Untold Stories


gillian_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Untold Stories
Synopsis Some stories are probably meant to stay buried, but Squeaks tells Gillian the stories she found anyway.
Date October 18, 2018

Elmhurst Gillian's Brickfront

Candlelight has taken the place of the lamps that would normally glow this late in the evening. It’s still some time, a lot of minutes for sure but maybe only an hour, until power is restored again. Squeaks could probably find her way around the house just fine without the light, but others can’t. So when she finally emerged from her room and made her way downstairs, she made sure to light a couple.

Those sticks of flickering light are left on the kitchen island giving off a warm glow. It isn’t a lot of light, but it’s enough to see by except in the darkest corners.

The teenager occupies a chair nearby. If there’s light, she might as well be using it. As can probably be expected she’s got a book with her that’s open to a page probably part way into a chapter. But her attention isn’t on the story. Instead her cheek rests in her hand, with her elbow propped against the counter, and she stares out the window, thinking.

The three hour blackouts were little more than an annoyance. Gillian had a generator wired up on the roof accessible roof that she could carry gas up to and run if needed, but it hadn’t ran since the day long outages had ended last month. Those days she had ran it for a few hours at a time on the off days, to run the AC, to cook by, to allow for charging of various items. What would have been in the fridge had also needed it, though most had been kept in coolers in the cellar.

But now she didn’t feel much need to do more than carry around a handheld kerosene lamp as she moved down the stairs. With the sky going dark earlier, they would need them more, and there were flashlights laid about in various locations for emergencies as well. And lighters and boxes of matches. While the others who might live or stay in this brownstone could not navigate in the dark as easily, she always made sure they had a way to avoid the dark at all.

Stepping into the kitchen, she sets the lamp down. “Book not holding your attention?” she asks with a small smile. The elderly ginger cat had apparently followed her, but he knows better than to hop up on the countertops. He rubbed against her ankles before finding a place to flop over against the cabinets.

The increase in light pulls the girl from whatever has captured her attention away from her stories, so she’s already looking up when Gillian speaks. She kind of smiles, but it goes unsure early on and for a full couple of seconds and for a quick second she looks bothered enough by whatever had been holding her focus that she might cry. Looking away, she folds her lips inward and pins them with her teeth.

“I have too many thoughts,” she does finally explain. Her eyes find her book again, and fingers go to fidget with the corner of the cover. Soon after, she flips the cover closed and opened a couple of times, stalling because she isn’t sure how to explain better. Then, taking a breath, she closes the book for real so she can push it aside.

After the book is set away, Squeaks pushes herself from the counter and slides off the stool. Hugs have never really come easily, or very naturally, but she turns to Gillian as her feet touch the floor and hugs her. Tightly.

Too many thoughts. Gillian knows that all too well. “Yeah, having your brain working overtime doesn’t make reading very easy,” she grins, pulling out one of the other chairs so she can sit down next to her, resting slipper covered feet on the leg rails. “You end up reading the same paragraphs over and over without knowing what they were.” It’s a state she has been in a lot, often times it had been before the war, but even after. Sometimes she can’t stop thinking about what had happened then, and the only way she can help with it…

“I started writing down all my thoughts. In journals. Totally rambling stream of consciousness stuff, most of it not even about anything. But it helped.” She still has boxes full of them, even, though she lost a lot of the ones pre-war when they were forced to abandoned the island. She hasn’t gone back to see if they survived the elements tucked away under what used to be her bed there. “And some of them became actual books, eventually.”

Once an editor got their hands on them, at least. Though two she had published under a pen name, and only one under her own. The demand had been high for accounts of what had happened before the war, with the Institute, with Vanguard, so it had helped get her a comfortable lifestyle. Even without her job on the Council.

“But did you want to talk about it instead? That might help, too.”

Writing things down. She isn't sure she could just now. But Squeaks clings to the idea because maybe, when she does get her thoughts to hush, writing will help. Maybe seeing what she's thinking will help with understanding and make better questions for even more understanding. She climbs back onto her seat without any immediate response.

A finger drags along the edge of the counter. All her thoughts have been jumbly since she got home, so she tries to decide where to start. The very beginning might be the better place, but…

“I went to the other library today.” Squeaks’ head tilts a little so she can look up at Gillian. Admitting that much doesn't calm the topsy-turvy thought noise in her head, and she looks almost guilty when she says it. “I had a strange… like remembering but I wasn't awake. But I don't know if I remember it for reals. And your library didn't have the right books, so I used the computers at the other one.”

She stops there for a breath. But first she folds her lips over her teeth. “I'm sorry.” The words are a strained whisper and the girl looks down to blink back tears. “I didn't know the bad people had you.”

At first Gillian seems to think that she must have been apologizing for going to the other library of all things, which is silly because she technically chaired on both of the libraries and had as much a hand in one as the other, but then, she continues, with tears in her eyes and that tone to her voice.

I didn’t know the bad people had you.

“Oh,” she hesitates, before reaching across, to put her slightly larger hand on the other girl’s. “A lot happened to me ten years ago.” As many as that, even, ten to eight years, mostly. That span of two years had nearly been as full as things as the whole war it had seemed. “I was actually involved in a lot of things.” She’d had journals upon journals to fill, after all. The bad people. “Which bad people are you talking about?”

Cause there had been so many over the years…

“The ones that did the experiments.” What experiments is left out, but the teenager does angle a look up at Gillian. It's a quick look that drops to somewhere just to the side. “I found you talked at the trials. About what happened to you.” She tried to not know, she hoped to ask, maybe. Or she more probably meant to never really know.

She chews on the inside of her cheek, and for a few long seconds she sits silently.

“I looked for things about Parkman.” Squeaks lifts her gaze to Gillian again, afraid and tearful. “And… and Ford. They were talking in that weird, kind of dreaming thing… And I didn't know. I didn't know they were bad people. I didn't know who they were. I just… I was trying to figure out who…” She takes a breath and looks away again, while wrapping her arms around her middle.

“I'm sorry. I'm sorry about the bad people.”

Was it bad that Gillian still was not sure which bad people she was talking about? Between the Institute who had experimented on her and used her to the point she had nearly killed herself just to stop it, to what the Company had done to her and her brother as children, which she did not remember at all, thankfully.

It could have been either, she had testified about both at the trials in Albany, after all, even if almost all those who had directly harmed her had long been dead, or were missing. “You don’t need to apologize. What’s done is done,” she responds quietly, hand moving to rest on the girl’s shoulder as if she feels better comforting her than taking comfort for something that felt so long ago.

And it kept her from thinking on it enough that she started to shake, too.

“What’s that about Ford? That was… who had custody of you before, right?” Parkman. That’s definitely a name she remembered. But Ford— she doesn’t remember hearing about him in connection to. “What did you find out, Jac?”

“Yes.” Squeaks’ answer comes as she tilts her head to look up at Gillian, afraid she’s made some really giant mistakes. “I’m sorry. I just… I wanted to know what that was all about.” And she isn’t sure she wants to anymore, but there’s still answers to be found. She takes a deep breath and holds it, with her lips folded in over her teeth.

“I think he wasn’t really named Ford.” The girl’s forehead wrinkles as she talks. That information is still confusing, and troubling. “I found this article about human genome projects and… and there’s a Stefen Morrison who worked on it. But it was… it was Ford’s face in the picture with the Morrison name. And he did very bad experiments on people. I think like the same things Maury Parkman did.” Or close enough, from the articles that came back in her searches.

“He… the Ford-Morrison guy? He was testing drugs on people and it killed almost all of them.” Squeaks raises a hand to anxiously scrub her fingers hard against her forehead. “The FBI was looking for him and he was just right there the whole time until he died.”

The human genome project. That narrows things down quite a bit, also with the time frame she must have been talking about. The Company. Those responsible for her being SLC-Expressive at all. Brian and her both had been experimented on as children and it had led to them being what they were today. So much would have happened differently in her life had she not been Expressive, she knows that. Mostly because Gillian knows her ability caused so much pain. Though it had also helped stop many other things, too.

Who would she be if they hadn’t experimented on her? She has no idea. She just knows she wouldn’t be who she is today, would not be where she was today. Probably would not even be alive.

“Do you know what kinds of drugs he was testing? What they were intended to do?” She imagines many had died in the experiments to give her and her brother abilities. Things like that don’t come without sacrifices, after all. But she hadn’t found much evidence of others who had been experimented on. Her. Cat. Brian. A handful of other names that she didn’t recognize.

She wonders knows Cat would remember them, but she did not get that ability.

“Modified things,” Squeaks answers slowly, trying to remember that part of it. She remembers the really bad things, like the stuff about Gillian and Morrison being Ford. Somehow Maury Parkman was part of all of it too. She takes a breath and looks up at Gillian.

“It was genetically modified.” She sounds more like she's asking than answering. “From cells.” She pauses again, still working on remembering. “To… To make insulin. But the article didn't say why he was testing it. Just that people got really sick because of it.”

Genetic modifications. If he had been working with the same people her own family had… There was likely more to it than insulin. “It doesn’t sound like he was a particularly good man, even after this,” Gillian comments, just based on what little she knew about Squeaks’ life in the foster care program before the second explosion of Midtown. She won’t try to defend a man who had not treated, who should have been his daughter, better than he had. Or had not made who should have been her mother treat her better.

She has some strong feelings on how people who say they will take care of a child do it. And from what she saw whoever Squeaks had been with before had done a terrible job, even if she lowered her standards. At least she had not seem evidence that they physically harmed her, yet, but it was hard to tell. She had noticed how Squeaks seemed to find touch difficult. Aversion to touch was not far behind what little she had seen.

“Are you worried that he might have done something to you?”

“No.” The girl’s agreement is simple. In the few times it’s ever come up, there’s never been any sort of fondness or childish reverence for the Fords. Carolyn was always called Carolyn. And even when mentioning the doctor, she had always defaulted to dad but with the same distant association she’d give the next door neighbor. “He wasn’t a good man. He was really bad.”

Squeaks looks down at the counter and rubs a finger against the edge of it. “I heard something when I was waking up on the boat,” she explains. “The dream, but more like remembering. Parkman was talking to him about me. There was money talked about too.” She’s not sure what it means, but definitely afraid of what it could mean. “I… he maybe did? I don’t remember knowing that dream thing before.”

There’s a small nod, as Gillian keeps watching the young teen, but she also reaches out with her hand, to take the one drawing a finger along the edge into her own. “Whatever it was, it doesn’t matter. You’re still you.” Sometimes she had had to tell herself that. That what they had done hadn’t changed her. Even if in so many ways it had. She believed she would still be mostly the same person, even without it. But she didn’t know if those same thoughts were what were running through this girl’s mind, even then.

“Head trauma can bring out buried memories, especially if they were buried for a reason.” And if the Company of old had been involved, those memories could very well have been removed anyway. “If you want to dig deeper into those memories, though, see if there were more you can’t remember— we could talk to Aunt Kaylee. She might be able to bring them to the surface.” Just as she had with the memories of what had been on the tape. Just as she had with so many other things.

If the woman even has time, with everything she has on her plate between being a mom, being one of the Board of Directors of a corporation, and one of the go to telepaths of just about everyone who knew she wasn’t someone to abuse it. “I trust Kaylee.”

“It’s scary.” What would be an out loud observation another time is actually a quietly spoken complaint. Squeaks looks up at Gillian, frightened in a way she’s never been before. The research revealed a lot more than she was ready for. It’s a lot to process, and none of it’s easy to understand. She’s worried too, of all the unknown things that might be hiding. But she nods at those first words. “But I’m still me,” she echoes.

“Aunt Kaylee can mind meld.” That's her understanding of how it works. And she has seen it happen, when she first started tagging along after the older teenagers, and again with the possessed video.

Leaning over, the girl touches her head to Gillian’s arm. “I do and don’t want to know,” she admits after a pause. The want for answers conflicts sharply with the fear of what might be hiding. “I’m scared of knowing more. All of those things on the computer… And that memory dream thing. I can’t remember something like that before. But not knowing is even scarier.” Squeaks’ shoulders shift with a small shrug. “I… maybe… we can ask Aunt Kaylee.”

As the teen learns her head against her, Gillian closes her eyes, leaning back in return. She wants to reach over and wrap her arms around the girl, and very well might once she’s done squeezing on the hand that she holds. “We’ll ask.” If it makes her feel better in any way, if it at least clears up some of the fog, it would be nice to explore this path. Wanting questions answered had been something that Gillian herself had wanted so often. And often there had been no way to get the answers she had. No way to find those things out.

But perhaps this was something she could help Squeaks with. As long as it was what the girl herself wanted. “I’ll be with you the whole time, no matter what.” She wouldn’t let her face whatever this was alone, if she could help it. And she’s sure that her ability would make the telepaths work better, too. Maybe allow her to pull out things she could not alone. “You won’t have to be alone through this.”

At first, she only nods a little bit, showing she’s heard. But for a few minutes the girl doesn’t say anything. Instead she lets herself take some refuge in the silence and in Gillian’s presence. There’s ways to hopefully find answers, mind melding might work better than internet searches. It’s still scary, but maybe not so much now. She breathes out a quiet sigh and nods again, then tilts her head so she can look up.

“Okay. If she will… with her mind meld. And you.” Because she might trust Kaylee a lot, but this is something she knows she wants Mom there.

Her lips fold inward and she pins them together with her teeth, maybe to squish the scariness. “It’s going to be okay,” she follows up with, quietly. The words are close to what Gillian had said in the car the day they talked about guardianship. Squeaks uses them now as both confirming and seeking confirmation. It’s going to be okay, no matter what happens or what they find. Her forehead wrinkles a little with nervousness, and she watches her in that hopeful searching way.

“If she agrees, yeah,” Gillian responds with a nod, finally pulling her arms around the girl completely to hold her. Because she knows that while she did handle so many things without anyone else with her growing up, part of her had wanted her sister or her mom to go ‘I’ll go with you’. Even if she probably would have stamped her feet in teenage rebellion and tried to get them to leave. But the world had been a different world back then. Things had been buried so deeply that few had the worries this young teen had.

Her hand shifts, rubbing against the girl’s arm as if trying to brush the tension, worry and fear away with her hands. “It will.” One way or another, they will find a way through this together. She’d tried to tell Jolene the same thing, when she had finally woken up, when the neural toxin had taken her ability and her mobility all at once. It would not be the same, but what they had between them would not change, even if so much else had. “I’ll give her a call and ask to meet, so we can ask together.”

Well more likely it will be a text message.

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