We Fix It


berlin_icon.gif emily_icon.gif

Scene Title We Fix It
Synopsis Heavy topics bring Emily and Nathalie together, and keep them together.
Date May 11, 2019

Laudani-Epstein townhome

Sheepshead Bay

"Um, make yourself at home," Emily says lamely, holding the door open so Berlin can come in. She looks to the comfortably furnished living room on one side of the hall, a glance after to the dining room off the other. "We've got tea, coffee, other stuff to drink if you want anything." She shuffles her step for a moment before shutting the door behind them both, turning the deadbolt. Mid-action, she looks over her shoulder. "Were you already in town?" is asked with a little guilt to it, hoping she's not caused her to go far out of her way.

"Yeah, I was setting up a room at the new HQ," Berlin says as she steps into the living room, turning back to smile over at Emily. She pulls off her jacket, laying it across the back of the chair she picks to sit down in. "I'm good on drinks for now," she says, but there is a pause before she looks back to Emily and lifts her eyebrow, "unless this is a visit where I'm gonna need a drink." Of course, they may both need one, before the day is over. Depending on how open Avi has been recently.

Other stuff does include alcohol, though not as much of it as could be stored in the home. There was a bar across the street for that. Emily quirks her head to the side in a belated wondering about setting up a room, but she leaves it in favor of properly considering whether or not a drink will be needed. "I don't think so," is related with some care before she glances back over.

Her arms settle into a fold over her chest, and she leans against the frame of the entryway into the living room. "But it is serious," Emily adds mildly. "And if possible…" There's a wariness that enters her gaze, but she never quite gets out who it is she'd not want knowing she was asking in the first place. Her mouth firms into a line as she recenters her attention on Berlin.

Berlin watches Emily, her expression sobering once she mentions that it's serious. She glances around, as if checking that no one else is around, even though she can feel that it's just the two of them in the immediate vicinity. "Emily," she says when she looks back again, "What's wrong? Are you in trouble?" She stands up, coming over to where Emily stands. "You can tell me. It'll stay between us, if that's what you want." Her concern would be obvious even if she'd stayed silent; her brow furrows as she looks Emily over and she seems to have protective hackles already up.

She may just jumping to the worst case scenario in her mind. Or maybe a whole list of them.

Brow lifting as Berlin comes to her feet, Emily feels her arms parting to hold up her hands in a reassuring gesture before she realizes she's even doing it. Her surprise matches Berlin's concern, and she surprises herself even further by leaning forward to wrap a hug around the Wolfhound's shoulders. "I'm not in trouble, but I have to say I'm.. well, feeling supported, if I were." When she pulls back, she offers an awkward grin as an attempt to convince her she's really fine. It fades as soon as she goes back to thinking about the topic.

"It's about Devon," she admits, a heavy pause as she tries to figure out what she means to say. "He's found out some about what happened to him, possibly as much as he can. I haven't told him, but I decided to go digging on my own, and — well," Emily folds her arms tightly again. "I think I hit as much as I can on my own, so I need … to ask for help."

She bites down hard on her lip, glancing away and then back up. "Wolfhound arrested all those Institute scientists, right? Do you think you'd be able to, I don't know, interrogate any of them? See if any of them know anything about something called Project Hydra?" Her weight settled on one foot, the heel of the other bounces idly.

The hug does help. Berlin shifts down from seeming ready to run out and do something about this right now, at least. "Okay, good," she says as she returns the hug, because she would much rather Emily not be in trouble. But it is true that anyone who gave Emily trouble would get plenty of their own back from various sources. Many of them who work for a paramilitary organization.

When Emily gets out what's actually on her mind, Berlin rests a hand on her shoulder. "Actually, Wolfhound is looking into it. He talked to some of us about it. Francois and Rue are going to talk to someone who should know something about it. I think, though, we're going to have to keep an eye on him, Em. He was suggesting some pretty dangerous tactics with little regard for his own safety. We're going to do what we can to help him, but I think he might need a lot of help just now. In fact, I know he does. I know I did." She also knows how hard it is to crawl back from what he's been through alone. And she doesn't want him to feel like he has to.

"There's something else," she adds, leaning a hip against the wall. "Has Avi talked to you?"

Berlin settling helps Emily calm some in turn, the bounce of her heel slowing from its nervous tic. She stills entirely when the hand comes to rest on her shoulder, a small frown tugging at the corner of her mouth. Wolfhound was already looking into it? That thing in particular?

Oh. That probably shouldn't be the surprise it is.

Her shoulders slope while she stands there, brow ticking into a furrow as Berlin goes on. "He was?" she asks, concern immediate and visible. "What do you mean? What was he suggesting?" When the segue comes after, her head bows slightly from the weight of the question and she lets her weight idle from one side to the other. She's careful not to let any bite enter her voice as she uncomfortably points out, "Listen, he and I don't really talk in general." Fingers lifting off her folded arms, she admits, "I did see him recently, and he did say he meant to talk to me, but…"

Her shoulders join her fingers in the shrug, concern no less small than before as she looks Berlin over trying to gauge how serious of a thing he might've forgotten to mention. After all, his miraculous healing had been one of them.

"What's wrong?" she asks, because she assumes something is wrong. Something is always wrong.

"He tossed out an idea that he should go back. To get more intel. Everyone was against that idea but I think— I think that he thinks it's a good idea all the same." Berlin shudders at the notion. It's the exact opposite of what she wanted to do to her captors and the people who experimented on her. "Just— we're looking out for him and I know you are, too. But I thought you should know, he's not okay even if he seems like it sometimes." She knows everyone in Wolfhound is able to hide what they want to hide. And usually from the people who need to know the most.

She lets out a sigh, though, when they circle back to Avi. "Nothing's wrong," she is quick to explain, "or, at least, it's not super serious or world-endingly bad. Well, I hope you don't think so, anyway." She pauses there, because she's not really sure how to deliver news like this. Experimentations and world-ending bad is easier. "Avi did a DNA test and it turns out we're sisters after all."

"He what?" Emily nearly shouts, stiff with alarm after an initial start. It's likely a good thing she's hearing this from Berlin first rather than from Devon directly. The only reason she is able to hold her tongue about it, though the emotional spectrum she goes through as she processes the news is broad and visible, is that any outburst against the idea needs saved. She's not going to have the same reaction twice, after all.

Still, her mouth hardens into a line, and all she can do is nod at hearing he's in need of support. It was something she knew, even if she's not pressed it. Being forward in talking through their problems wasn't a strong suit on Emily or Devon's part.

The conversation circling back around does little to ease her nerves, even with the couching that it's not serious. By the time Berlin gets around to saying it, she's still so wound up from before it takes a whole beat for the revelation to really register. She blinks, gaze unfocusing as it takes her a moment to process. It's clear she doesn't know what to make of it— at least until she smiles, looking back Berlin's way. Her brow is still knit, but she smiles anyway. She's doing a much better job of not wearing her shifts in thought and mood in regard to this news.

"That doesn't sound like the end of the world to me," Emily quips, her voice soft. Her expression nears unreadable, supportive but cautious. "How about to you?"

"We're not going to let him do that," Berlin is quick to drop in, an attempt to mitigate some of that future outburst, "That's not happening. I just worry about the state he's in to even think of it. I don't know how to get him to feel comfortable talking about it, but I know it's not good to bury it. That's what I did. It didn't really work out well." There are a couple dead bodies that would tell a story about that, if only they could.

She lets Emily have her moment to process. She certainly had her own since she found out. She can't blame her for keeping her reaction guarded— it's not the sort of thing you hear every day. And it isn't the easiest thing, either. But when she comes around with a quip, Berlin lets out a chuckle. "No, not the end of the world," she says and she shakes her hair out of her face before she goes on, "I know Avi is, you know, Avi. But if nothing else, I think I got a pretty good sister out of the deal."

There's a lot to unpack, and Berlin's 'That's what I did' becomes another item on the pile. It's like Christmas, but with overwhelming amounts of news. Emily does her best with it, realizing not everything is going to get addressed now. She's visibly torn, though, wondering which conversational thread to pick back up first. In the middle of making that call, she lets out a short laugh of surprise. Sister.

"That's going to take some getting used to," she admits, not overwhelmed, but it clearly not having sunk in yet. Back when she had briefly been convinced she and Sibyl might actually be related, she had given a lot of thought to what that dynamic might be like were it true. After talking with Berlin before and realizing that there was an actual possibility there, she had been determined to treat her like one regardless of actual blood relation.

"Jesus," Emily murmurs. What did that look like aside from seeing each other only in times of crisis or when a favor was needed?

She blinks the wondering away, coming back to the moment with a small smile. "It's a good change to have to get used to. I'm glad it's you." Emily arches a brow before she asks with some amusement, "So does that mean when I tell you you can call me if you need anything that it carries a little more weight now?"

Her smile fades a little as she considers what kinds of things that might be taken up on, everything from the mundane to the downright irregular. "Do we…" she starts to ask, managing to finish it by phrasing it as, "How do we handle not knowing fuck all about each other?" Emily tries to avoid the question sounding awkward by making it brusque instead, even though the fold of her arms shift uncomfortably. Berlin might know far more about her than the reverse. "Do we fix it?" she asks. Are you up for sharing your life story? she means.

The question gets a laugh, just a light one. Like she's practicing that sense of humor she might have buried somewhere. "If you don't mind some dramatic nonsense now and then, I'll call. And I'll call when there's no dramatic nonsense, too. Just to keep things balanced. And you do the same. I don't know how good I am at family," she says, hands wringing for a moment as she looks over at Emily, "but I'll do my very best."

She has always wanted one, even if she never wanted to admit it.

The question, brusque those it is, doesn't seem to make Berlin uncomfortable. But she's also had some time to sit with this news and Emily hasn't. She lets out a little sigh, but nods. "We fix it." Her story isn't a pretty one, but she knows Emily's isn't all beer and skittles, either. "I was a Ferry kid. I grew up in a safehouse in Mexico. All I had from my mother was a name. Nathalie LeRoux. Our safehouse was raided by the Institute. That's how I know what Devon is going through. I was their experiment for years. The Ferry got me out when they raided the Arcology before the war. I ended up with the other orphans in Canada. I started going by Berlin. I hid everything about who I was and what I went through. What I can do." Those kids were a family. One she watched from a distance instead of trying to step into. "I went to the Albany trials, gave my testimony and stayed here to join Wolfhound. It's only been recently that anyone has known anything real about me at all. Like. Super recently." She gestures toward Emily, as if passing her the baton now. "That's the short version. How about you?"

No we'll fix it over time, they were doing this now apparently. It was a better plan than deferral, admittedly, but… wow. Emily nods when it's her turn, somewhat reserved as she gathers her thoughts. This wasn't the time to 'oh wow' about Berlin's life experience, though; she needed to respect it by sharing her own. "Before I met you, I'd basically had MS my entire life," she starts with, because it sets a frame of reference for some of the already-known.

"We moved to New York when I was very young, I barely remember anything at all from before. Better doctors here." Her brow lifts as she figures to add, "My parents had already split up by then." She shrugs and continues with the cadence someone tends to list an impersonal sequence of events. "I stayed in school until just after the Bomb, then did homeschooling. I was diagnosed with leukemia, and went into remission right in time for the civil war to start. We moved again, to Rhode Island where my mother's family is from. Tried to hide from it all. After the dust settled, I had a falling out with her. I moved home, she moved to KC. We haven't really spoken since, not the way we used to."

With a scoff, Emily turns to look around the living room. "She came into town and I saw her for the first time in over a year, said I wasn't really living on my own if I was still relying on Julie, my cousin. So I told her 'fuck you,' and I moved out here." Her brow ticks up in a sudden realization and she looks back to Berlin. "Oh, right — I'm living with a roommate here. His name's Teo, he's …"

It actually takes her a moment to summarize that one mentally before she says it, and she does so with a sigh. "He's actually fucking married to some guy in Wolfhound, though not for much longer. Some French guy… Francois?" She only remembers because of that book with the guy with the same name. (Little does she know it's actually the same man.)

After a beat, she rolls on. "I'm enrolled at Brooklyn College, was invited to intern at SESA, so I'm doing that to pay for college. No one except you knew I had any relation to Eileen Grey, until shit happened and she decided it would be a good idea to pull a friend of mine out of herself and into a bird, and even then," Emily pauses, her expression flattening. She glances back at Berlin and segues instead, "I can basically count on my hands the number of times I've seen my father in… The last ten years? Longer?"

Emily's back to sounding uncomfortable again. "So you probably know him better than I do," goes without saying, but she says it anyway. "You also now know about me more than basically every one of my friends do. They, um… I never told them my family name. After the internship started, some of them found out, because name tags are a thing."

She sighs long, thoughtful. Her voice lifts as she adds, "Speaking of names, my middle name is Allison? That's… that's basically everything." Her arms have unfolded at some point, hands twisting together while she speaks.

Berlin's been to a lot of debriefings, and she can't help feel like this is a little like one. Emily's distant tone keeps her from interjecting with sympathetic noises, as does the fact that she knew a lot of the worst things already. "Your mom sounds kinda harsh," she eventually comments. Sometimes her friends who have parents make her wonder which of them really got the raw end. Or if there was a good end to have.

When she mentions Francois, the recognition is obvious in Berlin's face. As is the fact that she adores him, the way her eyes seem to light up. "I know Francois," is what she ends up saying— a bit of an understatement. "He's co-running Wolfhound now with Avi. I never met his husband, though. They're… I mean, they're not living together?" Estranged families all over this apartment. She can't help but wonder if it's difficult, to love someone who has lived as long as Francois has, who's seen the sort of things he's seen.


Emily pauses, trying to keep herself both from sounding either frustrated about it or too defensive about it. "She just wants what's best. But it's what she thinks is best. And she's bitter I'm standing on my own without her. On some level, I get it, but I'm not just going to… not grow up or something because she liked it better the way things were before." Her hands interlock, fingers splayed out while she shrugs. "Things change." She glances down for a moment, biting her bottom lip to keep her from going on — and she could — for some time.

The light in her eyes shift as she tries to mentally put it all aside, and she forces a small smile as she looks back up. "Yeah, it's … a whole mess," she admits, sounding tired just at the mention of it. Plenty of messy interpersonal situations everywhere. "They're getting divorced. It—"

Well, it wasn't her business to go spreading around. "I only found out by accident," Emily explains hastily, shaking her head. Then her voice lifts with interest. "He runs Wolfhound with…?" she starts to ask, then blinks slowly as something about the end of that statement properly sinks in. The second time she blinks, it's much more rapidly, but also heavier. "Wait, what?" The last she knew her father was a part of the organization, an important name in it, sure, but not running it.

"She'll understand one day. She had to take her own steps, too, at some point," Berlin gives Emily a smile, if a dim one. "If it's worth anything, I think you're doing great." Spite certainly is an effective motivator, but whatever gets Emily driven is okay by Berlin.

When she hears the word divorce, she's obviously surprised by it. But only for a moment. Her features settle into a more thoughtful expression soon after. "That explains a lot about Francois, actually. Are we meddling?" She is clearly looking for her own bit of guidance there, whether it would be better to try to fix the pair or let them work out their own issue.

However, she's a little derailed. "We've recently had a… shift in the command structure. Let's say." That's the nice way to put it. "Avi and Francois are our ranking officers so they're top dogs now. We're all still adjusting. Especially with Devon's situation and— Avi's— " she lets out a sigh, long and heavy before she finishes, " —healing."

There's a spot of confusion, a tick of Emily's brow at the thought she's doing great. Perhaps she knew she was doing pretty good already, perhaps she didn't. Instead, now she has that compliment as backup for it. Thankfully, there's Teo and Francois's marital troubles to distract herself with, at least in the immediate. The question Berlin poses is met with a slight tilt of her head, not quite a shake. "I don't know. It's only meddling if it goes a step past gossip, isn't it?" she asks, voice low and conspiratorial. Teo wasn't here, but she's still possessed to drop her tone anyway.

Emily lifts her gaze back when Berlin lets out that heavy sigh, her brow arching until it's complete. Then, her whole look evens out. "Ah," she lets out in a simple note, very still while she considers it. Then she lets out a slower, less heavy sigh of her own accompanied with its own, "Yyyyyeah…"

About that.

She blinks several times, her brow starting to furrow as she works through what to say in response to that. Nothing witty, or even a bad quip comes. Instead, she draws Berlin into another embrace, this one much tighter than the first. Emily draws in a breath like she means to speak, but still no words come. Her hug twinges just a bit firmer in the absence of them.

"Yeah," is the only thing that escapes from her, but it sounds like a thanks.

"Maybe Francois will talk to me about it," Berlin says, her head tilting thoughtfully. The pair do share a connection, although she hasn't had occasion to press it. But she might. Love is on the line, after all. "That's just support, right? Not quite meddling." Surely.

When she finds herself pulled into a hug, she's surprised at first, but it's only a second before she returns it. The word Emily settles on makes Berlin smile, because it sounds like something Avi would say. But she knows better than to say so. "You might want to take that hug back eventually. He looks ready to get into some trouble." It's a tease, but there's some truth to it. Still, she doesn't regret her choice to bring him back from more than just his most recent attack. "But he has all of Wolfhound watching his back."

Emily still doesn't let go, even though she laughs from the tease. "Maybe," she admits, though she doesn't sound very serious in it either. When she lets go, she tips one shoulder up into a shrug. "But I was scared for him, you know? I… back when all that crazy shit with the sky was happening, I saw a world where he was gone. I saw his grave." She shifts uncomfortable at the sudden reverie even mentioning it prompts. "I remember what — what she felt like in that moment. I know I never want to feel like that; have that much unresolved."

She looks back up, a little sheepishness in it. "So it just… it means a lot."

After a beat, she lets out a short breath that ends with a smile. "Besides, if he's acting up, you all can just break his legs again, right?" Emily looks off with a slight shake of her head. The topic of her father's mortality is making her thoughts wander in order to escape lingering on it.

"Berlin, you've lived with all of this for a long time. All the…" The teen looks frustrated she can't come up with a better term for it, but she says anyway, "all the bullshit that you've been through, all the really serious shit you've seen with Wolfhound…" Emily looks back to her, brow furrowed. She looks like she already suspects the answer even as she asks, "Does it get any easier to deal with?" Her shoulders sag with the weight of what she knows already, and it's so small. So limited.

Berlin nods; she had her own experiences with the other worlds. Much of those memories being her around to a more blank expression, one she has to take a moment to push away again. "I understand. I'll take care of him." That's what she can do for Emily. Give her time. Give the pair of them time. "Even if it means breaking his legs now and then," she adds, answering the change in tone with a sideways smile.

But that smile dims at the question, and Berlin is quiet for a long moment. The answer is a difficult one.

"You get used to it. The more comes at you, the less it catches you off guard." Which sounds good and well. "But I really hope that doesn't happen to you. Because it makes you hard. Less of everything affects you. It makes it easy to make awful choices that no one should ever have to make. They slide right off. You have to remind yourself how to feel things. How to stay… human, I guess."

Emily shakes her head at that. Not because she doesn't believe Berlin, but because it's not something she'd wish for anyone, especially not her. She bites back an apology of all things, a sympathetic I'm sorry just for what the other has gone through. Instead, she tries to focus on being grateful for the candor. "I'm…" she starts, hesitant. The confession's a hard one to make. "I don't know what to do with it sometimes. I don't know how to live with learning some of these things and not being able to fix them. Or not being able to — I don't know, understand them. How some of these things even happened. The why behind them."

Her jaw works to the side and then back as she figures, "There's no reason to want to know on some of it, I feel like."

"The why is always the longest in coming," Berlin says, her hands tightening on Emily's arms in her own show of sympathy, "and there are things that aren't fixed, just… adjusted to. SESA will help, though, in learning ways you can fix things. Or at least help to do something about them. And it doesn't have to be anything dangerous, either. Desk jobs sound boring, but logistics and intel processing and things like that are vital. Investigations, forensics. No one does it alone. That's the important thing to take to heart. You never have to do it alone and you really shouldn't." Her head tilts, because there is a more active piece of advice she has, she just has to decide if it's a smart thing to bring up. But then, it would be hypocritical of her to try to shelter Emily just because she happens to be her sister.

"You know what helps? Genuinely helps. Learn to fight. Self defense, for example. It won't always solve every problem, but it help you to feel… like you can do something, if the worst happens."

It's tempting to shake her head, because she doesn't feel like she's able to fix anything at SESA, but she also isn't fully with them, and she's impatient. Instead, Emily takes the advice for what it's worth, firms her lips in a tiny smile for it being given. The advice about self-defense is easier to take, and she straightens her posture after hearing it. "You know?" she asks rhetorically, almost conspiratorially. "I've been trying. Teo's helped me— with a lot."

Emily feels awkward after saying as much, so her brow furrows and she shakes her head. "Small things," she reassures, because she for some reason feels the need to. Like somehow she needs to justify that her ex-terrorist "He's showing me how to take better care of my gun. How to handle if someone tries to get in my head."

In reflecting on it, her relief for having that experience under her belt reveals itself. "It really does help with feeling more secure," she admits.

Berlin lifts an eyebrow at the conspiratorial tone, but a smile follows once the words are out. Her approval comes in a firm nod. "That's good. I think I like this roomate of yours. It's always good to know your gun, inside and out. And it can be sort of meditative, after a while." Which might be telling of how much time she spends with a gun, but she doesn't seem to mind the implication. "He's helping you learn to resist telepathy? I never thought about that— " Honestly, she could almost feel bad for any telepath who tried to sneak into her head. No telling whose memories they would find.

"Hell yeah it does. You tell me if you ever want a sparring partner. The more you drill, the faster it all becomes second nature." She stops herself there, taking a beat and looking a little sheepish. "I'm sure Teo has already told you all that," she says with a wave of her hands. "Let's… go eat or something," she says, as if this might keep her from saying something dumb. And maybe it will.

At least for a little while.

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