Crash Course


lance_icon.gif owain_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Crash Course
Synopsis Sometimes it's best not to argue with the small ones.
Date July 17, 2018

Lance's Apartment

While everyone was out a small hurricane must to have hit the apartment. There’s pillows and blankets littering the living room. One couch cushion is halfway into the kitchen and the other is nowhere to be seen. A few of cans of spaghetti are still stacked by the door, but several more are scattered nearby in a way that looks like they’d been used as bowling pins.

In the midst of it is Squeaks. One can only guess at what’s been going on since she let herself into the apartment and found no one else home yet.

The girl is standing, arms spread overhead, on the back of the couch. There’s a look of solid concentration on her face. She takes a couple of quick breaths, bends at her knees, then jumps! It’s nothing that will see her into the Olympics, but the leap clears the couch and she lands with a faint thump on the floor.

Since vandalizing the Brick House museum, Owain’s been a bit on the scarce side — he enrolled in a summer class and threw himself into that as an avoidance tactic. But one can’t really avoid the uncomfortable parts of one’s life for long, and the metallokinetic has decided to drop by the apartment to check in — and he owes some things to Squeaks, in any case.

Keys jingle outside of the door, before clicking into the lock; a moment later, Owain slips in, shutting the door behind himself. He has his ever-present backpack with the copper zipper pulls, as well as a plastic bag from a drug store at Red Hook.

“Hey, Squeaks,” Brown eyes blink a few times as he takes stock of the chaos, brows raising. Well, looks like Squeaks was bored. “Practicing gymnastics?”

Turning around, with every intent of trying again, Squeaks gets one foot on the couch then freezes. There’s keys in the door! She dives to grab an armful of blanket, not that it’s really unusual for her to leave things in unexpected places. The level she’s reached today is a bit different. “I’m clea — !“ The loud claim with just a hint of panic is cut off when it’s Owain’s voice that comes through the opening door.

Twisting her head to look over her shoulder, the girl gives him a look of Oh. Still, the blanket she scooped up is shoved into a corner. “No,” is her simple answer. The couch cushion that can be seen is gathered up next and carried to the couch. It’s fitted into place, all while Squeaks casts a look around for the other one.

A smirk slides its way over Owain’s face, and he promptly grabs the remaining couch cushion from under the chair with his free hand, tossing it toward Squeaks. “Looks fun, whatever it was.” He sets his backpack and the plastic bag down by the door, and starts picking up the cans of spaghetti.

“How’re you doing?” With a stack of Spaghetti cans in his arms, he moves over to the kitchen to put them back where they belong. “Did you read that book? I renewed it in case you didn’t finish it yet.” He turns, smiling at the girl. “Brought you a few more, too.”

Once the spaghetti cans are cleaned up, Owain returns to his backpack and plastic bag, setting those on the kitchen counter. The bag is unzipped, and Owain pulls out Robinson Crusoe and The Great Gatsby. “Some classic fiction for your tastes.” He then pulls out a small stack of ghost books, setting those next to the two offerings of classic literature. “And I found those ghost books you were asking about, too.”

Then, he’s digging in the plastic bag; from these, he pulls out three boxes, containing SLC-E tests. “I also brought some of these in case you want to check — I’ll do one first to show you just how stupid it is.” He grins. “Gotta make sure I’m still Slice, you know.”

There’s another key in the lock, but this one doesn’t make any noise, nor does the door opening. A habit of Lance’s, just in case someone’s infiltrated home base — as it were.

“Hey,” he greets affably, clearly just off work; he wore the jeans that weren’t worn through at the knees. “What’s… up?” He looks around at the pillows and blankets, eyebrows going up, “Are we— having a slumber party?”

“Scientific method,” Squeaks answers Owain. She still doesn’t go into further detail, probably thinking it’s obvious what she was doing. She looks in protest of the cans being moved, but only shakes her head. She can find them again later. “I read it. It’s…” She stops and looks at the half-cushioned couch, fingers half pointing at nothing.

“Oh yeah!”

The book had been put somewhere safe, and she scurries down the hall to retrieve it. She returns just as Lance is coming into the apartment, cushion and book in hand. Squeaks’ eyes go all wide, between looking at him and the test things that Owain’s taken out. “Trying stuff,” she explains, sounding almost apologetic about it too. “I’m cleaning it up.” She even proves so by fitting the cushion into place next to its mate, and the book she’d borrowed is set neatly on top.

A side eyed look goes to the boys as she cautiously picks up another blanket to fold. “You have to check to make sure you’re still slice,” Squeaks asks suspiciously, keeping the blanket held so it’s a barrier between her and the older teens. “I’m not getting stabbed with needles. No way.”

Owain chuckles. “Ohhhh, I see. You’re doing the old fashioned version of the Slice test.” He winks to the girl, shaking his head with a smile on his face. After ensuring there’s a clear spot on the counter, he starts unpacking the contents of one of the boxes, setting it up on the countertop. The other tests remain undisturbed in the bag — no pressure on Squeaks.

“Yeah. It’s totally a thing,” he replies, offering no explanation. Instead, he pulls out the instructions, looking them over. As Lance makes his entrance, Owain looks over the paper at him. “Oh hey, Lance. Didn’t you mention that you were up for a routine slice test?” Lance, as any big brother, will recognize the expression — he’s trying to get Squeaks curious enough about the test to overcome her aversion to the blood part.

“It’s not even a stab. Just a little poke. You can watch if you want, it’s really not even that big of a deal.” To emphasize, he picks up the poking instrument; after pausing for a moment to give Squeaks the chance to come closer, he promptly sticks himself. After squeezing out a drop of blood, he smears it into the test windows, before rinsing his hand off and putting a bandaid on it.

Scientific method? Pillows? Trying stuff? Slice test? Old fashioned… oh. The light goes on behind Lance’s eyes, the master of silence smirking over in Owain’s direction at his words, “C’mon, man, she’s not stupid. Seriously, did you think that was gonna work?”

He steps along over to the messy couch and drops down to sit, stretching his legs out. “Doesn’t hurt though,” he notes, “I mean, there’s a prick, but that’s it. It’s pretty easy. I mean, it’s completely unnecessary since that old guy said you had an ability, though…”

A grin over to Owain, “She doesn’t need a test, man, she just doesn’t know what she can do.”

There isn’t even the idea of curiosity in Squeaks right now. Anything else, she might be peeking around corners to watch, even sneaking up as close as she can to get a good look. This time? Nothing. Not even a step in that direction or one of her never-ending questions.

While Owain is busy prepping tests and talking, and Lance is over there watching, Squeaks has abandoned cleaning up her mess. She’s even abandoned the living room without a word. And, really, the only answer to being stabbed with needles, if she wanted to be, is the solid closing of a door down the hall.

Oh. Owain sighs, shaking his head as he hurriedly cleans up the test, shoving the discarded one into the trash. The other ones will be left here, just in case, but he’s sure they’ll go unused. “Squeaks, I’m sorry!” He makes sure there’s no trace of blood or needles anywhere.

“I put it away, you don’t have to hide!” Owain doesn’t bother following her; in fact, he throws the other unopened tests on top of the fridge. “I didn’t know someone told her she was,” he mentions as an aside to Lance, a sheepish look on his face.

“Some old guy. I think he was a mosaic, seemed to do a bunch of different things… name was Samson, he was hiding out in the ruins. Saved our asses,” Lance admits, even as he’s rolling up to his feet and heading towards the hallway.

Because that’s his bedroom.

“Squeaks,” he calls through the door, “It’s okay! I won’t let him stab you with needles!”

Because it’s Lance’s bedroom is why she hid there. It’s safe.

“Promise,” Squeaks calls through the door. It’s distant sounding, like she’s calling from further inside the room than just holding the door closed. Which explains why it takes a bit before she cracks open the door just enough for an eye to peek up at Lance.

“Promise!” Owain replies, shaking his head slowly as he quietly stacks the book selection he brought for the girl and moves them over to the coffee table. Then, he quietly pulls out the copper ball bearings, idly twirling them around each other in his hands like a pair of solid meditation balls.

“So, uh, where would you take a girl on a date, Lance?” He is sure he mentioned his date with Brynn while they were drunk…but they were both drunk and Lance hasn’t tried to kill him yet.

“I promise, Squeaks,” Lance replies in rueful tones, peering back at her, “Nobody’s gonna stick you with a needle, or anything, c’mon out.”

He cranes a neck to look back down the hall, “Depends. What’re they into?” Apparently, he doesn’t remember.

“I don’t like needles.” So directly stated, as if there were ever a doubt about it that needed to be crushed into dust. Squeaks eases the door open enough to slip out into the hallway. She touches Lance’s arm with a finger before tippy-toeing back to the living room. She still has things to put away.

“I can tell,” Owain replies to Squeaks’ statement, a small smile on his face. “Sorry about that, I didn’t know you hated needles that much. I won’t bring it up again, promise.” His eyes turn silver, and the copper ball bearings slowly float up into the air; from his pockets, silvery change suddenly floats out, joining the balls in a dance that catches the light every so often, sending shimmers across the room.

“Art?” He tilts his head to one side, watching the coins and ball bearings dance through the air as he slowly settles down onto the couch, leaning back.

At the touch, Lance flashes a reassuring smile to the younger girl before following her back along into the living room. “Art, huh,” he muses to himself, “I’m sure there’s a museum or gallery or something aside from the Brick House— I mean there’s some at the library if she’s into books too. Oh!”

A snap of his fingers, and he points at Owain. “The Yamagato Fellowship Center! It’s only open twice a week, but that place is full of art and shit.”

“Brynn’s favorite book is Secret Garden,” Squeaks adds in. Helpfully. She finishes folding the blanket she had just dropped when she made her escape. “But I think she’d probably like the place Lance said better than the library.” Because going to the library is awesome and all, but sounds a little lame for a date. “Doesn’t she also like the beach?” That question is directed at Lance, all while she turns a full circle in order to pick up another blanket that needs folding.

Owain snaps his fingers and points right back at Lance, his brows raising. “Oh, why didn’t I think of that one? Thanks, man,” he replies…then, he pales a little bit as Squeaks totally rats him out, before his cheeks start burning a bit. He owes Squeaks for that slip up.

“I…ah…was thinking of bringing her to the old carnival on Long Island. There’s old rides, I think I might be able to move some of them.” Maybe if he just keeps talking, Lance won’t notice that they’re talking about him going on a date with Brynn.

“Yeah, that’d be a great place to…” Lance trails off as what Squeaks said sinks in, and his steps towards the couch halt. Slowly, his head turns towards Owain, eyebrows raising slowly. “You’re going on a date with Brynn?”

It’s hard to reach his expression!

Well, no one told her that it was some big secret.

Squeaks looks from Owain to Lance, eyes wide as she tries to piece together what just happened. The newly folded blanket is set on the first. And that one she’d shoved off to the side is given a nudge with a foot. She usually uses that one at night anyway, so it doesn’t need to be folded. Besides, she needs to keep watching Lance and Owain.

The pocket change that was once dancing in the air slowly floats back into Owain’s pocket, followed by the ball bearings that land in his hand. Then, the silver bleeds out of the corners of his eyes, revealing the brown eyes beneath.

“I…yes?” He looks a bit like a deer in the headlight for a moment, idly fidgeting with the copper balls. “Yes.” This is said with a bit more confidence, though Owain’s cheeks are still bright red. “I asked her on a date, and she agreed. Said it’s her first date ever, so I want to make it really nice for her.”
“Mhm,” says Lance, considering the other teenager for a long moment before stating, “You’d better.”

Then he flops himself onto the couch, which is probably putting him in Squeaks’ way, legs draping over the edge. “I like working at the radio station,” he changes the subject entirely, “It’s a lot of fun.”

After following Lance’s movements with her eyes, Squeaks looks at Owain next. Her shoulders bounce in a little, quick shrug. Whatever just happened was confusing. She looks at Lance again, since he’s taking up the whole couch, the twists around to sit on the floor with her back against the couch.

“I heard you there,” Squeaks claims. The subject change is easily adapted to. “It’s primal.”

“I will,” Owain offers with a sheepish grin in response to Lance, letting the subject rest there — he seems more than happy to drop it, anyhow, as it’s a bit of a private matter — at least, in his mind it is.

“I heard you, too,” he gladly continues the new subject, still fidgeting with the copper ball bearings. “You make a pretty good DJ. Though I don’t think Dolly Parton died, pretty sure she’s still kicking it in Dollywood.” He grins faintly.

“Is she? I wouldn’t know how to check,” Lance muses, sweeping one hand dramatically up towards the ceiling, “I guess she can be out there… somewhere… in a mythical paradise called Dollywood, and we’d never know it. No internet, after all. Someone would have to go on a great pilgrimage to find out, and return telling us of a land of milk, honey, country music, and giant tits.”

His hand drops with a chuckle, “It’s weird being on the air, but it’s pretty primal, too. Jolene knew— uh— another me? In the future. So that’s weird.”

“Can I see the radio station place?” Squeaks voices the question as she tips her head back to look up at Lance. “Oh! Can I watch you work? It’s almost like TV, right? Only they’re not filming it, just you talking. I can be real quiet, I promise!”

While the joke seems to go well over the head of Squeaks, Owain can’t help but chortle a little bit — Lance’s comment is the kind of comment that would make someone laugh milk out of their nose, if Owain had any milk. “Oh man, that sounds like a harrowing journey. Looks like I know where I’m going next,” he laughs, shaking his head.

The mention of future stuff prompts a small shake of Owain’s head. “That whole future people thing…not gonna lie, it’s weird.”

“Yeah, it’s…” Lance trails off for a moment, staring at the ceiling, “It’s real weird. Not gonna lie.”

Weirder than any of them know, at least for Lance personally.

His head lifts then to look over at Squeaks, and he cracks a grin, “Maybe, I’d need to ask Jolene and Martin. And I can sound-block you out from the equipment so keeping quiet isn’t that big an issue.”

Maybe is better than no, and it puts a very pleased grin on Squeaks’ face. She wraps her arms around her knees and scoots into a better seat on the floor. “They’ll say yes.” She’s very confident in that.

Owain leans forward suddenly, snapping his fingers and pointing at Lance. “Oh yeah. There’s a place I saw when I was out exploring. Didn’t check it out because I didn’t have time, but you should come with me, Lance. Looks cool and abandoned.”

The invitation isn’t extended to Squeaks, because Owain is not about to bring the girl to Staten Island. Jerk.

“They probably will,” Lance admits with a crooked grin over to Squeaks, “They’re both pretty chill people…” The snap of fingers brings his attention back over to Owain, eyebrows lifting, “Oh? What’s the place?”

The snap has the youngest of the three looking up also. “Where?” Squeaks asks anyway, unaware that she’d been left out of the equation, intentionally or not. It’s just plain rude to think she can be excluded. Also, it’s just natural for her to assume that adventures and exploring that include one of the older teens just automatically includes her also.

Owain glances to Squeaks briefly, then back to Lance. “Out on Staten, in the Greenbelt. Some old observation tower, doesn’t look like anyone’s been in there. Door looked rusty, like nobody’s used it in years.” His head tilts toward his shoulder. “Dunno what’s up there, but I feel like I should bring someone, you know?”

He glances to Squeaks then, frowning. “I am not going to lie, I don’t like the idea of bringing you to Staten.” He’ll ease into the fact that he’s going to sneak off with Lance and not bring Squeaks. Or maybe he just won’t say anything about not bringing her.

Lance glances between the two other teenagers - one younger than the other - at the mention of discluding Squeaks. One hand comes up to rub at the nape of his neck uncertainly, “Well.. uh. An old tower, huh?”

Yes. Avoid the subject, Lance. Dodge it like the ninja you are!

“You’re not in charge.”

Owain might be frowning, but now Squeaks is angry. “You don’t get to decide where I go. And if you think you’re sneaking anywhere, I’ll tell Brynn and Kaylee and Gillian.” She stands as she speaks, and marches to stand right in front of the older boy. Size doesn’t seem to matter much to her, as she stands there, all but glaring up at him.

“I’ll tell Lance what I saw you doing.”

Owain tilts his head toward Squeaks. “There are human traffickers out there, Squeaks.” He jerks a thumb toward Lance. “They tried to take his sister. I know you’re not worried about it, but I am. You’d be exactly the kinda person they want — undocumented, nobody in the government knows about you.” The teen shakes his head.

At the threat, Owain blanches slightly, but then shrugs. “I like you, Squeaks, and I really like keeping you around. I could never forgive myself if something happened to you out there.” The metallokinetic frowns. “I’ll tell them where I’m going myself — and the fact that Brynn and I kissed isn’t much of a stretch now that he knows I’m going on a date with her.”

Sure, Squeaks will probably be pretty mad at him for taking away the power of her threats, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Owain sighs, frowning down at Squeaks.“You’re right, I’m not in charge, and I can’t decide where you go. But I can try to tell you that it’s not safe to come with us, and I can tell you that I’m not telling you when we’re going.” He glances to Lance, shrugging.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on,” Lance waves both hands in the air as if calling a play at a game as he rolls up to a seated position, tucking a leg under him, “Let’s back up a step here— you were kissing Brynn?”

A single brow arches upwards, and he gives Owain a suspicious look “You said you hadn’t had your first date yet. These things go in an order!”

The girl’s eyes widen when Owain shoots himself in the foot. A quick look darts over to Lance because, really, whatever else she might have tattled about, Owain owning up to kissing Brynn on his own is way more interesting. She might not be done stating her case for why she should be allowed to go to Staten Island, too, but she kind of wants to see what happens next more.

That was much less casual than he thought it might be. Cheeks burning, Owain smile sheepishly at Lance. “Once. Just one kiss. I…it was right after I found out about my dad.” He reaches a hand up, idly rubbing at the scars that lace their way across his knuckles — a physical reminder of when the rug was pulled out from under him.

“I asked before I tried anything,” he mentions first, because that is definitely an important thing to do. “It was kind of a spur of the moment thing, and I haven’t tried since…wasn’t going to try until we have our date.” His hand lifts, rubbing against the back of his neck.

Lance squints at the other teenager, fingers drumming against his knee for a moment. “Mhm,” he observes eloquently, “I see. Well.”

He shrugs, then, “Well, you asked. So. I guess that’s okay. So when’s your date? It’ll have to be Tuesday or Thursday, the Park isn’t open any other day— and since you’ve already kissed her you don’t want to keep her hanging, that’d be rude…”

Well, that was anticlimactic.

Squeaks huffs quietly, a short little puff of a breath and folds her arms over her chest. “And when are we going to Staten?” Because she’s going. “You can’t look and say it’s too dangerous because I’ve been where it’s dangerous.” She holds up a hand without uncrossing her arms, and ticks off fingers. “Sewers for a long time. And the ruins, hiding places while there’s fighting. I’m real good at hiding.” A look ticks over to Lance for his support in this.

Owain takes a moment to be chivalrous. “I respect Brynn, and I would never do anything to hurt her.” The respect is the important part here. “She’s…amazing.” This is added a bit sheepishly. Lance’s final question prompts a slightly raised eyebrow. “Soon. I haven’t actually set anything in stone yet…been trying to figure out how to make it perfect. I’ll let you know how it goes.”

Then, he turns his brown-eyed gaze to Squeaks, frowning a bit. “I get that,” he replies, “but human traffickers are different than Pikachus and people hiding in the dark. You’re just their type, too.” The metallokinetic shakes his head. “Please, Squeaks, at least let us scout this one out. If nothing tries to murder Lance and I, I’ll bring you back there.” A pause. “And I’ll give you half of my cut of anything cool we find.”

“She is good at taking care of herself,” Lance notes to Owain, though he’s frowning as well, “Staten is… Staten’s a mess, though, and yeah. One of them nearly grabbed my sister, I mean, my real sister? Not too long ago, just grabbed her while she was out scavving.” In the Bronx.

“What part’ve Staten’s this place at, O? I mean, some of it’s worse than others…”


That lovely, angry word is directed at Owain. And Squeaks is pretty much done arguing about it. She’ll go, whether he wants her to or not. “You don’t know everything. I don’t need you to keep me safe. I know how to be safe out there. I did it forever, and I could still do it now. Not just in the Underneath, not just against rats. People too.”

A look is given to Lance, confused and angry, hurt feelings. #BA55D3| I’m sorry,## she tells him in slightly clumsy Cant. With a scornful side-eye for Owain, Squeaks goes back down the hall. Lance’s room is left alone, this time it’s the closet she visits.

“I don’t doubt you’re good at taking care of yourself, believe me.” He frowns at Squeaks. “I know you’re good. But I like you, and these are sneaky assholes who nearly got the best of an animal empath.” Owain shakes his head. “I promise I’ll take you on the next one, I just want to make sure nothing is going to try to murder Lance and I first.”

He sighs as she walks off, and glances back over to Lance. “The Greenbelt. Only reason I’m worried about Squeaks is because anyone can jump out of a bush, and I can only handle so much with my ability.” He frowns down the hall again, and shakes his head.

Hopefully, they can sneak off without her following them.

The closet door closes, and Lance looks back to Owain for a long moment.

“You realize,” he deadpans, “That she’s coming with us, right?”

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