A Very Un-Merry Christmas


brennan_icon.gif elijah_icon.gif koshka_icon.gif

Scene Title A Very Un-Merry Christmas
Synopsis Brennan helps a father and daughter reunite for Christmas Eve. Things don't go as well as one would hope.
Date December 24, 2010

The Brennan Home

Brennan wasn't home when Elijah had the honor arriving. A newly slim - in as much as you can be slim after popping out a kid under two weeks ago - Michelle has let him in, Marlena elsewhere in the house, the nanny and Henri sequestered elsewhere for the infants sleep. The house smells of Christmas Eve dinner, pine tree, bread, you name it. A ham in the oven just finishing and Michelle bantering back and forth with the good geneticist on this and that scientific about who knows what. OR Maybe Michelle is treating him to a demonstration of her temperature prowess and fiddling with the atmosphere within the house.

What is known, is that Brennan's pulled up into a parking spot two houses down from his brownstone and he and Koshka, the twins and a bunch of coffee are now coming in through the front door with a knocking of feet to kick away snow. "Mish! I'm home!"

Polite to a fault through the majority of the ride, Koshka had become more decidedly reserved once they drew near the house. Even following Brennan and the twins in shoe cleaning before entering the door, she becomes more guarded, like she'd had second thoughts on accepting the invitation.

Yet, there she is, following suit in jacket removal and juggling coffees, removing shoes and what else. Koshka peeks over her walls enough to admire the entryway of the house and even look with shy curiosity to the areas beyond the front door.

The geneticist is wearing a suit, as is his standard. He did have the thought to try and get a Christmas tie. What results is a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer tie, which he adjusts every so often. Elijah is a good listener, at the very least; when he found that she was Evolved, he kindly asked her to demonstrate, and went 'oooh' and 'ahhhh' appropriately. He is fascinated by Evolved Abilities, after all, and always has been. It's why he's got his job at the Institute, and it's why he's having dinner here with the Brennans.

He's even helping with the cooking; he was always good with cooking, though he's much better at making Russian food, and he's said as much. He's just speculating on how amazing her ability is, while secretly wishing he could look at her DNA, as Brennan walks in. Elijah turns his gaze in the general direction the door, another faint smile coming over his face. He can't help but to smile, when the Brennan family has shown him such hospitality.

Little does he know that his daughter is here, and he is only seconds away from seeing her. Smiling to Michelle, he politely follows her as she leads the way from the kitchen toward the entryway, hoping to help with anything that needs to be carried. He doesn't see her…yet.

"Good! Then you can take possession of the good doctor" Michelle is unaware of Brennan's doing and is likely going to give him a good verbal beating later when everyone goes home. "Before he takes over dinner. He wanted to show me how to do ham the Russian way, I did not know that there was a Russian way" She turns to Elijah, beaming at him kindly. "The next time we shall have you over and you show us how to do a Russian meal. Then I will show you a french. Harve, my love, though, he wants a Ham Christmas eve…" Michelle trails off, tilting her head as she catches a glimpse of someone that the girls are flocking around.

"Harve? I did not set the table for another, let me go do that" Turning away with a look and a sway that still remains from her more rotund belly days of recent. This leaves Brennan and Elijah, the twins who are peeling off scarves and boots and jackets, hats and gloves and… Koshka.

Brennan dips his head to Elijah as the man makes his way in behind his wife. "Merry Christmas Elijah, I have someone that, I would like for you to meet" And with that, and less fanfare that might anticipate, he steps to the side. Which reveals Koshka.

The teenager in question had settled for watching the two girls, amused with their simple little worlds where their only concern is getting out of outdoor clothing. But Michelle's words don't go amiss and Koshka looks up with an apologetic look. "Sorry I can— okay." Wow, she hadn't thought she'd be an unexpected guest. That look is doled up to Brennan as well, unspoken apology for whatever trouble she's brought.

The look becomes more neutral as she's exposed to Elijah, though there's a returned hint of wariness about it. "Hey, Dad," Koshka says, as though only a day or two had passed since she last saw him, instead of several months. "How's work?"

At first, Eli indeed can not see his daughter, with Brennan between her and him. He laughs softly to Michelle, who seems to have an easier time of getting at least some form of cheer from the normally serious fellow. "I will make you all a full course of traditional Ruski food. I'll do my best to avoid Borscht, but I can make no promises." He smiles over to the french woman. "And in turn, I look forward to your French cuisine."

Then, he's blinking up at Brennan, his brows raising at the man as a brief look of confusion passes over his features. Then, Brennan is stepping to one side. Briefly, Eli's eyes follow him, before the greeting prompts his attention, blue eyes swiveling back to the form of the girl he all but raised from infancy.

His eyebrows raises up, and he swallows a bit, only able to stare for a moment as if he's trying to determine if this is real, or just a dream. For a moment, not a single sound comes from him, though his mouth is opening and closing, almost like a fish. His daughter, the little girl who stole his heart 15 years ago. It was for her that he took her in all those years ago. It was all for her. The knowledge, the recognition he hopes for— that is all secondary to the teenager standing in front of him.

And immediately, Brennan and everyone else is excluded from his conversation. When he finally finds his voice, he speaks in Russian, just like he always has when speaking to her. "«Koshka. You— you're alive!»" If Brennan wanted to see emotion from the humorless Russian scientist, he certainly got it. Are Elijah's eyes sparkling a little from tears?

After a moment of reluctance, he moves forward, crouching down to one knee and attempting to draw the girl close into an awkward but heartfelt hug. "«Oh, thank god you're okay! I was so worried about you! You've lost so much weight…»"

Any other time, Koshka might have laughed at the reaction. Any other time, that is, if any other time were prior to now. Koshka backs away from the reaching hands, closing off once again though the door keeps her from retreating entirely. Apparently weight isn't the only thing she's lost.

"I'm alive and okay," the teen answers with a small up-quirking of her lip, an uncertain show of a grin. "Really, I'm okay. I'm all taken care of and everything." And really, she is.

Awkward and then, not. "Why don't we go into the living room? Give Koshka a moment to take off her jacket if she wants" Or to flee, that too. "It was a cold ride over. Michelle probably has some tea or hot chocolate if you like, in the kitchen, and your dad and I will meet up with you in a few minutes?"

Which is to say, Elijah doesn’t get a choice and Koshka does as he takes Elijah by his upper arm and guiding him back down the hall then into the living room.

The good doctor's face certainly is animated tonight. That usual lens he views his emotions through is nowhere, tonight. Not with Koshka. As the girl backs away from Elijah's attempt at a hug, the man displays a look as if he's just been slapped in the face and had his heart ripped out all at once. All he wanted was to hug her, the child he would have given everything for. His arms hover in the air for a moment, before he seems to deflate.

"«Koshka…I'm so sorry. If I had known it was so important to you, I would have never tried to…I would have found a way to work around that. Please don't hate me, Koshka…I only ever wanted the best for you.»" Even as Brennan is taking him by the arm and guiding him down the hall, he's gibbering away in Russian. "«I promise, I'll never try to make you register again…if I do, then may Baba Yaga eat me herself!»"

The teenager stands stoically, her slightly unsure grin remaining even as Brennan leads Elijah away. She lets the apologies and the promises hit her, but refrains from showing anything toward them. Only once the two men are out of sight does Koshka sag against the door, head tilting to look up at the ceiling. She could go now. She could go and disappear again. There might be enough time to make it back to the Garden without being stopped and questioned.

Her hand makes it as far as turning the knob, but the door doesn't open. The latch clicks back into place. Baba Yaga eat her if this gets her into trouble. Koshka pulls off her jacket and holds onto it rather than relinquish it to a hanger or coat stand. Taking a breath to brace herself, the youth turns and, though exceedingly slowly, eventually follows after Brennan and her dad.

"You need to compose yourself Elijah, or you're going to scare her off. It was a miracle enough this Christmas to even get her to show up. You're in my home and you both are guests, and I need you to get control of yourself" It's asking a lot, Brennan knows that as he claps a hand on Elijah's back, guiding him into the living room that the kids don't go into, no spec or sign of any toys and guides him over to the coffee table and the wine there. "Think of her like a fragile chain of DNA, that is liable to shatter at any moment. treat her like that"

Elijah frowns at Brennan as he walks. He almost forgets to switch back to English, and begins his sentence in Russian. But he quickly cuts himself off, switching himself to English. "How did you find her? I— I haven't seen her since August, I've been so worried for her. I had to move for work, and I couldn't find a way to tell her, and…" He stops himself, taking a few deep breaths and closing his eyes.

"I don't know how." This is said in a hushed tone, Eli sitting on the couch and rubbing at his face. His mouth opens a few times to speak further on the subject, but he just stops himself. Instead, he reaches for a glass of wine, taking a hasty gulp of it. He never was much of one to drink alcohol, but…well, his daughter is here, for Christmas no less, and he had no time to prepare himself for this moment.

Keeping her coat in front front of her, so much like a shield, Koshka appears at the edge of the living room. She, at least, has composed herself back to that reticent demeanor, careful and cautious around the adults. She doesn't impose further, politely allowing another moment or two to pass without her rejoining the picture.

They really are quite alike. Quiet, composed. One a more female version of the other. "You sit down, you ask her how her day is, you ask her how.. school is going. You ask her her shoe size, if there's anything she needs, anything she wants. You wait to give her a hug until she gives it herself first."

Brennan looks away from Elijah towards the young girl then back to Elijah. "She doesn't want to go home with you, and I can't tell you where she's currently living, even I don't know that. But I know she's safe, she's fed, she's clothed and they're not hurting her. But I promised that I wouldn't make her go home with you." He beckons Koshka over with a smile even as Michelle is coming in from the direction of the kitchen with a tray of hot drinks.

If Elijah had been shot in the heart at point blank range, he likely wouldn't look as stricken with grief as he does upon hearing that she doesn't want to go home with him. And that he can't make her go home with him. He seems very intent on drinking that wine, closing his eyes tight as he gulps the liquor down, finishing half a glass in one go. He's using it more as a distraction than anything else. For once, he is in a rare moment where he isn't thinking about the fact that slurping this stuff down like he is will result in him feeling tipsy.

When he opens his eyes to peer down at the wine, he spots Koshka in the room, now. A deer in the headlights look comes over his face, and he lowers the half-emptied glass back to the coffee table, clearing his throat and running a hand over his face, as if he can just wipe away the emotion that it is betraying. It works, to a degree, the geneticist managing to relax his mouth and brow from their frowning state. But his eyes— that's one thing he can't control. They're glistening.

"«Koshka, I'm sorry for coming on so strong after…after all that has happened.»" He speaks in a calm, even tone, but it's betrayed by an underlying tension in his vocal cords. He recognizes it: he wants to cry. But he doesn't buy into his body's notion of tears. He instead clears his throat once more. "«How…how have you been?»"

Koshka gives a small nod to Brennan's invitation, stepping further into the living room. She pretends to not notice the anguish that Elijah's obviously feeling, her own face an aloof mask. Her coat is hugged all the more tightly to her chest as she takes up, not a seat put a spot, standing room, with eyes flicking up to follow Michelle's arrival and then a glance to Brennan.

When she's addressed directly, the teen focuses on her father. Unlike him, she refrains from the habitual habit of speaking in Russian. It isn't meant to slight the man that raised her, though. "I've been alright," she tells Elijah, the lie coming easily enough. Living on the streets hasn't, in any way, been the easiest. "Keeping out of trouble. I make sure to do my share where I'm staying."

He always was stubborn, and old habits die hard. Despite the fact that Koshka is answering him in English, Elijah remains adamant about speaking to her in Russian. This is a private affair, one he is uncomfortable sharing with Brennan. His boss. In a polite tone, he responds. "«In Ruski, please? This is my boss.»" He casts a glance toward Brennan, then back to Koshka.

Then, he knocks himself from that habit, frowning down at the wine glass in silence for a long moment. "«It is…good…to hear that you are doing well.»" He lies, too. She looks skinny. She doesn't look like she's doing well at all. Not as well as he could do for her. "«I'm sorry, I didn't bring your Christmas presents. They're still at home, under the tree. If I had known I would see you, I would have brought them.»"

He really is trying to skirt around the subject that he's missed her, that her absence is killing him. The mask he wears starts slipping again, though. Here, the only person who would ever come between him and his work and win, and she won't even come near him. The wine glass is lifted, some of the alcohol gulped down. He's at least slowing himself down, if only by a hair.

"«I also got one of those Kinects. The one that you were talking about, where you use your entire body to control the game.»" He fidgets with the stem of the wine glass, frowning at the liquid within.

Brennan might not be so observant, but Michelle is and with a tug, the Frenchwoman is pulling her husband away with a murmur about needing help with the ham and the twins, thereby leaving father and daughter to talk in private even if in another language.

Blue eyes flick at the departing Brennan's then return to Elijah. But she's stubborn, too, private affair or not. And like so many other disagreements they'd had, Koshka believes she still needs to show that she's got her own mind. "I can't—" she begins to answer, reaching for words that might make the choice she's made for herself easier to swallow. "I'm… I've got… Not yet, Dad."

Turning slightly, to go through the motions of admiring the decor in the living room without ever actually turning her back to Elijah, Koshka takes a moment to again settle herself. "I'm sorry, Dad," she begins again, quieter this time. "I shouldn't have come. I should've… sent a note or something. I just… I wanted you to know I'm alright and taken care of."

Elijah falls silent as Brennan and Michelle depart the room, his eyes on the glass of wine, rather than his daughter. He's quiet for a good long while after her apology, idly tapping the glass with a fingernail, making it ring out a crystal-sounding tone. He's lost the mask again, without realizing it, and that anguish on his face is back in full force.

"«Just…spend Christmas with me? Please.»" He asks this as calmly, as levelly as he can. "«Let me give you my gifts, and cook you some Christmas Dinner like we've always done. Then, you can go back to wherever you need to go. I promise, I won't stop you, or Baba Yaga will eat me.»"

The saddest look Koshka's likely ever seen on her father's face is leveled up at the girl. "«Please…don't make me beg, Malinki Koshka. I won't ask anything else of you…just let me have Christmas with you?»"

Already shaking her head, Koshka turns to look at Elijah. "I can't," she states again, more firmly though her resolve has shaken. She shouldn't have come, it was a bad idea. Trouble, it seems, has found her yet again. "It's… You wouldn't understand why. Maybe we can meet somewhere, I can find a way, but… I can't spend Christmas with you."

The teen turns again, a fleeting glance directed toward the kitchen and then to the entryway. "I'm sorry," Koshka says again, looking to meet her father's eyes, her own pleading from just behind the wall she's built up. "«Please understand, I can't do more than that.»" As much as she might want to, there's something she needs to do first, for herself. As herself.

And then, he shuts the emotion off as he sees it getting too far out of his control. If this continues like this, he will end up showing too much. He has to be the strong one. In turn, he shuts his own daughter out for a moment, sitting in complete silence. His eyes clench shut tight for a moment as he quietly shivers on his seat on the couch.

He lifts the wine glass, draining the last half of it in only a few gulps. Maybe he'll finally bust out that scotch that he's had sitting in the liquor cabinet for years when he gets home tonight. It sounds like a good idea.

Suddenly, without a word, he's standing, straightening his suit. Wordless, he is, as he reaches into his back pocket, pulling out his wallet. He does have a few things that he prepared if she ever did come back— at the very least, he can give her that. He pulls out a small stack of items: a wad of cash (roughly $1000), a debit card with her name on it, as well as her old ID from before registration was mandatory. And a business card with Elijah's number and home address on it, with 'if you need it' written in Russian.

He's silent as he moves over to Koshka, dropping these things, neatly kept together with a paperclip, into his daughter's lap. "«I love you, Malinki Koshka. Come home soon. Enjoy dinner with the Brennans. They're good people.»"

And with that, Elijah is moving toward the hallway, reaching for his coat and pulling it on as quickly as he can without making it look like he's fleeing for his life. Which he is.

Dumbfounded and stricken, Koshka can only look at the cash and cards. Hands tremble as she holds them, eyes lifting and feet moving to follow after Elijah. She actually runs down the hall, blowing off manners for the effort of catching her dad before he runs away this time.

"Wait," Koshka calls to him. "«Dad.»" Abandoning coat and gifts in the middle of the hall she reaches out to grab Elijah. Giving over to emotions, unlike what he'd showed her for years save for very special occasions, the teen tries to pull him into a hug this time. She'll follow him out the door if she has to in order to offer him that much.

He's just reaching for the door handle, buttoning up the last button of his wool coat, as Koshka catches him. And she rather catches him by surprise when she grabs him, enough to make him halt in his tracks and turn— just in time to receive the hug from his daughter. The emotions he was pushing away suddenly come flooding back again as he feels her arms around his waist.

His arms wrap around Koshka's shoulders, the man dipping his head down to place a long kiss on top of his daughter's forehead, even as tears moisten his cheeks and her hair. No, no, Elijah. You're crying now— this won't do. Remember, it's a simple chemical reaction produced by your brain. It's just hurt feelings; you still have your work to do, you can't let this get to you like this.

But as much as he explains the scientific codes for emotions, that doesn't stop it from hurting where his heart is. It's not like physical pain. It's like a knot, sitting in his stomach, winding up more and more and more as each moment passes. It pulls on him. It hurts that the girl he took in, the girl he rescued from an abusive step father, won't even spend Christmas with him.

He holds Koshka in a tight hug for a long moment, wordless. Then, he lifts, turning back toward the door, doing his best to hide the fact that he's crying from his daughter. He doesn't do a very good job, pausing to stare sadly at her for a brief moment.

Then, he's turning the knob, lifting a hand to wipe at his eyes with a sniff. "«Merry Christmas, Malinki Koshka. I love you.»"

He has to leave, or…he doesn't know what, but maybe leaving now will help him get away from this pain that he really doesn't like feeling. It won't, but he can hope it will.

It's a fierce hug, what Koshka gifts her father with. It won't explain away anything and it won't change her choices, but it's the best she can offer. "«When I can, I will call you,»" she explains, stepping back. "«I will come home one day, but for now I can't.»" For now, she has to wait, too, and there's no way to explain that.

Torn and yet still striving to remain strong, for herself and for Elijah, Koshka takes another step back. "«I promise, we will have Christmas like always. And you will cook, and we'll have gifts and laughter, just like before.»" Just not tomorrow. "«Please understand.»" I love you too, Dad. "«Merry Christmas.»"

But he doesn't understand. And he can't understand. He's miserable as he opens the door, and it shows on his face. Why won't she come home for Christmas? Why, when he gave so much for her? When he didn't have to raise her, to adopt her, but he did because he's always loved her so much. All that he can understand is that this hurts. And that each word is just another stab to his gut.

"«I don't understand.»" He never did lie to her, and he's not about to start now. But sadly, that's all she's going to get from him. He's shutting himself down, and part of him doing that involves him opening the door and stepping outside, tightening his scarf around his neck as he pulls his keys out.

And then, he's walking away, his step hastier than he intends as he makes his way toward that nice BMW he got recently, tears streaming down his cheeks in moist lines. This is the first Christmas he'll spend alone, without his daughter with him, in fifteen years.

And it hurts.

There's no attempt to stop him, nor does Koshka run after her father. She stares at the closed door as though maybe, just maybe Elijah will come back.

A noise from the stairs announces the arrival of children, breaking through the silence and making it a tiny bit easier to turn away from the doorway. Koshka rubs a sleeve across her eyes and turns to gather her jacket and the gifts from her father. She composes a sad grin for the twins and waves at them to lead the way into the kitchen where the two adult Brennan's had disappeared.

A final look over her shoulder, one last peek at the door in hopes that her father might have reconsidered, then Koshka moves herself toward the kitchen as well.

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