Labor and Love


bella_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif

Scene Title Labor and Love
Synopsis Time travel, reproduction, childrearing and romance - a crisis driven discussion over waffles ranges wide.
Date April 14, 2011

New Gotham City Diner - Long Island

There is no longer any such thing as a twenty four hour diner. Consider that, you government loyalists, when you insist on the necessity of curfew. What more fundamental assault on human freedom can their be, than preventing a woman's ability to have a belgian waffle at any goddamn hour of the day.

And no, getting your own waffle iron is not acceptable you yuppie jerk. This is about the principle of an American institution.

Bella, employee of another American Institution, must eat her waffle before the checkpoints lock down. So here, not a half hour after work, Bella waits in a booth at the New Gotham City Diner, hands folded just opposite a closed menu that sits, awaiting another arrival. The good Dr. Sheridan has already ordered - this is not a dinner date, it's a crisis session, and while to a casual observer she would look mostly collected, the rigidness of her posture and the angle of her elbows would betray to a familiar some underlying worry. But what the fuck is new?

Her coat lies crumbled on the booth seat beside her. Emerging from an inner pocket is a thrice folded sheaf of papers, a quadrilateral egg of white in the nesting of the coat's lining.

Mmm. Waffles sound good. Odessa loves waffles. So when it’s suggested they meet at the diner after work, Doctor Price only gives a fifteen minute head start to Doctor Sheridan before she follows after. She doesn’t waste any time with waiting for a host to seat her. Instead she’s unbuttoning her trench coat and tossing it onto the seat of the booth ahead of planting herself down to sit across from her friend.

“I am going to get the biggest fucking stack of waffles you’ve ever seen in your life. Fair warning. I’m starving,” Odessa half-whines, going through the menu to decide only if there’s a certain fancy sort of waffle she wants. There isn’t, but she will take strawberries. And whipped cream. Her stomach growls. “Quiet, you.”

A quick upturn of scarred lips. “What’s up?” Though it isn’t uncommon for them to actually go out and do things, there’s an air of importance to this, somehow. Call it a gut instinct or something. Or maybe Odessa just knows how to read Bella’s non-verbal cues by now.

Bella's severity lapses upon Odessa's arrival, the immediate concern not forgotten but held in abeyance as her brain pays her friend her due and releases the chemical compound that feels, to Bella, like fondness.

"I'm happy that you've been eating more lately," Bella says, which Odessa has, at least from what Bella has seen, "have you been experiencing any changes in your mood?"

This question could lead to others, holding off what Bella asked Odessa here to talk about for some time - maybe indefinitely. In truth, Bella is confused by her own reluctance. There is no material reason for her to feel unready to speak. Instead, her barrier is something existential. Showing this to anyone else, confirming that it is not a private delusion slash hallucination, inscribing into the realm of possible truth - it's sort of a big deal.

She tosses the sheaf of papers across the table at Odessa as if tossing her an unexpectedly high dining check. Just look at this, look at what we spent here.

“I’m hungry all the damn time. I swear. I just don’t know what it -” Odessa leans back and stares accusingly down at her stomach for a moment. Then, she shakes her head. Nah. The papers flying toward her have her leaning back again, but her hands come up at first in instinct to halt time and thus momentum, but then push forward to make a lip at the edge of the table so the information doesn’t go skittering off into her lap, scattering across the seat and then to the floor.

“What’s all this?” The white-haired woman asks curiously as she begins flipping through and scrutinising the contents.

What indeed. Odessa's experienced eye - kindly left intact - can see immediately that these are lab results, a series of gene tests and sequencings performed on three different samples - blood, judging by the test types. As data points resolve and the results gather a meaning - one cryptic if not indecipherable to a layman - Odessa sees a portrait form. Three samples, a father, a mother and a child - a son. The boys SLC-positive. The woman dull normal.

"Something impossible," Bella says, "yet stubbornly true."

Odessa taps her fingers between the two outside readings, and then to the one in between. “Mother, father, son. Not so impossible. It’s genetics. DNA.” Something that isn’t her personal forte, not like her skill with surgery, but she’s knowledgeable enough to be formidable in the field - so to speak.

A questioning look is sent up to Bella, brows lifted. “But that’s nothing you don’t already know.” She has an understanding of how these things work, after all. “What’s so impossible?” Odessa wants to know.

Bella digs into her bag and extracts two vials of blood, both somewhat depleted in volume but still relatively fresh. She is about the roll them across the table when the server arrives with Bella's belgian, also with whipped cream, and turns to take Odessa's order. The redhead is quick to palm her bloody glass tubes - not the sort of thing restaurants are likely to want you tossing about.

When the server departs, Bella rather more carefully sets both vials on the table before Odessa. The labels match the samples from the mother and son - MLWY001 and MLWY002, respectively.

"That," Bella says, tapping MLWY002, "is mine."

She sets a finger to MLWY001 and rolls it half a circumference. A number is taped there. A phone number. A familiar phone number.

"Allegedly his," Bella states, just to be clear.

“You have a—” Odessa aborts the question to stare down at the phone number. She’s called it more than once. Sometimes drunk. Sometimes high. Sometimes stone sober. And pretty much every single time for the same reason. Oh.

“Impossible.” Just like Bella said. Odessa’s mouth hangs open, her gaze gone wide. Then she looks up at her friend. “…Do I owe you an apology?” It seems like an appropriate concern. “I mean… I guess that explains why I found him so attractive.” A helpless shrug for a stupid comment.

For all that Bella is bright there is a brief lag in which she attempts to determine what it is Odessa could be apologizing for. The followup comment, the 'explanation', actually further mystifies Bella until she recalls what she had, if not purposely forgotten, certainly made no pains to bother remembering.

A hand alights onto her brow as Bella closes her eyes. "You are- both consenting adults," she states, likely sounding as weary as one can when reciting an ethical maxim, "that is none of my business."

Her eyes open, find Odessa, and Bella wonders if she has accidentally been cruel. She thinks, certainly, that Odessa does not deserve the brunt of her frustration, this drawn out revelation, the implicit sneer made towards her and Calvin's… acquaintance. So she changes her manner.

"And how could you have known? Calvin Rosen is at most a year or two younger than I am. He is a co-worker whom I do not know well, whom I don't even like and harbors no respect or love for me. It is impossible, but even if I presume that he is lying, that this sample is not his, it doesn't alter the fact that the blood in that vial belongs to a biological son I know I have not given birth to."

Bella's explication stops, her mouth still open. She's hit another impasse. The question of the father is one she's not brought up, and one that Odessa hasn't inquired about either - this is according to her plan and in keeping with her hopes. Fingers massage her temples, trying to clear this blockage. After a moment, she continues.

"The- father," Bella begins, needing a moment to suppress a desire to substitute that culturally loaded term with something more clinical - 'paternal donor' perhaps, or 'gamete contributor' - "I'm taken to understand was- or should I say may have-" Jesus, how do you even say a thing like this? "or could have or- ugh!"

Fuck this. What is Bella even thinking? If anyone can understand, it will be Odessa.

"There is some precedent for the role of- time manipulation."

If anyone can understand, it will be Odessa. And she does, with a slow nod of her head, taking Bella’s misdirected ire and frustration in stride. Some colour to her otherwise pale cheeks. “Time manipulation… Or time travel,” more accurately? She taps her nails against the table top, sucking her lower lip in between her teeth and gnawing at it while she thinks.

“Certainly not out of the realm of possibility. But with the ones I’ve known… Time travellers, I mean. - And yes, there is a list. - They don’t just jump around for fun. Well, maybe some, but not… Not like this.” It never occurs to her for a moment that Calvin isn’t acting alone. But it does occur to her that he isn’t the one who’s able to jump around. “The times I’ve been displaced were either by accident, or specific design. The question here is what his reason is, I think?”

Logical thinking. Odessa’s certain that’s the better topic than the field of landmines that is Bella’s personal life. Relationships. Like the one she wants but cannot have. Especially not if… It’s Odessa’s turn to feel a headache coming on. She darts her tongue between her lips a brief second and pulls a face. Fingers trace over the length of scar that runs from just beneath her nose to her mouth, creasing her smiles and frowns. Thoughtful, not entirely unlike how a wise man strokes his beard.

"Oh God, do we have to call it that?" Bella whinges at once, "you say 'time travel'… all I can think of is- is- Delorians. Or phone booths. Just- just a whole host of bad eighties films! Time 'travel' is for Californian teenagers and their elder homosocial docents."

It's the principle of the thing, apparently. She has to accept these things as reality, but in the way tsunamis and volcanoes are a reality. And she has expanded those borders - has had to - in the face of month-long ice ages and visions of the future. But precognition is the sight of things to come. Those things don't show up here and now. They don't catch your in proximo flagrante.

"He said he came back to-" Bella stops short once again, this time literally swallowing her words. She's too pale, the slightest blush shows. "To prevent his own conception." A pause given to decode that, brief. "Which I think was mostly him being a little shitheel. But before- when he ambushed me in my apartment- he said he needed the- that information for the sake of a friend. If he is a— temporal foreigner, who would he be friends with?"

"What the fuck," Bella wonders, "could be going on?"

As Bella speaks, Odessa’s fingers just press against her mouth. Perhaps to keep herself from blurting anything out before it’s her turn, or just for lack of anything better to do. When it is her turn to speak, she lowers her hand so as to avoid mumbling her words against it. “I have no idea.”

She stares at her open palm and her fingers with a sort of absent concentration, if that’s not too oxymoronic. Thumb brushes against the insides of knuckles, like testing texture, before Odessa’s looking up again. “We have to find him,” is what she decides. “And what makes you say he doesn’t love you, anyway? If he is your son, I mean… I never even knew my parents. But when I had the opportunity to go back and save them… To meet them, and unmake the life I’ve lived? I took it. Because I love them.” That she failed has no bearing on her motives.

"If this is how he expresses love he must have had a pretty shitty upbringing," Bella snaps, acidly. The edge in her voice is sharp, but jagged. "I suppose the real mystery is why I didn't prevent his conception. Or at least prevent his birth.

"He has yet to respond to my voicemail," still contains lingering bitterness - she glares at her waffle, the whipped cream dollop upon it having already melted into the quadrasecting gutters. "And I am not calling more than once." Another point of principle. Such a spontaneous crop of things to stand for, or at least stand against.

Odessa and her parents. Bella is about to knock her next arrow, aim for what she sees as Odessa's weakness, this fantasmatic investment in people she doesn't know. But she stays her hand, again, and is forced to hold an unsettling question in abeyance - why so quick to lash out at Odessa? "I'm not you," is simply true, "and your parents are an absence, something you're missing. This is a presence, something I never wanted."

"I didn't make his life," Bella says, arms folded hard across her chest, "I will not be held accountable for sins not yet committed. For sins uncommitted."

“Gee,” Odessa offers up in response, tone acerbic, “I wonder why he’d want to unmake himself. I wonder, did you give him that same speech you gave me about children when I told you I wanted one?” Sins uncommitted, and yet still sins being held against the woman across from her. And ‘Dessa does realise the unfairness of it.

After she’s spoken, in typical Odessa fashion. “I’m sorry. That was… Rude.” Her lips purse, mulling over her words. She debates internally longer than Bella’s ever really noticed her to before. “I just… don’t understand how you could not be… I know he’s kind of a jerk, but…” Cobalt colour rolls skyward at her inability to come up with the right things to say.

I like him well enough. And I would be… I would be so happy if I were in your shoes. But you have these things that you… I think you take them for granted sometimes, Bella.” Odessa’s tone is apologetic at that. She’s not meant to be the one making observations in this pairing. That’s not her field. “You had the parents, and the… being cared for. And you have the choice to procreate.”

Another pause, this one used to gather courage. “If he’s meant to be conceived recently,” taking what Bella told her Calvin claimed at face value, however foolish or ill-advised that may be, “maybe you have him because of me.” A breath, and a wry smile crosses Odessa’s face. “Because if you get pregnant, and you abort? I swear, I don’t even… I will slap you. Because you don’t even know what you have.” Another quick breath, and a finger held up as she does to say I’m not fucking finished yet.

“And I’m all for a woman’s right to choose! Your thoughts on women’s lib are precious, and all, but if you just callously throw away something I can’t have? I am totally selfish enough to be really fucking mad at you for it,” Odessa informs. “So… So there.” Mature. And followed up very quickly with the younger woman shrinking back and wincing, teeth showing as she hisses, “Was that too harsh? I’m sorryyyy.”

Was it too harsh? I wonder.

Bella doesn't bristle. She colors, livid like the clouds in a building thunderstorm.

"Look at us, Odessa! Would it be responsible for us- Jesus Christ, Odessa, us- to have children? To raise a child? Imagine a being you have absolute power over. Absolute. Life or death, happiness or misery. How is your life going, Odessa? How's mine? And we should go and become totally responsible for another on top of that?"

By this point, she's on her feet, sparking high over her untouched waffle.

"This man has systematically menaced me," Bella says, mouth a thin line twisted down at the corners, "if anyone were to do that to you, I would not hesitate to nail them to the wall.

"And my right not to live in fear is pretty fucking precious, thank you!"

Odessa stays plastered against her seat as Bella rails on her, looking guilty. “I… I used to have a cat,” she says in a quiet voice. “I got ‘Inger as a kitten even. That’s kind of the same thing as a baby, isn’t it?”

Not… really, ‘Dessy. “I even had to be responsible for her when I was moving from place to place all the time. — Do you know I used to squat like three blocks down from the house I’m living in now?

“Also, you should sit down. You’re making a scene that I can’t put into a bubble right now.” Which she would totally do for you, okay Bella? “You said he didn’t hurt you,” Odessa points out, whether or not Bella reclaims her seat and starts to eat her fucking brinner. “I mean, I know a thing or two about being menaced. I didn’t have to find you stuck to the ceiling.

She may be implying that Bella is a bit too delicate, suburban, soft. All those things you would never tell a child. Remember those? “I’m just… saying that if he’s here, there’s a reason. And I don’t just mean if he’s in our time. If he’s yours, yours. If he exists,” and the DNA evidence in front of her strongly suggests to Odessa that he does, among other things, but science is pretty concrete in this case, “then there’s a reason. And maybe we should ask him?”

We rather than Bella. Because apart from the fact that Odessa suspects Bella might just shoot Calvin, for how pissed she is right now, there’s no way she’ll let her friend go through this strange experience on her own. “Sorry,” she murmurs. “Time manipulation is just weird.”

"Oh- oh no, I have every intention of getting the story. If he is telling the truth, then he owes half his genetic code to me. A full half of the information that made him possible at all," Bella's finger jabs like a drill press down towards her plate, "he owes me a lengthy explanation at least."

Odessa's chiding patronage she does not address. In fact she seems to flat out ignore it. At least until-

"The only reason I am not walking out on you is because it's my duty to fix your head," is hissed, loud enough - too - that a scene may be exactly what Bella has begun to make - and so she realizes. And so she sits down. "It would also be inadmissibly rude to leave you with the check," she adds, hint of pissed clearly present.

Bella takes up her fork and knife and applies both to her waffle, pinning, sawing. Eyes flicking up to the other woman. "You really emphasize the labor in 'labor of love'.”

Odessa sits up a little straighter, looking much less timorous than before. That she quivers a little bit is for the anger that has her jaw tense, teeth clenched together around a curse that she doesn’t permit. “If I’m so fucking difficult to get along with…” No, she doesn’t want to give her the chance. Why don’t you just go represents a door she doesn’t want Bella to walk out of.

“The only reason you’re so mad at me is because you care what I think,” she surmises. Not that she’s sure why Bella cares. To Odessa, Bella’s nothing like her in that way. ‘Dessa has her craving for approval, while Bella has her disdain and dismissal for what’s expected of her. Not quite opposites, in actuality. “Isn’t it?” Giving her a chance to correct her perception, rather than giving it as fact.

"Of course I care what you think!" ought to sound less dismissive, but Bella is in a fit of pique, the kind of mood that gets her scribbling. The realization, stomach churning, makes her close her eyes and take a moment before: "Yes. I care what you think. I do not take it, or you, for granted."

It's just that you think the wrong things, remains unsaid.

And when she closes her mouth long enough to think before speaking, she realizes perhaps self-righteousness is a rather lonely sovereignty. Coriolanus banishing Rome from itself. Play nice Isabella.

Bella sets down her utensils, the first bite of waffle yet to be taken. That thing is getting cold. She reaches to set her hand on Odessa's. "Of course I care," bears repeating, apparently, "why else would I have told you first? And only." For now is also consigned to the tacit.

That isn’t terribly unfair, really. Odessa does tend to think the wrong things. It’s what leads her to such folly as running away from a fairly gravy position within the Company (despite basically being imprisoned for no reason she can discern), fleeing into the arms of Evolved serial killers, robbing banks, or attempted murder of powerful, influential people with powerful allies who will gladly make sure you suffer for your sins.

So really, comparatively, this barely even ranks. “I’m sorry,” she offers in good faith and with sincerity. “I just… I’m a little jealous of the things you have, or could have is all. And I wish you valued some of those things as highly as I do.” Odessa falls silent as her own stack of waffles is set in front of her, the waiter quickly departing since it’s obvious the two women are in the middle of something.

Unlike her companion, Odessa wastes no time lifting her knife and fork and dissecting her waffles. And that is somewhat what it resembles, the way she holds her knife. And she cuts her food up entirely before she ever intends to douse it in syrup, or consume it. She did say she was hungry. A little argument isn’t going to stop her.

“Your parents obviously did a good job with you,” isn’t even sarcastic. Not an ounce. Honest. “Don’t you think you could do just as well?” Odessa stares down at her work, blinking several times before she says, “I’ve had a couple strange dreams. Dreams that… I had one about waiting for the bus, which is a little asinine to dream about, I think. But that FRONTLINE woman they just ousted, Harrison? She was there. And we seemed to know each other. There were robots around. And it was like they were common. Not out of place. I think they had cameras? Like they were looking for something, or maybe just like some kind of sick version of see-see tee-vee. They reminded me of the things they’ve got patrolling in Midtown.”

She’s fortunately not seen them for herself, but Odessa Price has done her homework. “Everything was futuristic, I guess. But not so much that it felt impossible. I don’t normally have dreams as vivid as this was. I normally forget after a few hours, or even a couple of days.” Strawberries and whipped cream are brought to Odessa’s lips, the taste serving only for a brief pause. She hasn’t finished speaking yet, a raised brow conveying as much.

“There was another. I was older. Julie was there, and Ellie. And Ellie… was pregnant. The Institute had done something.” Telling Bella this doesn’t make the dreams feel less strange, or Odessa less silly for her concern. “And I was getting them both out. To the Ferrymen. I think it… maybe was a vision? I’ve had visions before. Last June, but… Also before that.” She puts her head down, deciding now to really focus on her meal, and give her friend time to respond.

The sainthood of Bella's parents is established a priori. There is no need for her to agree with Odessa because the universe already agrees on the excellence of Isaac and Georgia Sheridan. No need to address the issue. No need to pointlessly risk doubt when certainty is so clear.

What Bella instead takes time to consider is this: she cannot have her cake and eat it too. She cannot both expect Odessa's understand as well as her outrage; that her friend can take time (ugh) travel in such easy stride is exactly why she doesn't miss a beat when it, or visions of the future - in which, quote, 'everything [is] futuristic' - become central topics. It's a simple mutual exclusion, but one that Bella is no less disappointed about; she had hoped for commiseration over the absurdity of her position.

And maybe that's what she's getting, though she'd like more 'miseration' to go with her 'co'. Because Bella hasn't had visions, at least not since the whole city suffered them, which means Odessa is suffering from her own temporal tribulations. At least Bella's don't involve creepy wunderkind, psychotic lightning blondes and people who've slept with (ew) Richard Cardinal.

"Well, you seem unruffled by all this," is just a little arch, "at least relative to myself. How have you coped with your- time troubles? What do you do with visions and visitors?"

“I’ve been a visitor before. Why should I be ruffled? It’s a role I understand well. As for a vision… Well, I had one of those, and it turned out… mostly in my favour, really. I didn’t wind up negated, which is always a plus.” Odessa tips her head to one side and shrugs just a touch. “I’m sorry, I’m sure this all must be hard to wrap your head around, but…

“But I did grow up a closely guarded secret in a clandestine organisation, surrounded by people who could do all sorts of fantastical things.” Casually, Odessa looks back down to her waffles. “Up until that bastard did what he did to me, I’d been able to control time itself for ten years. Travelling through it, to any point in history, is something I’ve aspired to do for a very, very long time. So, no. That part doesn’t confuse me. Worry me some, but not confuse me.”

Singular blue gaze shifts upward, ringed in dark blue liner and looking through lashes accented by mascara of the same shade. Odessa doesn’t bother to actually lift her head. “The visions… Those do concern me. I wasn’t… terribly high for the latest one.” Because, let’s be honest, that’s probably a contributing factor.

Proposed study - effects of THC and family canniboids on Evolved precognition. Initial methodology - mapping electro-chemical process of precognitive events' (both conscious and dreaming) relationship to induced drug states. Evidence suggesting results - previously established connection between drug use and Evolved precognition, historical precedent for augury and chemical inhalation/injestion (see Delphi vapors, use of salvia divinorum). Potential interfering factors - conflation of hallucination and vision (see psilocybin study, Griffiths et al.)

"Then I'm concerned as well," Bella says, defiantly on Odessa's side, though the only lines drawn here are in Bella's own head. She takes her first bite of the waffle, dabbing some melted whipped cream on it and biting, chewing, swallowing. "Psychoactive substances, far from interfering with precognitive events, may in fact enhance them." Though that will have to experimentally confirmed.

“I saw some really fucked up shit when I was drugged on opium,” is offered helpfully. “And… if that stuff is really what’s to come… It’s worse than things already are.” Which is really not at all encouraging, if one asks Odessa. “But I had my ability. So that’s something.”

Something. Not necessarily bad or good. “I’m still sorry, you know. I didn’t mean to be such a bitch. I just can’t understand where you’re coming from completely. But… If Calvin menaced you,” and Odessa has to wonder if it’s just Calvin being Calvin, and what does that really even mean precisely, “then I’ll help you kick his ass or whatever.”

A look is cast to the out-of-the-way DNA results. “Do you know who the father is?” she asks quietly. Seemingly unconcerned for how complicated that answer may be.

"Yes," Bella answers, though she is forthcoming with no further details. She knows him well enough, however, that she could attain a blood sample from him on what appears to be short notice. Complexities such as whether or not the father knows, either about time traveling progeny or even that his blood has been subjected to testing, are no more addressed by Bella than by her friend.

"And it's- fine," Bella admits, after a brief double check to make sure she isn't lying, "I will handle it, really, don't worry. I just needed someone to tell," scratch that, Odessa is not 'someone', and it isn't any 'someone' she could tell, "I just needed to tell you."

“I appreciate it.” Heartfelt. Fuzzy. These two aren’t supposed to do warm and fuzzy, but here they are. It happens. Sometimes. On occasion. But it’s okay, though. Because Odessa is about to balance it out again. “Is he the one you’re in love with?”


Bella glowers.

Because of course it sounds stupid when you say it in that tone of voice. Immediately and profoundly, Bella regrets having fallen back onto the love/in love distinction, a cheap move at the best of times, however honestly felt. Honesty in feelings, too, is not something Bella easily believes in. Just because you feel it doesn't mean it's there.

Still, with a face that sour, how could it be less than love?

“I’m going to take those daggers you’re glaring at me as a yes,” is kind of like a dagger of Odessa’s own. She always has fancied herself a professional backstabber. “It’s okay. But it does make me wonder… If you hold such affection for this man, why would you — hypothetically speaking — refuse to carry his child? Isn’t that supposed to be the ultimate sign of love?” Not as snide it could have been, but there’s a hint of it there. Not hostile, not sharp, but pointed, if the end is blunted.

"What about diamonds?" Bella asks, providing the absent sharpness, "aren't diamonds also the ultimate sign of love?"

“Uh, no? Jewellery companies want you to think that with stupid commercials.” Duh! Odessa rolls her eyes and shakes her head. “It’s fine. But if you do have the misfortune to get knocked up, just pretend you’re doing me a favour. I’ll take him. Or maybe her, since Cal’ says he’s stopped his conception.”

It’s then that Odessa pulls a face. “Oh, that’s so messed up. What the fuck must I be to him in the future if he— And if I— You know what? Maybe I’m not there for— Nope. I think I might actually be done with this discussion. And I think I should maybe get this to go so I can get home and shower until I run out of hot water.” Shudder.

"You think jewelry companies are the only ones with an angle? Diamonds are chump change next to the cultural propaganda around babies. It was in the fifties that we were all told that having children was what we should live for," Bella has quickly ramped up into full rant again, "not at the beginning history, not in the fucking Garden of Eden. Far, far more commonly you'll find stupid- not even stupid, just mystified and misled women thinking having a child with 'their man' will solidify their relationship. Will do just that - signify their love - and only to compensate for the fact that love is absent.

"I ask you, Odessa, if having a child - correction, what you said, carrying a child - is the ultimate sign of love, were lesbian couples incapable of signifying their love properly until artificial insemination? Are gay couples forever unable to achieve that ultimate signification?"

And is Bella quite done, now? From the looks of it, the hostess has begun to seat new customers as far away from their shared table as can be managed - no one needs to hear this crap when they're trying to have a nice bite out before being trapped in their homes by curfew. The redhead begins to slowly deflate, though it seems a matter of choice, not the result of puncture. Odessa is a good friend, choosing blunt force when Bella gets windbaggy.

"No fucking lie," Bella asserts, gratification at Odessa's discomfort cheap, uncharitable and probably uncalled for, "I imagine he owes you some explanations as well."

“No fucking lie,” Odessa echoes, lifting one hand in the air and calling out for assistance. “Check!”

And they should be only too happy to oblige.

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