Christmas Come Early


brynn_icon.gif emily_icon.gif finch_icon.gif geneva_icon.gif joaquin_icon.gif joe_icon.gif lance_icon.gif

Also featuring: Idiot and Goober

Scene Title Christmas Come Early
Synopsis The Lighthouse takes a little bird under their wing. A Finch.
Date December 11, 2019

The Lanthorn

In the end, the holidays came a lot earlier for Finch than she and Emily had previously discussed. It had taken a few days to track her back down, but once Emily made contact with her at the dojo she cleaned at, it had taken little convincing to have the endlessly peppy girl abandon work just a little bit early (and only after guilting roping Emily in to help finish the last of her chores.)

The Lanthorn is in sight at this point, and Emily texted the group ahead of time to let them know she was coming over again with Finch in tow.

And honestly, she has no idea what she's walking them both into. They had all been so immediately hands-on and gung go the other day, who knew what they'd do with advance notice.

"Listen, they're all really looking forward to meeting you, but I just want you to know— if you feel overwhelmed or anything, you just tell me, okay?" Emily frowns, one hand held before her as her pace slows. "And we can go."

"Okay?" she asks, dipping her head and looking hard at Finch to make sure she really understands instead of just saying she does.

Finch is walking backwards. She had to, you see, just for a few seconds, because she hasn't been in this neighbourhood yet and there's new things to see and she really wanted to look at that old building they just walked past a little longer.

When the second 'okay?' hits her, she swings around and walks the right way around, smiling brightly at Emily. "Okay. I promise." This is said with her eyebrows down and an exaggerated lower tone of voice of seriousness that's promptly abandoned after a short laugh. "Gosh. You're making them sound like they're gonna all be, like… big DOGS. All jumping and looking for treats and knocking me over."

For a moment, her smile ebbs away just a bit, and she looks Emily in the eyes. "… Are they?" Is this something she needs to prepare for.

"What?" Emily asks, confused. She peers at Finch wondering what even, honestly, and shakes her head to make herself clear. "No, not at all. They're just…"

Placing a hand on the doorkob, she explains, "Just— aggressively friendly."

"Hello?" Comes a voice from… above them. Not just a little above, like a couple stories up. From the top of the firehouse in fact comes the voice of a Joe. Like Santa! Only you know, small, and skinny and not grey haired. And not dressed in red. Okay nothing like Santa. But in spirit? Joe is totally Santa. And then a Joe head peeks out above the edge of the roof, looking down at Emily and Finch. "Hello!" He calls out, waving a hand happily with one of his giant grins on his face.

"Ems! You look weird from this angle Ems. And you must be the Disney Princess that Emily wouldn't let us come save despite my insistence. She's like the evil queen keeping people captive and away from people that should be her friends." Joe's head wobbles up and down a little bit before he looks around. "One sec!"

His head disappears and then his shoes reappear as he starts to climb down the side of the firehouse. "I'm not sure who all is home, been up here working on the roof. Roofing is hard work. People should definitely have more respect for their roofers. Also it's totally dangerous! I've almost fallen like six times!" And then he does fall. Because he's too busy talking his foot slips on a window sill and he drops from the second story to the ground and hits with a thud. And….. pops right back up off of the ground and races towards Emily and Finch. They are both definitely getting a Joe hug. "Hi Finch! It's good to meet you finally!" And yes, both get a big Joe hug. LHK’s don’t really have much of a sense of personal space. Joe might… be the worst of them.

Finch's eyebrows slant in confusion (since when is friendly something to be warned about?) and a voice from above only adds to the befuddlement. She's back to smiling full force before she's even seen the source, and looks up. It's begun! "Hiiii!" She calls up, "Be careful!"

When Joe begins his climb downward, she cants her head in Emily's direction without looking away from the noises, as if idly concerned about his descent. Quietly, she asks, "'Disney'?" But the answer might have to wait - there's a fall! She gasps, her hands coming up to her mouth. "Ohh my gosh! Oh my gosh!!" She stays frozen all the way up until the hug, when her arms come back down to return it - maybe a little bit tighter than she might've hugged him had he not just looked like he almost broke his neck. "Ohhmygosh you're okay!"

Where Finch is frozen anxiety, Emily is fire and fury. "Joe, you goddamned idiot!" she yells up at him while he's still descending. "You're gonna fall and break your fucking—"

And there he goes, and cue her flinch and internal need to run forward and assess countered by the knowledge he's probably (probably???) okay. Emily waits an agonizing count of one… two… and thank fucking god he gets back up.

When Joe closes in on them both to hug, Emily wastes no time in balling up her gloved fist and hitting him. Repeatedly. "What if," she hisses and hits. "One day," hit "the stars fucking fall out of alignment," a slap to the back of his head for good measure "and you actually break your neck doing something stupid like that!!"

hit hit hit

God, she hated it when he gave everyone a heart attack like that. But here he was, grinning and walking it off like a cat that doesn't even know it's got nine lives. Long-sufferingly, Emily finally sighs and gestures a hand between the two. "Joe, Finch. Finch, this is Joe, and he's…" She tries to curb her sour behavior, and only gets as far as regretting actually saying out loud: "a handful."

Besides, it's true.

Joe definitely seems to be more than okay. The thud was hard but he seems to be completely unscathed, where for most people that would be a trip straight to the hospital for broken bones or worse. Joe swoops in on Emily and Finch and gets his hug in, and gets punched. Which seems to faze him not at all. Then more punches follow up the first one.

Joe's eyes roll a little bit, and he turns a wide grin on Finch as he steps back from the hug, while still being hit. "It's very nice to meet you Finch." The whole time he's being pushed by Emily's landed blows, which have GOT to be hurting her hand at this point, and he's grinning ear to ear. "And always good to see you too Ems." She gets an even bigger grin. "You hit because you care." And he means it. He knows she wouldn't be this annoyed if she didn't care, and that brings a big warm smile to his face. Yes, trust Joe to find someone punching him repeatedly endearing and a sign of love.

"A handful?" Joe asks in mock pout. "I figure I'd be at least an armful. I can fall off the roof again if it helps. Though technically it wasn't the roof it was just the second story window. Still, glad Lance wasn't out here to see that. He'd never let me live it down. I did NOT know how hard roofing was. Or how dangerous it is for normal people. Roofers are pretty Primal. They should definitely get more respect."

“So we should go inside and see if everyone has finished up in there. Last I saw Brynn was making it a literal winter wonderland and Lance was…. You know I’m never quite sure what it is that Lance gets up to. But job gets done whatever it is he’s doing. He’s efficient like that. Broninja knows the way.”

Brynn, a tiny brunette with gray eyes, appears at the ground level just about the time Emily starts beating on Joe. A sweet golden labradoodle accompanies her, his tail wagging like a banner. She eyes the scene with a single brow raise and then demands of her brother, What did you do? Emily doesn't usually hit you more than twice!

The petite girl grins cheerfully at Finch and waves her hello, gesturing them all inside with an expression that says it's cold, get your butts in here, will ya!? Despite the thermals that can be seen beneath the ripped denim of her jeans and the double layer of long sleeves, she doesn't want to be out here longer than she has to be! And she's not coming down the stairs to the yard in her sock feet. Forget it!

Ems, don't hurt your hand! Brynn's sprained a wrist on her dumb brother before. It's not pleasant.

Finch doesn't quite seem to know what to do with herself after the hug, wide-eyed and amazed and confused and concerned and delighted all at once. After the hitting stops happening, gladness returns all too easily to her face. "Joe! It's so nice to meet you. You're saying so many words!" And this is a good thing, if her beaming at him is any indication.

As if something is only just now dawning on her properly, she throws both of her arms up and adds loudly, "Ohhh my gosh Emily we're meeting your friends!"

Just then, she catches movement in her peripheral vision, and offers a big smile over toward Brynn, waving back so enthusiastically her whole body might as well be part of it. The signing is watched, oh so closely, but with her eyebrows slanting. She finds herself hopping delicately from one foot to the other, puzzled, leaning closer to Emily to ask, her voice barely above a concerned whisper, "… What's happening?"

“She’s deaf,” provides Lance in affable explanation from just behind Emily and Finch. Where did Lance come from?

He’s a ninja. He came up from behind them with literally no sound whatsoever.

“So she talks in sign. We have our own sign language, we’ll teach you,” he offers with a broad smile, hands sweeping open, “I’m Lance, by the way.” He’s dressed in tight black jeans and a gray hoodie, the hood draped back over his shoulders.

Emily is almost spending too much time glaring at Joe to see Brynn come to the door, but she has something on her side to help with being noticed— the dog. "That's Bug," she's sure to point out to Finch, glancing to see if she seem at all put off by the dog. Doodlebug was a very good dog, after all, but that didn't stop some people from being apprehensive.

Either way, she starts to shoo Finch toward the house before breaking off ahead to go in. They were going to let all the warm air out if they all stood there much longer. Hey, Brynn. she greets as she comes up the steps. Joe fell off the roof. I'm mad at him. The signs come without any other signs of actual anger save for an icy glance over her shoulder.

Once inside, she starts unbuttoning her coat, looking around as she heads for the couch to lay the peacoat over the back of it. "Geneva," Emily yells calmly. "Are you napping, or what?"

Not anymore, if she was.

Finch squeaks when Lance pops up behind her, twisting halfway around to look at him, but only offers a near breathless and excited, "Hi! I'm Finch!" before she's shooed along by Emily, easily guided toward the door.

She does her best to follow Emily, she really does, but almost as soon as she steps foot inside and has taken exactly one look around, she sinks down onto her haunches and reaches both arms out toward Doodlebug, whether he's paying attention to her or not. HELLO FRIEND. "I love every single thing about here so freakin' much already I might cry." She sounds like she's halfway there already, even moreso when she excitedly proclaims: "And Geneva's here too, I forgot!"

Doodlebug's tail thumps excitedly, but he looks up to Brynn for a hand signal giving permission for him to go to the new arrival and sniff her good and proper. It's given, and the dog goes for his appropriate lovings from the girl while the deaf teen watches.

The main foyer of the firehouse has changed a bit in decor. Instead of the rain-washed, brilliant colors of the original murals, what now decorates the huge open area just inside the front doors is a scene straight out of a Victorian storybook — a fireplace on one wall, with painted stockings, a cheery fire crackling beneath. Colored lights painted across the interior of the room from corner to corner, a decorated tree painted with lovely ornaments. The wall that runs to the left of the door all the way to the stairwell has the appearance of a massive bay window overlooking a lovely snowy thatched-roof village with a pond where people ice skate. Sitting right on the wall on the lowest treads of the stair-wall putting their skates on are the Peanuts crowd.

God fucking damnit Emily—

"I'm fucking coming," Geneva's voice howls down the stairs, followed by a series of muffled but still-deafening bumps and thumps from a wooden surface somewhere above their heads. "Idiot, goddamnit—"

Because from the top of the stairwell, even as Gene continues cursing vigorously but faintly from somewhere off-stage, a pair of startlingly silver crossed eyes flashes into appearance in the darkened space between two wooden balusters.

Peek? ….8|?

Then: a gray, paunchy giant of a Burmese cat is winding— no, waddling its way down the top steps of the staircase, halting clumsily every step or two down as if it needs to do this in order to regain its bearings. Once it gets somewhere close to a midway point, tail swishing like a lean, languorous slug, it greets the sight of Finch with a very confused-sounding "Mrowr??"

Missing all the theatrics of Joe's 2-story fall and Emily's simmering wrath is Joaquin who comes pedaling down the street on his bicycle at an unhurried pace. Unhurried, because he's being careful about what he's bringing with him. What he's bringing with him is strapped behind him - a fluffy brown head with thin white blaze down the middle and capping off a brown-nosed muzzle pokes out from the duffel bag, floppy ears flapping. Joaquin slows for the last few feet up to the entrance of the Lanthorn building, dismounting from his bicycle and shrugging off the dog-duffel. "Okay we're here," he tells the pup with a light head pat and a scratch behind an ear, rewards for good behavior even on the non-eventful ride. Shortly after, he frees Goober from the confines of the duffel and the pair walk up towards the entrance.

Joe bobbles his head up and down to Finch's statement in regards to Joe's verboseness. "Yeah. I talk a lot. LIke a lot a lot. You either get used to it or it drives you insane. Jury is still out for most everyone outside of well.. this circle!" Another wide grin from Joe as he turns to regard Brynn and everyone else as more and more people gather. His hands flash rapidly for Brynn, catching her up in Cant since it's quicker.

"That's Broninja. Not Lance. He might say his name is Lance but it's not. It's Broninja. Don't let him and his tricky ninja skills fool you." Joe gestures towards the door where Brynn stands. “That’s Brynn our sister.” The talkative one looks towards the approaching Joaquin and waves happily at him. "That's Joaquin. He's another sibling. We're all siblings. Not by blood obviously, we're too close in age. But we all grew up together. Well everyone but Emily. She's an honorary sibling though because she's awesome and we adopted her. Kind of against her will? But secretly not. She loves it. She just wants to be grumpy about it."

The entire time his hands are moving for Brynn as best as he can, which is… pretty best. "Gen we have guests!" He calls into the firehouse as if that wasn't… obvious. "There's a few missing from the gang like Lance's blood sister Hailey but this is most of us that are here in the city." Joe shuffles inside, leaning over to give Brynn a quick hug as he walks in past her to scope out what she's done with the inside of the Firehouse.

Finch welcomes Doodlebug closer with visible delight, offering an upturned hand to sniff before reaching to lovingly ruffle neck and head. Dogs she's familiar with, and she's all too happy to sit in her spot and listen for a moment.

Except then there's a cat coming slowly down the stairs! Finch just… sits on the floor, legs folding in front of her. The fingers of one hand still in Doodlebug's fur, she reaches the other over in Idiot's direction with a hopeful puffing out of her chest as she breathes all the way in.

8|, meet :o!!!

There are more things to respond to, so many more, but it's Joe's talking that gets her attention again. "Okay, so…" she starts, looking away from Idiot just for a moment to throw a few glances around, "That's… Emily the honorary grumpsalot, Joe the mouth, Brynn the hand talker," these words are spoken as though it is an impressive and genuine world wonder, "Geneva the - sets bags on fire, Broninja, Joaquin the still-a-mystery," she twists to try and look toward the door but her attention is all too easily back on Doodlebug again, so she can finish her list with, "and Bug the g'boooyy!"

Who is clearly the most important, if anyone's going by her enthusiasm.

Brynn watches Joes hands and then grins cheerfully. Lighthouse Cant is definitely the easier, shorter way to communicate for right this second — fewer movements to convey her thoughts. This is Emily's friend Finch? She's so cute! Ohmygosh, Joe, don't scare her away! Not that it looks like that is going to happen, with Doodlebug being loved on and loving on the girl in return. Let her know we're inviting her to stay for a while. Sleepovers and everything! I got a pot of rice and beans in the kitchen — Auncle Raq sent them when I told him we were having a holiday thing with a new person.

“Welcome to the Lanthorn! And it’s Lance, ignore Joe. Actually ignore like two-thirds of what Joe says, it’s kind of a learned talent to figure out what he’s saying that you should pay attention to,” Lance declares with a grin as they head inside, bringing a hand up towards Joaquin as he arrives, “Looks like everyone’s here! Except for my dumb sister who’s probably trying to teach raccoons to do ballet or something.”

He wouldn’t put it past her.

Emily's gone quiet after her initial shout, having taken a moment to just take in how everything looks. The fireplace seems like it should be real with how clever it's painted. She looks up at the cat on the stair with a small smile. Can you believe all this, kitten? It straight up feels like Christmas in here. There's all the lights, the tree is decorated amazingly, and Joaquin's even got a—


The enchantment wipes off Emily's face more quickly than if she'd deliberately tried to cover it up. She looks at Joaquin, then to the animal in his arms, then back to him. "I know that dog," she shares sharply, this news very urgent because surely its owner is going to fly around the corner like a hellbanshee at any moment. "Where the hell did you find him? The last time I saw him he was in New Jersey."

Fortunately for him, his unique little mutt face is hard to forget, on the account of being so fucking adorable.

Emily spares one moment on a glare split somewhere between both Lance and Joe for their poisoning of Finch's highly-impressionable mind, but then she's right back to Joaquin.

Joaquin offers a short wave in greetings to the gathered. He lets Joe run away with the intro, ducking his head at Finch. The signing conversation mostly goes over his head as well, especially when he looks down to the free-roaming dog he's brought with him, concerned because the new furry arrival has a taped up front leg… and a low growl for the scent and sight of a cat coming down the steps. "Goober, no," he pre-empts, although he secretly almost regrets not bringing a leash.

Almost, because the more immediate regret is being rounded on by Emily. It doesn't leave him very much time to appreciate the Christmas theme. Or maybe it's exactly what he expected to accompany the Christmas theme. "Er, hi Emily… This? This is Goober." Joaquin looks more concerned about the invisible firebrand sparks flying, backing up slightly. "Wait-a-sec. You know who he belongs to? He showed up about a week or so ago behind the botanica. I've been keeping him because his leg was hurt." He makes an attempt to deflect attention, going around and headcounting the group. "Guess Nat's also busy with work?" he adds with a look around. "So I guess um… Hello." Hey Finch-stery.

Joe stops short as he looks around inside the front room of the firehouse, you know the one that used to house the trucks themselves. "Whoah…." He signs his awe at Brynn before he walks around, walking right up to the fireplace and giving the wall a poke. Because it looks real dangit. So he boops the wall and then still seems almost surprised that it's not moving and isn't hot. "That's primal." His hands move to give Brynn congratulations on her work, though they shift into curiosity as he sees the face off between Emily and a wounded doggo. His head tips to the side slowly eyeballing that situation, but hey he doesn't Joe bomb it, he stands back to see what is going on over there, while keeping Brynn up to date.

"Wait what?" Joe asks as if he's just now processing what Lance said in regards to ignoring him. "Uhh no. Ignore all of what Lance says he's full of crap. He's a SESA agent. It's a requirement for the job." Joe of course ignores the fact that Emily is also a SESA intern because that would spoil his argument. Emily is probably the least full of crap person in the room. Other than Grumpasaurus coming down the stairs. "Wait where the heck IS Hailey? And did anyone tell Nat? I kind of just assumed other people had. Do I need to give her a call right now?" Joe asks as he fishes around in his pocket and pulls his phone free.

Finch gets to her feet at the sight of yet another dog, and at the gained knowledge that his name is 'Goober', her hands are excitedly gathered up against her sternum in visibly thrilled but quiet appreciation. Smiling brightly, she waves a tiny wave back at Joaquin. "Hi! I'm Finch! I'm visiting." Between the animals and the new people and the shiny decorations and all of the new information - there might be literal stars in her eyes. Maybe that's just Christmas lights reflecting.

Somewhat belatedly, she whips her attention back over to Joe, and then Broninja Lance, something registering suddenly. "Waitwaitwait-" she urges, hopeful eyebrows slanting upward, "Teaching raccoons to do WHAT!"

Brynn is justifiably proud of her creations on the walls. Even the tree looks realistic. She watches while Emily admires it and breathes out a contented sigh — she never takes other people's admiration of her work for granted. She waves to Joaquin and moves to curl into a corner of one of the battered couches that graces their common space. It's the same one she used to sleep on in Lance's apartment. She liberated it from his old apartment for use in the common space before he could claim it for his rooms here in the firehouse.

“It was a joke, mostly, my sister’s an animal empath,” Lance admits with a grin to Finch, shaking his head, “She spends most of her time with animals and I don’t know where she is, Joe, I just said that. She’s probably off in the wasteland or something again.” He rolls his eyes, apparently used to his sister running off like this.

He steps along over to the couch and drops down in a sprawl on it, reaching over to ruffle Brynn’s hair. “We’re, uh, mostly Slice here but not all of us. Like, Joaquin isn’t! So no need to feel left out if you’re not. We’re all family here. Kinda-sorta. I’m sure Em told you our whole deal,” he says before sticking his tongue out at Emily for that near-glare.

Emily frowns as she looks the dog over, confirms what Joaquin’s said visually. Poor guy. “Wonder what happened to his owner,” she says aloud, calmer for knowing that the pup has been around for as long as he has. “Hope nothing bad.”

“Nathalie… I didn’t hear from her.” she adds on, head shaking as she looks back to the rest of the house, in particular letting a look drift up toward Idiot the Cat perched on the steps. She arches her brow expectantly at him. Go get Geneva, silly. She catches Lance’s teasing and frowns at it, swiveling back to Finch squarely.

“I didn’t get around to really explaining it, actually, beyond ‘my friends want to meet you’,” she asides more in Lance’s direction, then her attention is firmly on the enamored newcomer. “But Finch— these guys can be assholes, but they’re good people. They’re knowledgeable, resourceful, aggressively friendly… people.” It dawns on her belatedly to start signing her words as she speaks. It takes a second to catch up, but she does, shooting an apologetic look to Brynn. “Joe and Lance and Brynn were pretty adamant that if you needed a place to stay, you’d be welcome here. Don’t feel like you have to say yes, though.” She starts to frown. Finch always seemed to say yes to everything, after all!

At least this wouldn’t be a bad thing to say yes to.

“Being entirely honest, everyone here except me had a unique upbringing with the Lighthouse.” And now she turns back to one troublemaker after the next as she makes her next point. (Joaquin obv excluded in the well-meaning glare because he’s mostly responsible and respectful of others.) “And Finch is from out West and all this is new to her. So please, for the love of God, be nice to her, go easy on her.” You know— less decoy cereal, more nerf guns. When she gets to Brynn the hardness in her expression fades and ends with a shrug.

“And beyond that, I don’t know— Merry fucking Christmas?” She lapses into silence entirely as she adds, This all looks gorgeous, by the way, Brynn.

Joaquin doesn't go to stop Joe (because who can) and instead slants a half-nod at Finch with a friendlier smile that almost begs for the visitor to provide a distraction from Extended Emily Scrutiny. But Emily's musing only begets a helpless shrug from him. "I don't know, but the only thing I could think of was to put up 'Found' posters. That was the idea, except, few things were missing like, a printer or a copier. And there's no way I'm putting up posters all the way in New Jersey. But, you said you know who his owner is. So if they're around, maybe I should figure out some posters to put up anyway."

There's some faint hope yet, then. He looks down to Goober still growling at the cat on the steps, and takes a precaution by scooping up the injured dog. Distraction tactics initiated. Joaquin sidles his way along to find a seat to herd himself and Goober into while Emily more formally introduces Finch to the inner circle. He laughs upon Emily's swear-inserted sentiment. "Merry fucking Christmas," he echoes with a short sigh.

Lance's note about Joaquin's non-Slice status puts some color on the latters cheeks and he ducks his head. A small nod confirms the statement - Joaquin isn't Evolved, no. One other detail snags his attention, and he looks to Finch. "You're from out West?" The clear 'what's it like' embeds in his expression rather than his inquiry. Many other questions bubble up as he glances around at the others and eventually resettles upon Finch. "You're staying at Spring Creek then? It's kind of crowded, but most of the people there are alright, just trying to get by long enough until they get their lottery. I just barely got mine not long ago. How long have you been out here?" He glances over to Emily's signing to Brynn, and back to Finch with an add-in, "Not long enough they've taught you the Cant, I hope." Sorry to Brynn the most, who has had to deal with Joaquin's caveman concepts in signing.

Joe noddles his head up and down a few times at Finch's question about Lance's sister. "Yeah, it's a thing she does. Like when she declared herself a moose knight and rode a moose into battle. It was primal. We were like 11? 12? I think I was just about to turn 12? Yeah. Primal." He stops as he sees the work Brynn has done and he grins wide, stepping over to her and reaching a sneaky hand up to ruffle her hair before he darts away a few steps.

"Not that much of a joke." Joe mutters in Lance's direction. "She could be. You don't know. Living out with the zoo again more than likely. I'll have to go visit and make sure she's got food and stuff. SESA interns shouldn't get caught sneaking out of the city." There's a wink from Joe and a quick smirk before he's off towards the kitchen, coming back with a jar of peanut butter that has JOE written across it in black sharpie. He has a spoon and is busy nomming on said peanut butter.

"You know, maybe that's why Joaquin is the least crazy of us." Joe ponders that before nomming another spoonful of the peanut butter. "GENEEEEEVA! I'M DOWN HERE EATING ALL THE FOOOOOOD!" He shouts up at their hot-handed sister. He stops dead though when Emily says they can be assholes. The spoon gets dropped into the jar and he gapes at Emily.

"Rude. We are not assholes. I mean Lance can be. But the rest of us so are not. The rest of that is true. Especially the aggressively friendly part. That's like… triple true." Joe's head bobbles up and down a couple of times before one of his big wide grins makes its way onto his features. "We won't force anyone to stay. But our doors are open if people need somewhere to go. We're paying it forwards. It was done for us. Good people risked life and limb for us and the least we can do is open our doors to people in need."

"Pretty sure we're an all or nothing sort of crew. Both barrels? The whole shebang? Uhhhh I'll think of some more metaphors just gimme a sec." Joe turns a slow look on Joaquin and then gestures from Joaquin to Brynn and back, his hands then resuming their signing after that gesture. "Uhhh pretty sure we have a human copy machine right here bro. Like… Brynn could probably make copies faster than a copy machine. And the ink would never run cuz it's not ink but the actual paper changing colors and stuff. Brynn! You could run a copy business! Like… art design and copy business all in one! You know I don't think we've ever stress tested your ability. Think you could do copies in bulk? LIke that's a totally marketable skill given the state of things in the city right now."

"Keeeeeen. I think you should start attending the signing classes at the Library I've been doing for like… ever now. Time to brush up on them skills." And finally Joe turns back to Finch. "But yeah. Seriously. We're a lot. But a lot in a good way despite what Emily thinks. She didn't want to be friends but we didn't give her much choice now she's one of us. One of us. One of us." He chants before he lifts his peanut butter jar back up and resumes feasting.

"Slice?" Finch has barely finished saying the word aloud before the meaning of it clicks, and to save Lance the explanation, she smiles brightly and nods, her eyebrows popping up. "Oh! Wow - I'm just plain old me!" But this is not a negative, if her visible joy at the subject is anything to go by.

Joaquin's question has her straighten, mention of home immediately bringing extra warmth to her smile. "It feels, like, so far away," she admits as if it's a secret, "but the Creek's been a place to stay! And it's been sorta nice, too? Or maybe not nice. Mostly not nice, but sometimes a little nice. But they could be nice all the time!" Her shoulders bunch up a little and doubt finds its way into her expression, but she does her best to dispel it. "With work! I've been here a few months and I've been trying to MAKE it better!"

The whirlwind that is Joe is observed with glee, and she inches a little closer to Emily, sidling up next to her and leaning ever so slightly closer to say, "You were so right about - all the things. All of the everyone. But also I kinda just wanna hug everyone and that's good, right?"

Thanks, Emily, Brynn replies to the signed compliment. She ducks the ruffle of her hair, smirking at Lance and then leaning sideways on his shoulder. Joe, as usual, is signing like lightning — Cant at least lends itself to one-handed signs — so she can almost keep up with what's going on. Even signing, he talks fast so when he's excitable she still misses things. But she gets the general idea of Finch's absolute glee over being invited and her genuine pleasure in Joe's motormouth. She watches the young teen sidle to Emily and she tips her head slightly, asking Lance silently, She's as sweet as they come, isn't she? Are we scaring her? She looks okay, but sometimes it's hard to tell.

“She probably is,” Lance mutters back to Joe with a roll of his eyes, “And yeah, I’d appreciate that, if you can check on— hey!”

As he’s called an asshole, he slugs Joe in the shoulder hard. Then he shakes his hand, grimacing, because that definitely hurt him more than it hurt Joe. “I am not an asshole,” he says, reaching over to try and steal the jar of peanut butter before it’s completely devoured, tussling with him in a very sibling manner, “Now give me that, that’s not even why is your name on it— ”

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