The first thing that happens when they get back to the hotel is that daddy marches her straight into a chair in the middle of the little kitchen and sits her down. The biting sarcasm perched on the tip of her tongue is held at bay by the odd authorative glare in his eye. It's something she hasn't seen in…
Well, she has a feeling she's seen it before, but when she reaches for the memory it's a bare spot in the pantry. Stupid Bennet for planting the idea in her mind. It's destructive, distrusting purpose rearing its ugly head.
Daddy, inept as he may be at times, wouldn't, couldn't do that to her. It feels strange having to tell herself so. Despite the emptiness she feels inside, looking at her father bumbling his concern toward her, she thinks he cares, knows that much at least on an intellectual level.
When the needle pinches into her skin, she glares at him and gives an annoyed 'ow!' right in his ear, but that parent-y concern is still there. He takes off the bandage and runs his finger across her arm, making sure the bullet wound seals itself.
She shrugs him off and wants to ask if that's Adam's old stockpile he carrying around, then thinks about how the cheerleader took that fifty foot fall like it was nothing and realizes it must be Bennett's kid. She briefly flirts with the idea of getting revenge for the bullet through that bright-eyed little girl that reminds her so much of herself, but dismisses it just as quickly.
"You're going to be fine," Dad says in a way that makes it seems like he's more relieved that she is.
Looking down she sees that the wound is gone. It's a small relief actually. Chicks don't dig scars when it's on them, and she's glad Miss Ra-ra's blood actually helped. Doctor boy is sitting on the couch with his head in his hands and Elle asks what his problem is but he doesn't reply.
Dad's hand is suddenly on her shoulder.
"First bullet," he says as if it means something.
First, second, third, all felt the same to her.
It's cold steel she feels against her back, warm leather against her wrists and ankles, and pricking sensation at the side of her neck. The light above her is so bright it hurts her eyes. She shakes a little, not understanding what it going on.
"Daddy?" She asks, and for a minute is only met with silence.
Then she feels a hand atop her head, stroking her hair, a voice asking that she calm down.
"Was I bad?"
It must be because of grandma's house, because of the car, because of Ohio. She never meant to do any of those things. They just happened. She saw blue and they just happened.
A tear trickles down her cheek and she wants to wipe it away but her hands won't move, and she can't turn her head, and more start to follow, and the bright light turns blurry. She's scared, and cold, and her skin is starting to itch. That horrible, twitching itch that happens just before the blue.
"That's good sweetie," she hears above her. "Keep it up."
And when she screams, she doesn't hear anything else.
When she wakes up in that stiff hotel bed the sheets are clung to her with dampened sweat, and she feels sticky and gross. She wants a glass of water, which is strange, because she never wants water. Hasn't craved a glass since she was nine years…
Something isn't right. She doesn't know what, or why, but it feels like a puzzle piece has suddenly been found under some random couch cushion and a picture is finally coming back into place.
Dr. Broken Nose is asleep on the sofa when she walks out into the main room and she's quiet even though she doesn't care if she wakes him up or not, and goes into the kitchen to get the drink she wanted.
She doesn't drink it right away, preferring to stare down into the warped reflection of her eyes, before turning on her heal and heading out the sliding glass door. It's still warm out, and she thinks that must be one of the perks of living on the beach, but she still can't wait to get the hell out of California. She ends up by the pool for lack of any place better, and sits on the edge careful not to dip her feet in.
Thinking of Bennett, thinking of his pity, the fear of the dream fades into anger, and she stares down into the pool expecting to see her eyes flash with that familiar spark. This is exactly what he wanted to do to her, and damn him, it is working.
The dream had to have happened. It was a little too familiar, a little too accurate in completing a feeling she's sure she had sometime, somewhere. Staring up into that blinding light and crying like a baby, it makes her shake now.
A small spark snaps at her hand and bounces back off the glass of water, and her arm jerks away from the sting. She gasps as the glass shatters on the ground, the puddle spreading to soak into the side of her nightgown.
Surrounded by water, remembering pain, it's becoming way too real and she just wants to go home.
A cold sterile building is a far greater alternative to whatever this place was doing to her.
It had to be.
She's curled up on a small metal bed with a big stuffed bear tucked under her arm, staring at the plain white door with the little window in the middle. Her hair is damp and clinging to the side of her forehead, and the towel they'd given her lay ignored and hanging off the chair next to her.
It's cold and she's shivering but she still refuses to use that towel for her hair. Those meanies in the white coats with the blue masks telling her to do things, then pretty much making her when she wouldn't comply. She won't cry because she thinks it's what they want her to do.
Watching random heads bob past her window is the only way the time seems to pass. There's no TV, and they don't even give her books to read. A cold lonely time like this is when she misses mom, but now she hardly even remembers her face.
Daddy walks into the room and she tries to give him a weak smile, but the motion makes her face hurt. Instead she just whispers a hello and squeezes her bear tighter. He sits on the edge of the bed and grabs her ignored towel, wiping down the sides of her hair he doesn't smile at her, and at the moment it's all she wants him to do.
"You were very brave today Ellie-bean," he says. "I'm proud of you."
This makes her smile without her face hurting, and she looks up at him, and wants to tell him she doesn't want do this anymore, but something tells her it's not going to matter what she wants.
So she says nothing.
On the plane she ignores daddy completely, preferring instead to bury her face in a magazine. Dr. Broken Nose is in a different section somewhere and she almost wishes he were closer, if only to get dad to focus on someone that isn't her.
The article about how to get the right amount of bounce to your hair isn't exactly topping the interesting chart, and she keeps thinking of when her hair had been soaking wet and he dried it off for her.
Her hands shake against the pages. God, what the hell was going on with her? Where did all this goopy sappy torrent of inner-feelings come from? One day she's shot, and the next she's reliving a childhood nightmare that may or may not have happened.
Finally she shoves the magazine into the pocket on the chair in front of her and turns to face her father. He seems a little surprised. Like this is the last thing he expected when she made it so clear she was ignoring him.
"The Haitian couldn't make Adam forget could he?" She asks.
He's not shocked by the question. Maybe a bit perturbed because he will want to know why she thought to ask, though if he does inquire, she's not entirely sure why either. Something the Englishman once said about being dangerous to them on top of the fact that he couldn't be killed.
"No," Dad answers slowly. "He couldn't. Why do you ask?"
Yes Elle, she thinks. Why do you ask? Where did this particular question come from?
When they first brought the Haitian in, Adam had been one of the first people they experimented with him on. She knows this because Adam thought to tell her for whatever reason. And while he was able to pull the memories away, with Adam it only seemed to be temporary. He never told her why, and she never asked, but now she wishes she had.
"No reason," she says and gives him one of her ear to ear grins that makes him roll his eyes. But she knows he'll be thinking about this from now on, and maybe that's not such a bad thing.
Her feet are tied to a metal rod sticking out from the ground. She can walk if she takes baby steps, but the chord doesn't let her get very far. She turns her head toward the window where all the shadowy faces watch her, and the crackly electronic voice tells her how hard and how long they want her to zap the targets in front of her.
She doesn't want to do it. She's tired of these little games they make her play and she'll pout all she wants because she just doesn't care anymore. The voice comes out again and she tosses a little ball of lightning at the speaker, the small shower of sparks falling to the floor an indication of its demise.
Folding her arms in front of her, she refuses to do what they want. She asks for her daddy. She asks to go home. And if she doesn't get any of these things she says she will kill them all.
The door opens at the end of the room and in walks someone who isn't daddy. Just another pair of eyes hidden behind a medical mask that's carrying a menacing looking needle, and heading right for her. She tries to come up with another spark but the man is too quick, she feels the little prick in the side of her neck then sees nothing but stars.
When she wakes up she's got a bigger needle in her arm, and she's in a different room with even more people in masks staring down at her. She tries to make the spark come back but the only thing she gets is a strange buzzing feeling just underneath her skin.
She's more angry than scared now. Because she wants cake and balloons and presents and anything else that's supposed to come with a ninth birthday party. Not this, anything but this. Daddy is not coming in today. He's not going to wish her a happy birthday because he's off on assignment somewhere and she's left with all these weird robot people.
She doesn't cry, won't cry, and just plots revenge as they poke and prod and ask more questions.
Her room at the compound suddenly feels like a cell, when she lies on her bed all the air is suddenly sucked out of it. Trying to get comfortable is a useless effort, so she gets out as quick as she can and starts walking. It's the foreign blood still in her veins, that Bennett bitch's iron ore floating around inside of her, doing something far more sinister than healing.
It makes her itch in a way that isn't the electric familiar and she doesn't like it. When she closes her eyes she can see those stupid horn rimmed glasses and the way he leaned in close, basically telling her that her whole childhood was a lie, and how convenient it was that she didn't remember any of it.
She finds him in that little room tucked away in a far corner of the building.
Well Noah, she thinks. Don't I get the last laugh because it appears to be magically coming back now, in flashes and nightmares, and yes, I can see daddy there trying to comfort me but never letting it stop.
All rainbows and unicorns and years of strenuous torture at the hands of her own father's company.
Your daughter's blood, she thinks staring down at him. Adam's blood, the cure all to anything, even memory loss. Even getting your eye shot out by Dr. Broken Nose.
You poor girl, he'd said.
Yeah, well, aren't we all?
She's thirteen when the experiments stop. When they have her stabilized and tell her that she can handle her ability with the utmost confidence now. When daddy stops smiling because over the course of said experimentation she'd killed three lab techs and two doctors because they wouldn't stop when she wanted them too.
Sitting in a chair in the middle of the room she's being stared at by a panel full of people like her, and not like her. People who understand, and think they understand. She smiles widely at the way that the normal one's eyes widen just the slightest bit when she plays with the pretty blue sparks.
Daddy hangs out in the background, paying close attention to all their evaluations, and she scowls at him. It feels like graduation day almost. She's finally being a granted a pardon for a crime she doesn't recall committing. Existing maybe? Is that a crime? Especially when this place seems full of other people with powers just like her?
One day, someday, she knows she will kill him for doing this to her. For sacrificing her like a lamb to the slaughter. She's thirteen years old and felt more pain that anyone should have to in a lifetime. She's thirteen and feels three times that. She's thirteen and wants to kill every single person in this building and laugh while it burns to the ground. She smiles at the thought.
Someone in the peanut gallery frowns at her, as if they can hear what she's thinking, and she wonders if they can.
The door opens at the end of the room and everyone except daddy turns their head to see who it is. At first she can't see, and daddy turns around and blocks her view even further, but then turns around again and suddenly stops smiling.
"No," slips from her mouth before she can stop it. Not him, not him.
The Haitian, he's called. The one that can block your abilities, the one that can take away your memories.
She looks fleetingly at daddy, and he looks sad, but it's a familiar face of his. He's not going to stop what's about to happen. He never does.
When she goes to his office he's there, and she doesn't knock because she never knocks. He doesn't look up from the paperwork he's going over because he's come to expect as much from her. She stands in front of his desk waiting for him to finish reading whatever it is he's reading, and when he does he signs his name at the bottom of the paper. Looking up at her expectantly, he folds his hands in front of him and waits for her to speak.
"Do you ever think it's your fault?" She asks. "That I am the way I am?"
He's very good at hiding his surprise, leaning back in that big chair of his and pushing his fingers to his lips, but she knows she got him.
Thought your deep dark secrets were gone forever didn't you daddy? She thinks. Thought it was just easier to call me crazy and leave it at that because you couldn't face the fact that your dear little girl is just a product of her environment. Act like you care when I get a bullet in me, but stand idly by while they rip me apart.
He looks like he's thinking of a good answer, and she pops a few sparks between her fingers, remember that day when she was thirteen and what she had planned to do to him. It's not anger she feels now, it's not anything really, just that familiar emptiness.
Finally he looks away, and she knows the answer is yes.