Lighthouse Saves The World


lance_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Lighthouse Saves the World
Synopsis When lessons on gun safety leads to wondering where you're from, somehow it all comes back to saving the world.
Date June 17, 2018

Lance's Apartment

There were plenty of other plans in mind when Squeaks got up. There were places to go, things to find. Some preparing still had to be done before going back into the sewers. And she wanted to check the library for some books. Lots of plans, and a busy day for someone who literally has no obligations. But when she was stopped by Lance to work on some stuff?

Suddenly she has all the time in the world.

Tagging along with the older teens has fast become a much better thing than being alone, and Squeaks is usually really quick to drop whatever she’s doing when she’s asked to join in one project or another. Even when the project today turned out to be learning things. She likes doing that too. But she was a little surprised when that learning had to do with the guns.

“But… What if it shoots someone?” She doesn’t want it to shoot someone. That it could have before definitely kept Squeaks from searching for any others that might be hidden around the apartment.

It’s a good thing, too, because there are a lot of guns hidden around the apartment.

“That’s exactly why you need to learn about guns,” Lance says firmly as he sets a Glock 17 down on the table, “You need to know how not to shoot someone. In an emergency if you need to grab one - like with the rats - you’ve gotta know the basics, at least. Otherwise you might shoot one of us, or yourself.”

A smile’s flashed, “And I do not want you getting shot.”

“I don’t want to be shot either.” Her arms fold against her chest, and the look she gives the firearm on the table is one of classic Squeaks suspicion. It’s the same look she’s given countless grown-ups and now it’s directed at an inanimate object. “We don’t shoot our family.” The words are directed at the gun — because reasoning with it totally works, right? — but she shoots a quick side-eye at Lance as soon as she’s said it, because she’s not sure if fitting herself into that niche of family is really okay.

It’s a quick look, barely a blink, and she’s right back to staring at the gun again. Her arms drop to her sides again and Squeaks nods like she’s reached an agreement of some kind. She can do this, and nothing bad will happen. After all. Everyone else who lives here has learned how to use guns the right way. She can too. “What’s first?”

“Exactly,” Lance replies without missing a beat, easily including her in that umbrella of family as if it wasn’t even a thing to debate. He doesn’t touch the gun, or suggest she does, at least yet; instead leaning on the table with one arm and looking at her seriously. “So. Basic safety. First one…”

He nods to the gun, “Always assume it’s loaded. Always. Even if you just unloaded it yourself, act as if there’s a bullet in the gun that can kill someone. Because if you don’t, you might fall into some bad habits and make a mistake. So— all guns are loaded, period.”

Her eyes tick toward Lance when he moves, but it’s the serious look and words that draw Squeaks’ focus off the firearm and to him. “All guns are loaded,” she echoes, pitched quietly and not conversationally. She lets those words simmer for a minute while she looks at the gun again. That’s not a hard one to remember at all, and she doesn’t have questions about it because it makes sense. So with a quick bouncing nod of her head, she looks at Lance again.

“Right,” Lance nods firmly, “Next, never, ever point a gun at anything you’re not willing to kill or destroy. If you’re going to point a gun at someone… only do it if you’re willing to pull the trigger. And speaking of the trigger— “ He picks up the gun, careful not to point it at anything but the wall, his finger horizontal near the trigger guard, “— never put your finger on it unless you’ve picked a target and you’re ready to shoot. You could twitch or jump and fire, otherwise, and you don’t want to do that until you’re ready.” The gun’s set down, and he points at the wall, “Last, always be aware of what’s behind what you’re shooting at. If you miss, you’ll hit it. Or maybe if the bullet goes through what you’re shooting at.”

By her expression, that all seems to make sense. Except for that last one, which has Squeaks looking a little confused while she works over it. “What if you don’t know what’s behind,” she asks, turning to look in the direction of the front door. There’s other apartments out there, which could be beyond a bad guy. “But…” Her nose wrinkles and she follows an invisible line, connected to that question, back to the gun on the table. “That’s why you don’t touch the trigger.” It’s a question and a statement, and a look bounces up to Lance for confirmation. “But you still can’t always know what’s behind?”

“That’s exactly why,” Lance says with approval, glancing to the door as she does… and then back to her, a smile tugging up at the corner of his lips. “Good. You’re thinking right— and yeah, you can’t always know what’s behind. That’s why it’s important to never shoot unless you’re absolutely sure, or absolutely desperate.” He motions with a hand towards the door, noting, “A gun like this, the bullet probably won’t go through a wall, but you don’t want to take the chance of it going through a wall or door and hurting or killing one of our neighbors. If someone was coming through the door, I’d try and shoot at a downward angle— “ He indicates with his hand, “Maybe go for the thigh or knee, so the bullet goes into the floor instead. It’s less likely to hurt someone on the other side, since the floor’s thicker and there’s more to hit. Still. I’d rather not shoot indoors at all if I can help it, because there’s people here, you know?”

His hands spread a bit, “Shooting is dangerous, and you don’t want to do it. But sometimes you have to.”

“That’s why, with the rats.” It was an act of desperation in her mind. That swarm was scary, and Squeaks acted without thinking it all the way through. Even though it didn’t work she had to try something. And… “There wasn’t anything behind but more rats and already dead people either.” At least, there wasn’t anything that they could see, that she remembers seeing, that could have been hurt. And it’s said like a thought, piecing together her understanding.

“Yeah. Sometimes you have to, and… sometimes you’ll have to risk what’s behind whoever it is. The rats there wasn’t anyone behind, so they would’ve been fine to shoot at. I mean, I didn’t have that many bullets— “ Teasing affably, Lance is, “— but it wasn’t a bad idea.”

His brows go up, “Do you know why it didn’t fire, though?”

She couldn’t say how many bullets might have been in the gun, but maybe it would have scared them away. There’s really no way to know what would have happened. Squeaks grins a little, unsure about the tease even though she finds it a little funny. She’s just not totally sure it’s a joke or serious, since guns are definitely serious. Then she shakes her head to answer. “It just didn’t work. I don’t know why.”

The gun’s turned so she can see it (barrel pointed away from both of them) and Lance points out a small switch on the side. “This is the safety,” he explains, “When it’s in that position, the gun won’t fire. In this position— “ He clicks it to one side, “— it can. It’s another precaution to make sure it doesn’t get fired off accidentally.” The safety’s switched back on, “So always keep this on unless you’re getting ready to use it.”

He offers over a wry smile, “Most of learning about how to use a gun is pretty much how not to use it.”

Leaning in a little, Squeaks’ head tilts so she can get a good look at the switch. Her eyes squint a tiny bit, and she makes a face. That little thing is what kept the gun from working? Rude. She huffs quietly and settles back to stare at the firearm for a bit longer.

“There’s not very much to it,” Squeaks says as she looks up at Lance. “Follow those rules and don’t be dumb with it. Right?”

“Yep,” Lance admits, “You’d be surprised how many people are dumb as shit and don’t get those simple rules, though.” He grins, leaning back, “We’ll have to go out somewhere safe to shoot - probably up in the ruins - and you can get some practice hitting targets sometime. For now, that’s the important stuff.”

“Lots of people.” It’s a guess, but she sounds pretty sure that she’s right when she says it. Squeaks reaches a finger toward the gun, but she doesn’t touch it. She stops a good hand-width away from it, her hand hovers for a second then falls away. “Do I get to carry one now? When we go back to the Underneath?” She tilts her head to look at Lance, unsure if she should even be asking, but deciding it’s better to ask.

“Not until we’ve gotten out and you’ve shot it a few times,” says Lance with a shake of his head, offering her a wry smile, “We’ll get you trained up and then you can use one then.” Leaning back in his chair, the wood creaks a bit, “None of us are allowed to be defenseless.” She is included in the us, of course.

“Okay.” The answer is accepted easily. Squeaks didn’t really expected different, especially since she really doesn’t know how to use a gun. And besides, if it really came down to her needing to shoot something, one of the others will probably have one. With her arms folding against the table’s edge, Squeaks leans forward and rests her chin on them.

“The grown-up who taught you about guns,” Squeaks says after a minute. Her eyes slide over to look at Lance. “He liked to do stuff that? Liked to show you things, do things with you?”

“Brian?” Lance’s chin dips in a nod, head tilting back then to look at the ceiling, “Yeah. He spent a lot of time with us, and— I mean, it was easy for him, he was a duplicator. He could always just make another him for that.”

He admits, “He liked teaching us, helping us. M— Gillian didn’t approve, though, of the guns.” He grimaces, “Or the fighting, or any of that.”

“Brian sounds different from most grown-ups I know, wanting to teach and be around kids. And I like Aunt Gillian.” Squeaks stretches an arm out and picks at a spot on the table. And like always, there’s a difference to when she calls her aunt. Like it’s part of her name instead of a special title. “Neither of them are like the grown-ups I used to know either. None of them liked kids.”

Dragging her arm back, Squeaks props her head up on her hand. “What’s next in guns stuff?”

“You got us, now,” says Lance with a smile, watching her for a moment and then glancing to the gun, “Well, nothing until we can get out to the ruins and get some shooting practice in. I just wanted to go over the safety basics before we did that.”

He rocks forward to rest on folded arms, “Can’t have our newest sister not knowing how not to shoot herself, right?”

“Yeah,” Squeaks agrees quietly, thinking. Even though it’s still a little strange to her, she does have people now. Which is a good thing, especially since she didn’t think she’d like having people to call family, or that she even wanted one. And she can’t help but look shyly pleased when she’s called sister. “No shooting me.” She points a finger at the gun, indicating who she’s referring to, and that she means it.

She swings a foot under her chair, content to sit with her thoughts. At least for a minute, because when she does sit and think she comes up with questions. So after chewing on the idea, and a couple of breaths that failed to start the question, she asks. “Did you find anything about becoming legal?” She’s been thinking about that a lot since it was first talked about. “We have lots we’re doing already, but I just wondered.”

At the admonishment of the gun, Lance can’t help but grin at her in amusement. Then he’s leaning back with a creak of the chair, admitting, “Not… yet. I’ve been meaning to talk to maybe Agent Lin or— mmmmmaybe Robyn? Or Gillian, I guess.” He wrinkles his nose, “Sorry, the whole— slice rats, and the tape…”

“That tape was weird,” Squeaks states in her matter-of-fact way. “It had a lot of weird that went with it also. And slice rats, or whatever weird monsters they are.” And they’re going back to the Underneath. There’s a lot on their collective plates. “I just wondered is all…” She trails off a little and hitches her shoulders. “I thought about maybe looking for myself in the library. To see if there’s more about me, like from before the fighting.”

“Oh.” Lance hadn’t even thought of that. “Not the library, no, but…” He rocks the chair forward, legs clacking to the floor as he folds both arms on the table, looking thoughtful, “We could look into it if you want. See if you have surviving family, find out where you came from? If that’s what you want?”

“I don’t know.” Squeaks, usually decisive and direct in what she wants or doesn’t, actually sounds unsure suddenly. Maybe she was sort of hoping to find out it wouldn’t be possible or it wasn’t necessary. But she asked, so… “I don’t know anything about my real parents. Just what Dad and Carolyn told me. But maybe. Like where I came from before I was taken by them.”

“I can talk to some people,” says Lance, almost reluctantly, “See what I can find out for you, if you want. I’ll need like— everything you remember? Maybe fingerprints or something, I’m not sure.” Fingers drum against the table’s edge, “I’ll talk to some people.” Still, he seems a little uneasy about the idea.

She might miss a lot of social cues, but some are easy to recognize. Reluctance is definitely one that anyone can guess, even Squeaks. “You… No, you don’t need to.” She shakes her head, putting the idea out completely. “If… I should do it, if I decide I really want to.” Because, like most kids who know they were adopted, that kind of information is a double-edged sword. “I’ll do it. You don’t need to.”

“Oh, no, it’s— “ Lance wrinkles up his nose at the confusion, “It’s not that I don’t want to, Squeaks, it’s…” He rubs a hand over the side of his neck, “I mean. If you find your family still alive and in the Zone, you’d be going to live with them, right? ‘Cause they’re your family, and all…” Reluctance not to put the work in, just a fear of losing her.

Lifting her head from her hand, Squeaks reaches toward Lance and lightly pokes him in the shoulder. “No, I wouldn’t go live with them. I don’t know them.” She drops her hand and scoots off her chair so she can try one of those hugs instead. “And they’re not my family,” she states firmly. There’s no argument in that, she’s decided she might want to know where she’s from but whoever might be related is not family. She gives him a solid hug, arms tight around his shoulders. “You’re my family.”

There’s a flicker of surprise in Lance’s expression as she moves over to initiate the embrace, and then he returns that hug fiercely— leaning back after a moment with a grin. “You’re damn right you are,” he agrees, ruffling her hair with a hand, “Okay. We can look for ‘em, find out about your blood-family and all.”

The hair mussing makes her grin a little, and she looks rightly pleased with things. Mostly. “No rush though,” Squeaks asks as she drops onto her chair again. Obviously she wants to know something, but she isn’t sure how much or what she wants to know. “Maybe just this much.” This much is defined by her finger and thumb being held a fraction of an inch apart and just high enough to peek through. “Then I can decide if we find out more.”

“Okay.” Lance grins back to her, shifting to settle more fully in his chair once more, “We’ll find out a little bit, we’ll look into a bunch of stuff, we’ll defeat the swarm of slice rats, save the world, maybe get some dinner at some point.”

He reaches over to take the gun off the table, “Lighthouse saves the world. I like the sound of it.”

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