What She Doesn't Know


cardinal_icon.gif smedley_icon.gif

Scene Title What She Doesn't Know
Synopsis When Smedley consults Cardinal to make sure that he isn't going crazy in regard to Peyton's time traveling, Cardinal in turn confronts Smedley in regard to his relationship with the young woman, insisting that the cowboy let her in on his biggest secret.
Date September 22, 2010

Redbird Security

Above the ground floor that houses the lobby and office spaces, each of the upper floors can be accessed from the stairwell's landings. Wooden floors and pale cream walls keep the hallways modest and open - the rare window reinforced to prevent easy break-ins.

Each floor contains four small to moderate sized apartments, their doors painted a reddish umber hue and marked with a peephole above a black iron plaque with the apartment number on it. The lighting is soft and indirect in the halls, automatically turning on after six pm.

It's relatively early in the morning when Wes Smedley climbs the stairs at Redbird Security to the uppermost level to stand outside Richard Cardinal's door. Still, he's already brewed a pot of coffee and taken out Carson and Von, who he took from Peyton's apartment when she didn't come back Monday night. But now it's Wednesday.

There's a small comfort in the fact that Smedley still remembers the young woman who staffs Redbird's reception desk, but still. He might just be going crazy. It certainly feels like he's going crazy.

So smelling faintly of dog, coffee cup in hand, and hair still mussed from sleep, Smedley holds a vigil outside of Cardinal's door. He leans against the wall opposite the dark, reddish wood, one hand tucked into the front pocket of his jeans, one foot braced against the pale cream wall. His slightly hooded eyes are more gray than they are blue today, perhaps due to the dark circles beneath the lower lid.

The sound of feet on the stairs precedes Richard Cardinal appearing in the hallway at a decent stride, although at the sight of Smedley settled in across from his door his steps slow a bit. One hand comes up, lowering the shades slightly to look over them at Smedley, considering the man and his features for a moment.

"I'm not in there, you know," he states the obvious, "You look like hell, Cowboy."


The question in turn is a response to both of the other man's remarks, but Smedley doesn't do much more than look down the hall out of the corner of his eye as he lifts the mug to take a sip of the bitter black liquid within. "Surprised you don't," he quips, lifting his jaw as he lowers his foot and squares himself straight with Cardinal. "I just need t'ask you one thing," he says with his head tilted at a slight angle.

"I need to know if you still remember her."

Who he means by her is left unsaid, but there is a slight narrowing of his eyes after the veiled question is laid on the table, but if Peyton is as close to Cardinal as she's lead Smedley to believe, surely her business partner must know why he hasn't had his regular receptionist all week.


Cardinal stops dead in the hallway, regarding Smedley with a rather bemused expression for a few moments, "What are you… oh." Oh. The other man's concerns finally hit him. A pause, one hand lifting to rake back through morning-mussed hair. "Peyton… told you what she was doing, I'm guessing?"

"Yeah," Smedley answers, dipping his chin slightly as his frown deepens. There's no good reason to be upset with Cardinal. Cardinal hasn't done anything wrong. But his already tense jaw gets a little tighter, and the tendons in his neck push against his sun-battered skin as he looks the once-burglar in the eye.

"But if I still remember her, her dad ain't dead. But if she-" He stops, grimacing with disgust at the notion of anything happening to Peyton. He swallows down the fear and closes his eyes for a moment, pushing back possibilities to the darker corners of his mind. When he opens them again, there is an unmistakable sheen to the irises, and he keeps his lips tightly closed, as if deciding something. How much does Cardinal know? At what point does it become forgivable to betray confidence?

"She talk to you about November?" is what he finally says, his voice softer and yet more intense at the same time.

The question brings a smile, but it's a bitter one. "Yeah," Richard says quietly, "She did. I wish she had earlier… she's been holding this in for too long, assuming she was gonna die… c'mon inside."

A set of keys rattle in his hand, and he unlocks the door, shoulder pushing it open as he walks into the apartment, leaving the door open behind him, "…I wish she understood how important she was."

It's a rather spartan apartment. A couch, an exercise mat and a pull-up bar on the wall, a kitchen cluttered with take-out boxes. The windows are heavily curtained, which should be no surprise at all, and he forgets to flip the lights on when he comes in.

As tired and worn as he is, Smedley doesn't mind the dark as he follows in after Cardinal, lightly kicking the door shut behind him. He glowers at the man's back given his choice of words, but keeps any responsive remarks to himself. "You don't think she'd stay there, d'you?" There, meaning the past. With her father. Without Danko to put a bullet in her brain.

It's an option that had crept into Smedley's mind sometime yesterday, and while he loathed to entertain it, it wouldn't stop persisting. But she wouldn't have to wait to come back, would she? She could just blink and it would be November 9th.

And in the meantime, the people who care about her are left in the lurch.

"Nakamura won't let her." Cardinal steps along over to the bedroom door, pushing it open and walking inside - his voice drifting back whether or not he's followed. He drops down to his knees and from there to a cross-legged posture in front of a heavy trunk by the foot of the bed, opening it up to reveal a rather impressive cache of weapons. "…as soon as she's done, she'll be back. Trust her. She's tougher than she thinks."

"But what I can't figure is why she ain't back yet," Smedley almost snaps in reply, following Cardinal with heavy footfalls. "Ain't that how time travel is supposed to work? Blink, and you're gone. And before anybody else has time to sneeze, you're back again?" Clearly these things need a handbook. With an exasperated sigh, Smedley runs a rough hand through his hair, scratching at his scalp.

Peyton is tough. There is no denying that. Any girl who actually fit the bill that so many still hold to her would have crashed and burned by now. That alone is proof enough for Smedley. But that doesn't mean he won't worry all the while she's gone.

"It's more complicated than that," admits Cardinal as he starts working through the trunk, coming up with a pistol and setting it next to him before delving back into the depths, "It took Jaiden a week or so before he was back, I think… I don't know the details. Given the choice…"

Another gun's pulled out, and he checks the clip, slamming it back into place, "…I don't mess with time travel. It's messy."

"Yeah," Smedley grunts at the understatement, eyeing the weaponry before he turns back toward the hall. "Have fun today," he murmurs into his cup, his voice still gravely with the mix of anger and other emotions that have been bubbling away in him since Tuesday morning.

"And if you see her, let me know."


Cardinal's head cants a bit to one side, looking towards the door over the edge of his shades in a sideways and appraising look over the cowboy. He waits for a response before saying anything else, though, slowly setting the second pistol beside the first. It's an odd make, russian from the looks of it.

He stops in the doorway to the hall and turns to look back into the darker bedroom at the shape kneeling by the trunk. "Yeah?" he says for the umpteenth time, but the word is breathed more than it is spoken. It's not a name many call him by, which isn't very helpful, but to hear it out of Cardinal's mouth is odd.


Cardinal leans forward, reaching out to draw a military knife in its sheathe from the box, turning it over and drawing the blade - considering it a moment, then sliding it back in and snapping the strap over the handle, setting it with the other pistols. His weapons chosen, he reaches up to take hold of the trunk's top, pulling it closed.

"Do you love her?"

Smedley is silent for a long time. He narrows his eyes against the darkness Cardinal sits in, then turns his head to stare at the door's frame. After a moment, he lifts his free hand from his pocket to the wood, gripping the far side of it even as he rubs his thumb against the texture. He sighs, then pressing his lips together into a tight line, he suddenly smacks the flat of his hand against the door frame with a thunk.

With that, he's instantly just that much calmer. Smedley stands a little straighter, but he doesn't look into the room again. "You had t'go n'ask me that, didn't you," he grumbles, most of the words coming out through his teeth.

"That's me, Wes…" Cardinal sets the three guns and the knife on top of the trunk, and then he uses the box as leverage as he pushes himself up to his feet slowly, both hands dropping back to brush his pants in case he'd picked up anything off the floor, "…always asking the hard questions. Somebody's got to."

It's been a full day since Smedley last shaved, but there is only the faintest bristle of fuzz on his jaw. He scratches at it, then runs his hand through his hair, curling his fingers around the slightly oily strands. "Why," he asks, his mouth twisting toward a grimace.

"It matter to you if I do?"

Cardinal lifts one boot up onto the trunk, the knife picked up from its top to strap along his lower leg. "Kind of," he admits casually, "I mean, do we seriously need to go through the 'if you hurt her, I know people who won't let you die for a long time' series of threats? Can we just assume we did, 'cause, really, I'm kind of one a time table here."

A sidelong look to the man's back, "…and if you hurt her, I will hurt you, Cowboy."

"I ain't the one lined up to hurt her, Cardinal," Smedley says with a shake of his head, exhaling in what could almost be a light chuckle. He turns to look at the other man for a moment before he turns to head back through the apartment toward the door. "Wrap your brain around that one, boss man."

As he steps out into the hall, Cardinal's voice follows him in an almost casual call, "…you tell her what you did yet, Cowboy?"

Smedley stops, his knuckles turning white as they grip the doorknob. He swallows and closes his eyes. "No," he calls back, the word stony in it's finality. "And you ain't gonna do it for me." Letting go of the knob, he turns to face the dark, empty apartment. Cardinal was in the bedroom when he left, but that hardly means anything.

"The way I see it, there ain't no reason for her t'need to know," he says into the shadows created by the shades that keep out the clear morning light. His voice is clear, though. As if he's said these very same words before, if only in his mind. "I won't lie t'her, though."

"You don't know what she does for me, do you, Wes?" The weapons are holstered where they belong, a flight jacket hanging loose over his frame, Cardinal walks slowly out from the bedroom once more, his head shaking slowly from side to side and a sardonic half-smile curling his lips, "You think she's just some overblown secretary or something — that's probably what she told you, she always thinks the least of herself."

At the edge of the main room, his hand braces to the wall, his gaze lingering on the other man without sunglasses to hide them in the dark. "She takes care of the information archives. She has unrestricted access to every piece of information we have. I don't have it written down what you did, but your file sure as hell mentions you're wanted for questioning in the case."

"She's not a stupid girl, Wes. Do you think it'll be better if she finds out herself?"

It's true that Peyton hadn't mentioned that element of her work, but Smedley never saw her as a mere secretary. She's the co-owner of Redbird, and more than just a silent financial investor. "Then there must be a good reason she ain't looked then, don't'cha think?" His jaw juts slightly forward, the sound of his teeth grinding together punctuating the question.

"My point is that she's better off not knowin'. No matter where she hears it. And thanks to a mutual business associate'uh ours, it ain't gonna trouble me no more. So I'd take it as a kindness you lettin' us handle that when we're good and ready. She finds out," and Smedley shrugs, lifting both hands and splaying the fingers of the one not holding the mug, "she finds out. You said it yourself - she's tough." He lowers his hands and squares his shoulders, looking Cardinal in his unshielded eyes. "But if all we've got is a fuckin' month, I ain't gonna let somethin' already said and done sully that."

"Oh, Christ, now I've got you doing it too?" Cardinal brings one hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose, his eyes closing as he says tightly, "She is not going to die. Not to some useless mercenary piece of shit like Emile-fucking-Danko. The future isn't written, and she should damn well know that by now. That's what we do."

His hand falls, and he says quietly, "It's your choice, Wes. But if you're serious about this, and you don't tell her? You don't have anyone to blame but yourself for what happens."

No, the future isn't written. But for all Smedley knows, Cardinal's done just as much as he has to ensure Peyton's safety. But he doesn't know. That's the worst part about all of it - there are too many unknowns.

"So fix it," he softly snarls before he turns again to grip the door. "Since it's what we do. Or hell. Tell me what to do to fix it. And…" he pauses to swallow, that grimace once more returning, as if he was just hit with a cloud of rank body odor, "…and let me handle th'rest."

"You want to know where Emile Danko is, Wes?"

Cardinal turns around, walking back towards the bedroom door, "…ask Peyton."

"'Cause that won't hurt 'er!"

The retort is growled at Cardinal's back before Smedley wrenches the door open and slams it behind him, stalking back down the hall toward the stairs to climb down to his own apartment. There's a day to get ready for, and while Cardinal's will contain violence, Smedley's will be filled with circumstances much less clear cut.

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