All Family Here


hollis_icon.gif monica2_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif

Scene Title All Family Here
Synopsis Everyone has lost something. Everyone mourns.
Date November 9, 2011

The Fitzroy Cabin: Good Hope Lake, British Columbia, Canada

Dawn breaks over the horizon, making the waters of Good Hope Lake sparkle like diamonds and bringing a touch of gold to the snow-topped mountains. This patch of land Hollis Fitzroy owns is beautiful and serene. It brings some sense to why she's settled and stayed in this place for so long, out here in the middle of almost nowhere. Most of her charges haven't slept, she knows, or haven't slept well, but some slumber like they haven't had a wink of it in a week.

When they returned, she never even asked them where they'd been or what happened, trusting in the need to know hierarchy. Trusting even more in their need to talk about what happened on their own time. That early light peeks through the windows of the great room that makes up the majority of the ground level of her spacious cabin. It was designed with these kinds of sleepovers in mind. Upstairs, the rows of beds in the bunk house - enough for all of them now - are made up for those who want to make use of them.

Below, Hollis keeps her vigil from a rocking chair in front of a picture window that looks out the back of the house to the expanse of land beyond. There's a pot of coffee, hot and ready in the kitchen area and she holds a mug of it in her hand. A rifle is propped up against the wall next to her. She's not afraid of anything coming out of the pre-dawn looking for them, but she's cautious. Always cautious.

Peyton hasn't really slept. She's stayed near Monica and wordlessly helped her friend as much as she could, but when Monica slept — or maybe pretended to sleep — Peyton slipped away, far from the others. Everyone suffering, mourning, in pain — she feels like her very presence is somehow blasphemous to their losses. She's spent a few hours perched up on the top step. She's nodded off a couple of times, but woke with that jarring sense of disorientation, not remembering where she is or how she got there.

Then reality settles in, and it's worse.

The smell of coffee and the light creeping in from the windows is enough to make her give up her perch, though. She holds the bannister carefully, not trusting herself in her exhaustion and strain not to slip on the steps. Once she reaches the downstairs great room, she glances at Hollis and gives her a small nod, before looking at the window, studying the beauty of the land outside.

Typically, Monica is one of those who does not sleep. Not at night, at least. But last night, she slept like the dead. Actual, real sleep. The light is enough to wake her, though and she stirs to wakefulness slowly. And like Peyton, reality is held at bay for a few — all too brief — moments.

Her hand reaches for her arm, finding only a stump and bandages. She sags. Any hope that it was all just a nightmare slips away and she pulls back her blankets to get out of bed. She can't let herself just lay there. Never could. So she comes down the stairs a little after Peyton leaves them and echoes her walk down, complete with holding onto the bannister and giving a nod to Hollis.

But she sees Peyton and her pace picks up so she can come up beside her. She gives her friend a gentle nudge. "Didn't you get any sleep, Pey?" she asks in a quiet voice, like she doesn't want to disturb the landscape out the window. It's easier for her, worrying over someone else and not thinking about her own troubles. For as long as she can.

Hollis looks away from the window and adjusts the lay of the fur cap that seems perpetually perched on her head. "Mornin', ladies," she greets in her southern accented voice, pitched soft so as not to disturb them much. The enclosed stairwell helps to keep the noise from downstairs downstairs, but she's left the door open. Knows to listen for nightmares.

She doesn't recognize Peyton Whitney any more this morning than she did when they arrived the evening before and picked her figure out in the dark amongst the others. It tells her there must have been a rescue job involved. That doesn't surprise her, but it's curious, because there's a tension she can feel in each and every one of them. And in Peyton the most. The fact that she's looking burdened similarly to the way "Steve" did when she first arrived raises her concern. "Y'all want any breakfast?" Makes her sure she needs to eat.

The nudge makes Peyton jump, visibly, before she closes her eyes and breathes for a second. The gentleness from first Monica and then Hollis makes her brow knit together and she looks like she might cry again. "Little bit," she manages to say, graduating to a two-syllable word which is more than she managed last night. "You sleep okay?" she asks, turning to look at Monica, her eyes sliding over her friend's face, like she might find something in it that she can do something about.

She looks back to Hollis, and it's clear that the prospect of food isn't one she's eager for. She shakes her head. "Just coffee. I can get it," she murmurs, the last part lilting upward into a question, followed by a softer, "Thanks." She looks exhausted after that much speech. Still, it's easier because she doesn't know Hollis.

When Peyton jumps, Monica pulls back with a quick sorry. And when it looks like she might cry, Monica reaches out to put a hand on her shoulder. "Hey, Pey, everything's gonna be okay." Only then does she look over at Hollis. "Good morning," her own accent is southern as well, dampened by years in New York City. "I think some breakfast would be good thank you. And… is there a place a bit private that Peyton can get some sleep in?" It's crowded upstairs, Hollis. That's all.

"Sure, sug'." Hollis gets to her feet and meanders slowly (they all seem like they need slow right now) over to a door set against the underside of the staircase. It isn't storage she's got under there - Hollis doesn't have need for too much surplus fo anything around here - but a twin bed and a little night stand, both set a couple feet off the ground. The stairs are plenty tall enough that an adult could sit upright on the mattress an not worry about bumping their head; and wide enough that it shouldn't seem too claustrophobic.

"This one's mine." One hand, callused from the work that comes from maintaining a place like this nearly alone, reaches into the space under the stairs to grasp a toggle switch that's been secured to the door frame with industrial staples around the cord it's attached to. The knotched wheel is turned upward and a string of warm white fairy lights flickers on. Hollis is a whimsical sort.

"The sheets are clean. I haven't slept in it since m—" there's the briefest hitch in her voice, and she's quick to smooth it over; just a hiccup. "Since y'all left." The middle aged woman's smile is (she hopes) encouraging. "It's not much, but it's got a door and you don't have to climb a ladder to get into it."

It takes Peyton a moment to register what Monica's asking and another moment for her mouth to work. Her brows draw more fiercely together and she shakes her head, adamantly. No.

"Absolutely not," says Peyton, her voice suddenly coming through and a little too loudly at that. "I'm not injured." She might be the only person who isn't. She hasn't looked everyone in the face to do an actual count. "Someone else should sleep there. If not you." The flare of anger is swallowed back, and she looks back at Monica, shaking her head slightly. It's a tacit plea not to be so kind.

She moves closer to the window, one hand curling over her swollen midsection. "Thank you for the offer," she adds over her shoulder to Hollis. "You should try to sleep."

"Peyton, you need sleep, injured or not," Monica says, so possibly she is misinterpretting the look on Peyton's face. "We all could do to pass out for about a week." She looks over at Hollis, hoping to find an ally there.

Her hand starts for her missing arm, but moves to her shoulder at the last moment. That's where she meant to put it all along. "It's been a rough time," she adds, and she seems to be including Peyton in that. It doesn't occur to her that it might be less than helpful.

"Right." Monica has indeed found her ally. "And since you aren't injured, that means you've got your wits about you. We need to keep it that way for everyone's sake." Hollis cants her head back to indicate the stairwell at her back and the people above. "They all need the solidarity. I can tell you want a little solitude." She can also tell she doesn't think she deserves it.

"I'd be much obliged if you would at least lie down in there for an hour or two. With y'all here, I'm happier sleepin' in my chair. It'll save me from worry." See? Peyton would be doing their host a favor. She can repay the kindness this way. But Hollis doesn't harp on it, not yet anyway. Instead, she pushes away from that cozy sleeping nook and makes her way over to the kitchen, grabbing a carton of eggs from the refrigerator and setting them on the counter next to the stove, where a cast iron skillet lies in wait.

"I don't know what you've been through," there's a brief glance spared to Monica; Hollis has some guesses on her part at least, "but you're safe here. If y'all need to sleep a week, a month — Hell! Even a year — y'all are welcome as long as you like." Truth be told, she'd like the company.

She can hear both of them, but Peyton continues to stare out at the cold landscape in front of her. Reflected in miniature in her dark eyes, she doesn't see it for the moment — instead, she's looking through the eyes of others. People back in New York. In what used to be her home. A tear slides down her face and she turns back to look at them, seemingly too tired to argue more.

Her gaze falls on Monica as she rests her hand on her shoulder — Peyton's mind going to the garish memory of seeing it float away — and swiftly move to the kitchen area where Hollis is beginning to cook. "Are you Ferry?" she asks, finally, moving a little closer so their hostess doesn't have to speak so loud to be heard across the room, knowing the sleeping upstairs may be close to breaking the surface of slumber. "Thank you for putting us," the word sounds a little tentative, and she frowns, "up."

The disagreement fizzles out in front of her and Monica doesn't seem to know what to do from there. Was that an agreement? Was it not? Either way, she lets the matter drop, too. When the other two leave her in the room alone, her fingers tug at her bandages and she follows it down and under. Double checking, maybe. Of course, she also remembers watching her own arm float off, but it lingers, like she might be able to clench her fist if she tried hard enough.

There is a delay before she follows them toward the kitchen. "We lost some of our people," Monica states, she tries to keep it clinical. Facts. "Saved the world. For a price." Maybe a heavy one, this time around. "But we got some of our people out, too. Hard to say how everyone will shake out after." Herself included, probably. Acceptance is a long way off.

"F'course, sug'." Their hostess reaches across the counter to lay one hand gently on Peyton's shoulder, squeezing softly. "That's what we do here in the Ferry. We're all family here."

Hollis Fitzroy is an optimistic sort, or she does her best to play one for the world around her. She may not have been cut out for the activities south of the Canadian border, but this? This she can do. She can help guide a few lost sheep along, give them a place to rest and the encouragement to find whatever it is they need to find within themselves.

But the news Monica delivers is hard to swallow. She's pensive for the moment it takes to retract her hand, turn on the stove, and start cracking eggs into the skillet. It's not a shock to her. She knows the other part of what the Ferry does, too. They aren't just shepherds.

"So Mary-Anne…?" She doesn't wait for confirmation. She knew last night. The woman she knows as Steve wouldn't even lay eyes on her. "Ah, hell…" A great sigh is heaved, a sound of deep resignation. It didn't have to happen this way, or any way, but the expectation that it could happen was always there. "Well, we both knew that the longer you try to run with the bulls, the more likely you are to finally get gored." She isn't callous about it or dismissive, but she holds her posture and speaks in that way that so many people do when the emotion is tumultuous beneath the surface, but they're too proud, too weary, or just too numb anymore to show it.

Hollis Fitzroy understands them all better than it seems at first glance.

Peyton moves to the coffee pot to pour herself some, foregoing any sort of cream or sugar, perhaps in penance or perhaps because she doesn't want to ask for them. The black liquid is sipped, carefully, before she shakes her head just slightly. "I'm not Ferry. I've helped them a couple times, is all." What's left unspoken, of course, is that she's not family, either.

She moves to sit at a table, though, pulling a chair out for Monica as well. If she sits, perhaps Monica will, seems to be her thinking.

When there's a sound somewhere above their heads, she tenses a little, looking poised to move out of the room depending on who comes down the steps — but it might have been the house settling, because no one does.

When there's a sound somewhere above their heads, she tenses a little, looking poised to move out of the room depending on who comes down the steps — but it might have been the house settling, because no one does.

"I'm pretty sure this is it," Monica says, as far as survivors goes. "I'm sorry." And that much is genuine. Emotion breaks her voice and she glances down for a moment. Numbness might be a blessing in this moment. When she looks up, she sees Peyton pulling out a chair and she grabs some coffee — also black — and sits down at the table. Normally Monica is full of ticks and nervous energy. Feet tap, fingers drum, pencils twirl between fingers. So it might be strange to see her just now. Still. Quiet. Looking down at her coffee.

"We're Endgame. Richard's people. Sometimes we work close with the Ferry. Cousins, maybe." She looks over at Peyton, catching that reaction, and she glances back toward the stairs, too. "Peyton, no body here's gonna say a thing. And if they do? Well, I can still punch them. You're with us."

The fears confirmed by Monica Dawson are met with a slow nod of that blonde head. Understanding and acceptance. Her own feelings are pushed down for now, because she has a flock to tend to. "Most of the people that come to sleep under my roof aren't Ferrymen," Hollis says gently. She may not know much at all about Endgame, whatever that is, and it's neither here nor there to her. Helping others through their own losses makes for a good distraction. "Doesn't change a thing." What isn't a distraction is the movement over their heads. Whatever it may have been, it doesn't draw the woman's attention away from the eggs she's scrambling in the pan or from the conversation she's having.

What she also has is a shotgun held in a bracket on the underside the counter she's standing at. That's usually enough to quell any unrest brewing under her roof. She's never had to fire a shot yet. And she's fairly certain Monica has that under control. If you piss a one-armed woman off enough to make her want to punch you… Well, then Hollis reckons you should be very worried indeed.

There's a nearly imperceptible shake of Peyton's head at the words Monica speaks, as if to argue her status in that circle as well. But when Monica offers to punch someone on her behalf, she actually huffs a short laugh.

And immediately regrets it.

Her hand comes up to her mouth and her eyes flash up with apology in them. "Sorry," she whispers, because obviously they have all lost people, including Hollis. Peyton isn't aware who Mary-Anne is, was, or that she witnessed her death. Thankfully. Her eyes fill with tears again. She wraps both hands around her mug of coffee, and stares into it. "Maybe I should sleep a little," she says quietly, her eyes moving to the little cupboard beneath the stairs.

When Peyton laughs, Monica smiles. It's wide, if shortlived, but it's glad that she's glad to see that spark of life in her friend. And it's an expression that might have gone on, if Peyton had. But she doesn't. And Monica's expression falls. She glances over to Hollis, looking a little lost.

Looking back to Peyton, Monica nods to her words. "Sleep's a good idea. I won't be far. If you need anything, just shout." She even starts to stand up, like she might be needed right away. "And I'll try to keep the others quiet when they start waking up." It might not be much a challenge with this group. On this morning.

Laughter may not be the best medicine - sometimes that honor goes to Penicillin or Tetracycline - but it's good for a lot of those intangible maladies. So's food. Protein. A turn of the knob switches off the heat, then Hollis reaches into her cupboards and pulls out a short stack of plates, grabbing two and turning back to the waiting meal. She scoops eggs, sets a fork on each, and brings their plates over to the table even as they're both standing up.

"Eat first," she says firmly and almost with some sort of air that suggests wisdom. Although maybe age just gives that sense by default; she's old enough to be their mother. The sides of the plates she sets down are deep almost like a bowl, but without curvature of a basin. Monica should have very little difficulty making sure her eggs get on her fork. There's no remark made about it from Hollis. She just smiles and gives Peyton's arm another squeeze. "I'm going to go check on the fire. You girls let me know if you need anything else."

The food is stared at for a moment. Peyton's not hungry. But there is that nagging sense of needing to eat because of the small life she carries inside of her. And Monica needs to eat. She settles back into her seat with a small sigh.

"Thank you," she murmurs to Hollis, picking up her fork. A few bites at least. And then maybe sleep, once there's someone else to look after Monica.

Eat first. It's a familiar command. Monica's heard it a thousand times from Nana and muscle memory that has been there a lot longer than her power has her sitting back down quickly. "Thank you, Hollis," she says, echoing Peyton saying the same thing.

She looks down at her fork for a moment, but it's only a brief hesitation before she picks up her fork and starts eating. There is something comforting about food. About hearth and home. Comforting, but bittersweet. It might bring her around to a melancholy disposition, but she doesn't seem to mind it.

Previously in this storyline…
A Long Road Left to Go

Next in this storyline…

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