Liberate Yourself from Hell (Epilogue)
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. This is, as you might've guessed, the final chapter. It's been a great ride. R/R.
Elle's eyes slowly but surely open, squinting slightly as the sunlight streams through her window. The smell of pancakes tickles her nose and she smiles as she gets out of bed and goes into the kitchen.
"Morning, sweetheart," says Mary Bishop as Elle pours herself a glass of orange juice and sits down at the table.
"Morning, Mom," replies Elle with a smile as she sips her juice and waits with eager anticipation for pancakes. She can tell her mother put blueberries in them just like she used to when Elle was young.
"Peter called while you were asleep," informs Mary as she puts a stack of pancakes on the plate in the center of the table, "I invited him to come over for breakfast."
"Mom," says Elle, her cheeks reddening, "You should've told me you wanted to meet him. We could've gone to dinner or something."
"Well I have to meet him some time, Ellie," reminds Mary as Elle takes a few pancakes and practically drowns them in syrup. She takes a bite and savors it. The door to the apartment opens and Peter Petrelli comes into the room.
"Morning, sweetheart," says Peter as he leans down and kisses Elle on the cheek, "I'm not late am I?"
"I just got up," replies Elle, "I guess I should get this over with. Mom, this is Peter. Peter, this is . . ." The words die in her throat as she suddenly realizes that time around her has frozen. No one says anything and no one moves. Elle sits there staring at her mother and Peter while they're frozen like statues. She reaches out a hand to touch her mother and suddenly the woman shatters like glass. Elle yelps as everything around her quickly follows suit. Her world breaks into a thousand pieces and she's left sitting here in the dark alone.
"Not exactly the life I wanted for you," admits Mary.
"Mom!" cries Elle as she runs to her mother and hugs her tightly, "I'm so, so sorry about this, Mom. I never meant to hurt you. Please, please forgive me."
"It's alright, Ellie," assures Mary as she hugs her daughter and pats Elle's head, "It's okay now."
"Am I dead?" asks Elle quietly.
"No, you're not," assures Mary gently, "You'll have to wake up soon and you'll have to let me go. I know that's very hard for you, sweetheart, but it's something you have to do."
"But I don't wanna," whimpers Elle as she clings to her mother.
"Life's not always about what we want to do, my princess," reminds Mary, "Sometimes it's about doing what we have to do." Elle feels her mother slip through her fingers and fade away. They're being pulled in opposite directions and she struggles to hang on but can't. Life isn't always about doing whatever she wants. Elle's not a little girl anymore and as hard as it may be to do she has to let her mother go.
"Mom?" mumbled Elle as she opened her eyes and looked around. Her eyes finally rested on Noah Bennet and he shook his head sadly.
"I'm sorry, kiddo," said Bennet, "We couldn't save her."
"Where am I?" asked Elle as she sat up so she could have a better understanding of what was going on.
"You're in a hospital in Toledo," explained Bennet, "Don't worry about your father. He's not in the city anymore and, trust me, he won't be coming after you for a while."
"Did you kill him?" asked Elle, "You should've just let me die too."
"I wasn't in charge of him," admitted Bennet, "I also never said I was the one who pulled you out of the river. I mean I was going to but apparently someone beat me to it." Bennet turned and smiled as Peter Petrelli walked into the room and sat down in the chair next to Elle's bed.
"I told you not to come after me," reminded Elle.
"You know it's funny," said Peter with a grin, "Ever since a few days ago I seem to have this weird ability to naturally find people."
"Wait, I've been out for a few days?" asked Elle.
"Only a couple," replied Bennet, "Peter and I have been quite busy. Right now, my friend Hana is working her way through The Company's networks after getting in through the laptop that you stole from your father. She's doing what the most crippling computer viruses in history only wish they could do. Every single scrap of data on their networks is being either erased completely or sent to me if I think it's anything worth keeping and then erased. Congratulations, Elle, you helped us set The Company back about twenty or thirty years and no one had to expose themselves to the general public in order to do it. The normal people can go on living normal lives and the specials can go on keeping their secrets."
"Wait, how did I survive?" asked Elle, "Shouldn't I be dead?"
"We figured out a few things about my blood," explained Peter, "Doesn't work nearly as well as Claire's or Adam's but it turns out it works well enough if I'm copying their ability."
"So all this was just about you taking down The Company?" asked Elle as she looked at Bennet, "You just used me?"
"I believe you have me confused with your father," corrected Bennet, "I don't pull strings, Elle. I just nudge people in the right direction from time to time. I should've helped you years and years ago when your father started running those tests but I didn't. Consider this my way of apologizing for that." Bennet handed Elle an envelope. Elle opened it up and pulled out the papers inside along with a stack of money and something else.
"That's everything for a new life," explained Peter, "All the paperwork and five thousand dollars in cash."
"What's this?" asked Elle as she held up the portable DVD player and a case containing some burnt DVDs.
"I remember a few days ago we were standing in your father's office and you told me there were files on his computer that you couldn't get into," said Bennet with a grin, "After all this, I thought you might want to see what they actually were." Elle cautiously took out one of the discs and put it into the player. She waited for it to load up and watched the screen as it began to play. She was greeted by the sight of a blond, blue-eyed little girl smiling at the camera. It was her. The files in the folder were videos of her.
"There's more," assured Bennet, "Birthday parties, Christmases, even that summer vacation you took to the beach. Your father always had a camcorder on hand any time you did anything worth noticing and you were always a photogenic child. Consider this a way to help you remember your brief but glorious childhood."
"Thank you," said Elle as she stopped the tape and looked at Bennet, "I mean if you hadn't have given me Hana's email address . . ."
"You would've found some other way to start all this," assured Bennet, "You were always a curious little girl. I'd love to stay but I believe I'll leave you two crazy kids alone. I have a family that will be pleasantly surprised to see me home for dinner."
"Next time you could find easier ways to do this stuff," reminded Elle.
"Nothing worth having is easy," assured Bennet with a grin, "I'd like to make a small request though."
"What is it?" asked Elle.
"If you ever happen to see your father again, I'd like you to give him a message," explained Bennet, "Tell him the next time he tries to seduce a married woman it would be nice if that woman wasn't his best friend's wife. I hear that type of thing can really ruin a good friendship." Bennet turned and left Peter and Elle to process his implications. Elle turned back to the DVD player and stared at the video of herself as a child.
"I've been thinking about what you said in your note," said Peter, his voice turning Elle's attention away from the image on the screen.
"Oh?" asked Elle.
"Maybe it's not important to get back things that were lost," explained Peter as he smiled at her, "Maybe it's more important to hang on to the things you have right now."
"And what do you have that's so important?" asked Elle with a grin.
"I'd like to have you in my life," said Peter as he took her hand, "You told me you wished you could save me. Maybe we can help save each other."
"Now that is the Peter Petrelli I remember," admitted Elle as she leaned over and kissed his cheek, "You think we can get out of here since I'm all better?"
"I'll work on doing it the normal way," assured Peter, "Just name any place you want to go and I'll take you there."
"I already know where," replied Elle.
Elle stood on the shore and watched the waves roll in. She'd never been to the beach at night. She had to admit it was beautiful with the moonlight reflecting off of the water. She remembered the summer her family had spent at this beach and she remembered the complete and total fear she had experienced about getting in the water. That's what this trip had been about. It was time for her to face all that fear and guilt and this was the only way she could do it.
"I can go with you if you want," reminded Peter as he held her hand.
"No," said Elle as she looked at him, "I have to do this by myself." She let go of Peter's hand and walked out into the water. She just kept walking and walking until her feet could no longer touch the ground. Elle took a deep breath and then pulled herself down into the water. She wasn't afraid anymore. She wasn't afraid to see what was down in the dark ugliness below the surface. Elle just let herself drift under the water and listened to the sound of the waves roll over her head.
Elle remembers the laughter of children. She remembers what it was like to smile at the world and not hurt while doing so. She remembers when the world was young and full of endless possibilities. Most of all, Elle remembers her mother because now memories are all she has left of the woman.
"I just wanted to say goodbye," explains Elle as she sees her mother standing in front of her, "Peter and I are leaving soon. I don't know where we'll be going but I know I'll be safe there. He makes me feel safe, Mom."
"The right ones always do," assures Mary, "Hang on to those memories, Ellie. They'll lead you back home."
"I'll always miss you," says Elle as she hugs her mother.
"I know," replies Mary, "Run along now, my princess. Just know that I'll always be proud of you."
"Goodbye, Mom," says Elle as she feels herself floating upwards out of the blackness and into the light. It feels good in the light, warm and safe like nothing else she's ever felt before.
Elle kicked herself up through the surface and exhaled sharply. She opened her eyes and shook her head before making her way back to shore. Peter tossed her a towel as she came over to him.
"You alright?" asked Peter.
"Yeah," replied Elle with a smile, "I think I am now." She began wiping herself off as she turned and looked back at the ocean. It was so beautiful and calm. She thought maybe she could get used to seeing it every day. It might not be so bad. Elle felt Peter's warm arms wrap around her and bring her closer to him.
"She'd be proud of you," whispered Peter.
"She is," assured Elle, "Let's get inside before I freeze." Peter kissed her cheek and then took her hand to lead her away. Elle took one last look at the ocean and squinted slightly. It might've been her imagination but she swore she saw a little girl smiling back at her. Elle could've sworn she heard the laughter of a child as she and Peter headed back towards civilization. It took her only a few seconds to realize that the laughter she heard was her own. She had missed the sound of it all these years much as she had missed a lot of things. There would finally be time now to remember them all.