Puppet Master and Rag Doll


doyle2_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif

Scene Title Puppet Master and Rag Doll
Synopsis Eric Doyle receives a call from a woman he thought was dead. Odessa Price reveals her motives to him.
Date September 19, 2010

The Lighthouse

From the outside, the Lighthouse looks as if it has had better days. The massive tower rising out of the house has fallen from its former glory. It is no longer a shining beacon, guiding wayward ships in from the lost harbor — though some may argue its purpose now is even more admirable. In its current state, the lighthouse seems to be in disrepair. Though upon closer inspection it all seems to be in the details. The paint has chipped away, leaving a discolored patterns of grays, whites, off-whites, and more grays. The occasional graffiti tag is here or there along the large building. One would notice that the doors, the windows, and the integrity of the building are all quite sound and newly repaired. The lighthouse has just been left with the look of abandonment.

Inside is a completely different story. Upon entering the main door, one will find a completely furnished and cozy arrangement. A spacious living room lined with two large blue sofa's, facing each other, a coffee table between them and several large bean bag chairs have been planted in the room. Shelves have been hung on the wall to display various different pictures of the occupants. A large bookcase is against the wall, holding a large variety of books from Dr. Seuss to the Bible, and even a copy of the Qur'an. The living room is focused on the fireplace a small black fence encloses it, the wood stocked on the bricks in front of it.

Connected to the living room is a kitchen, complete with a large rectangular table capable of seating around four on each long side and two on each end. A sink, a stove, an oven, a microwave and two refrigerators complete the look. Several low and overhead cabinets line the kitchen. At the edge of the kitchen are a pair of doors, one leading to a bedroom and the other, which has a padlock on it, leads to the basement.

At the back of the living room a glass sliding door leads out into the backyard of the Lighthouse, but just before it a staircase leads to the upper levels of the structure.

Ring ring ring.

Ring ring ring.

It takes Eric Doyle a few moments to find his phone, because it has in fact been buried underneath the fabric doggie bed that Hailey's puppy has been sleeping it, which was dragged up onto the couch at some point. By the time he finally digs it out, it's still ringing, and he snaps it open, bringing it up to one ear.

"Hello?" His voice a little rushed, since he's cleaning.

The number is unrecognised, the Caller ID suggesting that it's blocked, even. When Doyle answers his phone it's quiet on the other end. No background noise. No sound of people moving around or traffic or a breeze to muffle the caller. The silence seems to linger longer than it actually lasts, as silence so often does. In truth, it's just long enough to ensure the man has the phone settled to his ear and is ready for the caller to speak to him.

When that silence is broken, it's a woman's voice.

"Hello, Eric."

It's a ghost's voice.

The half-pile of laundry tucked beneath Doyle's arm is dropped, tumbling down to rest on the couch's cushions as he straightens sharply, even his breath catching for a moment.

"O— " He cuts himself off, asking more sharply, "— who is this?"

"You're a smart boy," the voice says in a bit of a sing-song. "Do you miss me?" And this ghost is just as cheeky in death as she was in life, it would seem. "I could tell you where to come and find me, if you really wanted."

"Who— who the fuck is this?" A sharp question from Doyle on his end, breathing hard for a moment, "If this is… if this is some kind of a sick joke I swear to God I'll…"

"Oh, baby. I would never joke with you," the woman assures in a soothing voice. "Not about this. Never about this." It's silent again for a moment. Like she may have hung up, except that there's no tell-tale pop or click of the connection being severed. No beep from the phone to alert to a lost call.

"Sea View Hospital."

There's just silence on Doyle's end for a few long moments, although he can be heard to breathe on the other end of the line. "I don't know who this is, lady," he all but growls through the phone, "But you've just made a mistake."

The phone on his end is hung up, and he turns to head for the door, grabbing his hat on the way. "Brian! I'm going out, I need to— to take care of something. I'll be back later."


Sea View Hospital

Compared to the night Odessa Price was supposed to have died, today is just about as opposite as one can get. The sun shines bright over the Greenbelt, casting broken shapes of light onto the floor of the ruins of Sea View hospital through the broken ceiling. Where there's ceiling left, anyway. That night, it had poured rain from a sky so black it could have been ink. Perhaps both were telling.

Rays of light illuminate footprints of dried mud - flaking dirt obscuring tread patterns and shapes - and signs of struggle. Signs of life and death. A large chunk of pavement has been almost haphazardly discarded. A broken chunk of sidewalk that doesn't belong here, even amongst all the wrecked pieces of the hospital.

Even sunshine can't make dried pools of blood and spatter look cheery. Too much blood for one person to lose and make a phone call over a month later. There's no fresher signs of life here in what was once the lobby. There are, however, fresher signs of death. A bird lays dead in blood that is not its own, its dark feathers singed and charred, eyes dried up in its head. Even its fellow avians haven't dared to pick at the carcass, to aid in its state of decay.

A bit of long-broken glass hidden beneath a sifted layer of dust and dirt blown into the ruins of the old hospital crunch beneath Eric Doyle's foot as he slowly walks along into what was once the main lobby. The edge of a baseball cap shadows his bearded face, a light jacket naming the season as being nearly autumn.

There's nobody there. At least nobody that he seems immediately. The broken bits of stone are noticed by the eye of someone who is - somewhere deep down inside - an artist, the blood darker than the mud from its aging, protected by the ruins from the elements that much at least.

He stops beside the dead bird, his head canting a little to one side as if not comprehending it at first. Like a young boy shown a dead pet without knowing what 'dead' means.

"I had this grand idea for how I was going to reveal myself to you," comes the woman's voice from an indeterminate point further within the hospital, an area still shielded from the sun by what's left of the rooftop. "But it required pyrotechnics or something impractical like that and I thought… No."

When she steps into the light, she looks perhaps like Eric Doyle might picture an angel. A broken angel, as she's always been to him. White hair - not that pale blonde she'd been slowly dying her hair to, but actually white - is swept by a breeze that comes in through a broken window pane and cracks in the walls. Her clothing is white, or maybe a bright grey, a tank top and skirt made from fragments of fabrics in varying patterns, grey and white, giving a certain edge of being like a rag doll discarded in the corner of a play room for far too long.

The way the light plays across he planes of her face tells a story. Not a good one. Like a Grimm fairytale. A deep scar cuts across her lips, another one under her right eye. Her neck carries the same ugly scar across her throat, a cut that became a burn. Her shoulders and face are dimpled in so many places. When the breeze lifts her hair, Doyle can see the white patch over her left eye.

"Here I am."

It's an appropriate image, the patchwork doll of rags. She certainly spent enough time in Moab as his doll, dangling from his strings and made to dance at the whims of the people who held his own. Eric Doyle spent a long time tangled in strings before finding his way out of them… and tying himself instead to a gaggle of children who rely on him now.

The puppeteer knows that everyone needs to be tied to someone. It's a lesson that, maybe, Odessa's never really gotten the hang of.

"O… Odessa?" It's uncertainty, his forehead wrinkling into lines, his head leaning forward upon a thick neck as he regards her warily. It looks like her. Sounds like her. But there are differences — the eyepatch, the white hair. More scars than he remembers. "They told me you were dead."

"I think I was," Odessa admits with a shrug of her shoulders. Stepping over broken glass and crumbling flooring, pebbles and more substantial bits shift beneath the soles of her blood red heels. The only colour she's wearing. She somehow doesn't lose her footing.

"The Institute found me," she explains in a quiet voice. "And I didn't know how to tell anybody. I didn't know if I should tell anybody." She stops at the edges of where the worst of the blood pooled, bringin her gaze down to stare at it as though imagining where she laid. "How did I die?" According to the reports.

If it is her. Eric's expression is cautious, guarded, like a beaten animal that's not sure the hand extended for it is there to pet him… or if he should bite. As she walks over the debris-strewn floors of the hospital, he watches her like a hawk, gaze shadowed by the lid of his hat.

"They said you died in the battle," he says slowly, "When the— when the Ferry helped with the attack on the hospital." Not this hospital, obviously.

"Is that the official story?" Odessa smirks and again shrugs her shoulders. "I suppose that's fair. I wasn't here for the battle, though. I had every intention of arriving at the triage center on schedule and begin treating our wounded." Our. As though she could still be considered part of the Ferry.

"But the best of intentions…" Her chin tilts upward, the sun warming her marked face. She looks to Doyle again. "You don't believe me," she decides after studying his face. "Go ahead. Ask me anything."

"I don't need to." Doyle's knees bend slightly as he crouches down, picking up a chunk of broken sidewalk in his hand and testing its heft. Slowly, he pushes himself up to his full height once more, fingers running over the rough edges of the shattered asphalt, wondering perhaps where it came from and how it got here.

He barely looks up as his other hand raises, the all-too-familiar sensation of muscles trembling for a moment and then stilling beneath the puppet master's control. Her own hand is raised to mirror his, fingers curled as if around a bit of asphalt. "A face is one thing. A voice. But what's inside… well. Nobody can copy that."

Then he pulls his arm back, and throws the bit of broken sidewalk in an arc through the air - strings that could never be seen pulling within her, drawing on the well of the ability he spent so much time keeping in his control within her to try and freeze time around it.

The chunk of broken sidewalk stops in mid-air. Odessa's eyes follow its interrupted arc with only a moment of fear. She's still not thrilled to be not within her own control, but such is always a chance she takes when meeting with Eric Doyle. "Satisfied?" she asks around the curve of a smile.

Just like that, the strings are cut… or perhaps merely fall lax until the puppeteer is ready to take them up again.

Doyle's eyes widen as he just stares at her for a moment… his hand trembling slightly before it falls down to his side. "They… they told me you were dead," he echoes, although there's more emotion there now, almost an apology as he takes a step closer, debris crunching under one foot, "What— how're you alive?"

"Like I said… The Institute found me." Odessa's hand stays up, carefully adjusting her position before allowing her arm to drop back to her side and let the concrete drop where she stood momvents before. Then, she steps forward and holds one hand out toward Doyle, palm pointed downward so as not to suggest something like a handshake.

"I laid here two days before someone found me. They… brought me back." A lock of white hair is taken between the fingers of her other hand. "It did this to me. Accelerated the healing process." Which explains why she has scars instead of healing wounds. Odessa's expression turns apologetic. "This could be dangerous, meeting like this."

It may, indeed, be dangerous. If Wireless were listening on the line for some reason, if one of the birds wasn't merely flying about of its own avian cognizance… but as she holds out her hand, as she shows off the white hair, the scars, Eric does something that she probably doesn't expect him to do.

A quick, awkward half-stumbling few steps take him to her, and if she doesn't freeze him in time or leap out of the way, those bear arms will be around her in a crushing embrace that pulls her in towards him, his head ducking down away from her face so as to hide his expression.

Odessa's breath catches in her throat as Eric Doyle pulls her in for a hug. That was not what she expected at all. But it isn't necessarily the last thing she expected either. Carefully, she wraps her arms around him in return. "It's good to see you, too," she murmurs. "How're the kids?" As if death hadn't parted them. As if she'd just been out of town. Simple. Uncomplicated.

"The kids're fine," Eric murmurs in a thick voice; there might be tears somewhere, but his face is turned away against her shoulder, so she can't see it if there are, "S'just me and Brian out there these days. Gillian's… gone." She was one of those reported captured by the Institute. Perhaps she didn't survive the horrors of that battle. A silent moment, just squeezing her in against him, and then he blurts out, "I— I don't know what happened to your cat."

The small woman laughs quietly against the larger man's chest. "I'm sure someone's taking care of 'Inger." She hopes so, anyway. A memory of a parallel flits through her mind, of her being as grateful to see someone alive as Doyle is now about her. Odessa smiles faintly. "I… I need you to know something, because… Because I think you'll understand."

"There's some nurse running your clinic now, I met her the other day…" Just random bits of information, thoughts of her that he's had that are just coming out now as Eric - awkward as ever when it comes to personal matters - just babbles on for a few moments before leaning back a half-step almost reluctantly, sliding his hands along her arms as he does so. His big old puppy-eyes look to her as she says the latter, "Yeah?"

"I'm working for the Institute," she says carefully, her eyes studying his expression for any sign that she should perhaps be ready with a pre-emptive time freeze and a dash for safety. "Not because it was my first choice." Odessa keeps her hands sort of loosely at the man's back. Her fingers sort of restlessly fidget against his shirt.

A sad little half-smile answers her words, Doyle's bearded chin dropping slightly in a ducked-out nod, curt, quick in response. "I figured that," he says quietly, "Just about the time that you said they found you." He's silent for a moment, then asks, "When you were still here, they… they said there was a leak. Was that…"

Odessa shakes her head quickly, her eyes a little wide. "No. Never. I have never betrayed the Ferry, and I don't intend to start now." She drops her arms to her side, but doesn't pull away. "I'm not entirely sure that they… even know about my association with the Ferry. If they do, they've shown no sign that they even care. Nobody's asked me to compromise anything. And I wouldn't anyway."

"So…" Eric's forehead wrinkles up again under the edge of his baseball cap's lid, his brows drawing together in a furrow. As her arms drop, his hands slide down them, brushing to the back of her hands a moment before falling down, "…why? I mean… are they threatening you?" It is, after all, the reasonable assumption. Blackmail.

Odessa grimaces. "They have answers. Answer to questions that I can't get without them." It's a horrible reason to compromise her ideals, such as they are, and she knows it. Her moral compass is already horribly damaged as it stands. "But also… If I stay within the Institute… I can know what they have planned." Her brows come up, a look pleading for his understanding.

The former excuse, Eric isn't surprised by. He's come to expect it of her, after all, understands that deep down… Odessa Knutson is all about protecting Odessa Knutson. The second blindsides him for a moment, forehead lining as he gives her an almost quizzical look at the idea of her risking herself like that. "You're not…" A half-laugh, that dies, "…you're, you're serious? That— I mean— that'll put you in a lot of danger, from— from just about everyone, you know…"

Odessa rolls her eye — well, presumably both eyes roll, if there is in fact another eye behind the patch, Eric can't know for certain — and shrugs in the universal gesture for what can you do? "I know, it doesn't seem my style at all, does it?" She smiles though. "But what use is a life lived carefully?"

One hand, the skin of her fingers and palms pitted as her face from defensive wounds, comes up to rest on Eric's cheek. "I need someone to pass that information to, though. You see? Who else is gonna believe me when I say I'm looking out for the Ferry?" If even he worried she may have been the leak, it's likely he's not alone in that.

Eric's head shakes slowly from side to side at her first words… and as her hand rests to his cheek, he leans into it a bit, the scruff and stubble of his short but expansive beard tickling raspily at her scarred fingers. "I can do that," he says in serious tones, watching her for a moment, one hand coming up to cover hers in his own surprisingly callused, surprisingly deft fingers, turning his head to brush a kiss to her palm.

"So has the great Doctor Knutson actually found something to believe in greater than herself," he asks faux-playfully, "Or is this just a phase you're going through?"

"I think only time will tell," Odessa murmurs fondly, brushing her thumb over that stubbled cheek slowly. "The people of the Ferry were good to me. …All except one." A note she doesn't let linger very long before she's adding to her thoughts. "I don't want to let them down. I was trying to hide from the Institute. I never wanted this. But as long as I'm in this situation, as long as I'm valuable to them, it's best to make the most of it. They were looking for me, and if I go missing, they'll come looking for me again. I can't put anyone in danger that way."

"I don't— I'm not going to pretend I know what all this cloak-and-dagger stuff is about," Eric admits in rue-touched tones, "I'm a simple guy. I— I live a pretty simple life, or I like to, anyway. But I know things are really— really messed up right now. It's dangerous." His gaze meets hers, and he quirks a faint smile, "Be careful. Alright? You're the only one who really… understands me."

"Right back at ya." Odessa grins before her eyes lid and she comes up on her toes to press a kiss not quite to Doyle's mouth, but the corner of it, touching mostly cheek.

As she leans up, Doyle leans down a bit to accept the brush of her lips, his hand coming up briefly to frame her cheek — thumb brushing under her lower lip as he looks back down to her for a moment. "I'm not the one walking into the lion's den," he reminds her quietly, quirking a faint smile, "I'm glad you're alive. I mean. It's not fair someone else killing you before one of us kills the other one, you know?"

It's almost a romantic statement, in a Doyle sort of way.

Odessa actually giggles at that, coming back to rest on her heels again. "You're not wrong." She brings her free hand down to clasp at his. "Be careful, Eric. There are people in the Ferry who aren't going to trust you if they know we're workin' together. And… You love those kids. I don't want you to lose that on my account."

Doyle brings her clasped hand up a bit, his head dipping over it to brush a whisker-tickling kiss against her knuckles. "What working together? I'm just talking to an old… enemy," he says with a smirk, a hint of mischief dancing in his eyes, "I won't say a word."

Something flashes in the woman's eye. It's a bit like lust and a bit like something much more devious, but Odessa takes the compliment and the kiss to her hand with a slow grin. "That's the man I know and hate," she teases.

"This nightingale must fly," she laments, with a look toward the sky. "Beware of all other birds," is offered somewhat cryptically as Odessa withdraws and takes a reluctant step back, her fingers still not quite leaving his hand even as the one she has on his face falls away.

The puppeteer may have settled into his role as a caretaker of children, but beneath the smiles and easy laughter there's still the monster they once spoke of, devious and merciless as ever. Just because he has something - someones - to live for these days doesn't make him any less dangerous, even if some might think it does.

It may, in fact, make him moreso.

That monster glints briefly in Eric's eyes as he returns the look, his lips curving in a slow smile of his own… and he straightens slowly, the tips of his fingers skimming along her palm and fingers, lingering there without quite falling away as well. "You know where to find me," he says quietly, "And if I find out you're trying to play me… well." The smile widens a little bit, "We should be beyond threats by now, I guess."

"I know better by now, Eric. I'd be looking for a much easier mark if I were trying to play someone. There were so many within Gun Hill that trusted me implicitly." Odessa's logic is cold, while the look in her eye is fiery as she finally drops her hand back to her side. Fools may be a sentiment left unspoken. "If you need me… Send a bouquet of yellow daisies to the Suresh Center. Make sure you address them to Doctor Price, of course. I'll meet you by the ferris wheel at Coney Island, unless you specificy a better location." Brooklyn should be neutral enough.

"Daisies," Doyle nods once, "Doctor Price. Got it…"

He drops back a step, starting to turn before pausing, glancing back over his shoulder. "They might have answers you want," he says quietly, "But in the end they're the same fucking people who locked me up. Who locked you up. Different names, maybe, but… there really isn't much difference."

Odessa's expression is a sad one at that notion. It's not a thought she hasn't thought herself a thousand times. "I know." Then, that smirk creeps back to her lips. "I kind'a figured it would go without saying that once I get what I want from them…

"All bets are off."

Perhaps deep down, it's not about loyalty to the Ferry, or disloyalty to the Institute. It all still comes down to one thing - the same thing as always. And as her hands come out to either side of her body and she simply seems to disappear, Doyle's left with that niggling notion.

It's always about Odessa Price.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License