Title: Three Parts Dead
Rating: PG, eventual NC-17
Chapter 1: Lost Love and Peach Pie
Word Count: 2690
Summary: "To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead." - Bertrand Russell. Elle is living her normal life, a son, a job, a boyfriend; when a familiar face from her past reappears. AU for 3.11 and on. Crossover with Pushing Daisies?!?! Not really, I just love pie and the pie-maker and Bryan Fuller (come back, save my ship!).
Author's Note: Another AU to add to the quickly growing collection of dissatisfied Heroes fans. I have planned out a good deal of this story already, so I should be able to have semi-consistent updates, as long as real life doesn't interfere too much. I am sorry for boringness of this chapter, it really is a establishing kind of thing, you know, setting everything up. The next one with be much more interesting. Please read, enjoy, and comment.
She really wasn't sure what to call the things she saw at night. Sometimes they were terrifying images of pain and fear so real, so palpable, that by the time she jerked awake, covered in cold sweat, she was half-convinced that it was all real. These kinds of dreams were filled with the cries of a little girl, begging someone (anyone) to love her. There was sharp stinging rejection mixed with malicious, sadistic anger. And there were always a pair of dark, cold eyes that stared at her with want and need and lust.
Yet, sprinkled in with the hurt and pain and anger, were moments of calm, reassuring safety that lay just beyond the horizon. Always, she was reaching out towards the warm pair of arms that were waiting to envelope her in a shelter of love and care. But it seemed to be just beyond her reach, she'd stretch and twist and strain trying to get to that happy place but it was always pulled away at the last second.
That was usually when she was jerked awake, crying.
Elle angrily brushed away the tears that stained her face, frustrated and just a little bit afraid. She turned to look at the fluorescent and blinking alarm clock that sat on the dresser next to her one-size-too-big bed. 5:00 A.M. She overslept.
Shaking herself awake, she pulled herself from the warmth of the bed and padded, barefoot, across her room and into the adjoining bathroom of her small apartment. Staring at her reflection, she bemoaned the bags under her eyes, courtesy of five nights straight of the bewildering nightmares.
She made a mental note to tell Noah about them when he visited on Friday, maybe he could give her more insight into their meaning, or into her blurry past. She'd been having them for months now but recently they had been becoming more and more frequent; and more and more vivid. No longer did she hear just the screams of a little girl but she was beginning to hear the mummers of men in the background. And the pair of eyes that watch her so darkly were slowly gaining form, a body and limbs, frightening her even more as she slept.
Elle quickly splashed her face with cold water, trying to drown out the voices and eyes of her nightmares. After a few moments of deep breathing, the small blonde woman felt better, more like herself, more human.
A few minutes later, she emerged from the bathroom, refreshed and dressed for the day. She quietly left her bedroom and headed down to the room at the end of the small hallway. Pushing the door open quietly, she was greeted by a battlefield of toys. Smiling to herself, she picked her way over dozens of toy soldiers, hundreds of Legos, and countless more toys until she reached the Matchbox Car covered bed.
A small boy with sandy blonde hair lay, sleeping, in the tiny bed, body curled around a teddy bear and thumb in his mouth. Elle's eyes instantly softened as she gazed at her son, her heart warming at the mere sight of the innocent little boy. She gently extricated the bear from her son's, surprisingly strong, grip and began to dress him as he slept. The boy's head lolled back and forth as his mother pulled his head through a T-shirt and wiggled him into a pair of jeans.
When he was dressed, she whispered in his ear, "Come on, Noah. Put your arms around Mommy's neck."
His body instantly went slack, as he tried to fall back into bed. "No, Mommy, five more minutes. Please."
Elle tried to get the boy up, lifting his chin and arms in an attempt to wake him, but he was stubborn. Just like her. Elle tried unsuccessfully to rouse her child for a few minutes more before pulling out her secret weapon. "You know today's Wednesday."
Like a bullet, Noah's head snapped up and he was wide awake, eyes bright and excited. "Pie day?"
Elle grinned and nodded with equal enthusiasm. "But," she said somberly, "You can't get any pie if you don't go to Susan's and behave yourself while Mommy is at work."
Noah laughed and tilted his head to the side. "Mommy," he said with a vaguely familiar grin that spoke of mischief and mayhem, "I'm always a good boy."
Elle nodded skeptically, as she scooped up her boy into her arms and carried him out into the living room, where more toys and the like were strewn about. They both quickly put on their shoes, jackets, mittens, and hats before heading out onto the cold streets of Manhattan in December. As they left the apartment building, Elle tightened her grip on her son, a grip that didn't loosen until they walked the two blocks to the babysitter's apartment.
The noise and sounds of Manhattan captured the attention of the small boy and as they walked he babbled on about everything he noticed or saw or thought. Elle responded accordingly; grinning when he said something funny, gasping when he told her something scary, or craning her neck to see whatever it was that had caught his interest. All in all, it was a normal morning for the small Butler family.
"Okay, Noah. Now, remember, it's Pie Day and so I expect you to be good for Susan. Okay?"
Noah smiled as he hugged his mom tightly and buried his face into the crook of her neck. He whispered into her ear, "Okay."
Pulling back, Elle asked, "Any requests?"
Noah was quiet for a long moment, seriously contemplating his pie-eating mood in a way only a three and a half year old could. "Peach!"
Elle cocked her head to the side, giving her son a quizzical look. "Again? That is three weeks in a row now."
He shrugged his little shoulders, "I know but it's my favorite."
"Alright, peach it is." Pulling her son in for one last hug, she quietly said, "I love you, sweetie."
"I love you too, Mommy."
"I'm heading out now."
Elle called from behind the counter of the little flower shop she worked in. She liked it here. It was quiet and peaceful and welcoming. When she had just moved to the city, Elle had taken four different jobs before she found one that didn't make her skin itch. Not that she needed work, apparently her parent's left a small fortune, more than enough for her to live off of. But Elle took a job so that she could spend extra money on Noah, giving him everything and anything his little heart desired. She knew it probably wasn't good to spoil him so much but she honestly couldn't help herself.
As she got lost in her mind, a tall woman with short dark brown hair and almost translucent green eyes came out from the other room , wiping her hands on a ridiculously dirty rag.
"So early?" She asked.
Elle snapped to attention and nodded. "It's Wednesday."
A look of comprehension came over Elle's employer's face. "Ah, Pie Day." She turned to go back to her work but not before waving at the departing Elle off-handedly and calling, "Say hi to Noah for me."
"Will do. Bye Jaime." Elle called back. Pulling on her gloves, she opened the door to the shop, enjoying the tinkling of the bell and the rush of wind and snow in her face. And then once again she was back on the streets of Manhattan.
Even though Elle had been told she spent most of her life in a small Mid-Western town, she couldn't help but feel at home in the big bustling city. She loved the feeling of the cars as they whooshed past the pedestrians. She loved the sound of the people and the machines and the life that inhabited every corner of the vast city. But most of all, she loved her favorite little bakery that served, exclusively, the best pies in the world.
She pushed open the doors to the little restaurant with a flurry of snow and wind. Her eyes scanned the semi-crowded bakery, looking for a familiar figure, until she spotted a tall, dark-haired man sitting alone in their booth. She made a beeline for him. He must have seen her come in because just as she approached him he turned around and Elle found herself face to face with a pair of dazzling blue eyes, just like hers.
"David." Elle leaned down to kiss her boyfriend on the cheek before sitting across from him in the little green-leather booth.
"Elle," he looked down at his expensive and shining Rolex watch, "you're late. Got caught up in the exciting career of floral arrangements?"
Elle rolled her eyes. "No, I just decided to walk in the cold snow instead of taking a cab." David instantly looked abashed for his off-hand comment and Elle felt a spark of glee at his ashamed face, she hardly ever won with David.
"Oh," he paused and scanned the bakery with obvious disdain in his eyes. Elle felt her body tighten in anticipation of the fight that she knew was about to occur. "I don't even see why we have to come here all the time."
Elle, determined not to get into an argument, picked up the menu and scoured the listings lazily. "You know that today is Pie Day and I promised Noah peach."
David rolled his eyes. "Well, there is that bakery a block from Susan's. They should have peach pie."
Elle slapped down the menu with a sharp crack, her eyes bugging out her head. "I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I tried to feed my son Charlotte's Pies. Besides, it's a tradition that we come here."
David threw up his hands in acquiescence and a slightly uncomfortable silence descended over the pair. The silence lasted until the little blonde waitress came up to them and offered to take their order. Elle ordered the cherry pie and David just waved the woman off, not even bothering to give a polite no. Elle inwardly cringed. He was in one of those moods.
"What's your problem, today?" Elle hissed at her boyfriend as the waitress walked away.
"I just don't like pie, okay." He was pissed off but she could tell that this wasn't about pie. Elle wasn't sure if she wanted to know what this actually was about, she wasn't sure if she would be willing to deal with it. Lately they had gotten to this point where the times they are happy together are far and few between, an impasse in their relationship. She knew David wanted more, wanted to move in, but Elle was definitely not ready. She wasn't sure they were ready for that, wasn't sure Noah was ready for that. In fact, there wasn't too much she was sure about when it came to David.
"Well, since you aren't eating anything, maybe you should just go." The words came out like a gunshot and the silence was thunderous.
"Maybe, I should." And with that, David stood up abruptly. He tossed down a few bills on the counter for the coffee he had been drinking and the pie Elle ordered. Then, he grabbed his coat and left the shop, bumping into several people as they entered the bakery.
Elle watched him leave with an annoyed expression coloring her face. Desperate to distract herself, she stood up and made her way to the counter, hoping the catch the waitress and get a cup of coffee.
"Olive," Elle called. "Think I could get a cup of that coffee?" She asked, gesturing the pot she held in her hand.
"Sure, Elle," she poured the coffee, looking up at the slightly taller woman. "Trouble in paradise?"
"Yeah, I guess I don't know what's going on with him." Elle looked sadly away. "It just seems like we're off. You know?"
"Well, honey," she said encouragingly, "you should never settle. You just gotta find that one guy." She craned her neck to look into the kitchen where the pie maker was busy making his next batch of delicious pastries. However, a customer soon caught Olive's eye and beckoned the waitress from the opposite side of the counter. "Oh, duty calls. Talk to you later, kay."
"Okay," Elle said quietly, contemplating the waitress's disconcerting words, "bye." Elle turned from the counter, coffee in hand, so lost in her thoughts that she didn't even notice the tall man approaching the counter until she ran into him, spilling her coffee all over his shirt.
"Oh shit!" Elle exclaimed loudly as she attempted to catch the cup before it crashed to the ground and shattered. However, the (now coffee soaked) man was faster and in one deftly executed move he caught the cup in his hand just before it hit the linoleum floors.
Elle was so embarrassed that she couldn't even lift her head to look at the man that she treated like a biscotti and instead occupied herself with making clumsy apologies and dabbing his shirt with as many napkins as she could hold. "I am so sorry. I am never that clumsy, really. I will totally pay for the dry cleaning, if there is any need. I am so sorry."
Throughout all of her mortifying babbling, the man remained silent. Elle could feel the growing tension of his body as she tried to get the moisture out of the shirt. She kept on talking though, not even really sure what she was saying anymore, until he gently grabbed her wrist, forcing her to look up at him.
He was young, maybe a little older than her, and very handsome; tall and well-built with short brown hair. But what drew her in immediately were his eyes, dark brown, almost black, and incredibly familiar, she could have sworn she had seen them before. They were widened in a look of incredulity and disbelief; he, quite honestly, looked like he had just seen a ghost.
When she finally spoke it came out in a strange whisper, like she had suddenly lost her voice. "I'm so sorry."
The man blinked rapidly and shook his head slightly. Finally he seemed to realize he was still holding her wrist and awkwardly dropped it. "Sorry," his voice, too, was hoarse and Elle wondered what the hell was happening. He continued, "Don't worry about the shirt, it's fine."
Relief flooded Elle, she smiled up at the man and once again he looked stricken. "Thanks," she held out her hand to him, a grin on her face. "I'm Elle Butler."
A look of confusion still dominated his features but he responded quickly, taking her hand into his and shaking it slightly. "I'm Gabriel. Gabriel Gray."
Elle's grin got wider, "Well, Gabriel, how would you like a free slice of peach pie?"
Elle's smile faltered as the confused look on Gabriel face melted away and was replaced by a look of sadness so profound that Elle could hardly believe such pain existed. He looked like a man with a broken heart.