Findings

Participants:

odessa4_icon.gif valentin_icon.gif

Scene Title Findings
Synopsis Odessa receives a new assignment from Valentin, and discusses with him her change of heart worldview.
Date August 1, 2011

Eltingville Blocks


Summer has a firm hold on New York City by now, especially given that it's nearing August. It's a little depressing for some of its citizens, what with the sun still shining into curfew hours. Wasted daylight. Odessa Price is one of those that dislikes being confined to her home while the sun mocks her. Fortunately there's still time before she has to shut herself up into her modest house at 150 Thornycroft.

Time still for a drink at the quote local watering hole unquote. Despite the heat still weighing heavy in the air, Odessa's wearing a candy apple red cardigan (short sleeved, mercifully) to match her pumps, the belt at her waist, and the peek of crinoline beneath the hem of the sunny yellow dress, festively decorated in a print of technicolour cocktails. Her hair has been carefully swept up on top of her head, crafted into a fashionably messy coiffure. It and her large, silver hoop earrings bob as she walks purposefully into the bar, peering about to see if the person she's come to see is here already, or if she's the first arrival. She turns her head to accommodate for the loss of periphery on her left side, where the white patch with its red even-armed cross is settled over her eye.

This weather is untenable. Short of honest to god waves distorting the air.

And the bar isn't doing much to help, with the smell of an overworked air conditioner in the air. A pair of sunglasses dangle from the buttoned collar of Valentin's shirt, sleeves short and loose, enough that the dark markings of something inked into the pale skin on the underside of his arm hints at visibility when he lifts the limb to take up his beer. He is armed, in that a pistol lays openly upon the table just by the hand that would wield it as needed, hip holster empty both of gun and any attempt at hiding the fact. It is probably more effective in being seen than it is being hidden and then fired from.

Despite having two eyes, he is not the first to see her. He has one of those smartphones kids these days, use, thumbing around at the moving screen while periodically watching the daisy dukes clad ass spread upon bar stool just yonder of the brunette with her date. He also seems tired, but in a physical, long hours kind of sense, as opposed to the plaguing depression that chokes most barflies.

In perhaps the ultimate justification of the act, Odessa notices the gun on the table before she looks to the man it belongs to, recognising him as the one she's here to meet. She takes the opportunity of being unnoticed to secure herself a vodka tonic from the bar before announcing herself. Not presumptuously taking a seat across from him and letting that interrupt whatever's going on between the man and his smartphone.

"Michal. It's good to see you." Pleasantries out of the way. "Christ, it's hotter in here than I expected it would be." Which has her setting her glass on the table and unbuttoning the damn cardigan so she can drape it over the back of the seat. "How are you?" Honestly is left tacit, Odessa trusting her expression and tone to hold enough sincere inquiry for Valentin to pick up on.

"Overworked, and underpaid."

Valentin doesn't seem unhappy about this, however, a smile cutting across his face as he lazily slides his attention up towards where Odessa is situating herself — he gestures with a hand for her to siddown and goes to neatly drop his phone into a pocket, taking up his beer to sip from. "Such is life." Daisy dukes loses his focus, now that he has company. "I certainly hope you can empathise, considering what we last spoke of. Are you still gainfully employed, Doctor Price?"

"I even got to flash my badge the other day," Odessa offers as way of confirmation of her employment. "And wound up in the ocean to fish out a wayward… Evo healer." She keeps her voice low, but doesn't bother to disguise the contempt. "I attended that rally in Battery Park City. If I don't pretend I care for the rights of the SLC Expressive…" Her hands spread out in front of her before wrapping around her drink. "Someone could get suspicious. And that would jeopardise everything, wouldn't it?"

Her lips quirk upward and she leans forward slightly, "Please. None of this Doctor Price nonsense. I believe you're entitled to address me with a certain degree of familiarity by now." It's on that note that she lifts her drink to her lips, swallowing some through the little red straw customarily provided, gaze affixed firmly to her companion's features.

"But I think it has a charm to it," is dismissive, rather than argumentative, Valentin resting back in his chair, legs crossed beneath the table. It puts a fraction bit more distance between them when Odessa leans forward, and as with all cases of distance, it permits objectivity and observation, watching her face when certain words and sentiments come out of it. A tip of his head is something like concession — he won't bother with that nonsense, then.

Lady's orders. "I do not suppose your fishing trip was a success," he adds, with a glance too minute to really detect, but a certain unfocusing that tells Odessa he is looking towards her eyepatch.

"Charm, you say? I thank you." Then her jaw tightens imperceptibly. At least, she hopes that the way her muscles draw taut is unnoticed behind her carefully placed fa├žade of ignorance for the way he looks at her patch. "She went over the railing, and the FRONTLINE woman looking after her insisted that I should ensure she didn't drown."

And to answer his unspoken question, she smiles, tighter now than she perhaps meant. "I didn't go after her for me. And even then, her ability only allows her to heal injuries that are fresh." The smile is fixed still almost a little too perfectly. She finishes her thought and proceeds into the next with too little pause to completely mask a sense of irritation. "Mine are nearly a year old. Should I want to have all traces of them removed?"

It's posed almost rhetorically. Except that what Valentin thinks matters a great deal to Odessa. The scars represent a defeat, perhaps. She's careful to set her drink on the table's surface again without the thunk! that might further give away her emotions.

The twitch at Valentin's mouth is certainly reaction — neither smile or frown, and silver-blue eyes drop down to watch his beer rather than her, taking a break from continuous assessment. "Marks can be good reminders. Mistakes, memories. Perhaps disfigurement will be what stands in the way of harm coming to your other eye, next time — lessons well learned leave impressions." He takes a long pull of beer, before jolting a sudden shrug — peppy, even. "Less attractive is letting one of them help you in such an invasive manner. If we cannot obey simple laws as sound flesh growing scarred, then what other laws can we retain?

"There are those— who are like me— who would use the Evolved to their own gain. Exploit their powers, enslave them, cut them up into little pieces as your Institute does, and I find such arrangements to be unhealthy for everyone involved. It is where, possibly, I come to see eye to eye with mutants. I do not think they appreciate it either."

There's a moment where Odessa has to seriously consider how she feels about the response given. She relaxes and leans back in her chair. "Then we are of like mind. While I may be unhappy about the stares of idiots, or the jokes at my expense they think I do not hear, I would not wish one of them to erase all of this."

Her head cants to one side and she also stares at the beer in Valentin's glass briefly before coming back up to glance about the bar in a cursory manner. It is not lost on her that the very reason she's alive to even reject the thought of erasure of the scars she's earned is because of the intervention of the Evolved, and the Institute. "The Institute, as I understand it, is giving their enemies on both sides further cause to rally against them. I do hope there is an end to all of this soon. I am eager to drop this charade and stop living as though I were one of them." Her nostrils flare with agitation. Eltingville is suiting her less and less, it would seem.

"Then you will do something for me."

He has no paperwork to whip out, and that might be because this is informal, off the cuff, or because some things being put on paper is a ridiculous thing to do. A little bit of column A—

"The Department of Evolved Affairs is attempting a sting operation." Valentin's hands turn a little in a gesture of helplessness. What can you do? They are cute for trying. "I think we can help. Or specifically, you can help. I arrested a young woman, a little while ago, who has since been obtained by the Institute. Tania Kozlow. She has been transferred to a facility in Massachussetts— the headquarters of the Institute. See if you cannot track her down and keep your eye on her, so that I do not have to wait on the bureaucratic hands of an agency to pass on such information. Or to do anything at all."

He does not voice any immediate connection between finding the girl and any kind of end game maneuver, and instead waits for agreement.

The straw is nudged and pinned to the far side of the glass of vodka and tonic so Odessa can bring it to her lips for a long swallow. The effect of which is to give her time to think without looking as though she's taking the time to think, brows raised as if to express polite curiosity. When she sets her drink aside again, she nods her assent. "Of course. And if I asked you to keep an eye on a couple matters in the city in my absence, you would keep me apprised?"

She doesn't really wait for a response, presuming that it will all depend on what she asks for, specifically. The potential snag isn't one that can be approached with much preamble, "Sasha Kozlow's sister, isn't she? Kozlow and I have… A history, you could say. And some in the Institute may be aware of it. It might effect my ability to get close to her, as it may be believed I intend to break her out as some sort of… debt to her brother." She raises a hand to assuage any concerns of Valentin's own. "Another scar earned. I do not owe him a kindness."

Odessa's hand lowers again and she drums her nails on the tabletop absently. "Regardless, I will do as you ask, one way or another. Tell me more of the operation they intend. Obviously I've not been included, as they see me possessing a conflict of interest." The implication being that the man across from her should see things differently. "What do you need to know of the Kozlow girl?"

"Who is responsible for her," Valentin says, answering simply with his gaze tipping off and away from her after betraying more or less nothing in his own expression — except that he is listening, as ever, and probably committing what he doesn't already know to memory. "Her circumstances. Future plans. Of course, if you detect risk because of your prior affiliations, then you can withdraw — that would be an interesting thing to know regardless."

His hand spiders back over half-drained beer, but he doesn't lift it to drink, asking instead, "Matters?"

"That should not be difficult." Theoretically. Slender shoulders come up in a shrug. She moves on. "There is a young girl, hospitalised at Saint Luke's with the flu, Marlena Brennan. I've been monitoring her condition. She should be receiving an experimental treatment I've helped to develop, and I'd like to be informed of any changes in her condition."

And this seems to trouble the young doctor, as she ceases her tapping and takes to making a slow circuit of her straw in her drink. Pensive suddenly, she stares at the ice shifting in the clear, fizzy cocktail. "I don't expect you to interact with her." Whether she would be upset if he did or not isn't readily apparent. She looks up again, "Would you be able to do that for me?"

Valentin drums fingertips against the edge of the table in a brief rap that shudders his beer glass in a minor tremor, once she poses that question to him. Greying brows rising in consideration of his answer — hesitating over the first one that springs to mind, a hesitation that is for show. Otherwise it would not be seen at all. "Brennan," he says, for the sake of saying it, a visual and audible indicator that he both knows and remembers that name.

They all go way back, really.

"What is she to you?" It does not sound a shrewd question, when asked — genuine curiosity.

The reaction was expected. At least, a reaction was expected. "What she is to me, is a child who doesn't deserve this," Odessa answers honestly. "Yes, she's Doctor Harve Brennan's eldest, but she's charming and has suffered more than a little girl should." The urge to ask, does that satisfy you is left alone.

"Please."

It is probable that if he sneered something like carrier around Odessa, it would be diplomatically unwise and she'd probably get all scientific at him — and as established, Valentin's philosophy doesn't include the total extermination of all Evolved and their kin. Right now. The last frothy dregs of his beer are slid back in an easy sip, the empty glass set back down, hand coming up with his palm turned heavenwards and fingers so neatly together that who could ever down Michal Valentin's integrity when he says,

"Of course. It is no trouble to do such a thing. Perhaps wisely I shall make myself scarce if her father comes visiting, but yes, I will be able to do that for you."

"Thank you. It will be good to know how well the treatment works, regardless." Perhaps that would have been the safer reason to give in the first place. Uncharacteristically, Odessa chooses to lie to Valentin as little as possible. She raises her gaze to his and shifts forward again. Elbows resting on the table, lowball glass cradled in her hands. "I wanted to talk to you about something else." A hint of uncertainty in her tone is banished rather than committed to.

"You were right," Odessa begins, this time with some steadiness. "I admit, when I first found that I was no longer one of them, I was upset. Distraught. I saw myself as weak, and powerless. But I couldn't have been more wrong." There's a light in her eye, a spark not seen in her since the Dome.

She smiles, a shake of her head. How could I have been so foolish? "It was my ability that was holding me back." Odessa makes an aborted reach across the table, halting so her hand rests on the surface between them. "You said you would show me what it is to be human," she reminds with a cautious sort of hope. "Did you mean it?"

Ice-blue glance checks that hand as if wary of it diverting for the gun sitting flat on the table, not because Valentin thinks Odessa is that sort of impulsive— at least, right now— but because that is how paranoia works. Loaded weapons drum up enough of it.

Which is why people hate Evolved, by the way. Valentin lifts his chin again as he listens, and then his smile shows teeth at what sounds like a euphemism to his educated ears, but he doesn't comment on it. "If there is anything in this world I can teach," he says, that shruggyhands gesture once again possessing his arms, "I would hope it be humanity, and all our amorality. Did you desire philosophy, or something of a more practical nature?"

The wariness is something Odessa can understand and appreciate. She's careful to slowly bring her hand back toward herself. If she was intentionally leaving lines to be read between, she doesn't press it now. (Yet?) "Everything. All of it." Ravenous for knowledge as she ever was. A moment of consideration has one shoulder coming up in a shrug. "Practical would show the most immediate benefit, yes?

"Unless you'd like me to buy you another beer. I'd be happy to discuss philosophy over drinks." Either it takes a great deal of effort for Odessa not to narrow her gaze the fraction it might otherwise, and to keep her voice light and even, or what she says next doesn't carry the ulterior motive expected. "Or… I have a bottle of good vodka over at my place. We could share it, find some privacy. Talk." They could swap stories about why they hate those that walk around like loaded guns.

"As honoured as that would make me…"

A hand drifts to splay flat against his chest, Valentin's smile growing a little more crooked, the glint of wet ivory between thin lips. "I would want to keep our relationship professional for as long as there are professional matters to attend to. But on the subject of philosophy— " And as if to make up for swift refusal for a private vodka, his hands go out to take the one she had put out and retracted again, his own palms rough and warm and dry, the callused edge of his thumb traveling over the dips and rises of her knuckles. "I promised an education, ano? But if we speak in practical terms, what separates us," and that word has a subtle, near slithery texture to it as gentle emphasis, "from them?

"I posit that it is really quite minute, but that does not garner my sympathy. It is a deception and little more — wolves in sheep clothing. But speaking of you, and your transition— you still did things with your hands. You still had need of other people to make the most effective use of your devestating power for more than simply defense. But perhaps you should tell me of your differences and similarities." His smile broadens, releasing her hand in a gesture, palms upturning. "I have never been a mutant, myself."

"The offer stands, then. When we've taken care of the business end of things…" Odessa smirks faintly. Settling for scraps is unbecoming in most ways, but one learns to gather enough to make a feast. She's caught off guard when he takes her hand, face lighting up some. In spite of herself, and a desire not to be too much an open book.

"I was a monster," she agrees, sobering some only in expression and tone. "I thought I was invincible. Above everyone else. That this gift of mine somehow gave me the right to lord over whoever I pleased." Odessa shakes her head, her gaze lowering to her hand as she returns it to her edge of the table. "It's intoxicating, knowing that time itself bends to your whim. I defy you to have treated that power any differently than I did."

Dark blue seeks out lighter again. "No one should have that kind of power. Nobody should be born into it. It isn't their fault, of course. It wasn't my own. I never stood a chance." With less melancholy, she continues, "I think I'm better off for the loss of it. I still am capable of holding power, of course. But now I have to earn it. It's much more impressive that way, don't you think?"

"Yes," is an easy and honest reply from Valentin, sitting back once more and then taking a fleeting-quick glance around at the bar and its people. "Others should not be held ransom so easily at the whim of the undeserving and their own selfish fulfilment. That is what happened to this city and so many other times since then. The earning of power brings about a better understanding of how to use it, and therefore, a kind of learned morality. Not just manmade ideals scripted into holy texts, but the simple division between man and beast, id and ego — that is not taught, only learned. We are superior beings, you and I, for the simple reason that we do not have choice in the matter."

He tips his head, angling his empty beer glass to peer inside it before picking up his shades from where they hang at his collar, not putting them on but unfolding them in a fidget. "That, and I have yet to meet a mutant who does not see the use of their freakish power as an option, or something to be regulated, when the keeping of arms is a simple matter of law and licensing. You are more impressive this way, Odessa."

"Thank you, Michal." Graciously, the woman inclines her head in acceptance of praise and compliment. "Part of the answer, I think, is to develop a cure. Adynotyline - Negoxan is one thing. But it's tantamount to treating symptoms while the disease lingers on. It would be much more effective to offer a cure to these mutations than continue to round people up in shitholes like this." In a tone as to suggest please let me out of here.

"There are many who would want to be normal again, and would willingly accept a treatment. Those that refuse, of course, can still be dealt with as those needs arise, no?" Odessa shrugs her shoulders, an easy smile curving her lips. "Not an ideal solution, but perhaps the pragmatic one. I can't entirely avoid approaching these things without thinking in a scientific or medicinal vein." You can take the girl out of the lab…

Delving further into this philosophy, Odessa asks point blank, "Do you believe in God?"

A hand splays fingers in gesture — neutral without necessarily being dismissive. Valentin is neither scientific nor medicinal. "It sounds like a study your superiors would be interested in hearing," he says. "Even if the Institute finds itself becoming undone, its work, in some form, must continue, no?" Slipping on his sunglasses, Valentin collects his gun, holstering it once he stands where it clearly hangs at his belt, no jacket to cover it over — no need.

"I believe in God, doctor," he says, once deliberating over his answer, whether to determine his own feelings or to determine what the correct response should be. "But I believe we are also on this earth alone."

Perhaps it was not the answer the woman was expecting. She cants her head to one side, mulling it over a moment while looking impressed by his opinion on the matter. "We both agree on the last portion, at least." Odessa rises from her seat, offering her hand. "I'll call you when I determine the status of the Kozlow girl. I hope we're able to meet again soon."

"S radostou," is both foreign and earnest enough that it's probably a good thing, a promise or a comment of anticipation for a future meeting. Valentin takes her hand, turns it rather than shakes it in a gentlemanly gesture for all that this place does not befit gentlemen and neither, in many ways, does he.


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