We Really Are Cursed


cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title We Really Are Cursed
Synopsis There's no such thing as coincidence.
Date July 27, 2010

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

Thank you, Google Earth.

And thank you, Peyton Whitney, for showing Cardinal how to use Google Earth. It's a fascinating little program, really, and there's so much useful information you can get from it. Not to mention the library. There's a half-dozen print-outs spread out over the coffee table, and some partial blueprints that he managed to wrangle out of the library, and several hand-drawn maps as well.

Okay, so maybe it's less 'the coffee table' than 'all over the fucking apartment'. Richard moves back and forth between all these, a pad in hand on which he's scribbling down notes, his expression both excited and serious, pacing fit to wear a hole in the carpet.

The Weather Channel is on the television.

Currently in New York, it is clear outside. The temperature is 82 degrees Farenheit (27 degrees Celsius). The wind is currently coming in from the East at 5 mph, with gusts up to 17 mph. The barometric pressure reading is 30.01 and rising, and the relative humidity is 36 percent. The dewpoint is 53 degrees Farenheit (11 degrees Celsius.)

When Liz lets herself into the apartment, she's wearing shorts and a sports-bra top, her hair pulled up into a ponytail with a ballcap covering it, and running shoes. She's sweating to high hell, too. 82 degrees is not cool enough to be out there running, but a full five miles she did in fact do in the heat in well under an hour. She's carrying a water bottle with her as she locks the door, quirking a brow to find him even more spread out than when she left. "You get the rest of tonight, lover," she says wryly, "and then I'm going to start badgering you for answers." To whatever it is that he's been doing all friggin' night and day.

"I need soldiers," Richard replies, glancing up from the pad with a serious gaze, both brows raising upwards as he looks to her, "People. Who can hold guns, use powers… whatever. We're making an example this time. No more. Even Broome admits that they've gone over the edge. I don't even want this building here when we're done."

Perhaps he should tell her what he's talking about.

Tilting her head, Elisabeth sets the water on the breakfast bar and walks further into the room. Her blue eyes take on a shuttered expression. "You've seen Dr. Broome?" she asks in a deceptively mild tone. "Really." Her lips purse. "I think perhaps you better start at the beginning."

A pause, and then a faint, wry half-smile as Cardinal jars himself from the stream of thought that he was working through - turning to toss the pad over to land on some of the maps. "Probably," he admits, stepping over then and reaching out to slide his arms around her waist, pulling her close as he murmurs, "M'sorry. I've just— been working a lot. It's good to see you."

She doesn't demur when his arm slides around her — if he wants to get all sweaty, that's up to him. But Elisabeth is a little stiff in his hands in spite of the fact that her body conforms to his embrace instinctively. Her damp forehead rests on his cheek as her hands slide up to his shoulders. "I don't mind leveling a building for you… not entirely sure I can manage it without Gillian, but I'll sure as hell give it the old college try," she tells him quietly. "And I'm doing my best to give you space, Richard. I'm starting to think, however, that I've given you enough rope to hang yourself with at this point. What the fuck are you doing meeting with Broome and not saying anything?" Her demand is made in a calm tone, but there is an underlying bite of anger in it too.

"I wasn't expecting to…" Cardinal draws his hands back to her hips as he drops back a step, grimacing slightly; there's shadows under his eyes. He hasn't slept much lately. "…I got a letter, addressed from Edward. It said to meet him at the library. It wasn't him, though, it was Broome." He glances aside with a scowl, "Just gave the whole 'we're trying to save the world, blah blah, don't fight us' message, tried to play off the hospital as a mistake, then he shot himself in the head."

Looking up at him, Elisabeth's jaw tenses as she listens. Neither of them have been sleeping much, or well when they do. "Fuck him," she says evenly. "If he blew his goddamn head off, it's one less head we have to blow off." Seems like she's been feeling a little militant lately. "They've got Gilly, they've got Teo… when the fuck are we actually going in?" Which is really the question that has been on her mind for days, and she's grateful he's finally talking to her.

"You said you need soldiers. What kind? Ivanov and I are due in DC in a couple of days, but that's actually an excellent alibi for this bullshit if we should need one. He'll help. Francois wants in. I'm reasonably certain that if push came to shove, Sawyer'd be in our corner for this so long as we can keep her involvement absolutely silent. Becca can shoot, though I'd keep her strictly as cover fire. Nikki. Monica. I have a telepath I've been planning to talk to you about, but I don't know that we could get him up to speed anytime soon. If you have a plan in place, Cat's a good arm."

"It was one've Carpenter's mental clones, unfortunately," admits Cardinal in frustrated tones, pulling away from her and turning to walk back over towards the coffee table where everything's spread out, looking down at the maps, "At this point… I don't even know if Broome is Broome. He could be… he could be anyone."

"Everyone," he says quietly, "I'll be going to everyone for help. Bella turned. In return for amnesty - from us, I told her I couldn't make any promises about the Ferry and the others - she gave us everything. They have Gillian, Noriko, Lynette, Teo…. another Teo… they cloned him, or something, fuck knows why." A pause, "Bao-Wei Cong has turned himself into some sort of ice monster. He tried to steal Song Ye's power, I guess. Gregor's still being a creepy fucker. She gave us some details as to their security systems. It's mostly manpower. People. Guards. Not much electronic."

Bella? "Sheridan?" Elisabeth bites her tongue and stops talking. Just …. stops. Refuses to say anything. Not to contradict him, not to rail at him, not to agree with him either. She turns to walk mechanically back to the breakfast bar and pick up the bottle of water that she came in with, twisting the cap off and chugging the contents down. "You didn't answer the question, lover," is all she says. "When are we going in?" Because clearly that's what he's planning. A full-out assault.

"I know, I know. We needed this information. If it helps, Thatcher affirmed that… that she'd tried to get Joseph released," Cardinal states, slanting a look back to her as she heads to the breakfast bar, "She's a scumbag, but right now, she's a scumbag that we need."

"We're going in as soon as we have the people. I'll need to talk to Raith… probably get some people from the Ferry. Maybe even Messiah. They'd make good scapegoats…"

Elisabeth shrugs slightly, rolling her shoulders to work the tension out of them. "You don't have to justify your actions to me," she tells him tightly. "You got the intel you needed." She tosses the water bottle toward the sink, since it's a clearer target than the recycle bin from where she's standing. As she turns to look at him, blue eyes study him quietly. "I highly recommend you get some sleep before you try to take a team on an assault run. You're starting to look like I feel." Like the strain is going to break something.

She pauses, and then says, "I'm not going to play games with you. I'm pretty pissed off right now, and there's nothing to be done for it except for me to get over it. So I'm going to go take a shower, and then I'll throw together something for us to eat, and by the time that's done, I'll be not pissed anymore. All right? You can tell me what the plans are over food, or you can let me know up front that you're going to leave me out of it if that's what you want to do. Let me know which way we'll be handling this one so I can wrap my head around which role I'm playing — I just want to know up front so I'm not blindsided by the really important shit."

A frustrated little sigh spills past Cardinal's lips at her blunt words, and he turns away, a hand coming up to slide over the side of his face and then rub against the back of his neck. "Yeah. Okay. I'll be here when you're done," he says in resigned tones, stepping over to the couch and dropping himself down to sit on it; leaning forward, he snaps up his pad again, pen gathered up into hand and the nib scratching over the paper to take a few more notes down on it.

One might observe that he's bad at this relationship thing. One would be right.

She wasn't lying. By the time she comes back out, the hot shower has eased the temper issue quite a bit. Reheating some pasta and sauce from a couple days ago, she brings a bowl to him as well, and then drops down on the couch next to him to eat it. "All right," Elisabeth says quietly. "Tell me what's up. I won't get pissy this time." She pauses and comments quietly, "And what I was pissed off at is that you went after Sheridan without me. You knew I wanted in on that."

"That's exactly why I went after her without you, Liz…" The pad drops down upon the maps and sketches again, pen following it in a beat, and Cardinal leans back with a slow exhalation of breath - the faintest of smiles offered vover as he reaches to accept the bowl with a murmur of half-verbal thanks. "…I know damn well you'd rather her end up dead in a gutter rather than walking."

"Not entirely true," Elisabeth says. "Though that was my gut reaction. She pisses me off more than you do…. " She bumps his shoulder lightly. "And that's saying something lately, considering how bitchy I am around you. But seriously… while I want her to suffer and pay for what she's done, I also can compartmentalize that. She did manage to help me when I needed it most." The admission is difficult, considering what they all later learned about the woman. "And if she's a source of information that lets us get Teo and Gilly and Noriko and the others out, I can quite easily refrain from breaking anything on her."

"That's a factor too," Cardinal says with a slight lean that bumps back to her, his tone wry, "She knows who you are. That gives her knowledge of how you react, and the risk of her exposing you as part of FRONTLINE. So it was… generally better for you not to be there." A snort, "At least she's not so far gone that she doesn't recognize they're a bunch of fucking monsters over there."

"Mmmm," Elisabeth retorts sardonically. "And how much of that was telling you what you wanted to hear so that you'd help her?" She settles in to eat her pasta, companionably slumped next to him where she can also lay her head on his shoulder periodically while she's thinking. Her eyes skim the papers he's got lying all over and she says, "So you've got the blueprints to the building and you're working on the ingress and egress routes, I take it?" There's a pause while she considers. "What'd Broome say to you?" There are so many topics to cover lately, she's not sure which are the more important ones.

"I had Thatcher there," says Cardinal with a dismissive wave of his fork before plunging it into the pasta, bringing it up to his lips, eating and swallowing, "She doesn't trust or like any of us - thinks we're a bunch of thugs - but she didn't lie. Funny story, apparently her escape plan involves running off with Flint." A nod of his chin to the plans, "There've been some modifications made, but these were still in the public archives." He drops silent, then, slanting a look over to her for a beat. "Just the usual bad guy stuff. 'We're really helping the world. We're doing important work'. You know."

There's a long pause where Elisabeth face gets the 'WTF?' expression of confused incredulity. Her tone is dry as dust as she comments, "Really."

When he shifts to answer the other question, Liz slants him one of those 'don't con the woman you've been fucking for a year' looks. "Uh-huh. I'm reasonably sure he didn't send you a note disguised as being from Edward just to monologue at you, lover. That seems like a complete waste of his time and yours. On the other hand, I'll shift the topic for you so you don't feel the need to try to sort out what else to tell me about it by telling you I think I may have a telepath who's willing to work with us."

"No, seriously, he was just there to monologue. Hell, the creepy bastard even tried to convince me that Eve was in better hands and being given therapy and was happy and safe…" A derisive snort of breath at that, and Cardinal scowls down at the pasta bowl, "…don't know who the fuck he thought he was kidding. Weird thing was, he kept acting like he knew me…"

A glance over, a brow lifting, "Oh? A telepath?"

Alarm flits across her features. "He knew you? Like… how well? Could they have implanted … like Edward Ray's consciousness into him or something horrible like that?" Elisabeth sets her fork down, though her stomach rumbles in protest of that action. "And yes, a telepath — guy's got no poker face, but he's also got no interest in being forcibly registered. If he can help us stop November 8, he wants to.

"Christ, I hope not," Cardinal says dryly, rubbing a hand against his face, "Bad enough with two Edwards, let alone three, but I don't think so. He was trying to talk me out of working for Edward…" A thoughtful sound, "We could use one, certainly."

Pursing her lips, Elisabeth takes up her fork again. "Yeah. I think you should meet him. My sense of people is occasionally suspect." She slants him a cheeky grin, the implication that she's referring to him clear. "So here's the thing…. if the person inside Broome's head was Broome…. you could be looking at a time traveling thing or something. If it was someone else, you could be dealing with God only knows what. As to working for Edward…."

Elisabeth trails off at that and shovels a bite in her mouth to keep from saying something, choosing to think about what she wants to convey. When she swallows, she says finally, "You have to consider the idea that… Edward's a lot like a precog. In both cases, they work off essentially what's most LIKELY course ahead. A precog can show us, for example, that riots are coming, but not necessarily what sparked them. Edward can predict that based in those choice, that choice, and that choice, the riots are going to occur and the odds of heading them off are…. I don't know…. 3,720 to 1." Tongue in cheek, in spite of the fact that she's terribly serious about this.

At the jab about her personal judhement, Cardinal replies with a jab of his own - his elbow nudging into her side for a moment, a snort answering it without any verbal acknowledgement. Then he's silent as she speaks, finishing off the bowl and setting it on the table. A lean forward, elbows on his knees, and he rubs both hands over his face.

"I did… get another message from Edward," he says in quiet frustration, "He left it in, in some girl's mind that he knew Kaylee'd eventually mind read. And he basically strongly suggested I not follow the last message I got from him."

That makes her sit up and take notice. Elisabeth sets her mostly empty bowl on the floor next to her feet and pulls one knee up onto the couch to turn and face him. "Uhm…. okay. Which message? The death list?" Why… would he do that?

The hands over his face drop down, hanging between Cardinal's knees as he looks down at the maps without seeing them, lips drawn in a tight line, "Yeah. He wanted to… point out that he was willing to make all manner of sacrifices to accomplish his goals, and told me to keep his condition in mind."

Well…. now that he's mentioning it, Elisabeth says quietly, "The package was… something I wondered about, if you want the truth. I mean, on the one hand you're thinking it's a bad thing for the Institute to have Noriko, but you're going to kill her before the end of August." She's been questioning for a while whether he was really going to take this route, what with some of the names on the list. She doesn't even know that what she's seen is an edited version. "Some people on there make sense. Others…. not so much. And some, you do realize I flat out won't help you with. Michael Spalding? Kat Marks? You'll have to give me goddamn good reasons for those, babe."

"I know." Of course, she hasn't even seen the entire list. There are names on there that he can't let her see - doesn't want her to see. Her own, amongst them. "I'm not going to follow the list," he admits with a tight shake of his head, "Some of it, but… I can't stick to it closely. Edward always goes for the most direct method. We can turn some of these people into allies, if we work at it."

"That, honestly, is kind of where I was going with the train of though," Elisabeth admits quietly. "Kershner's agenda matches up with ours. Getting Mitchell and Petrelli out of office. So …. why does the list say to protect the 2019 version of Petrelli at all costs and KILL Kershner?" The blonde shrugs a little. "I realize that he can see futures. Especially when Gillian augmented him. But the point was…. he can see probable futures. And one of the things we have to keep in mind about probabilities is that they cannot take into account every action and reaction. The butterfly effect, you know? We can say with 99 percent certainty that if you kill these people outright, this one future should come to pass. But there's that 1 percent chance that no matter what you do, you can't make it happen the way it's supposed to."

"Well, it was written by the future Edward," Richard points out, slanting a look over, frowning, "So I'm sure he didn't bring the other Petrelli back and put him in office for nothing, you know? Shit, I should track down the surviving time travellers…" He rubs at his chin and lower lip, chewing on it, "…Malice is off the grid, probably won't find him unless he wants me to. The others… shit, I have no idea. They might even be dead by now, I doubt Edward wanted a bunch of wildcards running around with knowledge of the future…"

"I don't even know who they all are, if you want the truth." Elisbeth grimaces. "Hell, for all we know, the whole Rebel thing got started because of the fucking time travelers." She knows one of them is dead. "I know at one point, Cat had a list of all of them."

"I do," Cardinal replies quietly, pen tapping against the side of his pad a few times before he brings it up to rest on his chin, "Let me think, there was Rickham and Doe - both dead, God rest their souls. Eric Doyle, Niles Wight, Reed - you probably remember him best as Malice, Petrelli of course, and, uh, April Silver." A shake of his head, "Anyway, anyway, we're drifting pretty far afield here, we need to focus on our immediate plans."

"I remember Niles Wight quite clearly, thankyouverymuch," Elisabeth says quietly. She woke in the middle of the night to find the fucker sitting on the bottom of her bed covered in blood. "I haven't seen hide or hair of Reed, even in the 'net, since he did what he seemed to want done. Though we could ask Wireless to check into that for us." The last one brings her head around, a frown. "April Silver?" She's never heard that name, not from Cat anyway. "I… don't think I'm familiar with that one. But… wierd. My lawyer's name is Silver." She frowns slightly. "The one who has all my legal paperwork from Antarctica, I mean. And…. he was engaged to a girl named April. I…." She bites her lip, looking at him uncertainly. "That's gotta be a coincidence, right?"

"Hm." Cardinal slants a look to her out of the corner of his eye, frowning, "Probably not… I don't believe in coincidences, although that was probably the native-timeline April, if it is her, which doesn't help us. Worth looking into, at some point." He points the pen back to the maps, "So. You said that Felix and Francois are in?"

Liz's frown is thoughtful and she nods. "Silver's fiancee died before they could get married," she says quietly. "Before Moab, if I remember right. I'm not sure of that, though. I'll do a little discreet digging. If it is the future version of his fiancee, so far as I can tell she didn't make contact with him. He and Dad run in some of the same circles and I know the guy's not married now." Huh. Anyway. She dismisses it for now. "Yeah. Felix is in, and Francois asked me very pointedly not to keep him out of the loop. He's said there's already other people working on a plan and he didn't want anyone I might turn to for help to step on those toes." She shrugs a little. "He may trust them more than he trusts me, I don't know. I'm just glad he finally told me."

The pen waggles a bit between Cardinal's fingers, and he tips his head in a nod, "Alright. Get me Francois, then, we can talk about whoever else is doing this and possible coordination - we don't want to be stepping on each other's toes, definately. Who does Francois run with these days? I mean, I saw him on the ship during Apollo, but we never really — talked, or anything."

"Last I knew, he was running in the Ferry. Which is … well, I don't know who's running things there now, but it sounds like Eileen maybe." Which kind of wierds her out just a little tiny bit, but hey. Whatever works for them. Who's she to cast stones? "I'd venture a guess that if we put word out to Wireless, she'll be able to get us in touch with whoever's putting together the run. I'd be shocked if it's not Raith, based on what we've already seen, honestly." She shrugs a little.

"I guess the… Remnant took over the Ferry?" A helpless sort of shrug from Cardinal, a hand lifting up in a 'fuck if I know' gesture, "It probably is, that's the sort've thing Swords would be doing. I'll be meeting with Raith anyway, but just to be sure, let's get Francois to the office so we can have a face to face."

Elisabeth immediately nods. "I'll send him a text and let him know." As to who took over the Ferry? "I don't know if they did or not. I keep my ear to the ground, I help whenever they need me to or get information when I'm asked. But I've been a little busy on the more active front to be able to be all-in with them. The people who need to know already know I'll do what I can for them." What happened at Beach Street will always linger in her mind even though most of the Ferry doesn't even have a clue why or how it happened. "Do you want to meet the telepath?" she asks. "He's…. " She pauses. "Honestly, Richard, I don't think we're in a position to turn down help."

Wry, Cardinal admits, "We're not. I'll meet him, set it up - I've got a feeling I'll be doing a lot of meetings this week, but hopefully they'll bear fruit."

"God only knows. Who else are you meeting this week?" Elisabeth asks. "And also, I have a bit of news for you that we're going to need to seriously keep under our hats until I can check it out. It could set Jessica on a rampage."

"Oh?" Great. More bad news! Cardinal looks over hesitantly, "What now?"

There's a long sigh and Liz looks at him squarely. "Niki's husband D.L. is alive. I don't know how, but apparently Monica has verified that it was him. It's part of what she was doing in New Orleans while she was out of town. He helped her get away from some bad guys down there, and she believes he's one of the good guys. So we may need to try to figure a way to get him out. But I don't want to move on it unless or until I can verify whether he even knows Niki is alive. I know Niki and Jess have no clue that he survived. And I won't be a party to breaking Niki like that again." She's the one who told the blonde about her son being alive.

"Christ." Cardinal rubs a hand against his face, and he flops back on the couch, his head falling back to look up towards the ceiling, "It never ends. Alright. Keep it from her, but— honestly, right now, this's a little low priority."

"Maybe so. I would hope d'Sarthe has better things to do than track Monica up here just because she was pissing in his corn flakes down there, but you never know," Elisabeth says. "I'll work on it in my spare time, though, because yeah… it's seriously low priority in the scheme of things that Endgame as a whole is working on."

Dead silence from Cardinal… and then both hands lift up, and cover his face. "Liz. Liz, I need you to do me a… favor, right now."

The tone brings her head up to look at him, alarmed. "All right," Liz replies immediately. "What is it?"

"I want you to go get your gun," Cardinal mutters against his hands, "And shoot me in the head."


The silence from Elisabeth is of the confused variety. "What the fuck did I say now?" she asks in a befuddled tone.

"I have a meeting with d'Sarthe scheduled," Cardinal replies in pained tones, not lifting both hands from his face, "Kain brought him in to help us take down Linderman."

Now Liz is the one groaning. Pinching the bridge of her nose between thumb and forefinger, she murmurs, "Oh. My. Fucking. God." Taking in a deep breath and letting it out slowly, she looks at the man on her couch and says very mildly, "We really are cursed."

A hand drops, then the other, falling to rest on Cardinal's knees as he leans forward with a heavy sigh, "Find out… exactly what happened with Monica and d'Sarthe, don't— don't tell her we're working together, though, not yet."

For a long moment, Elisabeth looks around the apartment. She nods slowly. "Yeah," she says wearily. "Yeah. Okay." There's another pause, and she offers, "You know…. Monica's pretty penny-ante." She suddenly smiles wickedly. "And if D.L. doesn't know his lovely wife survived and that Linderman held his son hostage in a comatose body until the body died and said son drifted off into the ether of the Internet ….. well, now, it seems to me that we might just have our ace in the hole there, if D.L. is in any way influential in this group." Now she changes her position, moving to straddle his lap and give him that very wicked smile one more time. "Oh, babe… this could so work for us."

A tired laugh from Cardinal, his hands sliding over her hips as he leans back, looking up to her with a weary and wry smile, "Let's hope it does. We'll see what we can work out…"

As tired as they both have been, some things have been entirely neglected lately. "C'mon… lemme give you a backrub so you relax enough to sleep, love." Elisabeth's hands cradle his face and she kisses him softly. "You need to get some rest. There's a lot to do, but if you collapse in sheer exhaustion, then I'm gonna have to run this bullshit myself and then where the hell will we be?" she asks with a soft smile. She's not nearly as good at all this as he is.

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