Before Me Comes A Ghost



Scene Title Before Me Comes a Ghost
Synopsis Hunting for Avi, Berlin is found by someone else.
Date March 30, 2019

The trip back to the Bunker is not a short one and Berlin thought she would be less upset by the time she arrived. But she's not. Her expression is flat as she makes her way toward Avi's office, but her hands are balled into fist and her walk is more of a stomp. She's not sure what she's angry at— or what she's most angry at. Or of it's anger at all. But anger is easy to live in and the voices and memories she lives with in her head are a whispered roar in the back of her mind.

She doesn't even knock, she just grabs onto the handle to shove the door open. It's just the first place on her list of places to look for him and she looks prepared to slam the door behind her whether he's present or not.

He isn't.

Avi’s office is in as much disarray as usual. Papers cover his desk along with unopened mail. A computer whose monitor is trimmed with Post-It notes from four years ago is dusty and largely unused. There's a duty roster on the wall, an anachronistically paper one, and several names have been crossed off.

C. Bennet
D. Clendaniel
C. Demsky
N. Gitelman

There's a file folder labeled Sunstone on the seat of his chair, an operations post-mortem signed by Francois, waiting for Avi’s signature before an official report is filed with the US Government. It doesn't look like he's even been in his office today.

On the corner of his desk there's another sticky note, with a reminder scrawled on it: paternity test.

Berlin almost leaves when she sees that he's not there. Her hand tightens on the door handle and she starts to lean back. But she catches sight of one of the notes— one particular note— and she stops and opts to walk into the office instead. Her fingers pick up his reminder, like she needs to look at it closer to really believe what's written there. She stares at it for much longer than two words really call for, until she realizes her hand is shaking.

In her mind, she tries to coach herself. It isn't necessarily about her. It isn't necessarily about him. The problem is, she's not sure what would upset her more, if it was about them or if it wasn't.

Either way, she feels her chest tightening and her eyes starting to burn with tears fighting to get out.

Her hand slams the note back onto the desk and it gets swept along as her hands shove everything off onto the floor. Papers flutter and the monitor slams against the floor with a crunch. She stays leaning against it for a moment, trying to regain some sort of composure. It isn't terribly successful, but she has enough of her mind to realize that running all over the bunker isn't going to be the best use of her time. Her shoes rummage through papers on the floor until she finds the phone. Pushing the intercom on, she announces to the whole of Wolfhound HQ: "Commander Epstein, please come to your office."

It ends with sharp feedback before she clicks it off again.

“Mr. Epstein wasn't here.” The voice comes from behind Berlin, opposite from the door, and where a moment ago there was no one there now stands a white-haired old man in a crisp black suit and white dress shirt. He turns tired blue eyes from the pile of documents pushed to the floor up to Berlin.


At first Berlin experiences a panic reaction; adrenaline spikes, the hair on the back of her neck stands on end, pupils dilate, heart rate climbs. While that's where a human reaction ends, Expressives have a final tier. Berlin’s ability unwinds reflexively, like the hairs on the back of her neck that could sense a subtle displacement of air, so too can her ability sense the presence of life.

Of which she finds none in this man.

“Mr. Epstein is away on business,” the old man says plainly, his voice possessed with a proper British accent and the sandpaper texture of age. “As it so happens, no one is here right now. Save for us, I suppose.”

Berlin whips around, regretting that she doesn't have a weapon on her at the moment. And then a moment later, it settles in that a weapon might not be useful. "What did you do?" She steps away, circling the desk to put it between them. And her hands on the chair. "How did you get in here? Who are you?" She leans on her ability to keep her safe, so having someone able to circumvent it has her thrown more than a little. "Are you a projection? Illusion?"

She hopes it's one of those and not a hallucination. Or one of the others. Rouen had warned her about being too open to them.

The thought makes her shudder. Her hands tighten on the chair, even though she's starting to suspect that won't help her much, either.

The old man raises one hand in assurance, eyes momentarily closed in the gesture. “I have done nothing to harm your friends.” His words are chosen carefully, deliberately. “And… what I am is a longer story than I can explain right now. You may later find some irony in the notion that I do not even have time to explain why I don't have time to explain.” At least the old man finds some mirth in his commentary.

“I need to tell you something, and I urge you to take it with the utmost consideration.” The old man's brows furrow, lips downturned into a frown. “This place is where you can do the most harm,” stings in the way bees do, “but if you find Gabriel Gray… you may yet find your way to a place you can find yourself.”

"Maybe much later," Berlin says as she watches the man. She doesn't relax much as he starts to explain why he's here. An eyebrow lifts. Eyes narrow. But those last words bring her around to actually sit in the chair.

He may have found the magic words to get Berlin to give him that consideration he asks for.

"How do I find Gabriel Gray?" Not why. She knows there is a connection between him and what she holds inside her. The sting in his words makes her voice more raw than she would like. This isn't the person she wants to confide in— she's not even sure she wants to confide in the person she wants to confide in— but it isn't hard to tell his words hit their target. She sags in the chair, pressing the heels of her hands against her eyes for a long moment before she looks back to her visitor. "Why would he bother talking to me?"

“Like attracts like,” is the old man’s opaque answer. “As to where you will find him, unfortunately… that will require you to return to the scene of the crime, quite literally, and go looking for salvation in the shelter of a church.” With eyes cast to the side, the old man looks at the duty roster, brows momentarily furrowed, and then settles his attention back on Berlin.

“The rest is up to you,” he explains, before disappearing in a flicker like a frame cut out of a movie reel. It's as though he was never even there at all. Just another ghost in an already haunted mind.

Berlin tilts her head at the explanation that sounds more like a riddle. If only she didn't know exactly which crime he meant. And if only she didn't have a good idea of which church he meant, too. She doesn't have time to respond to him, so she watches him flicker out. Her eyes close for a long moment while she tries to push away questions about whether he was real or wasn't. Or what sort of real he was. Typically, questions like that don't have comforting answers.

She reaches into her pocket to get her phone; she's run out of steam to hunt Avi down. And if her apparition is right and he's not even here— it would be an exercise in frustration.

Avi, where are you?

The text is followed by another that she probably doesn't need, but that she sends anyway.

It's important.

She sets her phone down, then looks over the mess she's left all over the office floor. Regret crosses over her features and she gets up to start gathering it all back up. And maybe organizing it. The monitor is beyond hope, though.

Some things just are.

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