Treading Water


cardinal3_icon.gif elisabeth2_icon.gif

Scene Title Treading Water
Synopsis Trying to keep from drowning.
Date Apr 14, 2010

Elisabeth's Apartment, Dorchester Towers

The message popped up as Elisabeth was getting into the shower after PT, so she opted to head for her apartment to shower and wash her hair instead. She's in far better shape these days than she was in the cops, though she was no slouch about her exercise then either. But it's a whole new world with a bunch of mostly military types. The changes are subtle — the way her sweatpants fit her a little more loosely than before, and not because she's just plain not eating. The healthy color to her face, though her eyes give away that she is still both stressed and perhaps not getting enough sleep. The way the musculature in her arms and shoulders is more defined beneath the tank-top she's padding around her apartment in. Her blond mass of hair is still damp and it's longer than shoulder length again, though it still hasn't regained the length that had to be sacrificed due to massive head trauma.

The apartment is not quiet, though the stereo is also not loud. Elisabeth is singing along with some girl group. "~ So stand in the rain, stand your ground. Stand up when it's all crashing down. You stand through the pain; you won't drown. And one day what's lost can be found. Stand in the rain. ~"

"I am never going to let you live this down," whispers Cardinal as the tattered shadow of his being peels over the wall slowly, "You realize this, right…? You are singing along with some girl group… what's their name?" Their name…

Turning at the whisper, Elisabeth laughs softly at him and picks up the tea she was fixing at the counter to walk toward the living room. "Superchick," she admits dryly, going to turn the music down, the next lyrics fading away. She won't make a sound. Alone in this fight with herself and the fears whispering if she stands she'll fall down…

"Hello, love." Curling herself into the corner of the couch next to the end table, she looks… comfortable. If tired. Her voice has a husky, rough sound to it, though — and the cough she covers would explain why. It's nearly gone, but if the wet sound of it is any indication, it may have been bronchitis. "It's nice to see you in person instead of texting with you into the wee hours," she murmurs with a smile. "To what do I owe the face-to-… shadow?"

There's a quiver of humor to that torn darkness, shadows spilling slowly over the back of the couch and its cushions, "…Superchick? You're listening to a band called Superchick? I've lost all respect for you, lover…." A whispered little chuckle as Cardinal settles there beside her, as much as he can in any case. "At least you could find a band with a cooler name. Seriously. Superchick…" Tsk…

"I… needed to run something by you. Kain called me, there's a precognitive painter that did a piece of Linderman going down like Caesar, with all the faces ones we know. Daniel's house of cards is going down…" Down…

Rolling her eyes, Elisabeth smirks around her tea. "You caught me. I have an eclectic taste in music, and girl groups do sort of get included." She tilts her head as she watches him flow over the sofa and into its spot next to her. But the information he brings with him this time causes her eyebrows to shoot up. "Seriously?" she asks, her tone thoughtful. "Wow… now that's a picture I'd like to get a look at." She purses her lips, pondering.

"Peyton should've brought it down to the library," admits Cardinal, "That's not what I'm here about, though. Kain wants in - completely in. I told him that I'd need to talk to someone, which would be you, of course…" Endgame…

There's a long moment of silence, and Liz seems uncertain how to respond to that. To buy herself a moment of time, she sips her tea and tries to work through that development in her head. "Uhm…. okay. So … here's the thing. Why?" She sets the mug of sweetened, whisky-doctored tea on the end table, her hand coming up to rub her forehead in perplexity. "Kain's generally not into things for anyone but himself, if I understand the man right. So why the hell would he want in on this? Except, of course, that you've told him that he gets to be the man in power when Linderman falls. Do you think he can be brought around to understand what we're doing and why?"

"Zarek's… pretty much fucked," Cardinal admits quietly, "He wants out… badly… if it wasn't for me giving him a bit of hope, I'm pretty sure he would've drunk his ass to death by now. I think that he's— smarter than he acts, sometimes. I think we might be able to bring him around…" Around…

Elisabeth considers that situation, and then nods slowly. "Well, Christ, Richard…. who the hell are we to turn down anyone who wants to throw their asses into the fray?" she finally asks ruefully. Glancing at him, she comments, "I don't know Zarek. I don't even think I've met the man in person. If he's a plant — and it's possible, though based on what seemed to be going on in his life when his funds were siphoned away it seems less than probable — then there's little he can tell anyone except the names of the people helping us. And frankly? It's a motley group at best. Our immediate little group consists almost entirely of you, me, and Peyton. With occasional appearances by the underground indestructible blond, the fairy Feeb, and ex-healer, and the Company agent. Have I missed anyone? I think we've got it covered mostly. We've got a large circle of people that we drift in and out of operations with, but…." She shrugs a bit. "Kain's no worse an addition than Jessica. Who, by the way, has turned up and wants all-in as well."

"Good… good… she's in the picture as well, so I figured she'd show up sooner or later…" A whispered little chuckle from Cardinal, painted with rue, "…if we can pull this off, Liz, we'll have the resources of the Group at our disposal. Then we can really start working on a whole new level." New level…

"Any other news? I… may have missed a few days…" Or so. A week, really.

"Nothing…. well, I was going to say nothing major, but I guess it's major in personal terms," Elisabeth admits. "Francois and Teo and I are going to attempt to hit Vanguard ourselves. If it works out, the situation should be over. If it doesn't…." She pauses. "Well, if it doesn't and we all survive, then we'll move on to the other plan." The one that he disliked rather intensely. Although she's not sure he'll like THIS one any better. "The guys are going to use one of our allies to lure Dreyfus out. Raith apparently has some kind of arrangement going on that might make Dreyfus trust the contact from him."

"Raith… just make sure you know which side he's on, lover. The King of Swords is just as unpredictable as his counterparts, and you know how fucking dangerous it is dealing with Kershner…" A sigh stirs on a shadowy whisper, darkness sliding over her arm and shoulder, "…just be careful." Careful..

Elisabeth ffts softly and admits, "I have no idea who is any side, Richard. Even me sometimes." As he slides up over her shoulder, she reaches up to touch him and offers a soft smile. "How're you holding up, babe? I worry about you."

"Abigail took the Formula. She hasn't… manifested anything yet, though," Cardinal murmurs beside her ear, "I don't know if she will… maybe we wasted it, but, why would Tamara let me? I don't know…" Don't know…

Shock. Elisabeth goes utterly stock still in absolute shock. "Abby did …. what??" She jerks under the onslaught of a wave of anxiety that triggers the dreaded stutter. "Y-y-y-you d-d-d-didn't t-t-tell m-m-m-m-m-me!" That's your plan Ray?? "Wh-wh-what did T-T-T-T-…. shit," she forces out, sucking in a deep breath and moving to sit more upright to try to get a better grip of the reaction. Breathe in, breathe out, settle down…. "Why?" she finally asks. "The formula doesn't guarantee Abby a healing power, if I remember right."

As she starts to stutter, the shadowy form recoils from her like water blown away from the shore by a sudden wind, tatters and streamers of it scattering and splintering around the edges. "I… didn't want you to worry," Cardinal hisses, "It doesn't — guarantee, no, but — I need a healer, Elisabeth. I need a strong one, and… none of the ones in the city could do it. Unless we fucking — nailed Adam to a wall and exsanguinated him or something, I don't — it was her choice." Her choice…

She hates this response. It has been decades since she had to deal with this and she feels like a complete fool every time it happens. Clenching her jaw tightly, Elisabeth is quiet for a long few moments, struggling to keep her emotions under her control and to get her voice steady as well. She looks toward him finally and says quietly, "Y-Y-you do not get t-to keep things from me. Not like this." Her tone is firm in spite of the stammer that still peeps out. "I am not some hothouse flower that you get to protect from the bad shit, Richard. It makes me worry more when I find out you're not telling me shit."

Resting her elbows on her knees, keeping her blue eyes on his tattered, shredded form, Liz adds softly, "And of course it was her choice." It was never in any way a question that he wouldn't have coerced Abby. He would never have had to. Elisabeth has watched Abby's struggle to recover from losing her gift. "How…. how bad off are you?" Her tone is concerned, but she's an adult. She will survive — people only die of heartbreak in the movies.

"I think I missed a week or so, Liz…" A quiet, contrite whisper from the shadows upon the couch, "…it's… hard. The light hurts more. I've been holding on for months now, and it's… it doesn't help that I know how bad it is, that I saw— felt— " My hand…

Silence, the darkness curling up upon itself, "I just thought… it might work." Work…

There is no surprise in her expression. Somehow, Elisabeth has been waiting for this news since he first came back. The state that he's in …. it can't be sustainable indefinitely. "If it doesn't, I'm going to tell Kershner exactly what state you're in and lean on her to find us a healer," she says quietly. "I don't care what it costs. I don't care what it takes. She already knows you're alive anyway, and you were hurt on her watch." She stops and the urgency she feels bleeds into her tone. "I'm not giving up on you, Richard." She clasps her hands tightly between her knees.

"You have your own worries, Liz…" The shadow of Cardinal stirs worriedly, edges splintering and fluttering, "…I can deal with this. I'll figure out a way. Don't— don't worry about me too much. I'll be fine…" Be fine…

Blond brows shoot to her hairline. "You didn't honestly say something so stupid to me, right?" Elisabeth's tone is fraught with amusement. "Loving you doesn't mean that you become the center of my world, but it does mean that your worries and mine overlap. I couldn't have told you not to worry about me when I was shot in the head and having panic attacks. And you can't tell me not to worry when you eat a nuke and drift apart in shreds, lover," she says gently. "And it does mean you don't get to tell me meaningless platitudes about being fine before you drift into oblivion and are gone from my life."

"Sure it does." A wry little twist of Cardinal's tone, trying to stir humor, "Just doesn't mean you need to listen…"

Elisabeth laughs quietly. "Okay… fair enough." She reaches up and shoves a hand through her hair, blowing out a breath and then coughing into the crook of her elbow. When she sits back into the sofa, she picks up her tea and sips from it. "All right…. so Jessica's all-in, and now Kain's all-in. It's probably not enough. Who is in the painting? Anyone we need to get to?"

"I didn't recognize some of the faces," Cardinal admits, "And it's not as if we need to recruit most of them. I'm certainly not bringing John fucking Logan into our team…" Our team… The shadows curl about her shoulders like a mantle, "We'll play it by ear."


"Oh Lord…." Elisabeth sighs and shakes her head. "Life is getting more and more bizarre. Raith, Logan, Kershner…. we keep winding up working with the oddest assortment of people." She smiles a little. "That line in the sand got lost in the tidal wave, I think."

"Just keep treading water, Liz," Cardinal murmurs, "Just keep treading water until we see land. That's all we can do…"

Her laughter is softer now and she moves to settle deeper into the couch, leaving her tea on the end table as she does it. "So come over here and snuggle intangibly with me, brat," Elisabeth murmurs quietly. She'll settle for what she can get — time with him while he's coherent. Just in case not too long from now, he's not here anymore.

She won't turn around. The shadows are long and she fears if she cries that first tear, the tears will not stop raining down…

"Tell me about the pictures you take, Richard?" Elisabeth asks softly. "You had skylines that are incredible in a box of pictures. How do you choose which views are worth keeping?" If this is the only way it happens, then she'll learn everything there is to know about this man before he drifts away. And she'll keep desperately hoping that something will help.

Those jagged-edged shadows, torn and tattered like second-hand jeans, drape over her in a shadow of contact—curled about her shoulders and her arms as she invites him closer. Cardinal's voice is quiet, but it doesn't need to be louder where it is, soft beside her ears as he whispers, "They're all worth keeping… you don't really appreciate it until you've been locked up. Until all you've had are the same walls for so long…" So long…

There are many ways she can take that… considering that she found pictures of his women, including herself, in there as well. "When you have a place to actually stay and hands to touch them with, I'll give the box back to you. I put it and all the sparkly things into my safe deposit box so they wouldn't get lost." Elisabeth smiles a little, curling up there to listen to his voice in her ear with her eyes closed. "Besides Tahiti… where in the world would you want to go see if you could, and why?" There's a trace of amusement again. All the weird little 'date' questions, right?

Hey, she was asking about the landscapes and skylines, not the women! At the randomness of the question, a soft chuckle stirs from the shadows, and Richard murmurs, "Good question. I'm really not sure… I've done more travelling in the last year than I thought I'd ever actually do…"

Elisabeth snickers quietly. "Weeeeelllll….. gotta tell you, lover, Antarctica was not on my list of places to see. Germany. Rome. Egypt. Hell… Angola on a motorcycle. That would rock." She slides her hand along her shoulder where he rests. He can't feel it, but hey. "You always take me to the nicest places, Richard," she quips. "Ice and penguins and nukes. Hmmm."

"I wouldn't mind going back to Argentina again, when there's less bloodshed going on," admits Cardinal, "I'd like to see the Wonders, too… the Pyramid, the Wall, you know, all the ones that're still around. What was Russia like? Aside from the mission, that is…" //Russia../

"I didn't see much of it," she admits softly. "It was …. like most college towns, I guess, really. Abby and I did a little bit of sightseeing early on, and ran into a gaggle of babooshkas who talked and clucked around us at a tea house." Elisabeth laughs quietly. "Abby was horrified, but… my grandmother was straight off the boat from Italy — my grandfather met her in World War II. So I've visited some of the relatives, and they're all… gregarious people. It didn't really bother me at all, it was kinda sweet. They were nice to us. But as far as the place itself, I couldn't really tell you much about the attractions."

"Italy," Cardinal muses, "I wouldn't mind visiting Italy, sometime… I could really make a name for myself as an art thief there…" He's probably kidding. Probably.

She laughs at him. "I'm not sure whether to be horrified or amused," Liz admits. "But if we ever get the chance to go, I have extended family there. We're not close, but we've met a few times. And they always invited us to come see them whenever we wanted. I extend the invitation to you."

An amused little murmur from Cardinal answers that, "It was hard enough to meet your father, Liz. What the hell would I tell your entire family? How would I explain how we met, anyway?" Anyway…

"You could tell them we fucked like rabbits on a rooftop," Elisabeth shoots back tartly. "Or we could just keep it simple and tell them 'through mutual friends'. I'm not suggesting I'm taking to be vetted, Richard. I'm a full-grown woman, I don't feel the need to explain my actions." Her smile is soft. "And the fact that my father allowed you to be buried next to my mother should really tell you all you ever need to know about his opinion," she adds quietly. Sure, he didn't have a body there, but it's a big deal to Catholics. All consecrated ground and family plots and such.

They curl together talking quietly long into the night about all those weird little things that you usually learn over dinner.

And one day what's lost can be found

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