odessa3_icon.gif ruiz2_icon.gif

Scene Title Dess
Synopsis In making her escape from the Commonwealth Arcology, Odessa's trend of reunions continues, and she discovers her new limits.
Date November 8, 2011

The Commonwealth Arcology, A-Ring


It's a long shot, and Odessa knows it. But she's running out of —

Well, she isn't necessarily. But a funny thing happened as Odessa began working her restored brand of evolutionary magic on the uncontrolled power on the reactor level. She felt the sands of time - her sands, her time - slipping away.

Darren Stevens left her with a parting shot.

With the blast doors having been closed behind the fleeing members of the Deveaux Group, Doctor Luis, and the precognitive Tamara Brooks, to contain the blast that is to follow, Odessa Price has been left with very few options for escape. But someone owes her a favor, and she needs a damn cell signal to phone it in.

And since she's headed topside anyway, she may as well collect her favorite mystery, if he's there to be collected. The carnage in the hallways doesn't cause her to flinch. Sometimes it feels as though she's seen it all at this point, and she's on a mission.


When the alarm started to go off, A-Ring, which had already been chaotic, turned even more so. Those who did not get out of their rooms at the gunfire did now, trying to make for any exit that they could. Most of the automated defenses had already been taken down by the Ferry on their way through, but bodies litter the hallways of the resident quarters. Blood smears on the walls, on the floors, as people tried to drag themselves to some kind of safety.

Odessa Price knows the room she wants from the file. She has a good memory when it comes to curious cases. Down his hall especially there is destruction. A dead blond woman lays with her neck shattered by a bullet against one wall. Many guards, who had just been doing their job with no idea what the Arc had been about, laid here and there what were once clean, white, sanitized halls.

And there's a trail of blood going that way. A trail of blood going into the door.

Mateo Javier Ruiz had made his stand with a borrowed gun, but even a caged animal crawls back to the only place they'd called home for months for shelter when injured. Leaning against the wall of his too small apartment, he has his eyes closed, as if he's waiting for the explosion. Blood drenches his shirt from two holes, a third in his leg. Blood has been smeared across his face from his hands, after he did his best to try and stop it.


It turns out it's her lucky day. Ruiz's too, maybe. Considering.

Odessa steps over the broken bodies of her fellow Institute employees. Over the blonde woman she's almost certain she recognizes from an old Company file. (That one unnerves her a little bit.) She follows the trail of blood to —

"Fancy meeting you here," isn't much of a greeting, but it's delivered smoothly, and Odessa's never had much for bedside manner anyway. She hurries over to where he sits on the floor, kneeling down next to him and slinging a satchel off her shoulder. "All right, Ruiz. Let's get you ready to move." Without waiting for permission, she's grabbing the front of his shirt and tearing it open so she can get a look at him. If she's panicking at all, she doesn't let it show on her face.

"Dess," he whispers quietly as she seemingly appears in front of him. Well, no, she didn't just appear, but he may have been blacked out for a moment. "I knew if anyone found me it'd be you," he adds, even as she rips open his shirt. As a doctor she can see immediately that one shot isn't bad. It went all the way through— but the second. That bullet's inside. And the placement…

It's amazing he's lasted as long as he has. "Don't really have time for taking clothes off," he mutters, as if not quite understanding why she's tearing open his shirt, or perhaps he just doesn't care and finds it funny. Some people want to go out on a laugh.

In all, he looks very bad. Not moving him might kill him, moving him definitely will.


Odessa's lips draw into a thin line as she stares at the bullet wounds, leaning in to reach around to his back so she can feel for the exit wounds. Her chest presses against his shoulder and she lets out a huff that could have been a laugh at his little joke. "Yes, well. If you know me, and I know you do, you know we have all the time in the world, don't we?"

He's not surprised to see her like this. With her face intact. She swallows a hard lump in her throat. "I'm not letting you die," she tells him sternly. This connection she feels with him is impossible, inexplicable, but she feels it as sure as she feels the flow of time around them. And their time is running out.

She has to make a decision.

The gunfire as she ran through B-wing was horrific. It echoed through the tunnels where the Ferrymen had poured in, and now presumably are pouring out. There is so much death in this place. Death she contributed to with the research she began nearly five years ago, if the carnage in the laboratories is anything to go by. The promises she's made to herself to undo the wrong she's done… Maybe she can start with him.

"Ruiz," she says firmly, "stay with me. I'm here, okay? It's me, I'm here."

One moment he's bleeding out there in his room, and the next he's stitched and patched up. The lingering drowsiness he feels could be from blood loss, or the local anesthetic. Odessa lays on the floor in front of him, trembling with exhaustion. With fear. Her hands are covered in blood, smears of it on her clothing where she wiped the slickness away. It colors her temples and jaw where she pushed her hair back as she worked to save him.

The bullet lays in her palm. How much of her life did she just give to this stranger on a feeling?

All the time in the world.

The world doesn't seem to have a lot of time left.

While she's able to get him patched up, hastily even with time on her side, there's so much that she's lacking for a proper surgery. Ruiz had been bleeding too long, the damage may have been too much. She may be able to toy with time, but unlike some, she can't turn it back completely. A simple extraction might not have cut it, but when he catches up to her, he looks at her a little different.

"You're not here," he mutters, even as he tries to move, grimacing. "But you look like her, no more space pirate." He tries to laugh, but it ends up a cough, one with blood spittle in his mouth. "Should go. Sounds like the end of the world."


For a long moment, it's all Odessa can do just to breath. Her chest rises and falls heavily. Maybe she'll just lie here with this stranger and let it all catch up to her. After what she did — wittingly or not — to Darren, it's the least she deserves.

"Fuck that," Odessa hisses out, but it's weak. After what she's given up, she won't leave him now. She pushes herself to her hands and knees, crawls over to lean against him and the wall. "Who are we?" she asks him. It's a vague question, but incredibly specific all at once.

One shaky hand withdraws a flip phone from her discarded satchel, near enough that she doesn't need to move away from him. She punches four numbers into the recipient field of a text message. Her thumbs move fast over the phone's keyboard - it's all muscle memory at this point.

To: 2263
E Elec. I need a ride.

It's a favor she's waited nearly two years to call in.

While she moves away, Ruiz pushes himself up, which probably doesn't do much good for his current situation, but she's texting someone. "So stubborn," he mutters, but without real surprise, putting a bloody hand on the bookshelf. It's been long enough that he's no longer smearing blood everywhere at least, but there's still enough blood to go around. Far, far too much. He grasps something from his small bookshelf, which doesn't have very many books upon it. A small handful. They didn't take his books even after he used one to hide a weapon. They just searched them.

Multiple times.

He could have been moved to worse conditions, they tried to remind him. His room might seem small, but it's a very big cell.

Grasping one of the books, he looks back at her. The movement shows he's having difficulty breathing, but that's expected with his injury. He's trying to move, which is better than laying there. "Always stubborn."


"Well, you know me…" Odessa murmurs, face twisting with a grimace of pain as she finally drags herself to her feet. Her legs are shaky and she has to brace her free hand on the wall to catch herself.

Her eyes are wide as she looks on him, glances to the book in his hand, then back up to his face. "Who are you?" she begs.


A tall man with light brown hair suddenly appears in the room. His athletic build is disguised by a long black greatcoat, hastily buttoned if the holes mismatched to buttons is any indication. "What the hell do you call this?"


Odessa is unsurprised by their sudden visitor. "I call it paying back that favor you owe me. Get us out of here." She drops her phone and makes her limping way to Ruiz's side. Elias de Luca is quick to join them, reaching to grasp their shoulders.

There's a moment when Ruiz looks at her that he might have attempted to explain even with «WARNING: REACTOR AT CRITICAL. EVACUATE ALL PERSONNEL.» blaring around them, but then there's that sudden Pop and he looks over. "Teleporter… good call. Maybe we'll survive this after all," he responds quietly, apparently having the first hint of hope since he got shot three times and didn't think he could keep up with those who had no doubt came to liberate the mice in the ship's hold. But a teleporter, well.

That's another story.

He doesn't even wait for a warning, deciding to close his eyes. He just hopes this teleportation isn't as difficult on the body as some of them can be. From the clamminess to his skin, he's still not doing too well.

Odessa's fingers grasp Ruiz's arm in preparation for their sudden departure. It's Eagle Electric all over again.


It's like a tug at the core of their chests and leaves their heads swimming like they've stood up too fast when they reappear. When they open their eyes, they're surrounded by the dark brick walls of buildings, a chain link fence at their backs and the way out to the street ahead. An alleyway.

"Last stop, New York City. Everybody off." Elias lets go of his passengers and steps away. "We good?" he asks Odessa, somewhat tersely. "I'm missing beach volleyball for this. — Well, I'm spectating. It's the women playing. Just ordered a drink and everything."

The restored temporal manipulator stares in disbelief at her once companion. "Yeah," she says shakily. "We're good."

"Good. Lose my number." And with one last pop!, Elias de Luca is gone again from Odessa Knutson Price's life. This time maybe for good.

With their distraction gone, Odessa clutches at Ruiz again, starting at his shoulders and then moving to rest her hands on either side of his face, searching for something. Making sure he's whole. "See? I told you." Her eyes light up as she smiles at him, delighted at their escape.

"We need to get you to… To a hospital." She taps the badge on the lapel of her lab coat, identifying her as Doctor Odessa Price with the Department of Evolved Affairs. "I'll requisition space. Get you patched up properly." Her fingers are not precise surgical instruments, as careful as she is. This is not her finest work, and he needs more care than her triage could provide.

It's easy to tell that they're in New York City by the looks of things, dropped off in the middle of an alley that the teleporter probably knew was a quick 'go there, no one's ever there' area. And no one is there where they land, as Ruiz clutches to her as his body reorients to this new place in space-time. They're both a limping, bloody mess.

And after the pop of the teleporter leaves them they have a chance to realize that they've left one chaos for another.

The power is out.

In a city this big, that alone causes enough chaos— but what they didn't see caused the rest. Something very big, very bad happened in New York while they all nearly died under Cambridge.

And before they can even begin to get two steps to investigate, Ruiz lets out another bloody cough and falls to his knees, dropping the book he'd retrieved.

Blue eyes scan the streets wildly. It's too dark. How is it so dark? There should be— Odessa looks up the walls of the buildings, too void of graffiti to be abandoned, but every single window is dark. What the hell happened here?

Then another cough, and he starts to fall away from her. Odessa gasps sharply, "No!" Drops to her knees with him, again holding his face, thumbs brushing the blood away from his lips. "No… Oh God, no." How much time does she have left? She could put him in a stasis, but it wouldn't get him where they need to go. Would there be anything for them there in all this chaos?

She let Elias slip away too soon, and her phone is laying on the floor of Ruiz's cell in the Commonwealth Arcology. If there's anything left of it by now.

"Ruiz! Stay with me, honey." The words slip out of her mouth like they were meant to be on her tongue. Has she ever called anyone honey in her life without it being teasing or condescending? "It's gonna be okay, just stay with me. Look at me and stay awake."

For the second time in this hellish day, tears begin to well up in the woman's eyes and slide down her cheeks, mingling with blood smeared on her cheekbones, streaking pink down to her chin. "I'm here," she whispers desperately.

Darkness, chaos. Sounds like home.

Ruiz fights for each breath as she brushes the blood off his lips, slumping forward into her hands because— he might have just been about to fall over if she hadn't grabbed him. At least she can keep him mostly upright, as he opens his eyes, looks at her again.


It's soft, rough, hoarse, but she recognizes it. It had been on his file. Bella Sheridan had been the one to get his name out of him, in the end. She'd probably noticed that, too.

He whispers quietly, in another language. One she can only muddle a little meaning from. Something about a garden.

Each breath comes more difficult, but he's trying to use them. "Didn't— didn't mean to leave. Her. Wish … could tell her."

"Jardin," she repeats in French, because it's all she has. "Quel jardin?" A fist clutches at Odessa's heart and she cannot fathom why. But he knows her. He knows her and he didn't recoil from her, and she can't even say that about Eric Doyle 100% of the time. A strangled sob escapes her throat, betrays her fear. "Mateo." His given name. In those three syllables, she understands what his 'Dess means to him.

She couldn't do enough. But she can do this much for him.

"I know," she whispers, voice hitching as she fights back another treacherous sob. "I love you." Because in some other place or some other time, Odessa knows in her heart that she does. She presses a kiss against the corner of his mouth, tastes the blood there and doesn't care. If she can give him this last comfort, then she can say she did something good today. But that, too, is not enough.

"I know," he whispers right back, after she kisses him, breath lingering as a kiss on her lips as he pushes, trying to stay upright. Mateo's failing at that— she's pretty much the only thing keeping him from slumping to the alleyway. But she is there, she holds him. And that's enough. "Had to save her, even if…" he doesn't get to explain, as his hand grips on hers, his eyes shutting against the pain that shoots through him. They always said it was supposed to be painless, like shock would do it, but no— there's pain. He shudders another inhale in.

"You… save— "

He doesn't get to finish that. Cause at the exhale, what little energy he had fades, and then she really is the only thing keeping him upright.


Moments of stunned silence follow that last breath. The sobs come, but with long seconds of silence in between, so wracked with loss she can't even make the sound. Can't even breathe. She lays him out on the ground so, so carefully, hands still caressing his face. He's still warm. No, he's just still.

For the first time in her life, Odessa lets a cry of absolute anguish tear from her throat and lets it echo through the world without hiding it in a moment of time. Sylar had told her once that he knew she screamed in places where no one can hear it. Except for him.

Well, now she doesn't care who hears.

The woman crumples and sobs against the man's chest, clutching tightly to his broken body. Narrow shoulders heave with the force of the emotion that grips her body. This is her greatest failure. Doctor Knutson doesn't lose patients.

There's a first time for everything.

After minutes, the sobs finally subside to rasping breaths, deep and even. There is one more thing she can do. In her bones, she can feel the pull of time, and she knows now that she can do what she has never been able to before: She can push back.

Odessa draws herself back up to sit, her boots scraping against the dirt and concrete beneath her. She wipes the tears from her face, smears the tracks in the blood. It feels like putting on her war paint for what's about to come. After a deep breath, green fire blazes in her eyes and dances on the ends of her fingertips. She didn't just steal Darren Stevens' life — she stole his soul. It astonishes her how innately this comes to her, and she watches with curiosity and terrible fascination as the radiant energy crackles between her knuckles and the tips of her fingers, sparks off her nails. She thought this would be harder to summon.

Trembling, she once again reaches her hands towards his face…

And stops just short. The flames gutter out, the light in her eyes disappearing like a candle blown out. No. This would not be a kindness. She cannot bring him back just to doom him to experience this all over again. Even if she could be sure she was there, that she could treat him properly… It isn't right. She'll leave him this dignity.

"I am sorry, Mateo. Je t'aime de tout mon coeur, but I cannot give you this." In the end, she's too pragmatic to give all that she is to him for another version of herself who may never be able to appreciate what she's done. It feels like selfishness and it churns her stomach. The guilt of it gnaws at her very core and threatens to start her tears again.

Her eyes roam the expanse of the alley, the shock of everything she's endured in the last hour settling in finally. She finds the book. Why was it so important to him that he took it from the shelf and brought it along with them? Odessa leans over his body to retrieve it and examine the cover.

There's a moment when all of time is at her fingertips, but in the form of that delicate, flickering flame, that could be snuffed out at any moment. It lit the alley, lit his face, but when it fades, there's only darkness, shadows and blood. She couldn't save him, not the way she might have wanted. But she did save him in another way.

Mateo Javier Ruiz should have died, buried beneath Cambridge. Unknown, unnamed, unloved. And so very far from home.

The only thing left is that one book. A faded green cover, smeared with blood, can still be read in the shadows.

Jorge Luis Borges. Ficciones. Buenis Aires.

A rueful smile twists at Odessa's lips. "Spanish," she murmurs, disdainful, but somehow almost amused. "Well, what's one more language to add to my collection?" Clutching the book to her chest, she retrieves a mobile phone from her pocket, different from before. This one isn't a last ditch effort, but her personal device. She dials a number from memory and holds the phone to her ear. As it rings, she climbs to her feet, sucking down deep, steady breaths. She needs her anger now for what's to come. All this injustice that she perceives has been done to her will serve nicely as fuel.

The line goes to voicemail, as expected. "Mission accomplished. I suffered… damage, however." There's contempt in her voice as she describes her miraculous restoration with a single word; its antonym. Not all of it is manufactured. "I'll explain when I see you. I'm back in the city and on my way to you now." What the hell happened here? She hopes that she'll find answer when she actually speaks to the person she's dialed up. "I'll need a pick-up when I get back to Eltingville. The usual drop point should be fine. And I need your trust on this one."

Lips curve upward in a smirk at her own expense. Trust.

"I'll be back as soon as I can," she assures, having no idea how soon that might be. "Don't wait up."

She snaps the phone shut and takes one last look at the man she leaves behind. The man who's left her behind. "Goodbye, Mateo."

Odessa Price walks off into the night.

Previously in this storyline…
Arkfall, Part IV

Next in this storyline…

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