2007-08-07: DF: Firestorms

Starring:

DFElena_icon.gif DFMcAlister_icon.gif

Cameo By:

Eric_icon.gif

Summary:

Love and life and existence as a Saint - and a flash of that legendary Gomez temper.

August 7th, 2009

Firestorms


Basement Levels, Phoenix Rising Penthouses

You know, Eric's systems are nothing if not thorough, if largely unobtrusive. Late last night, the door pass system recorded the Voice leaving after most of the rest of the Saints were abed or buried in code (does Gene /ever/ sleep?) - and cameras showed her dressed in her usual unobtrusive street-garb, moving slowly and carefully out into the night. And they filmed her return and noted it, several hours later, when - utterly exhausted (she wasn't all that well to start with) she found her way home again.

Here it is early afternoon, and - well. She's finally not asleep, anymore. Music comes from the woman's room - 80's sugar rock. The Bangles, in fact, discussing a certain hazy shade of wintertime at length and with good guitar, even if the portable speakers Ali's using to reproduce it are tinny and barely working. As for the DJ herself?

She's dressed. Up and mobile, puttering in the 'galley' where the music's just /barely/ reaching, humming along around the occasional cough. Er. Doing dishes. A mundane chore - but one, oddly, she seems to relish (at last if the smile's any indication).

In contrast to Ali, the security systems picked up Elena, Gene, Prime, and Eric leaving and dragging some equipment out along with them at around 11:00 pm on August 6th. Only Prime and Gene returned around 4:00 am of August 7th. Elena and Eric haven't arrived with them - either whatever they were doing had caused them to split up, or the Saints' second-in-command opted to take a detour and the young man, as always, wasn't about to leave without her.

But the systems register their return now, still dressed in the black garb they had on the evening before. Both look exhausted, but in good spirits. They seem to be…well. SNICKERING over something. They still have the tranq guns they left with, but so far they look empty handed, except for Elena. Elena has a package under one arm.

What were the terrible foursome UP TO?!

(Stay tuned for the log of these shenanigans)

They part ways at the hall, Eric going to his room, and Elena making a beeline to Ali's. She knocks on the door, and waits.

… of course, Ali's up the hall. Doesn't stop a blonde head from poking around the wall, and her bawling, happily.. "WHAT? GOD." And coughing. Around a grin.

And adding, "C'mere. I made /popcorn/." High nutrition this ain't.. though it likely does stretch the absolute limit of the woman's cooking skill.

She had a late night. She was tired, but she can't help but try and keep a grin from curling on her face. Mischief dances in her eyes. If all goes well, like Elena predicts, whatever they did was going to be ALL OVER YOUTUBE by this afternoon, if not right now. But when Ali opens the door, she hands her a package.

"A George Dawson dropped this off for you." Well, dropped it off in a trashcan rigged for the purposes of her intercepting questionable material from the Saints so SHE could check them before handing them to the recipient. "We need to talk."

She comes in and closes the door behind her. "How well do you know the guy?" she asks, mirth leaving her face for the moment as she looks at the Voice.

Popcorn is offered. "Not very? he's in town on business - we probably could have dated a couple years back." And you know? As this turns into conversation, Ali drifts over to a chair, settling in it with a sort of relieved sigh. But - yes. She's eating now. Eric's cook sees to that.

"I saw him coming through Central Park, near the refugee market." Near Lennon's 'Imagine' stone, of course. One of her haunts. "He stopped and talked - he's more serious now. Looks pretty good in a suit. Said he was just in town for a few days." She frowns, raising a brow. "Why? I wasn't planning on trusting him - I didn't even figure he'd come through. But if he did, I figured maybe he'd be willing to pick up other small stuff." The package is carefully opened. But.. no, she's not looking at the contents, yet. "you know how it goes."

Louis Escrima was a typical Filipino. He would smile and be obliging…until you decide not to eat. Especially when you decide not to eat food prepared for you by his own hands. Then the dragon comes out. People don't like it when the dragon comes out. Hopefully Ali hasn't seen it yet, it could be horrific, tragic, or hilarious. Or all of the above.

Elena takes a seat across Ali, handing her the package. "I don't know what these are - baby books it looks like. For Cass's kid? I ran into him yesterday, granted I knew of him two years ago. He worked for the Petrelli campaign. Hei…" Pain lances suddenly over her heart. Heidi. Oh god, Heidi… "Heidi pointed him out to me in a club one night. Did you know he was Homeland Security?"

She rakes her hand through her hair, leaning back and closing her eyes. She was tired. She wanted a shower and a backrub but both didn't look to be in sight anytime soon. "He knows -about- you." Different from 'he knows you.' "He knows you're affiliated with us. Your meeting might not have been a coincidence - even if it might've been, but always assume the worst. Just be careful if you run into him again. Whatever info you have on him, let me know, I'll put it on a file and circulate it." Like she did with Erin.

No - she hasn't. But then? Ali's been good - /something/ put the Fear of … something in her. Or the like.

Her eyes narrow, though - at that. "He /is/, huh?" And then, bluntly. "Want me to turn him?" Worn she may be, one of the softest-hearted of the Saints - but.. there's still that core in her. That easy expediency, the part that lets her talk Homeland agents into giving up … everything.. without losing sleep. "And yeah. that was the plan - It's not like I'm going to get Jack to run Dr. Seuss alongside ammo. He'd get laughed out of the arms dealer's conventions or something." And.. she offers a hand. "You okay?"

The idea has some merit. When Ali proposes it, Elena's eyes take on a thoughtful cast, turning away to stare at the wall, as if she'll be able to divine its secrets. Prime, Eric, Peter…they knew it was a habit of hers, especially when she starts toying with a lock of her hair absently, twirling it around tight with a pinky finger, and then letting go. She was thinking. Seriously thinking. When she finally speaks up she focuses on Ali again and smiles. "No," she says. "…at least. Not yet. We were in the same room together and nothing blew up. It's promising, but at the same time he could be playing games, or playing games by not playing games." If that makes any sense. "But we know who he is and what he is…if trouble comes up from his end, I'll have him chained up and put him in the same room as you."

The idea of Jack buying Dr. Seuss….anything makes her snicker a bit. "Don't worry about it. You didn't know, it happens. But now you -do- know, and at least we know the face of one of them. And we know that he's privy to terrorist files in the agency. That's important." She clasps Ali's hand lightly, giving a squeeze. "I'm okay. Just a long….." Month? Months? When was the last time she -actually- slept and had not been forced to do so by injury? "You? How's the coughing?"

"Hurts. Getting better. I don't know if Erin set it up to die or if Cass tore it apart - but one way or another, it's getting better." The Voice looks Elena over, thoughtful, squeezing back. "I know it's not in you - but you really. Really. need to take a day off. I mentioned to Trina that we should take advantage of the place and do bad movies and ice cream - and I'm still not kidding."

That offered, and after a moment's pause, she moves on, "I caught Peter last night. The train wasn't planned - and he seemed sincere about it. I even managed to get him to smile once - " Very seriously. "the Petrelli in the White House is gettin' more serious, isn't he. Erin after me - this thing with the trains and the media - George. I don't like that math."

At the squeeze, Elena glances down. There was a bit of darkness behind those striking eyes, but typical of their second-in-command, if it was bad, and personal, she isn't saying anything. She was the second head of the snake. Angel. Jack's Smirking Revenge. She had been pretty bad at showing any sort of weakness back when she was a teenager, she was worse now that she was in a leadership position where she was looking after a lot of people. "I'll think about it," she offers, a small smile at Ali's direction.

This, of course, promptly dies when she mentions Petrelli.

"Of course the train wasn't planned," comes the low growl. There were times when the fact that she was the firstborn of "Raging" Ramon "Sarge" Gomez was quite obvious. This was one of them. "Just as the dozens of other people under his command dying wasn't planned. Convenient, yeah, him finding just the perfect excuse for everything?"

She takes a deep breath. "I'm sorry. As for Punktrelli." Peter was Petrelli. Nathan was Punktrelli. Prime's influence. She smirks. "Check out Youtube at some point today and type in 'Oreo Caper'." Oreos? Didn't Nathan discontinue those in a federal edict last year?

The two are seated just inside Ali's room - the door closed and the Bangles declaring that everybody should walk like denezens of the Nile Basin. Ali isn't /quite/ ready to let go of Elena's hand, either.

"Of course he does. He has power like none of us do, and absolutely zero foresight in using it. He likes the big flash and bang and hasn't figured out the people he takes with him /aren't/ going to live forever." And people say she's ditzy. Hmmph. "He's also half-assed, at best. He can be invisible. Be /gone/. And if he hates his brother so badly, how come he hasn't just grabbed him and ripped his head off? I keep asking, he keeps dodging the question. But if we can't stop him, I'm going to use him. Because he is /going/ to do things - and there's always somebody willing to do it his way. And if he keeps splashing the media, it'd better be for a damned good reason - 'cause every time he does something like that, we end up with suppliers chickening out and people on the street looking at us funny."

Ali takes a breath — and just.. coughs. Long and hard for a moment; her voice is still hoarse, and no. She's not well yet. Doesn't change that fire. "So. What, Sleepless in Seattle on Tuesday? We'll make Eric go find a copy. And I'll look."

She lets her hand be held - the comfort was welcome. Elena didn't really have a lot of female friends, and her relationship with Ali in comparison to Cass or Heidi was very new. The thought of Heidi causes her chest to tighten again, and the urge to destroy something in the gym before crying her eyes out was overwhelming, but she remains that same, stubbon, concrete composure as she sits there.

But when Ali defends Peter, this is when she lets go. It is gentle, at least, and it's not like she snatches her hand away. She strides to…well, there are no windows, but she does examine one of the posters Ali has up in her walls. "Punktrelli was always a special case," she begins. "Even back in the time when I knew Petrelli well. They're connected, to the point where taking one out would take half the other out." Back in the time when she was actually in love with the Resistance's monster. And that's all she will say about him right now. She hated Petrelli so much, vitriol would turn into gas and permeate out of her pores if she kept going, possibly killing the small furry animals several floors up.

"As for the suppliers running away from us…" She looks at Ali, and smirks. "Well. You're around to coax them to come back."

Movie night again. She hesitates… "….alright," she says slowly. But…Sleepless in Seattle?! Couldn't they watch something like Bad Boys? Die Hard? Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Maybe she can pretend to enjoy the movie and insert her own dialogue and scenes inside her head…

* * *

"YOU'LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE YOU BITCH!" Tom Hanks roars at the top of the Space Needle, firing his Desert Eagles towards Meg Ryan.

Meg somersaults, does a double back-flip, and fires three blades in Tom Hanks's general direction. "ALL I WANT IS YOUR LOVE, BABY."

* * *

Okay. Maybe not. BUT IT COULD HAPPEN.

There are only three posters. One's a huge one put out as a promo by Nelvania back in the 80's - it's a creepy thin animated guy in goggles, with no hair and a lab coat, with "MOC" in bloody script underneath. "ONE NIGHT ONLY," It goes on to say, "OHMTOWN POWER PLANT." The other? Brendan Frazier in the Mummy. Back off. He's cute. And the last one?

The last one's an art print. It's a midieval angel, raising a trump over Jericho - circa 1300; a photograph that Ali's kept since the beginning of all this.

But the DJ stands, slowly, with one more cough.. and follows Elena, much slower, and worry crossing her features as she does. For a brief moment, she even goes to offer a hug - her hands move - but then, she stops, uncertain. Then? Screw it. She does - not that a hug from a recovering SARSaholic wouldn't be dodgeable. But hey. "Yes. Damnit. Something suitably girlie that will make Prime and Eric and Jack hide in the radio room for a while or something. Then we put on Hot Fuzz. Or whatever."

She smiles at the Mummy Poster. Yes, Brendan Fraser is hot. Elena if asked would admit it. She's not made out of stone…even if she could act like it sometimes. But the print from the 1300 stops her. She recognizes the story depicted, she was Catholic after all. It was an old testament story. She remembered the tale of Joshua and his Israelites beating the city dwellers in their own game by literally stomping their yard.

When she turns around, she's glomped by Ali. She's a little taken a back. Most of the hugs she gets these days are from Eric and Prime, people she's known for years. Not someone so new. But she does hug back after a few moments. "Alright, well, if you really want to keep them away you'd get something with a song and dance number. ….so long as it's not Moulin Rouge because I think Prime's got a thing for Nicole Kidman."

"You just looked like you needed it." Ali allows, and.. then takes a step back, with a warm smile. "You pick. I'll watch. And in exchange, I'll even eat ice cream." Oh, the sacrifices.

"So. You /are/ going to get some sleep, right? Tonight. Or do I have to be convincing?"

"-Oh-, in -that case-," Elena says with a rare, but honest laugh. "Alright alright alright. I'll pick a girlie movie." But when Ali implies that she use her powers to tell her to go to bed, she shakes her head.

"No, not necessary - I'll take a quick bath though…soak in the tub for a bit. I need a backrub something fierce. Maybe I could convince Papa to send me down one of those spa chairs with the rotating balls on the backrest." No. No persuasion powers. She had been traumatized a bit on that, the scars Carter left behind faded, but not forgotten.

And.. she wouldn't anyway. Not to a Saint - but.. the teasing is light nonetheless. "I would offer, but I'm not giving in to any of Prime's fantasies. Ever. Not a one. Even if I do owe you for the New Yorker." And… Ali, well - she heads back for that chair, settling into it with obvious relief. And with simple curiosity, she asks - "You and Jack and Trina new Eric from - well. Before, right?"

Eric. Elena hesitates….as always when it came to the personal. She knew she had a complex. It was okay for people to come to her, sobbing, wretched masses yearning to be comforted and taken care of, but the other way around? She didn't really know why, it was just the way she was. "…through me," she says finally. "Eric and I went to the same school together. We met my freshman year in NYU. He was my Calc TA. Was always terrible at math." She leaves out everything else. "Why?"

Elsewhere:

Meanwhile! In the Armory shooting range! Eric Walker takes careful aim downrange with his custom made Ruger pistols. Slowly and carefully, just like he's done a hundred thousand times. He aims, breathes out, squeezes the trigger…

And sneezes one violently for no damn reason whatsoever.

The three round burst missing the target compleatly at Eric stares in shock downrange before grumbling and grabbing a second clip.

And back in Ali's room:

Ali actually laughs, softly, at that. "Being terrible at math isn't a bad thing. Not everbody's able to do theoretical matrix sets in their head. I hate to break that to you. Fact of life. I mean.." She grows a bit long-suffering, wry…"I /know/ you have to put up with us riff-raff, O Genius."

Teasing? Oh, dear lord, yes. But she actually - wait. Is that the tiniest sample of a blush? Yes. "Just curious, I guess. He's a nice guy - when you get past the fact he can buy Argentina. Everybody else knows him - and I .. well. Don't."

There is silence. Elena's moments of indecision are rare. Second-in-command, ops, strategy, taking care of everyone else…it consumed her waking hours, she had to be capable of making quick and logical decisions right there. Right now. But now she was torn…find an excuse to RUN AWAY like she usually does, or just answer the damned question.

"….when we met he…I thought he was just a guy. I didn't know he was a Lancaster. His father ran what was then one of the biggest technological firms in the world. He changed his last name because he didn't want himself tied to the money. He wanted to make his own way. Not out of ego or anything like that…it was…just the way he was. He wanted people to respect him for him."

She leaves out her crush, breaking in the Company facility when Padfoot got killed. She leaves out the mess she tried to muddle through between herself, Peter, and Eric, or how it had been easier to leave then stick to her guns and give one of them the only thing they really wanted from her. Typical of the wired generation, in the immortal words of pop phrases past, she dared to be…well. Stupid.

"But he's always been a nice guy." She pauses. "…Ali…if you're interested, you should tell him. There…what we do. People in our line of work don't exactly have a long shelf life." As much as she knows there's a voice inside her head mocking her about how she never takes her own advice, she can't. She had people to lead. Jack can coordinate from a distance, he was head honcho for a reason. Their general. They weren't supposed to go to battle because they were too important to lose. She was a field leader. "What do you have to lose, yeah?"

"More him." Ali shrugs, slightly. "Elena? I haven't had a date in.. god. Three years?" And.. she stands again. Carefully - moving to the battered messenger bag tossed to the side, ear the door. "When I first figured out what I was doing to people… I didn't have control. George asked me out once, a while back - and to this day I can't tell you if it's because I said something wrong or if he was actually, you know, interested. Turns out he ended up doing something else entirely - and it's not like he was crushed. So - I still think it's probably the first half." A wry grin, and she crouches there, unsteadily.

"And ever since all this started?" Abruptly, her tone.. trends more to the gentle, careful - "If they catch all of us - /if/ it happens. You know that .." … she's the public face? It has its own implications. "Well. Yeah." And out of that bag comes a much folded, much creased bit of paper - and that she offers back to Elena, standing and crossing slowly to the chair again. "I do this right now 'cause I don't have anything left to lose. I guess I don't want to entertain the possibility of having something."

The letter - for it is a letter - is addressed anonymously, on Homeland Security letterhead. And it's a simple thing - it offers to trade herself for two prisoners, a man and woman with listed detainment numbers. And it's dated a little over a year back.

"No." Elena's delicate face hardens at that - well it doesn't really, she doesn't have the face for it. It's where her battle moniker comes from. But her jaw does set. "That's never going to happen." The rise of temper might be irrational, the golden flecks on her eyes brightening ferally and her cheeks flushing across her cheekbones. "I'm not grinding my own heart, soul, and bones to ash over all of you and ignoring everything I could've ever wanted for myself…rest, books, an education, Love… just so that could happen. I'll die first, and take all of those goddamned bastards with me. No one takes a Saint from me and lives to tell about it. NOBODY!"

The roar in her ears lifts in a crescendo. Whoa. Who knew Elena would snap like that over something that seems so small. But the Saints…she gave up almost everything she was, everything she ever wanted, just to keep all of them in hopes that one day, everything will be over or that even now they'd have a chance to cut out a piece of heaven for themselves in this hells-damned place. The Saints were her heart. The Saints were her soul. If she lost them…

She takes a deep breath. But she takes the paper and restrains the urge to EAT IT in front of Ali. Yeah, that's right. She'll actually wad it up, douse it in ketchup, and swallow it in front of her if …she actually had a ketchup bottle handy so she shoves it in her pocket instead. "If they're still alive we'll find them and we'll break them out," she says. "I know it was a year ago, and I'm glad you never sent this. But if you ever pull something like this on my watch….so don't. Okay? There's always a choice."

"Elena.." Ali offers that, gently - "I didn't take the offer. I'm still here. They're not." And, seated - she offers both hands to the woman. "THey left that for me at one of the transmitter stations before Gene hit on spreading them out so much."

It was homeland security letterhead, after all.

"It's okay. It's alright." Soothing - but there's no compulsion in it. "But it's.. you know? Why I don't think about it much, anymore. That's all." She takes a breath - looking /worried/. "I made my choices. Pop would have killed me for choosing differently if he knew. I just never answered - and we are /not/ going to go find them. Chances are they're not alive anyway, and if they are - I will /not/ risk anyone to get them. I'm not special. They're not any different than anybody else."

At the offered hands, Elena doesn't take them. Her furious eyes are locked on Ali's face, breathing raggedly - a dangerous storm or some fiery force of nature caged in her slender body.

"You should," she says. "Think about it. I do what I do so I could try and make sure the rest of you are able to carve out some semblance of happiness out here. If one of my Saints should die, I want them to see something happy and recent before their candle snuffs. I heard that your entire life flashes before your eyes before you die, having something that makes you happy until the day you do so would ensure you go with a smile than tears over the things you wish you could do over."

She knew because that had been where she was headed, for a time. But now if she had to go, she knew the things she would see in those flashes. Her father and Dezi's wedding. That day in Disneyland with Jaden. Trina and Jack slowdancing in one of the very rare keggers the Saints threw after a giant operation. And Spain. Beautiful, so-far-away Spain, sharing a single glass of Sangria.

But her expression softens, she reaches out to squeeze her hand. And then, she turns to head out the door.

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