Human Pupcicle


joaquin_icon.gif roxie_icon.gif

Scene Title Human Pupcicle
Synopsis A cold winter's Wednesday leads two to find warmth and welcome.
Date January 8, 2020

NYC Safe Zone

The only issue with being homeless during the winter was the cold. It was biting, even worse after the sun had set. Add on an inability to find decent food… Bodies were left shivering and stomachs growling. Roxie felt horrible that she failed her buddy. Even with the bit of food she found and letting herself go without, it wasn’t enough to fill her friend’s stomach.

He was Hungry.

Goober lets out a soft whine, head rests on her shoulder as they huddled together against the cold. She was curled up on the ground, with him tucked partially into her jacket.

“I know your fuckin’ hungry, what you want me to do about it?” Roxie grumbles, dipping her nose lower into her jacket. She doesn’t mean to be short, but fuck she was cold. The dumpster they crawled behind reeked and the boxes they put up to block the cool chill only worked so well. “You won’t let me leave the fucking Zone and everyone wants to see my damn registration.” Which she didn’t have.

“I want to go back to the other place, we had a home.” Sorta. Though the broken and rundown ruin of a house in Providence was better than this. Roxie could have gone on her own, but she already lost Goober once and she hated to be alone.

The dog gives a soft huff. He was confused, didn’t get it. All he knew was he was hungry and cold. So was his human.

But he had an idea!

His head comes up off her shoulder, and he rolls on his side to look at her; Roxie’s head was propped on her backpack. His ears perk forward. Idea! Roxie knows he wants something, but ignores him, closing her eyes tighter. Can’t he see she is trying to sleep?!

Legs stretch so that Goober can paw at her when she stubbornly doesn’t answer right away. A whuff follows when she dips her face lower.


Goober gives another whine, followed by a chuff.

“We’re not going to go see the ball guy.” Roxie knew his name, but doubted Goober understood it. This guy was one that played ball with him. In fact, when she mentions the ‘ball guy’, the pup gets squirmy until she lets him go. He practically hops like a rabbit a few feet away and waits for her, giving another chuff, this time with a sneeze added on the end.

“Cheezus fucking christ,” Roxie groans, burying her face in her hands. She can’t even with this dog. “We’re not going, he doesn’t need us bugging him every-”


Roxie looks up quickly when she hears the scrabble of claws on cement. She gets a flash of red fur in the light of a pole, as he takes off out the alley. As Goober turns the corner, he gives a mighty bark. Follow! He knows the way!

“Fuck!” Roxie yells after him, rolling up to her feet, and gathers up her things. “Why do I even argue?” People stare at her when she does, did she ever realize it was odd? This time it was night, at least, so no one was around. Though there would be soon as a light comes on above her head. Oops! She had been loud.

Coming out of the alley, she looks both ways, but can’t see him. “Just great!” Still, Roxie knows where she knows where he is going. Turning to run after her wayward and very hungry dog. However, their trip doesn’t take her where she thinks it does. Goober stays far enough ahead, that at times. Roxie doubts herself. Then she gets a flash of him around a corner.

Roxie finds him sitting in front of a place she’s never been, but felt strangely familiar. Like that sensation of deja’vu. It felt like she had been there. Where had she seen this place before?

Goober startles her out of her thought as he gives a loud bark.

Hey! ‘Bark!’ I’m Here! ‘Bark!’ Hey!


Though the area isn't completely revitalized where they've headed, Williamsburg is amongst the top areas to live in of the Safe Zone. Those lucky enough to have drawn the lottery thus far, that is. Three short cement steps leads to a hefty front door leading up to a revitalized brownstone with five floors including the underground basement level.

But with Goober's barking, it attracts only one level's balcony side window to open. The second story frame pushes up and a flop of hair follows with a sleepy-faced Joaquin blinking confusedly down at the dog. For a second.

"Goober? Goobs! What the heck— oh!" The initial concern of the young man seeing the dog sitting alone on the sidewalk passes once he spots Roxie catching up to the canine. "Hey! Roxie! Hold on, I'm comin' down."

There is blink when she tilts her head back and sees Joaquin upstairs, Roxie’s head tilting to one side and lifting a hand in greeting. It’s not hard to see the confusion in her face past the black beanie shoved on her head or the red of her cold nose. It was after all fucking cold and she wasn’t as bundled up as good as she could be.

Goober’s tail wagging brings his butt off the concrete. Pack. Friend. The dogs excitement it evident, as he’s making a small ruckus at the sound of Joaquin’s voice, bounding up to the door to scratch on it with both paws. It’s clear he’s been there, but Roxie hasn’t.

Why does she remember a place she hasn’t been?

“The fuck you bring me here for?” Roxie accuses the dog with a huff. The charity of these others set uneasily on her. But she couldn’t deny that her face felt numb and her stomach was nauseatingly empty. So for the sake of her dog, she doesn’t run away and waits patiently for the door to open.

Joaquin soon appears to receive the exuberant barks and wet nosed greetings, feeding to the excitement with warm, sincere joy at seeing his furred friend. And, of course, Goober’s less furred, less warmed companion. “Man look at the two of you, frozen to the bone it seems like,” he says to Roxie he finally contains the mutt long enough to get a look at them. Somehow, he looks even more mussed-haired than usual. That’s the bed head.

“Come on, let’s get inside though,” he bids them both, “it’s freezing out here!” Not that he has to tell Goober twice of where to go since the dog’s been up and down the steps countless times, so he lets Goober take the lead. “How’re you doing?” he asks of Roxie. Concern weaves through his tone, already the nursing training making his eyes travel over her.

It’s hard to read what Roxie is thinking as Joaquin emerges from the building. The confusion has settled into a blank stare, like her brain cannot process what she’s seeing. Goober’s greeting of the man is watched with slumped shoulders, but she remains strangely silent. Though she does take a moment to sniff against the cold and run a sleeve under her red nose.

“What?” There is a blink as Roxie realizes he is speaking to her. “Oh.. uh. Fine.” Brows furrow, but she follows Joaquin and Goober into the building, more out of curiosity than anything. The dog is well ahead of them sitting and waiting for them to catch up. Hurry up. he seems to be telling them.

“Y’ever go someplace and just get a serious feeling of deja’vu?” As Roxie slowly walks she turns in a lazy circle taking in the look of a place.

Goober finds the front door shut, but it’s not long before the humans arrive to relieve the pup’s impatience. “Normally you’re so excited to go out,” he recalls at the dog, but shares a knowing smile at Roxie. He opens the door to a wave of warmth as trapped, heated air spills out into the cooler hall. The furred one of the pair of visitors obviously needs no ushering command.

Joaquin's place is spacious enough that it would have been regarded as high dollar rent space back in the days before the war. His furnishings, though sparse, show a degree of decent comfort and homey ease. As they walk in, the first area opens up to the dining spot with small four-seater table. Along one side, his bicycle hangs on hooks for ease of storage. She can see beyond through the opened up wall, where a large rug denotes the living area with the couch, close to but not butting up against the window that he had stuck his head out of to see the sidewalk below. Connected to the dining room is the kitchen and the small hall closet, and beyond that the doors to the bathroom and bedroom. In Goober’s spot of choice in the living room, next to the fireplace that currently crackles with a single burning log, is the dog’s nest of makeshift duvet and towels to form a bed for the animal.

Joaquin scrubs a hand against the back of his neck as he watches Roxie perform her lazy sweep of the area. “You mean like, you walked in somewhere and felt it was like you’ve been there before?” echoes the young man. He spots one thing, his pile of textbooks haphazardly stacked on the floor beside the couch arm, and moves over to straighten it up. “Do you want anything to drink? I got… um…” he offers, but trails when he’s not even certain what there might be in the kitchen. “Anyway, help yourself?”

There was a streak of jealousy as she stepped into the apartment. Roxie missed having a true home and barely remembers when she ever truly had one. Growing up on the run meant home had to be what you made it. Roxie knows she could have it again, if she wasn’t so stubborn about the blood testing required for the card.

Once in, she can only stand there for a long moment. It wasn’t unlike a nervous dog in a strange place. Yet…

Home! Why did it feel like Home.

Following Goober to his spot, the warmth burns cold chapped cheeks and makes the tips of her gloved fingers ache, but it felt amazing after being cold for so long. Breathing in the warmth of the fire, Roxie almost relaxes a little. Goober scratches at the blankets working it into a bit of a nest. Home. Something about the place. It felt Safe.

In fact, it’s almost overwhelmingly familiar. Home.

Slinging off the backpack and dropping it on the floor next to the couch, whatever is in it clunks, while her eyes are drawn to the dog before the fire. “I feel like I’ve been here… just.. like… “ Roxie doesn’t complete that sentence, a frustrated sigh escaping her. “It feels” She struggles with the word, but finally gives in and says, “It feels like home.” Turning to look back at Joaquin, he can see the uncertainty and confusion on her face. It was bothering her.

Joaquin smiles upon seeing Goober take up the usual station by the fireplace. His efforts to keep the dog bed paid off. He echoes the satisfied sigh the dog makes, reactively exhaling one of his own. The clunk from Roxie's pack and her frustrated sigh draws Joaquin back from the sentimental moment. His head tilts. "I'm… I'm glad it does?" He sounds uncertain then, equally confused by her confusion. Is it a bad thing?

At somewhat of a loss, he thinks for a few beats then gestures for Roxie to move closer to the couch and sit. "Here, sit," he says although not quite like in command, it carries a stronger suggestion. "I'll bring you something." That something comes from the kitchen, where he goes to step around the side doorway, out of sight but not out of earshot and leaving the girl and dog together.

The sounds of clinking ceramic and some metal utensil tinkles lightly. "So what have you been up to? Where have you been staying?" Innocent questions asked, he doesn't sound suspicious or judging of her, but rather like catching up wih a friend.

The sounds of multiple little bits hitting ceramic comes next. Kibble? Could be. Goober knows that sound well, it follows usually with food.

A glare is sent at Joaquin’s back after he tells her to sit, even if he didn’t mean it like an order. When he disappeared into the kitchen, the young woman lets out a weary sigh, she was pretty tired and that couch was looking pretty inviting.

Goober leaves the bed to jump up on the couch, sitting on it. The soulful brown eyed looks isn’t unlike the look in Joaquin’s eyes. It was like the dog understood her misgivings and was telling her that It is good. It is soft. Goober lays down, head lowering to hang off the couch, looking up at her. See?

To be honest, Roxie didn’t know how to explain it. Was she somehow understanding the dog? Was it Goober’s feeling about this place somehow reaching her? Just like she is pretty sure she is remembering the smell and taste of the kibble that she hears clinking in the bowl. But how?

“That’s just fucking crazy, Roxie,” She grumbles under her breath, turing to drop down on the couch. Goober crawls onto her lap, though his attention is on the kitchen. Hungry. Food? He looks at her in quick movements. He was asking her permission to go. Roxie gives a huffed sigh. “Go on you goob.” It’s all the pup needs to leap off the couch and head for the kitchen. Food! Yummy crunchies!

Half listening to the kitchen, Roxie sinks lower on the couch. Booted feet sprawl out before her, trying to ignore the ache caused by the returning warmth. That ache prompts her to work off her gloves to expose reddened frost nipped fingers. Goober leading her there was probably a good thing… she can recognize that. “Uh.. Hey. Thanks for letting me stay. I’ll be out of your hair tomorrow.”

Roxie. Ever the wanderer.

Soft laughter comes from the kitchen when Goober appears at Joaquin's feet. "You're hungry huh?" he asks the dog, knowing the eager look. He scratches the dog's head between his ears. A second glance down to those big eyes and he reaches into the bag of kibble for an extra handful to toss into a cereal bowl of dog food.

The other two bowls, luckily, are not kibble. But they are cornflakes and milk, which is close. All three bowls are scooped up into Joaquin's hands and he leads Goober back to the common area, wherein the human kibble is set down on the low table for Roxie, and Goober's portion is set on the wood floor for him. Joaquin doesn't seem concerned about the kibble possibly spilling on the floor. Goober's got it covered.

"It's still going to be cold tomorrow," Joaquin points out like this isn't common in wintertime. Like it's something she should recognize. He looks over her reddened fingers with concern, as well as the tip of her nose and ears which she can't see. "But, you also didn't answer my question before either." Pointing out her avoidance, Joaquin looks expectantly to her as he crunches on a mouthful of cereal.

Goober is indeed very hungry, making laps around Joaquin as he leads the dog out of the kitchen. He’s up on hindlegs as the bowl comes down, taking to steal a bite or two even before it hits the floor.

Roxie watches the display with a mixture of amusement and guilt, only to go still as the bowl of cereal is set on the table. A frown is sent his way and the same question that she posed to him the day they met is almost blurted out again. Why? It isn’t spoken, cause she knows…

He’s good. He’s nice. He’s pack.

She’s been around the dog too much, Roxie is starting to think like one. They say dogs know good people. Sitting up slowly, she reaches to pull the bowl closer. It’s amazing how the smell of food is stronger when you haven’t had it in some time. “Thanks,” Roxie manages to croak out again. Geez, how often is she going to have to say it?

Rubbing cold fingers across tired and watery eyes… a bit of sand in there. Yup. That’s it. “Been here and there,” the young woman finally answers his question. Vague, but she also has an idea of how he’d react to where she’s been huddling at night. “I got a place in Providence, but Goober seems to want to stay close.” The spoon is lazily turned in the milk, before she adds, “to you.”

Of course, because he’s pack.

“You made an impression I guess,” Roxie adds with an edge of grumpiness. After another sniff at the milk to ensure it isn’t spoiled, she takes a bite. Oh. My. Gawd. It was a simple thing, but it was the best thing she had ever eaten at that moment.

Joaquin grins at her thanks. A small victory feeling wells within him, although he quells it just long enough to shovel more cornflakes down like he doesn’t want the cereal to get soggy before he gets to the bottom of the bowl. Roxie might find it amusing just how quickly and similarly both the dog and he eat.

“Providence?” The muffled mouthful echoes the name of the place with unfamiliarity. Joaquin remembers to swallow before continuing. “Well I’m glad you’re close. I haven’t gone out there, but…” Hesitation peeks out over the edge of his tone. One might even count it as worry. “Isn’t it, um, rough out there?” Here they are on the comfort of a couch, chowing down on cornflakes and kibble in front of a fire. And there’s electricity. Running water.

There’s several hints of Joaquin wanting to say more, but he balks instead of presses, burying his thoughts into the spoon that digs at his bowl. “Few years ago, during the war, I stayed with a bunch of people up in Canada,” he eventually states as his eyes remain on his cereal. “We were all trying to survive out in the forest. I… I wasn’t very good at it. Ran back to the city first chance I got.” When he looks back up, Joaquin shrugs helplessly. “But, I think it’s brave of you to try and make it out there.”

“When it’s about all you fucking know, you don’t think about it like that,” Roxie comments after another bite of cereal. “I have some memories of my old life. Like my parents having stupid fancy dinner parties and shit.” She shrugs, “But mostly I remember running and surviving. S’good you’re in here, out there is like… the fucking wild west, shit worse the further west you go.” Clearly, she’s been that way.

“Not saying there ain’t good people out there, after…” Roxie comes up short, a sudden halt in her words. Her attention falls to the bowl in front of her like the taste was suddenly off. But then she sighs out her feelings, “After my parents died, I found them here and there, but good people don’t alway….” she takes a deep breath, “They don’t always do good out there. Too fucking stubborn in their ways. Now, I keep to myself, especially, out there.”

Roxie casts Joaquin an apologetic look and shakes her head at his assessment, “Had others call me brave too. Not sure anyone should call me brave though. I’m just… surviving.”

Joaquin goes quiet except for the crunching of his meal, but he's listening, much like the dog. His worries expression smoothes into something less so as she goes on about the world outside the Safe Zone. He too, inhales deep and blows out a soft sigh. Her apologetic look is met with a renewed small smile.

"Well," he says, pausing in thought, "brave isn't about being fearless, right? It's about seeing all that's terrible, and choosing to do the right thing in spite of it. Like how you take care of Goober." He glances to the dog, sharing looks with the animal. "I get the impression he wasn't with you in the beginning," Joaquin goes on, shoveling another mouthful in, attempting to get through the cereal before it turns too soggy.

He concludes after the swallow, "Surviving is brave. It hasn't been easy. But the longer you do, the better it'll be. You'll find the good people, the good in people, in time." The last spoonfuls get swirled around his bowl as he looks down into it, considering something, then back up to Roxie. Abruptly, he asks, "Do you want to stick around here? This couch actually pulls out, though, it's kind of lumpy."

“Listen to you waxing fuckin’ philosophical and shit,” Roxie says with only the barest hint of amusement, doesn’t last long. What little cereal, now soggy is just pushed around in the sea of milk as she talks, her appetite off.

“Surviving is a necessity,” Roxie says quietly, “Even the most cowardly man will suddenly act if his life is threatened, to then be called brave and a hero. People forget that everything could have been prevented if he only just acted first thing. If he had spoken up.” She might be talking about herself, but Joaquin wouldn’t know her past. Her… shame.

A whine beside her, drags her attention from a sinking bit of cereal to the upturned face of Goober. When he has her attention, he paws at her leg. Up? He doesn’t wait for permission, hopping in her lap, where he can work to take her attention off her pain. Which means a liberal dose of puppy kisses! Cheer up, I’m here. Roxie can’t help but laugh as her fends off that long tongue. “Anyhow, your right. Goober wasn’t always with me.” His name stops the assault, his attention going across to Joaquin, tail wagging with pride. “Found him in the rubble of a bombed out house.” Fingers dig into the hair of the dogs neck around his collar, with almost instant results, as Goober leans into it. Perfect.

“I didn’t find no bodies, so I think they ran and left him,” Roxie looks down at the dog in her lap with an affectionate look.

Of course, there is that offer of a place to sleep, she hadn’t addessed it and Roxie knows it. A slow glance is angled at the couch. “I wouldn’t mind being warm tonight, but I won’t linger,” she promises. “I… I don’t want my troubles landin’ at your door.” What troubles she doesn’t elaborate.

Joaquin leans his head one way then the other at Roxie's words, considering them seriously. She could see the sympathy in his expression as he listens, considers. "But at least he did something. Even if it was later that most. And people forget… we don't know what the future holds. Not even precogs can see all of the future."

He then glances down at the soft whine from Goober, and laughs when the dog jumps up onto the couch to interrupt deep philosophy discussions with the two humans. "God, kill the mood would ya, Goobs," he says and reaches over to scritch his fingers a couple times on that proud dog's tail-wagging flank.

Once Roxie accepts the offer to stay, though, it sparks a larger smile on Joaquin's face. "Great! It's not going to be any trouble." Having maybe dismissed her worry or misinterpreted altogether, doesn't matter to the young man as he pushes up to his feet suddenly inspired to action. "Make yourselves comfy," he notes instead, "I'll grab the extra sheets. Since he's got the old ones." Joaquin nods at Goober's nest of wornout linens and towels by the fireplace, then turns to head to the back of the apartment.

When he returns, it's with sheets, the box of cornflakes for her to toss in more if she wants the crunch, and of all things, a guitar. Comfort, satisfaction, and the pluckings of a song in a poignant minor key fill in the hours until the sun sets behind the city's buildings.

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