One Favour, Two Strikes


odessa4_icon.gif samson2_icon.gif

Scene Title One Favour, Two Strikes
Synopsis A little home invasion results in a tentative alliance between weasel and smoke.
Date November 28, 2010

The Octagon - #108

The apartments of the Octagon are among some of the most prime pieces of rental real-estate in New York City. Bright, open, and clean, these apartments are all painted an eggshell white and feature floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a sweeping, unobstructed view of the East River and Manhattan skyline. The view isn't as impressive from the first floor, but it doesn't give someone with a fear of heights a sense of vertigo as it would on the upper levels. Hardwood floors spread from wall to wall and through the spacious bedrooms and private laundry rooms complete with washer/dryer utilities.

The small entry way leads into the open-concept kitchen with its stainless steel appliances, polished granite counter tops, cherry finished cabinets and ceramic floor tile with all the convenience of a modern kitchen. Around the corner of that tiny hallway for stowing shoes, and the recessed coat closet, there's the living room. The furniture is very modern with clear lines and brushed aluminium frames paired with red upholstery that contrasts with the deep, black shag carpet creating a dark pool in the centre of the room.

A coffee table sits in front of the couch, black legs and glass top surface gleaming in the cool white light overhead. A television has been mounted on the wall, large enough to suggest that the occupant is paid well, but small enough as to indicate that the television doesn't hold much interest. A modest, low entertainment cabinet sits beneath the set, equipped with a Blu-ray, DVD on the first shelf, a video cassette and Betamax player on the next. The Blu-ray player is new, if one judges by the lack of dust settled on it compared to the other components. Beneath that is a collection of films that can be played on any of the four. Mostly in the romance genre.

Nestled in the corner is a tall book shelf, with a step stool nudged out of the way nearby, presumably so the short woman who lives here can reach the top shelves. The reading material is widely varied. Medical journals and texts are present, but so are trashy romance novels, historical fiction, historical non-fiction, and several books on the French, Russian, German, and Japanese languages.

Of all things, a small harpsichord sits in front of the windows. It's more than second-hand, elaborately painted with a rich, but fading landscape across the inside of the lid. Lush trees with leaves turning their colours in autumn. It's been well-played, but also cared for.

The bathroom is adorned with accessories on the counter tops and porcelain pedestal sink, with towels in various shades of yellow from pale to sunny. The room is finished with classic subway wall tile and porcelain floor tiling. An elegantly designed, corner-set curved shower provides a more spacious shower area.

The weather is wretchedly cold, if one asks Odessa Price. Though she’ll be perhaps a bit grudgingly pleased when fluffy white begins to fall from the heavens, and she can run outside her window and build a man of snow to greet her every morning. For all that she dislikes the cold, each year it gets a little bit easier. And the constant reminder that this winter is much better than the one previous goes a long way to helping the young doctor cope with the temperatures.

This year, Odessa has a steady residence. She’s not constantly having to scout out the next vacant home to squat in. And the home she calls her own now is truly her own. There are no false pretenses, no lies that allow her a bed to sleep in, food to eat, a sturdy roof over her head and central heating. The Octagon is Doctor Price’s home, rather than a convenient place to hide away.

It occurs to the young woman that not having to hide is such an alien concept to her. One she is still getting used to. The first twenty-some-odd years of her life were spent hidden away from the outside world. The years that followed her escape and exile were spent hiding from her former keepers. Then the law, and the government. People she once considered friends. But now… This is home. This is where Odessa feels she belongs.

It brings a touch of a smile to her lips as she sits on the bench in front of her harpsichord, fingers dancing over the keys with the expertise born from years of practice. Next to Odessa on the seat, a cup of hot chocolate sends steam rising up into the air. Still too hot to drink.

If the bottle of butterscotch schnapps on the counter is any indication, it isn’t just chocolate in that mug. It, along with the white cream sweater and burgundy wool skirt she wears, will go a long way to keeping her warm.

Odessa’s brows furrow in concentration, rocking nearer to the instrument, then back again in an ebb and flow with the tempo of the piece she plays. Her eyes are closed, white shadow with sparkling flecks of glitter painted over both lids. With no one to entertain, she doesn’t bother to wear a patch over the ruined eye. The make-up is for herself.

The sudden shrieking of an alarm has absolutely no harmony with the melody of Odessa’s cumbersome choice of musical instrument. Instead, the high-pitched weep-weep-weep-weep that noisily alerts the apartment that something is wrong serves to heighten nerves, pump adrenaline, and in the time it takes for Odessa’s mind to click on what alarm it is, go from frightened to confused.

It isn’t the security alarm.

It’s the smoke detector.

Looking a bit like the cat who swallowed the canary, Samson Gray may have been hoping to make a stealthy entrance into the apartment of one doctor Odessa Price. Instead, he’s left standing in the doorway to the bedroom in his buttoned down tweed overcoat, mustard yellow scarf loose around his neck with a lit cigarette in one hand.

Oops, his expression conveys in puckered mouthed, wide eyed fashion.

My bad.

Odessa’s fingers hit the keys, a dissonant chord that is nearly drowned out by the sounds of the smoke detector. What did she do to deserve that?! She didn’t even try cooking tonight, dammit. An accusatory look is first shot at her mug before she actually turns away from the window with the intent of finding the source of the fire.

Or smoke.

Mismatched eyes open wide and fix on Samson Gray’s form. But she doesn’t panic. She doesn’t freak out. Doesn’t scream or start crying. Instead, she calmly wraps her fingers around her cocoa and rises from the bench. “If I’d known I was going to have company, I’d have made some for you, too.”

A lump in her throat is swallowed down and she stares at the smouldering end of the man’s cigarette. “Go take that over to the kitchen. If this alarm goes off much longer, people are going to start knocking. We don’t want that, do we?” Simple. Logical. If she’s lucky, her visitor isn’t aware that her neighbour isn’t home. Damn it, Harper. Where are you when you’re actually needed?

There’s a noise Samson makes, something in the back of his throat as he looks down to the tip of his cigarette, then up to the smoke detector with raised brows. Finally, huffing a breath of resignation that comes with tendrils of ashen smoke, Samson starts to tread across the floor towards the direction of the kitchen.

“I need a favor from you,” is his grumbling request on passing across the floor, as if they were old friends who did things like favors for one another. “In return I promise not to try and kill you, which…” Samson hesitates, halfway to the kitchen, sucking in a lungful of smoke before exhaling it in twin jets out his nose as he turns to look over his shoulder at Odessa.

“Which is a pretty fantastic bargain if you ask me.” Gray brows scrunch together and Samson considers the one-eyed woman thoughtfully, right before tapping the ash from his cigarette onto her floor.

“What do you say?” He has a winning — if not yellowed – smile.

Odessa disappears into her bathroom long enough to retrieve a yellow floor towel, which she uses the fan at the smoke detector until it stops making its racket. Once that’s done, replaces it and retrieves her mug from where she left it perched on the sink and steps into the kitchen.

Terribly casual. As if they were old friends.

Except that the opposite could not be more true.

“This is silly,” she decides with a polite smile. “We’ve never had formal introductions. Let’s just get this started off on the right foot, shall we? I’ll begin.” Odessa’s eyes, knotted and clear, narrow faintly on Samson.

“Hello. My name is Odessa Price. You killed my father.”

I get that a lot might be an inappropriate answer. “So?” May rank slightly higher on the scale of inappropriate responses, and it is ultimately the one that Samson chooses to go with on his way towards the island and its stools, but not further.

“Unless you’re in a hurry to see them again,” seems an unusually religious thing to say, “I’d be more concerned with finding out what favor I need from you, rather than whatever it is you’re going on about.” The cigarette finds its way to Samson’s lips again, smoke drawn in and slowly exhaled out his nostrils.

“If it’s any consolation, I might have forgotten your father’s ability.” There’s a faint smile that creases the corners of Samson’s mouth at that concession. It isn’t much of one.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

Odessa can only nod numbly, making herself busy by producing an ash tray - something she bought after Bella began to frequent her home - and setting it on the island in front of the man before she takes a seat, leaving a stool between them. She gestures for him to make himself at home.

“If you did still have it, it would mean a part of him still exists. That would bring me some measure of comfort.” She rests an elbow on the granite surface, propping her head against her hand, the other still wrapped around her drink, still to warm to bring to her lips. “I’m willing to entertain the notion of doing a favour for you, but I have some questions I’ve been,” dying? No, that’s really not the appropriate word to use when talking to this man, “wanting to ask you.”

And she doesn’t wait for him to agree, or shoot her down before she launches into them. “Do they all blend together, the people you’ve killed? I’ve studied what I’ve been able to get my hands on about your impressive career, and I have to say that I would eventually begin to forget where things came from. I wonder if the same is true for you.” Odessa lifts one finger from her mug, “That’s only the first question. The second thing I’m wondering about is if you remember the evening you made me an orphan.” Her lips curve upward faintly. Only she could find amusement in a personal tragedy like this.

“Not particularly,” is spoken with enough enunciation to make the tip of Samson’s cigarette bob up and down as he speaks, at least until he pinches it between two fingers and pulls it from his mouth.

Reaching inside of his jacket, Samson produces a yellow and white envelope that is noticeably fat with content, the brand logo for Kodak on the outside. Ambling over to a stool, Samson takes a seat and slides open the envelope, revealing a collection of glossy, color photographs. The lion’s share of them look to be of birds.

“My condolences on the loss of your family,” Samson murmurs half-heartedly as he slides out the full stack of pictures and begins pawing through them until he finds one photograph in particular. Turning it around, Samson holds it up between two fingers, cigarette filter pinched between glossy photograph and a knuckle.

“Do you recognize him?” One of Samson’s ashen gray brows lifts up as he proffers a photograph of Jensen Raith, taken somewhere in a crumbling city infrastructure in what — from the greenery — has to be spring or summer.

Odessa doesn’t show any recognition on her face initially, save for the way she seems decidedly less disgusted when one of the photos is finally something other than a bird. She considers briefly playing dumb, but instead, she sits up. Attentive. “That’s Jensen Raith,” she informs Samson, the weasel she is. “But what do you care about him?

Scarred lips curl around a sneer, “He hasn’t even got an ability.” She turns the photo in her fingers, a cursory glance for any notation on the back. “You would like to know more about him?” Odessa grins widely. “Like who he spends his time with?”

“I made him do me a favor,” Samson offers in a murmur, setting the photo down on the island away from the others, while returning the rest to their envelope. “I want to be sure if he’s made good on his promise to me or not, because I am very serious about promises.” That much is rambled together in a joking slur of words, punctuated by Samson’s eyes meeting Odessa’s minus-one stare.

“I need to know if he’s given something to my boy.” The envelope of photographs is tucked back into Samson’s tweed jacket, “and I want you to find out for me.” Then, with a furrow of his brows, Samson amends his arrangement.

“My second favor,” because now there are two, “is that I need you to find me an aerokinetic.” Gray brows crease further, and Samson’s stare becomes more attentive. “Manipulates the wind, air, breezes… Not a weather manipulator, to clarify. I’d be much appreciative if you could do both of these things.”

The smile he offers is soon replaced by a puckering of lips as his cigarette is returned to them.

“He doesn’t talk to me,” Odessa mutters sourly. “The Remnant doesn’t much care for me.” And that was before she tried to kill one of their own, even. “But I suppose I could arrange something. For you.” It keeps coming back around to this notion that they’re old friends. “Now, when you say you want me to find you an aerokinetic, are we talking…”

Putting this delicately does a great disservice to the both of them, really.

“You want me to find you a victim, or are you looking to make another friend?” The very idea sends Odessa bristling, and she isn’t sure why. “I may know someone, but if it’s someone you intend on killing, we will have issues. If it’s a matter of acquiring the ability, however, I’m sure I can arrange something.”

“You just give me a name and an address, and… well, I’ll handle the rest.” Samson’s brows tense for a moment and then relax as his lips spread into a smile, pinched together to keep his cigarette in place. “As for Eileen’s big, square-jawed friend… I don’t much care how you get information, I just want to know if he kept his word,” in as much as Raith even gave it that day.

“You could earn yourself extra points…” Emphasized in such a way as if to embolden their importance. “By just cutting out the middle man and making sure my son knows to find me, and soon. I know you’re connected, Doctor Price, I know you have access to the Registry too.”

Samson’s teeth draw over his lower lip, in a way that someone anticipating their dinner coming out at a slow-paced restaurant may. “I’m being generous here.”

“I can see that,” Odessa murmurs. Fingers are dragged through the fringe of her white bangs. Her lips purse for a moment, as she mulls over her options. “I know you’re already offering me a great deal by allowing me to continue living, but I think we both realise we could be great allies.” It draws a quirk to one of her brows. It’s been quite some time since she’s felt like she’s on her game.

What this says about her, well…

“I can talk to your son, but I’m not sure… that it will do either of us much good if he simply kills me.” Odessa lets out a sigh, a contemptuous look sent out her window. “I want a favour from you. Because delivering this message could be rather hazardous to my health. And I rather like the notion of a partnership with you. One that lasts more than one favour.” Her gaze flickers back, the smirk in her eyes rather than on her lips.

“How do you feel about avian telepathy?”

Off Odessa goes from her feet the moment those words leave her lips, backwards and through the air in an all too familiar push of telekinetic force that slams her back up against the sturdy glass wall of windows looking out onto the tennis court below. The harmonic hum of Samson’s telekinetic gift resonates in the glass, though not even so much as a stress fracture. Odessa would sooner break than these pressure-treated windows.

Don’t,” is Samson’s warning about her offer, “suggest that, to me ever again.” Sliding off of his stool, Samson slowly makes his way across the floor, closing the distance between himself and the pinned doctor.

As he approaches, his motions begin to take on less mechanical and more feline nature. A swagger to his steps, a slouching of his shoulders, canting of his head to the side with one brow raised. She saw the look, more than once, in his son’s eyes.

“You had best find me the aerokinetic first,” Samson breathlessly whispers against the side of Odessa’s face, cigarette bobbing up and down between his lips. “Because I don’t care if Gabriel kills you, so long as you convey the message.”

With one brow lifting, Samson starts to lean away, but keeps the telekinetic force pinning her chest down. “Are we clear?

Daddy lives on after all.

Or so Odessa assumes, at any rate, the way she’s thrown about like a rag doll. And she laughs. “That’s more like what I expected!” She watches his movements not with the terror he’s likely come to expect, but with an expression closer to amusement. “Sylar used to look at me that way.” Before the magic was gone. You know, if one could describe anything she may have had with Gabriel as magic, or proper reciprocal attraction.

I have access to the Registry,” she reminds, nudging back against Samson affectionately. “I can give you much more than just one measley aerokinetic!” It’s much like the bargain she struck with the man’s son over two years ago in a cemetery in Queens. Don’t kill me, because I’ll give you people with abilities on a silver platter.

“What’s the problem? It’s just one girl.” One girl Odessa hates down to her very core. She also happens to be the one girl Gabriel loves, but this shouldn’t even be a factor in Odessa’s mind. What does Samson care about such things? Perhaps a great deal more than she suspects.

“My son is very fond of her, and I think she is charming.” What that says about Eileen Ruskin’s character, that Samson Gray finds her charming is quite possibly a story too long for the written word to convey properly.

“I want,” he enunciates clearly, pointing one finger to Odessa’s forehead, “one,” again, clearly, “ae-ro-kin-et-ic.” Spelling it out succinctly, Samson taps his finger on the center of Odessa’s forehead, then slowly starts to lean back away from her again, before finally the telekinesis relents and Odessa is dropped down to the strength of her own two feet.

“Two strikes,” Samson clarifies, lifting up two fingers. “One last try,” his brows lift, ash hanging like a crooked finger off the end of his cigarette.

“Are,” brows raise, “we,” just a little higher, “clear?



This is a disaster! When Odessa is dropped finally, her chest is heaving and her teeth are clenched tightly as if her rage were a tangible bit. “One aerokinetic.” Her fingers twitch restlessly at her sides. The last time she attempted to stop time, he was impervious. But all the same, she makes another attempt if only to see what happens. It’s brief, and if she’s done it right, he won’t notice the stunt whether he’s immune or susceptible.

“We are clear like crystal,” Odessa assures, tugging down the hem of her sweater and smoothing out her skirt. “I’ll tell him to find you. Any particular place he should go looking for you? Or is that something you trust he already knows?” This was not at all how she planned a meeting with Samson Gray would go. Something is going to have to be done.


“Queens Borough Public Library,” Samson notes with a tilt of his head to the side, “he’ll figure out the rest.” As he sucks in a slow breath on his cigarette, Samson’s lungs fill with the hot smoke, so much so that it seems to pours off of him, wash over him like an undulating wave of slithering ashen tendrils.

Emanating outwards from his body, the smoke causes him to begin to break apart, as if he were nothing more than an image projected onto the smoke. Soon, though, Samson simply breaks apart entirely, turning into a wafting cloud of black, sooty ash that rolls along the ground, then slithers upwards towards the ceiling and through the forced hot air vents.

All that he leaves behind, is an ashen residue around the vent.

And a chill in Odessa’s heart.

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