One More Dance


odessa2_icon.gif ff_silas_icon.gif

Scene Title One More Dance
Synopsis Two friends say goodbyes sooner and with more finality than either of them can possibly know.
Date February 21, 2020

Novelle Vue, Bay Ridge

It's a bright, blustery day in the Safe Zone, sun and clouds reflecting off the waters of the bay; there's only the barest hint of a chill in the air, which means that it really is a nice day for February. Silas is dressed warmly, but for once he's not wearing the scruffy attire that has become his usual; he's got on a long gray coat over a black sweater and pants, with a pair of heavy boots with non-slip soles. His sailing gear, in other words.

There are reasons for this… but they have little to do with the reasons that bring him to the Nouvelle Vue. No, he's only dropping by today to pay a visit to the boat's current… tenant? Occupant?

Whichever. She'll probably hear him coming. As Silas comes off the deck and starts down the hallways leading to crew quarters, a number of the floorboards squeak loudly in protest; this is as intended. It's Silas's intention to make sure that anyone skulking around on this boat has as hard a time of it as possible.

And make no mistake. Odessa Price is incredibly grateful for this security measure. It’s a Nightingale floor, and she is obligated to appreciate it. She stops where she’s at in her room, midway to pulling a new pair of hose over her thighs and backside so she can listen to the creaking of the floorboards.

Her head cants toward the doorway, gaze drifting toward the ceiling as though a lack of visual distraction might make the sound sharper. “Hello?” she calls out experimentally. There’s no rush when she starts resuming pulling on her foundations. The quiet snap of tautly woven nylon against skin is heard repeatedly as she adjusts the waistband. It’s a good thing nylons look so nice, because no one would bother with the hassle involved otherwise.

"Hello!" comes the good-humored response from outside the door. "Just me. You got a minute?" Silas asks, hand hovering near the doorhandle. He doesn't turn it, though; captain or no, barging in on a lady is rude.

“Oh, yeah!” Still, there’s a slap of her palm on the door to discourage any entry just yet. “I just need a sec. Hang on!” A wool skirt is picked up by its waistband where it was draped across her bed. Odessa steps into it and shifts her hips from side to side as she does up the zipper in the back.

Putting on a smile, she turns toward the door and announces, “Okay!” while she pulls the hem of her cable knit sweater down over her waist.

Silas nods, chuckling. "Take your time," he says, leaning against the wall. Once she gives the all clear, he levers himself off the wall and opens the door.

Silas pauses for a moment once inside; Des is looking very well put together today. He approves. He also wonders if she might be getting ready to go out; that is maybe a little more worrisome. Bah. Worrywort. She can take care of herself, he thinks. That much is true, and he knows it; she is a survivor, and Silas has seen enough of how she handles herself to know it's true.

"Happened to be in the neighborhood," he says with a grin. "Wanted to check in, see how things were going. Is the boat life agreeing with you?"

Odessa looks genuinely pleased to see him. That sort of mirth doesn’t often make an appearance on her face for more than the most fleeting of moments. He’s seen it when she’s had music on, dancing on deck after a couple glasses of wine. But conversationally… Not so much.

“Oh, you know, I can’t complain a bit,” she responds without sarcasm. It’s like she’s the first person in the history of ever to mean those words in the most literal sense. “I’ve gotten used to the…” Odessa’s hand comes up to seesaw back and forth in the air to indicate the gentle rocking motion of the boat. “And it’s fresh air. I kind of like it here.”

That draws a smile to Silas's face. "Good," he says, and means it; it's good that the boat's doing someone some good, even if this wasn't the purpose he'd imagined putting it to, back when she'd first pulled into port.

But alas, he's not just here for pleasant conversation; he'd come here for another reason, as well. "I wanted to give you a heads up — I'm going to be heading out of town in a few days, heading out to sea; I'll probably be gone for a little while. Maybe a week," he says; he's still smiling, but now it seems a bit forced. He has… concerns… about this expedition, oh yes. "And I also wanted to ask if there was anything you needed me to pick up before I left?"

The smile fades slowly as Silas reveals the reason for this conversation. His concern is felt in the pit of her chest and it reflects back to him via the expression on her face. “Oh,” she says quietly, a simple acknowledgement of a complicated situation.

One arm lifts and stretches out to press a palm flat against the wall of her cabin. Her elbow bends gently as she slowly sways in toward that wall, then back again as her arm straightens one more. “You… aren’t sure if you’ll be back, are you?”

The look of concern on Des's face causes Silas's smile to shift, ever so slightly; now it's not so much forced as rueful. On the one hand, she's seen right through him; either she's just that sharp, or he's losing his touch, but either way he can't really be mad about it. On the other…

Well. It's always reassuring to know that you'd be missed if you were gone, isn't it?

"Well… I'm not planning on buying the farm out there," he protests, smiling gently. "But… there's a chance. There's always a chance."

That's not what's bothering him, though, not really. He hesitates a moment longer, looking away, and now his smile fades altogether. "It's just…" he starts, then hesitates… but he's started the thought, might as well finish it. He shrugs. "Sometimes I just wonder if… I'm not falling back into bad old habits, you know?"

He shakes his head as he finishes; his screw ups aren't her fault. "Sorry. I'm rambling."

“Not a lot of farmland out there to buy,” Odessa counters gently, trying to make a joke in the face of uncertainty. Still, she starts to smile again, this time sympathetic rather than sunny. “Come on,” she directs him, gesturing toward the door. “Let’s get up on deck. Get some sunshine. I still have that bottle of champagne you picked up for me in the icebox. There’s orange juice.”

Mimosas are medicinal, is what she’s getting at here.

Now there's a distraction if ever he saw one… but, being fair, Silas has always found that distracting himself from his problems has made it easier to keep muddling along.

Also being fair, champagne and orange juice on the deck sounds like an excellent distraction. "Sounds like a plan coming together," Silas says, his grin returning as he steps out, holding the door and gesturing for her to take the lead.

“See? I’m good at those once in a while.” She isn’t. “Don’t let anyone tell you different.” Once he’s stepped aside, she takes the lead as he’s invited her to, making her way toward the kitchen, and ultimately, toward the deck.

Once they’ve got their drinks in hand, she’s fast to offer another smile to the seafarer. “I know all about old habits,” she tells him, picking up the thread he might have thought she’d lost. But if there is one thing she’s good at, it’s picking at threads. “It’s good to be afraid,” Odessa tells him with a nod of her head. “It means you’ll think twice before you backslide.”

Good drinks and good company on a sunny day makes a fine tonic for just about anything, as far as Silas is concerned, and Des, it seems, does a pretty mean mimosa.

He's surprised, though, that she's picking up that thread again. He takes a sip of his drink, savoring the flavor as he mulls over her words. "And if you think twice, and end up doing it anyway?" he asks quietly, peering at Odessa.

“Then you thought about it.” It’s the simplest answer. “Maybe it means you didn’t do what came easiest for the sake of that. Maybe it means you weighed your choices and had to make a hard decision. Or… maybe it means you decided you don’t give a shit and you did it anyway.” Odessa lifts her shoulders in a shrug. “Either way, you’ve learned something about yourself.”

Eye contact is maintained even as she brings her glass up for a drink. “I tried not fighting back,” she admits easily. “For a while, I refused. I figured I had to start finding a way out of my problems that didn’t involve stabbing someone in the back.” Or their face. Or between the ribs. “And I found that wasn’t the answer either.” One hand lifts, Odessa wags a finger in the air. “Judicious application. That’s the key.”

Silas tilts his head as Odessa speaks, regarding her thoughtfully… then he grins. He chuckles. "You've got the right of it, I think," he says with a grin, his mood brightening. Sometimes all it takes is a sympathetic ear, I guess, he thinks to himself, amused. The mimosas don't hurt, though. He takes a drink to that thought.

This hasn't entirely erased his concerns about the upcoming trip he's signed up for, but… it feels like it's lightened the load a bit, at least. For a moment, he says nothing — not thinking about the future or the past, just… listening to the wind and the sounding sea, savoring the moment.

But there's still something left unsaid, and it's gonna be a cloud over things until he gets it out of the way. "Des. Could I ask you a favor?"

“I don’t often.” Have the right of anything, frankly. But Odessa is quick with a bright smile all the same. There’s still concern that passes between him to her. She finds it nearly indistinguishable from her own. But it tastes different. His has contextual layers that she lacks. She’s missing ingredients.

When he asks his question, she nods her head, brows lifted over wide doe eyes in an inviting expression. “Mmhm.”

"If — and I don't think it's gonna be the case; I'm not half-bad at surviving, either," he says, flashing Odessa a grin, "— but I'm just saying if I don't make it back… let 'em know, will you? Tell…" he hesitates for a moment, considering the overlap in their respective social circles, thinking of who might be safe for her to ask, given her position.

"Tell Richard. He'd be able to get the word out, I think." He pauses, giving her a look that's half amused and half apologetic. "Kind of an awkward thing to ask, I know, but… last time I went on a trip like this, I didn't… get a chance to send word back."

And as far as everyone I ever knew was concerned, I died, he thinks, but does not say; he looks away, taking a drink of his mimosa to try and wash down the sudden lump in his throat.

Odessa understands. Or imagines she does. But perhaps the time when she disappeared, presumed dead, there wasn’t anyone who cared enough about her to mourn. That’s almost certainly changed at this point. The notion causes a thoughtful expression to take up residence on her face. “Yeah,” she agrees readily, “of course I will.”

But they both hope she won’t have to. She smiles faintly at his comment about not having had opportunity to send word of his departure. “I remember,” she says in a soft voice. She shouldn’t, but she does. But there’s a cloudiness to those memories, too. Whatever happened during the Crossing… Maybe the experience from her own perspective was intense enough to block out the competing memories from her otherworld selves.

There’s such a gravity to all of this, and Odessa doesn’t care for it much. It’s too familiar. “I wish I could tell the future,” she admits, even though she’s seen what that horrifying power of knowing has done to people. People she cares about. People like Eve. “I’d love to be able to tell you that this is all going to turn out right. But all I have is a feeling. I don’t know what it’s good for anymore, without my…”

Blue eyes close, and for a moment she attempts to focus, reach out with senses she simply doesn’t have anymore. There’s frustration in her gaze when she opens her eyes again. A sad smile. “You’ll be back.”

Funny. Sometimes a simple vote of confidence is all it takes. A grin spreads across Silas's face. "You're probably right," he says with a grin; all of this heavy discussion and worrying really isn't like him. "I'm like a bad penny; I always turn up, sooner or later," he snickers, a gleam of impish good humor in his eye as he finishes his mimosa.

Odessa’s own drink is tipped back, and she moves along over to an old radio, which she switches on. It’s been tuned to the jazz station. Her favorite, if how often she’s done this since her arrival is any indication. Setting her glass down next to the radio, she slowly meanders her way back from the table, hips swaying gently to the music as she goes, eyes lidded.

“I think I’m going to give myself up, Silas.” Her voice is quiet, barely heard over the music, but there’s no tremor of fear there. “I don’t think I can do this anymore. I don’t think I can keep running.” Her eyes open and Odessa holds out her arms, palms up and fingers wiggling in an invitation for him to come join her. “But not until after you get back.” An assurance.

Silas has done many things in his life, and not all of them he is proud of. One thing he can say that he has not done, however, is turn down an invitation to dance with a pretty woman, and be damned if he's going to start now.

So he sets his own glass down, takes her hand, and joins her in the dance. He doesn't answer her immediately; for several moments, he just dances with her, letting his feet and body move while his mind turns that idea over. "Unsurprisingly, I think this is a terrible idea," Silas murmurs; his voice is quiet, but though there's regret in it, there's also a sense of warmth. "For a number of reasons." Not least of which is the threat of an encore from Mazdak.

"But… somebody once told me that freedom is yours to do with as you please; that's the whole reason it's freedom. If that's what you feel you have to do…"

He lets out a melancholy little chuckle in lieu of finishing that thought, and keeps dancing instead. "I'm glad you're going to wait for me, though. Means I won't have to be worried about whether they're treating you right."

For as long as he wants to mull it over in silence, save for the scraping and tapping of their shoes over the deck as they dance together, Odessa is content to let him. When he does finally speak up, it’s while she’s in midspin, their arms extending out from themselves, connected to one another by a clasp of fingers, and when they’re pulled taut, she bounces back toward him again in the reverse. The spin ends with her back against his chest. The proximity does nothing to bother her as she sways gently in time with him.

“I can’t rely on you to protect me forever. Besides, you’re practically an illegal alien,” she teases. Her compliance in signing the NDA regarding the Crossing had been a mark in her favor at her trial. “Harboring a fugitive of the law will likely not be taken well when they eventually find me.”

Odessa twists again so she can turn toward him, her face turned up to meet his eyes and admire his smile. She’s still quite close. “They always find me.” His melancholy on the subject sinks bone deep and she finds it gratifying. She relishes it, this emotion that he feels that’s about her and how she affects him.

It allows her to smile again. “Don’t be sad for me, Smiles. Sometimes… Sometimes doing the right thing is painful.” Her hands relocate now to his shoulders and she comes up on her tiptoes to press a kiss to his cheek, very close to the corner of his mouth, in some hopes of assuaging his fears. In assuring him it’s going to be alright. “But I thought about it.” Odessa’s eyes sparkle. See, sometimes doing the easy thing is okay.

Happily, for all the things that are different between this world and the one where he learned to dance, the steps are the same. There is probably a reason for that, but right now Silas isn't interested in the vagaries of dimensional divergence or the separation of timelines; right now he's dancing. No contest which of the two is more important.

Also happily, Des is a grand dancer.

Less happily at this particular moment, she's also a pretty good logician when so inclined; her arguments draw a slow exhalation. He'd like to argue, he truly would. But she's right. There are no two ways about that. He's not happy about it… but then she leans up and gives him that kiss on the cheek.

He blinks, caught by surprise… but then he can't help but laugh. He lowers his head, closing his eyes, smiling broadly. She's defeated his resistance… but he can't say he's unhappy about it. "If you've no regrets… then I'll try not to worry, either," he says gently, smiling still.

Odessa’s gaze is just a little too unwavering when he says that last piece to her. Like there’s something going on behind her eyes that isn’t playing out on her face when that sparkle fades. “I haven’t had someone to dance with in a long time,” she admits. Not like anyone at PISEC would have if any of them had been much inclined toward it. And Richard before that, well…

“I used to have a waltzing partner,” is a deflection. Her gaze has shifted somewhat skyward, like she’s assessing the clouds over Silas’ left shoulder. Like the shapes they form are some glimpse into her past. “There’s never been another quite like him.” Odessa lets out a huff of laughter then, turning her attention back to her partner to lean in conspiratorially. “That’s a good thing.”

No. She’s definitely going to have regrets. Moments like this, giving those up, is going to be chief among them. “I’m going to make the most of the time I have left, I think. Try and visit some old friends one last time.” Because it may be the last time. She has no way of knowing how merciful SESA is going to be when she eventually calls to turn herself in. No way of knowing of Mazdak will just find her and finish the job even if they are. (Merciful.)

“And then, when you get back,” Odessa proposes, “we’ll have ourselves one last hurrah. Then I’ll be off.”

Ah. Maybe some regrets, then. But then again, too few to mention, he thinks to himself. Sinatra. Seems appropriate. "Sounds like as good a way to spend it as any," he says. Then, more somberly, "We're leaving on the 24th, late; probably be back by the first of March."

"But that's then. For now…"

He grins again. "One more dance?"

His grins are infectious. Odessa allows her hands to be reclaimed and draws in close for one last dance. Just for now. There’s three more tomorrows before it might be the last last dance.

As she rests her cheek against him, moving smoothly with the tempo, she can’t help but wonder how drastically different her life would have been if she’d had friends like these before… Well, before everything.

“I’ll always save one more dance for you,” she promises.

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