The Sun Will Rise, Part II


cardinal_icon.gif lene_icon.gif

Scene Title The Sun Will Rise, Part II
Synopsis … one of them awakens to an unexpected conversation.
Date March 16, 2011

Redbird Security Building



Cardinal sits up at his desk, sucking in a sharp breath, one shaking hand sweeping away a coffee cup full of pencils down onto the floor where it shatters into several pieces, contents spilling out across the floor noisily. There's a yelp of surprise from the woman standing at his side, wavy locks of wine red hair bobbing up and down as she hops backwards from where she'd been shaking him, hand clasping the locket at her chest, green eyes wide.

Jolene Marley looks nothing like the communications officer from Richard's dream. The view of Midtown at dawn out the office window looks more familiar, even if just so. "R— Richard?" Lene asks in a small, sheepish voice.


It's the first word out of Cardinal's mouth as he's jerked so violently to wakefulness… his hand trembling a bit as it pulls lowly back from where it'd swept, his gaze lifting to look around the office uncertainly, his features pale and dark eyes wild for a few moments. Then he's focusing on Jolene, and he swallows hard once, shifting to sit up a little more. "Shit. Jo— Jolene?" Almost questioning. As if to make sure he really knows who she is.

A wide-eyed stare from Jolene indicates that she is not, in fact, Elisabeth. Instead there is just a surprised young woman watching anxiously as Cardinal awakens from a nightmare. That is, after all, the only thing that it could be called. A nightmare. That towards the end Jolene's interruption seemed to make things blurry and juxtapose oddly — for a dream — races thorugh Cardinal's mind. Those last harrowing images feeling like he was there, but at the same time seem less vivid, less real than the rest of the dream was. How much is a product of his own imagination, his own fears?

How much is a warning?

"I'm— You left the door unlocked," Lene explains with a nervous timbre to her voice, one hand still wound around her necklace. "I— I heard you making noises, it— you sounded like— " like the kind of noises in his office that would cause concern, instead of require headphones to drown out.

"Are… are you alright?" It's only on asking that question that the faux-redhead starts to edge back in, teeth drawing nervously over her bottom lip, one brow raised inquisitively and hard-soled shoes scuffing audibly against the floor. It's clear skies, today, and the sun is starting to shine between distant and eviscerated buildings over one of Jolene's shoulders.

Richard gathers air to his lungs slowly, and then exhales it in a long and shuddering sigh, one hand raising up to rub against his face slowly, fingers smearing over eyes and cheek to try and dispel the images that hang like scarecrows in his mind's eye. That hand falls, then, in a slap against the arm of his chair before slumping back in it. The hinges of the chair creak softly, dark eyes falling to linger on Lene for a moment.

"No," he says after a long silence, "I'm not. None of us are. We're all fucked, and it's all the worse because I can see it coming."

"You can not," Lene quips back with lips pursed and brows scrunched together, as if chiding Cardinal's notion with some whimsy. But it's quick to fade, replaced by genuine concern as she moves up to his side at the desk, arms crossed over her chest, her hand no longer hiding the battered old locket hanging around her neck. "C'mon you… you don't mean none of that."

Sliding her tongue against the inside of her cheek, Lene looks down to Cardinal's desk, then slowly folds herself into a crouch to begin to pick up the shattered pieces of the mug, pens and pencils left where they are for now. "A dream's just a dream, most of the time…" Worry flashes briefly across Lene's face, and green eyes upturn from the floor to Cardinal in his chair. "What was haunting you this time?" She says knowingly.

"If you knew half of what I knew, Jolene, you wouldn't ever sleep again…" Cardinal rubs a hand up along the side of his neck to dig his fingers into the muscle at his nape, grimacing slightly at the tension in it. Sleeping in a chair isn't very good for the neck, as it turns out, especially when you wake up by sitting bolt upward. "…and even dreams aren't safe and meaningless. Not anymore. Even dreams are a battleground these days… part of a war nobody'll see until it's too late."

He's being too open. He seems to realize it after a moment, grimacing and straightening in his chair, "You said you were a… Company brat, didn't you?"

Green eyes dip back down to the floor, even as Lene herself is rising up to stand with a handful of broken ceramic pieces. She steps away from Cardinal's desk, putting her back to him as she walks over to the waste basket by the door, discarding the broken glass with a noisy clatter. "I did," sounds meek coming from the normally chipper young woman. Turning away from the waste basket, Lene lifts her hand up to that pendant around her neck, rolling the locket between her fingers as distantly focused eyes scan the floor vacantly.

"I wasn't a brat, though," Lene clarifies with a touch of playful defiance, if tempered by sober volume. On her wya back around to the desk, the young woman tucks the locket beneath the collar of her sweater, curling one finger behind the chain and tugging it away from her neck briefly. "Don't need to be a Company brat to know what it's like to lose sleep over things though. Don't need to be you to know things that no sane person would ever want to know…" Her head tilts to the side, brows furrow and lips purse together in thought.

"I told you, Richard, I know things. What makes you think I have it any easier than you do?" One brow rises slowly, and Lene's challenge to him comes with a weary smile that makes her seem years older than she looks. "You don't suffer in a vacuum."

"Neither do you." Oh, she just walked into that one, didn't she? A smile that matches the weariness of hers curves to Cardinal's lips, a single brow lifting upwards, "I'm not stupid you realize, Jolene… how long are we going to do this dance? You walking around here pretending that I don't notice you, and me pretending not to notice you? You, Howard, Adel… people tell me things. I make connections. It's what I do. I don't know what the connect-the-dots means, but I can see something taking shape."

His hand lifts to rub against his forehead for a moment, asking quietly, "Why are you here? And if you tell me 'to collect the mail' I am going to throw something at you."

Lene's expression is a difficult to discern mask, neutral in the way corpses tend to be. When her brows furrow together to betray a certain measure of concern, the mask breaks and Lene lifts up one hand to rub at the side of her neck. "We're friends, and that's all I… really can say. I'm not allowed to say more, Rich." Rich. "It's like… I don't know anyone who can really accurately say when the Ferymen first came together, you know? I mean— they didn't just appear overnight out of some sort of intelligent design, but there they are. We're… similar?"

It's more honest than she's been before, admitting that they are coordinated after a fashion. "We all want the same thing, the same kind of quality of life. It's not what we're getting, and… something needs to be done about it." Lene's smile remains, even if it's more bittersweet and before, more troubled and clouded by a seriousness that Cardinal hasn't seen in the young woman before.

"But the problem is we're all trained not to trust easy." The redhead motions between herself and Cardinal, demonstrative of two people lacking trust. "We play our cards close to our chest, because that's how we've been forced to do it. Even when we lay everything out… we don't." Green eyes divert to the floor again, and Lene brushes one hand up and down her opposite arm anxiously. "Even to the people we love, the people we say we trust. Nobody gets full disclosure."

"And look at what they've become," Cardinal replies sharply, his hand falling away from his face and cutting through the air in a dismissive motion, "They're clustered together, hiding in some godforsaken hole just hoping that they're overlooked — and their enemies know exactly where they are, they're just waiting for the perfect time to use them as propaganda casualties. They've turned into a fucking fringe militia, too paranoid to realize that all they're doing is chiseling out the words on their own tombstones."

Cynical? Perhaps.

His hand falls, a slap to the chair's arm, his dark eyes watching green, "If we don't trust one another, Jolene, we'll never get anywhere. How's that old saying go? If we don't all hang together… we'll certainly all hang separately."

Those green eyes come up from the floor, settle on Cardinal and earn a mildly scornful look at his assessment of the Ferrymen, but only just so. When she looks away, it's because she finds distaste in agreement. "Some things never change," she admits off-handedly, teeth worrying about her bottom lip as she shifts from one foot to the other.

"Hiding in plain sight isn't any better," Lene admits with a certain amount of self-chastisement, though her assessment isn't entirely self-inflicted. When she looks back to Cardinal, Lene's come to stand on the opposite side of his desk, brows furrowed and jaw squared. "I've seen what the Ferry's become, and it's because they're backed into a corner. They don't have anywhere to turn. Leaders have been executed, there's fractions within their own ranks…"

Green eyes focus on the office window, looking to the distant ruined spires of Midtown now silhouette by the rising sun. "Lead by example. It's what you do best."

"Is it?" The question is rhetorical, and bitter, Cardinal's head falling back against the black leather of his chair, watching the window with a tired gaze, "I don't even know who'd follow me anymore, Jolene… or where they'd follow me to. I've seen what I might become, and I don't know if I can blame them for being suspicious."

"It's getting to the point that I'm going to have to put all the chips in one gamble, but what if I put them down in the wrong place? What if I move the wrong mountain?" A breath's drawn in, sighed out, "I'm not Edward."

"Then stop trying to be Edward." Leaning forward and placing her palms on the top of the desk, Lene's brows furrow together and lower, expression shifting to a more defiant one. "Stop trying to— to do things like you were living someone else's life. You aren't him, and you should be thankful for that. There's still a chance that maybe you can see people as people, and something more than just pieces to move around on some big, emotionless board."

Realizing she's raising her voice, Jolene lifts her hands off of the desk and closes her eyes, apology evident in her expression but not outright said. She's quiet just long enough for an awkward pause, then opens her eyes to level on Cardinal. "Stop wondering who'd follow you, and find out. Stop… trying to pretend like you can play things the way Edward did, stop trying to see a thousand moves ahead, and work with what you've got."

But the point she seems to want o drive home more than anything, is given with a pleading look of someone with something to lose. "But for God's sake… don't forget who your friends are, Rich. Don't… don't forget that even if time changes things, people can always surprise you. Don't be Edward. Be Richard Cardinal."

There's no sign that Cardinal's offended by the raising of her voice; his hand dropping down to rest on the edge of the desk as he listens to her, gloved fingertips grazing the stained wood of it just before where the desk blotter rests, featuring little absent doodles where his hand previously grew bored during long phone calls. The edge of a smile tugs up at the corner of his lips, and he exhales a faint chuckle of breath as she says those final words.

"That's exactly who I'm afraid of being…" He leans forward, one arm sliding full to the desk as his weight sinks forward to rest against it, his gaze meeting hers, "…but I suppose I don't have any choice, do I?"

There's silence, then, thoughts racing a thousand miles an hour behind his eyes, bouncing around his skull over and again. And then he asks, suddenly, "You know me. How?"

One corner of Lene's mouth rises into a smile, apologetic and somewhat rueful as she shakes her head. "Spoilers," she admits with a tongue-in-cheek tone of voice, stepping around the desk with one brow raised. "But if you promise not to tell anyone…" green eyes divert down to the floor, then back up to Cardinal as she comes to stand at the side of his chair, the corners of her eyes crinkled with a smile that can't quite reach them. "I'll show you something."

Watching Cardinal over the ruby red frames of her glasses, Lene's mannerisms have shifted in mercurial fashion, become more the cat to Cardinal's mouse rather than the reverse. Her expectant stare is somewhat coy, making it hard to tell if she doesn't care about the answer.

"I'll tell anyone I care to anything I damn well please," is Cardinal's deft riposte to her impish offering, that smile edging up just a little more in almost roguish fashion, "I mean, I could lie if it'd make you more comfortable. You wouldn't have offered if you weren't going to show me whatever it is anyhow, though, would you?"

Lene's answer to Cardinal is a shift, a shimmer, as her body turns into a pool of liquid black ink, shadow. She ghosts down flat against the floor, slithers beneath Cardinal's chair and rises up on the other side, rising up from the pool of her own shadow as if it were the mirror-still surface of a placid lake. ne hand brushes curly locks of wine red hair over one shoulder, then straightens her glasses as she regards Cardinal through them.

"My application wasn't for Redbird Security," Jolene explains with her lips pursed together, arms coming to cross over her chest. "My application was for the Endgame." Smiling more honestly now, the young wman has a certain touch of familiarity that Cardinal can't quite put his finger on, and it's not that she just pulled a swiss army knife by showing his own power to him.

"Did I get the job?"

It isn't something that Cardinal expected to see; it sends a bit of a chill down his spine, in fact, as the last time he saw someone using his ability that wasn't him, it was Arthur Petrelli. The trauma caused by that man still runs deep, mental and emotional scars that may never fully heal. A sharp shift in his chair as she flows past and beneath him, looking over to her as she reforms on the other side.

"You're an empathic mimic…" A startled observation, if observing the obvious, and then a smirk tugs up a little on his lips, "…was it, then?"

He's silent a moment, considering her, appraising her - judging her - and then he says, "Contingent on your answer to one questions, Jolene."

"Not empathic," Jolene corrects, one finger raised to gesture to her ephemeral point. "The person who trained me called it synchronized ability mimicry." Her hand withdraws, straightening the frames of her glasses, considering in deference the stipulation that Cardinal had laid out. She rakes back a lock of her hair from her face, threading it behind one ear, considering the shadowmorph more thoughtfully.

"Lay it on me," Lene challenges, as if she could answer any question without much fear at the moment.

"I don't know who you're working for," Cardinal states the obvious once more, a single brow ticking upwards slightly, "You're basically asking permission to infiltrate my organization for a cause I don't know, just because you asked. That takes balls on your part, I'll admit, but it takes a hell of a lot more faith for me to say yes…" That's not a question, clearly, but it's building up towards one.

Richard Cardinal's career has been all about leaps of faith. From a decision to trust packages sent to him by a man he believed dead to a more literal leap into the depths of an Antarctic pit to embrace his death, every one has been a turning point. Perhaps this will be the same, or perhaps it'll have as little meaning as what to have for lunch. Time will tell.

"So when the storm comes, I've got to wonder. Who is it that you're going to follow?"

Not an easy question, one that doesn't have an easy answer. Taking a step back from Cardinal, Jolene's answer might not be the one he's looking for, but it's at least one from the heart.

"The person holding the umbrella."

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