Thoughts of a Dying Atheist, Part III


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Also Featuring…

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Scene Title Thoughts of a Dying Atheist, Part III
Synopsis CONTENT WARNING: Violence and allusions to past abuse.
Odessa retraces the winding path of her relationship with the man who destroyed Midtown.
Date In the past…

New York City, New York

Level Five

I know you're in this room
I'm sure I heard you sigh

"Chandra Suresh's book was right?" Peter Petrelli's eyes go wild, "I'm a Mosaic!?" His brow tenses, "I… I don't know how to… The bomb…" Sudden, horrified realization, "You have to tell me what happened."

Oh, my favorite little puppy. How far you've come.

"One thing at a time, Petrelli." Odessa smiles gently as she finally removes the last of his restraints. "Yes, you are a Mosaic, as Suresh phrases it. I haven't studied your ability, so I'm not sure what you're fully capable of, but…"

"Are you like me too?" He's confused, and he has every right to be. Still, he manages to reward Odessa's explanations with a smile, entreating her to share her own secret. "I mean, do you have a gift?"

The question is avoided, artlessly. "The world knows about people with extraordinary abilities now. I wish I could tell you more, but… I'm kind of in my own little world here. I'll do my best to answer what I can."


"Why do you keep me here? I mean, do we work together?"

"Not yet," Odessa responds gently, a genuine smile spreading across her face. "I'd like to work with you, Peter Petrelli. If I recruit you, I might finally get some respect around here. I might move up… and out." Her gaze shifts to the door a moment before turning back to Peter. The longing resounds in her chest like the vibrations of a clock tower's bell. This could be her chance. He could be her chance.

One of Peter's brows raises slowly. "I don't think I can just… go out there and to this. I don't even have the first clue what you've been talking about." He's lost for a moment, in his thoughts and the confusion of his situation. Then, he seems to summon his resolve. "If you need me…" Laughter breaks his composure, "I can't believe I'm saying this – If I can use my powers to help people?" He looks to Odessa, and the optimism in his eyes actually manages to stir something in her she hadn't been counting on. "Sign me up."

So very, very earnest, my Scarecrow. I miss that.

"Do you have a full dossier of my abilities?" It's an odd question, and when he looks over his shoulder to ask it, his eyes don't meet Odessa's. He seems remarkably shy to be seated on her exam table in his boxers, and at the same time anxious about his entire situation.

Okay, this one isn't what it looks like. His clothes were covered in blood. What was I supposed to do? Just let him sit in that? It's a biohazard. No, thank you.

Odessa chuckles nervously. "Peter, you're a nurse. Like you've never seen someone in this little or less. I'm a doctor. I've seen naked people before. You're nothing special." Of course, maybe that's the problem. "Is it because I'm younger than you are? You've heard the rumors I'm immortal, right? I'm three hundred years old. It's all good."

Peter laughs, shaking his head. "Doctor humor," he says with a crooked smile, "I never was much good at that." He dismisses her comment entirely as a flight of fancy and humor. "No, it's just that you're a woman."

Odessa gives Peter a look. "Who's joking? I am really three hundred years old." She peers down at Peter's arm as she begins drawing blood, and he stares at her intently.

You know something, Petrelli? I genuinely miss you.

"You don't honestly think that I would—" She smooths back her hair and then tosses a set of scrubs down on one end of the table in lieu of a pillow after she withdraws the needle and her prize sample. The thought is dismissed.

How little I understood about the social dynamics between men and women then. The idea that anyone could find me attractive was completely alien. The idea that I could find anyone attractive beyond the notion of aesthetically pleasing even more so.

He was so nice then. Too bad I wasn't interested. Maybe things would have turned out very differently if I'd fallen in with someone like him instead of… Right. Let's watch the rest of this scene play out, shall we? I remember how this goes.

Peter opens his mouth to speak, then reconsiders, but not long enough. "So, you're like Adam?"

There's the reason why.

Well, that grabs Doctor Knutson's attention. Her head snaps up, then tilts curiously, eyes narrowing a fraction as mirth and keen interest sparkle in those cobalt depths. "Interesting. And how did you know that?" She ignores the first question entirely. They're talking about Adam now.

Ah, my favorite subject. I should have studied a different field.

Peter's eyes widen. "…Damnit."

The clock on the wall has stopped entirely with one last heavy clunk of the second hand. He needs a minute to think.

Now Odessa's head slowly pivots around to tilt to the other side, a glint of concern to her expression as she glances around her. Something doesn't feel right. There's a look spared to her watch. "Ohhh…" She looks up at Peter again and grins before chiming, "That's cute! Are you stopping time? Yeah, that trick doesn't work on me, sweetie. I'm pretty timeless."

Hah! Okay, this was fun. Oh, Peter.

The sound of Odessa's voice causes Peter to scramble backwards and off the examination table, one hand raised without much other effect except to add gesture to his surprise. "W- woah!" His eyes grow wide and he looks around at the unmoving technicians outside the lab, then up to the stopped clock, then back to Odessa. "H- How —" He swallows, awkwardly, "You – How are you doing that?" From his hastened breathing and the look of absolute confusion on his face, it's clear this isn't a common occurrence for Peter.

"Haven't you heard?" Odessa strikes up to Peter slowly, relishing in his discomfort. Relishing in having surprised him with her ability. "I can do anything I want to do. Why do you think they don't want me to leave?"

Like this, this is how I miss you. When you were kind, and naïve enough to buy into every rumor about me.

There's a look of concern that flashes immediately across Peter's face. "You…" His brow furrows, head tilting to one side in an unconscious mirroring of her own earlier posture. "How is this even possible?" Together like this, trapped in a moment of standing time, they could have eternity together, as long as Peter can maintain enough focus to keep time ground to a halt. "How does that even work?"

"It just does, Peter. I'm special."

Central Park

Belvedere Castle is quiet, save for the crunch of gravel underfoot.

Save for the sound of the breath being knocked from a woman's lungs as a foot comes down on the center of her chest, cracking ribs in the process. The bouquet of purple and green bruises that will blossom there later will be nothing short of impressive.

Save for the quiet ringing of a cell phone in her hand.

Save for the fluttering of wings over head.

And then there's this asshole…

The birds back away, hopping with flaps of their wings to form a wide circle around the two beneath the pavilion. Peter smiles thinly when he hears the sound of someone picking up on the other end of the line. "Gabriel," is all the woman manages to get out. With a crackling snap, his hands cool, one reaching out to the air between them to tear the phone from Odessa's grasp with his telekinetic power. It slaps! against his palm when he receives it.

"Hey there…" Peter croons into the phone he's stolen from Odessa, cool as can be. "Did you get my message I left you?" With a wave of his free hand, Odessa is rolled onto her back again, violently, and he takes long strides to close in on her again. Once he's nearly on top of her, she can't stop what comes. Peter raises his foot to step down on her shoulder, gradually harder and harder, he wants her to scream.

Scream for Sylar.

And she does. Shrill and breaking, it tears from the woman's throat and sets some of the birds to flight in spite of Peter's compelling presence. Her throat is sore after; she sets her jaw and clenches her teeth to quell the urge to cry out again. Furious tears mingle with the blood on her face.

The things I do to sell an image.

When he releases and turns away from her so he can taunt Sylar over the phone line once more, Odessa again brings time grinding to a halt. God, she hurts. For several stolen minutes, all she does is breathe, and prepare herself for what she feels she has to do next. She takes a great deal of satisfaction in his surprise when she releases her hold on time and he sees she's not where he left her.

"Oh, you really shouldn't have let me go."

The fight that ensues is a thrill like she's never known. He so dearly wants to cause some kind of damage to her, but she always stops him before he can, and is never where his attacks land. But his arsenal, in the end, is far more powerful than her one weapon. This is the first time she learns not to toy with her prey. She should have just killed him. It's a lesson that won't stick.

Odessa, why don't you stop fighting.

Physical attacks she could handle, but not this. The fight drains out of her, and when he beckons her forward, it's all she can do to stand her ground and make him come to her. "You're not better than he is."

Peter cracks a slow smile, "I'm much better than he is…" He raises one hand to brush his fingers across her cheek lightly, maintaining the engagement of his mind to hers. The tears begin to flow instantly. Fingers curl behind her ear, and she is lifted ever so gently toward Peter as he leans down, initially accentuating the awful edges of where he ends and she begins, then blurring them with his proximity. The way he touches her makes her stomach churn, but she cannot summon the willpower to break away. There is a brief, momentary brush of his breath over her cheek, and his mouth comes down to settle by her ear. The panic screams in her brain, the primal fear telling her that flight is the answer here, if only her wings weren't mangled. His mind holds her still and her fear holds her captive. In the prickling cold of the night, the exhalation of his words in a whisper against the shell of her ear is so very warm by contrast. "I'm going to find out…" His nose presses into her hair, she begins to weep more openly and his fingers move, curling into the blonde strands at the back of her head, "how you do what you do."

Then, the intrusion is made deeper, more forceful. "You'll show me, Odessa…" His whispers are more coarse now, but he begins to lean back. Tears cut hot rivers from her eyes down to the point of her chin. Afraid of his hands on her body. Afraid of the hooks of his mind sunk into hers. Watching her intently, the fingers of his free hand trace over her brow. "Or… I might be compelled…"

Peter's mind extends down into Odessa's, no longer a suggestion of compliance, but searching, digging and clawing at her memories and thoughts in some feverish attempt to discover how she does exactly what it is she does, and what that secret of hers is. He walks his fingers like a tiny person across her forehead, imitating skipping steps with two fingers, "…to see what he sees."

Ooh, he was so good when he was bad, wasn't he? I wish I had been able to appreciate it then. Too bad he wanted to use me to get to Sylar. We could have made such beautiful music together. Imagine the screams.

Oh. Was that not the regret I was meant to have about this? About him? Sorry.

In the end, it's the fear of that terrible intimacy he promises with his whispers and his questing mind that finally gives her the strength to curl her fingers around a thread of time and pull.

Peter doesn't hear the shots ring out, but he can feel the barrel of the gun pressed against his chest and the bullets that have pierced his skin, and punctured his organs. The blood blossoms from the three wounds in his chest. How's that for show and tell?

Got you.

Before he can really react, he finds himself on his back, pinned by Odessa's heel over his throat. With each skip and jump, her thoughts cease, leaving only silence in both their minds. "I know you'll simply get better, but I would take so much satisfaction in crushing your trachea." The tone of her voice is even, unruffled, like none of the tears before had meant anything at all. Like none of her fear exists now. There's no blur for him this time. One moment her shoe is over his neck, the next the stiletto is poised just over the man's eye. He breathes wetly as he stares up at her. "I wonder if you'd survive if I put my heel through your eye socket?"

Nobody touches me. Ever.

Moab Federal Penitentiary, Red Level

Dark blue eyes widen at first with hope as the doors to her cell slide open…

Buckle up, kids. This is where it gets complicated.

"Her name's… Odessa."

Then those eyes widen further in unmistakeable terror. "No!" The dark-haired woman on the floor cries out and curls further into the corner of the room as though she might melt through the wall and escape the figure looming in the doorway. "Stay away from me, Petrelli," Odessa demands fearfully. Chains have been clamped around her wrists and ankles, wrapped around her torso, and limbs, binding her as though she could be Pandora's box. They rattle in protest of the motion as she shivers and wraps her arms around herself.

Peter's nose rankles up into a confused expression, "Fine," he spits out, about to walk away until Hiro Nakamura slaps a hand onto his shoulder. The two exchange a long, drawn out stare between one another, and then Peter seems to relent. Turning slowly, he looks back over his shoulder to Odessa. "We're getting out of here." His eyes follow the lengths of chain. Two fingers extend out, a crackling pop-hiss of blue-green light follows, lasers lancing through the room and slicing through her shackles, letting the whole heavy binding go slack.

"You can come with us, or you can find your own way out." There's still that cold, hard edge that Odessa knows from this Peter, but it's tempered behind something seemingly more human than she witnessed at their last encounter. "You're not going to try and stop us, right?" Hiro's eyes scan to Peter, then back to Odessa, slowly beginning to understand what's going on here.

Gingerly, she rubs her wrists and slides free of the chains that once bound her with only the smallest bit of wriggling. Her frame is smaller now from malnutrition – not fully recovered from the hunger strike she engaged in which prompted Eric Doyle to become her keeper – and her legs are unsteady beneath her when she rises, wobbling for a moment or two. "I'm coming," she confirms. If she can just stay standing.

A crackling flash of electricty down the hall causes Peter to turn his focus, his brow growing tense. Trouble is encroaching. "Hiro, how long will it take you to get everybody out?" There's marked concern in his expression.

"If I stop time, not too long."

Peter nods. That will have to be enough. "Round everyone up and get them to cover, okay?" Hiro watches Peter for a moment, then nods slowly in return, turning his attention to Odessa as she begins to walk, then shifting his focus back to Peter. A rush of air signifies his vanishing.

There's no safe exit. Waves of augmentation from beyond the bounds of Odessa's security room/cell surge over Peter, causing him to recoil as the unexpected power sends his skin alight with a flickering orange glow. "No!" Peter struggles to remain in control, staggering back toward the door, then back toward the bank of television monitors and flickering screens that served as Odessa's personal hell. Every ability Peter has gained and has not yet reined in control of begins to go wild. And the first that does, is Gillian's amplification.

The surge of power from Gillian is re-energizing, to say the very least. With the flexing of her fingers, Odessa tests out the renewed boundaries of her ability. If Odessa Knutson has one fatal weakness, it's an insatiable curiosity when it comes to abilities. And the man before her now is nearly as fascinating to her as Sylar. Cautiously, Odessa creeps forward, further back into her cell. If she can draw him in under her influence, that will buy Hiro more time to get more people out if this starts to go Midtown on them. As Peter watches the chaos unfolding elsewhere in the prison on the monitors, she reaches out to touch the haywire man, wide-eyed as a child who's just spotted the tree and all the goodies beneath on Christmas morning.

How terrifying I was. I had the whole damn facility under my grip. I could have just walked out and left them all there. Should have done. But instead, I had to get all curious. It's times like these when I realize I'm better off without my ability. Too damn much time makes a girl crazy.

The touch only seems to change what's happening. The glowing orange light seems to level off, and the crashing waves of Gillian's amplification continues to build into a crescendo. He barely feels her hand, yet he remembers the tone of Odessa's voice, the fear in her eyes, the feeling of her stiletto heel pressing into his throat.

"Odessa…" Peter murmurs, feeling the swelling surge of abilities rising up in him, "I– I think–" Voice barely more than a whisper, his words are shared with her alone. As the waves of temporal distortion and amplification fluctuate and rise up from him, his own power and Odessa's temporal manipulation build–

—a bullet finds its way into him. And time comes grinding to a halt. The last thing Odessa sees is the room around her coming into a bright and radiant blur of motion.

And then I woke up in Oz. No, really. I'll be just fine if we don't relive that fucked up episode.

Ruins of Midtown

"Odessa Knutson." The name is given emphasis and a tilt of his head, but no steps forward yet. "It's been a long time." Mannerisms are wrong, everything is wrong. It doesn't match with either version of Peter that she knew. Not the Company agent, not 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."

"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. "How?"

"Wrong," Peter notes, canting his head to one side as he regards her, still casual in his posture. "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…"

In less than the time it 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." The blade of her surgical knife kisses his skin, parts it easily, and a bead of blood wells up against the steel. It's beautiful, in its own way.

Blessedly spared the withering of her hand by the fabric of his 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 to 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." Those cold eyes narrow. "Dead, but never gone. You do remember what happened in Texas, don't you?"

I take it all back. This is the worst of him. I'd take the other guy in a heartbeat.

One gloved hand moves up, fingers slowly curling around Odessa's hand, not moving the scalpel and only giving a faint prickling tingle to her skin from proximity. With a growl, Odessa presses the blade further against him. Spiteful in her defiance in a way she wasn't all that time ago.

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 superficial 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 that she feels, but the searing pain of heat, as if her knuckle was pressed down on a hot stove top. Skin immediately begins withering away from the knuckle, pain hot in the bone, flesh turning grey and wrinkled, cracked from dryness.

What did you think was going to happen, you silly little girl? You knew who you were dealing with. What you were dealing with.

The makeshift weapon clatters to the ground as Odessa shrieks, tumbling backwards and scooting across the cold concrete as quickly as she can manage, clutching 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 in her bones.

"I was supposed to save you," he laments, "from Moab." Dark brows crease together, "Then nothing." When his focus comes back to her, he admits, "I'm surprised… to see you alive, and– relatively well." Incongruously, 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.

Speakeasy Hotel and Casino, Room 101

"What do you want?" Peter's brows both raise as he poses the question of the woman he's woken from sleep. His head tilts to one side, gloved hand moves over his mouth as he braces his chin on his palm, fingers tapping on his lips as blue eyes drift up and down the dark-haired woman.

"A lot of things." Odessa leans forward slowly, eyes growing just a touch wider as she wraps the sheet around herself and crawls toward the foot of the bed. Toward Peter. As she advances, he leans away. "What are you offering me?" Her lips curve upward into a mischievous grin, flashing pearly teeth.

Nothing good.

"I'm not offering you anything." The rebuttal causes Odessa's grin to begin fading away, but the spark in her eyes is still alight, if a darker shade. "But I want to know what you want, so I can start to understand why you do what you do. Are you aspiring toward this?" He waves his free hand to indicate the cheap motel. The vial of morphine he's confiscated from her. "Is there something more?" Dark brows crease together as his expression grows stern. "Something more than your drugs?"

"I never wanted this."

Look at that. That was even truthful. Nicely done, 'Dessie.

"It's not like I've got a family or any friends at all. Who cares? What do you care?" The smirk returns as Odessa moves to sit on the edge of the bed. "How about you, Petrelli? Volken. Whoever you think you are today. What do you want?"

Peter wags his finger back and forth in the air chidingly. "You didn't answer my question." There's a tensing of his brows as he leans forward in his chair again. "You gave me plenty of excuses for why you can curl up and get stoned, because you don't have anyone. Nobody cares about you." His voice takes on a gravely tone before he continues:

''Woe is Odessa."

Slowly, he leans back into his chair with the leather creaking softly. "Tell me what you want."

He had it right there. Woe is me, indeed.

Odessa climbs out of the bed and stretches her fingers up toward the ceiling, rocking her head from one side to the other, working out the kinks. Giving her back to Peter, her stride carries her away from the bed, where she lets the sheet drop into a dingy white pool about her ankles. A bra strap is adjusted absently. So much for modesty. A darkly curious glance is cast over her shoulders to Peter as her hair is tousled by her fingers. "Why do you want to know? What do you gain from knowing what I want? Tell me that, and I'll tell you. I'll even tell you the truth."

Good God, was I really this awful? This stupid? Was I on so much morphine that I had lost my damned mind?

"Everyone's motivated by wants, needs…" Peter's gloved hands come up to rest on his chin again. "Once you understand that, you can better understand how to work with them."

Manipulate them. But points for being bold about it.

"I want to know what motivates you, so I can know if we can work together."

Ah, the magic words.

Peter's dark brows rise when he makes that statement. "But if you'd rather just… be alone," he nods towards the door to the rented room, "you're free to get dressed and walk out any time you'd like."

Odessa turns around and faces the man dead on without shame. "I just want a kindred spirit. I don't need a friend, just someone who gets it. Someone to share it all with me." One hand rests on her hip, posture more defiant than it should be. "That's what I want."

"It's not me," he clarifies without a moment's hesitation, in case there was any doubt. "But it's good to know, good to understand." Peter's lips creep up with a crooked smile as he pushes himself up to his feet, the leather protesting loudly at his movements. Once upright, his hand comes down to rest in the pockets of his slacks, brows tensed as he looks to Odessa again.

No shit, it isn't you.

She steps forward, bare feet silent on the faded carpet. She reaches up to trace the lines of his jacket. "You aren't Petrelli, but you aren't Volken." The need to know and understand that drove Odessa for so long is overriding that lingering hatred she held for both of them. "You're new," she intones gently.

He sidesteps her, moving toward the door with a few broad strides, coming to stop once his hand has settled on the brass knob of the door. There's a pause, head tilting to the side and blue eyes turning toward his ward. "I'll be back tomorrow," says the man coming in during the middle of the night, "don't wait up for me."

She smirks at his back. "I'll be here." And the door slams shut, leaving Odessa Knutson with the one bit of company she never welcomes…


Rough night. About to get worse.

"Save me Peter. I'll be so good to you." Another night, her breath washes over the man's ear from behind, her arms wrapped around his body. She inhales the scent of rain on his coat and sighs deeply.

Gag me.

Peter turns and scowls, pulling out of her embrace the way a cat squirms out from beneath the hand of someone petting them the wrong way. "I could help," his brows furrow together,"but I won't. You want an alliance? Fine, but that doesn't entail me taking care of you." Now extricated from her arms, there's a squared look given to the dark-haired woman. "So your ability works, and you're not entirely out of your mind." Both gloved hands brush off the front of his suit in a swift motion. "Behave yourself and I think we might have something better for an arrangement. We'll call it mutual favors for now. One of us needs something, we owe the other. Right now, we're even."

Did I stutter back at the station?

"This room's yours now," Peter explains quietly. He makes his way for the door, no eye contact afforded to Odessa. "Consider it a gift."

"How generous of you," Odessa responds and blows him a kiss. "Take care now."

Not meeting him again is not on the list of regrets.

Previously in this storyline…
Thoughts of a Dying Atheist, Part II

Next in this storyline…
Thoughts of a Dying Atheist, Part IV

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