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Scene Title Hide/Seek
Synopsis Arthur pulls Odessa Woods off of an important assignment to hunt down a familiar face.
Date January 23, 2012

Pinehearst Tower

This isn’t an ordinary day.

Arthur Petrelli rarely ever looks concerned. It’s hard to blame him for his typically relaxed attitude, people who carry an arsenal of abilities tend to curate a certain demeanor. Gabriel Gray does it, to an extent Peter Petrelli does it. But when those confident power houses seem concerned, it makes everyone around them sit on-edge. That’s where things stand tonight, in Arthur Petrelli’s office on the top floor of Pinehearst Tower.

Far beyond the curving glass walls of his office, the world looks like a black piece of cloth with glittering lights strewn across it. The city is matte and dark, and its lights spread like diamonds in the gloom. The rain helps obfuscate the truth of that visual illusion, streaks in forking paths down the glass ever in one direction. Arthur stands in front of that expansive wall of window, hands folded behind his back and tense expression mutely reflected back to the office. There was no cheerful greeting from Mr. Dickson when Arthur’s expected guest arrived. Just a tense look that comes when Arthur has come into a mood.

The minimalist office, flourished with green-tinted glass surfaces, cold chrome frames, and black leather, feels colder and more uninviting tonight. Pinehearst Tower always felt like the Wizard’s castle from the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz. It’s hard to tell whether that makes Arthur Oz the Great and Terrible, or Henry Gale. Neither association is flattering.

Odessa,” Arthur delivers with a familiar flatness and tension she has come to hate. “We need to talk.”

Odessa only gets as far as hello when the man at the door gives her that look, and her face falls. Well, shit. Her eyes move from the assistant to the door she needs to walk through. The confidence she summons when she strides inside isn’t false, per se, but it’s on shaky ground.

In her head, Odessa is silently ticking off all the ways in which she might have screwed up, accounting for Arthur’s mood. When she comes up with nothing big enough for this, she finds her footing is a little more stable.

But it means this is a radical she can’t prepare for.

“Of course, sir.” Sir, and not Arthur, because she knows when showing respect is an act of self-preservation. “What about?”

There’s a folder on the desk, open, lots of printed email exchanges from UEO and NYPD, Odessa’s keen enough to see requests for traffic camera footage, security cameras from Penn Station. Arthur says nothing, but she now notices he has a printed photograph in one of his hands. “I have a simple question for you, Odessa.”

Turning from the window, Arthur’s eyes meet Odessa’s before he stalks back to his desk like a lion that is very much considering eating the gazelle. But rather than pounce, Arthur makes a gesture with one hand and the photograph held in it floats languidly through the air and comes to a soft and featherlight landing in front of her on the edge of his desk.

It’s a security camera photo, timestamp reads 01/16/12 - 1:02 pm though that is somewhat inconsequential to the man circled in red marker depicted in the upper right corner of the photograph in a crowd. Curly dark hair, high cheekbones, olive-tan complexion, smoldering eyes with an inexplicable glint of life in them.

“Can you explain this?” Arthur asks, regarding the apparently physical well-being of one Mateo Javier Ruiz.

This is entirely unexpected. Well, no. It’s actually on the lines of what she expected he might be upset about, but not exactly what she expected. “I threw him out of a window!” Odessa exclaims, but with her voice low so as not to be heard beyond these walls. Picking up the photograph, she studies it for a long moment. “He was dead, Arthur. I watched. His wife mourned.” So that’s only partly true. She threw him out the window and read about the rest later. If it’s a cover-up, then Hati has friends in very high places indeed.

But whose throne could be higher than Arthur Petrelli’s to allow that kind of subterfuge?

“I can’t… explain it. Not in any way that doesn’t sound insane.” Even if they know that clones are possible. Hell, that the man had a twin is a simpler explanation, but surely that sort of thing would have come up when she researched her target.

Why can’t she remember what she dug up about him before his time with the Vanguard? Was there anything?

“I swear to you, that man was dead. I’m thorough.” Which is a polite way of saying she aims for major arteries and organs.

Arthur relents, almost too easily. “I believe you,” is said with the certainty of a man who knows when people are lying to him, for any number of reasons. Pulling out his chair, Arthur settles down and takes a seat, then motions over to his right and draws a bottle of cognac over from his bar, along with a pair of glasses. As he pulls back and file and photo with his hands, Arthur telekinetically assembles a pair of drinks, then reaches out and touches each glass covering them with a thin layer of frost and a wisp of ice cold air around the rim.

One glass slides across the desk to Odessa, leaving a trail of condensation on the glass top surface as it moves. “I have a suspicion about what’s transpiring here,” Arthur delivers with a modest certainty. “I have a fear, too, but I’m hoping that you’ll be able to assuage that for me.” Picking up his glass, Arthur takes a sip and swirls it around, letting the ice clink against the sides of the glass. “I may need you to put your hunt for the Nakamuras on hold for this.”

This does nothing to put Odessa at ease, but she sinks down into a chair all the same, posture not quite as relaxed as it could be. At least her spine isn’t completely rigid. She’ll take what little mercies she can get right now.

The glass is slid the rest of the way toward her before Odessa wraps her fingers around it and brings it to her lips for a sip. Any pretenses of comfort are abandoned when he threatens to put her assignment on hold. She likes the hunt.

But she doesn’t fuss or complain. Instead, she works her lower jaw a moment, first to one side, then the other, and lets out a quiet huff of air through her nose. It’s the only expression of her displeasure, and her tone is at odds with it. “Of course. Whatever you need me to do.” Gold-painted nails tap on the glass in her hand quietly as she thinks. “If that man is really alive, I’ll find him and make him deader.” Frustrating as this is, it’s also a mystery.

“No,” Arthur says with a crook of one corner of his mouth into a smirk, “no that won’t be what’s on the menu for today.” Taking another swig from his glass, Arthur leans back in his chair with a creak of the black leather. “This situation is going to require a more delicate touch, because of… complexities in the situation. This is going to be something a little different from the work I’ve given you in the past. But, I trust you’ll be up to the task no matter what.”

Setting down his glass, Arthur steeples his hands and rests his elbows on the armrests of his chair. “I’m going to need you to be more discreet. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to pinpoint Mr. Ruiz’s location with the help of Molly Walker, and I need you to…” Arthur considers the best word to use, one hand parting from the other to gesture in the air. “I need you to bump into him, and insinuate yourself into his life.”

Smiling, Arthur returns his hands to their steepled position. “Odessa, I want you to go undercover for me. Find out everything you possibly can about Mr. Ruiz, how he came back from the dead, where he came from, who he’s with…” After a moment, Arthur leans forward and pulls open a drawer in his desk and produces a UEO identification card and a cell phone. He moves them across the desk with an unseen hand, and the card slides to a stop in front of Odessa.

The name on the top feels like someone’s idea of a joke.

Desdemona Desjardins

Odessa lifts the card in her fingers and examines it. Her tongue slides over her teeth. Is this his idea of a punishment? Okay, no more throwing men off of balconies. Discretion. Fine.

“You don’t think he’s going to recognize me?” Odessa doesn’t relish the idea of being sucked into a black hole. Mateo Ruiz’s power was enough to almost overwhelm her, and she won’t soon forget that. She sighs and murmurs under her breath, “No, of course you don’t.” So then one of those insane theories must not be quite so crazy after all.

“I won’t have any trouble with this assignment. I’ll find out what you want to know.” And then go right back to hunting the Nakamuras. So she hopes.

“If he does recognize you, which…” Arthur’s brows raise and his stare flits down and away from Odessa, “you’re right, I’m not expecting him to,” then his stare levels on her again, “I trust you to be competent enough to recognize the situation and get yourself out. This is a man who once ran with Kazimir Volken. You understand the kind of peril that represents, and I didn’t spend the better part of a year grinding the Vanguard under my heel just to have them spring up again.”

Leaning forward to rest his elbows on his desk, Arthur regards Odessa with a briefly assessing look. “That said, I know you’re a capable woman. But this situation… everything happening with Mr. Ruiz? We don’t have any concrete information as of yet, but we believe it may have something to do with the disappearance of your mother.”

There, Arthur lays down the delicious food inside this conversational Have a Heart Trap. “To what extent? I can’t be certain… but whatever is going on with Mateo Ruiz, is likely connected to Kara Price’s disappearance. Now, I’d like you to be on this case yesterday, so take tonight and break the news to James that you won’t be around much, and get on this.”

Fingers tighten around glass until knuckles show white. Odessa knocks back half her drink in a smooth motion and sets her glass down on the desk again. “I’ll find out what he knows.” And she’ll do it his way, tacitly promised. By bringing Kara into the mix, Arthur has ensured Odessa will play by the rules set out.

The identification card is slid into a pocket in her skirt, followed by the cell phone, without much of a glance at it. “Thank you for letting me have this assignment.” Now it’s not a burden, but a gift. And if she realizes she’s being manipulated in this, she doesn’t care. The promise of any scrap of information about her mother’s disappearance is enough for her. “I won’t let you down.” Odessa climbs to her feet, but waits to be properly dismissed. “If there’s nothing else…”

Leaning back into his seat when Odessa rises, Arthur folds his hands in his lap and assesses her with a fond smile. “No,” he concludes, “No I think we’ve reached an understanding. You’re to report back to me weekly with your findings. No matter how insignificant they might seem…”

Then, with a smile that doesn’t reach his eyes Arthur adds one final addendum.

“Don’t let me down."

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