An Emery and Chris story
Emery Thomas, fiancé of Chris Evans, struggles with being apart during the press tour, but receives some great work news! Can Chris make it home in time to be there when she needs him?
Warnings: Language, references to excessive drinking and anxiety
Word Count: 4044
And Emery collapses back into her seat behind her desk. The students watch her with concern, but split into their smaller groups for tutoring time. She rubs her temples, trying to fend off the building headache. She looks up when her friend and principal, Katie Harris, steps into the room, giving a weak smile.
“Rachel,” Principal Harris addresses Emery’s favorite student. “Would you run down to the lounge and bring back a soda for Ms. Thomas? Meet us by the auditorium with it. The rest of you kids, since you are here, head up to the balcony. An all call is about to go out, and anyone in the building is going to be asked to meet in the auditorium.”
Emery eyes her friend with curiosity and watches as the kids leave the room. She motions she will lock up the room and the girls leave their purses and things behind jut as the intercom clicks to life with an announcement for everyone to meet in ten minutes.
“What’s going on?” Emery asks. She’s tired and doesn’t want to move from this spot. She wonders if the kids could just wheel her rolling chair out to the car after tutoring tonight so she doesn’t have to walk. She smiles to herself at the image in her head.
Katie leans against the work table admiring the most recent flowers delivered to Emery this week. “He sends them every week, doesn’t he?” she smiles, gently caressing the fluffy blooms of the lilacs in the bouquet.
Smiling, Emery nods her head yes. “He knows spring flowers are my favorite. They just smell so fresh and earthy.” She rubs at her temple again and asks, “Do I have to go the auditorium? Can’t you just tell me whatever it is and let me conserve some energy?”
“Sorry babe. It’s not my deal,” Katie replies. “Mr. Shanes is coming over from the board office with district news. Are you okay? You seem out of it,” she asks, worried for her friend.
Emery raises and eyebrow and shakes her head back and forth. “You want an answer as a friend, or a boss?”
“I’ll take whatever you give me. Just remember, I’m always your friend first.” The two women have been friends for years, since Emery served as her student teacher in the same building years ago.
“I’m screwed. My kids aren’t ready for the state tests this year. Scores are gonna be crap, because I haven’t been around for them the way they need me and when I am here, my head is wherever Chris is.” She keeps her voice low, trying not to poke at her headache. “I don’t know if I can do this.”
Katie sighs deeply, “Em, why didn’t you come to me? Why didn’t you tell me you felt this way?”
Emery puts her dead down on her desk, tears threatening to spill out as the pounding in her head increases. “I don’t think I realized I felt this way until just this week. He was here this weekend. He had a little over 48 hours free and he came to see me. That’s so great, and I needed it, needed him, but now I feel selfish because he’s got more press bullshit and he didn’t get to rest.”
“What do you want?” Katie asks of her friend. “Cause I’ve had an idea or two about next school year that allows you more flexibility, we just haven’t talked yet… Do you want to keep teaching?”
Emery looks up, the tears breaking their hold. She shakes her head, no. “For the first time in my life, I have something I want more than teaching. I want him; I want to be with him, to be where he is.”
Katie moves to pat her friend’s shoulder as the intercom crackles on. “Principal Harris and all faculty and staff, please report to the auditorium,” announces a cold voice over the speaker system.
“Come on girl, let’s go get you that soda. After the asshat is done with whatever meeting this is about, let’s go get tacos. And I’ll tell you some of the ideas I’ve had.”
“Did you just call your boss an asshat?” Emery giggles when Katie nods her head. “God, we haven’t had tacos in ages. Is that still code for nachos and tequila?” She laughs as stands and walks to the door, arm and arm with her friend.
“Oh, honey, so much tequila! Let’s have a good old-fashioned girls’ night out! Want me to call Tammy?”
“Yea, do that. Her sorry ass probably could use a drink too. Did you hear the shit they pulled on her at work last week?”
Emery’s spirits begin to lift as the two women catch up on details of their other friend and walk to the auditorium.
Mr. Shanes, the District Superintendent, take center stage, calling the teachers and a small gathering of students to attention. Emery isn’t really paying attention as she pops two aspirin and takes a large chug from the soda Rachel brought her. She snaps to when she hears her name being called and a commotion around her. The teacher next to her tugs her arm and tells her to stand up. “What? I wasn’t listening. What’s going on?”
“Emery, dear, he just announced you as District Teacher of the Year! Go, get up on stage!”
Emery stands frozen for a moment, looking around the large auditorium. It’s the students, her kids, in the balcony, cheering and giving each other high-fives that motivates her to move forward. “We love you Miss Thomas!” They collectively yell.
Her tears return, this time of joy as she ascends the side stairs. Mr. Shanes welcomes her with a hug, congratulating her. “Miss Thomas, I want to thank you for your dedication to this school and your students. It is evident,” he gestures to the balcony where her kids sit, “that they love you.”
Standing by his side, he turns to address the room again. “Thank you students for your attendance today. It’s clear this woman has made an impact on you, and that’s what teaching is all about. In a district with nearly 2600 teachers, you are lucky enough to have the best. Miss Thomas will be receiving honors at the upcoming teacher appreciation dinner.” He announces to the group, “Invitations for the dinner will be in your mailboxes tomorrow and students are welcome to attend. Thank you all for coming this afternoon. To show my appreciation for all you do, go home early tonight!”
The room erupts in more applause as teachers and staff file out, excited to leave twenty minutes earlier than usual.
Mr. Shanes hands Emery an envelope, telling her information about the dinner is inside. “Miss Thomas, you are allowed four free guests. There is a dinner fee for any other guests you wish to bring. It sure would be nice if that superhero of yours could attend!”
“Yes, sir, I’m sure he’ll want to be here,” Emery smiles, still trying to soak in the news she’s just received. I just hope he’s not too busy.
Emery’s words are a little slurred. “I think my headache feels better, but I might be too drunk to know.”
Tammy laughs, “Whoo-hoo! We haven’t seen drunk Emery in a long time! This is when you spill the beans! So tell us, what’s Captain America like in bed?”
Emery blushes and smiles, hundreds of thoughts flashing through her mind at once, “No, guys, no, I can’t. That’s… that’s not nice. He’s my future husband… I can’t.”
Tammy takes another shot of tequila. “Why not? We talk about my husband all the time.”
“Yea, but none of us might go talk to someone else who might then turn it around for some tabloid story. No, I have NO complaints, but Chris and bedroom talk is not up for discussion.”
Katie laughs, “Oh, come on! Something? Do any of our theories hold up? I mean, all those times we’ve watched the movies you made us watch, you made us fall in love with him too, and now you can’t tell us anything?”
Emery motions to the waiter for another drink. “London is not his O face. Neither is the face when he played Frozen Black Jack with Fallon. It’s more… beautiful.” She pauses, trying to count the empty shot glasses, beer bottles and empty glasses on the table. “Shit, did I just say that? Fuck.”
“Does he send dick pics?” Tammy wants to know.
Emery laughs, “Oh, come on, really? Stop! Besides, allusion is sexier. Gimme that damn Rolling Stone photo any day!”
“We still have to wait for the movie, can’t you tell us something?” Katie pleads.
“No, I’m not that drunk. After all the stuff I saw during the first week of press, Marvel doesn’t play around. I don’t care if the movie is out in other countries, I ain’t tellin’ you nuthin’.”
The other girls continue to tease and joke with Emery, and as the restaurant staff begins to clean up around them, Emery calls her younger brother, Parker. “Hey, Parker? Whatchya doin’?” she giggles.
“Brent and I are playing video games. You sound weird. What’s up?”
“Um, the designated driver decided to get wasted too… Can you come to the Mexican place on Fordham Road? You can drive my car back to my place and Brent can take you back home?”
Parker laughs, “It’s late. I got school tomorrow. What’s in it for me?”
“Parker Thomas! Do not be an asshat! Come rescue me!” Emery commands.
“Did you just call me an ‘asshat?’ Nice language, sis… I’m not your superhero… Mom and Dad will flip. IfI get caught, you owe me,” says the younger boy.
“Fine, I owe you, but only if you get caught. Leave a note on the counter, then they can’t totally get mad,” Emery advises, “but try not to wake them up.”
The women actually order another round while they wait for their ride.
When the restaurant door opens, the girls all freeze mid-laugh. “Oh, shit,” Emery mumbles under her breath. “Hi, Daddy! What are you doing here?”
Parker rushes in the restaurant, halting behind his father. “Sorry, Em. I got caught.”
“Parker, we’re good here. You and Brent go on over to Emery’s and let out the dog. We’ll be along shortly,” the older gentleman’s voice is quiet and kind, but his facial expression shows his displeasure at being rousted late at night by his oldest and youngest children. Parker shrugs at Emery and mouths the word ‘sorry’ before stepping back out under the glow of the bright restaurant lights.
Preston Thomas walks to the table, waving at the remaining wait staff. He pulls a nacho from the basket, dipping it in the salsa and dousing it with additional hot sauce before saying a word. “Miss Emery. Don’t you think you are too old for this nonsense? And you, Katie Harris? I should have known you were in on this…”
“Hey, Mr. Thomas! Good to see you again, sir,” Principal Harris giggles.
He rolls his eyes at her and pats her on the shoulder. “All right ladies. Let’s get out of here… Ricardo, voy a pagar para estas chicas. ¿Cuánto cuestan?”
The price is called out and Preston pulls a few bills from his wallet, tossing them on the table. “Quite a collection of empty glasses there, ladies. Emery, it reminds me of that time I had to rescue you from Tommy Larson’s house when you were seventeen. Girls, have you ever heard that story? No? Well, we got a long car ride home for me to tell it.”
“Tommy Larson, the guy with the weird realtor billboards?” Tammy asks, curiously wondering about her friend’s taste in boys back in high school.
“Shut up,” Emery mumbles. “I don’t feel so good… Any chance I can get a sub tomorrow?”
“No!” Preston and Katie respond in unison.
“Thanks again, Dad,” Emery giggles, reaching on her tip toes to kiss her father good night as he leaves the girls on the porch. He had delivered Tammy to her home and was pleased Katie was going to stay in Emery’s guest room for the night. “I’ll call you in the morning, ok?”
“Ok, darlin’,” the man sighs, squeezing his daughter’s shoulder. “And congratulations again on your honor. Teacher of the Year! That is something! Wait till I tell your mother!”
Emery watches as the distinguished gentlemen gets in the car with her brother and drives away. Locking the doors and turning out the lights, she checks her phone to see if Chris has called yet. For the first time in over a week, they are in the same time zone, but he hasn’t returned her messages.
“Hey, I’m in here,” Katie calls from the master bedroom.
Emery laughs, finding her friend already curled up under the blankets in her bed. “Gee, Katie, make yourself at home.”
“He hasn’t answered you back. I thought you might be kinda lonesome. You wanna talk about it?”
“No. Because now I have a drunk headache and it’s almost worse… Can it just wait?” Emery quietly asks, climbing into the bed, not even bothering to take off her work clothes. “Yuck. We smell like Mexican food,” she giggles while reaching to turn out the lamp.
“Does he know you’re struggling with this?”
Emery grasps her forehead, trying to push back the headache. “Fuck, no,” she responds quietly. “We had a fight in LA and then all the press and then he left for Singapore and I just don’t feel like we got it back together, ya know? And I don’t want him worrying about me when he has to be gone. So I’ve just kinda kept quiet. It’s not good for me, but his anxiety and stress is so high right now, I can’t do that to him. I just feel like, maybe if I-“
She was interrupted by the Marvel theme playing on her phone. “Katie, go to sleep; we’ll talk in the morning.”
Emery climbs out of bed and carries the phone out to the guest bathroom. She flips on the light as she answers, “Hey, sweetie. How was your night?” She tries to downplay the exhaustion in her voice as she quietly takes two more aspirin.
As Chris talks to her about his day and the events scheduled for tomorrow, she stares at her reflection in the mirror. Drunk Emery isn’t that pretty. Her eyeliner is smudged, and her mascara has oddly clumped together from crying. She finds some baby wipes under the counter and begins to remove her make up. Chris says something about an honor and that makes her mind jump. “Oh, babe! Sorry! Sorry to interrupt, but I have news! We had a special assembly after school, and I was named District Teacher of the Year!”
“Emery! That’s amazing news! Why didn’t you tell me? Oh, my God, babe, I am so proud of you!”
Emery chuckles, “Honey, I’m a little drunk. Katie, Tammy and I have all had a rough week, and we went out. My Dad had to come rescue us and drive us home.”
Chris laughs. “Drinking with your boss? Niiiice… I’m glad you guys went out. You had a good time?”
“I did. I needed that; it was nice to see the girls, get away from something other than just school talk. They were bugging me about you and wedding details and the inside scoop on life in Hollywood.”
“Sounds like fun. I wish I could have been there…” Chris stifles a yawn. “So this award? Was that it, at school? That doesn’t sound elaborate enough for such a special honor.”
“Oh, no! There’s a big dinner later in the month. All kinds of district employees are honored as well as scholarships presented to students. It’s a really big deal; I want you to be there with me, if you can.” Emery crosses her fingers like a small child might. She knows he was going back to work on another project right after the Civil War press ended.
“Shit, Em, I’m booked till the end of the month; right up to our vacation. What day?”
Emery makes small talk, telling him more about the assembly, leaving out her tears and headache, as she searches her school bag for the envelope with the information. She flicks on the living room lamp and sits on the couch next to West, snoring away. She tells him the date and flinches when he whispers. “Fuck, no.”
“Chris? This is like the equivalent of the Oscars to me. I was nominated by other teachers and interviewed and voted on by a district panel. This is a big deal.”
Chris sighs deeply. She can see him in her mind, rubbing his hand over his beard, trying to decide what to do or say. “I know, I know. I’ll figure it out. I really can’t that date, but I will figure it out. Until then, please don’t be upset. I am so, so happy for you! You work so hard. You deserve it. Those kids are so lucky to have you in class.”
“Thanks, honey.” She is warmed by his praise, but worries his Hollywood schedule might not be flexible.
“Sweetie? Call my mom tomorrow. She’s been dying to see you and visit South; to see your parents again. Invite her; tell her I will make all the arrangements. That way, if for some reason I can’t make it, at least you have family there besides just your mom and dad, okay? Will you do that?”
“Mmmhmmm. I like that idea,” Emery agrees. “Babe, I’m drunk and tired. I need sleep. Do you know if any killer photos are gonna be released tomorrow? I’m finding it hard to get through the day with all these pictures that keep appearing. Like, I think I need to start carrying a change of panties with me, cause each one is hotter than the next!”
“You still mad about the hair?” he chuckles quietly.
“Hmph,” she scoffs. “No, I’m not mad about the hair. It’s sexy as fuck and I can’t wait to get my hands in it. No, Evans, I’m irritated at this slow burn of photos, a new one here, a new one there… I’m so gonna get you at that game. You just wait. Between the haircut and Rolling Stone pictures… Be prepared. I can play just as wicked.”
“Oh, baby, I bet you can. I can’t wait to see what you’ve got for me.”
“Katie, wake up! We overslept!” Emery shouts, running around her room, trying to get ready for work.
“Em. Em! Stop! I have a hangover. Shushy!” The dark haired principal throws the pillow over her face to block out the light. “I’m your boss. Chill out. We’re going to breakfast. We need to talk. Please hand me my phone and let me get your first few classes covered.”
After taking Katie by her place for a quick shower and a change of clothes, the two women stop for breakfast in a little place they love near the school. They each order their favorites and continue to wake up in a comfortable silence. But Emery feels like she is waiting for a boom to drop, that Katie might have something to tell her she doesn’t want to hear.
“Katie, you’re killing me. What is it?”
“First, babe, you gotta tell him how you feel. If these separations aren’t going to work for you, you two have to figure out something together.”
Emery plays with the rim of her coffee cup. “I know. You’re right. I will. But face to face. When he’s had time to rest. He was so exhausted when I talked to him last night. It was heartbreaking. I can’t add stress to him right now.”
“Babe, let me tell you, that’s why I’m divorced now. Because I thought I had to do everything by myself. You have to learn to share the burdens. You can’t do it alone. And it’s ten times worse cause he’s fucking Captain America and everything you both do will be watched closely. You have anxiety issues too. You can’t hide what you feel to spare him.”
“Right again, woman….”
“That’s why I’m the boss. Which is why we’re here. This is a business meeting, not just a friendly breakfast,” Katie begins.
“What are you talking about?” Emery inquires.
“Emery, I want to offer you an administration position for next school year, starting in January,” Katie smiles, knowing her friend is slightly confused.
Setting her bacon back down on the edge of her plate, Emery wipes her hands on her napkin. “Have you lost your mind? How would being a principal help me?”
Katie signals for coffee refills. “Not principal. Mr. Shanes said it himself. You’re the best we have to offer. What you do in the classroom, during tutoring? Anyone could do that if they put their heart into like you do. It comes naturally to you. Some people need to learn how. I want you to teach them. Emery, I want you to become an Instructional Coach, and teach others to teach like you do.”
Emery drops her fork, mid-bite. “Katie, you know I’ve always wanted to do that!” Her smile begins to grow. “That’s not an everyday classroom job; that would free me up to travel with Chris when he needed me, or I needed him…”
Katie smiles, “Exactly. I was thinking we get you a student teacher for the first quarter. I hear a few of your former students are looking for placements. Pick one and train HER to take your job. You have a student teacher all of first quarter. Second quarter, you take sabbatical. Attend trainings for coaching, plan a wedding, be on set for Infinity War filming. After Christmas, you come back and put in your weekly hours, doing whatever needs to be done, wherever the district needs you. You could arrange your own schedule, as long as you put in the hours.”
Emery bubbles with laughter, “Oh, my God, Katie! That might actually work! That’s brilliant!”
Joining in the laughter, Katie says, “That’s why they pay me the big bucks. Talk it over with your fiancé. I need an answer by next week, but I don’t want to go public with it till after the appreciation banquet.
From the head table at the banquet dinner, Emery scans the room. She pauses to watch as Miss Lisa charms a group of her students, probably telling tales of Chris as a young student himself. Her parents and siblings are all chatting with one another and various people from the community they know. She tries to mask the sadness on her face. Katie Harris, friend and principal, moves into her place in the empty chair beside Emery. “You okay, babe?”
Emery shakes her head. “No. Tell Mr. Shanes to quit stalling. The emergency landing in Cleveland due to the storms is going to delay him too much. Everyone is nearly finished with dessert. Let’s just get it over with.”
“You know he tried to move heaven and earth for you?” Katie asks.
“I know he did. I’m not mad,” she sighs, managing a shaky smile. “He tries to control a lot of things, but the weather isn’t one of them.”
She checks her phone one last time while Principal Harris rises to introduce her as Teacher of the Year. Lost in her own thoughts, she joins her friend when Katie clasps her shoulder in affection during her introduction, prompting her to rise and address the room. Emery hates public speaking. She falls into her old habit of imaging a room full of students rather than a conference hall full of colleagues in the field of teaching. As her speech quiets and the standing ovation for her efforts subsides, the lights come back up in the room. Standing against the back wall, Chris applauds her loudly, clasping a bouquet of flowers under his arm, his face beaming with pride. Even in the noise of the room, she can hear him loud as day as she reads his lips, “Proud of you! Till the end of the line, babe.”
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