A Social Call


elisabeth_icon.gif odessa_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif

Scene Title A Social Call
Synopsis After their interviews, Richard and Liz take a little time on the clock for a visit with a friend.
Date September 2, 2019


It’s been a long day at the Plum Island SLC-Expressive Center, aka PISEC.

In the back of Richard’s mind, he just calls it ‘Level Five with room service’, because he tries to at least be honest with himself about where he had a hand in sending his ex-lover.

The room that they’re set to meet in looks just about the same as the room they met Pete Varlane in, right down to the leather furniture. He’s restless, meandering around the room and browsing the book-case, walking back and forth, and probably generally driving Elisabeth nuts with his inability to stay fucking still while they wait for Odessa.

Of the visits they've had while here, this is the one that Elisabeth isn't worried about. She comes up to see Odessa — not as regularly as she'd like, but she makes the effort, and she sends books and music. So despite the fact that the place sucks, she's not worried about seeing the other woman. She is, however, more than aware of the emotional reaction of the man she married to the man he was supposedly named after. With her arms crossed, Liz is leaning against one of the walls, her feet crossed at the ankle, watching Richard pace. It's neither the time nor place to really talk about what they've learned, so she simply leans her head against the shelf of the bookcase behind her.

"They're coming," she observes mildly, picking up the footsteps outside with her ability.

The door opens a scant few seconds after Elisabeth has announced it. The thin frame of Odessa Price comes into view as the door swings inward, wearing a mask of uncertainty - they hadn’t told her who was here to see her - until she lifts her gaze from the shoes in the room to the people who stand in them.

The blonde’s face brightens, a small smile coming in to place as she steps into the room and the door is pulled shut behind her. “Hey. Didn’t expect to see you two. They said someone had questions for me.” It’s clear that she believes there was some mistake. Some crossed wires. These are her friends and this is a social call. “It’s good to see you.”

Richard looks up as the door opens, a warm smile curving to his lips and brightening his eyes as he straightens up from his latest perusal of the bookshelf. “Hey there,” he greets warmly, stepping over and half-lifting an arm for a hug, pausing as he’s uncertain whether it’s appropriate or she’d welcome it.

“Technically you’re on our list of people to question today but honestly we just wanted to see you,” he admits freely, “No questions here other than ones about how you’re doing.”

Elisabeth's smile is just as bright, her blue eyes taking in the slender woman. "Hey yourself, lady. Sorry I didn't make it up last week. Aura was down with sniffles. So making up for it by dropping in on company time," she says with a grin. She'll wait her turn for a hug, tipping her head and studying the other woman while she does so, just taking in the sense of her.

The hugs are readily welcomed and accepted. Odessa gives a squeeze to each of her visitors in turn, her smile a bit brighter by the time the affection’s been delivered. “Getting paid to be here? Nice,” she grins. “There’s a joke here about my own salary,” (“salary”) “but I’m too…” She waves a hand in the air, dismissively, unable to come up with the right word (which, frankly, illustrates her point), “to figure it out. So, pretend I made it. And that it was funny.” Her hands are held out in front of her, palms up. “This is where we laugh.”

A pause. For laughter.


“Whose trees did you come here to shake then, if you aren’t here just to say hi?”

Once accepted, Richard pulls her in close for a warm embrace before stepping back to make room for Elisabeth. “She is,” he observes wryly, “I’m salary.” He sweeps a hand towards the comfortable seating, moving that way, “Sit, sit. Saw you outside earlier with Kyla — we were questioning Pete and— Schwenkman earlier.”

There’s a decided dip in the cheerfulness of his tone at the mention of the latter, but he swiftly pushes it away.

“How’ve you been?”

Elisabeth's hug is strong and affectionate. "Eh.. getting paid doesn't seem quite as urgent when the other half is rich as Croesus." She rolls her eyes as she replies. "The shaking of trees isn't exactly going well, but… not sure if we actually expected it to," she admits. Lowering herself to a seat while they chat, she says, "Aurora's made me promise to record her and the twins singing songs for you, so you have something to look forward to in next week's box."

She lets Dessa answer the how've you been question without reasking it — it comes from both of them, obviously.

“Must’ve seen us in the garden,” Odessa concludes, since that’s when she last saw the Renautas girl. “Rich is—” She stops herself short and tilts her head curiously at Richard. His cheerfulness ebbs away from him, and so it ebbs away in her. She knows that the mention of Richard Schwenkman doesn’t bring her down, so this must be about him. “Huh.”

Shaking it off, she tries to rekindle that good mood of her own volition, smiling brightly at the mention of a recording of the children singing. “I’m definitely going to look forward to that. Thank you.”

Odessa claims one of the plush leather seats for herself, pulling her feet up off the floor to tuck to one side of the cushion. “I’m doing okay,” she assures her friends. “I mean, I’d rather be anywhere else, but that’s a given.” It’s not like anyone expects her to be thrilled to be in prison, even if the alternatives were worse in vastly different ways.

“I got a board game group going.” Odessa sits up a little straighter, clearly proud of herself for forging connections among her fellow inmates. “Me, Pete, Bruce, and Rich all get together and play on Tuesdays mornings.” Her nose wrinkles. “I never can seem to win at Sorry.”

Imagine that.

“Bruce— oh, right, Maddox,” Richard’s head bobs a bit in a nod as he settles in on the couch, stretching his legs out, “That explains why Pete was asking us to play Monopoly, actually, the board game thing…”

A smile tugs up at the corner of his lips as he looks back over to her, “I’m glad you’re doing okay, at least. I think about you a lot, at least you’re…” He looks around, “Safe in here?” He’s trying to find a silver lining. It’s awkward.

Seeing Odessa like this is … so different from the Odessa that Elisabeth spent two years with. It's occasionally a weird moment or two before she has to shake her head and marvel at where they find themselves now. Her smile is quick. "I hope you're fleecing the lot of them for everything at Monopoly at least," she tells Dessa. "It's small comfort but it gives me a gleeful kind of pleasure to imagine that. And I certainly prefer knowing you're having a little bit of fun rather than just working." She tips her head. "Are they keeping you very busy?"

“Yeah,” Odessa confirms. “Him. I forget sometimes that people aren’t exactly on a first name basis with, uh…” She trails off. It’s kind of awkward, yes. “To be honest, I’m not sure how safe we really are,” she admits, though she doesn’t seem bothered by it. “If I were wanting to stash all my worst enemies, I wouldn’t put them all in one place.” But she’s not in charge of anything, so.

“Pete makes me work for it, when it comes to Monopoly.” It’s clear that Odessa enjoys the friendly competition. Then again, it’s Monopoly. There might not be anything friendly about it. Chances are, that particular game doesn’t come up in the rotation quite as often as, say, Connect Four or… Candy Land, maybe? Who knows what they even let prisoners play here. “We tried Risk once, but the guards took it away. Made them nervous.”

That’s probably a joke.

As to whether she’s being kept busy, Odessa fidgets in her seat uncertainly. “I don’t think they want me to talk about what they have us doing…” Which should probably be a red flag. Or maybe it isn’t. Odessa’s not exactly known for keeping confidentiality, and it’s not like she’s really ever happily sided with the government before. But breaking the rules in her situation seems ill-advised at best.

A hand comes up, and Richard shakes his head. “Of course not. Don’t get yourself in any trouble over us, Des…” A faint smile, and he leans forward, resting a hand on his knee, “Whatever they have you doing doesn’t matter, what matters is that you’re doing alright. You’re right about everyone being here, but…”

A look around, leaning back, “Nowhere else, I suppose. Honestly half the people here I’d happily have working at Raytech, don’t tell anyone I said that. Of course…”

He snorts, “I suppose all of them used to work for me. In a manner of speaking.”

Trying to brush past that before that flicker of discomfort, guilt and pain becomes obvious, he waves it off, “Pete was actually pretty helpful. Surprisingly good conversation given his rep.”

Eying Richard, Elisabeth murmurs, "You quit that. They didn't work for you." She turns her eyes back to Odessa. "No need to tell us what you're working on. I was just curious about whether it was something you were enjoying, Dessa." There are few enough pleasures to be had when one is incarcerated, after all. From her pocket, she pulls an envelope with messy handwriting on it in crayon. Handing it over to Odessa, she grins. "I didn't have to mail this one — she said if you wanted you to have the first ones that she's drawn at school for you." The picture inside is of a house with autumn leaves (or what's supposed to be autumn leaves) drawn in crayon. There are several crayon-laden images — Ricky's nearly illegible because he was in a hurry to draw his dinosaur, Lili's with a precision that is characteristic of her.

“Pete’s miserable,” Odessa says with a certainty that she can’t possibly deserve. “He misses Magnes. He’s lonely. I’m sure he figured any help he can give you can only reflect well on him.” She understands. She’s been good about giving up anything asked of her since she got here. Cooperating. Trying to play nice.

The envelope is taken from Liz with a mute nod of Odessa’s head, the flap peeled back and the contents extracted carefully. The smile is instantaneous. She always delights in seeing the children’s drawings. “This is great,” she says cheerfully. “I’ll put it on my wall when I get back to my room.” Carefully, she folds it up again, fitting the drawing back into the envelope and then sliding that envelope into the pocket of her track jacket.

“Honestly, I kind of like Pete.” Odessa admits in a quiet voice. “He’s not shitty to me like the others. We can have civil conversations. Talk about nothing. Act like things are normal for a few minutes at a time. It’s… nice.” Odessa isn’t sure she deserves to forget she’s in prison, but she’s grateful when she can all the same.

“Hell, maybe realizing that Magnes is… Magnes,” Richard says with a shake of his head, “Fixed some of that crazy that I read in all of those emails. Resolving an obsession could do it, I guess. Honestly, if he wasn’t pretending to be stable the entire time we were talking— I could see working with the man. Not that it’ll ever happen, but…”

He wasn’t Ezekiel, but the dream of the Institute isn’t something that was unique to one of them. It’s just that only one of them got to see it live… and ruined it for the other forever.

“The kids miss you,” he admits, offering Odessa a faint smile, “I’ll see about getting them to visit at some point.” I miss you too, he wants to say so badly, but of course - he shouldn’t, can’t, and doesn’t.

Elisabeth's blue eyes flicker between the two and she smiles slightly. "I miss you, and of course he won't say so but he does too." She lightly boots Richard's ankle with her shoe. It's okay to say you miss her, stupid. "I'm glad that Pete's being okay to you," she tells Odessa. One takes the small positives where one can in this mess, it seems to her. And Pete Varlane can be a prick of the first order.

"So let's see… messages this week. Aurora said to make sure you know that she's at level 3 reading, whatever that is — she's reading small sentences, picking it up fast. And she wants to know if you want her to read you a story." Because Dessa used to read to Evie and Aura sometimes. So now the little girl wants to read one back. "And I'm supposed to ask which you would rather have — plain chocolate chip muffins or oatmeal chocolate chip muffins." She grins at Dessa. "Your choices are limited because the kids have decided that you need to be sent muffins in a care package, but they're keeping the leftovers."

Odessa wouldn’t know anything about pretending to be stable, would she? “Fake it ‘til you make it,” she says with a gentle shrug of her shoulders. Stability comes by degrees, in her experience. “We’re all medicated here, too.” Some more than others. “It helps.” Theoretically.

Blue eyes flit up to watch Richard as he tells her the twins miss her. She waits for the next part of that admission that never comes. Her heart sinks a little, but she understands. Or thinks she does. “I miss them too. I bet they’ve shot up like weeds since I got in here.”

Elisabeth provides the bolster to the dipping mood. It takes a second for Odessa to move her attention away from Richard and shift her focus to the audiokinetic. She smiles again. Children are simple and sweet. They don’t have the same long line of baggage that the adults do. Things just aren’t as complicated to them. Odessa is nice to them, and so Odessa is good. Nobody’s yet tried to explain that Odessa is nice to them, but Odessa is also a murderer.

“Oatmeal chocolate chip, for sure,” she replies. “And tell Aura to read me her favorite fairy tale. I always loved those when I was her age.” Whether she read the versions with the happy endings, or the dark and tragic cautionary tales, however, is anyone’s guess.

As he’s kicked lightly, Richard looks back over to Elisabeth with a slightly guilty expression, a hand coming up to rub at the nape of his neck.

“Yeah, they’re getting big,” he admits, shifting to pull out his phone — thumb tapping and scrolling a bit, brow furrowing, starting over and finally managing to get to his photo gallery before offering it over, “Here, I took some pictures of them last week.”

The twins trying to teach a SPOT to play Jenga. A shot the tower standing, and then one of all the Jenga blocks everywhere as the kids laugh. A shot of Aurora nestled in Liz’s lap as they read together, not realizing they’re being captured on film.

Elisabeth just smiles softly at him when he looks guilty. Yeah, yeah, I get it. She keeps her attention on the conversation, looking interested to see which pictures he captures this week — there's always something with their brood. The Jenga tower brings a quick huff of laughter, but the one of Aurora makes her expression softer. "I didn't even realize you were standing there," she observes easily. Not like she doesn't take pictures of him with all the kids when he's not looking! Her phone is full of them and she always shares when she comes to see Odessa the lady wants to see.

"Lili and Aurora are bonding over Ricky shenanigans being annoying, but Ricky's helping her not be scared of the SPOT bots." Of all the people helping with that, it's her brother or her cousin Carl who are most easily coaxing her into familiarity.

Odessa can’t help but smile when she looks at pictures of the children, even if there is a bittersweet quality to the expression. They’re growing up wonderfully, but they’re doing it essentially without her. Not that she was ever remotely instrumental to their upbringing, but it’s different, not having the option for spontaneous zoo visits or trips to the ice cream parlour.

“So,” politely, she steers the conversation away from the children. It can be hard on her to talk about them for too long. “Did you get what you needed from Pete and Rich? Is there anything I can help with? Anything you’d like me to suss out in our copious free time?” That’s Odessa. Always willing to betray a confidence.

“Pete was actually very… helpful,” Richard admits, one hand coming up to rub at the nape of his neck, “Schwenkman— “ He glances over to Elisabeth, his lips pursing in a tight line. “I… expected more of the man I was named after. Let’s— leave it at that.” He seems to be one of the few people Odessa has in here for socialization. He doesn’t want to damage that with his disgust of the scientist.

He glances back over, “We did find out why Kyla didn’t want to talk, I think. There was one more secret that we didn’t know— but Pete did. There were two Erica Kravids.”

Dragging a hand through her hair, Elisabeth just shakes her head slightly. "Two Kravids is two Kravids too many, in my book." She grimaces. There are definitely things she wishes they could figure out, but the truth of the matter is that she doesn't have a clue the right questions to ask yet. Not really. And even when she does think she has them, the people who have the answers never really wanna share. "Honestly, I just wanted to see you," she admits to Odessa. "Couldn't be up here and NOT visit with you."

Odessa seems to stare blankly for a moment, putting the pieces of that implication together. Finally, she nods her head slowly and emits a soft “huh” that’s a fairly decent emulation of a response Pete would give. “Well, that makes a lot of sense.”

Does it?

Considering the antics of the Institute and its remnant, probably.

“I’m glad you made time for me,” Odessa says with a small smile. “I’m doing my best here. I really am. Taking my meds and seeing my therapists…” She doesn’t talk about that aspect of her rehabilitation much. It isn’t as though she feels any stigma or shame about medication, given her background, but one generally does not bring up the topic of what antipsychotics they’re on in polite conversation.

“I still feel a little erratic sometimes,” she admits, a small shrug of her shoulders. What can you do? “But Sebastian — Director Waite — tries to make things about as normal as they can be. That helps.” Odessa seems a little self-conscious about being on a first name basis with the man in charge. “I’ll talk to Kyla again.” Shifting the subject slightly. “See if I can’t convince her to open up. She doesn’t deserve to be in here.”

“It wasn’t a matter of making time for you. I don’t visit as much as I wish I could already,” Richard admits with a slight shake of his head, “If there’s anything you need or want— let me know, I’ll try to get it cleared past Waite. I know you probably left some things behind in Raytech housing…”

Which means he hasn’t reallocated her apartment, and just left it waiting for her.

“Kyla— yeah, I don’t think she does either,” he admits, “Maybe that bit of knowledge might help her open up a little. I need to talk to Kyle on the outside, too. I wish they didn’t insist she stay on negation drugs; it’s honestly just cruel given their link.”

Elisabeth looks down and considers thoughtfully. "Is there any way that they might be convinced to let her talk to her brother? Or is he wanted?" She looks at Richard. Mainly, she's entirely unclear on the situation with the twins.

“Really?” Odessa laughs softly. “I figured SESA had confiscated all my possessions as evidence by now.” There’s a touch of relief to that, that they could be satisfied with having captured her, that they didn’t have to take her few worldly belongings. The ones she didn’t give to others for safekeeping before she gave herself up, anyway.

“I’ll try,” she says of Kyla again, nodding her head with determination. It will be her one great deed if she can get the Renautas girl out of this place. “I’ll let her know you’re going to try to set up a visitation. That should perk her spirits up at least a little.” Odessa’s gaze drifts toward the analogue clock on the wall, then back to her guests. “You’re going to miss the last flight out if I don’t let you go soon. I…” Letting them go is always a reluctant thing. “Thank you for stopping to see me. I would have understood if you hadn’t.” Which is to say if there’s a next time, she’s giving them leave to skip out without saying hello.

Rising from her seat, Odessa first pulls Elisabeth into a tight hug. “Tell that beautiful little girl of yours hello from me.” Then it’s Richard’s turn. “Buy those kids some ice cream from me.” He’s rich. He can afford to be generous on her behalf. “And a scoop of mint chocolate chip for me.” If they want to feel like she’s there.

Drawing back, she smiles fondly at her friends. “Congratulations again. You two really deserve all the happiness in the world. I’m glad you found each other again.” No matter how much that happiness also hurts her.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Richard says with a snort, a flicker of offense there, “I’m not going to pass through here and not visit you, Odessa.”

He steps in as she approaches, reaching out to embrace her— a tight squeeze, eyes closing for a moment as he soaks in the moment. Things he wants to say, words of affection and love, but she doesn’t want them— so he believes— so he just withdraws after a moment. “You deserve it too,” he says simply, “We’ll see you soon, Des. Take care of yourself in here.”

Giving them what privacy she can, Elisabeth tactfully averts her eyes and doesn't listen in case they want to say something. She's good at that! Then she takes her own turn at hugging Dessa tightly.

Whatever Odessa may want to say to Richard, she buries deep inside of herself. The closest she comes to betraying her feelings is the lingering way she withdraws, fingers dragging down his arms lightly. “I’ll be good,” she tells them as they depart the room, leaving her to wait for her escort back.

Her fingers are crossed behind her back.

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