TUESDAY, JUNE 7TH, 2270
A1, OLD MIAMI - ATLANTIS
Thell leads Frogger, Sutton, and the girls along the hallway of a lower floor. It’s simple, but well kept, with warm lighting. There are several splices, chatting, nodding at Thell as she passes, and giving the others curious looks.
“There’s a bathroom down the hall, and a kitchen on the second floor.” She stops in front of a door, resting her hands lightly on the curve of her cane. “Feel free to anything not locked up or bolted down.”
A door opening down the hall catches Frogger’s attention. His gaze lands on a young woman eating a jello cup, a dash of freckles across her nose. She looks different, in dark comfort clothes with her strawberry blonde hair pulled up in a loose ponytail, compared to the done-up painted woman whispering to Nimo in his quarter’s of The Nautilus, but the panicked look of recognition she dons at the sight of Frogger is apparent.
She’s deciding whether or not to run when Frogger puts a single finger to his mask. The woman continues to stare at him, at the gesture of silence, and nods. She steps back into her room and shuts the door.
“Again, if you or the girls need anything, just let me know.” Thell continues.
Thell nods at them, then at Frogger, before walking back the way they came.
“...So we’re…” Sutton starts, watching her go. “We’re okay here?”
“Yes.” Frogger opens the bedroom door, gesturing for them to enter. They all enter, Sutton rubbing their arm.
“Okay...what about after the procedures?”
“They won’t kick you out, but you should get out of the city,” he says, shutting the door behind him.
Sutton blinks. “They’d let us stay?”
“They have a lot of rooms.”
“Ah, sweet!” Fox runs to one of two bunk beds in the room, scaling the ladder with eagerness, while Wolf walks to the bottom bunk and flops down. Fox grins down at Sutton. “I’ve never had a bed before.”
Sutton pulls off their plain mask, hesitating before giving Fox a sad little smile that doesn’t reach their eyes. It clings to their face, trying to adopt a hint of humor as they turn to Frogger. “Is this the part where I tell you my life story?”
“No, just the last month of it.”
Sutton nods, taking a deep breath. “...After I tell you, you’re going to leave, right?”
“...If you tell me everything, yes.”
“What if I don’t?”
Frogger tilts his head at them, crossing his arms.
“Not that I’d do that, I-I-” Sutton shakes their head. “What if I, like, forgot or something?”
“Thell or Jay can call me.”
“Oh. Kay, well...good…”
There’s an awkward silence as Frogger taps a finger on his arm, waiting.
“Okay, look, I’ll tell you everything, I promise, but before that could I, um...I just--how much would it be to hire you?”
“For...us. Not dying.”
“I’m not a bodyguard.”
“No, I know-well, I mean, I guess I don’t know know, but...nevermind. I just, well, I’m a criminal now!” Sutton pushes their hair back with both hands. “I guess? I don’t know how to be a criminal, I can barely lie, let alone get me and two children out of a city under quarantine. I don’t know who or where is safe, I am in way over my head, so...help?”
“...Reed can get you out of Atlas.”
“See! I wouldn’t have known that!”
Frogger sighs. “I know Reed seems...like Reed, but Thell will make sure you’re taken care of.”
Sutton rubs their arm, glancing around the room. “...Could you just, I don’t know, keep an eye out? Tell me what I need to know to make sure I don’t get us killed?”
Frogger regards Sutton for a long, silent moment. “...Why are you asking me?”
“I-I don’t know, you know things? You’re-you’re nice?”
Frogger lets out one short, sharp laugh, but quickly recomposes himself. He drums his fingers on his arm, thinking, then drops them to his sides with a sigh. “I’ll do what I can while you’re in Atlas, point you in the right direction, but once you’re out of the city, you’re on your own.”
“That’s…” Sutton brightens. “Thank you. Thank you, I-”
Sutton steps forward. Frogger jerks back, and they stop, coming up short.
“Oh, s-sorry.” Sutton holds out a hand. “Thanks.”
Frogger looks at the offered hand, sighs, and looks away. “You can pay me before you leave.”
Sutton shuffles on their feet, toeing the floor which couldn’t possibly be wood, that would be crazy, no one uses wood on floors anymore, that’s-
“ This is the part where you tell me your life story,” he says, breaking the silence.
“ Right.” Sutton composes themself. “Right...uh, well, I got fired.”