odessa4_icon.gif samson2_icon.gif

Scene Title Wasteful
Synopsis Someone takes offense to a stolen kill and its subsequent presentation.
Date December 1, 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. The view isn't as impressive from the first floor, but it doesn't give someone with a fear of heights a sense of vertigo as it would on the upper levels. Hardwood floors spread from wall to wall and through the spacious bedrooms and private laundry rooms complete with washer/dryer utilities.

The small entry way leads into the open-concept kitchen with its stainless steel appliances, polished granite counter tops, cherry finished cabinets and ceramic floor tile with all the convenience of a modern kitchen. 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 aluminium frames paired with red upholstery that contrasts with the deep, black shag carpet creating a dark pool in the centre of the 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, large enough to suggest that the occupant is paid well, but small enough as to indicate that the television doesn't hold much interest. A modest, low entertainment cabinet sits beneath the set, equipped with a Blu-ray, DVD on the first shelf, a video cassette and Betamax player on the next. The Blu-ray player is new, if one judges by the lack of dust settled on it compared to the other components. Beneath that is a collection of films that can be played on any of the four. Mostly in the romance genre.

Nestled in the corner is a tall book shelf, with a step stool nudged out of the way nearby, presumably so the short woman who lives here can reach the top shelves. The reading material is widely varied. Medical journals and texts are present, but so are trashy romance novels, historical fiction, historical non-fiction, and several books on the French, Russian, German, and Japanese languages.

Of all things, a small harpsichord sits in front of the windows. It's more than second-hand, 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.

The bathroom is adorned with accessories on the counter tops and porcelain pedestal sink, with towels in various shades of yellow from pale to sunny. The room is finished with classic subway wall tile and porcelain floor tiling. An elegantly designed, corner-set curved shower provides a more spacious shower area.

Grey suede boots sound over equally grey pavement as Odessa makes her way home from the Suresh Center, her silver sequinned purse slung over one shoulder, and a New York Yankees duffel bag over the other. She’s humming the tune to some Christmas song she heard playing over the radio at one of the nurse’s stations that she can’t quite get out of her head. Dusk has taken its hold over New York and though Odessa doesn’t have too much trouble with the patrols around the city, she’d rather not deal with them - or with dodging them - at all, if she doesn’t have to.

Once she’s in the hall the leads to her apartment, she pauses to unbutton the first two buttons of her coat and take the first finger of her black leather glove between her teeth, tugging it off so she can reach inside the pea coat and retrieve her keys. They jingle noisily - everyone on the first floor must always be aware when Odessa Price arrives for the way her novelty keychains and the myriad of keys on the oversized ring clink together - as she moves down the hall to the door marked #108. The appropriate key fits neatly into the lock and the tumblers turn, allowing her entry to her home.

Her home is as she left it. Or at least, it’s close enough to as she left it that Odessa does not notice anything amiss until after she has stepped inside and shut the door behind her.

The accommodations here at the Octagon are cleaner and more luxurious than anything Samson Gray has ever had in his life, and while he was out, the old man has taken the time to explore the den she’s claimed for herself the way a larger predator might nose through a smaller one’s territory. It’s power he’s interested in rather than wealth, and there is very little here that holds his attention for very long, including the harpsichord, except for Odessa’s medical journals, which he haphazardly thumbed through. One he has tucked down the back of his pants: a pair of plain denim jeans, which have been in fashion for decades and do not age him as much as the flannel shirt he wears beneath his jacket, or the silver of his hair and beard.

He could have been a mortician if he hadn’t chosen to become a taxidermist, or maybe even a doctor, but he’s decades past the point of being able to change and do something with his life, his fate sealed one sweltering afternoon outside a greasy diner when his son was five or six. Sometimes it disturbs him that he cannot remember which.

He’s disturbed right now, if for reasons entirely unrelated, and does not turn to face her when he hears the door open. He plucks at a string exposed by the open lid with the edge of a blunted nail, dirty and dark.

Odessa quivers in the doorway, a gasp admirably held back. She forces her shoulders to relax, forces her mind to stop racing. Forces herself to take her time and think. “I could play you something, if you like,” she offers as her only greeting. She turns the lock, perhaps out of habit or perhaps out of some display of… Well, trust isn’t the right word. Unless it’s part of the sentence Odessa trusts that Samson would kill her before she could ever make it to the door even if it was unlocked.

“I didn’t expect you to return so quickly.” Duffel and purse are left in the entryway. Boots are not. “Miss me already?” It’s more bravado than Odessa feels, but confidence feels better than fear. She never has worn fear well, or graciously.

A dry, rasping chuckle gravels out of Samson’s throat in response to Odessa’s question. It would be accompanied by a slow shake of his head if he felt the need for it, which he does not. He runs the tip of his tongue across yellowed teeth behind a curling lip as he reaches up to close the instrument, and growing up in a household where both his brother and father aspired to work with clocks has left him with enough respect for devices, both mechanical and not, to keep him from slamming the lid shut.

He does not hide his anger as well as his son, when his son chooses to hide it. There’s tension in his neck and shoulders, but it’s most visible in his long limbs and the movements they make, deliberate and precise.

“The bow was a nice touch.”

“Snoop.” Though she keeps a teasing lilt to her voice, she know that posture. Knows what it means. “You wanted an aerokinetic, and I got one for you. The next kill is yours, without question. I found it rather good sport. I can see what you like about it.” Odessa lifts her chin, trying to seem as though this shouldn’t be a big deal.

But it is. She’s stolen his kill.

“The way I see things,” jaw set and shoulders back, Odessa makes her way from the nebulous grey area between entry and kitchen into the living room, “I’m your creation. You defined my existence when you murdered my father, and left my mother to die of her injuries. A life for a life.” Her lip curls in a sneer. “We are not nearly even, but consider it so.”

He turns his head to regard Odessa over his shoulder, hazel eyes bright with something that isn’t mirth. His weathered hand drops away from the harpsichord, flexes aged fingers and then curls them back into a fist again, much looser than the muscles in his arms.

“Don’t flatter yourself, girl,” Samson says. “My creations are things of fur and feathers, plastic and wire, glass eyes like playground marbled polished to black. You belong to the Company is what. You could just as easily have ended up in another home with parents who loved you as much as the ones who brought you into the world.”

The rest of his body follows his head, and he rotates shoulders, waist and hips to finally face her. “You like killing, do you?”

Odessa’s throat feels tight. Too tight when she tries to swallow down the beginnings of the lump she’s not allowing to form. She has a million protests. A million arguments as to why he’s responsible for the life she’s led. At the end of the day, he’s the easy target to blame. And blaming a killer for making her a killer is convenient.

Little blonde haired, blue eyed girls aren’t supposed to grow up to be killers.

But they aren’t meant to grow up without parents, without context. In that, Samson is right. The Company moulded her into most of this. Resentment did the rest.

“Yes,” is her simple response to his question. “Sometimes,” is the beginnings of a more complicated response. One she, thankfully, spares him.

Samson’s grizzled brows go up at that. He’s suddenly looking rather dubious, though this drains none of the quiet fury from his expression, which is defined by the wrinkles around his mouth and the set of a jaw that’s very much like his son’s. And, you know— it should be.

“Really,” sounds like it should be a question but isn’t. The delivery is flat. “Then tell me, Odessa, what it is you like about it so much.”

Odessa’s brows furrow, uncertain at first that she heard the question right. Or at least deciding it unusual. Then simply unexpected. “What?” She wants to ask him what the hell does he care what she gets out of it, but it’s a challenge. “You think I would kill if I didn’t enjoy it?”

It draws a grin to her lips. “Hah!” Odessa looks pleased with herself now. “I showed up at the bitch’s door, simpering and crying about how I didn’t have anywhere else to go and could she just please help me and she thought I was just pathetic. She didn’t know what fucking hit her.” Her gaze is alight with passion, or pride. “They never see it coming. I’m just a little girl. What can I do?” Plenty would be the short answer.

“There is nothing quite like permanently correcting someone who’s underestimated you.” Odessa cants her head sharply to one side, tossing her hair to disentangle the bangs from her lashes. “I suppose I should thank you rather than hold the past against you.

“I like me this way.”

Samson puts one foot in front of the other, his work boots making a low sound like distant thunder on Odessa’s floor as he walks toward her and closes the distance between them at a pace that can only be described as relaxed and in complete contradiction with what’s bubbling and popping beneath his surface like hot grease on a stove.

“The difference,” he says, “between you and I, the difference between you and my son, is that we Grays kill because we have to. It’s in our blood, and I don’t mean that figuratively — it’s a compulsion, the same predatory drive that pushes wolves after herds of deer and elk, and sees the lion and tiger through drought. Yes, there’s sport in it, but that’s not what it’s about.”

“So what? You want me to acknowledge some sort of inferiority because I don’t feel this burning desire to kill a person and crack open their skull? It just means self-control comes easier to me.” Odessa stands her ground, but her heart is hammering in her chest. She wonders if he can hear it. “You have years on me. Yes, I yield. You are the better killer.” For all she cares.

“I liked watching him hunt,” Odessa admits in a voice soft, but not out of fear. “Watching him work. Watching him take.” She meets his gaze and it sends a shiver through her slight frame. “I’d like to watch you do the same.”

“If you had any control, you wouldn’t do it at all. It’s unnecessary. Excessive. Wasteful.” Samson circles Odessa, keeping her at arm’s length, and when he looks her up and down there’s nothing of the desire in his eyes that she once wished she’d see in Gabriel’s. Maybe he’s just too old. “My son is young, but it’s good to see that he’s already learned his lesson about creatures like you.

“Brains in jars. Dressed up with Christmas ribbons. Is that how you showed your appreciation?”

The lack of that desire creates a cold knot in the pit of Odessa’s stomach. Desire she can work with. Desire is a bargaining chip. Advantage, Samson. “If it’s kill or be killed, it isn’t a matter of waste at all, is it? And I gave you her ability, so little Thalia didn’t go to waste either, did she?”

Her eyes narrow. What was that she was saying earlier about self-control? “No. It used to be ice cream buckets. And this is only the second year I’ve bothered to give presents.” It’s sarcastic. Acerbic. And born of equal parts insecurity and anger. “I supported him,” Odessa contends. “I recognised his nature. I encouraged him. She keeps him on a leash. Treats him like some sort of domesticated dog.” To contrast the wolf analogy. “I want him to be the best.” Each word is enunciated carefully, emphasised to prove her sincerity. And perhaps it’s telling that in the face of all the other past tense, she still says want.

“You have your aerokinetic, and your message is en route.” Odessa’s head tips down, gaze to the floor. Her sign of submission. He’s won the stare down. “How else can I be of service?”

“You want him to be Best in Show,” Samson corrects Odessa, looping around behind her to complete his lazy orbit. “I married his mother because being with her reminded me of how it felt to be human. She treated me like a person, sympathized with my fears, encouraged my wants and desires when they were reasonable, warned me away when they weren’t. She kept me alive and it wasn’t because she had a leash wrapped around her little hand.

“The only time she ever asked me to stop was after the boy was born, and that lasted as long as it could. You reward him with praise when he kills and you’re the one treating him like a dog. Sit, stay, shake hands. Walk through walls, breathe fire, melt into shadow. It’s all the same. Tricks are tricks. Did you ever support him in anything else?”

“Of course I did,” sounds too defensive on Odessa’s ears, but she avoids the wince that wants to follow it. “Shouldn’t I praise such marevellous things? He’s…” Special?

Odessa sucks in a breath and shakes her head. “I’m not playing this fucking game with you. You’ve already made up your mind about me. Seems a little wasteful to argue with you.” Now she’s seething just as much as he is, only she makes little attempt to hide it. “You killed his mother anyway, didn’t you? Obviously she—” She stops herself short, mouth shutting so quickly and with enough force he can hear her teeth click together.

Too late. Samson flings up a hand and Odessa swings up onto the ceiling, her legs and arms spread, pinned in place like a butterfly behind glass only there are no needles holding her there.

“That was a mistake,” he snarls, and it isn’t clear whether he’s talking about what happened to Natalie or what Odessa just said. “What’s marvellous here is that you think we’re playing. First you take my kill, then you insult me by dressing it up like something you’d put under a tree. I don’t want anyone to watch me hunt, watch me work, watch me take, and if I did it would be my boy, not some delusional little girl who gets off on men acting like animals and thinks that feeding their egos amounts to anything.”

A flick of his wrist and a drawer in the kitchen snaps open. A tick of each finger on his outstretched hand flips out a fork, a knife, some piece of pointy silver, and while he could make short work of her this way and leave her bleeding out onto the floor from above for Bella Sheridan to find, there’s no physical sensation of pain that accompanies the sharp bang-bang-bang of the utensils punching into the ceiling, but when he releases his telekinetic hold on her Odessa stays where she is.

Her clothes will be this butterfly’s wings.

“Disrespect me again,” he warns, his physical shape seeping away into dense dark smoke, “and next time I’ll kill you.”

Odessa feels the uncomfortable sort of tug around her midsection before she registers it’s the sensation of her center of gravity being disrupted. When she finds herself on the ceiling, the first thing she does is take in a deep breath and shut her eyes as tightly as she can. Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. An arguably healthy dose of fear finally kicks in and keeps her from running her mouth when he insults her. Calls it like he sees it.

Her eyes don’t open again until she hears the kitchen drawers open, and then he can see her good eye round as a saucer. “No! No no nonononono! Please!” Odessa shrieks shrill and loud before she realises that the only casualty is her sweater and her skirt. She has to relearn how to breathe, each shaky gasp burning like fire in her lungs.

It isn’t until he’s disappeared through her air ducts the way he did the night before that she permits herself to cry.

And to call for help.

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