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Scene Title Complications
Synopsis Odessa Price meets with Desmond Harper to display a perhaps unanticipated level of ambivalence regarding Elle Bishop's departure from the Institute. When Harper drops a bombshell on her, Odessa makes an unexpected request, and follows it up with an offer of dinner and storytime.
Date September 30, 2010

Suresh Center - West Wing

The western wing of the Suresh Center's third floor boasts space for ten offices, two conference rooms and an administrative office on the western-most end of the building where rows of cubicles serve as farms for intelligence gathering and tactical planning. A whiteboard in that room is marked with names and GPS coordinates, plasma screens display security camera and traffic camera feeds from across the city and an old-fashioned corkboard is thumbtacked with newspaper clippings, photographs and wanted posters for criminals and individuals wanted for questioning by the Institute.

Most people take a break on their lunch hour.

Desmond Harper does not have that luxury.

"Sir, I understand. But the risks involved— you saw what happened when we had Doctor Stevens try last time, it— " there's a hitch of Agent Harper's breath as he spins around in his high-backed leather chair, turning to face a view of the long and narrow stretch of Roosevelt Island out his office window, one hand holding his bluetooth headset in place. "Yes, I realize we're operating on a time table, but we can't rush this. If we perform an augmentation loop with Stevens we risk— "

Straining a sigh, Harper turns his chair around again so that he can slouch forward over his glass-topped desk, hands raking his short, dark hair back from his brow, eyes shut. Nodding his head repeatedly, Harper furrows his brows and lowers his voice. "Yes, Sir, I understand. I'll let Julie and Doctor Luis know they're needed back at the home office. I— "

The sound of a knock on Harper's office door and his secretary leaning in with an apologetic expression halts his conversation. "I'm… sorry sir, but Doctor Price is here to see you?" Harper's expression sags some, one hand moving up to hold the throbbing side of his head.

"Send her in," Harper grates, letting his secretary lean out f the door. "I'm sorry, Simon. I'll let them know. I have to go though, I have a meeting. Of course," Harper notes with a furrow of his brows, "Right, goodbye." It's only then that Harper exhales a breathy sigh and slouches back into his chair, bringing his hands up to his face and dragging them down slowly, knowing what's coming to his office is only going to exacerbate his headache.

Odessa's not the type of woman who simply sits and waits in an antechamber, waiting for the secretary to go check to make sure the coast is clear. She's right on the woman's heels and as soon as he utters the words send her in, Doctor Price is nudging past the woman and striding purposefully into Harper's office with a red folder tucked under her arm.

Not one for subtle, a gold tunic dress is paired with opaque black tights and a pair of slouching boots in emerald suede. "Agent Harper," Odessa greets cordially enough, ensuring the door is fully closed behind her before she crosses the room to offer her hand out to shake. "Talking to Doctor Broome?" The question is one she does not expect an answer to. It's offered more as a point of note. "Thank you for agreeing to meet with me. I know your time is valuable." She gives him a smile and a tilt of her head. "I can give you as much of it as you need."

"Time travel jokes are entertaining until you've had to hear no end of them from Simon Broome," Harper notes with one hand on his forehead, slouching back in his chair. "If you happen to have a bottle of aspirin in your bag of tricks," he adds with a wry smile, "I'll take that though. I know better than to travel through time myself, even if the opportunity presented it. Nothing good would come from a man like me being able to whisk himself whenever he wanted."

Cracking a weary smile, Harper motions to the chairs in front of his desk. "Have yourself a seat, I ah… I figure this is about what happened to Bishop?" One of Desmond's brows lift as he lowers his hand from his head, folding his hands in his lap. "I figured we'd have to discuss this eventually, seeing how close you two were."

"Don't be crass," Odessa scoffs. "I don't travel through time." She offers him a smirk of amusement briefly, before it transitions to something a bit more sympathetic. She unshoulders the silver sequinned purse she's carrying, settling it carefully on the corner of the man's desk and roots around in it. "I've got something harder if you wanted." A simple, unmarked orange pill bottle is set aside, but not offered out exactly. "I think I have some Excedrin in the bottom of this TARDIS somewhere…" Time travel humour?

Giving up, she shakes two pills out of the orange bottle and leaves them to lay on the desk for her superior before lifting her purse again to sit down in the indicated chair. "Take two of those, and you won't give a fuck about anything else. That is to say, you should probably only take one for now." Of course Odessa carries heavy-hitting painkillers in her purse. As if it were nothing.

"Exactly how close do you think we were, Agent Harper?" Odessa crosses one leg over the other, setting her purse down next to her chair, and resting the red folder over her lap, hands folded over the top. "How much did Ellie Bishop feed to you about how close we were? I'll fill in the gaps as best as I can." Her smile doesn't reach her eyes. Both occupants of the room are less than amused with Elle's antics, it would seem.

"She said you came on to her a little too hard sometimes," Harper notes with a raise of one brow as he appraises those pills on the corner of his desk, but just leaves them there for the time being. When his stare flicks up to Odessa, that brow so raised does not descend. "Other than that, I don't really know for certain. All I know is that you two spent a good deal of time together, that you spent most of your lives knowing each other, and you seemed close enough."

Harper leaves enough pause at the end of that statement, however, to imply plenty of doubt. "Truth be told you aren't someone who makes friends easily. Attachments, but that's different and I think Doctor Sheridan has likely told you as much." Harper's eyes dip down to the pills again, for lack of anything better to look at.

"I think you might have every reason to be upset that she's gone, and want to know why. I'm willing to tell you, provided that it stays in this room and does not find its way to the water cooler. If you're willing to act responsibly with the information, I have no problem sharing it with you."

"Ooh." Odessa's face scrunches in a mock display of being wounded. "And you didn't? I must say, the only thing you had up on me there was… Well, if I'd had the proper plumbing, she'd have been fawning over me instead of you." Not that she's bitter, or anything. "She couldn't stop talking about you. I was just trying to do you a favour and end her horribly misguided fixation."

When he accuses her of not being one to make friends, Odessa offers a winning smile. "Who would I tell? I don't form attachments." There's a shrug of her shoulders with that devious little quirk of her lips. She's enjoying herself in this moment to be candid. "Ellie Bishop and I grew up hating each other. She acted like she was trying to make nice." She rolls her eyes at the notion. Well, presumably she rolls both eyes. The black star-adorned patch over her left hides whether there's any movement left in that dead eye.

"She wasn't very good at it. No brain in that pretty little head, that one." She examines her gold-painted nails casually. "I tried to tell her that she needed to trust me, and that we needed to stick together. Not an ounce of loyalty left in her. And that's coming from me, sir." You know my track record. "Perhaps the Company bled her dry." Odessa lifts her head again, just enough that she has to lift her brow to establish eye contact with Harper. The effect really requires a set of glasses to peer over the top of.

"I assure you, I take my position within the Institute far more seriously than Ellie did."

"I hope so, because it was a very extenuating series of circumstances that saved her from a bullet," Harper notes with one brow raised, his eyes down in his lap, "I think it'll only be a matter of time though, before that happens. She doesn't have life skills and she isn't willing to learn patience or anything resembling proper behavior. She's a rabid dog, and one of these days she's going to bite someone who won't give her a second chance."

The notion has Harper looking back up to Odessa, eyes narrowed. "Which brings me to my question for you, I guess." Harper's brows furrow as his hands unfold and gesture up in front of himself. "What brought you here today? Because you don't seem terribly interested in the whys of Elle Bishop's resignation."

Odessa's shoulders come up in a shrug, one palm turned toward the ceiling. "I just can't find it in me to care about someone who didn't care a bit about me," she states matter-of-factly. "But let me ask you…"

The woman leans forward, white hair shifting and spilling over her shoulders. The glint in her eye isn't quite mischievous, but there's something keen there. A thirst for an answer. "If told you that I was going to go stay with a little red bird… What would that mean to you?"

"About six feet," Harper notes with a kick of one brow up into the air, "under, I mean." One thumb points down to the ground. "You have until my patience runs out to explain what you meant by that statement, because the last person in the world I want to have to deal with any more is Richard," and the fucking goes unsaid but intended, "Cardinal."

Harper's eyes narrow as he leans forward in his chair with a creak of springs and leather, elbows coming down on the glass top of his desk, hands folding in front of his mouth and chin dipping down as he offers Odessa a nod that implies go on.

The folder is flipped open finally and Odessa procures a sheet of paper. "Richard Cardinal," she murmurs absently. "That makes a lot of sense, I suppose." She lifts herself from her seat enough to set down and slide that sheet of paper across Harper's desk to settle between his planted elbows. "I don't know if you're aware of this, but…"

To: Odessa Knutson-Price
From: Sparks McGee
Subject: Important Updates


Leaving our employers. They are going to bring me to the Haitian. I may not remember anything about the past few months after this. Know that I'm with a little red bird, and he's keeping me safe and sound. It's the only way I can get out without being hunted down.

I may not remember anything that's happened between us recently, but know that I still need you just as much as you need me, even if I don't know it.

Bring my shoes and some of my clothes by the bird's place some time, before they get rid of all of it. You can look it up in the phone book. Save the shoes made of gold, those are important to me, and I need them back.

Love you, Dessa.


"That was waiting for me in my inbox," Odessa explains. "Thought you might be… interested." There's a breath of something that could have been derisive laughter. "You should probably have put a bullet in her. And she is not getting those fuckin' shoes back."

Sliding his tongue over his teeth, Harper reads the print out, closes his eyes, lifts a hand to rub at one temple then lowers the paper down to his desk and grabs one of the pills between two thick fingers. It goes down dry, but it's better than having his head rupture all over his desk from all of this. Pressing a tongue to the inside of his cheek, Harper closes his eyes and slouches back into his chair again, leather and springs noisily protesting the movement.

"I'm aware of where she's staying, she's Cardinal's problem now. Everything sensitive has been removed from her memory, which did unfortunately include any interactions the two of you had. I'm… not going to ask you to make an effort of keeping an eye on her, but I would appreciate it if you'd let me know if you find out she's doing anything that might endanger the Institute?"

Harper exhales a steady sigh and looks to the folder, then back up to Odessa. "Unless you have something more damning in that folder of yours."

Odessa leans back in her chair, watching Harper's reaction to the printed e-mail with something similar to grim satisfaction, with a bit more emphasis on the grim part of it. "If she sent that to me, how many more do you think she sent? How many more people has she left hints of where to find her?" She lets that particular line of questioning go, flipping the folder closed again as if to say no, nothing else. "Believe me, I feel it is in my best interests to protect the Institute's interests." It sounds like she means it, even.

"By the way…" Odessa's chin lifts, her lips curving upward at the corners. The scar across her mouth dimples in a way that makes the expression look a bit less self-satisfied and more sinister. Or perhaps that's the intent.

"Did you find her diary by any chance?"

"I don't frankly care how much trouble she brings to Richard Cardinal's door, it serves him right for taking her in. While I may have been told not to directly harm him, I'll lean back and laugh at the collateral damage that piles up as he has that psychopath at his side." There's a frown of displeasure that crosses Harper's lips before he looks back up to Odessa. "As for her diary… no. If it's in her possessions it went straight to evidence and collections, they'll be thumbing over everything we found…" Harper furrows his brows, head tilting to the side. "Is this the journal that Doctor Sheridan had her start?"

The remaining pill is considered, seriously, but ultimately all Harper can do is lift up a hand to rub at the side of his head, brows furrowed and eyes slowly shutting. "You have her diary in your purse— bag— don't you?"

Odessa actually laughs at that. "Please. Give me some credit, Agent Harper. If I managed to get Ellie Bishop's diary, I wouldn't be dumb enough to bring it here. Let alone tell you about it. I'd at least take the time to redact any damning evidence from it first."

Like seriously, what kind of fool do you take me for?

"If you do find it…" Odessa brings one shoulder up in a half-shrug. "I fed her a lot of bullshit. I'm not going to say I didn't. I said a lot of things. Like the Institute is bad, Ellie, or we should run, Ellie, or my personal favourite, Desmond Harper's just a snake, Ellie." She shoots a look across to him as if to ask him to challenge that. "But you know how it is… With someone like Ellie, you say what you need to say. I can appreciate the way you attempted to manipulate her."

And, indeed, he does earn a nod of approval. "The Institute has secured my loyalty." For now is left unspoken, but perhaps still implied. "Doctor Broome has answers I want, I owe a debt of gratitude for my timely rescue… Or resurrection… Whatever that was. And you have my interest." Odessa stretches one leg out in front of her languidly. This is totally the most normal conversation ever. Honest.

Harper's expression flattens as he reaches for the second pill, popping it in his mouth and swallowing with a dour expression. Eyes fall shut, one hand comes up to his forehead, and Harper exhales a steady stream of a sigh through his nostrils. When his hand lowers and he sits forward again, his arms lazily fold atop his desk and his shoulders slouch forward as his head hangs.

"That… reminds me of something I'd been meaning to explain to you for a while now." Harper admits with a grimace, motioning towards where Odessa stashed that pill bottle. "You might want to take one of these," is never a good way to start a conversation.

"What happened to you out at Sea View was the result of some sort of… complication between your ability and that of Doctor Darren Stevens. Now, Doctor Stevens was publicly known as a Miracle Healer at St. Luke's before he was picked up by the Institute," and Harper steps over that messy Company training stint. "But we found out on investigation that there was something that didn't add up. Stevens was emanating powerful levels of electromagnetic radiation. Enough that his ability was, ah…" There's a furrow of his brows and Harper goes silent for a moment.

"Doctor Luis called it a charging of a photon, but in layman's terms, he made things glow under a black light. You did, likely, for a few weeks after he brought you back. You see, Doctor Stevens rewinds the personal time of an individual, bringing their bodies back to an earlier state prior to their injuries. Now originally Darren did this by killing someone else to charge himself for the process, we're still not even sure how that worked."

Resting his chin on the backs of his hands, Harper's eyes dip down to the desktop's shiny surface. "We found some rats in Stevens' apartment, ones he'd been testing with. They were all dead," Harper's eyes flick up to Odessa. "We have reason to believe from Darren's testimony, that… his ability is temporary. But we don't have any indication of how temporary, because none of the cases operated on a comparable timetable."

Looking down to the desk again, Harper lowers one hand, fingernail scratching at a blemish in the glass. "Which means, we're not certain when your time will run out. Now we currently have three other known patients of Darren Stevens under watch, aside from you, and none of them have exhibited any violent revisions yet. But… the possibility is out there, that… you're living on borrowed time."

Odessa's jaw sets when Harper prefaces the start of this conversation with the suggestion that she take some prescription strength painkillers. That's really not good. Her brows furrow at the mention of her healing having been a complication, as it seems to have worked marvellously, all things considered. The white hair kind of suits her, really.

She shakes her head slowly, disbelief on her face. "That's stupid. It can't work that way. You can't rewind me. I don't — It doesn't work like that with me." Odessa isn't quite sure if Harper's fully aware of what her ability is, and she isn't about to show him her whole hand. One hand comes up to point just under her chin. Look at my face.

"I went forward. I didn't heal because he rewound me." Doctor Price's voice trembles, her brain trying to rapidly process and file away the information she's been given. She's afraid. "My body fucking detoxed itself from that. I haven't had a physical craving for morphine since Sea View." She's trying to present as much evidence as she can to contradict her own death sentence. "I can't die! I have too many questions."

"Forward, backward…" Harper shakes his head slowly, "Truth be told, we don't know how Darren's ability works, only that it seems to work only on living organic matter. Why there's a differentiation, how he's able to dial people back, or— in your case forwards, we simply don't know. Maybe in your case it won't happen, but… I'm only say this because you do deserve to know." Harper's eyes angle down to his desk, looking at where he's still scraping at a chip in the glass with his fingernail.

"It might be temporary, is all I'm warning you about. If it happens, we'll come to that as we can. We've never seen it happen before, so there's no telling exactly how it might go down. What we do know is that Darren is able to rewind a fantastically long period of time, though he does have upper limitations, even while augmented. Your case was unique, but…"

Harper takes in a deep breath, then exhales a steady sigh. "Just consider that there may be a possibility of you having an unexpected series of injuries return to you. It's not a certainty, but nothing in this world is these days."

Odessa lifts her hands, her face screwed up small with frustration. With a quiet growl, she opens her fists up in front of her, fingers splaying wide and holding still time around her. She rises from the chair slowly and begins to pace, dragging her fingers through her hair. Harper has to be wrong about this.

The silver purse is dragged up off the floor and settled in the chair so Odessa can root through it for that pill bottle. Three pills are shaken out and swallowed down in one dry gulp.

"Fuck my life," she says to the still room, tossing the recapped bottle back into her purse with a noisy rattle. She wanders from the desk, to the door, to the opposite wall, tugging at her hair fretfully. When time resumes again for Desmond Harper, Odessa is standing in front of the window, her blank but haunted look muted and mirrored in the pane.

"I want access to Amp," she murmurs without looking over her shoulder. "The good stuff. Is that going to be a problem?"

"Amp?" One of Harper's brows slowly rises as he finally looks at Odessa — really looks at her — for the first time in all of this. "Amphodynamine is a highly restricted chemical to have access to, especially in untested cases. We don't know what a dose of the drug would do to your ability, let alone anyone else around you. For all we know putting Amphodynamine in your system could result in an acceleration of whatever it is that decays with Darren's power."

Shaking his head slowly, Harper's answer is telegraphed. "I can't authorize access to it for recreational use. On top of everything else, with your history do you really want to expose yourself to another addictive drug?"

"I'm not interested in it for recreational reasons, Agent Harper." And the resentment in Odessa's tone is thick at the implication. "What if…" A sigh escapes her lips and she rubs at the side of her face with one hand. "What if I agree to supervision from another physician? I want to know what I'm capable of. And if I'm on borrowed time…"

Odessa's tongue darts between her lips, her look pensive. "I maybe don't have five, ten, or fifteen years to grow with it." She turns around, her look imploring. Not quite a pout. "Think about it, at least? Think about what I can offer this organisation if I can… maximise my potential."

"We're talking about potentially putting your life at risk for the sake of satisfying your curiosity." Harper doesn't sound entirely unconvinced, though, and the worst part is he doesn't sound like he's entirely unconvinced of how his superiors and colleagues will feel either. "Alright," he offers in a hushed tone of resignation, "here's how it's going to go. I'll bring it up and see how the offer is received. It may be on a trial basis but— don't get your hopes up."

Harper looks up from the chip in his desk and back to Odessa, then down to the chip again, head shaking slowly from side to side. "For now, just try and realize that this is your second chance at life. Not a shortening. Most people don't even get that much. Think about what put you where we found you, the choices you made to get there… and try and think about what you want to make your legacy with the life you have left."

"Don't do what Elle Bishop did," Harper adds, almost as an afterthought. An admittedly regretful afterthought.

"You've never asked me what put me there," Odessa remarks conversationally. "Nobody has." Slowly, she crosses back to the chair to begin retrieving her purse and the folder she took the copy of Elle's e-mail from. "Is it because you already know, or you don't care? I'm just… curious." Her gaze flicks up once, but doesn't linger. She's trying to find a way to slide the folder into the confines of the bag without creasing it.

"Would you give me a straight answer?" is Harper's immediate response, one brow lifted slowly. "Because your psyche profile says otherwise. Unlike the people I deal with every day, I don't like to waste my time asking questions I know I'll never get an answer to." Leaning back in his chair, Harper lifts one brow in challenge.

Prove me wrong.

The challenge is met with a slow grin. Odessa lifts her head and shifts the necessary couple paces to rest her palms on Harper's desk, leaning forward a little bit. "Tell you what. Come to my apartment tonight. We'll order whatever you want for dinner, and I'll tell you all about it over drinks." She raises up again and smirks. "It just has the potential to be a long, complicated story, you see. I'm pretty sure you sing showtunes in the shower, so don't get the wrong impression."

Odessa gathers up her things finally and heads for the door. She pauses there, with her fingers wrapped around the handle. Her head dips forward, stark white hair veiling her face and somehow giving her a darker quality when combined with the wicked curve of her lips. "I trust you're already familiar with a woman named Eileen Ruskin."

"Lady," Harper admits with a raise of one brow, "what happens between me, my shower, and the works of Jonathan Larson is entirely private." There's a crack of a smile spreading across Harper's lips as his brows lift and shoulders rise and fall. "But I think you just earned yourself a private audience." Glancing down to the chip on his desk with a furrow of his brows, Harper offers Odessa a subtle nod.

"I'll be there."

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