The Only Offer


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Scene Title The Only Offer
Synopsis Simon Broome himself comes to Odessa Knutson Price with an offer of employment, and a request for information.
Date August 19, 2010

The Octagon - Elle's Apartment

The apartments of the Octagon are among some of the most prime pieces of rental real-estate in New York City. Bright, open, and clean, these apartments are all painted an eggshell white and feature floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a sweeping, unobstructed view of the East River and Manhattan skyline. Hardwood floors spread from wall to wall and through the spacious bedrooms and private laundry rooms complete with washer/dryer utilities.

The open-concept kitchen in the apartment features stainless steel appliances, polished granite countertops, cherry finished cabinets and ceramic floor tile with all the convenience of a modern kitchen. The bathrooms are finished with classic subway wall tile and porcelain floor tile in bathrooms with elegantly designed corner-set curved showers wproviding more spacious shower area along with porcelain pedestal sinks.

Each apartment comes in two or three bedroom designs, each with spacious walk-in closets with individually controlled heating and cooling. The apartment is also set up with free Cable TV and Internet hook-ups in multiple locations.

Odessa is bored. She's gone through Elle's mail (not opened it, of course). She's surfed every channel on the television. She's looked through every book on every shelf. She's rifled through the medicine cabinet. She's gone through Elle's closet. She's tried on every pair of heels. She's borrowed a pair of appropriately electric blue pumps to pair with skinny jeans and a black tee shirt with a screen print of a shiny red lipstick kiss. It's not what she's normally choose for herself, but it'll do in a pinch. Her stark white hair's been parted to one side and styled to hang over the left side of her face.

The woman with all the time in the world lays on the couch, staring up at the ceiling and singing absently (and entirely tunelessly) to herself. "I don't want to set the world on fire… I just want to start a flame in your heart…" She can't even remember why she knows the words to that song anymore, just that it comes to her in the quiet times. Gets stuck in her head.

Times like this spent alone are difficult, especially after the trauma that Odessa both suffered from and inflicted on Eileen Ruskin. Out the windows of Elle's apartment, the sun shines down brightly on the city under the mask of a brilliantly hot summer day, save that inside walls of glass and concrete the climate controlled air feels more like a balmy 66 degrees.

While Odessa might be able to sleep, were the song in her head ever to subside, the knock on the door of Elle's apartment is firm enough that it would have woken her up. There's no verbal call into the building, just that knock and a moment of silence that follows in the stillness of the apartment.

Odessa climbs up off the couch, startled by the sudden sound. It takes her a moment to register that it was a knock on the door, and she heads there, peeking first out the pinhole window to the hallway before opening the door just far enough so that she can lean around and let her hair-obscured face be seen, even if she can't see through that eye. Just enough to show that someone is inside. "Elle's not here right now," she says in a quiet voice. "I can tell her you came calling?"

What's visible through that sliver of door is a tall, darkly dressed old man. Large ears flank the sides of his long face, with a prominent nose and thick brows serving as a portrait of what Gabriel Gray might look like in sixty some odd years, were his eyes kinder. "Odessa…" is offered in a grumbling and deep voice as dark eyes peer through the sliver of the door. "I'm not here to see Elle, I'd… like to have a word with you, actually." Sagging lips rise into a faint smile, and the grandfatherly old man waiting out in the hall subtly raises one brow slowly.

"My name is Simon Broome," he introduces, leveling the familiar name with all the implied weight onto Odessa. "I've been waiting for a very long time to get to meet you, and I think I have the answers to some questions you've had lately. Unless… this is a bad time?"

Odessa could argue that there is rarely ever a bad time for her. She has control over it, and can always make time if that's what she wants.

And the door opens. This is what she wants.

"Please, Mister Broome. Come in." Odessa ushers toward the apartment with one thin-fingered hand. "Could I get you anything? I made a fresh pitcher of lemonade this morning…" Apprehensively, she eyes the man's form as he steps inside and she locks up the door behind him.

Self-consciously, she brushes her fingers through her hair in an attempt to make sure it's still obscuring her ruined eye. "I've been expecting you. Sort of. I mean, someone mentioned you'd probably want to speak to me." She just sort of expected to be ushered to some sterile meeting room, surrounded by men with guns or something.

There's a smile from Doctor Broome as he steps in through the doorway, hands folded in front of himself and posture awkward as he walks. "Lemonade would be wonderful, Odessa, I'm curious to see if I like it…" It's a puzzling sentiment that is quickly brushed off as Simon continues. "I apologize for coming by unannounced, but I had to wait until you and I had the proper time alone to discuss certain things. It's not that I don't trust miss Bishop, but there is a degree of… privacy, that I think you might appreciate."

Making his way deeper into the apartment, Broome doesn't seem to gravitate towards any furniture, instead he chooses to loom in the middle of the floor, moving his hands behind his back to fold there, his silhouette a single dark streak in the otherwise lightly furnished apartment. The trim lines of his black suit twist when Broome looks back to regard Odessa.

"I hope Desmond was most accommodating to you?" Brown eyes sweep up and down Odessa as Broome gives her another look, a brief expression of something like sadness, or more infuriatingly pity crossing his face. "I'm sorry we weren't able to do more for you."

Odessa certainly doesn't trust Miss Bishop. Not that she'll tell the other woman to her face or anything. At any rate, she's sure the feeling is mutual. A desire for privacy in meetings such as this is something she can certainly appreciate.

Crossing to the kitchen and opening the fridge, Odessa retrieves a pitcher. "I'm not dead," she reasons as she procures two glasses, and carefully - calculating a moment or two longer than she otherwise might, adjusting where she holds the pitcher slightly - pours for herself and for her visitor. "So I figure I should be grateful. I seem to have a certain penchant for cheating death, one way or another." And mostly due to the generosity of others not simply leaving her to die. "Agent Harper was rather… He was fine. He seems almost friendly." The woman turns back and smile thinly, a twinkle in her good eye. "If I didn't know better, of course."

Odessa crosses to the dining table and sets one glass down at one end before moving to sit at the other. "Please, have a seat." She's wary, though cordial for all appearances. "You've never had lemonade before? I thought I was the sheltered child," she teases, lips turning upward into a somewhat feline smile.

Only when invited to sit does Broome walk towards that table, pulling out a chair and slowly sinking down with the creaking body of an old man. "I've had lemonade before," he chooses to answer among all the possible conversational avenues, "but I've come to notice that new tongues mean new rules." Once more with obfuscations of his topics, and at that odd note, Broome offers up a smile to Odessa, hands folded on the tabletop as he considers the glass nearby and a bead of condensation running down its surface.

"I'll be blunt, Odessa, I want you to join the Institute, because I think you have a very invaluable gift, and that it would be a shame for something as unique as your ability to simply… disappear or be lost to the ravages of time. I offer you in return, something that you have always sought in your time with the Company." Broome's brows furrow, eyes narrow and an earnest look hangs on his face. "Professional respect."

Odessa's gaze locks on Simon Broome's eyes, examining the hue before she allows herself to slip and watch his lips move as they form words, then watches his body language. New tongue, new rules?

The former Company doctor leans forward, gaze slightly narrowed, but alight with a keen interest. "Now that's new. I generally hear 'do this, or I'll kill you,' or 'do this, because you owe us,' or my personal favourite, 'what the hell else are you going to do with yourself?' Professional respect…" Odessa grins widely. It's not as pretty on her face as it used to be, scars dimpling awkwardly. "That is definitely new." Though to be fair, there was a threat in there. Veiled, but there.

"I have a very invaluable gift, Mister Broome. I am a fan-fucking-tastic asset to those I choose to lend my allegiance to." If she thinks it's perhaps impolite or against decorum to colour her language so, Odessa doesn't seem to care. "Humour me. How well do you think you know me? Who I am. What I'm about." What I want goes unspoken.

"I don't know you at all," Simon notes with both brows rising in amusement, "Desmond doesn't either, though he feels that we could get to learn about you. I'm not sure how much, if anything, you've heard about me or the Institute, Odessa, but I'm a firm believer that reputation doesn't always match reality. I'd prefer if you and I started off on a clean slate, tabula rasa." There's a sweeping motion of one of Broome's weathered hands at that, flowing into his reaching for the glass of lemonade and lifting it up to his lips.

A moment after the sip, Broome arches one brow in silent bewilderment, then sets the glass down and pushes it away from himself. "I'd like ot start you off as a ground-level investigative agent for the Institute, and you can earn trust from us, but begin with respect. The only reason I came out here, Odessa, is because I wanted you to know that this wasn't some middle-management decision to bring you in. This was a personal choice on my part based on the uniqueness of your ability and your predicament with the Company."

Reaching inside of his suit jacket, Broome withdraws a folded piece of glossy paper. "Also… I wanted to ask you something." But the paper stays in his hand, then only comes down to tap on the table, isn't offered out.

"You give me the best offer on the table," Odessa states simply, "and you keep the best offer on the table, and I'm yours." She leans back in her chair again and brings her lemonade up to sip. "If you trust anything about me, trust that. You make it worth my while, and we're golden." She isn't sure when she became quite so mercenary, to be honest, but she does sort of look the part these days.

"I admittedly don't know much about the Institute. I know you keep people in drug-induced comas, lock them away in coffins. I know you probably will do the same to me if I don't take your offer." Hence disappearing. "I believe you mean to absorb and dissolve the Company. I only have a problem with one of those assumptions." Odessa's eyes hood briefly as she flits a glance to the glossy sheet in Broome's hand. She has a sudden and intense desire to wave her hand and cross to the other side of the table to simply take it from him while he's unaware.

"What was your question?"

"I don't need to make it your best offer, Odessa. As far as I'm aware it's your only offer." Forsaking the question for now, Simon folds his hand over the glossy piece of paper. "You're free to walk away and not accept it, and go about living your life as you will. I'm sure there's other people out there who see value in you, but I won't be so brazen as to think that I or the Institute could keep you anywhere you didn't want to be."

On the topic of the coffins, Broome's eyes divert to the glass of lemonade in momentary silence. "You would be performing operations similar to a Company field agent, both by yourself and with others as cases needed. You'd be under the direct supervision of Desmond, as will Elle be, and others. It's as simple as you being interested in this job and the life you see Elle living now, and… not. There's no sales pitch. It's your choice to make."

"You want me… in the field?" Odessa grins again. "Now that is interesting." Again, her clear eye settles on that paper. "One of us, one of them? I honestly expected you to offer me a lab. Working on the next big formula or virus." She lets out a quiet huff of laughter and shakes her head. "I'm certainly not opposed to the idea. But answer me this…"

Odessa's grin stays in place, perhaps widening a touch. "Why do you have those people locked up in boxes like that? Avoiding the risk of repeating the same mistakes the Company has made by simply jailing their prisoners? I'm just curious."

"The Institute is no longer interested in pursuing Project Icarus or any of its failed incarnations. Unfortunately, a world where the Formula is available to any and all of mankind does not seem to be an inevitability, which leaves us with pursuing other avenues." Leaning back in his chair, Broome folds his hands and creases his brows, letting his head sink forward slowly. "We don't do anything as binding as the Company's old partnership policy, we handle our affairs like a legitimate government agency, multiple individuals working together towards a common goal."

Wringing his hands together, Broome finally looks up to Odessa again. "Why did Noah bring animals onto his ark?" One thick brow rises slowly as Odessa posits that question. "Whether the next Flood is the creation of man or God, there will be no averting it. The continuity of the Evolved is an important thing, Odessa. I'll leave you to fill in the blanks yourself… I can't discuss that much further. My superior would not be very impressed on his return if I let loose all of our secrets, after all."

There's a fond smile at that from Broome, and his hands unfold, an expectant look leveled on Odessa. "Are you interested in pursuing a career with us?"

Noah. For a moment, the woman's brow furrows in confusion before it clicks. The Bible. The grandest fairytale of them all. Mention of Broome having someone yet above him causes her lips to purse slightly, in consideration of that tidbit. "You have my attention," is Odessa's response. Perhaps it's not truly an affirmative, but she certainly isn't saying no. "Was that your question? If not, please ask it. If it was, then I have plenty for you."

Quietly pushing a photograph over to Odessa, Broome furrows his brows and slants his head to the side. "I know you spent a great deal of time inside of a considerable number of Company facilities in your years working for them, Odessa. I was wondering if you've seen that anywhere before… where it might have been, and how long ago?"

Arching one thick brow, Broome moves his hand away from the folded photograph, which looks old and worn, folded over dog-eared on one corner, creased in the middle; it's seen its fair share of abuse. "It would be a great service to us if you had."

Odessa stares at the photograph, expression passive. She doesn't show any recognition, but she doesn't deny it, either. "Do you know whose it-" Now something very similar to recognition dawns upon her. Perhaps one could go so far as to call it an epiphany. "I know where it was. How long has the Company had it?"

She's looking down at the photograph, and then up at Broome with wide, astonished eyes. A breath is sucked past parted lips. "I saw it two years ago. I compromised its location." Down to the photograph. Back to Broome.

"I wasn't ever sure the Company had it, but that object is very important to the Institute, and myself." Leaning forward, Broome's dark brows furrow and brown eyes square on Odessa. "Your lead would be considerably more significant than our own search for it. Could you tell me where you saw it? I'll take the positive identification of its last known location as… something of a seal to our deal."

There's no end to the look of enticement in Broome's eyes. Why he has that in a photograph or where he got it is unknown, but that he holds its contents with such high regard likely does answer one of Odessa's questions: He knows who it belongs to, but he's not saying.

Odessa says something under her breath, barely even reaching Broome's ears. Had her lips not moved, he may have wondered if she'd said anything at all. She takes in the image with one last lingering gaze before folding it again and sliding it back across the table. "I'll tell you, but I want to be involved in its retrieval. And I want to know to whom it belonged." Her lips are pursed, expression fierce, as though this isn't up for negotiation.

"It belonged to our leader," Broome states flatly in answer, chin tilted up and brows furrowed, "and it's very important that we get it back before something happens to it." As far as Odessa knows, the object on that photograph has been sitting around for decades. Not quite collecting dust, but certainly not in anyone's possession. "If you want to go along for the retreival, we may be able to arrange for that, but it's an extremely sensitive mission."

Looking down to the table, then back up to Odessa, Broome reaches out to take the photograph and tuck it into the breast pocket of his jacket again. "Now, where can we find it?"

"It's kept in the place of my birth," Odessa offers perhaps somewhat cryptically. But such a statement is truly only cryptic if one has no knowledge of where Odessa got her name. "It was a delicate mission then, too. It's kind'a how I got that shoot on sight order put out on me. In my defense, the Haitian had it coming."

Unrepentant to the last. It's a character flaw. Only one of many.

Stealing something from the Company brings a smirk to Odessa's lips. She may defend their practices compared to coma coffins, but that doesn't mean she minds getting back at them for all the lies they told her. "The Institute must be a much older organisation than I imagined. Tell me, how long has your leader been missing that?" She tips her head to indicate the photo Broome just put into his pocket.

Pushing his chair out from the table, Broome offers one more fleeting look down to the glass of lemonade, then furrows his brows in thought. "That's a very good question," Broome asks aloud, looking up to Odessa with one brow very slowly raised, "to be honest I'm not exactly certain, but when he gets it back… well, I think he'll have you to thank."

Turning away from the table, Simon tucks his hands into the pockets of his slacks, starting to walk for the door. "You'll begin active duty the week of September 7th, you will have an office of your own at our New York facility, details of which will be provided to you by Agent Harper at the end of the month. Until then," Broome pauses his departure, letting his head lower, then turns to look back at Odessa. "Until then, make the most of your new life. You may not get another chance to start over again."

Odessa swallows uneasily, rising from her seat to quickly move to the door so she can be the one to unlock it and turn the handle for the man. Her new employer.

Things just don't work that way.

"I should hope he'll thank me by allowing me to meet him," Odessa murmurs, pulling the door open. "I would be curious to see what manner of man he is." Intensely curious.

"Thank you for the opportunity, Mister Broome." She'd say she won't let him down, but… She kind of has a habit of letting people down. It's so not her fault. "It's been a pleasure meeting you, I must admit. Please don't hesitate to call when you require my expertise." Odessa smiles brilliantly, offering her hand. "I look forward to speaking with you again. You are fascinating."

There's a knowing smile that crosses Broome's face as he stands there in the doorway, then rests a weathered old hand on the white-haired woman's shoulder instead of taking her hand, then lifts his palm to cup the left side of her face. "I know he'll want to see you the minute he's able," Broome offers in a hushed but gravely tone of voice, "I'm sure he'll have a lot to tell all of us." That hand comes away, and Broome walks through the threshold of the apartment, lifting one hand up to wave over his shoulder to Odessa.

"Get your rest while you can, Odessa," Broome warns in a gentle, grandfatherly tone, "because we have a great work to do, and not nearly enough time to do it in before the end comes." It is with those ominous portents of the future that Simon Broome casually walks down the hall, black shoes shuffling on tile, hands tucking into the pockets of his slacks. There is no fanfare, no disappearance in a wisp of smoke or a whorl of shadow. For all his perceived importance, he arrived alone, and left alone.

But never does he leave someone without food for thought.

And more questions than they had before.

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