To Kill A Hummingbird II


emily_icon.gif genevab_icon.gif hailey_icon.gif



Scene Title To Kill a Hummingbird II
Synopsis With her health gradually deteriorating, Geneva makes a demand to go see her body. She and Emily are both surprised to find visitors already there.
Date January 6, 2019

Elmhurst Hospital

Elmhurst Hospital is one of two operational public hospitals servicing the entirety of the NYC Safe Zone. Elmhurst is the most newly reopened hospital and also the shortest staffed and least well supplied. This facility is based out of the run down and still partly condemned Elmhurst Hospital building which was scheduled for demolition prior to the civil war. The newer Elmhurst Hospital, which was supposed to be constructed adjacent to this old campus, was never finished and the infrastructure that was laid before the civil war rapidly deteriorated in the decade since. Elmhurst struggles to meet the needs of the rapidly growing Safe Zone population and is in a constant struggle to balance the needs of its patients and its often too-short supply of essential medication. In spite of this, the hospital was donated a brand new MRI by Yamagato Industries and are partially supported by recurring charitable donations from the corporation and other sponsors.

The machines Geneva is hooked up to beep in a rhythmic fashion, the tubes that keep her breathing mask half of her face but it’s one that Hailey knows all too well. One that she sees every day and through tears, talks to about anything, everything, and sometimes nothing at all.

Every day she sneaks in, past the nurse and doctor she assaulted so many months ago, making sure she’s not seen (by them at least). Most of the time the animals are left outside, out of respect to other patients, today she’s brought Geneva’s favorite cat Idiot and yet another book. Its cover is scuffed and dirty, the paged dog eared, and there are scribbles in pen all over it. It’s clear that Hailey’s been marking it up.

Idiot is nestled under the covers and out of sight, snugged close against Geneva’s body. His purrs can are loud and can be heard throughout the room, anyone but a doctor or nurse would think that he’s just another machine keeping the young woman alive. Hailey is drifting in and out of consciousness, struggling to stay awake to read just one more word.

There's a whisper of metal on metal as the glass door slides open quietly, and is shut just as quietly behind the new entrant. It's only a pair of seconds later that the curtain's pushed aside by a gloved hand, and Emily Epstein pauses, her eyes fixated on the sleepy animal empath with active surprise. Her other hand comes to the breast pocket of her coat instinctively, which is unbuttoned and opened at the moment.

"Hailey?" Emily asks in a whispery-soft voice, incredulous. "What're you doing here?"

The empath jolts in her chair, dropping the book, and under the blanket a smaller body jumps as well. Thankfully, the recipient of startled claws is the mattress, not Geneva herself. Hailey reaches over and strokes the blanket lump until it settles. “Hey Emily,” she yawns as she stretches her shoulders. “Gene’s in.…” Her voice hitches. “I’m her emergency contact.”

Hailey bends down to scoop up the raggedy novel, Wolves of Valhalla, and tucks it under one thigh. “What are you doing here?”

"I know," Emily murmurs in response to the unfinished statement, her attention darting to the lump under the blanket and wondering at it. She hesitates by the door before walking closer to the bed, still for some reason feeling like there's a need to be quiet. Almost like the girl in the bed is sleeping and they'll wake her from some kind of needed rest.

She knows better than that.

"When Gene fell unconscious, she was over at my place." she offers up, a tinge of hesitation to it. But there's no reason to lie. "I've been… really worried about her." The hand covering her pocket only reluctantly falls away, only after feeling a silent shift happen within. Emily glances at the book Hailey moves, the distinctive title recognizable in a heartbeat by this point. "When'd you become a history buff?"

Hailey shrugs in response.

“It’s the last book that I haven’t read to Gene,” she explains, her tone muted and the unhappiest that Emily has ever seen her. She picks it up and thumbs the dog eared pages the whispery thhrrrrip thhhrrrrip sound they make battling with the renewed purrs of the car under the blanket. “They..” she chokes back some tears and turns toward the bed so Emily can’t see her face. “They say that people in comas can hear you when you’re talking to them… and I ran out of things to tell her, so I’m just reading now.”

She adjusts the chair to angle herself back to Geneva and opens the book. From her vantage point, Emily can see blue ink scribbles in the margins that follow along a string of morse code. -.-. .- -. -.— —- ..- … . . — . CAN YOU SEE ME. “We just got to the part about Antarctica if you want to stay.”

Emily's brow furrows as Hailey turns away, guilt clawing at her. She stands stoically still, trying to harden her expression instead of letting it crack, or worse, caving and explaining that there's not anyone home to talk to. She hones in on the sound of the purring instead, her suspicion climbing.

I mean, it's Hailey. she thinks to herself. Are you really surprised she brought an animal with her? The hidden, tiny body nesting hidden in her pocket reminds her she has little room to judge on this particular occasion.

"I've got the book at home, but I've not gotten through all of it. I pick it up in bits and pieces. Antarctica I don't remember really well." Emily looks to the set of pages opened to skim for familiar phrases when her attention's drawn to the margins.

"Hailey," she says with a start, reaching out for the coded message. "Are there more things like this in your copy?"

“Yeah, a couple more,” Hailey replies with a bit of a shrug. “I think someone at the printer is either having some fun or Columbia House is using slave labour to publish their books to save on cost.” It’s a wordless admission that the empath is rooting for the former of the scenarios because the latter is a little too soon after the entire civil war.

She flips to another, “This one here says can you hear me.” There’s no blue ink below it, the translation is obviously being made as her eyes skim over the dots and dashes. “And there’s another one that says can you find me.” She flips through the pages and points out more than one instance of the morse dispersed amongst the text. “Pretty cool, huh?”

Emily's brow shoots up at the admission, and She becomes more focused on the book. It's easier to shift to a more familiar problem, with bridging A to B. "Yeah, it's primal, actually." she remarks, a little awed at the luck of it all. She draws in a short breath. "Hailey, there's copies of Wolves of Valhalla that have had someone stuck in them by accident. Squeaks has been working at collecting them together to try and make them whole again. Lance said whoever it is is like an inkmorph or something."

"She — the ink lady — she talks in codes. Says it's easier for some reason." There's the barest pause as she looks back to Hailey, earnest to pick up something she feels like she can fix. "Do you mind if I borrow your copy when we leave? I'll make sure to get it back to you once she's out."

Feeling like she sounds like a crazy person, she reaches to tap the page, showcasing the thickened letters and mistypes that are present on the pages with the messages. "But, yeah, see? She's caught up in here." she explains, trying to avoid sounding too invested. "When she's all scattered, she doesn't move, but when you get more pieces of her together … she wakes up."

Quite coincidentally, the phrase 'she wakes up' is succeeded by a small but immediate disturbance that makes itself heard in the breast pocket of Emily's coat: a muffled chrrrrrring coming from within, as well as the suggestion of tiny movements beneath the fabric. Buzzing? It appears that Geneva is at last awake after a long, quiet, sleepy journey here. This had probably made Emily's experience in the hospital thus far quite a lot easier, but alas, all good things must come to an end.

As Geneva struggles to find a way out of Emily's pocket, Idiot pokes his large, rotund head out from under the covers for the first time, sleepily attracted by the odd noise. Mrrrow?

The cat is suddenly hungry and Hailey ignores the explanation of the ink lady, the book, and the question for the moment. She squints her eyes almost closed and then zones in on Emily’s pocket. “What is that?” she all but interrupt the train of thought that is Wolves of Valhalla. “Idiot thinks it’s food but..”

Without another moment of thought, she passes the book to Emily, acquiescing on the request to borrow without words. She’s more curious about the food in the other woman’s pocket than reading right now, even if it is to Gene. “Is it a bee? Where the heck did you… No, that’s not a bee… it’s angry. Really angry.” Startled blue eyes widen and Hailey looks up to meet Emily’s. “You have the angriest bird I have ever felt… what the heck did you do?”

The fluttering in her pocket causes her to reach for it, prying it open. "Angry?" Emily asks, equal parts bemused and exasperated. "You just woke up." she chastises her pocket, peering down into it and reaching in to let the bird latch onto her finger. "It…" she starts to explain to Hailey, trying to keep her voice as casual as possible. "I-It's a hummingbird. I didn't do shit. He came back, and he shouldn't even be here, because it's the middle of fucking winter, but…" Emily shakes her head and looks across the room, trying to calm her nerves, in the process catching sight of the cat head poking out from under the blankets only then.

Oh. Shit.

"Is that Idiot?" she gapes, remembering the cat being described to her before. It had such a distinctive face, it's hard for her to imagine it being any other animal. She quickly snaps back to the moment, doing some simple mental math. Cat + Bird =…

"Fuck. Gene." She cups her hands around the tiny bird, trying to trap it before it's too late. "Lee, no-no-no—"

Hailey's description, is in fact, spot-on. The hummingbird in question may only have woken up, but she is apparently already as incensed as a cat that has just been squirted with water, mixed with a dash of desperation and the smallest hint of outraged anguish. And speaking of

Idiot tilts his head sideways at the small critter as it exits Emily's coat pocket fully, cross-eyed gaze seemingly focused on nowhere in particular— but it is only too clear what he must be looking at. The cat appears to still be half-asleep, but he swings a beefy paw with surprising vigor at the tiny, bird-bodied version of his owner.

For her part, Geneva dodges expertly out of both Emily and Idiot's reach, little wings abuzz with fury. The sight of her comatose body with Idiot laying on top of it, all the details of which she can perceive far too clearly in her current form, is apparently too much for her to bear.

Taking a deep breath, Hailey breathes out slowly and pushes herself up from the chair. “Here guy,” she coos softly, trying to calm the angry little thing and oddly enough having no effect. This she knows. Idiot, on the other hand, settles back next to Gene’s body and begins purring again, having no defense against the empath’s direction.

Stretching her hand out in front of her, she invites the bird for a landing. Whether it does or not, well that’s up to it. The empath’s sharp eyes capture the coloring and she twitches her head to the side in confusion. “This is the weirdest little bird ever… “ the words are filled with wonder at the tiny thing. “… I didn’t think animals got this angry. Also, it’s male and female? What?”

Emily had already messed up and called the bird by her name aloud, and tries to cover for it by saying his name instead. "Lee, come on." Emily hisses, looking back suddenly to make sure no one's coming in. That would be an awful sight for a nurse to enter in on — birds and cats.

She hopes Hailey has better luck than she does in bringing the situation to a calm. All Emily can do really is shout, which is … the opposite of helpful. Somewhat defeatedly, she looks back to the animal empath. "I… Yeah, this is new for me, too."

A wave of utter indignation rises within Geneva’s breast at being called Lee, and for a moment it looks as though Emily just may be on the receiving end of an imminent attack. Ahem, no, that is not her name, and she is most certainly not both male and female. Why is Hailey not being told the truth? EMILY?

The hummingbird finally does, however, take up position on Hailey's outstretched arm, fluttering briskly into place and folding her colorful wings neatly into her sides. It is very odd— the desperation that had been hinted previously is more emphatic than ever now, along with clear and apparent gladness at seeing Hailey. More than this, if Hailey focuses, she will easily be able to discern the rainbow of very human-like emotions that is running through the bird’s chest. Recognition. Longing. Regret. And still, yes, muted tones of rage and snark.

There is lots of this last emotion running high.

When the bird lands, Hailey draws it closer to her and strokes its back with a featherlight touch of her finger. “Man, it’s so tame… and I’ve never felt all this from an animal before it’s almost like… I dunno…” Nothing she’s ever experienced, not as far as she knows. “Super weird that it’s this calm? No calm isn’t the right word, it’s really not calm.”

Emily is on the receiving end of another wide eyed look. “You need to sit and tell me everything. How did you get a bird in your pocket, are you a bird telepath or something? It doesn’t seem to like you very much… so I know you didn’t tame it.” The cat, is not forgotten, and kept away with soft voices and serenity from the animal empath. Two things that seem to have no effect on the bird.

A look of apology is shot in the hummingbird's direction, like one would do to someone in the midst of a silent conversation. An apology, as well as a ferocious entreaty to have the rest of this discussion later.

No, Geneva. No, Emily has not gone around telling anyone you're in a bird.

Though avoiding doing that just became super fucking difficult.

"She…" Emily's expression is blank as she looks back to Hailey, except for a slow downward curl of her brow. "I don't know, we were coming over from the apartment, it was cold, I was trying to keep her warm and out of sight, so…" she lifts her shoulders in a small shrug, giving a slight shake of her head. She seems just as bewildered as Hailey is about the bird and its behavior. "I think she just took a nap. She's been getting tired a lot more recently."

That part was honest at least. "She wakes up, does this for a few minutes, and then she's down again. It's hard enough just trying to keep her fed and going." Hummingbirds weren't indoor animals, for one. But with this weather, was there really any choice?

It is truly a pity that hummingbird faces are not built to emote the way that human faces are, because what Geneva is attempting to convey— a sense of pleading— simply looks like the bird's neutral expression. Perhaps a bit more jaded than normal to the imaginative eye, but still, there is nothing particularly unusual about it despite the sheer effort Gene is putting behind it.

Rather than fluttering about again in an uproar of renewed rage, as the bird appears nearly ready to do, she petulantly tucks her head beneath one of her folded wings as though she is refusing to look at Emily entirely. Harrrummmph.

“Hmm… I have an incubator at my house, she needs heat,” under her breath Hailey mutters even though she has the markings of a he. You can’t fool Dr Dolittle and you can’t fool the animal empath, at least not about that. “Sugar water, they don’t eat seeds, and uhmmm you’ll have to put extra vitamins in it if she’s too lethargic.” The instructions on bird husbandry are rattled off as though she read the instructions in a book, which is likely what’s happened.

Given that the bird has its head tucked under a wing already, Hailey cups her other hand over, creating a small nest for it to rest. “You must be Snow White or something, I’ve never been able to catch a hummingbird. I have a flock of parrots and stuff at the zoo but this…” The empath is in clear awe. “She’s still super mad at you though, are you a bird slaver or something? I could totally understand the anger if you sold all of her baby chicks.”

Emily recoils back in offense at that. Bird slaver? "What? No." she scoffs. Her brow furrows in concern at that image. Sure, Hailey was probably just rattling off ideas at the hip, but they had to come from some kind of foundation. Her shoulders settle as she stands there with a growing discomfort, but she nods ever so slightly at the suggestion about care. "Yeah, I've been giving her that… the vitamins, though, I'm not sure about pulling those out of thin air."

"If I could borrow that incubator for a while, that'd be really great. I'm doing everything I can to…" Emily has to pause, a tightness in her expression. She takes in a breath to steady herself, looking uncertain. "I'm really trying to keep her safe, Hailey." She notes how the hummingbird has curled itself up in Hailey's palm and lets the breath loose in a pained exhale.

“A good pet store should have some,” Hailey offers with a little shrug before breathing into her hands to warm the little bird a bit more. “And it’s probably a good idea not to bring her outside for walks right now, even I leave Jim at home on days like this.”

Carefully, she crosses over to Emily and lifts her top hand to pull the lapel of the other woman’s jacket open and tuck the bird into the hollow of her neck. Intrusive but the empath doesn’t seem to mind, sorry Emily it’s better for the bird. “Don’t put her in your pocket, keep her close to your skin until you get home. I’ll be right over with the incubator.” She turns her head to look at Geneva, letting loose a small sigh. “They don’t even know what happened.. She’s just…” Then, with a shake of her head, Hailey slides the curtain away and leaves the room… without the book.

The cat… well it perks up from under the blanket and slinks out of the room behind her, like a faithful pet.

Left alone with the grumpy, but thankfully stationary bird, Emily can feel Geneva turn to follow Idiot's progress out of the room. After the door slides shut, she says to the air, "I didn't know about Hailey. I've come a few times before, but I must have missed her."

She swallows hard as she comes up to the bed, fingertips resting on the book left behind. "I'm sorry," she pleads in whispered earnest. "I know I didn't tell her. But I don't think Hailey would know what to do to fix this either. So…" Emily's jaw trembles, her gaze blurring as she looks down at the wolf staring up at her from the blankets. "You'll just tell her yourself, yeah? When you get back to being you again. You'll tell her… about all of it."

"Soon." she insists, with a confidence she doesn't feel. The thin layer of dread clinging to the bottom of her being stirs.

The hummingbird nestled into her is silent, unmoving.

"Gene?" Emily asks, turning her head to try and get a better look at her.

Geneva has already fallen back to sleep.

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