They Don't Call it Labor Day for Nothing


cardinal_icon.gif jessica_icon.gif luther_icon.gif monica_icon.gif niki_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif

Scene Title They Don't Call it Labor Day for Nothing
Synopsis Peyton and Monica bring home their stray. Nothing really goes as anybody expected it might.
Date September 6, 2010

Redbird Security - Main Lobby

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.

"…and apparently even Elle doesn't want to deal with him now," Cardinal says, standing in the doorway of his office as he talks to Niki - or Jessica? - in the hallway, glancing down at the smartphone in his hand whose softly illuminated screen casts his hand in bright colour, "I don't blame her, mind you, the sonuvabitch is a fucking lunatic. If he wasn't Ray's son I'd just have him killed, but he still might have some use somewhere along the way."

It was supposed to just be a routine outing for Monica and Peyton. So the addition of a third body following them home is enough of a mystery without the added fun of that third body being a smelly homeless man. "…is our office," Monica is just saying to Luther as the trio makes their way inside. She's giving the guy a bit of an odd look, even though her tone is friendly enough. He's been staring. "Come on in."

The lobby has a seating area, and Peyton nods to the chairs with a smile bestowed on the injured man, turning to lock the doors behind them. Whether or not it's time, they're closed now.

"Take a seat. I'll go get the first aid kit. Monica, you know how to do anything useful with that?" she says with a little grin toward the mimic. "Let me find the boss." And with that she strides through the lobby, heading toward the voices she hears in the hallway. "Card? We, uh, have that guest for you." When she finds him in the office, the fact she's been crying just a touch shows through the smudges of her mascara. "Doctor Brennan helped to get him away from the bad guys," she says in a low voice. "I mean, I assume they were bad guys. And he wanted us to bring this guy to his house but I kicked him out of the car." She swallows, and her eyes fill with tears again. "You should have seen the look he gave me."

Trying not to lag, trying not to stare, and trying not to look completely out of place walking through the facilities of Redbird Security. Luther's gaze doesn't stray far from Monica, but he can't help but stare at the symbol of the firm. Don't mind the stink, or the week old beard a hand reaches up, post-wince, to grasp. Left behind with Monica, he eventually returns to staring in her general direction. Discreetly. After all, she can kick a guy's ass down.

Cardinal's companion looks up when Peyton heads toward them. She stops herself just short of narrowing her eyes. That look isn't meant for her. She lids her eyes heavily instead and growls, "I need some aspirin." She turns on the heel of her gladiator-style sandals and stalks back toward the offices. She's still dressed for summer in cutoff shorts and a red tank top. If there was any doubt as to which of the Sanders women Cardinal may be talking to, the peek of the half strand of RNA on her shoulderblade settles it.

"I'll be back in a minute," Jessica grumbles. But she stops short and looks over her shoulder to Peyton sympathetically. "Come on," she urges. "Let's get you freshened up, too."

As there's voices from the lobby, Cardinal looks up. The man's brows lift over the edge of his shades, and - still in his street clothes - he heads along down to the call for him, brow furrowing at the sight of Peyton's distress. That causes him to pick up his p ace a bit, and the mention of Brennan causes him to grimace. "Christ. I barely remembered he existed… you did the right thing, Pey," he says gently, reaching over to her shoulder to give it a squeeze, "Here, go with Jess, okay? It's alright…" A lean in close, looking to her, and then towards Monica and the 'guy they saved'."

Blink. Blink. "You're the van guy."

Monica gives Peyton a sympathetic look, but as her cousin takes charge, she's left back with the staring homeless guy. Her gaze slides over to him, too, but she looks away after a moment. Craaaazy homeless people.

"Wait, you know this guy?" She asks when Cardinal approaches, and she looks over at Luther more purposefully. How? comes to mind, but is left unspoken.

Lo, it is the van guy. Luther's even dressed in the exact same clothes as when Cardinal and he initially met. At Cardinal's appearance… Blinking, it happens. Suddenly, he's even more uncomfortable than being the guy with a broken rib or two. Time to really start worrying. Yet the first thing to come out of Luther's mouth to Cardinal is, "I haven't finished the book."


"I'm okay," Peyton murmurs, dropping her gaze from Cardinal's scrutiny and blushing a little at the fact she's crying again. She hastily wipes her eyes and follows Jessica toward the restroom — it is, after all, where the first-aid kit is, anyway, so she may as well let herself go along and be consoled by … Jessica? She isn't sure how that's going to work, but she takes a deep breath. "I'll be right back. I'll be okay. I just… I couldn't trust him and he looked at me so hurt. I mean, we worked together on Staten, and he helped me when I needed it…" she babbles a little on the heels of Jessica.

"You did good, Peyton," Jessica assures the younger woman. "It's not always easy, doing the things we need to do, but we have to do it."

The blonde holds the door open for Peyton to slip in behind her. In the bathroom mirror, Jessica is content to take a step back and let Niki take control. "Here." Niki flips down the seat on the toilet, directing the girl to sit down. She crouches and tears a sheet of tissue off the roll on the wall, wadding it up carefully.

"Look up," Niki murmurs, waiting for Peyton to comply before she gently swabs the tissue under her eyes, wiping away the traces of smudged make-up.

At the statement about the book, Cardinal's lips twitch in a faint smile of almost-amusement. "That's all right," he says simply, "I found a copy already." His gaze cuts over to Monica, then, and he arches both brows to her. "So what exactly happened?"

"We were just on out way out to Pey's car, and spotted this guy getting beat up. Brennan jumped in to help, I did, too, and then Pey was the get away driver for the four of us when the sirens started heading out way. And then we kicked the doctor out." Monica looks over at Luther again, frowning a little bit before she looks back to Cardinal. "We thought he could use a place to rest. They were doin' a number on him."

Luther eyes Monica more as she gives the explanation of what had occurred, not putting his commentary in just yet. More important than the reasons behind the attack, though, is the man's pride peeking through the shiner. He could've handled them. "Brooklyn's not what it used to be," is his explanation. After a slight pause, he dares to say, "Not to be rude but, this doesn't exactly look like a shelter." Expectantly, he glances between Monica and Cardinal.

Peyton complies with Niki's demands, her eyes still welling up with tears, though she nods. "I know. I know. He's Department of Evolved Affairs or Institute or whatever else, and I can tell that guy out there isn't registered — when I said I was going to call the cops, he looked at me like Bambi in the headlights, so there's no way I was going to let Doc go home with him, even if he meant the best for him. As it is — shit, he's probably already suspicious as hell, but what the hell was I supposed to do?"

Peyton stands and reaches for the first-aid kit. "I'm okay. It's just been a little rough lately," she says abruptly, then glances over at the blonde. "Thanks." And with that she's back out into the hallway, to hand the kit to Monica.

Niki squeezes Peyton's hand gently before she departs. "It's not your fault. He's on the wrong side. If he's truly a good person, he won't go poking around and trying to figure out why you're acting strangely." She offers a smile and lets Peyton go, retrieving the aspirin from a shelf and swallowing down two tablets dry.

The blonde leans against the sink and looks at her reflection. The two don't exchange words, just looks. Niki's is softer, showing the sorrow she feels for the delicate balance that Peyton is forced to strike in this position of theirs. Jessica offers a small shrug. What can they do? Though she doesn't put it into words, Jessica assures Niki that Peyton will do just fine. After shaking away some of the tension, she heads back toward the lobby to join the others.

"And you don't look like the sort of man that reads Suresh's work," Cardinal ripostes without missing so much as a beat, his gaze swept back to Monica and her explaination to admit, "Most of the upper floor apartments aren't taken yet, although they aren't exactly furnished or anything. I suppose the carpets could be comfortable. Water's on, though."

That said, and half-offered, he sweeps his sunglass-shielded gaze back to Luther, one eyebrow lifting over the edge of his shades. "What is your name, anyway? I don't think I ever caught it."

When Peyton emerges with the first aid, Monica comes over to take it from her, her other hand giving Pey's arm a reassuring squeeze. But when she looks back over to Luther, there's just a moment of hesitation before she comes over to his side again. "Where's it hurt the worst? We'll start there. Anything bleeding?"

"The man didn't know what he started when he wrote that book," Luther replies, his tone unable to keep out a sense of fresh bitterness and close to home pain to it. An inward debate shifts back and forth visibly on Luther's face at Cardinal's inquiry as the women come back into the lobby, and he stalls by turning to Monica's questions instead. "I'm fine. Just gotta walk it off," claims the homeless man and he attempts to straighten up to full height. Bad. Bad idea. He immediately makes a grimace and curls to make the pressure come off the cracked ribs. To top it all off, the man looks feverish.

"Are you… are you evolved, sir?" Peyton asks, moving to the water cooler to get a styrofoam cupful of water to bring to the man and pressing it into his hands, then reaches into the kit to find some Tylenol and hands that to him.

"If so…" she glances over at Cardinal, apology in her eyes. "I can see about bringing him to Catherine or someone, you know," she offers. Catherine is a common enough name it's not giving anything away, rather than saying the F word in front of someone who may not be in the know.

Niki stands at the mouth of the hallway, leaning against the wall and staring into the lobby. She watches the way Monica and Peyton handle the situation with a look of unmistakeable pride. She thinks for a moment about speaking up, but… She would rather see the situation play out. See how resourceful the younger girls are. Cardinal brought them on for a reason, after all.

At the bitter statement about Suresh's book, Cardinal exhales a rough snort. "He understood more than you might," he says, in the sort of tone that suggests he isn't a fan of the man in question. A pause as he straightens, then curls, and he notes dryly, "Right. You're fine. Bullshit. We could just hand you over to a hospital - of course, since last week they test your blood for the SLC as a matter of basic bloodwork, and there's cops constantly stationed there in case something goes wrong, but I'm sure they're loads more trustworthy than us."

The sarcasm done, he tells Monica, "Make sure he doesn't just walk off before he gets medical attention, alright?"

"Don't worry, Rich. My little brother is the same way when he gets hurt- stubborn." Monica puts a hand on her hip and the other one (gently!) on Luther's shoulder. "Are you gonna sit down and let me make sure you're not seriously hurt or do I have to kick your butt, too?" She lifts an eyebrow there, her expression not entirely serious there.

Luther had been doing fine, like he said, up until the E-bomb gets dropped on the situation. The man suddenly seems cornered by it, and the strangers surrounding don't help, especially Cardinal's suggestion about hospitals. What do cornered, injured animals do? Once Monica's hand touches onto his warmer-than-should-be-normal shoulder, it's the straw. Luther lifts his hand and lets out a burst of bright light, flashbang style without the actual bang. Hopefully enough to blind the group, but regardless of the outcome, he's turning to make a getaway.

Peyton covers her eyes with a soft gasp at that flash of light, her weary eyes already tired from crying on and off the past few days like a faucet, and stumbles back in fear — light can mean a lot of bad things: lasers, fire, explosions, oh my — and trips over another seat in the lobby, landing unceremoniously with her rear in the cushion and her legs over the arm of it, perhaps flashing just a little too much leg in her short dress. "Fuck!"

The benefit to having stood back to be a silent observer means that Niki realises something's coming in the tension of Luther's movements precious seconds before it happens. She doesn't know what's coming, however. And though she turns her head away instinctively, it doesn't save her from the whole brunt of that sudden flash that too brightly illuminates the room.

And makes a reflective surface of the shiny new logo hanging upon the wall. On glossy black, Niki is blinking and rubbing away spots. Stepping out of the hallway, Jessica is on the move.

The blonde pushes off the wall, breaking off after Luther in a run. A vicious growl sounds from the back of Jessica's throat.

As that sudden eruption of light glares like a momentary supernova in the lobby, the protection of Cardinal's sunglasses - flimsy at the best of times - just about manages to keep his photosensitive eyes from any permanent damage caused by the flare right in front of him. That doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt.

"Motherfucker— !" The shades go flying as her jerks his head away violently, one hand coming up to clamp over his eyes as he stumbles back a step and half-falls against the edge of the receptionist's desk, teeth clenched to clamp back his agonized reaction to a sharp and prolonged hiss.

At ground zero with Cardinal, Monica gets the brunt of that one, too. Although, less seriously than Cardinal. Blinded, she dances backward a few steps, just in case he's about to make with the violence in her general direction. But no, he doesn't and she's left to wait for her vision to clear. "Rich, you need help over there?"

Not having stopped to see the results of his imitation of an evolved squid, Luther is off and limping to the best of his ability through the hallway of Redbird Security. He's not stealthy; he's desperate.

And, he wishes he had paid more attention to where the hell they walked instead of staring at Monica. Every step sends fire lancing in his chest and forces him to slow his pace. Jessica is breathing right down his neck in less than a minute's chase.

"Ah, shit, I'm sorry, Card…" Peyton cries out, scrambling to her feet and rubbing her eyes to try to get the negative reflection out of her eyes of the giant flash bulb. "Mister! We're not trying to hurt you… you can go, you can… the door's right here, man!" she calls to Luther as he goes hobbling away, moving to unlock and open the door to let him out if he's so desperate. "But we can help you. If not, you're free to go. We're not here to keep anyone."

Jessica puts on a burst of speed and reaches out to grab a handful of the back of Luther's clothes and haul him back. "Ohhhhh no. No, no. He doesn't just get to go," she snarls, pulling him off balance with the sheer strength she uses to send him wheeling back toward the room at large and down onto the floor.

"You try that bullshit stunt again and I'll break the rest of your ribs," the hitter warns, one sandaled foot pressed to the middle of the man's back. It doesn't carry nearly the weight the threat of a stiletto through the temple. But, really. Jessica can't be expected to walk around in heels all the time, waiting for just such an occasion to present itself.

"A new pair of eyes would be nice," Cardinal replies in tight, pained tones to Monica's question, keeping his hand over his eyes and their lids closed tight, "Failing that, I think I'm going to fucking survive." He doesn't move very much. He's steady against the edge of the desk, and he's staying right there, thank you very much. If he moves, he's going to fall over. Also it may hurt an awful lot.

Well, she wouldn't call her vision clear, really, but blurry shapes are something, at least. And voices are nice to follow. Plus, she's graceful! And that's how Monica makes her way over to put her hand on Cardinal's back, which really ends up being more like his side, but close enough! "Sorry, boss. We ran out of eyes last week. When I can see again, though, I'll get you a stiff drink." Which is a fair consolation prize. Sort of.

Luther utters a short gurk as his forward progress is yanked to a halt and he's sent hurtling back. The man hits the shined floor with a choked sound of pain. The foot on his back draws out a strangled grunt, and flip him over, he's pretty done now. "Ok, ok! You win," he coughs out amidst laying prone on the floor.

"Ni— Jessica! Damn it, let him…" Like talking sense is going to work on Jessica. Peyton whirls to look at Monica steadying Cardinal, and her pupils stretch, eating up the coppery brown of her eyes until her irises look almost completely black, as she takes in the world from Cardinal's view — and sees that he can't see anything but white fuzz.

"Oh, shit," Peyton murmurs, her voice cracking and her eyes tearing up again as her focus returns to her own half-blotted out world, thanks to that now-fading orange blot that turns blue when she closes her eyes.

"I'm sorry!" Peyton blurts again, grabbing her purse and her keys. "Stay with Cardinal, Mon, he can't fucking see a thing."

Without another word, she pushes through the door, leaving them with the homeless man she demanded come with them, and runs to the Mercedes she never drives. She'll have to sit for ten minutes before she can see clearly enough to actually drive it home.

From the reflection created by the logo for Redbird Security, Niki is slapping her palms flat against what can only be described as the inside of the surface, if not entirely accurately. She's shouting at Jessica for her rash thinking. Was this worth it? She watches sympathetically after Peyton, her own vision only slowly beginning to clear.

Jessica lifts her foot off Luther's prone form and huffs a strand of blonde hair from her face. She sends a glare to her annoyed reflection. Look, Nik', his flight instincts triggered my fight instincts. That's not my fault. Perhaps more gently than she could, Jessica helps pull Luther back to his feet again. "You do stuff like that, you make like you're attacking my people? I lash out. Keep your head, let her," her head is tilted toward Monica, "look you over, and take a rest upstairs. Enjoy a night off the street. I'll even bring breakfast in the morning." You know, no hard feelings or anything.

Jessica ushers Monica toward her. "You take care of him." Her gaze settles on their boss. I've got Richard.

"I'm fine… I'm fine!" As there's all the concern poured in Cardinal's direction, he grimaces, lifting one hand in an awkward wave as if to brush everyone away - awkward because he's trying not to hit anyone and he's not actually that sure where they are. He knows Monica is right there next to him, roughly, but that's about it.

Pride? Yeah, he's got plenty, and all the worry over him is definately a crimp in his style.

"Just… get him patched up and on his fucking way," he mutters, shifting to move in a shuffle around the edge of the desk, hand sliding over the side, reaching out with the other to try and find the edge of the hallway, apparently intending to go back to his office or something. Fortunately there's not much to trip over on the way.

What Cardinal hears in response to that is a sigh from Monica and something muttered that sounds like 'bull-headed men'. She gives a nod to Jessica as they move to switch targe- I mean patients, grabbing the first aid kit as she moves over to crouch down next to Luther.

"Are you gonna let me have a look atcha now?" It's a tired plea.

Teeth gritting, Luther staggers up with the help of Jessica/Niki, whichever one is leading the road to conditional compassion. He steals a glance back towards Cardinal and Monica, watching with no small amount of guilt to his expression now as he takes in the situation anew. "My name," he says with a nod of relenting to Monica's ministrations, "is Luther. Luther Bellamy." With all revealed, he makes to stand unsteadily and go with Monica to where he's directed for the night.

Pride or not, Jessica is quick to glide up behind Cardinal, grabbing his elbow and more or less forcibly guiding him toward his own office. "Seriously? Don't even," she mutters into his ear. Whether she means don't even begin the lecture or don't even act like you aren't wandering blind or whatever, she doesn't care to specify.

There's a disgruntled sound from Cardinal as he's grabbed and guided in the direction of his office, but he doesn't move to pull away, possibly because he's afraid that Jessica will accidentally rip off his arm if he tried that. "If you can get me some percocet from the medical supplies," he mutters, "And some water I'd appreciate it. My head feels like someone played a fucking drum solo on my face."

"Alright, Luther. Now, I'm sorry about getting you spooked, but we're really not gonna… Well, Jessica gets into it sometimes, but she's cool when you get to know her…" Very reassuring. Monica does get him somewhere that's not sitting out in the lobby to look him over and dress his wounds as best she can. Luckily, brawling bruises she can handle.

The energy seems to have gone out of Luther, along with the ebb of adrenaline from before. It makes way for the throbbing pain and stiffness to set, leaving him slow and docile for Monica to tend. He'll be out for the rest of the night by the time she's done. And thankfully, the smell is just a shower and a shave away from being obliterated.

Jessica manoeuvres Cardinal to his chair, trusting that one he's got his hand on the back of it he can figure out how to sit himself down. He's not an invalid, after all. And she is not his fucking nanny. With a sound of assent from the back of her throat, she heads away from the office to gather the medical supplies.

"I don't even know how she gets away with this shit," Niki grumbles as she steps back into the office a few minutes later with the percocet and two glasses of water. "I have a worse headache now than I did before." She nudges the door with her foot, giving it the momentum to swing shut behind her as she steps toward the desk. She groans.

"Next time, can we just take the holiday off, Richard?"

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