Same But Different


bf_emily_icon.gif emily_icon.gif

Scene Title Same But Different
Synopsis Emily Raith experiences one of those visions that people have been talking about, granted a glimpse into the December of one Emily … Epstein.
Date January 4, 2019

The city streets of a brighter future

"God, you've got to be kidding me." Emily's brow is pulled into a half-amused furrow. Her hair is pulled back into a tight bun, but as she tilts her head, strands fall loose over her face. A bark of laughter escapes her as she considers the situation again. She huffs as she looks back where she's going, just shaking her head. "Jesus, Joe…"

It had been a while since they'd seen each other, but it always was an experience when they finally did. Like no time had passed at all between them. When she elbows him in the ribs rough enough to interrupt his storytelling, he grins and starts talking again even more emphatically than before…

Except Emily can't hear him anymore. Can't see him. She's stopped in her tracks, pupils near as wide as her irises.

She's overslept, by a lot, but having trouble caring about it. She doesn't have to worry about a schedule until January, which felt like forever away at this point. She'd slept fitfully again anyway. Pushing herself with one hand braced against the wall to help, Emily blinks blearily and starts to pull her legs into herself, getting an idea for how she would be doing starting the day. She runs a hand down her calf, massaging with her thumb and frowning thoughtfully.

"What's wrong, Ems? You look all pale and ghosty. Like someone walked over your grave or someth—"

This is the most bizarre, brilliant, confusing feeling. She's used to her uncertainty in her step. She's used to having to fight against letting that tremble win and doubly unseat her footing. What Emily isn't prepared for is how she's standing on her own, and has been for the last thirty seconds. She's not all used to just how different she already feels. Her legs shift, feet sliding on the ground in safe shuffles. With teeth gritting, simultaneously afraid and eager to push her limits, she tries taking a full step on her own. There's a snap of a feeling that runs down her body, the message almost breaking down in the process of making it from brain to toe… but it forces its way through. And then she steps again.

Emily inhales a sharp breath, her eyes bright.

She lifts a hand to cover her mouth after she gasps, still not hearing or seeing anything. Keep going! Emily wants to cheer her on.

It's her. That's been her. Even though it wasn't her. Holy shit.

"Joe, you're not gonna belie—"

Legs swung off the side of the bed, she stares down at her toes, hands clutching the side of the mattress. She wiggles her feet, flexes her hands, takes a deep breath in. Today, so far, so good. But how long? Would it really be for forever?

She scrubs the heel of one hand across her eye, trying to fight off the feeling of dread that's building. What if Julie was right and this didn't work? If it wasn't permanent? If there were other side effects?

If there were unforeseen consequences they didn't even know about?

Emily draws in a shaky breath as she looks up toward the ceiling, silently praying to nothing in particular that this all worked out in the end. That she would really be fine. That she could leave all this worry and second-guessing behind.

For just a split second, she closes her eyes and remembers the snow day, pelting others and being pelted with snowballs. How annoying, but fun it had all been. What had been wrong with that? What hadn't been good enough with her then? Why did she think she needed to…

Her expression contorts with pain as she remembers a dozen different whys. Talking herself out of a full-time job at Winslow-Crawford out of fear for her energy levels. Staring down her crutches and wheelchair, knowing she needs the latter, but choosing the former because she'd made wheelchair-inaccessible plans. The searing frustration of losing her balance unexpectedly, even when she had the most supportive friends around her — something that somehow made slips like those even worse. The feeling of waking up during a flare, the gradual return to consciousness being accompanied by…

A lot of sensations she'd lacked, since Berlin had done her work.

Head hanging forward, she looks back down toward her toes and flexes them again. This was different than anything she'd ever known, but she was going to fucking lean into it, despite not knowing how to explain what happened, or what to make of her lack of handling her changes with grace. "Get it together, Epstein." Emily beats her fist into the side of the mattress, roughly coming to her feet. "Own this."

Despite that, her eyes close and she runs a hand through her hair nervously. Should she let Devon know? Should she go to Raytech on her own two feet? What would he say? What could go wrong there?

Her stomach sinks, regretting even having thought that to herself. So, so much could go wrong. Devon was Wolfhound at the end of the day, and so was Berlin, and so was her father

Emily Raith flinches as though she's been struck in the gut. Her earlier awe, her sense of camaraderie with this not-her starts to slip. Wait… what? her thoughts stutter.

She could feel the other sensations, other thoughts and feelings as clear as if they were her own, and until now, had only wished she could somehow pry down the wall between them to offer encouragement. Now, she sought something additional.

Dad? He's alive for you?? Her heart pangs with that thought. Go. Go see him. Call him. Anything. Don't—

Swallowing hard, Emily lets her hand hang off of the back of her neck as she looks out her bedroom toward her mobility aids, still by the front door like they always have been. Her breath comes out unsteadily. It felt… so wrong, to cover it up like this. It felt wrong she didn't know what to say about herself, too. It felt ungrateful to take this miracle and struggle with it, be paranoid about it, or to cover it up.

And it killed her, but this wasn't something she thought Julie could help talk her through, or even be sympathetic to. No, not without cussing, fussing, frantic worry, and the ultimate end-feeling that she was on her own with all this.

It hurt worse to realize this wasn't the first thing she'd not felt like she could go to Julie for, lately. No — she'd kept Eileen Gray to herself. Kept Sibyl to herself. Kept quiet about the stipend coming in. She'd been silent on all of it to her cousin, and as such, hadn't talked with anyone about the complex situations and her complex emotions toward them.

That's not healthy. This also isn't healthy.

Emily would practically be lying to Devon by showing up in the wheelchair. But she didn't want to fuck things up again somehow by being honest. She'd thought maybe, just maybe for once they could just have a nice evening, just the two of them, and she could give him his Christmas present and for once everything could go just fucking…

No, this was definitely different than her own situation had ever been. Emily had been so much younger, had never felt the extent of this doubt. She'd had plenty of time to prepare before her first treatments, didn't feel … caught off-guard? Was that the best way to describe what lay in the heart of that conflicting emotional state she was being subjected to?

What strikes her heaviest is how alone she feels, touched by echoes of emotion from the vision as it floats in and out. She lets out a slow exhale, her chest feeling crushed as though she were trying to breathe in a void.

"You can do this," she whispers fiercely in encouragement, like it could pierce the veil back, let her know at least at that moment Emily Epstein wasn't alone. "You get through this. Everything is going to be better from here." Her words go unheard, save for in pieces by the friend physically at her side.

Looking at herself in the mirror, Emily's brow slowly furrows. Try as she might, any optimism she tries to feel just slips away from her instantly. In its place, all she's left with its a sense of dread, that no matter what she does, it'll be the wrong choice. Wiping her face down with the washcloth like it will wipe away that feeling, she tosses it aside to the laundry basket before cupping her face in her hands all over again.

Once out the bathroom door, her hand automatically goes for the wall, just the tips of her fingers touching only in case of support that she'd no longer need. When she realizes what she's done, her hand recoils back and she grimaces again. The side of her fist slams into the wall in an attempt to feel anything other than frustratingly dysphoric and drowning in her own nerves.

Emily's morning coffee has slipped through her fingers at some point, fallen onto the ground. She knows Joe's more concerned than before, even, waving his hand in front of her face to try and get her attention, but all she can do is shake her head and look at her feet while her mind races.

The world's your oyster, Epstein. she wants to tell that other, struggling self.

Seize it.

You've got this.

And if for some reason she didn't, she needed to find someone to talk to about it all, to help get her through it. Emily Epstein had been right about one thing at least: Keeping it in wasn't healthy. She might get through it somehow on her own, but that didn't mean she had to.

For her own part, she wasn't sure how she would have overcome this past year and some of its darker moments without support from the people she cared about.

"Joe," Emily breathes as she comes back to the moment, looking up to him. "I've told you before how much I appreciate our friendship, right?

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