Forgiveness is Huge


odessa_icon.gif warren_icon.gif

Scene Title Forgiveness is Huge
Synopsis Four chambers, just a standard issue. But none had room.
Date April 1, 2020

Rikers Island

Rikers Island is an unpleasant place to visit and an even more unpleasant place to reside. It’s a landmass literally composed of garbage, and there’s never been much attempt made to disguise that reality. Odessa Price is perfectly, utterly miserable here, and it’s done nothing kind for the state of her mental health and wellbeing.

Learning who her latest visitor has felt a bit like kicking her while she’s already down.

Still, when told that Warren Ray was requesting visitation, she hadn’t turned it down. She’s already seated at a round table, occupying one of the two uncomfortable steel and plastic chairs. The room itself is full of long cafeteria style tables, and round tables larger than the one she’s chosen, as well as a smattering of the same.

If it weren’t for the jumpsuit, she might look like she was just on lunch, waiting for a friend. Sunlight from the window at her back illuminates the soft curls of her two-toned hair. Golden blonde at the roots and gleaming copper down the lengths and to the ends. Salon services are not a luxury afforded to prisoners like herself.

Her attention is focused on a clock on the wall, silently willing the second hand to stop in its progression around its face. Her lips purse just faintly in her concentration. Sometimes, she believes that if she tries hard enough, she’ll discover she really has retained the ability she was born with.

This has yet proven to be the case, but hope and boredom spring eternal.

"You don't look at all how I remember, are you really Odessa?" Warren squints, wearing a black and white striped suit not unlike Beetlejuice, then takes a seat in the other chair. "Sorry, I have to keep my head together for this, very difficult. I used my ability on the way in. I was curious if I could offer a prison escape as an olive branch. It's on the table, but my family wouldn't approve."

"Okay okay I have to keep my head straight…" He shakes his head, taking a deep breath. "My original plan was to give you a gun and let you shoot me, and then I realized that was the easy way out. I have… insight now, and reflection, a mental causal loop, a bunch of other Warrens from other worlds. Lots of life experience to help."

He motions to her with both hands, one identical to the other in size, except without features other than appearing reflective and chromium. Then he sits back, crossing his arms. "I realize that I can't simply find a solution to the damage that I've done to you. I can remember the awful things I've done to people now. My ability, and the causal loop, it undid the psychic tampering! So I remember a lot of things, even if it's all jumbled. And…"

Clearing his throat, he simply says, "I want to know what you want me to do, because I don't know how to fix anything, or make things better for you. No matter how much I think, I can't figure out what's the best thing to do."

Then, tilting his head, he asks, "Would shooting me help? I could build a gun right now." He knocks on the table a few times. "Yeah, with this table, and these chairs… pretty easy." Then, another pause, and he says, "Sorry, it's hard not to drift."

The voice breaks her from her reverie of trying to stop the clock. Odessa’s head swivels swiftly in Warren’s direction. There’s anger in her eyes at first. Pain.

You don’t look at all how I remember.

Like she could ever forget.

“Oh, I don’t know,” is what she says, instead of snapping at him. Her posture relaxes, an easy smile cutting across her face, edges sharp. Eyes keen, still carrying some of that anger like a controlled burn. “I think Richard wouldn’t be too upset if you did.” Break her out.

That smile grows tighter as he forges onward. How many times had she thought about burying her knife inside of him? To the hilt. Repeatedly. Her fingers curl in toward her palms where her hands rest in her lap. He was going to let her hurt him? There’s no satisfaction in that.

No.” Shooting him would not help right now. Especially because she’d be the one in trouble for having a weapon and using it. It would be antithetical to the image of good behavior she’s trying to build.

The smile is gone now, her lips pursed tightly. She’s still so angry and she fears that she always will be. At least the years of having to casually cross paths with him in hallways (albeit as infrequently as possible, thanks to Richard’s interference) have allowed her to condition herself against the reflex that would cause bile to burn in the back of her throat.

Odessa is wary of Warren, but no longer afraid.

“I’m not sure you really appreciate what you did,” she asserts, owing to the fact that he says she looks different.

But maybe she does. Maybe it is just the red in her hair. But maybe it’s the years that have passed between the awful memory. Maybe it’s the way the world has molded her. Reshaped her. Hardened her. Odessa was softer then. The event he’s apologizing for?

That had shaped her too.

"I understand causing pain, what it means to cause pain. I know how it feels to feel loss. I understand the weight of my actions…" Warren says rather coherently, managing to keep his mind a bit more focused. He closes his eyes for a moment, trying to collect himself and his thoughts, then looks to her again.

"The things that I did, I used to say to myself, 'that other me did those things', or 'I did those things when I was fractured', but I understand the weight, and I don't want to say that. I did them, with my own hands." He stares down at his hands, then holds up his mechanical hand. "Not this hand, this is a new hand." he says with full sincerity.

"But, even if I can understand pain and loss, even if I can understand the weight of my actions, I can't understand what they are to you. I can't understand your pain, because I can't experience what it's like to be you." Leaning in, he rests his shoulders on the table, frowning. "Understanding people isn't easy, so I don't always know what they need, or how to make up for things I've done."

He looks around, and calls out, "Someone tell Zachery we need drinks! Is Zachery here?"

Zachery isn't here.

"I used to visit Eileen's cult, and there was a church where a man explained things like this, and doing things for other people. That what matters isn't what I think they need, but figuring out what they actually need." He holds up the cybernetic hand again, motioning to it. "I gave them my golden arm, that's why it's not gold anymore. I wanted to feed them. I thought they needed robots, and technology, but they just needed money and food. I didn't ask. So I'm asking you, so that I can learn what you need."

“A luxury I never had,” Odessa muses. Being able to blame the things that she’d done on a different her. Every action Odessa has ever taken, every cruelty and injustice, has been her own choice. She can’t even be mad at him for having had those memories blocked out. She was mad about it, and mad for what he’d done, but not for his inability to remember.

It hadn’t made her want to hurt him any less.

But he remembers now, he says. He remembers and it pains him. While not enough, it’s a start. She rolls her tongue over her teeth while he continues, huffing a breath of laughter when he mentions that it was a different hand that had been used in actions on his part. Naturally, that would be what he would stumble on.

Lifting her head to abandon the illusion of disaffected boredom she was attempting to project, she instead narrows her eyes faintly and concentrates on him, reaching out with her ability to try and read if he really is sincere about what he says to her. “There’s no table service here,” she quips when he calls out for a minion that’s nowhere to be found. Does he actually feel responsible? Or did Richard put him up to this somehow?

She knows the answer even without having to feel the layers of nuance in his emotions, jumbled mess that they are for a genius so chaotic.

Odessa’s head tilts to one side, her own confusion overtaking her need to be dubious for a moment. “Eileen’s what?” She shakes her head quickly, making a physical motion with her left hand as if to shove the topic aside. “Never mind.”

He’s asking her a question, and it’s an important one.

“You took something from me,” is how she chooses to begin her answer. “Until you came along… I thought I was safe.” Sure, there was a list of people where she knew that wasn’t the case, but it was a short list. “I thought I could protect myself from anyone and anything that wanted to harm me.”

Blue eyes lose their focus, like she can stare into the past and into the alleyway where he had found her. Like she could look up into that face of his… And she remembers the moment of realization. That she wasn’t safe.

All in the name of saving her from herself.

Her eyes shut now, both blocking out memory and making it sharper behind her lids. “You threatened to cut me into pieces, Warren.” Her brow creases, a look of accusation she isn’t throwing his way just yet. “Do you actually remember that?”

Warren's emotions are quite chaotic. Guilt is his driving emotion throughout this encounter, but they frequently and wildly jeer to other emotions in a way that likely isn't entirely natural for most people. But he finds his way back whenever he gets to the topic at hand, as if he's trying to steer an unsteady boat that he somewhat has a handle on.

He listens, and the guilt only increases, because he understands that he caused her this pain, even if he doesn't entirely understand the pain itself. But when she mentions what he said to her, there's something very sharp in his emotional state. Something distinctly like getting stabbed with a knife you weren't expecting.

"I didn't remember." is his answer, reaching in to gently touch his stomach, staring down as he tries to make sense of the emotion himself. The jarring pain. "It hurts to remember who I was. It's a feeling that I know I deserve, but I remember, when you said it I remembered. The things I did was Mortimer, the details, they're difficult… but things make me remember, they hit me."

Taking a deep breath, something he's done a lot so far, his emotions seem to gradually become more clear. He hasn't been using his ability, she may distinctly remember that his eyes change when he does. Every moment that they speak, every moment that they spend in this room, is another moment his mind becomes slightly more clear. He was using his ability for the entire journey into the prison, but now…

"I think about who I was, who I am now, all the people I've been. I remember Mort! The flood Warren. Or the one who worked in a fancy lab. Or the one who was mostly like the old me except he died faster!" He stares down at the table, the sharp pain returning to guilt as he begins to avoid her eyes. "I think about it. The person Linderman turned me into, the person other people in other worlds turned me into, the person the bald guy turned me into. But in the war, I slowly became myself, I undid it all, I even undid Kaylee's help. And I think, are all those people I was, were they me, are they still inside of me? Or is who I am now who I was always supposed to be? Or maybe it all happened and made me who I am? I don't know."

He finally manages to look up at her again, and meeting her eyes only makes the guilt grow more focused and intense. It mixes with sadness for whatever reason, confusion for others. "I don't want to be the person who hurt you."

There’s an irony in the fact that when he feels this pain for what she describes as her own, she feels it in return. It brings a rueful smile to her lips. So does his screed about having so many other memories inside of him. Memories that aren’t of the things he did inside of his own body. Inside of his own world. It pains her to have such empathy for him. Empathy she’d have even if not for her ability.

Because all of those other versions of herself are still inside of her. There’s no question of what is or isn’t. She knows this, and reconciles with it daily. To not have the clarity about it must be terrible.

“You will always be the person who hurt me,” Odessa insists, but not unkindly. “The question is if you’ll be the person who hurts me again.

His guilt. His pain. His sorrow.

These are the things she needed from him.

With a heavy exhale, Odessa severs the connection between herself and Warren, shoulders sagging from the relief of it when her ability disengages entirely. It leaves her feeling her own emotions more keenly. He had guilt regarding their collective past. She has fear.

Now it’s her turn to look away. From him, from the distant memory of his hand in her hair. A tear slides down her cheek. She pushes it all down like she always does. “I believe you can change,” Odessa admits finally, voice quiet. “I believe you have changed. That you’re working hard to… To not be what you were molded to be.”

Another unfortunate reality she can empathize with.

“And I believe that you’re sorry.” Her eyes lift again to settle on his face. “We’re not going to hug this out. You aren’t going to shake my hand. You will not touch me unless it’s absolutely necessary.” He is, for example, free to shove her out of the way of a bullet or something like that. And this is assuming she ever gets out of this place and they ever cross paths again.

“These are my terms. Are they acceptable?”

"I won't hurt you, I won't hurt anyone it isn't necessary to hurt. I used to worry that I would accidentally hurt someone, that I'd lose my mind and then just become awful again. But a lot of things helped. I have therapy, I built a robot helper monkey, got a deadly brain tumor removed. A lot of healthy steps." Warren holds a finger to his mouth, as if he's about to tell her a secret.

"But I have insight now, I can see what might happen, if what I'm doing might hurt someone. I can't right now, I didn't want anything to help me have this discussion… but I won't hurt you, I don't think I can hurt anyone anymore if it isn't on purpose. Well, I guess I could say some strong words…" But he shakes his head at the thought.

Then, to her terms, he nods. "They're acceptable. I've decided that I'm going to find a way to get you out of prison, except I'll do it legally! I have a plan. Don't worry, this year I became the second most intelligent person on Earth, so I can handle this."

"I took away your mental freedom, so…" He raises both hands in the air, a rather grand gesture of his arms, as he tends to make. "I'll return your physical freedom!"

Odessa wipes the tears from her face while Warren talks. What he says about his insight gives her pause. It brings confusion to her expression, even though she doesn’t interrupt him to ask for clarification. Clear through his promise to help her regain her freedom, to his grand sweeping gesture, she patiently listens.

Then, she laughs. A soft, breathy sound. “That’s very kind of you.” It would be easier to stay mad. “I do have a very good lawyer.”

Shaking her head, Odessa relents just a little. “If you want to try, I won’t stop you, but… Please make sure you’re involving your siblings.” They’ll make sure his good intentions don’t pave faster her road to hell.

Warren suddenly brings his arms in and raises his sleeve, revealing more of his chromium arm. He pulls the artificial skin open to reveal a touch screen. "I figured they wouldn't let me bring a phone in here, which is ridiculous." Then starts to type on the screen before lowering his sleeve again. "Alright, I sent a text to my siblings that I'm going to talk to the mayor."

Then he finally smiles, a bit of relief on his face. "Lawyers are great, but we have to think like Americans. If the government has something to gain from your freedom, they won't want you in jail. You're a scientist, I'm the founder of one of the largest companies in the world! If I say that your freedom is essential to the survival of mankind, or at least the invention of something very useful, surely they'll make a deal!"

His arm is glanced at. If anyone catches what he’s done, he won’t be allowed to come back with it attached to him again. If he’s allowed to come back at all. That, however, is his problem and not Odessa’s. “The mayor isn’t going to have much say in things, Dr. Ray,” she gently informs him.

“It benefits the government to keep me here.” After all, she’d been at PISEC because of her brilliant mind. But she doesn’t tell him that. In fact, she’s been very careful not to mention it at all. To anyone. The odds of being thrown into a deep, dark pit in order to ensure her silence seem much greater if she decides to mouth off about being put to work on potential war crimes. “You’re going to have to go higher up if you think you’re going to get any traction.”

"I'm rich, so surely there's something I can do. I'm going to start talking to other rich people to find out how they get their important people out of jail. Kimiko Nakamura! I'll ask for her advice. I've never met her, but I have a flawless plan to instantly earn her favor." Warren decides, then holds a hand up to reassure her.

"Trust me, I have millions of dollars, I've contributed technology to the entire world! I will get you out of here." He nods very firmly, he is sure of this.

So assured of himself. So convinced of his ability to solve problems with the power of his name, and his money. The audacity of it is like a bellows to the burning coals of her anger for him. It threatens to spring those flames to life again, and the struggle to let it simply remain smoldering plays out in her face.

“I find your arrogance vexing,” she admits. Still… “But your heart is in the right place.” Odessa sighs, resigned. “If you want to try this, I won’t stop you. Just try not to fuck up my chances at parole.”

Because if he does… If he does… For a moment, there’s murder in her eyes. How dare he come in here and act as though she needs his help? As though these gestures would be enough to erase all the pain he gave her. The scars no one can see.

But she’s seen another side of Warren — of Mortimer — in another life.

Another version of her, to whom the world has been so cruel, who’s had so much taken from her, looks at Warren through Odessa’s eyes, and still sees something good.

The burning fire in her eyes returns to a warm glow. Maybe just for a while, Odessa can borrow Destiny’s heart and leave her own in exchange. It’s not much for collateral, but she’ll be back for it.

And she can finally try to forgive him.

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