Back Up The Rabbit Hole


brynn_icon.gif kendall_icon.gif

Scene Title Back up the Rabbit Hole
Synopsis Crowds, lights, and noise were too much for Brynn so Kendall offers to walk her home, and she offers him crash space.
Date 03/19/21

Subways leading to Wonderland

The long, winding, graffiti-covered subway tunnels leading to Wonderland.

There comes a point in time where loud noise and bright lights stops being fun and starts being… a headache. There’s all those people, all the alcohol and ‘who knows what’ wink wink, and for someone who is actually an introvert, it’s not really Kendall’s cup of tea.

The subway tunnels leading to the joint are mostly deserted; everyone who wants to go is there already, and most people tend to want to stay until the wee hours of the morning. Lacking the appearance he had when he first entered, which fortunately security didn’t notice, (because why would they track people leaving?) Kendall steps out and away, scanning around carefully. Sure, no one who isn’t supposed to be there would be in all likelihood, but can never be too careful.

Once he’s out of sight of said security, a backpack suddenly appears out of nowhere on his back, and he checks the contents. Good, everything’s still there.

She shouldn't be out here. No one should really traverse these tunnels alone. The subway tunnels had a bad reputation before the war. Now they are host to a huge population of homeless and … well, if you're a Lighthouse Kid, you know about things like ghosts and electric rats, too. Brynn knows better than to be out here on her own, but the flashing lights have got her head ready to explode and she can't be sure that the colors she's seeing are even real. Pain behind her eyes and the loud noise even through an earplug have driven her away from the source of the noise. Besides… coming out here with Kendall is fine, right? Raquelle knows Kendall! That makes it A-OK.

The petite brunette pauses with a hand against the wall, her gait more pronouncedly off-balance out here in the dark. She moves much slower, and while he rummages for a backpack that comes out of nowheres-ville, she pulls her phone out to text her siblings that she's going to head for home. And where and with whom. Cuz Lance'll otherwise have a conniption. Or a coronary. Either is bad.

When she's done, she points the lighted screen of the phone toward Kendall so he can see what she says to him. Do you actually know how to get out of here, now that we're down here?

Kendall slings the backpack back on his back and it disappears again, and he squints at the screen. Not quite the easiest way to communicate, even with this snazzy expandable phone everyone has nowadays. Oh well, better than nothing. After reading it, he looks around again, and then nods. Another flick, and the ‘subtitles’ come back, though he does say them out loud as well. “Well enough, I have a pretty good memory and spatial awareness, plus I lived here a while."

Kendall pauses. “Not HERE here, I meant New York. I was a… well I guess it’s not a secret anymore. I was a Ferryman after all. I got around."

Being 17 and insisting on being treated like an adult did eventually allow him into their ranks, after all, especially with how useful his ability was when trying to keep everyone hidden.

She reads what he tells her and then raises her eyebrows. Her thumb moves quickly across her phone screen — she's getting expert at one-handed texting! — and she shows him again, her grin lit by the screen's light. Lighthouse Kid. It should be all the explanation he needs for why she might know this area as well.

Brynn pauses and doesn't yet push herself off the wall. The loud music can still be heard even from here. Even with the earplug, she can still feel the rumble beneath her feet where the bass is playing. But she studies him in the dim light of the screen and then adds to the text, Would you mind walking with me home? Don't want to get partway and collapse or something stupid.

Oh really! Hmm. Can’t say I remember you but I didn’t really… talk to you guys much. Just helped get you out of danger." Surprises abound, guess it’s a small world after all. Ahem. “And sure, though I guess it depends on where ‘home’ is. Er… are you going to be ok walking?” Collapse? Kendall doesn’t know what her story is, but it sounds pretty serious.

He moves closer to her with a look of concern, noting how she’s leaning against the wall. “If it’s not too far I could probably manage to carry you if that happens. There isn’t much to you after all.” he jokes.

If it were one of her brothers making that comment, he'd find himself whapped upside the head so fast he wouldn't know what hit him. But it's not, and Brynn appreciates the concern and the fact that while he asked, he also made a joke of it. She rolls her gray eyes expressively in the phone's screen-light and fast-types, Home is a reno'd firehouse on Liberty St. Some of us pitched in and bought it… can't help ourselves, it's a new safehouse that we called 'Lanthorn'. She shows him that much and then indicates that she's going to add to it.

Remember all the crazy crap that happened back then? Stuff's still going on — I won't collapse exactly. Crazy stuff happened to me and caused me some trouble. Can't feel my right side, and so when I trip, I swear to God I look like Wile E. Coyote running off a cliff and then land flat on my face. All I need is ACME. So no carrying necessary, just company.

She pauses one more moment and then adds, PS - just because you're Jolly Green Giant doesn't mean there's nothing to me! Her grin is cheeky.

A grimace as he reads her explanation, and Kendall reaches a hand up to rub his head in an exaggerated manner. “I don’t know what you mean by ‘back then’, stuff never stopped being crazy for me. It just followed me….” he hesitates at that, no, he’s not ready to talk about it. “…elsewhere.

Provided Liberty Street is still where I remember it being, I think I can handle walking you home. Too many things are gone now, so I guess that makes it easier to remember what’s left.” then he reads the PS and smirks at her, striking the pose and *becoming* the Jolly Green Giant for a minute. Heh. “Well I hope you eat your vegetables anyway!” then it drops away again and he snickers.

Her laughter is nearly silent, but it's genuine. Brynn pushes off the wall and hooks the cane she's using over her right arm, slipping her right hand to hold onto his elbow. Her left hand types. I'd just sign for you, but it's awful dark down here. But at least she can do *that* when they get up top.

Brynn didn't miss the hesitation in his tone when the subtitles stopped scrolling for a couple of seconds. But she does offer, Maybe someday it will stop following all of us. The crazy, that is. She doesn't push him to share more than he's ready to talk about or anything. She just nudges lightly with a grin. You lead, and this way if I trip, you'll know.

Once she grabs his arm, Kendall nods and starts off, glancing down at her. “Don’t phones have a text to speech mode?” he suggests. That could cut out half of the middleman, after all. Of course, why would a deaf person even consider using that mode? “Well then again the hard part here is you typing, not me reading, so I guess nevermind. Maybe I can learn more ASL.” languages never really came easy to Kendall but he can try.

If you trip I’ll catch you and *then* laugh.” wink.

Aww! She's never thought of text to speech mode! And then he's giving her crap and she's laughing that near-silent chuckle again. Her thumb flies. You're gonna fit *right* in, she retorts as she laughs. Then adds, If you're serious and might hang around, though, Joe teaches classes at the Doyle Library. … Pretty much all the LHK and most of the Ferry types know it cuz there were a few of us who needed it. It became both convenient and useful during the war, too.

And then she stumbles just a bit, as it occurs to her what that might come across like and she hastens to add, But don't feel like you have to or anything!

When he reads what she types, his expression freezes as he reads Doyle’s name, and unbidden memories of walls being painted pink with horrible things, Santa, people getting shot, and… well let’s leave it at that. He grits his teeth and closes his eyes for a minute, shaking his head. “I’m glad they named a library after him.” she can’t hear how quiet his words are since the subtitles stay the same, but body language says quite a lot.

I’ve had enough travel to last a lifetime, I don’t plan on leaving unless I have to. So why not, it would be useful in situations where it’s difficult or a bad idea to speak out loud.

She doesn't understand the words, but his tone as he says them is recognisable even to her. She tugs him gently to a stop. We still miss him very much too, she types. None of us have forgotten. Though maybe he can't see it as well in the screen's low light, there is a gut-deep understanding of his grief.

Her smile is small but present as she types, If you want to hang out, we have an open door at home. And maybe you aren't one of the Kids, but you can't be *that* much older, so you won't stick out awkwardly.

She pauses and teases, Can't wait to see how long it takes you to ask me for earplugs. Joe talks *a LOT.*

When she pulls him to a stop, he glances down towards her questioningly, and reads her text. He chuckles and nods in response. “Thanks… I’m hoping to find a place of my own at some point though. Maybe I’ll be the one to run a safe house this time…” he trails off again, looking worried and a little upset, but his expression clears up pretty quickly. He can at least pretend everything’s fine.

I hope you’re not calling me old, there. Not sure I like your emphasis. I could pass for any age I like.” and just like that, though it doesn’t feel any different, he suddenly looks like a teenager again, even an inch shorter. Smirk.

With an exaggerated roll of her eyes, Brynn just lets her amusement and mild exasperation convey themselves in her expression. It would take longer to type 'of course you can!' than it really needs. She's laughing at his humor — that's enough, right?!

When she does type and show him the phone, it asks, So if you've just gotten back to town, what are you doing? For work and a place to stay and stuff? You could crash with us until you get a place, if you need. The offer is a sincere one, and she does look a little worried for him. She isn't sure what state the housing lottery is currently in, but she had a very bad experience with it.

As he reads her offer, he smiles, and goes back to his normal, *old* self. Hmmph. “Well… if it isn’t an inconvenience, I’m kinda… staying in a place I probably shouldn’t at the moment.” guess his earlier vagrant disguise wasn’t all that far off, except for the age and the lack of grooming. And other things.

As for work, well… my first order of business is to try and find as many people as I can that I…. used to know. I need to go talk to Raquelle again to see if he knows what happened to….” another pause in the subtitles. “Other people.” But let’s not go into details about that, that’s stirring an ant’s nest. “As luck would have it, I already have everything with me.” What, that backpack he had earlier? Or has, it’s still there, after all.

She has hold of him with her right hand, which she's told him she can't feel … but Brynn's strength in it isn't gone, and she squeezes his arm a bit tightly. You're living in the tunnels or something?? Oh *hell* no. He's Ferry! That's not okay, and he can see in her suddenly purposeful expression that it's not.

Thumb flying, she tells him, It's not trouble! It's why we got Aunt Gillian to help us buy the place — so people like us had a place to go! A safe one where there aren't creepers and Pure Earthers waiting to snatch us and stuff! The small brunette is clearly agitated. And if you're looking for Ferry people, half of them are on speed dial with us, it seems like. You tell me who you want to find and I'll see if we got them.

For such a quiet young woman, she has a whole lot to say.

Ah, no, I found one of the minor safehouses that was still intact, but no one’s lived there in years, didn’t even find any beer cans. It wasn’t exactly in a good spot but I made do.” Kendall shrugs, then as she gets quietly talkative, he pauses to read her thumbflying. “Well the one I’m really looking for wasn’t Ferry, she was… another group. I was hoping she would be at that club, but…” again, it’s not really something he seems eager to talk about, but at least there’s a bit more information.

All right, I’ll take you up on that, at least until I get back on my feet, as it were. And I wouldn’t mind reconnecting with others from Ferry as well, thanks. I had to… delete all the numbers from my phone, and then after I did it I realized I didn’t actually know anyone’s number myself.” the downside to relying on technology.

They would all have different numbers now anyway, Brynn points out. Her agitation eases a bit when he says he's crashing in an older safehouse. The Zone isn't a huge place… so if you want to find someone, asking around will usually get you there. It seems simple enough to her mind.

She shoots him a shy smile as they walk along toward the openings to the surface. If it's illegal, Joe's the one to ask. He's keeping his hand in on that side of things. Lance is the one you go to if you want legal stuff — he has ties.

Of all the things someone might expect out of the rather clean-cut young woman, *that* sort of information probably isn't on the list — until one takes into account where and with whom she grew up.

And Kendall is not surprised in the slightest. He pauses as they reach the exit to the tunnels, scanning the area for anyone that might catch them leaving, suddenly alert… probably more than he needs to be, but can’t be helped. He snorts a bit at his own behavior, heaving a sigh. “Acting like we’re in danger of being attacked. Hah. And well I think I got it covered for the illegal side of things myself.” and no, he won’t go into details, so don’t even ask.

Eh, that’s probably true too. I still remember the frequency for the radios though… but of course no one’s probably used those in years and I don’t have one anyway.” how useful.

The fact that he stops like that goes alert only brings him higher in Brynn's estimation, honestly — he can see her make a satisfied nod as he turns back to her, and she relaxes subtly. She tips her head at him and types into her phone screen to show him with a serious expression, Hailey almost got kidnapped by Pure Earth people just outside the walls. It's not as safe as you'd like to think. There've been other incidents too.

And as they emerge into the lighter above-ground world, her expression only looks more solemn. She wasn't kidding. There was a reason she asked him to walk her home and that she texted what she was doing and with whom to her family.

It’s the places that look safe that you have to watch out for, precisely because you expect them to be better.” at the mention of Pure Earth, he sneers, shaking his head. No commentary on that, his expression is all that’s needed to see his opinion on that group.

As they go through the streets, he doesn’t let down his guard. He feels strangely naked without one of his disguises on, but this isn’t the place to play around, nor to make the change without being noticed. Ah, well. Hopefully no one thinks his face looks punchable. Or shootable.

I think I know what building you’re talking about when you said the Lanthorn. Interesting name, LHK.” he chuckles at that, turning at a corner. Seems like he didn’t lie before, he does know the streets reasonably well.

She is visibly more at ease, though still alert to her surroundings and watchful. But out here with better ambient light, there are lines in her face. She hasn't said a single word about it, but the way she moves and has her eyes slightly squinted, she is in significant pain. And still, she's paying attention. Brynn types, Well, none of us are kids anymore. But I think we'll always be Lighthouse. So when the letters pop up, I think we still always identify.

Now that they're in the open, she also seems to realize that she's holding onto his elbow tightly and seems to be a little embarrassed. She moves to let go and use her cane instead. It's a bit of a juggle and she winds up dropping the phone, making a pursed-lip look of annoyance at herself when she does. And then she sighs heavily, because she's not going to be able to get that.

The plaintive expression is also self-scolding when she signs, Please? she hates asking for help like that. Makes her feel stupid.

Kendall wasn’t lying when he said he didn’t know how to read sign language, but he can make a guess as to what she wants him to do. Before the noise of the clattering phone even fades, he bent down and scooped it up, offering it to her with a flourishing bow. Heh.

Well I hate to break it to you, but it takes a bit more than just saying you’re not kids anymore to make it true. Trust me on this.” Kendall remembers many conversations with the ‘adults’ where he kept insisting that with little to no results. It was barely enough they let him join the Ferrymen, but his ability was too useful to not want it available.

As he returns it and says that, she flashes a grin. Checking it over, Brynn uses the phone to type again. that is a fact!!!!!! the 'adults' of the Feery still have that tendency, even now.

Juggling herself into place so she can walk — albeit a bit more slowly than before — she adds, Raised as combat soldiers and they still want us to do college and have 'normal' lives. Shes not bitter. Her expression holds a fond affection for the people she's referring to. When her gray eyes turn up to him, she shrugs and types another line to show him. Normal in our world is expecting to be attacked at any time and building stashes and safehouses.

It's a somewhat brutal way of seeing the world, but it's the world they know.

The turn of the conversation draws a wince from the older guy, and he sighs heavily. “Due to, erm… extenuating circumstances, I didn’t even finish high school.” extenuating circumstances being he was actually dead for a month, but whatever. “And now I get the feeling like I’ve got a lot of closed doors in my future. There’s only so much you can get by with without that. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to anymore at this point.

Apprehension in the future is a common side effect of not having anything to put on a resume, after all. “You’ll regret it if you don’t do it. I probably need to look into it myself but…

It's one of the few sounds he's heard her make and Brynn let's put a 'fffft' sort of noise. Joe is doing college, Lance is working with former Ferry people at SESA. None of us had traditional educations. And no one expects it much anymore of people our age either. slanting him a look, there's a moment where she winces visibly but then types, You can't be but a couple years older than me. You will definitely find something — heck, Wolfhound is all former Ferry. SESA has lots of them. Aunt Gillian's around. Aunt Abby's around. Any one of the former Ferry will help.

After all, the LHK and their associates are scattered far and wide all over town now.

And if you want the … less public side of things, go see Aunt Kaylee at RayTech.

“Kaylee?” in his surprise, Kendall forgets the subtitle. Oops. “Ah… perhaps. But I’m not sure I would want a job just because I know someone, without deserving it. I did hear about Raytech but didn’t really… make the connection.” oh dear, does that mean Valerie’s still around? He needs to apologize to her.

SESA… heard about that too, over here. You said that’s where most of them are….” well that’s a lot more hopeful. “Definitely not Wolfhound though. I’ve had enough of that.” he grimaces, slashing his hand to the side in rejection.

Brynn nods her understanding on that he's tired of the fight. Although her gait is keeping them moving slower than he otherwise might take them, they're still making steady progress. And although she's stumbled very slightly, she has caught her balance both times. Typing and walking is hard. She does it, though.

Aunt Kaylee's brother hires people who want to work — formal education not as much needed, from what I hear. Job training and stuff. She shrugs. You have options! Former Ferry rules the Safe Zone, she quips.

Or at least, they have it wired for sound, even if they aren't ruling it.

Heh. I’ll keep that in mind.” and because it’s one of the few words he actually does know, he signs out Thank you. to her. “I guess having connections is the real way to get by here huh.” well that’s always been the case, to be honest, but now that he’s in the right group for it, maybe things aren’t so bad.

By the way, for your information, I am 27, so a few years older than you think.” There’s a fine line between being comparable in age to ones who probably didn’t even hit puberty the last time he saw them and from being considered ‘old’, but surely 27 isn’t considered either of those things, right? “Old enough to be able to do whatever the hell I want, young enough to be ABLE to do whatever the hell I want.” smirk.

Brynn's grin has a wicked twinkle. Oh hell yes, on the doing whatever you want. We're all 21, so you're really not old at all. Of course the LHK probably have a skewed perception of an age gap anyway. It does seem like a huge gap when you're very young though. Not so much now — sometimes the LHK have more in common with old soldiers than with people their own age who weren't combatants. But it's always been in who you know.

There's a moment where she winces again and then starts moving just a bit more quickly. The explanation is short and Sign but pretty clear. Sorry. Headache.

The gist is gotten. “Hey, if it’ll help you can hold my arm again, I can hold your cane. We might move faster that way.” he pauses and then grins. “Or the offer to carry you still stands, we’re almost there anyway.” Kendall is stronger than he looks, after all. “Really, it’d be no problem.

She blinks for a long moment, apparently wrestling with how to reply, a faint flush of color rising in her cheeks. The head shaking of 'no' is pretty universal, although to which thing she's looking embarrassed about is in question. Brynn's hesitation is ended when she holds out the cane to him in silent acceptance of the offered arm to hold again, though she still looks a little sheepish. With her right hand secured there, she actually can thumb-type a little easier and more quickly because she trusts him to not let her step anywhere that she'll trip and she doesn't have to watch where she's going.

I can't go home getting carried! My brothers will lose their minds or something thinking I got kidnapped and rescued again or some such thing, is the reply when he finally sees the screen. Hence maybe part of the explanation for her sheepish expression.

The sign for 'thank you' is offered, modified to use her left hand for it, though. Guess I don't like asking for help any more than you do, she teases gently.

Well that’s a good enough reason as any. As for maneuvering her through the city streets with no fear of tripping, well, insofar as it’s possible to walk anywhere in the city without risk of it. Even before it got blown up to hell, multiple times, the streets weren’t exactly stellar. Oh well, he’ll at least make sure she doesn’t fall in a pothole or something.

Guess my deep seated desire to be a knight in shining armor will have to wait another day then.” he deadpans. Then again, he was more offering to be the steed but nevermind that. “I suppose brothers being what they are, it might end up in you being teased to death anyway once the initial alarm is over and done with. And I don’t fancy having brothers decide I was a threat.” Not that Kendall, an only child, has had much experience with brothers, the closest he got was Magnes. Wonder where Magnes is, come to think of it? …he’ll come back to that later.

Shrugging a bit, Brynn nods her agreement about brothers. They're not OVER protective or anything. Just that between Hailey getting shot and almost kidnapped and then what happened to me and Jac and a few of us, they're … on edge. That's probably the best way to put that.

Vicious stabs of brilliant color in her field of view are heralding a bad migraine in her very near future, but she doesn't want her new friend to know about it. So she shoots him a shy grin. You're already a knight in shining armor for today tho. You're walking me home! It might take a little more than that simple act usually, but the underground concert was definitely a bad idea to let Jac talk her into.

Well considering you offered me a place to stay as well, I’d say you also did some rescuing on your own. Is anyone there right now? I wouldn’t know what would be worse, you bringing me home with you like this after a party, or them coming back to find me in the house already.” don’t chicken out now, Kendall. “I’m assuming you told them I was coming already?” she didn’t show him ALL her messages, after all, odds are with all her typing she sent a few out as well.

Awwww! She did, didn't she? Glad this rescue didn't require blades or guns, Brynn types back, her cheeky tone only evident in the grin she shoots him. Yeah, told them I'd be bringing you. Lance might be there, they're in and out a lot. Firehouse has apartments and you can use one of the empty ones. She hesitates and then adds, You don't have to be in a hurry, tho.

Eek! Is that too forward? Brynn has no idea how that might be taken but he seems like a good person, and she hopes he sticks around some!
She fumbles the phone like she might be intending to add something else and then decides to just give up the ghost on getting her foot out of her mouth. The blush will just have to give her away.

The corner of Kendall’s mouth twitches a bit at that but he doesn’t comment on it. It’s fine, he knows when not to tease someone. “Better than most of my life the last ten years or so. I’ve been sleeping in a lot of different places, it’d be nice to sleep somewhere safe. Like a house.rimshot. “Throw in a shower and you might never be rid of me.” If inquiring minds are wondering if he’s using illusions for smells, well, he’ll deny everything. At least he doesn’t have old man smell, that was earlier. “Especially if said shower is hot.” is added hopefully. He can dream.

Oh, the man is in so much luck. Brynn's soft smile is still shy but it lights up her whole face as she chuckles that nearly silent laugh. Wow — you're gonna think you died and went to heaven, then. Hot shower, electricity, a door that locks, and regular meals. Just for pitching in around the place while you look for work.


They've grown up to give the same kind of compassion they were shown as orphaned or otherwise homeless Slice kids.

Oh man. Sold.” Kendall tilts his head up, closes his eyes, and just smiles, relaxing a bit. Seriously, he’s so looking forward to that! “Should probably go shopping for clothes at some point too. Only so many outfits I can carry around with me.” he does just have the backpack, with…. Apparently all his worldly possessions in it? Not much of a life can fit in a bag that small.

Oh speaking of which, that’s it, right?” he gestures to the firehouse in the distance. “Safe and sound, no muggings or crazy axe murderers to be found.” and inadvertent rhyming, whoops. “I’ll, uh, let you go first.” he hesitates awkwardly at that, suddenly looking shy of all things. He has to MEET people now? Yikes.

His hesitation makes her grin knowingly. She taps her finger to her head to say 'smart man.' One never knows who might point a gun at people — JOE, WE'RE LOOKING AT YOU! — when they don't recognize them. Brynn lets him into the house, introducing him silently to his first greeter — the Goldendoodle he saw at Raquelle's.

The dog is delighted with a new playmate!

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