Burning Books And Bridges


emily_icon.gif joe_icon.gif

Scene Title Burning Books and Bridges
Synopsis After English, Emily and Joe have a chat that gets to be a bit too much for Emily when Joe doses her with some life advice.
Date January 11, 2019

Brooklyn College

"In a world where the population is inhibited from thinking critically, and our protagonist begins to question his reality, the fire chief Beatty confesses to Montag that almost all 'firemen' go through a period of intellectual curiosity and want to steal a book for themselves. Despite this revelation that he himself is well-read, Beatty insists that the world is better off without the printed word — that it is more equalfor not having books."

The longer Emily sits through the discussion, the more intent on doodling in the margins of her notes has become. There's a certain parallel she's drawn out of the reading that she can't shake out of mind, and rather than confronting it, she closes herself off from listening attentively to the bespectacled, middle-aged professor roaming the front of the room.

"Beatty tells Montag that firemen are 'custodians of peace of mind' and that they stand against quote, 'those who want to make everyone unhappy with conflicting theory and thought'." The professor looks up from the loose papers he reads those notes off of, glancing at the seated students. "There's a few questions I want you all to consider in group discussions. Firstly, consider the whole section we've just finished reading: are conflicting ideas the only source of unhappiness in their society? Tell me, what other sources can you point out? Secondly, do conflicting ideas exist in their world even with books being outlawed and destroyed?"

Pulling off his reading glasses and beginning to fold them, he adds, "And the third, I'd like you to discuss now, then expand on in a written response for our next session. Additional credit will be given for answers drawing on historical examples, rather than your own opinion, but it isn't required." He gestures with his glasses, waiting to see what he deems enough of the class ready to jot down his request. "I'd like you to identify at least two effects of repressing conflicting thoughts and ideals."

At that, Emily glances up finally, the look itself highly opinionated.

Joe? Joe has a lot to say about the subject, but he's keeping quiet. By some unholy miracle he's keeping quiet. Maybe one of his siblings stapled his mouth shut before class? No. Staples wouldn't punch through his lips. Super glue? Super glue could do it, but Joe wouldn't be worried about ripping skin by pulling against super glue. So probably not. But he is being quiet. His eyes narrow at the teacher and his condescension. "I'll give you repression of conflict." This is muttered really so only the blonde next to him can hear. Because well… Joe can't stay quiet forever. "This book was dumb. I don't get it. I really don't. How does burning written word stop verbal spreading of ideologies and thought thus bringing about conflict. If anything it's harder to track, which makes it more invasive and insidious than the written word. At least if your people with conflicting thought have books pointing the finger at them they're easier to find." Joe's arms cross over his chest. His comments to Emily are loud enough to be overhead by some, but he really is just talking to Emily. Joe is just loud in general. But he does flop his head over to the side to look over at Emily, and spots that opinionated look. "Lay it on me Ems."

"It's all about catering to the lowest common denominator and making everyone else small, Joe," Emily remarks flatly. "It's about making the little people in the world feel big, like they can do the things extraordinary people can. The point is, deprived of the tools to better yourself and others, deprived of a major vehicle for thinking and development …"

She huffs, leaning back in her seat to look at Joe. "It's different. It's not censure. But the whole lowering the bar, forcing everyone to be alike or die…" At least, that was the implication. That woman with her books had burned in her home, after all.

"Yeah, trying to keep people down doesn't do jack shit in the end." Emily agrees, flicking the cover of the paperback next to her notebook. "What do you bet there's a civil war that goes on by the end of the book?"

"Probably." Joe agrees, nodding his head to Emily's statement. "Oppression breeds resentment. Resentment breeds conflict. And eventually the oppressed will fight back. You take something away from people they're going to buck back. They're going to give you the finger and… yeah." Joe shakes his head a little bit, but reaches into his backpack to pull out a notebook and a pen. He jots a few notes down, mostly consisting of how much of an idiot their teacher is. "I'm pretty sure everyone in this room knows what happens when you try to eliminate conflicting ideas and suppress the masses."

This time Joe does speak up. "Look outside. We still haven't recovered from it. This lesson is stupid. Everyone in this room understands far more intimately than this author ever could just what you get when you do these things." He taps the cover of his copy of the book for emphasis. Joe leans back in his chair, grumbling. "People aren't alike. And every world leader that has tried to force that issue has learned that lesson the hard way." Joe crosses his arms, staring defiantly towards the teacher, though that last comment was mostly for Emily, and spoken at a lower volume. “I think the lesson of the book should be that humanity never learns its lesson and keeps repeating the same mistakes over and over again.”

"Well, we aren't through, yet. Who knows how it ends." Emily replies glibly, ignoring the heads of those who turn toward Joe both from his volume as well as his tone. When she looks back up at the professor, he's actually turned in their direction with something of a smile, though he keeps any commentary to himself. He continues to skim the room, listening, picking up bits of other conversation from other groups as well.

"If you ask me," Emily murmurs; surly, but something appreciative in the comment, "It seems like this guy's got an agenda. One of those people who want to make sure that reminder about human nature gets out, so people stop and think and try not to repeat those mistakes."

"Too bad he's preaching to the choir."

Joe lets out a little snort at Emily's comment. "I'm sure it'll be pretty predictable. Either the Firemen will realize what they're doing is wrong and refuse to work, and probably get imprisoned by their unjust government. Or the one guy will start taking books and keeping them safe or something. Or there will be the civil war you mentioned. Just saying." Joe rolls his eyes and flops his head backwards. "Yeah. Definitely choir if that's the case. Cuz we know. We've seen the evidence of it. One has only to walk to the gate to see it. Or to check their kitchen cupboard because they're hungry and realize that there's nothing to snack on in there, they'll have to wait for a meal to be cooked or whatever have you. Wrong audience. Right message if what you're saying is correct." Joe's cheeks puff out a bit and he rolls his eyes again before he goes back to the conversation.


Brooklyn College Library Café

A bready, chocolate-stuffed pastry sees Emily's mood is improved considerably. Being surrounded in a place of books after open-floor discussion about their class reading felt like an act of rebellion in its own right, a way to challenge that drearily awful reality they'd had to live in for forty-five minutes of reflection on it.

She sighs from her nose as she bites into the pastry, trying to shed the rest of her shitty mood. Emily lifts her head slightly to gesture at Joe with her nose, asking around the bite, "So what's the rest of your afternoon look like?"

Joe has a coffee that he's sipping from. Good coffee if the less grumpy look on his face is anything to go by. "Don't like that class already. I have a feeling my mouth is going to get me in trouble in there too." He puffs out his cheeks for a moment, then lets the breath out and shrugs his shoulders. What can you do? "Uhh I've got…" Joe pauses, reaching into his pocket to pull out a piece of paper. "Math in like an hour and a half, and that's it for today. My classes got spaced out pretty good. Two one day, one another. So the load isn't too bad." Joe's shoulders roll a little bit before he takes another sip from his coffee. It's put down so he can lift the pastry he got, something with powdered sugar on top, and some kind of fruit in it. "What about you?" He asks curiously. Of course it's asked around a mouthful of pastry. And he has powdered sugar all over his mouth and on his shirt.

"I've got Thursdays off. Would be safe for Tuesdays, but there's a lab." Emily shrugs as she finishes off the rest of her bite, peering away to people-watch the rest of the café. If she has opinions about the state of Joe's shirt, which is almost guaranteed, she opts to keep them to herself until there's less powder that can spill immediately on him. And hopefully not from him continuing to talk around his food and get it everywhere.

"Today, though, … all I've got left now is Sign Language here in like forty-five." She squints at that, shrugging before she looks back. She looks a little sheepish for the admission.

"That, and figuring out whether or not I'm going to go into this stupid internship program." Emily's brow flattens as she says it, taking another bite of the pastry to curb her tone. "I'm pretty sure the answer is yes, but you know me, I've got to stew in it first." Elbow on the table, she rubs at her forehead thoughtfully. "The biggest lure for accepting is they want to pay for my tuition. I'm not sure I can turn that down."

She glances back up at him. "You didn't get one, too, did you? From SESA?"

Joe is sometimes an uncouth heathen. Like when trying to eat pastries. It's not his fault he was raised in the wilds of Canada. Not that… that has any real bearing on his ability to eat a pastry without getting it everywhere. He looks down at his shirt, then up, then back down and lets out a heavy sigh, which of course sends the rest of the powdered sugar on his pastry EVERYWHERE. He blinks, then barks out a quick laugh and shakes his head, snorting out a little more laughter before he finishes chewing and swallowing his current mouthful of pastry. "If you need any help at all in Sign Language lemme know. Just about all of the Lighthouse Kids know sign. Fluently. I was teaching classes there for a bit at the library. I got pretty busy with other stuff and kind of fell off. I feel bad about that."

Joe's head tilts to the right a little bit. "Internship program?" Joe asks, sounding a little confused. He doesn't know about this internship program she speaks of. But then she fills him in and his head shakes a little bit. "No… I didn't. Lance did though." Joe's features scrunch up a little bit, but he goes back to eating his pastry, now sans powdered sugar. Or well most of it anyway. He munches away, sipping from the coffee like concoction in his cup, waiting to see what else Emily says on the internship thing. He might be pouting a bit that he didn’t get an offer like that. But then he didn’t apply. And he probably wouldn’t make a very good SESA agent. Rules are not really Joe’s thing.

Emily blinks rather than flinches, waiting for the great powdered sugar disaster of 2019 to continue playing out. Calmly, she leans back to avoid getting it on her coat … as much as possible. But the boy is a mess. She'll continue to be amused at his predicament so long as it remains his and not all over her, too.

"Brynn taught me some, but I wanted to learn more. Properly? I don't know." She squints at the idea, not certain why she's sheepish about it. "I haven't told her yet," she explains as justification for some of her awkwardness on the topic. She leans back, setting her pastry back down on the styrofoam plate.

"Lance did?" Emily's brow shoots up. She is and isn't surprised about that. Letting out a quiet note while she thinks on that, she nudges the plate with the edge of her finger and peers out the large café windows across the patio, eyeing the snow and ice with disdain. "I don't know, I think it'd … shit, be a good resume stuffer?" She cringes her shoulders up into a shrug, scowling at the idea. Surprises of any kind like the letter she got in the mail aren't ones she looks upon favorably. "Just, the whole working for the government thing sounds like something I'm destined for, and I hate that idea. And I hate falling into it so easily."

Looking back at Joe, her expression is dour. She swipes up her cup of coffee and gestures with it vaguely. "But they'll cover my tuition, and I feel like I can't really fucking turn that down, you know?"

"No need to be embarrassed about it Em. Heck after the war there's a lot more people using sign too. Lots of people picked it up as a silent way to communicate. And a lot more people picked it up cuz their hearing got damaged by the fighting. So it will have practical use too. Just don't be confused if you see us using signs that aren't in ASL. We have a code language of our own aside from ASL. And don't. Just pop into conversation with one day. It'll be totally Primal. She'll be super happy. Means a lot to her when people put forward the effort to learn. And trust me, using it is the best way to learn it. So as you learn it? Use it. It helps."

Joe is trying to dust himself off at this point, trying to get all the powdered sugar off of himself. "Yeah. Agent Lin is a friend of ours. We've teamed up with him a few times. And he recommended Lance for the program." Joe does not get himself dusted off. All he succeeds in doing is spreading the powdered sugar out over like all of his shirt. "This isn't working." He remarks in a flat tone. "Like at all." There's a little face made at his shirt, because you know… making faces at inanimate clothing is going to do something.

"Don't think of it as working for the government. Think of it as working for the people. Keeping an eye on the government from the inside. Keeping them in check and keeping them honest. You're working to protect the people from the government." Joe has put some thought into it. Maybe he did want to apply for SESA. "Oh I get that. Tuition is not cheap. At all. I've only got a few classes myself. Couldn't afford more. So I really get it. Go for it. Let them pay for your classes. And just maybe you'll like the job and then it's double primal yah know?"

"Double primal," Emily echoes back dubiously. Was that even possible? She drinks from the top of her cup skeptically. Not even the dollop of whipped cream could make its subpar taste truly appealing, unfortunately.

Somewhere during the sip her thoughts wander, and when she puts the cup back down her look implies she's somewhere else. She finally leans across the table with a napkin to swipe some of the sugar away from his shirt — as futile an effort as it might be as this point — frowning all the while. "Weird," Emily intones in the middle of it "Mine was like a random selection. I think? I don't know." She sighs at the unintentional bleaching that's happened to Joe's torso. "I'm going to have to pick a major before heading into the program. Have to… prove I'm on track to be a productive member of society, and all."

"Don't put water on that to try and wash it out just yet. It's too cold for that shit. You might just have to wear your coat at math or something." She sounds sympathetic with the pronouncement, but really, he should have thought this through better. When she sits back down, she looks a little more at ease, though. "… But yeah. Oversight really is SESA's whole thing, so I guess you're right on track. Sounds a little less 'just following in my parents' footsteps' when you put it like that." Emily squints, realizing her logic is slightly off. It's what she's going with regardless. "Kind of."

Pausing halfway to another drink of her coffee, she grouses, "I'm just hoping I'll get to wear a badge that says 'Intern' and doesn't have my name on it. I'm really not interested in standing out."

"Yes. Double Primal. Apparently they're words we invented in the future. Well a future. Along with Lighthouse Cant. That code ASL I was talking about. Some folks came back from one of the alternate futures. To prevent their future. And they brought back their slang and their Lighthouse Cant with them. And taught it to us. Or we picked it up. So yeah. Self perpetuating slang. So since it's ours we get to do what we want with it." There's a smirk from Joe at that.

His shirt is hopeless. So he has given up on it. He stares at it a moment or two after Emily swats at it with a napkin, then shrugs. "Well, a major isn't a bad thing to have in mind, though most of your beginning stuff is generic anyways. Part of a good rounded education." There's a heavy snort from Joe at that, saying exactly what he thinks of taking classes that have nothing to do with what you want to go to school for.

"Not going to put water on it. Going to find a bathroom and shake it out as best as I can, and then try to ignore it until I get home. Well, back to my shoebox room anyway. Hopefully that'll change here soon. Aunt Gillian said she'd help us get a bigger place that we can all fit in. Which is the absolute weirdest thought. A bigger place. We've lived in cramped conditions pretty much all our lives." Joe's head shakes a little bit. "Not following in your parent's footsteps. More not letting the fact that your parents did similar things deter you from doing it. Just because they did it doesn't mean you can't. And do it better than they did." There's a wink from Joe.

"What's wrong with Emily?" He asks in confusion. Because Joe doesn't know Emily's last name. Nor has he ever asked. Because it's Joe. "If you'd like though I can mention your name to the SESA agents I know. They'll look out for you. There's Rhys and Bowie. Oh and aunt Qu… Robyn. And I think I know other SESA people too. Bunch of folks from The Ferry joined up in positions that would let them monitor the government and their actions. Though I think Aunt Robyn mostly works with Wolfhound. I really need to go out there and see some people. Aunt Stork. Devon. Aunt Robyn. Colette. Maybe I should join Wolfhound instead of doing college. Bet I could be useful there. Not that… they’re likely to take me. But hey. Could be fun.”

Emily looks back up abruptly at the mention of alternate futures, stopping with the cup actually pressed to her lips this time. There's a flash in her eyes before she looks back at Joe a little more oddly than she had before — a little more oddly than she normally does in general. "They…" is as far as she gets, even though her hand with her cup is slowly lowering back down to the table. She clears her throat as he moves on back to classes, interjecting over herself distractedly, "Yeah, yeah. Nice and rounded. It's why I'm taking one of everything." She starts squinting before cautiously and quietly coming back to the earlier topic, "Okay… alternate futures. You mean there's people around now who aren't from here. Like who?" Asked as though she wasn't aware of more than one already.

The thought of the kids moving out into a different place than Lance's apartment derails her, her expression softening. "Hey, yeah, that's great. Better than the sardine can plan that's going on right now." His comments about her not being afraid to continue on a path despite the decisions of her parents earns him a small smile, though it's one that doesn't quite touch her eyes.

Joe hasn't learned Emily's name even in first-day roll call, because she aggressively cut off the professor before he could finish getting the first syllable of 'Epstein' out. Yes, she was Emily. Yes, she was there. And she topped all of her papers with 'Emily E.' instead of her full name.

Ever-surprised at the sheer amount of people and things Joe's been exposed to, she listens to the flurry of names and places silently, save for her expression. It grows a little more loud with time, a little more confused and awed as he keeps going and going. At Devon's name in particular she looks pained, but she shakes her head quickly. "What do you mean Wolfhound wouldn't take you? Aren't you, like, indestructible or something? You'd be perfect if that's what you wanted to do. I'm sure they'd be able to beat the mouth off of you and turn you around." she teases with a grin that quickly fades. "… Not that I think it's a good idea at all," And her tone implies she does not feel that'd be a great life choice. "But you'd be great that that, wouldn't you?"

Joe's head tips to the side just a bit. "I didn't know they were from an alternate future until recently. Made perfect sense though." Cuz yeah, Joe caught the look from Emily and he just took it for one of confusion. "I'm probably dead in their future though. Since none of them looked like I do now. And none of them were bulletproof. And I don't remember any of them talking about anyone like me. So in their future I'm probably a casualty. That sucks." Joe's shoulders lift in a half shrug. Joe is used to people looking at him oddly. So he doesn't take any real notice of Emily looking at him that way.

"Yeah the nice rounded thing is kind of silly in my opinion. Like if I want to become an engineer then English Literature makes zeeeero sense. I mean not that I'm intending to become an engineer. I don't have the patience for that sort of field. Where you literally measure progress in molecular scale. It's a totally primal field. Just… not for me."

Joe switches tracks easily back to the whole alternate future thing. Cuz well… that's a pretty normal conversation for him. And for most of the Lighthouse Kids to be honest. "Uhhh people. Like Lance's future wife. Or well probably not anymore? I dunno. But she taught him how to use his powers better. Guessing Lance was a casualty too since he didn't come back with the rest. Some of them probably don't even exist in our timeline because of the changes they made. But it's probably not really my place to out them." Joe, showing a rare moment of circumspection. "But you met Lene at Gillian's birthday party. And she mentioned being Gillian's daughter, which she totally couldn't be. But she is cuz she's from the future. So I guess that one is okay. Cuz she outed herself. Though I'm not sure if she's from the same future as the others? Could be though. I haven't asked. Pretty primal though."

"Yeah. I mean… yeah. I'm excited about it. But also like… I dunno. The cramped close quarters thing is kind of our thing? I guess we'll all need to grow up eventually though. And by grow up I mean… like… grow up grow up. Like Peter Pan in that super old movie Hook. I mean not that we'll forget about eachother but eventually we're going to have our own paths to tread." Joe's features scrunch up a bit, but he takes a few sips from his cooled coffee as he thinks about that and his features smooth out. He finishes his coffee, and puts it on the now empty paper plate. Because he ate that pastry dangit. Even though it made a mess everywhere.

Joe's features change with Emily's, but his look more and more confused as hers looks more and more alarmed? Surprised? Worried? HE'S NOT SURE! "You know Devon? I saw that look. And it looked like a not good look. Why would you give Devon a not good look look? He brought us supplies. Like food. And mail and stuff. When we were up in Canada. Did he do something wrong? Is he in trouble? Did he get hurt?" Joe looks both alarmed, and confused, and ready to spring into action go to help Devon if help is needed. "I mean… I don't have any formal military training. No combat experience. Well not like… combat combat. I dunno. I mean the bulletproof thing would help I'm sure. And I doubt they'd be able to beat the mouth off of me. Brian couldn't do it. I doubt they could." Joe shrugs his shoulders a bit. "I dunno if I'd be good at it. I don't like killing. I mean I will, for the sake of defending my family and stuff. But I don't like it. And I know they do a lot of killing. Maybe Frontline if they ever reform it? That'd be cool. I could do that."

"I mean, she didn't really out herself, I don't think," Emily interjects awkwardly about Lene, like she feels the need to point that out. Getting any information out of her about her power, her past … it'd all taken some goading. She doubted Lene was open about it with most people. Regardless, her mind's spinning. Just how many people were out there who weren't actually from the here-and-now? And these ones in particular were from a future? If Lene were in that boat…

Emily starts to look off to the side, distracted. Joe's keyed in on her earlier expression, though, going off about it. She blinks repeatedly, expression failing. "I…" she starts, trying to explain, but he keeps rambling on anyway. Color floods her cheeks as she's stopped short in her explanation, not even sure where she'd begin to pick it back up. "Devon's…" The source of a great exasperation, if her inability to elaborate signifies anything. Her gaze breaks off from him, and she looks back toward a table near the window.

Attempt two at explaining goes just as well as the first, except now she doesn't know what to say at all. So her brow furrows sharply instead, focusing on something else. She reaches across the table to swat at him. "Hey, Hook is barely older than we are, it's not super old."

"I mean… she said she was Gillian's daughter. When she clearly couldn't be unless Aunt Gilly started when she was like 12 or something. Just sayin. Kinda outed herself. Sort of? Maybe?" There's a scrunched up face from Joe. "Don't tell her I told you that. Maybe she didn't out herself as much as I thought. But like… she did to me. But I guess I know more than most people do so I guess it's different?" Joe's head tiiiiilts to the right as he ponders that.

But then Emily is responding to Devon. Well sort of responding about Devon. He looks at her, then his face LIGHTS up. A big wide grin and wide eyes. "Nooooo." He drawls it out slowly his eyes wide as saucers. "You're dating Devon? Dude!" Joe cackles and hops up out of his chair, racing around the table to give Emily a big hug. "Why didn't you tell us? We all know Devon. Devon is good peoples! You should have told us. But then I guess you might not have known we know Devon. So I guess it's forgivable. Just remember in the future Emily. We know EVERYONE. Cuz everyone came by the Lighthouse. Or was at Gun Hill. Or at Pollepel. Or came to visit us in Canada."

Joe's grin is still a big one as he ohs and lets Emily go from the hug, then goes back to his seat and retakes it, leaning back a little bit. "That really is awesome though. Devon is awesome peoples, and so are you. And… you just hit me." Joe looks down at the swatted spot on his arm, then back up to Emily, then down to the swatted spot on his arm, then back up to her, blinking slowly. "Hook is ancient. It's from like 1991. I was born in… well actually I'm not sure entirely when I was born. But I'm 19ish so… that puts me born in 2000 ish. Which means Hook is at least 9 years older than I am. Ancient. Super ancient. But we had it on VHS up in Canada. And we watched the crap out of that poor tape."

Joe picks up his trash, and Emily’s if she has some, and walks over to throw it out before he returns back to the table and shoulders his bag. “So. You’ve got class soon, and I’m not letting you out of my sight until you tell me about you and Devon. So… start spilling hombre.”

Yes, Joe. Yes, he knows more than most people. More than he probably should, and he intuits very well.

Or maybe Emily's just easy to read.

Her own eyes widen in response, "No," she says warningly, head canting to the side. She lifts one finger up in a point, but it's not thrown accusingly. More like 'wait'. "No, no." she continues as his initial note is still drawn out. When he jumps to his conclusion, her brow slants sharply. "Joe," she says in a louder warning note, though her face only grows warmer to the touch. When he comes around the side of the table, she actively fights him off, arms out from her side but he snakes in anyway to dote on her with that undeserved hug. "No!" she insists while being squeezed in it.

But Joe is incorrigible.

She sighs at him when he laments she's hit him, giving him a look like she clearly means to do it again if he doesn't mind himself! When he cycles off to throw away the trash, she's getting her things together, her old cerulean bookbag slung over her shoulder. She's in the process of reaching for her coffee when he insists on her sharing more about Devon, and pauses to raise a hand threateningly at him before swiping the cup up and drinking from it.

"I guess you're following me to ASL, then." she says over her shoulder.

She should know better. Joe will definitely follow her.

It's a thought that hits her only after a few steps. A vision swims in her eyes; the thought of having to explain this in Sign Language in front of an entire classroom. An actual living nightmare of airing her personal life in front of a bunch of strangers, in a non-native language. Yeah, that would be one for the books. Emily slows her pace, free hand coming up to rub the side of her nose … stopping just short of pushing into the bridge of it.

"We're not dating," she clarifies loudly first, shooting a severe look at him out of the corner of her eye as she continues to head for the front of the building. "I don't know what we are. We met last year at the Yamagato Gala. He wouldn't fuck off, and he made a bad impression. I'd forgotten about him again when I saw him again in … August? At Elmhurst Hospital." Emily's head ducks self-consciously while she walks, taking a sip of her coffee while on the move. "I don't know, he gave me his number and asked for the chance to apologize."

"That's all he's been doing this entire time. Apologizing. He fucked up bad in December and now he's trying to apologize again. He—" Her breath hitches for a moment, that hurt and pain visible again before she shakes her head, swallowing hard to work through it. "Richard used him to lure me to Raytech, and Devon wasn't smart enough to realize in advance that that was a bad fucking idea."

She pauses by the door, having no desire to continue the conversation out in the arctic cold that's blasting around out there. She adjusts the coffee between her hands, starting to pull her gloves out of her pockets. "Joe, I shouldn't have anything to do with him. It's a bad fucking idea from the start." Emily sounds weary, like it's an argument she's had with herself multiple times and now she has to start sharing that burden with others, too.

"Uhh yeah I'm following you to ASL. That was totally the point of me grabbing my bag and saying you've got class and I'm not letting you out of my sight…" Joe points back at the table, then in the direction of classrooms, then back, then back again. "Or did I miss something there?" Joe's hands move around a little bit as if reenacting what just happened a few moments before, his head nodding a bit. "Yeah no I got it." He sticks his tongue out at Emily as he starts walking with her. Sometimes, occasionally, Joe is a smart ass on purpose. And is utterly incorrigible. Like at all times.

He strolls along at a steady pace, but then flips around so he's walking backwards, because conversations should be had face to face. Of course he also doesn't really have to worry about running into things. Which he proves, by running into things. He clips a chair, and a trash can, and a table all while walking backwards and talking, and probably in a short period of time. Like the first thirty seconds. "So. Devon. Spiiiiiilll." And then he goes quiet, for the ten seconds or so it takes Emily to tell him how and where they met. "Oooo the Gala? I heard it was pretty cool. Sounds romantic. I mean other than him being a jerk and making a bad impression. See Devon is not always good with the things we call words. But he has a good heart. And he's cute." There's a teasing wink from Joe at Emily.

He tips his head a little bit. "Some of us end up apologizing a lot. It's true. But we don't realize we've done the dumb until after we've done it. Then it's too late to take back the dumb and not do the dumb to begin with. Trust me. I'm an expert at doing the dumb and then wishing I could take it back later. But I also kind of just have no filter between my brain and my mouth." Joe frowns a bit at the mention of Devon being used to lure Emily to Raytech. "He probably didn't realize that Richard is a shady cuss sometimes. That's… I mean can you really blame him for being duped?"

Joe reaches out a hand to settle it on her shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. "Maybe he honestly thought he was being helpful. I mean can you stay mad at him for trying to be nice?" It's an honest question, not a rhetorical one. "Shouldn't have anything to do with him? Why? He's a good guy. No reason not to give something a chance. And if it turns out to be a bad idea then you'll know for next time. And if it turns out to be good then awesome. Opportunities not taken are opportunities missed. I think Brian said something like that. Only he was more cryptic about it."

"Jackass," Emily mutters at him with a smirk more like a sneer, swatting at his arm again. He knew just how he was being and was flaunting it. In that case, she really was in trouble. Him knocking into everything he could and being generally as noisy as possible was another sign. She almost suspects it's on purpose, to drive her to a point of discomfort where she finally cracks and talks to him. If so, well played.

"The Gala was a bunch of well-connected asshole acting stuck up and fucking around in each others' personal lives. And there was paparazzi. It was an actual nightmare come to life, Joe." she informs him dourly. "If I wanted someone to go digging through my personal affairs unannounced and at a glance, that's what I come see you for, and I can barely handle that as it is." Her head tips forward at him with that dry joke before she looks off out the door. Man, it even looked frigid from here, with how the snow had caked up into the glass from all the winds over the weekend. She squints suspiciously at the ribbing about Devon's appearance, not dignifying the comment with even a glance.

"Did you just admit to being an expert at asking things that aren't your business and you shouldn't pester people about? Understatement." Emily mutters. She settles the paper coffee cup carefully into the crook of her arm as she pulls on her gloves. "I'm thinking he's well-aware of what Richard was like. He wasn't duped. He knew what he was doing, even if for a while…" she lets out a frustrated sigh. "I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. But, he told me he knew. It was a calculated risk on his part, and he's just…"

Emily shrugs instead of giving voice to exactly what she thinks he is. She clicks her tongue quietly. When Joe's hand lands on her shoulder, she finally looks back at him, brow starting to furrow. "Yes. I can hold him accountable for him having fucked up, and guard myself against being hurt like that again." She turns slightly toward him, bringing her coffee cup back to her hand. "I gave him a chance," And then another, all too recently, but she doesn't mention that. "And as soon as I gave him my trust, he abused it." Her shoulders lift high, daring Joe to question her on it.

"Also, he works with my dad?" Emily's brow furrows down uncertainty, her posture drooping back down. "So that's fucked right there. And his job is dangerous, so that's fucked. He just… can disappear without a word. And he's a good guy, and that makes it even more fucked that that's a thing that can happen. And—" The light in her eye changes as she catches herself saying way more than she meant to, gravitating toward the door. "And I'm fucked if I don't shut up. I'm leaving now, okay? This is me, running away." Slowly. With ample notice. Because she'd met her limit, but wasn't going to bolt without a word. Somehow, that seemed like a more likely way to be chased after.

"You going to take it as it lies or still follow me to class? I know how to say 'fuck off, Joe' in ASL, and I'm not afraid to use it." she advises with a warning tone.

Joe mock gasps, putting a hand up to his chest. "Moi? How very much dare you Emily something something. How very much dare you. A donkey? I'm at least a mule. A horse preferably. But a donkey?" Joe's head shakes in a slow motion, a dramatic look of disapproval and disappointment on his features. "I really can't quite believe this. Try to befriend someone. And they call me names."

He keeps his hand clutched to his chest as if the wound persists, though his features settle into an amused smirk when Emily gets all ranty about the Gala. "Yeah. We thought about sneaking in there. Grabbing some free food and causing a little mayhem. Feasting and throwing parties while the rest of the Safezone was starving? Bad form. But we decided that getting arrested on what is technically foreign soil would probably be a bad idea." Joe's grin is wide, a classic Joe grin.

He nudges the door open a bit so a little blast of cold air hits Emily, then he cackles as he darts out the door and holds it open for his friend. Friend. "I am an expert in many things. Prying around where I'm not welcome or wanted is one of them. But so is ferreting out secrets. And helping people. I'm an expert at helping people. Or at least at trying to help people. Still haven't helped some people I've been trying to help. But I'm trying at least. More than most people can say." He sticks his tongue out at Emily, though he does pause at the further explanation of Devon and what he did.

"Oh. Well. Yeah. I got nothing then. He pulled a dumb. And you should absolutely never trust him again. In fact you should close yourself off from all trust. Forever and ever. And that includes me. Right now. You need to stop trusting me immediately. I'm going to lead you down a dark path Emily. So dark and and spooky! You'll need a flashlight. With like twelve backup batteries." Jose pauses a second. "Sorry 24. Two batteries per go so yeah, 24 batteries. And… stuff. Yeah I got nothing else there. I'm bad at being serious." He really is.

"But you do like him. The blush on your cheeks tells that story. But if you need to back away then back away. Gotta do what's good for you Em. And sometimes that means protecting yourself. I'm lucky in that the only way I usually get hurt is emotionally. Though there was that one time Eimi was getting us away from the Fear Monger. She stressed her teleportation power too much getting a bunch of us out. Screwed us up. Ripped me up inside. Hospital had to negate me so they could fix me up. But yeah. So I can get hurt. But usually it's emotionally. So I understand. Emotions make me feel vulnerable. I don't shy away from them, but it's why I sometimes let them get the better of me. I guess?" Joe's shoulders roll in a half shrug.

Joe's lips pull into an easy smile. "Hey. It happens. Good people get killed. Sometimes very good people. It's part of life. It shouldn't be. But it is." Joe's shoulders roll in another shrug. "I wish it wasn't. But it is. Gotta take the happy where you can find it." Joe steps in, and whether Emily wants it or not she's getting another hug. "You're good people Emily. Don't let the world get you down okay? Be the best you and screw everything and everyone else." There's a wink from Joe, but he doesn't try to follow her. He will however stand there and wave at her until she's out of sight. No matter how long that might take.

At first, Emily looks elated someone's on her side. Trust was an important thing to be choosy with, yes. "Yes, exactly!" she insists, but then Joe keeps going and she catches on to his sarcasm. Her expression sours considerably, falling slowly further and further the longer he carries on. Her face has colored again, indignant irritation building up and threatening to become something more permanent.

"Fuck you, Joe." Emily tells him coarsely, and that's before he wrangles another hug out of her. He's standing in the doorway she's trying to flee through — it is physically impossible to avoid him. "Fucking— Joe, god damn it, would you just…"

Yes, limits had been met. Arms flailing, she also stamps on his toes with her heel as she tries to move past him — for all the good it does her.

When she gets past him, she looks back to hear the last of his lecture about being taking the happy moments as they come, looking much like an arched-back feral cat that someone's just tried to dote on. She might appreciate this later on, but in the moment, she's just pissed.

When she walks away to her next class, it's with her back turned and her middle finger stuck high into the air.

Off to be the best her, and screw everyone else.

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