(Not A) Substitute


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Scene Title (Not A) Substitute
Synopsis Richard Ray travels to Elmhurt Hospital to deliver belated news of Luis' death.
Date September 11, 2018

Elmhurst Hospital

How can a night seem to go on forever, but the days slip through one’s fingers like grains of sand on a beach?

Richard meant to go see Juliette Fournier-Raith months ago, but between his work at Raytech, the harassment and attacks of the Horsemen, and then one revelation atop another as he pulled himself out of ‘retirement’ and back into the game…

The sands all slipped through his fingers.

The doors of the hospital slide open as he passes by them and approaches the desk, hoping that the suit he’s wearing will brush aside too many questions about who he is and why he’s asking for a specific person. Social camouflage goes a long way; a lesson he’s known for most of his life.

“Hi,” he greets the desk worker with his best smile, “I need to talk with one of your RN’s, if you could see if they’re available— Juliette Fournier-Raith. It’s an important family issue, I would’ve called her but you know how cell service is. Most people don’t even have phones anymore.”

The receptionist’s brows raise. “Richard Ray?” Oh. That's— oh. “Oh, yeah I mean… Hold on let me call her. I knew she had famous friends but— ” There's a flush of laughter from the young woman as she picks up an interoffice phone and depresses a button.

“Nurse Raith, to the front lobby. Nurse Raith to the front lobby.” The receptionist hangs up the phone and flashes Richard a smile, brown eyes flicking up and down his suit. “So you're… a CEO now, right? Didn't you fight the Vanguard?” She glances behind Richard, making sure no one else is waiting. “I read all about you in Wolves of Valhalla!”

Richard can’t help a grin at the receptionist’s responds, head shaking and hands spreading to either side in a you got me sort of motion. “CEO of Raytech Industries, yes, that’s me…”

The grin fades a bit at the topic, and he nods then, “I did. A lot of people did, though; we all did what we had to do to keep the world safe back then. Honestly, as far as the Vanguard goes, my role there was pretty minor.”

He probably shouldn’t tell her about Abby’s role in everything.

The receptionist leans forward with wide eyes, smiling and nodding. “No, no, that's cool. Yeah there's so many people in this book I want to meet. I mean Abigail Beauch— Muldoon. Abigail Muldoon works here! I haven't had the nerve to talk to her y— ”

Katie,” comes a sharp voice from the direction of double doors leading into the hospital from the lobby. “I think you've got an incoming call?” Juliette Fournier-Raith is decidedly older than the last time Richard saw her — or even via proxy through her twin. Dressed in pink scrubs, she strides on sensible sneakers across the floor, motioning to the flashing red button on the phone, then slips around the embarrassed receptionist to angle a look up at Richard.

“Either it's you she called me in here for,” Julie says as she adjusts a stethoscope around her neck, “or this is just another one of life’s weird coincidences. Which is it?”

Older, perhaps, but still recognizable. Richard watches her for a moment as memories and emotions stir beneath the surface, and then a faint and rueful smile tugs at his lips. “Come to think there aren’t really any coincidences in left, to be honest,” he admits, “I suppose I’m my father’s son there.”

“No, I’m here to see you. I…” He pauses, glancing around before back to her, “Is there anywhere quieter we can talk? It’s about— family business.”

Julie’s expression sags when Richard mentions family, her posture stiffening and a wary look fired briefly back to the receptionist. “Yeah,” Julie says with a huff of breath, “I needed to step out for a smoke anyway.” She turns, without making eye contact, and brushes past Richard toward the exit he'd come in from.

“You've got until I finish,” Julie sets the terms of their conversation with a hint of tension in her voice, “then I've got to get back to work. We've got a construction team with crush injuries and we’re running low on pain killers.”

“I understand. Would’ve given you a call, but I didn’t have your number, and I don’t know where you live, so…” Richard steps along out the door, shaking his head as he joins her outside. He draws in a breath of fresh air (while it lasts, before she lights up) and then he looks back down to her with a serious expression.

“I’m sure you can guess what it is. I’m sorry to give you the news, but Jean-Martin’s dead.”

Little registers on Julie’s face, a brief dip of her eyes down to the street, a crease of her brows, and then a slow exhale of a sigh as those pale eyes close. “I figured as much…” she says with a tightness in her throat.

“He'd written me weekly for years after I settled into the Safe Zone. Used to send me just…” she shakes her head, “odds and ends. Garbage. His handwriting was slipping, he was repeating himself. Dementia,” she presumes, “Parkinson's. He knew he had the genes for both, was terrified he'd wind up in a home.”

Julie opens her eyes and looks up to Richard and fishes slack of cigarettes out of her back pocket. She pulls one out, then offers one to Richard. “How'd you find out?”

At the mention of dementia, Richard’s chin dips in an unhappy nod as he confirms the suspicion. “Yeah,” he admits, even as he reaches out to accept one of the cigarettes, “It was. Dementia, that is, he… wasn’t doing so great the last few years, I’m told.”

Waiting for a lighter to appear, he shakes his head, “I— some of my friends were down there taking care of him since the war, since my people pulled him out of the Ark. They were laying low too, they were taking responsibility for him. After it happened, one of them came up and let me know.”

He’s silent a long moment, and then he turns his head to look over the parking lot, saying quietly, “Parkinson’s would’ve killed him, but it didn’t. Did he ever mention Adam Monroe to you?”

Julie’s blue eyes grow wide, and she looks at Richard with visible surprise. She says nothing, though, looking down and away and rummages around through her pockets until she finds the small, plastic lighter with a faded NASCAR decal on the side. She lights her own cigarette first, taking a desperately needed drag off of it, then passes the lighter over.

“Regenerator.” Julie says flatly, exhaling a lungful of smoke. “Former Company, old, megalomaniac. We had— ” She cuts herself off. Starts over. “The Institute. They… had teams all over the world trying to find him. I don't know why for. I'd hear Simon and Desmond arguing about it a lot.” She takes another drag, wrapping an arm around herself.

“Jesus Christ,” Julie says breathlessly, followed by a sharp blow of smoke away from herself. “He killed Luis?” She flicks a stare over to Richard, then squints. “Why?

“I don’t know.” Richard accepts the lighter, the cigarette tucked between his lips and one hand shielding the wind as he lights up. The lighter’s passed back over, and he takes a long drag on the cigarette, turning his head to blow out a plume of smoke himself on along sigh.

“I don’t know. And that bothers me, I mean— there’s no way that Luis was a threat to him anymore,” he frowns, looking out into the distance past the parking lot, “He could have just out-waited him. Luis had some tapes with some information about Adam, but— they were in the same damn room. And he didn’t do anything about them, didn’t even ransack the place. Just killed him and painted that damn symbol on the wall.”

An apologetic look to her, “I’m sorry. I know this must be hard, I was just— I was hoping maybe you might know why he’d go after the old man. He was a friend, and… whatever mistakes he made, he didn’t deserve to go out like this.” Even if, arguably, it might have been better than the disease.

“I don't know.” Julie admits again, one arm wrapped around herself and head bowed. “Luis wasn't all there at the end. He sent me weird things too with the letters. Old files,” she looks up as of commiserating, “video cassettes? Who even keeps that shit anymore. I think they were from the Institute’s archives. Whatever was left. Luis must've had the hard copies.”

Taking a drag off of her cigarette, Julie paces around out front of the hospital, then turns to look as a crane rises up over an adjacent building. “I'd ask how Adam managed to find him, but Luis was writing his return address on all the envelopes.” She grimaces. “Maybe he mailed him something he didn't like? However that would've happened.”

“He was trying to send me mail too… turns out he had the wrong address,” Richard exhales a sigh, smoke stirring past his lips as he gestures with the cigarette through the air. It might’ve made for a different past few years if he hadn’t. A head start would’ve been nice.

“Maybe. Could I have a look at the files and tapes he sent you? Could be some answers in there, could be…” He shrugs, “Nothing at all. I’ve been digging up some of the old Institute information anyway where I can find it, seeing if anything could be salvaged, any of the good projects…”

A shake of his head, “I’d give my left hand— “ again “— for the Garden of Eden project data the Renautas’ were working on. God knows that the country could use that technology right now.”

“I can mail you whatever it is, give me a card or something,” Julie easily asserts, tucking a lighter into her pocket. “Honestly I don't know what Luis was thinking, or if he even knew. When I was little, I thought he was just looking for someone to care for. But…” looking away, Julie seems troubled. “Being older, knowing he lost his daughter and was just— looking for a replacement? I don't know…”

Shaking her head, perhaps not even sure herself where she was going with that, Julie takes another drag off of her cigarette then gently snuffs the unfinished remainder out on the brick wall of the hospital, tucking it back into the cigarette pack for later. “Thanks for coming out here and telling me. I mean, I always assumed he passed away, I just…” She swallows audibly. “I guess I always knew I'd never get to say goodbye. Not really.”

“He cared about you.” Richard regards her with a serious look, the cigarette-bearing hand dropping down to his side, “I can tell you that one of the first things he was worried about when we extracted him was the status of you and your sister. He gave me all the information for your medical care, I passed it on to the Ferry when we rendezvous’d after everything…”

He shakes his head, “Maybe he was looking for a replacement for his daughter at first, but whatever his original motivations were— he loved you both dearly. I can promise you that.”

A hand slips into his jacket, then, drawing out a business card from a pocket— all CEO’s need one of those pockets, it seems— and he offers it over along with a faint smile, “I appreciate it. And if you need anything, let me know— or if you run into anyone from the Institute before Wolfhound turns them into ground beef, for that matter. I’d like to at least give them a chance to get through the legal system instead of getting run to ground.”

Julie eyes the card, turns it over between two fingers, then tucks it onto the front pocket of her scrubs. “Yeah,” is her noncommittal answer to all of what Richard says. It isn't clear where she stands on any of that, though the side-eye she gives Richard is momentarily emphasized by a glossiness to her eyes and a distance in her stare. It's blinked away a moment later.

Yeah,” Julie reiterates, running both her hands through her hair and in the same fluid motion sliding a hair tie off of her wrist, drawing her hair back into a ponytail. “I'll mail you,” she asserts, already turning away and walking back to the front doors of the hospital. All told, she took it well.

It's the least Richard could have hoped for.

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