Lost in Paradise


bf_odessa_icon3.gif wf_woods_icon.gif

Scene Title Lost in Paradise
Synopsis I have nothing left / And all I feel is this cruel wanting / We've been falling for all this time / And now, I'm lost in paradise
In an attempt to build a bridge between herself and the James Woods of this world, Odessa Woods discovers the curious fate of Odessa Price.
Date November 11, 2017

Resistance HQ

Boots crunch over gravel and debris strewn over concrete as Odessa approaches the corner of the resistance’s little compound where she’s been told she can find James Woods. She watches him from afar for a long moment. He needs a haircut. Or maybe he doesn’t. Maybe he would have always worn his hair long enough to curl if he didn’t have a job that required him to be so polished all the time.

Why doesn’t she know if her husband liked wearing his hair short?

Her heart sinks.

Lips part with the intention of announcing herself, but her voice dies in her throat. Uncertainty keeps her rooted to the spot. She didn’t ask the others, didn’t pry into his life. Odessa has no idea what his situation is.

Her heart finds its way back to where it’s supposed to be, but only because a hand has gripped it and holds it there like her fear holds her where she stands. Her breath comes in short and shallow. Captured heart pounds against its cage of ribs.

He doesn’t even have a sword, she repeats to herself from her earlier meeting with Elisabeth. After the events of the last couple years, talking to James in any iteration should be a cakewalk. It should be a welcome reprieve. So why is she terrified?

Because if this goes wrong, it will feel like losing him all over again.

Odessa closes her eyes and draws in a deep breath. On the count of three, she opens her eyes again, squares her shoulders, and starts forward. “James!”

Standing up from a small fire made from stacks of wooden siding pulled from derelict houses, James Woods looks little like she remembers him. His eyes, still as expressive as ever, are shrouded by a pall of fatigue and emotional weariness. He clutches an open can of beans in one hand, spoon in the other gripped like a knife. The jacket he wears is something that might look more fitting on Peter or Sylar, long and black, made of ratty, oiled canvas.

There’s a haunted look in his eyes when he sees Odessa, haunted and broken, and the spoon falls flat out of his hand, landing on the concrete floor with a clatter-clink. Hearing is one thing, but seeing is believing. “I— ” James croaks out, looking briefly to an unoccupied folding lawn chair next to the one he was sitting in, then back to Odessa. “I’m…”

He clears his throat. “Yes. Yes. I’m— James Woods.” He almost sounds uncertain of himself.

Her eyes light up a moment at the recognition, but sympathy is right on its heels to douse it some. Her instinct is to wrap the man up in her arms and tell him it’s going to be alright. To share his woes with her and let it all out. Like it should be.

Instead, she stoops down to pick up the fallen spoon. She pulls a handkerchief out of her jacket pocket and wipes it down before holding it back out to him. “I’m Odessa —” Her mouth starts to form around the W in Woods out of habitual introduction, but she catches herself before she can give breath to the syllable. “Just… Just Odessa, is fine.”

Her gaze follows the path his took moments ago, but doesn’t linger on the empty chair. “You were with the crew that chased down the wreckage of the Harvester,” she says as she brings her attention back to him in full. “I wanted to thank you. My sister-in-law was there and… You saved her life.”

Sister in law?” There’s a look of abject confusion from Woods over to Odessa, then briefly to the unoccupied chair, then back again. “Uh— did— okay. I’m gonna’ circle back t’that one, sure.” He delicately takes the spoon back, grubby fingers poking out from fingerless gloves curling the slightly bent spoon against his palm. “Eve told me there’d be a you comin’ in from whatever nonsense she really meant t’try an’ explain, ‘cept she just kept trippin’ over references to bloody Alice in Wonderland.”

Exasperatedly running a hand through his hair, Woods blinks an awkward look down to his feet, then motions to the chair he was sitting in, rather than the one that’s gone entirely unused. “Go’n have a seat, uh, are— you hungry? Got myself some beans,” he turns the can around to her — baked beans — then starts to crouch by the small fire. “There’s enough for two,” and he looks to the empty chair, then back to Odessa.

“Gonna have t’share the spoon, though.” Woods admits with an apologetic grimace.

Odessa opens her mouth to clarify, but stops when he says they’ll circle back. It’s a lot to take in, she knows. It’s a lot for all of them. So, she nods and offers a smile. “Yeah, that sounds like Eve.” From what she’s been able to gather of the woman so far. She’s not as familiar with the Eve Mas of her own world, but there were only so many degrees of separation. Reputation is a lot.

She takes the offered chair and doesn’t question when Woods doesn’t grab the empty one for himself. “That doesn’t bother me,” she assures of the shared utensil. There’s a lot of luxury that’s going to be forgone here. “You, ah… You must have questions.” Odessa leans forward a little, holding her hands out toward the fire and wiggling her fingers. She didn’t pack for this adventure. “The least I could do is give you some answers in exchange for sharing your dinner.”

There’s a silence between Odessa’s assertion that he’d have a question, and a lingering sense of uncertainty. Woods sets the can of beans down, picking up a pair of grilling tongs to grab the can with, the holds the can over the fire. The label blackens, crisps, catches aflame and burns off of the aluminum. A hiss emits from a small hole poked at the top of the can, and he seems transfixed on the fire.

After that long moment of contemplative silence, Woods asks her a question that squarely positions himself in a particular timeline. “How’d you get away from the bloody Company?” No Pinehearst, no Arthur, no happy ending.

That isn’t even in the top ten list of questions Odessa expected to be asked. She watches the label on the can burn away, thinking about how best to respond. “It all sort of… Just unraveled.” Which should have been her undoing as well. Being caught in that kind of net should have been the end for Odessa Knutson. In a way, it was. “Nobody really knew who I was or what to do with me. I just… walked away.

And then Petrelli gave her a whole new path through life, and she proved her worth to him by carving through it with a blade and a smile.

She’s ashamed, and she indulges in that feeling for the space of time required to take one very deep breath. She’s left that behind now, too. Does it matter in a world where none of that ever happened?

“There wasn’t much Company left to chase me down, I guess.”

Same,” Woods admits with an incline of his head to the side. It’s all he really has to say about anything for a minute or two, dutifully watching the can of beans until a small jet of steam starts to issue out of the poked hole in the top. From there, Woods brings the can over to a stack of bricks, setting it down and pulling out a fixed blade knife from his belt. He punches the knife into the already extant hole in the can, then saws three quarters of the way around the top, before finally peeling the lid back. A gout of beany steam rises up from within; brown contents bubbling.

“I’ll warn you,” Woods notes as he offers the spoon out to Odessa first, “this is the good food you typically get out here. So…” there’s an apologetic smile offered as he continues to avoid the hard, painful questions about how and why and when. “It’s all downhill from here basically.”

Odessa takes the spoon back from Woods and smiles reassuringly. “It is what it is, right?” It isn’t as though they have much control of the situation here. “Thank you for sharing with me.” She digs the spoon into the can and meets his gaze for a second. “I— Thanks.” She looks down as she starts to eat.

There’s a barrage of memories. Ice cream in front of the television for romcom night. Testing new chili recipes at the stove. Tossing popcorn into the air and almost shrieking with laughter when he would manage to catch it in his mouth. Laughing even harder at all the kernels littering the floor where he didn’t.

Wedding cake frosting on both their faces.

Blue eyes shut tightly as her heart constricts anew. “It was, uhm…” She passes the can and the spoon back so she can tell him more about her. “Two-thousand… eight, I guess? Nine? I was wrapped up in some terrible shit.” There has never been a more reductive way to refer to her time with the Vanguard. “I didn’t understand what it meant to be free. I just… I always needed direction.”

She’d argue that she understands now. Once Arthur was out of the picture, there was no one telling Odessa how to move forward with her life. How to carry on. Revenge was a choice she made. And now it’s been carried through with, and there’s nothing left. Now she’s here.

“I was facing prison. Freedom requires money, and it’s typically frowned upon to rob banks for it.” Apparently. “I cut a deal to stay out. And that’s… kind of how I was able to escape my old life.” Or continue it in a different light. With a little longer leash.

“That’s all really vague.” A grimace, apologetic. “I just don’t think it’s terribly interesting. Or… flattering.”

“Better than what happened t’me,” Woods says with a throaty laugh, trading off to take the spoon from Odessa and getting a heaping helping of steaming beans from the can. He briefly looks to the folding chair, like it said something untoward to him, and then looks back to Odessa as he hands off the spoon to her.

“So,” Woods was never good at deception arts, never good at subterfuge, never good at lying, rubbish at omission. That hasn't changed much. “This whole other world you up and tumbled out of,” so he doesn't do any of those things, “you ever meet a man named Darren Stevens in any of them?”

There’s no arguments from Odessa regarding who had it worse for severance from the Company. She does give him a quick once-over - not that there’s anything to be observed from his appearance that will tell her the story of his life in this world.

And besides, he’s asking about hers.

Odessa’s eyes narrow faintly with curiosity more than suspicion. “Yes. I knew Doctor Stevens.” More on paper than anything else, but she’s aware of who he was and, more importantly, what his ability was. “There’s at least one other…” she hesitates, always slightly awkward about how to explain the situation, “One other me out there that had an encounter with him.” She’s sure she isn’t going to like this. “Why?”

Woods quickly glances back to the folding chair, then back to Odessa with his lips pursed. He almost asks something, then hesitates and asks something else. “Okay so, hypothetically speaking,” which is what people say when things aren't actually hypothetical. “If you, say, died.” Woods makes a little blossoming motion with his hands and a pch-choo noise with his mouth to maybe pantomime an explosion. “And he brought you back,” Woods grimaces and glances at the empty chair, then back to Odessa.

“Okay.” Woods closes his eyes and reframes the not-question. “If that happened, and you died, and he brought you back, but— okay let's say you died again because his stupid ability doesn't work right. What would your uh — scientifically speaking — thoughts be on that?”

Hypothetically speaking.

Theoretically…” Odessa responds slowly, giving herself time to process the full implications of what’s being danced around. “My thoughts would be that I know - hypothetically - that my ability and Stevens’ wouldn’t play very nice together.” Now there’s a bit of suspicion, and it’s reserved for the empty lawn chair.

“Are you saying that’s allegedly what happened to the Odessa of your world?” It wouldn’t be the first time she’s heard of it, but this Odessa’s never had the misfortune of facing death with Darren Stevens as the only path to salvation. She’ll never forget Desdemona’s scars. She has no idea that it used to be so much worse.

Woods smiles faintly. “Something like that,” he says awkwardly. Then looks down to the can of beans. “Part of me hoped you'd be some sort of expert in quantum whatsits… you know since you came from another bloody dimension.” He stirs the beans in the can, but doesn't take a bite again. Instead he just swivels the spoon around to Odessa’s side.

“Eve thinks she can get you somewhere other’n here, which sounds lovely and I hope the offer stands for everyone. I've got a bag packed.” Woods admits with a feigned smile. “I mean, I'd hate to leave behind all this undeveloped real-estate just waiting t’be snatched up, but…”

“I wish I was…” Odessa takes the spoon and another bite, letting the time it takes her to finish it be for thoughtfulness. Maybe she should know more about quantum whatsits, given what her ability is and what it can do. The why of it all never seemed to be so important to her as long as it just worked.

His comment about having a bag packed has Odessa’s shoulders lowering and her back straightening slowly. Hope makes a fine bolster. “Yes,” she urges, “come with us.” She reaches out for his hand before she realizes what she’s doing. She wants to take his face in her hands and beg him never to leave her again. Woods can see the sorrow in her eyes when she really looks at him. So much for playing it cool. She starts to withdraw her hand. “I’m sorry.”

Woods looks down to the beans, troubled. “I can't,” sounds more like a question that a statement. “I mean— it's not tha’ simple.” He's forgotten the spoon for the while. “I mean, I’d love if it was but… but it's just not in the cards for me.” It all sounds rather final, and realizing how it sounds, Woods seems intent on backpedaling the direness a touch.

“What I mean is,” Woods looks up to Odessa and motions with a hand around himself. “The people here, they need me t’help them. We’re all each other’s got, an’no amount of glowy hole in the sky’s gonna’ change tha’. So I mean,” he looks away and down to the can again.

“I'd feel guilty.” Woods mumbles, glancing up at the empty chair. “If I left.”

“But you just—” Odessa’s protest dies before it gets going. She nods her head slowly, understanding. “I came here because I had nothing left in my world waiting for me. If I had…” She’s also forgotten about the spoon and the beans now, staring down at the ground, gaze roaming the space between their feet. “If you have someone worth staying here for, that’s… good.” Is that even the right word? It’s hard to think of much of anything in this place as good.

“But the offer stands, if you change your mind. Maybe you can convince your people to come with.” She can’t imagine it’s a tough sell. This world may not be dying the way that Ruiz described his, but it’s sure not thriving. While it’s foolish of her to hold on to this hope, it’s the only thing that’s going to get her through for a while.

She wants to tell him the guilt would fade. That one night he’d go to bed and realize he hadn’t thought about this horrible place at all that day. He’d move on. She’d be lying.

Lifting her gaze again, she studies his face. One day she’d woken up and realized she cared about his happiness more than her own. “I… This world’s Odessa.” There’s uncertainty in her eyes and in her tone, but she carries on. “What are you to each other?”

Woods doesn't comment on the contradiction of both having a bag packed and bring too guilty to leave. Instead, he responds with a vague, “Complicated?” To her question of what they either are or were to one-another.

“She pulled me out of a bad situation,” Woods explains with one hand raking through his hair. “We both went off to hide someplace we thought was safe, with people we trusted.” There's a distant, haunted look in Woods’ eyes. “Then the whole bloody world fell apart. An’…” he stared vacantly into the fire. “An’ some stupid shit happened, an’ now…” he isn't sure how to finish the sentence.

“I've had a lot of bloody trouble letting go.” Woods says with a tearful smile. “I watched her die, right in my bloody arms. An’— y’know how the mind plays tricks, right?” He looks up to Odessa with a broken, sad smile. “Well sometimes I think I see her just hangin’ around. Talkin’ t’me still.”

Swallowing down a lump of emotion in his throat, Woods looks back to the fire. “Then you showed up an’ — an’ — s’like maybe m’not completely crazy, yeah?”

“I get complicated,” Odessa says with a sympathetic smile. She understands the contradiction too. Even if it disappoints her.

Her throat gets tight as she listens to his explanation of what he went through with his Odessa. It must have been terrifying, not knowing who they could really trust as the world unravelled around their ears. Slowly, she turns to look at the empty chair again, comprehension sinking in. She turns back to Woods and reaches out to rest her palm against his face, gently brushing her thumb over his cheekbone. “You aren’t crazy,” she promises. Even if seeing and hearing the dead might qualify.

“I loved James Woods more than I can say,” she begins in a soft voice. “We were going to make the world safer together. It meant we spent a lot of time apart, and… And I regret that. So much.” Odessa closes her eyes, biting her lower lip a moment to stem the tide of tears. For now. “When our world was breached by outsiders, James was chosen for a team meant to protect us all.” She wonders if Arthur chose Woods for the assignment as a means of keeping her in check, or if that was just a happy accident for him. Not knowing allows her to blame herself for what happened.

“There was an attack and… I wasn’t there with him. I wasn’t there to save him.” Elbows rest on knees as Odessa buries her face in her hands. Her whole body quakes with silent sobs. “And I would have given anything to see him again.”

So she gave up everything.

And here he is.

“Oh c’mon now s-stop that…” Woods says with an awkward clank of the can down on the floor. He scoots over, a little hesitant, and his hand that comes to rest on Odessa’s back is reassuring though remarkably platonic. There's also guilt in his expression, clear and present.

“You worked for Richard Cardinal,” Woods starts to explain, as if having something for her to focus on would help. “At his Institute. Fighting against… all this. We all thought he was out of his gourd, but— ” Woods closes his eyes and shakes his head. “When I got back to the States,” he says without any context, “it was just in time for everything t’go pear shaped with tha’. I found you through old Company connections an’— An' long story short I was there the day they gunned Richard down.”

Woods manages a nervous smile. “Because they gunned me down too.” There's an emptiness in his eyes, a tension and worry. “Des,” he pulls her shoulders over to him. “Des, you had some sort of freaky time rewind powers here. Apparently y’got them from this doctor named Darren, who died bringin’ you back when this right asshole named Heller had you put up against a wall.”

It's complicated, and Woods struggles with it. “Y’absorbed his power somehow, an’ y’did the same for me. ‘Cept I'm just an average joe. I din’ absorb nothin'. Y’just…”

Woods looks down to the ground. “Y’just fell over, died, An' disappeared like y’weren’t ever really real.”

The words do give her something to focus on. It draws her back to the present, out of the past where her grief dwells and waits for her to acknowledge it. Odessa goes still again, her breathing deep and even. Finally, she lifts her head. “That…” She blinks and a stray tear rolls down her cheek, rubbed away quickly by the pad of one thumb. “I’ve heard a similar story before… That didn’t happen that way to me.” That’s so obvious as to draw a wince and a quick shake of her head.

“Oh God.” The notion of him having been gunned down threatens to bring on another wave of tears, but she pulls herself together. Odessa reaches out and squeezes Woods’ shoulder. “I’m real. She was too.” If she’d had the chance, would she have made the same sacrifice for her husband if she’d known she could? She thinks so. “She is.

“Yeah my delusion insists she's real too,” Woods says with a flat tone, looking into the fire, legs crossed and hands coming to settle in his lap. He teeters a bit like a really sad punching bag. “I was supposed to see Doctor Sheridan about that but I've not a fucking clue where she is these days.”

Odessa frowns and folds her hands together in her lap. Dinner’s forgotten about for now in favor of her concern for him. “We could always ask her a question only I’d know. That would tell you if she’s real or not, wouldn’t it?” She isn’t sure what outcome would be for the best here. If he can’t give an answer, then he’s gone off the deep end. If he can, then Odessa really is haunting him somehow.

Woods makes a noise in the back of his throat, watching the empty chair cautiously. He looks down into his lap and then fidgets uncomfortably, finally turning to look at Odessa. “Okay, that— that makes sense, yeah. So,” Woods looks at the empty chair, then back to Odessa again, helplessly.

“I don't actually know a whole lot about you…” He admits helplessly. “I mean I know the Company held you in a fishbowl, but not why. An’ I never felt comfortable askin’. An’… I know your parents died, or— somethin’ like tha’.”

Teeth dragging at his lower lip, Woods looks briefly to the fire, as if that might hold an answer. Then, more helpfully he turns to Odessa again and asks. “So, if you had t’ask a question t’figure out which of you was an evil clone… what’d that be?”

Odessa looks over to the seemingly empty chair as though it might not be so empty now. She doesn’t quite know where to let her gaze settle, so for the moment, it roams the length of space she expects she would take up if she were seated there. As if she could take herself in if she just studied for a moment.

Eventually, she turns back to Woods and nods her head. “Once, Sylar and I talked about planting a garden.” It sounds silly now - it was probably more than a bit silly then - but the two women’s history should match at least to that point, she supposes. “There was a specific plant I wanted in my new garden.” Again, she glances back to the chair, but only briefly. “She should know what it was.”

For a few moments, Woods is silent as he watches the chair. Then, turning to look at Odessa there's a look of confusion on his face. It seems as though he doesn't have an answer as he stands up from where he sits and goes about pacing the floor. The troubled look in Woods’ eyes never really fades, and when he finally comes to rest nearby to her, it's with a visible frown.

“What the fuck’s a datura?” Woods asks with evident strain in his voice. Though he looks back to the empty chair with uncertainty, it also seems to hold something else. Fear.


Odessa stares, mouth having fallen open slightly, stunned and silent for a moment while she thinks. “There's no way you could have known that. James, you're not crazy. She's real.” Which isn't necessarily the best news for her, wanting to — To what? Steal her husband away from an alternate universe version of herself, where it'd be so much easier if she was dead?

“It's a flower. I've always thought it was pretty, but I never was able to have much of a garden in the old Company days…” Odessa looks to the empty chair again. “We'll work together.” She turns her attention back to Woods. “We'll figure out what really happened to her.”

It's not clear if Woods heard Odessa or not. He winces once, turning to look at the empty seat and bolts up with both hands waving in the air. “Well you should've bloody said that before I told her!” He screams, running his hands through his hair.

“Look, I can't keep up with the bloody both’f you shoutin’ in my head!” He pauses, looks over to the tangible Odessa. “Not— no. I mean— you're the real one.” Then, back to the chair. “No!” He shouts. “No I didn't mean you're not real— I—”

Exhaling a ragged sigh Woods paces around with clomping bootfalls. “Goddamnit, none of this bloody well makes sense. If she— you— died? How— how’re you— why's— ” He makes a confused, strangled sound in the back of his throat. “God bloody damnit this was easier when I thought I was crazy!

Odessa’s eyes widen fractionally at Woods’ outburst. There’s no pity or affront in her expression, only sympathy. This burden he’s had to bear since his own resurrection must be terrible. She waits quietly for him to get it all out, waiting an extra beat of silence before she opens her mouth to speak again. Hopefully, she’s not talking over her other self this time.

“Either she isn’t dead,” the blonde posits, “or there’s some kind of psychic impression left behind from how you were brought back.” Which is almost like not being dead, but with less possibility of fixing it. “Have you thought about speaking with a telepath? If there’s something to be found…” Kaylee might be able to find it, she hopes. Or sever the connection. That’s a less charitable thought.

Odessa pushes to her feet and reaches out tentatively to rest a hand on his shoulder. “It’s up to you, of course. I… I’m sorry that I’ve complicated things.”

Trying to calm himself down, Woods paces around the fire running his fingers through his hair. “Not bloody now!” He says to the lawn chair, then looks back to Odessa.

“We uhhh, we ehhh— ” Woods stammers, scratching at the side of his head and then down his jawline. “We haven't had a telepath in a while. Last one, ah, the ah, Remi? Landmine.” Both of Woods’ hands spread up in the air. “Bloody awful mess. I'm not— do you think,” he squints and grimaces, “is that safe?”

When would Odessa ever recommend an unsafe psychic procedure?

That hand withdraws as though she’s touched something hot. Brows come together over blue eyes that shine with unshed tears. “I don’t know,” Odessa admits with a shrug of her shoulders. “It could be a terrible idea. Or it could help sort out what’s… what. Maybe we can figure out a way to disentangle you two.”

There’s a nervous glance sent over to the supposedly occupied chair. “If that’s what the both of you want,” Odessa amends, expression full of worry. “I just want whatever’s going to… have the best chance of making things alright for you.” It hurts to see him like this.

Woods swallows awkwardly, running one hand through his hair. “Things haven't been alright fer a while now,” he says exasperatedly, trying to catch his breath. “An’ I'm not even talkin’ about the war, either. I spent a long time in a concrete box, gettin’ fed through a bloody slot, poked an’ prodded an’…” As he trails off, Woods sighs.

“I don’ know if this is a mental thing,” Woods says with a tap of two fingers to his head, “or a spooky science thing. I'm not a bloody scientist an’ all the ones I knew’re dead or basically Nazis.” He laughs, an awkward giggling splutter.

Then, with both resignation and reservation in his voice he admits, “Maybe I should see Kaylee…”

“It can’t hurt.” Can it? Odessa shrugs a little helplessly. Then, she closes the distance between them and wraps her arms around him. “I don’t think you’re crazy,” she assures him. Whatever’s going on, it’s real in some capacity. Even if it’s a psychic echo of someone dead, it’s still something. And she’s certain Kaylee’s the best person to suss it out.

“I know you’re not my James,” she tells him as she withdraws, trailing off. She isn’t sure how to finish that sentence. Maybe it’s just a declaration that needs to be made. Because the lines are so, so easy to blur. “But I’m going to do what I can for you.” The way she couldn’t for him.

Tense like a wild animal caught in a trap, Woods only seemed to relax once Odessa had backed off. This entire situation was nearly too much for him to bear, and thinking that she was physically here but also metaphysically there was challenging. Excruciating. He'd become accustomed to his own personal purgatory.

“Do they got plans for you?” Woods wonders, brows raised. “Or… or d’you have plans for yerself? I— we don't know Kaylee. An’ it'd mean a lot if you could— I don't know— help?” Grimacing, Woods takes one hand through his hair. “I'll be the bloody first t’admit that I'm scared. So…”

He looks to the lawn chair, squinting. “Now is not the bloody time t’be thinkin’ about that!” He shouts, flustered. “Maybe if we can get you back t’physical we can discuss the bloody particulars of inter dimensional polyamory!

Woods sighs, exasperatedly.

The withdraw happens quicker the moment she realizes her mistake. The things that were a comfort then aren’t one here, and it’s a harsh but necessary reminder. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she murmurs quickly, puts more distance between the two of them. Her instincts don’t always serve her well.

“I’ll make introductions,” she’s quick to assure with words instead. “I… I don’t know her well,” Odessa admits, “but well enough to feel like she’ll help us.” Help him. She opens her mouth to say something else when she’s apparently cut off by her invisible/incorporeal/intangible/??? Counterpart. Color floods into her cheeks and she looks pointedly away, drawing her lower lip between her teeth. That’s a thought that never entered her mind before.

“Look,” she says softly, rolling her eyes at her own embarrassment, “we’ll take this one step at a time. First Kaylee, then we figure out where to from there. I know they’re talking about trying to get into the city to find someone that can help us get to the next stop,” speaking of plans for her. “I think I’m going to lend a hand with that.” She has to find her mother.

Slowly, Woods inclines his head into a nod and draws in a deep breath. “Telepath, yeah. Just put the ol' whammy on ol’ James and…” He trails off, trying to recollect his thoughts as he draws his hands down his stubbled face.

“Okay,” Woods blurts out, “okay. Just take me t’your bloody head shrink, an’ we’ll have a gay old time romping through the old thinker. An’… an’…” He looks to the lawn chair, lost.

“An’ maybe we can figure all'a this out.” Woods slowly looks back to Odessa, visibly scared by everything. “I can’t lose her. You. The— bloody fuck.”

“I know,” Odessa murmurs, feeling like a fist is squeezing her heart in her chest. She couldn’t lose him either. Neither, apparently, could the Odessa of this world. Would she have given herself to save her James, if there had been anything left to save? She likes to think she would. Blue gaze drifts down and away to one side, staring past the gravel and broken concrete landscape.

“We’ll find a way.” A way to save her? A way to let him keep holding onto whatever it is that’s left of her? Odessa isn’t sure. But whatever it is he needs, she’s determined to help him.

Woods, not so convinced, stares into the fire with a vacant expression. He is a thin, haunted, ghost of the man she knew. “Yeah,” he mumbles, brows creased with unvoiced worry. It isn't like what she's used to with him, but there's still familiarity in the way he compartmentalizes and pushes down his problems.

Here at the end of the world, Woods is the closest thing Odessa has left to normal.

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