Another Boat


emily_icon.gif squeaks3_icon.gif

Scene Title Another Boat
Synopsis Sometimes the best way to get your message across is to not say anything at all.
Date October 7, 2019

Praxia and Safe-Zone

Squeaks' apartment within the Ziggurat and Emily's home in the Safe Zone

Blue eyes crack open to find her living room barely illuminated with pale moonlight. It wasn't even completely dark when Squeaks had curled up on one end of the couch, determined to rest — but not sleep — and then find some supper. Her body obviously had other plans. It's done a better job of shutting down when the aches and exhaustion caught up to her than she could have thought. Sleep would likely claim her again, but as seconds creep toward minutes the vague and dreamlike thoughts that had woken her up grow louder and more persistent.

There's something she's been meaning to do, something important enough to risk using the stolen phone again.

Praxis Ziggurat Executive Residential Level

Praxia, California Safe Zone

October 7, 2019 12:11 am local time

Joints and muscles protest as the young teen drops onto the edge of her bed. She doesn't bother with turning on the bedside lamp, but leans over to find a book stuck half way beneath the bed. Rolling onto her side and laying her head on her pillow, Squeaks opens the book. The pages were hollowed out weeks ago, cut to fit the unattended phone she'd taken from the kitchens. It's the phone she claims and powers on, the book is placed on the nightstand.

There's no plan moving forward, only the idea that she needs to alert people back home. There isn't even a solid understanding of what she's alerting to. Only that they must know. Fingers hover over the keypad for a moment, then slowly begin inputting a number.

Hopefully she can get the message across without being found out by anyone.

Emily’s place of residence

New York City Safe Zone, New York

October 7, 2019 3:12 am local time

Emily Epstein's first thoughts on being roused aren't pleasant ones. The vibration of her phone on her nightstand is loud, jolting her to awareness. Phone palmed into her hand, she blearily pushes herself half-up onto an elbow. After, the unfamiliar number is considered with a bewildered expression and squinted eyes.

And disappointment. Who the fuck was calling her at this hour? Robo-dialers tended to keep from 9-5. Ugh. Probably a wrong number. What fucking area code is that anyway? she wonders.

Cradling her phone to her ear, Emily groans out a "Hello?" more groggy than she thought she was, eyes narrowed in the dark of her room.

“Hi.” No apologies for calling so late. Or early. Squeaks sounds somewhat apologetic, though, in that one word response. The time wasn't even considered, just the thought-noise, the importance of it was like bees buzzing inside her head.

She still had no idea how to deal with that. So…

“My mom's here. And Lene.” Small talk will have to suffice. “They have their own apartment.” Shouldering deeper into her pillow, she stares across the darkened room. “And everything is still okay. Just… um…”

Squeaks sighs through her nose. “I'm missing home today. I had a dream that us and Brynn were making cookies.”

Suddenly Emily's not one hundred percent sure she's not dreaming. The calling number is consulted before she pushes the phone back to her ear. She falls back into her pillow, listening and peering up in the dark. When Squeaks shares she misses everyone, her brow knits together. "Oh, honey…" she sighs, hating that her first instinct is to say something that her mother would say.

She shakes her head against the pillow, free hand coming up to rub at the side of her face and hopefully ease the tired from her voice. "We miss you, too, you know. Miss you and worry about you. Joe wants to take the whole world on and drive out there and get you." Emily frowns slightly before adding, "I got so worried I even went and talked to Eve about what we should do. She's ridiculous, though. She… grabbed me by the throat at one point, so I left."

The why behind that's pretty important, which is a big piece of information Squeaks is missing. Emily blinks as she realizes it, decides not to hesitate on it.

"… I manifested. Dealing with that's been kind of scary."

She pauses. Then, frowns. "I tell you we miss you and are worried about you yet? I don't think that can be stated enough."

“Woah really?” Squeaks’ excitement piques a little at the news. “That's primal. It's scary at first, then…” She's not really sure. She had manifested without even knowing and already had some kind of instinct to using it before she was told about it. After a short, awkward pause, she chokes out a faint laugh. “Still really primal.”

A second moment of silence follows heavily. In the darkness of her room the young teen stares into the nighttime void.

“I miss you too,” she admits quietly. Their last conversation hadn't gone very well, but that never meant she didn't want her friends. “I wish… I wish we could talk like before. With the butterflies and the boat. There's…” Squeaks’ voice fades as her words approach topics that shouldn't be shared where anyone could hear. She hesitates, then continues.

“I want to tell you about living here.”

Emily closes her eyes, shifting under the blankets and pulling them up better around her shoulders while she remembers the boat. "I wish we could, too, but that was a favor. My ability's not anything like that." She plants her foot against the bed, creating a tent with her knee and the blanket. It elicits a disgruntled mrow from the shadow curled at the foot of her bed as his position is jolted. "I'm sorry I got startled and woke up. It just…" she trails off, wondering what could even be said without heading back to that place of frustration and fear and protectiveness.

So, when Squeaks segues into something related but somehow different enough those emotions aren't top of mind, Emily is glad for it. "Tell me about it," she suggests. She'll try to be open-minded.

“It's really different.” That's the first thing that comes to mind, how different Praxia is from New York. Squeaks closes her eyes to think how to describe things without revealing things that she shouldn't. It's not easy. “I didn't know it could be warm here in fall. It's not like that in New York.”

A yawn interrupts her thoughts. It's late here, while it's very early over there. “Do you think…” She rubs an eye with a knuckle. “Do you think that… there could be another favor? With the boat?”

The question brings Emily to let her eyes wander the dark ceiling above her. “It…” she starts, fumbling to come up with a definitive answer. “I mean…” It’s almost grimacing that she bares her teeth, unable to even force herself to give an answer that might provide false hope here, and leave them both stranded, waiting for something that might never happen. “I don’t know. I don’t think so. Before, it was for a very specific purpose and for very specific collateral, and it still took weeks to find you, okay? The person who brought me to you— I don’t even know her, really.”

The sigh that leaves her is pained, toes curling into the bed. “I know you’d say, ‘well you haven’t asked yet, so how can you know, Emily?’ or any other thing that makes sense, but I have absolutely no idea and I don’t— I don’t want to give up what time we do have.” A beat passes before she elaborates, “Now.”

Emily furrows her brow. “You know?” she asks quietly.

“I know.” Squeaks’ response is quiet, too. She doesn’t offer an argument, Emily has already pointed out all the flaws in the denial. And she’s tired, the weight of it drags in her voice. “It’s just…” She pulls in a deep breath, holds it until her chest starts to feel like it’s burning. “It’s just really important. Maybe… maybe I can do a favor for them.” She doesn’t sound particularly hopeful, there’s possibly even a hint of reluctance when she makes the offer. But once said, she doesn’t take it back.

Emily just shakes her head in the dark. “You’re stuck where you are, aren’t you?” she asks, no bitterness in her voice, even though it roils through her after— residual anger about the entire situation.

It’s brief. It passes. She’s too tired to be hateful on that complicated a level at the moment.

“If it’s not important, you’d not have called.” Emily acknowledges, pushing herself up into a sit and letting her comforter seep around her. She reaches forward over her knees to lay a reassuring pat along Kettle’s side, one long stroke down his equally-sleepy form. “But I’ve only got so much I could do. And when are you going to get another chance like this?” Her lips purse together. “We’re wasting time. I don’t want—”

She blinks rapidly, pausing as she abruptly mentally catches up with the complex gravity of the current moment. Squeaks wouldn’t be calling unless it was important. And Gillian and Lene were out there, Squeaks was reunited with family both adopted and biological. Before, she’d been singing praises about Adam, saying he wasn’t such a bad guy. Saying she wasn’t going to come home. She’d also made it clear they made threats against her if she reached out to anyone from home.

And now Squeaks was calling her.

Her voice is tighter, more focused as she speaks again. “Is there trouble in paradise?”

The question rouses Squeaks more than the conversation has, and she has to take a minute before answering. She'd been so caught up on not saying anything that she had implied problems existed. They might, there isn't any denial coming forward, but she can't think of a reason to go sounding alarms yet.

It's a confusing thing. She needs her friends to be aware, but not for the reasons they might think.

“No,” she says carefully. Squeaks pushes herself up on an elbow. “Not… this phone is…” How to explain without drawing attention. “It's not like you think. It's… like the ink-lady. A cypher.” In other words, Just trust me.

Like the ink lady? Emily sits on those words in particular, drawing lines. The ink lady, trapped in books. She's worried about someone in her phone. With frustration, she tilts her phone away from her face for a moment before recradling it against her cheek. "Well isn't that a bitch." she mutters succinctly.

"Listen, I can either try to find a way to … break the cipher, if you can pick up the phone anytime," Emily says carefully, eyes closing. "Or find another boat, if it's possible. But…"

She breathes out slowly, trying to keep from force or worry entering her voice as she asks, "Just— we'll try to figure this out, but you know all you need to ever do is just say you're ready to come home, and we'll make it happen. You know that, right?"

“Yes.” Relief fills the answer. At least part of her message was told and understood. Squeaks nods, even though it can't be seen through the phone. “Yes, I know. I have to stay here a little longer but… but my mom is here now. And Lene. Adam and Joy, too. They're all taking care of me.”

The young teen sinks into her pillow again, muffling a yawn with a hand. “It's really late here. I'm glad I got to talk to you again, though.”

“Me too,” Emily murmurs. Her brow crumples into an uneven furrow, the desire to hug her missing friend strong. But things don’t work like that. She leans forward to stroke sleepy Kettle’s side again, taking in a steadying breath and setting her chin on her knee. “Please take care of yourself. Be safe. Come home safe.”

Her head shakes slightly at herself. “Sweet dreams, Squeaks.”

“Night, Emily.” Assurances are left unspoken, but they're hinted at in her voice. Squeaks is a survivor. She's gone through worse and come out stronger for it. She lingers on silently for a second longer, then lowers the phone to end the call.

Another boat. Where can she find…

The thought drifts on the tide of sleepiness. She isn’t even sure where she’d find another. Except maybe if she tried to go herself. At least Emily understood. Maybe if the ink-lady were somehow more whole than she was, messages would be easier to get across.

Squeaks yawns and drops the phone into the hollowed out book. The cover is flipped closed, and then she nestles herself deeper into into the warm security of her bed. Another boat. It’s going to have to be her own abilities to carry her message to her friends.


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