You're Nothing That You Seem


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Scene Title You're Nothing That You Seem
Synopsis You're monochrome delirious / You're nothing that you seem
Date June 13, 2018 | October 5, 2013

“You’ve gotta learn to roll with the punches.”

Desdemona Desjardins has a split lip and is bleeding from the mouth. It’s not serious, but tomorrow it will be swollen and ache. Seated as she is on a stool in the middle of a spacious warehouse adjacent to the the Staten Island Trade Commission. There’s a towel draped over her shoulder, but that was for the sweat she was supposed to be working up during this exercise.


There’s no freezer here, no ice box, but yet there’s five cubes of ice bundled in a hand towel. It’s offered out to Odessa by a woman nearly a foot taller than her, dressed in black slacks and a white button-down shirt with rainbow suspenders. The tape wound across her hands is intended for boxing, the same kind wound around Des’ hands. There’s no gloves though, because as Mara Angier said, real fights don’t have gloves.

Staten Island Trade Commission Warehouse

Staten Island

June 13th, 2018

3:16 pm

Des spits some blood out onto the floor before she takes the wrapped ice and presses it to her mouth. “Thanks,” she murmurs, frustrated with herself. She does know how to fight. Just… not as well as Mara does, apparently.

“I get it,” she sighs, “I do. But I do just fine with my knives, you know.” But what she gets is that they may not always be available to her, despite her best efforts. Just like her ability isn’t always available to her. Des plucks at the hem of her black sateen shorts absently. She needs better - well, worse - clothes if she’s going to continue hanging around Staten Island like this.

If she continues hanging around Staten Island like this, her clothes might eventually start to fit the bill. But nothing says fresh fish like someone too well dressed.

Which brings us back around to the boxing lesson.

“You’re small,” isn’t an insult, judging from the tone Mara delivers it with. “Low center of gravity, so it’s harder for people t’knock you over. When you’re fighting somebody like me, all legs and arms, you can get right up in and fuck us up good. You’ve just gotta be willing t’get up close and personal… which I hear you’re not bad at.” Mara raises one brow, then turns away from Des and walks a few paces away.

When she turns back around she’s holding a water bottle that is sweating condensation, another held in her other hand. “Much as it sounds unlikely, with a little work you could probably be a heck of a grappler.” She offers out the spare bottle of ice cold water next. “If you worked on those noodle-arms of yours.” Mara smiles, playfully. It’s strange, both how little and how much she’s still like Sera.

She is that. Small. It’s been helpful in the past, she has to admit. She didn’t think much about center of gravity or things like that, though. Des has always been deadly because she has an unfair advantage.

And when she didn’t have it anymore, she started to learn how to close that gap, but always with weapon in hand. “You should’ve seen me during the war,” she jokes as she takes the water bottle, flexing one bicep that’s far too slender to be impressive. “One time, I threw a dude up against the wall and—” She falls quiet and just bring the water up to take a ginger sip. Her lip still throbs. “Eh, you don’t wanna hear about that.” Truthfully, she feels ashamed for wanting to tell a story about the war at all.

“I’ve gotten soft,” she agrees. “I used to work out more. But desk jobs and all.” The life of a researcher agrees with Des more than that of an enforcer, in her opinion.

Mara lowers her bottle of water from her lips, and looks down at Des with a sidelong stare. It is not just a side-eye, it is a mother’s disapproving stare. “You’re right,” Mara says in a way that also implies wrong, “I definitely don’t want to hear it.” The newspaper article had made the rounds at Raytech long before Des’ flight, and though Sera Lang didn’t seem to have much to say about it, Mara Angier seems to be more principled.

“Come on,” Mara urges, offering out a hand for Des nonetheless. “Round two.”

Pinehearst Tower


October 5th, 2013

3:16 pm

“Come on,” Dirk Dickson mutters as he angrily clicks the enter key on his keyboard, “stupid— I just—- I want to open my mail.” The entrance to Arthur Petrelli’s office is empty save for his office assistant. When the elevator doors open, Dirk looks up from his computer, watching Odessa Price step through the parting doors.

There is a bloom of light visible through the fronted glass doors leading into Arthur’s office, a warm glow of afternoon light refracted an emerald green color by the door’s tint. “Oh Good,” Dirk notes with a sarcastic tone. “Hey, Arthur’s been waiting for you to check in. So you might want to hop to it.”

There’s a strong urge to stop him mid-sentence and just stride right on by and into Arthur’s office, but Odessa behaves herself. Having a desk job must be hell. Poor thing can’t even get into his e-mail.

Once he has her back, she rolls her eyes as her hand lays on the door handle. There’s no cheating with time here, just a deep breath to steel her nerves before she pulls open the door and steps inside the office. “Arthur,” Odessa greets as she drags the handle behind her slowly until the quiet click! informs her the office is shut again. “Terribly sorry to keep you waiting.”

Arthur is seated behind his desk when Odessa arrives, holding one of his hands up above the desk where pieces of some sort of mechanical device are hovering. Slowly, they are being assembled together into a whole, and what Odessa sees is a wooden box about six inches on a side, a flat steel ring roughly the same diameter, marked with tiny notches, and dozens of smaller springs and gears. Each piece telekinetically drifts in its assembly, and Arthur does not take his eyes off of the components as he greets Odessa.

“You’re late,” are the first words Arthur says to Odessa. “I’m curious to hear what you have to say, given the attention you’ve given to your assignment. Mr. Ruiz is a fascinating individual, and I hope you’ve gathered a robust amount of intelligence for me.” Finally, Arthur regards Odessa, one brow subtly raised. Expectant.

The contraption is eyed with mild curiosity for only a brief moment. Her attention focuses squarely on Arthur. “I am, and I apologize. I hope the information I’m about to give you will make up for that.”

Odessa reaches into her pocket and pulls out a red-cased cellphone. A little charm dangles from one corner - musical notes. “He’s given me a way to contact him. And he finally wants to introduce me to his friends.” Which is what they suspected all along, even if Ruiz played it as though he may have been a sole survivor.

“I think he could be useful to us,” the blonde offers in a cautious tone, inclining her head to defer to her employer’s judgement. “He trusts me, finally. I can make good use of that.” Though the words are self-assured, Odessa feels ill as she speaks them for reasons she can’t articulate.

Gears, springs, and tiny mercury-filled glass tubes all connect together in midair. Once assembled, they float into the wooden box, then are topped with the metal ring. Assembled, the device looks like an old, boxy compass. “Good,” Arthur says with a somewhat distant tone of voice, eyes focused on the box. “Everything is coming together nicely. Slow, but nicely.”

Spreading his fingers, Arthur floats the compass over to Odessa. “Take that with you the next time you see him. It’s a compass, of sorts, originally designed to detect people like us.” Slowly, Arthur leans back in his chair with a creak of the leather. “Give it to Mr. Ruiz. The boys down in the lab tell me they’ve recalibrated the device to a neutral setting. If he keeps it on his person, we should be able to attune it to…” Arthur shrugs. “Just do it.”

The phone is tucked away again so she can take the box out of the air when it comes to her. “Of course. It will be done.” She gives it a look over and then starts to move forward toward the desk again to take a seat across from the man, more timid now. “Sir, there was… another development that I think could prove… Beneficial to us.”

It’s a development that had her up half the night, sitting on her living room sofa and crying off and on. In the end, she’s held on to her beliefs. To do otherwise would be to fall apart, and that would be a disaster. “Mateo Ruiz says he is my brother.”

Slowly, Arthur looks up from the box in Odessa’s hand to meet her eyes. It’s a subtle movement, one that accompanies a furrow of his brows. “I don’t see the resemblance,” is the closest thing to a joke she’s ever heard Arthur make. “But I suppose family is what you make of it,” he admits with a wave of one hand, dismissing both the telekinetic control and the notion.

“Is that going to be a problem?” Arthur asks pointedly.

Staten Island Trade Commission Warehouse

Staten Island

June 13th, 2018

3:26 pm

Though the skills are rusty, they are recalled through muscle memory. There may not be the same power behind Des’ punches, but she remembers how to throw them without breaking her thumbs. Remembers where to hit to hurt.

Not that she’s trying to hurt anyone today.

Round two comes out significantly better for her, even if she’s earned a few more bruises for her efforts. She’ll have to wear long sleeves tomorrow. Or not. Maybe that will just help her blend in better. She’s remembered to duck this time.

“You do this with your Odessa?” she asks while she’s catching her breath. “I bet she’s way better at it than I am right now,” she laughs softly at her own expense. If she had someone to keep her on her toes again, she’d be better, too. Practice, etc.

Mara catches Des by the wrist, spins, and hurls the smaller woman over her shoulder and then flat on her back on the hardwood floor in a way that hurts surprisingly less than she’d have expected, but knocks the wind out of her. “Nope,” Mara admits with a ruffle of Des’ hand and another hand offered out to her.

“I actually wasn’t even half this good back home,” Mara admits with an incline of her head to the side. “I had a little basic hand to hand training, but,” she smiles, cheerfully. “I like to think I’ve practiced nice and hard.” Even though it’s clear she hasn’t.

Des grunts when she hits the floor, unsure of how she got from point A to point B, honestly. She stares up dumbly for a moment before she takes the offered hand and slowly climbs to her feet. “So, is this just something you… do?” She waves a hand to encompass Mara’s person. “You just become someone?” Sera probably couldn’t - wouldn’t - have flipped Des over her shoulder like that.

“It’s a neat trick.” Des lifts her brows and chuckles softly. “I could certainly use it right now.” She shakes her head quickly to dismiss the thought. She doesn’t need another lecture about responsibility. She knows.

“Okay, can you show me how to do that, but without actually throwing me this time?”

Mara cracks a smile as she helps Des to her feet, giving her a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “Yeah, it’s a fun little move. You don’t really need a lot of upper body strength for it, everything's in the hips.” When she says that, Mara gives a dancey sway from left to right then snaps her fingers. She takes a few steps away from Des, sneakers softly scuffing across the wood.

“As for… this.” Mara motions up and down herself. “I don’t… become people, I take their place, sort of? It’s hard because nobody has ever explained it to me, I’ve had to learn it as I go. But basically it feels like… I’m overlapping with someone else. Since we’re overlapped, part of them bleeds into me.” Mara looks to one of the open warehouse windows, to the coast of Staten Island, then back to Des. “I don’t know what happens to the people I replace, but they never seem to… remember? It’s like they lived the live I lived, except for some moments here and there.”

Looking down to the floor, Mara becomes thoughtful. “We were studying it in Natazhat, as much as we were using it.” Her attention drifts over to Des. “Anyway, uh, I’m going to throw a slow punch. You’ll want to grab my wrist and turn, using your momentum and a twist of your hips like this,” she pantomimes the movement, “to lift me up and over.”

“No kidding.” Being small as she is, Des doesn’t generally try to throw people. The more she thinks about it, however, the more she wants to give it a shot. Fun indeed.

Brows furrow over thoughtful blue eyes. “I guess that makes sense… As much as anything about your ability makes sense?” The point of it seems to be that it doesn’t have to. “Sorry, that sounded… I didn’t mean any offense. It’s really cool.” She’s grateful for inexplicable ice and cold water in this place, for starters.

Des shakes out her hands at her sides and nods. “Okay. Slow punch. I can handle that.” When it comes her way, she reaches out to grab Mara’s wrist, pivot and turn, and is surprised at how intuitive the motion is when she thinks about the intent of it and the follow through. But she’s gasping when she feels the balance shift over her shoulder, afraid she’ll hurt her friend with the throw.

With a laugh at the back of her throat, Mara gives a push with her long legs that propels her the rest of the way over Des’ shoulder. As she comes swinging to the ground on her back, heels hitting the ground first to break her fall, she’s smiling up at Des with the faintest flicker of green light sparking around where she impacts the ground.

Pinehearst Tower


October 5th, 2013

3:26 pm

“Odessa.” Arthur states flatly, staring at her with narrowed eyes. “I asked you a question.” Except that Desdemona Desjardins didn’t hear the question. The last thing she remembers, she was watching Mara flip over her shoulder and slam onto the floor and now…


Des looks around the room with wide eyes as though she’s seeing it all for the first time - because she is. She looks down at the box in her hands and then back up at the man across the desk. She recognizes him, and that’s approximately zero comfort at the moment.

“I- I’m sorry. I… I must’ve been—” She has to resist the urge to lift a hand to her mouth and gape in horror. This isn’t where she’s supposed to be. “Can you repeat the question? I’m very sorry.”

And she needs to get out of here very quickly.

Slowly, Arthur folds his hands and closes his eyes, letting his head hang before exhaling a weary sigh. “I asked you, if it’s going to be a problem that you believe Ruiz is your brother.” There’s a pointed look delivered to Odessa, and Arthur motions to her with one hand, as if indicating that it’s her turn to talk.

“Unless this entire line of conversation is making you uncomfortable.” Arthur adds in a threatening manner afterward. It’s only now as she thinks about moving her hand that Des notices she’s holding an archaic form of an Institute Compass. Behind Arthur, outside of the expansive floor to ceiling windows, the skyline of Midtown Manhattan is in clear view, and there are no ruins. There is no bomb scar.

She’s landed in Oz.

“No.” Des is quick to shake her head. “It’s not like that. I’m not uncomfortable, I just… I’m sorry, I’m not feeling very well at the moment.” She looks out the window for a long moment, drinking in the skyline and reconciling what this means. “Shouldn’t have trusted that food cart. I’m just all out of sorts.”

Des closes her eyes and tries to think of what she should do. How she should respond. Well, what would she have done in her Company days?

She smiles slowly after a deep breath to center herself again. “Ruiz won’t be a problem. Not for me.” Not that she’s sure what she’s just agreed to, but that can wait. Probably. Hopefully.

Oh, damn. Should’ve worn her ruby slippers.

The noise Arthur makes in the back of his throat at an unconvinced one, but whatever worry he might have doesn’t appear to be that great. “Then I recommend you get it done sooner, rather than later. Whoever came here with Mr. Ruiz is an extant threat until we know otherwise. Peter is coordinating with one of them, so if you two run into each other make sure you coordinate yourselves so you aren’t tripping over each other.”

Then, exhaling a sigh, Arthur motions to the frosted glass doors behind Des. “Dismissed.”

“Yes, sir. Of course.” Peter. Her Scarecrow. Des gets to her feet and bobs her head once. “I assure you our next meeting will be better. Again, my apologies.” With another quick nod, she heads for the door at a pace she hopes is casual in spite of the fact that she wants to run in those black stilettos of hers.

As she reaches the doors, she wonders how the hell she’s going to get out of this situation. Or what she’s going to do about it.

Arthur doesn’t say anything else as Des heads to the door, emptying out into a corporate lobby where Dirk Dickson sits with a phone cradled between shoulder and chin. “No, look, I already restarted twice. I told you it’s…” Dirk pauses, hearing the click of stilettos on the floor. “Odessa

Dirk turns his face to the phone. “One second let me put you on hold.” Dirk clicks a button on the phone’s base and turns to Odessa. “Hey, hey.” Dirk grabs a paper bag from the front of his desk with a small grease stain on it and shakes it at Odessa. “Your husband forgot his fucking lunch on my desk and I have been sitting here smelling dead cow all afternoon.”

Dirk jiggles the bag again, demandingly.

Des stops in her tracks and looks over when her name’s called. The bag is stared at for a second before she nods. “Okay, okay. I’m sorry about that.” She strides over with more confidence than she feels at the moment and takes the bag from Dirk’s hands. “I’ll make sure he gets it, and I’ll talk to him about leaving things laying around.”

Husband? Who the hell was crazy enough to marry her? “Did he happen to say what his schedule looks like today? I’m not sure where to pin him down…”

“I don’t want to hear about your sex life,” Dirk jokingly chides. “I don’t know I’m not his keeper, but he was with Mr. Goodman, so I figure he’s downstairs.” As if Odessa knows exactly where that is. “But maybe, Odessa,” Dirk raises his brows, “you could just… call him?”

“Gosh,” Des says sarcastically, “I’ve never thought of such a brilliant idea in all my life.” She holds up the bag. “I’m going to take this dead cow and get out of your space. Thanks for the help.” Hopefully she’s judging the banter correctly and she hasn’t just raised a red flag.

Now her goal is to get downstairs, which promises its own set of hurdles, she’s certain. But she can feel the threads of time still. She has her way out if she needs it. She doesn’t want to need it. If she can get out of the building and somewhere quiet, she can use the phone — one… of the phones? — in her pocket and call someone who might be able to help. Maybe.

Trust is a funny thing. Which bridges haven’t been burned by this version of herself?

Dirk doesn’t say much, just audibly rolls his eyes as he goes back to his phone call. “Ok, sorry. So anyway, I told you I already rebooted twice…” Stepping into the elevator, Odessa finds herself presented with more than 100 floors of buttons and a locked basement options. As the doors slowly slide shut, she is left with the harrowing realization that this is entirely real…

…and she has no idea how she is getting back.

Staten Island Trade Commission Warehouse

Staten Island

June 13th, 2018

3:35 pm

“Des?” Hearing the sound of her mother’s voice isn’t what Odessa Knutson expected in this moment. She’s standing in an unfamiliar old building that smells of mildew and wood, lip aching, surrounded by shafts of sunlight spilling through warehouse windows, particles of dust dancing in the air like fireflies. “Des, are you ok?” Kara Price lays on the floor in front of her, brows furrowed in an expression of worry and eyes fixed up on her daughter…


Odessa looks around the room for a long moment, drinking in the sight of this broken shell of a place. She brings a hand to her face and feels her lip gingerly. Finally, her mother’s voice is recognized and it brings her back to the moment.

“Mom!” Odessa is immediately on the floor next to Kara and throwing her arms around her in a tight hug. Tears are immediate, too. “Mom, I’ve found you!”

If only that were accurate.

“Where the hell are we?”

Eyes wide and transfixed on Odessa, a chill runs down Kara Price’s spine. There’s disbelief, confusion, and the hug is returned only tentatively as she doesn’t understand what’s going on. “D-Des… calm down, I… it’s not…” Gingerly patting Des on the back, Kara sits up and drags the dark-haired woman with her, leaning away long enough to stare intently into her eyes.

Des,” Kara asks with worry in her voice. “Des, w-we’re in the warehouse. Are you— concussed?

“What? No!” Des? That's not—

Desdemona. The name on her false ID and the name of the woman in the dream who looks like her, but isn’t. This can’t be happening. That was just a dream.

“It's me. Odessa!” How is it she doesn't know? A lock of dark hair falls in her face and she holds it between her fingers so she can see it better. “Oh no. What the fuck?

This isn't her. This isn't her life.

Pinehearst Tower


October 5th, 2013

3:35 pm

Down at the ground floor lobby, the burnished copper doors slide open with a swish and a ding. The spacious marble-tiled floor and Art Deco decor rises to a cavernous three-story high ceiling. A wall of green-tinted glass bars entry to the outside world, separated by a collection of revolving doors.

“No, see, I forgot my badge.”

There’s not many people in the lobby at this hour of afternoon, but the streets of what should be the ruins of Manhattan are vibrant and full of life. Taxi cabs, cars, and busses roll by. At one of the front desks, a ghost argues with the receptionist. “See, I figured it was more polite t’come here an’ get a temporary badge, rather than just bloody teleport up t’my office an’ get my badge. But I also left my wallet at home, and it’s just… could you just…”

James Woods stands at the desk, pleading with the receptionist over an ultimate triviality. James Woods is alive.

This place is like something out a dream. It is, in a way, literally that. Could she be dreaming now? Did Mara hit her in the head again? Des tries to keep her face passive when all she really wants to do is gape in wonder. She’s never seen anything so splendid in her life, it feels.

That voice catches her attention and she nearly fumbles the bag of lunch in her hands. For a moment, she’s struck with indecision. But it’s him. Des makes her way to the front desk at a quick clip. “It’s okay!” she calls ahead, lowering her voice as she pulls up. “He’s with me.”

Woods brightens up the moment he sees Odessa, but before he can make a comment the secretary flashes her a side-long stare. “I’m sorry, Miss Woods, but the increased security applies to everyone. He’ll need to retrieve his badge.”

Miss Woods.


Des really hopes her surprise seems to be in response to the brush off. “Well, if you would let me escort him, we could go do that? Isn’t there somewhere I can sign and say I take full responsibility for him?” Because if she has to go find that badge by herself, that’s not going to be easy.

The brown paper sack is held up, one brow quirking as she looks to the man whose face makes her want to cry from joy. How she’s keeping it together, she isn’t sure. “You forgot something else too.” Her smile reaches her eyes, but it’s a shaky one that she banishes quickly, rather than allow it to give away her rocky state of emotion.

Ah!” Woods exclaims, pointing at Odessa. “I don't need t’go back up because my bloody food is right there!” Then, in a fit of petty anger, Woods disappears in a rippling flash of distorted light, then reappears a beat later holding his badge in hand. “And I get my bloody badge!

Wild-eyed and full of himself, Woods claps a hand on Odessa’s shoulder and rolls his eyes. “C’mon, love…” he says with a side-eye to her.

“Let's go home.”

Staten Island Trade Commission Warehouse

Staten Island

June 13th, 2018

3:41 pm

Mara can tell something is wrong, desperately wrong, but she isn't sure just how bad the situation yet is. As she gently brushes a calloused hand over her daughter’s cheek, she looks to the windows and then back to Odessa with evident worry in her voice.

“It's okay,” Mara says in a hushed tone of voice. Something went terribly wrong and she isn't sure if it had to do with her ability, or…

“It's okay Des… tell me what's wrong.” Mara’s attentive stare is glassy, eyes wide in worry that she may have dislodged something from her daughter’s mind. She has no idea how valid that fear is.

“Not Des,” the brunette insists. “Odessa. Where are we, precisely?” She takes another look around, hoping for some sort of clue as to what happened here. “You’ve been missing for almost two years! I’ve been looking for you, even after people told me it was impossible. I knew you were out there.”

Tears start to spill down her cheeks. “I was in Arthur’s office and then suddenly I’m here with you.” Odessa bites her lip before she realizes it’s split and curses under her breath. She rubs at her eyes with the heels of her palms and then looks to her mother desperately. “I’m not me, am I?”

There's a vacant look in Mara’s eyes, mouth agape in confusion and shock. She brushes her hand over Des’ face but sees the change deep down in her eyes. “How?” Mara wonders aloud, but she knows she can't fathom that answer, can't possibly explain the proper answer.

The mention of Arthur, his office, of everything has her suddenly realizing that there might be someone who does know the answer to this. Mara takes Odessa’s hand and furrows her brows, looking to the warehouse door.

“I don't know,” is Mara’s honest answer for everything right now.

But I know someone who might.

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