Be the Overflow


odessa4_icon.gif ruiz2_icon.gif

Scene Title Be the Overflow
Synopsis A randomly selected distraction turns out to be a wellspring of possibility.
Date November 4, 2011

The Commonwealth Arcology: Park

The park is cheery. It's always cheery. Odessa Knutson Price almost resents it for that. There should be nothing cheery about this place. It doesn't deserve the facade. Then again, neither does she, so perhaps they're a matched set. A wry smile tugs at her lips as she considers this thought, then banishes it in favor of reading through the chart sitting on her lap. There's a small circle of benches where she and her current patient can sit across from one another and enjoy this respite from the stark clinical settings they're usually confined to.

"Good afternoon, Ruiz." The doctor looks up from her paperwork and begins their conversation almost abruptly, but with a genuine smile that touches her visible eye. A black patch with fine lace edging covers its ruined twin. The back of her pen is used to scratch at an itch just shy of her temple, ruffling the bangs that are worn almost too long - she's due for a cut - so that the scar across her forehead is obscured. The rest of her snowy hair is tied up in a high ponytail. "How are you feeling today?" She always starts with that.

Not everyone's cheery!

Though Ruiz has an ironic smirk on his mouth as he looks around. Some people's dorms are better stocked, some people have more freedom— him? He doesn't even get to shave himself cause he once tried to attack someone with a salvaged razor. He'd also attempted to escape and got the hallway filled with negation gas once. It had been one of those days. With his close cropped hair and beard, he half expects this to be another day when he finds out the negation pills he got were placebos and they wanted to see him work his magic.

But no, instead he's sitting across the bench with a snowy haired woman.

"Better now that I'm not trying to count dust particles on the wall," he jests. Any coversation might be better than counting seconds. Or dust particles. "Not every day I get checked up on by a grounded space-pirate."

The comment hurts. The pirate jokes always hurt. But Odessa's used to it, and she doesn't flinch anymore. "Yes, well, my ship struck a satellite and now we're grounded for repairs." She gives a little shrug. What can you do? Here they are, neither of them cheery. "I've only recently been transferred here and I'm making it my personal mission to ensure people like you aren't spending their days counting dust particles." There can't even be many of those in those awful sterile rooms, can there? Must get frightfully dull frightfully fast. She knows what that feels like.

"I have to admit, Mister Ruiz, that I found your file quite intriguing." In that it's missing a good deal of information about the man's origins. There's mirth in her gaze now, the kind a teenager wears when they're feeling up to mischief. The kind that comes with bending the rules. "Your ability," the twinkle leaves her eye just as quickly as it came, "is also quite frankly fascinating, but I can read about that without your input." And she has. While it is a neat trick he has, she's not here to ask him to perform tricks like a circus monkey. She doesn't care. Her new friend has taught her not to rely on any ability but her own. "Tell me, did you spend time in Texas, by any chance?"

With a tilt of his head, the man seems to take note of something even if she didn't flinch. The slightest hint in mannerisms. Most people can't hide it in their eyes. Ruiz waves a hand, "Apologies. Must suck when travelers are grounded. Free spirits should be free." He seems to be speaking of her, but perhaps himself at the same time. The dust particles are few and far between, though he tended to like to point them out whenever someone who seemed to be in charge of cleaning came around.

"You're from space and I'm the one who people keep thinking is an alien." No doubt questions on if he entered the country illegally, which could explain much of the lack of information in their database. As far as the paperwork said, he'd never answered that question. His lack of a foreign accent works against such a presumption. He speaks English without one at all, but seems to speak Spanish equally as well.

Instead of answering the question, he inclines his chin and responds with one, "Why Texas?"

It's true that she doesn't have the best poker face on the planet. Hell, she probably doesn't even have the best one in this park, but she's had to learn a lot very quickly about controlling her emotions. She is no longer afforded the luxury of time to have outbursts that no one can see. There are no more frames missing her movement reel. It's forced her to come up with better ways to cope than to scream into a timeless void, and she takes pride in this newly grasped control over her emotions.

He's amusing. She likes that. "It seemed like we might have some things in common, so I thought we might as well start there." File and pen set aside, to give the impression that their conversation is off the record (and it is), Odessa crosses one leg over the other, smoothing out a wrinkle in her silver suit pants. The vest worn over her pale yellow blouse (and under the customary white lab coat) is made from matching material. "My file used to look an awful lot like yours does, and that's where I did my coming up in the world."

For a long time his dark eyes just look at her visible one, rather than the eyepatch, focusing intently on her. Not the scars, not the hair, not the eyepatch. Whatever Ruiz might be looking for makes him nod. "Don't imagine Texas would be much to my liking." He doesn't clarify, but he glances down at the pencil and paper.

"Off the record, huh? Though I imagine they're probably still listening," his eyebrows lower and he shakes his head. There's something he definitely doesn't want those here to know, just from the way he evades questions as if they were bullets.

"Though Texas, maybe not the place you're refering to, might be better than this." He seems to gather that her background isn't pleasant. "Unless it's under water." He adds that as an aside, his hand making a 'obviously it's not' gesture.

The observation about listening devices is praised with a smirk, "Clever boy." He's older than she is if the documentation is to be believed, and that part she suspects that much is at least true. But it's about power dynamics, and Odessa is the one with security clearances and a room with a door that doesn't keep her locked in. (Most nights.)

But this isn't about playing a game of cat and mouse. Not with him anyway. That game is strictly with her employer, and she knows very well that she is the mouse in this situation, and the Commonwealth Institute is a very large and feral cat.

His gaze is intense and it thrills her in a way she'd forgotten she could feel because there isn't an undercurrent of raw, primal fear that comes along with it. She mulls over his question. "Marginally," she grants. Back then. "I was still above sea level." If not above ground. What a thing for him to say. "I don't know many people who did like it much," she admits. Even the people who were there willingly seemed utterly miserable at the end of it all. Still, there's a pang of loss when she thinks about the fall of the mysterious Company and the people that went with it.

But not all are lost. She may yet find an old friend in this arcology. "Still, sometimes I can't help but feel nostalgia. But maybe that's just the Stockholm Syndrome." Ha ha.

If she's the mouse, does that make him the cheese or another mouse?

"When you're trapped in the same place, you adapt," Ruiz responds simply, that hint of a smile returning to his lips. "You either learn to swim, find a boat and high ground, or you drown." It's close to a saying, with some hints that made if different, going off his off hand comment a little. "And when you're suddenly thrust into a different situation, I imagine you'd miss it." Stockholm Syndrome or just the craving for the familiar.

"That I understand. This place tries to make itself familiar, for the kids. But it's anything but." A few places that seem friendly, nice, something that would be welcoming to those held within. At least those that don't try to get out, more than not.

He lost most of his rights to an open door. He often only gets out under escort.

"Actually makes me miss home."

She's listening - intently - but behind her eyes the gears are whirring because something he said has pinged some portion of her memory, but she cannot figure out why. And it was deliberate, wasn't it? He's trying to tell her something. Remind her? All of this turmoil and this anger about not knowing is kept shut up in her mind, expression still politely blank.

Odessa uncrosses her legs again, her yellow ballet flats planting firmly into the grass, grounding her in some physical sense. She leans forward, and that intensity brings her brows nearer to one another, scarred lips parting. "How long have you been here?" Why does she feel this cold knot in her stomach?

"No idea. A year? Easy to lose track of time," Ruiz responds, even if his file says different. He'd been brought in in July, so not even as long as he responded. It's likely he spent some of it unconscious. Not to mention whatever they had to do to get him here. He's been there a long time for so much to be missing from his ledger, one might think, and he has to look back at her, shifting so that his own sandle wearing feet settle on the floor and he leans forward a bit.

"What's all been going on up top?" he inquires, studying her as if she might actually give him some answers when, well, he never bothered asking any of the other scientists. "The way they're packing this place full of specimens might lead one to think the world's ending."

"Well, we're still above the sea," she quips, falling in with his theme. "But they seem to be loading us into the ark tw—" Her face falls, unable to complete the analogy. The fear creeps up her spine, icy fingers walking their way up s l o w l y until she swallows down a lump in her throat. Nervous laughter bubbles up from her lips. She would know a thing or two about trying to bring about the end of the world - and trying to divert it. Multiple versions of her have struggled with it, but there's only her and there's only this moment, and the next moment that will become the new this moment and none of it can linger anymore. Not for her. Not ever.

She's been struggling with the feelings of powerlessness for months, and now, in this moment, she's losing that battle. "I don't know, Ruiz. But whatever's coming, I know people working here are going to try and stop it." It sounds like she's putting her faith in The Institute to save them all, when she knows the opposite is true. Something terrible is coming and they're preparing. "We're all probably safer in here," she tells him, a tight smile settling on her face. "There's a storm coming, and Noah said the ark's the only safe place in a storm."

There's a storm coming. "Flood waters rolling in," Ruiz echos in a more serious tone, eyes hooded slightly.

"Everyone tries to build arks. This one'll either float, or sink, and to be honest I'd rather not be in here to find out." There's that ironic grin again. Either he got her hint, or he just doesn't care that they will probably hear him talking badly about the place that shoved him in a black van and dragged him here.

No, he never did seem to know when to watch his mouth.

"But it's good to have some company, 'Dess."

That might not seem completely out of left field if she were wearing her nametag.

Time stands still.

Well, no. It doesn't. But it feels like the moment stretches on longer than it should, but that could just be the sharp inhale of breath that Odessa took in and doesn't release until she starts to feel dizzy.

It's nothing for him to know a name. He could have heard it from someone else. But she would have been Doctor Price. No one, no one in this place would call her by that name. Not since Bella disappeared, and they did not part on the best of terms.

It's familiar. He is familiar. Odessa is on her feet swiftly, pivoting on her toes to instead come to sit on the bench next to him, shoulder to shoulder now. Her voice is urgent, low, her visible eye wide and searching. "Who are we to each other?" Who will we be? Who were we? Which one of these is the right question? She knows this feeling. It's the same feeling she had when—

Bile threatens to burn the back of her throat, but it's pushed back down with all the other feelings of resentment, betrayal, and guilt. Just like it always is.

When she reacts like she does, that smile drops a little. As if she caught him by surprise with her sudden movement, but a moment later he understands why. Ruiz doesn't move away, or stand, but he does straighten a little from his slouch. "I might be able to answer that, but a sinking ship isn't the right place to." It isn't even floating yet, as far as he'd already said, but he already thinks it is sinking.

"You don't know me. I don't know you," his voice is equally quiet, but he puts special emphasis on certain words. When he continues, it's on a slightly different topic, though just as whispered. "They really haven't found anything about me, have they? Except whatever their telepaths have been able to find, I guess." He's looking off in the distance, into the park. Where people seem so happy.

Not knowing that the world as they knew it might be about to change around them.

She forces a smile, and then a relaxed posture. She has to. Her good luck can only last so long and her mysterious benefactors can only make so many excuses for her behaviors. "No," she confirms, keeping her voice soft. They know nothing. And now she wants to know everything. But he is right, and this is not the place for it.

"Can you tell me where it hurts," is a completely normal thing for a physician to be overheard to say to a patient. Less conspicuous than how can I help you overthrow our evil masters?

"That's disappointing," Ruiz murmurs under his breath at her negative comment. As if he might have wanted them to have found something. One would think he wouldn't be disappointed with how he muddles around any question that might be presented to him. The disappointment doesn't last long, when she asks what might seem an odd question, since he hadn't mentioned any aches or pains…

Except the metaphorical ones.

His eyes settle on one of the bodies walking by. Not one of the animals, but one of those who work there. Who might be listening.

Who probably wouldn't like certain implications or could carry messages back of wrong doing or suspicious behavior.

"My food's a little bitter. If you could do anything about that." His food might be bitter, but it's what's served with the food he might be referencing.

There's a strong urge to grin just as wide as she can, but Odessa settles for a sympathetic pat of his hand. "Of course. I'll take a peek at the menu and see what can be cooked up for you." There's a faint hint of teasing there, for the benefit of the pair of people passing too close by for comfort on the footpath ahead of them.

Sometimes, she dearly misses having the ability to wink. The thought is absurd, and there's that nervous chuckle again. "You know," she shakes her head, disbelieving, "memory is such a funny thing. All this talk, and I've got this old song stuck in my head. I'm sixteen again and back in Texas, and the record's on the turntable and I can hear it pop and hiss and everything."

Her scarred hand squeezes Ruiz's own briefly. "It's nice to have a good memory of that place." And if some good can have come out of Odessa, Texas, then maybe some good can come out of this place too. "Thank you."

The hand holding doesn't seem to bother him, though Ruiz does glance down for a moment with that same half grin. If she could do anything about that, he could possibly surprise them, but at the same time he knows that they would flood the halls if they had a hint he would do anything. But perhaps he could have a better chance at a plan, even then.

With Texas and her few good memories of it being brought up, he grins and looks over at her, "I do miss vinyl. Not that they give us much music that doesn't sound like it belongs on an elevator." And they certainly don't give him records in his dorm-cell. He was lucky to get books. "Which song?"

Odessa laughs softly, a more genuine thing. Easy. There's something about finding a partner in her schemes of betrayal that puts her at ease, which shouldn't say anything good about her. But he knows her face and her name and he doesn't seem afraid that she'll turn on him. Maybe she should be afraid of him, but right now… she needed someone.

"Caged nightingales don't sing." That's a joke, you see. Another old memory. Another former life. She scrunches up her nose briefly. "It was a classical album, Debussy. De l'aube à midi sur la mer. Which is fancy and French for from dawn to noon on the sea."

"But when a nightingale does sing, she can charm even death himself out of taking what he's owed," Ruiz responds to her caged statement with his own reference. But wordless songs, instrumentals by Debussy, can still leave quite the impression on one's memory. He stands, not letting go of her hand until he looks down at her with a grin and a nod. "Thanks, Doc. Hopefully we'll see each other again before the storm hits."

If not, well, maybe they both have a memory of sorts to carry along.

"I think it's time for me to get back to my room." And he must think that they won't stop him if he goes directly back to his room, cause he starts to walk away.

Odessa's heart jumps at his quote. It fills her with a courage she hadn't realized she was lacking. Associating with her is a dangerous prospect for anyone, and she finds herself worrying more for his cover and safety than her own. Back to his cell she will take him, and then she will leave him be. For his own good.

Quick to rise to her feet after him, scooping up her files and pen to scurrying ahead, she falls in step beside him easily. "You're right. Let's get you back."

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