What We're Fighting For


gillian_icon.gif rickham_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

bray_icon.gif justin_icon.gif

Scene Title What We're Fighting For
Synopsis When Allen Rickham surprises Gillian with a conversation, she's given something unexpected to think about…
Date April 1, 2010

The Lighthouse

There are always things to do around the Lighthouse. Boo-boos to get kissed and bandaids applied, kids to read to and play games with, and the inevitable trouble makers up to no good. There's so many additional hands around the house these days, from puppet masters to hydrokinetics who can barely read, that there's no shortage of someone to keep the kids entertained. At least Brian doesn't have to do most of the work by himself, anymore.

Even then, with activity subdued slightly in the wake of the death of one of their house-sisters, there's still motion. There are two kids outside, each bundled tightly and carrying smaller shovels, digging more of the drifted snow out of the cleared area. One of the boys seems rather old, dark hair with dark eyes, and a lanky body that's moving into his teens. If not the oldest of the Lighthouse kids, he can barely beyond a kid anymore, already hitting many growth spurts.

"I can handle this, the two of you don't have to help," the oldest member out in the gravelly parking area, where a few cars are resting. One has been cleared off more recently than the others, as if it had been taken out earlier today. Gillian, one of the people helping run the Lighthouse, had stepped outside to do some shovelling, since she's the one who tends to take the car out. It's her that needs it more than most.

"We can still help. Brian makes us do chores," the older and lankier boy says. Bray's almost fifteen. Soon he may not even have to stay with the others.

The smaller one looks more inclined to put down his shovel, but he stays his ground. Dark skin, dark hair, dark eyes— Justin stands out even more among the snow cover than the taller one. If only because he's a stark difference.

"Unless you just wanted to sneak off for a smoke," Bray accuses, to which Justin immediately starts digging again. Nothing to hear here.

"They need to switch the y in your name with a t," Gillian mutters in her bundled up state, flicking some snow in his direction. A childish reaction, but even at twenty-three, the kids make her feel younger.

With Juniper, Brian and Colette gone on a trip out to the mainland to pick up supplies and just get away from the Lighthouse for a little while, it has left Gillian largely in charge of the orphanage and the myriad of children residing within. Maybe it's that sense of responsibility, or maybe it's been the paranoia about those dogs returning that has Gillian just a bit on edge. Probably for the best, because it gives her the forewarning of an approach up the dirt road leading towards the Lighthouse by someone on foot in this terrible weather.

Slate gray skies do little to afford the tall stranger any sense of color. From the cold gray trenchcoat buttoned all the way up to the top with the collar upturned, to the black fedora on his head, he looks wholly monochromatic — the coal gray cast of his skin only furthers this appearance.

Gillian knows Allen Rickham from a distance, his almost literally chiseled appearance in sunken cheeks, deeply carved wrinkles and glossy black hematite eyes are features she hasn't seen in over six months. But his tall, lanky and clearly weatherproof figure is something that will always be etched as deeply into the back of her mind as Allen's wrinkles are into his iron flesh.

Once in plain view of Gillian and the children, she can see he's letting his flesh shift back to a more temperature-vulnerable form, a plodding man of iron might well scare children, and that's the last impression he wants to give here.

With Juniper off shopping this time, it leaves Bray the oldest kid in the house, which could be why he's taking some responsibilities— or perhaps why he's avoiding the younger kids. It's difficult to tell! The shovelling stops at the sound, though the younger of the kids doesn't seem to hear it. On the other hand, the lanky one's eyes narrow, and if someone were close enough, they'd see a shift in his pupils, like they grow, and glaze over. "Wow," he suddenly voices. "That guy was made of metal. You did that when you pulled me and Mala out of the Lighthouse that one night. Turned to metal on the way down."

Yes, yes she did— it hadn't been her so much as a clone, but it was one of the only ways she could get all the kids out that night. But Gillian knows who it is from the heavy steps, the transformation, and it seems interesting that she'd just mentioned the man earlier this morning, during her outting. "Okay, Bray, take Justin inside and make sure no one's gone and snuck off— that means Lance especially. If anything's up, you're in charge of making calls. You know all the numbers."

They have many numbers, but Eileen's the one most likely to be called, cause she can bring Raith, who— most people would not want on their bad side.

Even nice metal men.

Even if they were told to go, and even as Gillian sets down her shovel, the kids don't move much. Nothing makes kids more curious than a new comer who turns into a statue. "Guess it helps not to have to feel the cold at all half the time, huh?" she asks, as she gets closer to Rickham, well aware the kids aren't moving, but not about to give the order again. Not yet.

"Busy out here…" Rickham offers as a somewhat awkward form of greeting, reaching up to tip the front brim of his fedora down as he does. Hazel eyes wander over the children, and what might be a smile judging by the new creases forming beside his eyes is hidden by the upturned collar of his buttoned coat. "I'ms orry for coming out here to bother you, but…" Allen's eyes wander back over to Gillian, one brow raised. "Do you think we might be able to go inside out of the cold and talk?"

The tall man's lanky frame stiffens as a freezing wind blows across the snow drifts, and Allen's eyes squint against the cold, tearing up almost immediately from the frigid temperatures. "At least out of the cold…" he adds with a gruff laugh.

"Always," Gillian says, before glancing back at the two boys, who finally start to move. If only cause the big cool guy made mention of wanting to get out of the freezing cold. They make their way to the door, shovels in hand, and set them down against the side of the building before going inside.

"Come on. Just don't turn into metal in the house. You'll break the floor and then you'll have to pay for it. And I don't think you're 'I'm not President' budget can handle the cost." It's a joke, her warm breath making mist in the cold air, before she grabs the shovel off the ground and makes her way up to the house.

"You may end up getting a kid or two hanging on you, but if you want to talk in private I can shoo them upstairs. No promises they won't eavesdrop, though."

There's a look offered to Gillian at the 'not President' commet, momentarially sharp, but quick to fade from anger in that he knows she didn't mean it as a barb. "This… isn't particularly a conversation for them." Allen states quietly as he follows Gillian up the concrete steps to the front door, peering over the upturned collar of his jacket to the children as she scurry in through the door. When he follows behind Gillian inside, Allen immediately reaches up to remove his fedora, ducking his head down into a nod to one of the other younger children who hadn't been outside.

"It's about… " There's really no easy way to approach the subject subtly, and it's that revelation that has Allen shaking his head and holding his fedora behind his back. "Somewhere private would be best, if you could."

There's few places where they can talk privately, and the basement, while the one place the kids universally know is off limits, isn't where Gillian goes once she leads him inside. She stops for a moment to say some quick instructions, "Everyone stay inside. Bray, you're in charge. If anyone sneaks outside and I catch them, you're the one getting grounded."


"Such is the pain of being in charge. It's not a good job." Ask the guy who should be President. Gillian motions to the stairs, and leads the way up, toeing off her snow boots before she makes it too far, and leading all the way to one of the few private rooms in the whole place. Her bedroom. It's sparcely decorated, but has a bookshelf, and a bunch of candles, and a CD player that she walks over to and turns on. Dance beat-music starts playing, the techno kind, and she turns it up a little and moves it closer to the door. "Good thing none of the kids have super hearing. This should give us about as much privacy as we're going to get. So what's going on? It's been forever since I saw you and you stop by out of the blue— or white."

Grimacing slightly as he follows Gillian into her room, Allen crinkles the brim of his fedora between his hands, hazel eyes wandering around the furnishings in silence. "I won't tell Knox you invited me up into your room, he might get jealous." There's a good-natured smirk from Rickham at that, a faint smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes lingering on his lips after the fact. Truth be told he's awkward in here, perhaps awkward with the whole conversation, but whatever it is that's brought him here, it's more pressing than ihs own social anxieties.

"I don't know how much you heard about what I've been doing lately. I… I've gotten into connection with a pro-evolved group called MESSIAH. It's— an acronym, or so the organizer tells me. Motivating Evolved… uhh…" Allen reaches up and scrubs one hand at the back of his neck. "I— I kind've forget the rest." Brows creased, he stares down at the floor before glancing in Gillian's direction, but not quite making eye contact. "It doesn't really matter, anyway. The point is, the guy in charge is a really interesting man. He's got this outline of a plan to— well…"

Breathing in deeply, Allen finally looks up and makes eye contact with Gillian. "You know that old saying, you can't change everyone's mind?" There's a crease of his brows again, those green-brown eyes of his searching Gillian's silently before he adds a thought-provoking addendum. "What if you could?"

"If he'd be jealous then he should have called!" Gillian says over the sound of the music, walking over to her bed and busying herself with tossing the cover over the sheets so it doesn't look entirely unmade. Her room is second to the basement in the 'kids aren't allowed' so she breaks her own rule on making the bed more often then not. As she tosses the cover up, a orange tail appears, flicking a bit in annoyance. Apparently they do have an easedropper. Don't worry, though, Chandra won't tell.

"MESSIAH," she repeats quietly to herself, with her eyes on the bed, and hand reaching to ruffle the cat, she might not seem so familiar with the name. Still surprised, to hear it twice in the same day. She'd figured it was supposed to be a secret. Unless…

Leaving the cat to tail flick at the noise, she looks back over at him, to make that eye contact. Her own eyes have the same kind of greenish tint to them, flecks really, only coming out in certain lights— right now that's almost invisible. The room isn't the best lit.

"Well, if someone could, then they'd either be a huge asset and help for the future, or really fucking dangerous. It depends on whose mind they're changing, and what they're changing it to."

"Imagine somebody who has the power to change the way people think. Not like… domination or enslavement, but a chance at seeing more than one side of a conversation. Someone who's ability is just to raise the white flag and go, can't we all just talk?" There's a look in Rickham's eyes, one that speaks of conviction to the words he's saying. "Imagine somebody with a power like that, someone who could just… make everyone stop and listen, someone who wants to stop this whole struggle he sees coming. Imagine what he could do with your help." And there it is, the sales pitch.

"MESSIAH is more than just protecting our own kind from the government, it's… it's putting together a group of like-minded people who won't back down from the threats the government makes to us, people who'll stand up and fight when pushed." There's a furrowing of Rickham's brows, lips pressed firmly together for a moment. "But there's a side of MESSIAH that knows you can't fight forever. Once we make a stand, once we have everyone's attention, with your help Gillian… we could make everyone see reason. We could… we could stop this whole stupid humans versus evolved conflict. We could get people talking."

There's a hesitant smile afforded behind the upturned collar of Rickham's jacket as he takes one step towards Gillian. "He wants to meet you, nothing more, nothing less. I told him I'd come here to talk to you, see if you felt like hearing what he has to say. All I'm asking is that you give him a chance to offer his side of things, and if it's not for you…" Allen lifts both of his hands slowly. "That's your choice."

There's a frown across her face as Gillian watches him, both with concern and a hint of suspicion. "The problem with making people see reason, of any kind, is it's hard to know if people are genuinely trying to do a good thing, or if they're just really good at making you think they are." The music may drown out their voices through the walls, even if a kid has an ear against the door, but it also makes her have to speak distinctly so she's sure that she's heard. She's chosing her words carefully.

"If there's a peaceful way to stop things, and ensure that more people survive— then that's probably a good thing, and it'd be something I'd want to help with, but I had a telepathic command recently. I think I was even augmenting it at the time. It told me to do something and I couldn't not do it. For days. It took me forever to get it to unravel." It was a knot in the back of her head, that kept her ability in check.

She has to wonder if that's the only reason she found a new facet of her ability— but it also made her wary.

"I have a lot going on here, with the kids and— everything that's happening. I have to stay here until it's through, cause this is my part of the fight, as small as it may be." It seems bigger to her, because they're children. The ones she can never have. "How do I know he won't just change the way I think like that when I talk to him? Then it— really wouldn't be my choice." Only the whether to go or not would be.

"He wouldn't," is all the affirmation Rickham can give. "He's not like that. Choice is more important than anything to him, and… and trust me, Gillian, I wouldn't bring you into a situation if I didn't think it was safe for you. You don't have to leave everything here with the kids, he's not asking you to commit more to the cause than you're willing to give. But sometimes, just taking that step is enough. Eventually you have to stop seeing enemies where there aren't any and just.. try to give people the benefit of the doubt."

"This attitude," he motions towards Gillian with one hand. "The one where you immediately think the worst of him? That's what everyone thinks about our kind. We just want to change that, try and help people reconsider the possibilities, even if it takes grabbing them by the shoulders and making them listen. The choice to believe, that's still theirs, but if we can make them hear our side of things… maybe these kids you're watching out for?" Allen motions to the door with a jerk of his thumb, "Maybe they'll actually have a future to look forward to, and one that isn't viewed from the other side of a chain-link fence."

"People use their ability whether they want to or not around me sometimes," Gillian says, though she can't help but look away toward the cat and distract herself at being compared to them. There's thinking the worst, and then theres seeing the worst so often. It's hard to know the difference after trusting people and finding out they were serial killers, or seeing her ability used to completely alter a future to fit the vision of a madman.

But he had to bring up the kids, and the future they could have, if things continue down the path. Chandra's tail flicks in annoyance, and while he allows the pettings for all of two seconds, he lets out a low growl and rolls and stretches out, before hopping down to move next to the door. He wants out.

Out, where the kids are.

"All right. I'll meet with him," she simply says, moving away from the bed to open the door, where Chandra runs past two kids who nearly fall down as the door opens.

"We didn't hear anything!" one of them exclaims, before getting up and scurrying off. The second says nothing, as he does the same.

The door is closed again, the music continues to thump in the background. "So when and where does he want to meet?"

Moving away from the door and circling around Gillian when she opens it, Allen offers a furrowed-brow look at the space where the children were. He snorts out a laugh, shaking his head slowly before turning to look at Gillian. "Not now. Not till the weather clears up…" his eyes divert to the floor once she closes the door again, and Allen's hands continue to awkwardly figet with the brim of his fedora. "If it clears up." Snorting out a sigh, his hazel eyes come up to meet Gillian again.

"I'll contact you when he's ready, it might not be till the end of the month or maybe a little later. No one's rushing any of this, the last thing we want to do is act before everything's all set." There's a nervous quality to Allen's smile, brows crease together as he glances towards Gillian's bedroom window and the gray skies outside.

"There's supposed to be some… sort of sweep going on here tonight, on this side of the island." When he looks back to Gillian, Rickham's brows are furrowed tensely. "Are you safe here, with the kids? I don't know what your situation is like, but if you want me to stick around I will. None of us have any intention of letting the government lay a hand on anyone down here tonight."

"Funny, I'm going to be helping a couple weather-gurus try and fix it soon," Gillian says, making hopeful sounds with her voice, even if she's waving her hands around a bit, as if she's not sure it will work. The weather pattern is much bigger than anything it sounded like the young weather witch could manage, even with augmentation. There's supposed to be more, one she's met, one she hasn't. But she's not sure if it will be enough. Maybe it will. "But if we're stuck snowed in for months, I think we'll have a lot more to worry about than me listening to your MESSIAH guy."

Like starvation, maulings, frostbyte.

"I got the warning and have been planning for it. We should be okay, here. All the kids have paper work and it's not like any of them can up and get dragged off without us bringing in all kinds of trouble. None of them are sick, either. We do have a few people here who… might be in danger, but I'll make sure they're out of sight." Literally, in this case. "Brian should be back tonight, and if they tried anything under his watch, especially with me around, they'd have a human army to deal with. Course with you it's our answer to iron man— but I'm sure there's people less equipt to take care of themselves that will need you more."

"We've got some people on it." Rickham attests in a quiet voice, nodding his head once as he looks back to the door. "I guess… if you're alright here, I should get back. I can't risk being out on the street when they start sweeping the buildings, not with my face." There's a rueful expression at that which has Rickham moving for the door to Gillian's room on his own, one hand resting on the doorknob as he turns to look back at her. "Just… think about what I said. I'll get in touch with you when he's ready to talk and when we're in a place to think about what you could do for us."

Turning to look over at the radio, Rickham's brows furrow and when his eyes settle back on Gillian again, she can see the corners of a smile threatening the creases at the sides of his eyes. "I can show myself out…" Allen notes with a nod of his head. "You keep an eye on your little rugrats," he adds with a grin, "they're the most important future we have, after all."

"Maybe someday you won't have to worry about running around in a fedora," Gillian offers, as she follows part of the way to the door, turning off the dance-club music as he steps out of the room, to show himself out. Her little rugrats. "I guess in the end that's exactly what we're fighting for. A future for these kids, as well as ourselves." But does she even have a future worth fighting for? Some parts of her aren't sure, but she knows the kids do.

A future better than what they've had to live through already in their young lives.

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