Sometimes It Is Just Coffee


cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Sometimes It Is Just Coffee
Synopsis … although often there are other purposes.
Date Jan 18, 2011

Piece o' Cake Bakery

The quick text was nothing out of the ordinary. Meet me for coffee, babe? Hadley's place. He'll know the bakery, even though Mrs. Hadley passed away well over a year ago and it passed into other hands. Still, it's convenient to Red Hook and public enough to not draw suspicion or make it look like they have a damn thing to hide. Elisabeth is sitting at one of the tables with a decadent piece of a chocolate volcano cake in front of her along with coffee. Her face has weary lines in it, but for the first time in several months she's actually not sporting a head cold. Or a chest cold. Or any other kind of viral agent that she knows of. She glances toward the door as it opens, clearly expecting company.

The door's bells jangle softly as it's opened, and Cardinal steps inside; dressed in street clothes, a flight jacket over jeans and a sweatshirt. He pauses for a moment just inside the bakery, looking over the room with a faint, wistful smile as if expecting to see Mrs. Hadley behind the counter. He shakes his head, then, moving to walk along over towards Elisabeth's table, sliding into the chair. "Hey," he greets with a faint, wry smile, "How's work today?"

Elisabeth smiles when she sees him, but sticks her tongue out at the question as he sits. "Crap," she admits candidly. "It's been one of those days — where pretty much every call for 'ohmygod my Evo neighbor is a terrorist!' has already been discredited before we even suit up." She rolls her eyes. "Makes for a lot of back and forth to the locker room." She sounds mildly amused, at least. "Want some coffee?" She gestures to her own. "It's hot. Not sludge, but it's hot."

"I'll take it," Cardinal allows, reaching out for the cup sitting in front of her. His gaze drifts back over to the counter, and he murmurs, "Weird not seeing her here."

With a soft laugh, she slides the cup toward him so it meets his hand in the middle of the table. And then Elisabeth looks around. "Yeah," she agrees softly. "She was … quite the lady." There's an affection to her tone, and then she chuckles. "She's how I got babies on the brain, you realize," she adds in a rueful tone.

"She knew me when I was a kid," admits Cardinal, unsure if she knows, leaning back in his chair and bringing the cup up to take a sip of it. His eyes slip closed, "Her'n Mister Hadley fostered me for awhile. I was too rambunctous a kid for them to handle, but they were… nice folks."

Elisabeth nods slightly. She remembers he told her that once, now that he mentions it again. "She healed me. After Pinehearst," she murmurs, still looking around. "Wish she were here to share those talents again, but… she's happier with Mr. Hadley." She knows the older woman missed her husband. Clearing her throat and glancing at the patrons, Elisabeth toys with her piece of cake and ever so slowly, there is a muting of the sound around them to nonexistance. "Figured if we met here, no one'd think we were hiding anything," she adds with a small smile.

Cardinal's chin dips in a slight nod. "I hope she is," he murmurs against the cup's edge, taking a sip of the coffee before lowering it down to sit on the table. There's a moment's pause as the room grows quiet, "…how're you recovering?"

"Well enough to hold this for a little while, lover," Elisabeth says softly. "Not as long as I used to, but… it'll have to do for now." She leans forward on her elbows and reaches out to stroke fingertips across the back of his hand where it cradles the coffee cup. "Philipa Morris, Aric's assistant at the cafe called me. She found the FRONTLINE card I left with him with my number on it when we first met. He's been out of contact entirely for nearly a week. And she said when she contacted the police, they said he'd gone over to Suresh and she had to speak to Agent Jane Pak. No one else had any information for her." The grimace is faint but present. "Which means that neither you nor I can look into this, but tells us what we need to know already — that Ezekial has him." She'll call the asshole Dick to everyone else, but for Richard — because he explained the name and the hate behind it — she'll use his monikier.

"That's about what I figured…" Cardinal's free arm drops down to rest on the table's edge as he sinks forward with a heavy sigh of breath, his head falling forward and eyes closing, "…this is my fault. It was my plan, I didn't think that they'd snatch him. I don't know why they'd be interested in him in particular."

"I have a theory on that. And it didn't fucking occur to me until she said Pak's name and Suresh," Elisabeth says softly. "He was trying to make me drive Elle out. He told me it was because she was the source of the schism. That the murder of Noah Bennet at her hands fraactured everything. And I made a point of keeping her closer after that because … well, she had no intention of doing that. But… what if he wasn't actually trying to protect any of us?" she asks softly. "What if he wanted her out from under because he needed her for something? Or… needed her ability for it. Considering she's one of the ones he fucking well power shifted."

"It's possible." Cardinal brings one hand up, fingers pulling the shades off and setting them down to rub against his face, "I'm starting to think that before I can get anything done… I'm going to have to go in there and deal with him personally. Every time I make a move, he's right there expecting me."

There's true alarm in her expression as he says that, but also a deep well of untapped rage. A faint tremor of it passes through the table making the coffee in the cup shimmer. "Unless you're going in there to blow his fucking head off personally, I would prefer you stay as far away as humanly possible. What if …. what if he takes you over or something?" she asks. And yeah. She does worry about this. "What if he kills you or something and …. " She bites her lip. "Can't we send Lola just to take him out?"

"Oh, for— he's not Kazimir you know," Cardinal says with a roll of his eyes, letting his hand drop back down to the table as he looks back up to her, "He's not going around stealing bodies. Tyler's was just a… one time thing. I wasn't exactly thinking of running off all by my lonesome, either. If I decide to push him towards the endgame, you'll know it."

"You think it was a one-time thing," Elisabeth argues in a disgruntled tone. "How do you know he didn't like … steal Petrelli's power or something for himself??" But she subsides and seems to believe him when he promises that she'll know. She reaches up absently to touch her nose, her fingertips coming away dry in spite of the vibration traveling around. Rubbing them together absently, she looks back up at him. "There's one other thing. I had a visit by someone claiming to be DHS. About Zarek. Thing is… it was kinda odd. Either they sent in a rookie or something else was up — he came in, asked me what I knew. Shit like that. I told him what little I know about Zarek. I only met the man once." She shrugs. "And I told him what I know about the prick Logan too. But when I asked about why Homeland is looking into a simple murder, he said it was classified. Which, sure, happens all the time … but agents waltzing into my office with earbuds in their ears and someone monitoring the other end isn't exactly normal."

"DHS." Cardinal exhales a snort of breath, his gaze darkening at the mention of Zarek's murder, "He was probably Institute. They're the ones who're investigating the murder — why, I don't know."

Well, that's news to her. Elisabeth purses her lips and looks thoughtful. "Interesting. Well, Agent Boyce is the one who came in to talk to me. He mentioned the name 'Grayer' to the person in his ear on his way out. I haven't the faintest if they'll come back and talk to you again — He said he'd gotten my name from you, so I don't know." She shrugs. "Not like I could tell them much. I honestly only met Kain a couple of times." She pauses, considering her words carefully. "I would bet that if the Institute is looking into it, it's because it was an unexpected happening in the timeline. One that's going to radically change things." Her blue eyes never leave his face. "If I were to take a guess, Richard, I'd say that your doppelganger is trying to decide if you had anything to do with it. But it's just a guess." She reaches up again, blood tainting her fingertips this time, and she grimaces. "Going to have to drop the field," she murmurs. Her eyes flicker back up as she moves to pick up a napkin from the table to staunch the light trickle as the sounds of the cafe trickle back in. "Just be careful, okay?"

"Grayer." Cardinal files the name away, his lips pursing in a grimace, "I doubt they'll find anything… and I don't know why Ezekiel'd even care about Zarek. It makes his job easier with him out of the picture, after all." A whispered sigh spills past his lips, and then he pauses at the sight of blood beneath her nose, grimacing, "Don't strain yourself. And I will."

"Does it?" Elisabeth murmurs, keeping her voice low. "I guess that depends on if we're still looking for someone to replace Linderman or if we've decided we need him for something. Do we?" she asks in a casual tone. She dabs at the bleed — it's a small one. "I'm okay. I have to practice with it every day anyway just to get back into using it. When it starts doing this is when I have to lay off. I should be back to full usage in several more weeks." She hopes.

"No." A quiet word as Cardinal shakes his head, "I've got neither the resources nor the time to fuck with the underworld right now… it'll just have to sort itself out. Nichols wasn't the best choice, but—she's the best we could do given the situation. Maybe Russo can moderate her a bit."

There's a slight nod to that, and Elisabeth finishes wiping her nose, tucking the napkin away for disposal. She reaches across and retrieves the coffee cup they're sharing to take a swallow of it. "Just wondered. Niki stopped in to see me. She's…. she wants out. Soon. She's losing herself in Jess and the d'Sarthe thing isn't panning out at all anyway. I told her to go ahead and pull out." She swallows and sets the cup back down in front of him, moving to stand up. She leans down to kiss his temple, her words soft. "If you want to say goodbye before she goes underground, drop her a text." Her decision in that moment was solidified with the information that we don't need Linderman anymore. "Love you," she whispers into his hair.

As she leans in, Cardinal reaches up to loop an arm around her waist — leaning up to brush a kiss against the curve of her jaw, he murmurs, "I need to talk to her anyway. Nakamura wanted to ask her a favor. Love you too."

The arm around her waist gives her permission to hug him. Tightly. For just a moment she buries her nose in his hair. Elisabeth then smiles and slips away. "See you soon." Her hand lingers for just a moment on his cheek, then she's gone.

And the text message sent just moments later simply reads: Take it.

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