White Queen Reigns


cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth2_icon.gif

Scene Title White Queen Reigns
Synopsis A changing of the guard. Job's gotta be done, so what's a girl to do?
Date Nov 27, 2010

New York Public Library

Evading the patrols is not as hard for Elisabeth as it could be. She just has to be cautious about it — and be dressed in a somewhat 'official' capacity in her armor to be sure that if she's stopped, she can back up her reasons. Not the full armor — that draws far too much attention. But her black on black usual uniform plus the regular body armor works quite nicely beneath a bulky black jacket and hat to keep her warm in the freezing weather. And the radio in her ear tells her where the patrols are. So she got there all right.

In the basement of the library, she's been keeping herself quite busy. The rare books room is still intact, something she verifies any time she chances to have the opportunity. Once she's ascertained all the things she wants to know about are squared away, she settles in to simply …. wait. The security cameras won't likely do her much good, nor will her nonexistant audio abilities. It will be entirely up to the shadows when they show up. At least the room is heated. Which would maybe explain the way he finds her.

Her booted feet are propped up on the table and it might surprise him to find that she's sleeping sitting upright in the chair. Elisabeth's face is pale and drawn, the blue shadows beneath her eyes prominent beneath the lights. She's been struggling with illness for weeks, not that he'd be in a position to actually know that. She's dropped a few pounds, and even as he solidifies she sucks in a rasping breath and coughs in her sleep, a deep wet cough that speaks to walking penumonia. It jars her awake, which might explain those circles under her eyes. Eyes that open blearily to look around briefly, falling on him finally. There is no censure in her gaze, only a kind of shuttered neutrality. As if she's waiting for him to either bolt or say something even as she lowers her booted feet to the floor.

Once she arrived, it wasn't hard to tell that this was where Cardinal was hiding out. The generators were running, for one thing. Downstairs in what passed for a 'lounge' area there were other signs of habitation. Some popcorn and snack food wrappers, a stack of movies (bad horror) on the DVD player.

As she coughs, waking up, there Richard is. He's leaning in the doorway, arms folding over his chest, his expression unreadable through his shades. "You're not lookin' so hot, Liz," he says quietly, "You seen a doctor?"

Three weeks hiding out and that's all he's got to say? All right… business it is, then. Elisabeth's lips quirk in a faint smile. "Yeah. It's pneumonia," she rasps quietly. "They've got me on meds. Sounds worse than it is." Which is …. maybe stretching the truth to some (large) degree. She leans her hips back against the table that she'd been propping her feet on, her hands on next to them as she looks at him. "Three weeks to pull your head back together's all I can afford to give you, lover," she says quietly. "If you're out, I need to know now."

"You couldn't even make it a month without me?" A dry question, rhetorical, as he pushes himself away from the edge of the door and walks slowly inside. Cardinal shakes his head slowly from side to side, his hands spreading either way, "I'm still trying to figure out what to do, Liz. I'm not Edward. I can't just snap my fingers and make up a plan."

There's a smirk. "Ass," she informs him roughly. "I can make it the rest of my life without you if I have to." Though her tone is gentle, there is steel to it. She's already buried him once. Would it carve a hole in her? Sure. But she'll live. "If you just need more time, then by all means bury yourself here indefinitely. I'll do what I have to do without you. But if I'm going to do it the way I want it done, then I do need something from you — I need you to literally become invisible." Her blue eyes are cool on him. "I need the Institute and those fuckers who're running things and trying to kill me to believe you're gone. It's the only way I'll be able to make them believe that I might turn to them."

"You know that I will never believe that I've quit," Cardinal points out with a slow shake of his head, "Not entirely. You could always spin it that you don't want anything to do with me anymore, though." A bit of a smirk as he stops beside the seat she's in, one hand lifting to rub against the side of his neck, "He might buy that. Who's trying to kill you?"

Elisabeth doesn't get up from her perch on the edge of the table. She doesn't want to waver in front of him lest he think she's weak. She came with a purpose and she'll lay it out for him if he wants it. But by God, she won't let him see that her knees are shaking with tiredness as she does it, either.

"I know that in the original timeline, Lola killed me. On your orders." Her tone is soft, still with no blame attached. Her blue eyes hold sympathy for what he must have felt. "I know that you sent her to watch my back that night instead. And I know there was another sniper on the roof to take that shot. I believe that the other sniper was placed there because I made a strategic error." She pauses and says quietly, "I told him you were having nightmares and weren't going to take the shot. I think he tried anyway. No one else would have had reason to know that I should have died that night. And he's already offered me a job. So I think I have a shot at convincing him that I believe I need his protection now."

"Did he now." The words are spoken quietly - flat and hard, his expression growing cold at the word that his other self did the one thing that he broke from Edward's plan for. Or tried to do it, at least. Cardinal's silent for a few long moments, and then he cuts his gaze across the room, away from her, fingers curling into a fist at his side. "I didn't… want to tell you about it. It didn't matter. I wasn't going to ever do it, so why would it?"

A moment's silence, then— "How did Spalding die?"

"Some Evo in the mob the night of the riots. I don't know for sure, but it looked like he was… He took a lot of damage. At best guess… unstoppable force versus immoveable object," she says tiredly. "He tried to protect Ruth, and I guess he was trying to evacuate some civilians." Elisabeth's tone is weary. "Why?"

She reaches out and puts a hand on his arm, attempting to draw his attention back to her. "There are some things going on that I've already put in motion, Richard, but if you need time and space, that's fine," Elisabeth says. "When the time comes to kill him, you better believe that it's already taken care of. But I've got a few things I want to verify first. So don't move on him before I'm ready. Eve and Tamara need to be brought out first."

"You and Niklaus weren't the only people on the list, Liz…" Cardinal's words trail off as her hand touches his arm, and he looks back to her with a serious expression. "He has Tamara, now…?" A grimace, "Fuck. Of course, he'd go after the precogs. That's what I'd do. Did." There's a pause, "Alright. I have people on the inside, you know."

"Then now's the time to start talking, lover." Elisabeth smiles a little. "I've seen Eve. She's more lucid than I've ever seen her. And she flat doesn't think that Cardinal," for her there is a clear distinction between them, "has a workable plan. But she's unwilling to leave Tamara, who was brought in not that long ago, to fend for herself. And putting pressure on her will cause her to crack again. His goal is not to try to keep the future intact, Richard… it's to keep his future intact. Broome said as much. They have a roadmap for the next 20 years so long as they keep THAT Cardinal's timeline intact. But apparently the 'real' timeline, the 'original' timeline insofar as such ever existed, was the one where Arthur lived." She shrugs a little. "So now… we're on our own, trying to make our way in the dark. Which, to be blunt, really is the way it should be to start with."

"Of course it was. Edward coming back with his little band dislodged us from that original timestream and turned us away, and all the meddling since has twisted it this way and that…" Cardinal's free hand raises up to rub against the side of his face, his eyes closing, "Eve was never stable at the best of times. If he really… if he really tried to finish the List… shit. Everyone on there's in danger."

There's a long moment where Elisabeth can't answer him because she's coughing too hard. When she's done and can catch her breath, Liz shrugs just a little. "It's nothing new," she says quietly. "Hell, as Kershner pointed out, it could also have been Humanis First taking another potshot at me in the midst of that. Which is a possibility I'm still on the lookout for. Lola's shadowing me." She shakes her head. "It doesn't really matter that much unless you want to attempt to put the people on the list into protective custody somewhere. And if people like me, Spalding, and Niklaus — who is still missing, by the way — are on the list, well…" He's up Shit Creek with no paddle trying to make them hide out.

"I need to know who you have on the inside who'll be reliable as I play this game. It's dicey at best," Elisabeth acknowledges. Her blue eyes skim the room for a long moment.

As she breaks down into coughing, Cardinal's attention snaps back to Elisabeth—stepping in closer, his hand sliding to her shoulder and back in worried reassurance. "You really sound like hell," he murmurs quietly, "You shouldn't be out here, babe… ruins're hell on the respiration at the best of times…" He sighs as she speaks, "Veronica. Of course. You can rely on Brennan when it comes down to the line, but he has a family. Don't risk him unless you don't have any other choice. We have some Dumonts that've infiltrated, too, and his partner, what's her name. Sabine." He pauses, "I don't know if Doc is willingly there or not. I haven't had contact with him since he was captured."

Elisabeth looks up and smiles faintly. "It's a side effect. I'll get over it eventually." When her immune system kicks back in. She was listening all the while, and she nods to the list of people, memorizing it. "I'll keep it in mind."

She's quiet a long moment, one hand coming up finally to cross her chest and rest atop his on her shoulder, her fingers lightly brushing in the first voluntary contact he's really made with her. "You let me deal with you," Elisabeth says quietly. "I need you to do what you do best. Get on the streets, tap contacts, listen at keyholes, shadow people. Find out who else the Institute's working with. See if we can sort out some ways to cut off their support structure. Niki is working an infiltration of d'Sarthe — ostensibly because she's got her own issues to deal with over D.L. and his ties there. That will give her plenty of good reason for being there. But she's also seeking to find out whether d'Sarthe has ties to the Institute or whether D.L. was independently contracted to watch out for Carmichael. Rebel knew of D.L.'s existence — apparently sent him a message of some kind. So the possibility exists that it was strictly a Messiah move and the Institute's not involved. We need to know how deep the chess game goes."

"Did she ever fulfill her assignment? Niki, I mean…" The question's quiet as Cardinal's hand rests beneath hers, his other hand lifting up to brush hair away from her brow as he offers her a faint, tired smile. He looks beaten down now that the armor's softened, exhausted, uncertain. That confidence that he knew just what he was doing gone, now. That was already proven a lie. "I'll do what I do. Hell, even staying out've shit I've been learning things. Old habits die hard."

A nod, slight, and he says quietly, "You need to locate Sabra. Or I do. Someone does. It's too — dangerous to let her have Niklaus without knowing what she's up to. I have confirmation she's not with the Institute, but I don't know what her game is."

"She has it," Elisabeth tells him quietly. "With Zarek dead, that plan's in the shitter, so I told her to sit on it for now." His weariness reflects her own. "I'll see what I can do. I know a couple of people who might be able to work on it. Maybe." She brings her other forearm up to block the cough again, then clears her throat. "I've pretty much got too much on my plate to be able to follow up on it too closely, but I'll have Peyton do some more checking on Niklaus, see if we can get a better read on where he is." She sighs softly. "Abby and Monica are both safe out with the Ferrymen. For now that's the best place for them. The rest of our people are pretty much safe, babe. I've already put the word out to them that you're on assignment and not to be bothered. Everythign that needs to be handled at Redbird, Peyton's got Power of Attorney for, and everything for Endgame I've got covered. Along with taking over FRONTLINE. Thank God it's a fuckin' desk job, mostly." When there aren't riots and shit. "The way I feel since I blew out, it's the grace of God I'm still functional at all."

"There's no way of avoiding the fall now. We can't necessarily carry out the complete Zarek Project, but maybe we can… salvage some of it," Cardinal's lips purse in a tight line as he considers the matter, "Monica should be able to perfectly replicate Linderman's handwriting — I'm sure there's video somewhere of him signing things. Have Alia dredge video archives for something that'll work. We can't put Zarek's name on it… put in our backup. The future has inertia. We still might be able to use that." He nods, tightly, "Talk to Elle about Sabra Dalton. She was around the same level as Bob, she might know something useful. She had enough clearance to know Niklaus's secret, too, and since she grabbed him up— I'm guessing that she knows it."

There's a nod as Liz makes mental notes. "I will." She moves to stand up. "Anything else you can think of, I'll have the cell with me," she tells him softly. "Keep your head down. I can't make them think you've given up, but I think I can make them believe you've vanished for reasons of your own. That in and of itself may allow me time to talk to Broome. Let him see… how uncertain I am. And the other you…" She trails off and says quietly, "Well, let's just say that both of you have always had a fatal weakness when it comes to me. You both think love makes me blind." She moves to pick up her jacket.

At that, Cardinal exhales a snort of breath. "Obviously it does," he points out wryly, "You haven't started running yet, after all…" He watches her for a moment, saying quietly, "I… Liz. Thanks." Awkward, unsure how to phrase his thoughts and feelings, one hand raising to rub against the side of his neck.

Elisabeth turns to look at him tiredly, throwing her coat over one shoulder. "For what?" she asks quietly, holding off on a reply to the other part of that for a moment.

"Just… being you," Cardinal replies just as awkwardly, letting his hand drop to his side, tiredly shaking his head, "You take care of yourself, Liz. You need your rest, whatever paperwork they're piling on your desk."

Shaking her head, Elisabeth is quiet as she watches him. "I'm fine, Richard. I blew out my power, and it's blown out my immune system with it. It'll recover with time. I'll just catch every goddamn thing that floats about for a while," she tells him finally, her voice rough and not in any way asking for his sympathy. It is what it is.

"I'm going to say this to you, though, and you can take it for what it's worth to you. Love doesn't blind me to your flaws. I see them, just as you can see mine. Heroes are not infallible men. They're terrified men who step up when they see a need and make the best choices they can with the situation in front of them and then get lucky enough that the outcome is positive." Elisabeth smiles a little. "You're an arrogant prick sometimes, and a selfish bastard sometimes too. When someone needed to step up, you didn't have to choose to do it. But you did. That tells me more about what's in your soul than anything else you've ever done. Up to and including putting a bullet in my head in another future. I love you anyway because I can't fathom a world where I don't love you anymore. Does it mean you're perfect? Fuck no. Just means… I accept you. And even if the day comes that I walk away from you, there will never be a day that I don't love you."

There's silence for long moments, as Cardinal regards her through his shades - a shield to protect him from the light and to keep whatever secrets his eyes may hide. His head drops just a little after a moment, shaking ever so slightly. "I'm not worth that, Liz," he says quietly, "I might have stepped up, but I may've done just as much harm than good, in the end. If I'm going to be the person you think I am, I'm going to have to make a whole new me."

Elisabeth smiles faintly. "You missed the point again, lover. The choices you're making every day already do that for you," she replies, her voice breaking slightly. "In one future, you had me killed. In the here and now, you did everything humanly possible to keep that from happening because it horrified you. In that other future… you had me resurrected and you lied to me for years. In the here and now, it doesn't have to be that way — learn from his mistakes." Her blue eyes soften. "Eve seems to think you have it in you. Have a little faith in the oracle, hmm?" She offers him a smile. "You know how to get to me if you need me, love." She turns on her heel to head back out of his hidey hole. "Peyton's having a thing tomorrow. You should go. Let 'em know you'll be undercover for a while," she adds, covering a cough again as she goes.

"Maybe. Maybe I will." Cardinal just leans back against the table, as if unconsciously mimicking the pose that she'd assumed when he arrived, watching her with an uncertain and weary look, "Faith is something I'm running low on lately, is all. Especially in myself. Take care've yourself, lover, alright?"

The last thing he sees is a flash of a smile from the doorway. Elisabeth has enough faith for them both. And if not… well, her agendas are already in play. He'll just have to find the faith.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License