The Breakfast Club


berlin2_icon.gif emily4_icon.gif

Scene Title The Breakfast Club
Synopsis Berlin and Emily chat over breakfast before another day of healing, learning a little more about each other in the process.
Date December 14, 2018

Pine Barrens

Berlin's Cabin

Eggs might not have much of a smell, but they can at least be heard being scrambled in the cabin kitchen. Emily stands over the stove, pushing a spatula through the soupy mixture as it starts to solidify in a film at the bottom of the pan. Cheese floats in swirls, melting in. Maybe that might carry a scent.

The second pan with diced seasoned potatoes, though, definitely lets off an alluring aroma as it starts to sizzle again in the layer of oil spread over its pan. Emily glances back to it, and then to the clock to see how she's faring on time.

She already feels different. There's less need than before to be mindful of her grip on the spatula, for starters. She hadn't stumbled when swinging logs into the hearth to restart the fire. Who knows how different she'll feel after today, but Emily is determined to start it off on the right foot.

Berlin is the one who stumbles into the room. She hasn't said so, but she's pushing herself harder than she has before, with healing on this level. Food and sleep help, but they're not a cureall. Not while she's still pushing. Her ability finds Emily first, her nose finds the food second, and she finds her way into the kitchen with a sigh. Just a gentle one.

"Did you find everything okay?" she asks, although it is more as a way to announce that she's here than out of real curiosity. Because obviously, she found enough to be cooking. She crosses over to the pantry to pull out a loaf of bread. Homemade, as most things are around here. The serrated knife she pulls out of a drawer is purely for slicing purposes.

"Yeah," Emily replies almost disappointedly, swirling the eggs in the pan. They were cooking faster than she'd hoped. "This'll be done before the potatoes are. Help yourself." She's used to cooking for two, but she'd made sure the portions were generous today. It had thrown her off.

Though Berlin hasn't said anything, it's not like how hard she's pushing herself has gone unnoticed. She'd been up front with how much the process took out of her. If they had the luxury of time, Emily would have urged her to be easier on herself by now. But, she wasn't sure how a suggestion like that would be taken regardless. "You rest well?" she asks instead.

"Sure," Berlin says, "closed my eyes, then opened them the next morning. It's like drinking until you black out, but without the hangover." Once she's gotten a few slices, enough for both of them, she replaces the bread and grabs a pan of her own. To toast the bread in an extremely old fashioned way. Back at the Bunker, it was the height of modern convenience. Down here, the opposite. She drifted between the two easily enough, though. Duality is a comfortable space for her to dwell in, after all.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to have you home tomorrow. How many people are panicking up in the Safe Zone over your kidnapping adventure, you think?" she asks with a crooked smile. The expression doesn't last very long, but it's there.

Emily can only shake her head at that, scrubbing the side of her face with a palm. The grin that comes to her own face is weak, and dies quickly. It'd be funnier if she couldn't think of a whole list of people that would be concerned, Julie top among them. If their positions had been reversed, Emily knows she'd have called every authority she could contact to find her cousin by now. She fusses with the potatoes to try and not linger on wondering just what's waiting for her at home.

"What about you?" she poses in return, apparently feeling like she's given enough of an answer by expression alone. "Wolfhound won't be looking for you, being gone so long?"

"No one is waiting for me," Berlin says, head shaking. Which feels more true than it really is. But no one will send out the authorities looking for her, that much she's certain about. "Wolfhound has me benched at the moment." She looks up from her pan to smirk at Emily. "So I don't know if it would make it worse or better for you to mention you've been with me." Mentioning Eileen is right out, apparently.

But it's a joke anyway, since Missing Persons is only Wolfhound's job if they're bad missing persons.

Emily lets out a breath that puffs her cheeks as she considers it, pulling the eggs off of the stove to scoop and scrape them onto a large plate. "There," she mutters, nodding to the plate before reaching across the counter to slide the pan into the sink. After she shifts the potatoes around with the spatula, she finally shakes her head. "I don't know how to explain this anyway. Can't just lie it off entirely … I mean, I'm coming home different. Julie will know right away, at least."

She stares at the wall, pensive. "Worst case… maybe I tell her you took me to see a healer. Something close to the truth, but not… entirely." Emily trails off, frowning. Definitely a last-case option. Without knowing what was waiting for her, it made it hard to come up with any sort in particular. She blinks the thoughts away, turning her head slightly toward Berlin. "I'm not sure I've said thank you yet, though. Not to the extent I mean it. I mean, I woke up this morning and I didn't hurt getting out of bed. There's certain things I took for granted before that're just… gone."

A quick, grateful glance is shifted to Berlin before she looks away again. Emily doesn't mean to fawn over what was happening, or give too much voice to the challenges and discomforts she's had every day until now. But it didn't feel right not acknowledging the changes so far, even if Berlin still didn't feel they were done just yet. "I know I made an ass out of myself at first, so I'm just…" Short of carrying on at length and making herself feel more awkward, she cuts herself off with, "Thanks, is all."

She clears her throat, focusing on what's before her. "So how'd you meet Eileen, anyway?"

"Julie will probably put two and two together anyway," Berlin mentions, her tone dry. "If I understand her capabilities correctly. Just don't let it get too far past her. We took you to see a healer would work well. You can just glare at anyone who asks you to explain more." That's also a tease. Berlin seems to fall into it easily, comfortably, even.

At the thanks, Berlin pulls her bread off the heat, too, and tosses them onto the plate as well. But once she's exhausted work to busy herself with, she reaches a hand over to rest on Emily's shoulder. "I didn't make the best first impression, either. Eileen wasn't wrong about us having a few things in common. And you're welcome." The words come with more weight than length, but she is careful not to dismiss what it means to the other young woman.

The question lets her ease out of it, that heaviness. "I was scaring the crap out of some ex-Institute flunky to get him to go turn himself in or at least go do something good with his life. He was in this area and Eileen noticed. She came to… introduce herself."

Emily leaves her tongue pressed into her cheek to try not to chuckle at Berlin's tease, still focused on the food. She's used to having to mind her reaction to things when multitasking. She stops and turns when she feels the hand on her shoulder, her brow ticking up at the touch. Her expression shifts, taking some comfort at the semblance of an apology, but also finding something meriting deeper thought yet out of them having things in common. When she turns back to the stove, she's still wearing that same heaviness.

"With Eileen … I've noticed rarely is anything ever face-value. Always something behind it." she points out in a quieter voice. The pan is tilted back toward her, mouth hardening into a line as she judges if the potatoes are crispy enough for her liking. "That comment about us being alike felt pointed."

Berlin takes in a breath, lets it out, and levels a look over at Emily. There's something of a warning in her gaze. A are you sure you want to do this look. But, in the end, she seems to decide to go ahead with it.

"Our families are sort of tied up together. My birth mother was sort of a crazy person, and she decided to mess with Avi and put his name on my adoption papers when she gave me up. She liked games, apparently saw everything as part of one. Even me. Especially your father." She shakes her head some, because she's still sort of dealing with the truth about who her mother was. What she was like. "So it's likely that he and maybe even you will get pulled into some nonsense she put in the works ages ago. But don't worry," she says, her smile turning a little bittersweet even though she tries to cover it, "I'm not your long lost whatever."

Emily stops shifting the spatula around the pan when her father's mentioned by name. She blinks, taking a moment to process, and then shifts the pan to an unlit burner before shutting the stove off entirely. She doesn't say anything immediately, though the kneejerk reaction to wonder 'what the fuck' is strong, and forces herself to listen to all of it instead.

Her expression's darkening, though. Knowing absolutely nothing about Berlin's birth mother doesn't help her bias, and all she's got is her own perspective, her own history to work off of. Her posture straightens, shoulders squaring out. "My parents," she starts to say, and at first it seems almost unrelated, "split up in part because my father cheated on my mother."

"So, as fucked as this is, how sure are you about not being related?"

She draws in a breath and carefully exhales it out before moving past Berlin to pull another plate down from the cabinet to dump the potatoes onto. Emily tilts the plate on its side in a shrug-like gesture as she looks back to her. "I don't know who your birth mother was, but talk about overcomplicating things? That's him to a fucking T. He'll come up with the most harebrained, paranoid shit in the throes of denial." She grabs ahold of the pan to tip it over onto the plate — now properly held — her expression deadpan save for an uncertain look in her eyes. "If he's the one who told you all that, I'd take it with a very fucking large grain of salt."

The pan clatters back onto the stove as she turns for the table.

Berlin takes in Emily's words with a tightening of her shoulders. She speaks out loud thoughts that Berlin has definitely had since— and during— her conversation with Avi. "Let's say," she says, her voice softer, "that I would rather believe him than know that another parent didn't want me. Doesn't want me. But he isn't wrong that my mother was a piece of work."

That's a little more true than she likes to admit, but she feels it's appropriate here. Needed, maybe. "In any case, I've never had a father and I'm not looking for one now," she says with a lift of her chin. It's a lie, but one she wants to be true.

When Emily sets the plate down on the table, it's much gentler than she'd practically thrown the pan. Berlin's words have slowed her down, sympathetic and possibly more to her issue. "I'm not trying to pull you into the same boat as me," she feels the need to clarify while she sits down. "I'd just be furious on your behalf if you willingly let him lie to you instead of giving yourself the chance to be mad at someone in particular."

She pauses for a moment, trying to shift the topic again, but she's stuck on it. Her head tilts as she looks back to Berlin, her eyes sharp. "If you look at it from the other side, maybe he didn't know, didn't have a choice in it. Maybe he's surprised, and doing something stupid right now to shove you away as a result rather than face that possibility. Whatever." Her brow lifts as she both dismisses and continues on with that hypothetical. "No matter the case, fuck him, because you clearly didn't need a father in your life to turn out okay. You — you're doing just fucking fine, Berlin." She's more frustrated than she should be about the healer's situation.

"You're tough, you're compassionate, and — fuck him, okay? Fuck him and his need to run away." Her brow's started to furrow now instead. Emily finds it important Berlin knows this as much as herself, though the latter goes unsaid.

She'd have more trouble handling learning about a before-unknown possible sister if she hadn't already had to go through a similar experience recently.

"Everyone I'm furious at is already dead," Berlin says, pulling out a pair of forks to pass Emily one. "I didn't even know who my mother was until recently. She's the one who left me. Whether she was lying about Avi or not, he didn't know. And it wouldn't be very fair to expect him to jump up and be Dad." What she's learned about Sarisa so far has made her reluctant to learn more. "I mean, it would make work awkward anyway."

It already is pretty awkward, but no reason to make it worse.

"I'm not tough or compassionate. I'm scared. But I can fake it until it's true. That's my current strategy." Since hiding isn't really working anymore. She stabs her fork into the eggs, but looks over at Emily, too. "I wouldn't have even mentioned this, except that there's this Triad guy who claimed to have some connection to my father. He's lying. Just trying to lure an orphan girl with a lot of power into something. But I don't think they're going to stop at a little lie. Whatever's coming my way, the splash will probably hit Avi, too. But I'll do what I can to keep it from hitting you, too."

"He's pretty shit at it, you're not missing out on anything." Emily remarks as she spins the fork around using just the fingers of one hand. She's fascinated by her ability to pull that off so easily, so she does it again just because she can. "But hey, you at least see him on a regular basis, so." She has to bite herself off there to keep any more bitterness from creeping into her voice, and reaches across the table to start swapping potatoes and eggs between the plates so they've both got portions.

"So what if you're scared? It's not a mutually-exclusive thing." Emily's mouth hardens into a line while she nudges one of the plates back toward Berlin. "It sounds like you've got good reason to be scared, besides. I'm not going to sleep well tonight knowing I've got an extra thing to keep an eye out for, and it sounds like the chances of it even affecting me are… nil. Triad? That's …" She just shakes her head as she trails off.

"It's not like that's stopped you from doing really great things, though. You wanted to help the ink-woman, help Squeaks, you're helping me, so…" Emily adjusts her grip on the fork to slice off a bite of egg. "That's got to count for something." Just shy of taking a bite, her brow furrows and her look becomes severe at absolutely nothing. "God, I sound like Joe." she mutters to herself.

"Yeah, that's what he said. That he was a bad father. He's a good commander. That's probably why he's so shit at family." Good CIA agent, good commander, something had to fall to the wayside. But Berlin doesn't seem to be excusing him with her words, but rather, they seem to be an admonishment. He should have be a little worse at work, a little better at fatherhood. She doesn't mention what it's like, seeing him at work now. Wondering what the truth is and if he only picked the one he liked more.

"I'm making up for a mistake. Just in case there are some cosmic scales weighing our good deeds and our bad ones." She lets out a sigh and glances over at her. "So hopefully it does count for something," she adds with a wry chuckle. "Who's Joe? A boyfriend?"

"Yeah, he doesn't get a pass just because he acknowledges it." Emily murmurs in agreement. It's hard to talk about her father at length, if at all, so she doesn't follow the comment up. There's only so long she can manage before her emotions get the better of her.

A snort of a breath makes its way away from Emily at the question about Joe. "No," she says immediately, then takes a bite. "Definitely not. Just … someone who's got too big a heart and tries to see the best in everyone, even if he might be wrong." Eyes wander in thought as she considers her words carefully before sharing, "Joe, no. But there might be someone else, if I give him a chance." Her forehead twitches as a pensive look starts to form before she looks down at her plate again. Hm.

She scratches at the back of her head with her free hand while gathering another bite together with her other. Dropping her arm to lean it against the table, she asks offhandedly, "So you're alone for the holidays?"

Berlin agrees with Emily's first words with a firm nod. No excuses. She spent enough time with abandoned children— herself included— to be slow to forgive a bad parent. Instead of commenting on it, though, she decides to eats instead.

"Sounds like a sure way to set yourself up for disappointment," she says, of Joe. That certainly isn't how she approaches people, or life in general. "So there's a guy, but not that one," she says, a gentle smile coming to her lips. "Why not give him a chance? Is he a jerk or something? Tell me about him."

She shakes her head at the question, "I won't be alone. There are some families here that are willing to have us for the holidays. I could go back up to the Bunker, but—" She feels too weird to play family with her coworkers just now. "Rory is here with me — that's my boyfriend. He's basically been the best through all this," she says with a wave between her and Emily, although she means more than this moment. "I can recommend having someone you trust to lean on when things get rough. If you like this guy, if you can trust him, I say give it a try."

Emily's brow ticks up at the mention of 'us' in a silent interrogative, at least before Berlin explains about Rory. She settles, but still seems wary enough about the concept of letting anyone in. Wary, but not full-on opposed, like she had been earlier this year. She lets out a long sigh into her eggs, relenting with a timid, "Yeah…" and buying herself some time to compose her answer by taking another bite.

"You might… probably?… know him." is said with a lift of one shoulder. She has no idea exactly how large an organization Wolfhound is, after all. Emily didn't know the names of all her neighbors, it was entirely possible Berlin had a coworker she didn't know. "The dumb idiot's also with Wolfhound," Emily balks, no real bite to the insult. It's more a defensive gesture than anything. "It would be a stretch to say we've hit it off. Every time we see each other, it feels like everything goes wrong. But still, he's been determined to stick around, to keep trying, even though I keep shoving him away."

"I've been trying to do better with him. Be a better friend … or whatever he's looking for, at this point." Her arm on the table pivots so she can lift her hand to rub at her temple. "I've — nnnnot exactly made it easy. It took a while for it to sink in he wanted to spend time with me, for me, not because of …" Emily glances up at Berlin, her shoulder twitching in another small shrug instead of finishing the rest of the sentence. She takes in a deep breath, stabbing a bite of potatoes on her fork as she sits up straighter. "His name's Devon. I had to cancel our plans last time because I wasn't feeling well, so I'm getting him a Christmas present." She glances back to Berlin for her reaction, possibly her advice. "Maybe that'll make up for it?"

That was not a name Berlin expected to hear. Although, after a moment of thought… of the guys in Wolfhound Emily could have picked, Devon is the best one (who isn't an ancient frenchman). "I do know him," she says, keeping her tone even. This would not be the moment to squee over it. Later, maybe. "He's a good guy. He sticks his foot in his mouth sometimes, but I've never seen him ever try to hurt someone. …I mean, their feelings. Obviously, I've seen him try to hurt people. We're— whatever, you know what I'm saying."

It is possible that a propensity for sticking one's foot in one's mouth is a prerequisite for joining Wolfhound.

"Plus, he's cute," she says, as if she never thought about it before, but now that she has, she's decided that it's obvious.

Foot in mouth or not, the comment makes Emily smile despite herself. It diffuses some of the tension for her, even if that wasn't the intent. "He… He tries really hard to do nice things. He just could really stand to work on his communication skills." she looks momentarily exasperated by that. Emily was evasive intentionally. Devon seemed to do it entirely on accident. "He didn't bring up shit about us to my father, though. Not even after months." she has to pause for a moment at remembering how poorly it had almost gone for Devon when Avi did find out. Starting to frown, she mutters, "I guess… I should trust him. He's earned it."

The comment about him being cute earns Berlin a side-eyed glare. "That's…" she starts, color already rising in her face. "That's irrelevant." Emily insists defensively. She's trying to think of a distraction, some kind of jab she can make in return for being flustered, but comes up short. Not enough useable material.

Breakfast is all but forgotten at this point.

"Noooo," Berlin says with a laugh, "it's super relevant."

Everything she learned about being a friend, and being a sister, she learned from Lucille Ryans. Which might explain her amusement in this exact moment. But the laugh fades after a few moments. Thankfully. "Would it help if I told you there's a couple squads worth of ladies who would kick his ass if he was a bad boyfriend?" He has the bad luck of having what amounts to a gaggle of sisters to harass him.

But, she also lets Emily have an out. She stands up from the table, picking up her plate as she does. "Come on. Let's get this done and you can see how you feel about Devon once you see how you feel about everything else." Adjusting to a new lifestyle can be strange, even if it's a good change.

Emily is relieved that the laughter stops before it reaches an endless cackling at her expense. She's had her fill of that for one week. Tension that had started to gather in her is eased when Berlin offers to more or less have her back if Devon did something hurtful, and she smiles, even if it's small. She feels supported, at least.

"Yeah," she agrees uncertainly, hands on the table to help push herself to her feet. After she stands, she takes a moment to get a read on how steady she is… and is surprised at just how confident she feels, physically and otherwise.

She's glad things ended up working out after all. Looks forward to what tomorrow brings, for her health, and otherwise.

Little does she know, there's a text already waiting for her when she gets back home.

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