Doubt Comes In


ace_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif

Scene Title Doubt Comes In
Synopsis After uncovering pieces of a hidden past and accidentally reaching a step too far, Odessa decides it's no longer safe to stay where she is.
Date March 29, 2021

Ace and Odessa's Brownstone, Williamsburg

“No. It has to be the white chocolate raspberry.” The freezer door slides closed and Odessa leans heavily against the doors of the fridge, her head resting against her forearm dramatically. “Nothing else is going to work. I’ll just be disappointed and want to eat more.” With a whine, she pushes away from the appliance and slinks her way dejectedly out of the kitchen to drop down into one of the chairs at the dining room table. She’s been home about twenty minutes and nothing but a whirlwind of vaguely melancholic and oddly manic energy the entire time.

A tough day at work, she’d told him when she got home, with her red-rimmed eyes and the slightly husky quality to her voice. An anticipated big experiment had gone entirely wrong and produced completely unexpected results, setting her back months, if not years, she’d lamented. Now, she isn’t crying frustrated tears, but it looks like that may only be because she’s already out of them from earlier.

“Look, I know it’s a hike out to Yamagato Park, but if you just go to the market down the road, they don’t carry all the flavors. And I just—” Odessa’s face contorts in a miserable expression, blinking rapidly. “I just want that one. Please, my love. Will you go fetch for me?”

Under most circumstances, Ace would be more than happy to do just that— complete some task that would lead to the soothing of her mood without having to confront it or be in its presence. Her tears, her upset are things he patently does not do well with after long days of his own.

But they went to therapy, and now they don't get easy outs like that for each other anymore. Or at least, he has learned he should do better than avoiding the way she feels.

"Ice cream won't numb whatever this is, O," he observes with a touch of unhappiness— disapproval? Flatness, even for an apparent attempt at sympathy of some kind, maybe? "Not even were I to bring back a gallon of it."

His expression is unchanging as he comes to a crouch by her side rather than seating himself at the table as well. "Just…" He looks to his hand as he places it at the back of her neck, palm flush with the place shoulders meet. He massages back and forth gently, looking back to her. "Breathe. In and out, slow. Think about literally anything else aside from this upset. Think about the song you've been working on. Think about how much you're irritated by that one worker at the store down the road. Think about when we went to the lake resort."

Something, anything besides what ails her. Ace settles his green-greys back on her face, chin tucked in a way that conveys he wants to be meaningful in this suggestion.

But there's those visual cues only, rather than…

Odessa looks up from her unhappy reverie with her chin resting in the palm of her hand, elbow on the table’s surface. The look in her eyes that asks the time-honored question: Why didn’t I think of that?

He’s asked her to think of something else, other than her upset, and when she leans in toward him just that bare bit, she certainly appears to be. “Do you think it comes in gallons?”

Ace presses his lips together so firmly one would think nothing could pass between them. Then his tongue slides a parting in them as he exerts an effort to metaphorically, not physically, bite it. He settles into his crouch with more resignation, less sympathy in his eyes than before. His hand drops, forearms resting on either knee.

"Talk to me, Odessa," he asks of her in a stern voice.

She has to take him at his face value and it’s a more harrowing experience than she expected it to be. She expected him to have fled for the sanctity of his expensive car by now, where there’s no hysterics and not even so much as a hint of need for sympathy.

But they went to therapy.

Of course he fucking got something out of it when it’s least convenient for her. It’s making everything harder. Worse. There’s been a vise around her heart since she got in the PRYR to come home and it’s only tightening more as he tries to give her his patience and his understanding. He’s trying.

And Odessa is trying him. “I don’t— There’s nothing worth saying. That’s the stupid part. I just want ice cream and… I don’t know, a solid twenty minutes to just cry really hard without it being something that’s going to bother you.” If he’s present, any amount of her tears is going to be a bother to him.

Ace knits his brow, the tilt of his head as he looks at her shifting. It's not lacking sharpness, not in its entirety, but it loses some of its severity. "My muse, leaving you to be that upset isn't something I want to do. Getting you what you're asking for— that's simple. But I would rather help you."

He turns one hand over on his knee, then offers it palm up to her. Thinks better of just offering— takes one of her hands in his and holds onto it, brushing his thumb over the back of it. "Listen to me. Really listen. Take my calm and make it your own."

“I know,” Odessa says quietly. He wouldn’t make the offer if he didn’t mean it. He knows better with her. “But you aren’t leaving me. You’re coming right back.” She tries to smile encouragingly, but she isn’t sure it quite made it to her eyes. Her fingers curl around his hand, letting him hold her there for now.

“Besides, I can’t just steal this from you. That isn’t how it works, and it doesn’t make it go away. I need to process things the way that I process them,” Odessa explains, that smile of hers turning into something bitter and nostalgic. “I used to freeze the world around me and just scream until my lungs burned.” She shakes her head, further admitting, “It felt so good.”

Blue meets green-grey, asking for understanding. “That’s what I want tonight. I just want the space to have a really big outburst, all to myself. I just want to get it out, and then it won’t plague me anymore.”

That isn't how this works, she says.

Ace studies her intently, weighing her reasoning. His hand firms around hers. He might not understand, not really, as there's very little he feels he needs time alone from her for…

But surely he can grant her thirty minutes on her own, can't he?

He comes up off of his haunches, leans forward to press a kiss to her forehead. "Try not to take out your anger on anything that doesn't deserve it," is his sole piece of advice, offered with a small tug back of one side of his mouth before he solemnly withdraws, giving her hand one last squeeze before he lets go.

Keyfob is collected from the counter, his phone next. Just the one, the other left. She knows which by the model taken alone, should she need him while he's gone.

"White chocolate raspberry," he echoes his understanding back to her as he crosses from kitchen, past the dining table, through the living room. "If they have multiples, I'll grab more than one."

Her eyes lid when his lips meet her brow and she smiles with a bit more sweet to temper the earlier bitterness. “I don’t deserve you,” she tells him, and means it. “I’ll see you soon.” That blonde head doesn’t lift to track his progress out of the kitchen, through the foyer and out of the house. This is routine by now. She knows exactly how many steps at his stride it takes to carry him from island to door. It isn’t so much that he’s a creature of habit, but one of efficiency.

She waits until the count of three after the door has clicked shut before she lets the tears spring up from the wells of her eyes. She gets to five before she springs up from her seat and rushes for the stairs. Two by two she takes them, grabbing hold of the bannister and swinging herself around to face their bedroom door once she reaches the top.

The closet door is thrown open and a simple black bag dragged out across the carpet. “Fuck,” she hisses. “Fuck!” This used to be easier. Grab the bag. Go. Maybe pause long enough to grab an extra pair of shoes, a coat. Sometimes a hat. Now? Now she has things scattered all over the house that she wouldn’t want to part with. Things with meaning. Sentimentality.

This was a mistake. The moment she got into that car to accept his apology was a colossal mistake. He’s softened her. Domesticated her. Because of him, she’s started to put down roots. Odessa’s hands are shaking as she throws velvet boxes and bags of jewelry into the open duffel. The gems are real, which means it’s easy money. Maybe it’ll be enough to get her on her feet wherever she ends up next. As she does up the laces on a pair of durable boots, her eyes fall to the ring on her left hand. Stubbornly, she twists it around so the gem is hidden from her view and finishes tying the knots.

Slinging the bag over her shoulder after she comes to her feet again, she starts back toward the stairwell, rubbing the back of her hand under her nose as she allows one sniffle.

The bedroom door, before she can take a third step in its direction, shuts suddenly of its own accord.

… Not precisely, though. A hand, disembodied, is splayed across the center of the pale painted wood, plainly visible. It lingers in silence after the door clicks closed, before fingers slowly slide down. A body doesn't appear on the end of the hand, on the edge of the visible cuff, not even after it slides down a considerable length.

The hand simply comes to the span of where a six foot individual could reasonably reach while standing upright, and shifts off the door entirely before disappearing from view, too, in the space of a blink.

Thoughts of indulging her sorrow are drowned in an instant in the frigid saltwater of fear. Odessa stops short and stares at the hand on the door, unconsciously following the length of where she expects his arm to appear shortly thereafter.

But it doesn’t.

She looks to her right for some sign of him, then sharply turns her attention to her left. Nothing. She does not look toward the door again, even as she’s planning in her head how she can get past him and through it.

It’s like the hotel all over again. Even if she did make it to the door, somehow, and got beyond its frame, he’d need only to step through the wall and block her path. Hell, he could let her think she has a chance and cut her off at the bottom of the stairs.

The bag hits the floor with a heavy thud that may as well be a physical stand-in for the metaphorical way her heart drops.

Silence lingers in the air, no sign one way or another of where Ace Callahan lingers in her presence. During the moment at the hotel where he was deciding what to do with her, even if he guarded himself from attack, she could at least see the act of him thinking. She knew, if only through the shifts of his intangible body as he finally began to move, what he was likely about to do.

There's no such saving grace now.

Just a void— where there should somewhere be a person. Just quiet— where there should be the murmur of some semblance of a soul.

She doesn't even hear him when he reappears so far to one side it's in the unmoving fringes of her periphery.

"That bad a day?" he announces his presence by asking, tongue in cheek.

Ace rubs a hand along his mouth, on the other side of the bed more than an arm's length— more than several arms' lengths from her. He blinks at her slowly, everything happening behind his eyes a mystery to her. He rolls his jaw while he considers her before letting his arm come swinging back down to his side.

"I realize I have particularly high expectations, O, but this?" He gestures with a flick of his hand to the dropped bag on the floor. "This is not how partners behave with each other."

There's absolutely no emotion in his voice as he asks, "And we are, aren't we?"


He leaves his eyes on her as a person, but she doesn't need a pointed stare to know he saw her turn her ring.

Even though his appearance is far enough away from her that he can’t simply reach out to grab her, that he isn’t breathing down her neck like a predatory creature, it does nothing to stop the way she cries out with her alarm when his voice calls her attention to his location.

A single bubble of nervous laughter slips past her before she bites down hard on her lower lip. The thought that crossed her mind, about making a comment about his lack of trust in her, is patently absurd. After all, she’s just proven herself untrustworthy, hasn’t she? She’s halfway through turning her ring the right way around again out of anxious habit when he silently calls attention to its having been askew in the first place.

“This… This is not about our partnership.”

Isn’t it?

"What affects you affects me."

In this, Ace is resolute.

"Whatever mission you were about to head on? Affects me. The way your disappearance would have been noted?" His mouth firms into a line before he says between his teeth, "Affects me."

He doesn't move from his side of the bed, sits neither on the padded chair beside it nor on the comforters. He doesn't pace to work out his frustration in that way, while also winding it up. He just exists, a stubbornly immovable stone in her path even if he's not blocking the path to the door physically in this moment.

"I don't know what's come to haunt you today, O; some spectre of your past that makes you feel as though you're better off hiding, some imbecile who's threatened us and convinced you of my safety if only you leave me…" He shakes his head slowly to indicate how ridiculous he finds the notion. "But I would think if you were trying to run from me, the least you would do is use your senses…" His voice sharpens with something, rises in volume. Anger? No, disappointment? "—to know just how far behind you I stand."

Ace seethes now, trying to avoid going down a path of assumptions, but her uncommunicative nature regarding her issue has left him no choice. "Who are they? Who is doing this to you?"

Just his presence, larger than her own, is enough to keep her rooted to the spot. He doesn’t need to block her in physically. “I know,” Odessa acknowledges without hesitation. “I never— never thought for a moment that it wouldn’t affect you.” Although his last note, she isn’t sure if that means his noting of her absence or the way others would note her absence. Both, certainly.

Belated concern coils in her gut at the realization that her friends, what few she expects she can still count in that rank, may have blamed Ace for her disappearance, rather than jump to what she considers the reasonable conclusion and surmise that she skipped town on her own. Fresh new guilt provides an extra twist.

“I am not belittling you in any way when I say this, but,” Odessa begins, the full weight of her worried gaze on the man she loves so much that it threatens to undo her, “you couldn’t possibly understand.” Brows come together in tandem with the way that her teeth capture her lower lip while she both thinks of how to phrase her next thought and wills herself not to start crying while she does it.

“My ability is gone,” is the most succinct way to put that bit of information he already suspected, even if it’s the far oversimplified version. Even if it implies a permanence that she can’t confirm. “For my safety. For your safety.” The smile is a sad, strained thing. “For everybody’s safety.” Odessa shakes her head quickly. “My love, I know you think yourself untouchable, but you’re not. You think you understand what power is, but you don’t.”

Her eyes unfocus then, staring at some point past him. Past the room. Maybe even past reality. “Not like this. Not like them.”

Ace flinched from Odessa the last time she'd said her ability was torn from her, like she had an affliction, and it might spread. There's no need to create distance between them now— there's plenty of that by design— but the dramatic change in his expression alludes to a similar response.

The tension in it slacks, edges of frustration battered away by the blast of the revelation. He does, in fact, move. One step. Then another. Around the edge of the bed.

He doesn't close the gap, but he comes closer with that presence of his. And when he speaks again, it's coldly. "I wasn't with you when you lost what was yours before, but I am now." Furiously. "Who? Who is responsible for this?"

Ace finds he understands perfectly well. Someone has hurt her, put fear into her. He'll overlook her doubts of his ability to strike back at what did this to her.

He takes a step closer to come within arm's reach, vowing with venom, "I will make them pay for what they've done to you."

The proximity of him has at least given her cause to break out of the fugue she threatened to slip into. To tear her gaze away from the void she fancies herself able to see. The one that stares back at her. That whispers her name and such dark promises to her.

“You can’t.” He could. “No one can.” In this narrative of hers that she’s spinning for the benefit of them both, it isn’t Amanvir Binepal responsible for the loss of her ability, but this Entity. If not for them, Odessa would have known that her trust in Ace was misplaced.

Trust is such a pesky thing, isn’t it?

And still, she wants nothing better than to melt into his arms. To let him hold her and whisper his vows of vengeance into her hair and grip her so fiercely as to never let her even think about leaving him again. But she can’t afford to lose her nerve.

“Have you ever wondered where we come from?” she asks in an even voice, the look in her eyes asking him to just pause for a moment and consider. “People like us. With powers.

Ace's mouth hardens when Odessa dares to insist whoever is responsible for her loss is outside of his reach. If he can't crush the life from them, he and Cleo could do just fine against them from afar, he's certain.

"My muse, after what's been done to you, I can't fault you for feeling powerless, but you don't have to be in this. Someone committed a crime against you." While she was supposed to have been at work, he suddenly thinks; realizes. "People you erroneously trusted," he surmises, a new flavor of indignation in his fury. "It's unforgivable."

He reaches for her, no gentleness or brushes or half-measures. He aims to cup her cheek in his palm, his other to capture the curve of her shoulder. It's an embrace of sorts without having to crush her to his chest.

"We are evolution; our power, our birthright is written into our genetics," he answers her almost as a non-answer. "I won't sit here idly while someone thinks themselves entitled enough to take yours. Negation is a criminal enough neutering, whatever they did to you…" He frowns intensely. "What did they do to you?"

Odessa laughs openly, a broken sound that highlights just how frayed the edges of her psyche are at the moment, how fragile she is. “Ace, my darling…” She gives him a look of exaggerated pity. “I am the one people erroneously trust. Continually.” There’s a light in her eyes, but it doesn’t speak to excitement or delight. “I am poison. I get into the ground, and I get into the water, and I get into the air, and I kill everything around me.”

It’s dramatic, of course, but she’s dancing along the edge of a break. What’s not dramatic about that?

“There is a power out there so strong that it makes the rest of us look like infants. Like we’re single-celled organisms. Like we’re still just crawling out of the primordial soup.” Odessa leans into the touch at her cheek, eyes closing for a moment as she turns her face toward his palm, pressing a kiss there. There’s an edge to her, but it isn’t the desperation he’s perhaps come to expect from her in her most fraught moments.

“The First of Us is real. They made us and they want to unmake us. All of us. All of this.” Odessa opens her eyes again, wide, her mouth curled into a smile with teeth on display. “And I’ve been all about that before, don’t get me wrong. I’ve tried to wipe all of us off the face of the planet because I thought it would be beautiful to start over at the top of the food chain, but I don’t go in for that sort of life anymore. I don’t want to see everything reduced to star stuff.

She isn’t making any sense. Well, except to herself. Hopefully.

“I tried to unlock my secrets, Ace. I tried to find out what might be hidden away inside my head by looking at the past, and instead, they found me.

Ace does her the courtesy of listening, but it's impossible to miss the shift in his eyes when she starts going on about something that… made them. The First Of Us, she calls it, and with such certainty.

His hand doesn't leave her cheek, thumb brushing over it while he looks down at her.

"You're telling me…"

He rolls the notion around on his tongue before he can even bring himself to say it. "That God exists?" He sounds fascinated, rather than afraid. Reverent, rather than hesitant. "And They found you?"

He's breathless now where before he was filled with fire, even if tension still has him with all the stillness of living marble.

Yes.” He understands, sort of. Her hand comes up to lay over the one he holds her cheek with. “As close to any god as I can reconcile, anyway.” While he may be fixated on the wrong morsel of information she’s laid out in that spread, that doesn’t mean that it’s lacking substance.

How to best explain it to him? How can she convey what it’s like to have that sort of attention focused on her, this speck of dust among all space and time?

Odessa’s head tilts back, her eyes falling shut. A heavy exhale leaves her, a tremulous note at its end. “With golden eyes, they could see me. And I heard them speak. A thousand voices in my head, all calling for one incomprehensible thing. Thousands of hands just clawing, clawing, clawing at my mind and demanding I succumb.” As she recounts the experience, her hand drifts away from his, caressing a line down her throat to her sternum.

“And I wanted to. All that promise. I wanted to be the most powerful being in the universe.” Thin, trembling fingers tangle in the chain of her ever-present necklace. “I want to know what that feels like. To be able to write someone’s fate or unravel them with a look.” Odessa’s lips curl into a smirk as she opens her eyes again to look up at Ace. “What a pleasant little nightmare that would be.”

The circumstances this meeting with God came about being a mystery still do nothing to deter Ace's fascination with the story she tells. He sidles even closer so he can look deep into her eyes, as if he might be able to live what that must have been like if only he listens hard enough.

A small sigh leaves him, one of satisfaction and wonder.

He's always seen so much in her. And their Creator saw the same, he reads into this situation. He questions none of her telling, hanging on every word.

"Who ruined this for you?" Ace whispers.

This is precisely why she fell so hard for him. He understands this side of her. She saw it in him on their very first meeting, when they oh-so-briefly took control of their own fates and mutinied. Even if she disappointed him by letting love hold her back.

I did,” she insists in reply to his question. Functionally, it’s true. “Look at me and understand… If they— If I let them in, I won’t be me anymore.” The wonder in her starts to ebb away, allowing the fear to creep back in. Worry takes up a residence in her heart, settling in an armchair, facing toward the door with a gun, alert and awaiting intrusion.

“Would you give me up just to see God wear my face?”

Ace's hand slips from her cheek when she states she is the reason her chance at power slipped from her grasp. A numbness sets in, disbelief. She could have ascended, and she gave up that transformation because it would have involved metamorphosis?

"Did They take your ability from you, for rebuking Them?" he asks faintly in return, his eyes searching hers, one then the other, more needfully now. Is this the power she said he couldn't stand against?

“You’re not listening to me,” Odessa breathes out, incredulous at this reaction of his. “I would not exist anymore. Your muse would be gone.” Her hands fall to her sides, those trembling fingers now curling into fists. “I came here to grab my things, to leave, to sneak out without your notice, so that you would be safe.

She steps back, away from him, a wounded creature now. “You’ve been holding out hope that my original ability would come back, haven’t you? Is that why you keep me close to you? Do you love the idea of my power more than you love the reality of me?” Self-hating person that she is, she could hardly blame him if that was the case.

The worst of it is that she can’t sort through anything he’s feeling. She can’t know his heart the way she should. His intent is lost on her. “You saw what they did to Eve. That smoke and the way she could have sapped the life right out of me? That was them.” The way her cousin’s DNA got all scrambled up still leaves her cold. Eve didn’t need another bad hand dealt to her. Odessa sure as hell doesn’t either.

“I don’t want to become that. I just want to be a girl in love with a boy, who sings on a stage in a nightclub like some kind of Disney fucking princess.” And practices science on the side, like the latest release of Barbie doll. “I don’t want to be a vessel for death anymore!”

The moment she starts to shrink from him is where Ace knows he's done something wrong. Even if she did have the insight of her ability to leverage against him, that might not have saved them in this moment.

He has nothing to offer except his standard demeanor in moments like this, though, snappish and forthright. "Odessa, if I did not care for you, I'd have let you slip out," he scolds her. "I'd have handed you the bag and let you make your own choice. If all the worth I saw in you was that ability, I'd have left you to drown in the summer heat wearing that wool you were in when you left Rikers." Eyes narrowing, he considers then what she says about Eve.

The strange ability she had, compared to her precognition, was as dramatic a shift from dominion over time to being assaulted by emotions, honestly.

The sharpness in him leaves him when she raises her voice. "Easy," he encourages her. He lifts his hands in a soothing gesture in response to her desperation. "Odessa, it's—" He sighs and reaches for her, drawing her quickly into an embrace before she can worm away out of it.

Words in this situation are a hard thing to summon accurately. But perhaps this will do. "I've got you," he promises her, one hand curled around her shoulder while the other rests on her back. He drags it up and down in a ruffle of her shirt. "I'm here for you." All he has to prove it is are his words; emotional fact-checking impossible now. But the warmth of his arms is an echo of a sensation like the feelings of protective possession it's a physical representation of.

Are you?” she asks, voice muffled against his chest. Despite the doubt in her words, her fingers have curled into his shirt at his back. She’s crushed herself to him, wanting desperately to forget where she ends and he begins. “Or are you here for the idea of that power inside of me?” She doesn’t dare look up at him, afraid of what she’ll see in his eyes if she does.

“They’ll use me, Ace.” Odessa’s voice becomes a pleading whisper. “I don’t want to be the unfathomable end of everything. They truly mean to destroy everything. All of us. Not just people like us, but everybody. There won’t be a speck of evidence left that any of us existed. No legacy. Just void.

Is he listening to her now?

He continues to hold her. His chin settles atop her head while he ponders that.

"I grew up in a Christian household," Ace explains in a murmur. "Raised under the belief that 'God' set upon the world a deluge that lasted a week; that flooded the world to destroy all of humanity. The flood lasted forty days, and forty nights, but thanks to the efforts of the cunning of man, life carried on and outlasted the rising waters until they receded again."

He shifts his head, pressing his mouth to Odessa's crown. He explains, "It's within Their right to try, for being disappointed in how we've squandered our gifts, just as it's within our right to outlast Their machinations."

Maybe not the two of them, specifically, but humanity. And wouldn't that be a fight to see? Something much greater than the struggle of the Second Civil War. Something far more dramatic, with so much more weight. It'd be a breathtaking production to be aware of.

But this daydream wouldn't comfort her, he knows, and so he keeps the thought to himself. Ace lifts his head to look down at Odessa, his arms still a loose cage around her.

"We'll figure this out," he promises her instead.

Her chin lifts, then her gaze. “There’s something inside of me, Ace. Something that lets them in. They— They took me when I was just a kid. I killed people with powers that I don’t have.” There’s a pause to breathe and to consider what she has to say. “I think I did something awful that I don’t remember.”

Briefly, she sags against him again, her forehead against his chest while she tries to make sense of her thoughts jumbled by fear as they are. “I said I was poison, but that’s not right…” Odessa looks up again. “I think I’m a disease. A contagion. I think… I think proximity to me is dangerous.”

The faintest traces of mirth enter his expression, a knowing slant to his brow. "If that's the case, my muse," he tells her in an overweary humor. "I think I'm a lost cause. I've had more than just proximity to you for some time."

He lapses into silence, though, sensing her intent to continue speaking.

Slowly, her hands have snaked away from his back, having settled at the belt around his waist briefly, but now she makes clear her intent to reach for him. Gently, her fingertips touch his face before her palms make contact and settle. It’s as if her hands are trying to commit the lines of his face to memory while he watches her heart break through the windows of her eyes.

“You were willing to kill me before to save us all,” she reminds him, her voice steady and even. “I was going to run. To find somewhere far away from you, from anybody, and just try to… to be. But they’ll just find me again.” The glide of her right hand skips over his neck and she fits her palm against the curve of his shoulder instead before sliding down to just below his elbow, where she urges him to disengage from his embrace in this half measure.

“I’m not strong enough to shut them out again.” Odessa encourages Ace’s palm to press against her chest. She holds his gaze and fast to her conviction.

The shape of his brow churns, finding its way into a furrow. It's remarkable how easy it'd be to kill her, after all. To just…

Her hand sinks against her own chest, his palm sunk into it. The shadows cast in the room fail to play out their natural order against the length of his left arm, the rest of him still solid. His green-greys meet her blues as he shapes his hand around her heart.

She gasps when the edge of her palm plants against the gentle swell of her, as though she’s driven a knife into her chest clear to the hilt. There’s no pain to accompany it, however. Not yet, anyway. Her eyes dance between his, waiting for the moment that the shift occurs and she knows he’s made the decision. “Do it,” she whispers, begging him, “take this heart that belongs to you.

There's no alternative he can think of to her conundrum she's posed for herself. No memories, necessarily, to take away to make things well— like erasing the knowledge of what she worked on at PISEC would have. The weakness she has, if it can be called that, where she believes herself vulnerable to the call of a greater power is beyond his ability to repair.

But he doesn't have the will for it. Didn't have it even then, in the end. Not with her, not to her.

"You're not going anywhere," he tells her. "Motivated as I am, there is nowhere you could hide anyway. I will not let you run from me. And I will not lose you." His hand continues to hover in a frighteningly incorporeal state inside her chest, his intent with it unclear. Not until he states: "Not by my hand. Not by yours."

Ace lowers his head to kiss her fiercely, if briefly. His intangible hand moves out of her chest, arm settling elsewhere. He asks in a whisper, "Do I make myself clear?"

His refusal should come as a relief, and it does somewhere deep, deep down and she’ll realize it later, but for now, all she can focus on is the fact that she won’t manage this a second time. That if they travel this road again, she won’t do so quietly. He’ll have to drag her kicking, screaming, begging for her life. All of those likely metaphorically, but that’s only if there’s any kind of mercy in the cruel universe.

With his lips to hers, maybe she’s found it. Her arms fall to her sides, the rigidity of fear drained from her. Now she’s offered up in a differently motivated surrender. Mercy’s a complicated thing for creatures like them.

Yes, sir.

His brow knits again, the emotion behind it hidden beyond the mask made up the remainder of his stern expression. "Good."

Ace rises from the moment with a slow exhale, his one arm still loose around her waist where it's fallen. It takes a beat of silence before he murmurs, "Go fix us a drink. After the day you've had, it sounds like you need one." It's not the requested ice cream, but neither does he trust she still won't leave if he went to get it now.

It's an extension of trust just to let her go to the first floor without him, at this point. After everything she's just confessed to, after what she wanted him to do.

But his eyes meet hers, weighing the look in her own to decide if that trust is deserved.

Trusting Odessa with much of anything always seems to be a gamble, but even if she perhaps can’t possibly manage to look sincere enough, she can at least look contrite enough. Subdued enough. She nods her head. Yes, she can fix a drink. Yes, she needs one. The ice cream, while it certainly doesn’t cause her any strife, was never intended to soothe any of it anyway. She merely needed to come up with something plausible enough to be in demand by her at a location inconvenient to him.

A bit of liquor will do far more for her now. “I’ll be at my piano.” Once she’s fixed their drinks. It offers up an audible cue that she won’t have attempted to flee into the night. A reassurance that he won’t need to rush himself to return to her side and ensure her compliance.

As she slips away, it’s first her boots sounding on the steps as she descends to the first floor.

Ice against polished crystal walls.

Soft notes drifting from her piano, Mozart’s genius fulfilling her promise.

Despite the assurance— the promise— in her words, Ace stands there for a time to listen to the sounds of her movements downstairs. He satisfies himself eventually after hearing neither the front door nor the door to the patio open, listening to the melody that begins to waft up before he turns and heads for the master bath. He walks past the open linens closet, along the long vanity with its two sinks. His eyes don't linger on the span of the mirror running nearly the length of the wall, face turned instead down to the sink.

He sighs, twisting the faucet and letting it run for a moment in the hopes the water nears frigid instead of merely cold. He leans with that hand on the faucet, brow knit in thought.

His head begins to draw up, meaning to meet his own eyes in the mirror, but he turns rapidly away from it instead, hair on the back of his neck raised.

Well,” says no one. The room is empty behind Ace, but when he looks back into the mirror there is a dapper-dressed man standing directly behind him, putting a hand on his shoulder that Ace can’t feel.

“You are an incorrigible scamp,” the intruder says with a visible, unfelt squeeze of Ace’s shoulder, “but I like you.”

Ace can feel his skin crawling, his blood slithering in his veins, prickling sensations in his arms and fingers. Their eyes meet…

“I think you and I have a lot to talk about.”

…in mirrors of gold.


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License