Drop Dead



Scene Title Drop Dead
Synopsis Please don't bother tryin' to find her.
Date June 30, 2021

Raytech Industries Corporate Housing
Jackson Heights

There’s a donut hanging out of her mouth as she swipes her key card and pushes open the glass doors, trudging back from the bakery down the road. In hindsight, she’s surprised they were open at all, given the chaos of the day before. Surprised and incredibly grateful for some normalcy even as she passes rubble, demolished cars, the pockmarks of bullets on concrete structures. It feels in so many ways like the war never left them.

Well no one told me about her, the way she lied

Well no one told me about her, how many people cried

But it’s too late to say you’re sorry

How would I know, why should I care?

She stops at the front desk. This is normally where she’d set a bag for her friend to enjoy, with a pastry identical to the one she’s having in place of a lunch. A late lunch, at that. With Sera Lang laid up, however, it’s a note that she pens instead. She’ll leave the same note every day until she comes back: IOU 1 maple iced ring ♥️

Please don’t bother tryin’ to find her

She’s not there

The buds pumping music in her ears provide distraction from her thoughts, which have been tumultuous today, to say the least. She’s trying to center herself. Do the boring things now. Like grab a snack, check the mail, and clean up her corporate-provided apartment before ultimately heading back to the home she shares with her husband.

Well, let me tell you ‘bout the way she looked

The way she’d act and the color of her hair

Her voice was soft and cool

Her eyes were clear and bright

But she’s not there

She passes through the laboratories on her way, to take stock after sending security to essentially ransack her storage. At the very least, she needs to change the PIN lock. Using her partner’s birth date wasn’t the most secure anyway.

Well, no one told me about her, what could I do?

Then it’s through the tunnel that connects the offices and labs to the apartments. So few people come this way. So few even know of it. Lacking in self-consciousness, she holds her arms out to her sides, turning circles down the hall in time with the music in her ears until she reaches the short stairwell she skips her way up, arriving again at the ground level, in the hall just outside the mailroom.

Well, no one told me about her, though they all knew

Nearly all mail is delivered to the brownstone or directly to her lab. Still, she unlocks the box and checks anyway, pleasantly surprised to find three magazines and a package. She tucks it all under her arm and heads up the elevator to her apartment, sorting through it on the kitchen island when she arrives. Two fashion magazines, a scientific journal and a parcel delivered by courier, if the stamps are any indication.

But it’s too late to say you’re sorry

How would I know, why should I care?

Please don’t bother trying to find her

She’s not there

Her brow furrows as she looks at the “to” field: PRICE, ODESSA

Well, let me tell you ‘bout the way she looked

The way she’d act and the color of her hair

Her voice was soft and cool

Her eyes were clear and bright

But she’s not there

Both of her brows shooting up, she looks around the label. The "From" address is somewhere in Phoenix Heights and the sender one Jim Farrell. She drops the package as if it burned her and it hits the floor with a clatter muted by the brown cardboard paper wrapping.

But it’s too late to say you’re sorry

It’s a name she hasn’t seen in a very, very long time. One that she thought she’d never see again. When the damn thing doesn’t explode, she crouches down to pick it up off the wood floor, trying to discern the contents by feel. One edge gives slightly. A VHS cassette?

How would I know, why should I care?

Halfway across the city, an otherwise calm presence probes her with concern. She draws in a deep breath through her nose, shaking her head as though the other person could see it. Closing her eyes, she tries to bring herself back to center. To smooth out the spike of fear that drew attention in the first place. She sets aside the package and reaches for the cellphone in her pocket.

Please don’t bother tryin’ to find her

I need a break. I’ll be heading home shortly. Meet you there.

She’s not there

She shuts down her ability with a sag of her shoulders, then turns a wary and vaguely accusatory look to the parcel. It’s torn open with more force than is strictly necessary. The shredded paper brings a sort of satisfaction, though.

Well tell me tell you ‘bout the way she looked

Shaking it out, she doesn’t give a care when the wrapping falls from the island and onto the floor once more, marching instead straight to the VHS player she had used to watch Marx Brothers films, eating pizza on the sofa next to someone who she wishes she could turn to right now.

The way she’d act and the color of her hair

The tape is slid into the machine, television turned on, and she doesn’t even bother moving back to the couch, instead dropping to sit on the coffee table after she’s hit play. It’s a step up from sitting on the floor directly in front of the set as she watches with rapt attention — and abject confusion when it’s over.

Her voice was soft and cool

The loose floorboard in the back of her closet is pried up frantically, and the tape stashed in the firebox with the rest of the potentially incriminating things she’s kept from her life. A strap of hundred dollar bills is grabbed up in exchange before she seals it all back up. Then the label is torn free from the package, fire set to it with her lighter, and she watches it burn up in the stainless steel sink, hitting it with a spray of water to ensure the building won’t go up.

Her eyes were clear and bright

Odessa grabs her keys, and she runs.

But she’s not there

Callahan Residence

June 30, 2021
3:22 PM

Keys jingle as they’re forced into the lock, and again when they’re yanked back out. The door is shut with a bang! It’s entirely unlike either resident. He needn’t even bother with the door, and she is usually given enough time to come down from whatever has her seething over the course of the PRYR home.

Ace!” Odessa doesn’t wait for confirmation of his presence, she simply strides through the brownstone with all the force of a storm. The scrabbling paws on the wood floor of her office heralds the arrival of the wolfhound before he bursts forth, excited to see his maman.

The blonde turns abruptly, snapping at the one hundred pound puppy with a sharpness she’s never taken with her beloved pet before. “Arrêt!1” Rex goes skidding to a halt short of her, tail still thumping, even though he whines. “Va dans ta chambre.2” When he doesn’t comply with the command, her fingers curl into trembling fists. “Aller! Aller!3

Confused as to why he’s not being lavished with the affection he’s grown accustomed to, he still obediently turns and tromps back to her study, to crawl into the crate he sleeps in at night.

Odessa resumes her march to the stairwell, only opening her senses once she has her hand on the banister.

Ace stands at the top of the stairs, his preparations for a late start of day at his workplace abandoned with the storm making its way through the house. He pings on her radar with cool determination.


"Tell me what's wrong," is his singular demand regarding her visible and not-so-visible alarm.

There’s no embrace, no peck on the cheek. Odessa simply breezes by, refusing to be halted on her path. “Get dressed for actual work,” she tells him, voice taut like a steel cable. But even those can waver, and he feels the tremor of it in her emotions. That silent fury, the determination, but the undercurrent, the instability of fear. She tosses a look over her shoulder as she heads for their bedroom.

“And get Cleo.”

Ace catches her by the wrist to stop her progress, an unmoved wall when she turns back. "No matter how urgent this situation is, O, if we want to approach it violently, you need to tell me what's going on."

His brows arch. "Chiefly, who are we killing, where, and why."

Don’t!” Odessa shouts, trying to shake free his grip on her wrist. “Follow me, but don’t stop me.” The entirety of her expression is tight. She’s a live wire of anxiety. “I don’t know if we need to kill him, but I am damn well going to be prepared for it.”

Between defiance and fear, Ace is getting the brunt of her defiance now. “The Company,” she says in a voice that’s quieter than she intends it to be. She swallows hard before she can continue. “Someone from the Company has found me. And I need… I need to find out what he wants, and decide what to do with that.”

When Odessa tries to free herself, Ace's grasp only tightens. "Breathe," he orders her, feeling the anxious scrabble of her feelings scratching and clawing their way into his own heart. He cannot be like this.

The news brings him to frown, his own voice lowering. "If someone outside of your approved little circle knows your true identity…" One lip curls back in distaste both at the thought of it and the other caveat that might save this person's life: "Is it possible they're government and found the information that way? That changes the risk level on this immensely." Both for meeting with this person and/or killing them.

He does, finally, let go of her wrist. "I would rather be closer to you than Cleo would dictate, if you think this person would visit harm on you."

Odessa massages her wrist after he’s released it. She’s not calming any, in spite of his instruction. “I don’t know,” she says. “If he’s SESA or OEI or whatever, then whatever he’s doing, it’s gotta be off the books.”

For lack of a better outlet for her frustration, she jabs her finger against Ace’s chest. “You can’t be that close to me. They can’t know… They can’t know what you’re capable of. They can’t know that I’m turning to you, trusting you with this.” Before he can protest, she pokes him again. “This is me. This is my life. I get to decide how we handle this.”

Her lips purse, eyes burning, trying to warn him off from fighting her on this. “They can’t know that you’re my weakness.” And finally, the tension breaks. Odessa breathes out hard, her hand now laying flat against his chest. “He sent a package to Raytech with my name on it. I can’t ignore this, and I can’t afford to wait and see if it escalates.”

Ace narrows his eyes thoughtfully at the mention of the fledgling government arm, letting out a hm. Before he can voice any thoughts of his own, Odessa is asserting herself in ways he'd break fingers or crush hearts over. Even drawing back from that instinct, it takes effort to still his tongue.

His eyes are burning with an intensity of his own when she sets hers on his. Jaw set, he hears her out, brow furrowing. It's with a disgruntled sigh that he relents to her argument, even if he doesn't agree with it. "Anyone who looks up who you are now knows you're bound to me," is the extent of his argument. Ace rests his hand over Odessa's in a gesture of comfort.

"I can't do what I need to if I'm fighting against your anxieties while I do it, O," he points out as gently as he can. "Cleo demands my every attention and instinct. Where are we going? Is it somewhere you can leave your phone open with a call to me active?"

“I don’t know,” Odessa admits. There’s an argument in her chest, but she ignores it. Fighting about whether or not his appearance at her side in this specific instance is more of a danger than standing alone isn’t going to be a fruitful thing. They’ll certainly know about Harry, but do they know about Ace?

“You want me to kill the link.” She turns her hand in his, gently clasping and lowering them, but not breaking the connection. The physical one anyway. She nods, understanding, even if she doesn’t like it. Establishing the link in the first place took effort, and they’ve held it barely more than a fortnight. It feels like a waste of her labors, and she does her best to smooth over that ripple as soon as it’s come. “We can do that.” Her thumb brushes over the side of his hand, assuring him of her acceptance.

It’s more than just concentration, it means he’s starting to experience the bleed she warned him against. He’s not as impenetrable as they may both have thought. If he’s infected by her own emotions, the results could be disastrous in the heat of the moment, when it counts the most. “That’s probably for the best,” she agrees, leveling out as they start making this into a plan.

Nodding her head, Odessa watches Ace’s eyes for a long moment, trying to read something she can’t with her other senses. “If it comes to it and you need to intervene, I want him alive. If at all possible.” But she’s a realist.

Ace frowns at the request. He's much more a fan of completed murders than attempted ones. But he leans in to press a kiss to her forehead, and then turns for his office to go unlock the gun case within it.

Odessa peels off to the bedroom and the locked chest where she keeps her knives.

Phoenix Heights

There’s a bluetooth receiver clipped to the spaghetti strap of her camisole, a leather jacket layered over the top of it. Her phone is in her pocket with the line open to Ace, who’s taken up his perch. Odessa takes one deep breath. “Alright. Going in,” she warns.

Then, she lifts her head, resolve steeling as she makes her way down the block from where the car waits. There’s a knife tucked into each thigh high boot, which makes her feel more secure. The lace hem of her skirt barely brushes the tops. Odessa Price always prioritized fashion, and that’s the image of herself she wants to present to this spectre of her past.

She tries to recapture the way she felt then, when she was still a ward of the Company; when she still had dealings with Agent Thompson. Head high, long spine, gaze cool, portraying the woman who believed herself untouchable. This is the armor she chooses to wear as she moves forward.

The address Odessa has come to is a residential building. A detached house flanked by two homes flatted by war. The eastern fence of the Safe Zone is less than a block away, though at this hour of afternoon and with so much smoke still in the air, the fence itself is lost in the haze. The house is boarded up, vegetation overgrowing the front and sides of the small lot it sits in. A little two story home, perfect for a family.

Coming up the curb, though, there’s a sense of something amiss. A tingle that runs down Odessa’s spine and causes the hair on her neck to rise. The house, with second story windows that look like gouged-out eyes, with a yawning front door that looks like a screaming mouth. Something about this is familiar.

Something about this screams, I’ve been here before.

She hesitates just a moment, a tremor of anxiety running through her. Odessa studies the placement of the windows, mapping out in her mind where she’ll want to physically steer whatever encounter awaits, imagining sightlines.

There’s no attempt made to silence the sound of her boots on the floor when she steps inside. She’s meant to be here, she’s not afraid. This is what she wants to telegraph. Still, she doesn’t call out, she’ll wait for an indication of where to go.

The walls in the house are wood paneling. Odessa’s blood turns to ice.

There's corpses everywhere, black-suited men with crisp white shirts stained with blood. One lays in a doorway to stairs, horrifically burned down to the bone. He's still crackling. Some of the men are twisted like they were made of putty filled with bones that now show themselves in broken disarray.

The floor has a brown shag carpeting that is blotched with blood. Furniture is broken and in disarray. The doorway behind them no longer leads to Raytech, it goes outside of a suburban home in a flat, dry, evening landscape.

The walls in the house are wood paneling.

But they replaced the floor. Hardwood. The railing is new. But the geometry is the same. Abandoned, stripped of furnishings, decades apart. But this is it. The moment she set foot inside she knew. Without a shadow of a doubt.

The basement door in the kitchen, visible all the way across the house from the entrance, stands wide open.

She knows this house.

I’ve been here before.

Is the mounting fear her own, or some echo of this place, like Nuojin He Jia? Odessa looks at the staircase up first, then around the rest of the space. Rationally, she knows there’s nothing left here of whatever life she must have had in these walls. Still, her hand touches the new bannister as she thinks about it, if she’d remember more if she explored.

The basement door is open.

“Stay put,” she murmurs for the benefit of her listener. She steps in front of the windows, looking out once, wondering if her husband can see the look of apology on her face as she shakes her head and moves deeper inside. Odessa never has been a big fan of basements, but she descends the staircase anyway.

And the line goes dead.

The scream of a child emanates from the basement.

No, that’s just her mind playing tricks on her.

There is the remains of a handgun a few steps down the stairs, drooping and molten. Another agent lies in a heap of gore at the bottom of the stairs, most of her insides sprayed out her back when she was cracked open like a lobster. The wall behind her is painted with her blood, and blonde hair rests in a curly tangle down the side of what is left of her face. Her gun is a few feet away, and there are shell casings lining the floor around her. Not a single bullet hole in any wall, though.

None of this is real. The stairs are empty. Old, wooden stairs. Not even the same make as they were before, because no solvent on God’s green earth would get out all that blood. The stairs still creak as she descends. No giant face, no screaming Desdemona Desjardins reaching out from its mouth. There are no monsters here. None except the ones in her mind.

The basement is empty, save for an old washer and dryer sitting up against the far wall. No ghost of Mateo Ruiz, no spectre of Rene. Nothing but an old man in an ill-fitting blazer, half illuminated by the light coming in from the high basement windows.

“Hey kiddo,” Thompson says with the tired voice of an old man, “long time no see.”


They had both come full circle.

No monsters, except for the one that lives inside her skin. Maybe the one across the room.

“What is this?” she asks, eyes scanning the basement, mind filling in the empty spaces before she snaps back to Thompson. Does he know she remembers this place? Is it a test? She keeps the screaming internal, instead fixing him with a level stare.

“You know as well as I do,” Thompson says with a shrug, which seems accusatory until it suddenly isn’t. “Way I hear it, we’ve both been down this road before,” he explains with a wave of one empty hand, the other hanging loose at his side. He isn’t even armed. “They told me to send you the tape, and wait here for further instructions.”


Thompson is so much older than the last time she saw him. His hair has turned fully white. He’s hollowed-looking, not frail but nearly. Stress has eaten a hole in his heart and whatever’s happened between then and now has stretched him so thin she can almost see through him.

“They had one for me, too.” Thompson says, looking down at the floor. “A tape.” He looks back up at Odessa, expression sagging. “I was on it, but, y’know, I don’t remember any of it. Occupational hazards I guess. But,” his brows crease together, “anyway. She should be here soon.”

“They who?” Anger at this being somehow even worse than she may have anticipated is all that keeps panic from showing. “Who the fuck are you taking orders from here?” It isn’t that she thought he was acting alone — there’s always been someone to call the shots — but he seems not to know the significance… And she believes him. The former Agent Thompson exudes not even a trace of malice, no disgust at the sight of her, no resentment. He’s just tired. She sympathizes.

“I’m leaving.” Odessa’s voice is firm, she’s already starting to turn. Sympathy isn’t going to keep her here. He may not be the danger, but someone else is. “If you have any sense, you’ll do the same.”

Years ago, curiosity would have encouraged her to stay. Survival instincts have sharpened since then. Now, everything inside is screaming at her to run.

“Angela.” Thompson says at Odessa’s back. “She’s alive.” He doesn’t have the strength to argue with her. Whatever this is, Odessa can sense his heart isn’t in it.

One boot lands in a loud clomp! on the first step when that name leaves his lips. Odessa’s head snaps back to look at him, followed by pushing off to whirl around the way she came, stalking forward until they’re within arms length of one another.

What?” Her eyes search his face, looking for some sign of a lie. “You—” There aren’t words for the confusion and uncertainty. Angela Petrelli is about the last person she ever expected to hear from again.

“God’s honest truth,” he replies, making a half-hearted sign of the cross. “I had about the same reaction.”

Angela Petrelli does not manifest in the room like the Wicked Witch of the West. She does not descend from the sky in a bubble. She arrives precisely on time in a late model Lincoln Town Car with a clunking engine. The vehicle pulls up out front, tinted windows obscuring the interior. Angela exits from the back, white hair done up and wrapped in a thin black coat suitable for this weather, even if the black fur stole is not.


Up on the roof from afar, Ace has been on edge since his headset chimed a Call Failed notification into his ear. He regrets and does not regret not being tangled with Odessa in this moment– unable to verify from afar what's happening below.

He's supposed if they were going to do anything here to Odessa, it would be to take her. It's what keeps him still and waiting. When the Lincoln arrives, though, his eyes narrow and his head returns to the scope of his rifle. The white-haired woman is unfamiliar, and Odessa specified the contact was a he, singular. The addition of others into the picture, as the woman goes into the building his wife has disappeared into, changes his willingness for patience.

He never should have let her walk in there alone. With the beginnings of a scowl, he lays his beloved rifle aside so she remains propped up safely when he disappears like a smudge scrubbed out of reality a moment later.


Odessa could hear the sound of a car approaching, door closing. She can sense the presence just before she can hear the sound of footsteps up above, and Thompson looks up toward the stairs. “Guess it’s time.” He says, blinking a languid look down to Odessa. “Who were you expecting, anyway? The ghost of Charles Deveaux?” He says with a laugh.

Her eyes shift away from her watching the ceiling, tracing the path of quiet anxiety above them. Maybe whoever’s come to call — with it’s Angela or someone else — is just as scared of her as she is of this unknown. It inspires a vulnerable honesty in her as Odessa shakes her head at Thompson. “I have no idea.” Certainly not him, either. “Maybe Bennet,” she quips half-heartedly, the corners of her mouth twitching.

“You’re not afraid this is a clean up job?” she asks, almost an afterthought, watching the stairwell for the telltale shadow.

“She’s had plenty of chances. And clean up for who?” Thompson challenges. “Company’s gone. I’m tired, and I’m old. You could clean me up by mixing my heart medication.” He jokes.

“You sell yourself short,” is a voice like an echo out of time.


Angela Petrelli’s voice has barely changed since the last time Odessa heard it, save for a slightly flintier quality. But the woman she sees descend the stairs is not the dark-haired matriarch of the Petrelli family, it is a gray-haired old woman who is no more invulnerable to the passage of time than Thompson is.

“I’m glad you came alone,” Angela says, though it isn’t clear to whom. “And I’m sorry for all the theatrics, but I had to be certain you’d come, and that I could limit my visibility. There are people out there who would go to terrible lengths to get to me if they knew I was alive.”

Still, Angela spares Odessa a smile. “I miss the old you.” She says, wistfully.

It strikes her heart like a knife, making Odessa’s jaw a little tighter. “Makes two of us,” she admits, when she’d meant to say that Angela isn’t the only one out there who has to hide. “It’s been a long time, Mrs. Petrelli.” She still defaults to the old, polite way of address, like she’s still a teenager showing deference to one of the Founders.

There’s a sea of conflicting emotions within her. She remembers a kind woman, with warm eyes and a warmer smile, however reserved. Angela was so refined and always seemed so composed, like the proper ladies in the old movies she used to watch. Sophisticated, in control. All the things Odessa wanted to be.

But the Company had lied to her her entire life. This place, with the new floors and the new fixtures to hide the evidence of the massacre that had occurred here, stands as a testament to those lies. Even then, Odessa feels a sense of the necessity in lies. She’s always been fond of them, after all.

“What is this about?” Odessa shakes her head, showing her confusion. She’s softer now than the sharper edges she wanted to display. “Why us, and why here?” Blue eyes search for answers in the lines of Angela’s face just as much as she hopes to find in her words. “Why after all this time?” Notes of nervousness float from Angela, hanging in the air and Odessa is not yet sure of the melody.

“This is about you,” Angela says in that all-too-familiar judgmental mother tone. Haven’t you figured that out already? Past interactions come back for Odessa. She’d almost forgotten what dealing with Angela Petrelli is like.

“And it’s you two and this place because this is where it started.” Angela explains, gesturing to the house. “This is where you killed nine Company agents. This is why we kept you in a cage for most of your adolescence rather than in the care of parental handlers. This is why we separated you from Mateo Ruiz.”

Thompson raises one hand. “And I take it you wiped our memories of all of that? Because I feel like I’d remember cleaning up after this mess.”

“We did,” Angela says quietly. “But memory alterations are not permanent solutions.”

Thompson crosses his arms and looks down at his feet, brows furrowed in thought. Angela, however, takes a step closer to Odessa. “What about you? Has being here jogged anything from your memory?”

Odessa unconsciously mirrors Thompson’s posture, crossing her arms under her chest. Her shoulders hunch up, and she fights back feelings of being an awkward teenager again. There’s a distraction from that little trip down emotional memory lane, however, when a familiar ping hits her radar.

Of course, he couldn’t stay away.

Roaming the floor first, like she’s just feeling anxious, Odessa brings her gaze slowly up to where she can feel Ace standing. She never quite gets the sightline level, but she approximates well enough that he at least always knows when she knows. It looks like the middle distance to anyone else. “I’m fine,” she says quietly, as if that’s the first part of the answer to Angela’s question.

“I…” Blinking, she brings her attention back to the older woman entirely, finding it so strange to not be looking up at her. Maybe that’s part of what she misses. “I remembered a while ago,” she admits. She points across the room to where Mateo was huddled against the wall, and she implored him to be not afraid. “You found me over there,” she tells Thompson. “Rene had to use his ability to stop me.”

Worry creases Odessa’s brow, and she picks at the seam of her jacket sleeve with her thumbnail. “Did I ever do anything like that again?”

“Not like that.” Angela carefully chooses her words. Thompson, meanwhile, looks at the space Odessa pointed to, then back to Angela, waiting for an explanation. Perhaps that’s too much to hope for.

“Let me ask you this, then. Have you ever heard of Raffill Township in Utah?” Angela asks either of them. Thompson shakes his head.

“I don’t remember ever going to Utah.” Thompson states, glancing to Odessa.

“The only time I’ve been—” A huffed exhale, a correction, a mimicry of Thompson’s emphasis. “That I remember having been in Utah is when they had me locked up in Moab,” Odessa replies with more ease than she ever could have expected when referencing that horrible place.

Her eyes dart between Thompson and Angela. She doesn’t dare let them stray toward Ace again. “Why him?” she asks with a tip of her head toward the former agent. “What’s he got to do with what I can do?” It’s not like he was ever the One of Us to her One of Them, after all. Although her mouth twitches faintly and briefly at the dark joke that it’s not like she’d know.

“Because you won’t ever find Raffill Township on a map. Because you’ve both been there. And because figuring out what happened to the town might be the only thing standing between the three of us and whatever happened there happening again.” Angela says with a tightness in her voice. None of this explains where she’s been for the last ten years, how she faked her death, or what is really going on.

“If it’s all the same to you, can I pass?” Thompson says, making a sour expression. “I’m retired. From the Company, from the Ferry, from all of this bullshit.”

Angela flicks a pointed look at Thompson. “We don’t get that luxury, Eric. I’m sorry.”

Thompson doesn’t have the energy to argue with Angela. He remembers enough to know it’s never gone in his favor before. Why buck tradition?

Odessa offers a sympathetic smile to him and his desire to walk away from all of this. Yeah, her too.

“There was a Company agent from the UK,” Angela says, crossing her arms, “James Quill. He and Robert Bishop were the two senior agents assigned to the Raffill Township disappearance, according to partial records. That video tape I had Mr. Thompson send you,” she says with a motion to Odessa, “was found by SESA in a storage locker in Manhattan. I had someone on the inside copy the tape when they learned what was on it.”

Angela looks at Thompson, then back to Odessa. “Both Robert and Quill are dead, leaving us few means to research what happened. But the reason that it’s you here and no one else is because I consider this both a personal matter, something that should be resolved internally, and maybe a shape of things to come.”

Those dark eyes fix on Odessa. Angela is acting like no time has passed at all, true to form. “Because if the United States Government finds out that you caused that town to disappear, no amount of masks and no amount of running will protect you.”

Quill. That was the name of the field researcher Odessa saw in the video. That, at least, was something not erased from her memory, just lost to time and unimportance. Until now, anyway.

Solved internally, she mouths while looking at Thompson, a bit of commiseration. They’re both still wrapped up in their Company ties, and likely will be until they die. A breath is exhaled through her nose, like a note of bitter laughter as she looks away toward the wall.

That little defeatist reverie is snapped out of when Angela drops the equivalent of another Midtown explosion in her lap. Odessa lifts her head, eyes wide with shock, chest tight with fear of the implications. “That’s not pos—” She cuts herself off. The massacre she caused here shouldn’t have been possible either.

How?” The blonde shakes her head quickly. “How do you know that?” Something stirs inside of her and her fingers begin to fidget subtly at her sides, feeling out of habit for something lost to her. “When?” she asks instead, the horror edged into her voice. “When did I do that?”

“Like I said, memory manipulation is not always a permanent solution.” Angela says as she adjusts her fur stole. “As for when, we’re not sure. Sometime between 1990 when the incident happened here, and 1992 when the Company tried to assassinate Doctor Zimmerman.”

Zimmerman?” Thompson says in disbelief. “Fuck, I haven’t heard that name in forever.”

“That was him on the tape,” Angela says to Odessa. “We don’t know what the experiment he was performing there was, no records of it survived. But we believe he may have involved you as a test subject.”

Thompson paces back and forth, then shoots a look at Angela. “And the tape you showed me, all that weird shit? Why not just burn ‘em and be done with it. Nobody but us knows, let the past die where it lays. Why dig it up?”

It’s an honest relief to Odessa to see Thompson start to get agitated, even if it’s bleeding into her. The idea of him just rolling over was getting to be unsettling.

Angela looks down at the ground. “Because sometimes, no matter how much we may want skeletons to stay buried in the ground, someone will go digging one day. I’d rather be able to explain the bones before I’m standing over them.”

“And where the fuck have you been all this time? I thought you were dead?” Thompson asks with a squint.

“Oh, please.” Angela says dismissively, and nothing more of it. Looking to Odessa, Angela deflects the question entirely. “I can’t make you help with this,” she admits. “Nor would I try. But we stole your childhood from you, Odessa. The least I can do is offer a chance to claw some part of it back—to find closure. Answers.”

The fury that had started to build in her abates in an instant, and it shows in Odessa’s eyes. This is her choice, and in its way, the admission of what was done to her was an apology. Tears well up in her eyes and spill down her cheeks without her noticing. They trace a path down her face, forking paths around the apples of her cheeks where one follows the curve of her jaw, and the other slips between cheekbone and nose before meeting her lips. It’s the taste of the salt that finally draws her attention.

“You do realize you’re falling into the same patterns of abuse, right?”

Odessa reaches up and wipes her face, carefully pushing upward around the edges of her eyes, hoping the dark liner around them doesn’t smudge too badly. “You have answers you can give me now, if you want me to trust you. Start with his.” She gestures to Thompson before crossing her arms. “I heard you killed yourself to avoid prosecution.” It’s not like it’d be the first time someone faked their death. It also wouldn’t be the first time someone came back from it. All Odessa needs to do is look in the mirror for confirmation of that.

“A little dramatic, I’ll admit.” Angela says, shadowing her eyes with the dark fringe of her lashes. “But it served its purpose. But no, I didn’t die, and I certainly didn’t take my own life. I’ll let you imagine the particulars of how I faked a cadaver and all of the post-mortem examinations that would follow, but suffice it to say I knew a handful of people who still owed me favors.

Thompson lets out a dry, ragged laugh. “You’re still a queen bitch, you know that?”

“It’s a bitch’s world.” Angela opines. “As for you, Mr. Thompson, I’d like you to see what you can do to help Ms. Price should she require an extra pair of hands and eyes. In exchange, I’m going to see what I can do about the request you made.”

Angela is purposeful in stating that Thompson is asking for something. As if to fill Odessa in on a secret, so that Thompson can’t play coy with his motivations or personal, vested interest. What she also doesn’t do is spell out what he wants. She’s willing to out someone so far, but this time not all the way.

Odessa feels that’s hardly fair, given the way Angela outed her entire identity to the former agent, but she doesn’t argue. “Bitches get further,” she offers in agreement to her instead, runs her tongue over her teeth. “How’d you find me?” Just days ago, she was reveling in the fact that her new guise was working for her. That she was safe.

Angela said she had eyes in SESA. Odessa finds herself immediately willing to blame Noah Bennet but won’t feed that conclusion to her. “And how did you remember what I did here? And don’t just say memory manipulation isn’t a permanent solution.

A ripple of amusement like a snort of laughter layers itself over a pool of pride for that comment, one floating nearby Angela's shoulder.

“Then you won’t like my answer,” Angela says with a smug smile. “Suffice it to say, I remember. I was made to forget, like so many of us were, but I recall now.”

“Feel like fillin’ me in?” Thompson asks. “Because apparently I was here? How’d she kill anyone as a kid.”

Angela considers Thompson’s question, looks down at the ground, then up to Odessa. “I’m not sure,” isn’t the answer she was expecting, and Odessa doesn’t feel the usual emotional texture of a lie, but rather the trepidation of the unknown. “But my money is on it having something to do with that town’s disappearance in the nineties.”

Thompson grunts softly, scrubbing a hand at the back of his neck as he considers Odessa, then looks back to Angela. “And what if the trail on this is cold? It’s been more than thirty years for Christ’s sake, and we’re talking decades of memory wipes and—I dunno if you looked around after you pulled your head out of the sand—but there was a little war too.”

Angela lets Thompson’s brusque nature roll off of her as though she were draped in goosefeathers and his sarcasm a mild rain. “Not all stories have a satisfying answer,” she says with a small shrug. “My goal here,” she says, blinking her attention over to Odessa, “is to make sure you know you’re not alone. That there are people who are willing to protect you as recompense for past sins, and that whatever happened on that tape… should it get out… would ensure you never live a normal day for the rest of your life.”

A fate that Angela, it would seem, is striving to avoid.

Odessa’s breath catches in her throat. You’re not alone. “What do you mean?” She sucks in a sharp breath, steeling herself against more tears. “I don’t understand.” Shaking her head, she hugs her arms around herself a little tighter. “You locked me up for my whole life because you knew I was dangerous. And now you’re sorry?

It could easily sound like accusation, like she’s saying it’s too little, too goddamn late. Intead, there’s just confusion. An honest why. “Even I understand why you did it.” Pressing her lips into a thin line, Odessa is truly at a loss. “Why aren’t you just… putting me into the ground?” Her gaze flickers just past Angela’s shoulder when she says that. That’s not an invitation to do that to them, Ace. “Who are you working with, Angela? How long have you been trying to keep me safe?”

“Apparently since you were born,” is Angela’s succinct answer. “I just wasn’t playing with the full deck of cards pertaining to your history until recently. I’m still not convinced I am, but that’s another issue entirely.” She glances at Thompson on saying that, then back to Odessa.

“The Company locked you up because we knew you were dangerous and we wanted to keep a close eye on your development. The reasons behind that became muddied behind paranoia, compartmentalization, secrecy, and conspiracy. So the justifications we believed as true for a long time were just wallpaper over a window.” Angela says with a small shake of her head. “Yes, I am apologizing. No, I don’t expect you to accept it. But this isn’t about me, and it isn’t about my apology. It’s about preventing something worse from happening.”

Angela tenses, looking down at the floor. “And you know I can’t tell you who I’m working with.” She says with a small squint, only then looking back up at Odessa. “For their safety and yours. No one knows the why of this meeting except me. I think for all our sakes we should keep it that way.”

Fuck,” Odessa breathes out, quelling an instinct to apologize for her French in front of the Petrelli matriarch, like when she was younger and used less harsh words. “That’s probably true,” she admits, regarding Angela still not having a complete picture of Odessa Price.

Her lips purse small with her frustration, because she knows Angela is right. She can’t show Odessa her hand, because of who might then know too much, and might use that knowledge to prevent them from averting the next crisis. That doesn’t make it less frustrating.

Gaze turning warily to Thompson, Odessa holds it there for a moment before turning it to stare off past Angela’s shoulder again, playing like that frustration of hers is making it difficult to look him in the eye, maybe afraid to lose her nerve — something — when she says, “Go upstairs. I need to talk to Mrs. Petrelli alone.”

“The fuck do I look like, your grandpa?” Thompson says with an unhelpful shrug. Angela angles a look at him with half-lidded eyes. He knows the look. “Fine, whatever. This shit’s making my head spin anyway.” He says with a dismissive wave of one hand, heading up the stairs.

It saves Odessa from firing off a go fuck yourself in response to his acerbity.

Once Thompson has left, Angela turns her attention back to Odessa. There’s an expectant look in her eyes, waiting for whatever it is that comes next.

While she waits for her husband to make the choice to listen to her or not, Odessa tears her gaze away from the stairwell and back to Angela. “We should put as many of our cards on the table as it’s safe to,” she agrees belatedly. “What blanks can I fill in to help… Whatever it is you’re trying to do. Because you’re not here to be altruistic. You’re afraid something is going to happen. So, what can I tell you that will help you avert that?” This part is safe to talk about in front of Ace. What she really wants to ask… She’s not ready to talk about it in front of him.

For whatever reason or reasons, the ghost in the room moves… but doesn't move on. First he cycles over to the empty area where the laundry used to be, and ultimately settles somewhere to Odessa's right. It's the closest he can to insisting to remain by her side in this.

Her head tips slightly in his direction, acknowledging the movement. They’’ll talk about this later.

“There’s no time for that right now. This isn’t the right place or the right moment,” Angela stresses. “We’re out in the open. This moment is about you, and putting you on a path that is conducive to you still being alive and not rotting in a jail cell when the time is right to talk more.”

Stepping closer to Odessa, Angela slowly shakes her head. “But I will impart a piece of information on you that I trust will make it to the relevant parties.” She doesn’t clarify who that is. She might not even know. “You know what I can do. You know what my ability is.” Her expression is intense, focused. “I dream the future, I interpret the signs, I Cassandra my way into an ulcer when no one listens.” She says with a roll of her eyes. “But do you know what I saw in 2011? In the days leading up to the eighth?”

Odessa doesn’t like that answer, but she understands it. Somewhere along the line, she’s gotten more pragmatic, less demanding about having the whole picture revealed to her. Or maybe she’s just gotten used to the idea that it never will.

And what she’s being offered right now is, admittedly, a huge olive branch. That sates her need for knowledge some.

So, she nods her head. “I know.” Angela’s ability is awe-inspiring to Odessa. And of all the abilities she’s been covetous of over the years, it has not been among them. “Please. Tell me what you saw.”


Silence hangs in that basement for a moment. “I saw nothing, Odessa. Whenever I dreamt it was darkness.” There’s a gravel to her voice at the end, a fervor in her eyes that Odessa has never seen before. “Then, after the 8th, it all came back like a blow to the head.” Angela glances down to the floor, fervor draining from her eyes, replaced by something colder. Something deeply-rooted. Fear.

“Do you know what I sometimes see now?” Angela asks, looking up to Odessa. “Coming in fits and starts, just like it started to after the riots in 2010?” Her jaw trembles and she whispers. “Nothing.

Odessa stares in silent horror, mouth slightly agape and eyes wide. “What?” Reaching out, she rests one hand on Angela’s shoulder if only to hold on to something tangible in the moment. “That’s not—”

Possible? The painters had only blank canvases to show, hadn’t they? This has all happened before, and they’d averted it then, hadn’t they? They can do it again.

Or maybe it’s all finally catching up to them.

“Angela, we’re…” The younger woman draws in a shaky breath, trying to hold back her fear and keep it from bringing her to tears. “You know all I’ve wanted is to find answers about who I am, but… I don’t think we have the time.” If things weren’t so dire, she might actually laugh at that, like a joke at her own expense.

Blue eyes close and Odessa turns her head away, to the right, her chin dipping in toward her shoulder. She’s about to reveal the largest lie of omission between herself and her husband now, and it’s why she’d wanted him gone.

“The world is ending, and I’m doing everything I can to stop it.” Swallowing down that bitter pill she’s delivered, Odessa straightens her gaze again. “I don’t have time to go to Utah and try and figure out my past.”

There's an eerie lack of reaction first to Angela's revelation, and then to Odessa's omission. Once the noise of Odessa's own emotions quiets enough, there's hardly anything at all for her to read in the room aside from the woman she stands closest to.

Ace, so much as he exists in his current state, is a pool of calm acceptance. His curiosity has given way to something less dejected than resignation, more passive than peace.

After a certain previous conversation they'd had… he'd figured something like this was coming.

“The world is always ending, Odessa.” Angela says with a patronizing tone. “How do you think we ended up in this situation?” Her jaw sets, tense. “You don’t screw with time. It’s called the butterfly effect. You step on a butterfly today, three years from now a million people are wiped out.”

Angela closes her eyes, drawing in a slow and steady breath. She was angry, she was blaming Odessa, but deep down inside she knows she shouldn’t. “Find the time,” Angela says. “Or don’t. I can’t make you do anything, that much I think you and I both know.” She glances back at the door, then to Odessa. “I’ve told you what I needed to. The rest—do or die—is up to you.”

Odessa withdraws, arms wrapping around herself as she reckons with the landscape of Ace’s emotions and the way Angela Petrelli can make her feel like she’s fifteen again. “Well, I suppose we’re all lucky I have no dominion in that realm anymore.” It leaves a bitter taste in her mouth and she sniffs hard, looking down at the floor.

Voice low, she relents. “I’ll do it.” Because she’s being asked. Because it’s important enough that she’s being asked. “How far am I supposed to trust Thompson, though?” Her head tilts toward the stairwell without looking up. “Is whatever he’s angling for from you enough to get him to trust me?” Odessa shifts uncomfortably, lifting her chin, but not her gaze.

“Thompson dedicated the latter part of his life serving as a coyote for the Ferrymen. He ran a commune in Canada. I think you might find that behind the prickly surface, he’s a very different man from the one you used to know.” Angela explains, keeping her voice down. “Additionally, I think you of all people understand the act of penance.

Angela turns, not answering anything about the leverage. “I wish you the best, Odessa. I don’t know if we’ll see each other again.” And coming from someone who sees the future, that uncertainty is not comforting.

Odessa nods her head slowly. She gets it. If Angela says Thompson at least won’t be seeing her as a threat to be actively neutralized, well, that’s good enough for now.

Her eyes show her worry when she looks back at the dreamer again. “I hope we do,” she says sincerely. “Thank you for all of this.” A deep breath carries her through another strong wave of emotion. “I’m sorry for my part in… everything, too. For whatever that’s worth.” The chalk has sat on the slate too many years for it to ever be properly wiped clean. This is as close as they’ll get.

“Be careful.” For a moment, she loses the battle. A sharp breath ends with the first note of a whimper that she shuts down almost as soon as it starts. Odessa smiles as well as she can, given the way she’s just waiting for her chance to break down. “If… If things don’t go right, find me again before November.” While Angela may not be able to see it, she knows why.

Angela blinks a look over her shoulder at Odessa, then ascends the stairs. She spares only a few words for Thompson, ones that go unheard by Odessa, and then she leaves the house. Thompson, it seems, is in no hurry to return to the basement.

Odessa lets out a shuddering breath, sagging forward now that she’s no longer expending the effort to hold herself upright. She doesn’t sink to the floor or anything, but she just allows herself to look as worn, world-weary, and weighed down as she feels. “We need to have a talk about trust, Ace.” She turns her head to the right to look to where she expects the man to appear now that they’re alone. “Another time,” she concedes before he can argue with her.

“I’m sorry.”

"The phone went dead and a second person entered the house," Ace excuses himself in soft tones. "I wasn't going to leave you alone for this." He turns away from looking up the stair to brush a hand over Odessa's cheek, knuckles grazing skin.

"There's nothing to apologize for," he insists as an absent afterthought. Then his eyes meet hers. "If you need to take some 'personal time' for this investigation, now is a good time, at least. Claim mental scarring from the fires, that you need time for yourself."

“All I have to do is tell Valerie and Kaylee that I have a pressing personal issue and Raytech will give me leave.” She turns to Ace, eyes finding his. “You think d’Sarthe will give me up for a time?” It isn’t her role on stage that’s in question.

"He was feeling particularly generous leading up to these fires. Just tell him it relates to the attack on Raytech." Ace glances to the stairs. "Or I can. But first, finish up here."

“That’d be nice,” Odessa says numbly. “See if you can spot who Angela came with.” She sincerely doubts the woman traveled alone. She’s too valuable. “I’ll see you at the car.”

He presses a kiss to the side of her forehead and then disappears again, his emotional signature going with it.

She smiles faintly and closes her eyes, gathering composure with a deep breath, promising herself she won’t cry until she’s safely in Ace’s Porsche with the doors locked. Maybe not even until they’re on the move. At any rate, she won’t make it home before it all crashes into her.

Letting out that heavy sigh, she turns to the staircase and makes her way up step by step, head held high by the time she reaches the landing. Meandering her way to Thompson again, she eyes him for a moment.

“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” Odessa says, subdued. “How much time do you need before we get started?”

“Less time than you and your boyfriend needed downstairs.” Thompson says out of the side of his mouth from his perch by the front window, watching the street. He glances back at Odessa, expression knowing and flat. He doesn’t care.

“I’ve got everything I need at the hotel I’m staying at.” Thompson says, without specifying where that is. “Here.” He withdraws an extremely cheap cell phone from his jacket pocket, offering it out to Odessa. “It’s an absolute piece of shit, but it has my number programmed into it. You call me from anything else, it’s going straight to voicemail.” If she didn’t know any better, Odessa might think that Nokia is older than Thompson is.

Odessa’s back straightens, the muscles in her jaw growing tight. She palms the phone and turns it over in her hand, giving it a brief once-over. “He’s my husband, actually,” she corrects, almost absent-mindedly. The device is slipped into her jacket. “You planning on bringing anyone else in on this?” She already suspects the answer to this, but confirmation is never a bad thing.

“No.” Thompson says, and though his expression remains as stoic as ever, Odessa feels a knife-deep pang of grief in the center of his heart. That’s not a no, it’s a they’re gone. Thompson steps across the floor, standing—unknowingly—right where he was when he came through the door behind Arthur Petrelli all those years ago in Odessa’s fragmented memories.

“Tell your husband that he lowers the barometric pressure when he creeps around doing whatever he does, makes my knee ache.” Thompson advises with a furrow of his brow. Decades on the Company, decades hunting people with abilities, mentor of Noah Bennet. Thompson isn’t just good at his job, he’s the best.

You need anything before I go?” He asks her, which is unlike her recollection of him.

Odessa can’t help but let out a breath of laughter. Really? That’s a tell she never would have expected. “I’ll be sure to pass that on,” she remarks with that faint amusement. There’s a desperation to grab for anything that isn’t fucking despair these days. Especially in this moment.

“Give me your phone.” She holds out her hand, pausing a moment. “Please.” Odessa still has manners. “I’ll give you my other numbers. So you don’t have to send shit addressed to my name next time you want to get my attention.” She lowers her gaze for a moment. “I’m sorry. I know this isn’t something you want to be roped into. Guess it’s the curse that comes with being one of the best.”

Blue eyes lift to his face again, expression solemn. She doesn’t just mean she’s sorry he’s along for what’s sure to be a horrible ride, but also that he doesn’t have anyone else he would fall back on. She knows that loss too well. “Do you need anything from me to make this work for you?”

“I gave you a phone with my number in it, I don’t wanna call your Yamagato spyware tracking device.” Thompson says with a frown. “We need something, we use those. As for my needs…” Thompson slides his tongue over his teeth. “Nah. I’m good.”

Unwilling to entertain the conversation any longer, Thompson moves to the door and raises one hand in a lazy farewell. He gets the same in return, but with a small wiggle of fingers. “Call me when you’re ready to fire up the Mystery Machine,” he says over his shoulder, walking out onto the front porch and out of a house that gives him a sense of both vertigo and nostalgia all at once.

It leaves Odessa in the house. Without the shag carpet. Without the formica table. Without the blood, the bodies, the screams, and the past.

It leaves Odessa as an encounter with Angela always does: with more questions than answers.


Holy Cross Cemetery
Phoenix Heights

Eric Thompson is a man of few words. Not for reasons he’s proud of, but it’s the man time has whittled him down to. Standing now amidst a rambling row of headstones, amid a drizzle of freshly falling rain, he regards the memory of someone he considered a friend. Someone he’d planned on connecting with on his return to New York. Someone who could have—would have—helped.

Instead, he found a headstone.

Barbara Zimmerman
Sister, Freedom Fighter, Hero
August 24, 1974—October 23, 2020

“Sorry, kid.” Thompson says with a subtle narrowing of his eyes.

“You deserved better.”

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