emily_icon.gif eileen2_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title No
Synopsis Emily responds to a phone call.
Date April 7, 2019

Elmhurst Hospital

It’s not the best hospital in the world. It’s not even in the running for best hospital in the state, but it’s what was close, and that’s what mattered when they were bringing Avi here.

The waiting room for the ER is all molded blue chairs mounted to the stained floor and walls that could probably use some new wallpaper. Supplies are thin these days, outside of the Safe Zones or the few remaining cities that survived without too much damage, and even medical institutions make due as best they can. A tired-looking nurse is sitting behind the desk while others occasionally rush through on one errand or another, and a few family members and friends of people being taken care of are sitting in chairs murmuring to one another in worry or simply staring at the swinging doors.

“He’ll be fine,” says Richard, leaning against a wall beside some of the chairs rather than sitting, arms folding across his chest and dark eyes hidden by shades looking down to the woman nearby, “Takes more than a few hits to the head to get through that thick skull of his.” It’s said with confidence, but the foundation of that is hope. If he believes something enough, it must be so.

“He’s never been fine.” This from Eileen in her ratty blonde wig and what Avi once referred to as a tacky as fuck fur coat. Setting foot inside the Safe Zone is always a risk for those who — for whatever reasons — cannot live there, but it’s a risk that can be mitigated by falsified papers and superficial changes to appearances.

She’s fortunate that there are very few pictures of her in existence. The ones sandwiched in the middle of Wolves of Valhalla portray a much younger girl, often at a distance — or in the shadows of older, more recognizable men.

She sits directly to Richard’s left in one of the chairs set apart from other groupings, bent at the middle, coat sleeves rolled up to her elbows. Although there’s no smoking allowed in the waiting room, she holds a package of cigarettes clasped in her still-bloodied hands like some sort of strange, rumpled talisman.

The edge of her thumbnail anxiously picks at a paper seam, prying it open until it exposes the gold foil underneath. Fluorescent lights make it difficult to determine the precise shade of her eyes, and that’s good for her too. Nevertheless, she keeps her head bowed and her gaze downcast.

“He should fucking retire.”

“You know him better than that,” Richard points out with a roll of his eyes, head tilting back then to rest against the wall, eyes closing, “He’s never going to retire until he’s dead or literally can’t pick up a gun. At least he’s mostly riding a desk or running ops over radio these days, which usually keeps him out of the line of fire.” At least except when he’s the specific target, it seems. “The kids look after him well enough, most of the time.”

He remains silent for several more moments, then lifts a hand, fingers sliding under his shades to rub at his eyes.

“They told me Gray was dead,” he notes quietly, “So you must be Ruskin?”

“Or would you prefer Black?”


For some reason, it's her Emily picks out first. She's just come in off the street, carried by the first shoes she could find — a well-worn pair of flip-flops. Only after she's making a beeline to the Englishwoman does her gaze flit to Richard, the juxtaposition of the two together … startling. What the hell had happened?

It's a question needing answered as soon as possible, but there's something else needing taken care of first. "You're here, why the fuck are you here?" comes out of Emily in a quieter rush than her initial exclamation. As soon as she's closed the gap between them, she throws her arms around Eileen's shoulders in a firm embrace.

Emily Epstein is not a hugger.

It's one of the factors influencing why the embrace is so brief. Another, is the stream of nervous questions that pour from her. "How is he? How bad is it? Where—" Emily finally looks up toward Richard then, gaze unimpeded. Her aviator sunglasses rest on top of her head, allowing the narrowing of her eyes to be fully appreciated. "What happened?" she demands to know.

On her feet, Eileen is still half a head shorter than Emily. As the younger woman draws away, she places her hands on her arms and maintains physical contact, albeit through the fabric of her sleeves. The conduit lies dormant: oblivious and slumbering. It’s a small miracle the events that brought the three of them into the same room haven’t required her to use it.

Or for it to use her.

She looks beyond Emily’s shoulder, seeking out Richard with her eyes. There’s the matter of how much they should tell Avi’s daughter about what transpired today, and perhaps they should have thought to discuss it during the drive back to the Safe Zone — or even at some point during the past few minutes, as long and agonizing as they’ve been.

She hesitates, unsure whether she should address Emily’s questions first, or defer to the more difficult one that preceded them. Realizes, then, that Emily answered Richard’s initial query for her.

Eileen, she’d said. And why not? Why not just Eileen?

“He has a concussion,” she tells Emily. “They’re going to keep him overnight as a precaution, to monitor his condition. He’s struggling with language and— basic motor functions, but the doctors are likely to discharge him sometime in the morning. Nothing permanent, only he’ll still need some time to mend.” A beat. Then: “Richard saved his life.”

This is the narrative she chooses to spin, if only because she knows Avi won’t believe it if she includes herself. On account of her eyes.

“Pure Earthers,” is Richard’s two-word explanation of what happened, regarding the man in question’s daughter through dark shades that are difficult to read his demeanor through. The words from the other woman bring a brow lifting slightly, but if that’s the way she wants to spin it— he understands spin.

“He’ll be alright. If he was any worse, I would’ve had to call— a healer,” he says, changing the name he was about to use in lieu of a more indirect term, “Which may not be a bad idea to hurry his healing anyway, but not until he’s out of there.”

He grimaces, “He was on his way to meet with me so I could update him on a few situations, didn’t show up— I had someone run a check on perimeter security and they spotted a few things. Fortunately, I can… move pretty quickly when I need to.”

Nobody’s ever measured the speed of dark but maybe that’s for the best.

Jesus Christ,” Emily murmurs. Eileen's explanation of his state is to the point, but still leaves so many questions. It was meant to, and succeeds in being somewhat calming, despite the severity of hearing something as serious as struggling with language and basic motor function. It still leaves the ‘how’, which is a half-formed question Richard answers succinctly.

The teenager's shoulders slope and lower at the news. She got the answers she asked for, and more quickly and effortlessly than expected. Her gaze slides unfocused as she looks at nothing, taking a moment to compartmentalize, try and… reduce if not eradicate her nerves.

Her arms quickly shove into a fold to minimize the tremble in her hands. “Thank you,” she states clearly to Richard, because she knows it's unlikely to come from Avi. And because, according to Eileen, it's him they have to thank.

Emily shifts a look the Englishwoman's way briefly as she suspects there's slightly more to it than that, but she just as quickly peers down at her feet, scuffing one on the floor. “Is it the same bullshit as before?” she asks, at first without context. Only after a pause has elapsed does she remember to add, “—No visitors at first.”

Her brow crumples in a weak furrow, a faint laugh escaping her. It very clearly outs itself as the type one makes in lieu of breaking into tears. “We've got to quit meeting like this, Richard,” she forces out, trying to defuse the conversation as much as her own emotional state with an injection of humor.

It’s very much the same bullshit, if you ask Eileen. Which Emily is. In the time between her initial question and the clarification that arrives after, her expression grows distant as her mind turns backwards. It occurs to her that she’s tried to take care of Avi for almost as long as she’s known him, whether sewing shut the gaping maw where his eye used to be, offering herself as a physical crutch when he’d had too much to drink, or anything else that happened in between.

The only difference now is that there are hospitals and rules like no visitors. She’s affronted by the idea that she not be allowed to insert herself in his life and remain there as a well-meaning nuisance for as long as it pleases her. (And it does please her.)

That’s how it’s always been.

“Security is lax,” she says, circling back around to the present. “If you want to see him, Richard and I will find a way.”

The ghost of a smile answers Emily’s thanks, Richard’s head tipping in a bit of a nod. “We do,” he admits, glancing down the hall, “We could get you in, but he’s probably asleep right now, so taking a little bit of time to let him rest won’t hurt. He got hit in the head pretty hard, but— “

He looks back, eyebrows lifting, “Fortunately, you Epsteins are known for thick fucking skulls.” His own bit of humor to help hold back those tears.

It only has middling success, as the laugh that tears from her is wet with emotion. Emily bobs her head in a forceful nod to acknowledge her family's blessed hard-headedness. A second static of laughter escapes from her, her gaze dropping down. He'll be all right, she tries to tell herself, almost visibly, but it's still hard to not let the worry show.

There's a disorientation she's trying to work her way through — Barely a fortnight ago she'd been right here, but it was Avi who'd—

"You're not supposed to go to sleep when you're concussed," suddenly flies from her, alarm in her posture. The dysphoria of everything being fine to not fine in the matter of a phonecall takes hold of her quickly, hoping it doesn't shift next from alive to dead. After all, the last major shock of news had involved that very change in state. Devon's miraculous reappearance notwithstanding.

She can't remember if it's one of those old wives' tales of a myth, isn't thinking clearly enough to evaluate it critically. She just knows what she remembers. Emily looks suddenly to Eileen, seeking either agreement or clarification from her in the lack of a better authority to turn to.

Eileen doesn’t have quite the same reaction; her eyes skirt past Emily in the direction of the RN, then at Richard. She has trust in the doctors here, even if Sasha Kozlow is among them, but it isn’t Avi’s well-being she’s concerned about anymore.

She needs to put his daughter at ease.

“He needs to rest,” she affirms, “though there’s no harm in having an extra set of eyes on him in the meantime. Let’s go have a word with the nurse.”

“That’s an old wives’ tale,” Richard informs Emily with a shake of his head as he tries to ease her worries, “I’ve slept plenty of times when I’ve had concussions, and I’ve woken up from every single one of them.”

Which may say something about him.

As the other woman here decides to push things, though, he reluctantly pushes himself off from the wall. “Between his daughter and my name,” he admits, “We should be able to threaten our way in, probably.”

There will be no argument on Emily’s part about the direction they’re heading. She does her best to keep herself together, swiping the side of her hand under her eye to make sure it’s clear of any moisture, taking a moment to look between the two of them before she belatedly starts to follow after. “Richard, no wonder you make such questionable fucking decisions, then,” she mutters, barely-heard as she keeps him in the corner of her eye. “Probably isn’t a wives’ tale and you’re just…”

She breathes out a soft laugh and looks back down, deciding it’s probably best not to press it further. He is, after all, offering to help tear down obstacles of hers.

“Please let’s not threaten anybody,” is Eileen’s request, which sounds ridiculous coming from her of all people, but there it is. The RN must not have heard it, because she doesn’t look up until she hears their approaching footfalls, and when she does it takes her a moment to place Emily’s face and connect the mental dots associated with it.

That’s Avi Epstein’s daughter. Julie Fournier-Raith’s cousin.

Her mouth flattens into a thin line. It’s not Emily’s fault, really. Or Richard’s. Or Eileen’s. Later, they might all look back on this moment and be able to finger the real culprit: Julie’s abrasive personality and the personal vendettas it’s created in her workplace.

“No,” she tells Emily before anyone can even ask.

At that request from the avian telepath, Richard gives her a look, one brow arching over his shades. Then he shrugs, moving to walk along up towards the desk.

He smiles a smile that only widens after that immediate no.

“Hi,” he greets the nurse affably, “Richard Ray. We’re hoping to get in to see Avi Epstein, so that we can send an eyewitness report over to Wolfhound before they get twitchy and fly over here thinking he’s in danger or something.”

It’s not completely a lie, but it is smoothly said.

There has been a request made to not threaten anyone, which by all means it looks like Emily's attempting to follow. Any affability from her expression has disappeared, though, and standing next to Richard, not even his wide grin can likely make up for the daggers in her eyes. That immediate, unprompted no has done a lot to take being reasonable about this right out of her system, her jaw taut.

Richard's stated reason doesn't receive so much as a glance. No, Emily's gaze is on the RN. She doesn't remember this woman, doesn't remember pissing her off, though feelings of animosity are now reciprocated.

She waits patiently for the next no, an animated retort bubbling under the surface.

“Excuse me,” the RN says, her focus — and immaculately disguised wrath — immediately shifting from Emily to Richard when he speaks up, “did you just threaten this hospital?”

Her face is hard, her mouth flat, but there’s a glimmer of something in her own eyes that might be a smile. She’s enjoying this.

“I’m sure the commanding officer assigned to us would be very interested to hear that Wolfhound considers Elmhurst part of its jurisdiction. In fact, let me go and get him on the line…”

This is already going very poorly. At the counter-threat and mere allusion to the military police, both Richard and Emily feel Eileen tense. She places a hand at Richard’s elbow.

“No…” Richard brings his hand up - the hand attached to the arm that Eileen’s not touching - and pinches the bridge of his nose, “Unless you consider having the emergency room waiting area filled with worried soldiers making enough noise to wake up a regiment and taking up all the seats to be a threat. More of a concern than anything.”

He sweeps that hand through the air, “We just want to get in to see a guy that just got beat the fuck up by racist assholes, okay?”

"How about you stop the fucking power trip and go get someone who will actually help?" Emily bristles, voice raised a tad past what's acceptable for conversational levels. "We're not here to make a fucking scene, we just want to make sure he's all right." She's trying with all her might to bring her voice down, but her frustration is passionate and her glare is just as loud. Somehow, she's able to tone it down to a medium seethe. "You'd not think that'd be such a goddamned ordeal." Feeling Eileen's shift more than seeing it, Emily slips half a step to the side, placing herself more in front of her than she was previously.

"So please," she says, not at all politely, and with a stiff gesture of her arm toward elsewhere behind the desk. "Instead of turning this into a whole scene, why don't you go make yourself useful?"

Something about Emily’s tone makes Eileen’s body language shift. Richard senses her hand tighten on his arm as her head turns fractionally toward the younger woman. There’s a sharpness to her expression that previously was not present; the lines around the corners of her mouth are a little more defined, her brows noticeably more pointed.

She’s heard something he hasn’t.

At the same time, the RN is studying Emily’s face. Where Eileen’s body language has become more guarded and almost predatory, like a feral cat crouched the the dark, the RN appears abruptly uncertain. Her shoulders sag. Her mouth starts to move, but no sound comes out. Not at first.

When she finds her voice, it’s buoyed by an unspoken apology. “Of course,” the RN says. “Right this way.”

Blink. Blink. “Well, that was… easy,” Richard murmurs bemusedly, glancing to Eileen as that grip tightens before he looks towards Emily. A beat, and then he shrugs, not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.

“Alright, then, let’s go,” he says to the others, moving to follow even as he gives Eileen a questioning look.

Emily's shoulders settle at the apology, surprise flickering in her gaze. She blinks slowly, still holding onto a knot of tension at her core. Really? She's going to help? The teenager doesn't know what to do with that for a beat, until she recovers with a curt nod.

“Thank you,” comes from her clipped, accompanied with a glance at the woman's badge. “—Ms. Torrance.”

With another small, falsely self-assured nod Emily finally glances back to Eileen and Richard both. Her arms fold before her with a glimmer of uncertainty in her expression, not seeming to know what to do with the turn of events. But, she's more focused on getting back and seeing Avi, and she turns away. Determinedly, she charts a path around the desk to the double-doors to wait for them to unlock, flip-flops peeling from the floor as she takes her first steps.

It doesn't erase the rest of what she feels though. “Sorry,” she mutters in that transition, not sure why. Sorry, likely, because there was a greater chance that what she did could have backfired. Emily keeps her gaze down for the most part, distracted.

Eileen’s hand falls from Richard’s arm. Of the three, she is the only one that doesn’t follow the RN into the long, angular corridor that leads to Avi’s bedside.

It may be because she’s not yet ready to look him in the eye while he has all his mental faculties about him.

More likely, something else has transpired in the last few minutes to affix her feet firmly to the waiting room’s reflective linoleum floor.

She doesn’t linger there for very long; by the time Emily and Richard have turned the corner, she’s also gone, disappeared down some dark stairwell or immaculate elevator shaft with the cheerless ding of closing doors.

Sometimes it’s better to be alone, even if she isn’t ever really. Because the voice in her head is back, and it has an opinion about what they both just witnessed.

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