Her Friend Too


hailey_icon.gif joe_icon.gif

Scene Title Her Friend Too
Synopsis Growing up, he was always just a bundle of trouble. Now he's….
Date March 1, 2018

The Bronx Zoo

The weather can best be described as grey. The skies are overcast and spitting a light drizzle and the chill in the air sinks into bones creating a chill that just can't be shaken off while still outdoors. And yet Hailey still insisted on leaving the Safe Zone. Jim has been gone for over a week and no one's seen or heard of any monkeys around. The stress it's put on Hailey is visible in nearly every facet of her life. She's irritable, snarly, and generally unpleasant to be around… except when she's at the zoo.

This is the reason why Joe has found himself escorting her in the first place. He caught her sneaking to her spot in the fence and when she protested, the tears in her eyes caused him to relent. Together, they walked the three hours to her home in relative silence. An unsettling habit Hailey has is calling animals to her whether she's conscious of it or not, and before they reach the zoo the menagerie following them consisted of not only 2 feral dogs, but 7 cats, a murder of crows, and a bevy of pigeons.

Only the birds follow them into the zoo, the dogs and cats preferring to stay away due to the scent of wolves. As the pair walk toward the paddock Hailey calls home, she finally speaks. "Thanks for bringing me," her voice is hoarse and cracking, probably due to crying all the time. "Chores don't stop because of shot shoulders."

Joe is a big softy it's true. Also he's never been one to turn down adventure. And going out beyond the safe zone could very well be an adventure. Or it could be nothing at all and totally boring. For Hailey's sake he's hoping it's the latter, though he wouldn't mind a little of the former. Excitement is good. Spice of life and all that, or so he's heard. The LHK's have had a lot of excitement in their lives, so maybe a bit too much spice at this point. Never the less he does accompany Hailey out to the zoo. Silence is not really his thing, but he abides by it since it is Hailey's. Not that he's quiet the whole time of course, he does try to strike up conversation on occasion as they walk, while trying to ignore the whole flock of animals behind them. Unsuccessfully. Especially the dogs. He doesn't like dogs.

"You're welcome, and.. I mean they kinda do. If you can't really do them." Not that Joe wants to do chores, like at all, but he's here and he'll help her out. He doesn't bother asking if there's any sign of Jim, she wouldn't be crying so much if there was. "I wish we could find you somewhere a little bit closer. It's a heck of a trek to get out here and back." He looks around the paddock, his hands in the front pockets of his cargo pants. "So…. what all needs doing?"

The reindeer and the horse are out in the pasture together. When the two enter the paddock, all four begin a slow walk toward them. "We need to check Dayton," she says as she watches the turtle paced procession toward them. "He's hurting, so we need to make sure that he's not infected. Then we have to shovel out the old straw — " Joe needs to shovel out the old straw. " — and lay down new straw." Joe needs to lay down new straw. "It's been more than a few days, so it's probably really gross."

When the fawn approaches Joe, it kicks up its heels and jumps around him. Like the last time, it's happy to see new people and it shows. "I have a carrot in my house if you want to share it between them." She doesn't usually give them vegetables as treats, better to keep them for herself, but she's not eating the food she's squirreled away, so why not. "Make sure you don't play favorites, they know."

Joe chuckles softly as the fawn hops around him. Joe is well… Joe. He plays with it. He hops around too, skipping and jumping, then dropping to all fours and hopping around, generally making a complete fool of himself, but there's no one around to see it, and it's not like he'd actually care anyway. Joe doesn't possess the shame gene. So he hops around with the fawn a little bit before he looks over at the 'house'. "Shouldn't… oh. Yeah I guess. Makes sense." He puts it together, feed the animals the food cuz Hailey isn't using it at the moment. "Have you started a garden? You should find a spot to start a garden out here. I can help if you want. Then when you find food you can start growing it if you're gonna insist on staying out here."

He wanders off to the 'house' and fetches the carrot, then breaks it into portions and comes back out and feeds a portion to each hooved critter. Then he'll move over to help Hailey check the horse over for infections. "Should have made you wait so I could get Lance to come, make him shovel out the hay and stuff." He makes a face, but he'll do it. Just not… right this second. Soon though. Soon.

Though Dayton is still limping, the tears on his neck and flank have scabbed over and seem to be healing nicely. Hailey seems satisfied to say the very least. Instead of letting Joe feed him the bit of carrot, she takes it and feeds it to the horse as she murmurs soothing words to it. "Lance would just try to stop me," she says simply, not that he's ever been able to… but with a hurt shoulder, it's been easier for him to try to keep her inside the Safe Zone.

As for the garden…

"I need to build a new fence if I want a garden, either that or cut through to another habitat." She points to the menagerie of four that they're currently tending to and gives Joe a straight faced look. Because she's not going to accuse the animals of wrecking gardens in front of their faces. Whether they understand her or not. "Do you think I should leave the rest of the vegetables here? Or should I bring them back to Gillian's?" Their former guardian isn't exactly hurting for food, not yet at least.

"Well yeah he would. But if it was both of us coming out here he'd join us. He'd grumble about it the whole way, but he'd come with. To make sure you're safe. Or to keep me from getting lost on my own cuz he knows I'd come out here by myself if he didn't let you come." Joe flashes Hailey a broad grin as he feeds the santa deer the carrot. "On Comet on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen." He murmurs in sing song to the reindeer.

"I mean… I dunno Hails. If you leave them for these guys then you might as well just feed them to them now, cuz they're gonna snarf them all post haste. But they seem to be doing fine off what they have so.. up to you there. And no Aunt Gillian isn't hurting for food yet, but I think that's going to get a lot tighter with these raids on the food stores going on. I want to go and try to scout them out, see who's stealing stuff, but Lance won't come with me. So I'm gonna have to do it solo. I can't sit by while people starve. But uhhh yeah. I mean… food won't be unwelcome I would imagine. So… uhhh… dunno?" He adopts a pretty big grin. No help is the Joe. No help at all. "And we can make sure you have food when you come back out here to stay."


"I wasn't just going to leave the cupboards open or anything," Hailey grumbles as she pets the horse's velvety nose. "I need to come out here every day anyway." She's been trying at least, unfortunately it's been turning into once every few days. Not acceptable in the empath's world. The fawn nudges up against her, looking for a little attention too, now that it's greeted Joe, he's old news.

"Once Dayton is better, I can just ride him here, alone." That last word is stressed, not because she hates Joe's company, she just prefers solitude. Always has. "I mean, you're okay to hang out with every once in a while, but you're no Jim. Even if you're kind of an idiot like he is." For the first time since they departed the Safe Zone, Hailey cracks a grin and winks at him.

"There's no way you can make it out here every day Hailey. Your shoulder isn't going to heal if you keep up that way. It's going to scar, and might mess you up for the rest of your life if the scarring is bad enough internally or externally. It could restrict movement and motion. Depending on how bad the damage is it could even hamper motor control of the rest of the arm, like your hand. You really need to let it heal." Joe sticks his tongue out at Hailey when she emphasizes ALONE like that. "Or not. Because you won't be able to do this work for a little while yet without risking the damage I was just talking about."

Joe sighs and walks closer to Hailey. "I know you prefer to be alone Hailey. But we are here for you when you need us. And right now you need us. If you want to heal well, and want your animals to survive you need to stop shutting us out. At least until you're healed. We're all worried about you, and whether you asked for it or not we are family dangit." Then he gets called an idiot and Joe gasps, holding a hand up to his chest. He staggers backwards as if he himself has been shot, then falls over backwards, taking a tumble, flopping about and finally coming to a rest. "Here lies Joe. Dead cuz Hailey called him an idiot."

"Whoah whoah! Joe don't just fall down anywhere around here!"

Hailey's warning is just a little too late, since he's already down. Luckily though, Joe narrowly missed a little pile of road apples left by the horse. "HAH!" Hailey nearly doubles over she starts laughing so hard, and when she simmers down a little, the laughs are interjected with "ow.. ow.. ow…" So out come the pills from her pocket. She fumbles with the lid and finally opens it to pop one in her mouth. Without water to wash it down, she just crunches it and swallows the bitter little pill.

That's a way to make a person feel better.

Also.. she doesn't have a problem, she can quit anytime. She just doesn't want to because she was shot.

It's with a long sigh that the empath tucks the pill bottle back into her pocket and then meanders over to where Joe is lying. She offers him her good hand. "I'm strong Joe, stronger than you guys give me credit for. I've lived here for years all alone. Ever since I left you guys and Brian. Getting shot… yeah it was bad luck but I wasn't paying as much attention as I should have. I'll be more careful now."

Joe blinks as he peers at the little pile of… horse dung. "Uhhh the Joe would like to not be dead anymore ma'am if it pleases the court, cuz he sooo doesn't wanna forget about the pile to his left and roll into it. So we're gonna go with miraculous resurrection!" He rolls forwards, getting his feet beneath him and pushes up to his feet while making faux holy sounds like golden light is shining down bringing him back to life. "Good, resurrection achieved. No horse turd decoration for the clothings." He turns and looks over at the horse and makes some faces at it.

"I tried to come after you you know. Brian caught me and brought me back. Wouldn't let me go. I know that humans aren't your favorite animals, but with the safe zone being much more heavily reoccupied, these companies all moving in to help rebuild things are going to get busier and busier. For years there haven't been many people here. But now there's a steady flow of people coming back to New York. I'd ask why but… here we all are, back here so…" Joe's shoulders lift in a half shrug. "I'm not saying you're not strong Hailey. No one survives what we have without being strong, or becoming strong in the process. You just don't. So I know you're strong. If nothing else because of everything you've been through. But it's not weak to have friends. And it's not weak to have family. And it's not weak to have people that care about you." He pauses then, looking around. "Now, come tell me what I have to do here. I've never taken care of animals."

“I saw too much, Joe,” Hailey says quietly as she leads him into her odd little living area. Pinning the leather flap door up, she allows the cool breeze to waft through and air out the stale smell. The little cooking fire has long since died out, so Hailey manages what she can by way of chores and begins to scoop out the ashes. “I won’t even touch a gun anymore.” It’s said as though Joe hasn’t noticed or didn’t know at all. He probably did on their way out here the first time, Hailey has never been one to make excuses or deals when she’s getting something she wants.

“I’m not moving to the Safe Zone, Joe,” she insists with a strict tone. “It’s bad enough that I got registered before, I’m not doing it again.” It’s not exactly a secret how she feels about the process at all. Joe has likely heard her arguing vehemently with Lance, perhaps been involved in some of them himself, against the idea of it. “The Safe Zone and its promises are just another way for the government to keep track of us. You get on the list and then you’re done. You might as well get someone to sign your death certificate.” Because, to Hailey, it’s a conspiracy.

“Didn’t you just get finished telling me that you’re stronger than we think? We all saw too much Hailey. All of us. That’s why Lance and Brynn just want to live normal lives now. Me? Not so much. I can’t just ignore people in need. It all expresses differently. But we’ve all seen too much.” He offers her a sad sort of smile. “Guns don’t make me feel safer. Family does. Guns are just insurance against assholes that want to hurt my family. And that includes you.” Joe offers her a quick grin, then blinks a time or two. “I didn’t say anything about moving to the safe zone. I know you won’t. I just said I wish we could find a place for you closer to it. So that it didn’t take an entire day to come out and check on you. Once we start school I mean… we won’t be able to get out here most days. We’ll have too much to do with school.

“I passed my entrance exams, but Lance and Brynn didn’t. So I’m going to help them study up so they can get in too. Have… you ever thought about doing something with animals? Like becoming a vet? Or something? Something that would let you use your abilities, you could have a place outside of town… stuff? I dunno Hailey. I’m just trying to think of the future for all of us. I want you to be happy too.” Joe tips his head to the talk of registration. “I know how you feel Hailey. And I get it. I do. We all lived through it all. But I can’t live disconnected from the world. Neither can Lance. That’s why we registered.” His shoulders lift in a half shrug. He’s walking around her little home though, straightening things up as much as he can while he’s there. “So reindeer hay? Where do I put the nasty stuff? Where is the clean stuff?”

Hailey leads Joe to a shed, behind which is a large pile of manure filled straw. “Here’s where the straw goes,” she says as she dumps the small bucket of ashes onto it. “Clean straw is in the other shed with the shovel. There’s probably only one or two bales left, so just use one and spread it a little thin.” Hopefully it’s enough to last until the ground dries. If she runs out completely, she’ll likely have to go foraging for sticks and dead vines.

“Physically,” she says in answer to the strength question. Emotionally, she’s more fragile due to the nature of her ability. “Even with a hurt shoulder I could probably still beat the crap out of any of you pansies.” She smiles with the insult, as though she’s expecting one of those smartass retorts Joe is so famous for. “I mean seriously Joe, look at your little girl hands. You don’t even have a callous.” And that’s a side effect of his ability, she knows it. “Soft little girl hands.” While she has hardened and calloused ‘man hands’.

“Yeah somehow I doubt that. I mean..” He raises a brow at her, a wide smirk pulling against the corner of his mouth. He’s indestructible after all, or so he likes to claim. It’s not too far from the truth all things considered though. He winks at Hailey though and then stares at the pile of straw. “So…. what do you do with the dirty straw once it piles up too much cuz ew?” He asks, lofting a brow at her with that smirk still in place. “Soft little…. You brat.” He Sticks his tongue out at her, apparently not coming up with some witty smart ass comment this time. There’s a warm chuckle that leaves the kid though and he will step over and give her a light hug if she doesn’t try to avoid it. He’s careful not to make it a tight hug cuz… her shoulder.

“This is gross. Where do you even get hay out here? I mean I guess grass has grown high but do you like harvest it? With what? Where do you even learn to make hay? Or bail it? Can’t you like litterbox train the animals? Like… designate a popping area then just… like… dig it up. With a hoe, like you’re gardening. Oh there you go. Designate a pooping area, and once they’ve thoroughly used it, mark that off for a garden. Then designate a new pooping area and just collect it for fertilizer. Yeah?” He asks, glancing over at Hailey as he grabs the shovel and comes out with it and starts trying to clear the dirty straw, which is a comedy show in and of itself.

“I sell it to people who want fertilizer for their gardens,” Hailey says simply, returning the hug only slightly. She deserves this punishment at least, so she’s gracious about it. No man likes to be told he has soft little girly hands. “Unlike cats and dogs, it’s good for gardens… so people buy it, straw and all.” It’s a bit of a moneymaker in the spring and summer… so the pile just grows until then.

As for designating an area, she sweeps her hand over the pasture, “There’s your designated area. Horses and reindeer aren’t exactly litter trainable, not like cats and rabbits… I mean even dogs aren’t to a great degree, they just go wherever.” She opens first shed and she’s right, her supply of straw is down a lot. “Hay just grows, man… you cut it when it gets tall and just let it dry up. Straw is a different kind of grass, usually a taller and thicker variety.” She knows a lot about the food her animals like to eat and what they like to sleep on. Mostly due to trial and error over the years.

“Oh. Well that’s totally a good idea then. Good thinking Hailey. Maybe some of that survival training did finally manage to drill it’s way in.” He winks at her, teasing her back now. He feels the slight return on the hug, and he holds it extra just to punish her a little longer. “It’d be quicker if you’d hug me back.” He comments to her with a grin, then steps back, still smiling. “Well that’s good, knowing you have some income there. Cuz we worry.” He looks at the supply of hay and huhs softly. “Is there some we could go harvest now? I mean I know it’s cold but… is there? You’re reeeeally low. And I have no clue where we could buy hay or straw or whatever it is you call it. Dead dried plant matter.”

Joe gets to work though, slowly working his way through the whole process. “I think you’re stronger than /you/ think though.” He comments over to Hailey as he works. “I mean you survived everything. It wasn’t until after that you decided you couldn’t handle it. That was a conscious decision on your part. Which suggests a decision making process. Which means you were in a better head space than even you thought you were.” He starts to hum as he works, never able to stay quiet. He empties out the old nasty straw before he goes to fetch the fresh clean stuff and starts to spread it out thinly. “But there are more and more people coming in. We see it in the safe zone. The effects will spread. More people will be coming out here now that there are more people in the safe zone. More criminals, more loner types. This Pure Earth nonsense. There’s going to be greater and greater dangers. You’ll need to be more alert than you have had to be in awhile.”


She doesn’t argue, she knows that it’s getting more dangerous. Being shot was kind of a wakeup call and even though Hailey won’t admit it to anyone, if it wasn’t for the animals here (Dayton, the reindeer, and the wolves), she would consider moving into safety. So Joe is just given a silent nod of agreement and she begins to work as well as she can with one hand.

After the chores have been finished, the little dwelling cleaned and secured, the pair make their way back to the Safe Zone. The way back is more jovial and there’s a bit more conversation, and Joe might feel as though Hailey regards him a bit differently, which she does. He’s made himself more than her little brother’s friend, he’s now her friend too.

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