Was That My Outside Voice?


cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Was That My Outside Voice?
Synopsis Clearing the air of yesterday's fight.
Date July 17, 2010

Elisabeth's (Cardinal's) Apartment, Dorchester Towers

This is a pretty standard two-bedroom apartment, although the occupant has gone to some effort to make it her own. Although the carpet is the ubiquitous beige, the walls are painted a soft rose-gray mauve shade, giving the main living space warmth. A dark gray sectional sofa sits in the living room facing an entertainment center that contains a state-of-the-art stereo system and a less upscale television setup. A coffee table sits in the curve of the sectional, and floor lamps bracket the ends of the furniture. The dining area hosts a four-seater square oak table and chairs, with the table generally host to a slew of mail and papers. An oak sideboard against the wall has candles on either end of it and a glass bowl with a fake arrangement of flowers. A small wine rack sits next to the sideboard, home to no more than nine bottles. The kitchen is small, but functional, painted a soft yellow color with a transparent blue glass backsplash. Off the living room are two bedrooms, one of which has the door closed and the other appears to be a home office. Its walls are a soft shade of green, and it contains a desk with a high-end computer setup and a bookcase stocked with textbooks.

She in fact didn't make it back to the apartment last night. Elisabeth slipped in somewhere in the afternoon while he slept and when Cardinal wakes finally, she is sprawled out at the dining room table with a laptop and papers all over the place. A pot of coffee sends the scent of warm caffeine out into the air, along with, wonder of wonders, a plate of chocolate chip cookies that smell like they may have come out of the oven not too long ago as well. She's helping herself to another one while she writes in a notebook next to the laptop.

A pair of jeans and an old band t-shirt's thrown on before Cardinal meanders out into the living room, drawn by the scent of coffee and of cookies. A step along up behind her, hands sliding over her shoulders as he peers down past her to the notebook, reaching along over to snag a cookie from the plate. "Morning," he murmurs, not that it is any such thing of course.

The pad of bare feet alerts her and Liz looks up, swallowing that bite of chocolate before smiling slightly. "Hey there," she returns softly. The hand writing in the notebook comes up, pen still in it though out of the way, to rest atop one of his on her shoulder. "Sleep okay?"

The page on which she's so furiously writing appears to be a ledger or a budget list of some kind. Lots of dollar signs are listed next to things like "power", "water", et cetera.

"Not really." Cardinal hasn't been sleeping well - or much - of late, although she might not really notice that, as she isn't here as often as she is, lately. The cookie's crunched down on, the bite chewed and swallowed as he looks over the page, "Mm. Accounting?"

Regret colors her features. "I'm sorry," she says quietly. And then she nods, putting the pen down, gesturing to a chair. "Want some coffee?" She'll get it for him if he wants it. "Yeah… for the business."

"It's not your fault." A quiet statement, and Cardinal leans down to peck a kiss against the top of her head, fingers brushing down through her hair before he draws back to head towards the kitchen, "I got it. And, cool."

That he's not sleeping? She knows that. Though it doesn't mean she's happy about it. "Richard…. " Elisabeth is cautious here, feeling like she's once more treading on not-quite-solid ground. Christ, relationships suck sometimes. But this one means enough to her that she's sharing space and actually working at it instead of walking as soon as stupid shit starts causing stress. "I'm sorry about yesterday," she says finally. "Tell me something honestly — and don't give me your knee-jerk reaction, okay? Really think about this. Do you trust me to know what I'm talking about when I tell you something?" She watches him as he fixes his coffee, the tone of her question not one of a pouty woman trying to manipulate him but a serious, honest one that she's putting to him because she's actually not entirely sure.

A ceramic mug's taken from a cabinet to be filled with coffee, Cardinal's head turning to look back over the breakfast bar to her as she asks the question. Then he turns back to pull the mug away from the pot, sliding the pot back into place on the machine. "Of course I do," he replies quietly, "What kind've a question is that?"

"One I thought maybe I should ask before I apologize for yesterday and try to figure out why you think I'm dead wrong about what needs to happen," Elisabeth says drily. "I've been a cop for a decade. I've seen and busted front businesses, I know cops who couldn't GET deep enough undercover to get past the front business."

She pauses and watches him fix his coffee. "I've lived this life for over two years. And yeah… I fucked up and got nailed. My 'cover,' so to speak, was blown. By choice, really, because what ultimately tipped them off was that I had too many informants and too much information that I couldnt' sit on at the expense of innocent lives." Liz shrugs. "I know what it takes to keep Homeland off our ass. Why are you fighting me so hard?"

The coffee cup is set down on the breakfast bar's counter, and Cardinal leans onto it from the kitchen side, arms folding against it. His gaze drops down to the steam rising from the surface of his beverage, and he's silent for long moments before dark eyes lift back up to regard her.

"It's…" A grimace, his head shaking a little, "…Liz, you're trying to turn this into a… a fucking life. You're still planning like there's going to be something left for us after all this is over." Flatly, he states, "There isn't."

"You know what. That may be part of it. Sure." Elisabeth can't deny it. She also points out, "And how many fucking times have we both been supposed to die and didn't?" Tilting her head, she says, "You've lived for so long assuming you don't have a future that you're panicking because I can still actually see one. I'm not stupid here. You know… if we die, we die. So be it." Her tone is equally flat.

"I made the suggestion of the business for a lot of reasons," she admits, a faint, rueful smile curling one corner of her mouth. "Maybe I think on some level that if you have a life to come back to, maybe you'll keep fighting to come back when all the odds are against it. Even if I'm dead already." Liz shrugs a little.

Those last words strike a chord, Cardinal's expression shutting down abruptly. The shadowman's gaze drops down to the coffee before him, fingers brushing against the sides of the mug with a light tap of short fingernails against the ceramic surface. He's silent for a long moment before saying quietly, "I'll always keep fighting, Liz. It's what I… it's what I do. Whether or not you're here."

"Well, that's good to know," Elisabeth tells him quietly. Moving to stand, she leans her own elbows on the breakfast bar and faces him across it. "I love you. It's… scary sometimes. We come from very different places and perspectives, and I get that. You can call this my way of taking care of you just in case, if that's what you want to do. It wouldn't be a lie."

She shrugs slightly and her blue eyes study him quietly. "I know that whatever it was you saw was bad. And I know …. based on your reactions after you saw it… that either you do something that you're afraid I can't forgive, or you saw something that was related to me." Elisabeth's a student of human nature, after all. "But I also suggested the business for all the practical reasons we've talked about. And even Kain Zarek and Laura Morgan, both of whom I'm pretty goddamn sure walk the dark side regularly, would tell you that if you actually want a front business…. you have to invest some time and energy into making it work. It has to look real. When Homeland sends someone in to raid our computers, to kick in our doors… it has to be legit. It's the only way to hide the rest of what we do behind that facade. If you don't want that, if you don't think it'll work, that's fine. Say so now. Because in spite of Kershner's adamant refusal to allow me to put my name in this paperwork because of the conflict of interest, I'm going to bust my ass for it every bit as much as I will bust my ass for what we're doing. And I don't want to be bothered if you're going to balk at every step I say is necessary." She pauses and smiles a little. "You have to trust that I haven't lost sight of the goal."

"I just don't see why we need to be super-connected to the Internet to be legit," Cardinal argues… entirely skipping a few points of what she said, his lips pursing in a tight grimace and his head shaking slowly, "I don't want to leave the doors wide open for Rebel to waltz in, Liz. The only way we've stayed ahead of him is because we've kept him at arm's length. If we don't stay low-tech, we lose that advantage, and then we're all pretty much fucked. Anyone who even walks in the god-damn building is marked, identified, and known."

"I'll concede that you may indeed have a point there. So I'm not going to keep arguing with you about it," Elisabeth says. "I think you may be overestimating Rebel's reach, however — and since neither one of us knows enough about a technopath's abilities, especially that one, I have a call in to Wireless for a meeting to get some of those answers for us. I'm going to bring her in as a consultant on how much of our office should be wired to find a compromise you can live with on this, okay? And I'm going to bring Laura in to help out with security in terms of low-tech enough to thwart Rebel on that end but still high-tech enough to actually be functional once we have those answers." Her tone is calm, but she's watching him carefully. "I'm asking you to trust that I know what I'm doing here, babe."

"I do trust you." Cardinal's gaze flicks up again, brows raising slightly as he asks dryly, "Can you trust me to at least have some fucking clue what I'm talking about, though? You've been treating me like I'm completely clueless and spitting out nonsense. We can argue on something without you having to storm away throwing up your hands, you know."

"Fft," Elisabeth laughs. "I didn't storm out. And I was actually attempting to simply back off the argument, not tell you that you were clueless. I am not particularly graceful at acceding to someone else's opinions, in case you hadn't noticed." She shrugs a little sheepishly, admitting, "I've spent over a year working on the business plan we're using. It was going to be my fallback if I had to leave the PD, assuming I wasn't in jail or dead. I'm a little…. sensitive to the criticism, I guess."

"If it was just a business, would've been fine… look…" Cardinal leans in a bit more, his brows raising slightly, "I'll make some concessions for the business end of things if you give me some for the other end of things, alright? You know that as far as I'm concerned, this is just… to facilitate our other business, because, fuck, as far as I'm concerned if we don't take care of our other business everyone's fucking dead anyway."

"Sounds like a fair compromise," Elisabeth replies quietly. She reaches out to cup his cheek in her hand and stands on her toes to kiss the tip of his nose lightly. "Especially since we probably are all dead no matter what," she adds in a light tone entirely belied by the despair that crosses her blue eyes when she says it. It's beginning to weigh her down. The nightmares are getting more frequent — something she's taken pains to hide from him even on the nights she stays here.

"Probably." Cardinal slides his hand over across the counter to cover hers in a squeeze as she kisses his nose, his head tilting up to brush a kiss softly back to her lips, murmuring there, "So let's try to leave the world… a better place when we're done, okay?"

The facetious thought pops out of Liz's mouth before she has time to censor it. "No way… I'm just going to trash the joint. Vibrate it to little molecules. Gillian'll help." Both her brows shoot up and she gives him shfity eyes, teasingly, across the bar. "Was that my evil mastermind outside voice?"

"You need a white cat for that." A smirk from Cardinal, and he draws back, pulling the mug with him, "I need to talk to Hana anyway. Show me the numbers on the business, will you?"

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