Goodbye Santa


doyle2_icon.gif hailey_icon.gif juniper_icon.gif lance_icon.gif mala_icon.gif



Scene Title Goodbye Santa
Synopsis Doyle says goodbye to the kids at the Lighthouse as he goes to take over Gunhill in Lynette's absence.
Date June 7, 2010

The Lighthouse

From the outside, the Lighthouse looks as if it has had better days. The massive tower rising out of the house has fallen from its former glory. It is no longer a shining beacon, guiding wayward ships in from the lost harbor — though some may argue its purpose now is even more admirable. In its current state, the lighthouse seems to be in disrepair. Though upon closer inspection it all seems to be in the details. The paint has chipped away, leaving a discolored patterns of grays, whites, off-whites, and more grays. The occasional graffitti tag is here or there along the large building. One would notice that the doors, the windows, and the integrity of the building are all quite sound and newly repaired. The lighthouse has just been left with the look of abandonement.

Inside is a completely different story. Upon entering the main door, one will find a completely furnished and cozy arrangement. A spacious living room lined with two large blue sofa's, facing each other, a coffee table between them and several large bean bag chairs have been planted in the room. Shelves have been hung on the wall to display various different pictures of the occupants. A large bookcase is against the wall, holding a large variety of books from Dr.Seuss to the Bible, and even a copy of the Qur'an. The living room is focused on the fireplace a small black fence encloses it, the wood stocked on the bricks in front of it.

Connected to the living room is a kitchen, complete with a large rectangular table capable of seating around four on each long side and two on each end. A sink, a stove, an oven, a microwave and two refrigerators complete the look. Several low and overhead cabinets line the kitchen. At the edge of the kitchen are a pair of doors, one leading to a bedroom and the other, which has a padlock on it, leads to the basement.

At the back of the living room a glass sliding door leads out into the backyard of the Lighthouse, but just before it a staircase leads to the upper levels of the structure.

Morning in the Lighthouse means quite a few things. Breakfast is one of them.

Juniper is on duty downstairs in the kitchen, cooking eggs on the stove, while a few of the younger kids, both boys and girls, sit at the table, some kicking their feet impatiently, while Mala hugs to a doll in her lap. Hailey stands by the back door with her puppy looking through the screen at the big huskies now tethered outside. There's the distinctive sound of Gillian's raspy voice upstairs, as well as other kids, maybe rounding up, or perhaps teaching a morning class.

The puppeteer has been an absent presence from the Lighthouse the day before, and through to the morning. The front door swings open, then, and the bearded face of Eric Doyle appears in it. "Hi honey," he calls out, "I'm home!" Despite the cheerful tone, there's some worried lines at the corner of his eyes, a hint of sadness lingering about him that those more empathetic might notice. There's a duffle bag slung over his shoulder, and he's carrying a very large plastic bag in his hands.

"Santa!" Mala cries out happily, putting her doll down and quickly running across the room to hug onto him tightly. There's a few moments when she's all smiles and happiness, and then… "You're not happy…" she notices and pulls back, a worried look on her fragile face. The morning must have been pretty happy so far, and Hailey with her puppy has given quite a boost, but she can tell.

"I'm almost finished with the third round of eggs," Juniper says, before she glances over to see… Dufflebag. The trashbag could be Santa's bag, but she seems to understand fairly fast— Those aren't presents.

"Hey, kiddo…" The bag in his hands is dropped with a rustle - revealing a bit of plush colourfulness within, stuffed animal gifts for the children picked up somewhere - and Eric eases down to one knee, reaching out to embrace her one-armed. The duffle bag, though, Juniper's right about. That's not full of gifts at all.

A kiss is pressed to Mala's hair, and he chuckles faintly, "I'm okay, kiddo. I'm, um, I'm going to have to go away for a little while. Not too long, hopefully…"

"Everyone's going away…" Mala says, reaching up to touch her hair where it's been kissed. A few moments later she's hugging to the animal gift, and so are some of the other kids. Lance just sets his down on the table and goes back to kicking his feet into the air— he doesn't care much for stuffed animals.

"No Hazel! That's mine," Hailey suddenly yelps, as she chases after the puppy in an attempt to take back her own thing, currently carried around by the leg in the puppy's mouth. Puppy seems to think it's a fun game.

"How long will you be gone?" Juniper asks seriously, as she shifts the eggs around, only to be interupted a moment later by a suddenly loud question from such a small body.

"Can I go too?" Mala asks.

There's an assortment of large, plush toys stuffed into the bag— they're all pretty cheaply made, but it isn't as if the kids are used to really expensive things all the way out here! As they're claimed by a few of the kids, Eric reaches into the bottom to pull out a cardboard-backed package with some large, fake-looking plastic sai and a 'ninja mask' which he tosses over towards the table to skid towads Lance.

"There you go, you little ninja," he chuckles heartily, straightening again and reaching down to ruffle Mala's hair gently, "I'm sorry, kiddo, but no…" He looks back to Juniper seriously, "Hopefully not long. One've the other safe places, the person running it is… missing, so they need someone to cover for them. I'll be helping out Colette, and Kaylee, and some other people you don't know. As soon as she's back, though, I will be too."

If the Lighthouse is even still there, and hasn't been moved!

The stuffed animals didn't impress Lance, but the Ninja mask seems to. He picks it up and looks around it in surprise. "Halloween will be here soon. I want to be a ninja this time," he decides outloud, and actually keeps it close to him, rather than tossing it away like a tough guy. Ninjas are cool!

"Why not!" Mala cries out, pulling away in sadness, tears filling her eyes. "You can take care of me just as well there! I don't take up much space. I can help carry things— I promise I'll be good." It's almost like she's taking it as a punishment.

Juniper picks up the egg pan from the stove and carries it over to the table, scooping the eggs into a bowl in the middle, so the kids can dig in. "You would be missed here if you left. Who would keep Hailey from adopting all the stray animals in the city?" she says, as she sets the pan back down and turns everything off. "What they're doing is important, and you still have everyone else here…" But that doesn't stop the tears. Santa was her favorite. "Do you have a number you can leave? So she can call you at least?"

As the tears begin to flow, a pained look crosses Doyle's face… and he reaches down to gather up the tiny girl in his arms, hefting her up as he straightens and bracing her against a shoulder. "You wouldn't be happy without Hailey and the puppy around, and Lance to boss around, and who'd be there to watch over Lily, hm?" An encouraging smile, "I'll be back before you know it. I promise…"

Trailing off, he carries Mala along over towards the table, telling Juniper with a serious nod, "I've got a number, yeah. I'm not vanishing off the face of the Earth!"

"Everyone's leaving," Mala cries quietly, hugging against her stuffed animal, instead of Santa. Hailey and the puppy stand in the door watching, with her animal retrieved from puppy mouth.

"She doesn't boss me around," Lance clarifies outloud, before he begins to spoon in his eggs. If they don't hurry, he may ninja them all away… But Mala may have lost her appetite.

Juniper comes up beside him, and leans in closer, before offering Doyle a sympathetic smile, "He's going to leave a number and you can call him every day, okay? I'm sure if something happens he'll hurry back here."

"But who will do the puppet show?" Mala asks with a whine.

"That's just because nobody ever knows where you are," Doyle points out to Lance as he steps along over to the table— carefully setting Mala down in a chair, he glances to Juniper with a faint, grateful smile before straightening again, "I'll be back, kiddo. You know I wouldn't just abandon you kids, right? Just think of it like— like I'm going on a trip."

"How come we never get to go on long trips?" Lance speaks up, with a fork full of eggs, before it goes into his mouth. There's also a grin on his face, as if he's pleased with himself for being sneaky. Ninja-like.

"Will— will you bring presents?" Mala asks, still holding the current present. A going away present, this time. "Or— do a special puppet show when you get back? I'd like a special puppet show…"

"I'll do a special puppet show just for you," promises Eric, his fingers rustling through Mala's hair as he looks down to her with a tender expression, "It'll be about a princess. I know you like those."

He shakes a finger in Lance's direction, "Because we have enough trouble keeping track of you just here in the Lighthouse. Now, all you kids take it easy with Gillian and the Brians, okay? Juniper'll have to step up a bit, so don't give her too much trouble."

A mumbly response comes from Lance, mouth full of eggs, while Juniper nods and says, "I'm sixteen now, so I can handle it." She's more than aware of her particular responsibilities as the current oldest Lighthouse kid. Time past there were others who were the oldest, but she's making no move herself to leave. Not anymore.

"I hope the Princess saves the day in it," Mala says quietly, trying to wipe her tears. The smile will be a while coming, though, even if she wants to do it.

"Bye, Mister Doyle," Hailey says, as the puppy stays next to her side. "We'll be good."

"I know you can," Eric says with a reassuring smile over towards Juniper, his hand sliding over Mala's shoulder in a squeeze as he looks back over the other kids; swallowing once, trying to keep tears from his own eyes. "You'd better. I don't want to have to come rush out here if something goes wrong, okay…?"

"You be careful too," Juniper says, as if she thinks he might have as much chance to be in trouble as they do. Or maybe that's just her trying to be a mini-adult. Someone has to be in the house of young people.

"Come back soon," Mala says, though hers comes out as more of a plea. "I'll miss you." Very likely, they all will.

"I will." Doyle brings a hand up to rub against his face briefly, palm and fingers sweeping down his face as he tries to push back some relatively— unfamiliar emotion, flashing a quick smile to the children as they give their farewells, "I mean, um, I still need to pack a few things. I'll stick around for breakfast, okay?"

"You will?" Mala peeks up with a surprised expression, and Lance quickly reaches to pile more eggs on his plate, as if to claim them while he can.

Juniper laughs and moves back toward the fridge. "I'll have to make a few more, then." Eggs get pulled down from the shelves, and she sets the pan back down on the stove. One last breakfast for Doyle in the Lighthouse.

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