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Scene Title Twice
Synopsis After rescuing Des from Samson, Mara tends to her wounds and contemplates what could have been.
Date June 29, 2018

Staten Island Trade Commission

The silence has been long and oppressive.

When Odessa was first returned to her room at the Trade Commission, she passed out from exhaustion and strain on her ability. The fitful, dreamless sleep she experienced after the fact provided little rest. Come morning she discovers that she hasn't been alone all this time, and Mara has been by her side, treating her injuries. The tightness of an adhesive bandage over the gash on her brow a reminder that what happened wasn't just a dream, and that she's back from Oz.

It takes a while until Des finally feels free to speak again. But she doesn’t immediately. Instead, she fusses with clearing space on the bench at the end of her bed, clearing away a stray nightgown and a pair of shorts. They get dropped into a basket next to the wardrobe for now.

“I lived her life for a year.” Her voice is soft when she finally finds it, melancholy. “I understand why you want to go back so badly. Shit, I wish I could have stayed…” Maybe she’d have gotten some answers from Hiro. It strikes her that she doesn’t know if her counterpart will have even survived the encounter with the other temporal manipulator. The thought makes her sick to her stomach. She knows Odessa Woods wasn’t necessarily a good person, but if anyone understands what drove the choices she made…

“I wish I knew how to send you back.” Des sits heavily on the bench and stares up at Mara with sad blue eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry you can’t be with her. She needs you.” Without a moral compass, Odessa is dangerous.

Des sighs. “That man was Samson Gray. In this world, he murdered my parents, Colin and Rianna. I’ve never seen him quite like that before.” She shakes her head and winces, reaching up to gingerly touch her forehead, near the fresh stitches. “Everyone with the knack for it seems to understand that I’m broken and doesn’t want any part of whatever’s going on with my ability.”

Looking at the hand she'd struck Samson with, Mara flexes her fingers open and closed. “I don't understand,” is the understatement of the day, surely. “I don't understand how you came back, how you…” Mara closes her eyes and swallows noisily, saying nothing when Odessa speaks of her dead father. Instead, she asks a wholly different question.

“Why did he come after you?” Mara looks up from her hand to Odessa, then back down again. It's only in that moment that she remembers her daughter is injured. “I don't know what happened to your friend. I saw some blood, but she wasn't around. I…” Mara steps away, like she's looking for something.

“I don’t know either,” Des admits. “I was there, and then I was here. Just like how it happened in the first place. I think maybe my ability interacted with Hiro’s? But I wasn’t… I wasn’t trying to get back here at the time.” If anything, Des would have preferred to stay and hear what Hiro had to say. Not that she’s sad to be home. She’d just rather it had been on her own terms.

“I don’t know. When I… got back, there he was, taunting me about my father. That was his ability he used.” Her eyes roll upward to indicate the gash on her head. “Wait… My friend? There was someone else there with her— me?”

Mara doesn't quite respond, instead walking around Odessa’s room until she stops at the closet, then opens it and begins rummaging around like she suddenly knows what she's looking for. When she comes out with a first aid kit, Odessa is both certain she never had one in her closet, and equally certain it doesn't matter to Mara.

“Blonde,” Mara says as she turns back. “That's all I saw. Samson? He threw her off the roof. I saw her land in some bushes when I was climbing up the fire escape.” Coming over to Odessa’s side, Mara sets the first aid kit down and slowly opens it.

“You're still bleeding,” is the more concerned statement Mara has to offer.

“Shit.” Des’ first thought is Kaylee, but surely Mara would have recognized her. And Kaylee would have had resources to reach out for help. There aren’t many people Des can count among her friends these days. She’ll have to investigate later. Once she’s certain she’s no longer in danger.

Finally she seems to notice the line of red making its way down her forehead and brow from beneath her bandage. “That asshole’s the reason I wear bangs in the first place,” she gripes. The original scar can’t be seen now for all the blood and bruising now, but she knows it’s there. “Seeing you punch him was one of the most satisfying things I’ve seen in my life.” Next to Daphne clocking him with a bedpan.

“Mmn,” Mara vocalizes her uncertainty, taking out a small bottle of alcohol and a cotton swab, then peels off the temporary measure of the bandage from Odessa’s forehead, following that by dabbing the swab around the deep cut on her brow. “You're going to need stitches,” she explains, “and unless you want me to take you to Elmhurst, you're going to have to deal without painkillers.”

Mara leans back so that she can see clearly into Des’ eyes. “You're lucky he didn't kill you.” Blue eyes wander Odessa’s hairline, and Mara seems satisfied with how she's cleaned the wound. The cotton swab is set aside, and she begins to sift through the kit again.

“I’m sure going to Elmhurst would be a terrible idea,” Des confirms the unspoken question. She dutifully holds her hair out of the way, wincing at the antiseptic burn of the alcohol. “I ever tell you,” and by I, she means her other self, “that I stitched that one,” her pinky indicates the scar across one eyebrow, “by myself? I may as well have had Tylenol and a fishhook.” That’s an exaggeration, but she’s in a mood.

There’s a heavy sigh that comes with a sag of the woman’s shoulders. “I know. I know I’m lucky. I didn’t expect to be.” Des was fully prepared to die there on that rooftop rather give up the name of someone who could make Samson Gray even more unstoppable than he already seems to be. “If you hadn’t been there… How did you know?”

“I heard shouting,” Mara says with a raise of her brows, turning to rummage through the first aid kit, “noise travels far when there’s no cars of electricity to speak of. I looked out the window of the Trade Commission and saw you on the roof across the way. I got there as soon as I could.” Which is to say she wishes she got there sooner.

Finding needle and thread, Mara goes about sterilizing the needle and threading it, pausing to hand an old bottle of aspirin over to Odessa. “I don’t have a fish hook, so I hope this isn’t too unfamiliar for you.” One of her brows raises, affording a light moment given the circumstances as she runs the needle over the flame of her lighter.

Des takes the bottle and shakes out more pills than are strictly necessary. She gives herself a quick mental lecture, then downs them anyway. A cough precedes a chuckle at Mara’s moment of levity. “Small mercies, I suppose.” She adjusts her hold on her hair, making sure it’ll stay out of the way while the work is done.

Watching the needle until it’s ready, finally her eyes shift to stare across the room. “I’m glad you showed up when you did. Good thing she chose a meeting spot close by. But I can’t imagine who she could have been meeting. I… What’s happened?”

Mara eyes Des for a moment, one brow raised, and then raises her shoulders in a small shrug as she threads the needle. “Not much, it’s only been a week. I’ve been working, trying to… not get my hopes up.” About her daughter. About everything. “I tried to give you your space,” she says, not really differentiating between Odessas at this point.

“You know, I always wanted to study medicine,” Mara admits as she just starts stitching Des up without any preamble. “Unfortunately I never really had the time. I was more,” she rolls one shoulder, “on the other side of doctors.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know how it —” Des’ breath hisses between her teeth, but she avoids wincing. “Don’t know how it all works. How I spent so much time there while she barely spent any here. But… at least she knows you’re safe. I can imagine what she must have gone through not knowing.”

The mention that Kara wanted to study medicine nearly has Des raising her brows, but she catches herself, glancing back instead. “Really? I guess apples don’t fall far, huh? I don’t remember really wanting to, so much as being told I had an aptitude for it and that’s how it was going to be. But maybe I did in that way little kids talk about wanting to be astronauts or ballerinas.”

There’s another shrug as Mara works, hands steady and practiced as though Des isn’t the first person she’s stitched up. Given Mara’s occupation of punching people until money falls out, that doesn’t seem entirely surprising.

“You were cute,” Mara admits, “as a baby. What of you I can remember. Before…” she looks aside for a moment, then back to the wound, “before I lost you. Not really old enough to talk, or do much other than drool or…” her hands pause in their sewing for a moment, then pick up again. “Well, you get the idea.”

Somehow, she’s unsurprised that Mara would be good at this. Improbably, she’s probably good at just about anything she needs to be, Des supposes. She smiles faintly, seen more in her eyes than on her lips, as the other woman describes what Des was like as an infant. “I’m glad you thought so. I’m pretty sure all mothers are supposed to think that, but still. I’ve never seen pictures, so I’m not sure what I was like then.”

Des stares somewhere in the distance between herself and the wall. “I wonder if there’s a world where we didn’t get split up. I bet it’s much nicer.” Even if Mara isn’t her mother, or isn’t her real mother, it’s a nice thought. “Thank you for this, by the way. Much better than doing it myself in the mirror.”

“Erica had a saying,” Mara sidesteps the compliment with an anecdote, “there are as many worlds in the spaces between, as grains of sand on a beach. We just can’t see the beach for the grains, because we lack the ability.” Blue eyes come down to settle on Des’, and then back up to the nearly finished stiching. “I liked Ms. Kravid, I liked her daughter more. They were nice people and…” Mara’s shoulders shrug slowly. “Whatever Richard says about Pinehearst, Erica didn’t deserve being… “

Mara slowly trails off, brows furrowed and eyes cast to the side. “Whatever happened to everyone in Natazhat. Nobody deserves whatever that was…”

“I know.” Des doesn’t entirely understand what happened to the people there, but she saw what happened to Natazhat here, and that’s enough to make her shudder if she thinks about it too hard. “I never knew her, really. She was a name on an e-mail string. She always seemed… I don’t know, powerful? People seemed to respect her.” There’s maybe a touch of envy to that. “She’s still out there somewhere here. I don’t know where, but… I don’t know. I guess if she’s smart, she’ll keep it that way.”

Note to self: Don’t tell Mom you’d flip on Kravid to stay out of a noose.

Her gaze comes back to Mara. “I think Richard’s too hard on your world,” she admits. “I… It was a lot better than the life I have here.”

“It was better for a lot of us.” Mara admits quietly, returning her attention to Des as she finishes the stitch and then moves to the first aid kit to find scissors, leaving the needle and thread dangling from Des’ brow. “We had friends, you know.” Mara says as though that might be a surprise. “The Sandersons were nice — Adel and Josiah, brother and sister. Both went into the Marines, Josiah worked for Pinehearst security at Natazhat, Adel was a combat trainer at one of their specialty facilities.”

Returning with the scissors, Mara snips the end of the stitching, keeping the needle in hand. “I didn’t know Adel much, but you were passingly friendly with her. Josiah was married to one of your colleagues, Stephen Verse. Good kid, kind of quiet, immaculate beard.” That much has Mara raising a brow, looking back over to Des. “Josiah… was at Natazhat, but— did you get a chance to meet Adel or Stephen?”

Stephen Verse, whom she heard from Woods committed suicide in 2012, was the only one she’d even heard the name of.

“Ah…” Des considers for a moment, hoping it seems she’s doing her best to recall names. “No. I didn’t get the chance. I kept to myself as much as I could.” Even now, she isn’t sure how she got away with it. She wonders if James knew, deep down, but wouldn’t say it.

There’s an urge to ask if Mara knows what Odessa really does for Pinehearst, but there’s also a sense that it isn’t her place to ask. That it isn’t her place to ruin that delicate balance. If she knows, she’s comfortable with it. And if she doesn’t, then that’s probably for the best. “I’m going to help you get back, Mom. I think I got some good information while I was there. I just… I just need to sit down with Richard. Do you think you can get him out here?”

Making a face, Mara crosses her arms over her chest and looks askance at the first aid kit. There’s something in Mara’s expression, a knot of something cousin to worry but not quite as serious. Perhaps doubt? Des isn’t given much time to consider it, though, when Mara nods to the door to Odessa’s bedroom and opens it.

“I just saw him walking up from the street,” Mara says with a raise of her shoulders into a shrug. “God knows why he’d be out here, but…” she trails off on her way out the door, bound to greet Richard before he gets accosted by Alister.

Maybe Richard’s going to check on how things are going with the Staten Island Trade Commission for whatever reason, but he’s there making his way down the street. He’s dressed down from his executive gear, leather jacket and BDUs, a baseball cap in black without logo shadowing his face just in case.

Some people in this part of the island still might recognize him from the old days.

“Mara?” A startled greeting, straightening up, and then he’s following her into the place as beckoned, brow knitting beneath the brim of his cap.

When Mara leads Richard back up to her room, she just sits on the bench at the end of the bed and stares up a little dumbfounded. Mara’s ability works in mysterious ways, but Des isn’t about to complain about it.

“Hey,” Des breathes out, an uncertain little smile on her face. “I’m back.”

“I found your stray cat,” Mara notes with a jerk of her thumb over her shoulder at Richard, angling a look back at him with one brow raised as she steps aside to let him in. “I grabbed him before Alister could go off on a tirade about…” she hesitates, trying to imagine something, and just falls short. “I don’t even know. The sky?”

Mara’s brows furrow, and she turns blue eyes up to Richard, then glances at Odessa to gauge what the context of this meeting will be before really doing much else.

It takes a few moments for Richard to figure out what’s going on, and while there’s a perfectly logical reason for him to be here, there’s still something that seems mildly off. That most unusual woman gets a suspicious glance, but then as he’s ‘introduced’ to the room he stops dead in his tracks.

“Odessa? Wh— “ Then those words hit him, eyes widening slightly in shock, “Wait. Des?”

Give him a second to process, he’s had a lot to deal with lately..

Des brings one hand up to cover her mouth as tears well up and spill from her eyes. Oh, sure. She could keep it together for the stitches, but not for him. She pushes to her feet and crosses the distance between them to throw her arms around him in a tight hug.

“Oh, God. Richard, it’s been so long.” Has it? “I- I’ve seen Elisabeth.

“Des? You’re bleeding, what— “ Then she’s all but throwing herself against him, and Richard wraps his arms around her, pulling her in tightly against his chest and holding her there, even though he’s probably getting blood on his jacket.

It’s seen worse.

Fingers stroke through her hair, his eyes closed briefly as he presses his face against it, “It’s only been a month, I— what?” A slight jerk back as that strikes home, staring down at her with wide eyes, “You saw Liz?”

Arms crossed over her chest, Kara leans back against the wall and raises one brow. “I can tell you two have some catching up to do.” She leans away from the door, glancing at Des briefly, then a warning look to Richard because she's a parent and that feels appropriate, and then she's stepping out into the hall.

“Scream if I need to make him,” Mara notes with a smirk, shutting the door behind herself and letting them reconnect. After the door is shut, Mara takes both hands through her hair and exhales a ragged, shaky sigh. Twice, now, she's watched her daughter skip through her fingers and disappear into the sands of time.

As Mara leans up against the wall by the door, covering her face with one hand, she affords herself a moment to silently cry.

For a daughter she failed.


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