A Thorny Patch


delia_icon.gif emily_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title A Thorny Patch
Synopsis Emily visits the gardens with the intent of petitioning Delia for assistance, but it takes intervention from Nick to clip the thorns from both of them.
Date December 7, 2018

Satoru Memorial Garden

For a lack of knowing what else to do, Emily Epstein has set out in search of a particular Ryans again. Unlike last time, she now knows exactly who she's looking for. Like last time, though, she wasn't fully certain Delia had caused what she'd seen. But really, even if she hadn't driven the strange memory-sheen of a dream, maybe the oneiromancer might at least have answers about it.

You… are more, she can remember the voice whispering.

A shudder runs involuntarily through Emily, and not from the biting December wind. She rolls down the stone path to the walled entrance of the Satoru Memorial Gardens in Elmhurst Park, wondering at just what could be growing inside at this time of year. The wheels slide to a halt under pressure from her gloved fingers, and she leans in at the gate to get an idea of what lays beyond.

Ribbons of smoke curl through the air, originating from several piles close to her immediate space. The several acres that makeup the garden are covered in a fine haze, making distance vision nearly impossible. Close to the gate, a few more (unlit) piles dot the earthen pathway, this is a place that isn’t friendly to wheelchairs at the best of times, snow makes it even more difficult.

Off in the distance she can hear braying, a woman’s voice, and that of a man. What they are saying isn’t distinct, but she can hear screams and laughter, no one is in trouble.

Peeking her head in is about as far as she feels comfortable going. The smoking piles of detritus make it hard to see much of anything, and even though there must have been someone to light them, no one being immediately visible edges her toward leaving. She's started to turn away when that laughter breaks through to her. It's hard for her to tell who it is, but at least it's someone. "Hello?" Emily calls out loudly, eyes shaded by her aviator sunglasses peering into the smoke. "I'm looking for Delia Ryans."


A snowball explodes on the ground near the wheel of Emily’s chair. “Nick!” It’s Delia’s voice, “That almost hit me!” Then her form melts out from the smoke, all long limbs with hands, head, and neck covered in thick wool. The pompom is lopsided on her head and the bits of snow still there are telltale of a projectile that had found its mark.

She stops when she sees Emily and the recognition on her features turns her eyes dull and wipes the smile from her lips. “You found her,” is all the answer the young girl gets.

Even behind the shades, Emily looks amused. At least, that is, until Delia's expression flattens, causing her own to ebb toward something more uncomfortable. "Hope I've not ruined a date or something," she offers like she just might mean it. She doesn't.

"I'm here because I'm hoping you're not the one making me dream weird things, and might be able to help me instead. Or help make sense of them, at least." Glancing over Delia's shoulder into the smoke, she adds, "I think you owe me one after family therapy night."

There’s a crunch of boots in snow as another figure appears, first shadowed by smoke and then taking more distinct shape. Nick comes up behind Delia, brushing snow off his hands, before shoving them in his pockets as he waits. His brows furrow, like he might recognize Emily, though he says nothing.

From where he stands, he doesn’t quite hear the conversation between the two women, so he figures it’s Safe Zone business or garden business — and thus none of his business. He turns back to whistle, patting his leg lightly.

“Owe you?” Delia's laugh echoes through the empty gardens and she shakes her head. “Kid, I don't owe you anything.”

She stoops down to the ground and shovels up a handful of snow, pressing it into a ball. She tests its weight by tossing the ball in her hand a couple of times and then winds up. Her form is near perfect as she pitches the snowball toward the retreating man. “Not so fast, Ruskin,” she chortles, hitting him in the back of the head. It's probably payback for the snow on her hat. “You haven't met Emily Epstein yet,” she continues, “a perfect little replica of her dad!”

"What, you don't think it's rude to barge into people's heads and hold them captive to stage an intervention, or whatever the fuck you were up to?" Emily asks in a skeptical deadpan, watching her pack the snowball. She doesn't have to wait long to wonder just who its target is, her eyes flickering behind her shades. Ruskin? she marvels. Her shoulders start to sag as she looks him over, but pause in their descent and tense as Delia finishes her thought. Well, that escalated quickly.

"Fuck you, Ryans." comes from her immediately in her annoyance, brow furrowed down over the top of her sunglasses. "You sure you weren't adopted? Your father's civilized, after all." Not at all conducive to asking for help, but she can't stop herself, either.

Nick was turning back at the sound of outraged voices, just as the snowball comes flying at his head — face — and he manages to turn away just enough that it hits him in the side of the head instead of between the eyes, before exploding into powder. “Jesus Christ, I was getting the dog,” he says, shaking his head in a sort of dog-like way himself, to clear it of snow and the ringing in his ears.

He turns back to hear the volley of insults between the two women, and then the name Epstein makes everything clearer. Well, at least one thing.

“Del,” he says, that quiet warning to chill in his tone. “Hey, Emily,” he says, giving Delia a look before brushing his hands off on jeans and striding toward her to offer his hand to shake.

“I would say I’ve heard a lot about you, but, well, Avi’s an asshole,” he says cheerfully enough, glancing at the young woman, then looking at the fiery redhead. “Speaking of intervention… “

Snapping her fingers, Delia points to Emily and nods. “And that is exactly why I don't owe you anything,” she turns her back to the girl and kneels down to the ground. A puppy with paws too big for its body and ears too big for its head comes blasting through a pile of leaves and into her arms. It wriggles in her arms as she stands, twisting and squirming, trying to angle itself better to lick the dreamwalker's face and nip at her nose.

“I don't need an intervention,” she retorts to her partner. “I haven't strayed anywhere I wasn't summoned, I've my own problems to deal with.” On that, she doesn't elaborate, especially in present company. “You're right though, he is an asshole.”

"At least that we can agree on," Emily voices, her frustration still evident. Her expression would likely soften involuntarily at the sight of the puppy, because puppies, but Nick Ruskin is sort of in the way. She glances up at him in a moment of hesitation before deciding he's not worth extending that frustration to. For now, at least. Her hand lifts off her wheel to accept his in a firm, gloved shake.

"And how do you know him?" she asks, a bit of edge leftover in her voice from the brusque encounter moments before. Her face tilts slightly in Delia's direction as an afterthought, expression starting to sour again in a gesture of And how do you know him, for that matter?

The man glances from Delia to Emily, looking warily between them. “Should I leave you two alone? Will there be a murder if I do?” Probably his own, says the expression on his face.

To Emily, Nick lifts a shoulder in a lopsided shrug. “We work together, sometimes,” he says, a bit simplistically, then adds, unsure how much she knows of her father and his past, “Before the war, and now, once in a while.” He glances at Delia, brows lifting as if to ask what’s going on? — though he doesn’t really seem like he expects her to answer.

“So seeing as we’re all friends and family,” he glances at Delia, expecting her to pick up on his meaning, if not Emily, “maybe we can chat like human beings, yeah? Have you two met in the flesh before or just in one of Delia’s little travels?” This is directed to Emily.

"I only know him as a home wrecker," Delia pipes up, turning her head away from the puppy to avoid all of the kisses. Turning it over in her hands, she tucks it under her arm like a football, its little legs still going as though it might catch a foothold in the air. She doesn't elaborate on her statement, instead she switches her focus back to Nick. "Yeah, there probably will be a death if you leave, mine."

She is an Epstein, after all.

"We met at a little thing once before, not while I was out," she explains to him. "I was volunteering for the Hands of Mary, she came for hot chocolate." She quirks an eyebrow at Emily then, the look she gives is significant. "So you've been having dreams? That's too bad."

"Yes, we've seen each other once before, after you'd already performed a Lion King horror show in my head, you're conveniently forgetting to mention." Emily levels a return stare up at Delia. Her face turns back to Nick before her eyes eventually follow, her mouth a hard line. "Listen, I appreciate you attempting to intervene, but it sounds like Delia Ryans being helpful or charitable isn't a thing that happens, so I should probably just go."

It's not a prospect she seems particularly comfortable with, but one she's resigned to. Maybe if she's lucky, Delia won't drop the dog and let it gnaw on her wheelchair.

Belatedly, her brow starts to furrow at something Nick's said.

“A homewrecker?” snorts Nick, and there’s annoyance tinged with amusement in his bright eyes as he lifts a brow at Delia. “Really, Del? Just what do you think ol’ Avi and I are doing?”

Don’t answer that; his daughter’s here.

He leans against a planter while watching another volley between the two, and then snorts again, fingers twitching at his coat pocket for the cigarettes that aren’t there, because when he’s with Delia he pretends not to be smoking again.

“That might be best,” he concedes to Emily.

"She asked how we knew him," Delia replies mildly, with something of a half hearted shrug.

She watches Emily wheel away, one eyebrow arched before her eyes narrow a little bit and she just snorts and shakes her head. "Delia Ryans doesn't fall for feeble attempts at manipulation," is how she finally responds to the young woman in the wheelchair. Then she shoots a look at Nick, "I'm not as naive as you and Benji paint me." With her free hand gesturing to the retreating wheelchair, she continues. "This? This is blatant manipulation. First she told me I owed her, then she got mean about it, now she's acting like a wounded animal."

She bends down to set the squirming puppy free, it jumps around her legs before racing off toward another pile of sticks and leaves.

"If she can't be civil and just ask like a normal person instead of threaten or try to coerce, then no… Delia Ryans doesn't do favors."

Charity is saved for those who actually need it.

Emily snorts in the process of cutting her wheel, not exactly leaving yet. "Really?" is all she has to say, but it needs said nonetheless. She actually looks down at herself to question what gives the impression she's retreating with her tail between her legs.

When she looks back up, she just shakes her head. "No, this is how just how I respond when faced with a shoulder-chip there's no working around. Sounds like even if I'd come prepared with kneepads to skate around after you, you might just turn up your nose anyway. Daughter of a 'homewrecker' and all."

An irritated sigh escapes her as she lifts her hand from her wheel to gesture with it. "Ever since you brought your father into my dreams, I keep having fucked up ones about mine. First he's dead and I can walk just fine, and now—" The hair on the back of her neck prickles as she recalls the alluring voice that swore to her she was 'more', whatever that meant. She blinks away the feeling hastily, finishing flatly, "Other shit."

She takes a moment to glance back at Nick, wondering with her eyes just what his activities with Avi Epstein entailed, now that it's been brought up.

“That’s not Avi’s fault and you know it,” says Nick, that cigarette-seeking hand reaching up to rake through his hair instead. “I took the offer both times.” The words are flat, tired of the same argument about a person he never quite was.

Delia’s words draw another laugh. “Del, I think I stopped thinking of you as innocent years ago. None of us can claim that as a family trait.” Benji is included, no matter how ‘perfect’ Delia paints her. Still, Emily draws his eyes back to her and he frowns, glancing at Delia, then back again.

“It might not be a dream manipulator,” Nick continues. “And as not innocent as Ms. Ryans here is, and as unhelpful as she’s being,” he actually smiles, amused again, though there is that wariness beneath, “if she says it’s not her, it isn’t, so maybe we can figure it out.”

“I didn’t say innocent,” Delia’s retort isn’t without its own smirk of amusement. “You know me too well for that.”

Emily earns herself a look before she turns it to Nick and shakes her head. “Chips aren’t my deal, Honey, I’ve lived through too much to bother with them.” With that, she turns back toward the smoldering piles and stalks toward one of them. On her way, she steps on the end of a rake and flips it into her hand, she seems to be an old hat at this sort of thing.

The puppy races out from one of the piles of leaves and barrels straight into her leg. It tumbles clumsily and shakes before gathering itself up onto its feet again.

“The minute you stow the attitude and try being friendly, you can use me for my ability,” the redhead calls out behind her. “Until then, I don’t owe you, I stopped owing you the second you ran to tattle to my ailing father.” Not that it did Emily any good, Benjamin had enough trouble controlling the dreamwalker as a teenager, let alone as an adult.

A discomforted note of acquiescence sounds from Emily. Yeah, that might have wiped away being owed. She seems a little surprised Benjamin had said anything at all, but the fight visibly goes out in her. "I had been looking for you, then. I'd gone to five or six different Ryan or Ryans before I finally found him." She lets out a long, slow exhale in place of continuing on with the rest of that thought.

With a glance back at Nick, she gives a stiff shrug of her shoulders. "She didn't say no, but this whole conversation's proven to me it wasn't her. Not unless she gets her kicks out of being that far two-faced." Emily starts to frown as soon as the words leave her. "… I highly doubt it." She hesitates for a moment still looking to him, questions burning at the back of her mind about him in particular. Now didn't seem like the time or the place.

"Nice meeting you, Nick Ruskin." she says instead, cutting a rough line through the snow by the garden gate so she can return to the salted, cleared park path. "Happy holidays and all."

“You too,” says Nick, though his brows knit as he glances from Emily’s retreating form to Delia’s. He hesitates, before he takes a few steps forward through the snow in her wake, boots crunching.

“Listen,” he says, “I don’t know what you’re seeing, but there’s been some sort of … phenomena… where people are seeing different versions of themselves.” His tone makes it clear he hasn’t. “A lot of people have. So you may not be being targeted. It may not be anything to worry about — easy said I know. But it might not be anything malevolent, no evil dreamwalker poking around your brain.”

He glances over at Delia, then back to Emily. “This happened once to us before. In that case, they were memories from the future, but…this doesn’t feel like that, from what I’ve heard. There’s theories, but it’s all a bit mad. Anyway, I wouldn’t worry too much if that’s what it is.” His blue eyes dart to Delia again, holding a hand out for her to take, to join him. “Maybe Delia could check for another dreamwalker. I feel at least a little attitude has been ‘stowed.’ Compromise?”

Because Nick, Delia turns back and drops the rake with a sigh. Taking his hand, her disposition toward the young woman seems completely changed, almost as though he flipped a switch.

"Come into the house, I'll make tea," she utters, not unfriendly or as sassy as her tone before. "Tell me everything and then I can take a look…" She stops for a moment and grimaces as though she doesn't want to continue, she does anyway. "..but you're not allowed to get snarky if you see me rooting through there. I won't bring guests."


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