Life Gutted, Check


cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Life Gutted, Check
Synopsis She finally tells the one person who'll be most pissed.
Date March 31, 2011

Cardinal's Apartment, Redbird Security Solutions

She's walking around his apartment still dressed in the black dress that so caught his eye at the showing. Elisabeth's stomach is tied in knots — she knows what she has to say is going to make him angry.

"Hey." Cardinal steps out of the bathroom, zipping up. He is wearing his suit pants and shirt still, but the tie and jacket have gone missing already. "You look like you're thinking hard."

"Eh," Elisabeth offers with a smile. "Something like that." The heels she's wearing add a couple inches in height, and as she stops in front of him it's just the right height to lean up and offer a soft kiss to his lips with both hands on his chest. "You got things to do tonight?" she asks.

"When don't I?" Cardinal admits with a shrug, leaning in to return the kiss lightly, "What's up? You got something you need to talk about?"

That she hesitates is probably all the warning he needs that it's the latter. "I figured I'd try to catch you up here so you could yell all you want," Elisabeth admits ruefully. "Cuz I'm pretty sure you're going to be pissed." She reaches up and caresses his cheek lightly and then says bluntly, "You told me years ago I was going to have to make a choice someday or get pushed over that line… I'm choosing where I stand. They've put out bait… and I could choose not to take it and sit tight a while longer. Or I can do the right thing and pass it on. As of Saturday, I'm burned."

"What?" A blink. Another blink. Cardinal's fingers rake back through his hair, and he walks away across the room a bit, pacing back after a moment, "Christ. What… this is that fucking Ferry thing, isn't it?"

"Yeah." Elisabeth sighs and clasps her hands around her elbows. "But they're already coming at me, Richard. Jane Pak's…. willing to look the other way for some things, but she knows that I'm still hip-deep. She's told me as much — that she can't prove it, and she's in a position now that she doesn't WANT to prove it. She's trying to cover my ass too and has offered, obliquely, to help. The people above her, though? They're just looking for an excuse. And if they're going to fry me… I'd rather choose the when and where I get fucked over."

Elisabeth pauses. "I don't know if they're actually baiting me personally. If they're just looking to see if information will filter to the Ferry. But … ultimately? Richard, Demsky never did a goddamn thing to get his ass in jail except be Colette's father. He's not even Evo that I'm aware. It's the right thing to do."

"The right thing to do isn't always the best thing to do," Cardinal returns rather sharply, sweeping one hand to one side, "Yes, it fucking sucks that Demsky and Harkness are in there. I'm not arguing that. But we need to balance them against all the other people that we can protect with you in your position, Liz! I kept telling you to keep your nose personally out of stuff like this, so we could keep the upper hand— do you really think it's worth handing FRONTLINE over to fucking Heller?"

The blonde simply watches him, and there's a weary cast to her features. "I'm tired, Richard. I'm tired of faking it. Of lying about everything. Of working for people who are the enemy in the faint hope that I'm actually going to be able to do a goddamn thing about anything. Do you remember what we said? That it's time to stop trying to think like Edward Ray and play two steps ahead?" She shakes her head. "In their future, I played their game. I colored in the lines for nearly a decade, if those dreams are to be believed, and I ran when I was pregnant. We need to do the unexpected. And we need to keep the bridges between us and the Ferry solid. This is the way to do it. They can't possibly think that I'm so stupid I don't know this is a trap. But I put Autumn on the squad going out there Saturday and he's going to make sure they get away. If he can."

"The Ferry are going down, Elisabeth," Cardinal shouts back at her, "And you're going to drag us all down with them! It's not just you here. They know you're connected to me. You go down. I go down. Redbird goes down, turns into just a bunch of fucking stormtroopers like Stillwater, at best… you're burning our only chance to take these fuckers down from the inside, damn it!"

She doesn't flinch from the anger, it was expected. "My connection to you guaranteed that anyway. What, you don't think Kershner's putting you in exactly the position she wants you in to make you into the bad guy? Think, Richard. Think it through. You're the one who told ME that Redbird is a front." Elisabeth's not getting angry, nor is she defensive. There's a calm to her that she hasn't had about her in a long time. "I will… kill for you. I will die on your orders if need be. But I cannot walk away from this. I owe the Ferry a debt I cannot repay any other way. If it weren't for them, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. You would have buried what was left of me a year and a half ago. I understand why you're pissed. You have every right to be. I'm not doing it to thwart you - for Christ's sake, I love you. But I have stood by already for so long, trying to do the best thing that … I'm slowly being crushed by it. I have to do the right thing here."

"You're paying a debt whose price is a river of blood, Elisabeth. Christ…" A few steps away, Cardinal's hands coming up to rake back through his hair, head falling back with a heavy sigh of breath, "Christ. So that's it. War, then? Thousands or more dead because of fucking Demsky?"

"I sure as hell hope not," Elisabeth says softly. "It wouldn't matter whether it was Demsky and Harkness or whoever…. if they weren't going to go in, if they were going to let it pass, I'd keep my mouth shut. But they're going to try for it. And I'm not going to sit on it and let them hit the wrong place." She looks around the apartment, trying to keep the stress and distress off her face. "I haven't slept in two days trying to … figure out what to do here. I know that you think I'm nuts right now." The quirk to one corner of her lips is bitter. "It's not quite the same as eating a nuke, is it? That's a pretty black and white choice. This one's not. And I didn't make it lightly or in a vacuum."

"…but it isn't just about you, Liz," Cardinal says, fingers rubbing against his forehead, "You threw away everything I've been doing, Liz. You didn't even ask."

"I need your permission to follow my conscience?" Elisabeth retorts, stung. "Am I just another chess….. " She bites it off. "No. I'm going to say things here that I will regret the rest of my life if this argument goes any further. Things I don't mean because you're pissed and you want to fight about it." Her jaw clenches. "You're mad. You've got a right to be. I have to follow my conscience. It's what I've always done, and it's what you fucking well fell in love with. So be mad because I've fucked it over for as long as you need to. Throw whatever accusations at me that you want. But I'm not going to fight like this."

"I never said you couldn't follow your conscience, Liz. I just never thought that it was going to lead you away from me." Cardinal's hands come to rest on either side of the window - still curtained - and he leans his weight forward against the wood, head falling forward, eyes closing. "I thought you were… on board with what we were doing. I thought you understood how we had to do this…"

"Well…. maybe you should follow my conscience for a change. Maybe me following you blindly is what led to Ezekiel in the first place." Elisabeth has to swallow hard. "No matter what you think, I am and will always be in your corner. This one I had to do. If you….." She chokes. "If you want to cut me off because of it… that's your choice. I hope you don't, because I will always believe we're better together than we are apart." She turns on a heel, walking toward the door, pulling a small card with a phone number on it from the purse she was carrying containing her cell phone and her keys to the showing. "Here's the number to the prepaid phone that I'll activate when I get to Francois's." She knows his number by heart. "I'm not giving up on you. On us. And I realize that we're not going to agree on this move. But it only destroys things if you let it."

"Of all the people I thought would destroy what we were working on, Liz," Cardinal says in quiet, tight tones, doing his best to hide whatever emotion he's feeling, "I never thought that it'd be you."

Elisabeth goes pale behind him. "Well….. then I guess he wasn't a fucking liar after all, was he?" she asks in a voice husky with hurt. "Because trusting me is what has screwed you both somehow." She leaves the card on the counter and before either of them can say anything else, she walks out.

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