2007-11-23: Desk Nor Field

Starring:

Bob_icon.gif Elle_icon.gif

Summary: An under-the-weather Elle gets some new orders.

Date It Happened: November 23rd, 2007

Desk Nor Field


Bob's Office

New York City

Bob Bishop is frowning. Contrary to his appearance, which is well-suited to frowning as a default moue, he isn't always frowning. The office that he's forced in, a far cry from his former office full of rich antiques and things that belonged to him alone, and instead filled with shades as drab as Primatech Paper and a small, cramped desk, makes Bob Bishop frown. The headlines on the issue of the New York Times sitting on said desk, detailing a virus outbreak in the city, make Bob Bishop frown. The lukewarm coffee he sips at from a complimentary Yamagato Industries cup makes Bob Bishop frown, but he drinks it anyway, seemingly out of habit as he glowers down at the newspaper, the black receiver of a phone pressed to his ear, listening to voice messages.

If she had known before coming this far that he was in this kind of mood, Elle might have stayed away. She might not have bothered him with what she has to say right this second, and instead kept it for a better time. But she doesn't know what kind of a mood he's in, and, well, she's frustrated. So it is that she rounds the corner and knocks on the doorframe, waiting there to be asked in.

She looks like death - or very nearly, anyway. Her fair skin is paler still, dark circles have formed beneath her eyes, and she looks like she might have lost weight. She's dressed too warm for the temperature of the building, but she doesn't seem to notice. Still, she's here, standing in the doorway, waiting. Her voice is ragged when she asks, "Got a minute?"

Bob takes a sip of his slowly chilling coffee before giving an answer. He first makes a foul face, not looking away from the newspaper, or moving the phone away from his ear, then says, "Come in, Elle." He doesn't look up until he hears the door open. And lo, another cause to frown. "You look horrible. Close the door behind you."

The door is closed with a quiet click, and Elle crosses the room to sit in one of the chairs facing his desk. The minute she's seated, she sinks down some and wraps her arms around herself, hunching her shoulders. "I don't look that bad," she protests, though even she knows it's a lie. She doesn't insult him with the suggestion that it's just the flu that's been travelling through the office. Fixing a level stare on her father, she pauses for a second, watching his face. "I haven't been given an assignment for a week that wasn't just desk work. Thought maybe you might know why."

Bob, who calmly presses a button on the rather high-tech phone sitting on his desk, finally hanging up on the voicemail system, regards Elle steadily. His glower has not left. He folds his hands one on top of the other. "You ought to know why, Elle. Just look at you." There is, if one listens closely, a rivulet of concern in those words rather than flat-out insulting the young woman for looking like hell cooled over. "Realistically, I should have relieved you of desk duty also, days ago. Where you should be is a hospital bed."

"I'm fine." Defiant as always, Elle sits up straighter in her seat, as if to prove a point. Never mind the way the room is tilting around her, or the way her stomach twists into knots when a colleague walks by with a cup of coffee and the smell of it hits her. "I can still work," she insists, frowning some the way a child might when refused something by a parent. "I got you that precog." … A week ago, with help, but that's not the *point.*

"And I'm glad, the information you gained from Ms. Hanner may prove to be invaluable, but you weren't at your best then and you're only getting worse. You have a serious virus, Elle." Let's not beat around the bush. Behind his glasses, Bob's eyes never stray from his stubborn offspring. "I can't have you out on the field while you're off your game. Especially not with Sylar still at large. You're a walking target. Furthermore, you could be putting others at risk if you're not careful."

Clenching her jaw tight, Elle regards her father with a strangely patient sort of irritation. She tenses when he mentions Sylar's name, but it slowly eases out of her muscles as she leans back in the chair again. "I could still take him," she says, her voice lowered, knowing she shouldn't even say it. Tempting fate, and all of that. After taking a moment to pout childishly, she composes herself, changing her tone now to a more familial one. Less employee-to-boss, more girl-to-father. "I know I'm sick, Daddy, but I'm not going to sit around in a hospital bed waiting to get worse. Let me do something."

Bob's mouth straightens into a thin, tense line as he listens to Elle. He's clear that he's considering something, which at least indicates he's taking her plea seriously, but he's silent for some time before revealing his inner workings. Finally, he sits back further against his office chair. "The people Suresh are working with," that is, that aren't of this company, "Are trying to devise a cure. Now, I don't entirely trust his judgment when it comes to sharing results in full. These people have tendencies to go against our Company. However, they could be endeared a little by a face of desperation." Elle may not be at her physical best, but Bob has faith in her acting skills. "There's just one problem."

As Bob speaks, there are several thoughts running through Elle's mind, including the knowledge that the group he speaks of has cured at least one person. She'd already considered going to them and asking them to cure her; being relegated to desk work, however, she opted against doing anything that might have gotten her reprimanded even further. Now, she sits forward in her seat, listening more attentively than she had before. "Problem?"

"Let me rephrase. Two problems." Bob steeples his fingers, tapping them together and pointing the closest pair, his pointer fingers, at Elle. "One, while you were away on assignment, your… replacement… had some less-than-flattering encounters with a key member of this little medical team, not to mention one of those in their homemade quarantine. Two…" The man sighs, his gaze darkening on Elle, weighed down. He leans over the desk — this second problem must be important — and underneath the unflattering light from the ceiling lamp. He looks tired all of a sudden, the furrows in his brow and wrinkles on his face seeming deeper, or maybe it's just the light shining down on his bald head and creating shadows. Whatever the case, Bob actually appears reluctant to continue along this line of thought. He lays it down all the same. "There is no cure for this virus. I know that. The Company knows that. If Suresh, the Aldrics and the others think they've found one, they either do know something we don't, or they're deluding themselves."

"Encounters?" If Elle is aware of the stories her father heard, she's certainly putting on a convincing act otherwise. Her own frown returning, she tilts her head to one side, both suspicious and concerned. Her opinion of the woman who took her place is clear as day as she snorts derisively, just barely resisting the urge to roll her eyes. "Is there anything my 'replacement' did that wasn't a mistake? What did she do?"

"She certainly took your less becoming attributes to extremes, and got into a good bit of trouble, I might add," Bob answers sourly. "You should be familiar with Cassandra Aldric, you met her recently? Did she harbour any ill will? Your replacement did a number on her bookstore. She also attacked Elena Gomez, who has contracted the virus. I'm honestly not sure the extent of the trauma that occurred, but suffice to say they won't trust you at first. However, I have faith in your ability to show them a…" He pauses to choose the perfect phrasing. "Softer side of Elle."

"Fantastic." This is Elle's sarcastic voice. (It sounds a lot like her normal voice.) Shifting in her seat, she pulls her sweater tighter around herself, a chill overtaking her for a few seconds. "It'll work," she says, sounding quite sure of herself. "Peter is worried about me. If I show up begging for help, he'll do it." But it triggers another thought: if he really did have a cure, and it worked for others, would his girlfriend still be sick? A frown flashes across her face, but half a second later it's gone. She plants both hands against the arms of the chair and shoves up from the seat. "I'll see what I can find out."

"Excellent. They'll be watching you like hawks — don't try anything too risky unless you're absolutely certain you're in the clear." Bob also gets to his feet. "Oh, and Elle? Don't waste any time." This is his way of saying 'don't overwork yourself' or 'be careful, you're sick'. That and… the man does sincerely hope there's some unlikely way for this virus to be cured. If not…

If not, she's probably going to die. Elle can do the math, and she doesn't need any help reading the expression on her father's face. "I won't," she says, nodding her head slowly. It's all the reassurance he's going to get from her, of course; to offer any more would be admitting that she's as sick as he suggests. At first, she turns away, prepared to leave. Before even taking a step, however, she looks back to Bob with a quick, wavering smile. "Thank you, Daddy." And then she's gone, the door closed behind her.

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