Thy Fearful Symmetry


brennan2_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif

Scene Title Thy Fearful Symmetry
Synopsis Boss and subordinate have an unconventional meeting at the zoo. Both sides are playing one another.
Date March 26, 2011

Central Park Zoo

The five acres of the Central Park Zoo are divided into three major exhibit themes: the Polar Circle, the Rain Forest, and the Temperate Territory. It features everything from leaf-cutter ants to the ever-popular polar bears; California sea lions to colobus monkeys; the two-toed sloth to the Japanese macaque. The exhibits are always a major draw for tourists, but the zoo offers a variety of classes and programs intended to educate the public in wildlife and wildlife conservation. The associated Tisch Children's Zoo includes a petting zoo and the Wildlife Theater, as well as a variety of exhibits targeted to the younger audience.

Maybe it was the visit with Yana, the invocation of Odessa's name in relations to the situation from both Devon and Yana herself that prompted this. Maybe it was to insure that he was keeping in touch with those who were technically under his employ, ensure that they know, that their boss is watching and not just the upper echelon.

Today at least, it's sunny, the morning ugliness dealt with and follow up phone calls made. Normally there's a child on his arm when he's meandering towards the zoo, but not today. Henri safe at home with the Nanny, the children out still in school, soon to be picked up by said Nanny, and this isn't conversation fit for around the kids. Not the ones who can comprehend and hear. Or lip read. He's treating Odessa to the zoo, whether she likes it or not. Which is why he's standing outside of it, in slacks, button down, tie loose and a leather messenger bag that Indiana Jones would be happy to carry, slung crosswise over his chest, waiting.

As it happens, Odessa is utterly enamoured by the zoo. Being locked away from the world for so many years means that this place, home to creatures from all over the planet, is one of her favourites. So when the boss calls and says he wants to take her out to the zoo, Odessa says I'll get my coat.

She shows up when she says she's going to, fussing with her phone. Odessa has it up to her ear when she arrives, bright smile on her face. It's rare to see the young doctor looking what anyone would call sunny, unless you count her attire, canary yellow being one of her favourite hues. Today is no exception. A bright sun dress and matching three inch pumps. Not ideal for traipsing all over, but Doctor Price has never been known for her practicality when it comes to footwear. "Doctor Brennan!" she greets cheerfully. "My phone is finally delivering my voicemails. Just a second…"

The smile fades slowly as she listens to whatever's been waiting for her all morning while she had issues with reception. Single blue eye widens slightly and white brows hike upward. When Odessa snaps the phone shut, her smile renews itself, but a little tighter than it was. "Sorry about that."

"It's all fine. Dr. Blite is an important message to listen to, if you need a few minutes to listen again Dr. Price, by all means, the monkey's and polar bears can wait a few minutes" He figures that Yana would have at least had the courtesy to leave a message for her co-worker and partner on this important project. "I won't keep you long, I'm sure, unless you want to be kept long. How have you been lately? I'm wanting to check in on all those who work under me, and you were second on my list" a moderate list, pruned by virtue of the lay off of a good many people thanks to the damage to the SC.

Odessa shakes her head quickly. "Nope. It's fine." She drops her phone into her sparkly sequinned Coach bag. "Blite just probably needs me to stay late tonight and do some catch-up work."

Then, she clears her throat and coughs into her fist a couple times. It doesn't sound good. A pack of cough drops is procured from the purse, one cherry and honey lozenge unwrapped and popped into her mouth. "I'm a little under the weather, to be honest. But believe me, I will linger here until close if you let me." She adjusts the straps of her bag on her shoulder and as she finally draws in closer, Brennan can see the work done with make-up to cover up the sickly pallor of the woman's scarred face. Dark circles under her eyes can't be completely hidden by concealer. "How're Michelle and the kids?" she asks conversationally enough.

"Well enough. Growing like weeds, looking forward to the end of school. Michelle's was looking forward to a trip home but… the new airway rules means that she can't fly commercial." So that means private, or other modes of transportation. "All in all, doing good, which while I say it in the kindest possible way, you don't look like you have been doing so good. I trust you've seen someone and not invoked physician heal thyself?"

"I didn't realise Michelle was on the new no-fly list. I'm sorry to hear that. At least we're paid decent money by our employers." Odessa's smile fades as she rubs at the tip of her nose and sniffs once. Fortunately dryly. "I'm doing much better today than I was yesterday." She hasn't coughed blood into the gutters at all today. That's an improvement. "So, I'm on the mend. Thank you for your concern, though. I appreciate it."

"Well, I look at it this way. Plane tickets for five or six seats on a plane, to France, cost about as much as if you were to charter one. Think of the bonus leg room or the lack of needing to deal with the TSA." Up to the ticket booth they go and Brennan's taking out his own pass, and money slid across for Odessa's ticket. Soon enough, they are heading in to the zoo proper.

"Good, because Dr. Blite is going to need you. You both have a busy week and I expect results by the end of it. positive results that will have a positive impact on the population as a whole. I don't think she could do it without you" Well maybe she could, if the rumor mill runs true. "I was wanting to touch base with my employee's, see if there way anything that was needed, crack a whip on the slackers."

"I'm doing my very best, Doctor Brennan," Odessa assures, somewhat meekly. "It's been an uphill battle without…" Her ability. But she doesn't voice it, except to say, "The last time I worked on a vaccine, I just… Had more time."

But even uncertainty can't quell enthusiasm for the zoo. "I'm working on it, though… There are people I care about. I want to protect them from this." Which is Odessa's way of saying she has a vested interest in creating a cure for the horror that's been wrought. Ironically by someone else she cares about. Secretly.

"Two of my children, don't possess the SLC expressive gene, that my wife and I do. So you can see why I am…" Brennan's hands slide into his pockets as he lets Odessa choose where she wants to go. He's here almost twice a month with the kids, he's seen it all before. "Concerned about it, and some of the things that I have heard regarding Dr. Blite and her ability to produce a vaccine where others cannot" He looks over at the white haired woman, and if he was negating her, she wouldn't know, but he isn't. He's liked Dr. Price, and despite what Devon says, will take what's said with a grain of salt. "How were you, in the dome. We didn't cross paths much toward the end."

Given leave to lead, Odessa starts off for the big cat exhibit. Go figure. She wants to see the lions. "I understand," she responds sympathetically to concerns about the Brennan children. "I don't want any harm to come to your family." She could have said to innocent people, but that would be somewhat of a lie. If enough innocent people are harmed, then a message is sent.

But that doesn't mean the woman won't pick and choose who's to be saved before a vaccine goes public. "If any of the children start showing symptoms… Bring them to see me, for samples." Odessa slows to a stop in front of the lions, watching a male with his bushy orange mane sun himself on a rock. Her fingers wrap around the barrier fence and she leans against it some.

"The Dome was a difficult time for all of us." Brennan may recall she came out of it with a hole through one shoulder. A through and through from a gunshot. Peach-painted lips curve upward in a smirk. "That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Isn't that how the saying goes?"

A lot of people came through there, with more holes than god, or a piercer who was paid to, put in their bodies. Brennan included. "I'll be sure, to do everything that I should do, for my children should they come down with it" he knocks on wood though, knuckles rapped against a rail. "Have you spoken to anyone about it? Are you coping well in the aftermath? Did you find it easy to get back to work after you had healed?"

"Work helped," Odessa admits. "I didn't like being away from it. I tend to rebel at stagnation…" As much as it rebels at the loss of her ability. What disturbs her most is the fact that she no longer feels the pain of that loss. Her bones don't ache in the absence of what she can only describe as the sensation of the flow of time. She should be talking to someone about this, but her confidant has left her.

The Institute. Left the Institute. That's what she meant.

"I… It wasn't a good experience, but I like to think that some good came of it," Odessa murmurs, finally glancing over to Brennan as she speaks, rather than watching the animals that undoubtedly fascinate her.

"Idle hands is how they call it. I have to wonder at people who can sit about and be lazy. Confuses me. I thank god that I have the practice and the rest of you and the kids to keep me busy" He looks away from the lions too, hands still in his pockets, jaw neatly scruffed and hair short shorn. A tidier version of what he looked like in the dome.

"I don't really know if any good though, will come of what happened on Roosevelt Island, other than a once again renovated Suresh Center. Maybe you'll have a better office this time around and I'll have a bigger one. I'm sure you'll be happy to be back there when it opens or will you be remaining in Montauk?"

"I'm getting out of Fort Hero as fast as management will let me. I spent twenty-four years underground. My new office," a basement one, "is enough to give me waking nightmares." The shudder that runs through Odessa's frame could be from that, or residual symptoms of the illness she's fighting off. "I'm gonna lobby hard to get an office with windows. Big ones. I don't even care if they open. I just want some sun."

Sun, which she turns her face up toward. "You'll put in a good word for me, won't you? I've worked myself sick over this vaccine project." Literally.

"Is there a reason Dr. Price, Odessa that I will need to put in a good word for you? Because right now, after my conversation with Dr. Blite, I'm worried. Very worried. Worried enough that I'm trying to touch base with other employees that I have manage and watch over. Because when I hear rumors of unhappiness in working situations and possible defection, it makes me nervous. You and I, I am sure, know that our bosses, don't like that either."

Which isn't a threat, there is genuine concern in Brennan's face and body language with regards to the white haired woman who's gotten to know his daughters and vice versa. "I'll fight for your windowed office regardless, even if it's a tiny one. Even if it means giving you mine." He had windows. Nice windows.

"Our bosses don't like me," she offers in response. "If that isn't a reason for needing a good word put in for me, I don't know what is." Helplessly, Odessa's arms drop to her sides. At least until she starts coughing again. Gently and into the crook of her bare elbow. Stupid flu. "I have absolutely zero intention of defecting. Our employers, Institute and Department alike, have something I want. And I won't get it if I f-" She corrects her language for the sake not drawing attention to herself with the harshness of it, "If I break ranks."

Odessa steps closer if only so she can lower her voice further, "I want to trust you, Harve." If he's going to call her by her given name… "Should I?"

"I think, that our bosses won't much like me either, if I wasn't a negator Odessa. I have a feeling they keep a good amount of us around because we are useful to them, and it wasn't you that I heard might defect" No, he'd heard of Odessa's name in connection with Humanis First. "Anyone who's taken the chance and trusted me Odessa, has yet to regret it. What sword are they holding over your head that's keeping your arms in their lab coat?" He lifts a hand, a gentle thump on her back to help her couch, habitual from having so many kids and so many colds.

Normally Odessa might find the gesture a touch patronising, but she accepts it for what Brennan intends it to be: one of comfort. "They took my ability. If I want it back, I don't dare step out of line." She turns away then, looking back out at the fierce hunters kept in cages. She feels like there's some sort of kinship to be correlated. "I've been trying to find the Formula. The basis of Project Icarus. It was such a profound disaster, though, that I'm having difficulty finding even traces of that research."

'Well, if that's not insurance to get someone to do what you want them to do… I don't know what is" Which means there's a very perturbed look on his face. "Temporary, or permanent?" And for that matter… "Because if it's temporary, can you imagine the storage closet with any other abilities belonging to people that they've done that to? Just go along the aisles with a shopping cart, oooh underwater breathing," he's attempting to inject some humor into a very crappy - is that even a good enough word - situation that she has found herself in. "Perhaps, disastrous projects that were seemingly shelved, should stay shelved" He oh so kindly points out. "So you're hoping that a word of good put in by me, might sway them to return it, if they can in fact return it?:

"As far as I can tell, it's permanent. It's been since February, and I haven't had so much as a glimmer of it…" White brows knit together. Odessa is distraught over it still. Understandably. "The bastard," whispered, "swapped me with a normal and then shot him. What if it's lost forever?" She doesn't mean for her fears to come pouring out to Brennan, but she can't help it. This is her very identity Odessa's mourning the loss of.

Brennan can't say that if he ever lost his ability, he would frankly miss it. It's just not something that he's using all the time. Though his usefulness to the institute might be questioned then. "So, verging on four months. I want to say that there's a possibility of them having it somewhere, or else why would they have bothered to keep you with the promise of returning it if you didn't step out of line? But there is that very real possibility that it might not. Which is sad. Because the girls loved it when you used it on them." Stopping time for a few minutes, letting them get a little wriggle and tease in or two at their good old dad frozen in spot in an awkward position.

"Perhaps, have faith, tow the line, avoid Humanis First members like the plague, don't defect, find a vaccine, get healthy and be the model employee, and who knows, if I put in a good word, they'll relent. Maybe, they might even have something up their sleeves and you'll be back to bending time to your will in no… time… oh that was a bad pun"

"I think it's gone," she says almost insistently. "I don't think they ever intend, or intended to give it back. I'm not sure what value they find in me this way… Except that the ranks haven't been informed of this, to my knowledge. Or I doubt they would have me stashed away in the E-Blocks." Or maybe it's why she's been relegated to Eltingville. "The way I see it… I don't want to live like this. If there's a chance I can reclaim my ability, I'm going to take it. Even though-"

The breath leaves Odessa's lungs as she straightens up, gaze wide and unfocused as a thought occurs to her suddenly. Then her eye lids and she winces. "Oh, my head is so stupid." Then, she smiles, pleased with herself. "Let's go check out the tigers, shall we?" She gestures for her boss to follow as she rather cheerfully, if still somewhat slowly due to the fact that her limbs feel heavy still, begins to move on from the lions.

"As for Doctor Blite, I can't say I know what her motives are. But if you think you have some clue… I'd appreciate if you enlightened me." Odessa glances back over her shoulder curiously.

"I will, when you tell me what that really glaring light bulb is about, that just went on over your head. I mean, I might need some sunglasses, it's that blinding" Tigers it is, and he turns and starts touring with her towards that area, glancing over his shoulder too to see what she might be looking for.

"Are we perhaps being followed?"

"No," Odessa's quick to assure. "Not to my knowledge, we aren't. I just… had a happy thought. I think I have an idea of where to search for information about the Formula." She might click her heels together if she had the energy.

Or were wearing ruby slippers? Brennan's brows rise, curiosity mixed with astonishment. He's not been privy or knew of what this formula was, but he's getting an idea. "As for Dr. Blite, her motives are not something that I will go gossiping about far more than I already have, but I would appreciate your discretion in keeping an eye on her for me? If she's dissatisfied with the institute, I'd like to be kept informed, especially since you will be working with her on something very important. It's in our best interest"

"Do you think she plans to leave? I have a lot at stake if she decides to play turncoat." And Odessa knows all about playing turncoat. She's already contracted a strain of the virus once. She needs Yana. "If you don't know anything to that effect, though, I have no current worries about her loyalties. She hasn't expressed any dissatisfaction with our working conditions. We're quite fond of our laboratory space and funding, actually." Funding is always a plus.

"She has spoken with others to that regard, of taking her… research and going elsewhere with it. Fear of being exploited, among other things. She hasn't spoken to you about any of this? At all? because she has apparently been vocal about it to others outside of the institute and it's made it's way to my ears and what has prompted me to contact employee's, see if anyone else is dissatisfied and how it can be remedied" Tigers are coming up and he's looking away from the signs and to the ability bereft woman. "Because I rather like who we have, at the moment and would be unhappy to loose anyone too"

"I had no idea she was thinking about taking our research and shopping it around." That's even the truth. As far as Odessa knew, they were just going to keep their discoveries quiet until the opportune moment. "She's been helping to treat me since I've taken ill. I've be very put out if she left." And inclined to follow her as well. "I'll talk to her tonight, though." She rests her arms on the fence, overlooking the tiger enclosure below. "I'll see if there's anything that can be done to ensure she stays with us… Who's she been talking to?"

"Someone that I'll let her tell you, if she chooses to" He's not going to out Devon directly to Odessa. "How about, we go see these tigers, those polar bears and then I have to go and pick up the girls from school, but please, feel free to stay longer, don't leave early on my account" Odds of him getting information out of Odessa, very little, but if she has a conversation with Yana, the hopefully if she's aligning herself with whatever it is that the other woman is planning, she'll think twice.

Surely the institute had a reason for doing what they did to Odessa? Maybe, maybe not. "Deal?"

"I understand." Odessa smiles, selling her complacency. "I trust that you'd tell me if you thought it would be beneficial, or if I were in any danger from whever she's leaking information to." To his plan, she nods her head once. "It's a deal. But you have to say hello to Michelle and the kids for me."

"You'll have to stop by for dinner. The girls would be delighted, ability or not." Likely will have a new eyepatch or two for the woman too. "Maybe I'll spring for a snowcone even" A wink, more levity, and a gesture to the tigers themselves. "come on. lets go enjoy seeing them in their captivity before we go back to ours"

Odessa stares down at the predators and grins. She flickers a brief look to Brennan out of the corner of her eye, suddenly sardonic in regards to herself.

Darkly she muses, "You know what they say about tigers and stripes…"

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