In three hours, they know Carlotta Giddens is suspected of murdering her partner and kidnapping her son. Bennet says the words "a rock and a hard place." She can stay hidden, let that continue, or she can reveal herself, and become an easy target.
It's not a kind of cruelty that Elle can understand.
What she can understand is the only question Carlotta Giddens has. The only question she asks, despite all of it.
Why take her son. Why is he gone.
There are eight people in the room, and it's dead silent.
And then, Elle stands, and walks over to her, still maintaining her steady footsteps and closed-off face. Her hands are only barely trembling when she holds out the stuffed animal. Carlotta's eyes are wide and her mouth slightly open, like she's thinking of asking Elle something. But she doesn't. She reaches for the toy, her own hands shaking enough to show that she's not really confused.
The moment the toy is out of her hands, Elle turns and makes her way to the door. She manages to keep from sparking until it closes behind her, and that is all she considers. The slam of her footsteps on the concrete floor drowns out the sound of the door closing a second time, and she's two corridors along before she realizes she's being followed.
"Bennet, please –"
"I figured it out, you know. About how to beat a telepath. One that knows all our protocols."
Elle stops, but doesn't turn, and a bright white arc snaps between her shoulders.
"You give them nothing to hear."
Her right hand curls into a fist, and she feels like she's forcing herself to stay in one piece, that if she moves too quickly, she'll shatter like glass, as she turns to face him. He's not smirking, or gloating – he doesn't look happy at all, but it's still somehow hard to take.
"Having a little trouble with that?"
A blue arc lights up the hall, striking from her shoulder to wall to her left.
"You don't -" She hasn't so much as raised her voice for months, but she's the one yelling now. "You don't get to – she was –"
"And you were going to just ignore it?" Bennet's voice stays calm, even as he speaks over her. "Just forget it again?"
"I wasn't forgetting –"
"But you didn't let yourself remember it, either. The way they'd talk about you here – it's like any time you actually acted human, a switch went off, and you're not a machine, Elle –"
She nearly screams it: "Since when have I been human to you?!"
The sound of her voice seems to linger, and Elle doesn't realize until nearly a minute later that she's destroyed the florescent lamp above them, leaving her own body as the only source of light in the hall.
Again, Bennet's own voice is quiet, though now there's a strain to it. "I know why this is breaking down this – mental wall you've built for yourself. But it's the same thing you were raised to do. Only be what someone else wanted you to be."
(you poor girl)
"And you were finally getting good at it, too. But it's just the same, just so you don't have to make something from whatever's in your head now. Because that's going to be the hard part, isn't it?"
The sparks begin to die down, leaving dwindling light as he speaks. She doesn't answer, but her breathing begins to slow as well, and she can hear footsteps from the hallway just beyond them.
"So what do you want, Elle?"
She doesn't say anything. But Elle lifts her hand, and fires an arc of blue light toward him. It's nowhere near enough even to knock him out, but he cries out, and the sound makes her cover her ears like she's afraid her head will split open. She crumples to the floor, eyes closed and ears covered as she tries to block out the noise that follows, and she doesn't even notice as Bennet crawls over to her. Nor, aside from a few sparks, does she put up a fight when he grabs a fistful of her hair, and slams her head against the wall.