4252/Unwavering Loyalty

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Unwavering Loyalty
Date of Scene: 26 June 2016
Location: Alberichstadt <P:WTWM>
Synopsis: Janine finds Emily a hard butler to sneak past. A prequel scene to 'The Dashing Herald of Bad News.'
Cast of Characters: Janine Liberi, 999

Janine Liberi has posed:
    On that night, the Shadows beyond the mirror writhe. On that night, Janine tries her luck at sneaking out for the first time. Emily was a sharp one, she had concluded after several days of observation, even sharper than the last one. However, she did tend to go into her bedroom and close the door behind her, so Janine took her chance then.

    Anyone following the girl that night would see her going to some strange places. First, the pharmacy, where she gets some over-the-counter painkillers, disinfectant, bandages, and other such medical supplies. Then the store, where she loads up on snacks. Not her usual sugary fare though. Muesli bars, trail mix, things for long hikes. All of which she loads into a long sports bag, rather than her usual bag.

    And then, she begins to trek into the woods.

    The path is mostly obscured, but she walks with purpose, eventually arriving at a dilapidated-looking cabin out in them. She steps inside with all the confidence of someone who owns the place, and a light comes on, barely visible through the filthy windows.

    Just what is she up to?

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Emily does indeed seem to be pretty sharp. More than simply taking pride in a profession, she seems to have put the entirety of herself into 'being a butler', and with Janine in her charge that means she's been keeping an eye on the girl. But there are those times she closes the door to stay out of the girl's way; even if she's left Janine instructions that 'I'm available any time, even if the door's closed', it's still a point of cut-off contact. So it seems as if Janine has entirely slipped the net, so to speak, when the apartment door clicks closed behind her.

    She is polite enough to wait a minute or so before pursuing.

    And when she pursues, she is both cautious and quiet. The stealth of a veteran hunter and a special forces soldier, allowing her to hang back and keep a cautious eye. The pharmacy, the grocery store, these are pretty plainly not Janine's final stop, so she does not confront. Only remains within observational distance. Ironically, in the woods it's almost easier for her to pursue; wildeness training, plenty of practice, and mostly black clothes (though she has to carefully conceal her collar and gloves) give her an edge this time of night.

    Only when the cabin is occupied does she dare approach her ward any closer. In this particular case, it's 'as close as she can get without stepping on potentially creaky boards', trying to get the best look she can. That lasts only briefly, though. Long enough to satisfy her curiosity... or determine that it can't be sated at the moment.

    After a quick look (or discovery that a quick look isn't possible, she'll take a step or two back and... simply stand there, arms folded behind herself, out in the open. Waiting patiently for Janine to emerge again as if she belonged there.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    It's not long until she does. The door is opened, Janine holding an electric lantern and hanging it on a rusty hook. As if expecting someone, and putting it out to help them find the place. It's a credit to Emily's ability to become a fixture in her master's life that Janine doesn't panic the moment the lantern illuminates the butler. For a moment, she simply thinks 'oh it's Emily' before realizing where they are.

    And when that realization hits, genuine panic crosses the girl's face. Not the expression of some teenage being busted for something they shouldn't be doing. The expression of someone... afraid. "What the FUCK are you doing here?!" she exclaims, clutching the door with her good hand, the white of her knuckles shining through the skin.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    As before -- as always -- Emily Branford's expression does not waver, even while her eyes are doing a fast scan, taking in a number of details. A signal lamp. White-knuckled fear, not of a youth in trouble but someone genuinely terrified of something. More than ever, it becomes important to remain steadfast; not just to ward off Janine's usual barbs, but to serve as a point of stability. So naturally, she chooses the simplest answer that she can give, her hands still folded behind her back politely. "My job. I was hired to act as your butler and bodyguard, after all." She could perhaps make quips about the filthiness of the cabin, or turn Janine's question back around in a coy 'why don't you tell me', but neither of those seem particularly apropos.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Eyes are narrowed, teeth are ground... but hostility can only wither in the face of such placidity. Janine starts to calm, from afraid to simply worried. She closes the door behind her, as if to hide what is inside from the butler. "I'm not in danger here. Just meeting some friends. We're not getting into anything illegal, so go home." Everything she says is technically true, the best kind. But the half-truths are evident in her voice and tiny motions.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    This time, there's a sense of more careful appraisal. Emily doesn't bother to disguise it, either; she wants it known she's sizing Janine up. "Not illegal, perhaps, but significant enough to warrant serious concern on your part. You didn't seem this tense on the way here, however, despite a stop at the pharmacy for first aid supplies. And it's perhaps a bit presumptuous, but you don't seem the type to be involved in drug deals or underground fighting rings."

    There's a faint smile, finally. "I can only assume that, rather than /of/ me, you're afraid /for/ me. Especially given that you neither swore at nor insulted me just now. And in that respect, ma'am, you needn't worry. I will be quite fine, regardless of what you're getting into. And I /do/ intend to see you home safely."

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine actually seems a little affronted at the accusation that she might be dealing drugs. The fighting though? A liiiitle close to the mark, causing her to flinch a little. And then Emily just homes in further. Janine /is/ afraid for her, considering what happened to her nanny...

    She shakes her head. "Emily, look," she whispers hoarsely. "What I'm involved in, you can't even begin to guess. It got my last nanny..." She leaves the sentence unfinished. Emily would no-doubt know what happened. "You're probably good in a fight against people, sure. But... I'm not exactly dealing with 'people' here, okay? I know I must sound absolutely insane right now, but believe me. Just go home, for your sake."

    She starts to turn, opening the door to go into the cabin, shoulders hunched like the weight of the world was resting on them.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "Janine Liberi," Emily calls out. Her voice is simple, calm, but for once there's a hint of firmness to it. "I was hired on to protect a girl whose previous apartment was burned down, her housekeeper killed, and she herself wounded seriously. There were bladed weapons involved, from what I've told. I replaced a man who, while not quite as experienced as myself, was more than well-qualified to deal with most any common threat that might arise. You know all that, and yet you're still worried for my safety. I think I'm flattered, and I also think I can assume quite safely that you aren't simply trying to scare me off."

    She does finally begin to move. Towards the cabin, at her usual steady walk. "I /assure/ you, ma'am. I will be quite fine. And at the end of this night, both of us will be going home quite intact."

Janine Liberi has posed:
    The Italian freezes at the sound of her name, lingering on the threshold of the door. She clutches it with her good hand, the wood actually crumbling a little from age and pressure. She doesn't turn to yell Emily away... but she refuses to move to let her in either. Over the girl's shoulder, the butler would see the inside is much cosier than the exterior would suggest. It's well-stocked with food beyond what Janine bought... but that sabre she had been using in the fire sits on the table, drawn and polished.

    "You don't get it Emily," Janine mutters. "What I'm dealing with... it's nothing the world has ever seen."

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Emily seems undeterred. If anything, there is a faint sigh of exasperation. "Janine, I'm trying to say that whatever it is you're fighting, I'm well aware it isn't simply some crime syndicate or shady gang, or even uncommonly vicious animals. I don't have the information to guess /precisely/ what it is, but I can gather that you're shouldering a rather heavy burden that I would wager no one knows about." And then, for a moment, her tone grows gentle. "No one should have to fight the darkness back alone." She steps right up onto the porch, but rather than attempt to push past Janine, she steps to one side, remaining by the door -- this time, with her hands folded in front of herself.

    "So, these people you're expecting. Multiversals, or local acquaintances? I'd like to at least get a good look at them before they move inside."

Janine Liberi has posed:
    That did it.

    Everything leading up to it gave Janine doubts. Did Emily know about the Multiverse? But then she actually drops the term 'Multiversals,' causing her to spin about with wide eyes. "Wait, you know about the Multiverse?!" she exclaims. Looking around, she finally steps inside, and gestures for Emily to come in.

    With a tired sigh - both physical and emotional - she sits at the table, and fixes the butler with a stern look. "Who are you? Why do you know about the Multiverse?"

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Though she'd apparently resolved herself to wait outside for company, Emily steps in the door at Janine's behest... and then immediately busies herself going about the room and tidying up, with a swift and businesslike manner. There are almost certainly no tools on hand for sweeping or dusting, but she can straighten things out, adjust this or that, set the snacks out /just so/, and generally just give the room a much nicer presentation.

    She can also glance briefly over her shoulder, her ponytail shifting to one side and giving her a look past her blonde hair at Janine. "I'm your butler, ma'am." The entire rest of the question is swept aside by sheer dint of feigned deafness. Instead, she pauses at the table, looking the saber over with interest. But not so much as laying a finger on it. "You've taken uncommonly good care of this, Janine. I'm quite impressed."

Janine Liberi has posed:
    This display of normalcy helps to soothe Janine's nerves a little, watching Emily making things neat. But then, when the butler tries to dodge the question and compliment her sabre... well, Janine's not having any of it. She slams her fist onto the table! "Don't dodge the question! You knowing the Multiverse is real doesn't make me trust you more. Shit, if anything, it makes me trust you less. I don't know what weird bullshit you have going on now, if you're some kind of double agent or not..."

    She flops back into her chair and sighs, putting her hand over her eyes... "You're not coming until you answer the question Emily, and that's final. If it's a secret, I won't share it, I swear. Even with the people coming..."

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Emily responds to the sound of Janine's fist on the table by looking up and... adjusting her glasses blandly. She stands up straight, and there's those hands folded behind her back again. "But I did answer your question, Janine, in the only way that matters. Where I come from is irrelevant, who I am is meaningless. Had I any ill intentions, I could have acted on them long before now, let alone out in the woods alone with no one around for kilometers. I have only one employer, and she stands before me right now. I have a sworn duty to protect her, whether from man, beast or monster, and I fully intend to see that through. I am your butler, and I am at your service."


    "I also wasn't trying to dodge the question. I've something of a soft spot for blades, and I don't see many who care for them quite so well."

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Again Janine's anger is quickly cooled by Emily's blasé attitude. Another sigh, and she removes her hand from her eyes. "... fine. I'm gonna get the story from you one day though. I can't fully trust you until I do."

    She grumbles and runs a finger along the length of the sword. "My dad got it for me, to celebrate me winning an international tournament. Also, it needs to be reflective. You'll see why eventually." Well, I guess that means Emily IS coming!

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "That's perfectly fair," Emily replies with a nod of her head. That much caution is not just a trait she can't fault; she'd be more worried if Janine /didn't/ retain some of that. She goes back to the task of tidying up almost automatically, though there's not really much more she can do without cleaning supplies. When she's finished with that, she'll simply go to stand by the door and wait, although she does talk while she works. "Reflective? My, how curious. We're in for quite the night, then." There's a second or two where she adjusts her gloves, then tightens her cravat. "I should wait outside for company to arrive, I think. Though, for future reference, would a bit of holy water go amiss, or should I just give that thought a pass?" It doesn't seem to be any kind of mockery; she's genuinely asking.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine nods as Emily goes to await company. "Sure. What we're here for won't be in the woods, so don't worry about anyone creeping around. It's probably who we're waiting for," she cautions.

    That final question though... was that her letting out a minor truth about herself, Janine wonders? Either way, it deserves an honest answer. "Never tried it. Probably wouldn't hurt."

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "Well, I suppose we'll find out, then," Emily remarks idly, before stepping out the door to take a spot beside it.