Loose End


ace_icon.gif aman_icon.gif odessa2_icon.gif

Scene Title Loose End
Synopsis All that remains.
Date February 21, 2020

Safe Zone

The phone Ace lifted from Odessa's pocket won't stop buzzing. Now that he's finally back home, he's looking over each message one by one.

He has to flick his thumb down the screen to see all of them, they're so numerous.

hey, what's wrong
are u okay?
girl, ur worrying me.
do you remember when I did this to you the other day?? and u were scared shitless something terrible'd happened???
this is literally that
except it's me freaking out this time
I need you to say something, des. anything.
come on. des. if this is paybcak, it's not funny
I'm honestly fucking scared at this point, and it's not your scared just making its way through
you're hurting, and I kno you don't want me to feel it but
did you just…
des, did you just shut me out again?
shutting down isnt going to fix whatever it is that's wrong
please, say anything. let me know ur okay?
i'm here. I'm not going anywhere if you change your mind.
please just know that, I guess

The number's unsaved. But so was his. The history on the phone wasn't cleared, though, so it's good he lifted this off of her to ensure it didn't fall into police or federal custody. The burner had only a handful of numbers dialed, all with area codes pertaining to here, or nearby here.

So whoever the fuck this was, not only were they persistent, they were local. The last message had buzzed its way through on his way in through the door, prompting him to begin this little review he otherwise would have left until morning. He didn't realize just how many times it had gone off on his way back over, buzzing away silently in his pocket. His eyes half-lid as he gets to the final message, tossing the phone down on the counter without even finishing it. It clatters gracelessly, lands out of alignment with the other phones of his on the counter. A glance is afforded to make sure it didn't crack before he simply rests his hands on the countertop, looking out the window. He can hear the sound of rain pattering against the glass, threatening to ice the moment it makes contact.

Someone had to have been sheltering her once she was turned loose, he knew that, but something about this person— this Expressive grates at him under his skin. Who were they?

He's sickened by them.

Wagging tongue. Loose end.

Ace had turned and walked through the elevator walls, had invisibly stood watch as Odessa gave herself over outside the hotel. The smile she'd given had been stunning. The touch with the handkerchief— brava-worthy. If only she'd remembered to lift her head a little higher. If only he'd remembered to tell her.

Another black mark on his record for the night, it'd seem. It darkens his expression, leading him to turn to the discarded phone, reconsidering it.

He'll make sure this person doesn't cause another.

When Aman's phone starts ringing, he'd honestly just given up hope it would. He hears it clearly through the apartment and stumbles to his feet, knocking over a quarter of a can of beer onto the rug. "Fuck." He's really got to quit putting them by his feet when he's watching television.

But the phone's ringing, and that's more important.

Two rings pass. A third begins before it dawns on him it's not the ringtone he has set for Odessa, but he's already skidding to a wet-socked halt in the kitchen, swiping the phone up while it's still connected to its charger cable. "Shit," he stammers to himself as he almost loses his grasp on it, then swipes to connect the call before it can begin its next pulse of music.

"Yeah? Yeah, hello?" Aman answers the phone in exasperation.

“Oh, god. I thought you weren’t going to pick up.” Odessa’s voice coming through the phone’s speaker is tinged with relief. A relief he suddenly feels himself. Her head leans against the glass divider of the stall where she holds a receiver in one hand, the cord that connects it to the base wrapped loosely around the other. “Hey, listen to me, okay? I need you to— I just need you to listen to me.”

"N-n-nn," Aman is immediately arguing back after her greeting contains worry he wouldn't pick up. "Jesus fucking Christ, I've been worried sick, and that's your opening line?" He's staring a hole in the side of his kitchen cabinet like he's peering right at her, all burning anger and worry. "What the hell even is…"

And then he closes his eyes hard, rests a fist against the cabinet, and grinds his forehead against the knuckle of his thumb. He breathes out, trying to remind himself she's not his responsibility, for all that he wondered after her well-being. "Okay. Okay, I'm listening." he promises, forcing his voice steady. She sounds like she's about to break down, after all; maybe he should show a little fucking empathy on his part.

Her heavy breathing comes through over the other end of the line as she tries to keep from crying. “I gave myself up tonight. But— But listen, that’s not what this is about. You have to find John. My friend. You remember? A—” She stops just short of saying his name. Yes, they will probably trace her call later and determine who she was talking to, but she’ll make them work for their information. “You have to get out of town. Redd’s alive.”

And therein lies the cause of her panic.

"You what?" Aman croaks when she says she turned herself in. His head comes off his fist, eyes widening. He doesn't have to be calmed back down from that, though, because the moment he realizes where she likely is, his exasperated question of You gave yourself up after all that fucking trouble we went through to keep Mohinder from doing that exact thing? dies well before he even gets anywhere near airing it. "Oh my god." comes from him with dread instead. She was calling him with her one phone call?

Him, the guy they otherwise would have had zero tie to for the whole PISEC thing?

Under different circumstances, he might be touched, except for that glaring issue with this situation.

In her defense… in her defense, he'd rather know that bombshell before the wrong twin comes knocking at his door next time. He takes in a breath to add the appropriate amount of stress to his return question. "Okay, do you have literally anything more useful for me aside from he's alive, watch out? Because sure, I'll go find ol' Smiles and let him know, but I don't know what the fuck good that's going to do for me if I don't know which way to run."

“I didn’t have a choice,” Amanvir. “Someone called in a tip and— I didn’t feel like going out in a blaze of glory.” Because there’s nothing glorious about how many bullets she would have taken if she’d attempted to run.

His anger is felt so keenly. It makes her want to continue to snap back in kind, but she takes a breath instead. He’s right to be angry with her. “I didn’t give them shit.” And she’s not talking about the feds, but also about them. “I wouldn’t have called— but they got my phone.” So.

“I didn’t mean for this to happen.” And even when she says it, Odessa regrets it. Braces for the shouting she’s going to get in her ear in return for her useless platitude. “I should have listened to you. You were right. You were right.” She should never have gone outside. She thought she was so damn clever. Used to being so untouchable. She flew under the radar for years.

Those days are gone. “You don’t deserve this. I told you— God. I fuck up every good thing I touch.” And Aman, in Odessa’s book, is a very good thing. If nothing else, at least he knows her regret is sincere. Or, at least, he doesn’t have any evidence that she can fake the emotions she shares with him.

Frantically, she racks her brain for something of value she can give him that isn’t Ace’s name. Torn loyalties are so troublesome. Odessa’s head lifts suddenly. “d’Sarthe. He’s working for the d’Sarthe Group.”

The realization that Odessa doesn't have her phone puts a secondary chill through Aman. The call waiting tone on his phone makes him pull it off of his ear to see who it is that's calling.

His dread curls a layer deeper into him. Instead of yelling, he says nothing at all.


Ace's expression flattens when the call goes to voicemail, even moreso when it's a generic notice simply stating the phone number and advising to leave a message. He hangs up, tossing the phone back to the counter.

"Some support system you are," he sneers at the phone, eyes narrowed. Looking off, Ace supposes he should have a proper dinner, since Odessa was the only one who'd eaten. He'll try again later, and if that did nothing, he'd simply …

The phone buzzes again, to his surprise, bringing his gaze back.

sorry, wrong number

Ace actually laughs aloud at the audacity.


Aman pulls the phone back to the side of his head, distracted as he tunes back into the conversation. He catches up quickly— lots of self-flagellating. It's like she lived side-by-side with Mohinder for months on end or something. Knowing her regret is sincere doesn't make him feel any less guilty for not knowing what to say, angry or otherwise.

The namedrop is something else to focus on at least. "d'Sarthe?" he asks, voice jumping in register. It's not shock— it's confusion. It doesn't immediately ring bells, until he starts thinking harder. "Okay, the fucking d'Sarthe Group, then. That's a direction to not head in. Got it."

Then his voice drops back down an octave. "Listen," he asks of her, a sickening amount of sincerity in it. Some of that good she was worrying about fucking up in him shining through with resolute stubbornness. "I'm sorry this happened. It fucking sucks. All of it. Start to finish. You didn't ask for what happened to you though, Des, and you didn't have any choice. Okay?" Maybe this shouldn't be said on this line, but maybe this is exactly what needs said where it can be overheard. "You were scared, but you were trying to do the right thing. Scared, and stupid, but…"

A pained sigh comes from Amanvir as he looks across his apartment, at the spot she had curled up on his couch for almost four days. "God, if your heart's not in the right place."

“Is it?” Odessa counters with a shaky breath of laughter. “I’m not so sure some days.” The fact that he drifted out of the middle of her apology is completely lost on her, given that a response or assurance wasn’t expected for it. If she knew why, she’d be overwhelmed again with panic.

“Pack a bag,” she instructs, voice strained from emotion. “Get a message to Smiles and go hole up at your girlfriend’s. She’ll know what to do. She’s a survivor, too.” Kaylee will surely know what needs to be done. “Tonight. Not in the morning, but tonight.

Odessa’s tongue tuts off the back of her teeth. “Look, I told them I was calling my lawyer. So this should all be considered privileged information until they figure out that I’m… doing what I do best.” Lying. “So you have time. But not from him.” It isn’t Redd she’s talking about, but she doesn’t clarify. She just hopes that she’s wrong.

Her eyes close heavily and she cradles the receiver against her shoulder, fingers reaching up to curl over the plexiglass partition as if she might be holding on to it to keep herself upright. “The answer to what would Odessa do is always the same, no matter what the situation: Survive.” Her voice wavers. There’s footsteps in the hall. “Just survive.

Not tomorrow. Tonight. Survive. His whole world is turning upside down.

Kaylee warned him things around her tended to go this way, and Aman supposes Odessa is near enough to one of those things. Friends, and all. In the same orbits. He leans hard against his hand on the cabinet, completely unaware of his symmetry to Odessa's posture miles away. Maybe it's something to do with the emotions they're both sharing between them.

"Tell them the truth," he stresses, realizing he'd somehow forgotten to say that before. "Just tell them what happened, Des. Because honestly? You look at that shit in a certain light and you ensured bad people got their hands on useless information. All thanks to some insight you had in figuring it was only a matter of time before they came to fuck shit up. Then everything you did after, you did because you figured peacefully wasn't an option they'd let you have when turning yourself in."

Amanvir Binepal isn't strictly speaking legal counsel, but he might not have been a bad phone call. "Just think about it, all right? It's not a lie, and it'd not kill you to—" He manages to catch himself before referring to Mohinder. Man, he does not want to open that can of worms. "Offer up information that might make you look good for once."

It's a lame finish, but an earnest one.

A wry smile cuts across her face, curving against the hard plastic of the receiver. “We’ll see what doesn’t kill me this time,” she tells him sardonically. The resignation washes over him in waves. She isn’t giving up, but she’s at least prepared to let the current take her.

Then there’s one more pang of worry. Fear. “If… If anyone finds you… You just tell him that I will remember if he doesn’t let you forget.” Odessa sniffs sharply. “And you tell him that’s a fucking promise.”

There’s an electronic beep that sounds just outside the door before she hears the magnetic lock disengage. “I guess my time’s up. Thank you very much for taking my call,” she says crisply. “I’ll be seeing you soon, I hope.” Odessa can’t quite bring herself to set the receiver back on its cradle yet. “Stay safe until then.”

Aman only furrows his brow at her cryptic warning. "What are you even talking about— Redd?" he asks, posture straightening, hand falling from the cabinet. A humorless breath of air escapes him. "Listen, I'm going to be lucky if I see the knife before he shoves it in my head, but on the off chance I have the opportunity to get that many words out before he stabs me, sure, I'll tell him."

"But if it's not him I need to worry about, I'll just have to figure that out for myself, won't I," he realizes as she takes on that professional tone that signals the and of the call. Worry pangs through his form again before he wrangles it into something more supportive. His eyes close. "Hang in there, Des. Don't be scared."

It was really loud when she was scared.

"Don't shut down, either."

It was even worse when she did that.

"I believe in you. I hope you do the right thing. Both in general, and for you."

Aman is rewarded with Odessa’s breathy laughter. She’s exhausted on an emotional level, and just from the small taste he got from her earlier, he can only imagine. “How did you know I was going to hang up on you?” She doesn’t mean the phone. “Alright. You’re the boss.” Her eyes finally drift from the partition and toward the guard come to collect her.

“I’ll do my best,” carries an edge of worry to it that isn’t present in the tone of her voice. “Thanks.”

The audible click! on Aman’s end is the signifier that she’s finally rung off. A hand on her elbow drags Odessa to her feet. “Yeah! Okay!” The chain that stretches between the two silver bracelets on her wrists rattles as she’s guided out of the room and down a hallway.

But not to a cell.

“Hey!” she protests as she’s directed — albeit not roughly — to sit on one side of a table, her arms pulled forward to rest on the surface in front of her and the chain threaded through a thick metal ring in the table’s center. “What is this? I already answered questions! Just let me go the fuck to sleep!”

The guard leaves without a word.

Hey!” Odessa shouts as the door closes. “I have rights!

She does, right? Surely, she still has rights. She isn’t an enemy combatant these days.

But her demands seem to fall on deaf ears. Odessa lets out a heavy exhale that puffs out her cheeks before she slumps forward on the table, resting her head on her outstretched forearms while she waits for whatever comes next. The fatigue is just too much to even indulge much worry now.

Someone is coming down the hall, hard-soled shoes on a tile floor. They stop outside the door to the small room Odessa has been kept in, brief and muffled words are exchanged with the man outside, and then one set of shoes track away. The door stays shut for several long moments, giving Odessa time to wonder what might come through the door. An entirely unfamiliar face wasn’t on the top of her list.

A pale, middle-aged man with short-cropped, dark hair and grey eyes isn’t familiar to her. His suit looks government, his badge says Department of Homeland Security below a larger block print of DHS. The name Agent Coburn is clear enough for her to see. Agent Coburn closes the door behind himself, then turns to Odessa with a furrow of his brows.

“You’re a very hard woman to find,” Coburn says with a hint of amusement in his voice. It’s a lie, though. There is no sentiment of amusement lingering in the air around him, but rather a spike of anxiety so high his heart-rate must be through the roof. Coburn takes a few steps away from the door and slowly approaches Odessa. “I’ve been looking for you for… a very long time.” His head angles to the side, looking Odessa up and down. “I’d given up,” he adds with a huff of breath that dissipates some of the tension in his form. “Right up until your name came over the wire. Like a last-minute miracle.”

Coburn tucks his hands into his pockets, continuing to advance toward Odessa. “You’re the one missing piece of a very convoluted puzzle.”

Odessa’s eyes are wide — not in a frightened sense — when the door opens and someone she doesn’t recognize steps inside. Her brows lift first, then her head from her arms. “I don’t know about that,” she counters. “Nineteen days? That’s a new record for you guys.”

Despite the broad grin she’s giving, her heart starts hammering in her chest and even though she’s had time to learn the difference, she can’t be sure if it’s him or if she’s coming by this one honestly. “You really need to relax,” she tells him, lifting her wrists, palms up and fingers splayed the scant couple of inches she can from the table. “I’m just a girl.”

They both know she isn’t. There is nothing about Odessa Price that can be qualified as just.

Agent Coburn shakes his head in disagreement. “I missed you at the Arcology,” is not what she expected his response to be. “I missed you at the trial,” he adds, coming to stand on the opposite side of the table from her, “and I couldn’t get close to you at PISEC.” Coburn fishes something out of his pocket, but keeps it hidden in one gloved hand.

“I always wondered what Arthur saw in you,” Coburn says, invoking a name that has caused nothing but pain throughout her entire life. “Then, my eyes were opened.” Coburn says, pressing a tarnished penny down onto the edge of the table. He slides it across to Odessa with two fingers.

Odessa recoils from the penny like it could be an adder, poised to strike. Only a few weeks ago, she would have laughed at the absurdity of it. It’s just a penny.

But she saw the look on Cindy’s face. She saw what happened to her.

All traces of feigned mirth are gone now and all that’s left is anger.

The Arcology. The trial. PISEC.


There’s a loud creak of protest as Odessa stands up fast enough to send her chair skittering back from her, then toppling over to the floor with a loud clatter. The chains holding her wrists force her to bend forward while her eyes blaze. “Who the fuck are you?!”

Agent Coburn’s eyes quiver in a way eyes are not supposed to. His pupils briefly deform into ovoid shapes, irises bleed with color that turns from gray to something more like blue. The bones in his face snap, pop, and slide beneath his skin while cartilage deforms, cracks, and resets into new configurations. It only takes a few seconds for Coburn’s face to disassemble itself beneath his skin and return in a new configuration, hair bleached paler, brow more imperious.

Eyes now familiar.


“We need to talk.”

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