Coming Out Of Hiding


brynn_icon.gif emily_icon.gif

Scene Title Coming Out Of Hiding
Synopsis Brynn comes to visit Emily, who confides a little about what she's been going through while they catch up.
Date August 9, 2019

Laudani-Epstein Townhome, Sheepshead Bay

The townhome Emily had moved into sometime in spring had remained one of those accidental secrets for far too long by nature of her forgetting to bring it up. When Brynn had texted to see how she was doing and her only real answer was that her friend could come hang out over at her place if she wanted, she'd almost forgotten to send the updated address entirely.

There's a cat, she had warned, and indeed— there is a gangly-legged black kitten who stalks in and out of the bright living room space at his leisure, coming and going in indecision. A low-backed section hugs a corner of the wall, adorned with several comfortable throw pillows and two blankets tossed over the back of either end. Well, one blanket currently — the other is wrapped around Emily's lap as she sits cross-legged on the couch, a controller held in her hands. A flat-screen television hangs opposite where she sits, and she seems mostly contented with the game on the screen that plays out, muted so she hears Brynn better when she arrives.

The knock on the door is at a practiced volume, loud enough to carry but soft enough to not intrude. Brynn's definitely not the 'cop-knocker' of the group.

When the door opens, the petite brunette grins. Am I so wrapped up in my own crap that I missed when you moved? Brynn isn't upset or anything, she was just surprised at the new address. Admittedly, it may have been spoken of in her presence, but she may have not been watching.

As always, she's carrying her go-bag with her. Emily knows that it has all of her art supplies that she carries on her pretty much all the time. As well as a few other things that could be needed if the group had to bug-out fast. She hasn't yet moved past the habits ingrained over her formative years.

Nice place! she compliments, looking around appreciatively. The cat makes her smile — she likes animals. It was just the skunk she always avoided like the plague.

Thank goodness Emily had the volume off, or otherwise she'd have missed it entirely. The blanket is tumbled aside, controller lobbed into it while she treads barefoot on the hardwood floor, turning the deadbolt and opening up the door without echoing back the smile — at least at first. After she sees the first part of the hello, Emily does force a small one before shaking her head. Her brain takes a moment to catch up and start signing back after the door is shut and locked behind them both.

No, I— didn't really make a big deal out of it. she signs, the action only just somehow not having an apology to it. It had just happened. Emily looks over to the kitten who is stock-still frozen just past the stairwell, on absolute alert given the new person.

That's K-e-t-t-l-e. she signs out, her echo of a smile returning with a softer, more permanent shape to it. She'd not even know where to begin with figuring out the sign for him. He is shy at first, but after he knows you…

She just lets out a laugh under her breath, shaking her head.

He's cute, Brynn replies, snickering softly when the little streak of fur disappears again. Hopefully he'll pop back out. Looking over Emily's face, her brows pull together. Have you been sick? She looks concerned, uncertain that everything is actually okay with her friend. I would have come by sooner if you'd said something. Not the best cook, but I can manage soup.

Emily's brow pops up. Sick? With a touch of confusion, all she does is shake her head. No, the action says. She's not been sick. But neither does she exactly have words for what she's been. At the moment, she's a little too thrown to do much more than rub the back of her neck and then gesture into the living room where she quickly heads herself.

Make yourself at home. she signs on her way back to the couch, collapsing into a sit on it and curling up, drawing the blanket back over her lap so she can become more comfortable again. Once she's settled, she looks marginally more prepared to address the question, if only by that much. Her brow furrows now. "I'm okay." she insists aloud. Really. she signs to go with it.

I've just had a lot going on. It's been a busy summer… looks like an excuse from a mile away, despite its sincerity. Emily seems thoughtful, though, undergoing some kind of silent realization.

Riiiiiight. Because you always curl up on the couch with a blanket and look like you're hiding in a hole. Okay, then!

Her expression speaks volumes.

Moving to drop her bag by the door, Brynn moves to the far end of the couch and drops into the other corner, pulling up her knees and clearly making herself at home. Is it the search for Squeaks? she asks somberly. Because despite continued searches, no one has found a trace of their little 'sister' and although Brynn doesn't let the boys see her cry, that's constantly in her head. And that seems like the only thing that would keep Emily so busy and make her feel vulnerable enough to hide like this… at least by Brynn's reasoning.

Emily finds her head tips to the side as she considers the question, because the answer is yes but she doesn't know how to properly give voice to it. So she wants to shake her head, but her heart says to nod. Instead, her head bobbles.

Perhaps that in itself is telling enough.

A little. she admits, because she can't get away from it any longer. But, Emily adds, looking over at Brynn with that same sense of realization as before. She thinks on it for only a moment before she makes a split second decision. I also manifested my ability at some point, and I hadn't realized it. I've kind of … been keeping to myself as a result. Only a shadow of a wince is given for that admission, because it is what it is, even though she knows she shouldn't be doing it. I haven't really known what to do with myself.

Her hands remain held for a moment after as she hesitates, and also admits, And … I've not been sleeping great.

It's not the whole truth, but it's definitely true.

Oh! Brynn looks startled at that information and then tips her head. Gray eyes take in body language as well as expression and she seems to consider how to respond more carefully than even her usual.

I'm not sure whether to say congratulations or to say I'm sorry, she signs tentatively. Is it something scary? She nibbles the side of her lip. Do you wish it hadn't?

Underneath the blanket, Emily shifts her posture. One knee pokes up and her arms seem like they want to wrap around her shin, but then she recalls she needs her hands. At a loss for a proper reaction, she ends up with a more honest one, instead. For some reason, she looks relieved when Brynn understands her trepidation, giving her a small smile before her gaze darts down again. She signs, even if she has to look away to say it all, her gaze thoughtful while her knee bounces unconsciously.

It's… not scary. she decides. Not if I know what I'm doing with it. In the meantime, it is a little. Emily looks up to Brynn, mouth in a rueful twist as she touches her throat for a moment and then lets out a sigh after while she signs, It has to do with my voice. It has to do with talking.

If I'm not careful what I say, and where it comes from when I say it, it can have an effect on others.

Brynn puzzles over that and then points out pragmatically, Well, you don't have to worry about it with me at least. But she does seem thoughtful.

You need to practice with it. So you know what it feels like in your head when you're using it. It's… probably not as easy as saying it sounds, but… being able to feel when it's on is how you'll learn to control it, right?

She got her power when she was small. Trauma can do weird things. So she doesn't remember a time she didn't have hers… and her expression is gentle as she asks, We'll help, Em. I mean, … look at where we come from. If anyone can help, it's us!

Emily actually laughs when Brynn makes her pragmatic observation. Yeah, maybe she's right. Some of the tension slides off of her shoulders and she shakes her head at herself, resettling her posture and the fold of her legs. She keeps Brynn's movements out of the corner of her eye the whole time even as she resettles the blanket on her lap. The offer for help gives her pause, though, and she has to consider it for a moment.

This is something I have to figure out on my own, I think. is what she first decides to say, even if the offer to help her figure it out is fully realized only after she says it. Then Emily scrunches her face, hesitating. Talking about the subject at all seems to be an issue, but signing it provides her with some ease.

… How does yours work, Brynn? When you make colors, what do you do so it happens? she asks cautiously.

Nodding with equanimity, Brynn signs, Yeah, everybody does have to work it out their own way. Even people with powers that are close, like Hailey and Weasel, it works different. as individual as a fingerprint in some ways.

At the question, though, she tips her head and thinks about the answer carefully. When I'm drawing on the wall, it's… sort of like knowing the color I want and I use my hand to rough draw… like it's a stencil, I guess? The color I leave behind lays down in the lines that I want — blurred or sharp just the way I envision it. It looks a little like finger painting, I suppose. She grins at Emily, the image amusing her.

When I do on skin, though, it works a little different. I'm not sure why, but with that it's … like holding the image in my mind and letting it… flow out by itself so it's created all at once.

She's not sure if that exactly answers the question or helps any. I just want the image and make it happen. I used to accidentally color things like my pillows when I was little and dreaming. Or when I got mad, that was the first time Lance had a neon green face.

Emily lets out a snort of amusement involuntarily, for all her efforts to keep a straight face. Then she lifts the back of her right hand to try and cover it over, but the sound she's already made makes her laugh again. While she gets herself under control, she lifts her left hand, repeatedly making a modified sign for sorry.

When she gets her senses about her enough, Emily notes with a grin, The fact that you have to say the first time about that… It's almost enough to make her break down sniggering again.

When she understands the why of the laughter, Brynn grins cheerfully. I know, right? You'd think that after the first time, they wouldn't mess with me! But no! I can't tell you how many times Joe or Lance has gotten turned a color or when I'm really annoyed they turn polka-dotted in the night. She wrinkles her nose. I hadn't done it in a long time until Lance had the pink hair. Emily remembers the pink hair, Brynn's sure.

Shrugging slightly, she just signs Boys. It's really all that can be said on the matter!

Brynn's way of doing things might not align with hers, but the sharing of it still prompts Emily back into thoughtfulness of her own once her grin dies down. All the times I've noticed it so far… it feels a little different each time. I have to be careful. But… She looks up for a moment before her gaze turns inward again. I've tried it on purpose a few times, and it works best when I speak from…

She settles her hand over her chest, hesitating on one spot over the other. Instead, she just generally gestures at her whole heart and abdomen region. … or something. Emily glances up almost apologetically. She should know what happens with herself, right? It's her own thing, after all. She shakes her head dismissively at the thought, letting out another sigh.

I have to get better at it. she says with sudden conviction, even urgency.

Amused, Brynn nods. That makes sense, actually. That Emily would have to speak from the heart. She pauses and tips her head, thoughtful. It's funny… until you asked me how I never really thought about it. But … I would imagine that for most people, you have to do much the same thing. It starts with wanting. Maybe not even conscious wanting. For you… you have to mean what you say because you make people do things. So yeah… you're going to have to be aware of it. But really… it's just practice. Like anything else.

She wrinkles up her nose a little and smiles. I don't think I'll be much help on that front specifically. But the boys can. And you can see if you can boss them around. There's an up side to everything, right?

Emily knits her brow, shaking her head repeatedly at that. No, it emphatically says, and she's right back to feeling awkward in her own skin. Yeah, but… she starts, and can't even put words to it. Her eyes speak for her, though, with the cautious look she sends Brynn's way. That's wrong, isn't it?

She shifts under the security of the blanket, trying to get rid of the discomfort. There's a distressing knot that's formed at the pit of her stomach. Please don't tell them yet. she asks, even though she feels guilty making the request. Emily's brow knits deeply. Not until I have a better grip on it. It's not a trick, and I'm worried they'd …

Her hands close in on themselves, fingers to palm. She can't even sign it.

Looking surprised, Brynn replies with an expression that reads as gentle, Of course I won't say anything. It's yours to tell, not mine. She reaches out and touches Emily's knee, making sure she has the other girl's eyes. She's not exactly sure what Emily's afraid they'd do… be scared of her? Hate her? Look at her differently? Or if she's more scared of herself and that she could do something to them.

But Em? The only way to practice is something like that is to use it. You can't get better at it if you're too afraid of it to have consenting friends help. Out of control, something like that could… Do a hell of a lot of damage. She doesn't sign that, though. I don't want you to have to be scared of what you can do. When you know what you can do, that's how you protect the people around you from what you can do. She hopes that makes sense.

I know. is the only thing that Emily signs, the only indication she's heard what Brynn has said and is taking any of it to heart. She sits for a long moment in 'silence', her gaze dropping to her lap as she tries to put to words what her compunction around it exactly is. Finally, she looks up with another small, apologetic smile, and shakes her head. I told Devon. she admits. And Nat— but not what it is. She's got enough going on in her own circle of things, I don't want her to have to worry about me, too.

… I'll figure this out. she promises, tired but earnest.

Shaking her head again, she gestures to Brynn. But please— enough about me. How are you? What are you up to? How's… Emily fumbles for the signs, or maybe just it's her thoughts. Work? Tattoos? The certification? Or are you looking into school again yet?

The gentle smile has just a hint of chiding to it, but Brynn doesn't push her. Emily is not used to having people (rather lovingly) nudge her in directions, and she's not one to just follow along. She'll come to it in her own time and way… and Brynn will just be there. It's your power and you have to do it your way. That's all she signs on it.

Let's see.. What am I up to? I got the certifications finished, so I can legally and aboveboard get paid for my art, Brynn replies. Uhm… the firehouse is coming along. Even though I still sorta feel like we're living in the Ghostbusters movie. But Joe loved that place. I haven't looked into school again, she admits, looking pensive. I think maybe I just shouldn't go at it again. Every time I take the math test, it seems like I've done even worse than last time. She grimaces. Joe just keeps being his encouraging self and all, but… even Lance is better at math than me, and he's having trouble too still, I think. I just … I like figures and images, but all the stupid numbers and letters jumble together and the answer always comes out wrong. Even when Joe studies with me.

At hearing the certification testing is complete, Emily lifts her hand and fans it in the sign for applause, smiling warmly. That's awesome! The smile fades when Brynn describes her troubles, and she starts to look pensive herself. You know… she suggests. There might…

Then she remembers the issue— the GED. Emily frowns. Making a suggestion to take college courses without having that out of the way was difficult and unfair. She simply sits and lets out a quiet hm with a nod. There might be better things for you to do instead. she suggests instead. If you wanted to learn new art styles or something, maybe we can get you books for it, or find workshops so you can try different things, too. All visual stuff. And only if you want.

That last part is signed as deferentially as possible. It was Brynn's future, after all.

Remembering her paused game, Emily glances back at the television for a moment in a bout of temptation, then quickly looks back to Brynn.

Brynn takes it in stride and simply shrugs a little. Pearl gave me some books to work from and Devi's got me working at her shop too. If you spot any cool books on technique, that'd be primal, she agrees with a smile. The college sometimes has seminar classes that I don't have to be enrolled there to take, too. Not a lot of them, but I saw some in the spring. I was thinking I might go.

Noting the glance at the screen, her grin makes a small dimple peek out. You can finish, you know…

Emily lifts her head and more eagerly at the suggestion Brynn might take some of those courses. That sounds like it'd be awesome. she signs encouragingly. Whatever it takes to keep growing.

The comment about her game though makes her glance less furtively back over at the screen with a shake of her head. With exaggerated motions, she explains, That would take hours and hours. I meant to turn it off when you got here.

The sound of a rolling mew, royalty demanding attention sounds from the hall closer to the kitchen, Kettle standing in the doorway with a languid blink while he stretches and brushes against the wall. He would like attention, please. Emily attempts to oblige by leaning forward, rubbing her fingers together and clicking at him to get his attention. "C'mere, bud."

Ah! It's one of those kind of games, with the stories. Brynn can play them, but there's a lot that goes on when the guys are together playing and she doesn't keep up as fast as they go because she reads everything. So she simply nods slightly.

Turning when Emily does, she spots the shy kitten. Aww, he's cute. Brynn doesn't move much, not wanting to spook the feline. Instead she waits for him to decide to come to Emily on his own and then offers her fingertips for inspection.

Kettle flees into arms faster than might be anticipated for a skittish kitten, but he's eager to find comfort in the warmth and company of others, as much as he might be equally liable to run from it. Maybe that's why he and Emily get on so well. She strokes the top of his head for a moment and then gestures to Brynn with a tip of her chin. When she lifts her arms to sign, the kitten bats at her hands to try and reclaim them for himself. Emily frowns down at him before restarting anyway. He's usually pretty good with people. You can pet him.

Her shoulders settle after she says it, running a hand along the dark kitten's back. It's clear she takes solace from his presence, and through his and Brynn's efforts combined, Emily has reached a calm she's likely not had in weeks. Not that Kettle has any clue about his role in it. He stretches in her lap, toes flaring. There is a single white knuckle on him, a speck that looks almost out of place compared to the rest of his entirely-black self.

The grin lights up her features and Brynn allows the kitten to investigate her hands before rubbing him. She can't hear purring, but she can feel it against her fingertips. Who doesn't love kittens??

Gently disentangling her hands a moment, she signs, He's adorable. Then Brynn pets the little guy more, lightly investigating his cute toes. She seems content to let Emily talk or not talk however much she needs to — she isn't restless with just being silent company if that's what the other girl needs.

And for a while, Emily is content with just that, there being something remarkable about the power of being allowed to just be. In a lot of ways, the teen never allows herself that. She tries to be this or that for others, but the quiet companionship Brynn is unafraid to offer her breaks down the facade of being okay she often puts up.

"You know…" she realizes while she reflects in silence. Then she remembers to sign her thoughts, too, while she says them out loud. Usually she keeps to a whisper of a word or nothing at all while she signs, but something is profound enough about this one to make her speak. "My birthday is coming up again soon. It'll be a whole year since we met. It's crazy, isn't it? How much has changed in that time."

She lets out a soft hm before she smiles. "Think we should do anything for it this year? I'm not sure I want to see what you guys would do if I gave you advance notice about it." Emily laughs to herself. "You showered me in gifts and you didn't even know me." She looks to the record stand in the corner, where Lene's gift sits quietly on display, then back to Brynn. "And I saw how crazy things can get when Hailey and Squeaks put together Gillian's surprise party." She grins at the memory.

Brynn strokes the kitten until the small creature decides he's had enough and curls up to snooze. And then she remains easily settled in the spot she chose. Maybe it's her power, that ability to just exist in the now! Nah… it's just her. Tipping her head at the observation, she grins.

It's been a whole year? wow… time sure flies. Brynn really didn't realize. You needed to be showered in gifts, she opines. You were too lonely. It's really simple, to her mind.

Emily disagrees with an open scoff. "I was not lonely," she argues. "I like being alone, Brynn. And when I wasn't alone, I had Julie."

Invoking her cousin's name makes her gaze flicker, her sign of Julie's name dying halfway through the translation. She realizes suddenly … it's been weeks since they've seen each other. It derails her entirely, making her reach for her phone on the coffee table. Her fingers fly before she can even finish actively thinking what to say.

It's been a little while, I wanted to check in. You doing okay??

She clicks the screen off after, looking back up to Brynn and the nestled kitten in her lap with a vague approximation of a smile.

Thank you. Emily signs abruptly, in silence. For not leaving me alone today, though.

Brynn studies the other girl and simply smiles, keeping her thoughts on alone versus lonely to herself. You're welcome, she signs. All you ever have to do is text… I'll be here. Lacking tone, she can only convey the sincerity by meeting Emily's eyes. Thank you for trusting me.

Emily sometimes isn't the best at knowing what to say when confronted with something like that, so all she can do is nod, returning a hastily-signed Nothing to thank me for. Just keep being you, Brynn. She looks back to the controller and the screen hanging on the wall after all, a moment of uncertainty before she decides, Let me show you what I've been working on.

So she unpauses, explaining as she goes with small gestures, doing her best at showing off a bit more of her world one screen at a time.

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