Animal House


colette_icon.gif eimi_icon.gif gillian_icon.gif hailey_icon.gif

Scene Title Animal House
Synopsis Colette gets a monkey off her back.
Date March 2, 2018

Brooks Residence


Morning light filters through tall windows into the comfortably decorated brownstone in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Williamsburg. The scent of coffee lingers in the air from a fresh pot percolating on the counter in the kitchen. Past the kitchen, in the living room, Eimi d’Arcy lays across a long sofa, blanket draped over her shoulder.

Nearby, Colette Demsky paces back and forth, a cell phone in her hand. She checks the screen every few minutes to see if she's missed a call or a message to no avail. She circles back to where Eimi is asleep, watching the teen for a while with a concerned look on her face. Upstairs, it sounds like Jim has finally tired himself out trying to get out of the trunk.

An hour ago she had called Gillian and left her a message:

Hey Gillian, uh. It's Colette. I don't know if you knew, or not but uh… Hailey — Gerkin? From back in the Lighthouse? She's apparently somewhere in New York. I've — I apparently have her monkey? I don't know if you… know where she is? Can you come pick up her monkey, maybe? Please? I'm at 64 South 4th Street over in Williamsburg.

No returned call, yet. She's hoping Gillian just shows up, or better yet Hailey does. But for now, Colette is content to let Eimi nap as long as she can.

It’s Gerken, and we’re on our way.

Gillian had tried to send back. But apparently the cell phone signal got lost on the way, cause the message never got sent. Instead, there’s a car that pulls up outside, and a blonde steps out of either side. Gillian hadn’t unlocked the door until they were parked, cause she remembers how Hailey had pretty much jumped out of a moving truck when they got within range of the injured horse. She didn’t want a repeat.

Especially not with her arm needing to stay immobilized.

But she’d told the girl of the contents of the text, had hurried over as soon as they could.

Jim, hopefully, was waiting. And Gillian won’t admit she has diapers in the trunk. She just hopes they fit (with adjustments for the tail), cause that monkey is definitely wearing them if it’s staying in her brownstone.

Gillian was right to be cautious.

Inside Colette's house, somewhere upstairs, there's a trunk that rattles as high pitched screeches emanate from it. The little monkey inside is throwing himself against every wall and the lid in an attempt to get out. He is distressed and that feeling is something that creeps into Hailey like a cold shiver that just won't let go. The moment Hailey could feel Jim, she was ready to leap out of the car to run to him. Cars are faster than feet, though, so she fidgets in the passenger seat growing ever impatient as her guardian follows all the traffic laws. The empath doesn't give a fig about stop lights or yield signs and is more than happy when the journey is over. Even though she couldn't jump out of the car, her seatbelt was unbuckled two blocks ago.

"He's in trouble, Gillian, hurry!" Hailey urges as she runs to the door, taking the stairs two at a time. Then she's pounding on the door, and ringing the bell repeatedly, a cacophony that's likely to wake up the sleeping teleporter. "Jim!! Jim I'm here!!"

The sound of the doorbell repeatedly ringing elicits a sharp look to the front of the brownstone. Colette eases up to stand, sees Eimi stirring, then pads across the floor on bare feet through the dining room, then the kitchen, then finally to the front door. Hailey can hear it unlatch, and when it opens she’s standing face to face with someone she hasn’t seen in years. The last time Hailey had any real contact with Colette was when she still bore the surname Nichols and lived at the Lighthouse. Memories of a broken limb, feral dogs, and everyone coming to rescue her.

Colette’s blind eyes fix on the young woman in front of her, one no longer a child, and her expression shifts from frustrated to sentimentality. Past Hailey, Colette focuses on Gillian with an unapologetically wordless expression. But, Colette knows Hailey isn’t here to catch up. The sling her arm’s in is noted, and Colette just steps out of the way to invite them both in to the house.

“He’s upstairs, he… The girl who brought him here, Eimi? Neither of us could keep him from wrecking the place. I’ve got him in a trunk upstairs with a blanket and some food.” There’s a tension in Colette’s voice, nervousness, uncertainty. She holds the door open for Gillian, a more fond smile there, but still tempered by subtle anxiety.

Eimi pulls a knee to her chest as she wakes, and there's a moment of sheer panic at waking up somewhere unfamiliar, but it passes as she gets a grip on her surroundings, turns to watch, but doesn't quite get up yet. She's slept soundly even with the noise, a moment of safety not enough to make up for years of fatigue. But it's a start.

Not far behind Hailey, Gillian’s clicking her car alarm on and stepping over with a exacerbated look on her face. These kids, running her rampant. But she understands that the monkey is like family to the girl, more than a pet. In some ways she thinks he’s an extension of herself. When the friend who had helped with the last animal fiasco meets her, she gives her a long look and repeats, “You put the monkey… in a trunk?” It’s a statement more than a question, but from her sigh, she at least understands why Hailey might be panicked.

“Well I guess I get to deal with him running around in my house now, so there’s that— I wonder if she can teach him to stay on the roof.”

She wonders if she can find a large cage that they can put together on such short notice, so he doesn’t wander off too far. “At least he’s here. And hopefully not hurt.” It’s more than their trip to the Bronx to try and rescue the monkey had gleaned. She’d been afraid the poor thing had died.

“Do you know where she found him?” she asks, not seeing this Eimi girl yet, so asking the one who might know. She’ll let Hailey get to her friend and rescue him. Gillian has a feeling she’s the only one he’ll be happy to see under these circumstances.

Hailey weaves past Colette and, once again, takes the stairs two by two to get to the trunk. Shrieks from both monkey and young woman can be heard from downstairs before the empath makes her way, slowly, down the stairs with Jim’s wrapped around her neck as he rides on her hip. There are tears, too many of them, and Hailey is hiccupping through her sobs. A combination of finally seeing her best friend again and the slowly forming bloom of blood on her shoulder are the likely culprits.

Sniffling, Hailey finally sees Colette and chokes out a, “Thank you, thank you..” repeating it a number of times before she slips out the door to sit on the front stoop with her best friend. Jim is so dirty and now Hailey is as well. She doesn’t seem to care about the fleas or banana, or even the fact that the monkey soiled itself in its panic to get out of the trunk. She’s just happy to have him back in her arms.

Eimi finally gets up, wrapping the blanket around herself a little bit, and then the teleporter simply appears at a third point near Colette and Gillian, enough time to see Hailey reunited with Jim slipping out onto the porch. The teen doesn't follow, though, and instead answers the question that she overheard asked.

"Staten Island market," she says, and then glances to Colette as she falls silent.

Colette looks over at Eimi with a faint smile, then to Gillian with an apologetic look about pawning off the monkey. “I did the best I could,” she admits with an awkward grimace. “Sorry if he got spooked,” Colette wraps one arm around herself and adds, “Gonna need to wash that trunk…” to herself.

Though with the reunion of girl and monkey complete, Colette at least seems relieved. “Eimi here did all the hard work. She was brave as fuck, teleporting from Staten Island all the way t’here.” The photokinetic offers a blind look over to Eimi and puts a hand on her shoulder. “You're lucky t’have a friend like that,” she adds, shifting her attention to Hailey.

Exhaling a sigh of relief, house mostly intact, Colette lets that hand fall from Eimi’s shoulder. “I'll give you two some space,” she says softly, brief eye-contact made to Gillian as she starts to meander into the kitchen.

That makes sense. They’d taken Hailey to Staten Island, perhaps the same people had grabbed her monkey with the intent to sell it.

“A lot seems to be going on in Staten Island lately,” Gillian responds in a soft voice. Though it’s outside the Safe Zone and therefore not within her actual jurisdiction, with the thefts going on these days she’s starting to wonder if they need to send someone out there to deal with things, to investigate this market, if they’re not already. “Thank you… Eimi?” She is sure she heard the name right. A brave teleporter —

A teleporting teenager. Like the one spotted stealing small amounts of food. She tilts her head, but the small amounts of food don’t exactly explain the bigger thefts. “How’s your teleporting work, if I can ask? You can go from Staten to here?” She’s both curious, and trying to find a reason not to ask further questions.

Hailey and Jim are outside the open door, having a little ‘getting to know you’ time. Once they’ve re-acquainted, she hugs him to her side again and steps up and through the door. She gives Eimi a genuinely grateful smile and at the same time, Jim reaches for her too. Yes, he’s a dirty little monkey but he’s hard to keep contained now.

In the blink of an eye, Eimi finds Jim’s arms looped around her and he’s riding on her back like a knapsack. He’s cheeping and peeping in her ear, the same little sounds he made when she first let him out of the cage.

“He’s thanking you too,” the empath says, “at least, that’s what he’s feeling. You must have saved him from somewhere really bad.”

"Eimi," she affirms. "I met Hailey out at the zoo, I… I guess a month ago or so. And I remembered the monkey, so…" The question from Gillian (and Colette leaving her alone with the other adult) has Eimi pause, and so instead Jim gets a smile, and she reaches up to pet him, and nods.

"Not all at once," is the answer she gives, and then she explains. "It took some time." Which might leave further questions, but the tone and expression of the teenager suggests that however much she trusts Colette to come here, that trust isn't extended to others on faith.

Another pause, and Eimi pulls out first some more leaves from her pocket, which are handed up to Jim if he wants them, and then a monocular scope that's turned over, kept out long enough for Gillian to see it, and she says, "I need to see where I'm going."

Needs to see where she’s going. That makes Gillian nod, as she checks the little teleporter from the markets off her mental list of suspects, making a mental note to make sure the SZC does as well. No need to attack dead-ends, especially since this dead end just helped one of her kids. Hailey might be fully grown up by this point, but part of her will always be that young kid she first saw when she started helping Brian at the Lighthouse.

She’s definitely thinking the Staten Island market is looking extra suspicious now, though.

“I’m glad you helped. If you ever need anything in the future, I’ll owe you.” She’s leaving out that she already intends to turn at least their side of the investigation into the missing food off her tail, assuming it had been her teleporting around. How many teleporting teenage girls could there by in the area? She might be surprised.

“Hailey, do you want me to go pick up some more supplies? Jim looks like he needs a bath.” Badly.

In the kitchen, Colette looks back and has a befuddled look in her face. Her mouth opens, closes again, one hand to her forehead. With scuffing, bare footfalls she makes her way back to the foyer. “Gillian,” Colette gingerly takes her by the arm. “You're lovely, but let’s have the girls catch up without us looming. They've earned it.”

With an apologetic smile, Colette gently pulls Gillian away before she can get an answer to her questions, affording the older woman a look as she does. “Give ‘me a minute,” she whispers politely, not sure if exactly what Hailey and Eimi’s dynamic is, but is certain it doesn't involve her or Gillian. “Plus, I needed to talk to you at the adults table.” She says in another, conspiratorial whisper.

At Gillian’s words, Hailey actually takes a closer look at Jim because up until that point, she honestly hadn’t noticed. “I guess…” she drawls slowly before looking at Colette, she recognizes the woman, finally, and smiles. “Hi Colette! Sorry, I didn’t actually…” She points to Jim with her eyes, then Eimi, “… Jim. Can we use your bathroom?” And maybe her toiletries. “I can clean him up a little bit, and clean up after him.”

She’s a little used to it.

Turning to the teen, Hailey extends her good hand, because Jim is still wrapped around the other occupant of the kids table. “Come on Eimi, if you want to help, I don’t think he’s going to let go of you right now anyway.”

There's a little bit of a grin at Hailey, and then Eimi's brow furrows downward as she glances at the sling, and the other girl's shoulder, and she nods following after Hailey.

"What happened?" is the question that gets asked, though it's phrased without an expectation of an answer. But as the adults leave, the teleporter definitely relaxes a little bit. "'Course I'll help," she agrees. "It was… pretty shitty, I can't say I blame him to be happy to be safe." The statement entirely and conveniently elides any feelings that she herself might be experiencing.

“Bathroom’s that way!” Colette calls back over her shoulder, contimusing arm-in-arm with Gillian. The absent-minded greeting is let slip away. Colette knows a thing or two about awkward reunions.

It feels like only yesterday that Colette barely qualified as an ‘adult’ Or maybe yesterday was nine years ago. Gillian can’t help but feel old. Seeing all her Lighthouse kids grown up into beautiful little (and not so little) adults hasn’t helped with that sudden old feeling. “Go clean up,” she adds as an aside as as she’s pulled away for whatever it is Colette needs to discuss with her.

“What’s going on?” she asks in a soft voice, once she’s sure they’re out of usual earshot of the younger ones. Especially if the younger ones take the monkey to get a bath. And Hailey too, could use a wash up, for that matter.

“I was about to ask you the same thing,” Colette notes in a hushed voice in the kitchen. “I didn't— I didn't know Hailey was in New York, and her friend Eimi,” Colette motions in their direction, “says she's living in the Bronx?” Concern paints itself across her face. “Is she in some sort of trouble?”

Wrapping her arms around herself, Colette flicks a blind-eyes stare into the foyer. “Her friend is homeless. I ran into her before down in Brighton. I bought her lunch, gave her my card.” The way Colette’s brows pinch together, it's the same look adults had to give her. “She said she rescued the monkey from a Staten Island market.” They both know how bad that place is. “Is there anything we can do for them? They need help. Warm bed, comfort, someone to watch out for them…”

Much like their old and departed friend Eric Doyle, Colette falls apart into a heap of parental instincts when presented with imperiled youths. Maybe it's just first-hand experience being a good teacher on the perils of being young.

Leading Eimi in the direction that Colette pointed, Hailey steps into the bathroom and then closes the door behind the — two — three of them. “I got shot when I was scavenging,” she explains to Eimi, out of earshot of Gillian who she knows would frown on the activity. “Then they negated me and I woke up on Staten Island.” Aside from the shoulder, the young woman doesn’t seem too worse for wear, at least not now.

Outside the bathroom, the distinct sound of the bathtub faucet being turned on mutes any noise that might bleed both ways.

As long as the tub is running, the girls in the bathroom are safe to talk. “What were you doing on Staten? Why would you go there? I mean..” Hailey’s speaking quickly now as she splashes her hand through the water to test the temperature. Before depositing a disgusted Jim in. “… it’s the worst place you could ever go.” This coming from a person that used to live on the Island, before the war, and who now lives outside the safe zone.

"I was looking through the market for books," Eimi says, grabbing soap and having it at the ready for when Hailey needs it. They're bathing a monkey, an activity in which Eimi lets Hailey take the lead but stands by at the ready if she needs to intervene to keep Jim in the tub, or hand things to Hailey or anything like that. "I don't like… really really scavenge. Much." There's a furrow of brow. "But sometimes when I'm exploring the ruins I find stuff, and I'd traded a few things there before… so…"

A sigh, and Eimi shakes her head. "I'm not gonna go back," she says, "but I mean. I can get out of places quick." She continues, "I was just kind of walking, and then I was looking at a booth. And then there was someone buying Jim, so I got in there and got hold of the cage they had him in and I ran," and by ran she means teleported, but semantics, "as fast as I could until I got off Staten."

"And… try not to get shot again, yeah?"

“I didn’t know she was in New York until she showed up on my doorstep. With an untreated bullet wound,” Gillian responds in a deadpan fashion. She’s not too pleased with certain things either. “She’s afraid to register, because of what happened with the previous system, and unless she commits a crime they can’t force her to.” She’s already gotten dangerously close to committing a crime. “And the Safe Zone requires SLC-Expressives be registered if they want to live here.”

It’s a whole thing, one that she’s been racking her brain trying to come up with a solution for. “She also won’t leave Jim or the animals stranded in the Bronx. I was thinking I could make a suggestion to the Safe Zone to reclaim the old Brooklyn Zoo in Prospect Park. Use Expressives to round up some of the wild animals still roaming the area around the Safe Zone and house them properly…” And she thought she could get Hailey to agree to stay if her animals could stay too…

“But with the food thefts and shortage, there’s no way I’ll be able to get that project approved.” It’s causing her a headache just thinking of the paper work as it is. The food shortage is one of the bigger problems. Way bigger than misplaced wild animals from the old Zoos and a girl who lives in the Bronx.

“Staten Island, though — that we might be able to do something about. The men who shot Hailey? They’d taken her to Staten Island until she escaped. She thinks they were involved with Pure Earth — I’m talking to a SESA agent about it now. He thinks it could have been human trafficking, though he doesn’t want me to repeat it, officially. It’s speculation. But they’d negated her, so they’re dealing in our kind.”

Colette’s expression darkens more and more as Gillian continues. Brows knit together and lips pressed into a thin line, she transforms from the image of comfort and compassion into the woman that showed up on her doorstep at Tavisha’s request over the summer. Scrubbing a hand at her jaw, Colette nods a few times.

“Ok,” Colette frames it as best as she can. “I might know some people I can talk to about the trafficking. I'm— kind of on the outs with the Wolves right now, but I'm scheduled to go back on active duty soon. I'll bring it up to them, see if we can organize something on the side. I'm going to need to be diplomatic with how I approach it though.”

Drawing in another breath, Colette slowly paces the kitchen. “There might be somewhere Hailey can take the animals in the interim…” comes to mind as Colette pauses, one hand at the back of her neck. “What if we just smuggled them in to the Safe Zone?

Colette arches a brow with a eh? eh? expression to Gillian. “We used to smuggle all sorts of shit back in the day. We use Hailey to wrangle them, with you boosting her range. We bring them all the way ‘round to the north bridge past Riker’s, then maybe use the subway tunnels after that?”

“We smuggle them all into the Brooklyn zoo’s ruins, and what's the MP going to do? Smuggle them back out? Like you said, they've got bigger problems.” Cracking a smile, Colette tips her head to the side. “You got one more crazy mission in your old bones?

There is a monkey in Colette’s bathtub playing in a lot of bubbles right now. He’s got a little bubble moustache and beard earned from trying to eat them (he was disgusted) and is trying to throw fistfuls of them at Eimi and Hailey. As he splashes around Hailey holds him still while instructing Eimi on how to wash him.

“… after that he should be good, we can let him play a little bit before taking him out.” How much damage could he possibly do, contained like this?

In answer to the request, Hailey gives Eimi a smirk and a wrinkle of her nose as she flicks the teleporter with bubbles. “It’s already crossed off my bucket list, so I’m looking at jumping off a bridge now.” Her sense of humour is back and if Jim’s mood is any indication, she’s happy too.

“What about you though? Do you have somewhere to live yet?”

Eimi giggles at the bubbles, picks up a few to throw back at Hailey, and grins. "I'm… working on it," she says. "Someone else I met… I need to get stuff that I'd stashed places, but I might stay with her a while when I do. She owns Cat's Cradle?" There are unvoiced worries in the statement, a slight furrowing of brow. "She said I could stay a while if I needed to. I might take her up on it." Small damn world, it is. A shrug follows. "I'm doing alright in between though, I found a few abandoned buildings I'm using mostly."

Jim get splashed with a few bubbles in return (or possibly retribution) as well, and the younger girl adds, "Your monkey grows on people." Eimi hadn't liked the monkey their first encounter, but any residual anger has melted away from Jim's charm and the playing.

Smuggle them in. “I honestly had not considered that.” Gillian has to admit, trying to be a mostly law abiding member of the Citizen’s Watch. Mostly. But getting Hailey out of the un safe zone? Might be more important than following the law. And could help make the decision for them once the food crisis has been averted. Because she has no doubt they will get through it. They’ve been through seemingly endless blizzards, wars, a siege— she’s sure they can figure this out.

“I’ll ask Hailey and the rest of the Lighthouse Kids that are in town, see if they’d be willing to help. I’m sure Lance will, and Joe. They’re pretty reckless.” She is just glad that they’re still, despite everything, somewhat children. Even if she feels they failed them in many ways, too. “Park Slope is already undeveloped, and I don’t know of any plans to get it up and running anytime soon. Under cover of night, with a little help to keep them quiet, we could probably do it.”

And between Lance and Hailey, they could probably keep the animals close enough together to keep them silent.

“Lance— Lance and Joe are in town?” Colette’s eyes widen. She hadn't thought of those kids in years, but they were there through some of the hardest and coincidentally best parts of her life. A smile flutters up over her lips, and then dims just as fast. “If Lance knew about Hailey living in the Bronx I'm going to feed him into a wood chipper.

Breathing in deeply, Colette exhales a slow sigh. “Ok. Let's— we can figure this out. We’re two fully grown adults, we can smuggle some animals. Maybe I can conscript Tasha and Tamara on this one…” her head tips to the side, threading a lock of hair behind one ear. “Tamara probably— already knows, so it'll just be a matter of time.”

Blind eyes flick back to Gillian. “Eimi seems like a good kid,” is a bit of a non-sequitur. “Good for Hailey, I think. Hailey’s exactly what Eimi needs right now too. Someone her age to give her something to look forward to.” She's speaking from experience.

Meanwhile in the bathroom….

Jim has decided that he’s finished with the bath and tried to leap out. Unfortunately the bottom is a bit slippery and he manages to splash water all over the two young women giving him the bath. Hailey is the first to let out a squeal and call out a disapproving, “Jim!!” Before she tosses a towel to Eimi.

“You’re going to have to get him out to dry him off, I just have one hand.” So instead of helping with the hyperactive monkey, she’s sopping up water with the hand towel and facecloth that were on the rack. It’s an afterthought when she lifts up the sopping linens and gives Eimi a sheepish look, “You think these were for decoration?” She really hopes not… because they’re not only soaked but prooooobably flea infested along with everything else Jim has touched in the house.

"Ack," Eimi doesn't quite squeal, but it's close and the sound has much higher pitches than usual. Instead, Eimi uses the towel to scoop up Jim, wrapping the hyperactive monkey in the towel and… she's humming again, and grinning a little as she works to get Jim dried off. The monkey doesn't exactly want to cooperate, and it's more like wrestling but it eventually works. "See, all better now," she tells Jim.

Then there's a stifled yawn as she looks back at the blanket that she'd stowed in the far corner of the bathroom. Which amazingly only got splashed a little. "Probably not decoration but probably not for monkeys," Eimi says. "There we go." The mostly dry monkey is let go, towards Hailey so that maybe he'll go sit on his person. —

“Oh, Lance knew,” Gillian responds with a shake of her head. She recalls how he’d been all I told her this would happen when she stopped by to see him. At least she had known the boy was there. Not Joe or Brynn, but Lance. He’d given her his address, after all. “But she’s stubborn. What was he supposed to do, physically kidnap her from the Bronx and drag her against her will when she happens to be friends with a wolf pack?”

Speaking of, “We’ll probably have to leave the wolves outside, but I’m sure she can go visit them, if she wants. As long as she doesn’t do it alone. I think the fact that she was alone, with only animals, made her a target.” They sound like low-life scavengers in a way, only preying on the weak and the secluded. Or that’s what she’s guessing.

At the mention of the teleporter, she nods, looking in the direction that Colette had sent them to bathe the monkey. “She seems like one. I know that the news report had been talking about a teleporting teenager who they wanted to talk to about the thefts, but— I don’t think she’s done anything wrong.” Maybe some petty theft, but really, who hasn’t done that once or twice when alone and hungry?

Oh. “Your house might have fleas. Hailey had them when she was brought to the hospital. I imagine the monkey likely did as well.” It’s said in an apologetic fashion. “I already had to dip poor Chandra. He was not happy.” At all.

Raising one hand, Colette pinches fingers to the bridge of her nose. “I’m sure there’ll be something under the sink that wasn’t there yesterday, just for such an occasion.” She admits in a mildly tired voice.

There goes my afternoon.

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