The Why Of It


elisabeth_icon.gif emily_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title The Why of It
Synopsis Emily stops in at Raytech to ask Zachery why he held a previous job.
Date July 29, 2019

Raytech NYCSZ Branch Office

The dinosaur playing secretary today made it easy for Emily Epstein to sit in the lobby relatively obscurely. Sure, she was sitting waiting for a long time, but surely she'd spoken to someone by now and had been helped.

Both of these things were patently untrue, but with it being lunch hour, there were a good number of people coming and going. And while she hadn't been helped, she was waiting for someone in particular, looking up every time the elevator deposited a new wave of people, every time the door to the street opened.

She tries not to linger on the similarities between this situation and one recently imposed on her. This was different anyway, Emily tells herself when the thought creeps up on her again, unwanted as it was the last few times.

She'd actually wait and not leave today (metaphorically) empty-handed. Today she was waiting until she saw Zachery Miller.

And as if by a miracle, a Zachery Miller walks in from the world outside.

Or perhaps it's by mundanity, because Zachery Miller does this every day - he simply has too much energy to have lunch at work like some people. Some people who doesn't like to waste time and/or money. He's just coming back from lunch elsewhere, a binder under his arm, car keys shoved into a pocket with one hand while the other holds a phone against the side of his head. "Mm-hm," he makes a noise of confirmation to whoever's on the other end of the line, absentminded gaze downward, "listen, no, it's only, ah- two days a week, three at most. Hold on — Sera?"

Having stepped further in, he finally looks up and across the desk, only to have his eye meet the lifeless orbs of the raptor. "— Fuck, SHIT," he spits out in a hiss, sounding somehow more British than usual for the sharpness of it, and instantly dropping his phone, "Okay. Shit. Some fucking day. I'll be used to it. Some day."

It's not been the best day. Elisabeth too is on the phone, exiting the elevator toward the lobby. "McElroy, I seriously don't give a shit. I don't have the manpower to back up every foot chase the uniforms get into, and Ivanov is not your personal go-to guy. You tell Grant if he has a problem with it, take it up with Wilson. Or, you know, tell him to piss up a rope for all I care. … Yeah, no. He's your Captain, you deal with his bullshit." The faint grin that quirks her lips has an edge to it. "Yeah, ain't it great? Some things really don't change, do they? Have fun." She touches the bluetooth in her ear and hangs up, breathing out an annoyed sound.

And then spots the effing dinosaur receptionist. God damn she hates that thing! Mental note to come in the back entrance otherwise Aura may lose her shit. Again.

And then she spots familiar faces in the room. It's going to be one of those days. She can see it. "Doc," she greets Zachery. "Emily." She pauses, studying the younger woman. "Everything okay?" Because when Em shows up, there is an automatic tendency to assume that it's Devon-related.

It's like it happens in slow motion. Or at least, to Emily, it feels like it does. She sees Zachery actually walk in, starts to come to her feet, and stalls when she sees he's on the phone. Maybe now isn't a good time. So she'd consider leaving, making the quickest possible escape, when he's startled out of his skin by the non-human receptionist.

A sardonic laugh escapes her at his accidental jumpscare. She simply can't help it, even if her brow twitches into a sympathetic furrow at his plight. But then she's given away her position, hand halfway to her mouth to belatedly block her snicker, feet planted on the ground. She resigns herself to it, to trying to strike up some kind of conversation, when Elisabeth appears out of right field. If talking were another sports-related activity, she sort of — bunts it.

"Yeah," Emily states, trying and failing not to sound awkward about it. "No, it's — everything's fine." she swears, both at once lying and not. She's now firmly back in the mental position where she's re-decided this was a horrible idea, wants to run, but isn't sure how to make a clean getaway.

Though the laugh was heard, it isn't until Elisabeth says Emily's name that Zachery pivots to look at her. Still a little bewildered, and now the binder falls, too. His attention is drawn down to it, then to the phone - still on the floor, whoops. "Liz," the name leaves him sort of stiffly, like he's not used to calling her that just yet, though the next one to leave him does so much more easily — "Emily. What are you doing here?" If he's ashamed of his actions, he's hiding it well. Just another day at Raytech, maybe.

He kneels down to pick up his phone and the binder both, fidgeting for a moment before just… disconnecting the call with the press of a button. Later.

A single brow quirks upward at Zachery's reaction. "I'm going to start getting a complex if you keep on acting like I'm terrifying, Doc," Elisabeth quips lightly. "You should take a page from Emily's book — I'm not so scary." She winks at the teen with a grin. (No Emily, she has not forgotten that you got a free shot in. She's just really good-natured about it.)

Emily winces as she sees Zachery hang up his call. Now she's definitely a bother. She shakes her head, starting to reply, "Nothing…" and realizing that a) it's an awful, potentially untrue answer, and b) that Liz just threw out a hell of a callback. She winces, looking even more uncomfortable than before.

At least until she takes in a breath, shoving it down and putting on a stern expression more in line with the face she normally wears. "I was wondering if you had a minute, actually," she manages out, direct as she can possibly be about the matter in her current state. Only after she's navigated her own situation does she turn Liz's way, brow lifting in a small, silent inquiry as to what she's doing here.

As if Elisabeth claiming that she's 'not so scary' is up for debate, Zachery meets it with a cant of his head - though a wry smirk joins it as if he is at least somewhat self-aware. Perhaps it's best to withhold his comment.

When he finally turns to Emily properly again, tucking the binder back under an arm, he seems momentarily confused as to whether she was talking to him or not. When raised eyebrows imply that it dawns on him that she was, he answers flatly, "You know, last time we spoke, you ran away so fast I thought you might do a - whole thing," he raises a hand for his index finger to go 'round in a circular motion once, "around the earth before you made it back again. Did you bring me any souvenirs?"

The look Emily shoots her makes Elisabeth grin still further, though the silent query brings up a momentary flash of … something. A hurt or a regret or … something. It's gone fast. "You, uhm… you're welcome to poke your head in and see Aurora if you'd like. When you're done with Zachery," Elisabeth offers mildly. There's unconsciously defensive body language involved in the invitation, as if she expects that it'll be rebuffed. But she offered it — the little girl liked Emily.

Wrinkling her nose at the man in question, though, she comments, "She doesn't run. She tactically retreats so as to determine the best angle from which to protect her people." Because the last time, so far as she knows, is the time when Devon's situation was being discussed.

"Yeah," Emily acknowledges Zachery's recollection of the event a bit hotly. "It's kind of about all that." She manages to resist actively cringing at the memory of how poorly she handled that event, her posture braced. Not defensive, nor offensive, but unmoving from her spot. Liz's intervention on her behalf brings her to pause, gaze dropping for a moment. After all, it feels a bit undeserved, but she's not going to rebuke it.

She glances up at Zachery out of the corner of her eye after collecting herself, voice tempering out. "I've thought about it plenty. Not sure if that counts for a souvenir or nor, but there you go," she says quietly. For some reason, she notices the velociraptor and its dead-eyed stare precisely at that moment, and her gaze stutters between it and Zachery before refocusing hard on him. "So do I get a solid yes-no response or should I just jump right into it at the risk of being …" rude? Intrusive?

There's a few different ways that sentence could end.

Despite his entrance being painted with a shade of on edgeness, Zachery's own posture is now mostly relaxed. Oblivious to any goings-on between Emily and Elisabeth, he shoots a brief glance between the two and then clamps a hand onto the side of his neck in thought.

For whatever reason, a chuckle of a breath leaves him. "That depends." He leans a little closer to Emily, lowering his voice a little as if Elisabeth is not right there and can still easily hear his question. It's more pretend than actual attempt. "Is this a lobby sort of conversation, or a… you-walk-with-me-back-to-the-lab conversation?"

Zachery's question is a good one, one that Emily only hesitates on answering given the invitation she was offered by Elisabeth — and still hasn't answered. Parting ways makes it hard to come back again together later. Then again, it's not like she doesn't know where the apartment is. Her look is a little more pained than it should be as a result as she admits, "Definitely not a lobby conversation."

Offering the two a small smile, Elisabeth simply nods to the fact that Emily had a reason for coming in. "I'll let you two talk. You know where we are, Emily. The door's open, okay?" Whenever the younger woman would like. The fact that Em is prickly young woman doesn't seem to bother Liz at all. "Zach, take good care of her, please." If he doesn't, well…. Elisabeth is rabidly protective of her own. Se waves to them both and sighs heavily as her phone buzzes AGAIN. "What now, McElroy?" Apparently the person on the other end is gonna get the sharp side of the audiokinetic.

There's a carefulness to the way Zachery eyes Liz while she speaks. It's in the way his movements halt, his Office Smile makes a brief appearance when she excuses herself, and in the way he watches her go when she does.

He may work here, but to say he looks at ease about it may be a different matter. Some of the tension falls away when he takes a deep breath in, takes the binder out from under his arm, and starts walking. "Come on," He calls over his shoulder, more calmly despite a modicum of forced friendliness threading his tone, "It's a short way there, and it should be empty at this hour."

It's odd to be walking back through these halls with any sense of familiarity to them … and yet here they are. The handful of times Emily's been beyond the sanctity of the front lobby grows in number with each passing month, it feels like. Thankfully, it still feels odd to be doing it. She doesn't know what she'd do if this felt at all normal. To her, it feels like the short walk is made eternally longer by silence, and she finds herself needing to break it. "How long have you been working here, anyway?" she asks, feigning calm and nonchalance. It seems to be working, though — trying to make smalltalk eases her nerves. Fake it til you make it, she guesses.

"'Working' is a bit of a strong word for what I did here up until a month or so ago. I've still got the foil on - you know, the… when you get a new fridge, or phone or…" Zachery's ramble of an answer while he makes his way to more a more private place to talk isn't necessarily more smooth, but at least he brings it out there with gusto, gesturing vaguely instead of properly ending his sentence.

His attention remains up ahead, like he's afraid he'll miss the door if he doesn't keep looking for it, and soon enough, his gait picks up just a little when it comes into view. "There we go, right here." He might not hold it open, but - at least he goes ahead and makes sure it's empty as he suspects? Which it is. Score.

Emily exhales short through her nose, a silent, simple laugh. She gets it. "Yeah, I don't blame you," is all she says to the notion of not getting comfortable too quickly. It's even made without any jabs at Raytech's expense, not that she suspects a watergun will descend from the ceiling and shoot at her if she did. (Would it, though? Can never tell around here.) There's a beat, one made as she turns the next question over before asking it, nothing like hesitation in her tone. Just … care for the topic. "Do you like it here?"

When he pulls the door open, she quickly makes the last few steps to follow in after him, very little care being given for what room they actually end up in as long as it's a quiet one, giving Zachery all the leeway to have whatever kind of reply he deems necessary to the topic she wants to bring up. She brings her arms into a fold, standing just off the side of the door so it can at least close behind them both.

Meanwhile, Zachery proceeds further in. The lab sits quietly, for the most part, save for the buzz of small fans and idle machinery. His answer is slightly delayed, while he pulls out a stool — and then pauses only to pull out another once he rounds the counter they're stood at.

After he sits down, he finally answers "You know what, there… should be a better answer to that than just… 'I don't know'." His tone is deliberate and his words slow, his expression stuck somewhere in between amusement and confusion. The furrowed brow that the latter brings on lets up a little, though, as a forced smile turns into more sincere grin. "Tell you what, though, it beats being an orderly."

Emily follows along after slowly, coming to stand by the proffered stool rather than actually sit on it yet. At his answer, she can't help but smile herself. The honesty in it gives her some relief, and she can't help but sympathize it. She felt the same way when she started at SESA, and she's only started forming a more solid opinion over the last month. Her gaze flickers as she reflects the compounding complications, the personal tragedies that triggered it.

But that's not what she's here to talk about. Her eyes refocus as she pulls herself back to the moment.

"That's… what I wanted to talk with you about, actually," Emily admits, her posture poised as she glances at him. "Why were you an orderly?" A 'just' or 'only' goes unspoken, but it might as well have been said the way her tone lifts in its absence. Her brow furrows. The question is the kind that obviously is the prelude for another like it, one closer to the heart of the matter. But it's there she chooses to start with.

"Why shouldn't I have been?" Zachery fires back, pulling the binder up onto the counter in front of him, and opening it to start pulling out sheets of paper from between plastic sheets. "It's a necessary job, isn't it? And I'd only worked there a short time, still."

Nothing about this isn't honest, but the tension from before has returned to him somewhat, eye averted downward as he collects the sheets into two groups in front of him — one with written notes, the other turned upside down as he pulls them out. Maybe drawings? It's hard to catch amidst nimble fingers making quick work.

"Yeah, it's a necessary job, but—" Emily shakes her head, taking another step forward so she's closer to him now, more by his side than before. "Zachery, what you can do is amazing. You know that, right?" she asks, a little bewildered he's either not seeing it himself, or not actively capitalizing on it. "You can see so much with just a touch, you could…" She squares her shoulders down, trying not to get too passionate about it. "It's not like you're still there, still doing the orderly thing. Necessary job or not, you saw you needed to move on, didn't you? Saw there was something better for you, and…" she hesitates, mouth pulling into a line as she dares a direct look at him.

"You could be a freaking triage artist. You could use your ability to see what's wrong with people better than most medical science could," she ventures. Her brow arches as she challenges, "Am I wrong?"

She unfolds her arms, one hand held up loosely. "You saw what they did to Devon just by shaking his hand. You brushed me and you saw—"

A blink is what comes instead of additional words. Emily pushes through the hitch in her voice, muttering, "I don't even know what, but you knew," she snaps her fingers. "just like that." Hand closing, she more cautiously asks, "So it just … I get moving on, but why would someone like you be an orderly in the first place?"

Few things leave Zachery in the time that Emily is talking. There is nothing in the ways of acknowledgement. His movements slow, the binder is closed. Once Emily stops speaking, he finally looks at her, fixing her with a stare that completely lacks any of the mirth he was showing before. Genuine, nonetheless, if a little intense.

"You're not wrong." His answer comes in a tone that borders on cold, as he leans back on the stool as if to regard Emily in a new light. "I've been a surgeon. A good one, too. I've given lectures, been looked up to. Saved lives. Met proud parents of those I've mentored. None of them needed to know I could do what I did, and to what extent. It would not have made the results of what I did more or less meaningful."

He pauses, squaring back his shoulders, before letting the muscles relax again. "It doesn't matter, now. That was a long time ago. Irrelevant." His gaze darts off to the side for a moment, then back down again, as he starts to re-sort the paper notes, seemingly in no particular order. "Not many places will give a position with opportunity for growth to a war criminal."

Hearing everything Zachery has been frustrates Emily for some reason. She hears everything he's been, one after the other, and it grows more and more grandiose — more prestigious. So why, why—


That's why.

The tension in her expression fades. She slowly stands upright again, her hand lowering, coming to rest against the side of the table.

She doesn't slide a step back.

Entire seconds pass while she processes. The beginning. The middle. The present. Ties them all back together, straightens the pieces out until they all line up chronologically. Her brow twitches when it's done, gaze darting from Zachery's hands back to his face. "But Sasha," Emily manages, her hand tightening into something vaguely like a fist as it rests on the table. If Sasha could still be a doctor after all that, she means to say. But then she realizes she doesn't have a clue just what it is Zachery has done.

Has no idea if the crimes even compare.

"Sasha?" Zachery asks, almost offhandedly, as if he's got more interesting things to be thinking about. Then, as the name and association clicks, he says as if in a correction correct rather than addition, "Oh. Kozlow."

He chuckles, but a little too much like he's closing his fist very tightly around some barbed wire while he does it. "Maybe he had better PR. Maybe he did less damning things than I did - or maybe he did much more of them, but he did them in a more interesting fashion. I'd argue for him having friends in high places but from what I know of the man, we make friends in more or less the same way. Which is to say, we generally don't."

On that note, he looks back up, bringing a hand up to his jaw to rub at the ever-present stubble of late. "Emily. Why are we having this conversation?"

She wishes she could remember at the moment. The answer doesn't immediately come, as a result.

Unable to conjure the philosophy behind it properly, she decides to take a stab at it anyway, even vaguely. "Partly so I could say thank you, partly so I could say sorry." Emily eventually shakes her head, knowing there was a better reason, something else behind it, but it seems to have evaporated with learning what she did. It felt silly to say she just hoped he knew what he was capable of, the good it could potentially do.

Her shoulders cringe upward in a shrug as she acknowledges the shallow nature of her response. She adds, "Because I didn't know, and I wondered." Jaw working for a moment, like the very act of saying as much has caused her strain, her gaze drops again, absently taking in the binder. "I guess I thought if you didn't know the good you could do, that I could…"

Brow furrowing, Emily admits in a quiet voice, "I don't know, help you see it."

"Good people do good things, Emily. I…"

Zachery's words falter, much to his dismay. Something within him twists his face up into a look of frustration, gaze darting off to the side again like Emily is too bright to look at directly. Even if he had been studying her face a few seconds ago.

The binder offers no answers. What notes stick out from being mindlessly reshuffled contain measurements, numbers, hastily scrawled proper nouns and bits in what looks like it might be Latin. He gathered them back up and, together with the second pile of overturned sheets, slips them back between plastic coverings.

He tries again, after a slow intake of air and a much more hasty exhale, like it might have been a laugh if something a little darker hadn't already been simmering in his mind. "I'd have liked to see you try."

It's her turn to look like she might laugh, but also looks a little apprehensive. Cautious. Careful what you ask for, Zachery. Emily brushes the feeling away with a shake of her head. "Stick around long enough, and I still might."

She brokers no argument against only good people doing good things, because it's a fight she's not likely to win at the moment. With him? Maybe not ever.

After he puts away the paper stuffings back in its binder, her gaze lifts again. "So I know I freaked out before, because you yelled and all," implying she feels she made the only logical choice, even if it was a silly one, "but…" Her hand slides off the table, arm coming to fold over her stomach with her hand hanging off her side. "When you looked before, I know it was an accident, but can you tell me what you saw?" Emily sounds hesitant. Knowing and not knowing the depths of the healing Berlin — Nathalie had performed for her was a Shrödinger's situation. Couldn't be impacted by side effects if you didn't know about them, right?

There's a scoff that leaves Zachery - as low energy as possible - at the mention of him yelling. He pulls both of his arms on top of the binder and folds them loosely over one another. The question almost seems like it flies right by him. This effect may be strengthened when he answers it with:

"… I should have brought some coffee with me. Maybe the fun kind."

But there's barely any pause before he looks at Emily directly again, and says, "I don't need to touch you to see it. The contact helps, it… clears things up, reveals what I may not have even been looking for in the first place. It's the difference between stepping into a living room to look around at it, and being able to open up a book which catalogues each item stuck in the shag carpet and under the couch, individually and all at once."

His eyes narrow, elbows sliding further forward as he fixes his stare on Emily's face with an inkling of fascination returned to him. And… maybe just a hint of enjoyment in the way his crow's feet deepen just slightly. "Are you telling me you don't know what's under your own couch?"

The explanation is enlightening, descriptive … a little uncomfortable, maybe, for all that it is interesting to hear how things work for other people and their abilities. Which makes Emily balk at his question.

"No," she's forced to admit, the answer sounding defensive lest she be made to feel vulnerable for offering it up. "To be honest, I don't any more. After I was healed, I don't know everything that changed, aside from the obvious. It's—"

Emily pauses, ensuring she has full control of her voice before she informs, "It's been a source of anxiety for me. I don't know shit about the thing that healed me. If everything's really gone and will never come back, or if it just reset things and I'll have to go through onset and diagnosis and relapses and progression all over again." Her words are spoken evenly, but even saying them brings a pain behind her eyes.

"I didn't ask too many questions at the time, because I didn't want to look the gift horse of a miraculous fucking healing right in the mouth, you know?" she asks, strain coming into her tone. She probably should have followed up for clarification, she realizes, but something held her back about the doubt it would imply, in her eyes. "But… if it's still there, and it's something I need to prepare for— you know, like, not throw away my crutches and chair prepare for…"

"I think I'd like to know." Emily finally remembers to say.

"You were in a wheelch-… no, of course you were." A deliberate lowering of Zachery's voice goes a fair way to giving away the fact that despite the fact that he should have known, the partial question leaves him like he can't imagine it. A wave of a gesture implies he doesn't need an answer, either, and he rises from his seat to take the binder with him.

When he continues to speak, searching the shelves on a wall for a spot to leave his things, it is matter-of-factly dry in delivery. "I would sell - donate - whichever. I can't tell you if you'll be as healthy as you are now, forever. But for the foreseeable future? I have no reason to suspect that you'll return to the…" he pauses, his back turned as he reaches to set the binder on the shelves just so, "… ravaged mess you once were. Nor Elizabeth. Nor Richard."

Excuse you?

Those are the words that would leave Emily, if she weren't so taken aback at the names that followed Zachery's poorly considered descriptor for her previous state of being. Instead:

"What the fuck?"

Ironically enough the exact words that had left him when he discovered that same piece of information.

This is just as shocking to her as the news Zachery is a war criminal, to be honest. When would that have happened? Elisabeth had only been back for about six months, and for all she knew, hadn't suffered an injury requiring healing like that. Did she even know Nathalie?

So, before?

That's the only thing she can think of, at least, as strange a concept that is to her personally. She knew the Black had been held by Kazimir Volken previously, so it's obvious that the White should have… Then she thinks harder about it. Right. she remembers abruptly, the same way Zachery had overlooked details of here, accidentally. Yeah, I think that report mentioned it, too.

Emily's shoulders sag as the flurry of thought dies down. "Thanks," leaves her with some confusion. "I think."

To Zachery, there are few things this specific flavour of entertaining. Watching someone be in the middle of having a lot of thoughts all at once most certainly is. So, when he turns around at the exclamation of confusion, his initial surprise at the question blooms relatively quickly into something much more pleased, idle grin and all.

"… Ah." Is the first noise to leave him, rather than the 'you're welcome' it probably should be. He angles his head to center Emily in his vision more properly.

"Maybe I was wrong. Maybe you don't know as much as I thought you might." If his tone is anything to go by, this is a wonderful thing indeed.

Emily does not seem to think it's wonderful, by any means, but not being treated as if she has context she clearly lacks would indeed be a positive thing. She gives Zachery a look too tired to be exasperated. "I don't know shit about fuck all," she tells him flatly. "I used to think I did by keeping up with the news, but there's an entire world paradigm flying right under the radar that everybody seems to know about or have interacted with, unless you haven't, in which case—" Now she's exasperated, making a wild gesture with one hand that could probably be summed up as an expression of well, fuck you, then.


"I keep finding myself stuck on the fucking edges of it without realizing it, but I don't really know what the fuck I'm doing." She's not sure where the burst of overly-honest energy is coming from, but she doesn't feel the need to hold it back at the moment. Fuck, Zachery had just confessed he's a war criminal after all. What's a few more secrets aired into ether? "One minute I'm just trying to figure out how I'm going to talk to the girl I thought might've been my sister, the next I'm calling fucking Etienne St James, my best friend gets turned into a hummingbird, Devon dies, but then he comes back to life because of Adam fucking Monroe, who who the fuck is that guy anyway, because I sure don't know except he's suddenly fucking everywhere and might want to destroy the world or something."

She ends it all with another swipe of her hand through the air, still just as frustrated as before.

Emily immediately looks apologetic.

There was of course no point to that rant, maybe.

"The point is," she clarifies, hoping to not be shut down. "Don't assume I have any idea what I'm dealing with. I'm making this all up as I go along, and I barely know how to deal with it most days. I never know if anything's really a good thing, or if it comes with strings, or if it's just a flat-out lie that'll burst in time."

Emily pauses, the words suddenly heavy. "So thank you, for giving me one less thing to worry about." still somehow sounds bitter.

The more words that come out of Emily's mouth, the more Zachery seems to light up with something he doesn't appear capable of subduing completely, despite trying. Whatever he's seeing in Emily with his compromised vision is clearly amusing, even if… that's not all that's playing on his face. Maybe it's sympathy that keeps him from just simply laughing. Who's to say.

For a little while, he simply listens. There are no interruptions. His amble forward to close some of the distance between them is slow and measured, and when he's a few paces away, he slides a hand onto the cool countertop nearby, leans on it with one shoulder propped up, and waits until the thank you seems to be enough of a cue for him to speak.

"All right. No more assuming." The look he gives her carries the same amusement, still, though little of it makes its way into his actual voice. That, he tries to keep steady, calm, perhaps to meet her own note of seriousness. "I can't see everything. But if you'd like, we can set an appointment for you to get some blood work done, to settle those nerves." Punctuated by an expectant look.

The look is met with a hard glance out of the corner of Emily's eye. A beat of consideration. A subtle shake of her head. "It's done," she says in a tone that tries to make the matter final. "I'll take it. The sort of stuff you'd need to…" she trails off, a distance in her gaze before she hastily covers it over by saying, "The answer I've got now is good enough."

She looks up more directly at him. "So thank you, like I said."

There is a narrowing of that one functional eye, but only for a brief moment. Then, Zachery pulls away from the counter and heads for a door — not the one leading out, notably, but another. "Then let's call this here. I've got things to do. You -"

He opens the door, and with a hand gripped on the doorway leans into the adjacent room only to pop back out with a labcoat in his hand. "Get some rest. You're stressed, don't bother arguing against it. Go listen to some music or… play games, or… whatever it is you do." Without looking at her, he starts to shrug the coat on and adds, "We'll speak again soon, if the past is any indication."

It doesn't take a superpower to see she's been stressed lately, but Emily still balks at it being pointed out. She almost even argues against it, but ends up looking away, rubbing one hand along the side of her neck. "Write, or something. Maybe pull my computer apart and dust it. Play with the cat." All of it said in a nearly incomprehensible mumble. She's trying to remind herself she does have options for destressing, if she would just settle down long enough to partake in them.

"Games," she mutters a bit more decisively. That was a good activity for her to lose hours in, to feel like she was succeeding at something. Doing good somewhere, even if it wasn't here.

Her feet amble her back to the door she came in through. "Yeah," she finally agrees with him as she reaches for the handle. Her voice is absent in tone, her thoughts wandering. "Whether we want to or not."

Emily looks back for just a moment, like she might reach back into the discussion, offer some anecdote about what he shared, some positive spin, or find some way to leave the conversation off on a slightly better note. The door remains half-pulled, the intention of that keeping her from actually leaving.

It takes her a moment, but a thought finally clicks into place. "You know, good people say things like that," she states evenly. "Things like 'get some rest'."

And then she's gone in a blink, door slipping shut behind her.

This is going to be a long, petty argument, the why of it a mystery.

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