Author's Note: Hey all. So this time around, you're going to get two sections of my incoherent ramblings instead of just one. Why? Because in addition to torturing Matt and Elektra, I get just the tiniest bit of enjoyment out of torturing you guys. Kidding, kidding. First off, thank you to everyone who left feedback last time. I had a few people mention that the chapter didn't go where they thought it would, and all I can say is…that's awesome. I am by no means a great writer, I don't have the talent of the people working on the Daredevil books, and I can't write action scenes to save my life. What I try to do, what fanfiction allows me to do, is take the characters places they couldn't go otherwise. If nothing else, I hope you guys have had some surprises on this ride of mine. Like I said, you'll see more of my rantings and ravings at the end, and I humbly beg that you read over them, because all the really important stuff comes later. Well, the really important stuff is the actual conclusion to the story so…never mind. See you in a bit.
Oh, one more thing. There is a huge, blatant reference to Jen Garner's performance in 13 Going on 30. It's there because I found it mildly amusing, and because there was a huge, blatant reference to Ben Affleck and Chasing Amy in an earlier chapter. What can I say, I like things in pairs. Now read on!
Abby didn't speak much the rest of that night, or the next morning. Elektra dropped off in Matt's arms for a few hours, the physical and mental exhaustion proving to be too much. Garrett slept on the couch with Rachel, because his head hurt and his muscles ached and he didn't trust himself to carry her upstairs without tripping.
When the sun came up, Abby entered the kitchen to find Garrett preparing what amounted to a breakfast buffet. There were waffles and pancakes and eggs and bacon and French toast.
Closing the back door behind her, Abby surveyed the sheer amount of food, but said nothing. Garrett, haphazardly tossing used bowls in the sink, frowned as he turned to look at her. "Yesterday's clothes," he remarked, noting her lack of wardrobe change.
"You wore the same pair of jeans three days in row," the teen replied flatly.
"Washed them didn't I? Besides, they're nice, they make me feel special."
"Great," said Abby, keeping her voice low because Rachel was still asleep in the next room.
"Were you outside all night?"
"Are you lying?"
"Are you turning into Matt?"
Making a face, Garrett took a carton from the fridge and a glass from the cabinet, then he took something else from the uppermost cabinet. Abby wasn't paying attention. She leaned against the kitchen table with the same blank look he'd seen last night, staring at some point in the middle distance.
"Drink," Garrett ordered, sliding a glass of bright orange liquid in front of her.
"Drink anyway, you look like shit warmed over." She glared at him. Garrett considered it an improvement over the previous expression. "Drink," he repeated firmly.
Abby downed the whole glass, wanting him to shut up. Then her face turned an odd color and she began to choke. "What the hell?" she gasped between coughs.
Grimacing, Garrett began moving plates from the counter to the table. "Orange juice mixed with something extra. You weren't supposed to slam it."
"Thanks for warning me," was the dark reply. "What do I tell Matt when he smells booze on my breath?"
"The truth, blame it on me."
Matt and Elektra came down a few moments later, the blind man supporting most of Elektra's wait as he scolded her for attempting the stairs.
Garrett listened to them argue about Elektra's ability, or lack thereof to move around right now, watching Matt ease his lover into a chair. "You shouldn't be up," Garrett stated, depositing a stack of waffles in front of her/
Elektra ignored him, her whole attention focused on Abby. "Hey," she murmured.
Abby, who was still leaning on the table without sitting down, looked at something over her mentor's right shoulder. "You shouldn't be up," she said tonelessly.
"Abby," Matt began in the voice one would use while talking someone off of a very high ledge.
He had to have noticed the liquor, but he didn't comment. Abby wondered if he'd listened to her conversation with Garrett. She wondered if he'd listened to her conversation with Garrett last night. "Do we need to do this here, right now? Because I really don't want to do this right now, if you guys are cool with that."
No one answered. She'd come off sounding a little desperate, and Abby despised herself for that. Rachel began stirring in the next room, and Garrett went to her. Over Elektra's protests, Abby begged out of breakfast, despite not having eaten since the previous afternoon. The cabin felt too small, and Abby was gone from it before any of them could stop her.
The next few days were spent in a kind of limbo, much like the first few. Garrett kept preparing more food than four people could ever hope to eat. Abby skipped meals and, excluding some stilted interaction with Rachel, avoided everyone as much as possible. The forced bed rest made Elektra miserable, but not nearly as miserable as those trying to keep her in bed.
On the third day following Bullseye's death, when Garrett dropped a plate of pancakes topped with fruit and bacon in front of her, Elektra ran out of patience. At first, he'd been careful around her, trying not to say anything upsetting. However, because she was used to him saying things that were mildly upsetting, and because she hated being treated like fine china, she'd ordered him to cut it out. Then he'd arranged her pancakes to look like a smiley face.
"Is there a reason you keep making enough food for ten people?" Elektra snapped.
"I'm hung over," Garrett replied. "I get sick and the booze makes me feel better, then it makes me hung over."
When she wasn't stuck in her room with Matt as guard, Elektra had been watching Garrett. He was drinking more and throwing up. The nosebleeds he kept having reminded her too much of Bullseye, right before he died. All Garrett would say was what he'd already said, that he wasn't nearly as sick as Bullseye, that there was always another treatment, another drug, another procedure.
"You're not eating," Garrett observed.
"No, I'm not."
"Your wrist acting up, your shoulder?"
"They're fine," she bit out.
Remembering what she'd said, remembering that it freaked her out when he played nice, Garrett crossed his arms and smirked. "If your arm hurts, you can't feed yourself, I can help with that. You know, open the hangar so the plane can fly in. Used to do it with Rachel all the time."
Because the girl in question was sitting in the living room (she was still nervous about being away from her uncle), Elektra tamped down her automatic response. Tilting her head, she crooked a finger at Garrett.
Garrett, unnerved by the come hither gesture, walked over anyway, curiosity overriding caution. When he was close enough, Elektra stated in a low, quiet tone, that if he put his hand near her mouth, or any other part of her body, he would never see that hand again.
Garrett nodded. He'd used a piece of bacon as the mouth for her pancake, and he quickly grabbed it, turned it so the pancake face was frowning instead of smiling, and went over to his niece.
The kid hadn't been terribly communicative lately. Most of her time was spent watching TV with Garrett, reading a book with Garrett, or sitting at the kitchen table with Garrett. She didn't say much during any of these activities. As her uncle claimed an arm of the couch, Rachel offered a rare sentence. "This lady looks like you."
She was looking at Elektra when she said it, grabbing the brunette's attention.
"Agreed," said Garrett genuinely amused for the first time in days. "You've got a twin."
Leaning forward slightly, Elektra was able to get a decent view of the TV from her place in the kitchen. The woman on screen (Elektra reluctantly conceded there was a passing resemblance), was wearing an overly colorful dress and more makeup than Elektra bothered with. Her Hollywood counterpart seemed to be at a party of some sort. Elektra watched her twin approach the movie DJ before stepping onto the empty dance floor. At that point, Michael Jackson's Thriller began to play, and her doppelganger began dancing to the music. Soon enough, she had everyone in the room following suit.
Chewing on his lip to keep the laughter in, Garrett stood up, walking backwards so he could observe Elektra II performing Michael Jackson moves amidst a crowd of strangers. Making his way to the real thing, Garrett leaned in close, the same way she had with him, and spoke very quietly, the same way she had with him. "I know you're hurting, I know your knee's wrecked, but I'll give you eleven-hundred dollars if you do that," he pointed at the TV, "right now."
Elektra scowled, almost missing being confined to her room and having Garrett act like she'd break at any moment. "You don't have eleven-hundred dollars, Garrett."
"I'll give you my hand. You can chop it off like you've wanted to do for the last seven years."
Elektra continued to glare.
"Worth a shot," said Garrett. Getting serious again, he turned out his jeans pockets and came back with two handfuls of bills, which he dropped on the table in front of her. "Anyway, what do you know about my financial situation?"
Eyes widening, Elektra studied the crumpled wads of hundred-dollar bills he'd produced. "I thought your accounts were frozen."
"They are," he replied, taking a seat next to her and staying quiet so Rachel would stay engrossed in her movie. "That's from Jimmy. He left me more junk drives full of shit to sift through, documents giving me legal custody of Rachel, and more money than I made in the last six months."
Elektra was momentarily speechless. It wasn't that she'd completely forgotten about the case Garrett went to New York to receive, but she had mostly forgotten about it. It'd been a long week, even by her standards. "Anything else?"
Garrett shrugged. He meant it to be casual, but they both knew better. "Junk drive had a letter explaining what Target Man already said. Bullseye and the Hand got him in a corner, said things would go easier if he played Rachel those damn tapes that made her freeze up and made Murdock go nuts. Said I was sick, said they'd make me well again." Shaking his head, Garrett pinched the bridge of his nose to ward off a migraine. "It doesn't jive."
"You said he was in a corner. If Roshi's men were threatening him-"
"Why bother? They could've killed him straight out."
"Would Rachel have cooperated if they had?"
"I don't…I don't know. If they were trying to turn her to their side without torturing her like they did with Murdock then okay, but…"
"Letter didn't say anything about the other files. The ones he had her listen to behind Bullseye's back, the ones she said kept her from going nuts."
There was that. The unknown voice on the other set of files that Rachel mentioned. Garrett never found those files on any of the drives he'd received from Chastity.
"Anyway, the letter makes it sound like Jimmy did all this less because he was forced into it and more because he wanted to save my life."
"That's strange to you?"
"Yeah," Garrett replied flatly. "That's strange to me. One, he shouldn't have cared enough to try saving me. Two, assuming he did, he wouldn't hurt Rachel for my sake."
"You said yourself you didn't really know him anymore."
"I didn't, but I knew enough. If you had to hurt Abby in order to help Murdock, would you?"
"No. Exactly. It wouldn't be a choice, and it shouldn't have been a choice for him."
Elektra said nothing. What was there to say?
Suddenly Garrett's expression changed and his hand moved from the bridge of his nose to his nostrils. Just like that he was bleeding again and he rushed upstairs to throw up.
Chastity called late that night. After assuring herself that he wasn't on his deathbed, she gave Garrett an update. The dirt she'd given to Ben Urich would hit the papers tomorrow. Fisk hadn't wanted it known that one of Hell's Kitchen's most prominent citizens, a blind man who'd done nothing but help the community, had been arrested for murder. A murder without motive, that Matt couldn't even commit, what with the whole blind thing. He'd managed to keep it out of the papers somehow, managed to avoid a public outcry. That wouldn't be the case anymore, not when the public discovered that every guy working the Murdock case had been bought off by a supposedly reformed Wilson Fisk. Amazing what people owned up to when you knew the right people and made the right threats.
As they'd already discussed, the tape showing Matt slitting Charles Mitchum's throat would be proven a fake. Whether it was or not hardly mattered. Strangely enough, Ethan Burke had walked into a New York police station, saying he'd gone into Rikers and taken Murdock hostage because the voices in his head told him to do that. Burke admitted to taking Matt somewhere (he couldn't remember where exactly because the voices wouldn't tell him), then beating the blind man several times a day for the last two weeks or so. He couldn't remember where he'd left Matt or what condition the attorney was in, and the detectives interviewing him never got that to change. During a break in the interrogation, chained to the table with cameras rolling, Burke escaped. A station full of cops and cameras and nobody knew where the crazy man ran off to.
"So with Murdock cleared and the task force investigating him in jail, Foggy will be cleared of those bogus perjury charges they tried sticking him with," Chastity explained. "Like Foggy would ever do something like that."
On a sleeping bag in his room, with Rachel crashed out in his bed, Garrett frowned, pressing the phone harder against his ear. There was a note of affection in Chastity's voice that disturbed him intensely. "You honestly like him don't you? Nelson."
"You told me to be nice to him."
"I didn't tell you to like him."
"He's sweet, honorable. I think being locked in this traumatic experience together caused us to bond."
"Traumatic experience," Garrett mimicked. "You sat in France and ate pastries while watching foreign porn films."
"Well, it was traumatic for Foggy."
"Only because you threatened to shoot him and pretended to have more than one personality."
"Well yeah. I did a lot of work for you John, I've got to have fun somehow."
"Fine, just don't try sleeping with him before he's back home."
"What do you mean try? If I wanted to sleep with him, I could sleep with him."
"Before or after you shot him with a tranq dart?"
"We bonded, he likes me now."
"Uh huh. Don't sleep with him."
"Jealousy doesn't suit you John."
"Jealousy. Yeah, that's what it is."
"I doubt Murdock and the ninja skank would care that much."
"For fuck's sake…how many times must I tell you to stop calling her that?"
"Uncle Garrett," said a small, groggy voice, "you said a bad word."
Rachel hadn't seemed to care all that much before. Garrett chalked it up to the fact that she was mostly asleep. "Sorry brat," he murmured, getting on his knees so he could touch her hair and kiss her cheek. In a second, she was out again and he lay back down.
"What's the matter with you, Uncle Garrett? No bad words."
"Don't do that."
"Is Rachel still there? Tell her Aunt Chastity says hi."
"No. No sleeping with Nelson either. I'm going to bed."
"John wait." There was no laughter in her voice anymore, no familiar flirtation. "There's something I've been meaning to ask you."
Her seriousness made him uneasy. "What's up?"
"The gun Bullseye used on Elektra, you knew that was Jimmy's gun."
"Yeah, you told me." She'd told him that the doctor he usually got drugs from had been shot in the head. Then she'd told him that the gun used to shoot Elektra had come from Jimmy's collection. This had all been before Rachel told him about the men on the tapes and how they made her head hurt, and how Jimmy had told Bullseye that he, Garrett was going to die.
"I told you. So why was it easier for you to believe that Jimmy hired Bullseye to kill you, or that Jimmy tried killing you himself, than it was to believe that he knew you were sick? That he knew you and Bullseye had the same problem and he was trying to help in some weird, twisted way?"
"He knew I was sick, he should've told me that. He should've told me who the hell my niece was."
"Why'd you think your brother was willing to kill you?"
Why indeed. Why hadn't he put it together, the Bullseye thing? Why hadn't he realized what was happening before the bastard showed up here, beat E to shit, and scarred Abby for life? He should've put it together. But he'd been so tired and so confused and it was harder to think without the pills and the injections. And with everything that had been going on, Bullseye had been a background problem. None of them had expected him here.
"Your brother. What was it between you that you thought Jimmy would have you killed?"
For a long moment, he said nothing. "Another time," Garrett whispered. "Another time maybe."
He hated it when she used his real name. "Another time, Chast. Not tonight."
Chastity didn't answer right away. "I've talked to some doctors about what happened with Bullseye, what's happening with you."
Garrett sighed into the phone. "You're too good to me, you know that? So I'm guessing by the tone and the awkward pause that you haven't scored a miracle cure on eBay?"
There was another awkward pause. "It's more advanced now, you know? It's more advanced and those treatments, they were always more like Band-Aids than permanent fixes-"
"Chast," he murmured. "It's okay. It is. It'll be fine."
"It'll be fine," he promised. "There's time to figure something out, okay? No worries."
"Okay," she replied quietly.
"Good. I'll call you tomorrow."
"You always say that."
"Yeah, but mostly I lie. Not lying this time. Love you."
"Kind of, depends on the night. Call you tomorrow."
In the next room over, Elektra lay on her back next to Matt. No matter how she slept, her ribs or her shoulder or the bruises covering most of her body always hurt. Even if that wasn't the case, she wouldn't have been able to sleep.
"Abby will be okay," Matt stated, turning on his elbow to face her.
"I don't know anymore."
"I do. Give her time."
Time. So much had happened in so little time. She and Matt had reunited, she'd become responsible for Abby, then Matt had been gone. He'd been dead and he'd come back, but he'd still been gone, for a long time after that. Part of him still was, part of him died when he was locked in the Hand's dungeon.
After Matt 'died,' after he'd come back, Elektra had grown lazy. She despised herself for it, but she'd grown lazy. She'd been so caught up in grief that she hadn't noticed when Abby started drinking and skipping school and flunking class. She'd stopped practicing Kimagure, because no matter how she tried, Elektra couldn't seem to get her mind clear. Then, when Matt was there again, she'd been so focused on making him well, on trying to find the man she'd lost, that Elektra had practiced even less.
Closing her eyes, Elektra pictured the motel and the parking lot and the bullet ripping through her protégé. She shuddered and Matt rested his arm lightly across her middle, trying to protect without hurting her.
Elektra appreciated his nearness, but she couldn't vocalize that. She was too busy berating herself for getting lazy and screwing up. That's essentially what Ethan said when she asked him why she was seeing such vague, unformed visions, seeing the same thing again and again. With Kimagure, as with everything else, Elektra displayed enormous potential. When she'd resurrected Abby three years before, some of that potential had been unlocked. But, since she'd never finished her training, because she'd gotten lazy and hadn't truly practiced in a very long time, that potential was becoming a problem. Like Abby, Elektra had the ability to become a master. But Abby's visions were mostly out of her control. Now it seemed that Elektra was suffering the same problem. The muscle in her mind that controlled Kimagure was weak and unused. He'd compared to a cramp or a spasm, which hadn't made sense to Elektra. When she'd been using the visions to keep herself alive on a regular basis, she could only see a few days ahead. Now that she wasn't practicing, hadn't really needed to practice in such a long time, she was seeing things weeks ahead, things that hadn't happened. She'd accused Burke of making up these rules as he went along. He'd laughed at her.
Then came the most important question: What could she do about it? Could she do anything at all? Burke said he didn't know. Clearly she was seeing farther ahead than usual, and the farther you went, the more uncertain things became. If you saw something was going to happen minutes before it happened, that was pretty well set. Looking further ahead made things more subject to change.
Essentially, Abby might get shot to death, she might not.
Elektra had knocked Burke unconscious after he explained the ambiguity of it all. On the one hand, Abby wasn't marked for death. On the other, what good were the visions if she couldn't trust them, if what she saw was subject to change at any moment?
Matt was rubbing circles on her back, trying to ease the tension rolling off her. His next words made Elektra wonder again if he was hiding psychic talents. "E, don't do this to yourself. With or without Kimagure, no one really knows what'll happen."
"That's what worries me," Elektra mumbled.
He stopped rubbing her back, chin grazing her good shoulder as he spoke into her ear. "We're okay right now. We're okay, we're alive, and we have a chance to fix things. Whatever else comes, we'll have to deal with it."
Stifling a pained groan, Elektra twisted around to look at him. "What happens if we can't deal with it?"
She sounded weak and she knew it and she was almost beyond caring. Too much had happened in too short a time. Finding Matt, losing Matt, Fisk and Bullseye and Garrett and Rachel and Abby. Abby who'd been haunting her for weeks now, Abby who hadn't said more than twelve words to her in two days.
"We can. We've made it this far, it means we can deal with it."
Elektra kissed him then, long and slow and passionately. It wasn't because she wanted to start anything, wasn't because she necessarily believed what he was saying. He'd tried killing himself days earlier, tried leaving her. Something had broken then, some level of trust that would take time to fix. So no, she didn't kiss him because she believed him, though she certainly appreciated the words of comfort. Elektra wasn't sure why she kissed him, except that it made her feel the tiniest bit better. That, and it eased the bad taste in her mouth, the one that'd been there ever since she saw Abby holding a gun on Bullseye.
It hit the papers the next day. Ben Urich wrote an exceptional story, quickly picked up by the other news outlets, describing Wilson Fisk's activities. How he'd been lying, cheating, and killing. How the charitable foundation established after his pardon was merely a front for the same things he'd done before going to prison. How Matt Murdock had been working with Urich to get Fisk behind bars again, and how Fisk retaliated by railroading an innocent blind man. All of this was verified and proven, though Urich didn't name a source. Wilson Fisk had apparently disappeared from New York. He couldn't be reached for comment.
Elektra had no idea where Chastity McBryde got her information, nor did she particularly care. Setting aside the newspaper, Elektra leaned back against her pillows and sighed. This business about resting and letting herself heal was getting very old very fast.
There was the softest of knocks before the bedroom door swung open. Elektra sat up straighter as her protégé came in, bearing a plate and a glass of water.
"Made you a sandwich," said Abby. Without meeting her friend's eyes, the teen deposited the items on Elektra's nightstand. "Matt's playing with Rachel and Garrett refuses to come up here."
Understandable. Last time he tried bringing food to her, Elektra may have said some things that may have been slightly rude. "Thanks."
"I was going to make your favorite, but Garrett ate all the turkey."
"Garrett does that." He'd been eating a lot and drinking a lot and puking it all back up on a regular basis.
"Yeah." Meeting Elektra's gaze for all of two seconds, Abby made to leave the room.
"Abby," the older woman called. "Hold up a second."
Abby froze, her back to the older woman. "Did you need something else?"
"Yeah, I need you to hold up a second. Come here."
Abby turned around slowly, warily. "Why?"
Elektra closed her eyes for a moment. The girl was looking at her like she expected a blow. "I could use the company."
Stiffly, Abby moved towards the bed. She didn't sit until Elektra patted the space next to her., Abby perched on the edge of the bed, ready to bolt as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
Elektra eyed her carefully. She'd expected a breakdown. Days ago. She'd expected the adrenaline to leave, then she'd expected Abby to break. Her own catharsis had already begun, with Matt in the bathroom while he held her and she poured out the emotions. As far as Elektra knew, Abby had done nothing like that. The teen barely slept, spending most of her time jogging around the property. She exercised until she couldn't anymore, but she stayed out of the gym area. The gym was where Bullseye died.
"You aren't eating. You should eat."
Elektra took one bite of the ham sandwich. She wasn't at all hungry. Everyone in the house had been fussing over her, but Abby was the worst. Worse even than Matt. The girl refused to be in Elektra's presence for long, never longer than a few minutes, but Abby took full advantage of that time to chide her mentor for not resting enough or not eating enough. Then she'd disappear again. This was the first time Elektra had been truly alone with the girl, and she suspected that Matt's preoccupation with Rachel wasn't coincidental.
"You haven't been eating either," Elektra pointed out. Abby was becoming visibly thinner. She worked out obsessively (that itself was relatively new, Abby's previous method of avoidance had been to stare at the TV for long periods of time), but she didn't eat enough to keep that up. When Elektra worked herself to exhaustion, she at least knew enough to get the necessary amount of calories.
"I eat," the teen argued. "Doesn't look that way because Garrett makes so much food."
Elektra set the plate aside. "Abby-"
"Can you not talk to me like you think I'm going to have a nervous breakdown? I'm fine."
"You aren't. You couldn't be."
"I'm not the one who got shot and beat to hell."
Elektra grimaced. She hated being hurt like this and Abby hated seeing her like this. "We need to talk about what happened."
"Why? Bullseye's dead. It's over and done with and it doesn't matter."
The former mercenary was losing patience. She'd heard that from Matt before. It didn't matter what the Hand did to him or what they made him do, he was fine now. She'd heard it from Matt, spent months getting him to act like a person again, watching him pull away from her and trying to pull him back. It had exhausted her beyond reason, and she refused to repeat the process with Abby.
"What if I need to talk about it?" She tried keeping the testiness from her voice, but didn't entirely succeed. "If I need to talk about it, for me, can we talk about it then?"
Abby studied the bedspread.
"He killed your father."
"And he was here. And you're telling me that didn't affect you?"
"Clearly not as much as it affected you."
"And holding a gun on him, when you-"
"What, I what?" In a second, the teen went from unresponsive to angry, eyes flying to Elektra's. "I didn't do anything. I couldn't do anything, but he's dead anyway, so again, why does it matter?"
Not waiting for an answer, Abby got up to leave again. Elektra caught her wrist in a loose grip, thinking it would be enough. Abby resisted. Elektra tightened her hold.
"Lay off," Abby muttered brusquely. She looked mildly panicked.
"No." She'd done this once before, sort of. After Mark died and Abby refused to talk, Elektra had gone to her and physically sparred with her. She'd gotten hold of the girl's hands and hadn't let go until Abby got so pissed off that broke down in tears. The sparring was out of the question this time, but Elektra had no qualms about applying the same general principles.
The grip was tight, but Abby was stronger at the moment. If she wanted to, she could get out of her mentor's grasp. She started to tremble. "Would you stop?"
Abby snatched her hand back, ignoring the grimace that crossed Elektra's features. "I'm going downstairs." She didn't move.
"No, you aren't. Sit down."
"You're upset because you couldn't kill Bullseye."
"Whatever you say." Abby forced herself to be still again, to keep her voice neutral.
Elektra considered using her good arm to physically shake the teen. She rejected the idea. Abby hadn't let anyone touch her in days. "Fine, then, you tell me."
"Tell you what?"
"Anything. I don't care. Just talk." Elektra hadn't talked much after her mother died. She'd talked less after her father died. Then she'd died and returned and lost five years of her new life because she was stupid and scared and stubborn and angry.
Abby didn't comply right away. "Matt couldn't kill Fisk, right? The first time? Isn't that what Matt said?"
"Yeah. That's what Matt said."
"And then Fisk got out of jail and caused all these problems. Right?"
Elektra said nothing. She couldn't tell exactly what direction this was heading in, and that made her reluctant to respond. Also, now that Abby was talking, Elektra thought it best to keep it that way.
"So if it'd been you with Fisk seven years ago, would you have done what Matt did?"
No. She wouldn't have been strong enough. She would've killed Fisk in cold blood. Elektra didn't say this, allowing her silence to speak for her.
"You wouldn't have," Abby pressed, apparently needing confirmation.
"No." She would've killed the man who ordered her father dead. But Matt hadn't. Matt had been stronger than that. And so had Abby.
"I can't…" she'd whispered, Garrett's gun inches from Bullseye's forehead.
"I'm glad you didn't do it. All right? I know you thought that's what you wanted, but killing him would've…changed you."
"Fucked me up, you mean."
Yeah, that's what she meant. "No."
"You don't think that's happened already? The last ten years of my life, and you don't think the ship's sailed on that one? So you're honestly proud of me for not pulling that trigger?"
"Would you be proud of me if he hadn't dropped dead? If he'd taken the gun from me and killed us and taken Rachel, you wouldn't have been proud of me then."
Elektra hated to fall back on Abby's excuse, but she'd never been especially good with comforting, maternal discussions. "The what if's don't matter. No matter what you think, it's not easy killing someone, even when they deserve it."
"Not easy. So how'd you make a living then?"
That one hurt. Elektra couldn't tell if Abby realized how much. Her lack of inflection made it hard to read emotion. If Abby had meant to wound her, Elektra told herself it was just a tactic, a way of ending the conversation. "The killing's easy," said Elektra, amending her previous statement. "It's afterwards that's hard."
"Not for you."
"Yeah. For me."
There was a monetary silence. "So you're proud of me for not killing him?"
How many times had they established this? "Yes."
"Then what would you be if I had killed him?"
Elektra couldn't answer. There was more to the question than there seemed to be, as if taking it at face value wouldn't have been enough. Elektra kept feeling as if she hadn't gotten the full story of what happened in that room. She'd been right there; she'd seen everything, but kept feeling like she hadn't seen everything. It was that feeling that made her hesitate now.
She shouldn't have hesitated. Abby was out the door and closing it behind her before Elektra could do or say anything.
Later, she asked Garrett what he knew. She'd seen the two of them exchange looks, secret glances that weren't supposed to be there. Elektra was extremely tired of secrets.
Garrett wouldn't say anything, except that it wasn't his business. Elektra threatened his life.
"It's not my business, E."
"Lots of things aren't your business, Garrett. Doesn't stop you from talking about them."
"Those things are different than this thing."
"Is this thing something I should know?"
"Not if Abby doesn't tell you. If she does then she does. Either way, leave me out of it."
He'd left her trapped upstairs, leaving to go through his brother's files. Two hours later, Elektra convinced Matt to help her into the living room. She was unnerved by what she heard down there and needed to investigate.
Garrett was at the kitchen table, wearing a pair of ear buds that attached to his laptop. He'd bought them three days prior so he could examine the files without risking Matt and Rachel hearing something they shouldn't. He was in front of the computer now with the earphones plugged in, and he was laughing. Hard. So much so that moisture was coming from his eyes and he sounded mildly insane. Matt grabbed his shoulder to get his attention.
Wiping tears from his eyes, Garrett muted the computer, staring at the couple with a dazed grin on his face. "You remember the other voice? The one Rachel was listening to without the Hand's permission?"
"I couldn't find those files on the first drive, the one I got in Boston. But this," he pointed to a USB drive protruding from one of the ports. "This was from New York." Garrett yanked out the headphones, pulled the chord, and turned on the sound for the file he was listening to. "Surprise, surprise."
It was Stick's voice. Speaking words they couldn't understand, just like the guy from the Hand. But it was Stick's voice. Garrett kept laughing, almost hysterically.
They talked a lot the next day, about a lot of things. Garrett's theory was that Stick faked his death, that he orchestrated the destruction of the Compound.
"It was a test. He disappeared so he could see how the organization fared without him. At the same time, he kept playing Roshi in that endless chess game for control of the Treasure. And when he comes out of the woodwork and sees his guys running around like headless chickens, the shit's going to hit the fan."
"If he knew Rachel was in danger, he would've taken her out of there."
Garrett had given her a funny look. "E, not trying to bring up stale crap, but he intentionally put Abby's life in danger so he could prove a point to you."
Garrett had a point. The adults argued back and forth about what it all meant. Garrett kept insisting that his brother was continuing to bullshit him, even from the grave. Matt pointed out that there was no telling when those files were created. Just because it was Stick's voice, didn't mean Stick was still around. Garrett hadn't gone for that.
"He's like Cher. Harder to kill than a super powered cockroach. Even if you want him gone, he never is."
They discussed future plans as well. Garrett had money now, and a list of Jimmy's real estate. He wanted to give Rachel a semblance of normality, but he also wanted to know what the fuck had been going on.
With the Kingpin running scared, there was nothing to do but go home and face the music. Matt and Elektra had no illusions of being able to step back into their lives as if nothing happened, but they couldn't hide here forever. Elektra in particular was exceedingly restless. Somehow, the men convinced her to give it a few more days. Chastity would have time to make sure her tracks were covered, that her bosses wouldn't arrest her the minute she hit American soil, than she could bring Foggy back to the States.
At some point, Matt left to check on Abby, leaving Garrett and Elektra to fight again. He still wouldn't tell her what he knew, that the gun had been empty, that Abby may have known this. She may have known this, or she may not have, she may have decided to spare Bullseye's life, spare herself the guilt of ending it. Or she may have fully intended to kill him, realizing too late that the gun was cleared. Garrett wouldn't tell Elektra this, so Elektra was unhappy with him. Garrett was feeling particularly shitty that day, and wasn't in the best of moods.
"You want to burn the house down?"
"When we leave? Yes."
"There's blood all over everything. Evidence. My blood, Bullseye's."
"It's cleaned up."
"Not really, not well enough."
"So your solution is to burn the house down. Isn't that a tad excessive?"
"Excessive was you pumping three bullets into a corpse."
"Bullseye's corpse. Bullseye's. That was caution. You're talking paranoia."
"Too cautious is better than not cautious enough."
Garrett made a few snide remarks, but eventually he agreed. He didn't get why Elektra had to be so extreme about everything, but he didn't much care about the house either. He imagined he could smell Bullseye's stink in it, and he had no intentions of coming back.
The breakdown Elektra anticipated finally came. She'd been using a crutch to hobble to the bathroom when Matt stopped her in the bedroom doorway.
"I know," Elektra snapped. "Call if I need help. I don't need help." She was a little banged up, she wasn't an invalid.
Matt shook his head, talking in urgent tones. "Come here."
He helped her the few steps from their room to Abby's, but hung back after that. Abby didn't usually accept comfort from him. He wasn't part of the bond she and Elektra had formed.
With one hand on the crutch and one hand on the doorframe, Elektra surveyed the scene in front of her. It was only 9:00 at night, but the light switch for Abby's room was already turned off. Abby was curled into a fetal position on the bed, covered with every blanket in the house. She wasn't crying, but her breathing was rough and uneven. Matt made sure Elektra got to the bed okay, then disappeared.
Abby didn't seem aware of Elektra's presence, even when the mattress shifted under her added weight. Only when her mentor spoke her name did the teen seem to come back to herself.
With her back to Elektra and her chin near her chest. Abby tried desperately to still the tremors wracking her frame. She shook harder. Elektra placed a soft hand on her rigid muscles, and Abby let out a sob. "I can't stop shaking."
"I know," Elektra murmured, shifting so that she could hold the teen properly. It was awkward and painful due to her injuries, but Elektra barely noticed the discomfort.
"I can't get warm," Abby whimpered, an edge of panic in her voice.
"I know," Elektra repeated, tightening her hold and making soothing patterns on Abby's spine. There was no point telling her it was the shock setting in, a delayed reaction that would've come sooner or later, no matter how long she tried suppressing it.
"Elektra?" She was crying and trying not to. The panic in her voice was easier to hear.
"I'm right here," Elektra promised, echoing what Garrett said to Rachel at least twice a day. "We're okay," she promised, echoing Matt's words to her. "We're okay, we're alive. That's all that matters."
"I can't get warm," Abby repeated, not used to having her body out of her control.
Abby's breathing was too harsh, too ragged, too fast. "Abby, Abby slow down for a minute. Just relax. Just give yourself a minute."
"Elektra," she pleaded.
"I'm right here. Just relax for me, just for a minute. It'll be over in a minute, just hang in…"
It took longer than a minute. Elektra stayed there until Abby fell asleep. She must've drifted off herself, because when she opened her eyes, Matt was lifting her from the bed.
"Abby…" she murmured, only half-awake.
"Shhh," Matt whispered, kissing her forehead and brushing the hair from her eyes. "She's fine. Sleep."
Some part of her realized that Abby would be embarrassed by what happened, that that embarrassment wouldn't be helped if the teen woke up with her guardian in her bed. Sparing a glance through the dark to make sure Abby was indeed asleep, Elektra gave in to temptation and followed Matt's advice.
They burned the house two nights later. Garrett found gasoline and matches. He didn't tell Elektra where he planned to be after this and she didn't ask. Better if she didn't know. They had a bit of time before the firemen descended, and they all watched the flames, transfixed.
Matt stood next to Elektra, one arm keeping her steady on her feet. His blank eyes looked strange in the firelight. He seemed to be looking towards the woods, where they'd put Bullseye. Garrett had shot him three extra times after digging the grave. Then he'd filled it and spit on the ground. Blood had come from his mouth.
Abby was on Elektra's other side. She'd gone back to not talking much. Her expression was hard to read in the shadows cast by the flames.
Garrett was holding Rachel's hand. The child hadn't asked why they were committing arson. Rachel seemed to have learned not to ask too many questions. As Garrett liked to say, kids were adaptable.
Garrett himself looked a little pale, bathed in orange light. He'd had another nosebleed while he was spreading gas through the house. Elektra tried not to think of how much Bullseye bled right before he died.
Shaking her head, Abby broke away from the others, heading towards the vehicles parked nearby. "Let's get the hell out of here," she declared flatly.
Wilson Fisk boarded a private jet on a deserted air strip he'd acquired six months earlier. Phillips, his assistant, talked incessantly as Wilson sat in the nearest seat. He'd had them specially fitted to accommodate his size.
"Of course we have the lawyers working overtime, but there are a lot of charges, and given your previous record-"
"I understand," Fisk stated. Remaining in the country wasn't an option anymore. "Any leads on Maya?"
"I'm afraid not sir."
Despite the best efforts of his best people, there was nothing on Maya since that man took her from the hospital. The same man who'd helped Murdock escape, turned himself in, then escaped police custody. His identity was still uncertain, as was his motivation for kidnapping Maya. "Find some leads then."
"Of course sir. Forgive me, but you haven't told the pilot where to go, and we can't stay here much longer."
Fisk leaned back in his seat, pulling a cigar from his jacket pocket. Lighting it, he addressed Phillips while staring out of the small window. "Japan. I haven't been there in awhile, but there are people who'll help us in Japan."
"Understood sir, I'll let the pilot know."
(other) Author's Note: So, a year and a bit and 200,000 words later, there you go. As I've said before, this thing exploded into its own little monster. I did some of what I wanted to do, then it kind of wrote itself after awhile. However, it wouldn't have continued to write itself if you guys hadn't been so incredibly patient and supportive and just downright awesome, so thank you. This was an interesting story for me on a couple of levels. One, it was the first time I really tried to inject some humor into things. I don't know how well that went over, but it was fun to do. Two, the whole plotline with Garrett. Man, Garrett was in here a heck of a lot more than he was originally supposed to be. Again, I don't know how I feel about that, nor do I know how you guys feel, but that's what reviews are for. When all's said and done, this is the most fun I've had writing a story, and the hardest I've ever worked on a story. I hope the effort shows.
So obviously the groundwork's there if you guys still care for a sequel. Like I said, there are plotlines that didn't get explored the way I wanted them to. And I realize that I left the characters in an ambiguous place. No happy family ending scenes like in the first two. Whether you want a continuation or not, I'd really appreciate some reviews. If you've been waiting to pass judgment 'til the very end, then judge and judge harshly! You guys know the drill, what you liked, what you hated, what you want more or less of if the series goes on. Some writers, better ones than me, are above begging for reviews. I am not, especially when it comes to the completion of a story.
Now you see why I split my ramblings into two parts? The ramblings are longer than the actual chapter. Seriously, this one meant a lot to me guys, and it means even more that you took time to read it. Whether this particular series goes on or not, I will most certainly keep writing for the fandom. Creature of habit and all that. See you guys next time.