Promises of Change and Violence


eileen2_icon.gif emily_icon.gif genevab_icon.gif

Scene Title Promises of Change and Violence
Synopsis A wrong is righted.
Date January 20, 2018

Elmhurst Hospital

Sneaking a hummingbird into the hospital isn't the craziest thing Emily has ever done, and it won't even be the most outlandish thing she does today.

Still, her nerves are high as she waits for the elevator. She's very aware of the small, practically unnoticeable lump hidden underneath her coat, clutching to her shirt with its tiny claws. She's grateful when the doors open and she rides up the two floors alone. "Almost there," she murmurs to her unseen passenger, resisting the urge to fuss with her coat and try to smooth it out.

They'd done this once before, and she'd nearly flattened the hummingbird when she had.

The nurse at the station doesn't do more than give Emily a glance as she slides open the glass door to enter the suite the comatose Geneva has been resting in. A curtain is strung mostly over the window-wall already, which is tugged over just a bit further.

"Okay, remember," she says out of precaution as she peels back the side of her coat to let the hummingbird fly free. "If you hear the door, you hide." Emily looks down at the bundle clinging to her knitted wool sweater, frowning.

It is unlikely that Emily will have much to worry about, because in stark contrast to their previous visit here, it looks like the small hummingbird nestled inside Emily's coat has little actual intention of flying anywhere. A tiny, tired-sounding "chrrrrp" vibrates from somewhere within the bundle, muffled by the swaying of heavy fabric.

Geneva has not been doing well, and it likely has not been easy for Emily either, taking care of a wild creature that can literally starve to death within an hour. Normally bright with alertness, her eyes are sunken and half-shut, hidden under pockets of feathers. And she is far thinner than the plump, colorful little ball she had once been. The lump she forms under Emily's clothes is certainly in a more sorry state than it should be.

For once in her life, she does not have anything contrary to add.

When the bird doesn't actually take off, Emily's frown only deepens. Her concern is pointed in the direction of the body on the hospital bed. Having something human to focus her worries on helps. She leans against the side of the bed, sitting down just on the edge of it. A glance is given back toward the door before she leans over to brush Geneva's hair back from her face, listening to the beeps of the machines she's hooked up to, that keep her body sustained.

"I'm sorry," she says softly, far from the first time she's said it. She had tried — was actively trying everything she could think of to keep bird Gene sustained, but she was woefully unprepared for this. Emily swallows hard in the silence that comes as a reply, given she's speaking to someone who can't really respond at the moment. The bustle of the hospital comes through the glass in a murmur, the floors busy thanks to a rash of evolved-ability accidents lately.

If they're lucky, it's busy enough out there they'll be left alone the entire time they're here.

Emily bets on that possibility, taking a moment to carefully curl one hand around the bird and unhook its feet from her sweater, letting it rest in her palm.

The sound Emily warned Geneva about comes sooner than perhaps either of them were expecting as a thin whisper of glass on metal heralds the arrival of a third party. Emily sees their reflection in the room's solitary window without having to turn around or risk another glance over her shoulder, but it isn't good news. The figure's silhouette lacks the soft pastel scrubs she's come to associate with the hospital's nursing staff or her cousin Julie. It's too short, shoulders too narrow to be Sasha Kozlow come to check in on Geneva's prone form during a smoke break as he often does.

Eileen meets Emily's gaze in the window's reflective surface and holds out a gloved hand in a quick, placating gesture that implores silence.

Don't scream, is written all over her wan expression, even if she doesn't actually speak those words.

The skin of the human Geneva's face is pale, chest rising and falling in a gentle, unchanging cycle. The passiveness of her aspect is not so different from the hummingbird's at this moment, as she limply allows her clawed feet to be extricated from the loops of the sweater without a semblance of protest. This is not Emily's fault. Without the other girl, she would not have made it this far. But there is a reason hummingbirds are not kept as pets; they are notoriously difficult to give correct sustenance to, and nectar, unfortunately, does not grow on trees in the New York winter.

At least for now, she seems to be completely preoccupied by what is directly in front of the position Emily had set her in; it is certainly the easiest thing to focus on without swiveling her head and expending precious energy she does not have. The hospital bed, and the contents thereof. There is no sound from her.

Breath catching as the door slides back unexpectedly, Emily looks up into the reflection while biting back a quiet curse, her hand already starting to curl around Geneva's hummingbird form to stow her from sight underneath her coat again. The figure she sees in the window makes her take pause, tension loosing from her fingers.

If Eileen can see anything back in that reflection on the glass, she'll see a flux of microexpressions while she works on shoving her emotions down. It's hard — this entire last week has been raw and painful. In short, she doesn't succeed.

She starts to say something harsh and biting, the words just barely clipped off before they're spoken. Jaw setting, Emily closes her eyes for just a moment before returning to warily glaring down the short woman through her reflection. It's not a scream Eileen would have to worry about — it's a string of expletives. For Geneva's sake, she at least waits to let them fly.

"Shut the curtain when you come in." she voices curtly.

There is something different about the avian telepath's presence that only Geneva, trapped in the wee body of the hummingbird, picks up in the moment Eileen steps into the room. Her energy feels warm, more like crushed velvet than the abrasive veneer she'd worn the last time the two of them crossed paths. A sense of remorse flows freely in the space between them, tempered by quiet resolve, which she siphons into Geneva, giving the little hummingbird an equally tiny boost of strength.

At Emily's request, she draws the curtain closed behind her.

"I can fix it," is what she finally says.

That sounds different, too.

Attracted by Emily's reaction, Geneva peeks out as best she can from between the fingers that are closing around her again. At last, she catches a glimpse of the one figure she perhaps least wants to see right now. Suddenly, the little bulk inside Emily's clothes becomes a knot of manic tension, bolstered by the slight wave of unexpected energy that she now feels funneling into her.

What is that woman doing here? Here to visit some new punishment on her, or both of them— is that what is meant by 'fixing it?' From her confined position beneath the folds of the coat, her wings buzz tightly against the fabric, the sound once again muffled by her surroundings.

No, no.

"No shit you can fix this," Emily's brow draws in on itself tightly as she turns toward Eileen with a snap of her head. "You're the one who did it in the first place."

She isn't sure what's different about the way the other woman carries herself, and at the moment, she's too combative to care. "So will you? Finally? Has it finally fucking been long enough," she snaps, curbing her voice back down to a more hushed tone after it had climbed. "Or are you just here to check in?" Emily's frustration starts to deflate after that, becoming less certain. Did she really want to yell at the one person she knew who could set things right?


Eileen lowers her hand, letting it drift down to a more neutral position at her side. There's no flush of anger or indignation for Geneva to pick up, no defiance in the slight tilt of her chin or the shape her eyebrows make. They furrow instead, further softening what is still a very guarded expression.

She puts one foot in front of the other, moving toward Emily and Geneva's bedside the same way she might approach a wounded animal backed into a corner with its teeth flashing and bared. Her body language is somehow both cautious and decisive at the same time.

"I'm sorry it's taken this long," she tries, because her struggle to find the right words is real. "I'd have come sooner but I wasn't— right."

The noticeable differences in Eileen's mien and approach might have been picked up by a Geneva in a far calmer state. But this is not the case now. Her green-and-red head breaches the cover where she is nestled, and though her beady eyes are debilitated-looking, they are somehow still full of as much murder as she can muster. Raucous thoughts lance through her mind: not so much complete ideas as much as emotionally laden fragments. Stay back. Sibyl. Murderer. It's fucking over.

It is not clear who this last thought is meant to refer to; herself, or the new visitor. Gene's huddled stance is permeated with exhaustion, but it is belligerent in equal measure, and growing moreso with every step Eileen takes towards them.

The apology is neither expected, nor wanted, and both of those things are clear to see on Emily. She looks away to the bird protectively cupped in her hands, thumb brushing the hummingbird's chest. Gene getting upset stood to make her energy wane even faster. "If I'm being entirely honest," she starts flatly, and it sounds as though she intends to be nothing but. "I don't care."

"You took what I did out on Gene, who was no better than a bystander. You made your point abundantly clear. I suffered for it, she suffered for it." She doesn't look up, but she scoffs nonetheless, "Real fucking thuggish, if you ask me." Emily looks up slightly from the bird, but not quite to Eileen. Her shoulders drop. "If you're really sorry, then just fix this already."

There's a pause, before she adds more softly, her voice thin, "Please."

Eileen places a gloved hand on Geneva's chest, fingers splayed across her heart. It drubs against her open palm. Contrary to what Emily and Geneva believe, this isn't something she's done before.

But she knows how.

Her eyes close. She lets out the breath she wasn't aware she'd been holding until it's flooding out of her lungs. Like a seamstress running the thinnest possible length of thread between her fingers, she feels for the psychic connection that still links Geneva's consciousness to her body. It's tenuous, and weak — just as Geneva's heartbeat is. Frayed is the word she might use to describe it if asked to. Thankfully, Emily has only made two requests of her so far, and neither of them include divulging the details of what she's about to do.

She tugs on the thread with her ability, just so, and Geneva experiences a slight jolt. Then again: Harder.

The EKG machine spikes in response. One moment, Geneva is nestled in the warmth of Emily's palm. The next, she's bolting upright in her hospital bed.

As Eileen's palm comes to rest across the bedridden Geneva's heart, the hummingbird shudders as though she is the one being grasped, shrinking away even further into her makeshift shelter by way of pure instinct. Then, the experience become much more of an internal one; it is difficult for Gene to parse what is happening. To her, it feels like the rude intrusion of an outside sensation while dreaming, and yet managing to maintain a simultaneous awareness of both. The sensation is mercifully short, and after a lapse of blackness, she is awake.

In the proper body.


"What in the hell," the teenager sputters out, reaching a hand up and closing it gingerly around the top of her own throat. Words. It has been so long since she has had a voicebox capable of speech, that it feels utterly alien to her now. Her eyes flash towards Eileen in an expression containing too many emotions to voice, and the breath catches in her chest. "You."

Emily wonders at the shifting of the bird in her hand right as Geneva wakes up by her side, causing her to start with a note of surprise. She leans away, wide-eyed, too stunned by the rapid movement to process at first. It doesn't take long for it to hit her what's happened, and she lets out a gasp only a moment later. "Geneva!" she whispers, almost shrill.

Holy shit, she actually did it. Emily turns back to Eileen, brow lifted high.

"Okay," she acknowledges cautiously. To both of them. One miracle down now, she had a feeling it might take another for the girl in the hospital bed to not lunge. "We're good. Gene, we just… do like we said we would. Right?" No yelling, no doing anything to draw the attention of authorities.

There's relief in her gaze, but there certainly won't be any thank yous said right now.

The hummingbird cradled Emily’s hand grows still, stiff, its last flicker of life extinguished by the stress of the transition.

Eileen gives Geneva room; her shoulders draw back, and she takes one step lengthwise toward the foot of the bed rather than remain within striking distance. The tips of her gloved fingers skim the covers as she goes.

She looks in the direction of the door, half-expecting the nurse to hustle back inside while the EKG is still settling. When no one else appears on the other side of the glass, the Englishwoman adopts a more comfortable position near Geneva’s feet and sinks down onto the mattress.

She folds her hands in her lap.

You, Geneva had said.

Now Eileen answers the terse accusation with a gentler: “Me.” A beat. “Sort of.”

The sound of Emily's reminder in her ears makes Geneva tense a little, but she does not take her eyes off Eileen as the other woman changes her position. It is perhaps from a combination of these two factors that she does not launch herself at Eileen right then and there, but the visible tautness in her frame indicates that the thought has probably not entirely left her mind. She merely stares for a few moments, furiously working through the mental gymnastics of what to say.

"Why are you here? Did you finally think-" is the question that bursts out of her first, but she cuts off the second sentence abruptly. The urge to immediately follow up with something more vindictive is one that has to be swallowed, hard. Remember, remember, how unwise that would be.

Finally she lowers her voice even further, though the struggle on her face— and even in her breathing— to maintain this neutral composure is a real one. At last, she settles on a different tidbit to focus on. Her tone is a low growl, but it seems under control. Barely. "…What do you mean. Sort of."

A question Emily echoes as she looks back and forth between the two, her hands still cradled around the small bird. Her eyes are limned with suspicion for what that 'sort of' implies to the point she waits for a reply instead of immediately demanding Eileen leave and walk out of her life, as she'd planned.

She distracts herself for the moment by looking down at the hummingbird, thumb brushing its chest again to see if it reacts. It had grown so still.

She blinks a few times, things sliding out of focus for her as a different kind of suspicion holds her. Lee? she wonders, almost aloud. Emily's still listening, but also in the process of discovery. One that she'll find to be heartbreaking, especially in her already-wearied emotional state.

“You both risked your lives to protect mine,” Eileen says, mouth forming the ghost of a smile at the same time as her words, “at great personal cost.”

Her attention shifts to the lifeless hummingbird, drawn in by the subtle movement of Emily’s caressing thumb. There’s a temptation to reach out, to relieve the younger woman of that particular burden, yet her hands remain exactly where they are.

“Eileen Gray won’t hurt anyone again,” she clarifies, voice low, steady, “but if either of you are ever in need of help, ask a bird to find Eileen Ruskin — and I’ll be there.”

"That's bullshit, I didn't and wouldn't do anything to protect you—" Geneva cuts in semi-angrily as soon as there is a pause in Eileen's words, before her eyes widen and understanding begins to dawn in her face. It is incredulous at first. In her mind's eye, she sees it once again: Sibyl-with-strange-eyes, disoriented, lying in Emily's bed and spouting names she had never heard.

"It's… you." This is said in the space of an exhalation. "But… you were a babbling mess the last time I saw you. How? And what happened to her?"

"A month is a long time," Emily inputs quietly, her eyes still on the small form in her hands. She can hardly see the blob of color in her palm, and when she blinks hard, it's a lucky thing no tears spill free. She steels her spine as she turns to Eileen, judging her state quietly.

It had been Emily who had been the vocal advocate against entreating Sibyl — Eileen with undoing what had been done, because of that actual and perceived instability. From what they saw in her mindscape.

Her brow furrows as she considers what must've happened to cause this change. "Etienne?" she wonders, and then the angle of her brow deepens. No. Voice lightening to a whisper, Emily asks, "What did you do to her?"

Eileen’s next exhale is more of a sigh. She didn’t expect to go the remainder of this second chance at life without having to explain how she got here, and while two of the people most deserving of that explanation are in the same as her in this very moment, that doesn’t make it any easier.

So she starts at place where it makes the most sense: the beginning. “My body died on Pollepel, but the part of me that makes a person who they are survived, scattered apart and into the wind on the wings of the same birds that tore me apart.

“I was in pieces. Thousands of fragments of thought and memory. I don’t know how much time passed— how much time I lost. When I finally rearranged myself, it was all out of order and in a body that wasn’t mine. My hands were not my hands. My voice was not my voice. The doctors in the hospital called me Sibyl Black, and so Sibyl Black is who I became. I grew. I repressed. I forgot.”

Eileen studies her reflection the glass, wary. She’s still getting used to the look of her own face again, even if her native London accent has been fast to return. It tastes familiar in her mouth like a cherished childhood sweet.

“Avi found me at Saint Margaret’s a few years after that,” she continues. “A happy accident he didn’t know what to do with. I think it frightened him. I think I frightened him, but he gave me his name, kept me safe. Until he couldn’t.”

Emily’s father is a more difficult subject for Eileen than Pollepel Island. Her voice wavers very much against her will. “That man is as much my family as the Vanguard ever was, dysfunctions and all. Emily understands how difficult and wonderful he is to love.”

She reaches up, absently touching her fingers to the corner of her eye without realizing she’s ever lifted her hand. “I’d been feeling more like myself for a long time. There were things of mine I found on Staten Island. Leonardo Maxwell. Odessa. John Logan. Eve. Etienne— The last time I saw you both, it was coming back, really coming back, but I was still out of order, with no frame of reference or sense of place or time belonging to who I really was. Sibyl made sense. Eileen didn’t.”

She flexes her fingers in front of her face, leather gloves creaking. “And he fixed it, because that’s what Gabriel does. My hands are my hands again. My voice is my voice. I don’t know how to explain what we did to the Eileen you knew, only that she’s gone. Destroyed. If there’s anything left of her, it’s only the faintest of echoes.”

Her story’s conclusion is more of an admission, spoken in a tone usually reserved for secrets kept between lovers: “The conduit is so much louder.”

For her part, Gene listens to Eileen's tale intently, idly kneading a small section of her blanket beneath her fingertips. Her gaze remains intense, searching, perhaps, for all the truth that she can glean from this offered opportunity. The news of the fate of the other Eileen is what elicits a physical reaction from her first, her lip curling with a derision that she cannot keep from containing notes of satisfaction. "…Well, I can't say I'm sorry to hear that. No offense, but alternate-you was kind of a bitch." Teensy bit.

The rest of it is not so easy to parse. "So, you were there inside her all along." This is said in little more than a breath as she continues onwards. "Was there ever a Sibyl to begin with? Or has it always been just… you?"

The most important question, as far as Gene is concerned. What had all the trouble she had undergone for the child actually been worth?

The mention of her father dries Emily's eyes, her head turning back as she listens. This was the story she'd meant to ask Sibyl about. The small glimpse is enough. It's validating in its own way; the confirmation about the strength of the bond between Epstein and Ruskin. Even if she's not sure she understands what it means to love her father, not in a way that didn't sound tortured. 'Difficult' was such a polite word to describe it, she supposed.

"He's been worried about you," she says regardless. "Not knowing what happened to you sounded like it was tearing him apart."

When the fate of Eileen Gray is brought up though, Emily's brow slacks, distance in her gaze. So what she feared would happen is exactly what came to pass.

She doesn't know how she feels about that. It's, surprisingly enough, another type of grief; a complicated knot she sets aside to address later when she's better able to confront it.

Focusing instead on the moment, on the rest of the revelations, her shoulders begin to lose their tension. She looks neither at Geneva nor Eileen now, nor at the monitor her gaze lingers closest to. "The conduit," Emily echoes back. "What is it? It's not an ability, is it. Not exactly." She finds Geneva's question just as valid, but… she'd rather look forward. "I don't understand what it is, how it works. How it changed me." There's a pause, brief. "Julie … she looked like she'd seen a ghost when I mentioned it."

An eyebrow quirks. "Are there more colors?" She's only half-serious.

Eileen’s hand, still extended, appears to ripple with dark energy, causing the fine hairs on Emily and Geneva’s arms to stand on end. The overhead lights flicker, gutter out, then come back on again.

But that’s all.

“Best to think of them as inseparable on contradictory opposites,” she says, “like the sun and the moon, or changing seasons. The white conduit is spring and summer. Black is fall, winter. One runs cold. The other hot. Both are a part of a larger system: forces that make the universe go.”

She drops her hand, allowing it to settle loose against the inside of her thigh. “Nathalie rebalanced you,” she tells Emily, “using one, or the other — or both. She isn’t like me. She’s special.”

Geneva’s question has that hand curling back into a fist, although it does not move from its last position. “If there was ever a real Sibyl Black,” she says, “then she died a long time ago, with her family, during the war. That body is a psychic well.”

Geneva's breath catches as the lights briefly die and return to life, though she is not nearly as astonished as she could be— a certain seer had made sure of this. The ripples were mesmerizing, however. It is with reluctance that she rips her gaze away from Eileen's hand, and her attention flits fully over to Emily for the first time in this conversation.

“Rebalanced? What happened? Is this how you were…" …Healed? Is the final unspoken word. Gene had never explicitly asked before. One eyebrow is raised with an earnest and heightened curiosity.

The revelation about Sibyl causes her to fall still for an extra moment, pondering on this. "I'm glad," she says at last, still absently twisting the bedding between her fingers. "That… makes it less complicated. In a way, I suppose. I'm sorry you had to go through that." This sounds unexpectedly sincere, especially now that her reasons to worry about a trapped ‘child’ are being dismantled by the previous train of thought.

Emily nods, just barely. The trailed-off question causes her to look back at Geneva both as an answer and to watch her reaction to it all perhaps to model her own after it. Her attention slowly swivels back to Eileen, her font of curiosity not exactly extinguished, at least as far as the conduit goes.

"The fuck do we do now?" she whispers more to herself than anyone else. At a more conversational tone, she quietly asks, "What happens from here? Do you just slide in where she left off and everything stays the same?" Does she still work for Eileen is sort of implied there. "Have you talked to my dad? Do you even want to?"

Her brow furrows the more she thinks about it. "He's got pretty strong feelings about Eileen Gray. I don't know how he'd take all this."

Emily's gaze goes unfocused and she's looking off toward nothing again. "But if you want, I can try to talk to him." The suggestion is put forward without reluctance, but distance all the same. She rationalizes this development as good news, at least from his position. Something he'd want to hear. Maybe it would make her feel a little less hollow too, seeing something positive happen finally.

Assuming he took the news well.

“No,” Eileen murmurs to Geneva, “I’m the one who should be sorry for what you went through. A hummer, of all things. She wanted you to feel small. Helpless.”

Her other hand, also gloved, reaches out to touch Geneva’s calf through the bedcovers and give it an affirming, thankful squeeze. With that, she rises from the mattress.

“I haven’t talked to him yet,” she confesses, bringing the topic of their conversation back around to the Epstein not in the room. “I don’t really know what I could say. It isn’t just Gray that he’s struggling with— it’s the conduit. Volken. Those implications. But I suppose I ought to try.”

She checks the buttons of her coat one at a time, ensuring that they’re firmly fastened. “I’ll pick up where she left off. There’s something dangerous in the air now. A promise of change and violence. My birds feel it. The conduit feels it. Whatever it is Richard birthed into this world…”

Helpless. The small lump that forms in Gene's throat is the only indication of how completely successful the experiment had been. She swallows it back down harshly, even as Eileen stands. There is an unnerved bitterness inside her that will not be cured for a long, long time.

"Where will you go now?" she asks, watching Eileen as she examines her coat buttons. Many questions had been answered, but there are still some that remain. Emily gets a short, sideways, questioning look. "Dare I even ask what the hell Richard's gotten himself into?"

"What the fuck has he done now?" Emily echoes harshly, in the same set of tones she'd first addressed Eileen with. Anger surges, breaking through the mess of heavier emotions that weigh on her.

Clearly, whatever he's done, it's ill-advised as well as unforgiveable — and she doesn't even know what it is yet.

"You still have my number, I'm sure. If you need anything in the Safe Zone, reach out." The firmly-spoken offer is completely the opposite of what Emily would have said a half-hour prior, driven by revelation and spite. "You have my help, especially if it includes the opportunity to punch him in the face."

A beat later, she adds in a lower tone, "…And thank you. For making things right."

She looks back toward Geneva, relief from earlier now outpouring in her expression. Emily reaches out for one of her friend's hands, holding on tightly.

“Try not to punch anyone in the face for me,” Eileen suggests, maybe a little sly, “but if you really want to help, I need someone to find Magnes Varlane and tell him his daughter is safe.” She adjusts her coat’s collar, turning it up to protect her neck and chin from the buffeting winds outside. “I can have her returned to him if he’s willing to be patient. The situation back in Providence is complicated, and it’s going to take time for me to get the buy-in from the people who matter. That includes Addie.”

She touches her hand to the side of Emily’s face in a rare and fleeting display of affection as she brushes past her on her way toward the door. “The fewer people who know I am who I am, the better. I won’t accomplish anything if Ramirez and the others find out, but I trust your judgement.

“Both of you.”

She’s gone then, reduced to retreating footsteps and the same hushed rasp of glass and metal that heralded her arrival in the first place.

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