Calling On Friends


brynn_icon.gif elliot_icon.gif wright_icon.gif

Scene Title Calling on Friends
Synopsis Brynn reaches out to Elliot and Wright for a ride to Red Hook Market.
Date February 2, 2021

The Lanthorn

The trip to the library taught Brynn her limits. She's stayed right in the firehouse or in it's immediate environs since that trip out into the world. She tires easily and struggles with far too many physical things right now to venture far alone.

But she's getting more than a little weary of always being housebound too. Despite her siblings always doing everything they can for her, she has to figure this out. She doesn't like to reach out for help, to admit weakness, but the reality is she needs it. She may always need it now.

Although Brynn texts with Elliott and Wright periodically, it's usually far more casual and just hi, how ya doing, things are good. Today, though, she texts Elliott with a request. Need to go to market. Could you bring me? Sorry to bother — too far to walk today.

The response is quick. Never a bother. Let me see if I can get Wright to bring the car around. He gets Wright’s attention across the network and the miles between them, letting her read the text messages on his phone screen. Meanwhile he watches Wright try to fish Ames out of a nest she’s built out of storage bins, sheets, blankets, and clothing in her mothers’ closet, scream-laughing like a banshee.

We can be there in an hour, if that works for you.

Sure! Thx! Just txt when you get here and I'll meet you out front. Brynn figures she'll offer her gratitude in person. It takes her about that long to get ready to go out anyway, and still gives her a few minutes to rest on the couch before they arrive.

Just in case, though, she also sets herself an alarm to buzz — if she falls asleep, she doesn't want anyone to worry. Even with that, though, she's moving slowly when they do arrive. It takes a long several minutes before she opens the door of the firehouse to come out onto the stoop. Her movements are awkward as she maneuvers a cane with her left hand and seems to fumble the house keys in her right. Doodlebug, her goldendoodle, is alert at her side and wearing his vest, albeit skewed a bit on his back.

Wright waves to Brynn from where she sits behind the wheel of her Civis. Elliot opens the passenger door and stands to open a door for Brynn. His eyes flicker over her, noting her cane and gait but not lingering on either. Do you need an extra hand? he asks, stepping forward enough to offer assistance if it’s needed. It takes him a moment to realize that she probably won’t be able to respond with her hands full, and another to realize she can still nod. He shakes his head at himself.

Flashing him a lopsided smile as she finally wrangles the door locked, Brynn shrugs just a little with her left shoulder. Doodle's leash is held in the same hand that grips the cane's head, and her right hand comes up to sign in return.

I think it locked, she tells him. Her signs are altered — slower than usual and sometimes incomplete, and she isn't walking while she signs. Thank you for coming. Her gray eyes skim from Elliott to Wright as well, her weight shifting onto her right leg cautiously. It's a visible indicator that she's going to move. And she's very careful about where she's putting her foot, using the cane on her left to counterbalance her gait where she can't feel the right foot.

Lance always asks about picking stuff up after work … but I need to get outside a little. And it will make her siblings far happier if she's not doing it alone. She doesn't exactly limp — her foot isn't damaged. But as she moves, he gets a far better glimpse of what's happening. Her right side isn't paralyzed, but her kinesthetics on that side are way off and her balance seems shaky as well as she moves to meet him.

Elliot takes in Brynn’s motor difficulties but doesn’t stare, he’s seen these same symptoms on Asi already. For now he just stays where he can lend a hand if needed.

Happy to help, Elliot says. Where would you like to sit? What’s easiest for you and Doodle? He isn’t sure how awkward it would be to try to sign to someone in the back from the front seat. The car is kept clean, and despite Ames’s attempts to destroy everything she comes into contact with, relatively free of damage.

She is extra cautious as she steps onto the cracked sidewalk, letting herself be helped as necessary. She hasn't considered where in a vehicle would've easiest for signing purposes — she usually rides the bus, if she's using transport at all! And so she's flummoxed by the need to respond.

Back, she signs hesitantly. If only because she has Doodle to keep near her too. But that doesn't eliminate someone joining her there! She grins at Wright, waving to the driver too!

Ames good? It's slow to get settled and when she finally is, she looks up at Elliott apologetically. I'm sorry. Takes me forever now. Stroke sucks.

Wright returns Brynn’s wave with a wide smile as Elliot closes the passenger door and takes a seat in the back. Ames is good! Wright signs. I just had to spend a solid five minutes trying to wrangle her out of a warren she made in my closet out of clothes. I don’t get how she made it so difficult in such a small closet, but she sure did.

Elliot chuckles. We’ve added extradimensional space creation to the list of possible Expressions when she finally manifests, he signs. He makes sure everybody is buckled in before Wright rolls back onto the street.

And you don’t have to apologize for anything, he continues, checking blind spots for Wright. We took the afternoon off so there’s no rush. And don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything. I get that this is a lot to handle.

It's an understatement if she ever heard one. Brynn offers a small smile, and once she's settled into the seat, she can use both hands to sign. It looks like she might still be overthinking her signing — it's slow. I keep hoping it'll ease, though. That I'll get better. She pauses and admits, I don't think it's going to happen.

Gray eyes shift to look out the window as they drive, and she admits, I hope Ames doesn't have space creation. Extradimensional requires too much spelling for her hands. Nothing that comes from that kind of space is any good.

If she were speaking aloud, there might be a hint of bitterness in her tone.

Elliot nods. He’s still not exactly excited to risk the breach between worlds where the Entity exists when he leaves this world behind, potentially forever. He tries to inject some levity back into the conversation. My money is still on some kind of booger aura. I’ve never in my life seen anybody produce boogers with the industrial efficiency Ames has developed.

He looks over Brynn’s shoulder through the rear window as Wright switches lanes. She drives the car calmly and carefully, unlike how she drives her Mantis. How she imagines she would drive a Ventus if she could get her hands on one. She looks to Brynn with a long-suffering smile at Elliot’s joke.

Do you need to stop anywhere other than the market? Elliot asks.

Brynn has no idea that Elliott and Wright have any clue about alternate timelines and such things. Not really. She just makes a point to school her features into something less resentful as she turns back to them, shooting a grin at Wright in the rear view as the driver makes her face. That's really disgusting, Ell. She's laughing, though, and has a smile as she signs, No… honestly, the market will be tiring enough, she confesses. Getting around is hard.

As Wright changes lanes so calmly, Brynn doesn't seem to be troubled at all. But she does jump when someone a lane or two over beep-beeps to make the person in front of them move at a stoplight. Her head whips sideways in alarm, and when nothing looks problematic and Wright and Elliott don't seem worried, she allows herself to relax again. Why did they do that? she asks.

Because despite year after year of apocalyptic opportunities to come together in a crisis and finally see their neighbors as just other people trying to make it in the Big Apple, Elliot signs, New Yorkers are still assholes on the road.

He pauses for a moment before quirking an eyebrow to add, Did you just hear that?

Brynn looks toward him and slowly nods. Her gray eyes flicker up to Wright's surprised look in the rearview mirror too. And then she signs for Elliott, Something popped. In my head. Just on the side that I can't feel. She grimaces a little bit. Maybe something to do with whatever they injected us with before the crash. I dunno.

“That’s amazing!” Wright says, keeping her hands on the wheel while Elliot signs for her. He knows enough about ASL to know it has its own grammar, and that someone using it wouldn’t automatically understand speech. “I’m, Wright, this is what my voice sounds like,” she adds with a chuckle.

It’s probably kind of scary, really,” Elliot says, continuing to sign. “The sensory aspect alone is probably a lot. But I’m Elliot, and this is what my voice sounds like. Do you want us to talk, or just stick to Sign?

She looks a little abashed as they both speak, a shy smile bringing the corners of her lips upward. Her gray eyes slip between the two of them, attempting to place their voices into separate places in her mind so as to learn to identify them — because right now, she really can't. She can differentiate just fine, but associating one sound with one particular person is harder for her.

You can do either, she replies shyly, her signing still slow. It's harder to focus on what your hands are saying when you're talking, she admits, though. It's really scary. I don't know which ones are important or which ones can be ignored. And she can't really ignore them, either, with no practice at filtering. That's not something she's really said to too many people — that hearing what's going on around her all the time and never being able to shut it off is exhausting. Constant input.

We can stick to Sign for now, I understand the sensory overstimulation. When I was younger I had difficulty with verbal communication, Elliot says, a topic he almost never broaches. It was Wright’s idea to learn ASL when we were kids. I would get so overwhelmed trying to put words in order while everyone around me was chattering nonstop and I’d just lock up. With Sign I knew that only Wright was talking to me, and that helped make the world smaller.

Wright smiles fondly remembering the times when she could center Elliot during his most stressful times. Smiles fondling thinking of the knuckle imprints she left in other kid’s cheekbones when they stressed him out to begin with. He gained more control over it as he’d aged, eventually gaining the confidence to request assignments in Ferrymen Intelligence. His initial assignments had been more stressful for her than him, it had seemed.

Tipping her head, Brynn looks thoughtful. That's not something she ever knew about Elliott — his ASL has always been so fluid, it never occurred to her to wonder why. Of course, she grew up in a unique environment literally surrounded by people who Signed. It wasn't until she was out in the world that she realized how sheltered she'd been.

And she can't help a small, pensive smile. Moved here because I wanted a bigger world. Be careful what you wish for, I guess. Her emotions are very much conflicted about what's happening to her. She pauses and admits to Elliott, I'm scared all the time. Not like that is a new state of affairs for a Ferry child. I'm waiting to wake up in another tube someday. Or not wake up at all. I guess at least if I don't wake up, I won't know it. For all she's seen, she's still just a kid barely out of her teens.

I’m scared too, Elliot admits. Of waking up in an ACTS again. I’ve done it too many times. The confusion is the worst part, he lies, remembering how he would slam his fists against his ACTS, begging to be let back in. Not knowing where you are.

He looks back into a blind spot as Wright turns the car. He hitches an eyebrow for a second, chuckling quietly. So If you ever need to talk about that heavy shit, we can. I recommend somewhere other than a public parking lot, though.

Wright sets about parking the car with smooth efficiency, then smiles in the mirror, signing, Do you want to get something to eat while we’re here? If you want to not stress about cooking after all this, she indicates the entire public shopping experience with an all-encompassing wave of her hands.

When Brynn looks back at him, she signs, I wake up a hundred times a night, Ell. Expecting that this is all a dream. That I'm going to open my eyes and find myself there. She shakes her head to the offer of eating while they're here and forces a smile for Wright.

I'm still a bit messy when I eat sometimes. Not being able to feel part of her mouth can get a little awkward. I just need a few things. Peanut butter, mostly — I ate Joe's. That's fighting words, there. Everyone knows how Joe is about his peanut butter!

Elliot withholds saying that he’s familiar with those nights too; it’s not a competition, nor is it constructive. He raises his eyebrows and nods ruefully, then exits the car, circling around to assist Brynn with her exit.

Wright gets out as well and closes her door, signing to Brynn when she has a moment to look, I was thinking more along the lines of takeout. Something that will still be warm by the time you get it home.

It’s great soup weather, Elliot muses.

She's never been helpless in the ways she is right now, and it is eating at her a little. Brynn takes the proffered hand and steadies herself with Elliot's hold before shifting the cane to her left side with Doodle's leash. The dog is Hailey-trained, he never pulls on the leash. He's at attention now, fully on duty.

After a hesitation, Brynn nods to Wright, acquiescing to the idea of soup. There's gratitude in her expression as she signs Thank you. She's learning to accept help gracefully. Or trying, at least.

Is Marthe doing all right? They mentioned Ames and her blanket fort, but Brynn also enjoys Marthe's company.

She is! Wright signs. She loves her job as a school nurse. There are a lot of medical practitioners who still treat Expressives like second-class citizens, so she’s happy to keep the kids safe and comfortable. Wright and Elliot don’t looked rushed as they meander comfortably at Brynn’s pace, keeping an eye out for traffic in the parking lot.

She’s probably helping Ames with her homework, which Ames hates, she adds. Which is fair, homework should be illegal. Elliot nods in agreement.

There's a smile on Brynn's face as she watches Wright talk about Marthe. She has sympathy for Ames, but … her homework was sketchy at best. She doesn't have a traditional education by any metric. She has to pause in the parking lot to sign a reply. Sorry I can't help much with that one. Joe's the only one of us who passed the tests to get into college. Maybe he can help too? Then she resumes moving, watching carefully where she steps and stopping when she has to watch one of them respond or say something to her.

Their progress is ridiculously slow because she has to watch her feet while she's walking and she can't walk and 'talk' at the same time. When her gray eyes come up to see them signing, she trips over the next step she takes. The stumble is small, but without being able to feel where her feet are, it's almost comically bad. The cane helps her keep her balance when she's moving well, but it can't stop her from falling on her face if she trips.

Elliot’s reflexes are uncanny as he reaches out to steady Brynn by her elbow without looking. While Wright was looking, at least, flinching slightly but a step further away. He doesn’t grab hold, merely puts his hand where he could if she carries too far forward in her stumble, and stays attentive until he’s sure she won't.

Sorry for getting ahead of you, Wright signs, gesturing at both Elliot and herself. Long legs. And I’m sure Ames would love the help you can give, as art is the only homework we don’t have to imprison her to do. She laughs silently.

Brynn's smile is a little tight, only because she's embarrassed. Don't think I can be much help right now, she admits. She's right-handed and she's still struggling with having to watch her hands all the time. Maybe it'll get better and I'll get some feeling back— She pauses as a flash of brilliant color lances across her vision and sends a spike of pain through her skull. She is determined that she's going to get through this shopping trip, though.

To try and distract herself, she keeps signing, not paying attention to what she says. — feeling back that isn't weather bones. I'm too young to have those, you'd think. But I also don't know if I want to let Ames get too attached, Wright. I don't want her to be—" She stops doing the Sign version of verbal diarrhea and waves it off. 1E90FF|I mean I don't want to scare her.##

Wright stops in the parking lot a few steps from the door to the market, allowing space for other market-goers to pass them by. She places her hand on Brynn’s shoulder for a moment, looking into her eyes with purpose. Her eyes flicker over Brynn’s expression at the spike of pain, and gives her time to adjust. She takes back her hand to sign.

You don’t need to hide yourself to protect other people from their own discomfort. You don’t need a steady hand to talk to Ames about color theory. She breaks into a smile thinking about it. She’s enamored enough. And surprisingly good at paying attention when she gives a shit. This time she giggles audibly.

Gray eyes meet Wright's gaze and Brynn can't hide either the pain that seems a regular companion right now — trading places between aching joints and a screaming migraine — or the fear that is a constant, though she does try. It's automatic for her to try to not be a burden. A rush of tears briefly wells up and she ruthlessly squashes them with a short nod of acknowledgement.

Maybe next week? she offers. She forces a small smile and adds, She texted me from Marthe's phone with some of her pictures she drew me. She's doing really good.

Oh did she now? Wright signs. I’m sure Marthe will be thrilled to learn that Ames figured out her password. She laughs.

Two factor authentication, Elliot chides her with a chuckle. I keep telling you. Fuck, I hope she doesn’t manifest a technopath.

Next week sounds good, but whenever you feel you have the energy is fine, Wright tells Brynn. I can always bring the little rascal to the Lanthorn if that would preserve some of your energy. I’m sure she’d enjoy the fire pole, which means I will have to shackle her to my ankle. She turns back into foot traffic, leading them toward the doors to the market.

Just the thought of Wright having to wrangle both Elliot and Ames around the firepole, especially if Joe is home too, makes Brynn start to giggle. She can't help it, the sound quiet. Actually, I would like that, she admits. For Ames to come to the Lanthorn, Brynn can show her some of the murals in the house and maybe share some of her art supplies. You guys pick a day and text me. I don't really have a schedule. If I don't feel up to it, I won't fib.

Pulling in a deep breath, she looks toward the market doors and squares her shoulder. If you see any fruit, I'm dying for something other than apples. It's February and far too early for the local berries to be producing quite yet, but sometimes you get lucky and someone is selling canned fruit or greenhouse fruit. If there's milk and cheese, those are what's on my list.

Sounds like a plan. Ames will love it, Wright signs. She looks up at the entrance to the market and nods. We can split up to cover more ground.

Elliot looks thoughtful for a moment before signing, I also think I might know where to look to find you some safety ear muffs for when you need a break from the auditory overstimulation. Those also helped when I was a kid.

Together Wright and Elliot escort Brynn into the market, forming a barricade against market-goers who might stumble into her. Hopefully we can find some weird fruit.

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