When The Shadows Get Too Friendly


cardinal_icon.gif nisha_icon.gif

Also featuring NPCs by Chinatown.

Scene Title When the Shadows Get Too Friendly
Synopsis Nisha's quiet night at home by herself is interrupted by unexpected and unwanted company. Cardinal takes a little bit more than he'd originally planned, but the only thing he gets away with is a bullet in the back.
Date February 9, 2009

Solstice Condominiums - Nisha Kotecha's Home

Nearly 7,000 square feet can get awfully lonely a night.

The only company that Nisha Kotecha has at this hour in her condo are her things and her work, and she isn't paying attention to either at the moment. She sits in the library, curled up in a chair she's moved to be closer to the fireplace. Dressed in only a satin robe on top of a negligee, being near the fire is important not only for warmth, but for light too.

Nisha's reading a small leather-bound book - the sort that women dressed in dresses with choking necklines read in paintings - and her posture in the chair is positively cat-like. The fire and a lamp nearby are the only lights in the vast residence, but, of course, Nisha doesn't need much else. It's not like there is anyone else here.

As it turns out, the most state of the art security can't keep a shadow out of one's home. It's a fact that a certain infamous burglar has used to his advantage many times - tonight, for instance, as a pool of darkness spills under the crack in the front door, stirring there a bit in consideration of the light-blackened condo before concluding there's nobody else present, or at least not awake.

A wash of shadow upwards from the floor swiftly resolves itself into Cardinal, who hasn't so much as put on a mask to conceal his identity—being caught isn't, clearly, something he's too concerned about. No need for him to turn on the lights, he draws out a folded bag from his pocket and shakes it open, moving along through the apartment with a quiet step, picking up little knick-knacks and bits that look expensive. He's making his way through the gallery when he notices the light from the library's entrance. Belatedly. Since he just walked past the door, quite possibly noticable in peripheral vision. Pause. Shit.

There is plenty to fill Cardinal's bag, but the biggest obstacle he faces is size. A lot of the pieces that decorate Nisha's plush and posh living space are substantial, but each is undoubtedly expensive. The ability to fence things like this may be an issue as well.

Still, Cardinal's trip from the foyer to the gallery isn't a very long one, so he doesn't have a chance to pilfer a larger percentage of Nisha's things before the process is interrupted. When one is alone, one gets used to the usual shadows around oneself.

It's chance that has Nisha's chair turned, not toward the fire, but rather toward the door so that she is not engulfed by the heat of the flames. When Cardinal nears it and interrupts the metaphorical tapestry that Nisha has memorized, the woman tenses with alarm and stares, eyes wide, at the doorway.

That's the problem with people that have -this- much money… they buy all this custom stuff, and then it's so much harder to break down for fencing! Well, maybe there'll be a jewelry box when he gets to the bedrooms. Well, if he gets to the bedrooms, since he's just been spotted walking past the door.

The man pauses there just past the door for a count of seven heartbeats deciding how to play this, before leaning backwards, grabbing hold of the door's edge, his head canting back and towards her in a sideways consideration as he looks into the room. "Hey," he asks, conversationally, "You haven't seen any infamous cat burglars pass through here, have you? Like, five seconds ago—about my height?"

"If I did," Nisha says in a very low, very careful tone that only emphasizes her misplaced British accent, "I would only be suffering from deja vu." She closes her book and lets it slip to her side as she sits in the chair, but she doesn't rise. The phone is on her desk, but who knows what could happen in the time it takes her to walk to it? "Why don't you just set that down and call it a night?" For as 'friendly' as she's trying to sound, fear causes her voice to tremble slightly.

"That'd really rather defeat the point of me robbing your penthouse in the first place," Cardinal observes casually, dropping back a full step into the doorway—the sparsely-occupied sack slung over one shoulder, some silverware clattering, his shoulder resting to the door's frame as he flashes over a roguish grin, "I do apologize, though, I don't normally hit a place when it's occupied. My bad."

Nisha's eyes only widen when Cardinal comes into full view, and she stares at his dimly lit face in an effort to memorize it. "I'll accept your apology if you put the sack down and leave right now, or I am afraid I will be the one to end your chosen career quicker than you might otherwise have planned." Her jaw set, Nisha's gaze grows colder, less fearful. Yet there is a fire in her dark eyes that burns brighter than the one that casts ominous shadows over her delicate features.

Cardinal quirks a brow upwards at that, a shameless grin all that's offered to it. "You? Seriously," he observes, one hand raising to scratch at the bridge of his nose and forehead, "You've got a bit of fire t'you there, but I really don't think you're much of a threat. I'm just a man getting by the best way he knows—and, really, be honest, you can do with a bit less shit to keep around, eh?"

Some of that fire dies in Nisha, but enough remains to help her get to her feet, the firelight playing the fabric of her robe. "Silly me," she mocks in a biting tone. "I was under the impression that all of my so-called 'shit' reminded me of the family I no longer have, seeing how each and every little bit of it has sentimental value. I am ever so thankful that you, Friendly Neighborhood Roustabout, could correct my false conceptions."

She takes a step then, her eyes still on Cardinal in the doorway as she moves toward the desk. "If you insist on staying, would you care for a drink?" Because near the desk is a sideboard with all things alcoholic to offer, and she would be a bad host if she did not make the attempt.

"Oh, spare me," Cardinal replies with a smirk, his hand dropping in a sharp, dismissive gesture through the air, "I'm sure every single dollar in that no-doubt incredibly enormous bank account you must have to upkeep a place like this has sentimental value too, right? I've heard it all before…"

As she steps slowly towards the desk, he watches her, the firelight's shadows playing about him in reddish flickering. "I'd say yes," he admits, "But I've seen the whole 'drugged wine' thing before, m'afraid. Still, help yourself if you insist."

"So I'm a miser and a dealer now, am I?" Nisha opens the sideboard's cabinet and steps away from it. "Help yourself." She moves to stand behind the desk, fingers lightly touching the polished wood as if she were a ballerina at the barre. "That is," she adds, "if you still insist on staying. You'll have a good story to tell the boys in the Pelican."

There are plenty of dive bars in New York where the scum of the city's underbelly congregate, but a woman of Nisha's obvious wealth and stature knowing the name of one, not to mention one on Staten Island, is something strange indeed.

A low chuckle tumbles itself past Cardinal's lips, trailing off into an amused, "Ah… you said it, not me, babe." Then he shifts, pushing himself off the door's frame and strolling along into the library with the casual arrogance of someone who thinks himself untouchable. The shelves are glanced over as he approaches the sideboard and the desk, observing, "Go slumming, do you?"

While Cardinal's attention is on the contents of the library, Nisha leans over the desk to do two things at the same time. She turns on the old fashioned looking desk lamp with one hand while simultaneously taking the phone off the hook and hitting the button for the front desk. There is enough work-related clutter that the misplaced phone receiver might just go unnoticed, if Nisha is lucky.

"Is there an opposite term that applies?" she asks in a marginally louder voice once her task is complete. "For those who slither up from the slums and dives to walk among and rob from the upper crust?"

"A crust is something that forms, stagnant and rotting, on the surface of something that's going bad," notes the burglar as he steps over to the sideboard, gaze flickering sidelong to regard her from the profile of his facereaching out to lift one of the bottles in both hands, attention returning to the label. If he's noticed the receiver, he doesn't react to it just yet. "Like society in recent dayshm, not a bad vintage. You know your wine."

"Thank you. I know many things…" Nisha trails off, squinting. If this were any other situation, it might be a hint for Cardinal to provide his name, and she certainly leaves enough time for him to do so if he wishes before she continues.

"I know, for instance, what sorts of defenses a court-appointed counselor may try to use if you should chose to plea Not Guilty to breaking into my home and relieving me of my personal possessions. Or attempting to, should you decide that you would rather not leave with that sack." She nods to the bundle he still carries, her lips pursing.

The bottle of wine's turned over again, tossed gently in Byron's hand, and then it's slid easily into the sack with the rest—and he twists 'round to lean against the sideboard, a roguish smirk curling to his lips as eyes made dark indeed by the contrast of fire-light and lamp-light return to the robed woman. "You've got balls," he offers casually, "I can respect that, Miss… Kotecha, isn't it? Most women in your position'd be more concerned with my intentions then how you're planning to nail me."

Several stories down, down Solstice's layer cake of marble and exorbitantly priced furnishings, there's a woman in a pressed uniform behind a black glass desk shaped like half a donut gradually making her way from confusion to raw panic. Fortunately, she's professional enough to recognize that though this isn't her area, relaying it to somebody for whom it is would be a pretty awesome idea. Mascara-rimmed eyes gone large as dinner plates click back down to the phoneset before her. She hits the Hold button and then L3, a manicured forefinger stabbing in three key digits.

"There's a robbery occurring at Solstice Condiminiums, room 301. I'm the concierge and we require assistance very quickly, my client is a woman living alone—" //Solstice Condiminiums. You don't even need to offer the uniforms a street name for residences this far upscale. It's known. Money buys a lot of things: geographic acknowledgment, fast response time. Two minutes, they say.

"You're intentions?" Nisha steels herself, relying on the desk to give her that old 'position of power' confidence, even if that doesn't really apply in the given situation. "I would think you're intentions are rather clear." How he knows her name, however, remains a mystery. Solstice isn't the sort of place that has it's residents' names stuck up anywhere conspicuous.

Nisha's eyes narrow as she takes a quiet yet deep breath. "How do you know me? I certainly don't know you."

"If I were a less virtuous man," observes Cardinal, one hand raising to knuckle under his chin a bit as he regards her with slightly hooded, reddened eyes, "I might point out that you do look very nice in that robe…" A low chuckle weaves beneath his breath, then, and he pushes off the side-board to take a step in closer to the desk, meeting her eyes as he leans forward a bit over it, murmuring, "…and, really, you—"

Hey, now. Is that a phone reciever off the hook? Hm.

That fear is back in Nisha's eyes, and they widen with it. The fact the fire behind Cardinal silhouettes his form as he approaches her. The muscles in her jaw and neck tighten as she backs away, intent on using the desk as a barrier between them. Still using it for support, her hands find the cast iron paperweight - a stag - currently holding down a stack of papers.
She has another job for it now, though.

When Cardinal is distracted by, presumably, the phone, Nisha gulps and grips the sturdy object in order to swing it by its hind legs at the burglar. She doesn't let go of it though. It's no good to her if she lets it fall to the floor, even if she does hit him.

The distraction's just a split second, as realization sinks into the burglar's mind… but it's enough that by the time Cardinal's gaze is lifting back up to the satin-robed lawyer, the weight's already sweeping through the air towards him. "Holy—" A jerk back saves him from a concussion or worse, but the edge of the horns catch up the side of his cheek, roughened tip tearing a bloody scratch there as he stumbles back a step.

He stares at her a moment, one hand lifting to his cheek, pulling away red—eyes narrowing, jaw tensing, "Crazy bitch…"

At three stories' height, Nisha's suite is not so very far off the ground. It's all too apparent when the squad car arrives outside, a strobe flicker and flash of blue and crimson bouncing off the window glass and sharp-edged planes of furniture, though the dense material and slick make of windows sealed up against winter's cold keep out the rumble of fireworks and the whoop of sirens alike. The PoPo are here.

"How do you know me?!" Nisha repeats in a louder voice, brandishing the stag once more. The sirens and lights that make their way up to Nisha's windows are a comforting and confidence-inspiring thing. Did someone send him? Are things getting thicker on Staten Island?

The cold flash of blue and red against the curtains of the window are a familiar sight to the intruder, whose muscles tense slightly by way of instinct—that old fight-or-flight reflex creeping up his spine. Still, he has a few moments before he has to make his mistake, and right now there's that sharp flicker of pain across his cheek to focus his purpose.

A push off from his step back, and he leaps up onto the desk, balanced on one knee—lunging out to grab for the heavy, cast iron weight with one hand, and her wrist with the other.

Nisha screams, but with the price tag come thick walls as well. It's unlikely she'll be heard. She holds on to the stag as tightly as she can and wrenching back both with it and her wrist in an effort pry herself from his grasp. Nisha leans back under his grappling weight, doing her best not to fall over.

The little tug-o-war continues for a few moments, before with an irritable sound in his throat Cardinal gets a foot beneath him—the muscles of his leg tensing as he shoves off from the desk, jumping for her down with complete intent to send her to the floor. Of course, he's headed that way too, but at least he'll be on top! …wait, that didn't come out right.

The clatter of bodies and the rustle of a few papers as they hit the floor is deafening in comparison to the sirens outside. Nisha shuts her eyes as she braces for the impact, but it still hurts. She looses the paperweight, but once the cast iron statue is free from her grasp, she sends her hand out toward Cardinal's face, fingers hooked like claws.

This time, at least, Cardinal's ready for itjerking back, twisting atop her and pressing his weight down with his lower body. The paperweight hurled aside with one hand, his other grabs for her wrist as he growls under his breath, "Not again, oh fuck no"

"Bhosdee kay," Nisha hisses as venomously as she can, her face screwing up with rage. There's not much she can do under Cardinal's weight, but that doesn't mean she doesn't put up a fight. Nisha writhes and wriggles in an attempt to break free, and even goes so far as to spit in Cardinal's face.

The spatter of saliva mingles with the crimson already streaking Cardinal's cheek as she spits and snarls her defiance at him, writhing around beneath him in a manner that'd be entirely distracting if he didn't have more important things on his mind at the moment—like the police, already storming up the stairs more than likely. A surge forward briefly pins her wrists down, and he mutters, "Time to make my daring escape, then."

Before that, though? He's got one more prize that he's decided to steal - if he's not acquiring any physical valuables - before he departs. A sudden lean forward, head dropping to hers, to kiss her. Hard.

So hard it knocks the breath out of the woman and sends her eyelids flying upward in shock. She doesn't even have the luxury of pulling away, pinned as she is. So, like an animal backed into a corner, Nisha does the only thing she's able to do.

Nisha bites.

It may seem as returning the action, as if suddenly afflicted with some fast-acting sort of Stockholm Syndrome or as if a hidden kink has been discovered, but only for a moment. After all, to bite, one must first open one's mouth. Nisha closes her eyes in preparation before she opens her lips and lunges forward, her aim to snatch Cardinal's bottom lip in her teeth.

The door is kicked inward. With force so terrific, the impact resonates through the living area as if it were the enclosure of a bell struck from the outside. Abruptly, two uniforms spill into the room, handguns out, shouting. "NYPD!" As if that weren't blatantly obvious, with the military stomp of boots, their hats cresting low above scowling brows, a glimpse beyond the doorway past both the robber and the homeowner's head. "Ms. Kotecha!

"M—" the leading officer spots them first. He is surprised enough to lose whatever his next syllable was. "Get off her, asshole," he snarls, next, loud and clear despite the stretch of varnished wood and carpet between him and the — not couple, though the man has fucked enough women to know something other than simple aggression and counter-attack is at work here. Still, there's no lack of conviction to the command: "Hands on your fucking head!"

Ah, and here things were just getting interesting! That momentary surrender delays Cardinal's plan of escape for a moment or two—long enough that her teeth find his lower lip in a hard bite. Then, ah, then the door smashes in and the police storm the room, right on cue! A hard jerk of his head away leaves her with the taste of his blood on her lips, a sidelong smirk aimed to the officer even as both hands raise to lace behind his head. "Ah, the Boys in Blue, just in time to save the day," he murmurs…

The shadows from beneath her desk spill around his knees, the light of the fire seeming to flicker in a -different- direction as the area of the thief slowly darkens. Subtle, at first, and made moreso by the wild shadows of the firelight.

Nisha spits the blood back up at Cardinal, but some still lingers on her face. She's quick to scramble away as soon as she's able, even if her back and wrists are sore. Curled and braced up against the bookshelves behind her desk, Nisha watches in wide-eyed horror as her attacker…fades from sight. It isn't an ability she has ever witnessed before. But that's not the scary thing.

The scary thing is that now they won't be able to catch him.

Cardinal's fading. By now, even the officers outside of SCOUT know a little about coping with Evolved. Insofar as that, when walking in on an assault with an unknown but obviously genetically-gifted individual, you shoot first and ask questions later.

The first bullet is discharged the instant the thief's shape betrays a hint of curious coloring. The second is a fraction of a second following, goes off with a brief flash of light and a clap like lightning. Both rounds from the leading officer, though his partner is just another instant running, his own weapon out, looking for a clear shot in the limited space.

"Stay down!" That order is, no doubt, for Nisha despite that it would've been fairly helpful to the officers if her attacker would be so kind as to roll over and give himself up.

You know, life was a lot easier before people know about the Evolved. One of these days, Cardinal's going to have to write a letter to Petrelli about that one to 'thank' him for it.

That first bullet strikes against the back of his shoulder before he's able to fully transubstantiate, offering Nisha the rather novel position of getting to see splattering blood droplets transmuting into shadow before they strike. The second whizzes through the air as the thief's hurled to one side by the impact of the first, and by then, well, there's nothing but shadows and darkness.

…albeit shadows and darkness that's going to be bleeding all over the damn place and screaming in pain as soon as he turns back. Damn cops.

Nisha ducks at the first shot, shaky hands covering her head. She scrambles along the wall to avoid the second shot that destroys the binding of the book it meets before it rips through pages and buries itself in the wall. Even once she's out of the line of fire, Nisha stays curled up on the floor, hugging her arms around her chest as she watches Cardinal escape, despite the best efforts of New York's finest.

"Fuck," the first officer says, staring appalled at the space that his mark had occupied one second ago.

His partner turns out to be a little more eloquent. Or, at least, well-acquainted enough with protocol to scramble immediately toward Nisha. "Ma'am," he says, one big hand outstretched. "Ma'am, are you hurt? Your lip is bleeding. Ma'am, did he hurt you?" The accent is local, his voice a low register that approximates reassuring; not condescending. Behind him, his partner is stepping around the bookshelf, angling a cautious stare and black gun muzzle this way and that.

Clear. All clear.

Bernadette's highheels rattle faintly in the distance, amplified by the corkscrew shape and concrete of the fire stairs. The hapless concierge's voice climbs to a panicky note. Ms. Kotecha! It's impossible to tell what floor she's on, but the officers would have had to be idiots to bring her up. The policeman's still speaking. "Would you like us to call an ambulance? Ma'am.

"You don't have to worry. He's gone."

February 9th: Sanguine
February 9th: Taking The Piss
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