Always, Forever


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Scene Title Always, Forever
Synopsis A pact is made.
Date January 15, 2019

Secure Facility, Kansas City, MO

Tap tap tap.

It’s a light sound on the door to the room Des was assigned to, the kind that manages to interrupt without being completely rude. There’s probably already been plenty of interruptions, but this one happens about the time when most people have gone to the dining place for supper.

Tap tap. Tap.

And it happens again, a dozen or so seconds later, just as light and maybe because Squeaks felt it wasn’t heard the first time. She’s standing beside the door, with a shoulder pressed to the wall and wide eyes, curious and cautious both, staring down the hall. The knocking hand hovers, ready to tap-tap-tap knuckles again but the other that hangs at her side holds a bag borrowed from somewhere.

The door opens after the second set of taps to reveal the newly blonde visage of the woman Squeaks knows as Des Desjardins. The woman most people now refer to as Odessa Price. "Jac," Odessa breathes out, surprise clear on her face. "Come in," she offers, gesturing for the teen to step inside.

"To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?" the woman asks with a cheerfulness that she doesn't really feel. Or maybe she does, in some small way. She is genuinely glad to see a friendly face, she's just also buried beneath so much grief.

“I brought you food.” The explanation follows the flicker of vague suspicion and wash of relief as the door is opened. The girl grins a little bit and holds up the bag as proof. But it’s possible that’s not the only reason, because she steps around the doorway even as she’s being invited inside and taps her head against Des’ shoulder.

“There’s bagels and bananas.” She indicates the bag again with a side eying of it. “Sandwiches and cookies.” Jac tilts her head to look up at the now blonde woman. “Lots of people went to eat now, but I grabbed foods earlier.”

Odessa had sent her niece off to dinner without her (not unaccompanied, however) with the intention of skipping the meal. But now, confronted with the prospect of food, she finds herself unwilling to turn it down. “That’s really thoughtful of you. Thank you.”

She shuts the door behind Squeaks and moves to sit on her bed, tapping the other side to indicate that her friend should join her. “You’re a good kid, you know that?” A smile twitches on her lips. “Sorry. I suppose you don’t like to be called a kid. You know what I mean, though. I’m old, so everyone’s a kid to me.” She’d bristle if anyone else called her old.

The bag is set on the bed first, and Jac climbs up beside it. “I am a kid,” is a pragmatic statement. She’s definitely not a grown-up and is not very sure what else she would be called. But she follows her words with a shrug, not bothered by being called what she is. “I try to be good though. Sometimes it’s hard though.”

Tapping her toes together, she looks all around the room. It’s probably just like her own, all simple and clean with everything she needs, but she looks anyway. “You’re good too,” the young teen points out when her attention returns to Des. “I think you are, you help people. You helped me.”

Odessa smiles when Jac doesn’t seem bothered to be called kid. As much as Odessa loves children, she doesn’t have the most experience with them. She’s not great with people at the best of times. But she tries extra for people like Jac. “It is hard,” she agrees softly.

“I’m glad you think I’m good.” That’s not meant to be diminished by what she has to say next. “But I’ve hurt people, too. Sometimes I did it because I wanted to. Sometimes I did it because I was trying to survive. I’m not always a good person.” Odessa glances down to her hands folded in her lap for a moment before she looks back up to the girl. “And that’s why I’m going to have to go away for a while.”

Squeaks shakes her head, first to try and take away the weight of Odessa’s confession then to deny that her friend would be going away. “But… but it’s past stuff. People make mistakes or…” Her brows scrunch as she tries to make sense of it.

“But you’re a good person. You… you did good things. You helped…” The girl’s head turns toward the door then a little further, the hallway eventually leads to a way outside. “You were there, you helped get people home and… and… You can’t go away now.” Her head swivels and she looks up at her friend again. “You have your kid now too and… we were… we have to know about Cindy.”

Odessa’s heart aches as Squeaks tries to rationalize and list off all the reasons why she can’t go. She smiles sadly and shakes her head. “It’s not that simple. I wish it was. The good things I’ve done may help, but it won’t erase it. I did something wrong, and I have to pay for that. That’s why our system is about justice and not karma, I guess.” Not that Odessa believes she’s remotely built up enough good karma to justify her freedom.

“Maybe Miss Childs will bring you to visit me sometimes, huh? And then you can tell me everything you find out about Cindy.” Odessa rests a hand on Squeaks’ shoulder and squeezes gently. She won’t share her fear that her trial might result in her death. Not with her. “I’m glad I got to know you. Whatever happens.”

“You can’t. You can’t just… If you have to pay them I will help. I have money.” That might not be the paying for it that’s meant, but it’s how Jac understands it. “I’ll tell them too. I’ll tell them you’re different now, that you’re good.” That has to count for something, she’s sure of it.

She stares up at Des, her face still tight with the desperate need to keep her friend out of trouble. Squeaks eventually twists around and hugs Odessa. “I’ll tell them,” she promises as she clings to the woman. “I’ll tell them you’re a good person and you’re different now. And I’ll visit all the time. Maybe… maybe I can make them understand.”

Odessa wraps her arms around Jac tightly and buries her face in the girl’s hair, kissing her crown. “You are such a good, good person, Jac. If they’ll let you speak for me, I’d be happy to have your voice among my friends.” She has her doubts about how open the door to her trial will be. Or that anything even remotely relating to this incident will be considered admissible.

“I think you’ll understand better when you’re older why it has to be like this. But you’re right if you think it’s not fair. But what’s not fair to you might be fair to someone else. Life is full of… little shit like that.” Odessa manages to keep her voice gentle and not sound bitter about it. She knows she’s getting what she deserves, in some sense.

It isn't fair, that whatever the before was can’t be leveled with the now. Even though there's some part of her that understands the reasons, Jac still tries to rationalize the opposites. She turns her head to hide her face against Des’ shoulder before mumbling, “It’s going to be okay.”

She sits back after a minute or three, without actually wiggling out of the hug but just letting it go loose. “We’ll always be friends, right? Forever? Even if you're gone for a while?” Even if she can't help?

“Oh, Jac…” Odessa gives her one more squeeze before resting her hands on her shoulders and holding her so that they can look at each other face-to-face. “I will always, always be your friend. We’ve got the same surrogate mom, you know?” Hers in the apparently adoptive sense at one time and Jac’s more literal. “That makes us like sisters.”

Odessa holds up one hand, fingers curled in toward her palm except for her pinky. Do kids still pinky swear? “Always, okay? Forever.”

Pinky swears are the most serious kind, and Jac recognizes it right off. She hooks her pinky with Odessa’s quickly to seal the promise.

“We have to learn more about Cindy though.” Somehow. “Together. Because you said we're sisters.” It might be a hair-thin thread of hope to hold onto, but Squeaks holds it like a lifeline. And maybe that way she can give Des some hope too.

“I promise. Wherever I am, I’ll do what I can to learn more about her. We’ll compare notes when you visit.” And just like that, Odessa finds that lifeline and grabs on. She nudges Jac’s shoulder with her elbow lightly. “C’mon, little sister. Let’s eat.”

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