Relevant Information


ace3_icon.gif odessa3_icon.gif

Scene Title Relevant Information
Synopsis Odessa shares one of her greatest secrets with Ace.
Date December 1, 2020

O: There’s federal agents here. Can you come meet me at work?
♠: Leaving now.

Only once she receives the response — which arrived swiftly enough that she has to wonder if he was waiting for hers — that Odessa allows herself to relax. With the aid of the washroom mirror, she makes sure her make-up is flawless. Touching up her eyeliner and lipstick gives her some sense of control. Gives her something to do with her hands. A focus that requires that she keep them from shaking. Black liner. Pale lips.

There’s nothing her partner can do for her, and she knows it, but if they grab her for having gotten too close to something she wasn’t supposed to, he’ll know if he’s here. It’s important to her, somehow, that he know she didn’t leave him. That much would give her comfort, in the case that there may not be anything else.

Odessa locks eyes with her reflection. Closing her eyes, she inhales through her nose…

The sound of her own hand striking against her cheek is a sharp one and it’s accompanied by a hard exhale. The second smack, this time on the opposite side, comes before she draws the next breath. Opening her eyes again, she makes sure the color is even enough that it doesn’t draw attention to the act.

The reflection in the mirror nods back before squaring her shoulders. “Alright,” Odessa mutters, shoving her cosmetics into the left hand pocket of her dress, the phone sliding into the right. “Just one meeting. How bad can it possibly be?”

One Meeting Later

Raytech NYCSZ Branch Office
December 1, 2020

10:27 AM

Turns out, not so great.

As soon as the conference room door closes, Odessa sinks down into her chair again, elbow propped on the table and her face buried in her hand. “Did you have to do that?” she asks herself. (Herselves.) “You’re going to get me into trouble.” Again, a shudder runs through her frame. “This cannot keep happening.”

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence.

Odessa closes her eyes tightly, lips pressed together and holding back— Even she’s not sure what the emotion is. Ironic how easy it is to identify others', but never her own. Never herself. She lets out a bitter laugh just as her phone buzzes in her pocket. A sigh of relief sees her entire body sag forward.

♠: I’m here.
O: I’m on my way out.

It took great effort to keep her calm as she moved throughout the halls of Raytech in her haste to gather up her things. Her coat, her purse. Nothing so important left behind that she’d have to come back for it later. But she can’t stop herself once she’s stepped down from the employee entrance to the parking lot and sees him waiting outside the car for her. Much like the position they’d been in nearly a month ago.

This time, she picks her cane up and takes off at a run to meet her partner. All but slamming into him when that distance is closed, her cane and purse hit the asphalt when she throws her arms around him, clinging like he might well be a life preserver in the tumultuous sea of her own fear.

She's a wave, crashing into a hardened shore, one bleeding a sharp protectiveness back into the sea of her. Ace closes his arm around her, boring a glare into the building she's left. His other hand lifts to cradle her head against her shoulder. "I've got you," he assures her, rocking once from side to side with the force she's collided into him with.

"This never would have happened if you worked primarily at the main office," comes from him without thought, a careless thing born of frustration. He shakes his head and then looks down to her, sliding a half-step back so he can frame her face with a gentle, guiding touch of his hands. "Are you hurt? What did they do?"

Ace needs to decide if he goes inside before they leave this place behind them.

Her fingers curl into his jacket, breathing deeply to calm herself with not only the act of it, but also with the familiar scent of him and the security his presence represents to her. It allows her to ignore his comment about where she ought to be working instead. Slowly, the panic begins to subside. Her grip eases and she’s only shaking the faintest bit by the time he’s cradling her face. “No,” Odessa confirms quietly, she’s not hurt. “Just…”

No, there’s not a just for this one.

“They took it, Ace.” Now, instead of fear, he sees her frustration that mixes with anger and sadness. “They took my research!” She’s so much of all of those emotions that she’s on the verge of tears. “I worked so hard.

Ace's eyes harden, wondering now what their next steps should be in light of this. He settles his hands on her shoulders, touch light, then lowers his arms back down by his own sides. "Have they left yet?" he asks instantly, looking past her to the building.

"If there was any one handheld piece of information you needed stolen back, name it now." His hand slips into his pocket to retrieve his key fob, handing it to Odessa still without looking at her.

"Name it, and it will be done."

Odessa’s breath catches in her chest, her heart in her eyes as she shifts over from all those unpleasant feelings to this new set. Protected. Loved. Validated.

“It’s already gone,” she sighs. “I didn’t see them anywhere else in the building, so they— They must be off already.” Not that she actually looked. Reaching out, she wraps her hand around his wrist, even though she’s accepted the fob in her other. “Stay with me. That’s what I need. What they took was already out of my possession. There’s nothing you can do for me.”

Having to keep him from doing something foolish on her behalf is what finally calms her down. The tears are no longer such a huge threat. He wants to help, which is… honestly enough. “The results of the samples I took to the university… The government has taken custody of them. I got the first round this morning, because it was on its way to me before they could intercept — and I’ve secured that. But everything else…”

She shakes her head. Everything else is out of her hands. Odessa holds the fob up again. “Let’s get in the car, huh? It’s warmer there.” Plus, it’s only a matter of time before Richard does come looking to check in with her. She’d rather they not be standing together in the parking lot when that time comes.

After being told he can't retaliate or get any of what was lost back, Ace would likely love to take out his frustration on the next available target. Wouldn't he? He doesn't think about the stress that might cause her, only thinks with a metaphorical gnashing of teeth about what was already done.

"I can't believe this," he seethes quietly. "What was the name of that fucking technician? If his life isn't ruined already, it soon will be. Fucking mess of a fool."

The retraction of his wrist from her grasp is a slow thing rather than a yank, or a sudden intangibility to remove her grip on him. Ace levels a look down at her as he does so. She doesn't need to hold him back, it says. Instead, he wraps his arm around her back, his touch light high on her shoulder, nearly at the base of her neck. "Come along," he directs her as much as himself, turning back to the car.

That he’s mad about it is gratifying. It wasn’t even his work. The hand on her back comes in time with the wry expression her mouth has pulled itself into. It wasn’t his work, but her work disrupted his time. It may be for her sake, but it must be partially for his own as well. What was the point of their trip if she’s lost control of the project?

Glancing down as he starts to lead her to the passenger side, she sighs. “Okay. Just make sure I didn’t lose anything when I dropped my purse, please?” She’d insist on stopping to gather it all up herself, but she’s paying for that sprint out the door and she’d like to sit down now. With the seat warmer, preferably, but she won’t be picky.

While he cleans up after her carelessness, Odessa stares at some unfixed point past the dashboard, finger tapping restlessly against the console. It’s time she tried a little more honesty with him, isn’t it? A glance toward the facility — and to where she imagines the conference room is if she had x-ray vision on it — tells her yes.

Collecting Odessa's dropped things from the ground isn't a thing Ace would normally stoop to, but seeing as he can apparently do nothing else at the moment…

Crouched, he runs his thumb over the crystal at the end of the cane and frowns. He feels the crack he can see through it, knows it will need repaired. The green-grey of his eyes travel time and space as he puts together a plan to handle that with as minimal stress as possible. When he rises, coming around to her side of the car, he passes along the back— all items accounted— and relinquishes the cane to her without calling attention to what he's noted. There's enough on her mind.

Plenty enough to obsess about that's more important, arguably.

The seats are both still warm when he slips back to the driver's side, pulling the door shut. "Let's pick you up something on the way home," Ace proposes while he shifts the still-running vehicle into gear. "Coffee? Early lunch?"

“Lunch sounds amazing,” Odessa admits, but only after murmuring her gratitude for his assistance with her things. She knows how little he enjoys acts of service that aren’t of his own devising, so she tries to give positive reinforcement to those behaviors.

Remembering the diner and the coffee shop nearby and who she often spends her time with in those locations when she’s on her breaks, Odessa reaches over to place her hand over Ace’s on the shifter before he can turn out of the parking lot. “Let’s eat at home? We still have that soup leftover from the other night we could reheat. I can make sandwiches?”

Her fingers brush lightly over the backs of his knuckles, affectionate. “It’ll allow me to talk candidly. I’d prefer to be open with you, and feel safe doing so.”

Yes, talking about her brush with federal agents in public might be a little anxiety-inducing, now wouldn't it?

Wordlessly, Ace directs them southbound once they leave the Raytech visitor's lot. He says nothing when they encounter traffic that prevents them from speeding home as quickly as he might like, is ruffled very little under the surface.

There were things worth getting mad about this morning, and having to be patient isn't one of them.

Ace's Brownstone


While he has the less-involved of the two tasks for preparing lunch, Ace treats it no less seriously, pushing a wooden spoon through the soup while it reheats to encourage an even warm. With a sniff for its flavor since it's sat in the fridge, he adds just a pinch of pepper more from the grinder.


"I'm going to have to head back after we eat," he explains with no prompting, though as much might be suspected. "Do you want to talk about things now, or wait until we sit?"

“Now is fine,” Odessa promises. For her part, she has all her ingredients laid out before her on the kitchen island opposite where Ace is standing at the stove, so as not to disrupt him as he may need to move around. She’s seated on a tall stool, slicing through a tomato with a well-sharpened knife with all her surgeon’s precision. The slices come out just about perfect every time.

“And,” she adds, “I’ll be fine here while you’re working.” She sighs quietly as she places the slices onto pieces of wheat bread spread with mayo and whiskey honey dijon mustard for herself. “Ham or turkey?” Maybe there are advantages to working out of the main office. But what would she do that she’d find remotely fulfilling? “I have my piano, I have my plants, I have my books.”

The answer to that question is one that worries her. If she worked in the office instead of splitting her time between a straight and narrow path and an innocuous once, how much more might she be called in to handle?

Shaking that thought off, she gets to the subject at hand, even if they’re going to continue to interject their notions on lunch. She enjoys the comfort they’ve settled into over the past few months. That’s it’s almost six now since they’ve been together makes her smile absently.

“First, thank you for coming to get me. I know you’re busy, so…”

The sheepishness of her gratefulness gives over to a trepidation. “I guess what I need to discuss is…” Where does she even begin? “Do you… remember the auroras in the sky? Before the nonsense in Detroit. That time around Christmas? And people… saw things?”

Holding up the hand still holding the knife, she assures quickly, “I promise this is relevant and going somewhere.”

Ace leaves the soup to warm while he moves to the fridge. "Both," he supposes to his options. He fishes himself a bottle from the inside of the door, snaking it between two fingers, then grabs another between his ring and pinky. It's early for a beer, but that doesn't stop him.

In the process of prying the tops off, he pauses to consider the questions posed to him. "I recall the auroras back in 2018, yes. And I recall certain people saying they saw things. I heard the murmurs— that people said they saw their future, their past, or something different altogether."

He says that just a little too evenly, then slides one of the bottles of Corona across the counter for Odessa. "What of it?"

There’s an impossible kind of fondness when he takes the beer out of the fridge and offers it to her. Like it’s a treat to help calm things, and it’s appreciated. “Thanks,” she murmurs when it’s placed in front of her, wasting little time in setting her work aside to lift it to her lips for a drink. Her eyes lid in tandem with a happy little sigh. Sometimes, you just need a beer before noon.

“I’m going to take it by your decidedly mild response,” Odessa replies with a hint of amusement as she starts to arrange slices of ham and turkey on bread for the both of them, “that you didn’t experience anything of the sort.” She isn’t sure when he landed in New York, she realizes.

“So…” Odessa exhales audibly, visibly unsure of herself. “I did. But… I started back in 2011. I would have dreams and visions of myself. Different versions of myself. And it wasn’t the first time. I used to be able to dream of other worlds.”

She shakes her head quickly, not even looking up from cinching shut bags. She doesn’t need to be looking at him to know what he thinks of what she’s saying. “I know, this sounds… I know I’m actually diagnosed as psychotic, but I swear I’m not crazy.”

It’s not yet the time for when she’s taking questions, so she doesn’t stop, passing Ace’s sandwich to the other side of the island counter and carrying on as she stacks everything up to be carried back to the fridge in as few trips as possible.

“When I still had the ability to control time, it made me a sort of conduit between worlds. And the event that caused me to lose that ability… altered me. I mean, beyond the obvious.” The fridge is pulled open and everything starts getting put in its exact place. They’re both meticulous in that way.

Odessa turns, leaning against the fridge after having closed the door again. “I have memories of other versions of me in my head,” she admits, pressing her lips together and rocking gently with the shift of her balance. “And one of them came out today while those agents were interviewing me.”

Looking down at her feet, she gives her head a tight little shake. “And it’s not the first time it’s happened, either.”

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.

“You deserve to know.”

Ace glances back at Odessa when called out for his mild response a bit pointedly before he moves on to the stove again, stirring. He places a hand over the pot to verify if the heat has gone through fully, silent while he listens to Odessa explain.

Silent, but not unreadable. Not to her.

"Memories," he repeats, because that seems key. Memories are not active, are they? They're not the same as sharing her heart with yet someone else again. Not exactly. But something about it doesn't sit well with him. He shifts to pour off the other half of their meal back into bowls, the activity of it deadening overt emotional reactions to it.

But it's not just memories.

"Why did this happen? Are there specific triggers for this happening? Traumas?" Ace finally looks over at her Odessa fully, eyes sharp. "Has it ever happened because of something I've done?"

It's clear he wants to take apart every aspect of this, for all that he limits his initial questions. He needs to understand the boundaries, how to avoid them— or, how to use them, potentially.

But it's a matter of trust that he won't do the latter.

Pushing off from her lean against the refrigerator, Odessa makes her way back to where she was perched at the island, expecting Ace will prefer to stay standing at the counter for this conversation, rather than seated at the table the way they may have initially intended to eat lunch together. “No. It’s never happened when it’s been the two of us together.”

Even though her appetite is attempting to vanish on her, she still takes a bite of her sandwich, stirring her soup while she chews. “For the sake of being able to identify the distinct personalities clearly, I call them by the way their names vary from the one I have come to know as mine.”

Holding up a finger for each as she counts off, she starts with her thumb. “Knutson. Woods. Destiny. There’s a fourth one, I suppose I call her Sainte Price. But we never seemed to tether well together.” Not that she’s complaining about that at all.

“I thought I… I thought it was just the memories, you know? I remember versions of events that didn’t happen to me. To anyone in this world, because it never did. The Vanguard’s virus was thwarted after all. It’s the one charge I did get acquitted of.” Pushing soup around her bowl, she admits, “Not where Knutson comes from.” And everything that implies is left to hang in the air between them.

“Destiny was actually raised by her parents. For a time, anyway. She’s… a lot more like Jac than she is like me. Her ability developed differently. It… changed her. She’s the least like me.” Figuring it’s finally cool enough to eat safely, she has a spoonful of soup and closes her eyes a moment for the warmth it spreads through her. Different from the warmth the beer imparts. “The saint went and sacrificed herself for someone else. Became some kind of tethered spectre to him. I couldn’t… feel her. But I knew she was me. I could ask questions about her only I would know, and her partner could answer them.”

Odessa’s brow furrows. “Fuck. No. That— That wasn’t me.” With her fingers pinching the bridge of her nose with frustration, he might realize now how difficult it is to keep all of that jumble straight, if what she’s saying is true. But if she wanted to come up with some sort of lie to put him off? She’d need not be so elaborate. “That was Woods.”

Finally, she finds the courage to look up at Ace again across the island, a little smirk on her face. “Woods, now… You’d love her. Trained assassin and loved her job. You’d have been a smart match.” If she hadn’t been married. The smirk fades. “Anyway. Usually, it only manifests in confusion from me now and again as I have different versions of common events play out in my head, but…”

She mulls over her next words in the length of time it takes her to chew and swallow another bite of sandwich. “I noticed that if I spent time with people I had strong memories of from other lives, those memories tended to become dominant. Which makes a certain kind of sense, when you put it in that context. Today was different, though. I… I got scared, and I guess I started to shut down. Retreat?”

Blue eyes shift to focus on the kitchen cupboards, but not really on them. “Woods came out to play, I guess. It’s not that I don’t remember it happening, but I couldn’t… do anything about it. It felt right to play that role. And, Jesus, it could have gotten me in a lot of trouble.” With a rueful kind of smile, she muses. “If you can’t stop time or phase through walls, you don’t fuck around and find out with federal agents.”

Speaking of shut down, the lack of cues, emotional and otherwise that come from Ace as he soaks in the complications of her personality seem an awful lot like it. Processing might be a good term for it, the way he simply watches, then tends to his meal in mechanical movements.

"So," he says quietly after setting aside his spoon again. "If there are such things as other worlds, this is the only one we are close in."

Because of course that's what he'd focus on.

Or maybe it's just a deflection, given the hard, thoughtful stare he levels on her as he rests both hands on the side of the island counter, leaning into them. Ace mulls it for another long moment, jaw beginning to rotate before he tells her plainly, but not unkindly, "This is a problem. You're supposed to wear your masks, not the other way around."

"If you don't get this under control, who knows the inappropriate parties fuck around and find out 'Woods' might show her face to."

It’s hard to argue with him at all. The lack of sharpness to his words helps keep her from feeling the need to defend herself, or at least from experiencing any undue pain from having the situation laid out in this way.

There’s a shift in his emotional state that should be a comfort, but she finds his acceptance is anything but.

“I know what the trigger was,” Odessa comes to realize at some point while she’s been staring off into the middle distance, attempting to devise some sort of solution to this problem of hers. “They knew me. Not Ourania. They called me by my name. They tore away the mask, and there she was underneath.” Arguably, the person most like the woman Odessa Price used to be — the one she’s expected to be by those who know her by reputation — is Woods.

“She said all the things I’ve never had the nerve to say. — I said all the things I’ve never had the nerve to say. About how I’m tired of the government taking advantage of my work and my knowledge and…” Her gaze flickers between him and the countertop in front of herself for a moment. “I wasn’t wrong,” she insists, just short of a pout for it.

Then, an easy smile, thin and wicked as the edge of those knives she likes to carry in her boots. Her eyes flash back to him and they stay there. “You don’t believe me. It’s easier to think that I’m crazy, isn’t it?” And that gaze still stays fixed even as she reaches out to grab her beer by the neck and take a drink.

It stays held in her hand even when she sets it back down on the counter in front of her. “This was a mistake,” she pronounces, an exhale flaring her nostrils. “Yes, among all other worlds, this is the only one where I have you. I’ve wanted to believe that’s what makes this so right, because I’m dead everywhere else. I thought maybe you’re the difference.” Now, she twists it into something like romance, with that wounded edge to it. How could he doubt her?

Odessa turns her face away, muttering against the mouth of her bottle before tipping it back for a drink, “I never should’ve told you.”

Ace's eyes darken when he's accused of thinking her crazy, something reviled and full of abject rejection in it. Crazy makes it sound unnatural to have entire other identities you craft and slip into like second skins; ones with their own lives, motivations, personalities. He'd never refer to it in those words.

But he holds his tongue through at least that much, his emotional temperance unwavering as she goes on. "This wasn't a mistake," he says nearly over her as she begins her mutter. "You encountered an issue today, my muse. You've brought it to my attention. I now know a little more of you. That's—"

A faint laugh nearly a scoff leaves him. "What could be wrong with that?"

It's his turn to look away now, tongue to cheek before he takes a sip of his beer. "During the era of the auroras, I had two spells. Brief. But enough to be disconcerting. And from the sounds of it, very different than your own experience." He continues, even and pointed as he shifts his eyes back to her, "That doesn't mean I discredit you."

The shift in her demeanor is instant. The walls she’d been building up to protect herself from what she assumed would ultimately be his rejection are torn down easily. There she is again, his muse, open and content to display to him her vulnerability. Because she trusts him.

“Not so different as you’d expect. Not in the beginning, at least. It started as dreams… I knew what was happening to the rest of you when it came on, because I’d been living it for years.” Odessa shakes her head. She doesn’t have to go into swapping realities with herself. That’s a story that may never be relevant to the pair of them. (And wouldn’t that be nice?)

Knowing what she wants to say, but not knowing how or if she should say it, Odessa settles for pushing her meal aside so she can reach out across the island, palm up and hand offered to him. There are things she wants to ask about what he saw, but it isn’t her place. Instead, she simply says: “My artist… I love you.”

Ace isn't sure she's so quickly recovered, for his part. He regards her openly still, minding each shift in her expression with a guarded light in his own eye. He's never sure, entirely, how to handle the moments after he's offended her. Pay too much mind to it, and it gives it more weight than it should. Pay not enough, and it's a wound left to fester.

Her reassurance to him feels like permission that it's been given gravity long enough. His hand slips across the countertop to take hers, firm his grip around it. "And I you."

He comes finally to the thought that feels most right to air, brows lifting. "Is there anything in particular you want done with this information? Do you think anything should be done about Woods, and the rest?"

Every time he says it, her heart soars a little higher. She isn’t one of those people who finds that word loses meaning the more use it gets. There’s a faint little smile on her face as he strokes her thumb lightly over the heel of his hand in their clasp.

“Not sure there’s much to be done, except…” Even then, she isn’t sure what the exception is there. “I guess I just feel better with you knowing. That maybe you’ll just… have an appreciation of the amount of conflicting garbage there is in my head at a given moment.” Odessa’s gaze lifts from where they’re joined together so she can find his eyes again. “I just wanted you to know. That I’m a complicated creature, that I’m difficult to love, and that I… get it if it’s too much.”

That last is delivered with an uneasy swallow. It’s always difficult when she puts that out in front of him, or anyone. “If you want me to stay, this is just another part of who I am. Another one of those things that probably goes into the in spite of column when listing reasons to love me, or not.” Her smile is a wry one, but there’s no outward betrayal of fear there. She knows better than to lay emotional traps for him. Those games never pay off well for anyone involved.

“Strange things follow me. I’m never going to be completely normal. And that’s a romantic notion when it’s put into words, but it rarely feels that way in practice. So just keep that in mind.” One shoulder lifts in a shrug. “It’s probably why I try to latch on so hard to things that seem so painfully ordinary to you. Because they’re just… not to me. Even something as simple as walking down to the bodega for snacks? It’s still a novelty.”

Slowly, her fingers start to slip free of his grasp so that they might start to finish their lunch. She knows that he isn’t hers for the day, she’s just borrowing him for now, and she’s grateful even for this brief period to spend together.

The dip of impatience that comes from Ace when Odessa begins what sounds overwhelmingly like apology for being herself likely doesn't help with her concern she'll be tossed aside. But it's paired with a turn of his hand to sure his grip around hers, even if it comes with the annoyance of seeing her doubt herself and her worth.

"I'll keep a closer eye on it, but if you expect nothing will change … then nothing will change, Odessa. The background will remain the background." His eyes soften as he stresses, "But I will never cast you aside for filling in the details, not if you bring them to me at an appropriate moment. Like now."

With the beginnings of a grin, he squeezes her hand gently before letting go. "If you tried to tell me something unrelated while we were in the middle of something else… well, that'd be different." Ace tugs his plate closer, qualifying that with, "Relevant information is welcomed at any time."

He pauses with his sandwich halfway raised to pose, "Tell me, though…" before letting that unspoken question hang in the air while he chews.

"Why do you keep assuming you're still in some … trial period, here? If I want you to stay…" With that echo, he shakes his head, looking near her rather than at her. His voice lifts, teasing. "Do you need chained down for it to begin to finally feel real, my muse?"

Ace chuckles, chasing his bite with a sip. More calmly, more evenly, radiating a serenity she'll surely benefit from, he stresses, "This is your home. Your place is with me. And together, we'll do great things. Believe it, O. It's real."

While he talks, she eats, letting him have the space to respond how he needs to, her eyes scanning over his face, watching the minute changes of his expression for what the changes — or lack of them — in his mood don’t tell her. It unnerves her when she can’t get a read on him, because of what that means about him and what she knows about herself.

When he poses his question, her own expression falls subtly. Not from any sense of disappointment, but because it surprises her to hear him say it. And maybe it surprises her a little that she still needs to hear it.

Her gaze breaks away, uncomfortable. “You have no idea how many times I’ve heard that.” Her lip trembles just the barest bit. “You belong here, Odessa. We’re your family, Odessa. We’re going to save the world, Odessa.

Chin turning in toward one shoulder, her eyes find him again. “Is it any wonder I’m afraid to believe it?” Her brow furrows and she swallows hard, voice lowered in pitch. “It’s not you I don’t believe. I just don’t trust the cycles.” Her gaze flits away, but comes back quickly. “Everything has been taken from me. In every world. Every fucking world. My parents. My freedom. My brother. My power. My— My husband.” While she stumbles on the word, she refuses to shy away from it. To back off on it. He may have suspected there’s a reason one of those names didn’t fit in with what he knew of her aliases anyway.

“What if— What if you’re just next in this long line of losses?” Odessa’s voice trembles and she asks, “What do I do with that?”

Ace's expression falls when Odessa's doubt shows itself again. He hates being right, in this instance. With that his hand is exposed, quiet and deep emotions churning more visibly beneath the surface. Disappointment; something sharper than fear; possessiveness… something not pity, but a need that's shades from it.

Then with a metaphorical wave of his hand, it's shoved under again with a tilt of his head at her.

"Well, you certainly won't let it break you," Ace decides for her with an air of finality. He doesn't dare presume in this moment he'll always be in her future. It's counterintuitive in that it would feed her fear of that what if. He sets aside his food, steady where she shakes.

"But what you'll do until then is ride the razor's edge. You will not let fear of what might happen keep you." The urge to slink around the side of the counter and stand next to her, to look deep into her eyes as he imparts his conviction, is one unbearably strong… but he remains still and apart. His emotions speak louder than that would, anyway. "Will you let it in some way guide you?" That's rhetorical. "How else would you safeguard the things which are most important to you?"

Ace may not understand a number of emotions, but he understands that.

"But you can also learn to surrender to the moment, rather than let fear of an uncertain future take away your present. Your anticipation should be one filled with joy, not…" Ace blinks then, the intense stare he fixes on her fading some. Softening. "Not whatever threatens to claim you now."

He lifts his head a touch. "I make no bold claims as to what we'll actually be able to accomplish together," Ace admits in a rare bout of less-optimistic honesty regarding his goals. "But you're the person I wish to take those steps forward with. To adapt with. To overcome with."

"And I'll fight for every last second of that I get with you, my muse."

"Odessa." The word barely moves his lips even as he stresses it. Just who he pledges himself to, the reality of her rather than an ideal, somehow is important in this moment.

His head dips slightly. "Promise me you will do the same, and we will make that be enough."

“Live life on the razor’s edge long enough and it becomes more exhausting than exciting,” Odessa murmurs quietly, but not in a way that’s meant to be argumentative. Because if she could do it without fear, like he’s suggesting… That might not be so bad.

When his intensity lessens some, it feels like permission to look away again. And she does, staring down at where her nail traces over the countertop, trying to make heads and tails of her own feelings here. He draws a smile from her when he mentions finding joy in anticipation. The fear of it all and the preemptive sort of sadness for a love she’s yet to lose are fading, swallowed up by the churning sea and the shifting tides of her own emotions.

He says he’ll fight for this — tacitly, for her — and Odessa looks up again. Every time, he’s so easily able to see the moment when the hook is taken and the bobber sinks below the surface. His words have stirred her and the light has found its way back into her eyes. “Ace…”

A little grin forms. “You phase through this damn counter and kiss me properly,” she demands teasingly, already turning to one side in anticipation of his arrival next to her.

"But my lunch," Ace protests in return, melodramatic even as he's already stepping through the counter in a needless but artful demonstration of the ability bound to him. He grins in return at her, teasing as much as he is heartened by her reaction. He reaches for her to take her face in both hands as he steps through the other side— as the light above begins to cast a shadow for the bottom half of him again as well.

"Just this once," he lies. "Since you asked so nicely."

His eyes close as he leans into her, one hand parting from her cheek to rest at her midback, arm wrapping around her to keep her near to him. The kiss is a brief thing as he pulls back enough to ask of her, "Tell me you'll fight for me, too." Passion touches those words, and his eyes are on her lips to see them said.

Her whole face has brightened up by the time the light shifts and plays tricks along his form and he shows off for her just the way she asked him to. Odessa lets out a soft giggle just before their lips meet. One hand settles along his arm and the other at his waist, mindful not to rumple his clothing, but she still hooks one leg around the back of his from her seat. Her shoes aren’t on, it’s fine.

There’s no press on when he withdraws. She’s content to accept what he sees fit to give. Her lips are still pulled into a smile as she examines his handsome face, mentally tracing constellations in his freckles. “Do I even have to say it?” she asks him in that way that he’s asked her before. She doesn’t tell him she fights for him every day the topic of their relationship comes up with any of her friends. The best way to end those fights is not a way she’d like to pursue.

Of course, I will.” Blue eyes meet green-grey and, if it were even possible, her expression softens even further with her fondness for him. “I do.”

Ace closes his eyes after she tells him to avoid giving her that window into his soul, but the strange, uncomfortable warmth that blankets and threatens to overtake him is known to her anyway. It's exactly what he wanted, and yet it still has traces of foreign to it. The novelty of it he crushes by drowning it with something else more familiar; another kiss.

This one's only broken so he can sigh against her mouth, "I don't want to go back to work."

That admission of his is responded to with one of Odessa’s peals of breathy laughter. “I know. Makes two of us.” This time, she does give chase with another kiss, but it’s nearly a peck by comparison. “Unfortunately, HR doesn’t think I wanted to lay in bed with my partner all afternoon is a legitimate reason not to show up for work.” That lamentation comes out as a sigh. “I’ve tried.”

She has not.

“But if I had it my way, we’d only leave this house when we wanted to, and together for much of that besides.” Slowly, she lets her leg relax, no longer using it to pen him in against her. “Call me when you’re leaving tonight and I’ll have dinner ready when you get home.” Odessa smirks, reminding him, “It won’t be anything fancy, because we don’t want me to burn down the kitchen, but… It’ll… probably be edible.” And not just cold sandwiches, like her contribution to lunch.

Her mouth pulls to one side, pursing up small. “Even I think that sounds dodgy. We could slum it tonight and have pizza?”

Ace lets out a scoff of a laugh, swaying with his arm still around her waist, now that he has enough space to do so. It does sound dodgy, he agrees, but he won't say. Her doubt in herself is nearly unpalatable on its own. "I think… I will call you on the way back, and let you surprise me."

Hopefully with something of her own making, but he did grant permission otherwise. It's just so rare that she takes those reins.

"In the meantime…" His eyes go back to his abandoned meal ruefully. "I should really head back. I'm sure they've managed just fine without me, but all the same, the perfectionist in me will allow for nothing less than assured best." Ace turns to look back to Odessa. "You'll enjoy the rest of your day?"

“I mean, I’m improving,” she says of her own cooking skills. Things that go into the oven don’t come out looking like charcoal anymore, but no one with any ounce of sense should let her anywhere near any cut of steak. “But it’s still rather bold of you to put your life in my hands this way, Mr. Callahan,” she teases in a low tone. “Tell you what. I’ll make dinner, and you pick dessert.”

There. Even distribution of labor. What a partnership they make.

“At least finish your sandwich before you go? I can put the rest of the soup in a container for you.” For all that there were such heavy storm clouds clinging around her earlier, his assurances seem to have banished all of that. This is their home, where she’s safe. Where she’s loved. And this man is the one who loves her and would protect her. It’s easier to relax with those reminders having been imparted.

His question sees her lifting one brow, pleased with his concern. “Not as much as I will once you’re home with me again, but yes.” Odessa presses a hand over her chest to intimate her sincerity. “I will find something pleasant to occupy my time until I need to start dinner.” She grins. “Maybe I’ll catch up on River Styx.” Very rarely does she make him sit through an episode of that drama unless he happens to come upon her while she’s in the middle of one and can’t tear herself away.

“I’ll be here. Although I think I may need to slip out briefly, go pick up some ingredients.” She hums thoughtfully. “How would you feel about me getting my own car?” Before he can fix her with that look, because she’s distracting him from getting back to work, she lifts her hand to forestall precisely that. “Not talk about it right now. Just some food for thought. Think about it a little, and we’ll talk about it when we both have time.” It’d be nice not to have to wait around for a cab with her grocery sacks.

Proving that she really does mean to let him get going, Odessa takes a moment to reach up and straighten Ace’s tie just so. “There. Not a single ruffled feather,” she proclaims, smoothing down the front of it before she drops her hand back to fold together on the counter. “Thank you, darling. As always.”

Ace slips the car's fob from his pocket, passing it from his hand to hers on the counter. "I think that sounds excessive, and would put us back considerably on other savings. I will think about what you've asked, but hopefully you'll think on that in return."

Rather than drift through the island again, he walks around it to begin finishing off the rest of his meal. His eyes are on getting back to business, phone slid out to request a ride for himself. He doesn't use the application for it often, but it's still an easy enough one to call up.

Excessive. Odessa smiles mildly, hiding anything sour behind a drink of beer. "I'll certainly return the consideration in kind," she vows. It's the least she owes him. Already, she's formulating a list of pros and cons they can review together to help make their decision.

"You're sure?" she asks, glancing from the fob back to her partner. "I can take a PRYR. I do it all the time." Her shoulders shrug nonchalantly. "But, if I don't have to…" A little smirk plays on her lips, pleased for his taking her convenience into account. "I appreciate it. If you think of anything you need from the store, send a text? I'll be getting more ice cream." There's mirth in her eyes at that. Her little indulgence.

Ace lets out a chuckle, looking up at her over his plate. "Save some for me," he warns, chasing the last of the half of his food down with the rest of his beer. "I'll see you tonight."

And then contented she's safe here, and armed with the means to make a quick getaway should that change, the right edge of him blurs before his being swipes left out of corporeal existence. The echo of Ace already moves away, taking advantage of his state to proceed more quickly across the ground floor. The door behind the staircase opens as he rematerializes long enough to fetch his coat, then after it shuts, he's simply gone again.

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