A Legal Guardian


gillian_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title A Legal Guardian
Synopsis Squeaks might be getting one soon, if Gillian has anything to say about it.
Date August 20, 2018


The hospital run went much as expected. With the situation explained, they checked the stitches, said they would forgo any blood tests at this time and gave a standard antibiotic regime for the next ten days. The paperwork took some time, but as she's a member of the Council and Citizen's Watch, Gillian bypassed certain questions. Once the payments were made, they went back to the car, the pill bottle sitting in a small paper bag between them as she started it up.

"Do you want me to drop you off at the kid's place now?" The hospital visit had taken extra time, but she's still sure, with the sun high in the sky, that the kids were worried about their youngest and newest unofficial addition.

But at the same time there's something on edge about the way she shifts, as if she's thinking of something while she pulls out of the parking lot. She'd had the same hint of anxiety earlier in the day too, at certain points. And even before, at the Library, when she'd said she wanted to talk to her about something later.

While not a model patient — there was a moment of solid eyeballing and silent promises of no cooperation at all when the unspoken idea of needles came into play — Squeaks behaved herself at least as well as could be expected. Strangers and sterile places with bright lights aren't really all that exciting, however she answered questions and didn't complain too much and hasn't spoken of it since leaving the room.

Small quick glances are angled at that little bag though, like she's sure it's going to start biting.

The question seems to almost catch her off guard, for some reason or another. It's been a confusing whirlwind couple of days, after all. But the girl looks up at Gillian and then one shoulder slowly follows suit with a shrug, as she picks up on that expression again. "I could go there later," she answers, but with it sounding more like a question. She hesitates a little before adding, "Are you okay?"

Later, she says. Gillian gives a small nod, as if thinking about that, and then just does what is easiest for the moment. She drives. The route she takes doesn't immediately seem to be going anywhere in particular— she sometimes drives around because it's relaxing, it allows her to see the neighborhoods, to look at the way things are progressing. It helps in proposals that come up at the Council meetings, helps at recognizing when people might have complaints even before they have them.

The electricity situation might be on a few people's minds, considering…

But she's not really looking around right now. "Nothing's wrong. But you know— it would be easier if you had some more official paperwork— You wouldn't have to work under the table. You could go to actual classes. And have a real library card."

They haven't been too strict about it yet, but eventually they will need to be. "And that paperwork back there would have gone much faster, too."

As the car starts moving, Squeaks looks out the side window. Car rides are something of a novelty, especially now, but there's always been something exciting about riding in a vehicle. Being able to see little glimpses of what life is like for other people, just for the sake of feeding curiosity, is something of a treat.

She still stares out the window while listening, with only her reflection staring back at her. And for a few seconds she's quiet, a thinking kind of quiet. "Yeah." As she voices agreement, she settles in her feet to face forward. The paperwork at the hospital did take a really long time. "I… don't know how? I never tried to get more official. Because… I want to stay, not get sent to somewhere else."

Back before the Safe Zone, before the war, driving casually down the streets had been even harder. One would need to worry about traffic a lot more. More people in the Safe Zone walk places, ride bikes, often because gas and working cars are too expensive for many, but Gillian has a car, a hybrid in fact. One of the many made overseas and shipped here. It's not even two years old, never even left the area around the safe zone. But it doesn't need to.

"I can handle that," she suddenly says, understanding why the girl might have difficulty. The unknown, the system. It's all scary. "I actually have some experience with it, before the war." The Lighthouse had, at one point, been official. The organization had been the official guardian, but both her and Brian could act as legal representation for the kids. She had forgone that and signed it over to Samara when she'd left after the war, and a majority of the original kids had long aged out, been adopted, or sought independence. "I could become your legal guardian. If you wanted. I had been looking into it, actually. I just needed to know if that was something you would want." Before she sought to fill out the paperwork and finalize it.

The idea of finding herself in the hands of grown-ups she didn't know has been a solid deterrent. By staying under the radar it was easiest to avoid being placed in the care of people who were like the last grown-ups who were charged with her care, even if though things were harder. She half-turns her head to look up at Gillian as she speaks. And it's not the girl's typical side-eyeing look but a searching one as the words sink in.

Her hands, with fingers curled in toward her palms, raise and press against her mouth. And she turns in almost the same motion to look at the window, or out the window, while trying to decide what that means. To have someone want to be responsible for her… It's a lot, and a little scary. But Gillian is someone she simply knows she can go to without having to ask. Or Squeaks just decided that's how it was.

"For reals," she asks very quietly, and still behind her hands even if she has turned again, just enough to peek at the librarian.

Due to driving, even if on a relatively low populated street that doesn’t have much in the way of traffic, Gillian only spares a side glance over when she realizes the girl turned toward her. It doesn’t last long. As the girl looks away, her eyes return to the road, still moving well under whatever speed limits might have been enacted. They aren’t in a hurry, after all, and easier to avoid bikes and pedestrians if one is going slow.

And it’s still faster than traffic moved before the war, really.

“For real,” she responds, with a nod and a small smile. In a way, she understands. “I was actually adopted myself. I didn’t know it, that the Childs had adopted me. Not til… much later.” When she had found out her real parents were dead, that she had a long lost twin brother, “My birth name wasn’t even Gillian, it was Stephanie. But I never really felt like a Stephanie.”

Maybe in another life.

“But if you want it, we can do that. You can live with me, but you could still stay over with the kids when you wanted to. And you could be registered, actually be able to get paid and work experience,” and not endanger Raytech if people found out he was hiring children without guardian approval as well. “You could go to school if you wanted to, there’s a teacher on the Council I could put a good word if for you with.” She’d intended to talk to Mister Smith about her either way, but this would make it easier, more official like. If she chose not to school, well, Gillian had some experience with home schooling too. All the Lighthouse Kids were. Until the war changed priorities.

"For reals." It's said again. Repeating it makes it more understandable. Squeaks' fingers uncurl so that her flat palms can press against her cheeks then slide upward so the heels of her hands rest against her eyes to hide the tears that have decided to fill them. It's overwhelming, to be presented with being wanted and the opportunities that come with. "With real school and everything." It's still a question, spoken more to herself than expecting an answer.

Pulling her hands away from her face, the girl clasps them tightly together in her lap and nods. It's a timid action that's followed by a softly spoken, nervous, "Yes."

"As much as you wish to have, yes," Gillian follows up, because now that she looks at the young girl, she realizes— of course she would like to go to school. She spent more time at the library than some of the librarians, when she wasn't getting into trouble on other islands, at least. "You won't have quite as many freedoms, cause school will take up your mornings and part of the afternoon, not to mention homework…"

For some kids, school was a bane of their existance. In a way it had been for Gillian, too. But even starting late Squeaks would have an advantage— many of the kids who lived in the Safe Zone had been without proper schooling for years thanks to the war, thanks to the lack of public schools. There's a reason the library taught reading lessons. Some kids her age could barely do that much.

But the girl said yes. That she's smiling at the road as she pulls over into a road side parking spot, stopping the car so she can look over and reach out. "Then we'll make it happen."

It's been a very long time since school was even an option that losing the freedom of having so many hours to herself doesn't seem such a big trade off. Those hours were usually already spent at the library, with a few hours here and there spent at the Raytech offices. But she can adjust, and find time for homework. Squeaks nods slowly as she thinks about that, and wonders at all the new possibilities.

The girl looks up at the librarian, still searching, hands finding their way to press against her lips again. There's hope, and maybe a little bit of worry, too, that for reals isn't really real. Things like hope and trust aren't as familiar to her as suspicion and doubt. But soon, slowly, the girl leans over to hug Gillian.

Once, many years ago it seems now, Gillian had been uncomfortable with hugs. That had been before she started working with her brother at the Lighthouse, before her life turned upside down. It had been before she found out she’d been a mother in another future, another world that she knew now would never be. Before she travelled through time to meet her real parents. Before a daughter who travelled through time, wearing the same locket that she currently wore around her neck, retrieved from the past from the mother she only knew for a few moments.

But all that made her long for moments like this, whether she realized it or not. Even with the awkwardness of hugging in a car, she leans into it, straining against the seat belt as she closes her eyes and gives the girl a strong grip. Things would be different, surely, and they would both need to figure out how this would work— but it’s a step. One she’s willing to take. “You’re going to be okay, Jac.”

At least if she has any say about it.

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