2010-06-14: Reunion In Paris

Starring:

Elle_V5icon.pngGabriel_V5icon.png

Date: June 14th, 2010

Summary:

After a long time apart, Gabriel and Elle run into each other in an unlikely place.


"Reunion in Paris"

Paris

It's a balmy afternoon in Paris, with just enough of a breeze to keep the sweat from gathering at the nape of the neck and under the arms. Vendors are out in full full force in the open marketplace, shouting their wares in both English and French.

"Bread, hot from the oven!"

"Ice cold lemonade!"

"Fresh peaches, just in!"

It's at the fruit stand that the petite blonde stands, contemplating the bright assortment of produce in front of her. Clearly, though, her mind is elsewhere, as any passersby will note she's been standing there for quite a while, barely moving. Elle's going to start to get dirty looks soon if she doesn't stop loitering and buy something.

It's a fortunate thing that they're peddling their wares in both French and English, because if it were just the former, Gabriel would be at a loss. He can look at the items that are being sold, sure, but he relies on English to figure out the pricing. Even then, he may still be getting ripped off due to his naivete, but there's really nothing he can do about it.

It's the fruit stand that Gabriel comes up to next, falling in line behind a petite blonde that seems to be unable to make her decision. The person behind him bumps into him, very nearly sending him forward into the blonde— he manages to catch his balance at just the last moment, and he turns to give an annoyed look to the person behind him. As the blonde continues to survey the produce in front of her, Gabriel decides to speak up. "You know, if you take too long, these people might carry you off and throw you into the river, if you're not careful."

Elle reaches out to pick a peach from the basket holding them, a thumb running over the fuzzy surface. She squeezes it experimentally, as she's seen other customers do, but in truth she has no experience in telling a good peach from a bad one. Suddenly, a voice enters her reverie, and she startles, almost dropping the piece of fruit.

Spinning on a heel, she turns to reply to the man, but whatever quip she had ready immediately evaporates upon seeing the man's face. "G-Gabriel?" Elle's tongue fumbles over his name. "What are you doing here?" Her grey-blue eyes are wide, and some of the blood has left her face.

With having said it, Gabriel didn't intend to make anymore of it— he just wanted to warn the poor girl behind the crowd rioted. Whatever happened to patience, anyway? It's a virtue. People should learn to live by it a bit more.

However, when the woman spins around, Gabriel takes a step backwards, bumping into the person behind him, who in turn bumps into the person behind him. In short order, the entire line moves back a step or two, and now the people are beginning to give dirty looks at Gabriel. "Elle?" he says, clearly at a loss for words. She's really the last person he expected to turn up here. "What— what the hell are you doing here?"

With shaking hands, Elle returns the peach to its crate, and encloses her small hand in a vice-like grip around Gabriel's elbow, drawing him away from the cranky crowd and into the space between two stalls. For a few moments, she simply stares at him, all words leaving her as she stares up at the man that looms so large in her past. "I - " Elle's voice cracks, and she swallows hard, then tries again. "I asked first."

Allowing himself to be pulled in between the crates, once they come to a stop Gabriel gives Elle a couple onceovers, still not quite believing that she's here. "I— I had business I had to take care of in Paris. Once it was done I decided to stay." It's a half-truth. If she knew what the business was, she would probably zap him right there, or at the very least leave. "I've only been here for a month or so." He turns his gaze back up to her eyes, shaking his head slightly. "But still, why are you here? I haven't seen you since…"

"… since I left. Before the trip. I know." Elle needs to look away, but she can't. She also can't release her grip on his arm. Taking a deep breath makes her wobble a little, as his familiar scent blended with the other ambient smells fills her nostrils. "I wrote you letters. Trying to explain. I.. I don't know if you got them. You never wrote back." Each word is delivered slowly, as if she's choosing them very carefully.

"I had to get away," Elle states simply. "Daddy has - had," she corrects herself harshly, her face darkening, the pain clear in her eyes, "residences all over the world. There's one not far from here. I've been here since I.. left." Without a word, true to her dysfunctional ways.

"Yeah, I got them," Gabriel says vaguely, turning his gaze from Elle to look at their surroundings, before finally turning to look at her once again. "I didn't read them. I never went on that trip. Got caught up in…" He smirks slightly, despite the situation. "Well, you know how it is with our kind. Someone always trying to save the world. Anyway, I got caught up with all of… that, and then I met someone, who…" He trails off, not finishing his sentence or explaining what happened after he met said person. Either way, from the look on his face, it doesn't look like the best of subjects. "I'm just staying here while I figure out what to do next."

It looks like Elle isn't the only dysfunctional one. Oh, what a dark and twisty pair they make. "I think you win the vague contest," the blonde says wryly. Good, her sense of humour is making a comeback. Maybe she's not a total lost cause. "Looks like we both have had some…" Elle pauses for the right word, "… obstacles." It's a word her old therapist would use.

"I'mreallygladtoseeyou." The words burst from her lips in a tumble, and when she realizes she actually said that out loud, her eyes widen and blood rushes back into her face in a flush of colour. The Queen of Neuroses, speaking her mind? Bitchy Elle, saying something positive? The world really does need saving, if this is what it's coming to.

"I've had a lot happen. I'm still dealing with some of it." He would like to go into details, but he really can't. Peter took his girlfriend, she ended up with amnesia, so he retaliated by lying and stealing Peter's girlfriend? It doesn't exactly look very good. Even if he does feel bad about leading Daphne on, but she was just part of what he needed to get back at Peter. It was never about her…

Lost in his own thoughts, it takes Elle's small burst of words to snap him back into the present. Even then, it still takes a few moments for them to finally sink in so he can realize what she said. "It's good to see you, too," he responds, and it is. Seeing a familiar face (one that doesn't hate him, to boot) isn't what he expected to happen today, or really at all while he was in Paris, but it's a welcome surprise.

"Do you want to.." Elle's voice trails off, unsure of how to complete a sentence she's never said, only heard said. "Talk about it?" Her free hand runs through her blonde hair, pushing it out of her face. "We can go back to my place, I can cook." A strangled laugh leaves her lips. "Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. I can make pasta, though. And tea." Elle's face turns up to his, her light eyes meeting his dark ones. "Or we can find a cafe and eat. And talk. You.. you look like you need to talk." Her voice rises hesitantly at the end of the last sentence, almost turning it into a question. It's clear she's treading on uncertain ground, here.

"You, cook?" Gabriel says, a smirk pulling at his lips. If there's one thing he knows about Elle, it's that she can perhaps make a decent pie, but anything past that, he isn't so sure off. He takes another look around the area— the only think he has in his hand is an apple, which he forgot he actually /did/ have in all the commotion of running into Elle, but he purchased that already at a previous fruit vendor.

"We can go back to your place, sure," Gabriel says. "Tea and pasta sounds great. I'd offer my place, but it's still in the process of being setup. It doesn't have much more than a chair and a lamp at this point."

A smile of her own echoes Gabriel's, wry and self-deprecating. "Well, maybe 'cook' is a strong term. But I don't burn things anymore, and the pasta actually tastes good if you add enough sauce." The sauce, it goes without saying, is storebought. "I have more than a chair and a lamp. There's a table, for one." Hesitantly, Elle begins to offer him her hand, then the crook of her arm, and ends up just sort of thrusting the limb awkwardly in his direction. "Shall we? It's not a long walk from here."

When the link is thrust in his direction, Gabriel hesitates for a moment, but then he extends his own hand and places it on her upper arm for a few moments. He watches her, not sure what to do, but when she says it's not long from here he falls into step beside her. His hand falls from her arm and brushes her own hand, but past that he doesn't make any move. "Lead the way," he says, using the apple as a distraction. It's quite clear that they definitely have a lot to talk about.

Elle swallows hard, a flush creeping up her neck. She licks her lips nervously at his touch, but when his hand brushes hers, she boldly takes it. It's a light grasp she has on him, but at the first contact, a spark jumps from her skin to his. Elle doesn't let go, however, unsure if the answering tingle she feels is organic, or from her power expressing itself through her frazzled nerves. She can't quite manage to speak, simply nodding and beginning to walk towards her father's apartment, holding Gabriel's hand like a lifeline.

—-

When Elle said that she had more than a chair and a lamp, she wasn't exaggerating. Although the apartment is quite small - the living room and kitchen one open, airy room - it is well-furnished. The furniture choices are clearly not Elle's, though, and it can be assumed that the late Bob Bishop furnished the apartment.

Unlocking the front door, Elle leads Gabriel into the apartment, their hands still lightly clasped. "Aaand welcome to my humble abode," she states grandly, the first proper sentence she's uttered since they started walking. "Go ahead and sit, I'll start the tea. And pasta, if you're hungry."

Stepping into the apartment, Gabriel looks around for a few moments before turning his attention back to Elle, who he nods to. "Okay," he says, stepping over near the kitchen and taking a seat at the dining table. He raps his knuckles on the wood for a few seconds, rapping out some beat that only he knows, before he stops and looks back to Elle as she starts the tea. "How long are you staying in Paris?"

Elle bustles around the kitchen, glad for something to do with her hands and her attention. She fills the teapot with water and places it on the stove, selecting two cups from the cupboard and placing them on the counter. That done, she sits down across from Gabriel at the table. "I'm not sure, yet. Until I'm ready to go home, I guess… there's some business of Daddy's that needs finalizing, paperwork and suchlike. Plus my.. recuperating, I suppose would be the word." Her answer is startlingly honest; it would seem that Elle is trying to turn over a new leaf.

"I think we all have things we need to recuperate from," Gabriel says, his wording mysterious. Maybe he meant it that way, or maybe he's just talking to himself outloud at Elle's response. Either way, he turns his head towards a nearby window and watches the sky for a little while until he finally looks back at Elle. "I have to be honest, I don't really know what to say. I've been… busy."

"With what?" Elle's eyes never leave Gabriel, studying him intently, noting new changes in his posture, his clothes. "I'll show you mine if you show me yours," is stated with a slight smile. "Start at the beginning?" Just then, the teapot whistles, and Elle rises to pour the boiling water into the two cups. She returns with the steaming tea a moment later, placing a cup in front of Gabriel.

"It's…" Gabriel begins, shaking his head. "A long, long story." He ponders for a moment, carefully and slowly sipping at the tea as its set down in front of him— it burns, but only for a fraction of a second. AFter that, his regeneration is numbing and doing away with the pain. It's kind of a perk to the ability, really.

"Long story short, I met someone, fell…" The next words are kind of mumbled, not as if he's embarassed to say them, but because of who he's saying them to. "Fell in love. Then someone took her from me." He takes another sip of tea, and shakes his head again. "She was handed off to the wrong people, and they messed with her head. Once I found her, she couldn't remember who she was, who I was, or anything from her life… and she ran. I haven't been able to find her since."

There's another pause as Gabriel stands from the table to look out of the window, before turning and leaning up against it to continue to speak with Elle as he sips his tea. "I gave up looking, but I started again recently… tried to even get Molly Walker to help me. She wouldn't, though. Since then I've kind of been in a rut on trying to find her. I can't figure out where she is.""

At the words 'fell in love', pain flashes through Elle, but it's brief and she manages to keep it from her face. Well, what had she expected, for him to wait patiently through her badly expressed crisis? The answer was yes, of course, but even she knew it was irrational.

Elle sips slowly at her tea, blowing on the hot liquid, and listens. Her eyes are still intent on Gabriel, and she's quiet during his entire speech. Finally, she places both of her hands upon the tabletop and levers herself out of her chair; it seems Gabriel's restlessness is catching.

Her words will surprise both of them: "How can I help?"

Shrugging, Gabriel seems at a lost for an answer to that question. "I don't know," he says, raising his arms at each side, and nearly spilling his tea in the process. It was fortunate that he had drank some of it, or else they would be worrying about a stain on Elle's carpet, not Zelda. "I don't know where she is, or where she even could be… and that's why I've just been staying here. I've left all of that behind, I don't want anything to do with it anymore. Heroes, saving the world, New York…"

His last sentences ring true for her, and Elle finds herself nodding vigorously and filling in bits to his last, trailed-off sentence, "… the Company, powers, no ordinary life… I know exactly what you mean. It's part of the reason I'm here, too. I had to get away. When my power started malfunctioning… well, it was the perfect excuse to leave. Even if.." Elle swallows hard, her gaze moving away from Gabriel's, "Even if I had to leave behind something important."

"Everyone leaves behind something important— I did the opposite, I let it go." There's another shrug from Gabriel, who, while he seems to beat somewhat beat up about all of this on the inside, isn't exactly letting it show through to the outside as he lapses into silence. It's just another piece of conversation, another tale to tell a friend about what's happened to him lately. Granted, in between the loss of Zelda and the subsequent renewal of the search there was the whole bit with Peter and Daphne… but that's something he's choosing to leave out. It's between him and Peter. "The tea is good," he idly remarks.

Elle straightens, running a hand through her hair. "Alright, I'm only going to say this once." She takes a swig of the tea, winces slightly - tea was not made to be swigged - and begins to speak. Confess, even. "I'm sorry I left you," Elle tells the polished surface of the dining table, then lifts her blue eyes to meet Gabriel's. "I thought about you all the time. I - I missed you. I'm glad to see you again. There, I said it." Elle's cheeks are hot, and her eyes go back to her tea cup. "It's my favourite," she says in reference to the tea compliment.

"Elle, it's okay," Gabriel says, holding up a hand to placate her. "I'm sure you had your reasons. Your father had just died, after all." He shakes his head, hand still held out. "Trust me. At first I was a little… put out, but I got over it. I moved on." At her further admissions, Gabriel smiles slightly. "That's nice," is all he says— and while it isn't necessarily a deflection of her feelings, they are something he can't deal with at this time… not with Zelda still out there. He has to find her. "You've come a long way from when we first met."

Elle smiles slightly, and gives a nod of her head, letting out a breath of pure relief. "I have, haven't I? That was still really goddamn hard to say. I.. I'm glad you understand. There aren't many people I can rightfully call 'friend' these days." She doesn't mention her feelings for more than that; it's clear that it's not the time to bring more heavy topics into the arena. Besides, she's still not entirely sure how she feels about the puzzle that is Gabriel Gray.

The blonde takes a deep breath, finishing off her tea. "I meant what I said, Gabriel. If I can help with.. with finding her, just tell me how." It's probably one of the hardest things she's ever had to say - in theme with the rest of the conversation - but her tone is earnest, sincere, and she only stumbles slightly on her words. "I'm here for you."

"I can imagine," Gabriel says, and his tone is sincere. The Elle he knew from before would have never been able to say that— hell, she probably would have just zapped him a few times as her way of saying 'Oh, by the way, I totally think you're cute.' But then, she is Elle Bishop, and Elle Bishop is… unique.

Taking a seat back at the table, Gabriel smiles at Elle again as he takes another sip of his tea. "Thanks," he says, setting the cup down on the table. "It's not like the world is pressing in on us here. We'll figure something out."

Elle fiddles with her empty tea cup, a proposition that'd been settling in her mind for a while now pushing itself to the surface. "Do you need a place to stay? Somewhere that's got more than a table and a lamp? There's a guest bedroom here - it's really small, but it's yours if you want it." Admittedly, her motives are somewhat selfish - Elle's social contact has been limited to none since she left New York. "Just until we figure something out," she says, borrowing his phrase.

"Oh?" Gabriel says, looking up from his cup. "Yeah… I think I'll stay here tonight. It's nice having a friend. I can stay until my apartment has more in it.. and you're always welcome to come visit, too." He finishes off his tea and sets the cup down again, sliding it towards the middle of the table. There's a small smirk that pulls at the corner of his lip as she borrows his phrase, and he echoes her. "Just until we figure something out."

(No sex happens.)
(Totally did.)
(Could have.)

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