Figure This Out


avi_icon.gif emily_icon.gif julie_icon.gif

Scene Title Figure This Out
Synopsis Emily has one request for her father.
Date April 23, 2019

With a quiet ping and a buzz, the screen on Avi Epstein's phone lights up with a notification. Not unusual in itself, though the name accompanying the message stands out:

4:04 PM
We found out what happened.

The screen dims after more than half a minute passes. It never quite makes it to off, though.

4:05 pm
The telepath got fucked up from it.
She had to be hospitalized.

The disjointed messages, as rapidly as they come, are little more than filler to bide time as she works on shifting back to the major point she's trying to communicate. The texts are little more than a stream of consciousness, the equivalent of talking through the developments out loud.

4:06 pm
Devon died.

There's a pause after that, where one might assume that was the end of it. The sole heavy realization gleaned. Another flurry of buzzes follow in short order, though.

4:07 pm
He's alive because some asian doctor named Cong experimented on him and somehow brought him back.
Under orders from Adam Monroe.

There's another pause in the rapidfire messaging, longer than the rest, before:

4:09 pm
What do we do now?


4:10 pm
stay put

It’s the only response she gets.

Julie’s Apartment


April 23


“…so then I’m standing there, holding his esophagus in place while the doctors are struggling to get the rebar out.”

Julie Fournier-Raith has an unusual sense of what is appropriate to discuss during dinner. Her fork scrapes across her plate, twirling to collect the last few noodles of pasta from what was otherwise the first successful sit-down dinner the two have had in a while. Devon needed space, Emily needed food, and Julie needed to know her cousin wasn’t dead in a ditch somewhere. They’ve both been leading such separate lives.

“He’s awake the whole time,” Julie continues, “I don’t know if I mentioned that. So, the only reason he wasn’t bleeding out is because this guy is apparently a mild hemokinetic, he can manipulate bloodflow. So he’s keeping himself from bleeding out, in shock, and we’re cutting this piece of rebar off on either end and trying to get it out without damaging his spine.” Julie brings up that last mouthful of pasta, shifting her position in her seat at their small dining room table by the sliding door to the balcony.

“He lived,” Julie finally clarifies. “Miraculously. The hospital’s putting up a bid to see if they can contract him for his hemokinetic services as well, once he’s properly trained. Sure would pay better than construction work.” She smirks, looking back down to her plate.

“So,” the dreaded question comes, “how’s Devon doing?” Julie looks back up, expression a little more serious now. “I had to turn over all his medical files to SESA yesterday.”

Emily's own day had been filled with more blood than she'd hoped, but she lets Julie have her moment rather than bringing it up. Despite the intensity of the retelling, she even finds herself smiling, however weakly, however much of an ew she shoots in a glance in the middle of her cousin's story.

She eats anyway, because the day has been long and she needs something to focus her energy on or it'll all drive her insane. The question about Devon barely phases her in her half-listening, until she catches Julie's look her way. Her fork twists in her fingers, tines walking across the plate. Briefly, Emily entertains the idea of a non-answer. She knows better than that, though.

“I don't think he's doing okay after today,” she replies mildly, her tone low. She'd done a good job until now of smiling through dinner, masking how unnerved she is, but the question takes a chisel to her composure. Emily's brow twitches into a furrow and she settles her fork down. “He started getting answers about what happened to him. It's not good. The— the telepath is over at Elmhurst right now, actually.” She glances up for only a moment, something guilty in it. Her hands slide beneath the table so they can clasp together tightly, hopefully helping her keep up the facade of having it more together than she does.

“I think it's going to get worse from here,” Emily admits. After a pause, her gaze fixed on the table still, her brow arches as she tries to pass the next comment off as casual, but her whole look knits in on itself almost immediately. “It's to the point I tried reaching out to my dad. To…”

She lets out a sigh, frustrated at the situation and frustrated at herself. What did she expect would happen? Emily looks out the balcony door with a deep frown.

Worry creases Julie’s brows and she sets down her fork. She reaches across the table, taking one of Emily’s hands and squeezing it gently. Emily’s hands are cold, but comforting. “You don't have to do this alone,” is a big presumption on Julie’s part. “You've got me, even if you… you're not here, I am. For you, fucking always. I'd hide a body for you.”

Squeezing Emily’s hand, Julie looks no less worried. “Devon’s got an entire squad as a support group. You're… I mean, Teodoro’s— Liette thought highly of him.” It isn't often she mentions her sister. “Em,” Julie squeezes that hand again. “I'm not unaccustomed to weird. I can help.”

“How's coming back from the dead for weird, Jules?” Emily asks, her hand tight around her cousin's. She looks back with something unsettled in her gaze, something she fights to keep from entering her voice. “And I'm not talking about us thinking him dead, I mean literally, actually…”

She blinks hard, trying to focus on Julie in front of her rather than re-hear the ice-covered doctor tell what had happened to Devon. She tries hard to shift her thoughts to amusement or comfort or whatever comes up at realizing she could probably have Teo as support for this, too… even if odds are she likely won't bring it up.

“There's these people who brought him back like some kind of science experiment, Jules. I don't know what to do with that. I” A breath of frustration tears from her. “On one hand, he's not dead; he's back, he's here; that's great, for him, for me, for” Her brow knits and she shakes her head. “But the how, and the people who did that to him. Julie, I…”

She feels helpless. She feels angry. She doesn't know what to feel about it.

“And it's just going to get worse,” Emily reiterates, because that's important, even if she's having trouble with naming specifics at the moment.

It's hard to tell if Julie is listening, her eyes have gone just a little unfocused and the grip of her hand on Emily’s has tightened dramatically. She tries to say something, a couple times, and right before the third try Emily can see that there's tears welling up in her eyes. In the eyes of someone who never cries. “Emi— ”

The sudden pounding of a knock on the apartment door causes Julie to bolt up in her seat and yell, withdrawing her hand away from Emily and nearly falls out of her chair. It's an authoritative knock, meat of the hand on the side of the door knock.

Hey somebody open the fucking door.”

It's Avi?


He's here.

Emily tears her gaze away from the door to look back to Julie, brow furrowing again how it had been in the seconds leading up to the slam. She starts to pull herself to her feet, making sure she takes the time to wrap her arm around Julie's shoulders. “I'll let him in so he doesn't cave the door in,” she murmurs with that quick squeeze, both the saying and the doing as much to prepare herself as comfort Julie.

Because her father was here.

You're the one who called him. Emily tries to remind herself. Still, she hadn't expected he would just… show up. Good thing she was at Julie's? She can't remember if the last time she saw him, as shaken and worried as she was, if she'd mentioned the move in any of the rambling she'd done by his hospital bed. She resolves now to have it more together than then. If she was going to win the right to any information more than she'd obtained just by being a bystander, she needed to prove she could handle it. No tears.

Posture lifting, steeling with false confidence as she pauses in front of the door, she takes in a breath before she turns the deadbolt and pulls the door in. She looks up at him. “Stop yelling,” is Emily's gambit of a greeting, made in the hopes of not letting Avi bulldoze her over in the conversation — of letting him get the information he wants and then leaving. She makes room in the doorway for him to pass. “Come in and sit down. I need you to help me figure this out.”

It took up until then for Emily to realize something was off as Avi briskly strides in. It’s the brisk part. And the stride part. “Honestly, I’m fucking surprised you were actually here,” is his dismissive greeting to Emily as he walks past her, catching sight of Julie where she sits at the table, wringing her hands together and seeming a thousand miles away. Avi pauses, looking over to her, and then back to Emily. “I meant to talk to you a few days ago, but there’s a lot of shit going on. I’m sorry.” Then, he continues straight over to what was once Emily’s seat at the dining table and just takes her seat. Julie looks up at Avi, brows creased with confusion. She leans forward, looking at Avi and then looks at Emily like Avi has three whole heads.

It’s not that. The heads.

It’s his eyes.


The last piece of this particular puzzle comes slapping into place when Emily notices Avi isn’t wearing his leg brace. His missing eye no longer is missing, and neither eyepatch nor glass eye have replaced it. He looks stronger, more vivacious, less like he’s struggling to hold up the weight on his shoulders. Emily realizes there was one other piece to this, the same piece that put her own personal puzzle together.


“You texted me a string of bug-fuck insane nonsense,” Avi says with a look at Emily, and then back to Julie who is slowly standing up from the table and looking like she might just leave her own apartment for how awkward she feels. “Uh, hey kiddo.”

It takes Emily a minute to formulate a response, because she realizes her initial ‘yeah, a text would have been nice’ regarding his miraculous fucking healing would be a little hypocritical.

Just a little.

She looks to Julie with a slight shake of her head, eyes widened in sympathy for the shock of the moment. She could stay like that for a while, honestly, gaze darting silently from one place to the next, but… Focus, Em. Bug-fuck nonsense. Emily lets her attention settle somewhere between the two as she composes herself, figuring she needed to get it out sooner rather than later.

“A few days ago, Devon said he wanted to go digging for his lost time. Figure out what was up with his memories being gone, why there was a gap— so today I went with him to see a telepath, Kaylee,” she fumbles momentarily, “you know, from the…” Ferry. Of course they knew. Probably both of them. She fights off feeling foolish.

Her hands half-clasp before as she speaks, pinching the ring finger on one hand with several fingers of her other. The distraction helps calm her through what she's saying. “And she was able to help. He was a blank slate for most of the time he was gone, but… there were two memories. I think they were left there on purpose.” Emily pauses for just a moment, trying to figure out where she means to go next. She stammers out, “S-so the first thing we learned was that he died,” before her tone recovers, gaze distant. “He— was dead, burned, but these people had taken him and brought him back to life. I don't know how. They didn't expect him to live, for it to work. They also knew things about him — shit I didn't even know, like his ability — and when Devon asked how…”

With a sudden inhale, because she might have forgotten to breathe until now, her gaze shifts for Avi's, because this involves him. “The fucking psychopath of a doctor who was working on him looks at him and he goes ‘they taught you what spies are in Wolfhound, didn't they?’” Her voice catches, head shaking slowly. Her hands untangle from each other so she can rub the bridge of her nose, eyes closing.

Avi looks over to Julie with brows raised, and she's trying to assess the possibilities behind his apparent regeneration. She slowly rises from the table, pushing her chair out with a noisy scuff of the legs across the floor. “I… am going to go have a smoke,” she says quietly, walking over to the coat rack and grabbing her jacket, then heads over to the sliding doors.

“Those’ll kill you,” Avi says dryly as Julie slides the door open, to which she just flips him off and puts her jacket on and steps out into the ground floor balcony. He looks back over to Emily and runs a hand through his gray hair, seeming surprisingly calm about everything. He waits until Julie’s stepped out and closed the door before motioning for Emily to come and take her cousin's seat.

“This is a day I've been dreading,” Avi admits quietly. “When I got mad, when you and Devon…” he gestures vaguely. “This is what I've been trying to insulate you from. From this.” He motions around the room. “You're— I know all of this seems like a lot to you, and I mean it is. But… what happened to Devon?” Avi looks down at his lap and folds his hands.

“Have you met Lynette Ruiz?” Avi asks, without addressing any of the problems Emily had brought up to him.

Emily watches Julie go reluctantly, eyes boring a silent apology into her back for her own lack of tact if nothing else before she turns to face her father again. His calm is half surprise, half-expected, but she doesn’t take his offer to sit. The closest she does is come closer, her arms folding tightly across her chest. When he segues how he does, she almost follows him with it, answers off the cuff. Very carefully, she pulls herself back from that, her words slow.

“If you’re going to compare going through having your corpse reanimated, resuscitated, and a complete miraculous recovery to… literally anything else, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to hear it.” The initial harshness of her voice tapers off as her brow furrows. “What he went through isn’t just a lot. It’s fucking unheard of. Whatever happens now is still a lot, and I doubt they’re just going to fucking let him—”

The rest of the statement gets tangled before she can get it out, and she swallows hard. Her jaw trembles as she works up the nerve to speak again. When she does, she works to keep her tone even. “I haven’t, but I’ve met her daughter.” A beat. “What’s the relevance?”

“Shut the fuck up and sit down,” Avi says with a motion to the chair across from him at the table, “before you sprain something trying to out-clever me.” After that he reaches up, slowly wiping one hand down his face, then shifts to look over at her with an uncomfortably intense expression. “Eight or nine years ago… fuck, maybe ten? I don’t know. Lynette Ruiz was prisoner of Bao-Wei Cong. Down at Staten Island Hospital, a fucking horror show that’s something I wish I could ever forget I fucking saw.”

Avi shifts his weight in his seat, reflexively kicking out what was once his bag leg without realizing in the moment that it isn’t bad anymore. “Lynette was taken by the Institute, Cong worked for them up until we blew the entire fucking building up. Way I hear it, he was experimenting on himself. Synthetic abilities. He survived the explosion, turned himself into some sort of fucking ice monster.” Avi taps one finger on the table. “Want to know how I know that?”

Spreading his hands, Avi looks Emily dead in the eyes. “Because that same fucking ice monster attacked the arcology on the day we hauled those kids out. The day your aunt and your cousin died, Bao-Wei fucking Cong was traipsing around kicking over daisies and smashing robots or whatever the fuck ice monsters do. And then we blew that fucking building up.” Nearly working himself up, Avi dials it back and takes a slow, calming breath. “So him being alive? Not surprising.”

“You know what else isn’t surprising? The fucking dead coming back to life,” Avi says with another hammer of a finger down on the table. “Darren Stevens, Abigail Beauchamp, fucking Francois for a little while, Gabriel Gray and his one man fucking band of doppelgangers, Julien Dumont, Claire Bennet,” Avi counts up on fingers. He stops at six. “Stevens brought more people back from the dead than Jesus fucking Christ.”

But Avi stands up, exasperated, frustrated. “This,” he says, pointing down at the floor, “is why I didn’t want you involved with him. Because this is what our whole fucking life was like before the war. During the war. After the war. Literally fucking ghosts, and dead people coming back, and people who can change their faces, and Teodoro Laudani fucking everything under the sun and some stuff on the moon or I don’t know what else!

He raises his voice, but it isn’t anger on Avi’s face. It’s fear.

“I didn’t want this for you,” Avi finally says, quieter.

At first, all Emily can do is scoff when he tells her off. And why wouldn't she? This was a huge deal. Unique. What they did to Devon—

… is just another bulletpoint on a long list of atrocities.

She does sit at some point, because she needs to. There are no snipes, no commentary, not even an attempt to seek clarification. The hair on the back of her neck stands when he mentions ice, the unspoken-of detail coming up unprompted unsettling her. Her head turns away when he stands and his voice sharpens, seeking out Julie's form on the balcony. A dim echo resonates in her mind, reminding her her cousin's skintight proximity to the Institute. For a lack of knowing what else to do, Emily brushes the errant thought away and turns back to face Avi.

“You warned me,” she says first, because he more or less did. Her hands are clasped in her lap, hand over fist. “And I didn't listen.” He'd at least told her. Avi has always been honest with her— maybe more honest than he should be, at times, but honest.

For a moment, the weight of it crushes her. This is just a small sliver of insight into a world she was better off not knowing. Grudgingly, her gaze lifts to his. She agrees with him in silence; she wouldn't have wanted this for her either.

But here they were. “I'm scared for him, Dad.”

“Welcome to the rest of your life,” is Avi’s uncomforting response. “It doesn’t even matter that we life in a fucking science-fiction universe. I would’ve warned you away if he was a fed, if he was in the Army, or whatever. He has a high-stakes life, and unless he wants to retire he’s always going to have one. But… I mean— I can’t fault you.” Avi says with a look down to the table. “We can’t help who we love.”

That admission has Avi briefly shutting his eyes and scrubbing a hand over his mouth. “But you’re fucking in it, now. There were kids half your age in hip deep back before— fuck, during— the war. Same kids you hang out with now. It’s just the way of the world, and… I guess I couldn’t keep you from it your whole life. You’re an Epstein,” he admits with a slow shake of his head, “we’re fucking trouble magnets.”

“I’m sorry you signed up for this life, kiddo. But you’re in good company… and so is Devon. We aren’t going to leave this unresolved.” Avi permits himself a small laugh, then offers a hand across the table. “Did I ever tell you about the time I was smuggling your punk-ass friend Lance out of Bannerman’s Castle? Through a military checkpoint that wound up in a fucking gunfight with Richard’s now COO Kaylee?” There’s a grimace, proud, but pained.

Nothing Avi says is particularly comforting, not even the assertion she's in good company, and therefore Emily remains unsettled. She's very still, distant as he goes through the effort of trying to connect with her. No, she hasn't heard about that story from him, likely because there wasn't exactly an open line of communication between them.

Maybe now there would be, though?

It takes her a moment longer than is conversational to respond, but she manages a quiet, “No, you hadn't.” Realizing she sounds less than enthusiastic, she lifts her head and attempts to sound more eager by adding, “What happened? How was Kaylee involved?”

Avi snorts, pushing himself up from his chair as if somehow Emily had offended him, as if somehow he was just going to walk out the door. But he doesn’t. He walks past her, and into Julie’s kitchen. “This would’ve been… before the arcology, so— October, I think. 2011.” He goes to the refrigerator, opening it and leaning in like a bear rooting around for grubs under a log. “Pretty close to eight years ago, upstate. Near Pollepel Island.” Everyone knew what that was, now.

There’s some clinking noises from the kitchen, things being moved around. “I was staked up at Bannerman’s Castle. We pretty much knew once we hit the Institute it was going to be like swatting a hornet’s nest, and we’d had kids staying there, hiding. So Eileen and I… well, Brian, Eileen, and I… we decide we’re gonna move the kids. Lynette too, I think.” Avi moves something else in the refrigerator, another glass clinking sound. “Yeah, yeah she was there.”

He stands up straight, shuts the door, and starts walking back to the table. “We’re taking the kids in a box truck, northwest, on the Ferry’s route to the Canadian border.” He returns with two alcoholic ciders, setting one down in front of Emily. “It’s a twist off,” he explains, returning to his seat and popping the bottle cap off of his.

“Anyway, I’m in the rear convoy truck. It’s me, Eileen’s brother Nick…” Avi motions with the neck of his bottle to Emily. “I ain’t letting you meet him. He’s too pretty and too dangerous.” Then a sip. “And Eric Doyle.” Everyone knows who he was too. “So us three amigos are packed in, while Gillian, Kaylee, and Lynette are in the back with the kids…” Avi makes a face at the bottle, rankling his nose at the too-sweet taste.

He sets the bottle aside, then looks over at Emily. “I should probably explain, those kids? That’d be your idiot friends, Joe and Lance. Dunno if you ever met Hailey and Paul. Girl who’s good with animals and a motherfucker who could phase through solid objects.” Avi reconsiders his beer. “So it’s, you know, a family car ride through the mountains…”

When he comes back and sets the bottle before her, it takes Emily a moment, then she blinks hard. Did he just…? It's a twist-off, he'd casually said. What he means is is so it basically doesn't even count as a drink.

Her next blink is a little longer, a little heavier. God damn it, Dad.

She looks back his way when he has his first break in the story, wondering if she should tell him she's already knows who Nick Ruskin is. Probably not, as he might swing the conversation around to Eileen after, by sheer proximity. Her gaze flickers as something tugs at the edge of her memory, a familiarity somehow in the story. She's heard this before? “—when there was an ambush? Or something?” She sounds uncertain about it, but there's a definite base base of knowledge she's speaking from. Her eyes narrow at some thought. “Something something Hailey. A moose.”

Now she reaches for the drink, tipping it back quickly. “Joe— likes to run his mouth,” she explains before she drinks. Her look is still as flat as before. “He speaks highly of you. Or he did the one time it came up. We haven't talked that much since…” Now it caves in discomfort, and she looks down at the bottle. “… well, since I figured he probably heard what my family name is. I've — sort of, avoided him since the internship st…”

Emily is narrowing her eyes again, realizing something small. She looks back up at Avi, the sound of a half-formed expletive-laden interrogative breathing away from her. He knew of some, not the others. Joe, who she went to classes with. Lance, who she interned with. Not Hailey, though. None of it she'd told him.

She tries to voice the question again but her heart's not in it, and she lets it out in a frustrated sigh instead. She takes a second sip from the drink. “Can I ask you for a favor?” she asks, trying and failing from keeping it sounding uncomfortable.

Avi looks deflated, slouching into his bottle as if it will keep him up. “I mean, yeah. But only if it's to ask me to tell the part about the moose, because fuck you should've seen it. Just galloping along, shitting intermittently, between crushing assholes into paste!” But he tempers his excitement, leaves what happened inside his head that day where it belongs. In his head.

“You can ask me for anything,” is the most sincere thing Avi’s ever said to Emily. “Unless it's about sex,” and he's gone and ruined it. “Anything but that. Ask your mother.”

Emily smiles despite herself when he suggests asking about the moose, because he's rarely that animated at something he's not pissed off at. She might have asked to hear more, to fill in the blanks, but the image he's put up suggests maybe it's better it stays at a rushed explanation. Regardless, she shakes her head, looking back up to him.

She frowns deeply when he adds his addendum. It's her turn to look deflated, wind out of her sails. "I'll go easy on you," she says with a certain dryness. "Have you got another story that doesn't involve a shitting moose?"

After taking a sip from his drink, Avi reaches his free hand out across the table, taking one of Emily’s in it. There’s something about his expression that implies he’s surprised by the gesture too, but he doesn’t flinch back, doesn’t move his hand away. “Yeah,” is how he cements the moment in time, “Yeah, I got a few…” He’s nervous about the smile creeping up on his lips, nervous about this moment, but at the same time she wanted to figure things out, and sometimes, figuring things out means getting into the mindset to think straight. Sometimes it means figuring one-another out.

“I should tell you about Roy Raith,” Avi says quietly, “your grandfather.”

Sometimes it means starting at the beginning.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License