Once Upon A Dream


aura_icon.gif delia_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Once Upon A Dream
Synopsis Aura meets the color of hope in real life while an angel and wanderer catch up.
Date February 21, 2019

Red Hook Market

The Red Hook Market resides within the gutted shell of Textile Factory 17, a turn-of-the-century mill building that once served as the headquarters of New York's FRONTLINE civil defense organization. Miraculously, the building survived the civil war largely unscathed except for the total collateral loss of its electronics to the EMP that ravaged Manhattan. When the building was reclaimed by Gilbert Tucker in late 2015, it was remodeled with the intention of turning it into a central community hub for the entirety of the Safe Zone. Today, the multiple above-ground buildings serve as meeting halls, council chambers, offices, and storage rooms for the Safe Zone Cooperative. The basement levels, a labyrinthine maze of brick corridors, vaulted storage spaces, and small nooks, have become the sprawling home of the Red Hook Market, an open-air bazaar with free admittance to every Safe Zone resident. The market features pop-up vendor stalls, a single bar called the Red Hook Tavern, and food vendor stalls. Be sure to visit Eleanor, who has the best coffee in the safe zone at the corner in the main square.

Red Hook Market is a bustle of activity. It seems as though all of the stalls are busy, the ones selling that precious commodity called food the busiest of all. It’s later in the afternoon and most of them have run out of the more desirable perishables, Delia’s stall is no exception to that rule. A few rows of jarred tomatoes, pickles, jams, and root vegetables are all that’s remaining.

She hasn’t had the chance to pick up the book she’s been reading, a children’s classic called Treasure Island. It lays cracked spine and face down on a four legged wooden stool, with its dirty, dog eared pages looking too well loved. At the moment, she’s busy haggling with the bookseller on how many potatoes he can afford.

“I’ll trade you a three pounds for ten books.”

Three? I’ll take five for ten.”

“Are you kidding me? Potatoes are worth way more right now. There’s a food shortage going on if you haven’t noticed.”

“Oh I have. There’s also a shortage of literary minds, if you haven’t.”

Back and forth, the vegetable and book seller’s banter carries over the crowd. Most people ignore the exchange, it’s nothing unusual for the market itself. Bartering is just a normal everyday occurrence. With goods being more valuable than paper currency, it’s what most people do.

It's not the first time Elisabeth's been into the market… but it's the first time she's ventured out with Aurora in tow. She has a tight hold on the little girl's hand. There are just too many people — after a couple of years where there just weren't the sheer number of bodies in small spaces, it's a little disorienting. But Aurora did most of her growing up in the bustling New York of a Bright world, so to her this is not so bad. It's much better than the last couple places they lived.

Because she has no real destination in mind at the moment, Liz allows Aurora her head on which directions to wander. They're both dressed in sturdy, warm clothing that looks reasonably new, and their coats are in good condition. It doesn't make them exactly stand out, but they don't quite blend in either.

"Ooh! Mummy, books!!" Aurora's interest is immediately piqued as she spots the coveted items. With Blossom — as disreputable a stuffed dog as has ever been seen — tucked securely in the crook of her arm, her free hand draaaaaaags at her mother to get her to go in the direction of the books.

“Three for ten,” Delia reiterates weighing out the bag by feel, “and I’ll throw in a jar of pickles.”

“Alright, fine,” the bookseller concedes, seeing the size of the jar along with the quality of the potatoes. They’re not the shrivelled little ones from the stall down the way, they’re nicely sized and still relatively firm, despite being stored in a cold room all winter.

Once the deal is done, Delia turns, coming into full view of both Elisabeth and Aurora… and getting a good view of them too. Neither of them get a formal greeting, instead she crouches down to the little girl’s height and gives her a wide smile.

“I know you,” she recites, “I walked with you once upon a dream.” The Disney lyrics are classic, at least to her. Aurora’s plushie gets the nose tweak, “Has this little guy been keeping the bad dreams away?”

Because that's not alarming to a woman who has dealt with Hokuto! Elisabeth's reaction is instinct rather than thought — they've spent so many years on the defensive it's hard to short-circuit the immediate sense of threat, even when there isn't one. She fights for the control not to lash out at the person too close to her child, those moments offering the opportunity for her brain to catch up to the instinct and realize there's no threat. Just a niggling familiarity. It's been a lot of years, though…

Aurora, with one hand still firmly gripped in her mother's fingers, tips her head and studies the face of the woman. Her grin is brilliant. "It's you!" The brilliant sunshiney yellow is unmistakable to her. "But you're all growed up! How did you get all growed up so fast?" She pulls her hand out of Liz's and reaches out to touch the springy red hair. "I love your hair! It bounces. I wish mine bounced. Did you tell the dolphins goodbye for me?"

Elisabeth's brows shoot to her hairline and she clears her throat, still not quite placing the person — she hasn't actually gotten a good look at Delia's face yet, just a glimpse — and concerned because her 6-year-old shouldn't know the other woman. But when the face turns up toward her, the audiokinetic tips her head and blinks. "… Delia…?"

There's a few more lines in her face, crinkles near her eyes and creases near her mouth, from both too much sun and smiling but it's Delia. The one word question gets a slight nod before the little girl receives all of her attention again.

"Well… sometimes when we dream, I'm little like you. Sometimes when we dream, I'm a bunny… and sometimes when we dream, I'm big like this," she explains, trying to make it easy for Aurora to understand. "You were so scared, I thought that maybe being little would be best." She reaches out to touch the little girl's silky hair and shakes her head, "I like your hair, it's so pretty. Just like your mommy's a long long time ago." Then she leans in to whisper, "the sun came up, we didn't get to say goodbye."

She doesn’t get up just yet, tilting her head up to give Liz a reassuring smile, she lets the fine strands of Aurora’s hair slip through her fingers. “I heard the horrible news from dad and Nicole,” she explains, referring to the woman’s disappearance almost a decade ago. “I’m glad it wasn’t true… I didn’t see until Aura and I had our little adventure that you were back though.”

"Things were… kind of crazy. We sorta got misplaced." Elisabeth pushes a faint smile out for the younger woman, steadying her nerves — Jesus, she has got to get it under control before she loses her shit on someone. Shaking her head at her own thought, she turns her attention back to the conversation at hand.

"It … " Hmmm. How to put this. "I think we must owe you a thank-you, then…?" Her blue eyes are still cautious, but she's working on it. Adventures in dreams — she doesn't know what the hell to say to that, clearly.

Aurora has a look of wonder on her small face. "You get to be a bunny? Primal! Can we be bunnies next time? In a big garden with carrots? I like carrots. We don't get to have carrots much, though, cuz it's hard to grow them." At least, in worlds where soil is at a premium. "Maybe we could have beans too. You can get lots of those on one plant."

"No thanks needed," Delia replies quickly. "After the war, it helps me just as much as it does them." She doesn't explain that any further. "The things that happen, sometimes it's nice to escape into a place that can grow to be better."

"Primal!" She echoes Aurora's word, "You sound just like my little girl when you say that!" Big girl, whatever. Who knows about time travel anymore. She squints her eyes a little bit and then suddenly get up, turning back to her stall to pluck a jar off the shelf. When she returns to Aurora, she present the young lady with the treasure in hand. "Well if you like carrots, here's a bunch of pickled ones, just for you. But you need to share with angels, okay?" Then she winks, for the shared secret between the two of them. She doesn't promise they can be bunnies.

The little girl looks up to her mother before she takes the jar — if there's one thing that she knows, it's you don't take ANYTHING without permission. Elisabeth nods slightly and Aurora grins and reaches out to take the jar. "I get a whole jar just for me an' Mummy?" Her hazel eyes are very wide. The awe makes Elisabeth squeeze her eyes shut for a moment, her lips pressing tightly together. Her child has known far too many hardships. Then she puts a smile on her face and says, "Maybe we can share them with Daddy and Grampa too, okay?"

Aurora nods immediately. "That would be fair. Sharing is good. Unca Kain too?" She looks worried at the idea that Uncle Kain might not get any.

Elisabeth blows out a slow breath and says, "I guess we'll see if he'd like to, sure." Her blue eyes flicker to Delia. "I had hoped… that things would be a little better once we got here. Kansas was pretty nice, what I saw of it. Here…" She looks around. "There's a lot still to do, isn't there?" she asks wistfully. 'Going home' isn't what she thought.

"New York was hit hard," Delia nods, agreeing with the former FRONTLINE operative. "The coasts were the worst. Kansas City is nice and central, so it made sense to move the capitol there. At least, it looks nice in pictures, I've never been."

Aurora is the recipient of a whistful gaze before Delia's full attention goes to Liz. "We're rebuilding slowly but surely," she says with a bit of a smile. "Sometimes I wish that Yamagato had worked on different infrastructure than cellphone and internet service, there's basic needs that still aren't being met but…" She shrugs. "What can you do. We can't rely on Japan to dig us out of a mess we made ourselves, right?"

Turning her attention to Aurora again, she gives the girl a smile. "You know what? I have lots and lots and lots of gardens on the edge of town. If you like to grow things, maybe you and your mommy can have one to grow carrots and beans." She leans down then, to whisper loud enough for Liz to hear too. "And, you can come and play with my puppy. His name is Nibs."

Delia clearly has Aurora's number. The little girl gasps. "You have a puppy???" She bounces on her feet and looks up at her mother. "Pleasepleasepleaseplease Mummy? Can we see the puppy?"

Elisabeth starts to laugh, the genuine joy in Aurora a balm to her worries. "I'm sure we can visit the puppy at some point pretty soon here," she agrees, rescuing the jar of pickled carrots before the little girl can drop them to shatter all over the ground. While her daughter continues to bounce and squee a bit, Liz studies Delia with a smile. "We're uhm… living over at RayTech, so… if you'd like to stop in and see us, you're certainly welcome there too. I forgot my cell phone at the building — I haven't carried one in so long that I keep forgetting to put it in my pocket. But if you call the main line over there and leave me your number, I'll put it in there and then text you so you have mine?"

"It's really good to see you, Delia. It's really good to see everyone," she admits. Each small tie to someone here makes her feel a little less afloat.

“Last time I was at Raytech,” Delia shudders and shakes her head. “Does he still have that damned cat?” She winces at the word and gives a quick glance to little ears before grinning in apology at Liz. Oops. “I don’t carry a cell phone either, I usually use one of Nick’s burners for a while before I lose it in the mud or wherever.” She has different priorities these days.

“Not to worry though,” she says, reaching down to give Aura a little tweak on the nose before continuing. “I’m pretty sure this one knows how to find me whenever she wants.”

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