Hand Me Downs


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title Hand Me Downs
Synopsis Odessa finally confronts the ghost of Cindy Morrison.
Date May 4, 2021

Oh well uh, you might think I'm crazy
To hang around with you

Blonde hair swishes from side to side, a swing of her hips and socked feet across a tile floor. Rianna Price flashes a look across the kitchen at her awkward and long-limbed dance partner, then curls a finger at him with a lopsided smile.

Or maybe you think I'm lucky
To have somethin' to do

Colin Price lip syncs into a wooden spoon as he gyrates across the kitchen floor to Rianna. The radio reverberates off the walls, pounding from the living room with the electric keyboard and guitar beat of the Cars.

But I think that you're wild
Inside me is some child

But step-by-step, the teenage girl duck-marching into the kitchen from the living room joins their band with a thrashing air guitar, her dark hair swinging from side to side with each shake of her head. Cindy Morrison laughs delightedly as Colin takes Rianna’s hand and twirls her around on her toes.

You might think I'm foolish
Or maybe it's untrue

At a distance, it looks perfect. At a distance, their life is full of hope. And for a little while…

(You might think) You might think I'm crazy

…it was.

(All I want) All I want is you

Thirty-Seven Years Later

The Clocktower Building
Red Hook
NYC Safe Zone

May 4th

6:17 pm

A light rain has started to fall since Odessa Price left Elmhurst.

You might think it's hysterical
But I know when you're weak

Music from her headphones drowns out the city noise as she steps out of a yellow cab. The Clocktower Building rises up from the curb under the starless evening sky. Through the glass front she can see the copper-plated lobby in all its Art Deco finery.

You think you're in the movies
And everything's so deep

Odessa slips a wad of money to the cab driver and steps away from the car up onto the curb and under the entrance awning, out of the rain. Inside, she can see two familiar faces waiting for her in the lobby. Monica Dawson and Aria Baumgartner. Odessa had the good sense to call ahead. Monica had the good sense to bring backup.

But I think that you're wild
When you flash that fragile smile

When you’re the inheritor of the Company’s legacy, Charles Deveaux’s legacy, you can never take enough precautions when people come calling.

You might think it's foolish
What you put me through

As Odessa steps to the glass lobby door she doesn’t see herself in the reflection. She sees Ouriana Pride/. A visage that is split in half when she pulls one side of the double doors open and slides her headphones down around her neck.

(You might think) You might think I'm crazy—

Already vulnerable from the sweeping sense of dysphoria that grips her at the sight of the reflection that’s not her, but is, part of Odessa flares with anger at the sight of Aria Baumgartner. A target that slipped through her fingers. An agent of the man who ruined her lif

No. That’s Odessa Woods’ memories and emotions swelling to the surface. Price takes a deep breath and pushes it all down again before she lets the dead woman inhabit her entirely. It isn’t truly like a possession, but sometimes Odessa loses herself to one of her other lives and confuses what’s her and what’s… her.

“Ms Dawson. Ms Baumgartner.” Odessa smiles politely, nodding her head. “I’m so grateful you agreed to meet with me.”

Monica doesn't smile, although she does greet Odessa with a welcoming nod. "You'll find Richard's recommendation goes pretty far here," she says, her tone amused. It goes pretty far, although it isn't airtight. Not when Monica has resources at her disposal. But, despite Odessa's reputation, she isn't tossed out on the street or denied entry. But obviously isn't being given free rein of the building.

"How about we head to the offices, and you can tell me how I can help you today," she says, gesturing with a mechanical hand toward the elevators. She clearly doesn't think Odessa wants to discuss whatever it is in the lobby. She looks over at Aria, nodding her invitation for her to come along, and starts the small group toward the upper floors.

Aria returns Odessa’s greeting with a polite smile and a nod, but doesn’t interject with Monica’s business and lets the Society’s leader speak for herself. Instead, she parts from the group and moves to the brass-plated elevator doors, calling the penthouse express lift. The doors rush open within moments, and Aria steps inside, holding the door for Monica and Odessa.

“If there’s anything I can prepare for you two when we reach the penthouse—tea, coffee, wine—please let me know,” Aria says as she watches the two approach.

“I, personally, would love a glass of wine, if it’s no trouble. Thank you.” May as well be honest about the kind of evening she’s having. After being turned out by Peter, after it seemed like they’d been doing so well, she could use the drink. Odessa gives one more smile and nod of gratitude as she boards the elevator.

Yes, she’d much prefer to discuss what she’s here to discuss somewhere with more privacy than the lobby.

As the elevator ascends, she looks to Monica. “I have two requests today, I admit. Though I… I have a far more personal stake in one of those than the other.” Realizing her shoulders have been hunched, her posture one of defeat since before she ever arrived here, she straightens her spin and pulls those shoulders back, lifting her chin as well. “I know Cindy Morrison is being looked after here. I need to see her.”

There’s little point in holding back, dancing around, or lying about her investment in the woman. Odessa leads with it. “She’s my sister.”

Monica tilts her head as she looks at Odessa, an eyebrow ticked upward. "Oh yeah?" It's a casual question, as if Odessa had only commented on something as mundane as the weather. "Literal sister or is this a Company Kids thing?" She's silent then, watching the numbers rise as they do, until the elevator stops.

She hasn't brought them to Cindy Morrison's room, but to her own offices. She steps out, waving Odessa in and toward a small, but comfortable seating area. "Have a seat, if you like." She looks over at Aria, shaking her head a little. Monica hasn't gotten used to— and at this point it seems unlikely to ever happen— people bringing her things like drinks and snacks. Aria knows she'll wander off to get her own when she decides she wants something, rather than making Aria play fetch for her. Her attention refocuses on Odessa, though, as she drops into one of the chairs herself.

"The last time someone came here using Richard's credentials, they came to murder. Took advantage of his connections and reputation, you might say. And Cindy Morrison is in a particularly vulnerable state. Her care and protection has fallen to me and I take that responsibility seriously. Now, I understand the importance of family, but I think all of us here know that family doesn't always mean safe. And that it's very easy to show up and claim sisterhood to someone unable to argue the point." For all that Monica's words are quite blunt, they don't carry much accusation with them. They don't have the sense of slamming doors and blockades, but rather… a map, a trail marked difficult terrain. An invitation for Odessa to attempt to cross it.

Aria offers a look at Odessa, then smiles softly. She doesn’t inquire about what kind of wine, but rather turns with a knowing and purposeful stride away from Monica’s office toward the penthouse kitchen, leaving the two to discuss matters while she retrieves the refreshment.

Odessa nods in recognition of the hospitality being shown to her and makes her way into the office at pace casual enough to let her take it all in, without being deliberately slow. That she hasn’t been brought to Cindy is no surprise. In her opinion, it’d have been a foolish mistake. Monica’s stance — made abundantly clear — actually brings relief to the visitor. “Thank you. Thank you for looking out for her. For— For her, for me, for Jacelyn.”

The question about the nature of their familial association brings a rueful smile to Odessa’s face, and she answers only once she’s settled in a chair and had a chance to take a trio of steadying breaths. “As for who we are, it’s both, actually. She was a ward of the Company, my parents adopted her. Our parents were killed and… I became a ward of the Company.” One leg crosses over the other, her fingers lacing together over her knee. The casual posture is a deception. It puts up a front to protect the breaking of her heart.

“We were never told about our relation to one another. Or, if we were, it was redacted from our memories. I don’t… remember meeting her, but I feel like I did. Like I must have…” A glance is given over her shoulder toward where Aria is pouring her wine — somehow, she knew she wouldn’t have to specify — then back to Monica. “I know you don’t have any reason to believe me on my face. How can you trust someone who says their memories are redacted? But…” Odessa glances down to her hands, then back up to Monica again. “Are you familiar with Walter Renautas?”

For Jacelyn hits Monica in a strange way. She shifts, momentarily quite clearly uncomfortable. Did the girl even know the circumstances of her birth? Did Odessa know? Did they understand how Cindy Morrison was used in the most dehumanizing way Monica could imagine using a woman?

She decided not to ask. Maybe another time.

"It is a very convenient situation to claim if one were inclined to lie. Especially since we all know removing memories was one of their favorite pastimes. But, I do know it was one of their tricks." Which is to say, it's easy to question and also it's easy to believe. Monica doesn't know which way she leans yet.

"I've met him. Renautas." She doesn't offer more than that, and it's again difficult to tell her opinion on the man or how their meetings have gone. It's clear that Monica Dawson is pretty good at compartmentalization. She doesn't say more, leaving the floor for Odessa to continue.

Aria returns in the silence between moments, offering a glass out to Odessa with an approving nod. She glances to Monica, then softly interjects with, “Emerson has some security reports ready. I’m going to give them a review and if there’s anything I think needs to be kicked up to you I’ll let you know.”

With that, she excuses herself from the office with a polite nod, this time shutting the door behind herself as she goes. It leaves Odessa with Monica and the emotional current weaving between the two.

Odessa takes the glass with a murmured thanks and a short series of bobs of her head to Aria. While the telepath is excusing herself, her blue eyes turn downward to her drink, which she takes a sip of after a moment. The riesling meets with her approval, being just the right amount of sweet.

If she knows the full circumstances around Jac’s conception and birth, she isn’t showing any awareness. Is that better or worse?

“I don’t know if you’re familiar with Caspar Abraham as well, but he had the ability to take memories from people and imprint them into objects. He liked pennies. My father had retired from the Company and was trying to live what appeared to be just… a normal life with my mom and Cindy.” Her voice gets soft, small. Ourania looks down at her lap again. “And me on the way.”

Though she lapses into silence after that, it’s with a resoluteness that shows she intends to continue. “Renautas showed me. Our mom and dad sitting at the dining room table, about to celebrate their birthdays — they were both born the same day, so talk about fate, huh? — and they talked about what to name me. Michelle, Kara…”


The blonde shakes her head. A sad smile flickers, gone as quickly as it comes. “Abraham shows up to the door and asks to talk to them about Cindy. They sit down to dinner together and discuss what the Company wants her for. Needs her for, I guess. Cindy… convinced them to let her go, because she has a big heart and just wants to do right and protect others.”

Her eyes fix on Monica for what she has to say next. “Abraham took her to his car, drove around the block, then stole her memories of our family from her. Everything. He took all of it to make sure she’d be compliant. Because while he was doing that, our family was being murdered to make sure they wouldn’t interfere with what the Company had planned for her.”

Odessa doesn’t hide the tears when they come, doesn’t try to make her sniffles any smaller or hide the way her little hiccuping gasps sound wet. “Nobody cared if I survived. It wasn’t intended for me to. But I did… And my birth killed my mother.” The glass of wine is set off on a side table in favor of using her hands to wipe at her face. “When the Company found out that the baby survived, they snatched me up and took me in to raise me. My memories are kind of patchy until I was a young teenager.”

Closing her eyes and giving her head one last firm shake, Odessa looks up to Monica again. “I know that’s a lot at once. Ask me anything.” She’s even resolved not to lie about any of it.

"Thanks, Aria," Monica says, giving her a nod that serves as acceptance of her task and a farewell. She knows the team will be at the ready. They always are.

She turns back to Odessa, though, quiet as she listens to the story, to how the two women are connected. A frown twists at her mouth, easing only when Odessa passes the baton back to her. Taking in a breath, she pushes herself up to her feet and takes a few strides over toward the windows. The view. It is a lot, Odessa and Cindy's past, but possibly less difficult to digest for people familiar with how the Company worked. And the kind of shit they liked to pull.

"You said," she starts, after a few moment's silence, "that you had two requests." She looks away from the view, back to Odessa, brows lifted. As far as questions go, that seems to be the only one on her mind.

With no comment passed about her recounting of her checkered and sorrowful past, Odessa takes a moment to pull herself back together. “My father was working on a project for the Company before he retired. It was called Umbra. Whatever he saw while he was working on it… He… nearly ended his own life over it.” She squirms in her seat. It’s an uncomfortable topic for obvious reasons, distressing for someone of his family.

“So, I’m trying to find the files. Whatever it was he was working on, it’s meant to stop… the Entity that attacked Detroit.” Odessa watches the view out Monica’s window for a few seconds before turning her eyes to the woman herself again. “There’s no digital records left. Everything’s gone. But I was told… I was told that the Deveaux Society came into possession of the hard copies.”

Odessa straightens up from the slow lean her shoulder had settled into against the cushions along the back of the couch. Spine straight, shoulders back, chin up, expression earnest. “The Entity is a virus, and I need to figure out how to create the inoculation.”

"Yes, the digital files got gutted," Monica says, her hands moving to her hips. She's still annoyed about it. Paper files are a lot less efficient. And papercuts are less likely with a digital database. "Not my choice." Her tone is wry as she looks back over to Odessa. Not much about her situation at the moment has been her choice. But she's doing her best with what she's got. "It'll take some time to get through the files to see if we have anything on that. I've been trying to re-upload them, but it's slow going. And because I don't want them accessible…" She trails off, waving her hand in a vague gesture.

It's complicated.

"But if it's something Entity-related, I'll make it a priority. But you might have to— Just prepare yourself for it having gone missing decades ago. Our predecessors thought the best inoculation for that particular virus was to erase any and all knowledge of it. It, the Entity." And yet, here they all are, chatting about it. So she happens to think that was not the best solution they could have come up with.

She comes back over, perching on the arm of a chair. "And Cindy? You want, what, a visit? You should be prepared for that, too. She is aware, she knows what's around her, but she… she's shut down. Locked in. If she were to give you any reply or acknowledgement, it would be a shock to everyone here. And, of course, we can't let you in there alone. She's been misused terribly and I don't want her to have to go through anything else… upsetting."

The soft chime of the penthouse elevator arriving can still be heard even through the closed door of Monica’s office. Through the tall but narrow window beside the door, Monica and Odessa can see Jo Bevilacqua returning from errands in town. It’s a natural ebb and flow of traffic through the penthouse. Beyond Jo, Monica can see Aria and Emerson in the lounge passing a tablet back and forth as they go over security updates.

How did this become Monica’s life? Somehow between here and the day Kimiko Nakamura threw her out of Yamagato Industries she had come into control of one of the most expansive information networks in the country, of a group of spies and conspirators that worked as kingmakers for the Praeger administration. Monica is still attempting to understand the full scope of their influence in the scraps of paper trail left behind by the organization’s three enigmatic stewards.

Now Monica is here, being petitioned for access to information and people. The responsibility, the power. None of which she asked for, and yet all of which it feels like has been waiting for her.

Odessa glances over briefly, noting the activity. It puts her on edge a bit, but only because of the delicate nature of her ask. “I’m offering, if you want to make use of it, to help you comb through those records. I used to do it the old fashioned way when I was younger, so it’s not an annoyance to me.” She smirks faintly. “If anything, it’s almost nostalgia.” Still, she shrugs. “I know my father was onto something. Maybe it’s gone, but… I have faith. He knew something.”

But the second part, that’s more important to her than any dusty record. The blonde draws in a breath, long and slow. She takes a moment to silently acknowledge the gravity of Cindy’s situation. “I’m not here to upset her. I just… Yes, a visit. I just want to see her. I know better than to hope she’ll say anything to me. That’s not what I’m looking for. I just want to see her face. See her alive after all these years.”

Tears glisten in Odessa’s eyes. She needs a second or two to herself, looking down in her lap for the illusion of that. Coming back to Monica, she smiles sadly. “I know her situation is… It’s one of the worst things I can imagine. But she’s in there, and that means maybe somehow… I can find her again. She can be found again. She can be led home.”

All in all, this is not a place Monica ever saw her life going. She watches the others through the window for a moment, her head tilted as if curious. Mostly, she's curious if she'll ever feel settled in here, holding all these reins. But she sets reverie and doubt aside to look back to her visitor. The offer Odessa makes seems to have gotten her attention.

She laughs. Just a small sound, a bit of disbelief escaped on an exhale and accompanied by a smirk. "I don't think that's necessary. My people are on it. As I said, I'll make it a priority and if I find what you're after, I'll pass it along." She goes quiet as Odessa goes on, an eyebrow lifting. The more emotion Odessa displays, the more distant Monica becomes. Emotionally as well as physically. She moves across to a sleek sideboard to pour herself a few splashes of whiskey before she turns back to regard her for a long moment.

"Well, that's all very noble. And touching." Her voice certainly doesn't reflect any sincerity there, more like the dry desert than the welcoming oasis. "You can see her. You'll be monitored. So will she. If there are any hints that she's at all uncomfortable or if you try to get something from her, we'll ask you to leave." Ask is doing a lot of work here. It's clear the asking will be a formality, an opportunity for Odessa to save face, should things come to that. Or lose face, as she likes. Monica takes a sip, then crosses to the door to her office to lean out.

"Emerson, Jo," she says with a nod two the two women, "Our visitor wants to see Ms. Morrison. Can you prepare the staff?" She looks over at Aria then, giving her a gentle nod. "If you're up for it, I could use your eyes on the meeting."

Of course, eyes is also a word doing a lot of work here.

Odessa nods her head quickly, mutely at first, one hand pressed to her mouth while the overwhelming emotion plays out on her face. After a steadying breath, she agrees to the terms. “Yes. I’m not going to— Yes. Please, protect her. If I’m upsetting her somehow, please tell me.” It’s a dual-edged sword to know that she’s not trustworthy, but to also know that Cindy’s wellbeing is taken seriously. “I absolutely welcome Ms Baumgartner’s presence.”

Emerson and Jo turns from their conversation to the door to Monica’s office and slip into motion without a moment’s hesitation. Aria lingers, moving to Monica’s side with the same grace she’s slipped into the side of many an influential figure in her life.

“Always,” Aria says with an incline of her head. “If you need me…”

“I’m there.”

A Short Time Later

The Clocktower
Suite 312

“I’ll tell you what I’ve told others,” Aria says as she steps out of the elevator into a street-facing hallway on the third floor of the Clocktower Building. Hannah Emerson lingers behind Aria and their guest, a silent red-haired sentinel.

“To the best of our knowledge, Cindy Morrison suffers from a form of LIS or Locked-in syndrome. Where most people with this condition are fully aware of their surroundings, Cindy’s experience is different.” Aria’s voice is crisp and smooth as she leads Odessa down the hall. A wall of windows at their left faces out to the twinkling night-time cityscape of the Safe Zone. “Like LIS, Cindy cannot perform any non-autonomous body function, but where it differs is the region of her brain that is active: the temporal lobe, exclusively.”

Reaching a door marked 312, Aria stops and turns to face Odessa. “We believe with some certainty that Cindy can hear people but that her information processing is complicated by her mental state. We believe she is, rather consistently, dreaming. As such many things she receives from her environment may be subconsciously recognized. Though we have had incidents where she has reflexively acted out physically due to proximity or outside stimuli such as voices.”

Aria nods to Emerson who steps between them and unlocks the door, being the first to enter the well-appointed suite. Emerson turns on more lights in the comfortably lit residence, then steps aside and holds the door open.

“I ask that you stay out of arm’s reach for your own safety,” Aria says with a furrow of her brows and a momentary pang of anxiety. She isn’t asking out of any hypothetical, there’s a real risk there. But of what?

As they walk and Odessa is given the details of her adopted sister’s condition, she watches out the windows, half-aware of her own reflection. Muted as it is, she thinks she sees herself against the stars of the city. It gives her some measure of comfort where the rest of her is ill at ease with Cindy’s condition.

It’s not just the arrival, but the warning that brings Odessa fully back to the moment. She feels the current of Aria’s emotion and tilts her head curiously. “Has she been known to lash out involuntarily? Like a reflexive muscle response?” With a quick shake of her head, she means to indicate that her questions don’t indicate a lack of intent to follow the rules laid out before her. “I’ll take care with her, and keep my distance.”

“We had a guest here previously who got within arm’s reach.” Aria explains as she emerges into the brightly-lit living room. “Cindy reached out and grabbed her hand, and she… showed her something. Projected telepathic imagery.”

The large television on the right wall is off currently and Cindy is seated on a plush leather sofa across from it, draped in warm knit blankets. She is so much older than Odessa has ever known her. The ghost of a young woman is there in her long features, but they are marred by so many signs of age and stress. Her once lush hair looks somehow diminished and pale, streaked with gray. Her wide, wide eyes half open and unfocused as she stares at the blank screen.

Aria moves over to stand between Cindy and the television, then motions to a spot on the couch out of arm’s reach for Odessa to sit. “Cindy’s mind is a telepathic minefield. When we first brought her here I attempted to contact her and break her out of her locked-in state, but it was like… it was like something was fighting me. I was inundated with her memories, her experiences. Nothing intelligible, just a frontal assault that drove me out.”

Crossing her arms, Aria shifts her weight from one foot to the other. “We don’t know what happened to her for sure, or how long she’s been like this. We have assumptions, but no hard evidence to back any of that up.”

Jacelyn. Her niece told her about the incident and what she saw, and what of it she could understand. “Is that so bad?” Odessa asks with honest curiosity. “Showing something? Isn’t it a form of communication?” She holds her hands up quickly to indicate she doesn’t intend to cross the line.

Sinking down onto the couch seat, Odessa studies Cindy’s face, her heart breaking for how she looks so much older than she should. She wants to brush her hair, wonders if she’d find it soothing.

“We don’t know.” Aria says as she watches Cindy. “We don’t know what effect using her ability in this state has on Cindy, we don’t know what effect imprinting a psychic message has on the recipient. Any memory of cognition-altering ability can run the risk of causing lesions on the brain.” Odessa had seen as much in the aftermath of Rene’s memory alterations in Sandra Bennet and others.

“But, yes. It is potentially a form of communication.” Aria says thoughtfully. “We just don’t know whether it's voluntary or involuntary. We’ve been trying to get through to her for a while now, but very little seems to register. Whatever was done to her, it… it may not ever be reversible.”

Odessa has to believe that it is. She has to. Anxiously, she fiddles with the chain around her neck, taking care not to let her thumbnail click against the links and potentially disturb anyone. “I understand,” she says quietly, making sure to turn and look at Aria properly when she does so, conveying that she is taking this seriously.

“Cindy…” It’s strange to try to make an introduction now, after she’s been sitting there, talking about her as though she wasn’t there, so Odessa stops to think for a moment.

“I’m glad to finally see you in person. All I have is… fragments of other people’s memories of you. Of how and who you were before I came along.” Odessa smiles at the thought of the young Cindy she’s witnessed, and chides herself for somehow having expected someone who’d look more like her — let alone carry her vibrance.

“Your memories have been altered…” Telling that to someone out of the blue might not be helpful, and Odessa does regret her decision, but only for a moment. She would want to know. “But my mother and father adopted you…” She fidgets in her seat uncomfortably, self-conscious now. “You’re my sister.”

Aria looks away, wrapping her arms around herself as she tries to excuse herself from the conversation without leaving the room. Her eyes become distant, her expression remote. She is, for a time, a thousand miles away in her own thoughts. Cindy, in turn, has the same look on her face for entirely different reasons.

There is no recognition to Odessa’s confession. Just a silent stare from Cindy, vacantly focused on the far wall. A silence comes over the suite, long enough that even the muffled sound of the rain outside can be heard against the windows. Aria looks up from her silence, then looks back down to the floor. The silence, the void, feels oppressive.

“I'm told you're able to hear me, so I want to believe you understand in some way.” Odessa carries on with a resignation. “I'm sure that's incredibly selfish of me, but I've been told many times before that I'm good at selfish.”

Looking down at her lap, Odessa is quiet again, listening to the rain. Once she's gathered her words, she continues again. “Ever since I found out about you, I've wanted to find you. I grew up without a family. *Any* family. All I ever wanted was a family to care for me. And then I heard about you…”

In an instant, Odessa's eyes get glassy, the flash flood of tears spilling out onto her cheeks. “You'll never be alone anymore like I was. I just want to hug you so you'll know, but I'm told that's not safe for you…” The empath's voice cracks miserably as she huddles in on herself. “But I hope you know you'll never be alone anymore. Even if it's not me, everyone here is going to look after you until you wake up.”

Or until she goes to sleep that last time. Odessa has to press her mouth against her folded arms to muffle the sound.

Cindy shows no reaction, just stares vacantly ahead with glassy and unfocused eyes. Aria remains the same, trying to give Odessa what privacy she can afford. But her attention snaps back with wild-eyed confusion when she hears something she has never heard before.

Cindy speaking.

Thhhhrrr…” Cindy rasps, and it isn’t just a gurgle or an air bubble from her stomach. Her lips purse, she tries to vocalize something. Aria’s confusion has her frozen for a moment, and she looks accusingly at Odessa, but on realizing that she hasn’t closed any distance to Cindy, instead rounds over to the other side of the couch and takes a knee beside the older woman.

Monica! Aria’s telepathic voice calls out to the hallway. She’s trying to talk! Cindy’s trying to talk!

“Ms. Morrison? Can you hear me?” Aria asks, looking frantically between Odessa and Cindy. But there’s no real visual change. Odessa can feel something, though. An emotional stirring inside of Cindy’s consciousness.


Thhhrrrr…” Cindy tries to say again. It wasn’t a fluke.

Odessa’s eyes grow wide, her tears grow silent, save when she has to breathe and it comes in ragged. She doesn’t spare a glance for Aria, or look for anyone else. They’ll do what they will. Her focus narrows on her sister, gently teasing apart strands of emotion until she comes to the solid cores at their heart.

“Cindy?” The empath wipes her face and doesn’t lean further in, but slightly to one side, as if to look at her from a different angle and see something more clearly. She starts meandering her way through words that begin with the same syllable as they pop into her mind. “Thhhrr…ee? Through. Throat. Thread… Thrive. Thrall?” Worry. Odessa’s head lifts suddenly. “Threat?”

Monica proves not to be far away and comes into the room shortly after she gets the telepathic ping. She enters calmly, smoothly, as if it were by chance. Medical staff enters behind her, looking to manage the situation around the others as quietly as possible, so as not to ramp up the worry and excitement. Monica comes over to lay a hand on Aria's shoulder, glancing at the instrumentation to make sure there's no need to usher the visitors out of the room and let the medics do their work.

She looks over at Odessa next, giving her arm a pat, too. "Everybody breathe, okay? We don't want to overstimulate Ms. Morrison." She doesn't jump into trying to talk to Cindy, since the others have that covered, but she has her focus on keeping the room calm and orderly and being ready to act if this turns out to be an emergency.

She spoke.” Aria says in shock. But it doesn’t take long for Cindy to replicate the situation as the medical team carefully settles in around her.

Thrrr…” Cindy slurs again, her eyelids fluttering. Knowing the danger proximity to Cindy can represent, the Medical team carefully takes assessment of Cindy’s breathing and heart-rate, at the moment just looking to make sure she’s not in immediate danger, while keeping a close eye on Odessa all the same to see how Cindy reacts.

Thirrrrty-fffour.” Cindy manages to slur out, and Aria stands in wide-eyed wonder, trying to puzzle out what the otherwise mute woman is trying to communicate.

Price didn’t do anything, no physical contact. She just talked to her. I don’t know if she’s responsible for this or… Aria’s telepathic voice whispers in Monica’s mind. It’s intelligible. Probably having difficulty speaking because she hasn’t in so long.

“Thirty-four,” Odessa repeats quietly, indicating her understanding of the words, if not the meaning. Her first thought is how many years it’s been since their parents were murdered, but it only takes a second to recall she’s three years older than that.

As she did earlier, the blonde holds up her hands to indicate that she hasn’t overreached and isn’t intending to. She exchanges looks between Aria and Monica and shakes her head quickly. She trusts the telepath to tell what’s true. She suspects there’s a conversation happening in front of her as it is. It’s unnerving, but she doesn’t let it deter her.

Making a show of folding her hands in her lap, Odessa turns her attention back to her sister. “Take your time. I won’t go anywhere unless you or they indicate that I need to.”

Monica looks over at Aria at her mental report, giving her a nod to acknowledge. That and her not tossing Odessa out immediately are both decent clues to solidify her suspicions. But she turns back to Cindy, her expression leaning toward worry rather than relief.

"Cindy, don't push too hard. Like she says, no one's going anywhere. There's no rush." She glances up to the medical team, but since they're not panicking, Monica takes that as a good sign. But, too, she knows better than to assume this is a sign of impending recovery. Still. Hope lingers. "We're here. Whatever you need to say, we're here."

But there’s nothing. Cindy is silent again. The attendant checking Cindy retrieves a pen light from her pocket and checks her pupils and finds no dilation. She gives Monica a concerned shake of her head. “This could be an involuntary vocalization, or…” She doesn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up. “I’d really prefer if we could clear the suite, I need to call Doctor Coolidge and have her come down here to do an assessment.”

Aria takes a step back from Cindy, brows knit in concern. She offers a look to Odessa, one both sympathetic and firm as she gestures toward the door with her head. Then, dark eyes flicking to Monica, she directs a subtle thought: This could be huge.

Odessa nods her head in understanding the moment the nurse requests clearing the suite. While she begins slowly to shift her weight from the sofa, she’s reluctant to leave. Without crowding, she moves into a position where she’s in Cindy’s line of sight, if she were to see anything in front of her at all.

“Hey…” She smiles, concerned. “I hear you.” Her hand comes up, fingers curling around the chain hanging from her neck, bunching up with it the cloth of her shirt that overlays the delicate strand. That loosely held fist is settled unintentionally against her heart. “I’ll come back another time to hear you again.” Lifting her free hand, she just barely moves the fingers to wave. “See you soon, si— Cindy.”

Nodding one more time, Odessa makes her way past Aria and Monica to move into the hallway.

Past the sounds of Cindy’s breakdown. Past the abrupt silence that follows. But not far enough to escape the overlapping waves of confusion that emanate from everyone in the room, followed by concern, and then uncertainty as Cindy goes catatonic once more.

Odessa isn’t certain that her feet can carry her down the hall fast enough to avoid questions she either doesn’t want to — or can’t — answer.

But the tears blurry her vision says she’s going to try.

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