Not a Dog


eileen_icon.gif odessa_icon.gif

Scene Title Not a Dog
Synopsis Eileen may have been beaten to the punch by Susan Ball, but she's not to be outdone. She makes an offer that leaves Odessa a little stunned.
Date May 24, 2010

Village Renaissance Building - Fourth Floor Safehouse

The floors here on the fourth level of the Village Renaissance Building at 14 East 4th Street are of polished grey marble and the smooth walls are painted a cream color. Four corridors with four apartments each are found here, with stairwells at the front and back and elevators centrally placed in each corridor. The elevators have buttons for the first three floors visible, and control panels requiring both key and keycard to open.

The apartment doors, made from sturdy pine, are operated by keycards only on this floor. Like the second and third floors, they're numbered 401-416.

But that's where the similarity ends. This floor isn't for rental to the general public. It's a place reserved for temporary stays by whomever the person who lives on the top floor chooses to give sanctuary.

It's a safehouse of the Ferrymen, operated by a member of Phoenix, using the cover of musician's eccentricities to explain away the motley crew of folks who might come and go if anyone should ask.

For one of the first times in a very long time, daybreak has brought sunshine with it. New York is slowly beginning to thaw and things are beginning to feel like they're getting better. Odessa even feels like she's beginning to get better. Her eyelids flutter as the rays of sun through the window have crept slowly over her face. Nature's alarm clock. At her side, Schroedinger stirs as well. Stands up, curls up against her mistress' hip, and closes her eyes to sleep again.

Yawning widely, Odessa wipes the sleep from the corners of her eyes and turns her head to stare across the room. The bathroom always seems so far away in the morning without her first dose of morphine. Brushing her teeth isn't that important right now, is it? No. A dogeared book is picked up from the bedside table and the blonde pages through the bodice-ripper to find where she left off.

More than a few minutes but less than a full hour — there's no way for Odessa to know how long the figure in black has been watching her sleep from its position in her bedroom doorway, pale face eclipsed by shadow and a veil of long, dark hair that stands out against a slender sliver of jaw and taciturn chin. It's watcher's pale green eyes rather than her frail build or unforgiving features that makes her immediately recognizable to the temporal manipulator even before she makes her presence known by dragging the edge of one nail along the the door's frame with a sharp hiss of keratin on wood.

Far be it from Eileen to criticize Odessa's choice of reading material. There are other, less recent decisions the other woman has made that she'd much rather disparage, but for now she holds her tongue except to say, "Good morning."

Odessa's book is tossed aside in an instant in favour of freeing up her hands. It lands with a muted thud on the bedding, sending Schroedinger up and darting under the bed. Shame on her for not alerting the laid up doctor that she had a visitor. Though a scratch behind the ear is all it takes for the Persian to make friends with someone. Such stark contrast to the woman who owns her.

"Eileen," Odessa gasps, pressing a hand to her chest. She's in obvious pain from her sudden movements, which culiminated in an instinctive need to sit up and see who's invaded her space. This is what she gets for not paying attention. "You scared the life out of me." After a deep breath, the blonde is dragging herself up to sit with her back against a wedge pillow settled against the bed's headboard. "To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?"

Whether Eileen's company falls under the definition of pleasurable depends on who you are. Odessa's choice of words brings a smile to the Englishwoman's lips that is neither particularly kind nor particularly cruel. She opts not to step into the light, presses her mouth into a thinner line to conceal her disdain and responds with a lift of one small shoulder. "I heard you were hurt," she says, "and it's been a few years since I've had the opportunity to see Sasha's work. How are you feeling?"

"About as well as can be expected, I imagine." Odessa's never quite been in this position before, so she isn't sure how she should be feeling except like shit. "You're welcome to take a look if you like. I have to admit, I'm impressed." It's not that she didn't expect that Sasha could be just as capable as she, but… She's really only seen the more monstrous effects of his work.

The view from where Eileen is already must be satisfactory because even with an invitation she refuses to enter the room. "Ball says she's set you up with some papers and a room over on Gun Hill." Coming from the Englishwoman, it sounds like an accusation, and knowing what Odessa knows— maybe it is.

"She has." There's little point in denying it. "Quite unexpectedly, I should add. I guess I must have scored points with someone." Finally. Try as she might, Odessa can't quite keep her look as flat and deadpan as she would like it to be. There's just too much exhaustion and pain mingled there to produce the desired effect. "You sound as if you'd prefer that I don't accept her gift."

There's a pause and a subtle shift in Eileen's expression that Odessa can't quite see from her end of the room but can sense when she lowers her hand from the door's frame and slips it into her coat pocket. "I was worried you wouldn't," she says. "Do you mind if I smoke?"

"Go ahead," the blonde allows with an incline of her head. "Why don't you come in here and have a seat? When you stand in the shadows like that, you remind me of…" Odessa trails off and shakes her head to dismiss the thought. "I have to admit, you kind of surprise me, Mun-" Blue eyes close and lips purse at the slip. Someday, she'll retrain herself fully. "I kind of expected you to want me somewhere where I could be out of sight and out of mind until you decide you have need of me."

"It doesn't work that way." Booted footsteps carry Eileen a short distance into the room at a pace that Odessa is most accustomed to hearing broken up by the click of a cane. She fishes a pack of cigarettes from her coat pocket along with a match book already thumbed open. By now, it's a familiar ritual that starts with peeling back gold foil and ends with a spent match being cast away into the rubbish, lit cigarette pinched between a set of lips that are only a few shades darker than Eileen's bone white skin without make-up to accentuate the prim shape they so often take.

She does not sit. "If you're going to help, it's because you want to. Not because I ask."

"I want to help you, when you want me to help you," Odessa counters. "I want to help, but I'm not so naive as to think my help is always desired." It might be a fancy way of saying you have to ask me, or it may just be exactly what she says it is. Dark blue eyes sweep Eileen up and down, brows furrowing just a bit. Her gaze eventually focuses on the end of the woman's cigarette, watching it glow orange when she sucks in a breath. "I'll help the Ferry when they ask for it. I'm not one of you, so I don't expect to be treated like one of you. When you want me, need me, I'll be there. That's how these sorts of arrangements are meant to work, aren't they?"

Two dark brown brows that appear black in the absence of proper light form a dubious arch, further skepticism written in the lines around Eileen's mouth and eyes. The breath she'd sucked in is let out again through her nostrils in the form of two twin streams of smoke, thin and wisping. "No other stipulations? All I have to do is snap my fingers and you're there?"

"I'm not a dog," Odessa remarks somewhat humourlessly. "Within reason, within my capabilities." One shoulder comes up in a shrug. "Nothing is ever so simple. Don't pretend like we both don't know that. It's terribly silly. I'm not entirely pro bono, but I'm not entirely for profit, either. I expect some form of compensation for my help. Right now, I owe the Ferry for this," a hand is waved to encompass her current surroundings, given a place to mend, "and for what Miss Ball has set in motion for me. You'll have my help when you need it."

For now.

"Miss Ball," Eileen echoes, "has a vendetta against people like you and I. Jensen, Ethan — Gabriel. If I were you, I wouldn't put myself in that woman's debt." Her path carves through the room, around furniture, bringing her past the window near Odessa's bedside where she pauses to lift the drapes off the glass with her free hand, a glance angled down at the street below. "But if we're being honest with each other, I wouldn't want to be in mine, either. You can do worse than having an administrative assistant at the Federal Bureau as your personal champion."

"Mm. Quite." It's new information to Odessa, but either she's too out of sorts to address it at the moment, or she's playing it off. It could go either way. "You know me. If I don't really want to be in debt to someone, I won't be. It's a temporary arrangement, I'm sure. Nobody seems to keep me around too long, after all." An ego the size of her (alleged) home state of Texas, but with a self-deprecating streak the length of Tornado Alley.

The drapes fall back into place and Eileen turns to regard Odessa over her shoulder. "You're not a dog, but you talk like you're one. Keep you around? Truly?"

"Could you cut me some fucking slack?" Odessa snarls. "Keep me on, then. Like employment." Though termination of her employment seems to always result in her employer wanting her dead. Doctor Knutson knows how to pick 'em. "What do you want, Eileen? Did you come here just to make sure I'm not licking Susan's boots?"

"Gun Hill doesn't have to be a temporary arrangement. You don't have to be in debt to anyone or put yourself under them. Kazimir, Dreyfus, Ball — they're all part of the same pattern, Odessa." Eileen's movements are sharp and precise as she takes another brisk drag from her cigarette and then drags her teeth over her upper lip to work out the frustration she can feel building behind her tongue on the roof of her mouth. "The only difference here is that she's actually offering you a home. A future. Belonging. And not the kind the Vanguard would have given you."

Odessa narrows her eyes faintly, though her animosity fades somewhat. "So what do you want to say here? What do you want me to do? You say you don't think I should be in debt to her, but to take the offer is to be in her debt. I doubt it leaves me even with the Ferry. What are you trying to tell me to do?"

"You can't owe the Ferry anything if you're one of us. Susan can't put you beneath her if you're her equal." And if that doesn't dispel Odessa's confusion: "Join the network. We need doctors with hands on experience, people who've seen firsthand what this government is capable of. You were there when we opened that coffin. Liette Fournier's the beginning."

"You want me to join the Ferry." Odessa considers laughing at the notion for a moment, evident in the way her lips upturn momentarily. She realises the gravity of the request quickly, however, and blinks a couple times. "…Can the Ferry get me established as a doctor? Legally?" There's hope there in her tone and in her eyes. "I could have clinic space? See patients?"

"If it's legal recognition you're after," Eileen says, "the woman you want to speak with is Sarisa Kershner. I can get you clinic space and point patients in your direction, but they're all going to be wards of the network, and you'll be operating out of a safehouse instead of a hospital or an office, but you can do more good there than you can somewhere like St. Luke's."

"I wouldn't want to work out of a hospital anyway," Odessa agrees. "All right. You get me set up with what you can and point me in the direction of that Kershner woman." She nods her head, lips pursing thoughtfully. "I'll do what I can to help your - our — the organisation."

If Eileen returns the sentiment, Odessa misses it. It's substituted for a view of her back instead. "You're welcome," she says on her way out the door, mindful of the feline's presence by her booted feet lest she trod on her bottlebrush tail.

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