Little Seedlings


avi_icon.gif devon_icon.gif lucille_icon.gif

Scene Title Little Seedlings
Synopsis From a great idea sprouts a little more than two young Hounds expected.
Date April 1, 2018

The Bunker

Avi's Quarters

It wasn’t that many days ago that Devon came to Lucille with an idea. It was a silly idea, of the sort which ‘what ifs’ and ‘or how ‘bouts’ are tossed around like a football. The kind that has no real intention of becoming realized until like minds come to meet eye-to-eye. The speculation and musings transformed the idea into a plan.

In the small space of time that followed, the plan became more elaborate. Overnight, it seemed, the plan became a serious (not so serious) operation to be carried out. It’s only once a year the opportunity to perform epic shenanigans comes around. So it’s only right that this was viewed as serious - not serious - business.

When work allowed, the two were squirreled away to work on the details. It wasn’t too unusual for Devon and Luce to hang out together. After all, they’d known each other for years, and regarded each other as siblings. There were supplies to get, timelines to determine. It all had to be worked out very carefully.

And it was.

Meticulous details were put in place. And the time is nigh.

Well after supper, as prearranged, Devon is blacks - boots, pants, long-sleeve shirt, even a baseball cap - when he comes to Avi’s door. A backpack (it’s black, too) hangs from one shoulder and looks filled, but not heavy. He checks his watch, then looks up and down the hall. All clear. Without looking at the door, he taps his knuckles against it.

No response comes from within. Somewhere down the hall, there’s a soft thumping heard from Demsky’s room, fists on a punching bag. The only other sound to be heard is the tinny buzz of fluorescent lights in the ceiling, and the occasional rattle of water in the exposed pipes overhead.

Next to Devon, Lucille looks over her shoulder and down in the direction of Colette’s room. Okay, coast seems clear so far. Giving Devon a nod she reaches forward with a non gloved hand to turn the knob on the door to Avi’s room to peer inside and then tip toe inside before Devon, crouching with squinted eyes. This assignment is important, yes it is.

The usual zen, slightly withdrawn nature she grew to hide behind has been warped by the turn of events with her scar and healing. She's more in a playful mood, easier to talk into performing pranks.

The mood in the air reminds Lucille of the days when she and Delia were younger and would try to prank their father. Lucille had taken to hiding things from her dad, his watch, a file while he was away. He always seemed to be able to find the things though, Lucille was weary of pranking a fellow old soldier like her father.

“Ok let's be quick. If he comes in..” Luce bites her lip. “I'll distract him like maybe if he thinks he's blind, he’ll think he’s drunk and be confused.” This is not afforded as a serious solution because she's snickering softly to herself.

Close on Lucille’s heels, Devon enters the room. He eases the door closed behind him and gives Lucille a look. “Maybe you could text him,” he suggests with a grin. His backpack is pulled off his shoulder and opened. Cans of Barbasol fill the largest compartment, the smaller ones are packed with uninflated balloons, a small funnel, and several tiny tubes of glitter. “Tell him to meet you… somewhere. Not here. Down the street because you need his opinion on a …book?” Yeah, he’s reaching for ideas.

Like Luce, he’s grown. He was borderline brooding when they first met, though not without moments of witticisms and playful banter he was typically somber. These days Devon is more open to joke around, poke fun at friends and family, himself and life. It’s almost like being able to experience the childhood he’d missed.

He starts pulling things out of his backpack. Balloons and cans of shaving cream are handed to his partner in crime. Others are kept for himself. Somewhere he managed to procure a couple of hand pumps to quickly inflate balloons. No more lightheadedness!

“Start with the glitter ones.”

There's something to be said for trespassing in a place others haven't ever. Perhaps Avi had forgotten to lock his door, perhaps he didn't intend to be away long enough to need to. As Lucille and Devon’s eyes adjust to the darkness in their commander’s room the shape and size of it starts to come clearer into focus.

There's not much here, it's a spartan space. There's a queen sized bed pushed into a corner, blankets neatly made in the way someone with a lifetime of Military upbringing might be compelled to do. A round table sits in the middle of the room, with an old cardboard box with torn corners sitting atop it. The box has records stacked inside, old vinyl records whose sleeves are battered and faded from age. The one on the top appears to be Cat Stevens.

Around the cardboard box are file folders, most of which look like they were water damaged and long-ago dried. Most of them are illegible, but most appear to be records. There's a header on all of them that reads Saint Margaret’s School For Girls. There's a coffee mug near the files, cold, but not empty. An ashtray sits next to that, a cigarette inside is still smoldering. The smell of tobacco smoke lingers in the air.

The only other pieces of furniture is a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed with a quilted blanket folded on top of it, and a small desk in the corner right by the door. The desk has a collection of photographs spread out on its surface, some of which have fallen onto the floor beside the narrow frame of the black desk chair. There's an open bottle of whiskey on the desk next to a .45 revolver.

“Cat Stevens? Wow never would have pegged him for a fan.” She muses lightly with a quirked eyebrow before she's pulling out her phone and giving her ‘kid bro’ a look, “Um..” Lucille stares down at the screen before she begins to type.

Can you meet me down the street at the cafe?
I need your advice.. on a extremely important matter.

The sounds of messages being sent off can be heard as she's sliding the phone back into her pocket and looking more around the room her eyes taking in the files on the table. School for Girls? Maybe it's a side assignment he's working on.. she does peer down closer to get a look and that's when she notices the cigarette that hasn't been sitting idle for that long it would seem. The open whiskey get a stare before she's looking over her shoulder at Devon.

“We’re probably fucked, looks like he was just here.. hurry hurry.”

The prospect of Avi walking in doesn't scare her away from the possibility of having some fun. Lucille’s mood has been more light recently and something the rest of the team would note. She chuckles as she hurriedly goes to fill the balloons, the glitter ones. Tossing them all over the room as she goes. She works as fast as she can and quietly, frequently needing to pause because she would erupt in a fit of giggles.

“This reminds me of creeping in on my mom and dad’s room the first time they left me home alone.” Devon only spares an initial cursory look for the room as he’s filling up balloons and tying them off. Once he gets into a rhythm, he allows a more thorough look from where he’s kneeled. Not everyone can claim that they looked into the secret world of Papa Avi and survived.

“Really? Cat Stevens. I wonder what other albums he’s got. My dad used to have a box almost exactly like that.” Filled with records.

Balloons are sent this way and that. Bright colors of red, blue, green, and yellow. Some have stars or smiley faces patterned on them in a contrasting white. Most are plain. All of them are filled with air, and a select few have glitter or shaving cream added. “We’re so dead if we’re caught.” The knowledge doesn’t stop him from snickering and continuing to work. The thrill of getting caught is almost as exciting as the thrill of getting away with this plan.

Yeah I can be there in a minute. Everything ok?

The response to Lucille’s text — and the name she'd forgotten she'd programmed for him in her address book — pops up after only a few moments. But something Lucille notices in the paperwork when she'd given it a cursory look hooks back like a boomerang in her mind. One of the documents had a name on it, mostly legible: Sibyl Epstein. There looked like there was a burned photograph, too. But she'd have to dig it out from under the other files.

There's a light snort as the name ‘Druncle’ pops up on her phone. “Dear god I was drunk that night..” she comments softly at having Avi u see such a name. As Devon finishes with the balloons Lucille’s eyes find that name. Epstein??. There's a quick look over to Devon but she doesn't want to distract him from getting out. She debates on whether or not she should take a closer look. Rapidly typing out on her phone.

It's Curtis. Not sure how to explain without it being in person. Thanks for coming.

She's quick with her lies. Lying to her dad for years about where Lucille was, who she was with and why she was there is second nature for the woman.

“Devon…” making up her mind as she picks up the documents with Sibyl’s name on them. “Look at this..”

As he ties off a balloon, Devon lifts his head and looks at Lucille. Brows raise when he finds the name, and the balloon is tossed aside with others. “Who…” But he’s not sure what question to ask. Or if he should ask. After all, they just broke into Papa Avi’s room – with the best of intentions – and now they’re going through his private stuff.

Bringing the remaining supplies with, there’s still some balloons to fill yet, he moves to stand by Lucille and look over her shoulder. “What’s it say?” Should they really be looking? Another balloon tied off and bopped away, and Dev gives his attention over to the next layer in the box. “What is all this?” None of his business, but he’s looking anyway, the mission temporarily abandoned.

Druncle: Jesus Christ why is it always Curtis? Yeah alright I'll be right there.

The text is a relief, it means he's not nearby or at least may not be headed back to his room. The files, though — the name finally clicks — the files are from an orphanage in the Safe Zone that burned to the ground in the beginning of March. But Sibyl Epstein appears to be a former ward of the orphanage. The photograph, though badly burned, is of a girl maybe 13 years old with dark hair and a piercing stare, even as a child. It's paper-clipped to Sibyl’s file along with another document that is a hand-written incident report from the orphanage.

Sibyl continues to try to undermine the staff. She has knowledge of things she could not possibly have without being “one of them.” She sees things in places she is not, speaks of conversations she could not hear. I am going to mention her to the soldiers next time they come. Maybe they will take her. There was a date on the file, but it's too damaged by water and smoke to be legible anymore.

Below all of these documents there was another photograph hidden. It's older, but also in better condition. Avi is in it, wearing a suit and tie and without a sliver of gray in his hair and two working eyes. He’s seated beside a woman of similar age with a charming smile. Between them is a tiny blonde girl no older than eight. The back of it has a hastily written message that reads: I figured you'd want at least one fucking picture of your daughter. The child bears no resemblance to Sibyl. Curiously, she does resemble Raith’s daughter Julie, whom Lucille had only met the one time. A dark time.

Beside this is a picture of a young man of maybe eighteen years old in a military dress uniform. He is smiling and while he bears a resemblance to Avi is clearly not him. There is nothing written on the back of that photograph.

The snap of that memory makes Lucille’s eyes widen. The pieces of a puzzle seem to be forming in front of her but they don't really match up in her mind. Julie she does recognize with a pang in her heart. The night she met that young woman was the night everything changed for her but she realizes that it's not actually her at all.. “The fuck..?” Lucille’s use of profanity is matched with a raise of her eyebrow. Pale hands pick up and hold the photos for closer inspection. “That Sibyl girl doesn't really.. it doesn't make sense. Who is she?” She shudders because it feels like Sibyl’s stare is burning through Eve’s very soul.

The reading of that note from the school makes her shudder. A girl like Tamara, Colette’s girl. “Psychic of some kind.. they wanted to hand her over to the government?” It's sad for Lucille to understand that some kids had it so bad probably, she didn't manifest until her twenties and though her life was turned upside down she feels a lot of these young manifesting kids had a pretty rough start to life. She thinks of Berlin, briefly.

“Look at him with two eyes, scary,” she teases and pokes Devon in the ribs.

His earlier joviality deflates like one of his balloons, replaced by a deepening curiosity as the name of the school settles into place. Any thought of finish the job and get out of there is forgotten as the mystery deepens. Devon sets the pictures of Avi and not-Avi side by side. “How’s she related to Papa Avi,” he asks the obvious question. The ribbing produces a shortly lived grin. “I can’t believe he was ever young. And who’s that girl?”

“There anymore in that file?” He collects the pictures, including the one of Sibyl, and crosses to the pictures on and around the desk. “If that note’s recent, why do you think the orphanage would give a kid to the government?” Even in the last year or so, it seems far fetched to think an orphanage would hand a kid over to soldiers for displaying some kind of ability if not a vivid imagination and penchant for mischief.

The pictures on the desk and floor are handled with care, but Devon scrutinizes with subjects in them. So much for not being nosy, now there’s a mystery to solve. The loose photographs, the ones from the box, are compared to those in the frames.

The solitary framed photo on the desk is of the blonde child in the group photo, but she's noticeably older now, maybe eighteen or nineteen years old. Her hair is long and wavy and unhealthily thin. The resemblance to Julie is still there, but it's clear this is another young woman. In the photograph she's seated on a park bench holding a dandelion between her fingers and looking sullen. In the background the Yamagato Building is visible, but out of focus, in the far distance. It appears to have been taken in the Safe Zone, possibly with a long zoom lens.

The other photographs are of the same girl, walking on the sidewalk, talking on a phone, getting into a bus, loitering outside of Elmhurst Hospital, in all of which she is using one or two mobility aids to walk, typically the same well-made, padded and ergonomic crutches. They look like surveillance photos, spread over a long enough time that her hair length fluctuates between photographs and the seasons are visibly different. All of them appear to have been taken in the Safe Zone.

Though he'd gone to the desk for the photograph, Devon can't help but notice something else there too. Next to the bottle of whiskey and the loaded .45 there's an old eyepatch and a photograph of four people arm in arm posing for a photo. One of them is clearly Avi and beside him Lucille recognizes Jensen Raith, though he's smiling and without a beard. There's a brunette woman with piercing blue eyes, and a taller and skinnier blonde woman flipping off Avi out of his peripheral vision. The photo was taken in a badlands or desert somewhere, and all four are dressed in desert camouflage and armed.


She makes that mental note about the hospital as flips through the photos, trying to commit as much to memory as possible. Eyebrows raised, “This just got real fucking strange.” Lucille blows out a long held breath, strands of her auburn hair floating upwards and then down.

“I think we should get outta here. I should go meet Avi..” she turns her head, pale blue eyes finding Devon near the whiskey and the gun. Luce isn't exactly sure what they found but she knows that it's not something Avi wants any of them to know but she's thinking of that girl as she reaches out a hand and almost hesitates but taps Devon’s shoulder as she backs away and starts to walk towards the door. Pranking, maybe they’ll get cussed out and put on dish duty or some shit.

Being caught snooping isn't something she thinks warrants the same type of punishment and so she wants to be as far from those documents as she can be, nearing the door Lucille looks at Devon, “Come on come on, job well done soldier.”

Mischief has been managed so.

“This keeps getting weirder and weirder.” Devon’s comment as he studies the pictures, those from the box and those framed, echoes Lucille’s spoken thoughts. “Who are all these people?” Of course, he recognizes the similarities, and he can pick out the younger version of Avi. But the rest are unknowns. “Dude, Papa Avi’s borderline creeper here.” That’s stated as he examines the surveillance-quality photographs.

The rabbit hole goes so much deeper.

The last photo tickles at a memory of his own, when he made a trip to a desert with Brad Russo and Kincaid August. He never did find out why they had to go to Coyote Sands, but the interrogation they each went through was enough to keep him from returning. Devon sets the photographs back where he’d found them, on and around the desk. The eyepatch is given a curious once-over, almost an afterthought. He carefully picks it up and turns it over in his hands, then returns it to its place at Luce’s prompting.

He shuffles the remainder of the photos back into the file box. The room is given a look over, to make sure they left nothing out of place. Nothing except the balloons. The bright colors and intended prank add a strange and sharp contrast to the mysteries of the commander. Devon drags the ball cap from his head with one hand and rakes the other hand through his hair. He can’t see anything out of place, so he turns to join Lucille back in the hall.

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