2008-02-02: Fly Away

Caution: contains Season 3 material


Angela_icon.gif Church_icon.gif Elle_icon.gif

Summary: Church takes Elle to meet with the Company, where Angela learns about how Bob died and tells Elle what the Company does, or doesn't, have planned for her.

Date It Happened: February 2nd, 2008

Fly Away

Angela Petrelli's Office

Company Headquarters, NYC

The office of Angela Petrelli is not the most cheerful place in the world. It's not unwelcoming; she does what she can to make an office below ground seem liveable, even comfortable, but even the yellow glow of lamps and light fixtures are a poor substitute for real sunlight. And so, the artificial light gives a shine to the dark, antique wood surfaces that are found everywhere, and in one of these glows basks the woman herself. In a charcoal-on-black pinstripe power suit, she stands in front of the massive bulletin board that hangs on the left wall. Maps, documents, photos, and a myriad of other important odds and ends are pinned there, ever-changing day by day.

Angela is not alone — but it's not the Haitian who stands in he office (although you can be he's in the hall). "That will be all, thank you," she tells a tall, dark-haired, dark-eyed woman, sparing a glance over her shoulder as she does so. The aide leaves.

Pushing Elle to the car, getting her in, getting her out, and then pushing her all the way through the bowels of Yamagato might be frustrating work for most- It is for Church too. The difference today is that he does his very best to weather it. It's Elle, after all. He's done worse for her than push her wheelchair around. As the two near Angela's office doors, the only souls in that hall seem to be the omnipresent Haitian man, and the aide that is just seeing fit to leave Mrs. Petrelli to her devices and go back from whence she came. It is only the former that Lawrence actually regards, and even that is with just a look of greeting and a brief smile. Sure, he is creepy- but Haitians need smiles too! Besides, that guy is pretty much part of the backdrop. Has been, for years.

He turns Elle's chair around as they near the office entrance. Lawrence glances down the hall, and sighs to himself before knocking on the hardwood doors, more than ready to hold them open for the temporarily crippled blonde.

If her conversation in the car with Gabriel and Peter is any indication, Elle has only regained some of her composure since leaving the hospital. But there's a lot to be said for motivation, and she certainly does have that; with no desire to witness yet another confrontation between Gabriel and the Company, or Peter and the Company for that matter, she is rushing. Or she would be, if she could make Lawrence push any faster. "You could've gone faster," she mutters beneath her breath, folding her arms.

The wheelchair is a necessity thanks to the cast on her lower leg. While she'll be able to use crutches to move around, right now she is still somewhat lost in a medicated fog. Her shirt does little to conceal the ugly bruise around her neck, nor does she seem self-conscious about it.

That part of the backdrop gives Church a subtle nod of acknowledgment and nothing else, his gaze returning to the wall across from him a moment later. The Haitian must be very in tune with his zen.

Angela adjusts a pin on the board before acknowledging the presence of someone in the corridor. Then, she crosses the distance to the heavy doors, which she opens. "I take it you decided on the scenic route from the hospital?" she makes a jab at the late hour, regarding them with an expression that, at best, for her, is neutral. Granted, Angela Petrelli's 'neutral' is what other people classify as 'unimpressed'. "Come in," she tells the motley pair succinctly. Abandoning the door, she strides for her desk.

At first, Church debates not answering that. But then he promptly and duly remembers that Elle is still on the remnants of what the hospital was slipping her. "I thought about it. But it turns out that leg casts really are as ungainly as they appear to be." He smiles, pulling Elle inside just before he finishes speaking. He turns her back around again, waiting to push the girl closer once it is clear where Angela is either going to be standing or sitting for this entire… meeting. Is that the best word? Maybe not, but it is the only one that Lawrence's brain has on hand.

For a few minutes today, Elle has been able to forget about everything that has happened to her in the last few weeks, and those few minutes were thanks to the man now maneuvering her wheelchair around Yamagato. That's why, when he teases her, she slants her head back and makes a face at him— then promptly smiles.

The smile disappears, albeit slowly, when Elle's eyes flit to Angela. "I had to make a phone call," she explains in a matter-of-fact tone, resisting the urge now to roll her eyes. Professionalism. That's what she was taught to display. And she even does, on rare occasions. "Hey, Mrs. Petrelli."

Angela chooses not to sit at her desk, for the moment — she stands near its front corner, regarding the two of them. Her gaze falls down, mostly, onto the young woman in the wheelchair. "I'm very sorry to hear about your father," is the first thing she says directly to Elle. "His dedication to this company will be missed. You have my condolences. I've been made to understand you know more details about his passing?"

Elle is moved into a more final position between the chairs opposite Angela's desk, shortly before the woman begins again. Church stays behind her, for the most part; though his one hand not on the back of her wheelchair has perched just on the corner of the upholstered seat just to the right. The man says nothing else, likely waiting his turn or just for something to be aimed at him to answer.

Now the smile has faded completely from her face, replaced by an unreadable expression as Elle shifts in her seat. She had expected that Angela would want to know about her father's death, but being pulled back into her memories so immediately upon arrival still catches her off-guard.

"I don't know how much detail you even have," Elle replies to Angela, her tone much more laissez-faire than usual. "What do you know?"

"Pinehearst?" Angela's single-word answer — question, rather, but there's no mistaking that she's sure — may say it all. Then again, how much does she really know? She doesn't speculate on anymore details, not out loud. "You were there at the heart of it all. Let's get the details over with." As dismissive as it is, there's a hint of compassion in her voice, for one with trained ears to that sort of thing. Getting the grisly details out of the way first is like ripping off the band-aid. "Then we can talk about where you go from here."

At this point, Lawrence has his eyes mostly on Angela. There's an obviously harried look there, as she presses Elle to go first. He knows, but he doesn't say a word. This is Elle's conversation, but if the girl does turn out to be petulant or something, at least he knows what she does. Lastly he glances between the two women, especially because of the bosslady's last statement. That is the part he is dreading.

Truth be told, Elle isn't particularly accustomed to compassionate tones, so whatever sympathy Angela was attempting to display is largely unnoticed. She takes her time with her words, growing faintly more sober with each passing minute. The subject matter certainly helps.

"We went to Pinehearst to find the man who wanted my father dead a few months ago. Someone tricked us, split us up and made us see things. I thought my father was there with me. I— " Deep breath. "I hugged him, that's how real it was. I followed him upstairs. There was this… sound, like static, and he disappeared. Someone else was there instead."

Reluctant to go any further, Elle drops her gaze to her hands, fidgeting with the fabric of her shirt. "I saw my father in another room with— " Now she glances up to Angela for just a second, long enough to say the name, before her eyes skip away again. "— Arthur Petrelli. I tried to shock him, but I only got one out before I just— couldn't."

It takes a second or two before Elle can continue, brushing her hands over her cheeks. Her voice is shaky when she speaks. "The big guy had me by the neck. I couldn't breathe. Daddy wanted me to run, but I couldn't get free, and then Arthur touched him and… I don't know what he did. Made my father's ability backfire somehow. I don't really… remember what I did. I woke up in a car after that."

Angela stoically listens. There is not a single point on which she shows any outward surprise; and in true, is not surprised at all inwardly, either. Her expression only becomes more and more stern, and by the time Elle has finished her recounting, the Petrelli matriarch's eyes are dark. A storm is brewing. She looks to Church, acknowledging, sharing in his concerns, perhaps, before she replies to the young Bishop. "You should have called the Company. Before ever going to Pinehearst." Angela walks around the desk, standing in front of her chair. "Arthur is a very dangerous man when he wants to be. The fact that he's alive is bad news for all of us." Not just Bob, may he rest in peace.

"The fact that he's using Parkman only makes it worse." He knows she didn't miss it, but Lawrence finds fit to repeat that fact regardless. If there was one other man besides Arthur that he genuinely feared out of the Founders, it was Maury Parkman. The man's hand on the back of the chair shifts its already sturdy grasp. "How is Arthur alive? I went to his funeral." No more waiting to ask that; Church has had it on the fore of his mind ever since getting in the office doors.

"Should have but didn't," Elle replies quietly, and for once, her tone isn't defensive. There are a lot of things she 'should have' done. She should have waited for Peter, should have called the Company, should have this or that… and not a single one of them is going to bring her father back.

It's only when Church mentions the name 'Parkman' that Elle looks up at Angela again, her frown ever-present. "Do you have a picture of Parkman? I can tell you if it really was him. I don't really… remember him."

"I don't know." From Angela Petrelli, an admittance of not knowing something be telling enough of how dire the situation may be. As she speaks, she calmly opens a drawer of her desk, sifting through its contents. "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised," the woman says, caustically resentful. "When Arthur puts his mind to something, his will is great enough to avoid even death." Despite her best efforts. She hands a photo across the desk to Elle. It's a group shot of all the Founders. "It was Maury," she says, convinced even before Elle has a chance put a face to a name. "There was a lead I followed. Someone's been posing as Linderman. Only a few people knew Daniel well enough to do so, most of them are dead, and only two of them have the ability to control minds with that power. Hallucinations were always Maury's special talent."

Church watches Angela closely, his face pulled into frustrated worry during this. He has a frown at the new name. Daniel Linderman may have left something to be desired in his work and methods, but in the end he was always the nicer one out of them. They are dropping like flies, and Lawrence has to watch.

When in doubt, make things less serious. Even so, his tone is somewhat dry. "…and yet knowing he could avoid death, he couldn't even stay still for a picture." Which remains true.

In a matter of seconds, Elle has identified the man in the photograph, tapping a fingernail against the glass and holding it up to Church. "I'm guessing this is Maury," she remarks without the inflection of a question, turning it to Angela now for confirmation. "That's who was there."As she leans back against the chair, she folds her arms once more over her midriff, turning a sidelong glance to Church. "So." Almost hesitant to ask, she pauses for a brief second, her frown becoming more prominent. "What now?"

The comment from Church earns him a brief (and knowing) smirk from Angela, but it is incredibly short-lived. She sets the photo aside, folding her hands, dark brows simply lifting once as she nods in response to Elle. "Now," she says directly to the young woman, "You leave this all behind. There's nothing left for you. The Company has no use for you, no … nefarious plans to bring you back into it all. Now that your father is gone, you're free to live a normal life." Angela pauses to give Elle a critical look up and down, gesturing vaguely with one hand. "As much of one as you could ever have, considering."

Certainly not what he expected. Lawrence is now giving Angela a momentarily suspicious look, but it goes on hold when he peers down at Elle to see her own reaction to it. It is probably like taking a tame bird, opening the cage, and saying 'you're free, you're free!'. Even if it flies away, what does it know to do? People fed it, kept it, raised it- but now what?

Part of her wants to ask Angela what exactly she meant by that last remark, but in a remarkable display of restraint, her mouth remains shut. Her own expression is mostly unreadable as she searches Angela's face for any sign that the woman is playing a cruel joke. The medication certainly isn't helping her reaction time.

Elle came here with half a dozen exit strategies lined up in her mind, knowing that Angela wasn't likely to just let her leave. Now she needs none of them, and she ought to be happy— but she can't do anything more than stare at the matriarch of the Company with a bewildered look, rendered speechless. Quite honestly, Elle looks a little lost.

"I hope I don't have to tell you to stay out of the Company's way, not to interfere with our operations, and keep yourself out of … trouble." Angela gives Elle a pointed look on that statement. "You might want to get a job. Your father didn't leave you with much. Except for this." The woman reaches into the same drawer she procured the group picture from. This time, she withdraws a box, a few fractions smaller than a shoe box, and places it at the far edge of her desk in front of Elle. She looks up at Church. "After you've seen to Elle, we need to talk, Lawrence."

Church gives Elle a similar glance at 'trouble'. Yeah, he knows too. She's prone to… that. He watches the box, at first with apprehension, but then with pure curiosity. It is a mystery box, you guys. What's in the mystery box? It is obvious he is going to try and peer over Elle's shoulder if she opens it in here. Or outside. Or at all.

But- then he hears the Queen Bee utter his name, and that causes him to straighten up on the edges of his heels with his eyes on Angela. "Oh, yes. Of course."

As she leans forward to take the box into her hands, Elle is surprised by the weight of it, turning her perplexed look away from Angela. "A job," she says quietly, flustered in a strange way, reality finally beginning to sink in. Silly, juvenile, reckless Elle hadn't quite thought about what she would actually do once she was free of the Company because… well, she hadn't really thought it would happen. "Okay."

Hunched over the box, she sets it in her lap and timidly raises the lid, as if he might have left her some gruesome reminder. But what she finds inside causes her expression to soften, her eyes welling with tears that she tries to fight back. She lifts one of the toys from the box - a rattle - and turns it over in her hands, making a sound somewhere between a laugh and a sob.

This is a bad idea. If she becomes too wrapped up in this, she'll break down into tears right here in Angela Petrelli's office - not that she hasn't already allowed a few to slide down her face. The rattle is returned to the box, and Elle brushes the tears away with both hands, smoothing her fingers over her cheeks. "I'll do what I can," she says, knowing it's likely not much of a promise to fly under the radar, reluctant to look up at either of them now out of embarrassment. Still, she flicks a glance to Angela, just long enough to say, "Thank you." It might be the most sincere thing she's ever said to the woman.

Angela watches Elle examine the gold toy, and for a moment, her expression softens as well. A smile tugs at the corners of her lips in response to the thank you. It's her only response. They're done here. She closes the desk drawer. "Escort Ms. Bishop off the premises," she tells Church before placing a pair of reading glasses from a stack of books onto her nose, studiously going about reading a file as she waits for them to leave.

Oh, for goodness' sake. The women examine that toy, and so does Church. Of course, it does the same exact thing to soften his expression too, and he is able to recognize it exactly. Now that thing makes him feel old, even more than just remembering Elle when she wore pigtails.

Lawrence nods to Angela, putting both hands back to the wheelchair in order to pull it out of its place between the chairs. Pausing just for a moment, he leans over towards his right to pick up a small fingerful of tissues from the lone box in Angela's office. As he does this, he's also watching her like she might burn him with eye-lasers or something to that effect. If she does look up at him again- well- she's probably going to get a crooked smile and a small upward twitch of his eyebrows.

Time to go! Finally, he backs Elle out of the office again, at the same time tucking those few tissues onto her lap by the cast. See, Elle. It's okay to cry! Not that he expects her to lose it completely, but his gesture is genuine.

Taking one of the tissues from her lap, Elle presses it to each eye to dry her tears. Her other hand clutches the box protectively, as if someone might leap out to take it from her. Tipping her head back, she looks up to Church with a fleeting smile. It's all the thanks she really even needs to say to him, by now.

Angela garners one final look, a strangely nostalgic feeling settling over Elle as she is escorted out into the hallway— and then she turns forward again, remaining silent for what she hopes is her last tour of any Company facility for a good, long time.

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