Strangers on a Train


nick_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif

Scene Title Strangers on a Train
Synopsis So, they aren't strangers, but they may as well be for all the secrets once held between them.
Date July 18, 2011

Train Depot

The doors open to the train that will carry its passengers most of the length across Long Island and back toward Manhattan; the air conditioned interior of the car is a godsend from the humid and hot air of the open-air platform outside. Passengers jostle one another, those crowding on not seeming to care that it would be easier, perhaps, if they'd let those exiting the train off first.

Most wear shorts and flip flops unless they are business people, in which case they are dressed as lightly and as coolly as they can get away with. Despite the heat, one young man is dressed in a black t-shirt and dark jeans, black boots on his feet; shaggy black hair that's damp with sweat falls into his eyes, covered by sunglasses. He's lean, pale but for a flush on his cheeks from the 93-degree day, and he looks just a little unsteady as he climbs up the steps, moving to the nearest seat and sinking it to it immediately. His head tips to rest on the window, and an elderly woman in the seat ahead glances at him, then moves across the aisle.

What luck, the old bag just gave up her seat. Some people have no idea the lengths some people will go to for the sake of keeping up appearances. Carefully manoeuvring between bodies packed onto the train, a young woman flops down into the now-vacated seat and sighs inaudibly with relief. She crosses one leg over the other in her rockabilly-inspired cerulean dress, rotating her ankle slowly. On her feet are a pair of cherry red, four-inch platform heels dotted with silver stars that gleam like foil.

Vanity, thy name is Odessa Price.

The black patch over her eye has stars similar to the ones that adorn her shoes. Her white hair's been swept up on top of her head in a long ponytail in an attempt to beat the heat. Even her fringe of bangs have been pinned back to keep from getting matted to her forehead. She glances across to the next seat finally after the train lurches forward, intent on giving a polite and brief smile. But instead her lips form two words:

"Oh shit."

His eyes behind sunglasses closed, he doesn't notice the mouthed swear, and instead tugs his sunglasses off to rub his eyes. Turning toward the window, they open, revealing the now half-red sclera as well as the pale blue irises that probably clinch his identity in his fellow passenger's mind. He watches the platform pulling away; it's a long stretch before the next stop, unlike on the subway lines.

Only then does Nick notice in the corner of his eye the white hair of the woman in front of him that wasn't there a moment ago, and his head turns to look directly at Odessa. Eyes widen, then narrow.

"Small world," he mutters. What he's thinking is that he's going to quit riding on trains.

Odessa's having similar thoughts. Damned public transport. But she also feels a pang of guilt that shouldn't belong to her in the pit of her stomach when she sees the red tint to her former lover's eyes. Information starts to piece itself together, bits and pieces strung together once gaps are filled in. Her chin lifts a little when she draws a dotted line between Nick York and Delia Ryans' beloved Nick, plagued by the Red Death.

"Recovering?" is all Odessa can think to say. It's a stupid question, but it's better than yeah, or fuck you. Maybe.

He swallows; his memories of the time ill are hazy and spotty, but he remembers her being there. Of course he knows she wasn't there, now, with the logic and consciousness of a fever-free mind. There is a twitch in his jaw, and he glances out the window, then back to her again, before crooking a half smile that has no humor in it.

"Just a bad hangover, sweetheart," he says coolly, American accent a little rusty from disuse, but trying to cover up the elongated East-end vowels. "Nothin' you need to worry about, though."

"I'm sorry, Nick." Slowly, that snowy head shakes, remorse visible in her remaining eye. "There was so much I didn't know…" Presented with an opportunity to apologise, one where Nick isn't terribly likely to pull a gun on her, or opt for choking her out, or something equally… (probably) deserved, Odessa feels she can't pass it up.

"You did right by me, at a time when other people hadn't. And then you did right by… By her." Eileen. The whole situation is uncomfortable. Odessa finally looks away, staring blankly down the aisle as if through the people packed in like sardines. "I forgive you."

Fingers twitch on the seat beside him, before he brings his hand up to press against his forehead, as if he had a headache, then the familiar raking motion through his hair, much longer than it had been he last she saw him. He huffs out a short humorless laugh, and shakes his head. "You forgive me," he echoes, the accent bleeding in a bit more. "That's bloody rich, Odessa. You can keep your apology, and if you're fishin' for one of your own, don't hold your breath. Like you said, I could have done worse to you, and I didn't."

Across the aisle, their conversation is watched by the elderly woman and a young man. The conflict between Nick and Odessa's seats practically palpable. Nick's eyes move to the LED-display showing where on the map they are — still quite a few miles from the first stop.

"Obviously." Odessa sits up a little straighter, her muscles coiling tense. "I'm not expecting an apology from you. I don't deserve one. Would you just accept that I'm sorry? That's all this is." Her gaze slides back to him, sharper than it was the last time she could summon her courage to look at him. It's a staring contest now, in her mind. She doesn't want to be the one to flinch away.

Nick leans forward, one arm leaning on the seat and then the other folding on top of it, so that he can speak quietly. "So you forgive me but you're sorry," he reiterates, for those just coming in from the commercial break.

"What is it you're apologizing to me for, exactly? Just so we're clear, I don't think you did me any wrong, not personally. I'm not egocentric enough to be pissy and take it personal that you tried to kill my sister before you knew me; I wasn't even in the country when it happened, so that'd be pretty cocky of me, yeah?" he asks, voice low enough that only she can hear it over the roar of the train and the hum of the air conditioning.

In return, Odessa too leans forward, setting her feet flat on the train floor and resting her forearms over her knees, crossing her wrists. Deceptively casual. But her brows hike up, and a new light shows in that single dark blue eye. "Your sister. Now that explains a few things." The urge to smirk is quelled internally.

Something about the way he won't just take an apology when it's given to her brings out the bitch in Odessa. Her own voice is kept low as she responds in turn, "She's your blood, Nick. You're in your rights to be protective of her. If I had any family of my own, I'd have reacted more fiercely than you. I'm sorry for what I did to her. You deserve to know that."

One brow ticks up at her first comment, then Nick gives a single nod to the rest of her words. "Good. Then you're sorry about the right thing — what you did to her, not what you did to me, because like I said, I ain't arrogant enough to make it about me."

He leans back, brow furrowing as he looks at her, eyes moving to her eyepatch, then back to focus on the eye that he can make contact with. "Why?" is a simple but obvious question.

"I was wrong," is a simple but obvious answer. Odessa doesn't recline in her seat. She instead stays in her forward lean to keep her voice down still. "What came between us was never about us. I've never thought otherwise." A quiet sigh escapes her lips and her expression softens some again. That she finds it difficult to stay steely in the face of Nick York Ruskin is something she'll beat herself up for later. "I was jealous of her. And I was convinced - by someone who had done a great deal for me - that she was going to get a lot of good people killed. People that didn't have to die. If I knew what was coming…

"I couldn't possibly have known what would happen. But perhaps foresight is one of her boyfriend's many talents. Maybe she knew something the rest of us couldn't." Which is such a horribly vague way of saying that Eileen, and the Remnant were right to begin raising their army to protect the Ferry. It was an inevitablility Odessa had been blind to. She called it hope, but others rightfully called it ignorance. "I can't fix it, as much as I wish I could. I can only acknowledge that I was so wrong, and learn from my mistakes."

The self-loathing Nick usually has for himself is missing; the dampened memories keep him from being aware of his worst mistakes, his most horrible sins. But even without those, there are plenty of things he's done wrong that he can't help but look away for a moment.

It's not his job to cast stones. He's taken lives of men who thought they were in the right, and he was in the wrong, after all. Nick nods, and reaches down to pick up his sunglasses, worrying one of the "arms" back and forth. "'S not me who can accept that apology, but I accept that you mean it," he finally says, then adds, "Just so you know, I didn't know it was you when we started. I don't play like that."

"I know," Odessa responds quietly. For a moment, she thinks about reaching out to him. But she doesn't deserve that. Him. Anything? "I'm sorry you had to find out the way you did. Like I said, you did right by me. You were the first person to really show me any kindness in a long time, at a time where I was sure I didn't deserve it. I probably still don't." That's when she leans back again, voice trailing off as she looks out the window.

Then she adds, barely audible over the movements of the train, "Thank you."

He leans back as well, brow furrowing again as he follows her gaze to the blur of cityscape outside the window, his own face reflected back and at an angle. "Likewise," he finally manages to say. Whether it's meant to echo the apology or the thanks is probably unclear.

The recorded voice announces the first destination along the route, and Nick looks up at the speaker as if it were a live person. His red-white-and-blue eyes return to Odessa's face as he stands; he winces slightly with the effort, before putting his glasses back on his face and giving her a nod.

"Stay safe, then, Gale," Nick murmurs, returning to the name he knew her by.

"You too, Nicky." When he's off the train, and it's speeding along the track again, Odessa finally indulges in a little moment of sorrow. She buries her face into her hands and tips forward until her knuckles are on her knees. She needs a drink. A few of them. And in a few stops, that's exactly what she'll do.

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