Guess Who Came to Dinner?

Participants:

brynn_icon.gif caspian_icon.gif joe_icon.gif lance_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif silvia_icon.gif

Scene Title Guess Who Came to Dinner?
Synopsis Dinner is served for the Lighthouse kids and others!
Date March 11, 2018

Caspian's Place

Built on the second floor of a disused building in a nice part of the safe zone, Caspian’s place is sparse, with a couch and a sectional scavenged from somewhere, a galley kitchen with appliances that work, and air conditioning and heating that keeps the place comfortable. Windows line the tops of the walls, giving plenty of natural light, while a few partitions have been built to separate the bathroom (Right door) from his bedroom (left door). Rugs cover the hardwood floors and, despite the worn nature of everything in the large single room, it’s clean and tidy. Several walls are taken up with murals, spray painted over time, with others half-covered in paint, ready to begin again. A large blank spot near the door sits, spray cans at the ready, for guests to add their mark. Solar panels on the roof and a battery bank in an out-of-the-way closet on the bottom floor keep the entire place powered, even through brownouts.


It’s not a holiday.

It’s not Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or Easter. It’s the middle of Lent, but it’s not Wednesday, so a church isn’t having a meal. It’s a basic Sunday evening when nothing is really planned or even expected to happen, which is why it’s the perfect time for this to happen.

Caspian is putting the finishing touches on a meal for about seven or eight hungry people, with enough for leftovers to be taken home later for another meal. A ham - God knows where he found a bone-in ham - rests on a cutting board, already dissected into the component parts, ready to be carved when the guests arrive. A gigantic pot of beans, seasoned with onions, salt, and black pepper along with another ham bone, simmers on the stove within reach. A large pan of root vegetables, picked up from the market this morning, have been peeled, chopped, and roasted under the broiler with a little honey, giving them a nice glaze. Cabbage, corn bread, and cans of soda from the market and even iced tea as a special treat await the guests that are coming in the next few minutes, as well as a mound of apples. Caspian looks over the preparations, nodding to himself. This should be fine. After all, how many could there be?

His initial guess was six - Brynn, Joe, Lance, Eimi, maybe Raquelle, and a one or two of the Lighthouse kids he hadn’t met, so to be safe, he bumped the guess to eight. If more people show up, he should have plenty and, with the lack of food in the zone, he’s fully expecting to end up putting all of this out and more. It’s okay, though. People are hungry, and this is a way for him to help mitigate some of that discomfort, as well as meeting a couple of new people.

When he opens the door, Brynn is a little behind her brothers — Joe is invariably going to almost always be the first one in the door while Lance is the calmer of them. The silent girl seems to feel most comfortable flanked by them anyway, and when the come through the door and split off from one another, she’s carrying not only the ever-present backpack over her shoulder but also a tray of some kind of cookies. She traded some things for them in the market, and she offers them somewhat shyly to Caspian. One thing we all learned young was not to show up at a house without an offering — though it’s a holdover to manners of an older time, it was also a practical thing in a time of deprivation. Potluck was always the order of the day if anyone was invited somewhere — no one household was expected to have enough to manage everyone, and social gatherings were for everyone to get together!

Besides, Brian did have manners and stuff! He was a pretty good parent, all in all. Thank you for having us, Cas! She sniffs appreciatively, amazed at the scent of meat wafting from the kitchen.

Not that far behind Brynn, Lance, and Joe is the face of Silvia. She waves enthusiastically and also so she can be seen, given her petite stature. “I hope it’s okay that I came too. I didn’t have an idea of some sort of food to bring but… I brought something for the table.” Her non-waving hand comes out from behind her back as she holds up a bouquet of daffodils shoved into an eclectic green vase that definitely looks like she picked it up secondhand.

Just visible behind her is hoverdad Mateo, present so as to make sure that Silvia gets in alright.

There aren’t a lot of recipes that Lance can really pull off, but he did manage to put a jar of mayo, some canned tuna, and some frozen peas together with some noodles and make some sort of casserole.

It’s probably edible.

“Hey Caspian,” he greets as he piles in with the others, “I made a tuna casserole!”

Also there’s slices of pre-made cheese that were melted into it, from the look of it.

American - the finest of cheeses!

As the door is opened and people are ushered in, the brown-haired man can’t help but smile. “Welcome, welcome. Thanks for coming, and thanks for bringing what you could.” Anything that’s offered is transported over to the table, Silvia’s bouquet placed right in the middle in a place of honor. Do you know how /HARD/ it is to get those things around here?

Mateo gets a firm handshake. Nope, no insane killer cult here - just a simple apartment with a bucketload of food that has been cooking since early this morning.

Brynn gets a signed “Hello,’ the cookies hefted and taken to the kitchen to be held back for dessert.

Lance gets a light clap on the shoulder, along with Joe. “You guys really didn’t need to bring anything…” Protests that certainly fall on deaf ears but he’s got to at least put it out there. “Since it’s your first time here, everyone sign the wall….and yes, Joe and Lance, I know this is your second, but do it anyway. Everyone leave your mark and once we’re sure everyone’s here, we’ll get started.” He turns towards the kitchen. “Oh, grazing is allowed, so….if you’re starving, go nuts.”

Not far behind Silvia is someone who is definitely not a Lighthouse Kid. Mateo could not be considered tall by any standards, hair flecked with gray at his temples. He doesn't bother to shrug off his coat as he steps inside this house. He'd noticed the electrical set up and could not help but appreciate it— maybe the Benchmark should look into an electrical fence — but he's more worried about who this person is that lives here.

When his eyes settle on Caspian, he's frowning, even as they shake hands. It may not be an insane killer cult, but… he still has some protective doubts for his daughter. And he's holding a tupperware in his free hand so that they can shake. He can't help but feel that same protective feeling toward the kids he'd met at the Pizza party, and even the one he can't speak to personally. Though at least those kids aren't as young as his Silvia.

"If you would have given me more notice I would have taught you how to make something," he offers to Silvia, before he puts down a small throw away tupperware with— mashed potatoes. With a sinful amount of garlic salt and butter for flavoring. Enough for at least ten servings. "Mashed potatoes are really easy— I think even your mom could make them if she watched the boiling pot." And didn't let it boil over. Which with Lynette, she might.

Mark the wall. Well, if the homeowner is the one asking, he won't let his internal janitor kick in.

Brynn grins to spot Silvia coming in the door, dropping her backpack to one side of the entry and bouncing to the other girl. Though Silvia doesn’t know signing, it doesn’t seem to deter the petite brunette from grabbing Silvia’s hand and dragging her to the wall. With her power, using a fingertip as a drawing tool, Brynn begins a brilliant purple and blue swathe of sparkling color that says her name on the wall, a pure silver unicorn sketched in at the end with a star on the tip of its horn. Then she gestures to Silvia to choose colors of paint! She looks very excited and doesn’t initially take notice of Mateo… until she turns around and finds him watching the ‘painting’ and looks suddenly both shy and a little like she’s about to bolt to hide behind the teen boys. Fighting the urge, she sort of waves hi at him, a little sheepishly.

“Potatoes are pretty easy, but next time I’ll give you more warning and we’ll make something together, ‘kay?” Silvia offers Mateo a bright smile before she looks towards Brynn and quite happily gets dragged over to the wall. She watches Brynn with a bit of amazement as she works, but then gets busy with paint of her own, picking out a dark purple and starting a fancy scrawl of her name with flourishes on nearly every letter. She keeps stopping to admire Brynn’s handywork though.

Joe is indeed the first one in the door. He's like the energizer bunny. Always going. So when the door opens he steps in and gives Caspian a hug. Not a handshake, the man gets a hug before Joe steps past him to let the other two inside as well. "Hi Cas! Thanks for letting us come over! Or inviting us rather!" Translation work will of course always be done by Joe, or Lance. So Brynn is always included in conversations to the best of their ability. "Sil!" Joe shouts when he glances back and sees her and her father behind the group. "It's probably pretty decent. We learned to make due and cook okay with almost nothing." Joe says in regards to Lance's casserole. He gets out of the way of everyone, his eyes taking everyone else in, a small smile settling in place. "That's Silvia's Dad. He's a pretty primal dude." Joe offers as an aside to Caspian.

The relatively small casserole dish is set down, and Lance replies to Caspian in wry tones, “Maybe so, but we’re not gonna come and just mooch, man.” The excitement of the two more artistic of the group of friends is watched with a grin, and then he steps over to grab up a can of silver spraypaint, considering the wall for a few moments.

He sprays out an at least recognizable LG on the wall, and then glances to Brynn and stage-whispers, “You should put a big ‘L H K’ over all our names. Like a group tag!”

"I won't be staying for the food, I just wanted to make sure Silvia got here okay," Mateo says after a moment, keeping close to Silvia, but giving the host a few more glances over, watching for clues of— well— anything that might set off his 'dad' anxiety. That little ocean in his head is certainly slamming up against the beach, which doesn't help his worry. And probably not a good place to be anxious, with all the electricity so readily available.

"Why are you doing this?" he questions the host, not quite sounding suspicious, but there's definitely a hint of it there. He can tell the man seems well meaning enough. But he see any kids running around that might belong to this man to calm his nerves completely, just young people. He also doesn't think anyone in the room is threatened with actual starvation, even with the food shortage. Even if he imagines Joe could eat the whole meal all by himself, from the way he'd scarfed down pizza the other day.

He also doesn't touch the spray paint, as of yet.

Brynn’s watching Mateo when he speaks to Caspian, and although she has zero sense of his tone when he asks, the words worry her. Gray eyes flick immediately to Lance and she signs, Why does he think Caspian’s doing something wrong? Have they missed something important? She’s never met Mateo, and she wasn’t able to go to Silvia’s house and be reassured by the way Lynette interacts with him. She’s also never exactly had a father-figure who does THAT kind of fathering. So she rather uneasily shifts, her gaze flicking between the males in the room. Is this a testosterone thing?? she demands of her brothers.

As people trickle in, Caspian makes an effort to greet each person individually, ending up in front of Mateo and the question of the hour burning in everyone's mind. “I know, sort of, what these kids are going through. “I've been hungry. It sucks. I'm doing okay here in the zone. I don't really wonder where my next meal is coming from. These guys…”. Caspian gestures to the three LHK’s and Silvia. “Are pretty much the only friends I've met here in the zone since getting here a few weeks ago. And it’s not like I’m getting anything more than cool stories and slang I’ve never heard before. A few new experiences.. So, I’m sharing the wealth a little. Pulling in a couple of favors, giving out a few of my own. Putting a solar panel in for a ham, stuff like that.” Caspian grins at the art going on the wall - even Lance’s silvery scrawl gets a grin - before he turns back to Mateo. “You’re welcome to stay. There’s plenty of food for everyone, and with Silvia being as small as she is, we could give her, like, two graham crackers and a thimble and she’d be good for the evening.” He grins, playfully teasing the smaller woman a little.

Joe sees Lance picking up the spray can, and well he wasn't sure Caspian was serious about tagging the wall, but then Lance goes and sprays it so he hmmms and Joe grabs up a can, a random can of spray paint and steps over to the wall, signing it with 'JoJo' before he steps back and puts the can down. "My can was purple. I love it! Primal. I love that idea, having people sign your wall. And last time we kind of just showed up, we weren't invited so… there is that." Joe flashes a wide grin at Caspian, then looks over as Mateo gets all suspicious. Joe opens his mouth, then closes it before he puffs out his cheeks. "Caspian is cool peoples. He helped us go find Jim. Hailey's monkey. Hailey is our sister. Well Lance's blood sister but she grew up with us. We barely knew him and he agreed to come help. We've been talking about having a gang dinner over here awhile."

Cuz he's being a good Dad. Really he's just making sure his daughter is safe here. I can't blame him. She didn't grow up the same way we did. Though she was cared for by the Ferry down there. Mateo actually worked with the Ferry down south. Which is pretty primal. Makes Silvia a Ferry kid too. Joe looks up and over in the direction of Caspian, nodding with what he says. Joe doesn't go eat yet though, he's being patient, even if his stomach is demanding food.

Someone else had heard about this food thing. A fancy meal being put together for a bunch of people. And even though that someone might not know who the host is, or even how hospitable - or not hospitable - he may be, that someone decided to sneak in as the guests arrived.

While Caspian is busy greeting the expected and mostly expected arrivals, another face appears. First in the doorway. A single eye and a fraction of a face shaded by a hood watch. Just long enough to hear the salutations. The owner of the face follows in due course, a smidge of a kid tucked into clothes a size or so too large. The jacket hanging off the shoulders is definitely too big. But it’s without fanfare or a dish to share that the newcomer appears, familiar or not, and likely not worried about that.

After all, the newcomer doesn’t seem too concerned with crashing the party, walking into the apartment as though belonging there.

"I have known hunger too," Mateo responds quietly, even as he feels some of his tension settled. He doesn't know what the younger folks are signing to each other, but he still says a soft. "Sorry. I just have seen people use what looks like charity in… different ways." After all, he remembers growing up in Argentina after a military coup. Where many women had children ripped away from them to be raised by generals. Where people probably used 'promise of food' for… terrible things.

And that didn't include later memories in Argentina and Mexico, when he'd worked with the Ferry.

The assurance that the man isn't expecting anything in exchange except stories and slang seems to calm the tension in 'protective Silvia dad' a little, though he does look toward the short girl and says in Spanish to the girl, "«You won't need to worry about where your next meal is coming from, I promise.»" With that, he even drops a quick kiss on her head. She won’t need to worry about going without food. Not again. Lynette and him will skip meals before they allow her to. "«Don't take any leftovers— let Lance and the others have them.»" They sound like they don’t have parents who would skip meals to make sure they still had them.

"Thank you for the invitation, but I think they need the food more than I do." Especially Lance, Joe and the Brynn he didn't know. …And then the newest arrival, as well. Who he assumes is just another friend of all these kids.

##BA55D3|He’s just being protective,| Lance signs back over towards Brynn with a shake of his head, before adding, “He’s cool, Mister Ruiz, no need to worry. He even came out to the Bronx to help us get my sister’s stuff when she got shot.” Shot?

Then he’s looking to the door as Squeaks comes in, brow furrowing a little. ##BA55D3|Who’s that?|

Not so much fancy as ‘food and lots of it,’ although the fact that lots of it could be considered fancy in these lean times. “I’m not trying to disparage parenting at all - it’s a tough job I’m not cut out for - but Silvia’s invited just ‘cause she likes my art, and buttering up the host helps a lot when you’re getting into good graces.” There’s nothing here dangerous - aside from the electricity - and even that is safe in its wires or batteries downstairs. The most dangerous thing here is probably the kitchen knives or spades, if things get really crazy this evening.

Squeaks’ entry into the house gets a blink, and the flurry of hands coming from Lance gives him a moment of pause. Still, no sense in not being friendly. Home is home, after all, and he’s welcoming guests. “Hey there.” Squeaks gets a wave. “You a friend of Lance’s?”

Oooh! She didn’t think of Silvia’s situation that way, even though the boys told her Lynette was the girl’s mom! Ferry Kids gotta stick together, and if Mateo is looking out for her, well… that just makes him good peoples in Brynn’s head. Kinda glad Brian didn’t run around doing that… Then again… who would Brian have interrogated, way out in BFE rural Canada??? Turning her attention back to what they’re working on, though, she seems perfectly happy to use her power in a brilliant rose color to tag “L-H-Ferry-K” around the periphery of the tags that the kids have put up.

When she turns back around and Lance asks about the new girl, Brynn merely shrugs and picks up a lovely blue green that will also go with the silvers, blues, and purples and holds it out to the sweat-shirted younger teen for whom she has no name. She offers it and gestures to the wall — go ahead! Tag!

Silvia doesn’t mind her father’s protectiveness, not really. She might shrug it off but somewhere deep down she’s glad someone’s looking out for her. She likes that. She needs that. She gives him a grin, rattling off in Spanish, “«I know you’re always looking out for me. And that I can always go to you if I ever need anything. But don’t worry, I’m safe here and will be well fed and probably see some cool art.»”

Her attention shifts briefly towards the others around her, first on the rapidly signing bunch near her and then eventually on the new figure in the doorway who is offered a friendly wave. “I’m Silvia.”

Being noticed doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Squeaks’ venture into the apartment wasn’t done to draw suspicions. Eyes slant toward those speaking, peering out from beneath the hood. “No,” is a simply, not unkindly, put answer that’s directed at Caspian. Definitely a young voice. The can of paint is regarded, then taken.

“You said there was food.” The can is given a shake as feet carry the newcomer across the room to the wall, where the other teenagers have collected. A single word is painted out, letters formed in an unsteady and unpracticed hand, Squeaks. “That’s me.” Explanation included with a nod and an offering of the paint back to Brynn.

This is one of those moments that could define a lot of things for a lot of people. Squeaks is skinny - everyone can see that - and the fact that she had heard about the meal being planned, then did enough snooping to find out when it was and where it was shows that there was a little bit of planning going on there. It’s not like she would have done this if there was any other option, right?

Glancing to the crowd, Caspian nods and gestures to the table, piled high with enough. “Plenty of food. You’re welcome here. Squeaks, right?” He reads the wall, then looks to the much smaller girl. “I’m Caspian. This is my place and you’re welcome to sit down with us. All we ask is manners and politeness and we’ll all get along fine.” He gestures to the hood. “Going to leave that on all night? It’ll be like talking to a rogue from fantasy books or something.”

The new kid gets a slightly longer look— but Mateo can definitely see that this one definitely needs the food. Even if he's not sure anyone here seems to recognize her. "«Keep an eye on that one, but make sure she gets some of the leftovers,»" he adds to Silvia, not trusting that this new one won't try to steal something, but also— well— kids need to eat. And should eat.

Disengaging from Silvia, he picks up the spray paint can and shakes it, pausing for a moment before he signs his name Mateo Javier Ruiz. He hesitates for a moment on the Ruiz, for some reason, but then continues. His handwriting looks nice, though, even if the spray paint is a medium he hasn't used much.

Is this the guy who was encouraging his kid to do murals? He just hopes they ask first— he's already had to paint over graffiti multiple times as a "janitor" cause the people who owned the building didn't want it.

"Enjoy your food," he adds to everyone, before stopping by Joe and Lance specifically and putting a hand on their upper arms as he says, "You take care of Silvia. If you need a ride, try to call. Hopefully it will go through. But don't stay out too late." The streets might not be as dangerous as the outside, but he doesn't trust anywhere after dark sometimes. But he thinks these two boys will at least keep an eye on his little girl. And will call if they need help.

Brynn’s smile at the younger teen is gentle. She recognizes the fear — anyone who’s ever been on the streets before would recognize it. She takes the spray can back, sets it on the ground, and then signs, It’s nice to meet you, Squeaks. She looks back toward Silvia and Mateo, noting that Mateo is apparently leaving Silvia here — that makes her happy. So she goes toward the table to pick at some of the foodstuffs laid out there. She’s often extremely quiet in a crowd and it’s starting to get a bit crowded, after all. She seems content, though. Happy to be where she is.

Huh. Lance regards the girl a bit suspiciously, but then he brings one shoulder up in a shrug - who’s he to dismiss a new person, after all?

“Squeaks, huh? Good to meet you,” he flashes an easy smile, “This’s Joe and Silvia, that’s Brynn — she’s deaf so you’ll need us to translate ‘less you know ASL.”

Then he’s flashes Mateo a confident smile, “No worries, Mister Ruiz. We’ll keep an eye on her… anyone looks at her wrong, we’ll kick their ass.”

"Leaving Mateo? Aww come on SilDad hang out for a bit. Put yourself more at ease. We don't want you to be worried. But I mean there are adults here." Joe and Lance are adults. So some of them are adults. Well some of them are posing as adults. Caspian is definitely an adult though. For sure. Joe flashes a broad smile in Mateo's direction. "You're a cool Dad." He comments before his attention swings around to Squeaks.

"Someone get this kid some food. STAT. Can anyone even tell me what stat means? Like is it an acronym for something? Like ASAP? Or is it just some slang that no one ever bothered to explain. Like calling a helicopter a huey?" He looks around the room a little, waiting to see if someone has an answer to his question. Then Lance is introducing people. He's good for that. Manners. Joe moves along at a little too quick of a pace for manners sometimes.

"Yes, manners. Introductions. Thank you as ever brosef." Joe flashes a big cheeky grin at Lance before he turns and regards Brynn's work on the wall mural. "WHoah! Love it." He signs that at Brynn as he goes over to it to look it over, then tips his head in confirmation. "IT smells like spraypaint in here now." Joe observes, since previously it smelled like nummy foods.

With his ‘dad nerves’ calmed, Mateo nods to each of the kids, and Caspian, and makes his way back over to Silvia for one last goodbye kiss on the top of the head before he makes his way back out. He does stop for a moment to look at the electric fence though. He might have to ask this guy to help set one of those up at the Benchmark.

Just in case.

A nod of understanding the rules follows as Caspian speaks. But it’s the other man who earns a verbal reply. “«I don’t bother anyone.»” Squeaks speaks up with a look at Mateo, matching Spanish for Spanish even if the accent is different. Then, “Thanks,” is directed to everyone else.

The hood is pushed off, left to drape against the kid’s back. Freed of the overhang of fabric, a clearer look is given to the apartment and the occupants. Curious in a casual way. Joe’s questions get a head tilt, but nothing more.

Food is more important presently, and Squeaks follows Brynn’s lead.

Well, that’s that, then. Caspian closes the door after Mateo leaves and heads to the kitchen to start slicing ham. “Plenty of food for everyone.” He pokes his head out of the kitchen. “Even you, Joe. Load up. Get seconds. I’m not going to have any leftovers left except for some beans after all this is finished.” He grins and brings out the plate of ham, sliced nice and thick with a sweet glaze.

“Anyone heard anything from Raquelle? I’m dying to know what he thought of Brynn’s work on his salon.” Caspian helped too, but he’s giving Brynn a lot of the credit.

It wasn’t just me — all I did was color in the pattern, she objects. It was your design! She leaves Joe or Lance to translate and helps herself to a very full plate. Setting in, the last thing going on her plate the ham that Caspian brings out, Brynn heads now for a corner of the couch where she slumps in comfortably and seems to relax finally. She feels safe. The sense of community that comes with this dinner is familiar and welcome. Though her brothers sign well, Brynn seems to want nothing more than to watch and participate wherever is most convenient for now, eating with enthusiasm but also with very good manners. And she can’t exactly talk while she eats, after all.

“She’s being all humble and shit,” Lance observes with a jerk of his head towards Brynn, “All ‘oh but it was your design, I just colored it in’.” He’s loading up his own plate, although not overly. He tries not to overeat — honestly he generally takes smaller portions than he even should. Old habits die hard.

“So new kid,” he asks over to Squeaks, “What’s your deal? We’re mostly old Lighthouse kids, from Staten Island. I mean, before it got all horrible.”

He pauses a moment. “More. More horrible.”

Joe starts to translate but when Lance has him covered Joe pretty much just jerks his thumb over his shoulder in Lance's direction. "What he said." Then comes the explanation of who they are. "Again what broheme said." Another thumb jerk, then he's over grabbing a plate and loading it up with food. Definitely more than Lance got. No shame. He does flash a grin over at Caspian. "Hey! I won't eat all the food. I'll leave some for everyone else!" He wanders around the dishes, scooping food onto his plate, then looks around for somewhere to go sit. He's a bit too busy stuffing his face to ask questions.

There are plenty of places to sit. Couches and chairs are abundant, with a few folding chairs in the corner just in case more people show up. He sits quietly and watches as everyone loads up their plates from his spot on the couch, smiling a little as food is mounded up. “We both did a lot of stuff, Brynn.” Caspian says with a wink. “It’d take me ages to get your coloring right and I’d have to start over like fifteen or twenty times to be sure I got it smooth. I’m a little jealous of your skills.”

Then, to Joe, Caspian shakes his head. “Just eat. There’s plenty, plus dessert thanks to Brynn and the coffee lady in the market. She made cake!”

Brynn just shakes her head and moves to start eating what’s on her plate, a faint blush coloring her cheeks when it’s said she’s being humble. That’s like…. Drawing attention to yourself on purpose by saying it was no big deal when it was, right? Geeez. That’s mortally embarrassing. So instead of responding to her brothers, the brunette just shovels in food. She has the excuse, easily, of not being able to talk and eat at the same times!

Already filling a plate, Squeaks looks over the spread when addressed by Lance. A slab of ham hovers half way between the table and the plate in hand while the question is considered. “There’s food here,” comes simply, punctuated by the slice summarily delivered to its destination. “There’s not food other places.”

Some of the more stable food - that which won’t leave a greasy, wet mess - is pilfered in passing and spirited away into the volumes of hoodie that drapes off the new kid’s shoulders. For later. “What’s Lighthouse,” is a casual query, asked while picking out a spot of carpet to sit on. Not too far from the food.

“It was an orphanage,” explains Lance with a shrug, stabbing a piece of ham with his fork, “It was in, y’know, an old lighthouse. Which explains the name.” Then he’s shoving ham in his mouth and chewing cheerfully.

Joe does indeed load his plate, then wanders over in the direction of Lance, standing near him as he’s steadily shoveling food into his mouth. There’s some semi vocal agreement to what Lance says about the Lighthouse. Then he swallows his food and clears his throat before speaking up. “The Lighthouse was a refuge for kids with Evolved powers before the war. Like me, and Lance, and Brynn and the … you know I don’t know how many other kids, but a lot. A lot of kids came through the Lighthouse and it’s successors. We eventually had to leave the lighthouse for other safehouses, but the lighthouse kids bit stuck with us. That’s where we all met.” Joe’s gesture includes himself Lance and Brynn.

“We were in the care of the Ferry. They managed to get us out before the war started up. Like /just/ before the war started up. And we’re alive now thanks to them.” Joe’s shoulders lift in a half shrug and he flashes Squeaks a quick grin before he goes back to trying to clear his plate in record time.

Caspian has a plate - a small one - already made up, sitting on the mantle in the front room next to a picture of an older woman - probably his mother. He doesn’t do much to get in the way of people or things, but he does stand there and just watches, with a smile, as community is built in his little house. As connections between old friends are strengthened and new ones are formed. From the quiet solitude of Brynn, watching as people flit around her consciousness like butterflies, to Squeaks, jealously guarding her first, second, and third plates, to the boisterous nature of Joe and Lance brightening the room. It’s like the war hadn’t happened, and like happiness and good times were there, just waiting to be taken. Caspian takes a sip of his tea and simply watches and smiles, taking in the stories as they’re told.


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