emily_icon.gif joaquin_icon.gif roxie_icon.gif silvia_icon.gif

Scene Title Reunited
Synopsis Thanks to the efforts of Joaquin (with the support of the Lighthouse Kids), Roxie is reunited with Goober. Though not without a little drama.
Date December 29, 2019

Time: Early Afternoon

Memorial Wall, Ferryman’s Bay

"Bring it back! Yes, good. Aw, you're so good, Goobs." Hands extract a semi-covered in slobber tennis ball that's lost some of its lime green fuzz to time and dog teeth. Joaquin, attached to said hands, shakes off the left over saliva before he waves it enticingly before the eager eyes tracking the sphere.

The pair of teen and dog occupy a bench across the street from the block of public structure known as the Memorial Wall, where pictures, candles, flowers and other mementos adorn the altar of publicly displayed memories. Here and there, stapled posters feature the dog currently playing fetch along with the word "FOUND" in bold lettering, and a contact information pointing to the Botanica La Romana.

But today, as with the past few weeks since Joaquin's put the posters up, he's out with Goober around the city. A day off in chilly but not freezing winter weather, the usual for a New Yorker like himself, finds it a good day to be outside instead of cooped up against the cold.

"Ready?" Joaquin preps the pup. Once he sees Goober's ears perk, he grins and lobs the ball away down the sidewalk. Not too hard, but not too lightly either, giving the dog the opportunity to chase and capture the toy.

Goober is thrilled with this game, with a happy yap of excitement he bolts after the ball. Little legs a blur as he rushes after the ball. Jumping when it bounces over his head. When he finally manages to snag the ball the little dog looks so damn proud.

This time, however, the ball isn’t brought back. The dogs attention suddenly turns down the street, ball in mouth, and tail slowly waving. Something has his attention, ears twitch back and his tail starts wagging frantically taking his back end with it.

Moments later someone comes around the corner, a paper gripped in their hands. Bundled against the freezing temperatures, the clothing may have seen better days. The pack on her back and wrapped bundle give the appearance of a traveller.

As soon as Goober sees her, a whine escapes and he’s booking it towards her, even with the ball in his mouth. Of course, as soon as the pup is running the traveller looks up and brightens.

Goober!” A youthful voice calls out. Joaquin probably has no idea, he’s getting to see a rare smile on the young woman’s face.

Emily hadn’t been paying too much attention to the dog and its trajectory, gaze always drawn to the wall whenever she came down to this side of town, but the scamper of feet and the general time between throw and retrieval was relatively consistent. Her head lifts when too much time passes without hearing the scratch of claws on concrete. Her phone lowers in her hand as she turns to look down the block, a sudden spike of worry for the pup despite her only-passing amount of affection for him. (He was mean to Idiot, okay?)

Seeing him keep running even with the ball in his mouth startles her to her feet as a result. She’s seen what that mutt can do to a cat, she’s not interested in seeing what it’ll do to a human, potentially. It’s not her voice that the dog will respond to, so she keeps it to herself, waving at hand at Joaquin instead. Then her gaze follows the pup up its trajectory, seeing just who exactly he’s going to collide with. “—Wait.” comes from her, even though she’s said nothing at all up to this point. From this distance, it’s hard to tell, but…

“Holy shit, I think it’s her.”

The excited yell is enough to draw Silvia’s attention. She’s in the process of stuffing some purchases in a canvas bag hung over her shoulder, but she stops dead in her tracks as she realizes what’s going on. She hurriedly finishes what she was doing, crossing the distance between her and where the apparent reunion is happening. She doesn’t move fast enough to startle or distract the dog, but fast enough that she stops with a huff of air nearby and just watches, the biggest grin on her face.

While Emily didn’t need to watch over them, Joaquin would wholly admit he was glad for the company. Moreso, when he realizes Goober’s distraction - the dog taking off has him hopping up to his feet. “Hey! Goober!” he calls, stutter-stepping forward when he hears the traveler call out the dog’s name as well. Emily’s observation heightens the anticipation of the stranger’s identity. “You really think so?” he wonders softly, struck by a sudden realization of all that such a reunion would imply.

Then he’s also taking off, jogging on Goober’s trail, pausing as Silvia cuts across with purchases and all. “Silvia?” He recognizes, waiting and waving the other over to join the small, nebulously directed grouping. But, so he doesn’t lose track of Goober still, Joaquin lifts his fingers to his mouth to blow a sharp whistle. The type that hails taxi cabs, if there were any to be had. He might also immediately regret doing it once he realizes… those fingers had just been holding a slobbery tennis ball.

“Goober! Who’s that you found, huh? Who is it?” Joaquin approaches the duo, making sure to stay in sight and that his posture remains relaxed as best he could.

Goober is all full body wiggles and tongue as the woman crouches and tries to hug the furry critter, her laughter noticeable on the approach. Even if she’s trying to scold him. “Will you hold still you dork? You know how fucking long I—” The words trail off as feet come into view beyond the hoodie she wears on her head. She might have ignored them, if one didn’t know the name of her companion.

Roxie stays crouched with the dog, head down for a long moment. Goober makes the choice for her to look, when he squirms out of her arms and brings the ball to the good human who gave him warmth and food. What the… ? Slowly standing, the young woman pushes the hoodie back from a beanie topped head, stringy black hair. Each person is noticed and given a look of suspicion.

Of course, the sight of Emily makes Roxie go still and for a moment forget what she was going to say. A yap at their feet, pulls her attention back to Joaquin who is clearly being too slow at throwing the ball. “You the one who put these up?” One of the posters, very wrinkled from puppy hugs, is held up.

The question may be gruffer than she planned, but Emily was making her uncomfortable. Roxie’s shoulders were tense as if waiting for the other woman to say or do something. Or maybe, she wasn’t used to interacting with this many people.

"Joaquin did," Emily clarifies, lifting her chin in acknowledgement of Roxie once they close in on her. Hi, she remembers you too. "I've just played with him a few times. Chimo's the one who's been looking after him, helped him when he was injured." This is said trailing off, just as uncomfortable with interacting with Roxie as the girl is with her.

Somehow in the city, she looks younger. Like perhaps she'd misjudged her the first time.

"I'm Emily, by the way," she offers up, then turns to Silvia, unsmiling, but glad to see her. "Hey."

Silvia gives Emily a smile and a small wave, but she turns her attention back to the girl and the pup. She keeps her distance, just to make sure Roxie isn’t overwhelmed, but she offers her a cheerful greeting as well. “It’s good to see stuff like this happen. Pets are like family sometimes and it always feels weird when they’re gone.” She nods towards Roxie. “I’m Silvia and I can take no credit for this lovely reunion. I’m just glad to be around to see it.”

She, on the other hand, while being respectfully distant… is having no discomfort interacting. She looks quite pleased.

Joaquin takes the ball but it’s true, he’s slow to throw it now that there are significantly more people to distract him with. “Yeah,” he answers to the poster-provider accusation. “But Emily’s the one who recognized him.” Silvia’s addition gets an affirming nod as well. But his eyes are on Roxie, evaluating, but not judging, her appearance. When Goober’s impatient soft whine draws his eyes down, he pats the dog on the head and relinquishes the ball to the canine, small reward to tide the pup over as the humans talk.

“Is everything okay?” he presses after the pause. The other two would recognize the nurturing streak of Joaquin’s tendencies. “There’s a cafe ‘round the way, we could stop there and sit down a bit. Dog-friendly patio, even.”

The young woman looks between each, with a guarded glance, as they speak. Shit… she could probably be polite, too. “Roxie,” she offers reluctantly, drawing out the ‘r’ a little with uncertainty.

Ears flick back briefly as the ball is given back. Not exactly what he wanted, so Goober shifts his attention to Roxie; dropping the ball at her feet, tail wagging. He watches it expectant, so of course, the young woman crouches to retrieve it. It doesn’t get thrown right away once she’s standing again. The mention of the dog getting injured is worrisome, she looks at Joaquin for a long moment.

What could he be thinking about her?

Then he mentions the cafe and her back straightens, a sign she is on the defensive. Pride prickling at her emotions, even though the idea of food makes her stomach twist with hunger.

Goober seems to catch on to her mood, his tail slowing to a stop. He whines, worried that she is suddenly so upset, breaking her attention. Instead, Roxie’s gaze drops to lock on to the ball in her hands, jaw clenching. She is unsure what to say next. So many thoughts go through her mind, irritation rubs her raw… until Pride wins out and she blurts out, “I don't fucking need your charity.”

How is it that the dog is the better people person here? Emily wonders. Poor guy can even read a room better than her.

"And my friend here doesn't need his kindness thrown back in his face," she fires off, tone clipped. She feels a bit more strongly than that, but the goal was to not run her off. Some of her defensiveness on his behalf flares when she looks up at Roxie again. "Maybe you should try 'thank you' or something instead, yeah? He's taken immaculate care of that dog."

Absent is any judgment about where Roxie's been. She did enough of that kind of wondering after their first brush.

Silvia offers Roxie a small smile. “I think he was merely offering a place to sit down for a minute.” She’s seen this sort of behavior before. She’s been there. She doesn’t push for anything, instead remaining a gentle presence from nearby. “I can’t speak for everyone here, but I’m fairly certain that no one here is trying to patronize you, and I certainly know that no one here wishes you any ill will.”

She looks towards Goober. “We all just wanted to see this one get back to where he belongs.”

Joaquin lifts his brows at Roxie’s response, blanking at the initial retort. His posture straightens too, even leaning back a touch in a notable giving of ground. He didn’t expect the fight, nor does he want one to begin with. “It’s alright, Emily,” he says, hand lifting, palm up to de-escalate. “Having Goober around was its own reward, and like Silvia said, we’re glad that you and him are back together. Sometimes animals aren’t just pets, they’re family.”

And family is an important thing. Glancing back to Emily and Silvia, Joaquin nevertheless looks unsure what exactly he should say next. As his eyes drop to the dog, he’s overcome with the realization of what the reunion means for him and Goober, the small span of months coming to an end. “Anyway, so,” he recovers with a short step back away from Roxie and her dog, “if you don’t want to, it’s cool.” To Goober, he looks to the dog again and speaks sincerely as if the pup would understand him, “You be a good boy, alright? No more running off, watch out for the bullies, and watch out for Roxie.”

There is a step back from the others, the mix of reactions is confusing and leaves her uncertain. It is obvious that Roxie is struggling with her own emotions, too. That might be the fault of one who may not know what she’s done.

Roxie should do something different… Emily is right.

It is possibly odd to watch, the confident and stubborn woman change. Roxie seems to shrink before them, eyes darting down and away like a dog that’s had their nose nipped by an alpha. The young woman, refuses to look at them.

“Th-thank you,” Roxie murmurs under her breath, a glance towards Joaquin that doesn’t rise above his collarbone. They sound forced and filled with uncertainty. Another step back. “Come on, Goober.” The woman is ready to beat a hasty retreat, turning to leave them all standing there.

Except, Goober doesn’t move from Joaquin’s side, ball in his mouth. Watching his human turn to leave, a whine huffs out around the ball, floppy ears held forward. He’s clearly confused. A glance goes between Roxie and the one that cared for him.

The abrupt shift in Roxie's demeanor brings one to Emily as well. She almost recoils back in shock, surprised at the about face in the girl's attitude. Surprised, then… something else. Her brow starts to furrow.

The pup's conflict in what to do is enough to break even Emily, the rest of her glare melting to nothing. Joaquin did a pretty good job of it himself, too. She clears her throat. "Hey, it's okay," she tells the dog softly. (Later, she will mope egregiously about this show of affection.) "Maybe you can come play again some time in the future, yeah?" (Emily, why are you lying to the dog. For one, it can't understand you.) "You go on with Roxie." (For two, Roxie seemed to want nothing to do with them.)

"You go on home, Goober," she tells the dog with a gentle wave of her hand in Roxie's direction. Wherever home is, Emily thinks to herself, and on thinking it, catches herself looking back up to Roxie. Her expression turns hesitant, suddenly doubting whether they really should just let her go off on her own.

It's cold, and Roxie kind of still looked like she didn't have a warm space to head back to. At least, not one that was her own.

It’s heartbreaking because she’s seen this before. Silvia had been in this position once upon a time. She fidgets with the hem of her shirt, unsure of what to say in this case as she watches Roxie and Goober. Finally, after agonizing about her words, she speaks up again. “It’s good that you’ve got him back,” she says, looking between the human and the dog. “There’s safety in numbers out there and I’m glad you have someone you can trust. Not everyone is so fortunate. Maybe one day you’ll find more.”

She releases the hem of her shirt that she had been fussing with, clearing her throat a bit as she notices Goober seems a bit conflicted. “Guess he’s made a new friend.”

No stranger to turbulent mood shifts, Joaquin nonetheless looks puzzled with Roxie's change of mind and actual thanks. "You're welcome," he replies slowly.

In that brief moment, he was ready to give in, to give up the dog. But when Goober hesitates, so does Joaquin. He looks down to the canine, apology, regret bent into his posture. What words he might have had to say are lost as Emily does the talking instead. Better that way, given the sudden tightening of his throat and jaw, the dryness of his tongue, a sting of wet in his eyes.

Silvia's observation breaks the paralysis. Joaquin drops to a squat, grabbing Goober around the neck and burying his face against the dog's nape. "You're a good boy, Goobs," he whispers, "you gotta be good." One more squeeze, and he lets go. Joaquin looks Goober in the face, scratching his fingers behind the dog's floppy ears. Then he looks back up to Roxie, almost a plea behind his own brown puppy dog eyes.

Don't leave it like this. Please.

Roxie doesn’t get far, turning back to look at the dog with a look of betrayal… maybe even a small taste of panic. “Goober. We have to go.” The tone isn’t harsh, but commanding. He doesn’t move, but his head ducks down. An unspoken accusation is turned to the others, even as Roxie’s brows tip upward.

Couldn’t Roxie really blame the little dog, with there being food and a warm place to stay? All she could offer was companionship. In her world she went hungry often, though she tried her hardest to ensure Goober ate; and often their sleep was cold.

When Joaquin crouches and looks at her with that heartbroken look… When Goob responds with wags and kisses to this good human…. there is a strangled sound at the back of the young woman’s throat. Damn them both for the hot prickling at the back of her own eyes. Roxie’s jaw clenches tight to fight them. Fuck.

“Yeah…” Roxie finally croaks out. “Yeah he did.” Make a new friend.

Roxie doesn’t move closer, but she crouches. A long wrapped object on her back scrapes on the ground and makes her backpack shift weird on her back, it’s ignored for the tiny dog sitting with Joaquin. “Please?” Roxie seems so small at that moment, pleading with a dog of all things, young and vulnerable. Don’t leave me, her looks says. “‘M sorry those men hurt you. ‘M sorry I wasn’t strong enough.” Small ears perk towards the woman. “‘M sorry I got arrested and left you alone… But I didn’t abandon you.”

Goober gives a huffed woof and shakes a bit to dislodge Joaquin, but he doesn’t move. He sneezes.

I didn’t! I even went back to the place, but you were gone weren’t you?!” She accuses him in return. It takes a moment, but Roxie realizes she might look ridiculous arguing with a dog like he could understand. Eyes drop to the ground in front of her, “Fuck!” Roxie growls out, hands disappearing under her hood to clutch at stringy unkempt hair. “The fuck I’m doing arguing with a damn dog.” It’s obvious that she’s struggling. To do what she knows she needs too. Goober senses this too and pulls away from Joaquin and ducking under her arms, so that he can press his head up to lick at her chin.

The woman’s arms immediately wrap around the small dog, like a drowning person to a life preserver. Her face buried into fur, not unlike what Joaquin had just. If Goober had held any reservation about his person, they dissolve as his whole body starts to vibrate with excitement, like he suddenly remembers who she is. His whole back end wags with it.

“You fuckin’ goober,” Roxie gives a gruff laugh, trying to hold on to the excited pup; who tries to twist in the girl’s arms and give all the kisses.

This is one of the most heartbreaking things Emily’s had to play witness to. She finds her attention drawn back to Roxie abruptly as an energy she doesn’t fully understand shifts. Just because she doesn’t know what it is doesn’t mean she can’t feel it, though, and she says nothing as Roxie begins her bargaining with the adorable mutt. Her shoulders drop, fighting an indecision she can’t really explain, one that’s not really hers to begin with. Suddenly she looks up to Silvia for help with it all, her brow arched in surprise at how things are turning out.

And worry.

The question she silently poses is how can we make them stay? But even then, she’s looking back down to see Goober jumping up into Roxie’s arms. Her guilt and concern mounts. Like, okay, looking after Goober was one thing— but figuring out a space for a whole human would be another. But fuck it, you know?

“Listen” comes from her abruptly, before she has the chance to think it through. “I’ve got a couch. Plenty of blankets. Could take a few days to figure out what you want to do next.” It’s an awkwardly-made proposal, but sincere. Maybe they could figure something out. Goober seemed to think Roxie was a great person after all maybe she just needed someone to give her a similar chance.

Silvia looks back towards Emily. She looks slightly at a loss for as what to be doing in this situation, so she doesn’t immediately act. She watches, but her attention turns towards Emily at her abrupt offer. While she raises the slightest hint of an eyebrow, there’s no real look that indicates that she thinks that this idea is bad or wrong in some way… just sudden. She looks back towards Roxie and Goober.

“Dogs are pretty good judges of character. Sure, you can give them some food and attention and they’ll react, but all dogs I’ve seen have some kind of understanding on who is a good person to trust. Maybe he didn’t run away from you, maybe he went for help.” She gestures towards Joaquin. “Goober did pick pretty well.”

There, then, the details of Goober's origin at Joaquin's botanica back alley door come to light. Roxie unveiling that humans did this to the dog and arrested her for what he concludes must have been a harmless reason, ultimately, churn his insides a little. He unfolds back into a stand as Roxie and Goober truly reunite, retreating back to Emily and Silvia's side, giving the owner and pup space. Fingers knuckle at the corner of his eye. He sniffs once.

Emily's offer of a couch to crash on inspires. Silvia's observation of trust solidifies his thought. "I still got a bag of food for him at my place, in Williamsburg," Joaquin adds, head bobbing in a nod, briefly looking at both Emily and Silvia, then settling his eyes back on Roxie and the dog. He remembers Roxie's initial reaction to offers of help. "But y-you don't have to decide anything right now… We're just glad you got Goober back."

Fingers dig into brown fur, lavishing attention on the pup, while dodging a long tongue that was trying to hard to show her unconditional affection. Roxie’s attention is shifted up towards the trio standing a short distance, as their voices cut through the happy whines of Goober.

Each person in turn gets a conflicted look, like Roxie can’t seem to understand what is happening. Who are these people? Brows are pulled low when she looks back down on the dog and a quiet, “Maybe,” murmured almost shyly under her breath. It isn’t clear who she is saying that to.

Goober content that his human knows he loves her very much, wiggles away and half bounces his way back over to the ball he dropped. It’s brought right to Roxie to be dropped in front of her. The young woman is still distracted by her own internal conflict. Slowly reaching out, Roxie picks up the ball; which sends Goober into an excited yapping frenzy. It only stops when she tosses it between the trio.

“Why?” Roxie finally asks, straightening to a stand again. “Why help a fucking stranger?” What kind of life has she lived? What could make a woman like her so bitter and untrusting. “I mean, Goober thinks you are good.” Goober for his part drops the ball at Slivia’s feet, watching it with a wildly wagging tail.

“I just… “ Roxie doesn’t finish, the words failing her, still struggling. She doesn’t know these people and they are opening their lives.

Emily doesn't have a good answer for what drives her, but she tries anyway, one shoulder pitching up into a shrug. "I don't know— paying it forward?" But god, that sounds lame. She rolls her teeth over her bottom lip. "Just… I mean…" It's clear she's struggling possibly as much as Roxie is, if only in stating her reasons.

She's on a different foot than Joaquin, worried if nothing happens now, that maybe somehow Roxie and Goober will part ways. "I dunno, an annoying as fuck friend of mine would probably say something like you're only a stranger the first time we meet, or something fucking cheesy like that." Emily shakes her head dismissively. "Anyway, it's… just a feeling." She lifts herself up, brow arching as she stresses, "I'm serious, though. Offer's open. I'm out by Brooklyn College. Don't know if that factors in at all."

Silvia squats down to pick up the ball, making a cheerful face at Goober before she throws the ball, only a short distance away—she doesn’t want the dog travelling too far. She stands back up, looking squarely at Roxie. “I was eight when I ended up on the street. I know being on your own isn’t easy because I’ve lived it. It’s really, really hard on your own though. I imagine life was even worse before Goober. Having someone to trust… it saves your life, in a way. I got lucky. I took a leap of faith and trusted someone that I wasn’t sure would help me or not. He had nothing to gain, he just wanted to help me. He did and I’m here. I had to make that jump to trust him, though.”

She gestures to the dog. “You’ve got an advantage. Goober would tell you if any of us were jerks, or at the very least if we’re untrustworthy. So you can at least tell we’re not harmful, that’s a start. At some point if you want to move forward with your life, sometimes it helps to trust someone, even if their motives aren’t easily visible. I can just tell you up front that I’m always going to want to help someone whose life even remotely resembles my own. I know just how rare help is in those positions. Either way, you don’t have to believe me but Goober picked some pretty cool people to hang out with, and I’m sure that’s something he wants to share with you.”

Hearing Roxie’s indecision and uncertainty, Joaquin looks between her and Goober with a growing resolution. Goober’s excited yapping gets a knowing smile. Her question shifts his focus back to Roxie, and he shrugs. “It’s the way I was taught,” he says, backing up Emily’s notion of paying it forward. “Everybody’s human. Well, except when they’re a dog. But you know, golden rule and stuff.”

He watches as Goober takes off after the ball again, the twinge to make sure the pup doesn’t run off into the street has him looking. “He’s a good boy,” Joaquin adds. “And like Silvia’s saying, you’re not gonna find any cooler people to hang out with. Right now, anyway.” He smiles again, an expression that seems to emulate the canine’s easy, freely trusting expression. “So, c’mon… at least let’s get something to eat and I can tell you what happened while you were away.”

Much like Joaquin, there is a twinge of anxiety as the pup bounds off or maybe she’s using pup watching as an excuse to not look at people. They all had good points… it wasn’t like she hadn’t been on the receiving end before, but there was always a catch.

Goober bounds back on short legs and stands in front of his owner so proud. The antics soften the young woman’s face and a huff expresses her amusement. Reaching down, she takes the now slobbery ball and looks at it with furrowed brow.

Try something different. Roxie glances at Emily as her indecision gnaws at her, much like her teeth do to her lower lip.

Finally, Roxie confides in the expert, “What do you say?” She asks a rather wiggly Goober. “Should we?” There is a yap of enthusiasm, ears pushed as forward as they can. Why shouldn’t we? “You want a sandwich? Maybe they got roast beef, huh?” The enthusiasm of the pup grows, a look turned to his savior.

Why did she think of that specifically? Because it is the best. It did sound good to Roxie. Of course! It is the tastiest.

“Ah… guess that’s a yes,” Roxie says finally looks at the other three fully, her demeanor filled with trepidation. “Lead the way?”

Let’s go. I am hungry!

Roxie was pretty hungry.

So am I.

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