The Way Out


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title The Way Out
Synopsis Some questions have easier answers than others.
Date December 27, 2019

They say alcohol is supposed to keep you warm, but that’s not really true.

It hasn’t stopped Avi Epstein, though. But he isn’t drinking because of the cold.

The sun has nearly set through the pine trees in the west, where snow-dusted boughs threaten a particularly cold winter. On the battlements of Bannerman’s Castle, looking out toward the river, Avi Epstein feels strangely at peace. Each time the sun sets, he expects to die. But looking across that river, where the US military marshals their forces, it’s hard not to feel a certain finality to this sunset. A denouement to a life of bad choices and even worse mistakes.

Pitching the empty bottle of beer over the wall, Avi flips off the general direction of Colonel Heller’s forces, then slowly makes his way down the stairs from the battlements, through the frigid stone-walled corridors, past rows of closed doors. He passes by his own quarters, coming to stop outside a door closed to everyone. A window on the opposite wall shows the darkness of the eastern horizon, a darkness that is falling on them all.

“Hey,” Avi says quietly with a rap of his knuckles on the door. “You in there?”

There’s nowhere else on the island for Eileen to go where he wouldn’t have already seen her, even though she haunts it like some sort of pale ghost. It’s an analogy that will cease to be figurative in just a few hours, but neither of them have any way of knowing that right now.

Hinges creak and her silhouette appears in the door’s wooden frame, backlit by flickering sunlight as the last few minutes of the day disappear between the trees. She isn’t wearing the nightgown she’ll die in — not yet. (Neither of them can know that, either.) Instead, she’s dressed down in a pair of leggings and a loosely-knit wool sweater two or three sizes too big for the width of her narrow shoulders. No shoes, which might be why he didn’t hear her footfalls before she opened the other.

She tips up her chin, green-eyed stare focused in the general vicinity of her visitor’s face. Eileen has become very adept at pretending she isn’t blind. He can’t even see the bird whose position points her in exactly the right place to look.

Her cheeks seem a little damp, the hollows under her eyes a little more sunken than usual. There’s a sort of sheen to her eyelashes that might be tears.

What? her expression asks.

“I went out and got McDonalds,” Avi says with a whiff of the last bottle of cheap beer from Calvin’s stash on his breath. He did not, in fact, get fast food what with the force field around the island. Also he just shoulders his way in past her as though he were invited. There's a brusqueness to Avi that has always been there, but it's become remarkably pronounced the more comfortable with Eileen he's become. It's as if that surly heap of a man is more who he really is than the bitter asshole she remembers more clearly.

“Nobody saw you at breakfast after you told Rue the news,” Avi continues as he walks inside, keeping his voice down. “Then nobody saw you at lunch. So I was watching out for you at dinner.” He pauses in the middle of her room, not entirely sure of what to do with himself. “I know I can't make you eat,” he admits, looking back and forth between her and the bird, “but I figured maybe…”

Avi looks at the bird again, then Eileen. “Do I talk to you or the bird?”

The door clicks shut behind him.

“It doesn’t matter,” Eileen says, and leaves it at that. Her wolf’s head cane leans against her nightstand, silver handle gleaming in the sunlight for just another moment or two before the horizon swallows it up. She’s already lit candles; as the sky outside turns from orange to purple to black, the room itself remains the same. Only the shadows change. They grow heavier, more oppressive.

She’s glad that Epstein seems more like himself, even if her memories of him before Madagascar have a hostile quality about them that reminds her of the darkness gathering in the room’s corners. As long as his aggression isn’t directed at her, it’s not a problem she needs to worry about.

She has plenty more of those.

“If you’ve come here to change my mind,” she tells him, “you won’t.”

“I came here t’get shitfaced,” Avi says with a toss of his hands into the air in a lazy shrug. “I know you've got something tucked away, n’ nobody else seems t’have considered those provisions.” He looks down to the floor, then over to the candles. “I figure if you won't eat a fucking meal maybe you'll have a drink so you aren't a useless bag of nerves leading an even bigger useless bag of nerves.”

That denigrating tone is something Eileen’s come to recognize as a defensive posturing. A means of keeping something important at a perceived arm’s length, easily dismissed as not actually caring. Except he doesn't have to be here. In this room, in this castle, in this country. Wanted as he may be, an ex-spy of his skill doesn't find much challenge in disappearing. Instead, he's here, offering a drink to a bird.

“If it's whiskey you can have a thimble,” Avi says directly to the bird. “It'd be rude not t’share or whatever.” Much like Gabriel’s anger, Avi’s frustrating demeanor is a piss-poor coping mechanism.

She goes to the nightstand, unstringing a key from a loop around her neck, and pops open the topmost drawer. No thimble—just a squat bottle of gin and two crystalline shot glasses that tinkle cheerlessly when Eileen sets them down on the nearest surface.

The bird, some sort of thrush, leaps from its perch on the back of rocking chair and sails a short distance to join her by the nightstand. It hooks feet into wool of her sweater, cozying up in the space between her collarbone and chin like a small, glittery-eyed familiar.

Like Gabriel and Ethan, her raven must be on the other side of the barrier.

“Childs and I have a contingency plan,” she tells him, uncorking the bottle. A measured tip of her hand fills one shot glass, and then the other. “You won’t like it, but you’ll know what to do when it’s time.”

Avi’s expression isn’t opaque. Worry creases his brow in equal measure with frustration. He voices neither, instead taking the shot glass that looks tiny in his large, calloused hands. “Her plans are shit,” Avi remarks without real commitment behind his criticism. He doesn't drink, not just yet. Instead he lets his monocular stare wander the room before settling back on Eileen. “Yours are too, otherwise we wouldn't be in this mess. So maybe…” Avi reaches over and taps the brim of his shot glass against Eileen’s. “Maybe stop for a bit.” Planning, he means.

With a grunt of protest, Avi settles down in the now unoccupied rocking chair. “Let's play a game,” he says casually. “Kershner and I used to play it in the sandbox. Jensen too. It's called, I just shot you.” Avi makes a finger gun hand at Eileen and a kapow sound with his mouth. “Rules of the game are simple. You point to the player to your right and shoot ‘em and say, I just shot you.” He inspects his drink. “The victim has two choices. They can confess what their biggest regret would be if they died in that moment — and the person who did the shooting has to drink,” of course it's a drinking game. “Or you can pass, but then you've gotta drink.”

Avi motions to Eileen with his drink. “So, you're shot. Bleeding out, not long t’live…” he exhales a soft sigh. “What's your biggest regret?”

Eileen considers the man across from her and the weight of the drink in her hand. As a creature composed entirely of regret, his question is impossible for her to answer. There is no biggest.

It occurs to her that she could tell him this instead, but it would require vulnerability. And vulnerability requires more than just a few fingers of gin. (Or a thimble, if you’re a bird.)

Not without humour, because she’s smiling, she raises her glass in a silent fuck you and knocks it back.

That’s the thing about drinking games: There’s always a way out.

Seven Years Later

Somewhere Below Rochester, NY

There’s always a way out.

Eileen has a few hours left to find it, she thinks. Her clothes aren’t yet fully saturated in her own blood, and she’s still conscious more often than she’s not. Pain makes a good companion for as long as it keeps her alert. Keeps her sharp.

No hallucinations, yet. Just memories ruminating on repeat. That’s a favourable sign.

She rests with her shoulder and head against the door, eyes half-lidded and breathing shallow, either to conserve her energy or because it’s all her body can presently manage. Eileen isn’t sure which, and her morale is already low enough that she lacks any real desire to find out.

Gillian Childs isn’t here tonight. There will be no pulling the same trick twice.

“Epstein,” she tries in a low croak, not for the first time — but possibly the last. The anger in her voice is gone, replaced by a sort of unsteady resignation.

If Avi could hear it, he’d recognize it for what it really is: vulnerability. Turns out gin isn’t always required.

“Please open the door. I really need you.”

He’s been gone a while. The distant rattle and clank of water in pipes is all that’s kept Eileen company. Hard to tell how long a while has actually been, too. By the time she hears something other than water, it feels like it’s been just shy of forever. There’s footsteps, but it isn’t just the heavy and familiar cadence of Avi’s graceless footfalls, but something more tentative too. Eileen can’t see the descent through the bowels of the Bunker, beneath the rusting hardware that was the basement equipment of the power plant back when the dam was still operational. Back when the building was a power plant.

Below the basement are old steam tunnels that still contain water pipes running beneath Rochester. Avi has to navigate by flashlight, there’s no electricity down here. There’s just wet concrete and the ever-present smell of rust. “Just— I need you to trust me,” is Avi’s only request as he reaches the bottom of the concrete stairs, standing in a quarter inch of black water. He turns to shine the flashlight up the stairs, casting the long shadow of his daughter Emily against the stairs.

Please,” Avi says quietly, “you’ve just… gotta trust me. No matter what you see.”

The deeper they descend underground, the harder it is for that any trust to stay in place, but that's a problem Emily keeps to herself. The smell of the place is enough to make her uneasy, the smell of him enough to make her linger a few more steps behind than she might otherwise. Even knowing the knot in her throat she feels is not visible, she tries to swallow it away anyway.

Then she hears the water. Sees it. If she does trust him, she doesn't trust it.

Winter boots pause on the stairwell, and she looks ahead into the dark, uncertainty flickering in her gaze. Avi has asked her to trust him no less than four times since she arrived, since they'd left Devon by the car he’d refused to let her ride up alone in.

It's up to Avi what he decides to see in her expression as she tentatively takes that last step closer without descending into the muck. "If you want me to trust you, you have to tell me what's going on," Emily says carefully. She's worried that he won't hear her with the ambient noise— or that he won't listen otherwise with how he's acting— so she's sure to speak clearly and over it. "Why are we down here? Why couldn't we have talked about this upstairs?"

Eileen’s upper lip curls, flashing pink teeth.

The tips of her fingers seek out the singular sliver of light along the door’s edge, although the gap itself is too narrow for her to peek through. She has to imagine what she’d see instead, and struggles to remember what Emily looked like the last time they were in each other’s company. There had been fireworks. And a different kind of darkness than what she’s entombed in now.

She’s probably still blonde and angular in the way that all successful runway models are. Not enough time has passed for Emily to have grown into her body quite the way that Eileen has. She knows because she sees herself in her. She knows because she was nineteen once, too.

No. Twenty.

Emily would be twenty.

“What they say about leopards and their spots really is true,” her voice purrs rustily from behind the door, punctuated by a wet cough. “Can’t do it yourself, can you? Not here. Not in this world. You fucking user.”

Eileen's voice sounds wrong in Emily's ears, coming from the dark how it does. The hair on the back of her neck raises before she's even processed the content, head lifting, posture stiffening. Her eyes widen and swivel to Avi's instantly.

What the fuck is going on? they demand to know. For all the insistence of her expression, Emily might as well have shouted it.

You shut the fuck up, Nosferatu!” Avi screams drunkenly into the darkness, pointing his flashlight that way too. For a moment Emily gets a glimpse of something in the dark; a cylindrical, rusted thing with pipes coming and going from it. It looks like a furnace. With a metal door on the front. A coal-burning furnace?

But Emily is momentarily blinded as Avi shines the flashlight back at her. “That fucking bitch nearly killed Fransshois,” he slurs, “sshe stabbed him in th’fucking stomach like nine times. This fucking— vampire fuck’s trying t’kill all's us.” Suddenly the bruises on Avi’s forehead and the bandage across his nose start to take on new meaning. This wasn't work-related. “I need you t’make her tell me what’shhappening, before I drop her— her fff-fucking carcass off to the feds.”

Avi takes a few steps back, as if expecting Emily to just follow him. He really must be drunk. But that flashlight swivels back to the boiler. “Make her fucking talk,” Avi barks, “Why’d you try’n kill Fransshois you //dusty cunt!

He’s been drinking.


Neither Emily nor Avi can see it, but Eileen straightens, hand flattening against the door. This changes things, and so her tone transforms too.

“Emily,” she says, shifting her focus from father to daughter. There’s a steeliness Emily has never heard from her before: urgent and hurt. “Open the door, little love. Let me go.”

Avi’s use of the word nearly in relation to killed Francois is not lost on her.

And there he goes, what little composure he had in coaxing her down here gone in a snap. Emily settles her hand on the rusted railing, one foot sliding back. There’s nowhere for it to go but up a step, and she squints in the dark at Avi rather than at what she’s meant to. Bewildered, and suddenly angry as she realizes what her role in this is meant to be, her expression steels. “That’s not. how. this. works. That’s not how any of this works! What the fuck is the matter with you!?”

Now her voice does echo, frustration bleeding from it.

Without looking in the direction of the boiler, she shouts afterward, “Eileen, what the fuck is going on?” She doesn’t move from her position on the step, like it somehow keeps her away from being in the middle of this if she’s behind it. She’s not on either side if she remains here.

That's not Eileen!” Avi screams, his voice ringing off the concrete walls. Even as he shouts he storms over through the shallow water, boots splashing noisily until he's next to the boiler. “This is just some fucking life-sucking monster,” he exclaims while kicking the door, “wearing her fucking face!

The beam of Avi’s flashlight bobs with manic fury through the dark. It sweeps back up to Emily. “Eileen died Emily. She died in front of me ten fucking years ago and some— some— sssshome part of her lived on in Sibyl,” who Avi provides no context on. “And this fucking ghoul,” again he kicks the door, “wanted t’fucking take her from me!

Avi spotlights Emily. The shadow she casts is dark and tall, spread large on the wall behind her. “The only fucking person who gave a shit about me, when I was in that fucking mud, when Gray was— with his fucking fingers in my fucking head! And this fucking vampire wanted to kill the last thing left of her!” Avi kicks the door again like a wild animal. The flashlight sweeps away from Emily, shines down in the water and refracts up to the concrete ceiling.

Why’d you try’n kill Francois you //stupid fucking piece of shit!?” Avi screams, his voice cracking. The flashlight beam whips back. “Make her tell the truth!” In the moments Emily can see Avi’s face she doesn't see anger. Not really. It's there, like the floor is there under the water. But she wouldn't call the floor concrete. She'd call it watery and Avi isn't angry.

He's heartbroken.

Eileen waits.

Avi’s boot connecting with the door is like far-off thunder in her ears; she weathers it until the cacophony eventually stops and the crack appears wider than it did a few moments ago. She could stick her fingers through now, if she wanted.

Doesn’t, though. She likes the bones in her hands intact.

“Should have let Lowell have her,” she says when she’s sure that he’s finished and catching his breath. “That’s the real tragedy. All that hurt, all that suffering she endured while you rotted away in solitary. Always moving, trusting nobody. Just like you taught.”

She leans back until her shoulders are flush against the wall. Her hand goes to the gunshot wound under her sweater, sending an involuntary shudder through her frame at the same time a shaky hiss passes between her teeth.

“You know,” she offers, and she hopes Emily can read between the lines, “I could pretend. We look the same, sound the same. You could get drunk and I’d let you rest your head in my lap. Tell you all the things you always wanted to hear from her but didn’t.”

The tips of her fingers are starting to feel cold. Using her blood to warm them doesn’t seem to help. “Things like: You’re doing a great job, Avi. I’m really happy you’re here. I don’t know what I’d do without you. I just love you so much.”

Avi's loud denial is what tips the scales, luring Emily away from her distance. She takes a step toward the light, and her shadow deepens on the wall before the flashlight sweeps away. A tendril of disgust curls in her chest when she steps into the water, one she tries to ignore as she treads the shallow darkness of it. She shudders when the light swivels away and for a second she's not sure what she's standing in, or if there's any unexpected obstacles hiding in it on her path to Avi and the boiler.

Physical ones. Unlike the other kind she's running into in trying to formulate what to say.

It's not out of a conscious desire to buy time that she takes an agonizingly slow time to close the gap. The kind of ache listening to the two of them gives her is sharp and inciting as much as it is dull and robs of her of words. She's lost in the loop of it, until suddenly she's not, some limit she wasn't aware of reached.

"That's enough." she demands, her voice shaking.

It might sound like it's Eileen she's asking to stop, but her hand hooks around Avi's elbow, trying to get him away from the door. The reality is it's spoken somewhere between the two of them. The fact is, she'll never know enough about what happened between them— and listening to them torture each other with their regrets won't fucking solve anything. But something was wrong here, now, and maybe she could at least help that. Even if her hand was trembling now like her voice had.

She takes in a breath, willing it to hold her up. Her grip tightens on Avi's arm and she pulls his elbow to try and make him at least look at her if he won't leave the boiler. "I fucking told you, but you wouldn't listen to me. You ran out. Eileen Gray is dead, and your friend, the one who cares about you, is in that…" Her head swivels to the bizarre case he's trapped the object of his torment inside, brief enough to confirm she's clueless as to "whatever that thing is."

It would hurt her more to have broken Eileen's trust if she weren't already hurting from hearing whatever point the Englishwoman was trying to make. “If you could both just — stop trying to emotionally murder each other for five fucking seconds…” Emily seethes, shoving Avi back roughly. “Maybe we fucking do what both of you want.”

Bullshit!” Avi barks back, yanking his arm from Emily but in the same strong motion over-compensating so much that he tips over and splashes down in the black water. Avi coughs, slamming the flat of his palm in the shallow, ice cold water. “You were fucking lied to!” Avi gropes for a rusted handrail, pulling himself up out of the muck. His clothes are stained black wherever the water touched. The flashlight lays half-submerged in the water, sending rippling waves of diffuse light up from the murk.

“She held a fucking gun to my head!” Avi shouts at the hallway, for all that he's staring at nothing but darkness. His face glistens in the dim light. “She's a blood-sucking monster, she's fucking Volken all over again and she's manipulated you! That's what they do — they get in your head and— and— ” it's only once Avi turns back to the boiler that Emily sees something by way of his bunched up jacket. A gun tucked in the back of his pants.

“Francois’ fucking blood is all over the concrete floor upstairs, Emily. I had to call Teo and tell him he might not make it!” He turns back to Emily, reaching behind his back. “Don't you try’n tell me that's her!

On the other side of the boiler door, Eileen is silent. Eileen is still. Emily has betrayed her secret, although it seems not to matter.

A part of her that wasn’t worried before is beginning to worry now. There’s always supposed to be a way out. And if it isn’t the truth…

Emily's hand flies back to her face, forearm pressed over her mouth and nose as Avi goes down. God, the smell. Her feet start to shift to bring her toward him, but all movement she might have is arrested when she sees he's armed. The words she means to say still boil, but he’s flailing to his feet. So, she waits.

But then he starts to reach back. Something slides into place and her words finally spill forth with force, but not anger.

"Listen to me," Emily implores him, the dim light reflecting off her eyes dancing as she looks between both of his. "She fucking saved you when Pure Earth jumped you. Please, god, you gotta fucking remember, Dad. She was at the hospital. She was there with Richard. She's not Eileen Gray." She looks back to the stairs they'd come down for just a moment, her hand falling before her in a bid for calm when she turns back to him. "I don't know what fucking happened upstairs, but please…"

Emily shakes her head, the action barely visible in the dark. "Don't." she pleads, worry and fear lacing her voice. She's worried for his safety. For her safety. For Eileen's safety. Don't pull out the gun. Please.

“Let him.”

This, most unhelpfully, from Eileen.

“It’s the only way he’s going to believe you.” She turns her head, neck bent, and coughs into her shoulder. Or maybe she’s laughing. It’s difficult for Emily to know what that sound means, except that it’s taking an exceptional amount of effort because it ends in a reedy wheeze.

The hand under her sweater makes a fist, trying to will the feeling back into her extremities.

“Dying like this feels fffffucking terrible. The birds were quicker.”

Eileen’s permission doesn't negate Emily's demand. Avi’s hand stills, fingers unwind from the grip, arm slacks. He doesn't even realize the thought isn't his own in spite of how familiar this kind of psychic manipulation should be after his time with Sylar. Avi’s teeth clench, a huff of breath bursts out through his teeth, the steam of it silvery in the muted light. Avi’s brows come together again, his mouth curls back into a grimace of gnashed teeth. He works his jaw open and closed, looking from Emily to the submerged flashlight and back again.

I never told you about that,” Avi breathily exhales those words. He never told her about what he's always assumed was a hallucination brought on by severe head trauma. He breathes heavily again, like a frustrated dog without enough energy to bark, just whuffing huskily. “She can't be— it's not— fucking— ” The incongruity of Emily’s truth and Avi’s suspicion juxtaposed against the color of Francois’ blood is unreconcilable.

Turning back to the boiler, Avi sucks in a sharp and shaky breath. Emily can see his hands trembling. Maybe from the cold, maybe not. “Make her tell the truth,” Avi reiterates, though it sounds so much more desperate this time. Pleading. As if for all his worth he wants to believe his daughter, but every fiber of his being is screaming get your gun out.

When Emily feels the plea she makes pass from herself to her father, feels him accept it as much as struggle with it, her shoulders slope downward with subtle relief though her hand remains held. "Didn't it feel impossible when you found Sibyl? When you realized what had happened?" She listens to him in kind as he listens to her— but she also listens to Eileen just on the other side of the door. Closer, she can hear better what hadn't sounded right to her from afar. Closer like this, she can hear the airiness in her voice until she coughs.

That sound, almost like a rattle.

Avi wanted answers, and Eileen wanted out. The door has to happen for both of those things to pass. Emily turns her head to the boiler, the hand still lifted moving finally. "I will." she tells him, and she yanks hard on the latch, metal screeching before scratchy groans of rust and hulk are pulled aside.

The light is underwater still, making it difficult to see by. But she can hear now more than before the sound of Eileen's breathing, can see her shape slumped. Any promise to demand answers of her is put on hold as Emily’s eyes widen.

She knows the Englishwoman’s already been speaking the truth, even if it’s not the one Avi wanted to hear.

Emily blocks the doorway, hand outstretched to Eileen’s to help her up.

“I can’t,” aren’t the words Eileen expected she’d say upon being granted her freedom, but there they are. And they’re the truth.

She extends both her legs in front of her instead. In spite of everything, it feels good to stretch, feels good to pretend like she needs just another minute or two to limber back up so she can rise under her own power.

Even in the strange, dappled half-light of the basement, it doesn’t take Emily very long to determine that this isn’t going to happen. If what Avi says is true, some of the blood she’s covered in probably belongs to Francois, but there’s still enough of her own mixed in to have saturated the Englishwoman’s hair and clothes, overpowering the smell of rust and stagnant water.

It’s in her saliva when she spits, too. Black as the stains on her father’s clothes.

“Sorry,” she adds, then. It isn’t clear whether she’s apologizing to Emily for waving off her hand, or to Avi for— everything else. “My fault. The rain smelled better outside. It does something when it hits the pavement. There’s a word for it, but I can’t remember what it is.

Sorry. I’m sorry.”

Jaw trembling, Avi’s throat works up and down as his breathing comes in unsteady bursts. It's hard to make out his expression in the dark, what with the light and the murky black grime smeared down his face. Steam rises and falls in plumes from Avi’s mouth in the cold subbasement. His jaw works from side to side and he doesn't realize that he's walking forward until he's gingerly squeezed past Emily.

That's when Avi takes out the gun

and sets it on top of a flat sill above the boiler door.

Avi reaches inside the boiler, disappearing shoulder deep with one arm while the other hooks under Eileen’s legs at the knee. She might as well be a stray cat for all that she weighs, and as Avi leans back up straight he has her back in the crook of one arm and angles his chest just so to support the weight of her head. Swallowing audibly he looks down at Emily, and it's only here and now that she can see the clean streaks in the black on his cheeks and face where the muck has run away.

“Go call your sister,” is all Avi has to say now.

Emily's brow furrows when Eileen doesn't take her hand. She'd wanted out, hadn't she? That's the annoyingly illogical thought she has as her hand slowly curls closed. When she sees the dark stains for what they are, her eyes abruptly sting with moisture.

No. No, no, no. "We didn't—" she starts to stammer. "Not everything — not for it to… like this." There's no fight when Avi silently makes space for himself, pushing her back in the process. She can't speak as he takes the gun out, can't be relieved as he sets it aside, and doesn't know what to feel when he finally pulls Eileen up.

Because she's dying.

When he turns back and looks at her, her eyes meet his, pleading again for him to have an answer— any way to make this better. In the moments she'd ever been most scared when she was a child, when he had been present, he'd had answers. Not miracles, but… answers.

The direction he provides is heeded silently, without breath, in the form of a sprint back toward the concrete steps. Emily finally clears her nose, swallowing down a sob that had tried to choke its way out, when her lungs burn. "Devon!" she yells up the stairs. Who knows if he can hear her. She'll shout until he does, though. She reaches the top of the steps and throws her weight against the door, yelling as loud as she can. "Devon, get a medical kit!"

Her feet threaten to slip on the tile as she pulls her phone free from her jacket pocket, looking down. No bars yet.

She runs until she finds them, yelling for help all the while, Nathalie's number predialed into her phone.

Eileen tucks her head under Avi’s chin. His body is warm and familiar. Because he doesn’t say anything else, she doesn’t either; she channels her energy into remaining conscious for as long as she’s able, which is roughly the amount of time it takes for Emily to successfully place her call, and for Avi to crest the top of the stairs.

He knows she’s out when the hand that had been clutching his forearm finally relaxes.

Death is slower. Avi has seen enough of it to know they have at least as much time as the paramedics gave Francois: Not much, but enough.

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