Decide What You Love


odessa_icon.gif susan_icon.gif

Scene Title Decide What You Love
Synopsis Susan pays Odessa a visit.
Date August 6, 2010

Gun Hill

Odessa Price's Apartment

A pair of chopsticks pluck a piece of pan-fried pork from a box saturated in grease and maneuvers the morsel into Susan's mouth. She chews with her mouth closed, saying nothing, and not because it would be impolite to do otherwise. Fine brows of red-gold are knit into a solemn expression above blue eyes dark with an emotion that could be mistaken for remorse if the woman sitting across from her at the table didn't know better.

As far as offerings go, the spread of Chinese food in front of Odessa Knutson is far from meager, but this is something the doctor has become accustomed to during her time with both the Vanguard and the Ferry. If there's one thing that can be said for her caretakers, it's that they've never threatened to let her go hungry.

"Try the duck," Susan suggests.

A furtive glance is perhaps the only token resistance before Odessa is dishing a helping of duck into a Styrofoam bowl with her chopsticks. The utensils are stuck into the food to free up a hand to shoo away the inquisitive squash-faced calico that thought Susan's suggestion extended to her as well.

"'Inger! Off the table." The cat's front paws are nudged off the surface. Although Odessa is vocally discouraging the behaviour, she all but rewards it by dropping a pea pod on the floor for the cat to greedily gobble up. At least she scampers off to the bedroom to do it, leaving the women to their meal for now.

"Subtlety takes time," Odessa murmurs, addressing a question that hasn't actually been asked yet.

"I couldn't afford to wait any longer," carries a note of apology that Odessa might not have been expecting. Susan tilts a glance sideways in the direction of the darkened bedroom and rubs her thumb up and down the length of one chopstick, contemplative and uneasy. Her cellphone sits on table next to the steamed rice, its screen blank, the battery removed.

It's not that she doesn't trust Hana Gitelman. It's just that there are things Hana Gitelman isn't supposed to know. "Damon and Clark are dead. The boys. I told the council that they're down in Mexico working out a deal with one of the cartels and made sure the local authorities couldn't identify the bodies, but I want to know who did it. It couldn't have been her."

The heaviness of the conversation is almost enough to make a girl lose her appetite. Odessa doesn't retrieve her chopsticks to dig into her meal as such. Instead, she leans back in her chair, crossing one arm under her chest for want of somewhere else to drape it. "You think it was someone affiliated with her?" She tucks a lock of platinum behind one ear, sucking in a slow breath.

"I can still do it, you know. I just… Need a different method. I'm working on it. I'm burning the candle at both ends for this, I assure you." If Odessa keeps up this way, she may end up prematurely aging herself. As it stands, she looks exhausted. Each time she blinks, she gives the impression that her eyelids are made of lead. Terribly heavy.

"No." Although there might not be much conviction behind that tersely-spoken word, there isn't any hesitation either. Susan twirls noodles around the tips of her chopsticks but does not steer them toward her mouth or even lift them from the box. It, along with the rice, the duck, the spring rolls and even the shrimp tossed in bamboo shoots, will keep. She runs her tongue over her front teeth to dislodge a savory thread of meat caught between them and closes the lid.

"Abigail already has suspicions, and I'd be surprised if she hasn't shared them."

"Suspicions, but nothing to back them up," Odessa reasons. "Though there is a certain tendency to blindly follow her hunches." Her lips purse and she leans forward toward Susan. "I can finish this. Or don't you believe in all the things you told me anymore? You said we were doing the right thing. Shouldn't we see it through to the end?"

"Evidence can be procured," Susan reminds Odessa. "Kaylee is a telepath, and with her connections I don't doubt that she can get access to a psychometer or something similarly damning." She sets the box down on the table, chopsticks and all, and interwines her fingers, pausing to adjust the wedding band beneath the knuckle of her ring finger. "My seat is worth more than this. If I don't hold it, I won't have the vote, and without the vote I haven't got any power. There are others on the council who feel the same way I do, but not enough."

Odessa's lips purse, and her eyes narrow. "You're prepared to throw me under the bus for this, aren't you? So you can keep your seat." She rises from her chair and crosses from the table and to the refrigerator. She pours a glass of iced tea from a pretty glass pitcher, replacing it before procuring a bottle of water for herself.

The set of Odessa's jaw as she twists off the cap and sets it aside speaks of her uneasiness and the anger coiling in her stomach. "You may have come up with the plan, but I came up with the means," she reminds. Somehow simultaneously sweet and terse in equal measure. She sets the glass in front of Susan before retaking her seat, crossing one leg over the other and smiling thinly after a sip of water.


Susan raises her hand, universal gesture for no, but thank you. "If I was prepared to throw you under the bus," she says, "then we wouldn't be having this conversation. No one would believe that you were acting alone, least of all Abigail. If we stop now, you keep your clinic, I keep my seat, and maybe we'll both get lucky and she'll get hit by that bus the next time she tries crossing the street."

"I think you overestimate how highly people think of me around here. Eric Doyle would be the first to stand up and tell everyone that I can do bad things all on my own." Odessa smiles wryly and takes another sip of her water. "Regardless, I won't give up your involvement if it comes to that. Someone has to be in place to suggest I not be strung up, after all."

Finally, the blonde begins to dig into her food. "So, what are you suggesting we do now? Abandon the plan as though nobody ever tried anything?" Odessa falls silent to eat her food and give Susan a chance to talk.

Susan rests her chin on the back of her hand, knuckles fit along the curve of her jaw and blows a slow sigh through her nostrils. The thought process happening behind her eyes translates to a purse of her lips and tension in her chin as she rolls her tongue against the inside of her cheek. Her other hand she lays flat on the table's surface, studying the way the light plays off her manicured fingernails and seems to make them shimmer like pearls.

"You know that even if we'd succeeded, it wouldn't have guaranteed anything. Not for you."

"But you certainly tried to paint a pretty picture to suggest otherwise when you came to me, didn't you?" Odessa's tone stays conversational, though there's perhaps a small undercurrent of discontent there. "I'll be gone before too long, Susan. If you want me to see this through… They won't be able to find me to question me. No ties back to you. Just exactly the outcome you were hoping for, non?" Dark blonde brows lift toward the bangs she's been growing out. Just a little too long to wear as she had been, a little too short to pull back into a ponytail. "You may have cold feet, but I don't. I'll leave a note. Proudly take all the credit. But you need to do something for me."

There's a flicker of something in Susan's eyes before she raises them to Odessa's face. "The network needs you, Odessa," she says. "We only have a handful of operatives with any real medical knowledge, and there could be another outbreak of H5N10. Look around you." Tempting though it is to draw her attention to the apartment around her with a sweep of her hand, she keeps it where it is. Her fingers on the table curl into a loose fist, pieces of hermit crab withdrawing into a fat white shell. "Whatever you want me to do, I'll do it — but stay. There doesn't have to be a note. No one has to take any credit."

"There are some protections you can't offer me," Odessa says cryptically. "What this organisation doesn't need is extra government attention. I don't think you can deflect all of it, can you?" She takes another mouthful of food, chews and swallows, giving herself time to think. "I have it on good authority that there will be agents of the government coming to find me. And I doubt very much they're with the FBI."

"We hid Liette Fournier and her mother from the Institute," Susan says, "and hundreds more from Homeland Security before that. If they haven't been able to figure out where we're keeping the girl, a target so valuable that they were willing to launch an attack on the network's armory just to get her back, they aren't going to devote the resources required to find you."

Odessa stares down at the table, unsure of how to explain the gravity of the situation as she sees it. "I'll stay as long as I feel it's safe to," she offers grudgingly. "But if it comes down to it, I'll leave rather than risk this safehouse. How does that strike you?"

Susan must be satisfied, because only a few stilted moments of silence pass before she prompts, "What do you need me to do?"

"I need access to an X-ray machine at the least. Ideally I'd like access to an MRI machine, but I'll take what I can get. I need to examine people who've been taken by the Company in the past." Odessa answers with no hesitation. "I don't want to say more than that, lest I get hopes up."

"One of our operatives used to work as a nurse at St. Luke's before she took employment with the Suresh Center," Susan tells Odessa. She picks up her phone, without turning it back on, and tucks it into the red leather purse hanging off the back of her chair at the table. "If that fails, there are a few favours I can probably still call in. How long do you need access for?"

"As long as you can give me, but I can make the most of whatever time you can get. I'd just break into the hospital and do it myself, but there's always some sort of digital trail left behind, and I'll need help covering that up. Depending upon how quickly I can gather my patients, I may need access more than once. But if you can even just give me a window of a few minutes, I can make that work." If anyone can, it's Odessa.

"An hour is the absolute most I can promise." Hefting her purse, Susan rises from table, runs fingers through her tousled hair and tucks the most unruly strands behind one ear, a diamond winking at its lobe. "I won't try to stop you if you decide to follow through with this, but I want you to know that if you get caught, being strung up is probably going to be the least of your concerns if he's as attached as you say."

Dark blue eyes track Susan's movements, her platinum head bobs in a nod. "You aren't wrong," Odessa murmurs quietly. "I'll keep my plans to myself. Easier to shield you that way." And it seems that Doctor Price is concerned about shielding Susan. She scoffs quietly and examines her nails. "If I thought he was particularly given to romance, I'd say he'd find the situation uniquely romantic." And it's clear the very idea churns her stomach.

Odessa rises from her seat and offers her hand to Susan. "Good to see you, as always. Be careful out there."

Susan takes Odessa's hand for the time it takes her to give it a firm squeeze, betraying her sincerity, before she pulls away and turns to show the other woman her the slope of her shoulder, then her back. Heels click across the floor. "Decide what you love more, Odessa. Sylar or your ability. You can't have both."

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