Baby Steps


aura_icon.gif wf_emily_icon.gif vf_kain_icon2.gif

Scene Title Baby Steps
Synopsis The Land of Misfits might be no place for a baby, but Emily catches a glimpse of an unusual Kain with the young of its tribe in the wild.
Date December 18, 2017

A Hideaway Garage

The radio is crackling at a low volume and it's freezing cold, but there's a fire in a barrel a small distance away. Far enough to be safe. And the tiny dirty-blonde girl bundled up in layers playing with a bunch of wires and a broken piece of another radio has a furrowed brow as she intently studies them. She's going to BUILD. For anyone who came with them through the portal, the child spent most of that trip on Kain's back in a canvas child-carrier designed for small children. She's definitely a petite one. Who knew that the Cajun actually had the girl's company on a regular basis now?? For those who are local, the tiny girl is most often seen in Elisabeth's company or that of Kaylee or Cassandra. She's not a complete surprise to anyone, but Liz has kept her protected and she's not really had contact with a lot of people in the weeks they've been here.

"Unca Kain?" the sprite pipes up in her high, clear little voice. "Why's this green one go to the black piece instead of that one? Don't they gotta match?" Child logic. Green wire should connect green anchors!

Emily's been more involved with things since Avi was injured. Lots of 'this should be easy, let me go do this for you. You rest. You heal.' that was begrudgingly agreed to. Delivery of supplies taken care of, she's been wandering the camp — saying hello to people she's not seen in a long time, and making new acquaintances otherwise.

The little ones were her most favorite to meet. Which is why she pauses as she hears the unfamiliar young voice, wondering, and then looking for the sound of it as it carries. She tilts her head as she positions herself at just the right angle to see the girl from afar. She doesn't recognize the child or the adult she's with. But she does let out a soft hmph at her logic, lips firmed into the ghost of a smile.

"Smart kid." she whispers to herself. How old could she possibly be?

When the Cajun's voice isn't immediately heard in response, the little girl looks up toward the far side of his 'workshop' and tips her head — he's not gone because he wouldn't leave her unsupervised. Which means he might be around the corner just out of her sight line. She has the exasperation that only small children can exhibit and be ridiculously cute. "Unca Kain! Did you hafta run to the potty again??" But no. There are legs jutting out from beneath a vehicle.

It's the snort of amusement that brings her hazel eyes around to note that someone is … what? Hanging out over there? And the child goes very still, like a bunny spotted by a fox. Wary but interested in the person standing there. "Hi?" Her tone is uncertain.

Friend or foe? She's learning fast in this world to be cautious.

"Hi there." is Emily's soft reply. She leans into the one forearm crutch she has with her today, then lifts her free hand to give the girl a small wave. "I don't think we've met."

She slowly crouches down to be more level with the child, the sinking action well-practiced and done without the slightest tremble to her posture. In contrast to the loudness of the child's voice, she continues to speak softly herself, like demonstrating it's the appropriate level to communicate at and to encourage her to do the same. "I'm Emily. Emily Epstein. You were working on the radio?"

Kain’s been under the nearby truck for a while now, making repairs on the cracked axle from the wear and tear of the wasteland. His legs hang out from under the vehicle as much as the truck hangs its ass end out of the bay doors of the makeshift garage it's parked in. But, Kain’s been down there a while…

No clink.

No clank.

No movement.

Oh, he's asleep.

Well… the strange lady hasn't reached out for her.

So although the little girl is still looking like she could make with the screaming and running, so far nothing untoward has happened. And she tilts her head, giving Emily a frank look-over. "Aura," comes the response. "Do you lib here?" Her volume control still isn't great, so she can't be that old… her size might indicate three or four, but her vocabulary suggests a bit older. "Unca Kain said this wire goes there an' that one goes there," she tells the stranger as she points, "but I think it's pretty if they match."

"Nice to meet you, Aura." Emily places her hand on her knee as she stays crouched. The question is one she takes a moment in answering before she shakes her head slightly. "No, no I'm not from right here. I move around a lot. I used to be from New York City." But she wonders where exactly it is the girl's come from.

She starts to smile again with a short, amused breath escaping her as she returns to the logic about the wires. "It… You're right, it does look nice when things match, doesn't it? But with this, you want to put opposites with opposites to create a circuit. The green ones don't pick up on what each other's saying, but the black and the green will talk to each other." Her small smile broadens a bit, and she leans forward to help emphasize, "They'll talk-talk-talk! all day long. Well, as long as it's got a power source." Em lets out a small chuckle.

She glances quickly over to the pair of legs from out under the truck, expression even as she avoids a frown. Bright, curious children shouldn't be left alone like this. They were little lights that could be easily snuffed out.

"Do you want some help with it? I have a few minutes, and you can show me all the work you've done." At least until her adult woke back up, either on his own or by a kick to his foot. "There's not a lot on the radio lately, but if we get it working, we can see if anyone's broadcasting?"

"You talk green too," the little girl says in a matter-of-fact tone. "But I don't. And we can still talk." She ponders the idea that you need different colors to talk to one another. The logic in that is not as obvious, but after pointing that out, she shrugs slightly. "Okay! Unca Kain snores. Don't be scared. He makes radios work real good."

Aurora scoots closer to Kain's extended feet, willing to allow Emily to help but apparently only if she's in physical grabbing distance of the man under the car. "Mummy and me libbed in a giant city with Yggy. And Unca Felix And Unca Lee." The little girl looks suddenly heartbroken. "An' then we came here." She looks up a bit shyly, "I don't like it here. I miss them."

Laying her crutch down by her side, Emily finally does frown as she sits down by Aura. How could she not? She remembers the 'aliens' (as Squeaks called them) that had come from… someplace else. A place where strangers would share food instead instead of stabbing each other over it. Someplace where everything hadn't gone to shit.

They'd brought a child with them? Here?

Emily's expression crumbles into her own type of heartbreak briefly before she smiles broadly. It's enthusiastic and bright. It was practiced, specifically for moments like these … when kids who didn't deserve how terrible the world was to them needed something that didn't remind them of that horror. "I talk green?!" she asks in mock shock, her grin a bit more genuine as she thinks about that. "That's primal. Maybe between you and me, we can get the radio working as good as your uncle does."

“Oi, Kain!” Woods loudly bursts in to the garage, carrying a shovel. The sound of his name being shouted jolts Kain awake, accompanied by the resounding clang of his head hitting the underside of the truck. Woods’ eyes widen and he stares at Kain’s squirming legs under the vehicle. “Oh, uh…” He also notices there's a baby here, and a child. Perplexing expressions dance across Woods’ face.

Grumbling emits from under the truck as Kain shimmies out on a flat of tattered cardboard against his back. There's a red spot on the center of his forehead, and when greasy fingers move up to it they leave a black smudge across his brow. “Jimmy Ah’m about t’feed you yer own asssss— ” Kain’s blue eyes flick to Aurora, then back to Woods, “ — ssssprin. To myself.”

Staring at Kain, Woods’ eyes narrow. “You're gonna feed me my own aspirin, t’yourself? Did I get that right, mate?”

Kain frustratedly smiles. “Yup.” Then, slowly, the Cajun pulls himself to his feet, noticing Emily. He doesn't say anything at first, just looks back to Woods. “Well spit it out, Benny Hill, the heck d’you want?”

“Oh. Right tha’.” Woods looks at the shovel, then leans over and sets it up against the truck. “Just returnin’ y— ”

Out!” Kain shouts with one hand held at his head. Woods grimaces, flashes a smile to Emily and Aurora, and swiftly ducks back outside.

Aurora jumps visibly when Woods comes hightailing it into the place, scrambling backward on her hands and knees to crouch on the far side of a pile of stuff with her head poked out. She is fascinated at Woods, her hazel eyes wide as saucers. She watches the exchange and then crawls back out into full view, awed. "Unca Kain… he was shiny!"

She does the Asian squat that many small children seem to be boneless enough to sit in for hours. "Embly wants to help wif my radio. She's green." As if that makes any sense at all. It does to her! Pointing at his face, Aura informs him, "You gots a owie on your face. Mummy says I kiss owies real good. It's not bweedin', so you don't get a bandaid."

Emily looks over her shoulder, forearm on knee, as Woods enters the garage. She winces sympathetically as she hears Kain's head hit the underside of the vehicle, but doesn't do much more than that. His just desserts for falling asleep with a child in his care, in her eyes.

The banter back and forth causes Emily to smirk wryly, shaking her head as she looks back to Aurora like 'listen to these silly old men saying silly old things.'

The child's suggestion to offer kisses to the greased red spot is met with a thoughtful 'hmmmm' before she interjects lightly, "Your Uncle Kain's a big boy. I bet you that's not even a real 'owie' for him." Better than telling her it wasn't a good idea to go sticking her face in grease, rust, and sweat.

Emily lets her arm fall back into her lap, the dusty, worn, black leather jacket of hers crinkling as she moves. She doesn't move to push herself up just yet. "You with her? One of them 'travelers'?" She glances up at him without turning her face up.

What she wanted to ask was why Aura had been left to her own devices, but she didn't trust herself not to swear at some point while asking.

“Who the fff— ” Kain starts to say to Emily, glancing at Aurora, then back, “ — ffffriend are you?” He looks immediately embarrassed at his inability to think on his feet when it doesn't involve a string of profanity. “No,” he says defensively at first, gently rubbing his head and glancing at Aurora out of the corner of his eyes. “I mean— yes. Just— Ah’ got on the bus one stop later than they did.” That's one way of putting it.

Kain stoops down as if normal business is happening and just scoops Aurora up in one arm, holding her with a little bit of a bounce. “They just tellin’ everybody our Ray Bradbury nonsense?” Kain’s blue eyes flick back over to Emily, and like a palanquin, carries Aurora over to her. “You believe it?” He asks a little more incredulously.

Because he's lived it and it barely does.

Wrapping her arms around the Cajun's neck, Aurora looks content when he lifts her up to take her back over where she started before Woods came barreling in. The man on whose arm she perches might say weird things, but to her, it's business as usual. She kisses his cheek and then kisses her hand to put the tiny appendage gently over the red spot on his forehead, grease-covered as it is. She tells him solemnly, "All better."

She doesn't have a contribution to the rest. She's five, what does she know of Ray Bradbury nonsense?! But she's definitely paying attention and listening, wariness about Emily having disappeared. Mummy always said no talking to strangers — Aura broke that rule when Emily came in, but it's okay now cuz if Unca Kain talks to her, she's not a stranger anymore!

Emily's expression is deadpan at the question of who she is, even if she's deeply amused Kain suffers from the same profanity problem she does. Hand on her thigh, she begins to push herself to her feet, grabbing the well-worn grip of her crutch as she rises.

"I'm Emily. Epstein." she hastily appends the surname to the introduction, changing her mind at the last moment about being formal. Who cares if her last name might not hold weight to the alien? — she was an Epstein, and she proudly owned that.

While she did believe that these people weren't from here, even if the specifics of it were beyond her, the 'one stop later' part is something that grabs her attention. That was new. The incredulous look Kain has is shared right back at him.

"You sure as hell aren't from here." is her forward explanation. (Hell's not a cussword, right?) She holds up her left hand, head tipping forward as she peers at him. "Hold up, though — you've — done this multiple times?"

Shock of that aside, she tries to keep down a rash of anger at the group. Her father was injured helping cover for these peoples' crash-landing, after all. "Riddle me this, then: Where had you all been before, anyway — Candyland? Because I don't get how you people could just pop out of the sky and not …" well, be more prepared for it.

This life's the only one she knows. It's hard to envision a world where she or anyone else didn't have to be constantly armed and ready to run or fight for your life.

Kain eyes Aurora for a moment, looking for all his worth like he's trying not to look touched by the fact that this child is too innocent to treat him like others do. When he looks back to Emily, there's no register for her surname. Someone who doesn't know her father.

“Yeah. Ah’ve done this twice now. Magnes and Liz? Three. First time was an accident, and they wound up in the shi— ” Kain rankles his nose and eats his words, “iiiiny place Ah’d been stuck in. Most of the yahoos we’re traveling with started there. It was worse than here, hands down, if y’can believe that. Last place? Nice on the outside, but…”

Kain hesitates.

“Let's just say it didn't agree with me.” A smile crosses Kain’s face. “So, Liz and Magnes are on their way back t’their home, an Ah’m doin’ mah damnedest t’find someplace that ain't on fire or full of hidden Nazis or lizard people or God knows what’s around the next corner.”

Aurora's hazel eyes meet Kain's and she smiles that genuinely sweet smile at him. Then he's talking to 'Embly' and now she's really not a stranger cuz he's talking about going home! She tells him quite seriously, "There's no fires or lizard peoples at home, Unca Kain." She pats his cheek comfortingly, although she's a little sad. "Mummy said we can't go back home to Yggy and Unca Felix and Unca Lee, though. The tunnel only goes one way." She wraps her tiny arms around his neck tighter, resting her soft cheek against his scruffy, dirty one without seeming to care about the scruff or the dirt. "It goes to Mummy's other home. I hope it's as nice as home." The world Arthur made is the only world she's ever known until now. For her, that was home.

With a soft sigh, she looks at the girl on the crutches and asks, "Are you comin' wif us? Last time there was lots of us." Well, not lots maybe, but she's five.

Out of all the things someone could possibly do to run away from their problems, Emily never would have figured swapping realities to be an option. It takes her a while to process that, for all her earlier nonchalance about discussing them both being from a mysterious someplace-else.

Aurora's question catches her off guard, eyebrows climbing. Go with them? She knows that the small girl didn't mean it, but the question leaves Emily sick to her stomach. "No, sweetie, I don't think so." The smile she flashes is an uncomfortable one, and she shakes her head slightly along with it. Like she's trying to shake the thought right out of her head before it has time to sink in.

When she looks back up at Kain, her expression lacks the silent judgement it did earlier, at least in regards to 'Aura'. The two of them clung to each other tight enough now that Kain was awake. "She's precious, isn't she?" It's rhetorical. "Keep a closer eye on her. You never know when a drone will come by, what trouble it could bring with it." She sighs unsteadily, not wanting to say much more than that. She forces a smile again for Aurora's sake, keeps her voice light to avoid making it sound like they're talking about anything too serious.

“Yeah, gee, thanks for explaining it all Clarissa.” Kain snipes at Emily with a furrow of his brows. “It's not like Ah didn't get my assss— ” Oh. “ —sssociates degree in… mechanical… engineering.” He didn't.

Sighing sharply, Kain looks from Emily to Aurora and then down to the floor a moment before sweeping a look back up to the teen. “Yeah…” Kain grumbles. “Yeah don't you worry none about that. Ain't no Tin Woodsman gonna hassle this bag a’sugar.” There's a smile, fleeting, and then Kain looks back to the ground.

Aurora grins at him when he looks down at her. Then she pats his cheek sweetly again and lays her head back down on his shoulder. 'Embly's' green talking is fun, but clearly Unca Kain's not going to just let the older girl play with the radio. And anyway… it's cold and getting colder and Aurora's getting tired. So instead of saying anything more, she shoves a thumb in her mouth — totally gross and not something she'd done in years before they landed here but well… things are stressful. And there on Kain's shoulder she seems content to remain until such a time as either he makes her get down or she falls asleep right where she is and he puts her down somewhere.

Kain's initial reply earns a mirthful snort of breath from Emily, a look that softens as he promises to watch over her. "Good." she says gruffly in response, working her hand around the grip of her crutch. She needs to be moving on, but she lingers on watching Aurora for a moment longer before she can finally nod at her adult. "I would worry. Kids … they're the whole future. If we somehow survive long enough for this administration and its memory to die, instead of them taking us out first, they'll be the ones to carry that torch to a brighter tomorrow."

It was a big if. But one she believed in, one way or another.

"Good luck, for what it's worth. Try not to get yourselves or anyone else killed on your way out."

She lets out a slow exhale, forcing one last reassuring smile. "Bye, Aura — I hope you and your uncle Kain make it out there."

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