Questionable Choices


emily_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Also featuring:


Scene Title Questionable Choices
Synopsis Zachery's full of them, but so is Emily. Between them both, they somehow manage to get cleaned up after being jumped near Brooklyn College.
Date November 15, 2019


Elmhurst Hospital is a familiar environment for Zachery. The emergency room, not quite so much. He's not even really sure he remembers what it looks like.

He pushes in through one of the large doors, shoulder first, baseball bat still in hand. "Come on," a comment meant for Emily, who trails behind him with both hands around her phone, fingers tapping away at the screen, murmuring something in Teenager when she almost lets the door smack her in the face on the way in.

When Zachery arrives at the check-in, there is not only no one else in the waiting area, there is also no one there for him to speak to. "Oh, for fuck's…" What's left of his Surrey accent accent shines a little brighter in these moments, even when the rest of him looks dour enough to be at home in a storm drain. A fist comes up for him to bang meatily at the window that separates patient area from administration.

The tinny, faraway voice of a young man rings out from somewhere out of view. "I'll be right there, just a moment." When he rounds the corner to see Zachery's face, covered in blood, he startles. "Hello sir, my goodness-"

"Hello," Zachery cuts him off, grimly, "yes, I am here for…" he wrinkles his nose - broken, but evidently not hurting that much. Maybe the more he breaks it, the less noteworthy it becomes. "I'm dropping off my… daauughter," he hears himself say, eyes narrowing. "She was… mugged? —Yes. Bye."

"Alright!" Says the young man. Zachery takes a deep breath, steps back, and turns to leave. Easy peasy, right? Only to find Emily there, looking up at him with a look of frustration. Her neck bleeding, red handprint on her sleeve. He reaches for her shoulder, pushes her closer to where he was just standing, before continuing toward the exit.

"Where are you going? Zachery?" Emily tries, sounding too far away already.


A rough shake to his shoulder. Emily tries again, more urgent this time.


Startling awake with a choked gurgle of dried blood and saliva, Zachery blinks. He's half sprawled across the back seat of a car, baseball bat dropping from where it was clutched in his arms to - THUNK - against the inside of the door.

His attempt to try and get Emily into focus is a graceless affair - the bridge of his nose is now swollen, and even a squint to try and figure out what's going on is enough to have him breathe out a sound of unexpected pain. Likely for the same reason his still functional eyeball now sits in the middle of slowly darkening skin. Blood vessels are inconvenient sometimes.

"I'm-" He coughs, voice strained as he jams an elbow back to push himself in a more upright position. "I'm awake, jesus. Couldn't- couldn't've just… been easy, could it."

That pisses her off. Her shake becomes a hard shove, which she cringes at, given it engages muscles which have only begun to bruise. She takes in a hiss of breath, a note of discomfort disguised in it. "Sorry I don't want you to die in your fucking sleep from a fucking concussion."

A package of tissues in Emily's bag of wonders had helped to help clean up blood that had already spilled, and theoretically stymie new flow from getting all over the car. (She'd been told by their irritated driver she'd be paying for that if the backseat became stained with blood over their journey.) (He gives them a hard look in the rearview now at her comments, muttering something darkly about people who don't just call a goddamned ambulance.) (He can shove the comments, as far as Emily's concerned, given the additional bills already tossed into his lap to make up for the inconvenience of bleeding passengers.) (Anyway.)

The tissues only worked if you applied them, though. The red-soaked bundle falling from Zachery's hand had been a key indicator he'd slipped out of consciousness.

"What the fuck were you thinking?" she whispers in frustration, like the quiet of it might prevent him from actually hearing it in this otherwise silent sedan.

The shove jostles Zachery more than he might expect it to, and it's only after he's righted himself again that he notices the tissues in his hand, staring down at them for a few seconds. Oh. "I was…" He starts in a mutter, before pointing his attention to whatever's out the window as if to try and determine how long he was out for.

All too cheerfully, if a little stuffy, he finally answers, "I was thinking a nap might be nice. And I was right."

Emily really wants to fucking hit him again, and she nearly does. It's not him she lashes out at, though. With the same arm she'd shoved him with, she punches the headrest of the passenger seat. The car swerves, the driver yelling. "'Ey, 'ey!"

"You idiot, I mean why did you stay?" she demands to know, grateful her voice doesn't break. She ignores the poor driver as the car steadies out and the man visibly considers throwing them out right on the curb. (But his 5-star rating, though.) "Why did you help me?"

Wincing finally at the hurt and the strain, she settles back into her seat and lets up on the pressure on her neck to check the tissue ball pressed there. Frowning at what she sees of it out the corner of her eye, she goes right back to putting pressure on the cut, in that way that unintentionally aggravates it that she's already been told off for once.

"You get two options," Emily mutters flatly, trying to leave little room for negotiation. "You either tell me why you stayed, or tell me where you've been."

That's fair, right?

"Oooh, she's giving me choices now," Zachery answers with the feigned cheer still on his voice, having abruptly turned to face Emily at the noise of the punch. "Alright." The swerve has sent him slumping against his seat again. He runs his tongue over his teeth and sniffs - which, decidedly, does not clear his airways in the least.

When they're moving more steadily again, he turns his attention on what he can see of the driver. The blood from his nose seems to have stopped by now, which leaves him free to fish around for the bat at his legs. "I left - because I had a job to do. In Providence. I thought I might not be back, because I broke a law or two or three concerning Raytech - and concerning human decency, honestly - so I skipped town a while." Eye still on the driver, he pulls the bat to stand it up between his knees, fingers wrapping around its grip. "Turns out, Richard Ray is either an idiot, or a lot less willing to play the part of the good guy than I thought he might be. Or, third option, the world just doesn't care anymore."

His attention is turned back on Emily with eyebrows raised, lopsided grin creeping back onto his face. Almost without pause, he adds, "Would you like the other answer, too?"

He had a job in Providence? Emily keeps Zachery in the corner of her eye, skeptical as wary of that news. He had a good job with Raytech. Why fuck that up? Were the two things related, one job to the other? Absently, she recalls it's been months since she's heard anything from Eileen.

"He knows a thing or two about being selfish and not thinking about how his actions will affect other people aside from getting what he wants— maybe he's empathetic to your mistakes." The observation is made almost offhandedly, quieter than she had been. She clears her throat, mindful to not cough or do anything else noisy that would potentially jeopardize their warm ride north. Their driver was likely looking for any excuse he could get, now.

That almost-shit-eating grin earns him another glance. "Two bouts of unbridled sincerity in one day? Say it isn't so." The flatness of her tone is countered by how she continues to look at him, patient in the way her gaze indicates yes, please, I'd rather like to know.

Though his grin stays, Zachery looks ill-inclined to talk more on the subject of Raytech and all that comes with it, if his head dipping and his fingers rapping an idle, impatient rhythm on the bat is any indication.

"I'm sincere." Said plainly, in a way that implies the variable 'always' should be part of that equation. Not taking his eye off of Emily, he leans back in his seat, and drops the bloodied tissue down onto the floor so he can make as sweeping a gesture as he can, being that they're in a confined space, "Take, for example, what happened back there. Someone fucking jumped you, Emily. They could've killed you!"

Though anger pulls strongly at his words, acrid through and through, his grin only grows wider as he bounces the bat upwards, catching it midway and shoving it closer to Emily in what little space they share, as if she needs a closer look. "That?! That was about as sincere as I fucking get! I'm done running, Emily, I'm done pretending that if—" he pauses, coughing, then clearing his throat and continuing after an uneasy inhale and what looks like a suppressed laugh, "… That if I move far enough away from my problems, I can find a reset button and go back to what I wanted, clean and pristine. Because what I wanted? It doesn't fucking matter, does it. It's irrelevant! What doesn't happen here will happen somewhere else, so if I have a choice? I stay. I stay and I bite back, until either I or what's biting me is missing too many chunks to keep tearing."

The answer does sound sincere, Emily will concede. But it sounds like it was more than just what they had faced. An answer that wasn't really an answer, despite saying plenty. "It just…" she tries to explain, the rest of the sentence leaving her in the form of a thin breath. She sniffs to clear her nose, her turn to avoid looking in the cab by watching the scenery outside.

"It was selfless of you," she confides that observation, leaning her arm against the car door. Radically selfless, even, for a man who'd accidentally on purpose let one of his friends almost die.

Even if her situation was being used as an entirely selfish metaphor for problems in his own life.

"Facing up to your problems is good." Emily asides. "Running from them just invites them to chase you to places you'd rather them not be in the first place. Places they wouldn't be had you just … dealt with it in the first place."

She gets an ominous feeling that gnaws at the pit of her stomach, down nearly at the base of her spine. That feeling she gets when she's giving advice she ought to take herself. Her brow twitches and she removes the tissue to look at it again. It falls to her lap as she tears three more from the nearly empty tissue pack, balling them up and covering her wound again.

It dawns on her she has no idea how to explain what happened to anyone except Julie. Julie, she could be honest with. Somehow… she got the feeling even with Devon she couldn't end up explaining it outright. And if she didn't think she could tell him because she'd rather cover up the event much like she was covering up the wound, what would she say to the police? Her coworkers?

Zachery was right. She couldn't just run from this and expect everything to reset and be better. It would bleed through, no matter how admirably she tried to hide it.

"… I'm scared of what happens now." Emily says, because it feels pertinent to say, because she acknowledges she's getting trapped in her own thoughts. "I'm— I should report this. But I'm scared what happens after."

She takes in a breath, leaving unsaid Because they can't just get away with that. either because it's obvious, or because it was intimidating to face.

Something in Emily's words steals some of Zachery grin away. Yet, no immediate argument comes - maybe he's too busy catching his breath, focusing on not showing the pain he's feeling, or maybe just trying not to feel, period.

He's quiet for a while, having lowered the bat to rest it against a knee again. When Emily goes quiet, he stares at her and opens his mouth to answer, but… closes it again, swallowing back what his response might have been, along with the rest of his grin. His eyebrows twitch, drawing closer to one another on his bruised and swollen face.

Silence overtakes for a moment.

When Zachery finally does speak up again, it's much quieter, tone pulled to a more neutral determination. "Come here." He shifts his weight, letting his fingers slip from the bat so he can reach for Emily's face and neck. One hand to grab at the tissue she's holding, and one to press fingertips lightly against her jawline, trying to guide her head forward. "Put your face down a little, you're just opening it back up."

The silence, maybe, is an answer all its own. Maybe Emily should be afraid. Maybe the response will be unpredictable, or on the whole negative. Maybe that's what he means, in the lack of any spoken assurances.

With it all going unspoken, who knows.

Emily blinks out of her reverie when he does finally speak, head turning out of habit. At first, she doesn't understand, in fact leaning away slightly. His reaching apparently for her hand brings her to drop the tissue entirely, only for it to be replaced a second later. When hand and word urges her to change the angle her head is at, a nod is stammered out before she complies, chin tucking. Her gaze averts, hand half-lifting before it falls, uncertain what to do. It lasts only a moment.

"I got it," she mutters, half-annoyed as fingers rise again to keep applying pressure, nudging his out of the way. "Thanks."

A beat passes before Emily glances back at Zachery again. Dry, deadpan humor escapes her. "I guess if something fucking awful like that were to have to happen, at least there was a doctor nearby." She looks off again. "Who knows what would have happened if you hadn't been there."

It's not the most direct way of saying thank you, but it's all she's got in this moment.

"I've worked with corpses more cooperative." Zachery settles back in his seat, shoulders sagging as he rests his head back and lets his eyelids fall again. Not that he needs to look at Emily to keep a proverbial eye on her, either way.

After clearing his throat once more, he adds, "You'll be fine." His voice is barely audible above the hum of the vehicle. "You'll do your part, and you'll be scared, and you'll be fine."

"Bravery is not the absence of fear," Emily misquotes quietly in reply. A soft note follows, agreeing with him.

The sheer softness of his voice brings her nearly to nudge his shoulder again, worried he'll drift off. Her free hand stays, though, and instead she opts to keep a close eye on him, minding the way his chest rises and falls with his breathing. With the roughness of the road through some intersections, she imagines he'd be hard-pressed to fall asleep again anyway.

Besides, it wasn't much further now.



Juliette Fournier-Raith’s Apartment

What the fuck!?

This is Zachery’s introduction to Emily’s cousin, who looks enough like her to be mistaken for a sister. The slightly older blonde is notably shorter but equally short of temper. Droplets of blood mark a drizzled trail from her front door through the living room and to the bathroom where Zachery now sits in dignified scrutiny on the closed toilet, back slouched and forearms draped over his legs.

Julie stands on socked toes, one hand gently around Zachery’s throat the other at the side of his face, trying to inspect the injury. “That’s a rhetorical question, because I can see what,” Julie gingerly jerks Zachery’s head to the side, “and I’m starting to understand the fuck,” she adds with a look at Emily.

“But I want to know where you get off bringing someone to my apartment for this,” Julie continues to lecture Emily as she has for the last seven minutes. “Were you followed? By the cops?

"Take me on a date first, would you."

Zachery, if nothing else, looks entertained. To his credit, he's sitting still, between unpredicted winces and a strained chuckle as his head is moved. A momentary look of distraction is whisked away by a failed inhale through his nose, followed by a hard swallow. Last time he broke his nose, at least the brunt of the pain was taken care of while he was out cold in the operating room getting the aftermath of his carved out eye looked at.

No such luck this time.

And as he sits there, trying to get a look at Julie's face with the one eye he's got left, he winces for another reason altogether and adds in the flattest possible way, "Actually, I take that back, you are — so young. But I will still take a drink if you have it."

If there are any answers to be had, they will apparently have to come from Emily. Meanwhile, he'll help himself to some extra information about Julie, through the hand currently on his neck, gathering physical details in much the same way someone might plunge both hands into the candy bowl at an otherwise abandoned reception desk.

Leaving her hand hanging off the side of her neck has been a stress tic in Emily for as long as she's known to be self-conscious about it, and it's out in full force currently. Her hand is constantly up, the feel of the gauze bandaged to her neck itself as much as a draw as confirming the cut on her neck is still covered, isn't bleeding through. She's been pacing the hall and living room while Julie corners Zachery in the bathroom, trying to avoid lingering too long to either become a nuisance or become fixated on whatever her room has transformed into in her absence.

She's on a pass back in the hall by the bedrooms and bath when Julie shoots her that look, her pace halting with a furrow of her brow.

"Unless the cab driver called them and pointed them this way, no," she replies cooler than intended. Something in the subtext of Julie's tone didn't sit right with her. "Because I sure didn't call them, and last we saw, the fucks who jumped me were more worried about taking care of their own. Zachery beat one of them with his own bat so badly he was internally bleeding…" Emily's gaze shifts to Zachery. "… so— I think they were a little preoccupied."

There's barely a space before she gets around to reacting belatedly to what got under her skin in what Julie said, her head whiplashing back to her direction. "And for the record, I'm not trying to get off anywhere," Emily snaps, double entendre intended, thank you. "A student at the college I fucking go to followed me from campus with her friends and had— at the very least intentions with a baseball bat, a knife, and a whole lot of fucking loathing for anything Slice. And instead of going anywhere else I came to you, because I trust you, because I love you and thought you over anyone else would be able to help right now, Julie." Her hand stays glued to the side of her neck. "I'm sorry if this is a fucking inconvenience, but it wasn't like I—"

Expected this? Because maybe she should have, Emily thinks to herself, the invasive thought cutting off anything else she might say.

Julie stops what she’s doing, closing her eyes and exhaling a sigh that deflates the tension in her shoulders. “I’m sorry it’s just been… a lot lately.” A lot of absolutely nothing she’d bothered talking to Emily about, as it so happens. “After the thing with the bird, Geneva,” she bounces around topics, “I just expected this to be more…” She doesn’t say criminal, but it’s implied.

“Because you didn’t go to a hospital,” Julie says as she lets go of Zachery and turns for the cabinet below the sink, “to report a hate crime.” There’s a little rummaging, ending with Julie standing up holding a vintage 1950s metal first aid kit case, green and white with a bright red cross on the top. It looks like something from an antique store. She sets it down on the side of the sink, undoing the metal latches, revealing much more modern first-aid supplies stashed within.

“I get that you trust me,” Julie says in a tone that is a little flat, as if she isn’t sure herself why anyone would. It’s a hint of self-doubt Emily isn’t entirely familiar with. Moreover, it makes her wonder the exact date of the last time they caught up. More than in brief text messages. When was the last time their schedules intersected?

“But there’s police these days,” Julie continues, pawing through the kit, taking out disinfectant, needle, thread, an unmarked bottle of pills. There’s a pack of cigarettes in there, certainly not medicinal. They stay in the kit. “The hospital is a couple blocks away,” she adds before taking out a sterile pad and applying disinfectant to it. “Unless this is your way of introducing me to other men,” is added belatedly, jokingly, and is the first time in all of this she’s managed even part of a smile. Zachery’s protest about her youth disregarded.

"I've worked for both the police and the hospital," Zachery notes like anyone remotely asked him, expression somewhere between grin and idle sneer, "and neither of them quite seem to nail the follow-through. Oh, sure, they've got nice words, but nice words won't get you a homerun, will they."

Which seems to remind him. Doing a very poor job at holding still, he leans sideways on the closed toilet to try and locate the baseball bat that was ruthlessly taken from him upon entering the apartment.

Emily's look blanks when Julie makes her pass. On one hand— yes, dear god, she should see anyone else aside from Sasha. And on the other hand, glancing back to Zachery—

Okay, maybe not anyone, but nearly anyone.

So her offhanded, "Yes, absolutely." comes off a little flat, even as a joke. Emily's shoulders lose some of their tension, sloping as she lets out a sigh of her own. There's not a lot of room to spare in the crowded bathroom in the first place, but she slides her way in, sitting on the sink, back curled into the wall to eliminate distance while still providing some, at once seeking attention and shunning it.

She knew things would change once she moved out, even more than they already had when Emily disappeared and then the episode with Sibyl and then the aforementioned bird happened. Emily hadn't made it easy on her even before she came home in a fit of frustration in April and said she needed to move out to prove a point to her mother.

None of that changes how she suddenly regrets that distance, how little she knows about how Julie has been doing lately.

"I was scared," Emily mutters, watching Julie work out of the corner of her eye. Still scared is a very real possibility. With a lift of levity in her voice, she adds, "and I didn't know how long the wait in Emergency would be."

“And you didn’t call your dad,” Julie says next with a look to the side of Emily’s neck where the makeshift bandage is pressed. “Switch places,” she casually adds, pulling out medical sutures, a pair of pliers, and a very curved needle. “Your friend’s got a broken nose, I don’t think there’s any serious bleeding. He’s going to look like a wreck in the morning, I’ve got some ibuprofen in that basket on the back of the toilet,” she says with a casual wave over her shoulder.

“A broken nose is less likely to cause an infection,” Julie is quick to add, turning her back to the supplies she’s taken out of her first-aid kit, fixing a look on Emily. Julie breathes in deeply through her nose, then exhales a sigh through it and closes her eyes. “I wish you’d stayed here.”

Emily sits up straighter at the mention of her father, caught off guard by it. Maybe it shouldn't be surprising, but it is, coming from Julie of all people. Her brow draws together in offense, retort half-formed before Julie steamrolls right on and encourages them to swap spots.

The words are expelled as an exasperated breath, Emily looking away rather than at Julie. The needle is less intimidating than the thought that she should find some kind of reply. But then as she's maneuvering to swap seats with Zachery, Julie hits her again.

She sits down in a slump, gaze averted in guilt. An apology would fix nothing, so she doesn't waste time on the empty gesture. But the lack of having anything to say drives a hurt in her just as much as the initial comment. If she doesn't fill the space, it'll just get worse. "I wish you'd pick up your phone more often," Emily murmurs, daring a glance back at her cousin. "I miss you, you know."

Once he's up, Zachery wastes no time moving out of the bathroom, lingering nearby with a continued peek into adjacent rooms, leaning around a doorway before popping back into view. Where is. That bat.

"Hey, I don't - mean to… interrupt this lovely thanksgiving-gone-wrong flavoured conversation," he pipes up, chin lifting as he takes a few steps backwards and turns his one eye back on Julie, "but before I head out, I've got a few questions about how very, very, fascinatingly strange your whole… body situation is? You know," He juts an elbow out to crack another door open, sticking his head in. Bat here? "Physically."

“I’m seeing someone,” is Julie’s ever-suffering answer as she begins peeling the bandage off the side of Emily’s neck.

Thank god Julie didn't have the needle already in hand. Emily freezes anyway. Jesus fucking Christ, Zachery. Her eyes swivel to him, daring him to clarify. Possibly in a don't you actually dare sense.

… most likely entirely in that sense.

Zachery's gaze meets Emily's. If he mulls the possibility of a warning over at all, he does so very quickly because when he looks back to Julie, the next words out of his mouth are, "Yes, and I'm seeing you. Next Friday?"

He takes another step back, then rattles quickly off in the same breath— "I'm fucking with you. Your nervous system's all wrong, you know that, right? I guess I can't see it so much as, you know. Intuit. Without being intuit." Get it. Into it. "A-HA." Rounding a corner, he finally finds what he's looking for, plucks his bat up off the floor and wiggles it toward Julie with a still swollen-faced grin. There's what he was looking for. Ta.

Bloody bandage still in hand, Julie squints one of her eyes nearly closed as her brow over the other eye twitches just so. She blinks a sharp look over to Zachery, then flings the used bandage into the adjacent trash bin with a slap without breaking that eye contact. “I wondered if you could tell that,” she says flatly, looking back to Emily and pressing thumb and forefinger on the tender flesh adjacent to the wound.

“My nervous system is perfectly fine,” Julie goes on to say with a clinical detachment, making a soft sound in the back of her throat as she considers Emily’s injury. She turns back for the sink, picking up the gauze pad and daubing it with disinfectant before returning to wipe Emily’s wound clean with stinging attention. “It’s just that I’m suffering from something akin to phantom limb syndrome.”

Emily hasn’t really ever heard Julie talk about her sister, let alone in this sort of manner. More distressingly, through the discomfort of the wound cleaning, is Julie’s level of technical distance from the emotional weight of her own predicament. “Does your ability tell you that I’m Expressive?” Julie asks of Zachery as she stops cleaning the wound, giving it a final inspection before moving on.

Staying put is a bit of an effort, given Emily's inclined to spend her energy doing anything else with the way Zachery is carrying on. She manages to bite her tongue, metaphorically, though it's a thing that nearly happens when Julie sets in on cleaning the wound on her neck. To her credit, she keeps still save for a displeased hiss of air escaping her, eyes narrowing in the direction of the shower curtain rings. Ow.

Shit. Ow. And now she was going to sew skin back together. And that was going to be just as pleasant, physically and mentally. Yes, let's get another sharp, stab-capable object applied directly to the neck.

Emily's eyes flutter closed, expression tense as she works through a calming breath, trying to not focus on those invasive, anxiety-climbing thoughts. Just grin and bear it, Epstein. You were the one who didn't want to go to the hospital, that means you don't get hospital amenities, like the possibility of numbing before the stitches. Julie's comments are an external point to focus on, honed in on and examined like a Rubik's cube. If she's lucky, maybe the conversation continues, and perhaps not at a cringeworthy canter.

It's likely only one of those two things will happen, though.

Fascinating. Though leaning back slightly and toward the door leading out of the aparment, showing all signs of wanting to get the fuck out of here, Zachery— stands still, bat still dangling down at his side. "… Not as of yet." His reply comes after a short pause, confidence drained from his voice. Maybe he'll be a billionaire one day, too.

He really should have taken those painkillers instead of rushing past them. Piqued curiosity on his face or no, the discomfort of the swelling is more evident. He reaches up, placing fingers gingerly on the bridge of his nose without taking his eye off of Julie. "Go on, then. What do you do, when you're not personally carrying the financial weight of the tobacco industry."

Then, without pause, his fingers press down against either side of his nose and with the teeny tiniest crack, he snaps something into place with a sharp inhale and a look that can only be described as instant and utter regret.

Today is the day Zachery learns his tear ducts on both sides are A-OK, expression frozen on a blank face of Mistake.

Julie’s grimace is palpable as she watches Zachery. Giving him a moment to comport himself, Julie says nothing and gives no sign of start when she deftly slides that hooked needle through the flesh of Emily’s neck save for a short hiss of, “Don’t move.” It is far more unpleasant than she’d imagined, dulled only by adrenaline and the shock of her extant neck wound. Julie is, mercifully, quick with the entire procedure, but it is nevertheless going to take a solid minute to perform.

“What I can do and what I could do are two separate things,” Julie explains to give both of them something else to focus on. “My mother was a replicator, self-cloning. A side effect of using her ability while pregnant resulted in the birth of twins.” Julie speaks of her sister with a clinical detachment, as though reading about it from a medical journal. “My sister and I were linked, telepathically. We were mosaics, if you’re familiar with the term. We could replicate abilities we had come into contact with, then share them back and forth between one-another.”

Julie looks briefly away from Emily’s neck to Zachery, then back again as she continues sewing the wound shut. “When she died, I lost that link, those abilities. She’s… like a phantom limb. I’m always reaching out for her.” As she says that, Julie reaches for a pair of scissors and cuts something near Emily’s neck. “All I can do now is… feel people with abilities, get a general sense of what it is they can do.” She sets the scissors down on the back of the toilet and takes a step back from Emily, looking at her work.

“You’re done,” Julie says, handing her a sterile wipe to clean the blood off.

"Fuck." Emily kept it together until this point, all grit teeth and minimal squirming, but she practically shouts once she's metaphorically freed to do so. She, too, is a picture of regret throughout the process. It only makes her feel a little better to hear Zachery suffering, too, in a dark-humor sort of way. Her hand had hovered off to her side the whole time, squeezed into a fist and splayed open as far as possible at equal odds, and she takes ahold of the wipe grateful for something to dig her nails into aside from her palm. With especial care she gingerly touches the side of her neck, prodding closer to the sewed skin. "God…" is the only clear thing that comes from her in a string of profane mutters.

She stands quickly to turn around and look at it in the mirror, each breath still liable to turn into a pained hiss. Tenderly, she wipes closer to the wound now that she can see what she's doing. In the middle of it, she catches Julie in the reflection, her sharply knit brow softening in its arch. "I'm sorry," she asides in a mutter. "It's bad enough we barged in making a mess, we shouldn't—" A sharp look over to Zachery in the mirror. "be prying on top of it all."

Not only does Zachery give no immediate answer - too busy gritting his teeth and swiping a knuckle past some errant moisture near his eyes - something pulls his shoulders forward about what he hears in response to his question. Slowly, it draws his gaze elsewhere down the hallway, distracted by some thought or memory. When the word 'mosaic' and the explanation follows, he barely even looks like he's registering the words.

But then, there's Emily. When she pipes up and moves from her spot, his grip on the bat loosens to where it slips down and comes to rest its bluntest end down on the floor with a woody thnk. He catches the glance in his direction, but offers little else but a blank stare.

"I'm sorry." Unlike Emily's, his repetition of the words do not sound like an apology, but carry more of a sympathetic weight. Then, with a soft scrape of the lowered bat following in an arc across the floor, he turns on a heel and heads for the front door. "I've got to go."

“Sounds like a lot of the men I've known,” Julie admits with a slow roll of her eyes, followed by a look from Zachery to Emily, inspecting the stitches now that Emily is moving around again. Instead of taking the apology, Julie rummages through her First Aid kit and pulls out an orange bottle of pills and pushes them with a rattle into Emily’s hand.

“Codeine,” Julie says flatly, “mostly for your idiot friend. But take one with a meal if your neck starts hurting. Go to the fucking hospital if it gets infected.” There can't be more than four or five pills in the bottle. Julie glances after Zachery, then back to Emily with a nod in the former’s direction.

“Go on,” Julie says quietly, the transactional nature of this moment in their relationship having met its natural end.

In the moment, go on sounds an awful lot like get out, but Emily isn't sure if that's just her projecting. She closes her hand around the bottle just enough so it doesn't clatter to the sink. Whatever the pills are meant to represent, if they're allegorical at all, she rather strongly rejects them. They are, in her mind, the get out.

So she lobs them in Zachery's direction since he's so eager to leave. And then she stays affixed to her spot, save to throw away the orangeish-tinged wipe properly in the trash.

She's not ready to go, not if it means leaving on this foot. To Emily, it would feel like spreading black powder all over the bridge of their relationship.

There's a noise of pills hitting fabric and then rolling over the floor. Zachery's footsteps slow, and then stop. There's a pop of pill bottle being opened, followed shortly by the door opening and then clicking shut again.

And he's gone, opiate souvenir and all.

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