sf_brynn_icon.gif sf_emma_icon.gif

Scene Title Likeness
Synopsis Everything will be fine.
Date September 2, 2020

The view from up here overlooks Stuyvesant Square Park, a particularly verdant stretch of Manhattan divided by 2nd Ave. From eleven stories up most of the people and cars look like toys, flowing up and down the sunny street, going about their ordinary lives. What’s amazing is how much that sound carries through the glass of highrise windows.

Brynn Petrelli can feel the vibrations of that noise in her hand, pressed up against the glass. The vibrations accentuate the sound she’s getting from her cerebral implant, one that she barely even notices the weight of as it hangs like a hair clip off the back, right side of her head. It is as subtle an instrument as the sounds themselves are, sounds that every day fill her worth with a mixture of noise and harmony that had prior been left to her imagination.

The sound of approaching footsteps draws Brynn’s attention away from the window, though her reflection in the glass briefly catches her eye and gives her pause before she’s drawn away from it by the sound of the door opening at her back. The blonde doctor walking in is a familiar face, because today is a familiar day. It’s Wednesday…

…and on Wednesday she has an appointment.

Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital
Neurosurgery Department

Midtown, Manhattan
New York City

September 2nd
10:02 am

Doctor Emma Coolidge is an associate neurosurgery specialist at Mount Sinai focusing in neurological implants and hearing. For the past three years, Emma has worked with Brynn to acclimate her to her cochlear implant, address the challenges that have come to adapting to its use, and also do so in the presence of someone who understands her world better than any other doctor ever has.

Good morning! Emma signs as she comes into the office with a pair of extremely chocolatey iced drinks in a cardboard tray in her other hand hand. They’re some mocha drink or another with a whipped cream topping from the Starbucks across the street. She’s already dug into hers, judging from the difference in volume.

Emma sets the drinks down on her desk, then turns to look over at Brynn. “It’s so hot out, I thought you’d like this.” She says with a fond smile.

She turns at the sound of the door, smiling at the greeting. Brynn, having been born deaf, is one of the patients for whom verbal communication will always be less instinctive and it took a long time for her to really pick it up well. Despite the intense therapy to learn to both speak and even sing, Brynn is still far more comfortable with sign language. She takes a few moments to order her words for what she wants to say in spoken conversation before she replies. "It looks delicious. Thank you." Emma always insists on verbal communication as much as possible for the continued practice for both of them.

"I was in the greenhouse this morning," she tells the doctor, unconsciously signing the statement as well. "You know it's too hot when they run the misters the whole morning to keep the plants from wilting." Then she moves to pick up the drink that was brought for her, sipping from the straw. "Do you have a busy schedule today?"

“Always,” Emma says with a smile, pulling her chair out from behind her desk so that there isn’t an obstruction between her and Brynn. “But you’re an important part of my busy,” and she signs ‘important’ for additional emphasis.

Emma crosses one leg over the other, holding her drink by the top of the plastic cup while she takes a sip, then balances it on her thigh while retrieving a small digital tablet from the corner of her desk. “How’s everything at home been? Is your mom doing well?”

"Busy, as usual," Brynn says and signs. Her speaking aloud at all is because Emma insists on the constant practice to make her tongue and mouth form the sounds correctly. Even now, she speaks more slowly than she signs but after three years of working with Emma and others in the department she speaks clearly, just with a vaguely blurry edge to her voice. "She has a foundation dinner tonight. I'm not sure if Jac is going with her, but I'm not attending." A faint grin quirks her lips. "I hate the photo ops." Their last name alone brings out the paparazzi.

“Me too,” Emma says with a coy smile, “I always think I look fine in a photograph, but something’s always wrong.”

Setting down her drink on the corner of her desk, Emma turns a look to Brynn, then folds her hands in her lap. “How is the implant working?” She asks, looking toward the side of Brynn’s head it’s on, if she had a better angle to see it. “Have you had any more dizzy spells? Disorientation?” One brow rises.

Moving to pick up her own cup from the desk — having something in her hands reminds her not to Sign — Brynn toys with the straw. "It seems to be working well. I'm still having the same trouble as usual determining where exactly sounds are coming from, but the directional mic is doing great for speech identification, as long as it's not too noisy." She's still easily overwhelmed in overcrowded situations, sometimes to the point of having to shut off her external processor.

There's a long pause and then she nods just slightly. "I've had a couple, yes." She doesn't want to say that — part of her is terrified that if it keeps up, it would have to be removed. And though it's not 'hearing' as most perceive it, it has changed her life. "The vertigo made me lose my footing last week in the gallery," she grimaces. "It's not any worse, definitely. Maybe a little better?" Despite not being able to hear the question in her tone, the doctor knows her well enough to read the uncertainty at the end in her expression.

Emma nods, scooting her chair forward. “So, I was thinking.” She threads an errant lock of hair behind one ear. “About ways you might be able to train the equilibrium issue. I remember you saying your sister took fencing lessons,” she’s careful on mentions of Jac, never sure how the tides of sibling relationship are at any given moment. “Maybe not something so intense, but have you considered dance lessons?”

Resting her hands on her knees, Emma sits forward. “I have a colleague whose daughter teaches at the Peridance Capezio Center. I could help you get a session, see if you like it. It’s not for everyone but,” Emma smiles faintly, “it’s an art. I know how creative you are.”

Any sentence that starts with 'so I was thinking' generally then includes something that Brynn is going to be wary of. Emma immediately gets the teenaged side-eyes, despite the fact that Brynn isn't a teen anymore. She's close enough. A slow nod of agreement at the fact that Jac fences is then followed by a raising of both eyebrows. "Dance?" she both says and signs with a vaguely skeptical expression.

"I was expecting you to suggest yoga or tai chi," she admits, forming the words carefully. Perhaps she too has been considering ways to help herself. She's not a fool, after all. And yoga is something she has actually done off and on anyway. "I never considered dancing." Brynn ponders the suggestion and purses her lips. "I can try it," she decides a bit reluctantly. Emma has never steered her wrong, but she's not sure that dancing is really going to be her thing. Then again, she's never really tried it.

Sipping from the cold drink in her hand, Brynn's enjoyment of it is in the blissful smile that appears at the flavor bursting on her tongue. It gives her the time to consider what she says next. "I'm thinking about taking my camera up into New England to get some shots for the autumn." Photography, sketching, and painting are generally the mediums she uses to express herself. But she's been hesitant to mention travel up to now due to the vertigo issues because she doesn't want to have to argue about traveling on her own.

The smile Emma adopts when Brynn even loosely accepts the possibility is a broad, proud one. And as she considers Brynn’s potential trip up north she adds, “That sounds like a wonderful idea, I’m certain it will be lovely up there.”

What the fuck is wrong with you? You can’t just say that to him. Do you want to lose your job?

Emma reaches out for her drink, not reacting to a man’s voice that Brynn hears clearly in her right ear. It’s a startling whisper-shout of someone who is both angry but also trying to keep his voice down.

“Have you given any thought to taking your sister with you?” Emma wonders, taking a sip from her drink with an oblivious smile.

Brynn's mind is on her camera and the shots she might get of the color changes in New England. "October is generally better for the breadth of colors," she says. "I… hadn't really thought about taking Jac, but… she might enjoy it." There's a pause as she considers it, and then her body goes taut as she hears the whisper-shout.

Her head whips around to the right, seeking the person speaking. Her directional sense of sound is still not very good, but that was almost painfully clear on her right side. The speed of her movement causes her to list just slightly to one side, and when she looks back, there is an expression of dismay. Other people's expressions of emotion like that make her uncomfortable at best, but …

Maybe her implant just needs an adjustment?

And Emma can't hear it. "Uhm… I'm not sure, but I think your secretary is upset about something?" Brynn is uncertain that's who it was.

Emma’s brows rise and she looks over her shoulder to her door. She smiles, awkwardly, and looks back to Brynn and signs, Did you hear something outside? There’s a little bit of pride in Emma’s smile, that Brynn is picking up sounds so easily.

I don’t care what you think. You keep your mouth shut and you do your fucking job, that’s what you do. Unless you want to wind up out on the goddamn street.

Emma doesn’t react, obviously can’t hear the angry voice. “It’s normal to be surprised by sounds that come from outside of your line of sight. Hearing something through a door or a wall,” she says with a smile. “Is she upset though?”

Emma’s secretary is a woman. But the voice…

…it’s a man’s.

Now Brynn's alarmed. "Someone's threatening her," she says, coming to her feet with her hands twisting together. She's not liking what she's hearing, and she stops talking just in case she's being loud. He said he didn't care what she thinks, she should shut up and do her effing job or she'll be fired.

Her gray eyes shift toward the door and she side-steps toward the window on the far side as if to retreat from the harsh words. He sounds really really peeved, Emma.

Visibly concerned, Emma stands up from her chair and moves to the door to her office, opening it briskly. She looks out into the lobby, looking left and right, then steps to the side to look just a little further. Brynn can see what’s causing Emma’s confusion: there’s no one at the assistant’s desk and a post-it note is stuck to her monitor that says: Early Lunch!

Emma turns back into her office, looking at Brynn with brows raised. “Are you sure?” She asks, “I didn’t see anyone.”

Brynn doesn’t hear anyone either.

Brynn's hands twist themselves together as Emma goes to the door, but the doctor's puzzled expression makes her move over there herself to look out. A frown pulls her brows together and the petite brunette gets a wary, confused look. "But…."

But there's no one there. What in the world?

"I distinctly heard someone talking," she insists to Emma. "He wanted to know what was wrong with whoever he was talking to — that they can't say 'that', whatever 'that' was, to some 'him' unless the person wanted to end up in the street."

She's still uneasy with the tone of what she heard.

Emma’s expression shifts to visible concern as she looks Brynn up and down. She steps forward, gently reaching up to brush her fingertips against the magnetic node of Brynn’s cochlear implant, making sure its lining up properly to the cranial magnet. She keeps her other hand on Brynn’s shoulder, a reassuring squeeze. There’s a faint crackling sound as she moves the magnetic connection, a muffled sound that feels like it’s inside of Brynn’s skull, then normal noise.

It looks fine. Emma signs. She shuts the door to her office and indicates for Brynn to return to her seat as she does the same. “Sometimes people with these implants experience phantom noises. Not usually… voices? But…” she doesn’t want to say they might be hallucinations.

Slipping into a more doctorly demeanor, Emma picks up her tablet and swipes up to her calendar. “I’m going to schedule you for a follow-up so we can make sure your implant isn’t damaged. Have you experienced this before?” She looks up at Brynn, her concern even more evident in the weight of her stare.

Tipping her head so that Emma can move the receiver, Brynn wrinkles her face up at the 'sound' of the crackling. It's awkward and not something that she likes very much.

Shaking her head in response to the question, Brynn's brow puckers in confusion. "No. Maybe I picked up something from further away than we expected." Like the next office over or something. "But no, I haven't had it happen before. Honestly, whoever the guy was, I hope I don't meet him." She grimaces. "He sounded exceedingly unpleasant."

Moving back to the chair she'd been sitting in, the young woman lowers herself into it. "Emma, should I be worried?" Brynn doesn't like the expression on the doctor's face at all.

“No,” Emma says as she sets her tablet aside and slips out of her chair to stand over Brynn’s. She places a hand on each of Brynn’s shoulders, smiling reassuringly. “You don’t have to worry about anything. Everything you’re experiencing is perfectly normal.”

Emma lifts one hand to cup Brynn’s cheek, looking down at her with supporting eyes and a broad, fearless smile.

“Everything is going to be fine.”

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