Watching Them Walk Out The Door


aric_icon.gif cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif niki_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif

Scene Title Watching Them Walk Out The Door
Synopsis The team heading for Braintree is leaving, and Aric and Liz are left to deal with the rest.
Date Oct 10, 2010

Redbird Security Solutions, Basement

The ear-splitting crack of bullets cutting through the air perforates a paper target hanging in front of a concrete wall, three shots in rapid sequence before the pistol in Richard Cardinal's hand is lowered. He brings a hand up to tug off the ear protection, stepping over to smack the button that brings the target on its wire back towards the front of the line.

There's two center mass, one a bit low. "I'm getting rusty," he mutters, "Need to work on that."

There's just an hour or two before they head north to try and rescue an old and occasional enemy, but that doesn't mean he can't get in a little practice beforehand.

Elisabeth is just stepping off the bottom stair when the faint sounds from the firing range draw her blue eyes. She doesn't hear him because he's behind the glass and doesn't want to interrupt him, but as she sees him take the ear guards off, she says quietly — and with that enhanced penetrating sound that she manages without shouting a bit — "Richard, we came down to finish packing up the weapons. If you're ready." She glances at Peyton with a faint smile.

Peyton's eyes are distant and dilated, meaning she isn't watching Cardinal shoot, and when she doesn't turn at Liz's approach, it's likely she's not listening to anything in the room either. A moment later she blinks, and her eyes return to normal. She turns, hearing the tail end of Liz's words and offers a smile to the blonde, lifting a cup of coffee in a hello before taking a sip.

"Hey, Liz," she says softly. "Sorry, I didn't catch anything you said, if you were talking to me."

In sharp contrast to her last entrance to a gathering in the basement of Redbird Security, Niki isn't dressed for her day job. A red tank top under a brown leather jacket that's seen better days, black cargo pants, and black combat boots. No heels tonight. Her arrival is only about half a minute behind Elisabeth's. She pushes open the door, and shoves it closed again, offering a quick smile. A shaky one. "Hey, guys." Her tone is hesitant.

"Yeah…" Cardinal's thumb flips the safety on the pistol, and he holsters and secures it under his arm before stepping over to the range's door - pushing open the glass door and emerging into the rest of the basement. "…I'm ready enough. Peyton, Niki. You ready for tonight…?" He reaches out, a hand clapping on Liz's shoulder as he gives her a tight smile.

It's one of the few screaming fights they've ever really had. For Elisabeth, not going on this run is absolute agony. She owes Teo her very existence, and if that weren't enough, she loves the silly Italian boy. To the depths of her heart. The argument that she already has a minor concussion, that she has to be here tomorrow for a medal — those arguments didn't hold water. That she is the only one Richard trusts to keep Claire and everyone else who remains safe if this goes bad wrong is the only reason she allowed him to forbid her presence. She looks up at him with worried blue eyes, her hand coming up to twine fingers through his and hold tightly. Only then does she looks toward the two women, studying Peyton for a moment and then Niki for a far longer time. She's concerned about Niki's ability to handle this, but not Jessica's — and in the end, Jessica will follow through when all else might fail. "You bring him home," she instructs. "You bring them all home."

The tall brunette nods to Cardinal before dropping her eyes to the firearm she holds in her hand — Peyton's own target practice finished, though she isn't going in, she's reloading the gun with a bit more ease and grace than she has in the past. Practice makes perfect, perhaps, but it is also that her recent forays into the past have made her less tentative about actually shooting if she needs to.

She raises her gaze at Liz's mandate, and gives a small nod, though it's uncertain. Her own part in this exercise is to try to keep them all informed and as safe as possible, based on what she can see from their enemies' perspective. There are many factors that can go wrong, and she knows it.

"Wouldn't be here if I wasn't ready," Niki murmurs with a bit more strength than her greeting held. And assuredly more confidence. When Elisabeth fixes her with that look, the apprehension vanishes. There's no room for feeling guilty or sheepish about her behaviour at their last meeting now. There's a faint narrowing of her eyes and Niki nods. "You know we will."

Addressing Cardinal again, the blonde asks, "I was wondering if you think the CAR-15 would be appropriate. Or overkill. I don't quite trust Jessica's judgement on this one. Could always resort to the sniper." A look is sent to Peyton. It's meant to be reassuring, and friendly. She heads for a locker labeled Sanders.

"You're… on the diversion team, right? I'd go with the sniper," suggests Cardinal to Niki, his hand lingering on Elisabeth's shoulder, fingers tangled with her own in a firm squeeze, "There's not much that makes a good diversion better than bullets out've nowhere. And we're going to need some serious diversion if we hope to do this without too much bloodshed."

He looks over to Peyton, then, and he nods tightly, "You alright? This shouldn't be as bad as the hospital… there's no Gregor here, presumably everything is under control inside." At least until they get there.

Elisabeth reminds quietly, "Do not forget they've got a negator on hand. Last I knew, he had a 10-foot range limitation — don't let him get inside that range on you. Anyone relying on their abilities for movement or attack is at a disadvantage. Keep it to the mundane as much as you can." She squeezes his fingers and then drops her hand to her pockets. "Hopefully Francois has everything necessary to get in and out fast." She'll worry all damn night until the all-clear comes.

The clairvoyant nods to Cardinal as she pulls a hair band out of her pocket and begins to gather her dark hair into a ponytail, revealing that peacock feather on the nape of her neck, its third eye of blue and green peeking out at those behind her. She's dressed in all black — black jeans, black boots, black sweater.

"I'm fine. Just worried about those of you going inside. I wish I was more of a help when it came to stuff like that. If something goes wrong…" she shakes her head, and offers a rueful smile. "I don't want to mess up."

Niki nods her head almost absently, pulling a case out of the locker and handling it with what passes as fondness. "You won't mess up," she tells Peyton with no lack of conviction. "You know what you're doing." She won't say everybody's going to be fine, because it's a disservice to the danger they're putting themselves in for the greater good. "You'll do what you do, and you'll do it well. We trust you, Peyton. If there was any doubt, Jessica would be telling you to stay home."

"You do," Cardinal agrees with Niki's words, flashing over a tight smile to Peyton, "I can't say how much help you've been to us, Peyton… there'd be a lot more people dead if it weren't for you." He glances back to Liz, nods once, admitting, "Hopefully we won't run into him — if we do, well, maybe he'll side with us. I don't know."

Now isn't the time or place for having discussions with Niki about D.L. Nope. Keeping that shit under her hat. Elisabeth wants them all focused on the job. She nods very faintly to Cardinal — she honestly has no clue if she wants them to run into him or not. The 'what if' factor is eating her alive. "Who all is going in with you?" she asks.

Peyton slips the firearm she carries into a holster on her back. It feels strange to her — she is not this girl. She smiles and nods at first Niki and then Cardinal for their encouragement. "Jessica would, wouldn't she," she says with some amusement, reaching for a black leather jacket to slip on over the holster, shrugging into it. She looks much much different then the girl who once graced tabloid covers and TMZ videos of years past.

Her eyes move to Liz and she shakes her head. "I'm not sure the final list — Monica, Niklaus, Colette, I think all volunteered? Is anyone else coming, from the other groups?" She turns to look at Cardinal.

"Peyton, Monica and I are going to create the diversion," Niki offers. "And I think one of Francois' friends will be with our team, too." The blonde closes up her locker and moves to set the case on the desk next to the computer, opening it up and inspecting the rifle critically. "Francois should be with Richard. And I think I heard the Nichols girl is joining them. Don't know who else, though…" She trails off, lost in thought for a moment.

"Oh, Peyton? While I'm thinking about it…" Niki doesn't offer a glance back to the woman she's addressing as she stares down the line of her weapon, examining for the slightest flaw that she may have somehow missed since the last time she fired it - which is ridiculous, but not entirely out of the realm of possibility. "I was wondering if you had a short string of pearls and some matching earrings I could borrow for an indefinite period of time…"

"Colette volunteered… I'm not sure if any of his other friends are coming along, I guess we'll find out," admits Cardinal, his hand finally sliding off of Elisabeth's shoulder as he steps over to lean against the table, finger rubbing against his forehead, "Minimal casualties if we can help it. We're not Messiah."

Aric walks down the stairs, a small basket in his hands as he pauses at the bottom and gives everyone a small wave, his eyes falling on Niki instantly as he says, "Safe to come in?"

Elisabeth grimaces at that and scowls. "Don't mention them to me today. I'm fucking pissed off that they lured in Oleander Thespuda. I didn't help him just so Messiah could take his ass away from his goddamn kids." She's cranky about that shit. "Just be careful, guys." She sighs heavily and leans on the desk next to Cardinal, crossing her feet at the ankles.

The clairvoyant's dark brows rise and disappear under her bangs at the odd request from Niki. "I'm not really a pearls kinda girl, but yeah, I am sure I have some in my stuff." She doesn't say that her 'stuff' is what she inherited from her mother. "I'll see what I have when we get back — if you need any clothes, too, you can come borrow whatever you want. Shoes too, whatever you can fit in. I think we're about the same size."

Peyton's dark eyes move to Aric and she smiles, nodding a hello to the man.

Stay out of Niki's head, Aric, comes the warning in Niki's own voice, but not Niki's tone. Niki herself doesn't seem to react much to Aric more than a cursory glance. "That'd be great, Pey'," she murmurs and settles the pieces of her rifle back into its case, closing it up whisper quietly. The watch around her wrist begins to beep quietly, swiftly silencing it with a push of a button.

She lifts her weapons case off the desk again and tilts her head toward the stairs. "Peyton. You're with me." Niki waits for the tall brunette to join her, and holds the door for her even, before ascending the stairs.

"I'll punch Peter for you later," Cardinal says with a shake of his head, reaching over to grab up the duffle bag that sits on the table; shrugging it over his shoulder, he heads to follow them towards the stairs, "Liz, Aric… hold down the fort. Make sure to feed Claire until we can get her some help - Aric, stay out've Claire's head at all costs, it'll fuck you up…"

Remaining leaning on the desk as the three of them go, her arms crossed tightly over her chest, Elisabeth smiles faintly. "See you soon," she murmurs, blue eyes lingering on Cardinal's back as he closes the door at the bottom of the stairs behind him. Then her eyes close and she clenches her teeth tightly before looking over at Aric. "Good timing there. Whatcha got?"

Aric steps away from Niki as he mutters to himself as the groups leaves, "There is something very wrong with her." As he walks in and sets down the goodies, "You need to eat Liz and I can tell you what happened." As Aric begins to pull out his speciality. Homemade Chinese food. Not that shit you get on the corner but the real stuff. Dumplings, Chicken and Rice, with shrimp lo mien, and a bottle of red wine.

She pushes off the table and looks at Aric, tilting her head. "Are you simply guessing that I haven't eaten in a while or did you check up on me or something?" Elisabeth asks mildly. "And there's nothing wrong with Niki that can't be explained by having a sociopathic guardian personality." As she moves to go around him and find a chair, she shoves him on the back of the shoulder. Hard. "And on a side note, what the fuck did I tell you about keeping what you see in people's heads to yourself?"

As the man gets shoved by Liz, he falls backwards but does move to make an threatening movements. In fact he looks ashamed and says softly, "Your not me Liz. The girl was yelling his name. It was painful to hear it. I only was trying to make her feel better. That was until I heard Niki…Jessica's thoughts come into dominance. I have never experienced that and it scared me." His eyes narrow as he looks up at Liz and says, "Your curse is different…mine is mine."

Dropping into the chair, Liz says quietly, "And your curse is going to get you fucking killed if you don't figure out how to keep what you hear trapped behind your teeth." She looks at him sternly. "D.L. was Niki's husband, presumed dead in the Midtown Bomb. Niki didn't know that Monica had seen him alive — we'd deemed the information important to both verify and see if we could figure out what the fuck was going on before we told her. Because barely a year ago, Niki's son who was also presumed dead in the same explosion was located also alive only to have Niki not get to him before his body died. There are reasons why I tell you to keep shit TO. YOURSELF."

Aric walks towards his dinner spread, rubbing his shoulder absently as he begins to take out the food. He knows the woman has not eaten because she is Liz. "Some of this is new to me Liz. Remember…I have only been a part of this for a short while compared to the rest of you. Monica's thoughts were so strong that when it comes over me like that it is like…being thrown into a tube filled with ice and water. Sometimes I can't control my reactions. I will tell you that Niki is…very dangerous and that she does not trust many. She even is second guessing Cardinal."

"I'm not surprised. Jessica is the hardcore guardian personality in Niki's very real multiple personality disorder. If you know anything about MPD, it is basically a personality created in a time of trauma for a particular purpose. In this case, to protect Niki's life at all costs. She has zero empathy for anyone or anything that might threaten Niki's well-being. Ever." Elisabeth sighs. "Let me worry about Niki, Jessica, and Monica. Okay? I wanted you to monitor, not blurt." She shoves her hand through her hair again, her worry about the group that just left glaringly obvious even without words or telepathy.

"And because I know you cannot help yourself when someone says 'don't think about pink elephants' — I will reiterate the order you were given to not read Claire's mind, no matter WHAT you hear her thinking. She's been impacted by an Evo persuasion power and a telepath reading her mind could basically be impacted the same way. Think 'computer virus' kind of transmission." Her blue eyes are steady on him. "And if you read her and go rogue to attempt to kill Georgia Mayes, I will shoot you to incapacitate you so as to not have to worry about where you are. You'll be tied up in a loony bin with a gunshot wound." She's sort of kidding….. but sort of not, too.

Aric sighs and says, "I know your mad Liz but you can understand when I hear something at that level Monica did it was…painful. Her emotions started to linger through her thoughts. Yet now that I have a better understanding of Niki I can understand why she was thinking that Richard doesn't know what he is doing. The other person I would be careful of is Kain. His thoughts did not reveal anything of betrayal outright but he has done it in a blink of an eye in the past I have gotten."

"I am mad," Elisabeth admits. "I'll get over it, but … you have got to realize after sitting in on that meeting that we are not… exactly a group of happy shiny do-gooders." She leans back in her chair and says quietly, "Every one of us is doing what we're doing for our own reasons. Richard and I mostly because if we don't step up, who the hell will? But that also means we'll do what we think we have to sometimes to the detriment of a few people for what we think is the greater good. Niki is in because we're also going after Linderman in this and she wants a part of that for what happened to her son. Kain wants Linderman gone as well. d'Sarthe…. is a calculated risk. Zarek brouhgt him on board without our knowledge to help us stabilize the situation when Linderman falls — but we're not a hundred percent sure we can control that, Aric. And in the meantime, when the Institute goes down…. God alone knows what will happen."

"Monica has bad history with d'Sarthe. I have met the man and I can tell you. He is a bad man…scares me a little. Niki and Kain will not mix at all. She said something in her thoughts of I know what you've done. Don't fuck with my family. So I can tell you whatever Kain's story is…he might be someone to watch."

Aric sets some food in front of Liz and sighs, "I am in this because I need to be. I am alone in this world and if they take me for what I am. I would want you to kill me. Kaylee could not help me learn or do anything. She said I have to learn on my own…so give me some credit Liz. I might be stronger then you think to help Claire. You could put me in a locked room after if I could not get through her blocks. One thing I am good at is going in deep."

Elisabeth shakes her head, taking the food he puts in front of her, and says quietly, "It's not about your strength. It's about the power of the persuader in question. He has already subverted other people, and his strength is playing on the things already in your head. Claire's mind is repairing itself. When that's done, she will need help." She looks up at him. "She's remembering all that she saw in Madagascar, Aric — and it was ugly. Babies incinerated for testing SLC positive at birth, things like that. She's going to need you then, not right now. Just…. give her a little time, okay?"

Aric nods and says, "Well…I don't know the girl but when your ready. I can go in and help her with the memories. I can't remove them but I can help show her that it was not her fault or ease her pain with the matters." Aric sits down and runs a hand through his long locks and says, "Also something that came out from that good looking french guy. His thoughts were very random yet…" Aric laughs weakly, "…sexy in a weird way. He thought …that motel open twenty four hours, I think, I hope. I would not like to take McAlister up on her offer. Should ask but none of these others are soldiers, no one here, but remember the seeing girl? he looked at Peyton. His thoughts were very restless."

"My people went tonight to go retrieve his lover from the hands of the Institute, Aric." Elisabeth doesn't even realize the way she's phrased that — they are hers, the ones who left here on this insane mission. And her thoughts linger over the screaming fight that she and Richard had over it, her anxiety for their safety and their success evident. Teodoro is…. far more than just Francois's lover. Her own thoughts are chaotic with regards to him, if only because in spite of his own darkness she adores the Italian. Or perhaps because of it. Hard to say. She puzzles over the information Aric's sharing and frowns slightly. McAlister? She's not placing the name. "I'll look into it after tonight," Liz finally decides. Once their people are home. "Thank you for letting me know."

Aric looks down at his empty glass of wine and catches a few glimpes of her thoughts and keeps them to himself. He does says softly, "Liz I know you guys don't trust me because I am a telepath. Yet I only want to do what is right. I hope you guys know that. I have been practicing my shooting and I am getting a little better. I think I would like to start learning how to fight. I didn't offer to help get Teo because I am not you guys. Yet when I extend my senses I can feel people up to seventy feet all around me. It is not much but I could have helped I think find him easier."

Tilting her head, Elisabeth admits softly, "That might have been extremely helpful, yes." And he might catch the glimpse that although she has no idea why Richard might not have taken him, yes the possibility that he's not a soldier could be part of it. Or the other part, she does speak aloud. "But if things go south, I will need you more than he would have needed you on-site. I can't do this job alone, Aric. And knowing what I can say to people to keep them in line or to reassure them will be invaluable if they don't come back this time." It's a practical outlook, but the pain of the acknowledgement that they might not come back is probably nearly as glaring as what happened to Niki when D.L.'s name came up. She toys with her food. "Let's just…. eat. And then I need to get upstairs where I can get a call if they can get one out. OKay?"

Aric nods as he says leaning across and pats her hand if he will allow it. "Richard is a dangerous man. He will not allow anything to happen to his team if he can. I can't tell you the future but I can tell you Richard will fight until he isn't breathing if it means he can see you again. So I think I could pretty much say…he is coming back." Aric makes an attempt at a smile as he nods and falls silent as he begins to eat his own food.

Elisabeth quirks a small smile, grateful for the reassurance. Even big tough FRONTLINE soldiers who kick serious ass on a regular basis need it sometimes.

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