2007-12-01: Off-Limits

Starring:

Elle_icon.gif Bob_icon.gif

Summary: Elle tells her father about her encounter with Sylar; in the aftermath of the confusion over the killer's unexpected behaviour, a plan is hatched that has little to do with Sylar and, instead, could save millions in the future … and/or get them both fired.

Date It Happened: December 1st, 2007

Off-Limits


Yamagato Industries

New York City

There's nothing quite like a visit from a prolific serial killer to make a girl like Elle panic, and even a frantic phone call to her father did little to reassure her. Unwilling to give up the exact details of Sylar's message over the phone, the young agent insisted upon meeting with Bob Bishop just as fast as she could get to him. In hindsight, driving in her state, with sickness and desperation combined, was probably not the wisest decision she has ever made. (It's a far cry from the worst, of course; this is Elle we're talking about.)

Reaching the site of Yamagato Industries' new branch in a short enough time to suggest she cut corners and broke a few laws getting here, Elle steps out of her car and hurries into the building. She offers only the most cursory exchanges to the people she passes, her eyes darting back and forth, searching for her father in case he isn't precisely where he said he'd be. Then it's down corridors she needs a magnetic key to access, hallways deserted and without decoration, until finally, she reaches a staircase.

Trailing one hand on the railing, rushing perilously down the steps, she plants both hands against the door and throws it open, stepping onto one of the Company's partially constructed levels. Now that she's in the presence of others, she slows down some, but her steps are still swift. Each worker gets only a brief glance. Exasperated already, she demands of one of them, "Where's my father?"

Sparks fly. The distant hiss of a blowtorch flanks Bob Bishop as he moves briskly down a half-lit hall scattered with the remnants of construction. The area has the distinctive look of being below ground. He's not far from his frantic daughter; in fact, he's just around a corner, on his way to the very door she burst through a moment ago. The construction worker Elle encounters is completely useless, staring blankly at the blonde — what's she doing down here?

Thankfully, Bob turns a corner, sporting a dark blue hardhat. It's not flattering. Hardhats rarely are. It makes his round head look unnaturally tall, his shoulders even more squared than usual, his appearance all the more everyman and yet more gruff. "Elle." His pace quickens, but remains steady. "Sylar?" His ability to speak in full, articulate sentences easily reinstates itself in a moment. "Don't spare any details. Follow me, there's an empty room to the left."

Even before he's said her name, Elle is rushing towards Bob, throwing her arms around him in a tight embrace. Heat radiates from her body, her fever raging, but concern for her father has provided her with enough frantic energy to make it this far. She doesn't say anything right away, distrusting of the construction workers who are nearby. The construction workers don't warrant so much as a glance now that she's found him, and as she pulls back, she lets out a deep breath. "I'm so glad you're okay." It's all she's willing to say before they've reached the room, and she closes the door behind her, then steps forward, away from the wall adjacent to the hallway. "I thought maybe— " Stopping herself, Elle looks to her father with an almost sheepish expression now that she has him standing in front of her. " —nevermind."

"Are— " Bob is cut off by the sudden hug, and though he returns it, it's far less fervent. He's in the middle of cautiously patting her on the back, over her blonde hair, when she pulls away and proceeds to be unforthcoming. "Why wouldn't I be okay? Elle. Tell me what happened." He walks a few steps around the corner and opens a door. Small office-sized, it's by a lamp hanging on a cord, encased in heavy-duty wire; the real fixtures haven't been installed yet but, always thinking, Bob chose a room that doesn't have open electrical wires yet. With Elle in this state, that would be most unwise. "He didn't lay a hand on you, did he?" She looks fine, inasmuch as she can, with her sickness; nonetheless, Bob eyes Elle critically.

His question elicits a strange laugh from Elle, quick and perplexed, and she shakes her head. "He didn't touch me," she replies, sounding every bit as confused as she ought to be. "He said he wanted to warn you." Now that she's contented herself that Bob isn't in immediate peril, she's quickly fading from her energetic state, and she slumps against a nearby wall, wrapping her sweater around herself again. "Someone sent him to kill you. He says you have to hide."

Bob closes the door without so much as glancing at it, shutting them in just as the lines in his brow grow into deep crevices. It's his turn to look confused — and with this confusion comes a deep sense of unsettlement. "Sylar isn't normally one to follow orders. He kills to satisfy his own desire to gain abilities, we both know that," he says, almost chastising, as if Elle may be hallucinating and misunderstanding the whole ordeal. "He didn't, by any chance, explain who sent him?"

"Then why didn't he kill me?" Hugging her arms around herself, Elle turns her gaze back to her father, still fraught with confusion. "He must have walked by a dozen people with abilities to get to your office, and he didn't lay a finger on any of them." Realizing suddenly that she ought to have demanded that he tell her more about whomever sent him after her father, Elle can't help the apologetic look which settles onto her face. She winces, whether from sickness-related pain or self-deprecation, then shakes her head. "He didn't say. He said it didn't matter."

There's no chairs to sit down in here. Bob paces in front of Elle, taking off his hardhat and holding it under one arm. "Of course it matters, Elle!" It could all be a ruse and his word might have meant nothing, but all the same, "You didn't think to ask?" The man stops his pacing and faces Elle, still as a board. His voice quiets. "I don't know why he didn't kill you. Are you certain he didn't follow you here?"

His words strike her like bullets, and Elle flinches with every one, shrinking back against the wall as much as she can. She doesn't know how to admit to her father why she didn't ask Sylar more questions, why she just let him walk out of there. How could she say it? Just when she thinks she might have willed herself up to an apology, opening her mouth to speak, he suggests that she might have been followed. "I…" Instantly, she shoots a look to the door, stepping away, placing herself between it and her father in case Sylar might burst through in the next instant. "No. He might have, but I— I think he was telling the truth."

Bob Bishop is not a happy man, but there's no changing the past. …Not in his power, that is. "Even if he did, our security has greatly improved. Regardless, we have to take all precautions that he does not find out about our new location. "Well, this is an unexpected turn of events." He moves toward the door, and thus, Elle. "I don't want you investigating this while you're sick, do you understand?"

Turning her gaze down to the ground now, slouching further as she avoids her father's eyes, Elle mutters in reply, "If I wasn't sick, this never would have happened." Bitterness in her tone, there - and she doesn't even attempt to hide it. Pressing her hand against the wall, she stands up straighter, reluctantly looking back to him once more. "I understand." For a second or two, she falls silent, hesitant to say what's lingering on her mind. "It's getting worse. Most of the time I can't even get a spark. When I do, it backfires."

It would be easy to say "don't worry, you'll get better", but Bob doesn't know that to be true for certain. Reality is harsh. In this case, he doesn't lie. "Go back to Cass Aldric's lab," he says instead. "See if they have any updates. I know they're working on something." He's about to reach behind Elle and open the door, sending her on her way, but he hesitates, his gaze darkenening with a particular thought. "Listen. I suspect Victoria Pratt had something to do with the release of this virus, whether some time in the future or the past, here, at the Company — but she's off-limits." A fact which he doesn't seem thrilled with at this juncture. Why is he telling Elle this?

"Off-limits?" Drawing her sweater tighter around herself, pushing away from the wall now, Elle fixes her father with a look that is at once both confused and curious. Her eyes are alight with a strange eagerness, one which doesn't quite seem to fit with her unhealthy state. "If you really think she has something to do with this, why aren't we going to find her?" Not that the thought hadn't crossed her mind at least once before, that Pratt was involved, but with so much else happening… it had slipped her mind.

Bob's answer: "Angela." He readjusts the hardhat under his arm and frowns deeply. "When Pratt left the Company, her whereabouts were protected," he goes on to explain. "Tracking her down could mean preventing another outbreak in the future. Angela isn't willing to sacrifice Pratt's privacy to get to the bottom of this." A beat. "But I am." Suffice to say, these words are most certainly not meant to leave this room.

"Should've figured." With her cynicism against Angela Petrelli in full force, Elle just barely convinces herself not to roll her eyes at the notion of protecting the privacy of a woman who could cause the deaths of millions. And maybe she already has; who's to say how many have been infected in present day? Her eagerness doesn't fade - if anything, it gains strength with Bob's words - and Elle steps forward, fidgeting with her hands the way an excited child might. "I can find her," she says, her words infused with confidence. "I'll stop her."

Bob holds up a hand — exactly in the way a parent might when attempting to slow the excitement of a fidgeting child. Not so fast, Elle. "Circumventing Angela Petrelli isn't wise," he states. "And finding Pratt's location is not a simple case of looking in the phonebook. Even I don't have access to those files."

Elle doesn't particularly like being told no, especially when it's a chance for her to prove herself to her father after so many recent… mishaps. Not that all of them were her fault, but the more she can do to impress him, the better. Like a stubborn child, she refuses to back down so easily, already working up to an argument before he's even finished speaking. "She doesn't have to know it was me behind it," she protests. "Peter and his little team are out for blood with this virus. I could go to him, convince them to do it." The corner of her mouth twitches in a near-smirk. "I don't need access to those files if I have the Walker System."

"We're on the same page," Bob replies to his daughter, as much a pat on the head as he's willing to stretch to right now. "Not only that, more than enough information was provided to… the guardian of the Walker System to lead them in the right direction. I suspect he's been too focused on curing the uncurable and disobeying Company policy to see the larger picture at stake. All they'd need…" He spreads his hands out — voila — and smiles scarcely. If you didn't know the fellow, he wouldn't look scheming at all. He'd just look like an amiable guy; and isn't he? Aren't they trying to help mankind here? What's a little manipulation among heroes? "…is a gentle push."

Curing the uncurable. What does that mean for her? It's enough of a death sentence, that turn of phrase, to deter Elle from grinning impishly the way she otherwise might have in this situation. Still, though for a split second she seems injured and stunned by his words, she recovers quickly. With a quick smile, she forces herself to stand up straighter still and meet her father's gaze. "I'll make sure they end up on the right track," she replies, her earlier confidence returning now that she's accepting this new assignment.

Bob nods once, curtly, smile gone. "You do that." He opens the door of the unfinished room. The walls around them, along with their skin, flash-flash-spark with blue light carried from a blowtorch down the otherwise dark hall that's revealed. "You let me worry about Sylar for now."

Still uncertain what to think about Sylar's warning, feeling uneasy about the prospect of her father fending for himself against the serial killer, Elle doesn't trust herself to try and formulate a response to Bob's final remark. If she were to try and speak, she's fairly certain that she would voice some protest against the plan, begging him to let her protect him. Not that she could, right now. As she follows her father out of the room, Elle wisely keeps her mouth shut, working over how she might set this new plan in motion. A mischievous smirk finds its way onto her face, her eyes alight with excitement.

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