Coming or Going


calvin_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif

Scene Title Coming or Going
Synopsis Two would-be turncoats (one in deed, the other in thought) share a smoke and unkind observations with one another.
Date February 26, 2011

Fort Hero: Parking Garage

Some Institute vehicles are put into operation with subtlety in mind. Mid-size sedans in common colors litter the garage in liberal swaths of silver grey and inoffensive tan. Then there's the hulking black SUV Calvin's making for with its tinted windows and armored doors, white headlights scorching in twin rings bwip bwip when he thumbs over the key fob and slides his briefcase onto the hood.

It's late morning and he hasn't been walking quickly, per se, but he's certainly moving with a fleet kind of efficiency now, the collar of his long coat turned high against dense concrete grey pressing in cold all around. Door opened, briefcase slung in across the passenger seat, M-16 on the driver's side floorboard hefted, checked over and settled after the case under the glittery earwig eyes of surveillance cameras that don't really have any reason to be suspicious.


Relevant to nothing, a grenade he's apparently simply pocketed for the additional rush of it at some point earlier in the morning goes in last.

A check of the trunk reveals nothing new. No one hiding in there. No bombs ticking.

A queer run of his hand across the vehicles flank further confirms — something, or nothing — and then he's clipping back for the open driver's side door, intent on exuent.

The door that ultimately leads into the building bursts open with a loud BANG! that echoes and masks the sound of hurried footsteps, high heels clicking a fortissimo allegro staccato. (Running.) Gasps for air sound deafening in the ears of the woman breathing. Her lungs burn, her body aches. White hair finally bounces free of the bun it'd been pinned up in.

There's blood and something meatier stuck in one of the strands that she doesn't notice until she slows to a jog, turning her head swiftly to peer over her shoulder to see if she's been followed. That's when the heavy strand smacks against her face and she notices — "Oh, Christ."

Odessa isn't squeamish by any means, but her fingers are shaking and there's an indignant squeak when she reaches up to pluck the piece of Agent Lambert's brain from her otherwise pristine hair. The shock causes her steps to falter, while a body in motion stays in motion.

At least until hers hits the pavement of the garage with a loud smack of one open palm on asphalt, her other arm pinned beneath her where it's held to her body by a sling. Healing bruises on her knees will take even longer to disappear now. Odessa starts to push herself up to her feet, and looks around the garage, finally realising she isn't alone. "Cal!" It's an awkward motion, between one useless arm, and the restriction of movement posed by her pencil skirt, but eventually she's back up on her tangerine heels. "Coming or going?" she asks, eyes wide and desperately pleading for the answer that will benefit her.

BANG! and Calvin stiffens and bristles like a spooked stray, one hand still on the door, ready to lever himself in anyway when he narrows a saber-edged look back over his shoulder after the source.

Which turns out to be Odessa.

Running in like.

A pencil skirt.

And blood.

Cal's mouth falters open as he stares, preemptive lie (Just arrived!) or apology (Sorry, no!) for fucking off regardless and leaving her there to rot in a sloppy puddle already sharp on the fork of his tongue when rankles his nose and hoods his brow instead. A mute flinch and a silent curse. Fuck. Fuck!!, world! This is really just — very inconvenient. For him. He has to marinate in his own frustration for a few exasperated seconds too, scruffy lower jaw ajut before he finally tips his head aside to indicate the unlocked passenger door.


Odessa nods quickly and makes a scramble for the passenger side, pulling open the door. She stares dumbly at the briefcase and the gun. The former is set on the floor carefully between the driver and passenger seats. The gun is held by the barrel. Not as if to suggest she doesn't know how to hold it, but so not as to feel like she's a carjacker. Really. Quickly dragging herself into the seat, she lets the gun rest in her lap. At least her coat makes a nice barrier between the blood visible on her teal blouse and his vehicle. "Oh my God, thank you."

One arm is slung across her body to grab the safety belt and click it into place. It draws a hiss at the way it pinches against her injured shoulder. "Fuck. Oh fuck. Oh, God am I ever glad to see you." Not that she's ever seemingly been one for level-headedness, but the way the words spill from her so quickly is uncharacteristic. That she's shivering is from shock, more than any lingering chill in New York. "My ability's gone." Another glance goes down to the firearm in her lap. "Should… Should I put this in the back seat or something? Or… do you want it on hand?"

"Ahm," says Calvin, who is even less sure how to deal with her now that she's in the car with him once he's clapped the door staunchly shut after his leg. He sits for a beat, considering her and the blood and the gun and the way she's holding it and shivering before he reaches to turn the key in the ignition, and then the heater on after that. A distracted twist of a knob and a button push have her seat warming quicker still, for all that he's still mostly looking at the rifle.

"Is it?" sounds distracted but not actually disconcerted, his own seatbelt strapped down before he bumps the vehicle into drive. Serenly, even. No need to look like he's in a hurry.

"Maybe if you could just — hold onto it, actually?" Which, with a lilt, is a very polite way to imply that they may be having to use it on someone soon.

Again, Odessa is nodding, pulling the rifle against her torso a little, while leaving it low and out of sight. "Sure. Yeah. I can do that." She spares a look to her shoulder again and frowns. And also takes in a deeper breath than any she's taken since being attacked in her office. "The guy was in Horizon armour. Quad zeros. So I guess that means he's from our personal unit. I've seen, uhm… Eldrige with the double-oh unit designation."

With perceived safety around the corner, despite all the implications that one of them may be shooting someone shortly, Odessa's finally able to slow herself down and talk in facts rather than frantics. "I don't even know who he was. But he had this ability where he… shot red lightning?" She winces. That sounds dumb, even for people with super powers. "It did something to me. It took my ability from me. He said I'm a traitor, Cal'."

A glance is spared to the driver. In it, the passenger asks something like is that going to be a problem?

Calvin concentrates hard on his driving and also listens, with the listening taking a sort've unconscious back seat to the process of their slow and steady escape from the premesis.

The exit with the guy in uniform who checks IDs and swings the big orange and white striped arm up and down is bypassed; Agent Rosen takes a right rather than a left, teeth caught as if waiting for someone to notice and flag them down. Nobody does.

A few more tight turns and they're breezing along what looks an awful lot like a landing strip and probably is, one big black SUV among many going about their business at Fort Hero. News of ability removal and red lightning elicit approximately no surprise, but it's possible he isn't listening close enough for the full impact to register.

Except then he reasons, hedgingly and with a sideways glance: "Well that is — kind've your thing."

Odessa's quickly tugging her coat around her tighter and checking her hair in the mirror attached to the passenger side visor to make sure she isn't showing too much blood. Though, realistically, if Calvin's going to be stopped for having her in his car, it's going to be because it's her. Not because she's got red on her. She relaxes visibly with an exhale of a breath when he turns the other way. Then it occurs to her that this isn't really reason to relax.

His comment on her propensities put her on edge again, regardless. "Oh Christ. You're new and you even know that." Odessa doesn't quite look sheepish, but maybe something in a similar vein. "What, do they point me out in orientation and say watch out for that one, she's a backstabber?" It wouldn't be entirely unfair if they did. "The point is that I'm not. I mean, I haven't done anything." Yet.

"Fuck." Odessa clenches one hand in a fist and shoots a glare out the windshield in front of her rather than at Calvin. "Okay, yes, it is my thing. And I'm good at it, damn it. If I was going to betray the Institute, it would have been done by now! I wasn't even trying. This isn't fair!"

A lot of the things Odessa's going on about sound pretty rhetorical, which is maybe why Calvin doesn't answer save for an occasional dubious 'I'm listening,' look spent her way as they approach the treeline. He also checks to make sure her fingers aren't creeping unwittingly for the trigger guard or anything, but that entails slightly more subtlety.

"I imagine," he says finally, once she's reached an awkward silence that's long enough for him to speak into, "that was probably the idea. I mean — to cut you off before you even get started."

He's conversationally reasonable as he drives, morning light filtered white and eventually dimmed through skeletal limbs once they're into the woods and the quality of the stretch they're driving on begins to deteriorate into smooth laid dirt. "I confess a certain amount of relief on my part…" trails into a mild left turn, lazy sensitivity for her plight contained to a half-hearted tilt of his brows up towards each other.

Awkward silence eases into something more tense for Odessa, who turns her head the left to regard Calvin, rather than peer at him out of the corner of her eye as she had been. She doesn't reach for the trigger or anything, but her fingers do flex in their curl around the gun for a moment. It's not the usual restless fidget, like the way she would play with threads of time. There's only the occasional blind grope for those now.

"What do you mean, relief?" Call her paranoid, but she did just get attacked by an unidentified man in her office. One who implied someone had been informing on her. "What part relieves you? That I'm no longer in possession of my ability, or that I swear I'm not a traitor?"

"Oh," says Calvin, who glances to her, clear-cut eyes earnest in their bold outline beneath the knit of his brow, as if he hadn't realized he wasn't being clear. Oh. "The first part. I know you're a chronic apostate. Sort've like," he trails off again, vague. There's a gate up ahead in electrified chain link, already propped open, presumably for his convenience. "Cause and effect. Like," he explains, " — you can't fuck him over anymore, right? But you can't fuck me over anymore either. So. Relief."

…Is only logical.

Bubump, b-bomp they're through the gate and he finally breathes something like a sigh of relief, the woods ahead already thinning out on the approach to a paved back road beyond the base's borders. "Whose brains are those, by the way?"

And now, Odessa looks hurt. "But…" Her lips quirk upward into a bit of a shaky smile, trying to sound a bit less rattled than she is. "The only way I intend to fuck you is literally, pumpkin." See? It's funny because he said it first.

Except the smile's gone and she's not laughing. "I actually like you. I wasn't gonna… Never." Odessa presses her lips together and looks back out through the front window. Wait. Something's not right here. "You… aren't taking this way because you've got me in the car, are you?" Her visible eye narrows a touch and she looks back at him again. "What the hell are you up to, Cal'?"

"I'm not really allowed to talk about it," says Calvin, apologetic and faux-apologetic in one. Sssiiigh. "I promised." He frowns, sad puppy don't-be-mad style. Just so. More commiserate with her plight than he's been so far. He promised, Odessa!

Also more on the faux side of genuine, he accelerates lead-footedly over the curb out've the dirt and into pavement in an arc of soft dirt and a hint of a gut-twisty fishtail before resuming a steadier coast. "But you can still suck me off if you like, muffin."

"Really?" That prompts a disgusted sound from the back of Odessa's throat. One that has little to do with the way her stomach flip-flops and lurches at the fishtailing of the vehicle. "You need to focus on the road. Maybe if you fix my stitches, I'll consider it." She touches the pads of her fingers to the stitches in her scalp for good measure. When she doesn't come away with blood, she tilts her head to one side with a sort of suggestion to express well, at least that's good news.

"So… You're the traitor, then." Not that she has any idea what he would have done as an act of betrayal, but he's behaving sketchy, even by her standards. And they totally just sneaked out (as much as an SUV can sneak) of Fort Hero on a dirt road. "Or. Well, if you aren't… They're going to think you may be. If they know I've been talking to certain people, then they probably know that we're sleeping together, so that means you're totally on their watch list." Odessa shrugs her good shoulder, an apologetic flash of teeth in a lopsided smile. What'cha gonna do?

A look craned over at the top of her skull entails legitimate consideration of his skill level vs stitches popped and he half nods distracted allowance. Willing to give it a shot before he dumps her off on a corner somewhere and carries on about dropping off the face of the planet. Also — he likes his odds.

"Traitor is a strong word with strongly negative connotations," is what he says instead of saying that he likes his odds, road taken on in a recurrent S weave across non-existent oncoming traffic all Humbert Humbert while he takes the time to look her over in her blood-matted entirety. Back and forth, in and out across the dashed yellow line. "Hopefully they don't give you too hard've a time, seeing as they've already taken away your mojo and all."

"Oooh. So you are. Oh, I knew I always liked you. You have good taste." Teasing aside, Odessa then purses her lips. "…Oh. I wonder if they think we're in on this together. Wouldn't that be something?" She sniffs. "You know, for once? I wasn't planning on fucking these people over. Was I planning to help my old friends even though I'm supposed to be arresting them? Sure. But that's not active betrayal. Come on. I'm way more creative than that."

She's babbling.

She's also terrified, and it's a defense mechanism. The old one, stopping time and taking deep breaths until she could get a hold of herself, isn't exactly available to her anymore.

"I'm… pretty sure I have someone's brains in my hair still. Holy shit." A breath. "Holy shit." Odessa's eye lids heavily and her mouth works soundlessly for a moment around a few stronger fucks and Jesus Christs. "Holy shit." Her free hand comes up, her palm pressing against her lips to silence herself. Or convey absolute dismay. One of the two.

"Well I did learn from the best." About as genuinely humble as he is (openly) sympathetic to anything or anyone, Calvin continues to list wherever he pleases across the road while he listens. She's a mess. Mentally, physically. He's very clean, in stark contrast — coarse mane of dreads freshly maintenanced and anchor beard shorn down into trim, gingery order. Eyeliner and mascara precisely applied, affect outwardly at ease under the stiff-cut lines of his coat.

Accepting also, insofar as he doesn't laugh or argue or cut her off while she goes on about the difference between active and…latent(?) betrayal. Or betrayal that doesn't count, or something. He scratches the side of his nose.

"You'll be alright."

"I'm the best." Her hand lifts long enough for her words not to be muffled against her fingers. It's a defensive assertion. One that really shouldn't be boasted so proudly. But it's Odessa's. Betrayal is her thing. Though any other day, she'd 'correct' and say survival is her thing. She swallows anxiously and actually seems to do a double-take when Calvin makes his own assertion. That she'll be alright.

Then she starts to relax again, her hand coming to settle loosely over the gun in her lap. "Thanks." Odessa tips her head back against the seat, dropping into a few moments of companionable silence as she focuses on taking two deep breaths. Two breaths before she allows another word past her lips. "Will you be?" All right.

Companionable silence seems about right. Calvin allows for it without pressure, SUV angled into the proper lane when a beat up thunderbird comes peeking dusty red round a corner up ahead. "I dunno," sounds honest enough at length, for all that flat ignorance doesn't seem like his style. "That's part've the intrigue of it, I suppose."

The cigarette lighter's punched in after a few seconds meandering thought and he reaches to open the middle console, an open pack of Swisher Sweets untangled from a cell phone charger and a pair of 30 round magazines.

"Of m'plans, I mean," seems like it needs clarifying once he's tapped one out to the corner of his mouth and offered the box over to her without looking. "Not betrayal by itself. You should probably look into finding a skill that's less openly contemptuous, by the by."

The response to that isn't even a proper syllable. "Mmm," is all it gets. Odessa plucks out one of the Sweets and brings it to her lips. A few months ago, she wouldn't have dreamed of smoking. A lot has changed, her vices included. "Thanks." She stares down the end of the cigar for a moment before peering back over at Calvin.

"So, how did you get those scars anyway?" Odessa doesn't feel the need to clarify. He knows which ones. "They look like you should have died. And you didn't. So, there's obviously an interesting story. And if you're gonna run away, and if I'm gonna give you a blowjob before you do, I wanna hear the story."

The lighter jumps out of its socket and is narrowly caught up by Calvin's twitchy reflexes, springs too excitable, as evidenced by a burn mark or two in the carpet beneath his briefcase and Odessa's heels. He lights up quick and passes it over, first puff clouding the driver's side 'till he rolls the window down, and then hers.

"I was impaled," he says once he's had a decent smoke, little brown cigar with its faggily sweet smoke tipped aside out the window in a flutter and twist of dirty ash.

"I set this church full of Americans on fire, right? And this one bloke lost his wife or dog or something — I don't really remember but he was really pissed off."

Odessa takes the lighter and presses it to the tip of the cigar until it lights. She replaces the metal piece before she takes a good puff from the smoke. His reveal doesn't perhaps provoke the shock or disgust it might from most people. Maybe that's why he was honest. (If that's the honest truth.)

Instead, Odessa is merely quizzical. "You know… I stabbed the guy that shot me in the face until there wasn't any face left. But I've never set anyone on fire before. …Intentionally." She pauses for a moment, considering the smouldering end of her cigar. "That I recall." She tips her own ash out the window, an awkward lean being as her right arm is bound to her body. "So why'd you do that? I always figured it takes a lot of hate, or a pyrokinetic, to set a person on fire. Or a place, knowing that people will burn." Her gaze seems to size him up for a moment. "And if you were pyrokinetic, you wouldn't need that stupid lighter. You'd have shown off for me by now, non?"

"Ah," says Calvin, brows lifted again while he tries to think back. Well. "…My boss set me to the task of quashing a guerilla resistance likely knowing what sort've tactics I'd resort to. Anyway. I'm unmanifested." He's as disaffected by face stabbings as he is most shows of violence and, indeed, Odessa's current state. But he does edge half a smile her way before he bumps the radio on with a knuckle and pushes the Swisher back up and in for a drag.

"That's what matches are for."

"Resistance. Like Messiah. Or the Ferrymen." Odessa's gaze slowly drifts to the rifle so conveniently in her lap, then back up to Calvin. After a moment to think, she makes sure to make a show of reaching up and occupying her good hand with the cigar. She thought about it for a second. That's all.

"You are like me, aren't you?" More ash is flick-flick-flicked away through the open window. "I grew up underground, thinking I came from a test tube, and not knowing sunlight on my face. So that's why I'm a bitter bitch who gets a thrill out of fucking people over when I can find a better deal for it. What's your excuse?"

"Is that it? 'Cause I'd thought all this time recurrent betrayal for personal benefit had more to do with cowardice and self-preservation." Drawlingly earnest again, Calvin grins wolf white and blows smoke not-quite in her face, air currents curling quick back along slitted windows enough to stir his sickly sweet exhale away from her eyes. "I do what needs to be done. As for the rest — I'm not a shrink."

"Sure, it's about self-preservation. But I am not a coward. You take that back." Says the girl running away from the Institute because she's scared out of her mind.

"Who the hell are you, really?" The cigar is forgotten for now, left to hang loosely from the vee of her fingers as she stares incredulously across to Calvin. "You shouldn't know this about me. You shouldn't know about my… My past." Odessa's past betrayals.

"Make me," says Calvin, who only waits a beat before the smoke-punctuated addendum of: "Oh, that's right, you can't because your powers've been stripped away by someone with more than five seconds've foresight." Not that he's being being judgmental. Except that he is, tobacco rolled from one corner of his mouth to the other as he glares at her. And drives, a peek of more industrial landscape grey over the growth ahead.

"Everyone knows what you are because you've turned coat on — everyone. Humanity communicates, you know. It's one've our defining attributes."

Odessa takes in an indignant gasp, her jaw hanging open in total shock at what she's hearing. "You're an asshole," she retorts weakly, tucking her chin against her bad shoulder as she starts to cry. He's an asshole, except that he picked her up when he could have left her behind. So maybe Odessa regrets her choice of words after a moment or two. She sniffles miserably, shoulders quaking and sending twinges of pain through her body where she's torn stitches.

"It's hard to change, you know. When everyone just expects you to jump ship. Eventually you just do it because it's shitty being treated with all that distrust, and there's somebody else waiting who swears they want you, and that they need you. And you think this time, they'll believe in you." Odessa blames it all on a vicious cycle out of her control. It's much easier like that.

"Someone has to be."

Calvin sounds more resentful than he means to when he says so, his own crusty bitterness flashed fishbelly white to the forefront of his countenance when he runs his tongue over his teeth and takes a longer drag of tobacco and grape.

"Stop crying. Sooner or later there are consequences for unfortunate impulses." A reach for the radio sees the volume turned up enough to deter further conversation now that the city's climbing cold up the horizon. "Have enough respect for the people who suffer accordingly not to make self-involved excuses once you're outed."

He's right. And that's what makes her want to cry harder. For a moment, Odessa considers pitching her cigar out the window in anger. Except that she really wants to smoke right now. One impulse is curtailed in favour of expelling smoke through her nostrils like a fuming dragon. In spite of the tears sliding down her cheeks.

The scenery whips by the passenger window, and Odessa watches it blankly for the space of several tense minutes. "You're right," she utters. Perhaps not loudly enough to be heard over the radio if he isn't listening for it. "I'm sorry."

"S'alright," says Calvin, also quiet. Although not nearly as quiet as the ride the rest've the way to another parking lot, where he can clean out her wounds and restitch them with the meticulous hand of the not-recently-practiced if she'll hold still long enough before he leaves her there to find her own way home.

For all that she curses and tells him to be careful when she's restitched without morphine, Odessa still leaves him with sincere well-wishes. (Best of luck.) And a kiss goodbye.

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