Whole Authentic Self


emily_icon.gif raquelle_icon.gif

Scene Title Whole Authentic Self
Synopsis After hearing Raquelle on the radio, Emily gets up the nerve to stop by.
Date April 25, 2019

Raquelle's Salon, Red Hook

When the salon door swings open unexpectedly, it might be surprising to see it's Emily Epstein holding it open while the chime tinkles. She's not been by since her last explosive visit; not to apologize, not otherwise, either. She seems all too aware of that as it takes her a long moment to muster up anything to say, so the teenager opts to gingerly step across the threshold instead, letting the door pull itself shut behind her.

“I heard you on the radio,” she finally says by way of greeting. “I… wanted to see how you were doing.”

Much less ferocious than the girl who stood here hardly a month past.

“You sounded good.” Emily says, voice lifting lightly. There's caution hidden in it. An I'm sorry hides somewhere beneath that.

Raquelle looks up from where he’s currently writing in an account book, to quirk an eyebrow and smile softly at Emily as she arrives. He just stares at her for a few moments, just staring and giving a small shake of his head. He rises from his chair to make his way around the chair and opening his arms for a hug. “You heard me hunh? Well…dayum, there goes my oh so clever secret identity.” He just chuckles lowly.

“Thank you baby, that’s kind of you. I’m okay. You doing better?”

There's a soft wince at the kindness he shows her, a reluctance in the hug she gives. Emily has never really been a hugger herself, but there's something more to it. Forgiveness, or whatever Raquelle was showing her, is hard to accept. “Yeah,” she starts hesitantly before her cadence tapers to something more conversational. “Yeah, I'm doing a lot better.”

She means it. It shows in how she glances up, in the missing weight from her gaze and her posture. She looks more like her usual featherweight of a self, not whatever she'd been since January, when her hugs had been a little tighter, a little longer, and her gaze filled with something like despondence.

“Liz ended up being right,” is something she looks like she might laugh at if she weren't wincing again. “Devon… survived. Somehow.” Her eyes start to darken for a moment, focusing on the web of concerns there ever so briefly before she shakes her head to come back to the present — to the positive. “We don't know how, and there's looking into it being done but — he's safe. He's home.”

It's taken her this long to crack a smile, but she does. A wry one washes over her as she reaches out to bump her knuckles against his bicep, teasing him, “And what do you mean secret identity? You practically left a calling card!” She even chuckles before she adds, “And besides, the first time I ever saw you were singing.”

There is a pause before Raquelle just shifts his hug to keep an arm wrapped around Emily, giving a firm nod and leaning down to kiss the top of her head. “Good. Next time you’re feelin’ like the shark during shark week, I’ve got 3 different types of pills behind the front desk.”

It’s a gentle tease, no venom there but an acknowledgement that he hasn’t forgotten what took place last time Emily visited. He winks and cracks a smirk but still takes time to nod slowly as he continues to listen. “You aren’t a parent, so your pain you can wear on the surface. But when you are a parent…your pain has to be kept down deep and carefully guarded or else you won’t be able to breathe.”

That’s the only insight he gives there before tilting his head to the side with a laugh. “Okay, okay, fair point. I just wanted to do…something. I can’t do much but, I can run my mouth so.”

He shrugs, staring off at nothing for a bit, a flicker of sadness crossing his well painted features before he quickly shakes his head.

One side of Emily’s mouth tugs into a smile before she wraps her arm around his side, squeezing him firmly in her grip. “I bet you she heard. And now she’s got a whole song that someone sang for her, too. She’s got to be feeling a little less alone.” Or that was the hope, anyway.

She shifts her weight, grip loosening on him. Raquelle is regarded with a slant of her head, bangs sliding over her face and hiding one of her eyes. “I saw my dad again, after we found Devon.” Emily is not entirely sure where it comes from, or why that’s an appropriate segue, but she says it nonetheless. “We… I’m not sure you could say we talked, because we didn’t, really, but we were together for a while. He— got hurt earlier this month, too. The hospital called me.”

Her eyes narrow for a moment at some unfortunate fact before she glances back to Raquelle uncertainly. “I’m listed as an emergency contact for him.” It doesn’t feel right to leave it hanging just on that note, so she quickly adds, “I got a roommate, too. An apartment, actually. It’s — it’s a townhome? It’s near the College.” Emily sounds more confident on that last detail, despite the truth to all of them. “It’s been weird, but interesting.” Her nose wrinkles before she adds, “He’s a friend of Eve’s.”

Raquelle returns the firm squeeze with one of his own and gives a small nod. “That’s what I’m hoping.”

Then he shifts back to listening mode, narrowing his eyes slightly and following along as he guides Emily towards the couches in the ‘waiting area’ and hmms thoughtfully. “Family, even when it's difficult, still has to be there for…family. Last time I talked to my dad he was was trying to smuggle me and my family out of the US years ago before we got relocated. It can be complicated.”

He smiles wryly and then laughs softly. “A friend of How Stella Got Her Crazy Back? How’s that going baby?”

Emily can’t help but chuckle in return, looking up at him as she settles into a seat. Her hands fold in her lap. “It’s… going better than I thought it’d be, to be honest.” she admits, a touch of brightness to it. “His name’s Teo? There’s like — three of him. Fucking alternate timeline business. But the one I live with, he’s all right. A bit of a mess, but I’m starting to think that’s something everyone is.”

There’s a faint smile for the comment, along with a shrug. She always found herself in the middle of a strange web of people, it seemed, but most of them were relationships for the better, at least. She knows in her heart of hearts there will be issues down the line, of some kind, but she’s resigned herself to that she can’t live life actively trying to avoid them.

Addressing the subject of fathers is a difficult one to continue down as the other half of her news around him, what had happened to him earlier this month felt too heavy to bear discussion around. “Sorry,” she finally stammers out, her brow furrowing after several attempts to speak. “I just — it doesn't feel right of me to bring up any other drama after the last time, because…”

Well, because she'd done what she did. “You open your place up, your whole heart up, to lots of people. I didn't listen to you then, and I should have.” Emily's brow furrows and she shrugs meekly. Apparently, even if Raquelle won't leverage any serious reprimand against her, she'll do it to herself. “It's the least I could have done.”

There is a long pause as Raquelle leans over the back of the couch, resting his elbows along the back and listening for a moment, submitting names and details to memory before he just leans to the side a bit to nudge Emily with a soft chuckle and shake of his head.

It’s the apology though that makes him blink a few times and he hmmms softly. Then he comes around the question, settling down beside Emily and shrugging a shoulder. “I want you to always feel like you can be your whole authentic self when you come here. That includes the drama, the tears, and the smiles as well.”

Then he takes a deep breath and worries his bottom lip. “You’re young darling. I know that. I’m not the only voice in your head. But…let's just in the future, know I’m never going to suggest you do anything that will hurt you.”

“I know that,” Emily replies immediately, unhappily. “Which is why I'm mad with myself, more than anything.” Her hands tighten their clasp around each other as she glances back apologetically. In effort to do better in that knowing, she lifts her head a little higher. “I'm going to work on doing better,” she promises. It's a vow made more to do better to her spectrum of friends, one she's going to try to uphold.

There's another hitch of hesitation, a glance down at her lap before she looks back up. Like a lens has flipped, worry is there that there wasn't before. “Speaking of… way back when,” she starts, eyes sharpening as she stares just slightly off of Raquelle. “Something happened earlier this month with my dad, something I thought — hoped — I don't know,” but she should, and now does for sure, “I had hoped after the war that shit like this wouldn't ever happen at all, and especially not to him.”

Reining in her ramble before it gets any worse, she clarifies succinctly, “My dad was attacked by some Pure Earth assholes earlier this month. Probably over shit back then, even though he does what he does now. Maybe. I don't know.” She breathes finally. “He's — he's fine now, or as close to fine as he'll get. Richard, actually, saved him.” A name she says with much less vitriol than she used to. “So he's — alive. Safe.” Emily pauses for just a moment before she mutters, “Gone back to Wolfhound and everything.”

Her gaze flits back to Raquelle. “You saw Medina's running for President now?” she asks uneasily. “I'm worried shit like that becomes more …”

Well, more.

“That’s all you can do. That’s all we ever can do. Work on doing better.” Raquelle echos softly. Then he’s silent as he listens to the update about her father and the mention of Pure Earth makes his jaw clench as he clears his throat and lets out a low whistle.

“Well damn baby, that’s some TV show level drama. But hey, Pretty Ricky’s at least good for something.” He thumbs the side of his nose and sighs softly. “Don’t worry. The more you worry, the less you prepare.” He scratches his cheek.

“This is some heavy shit, you know that right? Like ice cream level shit. You want something?” He offers a kind smile and a quirk of an eyebrow.

The more you worry, the less you prepare. Emily takes the words, holds them in her heart, weighs them for herself. Her brow furrows. Was that how it worked? She wasn't sure she believed so. Thinking ahead could help with being prepared, mentally and otherwise, and—

And maybe it didn't help you prepare to be flexible in the face of uncertainty. You couldn't plan for every possibility, every outcome. Life wasn't that simple.

She cracks a small smile in return when Raquelle declares the event merits ice cream. "I tried to warn you," Emily chides softly, some light in her eye as she glances up at him from under her hair. "But yeah, maybe we ought to." Never one to easily abide things being done on her behalf, she's up on her feet herself. "Let me grab it. It's the least I can do, given I'm the one bringing the metric ton of stressful bullshit in the building."

“Oh honey, you think you have a metric ton of stressful bullshit? Psssh.” Raquelle winks and then nods towards the back room. “In the freezer, there’s ice cream sandwiches, only one flavor which is vanilla with a chocolate cookie but.” He shrugs. “I’ve never been a pure vanilla type of guy.”

Then he settles down on the couch, and tilts his head back. “And you can come and see me anytime, to talk through anything. Okay?”

Emily only shrugs, and glibly and that. She does have a surprising amount of stressful things both directly in her life and in orbit of it. She turns away to head into the back, his comments following her and receiving thought until she returns with the packaged ice cream sandwiches. Once she's only a few feet away, she lobs his over to him gently, and stands while she pries apart the packaging on her own.

"I'll keep it in mind," she promises. "And try not to take too much advantage of it." Lips firming in a faint smile, she peels back the paper and lifts the sandwich. "At least bring more happy shit in with me. That's the goal: Look on the bright side more often," She takes a bite that's possibly too large, but tilts her head back and says around it, "Yadda yadda."

A snort of laughter escapes her afterward, amusement reflecting in her eyes. Emily probably won't have a lot of luck with it, but the striving for it is what matters, like Raquelle had said earlier. She lifts her free hand, back of it hovering near her mouth as she speaks around it, "What about things on your end, though? Anything exciting going on down at city council?"

That's not exactly the Cooperative is, but she doesn't seem to care in the moment.

A hand reaches up to catch the Ice Cream sandwich and he smirks gently. “That's the spirit. After all, you’re young. You should be doing young, stupid shit with a hint of excitement, scandal and over dramatics.” He peels open his treat and sighs softly. “This is going to mean more reps so my fiancé doesn’t leave me for a man with better abs.”

He is totally joking, but he snorts as he takes a bite of the sandwich, considering the question with a squint and a shrug of his shoulder. “My teenagers haven’t burnt down the house and planning a wedding is a pain in the ass but it would be worth it in the end.” Then he hmmm softly. “You mean the coop? Nothing too new or exciting, just making sure we do what we can to keep supporting the good folks in the Safe Zone.”

Emily squints thoughtfully as she finishes off her bite. "I can work on being more dramatic, if that helps," she confides overseriously, unable to keep hidden another small smile as she wipes the side of her mouth. "This whole 'doing as other young people do' thing is still just a little out of my wheelhouse." Looking down at the sandwich, her brow pops up in a short of shrug all its own. "Unique as the circumstances around it might be, it's not a unique situation, with the war." She's not sure she has a point with it all, so she quickly takes a bite and goes back to what she's better at: listening.

Active listening, apparently, as her eyes light up hearing about the wedding. "Did you two settle on a date yet?" With slightly less interest are the matters of the Co-op regarded. "It is good work," she insists nonetheless. "You all never run out of energy, keep pushing the Safe Zone forward." It’s thankless, and amazing.

Really, what would the Safe Zone do without people like Raquelle Cambria?

Raquelle is quiet for a few moment and just takes a deep breath and smiles softly as he arches an eyebrow. “A date? Nah…but it’ll be soon. I’m sure of it.”

And then on to the Safe Zone. “Well. Somebody has to fix the shit other adults screwed up for your generation. Safe zone wouldn’t be safe without people taking their heads out of their asses and humbling up to building a better world.”

Then he holds out his hand. “Let me see your hands baby, might have time to get you a manicure before my next appointment. What color do you want?”

Because this is what he does. He takes care of other people.

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