A Present for Everyone


brynn_icon.gif geneva_icon.gif hailey_icon.gif lance_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif weasel_icon.gif

Scene Title A Present for Everyone
Synopsis The Lighthouse gang joins Weasel on a shopping spree.
Date November 29, 2018

Red Hook Market

The Red Hook Market resides within the gutted shell of Textile Factory 17, a turn-of-the-century mill building that once served as the headquarters of New York's FRONTLINE civil defense organization. Miraculously, the building survived the civil war largely unscathed except for the total collateral loss of its electronics to the EMP that ravaged Manhattan. When the building was reclaimed by Gilbert Tucker in late 2015, it was remodeled with the intention of turning it into a central community hub for the entirety of the Safe Zone. Today, the multiple above-ground buildings serve as meeting halls, council chambers, offices, and storage rooms for the Safe Zone Cooperative. The basement levels, a labyrinthine maze of brick corridors, vaulted storage spaces, and small nooks, have become the sprawling home of the Red Hook Market, an open-air bazaar with free admittance to every Safe Zone resident. The market features pop-up vendor stalls, a single bar called the Red Hook Tavern, and food vendor stalls. Be sure to visit Eleanor, who has the best coffee in the safe zone at the corner in the main square.

The bunny murder business has been making a killing lately, the recent holiday having driven rabbit sales to the point where Clara Winters has had difficulty keeping up with demand. After enlisting the aid of a few creatures scattered about Park Slope, the young woman is rather flush with cash — add to that a few successful pickpockets, and Weasel has some cash to burn through.

As a result, she has put out an open invitation to those residing within Lance’s apartment to join her in a bit of holiday spending at Red Hook. The young woman herself is dressed…well, how she always dresses, decked out in loose-fitting jeans and a t-shirt, complete with her denim hooded jacket.

No shopping trip is complete without her friends, of course — the hood of Weasel’s jacket is currently host to a rather lazy skunk, who is using the fabric as a makeshift hammock, his chin resting lazily on the girl’s shoulder along with one clawed paw. Her other companion, the tiny weasel, is nowhere to be found — probably hiding in a pocket, or perhaps curled up under the skunk.

…Everyone has their quirks, don't they. For the most part, Geneva Stevenson tries her best to ignore those belonging to other humans, because whether in possession of extra SLC-E bits or not, other humans generally suck. There is some exception Geneva is willing to make for the other Lighthouse crew, though, even that weird-ass cute animal-hunter Clara.

A larger-than-usual, cross-eyed Burmese cat drops down suddenly from out of the shadows of the nearest stall and slinks right across Clara's path, threatening to trip her. It balks right in front of Clara, looks up at the ceiling(?), and yowls by way of greeting. As if on cue, this heralds the appearance of Geneva herself, in all her hip, rundown glory: brown denim jacket, ripped jeans, burgundy lipstick, choker, bright hair twisted into a large, tousled bun at the top of her head. She doesn't exactly "reside" at Lance's, but then: formalities have never stopped Geneva from inviting herself along for rides.

"Hey, weirdo." This is Geneva's way of casually greeting Clara with a barely perceptible nod, even as she bends down to gently scoop up the unnerved feline into her arms without looking at it. Once upon a time, Geneva probably meant it as an insult. Nowadays, it's simply an affable meant moniker for a face she has known for many years. "What's up? Ready to get this show on the road, or we waiting for more?" The cat held securely in her arms is making googly eyes at the skunk in Weasel’s hood in particular.

The girl’s brows raise slightly at the cat — Pepe Le Pew isn’t happy about the creature, it seems, raising up a little in his hood-hammock, his tail lifting up as he stomps his little claws on Clara’s shoulder. The girl who follows shortly after prompts her brows to raise even more, but only briefly — then, a smile cracks through, and the skunk calms down as his ‘mom’ promptly hugs Geneva.

“Genie, I’m glad you could make it!” Pepe is glowering at the cat as Weasel pulls away, a large grin on her face. “I invited everyone along — Lance should be coming, at least. Maybe Hailey and Brynn and Joe and the new girl, Squeaks, if they all get the invite. If not, well…they don’t get to pick out their gifts.”

And if there is one thing that Weasel really isn’t all that good at, it’s picking out thoughtful gifts.

Geneva returns the gesture as much as she can while cradling a fluffy, frightened cat under her arm, holding it well away from Pepe: cute as the little fellow is, getting sprayed by skunk is not high on Gene’s list of priorities today. As she pulls away from the hug, she sets the cat back down onto the ground, flattening its ears in a few quick, affectionate pets and giving it a light smack on the rump as if to try and shoo it off. The cat stands unmoving, doing a cross-eyed stare at apparently absolutely nothing. Gene rubs at one of her eyes and laughs.

“Hope your guys don’t mind Idiot too much. Think he was actually dropped on his head at one point, no idea how he survives. But yeah, wouldn’t have missed out on something like this, it sounds fun. Are we planning on, uh… acquiring gifts ‘our’ way?” As opposed to actually paying for them with money, of course. Because that is clearly the plebian method of obtaining items.

Christmas is certainly not her favorite among holidays, but getting gifts for others isn't the worst thing ever, she supposes. Especially when they can be gotten for free.

A smirk is cast down to the cat — their minds are way too foreign to Weasel, whose specialty animals are about as far from cats as one can get. “Pepe is okay, so long as Idiot doesn’t hiss at him. He hates hissers. They make him really mad.” The girl turns her brown-eyed gaze back to Geneva.

“I’m trying to be legit when Lance is around. He’s trying to join the government or something like that, so I want to be nice. Y’know?” She glances about as if looking for their ninja-like sibling, then leans a bit closer to Geneva. “But if the opportunity presents itself…you know.” She grins widely, before leaning back, one hand reaching up to scratch Pepe atop the head.

Poor Idiot is still just sitting there, completely unaware of what’s going on. Geneva cracks a grin as she looks at him. “Man, I wish I could do what you do with animals and tell him that. We’ll just gotta hope, I guess. But usually he stays out of the way. Don’t you, you poor lil Idjit gootchy woo thaaas wight.” The last sentence devolves into baby-talk as she reaches down to give the Burmese one more scritch between his ears. It’s remarkable how different of a person Gene is around her cats. Day-and-night.

Back at Clara: “And heh, alright, if you insist. As it happens I do happen to have a little ~spending money~ on me. …Not that we have to tell Lance where these gifts are coming from, anyway.” Probably best not to ask where Geneva got this so-called spending money from, because money is something the drifter normally doesn’t have in spades. “ She smirks, looking in the direction of the nearest cluster of stalls.

“After you, Miss Weasel.”

“Cats are like aliens to me. Entirely different suborder of Canivora.” Weasel doesn’t know much about science, but she was always fascinated by the actual science behind how her ability works. “I bet there’s a cat teep somewhere in the city that could tell him for you, though.” She grins over to her adoptive sibling.

“I’ve been kind of honest,” she adds, giggling. “Ron is young and loves killing rabbits. He gets to work out his need for murder, I get to sell the rabbits. Lots of people wanted them for Thanksgiving, too, so I made a lot of money selling the meat, and the pelts fetch a good price too.” She grins. “Been working on preserving some feet, too, see if I can sell them too.”

At least she doesn’t seem to mind the blood and gore that comes along with such a business venture.

“Lance said I should start a Pest Control business. Go around getting Raccoons out of people’s attics, find them better homes so they don’t have to share a roof with people that would rather see them dead.” She grins. “If I find myself a good mink, I could probably get rid of rats, too.”

She glances toward the stalls, then, idly making her way toward one that has art supplies. “Think I’ll get Brynn some paper or something. She likes that.”

“Hey, speaking of cat teeps and all of that.” Instead of returning Clara’s grin, the expression on Geneva’s face clouds over unexpectedly. “Yeah, about that. I was going to ask you, see if you had some kind of heads up. A lot of the ferals I normally see… well, I haven’t lately. I mean, yeah they ain’t housepets, so I don’t exactly keep close tabs on them. But they haven’t been at any of their usual spots around the city. Shit’s weird.” She reaches into her pocket, fishing around for a moment before her fingers close on what she’s looking for- a dirtied, well-used packet of cigarettes.

“Figured you’d know, or maybe your rodent friends. They tell you anything? Like, maybe someone’s started their version of own pest control for cats or something.” Yes, Clara’s specialty animals aren’t rodents, not that Gene really cares about the distinction at the moment. (Or ever.) As she speaks, she sidles alongside Weasel to the art supply stall, casting a piercing look over all its wares without really paying any of it much attention.

The girl wrinkles her nose. “Rodents aren’t my friends. They’re actual pests.” She’s always hated when people compare her specialty supergroup to rodents. “But it might have something to do with the slice rats that Lance and the others found down in the sewers.” Clara frowns at the pack of cigarettes, but doesn’t say anything — she always hated the smell, but she can’t fault someone their vices.

“They’re like electricity mimics or something like that. Maybe the cats were trying to eat their usual rats and got hold of the wrong rat. They might be dead.” She says it so matter-of-factly. Weasel pulls out a few canvasses of varying sizes from a stack, bringing them to the cashier and paying for them. She doesn’t know if Brynn likes to use them, but they seem like something the deaf girl would like, and they aren’t too expensive.

“I hear that people got eaten by them. So if the cats aren’t dead, they’re hiding from those nasty fuckers.” Judging by the tone of her voice, Weasel is more than happy to keep away from that whole situation — she’s not going to put her animals in danger, at least.

"Eh, sorry. They're all the same to me.” Geneva shrugs, holding up the end of her thumb - which begins to glow red-hot - up close to the cigarette. As soon as her thumb touches the end of the paper, the cigarette instantly ignites. She takes an even, drawn-out puff, careful to turn her head away as she exhales so none of it gets on or near any of the animals.

“Shit— slice rats? That eat people? Fuck, Weasel, if I didn’t know you better I’d think you were fucking with me.” So many questions to be had. Also, concern for the cats, lightly reflected in Gene’s dark gaze. “I’ve never heard of anything like that before. I mean, there’s peeps like you who talk to animals, but the animals themselves ain’t special, you know? Where the hell would things like that come from?”

As they’re talking, Idiot clumsily tries to leap onto a countertop stacked with bundled pens, succeeding in scattering about half of them all over the stall and surrounding floor. The nearest employee swears, and as the mess becomes the centre of attention, Gene takes advantage of the chaos to casually slide a set of nice-looking paintbrushes underneath her jacket. Her own little contribution for Brynn.

“I mean, they grew a human ear on a rat’s back once, or something like that. And they test human drugs on rats. Maybe someone was doing experiments on how to turn people slice or something, and they were doing their tests on those rats, and then they escaped to reign terror on the New York Safe Zone’s sewers.” Weasel isn’t normally so verbose, but it’s fun to speculate. “Betcha there’s a drug out there that turns normies slice.”

She wrinkles her nose again at the cigarette, and rather smoothly ignores the sleight of hand trick that Genie just pulled, instead moving on to seek out another booth while the shop keeper deals with the mess caused by the dumb cat. Really, Genie is a genius with that stupid animal. “By the way, I hear Joe likes Peanut Butter. I found someone selling a bulk jar of peanut butter. I’m totally getting it for him.”

"Ugh. I thought that slice-experiment shit ended when the Company got taken down. Don’t tell me there are still sick fucks out there who might be doing that stuff? That’s the last thing I needed to hear.” As a fellow trusted Lighthouse Kid(™) her age, Clara would know that Geneva’s has a particular hang-up about sick-fucks-who-do-that-kind-of-stuff… as Gene’s own sister, Annette, had vanished into the hands of Company experimenters years back.

Rather than looking happy to speculate along with Weasel, Geneva looks genuinely a little pissed off now. Meanwhile, Idiot has just trashed the lower half of a banana stand by walking headfirst into it. Again, without directly looking, she reaches down to grab the cross-eyed cat by the scruff of the collar and reel him in. “Are these rats coming from some particular place, do you know? Is there like, a man-eating rat base?” As they converse, the blonde keeps moving through the corners of the market in time with Weasel with Idiot in tow, nodding vaguely at the mention of Joe. Peanut butter, check.

“So long as there’s them and us, there’s going to be sick fucks out there doing that kind of shit.” Weasel frowns a bit. “Normies don’t like being normies. They see Slice people and they want to be us. They want to fly or talk to animals or light a cigarette with their thumb or make things explode with their mind.”

The girl pauses at a veggie stand, picking up a few carrots for her skunk friend to enjoy. “And when they can’t do that, they get mad and start hurting or killing us. Careful outside the Safe Zone, by the way,” she murmurs, turning to peer briefly at Geneva. “Miss Huruma and just about everyone else I’ve talked to have warned me that there are human traffickers out there. They already tried to take Hailey and Squeaks.”

After the warning, she pays for the carrots, before passing one back to the little skunk in her hood. He lets out a happy little squeak, and promptly starts devouring the vegetable. “The Slice Rats are coming out of the sewers. I hear they turn into electricity and can jump through power cables and outlets and stuff, too.”

“Ha, yeah. You know me too well. I’d tell you I could take care of myself, but I don’t think even I’d walk out into the heart of Fucksville, New York to look for a nest of people-eating rats and god knows what else. I’m not even sure what I’d do if I found them. The rats, I mean. Still…” Geneva preoccupies herself by concentrating very, very hard on looking at brands of canned salmon from a nearby refrigerated bin. “Pisses me off that this could even happen, in 2018. Fucking normie bullshit.”

Gene’s temper is assuaged, at least momentarily, by the sight of Weasel’s skunk eating his little carrot. The sight is goddamned adorable. “I can’t protect cats like poor Idiot, it’s not like I own ‘em or can control where they go… but you keep your little ones safe, yeah?” She stretches out one hand, palm radiating a comforting amount of warmth, to give Pepe a light patting on the head.

In her other arm, she’s got cradled five cans of canned salmon. Idiot is going to dine like a king tonight. “Who else we got left to shop for? Lance, Squeaks, and Hailey right? Oh, and that tub of peanut butter for Joe?”

“Good,” says Lance as he leans to peer over Geneva’s shoulder to see what she’s got, “Maybe he’ll stop eating all of my fucking peanut butter.”

He came out of nowhere, which is about par for the course with Lance; he was always a ninja for their small Halloween gatherings, at least since Eric bought him that stupid mask for Christmas when he was ten, and he grew up to match the role pretty well. Being able to move without being heard doesn’t hurt either, of course.

Hopefully he doesn’t get elbowed in the face. Again.

“Yeah, I’m not going anywhere near those things. ‘Specially not with my boys.” She leans her head back, gently nuzzling the skunk as he crunches away at his carrot — he pauses to offer a happy squeak at the warm head pat, before going right back to munching on his carrot. “Ron might get too brave and try to be heroic, so I’ll keep him out of danger.”

Weasel noticed Lance before he came up — but that’s only because of the strong noses of her two companions. She doesn’t bother giving him away, though, letting him have his creepy ninja moment with Geneva.

“It’s like a 35 pound bucket, Lance. He’ll stop eating your peanut butter for at least a month.” Weasel grins, pulling a reusable bag out of her empty pocket and offering it to Geneva. “Gotta get Ninja Boy something, then Squeaks and Hailey. Lance, what does Squeaks like? I still haven’t met her.”

The blonde girl yells when she hears the voice right over her shoulder, spinning around and instinctively bringing her fist an inch away from Lance’s newly materialized face. “Jesus, Lance.” The fist lowers, and Gene closes her eyes momentarily as she breathes in. “That’s a great way to get yourself punched in the face.”

Idiot, for once, is gone out of sight somewhere- fortunate because the derpy stray would probably have barreled straight into another stall, or Lance’s face, as a reaction. 50/50 really. Recovering herself and taking the bag Clara proffers, Gene takes the liberty of answering her first. “Squeaks is a skinny little thing. Kinda like you, Weasel. Um. I don’t really know her, but I’ve run into her at the library sometimes. Maybe get her a book or some other nerdy shit.”

It’s with an irrepressible grin that Lance dances back a couple steps from that fist, hands raising up in a gesture of surrender. “Eh, wouldn’t be the first time,” he admits cheerfully, letting both hands drop back down to smack against his sides. “And he’d better, because Jesus he eats a lot of peanut butter. Pretty soon he’s going to be the invincible blob if he’s not careful.”

One hand comes up, then, scratching under his chin, “Books, yeah. Get her books, she loves reading— maybe something on codebreaking, she’s been doing a lot of cipher shit recently, what with what’s been going on. Or maybe a GoPro we can stick to her head when she decides to go exploring.”

“He’s gotten sprayed by Pepe a few times for that crap,” Weasel chimes in, smirking over at Lance. So far, he’s managed to avoid bathing in hydrogen peroxide/baking soda/dish soap. “Just because you can sneak up on people doesn’t mean you should.” Brian used to say that about Pepe’s spray after one of him inevitably had to take a bath in the fizzy concoction to get rid of the smell.

“Oooh, yeah. I bet that Prufrock’s place has some good books. I’ll do that.” The girl grins, mentally checking that one off. “Leaves you to shop for, Lance.” She leans toward the other teen, sniffing. “You’ve been good, so I might not have to get you Skunk Bath this year.” She’s done that before, one year when Lance was collecting a lot of sprays from Pepe.

Gene lets a one-sided smirk slip onto her face. “Yeah, sounds about right for Lance. I mean, forget about getting punched or skunked, you might end up getting killed by someone one of these days.” The cheeky bastard. As it just so happens, she spots an aisle conveniently located to their right, housing among other myriad items a pyramid of tomato soup cans. She picks up one of these, chucking it underhanded towards Lance. “Here. Early present for you, Merry Christmas.”

Once again, as she is conversing, Gene goes to work — pretending she’s dropping various food items into the bag that Weasel had given her, but deftly slipping some of them into a pouch hidden directly beneath the bag. They may be here doing for the purpose of some wholesome holiday shopping, but a girl’s gotta eat. Spirit of giving (to oneself) and all that.

The tossed can is caught easily, and Lance tilts it to one side to read the label. “Ooh, tomato soup,” he enthuses, probably overly, “Goes good with some toast on a cold night.”

The young man smirks over to the two girls, eyebrows raised slightly as he notes, “Nobody’s killed me yet. Many have tried— all have failed!” Dramatic as ever, he waggles the tomato soup can back at Weasel, “And I’m bigger than Pepe these days. Don’t make me find a vet to descent him, girly.”

“If I get cheese, we’re sharing that with some grilled cheese sandwiches.” Weasel points at the tomato soup can, smirking. “Maybe we can find some fresh basil at one of the stalls here. Perfect for a nice winter night. I wish your place had a fireplace.” The girl grins.

Lance is then fixed with a rather angry stare. “I would cut off your balls if you tried that and you know it, Lance.” She reaches up, placing one hand gently on the skunk’s side. “Don’t talk like that in front of him, he knows what you’re saying.”

“…That’s why I love you, lunkhead. The tomato soup is for getting skunk smell off, so I’m surprised you haven’t been all up in that shit before.” Geneva’s lopsided smirk doesn’t leave her face, though she does shake her head as she looks back at Clara.

“Weasel, silly, who needs a fireplace when you’ve got… me.” Gene waggles several of her fingertips in the air for effect. Back at Lance: “Oh yeah. Hope you don’t mind if I crash at your place for a while. I think Idiot needs a safe place to stay till this rat bullshit blows over — don’t want him wandering off, he’ll definitely get himself killed.” Despite her choice to call him ‘Idiot,’ her affection for the big-boned Burmese is clear.

As if he knows he’s being talked about, Idiot peeks his face out at them from under the canvas covering a nearby table.The part dangling by his face has clearly just been thoroughly chewed.

“You know we’re in the middle of a food shortage, right,” Lance replies with both brows raised at Geneva, grinning all the same, “If that li’l guy sprays me you’re all going to have to deal with my stink… and at this rate I think I’m gonna have to annex the apartment next to me. There’s more room since Squeakers moved to mo— to Gillian’s place.”

Then he sticks his tongue out at Weasel, “Does not. He’s a skunk.” He’s so mature.

“Tomato soup doesn’t work,” Weasel says from experience. “Hydrogen Peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap. Works every time.” The girl nods along with her words, and Pepe Le Pew himself squeaks in agreement.

“Just hope Idiot doesn’t try to start shit with Pepe while I’m asleep or anything, or we’ll have to figure out how to give him a bath.” She glances toward Geneva, grinning faintly.

A glower is then fixed on Lance. “Are you the one who has a telepathic bond with Pepe Le Pew? You hurt his feelings, talking like that. That’s like someone saying they would permanantly negate your powers. Taking away his power of stink would be downright cruel.

“I mean you smell as it is, dude. I’d say sacrificing a can of tomato soup would definitely be worth not having to live next to the fucking horror that’s that, and skunk.” A bit of light ribbing from Geneva, whose back is now turned as she investigates another rack of sundries. “But, well, not if it doesn’t work. Leave it to Weasel to be an expert in the science of stink, eh.”

She does swivel her head round at the mention of the possibility of Idiot and Pepe fighting. “Idiot doesn’t really fight, he just… uh. Blunders. I’m sure Pepe’ll get used to a moron, half-blind cat walking into him. And Ron. And every other wall.”

“I do not smell,” Lance’s eyes roll in his head, “And he can keep his power of stink but he’d better not spray in my apartment— I’m going to need to get a freakin’ kennel at this rate. Definitely going to need to get a bigger place at this rate.”

Dryly, he adds, “Somewhere with a yard maybe, because between you two and my barbarian of a sister…”

Brynn split off from Lance earlier to do something else in the market before joining up with the others, and it perhaps becomes obvious what he means when she arrives in the company of a Golden labradoodle with Service Animal gear on it. She looks vaguely uneasy about coming too close, though the dog seems perfectly well behaved and ignores the other critters.

She waves hello to Weasel and then double-takes at the sight of Geneva. Where'd you come from? she asks with wide eyes, startled to see yet another of their number here.

“Lance smells pretty good these days,” Weasel defends the ninja boy, laughing. “Pepe won’t spray inside unless he has good reason to. Don’t worry about him.” It’s true, really, they don’t have to worry so much about the skunk — his bond with Clara over the years has turned him quite docile. He really only ever sprays when told it’s appropriate.

“If we get a place with a yard, I want a shed. I’m going to do that pest control thing, and I’m going to need a place to keep the raccoons in between rehoming them.” The girl brightens up a little bit, apparently more excited about Lance’s idea than she initially showed. “I was just going to find a shitty brownstone in Park Slope, but a shed would be better. I can make it warm.”

Tangent aside, she smiles over at Brynn, making sure the bag holding the canvases she just bought is hiding the canvases. Hey Brynn. Your dog is cool looking. I like labradoodles. To her credit, she doesn’t immediately jump to petting his fluffy face as she wants to. She’s not huge on cats, but dogs are different — they’re a little closer to what she’s used to, belonging to the same suborder. “I’m sure Pepe will be fine with a dog and a cat. He sleeps by me anyhow.”

On the contrary, Gene is not the biggest fan of dogs. They remind her too much of humans: large, enthusiastic, and useless. By instinct, she scowls somewhat at the mention of the labradoodle. “Oh yeah, I forgot about the dog. As long as he doesn’t bother Idiot I guess. He gets antsy around them.”

To Gene’s credit, she looks far less displeased to see the appearance of Brynn herself, smiling a little at the other girl’s wide-eyed disposition. She takes one hand out of the pocket it is currently residing in and does a cocky, one-handed wave. “Hey, Brynn. Howzit?” Mentally, she ensures that the paintbrushes she had, ah, acquired as a present for Brynn are still tucked completely out of sight underneath her jacket.

“Park Slope doesn’t have electricity. Park Slope doesn’t have plumbing,” Lance points out with a spread of his hands, a can of tomato soup still held in one, “You do not want to live in Park Slope. Unless I guess you’re a barbarian like Hailey. I don’t even want to know how she was surviving without working bathrooms in the Bronx…”

He has Opinions about his sister’s life choices.

“Hey, Brynn,” he calls over affably, tucking the soup can into a pocket of his hoodie (forgetting it hasn’t been paid for) and moving his hands to sign a greeting back over to the deaf girl, We’re gonna need to get a bigger place soon I think.

Shooting Gene a grin, she signs for the girls, Thanks — Hailey trained him up. She didn't like me being in the city without him, Brynn replies with a bit of a roll of her eyes. Big sisters, right? But she shows genuine affection for the dog, touching his head and signing for him to lay down. I'm pretty sure he's fine with all animals. He's Hailey-trained, after all.

To Lance, she tilts her head and agrees on both thoughts. Randomly she slips into Cant just because it's all Lighthouse here and the gestures are shorter and quicker. We kinda do. I actually still haven't been assigned a place — do you think if we go and ask for an assigned family place, we might be able to get one? She pauses and looks at the other two. Crap. Are you two Registered? If they find out that you're not, they'll kick you out of the Zone. Getting bigger housing may not be THAT big a problem, but then getting kicked out of it because some of the residents are unregistered — that could be a bigger deal.

“I lived in Park Slope before I finally found you, y’know.” Clara grins over at Lance, lifting a hand to scratch Pepe atop the head. “And for reference, you find a bush and squat — it’s pretty easy, actually.” Surely Lance doesn’t want to hear about going to the bathroom indoors, but he is the one who brought the subject up. “Bury it if you don’t want to deal with the gross.

Then, she’s slipping into Cant as well, grinning over at Brynn. I have an appointment tomorrow with Delilah Trafford, Gillian set me up with her to get registered and apply for citizenship. I’m going to try to get a commercial license thing, because Lance had a really good idea for a business. Weasel doesn’t always like being legit, but it’s always a good idea to have money.

Then, Weasel goes back to using her voice, signing as she speaks. “Speaking of business, Lance, I should drag you and Geneva out to help me find a mink. If I find one of those, I can include rat murder as part of my pest control business scheme. Not electric rats, though.” The girl smiles. “We can also eat fish if I find one.”

Oh, yeah. The whole signing schbang. Somewhat reluctantly (because she has never been as fluent at it as the others, not because she doesn't want to, for Brynn's benefit) Geneva begins to append the appropriate signs to her words as well. If Hailey trained him, then sure, I’m okay with him. I’m sure Idiot will come around, too.

Speaking of the devil, Idiot now pokes his head fully out of the canvas-covered table, sniffing at Brynn’s heels. The chubby, cross-eyed cat meows a confused greeting in the direction of the girl and the dog. Brynn… meet Idiot.

Turning back to Weasel, Gene arches her eyebrows as she continues signing, the gestures coming a tiny bit more naturally to her now as muscle memory returns. “Going legit, huh. That’s something I wouldn’t have guessed, Weasel. Also, yeah Brynn… I am registered.” The drifter doesn’t look like she’s the happiest about the fact, but is resigned to it by now. “I can ‘contribute’ my share of food too, don’t worry.”

“It’s a new era, y’know. We don’t need to be paranoid about the government, half of them raised us at this point,” Lance observes with a shrug of one shoulder, “I don’t think Joe’ll ever come around, but… seriously, register, everything’s all good. I’ve been working with SESA, even, and they’ve been pretty cool about everything.”

“Maybe, Brynn. Or…” He frowns slightly, “I mean, we could check out some of the less— good parts of town, like up near Queens and shit. Jackson Heights? There’s a lot of town that’s still uninhabited, maybe we could grab up a cheap apartment building just for us.”

A grin, then, “I could rally all the old Ferrymen to help us set it up. They made me do child labor setting up like three safehouses when I was a kid, I can guilt them into it.”

Murmurs and eyeballs turn as a disconnected swarm, and bodies shuffle in a way that isn’t part of the normal flow of shoppers. Someone is pushing through the crowd while excitedly calling, “Brynn, Brynn!” It’s a voice that’s probably familiar to at least one of the gathered teenagers, connected to a bright-eyed and red-cheeked girl who pauses in pursuit to jump and peer around shoulders. “Brynn!” Hands wave overhead as the face falls out of sight again in an honest effort to gain the deaf girl’s attention. Maybe Bug will hear if Lance doesn’t first. Speaking of…

“Lance!” That follows close behind, with no lack of enthusiasm. In fact, those grown-up eyes that find her with their not-happy looks are stared back for all of a second of challenging suspicion. Barely enough for a breath or a word before the young teen wiggles away from the grouchy faces in order to join her siblings.

Suspicion returns as she manages to break away from all the grown-ups and whatever their business is and finds two unfamiliar faces along with two familiar ones. Those ones that she knows are greeted with a typical rush of energy, a hand latching around Brynn’s sleeve with a not quite tug. Obviously there’s something the older girl has to see right now. And even Lance is bumped into with the same meaning. But the two strangers are looked at as …well, strangers.

Shouting for a deaf girl is pretty well useless, though the handwaving isn't. Bug may be paying attention, he's nudging her leg it looks like. But it's the first time it's ever happened, so she doesn't know what that is. Brynn glances down in puzzlement, and by the time she looks back up, her arm is being grabbed. She turns to look and grins. Though there aren't words to the movement, she's become fluent in Mouse-style come right naow! body language. So she glances with a questioning look at Lance to see if he knows what's what, and her feet are already moving in whatever direction Squeaks wants to go. It's practically automatic.

“I mean, had to happen some time,” Weasel replies to Geneva’s remark that she’s going legit, still signing along for Brynn’s sake. “There’s still my other business ventures, but…the only reason I really wanna do it is because I don’t want to get kicked out of here if they find me, and I feel like — like I could help out some animals in the process. You know.” She did always have a soft spot for the creatures she can communicate with.

She then turns her attention back to Lance, her head tilting toward her shoulder. “Wherever we go, let’s get something close to the water. When I find a mink, we’ll probably end up with plenty of fish. And some place with a back yard, so I can skin things without upsetting those with more delicate constitutions.” Not everyone likes watching bunnies getting skinned, and gutting fish is pretty gross as well.

The not-so-subtle entrance of Squeaks is met with a rather confused blink from Clara and the skunk on her shoulder, and even the tiny least weasel in her pocket peeks his head out, staring curiously at the girl grabbing Brynn’s arm. After a moment, the weasel retreats into his pocket, and Weasel herself snaps her fingers. “Are you Squeaks?”

“Yeah. I totally feel you, Weasel.” In fact Geneva’s own reasons for registering had been very similar. One can get the sense that the girl had performed a very thorough cost-to-benefit analysis before making the choice to register. She lifts her eyebrows pointedly at Lance, specifically at his ‘new era’ comment. “I hate to remind you my dude, but it was only a few years ago that all of us almost went to hell ‘cause of our government. You think they’ve all turned over a new leaf, that everyone’s just all canoodly now? Tell me the store where you bought those rose-colored glasses, ‘cause fuck, I want a pair.”

The drifter’s attention is temporarily diverted by an unfamiliar voice yelling Brynn’s name. She turns, blinks. Is that really the redhead she’d passed at Doyle Library from time to time? Never would have have guessed that a little bookworm could be so… loud. “Yeah, that’s Squeaks.” Gene’s body language is much less reserved than Squeaks’, but she is clearly sizing up the smaller girl now that they are in a social situation where they’re not expected to ignore each other. Judging.

She nods casually, a gesture that does not preclude her ongoing judgment. “‘Eyo. I’m Gene.”

“I’m trying to house people, not a menagerie,” Lance complains, but it’s good-natured complaining in Weasel’s direction at least. His nose wrinkles up a bit at Geneva’s words about the government, and he brings one shoulder up in a shrug. “We killed most of those people. Colette’n all them are hunting down the rest. Seriously. We don’t need to hide anymore…”

It’s an argument he has endlessly with everyone, but might never win. Or give up, for that matter.

At all the calling, he turns in that direction too, a brow crooking up. “Hey, Squeaks,” he calls warmly, “This is Weasel’n Geneva, they were Lighthouse too. Ladies, this is Squeaks. We adopted her. I mean, Gillian literally adopted her, too.”

“Hi,” is a very normal greeting, even if Squeaks’ tone comes back a little flat. She’s already got Brynn moving, so she looks at Lance then Weasel and Geneva. She looks like she might spare a second or two to say something more, but her hand still on the older girl’s arm means she gets tugged herself when Brynn gets farther away. So they’ll have to settle with a slightly more enthused “Bye!” as she turns to catch up and start explaining as best she can. There’s still words she makes up on the spot, but it looks like something about donuts. Or maybe a rocket. It’s hard to say for sure.

“Stop pretending that you don’t know that the menagerie comes standard with me, Lance,” Clara replies, smirking over at her brother. She is much less invested in arguments about the government — she has never been to the US until she came here, as far as she knows, so she tends to keep out of that whole argument about governments and what they can do.

And then, Squeaks is dragging Brynn off just as quickly as she appeared, and Weasel blinks a few times after the girl. “That was fast. Cute kid,” Weasel replies, turning toward a stall that contains a wide variety of odds and ends. Squeaks probably would resent that remark, if she was in earshot still. “Lance, what’s on your Christmas list?”

"I don't mean the war cons. Those are easy. I mean the totally normal people who still hate us, or who'd use us. Your good, old-fashioned racists. You gonna kill all of them, too?" Geneva
shakes her head, simmering; there is a wild, darkly brooding look on her face. But Lance can get the feeling that it's not him her anger is directed at, but rather, general resentments that the girl has harbored for a very long time. A millstone she's carried since her Lighthouse days.

Then she sighs, trying to refocus on the slightly happier topic in front of them: shopping. She eyes Squeaks and Brynn as they disappear with a bemused look. "Yeah. At least don't worry about Idiot, Lance, I'll be looking out for him. Say, Weasel, what do you want? Your birthday's coming up."

Lance's messenger bag is tugged, then expands, and eventually settles as a long furry tail disappears into its depths. One of the 'critters' that the ninja is not so fond of has made itself at home on his person. Or maybe it just wants to nap…

Not far from where the Lighthouse crowd is gathered, a small card table is set up with an array of large garden sculptures surrounding it. Sure it's winter, but the Christmas season is coming and what better way to tell a woman 'I love you' than to wow her with a five foot squid… or horse… or squirrel even. Chair tilted back, boots on the table, and straw hat over her head, Hailey is managing to catch a few winks despite all of the noise. Jim is copying Hailey, he's just found a much more comfortable spot to do it in.

“My Christmas list?” Lance blinks as he looks back over to Weasel, once the other two girls have been tugged away, “I… uh, huh. I hadn’t even really thought about it, but— hey!”

He pulls on his messenger bag, half-turning as if to accuse someone trying to steal it, but no— it’s a tail. “Augh, Jim,” he protests, shaking it, “Jim, get outta my bag! HAILEY! HE’S IN MY BAG AGAIN!”

“Knives,” is Weasel’s prompt reply to Geneva’s question, her eyes lingering over a set of meditation balls. Briefly she picks them up, jingling the bells inside curiously. After a moment, she puts them back, before turning just in time to watch Jim disappear into Lance’s bag.

Instantly, her face lights up. “Hailey!” She hasn’t been in the same place as Hailey at the same time since she arrived, so she immediately forgets the topic at hand, darting over to her fellow animal empath’s table. She always did adore Hailey — and judging by the squeaks of joy that Pepe’s barking out at the girl, he is happy to see her too.

Gene arches her eyebrow at the immediacy of the response, but then nods acceptingly. Yeah, knives are useful. And also pretty cool. “Heh, no problem. I’ll put that on the list.”

And who should appear then, but Hailey! It seems that the animal empath is quite popular, because Geneva also quirks a chipper wave over in her direction; she is one of the Lighthouse kids who the habitually-moody girl had always best gotten along with.

Just in case Hailey is somehow still sleeping in the face of all this commotion, Geneva approaches— sneaky-like— and holds up a glowing-red hand up to the sole of one of Hailey’s feet resting on the table. Not at all hot enough to actually burn or otherwise cause damage— just enough to awaken the other girl with a rude start. Hotfeet!

Jim hangs on for dear life, he's not letting go and short of Lance turning the thing inside out, it's possible that he might be stuck holding the monkey for just a bit. He doesn't scream, he just whimpers as Lance grouses, then cheeps and gives his best impression of watery kitten eyes.

Hailey's feet are quickly moved off the table as her chair slams back down to all four legs. "Whoah!" She's not especially fond of her shoes melting to her skin and with the price she paid for them, it's quite possible that would be the outcome. "Relax Lance, he's just looking for a place to nap. It's not like he'll mess up whatever important stuff you have in there."

Everyone else gets a smile, "Hey guys, can I interest you in some authentic pieces of garden art? Made from locally sourced materials and one hundred percent eco friendly."

“I swear to God,” Lance glowers down at the monkey giving him big sad eyes from the messenger bag, “If he poops in there I’m going to kill him.” He doesn’t really mean it, no, of course. Although he will be upset.

He lets the bag slump back down to his side, rolling his eyes, “Hey sis. And are they animal poop sculptures, because if you’re getting people to pay for animal poop I’m impressed.” He doesn’t look at the others suggesting the purchase of knives, although there’s a bit of a grimace as he hears.

Weasel doesn’t have the same reservations as Lance towards knives, for obvious reasons. For her, knives are survival more than they are a weapon — she uses them to skin her animals, and various other outdoorsy activities revolve around her ability to use a knife. Then there’s the whole self defense factor.

“Yeah, I’m with Lance. It depends on if they’re made of poop or not.” She laughs softly, turning to peer at the monkey. “He’s so cute, I bet he’s fun to chat with.” She knows that Hailey’s ability is certainly different than hers, but they both talk to animals, so. Speaking of animals, Pepe suddenly lurches over Clara’s shoulder, taking a flying leap into Hailey’s lap with an enthused squeaking sound. The little skunk loves Hailey.

When Geneva lifts her hand to her mouth to suppress a smirking snort, it is difficult to tell whether it’s a reaction to the snub-nosed monkey or Hailey’s quick reaction. Bit of Column A, bit of Column B, probably.

“Oh, you guys. ‘Locally sourced materials’ doesn’t have to mean poop, though that shows what goes on in your minds, you shitheads.” Pun intended there. She allows herself her grin to spread wider as she says this, lifting her hand to give Pepe’s back a stroke as he makes himself at home on Hailey’s lap.

Geneva earns herself a seat at the big kids table for that one. So Hailey moves off her chair and straightens the hat on her head, offering her place to the younger woman. “Gene’s right, you dick wrinkles, they’re metal.” To prove it, she knocks on one of the bigger ones with a hammer. The solid piece tings usically, the pure note reverberating throughout the area around them.

The people around them turn to look at the group of young adults, some with suspicion, some with interest, one with a bit of money in her hand. “How much for that big one, right there?” A red haired woman asks as she edges between them and pulls out a few bills. “I have twenty dollars and two bags of potatoes and onions.”

“Twenty and two bags of potatoes and onions sounds like the right price for this beauty,” Hailey says, moving round to showoff the 6 foot sculpture. It’s a spire of some type, the twisted metal leaves of it all reaching toward the sky. “This one double as a fire pit, if you light a fire at the base, the shadows you’ll get will be absolutely primal.” With the impending sale, Hailey’s attention is turned away from the small group. Negotiations for delivery take a little while, especially when the payoff could easily feed her for a few weeks.

“Oh hell yeah. Hailey, we should totally make some rabbit stew! With your potatoes and onions and my carrots and bunny, it’ll be delicious.” Weasel doesn’t interject more than that, however, letting her adopted sibling negotiate as necessary for such things.

There’s a bit more exploration, and Weasel somehow manages to pick out gifts for all of her siblings without any of them finding out what they’re getting — mostly by slipping off on her own when nobody’s looking.

Christmas is going to be fun this year.

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