We've Got To Stop Meeting Like This


emily_icon.gif zachery2_icon.gif

Scene Title We've Got To Stop Meeting Like This
Synopsis While definitely not having gone to Fournier-Bianco to check on Zachery, she runs into him in the lobby.
Date May 4, 2021

Fournier-Bianco Memorial Hospital

Sipping coffee's become a routine on Emily's visits to Fournier-Bianco Memorial Hospital, and she sits in the hospital lobby next to the little coffee stand that keeps odd hours with a fresh cup clutched between both hands.

There's been a lot to think about these last few weeks. Since everything coalesced wildly and then exploded in life-changing ways that feel like they happened only just yesterday and also an eternity ago now. Moments like these help her regroup and sort out her thoughts.

She brings herself here for those reasons alone these days. At least every other, if she can't manage more than that.

Never has she dared head up the stairs, though, to check on more than one of the patients she knows to be here. She can't qualify why, exactly, just…

Well. She's sure, for one thing, he wouldn't want anyone else fawning or fretting over him. Nicole had to be doing enough of that for them all.

Words come Emily's way like a bullet.

"You're in a hospital!"

A familiar, mangled accent clings to them on their gravelly, displeased way out. "Fuck's sake, give that here."

But the words are not aimed at anyone in the lobby — they come from down the hallway, where the sounds of scuffing shoes are followed by a quiet 'what the fuck' from a third party, before Zachery finally rounds the corner in a tiredly staggered step, stolen cigarette held between his fingers, shoulders hunched up under hospital gown, and making his barefooted, sweatpants-clad way over to get some shitty fucking coffee.

"Smoking in a hospital, what's wrong with you." He shoves a cup into the holder of the machine, and plants the lit cigarette into his own mouth so as to free his hand to push buttons. Tunnel vision is a go.

The sound of raised voices will forever set Emily on edge, given her history, her upbringing. So she stills and turns, and when the sound of the voice is familiar, her brow begins to pull together.

When he comes around the corner and occupies his hands to mess with the machine, she acts swiftly and quickly. She silently sweeps up rather than making a clatter.

She plucks the lit cigarette right from Zachery's mouth and then takes a step back immediately to avoid immediate negative physical reaction.

"You know what interferes with healing?" Emily asks pointedly, for all the off-handedness of it. "Alcohol's a big one, so kudos for keeping from that." Theoretically. She assumes at least, given he looks well after everything that happened only a few weeks ago. "Nicotine also doesn't do you any favors, you know."

There she is, a light grey cardigan worn over her sleeves, in a tee and jeans. She's not here for work, that much is sure.

All at once, the removal of the cigarette causes Zachery to turn his head to put Emily in his limited cone of vision— and also promptly to choke on whatever smoke he just inhaled in surprise.

A cough and startled step back later, he's clutching his chest, claw-grip tight into the thin fabric of his gown. "Fhf—," he squeezes a noise that probably would have been a cursing out of his throat, a wince pressing both empty and functional eye shut as he hunches further forward. "Fucking shit, Em. You're like a punter smelling a dropped quid."

"I'm— going to both assume that's an insult, and also wear it like a badge of pride," Emily tells him, trying to keep from smiling at his disgruntlement. That'd be rude.

And they're never rude to each other, surely.

While he's in the process of coughing through his surprise at seeing her, she chances a brief toke of the cigarette, decides it's absolutely not for her as she resists retching from the taste, and then goes about putting the thing out in the bottom of another cup.

"You're up and about earlier than I'd have figured after…"

She only gets that far before trailing off, and lobs the cigarette-bearing cup into the trash.

"Tch," Zachery scoffs, thudding a palm flat against the coffee machine as if to catch himself for a moment, before the hand against his chest presses flatter. "Don't start on me like the nurses are, now. They're all stitches this, internal bleeding that."

Not that he seems entirely unbothered, still gritting his teeth between sentences to stave off physical unease. But, finally getting a good look at Emily now, he cracks a crooked grin despite. "What's the matter? Shops downstairs out of 'get well' cards for me?"

"I think there are rules against subjecting people to torture like that," Emily opines blithely, a complete manner of disaffect donned for the sake of the conversation. "Which— I think forcing yourself to be up and around before you're proper ready for it counts as that. Against yourself."

She doesn't reach for him, but her concern is apparent. Watching each sign of distress— pain— intently, eyes flitting up and down from his hands to his face. "I've got a table, though, if you'd want to sit for a bit." Her head turns just slightly in the direction of the seat she abandoned, her own cup still there steaming.

And what a lovely table it is, Zachery shifts the focus like a champ, promptly attempting to relax his posture and grabbing his cup in one hand and a fistful of sugar packets and assorted sweeteners in the other before heading over to aforementioned furniture.

He drags a seat back and heavily slumps back into it, setting the coffee down and craning his neck to look at Emily. "Who're you here for? The— other kid? What's his name? Laaar…?" He tries his best, then frowns, and says, "Shit, I forgot sugars, can you get me some, ah—" He begins to motion over to the machine, but finds himself doing so with sweet stuff still grasped tightly in the motioning hand.


He rolls his jaw, stares at the packets, then looks at Emily again. "Lance." Got it in one. His grin returns, unbothered, then ticks one unit tighter. "… You didn't get hurt, did you?"

Emily is in the process of sitting down herself when Zachery realises his mistake, and she keeps her expression placid. No need to cause any alarm when he's already figured out his whoops for himself. Right?

His question doesn't quite bring her to smile, but she gamely points out, "Thanks to a certain pair of idiots, no. But also thanks to that certain pair of idiots, it was a close call. Between nearly being plastered by the truck when it turned over, and only barely stopping myself from dragging you back after you went down…"

She delicately sips her own drink and then carefully sits it back down before regarding Zachery out of the tops of her eyes. "Emotional damage aside, of course. Has anyone told you what happened after we made our escape?"

Whether or not his answer going unquestioned bothers Zachery goes unspoken. He ends up tossing the sweeteners across the table one by one before beginning to empty the rest into his cup, one by one.

"No," he replies easily, clearing his throat with a shift of weight in his seat. "Why would they tell me anything? I was just a… straggler caught in the crossfire. Just a fucking robot trying to run away from home." He glances up at Emily between sugar pours, but only briefly. "You never should have been there, either."

"Some of those robots happen to be my friends," Emily answers evenly without lifting her eyes from the sugar packet tossed against the side of her cup. "And I wanted answers for them. Because if we can get them nothing else, they deserve answers as to what happened to them. If we're real lucky, maybe even why."

She picks up the packet and tears it over her cup, letting it spill. "But I'll take whatever we can get at this point."

"You shouldn't settle for that." Zachery looks up again, giving up halfway into his third sugar packet and dropping it wholesale. As it spills granules out onto the table, he stares at Emily, crow's feet pushing ever so slightly deeper on the side of his remaining eyeball, gaze sharpening. "We should settle for nothing short of blood at this point. Who cares about the why of it?"

He lowers his voice, but his grin flares back up. "Do you ask a fist why? Or do you punch back?"

Looking up more sharply than before, Emily answers, "I have to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else. It happened to my friends, and I know that, but I can't assume you're the only ones whose lives have been wrecked like this. Beyond me having that concern as a person, it's literally my job."

Settling back into her seat a bit more heavily, she points out in a quieter voice still, "And was I wrong? I… don't think so, Zachery. The shit we found…" Her voice takes on a positively haunted quality by the end, her gaze going distant. She tries to reel herself back to the present with a shake of her head, letting out a shudder of a breath. Her earlier hardness has returned. "We stop them from hurting others, first. And once they're cut off…"

She looks back up to him, the simple look in her eyes and posture almost preternaturally conveying she too wants blood.

It's a look that only further serves to bring the life back to Zachery, bit by bit, a laugh drawn from him that comes out in staggered, unplanned breaths. Alrighty then.

"Find the aorta, is what you're saying," he replies, leaning a little closer and canting his head so as to properly center Emily in his vision. "And cut the supply off right at the source. But how are we supposed to do that when we're not even privy to where the body is?" He lifts his cup, adding over the top of it. "Unless you are."

"It's a multinational organization, I'm forced to assume, given the Sandman's involvement in attempting to kidnap Squeaks, the use of a British operative, and apparent ties in with the entire fucking Sectioning system," Emily says over the top of her own cup, almost whispering the words for how quiet she knows they need to be. "Your plane crash happened over Canada, which implied an approach from the West rather than Europe, too. We'll find the heart of the body yet. The outlines… are being worked on."

"People with higher clearance than I do probably know more," she admits, blowing on her coffee though it doesn't need it before she takes her next sip. Her eyes stay down on the drink. "I'm… lucky, in no uncertain terms, to know as much as I do."

"Which brings me back to worrying if the top will really be blown off this thing or not." Emily lowers her cup but keeps it hovered off the table, cradled between both hands. "The UK bombed Whitehearth, blamed Mazdak for it. Follow-ups on any of the footage I recorded is going to be…"

"Severe?" Zachery offers, light and casual and, as has been a habit of his, entirely without changing his tone of voice. The whole world may know what they're talking about - even if right now that world is blessedly just this empty lobby.


He moves quickly on, with a lazy spread of his fingers as if to swat away a fly - or to denote some change of subject. With an unblinking stare, he asks of Emily, "Do you feel it?"

The way Emily's expression falls when he says severe, the way her eyes avert, indicates that's not the case. No matter how much she'd like it to be the case. A shudder of a breath later, she shakes her head and pulls her drink up again for a deeper pull, one needed to warm her soul from the chill of the thought that those people would get away with what they'd done.

Because they won't. They can't. There's no rhetorical right? that follows, even internally, because it just…

It can't.

The question is a good enough distraction back to the present, and she works through a hard swallow as she lifts her eyes back to Zachery, giving him a slightly quizzical peer. "Feel what?" she wonders in return.

There's a solidity to the answer Zachery gives, his voice level with the same confidence that summons a ill-fitting smile back onto his face. "I don't remember falling," he says. "I don't remember pain, or blood in my broken throat, or the very light leaving me. But I do remember… waking up. What I feel is—"

He sets his coffee down, and leans closer over the table, if only just. The corners of his mouth twitch further outward still. "Something's changed, dear Emily. I don't know what, yet, but it's good. It's going to be good."

At first, all Emily can do is sit through his reaction. She doesn't try, for once, to grapple with what he's said— or empathize with it— in any of her usual ways. She starts to, but her eyes shift off of his, to his cheek rather than directly at him, and she shifts her grip around her cup.

People deal with near-death experiences in different ways. Each and every last. And hey, maybe it's for the best he took something good away from all of that?

Only later will she nervously reflect back on his wording— 'had she felt something'. Like he'd seen right through her. Like he knew after all what she's been capable of all this time.

As long as it doesn't involve trying to throw your life away, robot life or not, I'm all for seeing what good it could be, Emily answers him with a slanted look she eventually directs away from him to observe the comings and goings of persons nearby. "God knows we're fucking due for a good turn."

She lets that sit for a moment before glancing back to him, an urgentness to it like she's concerned he might suddenly be… not there, perhaps. "Aside from that, you sure you're doing well? Healing well?"

With Emily redirecting her attention elsewhere, Zachery's follows. He looks at the table again, pinning sugar packets with his middle finger one by one, lining them all up in front of him.

"I am," he decides, before a slight raise of his eyebrows between sugar packet relocations. "If I exhale too far I can taste blood. That's probably slightly worrying." Not that he sounds like the worry is finding its way to him. "But all of it's staying on the inside now, and that's a vast improvement. Plus, this time when I got shot, at least it was because people were aiming for me. I feel like that's preferable, don't you?"

He's not looking up when she draws the face she does, concern eminent. It's a flattening of her expression rather than one that makes it look like her heart is worn on her sleeve; the quiet kind which will later be talked about in quiet voices.

Ultimately, she silently concedes that he's doing better than he was before to be … good. "I mean, it at least makes it easier to identify why it happened," Emily jokes in a tone flat and crisping at its edges. "It's not a 'hey, what in the fuck did I—'"

One blink, and Emily's eyes are back to Zachery again with a contained, but still present shrill of quiet alarum in them and her voice. "I'm sorry," she says with zero pause between the broken statement and her new one. "This time?"

"This time," Zachery echoes like it's the end of a riddle's set-up. Except then, his face falls also, and he aims a lazy look at Emily again as a realisation hits him. "I never told you about—…?"

As if he's told Emily much of anything to do with his past. Their communication has always been less direct. It takes him an almost violent stretch forward of his arms as if to physically push past something, before he settles back in his chair and casts his gaze upward to think on how to put this.

When he finds his words, they're slow, like he's recalling something from a story he's been told. "Some time after 2012, I was… between safe houses. I'd been approaching any roughed up bastards who looked desperate enough to respond with less than a knife to me throwing my hands up and going, 'I'm a doctor! I can help!'" A disapproving click of his tongue leaves him, and he starts messing with the sugar packets again. Lining them all up again, except lengthwise this time.

"One day," he continues with a dry chuckle, "I hear gunfire, so I run. Except I run the wrong direction, and into some Ferrymen. Who, I assume, the bullet that ended up grazing my scapula was for. Don't remember much after that."

"Christ. At least you didn't get, like, Professor X'd." Emily blinks hard, the extent of her sympathetic wince for that news. She lets out a slow exhale and adds, "Perhaps we can try less to be in situations where we might be shot."

A beat. There's a semi-natural segue she wants to make, one little secret she wants to share. A little truth she doesn't tell anyone, the kind she usually goes over when she runs into him.

Should she say it? That's irrelevant.

"I had a gun on me in London on that trip. Pretty sure it was a gun the other guy had, and not a taser, at least. Torchlight." The explanation in fragments will have to do. "We were hiding, trying to not be found. Guy's partner had heat vision eyes, though, could see our footsteps where we'd walked on the carpet." She lets out a slow breath. "It was— tense. Me and— the guy I was there with," because like he'll remember or care who Cooper is, "We were able to make a distraction and get away, but I really thought for a second we were going into a deep, dark hole."

"But you didn't," Zachery replies all too quickly.

He's staring across at Emily again now, his voice steady, brow knitting as he presses down on a sugar packet hard enough for it to look like it's about to burst. But then— he chuckles again, the next few words leaving him in as much of a laugh as an observation. "Against the odds, outnumbered. Do you even know how to use a gun? And they were using—"

He blinks, and all at once he shrinks back in his seat, darting a look off to their environs before he attempts to catch himself by adding quickly, "What were you saying? Heat… vision eyes? On their side."

He caught himself, at least. It sounds casual, the way he winds back to it, rather than the troubling issue it is.

"Right," Emily notes emptily, the word a platitude. "We just managed to get into public and ran until the, uh—" She brings one hand to her face, fingers digging in to massage her forehead, face, eyes messily. "The agent we were with pulled up and got us onto the street."

"Fuck," she breathes out tiredly, eyes closed now. "I hope he's doing okay, too. Haven't… checked, really, on him."

"Just the one who doesn't need it," she laughs, hand falling to the table, eyes opening to level them on Zachery with an amused knowing. "Who doesn't want it."

"You should check in with him," Zachery wastes no time in replying, "People like that sort of stuff. Now, me, I could take you or leave you." One shoulder pops up in a half shrug as he meets that knowing look with one of his own.

He drags a hand over his face, scrubbing his palm at the beginnings of a wry grin, distraction setting in again as he looks over his shoulder, like there might be some cookies next to the coffee machine. There are not. "You know, it's almost a shame I'm not here for this talk, isn't it?"

"You are, though," Emily counters more softly than she'd been speaking before. It bleeds reassurance, even if he'd look back to not see much visual sign of it. "Whatever the fuck all this is, you're still you." She settles her hand around her drink again after that gentle insistence.

"I'm someone," Zachery counters as he studies Emily's face. "But I don't think I'm the me you're thinking of. I'm not the me who should be here."

He stays too still for how cold his voice gets, and his eyebrows slant in a twitch, uncertainty and confusion more visible than he'd like. "I can't be completely wrong in thinking that."

"You might be a goddamned robot," Emily concedes, lifting her drink again to glance at him. "But you're also still you. And acting accordingly, honestly. Acting how even I imagine I might, were I in your shoes." She sips and sets it down, watching the lip of the cup rather than her conversation partner as she picks up a more careful tone.

"You went from waking up powerless to learning you've been maimed in even worse ways than that," she points out in nearly a murmur. "That it took you some… six? months before you snapped after that and abandoned your life entirely?" Her mouth twinges, wanting to frown but withholding. "I'm surprised it took that long."

"Were I in your shoes, I'd insist the same thing you are. But I'm in mine, and I see you, no matter what's been done to you." A beat, before she clarifies, "You you. And… the real you, if you are a replacement. Both."

A scoff of a breath leaves her before she acknowledges in a warning tone, "I did the same with Devon, so don't fucking argue with me that this is just me being… stupid or overly empathetic or something." The defense comes out weak in shape, but no less biting for it.

Looking past Emily, Zachery's expression twists into a sharp distaste. "You're not. You rarely are. You don't let it be known, anyway."

He dismissively waves a sugar packet, then points it at Emily again. "Right. Devon. The one who assaulted me with a piece of furniture, and also punched me in the nose. Who…" He blinks, before his attention slips somewhere off into his thoughts again, focus hazily ahead of him.

"Seemed reconstructed." He may not have abilities, but he recalls the feeling of them well enough. Distraction weighing his words down like an anchor, he asks, "What happened to him? With… both of you?"

The question throws Emily off-guard entirely, eyes averting down and away in a telegraph of a sudden desire to be anywhere but facing that question. "He, um…"

Delicately, she smooths down her pantleg and insists diplomatically, "We're fine. We've been fine. Since everything that happened, he's been— incredibly— well, you know."

Great to her, in other words.

"I just… haven't told him about any of this."

And she definitely doesn't feel suddenly and incredibly guilty about that.

Zachery's coffee sits abandoned, his interest elsewhere. On a poster warning of the fires, on a slightly crooked ceiling tile. All the same, he wastes no time in asking, when Emily falls quiet, "And why not?"

"The fuck are you supposed to start with any of this?" Emily breathes out right away, a little bewildered. It's rare for her to show precisely how overwhelmed she is, but that's in part due to the compartmentalization actively required to keep it together after everything she's been through, everything she's seen. She turns back to Zachery to ask blithely, "And for what purpose? So he can worry about me over shit that's already happened? Again? So I can tell him things that are classified and just hope he doesn't tell anyone else, because then half of the damn Safe Zone will know?"

Her shoulders shift, posture closing off slightly to try and rein in her reaction. She gives a subtle shake of her head to toss all those emotions back where they belong— elsewhere, for later. "There's so much to unpack in it, to be honest. We… we don't have to share everything, do we?" It's a rhetorical, but one she seems interested in knowing nonetheless. In her defense she offers up, "I'm sure there's plenty about his work with Wolfhound I don't know about."

Zachery watches Emily with slack entering his posture, his mouth opening as if in order to interrupt her except that he only just utters, to himself, "Oh."

He ends up just holding his hands up in front of him, as if in an attempt to calm her down, but also cracks an involuntary grin that sits awkwardly on his face as he replies, a little slowly, "I don't… precisely know what I was… going for. I think I lost the thread again, but it doesn't matter—" he insists, only just swallowing back an incredulous laugh that makes it partway out. His words leave him faster now, confidence drifting back to the surface with a squaring of his shoulders. "We don't have to do anything, Emily. No one has to do anything. We weigh our options, make our choices, and then hope we've gauged the probabilities well enough to come out standing."

Hands still up, he asks, "Did you think I cared? About you two?"

No, she answers just as immediately, the same edge of nerve in it as before. She looks directly into his good eye as she lets out an incredulous laugh of her own. "You were just making conversation, and I'm …" Emily blinks, a beat passing before she lamely concludes, "Answering, apparently."

She gives it a moment longer, her heel shifting against the ground before she dips her head slightly. "How long has that been going on, by the way?" she asks cautiously. "The… issue with…"

Ever the one to beat around the bush, she doesn't come out with repeating the issue he hinted at unless a need proves itself.

For all the energy suddenly in the room, Zachery stays seated, calmly, his grin settling into something a little more at ease. This is fine.

He lets a few second's silence pass before answering, "Changing the subject, are we? Good." He gives a shrug, and points off in a seemingly random direction. "I woke up like that— I think. When I was here that other time? Removing a chunk of your brain, implanted or not, does funny things. Go figure."

He tears one of the sugar packets open to pour directly into his mouth, but not before saying, "Maybe that's where my last smatterings of dignity went too."

Go figure, Zachery says, and Emily solemns.

She lets out a tone of acknowledgement for what he's said, sitting there for a moment— long enough for him to dispense with the sugar packet, anyway— before offering up, "Yeah, brain surgery tends to… mess with you." She pulls herself back up into a proper sit rather than let herself wince on his behalf, rotating the paper coffee cup while it's still left on the table's surface. "In ways that can't even be qualified, sometimes, and that's without your special circumstance."

Emily shakes her head once. "But anyway," she digresses. "I don't know that I necessarily meant to change the topic, just…" Dithering, she lifts her other hand up in a bland, vague gesture toward everything. "I'm still worried about you. Character fault of mine, I know."

"It's a terrible flaw," Zachery agrees, failing to hold back a chuckle that he rides out while crumpling up the bit of waxed paper in his hand while giving Emily a look that turns a little sterner than he has been. "I've sort of gotten used to it. Strangely. I don't lose what I forget forever. It comes back around, like so many things, when you give it time."

He straightens, arms going wide like he's physically presenting the revelation that pushes his eyebrows up again. "Speaking of which. Do you know why I hated being at the Elmhurst hospital so much? Back when I worked as an orderly? Besides the fact I worked there as an orderly?"

"Oh," Emily sighs wearily, sinking into wondering. "Are we sure this isn't a case of take your pick?" She glances at him out of the corner of her eye.

"… Fine," Zachery breaks with something between a scoff and a chuckle, averting his gaze off to the side, "all right, yes, there were… many reasons."

He waves them aside for now, continuing in a more thoughtful tone of voice. "But part of it was… the thing you got so upset with me for, one time." A corner of his lips curls upward, if only for a moment. "The way I was using the ability I had, and how I wasn't using it to do… basically anything. I just carried it with me. Some days, it was easy to shut off. Other days, I couldn't seem to go five feet without knowing the person in the room next door had a migraine, or an organ failing, or had a cancer absolutely embroidered into them without even knowing. And that knowledge sat there. Taking up energy. Things unaddressed."

He clears his throat, suddenly, like he's been talking long enough. The dry look at Emily that follows is accompanied by a sharp exhale, before he concludes with a smirk, "Anyway, I think that's sort of exactly like me caring about you too. I'm glad you're… well enough. And I don't think I've said."

":I think you did miss saying as much before in all the shock I was alive after all," Emily acknowledges gracefully, resisting the urge to dig in on that front. "But it's appreciated. Thank you."

Well enough, after all, is all either of them can hope to be on any given day.

Swinging what's left of her cup back around for another sip, she lets out a sigh. "I should probably go for now, let you get back to resting. Or undoing your rest. Your prerogative, after all." The coffee lands back on the table with a nearly-hollow thud as she looks back to Zachery. "I've verified you're well enough, and that was all I hoped for, after all. I could probably stop by and see how Gutierrez is doing, but…" Her nose wrinkles at the thought. "Well, I don't really know him."

"Fuck him," Zachery says flatly, of Gutierrez. "I'm sure he's got family, or whatever."

He doesn't look too bothered by the notion of being left alone, but he does lean forward again to say, eyebrows popping up, "Go on, leave poor ol' me to the quiet of having to do fuck-all. But do me a favour. Something to think on, not to reply to. Maybe I've gone mad, or maybe…"

He shakes his head, and looks up at Emily properly again, folding his arms on the table in front of him. "If I am me, and I live my life like I've worked to earn everything that comes my way, then what is owed to the Zachery you met? What does that leave, if not nothing?"

Ever one for ignoring guidelines in favor of something that suits her conscience better, Emily replies as she comes to her feet. "It leaves you something, too. It leaves both of you something. And that's something you'll have to figure out when we find him." She reaches down to bring her trash along with her and tilts her hand slightly out in an open gesture, cup and all. "But it doesn't mean either of you are any less you than the other. There's not one of you that deserves your life and one of you that doesn't."

Pending finding out you're secretly an anti-Evolved terrorist plant designed to steal secrets and ruin lives, of course, she levies in bone-dry sarcasm. "But you've proved yourself to be a terrible one, even if you are. We might give you a second chance yet."

A smirk comes over her and she gives him a squint of sympathy for the boredom of being confined to the hospital. "I'll come back soon, yeah?"

Zachery holds to his own rules, saying no more on the subject of deserving. The look he gives Emily, though, speaks for him - a steady gaze, mouth a thin line of forced patience. Patience for her to finish so he can ignore her words entirely. Or try to.

Sure. He leans lazily back in his seat and turns his face up toward the ceiling to sigh, in a dramatic show of how terrible it is following the rules for once. "Bake me one of those cakes with a crowbar in it, will you."

In a scrape of extra words, like they don't quite want to leave him, he adds while still peering upward, "And be safe."

Pitching her cup in the direction of the nearby trash bin, Emily pretends she doesn't hear the latter, or at least she has enough sense to not respond to it.

Kindness is something to hold close and quiet, not be made loud, either pleasantly or unpleasantly.

"Stop tasting blood when you breathe and I'll even put icing on it," she promises glibly. Hardly a beat elapses before she heads off, very clearly for the nearest exit rather than to an elevator bank. "May the Fourth be with you, Zachery."

She makes sure to be gone before the last bit is reacted to, determined not to be questioned or chastised for at least that particular choice in her life.

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