The Other Day


emily_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title The Other Day
Synopsis Trusting takes baby steps, and a willingness to start.
Date March 8, 2019


Emily and Julie's apartment.

Even though the bag of questions that Squeaks is known for wasn’t opened following her spying on Eileen and Emily, it was obvious that she was curious about it. Very curious, and it was only partly sated by the parcel she was given. Even when she and Emily parted ways later that day, it was certain that eventually, one day, those questions would break free.

Today is that day.

Only it didn’t start off being that day. It started with Squeaks showing up in the later part of the afternoon, school books in tow. That’s not entirely a regular thing, but it happens. Sometimes it’s simply because Squeaks is headed home from the library and decided to visit and others it’s to actually seek help on something. Today it was because she didn’t feel like being at home or the library and wasn’t sure where else to go.

She’s been sitting criss-cross on the floor, quietly working on history for a while now, with no sign of impending questions. Her pencil scratches lightly against the lined paper in her notebook as she writes words across the page. Every once in a while the activity pauses so she can turn through some pages in a textbook that rests open near her hip and make eyeballs at the page that she’s stopped on.

Then it happens.

“Is Magnes dangerous?” The question, for as sudden as it is, sounds entirely conversational. Squeaks doesn’t even look up as she asks it, she continues to write in her notebook. It could be a fair question to ask too, since she’s met Magnes before. They even kind of talked about it one time.

In the midst of typing up her essay, Emily's fingers pause, train of thought derailed from the sudden question. She blinks once, twice, and finally looks to Squeaks. To the best of her knowledge, she hadn't been thinking about Magnes Varlane at all today, certainly not to the point she might've muttered something about him under her breath, though a text she'd recently received regarding him had caused her plenty of distress.

… So why was Squeaks bringing him up all of a sudden?

"What was that, Squeaks?" she asks lightly, like she just hadn't heard properly.

“Is Magnes dangerous?”

Squeaks’ tone remains the same, openly curious. And it’s asked in the same way as before, and so simply. She might have been asking what Emily’s favorite dinosaur was. That question would probably be less of a surprise and it’s one she’d maybe ask another time. Her eyes stay on her paper as she repeats herself, patiently forming words into sentences.

Emily blinks again, slowly, and once.

"Yes," she informs her bluntly, because there's really no other answer. Her fingers remain in their hovering state rather than resuming her work. The older girl figures there must be some kind of followup pending.

The anticipated follow up is held back while Squeaks turns to confer with her textbook again. “How come?” is asked after a minute, once she’s found the information she’s looking for. Her tone remains inconsequential, but after checking her work against what’s in the book, she sets it aside and turns to look up at Emily.

And there it is. Emily just lets her hands settle down on the keys, mindful to not lower them so hard any random letters pop up on her screen. Again, her reply comes so quickly and directly it's questionable that she thought on her phrasing at all. "He's emotionally unstable, and powerful with his ability. From what I gather, both of those things were still true before he went jumping through realities and ended up back in ours again."

There's only the slightest of pauses as she waits to see if Squeaks' expression changes. "He's been through a lot and he's less stable now than he was before. He's liable to get himself and others hurt, most likely on accident, just because he wants something." Emily's jaw works before she summarizes it all as, "So, yes, he's dangerous."

Her expression remains plainly curious, and for just a minute following the answer, Squeaks sits quietly to let the words tumble over in her head. Her first impression of him was that he’s probably not any more dangerous than unknown grown-ups are. In spite of what the siblings had told her about him, she was still cautious. Maybe a little less cautious than she might have been if she hadn’t heard anything before.

“Okay,” the younger girl replies simply. She doesn’t return to her work, but continues to look up at Emily. She’s thinking, there’s a subtle look of deeper consideration within that open curiosity. She’d heard the whole conversation, and as far as she knew no one saw her hiding. Maybe Eileen did, but nothing was said about it while the two women were talking. But there’s other things to know that might be more important than just being seen. Like…

“How come you and Eileen are going to talk to him?”

Emily's expression falters, voice lowering in tone and flattening. "Squeaks," she exclaims as much as a warning as in disappointment. "What the fuck." She doesn't know how exactly the younger girl had spied on them, but the how is ultimately irrelevant.

There’s a shift in Squeaks’ on expression from the start. She doesn’t flinch like she might have before, but that open wondering becomes guarded. She turns away and goes back to her work, without waiting for an answer or even explaining how she knew. The history book is traded for her math book, and a fresh sheet of paper is found in her notebook.

Squeaks might be trying to avoid the conversation she'd started, but Emily won't let it go now. She slides her laptop off her thigh, not closing it, but setting it aside in light of the conversation. Her feet leave the coffee table and rest on the floor. "You were eavesdropping?"

As Emily moves, Squeaks goes very still, like a mouse that knows it’s in the owl’s shadow. She doesn’t turn to look, but lets her eyes slide far to the side so she can watch the older girl. “Yes.” There isn’t any solid hesitation in the answer, only the slight pause change in her posture. It could be overlooked. “I said I would hide, that no one would see me.” Except there’s the slight chance that Eileen did see her, but that goes unmentioned. Given the givens, she didn’t lie about her part of the agreement.

"God…" Emily looks to the side, the rest of the swear whispered under her breath. Eyes close hard, brow furrowing as she thinks back the rest of the conversation she'd had with Eileen, anything else she might have said that was particularly damning. Her hand presses to the side of her face, attempting to keep her calm through the breach of trust. "That didn't mean it was okay to spy on me, Squeaks." she says, frustration caged but definitely present.

It also didn’t mean it wasn’t okay, and it didn’t occur to Squeaks to ask. Hiding — spying — is how you sometimes learn things, and she did it out of curiosity not with bad intentions. Her eyes drift away and stop on some middling point between her work and Emily.

“I’m sorry.” The apology, which is said quietly and again with only the smallest pause, is meant for the misunderstanding as much as for wondering enough to actually listen in.

Emily's hand falls from her face, eyes opening to stare at the ceiling briefly. I'm sorry, those magic words that were supposed to make everything better.

They did not.

"We were going to try and talk him down from doing anything stupid," Emily explains anyway, because there's no point in not saying as much. "Something that could get others hurt." She sighs in frustration, sitting upright. Without looking back at Squeaks, she pulls her laptop back herself and settles it on her lap. "He has a short fuse, though, so who knows if that would have even worked."

“Short fuse means he gets mad really fast,” Squeaks nearly whispers, almost seeking confirmation without actually asking. He didn’t seem like a necessarily angry person, just a little off balanced. But she can name one person she’d known who could pretend to be nice then suddenly turn very angry.

Her eyes turn toward Emily again so she can watch the older girl for a minute. “I’m sorry,” she offers again, in that same voice. Not that it seemed to matter the first time.

Her head turns away and she regards her schoolwork. Squeaks breathes out a small sigh and starts packing her things away. “Just be careful though.” Speaking from experience, even though she usually shies away from her memories from before running away.

"Yeah, it does," Emily practically breathes out in response to Squeaks' quietly spoken thought, tapping away at the machine in her lap. When the younger girl makes like she might be packing up to leave instead of swapping subjects, the older glances over the top of her screen at her before looking back down again.

"You don't have to go run and hide just because you did something wrong," she says, her voice devoid of tension even though she still holds plenty in her shoulders. Emily even pauses in her typing. She adds, "And I will be careful. It's why Eileen's going to…" she starts, before the rest of the thought is converted to a sigh patiently exhaled from her nose.

That might've changed now, since she'd shot him, come to think of it.

Emily just shakes her head, reasserting her gaze on Squeaks. "You don't have to run, Squeaks." she repeats.

It takes a full minute for Squeaks to turn and look at Emily again, a full minute spent with a hand still on the book she was quietly pushing into her backpack and her eyes staring into the darker depths of the bag. Running is a deep rooted defensive tactic. Better to be scarce than…

Her thoughts pull away from that avenue, and she looks at Emily. She’s unsure what she did that was wrong, but offers no argument. Instead she watches the older girl, trying to decide if she can stay or if she should leave.

“I won’t tell anyone.” Squeaks’ words still aren’t very loud, and it isn’t meant as a statement that she’s staying. She still has her hands on her bag, and she still looks uncertain.

"Good," Emily affirms with a false brightness. Her voice drops down to a normal register as she points out, "You still don't have to go anywhere if you don't want to."

She looks off to the side for a moment before she reaches to fold her screen in, voice patient and gradually relaxing again. "Yes, I'm mad, but I should have known better, honestly." Looking back, she asks with a hint of interest, "Just what did you do, anyway? Did you do your listening thing, or were you actually…" Her brow furrows as she figures the latter might make more sense. Squeaks had superhearing, but it wasn't that kind, she thought. "Where were you even hiding?"

“I was on the roof.” The answer is still a little guarded, but Squeaks moves her hands away from her backpack. “Echolocation only shows me what’s there. But it was really quiet and right above.” And it might make sense that a former street urchin would know how to listen in on conversations without being caught.

"On the…" Emily starts to echo back. She manages to not sigh, her brow furrowing in a mix of amusement and frustration. "How the hell did you even get up there?" she asks pointedly, but with a stronger undercurrent of curiosity than before.

She's mad, but she's also impressed.

There’s a slight hesitation, as Squeaks watches Emily’s response to the answer. “I climbed.” Simply said, that’s how you get up onto the roof. “There’s ladders that go up to some roofs. And I stayed real low and quiet so you wouldn’t see me. So Eileen wouldn’t be mad or think I was there to tell.”

Emily blinks slowly as she silently begs herself for patience. "She … probably saw." she supplies gently. "She does… things with birds and stuff." is not an elegant explanation remotely, but hopefully there's enough context to work with.

Her head tilts slightly as she segues to, "So what was in the package she gave you?"

That would explain why Eileen looked in her direction. Squeaks, for her part, looks more intrigued than worried and she tries to remember what she’s been told about Eileen and birds before.

Until the package is brought up. She turns her head to look at her bag, and after a few seconds of deliberation, she reaches into it and takes out the journal. She turns and offers it to Emily to look at. “She wrote in it. She has very nice handwriting.”

Brow lifting, Emily accepts the journal, letting it lie across the palm of one hand while the other runs across the surface of the cover. She actually smiles as she opens it, looking at the note. "That is very nice," she murmurs, likely more at the content than at the style. The cover falls shut again quietly, and Emily looks down at the journal with a touch of distance in her eyes.

It's brief, and she tries to escape the moment by offering the journal back. "I still don't know what to make of Eileen sometimes," she admits, "but I respect her. Secrets and all."

“Yes.” Squeaks sits back slightly, and folds her legs so they’re criss-crossed. Whatever she’d read in the journal that was owned by Eileen, and whatever she’d been told by others and seen for herself, she’s developed something of a respect for the woman.

“I haven’t started writing in it yet,” she admits after a few seconds, looking up from the journal to look at Emily. “I don’t know what to write about. And I don’t want to mess it up.”

"Write about anything," is Emily's earnest suggestion. "Anything that happens that makes you think about it again. Maybe even the stuff you have to think twice about. Things you want to remember, and things you write down so you don't have to. Because it'll be elsewhere, you won't have to carry it with you. It can be good or bad; scary, or even amazing. Write about what you felt when you were up on the roof.

"Write about what you felt when you almost ran out just now." As she makes that suggestion, Emily breaks her gaze from Squeaks, looking back to her screen. Not to actually work, but so the younger girl doesn't feel weighted down by her stare. "Which… You still can, if you want to."

Leave, that is.

In a softer voice no less forward than she has been, Emily adds, "I just want you to know you don't have to." Her eyes dart up from the screen to emphasise that, before she looks back down again.

Write about how she feels. Squeaks looks at the journal again, thinking hard about that suggestion. Her mouth opens and a breath is held, like she’s poised on the verge of answering out loud instead. But she isn’t big on sharing those reasons, and Emily usually keeps her feelings and thoughts like that to herself anyway.

The breath is let out slowly, without any words carried on it. She scoots closer to the couch and then pulls herself up onto it to sit beside the older girl. Her head tilts to look at Emily, then swivels down again to watch the laptop screen.

Emily is still as Squeaks pulls up next to her, watching her settle in out of the corner of her eye. For a moment, her hand hovers over the touchpad, the assignment she was typing up still in focus. Looking back, she tabs the window away and draws up her social media wanderings instead, specifically pulling open pages with her favorite things — cute, small animals and funny memes. It's curated so the two overlap sometimes in delightful, unexpected displays.

Trust is slow to build over time, but it does. Opening up often happens in small ways.
It's a shared quality between them.

For Squeaks, it's in how she opts to stay. For Emily, it's in how she leans against the younger girl and shares her screen with her.

It could almost be mistaken for a day just like any other, with how small those changes are.

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