No Shit, There I Was


luther_icon.gif odessa_icon.gif

Scene Title No Shit, There I Was
Synopsis She has work and therapy. He does not. Both are trouble.
Date January 2, 2020

Plum Island SLC-Expressive Center

“No shit, there I was in the cafeteria, trying to make polite small talk with Pete Varlane, when who rolls up? Donna Dunlap with a fucking chair.” Odessa leans forward in her chair as she recounts the tale of her one and only prison scrap. (Thus far.) “So she sa-wings for Pete, and I just slide down in my seat like this—”

The blonde leans back and sliiiinks down in her seat, stretching out with one foot until she touches the leg of the armchair across from her. “And I yank the chair so it goes toppling backward, taking Varlane with it.” She bolts upright in her seat again. “I jump to my feet, and I vault the table so I can get between the two of them and keep anyone from getting themselves killed.”

Odessa’s eyes are wide and vibrant as she speaks, apparently thrilled by the retelling even now. “You know what she did? She popped me right in the jaw!” One fist sails through the air in front of her in slow motion, pantomiming the punch she received. “The Company taught her well. She’s got a mean hook.”

Luther has a fist up to his mouth not in a mirror of the pantomimed punch, but in that mostly contemplative and half-hidden amused manner as he listens to the harrowing tale. Storm grey eyes are riveted to the blonde woman across him, not breaking off to glance sidelong to the encroachment of her leg and foot. “‘S better than wrestling,” he comments as an aside to the anecdote. “But what the fuck even started it? And why Dunlap v. Varlane?”

He could theorize any number of reasons. But he starts with, “Just because, ‘Pete Varlane’?”

Does a cat have to give a reason for swiping at something she doesn’t like? No, she does not.

“I mean, Varlane’s an asshole,” Odessa reasons with a shrug of her shoulders. “Not many of us need much more reason than that. If it weren’t for him, some of the people in this place wouldn’t be here. I’m pretty sure he was at least partially responsible for holding her girlfriend captive?” A second shrug, this one to indicate cluelessness.

“And you know what?” Now Odessa straightens up in her seat and lifts her chin. “I didn’t even fight back. Not even a little bit.” She flashes him a wide grin. “Proud of me?”

A small throaty noise escapes Luther as he weighs such circumstances. The corners of his mouth pull down for a pause, then he nods. “Fair,” he notes in agreement at first. Because, Pete Varlane. Angled brows arching, Luther tilts his head at the woman’s grin, and his expression turns wry and humored. “Sure, proud of you for stickin’ up and keepin’ them from doing something they’d regret.” Well, hopefully they regret doing crime, first.

“But they probably had to do something as a countermeasure, didn’t they,” he says. They, being the PISEC security team. His gaze shifts momentarily to the guards posted at the further off entrance and exit points, then returns to Odessa. “You get locked up in the hole for that?” Luther considers, makes a face. Solitary confinement is not something he would enjoy At All.

“Nah,” Odessa shakes her head, her nose wrinkling a little. “I wound up in medical for a while, due to the splitting headache Dunlap gave me, but that’s as isolated as I wound up being.” Thankfully.

She’s reshaping the truth a little of course, but this is the version of it she tells. If she’s going to lie, she’d better commit to it. It’s safer for everyone involved if how things really went, or why she really needed to go to medical, stays between her and whatever higher power there may be. Admitting to having manifested a new ability would be folly at this juncture.

“What about you? Any fun scraps lately? Or shitty scraps?” Odessa pauses a moment, then frowns faintly. “Mediocre scraps?”

“Glad you didn’t wind up breaking something on your pretty face,” Luther says, head tilting just so to the other side as if recognizing the embellishment to her story. Whether or not he fully believes it, the man accepts its face value and doesn’t appear to pressure for more details than that. But he does rest his chin on his palm, fingers pressed into the thickness of his beard and knuckles against his mouth.

What sounds like an innocent question shifts his thoughts in a visible, uncomfortable turn upon him like a fresh twist drawing sour juice from a lemon. Luther leans backwards in his chair and stares just off to the side of her face, silent for a longer moment. His thoughts crank noticeably. “Yeah. Got in a scrap or two,” he finally admits with none of the pride she’d offered before. “Drunk punk of a kid went over the line at the bar. Set him straight, ‘til he came back with a friend and a beer pitcher.” The fingers move and brush against the side of his temple and brow, where a medical professional like herself wouldn’t have to look too closely to notice the healing cut. It’ll scar, but not badly.

It’ll simply add more character, to put it lightly.

Still, Luther shakes his head, his self-disappointment evident. “Should have handled it better,” he confesses. “Almost had the thought that I could fry that kid alive.” At least it sounds like he didn’t. But it’s a disturbing enough thought that Luther shakes his head again and looks down to his lap. A long breath in lifts his chest and shoulders, and he exhales out slowly.

“You really think I’m pretty?” Odessa bats her lashes at Luther, but it’s a joke they’re both in on. It doesn’t expect any kind of response.

He’s letting her have her half-truths without complaint, and so she doesn’t pry for details about his encounter, beyond what he’s already given. “Shitty scrap, then,” she assesses thoughtfully. “It’s easy, you know, to let that kind of power go to your head.” She speaks from experience. “To know it would be so easy to wipe someone off the face of the planet. Just snap your fingers,” and she does, a satisfying pop! of sound, “and that’s it. One less miscreant in the world.”

Odessa tips her head to one side, considering for a moment. “It’s good that you didn’t. You’re not like me. That’d eat you away.” Not to say that some of the blood on her hands hasn’t proven corrosive to her soul, but not as much of it as should. “My therapist says it’s okay to have the thoughts. It’s how you act that defines who you are.”

Luther snorts faintly, recognizing the shared joke. "Sure I do," he responds nonetheless, genuine in his answer, no half-truths tossed there. Grey eyes drop their gaze away down to his hands as she goes on, then jump back up at the sound of the pop. His brows furrow. One less miscreant, she says. And that he's not like her.

He'd hoped to ease back into the more pleasant parts of their conversation, but her words leave him with morbid curiosity. "They gave you a therapist?" he asks, brows lifting. "It's 'okay' to have 'the thoughts'," tests Luther, "but nothing saying it's normal to have 'em in the first place, huh?" The statement wrings out of him, twisting from the dry towel of his own thoughts on Evolved ethics.

Luther shakes his head slowly at Odessa, his skepticism evident. "But," the man notes with a glance to their surroundings, "better than getting into fights with inmates for the hell of it. Glad you're talkin' to someone about things." Luther scrubs a hand along his bearded jaw. He won't admit, but the interest is piqued. "What else they tell you?"

“I think they’re starting with baby steps with me,” Odessa reasons with a shrug. “It’s either do the therapy or they up my antipsychotics again, and I’m not a fan of that.” Perhaps she’s surprisingly honest and open about the things she deals with, but maybe it’s also just a way to make conversation. “I don’t… propose to be normal. Ever. So…”

When he asks what else, she frowns thoughtfully. “The usual sorts of things, I suppose. That it’s okay to have all these big feelings that I don’t know what to do with.” If they only knew. “I’m supposed to find constructive outlets. So I play a lot of board games.” Odessa grins. “Which is great,” and she is sarcastic, “because nobody here actually likes me? And then we throw competition into the mix.” It’s long since past the time when being hated bothered her. She’s more confused when the opposite turns out to be true.

Her voice gets quieter, everything about her more sincere. “I’ve been hoping they’ll grant my request for a piano. I’d really like an upright at least. I know better than to ask for a grand.” She looks down at the table, mind slowly drifting elsewhere. “My brother and I used to play together. I miss that.”

There's a high amount of skepticism in Luther's expression as she recounts her choice (or lack thereof) of activities. Angled brows lift at the antipsychotics part. The man blinks a couple times. "Weren't they saying this was a work-it-off type deal?" muses the man aloud in regards to constructive outlets. Board games hardly seems so. But maybe he's missing something himself.

When her voice quiets, his musings drizzle back into focus upon her. "They're doing good as ever," supplies Luther in some vague reported consolation prize, but in the same breath sounding like he approves of it. The Ruizes should be alright. "More than what could be said for the rest of us. You. Me. Some days, it still feels like we haven't left the war behind." Luther lifts his chin, lower lip firming at that discomforting thought.

He clears his throat. "I'd put in a good word on the piano, but it's not like they'll listen to anything that comes out of me, the old, unemployed bum. Maybe it's a work-up-to-it sort of incentive. Gotta prove you won't secretly garrote a guard with a G-string." A small, wry smirk curls one-sidedly.

“Oh, I do plenty of that, too.” Odessa says of work. Her smile and the way she fixes her gaze on him is held just a beat too long, without an apparent reason. Perhaps she’s still just awkward when it comes to social cues.

His comment about garroting someone elicits a soft chuckle from the blonde. “I know you’re talking about piano wire, but that is not the mental image I had just now.” Odessa brings one hand up to her mouth to stifle her giggles against her knuckles. “They don’t let me have those either,” she jokes.

The smile fades again - not entirely, but some of its strength ebbs away. “You know, I… I’ve given a lot of thought to what you said to me before. About following my gut and not just doing what I’m told.”

If there was an awkwardness to the longer than usual gaze, it is returned in kind with the patiently blank neutral that Odessa came to know, when she worked at RayTech, as Luther's security head observation stare. The sort of mixture of the thousand-yard plus situational awareness made fiercer by virtue of the man's naturally angled brows. Both which tick up when she keeps that smile for just a beat longer than expected.

The lines held there stay, joined again by the return of a wry smirk and a shake of his head for the lewd mental image. But, he doesn't begrudge her the moment's levity, especially when that moment fades. At her next words, he tilts his head sideways, curious. "Yeah?" he asks, "And what'd you come up with so far? Maybe not the good choices." He holds up a finger to stop any offense. "But maybe, moral ones." The finger drops to tap twice on the table between them.

“I’ve kind of come up with the idea that good choices, moral choices, aren’t often the easy ones,” Odessa supposes with a hint of amusement. “But… I think I’m on the right track now.” She looks down at her hands, which she folds in her lap, but fidgets. Slowly, she looks up again. “I’m really trying. No matter what anyone says about me later, I’m telling you the truth right now.”

Odessa glances around the room as though she expects someone to descend upon her and haul her back to her room. When that doesn’t happen, she lets out a quiet sigh. “I don’t know why it’s so important to me to make sure you know that, but… It is.”

Whatever bit of confessional they’re having, Luther respects its vague gravitas. He weighs her words in long beats of silence, still and unmoving in contrast to her nervous glances to their surroundings. Then the faint hint of a smile peeks back through the neutral, if stern, face. “Doing better than I am, then,” he says as he too looks past her to their conversation’s setting. How could he say that, given the givens?

“Ever since leaving RayTech.” Shaking his head slowly, Luther drops his gaze to the table top, brow pinching. “Like you said, though. You’re trying. And that’s good.” Gradually his gaze lifts back up. He blinks at her. “You’ve at least got a therapist.”

“You’re a good person,” Odessa insists, leaning forward a little as she says it to reinforce her sincerity. “You want to do what’s right, even when it’s not easy.” She smirks and briefly lifts her brows. “You wanted to turn me in, after all.” Which was certainly right, and proved incredibly difficult.

“Her name’s Doctor Everleigh Madison, by the way. She’s very good, if you decide you’d like to talk to someone.” Odessa’s smirk has relaxed into a comfortable smile. “Someone other than me, anyway. I’m not sure how much good I do you, but I hope it helps unburden you a little. It’s always good to see you.”

Luther sits straighter upon her lean forward. A mild balk, a faint furrowing of his brow in uncertainty at first, couples with the tight twitch of his jawline. He wants to disagree, still, stubbornly. The storm colored eyes avert not from guilt but from thought, from mulling over the woman's words. He'll consider it.

His attention refocuses from the blanked stare with a blink, and slowly he nods once, hands moving his knees as he pushes up to a stand. "Thanks," Luther says for the recommendation and the kindness.

As he stands, the guard overseeing their conversation stirs to activity once more and starts the motions to unlock the door to their meeting area.

Luther glances to the exit, turns, pauses in an afterthought. "You do more than you think," he tells her quietly, bearded cheeks pulling up in a mirrored warmth of her comfort. "And it's always good to see you smile."

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