Help Yourself


odessa_icon.gif sasha2_icon.gif

Scene Title Help Yourself
Synopsis Odessa reports her findings to Sasha.
Date March 19, 2010

Speakeasy Hotel and Casino: Peter's Old Room

There is character to the room, if in the way that 'character' carries negative connotations. The paint is peeling off the skilful wooden moulding, the carpet is faded and the bedding looks old and tired. The painting hung behind the bed is so old as to be retro and the bathroom sports a clawfoot tub and a pedestal sink. Both leak and have hard water stains. The whole place carries a faintly musty smell, though it's clear the staff have attempted to keep it at least somewhat clean. The sheets are stain-free and the bathroom is always stocked with little bottles of toiletries. The windows are thin and let in a fair amount of traffic noise. The one good thing is that the old radiator keeps the room toasty warm in winter.

It wasn't difficult to secure the key to the room she had shared separately with Peter Petrelli while he was someone vastly different inside of his own mind. When the expected call came in, Odessa didn't hesitate to name room one-hundred-one at the Red Hook Speakeasy as her meeting location. There's not a whole lot to do while she waits beside lay on the bed and stare at the ceiling, waiting for a knock on the door.

Or check her reflection in the mirror for the billionth time. Odessa tangles her fingers in her hair, shaking it out, reapplies her red lipstick, fluffs the black petticoat beneath her red dress. Bell sleeves drape over her arms, obscure the splinted hand from view. One finger traces over the series of Xs made of black ribbon formed between rows of same-coloured lace in a decorative bodice, then comes up to rub away a smudge of black eyeliner. She considers rinsing her hand in the sink, but instead wipes the black of on the inside of her skirt. Lifting her sleeve slightly, she checks her watch again. This is what happens when she arrives early for anything.

At least she was able to make certain there wasn't some sort of ambush waiting for her. Even Odessa has to sigh at the sort of people she considers allies.

When the knock comes, it's sharp and brisk. Sasha hadn't sounded very well over the phone, and neither does the man on the other side of the door. A hoarse, rasping cough follows the knock, punctuated at the end by the sharp sound of someone spitting a mouthful of what is probably saliva mixed with something else onto the floor or into the handkerchief he holds in his gloved hand. Although Odessa can't see it, it's the latter.

Well, that somewhat confirms that suspicion. Odessa is quick to turn on her glittery red heels, which click on the tile before muting against the carpet of the main room. She opens the door, all doe eyes and Lolita-esque frills, wasting no time in ushering the other doctor into the room. "Right on time," she murmurs. Whether he is or isn't, it doesn't matter. She locks the room up tight after he steps inside, refastening the chain and throwing the deadbolt. "Have a seat wherever you feel most comfortable," she instructs politely.

Rather than take a seat, Sasha opts to lean a shoulder into the wall next to the door and keep the handkerchief covering his mouth. Between his fingers gloved in leather, Odessa may glimpse flashes of bloodstained fabric so dark that it appears black instead of red, and if it wasn't for the smudge of the stuff glistening at the corner of his mouth she might not be able to identify the fluid at all.

A long coat worn over dark slacks and a white dress shirt soaked in sweat aren't nearly as flashy as the clothes that Odessa has chosen to don for the meeting, but Sasha doesn't exactly strike her as a particularly flashy individual either. "Report," he mutters into the material of the handkerchief.

"Sit," Odessa demands, crossing to the bathroom to retrieve a hand towel and offer it to Kozlow in replacement for the handkerchief. "And give me that thing. It needs to be rinsed if not thrown out." She doesn't make the disgusted face one might expect. But Odessa's seen what people look like on the inside. A bloody handkerchief isn't much of anything to her. "You sit, and I'll report." Her expression is severe now. Doctor to patient.

When Odessa moves to take the handkerchief from him, Sasha reacts with surprising swiftness and seizes her wrist in that same hand, his fingers forming a tight clasp around the bone that does not yield even after he's wrenched it away from his face. He lets a haggard breath leak out through clenched teeth, jaw tight as if clamping down on it might help him restrain his other urges. Striking her, for one. His opposite hand flexes beneath his glove. "You do not tell me to sit when I prefer to stand," he hisses. "It is not as grave as it looks. Report."

Reflexes seem to be quick as ever. Odessa's dark blue eyes lock on Sasha's lighter hues. There's a brief dare there, before her gaze relents. Softens. Colour Doctor Knutson impressed. "So it would seem," she acquiesces. She doesn't make any move to pull her wrist from his grip. "Beauchamp has sent her parents back home. She seems to think she knows what's going on, but her puzzle is still missing pieces. Teodoro Laudani seems…" Dark blonde brows furrow. How can she put this? "Something is amiss. I have yet to discern what, but I suspect he's more emotionally damaged than we may have originally suspected. Perhaps unsurprisingly?"

Mascara-laden lashes flutter briefly against pale cheeks as Odessa glances down to her ensnared wrist. Still, she doesn't tug. She simply flexes her fingers once restlessly. "Francois Allegre dips in and out - though in less frequently. He's in the process of moving elsewhere. I believe all the residents have other havens. I can't quite follow Laudani all the way to his other hideaway without it being obvious that I'm tailing him. But I perhaps can earn his trust and see if he will take me there of his own free will." She raises her brows. Satisfactory so far?

It must be, because Sasha releases his grip on Odessa's wrist and paces away from her, his handkerchief, complete with embroidered flowers in one of its filthy corners, tucked back into the pocket of his overcoat. He runs his tongue over his front teeth to clean off some of the blood from them, but their pink cast remains, briefly visible when he curls his upper lip around a sneer and scrubs his sleeve across his nose, wiping it.

"With Ruskin and Jensen Raith," he says of Teodoro's other hideaway, which means that Odessa isn't the only one who's been charged with the task of watching them. "I have not been able to locate it either."

"I've got to hand it to them, they're thorough." Recognising the strengths of an enemy does not mean acknowledging a weakness in oneself. "But Munin and Raith should be." Odessa frowns in thought, resisting the urge to rub her wrist gingerly. She won't give Sasha any such satisfaction. "I've spoken with Munin. Asked her about E- Holden." The woman's eyes only lid briefly, not quite a wince at her stumble. Surnames are clinical. Impersonal. "What she told me," that is to say, not necessarily what is true, "is that she believes he is not in New York. He at least hasn't been in contact with her or her allies if he is. I'm inclined to believe her." If only because Odessa believes that if Ethan were in New York, Eileen would truly enjoy telling her, while refusing to arrange a meeting.

"My assignments are straying," Odessa murmurs, shifting her weight so one hip juts slightly and her good hand rests on the opposite. A casual, if somewhat bored posture. "Where would Dreyfus like me to focus my efforts? I have few limitations, but even I cannot be in four places at once."

"Dreyfus' boy was his world," Sasha tells Odessa as he arrives at the window and peels back the curtains in his fingers to steal a glance out at the snow-choked streets below. A robin with drab brown feathers and a rusty breast that had been perched on its concrete lip explodes into flight when he slams the heel against the glass with enough force to make the sound reverberate through the whole room.

A snarled curse later, he's throwing the curtains shut again and raking his fingers through his greasy hair. "I have begun to wonder whether or not his plans involve going down in flames and taking what remains of the Vanguard with him," he says, using his thumb to finally wipe the blood from the corner of his mouth. "We are more responsible for his son's death than the Americans are."

Odessa mutters a curse of her own under her breath as she watches the bird take flight. Birds always make her nervous. Has Munin been following her through her countless eyes in the sky? Dammit, Kozlow! Angered gaze flits from the window back to Sasha, holds stony for a moment before dipping down to stare at the way dingy yellow light reflects off red glitter.

After a few seconds, Odessa lifts her head and asks him, "Between us, then, what do you intend to do?" It seems to her that every member to pass through the rank and file of the Vanguard must at one time or another come to question the leadership they serve under. So it was with Kazimir Volken, and so now it seems to be with Carlisle Dreyfus. "If you of all people have plans to walk away, I would appreciate not being left to a sinking vessel."

At the window, Sasha angles a look over his shoulder at Odessa and makes a low noise at the back of his throat that sounds more animal than human. Men do not growl but wounded dogs do. He snorts out a sigh through flaring nostrils and uses the curtains to wipe some of the fever sweat from his forehead before stepping away from the window and shoving both his gloved hands into the pockets of his overcoat. Booted footsteps sloughing off snow onto the room's carpet carry him the length of it in uneasy silence that's eventually broken by a coarse, "Cannot."

"I remember saying that once," Odessa muses, crossing the sparse room to take a seat on the end of the bed. "I can't leave, I said. I must leave, I decided. And then I tried to leave." Red-painted lips twist into a wry smile. "And then he caught me," she somewhat singsongs. "Did you know Zhang Wu-Long?" She doesn't wait for a response. "Since he died, I tried to figure out why he came back, when he could have run forever and probably never grown as weary of it as some of the rest of us may have." The Chinaman struck her as a nomad in that sense. But there's a part of her that knows she didn't know him well enough at all to make such assumptions. "I think he came back for me. I think that's why he died."

Odessa breathes out a sigh through her nose. "I'm not telling you any of this to look for your sympathy, if you thought I might be so naive." Part of it is just to say it to someone. "Kazimir swore he would destroy everything I loved. I still don't understand what drove him to want to do the things he did." Her brows come closer together in faint consternation. "Dreyfus' motives I can understand. They make sense. But in some ways, I think he may be no better than Volken." And from what she understands of Dreyfus and his crew, there was no love lost in the former Vanguard leader's passing. "He has a knowledge of those things, doesn't he? What you hold dear." A meaningful glance is cast to the Russian's coat and the pocket wherein his handkerchief was tucked away. She nods her head to indicate as much. "That belonged to someone you care for? Men don't usually carry the embroidered sort."

"The members of Team Charlie are not the only men and women in the world with families," Sasha says, and it's the closest thing that Odessa is probably going to get to a concession. His hand closes around the handkerchief in his pocket, roughly rubbing the material between index finger and thumb, unable to feel anything except for the stitched flowers raised off the fabric. "Zhang Wu-Long had a wife and three small children," he reminds Odessa. "Ethan Holden has a daughter that he does not know about. Three younger siblings and an assorted collection of nieces and nephews for Jensen Raith. Do not forget how Dreyfus used your feelings for Gabriel Gray to recruit you to his cause. Everyone has something that is dear to them, kotik. Someone they love."

Odessa watches Sasha's face, trying to discern from the way muscles grow tense or lax whether or not that someone dear to him is still among the living or not. "Killing all those people won't bring Dreyfus' son back. It won't bring Sylar back." Is it grief that drives Kozlow to stay? Or fear of loss?

Cotton, lace, and crinoline rustle against the faded and worn fibres of the bedding as Odessa slides over far enough to pat the place she leaves next to her. "Indulge me a moment?" Her smile is genuine, inviting, but sad. "How did he find me? Why was I chosen?"

"You have a useful ability and a history that Charlie sympathizes with." Sasha's eyes drop to Odessa's hand moving across the comforter but he does not sink down onto the bed beside her. His body is too agitated with nervous energy for him to sit down or even remain standing in one place for a few moments at a time. "The pool from which he has to fish is very shallow."

Odessa nods slowly. "He's resourceful," she concludes. It makes him dangerous. Makes him hard to walk away from. "I can help you," she insists. "If you want to get away, hide someone, I can help you." Perhaps Charlie wouldn't, but Odessa understands Sasha's position all too well. "I want to help you."

By the time Odessa is making promises, Sasha's back is to her and he's already on his way to the door. "Your understanding of the situation is limited to a shred of fabric I keep in my coat pocket," he says, seizing the handle in his fingers and pushing it down beneath his hand's gloved heel. It pops open without resistance and allows ambient noise from the hall outside to drift leisurely into the rented hotel room. "If you are going to help anyone, Odessa, then help yourself. No one else will."

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