eileen_icon.gif odessa2_icon.gif

Scene Title Commonalities
Synopsis Odessa tracks down another surviving member of the Vanguard.
Date June 29, 2009

The Garden

Dusk has fallen on Staten Island. July is only a day away, so the weather is expectedly warm. Still, the woman who passes through the gate to the Garden is wrapped tightly in a knit and lace shawl as though to ward off a chill. A pale hand raises to knock gingerly on the door to the cottage and the visitor waits patiently for it to swing open. Dark hair clings to a pale face slick with sweat, bangs nearly hanging over sunken and red-ringed eyes. The woman resembles death warmed over.

The woman resembles Odessa Knutson.

You know, if she dyed her hair dark brown and became some sort of crack whore, I mean.

Eileen stands on the safehouse's threshold with one hand holding the door open and the other encased in a plastic brace, which she wears in a sling. Her first instinct is to invite the other woman inside, but as always her desires are tempered by caution. While Gabriel told her that Odessa was alive, he also he neglected to mention a few important details. Her physical condition, for instance. "Jesus Christ," she breathes. "You look like a bulldog licking piss off a nettle."

Odessa actually laughs even as she suppresses a shiver. "You've always had a way with words, Mun- Eileen." She sniffles and wipes at her nose with a crumpled Kleenex wadded up in her hand. "It's good to see you. You look… Well, you look better than I do. That's something, right?"

Eileen takes a step back to make room in the doorway for Odessa. "Funny," she says, "I don't remember talking that much." Trying to evoke the memory of their last meeting is like attempting to blow life into a popped balloon; too much time has elapsed since the last time the two women saw one another for her to really remember, and even if she could she's not sure she wants to. They've all changed since Volken's glory days. Some for the better. Others, like Odessa, it seems for the worse. "Can I get you something to eat?"

Odessa's sure that the time since the two women last saw each other has been more memorable for Eileen than it has been for her. The lack of recent clear memories only makes the past - even the grimy parts - seem brighter. "You didn't. But when you did, you had something to say." She considers the offer for a moment as she steps inside before deciding, "Yes. I think I could stand to put something light in my stomach." She glances about the room briefly before choosing to sit down at the kitchen table.

"You used to patch up the boys before Sylar brought me in," Odessa says quietly, finally shedding her shawl to the back of her chair. It clearly isn't doing her any good. "How much do you know about medicine, really?" Of course, what she really wants to know is how much Eileen knows about addiction. And more importantly, withdrawal.

"Not a lot," Eileen admits as she closes the door behind her and fastens the lock. The Garden is so far off the beaten path that the chances of any unwanted visitors turning up on the cottage's doorstep are slim enough to be considered non-existent by most, but no one argues with the security protocols laid out by the old harridan of woman who runs it. They know better.

As it happens, Eileen's definition of light differs from her guest's. As Odessa takes a seat at the table, she moves into the kitchen and lifts the lid from the pot she has bubbling quietly on the stove. "Worked with a ripper for a month or two after the bridge came down," she adds, reaching for a nearby ladle, "but that's it. Why do you ask?"

"I need help," Odessa responds, knowing it was obvious to begin with. "The people in Queens were able to help some, but the problem is that they don't trust me and I don't trust them. It's hard to… weather this without someone you can trust." She scratches at the crook over her elbow and frowns at the fading puncture wounds there. "I thought I had it under control. I'm a doctor. I should be able to handle this… But I can't. And it's the worst timing. I need to be able to focus so I can use my ability." She takes in a deep breath and swallows a lump in her throat before delivering the news she came here to deliver.

"Sylar's gone."

Odessa's implicit plea is met with a stony expression that settles across Eileen's features and hardens her eyes to flints. She spoons a ladle's worth of what looks like minestrone into an accompanying bowl, sets the utensil aside and replaces the lid to keep steam from filling the air and heat from escaping the pot. Although she hasn't come right out and said it, she has a vague idea of what Odessa is alluding to. "I know."

"We need to find him," Odessa insists. She actually flinches away from the look Eileen gives her when she asks for help. That wasn't what she expected at all. "I've helped you before. You don't remember it, but I have. I came running to patch you up when Volken tried to have you killed." The implication is there, perhaps, that one good turn deserves another. "I'm not saying you owe me anything. You don't. I just… wanted you to know." She fixes her eyes on the bowl of soup now. Not because she's hungry, but because it's easier to look at than Eileen's eyes.


"He's the closest thing I've ever had to family, Eileen," she entreats. "He's the only friend I've got left. Everyone else is dead or just gone. Please. I want to find him."

Eileen places the bowl in front of Odessa on the kitchen table, along with a generous helping of rye bread and butter — fresh from the mainland. She doesn't forget a spoon, either. "I didn't say I wouldn't help you," is her mild reply, almost serene in comparison to the eyes the doctor appears so keen on shying away from, "so don't think for a minute that I've forgotten what you did for me. I haven't."

She adopts a seat on the opposite side of the table from Odessa, her diminutive shape dwarfed by the stately oak chair it rests in. "If Sylar's the closest thing you've got to family, then you know he needs to be by himself. And anyway, he's not really gone. Just— out of sorts."

"He said he would be back to check in on me. He said he would be back by now. He wouldn't leave me." Odessa purses her lips, raising her gaze to meet the other woman's now. The expression is incredibly childlike, even when heavily veiled by the symptoms of morphine withdrawal. "Something has happened."

Eileen rests her elbows on the edge of the table, chin cradled in the nook formed by a pair of clasped hands turning inward. "Yes," she agrees, "it has, but I've faith he knows what he's doing. That's not to say I like it." Her stare is level with Odessa's face, studying the emotions that swim behind her big blue eyes with the cool acumen of a cat watching a field mouse through a cage of tall grass.

"His mind's in one place," she explains, "body another. There's nothing either of us can do about that, but if you're like me and set on poking your nose where it probably doesn't belong, then maybe you can help Ethan and I make sure he's able to piece himself back together again."

Odessa picks up her spoon and stirs her soup as she listens to Eileen, blowing on it before she takes a taste. She doesn't like the explanation any more than Eileen seems to like the reality of it. When she makes mention of her partner in this endeavour, the spoon - thankfully devoid of any soup - clatters to the table. "Ethan?" Knowing he was alive was one thing. But now knowing that someone knows where to find him is another. It actually feels like a punch to the gut.

Blue eyes grow wide and act as a window to the fear that's wound a cold, tight knot in the pit of Odessa's stomach. "It's not safe to be around him." She shakes her head quickly, an emphatic movement. "There's someone looking for him. Someone dangerous. I didn't even know Ethan was alive until this bastard held a knife against my hand and told me he was going to cut off my fingers if I didn't tell him where to find him." Beneath the fear, there's an undercurrent of contempt there. The feeling of betrayal stings. "When I couldn't tell him, he demanded I give him the name of somebody who could. I- I gave him Elias…" She looks away, suppressing a shudder that could either be a symptom of withdrawal or dread. "Hopefully he can stay a step ahead. But if he can't… It's only a matter of time before he works through all of us… If we all actually protect Ethan."

If. She makes it sound like a question. "I don't think Feng plans on straying very far if he thinks we're hiding Ethan from him," Eileen says after a pause, gaze drifting downward to Odessa's spoon and the distorted reflection glinting off the silver's surface. "As long as Elias stays away, he'll be fine."

She lifts her chin from the cradle of her hands and places them both on the table, plastic brace connecting with its worn wooden surface with an audible click. Fingers flex and joints pop as she peels back the velcro strap that holds it in place. "Don't tell him what you told me. Or anyone else, for that matter. If Ethan finds out that you sold one of us up the river, he'll take more than a pinky. Salucci lost a hand for less."

"I know," Odessa responds softly. "I gave up another to save my own skin. When I think about it, I had three options. Elias, Sylar, or you. I thought it best to send the man on a wild goose chase after Elias, so I could live to bring warning." She pauses briefly. "And still retain my fingers."

Odessa's body quakes with a shudder of emotion that she doesn't even attempt to suppress. "I didn't know he was alive," she chooses to reiterate. This fact is clearly a sticking point for her. "He… What was he… Why didn't he try to find me?" Tears prick at the corners of the woman's eyes and she quickly brings up one hand to dab the side of a knuckle there to staunch the flow. "Is that how all of this works? You protect someone as long as it's convenient, and then you leave them thinking there's no one left for them in the world and that they're just as alone as they were before they met you?" Pale lips tremble as Odessa retrieves her spoon to make another attempt at eating. "I don't think I like this game of strategy at all."

"You could have given him Wu-Long," Eileen points out. "Murphy." With one final twist and an additional snap, she finishes loosening the brace from her wrist and slides it smoothly off. Her injury, whatever it is, can't be too serious if she's willing to let the skin breathe and rotate her joint while Odessa is spooning minestrone past her parched lips. "For what it's worth," she adds, "none of us have gotten a wink since Volken kicked off. Sylar and I don't really speak. I can count the number of times I've seen Ethan on my toes. Try not to take it too personally."

"He already knew Wu-Long was dead," Odessa responds, pressing her lips together. "I'm sure he knew Dina was as well. Elias was my only chance." She finds herself suddenly wondering if she'd ever be able to justify her decision to save herself to Ethan. If he'd ever accept that she didn't mean it as an act of betrayal. Funny now how they're both traitors of a sort. She contemplates those thoughts for a minute or two while she continues to satisfy the niggling hunger in her belly.

"I thought I loved him, Eileen." The spoon is settled into the bowl and Odessa retrieves the tissue from her pocket to wipe at her nose with a sniffle. "I thought maybe he loved me, too. When word reached me that he was dead, nothing else mattered anymore. Kazimir had taken Sylar, and murdered-"

At that thought, Odessa finally breaks down, pushing her bowl away so she can rest her elbows on the table and press her face into her hands. "Sylar was good as gone, Wu-Long was dead, and I thought the same with Ethan. I felt I had no reason to live other than to try and finish what he started." Then, Odessa just gives into her emotions, letting her sorrow, her anger, and all of the pain she had kept bottled up inside express themselves in the flowing river of tears from the deep blue pools of her eyes.

This is probably a bad time for Eileen to speak her mind. She curls the fingers of her left hand around her right wrist, using her thumb to work some of the tension from her ligaments in a continuous circular rubbing motion. Revulsion or embarrassment — she's not sure what she should be feeling as she looks on in silence and watches Odessa's cheeks grow hot and damp. It occurs to her that Teodoro has more patience than she gives him credit for; if she was anything like this with him, and the more she thinks about it the more she suspects that she was, then the Sicilian deserves a medal of honour for holding his tongue as long as he did.

"If you lost the will to live with a handful of people you knew for only a few weeks," she says finally, "then you have bigger problems than Daiyu Feng. For fuck's sake, Odessa. There's more to love than sharing a bed with someone."

Odessa slams one hand down on the table and lifts her head to shoot a glare at Eileen through the tears still streaming from her eyes. "You wouldn't understand! I connected more with that handful of people, than I ever have with anyone in my whole life. They cared about me and they trusted me." It's the comment about sharing someone's bed that causes her to dig her fingernails into her palms. "It was never about… sharing a bed. It was never about that." The woman sniffles and tugs a stand of dark hair away from her face to tuck behind her ear. "Think of me what you will, but don't discredit Ethan like that."

Eileen blows out a long, slow breath through her nostrils until she can feel her lungs aching from deflation. Her temper is a thing with sickle claws, gnashing teeth and a frayed leash; as she rises from her seat at the table, the muscles in her face and neck bulge with the physical exertion required to keep it under control. Restraint hasn't been her strong suit lately, but she makes the extra effort anyway.

"Take my advice," she says as she maneuvers the brace back over her wrist in a series of abrupt halting motions, "and grow some bloody self-respect, you sniveling little nit. Neither Ethan or Sylar will have you otherwise."

Somewhere between her interrogation by Feng and arriving at the Garden, Odessa had all but decided she perhaps really didn't want Ethan any longer. That isn't to say she doesn't want the chance to see him again, but she doesn't suspect it would be some sort of reunion the likes of which she'd seen in the romance films she's so fond of. The idea that Ethan wouldn't have her is of little significance.

The mention of Sylar, however, brings a deep red flush that starts from her cheeks and eventually engulfs the rest of her face. Odessa stands up so quickly that the heavy oak chair she was seated on actually skitters back before toppling backward. "This was a mistake," she grits out between clenched teeth. "Coming here. Trusting you." She would look so much more menacing perhaps if the chills of withdrawal weren't causing her to shake like branches in a storm once more. "I had hoped we would be friends since the day you helped me tend to my own wounds. I can see that won't be possible with your petty jealousy." Odessa may not be very worldly, but she did have plenty of time to learn how to twist a knife made of words. "And since your first thought ran to sharing a bed with one of those two, I'd say that's what you want."

"Rounding on people who tell you the things you don't want to hear is no way to make friends," Eileen says, smoothing the velcro strap into place, "never mind keep them." She'd been slightly taller than Odessa when the other woman was still sitting down, but now that she's lurched to her feet the drastic difference in height is as plain as the utter fury written across her face. "You're right about who I'd like to have in my bed, of course. So you can trust me insofar as you can someone who's speaking from experience."

She adjusts her sling by using the fingers of her free hand to loosen the tangled knot at the nape of her neck, all black hair and white gauze. "If you want to clean yourself up, there's a bathroom upstairs and hot water in the tank. If you want to leave and place your head squarely in the center of Daiyu's rifle sight, then you know where the front door is. I won't stop you, but I'd be very sorry that you did."

It's as though Odessa's being, still as she is, skips frames. The rise and fall of her chest with the deep breaths she takes to keep in control of herself don't seem fluid enough to be natural. At her sides, her fingers spasm wildly. Finally, she seems to consider herself fit to speak. "I'm sorry I shouted at you. I'm not myself." There's part of her that has a hard time apologising to Eileen, but her head prevails over her anger and reminds her that burning bridges won't get her what she wants. "I think I would like a shower and probably a nap. When I get up, we can discuss how we're going to help Sylar." Unite on the commonalities, if all else fails.

"When you get up, we can discuss why you're trembling like a leaf in the sighing wind," Eileen stipulates instead. "Sylar can wait."

Begrudgingly, Odessa nods her head. "I'll take a look at your arm and help you out with that sling, too. You look like you could use an extra hand with it." She wants to smile, but she can't quite will the expression onto her face. "We'll discuss our medical needs, but then you'll tell me what's happened to Sylar." It isn't a request, but it isn't quite an order or demand, either. Whatever it is, Odessa seems to believe it's futile to debate the matter further, and she simply turns to head for the stairs. "If I'm not up in five hours," she says without looking back, the way she grips the railing suggests she's having trouble climbing the stairs with seemingly stiff limbs, "come and make sure I haven't done something stupid like crawled out a window." She disappears at the top of the stairwell, adding after she has vanished from sight, "Or died."

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