Two Roads Diverged


ff_des2_icon.gif richard5_icon.gif

Scene Title Two Roads Diverged
Synopsis While trying to express how much a person can differ across timelines, Richard decides Des may not be so different after all.
Date July 2, 2021

Delphi Scrapyard
The Mainland

It'd been a tense morning, but it gradually faded into an easier afternoon. The convoy may not be fully prepared yet, but people have earned a rest. During one such lull for him, someone is seeking Richard Cardinal out among the salvage yard.

He knows it, of course, because that's just how his ability functions. It helps that his pursuer isn't attempting to hide their movements.


It's Odessa's voice that he hears, and when he turns, he sees just what he's expecting: Captain Destiny with her countenance more youthful than his Des' was, when she still looked like she should. It's just that the call lacked the brightness he's come to associate with his ex's counterpart.

“Can we talk for a minute?” Des adjusts the lay of her hat for something to do with her hands while he makes his considerations.

The tension made have faded for others, but not for Richard; he’s found perched on a stack of milk crates just staring off into more or less nothing as if trying to figure something out. Or maybe he’s just disassociated.

At the sound of the voice, he glances over sharply– but it softens a moment later, and he forces a faint smile to his lips.

“Hey, Des,” he greets, trying to sound upbeat and failing, “What’s up?”

She smiles, a little awkwardly. “I, ah…” Des glances around, looking for something to sit on herself. There’s a barrel a short way away, empty, so she drags it closer to Richard’s perch with a quiet grunt of effort. It is too tall for her to simply sit down on, but she’s able to plant her hands on its top and push herself up that way. The motion is accomplished without facing her new seat or digging her heels in, quietly showing the strength she possesses. Her ship doesn’t run itself, and it’s not only maintained by her hired hands.

“Uhm, I wanted to talk about…” The corners of her mouth turn downward. “Odessa.” That subject may be a difficult one for her to address. It’s one thing to keep her own counsel, it’s another to discuss it with someone who actually knows something about it.

“Odessa?” Richard’s eyebrows both leap up over the edge of his dark glasses at those words, perhaps a bit surprised at the choice of topic. One hand comes up to scratch under his chin, his growing beard unfamiliar and perhaps a little itchy in its current stage.

“Okay… what did you want to talk about, about her? I suppose you mean the– one that I’ve known?” It’s important to make sure which Odessa they’re discussing, after all. There are so many!

“Yeah,” Des confirms, biting her lip. “I… I mean, I know some stuff about her?” She taps the side of her head. “But… Like…” This is clearly more difficult than she expected it to be. Her blue eyes cut away to study the picked over remains of a rusted and once cream colored Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.

“You were dating her, right?” The wince that follows that is immediate. It’s an awkward subject. “I assume was because there’s… There’s literally no way Odessa would let someone she loves just leave her like that again.” She looks over at Richard again. “You know? She’s — We’ve lost too many people we care about.” It’s clear Destiny is going somewhere with this, but that she’s rambling her way there.

“It’s okay.” Richard leans forward until his arms are resting on his thighs, and he offers her a faint smile, “Not a sensitive topic. We were, yes. Pretty much as soon as Liz got home, she left me; she didn’t want to share. I don’t blame her, I don’t hold it against her at all. Not everyone is comfortable with a relationship like that– Liz would’ve been fine with it, but O…”

He shakes his head, “So, she broke it off.”

“I’m sorry.” It’s an automatic response, but even as she takes a second to sit with it, Destiny doesn’t qualify it, or feel weird about having said it at all. “But, I… It means you know her real well, right?” Shifting in her seat, she picks at the cuffs of her coat absently.

Looking down at the snow-covered ground, she takes in a deep breath. “You know that she’s… She did some really bad things to people.” Wrapping her arms around herself, Des presses her lips together. “I remember some of it. I try not to think real hard about any of it.”

“She did,” Richard replies quietly, his chin dipping in a slight nod, “She… for a very, very long time she was in the hands of people that made her do very, very bad things, and told her they were the right thing to do.” A bit of a grimace twists across his expression, “More than one group of people. There are…”

He motions a bit with one hand, “There are people out there who never wanted to be bad people, Des, but whose situations turned them into them. They tended to get moved around from one group of unethical bastards to the next, because after the first, they couldn’t just go walking free anymore because of what they’d been convinced to do.”

“I tried to find some of those people. To help them. To give them another chance, to make up for what they’d done. Odessa was one of those.”

“But she did some of those things because she wanted to.” Destiny says that with such conviction. She would know. This has to be something she’s been grappling with for some time now. Maybe since Elisabeth managed to return home to him. “I never met her, but I looked at the other Odessa, from Arthur’s world—” Arthur’s world is spoken like it’s a term she’s memorized, rather than something that means anything to her. “— and saw… She was hurting, but she was mean. She liked being mean.”

Shoulders hunch up a little more, making Destiny seem smaller than she already is. “I wonder if that’s who I really am.”

Her.” Richard’s lips purse slightly, remembering the iteration that had briefly replaced his Des, “She… okay, if we’re talking about her…” He exhales a sigh, head shaking, “I think she was under Arthur’s guiding hand for too fucking long, honestly, and that man– “ He hesitates, then confesses, “He’s one of the few people that actually scares me. Still does. And I killed him already.”

“If there’s one thing Arthur was good at, it was nurturing the bad parts of people and making them bear fruit,” he says, “We all have those parts, Destiny, but that doesn’t mean they’re who we are unless we let it be. You didn’t have someone trying to turn you into a monster, so you didn’t become one. You’re a good person.”

Richard’s explanation of Odessa Woods’ faults as being attributable to Arthur Petrelli sees Destiny seeming to shrink into herself even further. “Mister Petrelli was really nice to me,” she says in a soft voice. “He was kind of like… Like an uncle, or something. I didn’t have to pretend to be someone else around him…”

Her brows slope, conveying more uncertainty. “So, if that’s what he was like… If he’s why she turned out like that…” There’s a haunted quality to those blue eyes when she looks across at Richard again. “What’s the difference? How can she and I have so much in common and you’re sure I’m not like her?”

“Because,” Richard says simply, “You wouldn’t be worried if you were, if you were.”

He shakes his head a little, “I’m– I’m pretty good at telling what a person’s like, Destiny. And, hell, maybe Arthur was different here too. Without the Company or any of that, although… heh, who knows. There’re more things under Heaven and Earth, as they say.”

“Shakespeare,” Destiny murmurs quietly. “Spades has read me that one before.” Her expression softens. It’s a convenient segue, isn’t it? “So, if I’m not like her…” He can surmise what she’s getting at, but she makes it clear anyway. “I can tell you don’t like Spades. Whatever he’s like there?

She smiles sadly, shaking her head. “He’s not like that here. And what you said earlier… It rattled him.” Blue eyes open wider, expression becoming more serious. She needs him to understand the importance of what she’s trying to say here. “It hurt him. And he’s mine.” There’s a beat. Then, “My crew. You can’t treat him like that. You can’t compare him against a him that’s not him.

Richard knows when he’s been set up, and this whole conversation was a set-up for this.

Damn. She is an Odessa.

There’s a startled beat… and then he breathes out a faint chuckle, one hand lifting to push back through his hair and his body leaning back. “Ah. So that’s where all that was going,” Richard murmurs, watching her for a moment as if reconsidering his earlier words, the softer look in his eyes fading.

Pushing off his perch to his feet, he straightens, shaking his head. “So… warning him that he should apologize to someone who has, and would, gut someone for a casual insult was something I shouldn’t do? Because I don’t recall saying anything else to your crew, Destiny. I guess, what, I should have let Marlowe cut his throat?”

He looks at her for a long beat. “I don’t care for the other him, no. He hit her. He controls her. And he feeds the part of her that all those other assholes have taught to be fed. And you and I both know that’s not that easy to separate those feelings– but I didn’t tell her to stab him, or cheer her on. I warned him to apologize, and I stepped in in case I needed to stop her. Maybe I was sharp, but when there’s someone with a knife, sometimes you’ve gotta be.”

“I thought you knew me better than that, Destiny, but– like you just reminded me, I guess.”

“None of us actually know each other.”

Turning, he starts to walk off. “Don’t worry. I’ll leave your ‘crew’ alone. For better or worse.”

“No—” Destiny starts to reply, but shuts her mouth, waiting for Richard to finish. Her eyes squinch shut, taking the verbal blows that come from that.

That’s not what I meant!” she blurts out suddenly, any potential satisfaction from her callout has evaporated. “No, that was… Telling him to apologize? That was just good sense.” Her eyes turn toward the sky. He hears her sneeze.

And then she’s in front of him suddenly. Destiny’s eyes are wide again, she looks beside herself with worry, with apology. “You called him that name.” Drawing in a breath, she lets it out hard before she can repeat it. “Callahan.

This is honest. Yes, she steered the conversation to this from the beginning, but she wasn’t meaning to be devious. The way she bows her head, her shoulders come up and she seems to cave in on herself with the effort it takes not to cry. Silently, she pleads with him with her expression when she looks up again. “I don’t know what the other… What Ace is like,” she admits. Whatever memories have bled from her previous connection, memories of that man aren’t among them. “But he’s just not. I’ve never seen him look distressed like that before.”

With an air of desperation, she flings her arm out toward where others have started to congregate. “Ask Eddie if you don’t believe me! I know you trust Edward…” Destiny hangs her head again. “Even if you won’t trust me now.” Regret is laced thick in her voice.

She’s there in front of him all of a sudden and he pulls up short, jerking back a step as if worried he’s about to walk into her. Then she’s trying to explain, and Richard just holds up a hand palm forward.


His jaw tightens slightly, “No, you don’t get to play wounded bird in a minefield then act surprised when someone gets hurt. You wanted to say that I shouldn’t use that name? You should’ve said that. You didn’t, and I’m– I’m fucking tired of this song and dance where people get away with a literal trail of bodies behind them but I use the wrong tone of voice and I get looked at like fucking Hitler.”

He moves to step around her.

“You’re right.” There’s no argument to be made there. “I should have just said that.” Destiny closes her eyes heavily. “I’m sorry. You aren’t… I just want you two to get along and I’ve gone and hecked it up.”

She presses her lips together and stands aside to let Richard pass. She can’t possibly understand the root of his pain — that’s another her that can’t quite reach her now. “You’re not a bad person. In fact, I know you’re one of the best.” Destiny has a few false starts before she actually manages to lift her gaze to Richard’s retreating form. “Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here.”

The girl from Odessa sighs heavily. “I’m sorry I was a jerkface.”

“If you don’t want to be like her,” Richard replies without looking back, “Then don’t try and act like her. Forge your own path instead. Take it from me.”

He shakes his head, sounding very tired as he keeps walking, “It’s habit forming.”

Destiny stands there, looking down at her shoes with misery seeping from her heart to run through her veins. It’s only once Richard is gone that she curls her fingers into fists, suddenly angry. Her face screws up, lips small and brows furrowed deeply. It’s a childish look, but a very real feeling of furiousness. But not quite with herself. It’s the very thing she fears…

“Why did I let you convince me that was a good idea?”

…poisoning the well.

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