Existential Cry Sis


brynn_icon.gif hailey_icon.gif

Scene Title Existential Cry Sis
Synopsis Brynn has a little talk with Hailey about how things are going.
Date April 17, 2021


The Lanthorn (an old word used for the lantern room of a lighthouse) is a Romanesque-style building constructed in 1899. Obviously it has been renovated many times over the ensuing decades, but apparently everyone who ever bought the building loved the fire pole because it still remains.

The upper level was subdivided into four small apartments at some point, perhaps in the 1980s based on the appliances within. The lower level has a massive set of windows where the old fire truck bay door once stood, the bottom half bricked over to create a wall instead of windows that touched the ground.

The front door of the building opens into a large common area that resembles a lobby, and the back half of the lower level was partitioned off into several more small apartments..

It's been months since the plane crash and weeks since the stroke. Brynn doesn't get around like she used to, although she's determined to not just sit around and wait to die. Her balance is still significantly affected and she's sensitive to noise, although that's gotten better — she can mostly identify all her siblings by voice now, and she's been listening to a lot of music.

With everyone out and about at their jobs, Brynn's spread her sketch paper and pencils out on the table to use the large, flat surface to draw on. Although…. why she's kneeling on top of the table to hunch over the drawing might be a good question.

Doodlebug doesn't seem to like this activity; he's standing at the side of the table near where Brynn's cane is propped and his cute eyebrows are wrinkled together in consternation. Is it a game? Is she having a fit? It doesn't smell like she's doing that jittery seizing thing again…

It’s Doodlebug’s distress that has Hailey thumping down the stairs from the third floor to the second floor, and then sliding down the pole to the first. There’s a whump as her feet land on the floor and then more heavy footsteps until she’s finally in the kitchen. Breathing heavily and looking around the room wildly.


She heaves a big huff of relief and clutches her chest when she sees that her younger sibling isn’t in any danger. You scared the living daylights out of me, Brynny, she signs quickly, her fingers slapping loudly against her other palm at some points. What’s going on? What’s bugging Buggy?

Now that the danger is over, she pulls a chair out and plunks down into it. Resting her elbows on the table and cupping her face with her hands as she waits for the younger woman to answer.

The thump behind her doesn't seem to register, but Hailey's voice does and Brynn jumps visibly. Her head jerks up and she looks toward the door to see the signing. Puzzled, she looks at Doodlebug and sets her pencil down. Then she carefully backs her feet off the table's edge to climb down from her perch. It's much slower than she generally does such things, but her agility has suffered significantly along with her balance.

When she's finally got both feet on the floor and has herself balanced with a hand on the table, Brynn signs, I don't know what's got him going. He didn't bark, did he? An expression of alarm crosses her face, and she automatically reaches up to touch the ear that can hear — did it go dead again? No wait. She just heard Hailey call out. Okay, okay. She's good.

Doodle's tail wags now, and he seems happier to Brynn as she settles into the chair she was using earlier. Why were you scared?

Hailey watches as Brynn eases herself to the floor, ready with her hands to help, just in case the young woman wobbles or starts to fall. Once the young woman’s feet are both on the floor, the empath stands and offers a chair to her sibling.

He didn’t have to, I could feel him, Hailey signs back, she’s looking a lot more relaxed now as well. What were you doing up on the table anyway? You know we eat on that and Joe will say that if he can’t put his feet on it, then you can’t either.

The bro-logic is coupled with a sly grin. You don’t want to eat on it after Joe’s stank socks have been up there, do you?

Brynn shrugs, one shoulder coming up higher than the other, but she smiles. I needed a big flat space with no dirt and stuff to draw on. I can't use my easel — I don't have enough fine control to use it. If I'm drawing flat, I have better control of my hand and arm.

The signs have no tone to them, and she keeps the small smile on her face as she explains, but Hailey knows her too well. She forces herself every day to find a silver lining in what's happened to her, and it wears after a while.

Reaching out to the piece she was working on, Brynn studies it momentarily and the grimaces, tossing it back on the table. I could do better when I was 5, I think.

They were so much alike in that regard, always looking for silver linings instead of wallowing in reality. Wrinkling her nose, Hailey reaches for the drawing and lays it on the table. Then she picks up one of the pencils and adds a few touches of her own. She isn’t an artist, per se, but she’s a little better than a 5 year old Hailey now which also isn’t as good as 5 year old Brynn.

She knows Brynn can’t really understand the spoken word yet, but she speaks anyway. “Who cares if you’re not as good as you used to be, right now. You’ll get there.” Each word is carefully spelled out as Hailey speaks, allowing Brynn to piece together the sound of each one. “You’re going to get better and you’re going to be amazing.”

Biting her lip, Brynn reads the words and is silent a long time. Finally she looks up to meet her sister's eyes, fighting not to let tears be visible. No, Hailey, she signs, her expression resigned and a little sad. I'm really not. Because I'm not really her. And I'm not going to get better.

She swallows hard, glancing down at Doodlebug. I'm scared to death of what's going to happen to me when we go after her body.

Hailey drops the pencil and gives Brynn a long and hard stare. Brynn Kathleen Ferguson, don’t you dare give up on yourself. You don’t know for sure that you won’t get better. Whatever the true prognosis, it’s evident that the blonde hasn’t subscribed to it. And when we do find Brynn Vee One Point Oh, that’s just two of you to love. Like twins. I bet you;d love being a twin.

She shrugs before reaching over and pulling the younger woman into a side hug. Usually when Hailey does this kind of thing, it’s accompanied by a noogie. Not today though, right now she just rests her cheek on Brynn’s head.

Rubbing her forehead, Brynn does Hailey the courtesy of not looking away from the scolding. But she admits, It's not about giving up. It's knowing that I'm not even real. The memories I have aren't even mine, Hailey. I'm worrying every spare moment what they're doing to her. Then she lays her head against Hailey's shoulder with a sigh. There's a lot going on in her mind. She takes the comfort that's offered and signs with one hand, Part of me doesn't want to know any of this. The existential crisis that comes with knowing you're a bunch of memories programmed into a robot is really freaky, Hails.

Hailey draws back from the hug, placing both of her hands on Brynn’s shoulders to turn her so they’re facing each other. Then she pinches Brynn’s arm, not gently either. “You feel real enough to me,” she says with a bit of a grin, knowing that it doesn’t take her sister much effort to read lips. “Listen, we’re all worried about what’s going on with Brynn but that has nothing to do with you. Besides, if you think about it, isn’t that what we all are? Just a bunch of memories stuffed into a meat suit?”

She tilts her head, making sure to catch Brynn’s eyes and then makes a little face before breaking into a smile. “You know what we should do? We should start looking for a fancy robot doctor to get you all fixed up. You scare Doodle when you wobble.”

Ow! Automatically the younger woman swats the elder one. Snot! That hurt! But she's chuckling that silent laugh of hers, too. Meat suit. That's just wrong.

Skeptical, Brynn glances at her service pet. He whumps his tail on the floor a couple of times just because, and she looks back at Hailey and rolls her eyes. He's just afraid I'm gonna land on him and flatten him. The guy said we might be able to fix the programming. That's why we're—

The brunette stops. She hasn't really been talking to any of her siblings about what the plans are and what the group is about to get up to. But as the time is drawing nearer, she's getting a little nervous. We're going after them, Hailey. We're gonna try and bring everyone home.

No, you’re not going to try, you’re gonna do. Then Hailey does her best impression of Yoda as she signs, “Do or do not, there is no try.” She darts a look at Doodlebug and after a rhythmic snapping of her fingers, Brynn’s service dog stands on his hind legs and begins hopping around in a circle. See? Even Buggy’s happy, he’s not afraid of you landing on him at all.

If he was, Hailey definitely would have felt it.

Heaving a deep sigh, Hailey spins her chair around and sits on it backward, facing Brynn. Her foot extends until she’s nudging the other chair, inviting her sister to do the same. What I’m mostly curious about is what are you two going to do about your name? Will you both be Brynn or will one of you take the chance to be the Lovely Fiona. Like the princess on Shrek, it’s almost as if the blonde knows all the best names.

Brynn snerks into her hand, and watches while Hailey straddles the chair backward. With a sigh, she gets up and turns hers too, putting the chair so she's face to face with her sister.

She gets to keep her name, Brynn signs. Leaving unspoken the thought that if she and the other robots don't survive the next software push, it won't matter anyway. But I refuse to use Fiona, she tells Hailey with a grin. No idea what the heck I'll use, honestly. That's not exactly hit her radar until now — what will she call herself?? Oh crap!

Hailey’s grin practically stretches from ear to ear. Why not? Fiona’s a great name! she expands her hands wide for emphasis, almost as big as the smile on her face. She won’t hear of any instance where this Brynn isn’t a part of her life too. As far as she’s concerned, they’re both her sister.

She rests her chin on the back of the chair and stares at Brynn for a very long time. It starts as just a look, but it turns into a study and finally a narrowing of her eyes. What about something colorful? Like Rainbow or even one color like Magenta?

Brynn peers at her sister and demands, Are you doing Aunt Eve's pot or something?

Hailey puts a hand to her chest, as though she’s just been stabbed by the allegation. How could you ever accuse me of stealing poor Auntie Eve’s pot? I would never! First, she would probably get fired from her job. Second, she hasn’t indulged for literal months before she entered the Academy. Something Brynn knows, since Hailey screams and runs out of the house whenever Lily sparks up. Maybe I should just start calling you Painbow, cuz y’know you’re a real pain in the neck sometimes!

Take that Brynn.

The reply is childish, as Brynn merely sticks her tongue out at Hailey. Given the situation, I hope SESA would be able to get us new IDs if we need them. I have to admit that I wonder if they'll just try to have us deactivated or something, though. She pauses and then wrinkles her nose, looking thoughtful. I guess if we survive I'll have to pick something, but I'll stay close to Brynn… Brenna or Bree or something. It'll be interesting if they fix my programming so that I can actually understand spoken language.

Pursing her lips, she shrugs. I guess in this regard, it's a trade-off between me and her, right? I'll get to hear, she gets to keep the abilities.

I guess I could get behind you naming yourself after cheese, it’s pretty delicious. Hailey’s only ever had brie once, at Gillian’s, but she snarfed it down as if she was starving to death… and she remembers what it tasted like with both strawberries and bagels. Cupping her cheek in her hand, she smiles a little at the memory and then nods to Brynn, speaking out loud. “Definitely Bree, it even sounds pretty. Breeeee.”

Now Brynn looks skeptical. Well, crap. I can't name myself after a cheese or Joe will call me cheesehead for the rest of my life! That is just not to be borne. Now I'm gonna have to come up with something else. Use the middle name maybe? She bites her lip.

I don't know how to not be the same person as the one who's being held hostage, Hailey. This…. this seems an awful lot like what Devon went through. Won't it be really screwed up to have two me running around? I… She'll want her life back, she'll want Doodle back… but she's me, and she'll be nice about it all.

Hailey reaches over and gives Brynn’s arm a comforting squeeze, Slow your roll muchacha. First of all there’s nothing wrong with cheering for the Wisconsin football team, if that’s who you like. Second, if you wanted it could be a whole theme… cheesehead hats, jerseys… Superbowl parties… All that stuff. The older sibling cracks a smile and winks. After all, these are ideas on how to be distinct, even if they aren’t the best.

You know she’s going to be nice about it all. Sure she’ll want Doodle back, but there’s a lot of dogs out there that need people just like you. And besides, Doodle won’t stop looking after you. But there’s not going to be two of you running around. Sure you started off with the same memories, but you have your own now. You’re different people. The empath glances down at the dog and tilts her head toward Brynn as a kind of signal.

Are we, though? I mean — we are in that she hasn't lived this time with you guys, but… you know, I thought Devon had it so hard when he found out what had happened. But I couldn't even imagine it. It's so much harder than he ever said. Brynn grimaces. And I know everyone else is struggling with it too. Aunt Gilly, Aunt Kaylee, Abby, Jac…. None of us is okay, Hailey.

Sighing, Brynn drops her good hand — the one that still has sensation — to fondle Doodle's ear. The dog has been as much an anchor for her emotions as all of her siblings. You don't think she'll hate me for stealing her life?

Without tone to accompany it, the only indicator that this is probably her deepest fear is the way she won't look at Hailey. This is not her life and on some level, she has to be waiting to lose it all, despite the logic that tells her the LHK are not going anywhere.

Honestly? If it was me, I would hate me… but you’re not me. You’re wonderful and nice and kind and everything good people are made of. And so is Oh Gee Bee. Hailey’s eyes widen and she shakes her hands in the air excitedly. “Bee!!” she exclaims, quickly signing afterward, #BA55D3|You can be B-e-e or B-e-a!! It’s a real name too!##

Brynn rolls her eyes. You make me sound like a weakling, she points out. I'm not always sunshine and rainbows, you know. Her sketching has certainly taken a darker theme lately. But still, even after all this, she fully realizes that the only way she'll ever be a badass is if she has no choice.

Bee, I guess wouldn't be so horrible, she signs although she doesn't look quite convinced. I guess it's not something I have to decide right this second though.

Kindness isn't weakness, Bee. I know you don't always feel sunshine and rainbows, but you're my sunshine in this big bad city. I always know everything is going to be okay if you're around. Hailey says with a smile. She's already testing the new name out. She shrugs her shoulders just a little and widens her smile.

I should get Squeaks to ask Kendall what he thinks of Bee, she adds with a wink.

Brynn rolls her eyes and signs, It doesn't matter cuz the guy has zero interest in me. Which is fine, considering I might up and die if they push the next software update out. It's not like Brynn to be quite so pessimistic, but she's had a lot go on in the past few months. It's pathetic, really. I mean — it's hard enough to grow up with all the guys being your siblings. I never thought much about it until I realized I am literally invisible to guys.

Or maybe she's just a really quiet girl who doesn't exactly try all that hard. But hey, who's telling this story?!

Hailey's laugh fills the kitchen and a few of the animals that live in the house lope into the room with them. All vying for some attention. Jim is feeling playful. Stupid is hungry. Socks is looking for snuggles. The two cats wind around the ladies' legs yowling. The monkey sits on the table throwing pencils at them.

"Hey now, none of that," the empath admonishes her lil bestie. Quickly, she gathers up the rest of the pencils before Jim can get them. Come on Bee, seriously, you have lived with these guys… you do not want them as boyfriends. Except maybe Paul.

Brynn blushes a bit at that. Paul… well, he's Paul. All the girls had crushes on Paul at one time or another, and Brynn is no exception. Lance and Joe are definitely out of the running for boyfriends. I doubt either one of them even thinks I'm a girl! Paul… well, he flirts with everyone. And it's not like she's seen him in the past couple of years except once in a blue moon. And last time was just enough time for him to get stuck in explosions.

Anyways, whatever. It's not like I'd want to bring some guy around — Not after what happened with Owen. Lance did sorta ruin that for her, what with shooting the guy. Sure, it was a paintball, but it really freaked Brynn out.

Hailey just smirks as she puts the pencils back into Brynn's case one by one. She's always been one to wear her emotions on her sleeve, good or bad. Right now, she's very amused with her sister's stammering.

With that, all the pencils have been put away and it's time to take care of some beasties. Liar, you'd love to bring Paul home because he's the one guy you know that Lance and Joe would approve of.

Yeah, well, considering he's one of us, he'll never look twice at me anyway, Brynn points out. And how did you turn this into a boyfriend conversation?? I'm having an existential crisis here and we're suddenly talking about boys! Her gray eyes roll expressively and she grins at her sister.

The grin is met with a cackle and Hailey makes her way over to the fridge. For Jim, she grabs a couple of oranges and tosses them over the shoulder for the monkey to catch. Which he does, then immediately scampers to one of the chairs, and seats himself like a proper gentleman at the table. He’s old enough now that he breaks the fruit apart himself before biting into it. Peel and all. For the cats, it’s just a couple of tablespoons of the wets to tide them over until their real feeding time. Once the saucers are plunked on the floor, the empath turns to face Brynn.

Because talking about Joe and Lance’s dirty socks all over everything and how they’re relationship ruiners is easier than… Hailey just shakes her head and lets the rest of her thoughts fall to silence. It’s easier than thinking about Brynn dying. Even if this Brynn is a robot, she’s not just some thing.

Brynn's grin softens to sympathy and regret. Yeah, she acknowledges. And she lets the conversation take its turn. So— she gestures to the sketch she was making, a rendition of the firehouse from out front. It's far shakier than sketches she used to do, her lines not as clean, the shading more jagged. What do you think? And don't gush about it — I want truth.

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