Separate Ways


des_icon.gif eve2_icon.gif frank_icon.gif

Scene Title Separate Ways
Synopsis Eve and Des find more than they bargained for in Dr. Witchenstein.
Date March 22, 2018

Phoenix Heights

Phoenix Heights is the single largest residential neighborhood in the Safe Zone, sprawling more than six miles east to west through the city, but is also the least-dense in population. The neighborhood comprises many once-smaller districts, collectively renamed in memorial to the freedom-fighting organization Phoenix that prevented a biological weapon attack on New York City in 2009, an event that went widely unknown for nearly a decade. Now, Phoenix Heights is planned to be the residential heart of the Safe Zone. Though many of its buildings are brownstones and tenements in varying degrees of repair, Phoenix Heights also houses many small bodega-style businesses. It also features small parks that have overgrown more abandoned portions of the neighborhood. There is still considerable work to be done repairing the crumbling buildings, dilapidated roads, and heavily damaged power grid in Phoenix Heights, and this area also suffers from the greatest number of scheduled brown-outs and blackouts.

The Safe Zone is safe, more or less, but can still be a mess. Navigating through the mass of people to find anyone, let alone someone who doesn't usually particularly stand out, can be tricky.

Luckily, Eve has intuition.

Standing outside of an old deli, Frank has a pair of Porta Pros on his head, with a joint in his mouth, staring down at some local paper.

Given how, well, striking he was in Eve's vision, he probably stands out like a sore thumb against that wall, wearing a large black coat that seems like it's not even in his size.

One can hear Careless Whisper rather loudly playing from his headphones.

This might be a long evening.

"That's him?" Des looks to Eve with confusion, staring out the passenger window of the woman's car at the man her friend, the driver and prophetess, has pointed out to her.

Narrow shoulders come up in a shrug. "He looks so… unassuming." And so does she if you don't know her. Which is why she knows there's more to a person than meets the eye. Des pulls her hood up over head. She doesn't have her glasses with her to help obscure her features, and she has to hope against hope that she won't need it. C'est la vie says the cursive script on her hooded sweatshirt. That wasn't meant to set the tone for her evening.

"There he is," Eve hisses and gives Des a look. As if Frank could hear them from there and he apparently was listening to music. Shutting the car off, she uses pale gray eyes to peer over the steering wheel at him.

"We could run him over."

"Just WHAM! You know he might have gifts or something. Or be just a man.. hm maybe just a man."

She wasn't serious pssssh, was she? There's a light hum that rumbles from Eve's belly and she nods her head. "Okay let's go get him."

Nudging the door open, she slips out of the car and crouches. Pulling her black felt sombrero from the backseat of the black and red Mustang and tugging it on her head she pats down her coat pockets to make sure that her weapons are there if needed. "Hmm check, check." And then her eyes narrow and Eve jerks her head over in his direction. "Tenemos una gallina gorda para cazar."

Suddenly he looks up when he realizes he's being approached, pulling his headphones off, allowing them to hang on his neck as Uptown Girl begins to audibly play. He stares at Eve for a long moment, his eyes seemingly devoid of any particular feeling, almost dead.

"Your skin is degenerating in a pleasant way." he states as marijuana smoke suddenly blows from his nostrils. "I don't speak Spanish."

"We cannot just run him over," Des insists with a roll of her eyes. "For starters, we'd hit the building and lose points," she deadpans. "Second, he probably doesn't even have decent loot. But I got dibs on his headphones anyway." That might have made her brother laugh if he had heard her. Maybe in a different life.

Des slides out of her seat and out the open door of the car after checking to make sure she isn't going to hit someone or get hit. She turns and looks at the other woman, stunned to silent for the space of exactly three seconds. "Deja eso, Eve." She motions to the hat. Because it is a bit much. The red Mustang is already too conspicuous for Odessa's tastes, but she didn't really have much choice in the matter. That she's unarmed herself doesn't help ease the apprehensiveness coiling in the pit of her stomach.

Something about the way the man speaks to them causes Des to falter a moment. Nearly tripping over the pavement-brushing hem of her yoga pants, she's saved by gripping the signpost she was just walking past. Not again, she thinks to herself.

"Oh come on! Look I forgot the fringe, it makes it even more obscure. But watch," she pulls the brim down over her eyes as they stalk across the street and are spotted and then Frank is saying shit about her skin degenerating but like beautifully or something.

"Gimmie that!"

Nabbing the joint out of his mouth she quickly skips backwards a step to puff on it herself. Her brow furrows and then she looks at Des with wide eyes, "It's the good shit." Eve looks at Frank in a slightly new light. Her eyes look him up and down. "Are you okay Dorothy?"

Bouncing forward to peer at Frank's face. "Are you a science fairy?"

"My name is Doctor Witchenstein. I'm a geneticist and freelance doctor. Do I know you?" Frank asks, staring at Eve a bit harder. Then he walks over to Odessa, watching her.

A few things go through his mind.

Processing certain emotions, the ones that tend to hide away constantly.

He reaches down, placing two hands against his wrist. "I apologize for my increased pulse." Then, staring down at Odessa again, he asks, "I can probably help. Your skin is just…" He checks his pulse again. "I apologize, I should breathe. You can call me Frank."

"E—" Too late. Des can't stop her friend from snatching the joint out of the poor man's mouth. That's not hygenic. It's one thing when they share. This is another thing entirely. That he seems unruffled is a surprise to Des, who's still a little bit high herself. Especially if what was just stolen from him was the good shit, as Eve put it.

There is no way that's his real name. Witchenstein? Really? When his focus rapidly shifts to her, Odessa feels as though she's trying to shrink in on herself. Is that what that feels like? She shoots a nervous glance over at Eve, but holds her ground. "Breathing's important," is all she can manage to say in response to his introduction.

Science Fairy

The words echo in her head as she shakes it and puffs more on the joint as she eyes Frank and then Des. "Breathing is good and if you wanna keep doing it you better tell us what we wanna know Frankie."

"And I'll steal your stash." Because Eve likes this shit.

There's a narrowed eyed glare given to Frank. "Why are you looking for Odessa Price?"

"I'm not looking for Odessa Price. I haven't heard that name in years." Frank states, revealing that he has heard it period. "I'm not looking for anyone. I buy meat, and do surgery. I listen to music." Eyes Without A Face begins to play on his Porta Pros. He has an almost dreamy look on his eyes, drifting up at the sky, almost unaware of their presence. He doesn't seem to care about threats to steal his stash. "Doctor Price… she never noticed me, I was an intern, whenever I saw her. Just a random lab rat, nothing like her…"

Tears begin to stream down his cheeks, but his tone doesn't suggest that he's crying, it sounds almost happy. "Feelings… they're so… they don't work right. Music makes me feel, but Doctor Price, seeing her walk through the halls, working on her projects, I never understood it. My increased pulse, new emotions, things I don't understand. I don't… like to think about feelings. They don't make sense, you can't control them, and they hide away, just like that, and it's back to an empty pit, a pit only filled by music and science…"

He wipes his eyes, clearing his throat. "I apologize. I'd rather not discuss Doctor Price. She's probably dead and I don't like to remember that those feelings existed."

Now it's Odessa who has to remember to breathe. This is surreal. This man in front of her, almost uncomfortably close to her, who apparently had feelings for her doesn't even recognize her. That is a small comfort, honestly. If someone who has fond memories of her can't recognize her, maybe her enemies will find themselves with equal difficulty.

It's a stupid thing that she does next, but Des pulls back the hood of her sweatshirt as she finally sucks in a breath of air and exhales again. She looks up at him in disbelief.

She should run. Instead, she's rooted to the spot, casting another look in Eve's direction, as if to beg for direction. She knows better than to expect sound advice from someone almost as mad as Des is herself.

"Schoolgirl crush?

Eve isn't trying to be mean per say but she has to know his intentions. "So you wouldn't scalpel her with a scalpel?" It's a pointed question and Eve isn't sure he can answer it truthfully. She saw him cutting into that man. "I can see the future so just know. I'll know if you're lying. I can see you." Pointing at her eyes and then pointing back at his. Then she's tossing him the joint back, staying a safe distance and then Odessa is walking forward and taking off her hood, Eve follows suit lifting the brim of her sombrero.

"Surpriseee, this is not a metaphor."

"Ah, if she ever needed surgery, I would gladly cut her. Her skin is beautiful, the idea of slicing through it with a scalpel… it's incredibly alluring. But I only do surgical procedures I'm getting paid for. I don't just grab people and cut them." Frank puts an emphasis on people for some reason, but then Odessa is pulling her hood back, and he's placing two fingers on his pulse again.

"Doctor Price…" He steps back from her, leaning his back against the wall, trying to breathe. "I didn't… I don't…" He tries to breathe, sliding down until he's entirely sitting, legs crossed, hunched over. "I don't… understand feelings like that. I don't understand what you make me feel, it hurts, and feels good, and overwhelms me all at once. I haven't felt it in so long… it's like…"

Tears are coming again, but it's definitely not normal tears, they're the tears of someone who has no idea what the hell strong emotions even feel like, someone who has no idea how to even identify them, how to process them. "You make me feel like Wham's Last Christmas." he says in an almost ridiculously clinical tone, as if he's observing the symptoms of a disease.

Odessa can relate. To… most of it, actually. While she's since learned to better understand her feelings, she remembers watching Wu-Long watch her. Asking him why he would stand too close to her. Why he wanted to make her uncomfortable. She didn't understand that the discomfort was… Well, the first flutters of love and desire are rarely comforting in Odessa's experience.

Not, of course, that she expects this to be either of those things. Not in reality.

Odessa kneels down on the ground next to where Frank is nearly sitting. "Doctor… It's okay." She's afraid that he might lunge out at her with a knife. This is precisely the sort of thing she would have done to lure someone into a false sense of security, after all. But she is brave, and in possession of her ability. Something she wasn't during the majority of her tenure with the Institute.

There's a whole lot of feelings going on and it's really messing with Eve's whole Desperado gone Italian routine. The seer sighs loudly and puts a hand on her hip. "Don't cry, life is hard and so is love but you're a handsome dude. Doctor."

Eve's eyes stay on the man as Odessa gets closer and she tilts her head. "How have you evaded capture?" Everyone knew if you worked for Institute you were in prison, dead or on the run and in hiding, like Odessa.

"I like to hear that you only cut skin when it's for surgery that is of… the medical persuasion." He can like it, just don't become a nut about it.

Frank stares up at Odessa, his eyes scanning over her face, taking in the subtle way that her mouth pulls at her cheeks when she speaks, the way that her eyes move in their sockets, the warmth of the breath from her nostrils.

She can likely feel his rapid pulse when she makes contact with him.

"I was a simple worker, a scientist they got out of college. I don't know anything about their illegal activities." he says this as if he's reciting lines, he is not a good actor at all. "She keeps me safe, my friend. So I'm fine, I don't have to worry about prison." And then, as if expecting something, he quickly adds, "I won't tell you about my friend."

He looks up at Odessa, raising his hand, but he stops short. "I've always wanted to touch your face. I like the way that you smell. And I used to hear about things you did… I wish I could have seen those things."

Oh, what the fuck?

Des is pretty sure every story about the feats of Odessa Price is about some monstrous act she either committed herself or at least was an accomplice to. Who would have wanted to witness any of that? She isn't exactly known for her acts of charity.

"Can… Can your friend protect me, too?" Odessa flashes an apologetic look to Eve as she reaches out to take one of Frank's hands in both of hers, a pleading expression. "I'm so scared. All the time."

There is more blinking and Eve puts another hand on her hip and she crouched down to look at the man. "If you friend can help my friend. Then maybe we're all friends." Logic. "Maybe.. this is why I saw you. You silly boy. You don't have to cut people up to get my attention!" Eve makes to mockingly swat Frank but it's gentle and would graze his knee.

It seems like its story time so Eve sits her ass on the pavement and takes out one of her own joints. Lighting it and looking over at the two, she tilts her head. The smoke collects under her sombrero before it wafts up to the sky.

"I'm sure that she can, if I ask." Frank stares up at her, his eyes becoming wide, a rarity really. His mouth is open, breathing heavy, eyes locked now. "I'll ask her. I don't… I don't want you to be scared, I don't want you to be hurt, or dead."

He suddenly starts to stand, but he reaches out after messing with the CD player in his coat pocket, placing his other hand with her's. He doesn't seem to particularly notice Eve for a long while.

Someday love will find you

Break those chains that bind you

One night will remind you

How we touched and went our separate ways

His headphones are pretty loud on a quiet night.

"I don't want to live if I can't feel real things." he says with his voice rarely shifting in tone again, his speech very level again. "If she won't protect you, I won't do work for her. I want to know what this feeling is."

His grip tightens, and he suddenly asks, "Let me go with you. There's nothing valuable for me to go back to. I just need to get my Tiffany poster and pack my suits and music."

"I— I have nowhere for you to—" Oh fuck what have I done? "I don't have anywhere for you to go. I can't hide you. I can barely hide myself. That's… That's why I need your friend's help." Des clutches Frank's hand tightly and smiles encouragingly. "Who is it? Who managed to make it out?"

A Tiffany poster, suits, and music. He doesn't travel quite as light as she does, but just about. He's not as free as he claims. But, he does have the line down. Hers doesn't quite go the same, but she's got a lot more to lie about. "You have to go back. You have to help me, Frank. Please."

"I.. I think she has the right idea." She sure as hell doesn't want him in Cat's Cradle. She could chain him to a wall.. "That would make too much noise." She resolves the matter herself before bringing it up to the doctors.

Someone from the Institute? Eve's eyes close as she leans in to listen to what the man has to say.

"I don't plan to run away. I'm going to ask her, I'll ask her for you. But I'm not staying in my apartment anymore. You don't have to run alone, you don't have to hide me. I'm not afraid of anything. If I die, I die, I'm just a sack of decaying flesh, we all are. It's okay to die, I just want to feel before it happens." Frank hunches over, placing his forehead against her hands. "I'll ask her, but I can't tell you who she is, or else she won't make life easier for me anymore."

Then he looks up, and finally says, "There's no noise to make. I live alone in a room, I have no personal connections, I don't feel anything for anyone. People spread rumors about me, rumors always get spread about me, and I always have to leave eventually."

"Agree to let me go with you, and I'll ask her." He leans in, then, his tone intense, almost manic. "Let me know you, let me die with you."

Then, pulling away from her, he shakes his head. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean that, I just… I don't know how to act with these feelings. I'm saying things, thinking things, my mind isn't clear. It's like I'm drunk. You're making me drunk."

Odessa draws in a deep breath and time stops around her. Frank and Eve both are suspended in motion. Des closes her eye and thinks. They have no capacity to realize what's happened when time resumes again and Odessa is moving after Frank with a pleasant smile on her face. "It's okay," she tells him, "I understand you. I do."

Too well, in fact.

"Ask your friend. If… Regardless of what she says, send me a message. There's a wall for the lost and missing." Everyone in the Safe Zone knows it. "Address a note to Alice Ayers. I'll find it and we can go from there, okay?" Des slides one hand free of Frank's grasp so she can reach up to gently touch the side of his face. "We'll figure this out. Together."

"Make sure,"

"That it's Ayers. Not just Alice. The other one is always falling down holes."

This is currently, Odessa's show and Eve is just in it and happy to be so. In it to win it. Where's her popcorn?

"I must add. Your taste in music is scrumptious. You must have a heart, all fans of music do." Theres a twinkle in her eye and Eve looks amused and pleased all at once. She loves it. Music can awaken even the most empty of hearts. She knows this. It fills her.

"I listen to music that makes me feel less empty inside. Sometimes it doesn't work. And I always pay attention to details, I'm a surgeon." Frank addresses Eve, before the touch to his cheek. Then he leans into her hand, closing his eyes.

He takes a hand to reach into his pocket, pulling out a card and offering it over.

It has a phone number, and says Doctor Francis Cornelius Witchenstein, Freelance Doctor. "Call me as soon as possible. I'll go pack my things, give a few hours. I hope you don't disappear."

"Only if I have to," Odessa promises. "I never know where's safe. You understand, right?" She closes her eyes and leans a little closer, thumb stroking over Frank's cheekbone gently.

"I'm so glad I found you," she whispers. There's relief in her tone and something… else. When her eyes open again, she fixes her wide gaze on him. "I hope you can protect me from them. I don't want to die."

Frank stares as she leans closer, his pulse pounding at an probably not entirely healthy tempo. And then something registers in his head, when he realizes her increasing closeness. "I've never felt attraction to anyone else… When I see people, attractive people, I see their flesh, how I'd like to perform surgery. When I see you, it's different, I feel the blood rushing through my body. But…"

He stares at her lips for a long moment, and then returns his gaze to her eyes. "I don't… know the steps. I've never cared until now."

"When I'm safe… We can talk about it." Des withdraws slightly, but keeps her hand there. Once upon a time, Odessa Knutson only saw people as medical mysteries to solve. She didn't feel or understand attraction. She cared only to expand her knowledge, for her academic pursuits. He must be as confused as she was.

"I've already lingered too long." Now her hand leaves his cheek so she can grasp the edges of her heather grey hood again and pull it back up into place. "I have to go. Someone might see me."

Frank reaches up to touch his own cheek, then just nods. "I'll take care of it."

He starts walking away, holding his coat together. He doesn't look back, he has to make a phone call.

When he's well away from any of them, he pulls out his phone, his far more empty tone returning, now that he's no longer in the presence of Odessa. "Miss Kravid, I need to meet with you."

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