Someone To Worry About


brynn_icon.gif emily_icon.gif

Scene Title Someone To Worry About
Synopsis Emily and Brynn find they're far more alike than Emily ever thought.
Date January 10, 2019

Emily's Apartment

For all that she's tried to tonight, Emily can't relax. There's little to do during the regularly scheduled blackout each night, so she normally spends it out, elsewhere, if she can. But she's spent the whole day at home, phone in hand, laptop nearby cycling the news sites local and national for anything breaking. Anything mentioning Wolfhound.

No news is good news, she tries to tell herself. For lots of reasons. Just pick one, Emily.

The breath that's expelled violently as she worries does nothing to relieve the weight on her chest. Laptop balanced on her knee, she hits refresh again on the CNN homepage, eyes reflecting the blank white loading screen while she waits.

The knock on Emily's door shouldn't be too unexpected. Brynn texted a little while ago. Now, as the door opens, she comes bearing gifts! The scent of pizza fresh from the oven (albeit carried through the freezing evening air) is still detectable. She simply grins and holds up the box, silently proffering the pie as a bribe to get in the door.

Peeking out through the eyehole, Emily falls back on her heels before opening the door, doing her best to force a smile before she opens it so it's easier when they're face to face. Hey, Brynn. Come on in.

Peeking out through the eyehole, Emily falls back onto her heels before opening the door, already grinning before she's even face to face with the young woman on the other side. "Hey, Brynn!" she's exclaiming as soon as the door's wide enough to allow it. "Come on, come on."

It had been a while since they'd been able to get together like this.

"You can throw that down on the counter or something and make yourself at home." The dimly lit studio apartment behind her is gestured to with a flick of a wrist and a shrug of her shoulder.

Could put that down on the table. The power won't be back for a while, make yourself at home, though. Emily gestures to the coffee table vaguely and with a shrug of her shoulder.

The solar-powered lamp set to one side of it is the only thing giving off any light in here, the lights of the nearby Elmhurst Hospital hardly enough to see by, and the screen of the abandoned laptop having a very low brightness to conserve battery at the moment. A trio of plates were grabbed and left on the table's surface nearby the lamp, partnered by glasses and a pitcher of water.

Heading for the table, Brynn doesn't seem put off by the vagueness of Emily's response. Tone is not easily read in sign, but the deaf teen is good at body language too. Her gray eyes follow the other girl as she moves, and she tips her head. After setting the box down, she can finally talk.

You look… something. Annoyed? What's wrong? Are you okay? It's immediate, and it's maybe not something Emily is used to — the constant nosing into your business that the LHK do to one another. Having now absorbed Emily into their number (at least as far as they are concerned), they make her worries their business.

"You better have drinks, woman," Brynn replies as she carries the pizza in. Completely at home in the apartment, she strips off her coat and gloves to toss them on the back of the couch. "Holy crap, the line was ridiculous! Everybody and their brother apparently decided that it's pizza night." The gray eyes roll expressively. "And Billy — you know, the guy at the counter? He asked again. You'd think that guy would get the hint when I tell him 'no' about a million times. He's creepy as hell. If he keeps it up, I'm gonna sic Joe on him." Emily knows how well that will go.

"He won't know what hit him," Emily glances over her shoulder slily at Brynn, lifting the top of the pizza box to peer at what's within and let out a luxurious sigh. Yes, this was the night off she needed. Her friend was right in that drinks were missing. Whether or not they both meant the same kind of 'drinks' wasn't assured, though. To that effect, she leans back to open the sink cabinet in the kitchenette, reaching behind bottles of cleaning surprise to come back with a wax-dribbled bottle of Maker's Mark held by its neck. Previously opened, judging by the knife cut already made through the wax.

"Also, it's Friday," she points out in response to how busy it was, using the bottle to accent the comment. Her head quirks to one side as she adds, "So there's that."

Having settled in on the couch almost immediately, brow knit as she skims the tabs she has open, Emily quickly goes through the process of hitting one last obsessive refresh across them all before setting the device aside, screen halfway closed. She glances up to catch Brynn's question, involuntarily starting to shake her head. She's not annoyed. She doesn't want to talk about it much. She's not okay.

Didn't want to be alone tonight, that's all. she starts, complete with another strained attempt at a smile to reassure that she's fine, when she's not. Emily settles her shoulders, forcing herself to keep looking in Brynn's general vicinity. Today's just… she starts to sign, trying to find the words, but her thoughts are stuttering. It's not Friday. she thinks to herself, bewildered. She's been staring at the date all day. Why would she think it's a day it's not?

The strange sense of deja vu makes Brynn pause in the middle of the room, frowning as she watches herself and Emily have a conversation that she can't hear. Not signing. This is the second time she's had a flash like this, and she still doesn't understand what's happening. She fumbles for the dining room chair and sinks into it shaking her head as if to dislodge water from her ears. Emily….?

"Oooh, good choice," she approves of the drink. "Much better than that cheap-ass beer you had last time." Brynn grins cheekily. "And I made them take the green peppers off my half so you don't have to go without, okay? The guys always get just meat pizza, and I'm dying for mushrooms and onions on it but I can live without the peppers."

She flips the box open on the table and shows off the lovely NY-style pie smothered in cheese. "Oh man," Brynn sighs in pleasure as she breathes in the scent. "This is gonna be great." As she plops down in the chair, she says, "And now you can celebrate with me — I got my first actual paying gig! I gotta take pictures for a restaurant that wants a new Web site."

The excited movements of her own hands and no signs leaves Brynn uncertain what the topic of conversation is, though the smell of pizza is similar. She turns toward Emily to see if the other girl is… experiencing anything? Saying anything? Oh God…

"Hey, there is nothing wrong with a good watered-down beer." Emily snipes back in a melodramatic tease, collecting two square-shaped tumblers from an overhead cabinet and settles it down on the island next to the pizza and the bottle. She grins broadly at the girl sitting in the chair on the other side of the island, lifting a hand to excitedly high five her. "That's awesome! We've both got plenty to celebrate, then."

"You and your gig, me and my internship — which starts just after the new year, by the way," Emily's voice curls in a faux humbleness while she pours them both some of the bourbon, holding the glass up afterward for a proper cheers. "We're going places! Meeting new people, doing new things."

Emily's staring straight ahead, not seeing anything. Not here, at least. She says out loud, for no one's benefit but her own, "This isn't now." She's bewildered by it.

"Though you know, I can't say I'm looking forward to all this new socializing." she adds with a tut before sipping at her drink. She grabs one of the generously provided pepper-loaded slices, tearing it away and starting to fold it over to eat.

Shaking it off, Brynn stands and makes her way to Emily. She snaps her fingers in front of the other girl's eyes. She also lightly jostles Em to see if she can get the other girl out of the vision — it's never good when people are having visions and that's not their power.

Emily can hear the snapping, just as much as she can hear Brynn otherwise. Brynn, talking. She shakes her head, trying to clear the fog over her thoughts.

Looking toward the windows at an echo of a sound she hears, Emily shakes her head to discard it and looks back to Brynn. She wipes her hands of the now-finished slice, asking, "Speaking of getting hit up by randos, though, how is the love life these days?"

Emily, are you okay? Brynn's a little pale, but Emily seems to see her and that's good, right? She suspects that they both just saw that — but she's not exactly sure how or why both of them would see it. I don't know what's happening, but it's not real, Em. Are you seeing me okay?

She isn't, even if she's turned in Brynn's direction now. Emily's staring right through her, brow twitching as she tries to focus hard enough to reclaim her sight. Her hand drags across the couch, feeling for where the laptop was left, trying to find any texture to reclaim her attention. The dysphoria between feeling the cool of the tumbler in her palm along with the fabric of the couch disorients her though, and she pauses, lips parted to say something that never gets quite out.

"You really should talk to someone about the social anxiety, you know," Brynn points out as she helps herself to pizza. "I mean… you're gorgeous, you're smart, and you're fun to be around. I hate knowing that every time you go somewhere, you're wound up tight as a spring." When Emily changes the subject, Brynn blushes. "It's…. Not non-existent. But don't make me think about it. Cuz damn, if the guys figure out who it is, they're gonna do that THING they do." She blushes visibly. "And I don't want him chased away."

Brynn slips her hand into Emily's as she waits the overlay out. She doesn't try to fight through it — it doesn't seem to be breakable anyway. At least her last one wasn't. And it didn't last very long either. So they'll be okay.

"It's gotten better," Emily replies mildly, no defensiveness there. "Probably because I have gone to see someone about it." She's picking at the side of the counter, though there's nothing to pull away. It's not made of cheap enough material for that — a solid slab of something instead of paneling over fiberboard. "But there's always room for improvement, I suppose." Shoving people back to arms-length rather than ever letting them in was something she'd come to excel at since her father's name became known. Even though it was a name she'd shed now.

Brynn becoming flustered gives her something else to focus on, though, and Emily tilts her head back with a teasing smirk as she looks across the island at her. "Hey, don't let them do you like that. Your business is your business." She nudges the tumbler back to her face, sipping from it again. It's pressed to her lips for a moment as she thinks, lowered just enough to speak over the top of it when she's ready. "If they're chasing off guys that hard, it better be because one of them means to ask you out. And not 'eventually'. Like… soon." She laughs under her breath, peering out the studio window again. "Life's too short to let them hold you back for the rest of it, Brynn."

"And besides, wouldn't it be nice to have someone to worry about, and be worried about in return?" Fingers drumming along the side of her glass, Emily seems to find that a romantic enough idea, even if it's said only in private.

Well, that thought obviously never occurred to her. Brynn looks gobsmacked and then her face screws up into skeptical lines. "No way. I don't even think they have a clue that I'm a girl most of the time, so that's …" She trails off. "Nope. Not going there. Just not. We need way more alcohol if you want to talk like that. I'm not drunk enough." Then she grins. "Besides… I have someone to worry about — you! Mom and Dad want you to come over for dinner again. And don't even try the excuses, Mom says if I don't bring you, she won't make chocolate pie. And she makes the best chocolate pie ever, so you're coming."

Brynn's face screws up into confusion. The her in the other world is just so different, she doesn't even feel like it's her. And yet it is. She clearly has a few similar ties, but it feels strange. Like putting on someone else's broken-in shoes.

Emily only rolls her eyes at Brynn's deflection attempt. "I can pour you more," she points out, gesturing at the other girl's glass with her free hand. "I can pour you lots more." The suggestion is made with a half-grin that persists only passively after the topic moves to dinner with Brynn's family. That took the deflection to an entire other level.

"Jeez, Brynn. Refusing to pursue the guy you swear you like, telling me it's me you think about, inviting me over to dinner with your parents…" The glint of wry amusement enters her eye again, her voice taking on an almost melodic edge to it. "I dunno, maybe I shouldn't top off your drink after all."

It's all teasing. And it feels good to laugh.

God, it feels great.

Emily's hand loosens its grip around Brynn's as the vision loosens its hold over her, her mouth dry. Her eyes search the dark blindly, adjusting, only finding Brynn beside her after a moment. She feels hollow, emotionally chafed from how different that other Emily felt.

Emily Raith.

She turns to Brynn, her expression vacant. "What kind of pizza did you bring?" It's whispered aloud, voice hoarse, not that the volume or tone makes a difference. Her hand is still holding onto Brynn's even if it's not as tightly as before.

Brynn hesitates, and she's not exactly sure Emily's even seeing the answer. She has to extricate her hand to sign. Pepperoni and cheese. she's not sure if that's a good answer or a bad one, what with the scene they're viewing. It seemed like the safe choice, since I hadn't asked what you liked on pizza.

They are not the same people, after all.

With only a passing understanding of what was happening, because the conversation flowed fast, Brynn asks hesitantly, Did she ask the other Emily out? Because not that she has issues with the idea, she just never really leaned that direction herself.

Without knowing exactly why, Emily is relieved by the differences. Every other vision she's had hadn't been so close to the reality of her moment. It had been jarring, the similarities just as much as the differences.

An internship…

Brynn's question makes her smile faintly with a shake of her head. No. I — she was just being an asshole.

She continues to shake her head before sitting upright, looking at Brynn more thoughtfully. Could you hear everything that was going on? Emily wonders. I can't explain it very well, but your voice sounded just like you. Her brow starts to furrow at the awkwardly explained observation, more in amusement at her lack of putting better phrasing to it. That's silly to say, isn't it.

Emily lets out a shuddering breath, really back in the moment now. She's sure the vision's let go. Leaning forward, she one-handedly wrestles the pizza box open to peel out a slice.

Tipping her head, Brynn frowns and realizes something. I couldn't hear it, no… but sometimes I almost …. maybe? It's weird, the way it works. Like she almost knew what was being said because the other Brynn was saying and hearing it, but not really. I don't… really know what I'm supposed to sound like, she admits with a shy grin. She's never heard herself, except sort of when this happens.

Are you okay? I know it's… strange. She grimaces. It happened to me once before.

The slice set set aside on one of the plates. Plastic, not paper like in the vision.

Me too. A … few times, actually. There's a healthy pause in the signing as Emily hesitates on adding the frequency. Aside from the time she hunted down someone over one of the visions, she's tried to keep them to herself. They weren't 'real', after all.

Sort of.

I'll be fine. is easy to say, because it's a lie she repeats frequently. The poor lighting might even make it harder to read her expression and know she's still shaken by it. But the event was like a chisel crashing down onto her already cracked emotional state, and she outs herself by shaking her head, her hands coming to move again. Maybe because she's not speaking out loud, it ends up making it easier to communicate.

I texted because I didn't want to be alone. People I care about are in danger today and I can't stop thinking about them. I don't know where they are or what they're doing or when I'll hear from them again. And it's stupid — I know they'll be fine. They've done this before. It's their job. That sign is made particularly emphatically, her brow knit in frustration at the fact as well as herself. It's repeated again, slightly less emphatically the second time, before she moves on. … But this is the first time I've let myself care this much.

Emily's eyes seek out Brynn's. So I don't know what to do.

Sympathy is clear in her gaze, and Brynn just nods slightly. You're doing the only thing you can — letting someone else sit with you so you're not alone with the fear. She's no stranger to fear for other people. Just because it's their job and they're good at it doesn't mean you won't worry. You just … learn to manage the anxiety if you decide the person is worth keeping in your life. She reaches out and touches Emily's shoulder and squeezes gently.

The hardest part of growing up like we did was knowing that I wasn't useful out there — that I could be used against them. More often than not, I was the one left behind, because it was the way it needed to be. Brian trained us all to fight if we had to… but only one of us has ever faced the worst case and had to use what we learned. Lance's nightmare is his to share, but she needs Emily to know she understands. The idea of losing one of them terrifies me because they're my family… but the alternative is being alone all the time, Emily. I know how hard waiting for word is. But I'm glad that you care enough to be scared. Because she worries that Emily works so hard to keep everyone at arm's length.

Emily only shakes her head. She'd much rather not care that much, actually. If she could just shut down all those emotions until she needed them, until a time where they wouldn't just hurt, it would be far more preferable to do that instead of just … sitting and waiting.

It's my dad. she explains, not sure if it'll help or hurt. And Devon. It takes her time to spell out the letters of the name, careful as she moves between them.

Someone I care about. is how she chooses to define the latter person, questioning if she really has all the signs for a full explanation. Deciding regardless what was said is not enough, she shakes her head in another bout of frustration. It's not clear if she continues on for her own benefit or Brynn's at this point. Her expression is severe one second and softens the next, her emotions plain for once. I hate him, but I worry about him. He …

He tries really fucking hard, Brynn. He's stupid, he made a stupid mistake, and I know he feels bad about it. But he doesn't get a free pass because … Hands falling partway to her lap, Emily gestures weakly around the apartment to indicate the situation in general. The current cause of her worrying. She fidgets before shaking her head warily. Emily takes in a breath like she means to speak out loud, even if that's not the case. It steadies her in some way, though. It was him who was with Richard. she admits. If… I'm being honest, he's more the one who tricked me, even if it was Richard's idea.

Jaw setting, she can't bring herself to look quite at Brynn as she forces herself to finish the thought. He said he wanted to give me and my dad the chance to talk. Even if that was a really bad way of going about it. When she does look back, she just looks tired. It's complicated. The whole thing. And it hurts.

It'd be great if I could pause caring until I knew what to do. is admitted with an accompanying dry laugh.

Brynn settles onto the arm of the couch, her full attention on the other girl. She doesn't rush Emily through her signs or her thoughts, gray eyes thoughtful. Her expression holds no pity but there's definitely sympathy. And before she signs a response, she is definitely thinking really hard about how to say what she wants to say.

A lot of things in life would be simpler if emotions would … take a step sideways so that we could make decisions and reactions without them, she signs slowly. He went about it wrong, no doubt about it. Even when you know he meant well, even when you can rationally accept his point of view, it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. You have every right to be mad about it, even if you understand the why. She bites her lip and pauses.

Em, … Aunt Gilly abandoned us. She didn't agree with Brian's way of raising us, and she left. She's the only mother most of us really ever had… and it hurts. Even now, it still hurts. I think it hurts Lance and Hailey even more, and I think we're all just a little bit jealous of Squeaks cuz Aunt Gilly's adopting her. I know… that I wonder sometimes why she didn't fight for us, didn't … take some of us with her. She looks away, toward the table.

None of it is her fault — because she could only do what she could do. And I understand why she had to leave. But it's still there. Even though I love her more than any other adult I've ever known, I think some part of me will always be hurt and wonder what was wrong with all of us that she didn't love us enough to stay. When she looks back at Em, though, she signs, But when she's not there, there's a hole in my life that nothing quite fills. Making the emotions go away would be convenient… but it would also keep everyone outside. It's safe for me inside the walls, where no one gets close enough to hurt my feelings and make stupid mistakes that make me so angry I don't know what to do with it. But it's really lonely too. You don't have to excuse what he did to forgive it. You just have to accept that no one's perfect.

It's more words than Brynn has ever strung together in Emily's presence. And she looks a little uncomfortable with saying so much, perhaps expecting that it's going to break something in their friendship. Emily's made a point of trying to keep her distance and Brynn sort of obliterated the unspoken rules of self-preservation.

"Brynn…" Emily's shoulders sag while her friend shares, her brow slowly knitting together. She's grateful for the slower signs on her behalf, which help her have time to fill in the gaps when a sign she doesn't know is used. All of this is new to her — the history as well as the advice.

She has to look away for a moment when Brynn is done to center her own thoughts, and somehow manage the realization that they've suffered a similar abandonment in their lives. Parents leaving because they thought it was for the best. Emily is almost sure the example had been offered up not for that reason, but the realization is unearthed regardless. Her eyes slowly close as she draws in an aching breath, willing herself to not immediately patch the holes blasted in her usual walls — to instead let herself feel and face the situation honestly.

It's a change for her, for sure.

Thank you. her dominant hand unfurls to sign, even though she hasn't looked up yet. It was a very personal thing Brynn had shared, one that had humbled Emily.

With a tug at her internal walls, she slowly peels them back. I did not know we both went through something similar. she admits, looking toward Brynn but not quite at her. I never talk about my parents for reasons — one of them being it didn't seem fair to complain when you guys don't have yours anymore. We grew up very different. Her mouth hardens into a line. So I didn't know you could relate at all, and didn't want to try to force you to. I'm sorry for assuming.

You know, I used to be okay with being alone. I spent a lot of my life that way.

A corner of her mouth pulls back involuntarily before she signs, That changed on my birthday last year. You guys showed up, and I didn't even know you, but you… Her shoulders draw up into a shrug, eyes blurred as she fails to put into words exactly what happened. She hopes Brynn understands. "And that was nice, you know?" The smile reaches the other side of her mouth as she lets out a strained chuckle. "It was really… really nice."

I'm not good at letting people in, and I don't know if I ever will be. Having to forgive people is new, and it scares me. It's like telling him he has permission to hurt me again. Emily shakes her head slightly. I had told him a long time ago he was on his last chance, and I was going to hold him to it. But…

I couldn't. I picked up the phone finally and I talked to him. I didn't forgive him, but… Her brow furrows as she tries to qualify it. But I gave him another chance, I think.

"I don't know." she breathes in quiet exasperation, pulling the laptop to her suddenly, refreshing the news pages again. Her shoulders are curled in, and she scrubs the heel of her palm against the side of her face, wiping her eye in the process. "I don't know." She hesitates, stopping just short of addressing anything as far as her father goes. That would take a much harder pull at her walls.

When the hands start moving, Brynn's eyes come back — it's rude not to look at someone when they're speaking to you, after all. But also, she hopes that Emily understood the point. When it's clear that she did, Brynn's body language eases a little. Her smile is gentle, if a little wobbly. It's why we all understood why you were hurt… but we also … hoped you'd understand how lucky you are. Confronting Aunt Gilly now? She's already sorry for what happened — she can't change it. Our situations are maybe a little different, but… maybe not so much either. There's a moment where she lets that thought sink in.

Forgiving someone doesn't give them permission to hurt you again. Do you remember when I turned Lance's hair pink? At the nod, she continues, Owain took me on a date… Lance fired paintballs at him while we were together. They looked like blood. I honestly thought we were being shot at. He knows better. He was just being a jerk. But… it hurt me, and he knew it. He didn't realize it would give me flashbacks to when I was little, when I was caught in a gunfight. Her shoulders move up and then down in a slow shrug. I can't cut him out of my life — they're the only family I have. My life would be very empty without him. But … that's why I understood why you wanted to get back at Devon and Mr. Ray. Making sure they know you're mad because they did something that hurt and then forgiving them… hopefully means they're not so stupid as to do something like it again. She grins. They'll do something else stupid as shit next time, but… it won't be that stupid thing. It's what makes friends and family — forgiving the stupid shit because those people will have your back when the bad shit comes.

She shoulderbumps Emily gently. We're keeping ya, you know. You're not getting away just cuz it makes you uncomfortable.

When it's all said and done, Emily doesn't have any words left. She still feels raw, but not as hollow. Brynn has seen to that. Emily lays her head on Brynn's shoulder for a moment, the action like an armless hug.

Out of the corner of her eye, she sees the screen refresh with the latest headlines. Nothing damningly suspect. Nothing Wolfhound. All is right with the world for now— no news is good news, Emily.

So she sits up and makes a more forceful gesture at her friend. Okay, let's eat before this gets any colder. Emily leans forward to pull the other plate closer. Microwave's out of order for another few hours.

Emily smiles, but her eyes betray she's still thinking about what Brynn said. She'll be thinking about it for days to come.

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