emily2_icon.gif kaylee5_icon.gif

Scene Title Blonde
Synopsis After answering a bit about what it's like to be a telepath, Kaylee asks Emily a simple question.
Date June 4, 2019

Red Hook

Emily Epstein lets out a long sigh, thumbing the side of the throwaway coffee cup she has loosely clutched between both hands. She sits hunched over a mesh patio table outside a cafe. The long leaves of a stubborn, resilient tree planted near the street shift in a strong breeze, changing the shade cast over the area.

The sigh tapers into a squinted yawn, mostly unseen behind the blue-shaded aviator lenses she wears over her face. She had a long night, it would seem. But for once, her thoughts aren't shouting as much. Either tiredness has taken its toll on her, or something else is at play for the normally mentally-loud teenager.

Stepping up the cafe, sunglasses cover Kaylee’s own blue eyes. It doesn’t take her long at all to find Emily by mental hum, then by presence. Hands tuck into the pockets of her leather jacket as she approaches. “You know, I was surprised to hear from you,” the telepath comments pleasantly. “Hello, Emily. You look like hell,” she adds equally so.

Moving to sit, Kaylee pushes the sunglasses up on her head, eyes squinting against the brighter light. “Have to admit, I’m curious what this favor is.”

It takes Emily a second to put Kaylee’s new appearance in line with what she’d come to expect of the woman. She stops mid-yawn, blinking behind her sunglasses.

She remembers the representation of Kaylee seen in Devon’s memories had looked a lot like she does now. Did it mean she was more like herself, now? It’s still hard to reconcile with, seeing how different she’d been when they’d first met.

“You look like you’re falling in with the wrong crowd yourself,” Emily quips on the tail end of her yawn. She sits up a little straighter, still holding onto the cup between her hands as Kaylee sits. The implicit question posed to her goes unanswered at first, something happening in the quiet, deadened hum of her thoughts.

“How are you doing, anyway?” the teenager asks, head tilting to emphasise the sincerity of her question. Whatever it is she means to ask, she’s not wanting to push for it if Kaylee was still recovering, one might figure. Or, she could just be getting the pleasantries out of the way.

“If you consider the NYPD the wrong crowd, sure,” Kaylee comments with a bit of a humorless smirk. There is clearly a strain there and a strain to the brightness.

Fingers thread blonde locks behind an ear as she considers the younger woman’s question. “Depends on the day really. Running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Going down like I did, put me behind again with the police academy and I had to catch up.” Kaylee leans forward on the table. “That is on top of all the shit the family is alway up to.”

Kaylee can’t help but joke, giving Emily “Doesn’t leave a girl much time for a social life. Of course, most of my social life just left overseas. So I guess that worked out.” Jerking her chin in Emily’s way she asks, “How about you? Devon holding up?”

Well, if she's doing all that, she's plenty recovered. Emily's posture relaxes as Kaylee carries on conversationally, relief showing in it. There's some interest, a quirk to the angle of her head at the specifics, but the question being turned back on her takes her by surprise. Her expression blanks, and after a beat, she gives a reluctant nod. “Yeah,” she says slowly. “I think about the best he can be.”

She shifts her weight in her seat, voice delicate as she says, “As for me…” and adjusts her grip around her coffee. “I've been working with someone. Training with them, I guess you could say.” Definitely could say, actually.

Even without Emily's eyes being visible behind her shades, the slight retilt of herself toward Kaylee gives away the shift in her gaze back to the telepath. “It included some mental resilience training, but he kept stressing he wasn't a telepath. And the more I thought about it, the better of an idea it seemed to…” There's a pause as she weighs what she means to say, but Emily tips her shoulders up in a shrug as she clarifies, “to find someone trustworthy to work on that with.”

There is a flicker of amusement at the roundabout request. Kaylee’s head tilts ever so slightly to one side as she considers. “You’re not the first and probably not the last that comes to me about that kind of thing.”

There is no judgement on Kaylee’s part. “It’s not a cure all fix, if the telepaths are like me, they will still know where you are.” Holding up a hand she adds, “But keeping them out can be done or at least making them work for it. It’s a lot of work and will take awhile. I have a friend I’ve been working with for awhile, he’s making progress, but has a ways to go.” She does admit that, “He also started with no resistance, not everyone is like that.”

“With basically all of this, that's my goal. Just be better than I was before.” Emily reassures, dashing away any thought of creating some kind of perfect defense. “Keeping someone out, stopping listening to them, that's really the biggest goal. I mean, Teo's tried, and he says it's not the same, but projecting your voice on someone…” she tapers off skeptically, shrugging her shoulders. She thinks it's kind of the same, having an invasive voice pop up in your head telling you things. “I just want to have a leg up, best foot forward in case anything ever happens… to me or…”

to Devon. is a silent murmur, and she glances back down self-consciously.

“I've figured out how to calm myself down when I feel and hear something off, started working on making myself — I don't know — less loud?” She tries to think about the other exercises they've gone through, narrowly avoiding flinching at remembering the blast of pain that had come with Teo shoving at her with his ability. “Um… just… resilience stuff. Dealing with someone messing with me, working on my recovery time.”

“But it all boils down to I don't really know how that fares against an actual telepath,” Emily explains. “So I'd like to see, and to work on that, if you have any time to help me with it.”

Arms crossed, the telepath leans forward to listen to what Emily wants to accomplish. The mention of Teo gets a small wistful smile. “Now that is a name I haven’t heard in some time. He helped me free my husband from the Company once. Feels like forever ago.” Just a small nostalgic moment, really. Kaylee doesn’t dwell on that, focusing more on what Emily needs.

“I don’t know if Eileen or your father ever talked about Pollepel, but I was there.“ To be fair it is probably common knowledge. “Eileen put me in charge of finding an assassin. Unfortunately, he had mental training and got the drop on me.” Kaylee spreads hands, “Never found out who it was. They managed to cover their thoughts and mental thumbprint with music.” Which sounds weird saying it out, but it worked.

“So it is possible. When in doubt until you are trained…. loud sounds. Louder the better.” Kaylee points out helpfully. “When I want to drown out the mental humming I replace it with loud music. Loud sounds are disruptive and distracting.” There is a grimace, so it is obvious she has been a victim to that often enough.

Emily blinks, brow slowly arching at hearing what Teo had done. There are so few Teos (relatively speaking), that she doesn't question that it's not the same person. ‘Wow’, she mouths, surprised. The look of awe is quickly shattered at mention of Pollepel, something more haunted quickly taking its place.

Pollepel was never explicitly discussed with her outside a single event, unnaturrally sharp images of it floating to top of mind, given she wasn't ever on Pollepel herself. Fires, the silhouette of the castle surrounded by a blood red, discolored sands on the beach surrounding bodi—

It may not be the prescribed use for it, but the images and sounds are quickly covered over with music in an attempt to keep herself in the moment rather than wandering down that dark mental path. Pop, loud and peppy, acts as a static over the unpleasant memory and the pop of gunfire. It comes in stutters, a conscious effort to keep it up over what she's trying to drown out.

“Sorry,” Emily murmurs, all too aware of the noise she's likely creating. With some distraction, she adds, “Okay, so… noise. Make lots and lots of noise.” For just a moment, her lips quirk in a weak smile. “I probably have that part down better than I know,” she apologizes again.

She shakes her head, still having some trouble. “Teo is a good guy,” Emily segues back. “I'm not sure he believes it enough, but he is.”

The images of Pollepel bring back her own memories of the place, causing Kaylee to pale and look away. Once the images disappear behind music and dull back to a hum, the woman takes a settling breath. “You’re okay,” her tone a bit strained. “Anyhow, yeah. You have a good start, but I’m talking actual loud noises, not just in your head.” The smile is weak when Kaylee turns back.

“Stereo on blast. A high consistent tone,” Kaylee shrugs a shoulder and grins. “It works.”

Teo comes back around and Kaylee chuckles, “He is. When I knew him he ran with the Remnants. Or should I say, the one I knew.” There were a few after all. “We didn’t run many of the same circles, so he might not remember me. But he did, helped me plan a raid, and was there when it went down. I’m glad to know he made it through all the crap.” There are some memories you never really forget.

Ah, so she knows that the tale of multiple Teos. (Emily doesn't, not entirely, herself.) (If she thought about it harder, she might figure it out, but she’s got bigger issues to ponder about.) Emily arches her brow above the frames of her sunglasses and she tilts her head, finally sliding the shades away from her face. She folds the arms of them away, cradling the aviators between both hands. She almost says something about Teo’s memory, but decides to leave it be. That’s not why she’s here.

“Okay, actual loud noise,” she acknowledges, the same apology in it as before. There’s drive behind it now, though. “What else is there to consider? What if someone’s already in, and I’m just now realizing it?” Her brow is furrowed, the hypothetical treated with gravity. “What would you recommend?”

Kaylee considers the question, thoughtful, “The trick is to not let them in in the first place.” Might not be what she wants to hear, but… “Once I am in someone’s head… I’m disconnected from the physical senses of my body. You focusing steadily on a single thing can help resist against me getting in there.” The telepath sounds like she is in teaching mode.

“An earworm song, or focusing on a single strong memory. The man that attempted to kill me used Moonlight Sonata. I’ll never forget that song… ever.” There is a haunted look in Kaylee’s eyes, which quickly shift away to focus settled elsewhere.

“A mind is a complicated thing, but we can only control access to so much, once past what we can learn to control and the telepath has you.” Blue eyes watch people move around the market, but more so, she is forcing herself to look back on memories. “I’ve been up against trained minds, it is like trying to push through molasses. I might get glimpses, but that is it and I am usually exhausted in a short time.”

Focuses back on the young woman, the telepath smiles gently. “This probably all sounds scary.” Kaylee does have some reassurance. “But I assure you, with training, you will develop a natural resistance. Like riding a bike, once it is there, your mind will remember. You already have some defense, I can feel it without pressing in or trying to access your mind.” All this time talking and Kaylee’s ability was curled invisible around the woman’s mind.

“Well good,” Emily blanches, seeming more relieved than she probably should. In reality, though, because she understood so little about telepathy (about abilities in general), she assumed it to be absolute in its reach. Kaylee's cautioning about the nuance and complexity of it all is only vaguely reassuring, and she holds onto what advice is given. “Working with Teo hasn't been for nothing, then.”

As for it sounding scary, the teen slowly shakes her head. “No, it's… reassuring to hear that you really can learn to defend yourself like that, too. I had myself convinced for a while it was hopeless, that telepaths are just … All-powerful or something, and I think a lot of people might have the same opinion. Might be why they're apprehensive about them.” A nebulous they, to be sure, but maybe specifics don't matter there.

A corner of her mouth curls up as she goes onto say, “I mean, it might make telepaths less scary knowing you can defend yourself, but neither do you want to go telling people too much, right? Can't exactly go on a public awareness campaign without hurting yourself if you ever needed to know something quickly, I guess.”

She takes in a breath, posture righting. “I guess my biggest question is whether or not you can really feel if anyone's trying to get in, or if it just happens. I've been more self-conscious about it since I first ran into you. I had… no idea I'd been broadcasting like that.”

“No.. not all powerful. Some seem that way, but we are not. It is a lonely life being one or was… it takes work and a lot of patience, but people have learned to trust me.” She has a reputation now. One she protects. Still, Kaylee can’t help but chuckle when she admits, “And I probably won’t go out on an awareness campaign, you are right.” She can at least look apologetic. “But, I’m also not going to invade the personal space of everyone I meet. It’s rude.” It really was.

“Me, I prefer to keep up a personal barrier,” Kaylee explains about herself, in reference to Emily’s loud thoughts. “To be honest, I have to. My ability never shuts off. These barriers reduce the noise to a hum, but even that isn’t going to shut out loud thoughts.” A finger taps against her chin, pondering examples to help visualize. “Think about standing in a hotel… one of those sleazy ones with the thin walls? Like you see on TV. No matter how you try, sometimes you are going to hear what the people are arguing about next door.” it was the best analogy she had.

As for feeling it… “If a telepath finds resistance, they have to push - like when I push a finger on your arm - you are going to feel it. A pressure.” Here, Kaylee puts up a finger. “Unless we find a hole in the defense.” Not all defense is perfect.

Emily’s mouth quirks in a small smile. It’s rude, Kaylee says. She’s not sure she’d be able to resist, herself… but it did sound complicated, like you couldn’t filter out just the important things. You’d get everything whether you wanted it or not. That’d be hard, she figures. It takes her a moment to come back to the present, but even then she’s still taking a small walk in the life of a telepath, getting to know what it’s like. She wasn’t expecting it to go quite like this, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Her brow furrows at that ‘unless’ that’s spoken. “I realize it’s a bit specific, but is there … like a common gap in people’s defenses? Something I should try to be conscious about?”

While Emily is lost in thought, Kaylee excuses herself to take a moment to get a mocha. Somehow, she manages to return in time for the question. It was a good one. “I’m not sure. It varies from person to person and how strong the resistance the mind is.” A sip is taken before she continues. “I wish I had a really good explanation on how it works. I’m not sure I fully understand it myself.”

Hands curl around the cup, as Kaylee struggles to find a way to explain it. “You just have to be fully committed to keeping them out. Don’t let them distract you too much. At least until the natural resistance strengthens. When someone gets up to the age of your dad, with the training… it’s tough, very. They have to be willing to let you in. I’ve been in his head,” she says with a softly huffed chuckle. “One of the few people I've merged minds with like that.” She holds up a finger, her voice flattening out. “Which I don’t recommend. It was an emergency when I did it.”

Varies from person to person. Emily frowns at that. “Teo said it’s important to be flexible, not rigid; firm, without being brittle.” She sounds like she doesn’t think that’s a good explanation of it either, even if it’s one she’s come to understand slightly better. “Be more conscious of my biorhythms, focus on controlling them. Depending on what it is, envision the influence of it drifting away so it doesn’t affect you. In cases where that’s impossible…”

Her eyelids flutter, the image of driftwood floating on a stormy sea hiding behind them. “… to just go with the flow. Ride it out without fighting it. Wait to seize your moment and seize control back.”

The teenager’s expression tightens with discomfort, looking down at the aviators in her hand. When her father is mentioned the nature of the tension shifts, a conflict tearing in her. Emily studies her reflection in the lenses, almost not seeming to hear — at least at first — that it was due to an emergency that Kaylee had to reach into his head anyway. “Can you tell me…” what he’s like never makes its way entirely out, realizing that him at that one point in time might not be reflective of him as a person. She fails to come up with an alternative end to that question, though.

“Not bad advice really,” Kaylee says after a moment of consideration. “but, yeah, methods vary, just like abilities vary. My telepathy is nothing like others I have met. There are common elements, but we develop different ways and methods. Always shifting and adapting.”

She doesn’t linger on that longer then she has to, shifting gears Kaylee takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. What was Avi like? “Not a lot to say about your father, our interactions have been minimal at best. Pretty sure the first time I met him, he was planning to kill me.” There is a bit of a lop-sided smile. “But, in the end we ended up on the same side, with the Ferry. He’s a good guy, if a bit weird and wacky at times, but then again he has seen some shit.” She should know, she’s been in his head.

“I mean, the man trusted me enough to let me into his head so I could help him see,” sorta. That was pretty crazy on his part in her opinion, what if she had been some other telepath with less restraint. “And help protect a van load of children we were sneaking over the border. “ Emily has probably heard versions of that story. “He had been blinded, couldn’t see… so with the help of my friend Gillian, I got in there, and showed him where the targets were. Thinking back, I’m still floored that it worked.” She really.

Emily has heard this story before, but not in this way. And what a juxtaposition of images it is, especially when held against the first time he and Kaylee met. “Wow,” is all she can admit at first, because it is impressive.

She's derailed, lost in absorbing what she's heard instead of driving the conversation forward. Setting aside her shades, she picks up her drink delicately. “You've all been through some shit, haven't you,” the teen voices as soon as the thought comes to her.

There is a huffed chuckle of amusement at that thought. “You could say that,” Kaylee says quietly, looking up from her coffee and the warped mirror of her face. “On my own and in the minds of others. Maybe not half as much shit as my brothers, but…I’ve had my share.”

Kaylee lifts the cup in a sort of a salute, a small acquiesced smile, “So is the life of a telepath.” After a sip, the cup gently set on the table again. “And I wouldn’t fucking change a thing about it. I am who I am.” But is she? She was more than she has ever been before, that much she does know.

“I’m not sure I could handle the silence if I wasn’t,” Kaylee says quietly. It sounds almost like an afterthought, said to herself.

"People can handle a lot more than they think they can, when it comes down to it. If they're willing to open their mind to it," Emily muses before she takes a drink. Letting it mull, she adds with a sharpening of her gaze, "Or close their mind off from paying attention to it, in other cases."

The corner of her mouth twinges with a sympathetic smile before she looks off, engaging in some idle people-watching.

"We are who we are," she adds as an afterthought of her own, lifting a hand to brush her hair from her face as a breeze rushes its way down the street.

“That we are,” Kaylee agrees softly, with a smile over to the young woman across from her. She would be her second student. “Maybe you are right, I’d probably be fine eventually, but… again… I don’t hate what I am.” There is a slow dismissive shrug.

After a moment of silence and a thought of taking her leave, Kaylee quips softly, “Hey,” She calls over with a wicked grin, pulling Emily’s attention back. Fingers flick long strands of hair back over her shoulder. “What’s the color of my hair?”

Looking back to Kaylee, Emily's brow knits down in a stubbornly suspicious twitch. Something feels off, but she can't put her finger on it. Why so simple a question? It feels like it's got to be a deception of some kind. "It's…"

Emily gets it wrong.

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