so far you're the person I feel safe with. And I'd really like to know I haven't just fucked that up because I …. needed to say things to you that were on my mind when they tried to kill me. When they damn near succeeded in killing me, but for the grace of God and Deckard." She sounds… agitated. Tired. Emotionally drained.

Huh. Felix. He never would've seen that one coming. By the time she comes back, Cardinal's rolled from the bed to his feet, not bothering with clothes as he pads barefoot towards where she's standing near the doorway. "Hey," he murmurs more softly, one hand lifting to brush against her chin as he tries to meet her eyes, "You didn't fuck anything up, Liz. I mean, fuck, I'm not exactly the married-with-picket-fence type, but I haven't been doing a lot've screwing around myself if you know what I mean."

She can't stop the tension that hits for just that instant when he stands in front of her. Elisabeth looks up at him and studies his face closely, the surprise showing clearly. And then she quirks a rueful smile at him. "I'm not sure if that scares the shit out of me or if I'm happy about it," she admits honestly. "I don't… expect anything, okay? I'm not… that girl. I don't… expect you to account for your time or be at my beck and call or…. whatever the hell else seems to always happen when people… *do* this." She hesitates and then adds, "And Christ, this is so not the conversation I thought we'd be having today." There's that sort of dry tone and a half-grin once more.

"Christ," Cardinal actually grins, his head shaking, "If I had to account for all my time, you'd probably fuckin' arrest me." A lean in, and he presses his forehead to hers, murmuring, "Just shut up and come back to bed, Liz. Stop overthinking shit. It is what it is."

Elisabeth starts to laugh, very softly but it's a true laugh. "I don't think I've been this stressed about a man I'm sleeping with since …. ever," she comments. Her brow furrows slightly since she was about to say, almost automatically 'since college' but … she can't remember college. Something she keeps to herself. Forcing that away for now, she turns her face up to his and rubs her nose to his for a moment. And then she slides her arms around his waist and slaps him on the behind — far more sound than actual pain involved. "That's fer telling me to shut up." She did warn him, though that's a very vague memory.

The slap's audible, and Cardinal jumps a bit — and then he laughs, leaning in to brush a kiss against her ear. "You did warn me. You've got enough shit to be stressed about, Liz. Just… let it be."

Acknowledging that she's overthinking it is done only in the privacy of her own head; she can't quite stop herself. It's perhaps the only part of her life she has control of, and she's holding onto that with white-knuckled intensity even as she fully realizes that those very actions could kill it. The shudder going through her is not entirely one of desire as he kisses her — her private struggles to allow him into her personal space and not run away are the one part of all this that she's keeping very quiet about. She can't hide the tension sometimes, but she both wants and desperately needs the comfort he offers and the sheer easiness of their relationship. She turns her face to his once she has the knee-jerk response under control and promises in a murmur, "Okay. No more thinking." She seals her mouth to his and lets him take her away from the ugliness in her own head once more. Tomorrow will be soon enough to tell him Teo's news.

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