These Hands, This Voice



Scene Title These Hands, This Voice
Synopsis Emily reflects on and reckons with everything that happened before and during the trip to the UK.
Date April 22, 2021

Epstein-Raith Residence

Jackson Heights

It's day two since Emily's returned home. The blood is gone from under her nails, but it still feels like her ears are ringing. She's not sure they'll ever stop.

Standing at the sink, her hands braced against the ceramic, she takes in a deep breath and looks up at herself, hair sweeping over her shoulder and partly covering one eye. She regards herself severely, going over what happened again in bits and pieces.

Her hands were tight in her lap as she told Cooper out of the corner of her mouth what her ability was. She volunteered to be the face leading into the Archer apartment breach, and she did so well. Her hands were held up so calm in surrender by her side as she tightened her hold on that gift of hers, only needing to meet the Torchlight agents' eyes. They'd not stood a chance against her placid insistence they'd just go if there would be trouble by their being there. She and Cooper had run, and she knows they shouldn't have made it as far as they did.

Her power was growing stronger with use. It had been, ever since—

“Do you want to know what tree you’re going to be?”

"None," Emily submits her guess as a plea, shouting it like it will help her win her case. "Ali— Alexa, you don't have to do this! Please!"

Her hands fly from the counter to turn on the water, to douse her face in cold and try, however failingly, to keep from falling into that memory yet again and letting it take hold of her against her will. Because it was letting it, wasn't it? Shouldn't she have more control over herself?

There’s a small pause. That little extra emphasis might be missing, but it still seems to give Ali pause. “Of course I don’t have to.” She says with her normal voice, even the bright red lessening from her eyes. But then she’s moving again, lunging forward, putting both her hands on Emily’s face. “But I’m going to anyway.”

The memory makes Emily flinch and shudder in horror, posture buckling as she stays hunched over the sink. She should have forced her. She should have forced her. It's all her fault for not using the gift that was given to her in a way that would have made her listen!

"Stop it!" Emily screams at herself, trapped both now and then. Her voice breaks with the force of wishing she could have gone back and said and done anything different. It was her life on the line, why hadn't she—

"I said stop it!" she screeches again, and this time she looks up again at herself to drive the point home. She meets her own eyes, and the anguish in her expression slacks. Her shoulders begin to slope, posture relaxing as she looks at her double in the mirror for a long moment. Too long.

Then she blinks and looks down at her hands again, at the blood that's no longer under her nails, and feels the tinnitus in her ears persist. Those hands which waved wildly to get the freed prisoners to follow her, acting as just another facet for her voice and her eyes to reach them. Another aspect of language that emphasised the urgency of the moment. And lastly, of course…

These were the hands which could do nothing when Esme tried to sacrifice herself. Which could do nothing when Lance was shot. Which could do nothing when Zachery broke ranks and nearly died for it. But these— these were the hands that did what they could, hands which helped pulled Gutierrez to safely, in the end.

And hers was the voice that convinced one last person to leave behind a fellow prisoner, maybe even someone they knew well. Tearfully, she'd told them to flee. She never caught their name. Never saw them in the aftermath. Hers was the voice that had convinced Gutierrez the mission was worth following through on, that it was important. Hers was the voice that pleaded for Indira and Farah to not let the victims down, the one that caused them to reply in eerie unison. Her breath begins to race again and she closes her eyes, lifting a hand to smear her palm down her forehead and eyes before finally reaching for a washcloth to dry her dripping face with.

Emily stands there, feeling the weight of everything so keenly. Her failure to act, her failures by acting. The way she puts herself in danger by keeping things secret, the way she endangers herself by slipping up, the way she would put herself in danger by outing herself.

What was it Avi had said to her?

"Life's a fucking pit of broken glass," she remembers, tired for it.

A pit that by continuing to cut, turns her into a different person than she was the day before, the year before, or a lifetime in the future. It cuts and carves her into a different person than the one Astor believed her to be, the one that maybe she was. Someone that makes her choke back a sudden sob just at the thought of it, hand coming to her mouth to stifle the sound.

Because she knows now. She's learned through this experience she can be more with this ability than just what he'd kindly tried to guide her toward.

She could be something terrible. She could be something unspeakably powerful. She can walk into a room full of enemies and get them to lay down their guns, let her walk away.

And if she doesn't better get a handle on it, the narrative of any given moment could end up being only the one she tells, rather than whatever it should be.

"I'm sorry," Emily whispers into her palm. She doesn't know who even to.

Maybe someone she's not even hurt yet.

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