Foolish Games (Part Two)
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. Since everyone liked this fic so much I decided to add an extra part to it. R/R if you like surprises.
Every day, Elle wakes up and feels like punching something. She supposes it's better than waking up feeling like electrocuting someone. Progress is measured in steps and the road to recovery is a long, strenuous one. Elle thinks she's moving in the right direction though. She finally told her father exactly what he could do with his tests and his assignments. She ran away from The Company after getting everything in order to create a new life and then frying the Hartsdale facility's entire power grid. It was satisfying in a way, liberating even. Then, of course, the honeymoon was over and Elle had to learn how to be normal. That desire finally brought her here to Toledo, a city that resides in one of the very counties she blacked out some sixteen plus years ago. It's being normal that also makes Elle want to punch something. Normal is terribly overrated.
"Thank you for shopping at Best Buy," mumbles Elle as she puts the items in a bag and hands it to the nameless patron on the other side of the counter. They're all the same to her. Their faces blend into an indistinguishable mass of mediocrity. Elle hates her new job but when you run away from home after telling your evil father to screw off there's really no chance he'll still kick you a big, fat monthly allowance to take care of all your needs. The rent for Elle's new apartment won't pay itself, something that greatly vexes her.
"Find everything okay?" asks Elle in a bored tone as the next peon in line steps up to the counter.
"Yeah," replies a hauntingly familiar voice, "I think I found what I wanted." Elle looks into the face of the man across from her and feels that prickly, tingly feeling on her skin.
"That really you, Elle?" asks Peter Petrelli.
"Wrong girl," replies Elle as she taps her nametag, "I don't know anyone by that name." Her heart is racing now. She can remember years ago how she kissed him and it was the first time she felt alive. She doesn't know whether she should be excited or afraid. The Company has sent people after her before but she's made it very clear that she won't be coming back. Is Peter the next person she has to send back to Hartsdale in a body bag?
"Can we go somewhere and talk?" asks Peter. He gives her that look, that look that she remembers giving him a few times. She's waited forever for him, waited until her heart turned cold and dead. She's not a helpless damsel or a beautiful princess that needs rescuing by the gallant Sir Peter. Those days are gone and that person, that childish sadist who delighted in pain, is gone with them. At least that's what Elle hopes.
"Fine," mutters Elle, grateful at least that Peter's given her a break from boring herself to death standing there ringing up customers all day. She closes up her register and grabs Peter's arm, leading him to the back where they can get some privacy. She journeys with him to the depths of the stock room, farther than any mere mortal would dare to venture.
"So, where've you been these past two years?" asks Peter lamely, his question echoing off the walls despite its low volume. Elle can't believe he's this stupid. She had always thought Peter was naïve, perhaps a little too oblivious at times, but his question reaches new heights of idiocy. Elle looks at him, refusing to answer his question. Peter really has no clue what he did to her. Hell, she doesn't have a clue what he did to her. Elle can't decide if she's mad at Peter for making her love him in the first place or for carelessly taking a chunk of her heart with him when he left and forgetting to return it to her.
"It's called 'under the radar', Peter," says Elle in an annoyed tone, "It's what people do when they run away from their evil fathers. By the way, do I really have to remind you to use this name instead of my real one?" She taps her nametag again, hoping that Peter will get the point this time. She's already dismissed the thoughts of Peter being sent here to capture her. He's not sneaky enough for something like that and he would've already made a move by now if that were the case.
"Veronica?" asks Peter, "Why did you . . .?"
"I like the name, okay?" snaps Elle, her irritation growing more visible, "I think it's pretty." She's been working hard on control. She's been working hard to suppress her normal instincts. She tries not to take pleasure in pain and she tries not to play games. She tries to be normal but she hates it because normal is boring.
"I've spent the last year trying to find you," explains Peter. Elle doesn't know whether to kiss him, strangle him, or do both. She really, really wants to do both and she stifles that urge. Pleasure and pain must now exist separate from one another instead of joined together as they previously were in her mind.
"Maybe I didn't want to be found," suggests Elle, "by you or anyone else." She can't help playing games. She's tried but it's so engrained into her that she can't help it.
"Can we maybe have a real conversation?" asks Peter, "You know, really talk like two . . ."
"I am an adult," states Elle, "Look, I can't do this now and my shift isn't over until tonight. Come by my apartment after that and we'll have coffee or booze or whatever. Just . . . leave me alone right now." She pulls a pen out of her pocket and rips a tag off one of the boxes to use as paper. Elle scribbles down an address and hands it to Peter before turning and walking away.
Before running away from home, Elle managed to divert a large chunk of The Company's money to her own account. That money had allowed her to furnish her new apartment and keep paying her rent on time until she found a job. She used cash always. She knew her father would be looking for her so she wasn't going to leave a paper trail. It's not that she really minds when The Company comes after her. She hasn't zapped anyone in months much less electrocuted them to death. She relishes the opportunity to use her abilities because they're like a drug for her and right now she wouldn't mind taking a little spill off the wagon.
"Hey," says Elle as she opens the door. She's wearing the same pajamas she was wearing the night Peter confronted her in his apartment. She's through dressing to impress. It never really got her far anyway.
"Hey," replies Peter as Elle turns away and sits down at the table in her kitchen. He takes this as an invitation to do the same. He doesn't really know what to expect. Peter's tried to forget Elle but every time he thinks he's finally let her go something will remind him. Now he's stopped trying to forget at all. He's spent the last year searching for her and every night he sees her face when he closes his eyes. Peter thinks maybe he's going insane but the truth is that he feels guilty. He led Elle on, used her and then left her at the first convenient opportunity. He forgot that Elle was still a human being and Peter knows he's not the only one to make that mistake.
"How do you want it?" asks Elle as she gestures to the coffee.
"Black's fine," assures Peter. Elle hands him a cup and then takes her own over to the table along with a bottle of something Peter suspects to be Jack Daniel's.
"So," says Elle as she takes a sip, "A year, huh?" She makes a face and then proceeds to open up the bottle of Jack.
"Is that what I think it is?" asks Peter skeptically, "I mean is it really safe for you to . . .?"
"Stimulant plus depressant makes for a happy Elle," assures Elle as she pours a little of the whiskey into her coffee and then takes another sip, smiling at the taste, "I'm not a child, Peter. You and everyone else can keep treating me like one but I'm not a little girl anymore."
"Is this how things are gonna be between us from now on?" asks Peter.
"Who said you were staying?" asks Elle in return, "You never do." She hopes that hurts him. She's spent months pining for him, hoping against all signs to the contrary that he would return for her, return to her. After a while, that hope turned to bitterness and anger as is usually the case with such things. Then, the most curious of all curious things began to happen. Elle's depression and anger turned into strength and resolve. She turned her back on her only home and ran. She still doesn't have a clue where she's running to but she runs all the same. She figures that's all that really counts.
"I'd like to stay this time," admits Peter, "I spent a year looking for you, Elle. I did it because I want to apologize."
"Oh well that'll just make everything peachy again," says Elle sarcastically as she takes another sip of her coffee, "Just admit what we both know, Peter. You never really loved me."
"Oh and you were so honest?" asks Peter in response, "I was your toy, Elle. It's not like you really, genuinely loved me either."
"I didn't know how to," admits Elle, "You do, Peter, and that's what hurts. You used me and worst of all . . . you made me actually think you cared."
"I do care," explains Peter, "I wouldn't have tried so hard to find you if I didn't care about you." Elle doesn't want to hear this. She spent two years trying to forget Peter Petrelli. She doesn't want to hear this. She's moving on and trying to be normal. She's trying to fix herself and now Peter's here wanting things to go back to the way they were. They can't and even if they can she won't let them.
"Don't say that unless you mean it," warns Elle, "I haven't zapped anyone in months and it's been even longer since I killed somebody. Last time we met, I promised you I'd try not to do that anymore. Don't make me break that promise."
"You did this for me?" asks Peter in surprise.
"I'd do anything for you, you ass," says Elle matter-of-factly. Peter doesn't exactly know how to respond to this. He's used to Elle manipulating emotions and playing games. What he's not used to is Elle being honest.
"I'm sorry," apologizes Peter, "I care about you, Elle. I've tried to run away from it but I can't. I don't think I even want to anymore."
"I don't wanna hear this," says Elle with a sigh, "I just . . . God you make me so crazy. Do you even know that? Do you know how crazy you make me feel, Peter? I mean look at me. I spend my days wearing that disgustingly cheerful blue shirt and repeating 'Thank you for shopping at Best Buy'. I know more about digital cameras and stereo equipment than I ever wanted to and I have to fight the constant urge to shock the hell out of every customer that I encounter. Every night, I come home and spend most of it scared out of my mind that Dad will come find me and drag me back to New York and worst of all I actually think I might like that because Hartsdale is closer to you. I'm crazy, Peter, a crazy insane train wreck and I'll only get worse if you stay with me."
"Just shut up a sec," whispers Peter as he suddenly closes the gap between them and kisses her. Elle feels herself losing control. She's backsliding and it feels so deliciously and deliriously good. She kisses Peter back hungrily, both of them standing up but neither breaking contact. Elle feels her legs move to her bedroom but she refuses to pry her mouth away from Peter's. Both of them are stumbling now, bumping into walls, tables, and whatever else happens to be in their way. Neither of them care at this point.
"I'll leave if you really want me to," whispers Peter.
"Nobody likes a tease," breathes Elle as she leans back on her bed, pulling Peter down with her. His hands start roaming as their mouths meet again. Elle is vaguely aware of Peter unbuttoning her top. The rest of the night is a blur full of screams, moans, and enough lightning to black out five counties in Ohio. Elle never felt so alive in all her life.
Elle lazily opens her eyes and makes a purring noise as she stretches her weary limbs. She feels a warm feeling in her stomach as if she's found something inside her she was previously missing.
"God you're beautiful," says Peter. Elle feels the heat in her cheeks and rolls over to bury her face in a pillow so Peter can't see her blush. She feels happy, the warm and peaceful kind of happy that has eluded her for almost all of her life. It scares her a little how happy she can be when she lets herself.
"I don't want this to be a thing," explains Elle, "I mean . . . I don't wanna keep score about who hurt who or who doesn't love who enough. I love you, Peter. I like it and I wanna keep feeling it."
"I love you too, Elle," whispers Peter, "No more games." Elle nods her agreement and snuggles closer to him. She's tired of playing around and acting like a child. For the first time in her life, Elle feels incredibly and undeniably happy.
"I have to go to work soon," says Elle as she looks at her clock, "Will you be here when I get back?"
"Always," assures Peter, "We're going to have to have a talk about that bottle of Jack though."
"You never let me have any fun," teases Elle with a grin as she gets out of bed and heads for the shower. For the first time in forever, she doesn't feel like punching something or electrocuting someone.