It started with Jill and Michael. Once they finally found a place where they could rest for a moment the events of Asha's day hit her like a sack full of bricks. She was the only one left, the only one who survived the massacre out in the desert. Everyone else either already fell or stayed back so she could run. She wouldn't be seeing them again.
The tightness always started at the base of her throat then spread outward. First down to the stomach, out to the arms, back up to the chest and finally to her furrowed brows. Asha's hand would always automatically come up to pinch the base of her throat will her teeth nawed on the inside of her lip. Her brother often scolded her for the habit and eventually resorted to holding her hands in an attempt to calm her down. It worked for the most part.
She felt someone tentatively place an arm around her. It was Michael.
"I get the feeling a hug might be needed but uh...you know, consent and all."
"A hug sounds great about now," Asha mumbled, subconsciously leaning further into the arm curled around her. She felt Michael pull her a little closer, but still with enough space to break the hug if she needed. Asha heard Jill shuffle beside her.
"Mind if I join in on that hugging action? Michael here's great at hugs." Asha held her free arm out to Jill in a silent invitation. The three stayed huddled together for a while, enjoying each other's warmth until they had to move again.
There was something about Lloyd that tugged at all of their hearts. He was sweet and cheerful and full of so much energy. But there was also a heaviness around him that Asha, especially, took notice of. He didn't seem like the type to readily accept physical affection, not like Michael and Jill, so Asha chose to keep a small but friendly distance between her and Lloyd. Close enough to let him know he wasn't alone but far enough so he wouldn't feel smothered.
It was clear that Lloyd's flowering had shaken him up badly. Michael did his best to distract him with witty quips and jokes, Jill would chime in every now and then as well in an attempt to take Lloyd's mind off his flowering, and Asha remained a grounding presence beside him.
Lloyd was, for a lack of a better word, the baby of the playhouse. His optimism and enthusiasm did wonders at raising the group's spirits. Although his tendency to uh...to steel up was slightly concerning…
None of them made it to the playhouse unscathed. There was a chip in all of them, but Lloyd especially seemed to be affected by everything that happened. None of them were the same as when they first flowered.
What never changed though, was the bond Asha shared with the others. They were hers to protect and if she had to stain her spear in crimson, so be it.
David literally slammed face first into their lives. The poor repressed bundle of a man stumbled in all fidgety, slightly flighty, and if asked to talk about himself become a stuttering mess. He barely mamaged to spit out his name.
Michael was the first to take him into the fold. He pulled him into one of his signature hugs and reassured the man that he was alright.
"You're not dead and this isn't the afterlife, but know that you are safe here, David. We're like you, transcendents."
"Is-is that what- all of this- am I?"
Asha stepped forward with a friendly smile. "I can explain it to you if you'd like?"
"Yeah," Jill said, tossing an arm over Asha's shoulder, "Asha here is pretty well versed on this stuff. You're not alone, David."
It didn't take long for the group to fully accept David as one of them. Asha and Jill each welcomed David with a hug of their own while Lloyd went for an awkward handshake. Jill and Asha exchanged looks.
It was clear there was something between the two men and Jill and Asha wanted nothing more than to see it progress. It seemed like they'd be good for each other, and who knows, maybe they'd be good influences on each other.
Asha's heart warmed at another addition to their family.
More came into their fold, Kate, and later Isabela followed by...Sarah.
Asha didn't like to dwell on the latter much. The way she snuck in and…
Kate, funnily enough, reminded Asha of a younger Lloyd and David. Kate had Lloyd's skill for calculating risks and David's flare for showmanship. The kid preferred a more non-interventionist approach which was understandable considering her flowering. Asha honestly couldn't blame the girl for decking both Lloyd and David across the face. Flowering was not an easy process, and going into it with no warning whatsoever? It was hard.
Over time though, Kate also became an integral part of their small patchwork family. She came to view the other posties as people dear to her and was especially close to David much to Asha's surprise.
When asked if she had a certain interest in David, Kate explained she didn't feel sexual attraction and saw David more like a sibling. The bond they shared was something similar to Michael and David's relationship, like siblings. (Although, Michael and David have been at odds lately…)
After going through literal hell and back Asha was surprised with yet more another member of their patchwork family. She couldn't believe it. David Adams-er-right, he preferred Raven now, had a great-granddaughter and Asha immediately felt that familiar warmth she held for all her family blossom and spread throughout her body.
Michael and Jill pounced on Han and crushed her against their chests sobbing thank yous while Han awkwardly patted them on the back. For a second Asha was transported back to her first encounter with Jill and Michael.
They did the same thing to Asha when she found them. Blubbering incoherent words while enveloping Asha in a nearly bone-crushing hug. In fact, Asha would bet she made the same face Han was currently making at the moment when she was in the girls position.
"Alright, alright, please stop crushing my granddaughter," Raven said, attempting to come to Han's rescue. Jill and Michael eventually pulled back.
"I can't believe you're a grandpa," Michael sniffed. Beside him Jill let out a watery laugh. "You're old, David." She laughed again.
"Jill, I'm the oldest out of all the playhouse."
"But clearly not the most mature!" Kate commented from somewhere. Raven let out an indignant "hey!" but made no move to deny her claim. Ridiculous, all of them.
She went up to Han and took her hands in hers.
"Thank you, Han."
Asha's gaze went from Han, to the others, then back to Han. "Y-you brought us t-together again. Most, most of us, we gave up hope but here we are." Asha reached up and wrapped Han up in a gentle hug.
"Thank you f-for my family. And welcome."
Han returned the hug. She was finally home.