Every Good Reason


bob_icon.gif elle_icon.gif

Scene Title Every Good Reason
Synopsis Elle Bishop confronts her father about the past, while Bob is worrying about what the future holds.
Date August 30, 2010

Fort Hero

Since the trip to the Bishop vacation home, Bob has seen very little of his daughter. She's not come to see him since that disasterous trip, where she made him leave and go sit in the car once they had arrived at her mother's grave, telling him that he had no right to be there for that moment, that he didn't deserve to see or hear what she would say to the bones of the mother that she'll never remember.

Since then, he's only seen his daughter in passing in the hallways. And even then, it was only in passing. She's given him gruff greetings and walked on past him, never stopping to talk, or even giving her father a chance to talk more than a sentence. All that he's recieved from his daughter since their trip was a cold wall of silence and almost visible resentment. Since then, Elle has also moved out of Fort Hero, and certainly hasn't been as much as a permanant fixture there as she has been in the past.

She wouldn't even see him when she was recovering from her gunshot wound.

So it may come to a surprise to Robert Bishop when his office door opens without so much of a knock, and his little girl invites herself in. She wears her standard Company uniform, a pair of dark grey dress pants and a matching dress jacket over a blue shirt, complete with those smart high heels she's been so well known for wearing. The expression on her face is rather obviously one of dread and loathing as she casts a quick glance around her father's office.

Only to find him sitting behind his desk, rubbing at his eyes with forefingers and thumb.

The anxious jerk of Bob's shoulders as he startles into sitting upright comes with Elle's arrival. Eyes are wide, a little reddened around the edges and his voice hitched in the back of his throat as he splutters out, "E-Elle?"

"You're supposed to knock," comes immediately next as Bob turns his head aside and sets down a folded letter and envelope atop his desk, turning his chair around as if to get out from it, but taking the moment where the swiveling seat is hiding him from Elle to dry at his eyes before he stands up straight from his chair and steps around it.

The windowless office is dull, concrete walls and bookshelves, exposed cabling bolted to the ceiling. It looks so industrial, so Spartan, so somber. "Was there something I could help you with, Elle?" It's measured tones that Bob uses, careful wording, delicate; he's walking on eggshells.

The sight of her father, in the midst of crying, causes Elle's features to soften, though she disguises her surprise by quickly turning and shutting the door, a frown on her face. It kills her, to see the little bursts of emotion from a man who, for most of her life, was cold and emotionless when it came to interactions with his daughter.

It makes something in her stir, part of her that was pushed down and away from herself long ago when her father wouldn't give her the simple love that she so craved. But then, it also stirs up some sick sense of satisfaction. He's crying. He's suffering, like she's suffered for so many years. How does it feel now, Daddy dearest? How does it feel to know that everything bad that you've ever done is coming back to bite you in the ass? How does all of that karma feel?

And the topic she's come to speak with him about is only going to make it worse for the man.

Finally, the little blonde turns back around, leaning against the now closed door and staring at her father, still frowning…though it's certainly not as pronounced as it was moments before when she walked into the office. In turn, an almost awkward silence fills the office as Elle just stares, trying to piece together the words she's wanted to say for the past few weeks.

When she speaks, it is barely above a whisper, though loud enough to carry to Bob's ears. "Daddy…" She swallows once, taking a few steps toward his desk. Another awkward pause…then, she slips into the chair across from her father's desk, her hands clasping together in her lap. "I need to talk to you."

The sigh Bob gives is familiar, that one that always seemed to say I don't have time but the one that always preceeded these same three words; "Anything for you." Bob takes a few more steps around his desk, then comes to sit down on the front corner of the desk, one foot planted squarely on the floor, the other leg propped up, hands folding in his lap.

"You've obviously got something on your mind, so why don't you tell me about what it is, and…" Bob's eyes avert from the blonde after only a moment, focusing on the concrete floor underfoot and an ambiguous dark stain beneath his shoe. "Why don't you tell me about it," he echoes, losing whatever he'd hoped to have added after the 'and.'

When Bob's eyes finally do rise back up to Elle's, there's a conflicting look in them. Outwardly it doesn't seem much different from the looks that Bob has given Elle in the past, but most of the time context is important, and Elle still lacks that. On the desk beside where Bob is sitting, the opened letter he'd been reading is partly visible, half-concealed under a stack of papers. The postmark on it says 1989.

The little blonde's eyes flick down to the letter he was reading, frowning quietly; then, her eyes flick back up to Bob's face, one hand lifting to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. She stares at her father for a long moment, keeping up that little mask she's always been so good at using. The mask is cracking, though, and where there was once a perfect mask, there are tiny little glimpses into the girl's emotions. The most prominent that shines in Elle's eyes and draws her brow together ever-so-slightly is sadness. The thread may have been broken, but that doesn't stop the fact that seeing her father like this is difficult.

After a measured silence, Elle finally speaks, lowering her gaze back down to the surface of the desk. "I need you to do something for me, Daddy. This is really important to me, that you do this for me." She's quiet, letting that statement sink in for a moment.

Taking a deep breath, she continues. "I've recently spoken to a therapist. I— I'm trying to get past some hurdles right now. I want to get better, Daddy. To— to be a better person than the one I am right now." She frowns, turning her eyes up to her father. "I need you to tell me everything, Daddy. For once, I need you to tell me the truth about me. I need to know what's real, what's fake." The mask slips for a moment, an almost desperate look coming over her face. "I need to sort the lies from the truth, so I can get to know the real me, Daddy."

She pauses, turning her eyes down to the desk. "And if you can't tell me…or won't tell me…then I need to see my file."

Bob's answer doesn't come, not right away at least; Not as quickly as Elle would want it. Lifting one hand to his face, Bob moves his glasses from his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose as he exhales a sigh. "The archives files are being moved right now, Director Dalton is heading up the initiative, it's a security procedure. When everything's done being moved, though, I promise… you'll be given freedom to look at it."

There's a weariness about making that kind of promise, and for all that Bob wants to fulfill his daughter's wishes— he can't. "Truth be told, Elle, I don't even know the difference between truth and lies anymore. I've been trying to protect you from this world all your life, protect you from something you never asked to be protected from, because— I was afraid of losing you like I lost your mother." Bob's wryness in his tone wordlessly implies the irony behind that act.

"I spent your whole life trying to create a world for you where you could be safe, protected." Bob's voice fades for a moment as he looks back to his desk, then to his daughter again. "Every father wishes he could rewind time for his child if they get hurt, or put them in a bubble to protect them. Most father's can't," which is the regretful truth of the matter, "that I could made me lazy… made me take the easy way out, because being a real father to you, meant… meant failing." He doesn't bother to point out that unfortunate truth.

Elle doesn't look at her father as he speaks, her eyes trailing over the papers on her father's desk. The mask she normally holds up so easily around her father is chipped away by his words, however, until there is no more mask to conceal the raw emotions that show on the girl's face. It shifts as each emotion presents itself to her, from the sheer desperation that brought her to talk to the man she'd rather not speak to, to a look of almost seething hatred that only makes it halfway up her father's chest before being cast back down to the unwitting papers.

And then, something Bob hasn't seen for years happens, something he certainly hasn't seen since Elle was but a frightened little child at the merciless hands of The Company. Her face crumples into a look of pure despair, her brow furrowing and the corners of her mouth tugging downward, and her lower lip poking out ever so slightly. Her jaw trembles for a moment.

And then, tears spring forth from her eyes. Silent, at first, accompanied only by shivering little breaths. But she quickly dissolves into soft sobs, her hands covering her face as her form quakes with each soft wail that escapes her mouth.

For the first time in years, Elle is crying in front of her father.

A father would know what to do here, that Bob's immediate reaction is a desire to leave his office tarnishes his credentials to that title. Lifting one hand up to his mouth, he breathes into his palm before slowly sliding off of the desk, tentatively creeping over towards where Elle is seated in that chair and moving a hand down to hover near her shoulder, but reluctant fingers curl back against his palm.

"I never wanted this for you," Bob practically whispers out the admission; guilt laced between the sylables like thread binding poorly strung words together. "I still don't know how to be a father to you, and it kills me inside." Cautiously, Bob lays his hand down on Elle's shoulder, his thick fingers gently squeezing down.

"Eleanor— " too hard of a name to say without choking on it. "Your mother…" is easier to say, "she would've raised you proud. She loved you so much." It's hard to admit that he didn't truly love her as much as Eleanor did, he didn't want to be a father. "You're all I have left of her," he quietly adds, before realizing, "but I took away all you had left of her." That much makes his throat tighten.

"You have every right to hate me," Bob finally admits at the end, his fingers relaxing as he starts to withdraw his hand from Elle's shoulder.

The girl can only sob quietly for a long while, shrinking in on herself and becoming smaller, more like that little girl that cried alone in the glass rooms they had her in. As his hand squeezes her shoulder, she does quiet. An act of affection, as too little and too late as it is, helps her to regain control, if only slightly, wiping at her tears and smearing her makeup with the back of her hand. As he speaks of her mother, she stiffens slightly, staring at the letter on the desk, avoiding her father's gaze.

It's when he withdraws his hand that Elle finally regains enough composure to speak, though her voice still carries the soft whine that comes with tears. "Then at least tell me why I didn't know that my real birthday is September 17th. Tell me why I have this horrible, sinking feeling in my gut that there are so many more lies? Is it all a lie, Daddy?" She finally turns her tear-stained eyes up to her father, the betrayed look obvious on her face. "At least give me something to go off of!"

Then, she's collapsing into tears again, slowly bending at the waist until her forehead rests on the edge of the desk, her arms hugging her head. "What did I ever do to deserve this, Daddy?! Why couldn't you just let me be a kid? Why couldn't you just ship me off to some relative? Why did you have to experiment on me? Why did you have to fuck with my brain and manipulate me into being your little pawn?!" She suddenly lets out a low wail, sobbing into her arms.

"I would have done anything for you, Daddy! I would have done anything just to make you proud of me! All I ever wanted was for you to love me!" She curls in on herself, her arms migrating to hug around her own shoulders as she collapses into uncontrollable tears.

Bob's hand moves away, fingers curl against his palm again, five tiny cowards they are. "You only would have done whatever I wanted, because we made you that way." It's a guilty omission as Bob slowly turns, looking down to the floor then askance to his desk. It's not entirely the truth. It's that she knows about her birthday that has him tense, it's the second thing she's brought up that he hasn't ever told her, that no one would tell her if they knew.

"Whoever's telling you these things, Elle, isn't giving you the whole context. Whoever's feeding you the scraps of your life is doing so with a knife held behind their back, Elle." When Ell ebreaks down, Bob withdraws, and that much is evidenced by the business-like tone he adopts with his little girl. This is so much the way she used to be that it's haunting.

"You— weren't ever supposed to find out these things, because I thought… I thought they'd make you happier," and that much Bob admits with a hint of emotion cracking it way trhough his personal mask. "You were supposed to be safe and protected. People like us… we don't get to lead normal lives, we don't…" Bob exhales a sharp sigh and looks back to Elle. "The tests weren't my idea."

Not that it absolves Bob of guilt.

It takes a lot of work to calm herself down enough to speak again, but progress is made slowly but surely. Elle slowly raises from her curled position, breathing in short gasps, wiping at her face with her hand again. A tissue is taken from the ever-present box on Bob's desk after a moment, used to clean herself up as well as she can. Her makeup is a mess and has nearly been cried off, and she sniffles every once in a while.

Then, she shakes her head slowly, looking down at the ground. "That doesn't change the fact that it happened, Daddy. It doesn't change the fact that you let it happen to me." She shakes her head slowly, wiping at her eyes with the tissue. Tears still flow, but she's calmed herself from the hysteria she was in moments ago, and her voice is shaky. "They didn't make me happier, Daddy."

Then, she levels a suddenly fierce, though still unsteady look upon her father, her lower lip still quivering. "At least I'm getting something from this person. Scraps are better than nothing, Daddy, and I take what I can get right now. That's why I'm asking you, so maybe…just maybe…" She falters in her words, shaking her head and turning that fierce gaze to the ground.

There is a long moment of silence from Elle, her jaw working as she glares at the ground. "I wanted to give you a chance to tell me everything, Daddy, before I find things out for myself. Before it gets worse than it already is…before resentment turns into hatred."

"Scraps are for dogs that behave," Bob bitterly admits as he walks back around his desk, coming to stand behind his chair, brows furrowed. and eyes avoidant. "Elle, I raised you to be smarter than this." There's a tension in Bob's throat as his voice becomes sharper, like a superior talking to a subordinate, not a father to a daughter. "Whoever it is that knows what they know is only telling you this to use you, to turn you against the Company. You may not like what we've done, we— we've made mistakes, but the world would be a terrifying place if we hadn't been there."

Defensive, Bob steps around the chair and looks down to the desk's cluttered surface. "You remember that birthday you spent in a glass room?" Looking up to his daughter, Bob's eyes convey the restraint of emotion that he's trying to keep contained. "It wasn't your birthday, it was… You'd just had a severe episode, you'd broken down and run away. I know you remember that much. You ran away and we had to have Bennet bring you back in."

Swallowing noisily, Bob looks back down to the desk, reaching out to take that opened envelope and letter in his hand. "We wanted to do something nice for you, Bennet suggested getting a cake and— Angela came back with a birthday cake. She told me to make it count. The— birthday. You were so drugged you didn't even know that we were changing things around…"

Sliding his tongue over his lips, Bob looks down to the desk again and curls his fingers tighter around the letter, then looks up to Elle again. "We had to test you Elle. We had no choice. You— I wanted to keep you out of the Company, but when you manifested…" Closing his eyes, Bob draws in a slow, calming breath and then asks.

"Do you really want the truth, Elle?" It sounds more like a threat than an offer.

Elle focuses that red-stained gaze on Bob, sniffing a few times and rubbing at her nose. "Why do you think I'm asking you, Daddy? It's because I want to hear what you have to say, not some objective file, or someone who didn't have anything to do with it. If you don't want me learning about this stuff from someone else, then you have to tell me everything." She narrows her eyes, her posture stiffening as she stares her father down.

Then, her brow furrows as he explains her birthday. For but a moment, she seems to crumple, turning those blue eyes surrounded by red toward the ground, lifting the tissue heasitantly for a moment. Then, she steels herself, shaking her head slowly. She looks…disappointed. The intention is appreciated…but knowing that a rare happy moment in a sea of overwhelmingly despairing memories was fake…well, it depreciates the value.

"Yes, Daddy. I really want the truth. This is important to me. I need to know so I can get past this. So I can try to make myself better. So I can…" She halts herself, shaking her head as if she refuses to say what is truly on her mind.

So I can live a life without you in it.

"Can you remember the last time you saw your grandmother?" Bob's question is rhetorical, lobber over the back of his chair as he circles around it again, coming to stand at the side of his desk with that letter in his hand. "You were six Elle, you were six years old and you burned down her house. You remember when I asked you about how the fire started… but have you ever wondered what happened to Nana?"

There's a measurable coldness in Bob's tone of voice when he looks down to the floor, then follows a crack in the concrete towards the wall; anywhere but looking her in the eyes. "Elle, she died in that fire you started." Bob's stare comes back to Elle, brows knitted together and jaw set. "What was I supposed to do with a six year old who watched her own grandmother die in a fire she started. I had Charles go in and clean things up…" in her head, he means. "When I was asking you what you remembered about the fire, it wasn't because I didn't know you'd started it… it was because I was seeing if it worked."

Guilt weighs Bob down, but right now he's doing what she asked. "There are some thingt hat are kept secret for a reason, Elle. What was I supposed to do? Would it have been more merciful to let a child remember something that terrible? What would you have done if it was your daughter?"

A small, strangled sound escapes Elle's throat as the color drains from her face, the girl staring up at her father with wide eyes. Her mouth opens and closes a few times, but it seems she can't make any words come out, let alone a sound. Then, her eyes cast back down to the ground, absorbing that information. She shrinks into herself again, staring at the invisible patterns in the floor.

Thoughts race their way through her mind, barraging her. She killed her own grandmother. When she was six. She lifts her hands, staring at them with glistening eyes. Maybe she really is a monster after all, and she deserved everything that happened to her.

It seems like almost an eternity that she sits there, silent, staring at her hands like they are the most hideous things she's ever seen. But finally, she speaks in a quiet, hurt tone. "Thank you…for removing that memory and sparing me that much, at least." There is a long pause. "Is— is that why you did all of that horrible stuff to me, Daddy? Is that why you electrocuted me, ran the tests on me, and made my life into what you wanted it to be? Is that why you never, ever showed me any love?"

She sniffs, doing her best to keep back the tears that threaten at the edge of her voice. The tissue is raised, dabbing at fresh tears that still flow. "Why did you treat me like you did, Daddy? I know you thought you were doing what was best for me…but didn't it ever cross your mind that what you were doing was wrong? What you did to me, your own flesh and blood…didn't you ever once stop and think how horrible you treated me?"

"Arthur needed to know what you were capable of… if you could ever learn to control your ability." The more emotion Elle shows, the less Bob manages to let slip through. She ebbs, he flows, she waxes, he wanes. It's been like this since she was born. "It was for your own good, Elle, because if we didn't establish what you were physically capable of, if we didn't know your limits and your capabilities, you would have spent the entirely of your life in a cell in Level-5 with the other people too dangerous to be in society."

Tensing up, Bob's brows furrow. "Zimmerman thought you couldn't control it, he thought you were too— emotional. He thought you would break and hurt someone. I insisted to keep on with the testing, because I would not let my little girl live her whole life in a cage. I wasn't going to raise you like they were raising Odessa."

The little blonde stares at Bob as he speaks, a frown upon her face. As he explains that it was for her own good…it's suddenly like a switch has been hit, and Elle's expression turns cold, stony. The mask is put back up, and despite the red eyes and the still drying tears, it promises to hold strong, as she stares at her father with an almost expressionless face.

When she speaks again, her tone is cold, almost dangerous. "That doesn't explain the way you treated me, Daddy," she turns her eyes toward that letter. "That doesn't explain why, my entire life, I've been convinced that you hated me, even though I really hoped that you did love me. The cold shoulders you gave me…always pushing me to try harder, expecting nothing less than perfection, even if I did a good job…all of the manipulation you used on me. The way you played Odessa and I against each other."

That stoney blue gaze returns to her father's face, her hands clenching in her lap. "How do you explain all of that, Daddy?" She pauses again, closing her eyes. "How do you explain the fact that one of the very few happy memories from my childhood is fake?"

Attention drifts away, Bob lays the letter down on his desk and slides it beneath the paperwork that had been covering it only partially before. "I can't," is a dismissive, easy answer. "I don't know what more you want from me, Elle. I… don't even know what more I could give you even if you asked. Your file isn't going to explain any of that to you, if I can't. I didn't hate you, Elle, but I was— and I still am— afraid of you."

He's too sullen now to care about saying things that could hurt, things that are ugly, like the truth often is. "I never wanted to be a father, I didn't want you…" his glasses catch the pale glow of the fluorescent lights overhead, gleaming softly. "Not until I held you in my arms for the first time, then I couldn't imagine my world without you. But I never have been good father material, I'm an administrator, and I treated you like a subordinate, not a daughter, because it's all I know how to do. Your— your mother was supposed to help us."

Turning away from Elle, Bob walks back over to his chair and lays one hand down on the back. "Why don't you ask your new friends, if they know everything about our past, Elle. Or do you still have some doubt about their sincerity? Because if you think for one minute that anyone outside of the Company has your best interests in mind, than I didn't push you hard enough."

Elle is silent for a long moment, watching her father. Instincts pull at her to struggle to make it right, to fix this…but that's not her any more. Instead, Bob's words are met with the scrape of the chair along the floor as she moves to her feet. Then, the click of her heels travel to the door, where she pauses, her hand on the door knob.

"Don't worry, Daddy…if there's one thing you've taught me, it's never to trust anyone. I know that trust only leads to being used by people. Just like you used me, for so long." Her voice is cold, factual as she says this things, staring at the crack where the door meets the doorframe. "I have what I came for, Daddy…thank you for being honest with me, for once. I do appreciate it, for what it's worth."

The doorknob can be heard turning, followed by the click of the door opening. Elle pauses again, staring out into the cold hallway. She really did get what she came for, didn't she? Bob has given her everything she needs to walk away from the Company. To walk away from him. Tonight's meeting with her father has only solidified her choice to join the Institute, and turn her back on all that she once was.

A brief glance is cast over her shoulder, one last sidelong look at her father, the man who was once the most important person in her world. At one point, this may have been the most difficult thing for the electric blonde to do, walking away from what once was her entire life. But not now. After this conversation…it's the easiest thing in the world.

"Goodbye, Daddy…" She hovers in the doorway for but a moment longer. Then, the sharp click of her heels can be heard on the cold floor of Fort Hero, the click of the door closing, and Elle Bishop is gone.

There's a sigh exhaled as Bob listens to Elle leave, swallowing noisily as he reaches down for that letter postmarked some time in 1989 he'd tucked away. Lifting it up, thick fingers brush along the folded pages, and when its unfolded, there's a tension in his jaw as he looks at the printed writing stenographed across the front.

Name: Bishop, Elle
Classification: Electrokinesis
Psychological Evaluation: Unfit for Duty
Recommendation: Immediate detention, indefinitely

That's as far as Bob needs to read before he puts the document down, looking at the return address of Seattle Washington's Primatech Paper home offices. Looking up to the door, Bob quietly offers to the room's damp, concrete walls, "Don't prove me wrong, pumpkin…"

He'd gone through such lengths to make her an agent, make her free.

Even if it cost him a daughter.

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