No Happy Ending


gabriel_icon.gif odessa_icon.gif

Scene Title No Happy Ending
Synopsis Odessa shares her fears with Gabriel. She shares something else with him as well.
Date August 10, 2010

Coney Island

Despite it's name Coney Island is a peninsula, and only formerly an island. This small piece of real-estate is the southern-most point in Brooklyn, with beachfront property abutted by the Atlantic Ocean. A neighborhood of the same name is a community of 60,000 people in the western part of the peninsula, with Seagate to its west; Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach to its east; and the Gravesend neighborhood to the north.

This area was once a major resort and site of amusement parks that reached its peak in the early 20th century. It declined in popularity after World War II and endured years of neglect. Since the bomb, Coney Island has fallen into a tragic state of disrepair, most prominently evidenced by the closing of the amusement parks on the island, notably Astroland and Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. The latter of those two serves as a rusting and monolithic ferris wheel that overlooks the decrepit state of the island. It's once bright carnation red paint peeling to reveal rusted steel.

Much of the amusement park areas surrounding the beach are now closed off by chain-link fence, though some portions have been battered down by vandalism and portions of the closed amusement parks are now used by gangs and other unsavory figures as meeting sites. With the NYPD stretched to its limits, police rarely have the availability to respond in a timely manner to this small and remote penninsula, making it a relatively dangerous part of Brooklyn.

It's a strange kind of time of day, because it's summer, and the sun at this angle probably would have shone down on a milling crowd upon the boardwalk, albeit through low cloud and smog. That was then, this is now, and things have changed. At Gabriel's back, there's an amusement park that wasn't even taken apart in the wake of neglect, its pieces left like a technicolour mausoleum of iron and rust, diamond wire fence making halfhearted warning and protection out of Coney Island, but it doesn't take long to find gaps in the wiring, if you even need gaps in the wiring. Seabirds stand like sentries on the fence that sags in places, their feet grey and clinging, their feathers mottled, and eyes sharp.

Further down the beach, a small cluster of youths share a joint in the sand, and if they've glanced Gabriel's way, they haven't done so with enough attention to recognise who they're sharing a general vicinity with of more than one hundred metres. He's dressed in black and stands on the lip of planked wood, where it drops onto soft sand that stretches for some distance before bilgey ocean greases up on grey froth and a heaving kind of rhythm.

It looks as first like one of the boys is just being greedy with his pull, the way he keeps it held to his lips for a little longer than is reasonable. The clue that something is off is the way the trail of smoke stays suspended and unwavering in the air.

"You always did have a fondness for bleak beaches and shores," Odessa muses, tracking across the sand in chunky-heeled brown knee-high boots. The hem of her white skirt is steadily turning shades of grey and off-black where it drags along the ground, obscuring the footprints she leaves behind. Perhaps unintentionally.

Dark blue eyes twinkle as Odessa makes her way toward Gabriel. "It's kind of fun, isn't it?" She gestures to the less than picturesque scene paused before them. "I see you've met Clara."

It's a little jarring, the halt of time, as birds freeze too, time-trapped, sharply severing his empathic grip on their tiny subconsciouses. Gabriel's eyes widen not in surprise, but in the kind of expression one gets in a change of altitude, jaw loosening and a small shiver of a head shake following before he's looking towards where Odessa is approach him. "I met Clara," he agrees, with secret humour, and lets gravity reel him down as he steps off boardwalk and onto sand, sensible shoes sinking into sand, all pebbles, dead weeds, trash in the edges.

"You wanted to see me?"

With Odessa's grip on time, she doesn't think twice about turning away to watch the unmoving water. She holds one hand out toward it, cocking her head to one side and twitching her fingers slightly, as though adjusting the tension of invisible threads. Slowly, the water laps at the shoreline again. Breaks up the unnatural silence.

A soft sigh passes her lips. Her gaze stays on the water. "I've got a problem, Gabriel. And I don't have a lot of people I trust to turn to." Odessa runs her tongue over her teeth. "The Company is going to be swallowed up by the government. And the Institute is going to gain control of the Company's isotope tracking system."

Platinum blonde head turns, dark brows lifting and disappearing beneath shaggy layers. Bangs grown out. I don't have to tell you that's not a good thing, right? "I have it on good authority that they're already looking for me." Her lips pull into a pout, albeit a faux one. "You don't want them to find me, do you?"

An eyebrow goes up just a fraction at this news. It isn't shocking, some sort of logical decline, and it's only one devil for another. Maybe they'll even keep the same janitorial staff, and very likely the same hobbies. Gabriel's attention eventually drifts back out to noisy beach, the polluted sunlight doing nothing to highlight what a blue body of water it might have been, all things gone a little grey. "I guess it depends on what they want you for," he says, with a shrug of a shoulder. "Historically, you've been the one on the right side of the glass."

Odessa's lower jaw shifts to one side, a look of annoyance. "Do you want me on that side of the glass again?" She crouches down and drags her fingers over the sand, drawing lazy swirls and X's. "The alternative is one of those coffins of theirs, I imagine. Not so keen on that." She tips her head up, the sunlight sharpening her features with shadows more than softening them. It makes her looks severe. "It's not just me they'll be coming after if they get access to the tracking system. Someone needs to be ready to move people if it comes down to it…"

Sand is shook away from her fingers, brushed from recently manicured nails. "I need to figure out where they put my tracker. I always injected it here," she brings those teal painted nails up to tap at the side of her neck. "But I can't find the tell-tale marks. It's like they knew I'd know what I was looking for or something." She smirks wryly. "I need it out. I'm not going back to some government facility where they can play me like a fucking puppet!" A shudder runs through Odessa's frame.

"So what do you need me for?"

His heavy head tilts to the left as he regards her with open interest and curiosity, if dulled, as ever, never really alive except in certain circumstances that she's seen from an observer's perspective. She, crouched in the sand, and Gabriel remains upright, studying the halo the hazy sunshine makes on her crown. "You know what you want to do and you don't need my protection, not with your power. It doesn't really matter where I want you, but I've seen where you've been. You've had a hard two years.

"What do you care, anyway? About all those people?" He tucks his hands into his pockets, glances down to where he makes a short trench through the sand with his heel. "I guess the Ferry's rubbed off on you."

"Isn't that how it's supposed to work? People like us are supposed to grow a conscience?" Odessa frowns. "I owe some people a debt of gratitude. It would be a great way to repay that debt if I was able to keep them from ending up in government custody, I think. Then," she reasons, "I won't owe anything to anyone." She sweeps him up and down once with just her eyes. Then, she looks out at the water with a small huff. "Look, I'm scared, and you're the only man bigger and badder than the people I'm afraid of. I just need to hear you say that if they try to fuck with me, you're going to fuck them up worse."

Weight shifts from side to side for a moment before she lets out another heavy breath. "Oh, and I really miss you," Odessa rolls her eyes, annoyed at having to admit this, "I should mention that too."

"You're not supposed to believe in fairytale redemption arcs, on account of the fact there's no happy ending," Gabriel points out, toe of his boot burying into sand. "But I have a belief in returned favours. I already plan to fuck them up worse." If not necessarily this Thursday or anything. Battles and wars and the difference between, time management, etcetera.

Abruptly, he sits down on the edge of the boardwalk, tilting his face up a little to enjoy the clear feeling of wind off the water. Pollution doesn't really touch the breeze too badly. The subject of missing him is analysed quietly, before he counters it with; "If it's any consolation, I would have let you run away." In the event that she was Institutionalised on the right side of the glass.

"I still think we should have run away together when we had the chance," Odessa admits in a quiet voice. She manoeuvres herself to sit down next to Gabriel. "I get why it was for the best that we didn't." Because Hell only knows what Kazimir would have been capable of, if not for their defiance. "Still. I think sometimes about how things would have been different." Impassively, she pokes fun at herself, "And because I'm prone to fairytale mentality, I like to think only of the way things could have been better."

Dark blue eyes close and Odessa leans back as if sunning herself. "What has she got that I haven't?" Doctor Price knows through the grapevine what she has that Eileen doesn't (anymore). "Do you like being verbally abused? Having things thrown at you?"

One eye opens and the temporal manipulator peers out of the corner of it. "Has her aim improved any?"

"Not lately. And sometimes," is easy answer, moderately coy, maybe honest. "But it's been a while."

Gabriel stretches his legs out in front of him, apparently unphased by this line of questioning — maybe it's a debate he's contemplated himself, or maybe trivial enough for it to matter as much as the foam gathering on the dirty seashore, without substance, eroding at the slightest breath of air. "She's constant. And she loves me in a way that I can trust. She has the capacity to hate me too — I've seen it. It's safer that way."

"How does that remotely translate as safer? I'm surprised she hasn't tried to kill you yet." Odessa squares her shoulders and turns her nose up just the littlest bit more. "I've never tried to murder you." Being possessed does not count. Neither do clones. And that wasn't her idea anyway. "It seems to me that she's changed you. What was wrong with the way you were before?" A rhetorical question, that.

"It's not that I need you to take care of me," Odessa reasons. "It's just… I like having you around. I like learning from you. I feel as if I'm stagnating at times. But I don't feel unappreciated." Which might explain why she doesn't just go.

Taking in a deep breath of salty air, Gabriel's smile is small and feline, before he pushes himself back up to stand. "Safer, because I can trust her to make a first strike when she needs to," he says. "Because when she does love me, it'll mean something, and because she isn't like you. Unconditional. Unreasoned. It's attractive, for me, like that day in Abby's bar, when you were everything I needed for a split second. Open and honest affection. Happiness to know that I was alive, like I mattered. I'd hurt Eileen and she had withheld — and over the long run, that's what I want. Her challenges.

"I know that now. The person I was before— well." He turns, now, planting a boot up on the planked wood, pushing himself up to step up.

"Maybe you know what it's like to be ruled by addiction. The difference between you and me is that yours dragged you through the mud, and I made art out of the people in my way to the next fix and people used me for it. Kazimir used me. You did, in your own way. I prefer it this way."

Odessa's features stay passive, as if what he's just said hasn't affected her at all. Though that's perhaps the biggest red flag that he has gotten through to her. She reaches out her hand, expecting help to stand. "That's all I needed to hear," she says in a quiet voice. There's no sorrow, no anger. There is, however, a touch of relief. "I don't know if you expected me to want to fight for you or something. Scream or cry about it. It's not worth it." She smiles, "Besides, that's part of the unconditional thing. Wanting you to be happy. Even if it isn't with me."

"I don't expect," is simply stated, and for a moment, Gabriel stands still, eyes black discs in this light, eyebrows achieving a quizzical kind of curve as insistent river wind plays with the top most sand layer beneath them, the hems of his sleeves. Then, he moves, taking a hold of her hand — and as soon as tension winds up her arm, wrist to shoulder, in the momentum of tugging her to her feet, there's a glimmer of gold-tinged white light that seems to play between them where skin touches.

It gets a softly surprised sound scraping from Gabriel's throat, a little mirthful. On Odessa's part, nothing is felt, not even where that light glimmered over his knuckles. He drops her hand and steps back, a glance over his palm for all that there is nothing to be spotted on lined skin.

Odessa stares down where her and and his touched. She tries to keep the interest from showing, but she can't keep the light out of her eyes. That keen curiosity and thirst for knowledge. "What was that?" she asks, wincing instantly at the eagerness in her tone. "What did you just do?" She examines her own hand briefly before reaching out to look over both sides of his palm intently.

Nothing. Just a hand. Gabriel let's her observe for as long as it takes to realise that before pulling back again. "A replication of a replication," he says, fingers stretching, relaxing. "I mimicked a power from someone who mimicked powers through exposure. Via that power, I was exposed to and therefore copied a power that mimicks abilities through touch. And that's how I have yours, but it won't last long. And I can't understand them the way I usually do, not this way, when it's too easy. Which is why it happens by accident."

And that's the not at all convoluted explanation as to why Gabriel is infinitely powerful some more. "Sorry," seems appropriate, delivered flatly.

The blonde allows the man to pull his hand away when she's satisfied that there's nothing to be discovered in the lines of his palms. She listens patiently to his explanation, head tipping to one side in tandem with a smirk that grows. "You took my ability?"

Odessa raises one hand and snaps her fingers sharply. The stoners on the beach resume their ritual game of puff, puff, pass, the birds once again allow their sight to be tapped. "Go on then. Show me what you can do with it, big man."

A glance around the place has Gabriel reminding him why he came here — stillness, save for the details of the youths down the beach, the lapping water, but no suitable canvas to experiment, to show off. Without explanation, he slides his eyes closed, and there's the cry of a gull before one flying overhead casts a shadow over the two of them, darting and small. And then another. And another. It doesn't take half a minute for a minor flock of seabirds to have been pulled from all corners of the beach, creating a tornado of white and brown feather above the immediate ocean.

Nothing has more motion than birds, Gabriel has decided a long time ago. Now, he extends a hand, fingers spread out almost into a starfish, and without fanfare, without shimmers of light or sound effects, the birds simply stop, caught frozen in the pinwheeling funnel they make. A solitary feather dances down where it skipped the temporal freeze, wafting to the gritty beach.

The stoners watch the display huddled in a group, like blood-shot eyed meerkats.

Odessa stifles a giggle, nodding her approval. "That's a good start." She ducks under his outstretched arm and lays hers over his, using it like a sight to point out her target. "You see that one?" She singles out a single gull. "Got his head cocked kind of funny?" She tilts her head to one side to mimic. "Let that one go, but hold the rest of the group."

There's a lilt to her tone. A challenge. She doesn't think he can do it. To be fair, it's a trick that it took her years to learn. There's a part of her that is hoping he can't manage it.

A glance her way shows some suspicion that she is just fucking with him, before Gabriel narrows his gaze on the bird in question. She can tell that he decides it's possible after all with the way his arm regains some tension, as if to channel his energy and his focus down the scope that limb makes, head ducking down a little and brow tensing. For a second, it almost works — the bird breaks free of its time prison, but as soon as it starts, the rest of it dissolves like a crumbling cookie. The gulls immediately around it are suddenly flapping through the air, then the ones beyond them, and beyond them, until a chaotic mess of avian life is scattering into the sky.

White tooth shows a little in the curl of his lip, letting his arm relax by his side, before his head twitches a little in a shrugging gesture. "Takes practice," he assesses.

"Ooh. So it doesn't all just come easily. Catalogued into the library of your brain." Odessa turns on her heels to face Gabriel, carefully resting her hands on his shoulders, guiding his arm back down to his side. "Okay, now I want you to concentrate on what you're feeling."

Slowly, her palms slide over his arms. "This is the closest approximation to what time feels like. Flowing over your skin. Do you feel it?" Odessa casts a hopeful glance upward to her new pupil, obviously delighting in having something to offer him.

Unreadably, Odessa can feel the way his gaze moves from one of her eyes to the other, as if trying to read something there or interpret the bright-eyed hope tilted up towards him. That attention skims to the corners of his eyes to take note of their spectators, but with all the gnat-like attention span afforded to them, the teenagers have stopped watching the Evo freaks and their show, no recognition paid towards the most wanted man in America.

Feeling time is not a new concept, but only from deprivation. Clara's ability allows for stasis, a sensory pause to the flow of time not unlike the numbness of earth's cold, icy base in which she resided. He lived there for months, and upon them breaking back open the frozen time-lock they'd existed in, the scoring winds had felt on the same plane as the sudden flow of time and space, sandpapering its aging quality over every surface imaginable, and those that aren't.

"Yes," he answers, recognising that feeling once more, like wind off the river.

"Good," Odessa murmurs, letting her hands slide over the end of his finger tips. Once she's free, everything around them pauses again. The kids, the birds, the waves. "Feel the difference?" She even squirms, rolling her shoulders slowly as she gets used to the absense of that tingling under her skin. The kind of sensation one doesn't notice until it's gone. Not understanding how Clara's ability operates, she doesn't realise her lesson is somewhat redundant.

"I think it must be some sort of check and balance… The longer I hold myself apart from the rest of time, the more it aches. Fatigue settles in if I hold too long." Odessa presses her lips together, gauging Gabriel's reaction. "Maybe it's my body's way of telling me I can't cheat the universe forever." But damned if she's going to stop trying. "Some days it's more effortless than others. The more practice I have, the easier it gets to ignore it." She turns away and holds out her hand toward the water. "That's the worst of it. Holding back the ocean. It's so much bigger than just this pocket that I'm manipulating now. Do you feel it trying to push back at us?"

He listens with the interest of a decent student, the same way he'd pay attention to Kazimir's explanations on how his own, original ability could flourish, or Eileen describing feather patterns, nesting birds. Wu-Long and his ceramic knives and martial grace, Ethan and a semi-automatic rifle. Gabriel is not above learning and proves it now as he listens, takes heed, extends his senses to better understand Odessa's intention in her words.

When he lifts a hand, there's a feeling of something shattering, a jarring sensation that is only imagined as opposed to real. It's time suddenly starting again as if the ocean really had broken through, their ears tingling with sudden ambient noise, the wind making pressure on their skin.

Gabriel's smile is almost impish, suppressed. "I should get going," is a kind of gently drawn line in the sand, before the lesson can inherit structure and conclusion, before he plays with things he can't keep — such as her power.

There's a small gasp from Odessa when Gabriel manages to do just as she instructed him to. She turns slowly and smiles. There's a little sadness there, like there always is when he tells her it's time they part ways again. "You be careful, okay?" Not just with her ability, either. "I don't want to see you in the Greenbelt unless it's to bring me coffee."

To her credit, it's Odessa who turns and begins to walk away first. "And Sylar," she says just loud enough to be heard over the sound of the water, use of the outdated name possibly entirely accidental for once, "if the Institutes finds me… You'd better come for me." Booted footprints in the sand shift and obscure as dingy cotton drags over them. "I'll never be able to teach you how to do the really cool stuff otherwise." A waved hand dismisses her grip on time. Dismisses Gabriel.

By the time he's dismissed, he's gone, vanishing swiftly enough in inky tendrils and agility so that by the time Odessa looks over his shoulder, there's nothing there by smeary foot prints. That's if, of course, she grants him a last glance upon the silence her words receive, the way he doesn't like to make promises, even the ones he intends to keep.

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