emily_icon.gif jasmine_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Needle
Synopsis Emily Epstein dreams of a girl named Squeaks.
Date August 9, 2019

In Dreaming

Emily Epstein dreams of a girl named Squeaks.

She sees her hand offered out, fingers folded save for the smallest, most delicate finger held outstretched. She remembers and sees the hesitation on Squeaks' face, where the younger girl considers that hand and then considers Emily's face with searching eyes. It's a silent few seconds before Squeaks lifts her hand, hooking her pinkie around Emily's.

And Emily curls her finger, keeping it trapped for just a moment.

And then nothing. Nothing that she can remember.

Other moments flip by, details that had been previously unremembered brought up, sifted through. When she wakes in the morning, she feels a little underslept, like her brain had been more active than it should have been. Life goes on, days slide by — hours, minutes, passing like sand. Every second counts, she had said in the diner, and maybe now that something seems to be happening, they feel even more urgent, vanishing like snowflakes melt on glass.

And then, one night, she dreams differently.

It is vivid. The smell of river and earth and ice, and the prickling of cold air in her nostrils, in her lungs. She blinks and sees a waterlogged treeline with ice and snow packed in where the river meets the shore on one side of her, as well as the other side of her. The sky above is a glary white with thick cloud making it into a marble dome, the sun completely diffused, no real direction, no hard shadows anywhere. Beneath her, she can feel the subtle shift of a drifting boat, and she sees she is in one, sitting at the bow.

Looking back, Emily sees she has company, a figure seated near the tiller at the motor, which is idle and silent. Jasmine offers a close-lipped smile. She is dressed warmly against the cold in a glorious fur coat of silvery mink with glamourously oversized sleeves and collar turned up to protect her neck, her hands gloved in fine brown leather. Her makeup is impeccable and classic, freckles disappeared beneath powdery porcelain, dry lips painted red. Her hair is long and flowing, raven black, with a wave secured with a clasp of silver over one ear.

"What does my cousin want from you?" she asks, gently, by way of hello, although dreams can be like this, where the first thing you remember is being in the middle of a conversation. That, or Jasmine can be a little rude.

For the first time in a while, Emily thinks, she’s sleeping deeply. This is a dream that is her dream. It’s not like the fitful starts of memory that haunt her in the morning, ones that make her worries and anxieties about what’s become of her friend deepen, but something different entirely. And why would it not be, with its vivid but strange nature? It feels like no memory she’s ever experienced before, after all.

And then she looks back, catches sight of Jasmine. Maybe it’s because it’s no memory of hers.

The question either doesn’t register at first, or she’s got things in her mental queue which need addressed first. Her brow twitches into a furrow as she works for a moment on trying to figure out what’s going on. Eventually, she resigns herself to going with the flow and adjusts her weight in the bow to find a more comfortable angle to sit at.

She startles herself when the boat moves underneath her, because she’s never actually been in one before. So much for going with the flow.

Her self-image takes a moment to fix in this setting. The realization it’s cold prompts her to develop the need for sleeves, pale and long enough to cover her knuckles, and then a coat over that, dark and lined, bearing a grey hood that’s draped back over her shoulders. Her breath remembers to fog. By her hip inexplicably rests a silver-hilted rapier in a supple, black-leather sling. Her hair now, unlike in real life, becomes drawn back into a loose ponytail behind her head.

“He wants my help,” she answers, shoving down all fears that answering now might strip her from Jasmine’s continued aid in her dreams. “He’s seen something, and he’s convinced himself I can help make a difference. That I can make bad people make a mistake, and that … maybe it’ll lead to their downfall. Maybe it’ll save people like Squeaks.” Missing people.

Her hands are folded between her knees, forearms resting along the tops of her thighs while she massages her knuckles absently. “What he wants is for me to believe in him, because if I don’t, then none of it will work.” Emily makes this observation with her eyes cast down, only after flitting her gaze to Jasmine. “He says that’s how my ability works. He says he’s from a future where I helped to raise him. I didn’t believe him, but he— he knows things. About the future. About me. It… can’t be a lie. He might be a precognitive drug addict, but he seems to have his shit more than marginally-better-together than Eve Mas does, that’s for sure.”

The outburst completes with a twist of her brow that drowns a scoff that wants to come from her (but doesn’t, because Emily, that’s rude) (and that’s something she’s becoming more aware of and actively trying to avoid) (not to mention, she has no idea if Astor actually has his shit together at all) and she refocuses her attention on Jasmine. “Are you from there, too?”


Throughout explanation/outburst, Jasmine has been serenely attentive. An unmoving, cattish presence at the other end of the boat with her furs and pale eyes, but as she answers, she seems to react, slowly. Brow knitting at the middle, her attention swiveling off to regard the river shore. Silent, for a few moments, and then; "His mother is Eileen Ruskin. My father is Nicholas Ruskin." She sighs out a breath of steam, and smooths out the sit of her coat against her thigh. "And my mother is Delia Ryans."

It's an easy card to flip onto the table, to avoid complications in the future, to make some things she already knows make a little more sense. "It's just so peculiar. When we came back, he seemed like he only fixated on the little things, if anything at all. And then he just…"

But she didn't bring Emily here to complain about Astor Loukas.

Jasmine returns her gaze to the girl in the boat. "He's not lying," she says, with the languid tone of someone who does not consider herself any more trustworthy to Emily than Astor is already. Still. It bears saying. "What does 'none of it will work' mean?"

When Jasmine says it, it all feels so obvious. Of course she’s Delia Ryans’ daughter. Of course she’s Nick Ruskin’s. Emily feels the hair on the back of her neck prick as she remembers the afternoon in the snow where she had interrupted their snowball fight. Their date, one might argue.

Maybe some things about the future they came back from do still happen.

Her gaze sharpens, reminding herself to do better — pay more attention in the future to not miss things like that. By the time that Jasmine looks back to her with her follow-up, the thin teenager looks a lot more prepared for the conversation and wherever it might take them. “If I don’t believe in something strong enough,” she explains easily, “then my ability doesn’t work. I have to believe that it’s the right thing to do, that it’s the right thing for them to do, and then I can convince people to… do that thing.”

Words lapse with a sigh when she can’t recall the exact phrasing. “Astor had this really eloquent way he put it,” she apologizes, because the way she described it was lacking in that department. “But that sums up what he told me. That—” And here’s where she starts to hesitate, but the roil of her subconscious keeps her from appropriately stopping herself. “He wants my help to stop Pure Earth kidnappings. He thinks I can force them to make a mistake, to take the wrong people. I haven’t asked him yet how that’s supposed to help.”

“At the time, I just told him I’d do it if he helped find Squeaks. We shook on it. And then a few weeks later, he introduces me to you, and … here we are.” Only then does Emily realize she’s said much more than she meant to, and her brow knits in sharp concern as she looks back up to Jasmine. It doesn’t feel right to try and downplay what she’s capable of doing, or hide behind how she’s figuring this all out as she goes. “I’m going to hold up my end of our deal,” she asserts with steel in her voice. “After we find my friend, I’m going to talk to him and figure out what exactly he means, and how to make it work. He’s making his best effort here, even if his best effort meant asking you for help — so I’m going to make mine.”

For Squeaks’ sake. And for the sake of everyone else who’s gone missing at the hands of the Pure Earth kidnappers, the nameless number who deserve better, who she hopes can go home again.

'The wrong people' has Jasmine opening her mouth to speak, but then closing it again. At a certain point, likely this point, what questions she has will be for Astor and not Emily.

So she listens in attentive silence, which draws out a few moments more once Emily makes her declaration. Then, she offers a smile, subtle and a little hesitant and makes her eyes crinkle at the corners, and it's a little easier then to see the real life person from the waking world, hidden in the glamour and shine of her avatar. "Then," she says, "we're on the same team." And in real life, that waking world, it might be ambiguous as to her meaning — because Emily is helping Astor, or what Emily is helping Astor with.

But because this is a dream, meaning has other methods of movement. Gut feeling says: Pure Earth are the magic words.

Around them, snow is beginning to fall. A light dusting. It catches on Emily's sleeves and hood, sparkles in Jasmine's mink fur.

She says, "Your friend is nearby," while giving a toss to her head that displaces and resits the glossy wave of her hair, back over her shoulder. No fine jewelry is visible at her throat, just a thin silver chain that disappears beneath furry collar. "Not physically, but." She lifts a shoulder, a demure motion. "There are two ways we can do this. I can invade her mind, shake it of its information, sift through it, bring you intelligence as far as I can reliably confirm.

"Or," and there is a special emphasis to this word that indicates the preferred option is coming up, "I can bring her here. You'll be able to talk to her. Get her side of things. Give her yours."

Emily's choice is instantaneous. "I want to see her," she states unwaveringly. "I want to talk to her, know if she's safe or not, let her know… let her know how much everyone misses her, how we're all fighting to see her."

It's only at this moment that Emily bothers to worry maybe she's not the right messenger for this. Maybe she should have asked that one of Squeaks' siblings go in her place. It feels selfish that out of every one of the people worried for the girl, that she's the one who gets the confirmation about her state.

All she can do is make sure to make it count. She lifts a hand to her heart, presses and hears the crinkle of paper beneath the heavy fabric of her breast pocket. She carries notes with her, all the things she means to say.

"I'm ready when you are," Emily says, failing entirely to keep the hope from her voice.

The last thing Emily perceives before this next moment of disorientation is Jasmine's hand in its soft brown leather closing around the tiller of the boat. Dreaminess, for lack of a better work, makes as smooth a transition as Jasmine can manage — it feels like the boat coursing quietly through the river. Emily remembers how black the water rippling against the bow, the soft rafts of ice breaking. It might take a little concentration to maintain her own details, the crinkled paper in her pocket and the rapier at her side, but only a little.

Lucidity is returned by the time the boat is coming up on empty docks. Wood standing in water is dark from damp, with snow encrusted to the corners. An island of rock and mud and forest and fog, through which Emily can make out the outline of Bannerman's Castle.

And a figure, standing at the docks, as if waiting.

Squeaks does not recall how she came to be here, but it's not a confusing lack of knowledge by any means. She is just here, in the cold, and almost muffled, she can hear the sound of a motor. This state of reality is fragile, made more so by its unfamiliarity. Any moment of focus means she could slip away into nonsense, into darkness, until she spies something colourful. In spite of her wintry surroundings, she catches sight of a bright blue butterfly, fluttering across her path, and coming to rest on one of the wooden pillars of the dock, slowing beating its wings.

A point of stability. It occurs to her, all at once, that she is dreaming.

Through the fog, she sees a small fishing boat, now silent, idling to stop by the jetty. She sees in it Emily, her blonde hair bundled up into a ponytail, in grey coat and hood. And no one else. If Emily glances back, she'll note the same.

But Emily doesn't look back. Her eyes widen as she sees the small figure with that familiar shock of reddish hair, longer now than she remembers, but no less recognizable. She remembers her words and her will, worn on her heart and her hip, and wills herself to hold on, to reach. To arrive.

She tries to ignore all else. The only memory she has of Bannerman's Castle was also seen through the eyes of another, haunting and awful and calamitous. Instead, she focuses on…


As soon as the bow of the boat brushes the dock, Emily launches to her feet to jump across. The boat rocks behind her in the water as feet hit board, bringing her to look over the younger girl. Briefly, Emily remembers the first time she'd ever called the moniker out loud like that, trying to get her attention so they wouldn't lose each other in the crowd gathered to witness a fireworks spectacle. She remembers the moment when the girl turned back, how excited she'd been as she waved them on to join her. The smile she wore.

A strangled note of sound keens in the back of Emily's throat as she wraps her arms as tightly around Squeaks as she can, rocking from side to side. She'll hold on only as long as she's allowed. "Squeaks."

Acceptance as much as curiosity is given to the surroundings Squeaks finds herself in. Lips purse to blow puffs of breath into the air, to watch it curl and drift into the sky. The tilt of her head allows her eyes to latch on to the flicker of color, track the flight of the butterfly with marked wonder. A dream? Must be, because there's no butterflies in the winter. She eases closer, ducked a little bit, for a better look.

“Hi,” she begins in a soft voice. Dream creatures can talk, right? If not, well… there's no need to be rude. She raises a finger but stops short of extending it to the butterfly when a familiar voice calls her name.

Her head lifts, body straightens, and she turns in time to see Emily jump from the boat.


The homesickness that's usually kept at bay washes over her. Threatens to drown her when she's wrapped up the older girl’s arms. For a minute she so strongly misses home it seems to ache physically. Squeaks cautiously wraps her own arms around Emily, as if sudden movement would cause her friend to disappear the way people do in dreams.

In the end, it’s Emily who lets go first, if only to check over Squeaks’ state in frantic, stuttered actions. She holds her at half-arm’s length by her shoulders, face painted with obvious concern as she looks her up and down. (And just for a moment, anger at finding there’s nothing wrong with her. God, now she knows how Julie felt.) She realizes quickly that it’s possibly a futile effort — this is a dream after all. Instead, she shakes the younger girl firmly, not realizing how rough of an action it is. “Where are you? We’ve been worried sick.”

For all the aggression in her, it can easily be read as desperation once her voice breaks. There’s tears in Emily’s eyes. “We’ve been looking everywhere for you, Squeaks.” God, she’d gotten on a plane to go looking, even. She means to say as much, but her breath catches as she tries to keep from getting emotional. They’ve got to make the most of this time — who knows how long it is. In a silent apology for her aggression she hunches down to be more on level with the younger girl, eyes pleading for a reply.

Like a koala, it isn't so easy to remove Squeaks from Emily's person. But eventually the younger girl allows herself to be pushed back and looked over. Nope, nothing wrong that can be seen. Either because it's a dream, or because actually nothing is wrong.

“I don't know,” she begins to answer, her head tilting back slightly so she can look up and past Emily's shoulders. She sounds thoughtful as she says it too. Probably because now she is wondering where she is. This dream place isn't like anything she's ever…

We’ve been looking everywhere for you, Squeaks.

When Emily gets more on a level with her, Squeaks returns her attention to the blonde. “When I dreamed before, I tried to show where I was. You or my mom or Brynn. Or anyone would come looking, but just walk right by.” It's weird talking about a dream within a dream, but here we are. Her brows knit, arms wrapping loosely around her middle. “Why are you finally now talking and seeing me?”

Emily's expression breaks when Squeaks describes what her usual dreams are like— what she believes it means the younger girl fears. That everyone just went on without her. She settles her hands on the edges of her shoulders, hands draping down the side of her arm. "This isn't just a dream," she says, suddenly taking note of the wink of a butterfly near them, looking back to Squeaks with greater intensity after that. "Someone helped guide me to you, so I could talk to you— so we could…"

She takes in a breath to avoid letting her emotions get the best of her and to ramble endlessly. "Squeaks, we've been fighting so hard to find you. We— looked everywhere. Joe went into the sewers, the Underneath place you talked about. Brynn helped make these missing posters. Gene and Hailey helped canvass them. Joaquin and SESA were going door-to-door. Lance flew with me and the ink lady all the way to Kansas City to see if we could… but it either wasn't that easy or you're even further West than that." She has ten different other things she could say about all the people worried and searching hard, but Emily lets out an involuntary, incredulous laugh, holding onto Squeaks as she says, "Your mom, she asked for the journal back and I don't even know where she is, but she left town and she's out there, looking for you."

"She misses you so much. We all do. We all want you to come home." Her cadence is broken then, her throat growing tight.

"What happened?" Emily asks, even dreading that the answer might be that she left them on purpose. "Did someone grab you like last year? Are you safe where you are now?"

Squeaks almost claims the impossibility of it being anything but a dream, her eyes slide off to the side and her mouth starts forming the words, totally intending to interrupt.

But the words aren't spoken, and Emily's explanation goes on without the younger girl cutting in.

Tears sting her eyes as the older girl continues. Some part of her knew that her friends would look for her. That secret part that she's had to keep hidden. Because she can't be found. “It's dangerous,” she explains in a small voice, not intending to interject but satisfy — remind — herself why no one knows.

Her eyes lift when Emily laughs, filled with tears. There's already a track of moisture from the corner of one eye and the other looks not that far behind. “I needed to know. Because… because no one else could help. There weren't answers anywhere.”

The younger girl pulls in a deep breath and holds it until the burn in her chest overwhelms the ache in her heart. “I didn't get kidnapped,” Squeaks continues on that breath, as she lets it out in a rush. “I… Zhao said he could take me to someone who had answers but… but I didn't know. He wouldn't let me tell anyone. He said he'd know if I did. It's dangerous. I don't want you or my mom or anyone hurt because I told.”

Emily can’t explain it, but the moment she sees Squeaks struggling just as hard to keep herself something, something compels her to get her own shit better together. She needed to be the responsible one right now, she couldn’t be falling apart. She was the younger girl’s link back to home at the moment, and she needed to make every second count.

So she lifts her hand, rubbing away that stray tear with her thumb, brow knitting as she looks Squeaks over with an expression she knows well — the one that the younger girl sees the older wear whenever she worries too much, when she’s thinking hard about something. When she locks up, Emily merely lets out a quiet hush, rubbing the bicep of her sleeve in a gesture of comfort.

She has the grace to not react at all at hearing Squeaks wasn’t kidnapped forcefully just so much as … taken. Blame isn’t assigned, or even discussed, she just lifts her hand to rest it on top of the girl’s shoulder in a clearer gesture of trying to provide stability — a point for her to root onto. Quiet while she explains, all Emily does is nod. Zhao. It’s a name for the Ghost Triads old man who knew too much which is …

it’s a start, and that’s something.

“We’re hurt already without you here. There’s nothing Zhao or anyone else could do to make that worse,” she reassures the girl, resisting from frowning too much though there is a definite subtle downcurve of her mouth. “You can trust me — trust this moment. Even if you can’t trust what happens when you’re awake, you can trust me now, Squeaks.” Something comforting and warm wraps itself around her voice, settling bone-deep into her friend’s smaller frame, dreamlike though it is. Emily is certain they are safe here on this precarious tether they’re meeting in the middle of.

“What can you tell me about where he took you, Squeaks? What other people are there? Are they weird? Are they wearing anything that makes them stand out?” The older girl is trying hard to find ways to approach the question to elicit answers of any kind, rather than the ‘right’ answers. Any description could help, after all, even if Squeaks didn’t realize it. “How did you get where you are?”

“It… it was like I blinked and just suddenly we were here.” Squeaks answers the last question first. It seems the least damning of anything else she could say. The easiest one while she struggles to find a suitable explanation for where she's at. Her hands clasp, fingers tightly locked together. Apprehension is a pothole in the trust she longs to extend to her friend.

Fear that Zhao might be lurking nearby, somehow spying, prompts her to look over her shoulder.

“It's… it's sort of like a pyramid. A city inside a pyramid all full of people. They're normal too. Just normal people like us.” Swiveling her head around, the younger girl looks up at the older. Worry casts a shadow over her expression. Is she saying too much? Or just enough? Her teeth scrape against her lower lip and she peeks at the butterfly. A dream that isn't a fully real dream.

“They're nice. I have my own room and they make sure I eat three meals every day.” Squeaks’ attention returns to Emily as she continues. “One… one of them. The one that Zhao brought me to. He… he knows my real parents. And about Gemini and Umbra. He's trying to help. To make things better for all of us.”

Silently, a second butterfly lands on the collar of Emily's coat, electric blue and finely veined in inky black. Its wings move slowly as fine legs pick across fabric, proboscis unfurling in little questing motions.

A third lands on Squeaks' arm, takes off again almost immediately, fluttering out of sight.

Emily smiles, trying to show she follows, but the crease in her brow is telling as for her worry and her need for additional answers. What she surmises is: the kidnapping either happened because Squeaks was drugged, or there was a teleporter involved. A pyramid full of people is harder for her to place, at least initially. The mention of dangerous experiments merits much more immediate addressal.

Her stomach sinks. What the hell has Squeaks gotten herself into?

"Who? Who knows that? Anybody who knows about that stuff, it's got to be because they were close to it, or they wanted to be, and those are not good people, Squeaks." Make things better? Emily gives a bewildered shake of her head. God, what had they been feeding her?

In a moment of frustration, her head drops, eyes closing. Even with Squeaks right here in front of her, she suddenly couldn't feel further away. Was she even trying to get home?

It's the least productive thing she could do, but when she looks back up, all Emily can do is ask, "Squeaks, why? Why did you go alone? After all of the shit you gave me, how could you do this?" To her. To everyone.

The flutter of blue draws Squeaks’ eyes to the butterfly on Emily’s collar, then the one that touches upon her own arm. She lifts a finger after it when it flies away, her hand hanging in the air for a long second.

“Not everybody is bad that knows about bad things,” she points out quietly. Her hand drops to her side and she looks up at Emily, hurt that such an idea would even present itself. She's known the older girl to be suspicious of all of the things, but after the Ink Lady, after the fights about fake-dead people and mysterious journals?

“I know about them. About Gemini and Umbra. I'm not a bad person.” Am I? Worry that she might be now, in her friend’s eyes, flutters through her core just like a butterfly’s wings.

Squeaks looks away, down at the water then the frozen ground. Partly in shame because she did fight with Emily about going off alone. The accusation stings. The pain she caused by leaving constricts her throat. Why did she go alone? “Because no one could help. I had to find answers.” Her voice is small and tight, and she pauses to take a breath. “I needed to know about me, about what was done to me. I knew Zhao would know something. I didn't know he was going to take me so far. Or bring me to my real dad.”

The younger girl looks up finally, sad and angry. “I'm sorry, I didn't want to leave home. I just needed to know. No one understands that. No one… no one can help, so I've been learning it alone.”

For a moment, Emily’s jaw hangs, mouth opening and closing as she struggles to find an answer that’s not just placating. No, she doesn’t want her friend to think she’s a bad person, but…

Then her brow lifts. “Your dad?” comes from her before she can stop herself. Something had been done to Squeaks? Did she have something to do with those experiments? This isn’t what she expected to hear at all. This was… messy. This all sounded messy as hell.

That’s a clear indicator it’s probably the truth.

“Squeaks, I—” Words aren’t easy. She tries to understand, anyway. In the end, all she can do is draw her into another firm embrace, holding her as tightly as she can. “I don’t think you’re a bad person, Squeaks.”

For a long minute, Squeaks doesn't hug back. She stands, without struggle or tension, accepting the shelter made up of Emily's arms. Finally her arms do lift and wrap around her friend in a clinging sort of hug, as if it doesn't matter anymore that it's a dream.

“Okay.” It's her turn now to break from the embrace. She misses her family and friends terribly, but she's on her own now. She has to rely just on herself. “Because I'm not. I'm only trying to find out what the experiments are and why was I part of it. Not so I can do them or help people do them.”

Placing herself at an arm’s length to the older girl, Squeaks tries to think of how to explain things. Gemini didn't seem so bad, and there's things she knows now that could explain her connection to it. But Umbra…

“My dad was really mad when he heard I was used for Umbra. He's helping find out why, but he can't say much about it.” It's dangerous to talk about, her tone implies.

"Okay," Emily confirms in kind. It's good to know she's not got other motivations for her interest. But god. Wasn't Gemini that thing they needed people like Devon for? She bites her tongue, because that's not helpful at all to the moment. Because she doesn't know about this second thing, either. Fuck if it were dangerous to talk about or not, though.

And yet, she doesn't say anything to challenge the need to keep it quiet. Not yet. Because

"Squeaks," she wonders. "Who's your dad?" And after a hesitant pause, she goes on to ask, "Is he…?"

Good? Nice? Not a bastard? What the hell kind of person was he if he knew about all that bad shit?

Just because he was feeding her three times a day did not exclude him from being an asshole. Even prisoners get three hots and a cot.

That's a hard question to answer.

For an instant, Squeaks clamps protectively down on the answer, hides it in childish manner. She knows she only needs to ask and her mom would move mountains if it was possible, but her dad’s attention and time fills a need she didn't know existed. The stigma surrounding the man is understood in an adolescent manner, even though she knows well enough that he can take care of himself.


“First,” she begins, cautiously and with a pinky finger held up to seal a promise. “When I tell you, you have to keep an open mind. You can't get mad or tell me I'm in danger because I'm here and you aren't. Things you heard aren't as true as you think.”

The younger girl extends her hand to Emily, offering her pinky first.

What? Emily looks down at the extended hand and then back up at the girl wielding it. "Squeaks, some asshole kidnapped you because he had leverage on you through information you wanted to know. He made you leave everything behind. I'm fucking furious," is conveyed in an even tone, no raising of voice.

She doesn't know if she can keep a poker face here. She can't promise to not get mad.

"I can try to keep an open mind, but, I can't trust anyone who won't let you be you. Who wouldn't at least let you talk to us." Emily's brow furrows, and she can't lift her hand for that pinkie swear. "Do you understand?" she asks cautiously, her voice bleeding with that desire to be honest. Her shoulders slope down, feeling as though she might be failing by not extending blind trust, or lying about it.

“He never made me do anything.” The finger remains offered, but Squeaks’ tone is most serious. She isn't mad, but it's important to know. Has anyone ever actually been able to make her do anything she didn't want to do? Or even make her not do something she wanted to do?

“My dad wasn't happy how I got there either, but it was my choice to go.”

It wasn't an easy one either. The memory of that day tickles unpleasantly, the broken-record that was Zhao telling her no. No she couldn't let anyone know, she couldn't tell her mom not to worry, she couldn't say goodbye. Tears prick her eyes, but she blinks them away and makes herself stand taller.

“It's Adam Monroe.” Boldly stated, almost challenging.

Squeaks has spent more time around him than almost anyone she knows, and what she's heard doesn't match what she's seen. “Eve is wrong. He isn't a bad person. He's done bad things, but so have a lot of people. It's… it isn't the what things people did, it's why. He did things so we could be better, not having to be afraid because we're different. We have the Chesterfield thing now, but there's people wanting to be president who will make it bad again. That's what Adam is trying to stop.”


But Emily is robbed of words and sense, her eyes widening. Shock. Horror. Not betrayal, but anguish that Squeaks doesn't know what he's done, not what his people have done. The older girl rationalizes that she can't possibly know.

Otherwise, she'd not be trying to defend him.

She tries to speak again, and still nothing comes, just a parting of lips accompanied by dead air. Her ability to cope with the information presented requires more than she can give right now, which leads to airing the only logical question she can think of.

"What the fuck, Squeaks?"

The sound of her own voice wakes her up.

Laudani-Epstein Townhome

Emily's heart is racing, eyes wide at the ceiling she shouldn't be seeing right now. All it took was a blink and she had slipped off of the tether, had jerked awake from the shock of what she'd heard for more than one reason. Her throat crackles from the question she'd nearly shouted in her sleep.

No. she thinks futilely, like it will either undo what she was told, or take her back to the dream so she can demand answers for herself.

No. No, no, no.

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