Snow Daze


delilah_icon.gif marthe_icon.gif wright_icon.gif

Also Featuring

ames_icon.gif walter_icon.gif

Scene Title Snow Daze
Synopsis A chance encounter of two children and their mothers forms new friendships amidst the horrors of snowball war.
Date December 10, 2020

Bay Ridge

Snow days haven't changed too much since Delilah was a kid; there is still a touch of schoolwork via internet, but other than that? Not much different.

The snow isn't overbearing just yet. It's set to be, over a few hours; preemptive closings let public works worry only about plow and salt. For the kids it means only worrying about finishing the morning and spending the rest of the afternoon daylight outside in the snow. It's the fluffy kind, drifting lazily though in enough clumps to rise faster than the rest. As such it's past the ankles and it's barely been any time at all, with no foreseen letup until the AM.

"Don't you dare lose those gloves." is Delilah's only warning to a red-haired ten year old who is rocketing off to where the snow-dusted park holds its playground equipment. It's been so trampled over that only the tops of things still hold white, untouched flakes. The rest is that crunchy flattened snow, trod with a gaggle of bootprints in the languid cold.

A bunch of kids, playing in the snow, a snow day in Bay Ridge. Things like this take Dee's mind flickering back to Before, when none of this could have been. It makes her all the more grateful that she can dust off a bench and watch the ensuing antics of Walter greeting the other children, all fistbumps and grins and what have you.

Ames is already screaming like an ax-murderer. She stumbles and slides through the snow on her way toward whatever nonsense sustains a five year old. Creating divots and troughs through the white powder on her way to the closest playground implement.

As Ames comes to a stop in the white above the playground’s mulch, Wright and Marthe seem unfazed. Perfectly accepting of the stormwind personified by their daughter. Marthe turns from the chaos as Ames slides a full four feet, face down in the snow, after tripping on an unforeseen impediment. “It’s good to see you!” Marthe says to Delilah, “It’s always good to see a parent outside the operating room.” She laughs, singling out the medical facilities where she sees to Winsolw Crawford’s children, Expressive and non. Wright’s attention lovingly follows her daughter’s furrow through the park.

It's the parents who Delilah recognizes more quickly; she was a little busy stifling a laugh at Ames skidding through the snow and only lifts her attention away when she hears someone.

"Oh! Hey!" Delilah scoots down on the bench if either of them want to join her there, though no pressure to it. "Good to see you too. Seems like they make their friends and suddenly those parents are the only ones you ever see." Her smile is crooked as she chuckles, hands in her coat pockets. "Marthe, right?"

She's met Wright, perfectly fine with leaving the specifics out.

Over at the playground, Ames' time face down isn't terribly long- - a couple of hands at the back of her coat pull her right side up again. Walter's hair escapes his cap in a tuft of ginger, cheeks pink and laugh audible.

"There's a plank where the park starts," Helpfully, he points out the slight divide in the snow, wood peeking where kids have stomped (and where Ames caught her boot).

Ames kicks at the plank, half to make it more visible and half to punish it for its insolence. “Thank you,” she says to Walter, and begins picking handfuls of snow out of the neck of her jacket.

Marthe smirks as she says to Delilah, “Marthe, correct.” That might be a joke about Wright and, if so, Wright has heard it too many times to register it on an emotional level. Marthe continues, “I forgot to say hi, so hi, hello. Just jumped straight into small-talk.” She laughs at herself, and not all of the pink in her face is from the cold.

Wright smiles and nods a greeting to Delilah, well practiced at not bringing up feats of incredible violence in front of children. “The one packed full of permafrost is Ames, though you probably remember her as ‘poorly constructed question in an auditorium full of people’ girl.”

Ames taken care of, Walter gives a glance to where their parents have joined up before ruffling the younger girl on the head.

"Wanna check out the tower? Can see all over the place up there- -" A small snowball disintegrates against Walter's head with a pomph, and the culprit goes ducking out of sight when the older boy turns and grabs a fistful of snow. Wasn't planning on introducing Ames with a guerilla match, but there you go.

"Small talk is my default setting anyhow." Delilah's eyes crinkle when she smiles up at Wright, a laugh bubbling up. "She fits right in. Everyone knows each other and these kids are all kinds." Almost as if on cue, she looks up just as her son flings a snowball high into the air- - and it comes down on another boy trying to hide behind a tractor tire. Uhm, right- - Dee orients back at Marthe, "Ames is adorable and her terrible interview skills are too."

Ames whispers, “Pincer attack!” to Walter, directing him around the opposite side of enemy fortifications with one hand before beginning to pack a snowball.

“Uh-oh,” Wright says as she watches, “Ames breaking out Mom’s commando tactics.” The moms finally take Delilah’s offer of space on the bench, settling in with Wright on the outside.

“Honestly I’m kind of terrified what her first draft of the question was going to be before I shot it down,” Marthe laughs as the kids begin their snow assault. “I tried looking at the notepad she was writing in to figure it out but it was all just doodles. She didn’t even actually need to know how to spell murder.”

“Secret code, perhaps?” Wright muses. “I don’t know where she’d get that.”

He likes her already, even with the disparity; she has tactics. Then again he'd be shocked if she didn't anymore. Walter's smile opens with a laugh, and he scampers off to duck behind a piece of jungle gym equipment.

"She knows what it is, and honestly I've learned that's enough to make kids ask questions. Once they have that, like, nebulous definition, they all want to know more." Dee gestures at her head with both hands. Big Brain. "Whether its something like …killing, or just- - Walter was asking me about boats a couple of weeks ago, and I figure it's about visiting his dad near the sea, but hell if I know anything more about boats than to make it go." The redhead laughs, brows knit in an expression of disbelief. "So he's been reading about boats. I'm guessing I'll learn something."

Out at the playground, it's a sneak attack! Ames and her snowballs are backed up by an oblong volley of snow from Walter as he comes up on the kid's blind spot. It's cold. He squawks into the snow.

Wright nods, then adjusts her winter hat, tucking some her loose short hair back behind her ear. “Once I returned to working for Wolfhound I started alternating shifts to supplement NYPD, so she’s assumed I am a detective of some sort.” She laughs. “Which I guess is adjacent to the truth, I did detect some things.”

Marthe says, “She also saw something grizzly on the news and that got her wheels turning.” She shrugs, What can you do? “Thankfully she hasn’t become obsessed, just curious. Her primary passion is drawing, and running at things fast enough to liquify herself on impact. How she hasn’t broken a bone yet is frankly baffling.” Wright chuckles.

Ames, finding no glory in tormenting the defeated, begins devising a new plan. “Let’s fight those kids!” she says, drafting her former enemy into a larger fighting force. Another small group of children has begun half-heartedly pelting each other with snowballs, unaware that war has been declared. She doesn’t seem to mean fight fight, as she begins building a small stockpile of snowballs, placing them on a raised platform that she then climbs into with a ladder.

"Hounds as 'detectives' is kind of an understatement." The redhead stifles a small snort, giving a glance to the kiddie battle to keep it in her periphery. "Walter does the art thing too, a little less of late, but… sometimes I still see him filling paper pads up. I guess it comes and goes." Like anything, he's only ten.

"I figure all I can do is give him a library card and a locked-in tablet, he can explore on his own? I've always worked, and he's always been pretty… self-sufficient?" It sometimes embarasses her to say so, but given the circumstances, she was blessed. Doesn't mean she does less parenting. "There's always a shoe ready to drop, ugh."

Walter seems just a touch bewildered by Ames' intensity- - he's picking the other boy up, both of them huffing with laughter, when she starts stockpiling. Of course, being children, this is a fantastic idea and the boys start helping her make a lumpy pile of snowballs while she apparently- - surveys the high ground.

“Curiosity is a good thing,” Wright says. “Especially when they’re motivated to pursue it. We encourage Ames to try things on her own. Self-sufficiency is very important on the occasion a shoe does drop.” She laughs a bit to herself. “Self-sufficiency and basic first aid.”

Marthe squeezes her wife’s hand. “We’re letting Ames pick all the activities today,” Marthe explains. “Within reason.” That gets a snicker from Wright, who had already put a hard veto on two of Ames’s ideas.

“Thankfully ‘Let’s play in that park’ was an easy yes,” Wright says.

Once Ames is satisfied with their inventory, she points out other positions on the wooden jungle gym. Then, ever the good sport, she begins the war by flinging a snowball from the wooden castle at one of the other children. “Hey!” she shouts at them, “Snowball fight!” She gives them a moment to process that before the carnage begins.

Carnage it is. Outliers along the playground split off, and before long there are three gaggles of children lobbing snowballs at one another.

"You're good at this- -" Walter says as he climbs up to the landing Ames is on, setting several packed snowballs at her feet. He's grinning more from seeing a five year old go full hog than from the snowball fight; he may be older, but it doesn't matter, she's a freakin' hoot.

"I wanna know what the other ones were. For real- - oh, welp." Delilah finally notices the slow unfolding situation on the playground, unsure whether to laugh or not. "Looks like playing in the park has taken a Turn." She does. Laugh. A cackle. Nobody's been hurt yet, she can do that.

“Leaving the Safe Zone ‘just to look around and maybe go in some buildings’ was one,” Wright says. “She’s never been outside. We had to promise her some camping in the woods next summer.” She keeps her eyes on the scattered children, making sure nobody’s youthful exuberance extends to packing ice balls.

“So, what do you do for a living?” Marthe asks Delilah, also keeping a slightly more anxious side-eye on Ames.

Ames takes Walter’s praise in stride, stopping for a moment to beam him a smile, quickly dropped when a snowball passes just inches from her exposed face. She ducks down, loading a few snowballs into the crook of her arm. “I’m gonna go down the slide for a sneak attack.” She thunders across the platform, ducking a snowball and dropping one of her own.

"Right now? I'm part timing school and interning at Raytech… management type thing. I'm lucky it's paid or I wouldn't be doing it." Both of Delilah's brows arch up and one leg crosses over the other, boots flaky with snow. "Before that, full time seamstress. Now it's a side-gig." She is aware she's very fortunate, knowing who she knows included.

"There's a settlement a ways out, that could be a middle ground." Delilah accepts the desire to Explore well enough. "I used to be like that… not at five, but." She gets it. It can be fun. Until you start running into body parts.

"Actually- - " The redhead snorts, "Exploring where I shouldn't is how I met his dad." A nod of her head goes to the kids on the playground.

The remnants of the near miss splash over Walter's head, and he ducks down with her, peering through the slats of the wall. "Yeah, yeah, I'll cover you. There's a dip at the bottom so watch out- -" Hhh! He ducks again.

“Thanks!” Ames yells while getting into position at the top of the short slide. Her voice echoes through the covered plastic tube as she makes her way to the bottom, throwing her first snowball at the nearest kid before getting to her feet. It’s only moments later that she can be seen running around the structure she just left under a salvo of mortar fire, alternating between screaming and laughing.

“We met in Canada,” Marthe says with a nod of the head toward Wright. “Just before all the good urban exploration opportunities. This one had been shot. It wasn’t as bad as it looked.”

“It felt as bad as it looked,” Wright says tapping the air with her finger for emphasis. “It was my first time ever being shot!” She hums a sigh. “Simpler times.” She waves to get Ames attention and signs, There’s on right there! Ames lurches, quickly pulling together a new grenade for a preemptive strike.

Marthe moves the conversation back from the area full of dead bodies. They’d clearly all seen enough of those. “Do you take requests, or mostly just repair work?” she asks.

"What a world to be able to reminisce about one's first bullet." Delilah exhales, not sure of whether to laugh about that morbid note or not. "Sounds like an adventure." Her smile is an easy one as she turns her head to Marthe. "A long way from field medic now, huh."

"A little of both. More repairs these days, but I've done commissions. A lot of people bringing in pictures from magazines. Normally I'd feel bad about making knockoffs- - but you gotta get that money." A part of her misses being in the market all the time, but then again, she's trying her best to move somewhere she can better support the little family. "Good fabric is harder to find but worth it in tailoring."

It's a touch rambling, though she doesn't often get the chance to do that. "What do you do, then? I know what she does," Wright.

Meanwhile, as Ames goes zig-zagging along the ground, Walter is trying to keep eyes off of her; popping up and down to chuck balls down at kids aiming her way. It draws it all to him instead, which serves him up a graze of one snowball, and another square in the face.

Marthe looks mildly embarrassed for a moment. “Oh my god,” she chuckles. “I assumed you recognized me from the school. I’m a nurse there now. I’m getting this entire conversation out of order, aren’t I?”

Her cheeks carry a red from both the cold and a blush. “I used to work part-time at Elmhurst so we weren’t relying entirely on our savings while Ames was baby. A full-time position at the school we were trying to get her into was too good to pass up.”

“Tiny baby,” Wright agrees, watching Ames try to catch her breath while taking heavy fire as she climbs a ladder back into the safety of the play structure. She’s still laughing as she crawls back toward Walter, collapsing on the deck but giving him an enthusiastic thumbs up. Success.

"I did remember your face from somewhere, I swear." Delilah laughs, cheeks flush between chills and smiles the same as Marthe, likely amusing for Wright to see. "I guess you're gonna have plenty of interesting incidents to tend to, then, huh?" A school with hefty SLC-E numbers is bound to get rough. Somehow.

"Actually…" Something crosses behind Dee's eyes, a layer of worry which she sweeps back down. "…if there's ever an incident with Walter," A look to her son, who is currently laughing along with Ames as she plops back down with him. "I'd appreciate you keeping a closer eye on him. He might say something, or thinks he saw or heard something… it's normal for him, but it's stuff I'll need to hear about."

Outside of what the school calls her for, anyway. On the DL, perhaps. "Sorry to talk about work, just- - I'm here, you're here- -" Apology writes across her expression nonetheless.

Wright does watch the awkward exchange, though with a warm smile. When the conversation turns to the topic of hearing voices, she covers a bit of ‘I know what that’s like,’ with a wave to her daughter. Ames has propped herself up enough to sit slumped against the fort, packing snowballs and passing them up to Walter.

“Oh!” Marthe says, dismissing any awkwardness about the time or place. “Thankfully it’s been fairly smooth sailing so far, standard school kid bumps and bruises. But I’m plenty familiar with discretion, don’t you worry. Is there anything specific that I can do to help Walter if it comes up?"

Delilah figures that if anything can be inferred from it, PTSD isn't an unlikely culprit for someone like Marthe to come up with. It is there, in part- - but only Delilah knows what the rest is.

"He's pretty well adjusted at this age, but if you could just keep him somewhere quiet it should help. I don't expect I'll be so lucky as he gets older, that reassurance works." A slightly more sad smile takes over the one that Delilah had been wearing. She sighs it away. "I don't really see any triggers that much. Sometimes mirrors, I guess, if he's already not feeling well?"

"He hates that I hover, but I can't be too careful." Something else is there, unsaid; eventually Marthe will see his registry status, but in her words Dee leaves it be. Brown eyes watch Ames fortify Walter with a snowball stash, and the escapades continue as he pops up to toss some down below; Ames will get a surprise when a kid pops into view coming up the tower.

Marthe takes all of it in stride. “You can tell Walter that he can always come find me if he’s not doing well. Or if he just needs some low-sensory cool-down time.” She doesn’t pry into the how or why of it, accepting it all at face value. “Not a lot of mirrors in the nurse’s office, thankfully.”

Ames catches a snowball to the forehead before she registers that there’s an intruder in their base of operations. She begins blindly throwing handfuls of loose snow to no effect as she turns to keep any more snow from getting under her hood. She’s rescued with an attack from further down the fort, where their teammatepress-ganged into service after defeating him in the skirmish leading up to the warhas the interloper flanked.

It seems like slow-motion for the poor kid who has managed to climb up there- - smacked with loose snow and snowballs all at once.

"You can still switch sides!" Walter seems just about ready to just wrangle the kid himself, snowball still in his hand when he mashes it into the other's hair.

"That's a great way to put it. Sensory issues. I should lead with that next time." Delilah laughs softly, only mildly aiming a concerned look towards the tower. Just in case any less friendly skirmishes start. "Having a weird life in general makes you nervous, and then we've got things like this… I'm sure you get it, though. The weird shit. "

Wright laughs with a nod. Delilah is familiar with Wright’s weird shit, having already been inducted into Elliot’s network once. Walter’s certainly not the first person to hear voices.

Marthe nods more seriously. “We definitely do,” she says. “I’m very thankful that the structures needed to support our kids against the weird shit are finally starting to take root. The academy is a godsend. It’s not the pre-war kind of normal, but the new normal is positive more often than not, I think.”

Ames agrees with Walter’s suggestion that the new kid turn traitor, even as she tosses handfuls or snow at his face. “Surrender!” she shouts before standing up with a second wind.

"New normal is good enough." Delilah agrees, pushing hair back behind her ear. "Even would rather have it than old normal, honestly? Not that war was good… I just wish things could've changed so easily back then." If wishes were fishes.

"Okay, okay!" The poor kid that has been more or less imprisoned in the tower by snowballs holds his hands up and out to try and bat some away. MErcifully, Walter does stop, laughing and offering a gloved hand to him.

Wright nods in agreement. She’s seen more combat than Marthe, but they’ve both seen the aftermath of it. The new normal was hard won. “I honestly can’t imagine it going much better than it did, all things considered,” she says. There were apparently alternate histories still playing out alongside this one, though from what little Wright’s heard, they’re all in much worse shape than the here and now.

“Once people began manifesting en masse, the world did what it does. The rich and powerful take what they can and make it worse for everyone else. And it took a war, and we’re still climbing out of it, but this is what we won.” She gestures vaguely to the playground, children both Expressive and non having the time of their lives in a safe place.

Well, they’re also at war, but the harmless kind. The burst of energy that sparked Ames’s game is starting to settle out, though the kids are still sending missiles back and forth. The defenders of the castle have to spread out, having spent most of the structure’s snowball reserves.

Only so much snow to go around before it starts becoming a vast spread of powder and slush. While the kids go through the landscape like little dervishes, Delilah seems keen to relax and look away from her watch completely.

"Since I guess you're in the neighborhood now, you should come over for supper sometime. And feel free to ask me anything, I'm on the council board, I help where I can. Some folks aren't the type to seek it, and that's alright." Delilah smiles and tips her head, one hand burrowing into her coat for her phone. "I can give you my number? I'd love to make more …mom-friends, I guess?" A laugh, between amused and embarrassed.

“Absolutely!” Marthe says, fishing her phone from her jacket pocket. She removes a glove to tap it active. “Two mom friends for the price of one.” She volunteers Wright in this.

Wright meanwhile is making a note on the back of a Wolfhound business card with her and her wife’s phone numbers. She reaches around Marthe to hand the card to Delilah with a smile while Marthe taps further and further into the process of creating a new contact. “We’re actually in Phoenix heights now, though we’re in this area pretty regularly for the markets.”

“And we have a Civis, so the trip is easy either way,” Marthe adds, finally where she needs to be to enter a phone number.

"There's kind of- - a circle of us- - you'll definitely start meeting them at the school. Old Ferry and stuff, yaknow?" Delilah's words seem to explain, in part, the familiarity shown by certain groups of parents. War heroes, CEOs, deans, et al. It's strange for Delilah to think about in contexts like this.

"The Heights has been seeing some great renovations in the last year or so. Glad to see folks moving in like this. Makes our work worth it." A wide, cheeky grin takes over as she takes the card and exchanges her number with Marthe and her quick thumbs. Lilah keeps that grin on, while the kids cackle in the background. This is the good stuff. "Maybe sometime I can introduce you to some sellers too, if you're keen on the market. I bet Ames would love the exchange booth. Barter items for other things. Walter kind of grew out of it already, but the younger ones get such a kick out of doing it themselves." A taste of 'adult', likely.

“That sounds wonderful,” Marthe says, then tilts her head toward Wright. “This one’s old Ferry.”

“Not like, important Ferry but,” Wright shrugs. “Definitely got around. And I bet Ames would love the exchange, she’s constantly trying to barter for a later bedtime and she’s wiley.”

From across the playground, Ames, as if sensing her name was spoken aloud, looks up from where she had collapsed in the snow. “Tiny Mooom!” she calls, “Can we get hot cocoa?”

Marthe merely turns to Wright, slowly, to say, “This is your doing, isn’t it.”

“Mmm,” Wright tilts her head back in appreciation, “Tiny Wife.”

Marthe sighs, lovingly but begrudgingly, and gives Ames a thumbs up, earning a whoop of glee. She turns back to Delilah. “Would you like to join us in finding some hot cocoa?”

"I mostly dealt with safehouses and people, so if you got around we wouldn't really intersect." Still, there seems to be a comfort in knowing that Wright was with them. Delilah lifts her head when Ames calls out to her Tiny Mom; a bout of laughter later, the redhead spreads her hands with a shrug. It's true, tho.

"Walter?" One hand cups by her mouth when she calls out, "Do you want to g- -"

"Yes!" Wherever he was, he must have heard Ames' request and popped out from sheltering. Walter pulls Ames back onto her snowboots, buffeting snow off of her hood with his hand. "We're coming!"

Delilah shakes her head with a resigned puff of laughter, tilting a look to the pair beside her. "Sounds like a big ol'yes to me, ladies."

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