The Teddy Bears' Picnic

Chapter 8

Elliot decided it would probably be best to give Tyrell a few minutes to cool down. He knew it was selfish but he was worried about how this turn of events would hinder them. Before, he’d assumed that eventually they would get to the bottom of the missing three days in their memories. Now, he wasn’t sure. Did it even matter though? He could just look at the facts - that the hack was successful - and move on with his life, as Darlene had suggested. But that overlooked one very important detail, one that Darlene didn’t quite seem to comprehend the gravity of – someone knew that he and Tyrell were behind everything. Elliot wasn’t comfortable with that, not at all. It was clear by now that this person wasn’t going to turn them in, but knowing that someone out there had such evidence against them (and worst of all, was using this leverage to mess with their lives) made Elliot’s palms sweat, and his stomach clench painfully.

Elliot didn’t like that someone else had the upper hand. He was the one that hacked people, and used what he learned about them to seek justice. Now he felt like he was getting a taste of his own medicine. But this wasn’t justice. Instead of turning them in, someone was toying with them. How could they possibly live normal lives, with this lingering threat always present, like an ominous cloud on the horizon? How could Elliot try to have all the normal things in life- a family and friends- when they could be snatched away without warning? Fuck, he’d never seen a man look as devastated as Tyrell had; so absolutely and completely shattered. Elliot didn’t like loneliness, but he think he’d rather that than feel the pain Tyrell was feeling now.

So now, where did this leave them? They needed to find who was behind this, and find Tyrell’s family, before they had any hope of getting any answers of their own. Fuck. And right now, Tyrell was near-useless to Elliot. It frightened Elliot to watch him unravel in this way.

Elliot was starting to get a picture of the dynamic the Wellicks had. Though Tyrell undoubtedly had the intelligence and ambition to succeed, Elliot could see that Joanna helped to channel his focus, but at the same time took down the blinkers when he became too single-minded. She reined him in, and poured water on the heat of his intensity when he threatened to implode. She was ice to Tyrell’s blazing fire, and Elliot could see how they were well-suited. He may have only met Joanna once (that he knew of), but like he’d always said, he was good at reading people.

Elliot worried that Tyrell would derail without her (or at least without knowing she was safe). Men like Tyrell, who wound themselves so tightly, needed an outlet. Elliot’s had been morphine (now though, he wasn’t so sure- caring for Flipper maybe?), and Tyrell’s had been Joanna (and quite possibly some darker vices which Elliot didn’t care to explore for the moment). Elliot reached the conclusion that to get through this, they were going to have to be each other’s outlets. Tyrell could provide the companionship that Elliot needed, and Elliot, in return would keep him from self-destructing, and help him to find his release.

Elliot stifled a laugh at the bizarre image that floated into his head, of the two of them walking Flipper together, eating and talking, like some sort of dysfunctional caricature of a family. His stomach fluttered uneasily at the implications of this little scenario he’d created in his head, and the way he’d moulded himself to slot into the hole that Joanna had left behind. Fighting down further inappropriate thoughts about his relationship with Tyrell that threatened to surface, while telling himself that hunger and tiredness were to blame for his imagination running away with him, he started to make his way into the other room to find Tyrell. It would be fine, they would eat, calm down, and Elliot would shake off the delirious thoughts that were clouding his mind.

Elliot found Tyrell sitting dejectedly in the kitchen, drinking from a large bottle of vodka like it was water. Elliot gently removed the bottle from his grip, and sat next to him. Tyrell, seemingly needing something to hold to expel the restless energy in his fingers, grabbed Elliot’s left hand and pressed it to his cheek. He let his eyes flutter shut, and took a few deep, calming breaths.

After several moments of silence he released Elliot’s hand, cleared his throat, and opened his eyes.

‘I apologise for my outburst earlier.’ He let out a strange laugh that seemed forced, as if trying to disguise his true emotions. For the first time Elliot found his features impossible to read.

‘That’s okay,’ Elliot considered his next words carefully, before a rumble in his stomach made his decision for him, ‘shall we have some dinner?’

‘I don’t want to cook.’ This took Elliot by surprise; he hadn’t considered that Tyrell might be able to cook. For what felt like the millionth time Elliot found himself wondering about Tyrell’s past – there was definitely a lot more to the man than it seemed. Elliot remembered their first conversation. Yes, Tyrell was definitely not from money. So much of his attitude and personality made more sense with this in mind. He was always fighting because he always felt he had to prove his place. But now everyone was equal. Elliot suspected this idea brought Tyrell more relief than it did him.

‘That’s okay, you don’t have to. I would, but the best I can do is heat things up in the oven.’

‘Um…’ Tyrell smirked, raising a sceptical eyebrow, and they both laughed. Despite the situation it felt really good, and Elliot thought he could see some of the tension leaving Tyrell’s body.

They settled on ordering in, and Tyrell put on some classical music while they ate. Elliot accepted the offer of some wine with the food, but only had a small glass. He needed to be able to think clearly. Tyrell on the other hand finished two large glasses. Not that it seemed to affect him, Elliot noted. He must have a high tolerance for alcohol.

After dinner they sat cross-legged on the living room floor. With the music still playing softly in the background, Elliot could honestly say he almost felt content. Despite the awful circumstances and the whirlwind of the last few days, this evening felt almost nice.

‘I just wish I knew if they were safe,’ Tyrell’s voice broke through the pleasant haze in Elliot’s mind.

‘I’m sure they’re okay. Why would whoever’s doing this be messing with us if your family was already dead?’ Elliot swallowed down feelings of guilt and remorse as he thought about Shayla. He’d been wrong about her, but Tyrell didn’t need to know that he didn’t fully believe his own words.

‘I keep trying to figure out what the card means.’

‘I take it they missed the big day then?’ Elliot responded light-heartedly. Tyrell didn’t appreciate the attempt at humour though.

‘You know when my birthday is,’ he snapped. Yes, Elliot did, and there was no way to pretend that the card wasn’t some sort of hidden message. Elliot felt bad for trying to joke about such a serious situation.

‘Elliot, I don’t want to stay here tonight.’

‘That’s fine, we can go back to mine,’ Elliot offered, knowing full well he didn’t have a choice in the matter anyway. ‘Besides, I need to take care of Flipper.’ Whether he had told Tyrell the name of his dog at some point, or Tyrell didn’t really care, Elliot wasn’t sure. Tyrell just nodded in acknowledgement.

Elliot hovered nervously while he waited for Tyrell to pack up some things. A short while later Tyrell emerged showered and changed, with a large suitcase and a leather messenger back slung across his body. They shared an awkward taxi ride, during which Elliot stole a few concerned glances at Tyrell, who seemed to have retreated back into his dejected state.

Once they were safely in Elliot’s apartment, Tyrell visibly slumped. Elliot thought it best to give him some space so took Flipper for a walk. When he came back, Tyrell was on his computer flicking through news reports, as well as the lyrics to ‘Teddy Bears’ Picnic’ and ’99 Red Balloons’. Frustrated, he closed his laptop with a sigh.

‘I think I need to sleep.’

Elliot had to admit that sounded like a good plan, but fought Tyrell when he offered to take the sofa.

‘I’ll wake up in the night anyway, you might as well have the bed.’

Tyrell reluctantly agreed and shuffled off to get ready. He came back from the bathroom wearing loose sweatpants that hung off his hips, and a black V-neck tee.

‘Goodnight Elliot.’ Tyrell came to stand in front of him. He towered over Elliot, crowding his personal space in a way that Elliot was all-too familiar with by now. Before Elliot could register what was happening Tyrell had brought his left hand to rest on the side of his face, and stooped down to place a gentle kiss on Elliot’s lips.

Elliot froze. It was a sweet kiss, soft and chaste. It felt nice, so Elliot closed his eyes. There was no heat behind it, and Elliot could feel it saying all the things Tyrell hadn’t quite found the words to; the thank you’s and apologies, and the ’please keep me together’.

Tyrell pulled back after a few seconds. ‘Sleep well,’ he whispered with a smile, looking at Elliot with the same reverence he’d had in his eyes when he’d offered him the job at Evil Corp.

Elliot blinked in surprise. ‘Uh, you too,’ he mumbled weakly. Tyrell made his way over to the bed, and Elliot sat numbly on the sofa feeling confused. Tyrell was upset and quite frankly all over the place right now, and it had been yet another crazy day of nothing making sense. Maybe the alcohol had affected him more than Elliot realised. Or maybe goodnight kisses were a Swedish thing. Elliot had no idea, but didn’t have much time to think about it as he quickly succumbed to sleep.

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