A Reprieve For Both Parties


devon2_icon.gif emily4_icon.gif

Scene Title A Reprieve For Both Parties
Synopsis Emily seeks solace for a few moments on her return back from Rochester Hospital.
Date December 27, 2019

The Bunker

If the sound of Devon’s door suddenly opening doesn’t rouse him, maybe the sound of it being slammed behind someone does.

Emily’s back, it seems, the clock reads close to noon— and she wastes no time in closing the distance to the bed as quickly as she can. She came straight here rather than go figure out what next phase of clusterfuck the situation had progressed to down in Colette’s former quarters as soon as she got back from the hospital. She sits roughly and then collapses down next to him in whatever space she can find, feet off still hanging off the side of the bed since she still has her unsanitized boots on. She smells of the smells she’s been around— old, stagnant water, blood, and alcohol from the medical supplies.

Done.” she whispers, rolling herself over so she can try to burrow her head either in his chest or in his pillow, whatever makes itself most present. “Done with all this bullshit.”

At least for the moment. Until either something new and urgent happens, or until her mood shifts and she decides she’s ready to wade back into the whirlpool of events.

The lump on the bed in the dim room that's obviously Devon still appears to be sleeping. Even after the door has been slammed closed. He doesn't appear to stir until after Emily has flopped down beside him, and then he rolls so he can pull a hand from beneath his pillow and lay it on her stomach. His eyes open to her complaints, but he doesn't pry with any questions yet.

The silence of his quarters, the comforting scents of his home mixed with the stench of whatever Emily had the bad luck of finding are intended to be a solace. He doesn't feel a need to say anything immediately. And when she turns in to him, he lets his hand slide to gently rub her back.

It's a peacefulness that lasts uninterrupted for a few moments. Until he tilts his head for a look down at Emily. The unpleasant aroma that contrasts with the almost perfect afternoon has lingered long enough and needs to be addressed. Devon fights back the grin that threatens, but the tease is quite obvious in his tone. “You stink.”

The quiet, such as it was, was peaceful. Being able to be for a moment was precisely what she needed. It's not like Emily possibly runs the risk of dozing off, too, but she can appreciate the silence and breathe in it while it lasts.

But it never lasts.

One icy eye opens, murder in her gaze for a split second before it softens marginally. She settles for shoving his chest. "Fucker." she sourly declares. It lacks venom. "Put you down in the sewage, see how good you smell after." Though now that he's said something about it, she holds off on the huff of indignance she'd planned to follow up with. What if she smells it herself on the inhale? "Didn't know I'd be needing two pairs of shoes for this trip…"

She closes her eyes again, resting her head on the bed. "Or two sets of sanity." The complaint is half-hearted, a murmur compared to the rest. It trails off, her brow knitting together.

"I'm not sure I can face him again right now," she admits, the sound of her voice barely passing between them. "Not without making things worse."

He has grace enough to not laugh at Emily's reaction, but there's a spark in his gaze that illuminates his amusement. Devon further refrains from more teasing as she laments about the trip. He hasn't asked for information about it, about any of it since the night they'd started driving and that was just a verification of where they were headed.

“Do you need to?” The query is for her wellbeing alone. He slides an arm beneath Emily's shoulders so he can pull her close again. “Right now, I mean. Or even in the immediate future? Because we can skip out of here and let him figure out the rest of…” He pauses to angle a look in the direction of her shoes.

“…I don't even know.”

He's not quite sure he wants to know. The smell distantly reminds him of the tunnels that connect the various islands to the city proper. Devon grins as though none of it really matters, and he settles as though to nap some more. “Then he’ll have to call and you can choose when you want to deal with him again.”

Emily smiles, but it’s a pained thing, accompanied by a pained noise. Does she need to go face what lies down the hall? Or can she turn that small distance into something much larger? One arm is bundled by her side, hand nestled between them both, and it tenses into a loose curl in her discomfort as she faces both potential scenarios, finding she likes neither of them. She turns her face into the pillow in an attempt to burrow it, her hair mussing in a halo above her head. “I don’t know.” she says at first.

“I wish.” she adds a moment too long later. Devon’s settling down again, his arms scooping around her brings her to open her eyes. Somehow, the beginning stages of giving in reminds her she can’t, and she resists the urge to sit up right away. “I wish it were that easy. But I bear a small part in this, too. A bit of responsibility. Even—” Her voice softens, mellows. “Even if it’s misplaced.” almost sounds melancholy.

Because the situation going on was happening between multiple grown-ass adults with their overgrown problems, and almost certainly would have never involved her if her father hadn’t thought he could use her to his advantage.

Another small note of distress leaves her and her eyes close again as she remembers why she’d been called at all, and her arm reaches around him in return. Despite the tension in her chest, she remembers to breathe finally and finds relief in how it smells of Devon. (It also smells of her shoes, a little, but mostly of Devon. Good enough.) It dawns on her she’s not even told him half of what’s occurred and the tension in her arm slacks, fingers still pressed to his back with ripples of his shirt caught between them. “I need to talk to her. Yell at her. Figure out… why all this happened.”

“Not for them,” Emily insists in a small murmur. “For me.” But she knows as much as she wants, deserves to know the truth about what happened here, it’s not just for her sake she’s asking. She takes in a sharp breath, adding with edge, “And yell at him, too.”

That was an important item on the to-do list. “Not just for me. For Nathalie, too.”

“It happened because too many people don't know how to handle their shit.” It wasn't a requested opinion, but Devon gives it anyway in a hushed, restive voice. “The war and all the conspiracy that led up to it left a lot of people wrecked and some just can't handle it at all.” Like himself, for example. He handles his problems like a champ.

He leans forward and lightly kisses Emily's forehead. It's the seal for his wisdom on the matter.

“So what did or didn't he do this time?” Honestly curious, Dev half opens his eyes like it were a prompt for story time. Maybe it is. “And what did she do aside from something obviously stupid?”

The way Devon asks about what it is Avi's done now is oddly grating, even as Emily accepts it without comment. She shakes her head, hand stroking down his back gently. "He only called me up here because he wanted to use my ability," she says, like it's nothing. Like it's not heartbreaking.

Like it's not the first time he's called her in over a year, and it was for the equivalent of asking to borrow money. Except worse.

After a pause, she adds tepidly, "As for Eileen— she nearly killed Francois." Her eyes open, gaze flitting up to him. "Nathalie stabilised him. He'll be all right. But something tricked Eileen, possibly, into doing what she did."

"She was shot and nearly died herself down in that big stove in the basement here though, so, whatever." Emily mutters.

While the story explains both the smell and the circumstances, it leaves Devon at a loss for what to say. Avi is a problem he knows he can’t solve no matter how much he’d want to. Eileen… last he’d known the avian telepath was dead. It wasn’t vocalised then, nor is it now, but there was some mild surprise to learn it was her he’d helped carry into the Bunker. But like the major, he doesn’t know what to do about her either.

The mystery of Eileen is even greater than the mystery of Avi.

He lifts a lock of hair from Emily’s face and tucks it near her ear. “Do you want to talk about the details?” Dev watches Emily’s expression as he voices the invitation. “I can sit here and listen if you want to complain or yell. Nothing you say’ll leave this room.”

At first, Emily knits her brows, head shaking. No, she's said enough. Definitely doesn't need to say any more. Merely acknowledging what she has, even brusquely, is enough opening up.

Then she considers how well she might hold it together if she got up and left now, and sobers instantly.

"He's just an idiot," she murmurs, tired. Her eyes are heavy after everything that's happened. "He gets himself so fucking worked up, he…" Emily tapers off with a pained sigh. She doesn't want to talk about it, necessarily. She lifts one hand to scrub at her face, heel of her palm over her eyes momentarily to will them to be less tired. "I'm never gonna know what to do with him. What to make of him. Every day it's a different him. He's never the person he was before I was angry at him, but that's because I was too young to know, too— little to see the context around him. I… I don't know." She takes in a sharp breath. "There's that and then time happened, the war happened, and that shit changed everybody." Even if it only barely changed her, she knows the opposite is true for so many other people— that there's very little the war didn't change for them.

Tired as she is, reflecting on that, her forehead wrinkles again. She thinks she remembers something in the fog of thinking about her life leading up to the war. But she lays it aside.

"I keep trying to build him up, give him a chance, and every fucking chance he gets he does his best to tear it down, it feels like. I mean— I'm glad he fucking called. You know? I'm glad if it was anyone, it was me. I— I stopped him, I think. Either from him killing her or just letting her die down there. I want to believe that somewhere deep down he called me because he wanted a second opinion on his shitty judgment call, not because he wanted to use me for my ability."

She wants to, anyway.

"I want to find some way to make all of this work, being a family," Emily confides, tears gathering in her lashes. "But I want it to not just be the shitstorms that earns me a phone call. I don't want to— have to earn them, period." She rubs her face again, smearing the gathered moisture away from her eyes which are either closed or so heavily lidded they might as well be. "But I'm not going to get that. Not now. Maybe not ever. Maybe the next fucking time you guys go on a mission he gets shot in the face instead of the kevlar next time, and I'll just— have to find a way to deal with that, too." Her voice tightens and then unfurls just as quickly, making (false) peace with that potential reality as it comes from her.

"Maybe I should just give up on it after all, because that's the only possible end-outcome for this, if he doesn't leave all this behind," she says as she pushes herself slowly back up into a sitting position. "Which he won't," Emily knows. "Because he's too far into this. Too much of his life has been put into it. If you can't leave it behind, how could he?" She looks down at Devon with that tired expression from before, shoulders barely shifting in a helpless lump of a shrug. "He's been through at least twice as much as you have, for twice as long. I don't think he even fucking knows how to pretend to be normal."

Like she and Devon were, for example.

Emily rubs the corner of her hand along her eye again, ridding the last of the extra moisture. "In the meantime, I probably need to go make sure some kind of fucked up reverse-kidnapping scenario doesn't happen here. If there's handcuffs, find the keys. Possibly offer to be a getaway driver in the middle of the night or whenever the fuck we get out of here. Otherwise I'm not sure he'll let her out of his sight again." Emily sniffs, supposing drily, "You know?" Even if he doesn't, she shakes her head. "Even if they never resolve the shit between the two of them, and all… he doesn't just get to decide now he gives a shit and force her to stay if she doesn't want to."

In the long seconds it takes for Emily to choose to speak, Devon watches her. He recognizes the internal struggle, the silent debate where she's neither winner nor loser. There's little that he can offer aside from patience and presence. He relaxes slightly when she relents and begins talking.

His focus stays on Emily, eyes observing while she speaks. As much as he longs to make it all better, he doesn't try to interrupt or interject his thoughts, he leaves the wrinkles in Emily’s relationship with Avi alone.

Pulling Emily closer as she begins to run out of words, Dev hugs her tightly. Actions, after all, speak louder than words. Even if he had any words of wisdom, it's likely that he still wouldn't offer them. He tips his head and lightly kisses her forehead, then nestles his cheek against the top of her head. After a moment, he allows his arms to loosen, but he continues to hold Em close to him.

Words are so often fraught with the capacity to be misinterpreted, but that embrace isn't. It's a relief, actually, to be heard and not for someone to offer up some kind of immediate solution. For someone else to claim to see the single cog in their relationship which needs jostled to fix it up just right. Emily leans into Devon until she's emptied of words entirely, clearing her nose with a sniff to punctuate the whole event.

She sits in silence for a moment after. Instead of leaving, she brings forward another thought instead. "How do you deal with all of this?" she wonders aloud. "All this bullshit. How do you package it all up and pretend you're fine?" It's a poorly-kept secret that Devon is in fact not fine all of the time, but it's mostly those who know him who are able to see past the veneer. Otherwise, he puts on a great face.

It's true, he does put on a great face around those who don't know him well. Devon’s go to answer has always been I'm fine regardless of how easily anyone else could see he wasn't. Even knowing those closest to him will call him out on it. “I don't,” he objects quietly, with an air of distraction. Because he knows full well he does. Perhaps it's habit tricking him into answering a rhetorical question.

Though, maybe it's to be an example of how easy it is without admitting to the damage it's done. Despite knowing she can already see the damage.

He sighs a second later and kisses the top of Emily's head. “There's always been something else to focus on,” he hazards to guess. “I don't know. If I keep busy, then it's like the bad stuff… isn't so bad?” Even to his ears, it's a poor explanation for avoidance.

But, like saying I'm fine, it still avoids really explaining what he hides from himself and others.

“Yelling back can be cathartic sometimes.” Devon’s mouth quirks with a grin. “Dealing with actual people… I've yelled a bit. Thrown things… like soup. Sometimes it's the fastest way to circle to an understanding.” Sometimes just putting raw, unfiltered emotion is what's needed in the moment. It's the involvement in world-shattering events, the battles and kidnappings and random hate-driven attacks, that he tends toward bottling up after.

The half-smile is returned, even as Emily's gaze flickers uncertainly about his reply. Running from one kind of problem by charging straight into another didn't even seem like a good coping method in the end— just a way to make things worse in the long run. But that's not something for her to judge on, not now.

She'd asked him a question and he'd given her his honest answer.

She sighs forcefully, eyes closing before she opens them with a smile that's bright and forced, looking to Devon out of the corner of her eye. "I'll just go yell at them, then— see how that goes for me," Emily suggests. She pats Devon's thigh twice. "That always works well, right?" Then she's rocking forward off the bed and onto her heels.

"We'll talk more when I get back?" Her voice drops to a murmur with the ask.

Devon makes a bit of a face at Emily's decision to leave, but he doesn't actually protest. Everyone deals with things in their own way, after all. He flops over, scoots toward the edge of the mattress to make a grab for her hands. “If yelling doesn't work, you could try electroshock therapy.” He's joking about that suggestion. Probably. Trying to ease the tension before she can get all worked up again.


He gives Em’s hands a squeeze, sobering somewhat. “Yeah,” he says, “we can talk when you get back.” Devon releases her hands so he can drag himself out of bed. “I've got some work I can do here while you rattle some heads.”

When her hand is grabbed, Emily turns back in toward the bed. The joke is met with a small smile and the huff of a breath of laughter. Her thumb passes over the tops of his knuckles even as she leans away, letting the tie of their hands together be the only thing holding her in place. Except, when he lets go, she merely rocks on her heels and stays in place, waiting for him to sit up proper.

She steps back in, wrapping her arms around his shoulders, one hand cradling the back of his head as she pulls him to her. Emily presses a kiss to his forehead, almost against his hairline. "I love you," she voices, the utterance casual, spoken with the same easiness employed as she lets her fingertips trail through his scalp and then down the side of his face.

It's just something he needed to know before she went off to rattle the aforementioned heads.

The moment brings a small smile to Devon's face. “I know,” is his murmured answer while gazing up at her. “I love you, too.” His arms wrap around Emily's waist and he hugs her tightly, head resting against her stomach.

He sighs after a moment, but this time doesn't let her go to yell at people. There's plenty of time for that to happen, even if he delays Emily for a bit longer. In fact, “You don't need to go right now,” he offers. “Their heads will still need rattling later.”

Emily appears to entertain that thought, her touch lingering on his jaw while she looks down at him. She doesn’t smile again, letting her eyes close as she embraces him more tightly with the other arm. “I do, though,” she murmurs. “Have to make the most of this moment. Never know what crazy thing might happen next, rob me of the chance to go yell at them now.”

She says on an inhale, “I’ll be just down the hall.” Her hand comes up to ruffle his hair as she pulls back. Her steps are heavy as she untangles herself from him, even when he tries his best to hold onto her. It’s tempting to stay and postpone potential confrontation a few moments longer, but…

With a touch of humor, she remarks, “I think they’ve been given enough of a reprieve.”

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