Handle It


elisabeth2_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif

Scene Title Handle It
Synopsis Chance facilitates a meeting between once and future colleagues. Threats are levelled and assessed.
Date June 7, 2011


The coffee is primal.

It's early enough that the crowds are all getting their morning coffee on the way to work. Elisabeth Harrison, waist-length blonde hair streaked with vivid purple, wears a pair of scruffy jeans, canvas shoes, two tank tops layered over one another. A backpack is carried over her left shoulder. She looks like any other college student near Columbia's campus as she slips into the Starbuck's for a coffee. Perhaps a bit older than some, but … New York's a bohemian kind of town even now.

The woman standing at the counter is remarkable from behind in that it's not often one sees a young woman with stark white hair down to her shoulders. (Even older women tend to keep their hair shorter than that.) From the front, she's even more so with a patch made of red velvet over her left eye. The colour matches her spike-heeled shoes and contrasts with her simple grey sweater dress. "Two venti coffees. One black, the other with sugar, no cream." Which is wishful thinking. Or tribute.

Or something equally eye-roll-worthy.

Odessa passes her cash across the counter to cashier and steps off to the side to wait for her order, adjusting the strap of her laptop bag on her shoulder. She turns and surveys the shop out of boredom. Her eyes sweep over Elisabeth, but with no recognition.

Unfortunately, Elisabeth recognizes just friggin' fine. Shit. And triple shit. Because if she turns and walks out, she's bound to draw attention. Instead, she lowers her head, letting her hair fall forward to hide her face a bit, appearing to dig for money. "Venti mocha latte," she tells the barista. Sugar, caffeine, chocolate, all in one wonderful package! She pulls her money from the bag and puts it on the counter, flickering a glance from beneath her lashes toward the woman with the eyepatch. But she'll wait to see if Odessa Price is going to take a table before doing anything at all.

Fortunately, it doesn't take long for coffee to brew. Odessa's getting her order and stacking it into a carrier and just about out the door when she decides to glance at her watch. And then she veers off to a table in front of the window, leaving the carrier to sit in the middle of it.

Coffee retrieved, Odessa takes a sip and then makes a face. Wrong cup. A marker is fished out of her bag so she can mark the white paper with a C, then exchange it for the other cup in the carrier, which she then marks with a D. She's long since gotten used to being stared at, so she doesn't bat an eye when she's given a second look.

Elisabeth waits a few moments longer for her own drink to come up. She takes is and wends her way through the shop. She plops herself into the chair across from Odessa, wrapping the table in a silence field, and hisses in a soft tone, "You have about three seconds to tell me how a woman who once ran a Ferry clinic and endured Moab prison has changed loyalties so drastically that she'd aid a Humanis First fucker. And if I don't like your answer, I'm going to put a bullet in your gut under this table and no one will ever know that you are bleeding to death where you sit. They'll never fucking hear it."

Odessa is mildly surprised when she's joined at her table by someone she doesn't— Oh, wait.


"Oh, not you too. Harrison, I expected more from you. I would have expected you to understand. Not everything can be as it appears." For all that she's acting nonchalant, every muscle in Odessa's body has slowly begun to tense up. And if she weren't so pale to begin with, Liz might actually be able to notice the blood having drained from the young woman's face. "I have done nothing with the intent of aiding Humanis First."

"Really." Elisabeth seems willing to listen. "Because in assisting the creation and dissemination of a non-evo flu with a 90 percent mortality rate, Odessa, you're giving those fuckers in positions of government power more ammunition than ever to send more people to Eltingville. You don't think they fully realize that there is no way in hell that virus could be mutating this fast without Evo help?" she asks silkily.

"All I am doing is attempting to develop a vaccine for this virus, Miss Harrison. And believe me when I tell you that I want to see it wiped out. I had nothing to do with its creation, only its treatment." In that much, at least, Odessa is telling the truth. "Once the outbreak began, the Institute assigned me to begin work on preventative measures to manage the spread of this thing."

Yeah. Because the Institute has everyone's best interests involved. "If you want that, perhaps you ought to talk to your new best buddy. I gather from one of my operatives you're keeping company with Yana Blite, and my understanding from him is that her ability is the source of this. So either you're lying your ass off, Odessa, or you're entirely clueless about the people you work with," she observes quietly. "Does it bother you at all that Humanis First is specifically targeting people you once helped?" she asks. "Or are you a pure sociopath?"

"Yes," Odessa responds. Vaguely, unhelpful. Yes, it bothers her, or yes, she's a sociopath. Hard to say. "If Doctor Blite is the root source of this virus, I have no knowledge of that. What I do know is that she's our best chance of beating it, and if not for her, I wouldn't have the research I have now." Slowly, she reaches for her coffee to take a drink. "You kill me here and you lose your best line of defence."

"Fft," Elisabeth dismisses. "I kill you here and I have to explain to Elle why I did. Because God help the damn girl, she still thinks you're her friend." Her tone alone will say that it makes no sense to her. "I probably thought the same thing in a future that I'm not about to let come to pass."

Odessa's eye widens momentarily and her mouth goes small. "I love Ellie Bishop. We've known each other since we were kids." She trembles for a moment, "She may be crazy, but it's not her fault. I saw what they did to her." And once upon a time, it made her smile because she had been so jealous of the other blonde. She still is in many ways.

She forces herself to calm down. Getting riled up won't keep her alive. After a deep breath, Odessa nods. "So you saw it, too. I don't intend to allow that future to come to pass either. We're on the same side more than you or your operatives realise."

That makes Elisabeth tilt her head. "The enemy of my enemy isn't always my friend, Odessa. Hell, the friend of my friend isn't always my friend." Odessa's a case in point. "Yes. I saw it too. I was five months pregnant, desperate to hide it from you — a co-worker — and terrified when unmanned jets streaked over to drop bombs to the north of us. What were you thinking in that moment?" she asks softly.

"You looked ill," Odessa says quietly, her expression suddenly solemn. "I was worried for you. And then you darted into traffic and I was prepared to bring every car on the road to a stop to ensure you would get across the street safely… The bombing was frightening."

Her brows pull together as Elisabeth studies the woman. "You are one of the bigger riddles I've ever chanced across," she sighs. "On the one hand you're associating with people like Blite and her ilk. And giving Devon Clendaniel names. On the other, those names lead the kid directly into a fucking ambush. I can't figure you out. Are you for sale to the highest bidder?"

"Sometimes," Odessa admits. "I told him he would be walking into danger. He put two bullets into my friend. What was he expecting? A hug and an offer to join the man for a beer? I told him to let it go." She shakes her head and stares down at the table for the space of several tense moments. When she looks up again, it's with a bit more of her usual confidence. "Did you want to make me an offer? I'm always open to negotiations."

Elisabeth grits her teeth. "I want you to fucking well pick a side, Odessa. The Company screwed you over. You and Elle have the chance to actually make something of yourselves, not just being pawns to one side or the other but making genuine contributions. And yet you're working for the Institute. Quite frankly, I don't think Simon will be even remotely amused to find out what you and Blite are doing on the side. And believe me when I tell you that if I send that message? I'll be the least of your worries."

Blite, she's pretty sure, is causing some trouble up there in the higher echelons… though whether it's trouble that's good for Liz's plans or bad the blonde isn't sure. She shakes her head. "That said, I don't do anything for Broome and his boss if I can help it, so … here's my offer to you. You get that bitch under control — you work with your boss Brennan and make it fucking happen, Odessa. And in return, I'll offer you a way out. I won't leave you to drown under the Institute's banner. And I won't leave you to rot in their concentration camp either."

"I'm doing what I do best." And just what is that, precisely? "I am making genuine contributions." Odessa leans forward to rest her elbows on the table, making a steeple of her fingers. "The pawn's fragility is deceptive. Once I manage to cross the field of battle, I will become the queen." Her head cocks to one side, mouth ticking upward at one corner. "I'm already well on my way through enemy lines."

The agent turns to peer out the window as though it doesn't worry her that Elisabeth is still presumably aiming a gun at her beneath the table. "You just remember that I hold no loyalty to the Institute when the time comes and your people lay siege to it."

"I don't think you're a pawn," Elisabeth says evenly. "I think you're just doing what you do best — looking out for Number One. But that means that trusting you is difficult, at best. Be very very fucking careful playing chess with the head of the Institute, Odessa. He will crush you into powder," she observes softly. She moves to pick up the coffee in front of her and slides out of her seat. "He is not a man to be underestimated. And I'm not referring to Broome, either."

"Yes… I believe he's already had me in check once," Odessa responds, following Elisabeth with her eye as she rises. "I'm already watching my back. You watch Devon's for him, won't you? Take away his matchbook. It's time he stopped playing with fire."

Elisabeth studies Odessa and shakes her head. "Get Yana Blite under control Odessa. I am not kidding. The only reason that bitch isn't already dead is that I have concerns about the virus continuing to mutate if she's out of the picture. But make no mistake. You help Brennan get her under control and get this fucking virus stopped — and yes, I'll help you get credit for that if that's what it takes to make it happen — or I'll take my chances with the virus itself and take her right on out of the picture." She smiles darkly. "Or I'll let Humanis First do it for me and leak the information as to where the virus is coming from to them."

"If you do that, you'll bring the war down upon our heads so much more swiftly than any of us are anticipating." Rather than a narrowed gaze and a steely tone, Odessa actually looks frightened. "I'll handle it. My involvement is on a strictly need to know basis, though. If Humanis First catches wind of any of this… We're all fucked. Period."

Now she moves to sit. "Why?" Elisabeth's tone is one that brooks no arguments. Odessa better fill her in.

"If Humanis First gets anything that even resembles confirmation that this virus came from an Ess-Ell-See Expressive? They will step up their efforts to eradicate the entire species." Odessa swallows tensely, glancing around as if she might find someone with a pin that announces them as a member of the group of bigots. If only it were that obvious. "The war will begin, and innocent people will die. If you tell Humanis First this virus sprang from an Evolved individual, that's it. Game over. They engineered the first virus in a lab. There's still a chance to spin this and make it look like this was the work of a scientist, not an ability."

"You're a fool if you think this can be spun to look like the work of science. It's mutating too fast," Elisabeth objects. "So how the hell do you think allowing her to keep on with this is remotely going to help matters?"

"I will handle her," Odessa insists. "We can reverse this. Diminish it. Send it into remission. But we can't if you tip off Humanis First. I don't care what you want to do in retaliation to the Institute, but you do not breathe a word of this to Humanis First."

"Right now, I could care fucking less about the Institute. Unless you're telling me they know about it and told her to do it," Elisabeth retorts sharply. The silence field for the win! She scrawls a phone number down, one of her burn phone numbers. "You keep me up to date on how you're fucking handling her, Odessa. She is not working to put it into remission. She is workign to spread it because the person helping her do it is in agreement that by wiping out 90 percent of the non-evo population, Evos will no longer be discriminated against!"

Odessa goes very quiet and very still when Elisabeth raises her voice. Then she stares down at the number wrote down for her and slips it into her bag. "I'll keep you apprised of the situation." She looks up again, nervous and as if waiting for the other woman to lash out. "Is there anything else?" she asks cautiously.

Though she raises her voice, no one around them looks at the two. The silence field is second nature. She blows out her breath and says softly, "Jesus H. Christ." Elisabeth looks… very weary. "I keep thinking we can change what we saw," she tells the one-eyed woman. "But I'm starting to doubt it." The admission is a costly one.

"It won't happen that way." Especially not if one side's numbers have been culled by ninety percent. "Don't lose hope. All is not yet lost." Odessa then reaches for her bag, and settles her coffee back into the carrier, grasping it by the handle. "I need to be getting to work or they're going to ask questions. I'll be in touch."

Elisabeth reaches up and rubs her forehead. "Yeah. Sure." Her skepticism is plain. But she makes no attempt to do anything further.

"Be careful out there." Odessa rises from her seat and slips out of the coffee shop to hail a cab. It's going to be a long day.

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