Not Okay, But Safe


melissa_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif

Scene Title Not Okay, But Safe
Synopsis Melissa tracks down an old friend to find some answers. Odessa enlists her as an informant of sorts.
Date December 8, 2010

Suresh Center - Third Floor

Of all the things that Melissa expected to be doing today, it wasn't hunting down someone she used to call friend in order to accuse them of being evil Institute. Yet, that's exactly what she's doing.

She was looking through paperwork earlier and ran across Odessa's name as someone who worked in this very building. Along with Brennan. It's a good chance Darren is too, with these odds. But one thing at a time. A room number was found for Odessa's office, and Melissa strides down the hall, dressed in her current favorite of pin stripe. Corset and slakes. Maybe not very counselory, but it suits her.

When she reaches the right door she pauses outside, listening for a moment. And if there's no sounds to suggest that Odessa isn't alone, well…Surprise! It's an angry Melissa!

Odessa looks up from her laptop when her door opens, annoyance etched in her features before her gaze settles on Melissa. "Holy shit." It's like seeing a ghost. In this case, Melissa Pierce is very representative of a ghost of Odessa Price's past life.

Odessa herself resembles a ghost these days with her stark white hair and her pale skin. Concealer and thick eyeliner work to disguise the dark bags beneath her visible eye, the other concealed behind a black eye patch with an even-armed red cross. It goes well with the deep crimson dress with its intricate lace overlay that peeks out beneath her white lab coat.

"I can explain," are the first words out of the doctor's mouth. "You should close the door." Odessa isn't panicked, but she doesn't try to hide her shock or her anxiety about her sudden visitor.

Though Melissa's face very clearly shows her anger, her movements are slow, controlled. The door is closed quietly, with just a nearly silent click rather than a slam. "Holy shit? Yeah, that's pretty much what I was thinking," she says, voice quiet as well, but mostly to prevent herself from yelling. All of her control is going to making sure she doesn't leak pain.

She moves further into the room, studying Odessa's face intently and then she drops down into a chair like she was invited, and again, her pose is almost casual, even if nothing about her is. "I was very…we'll say…upset…when I got told that someone I considered not only a friend, but a very good friend was working for the Institute. But you said you can explain? I'm listening." Not very patiently, or happily, but she's listening.

"If your choices were a job with people you may not agree with, or a coffin," Odessa explains quietly, "which would you have taken? I don't have much choice." To her credit, her eyes don't scan the room for a distraction. For something else to focus on. But they also don't fix on Melissa like she's a wild animal to be wary of. Which she may as well be. "If there's one thing I've learned in my life, it's that living to fight another day is the most important thing I can do, Mel."

Odessa leans back in her chair, her palms resting against the arms of it, fingers curling around it. "It… started that way. I had advanced warning that the Institute was looking for me. An old friend from the Company gave… gave me the heads up." She swallows down a lump forming in her throat, denying the emotion that wants to grip her. "I was ready to run from the Ferry. I didn't want to compromise anyone. Susan convinced me to stay. She… Susan was my champion. She promised to keep me hidden. Keep me safe. So long as I continued to help out the network."

It's just very conveniently left out that Odessa's contribution to helping the network, outside of operating her clinic, was attempting to eliminate Eileen Ruskin.

"Do you remember the attack on the hospital on Staten Island?"

True to her word, Melissa remains silent, listening without any visible reaction. But she's become very good at hiding her emotions so long as she remains in control of herself, which she is now, but just barely. The last question has her lips curving into a very sharp, fake smile. "Remember it?" She nods. "Yeah, I remember it."

She leans forward, forearms resting on her knees. "I remember the people they'd taken, to experiment on. I remember the monster that they created, because no other word can possibly describe what it was I saw. I remember how some they had tried to kill themselves. And how others were addicted to refrain in that hospital."

She shakes her head, keeping her eyes on Odessa. "I just don't get it. If you knew they were coming, why not run? And Susan? Susan Ball? The bitch I punched at the Ferry memorial? The one who likely has been working against the Ferry?" Clearly she hasn't heard about how Susan flat out betrayed the Ferry. "How could you trust her? She's just using you. And if you're with the Institute, you aren't safe. No one is, as long as it exists."

"Susan Ball is a good person," Odessa says with the utmost conviction. Like it's the one thing she's certain of in her life right now. "Susan is more devoted to the Ferry and the people it protects than you can imagine." And that's all she plans to say on that subject.

"I died that night." Going back to the attack on Staten. "Or something close to it. My… I think my ability preserved me. Froze me in time before the moment of death." That Odessa still is uncertain as to how she survived when she should have bled out and be left to feed so many carrion birds doesn't sit well with her. "The Institute found me in the Greenbelt. And they brought me back to life. I have an identity now. I exist in an official capacity."

Red painted nails tap against the underside of the chair's arms a quiet clicking on plastic, in time with the second hand's rotation on the wall clock. "This is the safest place for me. I'm former Company, which means the government can arrest me and hold me without trial right now. I'm not welcome in the Ferry anymore, so that's not an option. And I can't keep on running anymore." The ticking sound of the clock is suddenly and conspicuously absent as Odessa leans forward. "What I can do, is keep my fingers on the pulse of what's happening here, and warn people what's coming."

"Let me guess. They used Darren to bring you back to life," Melissa says in a flat voice, shaking her head again and leaning back. Hands run through her hair, and some of the anger leaks away, leaving exhaustion in its place. "Susan isn't a good person, Odessa, no matter what she's told you, or you've seen. But I won't argue the point. It's moot. The point is, the Institute is evil. Flat out evil. There are no redeeming qualities about it, and you won't convince me otherwise. Not after what I saw in the hospital. Not after what they did to Liette and her sister."

She draws in a deep breath, and this time her hands rub at her eyes. "It's not safe with them, Odessa. And if they haven't made you do horrible things yet, they will. I'm not saying it's safe anywhere else, but it's not safe here. You're a hen in a den of foxes, to fuck up an old saying."

There's a long pause and her hands drop to look at Odessa again. "When I was given your name, as being part of the Institute, I didn't want to believe it. I didn't wanna believe it about Brennan or Darren either, but you? I wanted to cry. I know you've done shit before. You've told me. But this?" She shakes her head. "I hoped, so much, that they were wrong."

"Where is Liette?" Odessa asks, genuine worry and concern in her features. "Is she safe? I… I've known her since she was just little. Both of them, I mean. I…" She lets it go, moves on to the next point. "I'm fairly certain Doctor Stevens is here because he doesn't have a choice. And if Brennan is aware of the true nature of this place, I would be very surprised. If he is, then he's of the same mind I am and figures it's better to be here and be informed, and use that knowledge as a weapon."

Odessa's fits connects with the surface of her desk, causing pens and paper clips to rattle in their receptacles. "Dammit! Don't you see? I can do more good here than hiding! I don't have anywhere else to go, Melissa. It's this, or a life on the run again. I can't go back to that." It's what led her to Moab. "I'd rather take my chances here, walking the line, and doing what I can for the people out there by being in a position to—"

Odessa's scarred lips and her mouth feel dry. Darting her tongue out does nothing to help alleviate the problem. "You tell the people you trust within the Ferry, or whoever you're working with now, that I haven't betrayed them. I was there at Gun Hill during the riots." By accident, but still. "I helped as many people escape as I could. I can do the most good in here. This is where I have to be right now."

There's a full minute of silence as Melissa works at processing all of that, at figuring out how she feels about it. "So Darren's stuck at another place, being forced to use his ability. Again." She closes her eyes then lets out a humorless laugh. "Yep, failed him. Utterly. Maybe it's good that I left the Ferry."

Eyes open and fix on the other woman again, showing no response to the loud sound of the fist. "I don't like it. I can't like it. But…I can see how it can be useful, having someone on the inside. I just don't like knowing that you're with them, knowing what they do."

And she hasn't missed all of the 'here' and 'this place' either. "The Institute's moved here though, hmm? They're using a place meant to help Evolved in order to experiment on us? To do what they want? That's…sick. It's just like Bulletproof Monk, with the Nazis working out of a human rights museum." Yep, another movie reference.

She stands, moving around the desk, then she crouches down beside Odessa. "If you need out, Odessa. You let me know. I know you've got your nifty time stopping ability, but let me know, please. I know they've got negation gas, and I don't want to see you attempt to escape only to end up negated and imprisioned."

Odessa reaches out to take Melissa's hand. "You haven't failed anyone," she assures the other woman. "Least of all me. Darren's safe here." For now. "When… When they brought me on here, I was assured Project Icarus is over. And I've seen no evidence to suggest there's been anything like that happening still. And… if that changes, I'll send word to the network."

She lifts her hand up to the other woman's face, cupping her cheek. "I'm glad you're okay. I'm glad you're safe. Please can… Can you find Abby? Can you tell her what I've told you? The last time I saw her…" Odessa's expression is sad. "I need her to know that what I've done, I've done to keep people safe."

"Okay? Not okay. Safe? For the moment." Mention of Abby has Melissa grimacing. "I haven't spoken to Abby since right after I brought Kendall back. I'll…send word though. I'd rather avoid speaking to her face to face if I can help it." But she squeezes Odessa's hand regardless. "So much has happened since we talked last, Odessa. I'm not even sure where I'd begin. But…We should catch up sometime. If it's safe to. The Institute already knows about me, they have to since I work here and DHS demanded I live in Summer Meadows again. But I'm trying to keep a baby safe now too. I can't risk her."

"You still have both your eyes," Odessa can't help but quip sardonically at her own expense. And she can't help but crack a small grin. "A baby? You? That's… unexpected." She glances toward the door, and then back to Melissa. "When you leave here, it's probably best if you make it look as though it's in a huff. We're probably both safer if the people who may be keeping tabs on us think that we're not on good terms."

Suddenly, Odessa is pulling up a file on her laptop. A photo of Amid Halebi fills a good portion of the Mac's screen. "If you see this man, I need you to call me. Right away. He's a terrorist. A bomb maker. And he may have an ability similar to the one that caused the explosion in Midtown." She jabs her finger in the air a few times, pointing at the screen. "His name's Amid Halebi. Though he's certainly calling himself something else right now. He has a daughter, Lucine. She may be sick. I want to try and help her, if I can."

Odessa frowns, turning back to Melissa. "Can you spread the word, but make sure people keep it quiet? If his daughter's sick, he may be trying to seek refuge with the Ferry. Or any similar organisation, if there is one out there. This city can't survive another Midtown. It would be a disaster for our kind." The SLC-Expressive. The Evolved.

"Both my eyes, yeah, but you wanna see all my scars? I know you don't wanna feel the pain I've felt, trust me. Unless you've gone walking on the sun lately, I've got you beat there," Mel says with a faint smile. "And yeah, a baby. Her mom got executed by soldiers on the eighth, and I couldn't just leave her. So…I took her home with me," she says, shrugging.

When the photo is pulled up she glances at it, studying it intently. "Can't say I've seen him," she murmurs, though the conversation, of course, makes her think of the person who caused the last explosion, and has her sighing. "I'll keep an eye out. Got a spare picture of him that I could show to a few people? Names are easy, but since he is probably calling himself something else, that's not very helpful."

Odessa clicks the little print button on her screen and waits. …And waits. She shoots a glare over at the printer and then snaps her fingers. Suddenly it whirs to life, spitting out a full-colour photo of her suspect, which she lifts off the inkjet and passes to the other woman. "There. Fold that up and don't be caught with it by any patrols, okay? Neither of us need you being asked why you have a wanted terrorist's photo on you."

"Oh, trust me, I'm good at that. They haven't caught me with my gun yet," Melissa says, taking it and folding it into quarters before tucking it into her back pocket. Then she's looking at Odessa again. "Are they looking for anyone specific? Ferry or Messiah? Is there anyone in particular I should warn?" she asks softly. "And you, by the way, have changed your number. Bad Odessa. Don't make me draw embarrassing things on your patch."

Odessa scribbles three numbers onto a hot pink Post-It and passes that over, too. "First is to my office, second is my work cell, and the last one is my pay as you go. If you have to leave me a voicemail, or a text message, only do it on the third number. I try to check it every evening. If you need to get in touch with me fast — like if you find that guy? — call either of the first two. Whatever you do, don't try to detain him yourself. We're equipped with negation gas and darts to try and subdue him. Past experience has shown that trauma, like from a gunshot wound, may cause the guy to go nuclear."

A quiet sigh escapes the doctor's lips. "Ferry and Messiah are both in a lot of trouble. The government raided their safehouses. And I've heard that they've been shooting suspected members of Messiah on sight. They're not taking any chances. If you get me a list of names of people you want me to watch out for, I'll cross reference it with any cases I'm assigned to and try to send you advance warning. A text will work."

The numbers are tucked away, not in her pocket, but in the top of her corset. It's Mel's secret pocket. "I actually have a negation dart, but I'll let you guys handle him anyway. I'm tired of the violence and fighting and just…everything." The bit about shooting on sight has her paling. "I wish I knew who they had names for," she murmurs. "Let me know though, if they get Kendall's name. He's gotten hurt once because of me. I won't let him be hurt again."

She stands, the strain of crouching starting to get to her, and she takes a step back. "Hopefully they don't have my name. Matt Parkman went through my head when I was in custody, but they know where I am, so I doubt he got the connection. Or maybe he's just covering it up." She smiles wryly. "Who knew my uncle'd be a bigwig in DHS?"

"That's handy," Odessa muses. "You should probably go." The clock begins ticking again. "And… If you need a doctor, call me. I can either take patients here," where she can make the best use of her facilities, "or come to you." Because that DoEA badge has its perks.

Melissa smiles, and steps forward to hug Odessa. "I will. And if you need a walking morphine drip, you call me. But you just keep yourself safe. I'll talk to you soon." Then she steps back, hesitating a moment, as if she has more to say, then she nods and heads towards the door.

"You too, Mel. Be careful out there." Odessa wraps Melissa up in a hug of her own, lingering for a moment. "It was good to see you," she assures her before she steps back to watch her old friend go.

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