What Happened To You?


gabriel_icon.gif odessa2_icon.gif

Scene Title What Happened To You?
Synopsis Two former associates find themselves on the banks of Staten Island, both a little worse for wear after a few especially unkind months. They trade stories.
Date June 19, 2009

Staten Island Boat Graveyard

Exactly where land gives way to water at this point of the island's edge is uncertain - first because of the saltgrass growing everywhere, both on dry earth and in the shallows, giving the illusion of solidarity; second for the structures visible in the distance, drawing the eye away from the deceptive ground, suggesting its reach extends beyond its grasp. Even if the structures are still recognizable as ships, and nothing that ever belonged on land.

There are a multitude of them, abandoned hulls of salt-stained wood and rust-pitted steel, dying slow and ungraceful deaths as wind and water claim their dues. Some still appear to rest upright, braced upon the debris of older, lost relics below; others list to one side, canted at an odd angle like someone who just struggled to the surface in search of a desperate breath. There are no hands to pull these hulks from the water, no ropes to save them from drowning; each has been surrendered to the sea, left to the ravages of unmerciful time.

At low tide, some of the closer ships can be reached - not without getting soaked, but such is the price of daring. Never mind that the rotting metal and splintered wood are the stuff of nightmares for any germophobe, definite hazards to the unwary. The more distant ships are distant indeed, beyond the reach of all but the most bold - and are all but submerged besides.

It isn't easy living on Staten Island, even when one has certain abilities to help him or her along. Especially when he or she is attempting to avoid detection by, well, anybody. Never has Odessa Knutson felt quite so helpless, even when she felt she had no control over her own destiny. Robbing banks in the Midwest was so much easier than trying to find abandoned buildings in which to catch a few hours of sleep; without having to worry about rats, mold or the roof caving in over her head. Stealing food has been easy enough, though she's had to be careful not to take too much. That lesson was learned the hard way, when her preferred outlet decided that the theft ratio was unacceptable and she suddenly didn't have food to steal.

One good perk of living on the lawless Staten Island is the criminal element, if you can believe it. Just because Odessa is a doctor doesn't mean that her logic always prevails over the signals her body sends her. As such, rather than suffer the symptoms of morphine withdrawal, Odessa's merely taken advantage of the numerous dens, doctors, and dealers to supply herself with the drug.

After having washed — well, rinsed — her hair in the river, Odessa lays nearly unconscious in the tall saltgrass, a band of rubber tied around her bicep, needle and syringe still sticking out of her arm with the plunger depressed. The woman's eyelids flutter briefly here and there as she suffers through a waking dream. Although the way her heart constricts at the images her mind plays out behind her flickering lids, it's more a waking nightmare.

It probably says something about Staten Island when a junkie falls unconscious in what was once a tourist destination, but then again, it's nothing that hasn't already been said.

He doesn't see her, not at first. An indentation in the tall, brittle grass evades a swinging gaze that skims over the hulls that look dull beneath the overcast afternoon, and it's far, far quieter than he remembered it to be. Having moved through a gaping hole in the chainlink fence that separates this area of the beach from the road, there is then the sound of shifting sand as long legs and big feet navigate their way down bristling sanddunes.

Around Odessa, in her half-nightmare, the stalks begin to go brown, begin to curl and break like burning hair, and in the next moment, perhaps a familiar feeling. The pins-and-needles sensation of her life-force soon to be needled out of her body through points as small as the eye of a fairy. It stops, not so long after it starts, and the sound of footsteps comes closer.

Odessa sits up suddenly with a sharp gasp, the needle in her arm jostling before a flexing of her muscles drops it into the tall weeds. She chokes down breaths of air with one hand out in front of her, fingers flexing quickly as her head seems to catch up with the signals in her brain to start swiveling around and looking for the source of the disturbance.

The head of brunette hair that suddenly comes meerkatting up from the grass is unfamiliar in some ways. The rush and chaos of Moab is blurry, a blindspot of memory, hardly counts, but her face, certainly. Surprise and shock does not show on Gabriel's, from where he stands still several feet away, coming to a halt. The saltgrass is tall enough to come to his knees, where blue denim looks worn and dirtied from mud and rainwater in some patches, and a shirt in olive green that hangs off him more than it should.

He's pale, and the scar at his head hasn't depleted any since others had seen it, even with the now deadened saltgrass surrounding him in a haphazard radius that includes—


In an instant, she's running toward him, hampered by the height of the saltgrass, but not deterred in the slightest. "You're alive!" she cries as she throws her arms around him. Pale pink heels stained with earth and other grime sink into the soft ground, leaving her even further lacking in height than usual.

Much like Gabriel, Odessa's clothing - a plain white tanktop and a torn blue cotton skirt, obviously salvaged from a rubbish pile of some sort - hangs off of her more than it has any right to. The woman isn't quite waifish yet, but well on her way in that direction. Her dark blue eyes are ringed by dark pigmented skin, giving them a more sunken than they should have, with some puffy redness as well. One hand is wrapped tightly in gauze that could definitely be cleaner. Dirt is held fast in the settings of the choker around her neck that still hides the scar she received on her first meeting with Kazimir. Once a beautiful, glittering blue, the jewelry is in desperate need of cleaning to return its luster. The oddity is the watch around her wrist, which is better maintained than the more expensive piece around her throat. The faded red leather band and the scuffed and scratched glass face have been meticulously kept free of the filth that contaminates the rest of her personage.

An intake of breath, panicked in some ways, rattles down Gabriel's throat and lungs, and he grows as stiff as steel as soon as her arms go around him, his head tilting up, away from her. Her cheek rests against the stiff fabric of his mock-BDU shirt, her arms tight around limbs that don't return the embrace, that feel a little too cool despite the humid summer weather that makes the docks and water smell even worse than it did.

"Careful," he growls out, his hands light as feathers on her back, brushing the fabric of her tank top. "Don't touch me— look around you." The grass had cracked and broken beneath Odessa's precarious heels, easily leaving a desolate path behind her where the flora had surrendered to her stumbling gazelle-run in his direction.

Odessa falls still for a moment before backing away and staring down at the ground about their feet. "You wouldn't hurt me," she surmises. She doesn't bother explaining if she means because he likes her too well, or if she believes his skill over his abilities is too great for a mishap. Either way, she respects his wishes and looks up with a bewildered expression. "I thought you had died. The explosion… And then Moab…" She shakes her head and rakes her fingers only halfway through her hair from forehead to crown before long digits get tangled in damp mats.

Gingerly, she disengages and stares down again. She notices after a moment that her arm is still bound and removes the tourniquet as an absentminded afterthought. Letting the rubber fall to the ground, she lifts her head once more. "It's good to see you," she says softly.

His hands trail down to her arm and stay there even after she's removed the band, the track marks made a little redder, a little more bruised, even since that dusting of degeneration had first fallen onto her. Curious, analytical of this different that didn't quite mesh with what he would have pictured, had he imagined her. "I have an ability," Gabriel finally says, dragging his gaze back up to her eyes. "It turns on with a touch. It— " His brow tenses, abandoning the explanation, the complaints, the frustration in favour of:

"What happened to you?"

Odessa follows his gaze to her arm, eyes narrowing and brows scrunching together a bit in a puzzled expression. She doesn't feel anything. But that was the point of injecting in the first place. She turns back to meet his eyes again when he asks his question.

And what a question it is. For a moment, all Odessa can do is suck her lower lip in between her teeth and worry at it. "Where would you like me to begin? After the explosion at Eagle Electric… I thought you had died. I found myself in… Minnesota, I guess? It was cold there. Colder than it is here." She neglects, quite purposefully, to explain how she ended up there. "I guess I decided to try being Bonnie without Clyde." She shrugs with an almost impish smile. "I made a pretty good haul, too. I suspect it's still where I left it. All that money." The digression lasts only a moment before its end is signaled by a quiet sigh. "I guess someone caught on to me, though. I thought if I stuck to small towns, no one would figure it out." Odessa lifts the hair from the back of her neck and points to a spot just to the right of her spine. "Nailed me right here with a tranquiliser dart from a building across the street. You think you can account for everything." She shrugs with a huff of rueful laughter and lets her hair fall back into place limply.

For the first time, there's a curl of a smile at the corner of his mouth. He's come to learn that same lesson as well, and here they are, looking all the worse for wear in varying degrees and varying ways. "I didn't die," Gabriel states, which. Might be obvious, all things considered, but death seems to be such a fragile, varying thing, that perhaps the clarification is warranted. "Kazimir was drawn out of me and destroyed, and after that, I couldn't remember anything. Stayed on this island until I did."

Reader's digest version. "Ethan's disappeared. Eileen's still alive. If Elias survived the building too, I wouldn't know. There's a new one, called Raith, trying to find the rest of the New York cell and put them back together, for what he would call the right reasons."

His shoulders draw up in a hint of a shrug, eyes catching on her track marks again before wandering, easing a step back although not to get away. "I guess the Vanguard didn't die with Kazimir."

"Not in the least," Odessa agrees, a little bitterly. "There's a man… He's Asian - don't know which country. He… Gosh." This time, rather than try to get her fingers through the dark mop, she simply runs the palm of her hand over her hair. "After the Moab… thing, I woke up in this abandoned… motel, I guess? Bastard had me drugged on opium. I couldn't use my ability." Her eyes shut tightly in tandem with an uneasy gulp. "He was looking for Ethan. Said he was going to cut off my fingers if I didn't tell him where to find him."

When Odessa's eyes open again, there's tears in them. "Is he really alive? Ethan?"

Gabriel nods, once, his arms coming up to fold around himself comfortably. "He got tangled with a fighting pit here on Staten, I don't know how, but he escaped some time ago. I don't know where he is. Either the mainland or, if he's smart, he'll have left the city by now. It's been months since I saw any sign of him."

There's a beat, heavy silence save for the subtle sounds neither of them can appreciate, before he's asking, "Why shoot up, if it does what it's doing to your power?"

Odessa simply listens to the explanation that Ethan's been alive all along. What can she even say to that? There's no words for the sadness and the anger that mix within her, and so she chooses not to voice them. Not tonight, at least. She ignores the questions she could be asking and instead chooses to answer the one posed to her. "When I was locked up in Moab, they kept me drugged just enough to keep me hooked, so I wouldn't try and escape. Cloudy enough to be uncertain of my ability to find my way out, but alert enough to serve their purposes…"

It's not a proud moment. Odessa's willing to bet that neither of them have too much pride at the moment. "I don't have the means to cope with the withdrawal. I didn't have anywhere else to turn. So I continue to use until…" Until what? Even she isn't sure how she'd actually manage to quit. "It's dangerous to just stop." And it's harder to taper off.

"It's dangerous to keep going," Gabriel states, as even as the crumbling, dusty-grass plain they stand on now is not, although the horizon is, which is where he's pitching his eyeline. It's obscured mainly by landmass, from this angle, not quite the three miles of ocean that comes with beaches. "So that's what Moab did to you. Sounds like some mutual friends we know, don't you think?"

The corners of Odessa's mouth quirk upward in tandem with a huff of laughter. "Well, that all depends on what you qualify as friends." She takes in a deep breath and turns her head slightly to follow the man's gaze. "I always seem to run into you just when I've got nowhere else to go, don't I?"

"The Company," Gabriel says, his voice a touch wry, to match the sarcastic acknowledgment of friends. If he has any memories of being kept under and blatantly used, it would be from the clandestine organisation in which they first met. Perhaps it was even she who on occasion administered such sedatives - or perhaps, weaned them away for conversation. He doesn't completely remember, not anymore.

He studies her, now, in all her junkie withdrawal glory. "I never led you anywhere good," he points out. "But I know— people. Better people than the Vanguard. What do you need?"

Odessa turns her attention back to her companion almost languidly. "Don't blame yourself for any of that. I'm plenty capable of making my own trouble. For all its…" She waves her hand in a vague gesture, no word for what she's trying to convey, "It was better than the Company. Any day of the year." She smiles briefly. It's a weak expression, but a genuine one. "I don't want people. I want you. Nothing's ever felt quite as right as… being around you." She shrugs almost helplessly. It's a sentiment she's sure he doesn't care to hear elaborated on, so she settles for the rise and fall of her shoulders.

"I can count on both hands the amount of times I've failed to be any kind of hero," Gabriel states, words coming clipped. And in case we were wondering if this were a selfless critique on character and decisions; "Without it costing me. There are places you can go where they won't hold it over you. They have medical supplies to wean you through withdrawal. I'm not anything like you knew, Odessa. I only have a fraction of the power I had— " And so much has happened.

"I don't care," Odessa insists firmly. "I don't trust anybody else. Besides, if you don't have all of your abilities, you're going to need your doctor." The woman narrows her eyes faintly, casting a Gabriel a look that tells him she won't back down from this louder than she could ever shout the words. Even if her eyes are a little glassy while she does so. "Wherever you're going, I'm going, too. We make a good team, you and I, don't you think?"

There's a breath of laughter at the word doctor, at the mention of injury and sickness and such things he can't overcome. At least not right now, when his skin is untouchable and fights back any chance at regeneration. Gabriel shakes his head, once, eyeing the way she matches his stare, and the glazy barrier of drug between it. "I don't see a doctor," he says, gravely. "Or a team player. I see an addict who needs help more than she can give me help. This is Staten Island. Feng could have found you and finished the job. Any cut throat or thug or rapist could have stumbled across you, and you said yourself it hurts your power. What would you have done?

"What else do you have?"

A pause, as if maybe he regrets those words, although it doesn't show on his face save for the tension in his jaw, around his eyes. His words are harsh but simmer with defensiveness. "I can find you somewhere safe to go. I'm not going to look after you."

Odessa's eyes grow wide and she takes on an expression similar to one she would wear if she had just been slapped in the face. To her credit, she doesn't cry. Her fingers don't twitch and her dying screams don't echo off the hulls of decaying ships long after she'd thought them faded. "When did I ever let you down?!" she snaps, eyes blazing suddenly. Though there's perhaps more anger directed at herself than at him now. "I tried to help you! That's all I have ever done! I don't need you looking after me. I don't need a babysitter!" Odessa's arms thrash about wildly at her sides with each shouted sentence, much in the same way as they do when she uses her ability.

The fury dies down slowly; replaced now by great, heaving breaths. "You're the only one left," she says quietly. Her eyes drift from his own, slowly down the length of his body until they're focused on his shoes, even though she keeps her chin up. Her lips quake while she tries to decide on her next words. "I'm not completely powerless. You don't have to protect me. All I need is access to the right supplies and I won't need the morphine anymore." She's not quite kidding herself on that front, but if she'd really wanted to, she could have found the right supplies before and taken care of herself. She was just… what? Too scared. Too disinclined. Too without reason. "Please." She swallows uneasily, gaze flitting back up to reconnect with his eyes only fleetingly, gauging his expression before returning her attention to the dead grass beneath their feet.

Most heroes might feel good about carving out a pound of flesh to help someone. Gabriel already knows poison resentment for what he's done for Eileen, both the literal affects of her ability as well as the rolling undercurrent beneath it. But a choice. It was his. Here, Gabriel lets his gaze slide away from her's as Odessa lets loose her deserved words, lashings of fire that he endures, gaze wandering over her once it dies down.

"Then we want the same thing." His head tilts a little, observing her. After a moment, he says, "There's a safehouse in Queens, run by some of Phoenix's allies, but they leave it alone. It has medical equipment, drugs, rooms. Privacy. I spent some time there, until I was useful again. I can take you."

And then, we'll see. "Addiction isn't pretty. It makes you weak, takes away your control. I think we can both agree that control is everything."

Odessa can't help but wonder if she didn't just pass some sort of test. She can't find any words to offer in reply to his. Not just yet. For a minute or two, she's content to follow him in silence. But finally, she asks, "What's happened to you?" If there's any trepidation in the question itself, she doesn't show it. The look she casts over Gabriel's form is worried only that the answer is Something Bad, rather than possibly posing an inappropriate question.

Same question he'd asked her, and now, supposedly, it's story time. Gabriel glances towards her as they walk, escaping the radius of dead salt grass, towards where the stiff dune-plant stalks brush against their shins, healthily flexible. A pause, as he considers where to start.

The beginning is generally a good rule. "After Eagle Electric exploded— after the bridge collapsed— Phoenix killed Kazimir while managing to spare me. I was on the bridge when it went down, and I washed up here. Found by men running an Evolved fighting ring who knew who I was. They took away my memories, all of them, and used it as bribery to make me fight for them." Saying it like this— it's almost therapeutic. There's even a hint of a smile at the corner of Gabriel's mouth. "A telepath fixed me, en route to Moab when I almost got arrested. I took down the plane."

And apparently, walked it off. "Teo Laudani, one of the Phoenix members, he had helped when I had amnesia. So I helped him." He glances to her. "The Moab raid. After that, I came back, where a man named Tyler Case had been running around, switching people's powers. I got Gillian's, augmentation. Got them back when I went to Pinehearst for help, got most of them taken away again by a power thief, the CEO, Arthur Petrelli. And now there's Feng, and whatever's coming next. Teo is possessed by something pretending to be him, so I'm going to help him. Then make him help me."

That about brings us up to speed. He winds his arms back around himself as they head for the docks. "Eileen got her power switched out, too, for something that kills people if they touch you. I replicated it for her, to understand it. It's interesting."

"And by interesting, you mean you haven't figured out how to suppress it yet," Odessa concludes casually. She sighs softly. "A lot's happened, hasn't it? It's all… such a haze for me. One moment, everything was fire…" Absently, one hand snakes behind the womans back to scratch at a spot just to the left of her spine. She doesn't seem to be able to reach quite high enough by the way she squirms after she's given up. "And then everything was grand. Lonely, but grand. And then I got caught and it all became a blur after that." She glances up at Gabriel with a playful smirk. "We could go to Iowa. Get all the money. Now wouldn't that be fun?" The question is mostly rhetorical. She doesn't suspect the man is eager to start any new schemes at the moment. And truthfully, she isn't up to it just yet. "So, what can this Tay-oh guy do to help you anyway?" The syllables are elongated with her enunciation, putting a sort of languid importance on the name of this man she knows nothing of.

Iowa. Maybe one daaay. From the way the two ex-Vanguardians trudge through the dunes of the boat graveyard, track marks in arms and scars and bitter words, they certainly don't seem like candidates for such escapades. Gabriel shakes his head a little at her question. "I don't know, but I'm willing to let him surprise me," is the erstwhile serial killer's droll response. "I'm curious about what's possessing him too. Kazimir could never pretend to be me for very long, but this one managed to fool even his lover. Unless his lover is exceptionally thick."

"No," the dark-haired woman agrees softly. "There's no substitute for you, Sylar." There's a small twinge in one eye as she winces at herself for having been fooled, no matter how briefly. She purses her lips and stares out at the path the two walk. "How quickly does that ability kill someone?" Without realising it, a wicked sort of grin spreads across her lips and she glances sidelong at Gabriel before jogging ahead - albeit it a little stumblingly in her heels - so she can turn to face him. "Will you show me?"

Some things never change, and it's interesting when such things clash with things that have. She called him Sylar, and Gabriel falls silent as she comes to stand in front of him, that bitter stoicism cracking in favour of something more suitable for a deer in the headlights. Once, he killed a man with his hands just to see what it was like, and she watched. Explanation falls silent before it can even begin, before he lets an attempt at rue cross his expression. "Using it hurts me too, like a knife with two blades," he says, and it's almost true. He certainly looks sickly. The grass crunches underfoot when he goes to step away from her, gaze slanting away. "Maybe another time."

It's clear by the look on the woman's face; that wasn't the answer she was expecting. Blue eyes blink twice, three times. She stands sort of dumbstruck as he sidesteps her to continue on his way, then finally turns around to follow him once more. "That's no fun," she mutters softly. "Poor Eileen." Her mind races through images both real and imagined of the former ally. And then, something miraculous happens. "Is… Is she all right?"

Odessa Knutson shows concern for another human being — without hoping to gain something from it.

It gains a glance, any reaction changing to ponder over the question with slightly hooded eyes, slowing down for the time it takes the former-blonde to catch up with him. "She's…" An adult, suddenly, with a scalpel for a tongue and interrogation torches for eyes and ice for skin. These are the things Gabriel could say when he conjures up thoughts of Eileen's well-being, and instead simply settles on, "…alive. She could help you, too, she exists in a safehouse not so far from here. Or you could wait until you're clean before seeking her out."

"You know her better than I do," Odessa says with a shrug. "You tell me the best… No. I think I had better wait until I'm… clean, as you say." The first step is admitting you have a problem. Odessa doesn't see her addiction as a problem so much as it is a minor setback or inconvenience. "It's… really good to see you again." The woman reaches out to grab hold of his sleeve-covered arm and half pull him in, half step closer to squeeze it and press her cheek to the buffering fabric for a moment. "I'm glad you're not dead."

Predictable, perhaps, that Odessa will feel that limb stiffen beneath the sleeve, tense, but relaxes after a moment when her gesture is understood, processed - not an attack, not a gesture of pity. The scent of the Garden still clings to him, earth and burnt wood, much like many rural parts of Staten Island smell like, and a breath of a chuckle ensues at the simple sentiment. "Takes more than fire and water," Gabriel adds, wryly, before he guides them both through the chainlink fence, away from the boat yard and ultimately, away from Staten Island.

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