Confrontational Therapy


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Scene Title Confrontational Therapy
Synopsis Though very little is therapeutic about it, there's still plenty of confrontation.
Date March 2, 2011

Fort Hero: Bella Sheridan's Office

To be quite honest, Bella still feels a little grimy from the Dome. The accretion of smog upon its upper curve serves, in memory, as a psychic metaphor for the griminess gathered from so many days without showering - water conservation is first priority in any rationing situation. She's pretty much squeaky clean at this point, her showers immediately after escaping the auspices of the Dome becoming much longer, but there remains an urge to scratch at herself, as is responding to some lingering rash. Really it's just the weather, the dry air, her sky drying in turn, but it's the sense of lingering grime that haunts her, latching onto any symptom that arises.

Fort Hero does not hold fond memories for Bella, either, but any change of setting after the Suresh Center is a-okay by her. Again, her office is transitory, utterly bland and unadorned, with empty file cabinet and computer lacking all real data. That's also a-okay by Bella, who has little interest in doing her work. She's worked a year's worth in these last couple weeks. At least that's her opinion.

As in the the fading days of the Company, when she sought refuge from the brutal winter-in-summer of last year, Bella has opted for a scrubby appearance. Sweat pants, t-shirt, a lab coat only to make it easier to ignore her lack of professional attire. Something about this place makes her want to sink out of view. To go unnoticed.

To pass the time, she's walking the city streets via Google Earth, seeing what buildings remain in the virtual space that are no longer standing in the city Out There. Click click click, she walks her virtual eye through a virtual space, a city that is no more. Wishing she could turn the clock back and forth and watch the city rise and fall. The sense of mastery might be reassuring.

Power over time itself seems like it would be.

It's been the better part of a week now since Odessa Price had her ability taken from her. After taking that day off (so she will say), she's been back at work. And pointedly avoiding anybody. It isn't like her to keep so much to herself. Even if she isn't one for water cooler conversation, she's at least a presence.

Instead, she's spent a lot of time equipping her office, and her lab space. No more seeing patients at the Suresh Center like she's some sort of civilian doctor.

It's given her plenty of time to brood, and to think about who's to blame for her situation.

Because it obviously isn't herself.

The woman who throws open the door to Bella Sheridan's office doesn't resemble Odessa except in body. The effect of her appearance is entirely monochrome. Her long white hair has been pulled up into a tight ponytail, her bangs brushing against a matte black, unadorned eye patch. A white button-down dress shirt is worn under a black vest, with slacks to match. Even the sling her injured right arm is tucked into is black, trimmed in white. On her feet are black ballet flats.

One of Odessa's fingers jabs out accusingly. "Sheridan, you bitch! I trusted you!" The book she had been clutching tightly against her body with her useless arm is transferred to her good hand, and then heaved at Bella. Should she take the time to retrieve it after it hits her, or goes sailing wide, she'll find it's the one she gifted to the younger doctor some time ago.

Bella was just appreciating the grand façade of Saint Patrick's Cathedral - no more, alas, no more - added from archived images from before the Bomb itself. They built a ghost city, Bella thinks, they built a-

This is when Margaret Atwood makes contact with the side of her head. The hardcover book hurts, causing a temporary ringing in Dr. Sheridan's ear as she reels in her seat, hand rising up to clap over that side of her face, other arm rising up in instinctive - if ineffective – defense.

"Motherfucker!" emerges from Bella's lips with a concussive force that is not usual for her, even when she's in a funk or furor. Her pale blue eyes cut over to find what must be her dear friend's awful, conservatively dressed twin. Because this cannot be Odessa because no part of what's going on makes sense if it actually is Odessa. Still… what else to call her?

"Odessa, Jesus that really hurt, what the hell were you doing?" Bella tries to keep her voice in a register that is more sympathy-inducing than angry, but the pain runs lines of tension through her voice that hum at a low, seething frequency.

"How could you?!" Odessa demands and repeats, "I trusted you!" The door slams shut again, this time behind her as she storms into the office proper. "No one else knew! You're the only one who could have told them!" Clearly she's firm in her conviction that Bella told them, being as how she doesn't actually elaborate on who they are, or what they were told, precisely.

Yes, it's these missing nouns that bother her. The things known, the people told. Bella is not so practiced at treachery that there is ever even a moment of doubt - a 'is this an exam I forgot to study for?' moment; she is instantly shocked, instantly mortified, and instantly affronted. Her face is a perfect mask of wounded surprise, Teflon for guilt or responsibility.

At least, it's tended to work so far.

"Odessa, please!" the redhead says, slowly shifting in her seat, turning in the office chair to face this low heeled doppleganger that has accosted her - she is still rubbing her ear, which is rimmed red from the impact, "I don't have any idea what you're talking about!"

"Liar!" Odessa stomps her feet as she comes to stand in front of Bella's desk, secretly madder about the lack of impressive sound from the soft-soled shoes than much else. "That son of a bitch said I was being monitored. I never said anything incriminating to anybody, except you!"

She's screaming. Shrieking. Furious. And Odessa is crying. "He took my ability, Bella!"

"Woah, woah," Bella says, turning again in her seat, swiveling it to face Odessa and lifting her hands to ward off the verbal ordinance lobbed her way. It soon becomes clear, too, that she is a secondary target. There is not just a 'they', but a 'he'.

"Odessa- I promise you, I have not and would never say or do anything to put you in harm's way. You are my friend - one of the only one's I've got; can you imagine how I'd survive in this hellhole," she gestures around at the florescent-lit space, just one in a vast catacomb of such spaces, "in this organization without you?"

Bella would smile now, would try to add some honey to help overcome the bitterness, but Odessa's last proclamation - and the emotion with which it's delivered - preclude anything light-hearted. Bella has seen Odessa's pride in her power. She can hardly imagine what this must be like for her.

"How? Why? On what possible grounds?" now she's hitching a ride on Odessa's outrage. Enemy of your enemy, your friend! "Who did this, 'Dessa?"

"I don't even know who he was! When I called him sir, he called me prescient!" That she recalls the exact word even surprises Odessa. But an event so traumatic is inevitably burned into her mind. "He was FRONTLINE. The Institute's private unit. He— He said I was going to turn traitor. He said it like someone told him that."

Which brings them back around to Bella being the only one Odessa figures could have done this. "What'd they do? Offer you more money? Or did they just threaten to kill you if you didn't tell them everything I've said to you?"

"Odessa," Bella says again, using the woman's name like a watchword, trying to remind her who she is, and thus who she is in relation to Bella, "I had nothing to do with this, I promise. I never- I know you've told me things that could raise their suspicion but- but I swear, Odessa, I would never, ever do that to you." Her brows knit, pitifully. "I need you to believe me, desperately. And- and you need to believe me as well because- because God knows you need me at a time like this."

The white-haired woman had started to soften. Her shoulders had begun to relax, her fingers uncurl from the fists formed at her sides. Her posture was markedly less rigid, and the tears were blinking away. But the last sentence has Odessa tensing all over again. "I don't need you!" she shouts, as though the volume of her insistence will make it so. "I don't need anybody!"

Bella recognizes a misstep when she makes one. She'd be a doctor worth shit if she couldn't identify a nerve when she touches one. There's an immediate easing back, and softening of her tone, a loss of emphasis. Taking the pressure off. "Okay," she says, "but I need you, 'Dessa, and nothing could compel me to jeopardize that. I swear to you. Please just… just sit down and can we talk about what's happened?"

"No!" At this point, Odessa seems to resemble a petulant toddler, about to throw her toys around. (She already did, if The Robber Bride is any example.) "Talking to you is what got me into this mess in the first place! Do you really expect me to believe that you care about our so-called friendship? That it isn't all just some lie?"

Bella nods, steadily, eyes set on Odessa's own, relying upon her earnest and insistence in the face of the other woman's simple refusal. "I don't know that I expect, but I really, truly hope. Because I do care. Because it's not a lie. I promise." She leans forward, hand sliding across the desk towards Odessa, crossing some of the space between them. "Please," and now the pleading has re-entered her voice, "I don't know what I'll do if you say no."

"Go to hell, Sheridan." Odessa turns on her (decidedly, and woefully flat) heels and stalks toward the door again. All anger, and sadness. That she isn't staying to try and murder the psychiatrist in perceived retaliation is telling if Bella knows anything at all about Odessa's propensities. Maybe once she has time to think, she'll be back. Maybe. She reaches for the door to tug it open and grant herself admittance again to the hall outside.

Bella is left to stare at the door swinging shut, a closing shutter on the aperture through which her friend's back is disappearing. She doesn't give chase, and it's not for fear of her life - it's part of her personal delusion that she can't imagine Odessa trying to harm her. There is an madness to optimism, an open invitation to cruel irony. Bella sets the tips of her fingers to the edge of the keyboard, eyes descending to where her nails touch black plastic. She pushes the keyboard back, revealing the patch of leather beneath. Folding her arms before her, she settles her head, face down, eyes closing in the shade she casts for herself. Her back straightens as the chair wheels out under her. Pausing the moment she reaches equilibrium.

Stays there.

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