Only You Can Prevent Riot Fires


cardinal_icon.gif monica_icon.gif

Scene Title Only You Can Prevent Riot Fires
Synopsis When fear about her vision of the future sends Monica off balance, who better to call on for the answers than the man who knows everything?
Date July 08, 2010

Queens (after a phonecall)

Ye Random Coffee Shop


Cardinal picks up the phone after a few rings, "Talk to me."

"Rich? It's… it's Monica," says a familiar voice that sounds unfamiliarly melancholy, "Were you serious about changing the future?" No small talk tonight, it seems.

There's a pause on the other end of the line, "Monica? Yes, of course I was… apparently more than I thought…" The last an absent, dark little muttering under his breath, "…it's kind of what we do. Why?"

Monica pauses for a long moment before there's a sound that sounds suspiciously like a sob. "I didn't know who else to call. I'm sorry. I'm not trying to… blubber all over you or anything. It's just… I… I'm gonna die. In November. and I've been trying to just… live like I didn't see it, but-" Of course, he can't see, but she shakes her head there instead of finishing her sentence.

Cardinal says softly, "It's okay, it's okay… you're not the only one that saw something horrible, Monica, trust me, but it's not inevitable. None've it is. You want to— uh, you want to meet somewhere to talk?"

"Please," Monica says, her voice quieter now, but still plenty raw, "If it isn't… I mean, I know it's late…"

"I'm nocturnal by nature," Cardinal reassures her, "I sleep when it's light. Where'd you want to meet?"

"Hey, me too. By practice, though." Can't hop about moonlit rooftops in the day, after all. "Coffee? By the gym?"

"Sounds good," he agrees, "I'll meet you there."

"Thanks, Rich…" Monica says before she hangs up, presumably to get going.

There's a light on, even in the middle of the night. It happens to be a little coffee shop, the sign above the door unreadable, but there's a big picture of a cup of coffee in the window that does the job well enough. There's a few people around. A homeless guy in the corner, a couple lounging in a booth, the guy behind the counter, of course, and one lone female sitting in the back. Out of habit, she's in all black, including the hood her alter-ego has been known to wear. And she seems to be terribly interested in looking down at her coffee.

The front door of the shop doesn't open; nobody comes in. No, when Cardinal makes his appearance he's slipping out of the bathroom of the little coffee shop instead, as if he'd just appeared there. As she stares down at his coffee, he slides into the chair opposite, murmuring as he leans forward to fold both arms on the table, "Saint Joan, I presume?"

Monica looks up at the voice, then glances toward the door, which she didn't hear open, but also… has been distracted. When his words sink in, she looks upward and reaches to slide that hood off her head. "Old habits. Thanks for coming. I… To tell you the truth, I feel a little silly," she says as she rubs a hand over her face a little.

Cardinal exhales a bit of a snort, then, his head shaking slowly. "No. Nothing silly about knowing that you're going to die… trust me," he allows in rue-touched tones, "I'd sleep a lot better if I didn't know half the shit I know."

"But you still go out looking for it," Monica says with a tired, half-hearted smile. Letting out a sigh, she looks back to her coffee. "I never really… did much with religion, you know? Especially after my mom died and everything… But I think… My vision, it was all black, you know? And then… right at the end? There was this light? And a voice. I couldn't make out what he said… but I couldn't… feel anything. No body. No breathing… you know what I mean?"

"I was raised by nuns," Cardinal admits, "I doubt that it's the light I'll be seeing when that time comes, though. But yeah, I've been… pretty close to dead before, myself. I thought I was, really, for awhile there." He thought he was dead for awhile?

Really, most people would have a reaction there. Shock… maybe thinking he was kidding, but Monica just sort of looks at him for a moment, "Telepath messing with you?" It's probably her first guess of many. "If it's any consolation, you look pretty good for having been dead a while," she says this with a crooked smile.

"Oh… no. I absorbed a nuclear bomb." It's said offhandedly, one shoulder raising in a shrug, and then Cardinal's lips twitch in a rueful half-smile of his own, "Thanks. I didn't, for awhile. Didn't look like much of anything."

There it is. Monica's eyebrows lift and her eyes widen before she lets out a whistle. "For goodness sake, you say that like you're talking about the weather. Was that one of your… changing the future moments?" She tips her head a little as he goes on, then reaches across the table to rub his arm a moment. "Life's crazy."

"Yeah." Cardinal's smile fades, his head shaking slowly, "I've seen shit you wouldn't believe, seriously, Monica. Just— hell, I was there, and even I don't believe some of it. Still…" He flashes a grin, "…at least I learned that I'm really hard to kill. Anyway. You probably don't have anything to worry about."

"Yeah, you and me, both. I mean… what kind of life is it where you're in class one minute, and the next you're watching videos of sniper rifles so you can go commando on a boat? Seriously." Monica shakes her head, but she looks back up at him at those last words. "I don't know… I think it was a fire. I got the sense it was a fire. I don't want to die in a fire, Rich. Any other death. Please. Just… can you see what you can do about changing my future? I don't want to die."

"The one good piece of news is… after so many visions, the future's basically been tossed in a blender," Cardinal says quietly, seriously, meeting her gaze, "So many people are going to act on them that there isn't much chance of them happening. We are working to gather as much information as we can to fix things, and we have something of a guide-map too…"

Leaning in some, Monica lifts her eyebrows again. "You have a guide-map? Really? Can I… I mean, would it be okay? If you told me? Of course, there's very little chance I won't charge right into danger anyway, it's a bad habit, but maybe I can… figure out how to get back out of it again."

"It's not so much a matter of telling you, it's somewhat visual, and we're still building it," admits Cardinal with a slight shake of his head, "Do you— you were a firebird, I'm sure you've heard of Hiro Nakamura?"

"Ooh, really? It's like an actual map map." But, at those last words, Monica's expression becomes hard to read and she lifts just one eyebrow this time. "Yeah, of course. Why?"

"Apparently, he'd developed a sort of… art, to it," Cardinal explains haltingly, hands parting a bit from each other as if to show off something between them, "To making a map of time so you can predict events and how to alter them." His fingers drop back towards each other, and he admits dryly, "I'm not great with it, but I'm learning. And I have the work of someone who did understand the string theory to work off."

Monica chuckles there, turning her coffee between her hands. "Why am I not surprised." But, she does look interested, at least, her gaze even flicking to the 'lines' between his hands. "So you build a timeline. A tangible one. And you pay attention to the things that might… make things go differently. Is it really strings?" She asks with a crooked smile.

"Oh, yes." Cardinal's lips twitch wry, "You'd be surprised at my organization's yarn budget."

"I see your smart ass budget is generous, too," Monica says, picking up an empty sugar packet to ball up and toss at him.

As the packet's tossed at him, Cardinal raises his hands as if to defend himself, grinning like the smart-ass he is. "Hey, hey, uncle…" His hands drop back, and he shakes his head, "Anyway. If you'd like to help out…"

Monica folds her hands back around her cup, and she looks over at him with a hint of a wry smile. "If I say yes… do I actually get to know what your organization is?"

"You know what it is," Cardinal replies with a shrug of one shoulder, smile tugged up at the corner of his lips, "We do what we can… to fix what's coming. We've got people and contacts in every major group out there, and we… well. We do what we can." He rubs against his forehead a bit, "We don't always succeed. And sometimes what we have to do isn't pretty."

"I know what you do, I know Niki helps out. What about… other people? Surely it's not just the two of you? And headquarters? Are there meetings? Is everybody kept separate? You know?" Monica gets a more serious expression at those last words. "Nobody wins all the time. And… I was a firebird. I was also a Pariah. Until Cameron… well, you know." Or she assumes he does. "I don't always like it, but he did a lot in teaching me that sometimes… things have to be done."

"Sometimes they do." Cardinal shakes his head slightly, "And no, it's not just us two. There're more of us in constant regular contact, and there're even more — peripheral agents than even they know of." A drum of his fingers to the table, "The storm more or less ruined our previous headquarters, we're having a new one built, setting up a security and investigations company as a front."

"Security, that I can do. Does that mean I'd be able to quit the restaurant or is a paycheck not part of the cover?" Monica seems to be teasing there, though, what with her crooked smile. "I just… doing the masked vigilante thing, it didn't end very well for me and my family. But sitting back and doing nothing isn't my style, either. In fact, it drives me a little crazy. So. I find myself at a sort of crossroads, you know? Looking ahead at a vision of dying and trying to pick the path that gets me out of it alive."

"We can probably work something out…" A chuckle at the question, though Cardinal does seem serious, letting it trail off as he looks back to her with a serious nod, "There's a… balance there, between the two extremes. That's the argument I've been having with those crazy bastards in Messiah, and White's people before them. We have to move quietly, in the background, as much as we can. We can't just blow up everything in sight, but we can't hide in a hole and pretend it's not happening, either."

"Maybe you should consider the crazy bastards a distraction for you to work behind." Monica takes a moment to actually drink her coffee, crisis passed for the moment. "What would you… want me to do? To help. I'm sort of a jack of all trades sort of girl… but there are things I won't do. Lines… I can't cross. Those lines are where I'd try to teach Cameron to stay human in all this. It seems too easy to get lost."

At that, Cardinal's lips twitch in a bit of a smile. "What makes you think I don't? They certainly do a good job at it — but they're going to cross the line. I don't think they really understand what they're doing…" A sigh as he leans back, "I'm not going to try'n claim there isn't blood on my hands, but I try to keep it to a minimum. It's too easy to do otherwise."

"Maybe they don't. But you can't stop fanatics, Rich. You might be able to distract them, but only as long as it takes to get fanatical about something else. You have to take away their motivation. Problem is, there's too much to be motivated about these days." Monica shrugs a shoulder a little before she echoes his sigh. "Well, who doesn't? But, yeah… as minimal blood as possible would be nice."

"I might be willing to make the hard decisions, but… I hope I don't have to turn into a monster to get things done," Cardinal says with a slight shake of his head, "I've got lines too. The ends may justify the means sometimes, but not all the time."

Monica smiles just a bit, soft and maybe a little sad. "How about if you start turning, I'll slap you around a little and get you back to your senses? I've got practice there, too."

"You'll have to get in line," Cardinal exhales a bit of a chuckle, although there's a… edge there that's hard to identify, a shadow passing through his manner as he allows quietly, "I can probably use more, though. Anyway. If you want, I can get some people together and introduce you, talk about what we do and everything…?"

"Oh, goodness, is there a line? Can I cut in front of Niki? She's a tough act to follow." Monica looks down at her coffee again, thoughtful. Pondering. "Yeah… that seems like a good starting place. I just… I don't want people coming after my family because of me anymore. But I can't just sit by and watch."

"No offense, but I don't think Jessica really cares how far I go," observes Cardinal in wry tones, pushing himself up to his feet and offering a hand and a rogue's smile, "Let's see what we can do about that, then. I'll give you a call and introduce you to a few people… and see about making sure that November Eighth is a very different day when it happens."

"Well, sure. But Niki would. Is she…" Monica doesn't seem to know how to phrase the question on her mind, but there's still an expectant look send Cardinal's way. He's a mindreader, right? :D When he stands, she stands, too, and takes that hand with a firm grip. "Alright. Maybe a November eighth with less fire. I can get on board with that."

There's no psychic tunes there, or maybe Cardinal just doesn't want to answer the question - because it lets it go. A firm clasp in return, and he grins, "I think we can arrange for that. Go home, get some sleep. The future's ours…"

He turns, heading for the door, "…if we just think to take hold've the wheel and turn."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License