Trust And Falling


emily4_icon.gif huruma4_icon.gif

Scene Title Trust And Falling
Synopsis When Emily comes to her while trying to find her path again, Huruma promises to walk forward with her, even if she stumbles.
Date November 11, 2020

The Bastion

The crisp air nudges people inside more and more in the coming days; with the building's first autumn and wintry season, Huruma has been more than happy to make sure that the heat keeps things comfortable inside. It's not that she hates the cold, she'd just rather be cozy, and if tonight turns out to be as frigid as the last— well, if she's going to work into the evening, may as well take advantage.

Thankfully, even the rooms with larger windows manage to stay warm. Doing idle work in the lounge seems better and better, especially so because here, it's much easier to keep a drink hot. Huruma is slung on a portion of the sofa, looking the part of a sweater-wearing layabout with a pad and keys on her lap and the distant tics of messages being received. These damn kids and technology. At least the television is off.

The footsteps that approach the lounge bear no pattern familiar to Huruma, but the emotional pattern pairing with them is one that resonates with a core known to her.

The young woman circles in the hall in uncertainty before ultimately heading through the doorway of the lounge after all, trying to brace herself with a false air of bravado and casual she doesn't really feel under the limns of uncertainty and nerves that are new to her since her rescue. Emily Epstein isn't used to doubting herself as much as she is these days, but she puts on a brave face that hides most of those troubles.

She pauses halfway between lounge and kitchen, noting Huruma and pausing, but not from surprise. Some additional hesitation forms. She finally lifts her chin, refusing to speak with it tucked away to herself like an anxious mouse.

"Long time no see," Emily calls out softly, one hand in a fist over her abdomen. She still wears her creme-colored winter coat, red loops of scarf wound about her neck.

The steps may change, but of course the rest could never. Huruma is still as she feels the tentative process of Emily's arrival, a tension rising in the back of her neck for her own resistance in rising immediately. The pad on her lap is already set aside and her feet flat on the floor as the church mouse comes out of her emotional nest.

Resistance is harder when you lose just that tiny amount of patience keeping it in line. Huruma rises, at first wordlessly; it lasts only as long as it takes to cross over, one hand out, palm up and exuding a sense of comfort, expression caught between worlds— though none of them bad.

"I… wish I could say the same," may seem to start as a quip, but it's clear that the empath would like nothing more than to invade Em's personal bubble. Instead she reins in to wait for… some cue of permission, perhaps.

If there were classes of reactions Emily might hace expected, this one went beyond them. She hesitates at first to the approach, tensing like she wants to encourage distance. Her eyes flicker with self-directed uncertainty as she glances up to Huruma's face and then away again. If there's a person who might be able to weather the potential storm she carries with her, Huruma is a contender for sure. The young woman's gaze softens when the older makes a gesture for a hug.

The hardened edges of Emily's emotional state crumble away, and she nods.

"Either way, it's good to see you," she murmurs, holding her own arms up in a further signal she'll accept the hug. When it comes, she closes her eyes and holds on tightly, but briefly.

She fluctuates again in emotion, strong involuntary swells of it gripping her and leading her by her nose. At the moment, it's peace and reassurance, but for how quick it came, any other emotion seems likely to come forth just as easily.

One arm at first, the embrace definitely turns whole with equal acceptance. Huruma learned some time ago that she needs to let Emily come to her, not out of timidity, but defense. It's not a too-familiar hold, of course. Enough of one to trickle affection and a smoothing hand against her hair before they part.

"I'm happy that you've come back to us…" Here the dark woman's expression gives way to a clearer picture of relief and the drop of weight from her voice, settling into a low but contented exhaustion.

Huruma's hands linger at Emily's arms, seemingly a small physical tether. As she speaks again, she smiles, and it readily touches her eyes under the knit of brows. "I've missed you. This whole year has been—" A small sigh moves out, tired, and for lack of words, "…A Lot."

With an attempt at a smile that more or less succeeds in just wrinkling her nose, Emily asides, "I'd say fuck 2020, but seeing as I missed most of it…" She laughs faintly, shaking her head. Her voice settles. "I don't know. At least Harding won the election?"

For her, that's a major win. In the very few weeks she'd been back, she'd adopted a personal platform of Anybody But Medina leading into the election. Honestly, that he went crazy and disappeared afterward… fuck him. He probably thought the Evos were out to get him or some crazy bullshit like that.

Looking up, the moment Emily meets Huruma's eyes her brow begins to knit. Her shoulders begin to tip down with that weight the other woman carries as if it were suddenly her own. "What happened here? Is everything okay?"

Whatever it was, it tasted of weariness… of loss?

"For the most part." Huruma spares a momentary frown before angling to gesture to where she'd been lounging before, an invitation to sit. "You're right, though, about 2020." Fuck it. From this world to the next. "Harding is better than no-one." Her mouth twitches to the side, more than happy to move on from politics.

"How much have others been filling you in…?" Huruma wasn't exaggerating, not that she has a habit of that. A lean and half-step back allows her to look Emily up and down more seriously, touch still lingering. "Are you well? I can't expect that being back is easy, in any fashion…"

Since, you know. She was a tree. At least Huruma knows the basics of what Emily could actually feel, even physically thanks to some.

Emily looks to the kitchen for a moment while she composes her answer, then slowly begins to drift toward the couches. "Honestly?" She pauses, then, a touch of regret for leading with that. But she moves on anyway. "Not much. I've been taking my space, and people have been giving it. I've had a lot to deal with, after—"

As she settles into a seat, she averts her eyes, sitting on her hands to keep from fidgeting them. It lends her a perpetual shrug. "I get overwhelmed easy still. I've made a lot of progress— with physical therapy, it feels like having a body again is like riding a bike? All the muscles are coming back, and I don't need to walk with an aid anymore, but I still…" She attempts to shift that shrug, trying to be honest without being self-deprecating.

"It's just a lot," Emily says with a sudden hardness, looking up to Huruma directly again. "But I'm managing."

Something dances in the undertone of her words, wild and convincing even though it lacks the emotions to back it up. The light in Emily's eyes shift as she realizes it, shifting her gaze away again. Her hands smooth down the couch toward her knees, working free of her weight so they can clasp together tightly on her lap.

"I need to stay active. I need to not just… shut down. But I'm having a lot of trouble feeling comfortable doing anything alone." She grows hesitant, voice quieting as she explains, "I want to go walking again, though."

Though Huruma doesn't crowd her, nearness as they sit gives the feeling of a wing-over-fledgling, moreso by Huruma's arm folded onto the back of the couch, seated at an angle. She remains quiet for however long it takes Emily to articulate. The feelings sound all too familiar to her.

"I know what it's like, not wanting to go things alone out there." Maybe everyone has that, sometimes, some more than others. Huruma seems to, in some way, count herself as one. "Feeling vulnerable in the worst way and hating every minute. I wasn't the type to shut down— I got angry, rather. Took someone else to help me with it too." Her brows lift slightly, mouth a line. Hard to picture it from her, but everyone was young once. Huruma doesn't chance mentioning her own lingering helplessness, brought on by a fistful of things. Sand in the hourglass, and all.

"…You know that I'm here for you, hm?" One hand moves to rest briefly atop the pale ones twined on Emily's lap. "You needn't be on your own, even for something simple."

For once, it's hard for Emily to empathize. She can't get past her own experiences to anyone else's, but she manages a nod. Their experiences were likely leagues apart and—

Emily. She closes her eyes, willing herself to move past the moment, to not forcefully shut out and shut down. Huruma's hand on hers brings her eyes to open partly again in a blink of lashes.

"I know," she affirms, letting her eyes open the rest of the way and wander to Huruma. "I didn't come here to see Dev today. I came to look for you. To see if— you might want to go walking sometime."

As Emily makes a tiny push past the moment, Huruma takes it as an opportunity to do the same. The expression of having Been There, to some degree, she's made. It's not foreign. Pale eyes watch Emily, half-lidded even as the girl looks more fully to her.

Little old her, huh? The admission coaxes a small smile out, one-sided but earnest, a brow arching over one eye. "Of course I would." Huruma doesn't share that Emily was a marker on her own walks. Perhaps later. "Riding that metaphorical bike again is easier with two anyway… even if it's cold. I moan about the weather more than I actually dislike it. Don't tell on me." Huruma holds a finger to her lips, a glance rolling her eyes at the door. Her, dramatic? Nah.

The acquiescence to her request sees Emily's shoulders slope downward, a tension held within them released in relief. Anxieties about having felt foolish for needing to ask— for having the anxieties in the first place— the loop of them all gradually resolves in the background.

"Thank you," she murmurs quietly.

The cheeky gesture from Huruma draws her out of that shell of quiet so easy to withdraw into, eliciting a small laugh. "I won't tell if you don't," Emily bargains, looking off and straightens her posture. "I have a reputation of fearlessness I need to keep."

Does she?

"Do you?" Huruma isn't a telepath, at least not yet. She does have a sense of things, though. "You do have the temerity… I'd say you're just very particular about what you are afraid of." A hand folds and Huruma leans her head upon it, elbow still atop the back cushion.

"But, that's one reason I like you. Your fearlessness has such texture in its layers." The empath seems to be still amused, lingering from the earlier Don't Tell; it is a quiet expression, the smile, the spark most there in her gaze before she gives a laugh. Huruma's freer hand gestures outward, apparently beyond walls. "It's healthy. I see a lot of fragility out there. Your usual bravado walls, less the introspection like you…"

As compliments go, it's roundabout. But it is there.

If there's one term Emily has never really heard apply to her— it's healthy.

She blinks one to balk at the use of it, brow beginning to furrow in idle rejection of its relation to her. No, she's sure she can't be that. Fragile? No. Healthy? That was a stretch. And furthermore, she didn't feel as though she weren't fragile.

In some ways, it's like she's skipped straight to broken. A piece of glass shattered yet held into its previous form so tightly she didn't realize— and still doesn't until the light catches it just right— just how broken she is. Emily looks off to the side, trying to reconcile that feeling away, to let the comment roll off of her for the sake of the conversation continuing. "I'm not sure I'd agree. Having the wisdom to keep from being stupidly fearless doesn't stop me from—"

The furrow of her brow crumples in on itself, her emotions sinking into a well abruptly as though a black hole were summoning them to her bosom. A faint breath audibly leaves Emily as she tries to keep speaking and no words come.

Just how she ended up the victim she did is a story she's told precisely no one.

She doesn't intend to start here, not now, not while she's this far out of control. "How are you anyway?" she asks abruptly, feigning okay. Her emotions say she needs this shift just as much as the look she shoots Huruma does. "All this talk about me— what about you? How's your— your…"

Did she say previously she had grandchildren? Just children? Her relationship with her family had been complicated, so maybe that's not a good topic anyway? Emily dithers, uncertain where to direct her energy now.

Emily can't see what, exactly, Huruma sees. Most people won't. Like having blacklight vision, you get to see all those tiny marks. She allows the young woman her time to mentally fight against the idea of Huruma's opinion of her, but doesn't intervene in the doubt. It is what it is. Your (blank) also gives Huruma an opening to use anything, though she has a passing idea of intent.

"My…?" A small window to finish that doesn't last long, inquisitive as it is. "You shouldn't let me decide on that noun." Her smile flashes impishly for a few seconds, gentle ribbing in an effort to relieve the previous exchange.

"I wish I could say I was better." Playfulness doesn't disappear entirely, remaining in an idle warmth despite the reply. For Emily's sake she tries not to dive into her own thoughts.

And for a time as she speaks, the dark woman actually feels her age and weariness settle on her features and the lines of her eyes. "Our hit on Praxia— Detroit, they shaped the rest of the year. Ups and downs are more radical than before. There were… considerable losses. There have been bright spots… followed by black in equal measure. I would say my work on this place is one of the former…"

Huruma gestures widely to the space around them, the Bastion, finished. "…as mundane as it sounds." Her hand falls to her thigh with a muffled pat. "One takes what light one can find."

Emily forces a faint smile, though it looks pained. "Your… your family. You? I-I don't know. I'm trying to get caught up on the year, and I saw… about Benjamin."

Given everything she's been through, Emily can barely fathom what happened to the world while she wasn't able to see it. About what happened in Detroit, much less what happened in the California Safe Zone. It's all headlines and footnotes, save for the familiar name that jumped off the page at her. Her brow furrows at the memory of it, of how strange and tragic a tale he'd been swept up in since Emily had seen him last spring. No— spring before last?

It's all a blur.

"Take what little joy there is to find these days," she suggests, a shift in the light of her eyes as she suddenly comes back to the conversation. "You don't need to hear it from me that you never know what comes around the corner. And this place does look nice." The smile she wears now is more at ease. "Habitable, which is saying a lot given the way this all looked this time last year."

"It looked like a 1970s precinct." Something like that. Huruma's reply comes a tad slow, her gaze elsewhere. "Which was fine with your father, which is why he let me do— whatever." Good call. She looks tentatively back to Emily, expression sinking when she does, pain most in her eyes and the downward slope of shoulders.

"My family across the water is faring better than the one I've found here." Huruma's sigh is short, punctuated by the strain of a smile, sympathetic. "Though my eldest grandchild seems to be hitting the stage of where 'no adults are right'… and my son isn't exactly lacking in discipline. You can imagine how that might be going, I'm sure…" Badrani versus the World, something like that.

"I do wish it were all I had to worry about here too." But, that never happens the way you'd prefer, even if it's still the fighting. Huruma drags the edge of her teeth over her lower lip, seeking an invisible purchase on something that isn't there; her eyes linger on Emily, and the bleed of color that is her emotional state. What about you, she asked.

"I was two-thousand miles away when he died." Huruma murmurs as if someone might overhear, or as if some invisible thing is silently judging. It's not exactly a topic that she revisits— but for Emily, it's an abstract offer of trust. "I watched it happen." The silvery tone of her eyes moves away again, to focus on nothing. "And I will swear that I felt that psychic tether give 'til the day I die."

Perception is a powerful thing. Maybe the connection was too.

"Abilities like ours— they make bonds between us and others," Emily muses just as softly. "There's no guidebook for it, either, to tell us how it does and doesn't work."

She settles back into her seat, adjusting the shift of her hands. As far as she's concerned, that's that. Maybe if she'd had better control of her own ability two years ago, she would have felt Devon's loss before her father showed up on her doorstep.

It's a hard thing to address, regardless— Huruma's heavy grief is palpable. Emily still feels an echo of it in herself even after the other woman breaks eye contact. "I haven't seen Lucille once yet, either," she acknowledges carefully, her own gaze roaming now. "I… can't imagine what she must feel like with all that."

Very deftly does she avoid mentioning the other shared loss they have this year— at least, the only other that she knows about. Emily's had months to ruminate on Nathalie's death, and it's made it no easier to face.

"I'm sorry it's been a fuck of a year for everyone else, too. I hope you've been giving yourself enough space to breathe. To… process." She smiles thin and brief before nodding her head at the lounge space. "I dunno where decorating really falls in terms of grief treatment."

Huruma definitely has an understanding of that lack of 'guidebook'. Especially now. Thumb brushes against the inside of one eye, mouth tight in the swallow of going back. Sometimes it hits, of course. Other times she deals with it. Her smile back at the last comment loosens her expression some, sober still.

"It helps to have some control…? You know… over your environment." Even if you lack it elsewhere. It is something. "I used to be horrid at mourning. Less awful now, but… " It is still there, and Huruma still ventures there, periodically. "At least now I understand better than I once did."

"…Lucille was with me. She's…" Huruma inhales deeply, exhales the same. "Not doing so well. Her boy keeps her grounded, I think…" Finn isn't a stranger to her by far, but she'll always have that protective streak for the girls. One hand runs back over shorn hair, fingers massaging at the knot of her neck.

"Would you… like to look around…? The top floor isn't quite finished yet. Just the billiards, really." It's a tentative question; given the importance of her control, perhaps others seeing it is important too. Plus, she can toot her own horn. Avi does it well enough, but he also tends to grouse about 'modern' or 'art' in the same fashion he did the Bunker's 'spitshined cement'.

There's little Emily can think of to do except listen. Sometimes that's all you can do with grief— not reject it. She dips her head again in a small, respectful acknowledgement. She's grateful for the insight, after all.

But just as happy to push away from the shores of mourning and navigate other waters of conversation. She smiles again, thin and small, visible more in her eyes. "I've nosed here and there," mostly here in this room, when not making a beeline to hide in Devon's space, "but I would be glad to have a proper tour."

Visible in her eyes and in her heart, it seems, as Huruma doesn't hide the quietly pleased curve to her mouth.

"I'm guessing more 'here' than 'there'." She tips a look down as she stands up, small in her movements. "I've noticed that this downstairs lounge is quite popular, though it may be, the— ah—" Huruma lifts a hand in a minimalist Vanna White towards the bar. "Personally, I am partial to the windows…"

The more she settles into showing off, the less tense Huruma seems to be; it's a fine distraction, and the dark woman beckons Emily along towards the stairs. The first thing is absolutely going to be her own little lair upstairs.

"Basement level is mostly armory…range." Shootybangbang-zone is self-explanatory, though she isn't averse to showing that too. Nothing to be concerned about save potential disapproval, but what is an HQ without Huruma doing whatever she pleases? Nada. "There are some facilities here we could use for physical therapy… if you'd be inclined."

"We can skip the conference rooms— unless you'd like to test the soundproofing."

A range. Maybe she should've expected to hear something like that, but there's a ripple of amusement in her surprise nonetheless. She can't hear Huruma's internal dialogue, but she nonetheless appears to agree that she doesn't need a tour of that particular area on their walkabout of the premises. Emily comes to her feet, hand instinctively touching the back of the couch for support she doesn't need before she follows after.

Her eyes lift, and as they ascend the stairs, she looks out the window to see the outside view from a slightly different angle. Something said has her turning back though, expression shifting in bewilderment. "Test the— soundproofing?"

"Yes? Soundproofing." Huruma pauses on the stairs to give Emily an equally perplexed blink; it doesn't last long, just enough to keep her puzzling as they come to the second floor. "If you ever need to do some yelling, feel free to test it." What's confusing? What else do you do to test soundproofing? Boombox?

The halls astride the tower give it a winged feeling, the office at the belly of the turret marked as Avi's by name. The others have their own, but it is hers that Huruma brings them to, at the far end of the wing. It meant she got a nice window.

Huruma's office is dark paint and exposed brick, straight lines and warm lighting. It looks like a home office more than a business office; in a way, it is. Among the various items there are a few that stick out; the small frame containing her Presidential Medal, a few photographs, a print of the goddess Ammut, and the distinctive, tall shape of a lion-headed sculpture that lurks just behind the door once it closes.

Oh. So they're legitimately soundproofed.

Either that, or Huruma is pulling her leg, and Emily honestly isn't sure she trusts it to not be a practical joke. She only shakes her head quickly once to indicate she's good as she quickly finishes her way up the stairs to stay closer to Huruma's heels as they head through the office floor. It feels like less than a blink before they're in Huruma's space, one cosy enough it brings her out of the blurry haze she'd abruptly slipped into. She barely remembers stepping past Avi's office, doesn't remember if the door was open, if he was there, if he wasn't— if she remembered to pull the door closed behind her when she'd slipped in before going to seek Huruma out in the first place.

Her steps inside Huruma's office are cautious without the anxiety that had started to cloud her on the way up. Blue eyes roam the arrangements, settling finally on the framed medal. It stands out to her immediately, the red, white, and blue coloring examined at length, attention dancing from one detail to the next before she finally breaks to look at the room at large again. "Definitely a step up from the Bunker," she agrees in a library softness, like the sanctity of the comfortable space may otherwise be disturbed.

Having unintentionally tugged Emily out of that misty place, Huruma watches that careful change the same as she does the girl's eye over the room.

"Medal of Freedom. Worth more physically to me as slag, but—" Huruma arches one brow to tip it between Emily and the frame, a touch more serious for as long as it takes to explain, "It's better as a reminder than slag… we all got them after Praxis." She clears her throat, the sound slight.

"Absolutely a step above." A small smile, a tad wry, "There was concern about pay and funds and what not… so I told your father to just sell the thing instead of pacing an indent in the roof." So to speak. "I do not miss it. Rochester wasn't as …alive."

Pretty, but stale.

After Praxis? Right, Emily reminds herself quickly. She just said that minutes ago, Em. That they… did something out in Praxia. Praxia, the California Safe Zone now struggling to get by without its corporate sponsor. But they had gone crazy, so what could be done except take them down before they hurt someone?

Her own thoughts sorted, she nods, remembering next that it was a hard year— that she's glimpsed different faces, heard different names here than were at the Christmas Party last year.

"This does feel more homey," Emily admits. "More adaptable to change, too, maybe— at least than you all would have been up there. You're closer to the heartbeat of the city, for better or for worse." Her mouth thins into a line before she looks back to Huruma, one that perks up in a ghost of a moment before she intones, "I'm biased, but I'm glad you all are closer."

"Azaly once told me that 'home is where your rump rests' but I have no bloody idea where they got that from." Huruma looks from Emily to the shelves, giving the young woman a crooked, closed smile as she moves over to pick up one of the digital picture frames, just glass rather than that digital chunkiness of the 'oughts.

She passes it to Emily without a verbal prompt, instead giving her that lingering smile. The initial photo is a bronze-skinned child with tightly curled red-brown hair, and startlingly hazel eyes.

"They do have some of that child's wisdom, I suppose." Huruma laughs softly, breath moving out through her nose. She settles a hand on Emily's shoulder, more or less peeking from the side as the slideshow clips to the next. Same kid, with a pair of women; the one on the right is a softer-featured clone of Huruma, it seems like. The other mixed, with a mane of curls.

It will keep scrolling unless the buttons are prompted first— it's largely a reel of her twins and their respective little families— including the older teenage grandson. Badrani does seem rather close to Emily's peerage. "So that makes me glad too, being closer. Easier on my spirit, I think."

The question of who is Azaly is answered with that proffered frame, and Emily takes her time looking rather than rushing through, letting the images cycle every few seconds on their own. She brushes her hand over a snapped joint family photo before she decides she's spent enough time intruding, offering the frame back to Huruma directly.

"You ever think you'll leave here?" she wonders suddenly, softly. "Go back home to be with your family?" It's spoken a little too cautiously, a little too much thought behind it to just be an errant question.

Huruma easily puts the glass frame back where it belongs, gesturing to but not pulling down another nearby; Emily can spy some familiar faces slide past.

"I'm with my family here, too." Her lips purse momentarily, the amused light more of a flash in her eyes. But she knows what the question meant, of course. "Perhaps. I do spend time there, when I desire to. I don't know that I would call it 'home'. This place is more of one. It's a far cry from when I lived nowhere—"

"—so, an upgrade, I suppose." Huruma laughs to herself, eyes briefly wandering before she moves to the door, brow up expectantly. "We have a proper rooftop now… come and see."

If home is where you rest your rump, then maybe family is who you surround yourself with there, after all. It's still a strange thing to her, even after all this time, even after everyone she knows who lives such an experience— family who is not blood.

If she were going to retreat from New York, it would be back to her blood. But thankfully, there's still a bit of good blood left here for her to cling to. Julie, that is.

It's not like she can count on Avi.

Emily closes her eyes for a moment to pull herself back to the here and now, nodding as she turns to follow. "With furniture and everything, like a balcony, or just HVAC units?" she wonders aloud.

"Oh, but the HVAC units are gorgeous this time of year." Huruma mimes some mild offense, though of course it doesn't last however long it takes to exit. "Furniture. Little fire. Garden boxes, though… I expect those will wait until spring." There's a certain hesitation when she skirts the topic of those.

"When it gets cold we have an awning to move things under. It will be nice to not escape to a scraggly old roof and try to smoke into the wind."

"I suspect it will also be a cozy little place." As they walk, Huruma looks down past her shoulder to Emily, brows raised playfully and smile a sliver of white.

If Huruma was expecting to get a rise out of Emily, she'll find an affect flatter— if possible— than the Great Plains. The younger shifts a look up to the taller out of the corner of her eye, one that indicates she understood the ribbing, but it didn't resonate much with her.

Either because she's not the cuddling type, or not the type to do so in a semi-public space. It's a coinflip as to which.

"I'm sure the garden will be nice once it gets warmer," she says instead. "For all the rebuilding being done, it's sure bringing with it a lack of color again. Greenspaces—" more like ruins, Emily, "are being reclaimed left and right… Well, except Park Slope. Who knows if they'll ever run enough people out of there to actually reconstruct that neighborhood."

She adjusts the scarf around her neck as they prepare to go out again. The cold, even if it wasn't quite winter chill yet, isn't something she looks forward to being in for any length of time. Her shoulders begin to tent up in a pre-emptive brace against an expected wind once they step outside.

It's less of a disappointment and more of a 'party-pooper' that Huruma chuckles down at Emily with. Alright then, kiddo.

"The city won't be doing anything to Park Slope anytime soon…" They ascend the small stairs to the roof door, Huruma looking back a moment. "They've actually made it a protected green space now." The tone of her voice says it is about time; a grateful notion, even. She appreciates nature where she can get it— which includes the outside of the Bastion.

Huruma pops open the door to a less windy reception than Emily may expect, though that seems to be thanks to pieces of a simple terrace and a few added wall panels to keep out the worst. Seating here and there, raised plant beds— and the covered little patio with two couches and a caged fire pit. It's more simple than the inside, still with its charm. Nicer than the hodgepodge base of the Bunker. Hopefully this gets that lived in look too.

Emily arches an eyebrow when she hears that Park Slope is being considered protected space. Her brow begins to knit as she murmurs skeptically, "What, is it the new Central Park now?" If it were, it at least already had *Park* in the name. She seems ambivalent about it, overall, but hesitant to press for more details.

What kind of people would want to let an area of the city become overtaken by nature? Were they the same type of people that would be fine with people and animals being turned into trees?

The sound of the door opening brings her back to the present. She has her hands shoved in the pockets of her coat to help with the outdoor chill, even in the blessed absence of most of the expected wind. There is something comfortable after all about being up on a roof, something that feels empowering. It brings you closer to the sky, and what could be better than that?

"Hell, if you get a passable roof put over this, with the fire to keep warm… this really could be cosy, no matter what time of year." Appreciation lilts its way into Emily's tone. She likes it.

"Mm, something like that…" Huruma murmurs in response to the New Central Park. Less of a playground than that. For most. Huruma tugs her sweatshirt a little closer to herself, shoulders tight against the fabric as she offers Emily a close-lipped smile, curving up on her features and briefly against her eyes.

"It will be nice to have a space. The neighborhood is friendly enough to us…" So far. The dark woman meanders closer to the edge of the roof, eyes cast down along the street. Pockmarked from lack of maintenance, but patched haphazardly in places by someone. "But it is more fun from up here." Looks like people still aren't used to looking up, as she watches a pair of people on a purposeful walk along cracked cement and under the Bastion's flanking trees.

"Do you have thoughts on where you want to go from here…?" A look finds Emily again, questioning without any distinctive pressure behind it. She need not give an answer if she doesn't have one. "The world is confusing enough without the trauma." Personal experience.

Emily doesn't return the look, her eyes below, then on the skyline. Anywhere but having to face anyone else.

"The only thing I can do is move forward. I've come back from an impossible situation. By all rights, I shouldn't be here."

Again. Just like how it felt when she overcame the cancer.

"If I don't move forward, it's not respecting the sacrifices people made to help bring me back. It's an insult to everyone who cared enough to miss me."

Looking down, she scuffs her foot on the concrete rooftop, eyes distant. Her feet shift into a stamp, and then she lets out a slow sigh. "I can't go back to the way things were. But I can try to find a new way forward. I can… and I've got to."

"But I've got no fucking idea what I want to do with my life, Huruma," Emily admits as she looks up and out again, chin held high. "All I know right now is I don't want anyone else to go through what I went through. So getting mentally ready to go back to work at SESA, to swap majors and finish my degree, that sounds like the right step. And when I'm done, I don't know if that keeps me in the city. Maybe I move back to KC after all."

She sounds tired now. "That's all a long ways off anyway."

Yet here you are. It's something that Huruma would say, and maybe at some point Emily hears it in her mind's eye. She doesn't interrupt, though, instead just watching the girl out of her peripheral vision.

"I'll tell you a not-so-secret." Dark brows move upward as Huruma tips her head Emily's way. "I see plenty of people who think they have everything lined up, know what they want to do for the rest of their life—" The empath taps at her temple, a short gesture with a sidelong smile. "It's rare that the inside backs it up. A lot of… not knowing. Ducks escaping rows-—"

"And that is perfectly fine." Despite her expounding on what seems an amorphous topic, it is not difficult to see that she tries. More than some. "'Forward' is enough, if that's what fits… you have us, should you stumble."

Practice all the trust falls.

The advice sounds so similar to something she's heard before. She can't put her finger on it, but Emily finds comfort in it nonetheless. It serves as reinforcement for the positive message to not get hung up on course changing unexpectedly. She manages a small smile.

"Forward… Will have to do for now. It's better than the alternative."

Emily closes her eyes, tilting her head back to the sky. She takes in a deep breath, letting it fill her until even her soul takes in air. It's held for a long moment and sighed out up toward the clouds. Her eyes open afterward.

"I think this is the most I can handle for today. But I'll text you soon, okay?"

It is possible that it is the breath Huruma waits for, before she says anything more; the feelings of it are many, and of course complicated. But the air in her lungs must be as grounding as it seems. Lungs, after all.

Huruma turns back with a slow chuckle that doesn't quite leave her chest, a light touch around Emily's shoulders as they set course inside again.

"I know you will, darling." And if not, well— Huruma knows a thing or two. "We can get you some coffee before you go… we have go-cups, because it's us. Elliott—" Who she'll no doubt meet sooner or later, "-—spoils us with the good stuff now. The bastard."

"Oh, the new guy's a smuggler." Never mind that he's an older member come back anew. It's not like Emily knows that anyway. "I guess that gives you all a leg up when you're helping the police track them down, maybe…"

She lets out a laugh, small but bright and clear. For all the uncertainty and tension within her, it's a small win. Another small step forward.

And this one's all thanks to Huruma.

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