Teddy Hugs


edgar_icon.gif lydia_icon.gif

Scene Title Teddy Hugs
Synopsis There's trouble in the paradise that is the Smythe residence.
Date October 28, 2014

Smythe Home

Albany is so very far away and yet it only ever takes Edgar a few hours to travel home from the trials. For as long as Edgar has been in the United States, away from the carnival, Detroit hasn't been the best place to live. The houses here are like houses anywhere, just abandoned for a longer time. This city was an apocalyptic ghost town before the war and it's likely to continue being one long after. Regardless, it's where the Smythes lay their heads to rest and where the children call home.

The concrete roads leave no dust trail but stray pieces of litter whirl up in the speedster's wake as he reaches the large house in the middle of their burnt out neighbourhood. Before opening the chain link gate, he looks up at the house and the lines on his face smooth out when the sounds of laughing children reach his ears.

Finally family.

In a flash he's inside and the middle child, his daughter, is lifted into the air before she knows what's even happening. He has a smile on his face and the monster noise he makes elicits a hearty laugh from the older one and a shriek of terror from the younger.

The smell of garlic and cheese wafts from the kitchen while the chorus of children giggling at their father’s presence echoes through the house. Lydia, in her loose fitting red dress, flips the odd grilled cheese, complete with parmesan on the outside (very carnie food if ever she was trying to get out of the habit) before managing a tight smile.

Her long hair has been tied into a tight ponytail at her back— a common occurrence these days with the littlest opting to pull anything he can gets his hands on— while the rest of her thin form has experienced little change despite bearing three children. The dark shadows under her eyes have become a near-permanent fixture since before the trials started and that nearly hollowed look behind her eyes turns warm with the eldest’s laughter and husband’s presence.

Her lips turn up into a knowing smile, a small change at the edges while she plates each of the sandwiches. Bowls of soup and vegetables are dispensed on each plate. Carnival life has managed to make her aware of how to make something from little, a reasonable strength in harder times.

Jennie giggles when she’s lifted up out of the blue and she throws her little around around her dad. She mimics his monster noises, hers sounding more adorable than scary, but it still manages to get a reaction from her little brother. Which is what she was going for.

“Listen to this,” she says in halting words, only half pronounced correctly. Her little voice is pitched high and there’s a little smile on her face when she clears her throat. And sings. “I like ti ite, I like ti ite ight ipples ind bi-ni-nis!” She really has to work at getting the words right, since she’s only just learning them at all and here a song is asking her to get them purposefully wrong. “U luke tu ute, U luke tu ute ute upples und bu-nu-nus!”

But she has the soul of a performer. She can’t help it.

As Jennie performs, Edgar is quieting little Samuel by bouncing him on his knee. He keeps in rhythm to his daughter’s melody and when the singing stops, so does the bouncing… which makes Samuel unhappy. He squeals at first and then starts screaming. The speedster, uncertain of what to do, stares first at his eldest son, then his daughter, then just holds out the baby on two straight arms. “I think ‘e wants yer mum,” is uttered and then he adds, “But Jennie, I think he likes yer song as much as I do.”


He calls, before standing up straight and offering one foot to each Arnold and Jennie. “Hang on tight, I’ll give you a ride to the table.” He’s not normally supposed to run in the house, especially with this children but he breaks the rules regularly, at home and away. The blur stops at the table and the two children attached to his legs are shaken up (quite a bit). The one he’s holding out, still screaming. “‘E definitely wants you.”

And so Samuel is passed off.

“Get up t’yer seats, mum made cheese sammiches an’.. Soup?” he says, helping Jennie first, Arnold is old enough to get up to his seat by himself and refuses all aide. Edgar also sits, when Lydia can finally see him, she can not only sense, but see the conflict there.

“We need t’ talk.”

The chaos developing only a room away doesn’t miss Lydia’s ears, but preoccupation with the day-to-day bluster of domesticity and child-minding hardly gives way, especially because Edgar is with the children. Consequently, the tears hardly need checking at this moment. Until her name gets so unceremoniously called.

With a faint sigh, she treads to the fridge, extracts the milk and a jug of water to place on the table. And, in a flash, the entire crew is there. She blinks. “Please no running in the house,” her voice lacks some of its usual smoothness, giving way to a hint of the exhaustion she feels. A tight smile finds itself plastered on her face.

The baby gets accepted on her hip with a faint clucking of her tongue. “You, young man, could’ve brought down the house with those screams,” her chin drops to catch Samuel’s gaze with fondness reflecting in her own.

Lydia often still manages her stoicism, yet managing a houseful of toddlers, even she struggles with it. “Tomato soup,” she offers in return to Edgar’s question. And then back to Arnold and Jennie, she adds, “You both need to eat at least three of the carrot sticks on your plates. Three. I will not have any children in this house dying of scurvy.”

But then her attention turns to her husband with the imminently terrifying prospect we need to talk, and her own expression becomes unreadable— a smooth nothingness that can’t easily discerned. “What about?”

Jennie is all too glad to grab onto a leg and get whisked away. She arrives in Lydia’s presence in rowdy laughter as she lets go of Edgar’s leg and falls back to the floor. But as food is mentioned, she rolls over and uses her dad’s leg to get herself back to her feet before hurrying to the table. She’s not quite tall enough for the table, but climbs into a chair anyway, her song continuing under her breath.

A lake ta ate, A lake ta ate aight ape-ples and bananaaaaas,” she continues until she gets into the chair, sitting on her legs to add some height to herself.

She makes a face at the mention of carrots, not because she doesn’t like them, but because she has to eat them and that makes them suddenly unpalatable. “Scurvy won’t get me,” she says, even though she doesn’t know what scurvy is or how carrots have anything to do with it, “I’m too fast. Like Daddy,” she says with a grin. The brewing conversation hasn’t caught her attention yet, so her own good mood has come along with her.

Arnold is a good lad and doesn't protest the carrots. So he eats them first, to get it out of the way. Then he's onto the soup, the second least favorite. Like his mother, he's very methodical in how he approaches things, almost obsessively so. Like his father, nothing but family matters ever seem to phase him. For a firstborn, he's a perfect blend of them both.

"That's m'girl," Edgar encourages Jennie with a ruffle of her hair, avoiding the conversation in favor of keeping a positive presence for the children. As an example to her, he also starts with the carrots on his plate. And he's silent for a bit as he mulls over exactly how he can break the news.

The tension in the room is as thick as butter and can be cut with a knife.

"Whadd'ye think about movin' to Rochester?" He begins carefully, it's not a huge stretch away and closer than Albany by half. Not that they've been planning on him being gone too much longer. The trials can't last forever. "I was offered to take a look at this thing they're startin' called Wolfhound."

Lydia shoots Jennie a half-smile, self-assured, and approving, before shifting the baby on her hip into a highchair. She ruffles his hair and then, finally, assumes her own seat. It’s then that she returns her focus on Edgar, eyes honing in on her husband. The question meets silence for longer than ought to be comfortable, while Lydia leans away from her own plate.

She’s lost her appetite. She should be a good example. For the time being, she lets her gaze shift to her sandwich, training on it like it’s by far the most interesting object in the room, even as the youngest vies for her attention.

And then, to her sandwich, she utters a single word, “Why?”

Grinning up at her dad, Jennie turns to watch him after the ruffle. And she even eats her carrots, just like he does. It also slows her down enough to pick up on the tension. The words passing back and forth don’t offer any real explanation to the girl, but she looks back and forth between them.

“They’re going to make puppies?” She knows what a hound is, anyway. Not so much the rest of it. Puppies are good, for sure, but there’s worry in the girl’s question. And a glance toward her mom.

Arnold doesn’t say a word. He just stares at Edgar for a moment and then bolts from his chair. The thump thump thump of his feet up the stairs and the slam of his bedroom door is enough to voice his opinion on the subject. It’s a clear no.

“No Jennie, no puppies,” Edgar says gently, “It’s a job, I’ll be doin’ good an’ catchin’ some bad guys, like a hero.” He tries to put a positive spin on it, for the girl’s sake. “But… if I do good, maybe we can get a puppy. You won’t have’ta lead Samuel around on a string no more.”

He looks at Lydia, “It’s a job, Lydia, I’ll be makin’ enough money to get us a place with real heat an’ real electricity.” He’s almost pleading with her to see his reasoning in this. “I won’t be gone a lot of the time, I’m sure they won’t expect me t’live there, much.”

Lydia’s gaze doesn’t lift as Arnold moves. She doesn’t make effort to chase after him. She doesn’t even reprimand leaving the table. She sits in silence letting the words roll over her thoughts like a marble. And that roll almost continues in the silky speech she’s so known for. But fatigue has frayed her nerves.

The last few years have been beyond difficult. The distance has felt acute.

And then, to even Lydia’s surprise, her voice cracks around the words: “I can’t do this anymore,” as she stares at the grilled cheese.

Her shoulders tighten, her stomach knots, and she forces her eyes upwards. “I remember what I said. I remember saying this was important that people like us needed each other. But this three-ringed circus has taken you from me and I can’t do this anymore.”

Her nostrils flare. Her heartbeat spikes. But she attempts to steady her nerves. Yet even that level of emotion from his mother has Samuel bursting into tears. Lydia freezes, hands forming light fists as she lets the little one cry.

The girl has enough grasp on the emotional side of this conversation that she doesn’t jump on Edgar’s explanation right away. Instead, she sinks down in her chair and pulls her knees up to her chest. Everyone’s upset and she doesn’t understand why. But she can’t leave like her brother, not before everyone is okay again.

Even Lydia’s words don’t really make sense to her. At least, not most of them. Some of it she gets, enough that a pair of tears start their way down her face. And her gaze goes to her little brother when he cries, and she slips out of the chair to come over to him. She leans against his high chair and sings quietly to him. He likes her singing, after all.

“Then what d’you want me t’do, Lydia? This is a job and I’ll be able to do somethin’ good. I’m sure if..” Then it dawns on him. If something happens. He falls silent and gets up from his place at the table. He doesn’t run, he just walks toward the back of the house, giving Jennie’s little head a ruffle as he passes by.

Edgar’s never been good with words, he’s always deferred to Lydia for that. What does he do when the words he needs are for her? Once out the back door, he doesn’t run, he just sits on the step. His eyes lift to the stars and his lips part slightly, “What do I do, Samuel?”

Jennie’s singing causes the little one’s tears to subside, giving way to cooing happily along, making the occasional word in tandem. He reaches for her finger to tug on while he utters near gibberish at her. Evidently he’s rather taken with his sister, but then she already knew that much.

Lydia blinks hard while her eyes turn glassy with unshed tears. The question, as gently as it’s asked causes her to tense. “I want you home,” she squeaks to his retreating form. She buries her face into her hands. Loud broken sobs escape her lips, resulting in hiccuping to try to steady her emotions for her still-present children.

Samuel gets distracted from Jennie for a few moments to stare at their mother. While he knows nothing going on, mommy never seems to cry. The upset seems to leave him rather worried.

Lydia inhales a long breath, and uses it to try to steady herself. She rubs her sleeve across her face, mopping up any gathered moisture. But try as she might to contain her feelings, her red rimmed eyes likely speak volumes as she follows the same path towards the back door. Slowly she opens it and those knots in her stomach carry on once more as she peeks after him, rendered without words or solace.

Her finger seems to be an acceptable sacrifice to keep the baby happy, but Jennie aslo looks over at their mom when she cries. Her lips tug into a frown and she looks back toward where their dad went. But when he doesn’t come right back in, she takes her finger back from her brother and gets up on her toes to give him a sloppy kiss on the cheek. Then she disappears out of the room, too.

But unlike the others, she’s back in a moment, clutching her most prized possession. Her stuffed bear. He’s showing signs of wear, and patches where Lydia has had to stitch him up, but he’s still her favorite. And she comes over to Lydia and taps her on the leg.

“Mama?” she asks in a quiet voice before she passes over the bear. “He’s good at hugs.”

What Lydia sees when she looks through the old screen door is Edgar sitting on the stoop with his face in his hands. His shoulders are hunched over and he’s breathing deeply into them. More than sight, Lydia can feel the conflict inside of him.

Slowly, it turns to resolve and once there is no confusion left, he finally stands up, turns to the house and opens the door. Lydia and Jennie are there, with the bear, and as an answer to their silent fight and her tears, Edgar scoops the little girl into one arm and winds the other around his wife.

“You know there’s nothin’ that I wouldn’t do fer you,” he says, his voice sounding a little more strained than he feels. There’s no weight on his shoulders when he speaks his mind. “I’ll tell ‘em that we thank ‘em but no and I’ll find some’ere else to work.”

Samuel giggles at the kiss. “Ennie!” he cheers for her before blowing raspberries in her direction, clearly pleased. “Ennie! Ennie!” And even as she retreats he continues to call her while generally blowing raspberries. Clearly he’s pleased with his big sister.

Lydia’s attention turns downward at the tap on her leg. Her eyes dance with gratitude as she accepts the bear. “Thanks baby,” her smile is slow, almost stiff, but present. And then, softly, she murmurs, “I love you. Never lose that spirit, kiddo.”

Her shoulders relax, however, as Edgar slips back into the house. Relief reflects in her still-glassy eyes while she leans into him and that touch. “Thank you,” she murmurs sofly.

Jennie gives her mom a similar kiss as she gave to her brother, because kisses cheer her up, so they must cheer everyone up. “Love you,” she says back. Her name from the baby has her looking over there and she make a silly face in his direction just before she’s scooped up.

She laughs and her arms go around Edgar’s neck to hang on now that he’s back. Still only sort of understanding what’s happening around her, she smiles because everything seems to be working out better just now than it was a few moments ago.

“Daddy could grow puppies!” This is her plan. She’s got puppies on the brain now. Thanks, Wolfhound. But tomorrow, she’ll probably be on something else. Maybe fish. Or a chinchilla.

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