The Unexpected Houseguest


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Scene Title The Unexpected Houseguest
Synopsis Richard Cardinal invites an impromptu guest over to Elisabeth Harrison's apartment…
Date July 2, 2010

Dorchester Towers

The metallic sound of the locks coming undone is loud in the darkness of the empty apartment, a darkness split by the light from the hallway as the door's pushed open. "…security, but for the time being try to stay inside, alright?" The words from Richard Cardinal as he steps along inside, reaching out to flick the lights on as he steps out of the way, pausing to call, "Babe? You home?"

There's no answer. Elisabeth, it seems, is on duty. Given what he heard over the radio on the way, he's really not surprised.

Quiet is one way to describe Niklaus Zimmerman. The tall and stoic son of the infamous Doctor Jonas Zimmerman is undoubtedly a font of secrets that Richard Cardinal is looking to tear open like a Christmas present. Unfortunately, the lingering drugs in his system and lethargy that has had him sleeping the entire way from D.C. to New York has kept those secrets tight lipped.

Removing the borrowed black baseball cap and sunglasses he's worn over his eyeglasses, Zimmerman looks around the apartment, silently assessing the building as he walks in with the click of dress shoes on the hardwood floor. "I hope you do not take this the wrong way, mister Cardinal…" The hat is thrown onto the sofa like a frisbee, sunglasses folded and tucked into the pocket of Zimmerman's slacks as he turns around, arms crossing over his chest as he squares attention on his benefactor.

"But what is it that you want from me?" One thin brow lifts, creasing wrinkles on his forehead. "I am not so robbed of mein faculties to be unaware that men do not go so far out of their way — as you have — to rescue one stranger without having ulterior motives. What are yours?"

"I'm not going to insult you by claiming that I don't have any…" The door's closed behind them before they speak any further, the locks slid into place, Richard's hand dropping to give the knob a turn to test the locks. Assured that they're secure, he steps along into the kitchen, still visible across the breakfast bar as he gestures in the direction of the couch, "…have a seat. You want something to drink? I can see if there's any leftovers in the fridge too, if you're still hungry."

The clink of glass on glass fills the kitchen as he digs out a bottle from the liquor cabinet, turning it over to read the label as he continues to speak. "First off - and, honestly, the most important - is that where you were, you were likely to be picked up by a group I'm opposed to. They would've shoved you into a sensory deprivation tube and used someone to manipulate your power when they wanted." A half-truth. The Institute would want him for far more than his power, of course.

"Secondly…" He pauses, glancing back over to the man seriously, "…one of your half-sisters works for me. I protect my own, and where I can help it, that includes their kin."

Rolling his tongue across his teeth, Niklaus wrings his hands together and considers Cardinal's offer. "Coffee, black and no sugar… two asprin, if you only have aceitpminiphin I will pass. Also something non-solid to eat, soup?" He's remarkably specific in his demands, but there also seems to be a semblance of chemical impetus behind the request, non-solid foods for an uneasy stomach, asprin and coffee for what is undoubtedly a migraine.

"I will profess some ignorance to the predicament that you have described, Mister Cardinal." Slowly making his way to the sofa, Niklaus considers it thoughtfully, then eases down with stiffness onto the arm of the couch, not quite willing to settle onto something to comfortable just yet. He doesn't trust himself not to fall asleep again.

"The people you speak of— the Company— they have been after me for years because of my father. But what you say about my sister," and he continues to fail to pluralize that, "you will need to explain. While I would be unsurprised to find my father hid more from me, I know of only one sister. Her name is Barbara, and she is like me." There's a pause, thoughtful in the choice of his words, "special."

The bottle's set down on the counter to one side - that's for him - and Cardinal's next step takes him along the counter to start setting up the coffee machine, pouring the grounds into the filter. Once the machine's started working with its little growls and burbling, he emerges from the kitchen, heading in the direction of the bathroom. There's a bit of clattering, and then he emerges from the darkened little room, stepping over and giving a bottle of asprin a casual toss over to the german.

"We should have some canned soup," he admits, and as he searches the cabinets for it he explains, "You've been out of the loop for a little bit, Niklaus. The Company's on the way out; they're falling apart. A lot of their resources have fallen into the hands of a much worse group, the Commonwealth Institute."

A soup can's found, and he checks the expiration date before applying a can opener, carving through the metal of the lid and pouring it into a bowl. Into the microwave, and he punches a few buttons. As it heats up, he walks over to lean folded arms on the breakfast bar, looking at him seriously, "The Company did a lot of fucked up shit, but these guys… they're worse. They've got your father right now, and not willingly as far as I can tell. Snatched him up on his way to Canada when he was trying to get the hell out."

Niklaus' eyes narrow a touch as he leans forward on the arm of the sofa, hands folded in his lap and brows furrowed. "Commonwealth Institute?" It isn't surprise that he reiterates the name with, but confusion. "When I was staying in Zurich, I heard mention of this group. I owe a sizable sum of money to a Russian crime syndicate and have been paying off my debts through… banking." Niklaus offers a sly smile at that.

"I was doing some side work for a company called Pinehearst last year, through a man named Morgan Dietrich. They had me perform a handful of smash und grabs at laboratories in Sweden and Norway, paid in cash, very generous. I do not know if you Americans heard much about the scandal, but Dietrich was indicted on charges of human rights violations by the United Nations, and… the money dried up."

Niklaus' shoulders rise and fall slowly in a shrug. "Some months ago, I was contacted thorugh the same channels Dietrich used, similar work requests. I was asked to perform some robberies of cryonics labs in Germany and Finland, my contact mentioned the name Commonwealth Institute in passing to another man, I do not know context for it."

"Pinehearst." Cardinal's head tilts to one side, his gaze hooding slightly behind his shades as a wry almost-smile touches his lips, "There's irony for you… they must not have known your real name. Jonas was working for them - again, unwillingly - last year as well. I killed the CEO personally. A lot of Pinehearst's resources ended up in the hands of the Institute too - I'm not surprised they called up some of the same people. Cyronics." A rough snort, "So that's where they got their tubes."

"If they knew who you were," he explains, "You would've been somewhere far worse than Building Twenty-Six by now."

Niklaus offers a thoughtful look to Cardinal, thin tilts his head up and listens to the sound of the coffee pot percolating, a fond smile crossing his lips. "It seems I have you to thank for my financial situation, then," Niklaus jests, sitting up a little straighter when tiredness threatens to slouch his posture. "I was not breaking into those cryonics labs for hardware though, mister Cardinal. I think you're a bit mistaken there…"

Feeling the pull of exhaustion too much, Niklaus rises up to his feet as he slides off the arm of the sofa, straightening his posture as he approaches the kitchen. "All the robberies were the same, they wanted the cryogenically frozen heads." Eyes halfway lidding behind the round lenses of his glasses, the German comes up to stand on the opposite side of the island, folding his hands atop as he leans forward.

"I was caught by your government while robbing a lab in Arizona over the winter. Whatever it was that my employers were looking for, they had not found it yet. Whatever a man would want with a collection of frozen heads," his hands come apart and shoulders shrug, "I do not know.

But when Niklaus' hands come back together, his expression turns more sour and pointed. "My sister," he states flatly, "why do we not change the subject to her now, yes?"

At that little revelation, Cardinal just stares at the german for a long moment. "…heads? Jesus, I… I don't even know. I might have a few ideas, but none of them are at all pleasant," he murmurs, one hand raising up to rub against his forehead. The microwave bleeps softly, then, and he pushes back from the bar, straightening and turning to step to it.

"Alright. Barbara's been off my radar, actually, I have no idea where she's been or what she's been up to - you, apparently, know otherwise." The bowl of soup's slid over, spoon slid into it, and he turns back to check on the coffee. "She was only one, though…" And he glances back over his shoulder, "…of a set of triplets, artificially inseminated and implanted in your mother, who carried them to term."

Taking up a seat on one of the barstools, Niklaus grows contemplatively silent at the explanation Cardinal offers, reaching out to take the bowl of soup between both hands, staring down into it with a crease of his brows and a scowl. Steam rises up towards his face, and in his muted soup-warped reflection, the German finds a can of Campbell's soup to be unhelpful in divining an answer.

"I have not seen Barbara in almost twenty years…" he reluctantly admits, voice quieter now. "Not since mother died, and…" quietly shaking his head, Niklaus looks up to Cardinal, expression more pleading and less defensive than before. "Are you sure— I mean— are you certain that these other girls, that they are…"

Swallowing nervously, Niklaus looks back down to the soup, picking up the spoon but doing little more than stirring the contents of the bowl around. "Do you have a picture I could look at?"

Next up: Coffee.

The cup's slid over to sit beside the soup's bowl, and Cardinal's hand drops down to a pocket, drawing out his phone and unfolding the keyboard. "I don't have a picture of Niki," he admits as he navigates the arcane menus and options that took Peyton quite some time to teach him, "But… I can get you a picture of Tracy fairly easily, she's a public figure. Does public relations for the President, actually… here she is. Director of Communications, according to this…"

The phone's turned around, a press-release picture of Tracy Strauss on its screen.

It would only be the threat of a picture that could draw Niklaus' attention away from the coffee slid his way. Reaching out to take the phone, Niklaus' expression is one of absolute amazement as he looks at the picture. His hands shake, brows furrow and eyes grow wide. "I— I can't…" there's an evident emotional reaction in seeing the picture, but it is abruptly cut short the same moment that Niklaus' soup spoon begins to rattlle in the bowl and the screen on the cell phone— fzzt— shorts out and goes dark.

Blinking repeatedly, Niklaus' expression turns to one of sudden anger as he slams the phone down on the countertop with one hand, the other curling into a fist as he tries to rein his emotion in as the lights dim across the entire apartment and the silverware drawers begin to vibrate. When everything calms, the German looks back up to Cardinal, jaw tense and brows furrowed. "I apologize," he murmurs, lifting his hand up and away from the phone before pushing it back towards the shadowmorph with his fingertips.

"She is… this, Tracy? She is a spitting image of Barbara, down to the last detail. She hardly looks to have aged a day, still— still as beautiful." There's a hesitant smile as Niklaus looks down to the island, brows creased and one hand lifting up his glasses so that he can wipe at his eyes. "I apologize, my power it— it is not easy to keep in check."

As the cell phone shorts out, Cardinal winces — and then he winces again as it's smashed down on the countertop, the vibrating rattle of silverware causing him to glance over in the direction of the knife block a bit warily, the edges of him fading just a little in a brief shadowing as if uncertain whether or not it'd be a good idea to go incorporeal right about now.

No? Good. Liz would kill him if her good cutlery got destroyed.

"S'alright… you didn't blow up the apartment, so, no harm, no foul," he says quietly, glancing back to the phone, then to Niklaus, "You want to know about them?"

Staring vacantly at the countertop, Niklaus offers a mild smile but a shake of his head to accompany it. "I fear that further… surprises are best served later, after I have had proper rest and," he reaches for the coffee, holding it up in a feigned toast before taking a sip, "proper sustenance." As the cup is settled down, Niklaus looks over his shoulder to the door, then back to Cardinal again with his brows furrowed thoughtfully.

"You never did answer my question, though…" the German finally admits as he leans back on his stool, one brow raised. "Of what your ulterior motive for saving me was…" but he doesn't seem to be pushing the topic, instead averting his attention down to the soup, one hand held out for the spoon as it floats up into his grip. "For now, I see no need to press…"

Niklaus' eyes lift up, back to Cardinal over the rims of his glasses. "But when I am back to my full strength…" he suggests quietly, "I expect answers."

"I gave you two reasons," Cardinal says, although from the tone of his voice he insinuates that there's more, his head shaking ever so slightly, "We can talk about it more later. The last reason, though…" He meets Niklaus's gaze steadily, "…you'll have to ask Jonas yourself. It isn't mine to tell."

"I look forward to it," Niklaus states with a dubious tone of voice, "I had always thought my father to be dead." Leaving the conversation at that, Niklaus' tone implies some bad blood still lingering between he and the good doctor. Whether or not he intends to find some personal justice in the man that lied to him his whole life, or simply answers, isn't clear.

What is clear, is that Niklaus is dangerous — incredibly dangerous — and if he isn't even back to his full strength yet, it's a good thing he wasn't brought into Messiah's fold.

Because just one push is all it will take…

…to turn him into a vilain.

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