Balmy Weather


emily4_icon.gif devon2_icon.gif

Scene Title Balmy Weather
Synopsis Just kidding. It's a fucking heatwave out there.
Date July 19, 2019

Laudani-Epstein Townhome, Sheepshead Bay

It's not exactly the safest position, sitting on top of the awning over the porch of the Laudani-Epstein townhome, but it's become a spot Emily appreciates climbing to — even if she'd be terrified if she ever saw her kitten climb up here.

At the moment, it provides a perfect vantage point for watching the spire of water pluming out of a fire hydrant down the block. The thin teen hmphs at it, pulling her legs closer to herself and wrapping her arms around her shins to lay her cheek on her knee, hair framing her face. "Second time this week," she murmurs, both impressed at the rebel's bravery for hitting the same spot twice, and less than pleased that someone is going to have to stop by to shut it off again soon.

In the meanwhile, it made for great people-watching. And maybe she's even a little envious, despite the shade she's currently sweating in, leaning up against the side of the house.

Soon isn't now, and it isn't just the neighborhood kids taking advantage of the cold spray.

Devon pauses in his hike to take a break from the sweltering heat and engage in some splashing. There's time, the bus was actually early. Probably because no one wants to be stuck in the oven known as the Safe Zone. He kicks at the flooding on the ground, both sending water flying every direction and soaking his shoes and the bottoms of his shorts.

Once the gaggle of kids has that idea figured out, he calls it mission complete. He doesn't need to show up at Emily's dripping wet. The shoes are probably bad enough.

They squelch for a few steps as moisture is forced from them. It'll take a night at least before they're dry again. The rest, well, another hour outside ought to do it.

Leaving the sounds of play and rushing water behind, Dev raises his eyes to look at the familiar fronting of houses. The place Emily shares with Teo isn't too far away now. He checks his watch, then leans into an easy jog. There's still time he could be early instead of just in time. Or late.

The emergence of someone familiar from the mist leads to Emily's posture slowly straightening. At this distance, she thinks she knows who she's seeing, and her heart lightens in her chest, thrumming without doing anything as pesky as beating into her ribcage. A smile touches her lips as she watches Dev splash around in the pooling water with the kids, and her chin settles on her knees again.

Her brow twinges, the sentiment behind it not fully known to her as she watches him break into a canter toward the house. Exhaling a quiet chuff of amusement, Emily brushes her nose against her thigh before lifting her head up to call down to him. "If you think you're coming inside sopping wet like that, you've got another thing coming," she advises, a hint of mirth curling around her voice. She sits up straighter in the shadow, loosing the tight angle her legs are folded at.

"You enjoy yourself?" Emily asks a bit more earnestly as he approaches the house.

The voice above brings a lift of Devon's head. He'd been intent on the door that he hadn't expected anyone above. It prompts him to walk backward a few steps, returning to the edge of the sidewalk so he can look up at Emily.

He smiles once spotting her, and abandons pretense of going inside. He folds his arms against his chest, amusement entering into his expression. “I did,” he admits, with a shoulder rolling in the direction of the fire hydrant. “Water feels good on days like this.” Last time he'd enjoyed the refreshing spray from a broken hydrant was the summer before the war. It was hot then, too.

Dev tilts his head, looks around for a way up to the roof that isn't through the house. Of course, he'd likely face Emily's wrath anyway, just because. “So, you expect me to climb up there or you coming down?” It's more of a musing than it is a question, spoken with a grin and an amused look up at Em again.

Emily only lets out a disgruntled note, coming to her feet without the affect of anyone actually grumbling. Wordlessly, she plants a hand on the side of the house like a guide to help bring her back around the side of the house and indoors again through her window. She walks with bold bare feet.

When the front door of the townhome creaks open, though, she has a pair of flip flops in hand, just in case. "Kettle, please," she begs the mewling, long-legged kitten. Its eyes scrunch as it more boldly talks back as her before being nudged inside with a swipe of a bare leg, the door shut quickly behind Emily before the cat has the chance to follow her out again.

"We let him out on the porch the other night while having a drink…" she explains, standing on the wood rather than the warm concrete below. "Now he's obsessed. Do people walk their cats? I seriously might have to buy a leash."

Only then does Emily offer the semblance of a more proper greeting, a warm if tired smile. "Hey," she says, leaning forward to peck a kiss on Devon's cheek.

When Emily disappears into the house, he stays studying the side of it. He could probably make that climb, it doesn't look very challenging. Those thoughts break when the door opens and he meets the query with raised brows and a grin. “I've heard of cats being trained,” Dev answers, shoulders shifting through a casual shrug.

His steps up onto the porch, grin easing into a smile when she leans in. His arms drop from his chest to slip around her waist, a tilt of his head lets him innocently meet her kiss with his own. “Hey,” he echoes.

Turning slightly, he casts a quick look toward the street. “Those kids've probably never had a good water fight,” Devon muses. He looks at Emily again, brows raising a second time. “You up for it? Before they close the valve? It'll beat the heat for a little while.”

Emily leans away from the embrace at first, at least until the second arm drops around her. Uninterested in getting wet herself, it seems, but not so much as to actively fight against it. "So maybe we get him one of those little harnesses, then. Travel cat. Adventure cat?" Her register lilts as she tries out the different monikers, not seeming overall attached to any one idea over the other. She shakes her head, not quite looking up at Devon.

Then he asks his question and her gaze darts up to him, eyebrow arching at him. "Up for…" she trails off, knowing just what he's asking. She looks down the road at the spout of water, her look becoming more guarded. "What?" Emily voices rhetorically, shifting away from the topic physically with a small shuffle of her shoulders. "No way," she states, dismissive without heart into it. She sounds cautious about it — the act crosses some invisible line she can't put words to.

When she realizes how silly it is, her brow knits together. Her grip flexes around her flip flops, gaze unmoving from the waterspout and the puddles around it.

“What.” Devon's counter argument is more statement and less question. He follows Emily's gaze to the geyser, even leans his head to approximate precisely where she's looking. Is there some No Splashing, No Fun Having sign around that he missed? Her refusal and apprehension is a little puzzling.

A moment passes, and he returns to looking at Emily. Turning and tipping his head slightly, he tries to catch her gaze.

“You okay?” Concern mingles with confusion. Dev lifts a hand to brush against Em’s forehead then rest on her cheek. The heat can cause some strange but serious health problems. “We could just sit in the shade, drink some water instead.”

Emily continues to look toward the water, brow furrowed. Something like regret passes through her eyes, but it vanishes with the touch to her face. Her gaze unfocuses, refocuses with a flit to to Devon. "I dunno, maybe I came down with a case of rabies and I'm just plain hydrophobic," she suggests halfheartedly, forcing a smile. Her weight shifts hard onto one leg and she shakes her head. She's fine, she'd say, but she forgets to.

"How've you been?" she asks instead, eyes seeking his.

Devon’s hand falls away. The grin he musters doesn't do much to mask the needle of worry that's prickling. His brows knit slightly but, for once, he doesn't press on it. He looks into Emily's eyes, searching for… something solid. Whether affirmation that she's truly well or an explanation for her sudden aversion to fun, he isn't certain.

“I'm okay.” His answer is given after a moment. His hand half raises again, but instead of reaching out he uses it to rub the back of his neck.

"Liar," Emily states plainly, nudging his side. She smiles when that's done, teasing, "You want to go back and play in the water, don't you." A bit of honesty here, a bit of distraction there…

She drops her flip flops and noses her toes into them, taking Devon by the hand. "Come on," she says, already heading down the steps. Even if they didn't end up wetting their feet, maybe a walk would do them some good. At the very least, do them better than standing around awkwardly on the porch.

Her hand stays firmly in his, holding on with purpose. Letting go would be like releasing hold of a life-preserver while in a tempestuous sea, but she has trouble looking his way for any significant period of time.

Dev’s mouth sets for casual dismissal of the idea. It was simply a suggestion, a brief break from the summer heat. But Emily's teasing segues into a decisiveness so smoothly and quickly that actually stops the quasi-argument before it begins.

He lets himself be led from the house, and for several seconds he still says nothing. Confusion tosses around the prickling worry prompting him to steal a look or three at Emily.

“You sure you're okay?” The question, that gentle prodding for clarification, finally comes before they're more than two houses away from their starting point. Devon slows his pace slightly and gives Em’s hand a squeeze to draw her attention to him. “Did something happen?”

Emily nods once, the action tense even through all her feigned lightness and nonchalance. "Plenty of things. Weeks ago. And I've been worried about them ever since, but I've been trying not to let it get to me."

The words leave her so quickly and decisively, without any break in her own pace. Devon's slowing forces her to look back for a moment, and then she just as quickly looks ahead again, conceding to the milder pace.

"I'm just … having trouble figuring out how to handle it all, Dev." she admits, more tired than she was a moment before. "Every day I wake up and I feel different about it. Some days I forget, and others, I get anxious about every little thing. About the things I can do and things I can't."

Emily realizes then there's chunks of context missing. Instead of filling in all the gaps, she swings for the largest. "I found out what my ability is."

There's no prodding or prompting as there would have been a year ago. Devon listens concerned and without judgement, only giving Emily's hand a squeeze to remind her that she's not alone while she tries to explain. He can relate, even without knowing the details that have her worried. Trying to understand how to handle anything in life is difficult at best, especially with the little nuances and remembering after going nearly a day without —

He doesn't exactly stop when she drops the news of her ability. But he does slow until her forward motion tugs him to her side again.

“It's like going through puberty all over again, isn't it,” Dev deadpans. There's commiseration in his tone, but he also angles a small smile at Emily. It's something to be excited and nervous and a plethora of other emotions about all at once. “So what's your special power?”

Emily can only let out a small laugh, her hand tightening around Devon's. "Sure, something like that," she allows, eyes on her feet while she walks. The question he asks is a logical one, it should be easy to answer, too, but the words don't come. She finally shakes her head. "It's…"

Not knowing how he might react keeps any explanation from taking flight. Her gaze wanders as she tries to work up the courage to just say it, but she worries about the how. Once she says it, it can't be taken back.

"I'm afraid what you'll think," Emily admits, more timid about it than she means for it to be. "I mean, I still don't know what to think."

“Is it something really bad?” Dev angles a look at Emily, brows raising. He's not known her to be timid. Dodgy sure, but timid? “Do you like… I don't know. Secrete gross smells? Turn objects into glitter?” He tilts his head slightly to get a better look at her. “Telepathy?”

He's teasing now, clearly trying to lighten the mood. “Whatever it is, don't worry. We’ll get through it together.” That part is certainly true, the honesty of it is in his gaze, even while his tone still notes he's joking.

Lifting their joined hands, Devon taps a small kiss to the back of Emily's. “I will keep an open mind,” he promises more seriously. “And we will figure this out.”

Emily's look crumples at the suggestion it might be something bad, words caught. Then he makes one ridiculous suggestion after the other, her look coming back together with each one until he gets to something more reasonable. "Hey, I think telepathy wouldn't have been half-fucking bad, okay?" she says, walking so her elbow roughly nudges his side on their next step. She's smiling to herself, though, so that's something.

His promise that they'll get through it elicits a nod from her. She lets out a steadying sigh, and nods again with more certainty. "Dev, I can— if I strongly believe in things, I can make other people believe in them too," she says before she gets the chance to lose her nerve for it, looking in his direction but not at him. There's no cringe, no indication of vulnerability. She's thrown up a cautious shield, waiting for his hand to slide from hers, for him to need a second to work through that.

"I didn't bring it up before because … I had to take time for myself to figure out if I'd used it on you on accident. If we ended up together because I made you believe in something without meaning to." Her head twitches in the beginning of a shake. "But then I realized there's no way. Not with how many times I tried to run you off and you didn't listen to me."

She tries to smile, but it sucks away the rest of her energy and her pace slows to a rolling stop. "So that was a relief," Emily mutters. "But it's why— why I've not really reached out this month."

Devon actually chuckles quietly at Emily's assertion about telepathy, and he foregoes the joking complaints that usually follow her shows of playful violence. It's supposed to be a somewhat serious conversation, or at least a sober one. His humor eases, the teasing edge softens as he tilts his head to better look at Emily.

His expression falls slightly as she begins to explain. Not at how the ability works, though there's a cautious flicker of thought about that, but at it being the reason she'd distanced herself. Of course, he can't blame her. The experiences of learning about your ability, no matter what you can do, are rough.

It is just like going through puberty all over again. And all the awkwardness of adolescence.

He looks ahead, to the sidewalk several feet ahead of their footsteps. Dev’s hand does slip from hers, but only after she's slowed and almost stopped. However, it's only so he can draw her into a tight hug.

“I could've told you that,” he offers after a moment. Likely he could have. He's lost plenty of hours of sleep over his own feelings for her, and then he only really understood them while facing the most uncomfortable conversation known to humankind. He isn't about to bring up his talk with Avi, though. “But it's also good that you came to the same conclusion on your own.”

Tension builds in Emily's chest as she feels the energy in the conversation, in him change when she makes her admission, and he reacts to it. It's a stab, as much as she tried to prepare for it. When his hand goes from hers, the knife slides free, and it robs her of breath. Emily closes her eyes, her pace halting.

And then Devon slips his arms around her into that firm embrace.

For a moment she does nothing, still but not unreceptive. She doesn't move, she doesn't even breathe. But finally, her hands slowly rise to grasp him loosely in return, her emotional state impossible to read by it. After he speaks, she lifts her head up to look at him, expression still guarded, eyes searching his. The blue of them eases back from being icy points, her walls shifting.

She finally inhales, a tight, pained note accompanying it.

"You're not freaked out?" Emily asks, eager but doubting that can entirely be the case. Her hands stay laid resting on his shoulders, fingers curling around the fabric of his shirt. "I mean, I don't even know entirely how to trigger it. I don't know when I've done it in the past. I—"

Devon's answer to those worries is to interrupt Emily's ramblings, but he doesn't form any comforting words. He gazes into her eyes as if silence alone could help her understand. But as she struggles to explain, he tips his head and leans close enough to still her lips with his own.

After a few seconds he leans back slightly, just enough to rest his forehead against hers. “I'd be freaked out if you'd manifested prehensile hair,” he admits quietly, “or some kind of weird secretion, like patchouli.” A faint grin follows the comment, and he lifts his head, replacing its weight with a light kiss.

“I'm curious about your ability.” He is, but not because he's afraid of it. “Empaths are… not rare, but…” Unsure exactly what he's trying to get at, Dev shrugs. A smile follows, one that's both apology for his own lack of explanation as well as assurances he isn't put off by Emily's new found powers.

Emily's already weak grip on Devon falls away when he kisses her, arms falling back to her side while her face warms with head. When he leans away she lets out a small note of protest, all the better for arguing that a kiss isn't really a reply, but he carries on with his explanation and the half-vocalized argument against him dies. The second kiss is mulled over, her only response to halfheartedly mumble, "I don't even know what patchouli is." She shakes her head at him, only seeing him out of the corner of her eyes as she looks away.

Apparently, though, her anxiety isn't pressing as badly anymore. One of her hands finds his so she can lift it, pressing a kiss to the backs of his fingers.

She's still not certain, but she's willing to take it for the moment.

Laying her head on his shoulder, she laces her fingers with his and starts walking again. "I'm a little curious, too, but it feels like something I should only use when it matters. Like it's not something to be fucked around with. You know?" she asks, the subject treated cautiously in a different way, now. Like it holds a great weight, rather than a great threat.

It's progress, for sure.

“It's gross,” is Devon’s murmured answer for what patchouli is. And that may be an understatement for something that smells like bug spray, old lady perfume, and something died. He lets it go at that.

Because no one really wants to know what patchouli is.

He nods as Emily talks through her thoughts, content with their wandering pace and just listening. A glance slides her way, and one corner of his mouth ticks up slightly. “With great power,” he begins the quote, theatrics muted for the moment. He isn't making light of the situation, he gets the fear of it, but also he's hoping to show that it really isn't something to fear.

Insert that puberty analogy again.

“You'll do amazing things with it.” Dev tilts his head to rest it against Emily's again. “It's yours. You control how you use it and when. Or… well, when you learn how it works.”

Emily would laugh at Devon's dramatic gravitas, but she's too tired for it. It's probably not just the heat either. The echo of one escapes her anyway in traces as a sigh leaves her. "I will," she says with a confidence that contrasts with how she was speaking only moments ago. "We just have to wait and see."

She pauses in her step now, the first of the water kissing against her flip-flops. The ripples of them run over her toes, the pool on the sidewalk disturbed by the splashes of the kids playing close by. Emily's eyes rise to watch the spume of water, fall to watch the adults standing nearby. One darker-skinned man is backpedaling from it all with a grin, soaked and slicking his hair back away from his face while he talks to neighbors by his side, commenting about the experience with a gesture back to the water.

Closer, the energy of the kids laughing and splashing is harder to ignore, and Emily picks her head up off of Devon's shoulder. She starts to give a small smile when—

"Hey! He's back."

Devon becomes the excited target of a wide splash, created with a graze of a foot over the top of the water. Emily starts, legs ajumble as she stammers back away from the water with a look of shock. Then — desire for retaliation.

Dev tilts a look at Emily when she slows again, but the reason for it this time has him grinning. You can't not give in to the inner child when there's water spraying about on a hot day. He's just about to say as much when one of the voices catches his attention.

“Yeah,” Devon begins in, matching the kids’ energy with his words until…


“I am.” His tone falls into the low ranges of now you're in for it. He's amused by the bold attack and does nothing to stop it from drenching himself or Emily. In fact, he keeps hold of her hand so she can't escape the small wave either. “And I brought back up this time, so watch out.”

A half step and turn follows his obviously not serious warning. It sets him up to kick-stomp and slosh water right back at the youths.

The catching of her arm so she can't escape makes Emily exclaim, "Dev-on!" in a high-pitched squeal, mortified at the shoveling of water that hits her. It's a far more compromised position than she'd ever normally be caught in. Her pride takes it on the chin and keeps going, though.

But then she's declared as back-up. "Dev!!" Emily complains, at first overwhelmed with what to even do now, but she watches him wind up and quickly follows suit. She's a quick study.

Still, she shrieks, arms held up to try and keep her face and hair from getting wet as she sends a much-less-practiced spray of water back at the kids. They laugh, already soaked from the waist down, and lean into a vigorous counterassault. For all the supposed evening of the odds, Devon and Emily are still outnumbered two to one. "Oh my god," she cries out, dismayed and amused and excited all at once.

Her heart is racing, and for once it's not for a negative reason.

Devon only laughs at the outcome, as Emily voices complaint just before joining in, as they both get drenched. He releases her hand and takes a step forward. Small crests of water spray with the motion of his foot, ineffectual but purposeful. “Oh it's on now,” he calls out, playfully taunting the kids as they collectively splash water back.

The attack is staggered without sequence. The first shower catches Dev straight on — again — and he returns fire with a swift, arcing swing of his foot.

The motion has follow through. It turns him fully around to face Emily. She's given a smile. But then two fast steps take him past her. Another turn brings him up behind… where he can use her as a shield!

Devon turning back her way has Emily perking up with hope. Maybe he's got some strategy to make this work out. He's got to have a plan. Right?

At realizing his plan is to hide behind her, she lets out a gasp, brow arched high in dismay. "I am going to shove your head right over that spout, you little—!" she starts, all serious and swears. She has machinations of her own now, and he better watch out. Emily whips around to him, arms latching around his waist. She pulls with all her might to try and lift him off his feet and drag him closer to where the water is fountaining down over the street.

She means to make good on her word!

“Yeah, get him!”

Devon is surprised by both Emily counter-turning the tables and the kids cheering her on. That's not how this was supposed to go! He rolls with it, though, laughing, actually enjoying the game, the normalcy of it, when he's taken around the middle and pulled on.

She actually manages to get him on his toes for a couple of seconds. It's enough to make him drop his arms around her shoulders. For balance, honest. It wouldn't be great if they both fell — the water may be fun to play in but it sucks as a cushion against the concrete.

“Let me help!” Dev’s arms drop to Emily's waist and he hugs her tightly. But it isn't just another embrace, he actually lifts her and spins, a quick turn that, with any luck, will kick up enough water to drench the kids.

Hey, she actually manages to lift him! And she barely even stumbles for it. Emily lets out a victorious cry that's half-drowned by a laugh at her gambit actually seeming to work. Or at least, him letting her believe it is. She continues to stumble along with him, trying to drag him even if she can't carry him the whole way, when she feels his hands drop from shoulder to her waist.

She gasps as she feels herself lifted away, toes draping in the water. When they spin around, a cut of water follows, but it definitely doesn't splash outward at the kids. Emily clings to Devon's arms for dear life, unable to get her feet back under her properly she's so winded from the excitement. She's a mess of laughter that might sink to her knees in the water of questionable sanitation.

"En garde!" shouts a new contender as they leap into the foray, bearing a Super Soaker. Landing with a splash, a young boy sprays the other kids, and is followed by a girl who is the spitting image of him — save for the length of her hair, and birthmark that blooms over her cheek and forehead. She giggles as she goes chasing after them, her feet making a rippling mess of the puddles as the kids with the water guns chase away the kids who had been playing in the water.

Which just leaves Emily and Devon immediately by the hydrant, the former still laughing too much to stand.

With his arms still around her waist, Devon supports Emily's weight. Mostly. He laughs right along with her, but the activity, the spinning, leaves him a little unsteady. A couple of staggering steps are taken, meant to put a little distance between them and the Super Soaker.

“Don't let them escape,” he yells after the kids. The excitement in his tone is rewarded with shrieking laughter that fades as it rounds a corner. It makes him smile, and that he also shares with Emily.

His head turns and he looks at her. Mischief touches his eyes, but the smile remains true.

Even right up to when he moves.

Devon scoops Emily up, with one arm behind her knees and the other around her shoulders. “It's not over ‘til you're soaked,” he proclaims, loud and dramatic. He shifts his arms, cradling her snuggly against his chest while turning to the fire hydrant. And it's plume of water. “It's time to sacrifice!”

Sacrifice? Maybe she's supposed to be the sacrifice, but his melodrama tugs her memory.

"Dev, not my phone, not my phone!" Emily is suddenly all anxiety, no laughter, though she hasn't launched into a full panic yet. Her phone was a necessary extension of her being, one that wasn't easily replaced. It sends her into a fit of action, trying to struggle away from him to save at the very least her back pocket from being soaked. She's all flailing limbs and intensity in her burst of energy.

“It's not my place to deny the deities,” Devon explains. His theatrics carry on, while he carries Emily an entire step closer. That's as far as he manages before it turns into a comical wrestling match that is very much not unlike trying to get a cat into a bath.

Thankfully it's only elbows and knees he has to avoid and not claws and teeth.

At least not yet?

The flailing is met with helpless laughter and only a partial attempt to get another step nearer to the fountain of water. His hold fails, if only so he can defend himself from swinging limbs, and Emily is set on her feet, in the flood of water that's gathered from hydrant.

Devon backs away a couple of small paces, hands up defensively. “Okay. Okay, they can be appeased another way,” he chuckles.

"Deities fuckin' schm—" And then the angry cat is released from its trappings, Emily landing in a splash on her feet. It takes her a second, but she's relieved and starts to relax. Her hands lower and she nods reluctantly. A strangled sigh filled with relief leaves her in a wave of inconsistent breath.

"Yeah," she manages, trying to keep along with the conversation "like with brainfreeze? Maybe there's some place in this fucking heat that has ice cream."

She trudges forward out of the water, watching the sworl of oil and dirt on top of the water spin away from her legs until she steps on dry concrete again. "This thing probably only has another fifteen to twenty on its lifespan anyway. I'm sure someone's called the cops by now." At that, Emily finally thinks to pay attention to her neighbors, awkwardly lifting a hand to wave at one who's staring their way. She's seen him several times before and said hello, but she's still never exchanged names.

Maybe she'll grow out of her shell one day, but right now, she's ready to crawl back into it.

"… Might even be some in the fridge, still," she suggests in a small voice.

“I don't think anyone’s called,” Devon answers to Emily's observations. If it's anything like when he was a kid, someone will show up to close the hydrant once the spray has calmed to a simple pouring. He follows her wave with a look in the guy’s direction, a quick study and nothing more.

“Ice cream sounds perfect.” Turning to Emily, he follows her onto dry ground. Not that it matters much, he's soaked again. Or still. He twists the bottom of his t-shirt to wring the water from it, his shorts continue to drip at the hems. It'll dry eventually. Probably even sooner than later if he sits in the sun for a bit.

Leaving his damp clothing alone, Dev steps closer to Emily. “I'm sure frozen sugary desserts will appease the deities,” he decides with a small grin.

“Oh good,” Emily quips back with a roguish, unrefined grin of her own, her anxiety beginning to ease once she focuses again on him. “I’m glad to hear it.” She lifts onto the tips of her toes to peck his cheek decisively.

It’s odd walking away from it all on slippery feet, her flip-flops barely better than walking barefoot. Her spray-doused hair clings to her, curled from where wisps became plastered to her face. Honestly, her phone might be in trouble even without the additional shower. She takes the walk back up the block at a slow pace, in no rush.

She begins to hum the melody for Summertime, arms swinging by her side. Her eyes slide shut for a few steps as she basks in the moment — in the sun, in Devon’s presence by her side, and the general freedom she’s blessed with. It’s been seven months, and she’s no less grateful for it, no less cognizant of the change and everything it’s granted her.

The line tapers off into a more pleasant, generalized hum before she opens her eyes again. In reflecting on the serenity of the moment, the happiness of it, she finds herself remembering … everything else. All the reasons not to be at peace. Unanswered questions, missing parties, promises to keep, work to be done. The light dims in her eyes, her smile with only an echo of the strength it had before.

Her hand finds Devon’s again, fingers lacing with his.

A smile forms when Emily begins humming, and a glance angles her way. Devon takes comfort in the simplicity of these times, contented to be spending small moments like this with her. His eyes raise up, gazing at the blue overhead, the distant wisps of clouds. It gives him a feeling of peace and happiness that he holds tightly to.

His thoughts wander back when he feels her hands find his. Dev’s fingers tighten, giving Emily's hand a squeeze, a reminder he's there with her and somehow things will be okay. As his hand relaxes, but maintains its hold of hers, he leans over and kisses her temple.

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