You Don't Use Me


cardinal_icon.gif gillian4_icon.gif

Scene Title You Don't Use Me
Synopsis When one of his wayward partners shows up, Cardinal offers her a place to stay and they speak of things that went on while the other wasn't around.
Date September 29, 2010

Redbird Security: Basement

At the bottom of the stairs there's a sturdy metal-reinforced door, locked not with an electronic mechanism but with an old-fashioned mechanical combination lock. A bright yellow biohazard sign is hung up on the door.

Once through the door, the basement is mostly open space interspersed with support columns of grey brick. A thick layer of grey latex paint covers the walls and floor, the ceiling overhead tiled with squares of sound-suppressing foam. A few filing cabinets are pushed up against the near wall, and a single computer desk, the box unconnected to anything except for power, sits between some of those cabinets. The rest of the front part of the roomis an area with folding chairs around a table and a pull-down screen across from a podium with a projector sitting on top of it, evidently for meetings. Deeper in the room, two dozen free-standing posts with sand-filled bases are scattered about, with strings and lines of yarn of all manner of colours connecting them. Post-it notes and photographs have been attached here and there with little pieces of tape. The far wall, behind the string map, bears the legend in stark white block letters upon the grey that stretches across most of the wall and from floor to ceiling: 'FIGHT THE FUTURE'.

The right third of the room has been divided from the rest by a wall of bulletproof glass and metal framing, accessed by a simple glass door near the main entrance of the basement. Inside, three locked gun cabinets sit against the wall, and the rest of that section of the room has been turned into two shooting lanes. Cheap pulley assemblies on the ceiling attached to electric motors hold target posters.

If it weren't for that evil day-star, Gillian wouldn't be here. The trip from here to Staten Island takes long enough that it's time consuming either way, and near impossible at night. The footsteps predate a soft tap on the wall that might be considered a polite knock, to announce her appearance. "You actually have a computer down here?" she asks outloud, her voice similar to how it'd always been, even if that seems like she might have a cold all the time.

But even in the dark it's easy to see a change. Her hair is no longer brunette, but a bright red, and there's a new tattoo, a shadow across her wrist as she touches lowers the right hand down from the wall she knocked on.

"I do," Cardinal's voice drifts back from where he's seated at the table, "It's not attached to anything aside from power, of course, but if I didn't make some compromises, I think Alia and Liz would've revolved…"

His head lifts, a faint smile curving to his lips as he looks through the dark that doesn't hide anything from his eyes, "Good to see you, Gilli… was starting to get worried. You can turn on the lights."

"Just starting to worry?" Gillian repeats with a laugh, reaching around until she finds the light switch and turns it on so she can walk a little more confidently down into the darkness. "I've been worried about myself for almost a long time now. And it never seems to go away even for a little while. If it's not one thing it's another, you know?"

Always a threat, always something.

"I've been meaning to come out here for a while, but where I'm staying they don't even have lights, or computers, and getting a cellphone signal takes a mile walk, at least— but hey, I found the place." Finally. She waves a hand around, and then starts to look at everything. The more things change… It's like a certain room in the Library.

"You don't call, you don't write…" As the lights flicker and then slowly illuminate, Cardinal squints a bit at the increased glare for a moment before he relaxes once again. He leans back in his chair, a smile tugging up at the corner of his lips, "…I figured that… after everything, you might need some time to yourself. I didn't want to crowd you."

There's a more serious look in his eyes as he asks. "How're you holding up?"

"Honestly I think the last thing anyone really needs is 'time to yourself.'. There's very little more destructive than your own thoughts," Gillian says, moving along the edge of the bullet proof glass near the door. Hello fingerprint smears.

"But I'm… I'll be fine. I'm not here about me. I— I've been talking to Claire. I think you should go see her sometime, too. Even if it's in secret, to protect her cover. I think she just needs some security right now." And— Security is what they are supposed to do.

"I'm extracting her." Cardinal looks — tired, and worried, as he leans back in his chair, one hand lifting to rub against the side of his face, "I know what's going on, and why, and… there's no reason I should've anticipated it, but… I can't help but blame myself a little."

"I think extracting her might not be the best idea," Gillian says with a grimace, as she lowers her hand and moves closer to the chair that he's sitting in. "Or at least ask her if she wants to be extracted before you do it. What happened— she just needs someone to talk to. I'm there for her right now, I still see her every so often, but I think you'd be better. I think she needs to know that she's not completely failing in her mission, and extracting her might just…"

"I have to." Cardinal shakes his head slowly to side to side, "Do you — do you know they found her clawing herself up and writing things in her blood, Gillian?" A pained look in his eyes, in his voice as he admits that, looking to her seriously, "The longer she stays, the more brain damage she'll be accumulating, and the worse she'll get."

"She was cutting herself up when I found her too," Gillian says, not seeming to be quite as bothered by that as Cardinal is. "What she's struggling with isn't just about what's happening with Messiah, it's about what happened to her during Apollo. In Mada— whatever. She started to remember it, after you guys saved me from the Institute. Cause the doctor that did all those things to her was the same one that turned the whole hospital into a freak factory. She just needed someone to talk to her and no to blame her for feeling like that, and she certainly didn't find it in whoever found her the first time."

"I know," Cardinal closes his eyes, his voice thick with guilt as he leans against an arm on the table's edge, "And Rupert's been re-writing portions of her brain while her ability is regenerating her memories… if I don't get her out of there, Gillian, she's just going to get worse."

"Rupert? Who's Rupert? What— rewriting her brain!?" Gillian exclaims in shock, and quite a bit of outrage, as she takes a couple more steps closer. It's not directly aimed at him, so much as at the idea of i. "Okay, what the hell have I missed here? I…" Rupert. "Is that the same guy that they took me to after I helped heal you?"

"Rupert Carmichael." Cardinal regards her again, his lips twisting into a grimace, "The… so-called tactician of Messiah. As it turns out, the entire thing is a front for Mitchell and the Institute. He's a persuader, and his fingerprints are all over the brains of half the group." A rough snort, "You don't seriously think Claire would volunteer to be a suicide bomber, do you?"

"I— hadn't even known she did. I kinda missed a lot while I was rotting in a cell being used in experiments for the better part of the summer," Gillian says, rubbing a hand over her face as she tries to figure this whole thing out. The news she'd focused on when she got back was everything involving the Flash. She'd not bothered to look at things involving Messiah's activities. "That might explain what I told her to investigate. If there's a guy rewriting people's brains— Do you think he'd done something to me?"

"It's…" Shit. Cardinal takes a breath, then he exhales it, nodding once tightly, "…it's quite possible, even probable, if they brought you to him after you and Peter - put me back together. You said they brought you to him?"

"Yeah, that's where I woke up, like a day later, or something," Gillian says, thinking back on it. "It was a nice place, and I was told not to talk about being there, but if this guy's brainwashing people…" Then hell yeah she's gonna mention it now. "Whatever it is, it probably has something to do with my ability. That's what it always comes down to, right? About the only reason anyone would bother to use me for anything…"

"You know, I— I swear to God," Cardinal lifts one hand as frustration bleeds into his voice, shaking a finger at her, "You and Peyton must belong to some sort of fraternal order of self-deprecation or something, because I can't hold a conversation with either of you without you going on about how unimportant and useless you are. Stop it."

He shakes his head, "I'm willing to bed that he wants to - or already has - used your power for something, though, yes. And… unfortunately, we don't know any way to remove what he's done. If we let a telepath dig for it, they could be affected too."

"I never said I was unimportant and useless. I said that's the only thing someone would use me for," Gillian says with her own brand of frustration. "And it's not self-deprecation when it's true. You even agree that it was the right idea, so you don't have to insult me while you do it." If he's frustrated, then it seems to have been contagious, because she starts to run around as if to walk out, though she doesn't make it much further than a few steps cause she's more just trying to put some extra distance between them.

"I agree that it's the only thing he would want you for," Cardinal replies flatly, "That doesn't mean it's all 'anyone' would use you for. You're a lot more than your ability, Gillian… and I'd want you on our side even if you don't have any ability whatsoever." A sigh spills past his lips as he leans back in his chair, "So… we need to get Claire out of there. If this is anyone's fault, it's mine, not hers."

"There's a difference there, Cardinal. You're not using me," Gillian says, shaking her head a bit, as if he's focusing on the wrong things in what she said. "Being on your side and being used are very different things. What people have done to me because of my ability has nothing in common to the way you treat me. Hating my ability and what people have done to me because of it doesn't mean I hate myself." But… she rubs her hands over her face and turns back to him. "But I'm glad you'd say you'd want me around even if I didn't have it… And you should get Claire out of there."

"I don't recall ever asking you to do anything with your power, actually, aside from helping Peter save my life." Cardinal regards her for a long moment, and he says quietly, "It's just a tool, Gillian. Nothing else." He braces a hand to the table's edge, pushing himself up to his feet and stepping over, his voice quieting, "Hey. Is there anything I can do?"

"Only thing I can think of is something that Elisabeth might shoot me for suggesting," Gillian says, apparently not knowing Elisabeth well enough to know that it might be considered a decent suggestion. "But I think I might want to stay in the city tonight, either way. I have to go somewhere tomorrow, and it'd be easier not to have to go through Jersey or take a Ferry just to get all the way there."

"You know, me'n Liz aren't exactly exclusive there, Gilli." Cardinal stops in front of her, a hand coming up to brush against her cheek as he watches her eyes for a moment, saying quietly, "I really have been worried about you. And we have three floors of apartments. Take one. You can use it whenever you're here in town, even if you don't feel like living here."

For a brief instant, Gillian freezes at the touch, but it melts away before it becomes too obvious. Surprised, her eyes relax and slide shut, as she leans against the hand. "I'll take it. It's always good to have places to go…" Though she doesn't know what the world will be like when she comes back— or that's the way things seem to be to her. Then her eyes open again, a little unsure, but oddly hopeful. "You really mean the not exclusive thing? Cause I'm really not wanting to get shot."

A bark of laughter stirs from Richard Cardinal's lips at that last question. "You do realize," he tells her in rather dry tones, his palm cradling to her cheek and head tilting down to rest his brow to hers for a moment, "That she's been fucking Felix Ivanov for quite awhile now, right…?"

There's a laugh, perhaps a grateful one, really. It is funny, for having been worried about that since Antarctica, and finding out it may not have been a problem at all. Well, if he'd had a body for most that time, at least. "Just promise me you won't swallow anymore nukes afterward, okay," Gillian says, as she shifts her face to press a kiss against his lips, as she adds, "Bad things keep happening to guys I have sex with."

"Are you kidding me?" Cardinal's lips brush to hers in a gentle kiss, a smile quirking up at one corner, "The world's not lucky enough to get me out've it that easily…" A tilt of his head towards the stairs, "…c'mon. You can pick out one've the apartments."

"I hope they come furnished," Gillian says with a teasing sound to her voice, touching his hand with hers, before she lets go to make her way toward the stairs— where she picks up a bag of clothes and other things. She's not sure how long it'll take her to make her way out to Roosevelt Island. But now she has a place to stay. "Are you planning to inspect my room choice?" she asks with that same teasing dimpled smile. One wouldn't know she had nearly been crying a few moments before.

"I think we got beds in most of them now," Cardinal admits with a laugh, fingers curling briefly to hers before he steps away and over towards the stairs with her. An amused look to her, one brow lifting, "Well, I've got to make sure you're doing all right. I mean, you've been through a lot, someone needs to make sure everything… works." A wink, and he heads up the stairs, "Meeting next Wednesday, by the way, if you're still around…"

"I'll try to make it," Gillian says, lagging a bit so that he isn't far behind her, with a smile on her face. "It'll be nice to stay out here at least one or two nights a week— They don't have a shower where I'm staying now. It reminds me of Argentina." The closest experience she'd had to roughing it had been there…

But for now— there's a bed and shower awaiting her.

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