Virgo and Aries


bella_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif

Scene Title Virgo and Aries
Synopsis Odessa has Bella over to her apartment to share a bottle of Riesling after work. The two end up sharing a fair bit more.
Date October 14, 2010

The Octagon - Odessa's Apartment

The apartments of the Octagon are among some of the most prime pieces of rental real-estate in New York City. Bright, open, and clean, these apartments are all painted an eggshell white and feature floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a sweeping, unobstructed view of the East River and Manhattan skyline. Hardwood floors spread from wall to wall and through the spacious bedrooms and private laundry rooms complete with washer/dryer utilities.

The open-concept kitchen in the apartment features stainless steel appliances, polished granite countertops, cherry finished cabinets and ceramic floor tile with all the convenience of a modern kitchen. The bathrooms are finished with classic subway wall tile and porcelain floor tile in bathrooms with elegantly designed corner-set curved showers providing more spacious shower area along with porcelain pedestal sinks.

Each apartment comes in two or three bedroom designs, each with spacious walk-in closets with individually controlled heating and cooling. The apartment is also set up with free Cable TV and Internet hook-ups in multiple locations.

Keys jingle merrily against each other as the one to Odessa's apartment turns in the lock. "Here it is," the woman of the house murmurs as she pushes open the door, revealing the small entry way and the kitchen first, with its granite surfaces and stainless steel appliances. Around the corner of that tiny hallway for stowing shoes, and the recessed coat closet, there's the living room. The furniture is very modern with clear lines and brushed aluminum frames paired with red upholstery that contrasts with the deep, black shag carpet creating a dark pool in the centre of the living room.

A coffee table sits in front of the couch, black legs and glass top surface gleaming in the cool white light overhead. A television has been mounted on the wall. It's large enough to suggest that the Institute pays her well, but small enough as to suggest that the television doesn't much interest her. A modest, low entertainment cabinet sits beneath the set. The Blu-ray player is new, if one judges by the lack of dust settled on it compared to the DVD player settled next to it. On the lower shelf is a VHS player, next to a Betamax of all things. Beneath that is a collection of films that can be played on any of the four pieces of equipment. Mostly in the romance genre. Call Odessa a sap.

Nestled in the corner is a tall book shelf, with a step stool nudged out of the way nearby, presumably so the short woman can reach the top shelves. Doctor Price's taste in reading material is widely varied. Medical journals and texts are of course present, but so are trashy romance novels, historical fiction, historical non-fiction, and several books on language. A gap in the neatly ordered books suggests that one on the study of Japanese is missing from the ranks of its brethren.

Of all things, a small harpsichord sits in front of the windows overlooking New York City. The view isn't as impressive from the first floor, but it doesn't give Odessa a sense of vertigo every time she looks out as it would on the upper levels. It's more than second-hand, but it's elaborately painted with a rich, but fading landscape across the inside of the lid. Lush trees with leaves turning their colours in autumn. It's been well-played, but also cared for. It's not nearly as nice as the one that originally followed the young doctor from Texas and to New York, but it's considerably less ash than that one is now.

"It's not much," Odessa says modestly, "but this is my new home. I've only just started really adding to it. Decorating it. I'm hoping I'll actually be here for a while." A small smile is offered as Odessa watches Bella's expression.

Odessa is a sap. But she's a sap with killer digs.

Bella's own apartment, even back when she lived in civilization (as opposed to Chelsea) was never this swanky. It never even had anything quite like personality. Whatever her paycheck (which Bella does not discuss, always taught that the topic was taboo) she must squirrel away most of it, because this is quite positively luxury in comparison to the modest, minimalist yuppie lifestyle Bella maintained. And now continues to maintain, despite circumstances and a suddenly acquired taste for weird art.

And so while Bella would have made herself look impressed by most anything she was shown, the actual contents of Odessa's apartment requires little in the way of fakery in her expression. This is nice. Like Odessa's fashion, too bold for Bella to actively wish for herself, but worth envying in its sheer quality and particularity.

It's also a real coup, psychologically. People inhabit spaces that reflect themselves, both who they are, and who they want to be.

"Oh, this is just perfect. So you," she flashes Odessa a grin, "I love it."

The redheaded doctor moves first to the books, the best place, she finds, to create common ground. She sets a hand very lightly on the shelf and peruses the titles. The trashy romances draw something of a smile from her. She didn't expect them so much as she is unsurprised. In a lesser individual, Bella might have it in herself to disdain someone for having these. In the case of Odessa, it only manages to make her appreciate the woman more. Not an uncommon experience with the wunderkind surgeon, by now.

"I wish I had met you while I was still apartment hunting," Bella says, turning to favor Odessa with a wry smile, "I may end up living here anyways, if you're not careful. My God…" Remember, compare this to her current living situation.

Odessa shrugs and locks the door up behind her, setting her keys and a small, old-styled doctor's bag on the kitchen counter. She scratches the back of her neck and watches Bella peruse her collection of books. "I really didn't have much choice in living here, quite honestly. There wasn't any hunt. Agent Harper just kind of showed up with some paperwork and said Congratulations, one-oh-eight is open and yours. And here I am."

The fridge is opened up and Odessa roots around inside for a few moments before asking, "Riesling okay? I've got a bottle I've been wanting to open." She turns around with the blue-tinted bottle in her hand, holding it up for Bella's benefit.

"I guess I couldn't live here anyways," Bella says, on further reflection, 'consoling' herself, "not being Evolved." She looks over towards Odessa, "I dated this guy who asked me if I'd artificially induce SLC manifestation in myself if I had the means," she lifts both her brows, tone momentarily wry, "it was a rather strangely specific hypothetical, I admit," and then back to her normal tone, "and I said no. I feel like, as a psychologist, it helps me remain objective if I'm not. If I were… with all this legality and, frankly put, oppression and control, I'd have to have a sort of personal stake that would make it hard for me to do my job. And do it well, actually help people."

The bottle is take in both hands, lightly, for a moment, so Bella can investigate the label, "Oh… this is a very nice brand. I think I've had it before. Yes, this would be wonderful," she reaches up to her jacket pocket and taps it, "and I have my California prescription handy, if we need to top off the wine." She moves towards the couch, then pauses, "anything you need a hand with? Sorry if my manners are off… I… haven't done this in a long time."

"Oh, you're fine," Odessa assures Bella, setting the bottle on the counter so she can root around in a drawer for a corkscrew. "And yes, actually, I think I'd rather like to try that stuff again." Aha! There it is! She makes quick work of opening the bottle and pours a glass each for her and her guest.

"You're welcome to stay over any time, you know. Like if you're working late and curfew's an issue and all." Odessa holds one glass out to Bella, extended as the invitation. But she doesn't really wait for an acknowledgement of it before moving on to the next topic. "I actually smoked a cigarette the other day. There was this kind of cute guy on Staten that offered one to me, so I took it. It's way different than smoking… One of yours."

Bella takes her glass, but keeps it outheld, like she's prepping for a toast. "I've never smoked tobacco," she says, as if admitting she's never been on a plane, "I always found nicotine to be an inefficient drug. Caffeine is less addictive and about as stimulating…" she gives a rueful smile, "sorry, I'm a pill pusher. I think about it that way…

"Who was this guy? Think you'll see him again?" Bella sounds quite interested. Love life discussion is a vice she doesn't often get to enjoy. She swirls her wine glass. "Come on, clink glasses. No toast, just celebration. Then we can drink."

"I agree with you completely," Odessa says with a quick nod. Bella's preaching to the choir on this one, it seems. "I just wanted to blend in. I mean, if you're in a bar on Staten Island," though that's kind of being almost too kind to the Angry Pelican, "and you're aren't smoking… I was already in a sweater dress and heels. I really had to do something."

Glasses clink and Odessa lets out a little giggle before she drinks from hers. "If he gets shot, he'll probably call me. I gave him my number and told him I'm a ripper. A street doctor. I maybe hinted he should call even if he doesn't need a doctor." Odessa's smile doesn't quite reach her eye. "He probably won't call."

Bella arches her brow over her wineglass as she tips it against her lips. A sizeable sip is taken - the polite side of 'party drinking'. An unhurried stroll towards drunk. "I am not being your therapist tonight," she says, "but as your friend, I have to say… you can't not know you're sabotaging yourself. If you want to attract someone who's not a total weirdo, you need to do two things - date outside work, and not bring your work outside with you."

Odessa winces. "I like you better as my friend, I'll have you know. Not that you aren't one hell of a therapist." She holds her glass carefully in one hand and lifts up the bottle in the other. "Shall we?" She gestures toward the living room and heads over to the couch to take a seat. "I've never really dated much period, Bella. It's not like I realy know what I'm doing anyway. I don't know how to attract a guy. It just kind of happens. I guess?"

"Despite your body image problem, which I understand the reasons for but know is crazy, you just have to be as sexy and intelligent as you are and someone worth your time will find you. If you want someone not worth you time, but to whom you plan to give little time at all… hide the fact you're intelligent," Bella advises, with a certain sageness, "I've only ever dated. Never lived with a guy, never even considered getting engaged. I had shit to do, a career. And men are so fucking stupid, frankly. Even the smart ones. And that's the good ones - the bad ones are stupid and assholes."

Bella takes another decent swig of wine as she gives chase, following Odessa into the living space. Living space. If only she were Evolved… and not living with a fugitive.

"You really wouldn't give yourself an ability if you could, just because you want to stay an objective therapist?" Odessa wrinkles her nose and kicks her shoes off to let them rest under the coffee table before bringing her feet up to tuck under her, smoothing out her long skirt absently for want of something to do with her hands. "I have every confidence that you would adapt, you know, and learn to either keep doing as you are doing, or you'd develop a new method and still be amazing. I can't see you as anything less than amazing." Apparently talking about Bella's career is easier for Odessa than talking about relationships. It's somewhat unsurprising, really.

"What… wait? We're talking about that now?" Bella says, blinking. She noticed. Hard not to. She had almost forgotten about mentioning that little fun fact. In fact, she had. Odessa just reminded her. "I just… it's like… the worst thing I could develop was telepathy. I'd hate that, that would be the worst. It would fuck up the whole virtue of my work. To process, not to just… go in and enforce some rigidity of my own."

She jabs a finger at Odessa, before pushing off her own shoes and mirroring the white-haired woman's pose. "But don't think you can get away from the topic. What do you want, do you think? A real relationship, or just sex? It's a serious consideration, both have their benefits and drawbacks."

"I tried to get funding so that I could figure out how to give myself more ability," Odessa confesses with a smirk to her lips. "I wouldn't change who I am, what I can do, for anything. But I certainly wouldn't mind adding to it."

Odessa leans back and regards Bella through a half-lidded eye. "I don't know. I may not be cut out for a relationship. I've only really… There aren't many guys out there who get someone like me. And those kinds of men? Are the kinds I'd find at work. You see my dilemma."

Bella gives a slow nod. It's… fair. "You can't really be with someone unless they know all about you, about your life… and there is a lot to 'get'." She pauses, shakes her head. "It's a real standard issue snafu. You need someone halfway normal, someone you can rely on. Trust. And I have to believe that someone exists. You'd be amazed. I don't at all believe in soulmates. I don't even believe in souls. But I feel like it is statistically likely that there is someone out there who would be good for you. Finding them… that's the hard part."

Odessa mulls over what Bella says, opting for several small sips that accomplish just as much imbibing as one of Bella's larger ones. "Well, are you seeing anyone? Sleeping with anyone? Got your sights set on anyone? You seem to have yourself way more together on this front than I do. You have prospects?"

"My situation is complicated," Bella says, sounding like Facebook (which she does not use, and doesn't know the reference to), "It's not something I try to overthink. Given, I do overthink it, because that's what I do. But I don't try," she shrugs, "I'm at a point in my life where I basically need to find something that seems to work on some fucking level. Like this," she gestures between them, "is grossly inappropriate for a therapist and a client. But I'm not interested in those weak ethical boundaries, not after what I've done and not in this situation. I need a friend. I'm not going to sacrifice you to my already bankrupt principles."

The girl with one eye laughs. She can appreciate Bella's predicament as much as Bella appreciates hers. "I could tell Harper to fuck off and that I don't need a fucking therapist, you know. Then there'd be no conflict and you could claim to still have something of your ethical code." Odessa curls her lip. "I don't really need a therapist, you know. I'm fine." Though the way she feels the need to assert this probably implies that she isn't.

"I think professional help within a professional setting can and will be helpful to you," Bella asserts, quite firmly, "and I think I'm the person best equipped to give you that help and to create that setting. Our situation is wildly unusual. Far outliers on the bell curve. We can't adhere to standard practice and expect results."

Odessa squints and takes a long drink from her glass. "Maybe," is as close as she comes to relenting. She may trust Bella, but this doesn't mean her entire opinion on psychology and psychiatry has changed. "Fuck, like… Expected behaviours and fucking guidelines. They're… stupid." Her hand is waved dismissively and she makes her latest decree, "Bring out the weed!"

"This I can do," Bella says, smoothly, smugly almost, and she reached into her jacket, extracting a silver cigar case. She pops it open and slides a long joint into the table. She stows the case and grabs a lighter from the same pocket. She motions to Odessa, "Want the first hit? It's pretty harsh on a jay, I can start if you'd rather." Lapsing into cannabis lingo as easily as into therapy lingo. Two sides of her coin.

Odessa flashes a curious look to the jay. "You'd better go first, I think. I mean, this is still only my second. So… I'm totally gonna let you take charge on this." She polishes off her first glass of wine and pours a second. She rakes her long fingers through her shaggy hair, shaking it out habitually before tipping her head against the back of the couch. "Just two years ago, I'd have never thought I'd be sitting on a couch in my own apartment with Doctor freaking Sheridan, smoking marijuana." The smile is evident in her tone even if Bella doesn't glance back to see it on Odessa's face. "Life is funny."

"It is, rather," Bella remarks, voice rather wry, "at least if you're into gallows humor and the absurd." She takes the joint in hand and sets it between her lips. The lighter flickers into dancing life, shielded from the unkind world by Bella's cupped hand, protective. Bella's chest rises as she takes a very long toke, getting the joint burning. She plucks it from her lips, momentarily checks to see that it's not canoeing, then offers it up to Odessa. She hasn't exhaled yet, and when she speaks its in a weird, hoarse voice that causes only small whisps of smoke to escape from between her lips. "No better partner than a doctor. I only get medical." And then she exhales, the pale smoke billowing upwards into the space between the women.

"If I weren't into gallows humour, I wouldn't have made it this far," Odessa reasons. She watches Bella when she speaks, the smoke making small streams past her lips. "That looks so weird when you do that." She takes another long drink form her glass of wine and giggles quietly. "How do you do that without coughing?"

Bella cracks a grin. Joints hit fast. Plus she's been working at the wine and is in good company. "Lung damage," she answers, offering the joint to Odessa, "though I do own a vaporizer. Not a mobile one, though. I might invest. I live well within my means." Her eyes dart around the surroundings again. Impressive. "Though being here makes me wonder if a certain indulgence might not be called for…"

Odessa takes the joint carefully between her thumb and forefinger, mostly like she's seen in photographs or on film. It looks awkward, the way she does it. "Lung damage," she repeats flatly, but not with any annoyance, insult, or judgement. "What's a vaporiser?" she asks quietly before bringing the jay to her lips and sucking in a short breath.

"Make sure you breath from the diaphragm!" Bella exclaims, seeing the smallness of Odessa's toke and being, at this level of toxicity, unable not to backseat-smoke a little. The stoner grip is just fine. You think those Hollywood libertines don't have plenty of personal experience? Goddamn California. "I'm joking. Sort of," comes her reply, after a bit of a pause, "and, what's a-? Um… it's a device that heats air to the exact vaporization temperature for THC crystals. They turn into pure THC vapor. No burnt plant matter, no ash, no lighter fumes. Just air and THC." Yes… this doctor is informed. It's part of being a… medical professional. Honestly. "The high is very different. More like eating it."

But she is not just going to do stoner shop talk. She lifts a hand pointing to the shelf of books. The one she perused before. "Pick out your favorite of each type," Bella says, or rather commands, though it actually sounds more like a dare, "each type. Your 'best hits'."

Odessa chokes a little bit when Bella gives her advice and her attempts to correct it result only in her throat constricting sharply. It's followed up by a short series of coughs. "Yikes," the younger doctor groans, thumping a hand against her chest as though to expell the lingering effects. "I'm okay."

A sceptical glance is sent Bella's way when she directs Odessa to pick her favourite books. She passes back the joint. "Why?" Regardless, she's setting her glass on the coffee table and rising up to go to her book shelf and make her selections.

"It's good, it's good, the coughs damage your bronchia and the drug enters your bloodstream faster," Bella says, like this is so comforting, "you'll get higher faster. It's the newby's gift." She leans forward, taking the joint back and taking a more casual puff. She's good where she is. Maybe a little more wine would be good, but… cruising at about this altitude.

"Because I want to get to know you," is her answer, smartly spoken, "it's a friendship behavior that's less inane and more analytical than most." The wine glass rises to her lips, held in her un-jointed hand.

"You're weird," Odessa murmurs somewhat drunkenly over her shoulder, with a wide grin to go with it. She returns to the couch with a short stack of books. A small study on astrology. A larger and far more scientific book on astronomy. A romance novel titled Mean Heat, still bearing a bookmark to suggest it isn't done. And finally two very similar textbooks - one on French, and the other on Japanese. "Here." The stack is set on the table in front of Bella in favour of Odessa reclaiming her wine glass.

"Like knows like," Bella replies, with just a touch of smirk. Her eyes fall to the books as they are set on the coffee table between them. "Hmmm…" as she considers the covers, the titles. "Astrology? Do you do it for fun, for serious, or both?"

While she waits for an answer, she sets her wine glass down and starts to draw the books towards herself, one by one, examining them.

"Fun. It's a recent addition to my collection. I've recently discovered I'm an Aries. It's kind of fun to see what vagueries people think describe my personality and life goals," Odessa admits with a shrugs. She's not ashamed of it, at any rate. "I got bored sitting around the house before Agent Harper assigned me."

"I'm a… what am I?" Bella says, frowning, trying to remember. That sort of thing was never big at her home. Her father was a die hard rationalist. Santa Clause didn't last long in the Sheridan house. "My birthday is September 4th. I'm just one and a half months into 30," she refuses to make a face or seem ashamed about this, almost pointedly, "so what does that make me? Look it up?" She picks up the book and offers it to Odessa.

Odessa takes the book and pages through it to a chart. She sucks her lower lip between her teeth for a moment, tracking with her finger to make sure she's reading the correct lines. "You're a Virgo!" she proclaims. Then, she squints. "I guess I can see that."

"The virgin?" Bella says, a brow tilted at an almost jaunty angle, "I understand it's not literal, but… what is that supposed to represent," she leans forward quickly ashing the joint in the smaller end of the cigar case before pressing it out, saving the rest for later, "about me? Exactly?"

"Yeah, the virgin." Odessa snorts at the notion. Like either of them are virgins. Though, to be fair, she was until about two years ago, so she doesn't have much to laugh at. She flips to the entry and follows the words with her fingers. "Virgo is the sixth astrological sign of the Zodiac," she quotes. "Virgo is considered a feminine, introvert sign. Virgo is traditionally ruled by the planet Mercury…" She presses her lips together and skips along, past the boring stuff, as she sees it. "Generally the Virgo sign is considered to be compatible wiiiith… The other signs such as, Capricorn, Taurus, Cancer, and Scorpio. And mutable signs such as, Gemini, Sagittarius, and other Virgos. They're earth signs." There's a bit of a shrug. She doesn't really understand what all that means.

"Really? So I'm… feminine and introverted? Or… is it just the sign and that means something else for me. Is any of this counter-intuitive? I…" she hides a smile behind her hand, "obviously have no idea. Sorry. I think I'm a little stoned. So okay… what does it say about Aries and Virgos? What does that book predict for our relationship and general professional collegiacy."

"Jesus Christ," Odessa mutters, tossing the book aside carelessly. "I don't even know. Words look funny." She waves a dismissive hand and reaches out toward Bella. "Gimme that blunt. …Thing. Whatever you people call it." You people, in this case meaning regular pot-smokers.

Bella's hand snakes out to snag the book and she begins to rifle through it. She nods to the cigar casing, in which sits the snuffed out jay. The light lies nearby as well. Engrossed as she is, Bella is bidding Odessa embrace her destiny and take her first self-lit puff. At least that Bella knows of. "Um… Virgo… Aries… Virgo… Aries… here!" She grins and begins to recite, in smooth 'sci-fi announcer lady' voice:

"Understand that these two signs are not the best match for they may experience frustrations with one another frequently. This combined energy spells out the words adjust and adapt. The methodical approach of Virgo goes against the natural grain of Aries enthusiastic spirit, smothering the Aries flames. The other side of the coin is that Virgo may view the Aries as far too impatient and abrupt, not capable of handling affairs as exact or precise as Virgo will."

Bella looks up from the book at Odessa, smiling impishly.

Odessa looks up from where she's fumbling with the lighter, with the joint held between her lips. She brings two fingers up to pinch it in a vee before she shakes her head with a doubtful expression. "That doesn't sound like me at all," she asserts. Of course, the funny thing is that it does sound like her. It sounds a lot like her.

That single blue eye rolls back as the lighter flicks until a flame is struck. "Astrology's fuckin' stupid anyway," Odessa grumbles. She takes a deep breath this time, much less hesitant than the last. She's determined not to choke on the smoke this time, like an expectation of what's to come will somehow quell the body's natural reactions. She does manage only to cough twice this time, at least.

Bella half lowers her eyelids and does a Megan Fox face, before reciting the next lines in a 'Jessica Rabbit' lounge singer voice, "Aries can find themselves singing the song, 'No one knows what goes on behind closed doors', as Virgo can be one of the most sensual signs in private, if the mood and setting is right." And then the redhead snorts laughter, tossing the book with a flick of her wrist, sending it spinning at Odessa.

"That was a real hit. Nicely toked," Bella says, sounding genuinely impressed, "I wish I had a stereotypical wise chinese master thing to say right now but… I just know the archetype. By cultural osmosis."

"Thanks," Odessa rasps, catching her breath as smoke streams past her lips. "My head feels funny, Bella," she murmurs airily. But she giggles. "It's kind'a fun." She offers the jay back across to the ginger.

"Could I ask you something? I mean, we're both women of science. And we see the…" Odessa trails off and stares at the ceiling for a moment. A long moment. One might wonder if she's forgotten she was speaking at first. "Value!" is suddenly offered, as though the word tumbled from the rafters and into her mind. "The value of experience."

"For the most part, yes," Bella says, head tilting. What precisely is Odessa getting at? She's rarely indirect. "It depends on the experience though. I'd say there are some experiences, however valuable, that I'd rather not have to have. Getting fleas, for example. But I think there is some value in every experience, and it's one's task in life to find it."

Her lips quirk to one side in a lopsided smirk as she reclaims the joint and, before taking another draw, asks, "and yes, you absolutely may ask me something."

Odessa laughs heartily at the thought of either she or Bella enduring an infestation of fleas. She slings one arm around her midsection and tips her head back until the giggle fit subsides. "No, no. Nothing like that. That would just suck."

Her cheeks tinge pink, more so than they did from the white wine consumed, and Odessa glances away nervously. "Would you kiss me?" Then her gaze comes back to meet Bella's. "You see, I've never really kissed a woman before, and, purely scientifically, I wonder if it's any different than, you know… Kissing a man."

That… Bella wasn't expecting. In the brief (but not too brief) pause before she speaks is spent rapidly contextualizing things. Where they were (Odessa's place). Who they were (ethically ambiguous friends/coworkers/therapiates). Who else was there (no one). And all this adds up to:

"I have one questions in return, before I answer yours. Sorry to be bossy but, hey… I'm the supply, you're the demand," Bella is, at least, still joking, not seeming uncomfortable at all, "Is this purely an experiment for you? At least, to the best of your knowledge?"

Odessa relaxes visibly when Bella doesn't simply get up and start gathering her things. Though she didn't truly expect that to happen. It would seem that Odessa suspected that of all people, Bella would understand the nature of her request. Or at least understand how easy it would be to turn it down.

"I… It's just an experiment to me," the younger woman voices somewhat timidly, though not entirely hesitantly, as she threads a strand of white hair behind her ear. "I'm pretty sure that I'm straight. I mean, I think I am. You're… pretty and all. I mean, you're beautiful, but I don't, like…" Odessa takes a deep breath, rolling her eyes at herself as she takes a moment to compose her thoughts. "Words are hard," she adds as a caveat.

"You're beautiful. And I trust you. And a good friend once suggested to me that there may be a woman out there for me. But the best way to find out if that is even really possible is to discover if kissing a woman feels wrong, correct? And it's just…" Odessa frowns and tips her head from one side to the other slowly, jumbling or unjumbling her thoughts. "You said you'd… Done stuff before. With girls. So, I thought… I mean, you can say no. It's no big deal. We'll go back to talking about books."

Bella is giving Odessa a pretty seriously considering look. Hard to pull off when you've this much cotton in your brain. Of course, it's not that she's not thinking, it's that she's overthinking. Trying to figure out what each course of action might mean. And what course of action is best in line with her principles, a thing she's been trying to have something vaguely like nowadays. Just to alleviate the boredom.

"Okay," she says, with that overriding air of 'all that rambling can be off the books', "I'm honored, actually." Bella puts out the joint again, then scoots over in Odessa's direction, crossing half the distance. She makes a small 'come here' motion with her hand. She looks calm, unperturbed, unruffled. "The kiss is no big deal. The trust is. The trust I care about."

"I trust you," Odessa reiterates in a soft, sort of squeaky voice. She scoots forward on the couch, a symbolic motion of meeting Bella halfway and then leans forward. Her face is hot, cheeks red from booze and embarrassment, but she isn't backing out. She won't back down. She tilts her head slowly to one side, anticipating.

If this is a bad idea, it certainly can't compare with the much worse ideas Bella has had and acted upon in the past. Perhaps not the best way to view each decision, but hey, at least it's a system. The redhead leans in, head tilted at a complimentary angle. By what is effectively sheer muscle memory, Bella lifts her hand to cup Odessa's cheek as she kisses the other woman. It's unhurried and soft.

At first, Odessa is hesitant. Her lips closed, her eye open. But after a moment, that starts to change. She shuts her eye and threads her fingers through Bella's hair and leans into her. Her lips part and her tongue darts out experimentally to taste.

The dab of her tongue it met with a parting of Bella's lips, and in moments, Odessa can feel Bella's own, gently exploratory. There is the slightest shift in Bella's hand, giving an almost imperceptible brush against Odessa's skin.

Perhaps Odessa is surprised to discover that there really isn't terribly much different about kissing a woman than a man. And she could maybe come up for air and talk about it in some sort of scientific manner - if she could find the words in her mind currently. But the fact of the matter is that she really doesn't want to talk about the differences or lack of them. She wants to continue doing.

Odessa's other hand comes up to curl around the side of Bella's neck, fingers brushing through the red locks at the nape. She presses close enough that she almost threatens tipping Bella backward.

Easy enough to get lost in the experiment. To want, instead of reflecting, to discover more. Such curiosity can only be commended. Bella's lips curl (as best then can while so occupied) in a smile, though it can't sustain itself as the other woman presses closer. There's a moment of tension in Bella's body, Odessa can feel it this close. Then the redhead presses back for a moment, and gently turns her head, parting their lips without pulling back. The tension is mostly gone. Mostly.

"So… what do you think?" she says, and it's not like she can hide the undercurrent, both humorous and tense (but mostly not!), in her voice, "can you find any value in it?"

At first, Odessa seeks to pursue Bella's retreat, wanting to drag her back in. But there's something to be said of boundaries, and this is one of them. She leans back and darts her tongue over her lower lip, still tasting wine, marijuana and Bella there. "Yes," she murmurs breathily. "Definitely. Wow. Uhm…"

Odessa rakes her fingers through her hair and then laughs nervously. "I thought it would be weird. Like it would feel alien or wrong or like completely like it couldn't work at all. But…" She offers a genuine smile. "Thanks."

It flatters Bella, to be so pursued. And Bella has long been an appreciator of flattery, however lightly she behaves when receiving it. As space seeps back between them again, Bella reaches out to take the hand Odessa just ran through her hair, clasping it with a clearly communicative tightness.

"Nice, isn't it? Better when you realize it's not just another man at the other end. No worries about being disrespected. No shame," her smile is just a touch rueful, "I have had phases," she reiterates, "not many, and rarely very long lived but… there is something to it.

"And it was my pleasure, really," she adds, saucily, "I am pretty sick of stubble."

Odessa nods her agreement, her smile growing a little warmer now that she's assured that this wasn't a huge mistake on her part. Or that her enthusiasm wasn't off-putting.

"That was really nice, actually," she admits. "I mean, you've obviously got a lot more experience than I have," and she doesn't make it sound like a bad thing. "I… If… Uhm… If you go through another phase," Odessa blushes again, shifting her gaze nervously. "Well, I wouldn't mind if you would want to give me a bit more experience."

Bella's thumb brushes over Odessa's knuckles and she shifts to the side to try and chase Odessa's gaze. "If we get to that kind of point in our relationship," she says, still smiling, not blushing but certainly glowing a little, "and I am in such a phase," she carries the emphasis as a joke now, as if that's just how you have to talk about such phases, "I would certainly have to seriously consider it. Though don't be afraid to do some field work of your own."

There's a slow nod when Odessa looks back over to Bella and mulls over her words. "How do you even keep eye contact when—" Her lips twist into a small frown, gaze holding some mock accusation. "You aren't even embarrassed by this in the least, are you? How do you manage that? I'm all aflutter inside and I feel weird." She pauses and considers for a moment. "But maybe that's just the pot."

"Why should I be embarrassed?" Bella says, arching her brow like Odessa's just said something inexplicable, expressing surprise at the blueness of the sky, or the wetness of the ocean. "I just got asked to bed by a beautiful, accomplished woman for whom I have the greatest respect. I think I'm only allowed to feel pride, gratitude, and maybe little self-ass-patting." She smirks at Odessa, "I think you haven't gotten off properly in a while. It can put you on hair trigger all of a sudden."

Odessa's face scrunches up in a small grimace. "Is is that obvious?" She brings her free hand up to rub at her forehead, lifting the strap of her eye patch just enough the bring her finger beneath to scratch at the line it forms on her skin. "It's not just that. I mean, I would never do that. That would… I wouldn't just ask to kiss you because I'm lonely. You deserve better than that." Her voice goes quiet, though. Worried that her friend might not believe that.

"Of course not," Bella says, and without the urgency of a reassurance. She states it with the plainness of a common fact. Much as she treated the fact of her lack of embarrassment. Odessa's worthiness and depth of feeling doesn't seem to in any way questioned. "But the flutter inside… that's at least a little because of your dry spell. I mean, I'm certainly not going to insult myself by saying that's the only reason." She draws Odessa's hand into both her own, clasping it between. "And even if you were just lonely, as a friend I don't see the harm in helping you feel less so."

"R- Really?" The colour returns to Odessa's cheeks with a vengeance. She doesn't look away this time, fairly certain that Bella would just reach up and turn her chin again. "Would… Would you like to stay the night?" She bites her lip, brows lifted. "I'd feel better just to have someone beside me again, even…" It's a struggle to keep from letting her gaze drift about the room, but she does an admirable job of focusing right on Bella's eyes. Or at least a point very close to it on her face.

Bella holds the gaze, respecting the effort Odessa makes and trying her best not to look back in a way that feels like staring wanting no pressure placed on her companion. "As friends?" she says, the interrogative very faint but still audible, "if you feel it would help, of course. I'd be happy to. More than happy." Bella was looking at going home to an empty apartment. This is… definitely preferable. However unexpected. There is a brief pause. "I'll have to borrow pajamas. And a toothbrush."

"Not a problem. Colgate sells them in packs of two," Odessa offers as a way of saying that yes, she has an extra toothbrush. "I… Bella. We're friends, and I'm asking you this kind of as a favour to me," Odessa admits, turning her head away just slightly now, feeling ridiculous in the way that she's been forcing herself to pretend she isn't awkward. "But I want you to stay because you want to stay." She looks back, concern etched in her features.

Bella's brows both lift, and then she chuckles, shaking her head. Back and forth, four times, before she leans forward and kisses Odessa lightly on the cheek. Parisian, rather than French. The other side of the spectrum. "Show me what fantastic sleepwear you have on hand. I've been dying for an excuse to borrow your clothes."

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