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16 April 2008 @ 11:24 pm
Philosopher's Stone (Tabula Rasa Re-Remix) [Heroes; The Haitian; PG]  
Title: Philosopher's Stone (Tabula Rasa Re-Remix)
Author: poisontaster
Summary: He takes what he can.
Rating: PG
Fandom: Heroes
Warnings: Dark themes.
Spoilers: Mild, for "Four Months Ago" & "Cautionary Tales".
Original Story: Philosopher's Stone by brighteyed_jill

At first, it is only a blur of flesh-pink and yellow.

Her eyes are not yet able to focus that far.

It comes closer and she is lifted into the air. The face comes into focus: straggling blonde hair, a snub nose peeling with sunburn and dotted with freckles. Sun-lines around the sea-blue eyes that are just starting to become wrinkles, laugh lines around the smiling mouth.

Hey. Hey, you. Are you my little one? Yes, you are!

The baby is too young to know the word for this smell, this feeling, this person, but he is not. He remembers this feeling and the name for it all too well:

Mama.


The first memory that Bob Bishop makes him remove from his daughter Elle's memory is that of her mother.

Elle is only ten months old at the time; there's hardly enough memory there to make it worth the effort and little enough that Elle would've remembered in any case. But his is not to question why.

"My daughter is a very strong young woman," Bishop tells him proudly, stroking the toddler's head with the same possessiveness that Titi Frita used to stroke her cat ZouZou.

Bishop requires no answer and he doesn't give one.

The memory of Elle's mother hums beneath his skin, subharmonic vibration.

< O >


She keeps screaming but they won't stop.

The straps hold her down and she can't run away. She knows her dad is there, behind the blackened mirror glass; she screams for him over and over again, but he doesn't come.

She doesn't know what she did wrong, but her dad doesn't come.

He doesn't come.


Elle is five the next time he sees her. She's young to be brought in for testing, but Bishop insists. Victoria Pratt tries to remind him that there's no guarantee that the offspring of two enhanced human will also be enhanced, but Bishop is adamant. Elle is gifted. There is no other possibility.

He has to be present for the testing. He always has to be on hand for testing; if the subject's abilities are dangerous, he's the only one that can control them quickly and with no loss of staff or subject. He is a valuable commodity. They tell him this all the time, usually followed by some variation of That one. There.

Gifts often manifest under situations of severe stress. They explain this to him with great solemnity and small words—Bennet, Thompson, Bishop...even the man they call Raines—as if that somehow mitigates the monstrousness. Too often, they mistake silence for stupidity and he does nothing to disabuse them of that notion.

He finds it even more revolting to watch them perform these tests on a child, and not only a child, but one of their own. They scoff at his home as a land of butchers but he cannot fathom an abomination such as this. But he does not let any of that show on his face.

You must hold your tongue, his Maman said to him once when he was very young, and listen. Learn all that you can. And then you will know what to do.

How literally he takes her words now.

Another man—Bennet, for example—would have excused himself, unable to watch a child of his go through such pain. Bennet even suggests it, the concern he can never completely hide showing behind his glasses, but Bishop won't hear of it, affronted at the mere suggestion. He watches every moment of Elle's torture, eyes avid and huge behind the myopic rounds of his glasses, mouth half-open in expectation, eagerness. It is obscene.

But it's not his place to comment.

He takes true and great pleasure in taking those memories from her, though, sealing over the gap in her mind with blissful ignorance.

< O >


She didn't mean to.

Her grandma had made her so mad; it wasn't her fault.

A small-drawn up fist. Soft house-dress fabric against her fingertips. The dry, throat-catch grit of smoke. A smell like summer barbeques. Gold-blue-orange of flame, licking the sky.


"You should let him take the memory."

He looks down at his hands while Bennet and Bishop argue. He's used to them talking about him like he's not there. Really, it's preferable.

"No!" Bishop insists. "Elle needs to know what she's capable of."

"She needs to know she's capable of killing her own grandmother?"

"Elle doesn't need anyone but me. She's a tough kid."

"Bob, she's just a kid."

"Never too old to learn. This place won't run itself and we're not all Adam. I've got to separate the dross from the gold, Noah. Elle's got heavy burdens to shoulder, she might as well get used to the weight. She can handle it."

Thompson double-taps on the doorframe. He looks up from his interlaced hands in time to see Thompson nod at him. "If you boys are finished, I've got a plane waiting. We've got an appointment."

He gets up from his chair. Bennet and Bishop immediately go back to arguing and Thompson turns away, confident that he'll follow.

Of course he will.

He doesn't dare take the memory—Bishop would know—but he runs gentle fingers across her forehead, offering what little comfort he can.

< O >


There are many memories, spread across years. Decades.

Bishop edits his daughter's life—his daughter's mind—ruthlessly, purging any moment he regards as weakness (a kitten's fur. a finger painted rainbow. ice cream cones shared with a babysitter. a caress to the cheek. an idle compliment from a stranger. a disobeyed order) and leaving all the rest. Every moment of cruelty, casual and deliberate. Every sharp word. Every vindictive, vicious, mean thought and action Elle's ever had.

He watches her grow, a thing that walks and talks like a girl but has no girl left inside her.

On his desk, Bishop has a bonsai tree, over-pruned and sickly. He thinks this must stand in lieu of any photographic portrait of Elle, because Bishop's desk and office are bare of any more personal touches than that stunted, ailing tree.

He is not an equal here; he is servant and never master. He is not allowed to comment and his opinion is not solicited.

But he serves greater masters than these petty men with their soiled schemes of power.

He collects these kindnesses, these moments of human weakness, human tenderness and holds them close, living in the faith that somewhere, in all the great wide world, he will someday find the means to return them again.
 
 
 
Zulu: j and w - love lightzulu on April 19th, 2008 10:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow. This is chilling. Love the POV--it's always nice to get some internal monologue from the Haitian. And that last section, ouch ouch ouch. I'm glad it ends with even a sliver of hope.
40 Acres & a Strip Club: Nathanpoisontaster on April 26th, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you! One of the draws to this story was that I've never written any of these characters (Bob, Elle or The Haitian), so it was a pleasure to remix, but also a challenge, to access new characters from an already beloved show.
BrightEyes: Bunny Squeebrighteyed_jill on April 19th, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
*squees*

Thank you thank you Mystery Remixer! I actually had a gut feeling that this fic might be chosen by whoever remixed me, which is great because I have a special soft spot in my heart for this story. Thrilled that this is from the Haitian's point of view. We don't get to see enough of the Haitian, I feel, and I'm sure he has very strong opinions regarding what goes on at the Company.

The scene with Elle's mother when she's a baby--aww. Hey. Hey, you. Are you my little one? Yes, you are! Poor baby Elle! Poor Elle's mommy!

I like the progression of Bob's bringing her in many different times, and the Haitian's view of Bob's motivation. And the Haitian has mercy, too. Love this line: He takes true and great pleasure in taking those memories from her, though, sealing over the gap in her mind with blissful ignorance. Also loved the fact that he considered taking away a bad memory even though Bob wouldn't want him to.

Then all of this:

Bishop edits his daughter's life—his daughter's mind—ruthlessly, purging any moment he regards as weakness (a kitten's fur. a finger painted rainbow. ice cream cones shared with a babysitter. a caress to the cheek. an idle compliment from a stranger. a disobeyed order) and leaving all the rest. Every moment of cruelty, casual and deliberate. Every sharp word. Every vindictive, vicious, mean thought and action Elle's ever had.

He watches her grow, a thing that walks and talks like a girl but has no girl left inside her.

On his desk, Bishop has a bonsai tree, over-pruned and sickly. He thinks this must stand in lieu of any photographic portrait of Elle, because Bishop's desk and office are bare of any more personal touches than that stunted, ailing tree.


Wonderful description and metaphor of what Bob's done to his daughter. Just fabulous. I do like that you've left the ending a little hopeful. The Haitian seems like a man who would be concerned about undoing the wrongs he's done, so that seemed very in character for him.

Thank you thank you thank you remixer!
40 Acres & a Strip Club: Woo-Hoopoisontaster on April 26th, 2008 04:35 pm (UTC)
You have no idea how pleased I am that you liked this. I actually read a few of your stories, but this one had such a strong pull for me. I've never actually written anything about Bob, Elle or The Haitian before so, even though I'm very familiar with the show, it was a wonderful challenge and a way to revisit it from a different point of view than I normally do.

But the core of the story, the idea of Bob TRANSMUTING his daughter, trying to refine her into gold the way he does with his talent...it's a tremendous idea and I really loved your story. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Marenmarenfic on April 19th, 2008 11:52 pm (UTC)
Great choice to write this from the Haitian's pov. It adds a level of empathy to an otherwise brutal picture of abuse and manipulation.
40 Acres & a Strip Club: Booty Dancepoisontaster on April 26th, 2008 04:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm completely fascinated with the opacity of the Haitian's character. We know so little about him, his thoughts, his motivations. And yet, he's as much a prisoner in his own way as Elle.
Celli: Mohinder & Molly hugcelli on April 20th, 2008 12:13 am (UTC)
Wow, really well done. This is heartbreaking to read.
40 Acres & a Strip Club: Excellentpoisontaster on April 26th, 2008 04:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Avendya: Doctor Who - Eightavendya on April 20th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
This is brutal and beautiful. Writing this from the Haitian's point of view was inspired, and it carries all the depth and beauty that the show never quite managed for him.
40 Acres & a Strip Club: Nathanpoisontaster on April 26th, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! There is so much potentiality to his character and so very much we don't know about him.
Christina K  (jackelope hunter!)butterflykiki on April 20th, 2008 04:19 am (UTC)
*winces at this* Ow, ow, and agreeing with everyone on how good this is. Both for the Haitian (And can they please get that guy a name?) and for Elle. Like the little telling touches, how Bennet couldn't have done the same thing, and the hope that maybe it can be fixed, someday.
40 Acres & a Strip Club: awesomepoisontaster on April 26th, 2008 04:39 pm (UTC)
Man. It was SO HARD to write this without a name. But I didn't want to just give him a random name at the same time. *shakes head* But thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it; it was great fun to write.
Ms Cranky Pants of the Depresso Blog: Be Bravebofoddity on April 20th, 2008 11:44 am (UTC)
This was very creepy, but also very heartbreaking. I loved the Haitian's compassion for Elle, and I love that the story ends on a note of hope despite the darkness. Elle deserves that, at least.
40 Acres & a Strip Club: Woo-Hoopoisontaster on April 26th, 2008 04:40 pm (UTC)
I agree. It's so easy to dislike Elle because of the things she does...but she's so very much a product of her environment. You can't raise a child as she was and not expect them to be warped. And, given his usefulness, you have to imagine that The Haitian has seen so much of the really bad things that The Company has done.

Thanks!
thedeadparrot: hirothedeadparrot on April 20th, 2008 01:47 pm (UTC)
Ooh, yes. I love this POV and how much it sees. Creepy and awesome.
40 Acres & a Strip Club: Nathanpoisontaster on April 26th, 2008 04:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
The Hyacinth Girl: Fandom: Heroes (1)fallingtowers on April 20th, 2008 02:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is fabulous! In a pretty disturbing way. But I like the fact that you give both the Haitian a voice and some more explanation for Elle's callous cruelty and obedience.
40 Acres & a Strip Club: Flailspoisontaster on April 26th, 2008 04:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Really, I worked with the seeds of brighteyed_jill's wonderful story, but it was fun to explore it from the POV of the man who has to actually DO these things to other people because he's ordered to do so.
Sophinisba Solis: white flowersophinisba on April 21st, 2008 03:21 am (UTC)
He takes true and great pleasure in taking those memories from her, though, sealing over the gap in her mind with blissful ignorance.

Oh, that's wonderful. I really like the way you did the Haitian's POV.
40 Acres & a Strip Club: Woo-Hoopoisontaster on April 26th, 2008 04:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Lady Not-Appearing-In-This-Film: bennet awesomedemonqueen666 on April 21st, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
There really aren't enough stories about the Haitian, or Elle for that matter. I like this dark, slanted glimpse at how she became what she is, and I love that you chose the Haitian as the vehicle for doing it.
40 Acres & a Strip Club: Hee!poisontaster on April 26th, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you! This was my first time writing about any of these characters (The Haitian, Bob, Elle) and it was interesting to see how much I'd really focused on my "favorite" characters before. It was a lot of fun and the original story is fascinating.
liz_marcsliz_marcs on April 21st, 2008 11:37 pm (UTC)
Ow, ow, ow. Wonderfully written. It's both chilling and warm at the same time. And what a lovely way to contrast Noah and Bob, as well as Bishop to everyone else.

Very powerful.
40 Acres & a Strip Club: Excellentpoisontaster on April 26th, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC)
*curtseys* Thank you! High praise indeed.
The Teasemaster: heroes - elle is electrictinylegacies on April 22nd, 2008 12:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, this (and the original) gave me chills.

It's a fascinating look at what made Elle the way she is and I love the way you portrayed the Haitian's reluctance to play his part in it.
40 Acres & a Strip Club: Nathanpoisontaster on April 26th, 2008 04:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I really think the Haitian is in a strange and unique position to see HOW BAD the abuse of power is within the Company. They treat him like a servant; he's omnipresent, but at the same time, he's invisible to them. They treat him like a tool, not a person.
Sabbath: Tyrol Brokenmillari on April 24th, 2008 03:19 am (UTC)
Wow. I don't really read Heroes fanfic usually, but someone on my flist recced this community, and so when I saw the tag for The Haitian, I couldn't resist, because he's always been my favorite character on that show, and such a mystery.

I went and read the original story first, which was excellent, but this is amazing too. What a great response to the Bob-centered piece. I loved the way you reworked the memory editing idea so that it retained its original chilling nature and yet also had touches of mercy here and there. And it was so interesting to hear how The Haitian viewed his masters at The Company, how he sees himself as a captive much like Elle, but he also can stay emotionally detached enough from his captivity to still believe in a future where he might be free and might someday be able to give Elle some of her positive memories back.

Great job!
40 Acres & a Strip Club: Woo-Hoopoisontaster on April 26th, 2008 04:50 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks for giving it a try! I really toyed with what POV to write from, but I also find The Haitian to be a fascinating character and there's so little commentary on his position in the hierarchy and what he does and is forced to do by the nature of his gift.

So glad you liked it! Thanks!
(Deleted comment)
40 Acres & a Strip Club: awesomepoisontaster on April 26th, 2008 04:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
indyhatindyhat on April 25th, 2008 09:47 pm (UTC)
Like this!

He watches her grow, a thing that walks and talks like a girl but has no girl left inside her.

Lovely, haunting line.
40 Acres & a Strip Club: OMGYAY!poisontaster on April 26th, 2008 04:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
Krissambethe on April 26th, 2008 04:13 pm (UTC)
Ow. Utterly heartbreaking.
40 Acres & a Strip Club: I'm Awesomepoisontaster on April 26th, 2008 04:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you!