Keeping the Status Quo


devon2_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif

Scene Title Keeping the Status Quo
Synopsis Devon calls upon Odessa again to ask for her expertise. Only selective promises are made.
Date July 17, 2011

Central Park

Central Park has been, and remains, a key attraction in New York City, both for tourists and local residents. Though slightly smaller, approximately 100 acres at its southern end scarred by and still recovering from the explosion, the vast northern regions of the park remain intact.

An array of paths and tracks wind their way through stands of trees and swathes of grass, frequented by joggers, bikers, dog-walkers, and horsemen alike. Flowerbeds, tended gardens, and sheltered conservatories provide a wide array of colorful plants; the sheer size of the park, along with a designated wildlife sanctuary add a wide variety of fauna to the park's visitor list. Several ponds and lakes, as well as the massive Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, break up the expanses of green and growing things. There are roads, for those who prefer to drive through; numerous playgrounds for children dot the landscape.

Many are the people who come to the Park - painters, birdwatchers, musicians, and rock climbers. Others come for the shows; the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Delacorte Theater, the annual outdoor concert of the New York Philharmonic on the Great Lawn, the summer performances of the Metropolitan Opera, and many other smaller performing groups besides. They come to ice-skate on the rink, to ride on the Central Park Carousel, to view the many, many statues scattered about the park.

Some of the southern end of the park remains buried beneath rubble. Some of it still looks worn and torn, struggling to come back from the edge of destruction despite everything the crews of landscapers can do. The Wollman Rink has not been rebuilt; the Central Park Wildlife Center remains very much a work in progress, but is not wholly a loss. Someday, this portion of Central Park just might be restored fully to its prior state.

Summer is in full swing with temperatures pushing the 90's. The sun glares threateningly from its lofty point in a blue sky. Those brave enough to face the heat of the day dot the park in brightly colored tanks and light colored shorts. People are taking advantage of the nice weather, though, sounds of play echo over the grounds. Games of frisbee and touch football dominate, with idlers content to lay upon the ground to read and sunbathe.

But it's because of the crowds that Central Park is chosen as a meeting point. The anonymity offered, the chance to disappear into the crowd if things go an unwanted direction.

Devon has been at the park for a while. Dressed in a fading black t-shirt and blue plaid board shorts, he's wandered the length of the park once before picking out a place to wait. At the gateway that leads into the zoo the boy stands. It's where he'd called from as well, to give Odessa details on where to find him. His arms rest crossed over his chest and shoulders lean against the outer wall. His eyes wander, watching a pair of cyclists cut through to a shaded part of the grounds, then slant away as his attention is drawn to a thrown frisbee.

If there's any place Odessa loves, it's the zoo. Choosing that as a meeting place is convenient, and one she's been to many times, but not her first choice. Something about mixing business with pleasure.

Dressed in short, faded and fraying cutoffs and a pale yellow tank top, she approaches the boy. A cigarette is held in the vee of two fingers, smoke trailing from its embered tip, four inch spiked heels adorned with lace on her feet click on the pavement as she walks.

She brings the menthol to her lips for a drag, blowing the smoke out through the corner of her mouth as she stands at a slant, appraising Devon openly with a flicker of heavily mascara-laden lashes in an up-and-down fashion. "One of these times, Clendaniel, you're going to have to buy me dinner."

He's not unaware of the woman's approach, though Devon's gaze lingers elsewhere until after Odessa's spoken. The novelty of a family, how life continues despite the chains and leathers that slowly tighten around the city in a stranglehold. It's kept from his expression, the look ponderous but lacking reasons for why. "I'll buy you dinner when we're no longer held in contempt for being born different," he counters, "and when my friends and I can walk freely without having to wonder if a trap is going to spring around us."

Casually, the teen's attention turns to Odessa, a brow lifting slightly. "How've you been, Doctor Price," he begins, preamble and pleasantries accompanied by a sincere expression of interest.

"Sucks, doesn't it? Believe me, I'm well aware of the adversity the SLC Expressive face. I should know, shouldn't I?" Odessa's pale brows arch upward, expression bored even if her tone isn't quite as apathetic as the words lead it to seem.

A shrug of her shoulders comes when Devon asks after her well-being. "I'm still breathing. Always a plus, isn't it?" Perhaps self-consciously, Odessa runs the pad of her thumb over the edge of her white eye patch, cigarette about half an inch from her face. With a sardonic curve of one corner of her mouth, she asks, "Where does it hurt?"

The slightest tightening in Devon's jaw might give away of some nerve still raw, but he continues to watch the woman evenly. A slow, soft exhale pushes the moment past. "It does suck," he agrees, "and it's only getting worse. But it's good to see you're weathering it well enough." With a pause, he gives the doctor a once over before finally looking away. His eyes find a couple walking leisurely, unconcernedly walking into the zoo. "Wouldn't be happy to hear if something had happened to you."

Lifting his arms away from his chest, the teen takes a moment to rub at one scarred wrist. "I did have some questions for you. More questions, I mean." His eyes lift again, meeting hers. "And I can assure you again, this conversation isn't being recorded."

"You mean like if your friend Elisabeth Harrison decided to kill me?" The flat look given in return to Devon's concern suggests that perhaps Odessa didn't appreciate her last meeting with the former FRONTLINEr. "No one's made an attempt on my life lately. That's got to be some sort of record for me, I think."

Another long drag is taken from the cigarette, again the smoke blown politely away from the teenaged boy. "The assurance is appreciated. Go ahead and ask." Odessa boredly flicks to the ground the ashes gathering on the end of her smoke. "Can't promise I'll answer everything, but I won't lie to you."

"If anyone had decided to kill you," Devon replies. Something about his tone implying he'd prefer to be the one to make the attempt. Or at least the threat. "And to be perfectly honest, I didn't know you were on Ms. Harrison's list. No surprise, though, considering who you're working with. How is Mister Valentin doing anyway? Does he sleep well at night knowing he's party to murdering innocent children? —Do you sleep well at night knowing that you're aiding and abetting a murderer?"

He pushes his hands into his pockets, brows lifting while he regards Odessa for a long moment. Then he turns to a completely different topic. "How's the progress coming on the vaccine? I understand it isn't a curative for the flu, but for safety reasons. And personal ones."

"My life began with a double homicide. And I'm pretty sure I began aiding and abetting murderers right out of the womb. Really, I'm just keeping the status quo." A roll of her dark blue eye has her dismissing the notion. "I'm sure Mister Valentin sleeps just fine. He's been at this business longer than you or I have been alive. If he hasn't learned coping skills by now…" Well then.

Of course, the conversation comes around to the vaccine topic. She certainly expected it might. "The vaccine's development is going as quickly as I can manage it. The disease is rather more… Let's say stubborn, than I expected it might be. I have a rather strong interest in seeing people protected from it, I assure you."

"Too bad Mister Valentin's chosen the wrong profession." The teen shakes his head, soberly and long-suffering. "Such a waste of talent, going after innocents and children. Cowardly, too, and you can quote me on that." Devon shakes his head again, dismissively. "It'll catch up to him in the end. One way or another." His shoulders rise and fall with a shrug.

"Stubborn as a certain Russian woman, I'm sure," Devon states coldly. "I've got an interest in seeing people protected as well, but I've come into some information that says one of them has come down sick with this flu." He takes a step toward Odessa, imposing but not entirely threatening. "I'd be interested to know if you've got anything up your sleeves for easing the symptoms, possibly increasing the chance of survival."

Odessa, short as she is, finds the need to lift her chin in tandem with straightening her spine as Devon looms in. "I might," she admits. "And that's not me saying if I feel like it. I honestly don't know if there's anything I can do. Who's taken ill?" Her eye narrows faintly, judging something she doesn't elaborate on.

"A child," Devon answers, as though denying any form of help is to ask for a death sentence. He steps past the doctor, a tip of his chin inviting her to follow as he wanders toward a sidewalk vendor. "The oldest child of a family friend. Considering the survival rate as it is, the state of those who're scared of catching it, you'll understand if I don't give away names just yet. I've seen two families displaced by their neighbors taking matters into their own hands I won't be cause of another family losing their home."

Falling into step behind Devon, she gives a brief glance about. "Children shouldn't suffer," Doctor Price agrees. "If you tell me who I need to pay a visit to, I can assess their condition, and… Go from there. I can't make any guarantees, much as I would like."

"No one should be made to suffer this flu that some… one from the future released," Devon murmurs. He pulls a small sum of cash from his pocket as he approaches the counter and places an order for two lemonades. "No names," he reminds Odessa, exchanging several bills for two plastic cups with chilled lemon drink. The rest is returned to his pocket and one of the cups is offered to the woman. "But I will take you to see the child. And meet the parents."

The young woman accepts the lemonade, brushing a strand of her white hair out of her face before bringing the cup up for a sip. Menthol and lemonade don't mix well, but she doesn't pull any sort of face to suggest as much. "And no one should have been made to suffer the flu that was released last year. Self-preservation motivates people to do… drastic things." She grants his desire for names to be left out with a tilt of her head. "That would fine. Just tell me where I need to be and when, and I'll show up like a proper attending."

"Two wrongs don't make a right," the teen points out. He steps away from the cart, allowing others to visit for their own desires, but also to continue conversing without much risk for being overheard. "There's a difference between self preservation and what happened here, and this still paints us in a bad light." He pauses to drink from his own lemonade. "Thank you, Doctor Price. I'll set up a meeting and let you know the when and where."

"Didn't say they did," Odessa is quick to point out. "But understanding motivations is important. Just keep that in mind." She brings the cigarette to her lips again and lets it hang there, inhaling and then exhaling the smoke as a sigh. "You aren't wrong. It wasn't a good move. But… all that can be done now is damage control. Set the meeting, and I'll be there. Is there anything else you need?"

A nod of assent isn't long in coming, Devon turning to look at Odessa again. "Bring any charm and compassion you possess," he asks, the hint of a grin edging into his expression. It's meant to be in jest, the doctor always so serious and aloof whenever he's encountered her. "Just one other thing. Give Mister Valentin my regards, if you see him again. And tell him… if we meet again, perhaps we can meet like adults now that there aren't any infants for him to destroy in retribution."

"You think I'd have lived this long if I didn't possess some modicum of charm and compassion?" Odessa's hand flutters to her chest in mock injury that might look better were her other hand not occupied with lemonade and the cancer stick tacky with gloss between her lips. She allows herself to go serious again when Valentin is again brought up.

"Certainly, I'll pass along the message," Odessa muses. "Should I tell him you request another meeting? Or are you going to leave it up to chance?"

"While I'd like the chance to meet with him again…" Devon draws a shoulder upward, head tilting a little. "If he wants to see me, I won't turn down the encounter." But he's not admitting to actively seeing the man out. "It's been a pleasure, Doctor Price, as always. I need to be getting back, however. Work and the like."

"Likewise, Mister Clendaniel." Odessa lifts her glass slightly, "Thanks for the lemonade." With one last parting smile, she turns on her spiked heels and begins to stride away. "Oh, and Devon," she calls cheerfully without looking back, "Take care of yourself."

"You too," the boy calls. He watches Odessa, taking another drink from his lemonade while the crowd swallows the doctor. In long practiced habit, once she can't be seen any longer, Devon turns to begin his own way.

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