Living, Breathing Immovable Object


elle_icon.gif kayla_icon.gif

Scene Title Living, Breathing Immovable Object
Synopsis …describes Kayla to a 'T', particularly when it comes to stubbornly refusing offers of help. But sometimes there happen things suspiciously like cracks in a facade…
Date November 21, 2010

World Center Mall

Situated on the north end of Battery Park City, the World Center Mall is the largest shopping mall remaining in New York City. With the destruction of midtown Manhattan and the general financial decline following the bomb in 2006, many former businesses that eclipsed this large shopping center have gone out of business. The World Center Mall is a three story establishment featuring 150 stores as well as dozens of fast-foot restaurants and a 20-screen cinema located on the mall's third floor.

Given its status as one of the last remaining shopping malls of its type on Manhattan, the World Center Mall remains a busy and active shopping center, crowded with people during operating hours and severely lacking in parking accommodations that have not been expanded since the time of the bomb.

Being injured bites. Sure, in the two weeks since her injuries, Elle Bishop has healed and recovered, slowly but surely. But it still sucks. The girl still has her arm in the black cast, though thankfully she only has a month left of that; her stab wounds have healed nicely, too, thanks to Abby's help with changing her bandages and keeping her wounds clean. Her knee still bothers her, though, slowly but surely healing as it is. The doctors say she won't need surgery to recover, but that she may have problems that will linger for far longer than it will take her to heal. That was a relief, albeit a small one.

Elle's been taking to sulking in the mall food court, lately, and today is no exception. Clad in casual clothing that minimizes discomfort, Elle is seated at a table with her crutches leaned against it, sipping at a smoothie and frowning at a Sudoku book.

The mall is more a reminder of everything Kayla can't do than anything else. However, even she has to make purchases sometimes, and prior experience taught Kayla that there are a few good stores out here — where 'good' means 'not disgustingly overpriced'. After all, malls must cater to teenagers and college students, those of limited wallet depth, as well as the fashion-conscious, businesspeople, and anyone with money to spare. It's only more weight in her favor that a majority of New York's present population is more budget-conscious than trendy.

Dressed in blue jeans and a gray sweater — more casual attire than Kayla ever wore while she was with the Company, it's also cheaper — the young woman pauses at the edge of the food court, glancing at the neon-bright stall names. The gray gloves which cling surprisingly tightly to the railing are familiar by type if not exact item — she's still keeping that thin barrier between her power and the rest of the world.

And pretending as hard as she can that she doesn't feel anything right now.

The petite blonde scowls down at the Sudoku page as she scrawls another messy number on the page with her left hand. It would be so nice to be able to write like a normal person instead of a toddler again. With a sigh, she puts the pen down on the book and reaches for her smoothie, taking a long slurp of it as she raises her eyes toward the rest of the food court, blue orbs trailing over each inhabitant.

Then, there's that strikingly familiar figure nearby at the stalls. Elle blinks a few times, squinting. Is that— that's that chick who worked at Fort Hero! Her brows raise, and she glances around a few times. Then, she's reaching for her crutches, watching the other woman thoughtfully.

Finally, she decides to try a name. "Kayla?"

She could try to pretend not to hear, to delude herself that someone else is meant, but Kayla can't hide the way her back stiffens — and she recognizes the voice. How could she not? In her year with the Company, Kayla heard it often; and she had to know the people. To handle the reports and the files. Turning her head just enough to glower darkly sidelong at Elle Bishop, the healer pries her fingers loose from the railing one by one. It's not her injury — but it's hard to convince her subconscious of that: her subconscious does not want to walk. "Leave me alone, Bishop," she warns.

The gruff warning prompts Elle to blink a few times. She slowly raises to her feet, wincing as a spike of pain sparks past the codeine in her system from her knee as she puts a little too much weight on it. She quickly puts her crutches under her arms, slowly making her way toward Kayla. Sure, the girl just asked to be left alone, but Elle is curious. And just a little concerned.

"I'll leave you alone soon, just let me try to show concern for once in my life. Are you okay? You didn't get hurt back when all of that stuff happened, did you?" She moves closer to Kayla, her crutches clicking on the ground. "What have you been doing since then?" A frown.

Kayla hisses through clenched teeth as pain jolts through Elle's knee, recoiling away as the blonde comes nearer. Desperation overrides physical impressions, the healer shuffling back but continuing to lean heavily on the rail as she does so. Elle's on codeine; Kayla is not. "Goddamnit, Bishop, stop." She takes a moment to breathe, gray eyes narrowing when they lift to the former agent. "You would be that fucking self-absorbed," the woman grouches, temper showing its edge. "For the record, I am just fine, I don't want your concern, and it's not your business." The words are not quiet, although she isn't wound up enough yet to shout; they're pitched just a little above reasonable level.

Elle comes to a halt as Kayla asks her to, frowning. "Self absorbed?" She blinks a few times, frowning at Kayla. "Look— I don't know what you've gone through since all that shit went down, but… I'm not your enemy." She frowns as she scans through mental files. She knows that Kayla can heal. That's more than enough for her to not back off from the woman just yet, remaining where she is. She doesn't expect Kayla to heal her, but… at the very least, Endgame could use her.

"Look, I've got a job that helps people now, and— if you need it, we can help you. Even if it's just a job that you're looking for." She frowns. "And if anything, we can give you protection from the ones who took our jobs from us…" She fidgets with her cast, leaning heavily on her crutches for support. "I know that Richard Cardinal and Elisabeth Harrison would be happy to help you out."

With Elle standing still, Kayla seems to relax — a tiny bit. Or maybe she's just standing straighter to better bark at the blonde again. "Harrison is smart enough to fucking think twice about that. Go back and compare notes." Her gaze sweeps the food court and the walkway to either side, as if looking for something — or someone. By the fact that Kayla then sweeps back the other way, clearly she isn't finding it. "You don't want to be seen with me," she finishes, eyes leveling on Elle.

Elle remains rooted in her spot, frowning at the other woman. "Harrison is a good person, and I know you are too. I— I'm trying, Kayla. I know I'm not the best person in the world, but…I want to try." She suddenly offers a sad frown in the woman's direction. "And it doesn't matter. You didn't deny that you need to be hidden, and I'm sure that goes double with recent events. It's crazy out there, Kayla. Not to mention, you could help people. And I'm sure Liz Harrison will agree with me that we can use all the help we can get."

She takes a single step back, as if increasing the distance will help the situation. "Why don't I want to be seen with you, Kayla?" Her brows raise as she leans on the crutches.

It might, at that — but one step isn't distance enough. Kayla shakes her head — in negation, in disagreement. "I do not," she counters sharply, loudly. She pauses for a moment, eyes closing beneath pain-furrowed brow, one hand coming a bit cautiously up to press palm against forehead. "Think of me as a damn trawling line, and fucking don't get hooked on it," is said at more normal volume. A nonconsenting trawling line, but bait nonetheless. "I do not want to be responsible," the healer hisses in a lower tone, "for giving them anything they don't already bloody have."

Another few steps are taken back from Kayla, though Elle isn't going to let her leave just like that. "Responsible? We won't ask anything of you. Hell, I have to ask for responsibility. They're good people, Kayla. They take care of their own there."

She frowns. "Look, I'm not going to force you to do anything… but I want to do something nice for you. They can pay you. Give you a job, if that's what you want. And we can keep you safe from the people who would want to use you. They don't ask you to do anything you don't want to do there." The little wounded blonde shakes her head. "Just like I'm not going to ask you to do that thing you do on me."

Kayla draws in a sharp breath as Elle steps back, then glares daggers her way. "You are goddamned fucking dense!" the woman snaps; them never meant Redbird. "Let me Spell. It. Out," she continues, vehemence carrying her a step forward — though her hand stays firmly attached to the railing, the other one dropping to rejoin it. "I'm made. I've been made since Day One — I answered directly to Dalton, remember? The Institute knows that. I refuse to fucking help them, but not even in my most airheadedly optimistic moments— " Kayla is optimistic ever? That's a wonder. "— do I think they're just letting me walk around scott-free because I said 'no'.

"You want to protect people?" Kayla asks Elle. "Keep in mind that I am a living, breathing, giant liability."

Elle shrugs quietly, frowning toward Kayla. "If you think you have it bad? I was Institute, until I decided to leave. Richard Cardinal helped me get away from them." Sure, it involved the Haitian, but it also granted her freedom. "They can help you, too." She reaches into her purse with her good arm, pulling out a business card and setting it on the railing.

"Why does that exempt you from protection? Why are you so convinced that nobody can help you?" She steps back further, then, a frown on her features. "That nobody wants to help?" She tilts her head toward Kayla. "Just… think about it. I'm sure Harrison and Cardinal would both love the chance to talk to you." Then, she's backing away further. "Call my cell, or call the office if you want to talk to Liz or Peyton." She still has no clue where Cardinal is.

It's not about help… but a whole host of reasons for stony silence close Kayla's lips on anything she might impulsively reveal. She glances only momentarily to the card, then watches Elle retreat, following every single step. None of them are far enough; all of them together aren't far enough. Determinedly convinced that their situations have nothing in common, the healer makes no response.

Elle frowns to Kayla, pausing for a moment. "I'm sorry about everything that's happened." She mumbles this out, then turns, making her way away once more. "Glad to see you're okay." This is offered over her shoulder as she greatens the distance between her and the healer.

Kayla watches her step away; feels her step away. And after a moment, huffs out an irritated breath, then grits her teeth. Moving against every instinct, the healer pushes off from the railing, her own steps less than normally fluid. "Bishop." She slides a glove off with the ease of frequent practice; catching up to Elle, presses two bare fingers against the side of her neck with neither warning nor request. Because they were gloved until recently, the touch is warm.

It also only lasts two seconds. Kayla backs away, with the stilted effort needed to keep her knee from bending, as much in sympathy as for its own actual state. "That's all I'm going to do," she says harshly, referring to more than the healing alone. Working the glove back on, she casts a narrow-eyed glare at Elle. "So don't come looking for me."

The woman turns her back and walks away. It's clear when she stops feeling Elle's injury, but the stiffness doesn't completely leave her posture even then; while Kayla didn't take everything from the blonde, what she did take is not a burden so easily shed.

Elle blinks a few times as she feels Kayla's fingers against her neck, turning to peer at Kayla with raised brows. The codiene makes it difficult for her to really feel the effect, but she knows that something just happens. "Thank you, Kayla." She murmurs, flustered, after a moment. "If— if you'd like, Richard Cardinal's cell is on that card. Call him, talk to him. He's a good guy."

Then, she nods slowly. "I hope the world treats you well." Then, she's making her way off on her crutches, pausing only to look back at Kayla once, smiling faintly. Then, she's on her way back to Redbird.

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