The Show Never Ends


ace_icon.gif odessa2_icon.gif

Scene Title The Show Never Ends
Synopsis A second chance encounter.
Date February 10, 2020


Traversing New York City without access to a vehicle is a drag, to say the very least, but Odessa Price won’t risk showing up on a cabbie’s dashboard camera or the CCTV of one of the public bus lines.

Even when the sky opens up and starts to pour rain down over her.

With a sharp gasp, Odessa goes running down the sidewalk, her hands held over her head in a futile attempt to shield her hair and face. By the time she makes it the two blocks to the bus shelter, her coat is damp and she is shivering. Reaching into her pocket, she procures a cigarette case and a lighter. The former is slid between her pale lips, the latter is flick-flick-flick’d to little success. All spark and no joy.


A vehicle rolling past is heard more than seen (or, thankfully, felt) continuing down the block before rolling to a stop, well-tuned brakes hardly squeaking even despite the touch-and-go winter. The driver-side passenger door opens, and first out comes an umbrella, opening to shield the person who exits.

The cheap lighter curled in Odessa's hand rips repeatedly without giving way to flame.

Down the block, a suited man steps out from the sleek black sedan, fastening buttoned the top of his jacket with one hand. "Thanks again for the lift. I'll make a call for a tow as soon as I get in. No— this is no trouble at all. They're doing construction on my street, easier to go on foot. Right. Thanks."

After closing the door, the man lifts his hand in farewell to the driver, watching him go before turning and making his way back down the block with a sigh. Wingtips plod in the cool rain, a wool overcoat worn over the suit to keep the elements mostly off of it.

Handle of the umbrella balanced against his shoulder, free hand in his pocket, the man continues in Odessa's direction by nature of heading for the corner by the bus stop. The tilt of the black shroud above him shifts ever so slightly as he hears the repetitive sound of the stubborn lighter— testimony of the persistence of the one wielding it.

The car is noted, because Odessa is hyper aware of her surroundings when she’s not supposed to be a part of them. What a lack of foresight. She should’ve grabbed an umbrella while she was at the corner store and not just a king sized candy bar and a pack of gum.

Should’ve grabbed a better lighter, too.

As the man starts to approach — not her, of course, but just by virtue of moving in her direction — Odessa lifts her voice to catch his attention. “Ah, excuse me, sir?” This is a bad idea, but if she’s going to be trapped under an awning for a while, she may as well have a smoke. It’s one of Eve’s hand-rolled. (And it’s not tobacco.) “Got a light?”

The umbrella tips back further, revealing first a sharp jawline and a freckled face that accompanies it. A moment later follows green-gray eyes, a settled, light brow, and the outline of hair styled up and away from his face.

Ace Callahan can scent the weed over the petrichor, and one corner of his mouth is already drawn back in distaste. Perhaps not at the weed itself, but at being addressed at all. "Sorry," he offers up flatly, the tone of one who's not sorry at all. His eyes travel up from the item in the woman's hands to her face, piercing right on through her without recognition, and without a trace of compassion or sympathy.

The beginnings of his sneer fade as he gets a better look at the redhead, his look of disdain replaced by something more neutral. Her being pretty somehow makes this encounter a tad easier to bear. "Try the bodega at Dekalb," is advice that passes from him a touch more cordially, but he doesn't break stride, heading right past the bus stop entirely.

Odessa sighs. It’s devoid of dejection or frustration. “Already been,” she murmurs under her breath for her own benefit. Raises her voice again to say, “But thanks!” After one last test of the lighter, she slides it back into her pocket and seats the spliff back into its protective case to join it.

As the stranger continues to walk away, she smirks faintly as she goes over the image of him in her mind. She especially liked the freckles. Men with freckles like that just don’t come around very often. Ah, if only the look hadn’t been disdain. And that mouth. Even curled in a sneer like that—

A sneer. Like that.

That ginger head turns to look after the way he’s gone swiftly enough that her curls would bounce if they weren’t slicked to her head by the rain.

It's several steps away from the stop that the man eases in his pace away, like someone's put a slow on his own personal sense of time. Rain continues to pelt the umbrella, forking rivulets streaming down its side as he comes to a stop entirely, thinking back to the woman's face again. Green-grey eyes lead him in his turn back, looking over his shoulder.

He stares quite openly back at the woman at the bus stop, gloved finger tapping once on the handle of the umbrella while he tries to place what it is that's possessing him to look back. A little more than twenty feet away, the arch of his eyebrow can still be seen in the shadow of his umbrella while he works to figure out just who it is the redhead reminds him of.

Then, the corner of Ace's mouth begins to turn up in a small smile. It's not kindly, or friendly, his attention on her sharpening. His feet follow the turn he'd started to make, bringing it to completion.


Yes, well, it seems her memory served. If she’d been smart, Odessa would have taken his moment of hesitation, turned, and walked swiftly in the opposite direction. But she’s always been one to hold fast to the worst of choices. He looks at her, and she stares back, eyes wide and doe-like. Perhaps he remembers that look. He would have seen it in the moment of weakness, when she knew she wouldn’t walk away with him.

And now, she won’t walk away from him.

Slowly, she steps out from under the awning. The rain feels like it’s tapping on her scalp and her shoulders, but it doesn’t bother her. Her steps are hesitant where his are more confident. “It is you,” she breathes out when he’s near enough to hear her over the rain on the pavement and the vinyl over his head.

His scrutiny isn’t kind. It should unnerve her — well, it does, — but it’s also thrilling in that sick little way it always is with her. “I guess this makes us both survivors.” And that is properly exciting to Odessa.

"Only one of us was sent to prison and is a fugitive," Ace reminds her, eyes half-lidded. "So that makes you the survivor of us two." With a soft click of his tongue as he stops within arm's reach, he sees fit to add, "And me, potentially a very rich man."

He slides another step forward, arm extending out just far enough Odessa can step fully under the protective awning of the umbrella.

"… if I were still in that line of work."

Ace's lips twitch into another smile. "The war was kind to me, and my fortunes haven't exactly fallen since." His other hand comes from his pocket to let his arm away from his side just so in a way that better broadcasts how he's in a suit, in fine shoes he should be more concerned about with this rain, with a perfectly good umbrella while she has none of those things currently going for her.

His voice lifts a touch as he airily confesses, "Though I must admit, I'm surprised it took you as long as it did to tire of wasting away in a cage."

Odessa laughs huskily. “You could try.

She’s bluffing, but this is a game she enjoys playing. Memory comes flooding back and reminds her of the brief encounter. The tug of war. Stepping under the umbrella, she stares up at him past mascara-laden lashes. The energy he puts off is intoxicating. He’s so confident. It helps her feel the same. Makes her spine a little straighter. Her grin a little easier to come by.

While it may not be the picture of wealth, she, at least, has clean clothes. In a wool skirt and a charcoal cable knit sweater under a navy trench coat, she feels more herself than she has in a year. Not quite whole, but enough for now. It counts for something. “Well.” Her smile is a genial one. “Lucky you, I suppose.”

Experimentally, she takes a half-step closer. “You made the right choice.”

The turnabout of his own parting words back to him brings a ripple to Ace's emotional canvas, a purr that doesn't ascribe to any one color of feeling. His smile fades, an anticipation sharpening his edges when she steps in closer. All the while he looks over her like he's turning over a particularly shiny pebble he's deciding whether or not to send skipping.

Yes, of course he made the right choice. goes unsaid. It's obvious, after all.

"What happened to your little lover?" he wonders idly, one eyebrow lifting just above the other. His voice runs a little flat. "Did he have a short run-in with a length of a rope, or did he waste away before they got around to all that?" There's no guilt for his choice of phrase, but no joy either.

He's just waiting to see what the question does to her.

While she is able to sense his satisfaction, experience it, it isn’t enough to override the keen despair that wells up at the mention of the ball and chain that kept her tethered to her servitude. Fortunately for her, he can’t feel what she feels. He has only the cold light in her eyes for proof of her pain.

“He died.” While he surmised that much, saying it so plainly and with such a mild affectation at least (she hopes) serves to abate some of the injury he perhaps had hoped to inflict. “A building fell on him.” While the compulsion exists for Odessa to insist that Michal Valentin died so that she would live, she expects that would be entirely lost on the man in front of her.

And besides, it doesn’t matter to anyone but her, does it? What is the point? It was her failing that she wasn’t able to protect them from the collapse anyway, wasn’t it?

The smile that touches her lips doesn’t diminish any of the chill in her gaze, but gives it a sort of glow all the same. “But I’m still here.”

Has it been long enough she's no longer as affected by him— his life, his death, his everything, or is she simply putting on a face? Ace can't entirely tell, visible in the barest tilt of his head as he studies her. He decides, to be safe, it's a little of both. "My condolences," he offers, sympathy in it. Were her eyes closed, it might even be a believable thing for how genuine it sounds.

If not for the fact he's forgot to put on his mask.

Because he smiles just after, in a way that no one should be smiling at such news. "You've been freed, and took your freedom besides. Good," Ace decides for her. "Soon you'll be making up for lost time." Doing what, though, was the question. He looks to her for an answer despite never speaking the inquiry.

“You’ll be terribly disappointed in me.” She glosses right over the delight he seems to take in the sorrowful event on her personal timeline. A string cut from her web. “I spent the time after the war trying to help people.” Again, she bolsters herself with his confidence, her brows quirking a moment as she carries onward, “And why shouldn’t I? I’m smart.” Regardless of what he thinks of her ability to make sound choices.

“If I can reverse the damage of spinal injuries,” and Odessa is convinced she can, “why shouldn’t I? It’d make me — or, well, Doctor Desjardinsfamous, and quite rich in the process.” The latter she expects he can appreciate, at the least.

Ah, but she’s not doing that now, is she?

Disdain for herself and her current situation creeps into her expression as she angles a look away from him. “You seem to be doing quite well for yourself,” she observes then, letting her smile fix back into place when she gives him her attention again. The boundary is pushed again she reaches out - not swiftly, but deliberately - to feel the fabric of the lapel of his coat between her thumb and forefinger for just a moment, as if that would help her judge exactly how well he’s doing. “I’m happy for you.”

And not at all jealous.

Ace stands unflinching when Odessa reaches for him, still as a well-sculpted statue. The deliberate, slow nature of her movements already point out that she means him no harm. He supposes if she did, he'd simply suddenly find her behind him, a knife at his throat. Or at the very least, if she meant him no harm but was properly displeased with him, he'd abruptly find her feet away, carrying his umbrella.

But she doesn't, and he assumes all is well.

"Desjardins, hm?" he murmurs down to her. "Canadian, or so you should say. People will think you might come from money. That can be valuable, so long as they opt not to dig." His gaze trails down her body, judging for himself if she really puts off scientist chic or is merely garbed in the airs of a hopeless dreamer. Result: Inconclusive. "Have you already found yourself a patron?"

French, actually,” Odessa corrects. “And I got away with it for years,” she smiles a little wistfully at that, pleased with herself. “I managed to snag Raytech as my patron.” She grins at that. See? Isn’t that good? It’s clever, right? Lots of money there.

Again, her gaze slides off to the side, eyes wide and brows lifted, considering. “I suppose I’ll have to find someone else to support me once I get this government issue sorted out.”

What is it about him that makes him so utterly magnetic? It was the display of his capability before, for sure. His capacity to be unfettered by their oppressors. Now, she’s captivated by the aura that surrounds him, certainly. Odessa could drink this up every day for the rest of her life and never get enough.

A slow grin spreads across her face as she studies his face now. “Know anyone who’s hiring? I’m a brilliant scientist. And I can almost always tell when someone’s being deliberately untruthful.” There must be some value in that last one.

She leaves off capable killer and almost certainly passable bedwarmer. Sometimes she makes good choices.

Ace looks impressed… until he realizes that the Raytech support is past tense. She's starting from scratch. It's… not… unexpected, just part of a back-to-back set of realizations. Expectations are shifted, and he tries not to hold it against her.

"Mm, I'm afraid we don't generally hire flight risks," he remarks with a cant of his head; professional, cordial pity for the inconvenience it causes. He's got it down to an art. Ace slowly turns away from her and begins ambling away at his own pace, one easy for her to keep up with. "My current line of work tries so very hard to be respectable."

The click of his soles are muted on the concrete by the sound of the rain, the gentle rolling of another car down the street. He gives an idea a moment to marinate, exhaling a short sigh from his nose once it's settled in long enough. The water on the street moves more than his emotions give away what he's thinking. He sounds skeptical when he speaks again.

"I can assure you my employer would be uninterested in a charity case. You would have to do more than bravely bat your eyelashes and declare you're going to make the world a better place. Our enterprise is more…" He glances down at her out of the corner of his eye, gesturing vaguely with a tip of his hand holding the umbrella. "Think criminal, but make it classy," Ace suggests. "Make me your elevator pitch, and I'll tell you if I'd be willing to arrange an introduction on your behalf."

He starts to move and she falls along in step. His regret — such as it is — is to be expected. “You don’t strike me as the type to go straight, Ace,” Odessa muses, glancing his direction with a hint of mischief in her eye, but otherwise keeping her focus on the path ahead. Her shoes doesn’t sound on the pavement the way his do, even muted. Her soles are softer. Meant to allow her to fade into the background rather than command attention.

“You’re going to edge out the Trade Commission,” Odessa deduces, an appreciative note in her voice. It’s not the largest leap to take. She knows Alister Black. Worked for the man. There’s no way someone of Callahan’s calibre is on Black’s payroll. Margaux’s perhaps, but she expects that this would be a different story entirely if that were the case.

Smiling up at him with a cant of her head, she considers what she’s going to say. “I clean up quite well, I’ll have you know. Classy I can do.” This is a terrible idea. She should thank him for the escort and walk away.

Problem is, she doesn’t want to.

“Admittedly, I’m a liability in my current state. A small investment, however…” Frowning thoughtfully, Odessa shrugs one shoulder. “One thing I can do, is I can read people,” she tells him finally. Only the third person she’s admitted her ability to. “You’re not hiding anything from me right now — which I appreciate a great deal, by the way — emotionally speaking, so a read on you isn’t going to impress you at all.”

All the same, “But the next time you need to ask one of your supply runners if he knows what’s happening to your product,” there’s always product in these cases, “I can tell you if he’s a rat or not.” Before he might protest that there’s plenty of ways to do that, Odessa interjects, “Far more reliably than torture. Torture an innocent man and he’ll tell you down is up just to make it stop. Trick is knowing who’s not so innocent.”

What’s classier than avoiding blood on those wingtips?

Ace's steps slow to a stop while he listens, his gaze ahead. Only after his forward movement is entirely arrested does he look down at her. His features remain impassive, but confusion ripples underneath. There's something about her pitch that's thrown him, something he's not quite able to move past.

"You stop time, Odessa," he says slowly; disapprovingly. "If you want to talk soft skills, play to that ability."

His gaze doesn't leave her nonetheless, attention rapt on her. Something in her confidence about reading people, in the lack of a flash of the ability he's referenced, leads him to watch her more closely. Is she really getting at what he thinks she is?

“I did,” Odessa agrees, with the same affect in which she confirmed the death of her lover. “Once.”

The rain again kisses the top of Odessa's head as Ace flinches away from her like she's admitted she has a contagious disease. His eyes narrow to points, head pulled back in his flinch. He stays in place only out of morbid curiosity.

It's little consolation, but he's horrified rather than reviled by the revelation.

Now it’s Odessa’s turn to be appraising. She looks the man up and down even as the raindrops pelt the top of her head. “Oh, for god’s sake, Ace, I’m not contagious.” Her voice is pitched low. It’s his turn to be judged. “I don’t need to stop time to have value.”

Maybe that’s the first time she’s said those words out loud and meant them.

“My ability was stolen from me.” The smile on her face is just a touch too tight, the fire in her eyes too bright to avoid betraying the sense of anger she has about it, even if she does believe she’s still worthy without it. “Now, I have a new one.”

Take it or fucking leave it does not get further than the front of her mind. Mostly because she doesn’t want to give him invitation to leave. “It serves its purposes,” is a far gentler way to phrase that thought. “And on top of that, I’m still a fucking brilliant surgeon, with a background in genetics. I am a fantastic getaway driver, and I know exactly where to stab someone to cause them to bleed out in the swiftest amount of time.”

Cool as you please, she asserts, “I think my resume is fairly impressive, thank you.” Odessa tilts her face away a fraction, slightly haughty. Glancing back just once more, she adds, “And I can drive a stick.” Sundae, meet cherry.


That's the only noise that leaves him at first, his being very still until he blinks and looks away. Even then, his posture doesn't entirely settle. "Calling yourself a mere survivor doesn't do yourself justice," he relates with unease. The thought of going on without his ability is enough to threaten another shudder through his form. "Jesus." It's apparent in the horror of it that the word makes up the deepest of swears he could possibly reach for.

But he shakes his head, putting himself back together even if he doesn't slide his mask back into place. Somehow, he still doesn't feel the need. He looks back Odessa's way, umbrella still shrouding just the one of them.

"Hm." This sound is more thoughtful, nearing approving. Except: "The question of your loyalty will continue to be an issue, no doubt." But it sounds like he's willing to overlook it. "Your discretion combined with your skills as a surgeon should fill a niche, though. The rest becomes drizzled bonus credentials, areas of your worth we can expand into as time goes on." His head turns, brow raised as he eyes her. "You wouldn't be the first hire wanted by the US government for various crimes, so I'm sure we could work something out there…"

He's thinking now, and slips his hand into the inside of his coat, minding the angle carefully. It returns with a business card pinched between two gloved fingers— the face of it he checks with a flick of a glance— then shifts the card to the hand holding the umbrella… offering both to Odessa directly.

"Don't let love get in the way again," Ace advises idly. Love, or anything else that would prevent her from taking advantage of this opportunity.

There’s a sense of relief inside of her to feel as though she’s passed some test. Why she feels so eager for his approval of all people… Well, she should probably examine that more closely. Maybe she should break into her therapist’s office and have a chat or something.

Taking a moment to consider the offerings, Odessa reaches out to accept, letting her fingers graze over his just a moment. “He told me once that a person can fight for three reasons: Money, bombs, or love. We see where love got me.” The emphasized word is spat like it leaves a sour taste in her mouth. “I think I’d like to give money a try.”

An acceptable response indeed, one that curves the corner of Ace's mouth into a smile. "Good. Call the number when you're ready, and I'll arrange a visit." His eyes flit skyward and then back down to her. "In the meantime," the man now without an umbrella says, "I suggest you get out of the rain. Wouldn't want to catch cold."

Or be seen, but to say something like that would sound suspiciously like affectation. Can't have that.

“I’d say if you need a doctor,” she draws out the umbrella transfers owners and she tucks his card into her pocket after looking it over, “you know who to call, but… I don’t have a calling card.” And she’s not his caged bird.

Odessa begins walking backward the way she came from, a wide and playful grin spreading across her face. “I hope I see you again real soon.”

For just a moment— for some reason— her grinning face backpedaling from him evokes the memory of the last time she'd walked away from him. His smile falters with that memory, mood mellowing. Ace acknowledges her hope with an incline of his chin.

"See you do it before I forget who you are," he advises just as cheerily. Then it's his turn to slide a step back on the walk, his tangible form dispersing with a visible blurred swipe to the left just as he starts to turn away.

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