Nothing Is Inevitable


cardinal_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif

Scene Title Nothing Is Inevitable
Synopsis Cardinal comes bearing a touching gift and Peyton reveals what she saw n her future while the two discuss changing the past.
Date September 18, 2010

Upper East Side Peyton's Apartment

The apartment which Cardinal has let himself into is empty — no Peyton, which is to be expected, perhaps, but the little red pup is missing as well, which suggests that the two are out on a walk. Outside, it's clear and cool, which makes for perfect weather for a stroll in Central Park, complete with a little coffee break by the duck pond and listening to a reggae band busk near the entrance before crossing Park Avenue to return to her building.

It's early evening when the keys jangle and metal turns in metal in the lock, the door opening before puppy feet scrabble on the hardwood floor as Von notices immediately that someone he knows has entered the apartment since he and his mistress left it. Peyton drops his leash before closing the door, her eyes cast downward on envelopes in her hands as she looks for anything interesting in the mail that she picked up from her mailbox. No paper cranes for her — her crane letter's message was instead given in person two nights before.

"It's just me," Richard's voice lifts from the living room, "Before you start wondering who's broken into your apartment or anything…"

Unlike most burglars, he doesn't even need to turn on the lights so he can see what he's doing. He's currently sprawled back on the couch, legs stretched out and something three or four feet tall with a big cloth draped over it standing on the coffee table.

Her breath catches in her throat, and her dark eyes widen as she glances toward the living room. "Jesus," she says with a little laugh, the shakiness revealing that he did in fact startle her. Peyton tosses the envelopes onto the dining room table as she makes her way to the living room, unbuttoning her lightweight peacoat and tossing it on the arm of a chair.

She glances at him, then the draped object, then back to him, and tilts her head. "Sorry I didn't go to work yesterday," she says quietly, dropping into the chair across from the couch. "Had some stuff to deal with." She nods to the thing on her coffee table, and raises a brow. "What's this?"

"Don't worry about it…" Cardinal pushes himself up to sit straighter, leaning forward to rest both folded arms on his knees as he offers her a wry and tired smile, "…we all have stuff to deal with now'n then." He pulls off his shades, fingers rubbing at his eyes, "Sorry for dropping in like this, I, uh— " He gestures with the glasses to the object, "— that thing's technically stolen, so I didn't want to drive it around freely. It's a present."

"A … present. And stolen goods… are you trying to get me arrested?" she teases, but the smile she bestows on him shows she is touched, even not knowing what it is. She stands, glancing at him to check if it's all right, before her fingers find the edge of the cloth to peel it back from the sculpture.

When Peyton sees what lies beneath, her face crumples, brows drawing together and lips parting. Those dark eyes fill with tears and she reaches to touch one of the outstretched hands, her own hand shaking slightly. It's clear she's seen it before, and she turns to look at him, shaking her head in some confusion. "What… how—?"

"It went up for auction at that art thing over at d'Sarthe's… some rich douchebag bought it," says Cardinal in quiet tones, watching her face with a serious expression, "I figured she would've preferred you had it than some dickhead with more money'n brains anyway, so I swiped it for you."

"More money than brains might be a description of me, but thank you," Peyton says softly, a tear slipping free and running down her face. She hastily wipes her eyes, not wanting him to think she's upset in any way at the very touching gesture. Suddenly, she moves across the small space between them to give him a hug and quick kiss on the cheek.

Meanwhile, Von has scrambled up on the sofa to accost Cardinal at the same time, his paws on Card's shoulder as he maneuvers himself to lick the man's face on the opposite side, making for a tag-team attack of owner and pet.

At her self-depreciation, Cardinal rolls his eyes. "Oh, fuckin' hush. You're smart as hell, woman…" Then she's over there, and he reaches an arm up to return the hug one-armed, murmuring questioningly, "So, you like it… ack — hey — "

As he's being licked at, he grins, pulling away from the puppy a bit and bringing his other hand up to ruffle at soft little ears, "Didn't want to get left out, huh, pal?"

Peyton laughs at the dog and reaches to help push the half-grown dog off Cardinal before she sits on the sofa and nods to the sculpture. Her eyes get a faraway look in them, though not so far away as they are when she's using her power. She swallows.

"It's about me," she whispers, reaching to touch the hands again. "About my manifestation. She said I inspired her, and she made this. It used to be in her apartment. She didn't want to sell it. I wonder … I guess her family gave it to them to auction?" Her scowl furrows a little deeper at that, and she shakes her head. The thought of someone who didn't understand the piece or its origins bothers her more than she can put in words.

She turns back to him and smiles. "Thank you again."

Cardinal doesn't seem to mind the puppy-licking too much, anyway, wiping his face with an amused little chuckle once it's down and then slanting a look back to her - watching her expression with a faint smile as she looks at the sculpture, as she explains what it means.

"I didn't realize," he admits, looking back to it, "I just knew— well. I knew that Wendy made it. And you two were close. And I didn't like the guy that bought it." Wry, "No need to thank me."

The puppy clambers over Cardinal to lie between the two humans on the couch, resting his little muzzle on Peyton's lap. Peyton's hands slide through the coppery-hued fur. "Well, if you didn't like the guy, all the more reason to appreciate it. I'd hate for it to be in some guy's office just as, like, a conversation piece for people who don't get it," Peyton murmurs.

"So, actually, I had something to talk to you about," she begins, an awkward change of subject. "I guess you know about this group of people trying to go back and screw with the past? And that there are people — Hiro Nakamura, for one — trying to stop them?"

"The only reason he even bid on it was to stick it to me," Cardinal admits, tossing his shades finally onto the table and dropping his hand to stroke the puppy's haunches, watching the tiny canine with a faint smile, "Fifty grand thrown away just so he could act all impressive in front of everyone…"

There's a pause, and then he nods, not looking up. "Yeah," he murmurs, "I know. He call on you too?"

"A kid did. A boy — maybe 16 or 17 I think? — named Rhys said you knew already, so I could tell you," Peyton replies, frowning a little. "He was nice. He was supposed to just leave me a paper crane I guess, from Hiro, but he said he didn't feel right doing that, since it was personal."

Her eyes lift from the dog's fur to Cardinal's eyes, her own a little conflicted and confused as she makes eye contact with him. "What did he ask you to go back and do?" she asks, in a very quiet voice. Her own task is so painfully personal that to ask him what he is supposed to do seems a horribly private and personal thing to ask.

"Rhys?" Cardinal's brow furrows a little as he looks up to her, the name clearly unfamiliar, "I don't have any idea who that is…" As she looks to him, he turns his head away, not making eye contact save for a brief, fleeting touch that shows his own conflicted expression - or is that a little bit of fear?

"Take Niklaus back, save the Zimmermans, I guess," he admits quietly, "I don't— I don't know why he needs me, too. I'm going to tell him to just take Nik."

That duck makes Peyton frown and forces a shiver running down her spine. Cardinal, brave and stalwart Cardinal, is afraid. She swallows and nods. "Don't go if you don't want to," she murmurs quietly. "If I can … if it's something I can help with, I'll go for you, instead. I'm … you're more important than me in this time."

She glances back down to Von, scritching his fox-like ears, and the dog lets out a heavy, contented sigh.

"Rhys Bluthner." She supplies the last name, in case it means anything. "He … apparently someone's going to try to kill Winslow. Rhys told me to go back and take the time to get to know him." There is a tremor at the end of her words, and she closes her eyes again.

After a deep breath, she adds, "I said I would."

"Good." Cardinal looks back over to her, reaching a hand up to rest on her shoulder as her voice grows unsteady — his fingers squeezing there firmly, reassuringly, lingering after the squeeze as he says quietly, "You deserve to get a chance to know him. He… loved you a lot, you know."

She nods, though there is still confusion on her face. "It'd be just for me, though. I … they'll wipe his memory or something, to make sure that they don't screw up our future. So it'd be … it'd be just for me, to get to know him, but he wouldn't remember it. He won't know that I was ever there," she says quietly.

Peyton reaches up to squeeze the hand that squeezes her shoulder, lingering just a moment before she drops her hand back onto Von's red fur. "Would it be less selfish to just make sure he doesn't die, however I need to do that, and get out of there? I mean, they'll still have to wipe his memory, because…" she shrugs, shaking her head before rubbing her eyes. "Ugh, this time stuff hurts my head."

"Pey…" Cardinal's head shakes slowly from side to side, his fingers brushing against hers as her hand reaches up to where his is, "…after all the— the shit I've put you through, the times you've been captured, the— fucking horrific things I've made you see, you haven't asked for anything. I think you deserve a little bit of selfishness."

The left corner of her mouth quirks upward into a soft, half smile, and she gives a shrug. "I don't ask you for anything, Richard, because I already owe you. You helped me with Wendy, and you practically died to save us all, and you gave me a purpose that I never had before," she says, her eyes darting toward his face before dropping again.

"And I have years of selfishness to make up for. I'm just climbing back into the black now, to use bookkeeping terms," she says wryly.

"I think you can get away with dipping down now'n then." A gentle push to her shoulder, and Richard's hand drops down to rest back on his thigh as he teases lightly, "That's an order, if I have to. Thou shalt take the chance to know your father."

His gaze tracks back over, settling to the sculpture, and he's silent for a moment before admitting, "I ran into him on Staten Island. The guy that… killed Wendy."

The smile spreads to the other side at his direct order, and she gives a slight nod. It's obviously something she wants, and yet she doesn't want to allow herself to want it. What if he doesn't like me? she wants to ask, but his words interrupt that self-conscious query.

Peyton's eyes widen and she wraps her arms around herself. "He… he's still around? I hoped maybe — the storm, or … I don't know. I hoped maybe he left," she whispers.

"No." Cardinal leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees, his head falling forward to regard the carpet between his feet, "Samson Grey… it's Gabriel's father, apparently. Makes sense. Same ability. I tried to kill him…" A hand lifts, scratches at the side of his head as he admits wryly, "Didn't do very good."

Then he says, softly, "He knew me."

Her eyes widen more, having met Gabriel, to know that it was his father who killed Wendy — though at one point, they had thought it was Gabriel. She shivers again. "Knew you?" she echoes, tilting her head to try to see his face, but Von lifts his own head to lap at her face instead. She wipes her nose and pushes the dog off the couch, and the red pup goes to curl up on his dog bed in the corner of the room, heaving another sorrowful sigh.

"How does he know who you are? Does he have a power that … " she trails off, not liking that idea. "God, be careful… what does he know about you?"

"Apparently," Cardinal says, gaze raising to the sculpture and visible only in profile to her own concerned look, "He claims to've killed me in ninteen seventy-seven."

"What?" is the sharp and concerned question that squeaks from Peyton's throat, but then suddenly it all becomes clear. "Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Is that when you're supposed to go back — to help the Zimmermans with Niklaus? Is this Samson Gray guy, is he one of the guys trying to change history? Is he the one who's trying to kill my father?" The questions fall without any space between them, without any room to answer them as she reaches to lay a hand on his arm, trying to peer into his face.

"Don't go, Card. They can find someone else — this Hiro guy, he can do it, if he knows so much, they don't need you to risk yourself. You're too important. We can't lose you again." Her voice cracks on the last word and she lets go of his arm to push herself off from the sofa, turning her back on him so he won't see her tears.

The questions are asked, but Cardinal doesn't have any answers to complete them. Question marks falling like rain through an uncaring sky. As her hand touches his arm, he looks half-way up to regard her, his expression guarded and — worried. That was fear earlier, a glimpse through the roguish facade, fear that he'll die before he was even born.

"I'm not planning on dying if I have anything to say about it," he says in quiet but firm tones, "I'm going to confront the little time-travelling twerp about this one. I'm not going back if it's just to die."

Her heart feels like it might break, to see that fear on her hero's face, and the tears fall while her back is to him. She holds her arms around herself tightly, and she breathes deeply for a moment, willing herself calmer before she attempts to speak.

"I am supposed to meet him on Monday," she whispers. "Hiro. Do you want me to ask him anything? Tell him what you're worried about?"

A push up from the sofa, and he steps after her, Cardinal's hand sliding over her shoulder. "I shouldn't've said anything," he curses himself quietly, "No, I'll… talk to him on Wednesday. If something does happen, though, Pey…"

She breathes deeply, her eyes down on the ground in front of her, unseeing through a veil of tears. "Don't go. Nothing will happen to you if you don't go. Let me go for you. It won't matter if something happens to me. You're too important. And I can't lose you twice." Her shoulders hitch under his hand, and she laughs without humor. "Don't be mad at yourself for saying something. I'm glad you did." The irony of that statement doesn't register. Yet.

"You keep saying that," Cardinal says with a rough exhalation of breath, derisive of her self-derision, "You don't have any idea how much you help me, Pey… christ, without you we'd be doing a whole lot worse'n we are, and I'd never have gotten the business up and running either. Shit, if anything happens to me, I'm counting on you to help pick up the pieces…"

Her brows furrow together and she whirls around to face him, fear in her face. "Counting on me?" she whispers, and she shakes her head vehemently, running a hand from her bangs through her hair, distraught at the very thought of being counted on. "Oh, God. I don't… I don't want to let you down."

It's not just her self-deprecating nature that makes her doubt herself, though, and she takes a deep breath as she stares down at her feet for a moment, before lifting her tearful gaze back to his face. She shakes her head again. "I never told you what I saw that day on the subway," she whispers and takes a shuddering breath. A myriad of fears flash through her mind, not the least that he may be angry that she kept this from him.

"I saw… I saw myself die, Card. I know we're trying to keep those things from happening, but I think it will, and I won't be here to pick up the pieces of anything."

"Wait… what?" The sudden turn on him, the revelation, takes Cardinal aback - he was preparing to stand off her latest wave of self-directed insults and put downs, not deal with her apparent belief that she's a dead woman walking.

A hand lifts to brush against her cheek, cradling it as he looks down to her stricken expression with a concerned look of his own - and he chuckles at her, actually laughs softly, "No way in hell're we going to let that happen, Pey. Christ. Why didn't you tell me?"

Her eyes close and she breathes deeply, taking some comfort in the touch of his hand on her tearstained face. She swallows audibly. When her eyes open again, they slide away from his face.

"I didn't want to burden you with something else to worry about. You have too much, and whatever you saw…" Peyton shrugs, not sure how to answer the question in any way that will satisfy him. "I didn't think you could change it, and I'll do what I can to try to, but I … I guess I think it's going to happen, one way or another. It might not be the 8th of November, but it feels like it'll happen sometime."

She manages to talk about the belief it will happen with enough calm that it's clear she's thought through it a few times.


Cardinal's expression becomes quite serios as he looks down to her, "Peyton, I want you to listen to me very, very carefully here, all right? Look at me. Are you listening?"

Her dark eyes slide back to his face, solemn and wide. For the moment, they are clear of tears, though her long black lashes still glitter with the last batch and her cheeks are still stained by the salty tracks of those already shed. Peyton nods, her eyes dropping again, before she murmurs, "I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner." Her gaze rises again, and she waits for his words.

The shadowman's gloved hands rest on her shoulders lightly, his gaze serious as he meets her tear-stained eyes, lips pursed in a thin line. Then one hand lifts and very purposefully Gibbs-slaps her on the back of the head.

"What the fuck are you doing," he asks her, sharply, "Giving up? What, you're just going to lay down and die, after everything we've been working towards? Our entire god-damned… thing is changing the future, and you're, what, going all emo-goth on me?" He pulls back, looking around, "Where is it. Where's the journal full of bad poetry about your inevitable demise?"

Her eyes narrow a little at the barb, and she breaks away from his hold on her shoulders, turning away with anger, though it's more inwardly directed. "It's not like that. I'm not sitting around feeling sorry for myself. I'm trying to make sure I do some good things before I die, trying to make sure I don't leave people picking up pieces after me."

Her voice is carefully guarded, though her shoulders shake.

"It's not just seeing myself get killed in a riot or something, Cardinal. That sort of thing, I can avoid that. And like I said, it probably won't be on the 8th. I don't think it will be now, because that day can't be the way we all saw it, too much has changed because we saw it, but he promised he'd kill me, and I'm pretty sure he'll manage it somehow. Maybe not in November. Maybe before, maybe after."

"Because he…" A pause, and Cardinal's gaze cuts back to her face sharply, "…waitaminute, this is why the Cowboy came to ask me about fucking Danko, isn't it? Because you saw him kill you on the eighth?"

Wes. Peyon's eyes close and she rubs her forehead before nodding. "He wasn't supposed to say shit about that. But I was drunk and upset and somehow I babbled all about that and he's got a big mouth. Speaking of mouths, thanks for telling Doc Brennan that I was sorry. He sent flowers and a message about shadows having loose tongues," she says with a soft chuckle. It is a genuine thank you; she's not angry at Cardinal for talking to Brennan.

Those eyes open again and she looks back at him. "I know nothing's for sure in the future, Card. I believe in what we do, I do, and I know it's hypocritical or something to feel this way, but the way my path crosses his, it just feels…" her face crumples, and she brings one hand up to cover her eyes, trying to press those tears that want to fall back into her skull…


"Nothing is inevitable."

It's said with the hard, almost desperate conviction of a man whose entire life is based - these days - around that very idea, around refusing to accept what will be and instead crafting a new tomorrow. Cardinal drops one hand back to her shoulder, his other hand lifting up to brush the hair away from her face, palm cradling her cheek as he looks down to her. "If I can't save one life," he says quietly, "Then why'm I even doing this?"

"You're right," she whispers, her eyes apologetic. "You're right. I just didn't think, and I didn't want to worry you. It was stupid of me to keep it from you. I just… I didn't want you to try to stop him. If something happened to you — if you tried to stop him and something happened to you, Card, I would never forgive myself."

Peyton takes a deep breath. "Please don't go back to 1977 though — is there any other way you can stop these people? Do we know who they are?"

"I survived a nuclear bomb," Cardinal replies with false bravado, exhaling a snort of breath, "I'm not scared of some bald poof with a gun."

He leans forward to rest his forehead against hers, murmuring there with noses nearly touching, "I'll talk to Hiro and… find out. I'll see what I can do. If the future's flexible… the past should be too."

"If the past wasn't flexible, we wouldn't be in any danger," Peyton says, frowning a little at the thought before reaching her arms up to wrap around him. She hugs him suddenly, tightly, and exhales a long, shivery sigh. The burden she's carried since June has suddenly been lifted. It's a strange lightness that she isn't used to.

"This time travel stuff hurts my head. How can people just …undo things? I mean — we're murdering the futures we don't like, but they might be murdering the present — if they kill Winslow…" she shivers again in his arms, "I won't even be born."

"Then I guess you're going to have to stop that from happening," Cardinal lifts his head just a little bit to look down to her, crooking a smile, "Aren't you? If Hiro's picked you for this, then… he knows you can do it. Maybe this is just what you need to realize what you're capable of, Pey." His arms curling loosely around her in return, a light embrace as he adds wryly, "Maybe do a couple rounds in the firing range tomorrow, though."

"Taskmaster," Peyton tosses playfully, a smile finally gracing her features once more. "But okay. I will." Whether the agreement is to the gun practice or stopping her father's murder is unclear.

She tips her head to kiss his cheek quickly, then steps back out of the hug. "Thank you. And don't you dare go back to the past without telling me, okay? I mean… just in case. And if I cease to exist on Monday — wait. If I cease to exist… will you even remember this conversation? I … I don't understand how this works." Her brows knit and she rubs her head. "I should have paid more attention in science class."

Like they teach quantum physics in high school.

As she steps back, Cardinal lets her, dropping back down to stand beside the scupture — reaching out to brush his fingers over the bronze as he chuckles under his breath, "I don't know how it works either, Pey. The future? I can deal with that. The past… not so much."

"I guess we have to figure it out soon. Or at least, I do," Peyton says wryly, her eyes following his hands to the sculpture, smiling again at the sweet gesture of rescuing her friend's work from someone unworthy of owning it. In a way, it's like he rescued her, since the spirit of the piece is about her, in a way.

"All right. You, me, and guns tomorrow. Sounds like a good time," she says with a smirk. "Nine o'clock? I'll bring the coffee and bagels."

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