The Day You Died


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Also Featuring

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Scene Title The Day You Died
Synopsis They voted to tell the truth. The truth hurts.
Date October 13, 2011

Somewhere between Harlem and the Bronx is a small tenement building, four stories, with a crumbling vine-work scaling up the front. Yellow tape, too, across the doors and ground-floor windows. The building was condemned in 2009 after the riots that raged across Manhattan. Parts of the building aren't suitable for habitation due to fire damage, but some of the loftier apartments on the second and third floor have become home to the city's numerous displaced and homeless.

Elle Bishop isn't technically displaced or homeless, but living among the ignored cast-offs of society has become an important part of her new life. Ever since the destruction of Redbird Security's office and the crackdown from the Institute, life has become a series of hit-and-run experiences. The second floor apartment Elle now calls home is furnished with a collection of old and ratty furnishings salvaged from road-side garbage pickups and looted storefronts. This isn't anything Elle stole, but whomever occupied the apartment before her. Photographs belonging to a family that lived in the apartment before even that line the walls, dust covering the muted shapes of smiling faces and happy children. Elle doesn't know what happened to the family that lived here in the riots, or to the vagrant that lived here before her. All she knows now, is that someone has broken in to her apartment.

On returning from an errand to scrounge food and necessary supplies from a neighborhood market, Elle finds the door to her apartment slightly ajar. In the middle of her living room stands a wiry young man in an olive-drab military jacket, tattered on the edges and overly large for his narrow frame. Mousy blonde hair in an unkempt bedhead rests in an aggressive poof atop his head, and though he stands with his back to the door he seems aware of the noise Elle's footsteps made on approach.

"I'm unarmed," the intruder notes, raising both of his bare hands with a waggle of a couple fingers. He doesn't turn around, doesn't move more so than the show of lacking force. But Elle can feel the tension in the air. This isn't the first time someone has broken into one of her apartments. This is the first time that it hasn't resulted in an electrocution.

These months have been tough for Elle, always so used to living in relative comfort thanks to her ties to the ones who did the hunting in the past. Now that she's the one being hunted, life is difficult. There's not much in the way of clean luxury apartments — no more technological comforts, no more cushy beds with silken sheets, no more large televisions. And certainly no more shoe shopping. That's definitely not on the menu any longer. Man, what she wouldn't give to blow a grand on shoes again. For now, she's wearing simple clothes — worn jeans, some combat boots that are a size too large, a slouchy hat that covers most of her blonde locks,, fingerless gloves, and of course large sunglasses.

Instead, she's got a small plastic bag, filled with basic unspoiled staples. Mostly, some cans of Spaghetti rings, all of the beef jerky she could fit in her arms, and various candies and snack foods, and a bottle of gummi vitamins. Living on the run is not only uncomfortable and bare bones, but also pretty damned unhealthy, so she's taking the matter of nutrients into her own hands.

The thoughts of vitamins and proper nutrition are promptly scooted to the back of her mind, however, when she rounds the corner to find the door ajar. She pauses in the hallway, eyes narrowed at the gap between the door and its frame. Quietly, she removes the glove from the hand that is unoccupied by groceries. Then, she gently nudges the door open as electricity sparks to life, jumping between her fingertips that are raised toward the ceiling. Cautiously, with her back hugging the wall in the hallway, she edges in, blue light illuminating the dimly lit hallway…

And then, the electricity sparks and sputters out, leaving only the warm glow of sunlight to cast its light through the mostly covered windows, as those blue eyes land upon Howard, and his words ring through the dusty old apartment. "…Howard?"

"No," Howard says plainly, turning around in Elle's apartment with the casual grace of a man who hasn't been absent from her life for months. He doesn't look much different, though. His hair has grown out a little, eyes darkened with more tired circles, but he looks more-or-less the same as he did the last time they spoke. He smiles, wearily, a look that is as uncomfortable on his face as the lacking emotion in the expression is to Elle.

"Shut the door," Howard asks of Elle in a quiet voice, as though this were his apartment. He turns, regarding her side-long, then moves towards a ratty old armchair with grotesque plaid fabric print, softer and more comfortable than the garish piece of furniture has any right being. He idly plucks at a piece of lint on the fabric, then pulls out a long thread and keeps pulling.

The electrokinetic wavers in the doorway, momentarily stunned by this sudden reappearance of a man that she hasn't seen since she was still stuck within the confines of the dome. She was still radioactive back then, and the scars from their last encounter are still present in the form of a mesh-like bracelet of scarring wrapped around both wrists. She's healed up nicely since then — her leg doesn't even really bother her any longer, either, and her gait hasn't been too badly affected.

The man's response to her incredulous mention of his name prompts one eyebrow to arch higher than the other. Reaching up, Elle removes her oversized sunglasses, while quietly kicking the door closed behind her. The glasses are placed on a ramshackle hallway table, littered with dusty old ash trays and a few pictures of the family that came before. After reaching back and closing up the deadbolt, the tiny blonde woman slips into the apartment proper, setting her bag of food on a nearby table.

A bag of BBQ beef jerky and two cans of soda are plucked from within, and the blonde turns, wordlessly moving over to the worn out gray couch next to the chair, which is also far more comfortable than something so well used should be. The top of the bag is ripped open as Elle drops down onto the couch, and her gloveless hand reaches in. One piece of the dried meat is placed gingerly in her mouth, before she extends the bag and one of the soda cans toward Howard in an offering. "You have the most uncanny ability to appear out of nowhere. What brings you to break into my apartment today?"

"I've got friends who're better and this shit than I am," Howard admits, snapping the thread he'd been tugging, leaving a gap in the woven fabric upholstry of the armchair. Brows furrowed, he looks at the thread, and then lets it fall to the floor. Swallowing dryly, Howard looks up to Elle and then down to the proffered can. He shakes his head, a small and perfunctory gesture well-belated. He steps away from her, walking to the nearby wall and examining the pictures in the frames with an absent attention.

"Sit," Howard requests, looking to the armchair, then the sofa, "wherever." Something is visibly wrong, both with Howard and the situation. He's tense, arguably in a way that isn't his usual energetic tension. There's a mixture of anxiety and dread that Elle's seen before, in the eye of people before they're killed — when they know the inevitable is coming and there's nothing they can do to avoid it. It dawns on Elle that she's never really understood just how much death has filled her life. Just how damaged it's left her.

"Please," Howard strains. Something is dreadfully wrong.

Though historically she has never been too good at reading people or situations, Elle can clearly see that this randomly and abruptly initiated conversation is not, in fact, the kind of conversation where she should be snacking on beef jerky and drinking soda. As she settles into a cross-legged position on the shabby old couch, she sets the two unopened beverages and the bag of meat next to her, before turning her full attention toward Howard. A mixture of emotions ranging from confusion to anger flit across her fine features, before finally settling into an expression of concern.

"What… what's up, Howard? Why'd you hunt me down after all of this time?" She leans toward him slightly, blue eyes focused on his face, and that all too familiar expression. Her thoughts roam briefly over the subject of death, over the strangers — and even friends — whose lives she has ended in her time on this planet. But she shouldn't be letting her mind wander like that, right? Howard, for some reason, clearly needs to tell her something.

Howard doesn't answer her, doesn't tell Elle anything. Instead, he stands behind the armchair, fingers curled in the fabric, head down and posture slouched. In the silence the pair can hear the sirens of an ambulance passing the apartment building, the noise of traffic, coughing coming from an adjacent apartment. He slouches more, exhales a sigh through his nose, then sweeps his hair back from his face.

"A while back, I… told you that none'f this matters." Howard's eyes alight from the floor, ever so subtly. They search the fabric of the chair, its holes, tears, garish brown and green plaid. Then, they lazily lift to meet Elle's. "I lied," is an obvious fact. "It matters. Everything…" he furrows his brows, shakes his head and looks down to the floor. "Everything matters."

What Howard can't seem to do is put his thoughts in order, make anything make sense. He pushes away from the chair, pacing around the floor behind it, then moves slowly over toward the couch. "I've had some shit to do," he finally, vaguely explains. "It involves you," is quieter, "everyone, I guess. I've—fuck," Howard rakes a hand through his shaggy hair.

"I lied," Howard reiterates. "To you." There's a look in his eyes, a hurt one. A frightened one.

During the silent moments, Elle fidgets slightly, slipping the fingerless glove back over her hands, concealing the mesh-like scar bracelet, before idly fidgeting with the fabric; all the while her blue eyes remain on Howard. She has never really been able explain why she's always been so captivated by him, by his look and demeanor, and by him as a person. And she's happy to see him, too, elated almost. She likes him, despite the way he interacts with her.

Confusion seeps into the concern on Elle's face as Howard speaks, brows alternately rising and falling along with his words. She gives him a long moment of silence after he offers forth his admissions, quietly examining him all over again. Her brow furrows now, teeth gently chewing on her lower lip. "I'm confused. What do you mean you lied? What do you mean, everything matters?"

She leans forward slightly, concern seeping back into her eyes. "What…what are you trying to say?"

It's as good a question as any. For Howard, the answer is painfully challenging to compose. How does he deconstruct an identity and retell a lifetime? The answer comes not in the form of an absolute truth, but in the form of something more simplistic. As Howard paces away from Elle, unable to answer her question, he runs his hands through his hair and thinks. He recalls the time Elle spoke of her future, her life, the visions — dreams — of a future yet to come, one that may never. He'd also confided in his own truths, in the truth behind the jacket he clings to, like the past he'd never been able to hold on to.

When Howard looks up at Elle, his jaw unsettles and she can see his eyes are ringed with red. The man who knows only anger, frustration, and profanity expresses a boundless sadness in her presence time and again. But never, once, has he expressed it with tears. He knows everything he has to say, to fit the pieces of his past and her future together. To do what he has to do, before it all comes crashing down.

"My name is Robert," Howard hoarsely admits, from beside the couch. "Robert Bishop Junior."

The jigsaw is complete. A 128 piece puzzle of a headstone.

It takes a moment for that one to sink in. For what may seem like an eternity to Howard — to Robert, Elle just…stares at him. That poker face of hers, an automatic reaction to strong emotions roiling beneath the surface, suddenly makes a rather unsettling comeback. The dreams of her future…of her baby, and of her subsequent death, come raging out of the little box in the corner of her mind that she put it in, and her gaze turn from the man to a dustmite on the dusty coffee table in front of her.

Slowly, the mask cracks away. Her expression begins to drop, brows knitting together, eyes misting over, lips parting to offer a soft, sad exhale. Then, the tears begin, silently at first, before being accompanied by soft little breaths, as she recalls with far too much vivid clarity the feeling of her son's warm little body in her arms, the rush of love and emotion and joy and sorrow as she felt her life ebb away even as the little boy took his first and only meal from her bosom. All too clearly, she remembers running her fingers over his impossibly tiny little face, planting little kisses atop his still bloody head.

And then, her gloved hand shoots up to her mouth as a sob sudden wrenches free from her lips. She shrinks, then, curling in on herself a bit as the tears begin to flow a bit more freely. She doesn't speak — nor does it seem that she actually can just yet. No, right now it is all she can do not to have a full on ugly crying fit, instead containing it to a few soft cries into her fist.

One hand reaches out, toward the man. Toward her son. There's no insistence. There's no words. There's just the silent plea for some kind of contact, even as she cries softly into her hand.

Howard doesn't react, not at first, and then not later. There's a weakness in his expression, a crack in the stony exterior the young man puts forward. But nothing about that show of brief emotion implies a further structural defect in his facade. He approaches Elle, blue eyes downcast to the floor, hands curled tightly closed at his sides, listening to her sobs. She'd connected the pieces of their puzzles and come to see the uncomfortable tapestry of their lives.

The closest Howard gets is taking a knee beside her on the couch. He never really looks his mother in the eyes, can't bring himself to. Instead, he looks off into the distance and furrows his brows, as if staring through the floor. After several long moments of silence on his part, and loud, mournful sobbing on hers, Howard speaks up. But it isn't in a comforting manner. "I never knew you," is a truth Elle had already come to understand. Though she never realized the mother Howard once spoke of was herself. "I'm… not here to reconnect," he manages to say with a tightness in his throat, one hand coming up to rest on the edge of the sofa cushion, a few inches from Elle. It's as though his tentative near-touch is subconscious, not a part of his detatched affectation. "I'm — I came here to say goodbye."

It's not easy to regain her composure after Howard's rather shocking revelation that has finally linked those wonderful yet horrible dreams she's been having. When he doesn't reciprocate her silent request for contact, Elle slowly lowers her hand, allowing it to come to rest in her lap while her other hand catches the rest of her sobs. Those gradually soften, until her breath only occasionally catches softly in her throat. For an even longer amount of time, she remains silent, thoughts roiling violently just beneath the surface.

Finally, she takes a deeper breath, and manages to find her voice. "I…I wanted you, y'know." She doesn't look at him, her gaze fixed upon an old can across the room that was filled to the brim with cigarette butts by the previous tenant of this apartment. "If I…" Her voice catches briefly, and she takes a moment to simply breathe for a moment. "If I had the chance…I would try to do it right." Another long pause fills the air, the silence between their words almost deafening.

Finally, she can bring herself to look at Howard…Robert…her son…though it with tear-stained eyes that still flow rather freely. "I wish I could've taken you to the beach and built a sand castle with you…or gone on a roller coaster with you…" Suddenly, she finds herself slipping off of the couch, coming down to her knees before him.

And then Howard suddenly finds himself wrapped in a soft and decidedly maternal embrace — or, at least, as maternal as one can be toward a grown man whom has revealed himself to be one's son from the future. "I wish I could have a chance to do it right."

Howard flinches into the embrace, like a long-broken dog recoiling at a percieved threat. But he doesn't break away from Elle, instead leans into the embrace ever so slightly. Howard stares over Elle's shoulder, to the old clock on the wall that no longer tells the right time. He's transfixed by it for a moment, then, in an uncharistic show of something other than anger, lifts up a hand to his mother's cheek for the first time in his entire life.

"You still can," Howard offers with not hope, but remorse. "I — didn't get to know my father either, but Warren— " Howard's brows furrow, head shaking slightly. His blue eyes avert to the floor, then back to Elle. "It doesn't matter who, it just matters that you still have the option. Your life…" He pauses, at a loss for how to explain this from across a gulf of loss. "I was there the day you died," Howard offers with a tremor in his voice. "Everything I am," a spark of electricity discharges harmlessly between his palm and Elle's cheek, "is from you. But I never knew you."

The woman's eyes close, leaning into Howard's touch on her cheek, her own hand coming up to rest on the back of his, gently holding it there. She breathes in, memorizing his smell, now — the smell of what could be. Tears continue to slowly leak from her eyes, even as she keeps her gentle hold around Howard's chest with her other hand.

"Warren? Is that your father?" She almost doesn't see how it could be anyone else. Crazy as he is, they are kind of cut from the same cloth.

But then…the circumstances of her dreams come flooding back. Her face falls a bit, and she pulls away ever so slightly from Howard, her hand coming to rest gently on his elbow. "When I had the dream about finding out that I was going to have you…I wondered how I could make that happen faster. I loved you the minute I found out…and the minute I had the dream." She pauses. "And then, I was underground with the ferry, and I was having you…and you were beautiful, and I fed you, and then…" Her breath catches. "Then I died holding you." She removes her hand from the back of his, reaching up to gently cup his face, her thumb tracing along his cheekbone.

Eyelashes flutter over red-stained blue eyes. "How do I get to have you…and stay alive to give you the childhood you deserve? The one that neither of us got?"

Howard withdraws from Elle's embrace, eyes closed and brows tense. "You don't," he says with a shake of his head and a tensing of his jaw. "That's — not why we're here." Pushing himself up to his feet, Howard walks away from Elle, runs his hands through his hair, then turns around to face her at a more conversational and impersonal distance. "You can't ever give me back my childhood. I'm not — there isn't a way around for us. But that doesn't mean you can't have a — don't deserve a normal fucking life. Where we're from, it's — everything is fucked. Everything went wrong."

Sweeping a hand down his face, lingering at his mouth, Howard draws in a sharp breath through his nose. Then, starting to pace, his hand gestures become more animated. "It wasn't even just one fucking thing. It wasn't the Institute, it wasn't the President, it was — it was like everything fucking sucked and fell apart all around us and there wasn't a fucking thing we could do. We didn't come back here to fucking… fix our own shitty lives." Howard's lips downturn into a frown. "We came back to fix yours."

Agitated, eyes reddened and watery, Howard takes a few more steps away from Elle and lingers by one of the covered windows. "Some of us," his voice is small now. "Some of us are only going to get one shot at this. We've already — fucking — butterflies." He looks back to Elle, neck tense and a vein visible on his brow. "Some of us already aren't going to be born. We don't even know what's going to happen."

As he withdraws, Elle slowly slips back up onto the ratty old couch, drawing her knees up to her chest and wrapping her arms around those, instead. Really, she just needs to be hugging someone or something, and her knees are the next best thing — there's some stuffed animals in one of the kid's rooms, but there's no way to know where those have been. Blue eyes watch the man as he paces away, brow permanantly set at a downward slant.

"Fix my life?" A rueful tone is taken there. "That…I don't think that's possible. To do that…" She pauses for a long moment, teeth knitting at her lower lip. "I don't think even Hiro Nakamura could do that, honestly." She shakes her head, eyes casting toward the ground.

A long, measured silence follows, before she takes a sharp breath, closing those blue orbs of hers and taking a moment to simply breathe in the musty, dusty air of the abandoned apartment. Then, she opens her eyes, still tear-stained as they are, staring at Howard once again. "How do I help you? That…I should help you no matter what, right? So tell me what I can do."

Nothing," Howard explains helplessly. "There's… nothing you can do for me." Eyes averting to the floor, Howard looks to the backs of his hands. Then turns to regard Elle with a cautious frown. "I don't want you to help, because I don't… you don't deserve to be in this kind of bullshit danger. I came here to tell you to get out of the city. Leave New York, and never come back." Taking a step back towards the couch, Howard scrubs one hand at the side of his face.

"I can't even tell you everything, because… because if you're anything like me you won't fucking listen when people tell you something's a bad idea." In spite of himself, Howard smiles at that revelation. "I just want you to — "

Howard is knocked clear off of his feet by an explosion that tears open the apartment door, sends splinters of wood blowing into Elle's living room. Crashing into the wall behind the sofa, Howard slouches to the ground with fragments of drywall raining down on him. As Elle turns to the source of the sound, the whirr-hiss of hydraulics is a horrifying noise. Worse, is when her arm extends in a defensive gesture and… nothing happens.

Emerging through the smoke from the blown out door, flanked by a pair of men in black-patterned FRONTLINE armor, is an old face from Elle's past.

The Haitian, Rene.

«Eyes on Bishop, moving for extraction.» The voice crackles from the helmet of the FRONTLINE officer with his suit marked 00-01, while the adjacent officer 00-04 raises a rifle directly at Elle where she sits on the sofa.

Honestly…that doesn't sound like the worst idea in the world, these days. She's always enjoyed travel, anyhow — perhaps this time, she can travel without getting injured. That might be nice. Just going somewhere and enjoying the fact that you have gone somewhere…that could be nice. "Okay," is her response to his insistence that she leave New York for good. Tear-stained eyes look painfully upon him. He can't be. He is a product of a future that she wants to avoid. At least she can lose him knowing that he would've turned out to be a good person…even if he's an asshole.

Then, the explosion sends her son flying.


Instinct prompts her to reach out…only to find her ever present electricity to be missing. The face appearing prompts a hiss from the woman, who flings herself over the back of that ratty old chair that Howard was occupying, grabbing the cushion on her way over. Then, she's reaching down beneath and pulling out a knife and a gun. The dome ensured that she would never be without a firearm or knife at close range again.

For a split second, she hesitates, glancing over to Howard with wide eyes. But she doesn't hesitate long, she sends several shots out toward the suited officers. Howard told her to leave…and she intends to try. With the shots fired off, she flings the cushion in the Haitian's direction, turning on her heel in the same instance and launching herself down the hall with the intent of reaching the closest bedroom.

She wants to grab Howard, but…maybe, just this once, she should listen.

Maybe, just this once, she should run.

There's an explosion of debris again, both behind and ahead of Elle. A spherical portion of her apartment simply ceases to be around one of the FRONTLINE officers she shot at. Whether or not the handgun round did seems irrelevant. When 00-04 reappears, it's with the debris from the other part of her apartment, followed by a hydraulic strengthened hand slamming into Elle's chest. The force of the blow from the teleporter knocks both knife and gun from her hands, sends her sprawling to the floor.

«Got her,» 00-04 indicates, bending down to grab Elle by the scruff of her shirt. 00-01 sweeps in, looking down with unfamilarity at Howard.

«We've got another one in here. Looks like a vagrant, might be Ferry.» As 00-01 communicates with base, Rene slouches in the door frame, clutching his chest where a bullet struck his vest. He maintains concentration, though quickly closes in on where Elle is restrained. «Affirmative,» 00-01 indicates, angling his rifle at Howard's prone and unconscious form. For a moment, Elle sees her son, the next he's shot twice in the chest. The scream Elle unleashes is reflexive and primal, as is the thrashing and wails. «Done. We're out.» 00-01 indicates as he turns and rejoins his companions where Elle is held. Rene closes the loop, standing nearby to 00-04 as he activates his power a second time, leaving a spherical absence where they all once stood, burning with glowing hot edges.

Howard's body lay motionless on the floor of the apartment, blood seeping into the floorboards.

Elle wouldn't get her chance to help him.

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