Don't Break The Ice


devon_icon.gif emily_icon.gif lucille3_icon.gif

Scene Title Don't Break the Ice
Synopsis A chance second encounter goes hardly better than the first.
Date August 24, 2018

Elmhurst Hopsital

//The cafeteria

As 8PM comes and goes, Emily glances up from her seat on the second-floor cafe of Elmhurst Hospital to see if lights start to wink back on in the various buildings surrounding the hospital. Outside, it remains so dark she can see stars in the distance. It causes her to lean forward in her seat, hands around a paper cup filled with a concoction that looks deceptively like coffee and threatens to reveal itself merely as hot, flavored, tinted water.

It's a disappointment, but not an unexpected one to see the blackout continue past its scheduled endtime. There's only so much electricity to go around. The stars are a blessed consolation prize, one she still can't believe is so visible in the city.

Sitting more upright in her seat, she sighs and looks toward her laptop which is plugged into a free outlet hidden between the end of the row of vending machines and the wall. She's nested there between the wall and the window, with a perfect view of everyone coming and going should she choose to look up. She's not particularly interested in that this evening, though, only here to mooch electricity following her earlier appointment. A dirty old cerulean bookbag hangs off the left handle of her wheelchair, appearing to be empty save for one heavy object weighing it down on the inside. For her part, Emily wears her hair back in a messy bun, a long green cardigan with sleeves just too long causing a bundle of cloth to pool around her palms as she lets go of the cup and settles back to her purpose for loitering.

At this hour, the cafeteria is closed, the lights in the seating area dimmed halfway, and the only sign the vending machines are active is the quiet hum that emanates from their lightless husks. It's a blissfully comfortable arrangement for Emily, leaving her to forgo the need for anything to drown out pesky sharp light. With everything being unofficially closed, it also means that it's quiet, leaving her and her laptop for the most part alone. Her shoes are kicked off under the table, legs crossed in her wheelchair with her… and her attention entirely focused on playing an ironic title, given the state of the world outside. Headphones pipe in the sounds of the D.C. Wasteland as she roams the world of Fallout 3, on a full sprint toward her next big adventure.

Those headphones probably drown out the telltale sound of someone coming. But if not, then Emily might recognize the clack-thump sound of someone hopping slowly along through the semi-darkened cafeteria on crutches. And if she looked up, she might even recognize him from somewhere.

At least, Devon might be vaguely recognizable, like a face you’re sure you’ve seen but can’t place it. That’s because he’s far from dressed for a night on the town this time. Today he’s in board shorts and a hoodie. And he’s only walking on one foot instead of two, with one leg immobilized. Which explains the crutches.

He doesn’t notice her right away, at least nothing more than in cursory regard. No immediate recognition because he’s got his mind set on visiting those vending machines.

In the middle of waiting for a fast-travel cycle to finish, there's a gap of noise long enough for her to notice the irregular steps of someone also in the cafeteria area. At first she only glances up and then back down to what she's doing, attempting to not be overly nosy in the other person's business. It's not like they came down to the cafe to be ogled while they're working on figuring out what kind of Doritos they want from the machines.

As he pauses before the row of machines though, Emily can't help but look up again for just a moment, glancing sidelong at the man to get a better look at him. Just as she turns back to check to make sure she's not running headfirst into a building, something nags at her about the shape of his face, and the style of his hair. She does a doubletake to look back at him again, trying to figure out where exactly she's seen him before, brow furrowing intensely as she stares for a moment … before she's cut short by a violent growl that rolls through her headphones.

"Fuck!" Emily shouts before she can stop herself, turning back to her screen to watch herself be slashed at by a random goddamned Deathclaw. For all her outburst implied she might have been, she doesn't slam the keyboard to death in trying to escape, but does rapidly enter in commands as she both works on fleeing and fighting back. "Sorry." she says distractedly, loudly, but not as loudly as the first one. "Don't have Tourette's, promise. Just… dying over here." she explains helpfully, eyes on her screen.

Coins are fished out of a pocket and Devon maneuvers a balancing act to fit them into the slot while keeping limbs and crutches in good order. The selections aren’t many, unsurprising in these times — and in this city — but eventually he thumbs a selection for pretzels that have probably been in the machine since before the war. He watches his choice in snacks rotate to the fore, but misses it falling when there’s a shout from nearby.

Anyone else might have startled at the outburst, but Dev just looks over. Loud voices and unexpected swears are likely pretty normal for him. One brow is ticked upward slightly and there’s a hint of an amused grin playing in his expression as he finds Emily. That is until recognition dawns, and his grin fades.

“Hospital’s a good place to be dying,” he quips before he can stop himself. A glance toward the laptop shows he knows she meant in her game. And while his expression might have shifted to something more neutral, but there’s jest in his tone all the same. He looks back to the machine and, after a couple of aborted attempts at retrieving his snack, he manages to come up with the bag of pretzels. It’s gripped in his teeth so he can clack-thump his way to his own table.

The background noise causes her to mutter and lift her right hand from her mouse quickly to pull the headphones down so they bounce around her neck and shoulders, posture tense as she decides to run away entirely, and pause once she's done that. At that point, she backtracks to remember the quip and its nature, letting out a belated laugh with a furrowed brow. That's one of those things you shouldn't laugh at, but was the sort of dark humor that she could get behind.

She watches him struggle to pick up his snack, almost thinking about offering a hand just as he finally gets it, letting her sink back with relief she wouldn't have to untangle herself from her current setup. Emily adjusts the headphones around her neck as she watches him maneuver to a table, fingertips tapping along the earmuff of it. She STILL can't figure out why he's so familiar. "Careful. If a nurse had been walking by when you said that, they might stop to break your other leg, too." she warns with a smirk. Speaking of nurses, she looks down for a moment to check her phone for any messages from Julie.

“Where’d you learn that?” It sounds like a serious inquiry and the form of Lucille Ryans appears in the door of the cafeteria just in time to hear Devon’s attempt at humor aimed at… ah fuck. It’s to her credit that pale blue eyes don't bulge but stay slightly squinted crinkled at the sides from chuckling at Devon behind her a finger. Dressed in black and black, her asymmetrical blazer lays over a an arm of pale exposed skin that seems to have burns of some kind circling them. The Hound had burned off some parts of her tattoo and that fucking sucked but anyway, back to Emily.

Lucille pads softly over towards Devon and when Emily doesn't look she narrows her eyes towards him, what the hell? This was the teen who eviscerated everyone and their mother at the gala and Lucille is praying she was drunk and doesn't remember her face or “over friendliness”. There's a moment of flicking of her eyes between the two before she lapses into silence. She’ll scope, Devon can be the one to again continue to put his foot in his mouth. The way Luce’s eyebrows are working though you’d expect she wants to tell him THAT IS NOT A GOOD JOKE TO MAKE! Except Emily laughs.

Lucille has to be tired because she's sure she can hear wedding bells.

The bag is dropped onto the table he’s chosen and Devon just gives Lucille a look. Typical eye-rolling younger brother type look, in complete response to the one she’s given him. To Emily he rolls a shoulder, shrugging, before carefully lowering himself into a chair. “They can try,” he bluffs while leaning those crutches against the table. Truth is, he’d probably make those comments anyway, then run away.

He lets himself grin a little in spite of his caution at recognizing Emily. Their last encounter was… not great. But he’s not about to remind her, or anyone else, of the almost-spectacle. Just pretend it didn’t happen. “So what’s got you all dead and dying,” he asks tipping his head toward the laptop. “Not that I’d know anything. I have an old Super Nintendo, kind of… way behind in all gaming.” The bag of pretzels is opened as he talks, and even offered up to Lucille.

It's unfortunate, really. The amiable nature in Emily goes out like a flame trapped under a glass - dying from a mixture of a lack of air, and its own smoke. The smoke in this case is the distinctly clear memory of Lucille, as she'd spent a considerable amount of time trying to shake her attention at the bar at the gala. Lucille Ryans, the trainwreck of a drunk who had made a fool out of herself, at least in Emily's eyes.

And that's when it clicks for her. Where she recognizes scruffy injured blonde from. The two of them sitting together, sharing food is damning enough evidence to confirm what Emily already would have acted on. She doesn't remember his name.

"Don't worry. I'm sure you're at least more up to speed than Lucille is." It's said with a fairly dry tone of voice, and she takes her time in sliding her headphones off entirely, settling them down on the table in front of her before she reaches for her cup of shitty coffee. She's got a feeling she's going to need it for this. She smiles over the top of her cup, but it's not pleasant, and it's brief. Almost like it was a grimace at the horrible-tasting vending machine cappuccino.

Truth be told, though, she's really not in the mood for anything fierce this evening. She just wanted to relax for a while before heading home and theoretically showering with the electricity back on. It's been a long day for her. She tries to reel it back in and actually continue the conversation instead of just shutting down and packing up.

"Speaking of dead and dying, you look more in trouble than I do. What happened; a deathclaw get you, too?"

“Still faster than you,” said cheerfully as she taps her toe on the wheel of Emily’s chair before sitting down across from Devon and snagging some snack winking at the young blonde before she's looking between the two and munching on a pretzel. This is fucking weird. Speaking of trouble, Lucille wants to just go like ‘What the fuck is Avi’s deal?’ But then that would explain that they knew who she was before they spoke to her and then things get more weird and can the situation honestly handle anymore of that?

The “older” (is she though? Delia would always beg to differ) doesn't speak anymore just smiling widely over at Emily and then over to Devon but oh fuck it, “It's kind of chilly in here no?”

And there it is.

Devon slants an annoyed look at Lucille when she kicks the wheelchair, then directs an apologetic look at Emily. “She’s not usually allowed out in public,” he offers in excuse for his teammate’s actions. “Not alone anyway. And I drew the short straw.” To Luce he only shakes his head rather than answer her question.

The pretzels, though he’d thought to have a snack, are left on the table as interest in them wanes. “Something like that,” he replies to Emily’s question. “It’s a story better told around a campfire, or in the rain, than in a dark cafeteria.”

The kick to her wheel does more than insult her pride. She's still holding the paper cup, filled with a potentially electronics-destroying substance, and the wheel wasn't locked in place. Luckily, nothing bad happens. It still doesn't excuse it. Emily doesn't let out a gasp, but her eyes go wide and it's clear, at a glance, that she's fuming. Still faster than you? Who the fuck does she think she is?

There's not much room between her and the wall, but Emily slides her chair back the short distance she's got, and then locks her wheel in. "Short Straw - you better get your friend out of here before she starts looking more like you."

She sets the cup of coffee aside on the windowsill, gives the table a rough shove forward causing the headphones to clatter off the laptop and onto its surface, and grabs the edge of the table.

Fuck it. Fuck her. No. Not putting up with this.

If it's an indication of how serious she is about launching across the room and taking a swing at Lucille, she pulls herself to her feet and gives one look toward Devon to give him the opportunity to defuse the situation. Clearly, Lucille can't be expected to be the adult here, after all.

There's this habit Lucille has when confronted with a person younger than her with an attitude and while.. the Ryans woman holds herself to being centered and grounded.. Emily makes her feel how she does around her younger sister Delia, blow for blow. It's a mistake on her part to be so familiar with the younger woman but well she hasn't been the most zen after the Humanis First Op. Sensing as well as plain seeing Emily’s reaction to her, Lucille squints her eyes and shakes her head as Emily pushes away from the table to stand. The tall woman blinks and looks over to Devon before waving her hand in the air.

Slowly her head creeps up and eyebrows shoot up to her hairline, “Whoa whoa, you're so tough girl with the cool shades I was sure you could take a joke.” Raising a hand in peaceful surrender with a laugh, “I meant nothing by it swear.”

“Also Devon can't take the competition if I looked like him. Don't punish him for my mistakes,”

The sound of the table scraping against the floor, and the tension between the two women, hopefully masks Devon’s retrieval of crutches and awkward heft of himself off the chair. He’s not quite in a state to stop a physical altercation, but if it comes to that, he needs to be on his feet. He doesn’t put himself directly between the two, but somewhat. He can fend off one or the other with a crutch, right?

“I didn’t survive fucking deathclaws to watch you run your mouth, Luce. Go… call your dad.” Because that seems like a better suggestion than anything else he could say. “Just take a walk, I’ll catch up later.” Maybe, he might find his way to Raytech and hide in his uncle’s office again instead. He stares at his teammate for a beat longer, clearly annoyed to the point of being angry with the turn of conversation.

It takes a lot of effort to stay rooted to the spot instead of crossing the space between the two tables. Somehow, she stays there, hands still gripping the edge of the tabletop as she stares Lucille down with a clenched jaw. Yeah, yeah. Back down now that she's standing up, will she? Fucking figures.

To that extent, Emily lets out a scoffed breath and looks toward Devon to give him the aforementioned chance to de-escalate the situation. Thankfully, he makes a pretty good stab at it. He's assumed a position where he's ready to physically intervene (though who knows which one of them would need/end up being pried off the other), and has firmly told 'Luce' to fuck off.

Her iron grip around the table's edge loosens slightly, to the point where she's only using it as an object to assist with her balance instead of an inflexible stress ball. She straightens her posture, chin held high as she waits for Lucille to hopefully take his advice.

And for the time being, she has the grace to not run her mouth and make things worse.

The auburn haired woman visibly flinches at being told to call her dad, she planned on seeing him before she left the Safe Zone. Her lips thin and she holds a steady breath before exhaling through her mouth, her blue eyes stay blue and she settles into her chair, waving her hand, “Excuse me,” She waves her hand again, “Have you ever had to face a skyscraper sized walking metal giraffe? Nerves are a bit shot still.” Lucille wears a lazy smile as she looks over to Emily and raises an eyebrow and dips her head, “No offense to your situation.” Lucille is better than that but lately she's get the tides of her emotions almost overwhelming her.

“You're here a lot then?” It looks like it. Lucille remembers Emily complaining about her eyes at the gala.

The comment of giant metal giraffes has Devon rolling his eyes again. “Luce…” He searches for something to say, anything to say to get his teammate to take a chill pill. Or a walk. Because this level of drama is not what he was wanting to get involved in when he went to the Safe Zone. That apologetic look returns, still directed at Emily, because the look of angry annoyance is reserved for his fellow Hound.

But then Lucille sits and changes directions, and he shoots a suspicious look at her. Dev takes a step to adjust where he stands, but remains hovering just about between the two women. He’s not quite sure where this is going, but he’d rather it remain not a fight.

Seeing the strong reaction Lucille had to the comment to being told to call her dad causes Emily to file that bit of information away in her back pocket for any future encounters with her. Or for three minutes from now, depending on how the rest of this goes. The comment made about a large metal giraffe causes her to arch an eyebrow questioningly, dubiously. It's not clear to Emily what the hell she's talking about, and the attempt to drop a breadcrumb of interesting information in the hopes of putting all slights behind them… well, it falls flat.

She doesn't bite at all to the attempt to fish more information from her, either, aside from smiling sarcastically in Lucille's direction. "No, what gave it away?" Emily asks, her voice warm and condescending. Afterward, she glances to Devon in time to see his apologetic look before he returns to figuring out what'll happen from here.

Drumming her fingers once on the top of the table, she looks away from them both to check again outside if the power's come back on in Elmhurst yet. It hasn't. She briefly considers paging Julie with a text to see if she can come take a break. She COULD head home in the dark by herself, but she didn't currently trust either of these two to not follow out after her. In Devon's case, after all, it's already happened once. He's got a bit of a handicap to his stalking and chasing ability this time, though. she thinks absently, and the thought makes her let out a short breath of laughter.

Lifting one hand, she disguises massaging the bridge of her nose briefly by twitching her finger in a rough scratch instead. And she looks back to the two, gesturing with that same hand between them all indicatively. "Giraffes." to Lucille. "Deathclaws." to Devon. "Mundane shit." to herself. Afterward, she flicks the topic back toward the other two with a wave of her hand.

"Pretend it's raining." she suggests stiffly. "Clearly you two have the more interesting reasons for being here." Her weight shifts as she stands, trying to rely less on her right leg.

Heat doesn't rise to Lucille's cheeks nor do her eyes widen at the looks from both Devon and Emily, her chest can be seen to be moving up and down steadily, she's controlling her breathing. Not able to completely withdraw within herself because she has two people in front of her. Well both didn't seem like they wanted to speak to her so that doesn't really matter but Lucille feels the needs to smooth things out if nothing else because she doesn't want to seem like a cruel person.

“It was wild yes.” Her reply to her look about her escapades back west recently.

“Multiple things,” Lucille offers to what gave away Emily's being here often. Her attitude, if Lucille was here often she'd be surly too. She feels the weight of having a preexisting condition, hers wasn't trying to kill her but.. it robbed her of any control over her body.. “I use to be around a lot of hospitals too, after the.. running from the whole government thing.” A wince at the thought of when she almost drowned but there were other times, the times she hung around the hospital with her mother, the times she came to visit Delia when she worked here. “Guess I spotted someone who hated the shitty food and bright ass lights.. when they're working. My mistake.” The comment of pretending that it's raining is ignored, not being dismissed the woman looks over to the vending machine, she’d kill for a Coke.

With Lucille keeping to her seat and Emily showing no sign of further fight, Devon backs himself out of the middle of the conversation. Literally. He takes a couple of steps then turns around to set himself in another chair, no longer sharing a table with his teammate nor encroaching on Emily's space. He keeps his crutches in hand when he sits, this time though.

A look angles to Luce when she starts talking, but Dev keeps his expression intentionally neutral. He's still irritated, and that tends to make him close off.

“Wolfhound operation,” he asides to Emily, in explanation for himself. It's his usual answer without actually informing. “It's nothing.” He passes another look between the two, brows drawing together in calculation. Then he turns away a fraction and pulls out his phone to work on a text message.

When Devon moves to sit back down, Emily does the same, still cautiously looking out over the top of her screen between them both. She still doesn't really believe Lucille's story about the giraffes, but the comment about running from the government does make her take pause. The additional banter soundly bounces off of its intended target, and would be visibly rolling away from her if words worked like that. The girl in the wheelchair is still firmly locked in on the casual mention of that time the government went off the deep end, taking pause as she realizes most people have a story to tell about that time. And she doesn't know how she feels about that.

She unlocks the wheel of her chair in order to scoot back in, reaching down to pull her right leg up with her onto the chair, and then letting her left come to fold on top of it as she slowly makes herself comfortable again as she settles in.

Devon's straightforward explanation of his injuries is more than enough for Emily. She looks right at him with a deadpan expression until he brushes the situation off as nothing, and when he breaks eye contact to look down at his screen, so does she, appearing to tune out entirely.

Outwardly she keeps her cool, only reaching for her headphones, sliding them back in place over her ears. Usually, she goes through the effort of politely leaving half an ear exposed to not potentially drown out nearby conversationalists, but she couldn't care less at the moment. Beneath her cool exterior, her heart is suddenly pounding.

Wolfhound. Out of all the lousy fucking luck, the two of them had to be with THAT unfortunate group.

Her hands settle back in over the laptop, fingers of one hand hovering over the keyboard while she swings the mouse about with the other, idly scrolling the menu, going into options and settings to adjust things that don't actually need adjusted. Buying time, but for what? They probably know him. she thinks to herself, even the thought a whisper. Probably? Assuredly. What if— Stupid. No. This is stupid. Stop it. Just…

An eternity passes in the few seconds she hesitates, a single click away from disengaging from the conversation entirely, or opening up the hornet's nest to see what laid inside. There's a lot of internal arguments that pass during that time. Lots of coaxing to herself, wondering how to casually pry for information. A lot of loud self-yelling in response to that, telling herself to stay away from them and by proxy him. There was nothing down that road except for the sort of pain she'd prefer not to deal with. Associating with them any further was dancing on the razor's edge of forcing an encounter she really didn't want to deal with. She'd rather take the shitty attitude of a hundred Lucilles than face… that.

Her gaze flicks to a spot of dead space on the screen as she wonders for a second if maybe they were sent here to check on her. It would be convenient. Sure, they were injured. But WHY Elmhurst? It's a conspiracy that seems more and more likely the longer she lingers on the possibility. Did it mean he was alive? Did it mean he was dead? The last time he tried to call her, he….

Before she can obsess about it further and possibly ask out loud about Wolfhound or its other members, she instinctively resumes play to run away from the situation. In a blink, her tense expression devolves into a merely serious one, (an imperceptible change from afar, really) and the sounds of that other post-apocalyptic world sweep her up into its embrace. She still had a deathclaw to outsmart and avoid, after all. She wasn't ready to face it head on.

The silence is blessed and Lucille leans into it, her head tilting back so that she can regard the ceiling though there isn’t anything of interest there, the person of interest was again unapproachable and surly, lowkey like her father but Lucille at least could get drunk with Avi. I wonder… She thinks to herself as Emily lapses into silence after the mention of Wolfhound, wondering what the younger woman was thinking. To be a telepath.. Would be a grand thing at this moment but Lucille only has body language to go off on and her face, Emily is as put together as Avi is if she wants to be and Lucille stretches her arms out with a yawn as her eyes slide over her teammate.

They had been weird, a little off since.. That weird night. We’ll have to fix that.. It’s not like we meant any of that.. right? Luce feels unsure.

Outwardly, Devon probably looks like he’s checked out of the situation. He hasn’t, he’s all too aware of the uncomfortable tension residing between himself and the two women, but he’s very good at avoiding it. His attention looks to be on his phone, however, with long pauses between whatever message brightens his screen and his fingers moving to tap out a reply. Once, he even tips his head back to look up at the ceiling while waiting for a return message.

His head drops when his phone finally lights up again and he stares at the screen for far too long. A slow breath escapes him, brows drawing down in vague consternation, and Dev raises a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose.

The phone is returned to his pocket following a short response. In the dim, he pats other pockets to find a pen then takes claim of a napkin from the holder still on the table. A short note is hastily written out on the napkin, then folded on itself. It’s kept in hand as Dev gathers his crutches again and eases himself back onto his feet. It’s a couple of hops to get to Emily’s table and, after clearly debating the wisdom of it, he sets the note where she can look at it if she desires.

“I’d like the chance to apologize to you, if you’ll allow me to,” he explains, regardless of the headphones in her ears. He’s loud enough he’d possibly be heard anyway. “We started off wrong and it’s never gone right, and I hope you’ll give me the opportunity to change that.” He backs away a couple of steps, then turns to start down the hall. “I’m going to see my uncle,” he calls to Lucille without looking her way. “Family problems.”

Emily's in the middle of some inventory management when Devon walks (hops?) over, though she keeps her eyes firmly on the screen as if she's in the middle of something immediately pressing. She pauses for a moment as he speaks to her but still doesn't bother looking up, resolute in her desire to brush both him and Lucille off as quickly as possible and remain in her mundane world.

He seems sincere. she thinks to herself as he backs away respectfully before finally turning his back. I almost feel bad. She glances up at him as he announces where he's going, the sound filtering in through the background music, and then quickly looks back down.

"Family problems." she mutters sympathetically. Everyone seems to have them.

After he goes, she gives the folded napkin a skeptical once-over, hand slowly lifting from her keyboard to palm it toward herself and inexpertly thumb it open to see what's written. There's a crease in her brow for a moment before her fist closes around the napkin entirely, crumpling it up.

She visibly considers throwing it in a nearby trash bin, but at the last moment slides the fist back to herself and digs it deep into the pocket of the cardigan, letting the napkin hide there for the time being. Her other hand pulls her phone toward herself, clicking the screen active to pen a text of her own to Julie. After it's off, she grabs the coffee cup off the sill and stares out over the night-wrapped skyline, not giving Lucille a second glance.

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