Should've Called Sooner


cardinal_icon.gif claire_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif

Scene Title Should've Called Sooner
Synopsis Cardinal finally calls Claire to try and get her home again, but he seems to be a little too late and has to call in a favor to get her back.
Date October 01, 2010

Over Phones

The sun's beginning to go down on the city, the light that seeps through the drawn blinds that cover the windows of Richard Cardinal's office darkening minute by minute. The man himself sits behind the desk, regarding the phone in his hand with a haunted and guilty expression while there's no-one there to see.

After a few long moments, he snaps the phone open, thumb skimming down the screen to find Claire's name on the list, and then he taps it twice, bringing it up to his ear.

Sitting in the shifting sands of the boat graveyard, eyes somewhat distant not even looking at warm colors of the oncoming setting sun. Strands of dark hair drift across her face, but don't seem to bother Claire Bennet. Next to her, shoved into the sand is a knife, bits of sand clinging to the blade.

The thing that pulls her out of whatever is going on in her head is the ringing of her cellphone. There is blink as she pulls back into the present. She sighs with annoyance when she realizes what she's hearing and digs for the small flip phone. Any annoyance is wiped off when she sees the name and she's quickly moving to flip the phone open.

"Richard?!" There is a hurried, somewhat excited quality to her tone, like someone whose waited too long for this very moment.

"Hey, Claire…" There's a gentle tone to Cardinal's voice, hesitant, "…sorry I haven't called you in too long. I'd make an excuse, but the truth is— I should've called you sooner. There's no excuse. I— Peter told me you aren't doing so well."

Claire's chest hurts a little, but she doesn't let it reach her eyes, even though it wants too. "Peter told you?" Her tone goes a touch flat, disappointed but more then likely not at Cardinal himself. But she doesn't say more for a long moment, head dropping forward, letting dark hair slide off her shoulders and fall like a curtain around her face. "I'm remembering it all. Everything Gregor did." Fingers tuck the long lengths behind an ear on one side. "All of it." It's whispered in hushed and haunted tones.

"The - the nightmares are worse now. I don't like sleeping — I don't if can help it." Words catch and and start again, that pain in Claire's chest becoming a lump in her throat.

"Gillian, too." A breath's drawn in, exhaled, and Cardinal says quietly, "I know. I'm getting you out of there, you don't need to be going through the sort of shit that Messiah's putting you through right now - you need to be around people who care about you." He takes a breath, and then exhales it with a subtle tremor to it, "We need to get you some help."

"No!" The word is said quickly and there is an edge of panic to it, which is odd for Claire. "I — I can't leave." Now her visions is blurring with tears and he can probably hear it in her voice. "Don't you see… Messiah is going to make all this better. It's — It's my fault all this is happening to everyone… Apollo… registration." Words choke in the back of her throat.

"All of it is my fault. Messiah is gonna fix it, I have to help." Oh yes, someone has been playing with the regenerator's head. "I have to be here, Richard."

"Claire." Cardinal's voice turns rather sharp, "Claire, I want you to focus… and listen to me. Just to me, don't think about anything other than my words, all right? Just take a moment, take a breath, relax and clear your mind. Can you do that for me?"

He can hear the catch and hurried breathing of a young woman on the edge of crying. "W-why?" She asks suspiciously, but she's at least no rambling on. Claire swallows, drawing her knees up to rest her forehead on. "There is so much going on in my head, it's hard to make it stop." There is a sniffle, but she falls silent.

"I know," says Cardinal in firm tones, his every word carefully chosen and pronounced, "Do you trust me, Claire? I need you to trust me, and just focus on my voice, just for a minute here…"

"You know I do. I—" Claire trails off, he can almost hear the fact she's furrowed her brow. The next thing he hears, might be a bad thing, "I think…?" She sounds so confused, like her mind is a jumbled mess.

There is a moment, before she murmurs, "I'm listening."

"Your mind has been… altered," Cardinal informs her in a quiet but steady voice, "Someone has been making you do things and believe things. You cannot trust your immediate impulses. Your ability should overcome it in time… but… for right now, I need you to come home, Claire."

There is a pain expression on Claire's face, even if it is hidden from the world by hair and knees. "You don't understand." The words seemed almost forced, "If — if I had shot Peter that day, we wouldn't be going through all this." There is so much guilt there. "Messiah will put a stop to the registration… I'm — I'm gonna help kill —" She stops then, biting her lip painfully, before she says anymore.

"I have to do this." The words whispered fiercely, by Claire into that phone. "I have to put right, what I did wrong. I should of never run to Paris." Emotions are filling her voice now, making the words thick in her throat. "I am so sorry I did all this. I'm sorry I caused all this, cause I failed to do what Peter begged me to do."

"I can help you fix all of this," Cardinal replies - a little sharply at first, and then he manages to even out his voice, imploring, "Peter agreed with me that you should come home, Claire. If you didn't listen to him then… listen to him now."

There is a struggle going on, Cardinal can't see it. Between the desire to go home and what she's being made to believe. Finally, Claire makes a pained sound at the back of her throat. "I can't!" She finally cries out, tears sliding down her cheeks. "Rupert said this is the only way to fix things. You'll see!" And as fast as she had flipped that phone open, Claire flips it shut with a soft sob.

It tears at the poor girls heart, but she's doing what she feels what's thinks and she knows in her heart Cardinal will see the truth soon enough. Claire will show him.

The sudden silence on the other end of the line is answered with silence, and Cardinal stares at the phone for a long moment… and then he slams the phone down on the desk. "God damn it," he breathes out, leaning back in the seat with a soft creak, both hands lifting up to cover his face, "I swear to god, I'm going to kill that son of a bitch…"

After a few minutes of silence, Cardinal leans forward once more, sweeping the phone back up in his hand and snapping it open - searching through the contact list, he clicks on one of the names there, leaning back with it against the side of his head, scowling into the darkness of his office.

Somewhere, in the pocket of a heavy autumn jacket, there comes a tinny contradanza. The other end picks up after a ring or two, the voice on the other end both times unmistakable and possibly unmatchable. Huruma doesn't sound like she was busy, but it does, at first, sound as if she weren't expecting to be called. For some reason or another. A low puff of breath precedes any speech.

"Jambo, stranger."

"Huruma." Richard Cardinal's voice is a bit tense, but of course he probably wouldn't be calling with any sort of good news. Still, even when matters are serious he doesn't ordinarily let it be heard in his voice. "I need… a favor. It's for a mutual friend, sort of." As much as she has friends.

The ambient sounds of whatever it was that Huruma was doing can be heard in the background on Cardinal's receiver. Crunching, a pause- a soft, almost out of place rustle, another pause. "It mus'be important, if you are asking a favor of me." She has no illusion that she is his favorite person, though as of late she sure has been getting a shiny reputation for giving out favors. Not surprised. "Who might this be about?"

"And why am I th'one you are calling for it?"

"Because you were in Madagascar." Cardinal draws a slow breath in, and then exhales against the phone's reciever, "It's Claire… her ability's, ah, restoring her memories. Everything that Gregor did." A pause, "And at the same time, Rupert's convinced her that everything is her fault, the bomb, registration, everything. I need to get her home, but she won't come in willingly."

Huruma doesn't answer him immediately, considering his words in relative silence, with only that ominous and feather-light background noise to keep her company. "I'ave about had it up to here wit'him." She practically growls this into the phone, the timbre of her voice wavering in seething breath. "If I didn'need him, I would rip him apart…"

"If I get her t'you, what do you plan t'do?"

"Make her comfortable and get her some help," Cardinal says quietly, "It might do her some good to see her father, too, so I can set that up… her brain'll recover on its own, but with the repeated trauma, it's only going to keep getting worse until we get her away from it. I mean, Christ, apparently Gillian found her cutting herself up with a fucking knife. If we don't get her out of there, she's going to go completely insane."

"It is a funny thing, when w'see what is normal an'th'outside world already sees deteriorating mental health…" Claire technically already was nutty, according to Huruma. Though she sounds more musing than convicted in this. "So you are only asking for this? Take Claire, bring her t'you?" If Claire exploded this might be harder, but as it stands- Huruma is literally twice her size, and this sounds like the least difficult thing to be asked to do. Been there, done that.

"Please. You aren't even going against the red scarves - I told Peter that I was going to bring her home, and he didn't have any problem with it," Cardinal replies, his voice tired, one hand rubbing against the side of his face, "Just bring her home. I'll owe you one."

"I was no'concerned about him. Or them." Huruma amends, however tentatively. "I can tell tha'she obviously means something t'you, your people. Where do you want me t'take her? Redbird?"

Cardinal replies simply, "She's one of mine. I take care of my people, Huruma. Yeah… that'd do just fine. We've got empty apartments, we can put her up in one of them."

"An'what if sh'gets back out?" Huruma's questions are not so much belligerent as they are careful- she doesn't want to turn into a dog-catcher.

"We'll take care of it," Cardinal says to that, "I'm not going to keep sending you after her, you're not a bounty hunter… once she's in our custody we'll take care of her."

"I will see what I can do for you, Richard. Hopefully, something, as you'ave taken th'time an'effort t'call me about this." Huruma sounds honest, at least. "If for whatever reason I cannot get her, I will call you back about why."

"Thank you." A breath's taken, exhaled, and Cardinal admits quietly, "I appreciate it. I owe you one."

"I will keep that in mind." He can hear Huruma smiling. Either out of amusement, or out of contentment, that isn't clear. "Have a good evening, Richard." She leaves him only a couple of seconds to direct the same to her, if he so pleases, before she hangs up.

Looks like she has a cheerleader to wrangle, doesn't it?

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