2007-08-13: DF: Picking Up The Pieces


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Summary: Ramon's raging temper compels his daughter to take care of him. Much like another denizen in the Saints' headquarters, Elena manages to inspire her father to quit drinking.

Dark Future Date: August 13th, 2009

Picking Up The Pieces

Basement Levels, Phoenix Rising Penthouses

It will take either an access code or something of Gene's to get into Ramon's room, but someone might want to, because he hasn't said a word since Bat Country. The longer the silences, the longer no expressions sit on his face, the worse 'It' gets.

It is when he starts drinking, and starts shouting at the walls in Spanish, and throwing things. For the most part he sticks to throwing his own things. A glass shatters on the wall, turning to powder with the force of his throw.

It wouldn't be wise to bring him any food right now. In fact, Elena's been there a while, outside her father's suite in Phoenix Rising Penthouses. Her arms are folded behind her, leaning against the wall. She closes her eyes, feeling the life signal inside the room roaming around it restlessly. She doesn't hear the things shattering into the walls. But she knows that's what he's doing, because he's done it before. His rages had tapered off a bit now, slightly. But it had been much, much, much worse when Juanita and Luis died, and when Desiree disappeared.

Finally, she eases away from the wall, punching in the access code and letting the door closed behind her. She watches her father just as a heavy paperweight shatters into the far wall, the force behind it so massive the glass pulverizes into the plaster and showers glitter dust onto the desk.

She doesn't say anything for a bit. She just watches her father try and bleed out all the rage within him. She knows, however, that it'll never be fully tapped out. The Gomezes, her entire family was marked for their spirit, he may very well be this angry all his life. He would never, ever run on empty.

He at least manages to stop, breath heaving, when Elena enters. He's not so far gone that he's going to risk hurting her. In Spanish: "The devil walks loose in the world." It's not certain whether he means the state of the world or just himself. He turns his head away. He reeks of Scotch. At this point he is always in danger of tears, which he will not display before his daughter.

If he did, Elena would've just shaken it off. It's not like she isn't capable. When she responds, in Spanish, her tone is soft and serious. "He is. But I don't like how you sound like you're talking about yourself every time you say that." She walks over to the older man, without hesitation. She's ceased to fear a lot of things, including her father's rages. The smell of Scotch stung her nose, but she doesn't react to it. Instead, she rests her hand gently on her father's arm.

He lets out a harsh laugh. "I don't know who I'm talking about anymore, chiquita." The tears start before he can stop them, hot and shameful. He looks up at the sky. Some nights its Dezi, but tonight, judging from the pictures dumped all over the floor as if he'd been swimming in them, its about Nita and Luis. Sometimes its about everything. Why Benji triggered it…he couldn't say.

Her dark eyes fall all over the pictures scattered onto the floor. Regret opens again like a surtured wound. Elena's hand climbs up to her father's shoulder and gives it a tight squeeze. "They're in a better place," she says. It's the same mantra she tells him whenever he gets like this, but her words have ceased to reach him a long time ago whenever he's like this. She pretends not to notice the tears, though she's sharply aware of them. "I wouldn't want them to see us like this." That was partly true, and partly not. She would rather see them living some days, but with how many times she gets into the fray, most days she doesn't. As for Benji, she knows perhaps what may have triggered it. Benji changed, because of what happened to his daughter somehow. "You saw yourself in him today. I don't know….if you're angry because he's in the same shoes as you, or that he is, but he took on a different path than you."

Ramon drops heavily to the floor, having a seat. "Yes," he says simply. At least the tears pass quickly. "I was glad to see there's some of him in there. And part of me says 'too fucking little, too fucking late.' Part of me wonders if I'd have made the same choices had our situation been 100% the same. At the end of the day, chiquita, a man doesn't much give a shit about ideals, he gives a shit about his children."

"You and Benji are two different men in a lot of ways, Papa. But you're right," Elena returns quietly. As her father slumps on the floor, she doesn't follow him just yet. Instead, her eyes scan the pictures again. She can see them all while she's standing. Before long, however, she eases down on one knee next to her father. "We can still save him. What's left of him. No matter what's….happened to our family, you still keep going. If he just saw….maybe you could convince him to do the same. Right now, he's doing something right. But after this….I don't know what's going to happen to him after this." She's afraid once this is done, Benji will just walk off a cliff without looking back.

Ramon looks at his daughter for a long moment,decides against saying something a little /too/ honest, and expels a breath. "You can't recruit him. He'll just break. Crumble. Crumple like a tin can. The stress will kill him quicker than he'll kill himself. We should find a way to take care of him, not put him into more of it. The man was an accountant who wanted his life to move in neat, orderly, predictable rows."

"I don't intend to," Elena tells her father, reaching out to press her palm gently on his back, and rubbing up and down gently. She's not using any of her abilities on him. This was one of the very rare times in which she wouldn't 'cheat' using her powers. She's used them whenever she could now, to gain further mastery and to hone her advantage over the rest. Darwinism at its finest - but not at the expense of her father's conscience. "After this is over, I intend to have him run to the border. Give him a new identity, a new life. I wasn't about to do that to him, not with the way he reacted when he mentioned Rose…"

"I didn't go looking for what happened. I didn't want to know. It all went south for him, that's what I know." He closes his eyes, letting her comfort him in a rare moment. "If he leaps off that cliff, chiquita, you can't blame yourself for it."

She falls quiet, Elena's eyes cast to the side and her jaw determined. "I've….given up on the idea that I could save everybody, Papa," she says softly. The idealistic notion was gone. "Right now I'll settle for who I can actually save." As for blaming herself….maybe she would, a little bit. But she can't be bogged down too heavily emotionally now. She's sick with worry for Jack and Prime, off in a secret op they can't even tell her about. She was struggling not to fall in the same situation between herself, Peter, and Eric that she had left behind two years ago. And her father, who struggled every day to keep himself together. Sometimes she wonders how she could keep her head straight still, but she knows necessity drove her more than actual desire. She wraps both her arms around her father and squeezes gently.

Well, two years ago he started to heal. He had Dezi and the family and he was starting to get better. Thing is, those wounds don't do so good when broken apart twice, and worse the second time around. He hugs her back, clinging to her. His serotonin levels are so desperately low its a wonder /he/ hasn't taken a walk off a cliff. He holds on tight, as if to a life preserver.

"It's okay, Papa," Elena says softly, her arms tightening around him and squeezing him tighter. "I'll take care of you. I'll take care of all of you." Her eyes close then - she hasn't cried at any point through this entire exchange, even if two years ago she would've started bawling like a baby. But while her father is in her arms, she'll try and give him a little bit of relief. -This- she'll cheat on, but only because she can't lose him to his own grief either.

He knows she's probably doing it, but he does not care. Any relief from the pain that has become his core is welcome. Anything, short term or long term, that lets him be himself again. Its why he wraps himself up in killing and hardness, because they're easier to take, and still feel closer to him than this raging monster of grief inside of him, which is alien and impossible to manage. Slowly his breathing calms, and he pats her back and reaches up to ruffle her hair like she was about six.

When he pulls away, and Ramon ruffles her hair, Elena can't help but smile - though this is subdued, it's no less sincere. "We'll figure out how to get him out of here, Papa. And then…it's up to him as to what he wants to do. I'm not….I can't interfere with too much anymore." She glances down on her hand. "I'm spread so thin as it is." She could always delegate, but she didn't trust the safety of the Saints to anyone else. Not with Jack gone to god-knows-where.

"You are," Ramon agrees in a low rasp. "You need to — pot and kettle — you need to learn to ask for help, chiquita. What is the point on being on a team if you can't trust some of them enough to take on these burdens? You send yourself into a detainment camp as if you were the absolute best and only choice." He looks her straight in the eye. "Were you? I'm not convinced."

"No," Elena says truthfully. "Prime was. When it comes to deep cover, he's the best. Infiltration is his forte, and intelligence. But that one was personal. Our people were in there. That and I wanted to go and see for myself how those facilities operated, the knowledge could be useful. But Prime's…" There's a look in her eyes. She can't tell anybody, but Prime can't be spread too thin either. The promise was painful, Ramon can tell just by looking at her, and deep seated. After all, he promised the man and his mother.

"Complicated," Ramon finishes for her, to spare her having to tear herself between two separate obligations. He understands the honor he instilled in his kids enough not to demand she tread on it. He expels a breath. "You'd have made a good man." He's not /trying/ to be a sexist bastard. He's trying to offer a compliment. Just…take it for what it means.

She can't help a more rueful and genuine smile. "That isn't just so you can keep me a virgin all my life, is it?" Elena quips towards her father. She stands up then, and moves to the end of the ruined room. "R2-D2's got his work cut out for him tonight after you leave to take care of business." She finds some water, and ice, filling a glass. She walks over to her father, and presents this to him, as well as a bottle of aspirin. "But it's thanks to you. You struggled, no one….living…knows more than me. But you raised me right. You raised us all right."

Ramon opens the bottle, tosses back way more than he needs, and sucks down the water. He grunts in response to the mutual praise, and says, "No, if I were trying to keep you a virgin I'd emphasize your womanly traits. There's nothing for encouraging promiscuity like being a man."

"Thanks but no thanks. I like being Joan of Arc," Elena says with a hint of a grin towards Ramon. She still kept her faith, despite everything - although this was more of a jest than anything else. "Everything's too chaotic and complicated right now anyway, I don't want to catch anything on top of everything else." New York was essentially sin city now. Or SYN city, if anyone believed the word. The Syndicate ruled the night in most 'business' centers of the city.

Ramon is way more acquainted with the Syndicate than he's telling. Oh yes. "Besides," he rumbles. "It was confusing enough for you before between Peter and Eric. Now we've got Peter I, Peter II, and Eric. Peter II is a bastard and Peter I is so overwhelmed that he looks about like a six year old ready to climb into the nearest hole and put his hands over his ears and close his eyes until it all goes away."

"Petrelli married the unhinged, homewrecking detective that abandoned Mama's case, so you don't have to worry about him," is all Elena says as she stands up and walks around, vanishing for a moment from view. She returns with a dustpan and broom, and she starts sweeping the floor so her father doesn't have to cut his feet with glass shards. "And he lied. He didn't kill Sylar. He apparently just 'sealed' him away, never to return. -Of course- he did, because he killed Lachlan's sister, Megan Deatley. I have crime scene pictures to prove it. And Ali heard the confession from the man himself." She exhales a breath. "As for Peter, I told him he trains and learns more self-reliance or he doesn't help at all. It seems to be working. He practices his abilities every day, and he's becoming more proactive with what goes on here. With luck, when he gets back, he'll be prepared."

"Yes, Petrelli did," Ramon says with a nod. He knows these things, but…now that he's not focused on The Pain he figures its okay to let her get some of her own out of her system. "And yes, you did, with Peter. But—" he pauses and figures out how to put this. "You are not a person who extends love to people to so easily take it away. You are infuriated not because you hate them, you are infuriated because you still love them, you just can't stomach them. These two things are /not/, as most people think, mutually exclusive. You are disappointed, because he could have, should have done better, and he didn't. And here comes the new/old one, offering hope. Only its not a hope any of us can latch on to, because we've already seen how fragile a man he really is. So we might cultivate it, and help him, because that is wise. But we will never put our hearts behind it. And what makes you even more furious is it's like looking at bookends: Potential and Failure, the good parts and the shitty parts, on either side of you. It infuriates you that you let yourself love and now you cannot stop yourself from loving. You hate what he did, but you love him. It is because you love him that you can't forgive him. I don't mean necessarily romantically. You are just a loving woman, Elena, in ways purer than most of the world means it."

"I wish I wasn't," Elena says, glancing over her father - the man who knows her better than anyone else in the world. It had been a bond forged out of paternal fire and the loss of another parent, and with how protective they both were of one another, it couldn't be helped. Just as she could tell when her father's ready to break when he looks ready to kill. She looks over at him, her expression softening just a bit. She turns back to what she's doing, sweeping up the mess he made on the hardwood floors. They were really nice floors. Eric spared no expense. "I think I'm more resigned to the idea that the Peter I knew doesn't exist in this time anymore, and the one that's walking around in this building is a ghost I failed to exorcise a long time ago. I just wish this didn't have to happen now. And Eric…" She exhales a breath. "He didn't have to come back, but he did anyway. Three months early. The hospital in Norway didn't want to release him. For some reason he was compelled to come back. I hope it's because he believes in what we're doing." She takes the dustpan and moves to the trashcan, dumping the debris there. "But you're right. I love too much. I try not to let it get in the way of what has to be done. It's difficult, but I think I'm doing okay."

"Eric had a lot of reasons for coming back, and I think to point to any one as The Reason would make it wrong no matter how right it is," Ramon says gravely. "But I would encourage you to open your heart to Eric if that is where your heart leads. You need someone to lean on, and your old man isn't enough, especially not the way I am these days. You need a peer to lean on, too."

She continues sweeping the floor, though Elena doesn't really see any more fragments that need cleaning up. She looks over at her father, exhaling a breath. "I just don't want to hear that he came back for me. Or just me. All this is way too much risk for just one person. And one person who isn't all that well physically right now. I would like to think he's thinking about a bigger purpose when he came back here. I have to wonder sometimes…" She puts away the broom and the dustpan. "And you're holding up better than most, Papa. Our stock's made of strong stuff." She looks over at him and gives him a slight smile.

"No. He came back for you, but also to find his family's murderers, and also because he has always been a by the bootstraps man. And because he /is/ a man. He could not just sit there in safety while people he cares about fights on. That's what the penthouse is about. He's compensating, or trying to compensate. He feels removed from everyone, he feels like he hasn't done enough, so he hides it behind a cynical detached smirk and hands out gifts like Father Christmas come home, and if he's still an outsider he still gets to be the outsider who is like everyone's world travelling big brother or something, because he can't just come out and say shit like that. We," here he means men, "just don't /do/ that crap. And…then there's the anger, which makes it damn hard to deal with anyone. Eric and I share a rage, we just express it differently."

"Not so differently," Elena says, going back to the meeting when she put Archibald Mortensen's face on the screen. She looks over at Ramon and walks over to where he's seated. She rests her fingers on his head gently. "You know I don't mean to worry you more than I have to," she tells him simply. "I already know you don't like it when I go out the way I do. I guess it's why I haven't been talking about what's been bothering me for a while…with you. Besides. You're my father, it's not like I can't see that things aren't easy for you either." She sighs quietly. She wished that word regarding Dezi would crop up already so her father could have a purpose again. He still did, but nothing drove him on these days than the prospect of word from his missing wife.

"I'm your father, so I can push it aside a moment my little girl needs me," Ramon says roughly. "I just figured you didn't." He doesn't move from out from under her hand though. The man is developing a bit of a bald spot though.

"You know me better than anyone else in the world, Papa. I don't think I'll ever stop needing you," Elena says, lowering herself to sit down in a cross-legged position next to him. She smoothes his collar gently with her fingers. "Just you being there reminds me of where I came from and what I have to do. Eric asked me once who my anchor was. It's you. It's always been you. Ever since I was old enough to walk."

That is going to choke him up. He lets her fix his collar and then puts a hand over her hand. He squeezes tight, then expels a breath. "Maybe I should act more like one." He grimaces. "I don't suppose your powers can stop alcoholism, eh, chiquita?"

"I can make it so alcohol doesn't affect you, but I'll have to be in range. You're going to have to program yourself to quit drinking. That's your ability, not mine." She lets her father take her hand, and she squeezes back. She knows he's choking up, so she gives him a reassuring smile - as best as she can call up at the moment. She uses it then, working to gradually clear up the effects of the alcohol in his body.

"Dezi will be pissed when she finds out," Ramon murmurs. He'll probably put that into the programming, somewhere. His daughter needs him, and Dezi will be /pissed/. She would never stand for the behavior he's been displaying. At. All.

"I know. But it's a small price to pay to get her back," Elena says simply. She pecks him lightly on the cheek, and stands up. She extends a hand downwards to her father. "Come on, Papa. Louis is making ….something French for dinner. I know you don't subscribe to the hoity-toity, but he's really good at what he does."

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