2008-02-02: We Used to Be Friends

Starring:

Meryl_icon.gif Elle_icon.gif

Summary: Elle stops by Meryl's apartment to return something she left behind. Meryl isn't quite over the whole being shot by Elle thing.

Date It Happened: February 2nd, 2008

We Used to Be Friends


Meryl Wolfe's Apartment - NYC, NY

The sounds of television come from inside the apartment. Meryl is watching Jeopardy, and has not gotten one single question right.

Her door is propped open with a box - it's the last of several she's been dragging in, each of which contains Stuff - a few teddy bears, some old clothes, a broken Apple IIe so she can salvage the parts next time she's bored — Stuff. Actually, she's thinking about making a Maquarium with the old Apple, but she'll still be keeping the parts anyway. Imagine a picture frame with a gloriously mounted eighties motherboard inside! Aaah, Meryl would have made a good geek. It's too bad she's batshit insane.

Tiger sits atop a nearby shelf, watching. He really needs to get back to Kitty at some point. "What are yams," Meryl replies to the Jeopardy answer 'This city is the capitol of New South Wales.' One would think she'd know an Australian capitol.

Stepping out into the hall, she starts to shove the box inside her apartment.

—-

Ascending the stairs at a slow pace, Elle trails one hand along the railing, a frown set deep upon her brow. Though she looks to be in a better state than the last time Meryl saw her, there are still aspects of her appearance which betray her emotional state: her hair is tied back in a simple ponytail, somewhat unkempt; she wears no make-up or typically stylish clothes, opting instead for a wrap sweater and jeans; and there's no hint of her typical mischievous nature as she steps out onto the fifth floor landing.

Drawing in a sharp breath, Elle hesitates before moving forward. Why is she even here? Some part of her must be wanting to be taken back - a strange, unhealthy attachment to the part of her life that reminds her most of her father. Trepidatiously, she moves forward down the hall, pausing suddenly when the woman appears in the hallway.

Her voice somewhat meek, she calls from a slight distance away, "Meryl?"

—-

After managing to move the box a whole half an inch, she hears her name. "Don't bother, I didn't do it, and besides that, it was an — " she gives the box another shove. "…Accident. Anyway, I wasn't here at the time. You'll have to contact my lawyer." Hm. The box doesn't seem to want to move, which makes Meryl stand, hands on her hips, weight settled on one leg.

Wait, that voice sounds familiar.

Pushing her currently flyaway and somewhat damp hair out of her eyes, she offers a smile to the blonde. "Hey, girl," she says quietly, gently, consolingly. She doesn't seem angry, but it's always kind of hard to tell what mood Meryl's in at any given time. The reality of the matter is … well, her mind started going as soon as she heard Elle's voice. Poor girl. It was a bad idea to show up here. But, well. Orders are orders, and Elle did cause a blackout, so… "Where's Gray? Guy's attached to your hip like a Plutonian Warbl-Warrack. Never thought I'd see you without 'im."

—-

As she takes another pair of steps down the hall, Elle traces her fingers lightly along the wall; but her hand drops to her side when Meryl speaks to her directly, hitting her leg with a quiet sound. "He's not here," she states plainly, shaking her head faintly. Why be indirect? Then again, were she feeling more herself, she likely would have adopted a sarcastic tone and cracked a joke.

No, Elle is not feeling at all herself. She even takes another step forward, knowing she shouldn't, knowing that the gears in Meryl's head must be turning fast. Or maybe they aren't. It's difficult to know, without being Meryl (and even then, Elle doubts that the woman is all that conscientious of what goes on in her own head). "I brought you something."

—-

A summary of what is going on in Meryl's head: //Did I leave the gas on!? No, I'm — I'm a fucking squirrel! // Now just repeat that with several different accents, and you're set.

No, there are other things, too, like how she's going to cart Elle home when she's got the whole lightning thing going on. There's always the easy way - water. Throw a bucket of it on her and she's helpless as a kitten! But, no. Too obvious. Seriously, saying 'Elle, please hold still while I dump this water on you' is going to arouse suspicion. There's something else going through her mind, too.

She wasn't lying when she told Gabriel that Elle is a friend. A former colleague, sure, but still a friend. You know, when she's not shooting Meryl in the ribcage and running off with a killer. "Look— " She gives the box another good shove, and finally gets it inside the apartment. Leaning on the door to keep it open, she asks, "You want to come in for a sec? I just made… something, and I'd eat it, except I might die from it, and I'd feel a whole lot better if someone else tried it first. They're supposed to be cookies, but I'll let you decide. By the way? In case you forgot, you shot me. Look!" Aaaand she pulls up her shirt right there in the hall. "I got a cool scar and everything. Not… quite sure why you did it, though. That's got me puzzled. Anyway." She nods into her apartment. "What'd you bring?"

—-

This is where, a week ago, red flags would have started springing up in Elle's mind. At the very least, she might have approached this situation with significantly more caution. But then, she's always been a teensy bit gullible when it comes to people she cares about, and Meryl is playing right to that.

Just when she's thinking of nodding her head and accepting the invitation inside, however, the woman has to go and hike up her shirt. The reminder of her mistake is vivid and painful, and Elle grimaces openly, turning her head away. "God, Mer," she exhales helplessly, slowly turning back to face the woman. "I." This would be a bad time to tell her what she has hidden inside her sweater. "You left something in the parking lot the other night." Or, you know, Gabriel took it from her.

—-

Meryl pokes the wound. It looks old now, like it healed years ago. That's just Bekah's ability at work, though! Not that the girl didn't grump the whole time, but Meryl got back on her feet pretty fast. It doesn't hurt physically anymore, and while the memory is painful, it's hard to tell by looking at Meryl's face. She's beaming like her face is radioactive.

Smoothing her shirt back down into place, she shrugs. "Eh, just another war story. S'fun. Y'know, fun." That's where her feelings creep out. Quiet and somewhat subdued, Meryl turns into her apartment, and holds the door open so that Elle can come in. "I just wanna know why you did it, Elly. I was givin' you a chance to get away. I called the Pizza guy." Beat. "…Accidentally," is added, just in case someone's listening in. Paranoia runs high in the Company. Meryl really didn't want to see Elle caught at the time. It would have been better if she'd decided to return on her own.

Her mood does yet another one-eighty. "Basil!? YOU BROUGHT BASIL!!?" …Basil being what she's named her Beretta. Which is coincidentally also the name of her guinea pig.

—-

If she weren't dealing with substantial loss, if it wasn't always present in the back of her mind, then Elle might just be amused by the way Meryl's mood seems to switch tracks every few seconds. Particularly when the woman is quite so elated to hear that she might have brought along a certain Beretta.

As it stands, Elle does manage a fleeting, half-hearted little smile as she steps into the doorway, hesitant to go any further. "I can't really stay, Mer," she explains, her tone sincerely apologetic. "But I know this matters to you." Pulling the weapon from the waist of her jeans, she holds it out to Meryl, gripping it by the barrel. "Does it really matter why I did it?"

—-

YAY! Oh god, she thought she lost it forever! "This. This is why we're BFFEAEURFAED." And she actually hugs the gun, before leaving Elle's side to go put it in its rightful place - safe, tucked away in the drawer that she reverantly opens. There's the creak of hinges as she opens a case, as well.

"Custom detailing, all in purple enamel. S'got my name on it, Elle. Thought Gray was gonna keep it for sure. I know I would." As she continues to put the weapon away, she looks over her shoulder, smiling. "I know you can't stay, but I really appreciate you stopping by. I really did just want to talk to you." Sigh. "Well, that's not entirely true, and I guess it doesn't matter why you did it."

There's very little sound as Meryl turns around and fires the Beretta, now with a silencer attached to the end so no one hears it. Her aim is very specifically at Elle's shin so the girl can't run off and Meryl is trusting that she isn't going to be fried by lightning. She's hoping, anyway. "…Because I was gonna shoot you anyway."

—-

Though she might wish she could say that she expected this might happen, the truth is, Elle is caught entirely off-guard when Meryl turns around to fire. No realization dawns upon her in the last second, no change in her expression registers until the bullet slams into flesh and bone, eliciting a cry of pain and surprise that isn't quite a scream. The impact drives her back into the hallway a step or two before she falls backward, landing on the ground with a thud.

The bullet struck home, precisely where Meryl had hoped for it to hit. A growing stain of blood mars the front of her jeans, and Elle struggles to pull herself back away from the door, her wail of pain having deteriorated into a continuous whimper punctuated by sobs of pain. She doesn't deal well with pain.

She wishes, too, that she could say that she felt betrayed by Meryl's actions, but she'd only just given Gabriel a speech about Company agents following orders. Though her instinctual response is to lash out with her ability - and indeed, her hand lights up with blue electricity as she pulls herself backward - Elle restrains herself. Tipping her head back against the wall with her eyes closed, letting out another cry of pain, she chokes out, "Meryl, please."

—-

Meryl didn't want to do it. Or maybe she did. She probably did, but it still doesn't feel right. One good turn deserves another, though - isn't that the truth? And so now she's shot Elle, and they're even or something. Putting the firearm into the drawer and closing it, Meryl heads into the hallway to retrieve her friend.

There it is. There's the lightning.

"Elle," she says, voice quite serious - surprisingly so. Ah, crap. Now she's going to die painfully! Thankfully, the former Agent decides that it might not be such a great idea to have a firefight here in the hallway, or maybe Elle's just too weak. Either way, Meryl's grateful.

Looking both ways to make sure no one's around, Meryl picks Elle up easily, and carries her into the apartment, setting her down on the floor in front of her couch. The door closes behind her, but when Meryl stands to go get medical supplies, she checks it to make sure it's locked before heading out of the front room.

"I'm sorry, Elle," she calls from somewhere farther back in the house. "I truly am. If they found out you were here, though…" Leaving the statement open-ended, she returns with bandages and antiseptic. "Look, it's a roundabout way of… dealing with things, but I don't want some other Agent to decide to put a bullet between your eyes." She's doing this because she wants Elle to live, ironically.

—-

It takes every bit of concentration for Elle to keep from snapping when Meryl carries her into the apartment, the arc dissipating before the woman stoops to lift her from the floor. Steeling herself against the pain of being moved around in this way, she grits her teeth, trying not to cry out with marginal success.

"Jesus christ, Mer," she manages to say, albeit haltingly given the searing pain in her leg, in response to nothing that the woman has said since firing the gun. "I thought you were going to take us in. Gabriel couldn't use his ability, so I thought— " And now it's becoming obvious that Elle was devastatingly wrong in her assumption, much as she may not want to admit it. "— I thought you had the Haitian with you. I couldn't let you call for back-up, but you soaked me. I didn't have a choice."

—-

"And what do you think they would have done, Elle, if it looked like I hadn't tried?" she snaps, meeting Elle's gaze with silver-green eyes. Meryl's bordering on angry. "You were an Agent. You know what they do when people fail, so— so Jesus Christ yourself. I had to make it look convincing. Doesn't mean you had to shoot me." Ah, yes, she is pissed off about it, despite neglecting to show any negativity about it before. "I told you I was bloody alone. Someone in the store must be able to negate. 'Aven't figured out who yet, but I assure you, on my life, I didn't have the Haitian there. Even if I did, you didn't have to shoot me."

As she works on bandaging the leg to control the bleeding - and she does pull the bandage a little too tight - her lower lip sticks out in a pout. No, Meryl, you can't cry now, but she almost wants to. "And if— if our situations were reversed, I wouldn'na shot you. So." Finishing up the bandaging, she meets Elle's eyes again. Her own are a little glazed, brows knitted. "I really — I have to take you in."

—-

"How the hell was I supposed to know that you didn't have him?" Though her tone bears a lingering tinge of regret, Elle can't help but give in to some of her own anger now. Some of it isn't even fair to direct at Meryl, vestiges of rage left from the incident at Pinehearst. But getting riled up this way helps keep her mind off the pain in her leg, particularly once Meryl starts wrapping the bandage too tight.

"You don't have to take me anywhere," she hisses out in pain and frustration both, curling her hands into fists against the ground as Meryl tends to her leg. "I didn't know. You didn't— It's not my fault!" Her fingernails dig into the palms of her hands, eyes closing swiftly again. "I'm sorry, Mer. I'm sorry!"

—-

"Well y'coulda asked!!" Meryl half-shouts. "I mean, if I 'ad 'im, 'e woulda been loomin' in the doorway like some… giant… looming… Guy." Eloqence isn't Meryl's strong point, and her frustration brings out the accent more, makes her less understandable than usual. "Nevahmind. Just…" Trailing off, she wraps another layer of cotton and gauze over the wound. "I dunno if I broke your leg or not."

Of course, she pokes and prods at the wound. Hey, she's curious.

Then? Silence.

"People don't think I 'ave feelings. They think 'cuz I'm all brain-damaged, I can't … think or feel like a normal person." When she looks up at Elle again, she's quite teary now, despite the fact that she's not the one with a bullet in her leg. "But I was sad. We've known each other for years, and you still just… I feel like you threw that away. N' maybe people like you an' I can't afford to have friends." Finishing the bandaging, she sits down next to Elle, drawing her knees up. "We're even now."

—-

Leaning back against the sofa, Elle lets out a slow breath, her eyes drifting closed. This might just be the longest and most painful week of her life, in more ways than she can imagine. Each poke and prod of the wound in her leg has garnered a new cry of pain from the little blonde, but now that she's left alone, she gets by with only the occasional whimper. Until she tries to move, anyway.

"I don't have a lot of people I can trust," she says, her voice still strained. Understandable, given that she was just shot in the leg. "My own father used me as a lab rat, Mer. I don't— " Admitting her faults? Not one of Elle's favourite things. "— I don't know how to have friends. All I know is the Company and what they do."

—-

Things always look up. Always. Even if you have the worst week ever, you can always look forward to the light at the end of the tunnel. Things can't stay bad forever - et cetera.

Quietly, Meryl listens as Elle speaks. The Aussie didn't have powers and abilities for people to experiment with, and so there was no painful lab rat stage to her life where people could purposely hurt her in the name of science. No, she was just a normal human girl, whose life had been touched by an insane evolved madman. It was hard. Learning how to focus was the hardest thing she ever did. "I don't know how not to have friends," Meryl admits. Everyone she's ever met, with the exception of the number of people she can count on one hand, she's liked.

"We've both spent our lives in the Company. It's not fair, but Elle, you know— You know the premise is good." There are bad people and bad activities, like there are everywhere.

Switching topics, she asks gently, "Why were you so upset when we ran into each other?"

—-

The question warrants a long pause from Elle. She hasn't had to speak about it to anyone except Gabriel - and he had an idea of what had happened, so she could tiptoe around it, never having to acknowledge it outright. Ultimately, she decides that the direct route is the least likely to have her choke and stumble over her words, and she replies, "Someone killed my father."

And that is everything she wants to say about that. Instead, feeling her cheeks flush with colour, she scrambles to change the subject. There is nothing threatening about Elle's next words, spoken almost passively. "You know if you take me in, he's going to come for me."

—-

Wow. Bob Bishop is dead.

That's Meryl's first reaction. Second is the part where Elle's words sink in, and Meryl realises that Elle's dad is dead. Quietly, she reaches out and leans against the blonde, wrapping an arm around her shoulder. 'I'm sorry' doesn't cut it, really. "I just lost both my parents, too," she says. It's kind of not the same… They're still alive, but they'll never wake up again. "You coulda called, Elly. And if I woulda known…" Well, Meryl still probably would have shot her.

The next words will draw a shiver that Elle might even feel. The dark-haired woman is terrified of Sylar in the same way children are scared of monsters under the bed. Torn between facing the wrath of the Company and the wrath of one man is a hard choice. "Yeah, I know," she ultimately says. Think, Mer. Think. She mumbles something that sounds like 'Monkey in the middle.'

"I'm going to take you to Mt. Sinai. Consider what I say next carefully, Elle. I'll give you an hour after I drop you off to contact him before I call the Company and tell them where you are. I think… I think you should stop running, but it's your choice. There's a lot of people who would like to see you back."

—-

"I can't go back," Elle says quietly, resignation in her voice. "But I can talk to them." She has no reason to think that speaking with them will allow her to keep her freedom. She has no reason to think they won't just throw her into a cell and keep her sedated for the rest of her natural life, or steal her memories and start from scratch, or any of the other myriad measures she knows they could and would take.

"Mer?" Her head still resting against the sofa, eyes still closed, Elle is beginning to lose some of the colour in her face now. "Starting to feel like I'm gonna hurl. Maybe we should go now." Because this calm countenance isn't going to last much longer, if the shock starts to wear off.

—-

"Think about it. I'll take care of you." They both know that's a god-damned lie. If the Company wants something, the Company gets it. No one can watch another Agent's back, because there are too many other factors pressing in on all sides. In the end, Meryl is Company through and through, and even if she bends the rules now and then, she's not going to outright break them. She doesn't want to see Elle hurt, or memory-wiped, or otherwise destroyed.

Oh yeah. "Maybe I shouldn't have shot you before we talked," Meryl says, kneeling so she can lift Elle up, one arm under her knees, the other supporting her back. "You at least have to try to build some new bridges. I'd like to be able to have lunch with you once in awhile without having to call someone for backup."

Somehow, she'll manage to avoid the vast majority of the public all the way out to her car. Thankfully for Elle, if she can survive Meryl's driving, she can survive anything.

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