It's Only Going to Get Worse


elle_icon.gif harper_icon.gif

Scene Title It's Only Going to Get Worse
Synopsis Harper comes home to an Elle, and they have a nice long chat.
Date September 10, 2010

The Octagon

Harper's Apartment

Life has been rather awful lately. Warren Ray has gone from a nuisance to someone who she is genuinely uncomfortable around. Add that to the recent antics of one Odessa, who has begun making life a little bit uncomfortable as well, and Elle Bishop has been feeling quite suffocated. It's gotten to the point where she isn't comfortable in either place that should be safe haven.

There's really only one safe haven she has left, even if it encroaches on the comfort level of another.

Earlier in the day around the lunch hour, Desmond Harper's cell phone jingled with a text message from one Elle Bishop.

Not comfortable at home or at Warren's. I'll be at your house when you get home. Only place I can get some quiet and I need to talk to you.

And so she is. Elle, wearing a pair of somewhat short shorts and a soft blue tank top, is seated on Harper's white leather couch, sitting Indian style. The television is currently on, though she isn't quite watching it. She's staring at a nondescript section of the floor, apparently deep in thought, with a small frown on her face. Her hands are currently working at winding her now-brunette hair into a loose bun as she waits for Harper's return.

The jingle of keys in the door and the soft click of the locks turning signals the return of Harper to his home. His blue silk necktie is already loosened and a button on his collar undone, hair windblown and for all his worth he looks like he's been running most of the way here. "I apologize if I'm a little short with you today," Harper somewhat exasperatedly offers to Elle with a wave of one hand in the air that then sweeps back to brush his hair from his face. "It's been a long day."

Pushing the door shut with one foot, Harper throws his keys down to land with a noisy clatter on the small table near the door atop a magazine, then unshoulders his suit jacket and folds it over one arm. Out the windows of the apartment the muted gray skies of a cloudy New York evening seem dismal and featureless. "Alright," Harper exhales the word with a sigh, tossing his coat onto the open space on the sofa before moving to stand in front of Elle, his head tilted down and one brow raised.

"What's going on that's got you so upset?" Arms crossing over his chest, one of Harper's hands adjusts the elasticy red fabric of one suspender, watching Elle expectantly.

As she hears the key in the door, Elle almost instantly perks up, with that rather obvious look of fondness that always crosses her face when Harper enters a room. The bun is rather quickly finished with a small pat of her fingers. She then lifts her legs so her knees are pressed to her chest, hugging them as she watches him enter with her head tilted to one side.

She waits until he asks what's going on before speaking, taking a deep breath and resting the side of her head on one knee. "Lots of things." A frown tugs the corners of her cheek down, and she lets out a soft sigh. "Let's start off with that crazy fucker you have me keeping on a leash, also known as Warren Ray. I'm doing my job, he worships the ground I walk on, blah blah blah…" She pauses, tearing her blue-eyed gaze away from Desmond's, suddenly looking a little angry, almost.

"He decides he wants to do a trust exercise. Does his little passive threat of what could turn into a meltdown if I refuse." She suddenly hugs her legs, frowning at that horribly offensive plank in the wood floor. "He strapped me to a Tesla coil. I thought that was the trust exercise, 'cause I couldn't use my electricity. But no, that wasn't even the half of it."

She turns a somewhat dark look up to Harper, though it's clear her ire is not directed at him. "He pulled out a scalpel and ran the blade over my skin. While he didn't cut me…fuck that."

Exhaling a sigh, Harper brings up a hand and presses his palm to his forehead, then sweeps his hand down his face. "You let Warren Ray tie you to a Tesla Coil? What part of that being a bad idea did you miss? The part where he restrains you or the part where he is a homocidal maniac with disassociative identity disorder?" There's that sharp attitude Harper had warned Elle about. "Elle I told you to keep an eye on him, not let him talk you into being his plaything."

Moving his hand to rub at the back of his neck, Harper turns around and wrenches his eyes shut, exhaling a sharp sigh again as he paces towards the television. "Elle, I want to be sympathetic about this, but you put yourself into a dangerous situation with an extremely dangerous man. You shouldn't be getting yourself that close to him."

Turning back around, Harper rests one hand on his hip and lets the other continue to rub at the base of his neck to fight off that tension headache that has been drilling at his brain most of the day. "What exactly did you expect would come of this, Elle?"

The frown on Elle's face only grows, and she turns her gaze back down to glare furiously at that offensive plank. She's silent for a very long while, reaching down to mute the television, filling Harper's apartment with silence. "It's not exactly easy to walk that line, Harper. He makes little threats of bad things." She shakes her head.

"I thought the Tesla Coil was the trust exercise. He didn't pull out the scalpel until after…" She shakes her head, burying her face in her legs and going quiet for another long, drawn out while.

"I'm not good at these things. The last time I did something like this, it was Gabriel Gray, as I'm sure you already know. I did exactly what they said, and when I betrayed him just as the Company asked…" She shakes her head, keeping her eyes closed. "I liked Gabriel back then…a lot." She frowns quietly.

"And for a while, I almost did like Warren." She sighs softly, lifting a hand to rub over her face. "And he was doing good, and…" She keeps her hand over her eyes, letting out another soft sigh. "You're right. It's my own damn fault. I let myself be lured into a false sense of security."

"Warren Ray has nothing on Sylar." Harper refuses to even acknowledge the man he was before. "Warren is a valuable asset, but he's also a dangerous one. You can't just go around pretending like he's a normal person, Elle, you have to take into consideration that he's little more than a rabid animal who happens to be the only dog we have. We need him to work on some projects and we need him to stay contented. If he worships the ground you walk on like you say, than you should be able to put a little more authority into things."

Harper quietly presses his hand against his cheek, then looks towards the gray skies out the window. "Look, Elle, I know this assignment isn't easy for you. But Warren has gravitated towards you, and it helps to be able to keep him in line the way you do. You just can't… expect him to react like an ordinary person. Don't let him get you into that sort of sitution again, am I understood?"

Frowning, Elle nods along with Harper's words, turning her eyes up to him as she listens. When he finishes, she sighs softly, closing her eyes as her head bobs up and down in a slow nod. "I wasn't planning on it." She lifts a hand, pinching at the bridge of her nose with a rather dismayed expression on her face. "I'll keep him on a leash for you." She sounds almost resigned.

"At least hurry up and get him to do whatever you need him to do. I can't do this much longer, Desmond. I'm not comfortable with him. In fact, he terrifies me. The sooner you give him those plans, the sooner he won't be in my hair so much. When he works, he ignores me." Elle hugs her knees.

"While I'm here, can you get Odessa an apartment of her own? I love her to death, but she's hitting on me."

One dark brow rises slowly at that notion and Harper behaves and doesn't quite make any further commentary that's rattling around in the back of his mind. "Oh— kay," he diplomatically manages to say, lifting up one hand to smooth across his forehead as he takes a step to the side, then moves around the sofa and starts to walk into the. "I'll— I can get her into an apartment tonight, I'll be sure to have someone from management draft up a notice of it and get her a key cut." There's a clink in the kitchen, a glass being taken out, then a sloshing noise of a bottle moving.

Behind Elle, Harper is pouring a bottle of Scotch into a highball glass, no ice, just Scotch. "Did you tell Odessa she was giving you the jeepers creepers, or did you just play along like you did with Warren? You know— for someone as opinionated and electric as you are, Elle, you invite yourself to be another person's doormat a little too much. This isn't the Company and you aren't on probation or whatever it was they called your service…"

Lifting the glass up, Harper makes a sarcastic cheers motion and knocks it back.

The little brunette turns to peer over the couch at Harper, resting an arm over the back as a somewhat sarcastic smirk forms on her face. "No, I didn't play along with Odessa. I called her on it, and she acted flustered and denied it." She eyes the scotch. "Could I please get one of those?" Her eyes flit back up to Harper's face, brows raising high. "Since then, she's kinda not stopped, but tried not to make it obvious." She tilts her head toward Harper.

"I'm not angry about it by any stretch, and I'm still fine with her…but if she's going to be making passes at me, I'd rather not be living in the same apartment as her." She runs her fingers over the leather of the couch thoughtfully. "That, and I miss having a place to myself. It was nice, just having a place that was all mine."

The little woman sighs softly, still watching Harper with a far too fond expression on her face. "I don't want to be a doormat, but…well, Daddy was a manipulative bastard who made sure that he had me trained. It's— it's difficult, even though he and I were at arm's length for so long before my relationship with my dad crumbled." She sighs softly. "I really am trying to break those old habits."

Harper's quiet for a while, even though he's finished the drink downed in one fel shot. The breathy sigh he exhales through his nostrils does little to help assuage that exterior of stress and fatigue wearing thin on him. "Odessa will be on her own, you don't need to worry about that much," and Harper delicately steps around any mention of Robert Bishop or his relationship with the brunette sitting on his sofa. "Also, I'm not going to give you something to drink, for my own safety. I think you and I both know the risks implied with inebriation and your electrokinesis. I'd like to not test just how many glasses of Scotch you need before the entire northeastern seaboard goes dark forever."

Screwing the cap back on the bottle of Scotch, Harper leaves it on the counter and starts to circle back around towards the sofa. "Speaking of feeling suffocated," Harper notes with a pinch of his brows. "I know I told you that you can come to me whenever you need something, Elle, but I'm not sure it's best for you to be skulking around in my apartment without me here."

There's a smile, admittedly a little thin, offered to those words. "My door's always open, but I'd prefer to be home before you show up, if that's understandable enough?" Though, as Harper eases down to sit on the arm of the couch, resting his hands in his lap he adds, "You can stay here tonight, until Odessa gets into her own place. After that, I'd prefer it if you didn't invite yourself over without me being here."

"I don't get zappy when I drink." She just loses what little inhibitions she has when she drinks, though. Probably for the best. That might be a bit awkward at the next meeting. A somewhat pouty expression appears on Elle's face as she watches him move around to the sofa, her brows raised. "I'm not that out of control, you know." She pokes her lower lip out for a moment.

Then, Elle nods slowly, turning her blue eyes down to the cushion of the couch. "I'm really sorry for barging in, Desmond. I just— I couldn't handle either of them, and I just needed some place quiet. I just…sat here, the entire time, didn't skulk around. Promise." Not this time, at least. She still has her scrunchie that smells like him under her pillow. "It won't happen again."

She raises her eyes to his face, a sorrowful expression growing upon her features. "Thank you for letting me stay here…thank you, for everything you've done for me."

"Don't thank me," Harper says with a slow shake of his head, "I'm not doing this outside of a professional level. We're co-workers and I treat my co-workers well, but I'm not doing this out of the kindness of my heart, Elle. I don't think we're going to be friends, I don't really relate to you— how could I? You and I come from totally different backgrounds, lives, years. We're business associates, this— this isn't something you thank me for."

It's an awkward way that Harper delivers those words, maybe he does believe them, maybe he doesn't. There's not much conviction behind them. "I appreciate what you've done for the Institute and the sacrifices you've made, though, don't mistake pragmatism for unappreciation, you'll never have to wonder whether or not you're wanted from me… I just— I wanted to clarify wher we stand."

"But…you could always turn me out. You could always show me to the door and tell me to deal with it on my own. It wouldn't be unprofessional of you to do that, or even uncalled for." Elle tilts her head to one side, returning to sitting Indian-style, her brows raised high. "But you haven't done that yet. So…thank you. I'm thanking you whether you want the thanks or not, because I truly appreciate the hospitality you've shown me." This is offered with a small smile.

She notices the lack of conviction. That little part of her that still hopes jumps on that lack of conviction, though the rest of her is rather disappointed. The disappointment does show on her face, despite the slight smile she wears. Her lip pokes out a little too far, the smile doesn't quite touch her eyes, and her eyebrows are a little too scrunched up in the center for that smile to be a genuine one.

"What is your background, anyhow? I don't know anything about you." She watches him quietly, brows raised. "If friendship is out of the question, I wouldn't mind knowing why."

"The last friend I had," Harper explains in a somber tone of voice, "I had to put a bullet in the head of. I don't make friends anymore." Sliding off of the arm of the sofa, Harper walks away from where he'd been sitting, arms crossed over his chest and attention focused out to the buildings in that gray skyline. He's silent, staring into his own muted reflection in the glass before looking over his shoulder to Elle.

"My wallet's in my jacket, call and order yourself something for dinner. I need to go lay down for a while, my head's killing me." As if dismissing the conversation were that easy, Harper turns towards the doorway into the hall where the bedroom and bathroom connect to the apartment. "Wake me up when you're ready to go to bed and I'll switch out to the couch," he adds with a wave of one hand over his shoulder.

"Well, maybe you should tell me if I do anything to warrent being shot in the head, so I won't do it." She doesn't smile, though. In fact, as Harper turns to look over his shoulder at her, she looks more concerned than anything else. Perhaps even sad.

Suddenly, as he moves to the door to his bedroom, Elle hops off of the couch, her bare feet tapping against the floor as she suddenly zips over to Harper, wrapping her arms around his waist from behind and to the side and offering him a small hug. "I'm sorry you had to do such an awful thing…" This is whispered up to Harper; then, she pulls away, peering up at him quietly with a blush on her cheeks.

Her inner monologue is going something like this right now: Ohmigod, ohmigod, I just hugged Harper, holy shit, I totally just did that!

Her cheeks bright red, Elle takes a few steps back, eventually raising her hand in a sheepish wave, for lack of anything better to do. "I hope your head feels better…"

Tense, awkward, largely unexpected. Flashbacks to prior relationships flit through Harper's mind that fit all of those categories, followed by an abrupt frown and the turning of blue eyes away from Elle. "When… people get to the point that they're making mistakes they need to get shot over, it's usually too late to tell them otherwise…" There's a tic of his head to the side as Harper takes a step away from Elle, his hands awkwardly raised in the air. "Keep that in mind, I guess."

As the agent turns towards the hallway, he's rolling his shoulders and reaching up to loosen his tie more, threading it out of the knot its in to take off entirely. "I hope my head feels better too…" he half-heartedly echoes on retreat towards his bedroom.

"But somehow I have a feeling it's only going to get worse…"

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