She wants to lay her head on the table.
When she can focus on one thing she's denying herself, one real thing, as though she could feel what it would be like to rest her body, cropped hair pressed into her temple by her folded arms, everything else she must not want or feel seems so much smaller. Elle's sitting straight in a fold-out chair, a ceramic mug of coffee in her hands. The machine in this room did work.
The door opens, but she doesn't look away from the spot of plaster she's been watching for the last half hour. It's not that she hasn't noticed, nor is her gaze determined, like she's pretending he's not worth her attention. There just doesn't seem to be enough left in her to know to react.
But he doesn't want to make the first move. In her peripheral vision, his dark figure lingers in the frame for a moment before he closes the door, his footsteps following as he moves out of her sight. Were she desperate – and it's no secret, no question that she needs him, more than she needs anything – she might have conceded, moved, filled in the empty space. But she can't be desperate. She can't be anything.
So he moves first. The mug is whipped from her hands; she hears the chime-like sound of it shattering on the far wall. Her hands drop to her lap like a doll that's been shut off, and she still doesn't look away from that bit of plaster. The stretch of silence that passes isn't short, but the next time he moves, he's across the table from her.
"What're you doing?" It's snarled with a ferocity that seems to surprise even him. Elle lifts her eyes from the plaster to meet his now, without hesitation, as though all along he'd simply need speak to her and she would listen. But she doesn't answer his question. Her expression stays vacant, as though she merely doesn't have one.
He overturns the table. Elle keeps her eyes on his, and doesn't flinch at the sound of it clattering across the floor. For one brief, treacherous moment, in the second when he merely stands, caught up in trying to decide what to do next, she releases her mind: every whim, every rancorous desire to scream, to attack with her ability or nothing more than her hands if necessary, to hurt and be hurt and do anything more than stay as she is, fixed as a cadaver in the chair.
Just as she's netting it back up, finally she's on the floor. Elle doesn't have to think when she raises her arm back, and a bright white arc crackles from her hand. She doesn't have, or need, time to aim. With her free arm, she pushes herself up to her knees, and sends a flash to the ceiling – the lights go out.
He doesn't need to see her to attack, but still nothing comes for her. As silently as possible, she moves to her feet, her vision pressing into the darkness only relieved by the outline of the door leading back into the fluorescent-lit hall. Elle makes no move for it. The darkness might not mean anything, but it's an excuse, a reason for them both for the moment, to stay still.
"You think he's going to like this, after what you did the other day?"
Elle doesn't move, doesn't think, her mind nothing more than the empty space pressing into her eyes.
It's then discordant when she answers, "Why, worried you'll be next?"
This time, it's a slash under her eye. Elle's retaliation briefly illuminates the room, and again, and again. But once he grows tired of this two-step movement, it doesn't last very long. She can feel bruises, something wrong with her shoulder, lacerations and bleeding, but it all seemed at a distance, facts no more relevant than a history lesson. On the floor again, bleeding over it again; she allows herself to wonder if it's left her defenseless, if she's flattened too much that there isn't enough in her for her body to retaliate.
The thought evaporates as the room fills with light, and there's no pleasure or vindication in knowing that she may have fought back, after all.