In Vodka Veritas


bella_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif

Scene Title In Vodka Veritas
Synopsis Bella comes by with a peace offering, which Odessa accepts. The two renew their working relationship… Sort of.
Date March 12, 2011

The Octagon: #108

The apartments of the Octagon are among some of the most prime pieces of rental real-estate in New York City. Bright, open, and clean, these apartments are all painted an eggshell white and feature floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a sweeping, unobstructed view of the East River and Manhattan skyline. The view isn't as impressive from the first floor, but it doesn't give someone with a fear of heights a sense of vertigo as it would on the upper levels. Hardwood floors spread from wall to wall and through the spacious bedrooms and private laundry rooms complete with washer/dryer utilities.

The small entry way leads into the open-concept kitchen with its stainless steel appliances, polished granite counter tops, cherry finished cabinets and ceramic floor tile with all the convenience of a modern kitchen. Around the corner of that tiny hallway for stowing shoes, and the recessed coat closet, there's the living room. The furniture is very modern with clear lines and brushed aluminium frames paired with red upholstery that contrasts with the deep, black shag carpet creating a dark pool in the centre of the room.

A coffee table sits in front of the couch, black legs and glass top surface gleaming in the cool white light overhead. A television has been mounted on the wall, large enough to suggest that the occupant is paid well, but small enough as to indicate that the television doesn't hold much interest. A modest, low entertainment cabinet sits beneath the set, equipped with a Blu-ray, DVD on the first shelf, a video cassette and Betamax player on the next. The Blu-ray player is new, if one judges by the lack of dust settled on it compared to the other components. Beneath that is a collection of films that can be played on any of the four. Mostly in the romance genre.

Nestled in the corner is a tall book shelf, with a step stool nudged out of the way nearby, presumably so the short woman who lives here can reach the top shelves. The reading material is widely varied. Medical journals and texts are present, but so are trashy romance novels, historical fiction, historical non-fiction, and several books on the French, Russian, German, and Japanese languages.

Of all things, a small harpsichord sits in front of the windows. It's more than second-hand, elaborately painted with a rich, but fading landscape across the inside of the lid. Lush trees with leaves turning their colours in autumn. It's been well-played, but also cared for.

The bathroom is adorned with accessories on the counter tops and porcelain pedestal sink, with towels in various shades of yellow from pale to sunny. The room is finished with classic subway wall tile and porcelain floor tiling. An elegantly designed, corner-set curved shower provides a more spacious shower area.

The Octagon was spared bifurcation, and Bella just has to turn her head to block out the view of the rubble, scars of just the most recent crisis. She's actually not particularly broken up about it. The Suresh Center holds little in the way of fond memories, and while Fort Hero is gloomier still, it's not that she even misses it in comparison. She feels nothing, not for a building.

Dr. Sheridan comes bearing gifts, really just one, but clasped tightly enough, cradled in her arm and elbow against the fabric of her raincoat, worn as of yet in preparation for a storm that doesn't come, only looms in possibility in the drabness of the overcast. It's in a paper bag, long, like the kind you get in liquor stores for liquor bottles - the gift I mean - and Bella has only her free hand to brush stray strands of red hair back behind her ears after stepping into the climate controlled calm of the lobby.

She is brisk in her approach to Odessa's door. Not permitting herself time to think, rethink or otherwise delay. She tries to shield herself in the assurance of her innocence, afraid only that Odessa may know such a defense's only weakness - total certainty of guilt. Bella gambles, now, that doubt remains. Doubt and hope being, in may ways two sides of the same affective coin.

She knocks. Stands up, straight and visible in the peephole.

The sound of a knock upon the door startles the apartment’s occupant. Odessa’s head snaps to her right side so she can look over her shoulder accusingly at the entrance. The television, the Weather Channel of all things, is shut off definitively. Bare feet find the black shag beneath the couch and Odessa pushes herself up to stand, padding over to the door.

The sight of red hair brings a slight frown to scarred lips, the pull of muscle creates a deeper ravine across her mouth. The audible thunks! of the deadbolt signify that Odessa’s decided to allow her visitor entry. She looks tired.


She looks stoned. “What do you want?”

The door swings open, and Bella is standing there, rain coated, low-heeled, smiling in the manner appropriate for a supplicant. She doesn't answer in words. Instead she takes her package in both hands and slips the tall, frosted bottle free of the paper bag. A frieze of a wave-haired 19th century fellow rests on the curve of the glass, above the looping script of the name 'Chopin'. It's vodka. It looks top shelf.

"In vino veritas?" she offers, hopefully.

Oooh. Vodka. Despite that she should know better than to accept gifts from visitors at her door, and Odessa’s thoughts are squarely on Nick York at this niggling memory, she’s quick to grab the bottle out of Bella’s hands and drift to the kitchen with it. “Thank you,” she responds. Because she ought to.

The silence that follows the gratitude is awkward. Odessa adjusts the hem of her dark grey sweatshirt that hangs baggy around her slight frame, tugging it to settle lower than her hips over similarly coloured lounge pants. Flannel. They’re warm.

She reaches into the freezer and retrieves a pudding pop. Chocolate and vanilla swirls revealed after white paper is torn and peeled back. It’s already popped into Odessa’s mouth as she looks up to her friend(?) and mumbles around the frozen treat, “Oh. Did you want one?”

"Uhhh-" Bella seems to take the issue of pudding pops very seriously, pausing for rather longer than one would expect to make up her mind, "yyyes. Yes please. Also, two shotglasses," she sets a hand to the door and closes it behind her, slowly but visibly, "I'm not about to let you drink that alone."

Well. Odessa opens the top door on the refrigeration unit again to dig into the box in the freezer and retrieve a pudding pop for Bella as well. This one all chocolate. “Shotglasses. Okay.” Once the pop is passed off, she’s going back to the cupboards to take down the glassware, one the short squat that generally leaps to mind, and the other a tall one. She takes that one for herself, and pours the booze. The frozen pudding in her mouth is making her teeth hurt from the cold. She doesn’t really care.

It’s held by the wooden stem so she can speak again. “You really didn’t sell me out? Because, really, I have a list of two. And unless Cal’ pointed fingers at me to avert suspicion from himself…” Odessa doesn’t even know what Calvin’s done, only that it’s something. And in spite of that, and in spite of the fact that she’s stayed, he helped her.

The glass is lifted, and knocked back, settled down again with an audible thunk on the counter. It’s a heartfelt lamentation when Odessa admits, “I miss that man.”

There's a hard little kernel of Bella that forms in her gut, a sudden singular tension in her intestines that tenses up when she tries to reply to some of what Odessa has said. This sudden muteness, this borderline psychosomatic response, takes Bella by surprise as she notices it - but noticing it doesn't make it go away.

"Odessa," Bella says, using her name as she does when she's imploring, making the address direct, "I would never sell you out. And I would never- do what they did to you. I think that robbing you of a gift - as if the thing you were born with in your blood was some privilege they can take away if you're naughty - is a low and detestable act."

By the end, the psychiatrist has worked herself up into a pretty righteous fury, her pudding pop gripped like a readied weapon, and its in this state that she takes her shotglass and lifts it. "Ask me anything you'd like," she offers, and then knocks back her drink, giving a rather forceful shudder afterwards - not a hard liquor girl, this one - "I'll answer if it's mine to tell."

“I have…” Odessa’s words are halting, and when she blinks at Bella in return for her words, it’s blearily and too heavily. “No idea what to even ask. I mean, if you sold me out, you’d lie. Because I’ll fuck you up. And if you didn’t sell me out, the answers will be the same, but the truth. So…” She sighs, pops the pudding back into her mouth and pours another shot.

“I don’t really make friends, you know,” she reminds after a moment, snack in one hand and vodka in the other. “And the ones I do make… Well…” Her mind drifts, fond thoughts on people who likely don’t feel the same. “They’re about as detestable as I am,” Odessa admits.

"That's quite all right," Bella says, with a breath of what sounds like relief; Odessa hasn't exactly said she believes her - in fact, she's said almost the exact opposite - but this is close enough, she figures. "No one ever does when they're put on the spot like that. It's an incredibly disingenuous form of honesty."

Earnest blue gaze from a ever-so-friendly face. "That doesn't mean I'm not ready to follow through."

Her pudding pop is finally attended to, treated to an exploratory nibble as she extends her glass, requesting a refill. "I don't make friends either. And you're lucky. It's hard to find people as detestable as we are. The ones who are less detestable can high horse you, and the ones that are more detestable well…" she makes a face, "who wants anything to do with them?"

“That’s right,” Odessa decides, seeming torn between whether she should put down her full glass to refill Bella’s or not. Ultimately she settles on risking brain freeze again so she doesn’t have to relinquish her booze, pouring more vodka for the other doctor. “Do you think you can score me some morphine, Bella? I mean, it’s… strictly for medical purposes. But… The people we work for, they think I have a problem, so they don’t let me have any unless I can prove that it’s… like for a valid Are-Ex. So… I mean. There’s got to be some psychiatric purpose that you could use. I mean, friends do this stuff for each other, right?”

“Morphine?” Bella echoes, refilled shotglass paused in mid-lift, “for psychiatric work? I- admit that’ll be something of a stretch. I mean, I’m a doctor period, I could do it but-” she hangs on the edge of indecision. For all her free attitude towards substances, she is no fool - addiction is a dark force, and not one she wants to foster. Friends don’t let friends do drugs, traditionally, and the spirit of that concern lives on even in her libertine breast. “What is the medical purpose? I’d at least like to know what you’re going to do with an opiate of that strength. Why not use a more standard narcotic? Vicodin, demerol?”

“Medicinal purpose?” Odessa brows hike upwards, incredulous expression. “I took a fuckin’ bullet through the shoulder,” she reminds, tugging back the collar of her sweatshirt on one side to reveal the bandaging still over the stitches in the front. Presumably there are stitches and bandages on the back, too. The entrance wound. “Oh, fuck. I shouldn’t be using the arm just yet but… Keeping it in a sling all day is bothersome.” Though she is considering retrieving it from where it rests on her bedroom floor right about now.

She doesn’t. Odessa lets the fabric work itself back into place naturally once she lets go, unconcerned about whether or not it actually covers again. “Add to it the fact that without my ability, everything hurts. You could never understand, because this loss…” She shakes her head, finally drinking down the second shot and nudging the glass away definitively. “It wasn’t just my ability. It was me. Being unable to…” Her eyes shut tightly as she grasps for the right word, opening wide again once she finds it, “Feel the passage of time around me is so profound a loss. It’s like losing a limb…”

Paper is folded carefully around frozen pudding, the treat set aside in favour of bracing palms against the kitchen bench and leaning heavily there. The muscles in her wounded shoulder are screaming, and Odessa’s very bones are aching. It doesn’t make sense, the way the loss of her ability effects her. Or perhaps it does. “I am nothing!” she cries, slamming down her left fist on the counter, causing silverware in drawers beneath to tink! together in quiet objection to her outburst. “Without my ability, I am nothing. I feel as though I’m dying.” Her head lifts. Tears are already streaming down one side of her face, where they aren’t trapped by her unadorned eye patch. “Vicodin. Demerol. Morphine. It doesn’t matter. Just get me something for this pain.”

"Okay," Bella says, a distance remaining in her voice, a 'treading carefully' that has as much (if not more) to do with her genuine concern with Odessa's welfare as her professional ethics, "on a scale of zero to ten, zero being no pain and ten being unbearable torture, how bad does it get, and how low does it sink to? On a daily basis."

A beat passes, and then Bella steps forward, setting a hand on Odessa's shoulder, moving up behind her, daring the kind of proximity she'd claim if there hadn't been some understandable but unfounded accusations of treachery. "I'll help you with this, some way or another. I swear, Odessa - I hate to see you like this. But we need to walk through the diagnosis. Make sure we're treating the problem at the source."

No.” Odessa snaps. “You don’t get to ask me questions like that. Like you’re the fucking— You’re in no position.” Her sentiment is clear, even if her exact meaning is not. “I know myself. I know what I’m feeling. And I know what I need.” Her head lifts, and she peers back first at the hand on her shoulder, then to the woman it belongs to. She’s much like a wounded animal, but she doesn’t snap. Not just yet. Like a dog that recognises a friend despite pain.

Or at least a meal ticket.

“You can’t possibly begin to understand what it feels like. And how could you? You’re just… one of Them.” And now, so is she. That makes her an Us. On the other end of the spectrum. The generally accepted litany of Us and Them, with the SLC-Expressive category being the group to which she no longer belongs. In a sense. Odessa’s eyes squeeze shut. Too many thoughts about what she is or isn’t anymore. Or right now.

“Just… Just get me something. I don’t know how you people live like this.” It’s not a terribly flattering assessment of people without abilities, but Odessa’s always been a bit on the derisive side when it comes to being mundane.

"Okay, I'll admit I don't know what it feels like - I can't know any more than I know what it's like to have a man's body, or to live as a racial minority," Bella agrees, expression intent, temper carefully even, tinged only with concern. "But I'm not standing in judgment I promise. I know you know what you want, but need? Odessa- I honestly care too much about you to be laissez-faire about your health. And this- well this could also be psychological. But I can help you with that," she steps around Odessa's side, hand slipping down to catch the other woman's as she tries to catch her eyes. "Shutting me out would be fit the theme of loss, I know," she says, risking a smile, "but let's try for something less literary and more pleasant, please?"

“I don’t want—” The words are bit off, face twisting as though they taste bitter in Odessa’s mouth. “I don’t… I don’t want to be an addict again. But it hurts so bad. I just want it to stop. And… And I want to stop thinking about it.” She trails off, a shake of her head is perhaps an unexpected herald to a one-armed embrace, sagging with her head against Bella’s shoulder.

Bella accepts the embrace with grace and ease, one hand rising the rest at the back of her head. She doesn't pat - such gestures are unconsoling, nervous - she just holds. "Then we can talk about it. And when you work through it - it may subside," she cranes her neck a little, getting a glimpse of a sliver of Odessa's face, "and if you’re in therapy with me, I may actually be able to prescribe you drugs. If they are deemed necessary." No promises, her tone of voice insists.

There’s a miserable sniffle that Odessa doesn’t try to hide. She’s already fallen apart this much. What’s the sense in pretending otherwise? “So now we’re back to this doctor-patient bullshit, are we?” That doesn’t sit well with her, but she doesn’t really argue, either. “Fine. At least you can give me more pot. I’m out.” Again. Not that she’s ever asked for much of it, so it isn’t surprising that she’d be without.

“You realise being my friend is kind of a hazard, right?”

"Oh God, Odessa, we're way past that point," Bella says, one of the few times those words have been said as reassurance, "but we can and will work on what you're going through. I don't really think anyone at work is going to start questioning our professional ethics, after all.

"And!" Bella adds, gently fluffing Odessa's white hair, "this is an important new aspect of the field, this experience you're having," her arm squeezes the other woman gently about the waist, "you'll be my research project." She's joking, her tone says as much. Joking. Yes.

The psychiatrist leans back, hand moving to lift Odessa's chin, an attention-demanding gesture that presumes both familiarity and maybe a little authority. "Hazard I can accept, in the name of medical progress," is said with a smile, tone gently humorous.

That’s insulting. Just a little bit. The notion of being Isabella Sheridan’s pet project. But it’s only a glancing blow to Odessa’s pride in comparison to everything else she’s suffered of late. And it was meant in jest. Even hurting as she is, she can tell that much. Were she in a better mood, she’d have laughed and made some remark to match in tone.

As it stands, she’s wiping away trails of tears. “I mean more than usual, you know.” The movements of her lips are slight - or rather, the movements of her jaw are. Odessa doesn’t want to disrupt the hold Bella has on her chin. Doesn’t want to lose that touch. “I’m… I’ve been branded a traitor in the making by someone high enough up the food chain that they don’t even need names or proper designations. Openly fraternising with me is going to draw scrutiny. And I… know how much you enjoy your solitude. I don’t blame you.

“They won’t leave you alone if you make it obvious that you’re intending to help me, no matter what.”

If that comment was meant kindly - and it is - it was also meant with just a little patronage. It may just be overcompensation after their initial estrangement, after Odessa yelled at Bella and Bella was, horror of horrors, unable to talk her down. Control lost demands a consolidation of control regained. This psychic economy is not conscious, but still very present.

What Bella wants to do is assure Odessa that she shouldn't worry, that she (Bella) doesn't care, that she won't let that get in the way. She is, in fact, about to embark upon just such a campaign of assurance, assured of her (Bella's) own honesty. Only then she thinks better of it, and the full complexity of her (Bella's) situation sinks in and she is caught in a pause.

"It's-" she starts, stops, then - preferring to trust in ad lib than to be caught hesitating, "-not for me. As such…" And already Bella's said to much, and she knows it and she tries not to show it as well, keeping a steady hold on Odessa's chin and gaze concurrently, demanding focus of herself.

"If we need to be discreet then- we'll be discreet," Bella says, "and-" and what, she knows a few places in Fort Hero without cameras? "and we'll figure it out. But I am not afraid of taking a little risk on myself for a friend."

Briefly Bella considers adding 'I know you'd do the same'. She thinks better of it. Not that she does not trust Odessa would; naive, optimistic, or perhaps simply thinking a great deal of her own importance, Bella believes Odessa would be hard pressed to turn her back on her. But as high an opinion as Bella may have of her own stature in Odessa’s life, or of Odessa’s own loyalty, she doesn’t trust Odessa to have such a high opinion. That she is seen a traitor is evidenced by this whole ordeal, and this on top of her own admission to serial treachery. To make Odessa beg the question ‘would I do the same?’ might prompt a negative answer in the hypothetical that could, through reflection, change the presumed positive answer in the possible reality.

Which is all to say, Bella plays it safe. She knows too well that Odessa’s psyche is a hornet’s nest.

We aren’t the problem. They’ll be watching my every move, regardless of your involvement.” Whoever they are, those nebulous Powers That Be. Bastards all. Odessa finally pulls away, and grabs the bottle of vodka from the counter, taking a pull straight from it. It leaves her sputtering. “My high is wearing off,” she explains her behaviour hoarsely, still clearing her throat as though she swallowed wrong. That top shelf stuff goes straight to her head, and still burns on its way down to her stomach, even if it is smoother than the stuff she’s been drinking lately.

“I don’t know why I’m even concerned for you,” Odessa admits with no small amount of annoyance tinging her voice to a nasal whine. Sounds like someone she knows, or maybe an unintentional satire of that someone. “I shouldn’t give two fucks if you want to stick your neck out on my behalf.” Which doesn’t make much sense, in this context. The not caring, not the sticking out of Bella’s neck. “I don’t fucking care about anybody but myself,” she insists, punctuating her words with sweeping gestures that include the bottle in her fist. Her injured arm curls up against her midsection.

“Everything was so much easier when I didn’t care about anybody else.” Oh. Has the therapy session begun already? Well, then. It’s no less than Bella should have expected, let’s be reasonable here. Some of Odessa’s righteous indignation fizzles however, when she actually takes the time to mull over the consequences of caring only about herself. Consequences that landed her in the Institute - and by proxy, this mess.

A haughty sniff accompanies an insistence of, “I didn’t deserve this. I wasn’t planning on betraying the fucking Institute. I even told Michal that I owed them my life.”

Odessa falls quiet at that, staring down at the floor after another drink from the bottle. He wouldn’t have sold her out to anyone, would he have? They’re even now. And above and beyond that, kindred spirits after a fashion. …Right? Apart from that whole each-believing-their-sub-species-is-superior thing. But that’s so minor it could hardly be a factor. He encouraged her, even, to return to her government. And so the thought is dismissed and reasoned away by a need to trust someone right now.

Of all the people to trust, Odessa Price puts her faith in Michal Valentin.

Bella had better get in touch with a publisher. The book she could write on her friend should make her a bestseller amongst her fellows in the psychiatric community.

Lapsing into the mode of therapist comes naturally, and Bella cannot be sure if this is a good thing or not. That she can is good, if that's what Odessa needs, but the speed and ease of the transition is motivated, in some small part, by a desire to avoid hurt. The shield of impersonal professionalism erected, however hastily and however thin, she's more able to deflect words that might otherwise sort of… hurt.

So there is the faintest perceptible distancing in Bella's eyes as Odessa begins to speak, one that remains in place even as Odessa's indignation gives way to other forms of upset. Distance maintained, in great part, to prevent confessions of Bella's own. Her own unintended (however embraced) betrayal of their employers, her own seeming evasion of all consequence, her associations outside of the organization - all things kept close in her cranium and ribcage, locked tight and tighter still since right now they are what? Analyst and analysand?

In any case, she stops drinking.

"What do you think you deserve? And what is so hard about caring for others - whether or not you actually do."

“Well I don’t deserve to have my fucking ability taken,” Odessa decides, tone suggesting an impending rant. “And caring for other people? Makes it difficult to look out for myself. I get into the most trouble when I try to help other people. I was just gonna requisition one little batch of Five-Ten vaccines. I mean, come on. In the grand scheme of things, that won’t even rate to the Institute. They’d hardly notice! And I hadn’t even done it yet!”

Of all the sins she’s committed recently, Odessa suspects she’s being punished for the thought crime of intending to help out the Ferrymen. Bare feet make little sound over the floorboards as Odessa makes her (slightly weaving way) to the living room where she sits heavily on the couch and takes another drink from the bottle of vodka. “I never should have left the organisation. Those people trusted me. And I… trusted them. I should have been ready for this. I should have expected that these sons of bitches would do something like this to me.”

Bella trails Odessa to the couch and, after brief consideration, joins her friend on the couch, taking the other side, pushing off her shoes and settling against the armrest behind her. She folds her hands over her lap and listens with visible intentness, acknowledging without yet agreeing.

"Odessa, I didn't ask what you didn't deserve," Bella says, "I'm hardly going to say you deserve any ill treatment, let alone something as awful as this. But the situation, your reaction - it's not uncomplicated. And I'd like to know how you genuinely feel since- from the sound of it you intended to breach the - and I realize it impoverishes the term, when applied to them, but - the trust of our employers.

"And from the sound, further," she goes on, "the matter of trust and betrayal - going both ways, between yourself and numerous people and groups - is the central issue here."

There’s a moment of quiet consideration which Odessa takes to brood. “Listen. When it comes to betrayal, I am the best at it. But only when it’s no longer pertinent to my survival to stay where I’m at. If there’s somewhere better to be, I’ll do what I have to do to get there. I haven’t betrayed my friends, even if they likely don’t consider us friends any longer. I’m not here because this was where I wanted to be. I’m here because it was the only option, and I wanted to survive.”

Odessa’s wearing a sour expression when she turns to face Bella again. “I still want to survive, which is why I’m still here. I haven’t got anywhere else to go, and I want my ability back. And I am willing to do whatever it takes to get it back.” The urge to suggest that Bella put that in any report she may have to file for the eyes of the employers is bitten back.

Bella does spend a moment to wonder what being 'the best' at betrayal would entail. Using what metric: value of benefits reaped, number of sides played at once, how unexpected the Judas kiss?

"I'm in the same situation, as far as that goes," Bella says, aiming for commiseration in order to bridge the gap Odessa herself established, the separation between SLC and dull normal, "I've been handed from organizational assignment to organizational assignment, never once really given a choice. I don't know what it must be like to have a gun to my head, the way you had, but I absolutely believe you made this decision out of necessity."

She takes a moment before continuing - this next part is tricky.

"I- don't want to ask what you mean by 'whatever it takes'. Since it could mean any number of things. But what we do know is that they did this to you for a reason. To punish you, maybe. To try and put you on a leash. Honestly- I think it's stupid. Anyone with the slightest insight into your psychology couldn't think that holding something you cherish over your head is really a useful means of control. You're too smart and too contrary to play Tantalus for long. 'Whatever it takes' isn't necessarily whatever they ask for, though they may want that to be the case.

"So I don't want to ask exactly what you mean or what you do because- well, if they get suspicious and grill me, or sic a telepath on me, I don't want to have the slightest option of letting them know. But just know- if push comes to shove and you think that- that help could be useful…" Bella is careful not to suggest Odessa might need help, "know that I don't like being coerced any more, and while I haven't lost anything like what you've lost, I know now more than ever the lengths to which they'll go, and what preemptive measures they consider permissible."

That catches Odessa’s attention in a way that causes her eye to narrow slowly in skepticism, and then her brows to both arch. “I will do whatever they ask of me, in order to get my ability back.” And if she doesn’t like what that is, well… She might resort to something they don’t want. But Bella doesn’t want to know that. “They have what I want, and betrayal now means never reclaiming that.”

The horror of that notion is enough to churn Odessa’s stomach.

“On top of keeping my ability from me, they have files on me. And I want them.” Unconsciously, her gaze drifts toward the coat closet. The way it snaps back to Bella means Odessa caught herself. “I suspect when Martin,” Crowley, “gave me what he had, that it wasn’t all of it. The Institute has information on me that…” She trails off for a moment, sucking her lower lip between her teeth to nibble at while she thinks.

“You don’t know what it’s like to not know who you really are. Where you came from. I mean… I know who I am. Now. As a product of the ridiculous upbringing I’ve had. But it’s not who I was meant to be, is it? Who I would have been if I’d known my parents. That I even had parents.” Odessa scowls. “Do you know I spent most of my life suspecting I came from an incubator?” She leans closer, fingers wrapped so tightly around the neck of that vodka bottle that her knuckles have gone white. “I want my life. I want to know who I am. I want to know what I’m really capable of. Because it must be somethin’ really fuckin’ special if I was locked away like I was, and then sought after and hunted.

Or she just has a really inflated opinion of herself. Odessa Price usually does.

Bella mentally takes down Odessa's affirmation, adding to her official record. That the other women - self described master betrayer - may harbor opportunistic ideas she takes as a given. But for the reasons previously vocalized - fear of telepathic intrusion that could, certainly, damn Dr. Sheridan and those most closely associated with her - she wants to 'know' that Odessa will remain loyal to their keepers. If Bella should go down, she's not now so bitter as to wish that Odessa will go down with her.

"No," Bella admits, "I don't know what that's like. And a history, an origin, is very important to a sense of self. Or at least, that's the common practice. But-" a pause, "no, I'm sorry. I'm just-" she smiles, self deprecation entering her voice, "I don't think it should matter. You are you regardless of what gametes combined to produce your fetus twenty odd years ago. I- I understand. When reading, I can't stand to leave the least important of narratives unfinished - this is like chapters are missing from your life story. And yes, there may be something you should know, that you have a right to know. But-

"Just don't give up what you do or could have for something that was but is no more."

“I might have family, Bella.” Another drink of liquor allows for Odessa to break her gaze and look distractedly away even after the mouth of the bottle is no longer pressed to her lips and her face is turned level again. “My parents may have had siblings. I might have cousins. Maybe my grandparents are still alive somewhere. Maybe I can find a new purpose. Maybe I can be… More than just this uncertain creature. I need to know if that’s possible. If they’re out there.”

One has to wonder if any family Odessa has would be like her at all.

“As for the rest of it, well…” A smile and a shrug are meant to convey that perhaps Doctor Sheridan really doesn’t want to know what Doctor Price would do with the knowledge that she may be possessed of even greater power than she believes herself to have already. (When she’s in control of her ability, that is.)

This is what Bella thinks:

Blood relations are arbitrary, genetic similarity in no way justifying the degree of importance placed upon kinship. Kinship itself is always already heterosexual (Butler), tied into an oppressive system of power relations resting solely on a masculine - and thus sexist - ideal of presence, origin, fullness, phallus. Purpose found through kinship is purpose aligned with that oppressive system. Ergo, either that sense of purpose is corrupt, or the sense of purpose itself is corrupt, at least when its lack is conceived as some alienation from the (always masculine, always heterosexual) origin.

This is what Bella says:

"Don't let them string you along with ghosts and mirages. Don't look to be given a purpose, or to find a purpose, in people you don't know, or don't know exist. If you need to know to make you happy - I want you to be happy. But remember who we work for. They can and will use whatever means to get what they want from us," a small scowl, "I've heard of far too many 'stunning revelations' of paternity."

This is what Bella means:

I think revelations like that are a bullshit tool used by bullshit people to accomplish bullshit.

“Maybe. I’d welcome any hope right now. Even if it’s false hope.” Odessa passes off the bottle of vodka and pushes herself up to stand. “I’m… not feeling well.” An understatement. A sweep of her hand indicates the apartment. “You can stay as long as you like - for the night if you really want - or you can see yourself out. Doesn’t much matter to me either way.” Because she’s drunk now, in that sleepy sort of way, and sleep sounds wonderful.

Maybe in dreams, things won’t be like this.

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