emily_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif

Scene Title Approximations
Synopsis Emily crosses paths with a familiar face and confirms there's no such thing as coincidences.
Date October 18, 2018

Head tilted back at the sky, Emily lets out a long sigh at the stars. Leaning back soothes the ache in her neck from being huddled all day over her notebooks — both electronic and paper — and has the added benefit of letting her gaze at the sky when she opens her eyes.

The fog of her breath weaving up into the air distracts her, and with another short breath she turns to look down the street in the hopes she might see the overly bright headlights of the bus heading in her direction.

Phoenix Heights

7:13 PM

Earbuds in place, she waits under the streetlamp with only surface-level patience. Once it's clear the bus isn't going to be rounding the corner in the next thirty seconds, she shakes her head to herself and looks down at her crutches, hands flexing around the grips.

She'd been predictable, the last few days. Spending daylight hours at a certain residence here in Phoenix Heights, then taking the bus to Red Hook to transfer for Elmhurst.

"Not much longer now, though." she whispers to herself, answering some unspoken thought aloud.

She’s alone out here. Or at least as alone as she can be inside the walls of the Safe Zone, knowing that there are other inhabitants hidden away in sheltered corridors, alley mouths, and windows with new panes of reinforced glass to replace what was lost during the war.

What’s replaceable, anyway.

Not everything is. Lives, for instance. Or relationships, whether with estranged lovers, children, parents.

Emily knows a little something about that.

She hears a sound somewhere in the dark. A bottle shattering. A window breaking. Something fragile scattered to pieces.

The sound causes her to lift her head again, hand lifting to pull her earbud free and strain to listen for any follow-up. Should've let them walk me to the stop after all, maybe. Emily thinks to herself, mouth hardening into a line. Her arm lingers half-raised by her side, crutch hanging from her forearm. For now, all she hears is silence, which bothers her more than if there was the sound of a scuffle.

Fuck, I hate this neighborhood. She yanks down on the wire to pull the headphones off entirely, trying to ignore the chill that passes over her as she wonders at the unknown. She stays under the umbrella of light provided by the streetlamp, tossing the wire over her shoulder while she listens for anything else out of the ordinary.

“I don’t know!” shouts a voice on the verge of cracking under some kind of pressure that Emily can’t see. “I don’t know!

Without the barrier posed by the headphones, she’s able to pinpoint its location: the mouth of an alley some fifty feet to her left, in the opposite direction she’s expecting the bus headlights to appear. Before she can even consider whether she wants to move closer or further away, a man explodes from the shadows.

At a distance, Emily is only able to pick out the broadest of details. He’s young, maybe only a few years older than Emily herself, with a trim build and lean hips that look skinny no matter how many layers of clothes he covers them with. She snatches a glimpse of colourful tattoos peeking out from under his collar and the denim sleeves of his jacket — a stylized wisp of clouds in robin’s egg blue and what looks like it might be a dragon’s claw clutching at bare skin where she imagines open sky is meant to be.

He doesn’t get far. Before he hits the curb, he’s set upon by two larger men swaddled in wool and leather. One seizes him by the arm. The other slams his fist into his face with enough force to send him crumpling to the rain-slick street.

Posture straightens at the plaintive shout, head snapping toward the sound in time to see the man fly out from the shadow of the alley. It's rough, but… Maybe that's the end of it. It's none of her business. Besides, wouldn't keep on in the street, next to the stop, right?

They don't give a shit. Who knows if it's because it's Phoenix Heights and they didn't expect anyone else on the street, or…

Well, Emily doesn't think about the difference between what's smart and what's right, when she sees the young man punched back to the ground.

"Hey," she shouts with a surprising amount of authority for a girl standing alone. "What do you think you're doing?"

One of the men steers a look up the street at Emily with an expression on his face that suggests it’s obvious what he’s doing, hunched over their target like a flinty-eyed predator guarding its kill.

The other starts moving toward her. Slowly, cautiously — at first. He tips a glance up at darkened windows and squints against the drizzle of rain in search of other witnesses.

There aren’t any. As he approaches her, he opens both his hands and shows them to her with his palms facing outward. It’s an empty gesture; although he might not be holding a weapon, the act of raising his arms flaps open his coat and reveals the sidearm holstered beneath it.

“Hey,” he says to Emily. “Hey. I know this looks bad, but it isn’t what it looks like.”

"You stay where you are. It's called an interjection, not an invitation for company." If she wasn't aware of just how alone she was before, she became aware of it the moment they looked up. The silence on the street had spoken for itself.

"Knock it off or take it somewhere else for all I care." she suggests forcefully, glancing quickly to the other two before back to the man approaching her. It would be great if he stopped, turned back, but she wasn't holding out hope.

You had to say something, didn't you, Em. Her brow furrows, posture straightening. She doesn't turn to look for the bus headlights, but impatiently wishes they'd turn the corner already.

The stranger stops within striking distance of Emily and looks past her, beyond her shoulder. “Yeah?” he asks her. “You sure?” Behind him, another figure emerges from the alley mouth, half-lit by the ambient glow of the street lamps. There’s something familiar about their silhouette, although Emily can’t quite put her finger on it.

This individual is smaller than the other three, and with sharper edges masked by the shadows that obscure their other half.

“I told you I dunno,” the man on the ground slurs, voice thick with the blood in his mouth — and anger as he’s hauled into a sitting position by the other mantled over him. “Never met him. Never even,” a wet, shaky breath, “fucking heard the name Monroe.”

She doesn't look up from the man before her to fully note the other figure from the alley. Just knowing there was another is enough to make her take a step back and finally look over her shoulder for a sign of the bus headlights.

"I said stay back." Emily repeats with a firm calm she's far from feeling. If she'd not seen the holster under his jacket, she'd have swung her crutch around in her dominant hand like it were a baseball bat — as it stands though, she has no interest in being shot for appearing aggressive. No interest in remaining in her current position, for that matter. That poor guy getting the shit beat out of him was going to have to fend for himself, unfortunately.

"A friend of mine lives a block away and has goddamned superhearing. You walk away from me now, or I scream, and him and his roommates are here faster than you can go back wherever the hell you came from."

God, she fucking hated having to resort saying shit like that.

He doesn’t walk away. He doesn’t believe her about her friend with goddamned super-hearing either, because his response is to shift his weight onto his leading foot and lurch forward, catching Emily by the wrist.

In his eyes, she isn’t a threat. Just a small, frail teenager he could snap over his knee if he wanted, and there’s something about the recklessness with which he grabs her that suggests this is exactly what he’d do if they weren’t inside the Safe Zone’s borders.

There are rules here, even if there’s no one around to enforce them.

Her left wrist caught, Emily pulls immediately back, or at least tries to. Fuck. Her footing unsteady beneath her, she takes a step toward him, right hand lifting like she means to shove him… save for she roughly shoves it under his jacket, fingers finding the grip of the holstered gun and attempting to yank it free.

And it slides out easy, because he’s the sort of man who needs it to at a moment’s notice. “Fuck— ” he starts, and clamps down hard enough on Emily’s captured wrist to bruise skin and threaten the structure of the delicate bone beneath, but before something snaps—


The voice comes from somewhere behind Emily, although she can’t be sure whether the request is addressed to her — or to the man about to break her arm.

Either way, he stops and directs his attention over the top of Emily’s rumpled blonde head.

“She saw my face,” he informs the speaker.

"Maybe you should have had it covered, or stayed on the other side of the fucking street." Her wrist is still burning angrily under the man's hand, and she presses the muzzle of the gun into his chest in response to that pressure. "Not my fucking problem, either way. You let go and back off."

Where was the goddamned bus? Emily's mind is rushing, still holding out hope that those lights will cause the cockroaches to scatter.

The voice behind her is barely registered, save for having caused another spike of adrenaline to stab through her. Stop? she wonders belatedly. If he wouldn't, she wouldn't.

And so he lets go, face growing dark, his pride wounded although he makes an effort not to let it show. “Bitch,” he mutters.

Not under his breath.

Behind her, footsteps ripple through shallow puddles and dark floral perfume mingles with the smell of asphalt. “So now you’ve got a gun,” says the voice that barely registered, sounding much closer now — if soft. Accented.

Vaguely European.

“What’ll you do with it, Epstein?”

Emily's brow ticks into a furrow, her freed hand flexing before coming to support holding the gun how she's been shown. One of her crutches slide off her forearm, clattering onto the ground, but she unsteadily stays upright, shifting her footing to better support it. Shifting back.

She's much more focused on the words coming from behind her instead of the muttered ones in front of her, suddenly. Hearing one's name tends to do that. She mouths out the sound of her surname, pushing aside confusion to try and think. Who…? she starts to ask herself, but then that question is nagging at her. No, seriously Em, what're you going to do now?

She doesn't have a clean answer for that, though. Waiting and hoping for the best hasn't worked out in her favor so far. "Hope nobody else decides to be rude to me tonight."

“I’ll try my best,” Eileen Ruskin says. She’s a great deal more haggard than the last time Emily saw her, prim updo traded for slick curls plastered to her cheeks and brow by the rain. The dark circles under her eyes suggest she hasn’t been sleeping well, assuming people like Eileen ever do.

Gloved hands sit in the pockets of a heavy wool coat one or two sizes too large for her slim frame. It, too, is saturated with water and adds a not insignificant percentage to her overall weight.

If she has a gun, she isn’t wearing it.

When Emily finally gathers the nerve to turn, her breathing goes unsteady for a moment. Seeing Eileen of all people standing there takes the situation and flips it on its head. Her posture with the gun falters and she takes another step back, hands lowering, her grasp firmly resettling around the grip of her crutch. Whatever confusion she has about the Englishwoman being here with men like these, gravitating toward her felt like the natural option.

Giving a wary glance to the man before looking back to Eileen, Emily's brow starts to furrow. There's plenty of things she'd probably like to ask, but none of them are coming out in the right order. "I can't tell if this is you overcoming all those politics, or…" She blinks rapidly, adding in a mutter, "and I mean, that guy died in the explosion, so…"

She settles her attention more firmly on Eileen with a sheepish nod and a matter-of-fact, "You… look like you could use a coffee."

Which doesn't say much for Emily, who looks like she's minutes from losing her nerve if she still doesn't find a more permanent exit from her confrontation with the thug.

“Channing,” Eileen addresses Emily’s aggressor by name, “please show Mr. Chen to our vehicle. I’ll reimburse you for the gun.”

Maybe it’s the rain, Eileen’s deflective tone, or just a general inkling that he’s not going to get his way, but whatever was simmering beneath Channing’s surface sizzles out and he wordlessly slinks back to where the younger man with tattooed limbs — Mr. Chen — is still struggling to peel himself off of the pavement.

A white raven perched on a nearby street lamp flexes its wings and keeps its flinty black eyes trained on the scene so Eileen doesn’t have to.

“Coffee,” she repeats, tired. “Why the hell not.”

A glance is afforded in the direction of the man on the pavement, but it's all Emily feels she can spend on him. Poor him, whoever he was.

"I don't know Phoenix Heights well." she gestures with the hand still loosely holding the gun, as it's her only free hand for it, up the street. "I was … waiting for the bus to Red Hook. I'm sure there's still plenty open out there, or…" The thought goes unfinished.

Emily looks at the gun in her hand, and turns the safety on as she trails off. Possibly still in a bit of shock, she's shaking her head and looking back to Eileen immediately. "What're you doing out here?"

“Small favour for a friend.”

Out of sight, maybe not entirely out of mind, a car door slams and an engine rumbles to life. Eileen ignores the sound while being acutely aware of it at the same time. She begins moving away from the alley mouth and broken fragments of glass still glittering in the moonlight because Emily is right: if they head in one direction long enough, they’ll eventually find a lit storefront and a dry, warm interior.

“You should keep it,” she suggests. The gun, she means. “Considering who your father is, I’m surprised you don’t carry one already.”

There's a disgruntled silence for that suggestion. For everything Emily went through to acquire the gun, the only thing she can think of doing with it is to stow it in her bag for now. Keeping it and keeping it easily accessible were two totally different things, and the latter would take some getting used to.

"I'm not— used to being out like this, clearly." she mutters while tugging the zipper shut on her bag again. The other crutch is fished unsteadily from the ground and fixed back to her other arm. Her left hand flexes uncomfortably and shifts on its grip, wrist still smarting from the close call. She lets out a short, exasperated sigh.

And doesn't bother continuing the line of questioning about that favor.

"It's weird," Emily admits as she joins the other woman. "I'd been wondering about you recently. It might sound crazy,—" or it might not, "but I see that little bird every now and then, and it happens."

She pauses before adding with an edge of hesitation, "I'm not sure if this is you doing well, or…"

“It isn’t.” Eileen hesitates, too, unsure of how much she should divulge, how much she wants to, and how much those two circles overlap on an imaginary venn diagram. “I lost something very important to me,” is what she settles on before the silence between them gets too uncomfortable, “and the person who has it now needs it more than I do.”

Their gradual, slogging trek takes them around the corner and down a street that seems to narrow the further they go. “I’m trying to decide whether or not I ought to take it back,” she says, “and what that’s going to mean for him.”


On the entirely separate subject of the hummingbird, she manages to summon a wan smile. “Lee’s a good name. It’s what my brother calls me.”

Emily pauses in her step, brow ticking up in surprise. No way. her look says. A short laugh escapes out under her breath as she leans forward into her next step. "He really …" she starts incredulously, unsure how the sentence should be finished. Did the bird talk to her? Or she to him? Or was it more complicated than that?

They lived in a complicated world, after all.

"That's amazing." she says with a shake of her head.

"He's good. Needy sometimes, but sweet." Emily is unable to suppress a small smile of her own before she places just a little too much pressure on her tender wrist, the smile cut short with a soft hiss. She sobers and scans for any telltale neon signs down the road.

"… Objectively, letting people steal from you sounds problematic." she offers up carefully. "But it sounds like it's a bit more complicated than that."

“A bit,” Eileen agrees when what she really means is a lot. Like a moth, the Englishwoman is drawn to the alluring glow of a nearby window that’s too large to belong to a residential building. Condensation clings to the inside of the glass, gone foggy and opaque. There are people inside gathered around tables and a long, flat stretch of bar.

“Do you still talk to your father?” she asks as she places a hand on the door.

Emily's next blink is heavy, and she lingers outside as she considers the question. She draws breath to fire off a snippish reply before changing her mind. Instead, there's an ever-so-slight shake of her head that accompanies a long sigh, and she sounds almost tired as she admits, "That would imply we ever really talked in the first place."

She didn't consider their shouting match at the Nite Owl to qualify, either.

"How do you know him, Eileen? How do you know me?" One shoulder lifts into a shrug. She's not going anywhere, no matter how strange the answer, or that's what she tells herself. "Because you knew me then, too — at the gallery." Emily made a point of not going around flaunting the Epstein name, after all, and the mystery woman had known it without her offering it up.

“Yes,” Eileen admits. “That’s true.” As she cracks the door, a susurrus of voices bleeds out onto the street, although none of them are loud enough to interfere with their conversation. “I suppose my answer depends on how much you already know about his involvement with the Ferrymen before the war,” she says, “or what you might have read about Kazimir Volken’s Vanguard.”

She moves inside, out of the rain, but does not close the door behind her until Emily has also sought shelter there. “I slipped the noose at Albany,” she adds then, “because I wasn’t there.”

Well… Emily thinks to herself as she passes the threshold, shifting to the side so it can close. She looks toward the bar, then back to Eileen, not sure where exactly she'd find it most comfortable to sit. Because if she was going to bring up reading material…

"Because they all thought you were dead." she says softly enough. "Assuming you're the Eileen mentioned in the Wolves book."

And hadn't that been a surprise to trip over in reading.

"I don't even know how much I don't know about him. What I do know? Just bulletpoints from some half-read book." A book it sounded like she wasn't sure about finishing.

She gestures with a tip of her head toward the rest of the bar. "Where do you want to sit?"

Eileen chooses an isolated table with a clear sightline and a straightforward route to the nearest exit, either out of habit or out of necessity. The room is cramped, its floor sloping and its ceiling low; a quick headcount places the number of people inside at only eleven, and even so that makes it feel full.

She removes her coat and hangs it over the back of her chair to shed some of the excess water. “I’m an approximation of her,” she says, “Most of what you’ve read is true. The hard facts, more or less. I worked for Volken until I didn’t. Your father was my handler until he wasn’t. I can’t speak to anything else because those particular memories don’t belong to me.”

When she sinks down into the chair, it’s with muted resignation. “I’ve known you since you were small. Twelve or thirteen, I think. You didn’t see me because I didn’t want to be seen.”

If Emily hadn't already been seated, the news would have been enough to cause it. She considers Eileen for a long moment before her brow furrows and she looks off, rubbing her wrist. She takes a moment to adjust her crutches leaning against the side of the table, though their angle is perfectly fine. Afterward, she brushes her hair from her face.

"Okay…" she sounds out, evidence of trying to process. An approximation. So she's not…

To say she wasn't real would be rude. She was sitting right there, after all, very real.

Her eyes continue to search the air, trying to derive meaning out of the vague explanation. The only thing she can come up with is … unsettling. Or at least, hard to wrap her mind around.

"Me me? Or an approximation of me?" To use her language.

Emily finds herself looking back toward her crutches. "One that doesn't…?" Maybe because it's still hard for her to even imagine, she can't finish the description. She knows, though, that some version of her existed like that. But that wasn't here — that wasn't reality.

Eileen hesitates again. She has to give Emily the credit that’s due to her; she’s astute in ways that many people her age aren’t, even with the war as a backdrop for their education. “Both,” she answers. “These things are true: A woman named Eileen Ruskin was very close to your father, even though she didn’t always want to be. Their relationship was difficult and fraught, but she loved him, and she thought he loved her back — in the way that friends do.”

She studies Emily’s face like it’s still new to her, and in many ways it is; for as much time as she’s spent watching the younger woman, it was never through her own eyes. “She’d have died for him. Or for you, having seen what happens to fathers whose daughters go into the ground before they do. Eileen knew your Uncle Jensen, too.”

Her eyes eventually move past Emily to the bar and one of the kitchen staff tinkling porcelain and a clean set of spoons. This establishment smells like cardamom and something sweeter.

“I have similar interests in you,” she finishes, “if not for exactly the same reasons. I was wondering if you might help me with something.”

Emily continues to look off, brow furrowed in thought as she listens. Her heel bounces under the table, a slight shake of her head as she looks back to consider the woman beside her.

The answer was there, even if it felt like a non-answer. Yes, two Eileens. But their experiences, their experiences, weren't all shared, and that was an important distinction.

"What reason is that, then?" she asks, the furrow to her brow coming undone. "And what is it you think I could help you with?"

“There’s a girl,” Eileen says. “Small. Thirteen or fourteen. Goes by the name Sibyl Black — or Sibyl Epstein.” She has no qualms discussing business in front of the staff, perhaps because her request is just vague enough; her next pause is strictly polite as a compact silver tray is placed on their table, bearing two cups of hot, fragrant Moroccan-style coffee and the appropriate utensils.

Eileen reaches for the one closest to her. “She’ll be trying to find her way back to him, soon, and most likely in the company of a man calling himself Etienne Saint James. If you hear anything, I’d like to know about it.”

Emily doesn't pick up the coffee, expression having gone entirely blank. She sits there for a long pause before she focuses on Eileen again. "Who in the hell is Sibyl Black?" The question is asked calmly enough, but as she comes back to herself, her gaze is sharper than before.


Eileen’s answer is succinct and definitive. But also: Not enough on its own. She raises the coffee beneath her chin and lets its heat leak through the porcelain and the thin leather of her gloves. Her thumb traces the cup’s rim. “Some SLC-Expressives possess abilities that allow them to transcend death,” she says. “Imagine that a person isn’t just their body, but a collection of thoughts, feelings, experiences. Volken could do it. The consciousness inside that child can too, only not quite as well — and at a much greater cost.”

Dangerous indeed, maybe. Depending on who it was and what they wanted to do. Emily's mouth hardens into a line before she picks up her cup, drinking more out a frustrating lack of words than anything.

Who the hell is Sibyl to me? To my father?

"I'd not be much use anyway." Emily says bluntly. "We don't speak. Even if she did try to find him, I'd not know."

She considers placing the porcelain cup back down, but takes another, smaller sip first. "You also didn't answer why you're interested in me," she adds with a glance.

“We aren’t our parents,” Eileen says, “except when we are. Like it or not, he’s smart. Has to be, to have survived this long.” She breathes deep from the cup and follows it with a mouthful of coffee, swallowed hard and fast. “I see the same sort of intelligence behind your eyes. And a sincere desire to do the right thing even if you haven’t figured out what that is yet.”

Clink goes her cup upon its matching saucer.

“The last time we spoke, I offered you work. I meant it.”

"And I was sincere in trying to reach back out." Emily thumbs the lip of her cup after setting it down.

Well, she had been sincere at the time.

"Does your work always involve working with brutish men who like to break the arms of bystanders?"

“You see a thug,” Eileen says, and spreads open one hand. “I see,” then the other, “a young man who feels disillusioned with the world but also helpless to do anything about it.”

Her palms remain facing up even as she lowers them to rest knuckles lightly on the table’s surface, her posture reminiscent of a yogi at prayer. It seems at odds with her smile, which is neither sinister or even unkind and yet—

“You can’t change a person,” she states, “only cultivate their better qualities. And that takes time.”

The look Eileen receives is unabashedly skeptical. While she couldn't argue the point, neither did it make Emily any more comfortable.

"I suppose it's just hard to rebound from a bad first impression." she announces with that same skepticism.

She turns over her hand momentarily so it faces up to accent her question, "So what do you do? What sort of people do you consult for?" Emily starts to lift her shoulders in a shallow shrug. "And how could I help?"

Her expression is more wary than it has been, still unsettled from at least one of the revelations.

“Entrepreneurs,” Eileen says, “and other self-imagined individuals.” Perhaps sensing Emily’s continued discomfort, she turns both her hands flat again and places them on the table’s surface. “There are so many dark, forgotten corners of this country that are still living like the war never ended. Places where civilization hasn’t found a foothold. Rebuilding takes time, money — and your government lacks both.”

On the bright side, at least from the Englishwoman’s perspective, this also means that lesser laws like those that regulated smoking indoors are also rendered obsolete; she slips one hand inside her coat to retrieve a soggy-looking package of cigarettes and a slim plastic lighter. “Not everyone trusts the safe zones,” she confides in Emily, “or there are things they need to make peace with before they can. I help with a settlement out west for people who’ve made the sort of mistakes you can’t take back.”

While basically anywhere qualified as 'west' of the Safe Zone, it didn't take much imagining to figure just how far west she means. Emily's expression settles, and she thinks for a moment in silence.

"So you help people," she ventures. "And are a believer in second chances." She certainly sounds more interested than before, despite the semi-permanent skeptical arch to one brow.

Her gaze shifts to the cigarette pack, and for a moment it looks like she means to tell Eileen how awful they are for her, but her mouth sets into a hard line and she keeps it to herself.

"So… what are the perks?" Emily asks instead. "It sounds like it keeps food on the table, at least."

“I can pay you,” Eileen offers, “if not very well.” The apology is in her voice and the sudden softness of her mouth. “You won’t have to live off the grid with men like Channing, and you can keep your apartment here in the Safe Zone. I understand that your cousin is important to you.”

While the packaging might be damp, the cigarettes themselves are dry enough to take flame. It isn’t long until embers are glowing hot and smoke is billowing from Eileen’s flared nostrils. “A monthly stipend, flat. All I need you to do is represent my interests and be my go-between as needed. If I need a meeting with someone inside the Safe Zone’s borders, you schedule it. If a business opportunity presents itself that might be to my advantage, you make the connection. But most importantly: You’re my eyes and ears. Birds have their limitations.”

"Off the grid would be out of the question for me." Emily interjects. It feels necessary, seeing as relocation appeared to be an option. "My health sets some restrictions."

She reaches for the cup again, threading fingers through its handle to better hold it by its whole. "How frequent are you thinking you'll need me? My plan is to start courses at the college after the new year." She brushes her thumb against the lip of the cup before taking another sip. Another question seems to be forming, but she hasn't figured out how to phrase it yet. A war plays out in her eyes as she weighs what unsettles her against what interests her about the proposition.

“I don’t know.” The answer is at least honest. No lies of omission. No willful ambiguity. Behind her upper lip, Eileen runs her tongue over the front of her teeth. “I’d like to be able to check in with you at least once every other week at a minimum. That may change depending on what you learn.”

"That's fair." Emily decides, deadpan.

She rests the warm cup against her lips after finishing another drink, taking her time before lowering it to her lap. There's a looming feeling in the back of her mind, nagging at her that she didn't know enough to be making any kind of agreements. On the other hand, any job couldn't explain every detail up front. There was a difference between that and trying to make excuses for Eileen just because she found her interesting, though.

"If it doesn't work out, things can just … go back to the way it was before." she suggests.

After, Emily glances back up to Eileen, the angles of her posture softened somewhere along the line. "Are you happy, doing what you do?" She continues to study the smoking woman, genuinely curious as to the answer.

“No.” That’s honest, too. Eileen leans back in her seat, chair legs creaking. “Happiness is isolated moments in time. A rained out wedding day and a ruined dress I kept in the closet for years afterwards, hoping to preserve the memory. Or a piece of music that reminds me of a time when things were more straightforward.”

Emily’s read the book. That makes explaining easier, and allows her to be vulnerable in ways she might not otherwise. “I drink with Ramirez, sometimes, and reminisce about the way we were. The closest I come to happiness now is fantasizing about how it all might have gone differently if Volken had been the person I thought he was and not—”

She makes a vague gesture with her hand, lit cigarette dangling between two fingers and trailing smoke. “Who he actually turned out to be.”

Whatever Emily had been looking for in her question, she must be satisfied, as the flow of questions from her finally tapers down. In the silence her gaze wanders again, clouded as she retreats into her thoughts. Before the distraction clears entirely from her expression she lifts the cup from her lap and drains what remains of her coffee, placing it back on the saucer delicately before leaning to one side to tug open the zipper of her bag.

When she pulls herself back upright, her eyes are still down, now on the phone in her hand. "All right." she voices out loud, rummaging through windows and menus. "Why not."

The phone is placed on the table on an empty contact page, nudged toward Eileen.

"I do have one ask." Her posture and voice both are light, not letting the thought weigh her down. Not placing too much stock in its possibility. "If you come across a healer, tell me."

The phone is already in Eileen’s hand, a number four digits deep, when Emily makes her request. The Englishwoman doesn’t look up at first, but Emily will see her focus shift from the contacts list to her reflection in the screen.

The expression on her own face holds no indication whether or not the next sentence out of her mouth is a wise decision. She says anyway, unnaturally blue eyes lifting: “I have already.”

She’d ask why except she doesn’t need to.

“Finding her again might take time.”

Surprise flickers in Emily's eyes before she blinks, face turned to look out over the bar without really looking. "That's fine," she assures after a pause. She finally lets out a thoughtful note and looks back to Eileen with a very small smile.

"You know a lot of people, don't you?" The shake of her head that comes after the comment is trailed by a chuckle, and she leans forward over the table with her arms crossed against the edge. "Guess I've got a lot of learning to do if I'll keep up." Emily murmurs.

Eileen taps out the remaining three digits into the phone and saves her contact under the name E.G. “That’s true,” she tells Emily as she passes the phone back across the table to her, returning the younger woman’s smile more with her eyes than she does with her mouth.

“But I have a feeling you’ll take quickly to it.”

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