Brave Enough to Be Here


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Scene Title Brave Enough to Be Here
Synopsis When one of the younger members of Ferry has a breakdown, she finds encouraging words from an unlikely source.
Date May 6, 2010

The Lighthouse

Since the quartet of young adults returned home yesterday, Tasha has rarely left Colette's side except for a few brief moments now and then, to help with meals or to use the restroom or to reprimand a child for being too loud when Colette was resting. But now, it is Juniper who sits at Colette's side on the couch, watching the DVD of Monsters, Inc., Boo's squealing laughter causing the electricity to spark and flicker in the energy factory. Other children sit on the floor. Between the fireplace and the quilts and the space heaters, it's a warm little scene.

Tasha, however, is far removed, in a rarely-used closet on the second floor, huddled there among old boots and a vacuum cleaner. Her arms are wrapped around her knees tightly, and she cries into someone's flannel shirt that smells like moth balls. In a place like the Lighthouse, there are very few places for privacy — the closet is the only place she could find where a wayward child — or Colette— wouldn't find her in a moment of weakness.

The children are happily enmired in the colourful animation of the television, the orphans ironically some of the few who actually still have access to a television throughout the entire city. Since they're being kept busy by that, Eric is upstairs puttering around making sure things are clean, the kids don't have any stashed food or any random pets they might have snuck in, and that whole sort of thing… which is why he's up there, and why he hears a muffled sob from one of the closets.

A moment's hesitation, and then the closet door's pulled open, revealing an awkward looking puppeteer on the other side when it's Tasha, and not one of the kids curled up in there. "Oh. Um." Pause. "Sorry. I, uh…"

The door opening causes the girl inside to jump, and she hides her face but not before he can see the swollen eyes and tear-streaked cheeks. She's not much older than the oldest of the Lighthouse children — not much more than a child herself, and at 5'2", she's smaller than a few of the kids.

"I'm s-s-sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," she says ironically, as she was the one startled by the opening of the door. She wipes her face on the flannel, and peers out at him, her hand coming to her mouth to chew on her thumbnail nervously. "D-don't tell people I'm being a baby? I just… I just needed to get my shit together, you know?"

"Oh— oh, no, you didn't scare— I mean, I wouldn't tell anyone—" A quick, uncertain smile as he shakes his head, Eric's hand sweeping in vague gestures before he finally gives up, letting it fall and leaning forward to rest his shoulder against the closet's door, his head tilting in as if in conspiracy.

"Look, it— life's pretty fucked up for everybody right now," he says quietly, looking down to her, "We've all got our moments. Don't worry about it, short stuff."

The teen chuckles at Eric's awkwardness, and she reaches up to brush away her tears. "I didn't want the kids to see me and worry," she whispers. But that doesn't explain why she's in a closet, when she could have gone to the room she's been sharing with Colette. "It's hard to be responsible for little kids, you know? Have to watch your mouth and not swear, have to be strong and not make them worry about things they can't do anything about." She swallows hard and resumes chewing on her nail. "How do you do it? I mean… I've done it on the way here with Pauly, but that was only a couple of days, and now this week, but I don't know if I could do it all the time."

"Heh." A faint expulsion of breath at that, Eric's gaze dropping down a bit at the question before he looks back up with a rueful half-smile, gesturing in circles with one hand, "It's… it's not easy, no. It's hard. Really, it is." He lets a sigh spill past his lips, head shaking, "It's good for you, though— I mean— it's good for me at least. I need something to keep me honest and well-behaved. And it helps that the kids— the kids need me. Need someone to make them laugh. To protect them."

The word 'protect' makes Tasha's face crumple and she looks away — the blank white wall of the closet suddenly very very interesting. "I can maybe make people laugh. I don't know if I can protect anyone," she says in a small voice. "I don't have a power and I'm not … I'm not strong or good with a gun … I know a little karate but that doesn't do shit against someone who can blow you up with a wink and a smile, you know?" There's an attempt at a laugh but it turns into a small hiccup of a sob.

"You don't need to protect them, Tasha…" A faint, tired smile from Doyle, his head shaking slowly, voice serious, "That's what I'm here for." Of course, the pear-shaped puppeteer does not exactly inspire confidence or intimidation, although he certainly seems to mean what he's saying. "You kids included."

Tasha turns tearful brown eyes on Doyle and gives a shake of her head that clearly says 'you don't understand.' She runs her hand through her hair before leaning her forehead on the hand, her elbow on her craned knee. "I need to be able to protect Colette, though," she whispers. "She saved me, Eric. She took a bullet for me, and I couldn't even… If it wasn't for Magnes and Sable, with the dog, I…" Another sob racks her shoulders and she covers her face in both hands.

"Ah." A hesitation, and then Eric hunkers down to crouch as well; shoulder resting to the closet's edge before he slides down to sit fully, bent knees not exactly the best posture for a man of his girth. "So, what, you think the only way to protect someone is to be some kind've ninja or super powered hero or prince in chain mail or something, short stuff?"

The teen feels a little silly sitting in the closet and crawls out, coming to sit beside Doyle in the hallway. "N-no, but…" she says, knowing that no good answer comes from such an inauspicious sentence start. "You should have seen Sable and Magnes, Eric. Sable, like, tackled the dog. All I could do was try to shoot it, but I didn't have a clear shot. And then Magnes came in and punched it and it went flying. I was too afraid to attack it. I know Magnes' power probably helped, but Sable — I don't think hers was a power, hers was just…" she swallows, and her eyes slide away. "Courage. I wasn't brave enough to do it — but she was."

There's a moment's pause, and she finally looks up at Doyle. "Colette deserves someone brave, don't you think?"

"So do the kids," Doyle replies with a shrug of his heavy shoulders, looking back to her with a humorless half-smile, "I'm a coward, Tasha. I've done nothing but… run away, all my life. I'm not a— not a strong person, or a good person. But there's one thing— one thing I can give them, one thing I can have the courage to, because they need it. The same thing Colette needs, I think."

He leans in a little, and says quietly, "I can be brave enough to be here for them, no matter what. That's the courage you need, Tasha. Maybe you need to be brave enough to— to stand by her, even if you know you can't fight any bad guys, or dogs, or anything that show up. That's the brave sort've person that Colette deserves."

There's a rather unladylike sniffle from Tasha in response and she drags her sweater sleeve across her eyes before smiling. "I can do that much. As much as I've run away to hide in a closet — it was just so I could let this all out in order to be there more, if that makes sense," she says quietly. Her hand, in its striped fingerless glove, falls on his arm and squeezes. "For the record, I think you're a good person. And even if I'm a terrible judge of character," there's a smirk there, teasing him, "Colette thinks you're amazing, and I'm pretty sure she knows. She has had enough crap in her life to be able to tell the bad from the good, you know? And if she says you're good — I buy it."

"Then I think you both need more help than you know," Eric replies in dry tones, briefly covering her hand with his before pushing himself up, "Now, c'mon. The movie's probably nearly over downstairs, we should get down there before the kids get restless."

"Self-deprecating humor. You might be my long lost brother or something," Tasha quips, standing up and smiling, though her face still traitorously tells of the past hour spent crying. "Thanks, Eric." Without warning, she suddenly throws her arms around him in a hug, face burying in his sleeve — because no shirt is safe from her tears.

Ack. Eric awkwardly pats her hair, murmuring quietly, "There, there. Um. There, there. It's okay. Really."

Tasha extricates herself, cheeks flushing from the sudden hug. "All right. I'm going to go wash my face. Tell Colette I'll be right down?" she asks, smiling again before hurrying for the bathroom — the door is open, but in a place like the Lighthouse, it doesn't stay that way long. "Thanks," she says again, disappearing inside before the door closes with a soft thud.

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