Guess Who's Late To Dinner


caspian_icon.gif eimi_icon.gif

Scene Title Guess Who's Late to Dinner?
Synopsis A teleporting girl is late for a date that happened a day ago, for reasons all her own.
Date March 12, 2018

Outside Electric

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.

The electric fence is ON

The night after the feast at Caspian’s place is a lot quieter than the night before. A large group of people came in, ate his food, and shared community between the evolved Lighthouse Kids and the newly arrived Caspian. After a cleanup and meeting a new girl - Squeaks - who was so hungry she just invited herself, board games and cards were played until the end of the night where leftovers were sent home.

Well, newly arrived after a month.

This evening, Caspian has pulled out the smoker. A trip to the market found a chicken that was quickly dispatched and plucked, as well as a nice supply of firewood from fallen oaks. A little salt and pepper and some time and dinner - a butterflied, smoked chicken, was ready, along with some of the leftover beans and roasted root vegetables from the night before. Half of the chicken is for lunch tomorrow, so it's sitting on a counter to cook before going into the fridge to cool, and he's finishing up setting up his plate before sitting at the dining room table.

It's right around the time of evening where dinner started the night before. Caspian might hear a slight series of popping of displaced air, outside. Then again, walls being what they are, he might not. But once she finds a vantage point to inside, the one he'll hear — and see — is Eimi's arrival into the dining room.

The teenager offers a slight grin and then looks around, and asks, "'m I early?" pause, and slightly flatter, "or late?" Pause. "Brynn and Joe said there'd be food." Eimi just lost track of the time and is a little bit confused about which day it currently is.

He hears the little pops as they draw closer and closer, and while a portion of him knows what the sounds are, another, more vocal, part has no idea so, while he’s dishing things up, he tries to figure it out. Fluorescent light bulbs? No, can’t be that. Those were generally destroyed in explosions and are kind of hard to find, thus the switch to LED’s. Gunshots? No, not that, either. It’s not echoing over the buildings and, more importantly, people aren’t scurrying for cover. It’s only when the last one happens, in his apartment, revealing Eimi in all her glory, does he put it all together.

For a second, he just blinks at the new arrival, through locked doors and electric fence before chuckling softly and shaking his head. “A little late, actually. Dinner was yesterday.” He pauses for a beat before smiling. “It’s okay, though. I’ve got plenty still, and that might have been a little crowded for you, anyway.” The plate he’s holding is set down on the table opposite him, Caspian turns to plate the other half of his chicken and dish up a little more of the sides - plucking a few parsnips from the plate that he had already made so both have the same amount. “Would you like a soda? I still have Coke, Sprite, and Root Beer left from yesterday. And iced tea - unsweet - if that’s something that tickles your fancy.

"Yesterday," Eimi repeats. This earns a dip in her brows and she finally nods, and explains, "I was hiding from people a bit, and also outside." Outside the safe zone, is the likely implication of the statement, and there's a few steps taken before she takes a chair and offers a half a grin.

"Yeah. I don't like… crowds, usually. Unless I'm doing something but not really even then," pickpocketing, petty thievery, other things that one might do in crowds all go unmentioned and instead the food gets a grin out of the teenager and she shakes her head. "Um. Sprite," she says, "or tea. I got tired of most soda," she explains. "There was a few months, a while ago. I found a gas station and the only thing left to drink there was cola." Her nose scrunches up and her brows furrow again. "Can't stand it anymore."

Another pause, and then she offers, "Thank you," for the food, for the invitation, for whatever, it's hard to tell. The flatness that creeps into her voice doesn't seem to be an intentional affect for the teenager so much as a side effect of isolation, or of what she's been through, or both. And then, as though remembering her manners, "How are you?" Jacket comes off, carefully set on the back of the chair, followed by the hoodie, and today Eimi's wearing a long-sleeved thermal that was once a dark red but has now faded to nearly grey to match the rest of the slightly goth wardrobe. And she's had a bit of a haircut since they first met.

“Yesterday.” Caspian repeats with a nod, placing the new plate opposite the second and then moving to the refrigerator to get ice(!) and tea, filling a matching plastic cup almost to the top with ice cubes, the pitcher of tea and a liter bottle of Sprite on the table within easy reach. “I understand why, though.” He returns to the table and gestures for Eimi to sit before taking the opposite seat himself, scooting himself up under the table before realizing he hadn’t grabbed a knife and fork for either. He sighs, slumping his shoulders melodramatically before getting back up and grabbing two sets of silverware, retaking his seat.

“I was worried about you.” He uses the knife and fork to cut a piece of smoked chicken away from the breast, blowing on it to cool before taking a bite. “With all the food thefts that went on in the zone recently, there are some rumors going around about a girl that teleports being wanted for questioning.” He pauses to take a sip of his tea. “When you didn’t show up, I was afraid you were being… ahem… ’questioned.’” You can almost see the air quotes around that. It’s never been a good thing to be questioned, and Eimi going through that isn’t something that he’d wish on anyone.

“I’m doing okay. Business is going well, and it seems that the Lighthouse Kids are adopting me into their group. Which is nice. I like having friends, even if they are a few years younger than I am.” Four in the case of Lance and Joe, a lot more in the case of Squeaks - the newest arrival that just randomly showed up. He does smile, gesturing to her with his glass. “And you’re welcome. It….I’ve been where you are, mostly. Hungry and looked for. Getting out of California was an exercise in hiding and hunger, and anything I can do to prevent anyone from experiencing that…I do.”

Eimi looks at the fork like for a moment, she's entirely unsure what to do with it, but finally does pick it up and use it to eat. Utensils, they're what civilized people use.

In between bites, she shakes her head. "I mean, I'm the girl that teleports," she admits, flatly, "but I didn't… I have to see where I'm going." She shakes her head. "I've been just… figuring things out." She continues, eating at a rate that suggests she's not nearly as starving as she was when Raquelle ordered dumplings for everyone, and then shrugs a bit. "But I can usually get away if I don't like being looked for."

Another pause. "I told Eve I'd talk to people if it was somewhere less in." There's a bit of a nod. "I did a lot of… that, getting here too." She shakes her head, puts down the silverware to pour herself the sprite and take a sip. "Don't worry, though?" is more of a question to Caspian than a protest, and it's a gentler expression than usual that suggests that she might appreciate the concern nonetheless. "I know how to take care of myself, you know."

Yeah, fork. It’s something he usually only pulls out for dinner. Beans require something like that, otherwise your fingers get all sticky, and it’s something he tries to use when he’s having dinner or an unexpected guest. Otherwise this might have all ended up between two slices of homemade bread and turned into a sandwich.

“You are the girl that teleports, and I figured it worked kind of like that. We all have limits on how hard we can go, or how much we can do. I mean, you know I’m evolved, right?” He tilts his head before continuing, blinking twice. “I can make forcefields, basically. Block bullets, make walls, hold back stuff, climb up things using stairs from my mind, but there’s a limit to how much of that I can do. How big a field or how much punishment it can take. So when rumors of ‘the teleporting girl’ came out, I figured they meant you, but there’s no way you could have moved all of that food by yourself so quickly. Even if you did steal, you wouldn’t have stolen all of it. There’s a difference between stealing because you need to and stealing because you’re an asshole. And you’re definitely not the latter unless absolutely necessary.” He winks.

He watches her quietly as she pours her drink, taking a sip of his tea after a moment. “I know you know how to take care of yourself. We all know how to, but sometimes it’s nice to not have to. To spend those spoons on other things. To not worry about staying warm, or where your next meal comes from, or clean clothes, or anything like that. To not be forced to face the world as it is, and instead just be a part of a community that helps each other. Today you, someday me, basically.” He leans back, gnawing on a chicken bone. “There’s a story in that, if you want to hear it.”

There's a nod, and Eimi listens. It's tacit permission for the older man to tell said offered story.

“During my exodus from California, I broke down on the side of the road. I had borrowed an abandoned car and blew out a tire on the highway. So, there I was, broken down, and no-one was stopping. Everyone for themselves, you know? But then this broken down van pulled up behind me and got out to help.” Caspian leans back to think. “It was an older mexican man. Didn’t speak a lot of english, but through a lot of gestures and grunts, he figured out I needed a jack. So he got his jack out and helped me change the tire on the car I was in. I offered to pay him, or something. Cash, or even some of the food I scavenged, but he just shook his head, patted my chest, and said ‘today you, tomorrow me.’ And left. That was it. Pay it forward, and that’s what I’ve done ever since.”

"Yeah," Eimi says, finally. She eats as she listens to Caspian tell the story, and then takes another long sip of her sprite before saying anything. "Sometimes people are good." She smiles. "You are," she says, "but… not everyone is."

Shoulders rise and fall in a shrug. "I didn't steal it," she adds, flatly. "That's what I told Joe and Lance, too." She isn't denying that she steals at times, just that particular thing. Then she adds, "I was… from Utah, and after the war Kansas City."

“Sometimes people are. A lot of time they’re not. The thing is, I find that being good gets a lot more people on your side than being a jerk and has the added bonus of letting anyone who sees you taking them on, while they’re being jerks, gets them inclined to support you because you’re being the nice one.” He chuckles and takes a few more bites, setting his fork aside and nodding. “I know you didn’t take it, Eimi.” Caspian says with a nod. “I’m not saying you did, and I’m not telling anyone we talked unless you want me to arrange a meeting outside, where you can talk freely. I’ve got a meeting with the council in a few days about solar panels for Red Hook market, so I’ve got a little leverage on my side regarding that.” Caspian does grin when she tells where she came from before. “Really?” Not the stealing part, the location part. “My mom lives in Dodge City. It’s where I headed when I got out of California. How about that.”

There’s a sense that her sharing this little bit of information is something that she hasn’t told many people…or any people at all. “I’m one of the good guys, Eimi. I’m not going to turn you in, send you away, or persecute you for having a sweet ability. And it is pretty dang sweet.” He chuckles and leans back to look at the fridge. “I think I have some cake left from yesterday. Chocolate okay?”

Eimi gives Caspian a look, brows dipping a little bit, but her attention returns to finishing the food on her plate rather than argue over semantics. And after, she nods. "Cake would be nice," she says.

Followed by, "I'll talk to people eventually," and Eimi shrugs. "On my own terms, and out in the open, or maybe at Raquelle's shop or something. Nowhere… in." The teen shrugs. "I'm trying to do things right, mostly. But." That one word hangs there a long minute. "It might take some time, and in the meantime any time I'm in the safe zone at all, I'm breaking the rules."

"I've got a… a few places to stay, so." The implication being that she won't tell them to Caspian, but she adds, "Lance and Joe know where I'm staying." —

Cake is gotten - a decent-sized slice of yellow cake with chocolate icing on top - and is placed within grabbing range of Eimi before the man retakes his seat.

“You being in the safe zone probably causes all sorts of issues for people with sticks jammed where the sun don’t shine.” He begins. If he had glasses, he’d be cleaning them while rocking back and forth in a rocking chair, the way he starts. “That said, I’m not going to report anything you tell me since I think several of the rules that apply here are a little overreaching when it comes to things like innocence and personal rights.” Caspian nods to Eimi. “You’ll talk when you’re ready - and not before. It may be tomorrow, it may be a month and a half in the future, but eventually, the story will get out there on your terms, and I hope that when it happens, I’m there by your side to stand with you. Who knows? We may even be able to swing this in your favor - in exchange for testimony, legal papers so you can come and go as you like, if that’s something you’d want to do.”

When she starts speaking of places to stay, Caspian lifts her hand to stop her from telling him much more than she’s told him already. “I’m glad. I told Lance and Joe to find you and get you somewhere safe, and to not tell me where it was. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a liar. I need to be truthful, if I was asked, that I could say I didn’t know where you were.” He grins a little. “That also means that if you ask me to keep a secret, I do, or if you need a little help, here and there, I can certainly see if I can have something fall off the back of the van, or leave the door unlocked so something can be plucked out but, you being a teleporter… I guess that doesn’t matter much. If you want me to,” emphasis on ‘you’ there. “I can talk to a couple of people I know on the council and arrange a meeting, on your terms, so we can get this cleared up. Just so you know that’s an option.”

The teenager grins a little at Caspian's description of why or for whom there is a problem. There's a pause for a moment and Eimi nods. "I dunno," she says. "But… thank you."

There's a nod. "I won't tell you, then," Eimi says, finally taking a bite of the cake. "Which won't be lying because I just won't mention it." The words are flat, unintended, quiet. And then another bite, and for all that she didn't rush through dinner it's clear that sweets are a treat that she doesn't get often and she doesn't precisely waste any time about eating it. "I get by, it's okay." She pauses, and adds, "I wouldn't mind coming over for dinner occasionally though? You cook good. Plus, that way, it's that I find you, rather than you finding me."

She grins, and shrugs her shoulders. "Just tell them I didn't steal the food," she says, pushing to her feet and stretching her arms above her head. "That's it for now, I think. One thing at a time," and the implication being that there are other things that the teenager wants to focus on first.

Now that they have an understanding, Caspian nods and starts clearing the table. The only thing left on anyone’s plate are bones - the rest is either crumbs, smears of grease, or completely absent, the food residing comfortably in their stomachs. And as she eats, Caspian moves to his bag near the door and unzips it, pulling out a few spray cans, setting them down against a bare wall that has a few signatures - not his. Joe, Brynn, and Lance all have their own tags there, along with Silvia and someone named Squeaks, and a long spanish name. “When you’re done eating, and before you go, leave your mark. Anyone that visits leaves their mark on my wall, just so I can remember.” he grins. “My goal is to have every wall in the living area covered with signatures.”

He turns to look at Eimi at the dining table. “You’re welcome here anytime. My home is your home. The only rules are if you eat, do the dishes and clean up after yourself. And let me know what you’ve eaten so I can replace it. If you need to clean clothes, the washer/dryer is in the closet by the bathroom.” He points to where the closet is, then points to the door next to it. “If you need to take a bath or shower, same deal. Soap and towels are readily available - just hang the towels up when you’re done.” He turns, still crouching, by the signature wall. “This is a safe place. The Lighthouse Kids pretty much have claimed it…” he gives a one-shouldered shrug. “So I’m opening it up to anyone I know who needs it. Who ask.” He smiles, nodding to the woman.

“I’ll tell them you didn’t steal the food from the storeroom or the red cross depot, and I’ll give the reasons why I don’t think you did - including that I’ve talked to you face-to-face.” He points to a lamp in front of the windows by the front door. “If that light is on, I’m home and you’re welcome to visit. If it’s not, I’m not home or asleep - use your judgement - and you can come and go as you wish.”

There's a bit of a grin, and Eimi moves over after Caspian speaks — teleports over because it's more than a few steps away — to pick up one of the cans of spray paint and examine it for a bit, turning it over and then putting it down in favor of a can of purple spray paint. "You've got a lot of walls," she says, "you should have more dinner parties."

The spray paint is examined a bit more, and she says, "I might not be very good at this."

Which doesn't stop her from carefully scrawling out her name with the spray paint, in blocky and uncertain capitals one letter at a time. "There." Once she's done, the spray paint is put down and she teleports back over to the main area of the room, and looks at the window. "Just don't shut the curtains," she says. "That might make it kind of hard." After all, she needs to see where she's going.

“Nobody is, starting out.” Caspian watches as the girl moves from here to there in a blink before retaking his seat, munching on his own slice of cake - just as small as Eimi’s, so there’s some for later. “Tags like yours - a throw up - are the most common, and using a spray can takes a little practice to get the paint to do what you want it to. And that’s before we even get into different types of paint, nozzles, flow….” he trails off with a snicker, wiping some icing from his lip. “It can get as complicated as you like. Eimi’s a good tag, too. Short, with one consonant and three vowels. You can do a lot with it.”

He answers the first question second, chuckling. “I do have a lot of walls…and I do plan to have more parties. My thought is to eventually have a block party - seriously - on the 4th of July. Just…celebrate the independence of the United States. See if I can’t get some fireworks or something, some real hot dogs. Make it a real memory. And the curtains will always be open enough for you to see in if you’re standing on the porch. I don’t think I need to worry much about you and the fence.”

There's a nod, and she says, "There's a lot of areas of ruins where it's one name over another and you can barely make sense of them." Eimi doesn't sit down again, but she does stand behind the chair she was sitting in and lean on it.

"That sounds like it'd be good," she says of the block party. "Though I… might come the next day, again." The skittish teenager offers Caspian a grin, and a wave, and says, "Thank you for the food." And it seems that she's at least waiting for a moment before leaving the same way she came in, rather than simply disappearing.

Caspian bobs his head in assent. “Street art is by nature transitive. I put it up expecting people to change it, otherwise it would lose its power to move people. You can’t go to a museum and scribble on the walls, but on the street, you can still find a few old tags from way back in the day that might have ended up on a museum wall in some places.” Just look at Bansky for a reference. “It’s why all of my murals start with a base coat to cover the mismash, so I can start fresh without the clutter of the past.”

Getting to his feet, Caspian comes closer and offers her a hand to shake. “Thanks for trusting me, Eimi. And thanks for coming to visit. I hope to see you again…even if it’s a day later that originally planned.” He grins. “See you around.”

The handshake is pondered for a moment before the teenager nods, extends her hand, and the handshake she gives is brief before her hands get tucked back into the pockets of her jacket. "Is there even a museum around here?" is the question, quiet and flat, but this time, she doesn't stick around to hear the response. "I should get going."

Two steps to one side so she has a clearer view of the front yard, and then Eimi waves to Caspian, and disappears, with a faint pop as the air rushes in to fill the place that she had been standing.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License