Lighthouse Is For Always


brynn_icon.gif joe_icon.gif

Scene Title Lighthouse is For Always
Synopsis No one is leaving her alone in the hospital.
Date January 17, 2021


She's not sure if it's the third or fourth time she's woken. Before, Lance was sitting in the chair. She's had some trouble with so much 'noise' when she's woken, and they've put a bandage over her ear to muffle sounds some for her, even though there appears to be no damage. The sensory input of machines beeping and people's voices are overwhelming.

This time when she wakes, Brynn feels a little less groggy. More alert. Lance isn't here… she thinks she remembers what his voice should sound like, even though she encountered a new wrinkle in all of this. She might be able to hear, but she's never learned what words and letters actually sound like. So when anyone's talking, it's just gibberish sounds. She tries to move her right hand to lift it to her ear, but her arm feels funny. Almost like it's kind of asleep. She moves her hand to the tape on her face. It's itching. So she peels it off, not really aware of what it's doing except itching. When the bandage falls to her shoulder, the sounds in the quiet room become clearer. There's a low hum from the light above her head, and the curtain at the window is rustling in the air from the vent.

Whatever the high-pitched beeping from before was, it's mercifully gone now. That sound had actually hurt. She touches the clean bandage and peers at it. There's no blood or anything, so she dismisses it for now as unimportant. Her gray eyes scan the room and she looks toward the door. She doesn't like hospitals much, so she's definitely wondering about escaping. But she does understand what's happened to her — and that it's likely more serious than she knows. Aunt Abby's stroke was bad.

Joe is sitting in the chair this time. He's doing his homework, a textbook open in his lap with him scribbling at a piece of notebook paper, taking notes from the book for the quiz at the end of the week. Normally he's more alert and would have tried to stop Brynn, but he's a bit focused on the homework, so he doesn't realize she's awake until he hears the peeling sound of the tape coming off of her skin. The book gets put down and he slides to his feet moving over. "Hey Brynny. I'm not sure you're supposed to take that off. But I'm no doctor."

Joe doesn't try to stop her from taking it off either, just standing at her bedside, tilting his head over so she can see him. "They said… you can hear now?" He asks in a confused tone, his hands starting to sign along with his speech just in case the doctors are crack pots. Most people are crack pots in Joe's opinion. He has on his being strong for the kids look. But there's worry in his eyes. All of the older kids mastered that look. Looking like everything is fine and okay so as not to worry the really little kids. He reaches a hand out to take hers though if she'll allow it so he can give it a gentle squeeze.

The sound of him moving brings her eyes to him, but the words themselves bring no expression of comprehension. Brynn's gaze flickers to his hands and she pushes forth a small smile for him. Leaving the tape and gauze on the bed, her hands — at least the right one — are not as dexterous as usual, but she squeezes his hand before trying to talk. Her signing is very sloppy. And she's using Cant instead, because they're simpler signs for her. Many are one-handed. Can hear. Don't usually know what I'm hearing. You have a nice voice.

Oh. Yeah. That makes sense. I'll talk as I sign then. Give you some context to what you're hearing. Joe's smile is a bit constrained compared to normal, but it's still there, happy that Brynn is awake and that she is seemingly okay. You being able to hear is kind of weird. But I'm pretty sure the others would tell you I don't have a nice voice. This time the smile is a bit more earnest and true. He does lean down and gives Brynn a gentle hug, nothing tight, being careful of her, any IV's and tubes stuck in her and everything. You worried us there. I heard a lot of the people that went missing are having seizures? Strokes? Something. Joe's lips pull together and his face scrunches up in worry. He gives Brynn's hand another gentle squeeze before letting it go. He looks around, then at the side of her head where the bandages were in place, perhaps trying to see what damage they may have been covering up.

She can tell from his expression that he's putting on that face just for her. The hug is accepted and she holds onto him as tightly as she can for as long as he'll sit still and let her. When she lifts her face from his shoulder, it's to wipe away tears — probably not before he sees them, but she's trying. Always with the brave face.

When he looks at the side of her head, there's nothing there. The gauze and tape have no blood or anything. When she figures out what he's looking for, Brynn pushes a small smile. The first time I woke up, so much noise. I think it's just to help soften.

But she remembers, too, the explosion of pain in the right side of her head, so…

Her movements are awkward as she tries to curl up a little and lay on her side facing him. Anybody else? Her signing, anything with her right hand anyway, is definitely not fully formed. She's scared to death and trying not to show it.

That is going to be a super long hug then. Because Joe has never had a problem with giving hugs and close contact with the others. So he'll embrace her for pretty much as long as she wants, leading to a rather extended hug, which will eventually have him chuckling, and then laughing, softly at first and then more fully, though he tries to keep the volume down a bit as she's brand new to the whole… hearing people thing. "One of us is going to have to let go eventually. And I think we both know I'm the more stubborn of us." He does pull back a bit to smile down at her, his eyes still filled with concern, but there's genuine mirth there at least now.

Laughing because I derped and realized you couldn't understand me. I was saying that one of us was going to have to let go of the hug eventually. His smile is fuller, broader now as he explains the things he was saying to her. He couldn't very well sign in the middle of the hug after all. Joe steps back over to the chair he was sitting in, and then pulls it forwards until it's flush with the bed and he settles down into it, as close as he can be without actually sitting on Brynn's bed. And as he said, he does speak along with the signing so that she can start to pick up some context to the words. I don't know who all is here. Probably a bunch of people. How many people got taken that day? Probably a bunch of a lot of you are having these attacks. His lips press together then settle into a frown, a hand reaching out to gently squeeze Brynn's hand. Have they said what's wrong? Why your hand isn't working fully? If not I can go drag one of the doctors in here and get an explanation. Aaaand Joe probably means it in regards to the dragging part.

It's definitely a really really long hug. With her left hand tucked under her cheek, she looks a lot younger than 21. When he takes her right hand and squeezes it, she thinks maybe she can feel the pressure, but … she's not sure. It could very well just be wishful thinking. She reluctantly scoots herself so she's on her back again — she can't talk if she is laying on her good arm. Once adjusted again for comfort, she sighs.

Just like Aunt Abby. Stroke. But no clues on why my ear. Might not feel right side again. She's signing slowly, forcing her right hand to move in the expected signs. Muscle memory is a wonderful thing — even though she can't feel that her hand is obeying her and her signing is slower because it moves more slowly, she can see that it is. So… there's that. It's a relief.

Last time, it wasn't everyone at once. Only some. Brynn swallows hard and admits, I'm scared, Joe. What if… happens to all of us and it's… She trails off, not sure how to articulate her desperate fear that she's gonna seize and die.

There's no answers from Joe. There's no reassurance. It would be empty and he knows it, and he knows Brynn knows it. They're both well aware that truly shitty things happen to good people. I guess I have to hope that Karma or Fate or whatever isn't that cruel. We've already lost so much. He is patient with her signing, not hurrying her, just waiting as she does it, and nodding his head. He lets out a long sigh and looks down at his hands for a moment.

We're well connected enough that making sure you get the best treatment shouldn't be a problem. We know people with money. And people with power and influence. He reaches his hand out again and takes her right hand for a second before letting it go so he can sign. We will do everything we can to prevent that from happening. Joe will not handle losing another sibling well at all. He'd go hunting. He'd want revenge. He breathes in deep, and then lets it out in a long exhale, breathing slow and steady. How are you feeling right now? Any pain? Discomfort beyond the motor control issues? Numbness?

Brynn tries to take mental stock of her situation. No, she finally signs with a shake of her head. It seems right now that it's just the numbness and the figuring out motor control with numb limbs. There may be a headache brewing behind her eyes, but right now it's hard to tell. Maybe this is the worst of it. It's not so bad. She can hear.

Biting her lip, she asks Joe, It's weird to hear you talk. I know you say and sign at same time, but… hearing it isn't the same. Do you think that … it'll stay? Honestly, Brynn isn't entirely sure how she feels about the possibility it's permanent. Or the possibility that it won't stay. That's a whole lot of emotions to process.

Joe watches Brynn, waiting for her reply, and when she gives it his head dips in acknowledgement. Got it. Maybe it is. Still pretty sucky even if it's as bad as it gets. He smiles at her though and dips his head again. Hopefully that's the worst of it.

There's a quick laugh from Joe at that and his eyes crinkle at the corners with his smile. Well, if it stays, then your life changes some. If it goes? Then it goes back to the way things were, which you're used to. Though I've heard it's harder to know what you're missing than never have it at all so… His shoulders lift in a quick shrug.

But yeah. Hearing me talk is probably weird. You're just used to me signing away. Now you have to hear me jabbering too. Probably pretty distracting. It'll be easier with the others. None of them talk as much as I do. His smile turns into a big grin. Joe has a talent for finding things to grin about even when things are dire.

Brynn's smile at him is amused. Just don't talk loud. Waffling her hand back and forth, she adds, Everything I hear so far has just been… like that tape. Screaming noise, she means. Nothing coherent.

Laying her head back on her pillow, Brynn closes her eyes for a moment. Signing looks like it's exhausting her. She remains there, quiet and seeming to gather her energy, and then opening her eyes again.

Joe, what if I can't walk? How can I come home? Struggling to not look as terrified as she is, Brynn can't help the flood of tears from her gray eyes. She's seen how hard Aunt Abby is having it.

Joe dips his head in a slight nod. I can't even imagine. Makes me think of like when you are sleeping, or have your eyes closed or have them open too long and you close them or open them and it's all just swimming black and white flecks for a second or two while your vision like… figures out what it's doing? That eyeball static? But in hearing. That would suck. He smiles though and leans over, wrapping her up in another quick hug, a gentle one before he straightens up.

You'll walk. We'll make sure of it. Even if we have to get Mr Shades to make you something that helps you walk. We'll find you a healer. Or we'll find you some tech that helps you walk if it turns out you can't do it on your own. But I believe you can. You're a lot stronger than you want most people to think. You always have been. Joe's smile shifts into one of his big grins as he gives her hand a gentle squeeze. He doesn't try to stop her from crying with platitudes. He meant what he said. But he's not going to make false promises either. Instead he'll happily sit there with her as she cries it out, holding her hand and just letting her have her emotions. As he sits though he starts to sing, softly, some fragment of a song long forgotten. It has the soft cadence of a lullaby.

She squeezes his hand, hiding teary eyes when he's done talking and pulling in a shaky breath. It takes her a few minutes to stop sniffling and having jags of quiet sobbing. A long few minutes that she has no real sense of shame for. It's Joe, after all.

When she does finally settle, still holding his hand in her left one because she can feel it, she stares hard at her right hand and flexes it into signing. It follows her directions, but it's like she's all thumbs because she can't put them exactly where she intends to yet. You sound pretty. Music is a whole new world of discovery for her. It sounds gentle, makes me feel like I do laying by that lazy stream on the farm.

It's something my Mom used to sing to me I think. No one at the Lighthouse did. So I assume it was my mom. I only remember a little bit of it though. Just the beginning part. Maybe I normally fell asleep before she got much farther or something. He signs, but as he signs he keeps singing softly. He CAN do two things at once. Signing and singing something else is not exactly easy either. But he signs and he keeps singing. There's only a few verses that he knows and then he starts over.

Music is pretty primal when you find the right music. You're an artist. I bet you'll like classical music, very artsy sort of stuff. It's pretty. Well, some of it. He laughs softly and gives her hand another squeeze. So what kind of food am I sneaking in here for you? Cuz I can't imagine the food in here is any good. I can go get whatever you want and bring it back for you.

Don't have anything to compare to, really, but I like listening to you. Brynn may not have any clue what he says, but she likes his voice.

She lets out a huff of breath and then smiles for him. Maybe one of those gooey chocolate pastry things from the shop in Red Hook? She doesn't splurge often but that is a favorite one if they have them. Chocolate can be hard to come by.

After another pause, she signs tentatively, I didn't know you remembered your mom. Lance and Hailey do, but it's not something she ever asked about. That's a private thing. And he's shared something that, to her, is really precious.

Joe's head shakes a little bit to the comment about his mom. I don't. Not really. A scent, perfume maybe? Or shampoo? Something she used. Every now and then I catch a whiff of it in crowded places. The sound of her voice. That little snippet of song. I don't even know if Joe is my given name. I really don't remember anything concrete before Brian found me. For all I know I could be an alien sent to earth to prepare it for conquest. His lips quirk at the corner, fighting off a smile, though Joe has never been good at doing that.

I'll get you your chocolate pastry. Though I'll probably get like six of them so the Doctors can be very very confused about your elevated sugar levels. There's a wink as he looks around to make sure no one is listening, then flashes a big grin at his sister.

Just wait till I start getting loud and animated and forget that you can hear now and hurt your ears. You're gonna hate me then. Joe laughs, though he keeps it soft and gives her hand another slight squeeze. We'll get this figured out Brynn. We will. We always do. We are like the best connected kids in the world. Between us and all the people we know? We'll get this figured out. We'll get you back on your feet and moving around.

She holds his hand tightly and lets her head loll a little bit on the pillow. She is ridiculously tired suddenly — and she doesn't think she should be. Didn't she just wake up? But she lets out a soft sigh and signs awkwardly with her other hand, You guys are the best family, you know. The truth of the matter, to Brynn's mind, is that she has no idea where she'd be without her brothers and sisters. As her eyes start to drift closed again, she manages, Love you, Joey.

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