Something Different


brynn_icon.gif joe_icon.gif lance_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Something Different
Synopsis Jubilation over Squeaks' discoveries is put on hold as the now-grown Lighthouse Kids begin coming to terms with how things have changed since childhood.
Date July 25, 2018

Lance's Apartment

The distance between the Eric Doyle Library and the apartment belonging to Lance — but shared by the group teens often referred to as the Lighthouse Kids — is not very far. Even when walking, it’s really only a few blocks away. But the distance seems farther than anything in the whole world for Squeaks. Even running, she can’t get her legs to carry her fast enough.

But really, it doesn’t take that long for her to return. And she’s not really late. It’s only a little bit after the Library closed.

For the hearing, her footsteps can be heard in the hall leading to the door. There might be a grumpy neighbor later, but no one looks out from their own homes to give the girl grief. For the non-hearing. It’s the excited opening of the door and a breathless Squeaks letting herself in to announce her arrival.

Brynn is curled up in one corner of the battered couch that she's adopted as her own when she sleeps here — which is pretty much always now. She looks up as the door opens, and when Squeaks is the one who pokes her body through the portal's opening, she grins and offers a quick wave. She bookmarks her page and closes the book she's reading without looking down at it. Her expression is both welcoming and curious. It's the what's up? face without the sign language.

The door is closed as Squeaks leans back against it, and she’s looks practically beside herself with excitement. She raises a hand to hold off answering, just so she can take a couple of deep breaths. She just ran all the way home, after all. Then, nearly running again, she hustles across the room to sit on her knees in front of Brynn. She takes another breath, because the first two helped so much, then starts trying to explain.

“I was at the library. And. I found a book.” Her hands tremble a little as she forms the words while saying them out loud. Squeaks scoots closer, knees practically touching the front of the couch. “Like a hidden book. Not on the shelves. I found it. I can do something now! Gillian said it felt different and I must be manifested so she did her thing and… and I did something!”

The deaf teen looks a little concerned at the state that Squeaks is in, dropping the book she was reading to the floor and peering into the younger girl's face. Her eyes drop to the signs and her brows pull together. A few of them aren't fully formed and she has to parse through her mental dictionary to follow.

What do you mean, you did something? She's not sure if that's a good or bad thing. Slow down, Mouse, I'm having trouble keeping up. Aunt Gillian said what?

“She said manifested.” Squeaks gives her hands a shake and presses them against her legs after answering. It gives her the time she needs to think. And to slow down. Her palms rub against her legs and she looks up at Brynn while trying to figure out how to explain what she did. “She said manifested feels different than not, to her.” She’s slower now, but still excited enough that her hands still shake a little as she uses them to mirror her talking. “And then she did this thing that helped me.”

Another pause follows as she thinks about how to explain. Even her hands go still, hovering just about chest level while she stares at nothing. “I could see things,” Squeaks starts again, slower at first but more sure as she goes on. “But like with how sounds hit things. Like bats do the same thing I did!”

Brynn blinks and then comprehension shows in her face. You have an ability — and Aunt Gilly made it more powerful so you could feel it better to figure out what it is, she grins. That is so primal, Mouse!! And then she pauses and starts laughing those silent giggles. So I'm deaf and you have echolocation? That's… some serious irony there, Mouse. MAJOR irony.

As the older girl finally understands what she’s trying to say, the biggest grin ever blooms on Squeaks’ face. She nods, head bobbling like one of those dashboard hula dancers. “It’s amazing.” Squeaks, even though she can’t get closer to the couch, shifts her knees like she might try anyway. The irony of it might be a little lost on her, but she giggles anyway because it seems funny.

“I can find things,” Squeaks goes on. Her excitement over it all is bubbling up again. Her hands can’t quite keep up with her words. “I found a book. It was in a drawer in a table that got painted closed. Aunt Gillian let me keep it! And I could …not see but like seeing. I could see so much stuff.”

She fights to keep up with the excited signing, and Brynn clearly gets enough of it to understand the situation. She looks thrilled for Squeaks. That is so cool, Mouse. The guys are gonna flip! Tilting her head, she asks, What kind of book is it? Have you looked through it?

Hands go immediately to a pocket, and begin working the leatherbound book free. It takes a minute until it’s out and held up for Brynn to look at. “I haven’t looked yet.” It’s an effort, but Squeaks makes herself slow down again. “Gillian said it was time to leave, and I came right home. I ran all the way.”

That grin pulls her cheeks upward again, and Brynn's gray eyes are full of laughter. You must be practically shaking with curiosity, she observes. C'mon up, let's take a look! She scoots to get Squeaks to climb up on the couch with her instead of the floor so she can look over the younger girl's shoulder while she inspects her prize.
She doesn’t leap onto the couch, but the enthusiasm is there. Squeaks tucks her feet up so she’s sitting criss-cross beside the older girl and the book is turned over and over in her hands instead of being opened right away. When she comes to the front cover again, she looks up at Brynn. Her expression asks if the other girl is ready, but she doesn’t quite wait for an answer. — it’s very exciting after all — and the straps keeping the book tied closed are worked loose.

Once the cover is opened, it’s easy to see that there are a lot of pages inside. Easily a hundred. But what’s written on that first page, and following pages, is something unusual. It’s handwritten, but it’s also nothing that resembles normal sentences or stories.

Squeaks’ fingers follow a couple of lines. Her brows pinch together and when she looks at Brynn again, curiosity is quickly replacing her overwhelming excitement.

Brynn finds Squeaks' excitement contagious. She scoots right up next to the other girl and holds her breath while the straps are opened. And then her brows pull together a bit. What are they even looking at? She holds out her hand in a gesture that asks May I? and waits for Squeaks to allow her to touch it or not before taking it to bring it up into the light a little better to inspect it.

The book is given over with as much care as she might give a glass trinket. Hands clasp together when Brynn takes it, and Squeaks stretches up to sit very tall so she can look at the pages again. She doesn’t know what it says but her eyes, which bounce from page to the older girl’s face and back again, ask silently if the other teen does.

After studying the book thoughtfully for a few minutes, Brynn looks at Squeaks and shakes her head. She hands it back, then signs, If it's a simple substitution code, we might be able to brute-force it. But I'm not real good at codes and stuff. Maybe Lance or Joe will have a better idea?

“Maybe,” Squeaks agrees, the word signed with one hand while the other takes the book. She leafs through several more pages which show much of the same handwriting and nonsense words. “I’ll ask them later.” That’s said, and signed, after she closes the book. “After I try some more to figure it out.”

She hops in her seat, and looks down at the book. “I bet I can find all kinds of lost things now.” It’s not lacking for enthusiasm, but Squeaks’ excitement is mellowed. At least for right now. She looks up at Brynn and grins real big. “I bet I can find all the ways in the Underneath!”

Brynn looks thoughtful. You should read up on how echolocation really works. I mean… I'm not great at science. The only thing I know is that bats are blind and they squeak and the sound bounces around and tells them when things are in their way. I bet it's a bit more complicated than that, though. Good books on physics! That's the ticket! Or at least on animals?

Joe has been around a lot more since the sewers. Working a little less for Keira and her crime stuff. Not gone completely, just working there less. Volunteering at the Doyle library more, being around his family more. Joe comes through the front door with his arms laden down with stuff. Food mostly. His duffel bag and his backpack hanging off him, as well as a paper bag full of food. Gyoza if anyone would recognize the scent. One of Joe's favorite foods. Just behind peanut butter.

He enters, then balances on one foot, hopping a couple of times as he pushes the door shut behind him, then eyes the lock for a moment as if he can will it to lock on it's own, cuz he doesn't have the free hand for it. In the end he walks into the kitchen area and puts down the bag of gyoza on the counter before unshouldering the backpack, and then the duffel, putting both on the floor where they hopefully won't get stepped on.

Food if you want it. Dumplings. From that asian place next to Raquelle's salon. Did some work for them, and worked out a deal for them to get food supplies through Keira so keeps their business more steady. I got food in exchange. This is all spoken aloud for Squeak's benefit as well.

With her face scrunching a little bit, thinking, Squeaks nods at Brynn. Those kinds of books might help a little bit. “It was kind of like that,” she decides, “I could… it’s not seeing but… I could tell how the library was set up, where things were.” Like seeing it on a map, like a three-dimensional map, but she doesn’t say that much about it.

When the door rattles and opens, Squeaks shoulders a little closer to Brynn. It’s partly to draw her attention to it opening, but also a little bit for safety. Her excitement returns when it’s Joe who comes through the door and she nudges the other girl. Both with her hands, and out loud, she speaks. “Tell him! About how I find things! What Aunt Gillian said!” Maybe Brynn can get it out better than Squeaks herself can.

Joe's arrival heralds food! Oooh! Brynn smiles toward him and then she grins at Squeaks. Settle, Mouse… I got it. she signs with an affectionate grin. To Joe, she looks back up and signs, She's beside herself for two things. First — Aunt Gilly figured out that Mouse has a power. It's just a really subtle, and REALLY PRIMAL, one. Echolocation. She can… map stuff. And find stuff. That's the second thing — she found this cool book inside a table that was painted shut or something at the library while Aunt Gilly had her augmented. And she said Mouse can keep it. It looks like gibberish, but maybe it's a treasure map or something cool.

She looks at Squeaks to make sure she covered all the high points, cuz she's sure if she missed something, there'll be a hopping Mouse momentarily.

Joe opens up the paper bag and pulls out a bunch of smaller portioned out bags of gyoza, all rolled up in that thin wax paper, as well as little cups of dipping sauce for them. There's plenty here. Sign and speak as always. It's pretty automatic for him, to sign as he speaks. He even has to stop himself from doing it when he's talking to people who don't need him to sign. And even then he talks animatedly, his hands definitely moving if not quite signing. Come on, eat up before it gets cold.

Joe grabs himself two of the little portion bags, each containing four dumplings. There's enough for everyone to have two, and a couple extra besides. Lots and lots of dumplings. He doesn't bother with a fork or anything, just plucks them out of the bag, dips them in the sauce and takes a bite. When Squeaks gets all super excited Joe looks between both girls, a grin spreading across his mouth despite not knowing what Squeaks is so excited about. "What's got you all hyped up Squeakers?" But then Brynn is signing at him.

I mean that makes sense. He Who Knows Too Much said she was Evolved so I assumed she just hadn't manifested yet. But that also makes total sense with her moving around in the dark and stuff like she does. He listens, or well watches Brynn telling him the rest, and both brows lift upwards. "Huh." He mumbles around his mouthful, though dumpling he's chewing on is still halfway in his mouth, so he's holding it there like a cigar or something as he looks over to Squeakers, head tipping back to toss the other half of the dumpling into his mouth so he can chew, sign and talk with his mouth full all at the same time. That is awesome Squeakers. See, you were meant to be one of us. Destiny.

Squeaks is practically squirming in her seat when Brynn explains. Her head nods, not quite so hard as before, but she’s almost bobbling again. “She said I was manifested already.” Her words, both spoke and with her hands, underscore what’s already been said. “And then Aunt Gillian did her ability on me and I could see the library all different! That’s how I found the drawer in the table and the book!”

As the younger girl practically repeats everything Brynn just said, the older girl grins and gets up to claim some of that food for herself. Squeaks stays on the couch, nearly bouncing in her seat and way too excited for food just now. “I can see things… it’s not really seeing but… like I know. I bet I can go anywhere now and find everything!”

Joe's head nods along to Squeaks excited words. "I'm sure you were. It explains why you were able to map out everywhere we went so easily. And pick your way through the dark. Also how you were able to survive on your own down there for so long. Easy when you can "see" in the dark." Joe even throws up some air quotes with what he says, then fishes out another dumpling to toss in his mouth. "I'd love to take a look at the book once I'm done eating. Sounds cool. And it was painted in huh? Someone didn't want it found by the wrong person."

Joe continues to nom his way steadily through his portion of the food as he listens to Squeakers. "That is a pretty primal ability. You were already our super guide. Now you're like our super super guide. Glad you found out what you can do. It's so much fun. I love abilities." Joe is mumbling around a mouthful of food. He snatches some food and takes it into the living room with him after giving Brynn a hug, and sets the food down near Squeaks for her to nom on at her liesure. "So what led Aunt Gilly into trying to enhance you? Just to see if there was a power you weren't aware of? Or did you find out you had a power and she wanted to enhance it?" Joe is a curious sort. He likes to know things.

The food is looked at, eyes wide with curiosity, and Squeaks even picks up one of the dumplings that’s been brought for her. She tucks her feet up underneath her, so she’s sitting on her knees on the couch. Joe’s question makes her slow down a little and even keeps her from biting into the dumpling to think about the why.

“She just started staring.” Squeaks settles back on her heels, gyoza held in both hands on her lap. “Then she asked if I knew I was evolved and said she thought I was manifested.” Her shoulders pop up with a quick shrug. “She wanted to try and… nothing really happened first, then, suddenly, it was all way different.”

"I guess Aunt Gilly hasn't really spent much time around you. I didn't know she could sense Evolved. Or maybe it's more that she can sense whether her ability will work on a person? Thus Evolved radar or something. That'd be pretty primal." Joe is happy to keep on munching his way through his own dumplings. He moves over to the couch and takes a seat on it, though he gives Squeaks enough room to continue her bouncing around on the couch.

"Echolocation. That really is pretty awesome. And yeah Aunt Gilly's power is pretty primal too. She suuuuuper boosts people's powers. I would actually be invulnerable. Aunt Kaylee basically becomes a brain god. Lance is the master of all things sound. It's super cool stuff. Sounds like you get almost like Xray sound vision stuff. Like uhhh Daredevil. From the marvel comics. He's blind, but he can hear so good that he can tell who a person is just by their breathing. And he can tell where someone is going to throw a punch based on hearing how their foot grinds on the ground when they shift their weight, stuff like that. You found a secret compartment. We're going to have to get all sorts of chalk on that book you found."

A wide smile is flashed at Squeaks. "But we knew you were Evolved. You and I. Cuz He Who Knows Too Much called you a child of the Eclipse. We just didn't know what your power was yet." Joe is content to sit there for the moment, nomming on food and talking, though he does pause to look over at the girl who can hear in the dark. “Oh. I wanted to ask you. You want to play some pranks on Seesaw? Get some revenge for Agent Lin manhandling you? Cuz I’m totally down to help if you do.”

“The Zhao guy said that. And maybe that’s what Samson meant.” The strange homeless looking man that had saved Squeaks, and Lance and Brynn, from the first misadventure in the Underneath had said some strange things, too. About her being able to find the way back. She takes some time to think about that while nibbling on one of her dumplings.

There’s a lot to think about. She hasn’t even started to find out how much she can do with her ability. Squeaks knows she can find things, and the way things look. But how far does it work? She doesn’t say anything more about the book she found. It’s tucked away, safe and sound right now, and she’ll probably leave it that way.

The question about the agents earns a confused look. Squeaks’ excitement turns to a frown and she tries to figure out when she got manhandled. “When he stopped me from going down the ladder,” she asks.

As usual, there’s no sound of keys rattling in the lock, or the door opening as Lance comes through. Habit. The silence field drops as soon as he’s inside and sees the others, an easy smile greeting them. “Hey guys,” he greets, shrugging a messenger bag off his shoulder and tossing it to land next to the couch as he walks in, shoes kicked off, “What’s up?”

Brynn comes out of the kitchen with a plate loaded with dumplings, and she shoots a grin toward Lance as he arrives. She tips her chin in greeting, since her hands are full, and lets Squeaks get all excitable again.

Joe nods his head to the mention of Zhao, that's who he's been talking about after all. He Who Knows Too Much. He has finished his dumplings, both portions, and leans back on the couch now, arms spreading along the top of it, head tilting back so he can stare up at the ceiling. "Lance bro!" Joe signs for Brynn's benefit to, letting her know he's been greeted.

"Squeakers has exciting news." His head flops to the side to get the whole crew in his line of vision. "And I brought dumplings. Hooked the chinese place next to Raquelle's up with a connection to Keira, so they gave me a bunch of dumplings free as a thanks. There's at least 8 over there with your name on it, and 8 spares for anyone that's still hungry." He pats his own stomach, he's quite full himself.

"Yeah, when he stopped you from going down the ladder, and then Rhys tried to grab you too. Just an offer. You want some prank revenge I'll help. Teach em not to just randomly grab people like that. Was uncool. Sorry, wasn't trying to dampen your bouncy excitement. Tell Lance." He gestures towards his brother happily.

She’s still looking at Joe all confused, head slowly tilting like she’d caught a strange sound. Or maybe looking at him kind of sideways puts things in better perspective. “Next time I’ll just kick them in the junk.” So matter of fact, Squeaks probably means it and will do it.

Then, with Lance arriving all that confusion just vanishes. Or, it’s put on hold because there are more important things than how the agents acted. “I can find things!” The younger girl nearly tips over her plate of food as she scoots toward the front edge of the couch. “At the library. Aunt Gillian could tell I was manifested and she did her thing that made me do my thing and now I can know how things are like how bats do!”

Just about to sprawl out on the couch as well, the offer of food has Lance diverting his course sharply in the direction of said dumplings, a grin flashed over to Joe. “You’re a fuckin’ saint,” he calls over, and then the news about Squeaks stops him in his tracks, whirling to look back her way. “Whoa! You can— like, echolocation? So you can clap and find shit in the dark?”

A broad grin, “That’s primal! Hey, we both have, like, sound powers!”

Taking a seat with her plate in her lap, Brynn can't help the wet rolling of her eyes. The irony of two of her siblings having sound powers is one she only pointed out to Squeaks. She grins at the group and nods to Lance. It's why she could map the underground so well, she comments. Then she's working on her plate of food with good manners — Gillian did have an impact in a lot of ways.

"Yes Yes I am!" Joe responds back to Lance's praise for him. He's grinning wide as he lounges on the couch, though he does scoot down so he's against the arm of the couch, giving others plenty of room to claim a spot on the couch too. They just have to contend with the energizer bunny bouncing on the couch if they want that spot. "No wonder she finds her way in the dark like we do up top huh bro?" Joe calls over, that wide grin still in place. "It's totally primal. We're soooo gonna have to experiment with her ability and yours though. Sound based and all that." Joe remarks, his hands moving for Brynn's benefit.

When Brynn sits and rolls her eyes Joe laughs and leans in, signing before giving her a tight hug. It's okay Brynny. We'll survive them. We've survived this long. But I am really curious to see what they can do together. Maybe let Squeaks echolocate while everyone is silenced and stuff? Could be some really nifty stuff. Pretty primal though. We just kind of collect people. And they always seem to turn out to be Evolved. Almost like we have an innate sense of the rest of our species. Really interesting actually. He leans his head on her shoulder as his hands move. Totally why. He signs his agreement, then straightens up. "Oh! The book?" He asks, looking to Brynn and Squeaks.

“It is!” Squeaks practically falls off the couch in her haste to give up her seat. She doesn’t feel like sitting still, and her excited energy again shows in her hand-spoken words practically jumbling together. “When Aunt Gillian was trying to see if things changed, nothing happened and I said so. But then…” Her hands spread wide and overhead. Either her mind just exploded, or she’s indicating that suddenly she could know everything about the room.

“I mean, I think that I’d stop the echo… “ Lance’s brow furrows a little as he considers it, then brings his hands up to sign, wonder if I could just let, like one frequency of sound through? Maybe we should practice together, little sister. He grins broadly at Squeaks’ excitement, That’s primal, though. I’m glad you finally know. A look to Joe, then back to Squeaks and Brynn. “Book?”

Right…. so while they're talking about the book, Brynn takes the chance to shovel (discreetly) some food into her mouth so she can at least get some dinner before she has to talk. When she sets the plate down, her hands are moving fast and in Cant shortcuts — it's a lot!!

When Aunt Gilly augmented her, Mouse's ability basically hit everything in the library. There was a hollow table with something it, and the drawer in the table had been painted over. Aunt Gilly said she could keep whatever she found, and it turned out to be a really old book. But it's written in codetalk if some kind. We're going to need a decrypted key. She told Mouse she wasn't any good at codes, and she's really not… however, one of things she has always been good at is spotting patterns. There's no telling where the table came from, but I don't think it's a simple substitution. I can try if you want, but … She shrugs. There were others on their group way better at the super smart stuff.

Joe noddles along to Lance, and to Squeaks both, then nods at the mention of the book before he sits back to watch Brynn's hands move. ##BA55D3|We can give it a try too. Not sure my brain is best suited to it, but we can give it a try. Do any of our aunts or uncles have enhanced cognitive abilities?" He's pondering that, his head tilted to the side. "I dunno. That might be something we could find someone for. Someone who's worked in some secret ops stuff or something? Maybe that one guy. Ryans uhhh can't remember his first name. Aunty Stork's friend. I think he was ferry wasn't he?" He asks, looking to Brynn and Lance both at that. "He always seemed like a government agent or something." Joe's shoulders lift in a shrug, then he slouches back into the couch, tipping his head back again, though he tilts it a bit to keep Brynn's hands in his line of sight.

Excitement begins to melt away, like a popsicle left out in the sun. Squeaks’ grins and animation eventually comes to a stop and she’s staring at Joe as plans just start being made. “I get to try first.” It’s not a question but a statement. Even her hands are firm and to the point — probably for the first time this evening. “You can look, but I found it. I don’t want the grown-ups getting it and taking it away. Gillian gave it to me.” Her eyes flick to Brynn and Lance as she speaks, wondering what their ideas are now, too.

Squeaks is right, Lance signs with a shake of his head, It’s her book, and if she needs our help, we help, but - the adults are a last resort. This is her puzzle, so it’s our puzzle. He grins, then, saying out loud, “I love a mystery, too.”

Then he’s turning to step over and fetch those dumplings, because dumplings.

Brynn nods with a grin toward Squeaks. First thing you need is a book on codes. You know…. I know Aunt Gilly has the library, but I know there was supposed to be a huge library put in the Unsafe Zone somewhere, right? So if Aunt Gilly doesn't have what we need, maybe someplace like that will, she offers. Then she goes back to eating her dinner. They're all eating eat better these days, though to be fair they weren't by any stretch starving before. Brian took good care of them. But it was good they cooked at home, mostly. The city, even destroyed as it is, has lots of amenities they didn't have.

Joe looks at Squeaks for a moment, blinking, then looks to Lance a moment, blinking. "Yo. I'm not a complete moron okay. I would not take the book to them. I'd take them like a sample. Take a picture of a page or something. I'm not taking the book to the adults. They like to shove us out of things and keep us out of things. Like the golden eyed demon. Have we heard a damn word from them about it?" He arches a brow around at the group, his hands moving for Brynn as always. "I'm not stupid." Joe's grumpy now too, apparently taking honest insult at the statements from Lance and Squeaks. His arms fold over his chest, crossing and he turns his head to stare at the wall to his side. There's some grumbling from him, about everyone else being the ones to run to the adults for help after the demon incident not him. It's not very quiet grumbling either.

Staring at Joe again, Squeaks takes a full step away from the collective older teens. Confusion and frustration are painted on her face. A look darts to Lance and Brynn, then back again to Joe, trying to navigate the situation. “You’re not stupid. But I…” she pauses, trying to explain without making it worse. But she doesn’t get that far because something that’s said does find a teeny bit of anger.

“That’s not fair!” The younger girl’s hands don’t mirror her words, they’re clenched at her sides. But the neighbors might be able to hear the muffled pitch of louder words. “I tried telling you, all of you! But you started fighting so I stopped talking about it!” The nearly yelling ends with a huff, and her arms wrap firmly around her middle. While Squeaks doesn’t retreat further, she does dart a look toward the front door then down the hall.

“I know you’re not, I just…” Lance doesn’t get to finish explaining to Joe, because suddenly there’s an explosion from their youngest member and he’s blinking at her in confusion several times. “Whoa, whoa,” he says more gently, lifting a hand palm-forward, “What… what are you talking about? Look, I’m sorry if we talked over you or something, what— “

His brow furrows, clearly unsure what set Squeaks off, “What were you trying to tell us?”

Brynn looks between the others, catching that Squeaks is mad at them but unsure why. The down side of having her attention on her plate just for a moment means she wasn't watching the whole thing as the boys started chatting. A frown pulls at her brows, and there's a tension in her slender frame. She doesn't like it when they fight among themselves, never has. The boys she mostly ignores because they squabble and have done so since they were kids. But if they've said something to upset Mouse, the younger teen …. might bolt. And she doesn't want that.

Joe is just kinda sitting in his corner of the couch, sullen and grumpy. His arms remain crossed over his chest, his head turned to the side, resting on the back of the couch as Squeaks gets upset and Lance tries to figure out why. Joe's not entirely sure himself, but he leaves it be since he is not the graceful with words and seems to have a habit of making things worse when he tries to fix things.

“About Barbara and the camcorder.” Squeaks’ fingers work into the folds of her clothes, like hugging herself tighter would fix whatever went wrong. “And Eve and the golden eyes. When Aunt Gillian took me to see them, but everyone got upset when I tried to say what happened so I stopped talking about it!” She huffs out a breath and frowns, but not at anyone specifically. “The only thing I didn’t tell was that I asked Richard Ray about the gold eyes, because that only just happened, right before we went back into the sewers.”

“Hey, hey…” Lance steps over, shaking his head— turning to look to the others, then back to Squeaks, “Look, we argue and fight and sometimes we get loud, but— we’re all family. We love each other. Sometimes it’s okay to fight.” A wry admission, “Keeps it from building up. We didn’t mean to not listen though…” His hands spread a little. “I’m sorry. We can all be jerks sometimes.”

Brynn's unease is evident. She rarely participates or even speaks up in conflicts among her siblings — being 'the quiet one' is not exactly a chosen role so much as just where she falls both because of her hearing deficit lending itself to missing things and because of her own reluctance to mouth off in a group. She has sympathy for Squeaks' point of view on this — the more vocal and faster-talking members of their cadre are easier to hear even for the deaf girl, so the fact that Squeaks herself didn't want to insert her words and try to be heard over them is a familiar position for Brynn too. She finds it much easier one-on-one.

She smiles a bit at the boys' apologies, and she adds her own. Looking abashed, she admits, I'm sorry, Mouse… none of us meant for you to feel like you weren't important to us or that you were stupid. I know how awful that feels. She gets it a lot from outsiders — deaf must equate to 'slow', right? Please tell us what you were saying that we missed? And no, the book is definitely yours — I was only suggesting that we should go find you a code book because my own skills, and the boys' skills don't lend themselves to helping you.

"Who's Barbara?" Joe asks sounding confused, his head turning to look over at Squeaks. "Aunt Gilly took you somewhere to talk to people about it?" Joe sounds even more confused at that. He stays put on the couch, being sullen still. "Brian tried to teach me a little bit about code breaking and stuff. It didn't stick. He said it's cuz I didn't have enough formal education in math and problem solving. Had enough to pass the exam for college though so… dunno. But yeah I'm not a code breaker." Joe's head at least turns a bit to bring everyone back into view, and his hands start moving again, not meaning to have kept Brynn out of the conversation, so he fills in what he's just said, then lets his hands fall back to his stomach.

Fingers ease open, but those arms stay in place for a little bit longer, but she does drop them so she can supplement her speaking out loud with her hands. “I’m sorry too. I didn’t want to say again and make everyone angry more, but I wasn’t trying to keep it secret either.” It’s just a learned habit for Squeaks to escape notice when there’s anger around. “People get upset, so I stopped.”

She takes another step backward, but not to flee like she might have, just getting some more distance for now. Squeaks does sit again, but on the floor facing the older teens, her back to a wall. “Aunt Gillian took me and the camcorder to see this Barbara lady, she looks like someone on the council. And Barbara did a thing that made her face bleed from her nose but she said to destroy the camcorder because it had something to do with the Company. And she didn’t see anything about the people from the video, just the Company stuff.”

That’s the easy part to tell. She still hasn’t figured out much about the Company, but there’s people she can ask. “Then a couple of days later we went to see Eve. She said the golden eyes was dangerous but didn’t know anything else yet.” Squeaks pauses for a second, then adds, “Then she started fake drowning.”

“The Company?” Lance’s brow creases in confusion, “We didn’t see anything about that…” A look to the others is shot back, confused, and then he looks back to Squeaks, “They’re long gone, though. Years and years and years ago.”

Confusion is cleared for a rueful expression at the last, “That… sounds like Eve, yeah. She’s got problems.”

The date stamp was in the past, Brynn points out. And the Company was… pretty wide-ranging. Mr. Ryans said they were into everything. So… maybe it’s a leftover. Or… if it’s from some other place, maybe the Company there is still working. There’s no real way to know. She drops her hands back to her plate, but she’s more playing with her food than eating it.

Joe looks confused, really confused. His head turns and his eyes scan from Squeaks to Lance, to Brynn then finally back to Squeaks. "I think we need to stop taking things to the adults. Our adults anyway. Our aunts. They see us as children, and they're hiding things. They're doing the exact thing they fought against. They're hiding things from people, keeping the big dark secrets under wraps so people don't get freaked out and panic. That is exactly the excuse the government gave before. They're doing everything they claim not to believe in. This Golden eyes thing is something that should be made public knowledge. It's not something a few select people should decide how to handle." Joe looks at Lance in particular there. "Please tell me you agree with me here Lance. Please."

Joe is signing for Brynn as well, and looks to her as well. He knows she doesn't like conflict, and this would cause conflict, and he's sorry for that, the apology is written on his face. "Squeaks if you've ever felt silenced in this group I'm sorry. We weren't raised to sit idly by. I mean yeah we went off to the Canadian Wilderness. But I think that was more so Brian could stop some of us from getting involved in the war. Because I would have fought. And I know others would have too. Paul would have. And I think Lance would have joined us. Growing up Lance and I were always the ones responsible for herding the smaller kids. When something went wrong we were the ones who got in trouble. It turned us into leaders. We take charge. It's what we do. But if you want to talk, want to say something. We'll listen. You just have to speak up."

There's a small smile from him, and though he doesn't hug her he'll reach out to lightly rest a hand on her forearm. "We're not just family. We're friends too." Joe looks over at Brynn at her statement. "Actually I'm pretty sure Richard Ray knows where it's from." His hands moving to sign that to her as well of course. "He might be one of the few adults willing to take action and not just sit around gossiping about what's happening."

“Not all of them are hiding things,” Squeaks interjects. It’s quiet, an unfortunate habit because she doesn’t like to interrupt, but feels important enough to say. “I think some just don’t have all the answers. But some are. That Barbara lady…” She’s pretty sure there was more going on than just what little she said about the camcorder.

Squeaks’ legs tuck up so she’s sitting criss-cross, and she looks at the older teens without saying anything for a long time. “I asked Richard Ray about the golden eyes because he said something that sounded like he knew. He thinks it’s a really bad thing, like worse than the rats dangerous, but he didn’t seem to know why. Except that it’s between or… outside maybe? All the different universes. He had a picture of the lady in the video on his desk and he knew where she was. Kind of. And he said he’d tell me if things changed with the golden eyes.”

“I mean, that’s just us hiding things then, Joe,” Lance says grudgingly, dropping himself down on the couch finally and curling one leg under the other, hands moving to echo his words so Brynn can read them, “I know they’re hiding things, but… just hiding them ourselves isn’t much better. We shouldn’t stop telling them, but we shouldn’t let them stop us from looking into things, either. I mean, that Rhys guy might be a SESA agent but I’m pretty sure I’m better than him at, like, everything.”

A frown, then, “Richard— that Cardinal guy? He came around the Lighthouse sometimes. I don’t know much about him. I think Owain works for him?”

Brynn raises both of her brows and looks down for a moment. Then she brings her hands up to sign, Owain’s working for someone at Aunt Kaylee’s business, if that’s the same Richard person. He… knew Owain’s father, I guess. Because he’s not holding anything against Owain himself, obviously. Glancing at Lance, she also adds, I don’t like all this talk about not telling people we trust things. I mean… how is that any better than what started all this mess? She looks between the boys and shrugs. It’s just her two cents.

"I spoke to Richard too Squeaks. Just days before going into the sewers as well. I went there with the lady that Lance and I work for sometimes. Keira. She knew Richard. And I thought if Aunt Kaylee hadn't told him about Liz by now then he deserved to know. He already knew thankfully. And he seemed very intrigued about the golden eyed demon thing."

Joe turns to stare at Lance for a few moments, then at Brynn too since she echoes his statement. "I'm not saying don't tell anyone guys. Come on. Are you listening to me here? Cuz it sure doesn't seem like it. Here we are trying to convince Squeaks that we'll listen and you're not even listening to me." There's even a stuck out tongue at Lance, and then at Brynn, his hands moving as ever. "I said we should stop taking things to our adults. Not all adults. I'm talking about telling EVERYONE. Put the video online. Provide a transcript of what isn't heard on the video. Telling people. The public. Not just our former caretakers. But all the adults." Joe rolls his eyes, then looks back over to Squeaks. "He told me the same thing. He might be the only adult willing to work with us, or at least keep us in the loop. People need to know about all of this."

Joe snorts out a laugh and tips his head up and down a couple times. "Dude. We're all better than that Rhys guy. Pretty sure Brynn could outfight and out agent him." He looks over at Brynn with a wide grin after signing that. Brynn is definitely the most pacifist of the group after all. "I didn't know Owain had anything to do with him. But I met him with Brian in the park, and he was around the lighthouse enough. Brian used to talk about him. Said he wasn't half as clever as he thought. But that that still means he's pretty dang clever. Brian liked the guy, and trusted him. I think. I mean as much as Brian trusted anyone. And that's enough for me to give someone the benefit of the doubt."

“The boss of Raytech,” Squeaks says to clarify. She doesn’t know a Cardinal guy, just a Ray guy. “Aunt Kaylee is the boss there too. Kind of. But he’s like the boss of a different part than she is. I was just there and waiting for things so I found his office asked him about it, because he said something one time before about videos and demons. I think he probably didn’t tell me everything, but maybe because he doesn’t know for sure yet.”

She makes a face when Owain is brought up, like she’d bitten into moldy bread and sardines. “He needs to mind his own business,” she asides, mumbling. Squeaks’ hands don’t include that part, but they don’t hide the look on her face either. “I think we need to share what we know and tell people, but we can’t tell everyone. Not the whole world, because then the bad guys would know too.”

“Yeah, I don’t… I mean, without context, people would just get confused,” Lance says with a furrowed brow, his hands pausing their echo of his words for a moment before returning to it, “They don’t know what’s going on even more than we don’t know what’s going on. And it might cause panics and stuff, and— like Squeaks said, some assholes might take advantage of it. They might know more than we do, you never know.”

He holds a hand up to Joe, “But I hear you, I do. Look. I’ll tell you what, if we ever do find, like, serious actual evidence of bad shit, stuff that people need to know, we’ll get it out there. I work in the media now!” Sort of.
Brynn brightens visibly at the fact that Lance more or less agrees with her instead of Joe, but she glances toward Joe and tones down that reaction. Because taking sides between the boys is Bad News, generally speaking. It leaves her playing mediator or freaking well 'tell Joe I said'/'tell Lance I said' crap. All she says about the matter is, Honestly, … people are stupid. Even more than I thought, when there's a big old group of them. They just… go along with the crowd, whoever's loudest or seems to have the most power. There's no tone to give any context to what she's saying, but … it's not exactly like Brynn to think the worst of people, either.

She pushes off her seat and heads to take her plate to the kitchen without really explaining what she's talking about. When she comes back out again, she's holding a drink in her hand and her features have the neutral calm that she almost always has. She pauses there just to see if they're mid-sentences in the time she's been gone.

Joe's brows rise up as Squeaks gets grumpy about Owain. "Oh I definitely feel like I missed something. How come no one keeps me in the loop? Why are we annoyed with Owain?" He asks of Squeaks. And from him it's an honest question. He pauses as she talks about not telling the whole world. His head is shaken. "The bad guys already know. I think that's halfway the reason the war came about. The bad guys already knew everything. They were so far ahead of us that it ended up taking brute force assaults on them to put a stop to them. There was no out maneuvering the Institute, or taking them down through the government. THey were too strong. Too far ahead. The bad guys are always ahead. What do you suggest Squeakers? How do we decide who to tell and who not to tell? And when we're deciding who to tell and who not to tell then how are we any different from our Aunts keeping secrets?" His features are settled into an unhappy frown. He doesn't like any of the options before them.

"We can provide that context Lance. We can. I'm willing to tell people what I saw and heard. I'm willing to take lie detector tests and verification by telepath. Whatever people want. And maybe panic is good. Maybe if people gotten their panic on before the war things might not have escalated to that point. If the Ferrymen and everyone else had told the public what the Institute was really doing? Maybe the war wouldn't have happened. Maybe so many people wouldn't have died. Bad guys thrive in the dark. In secrecy and in shadows." His hands fly fast and crisp, to emphasize how strongly he feels about this. "You work in the media?" Joe asks, voice flat at the question. "What? Since when? What are you doing? Why am I always the last person to know things around here?"

He sighs though as he sees Brynn signing, and his head shakes but he waits till she's finished before he speaks and signs. "I don't agree. People are stupid sure. But you know what? The war ended. Because people wisened up and stopped supporting the bad guys. Maybe if people had been informed before the war about what was really happening they wouldn't have supported the bad guys." He sighs and his eyes close tight for a few moments. "I wish scary crazy stuff would stop happening and we could all just go back to school and be normal. I really do." His head tips forwards and hangs for a few moments. "I need to get some air. I love you guys." He turns and starts for the door after looking around at all of them, making sure to let them see that he's not angry.

She doesn’t really have any answers, not yet anyway. So Squeaks doesn’t try to answer any of the questions. Even the ones about Owain. That is something she doesn’t want to talk about. So the other questions just get teeny shrugs until she’s looking away instead of at the frown on Joe’s face. Her knees pull up so she can hug on them, toes tapping against each other.

“I just don’t— whoa, hey, Joe— “ Lance rolls himself up to his feet, and now he looks upset, “C’mon, there’s no need to walk out, I mean. I don’t really, I just got a part time thing— like— at the the radio station, I actually wanted to talk to everyone about it, I found out some stuff…”

He doesn’t move to stop Joe from departing, though, if that’s his intent.

I wish crazy scary stuff would stop happening too, Brynn signs with a sad expression. She doesn't comment on the fact that Lance is working at the radio station — honestly, she figured he'd hear it quick enough even if he was in and out of town so much, what with Lance being on the air regularly. So that he didn't know is a bit of a surprise, and not one she really can address. She scoots and wraps an arm around Squeaks, anxiety tightening her features a bit as she watches the guys. Joe's the more volatile of her brothers, but it doesn't mean he's not part of the bedrock of her world. In a childhood of Us vs. Them, it's always been Us. Sometimes the Us includes the grown-ups, sometimes it doesn't. Her thoughts on the situation are perhaps not as articulate as she'd like them to be, because Joe doesn't seem to quite understand where she's coming from. And like Squeaks, she has a tendency to just shut up when she's not getting through clearly.

"What? I'm not going to get some air cuz of the stupid radio thing. I"m getting some air because I'm frustrated and we don't seem like we're going to agree. So rather than argue and fight I'm gonna take a walk. I'll be back in a bit. Don't have to worry about me on the streets of New York at night alone." There's a wink from him, but it's a bit forced. "I'll be back in a bit. You can fill me in then." And with that Joe does slip out the door and into the hall unless he's physically stopped by a Lance.

Eyes lift up to look at Brynn, and then angle a glance toward the boys. Squeaks huffs quietly, unsure or unwanting to try and further navigate all the misunderstandings and hurt feelings. It’s too confusing on top of everything. She tips her head against the older girl’s shoulder, because even though hugs are still a little weird, the contact and acknowledgement is good.

The youngest teen darts another look to the door when Joe actually does leave. “Is he really not angry,” she asks quietly, with a look to Brynn and Lance as if to ask Now what?.

There’s no attempt made to grab the other teenager as he departs, though Lance looks as if he wants to… and instead as the door closes he drops down onto the couch with a sharp whuff of breath, his head tilting back to rest on the cushions as he frowns up at the ceiling.

“Joe…” A sigh, “Joe never really stopped fighting, I don’t think. I don’t think he wants to. He still wants it all to be adventures and fighting and stopping evil, but life’s— life’s more complicated than that.”

Brynn doesn't say anything for a long few moments and then she slips her hands into view. It's not that he wants fighting and stuff, she points out sadly. It's that we all grew up in a world where the government couldn't be trusted and the adults around us taught us that the only people we could trust were ours. It was pretty black and white growing up — we were kids and it was us and them.

She pauses and points out, Now our people are the government in some ways… and we have to figure out how to reconcile the shades of grey. I agree with you, for what that's worth — we should keep people informed, but we should be careful about it too. Informing them is different than letting them take over — and they do still see us as kids.

With a small grin, Brynn points out, I'm not sure we ever were kids… but it's going to be hard for them to see that. Especially if we treat all the things we're learning as black and white issues — right and wrong aren't that simple when you're not fighting for your life.

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