On Behalf of Reason


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Scene Title On Behalf of Reason
Synopsis Accompanied by Elle, Odessa makes a bid to save her parents and encounters a different obstacle than the one she'd been prepared for.
Date April 8, 1984

Odessa, Texas

A clear April night in Odessa, Texas, is without clouds but not without moisture. Dew beads on the thick blades of grass outside the two-bedroom bungalow at the end of the poorly-lit cul-de-sac. The house belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Price, and although its interior is dark, the two women waiting on the opposite side of the street know not only that its occupants are home, but that if they do not move sometime soon, one of them will grow up an orphan.

A grasshopper chorus fills the air with a thin, buzzing sound, but the night is otherwise still; it's difficult to believe that something terrible is about to happen here on this section of street with its swingsets and sandboxes, American flags draped over doors in a staunch display of patriotism and stately old oak trees which have stood undisturbed for centuries.

What is one supposed to feel when faced with the childhood home they'd never known? Odessa Price doesn't know, but she swallows down the lump in her throat, and ignores the prickling sensation as tears form in her eyes.

"Never in a million years would I have pictured my life beginning in surroundings like this," Odessa admits in a soft voice, taking in the quaintness of suburbia. "It looks so… ordinary. I don't know what I was expecting." At any rate, it's about as opposite from her upbringing as she could imagine. Taking in a deep breath, she starts up the street and toward the house.

What is one supposed to feel when they know that they're going to stop a disaster from happening? That they're in the past now, where every move they make can effect their time? In this time, Elle is still young. Her mother is still alive, though she remembers nothing of it.

Elle stands quietly beside Odessa, surveying the house they stand in front of. It's so…nice. This is what they came for: to preserve this to the best of their abilities. And they will do it. Elle will not accept failure; she has to save her mother. Maybe then…maybe life can be better, for both her and her childhood friend.

Blue eyes turn to Odessa, watching her for a moment, before the little blonde starts off after Odessa, her heels clicking on the pavement. "It looks nice." She murmurs this quietly, watching the girl thoughtfully as she trails behind her.

"Odessa." The voice belongs to neither Linda, who left the pair here with instructions and promise to return by daybreak, nor anyone with who Odessa or Elle is familiar. It's a husky baritone with thin, nebulous traces of an accent that's difficult to place but sounds like it might have been English once upon a time.

Also: it comes from behind them.

"It does," Odessa agrees with Elle's assessment. This could have been her life. This should have been her life. And if she plays her cards right, this will be her life. Or some version of her will have this life, anyway.

The voice from behind takes the woman by surprise, turning sharply on her heels and peering with one wide eye. Odessa sweeps her white hair aside, momentarily revealing the damask black and white patch over her ruined eye. "Yes?" Her expression shifts from surprised to wary.

Elle comes to a stop, whirling around to stare toward the source of this voice, her hands clenching into that familiar claw shape. Tiny pops of electricity crackle between her fingertips, though she doesn't quite start summoning balls of electricity just yet. She spares a brief glance to Odessa, though her eyes quickly return to the one who called her friend's name.

Standing at the end of the driveway, all broad shoulders and long, lean body bathed in sallow moonlight, is a man with foxish face and a thin mouth that curls naturally at its corners. He's young, but not any younger than the two women whose attention he's managed to capture with a two syllable word spoken with exactly the right amount of force and volume for it to carry.

All of a sudden, the crickets have gone very quiet. He holds up a hand, a universally pacifying gesture to show Odessa and Elle that he means no harm, and takes a solitary, rocking step forward across the pavement the same way an experienced animal trainer might approach an injured circus bear. That is to say: carefully.

"Hey," the stranger says, "'m not here to fight."

Odessa tips her chin upward, watching the stranger through a half-lidded eye. "That's fortunate." For him, she's sure. A gesture of her hand is meant to be a signal to Elle to stand down. "So what are you here for?" She isn't about to bolt, or attack it seems, though that isn't to say she's discounted either option entirely.

Electricity still crackles over Elle's fingertips as she eyes the man, frowning. A glance is turned toward Odessa, before she turns back to the fox-faced fellow, her eyes hard. They're wasting time in her eyes, even if he isn't here to give them trouble. And they certainly don't have all of the time in the world. Not right now.

However, Odessa's gesture prompts the sparks to halt, though her hands remain in that claw shape, staring the fellow down like a hawk. She'll let Odessa do the talking. Seems she's the one he wanted to see, in any case.

"T' speak on behalf of reason." That hand remains up as long as Elle's does, and the stranger's blue eyes move between the sparks dancing between the pale points of her nails to her face, and then back again before his focus shifts to rest solely on Odessa. "Some things you wanna change, others you don't. Trust me when I say this is one of them, love. You ever consider the future when you go nosing around in the past for the sake of your present?"

Odessa keeps her hand out at her side to keep Elle still. For now. "One doesn't accept a role in changing the future lightly," she offers in response. She gave the situation a lot of thought, actually. She even discussed it with her therapist. "These are my parents," she insists firmly. "You think you have some sort of insider information?"

A look is cast to Elle. A look that says be ready. "My time is limited," Odessa declares. She could give herself all the time in the world to talk this out if she really wanted to. But she didn't come this far to be derailed now. "You have approximately thirty seconds to convince me not to do this. And if you try and stop me, my friend will leave you a charred corpse at the end of a pretty little cul-de-sac." Somewhat theatrically, Odessa looks down at her ever-present watch on its red leather band. "Clock's ticking."

Elle remains silent, her hands curled at her side as she stares daggers at the man, looking like she'd really just rather forego the whole thirty seconds thing and start zapping now. "As my friend said, thirty seconds. The minute that time is up, I'll be certain that your eyeballs are melted and become a permanant stain on this nice sidewalk." The little blonde offers a faint smile to the man, waiting.

At least it's okay to save her mom, or something. Maybe it'll have a good effect on the future. After all, her own father said that it was her mother that was supposed to take care of her, and him.

The stranger cocks his head to the side as if considering Odessa's threat, chin held high at a sharp angle, but not so sharp as to be arrogant. He carries himself with the easy confidence of the small predator he resembles — if he believes that the women pose an immediate danger to his survival, he does not allow his concern to show beyond the intentional distance he keeps between them, which is several feet outside of Elle's range. How he has any logical way of knowing what that range is—

"Bad things shouldn't happen t' good people," he says, "I can't argue. Won't say your parents aren't good people either, Dr. Price, but where I come from it's important that you stay who you are. Your friend, too. Oh, the stories I could tell, but I'd need a little more than thirty seconds, yeah?"

From inside the house, there comes a thunderous crash, followed by a shrill scream split jaggedly down the middle. That probably belongs to Odessa's mother. "Either of you believe in destiny?"

For a moment, Odessa's resolve begins to waver. But then her stomach drops when that scream comes from the house she'd been approaching. "Mother." She turns her back on the stranger and stares at the home that would have been hers if things had gone differently.

A wave of her hand proves utterly ineffectual. Panic begins to rise, feeling thick in her throat. "Elle! Leave him! We need to go!" Odessa casts one last accusing look over her shoulder at the young man. "If destiny exists, then what I do won't change anything."

She's come too far to let this happen. Chunky boots with four inch heels clop loudly on the pavement as Odessa takes off for the house in a dead run.

As it is said that she should stay who she is, Elle narrows her eyes. "My mother was murdered, my father wiped her from my memory— I'm not going to let that happen this time. My life is shit because of her death. Just like Odessa's is shit because of her parent's untimely demise. So, you can tell me a story about why our lives should remain the miserable excuses for existence that they are. Enlighten me."

She's about to speak further, but then the crash sounds, and her eyes turn back toward the house. A glance is cast to Odessa as she darts off, turning to stare at the man for a moment. Then, she makes a soft 'PSH' noise toward him, and turns, darting off after Odessa, though she's keeping an eye on that man over her shoulder.

One moment, the man at the end of the driveway is standing poised as if torn between remaining rooted where he is and pursuing Odessa. The next, he simply flickers out of existence—

Only to reappear in the entryway ahead of Odessa, both his large hands clasping its wooden frame, the front door still shut behind him. "You're not the only ones concerned about your mothers," he shoots back, blocking access to the house with his body, "and if Sparky here wants t' one day be one herself, you'll turn around now. You can't fight him — you'll be killed."

The other temporal manipulator at this little party comes skidding to a halt just in front of the man blocking her way. "He can't touch me," Odessa insists, balling her hands into fists. But something he said has her peering incredulously rather than swinging her fist at his face. "Who the hell are you?"

Elle skids to a halt, her teeth gritting. But something he says about her wanting to be a mom— what? She's almost disarmed for a moment. "Why do you use me as an example for being a mom? I— I'm…" She frowns, hesitating now as doubts of her own sprout up. "What?"

"I'm a friend of her son's," the stranger says, gesturing to Elle with a subtle movement of his head that involves bowing it without moving his eyes.

But he doesn't get any further than that. The door explodes outwards, hurling him off the porch along with hundreds of pieces of flaming debris, including chunks of broken wood and fine shards of glittering white glass. He goes rolling across the pavement and slams into the mailbox with enough force to send paper bills raining down onto the top of his head. An elbow bends, he braces a hand against the driveway under him, and pushes himself up again just as a shadow is filling the now-empty frame and reaching inky black tendrils for Odessa, who is now the closest thing within reach.

"Fuck it," the stranger hisses under his breath. "Run!"

Odessa staggers back and reaches into her jacket, retrieving a large knife that's likely much better suited for the kitchen, likely pulled from a butcher's block, though it's been sharpened to be effective in combat as well, if it needs to be. Using a scalpel may have been poetic before, but largely impractical. Odessa isn't fucking around this time.

"Get him up," is shouted to Elle without looking back, tipping her head in the direction of the fallen stranger — a friend of Elle's son's? Odessa would love to ask him what he's done to her ability, but announcing she even has one in front of someone who's meant to kill her father for his, well… Sometimes Odessa does display some sense. She hazards a glance toward the house, wondering if she's already too late.

Elle is frozen in shock for a long moment, staring at the stranger. A son? She has a son?! What?! How is that even possible? She thought— that would mean…she's not even going to try to understand how that is possible, right now. But this boy had better live, because now she wants answers. Glancing to Odessa, she hesitates for a moment— before darting toward the boy to help him up. "You've got questions to answer, so you'd better not die or anything. Tell me his name." She turns a fierce blue gaze toward Odessa, and the house, frowning. Not good…

He's more than a man than a boy, really. Likely he has as many years on Elle as he does inches, and he's very tall. "Pulling a knife on Old Smoke" he grunts against the electrokinetic as she helps him to his feet and provides him with something solid to lean on. A hand clasps around her shoulder. "Names later. Saving the good doctor from herself now."

On the porch, the shadow melts away, revealing a tall, graying man with the beginning of a beard around a strong jaw set into an unreadable expression and the fierce hazel eyes of a predatory bird. Where the shadow had tendrils, Samson extends his arm, curls his hand into a fist and then raises it. When it does, Odessa is hoisted off the ground and suspended in mid-air, an invisible steel force clamped around her throat.

She knows what telekinesis feels like. This is it. Behind him, fresh blood covers the ceiling and walls of the bungalow's interior, though there's no sign of either of her parents' bodies sprawled out on the floor. Only broken pieces of furniture and scorch marks in the still-smoking carpet.

It may be too late for Colin or Rianna, but it isn't too late for their little girl.

"Tell him you know Gabriel," the stranger whispers hastily into Elle's ear.

In that moment, Odessa knows she's failed to save her father. And her mother may not yet be dead - would she simply disappear, fade from existence if that were the case? - but she's about to go into labour to give birth to the little girl that's failed her. She doesn't relinquish her grip on her knife, even if it will do her no good in this moment.

Tears well up in Odessa's eyes, spill down one cheek and remain trapped beneath the eye patch of her other. "Did he suffer?" she asks the man who may well give her a demonstration of how her father died first-hand. But a part of her needs to know. And there's the slim hope she can distract the man who's assuredly Samson Gray long enough for Elle or their mysterious nuisance to pull a proverbial rabbit out of their hats.

"What?" This is shot back in a tight whisper. Elle's eyes widen as the scene plays out before them, as Odessa is lifted from the ground. Dammit, this is not good. The stranger's words, plus what she's seeing before her, prompts theories to form. Could this man be related to Gabriel in some way? He must be, if this is some ticket to make him stop his actions or something. She clenches the stranger closer, before sucking in a deep breath. He'd better be right. "Stop!" Her musical voice rings across the yard toward the man. "I know Gabriel Gray!" She sucks in another breath, shrinking a little against the man who leans against her.

This is way more than Elle signed up for. Did that crazy bitch who deposited her here know about this?

The stranger thumps Elle on the back between the shoulder blades as if to say atta girl.

Samson, however, is initially more taken aback by Odessa's question, and grits out a very low, "No," between teeth stained yellow over the course of decades of tobacco abuse, and for a moment Odessa will see hesitation in the lines of his face and the way his lips part around a question that's probably along the lines of Why do you care? but he never quite finds his voice.

Something clicks and Elle's cry registers. Samson's lips peel back the rest of the way around a foul, toothy snarl, Odessa forgotten as his son's name is invoked.

It's like a magic word, and maybe that's what the stranger was counting on because the last thing he tells Elle before he disappears again is, "Give us a few minutes." Samson implodes into shadow again, surges down the porch steps and like water leaping from a broken dam lunges toward where Elle is standing in one fluid motion. At the same time, his telekinetic hold on Odessa breaks, and the stranger — some sort of teleporter or temporal manipulator — is suddenly there to catch her when she falls.

Relief floods Odessa at the assurance that her father didn't suffer. That her failure didn't mean… This caring for people shit is for the fucking birds. Fortunately, she doesn't have to dwell on it or the outcome of his hesitation long before she's released from that telekinetic grip and falls into the stranger's arms. "Thanks," she utters quietly, rubbing at her throat.

One look is cast toward where Elle now has troubles of her own, and another to the mysterious man that's come to stop them. "I'm sorry," is all Odessa says before she heads toward the house. She has to find Rianna Price.

Wait…what? Elle is left alone, as the stranger disappears, stumbling a little as the man who was leaning on her is gone. And Samsom is flying at her. Oh, shit. "Oh, shit." And then, she's trying to get away from that shadow, her eyes wide. She knows she can't run as fast as this shadow form can probably move, especially not wearing the heels she has on. Note to self, sneakers are so much more convenient. It's only a matter of time before Samson catches up to her.

The look of incredulity that flickers across the stranger's face when Odessa disappears into the house is a clear indication that, no, this isn't what he anticipated she'd do. A few moments of stunned silence are spent convincing himself that he's not to blame — he's not a fucking precog for Christ's sake, that's somebody else's job — but it doesn't take him long to shake off his stunned stupor before he's propelling himself after Samson. There's a blur of motion that follows, and it's very fortunate for Elle that the stranger is either very fast, or the world is slowing down around him, because he reaches her before the shadow does.

"Sorry," is all he says, as his hand finds hers, and in the instant before Samson's shadow form gapes open to consume them both, the stranger closes his eyes and he and Elle are then gone.

Inside the house, there are signs of a struggle, pieces of furniture strewn about and flipped over, a dining room with four place settings broken in half, and a trail of blood leading into the living room. Smoke billows down from the second floor, and there's crackling in the attic's rafters. Something is on fire.

On the living room floor, Odessa finds not Rianna Price, but her husband Colin, his head split apart with a bloodied screwdriver discarded nearby. There's blood, too, on the carpet leading toward the back door which has been left open, its window treatments quivering in the breeze.

There is no sign of her mother, but if her file is anything to go off of—

Odessa stares at the split table. Four place settings. That doesn't… But perhaps they were expecting company? She doesn't linger on it long, filing the oddity away in her mind to be compared to other photos of the crime scene later - if she ever gets home. She looks up the stairway, where the smoke plumes out. The report stated there were no other bodies. Odessa can only hope that this means she isn't leaving anyone upstairs to burn to death.

Colin Price's body is stared at for a long moment. The sight of it doesn't bother her. Doesn't churn her stomach or anything more than elicit a pang of guilt that feels like a punch in the gut. At least he didn't suffer. But Rianna…

"I will find her," she promises the dead man on the floor. Odessa then turns and follows the trail of blood out the back.

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