There was a spring in Bennett's steps, and Elle didn't like it. For someone who was normally so sullen, who went about their 'duties' with hardly a smile; to see him grinning, and excited was incredibly disturbing. She couldn't understand his good mood. He'd been out in the field with that Eden girl, and they'd let someone get away. Daddy was far from impressed, but Glasses just couldn't wipe the smile off his face.
Every time Elle saw him it was there. She would ask him what had put him in this mood, and he would look at her with the pity face, brushing off her question. If there was a face she hated, it was the pity face. He did it far too often.
Her father when asked told her to mind her own business, and said that he had very important business to conduct. Leaving her to wander the rather empty halls by herself. Everyone had gone home it seemed, with just the barest amount of guards, and employees in the building. Ordinarily Elle loved it when it was empty like this, less eyes watching. After watching Bennett walking around smiling all week it wasn't interesting at all. As much as he annoyed her, frustrated the hell out of her, she liked having him around.
Deciding to take advantage of the lax in supervision, Elle took a set of car keys from the security desk, and snuck out the building. It was a short drive to his house, parking the car a few blocks from his house, Elle walked to their front yard. Crouching behind the rose bush as she had done in the past, she looked into the window.
He was sitting with his wife on the lounge, two kids on the floor in front of them. They all looked so happy, and they were doing nothing special. The floor around them was covered in scraps of paper, silly music playing over the stereo, but they were incredibly happy.
Elle didn't know what they were doing, but whatever it was, she wanted to do it too.
It doesn't snow in California, she wishes it would. Everything seemed more festive with a covering of the purest white she had ever seen. Not that she saw a lot of snow in New Jersey, but from time to time she could look out the tall window in her bedroom, and she would see the light dusting on the tops of the trees outside.
Elle wouldn't exchange anything she had now, for the life she had had before. They could always spray the snow from the can onto the windows, it wasn't the same, but it was enough. Back then she didn't have a Christmas tree, overwhelmed with lights and ornaments. There wouldn't be stack of presents under the tree, carols in the air. More than that though, there wouldn't be love.
Growing up she had always thought her father loved her, he may not show it in the ways she read about in books, or on the television. She knew it was there, she told herself continuously that he did love her. He may not tell her, never showing it in the typical ways, but it was there, it had to be.
It wasn't until she saw him with their son that she realised just how much she had been fooling herself growing up. There was no love in anything that her father had ever done for her. The fierce protection that he provided, the smile he gave to only him. The way he spoke to him without a single breath of condescension. Noah had to do nothing to win his father's approval, or respect. The moment he had uttered his first cry, he had his full attention, and love.
They may not have a lot of money, with more than what seemed a fair amount of problems, but they were going to give their son something that they had never experienced.
A loving family, and the most wonderful Christmas they could ever imagine.
There was a box, a simple, innocuous box under the tree.
She'd been studying it for days, never touching; Elle couldn't take her eyes off of it. He'd told her not to touch, or shake it, do any of the things she wanted to do to it. The curiosity was killing her slowly. Knowing him he may have just placed an empty box under the tree just to play with her. She was going to go along with it though. If he wanted to surprise her she would be surprised.
Elle had started to get used to the surprises that came with life.
Life after her father had been a surprise, finding that she could enjoy her life without him an even bigger surprise. The biggest one had been her here, a part of this family. To be fair, they didn't all get along, but for one person she was willing to pretend.
His arm wrapped around her from behind as she gazed down at the box, "No sneaking a peek."
"I'm not," Elle smiled, angling her head to face him. "Just looking at it, and finding it hard to believe that I have a present under Angela Petrelli's Christmas tree."
"Believe it. I'm glad you're here," he said, brushing his lips against her forehead, and the small scar.
Elle closed her eyes as shocks that had nothing to do with electricity raced through her, "Me too."