Even If A Dream

Participants:

brynn_icon.gif geneva_icon.gif

Scene Title Even If A Dream
Synopsis Two Lighthouse sisters attempt to find solace in the company of a former friend. Also: Geneva discovers that Emily's bark is currently a great deal worse than her bite.
Date August 7, 2020

Beneath the boughs of a certain tulip tree


Brynn has no idea if the tree that is Emily even knows she's here. But she comes twice a week to sit under the branches and lean back against the trunk. It's a peaceful place to think. And the deaf young woman has a lot on her mind today. She can't tell Emily what she's got going on, but if the other girl can feel her presence, it's enough — she'll know she's not alone, and Brynn will know that she's doing the only thing she can for her friend.

I wish I knew whether she even knows we're here, she signs to her companion. Doodlebug waits until his mistress settles into the spot she usually sits in before curling up at her knee with a sigh. Kaylee said she's peaceful in there… at least it's something. I don't want her to feel alone in there. The way she herself was, waking up in a plane crash trapped inside a pod she couldn't figure out how to exit.

It might come as a surprise to some, but Geneva consciously hasn’t made a habit of coming here. For her, this isn't a matter of not wanting to visit what endures of her best friend.

It's a matter of literally having been unable to bring herself to do so.

In fact, this is the first time Gene has been here at all since the removal of the condemned house that had been enclosing the hundred-foot tulip tree like the frame of a rotting, twisted catafalque.

The open air of the now-cleared site is an improvement in many ways, but as Gene hunches beside Brynn in the shade of the tree, it seems as though one grief had only been replaced by another. The warmth of the fall sunshine that slants on the pair through the shadows of Emily's branches seems like the deepest of unkindnesses— the peace of endless breeze and blue sky around her friend's living cage, nothing less than an insult felt inside the hollow of her gut.

Fuck if I know, Gene almost lifts her hands to sign, but doesn't. Instead:

God, Brynn, I really wish I knew, too.

With her hand on the bark of the tree, the deaf girl closes her eyes. Emily, I hope you can at least feel that we're here. Brynn misses the other girl a lot. Emily can be sharp at times, but she's become just as integral to the LHK as any of the other siblings as far as Brynn is concerned.

With a soft sigh, she moves to sit with her back against the tree. Generally speaking, she's a quiet young woman anyway — for a lot of reasons. But since getting back from the plane crash, she's been even more so than usual. Her dog has stuck very close to her heels all the time.

I miss her so much, she confesses to Gene. My phone is always so quiet now. Emily is a texting queen when it comes to Brynn.

Absently, Geneva slowly reaches to give Doodlebug a scritch scratch behind the ears, letting him have a few good, solid seconds of this while Brynn has her eyes closed next to her.

It's a source of distraction for her, too. Brynn’s audible sigh echoes in the other girl’s bones, a silent, dour agreement etched in her face.

Yeah. On the weekend that she disappeared, I think I blew up her phone with about 500 or so messages. She's going to have them all to look forward to when she comes back and then some.

When she comes back. Gene's word choice there is adamant.

Brynn can’t bear the thought of Emily not coming back either, so she doesn’t challenge the word. Somehow they’re going to figure it out. Or someone else will, like SESA. Lance works for them and she has no doubt that he’s doing everything in his power.

Well, between your 500 and my… I dunno at least twice that many probably… her new phone will probably just crash when she loads them. The brunette tries to smile for Gene. But it’s hard. She scratches Doodle under the chin while Geneva rubs his ears. Silence in Brynn’s company is the norm, but this one feels a little different. Like there are things she wants to say and isn’t.

It takes a long time before she finally signs, The world doesn't look right. She never really thought about how she does what she does — that 'color' is about how light is transmitted. Not until this. Everything looks muted. Like walking in a faded picture.

As far as Geneva is concerned, if she could survive being trapped in a hummingbird’s body for however long she had, Emily could survive her own metamorphosis into a tree. The two processes had to be analogous enough to draw this bottom line. She would accept no other conclusion.

Never mind that Gene had nearly died during her time as a hummingbird, and that she had literally no idea if the process Emily had undergone was in fact similar at all or somehow even worse—

The flicker of movement from Brynn’s hands after a while forces Gene's mind back to earth like a sudden collision into glass. "What," she snorts right at first, bull-like, but her gaze is at least glued onto the hand gestures that are taking place.

Then, her features twist with concern once she understands.

God, I'm so sorry Brynn," Gene starts up, clamping down hard on her bottom lip with her teeth for a moment. I almost forgot how you’ve fucking been going through hell, too. This sounds so incredibly shitty.

There's a slow shrug and Brynn immediately signs, No, it's not nearly as bad as this. When you were almost killed and Emily's… stuck in there? Losing my ability is nothing in comparison. Well, maybe not nothing but she's alive and okay enough to live her life pretty normally. If it feels like walking through an old movie, well… that isn't the end of anything. I've got all of you and I know it. I just hope Emily knows she's got us too.

The brunette sighs heavily, looking around at this place. She's just… one of the people I would talk to about all of this. It doesn't make her miss her friend any less. But at least she's not scared or hurting.

It's not nothing, Geneva insists through her hands and her face, which continues to be twisted into a hard grimace.

It isn't just that. There was the whole plane crash in the first place. Brynn, we still don't have any idea what that entire deal was or if those fuckers are going to end up coming back for you— Damnit. Gene's hands freeze for a split second, nerveless. Then another. For a moment, they seem on the verge of dropping altogether. Lance's idea to microchip all of the LHK in case of unexpected kidnappings was looking less and less preposterous.

More reluctantly, she starts up again. I can't keep losing my friends like this, Brynn. Or I'll…

Or she would— what?

Once more, she has no idea how to finish this.

She only knows she fucking can't.

Brynn waits several seconds and when Geneva appears stumped for a word, she simply reaches out and squeezes Gene's arm. I know, she assures her foster sister. Her gray eyes are clouded a bit by the constant fear — that plane crashed and no one knows where it came from, where it was going, or who was behind it. And the 'cargo' never arrived at its destination. What's worse is the sense of unreality she has in general…

Sometimes when I'm just starting to come awake, it all feels like a nightmare, she confesses. I wonder if I'm going to wake up and find out this is all a dream. Or maybe I'll wake up someday in a strange place and this has all been the dream. I do okay some days, but… She bites her lip and then shrugs a little. She's maybe not doing as well and she plays off.

You know, that reminds me how I felt when I was trapped in that stupid bird.When Gene slants her hands upwards again, the movement is laborious enough to seem like it almost physically hurts her to do so, but she also huffs out a coarse laugh. I don't know how to describe it, not really, but I get it. The sense of not knowing what the fuck is real, because everything sucks, and just struggling to hold onto to whatever's sharpest. For me, it got— really hard to stay lucid, especially close to the end.

The light in Gene's bright-blue eyes dims, less from the memory itself than jarring frustration at her inability to formulate her thoughts into proper words. Fuck, I'm bad at this. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I can tell you this isn't a dream. This isn't a dream, I'm real, you're real, and fuck this, we'll get through it together. You hear me?

It's funny … it probably is very much like Gene's time in the bird. Geneva doesn't talk a lot about that situation anyway, and certainly not to the deaf sibling. For the first time, Brynn feels like maybe she and Geneva have common ground as she slowly nods to the description Gene's giving. That's pretty much exactly how she's feeling — lucid but just sort of detached. And afraid, all the time.

You're way better at this than you give yourself credit for, she tells her sister as she pulls in a slow breath. I'm really glad that Aunt Kaylee came to check on Em before she … before the crash. She said it's kind of like Em is sleeping in there and dreaming. But even if she's dreaming, maybe she'll still feel us here.

She pauses and the signs, You guys are the only real thing right now. I hate being alone… even though I know it's totally irrational. They grabbed us right from our own beds with other people nearby. It's hard to admit that she doesn't feel safe anywhere now; she doesn't want to make their brothers worry.

For a moment, it looks like Geneva might be in the middle of relaxing somewhat. She releases a jerky exhalation at any rate, one prompted by some kind of momentary effort to accept that her reassurance hadn't been completely useless.

Brynn is very kind.

Yeah. No. I really, really wish I knew how they did that. That was some kind of unbelievable bullshit. Re: being snatched up in the middle of a crowded apartment without anyone noticing, not even any of the animals. One thing I can promise you for sure, though— even if anything happens to you, we'll get you back. That's what we always do, we get people back. And Em, if you can feel this

Gene speaks each of the words of this last sentence right as she signs them, her breath showing signs of rapidly growing more uneven again.

Without any warning whatsoever, she turns around and punches the bark of Emily's tree as squarely and as hard as she physically can, ignoring the instant explosion of regret and pain this causes her knuckles.

"Goddamnit, Em, you need to get out of there. DO YOU HEAR ME? WE'RE FUCKIN’ GOING TO GET YOU OUT."

Well, that is a little unexpected. Brynn jumps visibly when Geneva hits the tree and starts shouting. She doesn't have to hear what's happening to know the gist of what's being shouted. It's not Emily's fault, but…. Yeah. They're all upset and Gene's usual mode of behavior — anything that is sad or uncomfortable is translated to anger.

A wince follows the explosion of emotion, and Brynn reaches out to check her sister's hand. Did you break it? is the first thing she signs. Thankfully Cant uses a lot of one-handed signing. The second is, We are going to get her back. I don't know how or when, but we will, Genie. The affectionate sign for Gene's name is one Brynn rarely uses, but it seems appropriate right now when her sister needs the reassurance.

Gene has no godly idea if she'd broken her hand. In fact, she barely sees Brynn's question out of the wild corner of her eye to wonder if she'd broken it. The only thing she knows, right now, is that her hand has been scraped up into a hellscape of torn-up skin (perhaps with a splinter or two buried in there too), and that blood is already beginning to run down the back of her knuckles in thin, rough dribbles.

Tulip tree bark, as she had newly discovered, isn’t the friendliest of surfaces to punch.

"Fuck," she simply rages aloud, too overcome with the pain to do much else for several seconds.

"Fuck. Fuck."

Then, she seems to very abruptly remember that, oh yes, Brynn is there too. So— to remedy that, she raises her bloodied, mangled hand alongside her fresh one more time, and signs:

Fuck.

It's hilarious… Brynn never signs those words. She just doesn't! No particular reason. But she nods in complete agreement when Geneva signs the invective. Total botswarf.

She releases Gene's hand to dig around in her backpack, bringing out one of the bandanas that she finds in there. Useful things, those scraps of cloth. She dabs at the blood on her sister's knuckles, and gently checks over the hand.

We should get you some ice. C'mon, Genie. Brynn touches the bark of the tree and sighs heavily. Love you, Ems. Just keep holding on, okay?

Biting down on her lip again as Brynn tenderly attends to her injury, Geneva can only mutter out a rather lame "sorry," of apology, limply holding out her hand so her adopted sister has an easier time wrapping it into her bandana. Resentment still glows in her gaze, though, which is now focused firmly down into the grass by her feet.

Tired, undiluted resentment.

Yeah, she signs back without any extra enthusiasm, wincing from the pain of flexing her hurt muscles and transferring most of the remaining efforts into her other hand as a result.

She has no final words to say. No 'love you, Ems,' signed or otherwise.

But that last burning, emotion-clogged stare Gene bores up into the heart of Emily's trunk says much more than words could, as she gingerly cradles her cloth-wrapped hand close to herself.

Brynn can't help Emily right now except by coming to visit despite the fact that the tree really doesn't register the presence of others much. But Geneva is a different story. She wraps her arm around Gene's and tugs her sister away from the tree gently but firmly. Yelling at the plant is not going to help matters either. It was time to do something among the living, to remember that not everything is Bad Shit <™>.

That, in its own way, at least constituted something real.


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