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Scene Title Stalemate
Synopsis It seems Odessa just can't catch a break. New York seems to be bent on reminding her why she left. Peter shows some remorse, and tries to even the score somewhat.
Date September 17, 2009

Ruins of Midtown

There's life enough around the fringes — the stubborn, who refused to rebuild somewhere else; the hopeful, who believe the radiation is gone, or that they somehow won't be affected. Businesses, apartment complexes, taxis and bicycles and subways going to and fro — life goes on. Perhaps more quietly than in other parts of the city, shadowed by the reminder that even a city can die, but it does go on.

Then there is the waste. The empty core for which the living city is only a distant memory. Though a few major thoroughfares wind through the ruins, arteries linking the surviving halves, and the forms of some truly desperate souls can occasionally be glimpsed skulking in the shadows, the loudest noise here is of the wind whistling through the mangled remnants of buildings. Twisted cords of rebar reach out from shattered concrete; piles of masonry and warped metal huddle on the ground, broken and forlorn. Short stretches of road peek out from under rubble and dust only to disappear again shortly afterwards, dotted with the mangled and contorted forms of rusting cars, their windows long since shattered into glittering dust.

There are no bodies — not even pieces, not anymore. Just the bits and pieces of destroyed lives: ragged streamers fluttering from the handlebar which juts out of a pile of debris; a flowerbox turned on its side, coated by brick dust, dry sticks still clinging to the packed dirt inside; a lawn chair, its aluminum frame twisted but still recognizable, leaning against a flight of stairs climbing to nowhere.

At the center of this broken wasteland lies nothing at all. A hollow scooped out of the earth, just over half a mile across, coated in a thick layer of dust and ash. Nothing lives here. Not a bird; not a plant. Nothing stands here. Not one concrete block atop another. There is only a scar in the earth, cauterized by atomic fire. This is Death's ground.

Underground, morning never comes.

The sputtering flicker of fluorescent lights creates a stacatto beat of lengthy shadows and desaturation that drains the color of mold and dampness from spraypainted concrete. Old and faded flyers and scraps of newspaper get caught on downdrafts coming from the crooked and sundered steps that ascend up to the pale glow of streetlights, or maybe it's the sun, it's hard to tell. In the intermittant darkness, it's hard to tell what the sign hanging above the subway platform entrance used to say, what line this once was, where it used to go.

Hard-soled shoes click on the steps, an even and measured pace of someone taking their time, gloved hands tucked into the pockets of dark slacks. With his shoulders slocued in a relaxed state, Peter Petrelli almost looks like he feels comfortable down here. Truth is, he doesn't feel much of anything these days. His blue eyes scan the broken concrete and exposed wiring conduits with lazy familiarity, a cursory flick to the shadows of subway tunnels, looking for the errant Ferrymen scurrying out like a cockroach. None to be found, not today at least.

His stride is given pause, blue eyes settled down on a discarded cigarette butt that's in his path. His eyes drift over to one of the green-painted benches, then back down to the stub of a cigarette; it reminds him of Eileen. Brows furrow, eyes narrow, and Peter begins walking again, rounding the bench and making his way towards the subway tunnel, not the stairs on the opposite side of the platform that ascend to street level.

He's not as welcome up there; and down here the shadows are far more welcoming.

Did somebody get the plates of the semi that hit her?

Blue eyes flutter open and Odessa stares blearily at the ceiling of the bombed out apartment she'd been squatting in. "What happened?" she groans to herself as she rolls over. Is that an apple peeling? "Shit." That wasn't a nightmare, then. With a shaky breath, the woman pulls herself to her feet and to the disarray of what was a bedroom. It's at least a decent place to store clothes, even if it's not a decent place to sleep. A white dress is exchanged for one of mint green, and accessorised with eggplant-coloured heels. She studies her reflection in a broken mirror and frowns.

She looks awful. She's too thin, her face is gaunt, her eyes puffy and red. She could use a proper shower to really wash up her hair. "Okay, Odessa," she tells her image, "this is it. The last day. One last hurrah. Then you throw it all away and you start over." An admirable sentiment. A lofty goal.

How many times has she made this promise to herself?

"Today," she says, "I mean it." A doctor's satchel is retrieved from the corner of a debris-ridden closet. From within, she procures a vial of morphine, a syringe and a tube of rubber, all of which she transfers to a silver sequined (stolen) Coach purse before heading out to the street. The sun causes her to squint painfully. Could it be too early for coffee? It feels too early for coffee. Underground, away from the sun, she retreats.

She trips on the last step, stumbling forward a few paces when she reaches the landing, but managing to keep her balance thanks to a firm grip on the railing, though she drops her purse in the process. She stoops down to pick it up with a mutter. That's when her eyes track upward to a discarded cigarette. The green bench.

A pair of shoes.

Odessa Knutson's jaw drops. Not only is she not alone, she knows who else is down there. "You have got to be fucking kidding me," she utters aloud as she rises to her feet again. After the day she had yesterday? "Really? Oh my gosh, are you serious?"

"This is it," the woman announces with astonished incredulity. "This is irrefutable proof," she rants:

"That there is no God."

"Friedrich Nietzsche would agree with you," the voice is distinctly Peter Petrelli's, but spoken softer and with a more amused lilt to it, "personally I've been inclined to think otherwise as of late." Hands still tucked into his pockets, Peter stands still at the fore of that crushed cigarette. A cool breeze blows down through one of the stairwells and sends a newspaper page sliding across the concrete, and in the flicker of the fluorescent lights, Odessa can see those incongruent eyes — blue where should be brown — and something about them seems unfortunately familiar.

"Odessa Knutson," the name is given emphasis and a tilt of his head, but no steps forward, "it's been a long time." Mannerisms are wrong, everything is wrong. It doesn't match with either of the Peter's she knew, neither the Company Agent, nor the self-serving PARIAH terrorist. Nothing seems to make sense, especially not the blue of his eyes and the warm, content smile that hangs crookedly on his lips. "You look better as a brunette." He has that opinion a lot lately.

"No, Nietzsche says God is dead. That's different," Odessa rebuttals with disdain. "Since when did you have a brain for philosophy, Petrelli? I thought you didn't have room for knowledge with all the marbles rattling around. Or did you lose a few of them to make space?" The smug look flickers when she catches a good look at those eyes. That's… not right. Please, not another dichotomy.

There's a smile, slight in its size as Peter changes his projected course and starts walking again, coming to sit down on the bench and fold his hands in his lap, crossing one leg over the other. "Hair color isn't the only thing that can change people," Peter notes with a raise of one brow, "and if I recall correctly I think I did go to college. Just because you don't use your brain doesn't mean it's not there." Then, with thoughtful consideration to her earlier statement, he leans away from Odessa and regards her with a skew of his head to one side.

"You're right, dead is considerably different from gone." Peter's smile grows slightly, "in fact, there's a great deal of evidence to the contrary these days."

A girl can't even get stoned in peace anymore without running into ghosts. And she isn't even sure which ghost it is she's facing down right now. "You aren't Peter Petrelli." But Odessa knows this man, and he knows her. "…Oh no." Darker blue eyes grow wide and her breath hitches in her throat. "Nobody talks the way you do. Pacing, emphasis… How?" She shakes her head slowly. "Was he the only mind weak enough for you to get your greedy incorporeal hands on?"

"Wrong again," Peter notes with a tilt of his head. "Like God," he jokes, "dead but not gone." There's a motion of a nod to the space beside him on the bench, a silent invitation for her to come and sit at his side. "Still Peter, at least— right now. Check back in a few months, see how much of me is left, or how much of the overlap there is…"

Looking away from Odessa, Peter's eyes settle on a faded map of the subway system on the far wall, visible better when the fluorescent lights opt to stay on for more than just a moment. "The how isn't really important now, or even the why really. Worry about the things you can handle, and don't fret so much about the things you can't change." Finally, after another moment, "Sit."

There's a brief moment, where if he'd been looking at her, he'd have seen Odessa smile. In less than the time to takes to blink, Odessa has one hand braced against the man's shoulder and the other holds a scalpel to his neck. "You were supposed to give me a reason. You were supposed to give me freedom. My own life." Whether she's talking to Peter, or the blue-eyed man, it's hard to say. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't leave you here to bleed out, for the Ferrymen to find." A bead of blood stains the blade of her surgical knife where it parts skin.

Blessedly spared the withering of her hand by the fabric of a black suit at the shoulder, Peter leans back just a touch as the knife presses into his skin. He swallows, adam's apple bobbing up and down as his blue eyes divert down in the direction of the scalpel, then back up yo Odessa's eyes. "I can't," he admits with a furrow of his brows, "you have plenty of reasons to do that, but outside of a childish fit of rage it won't get you anything." Blue eyes narrow, "Dead, but never gone. You do remember what happened in Texas, don't you?"

One gloved hand slowly moves up, fingers curling around Odessa's hand, not moving the scalpel, and only giving a faint prickling tingle to her skin from proximity. "But there's no telling what this ability would do to you if it felt threatened." It. Peter's speaking about his ability as if it has a mind of its own, a will of its own. "I couldn't give you purpose even if I handed it out to you. You don't want purpose," his brows furrow, creasing the scar on his face, "you want excuses."

With a growl, Odessa presses the blade further against him. Childish fit of rage though it may be, it is incredibly satisfying to make this prick bleed. "It was you who didn't want purpose. You only wanted madness."

"Again," Peter's blue eyes narrow, and his gloved hand squeezes hers harder, "wrong person." A thin line of red bubbles out on the edge of the scalpel and then begins trickling down the side of his neck from the flesh wound. His neck muscles tense, one eye squints, and when her knuckle presses up against the throb of his pulse, it's not so much the warmth of his skin she feels, but the searing pain of heat as if her knuckle was pressed down on a hot stovetop. Skin begins immediately withering away from that knuckle, pain hot in the bone, flesh turning gray and wrinkled, cracked from dryness at the point.

The scalpel clatters to the ground as Odessa shrieks, tumbling backwards and scooting across the cold concrete as quickly as she can to get away, clutching at her hand. "Wrong person my ass. Peter Petrelli doesn't do that!" The arm is held tightly to her chest, eyes blazing with anger as harsh as the burning she feels clear to her bones.

Slowly rising to his feet from the bench after Odessa tumbles away, Peter takes a few steps forward, one foot coming to rest on the scalpel in purely theatric rationale. "Didn't," he notes with a tilt of his head, "that was then, this is now. The world doesn't stand still forever, no matter how hard you squint your eyes shut and want it to be so. I've changed, Gabriel's changed, the world's changed." Then, watching her with those blue eyes, then hood slightly and his head turns to the side.

"I was supposed to save you," he laments, "from Moab." Dark brows crease together in a furrow, "Then nothing. I'm surprised…" he admits when his focus comes back to her, "to see you alive, and— relatively well." Incongruently, a gloved hand comes out, offered to her where she is curled up on the concrete like a wounded animal. In the flicker of light, she can see the cut on his neck gone. "I think we're even now."

"Not nearly," Odessa mutters under her breath. All the same, she takes his hand with her good one. She can't best him today. If there's anything left in him that's Peter Petrelli, as he seems so insistent then she has to hope he can hold onto that. "You've got that look in your eye like you want something from me." It draws a dubious look in return. "What is it?"

"Nothing," he notes with a nod of his head, letting her hand go, "yet." Reaching inside of his jacket, Peter withdraws a gaudy red plastic keychain with a pair of dangling keys attached to it. His fingers work the loop around, sliding one of the keys off before offering it out to Odessa, pinched between two gloved fingers. "Go to Brooklyn, there's a casino in the Red Hook neighborhood called the speakeasy. Room 101." The key is nudged out towards her again. "You look like you could use a real bed to sleep in. Eileen lives two floors up, she doesn't know I stay there yet. Gabriel comes by from time to time…"

There's a furrow of his brows, and Peter offers her a hesitant, though lopsided, smile. "You can avoid them easily, if you want. Or, you can try to reconnect. It's up to you." What Peter is unaware of, is how Eileen already reconnected a little.

At first, Odessa plans to entirely refuse the offered key… But he happened to speak the magic word. She tucks the key tightly in her palm. "You're really still Peter in there?" she asks. "You know you have to get rid of him. Kazimir Volken's a crazy bastard who wants to kill us all. He's probably not the best person to be sharing thoughts with." She squints at the older man. "Do you even know how close I came to killing the world?"

Silence is the answer to Odessa's question, just silence and the slow fade of his smile. There's a slight tense of his brows, and a nod of his head after a few protracted moments of that quiet. Then, he just turns and starts to walk towards the subway tunnel, hands tucking back into the pockets of his slacks, shoes scuffing on the concrete floor. When he reaches the edge of the platform, he pauses, looking down at the metal rails and gravel below. His shoulders slack some, and he turns to look back over his shoulder to Odessa with a reluctant smile.

"People change," he says quietly, voice echoing through the empty tunnels, "or they die trying."

"Good luck," Odessa whispers to his back before stooping to retriever her scalpel. She stares down at her damaged hand. "Fuck," she mutters under her breath, "I think I actually need a doctor." The knife is tucked back into her purse again and for a long moment, Odessa stares at the morphine she intended to use. She doesn't reach for it, but she doesn't throw it away, either.

For now, a stalemate will have to be enough. It's a fine echo for the times.

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