Some Facsimile


bella_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif

Scene Title Some Facsimile
Synopsis Bella and Odessa meet for drinks, and form a friendship. Or at least a sort of group therapy.
Date September 26, 2010


This is one of those slightly quirky places that some people find cute or kitschy and some people find intolerable. The theme is apparent even from the set of swinging saloon doors that marks the real entrance beyond the vestibule/hallway used for carding patrons. Inside the bar proper, the theme really takes off. It doesn't look like it was originally built as a saloon, given its rather large, open floorplan and utter lack of old-timey architectural features, but the walls have been papered with imitation wood paneling and a couple of stuffed dear heads are stuck up on the walls. The large dance floor is hardwood, raised slightly from the concrete floor beneath it. The long, polished bar sits sturdily in front of a wide selection of booze and drink specials are chalked up on boards here and there. A few posters on the wall advertise Wednesdays as 'Ladies' Night' and there are a few advertisements for area gay bars. The real feature of the place is a roped off corner on the other side of the room from the bar. It holds the pride and joy of the bar: a large mechanical bull on an amply padded surface. The music is a mixture of country and the usual array of music popular in clubs with bumping beats that the clientele certainly seem to get down with. Speaking of the clientèle, they are probably some of the most conclusive evidence that this establishment does indeed cater especially to the gay community. Whether or not that was the original purpose of the bar is hard to say.

Consideration was purely ceremonial. Bella knew from the outset that she was going to say 'yes'. Just last year, of course, the idea of getting drinks with an in-session client and co-worker would have seemed ethically unfeasible. At this juncture… such concerns can't but feel silly next to all she's done. And she can't honestly think of a more psychologically helpful activity than having something like a genuine support system when you simply can't talk about your job or your life to anyone. Note, this applies to both Odessa's mental health, and Bella's own.

Yes, that's right, Odessa asked Bella to join her for drinks. Bella's first thought was not 'should I go?'. It was 'what should I wear?'. Standing next to the devastatingly fashionable Dr. Price while in her all-too sedate outfits would make her feel dowdy, and Bella would… rather not feel dowdy.

Not that she's interested in being ogled. God no. One of the reasons she was so enthusiastic about the venue of choice. Desperado. A gay bar. The only sort of place worth drinking at, in Bella's humble estimation. She knows she can't compete with Odessa at her most fabulous, but Bella can make herself pretty if she means it. She's wearing a buttercup yellow sundress with woven pumps, very summery, and her hair is half up, half down, a yellow flower - a daisy to be precise - peeking out of the red locks that are gathered 'up'. Her makeup, usually very tidy and minimal, has been done up, with what might actually be mascara and pale pink lipstick.

She has snagged a seat by the bar, and is already working on a Long Island Ice Tea, wanting to be a little buzzed before going full social with Odessa. She's not nervous because Odessa's a sociopath. She's nervous because she think Odessa will be fun, and Bella isn't sure if she remembers how to be fun. She's lately just been concentrating on how to be alive and looking to stay that way.

Proving Bella's fears/suspicions correct, Odessa is striding into Desperado dressed how the other woman would describe as fabulously. She wears a black bustier-style type with fat, white polka dots scattered over it. Her skirt is black, adorned with dark red stitched stars and a tulle hem at her knees, brushing over fishnet stockings weaving diamond-shaped patterns over pale skin. Her four inch heels are a similar shade of red, accented with black ribbon at the edges.

The outfit does little to disguise Odessa's scars, and they earn her second looks as she makes her way to Bella. A black fabric flower pins back her white hair on her left side, exposing the patch over her ruined eye, adorned with variably sized shiny silver stars. As she slides into her seat, she sends a sort of apprehensive glance Bella's way. "I'm so used to blending in," she confesses. "I'm not used to the way people stare at me…" But she's quick with a smile, as though it doesn't really bother her. "You look great. Yellow's my favourite colour. It suits you, too."

For all Bella's concerns about being compared to Odessa in flair and flash, she's quite sure she'd have been disappointed had Dr. Price worn anything less. Bella leans over from her perch to give Odessa a quick hug in greeting before leaning back, her smile accompanied by a skeptical eyebrow. Blending in? Did her personal style get overhauled before her scarring?

"All the stares you get in here will be admiring, Odessa, trust me," the psychiatrist assures her companion, "and I'm not even talking about your looks, though you do look beautiful." The intimations as to Odessa's fairness are given without that lifted eyebrow. Bella insists on this point. Self-esteem, dammit! Not to mention simple reality assessment.

And just to add a cherry to the moment, the bartender, young, handsome in a very 'Abercrombie and Fitch' way but a little less beefy, as his tight black shirt reveals, slides over to them. "Your first drink is free, honey. What runway did you just walk off of?" is his question.

"I haven't really been out much since…" Odessa trails off and gestures toward her face with a raise of her hand before resting it on the bar. "But thank you. I don't really feel all that beautiful," she admits. When she's addressed, she actually looks over each shoulder to make sure the bartender is really talking to her. "I— Th- Thank you. I'll, ah, I'll have what she's having." She sinks bashfully in her seat and exchanges a look with her companion.

Once the bartender has turned away to start mixing her Long Island, Odessa narrows her gaze faintly to Doctor Sheridan. "How much did you have to promise to tip him to say that?"

"I'm pretty sure you're the one he's hoping will tip him," Bella says, dryly, eyes settling on the bartenders (admittedly very nicely toned) back and shoulders as he prepares Odessa's drink, "and really, Odessa, you think I'm that manipulative? Such an unjustified suspicion about psychiatrists." She grins at her white-haired companion, "plus I'm off the clock." Yeah, Bella's about halfway through her drink already, and she can feel it.

"Thanks, by the way, for getting me out," Bella adds, in a more serious note, "I was getting stir crazy. Things are… well, they could be worse. But I badly needed this. So thanks…" she breaks into a bashful smile herself, "I'll admit, I often like I'm auditioning when I'm making friends with someone. It's a nightmare, really, makes me more anxious than a date. Dates are pretty simple rituals, and it isn't hard to make it go well if you want it to, interested or no…" she glances over at her glass, "Aand I clearly have either drunk too much or not enough. I know what direction I'll push, though…"

"Oh, gosh," Odessa exclaims, "I wasn't trying to insult you!" One hand flutters up to cover her mouth while the other reaches out to drape over one of Bella's. "I didn't mean it like that. I just—" She forces herself to relax when she realises Bella doesn't actually seem to have much convictions to her accusations.

"I feel the same way," Doctor Price says of friendships. "Dates are nightmares for me, too, though. I never know what I'm supposed to do. I mean, I know I'm supposed to be myself, but I'm not sure that's… what someone really wants." She scrunches her face up and lowers her voice, leaning in close. "Traditional dates aren't really my thing. I'm pretty sure I killed someone on my first date. At least, I think it was a date. Maybe it wasn't." She shrugs, like it's the most normal thing in the world that she just admitted to. But she does look something close to sheepish about it. Maybe that's something.

"I think you should drink more. I think we should both drink until prank calling Agent Harper sounds like a fantastic idea." Odessa's eye rolls skyward like she's looking for words in the rafters of the bar, "…I kind of left my phone at home on purpose so that I can't actually do that."

"To be entirely frank," Bella says, giving Odessa a look to match her tone, "I never 'am myself' during a date. I'm not… phoney or anything. But who I am, who anyone is, changes depending on context. This singular identity crap - much as it's psychologically useful as a prop - is just not backed by evidence. At most, we are our pathologies. Personality is a specific madness. Otherwise everyone would see the world exactly the same way. Who we are is how we distort what we experience, pretty much definitionally."

Another sip later, and Bella is leaning on one elbow, propped on the bar. "Who was he? Or she. How did they die?" The request is for information alone. There's no reprove or even sympathy as such in her voice. If Odessa isn't going to be more than bashful, Bella won't be more than interested. They're all monstrous adults here.

Odessa mirrors Bella's pose, propping her elbow on the bar and her head against her hand. She murmurs a thank-you when her drink is left in front of her. "I barely remember anymore. It was just business. It didn't seem important at the time. It doesn't seem that important now. He was nobody." Her shrug is unapologetic.

"Don't get me wrong. I've been on real dates. But I felt like I was playing a part because I was expected to be someone… normal in public." Odessa sips at her drink, a touch of the melancholy to her. "When it was just him and I, that was fine. I felt like I could be honest with him about most things. But I withheld a lot to protect him. There were too many people looking for me to let him have too much information back then." She doesn't catch herself pouting. "I don't think I'll ever get another date."

"When you say that," Bella asks head tilting a little, hair falling at an angle to her head's inline, tips brushing her upper arm, "do you just mean you'll never date again? Or do you think you'll never have another shot at love? Or anything more than, say, one night stands?" Her brows lift very slightly. "You should know ahead of time, though, if you start to get mopey and I don't think you need a good cry, I'm going to abruptly change the topic and make you down your whole drink so… be warned."

"Christ. I won't even get one night stands," Odessa scoffs. She again does that sweeping gesture with her hand to indicate her face - specifically the scars. "Would you sleep with me?" She stops short and corrects herself, "I mean, assuming for a moment that you were into women. I wouldn't. I look like a friggin' pi-"

Odessa's lips twist into a frown. Even she won't utter the P-word. "Fashion sense aside, I don't expect anyone to want to… I look like a freak."

Bella's lips quirk into a smile and the picks up her drink swirling its contents, letting the ice rattle around inside. "I've had a phase or two," she says, with a small shrug, "mostly rebounds, which is sort of a shitty way to treat other women but… sometimes I get sick of men," she wrinkles her nose, "it never sticks, though. I always want men again. And I always want them more. Fucking heteronormative programming." She lifts the glass to her lips, takes a long drink, sets the glass back down.

A hand is raised, a single finger lifted. "First," Bella declares, "don't forget all this," her uncounting hand gesturing at everything that is not Odessa's face, "Second," and with it a second finger, "your patch and your scars makes you look striking, and they don't detract from your delicate features. They actually brings them out. I know some men would be all over that. They'd find it riveting," a third fingers is raised, "And third," her hand drops, moving back to her drink again, "if you suggest you're anything less than stunning the rest of this evening, I will assign you cognitive behavioral therapy which, as you physician, you will be obliged to undergo."

"You would not," Odessa gasps, recoiling at the absolute horror at the threat. Her eye and lips both round. "Ohmigosh you would, wouldn't you?" Horrified, I tell you! "Okay fine. I don't know any men that would find my scars attractive. I did once. But not anymore." The shock fades to a sullen expression that's hidden behind a long, long drink from her glass.

"His name was Wu-Long," she says. "He was the first man I ever kissed. Back then, this was the only scar you could see." She traces her finger over a particularly ugly scar, where she had allowed Kazimir to cut her throat, and Sylar had used one of his acquired abilities to cauterise it. Her eye lids and she smiles. "He wore scars like a badge of honour. It was like the fact that I had endured what I had to earn that scar made me beautiful to him."

Bella listens with an interest tempered by a certain cynicism in her eyes. "That's certainly one way to handle it," she comments. To be honest, this guy sounds a little psycho to her. But she can't exactly judge. At all. "I don't mean someone who fetishizes them. Though I'm sure there are plenty of those around. I mean someone who will see them as another part of your beauty. To whom they are just… part of you. And loving you means loving them necessarily." Bella suddenly grimaces. "And now I sound like a Lifetime movie. I'm sorry, I don't know why I'd whip up such kitsch. But…" she shrugs again, buys herself a moment by finishing her drink, "love is a pathology like any other. One of the ones social unities finds useful. Like loyalty, and faith. And that's not saying that any of these things aren't real, or powerful. Quite the opposite. Nothing is quite like a powerful pathology."

Thoughts of Wu-Long are never truly banished, but they are pushed to the back of her conscious mind for now. "I doubt that I'm an easy woman to love. Accepting everything I've been and done, and the things I may yet do is a burden I wouldn't expect many sane people to be willing to bear," Odessa admits. Though when she does so, it's not said in a manner that comes off as self-deprecating. "I'll be happy if I can find someone who wants to sleep with me again."

Odessa sips at her drink and then pulls a face. "Someone who isn't that crazy rapist asshole Warren Ray," she corrects. "I swear, if I wasn't worried about Harper having my ass for it, I'd do the world a fucking favour and murder that bastard. Have you met him?"

"I'm sure you'd be able to find someone who would want to redeem you," Bella says, though the prospect is not one she sounds enthusiastic about, eyes wandering to the mirror which is set into the wall, meant to make the place feel more spacious, "a white knight type. But you would find his goodness just as troubling as you would be drawn to it, and you would never feel like he truly knew you… what you are, really. And you'd love him but you could never feel truly with him… and you would find more and more ways to test him until you finally did something that would make him think you irredeemable, making him leave you… an outcome you'd feel you knew was inevitable, whether or not you brought it about…"

Her eyes slide back to Odessa, "or he'd die. Or you'd run away." Bella lifts her hand to signal the bartender. "And that is why we need psychology. To help us stop living the same story over and over. Jack and coke, please. Neat." This last to the bartender.

"Warren? That's the latest of the Mortimer Jack personalities, isn't it? I'm really more familiar with his other… what do the MPD, sorry 'DID', believers call them? Alters. Jack and Mortimer. I knew Alex, too. Cold fish, that one."

"Oh God," Odessa groans. "It's like you know my whole life. Well, I haven't done the first scenario yet. But the second two describe the only real relationships I've ever had." She finishes off her drink and frowns. "You're so good, it's scary."

A strand of white is tucked behind her right ear, and her lips purse. "On second thought," she mutters, "I don't want to talk about Ray. The things I would say about Jack aren't fit for public." And now that she's started drinking, Odessa doesn't trust her ability to make their conversation private. "He did this awful thing and it's like nobody even cares. Like- Like just because I'm not the best person, I had it coming." She turns to the bartender and holds her hand up above the bar to indicate a tall glass. "Midori sour. Thanks."

"It's not so difficult. You've told me about the relationships you've had, some of them. I see the way you feel about things that matter to you, or things that once mattered to you. You recreate the process in the space of a few sentences. I'm sure you could decode every relationship I've ever had if you knew more about me," Bella says, before a sly smile pricks her lips, "the advantage I have is that, as your therapist, I get to learn about you without you ever getting to learn about me.

"But, since we're off the clock, if you did have any questions, anything you'd want to know to even the scales," the redhead parts her hands in an open gesture, "ask away. Though I'm happy to maintain my mystique. You may find I'm tremendously boring upon closer inspection."

A tilt of the head, a peer. "I'm not sure I've been informed of whatever you're referring to. I'm not going to push you if you don't want to talk about it… but I would want to hear if you'd like to tell me."

"I had a stretch where I was addicted to morphine," Odessa admits freely, but in a quiet voice. "Ray, or one of his alters at least, found me shortly after I'd shot up and he said he needed to… To save me from myself. So he had his goons grab me, and they drugged me and I… woke up in a bedroom. With Ray."

When her drink arrives, Odessa lifts it to her lips to wash away the bad taste in her mouth. "Are you sure you want to hear about this?" she asks with a faint grimace. "It's not a good story." Not a happy one, at any rate.

Bella's expression is difficult to read. There is a certain cold blankness that sets in as Odessa tells this tale, however brief. When her drink arrives, she draws it towards her with an almost mechanical detachment. Pale blue eyes regard Odessa steadily. Her chin dips in a very slight nod.

"I would like to hear whatever it is you have to tell," she says, with a levelness that points to purposeful control, "I wouldn't like for you to have to feel restricted in any regard when you speak to me, much less on matters like this."

"When I'm drugged up, my ability doesn't work right," Odessa reveals. She suspects Bella already knew as much. "And even when I did manage to get it to work, I couldn't get out because he had the door locked to where you'd need some kind of code to open it. He fancied himself my therapist." Which may explain some of her extra contempt for the profession. "Wanted me to explain why I was getting high, as if it's any of his business."

And since she doesn't elaborate, Odessa doesn't seem to think it's any of Bella's business either. Not at this juncture, at least. "He threatened to start cutting me up, and… I'm not exactly very strong, and without my ability… I wouldn't have been able to fight him off very long. When Ray indicated to me that… That he hadn't gotten any for a while…" She trails off, staring down at the bar, and looking a little ill. "I offered to sleep with him if he'd let me go. It was awful. I had… I had bruises for weeks."

There is maybe a slight flicker behind the mask of cool collection, one that the perceptive could recognize as genuine emotion. It's not that Bella doesn't feel - she's not, herself, a genuine sociopath - it's just that she's almost always in some degree of control over the emotions she expresses. But not always. And this… this is…

"I'll put this in as… plain terms as I can," Bella says, and now the centrality of control to her tone is all the more apparent, "that I find nothing more monstrous and reprehensible in the world than what was done to you," and this from the woman who kidnapped and drugged well over a dozen human beings, "the manner in which you were coerced. There is not pit of hell quite deep or dark enough for the perpetrator of such an act." A pause.

"Do you want something to be done about it?"

Odessa looks relieved when Bella actually expresses contempt. Call her crazy, — well, okay, she is crazy, but just for the sake of arguement — but she had begun to think that she had no right to be upset. That may be it was her fault. That she had done something to deserve it, the way the Mortimer personality had suggested. She finally meets Bella's gaze again, without fear of finding disapproval there.

"Yes. I do." She grags her fingers through her hair and frowns. "I told Ellie about it, but she only cared when she decided Warren was on her nerves. As soon as she decided he was okay in her book again, what happened to me didn't even matter to her." The hurt in that is evident. Odessa feels betrayed by the electrokinetic's indifference. "He lives almost right above me at the Octagon," she adds with a distasteful curl to her lips. "You have no idea how difficult it is for me not to march up there and kill him."

"I can't speak to Elle's thoughts or intentions, but I do think that such neglect and lack of fellow feeling is… difficult to forgive. I don't mean to drive a wedge, or drive it further but…"

The chilliness of Bella's exterior doesn't fade so much as fuse with what's been lurking behind it. Anger, very real, fed by outrage. Odessa can't have known, but she has stumbled across one of the few things that might in fact actually compete with Bella's own sense of direct self interest. Whether or not it counts as redemptive, women - their rights and their freedom from subjugation - are a cause Bella may be willing to go to exceptional lengths for. Which may explain her next question.

"What would the consequences be for killing him?"

Anybody else may have recoiled in horror, or, coming from Bella, taken it as some sort of morbid thought exercise. Odessa is terribly casual about the question, shaking her head with a shrug of her shoulders. "Harper's got him working on something big. Losing Harper's favour," not that she has it, but such as it is, "would be detrimental to my career. And my health, I imagine. The Institute has answers that I want, so…" She frowns, "I'm putting my own feelings aside for the time being, because knowledge is much more important to me than revenge." For now.

"I honestly don't know what the consequences would be. Nothing legal, I'm sure. But I imagine I'd lose a great deal of the faith people have in me to not fuck things up."

"Not revenge," Bella says, finally taking up her drink and lifting it to her lips, sipping the whiskey and cola, the glass bumping up against her lips and causing her lipstick to gleam a bit. A quick roll of her lips, evens out the moisture, so that the whole of her mouth has a certain light-catching enhancement as it forms its next words. "Justice. Simply put. I applaud your willingness to prioritize…" and there is an unspoken 'but' that follows, clear as day even if it never leaves her lips.

"There is probably another way. The fact is that death is just death. A way to solve problems, to cross things off a list… but it's not quite an equal exchange," Bella sets her glass on the edge of the bar and turns it slowly between her fingers, "I feel as if there may be some way to set things to rights without necessarily risking your standing with the Institute. Without ruffling Harpers ridiculous peacock feathers," another lapse, a pause, before, "how difficult would it be to frighten Warren, do you think? To frighten him very badly. To make it clear he cannot abuse power without consequence?"

"I'm not really all that good at intimidation." Odessa narrows her gaze just a faint bit, confused as to how she might manage to do what Bella's suggesting. "I'm not the most imposing figure."

Odessa leans back on her stool and scrutinises Bella for a long moment, judging how serious she may actually be about this. "I take it you have an idea?"

Bella gives a slight shrug, "Nothing specific. I'm not precisely versed in intimidation techniques. Women aren't generally trained to do that, particular not outside a sexual context. Domineering, dominatrix. All that shit, sure," she lift her hand, "not to knock the BDSM community," she amends, "but… well… what he did to you, trap you, make you feel as if you had to give in to his desires to escape. Whatever you felt… fear. We need to give him an experience he'll translate in a similar way. Make him understand that if he fucks with us," and this 'us' is a grand us, the united Feminine 'us', "he will pay. That we can make him pay.

"So…" Bella says, legs uncrossing and recrossing, one hand going to smooth her sun dress, the brightness of its yellow contrasting rather starkly with the matter at hand, "given your ability, unhindered, could we make him helpless? Helpless enough to send a clear message?"

One might expect Odessa to be grinning widely at the notion of giving Warren Ray a taste of his own medicine. Instead, trepidation creates a hard knot in her stomach, causes her to swallow down a lump of misgiving forming in her throat. If we're honest, the idea of confronting Ray again has Odessa terrified. And it shows in spades in the lines of her face. "Sure," she grants with a tilt of her head, trying to hold more confidence in her tone than she internalises.

Her confrontation with Eileen Ruskin left Odessa's confidence shattered. Her ability isn't an Instant Win in her mind anymore. In her head, she plays out a thousand scenarios. A thousand ways in which things could go wrong and she could be left to Ray's mercy devices again. "Yes, I can make him helpless." She hopes.

Bella may not be the most empathic of people, but she is certainly able to read expressions. Caught up though she may be in her own personal feelings about masculine power acting with impunity, she cannot and will not ignore Odessa's discomfort. This is, after all, justice for Odessa first, all women second, and Bella last. Bella is just an inciter, and maybe an architect.

"This is your struggle, and your choice. I am with you, one hundred percent. But I won't force your hand," Bella says, catching Odessa's eyes and holding her gaze as best she can, "that said, you deserve to feel powerful. And he more than deserves to be shown how powerless we can make him." She folds her hands in her lap, back straightening. It's an eery echo of the posture she assumes when about to suggest, with authority, a therapeutic method. "We catch him unawares, you render him helpless, we incapacitate him. He wakes up in our power - we can easily acquire the necessary suppressive and restraints, as are necessary. And we make him understand that there are lines he doesn't want to cross.

"The threat of castration usually gets the message across unambiguously to phallo-centrists."

Bella does manage to draw a chuckle out of Odessa at that suggestion. "You shouldn't tempt me with something like that. I'd be tempted to actually do it." She sets her elbow on the bar and leans her face against her palm, heaving a quiet sigh. "I'll give it some thought. I still worry Harper wouldn't be happy if I pissed off his resident inventor. It's been implied that he's important or something." She rolls her eyes. She won't say the man is too crazy to be important, because that would be saying something about her that isn't particularly flattering.

"Let's talk about something else. The point of this was to have fun." A huff of air blows a strand of white hair away from the woman's scarred face. "I think I sometimes forget how to just let go and be happy." To be fair, Odessa Price has a lot to let go of.

"I'm not joking," Bella says, straight faced, "and I'm not saying you should do it alone. I would want to be there. Strength in numbers. Again, I won't force your hand, but this sort of thing… he'll never tell anyone. He'll never want to admit to it. Consider it very seriously. All it would take is an afternoon, some suppressor, a heavy sedative, duct tape and a bolt cutter."

But on to more cheerful, or at least less morbid topics. Bella glances up towards the door. "I have my own methods," she says, "step outside with me for a moment?" she gets to her feet, tapping the edge of her glass and looking at the bartender, "I'll be back for this, okay?" She offers her hand to Odessa. "Just a quick bit of fresh air."

Odessa does seem to give some serious thought to the idea and even smirks at the mental image of Warren Ray completely helpless and terrified. It'd be a nice switch. Though… One has to wonder if Warren has it in him to experience true terror, like he's inspired in others.

The notion is shaken off and Odessa drapes a napkin over her drink and slides off her chair. "Sure." She sends a quizzical look to the redhead though and asks, "You smoke?"

Yes, Bella does smoke. She steps out of the bar and leads Odessa around the corner, before moving to lean lightly against the wall. She reaches into the front of her sun dress, tugging something free of her bra, a small wad of saran wrap. She unravels the wrap, revealing the slim off-white of a hand rolled cigarette with one end twisted to a point.

The redhead reaches into her other bra cup to extract a red Bic lighter, a trick that… how is that not uncomfortable? Old stoner trick, maybe. She makes a cursory glance from side to side, scanning for onlookers, before bringing the joint to her lips and cupping the lighter in both hands, striking up a flame and starting the jay. She takes a pretty serious toke, then offers the still-lit joint to Odessa. "No pressure," she adds, "but as a psychiatrist, I can attest to the safety and quality of this particular cannabis."

Odessa's brows furrow as she watches Bella procure her smoke. She doesn't refuse the joint when it's offered to her, but she doesn't reach out to take it right away, either. "I've never… I wouldn't have taken you for the type to…" She shrugs somewhat helplessly, uncertain as to how she should articulate the half-formed opinions in her head.

Plucking the rolled stick from Bella's fingers, Odessa brings it to her lips. She's seen people smoke cigarettes before a billion times. She's seen people smoke pot in movies, mostly. She inhales deeply and promptly begins to cough and choke on the smoke, nearly dropping the joint from her lips. She manages to hold it out to Bella again between her thumb and forefinger as she doubles over.

Bella cannot but grin as Odessa tips forward, reaching out to retrieve the joint, and passing it to her other hand, to accompany her lighter. The redhead leans over, her hand going to lightly pat and then rub the ex-blonde's back. "Been a while? Or… never?" Bella inquires, trying to handle being concerned and amused at the same time. "I'm not a drinker. Alcohol is a poison. Weed is a much safer form of self medication. I say this as a doctor," she grins, "and, I guess, an enthusiast."

She reaches out, ashing into grate in the sidewalk. The psychiatrist bends down to Odessa's level. "Sorry, Odessa," she says, sincerely, "I know it hurts like a bitch. But it gets better. I promise." A brief pause. "Does it seem odd to you I used your full name? I mean, does it seem overly formal? Do you have a sort of common nickname? Like I do? No one calls me 'Isabella' unless it's serious business." Or they're a ex-co-worker slash ice monster.

"Never," Odessa chokes out between hacks. Only once she manages to get two deep lungfuls of air does she finally pull herself up to her full height again. "Man, I keep wine coolers next to insulin," she quips. "The liver regenerates. You know… Eventually." Sort of.

To the question, she looks a little confused. Or maybe it's just the fuzzy feeling that's starting to fill her head. The combination of swiftly drank alcohol and marijuana. "I don't really have any nicknames," Odessa admits. "Kurt used to call me Heels." She sticks one foot out to demonstrate the reason for that name. "One of my friends calles me Gale. — That's my middle name." After a fashion. The order is actually reversed on that, and she doesn't quite want to admit that it comes from the name Nightingale at this juncture. "People have shortened it. I'm partial to 'Dessy, myself." A quiet chuckle, "There was a young girl that had difficulty with my name back in Texas. She would call me Dizzy." The smirk that touches her lips is fond at the nickname.

Bella's hand departs from Odessa's back once the other woman straightens, moving back to relight the joint which the night breeze had blown out in the meantime. The redhead a takes another toke, and looks at Odessa but doesn't offer it. She's not going to wave the throat-scorching stick in Odessa's face this soon. Insult to literal injury.

"Wow," Bella says, brows lifting, smoke puffing, draconic, from her nostrils and mouth, "my parents had nicknames for me, but out in the world it's always been 'Bella'. And this one college friend of mine who called me Bells, but was too sweet natured for me to feel okay telling her I hated that." She points at herself. "See. Basic human decency. We possess it. People forget that."

But that's the weed kicking in, forcing a tangent. With force of will, Bella brings things back to the original topic. "I should have asked: what do you want me to call you?"

"Bells," Odessa repeats. "That's just too easy." She leans back against the wall and tips her head back to stare up at the sky. Or what she can see of it between buildings. "You can call me whatever you feel is appropriate," she murmurs. "If shortening my name in a fashion works for you, great. Just so long as it isn't Odie. Damned slobbering cartoon dog."

"Oh, Jesus, the one from Garfield?" Bella says, breaking out into laughter, cupping the hand holding the smoldering joint to her mouth as if she needs to contain her mirth. "I can't believe you even remember his name. I had forgotten that dog even existed," she gives Odessa a sidelong look and a smirk, "well, now I know what I will call you if you ever call me 'Bells'. Mutual assured destruction," she turns to rest just one shoulder on the brick, fully facing Odessa now. She frowns, peering at the other woman with a look of intent thought.

"That's hard. If I make up something unique… at this point it will probably be seen as too intimate. This is only our first work-exterior meeting. But if I pick one other people have used, it could link me to memories of other people I don't know… maybe not all good."

Bella nods, "I'll keep calling you Odessa for now. See if something occurs naturally."

"It's hard to forget the name when it's used to tease you." Odessa pulls a face and rolls her eyes skyward. It must have been a sore point growing up. "And that's fair. If I call you Bells, then I have it coming."

Odessa's gaze lingers on the herbal cigarette between Bella's fingers a moment before she reaches out with an askance glance. May I? "Too intimate," she mutters sardonically, "would be if you slid your hand up my skirt without buying me dinner first." A girlish giggle follows, liquor augmenting humour.

Bella sees Odessa make for the jay. She's impressed, it's clear. She hands the joint over, nodding her approval. "You are a tough bitch," she states, with a warmth of expression that suggests this is a high compliment, "or persistent. If there's a difference." She folds her arms around herself, tapping the end of the lighter in a steady but slow beat against the brick. It takes a moment for the joke to settle in, and then the laughter bubbles up and out of her, causing her cheeks to bulge briefly before the pressure grows too great.

"Fuck… I haven't had fun like this for a while," Bella says, shaking her head. She gives a huff and then levels a 'FML' type look at Odessa. "My only real friend died earlier this year. And she wasn't even really part of all this Shadow Government crap." And despite this… she smiles, "I appreciate this. It may be selfish of me. I know it's unprofessional. But I think both our lives could do with being slightly less shitty, and so far this has been working."

Odessa takes a much more conservative inhale when she brings the jay to her lips this time. She still coughs, but it's quietly and only a brief succession of three. She looks apologetic at the loss of her friend, something she apparently understands. "Sweetie," she murmurs as she passes the smoke back, "you and I have worked for organisations with the least traditional view of professionalism in the history of ever, I think. Best to take solace in each other so we don't go absolutely crazy," she reasons.

Bella pushes herself off the wall, and tugs the saran wrap out of her bra, where she had stored it before. "I'll take what's left, save it for later. We should get back to our drinks before all the ice melts. Plus, they have my credit card." She extends a hand, smile still in place, and more firmly so. "So, what, this is group therapy now?"

Odessa waits for Bella to wrap up their medicine befor she takes the woman's hand with a wide grin. "'Fraid so," she teases. "I can think of worse things, eh?" She tugs the redhead's arm to walk a little closer to her as they head back inside the bar. "To friendship, Bella!"

"Or some reasonable facsimile thereof…" Bella says, with a wry chuckle, falling in step with Odessa, arm in arm.

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