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Bad Adjustment

By ayziks

Action / Romance

Bad Adjustment

It was over.

David Norris and Elise Sellas stood holding each other closely on the rooftop observation platform of the Adjustment Bureau's massive stone skyscraper Headquarters. They were still breathless and shaking from the experience of fleeing from the relentless Adjustment Bureau Agent Thompson and his fellow Agents across New York City. Thompson had finally cornered them there atop the Headquarters to "reset" them permanently from deviating so far from the Bureau's preset "Plan" for their entire lives. We would call it "fate".

"Resetting" was the most extreme "adjustment", but had been authorized in this case by Thompson's higher management, because the young couple both deviated too far from the Plan, and knew far too much about the Adjustment Bureau itself and its control over humanity. A "reset" procedure would literally wipe their minds clean of the memory of each other, and of everything else. They would be mindlessly insane, and have to live the rest of their lives in a mental hospital.

But "The Chairman" – the leader of the Adjustment Bureau, and of everything else in the universe - intervened at the last minute to save David and Elise from being reset. The Chairman literally wrote a new Plan for David and Elise that allowed them to love and marry. They would no longer be forced by the Adjustment Bureau to live by The Plan that forbid them from ever being together. The Chairman had sent Adjustment Bureau Agent Harry Mitchell – literally David's lifetime Guardian Angel over many years, but humbly called himself a Bureau Case Officer – to show Agent Thompson, David and Elise that New Plan.

Further, The Chairman had sent a message to Agent Thompson to stop interfering or harming this young couple in any way. Thompson simply walked away from David and Elise with no apology, no remorse, but most importantly, no damage to either of them. A few moments more and Thompson would have wiped their memories completely clean without batting an eyelash. This was not the kind of behavior David and Elise expected from Angels, certainly not what they had been ever taught in Sunday School as children.

With Thompson gone, Harry had just finished reassuring the young couple that everything would be OK, but they were still very nervous. David asked Harry, who had helped them survive, "OK, now what?"

Harry removed his all-powerful Adjustment Bureau fedora from David's head that he had let David borrow to give David enough power to escape Thompson until the very end, and joked to the now-united-forever couple, "Now? You can take the stairs."

Harry smiled at them both and squeezed Elise's arm like a father would a daughter. For a few moments David and Elise, the lovers who defied the relentless Agents of the Adjustment Bureau – in truth, Angels – just clung to each other, grateful to have won their freedom to choose their own destinies. No longer would they be pursued by the Bureau's Agents, nor have everything around them in their world constantly "adjusted" or changed by Thompson and his cronies so that they could not see, or talk, or be with each other.

David and Elise had been persistent enough, and their love for each other endured enough, to transcend anything thrown at them by Agent Thompson and his Adjustment Bureau colleagues – broken phones, wrong messages, car wrecks, late cabs, bad addresses, fake cops, interruptions by friends, and other "coincidences" that were all Thompson's doing to thwart the young couple from seeing each other.

David discovered the Adjustment Bureau by accident, but even when he learned of their true powers over mankind, he even rejected some outright threats and demands by Thompson not to see Elise. He had done this while being abducted and tied up in a Bureau warehouse – a place where the Bureau liked to intimidate humans who continued to defy them. Thompson and his friends really weren't nice Angels.

It was exactly that devotion to each other had endeared David and Elise not only to Harry, but to The Chairman Himself. Few of mankind had achieved that kind of freedom in centuries. Few humans proved they could be trusted with that kind of freedom not to mess up themselves and the world.

That is why there were Plans established for each and every person in the world, and why the Adjustment Bureau existed to save mankind from itself. Some religions called it "predestination". What and who a person was meant to do was created by divine design.

David and Elise walked down the hundred story spiral staircase that they had climbed earlier in their desperate escape from Thompson. They marveled that there was no elevator in the Bureau headquarters, but then laughed for thinking on human terms, realizing that celestial beings like Angels and the Almighty Chairman really had no need for an elevator.

As they descended, there were polite but firm Bureau Agents making sure they stayed on their way down the staircase, not letting them stray again into the vast libraries of mankind's Plans that were stored in the Bureau Headquarters. David and Elise guessed correctly that there was a Plan for not only every living person stored there, but everyone who had ever lived throughout all time.

It was hard for both of them to comprehend that knowledge, but because of their love and Harry's help, they gained a tiny glimpse into the eternal universe and dared to even know a little about what heaven would be like. It was sure all very different than "The Good Book" said, but it was still reassuring knowing that it all existed, and that there was in fact an all-knowing being looking out for them and everyone else.

When they finally got to the Adjustment Bureau Headquarters first floor lobby, and were escorted out of the vast building, they could not help but notice a huge red door to one side of the lobby, with the words "Do Not Enter". It was heavily barricaded and locked.

A serious looking Bureau Agent closed the lobby entrance door behind them, and as they turned to look up at the ancient grandeur of the building's stone architecture, it suddenly wasn't there. Behind them was another glass enclosed, nondescript modern skyscraper.

"David?" Elise questioned.

Throughout their entire recent ordeal of racing through the city to escape the Adjustment Bureau by passing through time and space instantly through secret doors, Elise was being bombarded by revelation after revelation and forced to absorb the unabsorbable about the Bureau, but her love and trust in David helped her through every new surprise.

"I know Elise. The Bureau exists here right in the midst of New York, but only we could see it."

Elise took a double grip on David's hand and arm and they started to walk down the street in order to feel normal again. They were wondering if it had all been a dream, until Bureau Agent Harry walked casually by them in his suit and fedora, and was clearly holding someone else's Plan in his hand. He tipped his hat, and gave a brief knowing grin to the young couple. They turned around to see him, realizing it had all really happened. By a true miracle they were safe, sane, and together.

Over coffee they chatted and made hasty but heartfelt plans.

"Elise, let's get married right now, before something else happens to stop us. Certainly the Bureau can't do anything if we are married."

"Oh yes, David, absolutely."

They took the rest of the day to get married. The clerk in the marriage license office read them the rules about waiting a day before marriage, but then realized that David was the local Congressmen, and put the approval right through. They couldn't get on the Justice of the Peace's schedule for the day, but David took Elise right down the street to his old neighborhood Community Church and the preacher, who had known David since he was a boy, agreed to marry them. When asked for a witness, David stammered, and started to call his Campaign Manager and Chief of Staff, but Agent Harry appeared in the sanctuary with a smile.

"Am I late?" He grinned.

"Right on time," smiled David and Elise, playing along with him, but were still very surprised. The two were still not used to an all-knowing celestial entity being there just you needed him. If only the preacher knew who and what Harry really was.

The old preacher, who knew David and his family from many years before went through the marriage ceremony, and finished with, "What God has joined, let no man put asunder..."

Reassured with the finality of those words, they kissed each other, probably longer than they should have politely in front of a clergyman, hugged a very surprised Harry, and chatted for awhile with the preacher. Afterward, they walked hand in hand to dinner at David's favorite local restaurant, run by his old best friend and family. They invited Harry but he politely declined due to pressing Bureau business. They snickered while they wondered if Angels really needed to eat, anyway.

Hidden in the balcony - also witnessing the happy marriage ceremony - was Agent Thompson. He wasn't a Guardian Angel like Harry. He didn't have to be kind. He was Plan Enforcer. He was in fact the Bureau's most accomplished Enforcer. He was never called in until a human being made a significant deviation from their Plan that had to be corrected immediately.

Thompson remembered all the things that went wrong. When David deviated from his Plan to never meet Elise, Thompson was sent in to "adjust" David – and later Elise - when others had failed to stop them. Thompson had been relentless with his own squad of Agents to pursue and permanently correct the problem with David and Elise which upset the entire Bureau, but the pair eluded Thompson at every turn in their devotion to each other. And just when he had them, the Chairman intervened and changed their Plan.

This disgusted Thompson, and he sneered at their marriage, but was careful that neither of them nor Harry – that cloying Guardian Angel – saw him lurking.

He thought, "Humans need Plans. They are helpless and dangerous without one and without us. Especially these two. They are reckless, particularly David who will become a US Senator and President."

Not only was Thompson angry about not being successful in enforcing David and Elise's original Plan of being separated for all time, but he had also been severely reprimanded by the Chairman himself for being too zealous in enforcement, not consulting superiors along the way about this special, endearing situation of David and Elise.

Thompson was demoted and put on administrative leave for his overly aggressive pursuit of David and Elise. That disgusted him more than anything. That humans should be placed above heavenly beings was so wrong. How could the Chairman be misled so much by Harry and the others?

He muttered under his breath from the balcony, "They think they are safe now being married. 'Let no man put asunder' indeed. One thing for sure - I am not a man."

In that ancient balcony of the church, Thompson decided he was going to do his own personal "adjustment" of David and Elise. He turned and disappeared into the shadow.

At first he let David and Elise get adjusted to married life together, doing all the overly cute newlywed things which sickened him. But slowly and carefully he started to make things go slightly wrong for them, so that David would not catch on like he did before that what Thompson was doing were more than coincidences. David and Elise both thought they were safe from any further interference from the Bureau. They were brought up on the mistaken belief "Angels" would keep their word.

Because he thought he was so terribly wronged by mere humans, Thompson believed he was above the rules of the Adjustment Bureau now.

David and Elise kept some elements of the old Plan going. The nation adored the new couple more married than when they were both single. David continued to rise in stature and popularity as a Congressmen, and was invited by his Party to start the run for Senator. Elise's talents continued to grow in the international dancing world. They had crazy schedules but they were always there for each other. They made it work. They were proud that Thompson had been totally wrong about the Plan he would have forced them to follow. They could have their careers and each other too. They loved each other more deeply each day.

But as time went on, Thompson made sure that messages were lost, appointments were missed, and dinners were late. The two had arguments. After one particularly important recital for Elise was missed, she got really mad, she snapped at David, "I think you are taking me for granted, David."

"Honey, I am very sorry. I had a Congressional caucus meeting that went long. My colleague from Wisconsin wouldn't shut up. I couldn't just get up and leave. Did you take a video? Let's watch it now."

"OK. I understand," and she kissed him on his nose.

Happy with their apologies, they cuddled up on the sofa and watched her dance performance video, but honestly, didn't watch all the way through, but instead got lost in each other's arms, like they so often did.

Watching the lovemaking begin, Thompson was livid. The subtle things weren't working to disrupt their marriage. He'd have to do something more dramatic. Then he had a brilliant idea. There was someone else who didn't want David and Elise together. Adrian - Elise's ex-fiancé. Adrian was twice burned by David entering her life, once literally leaving him at the altar when she ran away with David.

Thompson began to build the discontent in Adrian. He made sure that Adrian got articles and photos of them together all the time. He even made sure he got wrong numbers from David and Elise, and let him "accidentally" overhear a private, steamy conversation on a cell between them. Adrian's hatred grew, and he made a decision. If he couldn't have the beautiful Elise, then David couldn't either.Thompson was delighted at this.

At a crowded Senate campaign rally, David was in rare form, and stirred the crowd to a fever pitch for him and against the stodgy old Senator he was trying to defeat. After the event, he worked the crowd, shaking hands or hugging all the well wishers.

When he got to Adrian, he was startled, but jokingly said, "Adrian, I didn't figure you would be a supporter. No hard feelings?"

Adrian growled, "Yes, David. Very hard feelings."

Deadly serious, he pulled a knife out that shocked David. Before he could lunge, Elise had caught up with David in the crowd, but seeing the two together and the knife she screamed, "David!"

The sound of her familiar voice distracted Adrian enough that when he struck at David, Adrian stabbed him in the leg rather than the heart. David clutched his leg and dropped, writhing in pain. Adrian was wrestled to the ground by Secret Service and cuffed. Elise was screaming.

David woke up in the hospital, with Elise sitting close, staring lovingly, and holding his hand, being careful with the IV in his arm.

"David, I'm so frightened. I love you. I was so afraid I would lose you. This is too much."

"Love you too. It was only one incident. Elise. I didn't think Adrian capable of such an act. Love does weird things to you."

She gave David a feigned angry look, "You're one to talk. It wasn't that long ago you stirred up a whole legion of Angels. But none of them will harm us ever again."

She hugged him, and the feeling gave him a surge of relief. But Elise's joke triggered a more sinister thought, putting all the pieces together.

"Thompson would." He whispered.

She nearly fainted.

David added to his thought, "Remember how he strode off? He was mad. If Angels can even get mad. All of this is his doing. All the weird coincidences. And now this."

Elise was perplexed, "Why? Don't those guys have to be nice to people? Don't they have rules to follow like we do?"

"We got him in some kind of real trouble that must have turned him bad."

Elise asked, "David, can Angels turn bad?"

"One did."

"Oh. Right," observed Elise with growing trepidation.

In the shadows, disguised in an orderly's uniform, Thompson overheard them. He had to do something more permanent quickly, before David could get Adjustment Bureau Agent help.

"If Thompson has gone bad, I'm really not leaving you now," she said in a very concerned voice.

David just smiled, and squeezed her hand, "Go home and rest. The Secret Service will protect me. Sometimes, I think some of them are Bureau Agents sent to watch over us, but I do miss Agent Harry when I think need to talk to them."

She smirked, "You are probably right. You must tell them about all the bad things Thompson is doing to us."

David's speech was slurred, "Too sleepy now. Gotta doze off, kiddo."

Elise noted, "It's the medicine you were just given. You have quite a gash."

David smiled at her, "I'll be OK. I'm serious. Go get some sleep. Let the Secret Service take you just to be sure."

"OK. See you tomorrow."

She pecked him on the lips and exited his room. She left the hospital, found the Secret Service car and asked to be taken home. She got in, but noticed the car started going the opposite direction from their home.

Elise leaned forward, "Officer, this is the wrong way."

The driver said nothing and kept going. His colleague turned around and looked at Elise. He had a truly evil smile.

"Thompson!" she gasped.

"That's right, young lady. Have a nice sleep," and he reached to her face with a handkerchief that smelled of drugs.

She awoke tied to a chair in a huge room in a warehouse. She realized what it was. It was a Bureau warehouse. She was even more afraid now. David told her nothing but bad things had happened to him in this warehouse.

Thompson stood over her, and other agents around him. They opened a metal suit case, and the Agents started to attach strange black apparatus with many wires to her head.

A male nurse with a hair net said to a heavily sedated David, "Congressman, we have to take you to surgery right now. Your leg is bleeding internally."

He mumbled, "OK..."

He was very disoriented, watching from the gurney as it rolled under the lights of the hospital. As the nurse and orderly rolled him through the surgery door, suddenly everything changed.

He appeared in the Bureau warehouse, not in the hospital operating room. Groggy or not, he'd never forget that terrible place. Again, he'd been transported there by the Bureau.

"Thompson!" He tried to get up, but his leg hurt too much, and he was far too dizzy from the sedatives.

"Yes David. It's me and some friends of mine. I going to do what he Chairman failed to do. Reset you both. Permanently.

"No! Not Elise!"

He saw her bound on the same chair they interrogated him.

"David! No! Please, Agent Thompson, don't do this to us. All we ever wanted to do is love each other," She cried.

Ignoring their pleading, "I assure you both, it won't hurt, and you won't have any memories. Especially of each other. You David, will conveniently be insane because of a brain clot to the head after leg surgery. Most unfortunate. And you Elise, will have irreparable brain damage from falling off a stage doing a spectacular jump during your dance routine. The world will feel sorry for you both – a wonderful nationally famous young couple, with such potential and love for each other - only to have your hopes to be dashed by such unfortunate accidents. If it makes you feel better, I will make sure you both get into the same mental hospital."

David ignored Thompson's snide comment and tried to think of a way out while he asked, "Elise, are you all right?"

"I'm thinking about how we are going to get out of this, David."

"Not for long. Soon you won't think about anything," said Thompson with glee.

A second suit case with the reset apparatus was opened. As the terrible machine that would erase his brain was attached to his head, David said desperately, "Elise, I will always love you. Somehow we will find each other again."

"Sorry kids, not even the Chairman will be able to fix you once this is done."

"Did someone call my name?" said a figure with dark complexion and black hair, accentuated by a pure white outfit that almost glowed.

It was the Chairman.

He was surrounded by a dozen armed and armored Bureau Agents. Loyal Agents.

With one sweep of The Chairman's arm, Thompson and his henchman were hurled back against the warehouse walls and pinned their by some unseen force.

The Chairman snapped his fingers and everyone was suddenly in the lobby of the Adjustment Bureau. Elise and David fell on the floor, the reset devices gone from their heads as well as the chair and the gurney.

The Chairman glared at Thompson, "You took matters into your own hands, Agent Thompson. How dare you defy me."

Thompson looked with scorn at the leader of the Bureau, "Mr. Chairman, you were wrong to change the Plan for David and Elise. I am just enforcing the original Plan."

"Don't you remember who's in charge here? I told everyone – especially you, Thompson - to stop bothering this young couple. I let them be free to love and succeed together. And they are doing that wonderfully."

The Chairman narrowed his eyes at Thompson and pronounced judgment, "Because you fundamentally disobeyed me twice, and were going to do permanent physical damage to these young people, I am giving you and your colleagues a different Plan now."

Several Bureau Agents with the Chairman moved toward Thompson the rogue Agents.

David gasped, "Harry?"

David and Elise were relieved to see Harry. He only glanced and nodded to David, but kept his very serious look, walked over to the big door in the lobby that said 'Do Not Enter', and opened it.

Searing heat, red light, acrid smoke, and flames shot from the open door. It was stifling. Screams and wailing could be heard from beyond the door. Other agents seized Thompson and his followers.

David and Elise looked at each other and fury beyond the open door, and were stunned. "Could it be?"

At the Chairman's command, Thompson and his cronies – struggling mightily - were all thrown through the open door, and it was quickly bolted behind them. Everyone could hear new screams - Thompson's.

The Chairman apologized, "Sorry kids, for the 'magic' show. Thompson's transgressions called for dramatic action. I am so sorry about all of this. We made a promise to you about your free will to choose each other. Unfortunately, each of my Agents has free will to choose too. Thompson chose poorly. There are consequences for the Bureau Agents just like for all of humanity."

They fully understanding who they were talking to. Still sitting on the lobby tiles, they bowed deeply to the Chairman, almost prostrate. The Chairman insisted, "No, no, please get up. If we had people bowing and kneeling to me all the time around here, we wouldn't be getting anything done."

David struggled to get up on his wounded leg,

"David, let me take care of that," The Chairman touched the injured leg, which gave a slight glow. As He cured David's leg He grinned, "It's only a flesh wound."

David and Elise were astonished. The Chairman couldn't have said that...

"Monty Python. My favorite," quipped the Chairman, seeing their recognition.

"Umm, ours too sir," stammered David.

"People think I have no sense of humor. In point of fact, I invented humor."

David and Elise chuckled a little, but very nervous being in the presence of The Chairman. He wasn't at all like what they learned about in church.

The Chairman continued to be gracious and charming to them, "But seriously, I don't want to see you two again until after a long, happy retirement together, following David's Presidency and Elise's long career of thrilling millions of people with your dancing."

David stuttered, "B-b-begging your pardon Mr Chairman, but I thought we didn't have to follow a Plan anymore?"

"You're busy making up your own Plan just fine without any help from us," smiled the Chairman.

"Now go, and give your son and daughter a hug for me," grinned the Chairman.

"But sir, we don't have..." but he was gone, and they stood alone on the street outside the invisible Bureau Headquarters.

Harry walked over to them, "Hi kids. I'm here to escort you home. Seems I got scolded for neglecting my duties to you too, David. In fact, I also got reprimanded, so the Chairman added to my heavy workload. But don't worry, I won't 'turn' on you like Thompson did. That place down there gives me the creeps."

David asked, "But what did the Chairman do to you?

Harry smiled, "He gave me more people to look after."

"Who?" puzzled Elise.

Harry smiled broadly, "You Elise, and your two children-to-be. Believe me, you all are all going to drive me crazy. Let's all go chat for awhile."

David and Elise were ecstatic. He hugged them, and headed for their apartment, chatting about yet another Plan for the future with Agent Harry, their Bureau Case Worker. But Elise knew better. She had a new Guardian Angel.

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