Bad Communication Skills


devon2_icon.gif emily_icon.gif

Scene Title Bad Communication Skills
Synopsis Some day, these two will get better at it. In the meantime, at least they get each other.
Date November 16, 2019

Near The Watchtower

"I'm sorry." seems as good a start to this conversation as any. "I didn't mean for you to learn how you did."

Emily looks off, peering down the end of the alley she pulled Devon off into as much to get out of the wind as to immediately procure a small amount of privacy for themselves. She'd quickly became alarmed and texted him when she'd stepped out of the office and found him missing, and on finding him pacing outside decided not to wait any longer than necessary to speak up.

That had lasted less than a block. And here they were.

He hadn't managed to form a reply to the text, nor had he found words in the short walk once Emily found him outside. And now, with his back leaned against the cold brickwork of a building backing the alley, Devon is still without words.

He watches Emily, his brows furrowed with worry, uncertainty. Anger, directed everywhere but at her, is an undercurrent.

Twice he opens his mouth and twice any words refuse to form. Dev breathes a quiet sigh and looks down. His jaw works over his thoughts and, slowly, he begins putting words together. “You don't… you don't need to apologize. You didn't… I'm sorry. I'm sorry that… what happened happened, that I wasn't there for you. That I… left back there.”

Emily lifts her shoulders in a shrug, ignoring the way it shifts the angry, bandaged skin on her neck. It’s hidden away again under her scarf rounded twice so it can’t be seen. If it can’t be seen, it’s as good as not there, right?

“I didn’t call you,” she points out, hands in the pockets of the dark green hiking jacket she wears. “I think that entitles you to not know what to feel when hit with a fucking brick wall of news— and then being separated from me about it— and then…”

Her gaze drops, brow knitting together as she scowls at the ground. “Me, not wanting to talk about it.”

She’s angry, then, even if she doesn’t know at what. Emily rocks from one foot to the other, leaning into a pace with her eyes still averted from him.

“The first time, I didn't want to talk about it either.” Devon’s eyes lift enough to watch Emily's pacing. He still doesn't want to talk about it, about any of the things he's been through, seen, done. He understands the trauma, the desire to put it behind and move on.

“You don't need to talk about it.” He might be angry over how he'd found out, but it's just a small knot in the tangle of emotions he's still trying to make sense of. “I mean, I wish… that I'd’ve known something happened. But…” But he wouldn't have pushed for the story. Not right away.

“You know I'm here for you?” Devon finally looks up, conflicted, afraid above all else. “Good or shitty or whatever.” He shifts away from the wall and reaches for Emily. “Even if it's just to sit with you while you figure things out.”

Those words draw Emily's gaze back up— the first time. Her look becomes guarded, her frustration still on full display. First time?? Like somehow it's his fault she didn't know he'd ever gone through something like this. Her eyes flicker, going back to previous conversations— about the Dome— but her train of thought blows right past. "I don't," Emily agrees nearly through grit teeth. "Want to talk about it."

In a perfect world, that'd be the end of it. But in a perfect world, she'd not have said it the way she had.

His reminder to her wounds her unexpectedly, punching a hole in her angry veneer and letting all the hot air escape. "I know that," Emily chokes out. "—I know that, Dev." The lack of a phone call or text hangs heavy over that admission, begging for a reason to be given. "I just…"

His hand falls short of touching her arm, as he watches Emily shift through emotions. His elbow drops first and his hand follows slowly to hang again at his side. “You don't have to talk about it,” Devon repeats quietly, promising that he won't be asking for more than he's already heard. He would label himself a hypocrite if he said anything different.

He shakes his head, not at her acknowledgment or the lack of reason. He shakes his head at the pained look that precedes it. Words have never been his forte. Give him a script and he can follow that flawlessly, but leave him to his own devices when it comes to conversation and emotion and he's likely to botch at every turn.

Instead of saying anything more at all, Devon takes a step. His shoes scuff against the cold pavement, grit crunches underfoot. In the space of a heartbeat, he closes the distance between himself and Emily and carefully draws her into an embrace. His arms wrap around her shoulders, protective and solid and mindful of the wounds. “It's water under the bridge,” he murmurs, hopeful that this path can be navigated.

At first it seems like Emily might protest, shove Devon away. She flinches when his reaction is to comfort her, standing still after.

Her shoulders slowly lose their tension, her face finding his shoulder. It's possible she doesn't breathe at all for how her chest fails to rise and fall, but her arms slowly lift to grab at his as he embraces her. The grip around him tightens as he murmurs into her hair, that spark of anger still in there. "How can you say that?" she demands, the fight in it weak. "You don't know that. I don't. It just happened. And…"

Her head starts to turn before her neck protests, and she lets out a hiss of frustration into his shoulder, holding on all the more fiercely. "I didn't want you to know. I didn't want you to have to know. If I could, I'd just take it all back, and…" Emily still sounds so angry, the toe of one foot scuffing the ground as she shifts her weight. It's all the better to hold onto Devon like he might disappear otherwise, and give herself space to breathe in case she starts to cry. She definitely isn't already, either, and definitely doesn't need the space for that reason. Nope.

"I'm sorry," she apologizes, finally taking a notable breath in. "I'm— I'm sorry." It's vague, perhaps all-encompassing. But apparently she feels it needs said.

“When I said I wanted to be with you,” Devon explains gently, his voice still quiet. “I didn't mean only when things are good.” That's how he knows. He rests a hand against the back of Emily's head, holding her all the closer. “I know you're used to taking care of yourself, doing things without help, not having someone you can rely on. But… You can rely on me. Always. No matter what it is.”

It sounded better in his head, but he doesn't try to elaborate or make it sound better. He strokes his hand down Emily's hair, turns his cheek to her head.

He sighs slowly, a long and deep breath in and out. “I'm sorry, too.” Devon's voice drops almost to a whisper. The news had struck him in ways he didn't know were possible and he reacted badly. He shouldn't have left, should've kept a tighter lid on his anger. “I'm sorry, too.”

"I know," Emily murmurs, a repetition made numerous times. "I know. I know." She rocks back and forth in his embrace, the hollows of her eyes never leaving his shoulder while she holds onto him. The skin on her face is irritated from tears, but they're not there if she doesn't acknowledge them, right?

She finally takes in another shudder of a breath, trying to clear her throat. "And you're right. I'm just… I don't want to need to rely on you. I want to be there for you." It's silly, but she can't stop herself from saying it: "I'm not the one who's supposed to fall apart. I'm supposed to be fine. Everything— should be fine. I should be able to keep my head above the water. I shouldn't… need to…"

Out of steam, she just shakes her head in frustration, her embrace turning into a bearhug. "I know I'll be fine, but I'm fucking scared right now. And I'm not— you're supposed to see it all after I've got my shit marginally more together, Dev." The anger is swept from her voice in llave of something more tired. "This already isn't fair, you know?" A pause, that tiredness seeping in. "Everything fucking hurts." comes from her low, but she doesn't loosen her hold to seek out a possibly more comfortable stance.

"What happened?" she asks abruptly on an exhale, trying to redirect from her ramble. "—to you?"

“You are,” Devon interjects early on. There for him. It's all he tries to get out as Emily continues speaking. Getting her talking, even if it's only to remind him of her independent nature, is better than floundering at explaining sensitive subjects. His head shifts in a small nod as she opens up a tiny bit. He understands and, more importantly, he's listening.

He hesitates to answer her question. It isn't a surprise that Emily would ask, but he's reluctant to answer. Maybe more so given the circumstance.

The answer is chewed over. He picks his head up just enough to look toward the mouth of the alley. “Later,” he decides on. “Soon, I promise. Emily…” Saying her name follows a short pause, and his voice trails off as words scatter.

Devon's hand finds Emily's cheek, thumb brushing away at the dampness that clearly, obviously, spontaneously manifested. He says nothing of it, doesn't give any notice. “You're amazingly strong, resourceful, independent,” he says slowly, carefully. “I love all those things and more about you. But… you're allowed to not be, too. You don't always need to have your shit together with me.”

She would reiterate that she knows, but she's said that enough already. Even so, it takes some time before her eyes find his. Her cheek leans into his palm in silence, one hand snaking back from around his torso so she can lay her palm over his knuckles. Emily swallows hard, her eyes glistening with something vulnerable that's defensively guarded by abruptly closing her eyes. She knows, even if she's not used to letting down her walls. Not like this.

"I love you too," she murmurs, because that's the most she can offer at the moment.

A small smile hitches up one half of Devon's mouth, eyes lighting up, his earlier anger packed away and replaced with a warmth throughout. There's still some bitches to deal with, eventually, but in this moment that's set aside. He hugs Em tightly, cheek resting upon her head. Then, a heartbeat later, he tilts his head and lightly kisses her.

Leaning back slightly, he studies Emily. Expressions tell a lot, even when trying to keep emotions masked. Worry for her still threads through him, but he doesn't press for more than she's already shared.

“Let's go home.” One time it would have been an odd, even awkward suggestion, with too many variables to even consider. Now, it's a comfortable offering without an opinion. It's given to Emily to choose where to go for shelter from the chilly air, the alley, the bad memories.

Emily leans her shoulder into his as she starts to walk beside him, heading back for the sidewalk. Her fingers are trembling as they find his palm again, holding on tightly. She lets out a forceful sigh in an attempt to bluster her way past the more complicated emotions of the moment and keep moving forward.

“Yeah,” she agrees, despite still not knowing where exactly her feet are going to lead them. “Let’s go home.”

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