Potential Hangout Discovered


brynn_icon.gif caspian_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Potential Hangout Discovered!
Synopsis After the Sunday meal, Brynn and Caspian talk about his building. Squeaks comes and eats.
Date March 12, 2018

Caspian's Apartment

Built on the second floor of a disused building in a nice part of the safe zone, Caspian’s place is sparse, with a couch and a sectional scavenged from somewhere, a galley kitchen with appliances that work, and air conditioning and heating that keeps the place comfortable. Windows line the tops of the walls, giving plenty of natural light, while a few partitions have been built to separate the bathroom (Right door) from his bedroom (left door). Rugs cover the hardwood floors and, despite the worn nature of everything in the large single room, it’s clean and tidy. Several walls are taken up with murals, spray painted over time, with others half-covered in paint, ready to begin again. A large blank spot near the door sits, spray cans at the ready, for guests to add their mark. Solar panels on the roof and a battery bank in an out-of-the-way closet on the bottom floor keep the entire place powered, even through brownouts.

The electric fence is OFF

Caspian's apartment. At least a day since someone invited themselves in to partake in food, having only overheard of the meal and decided to show even without an invitation. There was plenty, that's for certain, so it worked out even if that someone more or less crashed the party. And since that someone was given food, it's suddenly become a stop in the early morning hours, when scavenging is at its easiest.

That's why all the warnings about feeding the wildlife exist.

Not that Squeaks is a literal wild creature. Just a kid scraping by like most everyone else. But that the kid was invited in for a hot meal, that there was more than enough to go around. It's like a bear drawn to a fish rack.

Bright blue eyes peer out from beneath the shade of a hood much too large for it. A glance would dismiss the scrawny form as just a bag of refuse left outside, Squeaks sits so still waiting, watching the building across the street. The building which shelters a lot of cool things, useful things. And that could be part of what drew the kid back so soon. Cool things, and food.

After the previous evening's festivities that lasted well into the night and the required cleanup after seeing everyone off, Caspian got started a little later than he normally would. Normally, he'd be in the safe zone working by now, but thanks to the late night, he missed his alarm and had to reschedule some things. Pushing open the front door, Caspian comes out with a bowl of something steaming, a glass of something else, and sits down on one of the chairs on the porch, starting his day well after the day has started itself. He's still partially asleep, so shout if you're wanting to get his attention

The door opening is a good sign. Squeaks' head lifts a fraction and eyes follow the man's movement from door to chair. Not until Caspian is seated does the kid across the street make purposeful movements to get up and cross the street. With all the caution and confidence of an alley cat, footsteps are purposeful and bring the small form straight to the edge of the property. It wouldn't be a stretch at all for a finger to be placed on the fence, an inch of buffer left as a just in case. Just in case it's turned on.

"You got more food," Squeaks' voice calls out, easily loud enough to be heard at the house and maybe even just inside.

Crashing at Caspian's was left as an open invitation, but Silvia had to be taken home. And though she trusts him implicitly, Brynn hasn't honestly known Caspian long enough to accept that invitation. The deaf teen is a strange mixture of streetwisdom and innocence. As she makes her way back over to Caspian's with her sketch pad to talk to him about some art work, she pauses by the gate because she spots the figure at the gate. She smiles a little and waves at Caspian from behind the smaller girl.

Sitting on the porch in the morning is one of those relaxing things that Caspian really never thought that he'd deal with, but here it is. Just sitting, watching the world wake up, is a pretty nice thing to do. He blinks as movement starts to register - birds flying past, the leaves on his plant fluttering in the cool morning air, and the hoodie-clad Squeaks at his front gate. He's just about to take a bite of his oatmeal - with lots of brown sugar and a little dab of butter that he traded for the other day - when Squeaks speaks up, the man shifting a little to gaze at the gate. "Sure." He calls, motioning for both of the girls…women…he never got the syntax for when it's okay to call ladies one or the other. Still, he motions for them to come closer. "Come on in, Squeaks. Gate's unlocked. If you don't mind oatmeal, you can have this and I'll whip up some more." He offers Brynn a wave. "Hey there, Brynn."

The scuffle of feet on pavement draws a quick glance in Brynn's direction and a sidling shuffle some more inches away from the gate. Not too far, as there's a potential meal on the table. And besides, any food is good food, so long as it's not going bad. Squeaks gives the older girl a vaguely toothy expression - it isn't entirely a grin, but there's definitely no menace to it. An awkward, sort of wordless greeting, edging toward friendly. It's followed up with a tip of her head and raised eyebrows, motion aiming at the gate before hands snake free of hoodie sleeves to reach forth and open it.

Brynn can't hear the other girl's sounds, but she offers a gentle smile at Squeaks and gestures for her to go ahead. Then she's in the gate behind her, no idea whatever it was that Caspian and Squeaks were talking about. But it doesn't really matter at this moment.

When she shoos the younger girl up the steps, Brynn realizes that Caspian was having his breakfast and looks a little uncomfortable. It's not polite to bust in on people eating! But she heads for one of the chairs on the porch, keeping out of the way while Cas does whatever business he has with Squeaks.

Not much business to be had. As the pair enter the gate, Caspian gets to his feet and vanishes inside, his bowl of oatmeal left on the little table on the porch. When he returns, it's with a second heaping bowl and an apple, doctored up just as he had it, before he re-takes his seat with a sigh and a smile, reclaiming his bowl as he starts to eat. "Hey there, Squeaks. It's good to see you again. it's good to see you too, Brynn. Did the leftovers make it back to your place okay?" Caspian looks to squeaks. How're you holding up after last night? You ate three plates…I figured i'd have to roll you out the door."

The hood that's kept face mostly shrouded is pushed back as steps are mounted. And though a look goes to the temporarily abandoned bowl of oatmeal, Squeaks doesn't claim it. Manners might be lacking from the kid, but at least there's respect given to other's food. At least there is this time. Feet roam and carry the kid across the porch and back, almost pacing but wandering eyes give away a tendency toward curiosity.

Even Brynn is circled around, Squeaks still allowing curiosity to take the forefront until Caspian reappears. "Hungry." The explanation isn't given with any form of contrition. Three plates could easily have become four or five, if not for the late hour. And the pocketful of easily pilfered foodstuff that could keep for a couple of days if another easy meal isn't found.

Tilting her head, watching the two, Brynn frowns a little. Caspian doesn't know enough Sign to carry on a full conversation, so she whips the small notepad from her jacket pocket and writes out, Squeaks… don't you have someplace to stay? Or anyone to look out for you? Because she's been lucky enough not to be there despite all that she's lived through. You could totally crash with me and Lance and Joe, if you need a place. It's not like we haven't crashed 6 or 8 to a room before.

Caspian is working on it, really. He knows like 20 'most important' signs, and still needs to pencil in ASL classes somewhere if Brynn's going to keep coming around. He places three fingers to his brow and shrugs his shoulders, giving a little salute motion that means 'I don't know' before he takes a bite or two of his oatmeal, waiting to see what Squeaks says to this. The extra food is placed on the table, along with the apples, in grabbing range, Caspian sitting back to eat.

Without getting into the older girl's personal space, the younger cranes her neck and leans to look at the writing on the notepad. "Jude," Squeaks begins to answer. But only the name comes out and her gaze comes up with a sort of Oh expression. Any knowledge of ASL is easily less than even Caspian's. There follows an awkward moment with a vague motion toward the pencil and paper.

The response then comes written, as the pencil and notepad are uneasily taken, in the same unpracticed hand from last night, as well as spoken. "Jude looks out for me. We stay underneath at Astoria." A pause. "At the N end."

Brynn easily allows her take the pen and paper to write. She reads the response and then nods. OK. She writes and then smiles a little. She doesnt' know who Jude is, but she's not going to pretty too hard right then. Not enough trust yet. I can read lips, so you can talk to me. If I don't catch it, I'll let you know, though. She shows Squeaks the note again. Then she points to the bowl of oatmeal that Caspian has clearly left for the scrawny girl. She jots down to Cas, The leftovers were great, Cas. Thank you so much for last night. They're dinner for tonight. Unless, of course, Joe bogarts them. But the three teens are adept at looking out for themselves, so it's okay.

Caspian gives a thumbs up since his mouth is full of oatmeal when Brynn scribbles down her thanks for the meal but, once he swallows he answers. "You're welcome. I've been here a month and got to hang out with you guys, so it all worked out. I wanted to celebrate and you guys got a good couple of meals out of it." Squeaks may notice that Caspian is facing Brynn when he speaks and, while he's speaking at an average rate, he's being very clear and enunciating his words. Until ASL becomes a thing he knows, he's being sure that what he says gets across.

The mention of Jude gets an arched eyebrow, the bowl of oatmeal disappearing into the big man quite rapidly. "Jude? Is he your brother or something? I could make a sandwich or something for you to take to him, if you need me to."

"No." The answer comes with a head shake and a look at the streets. But as she speaks, her face turns toward Brynn even if her eyes haven't. "Jude eats everything. Even things that aren't good now." Squeaks points to a space between a couple of buildings, just down the street. There's no one there. Just a couple of stray mutts that have ripped into a garbage sack. "See." Deciding that's sufficient explanation, the kid takes claim of the other bowl of oatmeal.

Tilting her head, Brynn watches what Squeaks says … and what she does. When get gray eyes shift sideways to see what's being pointed at, the slender brunette gets very big eyes and looks at Caspian. She can't converse the way she needs to now, and she doesnt' want to write down anything that will scare Squeaks away. Jude is a dog? she writes. Oh God. This is exactly what Joe and Lance and Brynn all grew up doing… pulling in people and helping. She writes down quickly, You know… you could still crash with us. Jude could come too. It's not fancy, but we dont' go hungry. And its' just us. Like, no grown-ups, if the teen wants to look at it that way.

In Caspian's defense, he's kind of not a grown up, but is, too. He has a job and a business, but skateboards and does graffiti, so there's a nice little dichotomy going on with the guy. He finishes his oatmeal and reads, nodding, the corner of his mouth going down as he thinks, brows knitting. The Astoria's been abandoned since the war….outside the walls. But underneath? That's the subways. An uncharted maze of tunnels, access ramps, and rooms that no-one really can get into due to collapsed tunnels and twisted steel. "We could find some dog food, I guess. Mabye get lucky and see if there's a vet to check Jude out? Make sure he's healthy?"

"Jude." Squeaks doesn't call to the dog she's pointing at, but there's something in the way she states the name that confirms their suspicions. "He's healthy. Eats good, doesn't bother anyone. I don't bother anyone." Broken logic comes between mouthfuls of oatmeal. There's no time wasted in eating or proving any statements she's made. "Is it like underneath?" Quiet, labyrinthine, spaces only a skinny kid and stray could fit into.

Brynn shakes her head negatively. Nope. Lance has an apartment. Joe does too, but he never stays there. And Lance lets me sleep on his couch so I don't have to sleep in the camps — guys look at me weird there. She doesn't hide the words from Caspian. A couple nights was more than enough — if I hadn't found Lance when I did, I'da been sleeping somewhere in the underneath too!

Jude: https://tinyurl.com/ya3ktfbv

The empty bowl and glass are taken inside to be cleaned later. Caspian remains inside for a moment or two, returning with a plastic bag with the two hambones from last night, wrapped up tight. "I'll see about finding some dry dog food for you, but this…" he hefts the bag. "Will fill his belly and give him something to do." Brynn's comment about the camps gets a soft nod and a frown, his pencil coming out to add count this as a safe place too to the scribbles.

"Underneath is safer." The bowl in Squeaks' hands is scraped clean and exchanged for the apple, which is disappeared into the too-large hoodie. "No one goes underneath. Not like the camps." A pause as the kid considers, staring at the bowl that she'd emptied. If not for the film left behind from the oatmeal, it'd be practically clean enough to put away now. "One night? Just to try." Bargaining directed at Brynn, it's easier to find food aboveground.

Caspian takes the now emptied bowl and heads inside, returning while Brynn is writing with another bowl full. "Thirds will take a little time." he adds, re-taking his seat.

Brynn shoots a smile at Caspian, nodding a bit. I know that, she promises. And then she immediately nodnods to Squeaks! One night, just to try. That's fine! She'll make sure Joe and Lance know why and they'll make it perfectly okay for Squeaks to stay. Brynn'll even give up the couch!

Caspian sits back with his drink, reading the scribbling going on the pad, giving Brynn the ASL for bath, just long enough for her to see it. "Brynn, Lance, and Joe are good people, Squeaks. Might even let you bring Jude along to visit if he'll come. I might suggest giving him a good scrub first, though."

The new bowl is taken and started into with no less enthusiasm than the first. Just a little slower. Oatmeal is filling. Squeaks stares at the writing, then splits a look between Caspian and Brynn. Did she just fall into a trap? Perhaps, or not. One night is one night. "Jude likes being outside. Doesn't like inside places except underneath because it's almost like outside."

There's no trap, but Brynn recognizes the wariness. We won't make you stay if you don't want, she writes for Squeaks. It's just an offer for safe sapce, that's all. It's still really cold sometimes at night. She doesn't have the right to shove this girl into places and she won't. It's not what they do. She grins at Caspian. I need to borrow the restroom. It's as good an excuse as any to let Caspian build a friendship with the skittish younger teen for a little while as Brynn figures out what to tell Lance.

The filling qualities of Oatmeal are exactly why Caspian has chosen this for a breakfast - it's cheap, quick, can be doctored in multiple ways, and best of all, fills you up for a long time. Perfect for breakfast in the land of food shortages. "Well, take him those bones before you vanish for the night. I think he'll be a little worried if you don't come home." Brynn gets a wave. "All the way in the back, door on the right." he helpfully suggests, sitting back and sipping his juice, now left alone with the red-headed Squeaks.

"So…" He rocks a little. "I haven't met anyone who lives underground like you. It must be hard."

"It's just living." Squeaks paces a half circle that brings her back to the steps. That's where she sits, bowl balanced on knees that are drawn up. "Not hard or easy, just living. Like up here. There's less people." Pausing in her explanation, she turns an eye on Caspian. "I like it. No dangerous people. Sometimes there's not enough food." Like now.

"I know. I got lucky with the building, with having stuff to bring in. With having stuff to share. Just required getting out of California during the war and working my butt off during and after to get to this point." Caspian relaxes in his seat, crossign one leg over the other. "If you need food, you let me know. If I can share, I will. You were brave, coming in last night uninvited, but I'm glad you did."
When Brynn comes back out, it's with her sketch pad in hand and her backpack still securely on her back. She resumes her seat on the porch, seeming content to merely draw in the corner while the two talk. Her gray eyes flicker between them, but she makes no effort to interrupt.

"Needed food." It's a simple enough reason, nothing to do with being brave. At least, Squeaks doesn't seem to think so. "Other places were closed, yours was open." Not really the same thing. Obviously, the apartment Caspian has claimed isn't an operating charity. A fact that the kid probably chose to overlook. She stands, when Brynn appears, bowl again scraped as clean as it can be. "My turn." Into the building she goes, and the bowl is brought with her, as no further explanation is given or even a request to use the facilities. Just the plain assumption that it would be accepted.

Brynn watches her go inside and her gaze is thoughtful. She's been alone a long time, she writes for Caspian, looking back at him. She's what we would have been without Brian and Aunt Gilly and Aunt Kaylee and Aunt Eve and everyone…. The Ferrymen took a lot of us and got us out of New York before the war. And they made sure we could look out for ourselves, but… She looks after Squeaks a little sadly. They couldn't get everyone. Obviously. No one could have.

Caspian peers over his shoulder as Squeaks disappears into the house proper, scooting over to peer at Brynn's sketching and notepad before sitting back to look out at the street, paying attention when she starts to write to him. His pencil scratches over the page. Through a mirror, darkly. It's what a lot of us could have turned into if things hadn't worked out in the right ways. It's hard to see. Still.

One of the survival modes for a lot of people is to ignore problems and pretend they don't exist. People like Squeaks, who fell through the cracks, are pretty much ignored. If they survive? Awesome. If they don't? Another corpse in the ruins to be scavenged. No harm, no foul. It's a horrible truth of the world and one that Caspian, in his own little way, is trying to prevent from happening too terribly often. "They couldn't get everyone. too many hands to help. They helped as many as they could, though, and I think that our job is to help those that got missed."

Brynn's smile is a lovely one. That's what we want to do, too. We're…. that's the legacy they gave us. To help people like us. We're not hunted or anything now. But… there's still a real need for things like training centers. And … places for kids like Squeaks to go. That's really what I want to do. Besides my art, anyway. She bites her lip. We were all supposed to go to college together. Lance even got *in* and turned it down… he won't go without Joe. I just didn't apply early enough. Joe, though…. it's hard to get him to sit still sometimes, so school's harder for him.

There's a moment as Caspian sits and thinks, worrying his lower lip. "Come with me." he finally says, pushing himself to his feet and heading down the steps of his house, making a quick left, and heading up the stairs to the building right next door. At first glance, the two buildings look separate, but from the stairs, it's obvious that they're connected. A key comes out and the front door is opened and, with a look to Brynn, as if to ask 'you coming?' he steps into the building next door.

The room opens into a large open room, with a row of rooms along the right side and a staircase on the left that leads up to the second floor. The lights are off, the windows closed. It's empty. "Something like this what you were thinking of?"

She gets up and follows him readily. After all, Lance and Joe taught her quite nicely how to rack a man who wants more than what she wants to give. And it's not really in her to think that of Caspian anyway. OMG, Caspian, she signs her face lit up. Joe… does Joe know— She stops and whips out the notebook without any writing implement, using her power alone to splash words across the page at the speed of thought. Holy crap! This is perfect! This is exactly what Joe was talking about, I think! Has he seen this? We were talking about buying a building — or getting Aunt Kaylee's business to buy a building anyway — so that we could have this big project for later on!

Nah, Cas is a nice guy. Has been since day one. Getting smacked is what he'd deserve if he were to try something like that, probably leaving a multicolored handprint and various bootprints as well as a pissed off brother who can walk in silence and a second one that is virtually bulletproof or something. He hasn't asked Joe exactly what his power /is/ but the guy can take a punch, and that's not something Cas wants to be on the other side of.

The fluttering of Brynn's hands give him a few clues - he recognizes the phonetic spelling of Joe, and the sign for 'know' but when the paper comes out and the words spill across the page, he shakes his head in the negative. "No, I don't think so. I was originally planning to rent the rooms out to people, but the headache of keeping everything up and running for people I don't know is a little….well…I wouldn't have the time."
Nodding emphatically, the deaf teen erases the paper with a thought and then touches it again, throwing words on it as fast as she can slide a finger across the paper. This might be exactly what keeps Joe out of trouble. Can I tell him about it and maybe we can all talk about it?? Cuz… whoa! PRIMAL, Cas!

It's cool, watching the words just appear as Brynn slides her finger across the page, like a paintbrush is just making the words with a single stroke, fully formed. "I think that'd be best. I'd like to know what his plans were before giving over the keys to the kingdom, if that makes sense."
Brynn bounces on the balls of her feet and then nodnodnodnods! She reaches out to squeeze his forearm — the closest she's come to actually having physical contact with anyone but the boys so far that he's known — and then races back toward the door. Very clearly intent on finding Joe and TELLING him!

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