2008-01-02: Sage Advice


Church_icon.gif Elle_icon.gif

Summary: Elle pays Church another visit, this time looking for advice.

Date It Happened: January 2nd, 2008

Sage Advice

Lawrence Church's Apartment - NYC

This seemed like a much better idea when she was at home, lost in thought, considering all of her options for the future. As Elle approaches the door to her colleague's apartment, she is hit with a wave of doubt - one that very nearly sends her straight back the way she came. Slowly, she wills herself to turn back and step up to the door. She hesitates, then lifts a hand and knocks loudly at the front door.

Sometimes you just get that feeling someone is thinking about you. Even without the whole Sneeze Legend. It's been only an hour or so since Church has redone his bandages- and over that time he's already tried again. It still looks pretty crooked, under the open lounge-robe. As the door alerts him to someone outside, it takes a few moments and a growled "M'comin'" before he gets there. Even before opening it, he pulls his face away from the eyehole with a puzzled look on his face. When the door does finally open, it opens to show Church in Spongebob pajama pants, and that open robe hanging over his frame. Don't be hatin' on the Sponge.

"Elle?" Though Lawrence looks tired, he isn't- his eyes are just tinted that way, and his hair has dried the direction he had combed it back in.

Canting her head to one side as the door is opened, Elle arches a brow at his choice in attire, giving him a quick once-over. "Nice PJs, Lawrence," she quips, flashing him a quick smirk. Unlike him, she both looks and feels exhausted, with dark circles beneath her eyes as if she hadn't slept. She rises up on her toes enough to peer around him into the apartment, as if he might have someone inside, though she's reasonably certain that he doesn't. It's Church, after all. As she pulls her attention back to her colleague, she asks, "Can I come in?"

She knows him all too well. Just Church, his fish, and some sort of voice floating out of the stereo near the television. And he might smell like smoke. Actually, that's pretty much a certainty. To match, the man does stick his head out in the hall to peer around, all the while stepping aside anyway and offering her a short smile. "Don't tell me you don't have something with cartoon characters on it." He almost wore Wile E. pants, which may have been more fitting, really. "Yeah, doll, come in."

Stepping into the apartment once he steps out of the way, Elle slides her coat off her shoulders and sets it aside, leaving her knitted hat and gloves nearby. Being Bob's daughter, and having him treat her like she's a child still, she very likely owns cartoon character pyjamas. "If I do, you'll never find out," she replies with a touch of amusement in her voice, looking back over her shoulder to him once inside. Her eyes drop to his bandage now, finally taking in that it's set askew, as a slight frown appears on her face. Looking back up to his face, she asks, "How are you feeling?"

Church shuts the door by leaning on it until it shuts, arms choosing to hang at his sides instead. When Elle does drop her look to his bandages, one of his hands does finally lift to try and shift his robe over them. He's not paying enough attention, so it doesn't really work that well. "I'm.. better." Not good. just better than before. When Lawrence moves into his apartment again, it is at a careful shuffle; almost as if he were talking with a thorn in his foot. "Doctors gave me painkillers for home, but unless they force them down my throat, I haven't been taking them. I really hate taking pills. Seems like they just.. burn up anyway." Church breaks his soured expression with a laugh. "What brings you here?" In other words: You never visit.

Clucking her tongue like a chiding mother, Elle shakes her head as Church admits to having neglected the pain killers given to him by the doctor. "You should try taking them," she says in a sing-song tone, though she hardly speaks with conviction. She's mostly admonishing him for amusement's sake. She gestures to the partially-obscured bandages, asking, "Do you want me to fix those?" Her weight shifts anxiously between her feet; clearly, she's hesitant to explain why she's here at all, given that it's such a rare occurrence. "I just wanted to talk to someone."

If she doesn't feel like telling him the whole story, he might not be okay with that- but if she's only stalling and deciding what to say, that is another story. He decides to leave it be for longer, taking her initial explanation at face value. Lawrence gives a small nod at that last part, the hand half-pulling on the robe giving a slight fidget. "I was having trouble. My arms don't bend that direction. …Not anymore." He gives Elle the smallest of squints. "…please?"

"Uh-huh. Not sure they ever bent that way, Larry." With another swift smirk cast his way, Elle leads him towards the sofa, motioning for him to sit down. "You've been old my entire life." When he's seated in front of her, she carefully lowers herself to her knees. "Going to have to lose the robe, Grandpa." Is she asking him to undress? Why yes, she is, but only so that she can get to the bandages more easily. She falls silent for a short while, her attention fixed on the bandages as she unwinds them. Slowly, trepidatiously, she starts to speak when she's safely distracted by her task. "I've been thinking," she begins, her voice tremulous as she struggles to come up with the right words for what she wants to say. "You've been doing this, working for the Company, for a long time. Do you ever think that we're…" Okay, so this isn't as easy as she thought it might be. "That what we're doing is wrong?"

"I haven't! Not really…" Lawrence sighs in exasperation as Elle sits him down. "I've dated girls younger than you being this /old/." That word tastes like yuck. Ew. He lets her do what she's probably done at some point before; he was never good at self-treatment. Lawrence listens more carefully when Elle speaks again, his head tilting just a bit- expectant. He is not sure where the young woman is headed with that until she finishes.

His first considerations are mainly along the lines of 'Elle cares?' but he soon decides that was mean to even think. Now it has turned into intuition that something could actually be wrong here. "…Sometimes." Lawrence has to think hard and quick all of a sudden, and the fact he was smoking something that was certainly Not Tobacco before this is not helping. "Especially when I see some of my colleagues and superiors working their own agendas." Which seems all more prevalent these days. He does his best to look her in the eyes- and if she doesn't let him, just Elle's face. "What I do is not wrong. I was brought up doing what the entire operation was made to do. I'm old school Modus Operandi." Church gives her a slight smirk. "I help people that need help, and stop people that need stopping- all while maintaining as much privacy for the …for people like us as possible."

Listening attentively to Church as he speaks, Elle is reluctant to look away from the bandages, thankful to have them as justifcation for refusing to meet his gaze. If she were to do that, she might have to let him see just how childlike and vulnerable she can be, at times - though it likely wouldn't come as a surprise. No, she doesn't once look up to his face, as if wrapping bandages really took all that much dedication. The little quip isn't lost on her, and she snickers once, beneath her breath, before sobering again. "How do you even know who needs stopping?" Recalling at least one person she wouldn't deem a threat to ending the world who was held captive by the Company, Elle frowns. "What do you when the people in charge tell you to do something that you shouldn't?" She's really dragging this bandaging thing out, by now. "I mean, that you think you shouldn't." Exhaling, she rolls her eyes. "I don't even know what I'm trying to say."

"If they're a constant, immediate, and possibly public threat." Church is quick to define that, but it is obviously openly considering the ones that are trying Not To Be nuisances. Everyone gets chances(though not too many). "I try to explain the other side, I guess. If they don't budge and I really think it's wrong, then sometimes I purposefully mess it up. That at least leaves more thought to how it's being handled. And at this point, if someone doesn't listen to my concerns, they're making a mistake. I've been there a damn long time." He makes a quick glance around the room, as if Bob or Noah might jump out from behind the kitchen counter or out from under a recliner. After making sure this is not the case, Lawrence relaxes more. There is still something tense there as Elle works- probably worry that he'll mess her bandaging up. "I can't explain to you what you're trying to say, Elle. If it's as important as it sounds, take your time, sunshine."

"I can't tell you what's going on." Finally looking up, Elle slides back from the sofa now that she's finished with the bandages, and her expression is apologetic - for the conversation, not for the first aid. "I don't want to get you involved in my mess," she explains, running a hand back through her hair as she flicks her eyes away. As she speaks, she alternates between fleeting eye contact with Church and looking… well, anywhere else, really. "But I don't know what to do any more. Remember when I came to visit at the hospital, and I said I had a project? I didn't tell anyone what I was doing. I still haven't. But I— I kind of screwed it up." Surprise, surprise. "As an agent, I'm expected to tell them, but I know what they would do. What they would tell me to do. And I can't do it, because now I'm not so sure I should."

Elle being so vague isn't helping, concentration-wise, but Church is trying. He catches her eyes when she does look at him, and there's not a whole lot else to be concentrating on besides him. The fish, the stereo, a magazine on the coffee table- his home is uncluttered, and the possibly the most interesting things happen to be the furniture.

Lawrence remembers the 'project'. And now that she explains that it has messed up, he feels all the worse for not pressing the matter before. Suddenly, he has another realization- most of the others that she could have gone to are stubborn and immobile on that whole 'you screwed up' thing.

"It's good that you're looking out for something, but you'll never know what someone could do to help you fix whatever it is, or ruin it further, unless you find out. It's a necessary evil that you find out every route, even if it might seem like it could go horribly wrong. Sure, lots of us are apparently grumpy old men- but unfortunately- with age comes experience, Elle. It's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission, anyway." In some ways, he's telling her she's wrong, but in some, he's saying she was right to be hesitant.

"What if…" Dancing around the real subject here is becoming more and more difficult as this conversation carries on, and Elle's frustration is beginning to show. Needing to move, she pushes up from the ground and moves away from the sofa, searching for another distraction to use to keep her eyes anywhere but on his. She doesn't want to have to see his reactions. It's the aquarium that draws her attention now, and she traces a finger lightly along the glass, ducking her head to watch the fish.

"What if they made you do something that was wrong," Elle continues, tracing the path of one fish in particular with her finger, "and you knew that what you did ruined lives." Nice avoidance, Elle. She's cautious with her words, but there's always the chance that she isn't choosing them carefully enough. "But then you got a chance to fix it, to— make up for what you did." Turning back to face him now, she tips her head slightly to one side. "Would you do it? Even if it meant going against the Company? Or would you tell them, so they can ruin more lives and watch more people die?"

Church watches Elle's back as she wanders over to the fish tank, eyes practically boring into her blonde hair. If she bothers to try and look, his reflection in the glass has him now looking away from her and across the rug. If Elle may not be choosing her words carefully enough, and Lawrence is being led into yet another realization- he is not verbal with it. Not specifically.

"I think… it would depend on how important they were to me."

That says it, right there, and for a split second Elle's face becomes so despairing and lost that she looks as if she might break down right there. "I don't even know the answer to that," she says helplessly, dropping her hands to her sides in resignation. Wanting to say something else, she tries once, stops herself— and then she tries a second time, with the same result. Her eyes dart to the door, her demeanor at once becoming more anxious. "I should go."

Church puts his hands to the edge of the sofa and makes a valiant attempt to push himself up- he barely succeeds in that, and so he uses his momentum to keep moving and step over to where Elle has idled out near the tank. "Elle." He doesn't aim to spook her or seem too overbearing, but the man does reach out to put a hand on her arm. "I can't tell you what to do- you know I've been trying that for years with no luck." Ahaha. Well, it's probably true. "I can just offer advice." Church smiles warily, but in the end, he does his best. "Do what you think is the right thing- but remember that if it's not what They think is right- you have to be prepared to face those consequences."

Tipping her head back to look up to him, meeting his eyes once more, Elle manages a slight smile at his words. It's vaguely rueful; she can imagine the consequences all too well, and they're things she never wants to experience. Even still… "Thanks," she says, knowing how strange the word is to say given the conversation they've had. "I'll see you soon. If you need someone to change those again, you know where to find me." That said, she moves away to retrieve her coat and hat, slipping them on quickly. She has to leave before she lets anything more incriminating out, she thinks, reaching for the door. Before she can step outside, however, she turns back to look at him one final time. "I can't believe you're wearing Spongebob Squarepants pyjamas."

Church wraps his robe carefully around his middle, a silent thank you even before he says it. "You're welcome. And thanks for helping me out, Elle. If you ever need anything, you do know how to get a hold of me." His smile grows into his usual grinning expression when she pauses in her departure. "Face it, kiddo, you could have caught me in much worse." Or retroactively, in nothing at all. Both hands cross carefully over his middle as he follows her to the door, and both of his eyebrows have waggled upwards. That's our Church. He's just being a bastid.

Raising a hand, Elle forms a mock gun with her thumb and index finger, closing one eye as she pretends to shoot him. "Don't make me shock you, Larry." Regaining some of her more playful nature in her final statement, she flashes him a more genuine smile now and pulls the door open. With one last wave, she slips through the open door, closing it behind her.

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