Bestest Friends


aura_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif squeaks3_icon.gif

Scene Title Bestest Friends
Synopsis Just because it was forged in another place and time doesn't mean it can't still be true.
Date January 14, 2019

Secure Facility, Kansas City, MO

A couple of days to get used to being in one place is enough for now. Everyone's been very kind, if still amazed at the things they've seen. The dining room has no set hours — if you wish to eat and there's not something hot up, you can make it for yourself. It's here that Elisabeth and Aurora can be found, having toasted up some bagels and found bananas and yogurt, along with cream cheese and peanut butter. The little girl is in heaven. Her face is smeared with a little bit of peanut butter where she's taken a bite, and she's talking around that bite at a mile a minute.

"And I can even go to school?" she's asking.

"Aura, your mouth is full. Finish what you're eating before talking please." Liz's tone is quiet — weary but not impatient with the child. "Yes, of course you can go to school."

Blue eyes capped by curly red hair peek around the edge of the doorway into the dining room. It’s a habit that’s been made by the owner of those eyes in the short time she’s been alone since after the events at the Sunspot Observatory. It’s one of a lot of old habits from a life she doesn’t really own anymore, but in a strange place, and without her parent present, it’s easy to pick them up again.

Those eyes find Elisabeth and Aura and watch with open curiosity for a long time, a lot of seconds pass without a word or breath coming from their owner. Squeaks recognizes the woman. The face is the is the same one that stared back from the picture on Richard’s desk. The little girl isn’t familiar. But she seems happy enough, and that definitely probably makes Liz an okay person too.

The young teen straightens so she can slink through the doorway. Quiet feet carry her skirting around empty tables so she can grab a plate and fill it with food for herself. There will probably be pocket filling, too, but that’s supposed to be a secret.

Aurora chews obediently and swallows then asks, "Like, a really real school, like back home?" She sounds like she misses home. When she realizes someone else has come into the room, she looks over and looks startled. And then excited. "Squeaks! Look, Mummy, it's Squeaks!" She drops her bagel on the plate and goes to jump down. "I thought you wasn't coming wif us! I din't see you…."

Elisabeth's hand on her shoulder stops her and it gives the child just that moment to realize… and wilt. This isn't her Squeaks. She bites her lip and looks at Elisabeth, who smiles gently. "It's okay, sweetie. Remember? We talked about you might see some people who look like the people you knew."

The blonde looks toward Squeaks and offers, "If it's not too weird for you… she met another version of you in our last stop. They were… friends. You're welcome to join us if you like."

Aura kicks her feet a little, clearly uncertain but hopeful.

Hearing a tiny voice chirp her name, Squeaks’ head swivels so she can look at Aurora and Liz. There’s a touch of suspicion, or maybe just nervousness. The whole don’t talk about it still makes her uneasy, but these are two of the people she saw tumble out of a hole in space-time. And that’s something that’s had her curious since forever. People who moved between superstrings is pretty primal.

Her eyes flick to Elisabeth then back to Aurora, and after a minute or two she nods. “Okay.” Even though she agrees to joining them, she still scuttles away from the table to get food. It’s only a minute or two before she’s back and sliding into a chair with a plate filled with foods set in front of her chosen seat.

“Hi.” The simple greeting is offered, with a curious look passed again over the two traveler people.

The little girl, so excited to see her, now looks intensely curious and a little more shy. Tipping her head to the side a little she says, "You talk the same. Do you like to play hide-and-seek? I'm a real good hider — I can get real little. Other-Squeaks teached me!" She goes back to her breakfast, words piling up even as she shovels in a piece of banana. "Do you live wif the Lighthouse? Squeaks said Lighthouse means home, but sometimes it means going somewhere new and maybe there'd be new Lighthouse here too."

Elisabeth pulls in her lips, trying really hard not to laugh. Because for all that she's been through, all that she's seen, Aurora's resilience has been a positive thing. And all the questions mean that even if there are still hard times ahead to help her deal with all of it, the little girl is definitely going to be okay. "Swallow first," she reminds again. The relief is evident as she looks at Squeaks.

"If she asks too many questions, just tell her."

“Kind of?” The answer becomes a question, and Squeaks’ eyes dart up to Liz then back to Aurora. She seems fascinated and puzzled both by the questions. Not that they’re coming so fast and together but just that they’re being asked. “There’s a lighthouse on the island, but it’s broken. Because of the fighting a long time ago.”

It’s a simplified version of the war, and what happened to the only lighthouse that she knows about. The one that her siblings always talk about. “I used to hide all the time, but not very much now. Even though I still remember how to. And I find hiding things.” Again she looks at the grown-up, trying to guess how much is okay to tell, or if her answers are even the right ones.

It's now that Elisabeth recalls what Squeaks was doing in those chaotic, frantic moments just after she'd landed. "You manipulate sound, right? Is it all sound? Or just parts?" And then she pauses. "I'm sorry — that was rude. You don't have to answer if you'd rather not. Sound is what I can do with my ability. So I felt when you were standing next to me. It was … a little like my mother's, it felt like."

Aurora, blinks her hazel eyes at the simple answer and seems to be thinking about that. Then she simply nods and asks, "Do they have schools where you live? I was gonna start school before we left home, but then the places we visited din't have schools, so I din't go. But I can read my letters and count to 100!"

“No?” Again, Squeaks’ answer really sounds more like a question, because she’s somehow unsure of how to answer. “It’s… it’s just how it works. I can make these sounds and… and usually I can see things. And find things. But the machine…” Her face scrunches, remembering the sounds that actually really hurt. “I fixed it. I could hear it wasn’t right and the knob wasn’t working so I did my sounds and it fixed it. Then you said to the lady with you to make sounds at the ghost. So I did that too.”

The little girl is nodded at. “Yes. There’s a real fancy school.” The teenager finally starts arranging the foods on her plate so she can eat, placing bread things together on side and fruit things on the other so they’re no touching anymore. “Some people do teaching too, but not in school,” she continues while setting things just how she wants them. “And the library has classes to teach reading and signing and …maybe other things too. My mom runs the library.”

Elisabeth nods at the explanation — mainly she'd been curious whether this Squeaks had the same ability as the other Squeaks because some people's abilities seemed different from world to world. "I appreciated the help," she replies. "I don't…" No. Not going to think about it for now. Not yet.

Aurora and her perfect timing. "Your mummy runs a liberry??? Primal!" She claps her hands together, forgetting that she has a piece of bagel with peanut butter in one hand. Oops!

Liz just rolls her eyes and immediately helps the girl wipe her hands on a paper towel.

“The ghost thing was kind of scary,” Squeaks says quietly, like it’s also a secret. “I didn’t know what else to do, but I did know I could make sounds kind of like the guns.” She tried to match the sounds anyway.

There might be a question that follows, but it’s interrupted with Aurora’s peanut butter hand clap. She makes a face, like a small and quick grin. “Yes. The Eric Doyle Children’s Library. She’s the boss, and there’s all kinds of books and computers and maps. It’s not huge, but I like it there.”

Doyle. Elisabeth looks down. He's one of the ones who didn't arrive. "I think he would probably like that, from what I know of him." Which is practically nothing except for seeing him with his girls. It was clear that the children were everything to him.

She grins as she releases Aurora's clean(er) hands so the little girl can bounce in her seat and keep eating. "It sounds like a wonderful thing, this library." She pauses and then says, "I don't know how you did what you did, or how I did the same thing on the other side. I'm just grateful beyond words that it all worked."

Stuffing a piece of banana in her mouth again, Aurora is just swallowing it when she breaks in, "It was all zappy and scary! Unca Kain din't want me to look, an' he said hold on tight, so I did. But I was really scared it was gonna zap ev'ybody. Mr. Mateo could zap people but he said it wasn't nice to do that."

“I fixed the sounds.” Still simplified, it could be simply that Squeaks doesn’t feel details are necessary. Or she just may not know exactly how to explain it. “They were messed up and made my ears hurt, like drilling into them hurt. But I could hear another sound, two parts and they didn’t match up right and so I thought adding more sounds would help.”

She looks at Aurora, wide eyed because it was scary on her side too, and bobbles her head nodding. Even though she didn’t watch a lot of it — trying to get the sounds adjusted took concentration — she saw the shredded paper that tried to enter before everyone got the portal working right. “He’s smart making you not look and hold on.”

Aurora nods immediately. "He's real smart. He teached me to put wires in radios and make 'em work," (he really just let her play with them) "and he teached me how to fix cars from underneath. We got real dirty one time when it spit oil. Unca Kain said a bad word." She looks at Elisabeth makes the 'oops' face. She wasn't supposed to tell that part. And then she goes back to the other thing. "Even when he says bad words, though, it looks pretty. I like it when he talks. He tells stories, too."

Elisabeth quirks a brow. She has a filthy mouth herself, though like all the adults she tries to watch it around the little ones. She has to hide a smile when Aurora talks about how pretty he talks. Ohboy. "It was quick thinking and I'm pretty sure it's one of the only reasons we were able to get here, Squeaks. Which makes you the hero of the day, in my opinion," Liz tells her easily.

“Grown-ups say a lot of bad words, but also there’s lots who try not to.” But sometimes they mess up, Squeaks knows this. She leans forward a little, eyes flicking up at Liz for a second. Hero? Her shoulders bounce up in a quick shrug. She’s not so sure about being a hero.

Resting her chin in her hands, she looks at the littler girl again. “His words look pretty? Like… you see them like if they were in a book?”

Aurora considers that question. "Sort of… like he talks in pretty colors. Ev'ybody does," she tells Squeaks in a matter-of-fact tone. "Mummy says most people don't see sounds, but I do." She shrugs, chewing on another bite of bagel.

Elisabeth lets Aurora explain it her own way and stays out of that conversation.

Sounds as colors? Something about it seems both impossible and not, and for a good long second Squeaks wonders about the maybe of it happening. “I see sounds,” she explains slowly. Even though it isn’t exactly what happens. She sees the way sounds bounce off things, which isn’t the same as seeing sound itself. “Seeing colors is pretty primal though. I can’t see it like that.”

Kicking her feet now, Aurora is casual about it. "Other-Squeaks said she could find hidden places wif sound too. But Mummy says what I do isn't like that. I just see things different," she says while she eats. "It's fun." She seems to just accept that powers are something people have and that hers isn't one. "Mummy's all blue mostly, an' Unca Felix is sorta pinky-orange. But Unca Kain is sorta gold, like honey only brighter."

“I thought he might be more gravel colored.” Squeaks’ tone is speculative. She wouldn’t know know Kain’s voice from anyone else’s from that day, and there was so much going on anyway. But he looks like a gravel kind of person. “What’s my color?”

Elisabeth is surprised that Aurora's talking so much about it, but she doesn't seem worried. She's enjoying her coffee — it's the first real coffee she's had in almost two years.

Aurora tips her head thoughtfully. "You ever had orange and banilla ice cream?" she asks. "Like when you mix em up, that's maybe the same color."

Face scrunching up, Squeaks tries to picture the color. “Like orange but… not really bright like real orange color.” She stares at the foods on her plate, trying to pick out a reference point for the colors — ice cream isn’t exactly easy to come by, and she can’t remember ever having some anyway — but maybe she picked out something that’s close.

“That’s real primal,” the teen says to cover the pause. There’s not really orange anything that she’s picked out. Her toes, under the table, tap together for a solid second before she looks up at Aurora and Liz again. “What’s your names?”

Elisabeth helps out with, "Orange and white mixed together, kind of." Oh! Oh geez. The blonde is chagrined. "I'm so sorry… I'm Elisabeth, this is Aurora."

The little girl pipes up with a complete non sequitur. "Do you like bananas?" Because she's got one here to share and offers it out to Squeaks.

Chuckling, Liz asks, "Squeaks… do you mind if I ask how it is that you sorta got pulled into all this?" Because she hasn't seen an adult near this young teen and it seems crazy to think that SESA brought her in. But that seems like the only real option.

“I like almost all foods,” Squeaks admits easily as she accepts the banana. She turns her plate around and chooses a poppyseed muffin to offer Aurora in trades.

“I don’t know.” The teen looks up at Liz while selecting a sausage link and wrapping it with a pancake. “I work for Richard and Aunt Kaylee and Richard said he needed me there. I had to call my mom on the way so she maybe wouldn’t worry.”

Aurora grins. "No fank you," she says around another mouthful of her bagel. She kicks her feet lazily on the stool, seeming content to be here and with her mother. Or perhaps its that she can eat as much as she wants without worrying where the next meal is coming from that has her so happy — hard to say.

"You … work for Kaylee and Richard?" Elisabeth's brows rise. "Okay." That's a new one. Squeaks seems kind of young to work at a big company. But she winces slightly. "Ooooh. I'm betting that phone call is not going to be enough to get you off the hook with your parents for taking off… although I don't know your mom, so I don't know for sure."

Nodding, Squeaks sets the muffin on the table in front of her plate, then takes a bite of the pancake-wrapped sausage. “Yes,” she starts explaining after swallowing her first mouthful, “I run errands. Like deliver papers, and run messages, and get water. They had a spot in the newspaper that said they were hiring, and Aunt Kaylee said yes when I asked.”

She tears off another bite, but this time with her fingers instead of her teeth, and squishes the pancake and sausage together. “I think my mom knows you. And Aunt Kaylee does. They both saw the tape I found that had you and some others in it trying to make portals.”

"Ah," Elisabeth nods to the information about what Squeaks' job is. "That makes sense." And then she tilts her head. "I know Kaylee…. Richard said something about the tape. Who's your mother, Squeaks?" Her curiosity abounds as she tries to figure out which of the many people she knew back then adopted the teen. Because she has to be adopted — none of them had kids back then.

“I found it in the Underneath.” She can still find her way, through the parts that are almost too small for crawling, past the tank and up the ladder to the Con Ed place. Squeaks finishes the bite she’d torn off before answering with, “Gillian Childs. She adopted me. For reals. She’s my mom forever now.”

An immediate smile flows across Elisabeth's expression. "Gilly… You couldn't have chosen a better mom, kiddo," she tells Squeaks quietly. A hand absently brushes down a flyaway strand of Aurora's hair.

The little girl finally sets the last bit of her bagel down, apparently replete. Her little belly has a bit of a bulge even as she leans back, and it makes Elisabeth laugh and poke her lightly. "You need to do something fun. We should find someplace you can run around and climb for a bit, huh?" The older woman looks at Squeaks. "You're welcome to hang around with us as much or as little as you like, Squeaks."

Aurora pipes up, "Other-Squeaks was my bestest friend besides Evie. Now you can be my bestest friend besides Evie, okay?"

The praise for her mom prompts a brief, shyly pleased grin. “She picked me too,” Squeaks adds quietly before nibbling on her sausage and pancake again. The offer is nodded at, she’s curious about these people that came through and also they seem like good people. The littler girl’s declaration gets a wondering look and also has her nodding after a second or two. “Okay. And maybe I can find you both after I eat.”

Elisabeth laughs. "She couldn't have gotten a nicer daughter," she says. "And yes… do that. It will give us time to clean up the walking disaster area here." She ruffles Aurora's hair. "I think she might have peanut butter in her hair, even," she says, shaking her head. It's always a marvel to see what a small child can do with just a little bit of peanut butter.

She helps Aurora down from the high stool and then cleans up after her. "We won't be hard to find, Squeaks. Enjoy breakfast," she says with a smile as she ushers her little messy one toward a quick wash.

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