Live Free or Die Never


bryan_icon.gif f_elle_icon.gif

Scene Title Live Free or Die Never
Synopsis Two ex-Company employees share a quiet word.
Date October 15, 2012

A federal prison somewhere in the U.S.

It's ironic that Elle Bishop's final home should be a facility that so acutely resembles Level 5. Once upon a time, she had lorded over her own "realm" of sorry, tormented prisoners - and now she is one herself. And will be until the end of her life. A lightless cell is where she spends 23 hours of the day, every day, in solitary confinement, cut off from the rest of the building by a hefty steel door, grate, and layers of walled electrical insulation. Not to mentioned concealed sprinklers and lots of motion detectors and hidden cameras.

The woman herself has seen better days, a far cry from her days as an agent outside these walls. Now it's a lifestyle that seems laughably far away. Her hair is matted, her face sunken and gaunt; there remains a perpetual defiance in her expression no matter the length of time that she is kept here. As the door to her cramped cell grinds open, shedding a rectangle of light onto the black floor, her eyes flicker dully upwards to see what the guard might want this time.

A visitor? Impossible. Nobody comes to see her here. Far more likely, it's time for the daily run of exercise out in the prison yard. Yes. Must be it.

That single hour in the yard isn't something to be taken advantage of, though. It's really the highlight of every day, or has been ever since the meals became predictable.

The prison is separated into male and female units, but in order to maximize security and remain efficient, schedule-wise, both "wards" exercise at the same time. There's a considerable amount of carefully watched cross-communication through the electrified fence that separates the genders, like more dangerous version of a sheet in an Orthodox synagogue.

The only visitor that Elle sees on any given day stands patiently at that fence, his hands on his pockets and his shaved head only slightly bowed. Among all those inmates who skirt their prison uniform as much as possible, Bryan wears his with something close to pride. It's immaculate, and the only thing that suggests any sort of casual air is the single button at the collar undone.

The pride that Bryan shows is something that Elle is too sullen, outwardly, to uphold herself. Not to say she doesn't understand it. Here in this otherwise empty and horrible existence, it's an emotion worth clinging to.

While the other inmates are still milling around to be occasionally restructured by the prison guards standing among them, the blonde heads directly for that fence, her open hands held loosely by the sides of her orange jumpsuit. It ill-fits her small frame, and the legs are somewhat ridiculously large. "Another day in paradise," is her breathed greeting as she approaches, eyes meeting the man's over the divider.

Elle is met with a slight smirk, though there is a notable difference in it. It doesn't hold the same carefree sort of tenor, that effortlessness to be amused that Bryan so often carried. Instead, it is strained, wry, and bitter.

"At least it is the same as any other day," he remarks with a slight shrug, that smirk fading in lieu of a pursing of his lips. "There is some comfort in routine, even if it is mind-numbing to some degree." Understatement, anyone?

"Routine? I miss the old routine." It isn't that Elle's voice cracks, but it does take on a noticeably more sour note. One of the forearms by her sides lifts, fingers quirking to emphasize the emptiness between them where thin, glowing blue lines should be materializing. Instead, there is nothing. Air.

Old habits, old wants, die hard.

"Bryan, we'll be here for the rest of our stupid lives." More like Bryan's this time, a caustically bitter edge inserts itself in her tone. Some comfort.

"I'd offer to end it for you sooner," Bryan says in a whisper, his own voice suddenly like that of a vet speaking with a child owner of some ailing animal. But there is helpless shrug as he shakes his head and lifts his lip, exposing the now normal canines, neatly lined up with his other teeth. All at the taxpayer's expense and much pain and discomfort to the once-assassin.

"This must be what castrated dogs feel like," he mumbles, as unbecoming and un-Bryan as it is. But maybe that's the point of prison - to break someone and change them to the point where they aren't themselves anymore, but institutionalized, neutered drones.

The look that Elle gives Bryan is painful, less full of feisty disdain than it normally would be at such an offer. Her forehead creases upwards at the sight of Bryan's perfectly nice, straight teeth, and she actually does appear more prim for a second.

"Yeah, well. I can't even run into the electric fence to 'end it.'" Irony of ironies. In a jagged exhalation that takes barely any time, she continues: "And I'm not sure that I'd want to. Ever. But I don't want to stick around to see what we turn into, Bryan." If that's indeed a what prison does, to take and break a person past all formal recognizability— then it's Elle's goal to see that the process is retarded as long as possible.

But it's too late. The first step in permanent change has already occurred for both of them.

Bryan furrows his own eyebrows and wrinkles his forehead as he looks down through the links of fence at the woman who is in danger of losing that deeper spark deep within. "And how do you propose to do anything about it, Elle?" he asked in a much quieter and borderline harsh voice. There are some things about Bryan that haven't changed. The Company was just another institution wherein which one was told what to do and not question. Prison isn't really all that different, in some regards.

Oh, the danger isn't that deep yet. For Elle far more than Bryan, the Company was nothing more than a lifelong exercise in isolation. She of all people should be used to this.

But back then, there was at least some hope that she would someday be free once the testing period was over; that she would at least be able to exercise revenge on those who had originally confined her. Here, that isn't so possible. Here the 'testing period' will never end. "Find a way to stop them drugging me," she replies curtly. "You don't have your buckteeth anymore. But I— that was the first thing I tried." And a whole lot of good that did.

"Why do you think they got rid of them?" Bryan's question isn't really that, given its bland delivery. Sharp teeth are dangerous even if there isn't any poison trickling from their points. He shakes his head again, then glances up and down the fence line to watch those watching them, as well as the others who are mingling by the fence, for a moment.

When he looks to Elle again, there is a glimmer of something close to hope in his dark eyes - a desire to believe in her. "It's impossible, Elle."

"They've already got me in solitary," Elle replies with almost a hint of satisfied triumph— as though this was something to be proud of— pushing aside a lock of twisted hair from her cheek. That serves as a wistful, unlooked-for reminder: she misses it. Having long hair. "Tell me, what else can they do to me? That they haven't already?"

And she eyes Bryan right back, for that moment just as self-confident and coolly bold as she had always been, though there is a quieter note to it now. "It's impossible now, maybe. But I'll wait. Oh, I can wait. They can't keep me like this forever."

In timely fashion, the shrill ~blast~ of a whistle informs them both that their last, leisurely minute of stolen conversation is over. Males strictly with males, ladies with ladies. As Elle moves away from the fence to join her fellow female inmates, the catlike gleam in her otherwise-tired eyes is the last thing to fade from sight in the darkness.

Forever, after all, is a long time.

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