Human After All


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Scene Title Human After All
Synopsis Trask asks Elle what's up with the way she's been acting lately. Surprise: she tells him, though he has to drag it out of her. He succeeds in dragging something else out of that shriveled, black heart of hers too.
Date May 6, 2019

Abby's place

Beyond the rays of darkness slanting through all the windows in the place that aren't blinded, Elle has no idea what time it is. No idea how long it's been since the sun gave up its ghost to a gray, creeping night. Neither does she care. Since her meeting with Arthur Petrelli a few days ago, she has lately been spending more and more time outside Abby's apartment — by herself. And that means without her watchdog, Trask. She's needed time to think, or so she's been either saying or assuming that people will implicitly understand, and so far those around her have been pretty nonintrusive in letting her do it.

That, and if she hung around too much, she knows perfectly well that the atmosphere might easily become so charged she'd lose control of it— and unintentionally do something awful.

As it happens, however, the agent is currently back in her room, unaware of the meeting at Dorchester clandestinely happening without her. Their room, it could be called, ever since she had started sleeping with Trask, though even that is iffy; last night and the night before, she had slept on the couch. The door is completely closed, though through it can be heard what sounds like a television program playing on the room's old VCR. The volume has been turned down low, and one needs to strain before hearing the monotone, indistinct voice occasionally filtering through the woodwork.

Norton has sensed something changed in her, and has given her her space, he hasn't tried to force his presence on her, prefering to let her know he respects she needs time or something. He may be confused about what is going on, but he isn't about to pry. When she gets the distant look he tends to touch her shoulder,letting her know he's there if she needs him, and then backing off, where she can reach out if she decides to. The last couple of nights when she slept on the couch he has made sure to bring out pillows and blankets, and in at least one case she woke up perfectly tucked in when she fell asleep without a blanket at all, as it is when he realizes she is in, thier, room alone with the door shut he taps softly, and says, "I'm home" before heading back to the couch and getting comfortable for the night.

When Trask's voice is heard, all sound coming from underneath the door also ceases. Utterly. There is the clicking of the TV being turned off, hastily by the sound of it, and then vague shuffling around. When the door finally opens some minutes later, it's so the slim form of Elle can let herself into the shadows of the hallway, as silently as a wraith. She's empty-handed.

Unfortunately she needs to pass the couch on her way to the kitchen, so outright ignoring won't quite work. She purses her lips when she sees Norton, folding her arms so she can lounge with one side of her against the wall. It's a conservative position, and she's still staying some distance from him. "…So, you are. Where've you been?" Her tone is neutral, and slightly suggestive of the fact that she doesn't actually care. But she's talking to him, which is an improvement in itself, even if it's to ask a question as bland as this.

Norton says, "Over at Cat's talking things out" He sighs softly, "Are you ok? Is there anything I can do?" He looks over the couch at her, he hasn't asked the question yet, but he figured he might as well try. "Is there something I have done?""

From where she is, Elle surveys Norton offhandedly but closely, as a cat would. "Don't flatter yourself," is her dismissive and rather snide response, though it might contain some relief for Trask. Whatever is wrong with the moody blonde, it's not him. "What things were you talking about over there?" Over there with your Phoenix friends is the implied attachment to that sentence, though she doesn't say it aloud.

Norton says, "Ways to get home mostly." He stretches and little and shrugs at the snide comment, leaning his head back on the arm of the couch. "There is some left over turkey tetrizini in the fridge if your hungry.""

To be honest Elle is starving; she hasn't had anything decent to eat since this morning. She lets that pass, however, and stays staring at Trask's supine figure. Her eyes narrow a little bit. "Whatever," she murmurs mostly to herself, shifting herself off the wall in order to turn back to the bedroom. It's clear that her mind, wherever it is, is still back where she had left it hanging before the negator's return.

Norton says, "Elle…." His voice is drawn out and a little frustrated. "I'm sorry…just…" He gets up and moves toward her, "I don't know what you want from me…and I don't know what I can do…I know something is bothering you…and I wish…I could just wave my magic wand and make it better.""

Trask's calling of her name does make her pause. She had only taken two steps, but she stops midstride, her back towards the much taller man. When she finally turns again towards him, there is a small, angry smile pulling her lips into a completely humorless line. "I'll be totally honest. A little of it is you. I don't appreciate how the others made you into this — this puppyguard. I already told you how I don't like feeling suppressed." Not to mention she hates it when she doesn't feel she's in absolute control, no matter how well she might be being treated. Force of habit.

But then she looks back at him, critically, and snorts softly. "But that really isn't it. Don't worry about it. You'd never understand." If he was the only thing wrong, she certainly has too much pride to put all her time into brooding over him.

Norton says, "Puppyguard? What exactly is a puppyguard?" He actually looks a little annoyed at the name, "I'm not trying to suppress you…or control you…if you thought that I would have thought I had proven that by now, but apparently, …. " He sighs and turns away, "Look I'm sorry….I will talk to Liz about moving over there till further notice to give you more space."

What's really wrong, as far as this relationship goes at any rate, is that with the weakening of the certainties that once irrevocably bound Elle to the Company every other certainty has been called into doubt as well. And that includes a serious reevaluation of why, on a personal level, she's recently been playing along with this game for so long. "Heh. I know you aren't. It's a good thing you aren't," she adds semi-reflectively. How many ways can you spell F-R-I-E-D?

"A puppyguard is what is sounds like. And if you want, I guess you could call it frustration that you aren't further along with your power." She shrugs. "But just if you want." If you want to believe a comfortable lie, that is.

Norton nods, "Sorry I'm not a better student, I'm sorry I am always around, I'm sorry I care…enough about you to … Look…I'm just sorry and that I guess makes me a pretty sorry person in general."

Way to pull the trump card. Probably not the one he's imagining, though. Elle initially doesn't say anything in response, her lip curling as Tamara's warning seeps unbidden into her mind. "Stop being sorry." This seems to be a demand, albeit a quieter one, and she exhales sardonically as she reaches out to flick a huge speck of lint off the front of Trask's shirt. The touch may come as unexpected, but then again, Elle has never exactly held personal space in high regard. Why start now just because they're fighting? "Seriously? Don't be. I… told you, it's not even that." There's a more brooding look in her eyes again.

Norton sighs softly and kisses that mouth, a soft tender kiss, not demanding or anything, then he looks her over, "Elle…there are hard choices coming, but remember I am here for you, if you want me to be. If you need someone to talk to, I won't judge you, no matter what. but if you need space…if you want room, I will give it to you. I do care about you, and always will, and I am apologize if that makes me some annoying puppy in your eyes, but it is who I am, and how I feel and I won't deny it."

Just before Norton's mouth meets hers, Elle gives a tiny snort but shuts her eyelids and accepts it anyway. With their return to the present yet to come, Trask has no idea how truthful he's being. Something about all the apologies does seem to do some job of tiding her over, because at any rate she adds a little smooch of her own not long after he's done. "You're so cute, Norton," she tells him with conviction as she gazes, approvingly, into his face— like he's a child. Or she is. There's a musingly entranced smile on her face, and in her eyes. "Thanks though."

Norton frowny faces, pouting a little, "I am not I am a trained killer, Terrorist. I have been in the Army, and the NYPD, I have saved the president of the united states from assisination by Sylar and destroyed an immortal blood sucking wraith bent on destruction of the universe, I am not cute" He stomps his foot for emphasis like a 3 year old.

Somehow, that action is a tiny bit more eyebrow-raising coming from a fully grown, six-foot-tall man than oh, say, Elle. She does draw back slightly, smirking and glancing over her shoulder to check that Isabelle or someone else isn't coming. Because that might be awkward.

As far as the tirade goes, she could respond (boasting contest harhar) that she's technically an assassin who's probably tortured and killed more people than he has fingers and toes, but that would be pointless. "Mmhm. Just look in a mirror, Norty." As briefly amused as her gaze is, it's also somewhat tired, and still more distant than is her norm.

And yes, she just called him Norty.

Norton says, "So…are you going to tell me what is really wrong? Or is it something you have to work out for your self, let fester and eventually release in a hail of bullets at the washington monument? Because if it's the later I would prefer you do it before we head home.""

"The Washington monument?" Elle squints a little at this. No, no bullets are forthcoming from her, though if Trask could only know it, a bolt of electricity in the middle of the night - into him - had of late been far more likely. All hints of rising playfulness mute themselves immediately after he asks her that question, and wry, wary grimness settles back into her stance. Back to square one, it'd seem. "Yeah. Well, it's kind of, um." Her expression seems more judging, somehow, as she appears to carefully and subtly size him up before answering. How, and what to say?

Norton crosses his hands behing his back, waiting, letting her take her time to size him up and decide if it's worth telling him, if he is worth trusting.

Finally, Elle apparently decides to relent. How much can telling hurt? Closing her eyes again, she lets out a short but impatient sigh, pressing her lips into a miniature smile that lasts all of about a quarter-second before sliding off her face and leaving it in the same expression as before. When they flicker open, there's a hard, mocking look in them.

"I found out my dad used me as his little labrat." It doesn't show on her face, quite, but the tide of bitterness and confusion she had just been battling before seeing Trask rises in a slow, solid wave inside her, triggered by the re-revelation.

Norton doesn't show pity, he does look a little confused though, "Lab rat?" He waits to see what she means, his hands on her shoulder, supportively, but not holding her against pulling away. "What do you mean?"

A hint of 'why the fuck am I telling you, again?' creeps into Elle's expression, and she looks nearly sorry she'd said it. A blacker look replaces her current one. "Yeah, that's what I said. When I said I grew up in the Company, I wasn't lying — but I guess I spent most of my kiddie years strapped down as an experiment." An experiment filled with pain. And at least four years of lost memory.

Urge to kill rising. Literally. She glowers in a maybe-murderous way, icily taking a step back so Trask's hand falls from her shoulder. "You happy?"

Norton lets her step back, outside of his range even if she wants, "Happy they did that to you? No. In fact I am rather unhappy about it, and am rather glad they aren't in reach right now. Happy you told me….yeah…because at least now I understand what's been eating you up. Look Elle…I am here for you, like I said. I am not going to pity you, because you don't need that, and besides we all have crap happen to us, we have to deal with the baggage our parents give us. I am not going to judge you, because that's not my place, noone has the right to judge you, noone knows what you have gone through, not completely, except maybe you. But I am going to be there, and support you, and care for you, whether you like it or not. " he shrugs, "Even if you don't want me there, I will still be there.

"Baggage, we? Rather unhappy?" That's gritted teeth Elle is speaking through now. "I don't think you get it. My dad took away my memories; tell me normal parents do that." As a bonus (or maybe not), Bob is the only family she has, or will ever have.

Turning her back decisively, she strides right out of Trask's range to the tiny little wooden table by the wall. Picking up the pen that's resting on the tablecloth, she proceeds to ZAP it into a black line of melted plastic between her clenched fingers, the ends crisply smoking. "You're not going to tell anyone we had this conversation." Her voice comes as a cold warning, clear as day. The last thing she needs is, as Norton said, people feeling unnecessarily sorry for her. She'd die.

Norton raises an eyebrow, "Or what your going to fry me?" He looks at her, "Threatening me isn't going to do anyone any good.' He takes a step forward, brining her into his supression range, and then a step back out of it, "Your either going to do it, or your not. If you are, then there isn't much i can do to stop you, because one way or another your going to find a chance to do it, if your not…then there is no point in bluffing about it. Look Elle you got a raw deal in life, a lot more raw then most anyone else I know, but do you really want me to feel sorry for you? To pity you for it? You deserve that, but it would mean I would stop respecting you, and I can't have that. I want, I need to respect you. If you want this conversation to stay between us, you ask me to do so, and you trust me to keep my word. But threats get you no where in my book." He gives her a long cold stare, still standing OUTSIDE the 10 foot reach, "So what is it going to be….do you want someone you can count on? Someone who accepts you for you, with all your flaws? Someone who cares enough for you, and considers you family? Or do you want to stay alone and deal with all this on your own?

Alone. Alone, stay alone — that exact phrase Tamara had used rackets around Elle's brain despite her prompt effort to beat it down with a spiked mental club. Trask had also dared to use the magic buzzword. Guess which.

Her back still to him, he'll see her shoulders stiffen. All of her small figure becomes more rigid, really, and when she turns around to face him, there's something he's never seen before on her face. Something nobody has ever genuinely seen except Bob, put there now by a combination of weakness due to the emotional turbulence she's already gone through combined with trying to deal with this unexpected situation that is Trask.

Her eyebrows are slanted, not downwards in fury, but— upwards. She lets her hand drop like a stone, the blue laser-light of electricity fading away into the air. Honest bewilderment is what she is left with, and it takes her a while to formulate an answer. She does a tiny little shake of her head, lips slightly parting though her gaze never wavers from him. "I—-"

But it's clear what her answer is, just by looking at her face.

Norton steps forward, reaching a hand out for hers he takes it and holds it, eyes on hers. "I am here for you, you can count on me never to turn you away. I care for you Elle, I really do you have a place in my heart." He puts her hand to his chest, "Even if the rest of the world if against you, I am here, I want you to remember that. " He sighs softly, "That doesn't mean I'm perfect…assuming you can accept imperfection sometimes?"

See what you've done to Elle? See, see, see? She has the temptation to tense her hand so it'll subtly jerk loose from Trask's grip that way, but she doesn't; outwardly she just smoothly if somewhat childishly accepts the hold, gingerly laying her palm on top in return. An imperceptible quirk of a smile forms, her eyebrows still stuck in that totally abnormal reverse position. It's probably the first genuine smile he's seen in her since he first met her back in Moab. That last phrase of his especially rings favorably with her, as her life thus far has been saturated with nothing but, guess what, accepting only absolute perfection. "Perfection is impossible," she murmurs, her glance briefly on the floor rather than on Trask's face, and some inner realization jolts inside of her at that.

Norton says, "None of us are perfect, none of us need to be, we are just human. We do what we can, and deal with the imperfections around us. If you were perfect, you wouldn't be Elle, and wouldn't be the person I have come to care so much for.""

If Elle was perfect, she wouldn't be the psychologically damaged lackey she is today, that also means. Ironically enough. But a movement from the top of the staircase, Abby or Deckard or Isabelle, is enough to make her wake from her reverie enough to nudge Trask into coming after her. Don't want a crowd watching this, natch, and re: dying should anyone else ever see her like this.

The direction of her half-pulling, half-meaningful dragging? That's right. Bedroom.

He ain't going back to that natty old couch tonight, and neither is she.

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