Nothing Is Guaranteed


cardinal_icon.gif lydia_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif

Scene Title Nothing Is Guaranteed
Synopsis Lydia meets one of her clients, along with Peyton's business partner, and gives an impromptu palm reading.
Date August 5, 2010

Orchid Lounge

When Richard Cardinal holds the door open for Peyton Whitney on what she's dubbed their "faux-date," she murmurs thanks, cheeks coloring just a touch because of the strangeness of going to a restaurant with him at night while they're dressed up. Just eating food that doesn't come out of a paper bag or cardboard box will be a unique experience for the two.

She's dressed in a wine-colored strapless dress that hits just above the knee, bare legs ending in her black peeptoe pumps — it's not really dressed up for her, given that she owns a closetful of designer gowns, some of the quality seen at red-carpet premieres in Hollywood.

Luckily the dark interior of the Orchid Lounge covers her blushing cheeks. She knows it's not a date — it just feels like one. She smiles as they move toward the hostess, murmuring two when the woman asks how many in their party.

"What," Cardinal'd joked when she called it that, "I'm not good enough for a real date?"

The Red King actually dug out a suit for the occasion, a dark grey jacket and pants, black shirt, red tie. He actually cleans up fairly decently - unfortunately, he generally doesn't bother to do so.

It's not long before the hostess brings them away from the door and towards a table, and he eases himself down to sit across from her, allowing easily, "Angela Petrelli owns this place, funny enough…"

"Oh?" Peyton's brows rise to disappear under her bangs. Her hair is down, so only the tiny stem of her new tattoo shows when her long hair shifts this way or that. "I thought we hated all the Petrellis. A pox on them and all that," she says lightly, her lips curving into a smirk, though her dark eyes grow sad for a moment — that had been around the time they had learned about Albert Winslow, Peyton's birth father.

She ducks her head to look at the menu. She's never nervous on dates. Ever. And this one isn't even "real." But there's the rub. She sighs slightly, reaching for the water glass the bus-boy has already dropped off, bringing it to her lips to take a long swallow. Business seems like it shouldn't be discussed, but what else is there? "So… did you like your office decor?" she decides is a safe question — the Isaac Mendez painting had been hung up in his office earlier that day.

"Oh, I do. That's why I like to eat here," Cardinal replies with a rogue's smile crooked up at one corner of his lips, reaching up to lower his shades a bit and wink to her over them before they're pushed back up over his face, the Ray-Bans warding off even the dim light of the lounge.

As he lifts up the menu, he admits, "I like it. It's a great piece, even if whatever it meant to predict doesn't matter anymore - I wonder what it did…"

Not far from where Peyton and Cardinal are sitting is a familiar face, to the woman, anyways. Lydia side-glances the pair, spying rather discretely behind the wine menu, discretely enough not to draw suspicion or attention for her spies. Her lips straighten as she glances at Cardinal and then back to Peyton, but her eyes glimmer with just a hint of some unspoken mischief.

With a small deep breath she slowly, carefully, places the menu on the table. Except the motion isn't careful enough. In fact, she manages to knock over her water glass with the black covered menu. Her eyes actually widen with surprise as she attempts to slide out of the way of the ice water that spreads across the marble surface.

The clink of glass and trickle of water break Peyton's attention from what Cardinal is saying, and she turns to look at Lydia, her eyes widening just a touch. Strange — their paths have collided yet again. She watches as waiters hurry with linens to sop up the mess, then smiles sympathetically at the blond woman at the table. "That's the tattoo artist I went to," Peyton tells Card, then stands a little to wave again.

"Lydia! Come over and sit with us, now that you've made your seat all wet," she says softly, but loud enough to be heard. A couple of people glance up at her whisper, but she sits back down and glances at Cardinal with an apologetic smile. "I don't want her to eat alone," she whispers.

Of course, as his 'date' is distracted by the clink of glass, Cardinal's attention cuts over in that direction as well. "You got a tattoo? I didn't know that…" A hint of a grin tugs up at one corner of his lips as he looks back to Peyton, about to say something - but then she rises to wave the other woman over, brows lifting.

He pauses, then shrugs one shoulder, exhaling a chuckle, "Sure— sure, that's alright."

Lydia's face flushes a pale pink as she waggles her fingers in return. A single hand smoothes down her periwinkle dress before treading closer to the pair. "Peyton," that gentle, even tone greets as her eyes glances from one to the other that glint of mischief perpetuating in her gaze.

Lips edge upwards as she shakes her head a little before glancing back at the mess she'd created of her own table, her cheeks finding that flush just a stitch brighter and the shake failing. "Thank you," the words are warm, but laced with a kind of apprhension. Rather hesitantly she winces just a a little before waffling in the decision, "I don't want to intrude…"

The brunette's cheeks color again and she drops her eyes when he mentions the tattoo — he'll probably assume it's in some naughty place because of her reaction, but it's because she's worn her hair up a couple of times in his presence to show off Lydia's beautiful skin art, and clearly he hadn't noticed. But why would he?

"No intrusion. I can't let you sit by yourself when you're new back in town. Especially at a place like this," Peyton says warmly, reaching to pull Lydia by the hand toward their bench. "Lydia, this is Richard Cardinal, my business … partner?" Her brows raise as she looks at Cardinal on that note. It's a new thing, this business of theirs, and it's clear she isn't sure how to discuss it yet. "Lydia is a tattoo artist over at Just Ink. She's phenomenal."

There's something a bit rueful about Cardinal's expression as he leans back to wait for the other woman to approach, his hand raising to rub against the nape of his neck - and then he leans forward, offering a hand out along with a wry smile, "Good to meet you… got some ink myself." A chuckle - a glance to Peyton, "Guess that's as good a way of saying it as anything. God knows we wouldn't get much actually done without you, at least on the business side of things."

The hand is pulled a rather small, and with a small surprised inhalation of breath, and a small shake of her head, as if trying to clear something from it like an Etch-A-Sketch, Lydia lurches forward. Once closer to their bench, she extends her free hand towards Cardinal, but the grasp can hardly be described as a shake, instead it's a small squeeze. "Lydia Taylor. And yes, I am a tattoo artist, but I believe Peyton over exaggerates my skill; I am actually a fortune teller by trade and am relatively new to ink… although not new to tattoos themselves."

A more knowing smile flicks over her features, tame and subtle, but certainly present as she slides onto the bench next to Peyton.

Peyton smiles, pleased by his praise — she hasn't been told she was good at anything that anyone would be proud of in quite some time — if ever. At least anything that could be said in polite company. "That's right. One day I'll have to have you do a reading for me," Peyton says, smiling at Lydia as she sits down. There's an uncertainty in her words — Lydia already told her what the cards do — reveal what is hidden from one's self. Peyton is already too painfully aware of her failings and shortcomings — she's afraid of what the cards would reveal that she isn't being honest about.

"A fortune teller?" Cardinal leans back after the brief clasp of hands, his head cocking a little to one side curiously, "Interesting line of work… if you believe in that sort've thing, I suppose." He exhales a chuckle then, noting with a lift of one hand, "Then again, these days, one can't dismiss anything."

With a tilt of Lydia's head, that glint of mischief increases in her eyes, just a hint as her smile edges upwards a little more. "Belief or not, some people can just read others better." Her eyes narrow slightly as she examines him, that smile faltering for a moment as she ponders something. "I do not claim to tell the future, and leave that to the precogs, but tarot cards, well they speak to the individual directly in their own way."

She tucks a stray hair behind her ear before pressing her lips together, considering further. "I told Peyton this, but so often we live in an illusion, letting ourselves believe lies that we feed others. The cards help us understand the truth."

At the talk of lies and hiding, Peyton's eyes drop to her menu again. Most of her life has been a lie, yet utterly open to the world at the same time. Now that she can see others' secrets in her own way, she's tried to live a better life, but now she has another secret, the one she has yet to tell anyone. She reaches for her water glass again, sipping slowly, then sets her menu down. Her eyes dart around in search of the waiter — for something to do, since she doesn't know what to say to Lydia's softspoken words. "It would be interesting. Sometime soon," she says, about a possible reading, though Lydia likely can tell she doesn't mean it.

There's something bitter in the smile that crooks to Cardinal's lips. "We could argue all night about what the truth is… honestly, though, most people can't handle the truth about themselves. Anyway, I get into a philosophical conversation," he chuckles ruefully, looking up for a waiter as well, "I'll be here all night. I'm supposed to be leaving business behind for an evening."

He must have an interesting job if philosophy counts as business.

"Philosophy hardly counts as business," Lydia observes coolly as a rueful smile curls her lips upwards, "and some elements of truth free us from the prisons we place ourselves in; certainly from the halls of mirrors which reflect our true natures to ourselves; a kind of apt understanding that who we are in secret is who we really are. And there are moments in life when we cannot fathom what we truly desire, and if we had, life would be entirely different," but beyond these words, she doesn't press the issue, in fact, she drops it altogether, resting her hands on the table, and choosing a new line of discussion.

Instead she turns to Peyton, a softer, more gracious smile is shot to the younger woman, "Are you still happy with it or have you had any feelings of buyer's remorse?" She is, of course, referring to the tattoo.

It is a strange friendship, if that's what Lydia and Peyton are building here on their third meeting — the deep and spiritual blonde's words have the more materialistic and superficial brunette blinking in surprise and perhaps a touch of fascination. And a little bit of fear. Dark eyes flit to Cardinal, to take in his take on the mysterious tattooed woman, before Lydia addresses her.

Peyton's hand comes up to touch the back of her neck, smiling at the mention of her tattoo, answering, likely the question Cardinal probably had as to where it was. It's a bold move, to tattoo one's neck, and not quite in keeping with Peyton's usual aesthetics.

"I still love it, thanks. I've given a couple of your cards, too, so hopefully being a walking billboard will get you some business," Peyton says to Lydia. The waiter interrupts just then.

"It depends on what business you're in," Cardinal ripostes deftly, a twitch of a smile again, "As for desires… well." Catching himself getting drawn back into philosophy again, he gives his head a rueful shake, slanting a look to Peyton, then up to the waiter.

"I'll have a beer, ah, an order of the spicy tuna rolls, and a bowl of miso soup, please."

"Good. I'm glad," while it may be a simple token of genuine gratitude, there's an odd weight to the words as she addresses Peyton, "I wondered how you would feel after," the smile softens, "but then I suppose life is too short." Lydia arches both eyebrows at the young woman before her gaze flits to the waiter, a tighter, more polite smile reserved for such strangers tugs her features, "A bloody Mary, and a bowl of the miso soup, please."

Attention is drawn back to Cardinal with narrowed eyes, and a still-present smile, "And what business are you in, exactly, Mister Cardinal?"

Peyton gives her order, a crunchy roll and some sashimi, along with an apple martini that isn't very Japanese, but she's already blushing often enough without sake. She smiles at Lydia. "I don't think anyone would regret your work, unless they did something really dumb… but somehow I don't think you'd let them get something they'd regret the next day," she muses. "If I'd asked you to put Tweety Bird on my forehead, I'm pretty sure you'd talk me out of it."

Her eyes move to Cardinal's face to watch his answer, to let him field the question since it was delivered to him.

"Security," Cardinal replies without a hint of shame despite such a profession having nothing to do with philosophy, gesturing with a hand to Peyton, "Redbird Security Solutions, for all your security needs. So if you ever need your computer or business secured or anything, just give us a call…"

A grin, then, to Peyton, "I taut I taw a puddy tat?"

"I probably would have denied doing it," Lydia agrees rather honestly. "Mostly because I knew it wasn't what you wanted." The smile fails some, more wistful than merry. "But then the goal isn't always the object either. Tasks represent more than we truly know or believe." She presses her lips together as her gaze moves downward.

"So how does philosophy count as business?" But as far as security is concerned, "I'll let you know. Right now I am just a tattoo apprentice, but if I ever open up my own shop… I'll keep you in mind. And maybe someday I will have strong enough roots to warrant it." Or maybe she's already developing them.

"Yeah, can you imagine?" Peyton says with a laugh at Cardinal's impression. "I did! I did! I did tee a putty tat!" It's sort of funny, considering what she can do. "By the way, so you know that she's much better than just an apprentice…" She pulls her hair from the nape of her neck, twisting it into a hand-held ponytail before shifting so that he can see the peacock-feather tattoo that points toward the nape, the stem of the feather pointing down toward her back.

Letting her hair fall back around her shoulders, she shifts back. How does philosophy tie into their business? It doesn't — it ties into their true mission, but she'll let him answer that one, too.

Cardinal starts to answer, and then the waiter returns with their drinks - and, where appropriate, soup. A grateful smile, and he reaches for his glass of beer, bringing it up in a tip slightly towards Lydia. "What is security? Who do we need to be secure from, really… from criminals? Terrorists? The government? Ourselves? It's a very philosophical business, really."

After that complete load of bullshit, he takes a sip of his beer, brows lifting, "So — you stick to cards, or you do other fortune-telling stuff too?"

"Thank you," is murmured quietly to the waiter as the soup and beverages are served. "I'm learning, and I'm getting much better. Of course," Lydia glances at her arms, "a great deal of time around tattoos has influenced my craft and helps me understand more what can be done." Her eyes linger on one particular face tattooed there before she peels her gaze away.

She hmmms quietly as a single eyebrow arches. "I hardly think anyone hires a security company to keep out themselves, Mister Cardinal. Perhaps their own demons," she glances up at the ceiling, "maybe things they're running from, but not conventionally themselves."

Drawing her glass to her lips, she considers the question a few moments, taking extra care to be selective in her words. "I… have experience wit h other things. Crystal balls, palm reading, and the like, but tarot is where I've found my most recent niche." She pauses as her lips edge upwards, "But palm readings tend to be particularly accurate."

Peyton listens curiously, one hand tucked protectively on her lap with her napkin, the other curled around the drink just delivered, as if to hide both palms to herself — subconsciously of course. She lifts the lime-green drink to her lips, taking a sip before setting it back down. "Oh? Do you think the lines really say anything about us? I mean… the tarot cards, I understand. From what I've been told, the symbolism in the cards, it could apply to anyone, but it's just about finding the meaning that you're searching for. People are willing to accept something that the card tells them that they probably wouldn't if a friend or family or even themselves thought up, right? It makes it mysterious and interesting." She peeks a look at her own palm, letting go of the drink she sets on the table. "Lines… they seem just a matter of how your hand folds in. I don't think I believe that could really mean anything … relevant."

"I've had… one tarot reading before," admits Cardinal, thumbnail tapping against the edge of his glass a bit, "It didn't come out well, as I recall. Probably pretty accurate, then." Fatalistic? A bit. A swig of his drink's taken, and he sets down the glass, "Palm readings? Seriously?"

Lydia fights the smirk that threatens her lips, "Palm reading is more than just about lines; it's about understanding someone else." There's a pregnant pause as she chews her bottom lip and then observes, "I have had fairly good accuracy before. Not everyone is particularly accurate, but I seem to have been blessed with some measure of success." The answer is mildly cryptic, but certainly diplomatic.

Though she has one big secret, she doubts her hand would tell Lydia that. Still, Peyton is curious and also a little suspicious. There's so much emphasis on the understanding rather than on what the fates or stars or cards are trying to say. Peyton uncurls her hand from her glass once more and holds it out to Lydia, her eyes curious. "I'm a skeptic… win me over," she says, a glance thrown over to Cardinal, one eyebrow raising as she smirks at him slightly.

At the challenge from his 'date' Cardinal looks over curiously… and then back to Lydia with a questioning look, allowing with a hint of a chuckle that stirs past his lips, "Sounds like you've been challenged."

"And I rarely shy away from a challenge."

The hand is accepted and is greeted with a soft smile. "Well this line here," the fortune-teller runs her finger over it before letting her eyes meet Peyton's, "that's your life line. It's doubled. Meaning now, or some time in the past, you were not living according to your true self. A double life if you will. You live one thing but are actually another." Her eyes narrow a little as she zeroes in on this particular fold, gazing away from the other woman, "It's broken… but nothing is guaranteed. I've told you this before."

Her fingertips trace along another line, softer this time,

Lydia says, ‚ÄúThis one is your head line. You have cross within it, and while some might think this has to do with decision, I'm inclined to believe you are amidst a kind of emotional crisis…"

Peyton's hand is no longer as soft and unworked as once it was, but now, while not calloused by any means, shows signs of actual labor, from carrying boxes and painting and moving furniture and the like. She keeps her eyes down on her own palm, watching Lydia's fingers trace along the lines. The first bit gets a slight smile — it's possible anyone who knew who she used to be could compare it to the woman she is now and guess as much. The mention of it being broken, however, earns a frown.

Emotional crisis is vague — who doesn't have them at some point or another? But she frowns a little deeper. It's too vague for her to decide if Lydia's "special," but it's also fitting. "What does the break mean?" she asks quietly. "In the lifeline."

Cardinal watches - and listens - in silence as the other woman's palm is examined and spoken of, his expression intent and thoughtful.

"The break can mean anything, really. Health problems, a change in path, or…" Lydia looks up from the palm again, her eyebrows arching, "…premature death… but nothing is guaranteed. One of the reasons I am thankful that I'm not a precog." She blinks as her fingers run over the hand itself rather than particular lines. "The shape of your hand tells me you're sociable, witty, have it inside you to exude coldness, and are comfortable with the mental and intangible." She pauses as her lips purse together, "But almost fear what the intangible has to say." The palm is released as Lydia draws her own hands to her lap, "Your mistakes don't define who you are. There's more to you than the sum of them, and you don't need to pay some kind of penance or homage for being someone else."

At the talk of death, Peyton's fingers curl involuntarily, as if her hand wants to make a fist and jerk away, but Lydia holds it too gently in hers to allow that jerkish gesture. She rakes her teeth over her lower lip and frowns slightly, but nods at what is obviously meant to be soothing and kind reassurance.

When Lydia returns her hands to her lap, Peyton pulls her hand back as well — shaking just a tiny bit, though she balls it into a loose fist to cover that up. "Not bad for not being a pre-cog… though I guess a post-cog could do a good job of palm reading, too," she says with a smile, an attempt at a joke, and also an implied question — is she a post-cog?

"There isn't anything guaranteed even if you were a precog," Cardinal says in quiet tones to Lydia - or perhaps to Peyton as he catches sight of that involuntary little movement. "The future's never set in stone, no matter what. I know that one for a fact." Then they're interrupted as the waiter arrives with their meals, and he scoots some things around his part of the table.

"It's true. Nothing is guaranteed. The future changes just by looking at it," Lydia's cheeks flush a pale pink as she issues the waiter another small smile and a nod of thanks. "And I suppose post-cogs could do an excellent job at palm reading as it's not always about the future."

This is their philosophy — Cardinal's. Endgame's. Peyton believes it in the broader sense, but when it comes to her own personal future — or lack thereof — it's a different story. Peyton nods to Cardinal's words, and then Lydia's, but the faint furrow of her brow doesn't quite fade away. Luckily the food is there to distract them, and Peyton will fall into that superficial part of her personality, finding unimportant things that have nothing to do with the future or business or philosophy or fate to talk about, making sure the conversation doesn't wander from anything more serious than the quality of the soup or the latest movie to hit the theater. When the bill comes, the party of three will split, Cardinal and Peyton going their way for however short a time together before they two split for their respective homes, while Lydia goes her way.

Nothing is set in stone — between Peyton and Cardinal, they'd said it three times in one day. Nothing's guaranteed — Lydia had repeated that at least twice. When she goes to bed that night, Peyton will wonder, drifting to sleep, if it's a matter of the lady doth protest too much — by saying it over and over again…

Are they ensuring that the future ahead of them is unbreakable?

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