One Must Ask


odessa_icon.gif sabra_icon.gif

Scene Title One Must Ask
Synopsis Sabra reacquaints herself with Odessa. The latter is shocked to discover just how honest she is with the former.
Date October 15, 2008

Primatech Research — Sabra Dalton's Office

Wednesday morning finds Sabra not at her desk, but comfortably seated in a chair beside the office windows, taking in the sunlight. She wears a lavender blouse and very dark blue pants, and presently appears to be occupied with a file, making notes on a small pad as she reads. The cup of tea on a small table at her elbow looks like it hasn't been touched in a while.

There's a quiet knock on the door just before Odessa pokes her head inside. "<Good morning, Madame Dalton. May I come in?>" Doctor Knutson never passes up the chance to practice her French. She's about as fluent as she can expect to be without proper immersion, so the chance to speak it is always welcome. "<I don't mean to intrude…>"

Sabra starts at the unexpected noise, but greets the familiar young face with a smile. "<Goodness, darling, you're not in the least intruding. You're a much more pleasant sight for these old eyes.>" Closing the file, the old woman stands up and moves over to set it on the desk. "<Do come in, please. Would you care for some tea?>"

Doctor Knutson has to pause for a moment to process the words and arrange what she wants to say in her own mind properly. "<That would be lovely.>" She enters the room and shuts the door behind her quietly. "<Congratulations on your new position.>" Those words were obviously practiced. "<I hope you enjoy your time here.>"

Ashton, never far away, brings in a cup for Odessa, silently offering cream and sugar to go with it. Sabra, meanwhile, gestures the young woman to a seat. "<Thank you, dear,>" she replies with a warm smile. "<It's giving me a chance to catch up with all the people I've missed. Like yourself.>" The older woman settles back down in her chair. "<You've grown into a beautiful young woman.>"

Odessa smiles to Ashton as she accepts the tea and takes her seat. She adds three lumps of sugar to the brew and mixes it in slowly. "Merci," she responds to the new director. "<Must be good genetics.>" The quip could do with a little sugar to take some of the bitter edge off of it, but it's gone quickly enough. "<The years have been kind to us both, it seems. You're as beautiful as I remember.>" The young doctor's had many maternal-aged figures in her life, but none that she ever remembered as fondly as she remembers Sabra Dalton.

Blue eyes twinkle over the cup of tea in her hands. "<Then either your memory or your eyes are kind,>" Sabra remarks with slightly dry humor. The bitterness is allowed to pass, at least for the moment. "<So do tell me, dear — I don't have the luxury of saying 'everything', but at least the highlights of what I had the misfortune to miss?>"

Odessa actually shrugs, sipping at her tea. "<Everything? Gosh, my everything isn't terribly interesting. I've learned a bit more Russian, but it's still a work in progress.>" She glances toward the ceiling, trying to think of something else she's accomplished since she last saw the kindly woman. "<I've been working on developing a test to identify Evolved individuals simply from blood samples. Though I admit that my progress has been slow with Doctor Suresh in India. He was a great help when he was here…>"

Sabra shakes her head, smile gently admonishing. "<In a dozen years, I'm sure you've done something interesting. The things you do — which I never could — and the people you see, and none of it matters?>" She shakes her head slightly. "<Don't get old, dear. You'll get nothing but paperwork and more paperwork.>" There's a pause as the elderly lady takes another sip of her tea, and then tips her head, considering her companion. "<Russian certainly sounds like it'd be work,>" is her opinion on that subject. "<I wish you the best. And, yes, he is good at the genetics. Unfortunately, we can't call him back quite yet. But if you need anything else, dear, you just let me know, yes?>"

"A dozen years," Odessa murmurs, slipping back into English because she simply cannot convey how unbelievably bitter she feels toward her life suddenly, "and nothing interesting has happened to me. The most excitement I've had was getting to watch out the car window as I was transferred from Hartsdale. My reasearch is interesting enough, but nothing that amuses anyone other than myself." Finally, she gets to the heart of the problem, a heavy sigh passing her lips. "I want to see the world outside, Madame Dalton. I can't live my life underground like this. Mister Bishop let me out to retrieve blood samples from a government lab, and now I can't stop thinking about how much I want to be out there." Despite the fact that she was attacked by Sylar. Well, her escort was at least. "I'm tired of hearing about the world. I want to see it. And not through films, either." The blonde closes her eyes tightly and takes in a deep breath. She switches back to French, the language forcing her to take the time to think before she speaks, "<I'm sorry, Madame Director. It isn't my place to question the Company's plans for me. I am well looked after. I should not complain.>"

Sabra listens quietly as Odessa speaks. When the young woman has finished, she folds her hands on the table's edge. "<If you never speak up, Odessa, how will we know what you feel?>" Her expression is more solemn than is typical of the elderly lady, though the blue eyes remain gentle. "<Being 'well looked after' is not the be-all and end-all of life. If you are not happy here, then something needs to be changed.>" There's the simple answer, of course, but that isn't Sabra's style. She's seen it backfire all too often, irreparably burning bridges. "<But 'outside' is a very different place, Odessa. It is not something you can simply jump straight into.>"

"<I know,>" Odessa responds quietly. She wraps her hands around her tea like a lifeline. "<I've heard stories of how scary things are out there, but if it's good enough for everyone else, I should be able to handle it, no? Maybe… Maybe just a couple hours a day to explore?>" The tone of the woman's voice is hopeful and childlike. Almost out of place on a woman of her years, but very much in keeping with the girl she was when she and Sabra last met.

The elderly woman continues to smile softly — not quite 'yes', not quite 'no'. Door number three. "<I think not quite like that, dearest. You have to walk before you can run — and if that was the only time you've been out…>" Sabra lets the statement make its own point, and considers the girl across from her. Considers her own options. "<Will you let me arrange something? I'm afraid it may not be quickly— " Not with all the irons she has in the fire, so to speak. "— but I think simply turning you loose on the world will serve neither the world nor you yourself.>"

Doctor Knutson grins around the rim of her tea cup. "<The world may never be quite prepared for me.>" There's a hint of the smug there that wasn't there in years past. It must come with being a doctor. "<What do you have in mind?>" It's time to be serious, at least in Odessa's mind, and so the childish demeanor is dropped.

The interim director laughs at Odessa's rejoinder. "<Very true,>" she affirms. Her expression becomes more neutral as the conversation shifts to a serious tone, although that smile never quite leaves Sabra's eyes. It rarely does. "<What I would like to do is arrange a… tour guide, if you will. Someone who isn't an agent, ideally,>" she specifies, which also means 'not an escort or guard', "<and can help get your feet wet. We'll have to play it by ear from there, I think, but perhaps one evening a week would be the plan to start.>" And when Sabra says 'evening', she means evening. Not just 'a couple of hours'.

Odessa nods slowly, processing and, frankly, interpreting the underlying subtext of Sabra's offer. "Okay. <That would… be great.>" She smiles and sets her now-empty tea cup aside, folding her hands in her lap. "<If you do decide an agent is necessary, Madame Dalton… Agent Buckley and I do well together.>" The way it's delivered is simply imparting information, rather than truly making a request. But it does at least voice her preference.

"<I will bear that in mind,>" Sabra replies, the smile reappearing in small form on her lips. She takes a last sip of her tea, then places the cup down on the table as well. "<It may be a week or two at least before the arrangements are in place. I hope that is no difficulty?>"

"<I've waited twenty-five years. A couple of weeks is nothing.>" Odessa's smile takes a turn toward the gracious. "<I really appreciate this. If you ever have a need for me, please, don't hesitate.>"

The smile broadens, lines crinkling the old woman's face. "<Rest assured that I won't, dear.>" Sabra nods to Odessa. "<I'll let you know when something changes.>"

"<Thank you.>" Odessa nods her head once to Sabra and then her aide, with an almost shy smile to go along with it before she turns to let herself out.

October 14th: Unlikely Housemates
October 15th: An Old Friend
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