Then You'll Be Free


cardinal_icon.gif elle_icon.gif

Scene Title Then You'll Be Free
Synopsis Cardinal informs Elle of the deal made for her freedom.
Date September 30, 2010

Redbird Security

There's a sharp, professional feel to the main lobby of the building. The carpet is a deep maroon underfoot, the walls an off-white cream that doesn't glare too brightly beneath the recessed lighting in the ceiling. Half a dozen chairs upholstered in a sandy light brown sit against one wall beneath a painting, a print of a Thomas Brill that shows the ruins of Midtown covered in vines and greenery as seen from the rooftop of the Deveaux building. The receptionist's station takes up almost an entire wall on the right side of the lobby, guarding the hallway that leads back into the building's offices. Behind and above the desk, the logo for Redbird Security Solutions hangs on the wall in glossy black.

The central hall continues the same carpet and wall colors to a number of doors. There are four offices, a restroom done in shades of blue and pale sand tones, and a comfortable employee lounge with attached kitchenette. An open doorway in the main lobby reveals a flight of upward stairs, and there's a locked door at he end of the central hall that guards the basement steps.

It's a gloomy day, quite comfortable as far as temperature goes, but the clouds obscure the sunlight, giving the sky a grey, overcast appearance. Despite the dim state of lighting that covers the city, Elle Bishop is wearing the biggest pair of sunglasses she could find, and her blonde hair is tucked up into an oversized black beret. She's wearing somewhat baggy jeans and a t-shirt, and a pair of tennis shoes. She really misses wearing her heels. Carried over her shoulder is a large grey messenger bag, which doesn't seem to be very full. She looks like she could be an art student or something. In reality, she's just trying to make herself as unrecognizable as possible.

She steps into Redbird Security, making sure the door is closed behind her before she reaches up and pulls the hat off, shaking out her hair. A faint smile and a wave is offered to Jo. "Can you let Richard know I'm here? I have some stuff that Liz requested…" Her fingers idly toy with the strap, fidgeting a bit as she glances out the window. The sunglasses are pushed up on top of her head, the electric blonde's teeth knitting over her lower lip.

"Miss Bishop," the receptionist replies in affable tones, visibly more friendly without Warren accompanying Elle, "Sure thing." She reaches over, touching a button on the phone, "Mister Cardinal? Miss Bishop's here…"

A pause from the other end, "Send her in, please."

Nodding faintly, Elle slips down the hallway, going to the door and pushing it open, slipping into Cardinal's office and pushing the door closed behind herself. As she makes the approach to the desk, Elle is reaching into her messenger bag for a moment, pulling out a notebook. "Liz asked me to write everything I know down, yesterday morning."

The notebook is gently dropped down onto Cardinal's desk, and Elle seats herself, the bag in her lap. "So I did that, and I wanted to bring it personally to you." She smiles faintly to Cardinal.

"Good." Cardinal's tone is a bit wry as she steps along over to the desk, "It saves me the problem of asking you to do just that…"
He leans forward in his chair, arms resting folded on the desk's surface as he regards her with a serious expression for a moment. "I've really stuck my neck out for you this time, Elle. I hope that my trust isn't misplaced, or I'm pretty much fucked."

The blonde blinks, her brows raising as she peers at Cardinal. Then, Elle offers a faint smile to Cardinal. "Th— thank you, Richard." She tilts her head to the side. "Really…thank you so much for helping me. You and Liz, you've both been so nice to me, when nobody else would." She tilts her head to the side, peering at Cardinal quietly.

"I know I'm not the most reliable person in the world…but I don't want to let you down. You've given me a second chance that I wasn't sure anyone would give me." She lifts a hand, removing the sunglasses from atop her head. She still has no clue about the arrangement that Cardinal made with Harper.

"Desmond Harper called your phone last night," Cardinal says in ash-dry tones, his head cocking a little to one side, "He was less than amused about you taking a runner from the Institute… but I informed him that he isn't going to be pursuing you any further. The dogs have been called off, and you aren't going to be hunted down by anyone."

There's a pause, "Of course, if you do anything stupid it'll be on my head. And there is a price."

Eyebrows raise high on Elle's head as he mentions Harper. She leans away from Cardinal, frowning for a moment as he informs her that he was less than thrilled by her decision to up and leave, and visible tension creeps up her frame. However, it slowly releases as he explains that she won't be hunted down by anyone. There's a marked silence from the electric blonde for a moment.

"I'll do my best not to do anything stupid. A price?" Elle's brows raise, leaning forward as she waits for the terms of this price.

"That's why it's important that you wrote everything down." Cardinal looks to her over the edge of his shades, his expression serious, "The price is that you aren't allowed to still know all the classified information that you know."

It's interesting, to see Elle's expression slowly change from curiousity, to a cold, steel-like gaze, and finally, to an almost terrorized expression as realization dawns. "…They're going to send Rene, aren't they?" Tension creeps up her petite frame once more, and this time, it doesn't release. "…Please…" Suddenly, she's scooting back, away from Cardinal, with a terrified expression on her face.

"Don't— don't let them do that to me!" The chair is suddenly knocked over as she abruptly stands, backing away from the man, until her back bumps against the wall furthest from him. She's not leaving, but she's certainly fighting the instinct to do so.

As the chair falls over, Cardinal exhales a sigh of breath… and he brings one hand up, resting his mouth against his fist for a moment as he watches her back all the way to the wall. "Elle," he says then, his voice quiet, "Sit down. Rene's not going to change anything other than removing the details of classified information in your head… which you've already written down. You won't lose anything. And then you're free of the Company, free of the Institute, and free of anyone who'll fuck with your head ever again."

Elle keeps her back pressed against that wall, still looking fairly terrified. "Please, no…what if they erase Warren?! What if they turn me against you, take me back there?!" She shakes her head, nearly hysterical. "What if they erase my mom, or all the stuff that I've finally uncovered about my life, and turn me back into a brainwashed psychopath?" She slides down the wall, crouching in her corner and staring up at Cardinal with a deer-in-the-headlights look.

The hand drops down to the desk's surface, and Cardinal pushes himself up to his feet… stepping around the desk, he approaches her slowly, moving down to crouch beside her. "They won't," he says quietly, turning his hand up towards her, "I promise, Elle. They're not going to do anything more to you than I said."

The frightened look doesn't fade, though Elle calms slightly as she peers down at his hand. "I don't want them to erase Warren. I hated him and loved him before they fixed him. Now…he's like the best of all three personalities. He's so much better. I want to keep him around…" She frowns, reaching out to place her hand in Cardinal's. "And as long as I remember Warren, even if I don't remember their stupid classified information, I could turn him against them…"

"They won't." Cardinal's fingers close around hers in a warm clasp, his other hand lifting to brush the hair away from her brow, "I promise you that. They won't erase your memories of him, or your family… trust me, Elle. I'll make sure of that much, at least."

Elle frowns, nodding slowly at Cardinal. It's a gradual process, calming her down. "O— okay…" She reaches up with her free hand, rubbing at an eye. "I don't like this, Richard…I trust you. I don't trust them. And if they decide to do it anyhow, once Rene's in my head…there's not much you can do to stop them at that point." She frowns.

Cardinal arches a brow. "Yes there is," he replies bluntly, "All I need to do is ask you if you remember Warren, your family… and if you say no? Then I can shoot him." A faint, tight smile, "You can trust me, Elle."

She peers down at his hand for a long moment, before offering it a slight squeeze, nodding slowly. "Okay…" Elle looks up to him, tilting her head to one side. "And they won't pursue me after that? They'll just let me be?" She tucks her hair behind her ear. She'll agree to do it. That doesn't mean she likes it. But to get away from the Institute, it's worth it.

"So long as you don't go around electrocuting people in public," observes Cardinal in rather dry tones, "And I'll have to answer for that too, so…" His gaze meets hers, "…don't break my trust here, Elle. I've gone way out on a limb."

"I wasn't planning on it." Elle frowns. "Any public electrocutions in the past were typically caused by an external source. Being shot in the shoulder, having an empath induce panic attacks…I don't lose control like that unless I can't help it." She tilts her head toward Cardinal. "I wont break your trust, Richard. I'm not the most dependable person, but I like you, and Liz. You two have been wonderful to me." She meets his gaze. "And I want to keep trusting you…so I ask the same."

"Okay." Cardinal's chin dips in a slight nod, and he quirks a faint smile, teasing, "You did all but leap on Silver the second you found her, though, we're going to have to give you subtlety lessons…" A wink, and he pushes himself up to his feet, asking, "By the way… do you remember Jonas Zimmerman's daughter? Barbara?"

Elle rises to her feet, smiling faintly toward Cardinal. She's still not thrilled by even letting the Haitian touch her, but if Cardinal is going to shoot him if she can't remember important things, that makes her feel at least a little better. "I'll do my best to learn well from those lessons in subtlety." As he asks about Barbara, Elle's brows raise slightly. "Yeah, I remember her. She watched me every once in a while when I was a kid."

"You want me to give her your number? I should be meeting with her sometime soon…" Cardinal helps her up to her feet, his hand dropping down then, brows raising a little, "…figured maybe you could use a few more friendly faces that you already know."

"Yes…actually, I would like that very much." Elle nods slowly. "It's good to hear she's still around." She tilts her head to one side. "I…thank you for helping me, Richard. If it weren't for you, and for Liz, I'd probably be in one of those coffins right now, getting my brains fixed to the Institute's liking…"

"Yeah, well," Cardinal's lips twitch into a wry sort of smile, "Don't let it get around. I don't want my rep as New York's biggest bastard to be ruined, huh?" A wink, and he turns to head for the desk, "If you can stick around the building, we can get this done with today… and then you can get on with your life."

Elle smiles, lifting a finger and pressing it against her lips in a 'shh' motion. "It'll be our little secret. I'll make sure to tell everyone else that you're a trustworthy asshole." She smiles, moving to pick up the chair.

Then, her gaze becomes a bit stony as he makes note that it's going to happen today. Her chest expands as she takes a deep breath, and slowly releases it. Then, she nods. "Okay…"

"You can do this, Elle," Cardinal says, trying to meet her eyes, "Just be strong, okay? I'll be right with you the whole time… nobody's going to fuck with your personality, or personal memories, I promise."

Elle stares at Cardinal's desk, before raising her eyes to meet his gaze. "I don't like it…" She frowns. "But…I'm trusting you. That's not an easy thing for me to do, Richard." A soft sigh escapes her lips, and she moves to finally sit down.

"Then I'll try not to give you any reason not to," says Cardinal as he slides himself into the seat behind the desk, "So… what'd Liz send you for, anyway?"

"Well, she asked me to write everything I knew down. I filled up the notebook, and there's a really awesome sounding recipe for strawberry pudding cake in the front part that I left in there. You should get me a cake for having to go through this." Elle offers a halfhearted smile. "I figured I'd drop it off with you. That apartment is kind of…empty."

"We've got a surprising number of bakers floating around," Cardinal admits with a chuckle, his head shaking a little, "So I'm sure they'll love the recipe… and once we take care of this, you can go about freely without looking over your shoulder."

Elle nods. "Actually…could I possibly persuade you…" She blushes, her eyes turning down to the desk again. "…To throw me a birthday party?" She fidgets with the strap of her messenger bag. "Just, like…cake, and balloons, and a gift card or something. Doesn't have to be anyhing special…"

Cardinal's brows raise a little… and then he exhales a chuckle to that. "Sure. I can do that," he admits, "I'll talk to Liz about setting it up…"

He smiles faintly, "Happy Birthday, Elle."

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