I'll Stand By You


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Scene Title I'll Stand by You
Synopsis After seeing Brynn upset earlier in the day, Squeaks finds her that evening to make sure she's okay.
Date July 27, 2018

Outside Raquelle's Salon

Now that the sun is casting really long shadows, it’s likely that most of the shops are closing up for the evening. Some are still open for business, like that dumpling place. But the salon is probably closing, or will be really soon.

After a little bit of the morning spent helping Caspian, then seeing to her own work for the rest of the day, Squeaks made sure to find Raquelle’s business. The way Brynn had left earlier still bothered her, and she wanted to find the older girl and make sure she was okay. So she found a spot outside, where she wouldn’t be interrupting the businesses and wouldn’t be bothered by people.

She’s actually very easy to spot. Anyone going in or out of the shops could see her. At the edge of the sidewalk, with her back against a lamppost, Squeaks entertains herself with a leather-covered journal full of what looks like nonsense.

Brynn went about her work at the salon without speaking much except when Raquelle asked a question, but it's not that unusual. She doesn't tend to chatter on anyway. When she waves goodbye to him and steps out, her gray eyes seek out Squeaks immediately — she spotted the younger teen out the window earlier. Hey, Mouse, she greets with a small smile. Why didn't you come on in?

Looking up when the door opens, Squeaks grins when it’s Brynn leaving. She stands and stretches, the journal finds a place in one of her pockets, and she shrugs to answer the question. Old habits, and she probably didn’t think she could wait inside the store. I’m okay outside. It’s not raining. She hesitates a little bit, hands clasping together for a second before coming apart so she can add, Are you still sad?

Hoisting her backpack onto its accustomed place on her shoulders, Brynn tilts her head. And then she realizes that the younger girl is talking about this morning, her lips twist briefly. I'm fine, Mouse, she assures her friend. I'm not sad. I just know better than to ask questions like that. She pushes a smile. You gonna walk back with me, or you got someplace else to be tonight? Because Squeaks doesn't always stay… only most of the time lately.

I’m staying with you. Squeaks does come and go still, but there’s definitely less going and a lot more staying. She’s even claimed a blanket as her own, and leaves little caches of things where she’s sure no one else will find them. I like staying with you and Lance and Joe. If ever there’s a more honest statement. Looking up at Brynn, she place a hand on the older girl’s arm then signs, I don’t ask those questions either. But you looked sad before, and I wanted to make sure you’re okay.

The deaf teen hesitates and then she bites her lip. I don't understand why there are so many of us, she admits. Not just Evo kids, either. I don't think my birth parents would have even known that part. Do they just throw us out when we're not perfect? Squeaks of all people probably understands. The other LHK would probably understand, if she ever spoke of her feelings to them. But Lance and Joe aren't very good with feelings. They're kinda… guys about stuff.

Not that she expects Squeaks to really have any answers either. I just wonder sometimes.

She might not have any answers, but she definitely understands the questions. Squeaks has asked herself more than a few times why, but she’s never figured it out. Me too. But almost no one understands. She pats Brynn on the arm again, just once, then takes a step away so they can start the walk home.

She’s quiet for a little bit, her fingers tap together in a mildly nervous manner. But after a few steps, Squeaks looks up at Brynn again. Did they get rid of you, she asks, hesitant because she doesn’t want to upset the other girl again.

Brynn shrugs. I don't know, she admits. I was 7 when the Midtown bomb happened… I'd been in foster care since I was a baby. After the bomb, they kinda smuggled me out to the Ferrymen. But I didn't go to the Lighthouse straight away, I had a foster mom who kept me with her until I was… maybe 10? Beach Street is not something she talks about — Humanis First attacked innocents, and she was caught in it. That's when I got to the Lighthouse. But… by then, no one had paperwork on any of us that I know of. I … wouldn't even know where to start looking if I wanted to. She shrugs a little. The war made all that kinda easy to skip around, you know? Oh, you don't have birth certificates or whatever? They must have been lost in one of the destructions somewhere.

I don’t remember the bomb. I remember Carolyn and… Squeaks pauses, thinking. Out loud she would always, out of required habit, called the other half of her guardians “Dad”. But she doesn’t want to sign that for him. So she spells the word instead. D-A-D being angry. And… That’s left off too, filled in with a shrug instead of detailing the neglect she grew up in. It’s better now. No papers is no connections to the bad things. Simple logic, with the only thing to trace back to before being their own memories. And you have Lance and Joe. Gillian, Kaylee, Aunt Stork… All the Lighthouse! Everything else is just gone.

I know, Brynn agrees, and there's a firmness to her jaw that says she's ferocious about this. They're my family. You're my family too now. But that doesn't mean that the bad things are just … not there. You know? She shrugs a little and smiles faintly. Maybe Squeaks doesn't know. Or doesn't care. The younger girl's logic is still a little strange to Brynn sometimes, because she did grow up with people who cared, who were good to her. With all the strange things happening, she feels like she needs to hold them all tight and close.

Your bad things. My bad things. Squeaks puts a careful emphasis on ownership, because she knows that there are bad people still. Her experience with strangers, adults in general, keeps her cautious of them. But she’s learning. They happened but… She looks unsure about her own explanation, and after a second she shrugs. You’re safe. And me too.

Are we? Brynn's expression is pensive as she signs it, and she sighs. C'mon. Let's get back. It's getting late and I don't like to be this close to the market when it gets dark… the creeps come out of the shadows. She grimaces — there've been a couple of evenings she's definitely felt a little ill at ease being out alone. All smart women are, in this place and time, when there are no police to stop the random things that happen.

She reaches out and touches Squeaks' shoulder and signs, Thanks, Mouse. Because for all that the Lighthouse Kids are family, sometimes it's nice not to be the only girl — Hailey doesn't help much because she's with her animals outside the walls, so sometimes it's an overload of testosterone.

I’ll keep you safe. It’s as much a kid-sister boast as it is street savviness. Squeaks, with all her long, long time living on the streets knows how to stay out of danger and stick sharp things into soft places. But instead of taking Brynn into those dark places that she herself knows, the younger girl sticks to the well-lit areas.

She looks up at Brynn and smiles a tiny bit at the signing. Squeaks pats the older girl’s hand, then gives her a quick and rare hug. Then, as they really start out for home, she changes the subject from the sad things to all about books. The one she started reading last was something scary, about a plane crash and being stranded on an island.

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