Playthings

"He's the perfect toy." (Elle/Adam)

Spoilers through 2.10, "Truth and Consequences"

Disclaimer: Not mine.

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i.

He's the perfect toy. Pretty like Peter and Mohinder, but not so damn noble. Indestructible, too, so he takes the jolts, then laughs. You pout, and he calls you little girl in that accent he really should have lost a couple of centuries back and you send a bigger shock through him. It's a game, and neither one of you is ever going to win. And that's the way you like it (winning was never the point).

ii.

He was always the man in the cell, there since you first arrived, both of you prisoners of sorts (other prisoners came and went, but he was always, always there). When you got a little too old to amuse yourself with dolls and crayons (you melted them both and Dad scolded in his level voice), Dad would let you take the pills to the prisoners (of course, he always called them "guests"). Their numbers fluctuated and everyone's power was different, and you had such fun figuring out what they could do (ants under a magnifying glass). Adam was your favorite, though, because he would tell you crazy stories about the Boxer Rebellion and the early Model-T Fords and run-ins with pirates in Barbados and the American Revolution and Woodstock. You giggled and jumped on his bed and he would complain that the mattress already sagged as it was. Other days he ignored you, staring out the window with morose eyes, and no matter how much you teased, he wouldn't pay the least bit of attention to you: just waved you aside. You hated those days.

When you're sixteen, hormones rushing through your body with more power than your electricity ever had, you start to tease him. Beg him to let you shock him, just a little (release the tension). He holds out for several months, pushing you away with quips that have an edge of warning to them (you know he could hurt you); then, one day he just gets tired (you'd seen that look a million times, on secretaries and Noah and Dad: they get tired of you and your energy and just wish you'd go away. You kind of hate them).

It's your favorite game after that, upping the dosage each time. The smell of burnt flesh and ozone thick in the air, his gasps or curses, the half-admiring, half-disdainful look in his eyes. His body heals faster each time.

After a while, (you thinkhopewish) he starts to like it.

When you're eighteen, you put on a new dress (for a girl who's never going to have the chance to leave this one building, you have an extraordinary amount of clothes, all ordered from magazines or the internet, and here you are: all dressed up with nowhere to go) and twirl into his room. He's so pretty and there and nobody else is. He rolls his eyes at you. I'm sick of playing your chew toy, Elle. You are not a puppy.

Stung (he doesn't even look up at your entrance, much less with the admiration you seek), you pour out more watts than you ever have before, on anyone: his back arches, his eyes wide, his mouth open but no sound coming out (he's a different kind of beautiful now, and you're entranced). When he collapses, gasping, onto the mattress, you climb up on the bed beside him, then into his lap, fasten your lips on his.

It's your first kiss.

He pushes you away eventually, but only after a few (timeless) moments when he's kissing you back, when his hands are touching you and you can barely hold in a squeal (or maybe a moan). When you feel him start to pull back, you give him a little shock on the lip, just to punish him (to let him know you're there).

His hands are still on you, but on your shoulders now, holding you at bay. He meets your eyes, and you hate him for it. I think you should stay away from now on, Elle.

You ignore him after that, as much as you can, and whenever you think about the rejection, you burn with humiliation (he should at least look guilty). When you deliver his pills, you always make sure to hurt him just enough that he'll be feeling the sting all day. He isn't fun anymore. There's Peter, though, for a little while, and he's new and makes you forget, but then Adam takes him away, and you don't have anybody to play with at all.

iii.

Dad's mad because when you found out that they were gone, you were so angry that you shot lightning through the metal bedstead, frying the room and then plunging the building into a blackout (there's a backup generator, though, because, with you around, these things tend to happen). But your puppies have run away and now you have no one to play with and you're so angry that you demand that Dad let you go after them—with the Haitian, of course. This (only the second time you've left the building, and last time, picking up Peter at the hospital, you didn't get much of a chance to look around)should be a time to celebrate, to look at the world and see if it's anything like what you remember (imagine), but there isn't any time. Not now. You're going to get them back if it's the last thing you do (payback's a bitch, Adam).

Peter has more talents, but you know Adam is far more dangerous, so you send off two quick bursts (no time to savor the crackling), the Haitian after Peter, and rush after Adam yourself. These heels really weren't made to run in, but then you never expected that the second time you would leave the holding facility in sixteen years would be to chase after a 400-year-old man. Through the snow.

You finally corner him in an alley not far from the hospital (he's in good shape for a man who's been restricted to a twenty by twenty foot room for thirty years. But then, he would be).

Now, Adam, why don't you just come with me? Let's not make this more…painful than it has to be, okay? (in reality, you're dying for him to give you a reason to shock him and you know that he knows that) Be a good boy, now.

He laughs at you.

Put down your hands, little girl. You can throw all the lightning at me you want; I'm just going to heal again. There isn't anything you can do to me that can really hurt me.

It's a taunt on so many different levels. A scream of frustration and the light shoots out from your fingers and stains his skin blue and arches his back and he's somehow still laughing through the gasping. You run out of spark for a moment, stroll over to where he's writhing on the ground.

Come on. I know you can take more than that. Quit being such a wimp.

Lightning-fast, he's on his feet. He grabs you, presses his lips to yours for a second, teasing (you give yourself up to it and that's why you don't see his hand close around the crowbar). See you later, love, he whispers, and you barely have time to feel the pain at the back of your head before the world is black.

You wake when the Haitian shakes you, and you realize that he's really gone (you're sick with yourself that you let him get the better of you so easily). Fury, and the power bubbles up again. You admire the way the metal shell of the car nearby peels back, like the skin of a banana (like the skin of a person). But it doesn't make you feel any less angry.

(He's gone) You hate him.

iv.

He's your dad's enemy, but you don't care anymore. You hated yourself for believing anything Noah Bennet said (Dad's voice, calm as ever, but not soothing, not anymore: "The man's a traitor, and he's dangerous."), but now you know how a real father acts, how he protects his daughter at any cost and doesn't let people do experiments on her, and when Dad gives you the order to find Peter Petrelli again, you do (more like he comes to you, at Primatech Paper, the facility in Texas). You just don't take him back to Dad.

But Peter's boring now, all nobly obsessed with saving the world and finding his little Irish girlfriend, and he doesn't pay you any attention anymore. Adam catches your eye behind the shorter man's back, smirks. You stick your tongue out at him, but that doesn't keep him from mocking you with his eyes.

You'd forgotten how infuriating (fascinating) he could be.

(You stick around).

v.

You convince him to let you kill your dad (or maybe he convinces you; with him, things are never clear). Peter left three days before, but only after trying to kill both you and Adam (he really didn't like it when his two "partners" tried to kill his mom. You don't know why: Angela Petrelli was always a bitch). Six days before that, you'd found out the truth.

At Primatech, you'd discovered a whole file, neatly labeled with your name in your father's even handwriting (unnaturally even, sort of like his voice). Statistics and numbers, and Noah Bennet was right: you were nothing more than an experiment to your own father, a tool, a means to an end (you've never been more than that to anyone and it doesn't make it easier than no one's ever been more than that to you).

You stand there in his comfortable office looking at your dad, the blue light crackling around your hands. Dad's just as calm and unruffled as ever, but there's that commanding, patronizing tone when he say your name.

Elle, you know you don't want to do this.

(But doesn't he see that you don't know anything anymore and maybe never did?)

Adam leans against the wall, watching you without expression (do you imagine the hint of a challenge in his eyes? You know he has a gun under his jacket, just in case you can't do it and he has to himself). You remember all the things you have no memory of, and you let loose.

Bye-bye, Daddy.

And then the man who raised you (and tortured you: maybe it runs in the family) is nothing more than a blackened pile of charred flesh lying on the floor. You don't feel anything (you don't like to think that you can't, that all your nerves are deadened).

Adam pushes himself off the wall. That's some talent you've got, Elle.

You walk right past him.

vi.

It finally happens: on a beach one night, but it isn't romantic. Not really (only it sort of is). You've just watched him kill that short Asian guy with the guy's own sword and wipe the blood off the weapon onto the pure white sand. He was strangely beautiful with the sword cutting through air and then skin and then bone and the look in his eyes is the one you imagine fills your own when you shock someone (it's beautiful).

You close your eyes, feeling the breeze lift your hair, let the surge fill you. He says you feel like a storm, all the time, one about to break, that he's got goosebumps, his hair is standing on end. You let the pretty blue light shoot from your fingers and make patterns in the sand—curlicues and hearts and your name in cursive and a unicorn (it's not very good; you never had very much artistic talent, and as precise as you are, it's still hard to control the electricity). The sand is turning to glass, smoking and hissing as the water is zapped away. You turn it on him, and he hisses, too, in pain as the spark shoots through him, and when he stumbles to his feet again, you throw your arms around his neck, wrap your legs around his waist, and kiss him: you both collapse to the ground (this is the best kind of electricity: it goes deeper, is more addicting, than anything you could have imagined).

vii.

The man who's lived more lifetimes than any person should (seen it all: wars and diseases and countries rise and fall and peace made and then broken and babies become old men and death and life and every other cliché you've never experienced) and the girl who hasn't lived even the one life that should be hers (when you were younger, you made lists of all the things you would do one day: rollercoasters, swimming, visiting Paris, horseback riding, having a boyfriend, making real friends). Fitting, you think.

Electricity: (Cliché, your mind tells you)

viii.

A world without people isn't all it's cracked up to be (helping evolution along a bit, he would say, the greater good; but this was never cerebral for him and you were just along for the ride). Sure, you can walk into any store and pick out any outfit, but there won't be new fashions next season. All the fresh food is gone now, and you're stuck eating packaged stuff (you cook it yourself, and it takes you a while to figure out just how much of a jolt to give it to make sure that it's done but not burnt). And there isn't anybody else to shock anymore.

You live in a penthouse so that every time you look out the window, you can see your handiwork (you can't lie to yourself and pretend that you had nothing to do with it: it wasn't all his fault). You're bored, most of the time, except when you're finding new things to fry or when Adam's touching you. He's nicknamed you Eve, and you've never hated him so much (liar).

You shouldn't even be alive. But he always carries around the little syringe and he pumps his blood into your veins and chases the virus away (it's cheating, you tell him. Cheating evolution. He doesn't say anything, just watches as the level of the blood sinks). You aren't sure why he bothers: it's not like you love each other. You're both just there and neither judges the other (that idea wouldn't enter either of your minds) and you guess that's all you can ask (you don't admit, even to yourself, that you've always wanted more).

ix.

When the soldiers (untrained, most of them, because there are so few people left that everyone has to play the soldier-role) show up, he attacks with his sword, you with your gift, and it's like they (swordlightning) are extensions of yourselves. You make a good team. The first time it's easy, the second time easier, but the third time one of them gets lucky and another bullet bites into your arm (not again, you think), then one into your leg. You curse and fry the guys who hit you before you pass out.

Adam carries you back to the apartment, tears the place apart looking for the syringe (the one time he's not carrying it with him would be the time you got hurt), then pumps his blood into your veins as quickly as he can. As the bullet burrows its way back out again, then pops out and falls to the floor, he kisses you: you shock him: he kisses you harder.

It's the end of the world and there's really nothing worth living for (but maybe you're free).

End.