The Weather In Her Head


odessa_icon.gif kyla_icon.gif

Scene Title The Weather in Her Head
Synopsis Odessa experiences something unusual. Empathy.
Date June 9, 2019

PISEC, Plum Island, Ruins of Long Island

The sun shines brightly over the garden plots of the Plum Island SLC-Expressive Center, but you couldn’t tell it for the storm clouds that seem to hang over Odessa Price. Kneeling in the plot assigned to her, her hands in the dirt, she’s finally digging out the weeds that have taken root among her flowers.

Her heart isn’t in it.

Going through the motions, she works more by feel than anything else, for the way she stares off into space with the sorrowful expression that’s been perpetually on her face since her meeting with Woods. Working with Mohinder has done little to lift her spirits.

Odessa exhales a heavy sigh and rubs the back of her wrist over her brow, wiping away sweat but smudging dirt in its place. She lifts her head finally, looking up at the sky, grateful for a moment for this small bit of freedom she has.

Kyla Renautas hasn't been handling things well either. She, too, uses the garden as a space to try and find a better version of herself, but the struggle is as foreign as the emptiness she is filled with when confronted by it. For the last half hour all she has done is sit up against the building wall under the shadow of the roof’s awning from the midday sun, knees up to her chest and arms wrapped around them.

In the time since Odessa had come to PISEC Kyla’s barely said a word to anyone. Of the detainees that were brought over, none have maintained any sense of camaraderie. Donna Dunlap had tried, put on a strong face, but when the day Adrienne Allen was supposed to be transferred here came and went with no official notice, even she lost her spirit.

But Kyla has no such hope to hang on to. She is an isolated link in a chain, a left sock found weeks later in the dryer. As she hides her face against the back of her knees, Odessa wonders why they're keeping her here at all.

In need of a break, Odessa tosses aside the latest weed she’s pulled up, into a pile with the rest, then sets her gloves down next to it. Bracing her hands on her knees, she pushes herself up to stand and ambles over to where Kyla sits. Without asking permission, she takes the seat next to her.

“I know the feeling,” she murmurs to the younger woman - the girl - at her side. “You look like you need…” The honey blonde takes in a breath and lets it out in a sigh. “Someone to talk to.” How can she possibly deserve to be here? The rest of them had earned their places here, one way or another. But Kyla is so young. Even though Odessa knows that’s plenty of time to get blood on her hands, she somehow doubts that’s the kind of person she’s sharing a bench with.

When Kyla looks up at Odessa, her large eyes are ringed pink. There’s dark circles beneath them far too pronounced for someone her age. She swallows audibly and blinks her attention away, down to the backs of her knees. “I don’t like talking,” she says quietly, mustering as much strength as she can to not cry just from having to explain that.

While she sits there, Kyle picks at the frayed hem of her jumpsuit’s pants, where the too-long legs have been scuffed by the heels of her shoes. She picks at the threads of worn fabric there, and Odessa can see the last vestiges of black nail polish at the middle of her thumbs, the last thing she was able to do for herself before her arrest. Odessa’s been here before, up against that wall, holding back those tears. Kyla may not realize it, but Odessa understands it in her very soul.

“I never see you upset,” is something Kyla says that means Odessa’s external compartmentalization is just as good as ever. “I feel stupid.”

Yeah, Odessa’s been here before.

“I’ve spent my whole life upset,” Odessa admits in a soft voice. Her heart breaks for this girl. She wants to pull her into a hug and promise her that she can get her life back. That there’s still hope and she’ll help her figure it out. But she has no right. And what good has Odessa been to anyone, really?

“It’s okay to feel like you do,” feels like a profound thing to say, while simultaneously overly simplistic. But sometimes a person just needs permission to have feelings. “I’d… I’d like to be your friend, if you’ll let me. We don’t have much here, but I’d like you to know that you have me when you do want to talk. I’m the last person who’s going to judge you.”

“What’s the point?” Kyla says with a hiccuped tone to her voice, as though she were about to cry. She manages not to, but her face is bright red and her eyes match, fat tears welled up in her eyelids. “We’re all just— gonna die here. We’re gonna’ d-die here all alone, and nobody will come t-to say goodbye, and we’ll just b-be gone.”

Kyla is hurting, deeply, and it feels like everything she’s saying is coming from a place of hurt. She comes across as extremely sheltered, in spite of having relative freedom to move as the Institute instructed. But the way she pleads in her tone, it’s more like a child. Emotionally stunted. There’s some familiarity in that too.

Odessa reaches out tentatively at first, then commits to the gesture of wrapping an arm around Kyla’s shoulders. “That’s not true. There are people out there trying to help you right now. We’re not going to die here.” Even if she suspects she might, but there’s still hope for the girl. “You are not going to die here. Not if your brother has anything to say about it.”

A white blonde strand of hair is brushed away from Kyla’s face with careful fingers. “The point is that we can still try to do some good. That’s why they put us here. We can prove we’re not the people we appear to be in someone’s…” The word escapes her. Brows furrow as she decides on, “Narrative. We’re not the picture the prosecution paints.”

Which leads her to a burning question. “Why didn’t you testify in your own defense?” Kyla makes a far more compelling figure on the witness stand than Odessa ever would.

Kyla looks at Odessa, warily at first as if she’s trying to trick her into confessing something. But after a moment her expression softens, and the sobs subside. She wipes at her nose and eyes with palm and knuckles, sleeve and wrist, and then blinks reddened eyes back to Odessa.

Tell them nothing,” Kyla says flatly, with a tone of recitation. “If the government gets you, tell them nothing.” She looks down, to her snot-smudged sleeve. “That was the last thing my dad ever told me.” Kyla’s jaw unsteadies, her throat tightens, and a sob hitches in the back of her throat. “N-not… not goodbye, or I love you. He— he turned back when we came outta’ the sewers and he said that, and then— and then the drones— and then they were gone.”

Unable to keep her jaw from trembling, Kyla brings up her sleeve to wipe at her eyes again. Angrily. “It’s like— if I can’t do that. If I can’t do what he asked, it’s like that’s the last thing left I have of him. He didn’t trust them, the Americans. He didn’t trust them, and if I gave in… I… he’d be gone forever.”

Blue eyes close heavily as Odessa listens to the explanation. Her brow knits together a moment in an expression of anguish on Kyla’s behalf, but a deep breath steadies her and keeps her own sympathetic tears at bay for now.

“That’s…” Not how it works, is what she’d like to say. “Your father wanted to protect you, but he’s gone now. Whether you follow his last directive or not, the only one left to protect you is you.” It’s something Odessa’s felt about her own situation for a long time. “If you talk to them, if you’ll tell them how you were coerced… They could release you.”

Could. Even that feels like giving too much hope, but keeping her mouth shut is going to condemn the younger woman to a life in this place, and Odessa is certain that’s not what Kyla deserves. “Would it help if we could arrange a meeting with your brother?” He, after all, escaped incarceration.

Kyla mostly sobs in response to the things Odessa says, her shoulders rising and falling in shuddering movements and her eyes wrenched shut. She makes tiny, pathetic sounds of agreement and nods, brushing her brow against the arms she's looped around her legs. “Yes,” she slurs into Odessa’s request to arrange for a meeting with her brother. “Yes I— I'd like that. If they'd let him.”

It's hard for Odessa to reconcile this image of Kyla. She'd heard that this is a woman Erica Kravid trusted to be her mouthpiece during and after the civil war, that she was an envoy for the Institute and controlled a wide number of assets as a handler. One among which was Richard’s own… father. Of sorts. But here, now, she's a sobbing wreck of a woman.

In that Odessa sees a shadow of herself as well.

In that, Odessa also feels the oncoming of a headache, which is strangely inconsistent with the moment on reconsideration. There’s a dull, throbbing ache at her brow and behind her eyes. The stress here hasn't been good for her.

“It’s okay,” Odessa says quietly, wrapping her arms around the girl and murmuring the assurance into her hair. “It’s going to be okay. I’ll send word that you’d like to see Kyle, and we’ll do everything we can to make that happen. Director Waite will probably encourage it.” She hopes, at least. He doesn’t seem to want the people in this place to be, well… Like Kyla is right now.

That headache causes Odessa to wince, squinching her eyes shut against the sunshine in the garden. She takes a steadying breath and leans back from Kyla so she can reach up and wipe the tears from the girl’s face. She pulls a handkerchief out from her pocket and hands it to her. “If you’d like to, I’ll listen to what you have to say. You must have seen so much.” So much that haunts her. Odessa understands that feeling all too well. “I understand what it’s like… In the moment, they give you so much responsibility. It feels like power. And it feels good, and you feel… in control.”

Odessa falls silent for a moment, feeling a brief wave of nausea brought on by the throbbing behind her eyes. Again, she takes a deep breath. “And then when the moment is over, and it comes crashing down… Suddenly it’s all a horror show that you can’t believe you lived.” Blue eyes close heavily and stay shut just a half second longer than they should.

Kyla’s sobs grow quieter, attention locked in Odessa. Her mouth is still shadowed by her overly large sleeves, but all that does is emphasize the childlike stare that Kyla gives Odessa. The whole thing strikes a nerve with Kyla, and she looks down into a distant point far below her, eyes going unfocused and her attention elsewhere, if only figuratively.

“What do you want?” Is a cold thing for Kyla to ask of Odessa, but it isn't meant that way. Odessa knows the meaning, lived it. The transactionary nature of her relationship with any executive in the Company. Even those who treated her well wanted something when they came to see her. Even people who were too empathetic for the Company, like Peter Petrelli, only ever wanted something from her. They might ask about how she's doing while they're getting what they want, but it was always perfunctory. Always second to the need of the agents.

Odessa sees her younger self’s eyes staring back at her. Hopeful, thoughtful, and frightened. The burden is the heaviest weight she's ever felt.

The look Odessa gives in return is sympathetic. “Nothing. I want you to… I want you to feel better than you do now. I want you to feel unburdened. You don’t have to tell me one damn thing if it isn’t what you want.” She wishes that so very long ago someone would have said that to her.

“But I want you to know that if you need someone to talk to, if you want that, I’m here. That’s all I want. You deserve a friend who doesn’t want to twist you in some way.” Maybe she deserved one too. She’d be a far different person if she’d had a real friend.

Her heart suddenly aches for James Woods again. A tear slides down her cheek and she’s quick to wipe it away with her thumb. “What do you want, Kyla?”

“I don’t know…” Kyla says quietly, fearfully, against the backs of her knees. Her wide eyes search the garden for answers, but the flowers keep their own secrets. But when she looks up to Odessa, it’s no secret that she is both hurting and confused. Because the one thing that Kyla does know is a pain that Odessa has felt like a knife in her stomach for so many years of her life.

“I don’t know what I want,” Kyla says with a slow shake of her head. “Nobody’s ever asked me before.”

That knife is an old, familiar sting.

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